Friday, February 28, 2014

Week of Healthy Living

This winter season has been terrible for a lot of people. Most of our friends have been taken down with the stomach bug, cold/flu, and/or other ailments. We know folks that have been hospitalized, put into the ICU, or out of work for nearly a week! Thankfully, we've been able to avoid that, for the most part.

Next week I'm going to have posts go live Monday-Friday about what we do to stay healthy. I'll be sharing some recipes, essential oil uses, and a little bit of our daily schedule. I'd love for you to join in by sharing your healthy tips for women, men, kids, and the whole family!
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Split in half

I think all moms feel split in half sometimes. I suppose if you have more than one child, you're split again and again. Like part of you is running around outside of their body all the time. It doesn't matter if you're a work-outside-the-home mama or a work-inside-the-home mama, it's incredibly hard. If you've found an easy way to parent, I'd love to hear it.

Jarrod is back in school now which means two mornings a week I get Wesley up and off to school while getting myself off to work by myself. Some mornings are easy peasy and some mornings are an incredible challenge. Last week was an incredible challenge.

Between getting myself ready, a distraction of Thomas on TV, a delightful breakfast with Wesley, and some cars, I thought things were going great. Then there was a poop explosion, a tantrum, a few time-outs to regroup and make better choices, and some tears. He literally didn't want me to change his diaper, put on his clothes, or take him in the car to school. Even though he was acting up, I felt so torn. If I was able to move slowly, things would have gone much more smoothly. I wasn't able to slow down - I had meetings and a very busy day. I wanted to drop everything, give Wesley my full attention, and take our time getting out the door.

Other times I'm at home with Wesley attempting to find time to work. I have been known to grab my laptop and work while sitting in the bathroom while Wesley is occupied in the bath. I try to focus completely on him when I can, but an email or phone call will come in and will get my attention. Work needs my attention too and I feel torn when I cannot give it my full attention.

In order to help me grow as a mom, I'm currently reading Out of the Spin Cycle: Devotions to Lighten Your Mother Load. Jen Hatmaker makes me feel like I'm doing okay while also encouraging me to grow in my relationship with God, my husband, and my little boy. On the other side of the spectrum, I'm also reading Toilet Training in Less Than a Day. That's right, someday Wesley won't wear diapers anymore. Can you believe it? Me either. (That's what he's reading in the picture above...)

Somewhere in between these two extremes is where I live. Doing the best I can to balance my faith, relationship with my husband, job, and my son with my job and calling. Worrying about potty training while leading an event for 400+ people, mostly teenagers. And even though I feel like I'm splitting in half, I wouldn't change it for anything in the world.
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It's not all sunshine and roses...

Being a parent is tough. One thing I pride myself on is telling new parents or pregnant women how tough it actually is. Just last week I told a young, unmarried, 20-something woman without children the tough stuff of labor, delivery, and breastfeeding. Yes, that happened.

I also try to balance the tough stuff with the beautiful moments. I'm careful not to complain about my life too much, share only the cutest pictures on facebook, and make sure that I'm portraying my family in the best light possible. I've been accused of having a "perfect" life. I'm not sure what perfect means, but I'm pretty sure nothing in my life is perfect. It's a tough balance - not perfect, but a little prettier than real life.

This morning I read Amanda's post and both nodded in agreement and felt the sting of guilt all at the same time. Pregnant with a baby boy after heart ache, infertility, and miscarriage, Amanda knows this baby is an incredible blessing from God. And yet, she's hearing the tough stuff without the beauty. I was convicted. I've been a mama for just over 2 years and the moment Wesley was born, my life was completely changed. It's been painful, difficult, challenging, and tough in ways I couldn't have imagined, but it has also made my heart and life explode with love. A love that I didn't know existed inside of me was unleashed the day Wesley was born.

Today, in honor of Amanda and all the soon-to-be mamas and daddys out there, I want to share the sweetest moments of the past 25 months and 8 days.

  • The last Sunday before I had Wesley I was 40+ weeks and uncomfortable. And yet I wept during worship, praying over my huge belly knowing that soon our baby would be with us for real. I cried in Target that day picking out a girl's outfit, just in case. 
  • After a seriously intense labor, the moment Wesley was placed on my chest, I knew what love was all about. In the middle of the night after Wesley was born, the nurse came in and woke me up, telling me to wake Wesley up and feed him. He didn't want to be awake, so Jarrod and I just spent a few quiet moments staring at him. We would have done anything at all for that tiny baby we just met. Life is over.
  • There were many nights where I fell asleep nursing Wesley in the middle of the night. I woke up panicked - what if something happened?! - but he was safely tucked in on my chest. All is right in the world.
  • I also woke up a few times those very early weeks to Wesley sleeping on Jarrod's chest. There is nothing like watching the tangible love between the man of my dreams and our baby.
  • As Wesley got older, I'd pick him up from daycare and he would kick his feet and grin. He knew I was his mama and he loved me! 
  • A few months ago Wesley started something new - when I pick him up to get him ready for bed or after his bath he will cling to me and pat my back, hugging me really tight. It is absolutely precious. 
It's not all sunshine and roses, but some days are really good. Monday was President's Day and I had the day off from work. Jarrod still had to work, so Wesley and I had a date day. Before Jarrod left I got a great walk in, Wesley and I got ready for the day, and I responded to some work issues. We left for his doctor's appointment - he got a shot and screamed, but was immediately okay once he was offered a sticker! We ran a few errands, singing in the car with the windows rolled down, before killing some time in Target. While we were looking at house stuff, Wesley grabbed my hand, rubbed it on his face, and giggled like crazy. It was adorable. 

After Target and a few more errands, we met Daddy for lunch. It was awesome to share lunch with Jarrod during a work-day! After lunch, Wesley and I went home, read one book, rocked, and he took a nap! That left me with a few hours to get work done. I responded to e-mails, put out some fires at work, and made a running belt

Before I knew it, Wesley had been asleep for 2.5 hours and was waking up! I packed a snack and took him for a walk. We went about 3 miles or so and got home just a few minutes before Jarrod! After some time together as a family at home, we got back outside and went to the park! It was awesome and beautiful outside. After the park, dinner, and bath, Wesley went to bed with only a tiny fight, which is a victory in our house! What a beautiful day! 

It was simple, and probably boring for some, but it was a beautiful day. 
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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Favorite Things - February 2014 Edition

Every once and a while I like to share some of my favorite things. Recently I've found myself gravitating to some awesome things and I thought it was beyond time to share!

1. Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband

I did research for several months before purchasing this Fitbit. I asked friends who had it, read reviews online, and imagined what it would do for my life. My company participates in a program that provides us with a pedometer to wear. We have goals and if we hit them, we can earn incentives (read: cash!) each quarter. The pedometer is bulky and annoying. I was really good about wearing it when I first started with my company but once I was wearing maternity clothes, I got out of the habit and never got back into it again. About 6 months ago I committed to wearing it regularly. The $25/quarter incentives were awesome motivation!

After wearing the pedometer most days for several months, I decided I might want to invest in a fitbit. This wristband not only tracks my steps and helps me track my step goals, but it comes with a free app on my phone that helps me to check my goals. One of my favorite features is that when I wear the fitbit to bed, it will track my sleeping. It will tell me when I'm restless and when I'm awake during the night. Very interesting!

2. Better Mom Shots
I've mentioned this before, but this month I'm especially thankful for Better Mom Shots. Through 30 simple videos and articles, I learned how to use my camera completely in manual. I've been shooting exclusively in manual for about 9 months and couldn't be happier. We've had some nice weather recently so I took Wesley outside for an impromptu photo shoot and playdate. These photos are all straight out of the camera, save the watermark. Nothing incredible, but I'm so thankful that I was able to capture these beautiful moments.
We also went to the zoo recently and I snapped these awesome photos of Wesley and his Momo! I'm so thankful I knew what settings to use because there wasn't time to test things before the merry go 'round was going and I had to get picture-taking!
Look how happy Wesley's Momo is! He loves her and she loves him! 
I had a blast taking these photos and love that nearly 50% of the pictures I've taken are wall-worthy. Thank you, Monica

3. OnGuard
I'm slightly obsessed with this stuff. I rub it on my feet and Wesley's feet everyday. I diffuse it in our house most days, and I've been known to just rub it on my face when I have a headache. It smells like cinnamon, citrus, and heaven all mixed up together. I'm convinced that it's helped keep us healthy (knock on wood!) for what seems like one of the worst winters ever in terms of illness.

OnGuard boosts immunity, kills germs and pathogens, and makes everything smell delicious. It can be taken orally, topically, diffused in the air, and used in cleaning. We've used it when we feel illness coming on to really kick it in the rear. Here is more information about what OnGuard can do.

Want some of your own? You can order your own OnGuard here or you can e-mail me and I can get some for you!

What are your favorites this month?
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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Why I Walk - Kicking Cancer in the Face

It's been very cold lately, especially for Dallas. Our office has closed several times because of ice and snow. I take a snow day as an excuse to go for a walk. If it's 25 degrees, I've been known to walk a quick 3.5 miles around the neighborhood...wearing at least 2 pairs of pants, 3 shirts, a sweatshirt, jacket, headband, and hood.
Jarrod thinks I'm crazy and you might too. 
But I'm Leanne...the walker and walking is what I do. Even when it's cold. Not just because it's great exercise, lowers my stress, and makes me feel good, but because walking is how I fight cancer.

In 2007, I cheered at my very first 3-day for the cure and I was hooked.
By 2008, I had logged hundreds of miles training and walked 60 miles over the course of 3 days. At that time I walked because my grandmother lost her battle with cancer. She was the only person I knew who died of cancer.
Since then I've met countless people who have battled or are battling cancer. I've watched friends lose friends and I've said goodbye to some of the most incredible people ever. Cancer means something more to me now that it's taken my friends - I want to kick it in the face every day. So every day I get up and walk, even when it's cold. That's my way of kicking cancer in the face.
When I first began walking it was because I never met my grandma. The people I knew who battled cancer were old and it was somewhat distant from me. Since 2008 I have walked in seven 3-day for the cure events. Dear loved ones have lost their battle with cancer. Young people have lost their battle with cancer. Children will grow up without their mamas and daddies. Grandparents won't get to meet their grandbabies.

Getting up early in the morning to walk won't kill me. In fact, in some way, it's saving lives. Walking when it's super cold isn't fun, but it's easier than chemo. Walking makes me tired sometimes, but not as tired as doctors appointments. Walking takes time away from my family and my job, but it's nothing compared to the time those who are battling lose because of treatment. Losing an hour on a Saturday morning is nothing compared to a life cut short.

This morning it was very cold, but halfway through my walk the sun came out. I checked my phone and learned that a young man had lost his battle with cancer this morning. He left a wife and three little babies. My grandma missed meeting her grandchildren, but this man will miss watching his babies go to kindergarten. Cancer is sneaky. I don't know what to do about that. I cannot bring him back. All I can do is walk. He didn't get a lifetime and that breaks my heart.

I walk to raise awareness. I walk to raise funds. I walk to cure cancer. Will you join me in the fight?
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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Foster Care Happenings

We are getting things moving on our journey to become foster parents! Last week our counselor returned from being out of the office and was able to review all of our paperwork. She had a question about our health forms - my anxiety medication.
I don't know if I've written about my anxiety here before, but I have suffered from anxiety (generalized) for my whole life. Perhaps I'll share the longer version someday, but for now, here's the short version... In January of 2008 I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder by my doctor. It took a few months to find the right medication, but we finally did and it's been taking the edge off ever since. I weened off when I was pregnant, only to go back on at an even lower dose - 1/2 a pill - during my 3rd trimester. I've attempted to go off of it and onto more natural methods before without much success.
Our counselor suggested natural methods and speaking with my doctor to begin weening myself off of the medication. I called my doctor that day and requested a plan and a letter for our agency. I had an appointment with my doctor today, we came up with a 3-week plan, and he wrote a letter to the agency outlining our plan. Whew!

On Wednesday we will have our fire inspection. In preparation for that, one of our new smoke detectors went off early this morning. Yay! All of our smoke detectors work and have new batteries, our fire extinguisher is ready to go and hopefully our inspection will go smoothly. After that, we are working on scheduling and taking our trainings. Some are online at home, some are online at the office, and some are in person at the office. All told, there are about 20 hours of training that I know of at this time.

I'm starting to talk to Wesley about being a brother. He has no idea what we're talking about, but I'm trying to get him to at least repeat words to me. We're talking about a baby or another child coming to live with us. There is no way for us to adequately prepare him or us for the changes that will happen in our family over the next 6 months. Jarrod and I also pray regularly for our future babies. In very small ways, that makes it more real for me.

There's our update! I'm sure I'll have more to share as we continue in this process! Thank you for your prayers.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

The Wesley Book

One of Wesley's favorite presents he received for Christmas is a book that Wesley received from my dad and stepmom. They gathered pictures from the trip and put them into a book just for Wesley. Wesley immediately deemed it "The Wesley Book." He LOVES it.

While I love my DSLR, it's often too large to take with me everywhere. The best pictures I get of Wesley are often taken on my phone. While I occasionally get those photos printed (Printsagram is AWESOME!) typically all those photos remain forever on my phone, instagram, and Facebook.  Wesley had a great time doing many activities - he actually did even more that I wasn't aware of until the Wesley book arrived, including surprise Christmas presents for Mama and Daddy! 

My dad and stepmom love the book because it's a way for them to stay connected with Wesley even though we live over a thousand miles apart. They have captured the best moments they've had with Wesley and he can relive them every night before bed. Truth be told, I think my dad loves his Wesley book as much as Wesley does! 
This picture has nothing to do this with post. He's just adorable. :-) 
After the success of the New Jersey version of the Wesley book (which is this one from snapfish) I decided to make Wesley a birthday book. I took a million photos at his birthday party this year - of him and his friends having a great time - and thought that putting the photos into a book will help him remember the special day. It's also a great use of all the random photos I took - kids throwing balls, everyone laughing outside, etc. I opted for a soft cover for this book and ordered this one from Shutterfly. It was $14.99, but I used a coupon and got 50% off and free shipping. 

These books are easy, inexpensive, and Wesley adores them. They are a great way to remember special events and see how much he has grown. Of course we will still make our annual yearbooks but think I'm going to make little books for Wesley more of a priority. Especially the soft cover books that we can toss in the diaper bag, the car, or on his bookshelf for easy reading. 

Wesley loves the Wesley books and I think it helps him know how special he is. 
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