Sunday, March 29, 2015

SweetLeaf Organic Stevia® Sweetener Review

About a year ago I decided to try and start cutting sugar out of my life. I haven't always been the best about it, but I started small (well actually big for me) by cutting it out of my morning coffee. If you know me at all, you know that was a huge thing for me. I tried going to straight black coffee, but I just couldn't do it after training myself for years of drinking coffee with my sugar. So I switched to honey, and amazingly enough it has worked well for me. However, I've been doing a little reading over the past few months about how honey still affects blood sugar and I kept hearing about stevia. I've tried it a little bit here and there, but never fully tried using it.

When I was given a chance to review SweetLeaf Organic Stevia Sweetener from Moms Meet, I was excited to see if I would notice a difference at all. I liked that it is a certified organic, zero-calorie sweetener made from high-quality stevia leaves. I've done enough research in the past on stevia to know that this is not always the case. I liked that you can use it to sweeten pretty much anything, hot or cold, even roasted chicken or turkey! Being it contains no artificial ingredients, calories, carbohydrates, or glycemic response, it makes it perfect for managing blood sugar or calorie intake.

I'll admit, I wanted to use it in baking but I just don't make enough sweets and so I never got around to trying it. I did however try it in my beloved coffee. I was super nervous doing so, but was pleasantly surprised that it tasted good. It still probably would not be my first choice, as I feel that stevia has an aftertaste that I cannot seem to get around no matter what. Overall, especially if I was wanting to be more health conscious, I would definitely use it. I'm looking forward to having some time to try it in baking in the future.

Make sure you check out their website and Facebook page for more information, including some great recipes on cooking with SweetLeaf Organic Stevia Sweetener.

I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet Program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product.

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

When Love Doesn't Look Like the Movies

I'm a hopeless romantic....I can't help it. Once a year, I have to watch Anne of Green Gables and somehow even though I know Anne chooses Gilbert Blythe in the end, I have to see it for myself. The same goes for Pride & Prejudice. I have to watch it just to make sure Elizabeth chooses Mr. Darcy in the end. The part in You've Got Mail in which Joe Fox comes over to a sick Kathleen Kelly's house and helps tuck her into bed, it gets me every single time.

Darn those Hallmark movies around Christmas and Valentine's Day too, because there I am clutching Kleenex in my hand at the oh-so-expected ending of the good guy ending up with the good girl.

Even though I know that each of those movies ends the same way, with the guy kissing the girl, I can't help but smile.

It seems so perfect.

The reality is, the books and movies never tell you what happens after that kiss. They leave you thinking he is perfect for her and that it will all be amazing in the years to come. A part of me always wonders if that is how it really is, but the other part of me already knows.

I know that there are tough times following the wedding. Days in which you wonder if you made the right decision to marry so young, or even to marry him. Nights in which you storm out of the house with your keys in your hand and refuse to answer the phone when he calls looking for you. But that first anniversary comes and you breathe a tiny sigh of relief, you have made it this far, you can probably make it another year, right?

Hollywood doesn't tell you that you won't see each other for four years as you both commit to finishing your college degrees and working on the side. That those times apart will practically rip your marriage right out from you. But that you grow up together through it.

They don't show you a positive pregnancy test that you both are ecstatic and nervous over. They don't show the real hard parts of pregnancy in which the girl throws up for 5 months straight, including once in bed much to your husband's surprise. You don't get to see the hard 24+ hour labor in which your hubby, so overwhelmed and scared, stays in a corner of the room cracking jokes, until the reality that his first baby is about to arrive makes him rush to your side. Fifteen months later you don't see the second positive pregnancy test that causes the girl to cry for fear of change and being sick once again. You don't get to see the hilarity of a husband rushing to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning, barely making it in time, and forgetting the camera in the car (which was his only assignment this time around), all to watch baby girl number two enter this world.

Hallmark doesn't tell you about the baby you will lose on a warm March day. They don't show your hubby becoming your rock in that time. They don't show his tears mixing with yours as you grieve together for what may have been. They also don't show you the utter joy and rush of traveling to southern Georgia on a hot July day to add the most beautiful little girl to your family. How you suddenly become a family of 5...just like that.

You don't get to see the financial struggles, business decisions, and everyday battles of trying to raise a family together. You don't get to see the fights on how to discipline your children, who will get up with them when one has a bad dream yet again, and who will clean up the throw up on the carpet (he will in case you are wondering).

The romance stories don't show you how somehow, despite birthing two kids, having a few extra pounds and extra marks on your body, your hubby can get home at the end of a long day and still desire you. How you will laugh with utter abandon at a joke he mumbles, no matter how corny it is. How you will dance in the kitchen together as he sings to you a country love song, country is his thing you know. You don't see the jokes over how cute he thinks Jane Seymour is, or the drawn on Adam Levine picture on your fridge to tease you over your crush on Adam.

The books don't tell you about the heartache that happens in your life in which your hubby's tears run freely with yours as you cry over something that will forever change your family. They don't tell you that he will practically have to force you to eat as you go through a deeper depression than you ever have been in. You don't get to hear the words, "I'm sorry hon, we will get through this together" whispered over the phone as you call him for the thousand time in complete tears not sure how you will make it through another day.

You don't get to see the no-makeup, crazy curly hair, yoga pants, and over sized sweatshirt she wears every single day, and yet he still walks in the door and tells her she is beautiful. You don't get to see the fight over the Valentine candy he brought home for his girls that she doesn't want him to give them because it has food dyes in it, and she is trying to eliminate them from their house. You also don't get to hear the meek, "I'm sorry" whispered later on.

Sigh........those movies and books don't show you much.

They show you the lovey dovey, butterflies in your tummy, new love stage, but they miss all the rest. Which is really too bad, because it is in those horrible, ugly, yet beautiful moments in your marriage, in which true love is born.

They forget that part in the books and movies. I'm glad really. Because no movie can show what true love really is. No book will ever capture completely the journey it takes to get there.

Between all the fights, giggles, heartaches, and utter tiredness, love is born.

Happy Valentine's Day, Christer! Thank you for loving me so well, through the good and the bad. Our love is better than any movie or novel could ever be! I love you!

To learn more of our love story, check out this post celebrating 10 years of marriage.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

My Phrase For 2015

2015 is here and I'm just now eking out my first blog post of the new year! Yay me!

I haven't felt the need to blog before now and since blogging is an outlet for me, I don't blog unless I need that outlet or feel led to do so. Since Friday I have felt very strongly that I needed to blog, specifically sharing the phrase I want to live out in 2015.

While some people have a certain word that is their goal for the year, I tend to focus on a phrase.

Last year, I felt SO strongly that I was to live my life out through a quote by Vincent Van Gogh (side note: he has always been my favorite artist).

I never blogged about it, and except for one small post on Valentine's Day via Instagram & then Facebook, no one would have ever known it was my phrase to live by last year. It permeated my life so completely that everything I did with my husband, my kids, my friendships, etc. this phrase was in the back of my mind. And guess what? Although it permeated my thoughts, I often failed it. Miserably.

And that's ok.

Because other times I was hugely successful in this area. In fact, it has stuck with me so much that I am almost positive I will be getting it made into a tattoo, once I figure out where I want to have it placed (suggestions anyone?).

This year, my phrase to live out my life is just for me. Well maybe not just for me, because I'm obviously sharing it here and I'm doing so for a reason: I feel I'm supposed to. I have not idea why. Maybe someone reading this needs to hear this in their own life. Or maybe, I just need to type it out so I'll never forget it and it will ingrain into my mind and my life.

I had this canvas made after wanting this verse over my piano for several years now. It's one of my favorite Bible verses ever because as a musician, who can't imagine her life without singing, the thought of God singing over me makes me smile. It's printed on one of my absolute favorite worship songs (click to listen to song) that has sustained me and given me peace many times over the years.

I know that You are for me
I know that You are for me
I know that You will never
Forsake me in my weaknesses
I know that You have come now
Even if to write upon my heart
To remind me who You are

To have those words hanging over my piano is a sort of declaration that God is for me, for my house, and that no matter what He is sustaining me.

I could think of nothing better than to put my favorite worship song as the backdrop to my favorite Bible verse. I never intended this to become my phrase, in fact I fully had in my mind another phrase for this year, but the more I kept noticing it, the more a certain phrase kept jumping out at me as I played piano, as I walked around my house, and as I went about life.

"He will quiet you with his love"

And I knew it. I knew that was my phrase to live out in 2015. See, I haven't always been quiet. I'm full of opinions and quiet has never been a strong suite of mine. But more than that, I figure maybe I had to learn to love others in 2014 in order to feel myself quieted by God's love in 2015. That phrase brings about peace for me, and if I'm honest, there hasn't been a lot of peace in my life this last year. I find myself getting frustrated with my girls over the smallest things, nit picking my husband over something silly, and criticizing myself (and oh how not quiet we all know that can be).

To be quiet means to be still, to be silent, or to be calm.

All things I desperately could use in my life!

And so, this year I determine to be quieted into His love. To realize that LOVE doesn't have to be loud. 

So here is to a silent, calm, still 2015!

Do you have a phrase, word or goal for 2015? Feel free to share with me in the comments if you do.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

An Update & What I'm Into Lately

I'm here and I'm alive!

I realize I have kind of disappeared for a bit and it was all quite unintentionally. Zoelle started school and my life completely changed. I went from sleeping in with the girls until 8 a.m. or later, to waking up at 6 a.m. I went from having one eager learner at home, to having two little girls at home who want to play more than they want to do school. School in and of itself can be a post on it's own and maybe someday I will do that. But for now, just a quick update on where I've been.

Zoelle being in school threw me into a bit of depression; I'd walk around all day and imagine what she was doing at that particular moment. In addition, the little girls didn't show much of an interest in school and I didn't know what to do with myself. I was stressed and depressed and a lot of my energy goes into cleaning house when I'm stressed, so I did as much as I could until there wasn't really anything left to do.

I'd fall in bed completely exhausted and asleep at 9 p.m. which is early for a night owl like me. I had no energy to do anything once the girls were asleep, and definitely no energy to formulate my thoughts on a blog post.

Adding to my depression was the loss of most of my flock of chickens due to the fact that Chris forgot to shut up the chicken coop doors on Halloween night and our dog and a friend's dog we are watching got in there and killed all but three of our chickens. That same week both dogs scared off our cat, Maple and we have not been able to find her since.

To be honest, I'm still pretty exhausted! Most days I still fall asleep early, or sneak a nap in myself during nap/rest time. But slowly, very slowly, my energy is returning and today I finally felt up for blogging.

So for the fun of it, I thought I'd do a what I'm into right now blog post as I enjoy reading them and I haven't done one in forever!

On the web:

Stop Asking If I Am Going to Try for a Boy

{We love our girls and won't keep trying just to get a boy!}

13 Signs You're A Classic INFJ

{Pretty sure this author lives in my home they so perfectly described me!}

I hate adoption.

{As a sister to 11 adopted siblings, I can resonate with this one way more than I want to at times.}

On my nightstand (or really just by my bed as I don't have a nightstand! ;)

Fresh Eggs Daily

{Shortly after we lost our chickens, we were able to find someone with more, so we added to our coop. I checked this book out from the library as I have absolutely fallen in love with my chickens. I want to do everything I can to give them a healthy, happy, life so I read this one in just a few days. It's now on my wishlist to buy!}

Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nurtrition

{I just finished reading this one and my head almost hurts from all the information! Also, it makes me want to completely overhaul our eating habits. Chris loves books like this! ;) }

On my phone/in the car:

{Taylor Swift. It's all about Taylor Swift 1989 right now! I thought I would hate her music being pop, but I ended up loving it just as much as my girls and now we are looking into getting tickets to her concert.}

On TV:

{My TV life is pretty much non-existent right now although I am still watching Ellen, The Voice, and somehow have managed to sneak in Dancing With the Stars. The real surprise here is how much I have fallen in love with Friends. I had maybe seen one episode or a part of one years ago, but had never actually watched the show until this year while looking for something to watch late at night I came across an episode and was sucked in. Why is Chandler so hilarious?!?}

In the Bible:

"The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still." Exodus 14:14

{I figure God wants to tell me something when I keep seeing this all.the.time.}

What I'm Praying For:

{A quick, easy, and warmer winter than the last two!}

Just because they are cute! :)

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Friday, October 10, 2014

SweetLeaf Sweet Drops Cola Sweetner Review

It is rare for me to drink any sort of pop (or soda for you southerners) unless we are out to eat, and even then I often opt for water. However, occasionally I do crave root beer. My husband on the other hand, absolutely loves coke! I don't like that he or I are drinking all that sugar and I know it isn't good for us!

Enter SweetLeaf Sweet Drops Sweetener! It's a liquid stevia that is all natural with zero calories and can be used in tea, coffee, smoothies, protein shakes, or any recipe.

Since we received the cola flavor, we decided to try it in sparkling mineral water. After adding the recommend 14 drops per 8 ounces of water, I fully expected it to taste nothing like a glass of coke, but I was pleasantly surprised. With stevia involved I also expected a bit of an aftertaste, but I could not taste it! So far so good. The real test would be my husband who with his love of coke, I knew would be hard to win over. However, when he tried it, he too had nothing bad to say. He felt like it tasted almost like the real thing and we both would probably add a few extra drops in just to get that real coke taste, but overall we both liked it.

Have you ever used SweetLeaf Drops? If you want to try it for yourself, make sure you visit SweetLeaf online to order more! Use the code "ColaMD" at checkout to take 30 percent off your online purchase (plus you’ll get free shipping).

Also, be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with all things new that are happening at SweetLeaf

I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms MeetSM program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms MeetsSM blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

When Your Neighbor Humbles You

If you were to walk in my house today, you would see this sign proudly on display right when you walk in the door.

I wholeheartedly love it and believe it. The problem is, I don't always live it.

About a month ago, we were on a family walk and ran into one of our neighbors. We are the only family with young kids in our small neighborhood, so I happened to apologize if he heard my kids screaming or crying a lot, because let's be honest, they fight a ton. What he said next made me humiliated and then question the very core of who I am. He said, "Well sometimes I hear them, or you but it's ok, my dad ruled with a strong hand and looking back I can see it was good for me." You guys, my heart sank. While we have agreed to be peaceful, gentle parents, and we have chosen not to spank, apparently my voice has not gotten control. To the point where it still looked as if I was ruling with a heavy hand.

I wanted to come back with every excuse in the book. When you have 3 girls who are close in age, there is competition and they are whiny, they fight, and they scream. They are spirited, and passionate and I have to get control somehow.

Except yelling isn't control and I sat there unable to defend myself and blame it on my kids.

This past summer was a tough one for me. I'm honestly not sure why. I started to feel this shift in my girls with all three wanting a bit more independence and then all three making their voices heard through loud protests, screaming, fighting with me, and with each other. It wasn't a peaceful summer at our home and I felt my stress level rising. I had to get control of these kids. So I yelled because somehow in my mind, yelling is control. I threatened to spank. Sometimes I really yelled, like the one that makes your whole body shake.

Yeah it was bad.

Then that conversation happened and it was like a slap in my face. Here I was claiming to be a gentle parent, when in reality, yelling can do just as much damage to a little soul.

I'm not naïve enough to believe I will never yell again, but it did make me take a good look at myself and decide exactly what kind of mom I want to be. It also made me change some things I realized were causing the frustration in the first place.

If I yell, they will yell. I quickly realized that the calmer I am, the calmer they are. Trust me, my nature is not one of calm. I am passionate and typically that comes across in how I speak to people. But I realize that if I can talk to other adults without yelling (even when I'm frustrated), I can talk to my girls with that same calm voice.

I started emphasizing more with them. My nature as a parent is to be very matter of fact and not fuss over my children. This is great on one hand, but on the other, I realized my kids were feeling like I didn't care at all when they were expressing their frustrations, thus it was quickly escalating to screaming as they wanted my attention.

This brings me to my last point, I wasn't paying attention to them. I was either in the kitchen, doing laundry, or on my phone and all my kids were hearing from me was, "Just give me one more minute". They wanted more of my time and attention and I wasn't giving it to them. They are smart and a great way to get that attention is to cause trouble thus mom would pay attention, even if it was negative attention. Lately, I've been letting the house and laundry slide and I've instead been playing with my kids. Not just cuddling or reading a book, but actually playing. They love it and our house runs a lot more smoothly if I even just spend 10 minutes investing into what they like to do.

So we are making some changes around here. Mainly those changes come from me and it hasn't been easy. But the more I set an example for them, the more they follow that example. Perhaps next summer I can see my neighbor and hear him say how he loves hearing the laughter come from our yard.

Have you ever had to take a good look at yourself as a parent and then change? What have you done to help that change take place?

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