Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More on Babywearing

I know I've been talking a lot about babywearing lately here on my blog, but the more and more I wear the girls, the more I love it! Way back when Mer was just a baby, I blogged a bit about the different carriers I have and use. I wore Xiomara pretty much exclusively in a Sleepy Wrap when she was a new baby. This past month, I got the opportunity to try a woven wrap for the first time. It's on loan and is going to it's new family soon (Hi Sarah), but man was it fun to try the different ways to wrap.

                                    Wearing Xiomara in a Front Wrap Cross Carry.

I also never thought I would say it, but a wrap isn't as scary as it seems. Thanks to a group of women out there who know what they are doing and to YouTube, I was able to figure it out all on my own. All that extra fabric has it's place and the comfort and security that a wrap provided was amazing! Now I sort of have my eye on this beautiful wrap here. It's gorgeous!

                           Wearing Zoelle in a Back Wrap Cross Carry with a chest belt.

I still love my Ergo or Beco for a quick up/down, but the wrap did provide me this sense of oneness with the girls that the other carriers didn't provide. Speaking of the Ergo, some have asked since my giveaway ended where to purchase it at. I would suggest Heavenly Hold. I've been following them for some time and they are super helpful, have free shipping over $80, and have a large variety of different carriers.

P.S. Meridian pretty much refused to be worn in the woven wrap so no pictures of her in the wrap.

Have you ever tried a woven wrap? What is your favorite thing to wear your baby/child in?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Photoshare Sunday {A Day Late}

I'm kind of odd in that I only like to post one post a day on my blog. Rarely will I post more than one. Strange I know, but it's how I am! ;) So today's post has now become our Photoshare Sunday.

This week we got a rather large snowstorm. Yes, spring in here but apparently not exactly here. So the next day with the sun shining and temps in the 20's, we decided to all go outside to shovel our sidewalk. It was actually quite enjoyable (I know hard to believe for some of you who hate snow). The sun was shining and I could feel Spring in the air. I couldn't resist snapping a few pictures of the girls shoveling and having fun in the snow.

Is there snow still where you live? What do you do to pass the time until warmer weather?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

And the winner is...

Lucky number 226 is Sarah W. whom I verified did follow all the rules correctly by doing the main entry before the extra entries.

I am aware that it looks as if she is commenter 26. I just realized today that comments 1-200 show up fine on my blog, but when switched to comments 201-400, it begins to count over again. I have contacted my blog designer to see if this could be changed for future contests, but just so you are aware she really is commenter 226. Here is a screen shot of the bottom of her page showing that this page was comments 201-400.

So congrats Sarah!! Hope you get much use out of it! I will be e-mailing you shortly. Thank you again to Ergo for providing this fantastic giveaway and thanks to my blog readers who entered. Whether new to my blog or you've been here for awhile, I do hope you stick around as I love to talk with my readers!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Graco Secure Coverage Digital Baby Monitor Review

I'm a huge believer in baby monitors. Yes, I partially co-sleep with my babies, but they always start the night out in their own crib and then transition to mine when they wake to nurse. With the older girls sleeping on a different level than us, one of the best investments I ever made was to purchase a video monitor. However, a video monitor does not travel well and when we go visit grandparents, or stay overnight at friends, it has been a hassle to detach the cameras and bring them with. Only to have to re-set it all up at home.

Thus the Graco Secure Coverage Digital Baby Monitor has been a life saver for us! It's light weight, and easy to set up/take down for travel. While I'm used to having monitors that light up when a baby cries, I have never experienced the vibration alert to feel the baby's call. At first, I wasn't sure it was going to be useful. However, my very first experience with this monitor was with Xiomara, who is a very quiet crier. If it wasn't for the vibration, I would not have heard her until much later.

The true test came however when I wanted to test the range for coverage (2,000 ft. range). While we have a small house, my parents live in a bigger home that is quite long. The girls typically sleep on the complete opposite end of the home from where we hang out. I was more than impressed when the Secure Coverage Digital Monitor picked up and never once fuzzed out no matter where we went in the house! The clarity was perfect! Add to that the secure digital technology, and Graco has me once again sold on one of their products!

Buy It!

If you are looking for a monitor for in your home, or for when you travel that provides clarity and security, make sure you take a look at the Graco Secure Coverage Digital Baby Monitor. For only $44.99, you will have the confidence that your baby is resting safe and sound. To me, it's more than worth it!

*Graco provided me with this monitor and asked me to share my honest opinion on the product.

Monday, March 21, 2011

New Carseat Guidelines

As I'm sure you've read and heard by now, the American Academy of Pediatrics is finally recommending your child stay rear-facing until 2 years of age. They are also encouraging extended five-point harnessing. I've blogged before about the importance of extended rear-facing. I had no intention of blogging about it today, but with the new AAP guidelines and with the thought of spreading this awareness might save even one life, I wanted to share it once more.

If you still have questions and need answers, I recommend reading this article. It does a fantastic job of answering the many questions that friends and family have had for us regarding our decision to extend rear-face. If you can only take two minutes of your time and only read one article, that one would be it!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Using Actions {Photography Post}

I've recently started using my photoshop that I won. Let me tell you, I wish I would have used it long ago. It's been super fun to use the free photoshop actions I've found around the web to touch up pictures. It's also not as scary to use as I thought it would be (Note: Youtube videos are a HUGE help)! Yesterday, I bought my first official photoshop actions set with a gift card I had. It was a way for me to treat myself on something that has become a passion once again. I'm loving it! I have a LONG ways to go and a lot to learn!

Here is a SOOC (Straight Out Of The Camera) shot of Zoelle:

Here it is with an action applied:

Kind of fun to see the difference! :) That is all I have for you now because the rest of my pictures are on my camera with a dead battery. If you have any tips or pointers for me on using photoshop, or photoshop actions, I'd gladly take them.

P.S. The scratch on Zoelle's cheek is from her little sister who is not understanding right now that it is not nice to pinch. :(

Friday, March 18, 2011

Random Friday Happenings

Yesterday was a celebration of eight years of being engaged to this guy (well not engaged still, we are married, but this was the day we got engaged). Can I just tell you all how excited I am that I said yes on that warm March day?

Yesterday also brought about the one year anniversary of our failed adoption which you can read all about here. Though the pain was strong one year ago, and while I still have feelings of sadness for what could have been, I sure am enjoying this little girl who is playing right next to me right now.

Have you entered into the Ergobaby Giveaway yet? If not, get your entry in soon as this ends in one week and you definitely don't want to miss out! I know I've mentioned it before, but I'll say it again, I absolutely love being able to giveaway items on my blog! I don't do a ton of giveaways, and I don't plan on this blog becoming that as I want the focus to be my family. Those that I do though, are a complete pleasure especially when I get that email from the winner declaring how excited they are. :) If you are nervous about all the entries, only do the mandatory entry. I've had several winners and I've won several giveaways myself, only doing the mandatory entry. I've gone back and forth over the year about doing or not doing extra entries, and for now, I think I will keep them.

Alright, off to enjoy the rest of my day! Hope to post a photoshare post tomorrow for you all. Until then...enjoy the start of your weekend! :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Three Months Later

Sometimes life goes faster than any of us would like to think. I feel that way now especially as I approach my late 20's and think about my 30's. Perhaps it is because of everything happening in Japan. I keep asking myself, am I really enjoying every moment with my family? Am I giving it my all when I am with them? Am I depositing into their lives what I want them to know so they can successfully grow up and be all they can be in Christ?

If I'm truthful, I think that answer is no.

Here I am three months into the new year and three months after posting this.

Do I feel as if I've changed? Somewhat.

But I'm not satisfied with somewhat.

I want to really know my husband and understand what drives him each day. What are his passions?

I want to really know my girl who made me mommy. What makes her light up and what makes her frustrated? What can I do that will make each day special for her?

I want to really know the power behind the mischief in Meridian. What makes her so funny and how does she continue to make us laugh time and time again?

I want to get down on the floor more often and play peek-a-boo with my baby. To hear that giggle and know that I brought that smile to her face.

It's not naturally in me. I'm not a play on the floor type of mom, I'm more of a snuggle and read a book mom. But I'm determined to try and try harder. Because life really is too short. These 18 years with my girls are all I have to truly impart in their lives. To impact their life for the better. Who I am will directly reflect who they are one day.

So for the next 9 months I want to do better. Do more. Be more. I want my girls to look back on this year as the year mama changed. For the better.

P.S. Isn't Chris' long hair looking nice?!? :)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

My Week (with no pictures)

Wow! What a week! Or should I say what a winter?!? Seriously, for me this has been one of the worst winters I can remember. It's been long, filled with snow, cold, more snow, and did I mention snow? The good news on the winter front is that next week is looking warmer here so we can maybe get outside, the sun will hopefully shine, and maybe just maybe, some of that snow will melt. I for one am ready for Spring!

While the winter has been long for me, more than anything I am looking forward to Spring in the hopes of no longer having a sick family. As I've blogged about before, this winter we got hit pretty hard with sickness. Two times with the stomach bug, two times with colds, pink eye, and now this week I came down with a sinus infection.

I chronically get sinus infections and always have since I was quite young. I get about one a year. This one though was the worst I can ever remember. Monday morning, I tried getting out of bed and couldn't even think straight. My head was pounding, pain was radiating all over my face, and even in my ears. Thankfully, Chris was able to stay home with me thinking that by Tuesday I would be better. Well I wasn't. By Wednesday, my head realized this was more than just a common cold and I went in to the doctor. On the way there we got a flat tire, with three over-tired kids in the backseat. I'll spare you all the details of the rest of my week, but let's just say that I wore the same outfit all week, no laundry got done, and my girls had to watch a lot of T.V. when dad wasn't here to help watch them.

All that to say that even though today is suppose to be photo share Saturday, I took no photos this week. I hope to be back to my 100% normal self soon and next Saturday be able to share a new photo with you. In addition, my health seems to be a petty issue compared to those who are suffering in Japan. My heart and prayers go out to you!

Also, I'd love to hear any tricks to keep sickness at bay all winter long? Or at least minimize it? Also, do any of you get chronic sinus infections? Have you found any good cures to ward them off? Tell me your thoughts on the dreaded surgery too? I want to hear it all!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ergobaby Review & Giveaway

My journey into babywearing has changed and evolved with each child that I have had.

Wearing Zoelle (1 month) in the Ergo while gardening.

When Zoelle was born, my mom gifted me with an Ergobaby carrier. She had done a ton of research on the benefits of babywearing and encouraged me to wear Zoelle as much as I could. When Zoelle was born, I did just that. We didn't use her stroller that often as she liked to be with me and worn on me. I was ok with that as I enjoyed wearing her and she enjoyed sleeping on me. Many walks were taken with her in the Ergo. As she grew older, I became a bit insecure in my babywearing efforts. Other moms around me were not babywearing and I felt a little funny going to the park or on walks with just the Ergo. Thus I kind of quit babywearing. I have come to greatly regret that decision.

One of my favorite pictures of Zoelle in the Ergo at 6 months.

Thus I was determined when Meridian was born to babywear her longer and I hoped that I wouldn't have as many insecurities as a second time mom. I ended up buying a few different carriers with her and luckily for me she only really loved to nap while babywearing. Thus we did a lot of babywearing and to this day, we still will wear her if she is fussy or we are going hiking. Even Chris gets in on the babywearing with the girls and he loves the colors of the Ergo for that reason.

Meridian just waking up from a nap in the Ergo at 21 months.

When we adopted Xiomara I knew I would babywear her the most because at this point, my insecurities were pretty much next to none and I knew the benefits of attachment with babywearing her. From day one I babywore her practically everywhere. Almost everyday, or at least several times a week if I am making supper or trying to get laundry done, I just put Xiomara in the carrier and we go about our work. I love it, she loves it and I don't see us stopping anytime soon.

Xiomara in the Ergo at 8 months. Sorry it's a little fuzzy.

Buy It!

Overall, I would highly recommend my Ergobaby Baby Carrier to moms or dads or even to care takers who need an extra hand. One of my favorite things about it, is that it is easy to use and that if needed, I can get my toddler in and out quickly. It is comfortable for both child and adult and the attachment it brings is amazing! Plus there is nothing quite as sweet as snuggling a baby (or toddler) close.

Win It!

Ergobaby has generously offered one of my readers a chance to win an Ergobaby Carrier of his/her choice! I'm giving you lots of chances to win as this is such a fantastic giveaway! Just make sure you leave a separate entry for each extra entry if you choose to do the extra entries.

Mandatory Entry:

Follow me via Google Friend Connect (must be a public follower) and visit Ergobaby and tell me which carrier you would choose if you won. Please do me the favor of making sure you leave your e-mail address in the comment if it is not visible on your profile. (1 entry)

Extra Entries:

1. Subscribe via e-mail to my blog. (2 entries)

2. Follow me on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you are along with your Twitter ID. (1 entry)

3. Follow Ergobaby on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you are along with your Twitter ID. (1 entry)

4. Tweet the following Tweet then come back and leave me the link to your tweet (1 tweet/entry per day):

#win an @ergobaby carrier from @jewelsntreasure
  #giveaway #babywearing

5. Become a fan/like of Jewels & Treasures on facebook and leave me a comment telling me you are along with your first name and last initial. (1 entry)

6. Become a fan/like of Ergobaby on facebook and leave me a comment telling me you are along with your first name and last initial. (1 entry)
*Please refrain from posting on their page saying you are entering into this contest as they are trying to maintain a tone of community. Thanks!

7. Grab my blog button and post it on your blog and leave me a link letting me know where it is at. (3 entries)

8. Follow me via Networked Blogs. (1 entry)

9. Comment on any other post I have on my blog then let me know which post you commented on: Only one other post please. (1 entry)

10. Blog about this giveaway leaving a link to both my blog and Ergo. (5 entries)

That's It!

Winner will be chosen at random from Winner has 48 hours from being contacted to respond, or else a new winner will be chosen.

Contest ends Friday, March 25, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. CST

*The featured product(s) in this post were bought by my mom. I was not compensated in any way. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by anyone.

Monday, March 7, 2011

8 Months

Yesterday, she turned 8 months old.

I say this every month, but it seems like just yesterday we were down in hot Georgia about to meet our little girl for the very first time. Sometimes, it almost seems surreal.

I know I don't often blog here about our adoption, but if you do ever want to read more on our adoption, feel free to visit our adoption blog: On Our Hearts. I talk more in depth about our journey to adoption and various challenges we have faced since then.

As for this girl. She is still doing her worm crawl, but also has figured out how to get up on her hands and knees and she just rocks back and forth and smiles. Another new thing she loves to do is click her tongue. She often does it to get our attention and then smiles her huge smile when she realizes it worked! :) In addition to all of this, she also learned to sit up on her own. I still don't leave her unattended doing that as she is a bit wobbly, but it sure is cute to see how proud she is sitting up like a big girl.

Yesterday she had her first bites of food-avacado, and she loved it! Oh and don't worry, she got a bath right after this picture was taken! ;)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

This Week Captured

So this week I didn't have a specific theme or thing to work on in my photography. We had a bit of a rough week with Zoelle getting pink eye, and then Chris getting sick. Yet in the midst of all that I was able to get a few pictures that I adore.

I realize this picture is completely out of focus and the lighting is bad (I did not edit this shot at all). Despite all that though, I love this picture because Zoelle is just SO happy. It captures her giggle and I can hear it through the lens.

This picture of Meridian isn't perfect either by any means. But again, sometimes photography isn't about being perfect but about capturing the moment and this moment of intensity for her Little People set was one I didn't want to miss!

Lastly, this smile captures Xiomara to the max. I love it (and her)!

Obviously I need to work on my focus. I'm just having a hard time doing so with fast moving little girls, and low light (thus a slower shutter speed). Any advice? Also, I'm looking for recommendations on what to buy if you had roughly $200 to spend on camera accessories, lenses, etc.?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Additional Thoughts On Breastfeeding

If there is one thing that I am repeatedly e-mailed about, or asked about in public quite often, it is breastfeeding.

Nursing Zoelle on her one year old birthday.

I cried while writing this goodbye letter to nursing Zoelle. What I didn't tell you was that she actually nursed on and off after writing that post. If I let her today, she would still nurse. She loves it that much and feels extremely bonded and attached to me through it. :) Oh and she says the milk tastes sweet like strawberries or melons.

I talked openly about the benefits of extended nursing in this post. I still refer back to that post occassionally whenever I get anxious about wanting to wean Meridian and I'm reminded once again that this isn't for me, but for her attachment and health.

Nursing Meridian at 11 months.

I haven't talked much about it, but my adoptive nursing journey with Xiomara has been extremely precious to me. After we finished meeting her birthmom and her birthmom "J" left, I was left with a hungry crying baby in my arms. As Chris signed the adoption papers, they brought a huge rocking chair over into this hallway of the room we were in and I sat down and for the first time brought my little babe to my chest to nurse. I remember I was so scared to nurse a child that I didn't birth. Would she latch on right away? Would she ever be able to quit supplementing? I did not need to be scared. Instantly breastfeeding my little girl made any tension and nerves melt away and I was completely attached to her, and she to I.

What started out almost four years ago as my attempt to only nurse Zoelle six months, has turned into almost four beautiful years of nursing. I have extended breastfed twice, nursed through a pregnancy, and now have adoptive nursed. Has it been always easy? No. Have there been times where I long for weaning? Yes. Have I worried? Absolutely! But the bottom line is, I wouldn't change any of it.

Nursing Xiomara at 1 month.

There is something absolutely precious hearing a toddler ask to nurse and then see her giggle while she asks to change "sides" about a dozen times in a nursing session. It's amazing to know that God created my body to be able to nurse a child not from my womb. I found it extremely helpful to be able to tandem nurse during the first few days of engorgement after my second was born, as my first born then helped so engorgement was no longer an issue. While I don't tandem nurse them at the same time very often, I relish in that sweet moment when I see one sister reach over to grab the other sister's hand.

Precious. Every little tender moment. And I intend to cherish it to the end whenever that may be.

P.S. Stay tuned for a post on my thoughts and advice on tandem nursing.