Thursday, August 29, 2013

Honi Kine Teething Necklaces

"Why do all of your necklaces have this funny wooden ring at the bottom of them now?"

This question was asked by one of the college guys that I lead worship with weekly at church. I proceeded to explain that it was a teething necklace for Piper (though my mother would tell you it's for me when I'm bored)! Let me start at the beginning...

A few months ago, my mommy friends and I began to become frantic as our babies approached teething. They showed all the signs- drooling, chewing on everything, crankiness, swollen gums, etc. We jumped onto our online forums posting questions about remedies and tricks! It was at this point that our friend Sharon revealed that she makes beautiful teething necklaces.

What's a teething necklace? Well, it's a necklace made from safe materials that is worn for the purpose of the little one chomping on it and keeping busy while you hold them! No, it is not to be confused with Amber teething necklaces that are worn by the baby. These necklaces are made for Mommy! Sharon was just starting up her business, Honi Kine, so she offered discounted prices for us and brought all of her supplies to mommy group for us to make our own. We were sold! Here is a picture of the 'few' that I own...

Is this too many? Can you EVER have too many teething necklaces!?! 

So what does Honi Kine mean? Straight from the Honi Kine website"the honi is a Polynesian greeting in which two people greet each other by pressing noses & inhaling at the same time. it represents the exchange of ha -- the breath of life, and mana -- spiritual power between two people." Each Honi Kine necklace is made from tightly crochet covered beads and a maple hardwood all-natural wood teething ring, brushed with an organic beeswax olive oil seal. They each come "nestled in a premium muslin pouch". There are also a few 100% organic cotton options!

Here are some pictures of my necklaces in action...

And remember this picture from my Scars and Flaws post? 

Yeah, it was taken in California while I was on a girls weekend.... without the baby. Yes, I love the bohemian look of them so much that I wear them when she's not around! If you think it's just for teething, think again! Piper uses them as a comfort grip, a shaking toy, or to put her foot in. It makes feedings a little more pleasant- less feet and fingers up my nose because her hands are occupied! I also nanny a 2 year old girl who does not need it for teething, but every time I have one on she sits in my lap and holds it or plays with it. These are the ultimate comfort item, gals.

If you don't love the wood teething ring, there are other options as well. Like this...
And it doesn't stop at necklaces! Honi Kine also makes sidekick clips and burp clothes! Each product is handmade by Sharon, so if you have a custom idea, let her know! (She and her daughter Ava also model most of the products on the website! Aren't they just so beautiful?!)
Visit the Honi Kine Website and also 'like' the Honi Kine facebook page!

With how affordable and adorable these products are, this website could be your new favorite! Happy Shopping!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Marriage After Baby

 This week on one of my mommy forums, a sweet and desperate mama asked the question How have your marriages survived the first year of parenthood? We are 11 months in and feel like we are still struggling to adjust. I can't say we fight much--I just feel distant”.

How many of us have felt this way and have been too nervous or ashamed to speak up? Other mamas immediately began to reach out and share their hearts, struggles, and give encouragement. It’s amazing how many new mothers feel this way!

Now, we are not perfect and Daniel and I have had our moments, but I do have to say that having the baby has made our marriage feel stronger. Because of our long labor and traumatic birth, I have never felt closer and more supported by that man! Let me try to explain this… our marriage feels stronger, in a way that I am no longer thinking “divorce” when we get in a fight, but there have been days where we feel very distant from each other as we navigate the beginnings of parenthood. Some of the excitement and passion has weakened as we take on the mundane tasks of work, sleep (or lack there of), diapers, errands, cooking, cleaning, church events, family, etc.  

The first two months (at least) of Piper’s life are what we called the “dark days”. Days and nights seemed to string together in an endless fit of feedings, a screaming baby, broken sleep and lots of tears (for mainly me and baby). I thought to myself “why in the world did I EVER want to do this!?”. Am I the only one? Didn’t think so. We tried to rotate wakings and allow each other to sleep as much as possible- but with me as the primary food source, I got the short end of the stick. We tried to talk and spend time together, but we were so tired and distracted. We made a decision to just “get through” until things calmed down a little bit, and then we could find the time to reconnect and focus on our marriage. Things do get easier, I promise.

Here is some advice that I have gathered from different sources that may help you during this difficult transition.

  • Honestly, the few first months you are in survival mode. If you can avoid it, try not to make any big decisions or discuss highly emotional or controversial subjects with your spouse. You are both sleep deprived, may be feeling neglected by your spouse, and totally distracted. You will get the hang of parenthood soon, so just SURVIVE. There will be time soon to talk and bond and reignite the passion. Try to help each other out as much as possible- when Piper was tiny, I would take her out of our bedroom to nurse (she was loud!) and let Daniel sleep longer. When she was finished and needed to be bounced back to sleep, I would wake Daddy and let him do that while I went back to bed. This worked well for us during those tough nights. 

  • Do you feel like you love your baby more than you love your husband? Let me explain why… The love that we have for our children is unconditional and so fierce that nothing can stop it. The love that we have for our spouse is conditional and if we are not getting our needs met, we feel neglected and frustrated. The baby is a part of us, and God created us to feel that love towards our children in order to nurture and protect them (and not kill them when they make us made because they’re so darn cute!). On the other hand, we have to CHOOSE to love our husbands daily. My father-in-law has always told us that “you can marry anyone- there is no ‘perfect match’. Marriage is a choice and you choose to love someone”. This stays true in the days of new parenthood. Although you may not feel like you’re in love, you can choose it.

  • Give the guys a break. They don’t have our famous ‘mother’s intuition’. Our husbands may not notice when the baby has a dirty diaper or that we are too tired to rock them to sleep. They can’t tell as easily when it’s discomfort or hunger, or tummy aches (sometimes we can’t either). Don’t hurl the pacifier at him saying “you KNOW she needs a pacifier!”, instead, try saying “honey, did you try the pacifier yet? That usually calms her”. We are all forgetful, and we can completely change a situation based on how we communicate. I am guilty of throwing things at times, but when I came about it gently, even when my heart felt angry, I always got a better response and it diffused a tense situation.

  • Let Daddy discover how to be a daddy. I had a hard time watching Daniel feed her “wrong” or  burp her too hard, or most recently pull her off the bed or throw her in the air! But my husband needs the freedom to create his relationship with his child. If I parent him also, I am squashing his ability to step up as a parent. Just last night I ran to the store and tried to correct him as I walked out the door. He looked at me and said “If I’m the parent, please let me be the parent”. He wasn’t doing anything wrong, just different. I gave in and left. He was right. And don’t EVER refer to Daddy as the ‘babysitter’. This has always been a rule for me. He is not a pay by the hour, keep my kid busy and alive person, he is her father and has just as much responsibility in raising her as I do. When we give our husbands the freedom to rise up and become great dads, they usually do. 

  • Take time away from the baby when you can! When that scary “6 weeks” mark started looming over my head, I knew my husband was ready to have his wife back. But I was so scared. Will it hurt? Can I do it? What’s the wreckage like down there? My head was so in “mommy mode” that there was no way I could let go and enjoy my husband- especially with the baby 5 feet away and my nerves on edge. So here’s what I did… I didn’t tell my husband my plan… I called my mom and asked her to watch the baby for a couple hours. I dropped her off and went back home and prepared a nice meal. When my husband got off work, he came home to me...just me! Without the baby around, we could really focus on each other for our first time back at it. We had a blissful two hours together, and then we went to pick up our baby, feeling content and refreshed. I knew ahead of time that I couldn’t focus on my husband while waiting for the baby to cry or feed, so I took her to someone I trusted (as hard as it was to leave her!), because my husband needed me too. Once that first time was out of the way, we were able to explore and enjoy each other with baby in the house. It just takes time. 

  • There were times when I was breastfeeding that I felt like my body was not my own. I would feed the baby and put her to bed, I would satisfy my husband, and then I would say “Okay, is everybody good? Can I put my boobs away now?”. I honestly felt like I was constantly being needed by someone. In these moments, I tried to remember that this was really the life I wanted. I didn’t expect all of this, but I wanted to be a loving mother and an attentive wife. And I know this is just the beginning. There is no “off” time for mommies. So instead of feeling bad for myself, I thank God for my husband, my child, and my wonderful family. I try to remember that it will not be like this forever, I will be longing for the days of breastfeeding again (I already am), or having intimate times with my husband. God created my body to serve others, and that is exactly what I am using it for. I'm actually lucky, right!?

  • Thank each other for the sacrifices that you each make. In our case, that means thanking my husband for opting out of playing soccer during the week and for not doing Fantasy Football this year (this is a big deal, believe me. And I am so thankful). For me, he constantly thanks me for keeping our baby alive and loving her unconditionally. It works out well. Express the little things- even if you think they don’t care. They do. It always feels good to be thanked for something that you thought was going unnoticed. 

  • Don’t dwell on what used to be- I used to do this because we LOVED to travel, explore, hike, backpack, camp… you name it. With a baby? No way. Instead, we try to look forward to things we can do with her. The first time she’ll see the beach. Her first camping trip. Taking her to see the changing colors in Boston. Or the little day-to-day things like hearing a dog bark for the first time. Feeling sprinklers. Touching grass. Swimming. We do miss our freedom and the ability to get up and go, but this is so much more rewarding. Seeing life through someone else’s eyes for the FIRST TIME. She’ll grow up and all of this will be normal soon, so savor it now. I am also keeping low expectations- I know we want more children, so I am not counting on ‘getting back’ to some of those things for awhile. I want to wait until our children are old enough to enjoy the experience anyway!

  • Let the baby change you. When you become a parent, a whole new life unfolds before your eyes. You see things in a different light. Every movie you see, you think “what if that was my child?”. Every baby you see in the store, you think “they’re about the same age”. You seem to have this secret connection with every other person who has a baby! My husband and I joke that we feel like we’re in a secret club with other parents, and we share quiet head nods and smiles with other parents in the grocery store. All this being said, YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE. Find some parent friends (or at least mommy friends) to have dinner with, laugh with, share stories, etc. Chances are, your screaming and cranky kids won’t bother them. 

  • Let the baby see how much you love each other- even if it’s a struggle. Make a daily decision to be excited when Daddy gets home from work (make it a big deal for baby) and show him your appreciation. Be intentional about hugging each other (sometimes with baby) and ALWAYS kissing in front of her. We realized very early that our little one was watching intently as we kissed. It makes her feel loved and secure seeing her parents love each other, even as a baby. And it could also spark some passion between the two of you! Don’t withhold physical touch or saying “I love you” from your spouse, even when you don’t feel like it.  This is also how our children learn that no matter how we feel, we will always love them. 

  • Set a daily time to connect with each other. I know this is hard. We don’t always do it, but we try. Daniel’s grandparents were married for 67 years before his grandmother passed away. Every night before bed, they would say goodnight and excuse themselves and go to the bedroom to “settle their nerves”. This meant that they would take time talking through their day and sharing their hearts with each other.  Daniel wanted to start this in our marriage, and it’s so fun to lay in bed and talk for a few minutes! If we can’t settle our nerves, we will try talking over dinner. We ask each other “what are 5 things that I don’t know about your day?”. This is really fun. Mine are usually baby related, and his are usually work related (things I don’t understand), but it gives us insight into each other’s time when we are apart. Other times, we try to leave each other little notes of thanks, send a text saying “I love you and I’m thinking about you”, or fill in our chalkboard that says “I love you because…”. 

  • Don’t forget to date each other. If you can get out of the house and away from baby, GREAT! If not, make the most of your time. Have a nightcap on the back porch. Have a candlelight dinner in the living room (our have consisted of pizza!). Watch a movie in bed, go for a walk (with baby of course!). Read through a book together. Do SOMETHING. When we were all poor college kids, we had to date this way anyway! The date doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, just meaningful.

  • Entertain each other’s dreams. Don’t say “we can never go to Alaska, we have a baby!” or “you can’t go back to school, we don’t have the money”. Sometimes we just want to dream and wonder. In the future, you may be able to do some of those things, so don’t cut each other down now. My current dream is going to a luxury hotel by myself and sleeping through the night! Can anyone relate? Listen, encourage, and dream. Sometimes we just need someone else to say “that sounds nice”.

Remember that our marriage never gets to a point where it is perfect or where all the work is done. As people, we change as evolve as we grow older. We have to constantly CHOOSE to stay together and create love between us. We all hear of the 7-year itch, the empty-nest syndrome, and the midlife crisis. None of us are exempt from these difficult times in life. Make your marriage a priority for you. Don’t talk negatively about your spouse. Lift them up whenever you are around others. The more you say something, the more you believe it. Love is not a feeling, it is a choice. Choose to love your husband, because it is the best gift we can give our children. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My Chalkboard Fridge!

I got bored a few weeks ago, so I ran to the store and picked up some chalkboard paint! My husband and I had talked about making the fridge a chalkboard and he had agreed to it. It was just a plain black fridge- nothing fancy, and we had no plans of getting rid of it! Although he was on board, he didn't expect to come home to it one day! I just sometimes get an idea and make it happen ASAP! 

Here is my fridge before. Black, boring, and cluttered.

 I knew it wasn't difficult to do- I had read a few Pinterest blogs on it and it seemed simple. I found the paint at Walmart for about $10- I had also seen it at hardware stores, but it was about $15. Walmart is the way to go! Here is what it looks like:

When I got home, I grabbed a mirror that I knew I wanted to make a chalkboard and I cleaned off the fridge. I wiped them both down and let them dry. I used a small sponge roller that I also found at Walmart for a few dollars. I taped the mirror so I wouldn't paint the frame- although at the end I had to take the tape off and CAREFULLY touch up the edges so mirror wouldn't show through! Here's the mirror:
It takes a few coats to cover completely!
After one coat on the mirror, I moved to the refrigerator. This took longer and I wanted to make sure it was smooth and even. I did the entire front and the right side (the left side is against a wall).
See the difference? The paint simply turned my shiny fridge matte instead!
Once I was finished there, I still had a ton of paint. So I went into our master bathroom, opened the medicine cabinet and did this:

I did another round for each and applied a second coat. It dries pretty quickly- the hardest part is waiting the 3 days for it to 'set' before you can write on it!
Here are my final products:

 Please excuse my handwriting- it's not good. But you get the point! I still have so much paint leftover...I need to come up with more chalkboard projects!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lemongrass Spa- Products Review and GIVEAWAY!

Recently, a fellow mommy friend contacted me about a product that she distributes and sent me a few samples of their most popular products. She asked that I try them for a little while and write a quick review on the blog...SURE! But here's the best part... she also is offering a GIVEAWAY right here! More on this in a bit....

First things first! The company that I am referring to is called Lemongrass Spa. Ever heard of it? It was created and is currently run by a couple in Colorado, and their products are really neat! My friend, Kristen, did esthetics for 8 years here in AZ before she got married, moved to Florida, and started a family (4 little boys under 4!). In her words, "skin care is the nitch I love".  Not only do I love following this woman's journey through motherhood with these rambunctious boys, but I really trust her judgement when it comes to natural, chemical-free products.

How cute is this family!?!?
 Here is why Lemongrass Spa is so awesome:
  Our products are completely free of:
- Phthalates - Petroleum-based fillers - Mineral Oil - Sodium Laureth Sulfate - Formaldehyde - Lake colorants - Parabens - Animal Testing
We hand-select natural ingredients including: Fruit extracts such as Pomegranate, Raspberry Seed and Cucumber Moisturizers such as Shea Butter, Mango Butter, Olive Oil, Jojoba Oil, Olive Butter, Apricot Kernel Oil and Almond Oil.
Pure Essential Oils such as Lavender, Tea Tree, Peppermint, Spearmint, Sandalwood & Patchouli. Sugar, oatmeal, dead sea salt and other ingredients that are so natural you could eat them!

 Kristen says that these are the only products that she uses on herself and her babies now. Can you imagine how eager I was to receive my samples! And you better believe that I had a taste- how could I not when it says you can eat it!?!? The body polish tasted a little soapy, but I'm still alive! Yay! Here are the samples that I received last week...

"Pink Shimmer" Lip Balm:

Oatmeal Milk and Honey Soap:

Pink Grapefruit Body Scrub:

Eternal Bliss Body Silk:

 Healing Elements Balm:  

 Here are my unbiased, personal reviews of these products:

"Pink Shimmer" Lip Balm: I am a chapstick addict. I admit it. I have about 4 of them on me at all times- in the diaper bag, my purse, the junk drawer, and my nightstand. I can't go without. I also have all different kinds. I don't like lipstick, so a lip balm with a little color or shimmer is nice! I put this on as soon as I got my samples, and I forgot about it. It was a few hours before bed. When I went to bed, I realized that it was STILL ON! This was amazing to me! I usually lick or eat it off quickly, but this was thick enough to stay on, yet comfortable enough to not bother me! I really like the smell of it also, so I now carry it around! Piper seems to think it's a decent chew toy too- she hasn't discovered the cap yet! 

Oatmeal Milk and Honey Soap: The smell of this is just to die for. It is smooth and wonderful! I love a good hand/body soap! I used to go to the farmer's market to get these kinds of soaps, but I haven't been in ages. This little sample will be gone all too soon. I have it in the guest bathroom now!

Pink Grapefruit Body Scrub: This may be my favorite of all of them. Maybe. I can't decide. I used this a few different ways. The first night I used it as a foot scrub for my heels. It starts out very gritty and then melts and turns to an oil. It's pretty nice! The next day I used it as an all-over body scrub during my shower in the morning. You have to scrub quickly so the sugar in it doesn't melt too quickly. I did a little experiment- I used NO lotion afterwards! It leaves your skin very soft and barely oily- just enough to feel moisturized. I went about my entire day without lotion! This is risky to do in AZ in the summer- you are bound to get dry, cracked skin or at least white dry spots! I didn't. Not one bit. By the end of the day I didn't feel as soft as the beginning, but I was still moisturized! And lastly, I used it in my next shower as SHAVING CREAM. You heard me right. Kristen told me that the sugar and oil helps the hair to stand up and get a closer shave! I loved that as well! My razor did get a little clogged up from the oil as I went, but a quick rinse fixed that. This product gets a BIG thumbs up from me!

Eternal Bliss Body Silk: Here is my only complaint about this one... my sample was way too small! Since I knew this would be bliss (pun intended), I waited until I was freshly showered and applied it, almost the entire sample, to my whole body. It goes on smoothly, smells heavenly and keeps your skin soft all day. What more can a girl ask for? Knowing that it is all-natural and as chemical-free as they get- SOLD.

Healing Elements Balm: Okay, this is the other one that might be my favorite. Might. Here's why I say can be used for so many things, I just haven't had the opportunity to use it much yet! A little goes a long way with this one though. I have used it on my cracked heels (and continue to), and I have also used it as a night cream on the nights I wash my face before bed (secret- I don't always). I was always afraid my skin was too oily to wear a 'night cream' or salve, but I wake up with my skin feeling refreshed and hydrated. I will keep doing it at night in hopes that my skin will get ever better! This can also be used on so many things for both mama and the little babes (see attachment below). 

This little chart was sent to me with my samples, and I just love it! It gives me so many different ideas for how to use the products!

Overall, I loved all of these products. I have had my nose stuck in the catalog all week looking at the products, comparing prices, and seeing what else I would love to try! A couple of the products that I am eager to order are the Body Spritz (as a hair detangler!), the Nail Balm and the Natural Deodorant! Kristen said that she has tried many brands of natural deodorant and she loves this one. In her words "Now--we live in hot 4 pm am I a bit "stinky" yes, a bit..but common..its a natural deodorant and its 1000 degrees outside!". For those of us who already use natural deodorant (or none), this is no surprise. I would rather reapply a natural deodorant that have a chemical-filled smell all day (especially for you nursing mamas)!

 I am also interested in trying their line of Sheer Minerals makeup. I have been using Bare Minerals since the beginning of the year and I am totally in love with it. Kristen said that this compares to Bare Minerals, but Bare Minerals contains Bismuth Oxychloride in it which is known for causing irritation. It is a cheap ingredient that is more like a metal. After doing some price comparing too, Lemongrass Sheer Minerals is cheaper and bigger than Bare Minerals. I am bummed that I just bought brand-new powders, so when I run out I will be trying these instead! 

Visit the website to learn more about the products and peruse the store a bit, and when you're ready, contact Kristen. She promises to always give honest reviews of all products, because she doesn't want you to purchase blindly and not be satisfied! I plan on placing an order relatively soon- payday is next week, and I know which products I want!

Here is the good part....Kristen has decided to give away a full size Pink Grapefruit Body Polish (click for info) to one of my wonderful readers! I wish I could win this myself, but I will be good and choose one of you to win. Please comment on my Facebook post OR this blog. I need your name and why you think you should be chosen! We will choose by the end of the week and contact you to get shipping information. This should be so fun! 

Giveaway is now closed. 
Our winner is Kassie Lashua
Congrats on your new Body Polish!

  Kristen Cornelius

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Letter to My Baby Sister on Her Wedding Day

Hahna Alyce-

I am writing you this because I am hoping it can count as my Matron of Honor speech at your wedding. You know I'm a hot mess when it comes to speeches, so this is bound to be more audible and flow a whole lot more smoothly!

I am coming up on 5 years of marriage. Not a ton, but a good 20% of people get divorced within the first 5 years. And sadly, the statistics just go up from there. I (we) have worked hard on our marriage and I long to spend the rest of my life with the man I chose to marry. So, that being said, it is now your turn.

Today you enter into a covenant with Dallas and vow to become his wife, partner, lover, mother to his children, and supporter. You will promise to always wait for him, forgive him, and love him. These words sound so pretty and airy, but the reality is that they are heavy and binding! In a good way. No one else will ever know you the way that Dallas will. He was your first love, your first boyfriend, your first kiss, and now your first...everything else :). He will be the one to hold you when your heart breaks, laugh with you when you're giddy, hold your hand as you travel the world, and grow up together.

Yes, you are both very young- and I do think that it is harder to get married young and stay married. Not stupid, just harder. You are such a different person at 19 than you will be at 25. Or 30 or 40! You and Dallas will have to work harder to grow TOGETHER as you grow up, because the world may try to pull you apart as you discover your likes, dislikes, passions, irritations, etc. You will need to put your relationship in the hands of God and constantly work and trust that you can and will do this.

Don't be afraid to fight. I'd much rather fight about every little thing than ignore each other and have no passion in our marriage! And sometimes you go to bed angry. Don't freak out! Let me explain. If it's late, and you're both tired, many times the fight will go on and become irrational. It serves you both well to rest and take it on in the morning when you both feel rested and calm. Let the little things go- sometimes issues are just not big enough to worry or bother you. When these come up, simply agree to disagree and move on. These things do not have to weigh down your marriage. And don't forget to DATE EACH OTHER. This whirlwind relationship has given you little time to enjoy being together and dating! Go on dates, vacations, and invest in each other. It will not be wasted time, I guarantee you that.

This is not intended to discourage you in any way, but to ENCOURAGE you to never give up on your new husband. He is handsome, quirky, and ridiculous in his shorty-shorts. He is loving, comforting, and giving. I have seen these things just in a the past few weeks. He has every ability to seek God and direct and lead you and your family. He will be a great husband.

Hahna, I love you. I will miss your goofy phone calls, your clothes, and the way you look at my child. I know how much you love her. I will miss late-night FRIENDS and gelato. I will miss cereal at 10pm (we haven't done it in awhile, but it was great!). I will miss going shopping and getting caught outside of the "clearance" racks. I will miss dancing crazy at weddings with you (we still have one more!). I will miss you.

I am so grateful that you found someone to love so fiercely, and I know that you will thrive and flourish in your life as a military wife. And remember that THE BEST IS YET TO COME! I can attest to that just over the course of 5 years. If you think it's good now, just wait. I love you!

Congrats Mr. and Mrs. Dallas Cannon!

 "Where you go I’ll go. Where you stay I’ll stay. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God. Where you die I’ll die. And there my body will be buried. I won’t let anything except death separate you from me. If I do, may the Lord punish me greatly.”
Ruth 1: 16-17