Sweet Tiny Blessings

Year: 2014

A Look Back at 2014

This whole year has been incredibly crazy and challenging, yet filled with so many blessings.  It started out in January when my water broke 8 weeks early.  I was put on bed rest at the hospital for almost a month and felt so stuck and out of control.

Little M was born in February, 5 weeks early.  What a sweet tiny blessing, but he definitely challenged me in ways I didn’t think I had the strength for.  He stayed in the NICU for 10 days.  My dreams and last chance at breastfeeding slipped away.  And learning to be a mommy of 2 was very different then I expected.

I’ve loved watching the similarities and differences of Little M and Big C.  Their personalities are very different.  But they are so precious in their own ways.

At 6 months postpartum, things began to look up.  Though my body is still sore after my c-section, I’ve learned to deal with it and find other clothes that feel more comfortable over my incision.

Our family made the big decision to move back to Florida.  Though it didn’t happen the way we expected it, we knew that God’s plan was perfect.

We are now here in Florida, but our belongings are lagging behind.  We are waiting patiently (or maybe not so patient) for everything to arrive so we can finally move into our new home.

Things I’m looking forward to in 2015

I’m looking forward to getting settled in our home, getting involved in our new church and meeting new people.  I’m also looking forward to reconnecting with old friends, being able to celebrate big and small events with family and friends, and seeing what blessings and plans God has in store for us this year.

What was your greatest memory this past year?
What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

The Big Move Update

Our family made it back to Florida safely.  It was very hard to say good-bye to good friends who became our family in Colorado.  But we are happy, excited and extremely blessed to be surrounded by our family in Florida.

We are currently living with Grandma and Pop Pop until our belongings arrive.  But I am thrilled to say we signed the papers and received the keys to our new home.  Here is a little sneak peek!

Our things should be arriving on Saturday, so we are looking forward to moving in, getting settled and sharing our new adventures in Florida with you!  I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

What are you looking forward to this new year?

10 Months and Growing

With our 3 week vacation and our big move to Florida, Little M’s 9 month well visit got pushed back to almost 10 months.  I don’t even remember the exact stats the doctor gave me because my mind has been everywhere.  I just know that he had a great visit.  I guess that’s all that matters.

Here’s what I do remember.  He is 20 something pounds, on the short side and his head percentile has gone down.  He didn’t even flinch when the doctor checked his iron levels.  And that was perfect as well.

Little M’s sleeping has been all over the place due to the different time zones we’ve been traveling. Hopefully, now that we are staying in one place, he’ll start to be more consistent.  But usually he sleeps through the night until about 5am.

He still loves almost all foods except avocado.  In fact, I tried to give it to him again and he spit at me.  Now, whenever I give him something green, he questions it by spitting or turning his head.  But once he tastes that it’s not avocado, he loves it.  He also enjoys finger foods.

Little M is doing great sitting unsupported but may fall down sometimes.  He can go from sitting to belly, has rocked back and forth on his knees a few times, and likes to hold onto furniture with support.

His favorite word right now is Mama.  He has been extremely cranky lately.  I’m not sure if it’s teething or all the traveling.  But I hope it gets better soon.  He now has 5 teeth!

Become a Confident Parent with Children’s Hospital Babies 101

Disclosure: I wrote this post on behalf of Children’s hospital and received compensation to thank me for my time. The opinions and text are mine.

Children’s Hospital Colorado is the leader in providing pediatric expert advice for parents who want to keep their children healthy and safe. This month, “Just Ask Children’s” focus is on babies. Babies 101 chat, on December 16, will answer your questions about infant sleep safety, calming a crying baby, sleep issues, breastfeeding and vaccines.

When it comes to Infant Sleep Safety, keep your child flat on their back in a bassinet next to your bed. Use a sleep sack instead of a blanket to prevent head covering and overheating. Consider using a pacifier and always provide your baby with a smoke free environment.

When our babies cry, this can be so frustrating for parents. But did you know their crying is normal and healthy? So if you feel overwhelmed, Children’s reminds us of strategies to help calm our crying babies. Some of these tips include patting, rocking and letting your baby know you are there. Other helpful advice includes using a lovey or special item to soothe them. Remember to never shake a baby. For more tips on soothing a crying baby, visit calmacryingbaby.org.

My first child never had any sleep issues as a baby. But my second is a bit more challenging. Children’s provides good tips for helping babies with sleep issues. These include:

  • creating a consistent and quiet bedtime routine.
  • put your baby to bed drowsy, but still awake, so they learn to fall asleep on their own.
  • try waiting a few minutes before responding to babies fussiness and crying to allow them to learn to settle themselves.
  • children should turn off electronics at least an hour before bedtime.
  • elementary kids need 10 to 11 hours of sleep and children 10 to 17 need 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep.

Both of my babies had health issues early on, so we didn’t get to breastfeed long term. But whenever possible, Children’s gives great advice on lactation and breastfeeding. When possible, breastfeed your baby exclusively for the first 6 months of life, then introduce complimentary foods until 12 months. Continue breastfeeding for as long as mom/child desired. Breastfeeding provides protection against illness, as well as, reduction in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Check out these tips for safe storage of breast milk:

  • always wash your hands before expressing and handling your milk.
  • only use a clean storage containers provided for storing human breast milk.
  • freshly expressed milk can remain at room temperature for 4 hours and use refrigerated milk within 48 hours. Frozen milk is good for at least 3 months.

When vaccinating your children, stay up to date with the recommended vaccine schedule for safety, effectiveness and prevention of infectious diseases. The vaccination schedule is evaluated each year based on the most recent scientific data available and is approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, and The American Academy of Family Physicians. The flu vaccine is approved for anyone 6 months and older. Anyone with children under 6 months can protect their babies by getting the flu shot. Vaccines can prevent the spread of diseases and save lives.

For more great tips and advice for babies, visit Just Ask Children’s on December 16th for a live chat! Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, too!

Reader Comment Disclaimer: comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Children’s Hospital Colorado. The opinions and text are all mine.

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My life feels like it’s spinning so fast that I can’t stop to take a breath.  This past month has been a whirlwind.  And I’m not sure how I feel about it.

I shared with you in October that my family has decided to move back to Florida, but we had some hiccups we needed to take care of.  Well, I never thought in a million years that our house would go under contract within 3 days.  About a week or so later, we put an offer in on a home in Florida during our 3 week vacation.

We just arrived back home and less then a week, we need to be packed up and gone.  And I’m having trouble embracing this.  Our original intent was to be closer to family.  But we have second guessed our decision several times for different reasons.  However, this is happening.

My heart is aching because I feel like there is no ending to this chapter in my life.  It’s all happening so fast.  And there are a billion things I’m going to miss here.  To top it off, it’s happening in the busiest time of year and we have to completely skip out on all our Christmas family traditions.

Despite whether this is the right decision for our family or not.  I know that God is going to guide us each step of the way.  And all the blessings we are leaving behind in Colorado, I pray that God triples them in Florida!

Hallmark Christmas Gifts {Review and Giveaway}

Disclosure:  I wrote this post on behalf of Hallmark and received promotional items to thank me for my time.  All opinions regarding Hallmark and their Christmas gifts are my own and were not influenced by other sources.  

Christmas always seems to sneak up on us so quickly each year.  Sometimes I feel the stress of it weighing down on my shoulders.  But why is Christmas stressful?  It shouldn’t be.  In our home, we like to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas with a mix of fun.

We received two great gifts from Hallmark to help us celebrate with laughter and joy.  My daughter enjoys dancing and being silly, so I knew right away she would enjoy the Dance Like an Elf. And I’m just as guilty of breaking out the dance moves to the elf dance machine.  We just press the big, blue button and the elf calls out moves, such as, “Stir the Hot Chocolate.”  Check out Big C’s moves!

The Dance Like an Elf Musical Christmas Activity is super easy to use.  Your children could entertain themselves for hours while you hang the lights or wrap gifts, but you probably don’t want to miss out on the crazy, fun moves.  As your kids press the big blue Let’s Dance button, watch the joy unfold.
Our family is looking forward to our move closer to family, but we don’t know when this will take place.  So, the Find Me, Santa! Snowflake is the perfect gift for Big C.  She simply writes her name on the snowflake, hangs it up, presses the button and watches the glow.  Santa will know just where to find her.  
Big C loves the flashing colors and has been carrying her magical snowflake almost everywhere she goes.  

You can purchase the same Hallmark Christmas gifts Big C received or choose from a variety of Christmas products at Shop.NorthPole1820.com.  

Hallmark wants to share the laughter and joy with you, too!  Check out the NorthPole for games and activities.  And enter a giveaway for your chance to win a Peppermint Ring Fling and Find Me, Santa! Snowflake.  Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter.  Open to US residents only.  

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Creating Happy Healthy Holidays with the Help of Children’s Hospital Colorado

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Children’s Hospital Colorado. The opinions and text are all mine.

Children’s Hospital of Colorado is definitely a place where my family seeks advice and help since Little M was born. We trust their expert advice and their amazing doctors and staff. I’m not sure what we would do without them.

Children’s has created a resource called Just Ask Children’s that allows parents to ask medical experts important questions. With the holidays fast approaching, this month’s focus is helping parents to create happy, healthy holidays.

We’ll begin the holidays by traveling a long distance to see family and friends. This can be very stressful when we aren’t prepared. I appreciate the great tips Children’s has provided for traveling long distance with a toddler.

  • Bring many activities to keep your child’s focus for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Try to bring something new that will keep your child’s interest, such as coloring books, stickers, books, and arts and crafts. The dollar store is a great place to find these items.
  • Bring your own snacks and sippy cups to prevent spills. And provide special treats for rewards for things like buckling their seat belts and sitting still.
  • Bring a change of clothes and dress in layers. You never know what the temperature may be.
  • Bring your child’s favorite toy or blanket to help ease tantrums and meltdowns.
  • Try to keep your child on their schedule, including naps.
  • Take walks up and down the aisle when it’s safe to do so.
  • Consider a little extra screen time.
  • And consider bringing your toddlers car seat to keep them safely buckled.

When visiting family over the holidays, conflicts may arise. Children’s gives great advice when your young child sees or experiences this. Find a quiet moment and let your child know that you were upset and said or did things you didn’t mean. Let your child know that you still love that person and they will always be family. This is also a great time to talk about strategies to prevent anger from escalating, such as, counting to ten, taking deep breaths and finding some space.

When going out of town for the holidays, there are often different rules our children follow. Children’s reminds us of the importance to talk to our children ahead of time. Let them know that some rules are the same, like being kind to others and using good manners. But other rules might be different, such as, bed times might change and extra sweets are a special treat during the holidays.

Eating healthy is another challenge we face when traveling over the holidays. Children’s suggests asking those in charge of meals to let them know your desire for healthy eating options during your stay. You can also ask how you can help to prepare meals or bring your own healthy snacks. And of course be flexible. Healthy options might not be available all of the time.

For more great holiday tips and advice, visit Just Ask Children’s, next Tuesday, November 25th, from 9 am – 4 pm, to ask your important questions. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Reader Comment Disclaimer: comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Children’s Hospital Colorado. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Celebrating World Prematurity Day at 9 Months Old

Not only does Little M turn 9 months old tomorrow, we also celebrate World Prematurity Day. Taking a look back at his first few months of life, being born 5 weeks early, I feel like he is super baby.

Our experience was nothing like I imagined.  Never in a million years did I think I would be a parent to a preemie.  I will never forget that cold night, at 32 weeks pregnant when my water broke on our new mattress.  We woke our daughter and rushed to the hospital where I was quickly hooked up to IV’s, received shots and struggling to not pass out.  We made it through almost 3 weeks on bed rest, when I had an emergency c-section.

We were very blessed that Little M’s stay was as short as 10 days in the NICU.  But the days and nights were certainly challenging for me, trying to balance healing, building back my relationship with my daughter after a month of separation and visiting Little M.

Remembering the doctor would not sign off on us taking him home from the NICU until we could prove we were aggressive feeders.  And when we did get to take him home, I remember those sleepless nights, trying so hard to get him to latch on to his bottle.  Then praying to God that he would not vomit it all up, everywhere.  
I remember 
realizing he wasn’t progressing at a “normal” rate
the many ultrasounds of his hips, ureter and head
the chiropractor appointments twice a week due to reflux
the experimenting with formulas, bottles and sleep positions
And I look at how far he has come.  No one in this world would guess he was born too early.  Barely able to fit in his car seat and worried we wouldn’t be able to take him home.  Now sitting independently and proudly!  
Now, at 9 months old, Little M is trying so hard to crawl.  He either lifts his chest off the ground or lifts his bottom high in the air.  But he just can’t figure out how to do both at the same time.

He is eating 3 meals a day and sometimes snacks too.

He continues to wake up between 4 and 5 to eat and usually won’t fall back to sleep unless I bring him to bed with me.  I’m hoping he learns to sleep a little bit longer soon.

He now has two bottom teeth.

Little M loves his big sister, the church nursery and putting everything in his mouth.

Check out how fast Little M is growing!

November 17th is World Prematurity Day!  Will you please say a special prayers for all the babies and their parents who are in the NICU fighting for their precious life?

Minted Holiday Card Wish List {Review and Giveaway}

Disclosure:  I wrote this post on behalf of Minted and will receive compensation to thank me for my time.  All opinions regarding Minted are my own and were not influenced by other sources.

One of my favorite things around the holidays is receiving beautiful photo cards from family and friends.  We enjoy displaying them on our mantel to remind us of how blessed we are to have such great people in our lives.

We have actually never done a real family photo or created Christmas cards.  Mostly because we can never seem to take a decent family picture without someone not looking at the camera or making silly faces.  See what I mean?

At the top of my Christmas wish list would be a beautiful family photo that I could share with all of our family and friends, using one of my favorite holiday cards from Minted.com.  Check out my top favorite Christmas Cards.

Option 1:

How cool is this?  It’s like the cliffs notes to your Christmas letter (update of your lives) along with your family photo.  I love how unique this one is.

Options 2:

With the goofy photos my kids take, this would be perfect if I chose to use their picture.  I also love these two colors together.

Option 3:

And this would be my choice for a tradition Christmas card.  The colors and simplicity are the best!

Minted wants to help you prepare for the holiday season by giving away a $50 credit to one blessed reader.  Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter.  This giveaway is open to US residents only.

Be sure to stay connected with Minted on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to keep up with the latest products, deals and giveaways.

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I Can Learn the Bible: The Joshua Code for Kids {Review and Giveaway}

Disclosure: I wrote this post on behalf of Tommy Nelson and received a promotional item to thank me for my time.  All views and opinions regarding Tommy Nelson and The Joshua Code for Kids are my own and were not influenced by other sources.

If nothing else in this whole world, the most important thing I want my children to learn is The Word. When they struggle in a situation, I want them to have a verse that pops into their head that they can go to when needed.  Or if a friend is in need, I want them to be able to share their heart with God’s purpose. And I want them to know the meaning behind each verse.

I Can Learn the Bible: The Joshua Code for Kids breaks down 52 very important verses and helps Big C to deeply (as much as an almost 4 year old can) understand Jesus’ word.  Each weekly verse also includes a prayer for children to fill in the blank so they can relate to it first hand.

This devotional is also great for opening up discussion with your children.  You can pause during any explanation and talk about examples that are going on in their life.  Or just read it straight through. My daughter doesn’t understand everything I’m reading to her, but the kid friendly language of this book makes it easier.

There is a little phrase at the end of each chapter that Big C repeats after me.  This is her favorite part and I hope it resonates in her heart forever.  It goes like this:

“God’s word is for me and to me, it is in me and working through me, and just like His love, it goes on and on forever!”

You can purchase the same book Big C has for 14.99 from TommyNelson.com or choose from a variety of other Christian resources.  Check out a preview of this devotional that is perfect for children ages 4 – 8.  Stay connected with Tommy Nelson on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for all their latest products and discounts.

Tommy Nelson is giving away one copy of I Can Learn the Bible: The Joshua Code for Kids to one blessed reader.  Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter.  This giveaway is open to US residents only.  Good luck!

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