Friday, May 31, 2013

An Interview With My Daughters {A Shaklee Vlog Post}

I was really struggling this month with my Vlog for my Shaklee 180 post! So far, I've known exactly what I wanted to do, but when I realized that 3 months in I haven't lost any weight and just a few inches, I wasn't sure what kind of information I could offer on a Vlog that would be of any benefit to either you as my readers, or Shaklee. However, after thinking about it, I decided I wanted to spontaneously ask my daughters what they like about me, and what they love about me. Basing it off of my blog post on what I like and love about me. I was curious to hear what they thought, so I took them each separately and asked and here is what they said (make sure you watch the video before you read on).

Were you surprised? I sure was! Not one of them mentioned a physical trait about me they liked. Instead, Xiomara mentioned our trees and flowers (she's been helping me garden lately so perhaps that is where that came from), green beans, and green soup (still wondering on that one). Meridian mentioned her love of holding my hand and her love of sugar snap peas (I must be doing something right if two out of three kids mention vegetables, right?). Zoelle didn't surprise me with her love of my back rubs, but I didn't realize that she loves me for taking her on dates.

I know to most, this video is just one in a million silly kid videos there are on YouTube, but hearing their answers without any prompting from me, brought me to tears. I realized, that the people I love most don't care about my physical looks, my weight, or any of the silly things I spend so much time focusing on. Instead, they just care about spending time with me, and me investing into their lives. Something I plan on doing a lot more of!

If you have children, take a moment out of your day to ask them what they like and love about you! Or ask your partner/husband! You just might be surprised at their answers! If you do, will you come back here and share with me what it was? I'd love to hear!

This is a sponsored post as part of the Shaklee Corporation blogger program. I have received free products, online support and incentives for participating. My opinions are my own.

People following the weight-loss portion of the Shaklee 180™ Program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Finding Beauty In The Mirror

Sometimes, we can be our worst critics, can't we? In so many areas of my life I find myself being harder on me than I should be.

Take for example, my house. Recently I had a few friends pick me up to go for a girls night out, and when they invited themselves in, I freaked out a bit. To me it seemed like such a mess, toys on the floor, supper being made, and all I could see were the projects that were unfinished that I still want finished. I found myself apologizing for what could be, or should be. Yet, they were going on and on about features of my house they loved, or even how clean it was! I'm my own worst critic.

The same can be said while looking at myself in the mirror. So often I have an unhealthy view of myself in the mirror. Yet, I'll have people compliment me on my looks or appearance and be surprised as that very thing is something I don't like.

One thing I am loving about Shaklee 180 is that it is giving me a healthy view of beauty. Beauty really isn't in a size or a number on the scale, but rather it's who you are on the inside. Your confidence, kindness, and love will shine through you and make you beautiful.

One of the challenges we had is to find something about our physical appearance we like and something we love. For as long as I can remember, I have always liked my eyes. They are large, pretty dark brown in color, and expressive. Plus, Chris has always loved them!!

I love my curly hair! I didn't always love it though. As a child, everyone would always ask to touch it, or play with it and I hated that! It tangled easily and I longed for straighter hair. However, my hair has only gotten curlier as I've aged. Each girl caused my hair to grow a little curlier, and finally about 2 years ago, I found out how to take care of my curls so they are healthy and easy to manage. I don't always wear it curly and I have the advantage of being able to straighten it, or just shower at night and it tends to go straight/flat as I sleep. I do love how thick my hair is and the fact that I have never colored it and it has a ton of different colors in it, from black, to red, to blonde. Basically, I just love my hair!! :)

What is something you like about yourself? What do you love about yourself? I'd love to hear!!

This is a sponsored post as part of the Shaklee Corporation blogger program. I have received free products, online support and incentives for participating. My opinions are my own.

People following the weight-loss portion of the Shaklee 180™ Program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dear Meridian,

Happy 4th Birthday to our sweet, snugly, independent, and ringlet-curled Meridian Piper!

Today you are 4! No longer a baby, no longer a toddler, and instead entering into that preschool stage. A stage of learning and growing. A stage of discovery and independence! I can hardly believe we are already here!

Just 4 years ago, you made it known to me that you wanted out and not in a long fashion, but rather a quick, beautiful, water birth that made me swear I would never give birth on land again. One day after your sister's birthday, and 4 days before your due date. You did things in your own time, and still do.

Your birth healed my soul. After feeling as if I somehow failed in Zoelle's birth, your birth was beautiful, peaceful, and everything I was hoping for. We got to snuggle right afterward, you nestled into my arm as the nurses and midwife left us alone. You nursed, but only for a little bit before you drifted off to sleep. In the coming months I would grow accustomed to you and your lack of interest in nursing.

We bonded in those early morning hours before anyone was there. Just you and I, and daddy. I felt my heart expand with a love I again did not know was possible.

I watched as Zoelle marveled over you, and at times struggled to accept you. For the first year of your life you were this amazing sleeper, and a very relaxed baby. While your sleep has changed a bit over the years, you still are an easy-going, relaxed, little girl.

At just over one, you became a big sister! You have never known anything different and have accepted and loved Xiomara ever since. That is not to say that you don't fight! ;)

This past year has been a pretty fun one with you Ridi. You have continued to show us that you kind of match that middle-child personality by being easy going and laid back. However, you are fiercely independent! I'll often find you playing on your own with your dolls, books, etc. Often filling your pockets with trinkets, rocks, and gum (you love gum)! You are perfectly content to be on your own, away from your sisters. You do have a stubborn streak that always surprises me a bit, but also makes me laugh. You have a face we call the ducky face, which means you stick your lips out in a pout like a duck! It makes us all laugh!! Your Auntie Genevieve says that your stubbornness reminds her of me, but I'll just blame it on your daddy! ;)

I had grand plans to start teaching preschool to you this year, but you showed no interest in doing so, and so we waited. Finally, this Spring you were ready, and I have been amazed at how much you know! You can count at least up to 50, you know your colors, and shapes. You also know what sound most of the letters make. You also surprised me this year by writing your own name without my help!

When I think of you and what I want to remember and what I want you to know, what always comes to my mind is how much you ooze sweetness. You love to give kisses and hugs, and seek any of us out during the day to get them. For someone so independent, you love to sleep with Zoelle at night. Snuggled in close to your sister where you feel safe from any thunderstorms (you do not like them) that may scare you. That doesn't stop you from still climbing into bed with us pretty much every night, or in the early morning hours. I secretly love that you still do. It warms my heart that you know that we are always here for you. Plus, I like to snuggle too (maybe I am a bit more like you than I thought)! I also love to watch you sleep. You look like a little angel, with your beautiful ringlet curls cascading all around you! How could one forget that in order for you to nap or fall asleep at night, you need one of us to lay with you. You normally surround yourself with a hundred of your favorite books (Wacky Wednesday, Happy Birthday To You, Mr. Brown Can Moo, and any other Dr. Seuss book), and after reading one to you, then fighting you a bit more, you drift off into sleep.

This is the last year I have with you before you will enter Kindergarten, which brings a whole new level of independence. My prayer is that this year you would grow in who you are. That God would give you a confidence to be, free spirited, Meridian. That you would use your sweetness to brighten others days. That God would be refining in you that stubbornness and independence to use it for His good.

So Happy Birthday sweet girl. We love you!  I leave you with words from your favorite Dr. Seuss book (at least for now):

"Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! Shout loud, "I am lucky to be what I am! Thank goodness I'm not just a clam or a ham. Or a dusty old jar of sour gooseberry jam! I am what I am! That's a great thing to be! If I say so myself, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!"

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dear Zoelle,

Happy 6th Birthday to our spirited, funny, smart, and kind-hearted Zoelle Grace!

How can it possibly be that you are 6? I know I write that same sentence every year, just with a different number in it, but I really mean it. How could another year have flown by?

Wasn't it just yesterday you were in my tummy demanding to get out, and your daddy and I headed to the hospital all excited thinking you would be born on an odd number (mommy is funny and loves odd numbers), but nope, in typical fashion, you chose to show up on the 18th. One day before your due date.

I think back to that day and I smile through a bit of tears. Your birth did not go as I wanted it to, and because of your holes in your heart, we were separated for far too long. I wish I could go back and get myself off that hospital bed and insist on being with you. I wish I could have held you on my chest while they frantically worked on trying to figure out what was wrong. I wish I would have not let so many people poke, prod, and touch you.

While I do believe being separated from me and having so many people touch you profoundly impacted you and your relationship with me, I can smile because I never knew love honey until that day. Oh I knew love, but not the sort of rip my heart out of my chest, everyday love that I have now.

You gave me that love baby girl. What a gift that is.

The first two years with you were bliss, and when Meridian came along, we had to learn how to work together. It took us a good year, but year three was complete perfection. Year four you grew in leaps and bounds, and exerted more of that spirit that I have grown to love. But year five Z has been a struggle. I like to call it your year of straining for more independence, but not quite yet on your own.

In many ways, it was a year of firsts.

You learned to ride a bike without training wheels. You also got your first big scratch from that same bike just a few weeks later while riding down a hill. You still don't like hills on your bike.

We found out that the three holes in your heart have disappeared or closed up. While we can still hear a heart murmur, we are no longer as worried about the possibility of heart surgery. It is said that heart babies tend to be some of the most loving and empathetic people there are, and I would definitely say that is true for you. So I am thankful for those three little holes.

You moved to a new house that left you fearful and emotional for awhile. You missed your friends in town. You missed the only house you were familiar with. You missed normal and had to come up with a new normal.

In the fall, you started Kindergarten. After much prayer, we chose to homeschool you this year. In the education sense, it was the best decision we ever could have made this year. You astounded us with your reading abilities. Reading chapter books, or even reading my books over my shoulder. But only when you want to! ;) You took off in math, coming up to me and declaring that you knew what seven fives were: thirty-five!

You used your beautiful voice to sing in a children's choir this year. You were very nervous at first and out of your comfort zone. Even to the point of your teacher asking me if you either were extremely shy or just hated her. After your Christmas performance, you came out of your shell and beamed with pride and insisted on singing as much as you could.

If you weren't reading or doing math, I often found you playing piano on your own. Although your first official year of piano was last year, this year you finished your first piano book, and really did a lot of self-teaching.

At Christmas, you chose to believe in Santa. Daddy and I went along with it, even though we said we never would, only because we figured on not breaking your spirit. If you ask us, and I'm sure you will soon, we will tell you the truth, but for now, we are letting you believe.

This means, you also somehow believe in the Tooth Fairy. I'm actually not even sure how you heard about it, but you let me know and could not wait to lose your first tooth. When friends around you were losing theirs, you patiently waited. Finally this Spring, you lost your very first tooth. Xiomara bumped it loose one night and just about a week later, you pulled it out of your mouth with little effort. You were thrilled the next day when the Tooth Fairy left you a pink sparkly wand, pink sparkles around your room, two dollar bills that were sparkly, and a Berenstain Bears book on The Loose Tooth. Your new tooth has already come in and according to the dentist, it came in just like it was supposed to!

This Spring you also got your first puppy. A bit scary for you to learn how to like dogs, but so far you are doing well with her, and she with you. You are both learning together!

It's amazing watching you be a big sister to your little sisters. I know they get in your stuff a lot and that really frustrates you. Sometimes you react strongly to them, but more and more I'm seeing you gently remind them not to do something, or you come find me to take care of them. I'm proud of you for that. You read to them daily, and they both look up to you so much. Xiomara pretty much copies everything you do, which is pretty adorable! You recently told me that, "I hate being the oldest!" and I wish I could relate. I know we put a lot of pressure on you to help out, or act a certain way. I'm trying to realize you are just a kid yourself, but thank you for the reminder. Also, don't forget, Auntie Genevieve would be wonderful to talk with as she knows and probably felt just like you many times!

So many firsts this year. We are at that stage where you are straining a bit for what is ahead, but still not ready to leave that baby stage behind. I'm SO thankful for that. I love that every night I have to give you a back massage because "Mom, you give the best back massages ever! Better than even dad!". I love that if you get upset, scared, or sad, you come to me and play with my hair. I love that you seek me out a thousand times during the day just to give me a hug. I know I'm sometimes too busy to act like I notice you during those times, but I do. They bring a smile to my face and oftentimes encouragement in knowing that we are ok.

I have a feeling this year you are going to grow even more independent, taller, and more beautiful on both the inside and outside. My prayer is that this year you would feel the love of all those around you, and believe it. That God would show you how precious you are and that you would continue to touch people with your empathetic soul, and kind heart. I smile just knowing that you will touch people with that heart one day. That your spirit is spunky for a reason, and that independence will serve you well. He has great plans little girl, and He is always for you!

Today is your birthday little one. Enjoy it to the full! We love you!! Happy Birthday!

Friday, May 17, 2013

On Motivation {A Shaklee 180 Post}

If you are like me, when you step on that scale and notice that the number hasn't gone up but it also hasn't gone down, you kind of just want to give up. All your hard work eating the right thing, running, doing your exercise video, drinking enough water, etc. seems worthless when the scale doesn't change. After all, it is hard work, not easy. If you are like me, it becomes hard to stay motivated and keep on doing all those things even if the scale hasn't changed.

This has been exactly where I have been at for the last few months. My weight hasn't changed at all on the Shaklee program and I've only lost a few inches. So why continue on? Why keep eating healthy? Why keep working out?

Well for me, I do it for a few reasons. The first reason is for myself. I think you are never going to be successful in health, if you don't care about being healthy. For me, I care about eating right, exercising, and the importance of drinking water. Also, I am a firm believer in setting good health habits now at a young age, so that as I age, hopefully it will be easier on my body to do so gracefully.

The second reason is for these girls. I may not be losing weight like I want to. But they don't see that. What they see is a mom who is making the right eating choices by grabbing an apple instead of candy, or re-filling my water bottle throughout the day. It already is affecting them, as the girls throughout the day go to the fridge and grab their water along with a fruit or vegetable as a snack. They see a mom who takes them for daily walks in the summer, hiking through the woods, or pushing the stroller. They see a mom who in the winter puts in another exercise video, and they come right along side me and lift their "weights".

So while the scale may not be budging, and my lack of motivation can sometimes get me down, all it takes is a glance at my daughters to realize that I can do this, that this is all worth it!

What keeps you motivated when the scale doesn't move?

This is a sponsored post as part of the Shaklee Corporation blogger program. I have received free products, online support and incentives for participating. My opinions are my own.

People following the weight-loss portion of the Shaklee 180™ Program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

{Almost} Wordless Wednesday: I'm A Blessed Mom

I've been so blessed with these three girls in my life! Thankful that I get to be their mama!

Also, I could not share this without also showing you the funny side of being a mama! Check out what Meridian said about me in her Sunday School class!

She may not like me, but at least she knows how much I love coffee and Target! :)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Our Love For Signing Time {Meeting Rachel Coleman}

I can't believe that in the almost four years I have blogged, I have never blogged about our love for Signing Time! What is Signing Time? Signing Time was born out of a desire for one mother to create a community that could communicate with her deaf daughter! That mother was Rachel Coleman, and between her and her sister Emilie Brown, they created Two Little Hands Productions.

For us, our adventure into our girls learning American Sign Language started when Zoelle was about 7 months old. We had several friends who used a few basic signs, and they encouraged us to teach Zoelle signs in order that she could communicate with us before she actually could speak. I studied up on a few basic signs and then stumbled across the name of a product called Baby Signing Time (which is geared toward babies). We bought a few of the videos and were amazed that within weeks, Zoelle was signing. She also was an early talker (which I'm guessing was not contributed to signing because our other girls were not), so she did not necessarily need to sign, but rather chose to sign and talk at the same time.

As I mentioned, Meridian and Xiomara were both rather late talkers. Meridian also definitely tends to be more "whiny" rather than communicate through her words, so signing became a lifesaver for us as she grew older. To this day, she often signs and says please anytime she wants something, just out of habit.

As the girls grew, so did their knowledge in ASL. We now own almost every Signing Time movie made, including all the Baby Signing Time (which has over 100 basic signs). Even Zoelle, at almost 6, still loves to watch Rachel sign. The movies all incorporate Rachel, Hopkins (a frog), Alex (Rachel's nephew), and Leah (Rachel's daughter). Rachel will teach a sign, or several signs, and then a song will follow that incorporates those signs in the song. Some of our girls favorite songs are: The Silly Pizza Song, A New Day, Down on Leah's Farm, and All Aboard the Zoo Train.

So why learn ASL when your children aren't deaf? For the same reason I want my girls to learn Spanish! They may one day have friends or children in their classroom who are deaf or hard of hearing, and I believe it is important that they have the ability to communicate with them. It essentially is learning another language. The great thing about it, is that Chris and I have learned right along with them, and enjoyed it too!

A couple of weeks ago, we surprised the girls with a trip to see Rachel and Hopkins in concert. Rachel was performing at a church about three hours away from us, and I knew the girls would love to be able to see her and meet her. We were not disappointed! She was every bit as kind and fun, as she is in her videos. I don't think I've ever seen Zoelle beam as much as I did at that concert. She told me, "For as long as I live I'll never forget this day, mom"! Meridian and Xiomara were a little confused on how Rachel Coleman could be right in front of them when she is normally in TV! :)

For us, it was a chance to thank Rachel for all she had taught our girls. Also, to thank her for broadening our minds, and our daughters, in our understanding of the deaf community! It also allowed us to see first hand the passion Rachel has for this company, and especially for other parents to allow their children to know ASL! If there is one product I recommend to parents, it is the Signing Time DVDs, and for those that know us and know how little we let our girls watch TV, that is saying a lot!

Have you ever taught your children to sign? Do you know ASL?

Friday, May 3, 2013

What's In A Shaklee 180 Turnaround Kit?

I've gotten the question numerous times both here on my blog and with friends and family in real life, so I thought today I would show you all in my Vlog post what exactly is in a Shaklee 180 Turnaround Kit. While I know you can just hop onto the website and see, sometimes I find it helpful to actually see it in real life (or in this case through a camera) so you can understand a little bit better on size, what everything is, etc. If you have any questions, be sure to ask! I'd love to help you if I can!

This is a sponsored post as part of the Shaklee Corporation blogger program. I have received free products, online support and incentives for participating. My opinions are my own. 

People following the weight-loss portion of the Shaklee 180™ Program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Close To Winter & A Welcome To Spring {One Full Year In Our Home}

It's crazy to think that it has been a year since we bought our second home, said goodbye to our first home in tears, and started to make this home ours.

I officially survived the long winter, otherwise known as the winter from hell because it was so cold and snowy, even up until just a few days ago. However, I figure if I can survive this one, I can officially make it living in the country!

The view of our backyard far too often this winter!

Over the past year, some walls have been painted, a few light fixtures have been updated, and a whole lot of memories have been made. While we have a long ways to go on fixing the house up to our liking, I still wanted to share with you all that I do really love it.

Chris is in his glory with our property, the girls love to go on hikes through our woods just as my sister and I did when we were younger, and I love the space both outside and inside our home. Perhaps my favorite thing about it is how peaceful it all is. I go home and just feel at home and at peace. While I miss my fantastic screened in front porch at my old home, I'm looking forward to many mornings of coffee on the deck, or late night backyard bonfires.

My morning coffee view...soon!!

Now Spring has finally come and I'm looking forward to a beautiful, warm summer spent outside with my girls and perhaps a little bit more fixing up our home!

What did your winter look like? Are you sad to see it go, or are you like me and looking forward to a beautiful summer?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013