Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sponsor Feature:!

Hi guys!! I'm here today to talk about an amazing online company called Some of you may have already heard about them, but maybe don't know just how amazing they are, and some of you may not have known of them so I am so excited to tell you guys about them and hopefully make your registration events and holiday or birthday 'wish lists' a lot easier!
We actually used for Blair's Baby Sprinkle and truly truly loved this site, it is super user-friendly and provided everything I never even knew I needed in a registry. They are essentially an online registry that you can use for any occasion, and through which you can pull items from the web or from any store in the world, and keep everything all in one place. In this day and age, many of us live far away from our friends and relatives, but regardless of proximity, everyone does much of their shopping online, and makes it super easy to share with others, and convenient for gift givers to just click a few clicks on their computer or smart phone instead of having to venture into a store and spend tons of time trying to figure out which exact item(s) are actually on your registry to purchase, and additionally deal with the driving, parking, and lines, oh my!
I also love the fact that you can pull items from as many different stores or online sites as you want. They have some other wonderful features, such as the option to add gift cards to your registry or wish list, as well as give you the ability to see popular items in specific categories of need, the ability to view your registry as a guest, send e-thank you notes, as well as add in a picture of yourself or your children with a personalized message to gift-givers.
As Christmas (ahem, Thanksgiving) is approaching, I'm already getting questions from generous relatives about what my kids want. And it's confusing and hard to remember exactly which Transformer Landon wants, or exactly what types of things Blair is into, or exactly what types of things we would like to have for her. So using for a holiday wish list to share with family and friends is such a great tool. The kids get everything on their list, we don't end up with gifts we don't like or won't use, and people can see as things get purchased and crossed off their lists. I actually just started a separate wish list for myself for things we need for the house because I enjoy this site so much. Since our big move in February, we have this ever-growing list of items we need and want for the house. I'm not publicly sharing my home wish list, but using it more as a checklist for items I need and want, which keeps me in check for when I do go out, because it prevents me from wasting money on things we don't actually need, and also helps me know a good deal when I see one on an item I've had on my list. But most of all, its nice when we have a good month with work and low expenses to just click click click and check off ;)
So for those of you who are preparing for a shower, wedding, or just to keep your own personal electronic 'wish list' for yourself or your kids, please go check out, and thank me later :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

2 Years.

My dearest Blair Bear,

Today you turned 2 years old. It has been two whole years since they placed you on my chest, after 9 months of forming you in my belly, and 9 full hours of labor. The instant I held you and looked at you for the first time, I was in awe. Awe of the miracle of life. That I was chosen to participate in this miracle that I know only God could create.
You may not know this, but you were my rainbow baby. I suffered two miscarriages after Landon and your father and I were devastated for many months. Before the day you were born -- before that moment I held you in my arms, I lived in constant fear that something might happen to you. I did not take one single healthy doctor's visit for granted. Your unborn siblings taught me the fragility of life. The sanctity of it. And allowed me to fully appreciate -- to fully be in awe of your beautiful, miraculous new life. After a long, sad storm -- you were my beautiful, bright rainbow that came from it.
You were my rainbow baby because you came after a miscarriage -- but the past two years you have been my rainbow baby for other reasons as well.
Because you were my second, I thought I knew already what I was getting into, but that might have been the biggest lie I told myself.
You were nothing of what I expected or knew of before, and I felt in many regards a first time mom again learning the ropes as I went. Before you, I always heard other women describe this fantom 'bond' they experienced when breastfeeding that I was never privileged to understand with Landon. But we got to experience it together. And it truly was an indescribable feeling and relationship that we shared. Even though I faced so many challenges I never knew of before, I look back on those 18 months with a deeply nostalgic heart that only another nursing mother would understand.
From the beginning, you couldn't stand to be apart from me and cried and cried and cried and cried unless you were nuzzled in my arms, against my chest, or nursing. Your temperament naturally led to co-sleeping, and you and I co-slept together every night together for 16 months. You nursed every 2 hours through the nights, and although beyond sleep deprived for 16 months long, I experienced a different type of closeness with you that I never experienced before.
But to be honest, I mostly look back on the past two years since you came and let out a deep exhale, because somehow, we actually survived them. They weren't easy. They tested me to a whole new level of patience with having you so attached and simultaneously staying home with and parenting a toddler. It was hard having my parents thousands of miles away and it was hard not having a mother in law around at all. The past two years were hard staying at home. The past two years made me question if I was cut out to have any more kids. The past two years tested my marriage and they drove me crazy with the sibling screaming and fighting. They broke me down into many spouts of tears over lack of sleep, hormone changes, feeling overwhelmed, and generally just not having the time or energy to do anything else, for anyone else or myself.
But in as much as hard as the past two years were, my life truly grew from them, more so than any other 2 year time frame of my life. Every difficulty I faced I discovered was an opportunity to walk deeper into truth, deeper into life, deeper into my marriage, deeper into relationships with new friends, and most importantly, deeper into my relationship with Christ. There is a different level of maturity I think that mothers of more than one child go through, and I thank you for it.
I am reminded by you in every moment that God has already written my story, and even in the hard times, He is right there with me. It was only after experiencing challenging times that I able to recognize true goodness when it came. The quiet nights rocking you to sleep in my arms, your first smiles up at my face, seeing you and your brother play and talk and stick up for one another and love each other. In all these ways you continue to be my living rainbow - you remind me of the truth, you remind me of the beauty and depth to life that can only truly be seen and felt after difficulties. I always hear every mother I know pray (and curse) to one of their children, that they end up having a child just like them. That is definitely only my prayer for you. I pray you are blessed with a child as beautiful, as smart, as sweet, as playful, as fun-loving, as strong-willed, and as bright as you. I pray that someday you get to experience this side of the relationship and know that at one time I was on your end of it with you. And in your teenage years, when maybe you and I aren't as close as we once were, I hope you know that I cried so hard when you were born, and I held you against my chest and I thanked Jesus over and over and over again for giving you to me.
I love you forever, no matter how much you test and challenge me.

Love always,
mumma bear.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Tried to go as Game of Thrones characters this year. It pretty much failed but we had so much fun trying to pull it off and a really fun Halloween none the less.
First year I ever did face paint and had so much fun with it! I was a Nightwalker .. Should have gotten some light blue contacts for the full effect but the living all took me for your basic zombie anyway 
Princess Khaleesi: The Unburnt, Breaker of Chains, & Mother of Dragons
Landon the fearsome dragon
Chris was supposed to go as John Snow, which he turned into a last minute Lord Rob Stark, who no one really knows even if they watch the show. (But I think he looks pretty good with dark hair!)

I didn't take many photos this year, can view our pics from last year here. Hope you all had a wonderful Halloween & Happy November!!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Bits of Life Lately

A gorgeous 80 degree October day spent downtown at the Lincoln Park Zoo
Introducing the kids to college football at our old stomping grounds, Valparaiso University
Pile ups on their favorite uncle
Eeep....growing up �� Having friends over sans moms #soold
Christmas lights + yoga ����
Festive (healthy for once) treats
One of the most memorable experiences of my life... Celebrating the 40th anniversary of my church at the United Center last weekend can watch it here
Bonfire nights

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Advanced BioBanking with LifeBankUSA!

I blogged about cord blood banking with LifeBankUSA after Blair was born and am happy to share more today about their Advanced Biobanking service.

Advanced Biobanking includes Placental Blood Banking, Complete Placenta Banking, Cord Vessel Banking, and Cord Platelet Rich Plasma Banking. Because “placental blood contains various types of progenitor stem cells that play a role in stimulating the body’s own repair mechanisms to heal previously damaged tissues or organs,” scientists are exploring the use of progenitor stem cells in many diseases including cerebral palsy, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and spinal cord injury. Banking the entire placenta offers potential for new treatments in immune disorders, wound healing, and organ transplant and growth. Banking the arteries in the umbilical cord has potential for new surgical applications in treating heart disease. “Both adult and umbilical cord platelet rich-plasma contain cytokines and growth factors that may be useful for the repair of eye injuries, wounds, tissue tears and fractures.” Adult platelet rich-plasma has been used in treating athletes with orthopedic injuries and umbilical cord-platelet rich plasma is potentially more potent and enriched source of growth factors than adult platelet-rich plasma. On top of cord blood banking, Advanced Biobanking adds the potential to treat so many more diseases, illnesses, and injuries.
LifebankUSA is the only cord blood bank that also offers placenta blood banking and tissue banking. As I hear more and more stories about young children being diagnosed with life-threatening diseases, it gives me hope that cord blood banking as well as Advanced Biobanking can help these children and others in the future.

I absolutely loved working with LifeBank to donate Blair's cord blood last year. LifeBankUSA is the only company that offers cord blood, placenta blood, and tissue banking, and they are also the first to release placenta-derived stem cells for a successful transplant. They were absolutely wonderful to work with and they will collect cells from anywhere in the US. Another reason to bank with LifeBankUSA -- They include tissue banking (tissue from the placenta) for free. Placental tissue contains mesenchymal (MSCs) and MSC-like cells. While stem cells found in cord blood and placenta blood have been used to successfully treat patients, there are currently no approved uses for stem cells derived from the umbilical cord or placenta tissue. Possible therapeutic applications are in early research stages and LifeBankUSA's parent company is actively involved in their development. LifeBankUSA will store the placenta tissue for you as part of their banking package using their cryogenic tanks for long-term preservation. In the event your baby's tissue cells are ever needed for future therapies, the tissue may then be processed and cultured using available technology at the time. Banking with LifeBankUSA will definitely give you peace of mind, knowing that this stem cell-rich blood can be used to treat certain diseases in the future.
I really hope if you are pregnant you give cord blood banking some serious thought! And definitely keep in mind all of these added benefits that are unique to LifeBankUSA. I know when you are pregnant, you have about 1,000 things on your mind every minute, but going through LifeBankUSA for your baby's cord blood and placental banking will help give you greater peace of mind, I promise :)

Pumpkin Patchin'

Went to Dave's Pumpkin Patch and Stade's Farm and Market this month and had such a blast at both! Stade's was definitely much larger with a lot more to do, and Dave's was much smaller scale but very cheap and stresless. More pictures of Dave's last October here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sponsor Highlight: R.W. Knudsen Family

Posting today on my favorite juice company, R.W. Knudsen Family. All of their juices come from their organic grape vineyard, and all are exclusively fruit-juice sweetened, completely free of any artificial flavors and preservatives. The R.W. Knudsen Family offers over 100 types of equally amazing, natural, organic fruit and vegetable juices, elegant celebratory beverages, bubbly Spritzers, and natural sports drinks, and you can find them now at local grocery stores and Target. Of course my favorite right now is their Cider & Spice juice. It takes all the hassle out of preparing a festive drink, and gives you peace of mind that you and your kids and guests are drinking something natural and healthy and not full of extra sugars or preservatives. My whole family loves this juice and it tastes just as delicious hot as it does cold! It is made with 100% juice from ripe, whole apples, and naturally flavored with allspice, cinnamon, cloves, lemon peel and orange peel, and is truly the perfect fall drink.
I love serving this warm, all you do is heat up R.W. Knudsen Family Cider & Spice juice in a large saucepan or crock pot for 5 to 10 minutes until the cider is hot, but not boiling. Remove from heat and ladle into large mugs, adding a fresh cinnamon stick to each serving for a festive twist.
I also think this juice is such a great additive to a 'thank you' or 'new home' gift basket. You could fill a festive basket with some cinnamon sticks, a cute mug, a fall-scented candle and a bottle of R.W. Knudsen Family® Cider & Spice juice to make the perfect, thoughtful gift to say ‘thank you’ to party hosts and hostesses this time of year, or to welcome friends into their cozy new home.
Hope you all go out and get some of this amazing Cider & Spice juice today! Happy Fall :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The End of September

A few leftover pictures from last month:
Fall decorating has commenced at Chateaux Bauman
My little fish. He loves swimming lessons so much that we're continuing year round.. Already back floatin' & doggie paddlin'!
& my little Picasso at 'Messy Monet' library class... Seeing art classes in her future 
My homegrown eggplants .. So good!
Her kisses come pretty cheap
Mornin' walks to the stop. I swear the sky is always prettier here ☁️
Kindergarten life
Always sad to see him go

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