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Christmas Categories-a new take on gifting

Each year, I go crazy at Christmas time. It’s my absolute favorite time of year. We have a tree in every room of the house, mounds of wrapping paper, and Christmas music can be heard starting in early November. I love buying gifts for my kids and each year they have over a dozen wrapped items under the tree from us, countless gifts from friends and family, and a large item Santa brings. I’m seriously finding items from last year in my kids bins that have still never even been opened! So this year, I decided I wanted to take a different approach to gifting. I had seen online about some moms doing a 4 gift per kid principle by using the “something you want, something you need, something you can wear, something you can read” concept. I liked this but decided to adapt it a little because A. I can’t commit to buying my kids a “need” for Christmas. If they “need” something, we just buy it when it’s needed. B. 4 didn’t seem like a right number to me but 6 did. Don’t know why. lol So after brainstorming a little with Dave, I came up with these categories for our kids this year:

1. Something to play together
This could be a wii game, a board game, a play set they would all enjoy, etc. For this category, I picked a board game for each of them.

2. Something to create
This is a craft, art item, or activity. My kids love creating things and doing busy work with their hands like their mama. This could be a craft set, art supplies, or activity of some sort. I got P a paint by numbers print of Van Gogh’s Starry night for her room, T got a set of Bunchems, and A is getting a set of bendaroos

3. Something to read
Pretty self explanatory. They each got a boxed set of books they enjoy.

4. Something to wear
I went with cute Pj’s and slippers for this category for when we are roaming the halls of Great Wolf after Christmas. But it could obviously be anything like a cool scarf, a new pair of shoes, a shirt.

5. Something they wish for
Just a small wish list item. P wanted me to re decorate her room for Christmas so she’s getting a new quilt for her bed and some art work for her wall. The other two wanted a puppy surprise.

6. Something made by Mama
This was one of my favorite categories. I wanted them each to have a gift made especially for them by me (with some assistance by Dad in some cases). For T I made a Shopkins display frame with glittery shelves. I’ve of course stocked the shelves with several new shopkins baskets too! You can see how I did it here. For A, I’m painting a picture of the moon over the eiffel tower. She always tells me she loves me all the way to the moon, all the way to Paris, and all the way back home. So I plan on writing that on there too. I’ll certainly post a photo when it’s done. For P I have a HUGE plan to make her a custom dry erase headboard that looks like a giant piece of notebook paper. Then she can doodle on it to her heart’s content. I’ll post a photo and directions of that soon too. I have to find a secret workplace to complete it! lol

This is our first year doing something like this and I really liked having a little check list to go along and it kept me from going insanely overboard. I found some cute little felt shaped tags at Target and assigned a category to each shape. When it’s time to open gifts, we will hand out all the gifts with the same shape out together that way they are all opening their pjs together or their books together. Should be fun!
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We asked Grandparents to gift experiences rather than toys as our children are fortunate to already have so much. We suggested a trip to Greatwolf Lodge, gymnastics classes, horseback riding lessons, ballet classes, museum memberships, etc. Making memories is really better than any toy at the store!

Do any of you do something similar for your kids? If so, what are your categories?

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A very shopkins Christmas

It’s happened.  I tried to fight it for a long time but I’ve finally succumbed to it.  The shopkins craze has hit our house.  For about a year now, T has asked me for shopkins every time we leave the house.  If you don’t know what shopkins are, they are tiny gumball machine prize sized collectibles which unfortunately do not have the gumball machine price tag.  They most often come in “blind baskets” so you have no idea what you’re getting.  It’s a surprise!  All my nieces in the 6-8 year age range love them and thus my 6 (almost 7) year old has jumped on the bandwagon.   This year when making Christmas wish lists, that’s all T said she wanted.  Seriously.  Anywho, if we’re going to do this shopkins thing, we’re going to do it right.  She’s my little collector so I knew I wanted to find a way to display her shopkins so that she could easily reach them to play with but see what she has at all times.  This year, we’re doing Christmas a little differently and we have gift categories to be checked off.  1 category is “made by mom”.  So for T’s gift, I decided I wanted to make a shopkins display.  I purused Pinterest for ideas but couldn’t decide then yesterday, while strolling Michael’s, I hatched a design plan!  Thought I would share it here in case you’ve got a shopkins crazed collector too!

What you’ll need:

-An acrylic box frame (any size you choose) I went big with a 16×20 

-foam core or sturdy cardboard

-box cutter

-wrapping paper

-hot glue gun

  
You can use your frame as a template and a straight edge to cut your shelves out of foam or cardboard.  I wanted 8 shelves on my display and each shelf needs to be doubled up.  So total, I cut 16 strips.  Leave them a little longer than necessary (about half an inch.  You can trim with scissors later.  

  
After cutting them, I grabbed a glue stick and began sticking them together in pairs.

  
Next, I cut 8 strips of wrapping paper to wrap around each shelf.  I had this fabulous glitter paper that worked perfectly because it won’t scratch easily, it was thicker than my others, and it seamlessly matched up when I wrapped it around without being noticeable.  You’ll want to use something similar or solid color for best match up.  You could even use printed contact paper!  I used my glue stick to secure it to each “shelf”.

  
Next, you’ll need to find a box or a book that will match your desired thickness.  I wanted her to be able to store those little baskets and bags on it too so I found a box that was the perfect width in the closet and used that as a guide.  I then used hot glue all along the back and sides of the “shelf” to secure it to the frame.  

  
Moving the box up with each shelf kept them perfectly spaced and I used a small level to double check my work.

  
I plan to cover the outside trim in ribbon that way I can hang it on her wall as well but I haven’t picked that out yet.  Next, stick your shelves with shopkins and you’re ready to go! 

 This week, Michael’s has a 50% off coupon so I used that for the frame which brought it down to about $7.50!  They also are now carrying shopkins in the store so we used to coupon again to score a 12pk set half off!  
Hope this is helpful Mamas!  I know I’m going to have a pretty happy girl come Christmas morning.  😃

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Ipsy glam bag subscription

I had been dying to try one of those monthly beauty subscription sites for a long while and one day a friend on Facebook posted about how much they loved ipsy so I decided to give it a try.  Signing up was super fun and easy.  The website asks lots of questions about your beauty preferences and then you go on a wait list to be approved.  You can expedite the process by posting to social media.  For $10 a month, ipsy sends me 5 products to try in a super cute re-useable cosmetic bag.  Sometimes the products are full size but most often they are sample sizes.  I love it because I get to try products and brands that I wouldn’t otherwise even know about!  Plus, the bags are super cute and so handy for lots of things.  I’m currently using one to store holiday receipts in case anything needs to be returned, one for holiday cash envelopes, and one for my on the go makeup needs.  Additionally, each month ipsy has stellar giveaways you can enter just by posting to social media.  You can also earn points for products by doing surveys on products you’ve tested or referring a friend!

  
In july’s bag, I fell in love with this lip color by teeez.  I get compliments every time I wear it and the shimmery eye shadow is dreamy.  The cool way spray was awesome when I didn’t feel like fixing my hair.  Just spritz and scrunch and bam!  Instant beach waves!

  
August’s bag held yet another fantastic lip product with the hikari gloss, a fantastic eye liner, and a great polish in a shade I wouldn’t normally have tried but loved on!  The argan oil is heavenly in a house full of frizzy curly hair!  

  
September held another brand of hair oil that is equally amazing and I didn’t mind having two because between me and 3 daughters it gets plenty of use and a little goes a long way!  The nyx eyeshadow pallet is by far my new favorite product!  I’ll be picking some up when this is gone for sure.  So pretty and shimmery but without being too made up.  I scored big with another awesome lip color too!  I got to try brow gel for the first time ever and I’m a believer!

  
In October I got this super dual sided metallic bag of goodies.  The cream feels fab on my dry hands and the concealer brush is great!  I like the cleanser but have only used it a couple of times so far.  The polish is an awesome color but unfortunately isn’t as long lasting as I would have hoped.

  
The mailman just dropped off november’s bag  so I haven’t had a chance to try anything out yet but I’m super excited about a new mascara and highlighting trio.  That right red lip crayon is going to be fun just in time for the holidays!  

So overall, I’ve been super pleased with my subscription and plan to continue the service.  It’s so exciting to get that magenta metallic mailer each month and a blast to play with your goodies for a little mini makeover!  Yep, I sit on the floor and play with makeup like my 3 year old!  😂

Here’s my latest ipsy makeover:

  
Wanna try it too?  Follow this link to get started: 

https://www.ipsy.com/new?refer=v3sh6

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Mommy’s preschool D-E-F

Here’s part 2 of our alphabet projects. Letters D, E, and F. You can see part 1 featuring letters A, B, and C HERE

Letter D:
Dinosaur
Dog
Duck
Digging
Donkey
Donut
Dad
Dirt
Dice
Dreamcatcher
Dandelion
Dolphin
Drum
Doll

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There were so many fun things planned for D but we ran out of time before getting to them all :(

I’ll highlight a few of the fun ones we did get to as I’m sure you’re not so interested by the worksheets. We made a dandelion using q tips, a cotton ball, and a pipe cleaner. She simply glued the cotton ball on the top center of a piece of paper then glued the q tips around it. I made a pipe cleaner stem and we were done! We also used a paper plate to make a donut. She painted it and then glued on real sprinkles. For the duck, I cut out a D from yellow construction paper as well as a half circle wing. I made a heart shaped beak and triangle feet from orange paper. She glued all the pieces on and added some yellow tail feathers and goggly eyes.

For the dino feet, I let her paint 2 empty (okay fine, I had to empty them but we are still totally using the kleenex! lol) kleenex boxes. I free cut 4 orange triangle claws per foot and let her glue them on. We then took green construction paper cut into strips and made the hat. 2 around the head and 1 across the top. I then let her glue on green triangles all around the top. She got a kick out of this and is still parading around in this outfit today!

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Our favorite project for D however was the dreamcatchers. The big girls begged me to wait until they got home from school for this one and everyone had a blast! I took a cheap paper plate and cut the inner circle out. Then, using this template as a guide, we used a hole punch to create 11 holes around the outer edge of the plate. While they painted their plates, I cut long pieces of yarn for them to use. I didn’t measure, but I would guess about 3 feet just to be safe. They weaved the yarn through every 4th hole as the above mentioned blog suggested and it worked well. We finished by stringing beads and tying feathers to 3 small strips of yarn and then tying them to the 3 bottom holes. They turned out so cute!
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For our cooking project that week we made Dirt cups. She mixed up the chocolate pudding mix, crushed up double chocolate oreos for the “dirt” and added a gummy worm. She loved making AND eating this one! lol
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Letter E:
Egg
Elephant
Ear
Earth
Eyes
Earring
Eagle
Envelope
Eskimo

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For the eskimo I sort of just free sketched the body, hair, mittens, and boots. They don’t have to be perfect. We used a coffee filter as the fur around her head, and cotton balls as fur accents on her coat.

We printed and cut out this eagle template from construction paper and then traced her hands for the wings. Simple and so cute!

For the elephant mask, she painted a paper plate and I cut out eye holes. I cut the ears and trunk out of construction paper and she glued them on. We also added a large craft stick (can be seen by lifting the trunk) so that she could hold it up to her face. The giant eye balls were printed from here and then glued onto paper plates. We then glued the eyes onto a strip of construction paper so they would stay together and hang easily.

My favorite E project though was the earth. We made this by coloring random patches on a coffee filter in green and blue. A then took a water spray bottle and sprayed it over the filter (I set an old towel under the filter so it didn’t wet the table). Within seconds the colors started merging together with a sort of tie dye effect. We traced her hands to hold the Earth and then read the creation story to tie in the scripture “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth” Genesis 1:1
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We dyed eggs with a kit I had leftover from Easter as our cooking craft.

Letter F:
Frog
Fish
Flamingo
Flag
Football
Feather
Flower
Fox
Food
Fly
Fireman

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We used a few F worksheets we had in our file so I don’t have links for those. We made the fox by folding a paper plate into fourths. She then painted it and glued on the eyes and a puff ball nose. She wanted a girl fox so I cut 2 small triangles and a circle and let her make a bow out of them. We cut triangle ears from construction paper and glued them inside the folds of the plate then glued the whole thing shut.

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We printed and cut this fireman template and then A colored it (rainbow of course, it’s always rainbow lol). We then glued it onto a toilet paper roll.

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I cut the stars and stripes from construction paper and let her glue them on. I used a scrapbooking shape cutter for the stars and it was super quick!

I cut the flamingo’s body for a free hand sketch then we traced her hand for the tail feathers. She glued it all together with a goggly eye and some real pink feathers. Super cute! Her favorite project was the frog though. I just cut a toilet paper roll in half and then traced one end on a piece of construction paper for the mouth. I then cut out a larger green circle for the face. I let her select her eyes and then cut circles a little larger than the eyes for the top. I free sketched and cut the legs. We grabbed a pink rubber band and cut it so that it was one long strip. We tied a black puff ball to the tip and glued it inside the mouth. We glued a strip of green construction paper over the body as well to cover the cardboard. When the glue was dry, she was able to move the “tongue” in and out of the frogs mouth to eat the fly. :)

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Mommy’s preschool A-B-C

A and I have been working on a letter of the week project since the big girls started school. We’ve done really well with keeping up with it thus far and I love that she’s learning AND having a blast doing it. I’ve spent hours scouring pinterest for letter activity ideas and thought I would share some of the things we’ve been working on thus far with you guys. We will start the letter Ii next week so I’ll get you that far then add more letters as we complete them in case you want to start working with your little too. I’m going to do 3 letters per blog post that way you can easily find inspiration for just a specific letter you need without scrolling through the entire alphabet at once. I’ll give you a list of words we came up with for that letter (we didn’t use all the words but you may come up with something for them), I’ll show you what we worked on some, and give you some ideas for snacktivities too. We created a display wall of brightly painted picture frames with binder clip hooks to display her work each week near her chalkboard. Hope this helps! I tried to plan worksheets, crafts, and a cooking project for each letter.

A few ideas for craft supplies we keep around at all times that you may consider stocking up on: Construction paper, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, cheap coffee filters, cheap paper plates, craft sticks, goggly eyes, tissue paper, feathers, glitter, paint, cheap shaving cream. We got most of our supplies at dollar tree!

Letter A:
Apple
Alligator
Ant
Arrow
Astronaut

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You can find the Alligator A coloring sheet we used here: Alligator coloring sheet

I was very fortunate that a friend’s mom gave me a box of preschool goodies organized by letter when P was this age and I’ve used it with all 3 girls now! It’s so special re-living each letter with A and remembering how the other girls did it a little different. I’m not much help with letter A as it was our first letter and I wasn’t all that prepared and original with our work :( For our cooking project that week we made an A-A-Apple crumble. Simple and yummy!

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For this, we used an apple slicer on the apple and then cut those thin slices in half. For the crumble we used about a tablespoon of steel cut oats, a dash of cinnamon, a sprinkle of coconut flour, and about 1/2 a teaspoon of brown sugar per 1 apple. We arranged the apple slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkled with our crumble. We baked them at 350 if I remember correctly for a few mins until the apples were soft.

Letter B:
Boots
Banana
Ballerina
Bat
Baseball
Bath
Bike
Boat
Bear
Butterfly
Blue
Bee

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We found a nice printout of a clown holding some balloons and I wrote B on each balloon and let her color it.

The boot was one of my favorite projects, because well, TEXAS! lol We used this template. I printed it and cut out each piece individually on construction paper. Then I let her glue all the pieces on and decorate it with stickers. I drew the stitching on with a marker. But you could just print this and have your little decorate it instead if you wanted to save a few steps.

For the bird I cut out 2 large circles from construction paper. We cut one of the circles in half for the wings. I cut the feet and beak out of construction paper and let her glue on goggly eyes to finish. Super quick, easy, and cute!

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We used the B for bat coloring sheet also from education.com (same place as the A alligator one). You can create an account for free and have access to all sorts of goodies! B for bat

I got the template for the ballerinas HERE
unfortunately, the whole blog is in spanish but you get the idea. I printed the ballerina templates, traced them onto paper (I planned to use construction paper, but A wanted to color them herself instead), we cut them out, glued them onto large craft sticks then added a cupcake liner as a tutu. She loved these!

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We used an egg carton to create the bumble bee. I cut to little cups off and hot glued them together for the head and body then let A paint it. We glued on goggly eyes, pipe cleaner legs and antenna, and paper wings. So cute!

We made banana pudding as our cooking project that week.

Letter C:
Cactus
Cat
Caterpillar
Cookie
Cupcake
Cow
Campfire
Carrot
Car
Clown
Cake
Crab

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We made a giant cupcake out of construction paper. I just free drew and cut it then we used shaving cream mixed with pink paint as “frosting”. She sprinkled the top with tiny seed beads while it was still wet. I don’t know why we had never used shaving cream to paint before because it was super fun! We used it to frost our “cake” the next day too. To make the cake, I cut out 2 large circles from construction paper. I cut up toilet paper rolls to line the bottom circle (we save these for spirit sticks for cheer and they make terrific craft supplies!). I then glued on the top circle and then cut a strip of paper to cover the sides. A then painted the icing on and added paper polka dots for decoration. She wanted a candle on it so I let her paint another slightly trimmed toilet paper roll for that then I let her tear tiny pieces of tissue paper and stuff them in for the flame.

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I cut tiny cookies out of brown construction paper and let her draw on chocolate chips with a black crayon. We made a baking sheet out of some aluminum foil. For the carrot, I just cut out a large letter C with a pointy bottom from orange construction paper and let her stick green pipe cleaners in the top. We also made a car from a toilet paper roll. I cut out a top seat area leaving a tiny lip for the windshield. While she painted it, I cut out small circles for the tires and steering wheel. She loved it! For our snack we made cookies of course!

You can see letters D-E-F here

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Grab your health by the horns!

I’ve struggled with my weight since I had my oldest daughter almost 11 years ago. As a teenager, I developed a pretty unhealthy lifestyle but since I wore little kids jeans and had a much more active metabolism, I didn’t realize how I was setting up adult Lori for failure. For instance, weighing in at all of 101 lbs my senior year in high school and wearing a size 12/14 gap kids jeans, I ate a vending machine honey bun for breakfast pretty much daily. I would often skip lunch all together or stuff my face with tortillas and queso at rosas. I didn’t workout and had given up all athletic extra curricular activities. 3 kids later and my weight has yo-yoed up and down for years. My closet is filled with things are that either way too big or way too small from skinny times and fat times. Obviously the weight I had put on was devastating to my self image but I hadn’t realized how the choices I was making were affecting my health. I tried just about every weight loss product on the market and had minimal results. My eating habits were not terribly dreadful and I was pretty active so I was incredibly frustrated with how much trouble I was having getting the weight off. A little over a year ago I found myself in a doctor’s office. I had literally felt like I had the flu for several months. I stopped working out because I had absolutely no energy. I could sleep all day if you would let me. My body felt achy and I was constantly suffering from headaches. My weight was fluctuating even more than usual and sometimes I had no appetite at all. I felt weak and drained constantly despite the fact that I was drinking 1-3 cups of coffee in the morning, 1-3 red bulls in the afternoon/evening, in addition to a well known health and wellness company’s energy drink at least once a day! As I was describing to my doctor how I was feeling she became concerned. Initially, she suspected that it may be more of an emotional issue due to the fact that I was adjusting to life in a new town and some stresses in my personal life but decided to run a few blood tests anyway. I’m not sure specifically what she was testing for but I know that we couldn’t pin point what exactly was wrong aside from the fact that my white blood cell count was low. We couldn’t pin point a culprit but she suspected it might have something to do with recurring sinus infections I was suffering due to severe allergies. She prescribed an allergy medication, some sort of oral steroid, and a nasal spray and said we would re-analyze the situation in a month. My first week or so I did feel a bit better so was relieved to not feel like death for the first time in a while. However, by the month’s end, I was back to feeling like I had been hit by a train. I was trying to hit the gym daily and truck through my aches and exhaustion hoping it would help but I ended up feeling even more terrible. My blood work that month again revealed a low white blood cell count. Over the next year, I had my blood drawn monthly and had numerous tests for everything from my thyroid to cancer. We could not find an answer for my mystery ailment. I cried because I was so desperate to feel normal again. I wanted energy to do fun things with my kids again and it was so frustrating not having answers. I was pretty convinced I was dying but wasn’t sure from what. During this time, I was seeing 2 different friends post about 2 different things that sparked my interest on social media. 1 friend was posting about Whole 30 and another about It Works products. I messaged 1 friend first about her Whole 30 journey and her health results with it. She said after reading the book It Starts With Food she began a lifestyle change that had improved her health in many ways from allergies to anxiety! I was curious so I read the book too and was shocked by how much food (even seemingly healthy food) can negatively impact our physical and mental health. Because a Whole 30 diet meant completely cutting out a whole lot of everything, I decided to ease into it with a Whole 7 instead. For 7 days I 100% followed the Whole 30 way. Guess what? After only 7 days, I DID feel better! Although I still have never completed and entire whole 30 program, I do stick to the lifestyle 75%-80% of the time. I try to stick to it more often but I also know for me, completely eliminating things and overly restricting myself, sets me up for failure. Sometimes, I try and make healthier versions of cheat foods or as Whole30 says SWYPO (sex with your pants on) meals. lol But here’s the deal, eating “clean” isn’t always common sense. Our food has evolved over the years so do your research folks. Funny thing is, my body now knows when I’ve filled it with junk. After a particularly long stint of clean eating with no cheats, my husband came home craving Rosas. I went along with it and everything tasted incredible going down but within about 30 minutes, I found myself face first in the toilet projectile vomiting. It wasn’t food poisoning, my body just literally rejected the junk. My kids say they notice the feeling of awful nastiness after eating a junk meal too. We hate feeling too full and sluggish after something greasy. I’ve talked my husband into making some healthier choices when he’s home but deep down, he will always be a pizza, burgers, and beer guy! lol Baby steps!

During this time of self enlightenment and research, I was approached by a friend about It Works products, I had seen he and his wife post about them and was really curious to try a few things. Somehow, he convinced me to sign up to be a distributor myself. Mainly because I got a discount on products and they were offering a great incentive for new distributors. I never intended to sell it, but figured I didn’t have anything to lose. When my greens and other products arrived I was really excited to try some stuff out. I haven’t yet found a product I hate but by far my favorite product is the greens. I mix them once a day with half orange juice and half water and have since stopped drinking coffee and red bull. Yep, you heard me, I no longer drink those things AT ALL. Which is amazing considering that I was a complete junky as I mentioned before. I now have the energy to get a brief workout in daily even with our busy schedules. Aside from the small amount of juice I use with my greens daily, I drink nothing but water unless I find myself out on the occasional girls night or date night where I do allow myself alcohol. Want to know the best part though? My blood work has been completely normal for several months now and I don’t feel like I have a chronic flu anymore! Cheery on top? I’ve now made some money and earned lots of my It Works products for FREE just for being a distributor and helping my friends and family improve their health!

Why am I telling you all of this? Because, I want YOU to feel better too. This journey for me no longer became a weight loss mission, it became a health mission. Sure I’ve lost a little weight along the way but that’s just a bonus for the way I feel. Take your health and the health of your family into your own hands. Read the book, do the research, find a plan that works for you but make yourself very aware of the foods and drinks that you’re putting into your body and into the bodies of your children! Buy organic, eat fresh not processed, drink some water, eat clean, be active, take your vitamins, and feel better! I would love to share some meal ideas and tips with you sometime when I’ve got a second but in the meantime, do your homework. Till we meet again! <3

Getcha some It Works Greens right here!

P.S: I eat lots of Whole30 approved meals but I sometimes I take meal ideas from beach body’s 21 day fix and sometimes a few paleo goodies too. Check pinterest for ideas for keeping clean eating fresh and delicious!

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BIG SEVEN

7 years. 364 weeks. 2,555 days. 61,320 hours. 3,679,200 minutes.

As of 5:00 p.m. today, that’s how long I’ve been married. 7 years, although it’s not a particularly large or traditional anniversary milestone, it is for me. I try not to get too incredibly personal where my marriage is concerned but it is with my husband’s permission that I share a little bit about our story. Our marriage has never been a walk in the park. In the 7 years since we said I do we have been through our fair share of trials. We’ve seen a deployment, an oil boom, 2 oil busts, a layoff, the birth of 2 children, 3 moves, and a whole lot in between. Last year however, we endured our toughest trial yet. As I’m sure those of you who personally know me or closely follow my blog are aware of, we lost my mother in law last August. Just one week shy of our 6 year wedding anniversary. That summer had been particularly strenuous on our marriage because it just seemed as though we had grown apart. I felt like Dave was mean and short tempered all the time, like he no longer cared about me and our marriage, and that he was incredibly selfish. He felt under appreciated, like I nagged constantly, and that I was trying to control him. Neither of us were budging and were both frustrated and burnt out on the relationship. Around June, I suggested maybe we take some time apart and perhaps give each other some breathing room without speaking while he was away at work to do some thinking. Within 2 weeks, we had decided to work on things and make some changes so that we could make our marriage work. We sort of just swept things under the rug at this point though because neither of us actually did anything to change. By August we were pretty miserable with each other but in attempts to reconnect, he took off work for our anniversary and my mother was planning to keep the kids for a few days so that we could spend some much needed one on one time together. The week before we were scheduled to leave, we got the news that his mother had passed and we quickly began making arrangements. We ended up spending our anniversary at the family ranch with all of his family as we laid her to rest. We were both really mourning the loss and trying to wrap our heads around it and really tried to lean on each other. By the next month however we were right back where we were before her passing. Mid September Dave came to me and said he was tired of fighting and he wasn’t sure he wanted to be married anymore. I hesitantly admitted I was feeling the same way and when he left for work later that day, we had decided it was more of a goodbye than a see you later. We had decided to separate. I realized pretty early on this wasn’t truly what I wanted but I was so frustrated I wasn’t sure what to do. Dave took a little longer however to come around. I won’t get into all the details of what happened between us in the weeks to follow but I will say we said and did alot of things to hurt one another. During our separation, my grandmother passed away and I found myself back home with my parents for the funeral. I spent 6 years praying for God to move in my husband’s heart. To change him. I never once asked for God to change ME. I never asked for God to move in MY heart and reveal to me what I was doing wrong because I was so focused on what he was doing wrong. I was so focused on my hurt and my resentment that I couldn’t see my contributions to the demise of my marriage. But the night of my grandmother’s funeral I ugly cried out to the Lord. I asked him to reveal to me what I could change in myself, I asked him to help me get over the hurt of the past, and finally I asked for peace and for comfort for whatever his will was for my marriage. I couldn’t beg him to make Dave want to be married to me anymore, I began to plead for HIM to invade my heart and make me okay with being on my own if that’s so what he wanted for my life. I asked him for strength and wisdom to be a strong mother for my girls through this difficult time. For the first time in weeks, I slept soundly through the night. When I woke up the next morning, I decided it was time to stop mourning my marriage. I wasn’t going to cry or beg Dave to stay, if he wanted to leave, I would let him and I would be okay. Just like that, God moved. Dave asked to see me that night, we talked, I cried, he asked for forgiveness, so did I. We decided to work on things and communicate more. He looked at me in a way I had never seen him look at me before. When I asked him what made him suddenly want to see me, he couldn’t really provide an answer other than he was just sitting there watching tv and felt like he HAD to see me. Something extraordinary happened that night. We became friends. Best friends. The month or so afterwards were difficult because we were still working through some things together and trying to mend some hurts. I’m sitting here in awe of the miracle God has worked in our marriage since then. My husband has become one of the most patient kind men I know. He always puts the girls and I first. He makes our marriage a priority and goes to church with me when he’s home. He calls me and texts me every chance he gets and makes me feel so loved daily. We truly enjoy each other’s company and when he looks at me, I can visibly see his love for me. I on the other hand probably could still work on my nagging but I do try harder to show my appreciation for all he does and sacrifices for our family. I’m asking God daily to show me how to love my husband more and to fully mend all of my past hurts. I spent many years being patient with Dave and I’m thankful he was patient with me this last year while I worked through some hurt, insecurities, and some struggles of my own. I’m glad I didn’t give up on him easily and glad he hasn’t given up on me. So while a 7 year anniversary may not seem like something super spectacular to you, in many ways, it was the most special milestone of all for us. It was the first anniversary of our new beginning, it was an anniversary I didn’t think we were going to make it to. We are so appreciative of our family and friends who vigilantly prayed with us and for us and truly fought for our marriage along side us.

Honey, I’m thankful for second chances. I promise to let my guard down and just live. I promise to *try harder* not to nag and to remember to pick up your dry cleaning. I love you 809238423740298840923374238409280 +7. I can’t wait to see what adventures our next year brings. <3

Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. Mark 10:9

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On our Wedding day August 9, 2008

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