Thursday, January 24, 2013

Esio "Drinks On Us" Party {Christmas Recap}

Up until this past Christmas, I had never hosted a family holiday gathering at our house! Mainly because we had too small of a home to host the size of our families! However, this year Chris threw out to me the thought of hosting his mom's side of the family at our home, so she didn't have to worry as much about it. Oddly enough, the thought of hosting family at our home appealed to me as normally we have about a thousand Christmases to go to and by the end we are tired, our kids are tired, and everyone is extra crabby! Thus, I hosted Christmas.

We cleaned the house, picked out the food, the tree was filled to the brim with presents, and the Christmas music played softly! The family came right on time, and soon our home was filled with laughter, noise, and love!

In order to not put so much pressure on cleaning our home and doing all the cooking, I had each family member bring a side dish to share. As for the drinks, I had it covered with a punch, and our new Esio Hot & Cold Beverage System.

As the owner of another brand of single serve coffee machine, I was excited to test out the Esio and see if it performed the task!

When my husband took it out of the packaging, I will admit I was very surprised at it's size. I didn't expect it to be so large and definitely felt like it would be better suited for either an office, or a house with lots of kitchen counter space. Now I was appreciative of the fact that it fit under our cupboards, so it didn't have to stick out. It holds a ton of water (1.85 gallons to be exact)! This is nice because when you are hosting a party, it has enough water for a lot of your guests to use it. After you fill it with water, you can use the cold beverage setting right away. Just pick out which E-Pak you want, take the foil tamper seal off the end, open the door and place your pack in, and close the door. Then just make sure your cup is centered and choose the strength of your beverage. Lastly, just press and hold until your cup is full. You do the same with a hot beverage except using the hot press-to-pour button. It's literally as easy as that!

When you are done with your choice of beverage, remove your E-Pak and be assured that it will not spill, even though you have opened it (trust me we tried squeezing, shaking it upside down, etc.). Then the next person can fill up whatever they want using whichever Esio E-Pak they want!

I was very impressed with the taste of the coffee drinks, as were our guests. Chris' Grandma was raving about what a great, strong, coffee it made as I was drinking my nice mild coffee! That is the joy of choosing your strength of drink! I let the girls try a bit of the apple juice and while they loved it, I have to say as a mom I was disappointed that it wasn't 100% juice. In fact, looking at many of the other E-Pak cold drinks, they were made out of ingredients that I would probably rather not serve my kids. However, we rarely have anything to drink outside of water!

Overall, it definitely was a hit, it was fast to make a cup of whatever drink you would love, and it was easy! I only wish it was just a bit smaller and that they offered juice drinks with 100% juice!

If you want to connect with Esio, be sure to check out their Facebook page and keep up with everyday happenings over on Twitter.

*The featured product(s) in this post were provided for me by BSM Media. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by anyone.

Monday, January 21, 2013

How One Little E-Mail Changed My Life {My Trip to D.C.}

A little over 2.5 years ago, I received an e-mail from a girl named Jill who had found my adoption blog through a message board we were both a part of. She happened to be adopting from Georgia as well. What is stranger is that she was using the same agency as us. Even crazier-our babies were born 2 days apart (after both of them being born prematurely) and in the same area of Georgia! We began just e-mailing back and forth. In fact, writing this out, I went back and checked and I have pages full of e-mails back and forth between us. Those e-mails are absolutely precious to me now and will be printed out for Xiomara's scrapbooks.  Eventually, we decided to become Facebook friends and even shared our phone numbers with each other.

Totally love this girl and the friendship we have!

Re-reading those e-mails now 2.5 years later, I can see that we had this instant connection from the very start. We prayed through each other's adoptions, we shared prayer requests about our children, and we connected in a way that is quite unusual for an online friendship. 

In the past two and a half years, we have e-mailed, facebooked, and talked on the phone. 2.5 years ago we wanted to meet in Georgia, but I left for back home one day before she arrived in Georgia. We've said it from the start that one day we would meet, but finances, or me nursing has always been in our way. Then, this November, she called me up and basically told me, she was either visiting me or I was going to see her. Since where I live is freezing in the winter and there is not a lot to do outside, I told her I would visit her in Washington D.C. and come summer, she can visit me! :)

Standing in front of the Capitol.

We made plans for a 5 day trip in January. I was super nervous leaving my girls for 5 days. Outside of when we adopted Xiomara, I have never left any of my children that long. Chris took some days off of work, along with my parents agreeing to help when needed, and we booked the ticket. On the day that my plane was to leave, I was a wreck. Not only was I leaving my girls for a long extended time, but I was also leaving my baby who was still nursing once a day. On the way to the airport, I told Chris that I sure hoped 5 days wasn't too long being there, but that I had a feeling at the end of the trip I would be in tears leaving her.

I was right.

It's kind of crazy hard for me to explain how close I could become with someone after just meeting them. But this was just what both of us desperately needed at this time in our lives. In the almost 6 years I have been a mommy, I have rarely left my kids. What I didn't realize, was how much it was needed. Girl time, talking, laughing, drinking wine, listening to some of our favorite music together, and crying together until late in the night. Sharing with each other our hopes and dreams, our pasts and our right now, knowing that neither one of us was judging the other. Those five days were some of the best days of my life. We did do the typical tourist things as well: Toured the Capitol, went to the National Art Museum, Toured Mt. Vernon, walked by the White House, we saw President Obama's motorcade, we drank about a thousand Starbucks drinks, walked through old downtown Alexandria, did a Winery tour, walked through Georgetown, rode the Metro, walked all over D.C., and ate at some of the best restaurants.

Visiting Mount Vernon

But at the end of the trip, I can say that what made the trip for me was a friendship that was only deepened by meeting in person.

I can't say that it has been easy to come home to reality, and not to mention cold weather, but I did come home feeling way more refreshed. Perhaps the most amazing thing is to think how God made it so that one e-mail started what I now know will be a lifetime of friendship.

Thank you so much Jill for hosting me, taking me all over the D.C. area to do the tourist things, and just for being you! I count you as one of my best friends. We've talked on the phone and/or texted everyday since the trip, so I'd say we are doing pretty good keeping up on our promise to keep in touch better! :)

P.S. Plans are definitely in place for her to visit this summer, and I put an alert on plane tickets so I can one day go back and visit her! :)

Have you ever had any super close online friendships? Have you ever met in person any online friends?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Kindergarten Homeschool Update

Now that we are half way through the school year, I thought I better do an update on our homeschool year.

If you remember correctly, we originally had Zoelle signed up for a local private school, then about a week before school was to start, several factors made us change our decision and so we ended up homeschooling Zoelle. If you missed that post, you can read all about our decision here.

I was so nervous going into a major decision like that with my Zoelle who seemingly fights with me on everything! I poured my heart out last spring with all of you on how hard parenting can be with her. So to make a decision to have her at home, when if I'm honest, most days I need a break, it scared me! I remember even telling Chris that if I call him everyday crying and telling him I can't do it, that we will be sending her to school.

The first week started, and I was pleasantly surprised that she did well. Really well. Well, the school part I wasn't surprised on, she has always loved school and loves to learn. It was the not fighting with mommy part that shocked me! She did her work, actually begged for it and loved it the whole time! The real test for her and me, would be when it got too cold out to go outside to burn energy. In the past, winter is the hardest for both her and I. We pretty much are twins in our personality!

As much as I prayed we would have a winter like last year, I knew most likely it wouldn't happen, so when it came, I braced myself for changes in Zoelle. Instead, she kept right on with a positive attitude about school and towards me. Each day she begs me to learn. If I can't sit and do school with her, she is working on her own workbook, practicing her piano, or reading.

A few weeks ago, she came up to me and told me, "Mom did you know three, seven times, is 21?". I was astounded! We have done some adding and subtraction, but never had I taught her multiplication. So I tested her a bit more. "What are five, fives Zoelle". "Umm...25", she answered after a few moments of thinking! After asking her several other multiplication problems, that she answered correctly, we realized she just is gifted in math (she has since gone through 3 math books). She loves math and reading and I'm ok with that as those are two things absolutely necessary in life.

She also loves choir! She is in a local community kids choir and while her teacher did pull me aside at the beginning of the year asking me if she was just extremely shy or hated choir (to which I assured it is the former), she really came out of her shell and loved her very first choir concert.

Another thing she loves is her piano! I've been teaching her since last year and while last year started off slow, this year she has been teaching herself new songs during the week when she is supposed to be practicing her assignments. She can't seem to get enough of piano!

As for the little girls, I have yet to start any school with them. I tried the first few weeks of school, and they were more interested in playing then in doing any school. However, Meridian has shown some interest in the past few weeks and so I promised her with this new year, we would try.

If you are curious which curriculum we are using. Zoelle is using Little Hearts For His Glory while Meridian (and eventually Xiomara) will use Little Hands To Heaven. I still love them both and would highly recommend them!

Overall, I cannot believe I can say this, but homeschooling Zoelle has been the best decision we have ever made this year. She has really blossomed and our relationship has come almost full circle (although we still have our days). I'm very thankful I took a leap of faith and decided to homeschool her!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Softcup Review

First things first, if you are a guy, you may want to leave this blog post now as it's about to get a little personal in here. Unless of course, you are reading to get information for your wife or girlfriend.

But today we are going to talk about periods. Not the little dot at the end of a sentence, but rather the inconvenient thing that visits us every month or so.

Growing up, I always, always used tampons. In fact, I remember my mom saying something about making sure I use tampons right away so they aren't scary to me. After I had Zoelle and my periods returned, I went back to tampons. It was the only thing I knew.

Before getting pregnant with Meridian, I started hearing something about cloth pads, better known as mama cloth. I was intrigued and because I hate that nasty chaffing feeling of wearing pads 24/7 after you have a child, I decided to order a bunch. I fell in love with them! Don't laugh until you have tried them, then come back and talk to me! Especially for postpartum nastiness and healing, they are the best thing ever!

After Xiomara was born, I started hearing more and more about feminine cups. I bought myself a Diva Cup on the recommendation of many, and despite how much I try, I just can't get it to work (sorry if that is TMI). Thus, when Moms Meet offered for me to try Softcup, I was instantly excited. Yes, even about getting my period!

What is softcup? It's a greener, simpler alternative to pads and tampons. It's a soft, flexible cup that is worn around your cervix. It works by collecting, rather than absorbing. It's soft and you can do any activity while wearing it!  It is not linked to TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) and is hypo-allergenic and latex-free.  It's also very affordable, costing only $8-$10 for a 14 pack.

So how did it work? Actually very well. I don't want to go into a ton of personal details for your sake and mine, but it was easy to get in, worked well, and easy to take out. It is a bit messy when taking out, but that is only because it doesn't absorb, rather holds. I did have a few leak issues at the beginning, but that is only because I didn't quite know how to place it correctly in. After looking around on their site, several of my questions were answered under their How To section. Furthermore, I found their Facebook page extremely helpful in answering questions or offering tips!

If Softcup is something that interests you and you are wanting to give it a try, look for it in your Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, and many others, along with online! I personally recommend it! You just might be surprised at how easy and nice your periods can be!
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 product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC, or the manufacturer of the product.