Sunday, October 16, 2016

Kindergarten: Six Weeks In

Kindergarten is here!  We are six weeks into the school year and I can't believe how well it has been going.  Samantha LOVES it!  She loves riding the bus, learning new things, and going to all her different "classes".  They have a rotating schedule that includes art, music, two days of PE, and rotating technology/library.  Samantha likes them all equally it seems though I love hearing about art and music the most.  She has brought home a few art projects that are just adorable.  I don't know how I will ever choose which ones to save at the end of the school year.  Definitely plan on at least photographing or scanning them all in just so that we can remember them all, even if we can't save each one.  She has a folder she brings home every day with all of her school work which is great since I love seeing everything they're working on.  Currently it seems like they're working on learning the days of the week.  The teacher must be a fan of old movies & shows because Sam has two songs about the days of the week that she tries to sing that go to the tune of the theme songs to The Adams Family and Happy Days!!  So funny!  I am blown away by how quickly Samantha is learning things.  She knows sight works and is starting to spell basic words and sound them out.  I can't even tell you how many times we started Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and couldn't get past like 14 lessons because she couldn't grasp it.  Granted she's still not at the point of the book, but she is picking up things super fast.  I'm so proud of her!

As we expected, she is having difficulty making friends.  She is just so shy.  The husband and I had a good laugh at Back to School Night when he asked the teacher a question about how all the kids were getting along and the teacher told that most were doing great but there were some students who always politely said "no thank you" when asked by others to play.  We knew immediately that she was talking about Samantha!!  She did come home one day saying she had 3 new best friends but then had about a week where she would come home upset saying they didn't want to play with her.  We've been working on ways to interact with them and talk/ask questions.  The other day she came home and said she "did her homework" of asking the girls what they were being for Halloween.  Hopefully it's something she will continue to work on and eventually we can have some friends over to our house to get to know them better.

Overall, I'm thrilled by how well things are going.  We go for parent teacher conferences sometime in November where we'll get a more in depth view of how she's doing in school and I can't wait to really learn how she's doing.  It's amazing how far she's come in six short weeks and I'm honestly looking forward to see what is in store for the remainder of the year.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Morning Snuggles

I am not a bedtime cuddler, never have been never will be.  To put it bluntly, I hate cuddling in bed.  I like to stretch out and get comfortable and have no one touching me.  On the couch sure cuddling is awesome but in bed I need my space.

That changed somewhat once we had kids.  After our oldest was born and I was on my own during the night (breastfeeding) I quickly learned that having the baby right in bed with me was a million times simpler than having her sleep somewhere else.  Co-sleeping quickly became the norm for us. Our oldest slept with us until she was a week shy of 15 months when we weaned and moved her into her room all in the same week.  I was shocked at how easy the transition was.  Even though after I got pregnant a second time
 I vowed to never co-sleep again (the successful move out was probably our 3rd or 4th attempt at getting her out of our room) old habits die hard and our son quickly ended up in our bed as well.  He lasted until his first birthday when he night weaned and moved into his crib.  Our youngest was the about the same and moved out shortly after her first birthday.  Our room has felt empty without them, but I must admit, it's been amazing having my space back.

Shortly after our youngest moved into her room (which is shared with big sister) she got sick and things quickly spiraled downhill.  Baby would wake up crying not feeling well and big sister would wake up crying because it was noisy and she couldn't sleep.  It was a vicious cycle I didn't have the emotional patience to deal with so big sister ended up back in our room.  She has a twin mattress on our floor where she sleeps but recently she has started making her way into our bed in the early hours of the morning.  I forgot how much I loved these snuggles!!

One of the things I remember the most about my childhood is snuggling with my mom.  I remember in 8th grade when our beloved dog Elliott died I started having pretty bad anxiety.  It started one day around the time of his death when I was in my dad's office in the basement eating a twinkie.  I'm not sure what exactly happened but I think a portion of the plastic wrapper went down my throat as I inhaled to take a bite.  I didn't swallow it or even choke really, but I had that split second of panic where I thought the plastic was stuck in my throat and I wasn't able to breath.  After that I constantly felt like I couldn't breath and was always in a state of panic.  Thoughts of death consumed me.  I remember several nights being extremely anxious and just laying with my mom and her warm embrace being enough to calm me down.

I know my daughter isn't dealing with anxiety like this and I pray she never does, but her coming to snuggle with me started when she got a cold too and wanted some comfort.  It has now become a daily thing and I seriously love it.  It makes me so happy to know that I can provide for her the same loving comfort that my mom provided to me.  Up until this morning though I didn't realize how much I relied on her for comfort as well.  My husband made her promise she wouldn't come into our bed until after he left for work.  I found myself lying awake around 3:00 am feeling nauseous and the only thing I wanted was her in my arms.  It was impossible for me to fall back asleep.  I've noticed that I could lay awake half the night unable to sleep but as soon as she's all snuggled up next to me, it's so so easy to drift off.

I absolutely love this bond we have and with kindergarten just around the corner I often wonder how much longer this will last.  Soon enough she'll be a "big girl" and cuddling with mommy will be so uncool.  As it is, the younger two are not big on cuddling so I will cherish every cuddly moment I can get.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Kindergarten Jitters...Still

The first day of kindergarten is all too quickly creeping up on us.  We have just two weeks left until the first day of school and I am still nowhere near ready.  Over the past week, first day of school pictures have been flooding my facebook newsfeed and each time I see one my anxiety creeps just a little bit higher with the thought that soon enough, that will be us.  Cliche as it is, it really does seem like just yesterday I was in the hospital giving birth and now here we are, off to school.  Where have the past 5 years gone?!

I think one of the biggest (though certainly not the biggest) contributing factors to my anxiety is the lack of being able to plan.  School is two weeks away...TWO weeks, and we have yet to learn who her teacher is.  We don't know what bus she will ride or what time she needs to be at the bus stop.  I don't know if I'm allowed to pack peanut butter sandwiches in her lunch box.  I just feel so under prepared.  When it comes to mentally preparing for things, especially when it has to do with my kids, I like to have everything laid out for me.  Here, it simply isn't there.  I am hoping the assignments come this week so that we can start talking about her teacher and remembering his or her name and start getting excited.

Next week we have Kindergarten Orientation.  I am not sure what all that entails but I'm excited to go.  I know we get to meet the teacher and see the classroom.  It will be nice to hopefully meet some other parents and start making friends.  I went out on a limb a few weeks ago and sent a facebook message to a mom I saw on our schools facebook page.  She had commented on a post that she was sending her son to kindergarten and upon visiting her profile I saw that she has 3 young boys.  Perfect right?  Unfortunately she read my message but never did reply. :'(  Hopefully that isn't a foreshadowing of how our making school friends is going to go.  As far as I know, there are no other kindergartners in our neighborhood so I really do hope that we are both able to make some friends at school.

As far as us, all we have left to do is finish school supply shopping.  We've purchased 5 (FIVE!!!) pairs of new shoes.  I don't think she has ever owned that many pairs of shoes in one size in her life.  Plus she has 2 other pairs that we got earlier, but not specifically for school.  We've gone clothes shopping and gotten her an entire new wardrobe.  She picked out her first day of school dress all by herself (sort of)!  We have a backpack and lunch box.  I can't think of any other things that we need.

If you have a child that has already gone to kindergarten, what advice would you give to a mom that is sending her child to school for the first time?  Seriously, the first time.  We have done 3 summers of VBS (one week, 3 hours a day) but other than that, she has never done a school, class, camp or ANYTHING where we have been apart so this is going to be a huge huge huge adjustment for us both!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

FunBites Challenge

Our Good Morning America FunBites bundle arrived just 2 DAYS after placing my order!  What amazing service!  We chose bundle B that included minions, squares, triangles, and hearts (in a different color than what we already have!).  Personally I think I'm most excited for the squares because of all the different things we will be able to build.  All three of mine are wanting to use the minions cutter first so I think we will try it out at lunch today.

Either tomorrow or Thursday we will do our big grocery store run for the week.  So, I'd like to take some requests.  Leave a comment with what you'd like to see us cut up or give us something to create!!  I will post each of the creations you suggest on our facebook page and then at the end, make a blog post to feature them all.

Thursday, August 4, 2016


With kindergarten just around the corner for my oldest daughter one thing that is very daunting to me is packing a school lunch.  I've never really been a food planner and for breakfast and lunch it's usually just a spur of the moment decision as I'm getting ready to cook.  However I know for school I'm going to need to be more on the ball and most likely even prepare and pack her lunch the night before.  With social media as big as it is these days I can tell that some parents go ALL OUT with their kids lunches.  I'll be honest and say that with 2 other young kids at home my time is valuable and fancy lunches most likely aren't going to happen.  Or so I thought!  A few months ago I came across FunBites!  These food cutter sets make creating a fun lunch SO easy.  FunBites was nice enough to send me their pink hearts set to try out and we have absolutely loved it.

The cutter is a two piece set which is great since you don't have to fiddle with getting your cutouts out of the mold once you are done pressing them.  There is one open piece that has the openings to cut your designs and the second piece is all the shapes filled in so once you press it down, the cutouts easily pop out. Super easy!

What I love the most about FunBites is how versatile they are.  I have tried other brands of sandwich cutters before and they are just that...sandwich cutters.  FunBites, however, are made of a super hard plastic which allows it to cut more than just bread.  It can cut cheese, fruit, sandwiches thicker than a generic pb&g.  Seriously, this can get through anything!  To add to the versatility as you can see in the picture the heart cutout is made up of hearts, half circles, and triangles!  This allows for so much creativity when making your designs.  My kids loved building circles and castles.  The possibilities are endless.

Here are examples of strawberries, cheese, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I tend to prefer using it to cut out fruits/veggies/cheese and other things that are either very thin or very hard.  I noticed with the peanut butter and jelly that the cutter is so strong that it almost squished the sandwich down to nothing.  The kids didn't seem to mind it though, so it's still a win for me!

Now here is the best part, FunBites are normally $9.99 each.  Today though FunBites has teamed up with Good Morning America and they have a deal that can't be beat!  If you visit THIS link there are 3 different sets of four FunBites for just $18!!  (Shipping for me was $5, not sure if it is different depending on region)  I'm excited to have so many options for making lunches this upcoming school year.

Also be on the lookout because this fall, FunBites is releasing a PAW PATROL cutout!!!  My son is going to be so excited to try them and I am too!

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Month of Never Ending Sickness

I am so sorry I have abandoned you all!  The last 3 weeks have been so, so rough.  Eliza got sick a little over three weeks ago and the illness slowly spread through the household and just never seemed to leave.  Eliza was sick, then Zach got sick, then Samantha got sick, then I got sick, then Chris got sick.  Then Eliza got sick again...rinse, recycle, repeat.  Ugh!!  After 2 weeks I finally gave in and took Eliza to the doctor because she suddenly started running a 100-102 fever every night.  Turns out, she has her first ear infection.  Poor girl!  They put her on amoxicillin, which is like the holy grail of all medicines.  Who doesn't like bubble gum?!  Apparently Eliza.  We have had a heck of a time getting her to take the 4.5 mL's twice a day.  The first 6 days we're lucky if she took half the medicine, even 1/4 of the medicine was good.  I was finally ready to give up and get her back to the doctor since we had tried everything.  Finally I sat her down and had a rational conversation with her.  Told her if she didn't take her medicine she would have to go back to the doctor and get even more medicine and that it wouldn't be fun.  And do you know what happened?  The little stinker took ALL of her medicine.  19 months old and we just had to treat her like a grown up haha.  Since then, as long as we explain that she has to take her medicine so she doesn't have to go back to the doctor, she does great!

I finally think everyone is on the mend. Samantha is only periodically coughing at night, Zach isn't coughing at all, Chris and I have been fine since the first round, and Eliza just needs to get her appetite back.  We are headed to the beach on Sunday and I'm hoping the fresh air will be just the thing we need to kick it to the curb for good.  Once I get back into the swing of things I have some awesome reviews to post on here.  I'm really quite excited about them and can't wait to show you all the fun products we've been playing with.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter

As the day comes to a close, I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Easter!  Although it was cloudy and sprinkly today, we still had a wonderful day full of food, family, and Jesus.  The kids woke up early today eager to open their Easter baskets so I was able to sneak downstairs and get some pictures of them coming down and seeing them spot their things for the first time.  It was adorable and they were so excited.

After opening baskets we had a nice breakfast and then headed off to church.  Church, of course, was a beautiful service and gave me chills as it always does.  Easter hymns are so uplifting and amazing and definitely my favorite songs of the year.  I was super excited to get some nice photos of the kids after church since our church has a giant cross at the front that everyone processes in and places flowers on.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed when we walked in and the cross wasn't there.  I found out afterwards that it was something the last pastor did and since we have *yet another* temporary pastor now, they didn't do it.  I said I hope they bring it back next year, so fingers crossed!  I was still able to get some okay pictures of them, even though getting them all to look at the camera at once was next to impossible.

Once we got home I attempted some more group shots which were pretty much equally catastrophic.  The pastor handed out chocolate crosses during the children's sermon and they handed out M&M's after church and I wouldn't let them hold the candy for the pictures and Eliza was NOT having that.  It made for some pretty funny pictures.

After that episode we got ready for dinner with our amazing cousins!!  I didn't get any pictures of all the kids together but they had a great time playing together and it was so nice to spend part of the day with family.  They brought over an AMAZING chocolate cake and cheesecake and my diet was completely shot for the day, but oh so totally worth it.  Seriously delicious!  She also brought some pretty flowers for the table!  Once they left, we blew bubbles outside, had our Easter egg hunt and movie night with The Good Dinosaur and then it was off to bed for everyone.  I am so thankful Chris had the day off and we got to spend it as a family.  We are so blessed!

Eternal is the gift He brings,
Therefore our heart with rapture sings:
"Christ has triumphed! He is living!"
Now still He comes to give us life
And by His presence stills all strife.
Christ has triumphed! He is living!
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Potty Training Update

We have about 6 weeks of potty training under our belt now so I figured I'd give a little update.  I don't know if it's just Zach or the fact that I'm potty training a boy but it has been about twenty times harder for him than it was for Sam.  With Samantha, we threw her on the potty one day and that was it.  She maybe had one accident but she knew what to do from the day we first put her on the potty.  For the first two weeks with Zach our days were really hit or miss.  He'd either go all day without an accident or pee twenty times all over the floor.  I'll tell you we went through a lot of paper towels and lysol!

Like I said in my previous post, we have about thirty pairs of 2T/3T underwear which was a great amount so that we didn't run out or be forced to wash every single day (though with urine saturated pants, you probably don't want them to sit long anyways).  I left five or so pairs on our kitchen counter so that I didn't have to run upstairs for a new pair every time he had an accident, plus it gave him several choices to pick from when he was changing.  Most days we didn't need to touch our spare underwear pile but some days, we went through it all.  The "problem" with Zach was that he did NOT respond well to the timer.  When we first started I set it for 20 minute intervals and each time it went off I had him sit on the potty.  He was not at all a fan of this so eventually I just let it go and tried to ask him every once in a while if he needed to go.  Thankfully, he pretty quickly realized what it felt like when he had to go and took himself right to the potty to do his thing.  The few accidents he did have, I think were just when he was too busy playing to stop and make it to the bathroom.

Shortly after we started potty training we took a trip to visit my in-laws in Connecticut.  I was a little nervous to see how he would do away from home, but I packed only diapers for overnight (which he was still using at home) and of course lots of underwear so that I wouldn't be tempted to revert back to diapers.  We got to our trip and I was blown away by how well he did.  We made the 6 hour drive up in one shot, without stopping once, and he got there completely dry.  I did keep a diaper on him for the drive just in case.  Once we got there he peed and went straight into underwear.  Now, we were there for 9 days, and I am thrilled to report he didn't have one single accident!!!  He even woke up dry every single morning.  Normally at home he would wake up with a diaper so full it would almost be bursting so this was HUGE.  I was so proud that he went the whole trip using the potty.

Once we got home, however, it was a different story.  During the day he continued doing great but night time was a struggle the first three nights.  In Connecticut all 4 of us shared a bedroom so once Zach woke up at 6-6:30, we ALL woke up.  After we got downstairs he would take himself to the bathroom and go potty.  At home, we put his little froggy potty in his room, but he refused to get up and use it alone.  He insisted on waiting in his bed until I came to help him but he wouldn't call out for me to come help.  Sooooo, the first 3 nights he ended up laying in a completely soaked bed until I came to get him.  After that, either Chris or I would get up and take him potty and then he'd go back into his room to either lay down or play with his cars.  After that we decided to resort to bribery.  When Samantha potty trained she earned a toy once she was trained and we intend to do that with Zach as well.  So as an incentive we told Zach that once he starts keeping his bed dry and going potty in the morning on his own he could earn something new.  This thrilled him and he has mostly gone potty on his own every day since.

Now our new thing, and a first for us, is peeing standing up.  Zach discovered yesterday that this is a possibility and now refuses to potty sitting down.  Thankfully, for now, he has great aim so it isn't too big of a deal.  He's so excited to go potty and is always telling me how much he loves using the potty and having no more diapers.  I hope this enthusiasm continues!!  Next up...Eliza!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Trying For A Routine!

At the end of February the kids and I spent 9 days in Connecticut with my in-laws.  I am not ashamed to admit that my kids are hooked on electronics.  They're probably more connected than I am and I'm on a lot.  While in Connecticut I made it a mission to cut back on the gadgets -- tv, iPad, kindle, you name it.  It was tough, but I think I did an okay job.  As a matter of fact, the first time Samantha's iPad ran out of battery, I "forgot" about it and didn't charge it for 3-4 days.  There were tears and there was fighting but she (and I) survived!!  Less use of electronics also helped us to get into a routine.  Routine is something that I'm not very good at as I am more of a go with the flow kind of person, but since we've been home, I've kind of enjoyed knowing I have something to do every day.

One of my mother-in-law's big things is one load of laundry every day.  The first thing she does every morning is turn on her washing machine and get a load in.  At first, I thought this was nuts because I'd only be washing one outfit per person, but after missing one day of doing my wash, I quickly realized how fast it adds up.  Doing wash every day has been super easy once we got home, mostly because Zach has wet the bed for 3 of those nights lol!  Even if it hasn't always been clothes I have definitely kept up with doing one load of laundry per day, sometimes even more.  Now if I could just keep up with folding it.  ;-)

Another suggestion she had was to play a clean up song every hour so the kids can clean up their toys.  She uses a song from Fly Lady while we had always sung the song from Barney.  The kids don't seem to have a preference to either song, we just make sure to play or sing something every time we are cleaning up.  Samantha and Eliza have been very into this though it has been harder to get Zach on board.  I'm hoping eventually they'll just get in the habit of cleaning up after themselves once they're finished playing with something but my mother-in-law is not optimistic.  Looking back, she's probably right because I remember our basement constantly being in a state of natural disaster because my brother and I not cleaning and my mom being adamant that we clean up whatever we were playing with before we took out something new.  I must have been 10 years old and still not cleaning up after myself!!

Now here's the part that is still tough...keeping the electronics away.  We wake up and eat breakfast, I have my laundry going...what next?  With 3 kids very close in age and still young enough to be wanting attention pretty much 24/7, it's easy to fall back on the tv or iPad to keep them entertained.  Now I know this is an electronic but I have found our Amazon Echo (aff.) to be amazing.  This is a bluetooth speaker that can interact with you.  Samantha loves to ask Alexa to tell jokes and tell us about the weather for the day.  I like that Alexa is connected to our music and the entire Amazon Prime Library.  Now rather than having the tv going all day for some background noise we listen to fun music and sing and dance together.  Our current favorite is the Chicken Dance and I'll Tell Me Ma for some Irish step dancing.

We have also been filling up time with reading and coloring.  All 3 kids are signed up for the reading program at our local library and love getting to color in acorns for each book they've read.  We will have even more reading to do once we can sign up for the summer programs and start on the kindergarten reading list.  So much to do and so little time!  I love coloring and it's so easy to pull up blank coloring pages from google and print whatever each child wants.

Now I just need to figure out how to work in some school work for the kids and we will be golden.  It has been so nice not having things going all day long and feeling like I've accomplished something during the day.  Thankfully as the weather gets warmer it will be easier to keep those gadgets turned off and be up and outside playing!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


For as long as I can remember, I have always had a love/hate relationship with children's clothing.  I find something I like, buy it, and 5 minutes later its been outgrown!  What a pain.  I feel like all we do is spend spend spend on clothes and I'm not going to lie, my kids are rough on their clothes, so it hurts when we put out so much money just for them to be ruined or outgrown after only being worn a few times.  Okay okay, of course they aren't really ruined to the point that they can't be worn, but of course stains and marks are going to happen and those drive me crazy.  Shopping seems to be more of a hassle than anything because I struggle to balance what is cute vs. what is practical while still getting a good deal.  Now, I don't have to worry about that anymore!

Last week, I got to talking with my sister-in-law Danielle about kids clothes and she told me all about a site she uses called thredUP which is a virtual consignment sale.  I'll admit I was a little leery at first as I feel like my experiences with resale shops has gone downhill lately.  Clothes are disorganized, overpriced, and very obviously worn.  You could spend hours looking for what you need because stuff is thrown around everywhere.  It's just not fun!  ThredUP takes all the hassle out of consignment shopping.  After Danielle pointed me in the right direction, I spent 2 hours browsing the clothes.  Everything is neatly sorted by categories making things so easy to find plus there is a search bar at the top so you can see if they have the perfect item you are looking for.  Seriously, SO EASY!  After all that browsing, I decided to pick 2 items for each kid just as a test run to see how their stuff was.  I placed my order on Friday and it already arrived today!!  Just 4 days which I found super impressive.

The box was adorable and packaged like a gift which I loved.

I dug right in to check out all our new clothes and boy was I impressed!!  Of the six pieces five of them were in impeccable shape.  Honestly, I would have never guessed that they were second hand clothes.  The last item has the faintest of stains and you really have to search for it so it doesn't bother me in the slightest.  Each piece of clothing has its own thredUP tag which I thought was the perfect touch and made me feel like I was getting brand new clothes.  I loved this!

Eliza was napping when the box came and Zach's clothes are for the summer so I only had Samantha to model her clothes.  She looked SO cute in everything.  She got the khaki shorts and jeans!

I am honestly shocked by how impressed I was by the whole shopping experience and quality of the clothes.  Now here is the great part, you have 14 days to decide if you want to keep your items.  If you decide to return them, thredUP proves you a prepaid postage label to return them!  If you return your items for store credit there is no charge, however, if you want your payment returned to your original payment method there is an $8.99 fee.  ThredUP also gives you the option to request a Clean Out Bag so you can send in your old clothes for PayPal or store credit.  Now, I read that they are super strict with their clothing and only accept <40% of what is sent into them.  Like I said before, we are rough on clothes and I seriously doubt they'd take any of our stuff so I haven't yet sent anything in.  However, it's easy to navigate the site to find out how to send in your items and what brands they will and won't accept.

But wait, there is more!  As of 2/10/2016 thredUP has teamed with 18,878 schools across the country so when you shop your school earns!  You can search for your K-12 school and once selected 5% of your purchases will go right back to the school you chose.  You can even designate your payouts from Clean Out Kits to go back to the school rather than yourself.  At this time, thredUP sends out checks to the schools' PTA twice per year and the check must be at least $100 or the money your school has earned is lost.  Unfortunately at this time, I am the only shopper linked with my daughter's future school so I better get to shopping!

For someone who has been turned off from consignment shopping, I can definitely say that I will be frequently visiting this site from now on.  I can't wait to start searching for summer clothes!  If you haven't yet tried thredUP and are interested in doing so, you can sign up via THIS link and get a store credit just for singing up!!  (I am not sure how much the credit is as the e-mail link gives $10 and facebook share gives $20, comment if you sign up and I can edit my post!)  You can try out the clothes and not have to pay out that much if anything!  After the bonus I got from signing up through my sister-in-law I only paid $24.93 shipped for all 6 items.  You've really got nothing to lose!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Stars Shine Brighter Because of You

*warning - This post contains triggering and graphic content (miscarriage)*

Today when I woke up and logged onto Facebook, I happened to click on my memories from this day to see a message from my husband regarding our family cat Wolfie.  Today, 7 years ago, is the day my dad called to say that he had found our cats lifeless body in the basement.  This threw me back to that time 7 years ago which was honestly a very rough point in my life.  I'm not sure if I should be ashamed or not to admit this, but until I read the post about Wolfie, I completely forgot about what happened on February 1st that same year.  On February 1st 2009 I miscarried our first baby.  I feel guilty that I don't acknowledge the date of this every year but the date that sticks out to me most is my due date.  September 8th.  Every year on this day I think about what could have been and what is now.  Hard to believe that in a few short months we'd have a seven year old!

I will be honest, back in 2008, Chris and I had only been married a year and babies were the farthest thing from the front of our minds.  Everything changed that May when my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer.  I knew she would be excited for grandchildren (though I didn't know HOW excited she was until after she passed away) so Chris and I had decided, depending on the diagnosis, that we would start trying so that my mom could experience being a grandma.  Unfortunately there were some complications from a CT scan and my mom passed away less than 6 weeks after she was diagnosed.  Still that winter we decided to try for our first baby.  I was shocked when I got a positive pregnancy test two days after Christmas on our first month of trying!

On New Years Day I developed a sharp pain in my shoulder and having extreme health anxiety since my mom's death I headed to google.  One of the diagnosis' that kept popping up was ectopic pregnancy.  I frantically called around to all of the OB/GYN's in Northern Virginia hoping someone was open.  Of course all of the offices were closed for the holiday.  Finally I got through to a nurse who told me I should go to the emergency room.  We headed to a local urgent care center where unfortunately all they did was a pregnancy test which came back positive.  They did give me a referral to an ultrasound but they couldn't do it in house which was rather disappointing.  I went a few days later but nothing could be seen on the ultrasound.  I honestly can't remember that time, but I know I was only 4-5 weeks along so it wasn't surprising that nothing could be seen.  Shortly after that I selected an OB (I didn't have one because my PCP was a family doctor that performed all of my annual exams) and went for my first appointment.  The nurse just did an initial intake exam and palpated my uterus and said everything looked good.  I mentioned going to the urgent care and the subsequent ultrasound so the nurse sent me for a follow up ultrasound just to check things out.  At the ultrasound it was immediately apparent that the baby had grown, I felt such relief.  However, after the ultrasound the tech left and came back saying that my OB wanted to talk to me.  This was odd to me because the ultrasound place wasn't even associated with the OB.  Unfortunately, the OB told me that my baby had no heartbeat.  I was told to come back in a week to confirm but at that point it was more likely than not that I was going to have a miscarriage.

I went home to wait things out and less than a week later I woke up on a Sunday morning with debilitating cramps.  After a few hours while sitting on the toilet I passed our baby.  I was 8w5d but our little baby only measured 6w1d.  I could see the little arm and leg buds, the start of his/her eyes, our baby looked perfect.  I talked with my OB and got the difficult news that they wanted to examine the tissue.  I had to collect our baby in a plastic container and keep it in the refrigerator until they opened again and I could bring it in.  I went back to work the very next day, another regret, and spent most of the time in the bathroom due to the insane amount of bleeding.  I don't know why I didn't ask to take any time off for healing.  Looking back, I 110% should have taken some time for myself.  I can't remember if it was before or after work that Monday, but sometime during that day I went to the doctor with our baby.  Taking the baby into the doctor was one of the most difficult things ever and I was in tears the entire time.  They looked the baby over and said everything looked normal and no further testing would be done.  Looking back, I wish I would have pushed for the genetic testing.  They said they might have been able to tell if I was carrying a girl or a boy.  I think it would have helped me immensely with healing had I known if I would have had a son or a daughter.  They told me the baby would be disposed of with the "hazardous waste" at the hospital.  One of my greatest regrets is going along with this and not asking to have the remains back to bury, the thought that my baby was thrown away like trash is absolutely heartbreaking.

Chris and I named our baby Logan, a gender neutral name, that was sort of randomly picked by me.  Thinking about it now I'm not really thrilled with this name but after 7 years it kind of sticks with you.  We tried out another name this year, Cameron, and while it fits with our theme of 3 syllable names I just couldn't get past a different name so Logan it will stay.

While I don't dwell on the miscarriage a lot I will never ever forget Logan.  I do wish we would have gotten to meet him/her but I can't imagine my life any different than it is now.  I have complete faith that one day we will meet our son/daughter and what a blessed reunion that will be!!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Adventures in Potty Training!

As I am sure most people know, parts of the East coast got slammed with Blizzard Jonas last weekend.

Since I knew we would be holed up for a while with nowhere to go I figured I would take advantage of the situation and work on potty training Zach.  He just turned 3 in December and we have attempted learning how to use the potty two or three times before but nothing has ever come of it.  He has just had no interest at all.  With Samantha we never really pushed her to train and then one weekend, about a month after she had turned 3, we could just tell it was time.  She was so easy to train, figuring it all out herself and running with it.  There was nothing like I had read about on websites -- accidents all over the place, wetting the bed, holding her poop.  We didn't have any of it.  She day and night trained all at once and we never looked back.

I could tell from the get go that things would be more difficult with Zach.  He would tell us after he had gone in his diaper but could never tell us when he had to go.  This proved difficult in the beginning because the method I decided to try had me putting him on the potty every 20 minutes.  He would sit for 10-20 seconds and say he didn't have to go and get up and run off to play.  No doubt, a few minutes after he sat on the potty he'd yell that he had peed on the floor!  I was not going to force him to sit on the potty if he didn't want to, so both times in the past we decided to just wait it out and try again when he seemed more eager and willing to spend some time with his little froggy potty.  When we started last week, it was more of the same, mostly playing and not wanting anything to do with peeing.  So away the potty went but this weekend my dad had been getting on Zach's case about his diapers and every time we talked on face time, my dad would ask to see what kind of pants Zach was wearing and ask Zach why he wasn't wearing big boy pants.  This got Zach angry and insisting that he wore big boy underpants.  This time he seemed really into it!

We have a froggy toddler potty that we've had since Samantha was little.  We keep the potty in our family room so that it is easily accessible at all times.  Once they start night training and are able to pee independently, we put the potty in their room overnight so they can go alone and aren't wandering the house to go to the bathroom.  We also put the potty in the trunk of our car when we're out and on long trips so they aren't stuck using icky public bathrooms and you aren't pressed to find one when they have to go RIGHT THIS SECOND!

I know most blogs say to load your kids up on drinks so that they constantly have fluids moving through them and need to use the bathroom more often.  My kids are naturally big drinkers and have a cup of milk or water at the table for them always so I didn't really push additional drinks on them.  We also don't really use treats to reward them after peeing.  I mean if he's going once an hour or more that is a lot of treats!  The treats also didn't seem to make him more motivated to go so we just skipped them.

Next, I made sure we had plenty of underwear on hand.  I have bought a few packs for Zach the past few months and my aunt and brother both got him some for Christmas so he is definitely good to go.  I admit with 2 adults and 3 kids we do A LOT of laundry, but I don't want to feel pressured to do laundry quickly because he's out of undies.  So while 30 some pairs may seem like a lot, at the beginning when they may be having several accidents a day (or hour!), it's definitely not too many!!  I also let him run around in only his underwear so he doesn't have to worry about getting more clothes on and off and I don't have to worry about more pee soaked clothes to clean.

Zach's current top pic as you can see is Paw Patrol.  He also has Thomas, Cars, and Super Heroes.  I make sure to always let him pick which pair he wants to wear so that he's excited about putting them on.  I told Zach that his characters don't like getting wet although that backfired on me because a Paw Patrol character Zuma likes getting wet so I had to explain he likes water but not pee!!

Our first day training got off to a rough start.  I set our Amazon Echo Alexa timer for 20 minutes and each time it went off I had Zach sit on the potty.  He peed a few times and there were a few times that he didn't have to go.  I got confident and turned the timer up to 30 minutes and of course at the 27 minute mark he had gone on the floor.  No big deal though!  I never scolded him, but praised him for trying his best and said that he'd get it next time.  I never wanted him to feel bad for having an accident.  Unfortunately after half the day he was over it and once we ate lunch he wanted his diaper back.  Day two he had 3 accidents on the floor but lasted longer with the underpants on.  Yesterday though (day 3) was a completely different story.  My husband got up for work and changed Zach's diaper and put on his underpants and then put his feeties back on before leaving.  I had been in another room taking a 30 second breather when Zach ran to the door and said he had peed.  My mind immediately jumped to soaking wet fleece feeties but he said no, he had gone on the potty.  Of course I didn't believe him, but I opened the door to see his feeties in a pile on the floor in front of his potty and the potty full!!  His first time ever going unprompted.  He continued all day long going when he needed to and if I noticed it had been an hour or two since he had last gone, I asked him to sit, which he usually did.  He went all day with NO accidents!!

I knew not to get my hopes up and it was a good thing I didn't because already today he has had 2 accidents within the span of 30 minutes.  He still seems to be excited about using the potty though and the first thing he asked when he got up was if he could put on his underpants.  I am really hoping this sticks and we can get him completely out of diapers soon, though I must admit I will miss my cloth (even though we only use it part time).  Zach is excited for the "prizes" he will earn once he is completely potty trained.  He will get to go to the store and pick out a new toy and daddy is going to build him his very own big boy bed!  I am excited at the prospect of only having one child in diapers though I am not so secretly hoping we have another little one to diaper very soon!!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Miss Eliza

Since I took a blogging break after Eliza was born, minus a few quick posts, I figured I should probably give some updates!  

Since I have posted about her heart in the past, I'll start there.  Eliza has been back to see her cardiologist a few times since my first post, and unfortunately (or fortunately!) we don't really have any answers or updates at this point.  Each time we've gone back I've been told we would do the repeat echocardiogram at the following appointment.  However, we still haven't had that repeated!  Thankfully, her symptoms of the blue legs and lips has completely gone away.  At the times of our last appointments they were still happening, however, not nearly as frequently or severe as when she was a newborn.  At both appointments the doctor felt that Eliza wouldn't be able to lay still for the length of the exam and since her symptoms have improved so much, we both agreed that the risks of sedating her outweighed the benefits of having the test preformed again.  Within the next few months I will need to take her in to have the test repeated so we can find out if there is an ASD or PFO.  She has had EKG's at all of her appointments that look great and while her murmur is still present, it is less severe.  So for now, things are well with her heart!

As with all my kids, hah, she now has yet another issue going on.  In September, Eliza developed a high fever shortly after getting her 12 month vaccines.  I didn't think anything of it and wasn't planning on taking her to the doctor but I had Zach in for a sick visit and just mentioned that she had a fever.  As is typical with my doctors office, they wanted a full workup.  Their primary concern was a urinary tract infection so we taped a bag to her but of course she didn't pee.  They eventually sent us home with instructions to return in a few days if she wasn't feeling better.  Unfortunately she didn't get better so we went back so they could give her a catheter.  That was awful!!  It came back that she did have a UTI and on antibiotics she went.  At her 15 month check up, her pediatrician said that she'd like Eliza to have an ultrasound on her kidney's and bladder to make sure everything is formed and working properly.  She also ordered a test called a VCUG which is an xray of the bladder to see if urine goes back up towards the kidney's rather than out the urethra.  Eliza just had these exams 2 weeks ago.  The ultrasound went great and her kidney's and bladder are all perfectly formed and functioning.  She was so cute during the exam, I was actually expecting her to wiggle around a lot but I set her on the bed and told her to lay down and she went right down.  Every time she lifted her head I would just say, "you need to put your head down Eliza" and she did.  It was so adorable!!

The VCUG was a little more difficult but she did great for that too.  A nurse came in and inserted a catheter (which thankfully went in on the first try, unlike at the pediatricians office) and then they hooked it to a bag which pumped in some sort of solution to her bladder.  Once her bladder was full, we just had to wait for her to pee.  It was brutal because she had to be swaddled down which she hated and tech doing the exam explained it like you being in the car and having to go to the bathroom so so bad but not being able to find a rest stop to go.  That exploding feeling.  So sad!!  Finally she went to the bathroom and we were able to complete the test.  Unfortunately we didn't get results that day so we had to wait.  We got a call from our pediatrician the next day that everything was great.  Here I thought we were done but a few days after that I got another call from our pediatrician.  Apparently the first result was given by the radiologist but after that the films go to a board that looks at all the images.  When the board was looking, they saw something that was questionable to them so they decided to look deeper.  Our pediatrician explained that when the xray is done, the machine takes around 1000 pictures.  They then compress them down to about 20 images that the radiologist looks at and reviews.  So when the review board saw something on one of the images, they were able to separate the picture into the 100 or so pictures that compromised that image.  When they were looking, they were able to see that Eliza actually does have kidney reflux.  Thankfully for us, it is very low grade.  The scale goes from 0 (no reflux) to 5 (severe reflux) and Eliza's falls somewhere between 1-2.  Basically kidney reflux causes you to be prone to UTI's since the urine is going back up to the kidneys rather than down and out.  The treatment plan is a low dose antibiotic daily until the reflux is outgrown.  I am not one to jump to antibiotics and I'll be honest, the thought of a long term antibiotic was kind of scary to me as I don't want her to grow resistant should she ever actually really need them.  Thankfully our pediatrician was in agreement and since her's is so low grade we opted to not put her on the antibiotics.  We will keep an eye on her and if she does start having UTI's frequently we can reevaluate the situation.

Although she does have these two issues, thankfully they're nothing we can't handle, and in the grand scheme of things not that big of a deal.  She is otherwise thriving and doing great.  She's been walking since 11 months, starting to sort of talk, and she has the most amazing personality.  We are so thankful to have her and I can't wait to see the little person she is becoming!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Premium Breastfeeding Cover by Soins de Bebe

For the past 4.5 years, I have pretty much been constantly nursing one of my 3 children.  Over this time, I have become pretty confident nursing in public without covering up, however, I know this is not the case for everyone.  I know a certain someone (who I won't name here!!) is definitely not comfortable when I nurse in public.  That's where this awesome premium breastfeeding cover by Soins de Bebe comes in.

I chose the purple cover, which can be purchased on Amazon, because I love purple!!  I am normally not a huge fan of paisley but I think it is gorgeous.  As you can see in my photo, the cover is very generously sized and covers everything with room to spare.  I have only covered up while nursing a handful of times in Eliza's 16 months so she was not a fan of having the cover on her.  Even with her flailing around and trying to move things around there was more than enough fabric to keep me covered and I never worried about anything being exposed.  The cover has 3 features that I found fantastic.

1.) A reinforced neck.  The top of the cover has some sort of plastic in the neck so that you can easily look down and see your baby without having to move your hands or the cover.  This is great especially when your child is young and still needs assistance latching on.

2.) Stainless steel D-Rings create a completely adjustable strap so that this carrier can fit any woman.  You get the perfect fit, not too tight and not too loose, every single time.

3.) The cover has a padded portion in the bottom corner to use for any drips and spills you may have.  Eliza enjoyed holding this end and rubbing it on her face while she ate and again due to the generous sizing nothing was exposed!  This is perfect if you forget your burp cloth.

Besides the nursing cover, the package also included a cotton burp cloth and breastfeeding bracelet.  Eliza ran off with the cloth before I was able to take a picture of it and was using it with a blanket so I'd say she loves it!  In the short few seconds I held it, it did feel a little rough to me, though I'm sure it will soften up nicely with a wash.  The nursing bracelet has numbers 1-12 and little dots for each 15 minute increment.  I breastfeed on demand so I don't have much use for this, but for mom's who either prefer or are required to feed in set intervals this would be great.  I remember when Zach was little and not gaining weight it was so frustrating to constantly need to be on my phone to see when I last fed him.  While this tool wouldn't replace a feeding log, it would definitely be extremely helpful in telling you when you need to feed your baby again.  The only change I would make to this bracelet would be for it to have some way to tell which side you last fed on.

All of these items came in a coordinating bag perfect for a purse or diaper bag.

Everything was wonderfully made and I would absolutely recommend this set to any mom looking for a nursing cover.  Thank you to Soins de Bebe for providing this cover for free in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Kindergarten Jitters

The year I have been dreading is finally here.  2016.  My oldest girl is going to be turning 5 this spring.  You know what that means?  This fall she is going to go to school.  :'(  For the past few years we've done our own little version of homeschooling and I've half had it in me that once kindergarten came we would continue our homeschool journey.  However as the time draws nearer it has become more apparent that homeschooling just isn't a good fit for us.

Days are stressful around here.  With three kids 4 and under things get hectic fast and it's hard to give your undivided attention to just one child at a time, especially with something so important as their education.  We try to keep some sort of schedule but more often than not, we just go with the flow and get things done when we can.  Last year for Christmas, my Aunt gifted the kids a subscription to ABC Mouse.  This website has been great and the kids love playing on it.  I aim to get them each on it for 20 minutes a day but that's a stretch because Samantha thinks the iPad is just for youtube videos!!  I'm also a huge fan of workbooks and have acquired quite the collection.  Each day I choose 2-3 worksheets each for Samantha and Zach to complete but sitting quietly one at a time is nearly impossible.  Someone else is bound to be crying or demanding of my attention.  Each evening before bed Samantha and I do a reading lesson from our favorite book, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  I won't get into the book too much because that isn't the point of this post but it has been a great tool for teaching Samantha how to read.  We are only 12 lessons in so far because the first two times we tried, I felt she wasn't ready yet.  However, I think the 3rd time is the charm because she has been doing great!  Between these three things and other various apps and videos I think they have a good foundation, however, I know I could still be doing better.  I would absolutely love to be the one in charge of my children's education but it would be doing them a disservice to keep them home when I can't give them 100%.

Back to school though, I can't get over how quickly the past 5 years have flown by.  The thing that pulls my heartstrings the most is how much time our children spend in school.  I know it's what is required and needed but they're gone for over 7 hours a day!!  Starting this fall, Samantha will be spending more time with her teacher than she will with her own mother.  This is it, 13 years of school at home and then she's off to college.  In 7 months, my days of spending all my time with her is over for the rest of her life.  How heartbreaking is that?  For the past 4 years and 9 months I have spent every day with her.  The only times we've really been apart is when I've been in the hospital giving birth to her younger siblings and even then I saw her every day.  She's done a one week long Vacation Bible School camp for the past 2 summers where she is in the care of others for 3 hours a day, but besides that, she's never been in a school setting before (where I am not there with her as is the case with our weekly church class).  I pray we get a teacher we love which I know will help us both feel much more comfortable.  Last week I took an unofficial tour of the school she will be attending which did help me to feel better, but once we learn who her teacher will be and get to meet her/him I think (or rather HOPE!) that I will feel more confident in our decision to send her to public school.  For now though, I will just enjoy every moment we have together, plan lots of fun things for us to do, and try not to think too much about the tears that will no doubt be falling on that first day of school.

Has your oldest child gone off to kindergarten yet?  Send me some of your favorite tips for making this most difficult transition!!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

I am totally loving NetGalley lately!  If you haven't joined already, seriously, go join..NOW!  Last week I was approved for 5 more reviews and all of the books look SO good.  This is so awesome for people who love reading and want opportunities to check out new books before they are released.  I rounded out 2015 with Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf.  I have read several of her books before and loved them all so I was super excited when I had the opportunity to read an advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review.

Missing Pieces takes off with a bang and never slows down!!  It is the story of Sarah and Jack Quinlan who travel to Penny Gate, Iowa after an unfortunate accident with his Aunt Julia.  Upon arriving Sarah learns of many secrets her husband has kept from her and gets drawn in fast trying to uncover the stories of his past.  I was sucked in from the very start and never wanted to put the book down.  It was extremely fast paced and full of suspense, keeping me on my toes the entire time.  I finished the book while in bed and was so on edge by what was happening I found myself constantly looking over my shoulder with a huge knot in my stomach.  I don't think I've ever felt so emotionally present in a book ever!!  I thought from about halfway through the book that I had it all figured out...and then the ending happened.  I was completely wrong!!  Unlike other books by Gudenkauf I've read, Missing Pieces is told 100% from Sarah's point of view.  I often found myself wondering what the book would be like had we been inside Dean or Celia's head but the lack of other viewpoints didn't take anything away from the story.  Mrs. Gudenkauf really knocked this one out of the park!!

Missing Pieces will be available to the public on February 2nd, 2016 and I highly recommend everyone checks it out!