Thursday, March 31, 2016

Cards For A Cause

Adoption is expensive. You don't have to tell me. I hate that it's so expensive. In fact I think it's almost criminal that it can cost so much. Through a series of unfortunate-turned-happy events Josh and I were able to afford Squeaks' adoption without fundraising. In retrospect a couple of fundraisers may have been a good idea just so we didn't start our family totally broke. But hindsight is 20/20. I know a lot of fellow adoptive parents are on the lookout for fun and easy fundraising opportunities and this is what I'd like to help with. Consider Cards For A Cause.
Here are the details:
 30 beautiful cards and 30 matching envelopes per decorative box. 
 $30 per box. That's only $1 per card!
You get $13 for each box sold. That's well above average for most fundraisers.
There is no limit to the amount you can raise.
The amount due for taxes is deducted from the total amount raised.
Shipping is free!
It's as easy as that.

Four beautiful boxes to choose from. Two "All Occasion" mixed boxes, "Thanks and Blanks", and an adorable "Cards For Kids" box.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do make a small commission on the total sales amount. Just think of it as a retroactive personal fundraiser for Squeaks' adoption.

Contact me and we can set up your fundraiser anytime.

P.S. I'm presenting this as an adoption fundraiser because you know that's where my heart is, but really this could be applied to any cause. Let me know if you have questions.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Little Dude's First Easter

This is one of my favorite times of the year. The weather is beautiful. Light breezes and scattered rainy days clean away the Southern California smog making the sunny days in between even brighter. Easter Sunday was one of those beautiful sunny days. Perfect temperature. Light breeze. Wonderful family. Celebrating the resurrection of Christ and our eternal salvation through His sacrifice. It just doesn't get any better.Plus it was Little Dude's first Easter!!

In the morning, we enjoyed church as a family. Squeaks just strolls right in to Sunday school like a boss. Doesn't even look back most of the time. She just waves over her shoulder and heads toward the toys and other kids. Little Dude wiggles happily on my lap through service. He loves the music. It still blows my mind that we have two kids.

We spent the rest of the day with family, eating good food, enjoying each others company. Little Dude is a true mamas boy. He spent most of the day in my arms, venturing to family members laps only once in awhile before demanding me back. Squeaks was off with loving relatives from the time we arrived though. She's a social little thing and I'm sure one day her little brother will be the same. This will be the last year Squeaks does the egg hunt in Nana and Papas front yard by herself. Next Easter Little Dude will be 18 months and unstoppable. Crazy to think about! Plus, we had a few weddings in our family this past year, so fingers crossed for cousins soon.
 Enjoying the sunshine while big sister hunts for eggs. He looked so cute in his tiny jeans and button up shirt. Such a little man.
 Happy girl with her basket of eggs. It's so funny to watch the whole family follow her around the yard pointing out hidden eggs.
Both kids were totally worn out by the time we got home. A very good day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

My Postpartum World: Colic

Dear Colic,
I loath you with every fiber of my being. Go pound sand.

"It's a phase. He'll grow out of it." A sentence that evokes similar feelings as "Just adopt". 

The pediatrician told us what I'm sure he tells every parent of a colicky baby. "There's no cure, and no one is even 100% sure what causes it." Here's what I heard. "Kristen, save the babies of the world from this horrible monster! We're depending on you!" And so, I went to work.  I researched. I concocted home remedies. I asked other moms about their experiences. I tried elimination diets. I tried homeopathic drops. I tried essential oils and massage. The chiropractor and probiotics. I watched countless YouTube tutorials on soothing a colicky baby. I rocked. I bounced. I swayed. 

He grew out of it.

Little Dude is just over six months and we are freshly out of our colic funk. Mind you, this does not imply that he sleeps through the night and never has gas or cries. He still wakes up a lot, has gas to rival any grown man, and cries with the best-of-em. His personality can finally show through now though. Colic is like wearing blinders. You can't see anything but the screaming child in front of you. It takes all your energy and focus. Now though, the giggles and smiles and coos far outweigh the crying. Plus the crying is more "normal" now. The horrible part about colic is that the baby literally screams like it's on fire! Pure torturous screeching. Now when he cries it's just a change me, feed me, pay attention to me cry. He is such a sweet and happy little guy. So willing to give giant gummy smiles. So determined and smart. I know I don't share his real name, but his name means strength of God, and boy does he live it. This kid has more strength in his tiny body then some adults. I know because he kicks me all night. Ha! Oh but the glimmers of rest. They're beautiful. As Josh takes Squeaks for bath and bedtime each night, I sit and I rock this little miracle to sleep. He still puts up a small fight, just too eager to see the world, but then he drifts off (at least for an hour or so). Still. Calm. Peaceful cuddled in my arms. This kid is going to test my limits, melt my heart, and blow my socks off.

In the course of our colic journeys we came across certain things that seemed to ease the screeching, so I thought I'd share. You know, help out the next mama dead set on curing colic for the masses.

1. Happi Tummi- Aside from the fact that this product implements one of my biggest pet peeves (misspelling words for marketing purposes), it's awesome. I love the fact that it's not a pill, drop, or drug. It's a completely external soother. It smells great and it works. The only negative in my opinion is that you can only heat it up a certain number of times before it looses its oomph. Oh, and the velcro. Little dude would finely be comfortable and asleep, the Happi Tummi would be cold, and I would want to lay him down, but the velcro was so loud taking it off of him was difficult to do without waking him. 

2. Colic Calm- This stuff is kinda gross. It's black. It turns the kids mouth black. And his poop black. And it stains anything it touches. But it sure works. It's homeopathic which I like, but in order for it to work its best, you kind of have to keep it in the kids system on a regular basis. If your child's colic is fairly minor (does that exist?) this might be the thing for you. I felt like we were giving it to LD too often though so we switched to a combo of the last two products on this list.

3 & 4. Hyland's Gas Drops and Hyland's Nat. Phos. 6x- I use these as a team. I know that might seem redundant as they're both for gas, but I have my reasons. The gas drops are fast acting and easy to administer. They're clear so no staining, they taste good (yep I tried them), and they're also homeopathic. I realized through process of elimination that Little Dude, in addition to having gas, was also suffering from silent reflux (this article helped me figure this out). Lucky kid. So the Nat. Phos. (Natrum Phosphoricum Cell Salt, also homeopathic) acts as a digestive aid. It takes a few minutes to kick in though (again, yes I tried it on myself), thus the combo with the gas drops. I only give them in combination when LD is really uncomfortable. I've given them separately with good results too. The Nat. Phos. is kind of hard to find anywhere but online, but they're worth ordering. 

5. Other soothers- The chiropractor actually did make a noticeable difference, but I couldn't tell you how or why. It turned out Little Dude had a lot of tension in his neck and after being adjusted he definitely seemed more comfortable. Warm baths also helped a lot before bed. Unfortunately LD also has a bad case of baby eczema (a post on that coming soon) and the warm water seemed to irritate it, so we can only do baths every few nights. In moments of absolute desperation the "I love you" massage technique was used and eventually seemed to help. Getting him to lay still for massage is quite the task though.

I sure hope this helps some desperate parents out there. I know you don't want to hear it, but they will grow out of it. Until then, search. Search for those of us who couldn't find "the cure". I know you will cause that's what mamas do.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Two Unconnected Related Thoughts

Located between a strip club and an abortion clinic is a vital part of my community. A pro-life pregnancy center near and dear to my heart. The San Bernardino Pregnancy & Family Resource Center gives support, information, and guidance to women and families facing unplanned pregnancies. They give free pregnancy tests, they do ultrasounds, they have a points system to earn free baby clothes, diapers, and furniture. They have a post-abortion Bible study (taught by my mom), and they give adoption information and guidance.

When I imagine Squeaks' birth mom thinking about her options after finding out she was pregnant it gives me chills. This world would have accepted an abortion decision, and some may have even praised her for it. But she chose life and placed that life in our hands. That's why I thank God for places like SBPFRC. They not only give pregnant women hope, they give families hope. Families beyond those that seek their services. Their actions ripple into lives beyond anything they can imagine.

The following is going to feel like a completely new topic, but I promise these two thoughts are connected.

I mentioned in my previous post that I now sell children's books. Yes it's a direct sales company but it's not the pushy kind. While I sell their books, Usborne doesn't require any sales quotas, fees, or even that I recruit anyone to join (although I think you'd love it). I can sell at my speed and run it the way I want. I sell books through parties hosted by fellow book enthusiasts. I can have these parties on Facebook or in the host's home. When I started with Usborne I initially thought I'd just stick to Facebook parties. Home shows just reminded me of Tupperware. Then I got started and have come to realize these books are even more amazing than I thought and I really want people to see them in person...but I hate the idea of home shows...but I love these books....but...

So here's where the two thoughts combine. I've decided to host an open house to show off these awesome books and I'm going to use it as an opportunity to support a ministry I love. This will be nothing like a Tupperware party. I will donate 50% of my personal commission to SBPFRC, plus for every $125 in books sold, I'm going to give the center $20 in free books for little ones to enjoy in their waiting room, for them to put in the baby layettes they give away, and for the gift basket they have for new moms. Fun and functional.

Now I know a lot of my readers aren't local and so can't attend the open house, but you can still make a purchase to support my pregnancy center. Just follow this link (Usborne Books Open House for SBPFRC). All purchases made using this link will still count toward the donations. You can browse through the books and, if you'd like, you can even email me and I'll help you find books specific to your kid's interests. Also feel free to contact me with any questions about the pregnancy center.

Thank you in advance!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Little Dude

After going through photos for yesterday's post I notice the number of pictures of Little Dude on here is sorely lacking. He has the most awesome gummy smile and beautiful blue eyes. I've taken TONS of pictures so this isn't even a fraction of them, but here's just a small sampling of some of my favorites (so far).

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Some Of What I'd Like To Say

Should I start this blog post like every blogger who has been absent from the blogosphere does?...I've just been so busy, life is so crazy, I've started a new post like five times...yada yada...there, I did it.

I have a cuddly, sweet, wiggly six month old who has waged war on sleep, and a silly, stubborn, amazingly smart toddler deep in the trenches of all that is two-years-old (yep that happened!). In the past six months there have been multiple times when I have looked back on the previous weeks and could count on one hand the number of times I got a chance to brush my hair, brush my teeth, or pee without an audience. Forget about showering. Dry shampoo is my friend.

Though my brain is mush from lack of sleep, my eyes heavy and tired I can also look back on these past six months and see beautiful moments, days filled with growth, grace, and hope. There is a lot I'd like to say about having a "difficult" baby (this is what the internet calls him). He is so much more than colic, gas, eczema, and reflux though. As we are slowly coming out of this fog of new-born-ness, I feel slightly ashamed about how I've focused on "fixing" his issues rather than enjoying his growth. How long did I pray to be pregnant?! PLUS to get a son!!!! I never lost sight of how miraculous our daughter's entry into our family was, but I feel like, for a little while, I forgot just how miraculous our son is. I plan to do better.

We've hit fun milestones since I last posted. It's going to be difficult to share as much as I'd like just, tired, time. I will do my best though.

Squeaks turned TWO at the beginning of January! It was a fantastically bee bedecked blast. Our little bee enthusiast enjoyed family time, a mountain of gifts, and snow dumped in our driveway out of uncle's truck. It was a lovely day.
Playing with snow like true Californians. Dumped in the driveway out of the back of a pick-up. She loved it!!
She's just so beautiful.

Squeaks also graduated from a toddler bed into a twin big-girl bed, and from her highchair into a booster seat at the table. She puts herself to sleep now which is amazing! After a bed time story, a few minutes of cuddling, and prayers, her tiny voice chirps "nigh-night" and waves us out the door. Some nights it takes her awhile to actually fall asleep but she does eventually drift off on her own without a fuss. Switching her to the booster was perfect timing as Little Dude has taken over the highchair.

Squeaks enjoying lunch in her big girl chair. Peas are actually one of her favorite foods! Go for it kid!!
Big girl bed!!!!
Mini Man, all smiles keeping me company in the kitchen.

I love this age where she's making friends and actually playing rather than just sitting there staring at each other like kids do before developing social skills. She's so smart! Getting so good at recognizing colors, counting, and she says a new word or sentence or phrase every day. Learning, learning, learning. She eats through books like nobodies business. We read all the time. I even recently became an Usborne consultant so that I could keep her library fresh (and because I have soooo much free time). Being part of this business is going to be great when we start homeschooling.
Squeaks playing with her "I Can Count" book.
My future doctor "reading" in her chair. ("Questions and Answers About Your Body")

Our little mini-man is growing like a weed. Sitting up on his own, babbling away. Poor kid just can't seem to kick his baby eczema but colic has definitely subsided. He turned six months old this past weekend (and I turned 31! Whaaaa?!) and is seconds away from crawling. This kid wants to move crazy bad. I think he'll move to walking way before he turns one. Either that or just go straight to running...and then college...full speed ahead!! This kid has the most determined personality. He's unstoppable!!

Trying so hard to crawl!!
Just way too fast...

As I said, so much more to say, but...
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