#Spon: Today Starts a New Beginning with @Medifast #Giveaway

sampleDisclaimer: I received a sample of the Medifast products in order to facilitate my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Medifast products and the Medifast program are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.

Day 1 with Medifast

It’s no secret: Weight Loss is kind of a big deal on this blog. I worked really hard last year to get to my lowest weight I’ve seen in almost 13 years!

But, I’ve got to be honest. I didn’t do a very good job of sticking with it. I thought I could maintain my weight without eating right or exercising often. Boy, was I ever wrong.

Now, here I am, heading right back to the me I swore I would NEVER be again. I’m up TWENTY POUNDS from my lowest weight last year, and I want to cry.

But I will not sit down and cry about it. I will not wallow in self pity and eat – like I’ve done way too many times the past 6 months. Not anymore.

Today begins a NEW DAY to a NEW ME. The one who makes better choices, who gets it right, and who loves the way she looks and feels. Gone are the days of stress eating and eating because I’m bored. I will once again begin my daily exercise routines and work to create the healthy me I *know* is in there.

This time, though, I’m not doing it alone. I’m teaming up with Medifast, and for the next 30 days, I will be participating in the Medifast Achieve™ 4&2&1 Plan, and I will share my progress with you along the way.

I am excited about this new journey and my partnership with Medifast. I’m ready to work hard, eat right, and do it for keeps this time around!

Have you thought about trying Medifast for yourself? Maybe now it’s time for you to make that next step! I’ve got a few ways to help you do just that!

DISCOUNT CODE

How about a discount? If you use the code Blessed25 on the Medifast website, you will receive $25 off your order of $250 or more, as well as free shipping! It’s a great way to get you started on your own journey.

GIVEAWAY

Want to try the Medifast Products before you jump in? Medifast wants to give away a box of brownies to one lucky reader! To win, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post and tell me WHY you want to get on a healthier track. Is it for your children? Is it for yourself? Is it because you’ve just put it off for too long? Whatever your reason for wanting to be healthier, I want to hear!

The giveaway will end 5/11 at 11:59pm. US Residents only, ages 18 and older.

I would LOVE to have you join me on this journey! Please check back to see my results each week. You can also track my results on Instagram and Facebook, so be sure to follow me there.

Also, be sure to follow Medifast every way you can in order to learn more about them:

#Spon: #SickJustGotReal – Beat Cold & Flu Season with Pfizer Pediatric Products @Target #Giveaway

sampleDisclaimer: The Pfizer Pediatric Platform products, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. All thoughts and reviews are my own.

#SickJustGotReal

Cold and flu season in our house is a nightmare. With 8 kids, they pass germs like crazy! Playdates, school, birthday parties, church activities, even trips to the park and the grocery store expose the kids to more germs than I even want to think about. So, naturally, someone ends up sick. Then, just as one gets better, two more get sick. It’s a viscous cycle that we can’t ever seem to beat.

Thankfully, we can stock up on Pfizer Pediatric products at Target when Sick Gets Real in our house. They help us be prepared for fevers, coughs, and colds that come our way and want to linger in my kids.

sickjustgotreal

If Sick just got real.™ for your family, there are so many different solutions to help tackle the worst of symptoms, like Children’s Advil®, Children’s Robitussin®, and/or Children’s Dimetapp®:

  • Infants’ and Children’s Advil® provide unsurpassed fever and pain relief(1) , and contain ibuprofen, the medicine pediatricians use most for their own kids’ fevers(2) (for ages 6 months -11 years)
  • Children’s Robitussin® provides soothing action and cough control with some formulations lasting up to 8 hours (for ages 6-12 years)
  • Children’s Dimetapp® provides great-tasting cold-fighting power and is the #1 pharmacist recommended brand for children’s cough & cold symptoms(3) (for ages 6+)

*It is important to remember to always read and keep the cartons for complete warnings and dosing information on Pfizer Pediatric Platform products and to use as directed

Please take a few moments to check out the following links and learn more about the Pfizer Pediatric Platform products to help your little ones when Sick Gets Real at your house:

There’s no way around it. Kids get sick. It just happens, no matter how hard you try to prevent it. While there’s no way to keep the sickness from coming on, you can make your little ones more comfortable. So, if Sick Just Got Real at your house, head to Target and stock up on the Pfizer products listed above.

Giveaway

To help you stock up on all the things you need to keep your little ones comfortable this cold season, I’m giving away a Pfizer Pediatric Platform package to one lucky reader! Here’s what you’ll get:

 

  • A product bundle including each of the Pfizer Pediatric Platform products (Children’s Advil®, Children’s Robitussin®, Children’s Dimetapp®)
  • A $50 Target gift card to purchase additional Pfizer Pediatric Platform products at Target to get your family through cough, cold, and flu season

Want to win? Enter using the Rafflecopter Gadget below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway will end at midnight Thursday, 4/21. I will select and contact the winner that same day. You MUST claim your prize that day so that I can get your information over to the sponsor.

1 Among OTC pain relievers.

2 Based on a survey of doctors.

3 Source: 2015-16 Pharmacy Times and U.S. News & World Report.

#Sponsored: When Calls the Heart Returns for Season 2! #FaithTV #Hearties #Giveaway @WCTH_tv

sponsored
Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

HC_When_Calls_the_Heart_600x600

What will you be doing this Saturday night at 8/7c?

I will be on the couch, tuning into the new season of When Calls the Heart on the Hallmark Channel with my oldest daughter.

This is one premiere that has had me giddy with anticipation.

In order to create this post, I did receive the opportunity to view the Season Premier before it airs thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC.

I can’t give away any details, but OH.MY.GOODNESS. You cannot miss this premier! My daughter has been anxiously awaiting the return of When Calls the Heart, and it has been SO difficult to keep the details from her. But, I must. If for no other reason than I can’t wait to see her reaction as she watches it.

I love When Calls the Heart, because it is good, clean, family friendly, and fun. In my opinion, this is one of the best shows on television, and it’s something I don’t have to worry about my children watching. It’s perfect for the whole family!

In case you don’t know what When Calls the Heart is about, here’s a brief summary of the series:

The series is inspired by Janette Oke’s bestselling book series about the Canadian West. “When Calls the Heart” tells the captivating story of Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow), a young teacher accustomed to her high society life, who receives her first classroom assignment in Coal Valley, a small coalmining town where life is simple, but often fraught with challenges. Lori Loughlin plays Abigail Stanton, a wife and mother whose husband, the foreman of the mine, along with a dozen other miners, has just been killed in an explosion. The newly widowed women find their faith is tested when they must go to work in the mines to keep a roof over their heads. Elizabeth charms most everyone in Coal Valley, except Constable Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) who believes Thatcher’s wealthy father has doomed the lawman’s career by insisting he be assigned in town to protect the shipping magnate’s daughter. Living in a turn of the century coal town, Elizabeth will have to learn the ways of the frontier if she wishes to thrive in the rural west on her own.

Remember, the new season starts this Saturday, April 25th at 8/7c.

To get you excited about this week’s premier, World Films has offered up a set of When Calls The Heart Season 1 on DVD ($60 value!!).

Win a copy of Season one of When Calls the Heart!

To enter, use the Rafflecopter gadget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest ends May 1st.

I also want to encourage you to get social with other #Hearties in the following way:

Baby Bella Maya’s Gorgeous Infant Car Seat Covers {Review}

I love pretty things, and Baby Bella Maya’s infant car seat covers not only fall into the category of “pretty,” but they go above and beyond.

Baby Bella Maya sent me a sample of their Mid Summer Dream car seat cover to review, and I was truly blown away. The pictures online don’t even begin to do this car seat cover justice.

Since we knew we were going to be reusing Gage’s infant car seat, I really wanted a way to pretty it up for Carly. While the original cover was just basic black and grey, it wasn’t what I wanted for Carly. But, I couldn’t justify buying a whole new car seat just because I didn’t like the color of the one we had. (That works just fine and is still years away from expiring.)

That’s what makes the Baby Bella Maya car seat covers so perfect. You can find exactly what you want. Any theme, color scheme, or pattern that you like, odds are good that Baby Bella Maya will have something just for you in stock.

Take a look at the Mid Summer Dream car seat cover that I received:

Baby Bella Maya infant car seat cover

Gorgeous, isn’t it?

And it looks even better with a sweet baby girl inside:

Carly in a Baby Bella Maya covered car seat

I am absolutely in love with this cover.

Every time Carly and I go anywhere, I have someone stop me and compliment me on her car seat cover. And it usually turns into a 20 minute conversation about how beautiful the car seat cover is, how sweet Carly looks in it, where I got it, how everyone should get one… You get the drift.

The Baby Bella Maya infant car seat covers are made to fit Graco Snugride and Peg Perego infant car seats. However, we use the Safety 1st Onboard Air 35SE infant car seat and the cover fit perfectly. People ask all the time if I bought the car seat like that or if I just bought a cover. And, I love that they are SAFE. Nothing sits between baby and the seat belt, unlike some other car seat covers I have seen. I won’t use anything unless it’s 100% safe for my baby, and this passes the test!

Putting the cover on was SOOOOO easy! It just slides right on over the original cover. It’s super easy to pull the car seat straps through as well. It literally took me less than 5 minutes to put the car seat cover, canopy, and seat belt strap covers on the car seat.

If you’re like me and can’t justify buying a whole new car seat, or if you just like pretty things, I highly highly recommend Baby Bella Maya infant car seat covers. Amazing quality, beautiful products, and it seriously makes me smile every time I look at it.

Learn more about Baby Bella Maya and all the products they offer by visiting their website: www.babybellamaya.com

You can also find them on the following social media outlets:

Disclaimer: I received an infant car seat cover from Baby Bella Maya in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way. No other compensation was received for this post.

Family Pictures, Baby Pictures, and More

While I may not be very “on the ball” when it comes to blogging, I AM getting so much done around the house. In fact, last week I even took some family photographs.

Of all of us.

With a self-timer.

And the best part? I actually ended up with a frame-worthy portrait of the 9 of us.

Take a look:

My Family

 

And here’s the one I got of just the kids:

All my kids

 

Aren’t they great?! I love them so much that I took advantage of the special Artsy Couture is having on canvas prints and I ordered each picture as a 16×20 canvas. Can’t wait to get them!

And, since I’m sharing pictures, I HAVE to share my two new favorite portraits that I took of Carly last week.

Carly Grace

Carly Grace

That top one of Carly was my “Must Have” shot. Now, I love it so much that I’m thinking I may need to redesign the blog around it. 🙂

Carly is such a good baby. She sleeps well, eats well, and hardly ever fusses. The kids all still love her, and we have fallen into a nice routine around here. I couldn’t ask for anything more. (Well, maybe a few more non-sleeping hours to get some blogging done!)

I hope life is treating you well. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on the pictures above.

@LOrealParisUSA #MagicBBCream Review Thanks to @SheSpeaksUp

I am not one to wear a lot of makeup. But I am also not one to go without any makeup either. I will not leave my house without at least putting on my face.

With 7 kids, you can imagine how hard it is for me to find the time to get ready to face the day. I have to shower, do my hair, and apply makeup. And I have to do it all with anywhere from 3 – 7 kids in the house at any given time. (The older 4 go to school.) Talk about chaos.

Loreal BB CreamBut, thanks to L’Oreal Paris Magic BB Cream, I can get ready in less time. This one magic little bottle has replaced my moisturizer,  foundation, powder, AND blush. I just dab a little on, rub it in, apply my eye makeup, and viola! Makeup complete and I am ready to get on with my day.

I absolutely love this cream. I love how well it evens my skin tone and covers all my flaws. And I love, love, love that this one tube completely replaces 4 products that I had been using before. Not only does it save me time, it’s also going to save me lots of money.

The cream starts out white, then as you rub it in, it magically adjusts to match your skin tone perfectly. Not only does it provide coverage for dark spots and acne, but it evens skin tone and moisturizes all at the same time.

The price of the L’Oreal Paris Magic BB Cream is $10.95. That may sound a little pricey at first, but when you think about what it can potentially replace, it’s an excellent bargain. For me, I just need to buy one tube of BB Cream and can avoid buying moisturizer, foundation, powder, and blush. That’s an incredible savings!

If you’re a busy mom on the go, or if you don’t like the heavy caked on feeling some makeup can leave on your face, I highly recommend L’Oreal Paris Magic BB Cream. It has completely transformed my morning routine, and I am hooked!

To learn more about L’Oreal Paris Magic BB Cream, click here.

Disclaimer: I received a tube of L’Oreal Paris Magic BB Cream from SheSpeaks in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own. No other compensation was received for this post.

fitbit aria: Wi-Fi Smart Scale {Review} #FitbitAria

As you all know, before I got pregnant last year, I lost 40 pounds. Now, here I am, 10 months later, and I’ve found those (almost) 40 pounds again. That means it’s time to buckle down and get those extra pounds off again.

fitbit aria blackI am so excited to have the fitbit aria on my side this time. This scale does it all! I’m excited to meet with my doctor and find out just how soon I can get on a diet and exercise plan. Since I’m only 10 days post-partum, I assume I’ll have a few weeks that I’ll need to wait before I jump into anything rigorous. In the meantime, breastfeeding is a fantastic form of weight loss, so at least I have that on my side. As long as I continue to eat right, I should be ready to rock and roll as soon as I get the approval.

But enough about that. Let me get back to this amazing scale. The fitbit aria is unlike anything I have ever seen. There are so many things I love about it, that I hardly know where to start!

So, let’s start with the look of the scale. It’s a sleek, modern design, and it will compliment any decor. (It’s also available in white.) The look is fun, modern, and makes me want to step on it! 🙂

Next, let’s talk about some of the features of the fitbit aria.

  • Connects through wi-fi to a free fitbit.com account. This makes the scale totally personalized to YOU. (And up to 7 other people in your house.)
  • Tracks your weight, your BMI (body mass index), and your body fat percentage. You can easily set goals, and you earn badges for every 5 pounds of weight lost.
  • Log food intake, workouts, and more to get clear graphs of how well you are doing.
  • Easily access your information 24/7 online at fitbit.com or with your iPhone or Android smart phone.
  • Share your progress with friends to keep yourself accountable, and you can even compete with them if you’d like.

Setting the scale up is SO easy. I thought for sure that it was going to be complicated and I would spend hours trying to link my scale to my home’s wi-fi network. Boy, was I ever wrong! In less than 5 minutes, I had my free fitbit account created and set up, synced my scale, and had input my first weight. Then, I sent invitations to my husband and my daughter so they can use the scale at home too.

fitbit invitesIf I were to change anything, the ONLY thing I would change is how you add users to the scale. Right now, all you can do is send an email invite and add them once they accept. While that’s fine, I’d also like a way to manually add members to our scale without emailing an invitation.

Overall, I am seriously impressed with the fitbit aria, and I would recommend it to anyone that is serious about losing weight.

While $129.95 sounds a bit pricey for a scale, when you consider everything you get for the price, it’s an excellent value. After researching, I’ve found many wi-fi scales that charge a monthly or yearly fee. Fitbit is completely free to sync and use – no matter how often you use it. It is, by far, the best value in a wi-fi scale that I have found.

fitbit badgesI’m looking forward to really getting back on the weight loss wagon and losing the weight I gained with my last pregnancy. I’ve lost it once, and I know I can lose it again. And now that I have the fitbit aria, I know I’m even more likely to succeed – hopefully even faster than I did the last time!

If you are trying to lose weight, I recommend you check out the fitbit aria. It will help you set and meet all your weight loss goals… as publicly or as privately as you’d like to.

Disclaimer: I received a fitbit aria from FitBit and MomSelect in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way. No other compensation was received for this post.

Blessing #7 Has Arrived… and What an Entrance She Made!

Most of my faithful readers know that I have been anxiously awaiting the birth of baby #7. Honestly, this has been my longest pregnancy yet… or at least it felt that way. We found out in early summer that we were expecting, and after going through Summer, Fall, and Winter, it felt like I would never make it to 39 weeks or my induction date.

At my last doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, January 29th, my cervix was still very high, very posterior, and only 1 centimeter dilated. Since my induction was set for that Friday morning, the doctor decided that I would head into the hospital Thursday night instead. He wanted to use Cervadil to help ready my cervix before starting the pitocin in the morning.

We arrived just before 8pm, got checked in, and headed up to Labor & Delivery. After answering 8 bazillion questions, they finally got me hooked up to the monitors and watched the baby and my contractions for a little while. Around 9:30pm, the nurse checked my cervix, (still posterior and still only a 1), MOVED my cervix forward, (do not ever, ever let anyone do this to you. Oh my gosh.), and then inserted the cervadil.

I was doing great until a little after midnight… and then the back labor started. Now, in all of my labors, I have never, ever had back labor until now. It was awful. My husband slept soundly on the couch bed next to me, while I bounced on the birthing ball, trying anything I could to ease the pain. At this point, my cervix was maybe a 2. Maybe.

Around 5 am, they started the pitocin. Shortly after that, the back labor pains were so bad that I asked for some kind of pain medicine just to take the edge off. They gave me Phenergan and Stadol in my IV. Within minutes, I was sound asleep. Unable to function, couldn’t wake up. I don’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing. My cervix was at a 3, but not really making much progress.

At 7:45am, the doctor came in and checked me. I was still incredibly out of it and couldn’t wake up from the stupor of the pain medicine. I was finally at 5cm, so he broke my water.

By 8am, I still wasn’t really “with it” but the contractions were incredibly intense. I don’t know how I didn’t break my husband’s arm, I was squeezing so hard. They checked me – now at a 7 – and ordered the epidural.

Not moments later, I knew I had to push. In fact, I was screaming at the nurses that I was pushing, and they kept telling me not to push and to just hold on… the doctor was coming.

But, seriously – when you have to push, how do you NOT push? It wasn’t happening.

The next thing I know, the doctor walks into the room, puts on his gloves, and I delivered Carly right on the bed. No time for him to catch her, no time for the nurses to get the bed apart, no time for an epidural. She literally popped out! She was born at 8:09 that morning.

The cord was wrapped around her neck twice, and she was very, very blue, so the doctor quickly removed the cord, and they whisked her off to get her lungs cleared out.

I was still so out of it at this point, and don’t really remember what all happened. That medicine just had me so out of it. Her apgar scores were 7 and then 9, so she perked up really quick. And hubby stayed beside her the entire time.

Me, Gage, and CarlyThey cleaned her up and then moved us to another room. Around 10:00, hubby went home to take a shower, and the nurse took the baby back to the nursery. I took a nap, and when I woke up around 11:30am, the meds had finally worn off and I was wide awake – and couldn’t believe how well I felt! I took a shower, did my makeup and never once felt like I had just given birth hours before.

The doctor came in around 1pm, and I asked him if there were any way we could go home. He said that he was fine with my going home, but we’d need to get approval from the pediatrician to allow the baby to go home so early.

Later that afternoon, after a thorough check up with the pediatrician, we were allowed to go home. We would need to bring the baby back the next day for a few tests, but there were no other restrictions.

We left the hospital a little after 6pm, ran to the grocery store – because we had NO food in the house. (All the kids were away for the weekend, and we were planning on being in a hospital for at least 2 – 3 days.) We were home by 7 o’clock that night. Less than 11 hours after Carly was born.

This was definitely my most interesting – and fastest! – delivery to date. But it was also, by far, my easiest. I absolutely cannot believe how good I feel. God is just so good!

I want to thank each one of you who has called, sent messages, or prayed. Every thought, prayer, and message just means the world to me.

With the entrance that this baby girl made, I have  a feeling she is going to keep me on my toes! But I’m already head over heels in love with her, and she has made the perfect addition to our family.

I’ll be uploading some pictures to the Facebook Page soon, so be sure to check them out!

#CascadeComplete Gets Your Dishes Sparkling Clean in 2013!

Cascade Complete

In my house, we do a lot of dishes. I mean a lot. There are days when my dishwasher will run at least 3 times – once after each meal. Cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a family of 8, I need a dishwasher detergent that can handle lots of dishes and lots of mess.

That’s why I love Cascade so much. In fact, Cascade Complete tabs are the only dishwasher detergent I will use. I’ve tried switching to the cheaper stuff, but it only frustrates me. My dishes get cloudy, and I have to use 2 – 3 packs per load instead of one Cascade Complete pack. So, in the end, I’m really not saving any money because I would have to buy the “cheap stuff” so much more often.

For this review, Cascade and Social Moms sent me a 3 pack of Cascade Complete tabs to try out. I simply took those 3 tabs and added them to my much larger bag that I already had under my counter. 🙂 I know when I have found a product worth staying loyal to, and Cascade Complete tabs are such a product.

When I don’t use Cascade Complete dishwasher detergent, I find that I sometimes have to run the same load twice just to get it clean. Or my glassware comes out dingy and dull. And when it comes to baked on/stuck on food, I end up running a dish through the dishwasher, take it out, scrape off the baked on food, and then run it through the dishwasher again to make sure it’s really clean.

On the contrary, whenever I use Cascade Complete, my dishes are clean after the very first run through the dishwasher. My glassware comes out sparkling clean, and I actually want to drink from my glasses. Dishes are spot free, and baked on food? It’s no match for Cascade Complete! One run through the dishwasher, and those pots, pans, and casserole dishes come out looking like new.

It’s official in our house. We won’t be using anything but Cascade Complete in our dishwasher!

For more information on Cascade Complete, check out their website: www.cascadeclean.com

Also be sure to checkout Cascade on Facebook and become a fan!

Do your dishes have spots? Would you be willing to give Cascade Complete a try and “get sparkling clean in 2013?”

 

Disclaimer: This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Cascade blogging program, and I received free product from P&G for participating. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on this topic, click here.

Getting the Super Mom Complex Under Control

beth moore quote

In my effort to PURGE this year, I have decided that my Super Mom Complex needs to be reigned in and brought under control.

I don’t know how you are as a mom, but I think I can do it all. The problem is, I’ve been doing so much for everyone else that I have neglected to take the time for myself and my marriage.

So often it seems like hubby and I get pushed to the side. The kids need this, the kids have to go here, the kids, the kids, the kids. And, I try to do everything I can. But, I’ve had enough. My relationship with Christ, my quiet time with Him, AND my relationship with my husband all need to come before anything else.

Now, hear me out. I am not saying that I’m going to stop doing things for my kids. What I am saying is that I’m going to be much more selective about the things I do for them. Do I need to run myself ragged  trying to get everything done they need to get done? (“Moooom, I need 4 dozen cupcakes by tomorrow!”) Absolutely not. I will still do my best to help them, but they are going to have to learn to be more responsible to do things for themselves.

On Tuesday, I went back to my OB/GYN for my 35/36 week ultrasound and check up. At my last appointment, I had been diagnosed with tonsillitis and treated with antibiotics. The doc took another look at my throat and told me that it actually looked worse than it did at the time of diagnosis. For the past 2 weeks, I have killed myself getting the boys to their surgeries, doing things for the older kids for school, ushering the kids everywhere they needed to go, and doing all the chores that the kids somehow seem to always get out of, that I neglected to take any time for myself and just rest. Now, I have to go see a specialist because this infection is so severe that it can actually become dangerous during pregnancy. If I had just taken a few hours here and there and taken a nap – or even just rested, I might not be in this predicament at all.

Then, yesterday, I was listening to the radio, and I heard the Beth Moore quote that I posted above, “No one can do a thousand things to the glory of God.” It was like a stone right between the eyes. Like God was speaking to me through the radio.

I try to do so much for everyone else, and I say that I’m doing it all to the glory of God, but I can’t be. If I am taking on so much that I can hardly function, I am not doing anything for His glory.

Therefore, I’m calling a mom time out. I’ve got a baby coming in the next 2 – 4 weeks, and I need to just chill out until she comes. The kids will be fine, and if they need something, they are perfectly capable of getting off the couch and getting it themselves. I need a break.

Are you suffering from the Super Mom Complex? What have you done to get it under control?

After Ear Tube Surgery

Recently, my 21 month old had surgery where they removed his adenoids and put tubes in his ears.

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After we got home, I had about a bazillion questions, but the more I googled, the more frustrated I became. I just couldn’t find any answers to all the questions that I had.

So, I figured I would put up a post and tell you what you might expect to see after your child has a similar surgery. Please note that what Gage experienced after his surgery may not be what your child experiences, but since I couldn’t find any information out there, I want people to have a starting point.

First, the inside of your child’s ears will be gross. I mean really, really gross. There’s lots of drainage, and the gunk builds up in the ear canal and directly outside of it. This is normal. And, thankfully, it disappears within just a few days. (Where it goes, I have no idea… except for the chunk of gunk Gage pulled out of his ear and then handed to me. Ick!!)

There will be discharge for several days after surgery. With Gage, his ears actually started pouring out blood. This absolutely freaked me out, so we called the doctor that performed the surgery and then headed to the ER. It turns out that Gage’s ears were probably infected at the time of the surgery, and that is what caused them to bleed so badly and run a very high fever.

They started Gage on another round of antibiotics, and by the next day he was completely back to normal. No more bleeding ears, no more fever, just his happy little self.

Typically kids don’t have any issues after surgery, but it IS possible for complications to arise – especially if your child’s ears were infected at the time of surgery.

Also, if your child has their adenoids removed, they will have VERY bad breath for at least 2 weeks. (Though it can last up to 4 weeks.) If you are pregnant, the smell of their breath can literally knock you to the floor. It is bad. But, it is normal, and it is all part of the healing process. Their nose will also run quite a bit. Keep lots of tissues or Boogie Wipes on hand.

If you have any complications after your child’s surgery, CALL THE DOCTOR. They will be able to tell you exactly what is going on, or if you need to take a trip to the Emergency Room.

For the record, I have noticed a HUGE difference in Gage since his surgery. I absolutely believe he can hear better because now he is trying to talk so much more, and his words are so much clearer. He is sleeping through the night, and he is just as happy as can be. I am so glad we had this surgery done. Even though there were complications, I still think this was the best choice for him.

Did your child have tubes put in his ears? What was your experience?

Changes Coming to Blessed Beyond Words

For the past several months, I have been feeling quite overwhelmed with keeping up with reviews, giveaways, and everything else on this blog. With the arrival of baby #7 just weeks away, I have been terrified that this will only get worse.

It wasn’t until this week at our church’s revival that it hit me: I am using my blog for all the wrong things.

So, I plan to make some big changes around here. There will not be as many product reviews and/or giveaways. I know, I know. This is going to kill my stats and social media ranking. That’s ok. There will still be some reviews and giveaways, but I will be much more selective about the products offered up to my readers. Why? Because I don’t want to share “fluff.” I want to share things that my readers genuinely need and want to hear about. I do have several commitments that I need to follow through with, so expect a few review posts in the immediate future, but they will slowly start to trickle off.

I will also be using my blog more to discuss topics I believe my readers want to hear about as well. You will see lots more posts on cloth diapering, parenting, relationships, faith, and (once the baby is born) weight loss. (Remember that 40 pounds I lost? Yeah, I found it. Now I have to lose it all over again!)

Also, if there are more topics you would like me to discuss, please don’t ever hesitate to use the contact form to let me know! (I’m also putting one in the sidebar for quick and easy access.)

I have a feeling that this will cause me to lose many subscribers and followers, but that is their loss… and then they will miss out on the giveaways I do host! I just really feel that I need to use my blog to help and encourage mothers out there… not bog the internet down with more useless mumbo jumbo that just takes up space.

2013 is going to be a great year, and I am genuinely excited about these changes. I hope that you will stick around and see what I have up my sleeve. Heaven knows I’ve got lots to talk about. 🙂

Thank you to my faithful readers and friends in 2012. I’m looking forward to spending 2013 with you as well!

My Word for 2013: PURGE

2013: PURGE

For the past month or so, I have prayed about the word God would have me to keep in mind throughout 2013.

I’ve finally found it!

My word for 2013 is PURGE.

Here are 13 ways I plan to PURGE my life this year:

  • I will PURGE the things in my life that hinder my relationship with Christ.
  • I will PURGE any thoughts or reactions that might harm my relationship with my husband.
  • I will PURGE the things in my life that keep me from spending time with my children.
  • I will PURGE from my home the clutter and things I no longer need and either donate them or throw them away.
  • I will PURGE from my life relationships that do not foster my relationship with Christ.
  • I will PURGE from my heart any bitterness or unforgiveness that may be hanging around.
  • I will PURGE from my eyes anything that does not need to be set before them. (TV shows, movies, etc.)
  • I will PURGE from my Bible verses that I can memorize and apply to my life.
  • I will PURGE from my diet foods that do not help me meet healthy living goals I have set for myself.
  • I will PURGE from my mouth any desire to gossip or say things that could harm another person.
  • I will PURGE from my mouth any desire to “snap back” or get angry.
  • I will PURGE my desires to nag my husband or children and instead use words to encourage and uplift them.
  • I will PURGE through last year’s Prayer Journal, rejoice in the blessings God has given us, and start a new journal for this year.

Those are my goals for 2013. While they will not be easy, I rejoice in the fact that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Phil. 4:13)

What’s your word for 2013?

Thankful for the Blessings of 2012

Happy 2013!

As 2012 draws to a close, I just want to reflect for a moment on the many blessings God has bestowed upon my family this year.

This has been a roller coaster year for us – full of ups and downs. I am so thankful, though, that there were lots more ups than downs.

Several months ago, something happened with my husband’s job, and he ended up taking a huge pay cut. We went from living paycheck to paycheck, to barely being able to live. Yet somehow, the money we needed was always there.

There were times when I didn’t know where our next meal would come from, and on those days, food would appear on our front door step. I still can’t figure that one out.

All of our bills were paid, no services were ever shut off.

Someone at our church gave us money to fix both my husband’s car and our Expedition. (New brakes, new tires, the works.) There was no more getting in the car and just praying the brakes would work well enough to stop when we needed them to. We still don’t know who that angel was, but what a blessing bestowed on our family!

God more than supplied every single need we had.

I have been able to teach my children more about faith this year than I ever have before. God has been so good to us, and the kids have all seen that firsthand.

Oh, and hubby is back into a similar position that he was before everything happened, and his pay rate should be adjusted back accordingly soon. Praise the Lord!

I hope that 2012 was full of blessings for you and your family, and that 2013 will be full of even more love, family, and blessings for each of you. With our precious baby arriving sometime early this year, I am already looking forward to what God is going to do with our family.

Thank you for spending another year here with me at Blessed Beyond Words. I’ve got some big changes coming in the New Year, and I hope you’ll stick around and be a part of it.

Stay safe tonight as you celebrate. We’re off to our church’s revival, and I can’t wait to usher in the new year with some really great preaching.

See you in 2013!

Photo Credit: CrazyWebsite.com

What Pinterest is Doing to Motherhood

pinterest vs motherhood

As a mom, we want everything to be perfect. We want the perfect children, the perfect house, the perfect husband, the perfect life. And with just a few clicks of a mouse, we can “pin” all our dreams and desires onto a board in the hopes that someday we will turn those pins into reality.

I am blessed to have lots of mom friends, and I am so thankful for those friends. However, my heart is heavy because some of them are feeling guilty because they can’t achieve a pinterest-perfect life.

One mom has 4 children and had to opt for store bought cookies for her kids’ school Christmas parties. When she walked into each room, her guilt intensified at the site of reindeer pretzel cookies, snowman donuts, and other pinterest discovered goodies that covered the tables.

Another mom friend has 2 children and confessed that she was feeling guilty that she had to buy the cheap disposable diapers when all the “good moms” were going the cloth route.

What is going on here? When did snowman donuts, reindeer cookies, and making your own baby food become so much more important than teaching our children the things that really matter? We are teaching our children that it’s important to do things better than everyone else, to always have “the best,” and that stuff is more important than the intangible items. We are no longer helping form our children for God’s Army, but instead we are showing them how much control the world really has over us.

And, believe me, I am SO guilty of this. I can’t point fingers at anyone, because I have 3 fingers pointing right back at me.

In fact, let me just share with you my biggest flub up of 2012… My head hangs in shame as I share this with you…

When I was hanging up Christmas decorations this year, I went all out. Snowflakes hanging from the ceiling, tree trimmed in all it’s glory, icicles on the window, wrapping paper on all the pictures… I honestly about killed myself making Christmas “perfect” in our house.

My husband asked why I decided to go all out this year, and my response was, “I want to have the most pinterest-worthy house around.”

Hand – smack forehead.

I totally screwed up Christmas. Sure, I wanted the kids to love it, but I had so much more in mind. I wanted everyone to want to pin my Christmas decorations, mimic them, and drive tons more traffic to my blog.

It honestly didn’t even hit me until I read a status update on Facebook that said, “As mothers, the measures I believe we should judge ourselves on are actually simple: its not the size or “pinterest-worthiness” of their first birthday cake. It’s the amount of unconditional love and affection we give to our children, the values and confidence we instill in them, the quality of the time we spend with them, the examples we set for them in our actions as their role models…

That one quote cut me to the core. What have I been doing?! Since when does what other people (pinners) think of my home, my family, my blog mean more than what GOD thinks? Am I doing things for HIS glory, or for the glory of man?

I pretty much answered my own question right then and there, and it brought me under a deep conviction.

Am I saying pinterest is evil? No, not really. I’m sure I will still pin things that I like. Thanks to pinterest, I have found some really great recipes that my family enjoys, and I’ve saved money by making our own laundry soap, fabric softener, and other things. There IS good in Pinterest…. in moderation.

However, from now on, my relationship with my Savior comes first, followed by my relationship with my family. No longer will I worry or fret over how “pinterest-worthy” my decorations, my family, my blog, or anything else in my life might be. Instead, I want to know how God-worthy and God-honoring they are. I want my goal to be to please my Savoir, not anyone that might happen by my blog.

If I have to give up time with my husband or my children in order to complete a pinterest project, it will wait until I have “me” time… when the kids are in bed and hubby is working late. If it takes months for me to find that me time, then it will take me months to complete that pinterest project. End of story. No longer will my family compete for my attention because I have a board full of “Must Makes” that I just have to complete.

And if I find that I need to buy disposable diapers, cookies made by the grocery store bakery, or candles that I don’t get to cover in glitter and give as gifts, that’s ok to. I will not beat myself up for wanting to give the time to my family instead of screaming “Look what I did!” for all the pinterest-world to see.

I wrote this post as a reminder of myself of how much I am missing out on by worrying about what everyone else thinks. These are my convictions, and my feelings. I am not writing this to upset or anger anyone, just to maybe make you think a little bit. We are all entitled to our own opinions. If pinterest has helped you, be thankful for that. For me, it became too much and I need to back off and use it in a way that will not harm my family.

What are your thoughts on the pinterest movement? Is it helpful or harmful to motherhood in today’s world?

Celebrate the Holidays With Mike & Ike Merry Mix

 Mike and Ike Merry Mix

There are certain things in life that I consider the simple pleasures. Mike and Ike candies definitely fall into that category.

Now that the holidays are here, you can find Mike and Ike Merry Mix in your favorite store. You can also find the Mike and Ike Original Fruits and the Hot Tamales Theater Box Stocking Stuffers. They are certain to bring an extra big smile to the faces of your children Christmas morning.

In May of this year, Mike and Ike had a split. You may have noticed names crossed out on boxes. My kids sure did, and they are hoping Mike and Ike can make up and become good friends again. However, on these holiday packages, Mike and Ike have left the names untouched in honor of the holiday season. (Way to go, guys!)

Mike and Ike Merry Mix comes in a 14 ounce bag that’s perfect for sharing, setting out at parties, or munching on during your favorite Christmas movie. Merry Mix includes original flavors Cherry and Lime, plus it packs a “Holiday Punch.” (Which is my personal favorite!) The red, green, and blue colors are sure to make your season even more festive!

The Original Fruits and Hot Tamales Theater Box Stocking Stuffers come in 5 ounce boxes with holiday images of Snowmen or Fireplace scenes making them perfect for tucking into stockings that are hung with care.

We received an assortment of Mike and Ike and Hot Tamale products to review, and they have been quite a hit with my family. I love the Holiday Punch flavor in the Merry Mix, and the Original Fruits are always a favorite with my kids. They have all been asking for these as their stocking stuffers this year!

If you want to keep up to date on Mike and Ike’s Split, and everything else Mike and Ike related, take some time to visit them at the following places:

Disclaimer: I received a box of Mike and Ike goodies in exchange for my review and this post. Opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Parker’s Teeth: Before and After

I mentioned a few days ago that Parker, my 4 year old, would be having dental surgery this week. The surgery was on Thursday, and I am pleased to say that he did GREAT!

Parker doesn’t have any enamel on most of his teeth. So, even though we brush them twice a day and floss them, his little teeth have just been rotting away. It’s incredibly painful for him, as many of his nerves were exposed, so surgery was a must. (And for those that have asked, they aren’t certain yet if his adult teeth will be the same way yet or not.)

The bummer is that during surgery, they found more work that needed to be done. So, he will be going back on the 7th for a second surgery. But, they completely reworked his front 6 teeth, and he looks like a completely different kid!

Here, take a look:

parker teeth before

parker teeth after

And here’s the picture I shared on instagram right after his surgery:

Parker's smile before and after

The difference is uncanny, isn’t it? This will help him out so much. I can only imagine how much better it feels for him already!

He’s acted like a champ since he woke up from surgery. Never wanted any pain medicine, just kept telling me he was tough and didn’t need it. 🙂

I hate that he has to go through surgery again, but once we get all of his teeth fixed, I really think it’s going to help him so much.

Now, I’ve got Gage having his adenoids taken out and tubes put in next week, then Parker’s second surgery on January 7th… and then it’s going to be time for baby #7 to arrive! Things are about to get very, very crazy around here I think. 🙂

Torani Adds Flavor to Your Holidays!

If you are looking for a way to add some flavor to your holiday celebrations, look no further than Torani Syrups. These sweet syrups will add flavor to your favorite recipes, your coffee, or even your soda! With so many different flavor choices, you are certain to find at least one that will leave you smiling.

pumpkin pie syrupBefore I get to my review of Torani syrups, let me tell you a little about the company.

Since 1925, 3rd generation family-owned Torani has been crafting great tasting flavored syrups that coffeehouses use to make their flavored drinks taste so delicious. With over 120 flavors in Regular and Sugar Free varieties, Torani flavored syrups are perfect for flavored lattes, mochas, coffees, cocoas, Italian sodas, teas, lemonades, cocktails and smoothies. Coffeehouse professionals choose Torani flavors because they are expertly crafted and made with the highest quality ingredients, like natural flavors and pure cane sugar. The Sugar Free flavors have no calories and are sweetened with Splenda. Now, Torani flavored syrups are widely available at retail so you can easily create authentic coffeehouse quality drinks at home.

For my review, I was sent 2 bottles of Torani syrups: Hazelnut and Pumpkin Pie. The perfect flavors for the holidays!

The syrups were a hit at our Thanksgiving dinner. I watched as family members poured the syrups into their coffee, soda, and even sweet tea.  The bottle of the Hazelnut flavor was gone almost as soon as I opened it. I think it was the biggest hit. (I never got to try it… by the time I was ready to pour it into my drink, it was completely gone!)

When we got home from our celebration that night, I decided to try the Pumpkin Pie syrup in a drink recipe for me and my husband.

My husband and I both decided we would try the Mayan Pumpkin Cocoa. I didn’t have the Torani chocolate sauce, so I had to improvise, but this was still so good. It had just the right amount of pumpkin to chocolate ratio, and I truly believe it would have been even better if I had the Torani chocolate sauce. (I’ve added that to my shopping list for Christmas dinner!) I will probably end up getting both the regular chocolate sauce as well as the dark chocolate. I just love dark chocolate, and I think it would give the cocoa an even better flavor.

I am really impressed with the quality and flavor of the Torani syrups, and I will definitely be purchasing more for my Christmas and New Years celebrations. I’m excited that our local grocery store carries quite a few flavors, so I can really stock up! Plus, if my store doesn’t have exactly what I’m looking for, the Torani website allows me to buy products from them directly, or locate another store that might have what I’m looking for.

Flavor up your holidays this year with a bottle of Torani syrups. I promise your drink creations (and even food recipes!) will be the hit of the party. Check out the recipe page and start creating now!

Disclaimer: I am participating in a She Speaks blog tour for Torani. I received 2 large bottles of Torani syrups in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.

How to Make a Christmas Wreath (Tutorial)

 

You won’t believe how super easy (or cheap!) it is to make this wreath! Let’s get started, and we’ll fancy up your door this Christmas season.

Materials Needed
Christmas Bow (see my “How to Make a Large Bow” post.)
Wreath (I got mine from Walmart for $2.50. It’s 20 inches.)
Ornaments of different sizes/colors.
Large Ornament, Wooden Letter, Decoration, etc.
Hot Glue Gun
Florist Wire

 

Instructions

Step 1. First, you need your wreath. Mine was as flat as flat could be, so I had to spend some time “floofing” it into shape.

 

Step 2. Decide where you would like the bow to sit on the wreath.

 

Step 3. Fold a large piece of Florist Wire in half and use it to attach the bow to the wreath. (Be sure to twist the wire as tightly as you can. I use tweezers/wire cutters to do this.) Then, tuck any extra wire up into the wreath so you can’t see it.

 

 

Step 4. Decide where you want the large ornament/decoration/etc. to go, and flatten the branches around it as needed. Use LOTS of hotglue to glue it into place. (Especially if you’ll be putting the wreath on a door. If your house is like mine, the door will get opened – and slammed – about a thousand times a day.)

 

Step 5. Tuck the tails of the bow in the branches, leaving room to still glue on ornaments.

 

 

Step 6. Use lots of hotglue on each ornament and strategically place them all around the wreath.

 

Ta da! You have a beautiful wreath perfect for decorating your door, or giving as a gift this Christmas season! Just grab a wreath hanger from your favorite store, and hang your beautiful creation on your door… or wall. 🙂

Here’s what’s hanging on my door this year:

I would love to hear how your wreath turns out if you use this tutorial!

How to Make a Large Bow (Tutorial)

I will start out this post by warning you that this post will be loaded with pictures, so it may take some time to load. But, I want to give you step-by-step instructions to make it even easier for you.

Ok! Let’s get started! The instructions will be posted above each picture.

Materials Needed:

Large Roll of Wired Ribbon (I used 2″ x 75′. This will make quite a few bows.)
Florist Wire (Silver is best, all my Walmart had was green.)
Wire Cutters (optional. Mine are also tweezers, and I use them to twist the wire tighter around the ribbon.)

Instructions:

1. Decide how long you want the “tail” of your bow. (I always tend to make mine longer than I should – it’s easier to cut off more at the end than it is to start all over because it’s too short.)

 

 

2. Make your first loop. (This will determine how big your bow is. The larger the loop, the larger the bow.) Pinch the ribbon together at the end of the loop.

 

 

3. Make your second loop on the opposite side. Continue pinching the ribbon together in the middle.

 

 

4. Continue until you have as many loops as you’d like. (For this bow, I wanted 8 loops.)

 

 

5. Cut a long piece of wire, and then fold it in half for extra stability.

 

 

6. Wrap the wire around the area you’ve been pinching all this time. (Use wire cutters/tweezers to get the wire twisted as tightly as possible.) Do NOT cut the excess wire. You’ll need it in a minute.

 

 

7. To form the little center loop, use ribbon from the side of the ribbon you haven’t cut yet and make a small loop.

 

8. Use the extra wire that’s still on the bow and wrap it through the smaller loop to secure the loop to the rest of the bow.

 

 

 

9.  Secure with extra wire. (Optional: I do this if I know I will be putting the bow somewhere that it will be taking a lot of abuse – on an outdoor wreath, on a package, etc.)

 

 

10. “Floof” the loops and shape them exactly how you want them.

 

 

11. Cut the second tail from the roll of ribbon at the same length as the first tail. Then, cut each tail at an angle as shown below to make an upside down V shape. Repeat for each side. (To ensure they are exactly the same, you can put both tails together and cut at the same time.)

 

 

Tada! You have a finished bow!

 

These bows can be used on just about anything… gifts, wreaths, doors, you name it. Tomorrow I’ll share a fun wreath project that needs a pretty bow like this.

You can easily make a bow in under 5 minutes. Now all my friends know my secret, and they know why I have so many bows all over my living room. 🙂

I’d love to see your finished bows if you use this tutorial!