Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Catching Up {Zoelle's First Camp Experience}

I can hardly believe that half our summer is over with! Every year I ask myself why summer has to go so fast? Our summer started off pretty cold and rainy (which was pretty identical to last summer). This summer though, it was so wet that we even had flooding in our yard! Thankfully, it has now all dried up and the sun has come out and we have enjoyed so many days outside. What ends up happening is that I spend all my time outside during the day that by the time I get inside and put the girls to bed, I'm exhausted and don't feel like blogging! Today however, I had a little time to catch up on our summer and I thought it only appropriate that I share a little about Zoelle's first camp experience.

I didn't start going to camp until I was in 5th grade. From the moment I went, I was in love. A lot of who I am, and my faith in God was formulated at bible camp. I made friendships that have lasted even into adulthood. I never missed a year and considered even working at camp if it wasn't for meeting Chris and deciding that I couldn't be away from him for a summer! ;)

Thus I always knew that we would send our children to the same camp that I went to growing up. Last year I remember seeing friends posting on Facebook about their children going to camp and I remember thinking, "I wonder if we should have sent Zoelle?". I also realized there was no way she would want to be away from us that long. However, sometime this winter I received a brochure in the mail all about camp, and when Zoelle saw it she declared that she wanted to be at camp this summer. I'll admit that I doubted she would actually do it, thus when early registration came around, I didn't sign her up. I waited and waited a bit longer. My other hesitation would be how they handled her diet. I'm not sure I've directly blogged about it, but we have had a few issues of Zoelle getting welts all over her face, or even having a hard time breathing after eating or being exposed to gluten.

She kept on insisting and after much discussion, I decided to contact camp to see if they could handle a gluten free diet. Sure enough, I received a reply right back and was put in contact with the camp cook. I was SO impressed with how thorough she was and reassuring that she would make sure Zoelle was taken care of. While Zoelle is very good about being cautious and asking questions on if something has gluten or not, it was so nice to not have to worry. Furthermore, she told me they would be sure not to make Zoelle feel different at camp by being very discreet with her gluten free food.

Chris and I talked about it, we asked Zoelle once more if she was sure she wanted to go, and when she said yes, we signed her up. Zoelle helped me pack her bag and sooner than I wanted, camp day came.

She was definitley nervous as we were headed to drop her off. However, once there, she seemed to relax. All the staff at camp treated her with kindness and were so enthusiastic with her about the next few days at camp. We got her all set up in her room, and then it was time to say goodbye. I thought Zoelle would have a hard time at this point, but instead, it was me who had the hard time! She barely said goodbye! Instead, she gave us each a quick  hug and we left (me with tears in my eyes). As we headed home, I kept asking Chris if we did the right thing by leaving her, and he assured me that she was fine.

She was gone two whole days and I felt lost without my little Z! The girls did too! They kept asking me over and over again when she was coming home. I was sure Zoelle was wondering when she got to come home too. Instead, on the day we went to pick her up, I could tell she didn't want to leave!

My girl was officially grown up!!

She had a fantastic time at camp learning about God, singing songs, having campfire, playing games, and meeting new people. I am SO happy that we let her go and she is already asking me if she can go back again next year! :)

Have your kids gone to camp? Did you have a harder time than they did?

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

On Your 4th Birthday (A Letter to Xiomara)

Happy 4th birthday to our exuberant, joyful, loving, sweet, silly, and precious four year old, Xiomara Marie!

4 years old! Wow! How can that possibly be? I remember that amazing phone call as if it were yesterday. Our daughter coming 5 weeks early! The rush, nervousness, and excitement of planning on going to Georgia to meet you. My life would never be the same because of a tiny, precious little girl that became my daughter!

Four seems so grown up! No longer a baby, growing out of that toddler stage, and quickly moving on to becoming a little girl! It's going a lot faster then I thought it would. Sometimes I just sit and stare at you wondering how that tiny baby could possibly be the same vibrant little girl in front of me!

This past year, all of a sudden you can talk clearer, you have more words in your vocabulary, and you started drawing me pictures that make me smile. You sing loudly in your bed every night before falling asleep. You still suck your thumb (but I sort of secretly love it). You have to have special snuggle time with mommy each day.  You give 110% of yourself every single day. All of it with a bright smile on your face. You make us laugh with your expressions and acting that you do all day long. You are joyful always and I am not lying when I say that you are never crabby. You have such a gentleness with animals that it wouldn't surprise me if one day you work with them. You adore your sisters and sometimes like to get in their stuff too! You love for daddy to sing to you Cinderella each night! So much so that daddy surprised me this year with a precious video of him singing it just for you!

At 4 you love the color yellow, but sometimes like orange too! Your favorite food to eat is macaroni and cheese (or at least it was when I asked you). You love to play outside and spend hours holding your kitty, Maple or chasing our puppy, Teal around the yard. When you aren't outside, you are inside getting dressed up in your dress up clothes (high heels, purse, and all!). You constantly put on a singing show for us, and Frozen seems to be the theme right now (still)! When you grow up you want to be a mom and have a house right by my house (I used to say the same thing sweetie).

Baby girl, the joy you bring us is unbelievable! I pray that as you go about your year this year, your joy would be shown to others and that it would draw them closer to Jesus. I pray that you would know the love we have for you and even more importantly that God has for you! And so I close out this letter to you with words from your favorite song that you always want to have mommy sing with you,

Your little hands wrapped around my finger
And it's so quiet in the world tonight
Your little eyelids flutter 'cause you're dreaming
So I tuck you in, turn on your favorite night light
To you, everything's funny
You got nothing to regret
I'd give all I have, honey
If you could stay like that
Oh, darling, don't you ever grow up, don't you ever grow up
Just stay this little
Oh, darling, don't you ever grow up, don't you ever grow up
It could stay this simple

We love you SO much happy girl! Happy 4th birthday!

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Monday, June 16, 2014

The Close of a Long Journey (A Weaning Letter to Xiomara)

I woke up one morning last week and knew, just knew, it was time. The problem is, how do you say goodbye to something you have done for seven years? To something that has become a part of you?

I suppose in many ways this in not only my weaning letter to you, Xiomara, but also a goodbye to breastfeeding.

This time it is hard. I'm not going to lie, my emotions have been all over the place. But seven years, and then just being done? Yeah, that is hard. In fact, I've avoided writing this letter for months knowing that I once I did, it would be a closure.

Your breastfeeding journey is so unique Xiomara. From when I first knew about you, I knew I wanted to try and breastfeed you. I wasn't sure we could make it work, because quite honestly, I wasn't sure how I was going to make having two "babies" work, but I knew I wanted to try.

In one of my very first conversations with your birthmom, she mentioned really wishing she could somehow have you get breastmilk, and she was thinking of nursing you while in the hospital in order that you could get colostrum. I had asked our social worker ahead of time if I could share my thought of trying to breastfeed you, and she encouraged me to do so knowing that your birthmom would love it. So I did, and she was thrilled! When it came down to it, it was emotionally too hard for her to nurse you, so she never did.

But she did one of the most selfless acts ever, not only by gently placing you in my arms, but instead of feeding you one last bottle, she told me you were hungry but that she wanted me to be able to nurse you so she didn't give you that bottle. So there I was in a church on a hot, summer day in Georgia, in a rocking chair in the middle of a hallway nursing you for the very first time. My heart and yours melted together that day. Later on that night, exhausted emotionally and physically from the long journey to get you, I would ask daddy to take our very first picture of me nursing you. My eyes are half closed and I can see exhaustion on my face, but behind all that, I see complete bliss and happiness. My little girl, the one I had prayed and longed for, nursing on me. Something that naturally was never supposed to be, yet God let it happen.

It would be several months before my breasts got the hang of nursing both you and Meridian. Those months I became grateful for formula, because without it, I would have never known what it is like for those moms who do use it. I became grateful for that SNS nursing system because it allowed me to still nurse you and feed you, although I hated all those dang tubes! I became grateful for people like your Auntie Gen, who so generously offered to supply me with extra breastmilk until I could make enough on my own. One thing I never became grateful for is that dang pump! Always "talking" to me by chanting out the words, "American dream, American dream" in that hissing voice of it. Yeah, let me tell you something pump: pumping like a cow multiple times a day, only to produce less than an ounce, is not my American dream.

You were so tiny for so long Xiomara, that we worried about you. I ate healthy fats in order that you would get rich breastmilk full of fat. I let you nurse whenever you wanted. You were so tiny at first, that I was afraid I would smother you. But you grew, slowly but surely you grew. Introducing you to your first solid food was hard for me. You didn't really care for it either, and so we once again had to supplement with healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, butter, in order for you to try and gain weight.

Somewhere around two years old, you started to catch up with those your same age. This is also the time when I first really remember you pulling away from nursing. You needed it less and less. I started realizing how very much I would miss those brown eyes staring up at mine each nursing session. We had bonded so much through breastfeeding, that I couldn't imagine being done.

I'm not even really sure when you were done. I know you've been done for probably six plus months, but I don't have a last nursing date or memory of it like I do with your sisters. Instead, your weaning was probably the most gradual and wonderful weaning I have ever had. I didn't push you to end too soon and you didn't push me to either. It was as if you knew that I needed time to say goodbye.

Most likely, you will be our last baby, and oh how I will miss the peace I got from nursing you girls. The breaks in the middle of the day, the sleepiness of snuggling with one of you curled up in my arm and nursing to sleep. Looking deep into your eyes and sharing with you how much I love you.

Thank you God, thank you breasts, and thank you girls for some of the sweetest memories ever these last seven years nursing each one of you!

This morning I will make my very first cup of No More Milk tea, knowing it's time. You may have been done nursing months ago, but for some reason, my breasts don't know that yet, probably because they have been doing this for seven years. I'll cry as I drink every last drop, but I'll have peace knowing it is time.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Gutsy Chewy Review

Do you ever suffer from a queasy, refluxing stomach? When I was a senior in high school, I was diagnosed with acid reflux after suffering with pain in my tummy almost every single time I ate. I was given a prescription, and told to use that to counteract the pain and that was that.

Back then, I wasn't as naturally minded as I am now, and so I did take the prescription, but after awhile I noticed it wasn't really working, so I stopped. Had I had something like Gutsy Chewy, I would have had a natural way to deal with my acid reflux pain.

Gutsy Chewy is a supplement invented by Dr. Doug Haghighi, and contains a perfect balance of apple cider vinegar, licorice extract, papaya extract, and xylitol to help support your gut and oral health along with calcium and magnesium. I was super happy to see that they are all natural, gluten and lactose free, vegan friendly, and made in the U.S.A., all things that make it a good choice of supplement.

I received both the wildberry and citrus flavors and found both to taste very good. I liked wildberry just a bit more. I don't suffer from acid reflux pain as much as I used to, but these definitely came in handy and actually worked when I did notice that familiar pain in my stomach.

Make sure you keep up with Gutsy Chewy on facebook and twitter. Gutsy also has a great summer promotion going on right now: Buy 2 tubes get one free, buy 4 tubes get 2 free, buy 8 tubes get 4 free and buy 12 tubes get 6 free. More info on their page: http://gutsyproducts.com/products/

Disclaimer: 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 agreed to use this produce 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, May 22, 2014

My 1st Stitch Fix Review

About a year ago, I started seeing a few fellow blogging friends post about something called Stitch Fix. The posts I saw had all these incredibly cute clothes and my blog friends were bragging about not even having to go to a store to shop for them. I was intrigued and immediately checked it out. Was it really as easy as they said? Pay $20 for a styling fee, fill out a detailed personal style profile, received 5 hand-picked items, keep what you like, return the rest.

I checked it out, read a few more reviews, and talked to Chris what he thought about it. His response, "I'm sure you'll end up wanting to buy all the clothes and right now we just don't have the money for it, so I think we should skip it." I thought a little bit about what he said, and did a little more research, and then decided to not sign up at that time. A couple of months ago, I was getting sick of my wardrobe and the fact that if I want to buy any new clothes, I had to buy them at Target or drive at least an hour away and spend gas money and out to eat money. In the long run, I started realizing that Stitch Fix would be a way for me to get stylish clothes, save money, and not have to shop with 3 busy girls. So, after over a year of agonizing over it, I decided to give it a try!

The box came when I wasn't home and Chris sent me a text saying, "Look what came!" Eek, I was so excited and could hardly wait to get home to this!

Right away I felt very pampered just with the packaging. Next, I found a note from my personalized stylist welcoming me to Stitch Fix and telling me how much fun she had looking at my Pinterest board for clothing ideas! This was definitely better than going to the store, and trying to contain three girls within 5 feet of me!

Then, when I opened my box,  my heart fluttered as I saw the first piece at the top of my box. I may have fallen in love right then, and said a quick prayer, "Please let this fit"! I pulled out each individual item and laid them on my bed.

Item #1: Just Black Adora Ankle Length Colored Skinny Jean: $78

I have never spent more than $30 for a pair of jeans in my life and the only pair of skinny jeans I have ever bought were a size too big, but I bought them anyway because they were on the clearance rack for $7. So knowing that, I was a bit hesitant with these from the start. I LOVED the color, but skinny is not what I would describe my body. I tried them on and loved the feel of them! They were definitely fitted, and I immediately regretted not working a bit harder this past winter to lose 10 extra pounds! When my hubby looked at them, he thought they were too tight. We disagreed over this, but ultimately I decided to pass on these as I couldn't justify spending that much on a pair of jeans that may have been a little tight.

Item #2: Honey Punch  Layla Striped Elbow Patch Detail Cardigan: $48

I saw this and was immediately in love! Also, if you could feel it through the computer, you would be amazed at how soft the whole shirt was, not just the patches, but every part of it! It was a tiny bit big on me, but I feel like cardigans typically are and I can pair this with so many different outfits (and wear it any season) that this was undoubtedly a keep for me!

Item #3: Sweet Rain Krista Heart Print Tank Top: $48

I rarely ever wear tank tops alone as I have keratosis pilaris that I am working hard on curing, but in the meantime, I have red, bumpy upper arms. Thus, I never wear tank tops alone. But I figured I could maybe pair this up with a nice light sweater, or even a jean jacket and could wear it. However, as soon as I put it on, I noticed a small rip in the shirt. Thankfully, when I contacted Stitch Fix, they immediately offered to make it right and give me 15% off if I wanted to keep the shirt. I did think about it, but ultimately it just really wasn't my style and I felt it did fit a tiny bit snug across my chest, so I passed on it.

Item #4: Papermoon Wynn Arrow Print Front Pocket Blouse: $48

I loved the design on this blouse! I also loved how it was sheer so it would be a perfect shirt to wear this spring with a light tank underneath. However, when I put it on, it was just a little snug (what's up with that?) and it just kind of hung on me without any sort of shape to me. It seemed a bit "mom like" in appearance, so ultimately, I decided to pass.

Item #5: Ezra Ellyse Floral Print Flutter Sleeve Dress: $48

This one was on the top of my box when I opened it and I'm quite certain I let out a little shriek when I saw it. It is SO me!! I seriously heart dresses, especially in the summer. I also have quite a few weddings & special occasions to attend this summer and I needed a nice dress. My first impression when I put it on was that it seemed a bit short. However, it wasn't so short that it was inappropriate. I also noticed that the style guide that comes with it showed a belt with the dress. I searched my box, but was unable to find one. I once again contacted Stitch Fix and they offered me 15% off for this. I definitely wanted to keep this dress and figured I could pair it with a belt I already owned, so this one was a keep!

Overall, I only kept 2 items out of my 5, yet I felt very happy with what I kept! I spent a total of $68.80 which I was very happy with being that a typical dress that I would buy would be at least that. Also, the cardigan was such quality, that it was well worth the money spent! I decided it was definitely worth it to try it again, so I already signed up for my next fix. Next time I promise to take pictures of me in the items! Somehow I never did that this round and it isn't quite the same with them on a bed, but I promise you, they are great!

Have you joined Stitch Fix yet? Interested in doing so? I'd love to have you sign up under me here, and come back and share with me what you thought of your fix.

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