Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: The face that I see in the mirror

More than your average hospital diaper bag

When I first had Zoelle, I found a cute, functional diaper bag at Target. It worked great, but it definitely had a few features that it lacked, including space and organization (something I thrive on). It also got dirty pretty easily and was not extremely well made (which means it did fall apart a bit after two years of use). Thus when I found myself pregnant with Meridian and realizing that I would have two in diapers, I was determined to find a great diaper bag.

Me being me, I did a ton of research and found Ju-Ju-Be and I have never looked back since.


*It's Washable! Machine wash a diaper bag? Yes! Only Ju-Ju-Be Not even kidding here-these things wash up beautifully if they do get dirty (and trust me, mine has gotten majorly dirty before).

*It has great organization! Depending on which bag you get, it is filled with pockets and spaces to store stuff. If you get a backpack style such as the Packabe (pictured right) that doesn't have a ton of pockets, be sure to get some Accessories to help organize it.

*It is a wonderful company! I don't think I have ever seen a company quite like this one. If you have a question, you can even e-mail one of the owners themselves and they will personally e-mail you back (again, I have had to do this before).


*My only con is the price. They are quite spendy bags. Although I am convinced that with this company you definitely get what you pay for (high quality, functionable, yet still fashionable, diaper bags). Oh, and even this isn't really a con because they have a for sale or trade message board called The Pink Room in which you can buy used bags for a fraction of the cost of a new one. Be sure to check out the Real Mom Giveaway contest over there for your chance to win your own Ju Ju Be of your choice.

Overall, I highly recommend a Ju Ju Be diaper bag to someone who is looking for a diaper bag *hint hint Gen* (oh I guess all the rest of you reading this too). :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I'm going to be an auntie!!

I have been waiting for what seems like forever to announce this! Really it's only been since Christmas Eve, yet it has been the desire of my heart for even longer than that.

My big sister is going to have a baby. It seems almost surreal to me imagining my sister as pregnant. Although I am quite certain she felt the same way about me when I was pregnant. You wouldn't think I would be this excited being that it isn't me that is pregnant, but I am. I am already a mommy, a sister, and a daughter. I have been waiting forever to be an aunt! After watching my sister lovingly take care of my two girls, I can't wait to do the same for her child.

I am convinced she is going to be one of the best mom's in the entire world. She is extremely wise, loving, and fun. My Zoelle is captivated with her and I imagine that Meridian will be too as she gets older.

So blog firends expect some posts about babies and baby items in the upcoming months. I'm going to do my best NOT to push different parenting beliefs on her and just let her do her own research and come to her own conclusions. So while I wait for July, I'll just be busy thinking and dreaming of babies and of being an aunt.

Congrats G & D! This auntie cannot wait for July!!

Friday, December 25, 2009


Ah yes, here I sit with a cup of hot Tazo Calm tea in my hand and my hubby's laptop on my lap. White Christmas is playing on our TV with my hubby snuggled in beside me. We just finished our third of four Christmases (Four Christmases anyone?) . We still have one more tomorrow and then we are done.

Chris and I couldn't help but feel so free this Christmas. Somehow it just seems more relaxed, different, just plain ole' free from past Christmases. We are free from anxiety, free from worry, free from fights. We just feel free. As we talked about it, we realized that we think it is because of how we handled Christmas this year. We didn't make it a BIG deal this year. Instead, we just decided to focus on each other, our two girls, and our families. We scaled back majorly on gifts, even for each other (which is tough on my hubby as his love language is gift giving). Partly because finances are tight, but also because we decided to truly accept this year that Christmas is not about the gifts, it is about Christ. You know what? I can honestly say, and I know he would agree with me, I didn't miss the gifts. As he pointed out to me yesterday, we can only remember a handful of gifts we have gotten each other for Christmas other years. It just isn't really important-it's just stuff. We don't NEED it.

I will forever remember this Christmas as being one of the best ever! Merry Christmas!

How about you? Did you decide to forgo lots of gifts and just focus on each other? Or are you still able to do that along with gifts?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Red Rain Boots

Before I was a mom myself, I was never going to be that mom. You know the one with those kids. Yep, I think we all do. I think if we are honest with ourselves, we all have judged others before we were in a certain position ourselves. Whether it be judgement in parenting, marriage, or something else in our lives; we have all judged.

It just hit me tonight full force that I have become that mom. The one I certainly was NEVER going to be. It was about 7:30 p.m. and our girls had just finished their baths. We had them almost all ready for bed when I realized that Zoelle was out of pull-ups (I haven't found a good cloth alternative to pull-ups) and we needed to go buy some. I could have just gone myself, but I like to have my family with me. So, with the girls in their pj's and the hope that Meridian would fall asleep in her carseat, we got ready to go. I asked Zoelle to go get her boots on and this is how our conversation went:

Z: "Ok mom."
Me: "Thanks honey and hurry up, ok?"
Z: "Mom do I wear my orange boots or pink ones."
Me: "Honey you don't have orange ones, just red or pink ones and the red ones are rain boots for the rain. Wear the pink ones ok?"
Z: No answer
Me: "Zoelle did you hear me?"
Z: "Yep."

Sure enough what does Zoelle come over to me wearing? The red ones. I looked at Chris and declared, "No way am I allowing her to wear those. What in the world would people say? It's bad enough the kids are going to the store in their jammies. I was never going to be one of those moms!". It hit me then that I had somehow in my mind determined that others would judge me for the red rain boots and pajamas. I certainly didn't want someone seeing my kids dressed like that for fear of what they would think!

It was the look Chris gave me that made me realize I was completely foolish. Who cares what people see. I mean they may have looked at Zoelle with her red rain boots, pink pajamas, fleece coat, and hat and thought what horrible parents to bring their kids in Target looking like that. But those people didn't know my heart, they didn't realize that all I wanted was my family with me shopping. To spend just ten more minutes together before the end of the day. And you know what? It's ok that they didn't know my heart, for I once was in their shoes too declaring that I would never be that mom.

Tonight it took a stubborn little girl and her red rain boots to realize that God wanted to teach me a lesson in judging others. What will it take you?

Friday, December 18, 2009

All I Want For Christmas

As many of you know, all I really want for Christmas is a great DSLR camera. In high school I took photography and absolutely loved it. When cameras switched to digital, I followed suit but only with a point and shoot camera. I have always wanted to get a new DSLR, but so far, we haven't. Well this year, I asked Chris if we could just get each other that for Christmas with any money we get, we both agreed it would be well worth it.

However, I also know that if we get a nice DSLR camera, I want and need good photo editing software. So, here I am, once again trying to win something. I would SO love to win this or this! I figure it's worth a shot and since blogging about it gets me an extra entry, why not try, right?

So sorry for anyone who is getting sick of my posts about giveaways. I always figure it's worth a try and it's fun for me to do. I am working on writing more about "us" in here, it has just been a very busy time of year right now. I will though!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

An Extra Day

I told you that Ju-Ju-Be was an incredible company! This is just one way how they are!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Last Day Of Giveaway

Today is JJB's (Ju-Ju-Be) last day of The 12 Days of Christmas giveaway. If you want head over here: and enter to win a gorgeous Mint Julep Be Spicy!

Wordless Wednesday: Making Memories

Zoelle 6 months w/mommy:

Zoelle 2.5 w/mommy:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

For My Dear Husband

Honey, you do so much work around our house. You often cook, clean, do the laundry, change diapers, feed kids, feed me, feed yourself, help put girls to nap/bed, and pretty much anything else. On top of all this, you work hard for our family each and everyday. About the only thing you don't do is breastfeed (sorry I know you are pretty bummed about that). ;) I feel completely blessed to have you as mine.

Thus, for all the hard work you do...I think you need to help ME win this:

I mean it would be perfect for you to use when you take Zoelle on her daddy dates and then uh hum...I could have another Ju Ju Be! :) Love you.

Oh, and for all you reading this...feel free to follow the link to try and win your man a Ju Ju Be Messenger bag.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ju Ju Be Be Sets

Someday I will dedicate a whole post to the incredible diaper bags that Ju Ju Be diaper bags are. However, for now, I will post that if you want to try a little "piece" of Ju Ju Be, go check out: to try and win a full Be Set. I've only ever tried the small be set piece, but everyone always raves about how nice the complete set is. Go check them out and enter if you would like!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wean Me Gently

I know I look so big to you,

Maybe I seem too big for the needs I have.

But no matter how big we get,

We still have needs that are important to us.

I know that our relationship is growing and changing,

But I still need you.

I need your warmth and closeness,

Especially at the end of the day

When we snuggle up in bed.

Please don't get too busy for us to nurse.

I know you think I can be patient,

Or find something to take the place of a nursing;

A book, a glass of something,

But nothing can take your place when I need you.

Sometimes just cuddling with you,

Having you near me is enough.

I guess I am growing and becoming independent,

But please be there.

This bond we have is so strong and so important to me,

Please don't break it abruptly.

Wean me gently,

Because I am your mother,

And my heart is tender

~Cathy Cardall
When I first got pregnant with Z, I knew from the start that I planned on breastfeeding. During my pregnancy, I focused so much on the thought of getting a natural labor/delivery that the breastfeeding aspect of having a child did not even occur to me. Thankfully, and from what I hear, also luckily, I had absolutely no pain while breastfeeding. I never got the cracked, bleeding, sore nipples. The worse I ever got was mastitis, which I now look back and wonder if it really wasn't just a severely plugged duct.

My first time breastfeeding my little girl was amazing. She latched on beautifully and then just stared up at me with her big blue eyes. I knew right then and there that I would do whatever to make sure she would get my breastmilk. I had heard the horror stories from friends and families, yet I also knew the beautiful ones, and I was determined to have a beautiful one.

My original goal was to make it to six months. I did not want to have to buy formula, plus I knew the health benefits of breastfeeding were wonderful. It seemed like in no time at all, that we reached one year of breastfeeding. It was going so well at a year old, that I decided to continue on and let my Zoelle wean gently. When Z was 14 months old, I got pregnant with M. I cried and cried because I knew the chance of her continuing to nurse was slim. I felt like I truly wasn't letting her wean gently and that I was going to devastate her. A dear friend pointed out to me though that Zoelle was very smart and that if she chose to wean during my pregnancy I could rejoice in how long we did make it and our relationship would still last. Imagine my surprise when not only did Z continue to nurse during my pregnancy, but my milk never dried up (well techincally it did, but it just changed to colustrum). The very first time Zoelle went without nursing was the two days I was in the hospital after giving birth to Mer. I was not sure if Zoelle would ask again, but I shouldn't have been surprised when she did. As she saw me nursing her sister on the day we got home from the hospital, she too asked to nurse. I latched her on and within moments, her eyes got wide and she popped off and said, "Mmm...that is good. What is it?". When I told her it was mommy's milk she was so happy.

Today we are still nursing. Just once a day in the morning. I've been struggling lately with nursing her. Or maybe it is just both of them. Or just the fact that my breastfeeding experience with Meridian has been completely different (not bad, she just doesn't like it as much). My goal was to always allow Zoelle to wean gently and on her own, but lately I have been thinking of weaning her myself. The only problem is, I know it will be much harder on me than her. I need to be ready emotionally.

Thus, I had to type this out and share my thoughts. Not really sure where else to go with that. I know that most think I am strange to even be extended breastfeeding. However, it was a choice we made for bonding reasons, health reasons and I am proud that we have gone this long. I always said I would for sure not go much past two, but who really knows...maybe I'll still be nursing her at three! After all, I do really want to wean gently.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sleep Issues

This little girl...

looks so beautiful when sleeping, doesn't she? Unfortunately, she only sleeps for 45 minutes to one hour before she wakes up. I'm not talking about just for naps, this is at night time too.

I am at a loss as to what to do, or what it could be. So, naturally, I want to ask my blog readers their opinions. Here is some info on what is happening:

*she goes down fairly easily as our goal is to put her to sleep awake, but sleepy
*she is on an eat/play/sleep schedule
*I don't think it is hunger waking her up though
*I've suspected acid reflux and so we are on day 3 of medication with no change yet
*I always make sure to get her down on time for a nap
*she sleeps easily and much longer in her carseat, but I want her to be able to sleep in her crib too
*it's not her teeth as I can give her mortin and she still wakes all the time
*this started about a month ago
*she is still a super happy, easy, baby
*mommy is just worn out and tired from it all

Honestly, it wouldn't be that big of a deal except I feel bad for her as I know her body needs more sleep. Also I am missing my husband at night after the kids go to bed. Since one of us is constantly working to get Meridian back to sleep after she wakes up after the first 45 minutes to an hour, we don't get time together. Also, the girls share a room and Miss Meridian is waking up her big sister. Not something any of us enjoy as it makes for a crabby little girl the next day.

So, any advice blog readers? Have any of you dealt with this with your little ones? If so, how did you get through it?

Oh and could you also pray for us and specifically for Meridian's sleep? We would so appreciate it! :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sleep & Slings

Lately, our cute and content Mer has been cute, but not so content in regards to sleeping for naps and bedtime. We aren't really sure what is happening with her and why she is acting this way. My first thought was that it has to be her teeth. However, even after giving her Infant Motrin or Hyland's Teething Tablets (which I am typically a huge fan of by the way), she still wakes up and just cries and cries. Since I love to research, I did some research indicating that it could possibly be that she is coming into a new milestone (which she is-in crawling) and that would be why her little body is waking up as it is overworking right now to reach it. However, I have also suspected some acid reflux. I took her to the chiropractor, which really did seem to help for awhile. But, we are back to not taking the best naps, or waking up a ton before going down for good at night. Needless to say, it is frustrating for me as I have a very busy two year old, so I can't take the time to truly work with Meridian to get her down for naps (nor do I really want to). At night, her constant waking not only wakes up Z (as they share a room), but it also takes away from time with my husband, time to work out, and my time to relax.

Thus yesterday, in the midst of my Thanksgiving preparation, I brought out the sling! Not only can I be hands free to work around the house with it on, but Meridian can also sleep in it. It still isn't ideal, but it works for now so that I can keep my sanity, and she can get her precious sleep.

I currently have three slings. An Ergo, a Beco, and a Peanut Shell. The Ergo and Beco are very similar to each other and the Peanut Shell is more of a pouch. When I had Zoelle, my mom bought for me an Ergo. I loved it. Here is a picture of little Z in the Ergo with me as we were going to work in the garden.

Over time, for me, it has been replaced with the Beco. I only like the Beco more because it sits more comfortably on me and I like the colors of it. See-here is Meridian in it as we prepare Thanksgiving dinner.

However, the Ergo is handy to keep for Chris to use, or for both of us to babywear a kid. He gave me permission to post this picture of him with Zoelle in the Ergo at 6 months (sorry about the cover up of our last name in the pic. If I knew how to work with my photo editing, I'm sure I could do a much better job).

 The Peanut Shell is handy to use when they are little as they can stay nice and snug close to you.

I plan on using it solely for bonding when we adopt. It can even be used to wear a toddler. At times, I like to wear Zoelle in there.

I still would love to try a Mayan Wrap and probably a Mei Tei too. For now, I'll be grateful for the slings I have, as they allow Mer to nap and me to still function.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dear Meridian

Hi sweetheart! Right now, you are being held by your daddy as he gently tries to rock you to sleep. Early tomorrow morning (11-19-09), you will be six months old. I cannot believe it! Six months seems to have flown by much faster this time than it did with Zoelle. I remember every moment of your incredibly fast delivery. The joy I had at seeing that I had another little girl, is unspeakable. You also got to be born in the water, something your mama had wanted forever.

At six months:

You are still just eating breastmilk. Mommy isn't really sure when we will officially introduce solids.
You don't really care to nurse all that often (so the opposite of your sister).
You just started sitting up on your own, but you are still quite wobbly, so we help you a bit.
You can roll from back to tummy, and tummy to back.
You can get up on all fours and just about go forward. We think you will be crawling so very soon.
You are not sleeping through the night yet. You were/are a better sleeper by far than your sister was, but lately you have been going through some tough times. That is ok though, as daddy and I both said, we want to hold you close just a little bit longer.
You adore everything and anything that your big sister does or says.
You weigh 15lbs. 6 oz. and are 26 1/2 inches long (much tinier than your sister was at this age).

You are our little content baby Mer. As Grandma recently just told me (and I agree), you ooze sweetness. You want to cuddle, kiss, or just smile at one of us the entire day. You are incredibly sweet peanut.

Don't ever loose your sweet spirit Meridian. God has put that in you and He will use it to bless those around you. You are already a little buddle of blessing to us each and every day, honey.

On the one hand, I can't wait to see you grow and learn in the next six months. On the other, I am sad as there is only a first one time. Tonight is the very last time I can say you are 5 months; it will be a matter of moments that I am telling people you are one. In the meantime, I am going to soak up the cuddles, snuggles, kisses, and love and just enjoy you for who you are today as a six month old.

Happy Half Birthday Mer Mer! I love you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dear Zoelle

Hi baby girl! Right now, you are, *I think* sleeping in your big girl bed. Daddy says that not too long ago, you were still singing and talking, and he couldn't get you to stop. Why does that not surprise me? You are so much like me sweet, silly Zoelle.

Tomorrow (11-18-09) you turn 2.5 years old. I cannot believe that you can be that big already. It seems like just yesterday that you were this tiny little girl all hooked up to monitors with dozens of doctors and nurses surrounding you trying to figure out what exactly was wrong.

Now you are 2.5 all snuggled into a big girl bed. At 2.5 you can do so much more than I ever expected you to be able to do. You can:

Speak in complete sentences
Have an "adult like" conversation
Get dressed almost completely by yourself
You can recognize all your letters and the numbers 1-10
You can say your abc's and count up to 20 if you feel like it
You know all of the common shapes (triangle, rectangle, square, circle, oval, diamond, star)
You know all of the common colors (black, brown, white, red, blue, purple, pink, yellow, orange, green, silver)
Pretty much everything else (which basically means I can't remember everything else you do)

Two things I thought for sure you would be done with at 2.5:

Nursing-Mommy always said I would have you weaned by now, but you still ask once a day in the morning. Sometimes you do nurse, other times, if we are busy, you don't. I'm ok with it most days, but other times, I struggle nursing you. Not because of you, but because I feel at times that you take away from your little sister. I do however realize there are so many health benefits for you, not to mention it is a good bonding time for us.
Potty Trained-You are so very close. You almost never have day time accidents anymore. I'm also pretty sure that if I took the leap and made you wear "chunies" in public, you wouldn't have any accidents either. You often wake up dry after sleeping all night or at nap time.

You are so stubborn and determined and I know that God will use that for good in your life. Your dad and I constantly pray for God to use that spirit of leadership in you always. On the days you are stubborn, I look at you and often tear up wondering if things would be different if it was still just you and I baby girl. I wonder if you realize how much I too sometimes wish it was. Not because I don't love your baby sister, but because I want the "old you" back. The one who would just hang with her mommy and not throw tantrums. We had so many good times together. I want you to know, that just because you have a little sister now, it doesn't mean that we can't continue to have those good times.

As you grow in these next six months, I am going to strive to take the time to snuggle you, cuddle you, and love you more. After all, time is just going way too fast. You no longer look like a baby, but instead, look like my big girl.

Happy Half Birthday to my first daughter; my spirited baby girl.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's In A Name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."~Shakespeare

That perhaps is my favorite quote of all time. Here Juliet was telling Romeo that a name is an artificial and meaningless convention, and that she loves the person behind the name.

There is meaning behind the name of my blog. Nine years ago, I went on a mission trip to Caracas, Venezuela. On that trip, the Christian music group Zoe Girl was performing for us. I got to spend a huge amount of time with Kristin Swinford (one of the members) and she actually wrote a song for my group that spoke greatly to my heart. The song is called Plain and it speaks to girls who feel they are plain, yet to God they are anything but that.

I want my girls to know that they truly are a jewel and a treasure to God. That they are one of a kind in God's eyes.

Girls, may you forever remember that there is nothing about you that is plain. For you are a jewel and treasure to not only me and your daddy, but ultimately to God.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Hi everyone! Welcome to our family blog now known as Jewels & Treasures! I wanted to give you all a little welcome post to start with and also take the time to explain exactly what this blog will entail.

I have thought for two years now whether or not I truly wanted to create a family blog. A lot of time, thoughts and prayers went into the making of this blog. Eventually, I came to the decision that for my girls, I would love a record of their life on "paper". This is the best way for me to do that. I'll be posting pictures, talking about them, and maybe even a video or two will come forth on here.

So definitely first and foremost, this blog is for them. However, as you may already notice, I also will possibly be doing some advertising. Each business I even think about advertising for, will be thouroughly prayed about before I actually go ahead and advertise.

Lastly, I plan on trying to jump into the world of product reviews. I am known to my family and friends as a researcher. I love to research various items before I actually go out and purchase them. What better way for me to research, then to try products and then share my knowledge with my friends and family.

So sit back, grab a piece of pie, some coffee, and enjoy the reading.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Contact me

Have a question for me that you've been dying to know the answer to? Please feel free to e-mail me and I will do my best to answer in a timely manner (just remember I have three little ones so timely is umm...not always on time). My email is jewelsntreasures (at) yahoo (dot) com

If you are a company reading this blog, please know that not only do I like to find the Jewels & Treasures in my daily life, but I also like to find them in products. If you have a product you would like me to review, or if you would like to sponsor a giveaway, you can contact me at: jewelsntreasures (at) yahoo (dot) com I am a PR friendly blog.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A little about me

Hi, I'm Vanessa. Wife to one handsome man. Mama to three beautiful girls. Reader. Writer. Photographer. Singer. Pianist. Explorer. Walker. Runner. Ultimately, just me.

A little about Chris:
He's gentle, quiet until you get to know him, extremely funny, loves to be outdoors, loves to hunt, fish, is a business owner, loves to cook and bake, and is the most incredible husband and dad I've ever known. I've been married to this jewel for ten years!

A little about Zoelle:
Often called Z, she is 6 and has always been known as our spirited child. Yet she also has a sensitive heart. Our firstborn jewel is learning to carve a place for herself in this world and isn't going to let anyone stop her. She loves to learn and soaks up anything she can. Her favorite things to do are math, reading, playing outside, swimming, playing with her dolls, and playing with Lego Friends. Her favorite color is blue!

A little about Meridian:

Often called Ridi (or Rinni), she is 4 years old and is our content, independent adventurer. Our middle jewel is all quiet, and plays by herself for hours at a time. She is a collector of "junk". She loves to play Lego Friends, watch movies, and sleep (haha). She can often be found wearing stripes head to toe, or wearing clothes full of pockets to collect treasures with. Her favorite color is purple!

A little about Xiomara:

Sometimes called Xio, she is 3 years old and is our joy-filled baby. This little jewel was long awaited and has an incredible adoption story that God wove just for her.  Exuberant is the perfect word to describe her and the energy she brings. She lights up a room and makes everyone smile. She is rarely crabby and is always singing or dancing away to music. Her favorite color is yellow!