Monday, December 5, 2016

Health & Wealth!

I started with an amazing health and wellness company June 2012, just wanting to lose weight.  I had been trying to lose by working out and eating healthy, but was having little luck.  This was getting super discouraging!

I finally reached out to a friend I had been following through her weight loss and decided to give her system a try.  I lost 7 pounds in my first 8 days!! I went on to lose a total of 36 pounds and 26 inches - going from wearing size 12/14 clothes all the way down to a 2. I've stayed there ever since.

Besides the weight loss, my energy, sleep and overall health has greatly improved!

I had to start sharing this with my friends, as I had finally found something that worked!  I truly had no desire to do another business, but I had to share what I was doing.  The referral program is amazing. They pay daily and also reward with free travel.

November 2016, the company took me and 5 other distributors to Dubai, United Arab Emirates for an amazing vacation!

It's truly about all the lives that have been changed. Such a blessing to have found something that's gotten me where I needed to be all around!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Disneyland Ideas!

We recently returned from Disneyland California and I wanted to share a few helpful hints when planning your trip to Southern California.

I checked out the latest Disneyland guide book from the library, as editions come out most every year, so better to check it out than purchasing it.  This will give you good ideas on area hotels, rides, restaurants, etc.

If you are planning on staying in the area for at least 4 or 5 days, it's a great deal to purchase the Southern California City Pass.  This contains a 3 day park hopper for Disneyland/California Adventures, 1 day at Universal Studios & 1 day at Sea World San Diego.  But.... if you purchase it through Universal Studio's website, you get an extra day at that park (especially helpful if you have older children).  The kicker is that you have to go to Universal the first day to get your tickets.  The cost for the City pass is the same as buying the 3 day park hopper at Disneyland plus 1/2 the cost of a 1 day Universal ticket.  So, if you think you're going to do 3 days at Disneyland and at least either Universal and/or Sea World too, this is the best deal.

In planning for the trip and making sure we brought all that we needed, I searched on Pinterest to find lots of ideas from different bloggers, such as the post from Food it Forward and many others.  Below are the thoughts that I have to add to those I found already on the web:

California Adventure - World of Color show: completely worth it to stay!  The best way to get an actual seat (not just a reserved area to stand) is to go to the upstairs outside bar area of Ariel's Grotto.  They stop letting people in at 7pm, so get there at least 10-15 minutes before then so you can get a table.  They have a pretty good bar menu to order from & then you have a seated reserved spot to watch the show from!  We were able to watch a Monday 8:30pm show, so we didn't have to wait too long to watch after eating.  They stopped serving food and drinks around 8pm, fyi.

Other things to pack, that I didn't see on many lists:
- a few months before the trip, I begin checking the Disney Store online for deals on t-shirts, stuffed animals and Princess dresses.  You can save soooo much money by bringing the clothes and other Disney things with you, rather than purchasing there!  Hence the $13 princess dress I brought for my daughter! 
 I don't show the kids the clothes or surprises before the trip, so it's fun, new clothes and toys when they're there.  I also gather a few Disney stuffed animals that we already have and just bring them along & put them in the kid's beds when we get there.
- What to Wear - looking back at the trips I took as a child with my family (as a family of 6, as well), I now understand WHY my mother dressed up alike!  It's easy to find everyone! Each day, we took a family picture (in case of emergency) and then, throughout the day, when looking for my kids, I at least knew which color to look for!  It also made it super easy for me when packing to ask my husband to just get out the color of shirts he needed to "fit in!" (Blue day above & red day below :-)
- for safety, I safety pinned a ribbon with both my husband & my cell phone numbers (with area code) to the back of my 3 year old's belt loop of his shorts.  I made sure each of my older children knew both of our cell numbers in case of getting separated.  There are some fancy-smancy ID tattoos you can buy and other ideas, but that requires preparing ahead of time to order!  I saw on one blog that one mom just wrote her number in permanent marker on her child's arm, so there's an option too!
- bring glow bracelets/necklaces (Dollar Store, etc) on the trip, so you won't be tempted to spend a fortune on all of the light up toys when it gets dark.
 - if you think your child might want to get some of the Disney pins/lanyards to trade, it's best to purchase the lanyards ahead of time, as well.   You can also search for some of the pins on sale online to bring with you.  This was our first time to do this & the kids enjoyed looking for what pins they wanted to trade with any Cast Member who had a stash of pins.  I did not anticipate us doing this, this year, so for our 4 kids to have a lanyard each and 2 pins, it was a whopping $125!!  So, buy ahead!!  I'm going to store them together in a safe place for future trips. 
- Frogg Toggs - Thankfully, one of my friend's mentioned getting a few of these for the trip & I am so thankful we did!  It was worth the $12 at Walmart.  The towels stayed wet and cool pretty much all day and were so refreshing as it was hot!  We were the envy of many on the hot days!

- thankfully, Disney allows you to bring in snacks and drinks!!  Take advantage of this!!  We packed snacks every day, so we only had to purchase lunch.  We were able to pack lots of protein snacks for us and the kids, to everyone stay more full and happier longer!  Thankfully, for lunch, at most of the restaurants, we were able to find low-carb, high protein yummy meal options too.  We also packed reusable water bottles.  It would be a good idea to pack the little packets for flavoring, like tea or hawaiian punch, etc, for when you get tired of just water.  I'd also recommend bringing a water bottle with a fan or sprayer - so refreshing on a hot day! (I found a few for $7 at Walmart)

Picture Taking:
Know that all Disney "cast members" (employees) have to take a picture for you with your camera or phone, if you ask them, this includes their photographers.  So, make sure and ask them to take your whole family picture (so you can actually be in a pic!).

Riding the Rides:
- yes, check the height requirements of the rides before you go, so you can plan accordingly.  But, you also need to know that even if you meet the height requirement (as a child) or if there's not even a height requirement, you have to be at least 7 years old to go on the ride by yourself.  If your child is younger than 7, but meets the height requirement, someone at least 14 years old has to ride with them. This became an issue when my husband took our older two children and I had our younger two.  My 6 year old had to ride in the same car as me, with our 3 year old, even though it was a 2 person spot. 
- if you purchase the Southern California City Pass or if you are staying at a Disneyland hotel, take advantage of the Magic Morning, when they open 1 hour early just for those visitors.  With the Southern California CityPass, you get 1 early morning entry, on specific days to Disneyland.  I highly recommend doing it, as the crowds are much less.
- If possible, travel during the school year.  Personally, we went from Thursday to a Tuesday, so our children missed 4 days of school.  But, the great positive is that we only waited 15-30 minutes at the most in a few lines.  A majority of the lines were shorter than that! 
 - We were celebrating 2 of our children's birthdays while there - one happened during our trip, the other a few days after.  But, they both got a button with their name on it when they entered & EVERYONE working at Disney would tell them Happy Birthday!  So special! (Birthday button above!)
- They really do an amazing job on their parades - don't miss them!

Planning the Rides:
The Touring Plan website is a great resource to plan your day at Disney, with many options for your visit.  I highly recommend joining for the $6.95 fee they charge to use it for a year.  We didn't follow the plan we had created to a T, but it was a great place to start.  They also have it for Disneyworld, if you are going to Florida (a little more expensive, but great to help you plan which park, which day).

Where to stay:
- if you have a family of 5 or less, you might consider staying at a Disneyland hotel (Paradise Pier, Disneyland Hotel or Grand Californian).  A few trips ago, (when we had less children), we have stayed at Paradise Pier and another time at the Disneyland Hotel.  One marvelous amenity was our son fell in the bathroom, while trying to climb and reach his swimsuit and gashed his chin open.  We called the front desk & they sent a nurse right up to our room.  She ended up determining he needed stitches, and sent us to the Los Angeles Children's Hospital (which has a great Child Life specialist that helped make the process painless).  But that was very helpful!  Both pools were pretty fun too.  But, with our family of 6, staying at a Disneyland hotel was not an option, as it was around $1,000 a night for the suite that we would require!?!?  So, check the hotels that are close by.  Personally, we stayed at the Residence Inn that was about 3/4 a mile walk to the Disneyland gate.  It had a great breakfast and an ok pool for the kids to play in and a basketball/volleyball court as well.  We brought our sit and stand stroller to tote our 3 year old, as well as all of our water bottles and snacks for the day, so the walk was very do-able.  Even getting the "penthouse suite" with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, kitchen & living room, we spent less than $300 per day for our family of 6.  There are many suite hotels to choose from close by, but when I planned this trip, 3 months before going, most of the hotels with suites were already full (even though we traveled in September!).

I am certainly thankful for Disney.  They strike to keep the parks clean and very well staffed.  I appreciate how they have the park setup, with rides and activities for multiple ages in the same area (not the same at Universal!!!).  So, I was able to ride with my 3 year old what enjoyed while my husband took our 11, 9 & 6 year old to bigger rides close by.

Our area fair is here this week and I don't think we are even going to go this year, as it will be going from an A visit at Disneyland to about a D- at the fair!!!  My kids will be wondering where the fast passes are!?!?

This is all I can think of right now!  Happy traveling to the "Happiest Place on Earth!"

Monday, June 3, 2013

Our Year in Review

 Yesterday morning while I was on my run, I began reflecting on this past 12 months and how much has happened in our lives.  We have certainly been blessed - blessed by friends, loving family, amazing children, safe travels, a successful home remodel, and so much more.

  It has been a long, long time since I've written a blogpost, as I mostly update friends and family with pictures through texting or posting on facebook.  I want to catalog this past year, and figured a blog post would be the best avenue.  I hope you enjoy this update :-)

  This year has truly been life-changing for the better.  After coming to the realization that our family is complete, I decided in February of 2012 that I wanted to get as healthy as possible, so that I can care for our children the best that I can.  I began working out and eating better.  One year ago, at the end of June, I added some natural supplements to complement my exercise and healthy eating.  I have truly been blessed by these supplements: the energy I now have, weight I have lost and friends I have made along the way.  From June to December, I lost 36 pounds and 26 inches.  I now sleep better than ever, have more energy and feel great!  I have improved my overall health and am now able to give it what it truly needs through the food and drink choices I make, as well as the natural supplements I take.  It's still exciting to look at our  before and after picture below.
   Yesterday we celebrated Jacob Thomas turning 3 years old.  He is certainly not a baby anymore.  He is a funny, easy-going, special little man!  His favorite color is orange and he loves to play with cars.  He potty trained himself a few months ago and is growing up way too fast.
 This year on Mother's Day, May 12th, I ran my first Half Marathon!  This is something I certainly never thought was in my life plan.  This coming August marks 3 years since I began running.  I am so thankful for this healthy, freeing, enjoyable activity that I have added to my life.
My precious friend, Danielle, ran the race with me.  Here we are with 7 of our 8 children!
 Abigail Honey received her First Communion on May 4th.  I have so enjoyed experiencing the excitement that she has in receiving the Eucharist every time she goes to mass.
Colby participated in PSIA competition this past February in Mathematics, Number Sense and Maps, Charts and Graphs.  He qualified for State in Number Sense and competed at TCU in April!
   April 13th I turned 35 years old.  I was able to spend the weekend in Orlando with my mom for my birthday.  It truly is hard to believe that I feel as great as I do at 35!! 
    In April, we had a first for our family - Colby fractured his thumb jumping on the trampoline and we got our first cast.  I'm thankful he was able to get it off before summer and swimming began!
    In March, I went with Colby to Honolulu, Hawaii with the boys choir he sings with.  It certainly was a special week, as it's been probably 5 years since I've been able to spend one-on-one time with him for so long!  I'm so proud and thankful that he too has the gift of music and enjoys singing.

Pearl Harbor

St. Andrew's Church
 Last July, Dan began a major remodel of our house.  We removed the walls between our living room, dining room, kitchen and office.  We then re-did those spaces, as well as added on a new office and 2nd story bedroom and bath for Colby.  Our family of 6 lived in a very small portion of our house from July to February!  We even converted Abigail's bedroom into our make-shift kitchen, complete with an oven/stove :-)  Oh, my, a little too much closeness was had, but the end result is certainly worth it.  Our basement flooded in August, so we lost our living space as well.  Thankfully, we just poured concrete to fix the flooding potential, so we will begin redoing this space soon.

  I've been the assistant music director at our church for about 10 years and this Christmas, I co-led a group of musicians from our church to Italy for a pilgrimage.  This was the 3rd Italy pilgrimage I've helped with for our music department.  We were able to take Colby, Abigail and Isaiah with us on the trip.  We saw many beautiful churches and sites as we traveled through the country side.  I am so very thankful for being able to use my gift of music at our church.  Our programs have exploded over the past many years and this past year, thanks to so many volunteers we were able to have 4 children's choirs since we had over 100 kids involved!  I also lead the youth choir and handbell choir.  Here's a link to the write up in the local paper about the trip:

Venice, Italy

Florence, Italy
 And finally, in Rome, where we were able to be in attendance at one of the last papal masses by Pope Benedict at St. Peter's Church on New Year's Day. 
St. Peter's Square, Vatican City
Christmas at home before heading to Italy.
 We celebrated Isaiah Daniel turning 6 years old December 21st.  Isaiah is an amazing little guy.  He is small in size compared to our other 3 children.  He is compassionate and loving, but at other times spirited and stubborn.  I am so excited to see what his future will bring for him.  He loves learning and spouts off facts and knowledge he has many times throughout the day.  He certainly is a blessing in our family.
 Isaiah was St. Isaiah for All Saints Day at their school.
 Dan turned 46 in November.  This was truly an amazing month for him, our family and our future.  After I began getting great results of energy and weight loss from the supplements, I knew that if I told Dan to join me, he would greatly resist my idea.  I began praying daily for him to desire to get healthy and change his life, as I had changed mine.  I asked him a few weeks before his birthday what he'd like and he quickly replied to sign him up!  I was so gratefully surprised!!!  He is now down 60 pounds, sleeps better at night, doesn't snore, is free of knee pain and overall feels better!  I am so proud of the changes he's made and how much more mindful he is of what he puts in his mouth.
November 2012
 I ran my first 10k in Austin with two of my siblings.
In September, we celebrated Colby turning 10 and Abigail turning 8.  Colby Nicholas is an exceptional first born child.  He aims to please those who work with him and never struggles in school.  He is athletic, enjoying golf and now basketball as well.  Abigail Honey is turning into a young lady.  She is a strong, (headed at times), caring (especially for Jacob), determined girl.  She is a wonderful artist and gymnast.  School is a struggle at times for her, but improvements are being seen as time goes by.
 Last August, our family was asked to be in Brigid and Chris' wedding.  It was actually the first time I've ever been a bridesmaid!  Dan sang, Colby was an altar server, Abigail was a flower girl, Isaiah was a bell ringer, and Jacob was a ring bearer.  It was a wonderful family affair and a beautiful experience, for sure!
 We celebrated our 13th anniversary last June.  It's just amazing for me to look at this picture and to think of how far we have come as a family and as a couple.  We have grown in our commitment to a healthy lifestyle and to each other.  We will be celebrating our 14th anniversary in a few short weeks.  I am excited to see what happens in our next 14 years together.  It's hard to believe our kids will then be 24, 22, 20 & 17!!

I am truly grateful for the friends and family we are surrounded by, our four beautiful children that challenge and amaze us daily, the health that we have been blessed with, our children's school that has taught them so much about truly showing God's love to others, Dan's wonderful family construction business, my job serving others with music at church, our whole family's love of music, our church, and the list goes on.

I feel our future is much brighter with the healthier lifestyle we are now leading - able to better care for our children, ourselves, our marriage, serve others, and our families.
March 2013

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day! Thanks to the inspiration of Pintrest, I went a little crazy making Valentines this year. Normally, I just buy premade ones with candy from Walmart and call it good. But, this year, after seeing all of the neat things and so many free printables on Pintrest, I decided to make different ones for each of my children.

I made the one at the beginning of this post for our family and Pintrest linked back to this website with the idea.

After seeing this precious idea for a Valentine's, Colby volunteered to do a photo shoot with my handmade mustache.
He had fun playing around!
Here's the finished product that I ordered from one of my favorite sites to get photo books, calendars, cards, etc.
Well.... after I received them, Colby expanded on his idea that they could ONLY be for our family and not his friends, as it would be embaressing! Well, darn... so I do have an extra 20 of these! But, anyway, fine, we prepared them for our family and I looked for another cute idea that would be appropriate to give his 9-year-old friends. I found this precious idea of covering a Sweet tart Heart Candy box with an iphone printable.
On to Abigail, who was certainly the most in to crafting with me :-) Here's her finished product that I found on this site. It has a precious little poem on it too.
Creating these handprint cards sounded like an easy task, but then realizing she needed 17 for her class & 15 for our family, it took a while to get them all done! She was a little sensitive to the smell of the paint, hence the bandana!
I made a few different ones for Isaiah also. The one below went to our family in town, and I found the printable topper here.
His other Valentine was certainly the one that took the longest of all I made this year to make. But, they turned out pretty cute - Superhero Suckers! The printables I found here.
Finally, for Jacob I saw this cute idea & made my own simple baggie topper.
This precious idea caught my eye and I had Colby, Abigail & Isaiah each make a few of these Mail-a-Hugs to send to our out-of-town family.
Colby purchased each of these wax lips for his siblings last week at his school's student council Valentine's shop. So fun! I remember getting these when I was a kid.
One last pose with little Jacob!
So, after 3 weekends of making Valentine's we were able to mail them to out-of-town family and give them to in-town family and all of the kid's classmates and teachers!

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.