Monday, March 31, 2014

Bump Update: Week 12

First, can I just say that pregnancy is not at all what I expected.  I'm not sure what my expectations looked like, but no matter how much you think you know, you just don't.  Some things are better than I imagined and other things I just wasn't prepared for.  But, in the end, it is all worth it.  :)
One thing is for sure - I'm not as sick as I had always imagined.  In those first few weeks after finding out we were expecting, it concerned me.  I thought if I wasn't puking every moment of the day then something wasn't right.  Now I'm just thankful that my gag reflex doesn't kick in at every meal and that puking has kept itself to a minimum.
Apparently being congested is a pregnancy thing!?!  No one tells you that!  haha.  But now I did.  So if you haven't gotten to experience this yet - good luck.  Not only are you nauseous and exhausted - but you won't be able to breath either!  ;)
And your brain just doesn't work.  Yes, I've heard of pregnancy brain.  But, I thought that kicked in after your first trimester.  And it also has affected me in ways I couldn't foresee.  It isn't so much that I forget things (though I do) - I just can't seem to function the way I should.  My thoughts don't work together well, my body doesn't always listen to what my brain is telling it to do, and I am very easily overwhelmed and frustrated.  
Anyways, now for my weekly questionnaire and bump picture:

Definitely not my favorite photos but if you look really close, you can see my tiny little baby bump!  :)  I tried doing a comparison with my 6 week pic but I think with the factor of my weight loss, they both look about the same.  :(

This week, baby is the size of a: Large plum.  Last week it was a lime.  That was more fun.  ;)
Next appointment: Tomorrow!!  After the hassle of my last appointment (directly after my ER visit), we finally got into the new OB practice and my first appointment is tomorrow!  After a bad experience, we are going to toture the poor doctor with questions.  lol.
Total Weight Gain/Loss: I've lost 7 pounds!  For the first time in my life, (well, actually the 2nd, but that story is for another day), I want to gain weight and I just can't!  I haven't been horribly sick but my appetite is lacking and I do have a hard time finishing meals on occasion.  However, thyroid issues run in the family, so we are making sure to ask the doc what he thinks tomorrow. 
Exercise: Ha!  What is that??  I've really got to get into a routine.  But I am pretty active at work and around the house - and even that much is difficult right now.  Hopefully with nicer weather it will be a bit easier...
Maternity Clothes: Not yet.  I purchased a swim suit on Zulily because it was super cute and on sale.  But I won't need it for awhile... Jeans are a bit uncomfy but they still fit just fine.
Sleep: Depends on the day.  But the past few days have meant a couple of solid hours and then tossing and turning because I can't get comfortable.  And I don't even have much of a belly yet!?!  
Food cravings/aversions: Haven't really had any cravings.  And aversions - well, that just depends on the day.
Movement: Every time anything happens in my abdomen I wonder if our Little Sprout is doing somersaults but I don't think I've felt anything yet...still too early.
What I miss: My It Works! Greens - they give me energy and help my stomach feel better - both of which I really need right now.  But there is one ingredient that could cause contractions and that isn't something I want to risk right now.  And I miss sushi.  A lot.
What I'm loving: My belly seems a little bigger every day!  Its neat to actually have a little bit of a bump.  It makes it all feel a little bit more real.
What I'm looking forward to: Our first official ultrasound.  I've only had one done in the ER.  Hubby wasn't allowed to be with me and I wasn't allowed to see the screen.  I heard the heartbeat for about 5 seconds, but that was it.  I'm so anxious to see our Sprout!  And for Hubby to experience it with me.  Hoping we can get this scheduled at our appointment tomorrow.
Best moment this week: Showing off my barely-there bump!  :)
Milestones: Not to sound bump!
Goals: Hmmmm.  I'm guessing a lot of my goals during this pregnancy are going to be house related since we want to have quite a bit done before Sprout decides to join us.  So, that being said, I want to get the floor in the bathroom sanded this week so that Hubby can seal it next weekend!  And I should probably try to gain some weight...

Friday, March 28, 2014


Growing up we had two horses.  Regretfully, I never learned how to ride well.  I was too scared of them to get very close when I was younger.  But I loved to watch them.  They were majestic and beautiful.  And I loved listening to my parents tell me stories of when they worked at a stable (I vaguely remember some of those days but I was really young then).  Dad would talk about the personality of the horses and how ornery they could be but also how sweet and gentle they could be.  Or he would tell stories about breaking* horses - some were easy and some were not so easy.  *(See note at bottom of post)

The idea of "breaking" a horse has stuck with me all these years.  And as I studied the Word over the past few days, I was reminded again of that imagery.  You see, a horse has to be broken because they are naturally wild.  They are unable to follow your lead or be taken care of properly if they keep resorting back to those wild tendencies.  Once broken, the horse is better able to follow the trainers lead and the trainer is better able to take care of the horse.

Psalm 51:16-17
16 16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
17 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

God requires that we have a broken spirit and a broken heart when we come before Him.  This doesn't mean 'broken' in the sense that you are sad or depressed, but broken in the sense that you are able to listen and respond to what He has to say.  Much like the trainer has to break the horse, our Father has to break our spirit.  We are naturally sinful.  We are unable to follow His lead or be taken care of properly if we keep resorting back to those sinful tendencies.  Once our spirit is broken, we are able to follow His lead and He is better able to take care of us.

A little over a year ago, I was at a get together with some old high school friends, most of which do not exactly follow my lifestyle.  The subject of drinking came up, as it usually does.  While I'm not opposed to drinking on occasion (wine is one of the few things that will instantly bring relief to my stomach condition) - I do believe that getting drunk is a sin.  The Bible states that pretty plainly.   Someone asked me what I thought about getting 'tipsy', or 'buzzed'.  I thought for a moment and replied with, "I'm not sure that it's okay because it alters the state of your mind."  The reply came, "Well it just brings out who you really are, so isn't that a good thing?  Shouldn't we always be our true selves?"  

At that point I didn't have a reply - all of my theology courses and ministry schooling left my brain apparently.  But on that drive home, and sometimes to this day, that question haunts me because I know the answer.  We are all inherently sinful.  Because of the fall of man, sin is a part of us, which is why we have to choose every day to pick up our cross for Christ and choose Him over self.  So when you become tipsy or drunk, chances are that the inherent sin, present in all of us, is going to surface.  Yes, our true self will show, but that isn't who we are in Christ.  And that is not a good thing.

The point here is not about drinking, the point is that we need to be broken.  Because, if we aren't, that inherent sin will rear its ugly head.  And it never ends well once it shows.

You see, "It is a work wrought upon the heart; that is it that God looks at and requires...It is a heart breaking with itself, and breaking from its sin; it is a heart pliable to the Word of God, and patient under the rod of God, a heart subdued and brought into obedience: it is a heart that is tender...and trembles at God's word.  Oh that there was such a heart in us!" (Matthew Henry).  

Have you run across a person like that?  A person with that sort of heart?  They are different.  In a beautiful way.  Their heart shows through in every part of their life.  They are broken.  Not sad or depressed.  But broken so that God can live in them and through them.  What walls does God need to break in your life?  Is there a sin you don't want to give up?  Or fear of not being good enough?  Or maybe there is a wall built from the guilt of your past (or present)?  No matter what the wall or how big - God can still break through.  You just have to let Him.

When David wrote this Psalm, he was suffering from a severe case of guilt.  He had committed adultery and then killed a man to try and cover up his sin.  Adultery, murder, deceit - he had every right to feel guilty.  

In fact, his words preceding vs. 16 and 17 are as follows:

Psalm 51:14-15
14 Delivery me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation;
Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
That my mouth may declare Your praise.

He desperately craved the Lord's forgiveness, wanted to openly sing His praises again without the feeling of guilt or inadequacy.  And he knew the power of our Lord - he knew the Lord was capable of forgiving even him.  And he also knew what the Lord required - not an animal sacrifice, as was routine in David's day, but, rather, a broken spirit and contrite heart.  

Psalm 51:16-17
16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

What is holding you back from allowing the Lord to break down the walls around your heart?  What will it take for you to let Him break your spirit?  To allow Him to use you?

Allow your heart to:

  • Break with itself and from its sin
  • Be pliable to the Word of God
  • Be patient under the rod of God
  • Be subdued and brought into obedience
  • Be tender
  • Tremble at the word of God

Then and only then will you be broken and able to follow the Lord completely.  Then and only then will He be able to use you for the purpose He intended.  David was a murderer, an adulterer, a deceiver – God still forgave him, broke his spirit, and used him!  If God can do this with David, can He not do so with you?

*When I speak of 'breaking' a horse - I simply mean training.  However - using the term 'training' didn't work for my illustration purposes.  My dad was never cruel towards any of the horses he dealt with.  :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Giveaway: Opulent Monsters Pattern and Fabric Kits (OVER)

Sponsored By: Opulent Monsters
Hosted By: Mami's 3 Little Monkeys

Bri here with Learning to Be 31 - I'm super excited about this giveaway because I've often thought of making my own cloth diapers.  I haven't attempted to yet but my sewing machine is just sitting in the other room.  ;)  And now, I've discovered Opulent Monsters, which would make things 10 times easier!

Opulent Monsters was created while Crystal was pregnant with her third child. She was on the journey of looking into cloth diapering and decided to make them her self as she has been sewing for over 20 years. She quickly fell in love with the cloth diaper community and became obsessed with the cuteness of all the cloth diapers out there. She made and awesome all-in-one design and loved it, OMMO was made by Crystal out of her pure love for cloth diapering and the necessities for something easy to use while chasing around her other two children. She has been drafting patterns since the 90's and loves to pass on her knowledge and tricks to others who would like to learn. Crystal now has four children.

Sarh at Mami's 3 Little Monkeys has made three pairs of Monster Bunz. You can read her full review here.

Two very lucky winners will be able to chose their own sewing pattern of choice from Opulent Monsters as well as three (3) sewing kits per winner! For the fabric kit, the winners will be allowed to choose which size of Monster Bunz they would like to make with the kit and for which gender(s) they would like their kits for. This giveaway is open Worldwide (void where prohibited), but please note that winners outside of the US will be responsible for shipping fees. Canadian entrants MUST complete the mandatory skills test. This giveaway will end on April 7th at 11:59pm CST. Two winners will be chosen at random via the entry form, winning entries will be verified and the winners will be notified via email. Winners will have 48 hours in which to respond to these emails or a new winner(s) will be chosen. 
Good Luck! 

Disclosure: Learning to Be 31 and all other participating bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment of these prizes. Prizes will be shipped by Opulent Monster, any winner(s) outside of the USA will be responsible for paying their own shipping. If you have any questions please contact Sarh at

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Baby Talk: When You Don't Feel Comfortable with Your OB GYN

Now, first things first, I'm not an overly difficult person.  But I've discovered that when it comes to my baby, I'm not going to mess around.  This post is probably more of a rant.  But it does have a point.  I promise.

Hubby met me for my appointment yesterday, which turned out to be a really good thing.  I peed in a cup, they checked my weight, checked my blood pressure, and the nurse asked me a bunch of questions.

Then we sat in the room for what felt like forever.  At this point, even though I'd already had my first appointment, I still hadn't met the doctor, who is actually just a nurse practitioner.  Which I, personally, don't have a problem with.    

You see, I don't have insurance.  But I am a part of a Christian Co-Op that I love.  Technically speaking, that makes me a self-pay patient even though most, if not all, of my costs will be covered.  Well, this lady was the only one who would accept self-pay patients in the little city where Hubby and I work - which means convenience.  And I had a good feeling because she was the only woman anyways - and for some reason I just feel better about having a female OB.  ;)

Well, it turns out that it wasn't the best choice.  My appointment lasted about 10 minutes though we were there for an hour.  And I really didn't feel much better.  But for some reason it didn't bother me much.  I do remember as I was headed to the hospital for blood-work that I thought I should talk to Hubby about how he felt about the appointment.  That should have been a red flag for me...

Well, turns out that I didn't have to bring it up, because Hubby was livid.  He felt like the appointment was a complete waste of time.  And mentioned a few other things when he called me as he was leaving work...  Looking back, I see much more of what he did.  I guess I just chose to ignore it since I thought she was our only option.

She thought it was my first appointment (which means she didn't look at the chart very well).  And she didn't shake my hand or really do anything to introduce herself.  Which isn't a huge deal, but it still bothered me.  She walked in and said, "well, do you have any questions?"  At first I wasn't really sure what she meant since we hadn't talked about anything.  But then I realized that was pretty much all she intended to do - no listening for a heartbeat, no exam...  I finally mentioned that we were looking for answers.  She told me what the ER doctor told me.  Period.  So I mentioned that I thought it could be low progesterone.  Hubby was mad that I was the one that had to bring this up.  She did say we could have them checked.  Then she told me I needed to be on bed rest.  "For how long?"  She shrugged.  I finally got a more definitive answer after fishing for a bit.  That was the end of the appointment.  I didn't feel heard.  Or that she was concerned for my feelings at all.  While I know my issues can be "normal," I also know they can be a sign of something bigger...and I wanted to be sure that Baby 1.0 was okay.

After a lot of discussion last night and this morning, we decided it was best to seek out a new OB GYN, one that was actually an OB so I would constantly be dealing with a doctor.  It was a hard decision to make.  Because even though the hospital and doctor's office would be closer to home - it would make it more difficult for Hubby to be at appointments and ultrasounds since it was the opposite direction of work.  But, I know people who have been to these doctor's and I feel much better already having made the decision.

So this is where it gets really good.  I called this morning (9:30ish) to see if my blood-work was in (the lab tech said it would be in no later than end of day yesterday).  It wasn't.  So I asked them to fax my information to my new doctor.  They need me to sign a waiver - which is difficult since the office is over a half an hour away and I'm on bed rest.  So I asked them to fax it to the church knowing that Dad (also my pastor) was coming over later in the afternoon.

He came over around 4 and asked about my blood-work.  Turns out he hadn't gotten the fax.  So I called again.  This is the conversation:

Me: This is Brianna Sherman - did my blood work come in?
Nurse: No I don't think so.
Me: The lab tech told me they should have been in at end of day yesterday.
Nurse: Let me go check.

----Long Wait----  Talked to Dad about some church stuff....

Doctor (aka Nurse Practitioner): What was it that you were needing Brianna (pronounced wrong)?
Me: I was wondering if my blood-work was in? 
Doctor: Yes, its here.  Your progesterone levels are fine.
Me: Okay and...
Doctor: (interrupting) Are you transferring?
Me: Yes
Doctor: Where?
Me: Name of Practice
Doctor: Okay, I'll send these over there.
Me: But I haven't signed the waiver they were supposed to fax.  Was it sent?
Doctor: Yes, they were having trouble getting the fax to go through.
Me: Then why didn't anyone call me?
Doctor: What do you mean?
Me: If the fax didn't go through, why didn't anyone call me to let me know?
Doctor: We have no way of knowing if a fax goes through or not.
Me: Isn't that what you just told me happened?
Doctor: They told me your husband was coming to pick your information up.
Me: I was told he wasn't allowed.
Doctor: Is he on your forms?
Me: I think so.
Doctor: It's HIPPA.
Me: Yes, I know what HIPPA is.  I worked in a hospital for awhile.  Yes, if you are talking about the HIPPA forms, I did list him on that paperwork.  So can he come pick that up?
Doctor: Well I don't know if he is on the paperwork.
Me: He is.  What time do you close? He can come tonight.
Doctor: We won't have time to gather everything up.
Me: Alright, well I'm going to call and have them fax it again tomorrow.  What were my HCG levels?
Doctor: Your progesterone levels are fine.
Me: And my HCG levels were...
Doctor: Fine.
Me: What was the number?
Doctor: Oh, 77,000.

That conversation was all I needed to know we made the right decision.  There is also the fact that I really don't know what my due date is or exactly how many weeks along I am.  They can't use my last cycle because I'm super irregular.  But even with an ultrasound - no one has thought to discuss this with me.  So I just base it off of the fertility app I used before we got pregnant.  We really needed someone who would make us feel more at ease and less like an intrusion.

With all of this being said, I think it is essential to feel comfortable with your doctor, especially one who will be dealing with your pregnancy and delivery.  If you aren't comfortable, make a change.  You have that right.  And I'm glad one or two people made sure I knew that going into this.  Which is why I'm telling you.  While the situation isn't as ideal as we had hoped, with Hubby's work being about an hour away from the hospital and office, we feel much better knowing that Baby 1.0's incubating period will be in better hands.  
Have you ever switched doctors because you were uncomfortable?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Giveaway: $50 Beyond the Seam Gift Card (OVER)

Welcome to the Beyond the Seam Giveaway!

Sponsored By: Beyond the Seam 

One lucky reader will win a $50 GC to Beyond the Seam! 

Bri from Learning to Be 31 here - when I heard about this giveaway, I had never heard of Beyond the Seam.  So I went directly to the Etsy shop and I was SO impressed!  There is a such a great selection of items.  I will definitely keep this in mind for when my little olive is born!

Beyond the Seam creates handmade bright and colorful magnetic fabric alphabet and math sets as well as a number of other fun toys for children of all ages! Read Mami's 3 Little Monkeys full review

Discount Code
Use code 3LITTLEMONKEYS to receive FREE SHIPPING on your order from Beyond the Seam

Simply complete entries through the Giveaway Tools entry form below for your chance to win, the more entries you complete, the better your odds of winning will be. Giveaway is open Worldwide (void where prohibited) to those whom are at least 18 years of age and it will end on April 1st at 11:59pm CST. One winner will be chosen at random through the Giveaway Tools entry form, winners entries will be verified and winner will be notified via email. Winner will have 48 hours in which to respond or a new winner will be chosen. 
Good Luck!

Disclosure: Learning to Be 31 and all other participating bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment of the prize, nor have they been compensated for this publication. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Sarh at

Monday, March 17, 2014

Giveaway: Compilation of What I've Found

If you haven't noticed, I am a bit addicted to blog giveaways.  Right now, I'm daily entering close to 50!  A long time ago, shortly after we started trying for a baby, I decided that I wanted to cloth diaper.  Even though it is far cheaper than disposables in the long run, the start up isn't all that cheap.  That's when I stumbled across cloth diaper giveaways.  Which opened up a world full of so many other things.  If you have the time, it is SO worth it.  To date I have won:

*9-10 cloth diapers (don't feel like getting up to count them.  lol.)
*Diaper Sprayer
*Diaper Dawgs
*Pair of Glasses from Firmoo (we did NOT receive these because the company made it too difficult. I do NOT, under any circumstances recommend this company).
*Baby K'tan
*Comfy Joey Water Carrier
*Hot Sling
*Used Boba Wrap
*A Carrier from Australia (can't remember the brand and I gave this one to a friend)
*$50 Paypal Cash
*Baby Bullet
*Bamboo Sheets from Cariloha
*H&R Block Tax Prep

I'm sure I'm missing something...but that's a pretty rough guess of everything at this point.  Sounds worth it doesn't it?  I have a system I use to enter that I may share via blog post eventually but I'm not sure I'm ready to be that transparent yet.  It will show you how truly insane I am.  ;)

Anyways...  Today I thought I would put together a list of some of the bigger giveaways going on right now so that you can join me in my addiction!  :D  

Just click the link below the picture to enter.  Have fun!

Lalabu Soothe Shirt (Ends 3/31)


Have you ever won anything in a giveaway?  Share in the comments below.  :)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Baby Talk: Why We Didn't Wait the Typical 12 Weeks

Just to clarify - every person is different and needs to make their own decisions.  This is just our personal decision and we would not judge anyone for deciding differently then we have.  This is simply a story of how we arrived at our decision. 

When we found out we were pregnant, it was one of the most joyous moments of our lives.  And probably one of the most overwhelming.  In that moment, everything changed.  Even though we have been trying for a baby for almost a year...the reality that it was happening hit us full force - the good and the bad.  But mostly, we realized we had about a million and a half decisions to make in the next 9 months.

One of the decisions we had to make was when we would tell everyone.  I knew I couldn't keep a secret for long (which might be one of the reasons we decided not to).  You see, I have the worst poker face.  And since we've been married 3 years and we just got a new house, the world wants to know when we're having a baby - and so they ask, any chance they get!  ha!  I cannot tell a lie.  Quite literally. I really think it's God's way of dealing with the fact that I lied quite a bit when I was a child...but that's a story for another time.  ;)

But everyone knows you aren't supposed to tell most people until the 3 month mark aka 12 weeks aka the 2nd trimester.  And why?  Because the chance for miscarriage decreases significantly - from about a 10% chance to a 3% chance.  So, in other words, you don't tell anyone so that in case something bad happens, no one knows...  

Why have we (society) decided that's a good thing?  Once Hubby and I realized this, it just didn't make any sense.  If something were to go wrong, it isn't wise to carry that all on your own.  And, this may sound harsh, but if we aren't telling people to spare their feelings, to spare them the awkwardness of what to say or what to do in the event of a tragedy - then people need to grow up and learn how to deal with it.  Tragedy happens.  Why is it that miscarriages have become something we are supposed to hide?  Don't share some of the most exciting news of your life because well, it might not turn out how you hoped, and you should just deal with that loss all on your own.  We don't do that in any other area of our lives.  So why this one?  For instance, if a relative dies or if a child dies - we don't just pretend it didn't happen and keep it all inside.

Maybe, just maybe, this is all because society wants us to think that precious little gift isn't a life yet.  That until it is a "viable" pregnancy, it doesn't matter.  But that's just a hunch.  In reality, it is probably just because tough stuff like death and miscarriages (which in my book is the same as a death) make us uncomfortable. 

But, regardless, we decided that this news was too good to not share!  And if anything were to go wrong, we would want the support and love of our friends and family to surround us.  We did wait until about 9 weeks...just because we had different people we wanted to tell before the general public knew..and that took a little bit of time.  After this weekend, which was quite a roller-coaster, we are so very glad we made this choice.  

Last Wednesday I started spotting (for the 2nd time) (I apologize if this is too much information...but I promise it doesn't get more graphic than that).  Nothing too bad, but worse than before, so I waited to call the doctor until the next morning.  They told me to rest with my feet elevated until the spotting stopped and then for an additional 12-24 hours.  If the spotting got worse or if I had cramping with additional spotting, I was to go to the ER.  Friday, I went almost the entire day without incident.  But late that night I started getting really bad cramps.  But I wasn't spotting.  Until Saturday morning.  And then it was worse than it had ever been.  However according to everything online and what the doctor said, the ER wasn't necessary yet.  But I just didn't feel right.  

Thankfully, the Health Co-Op I am a part of had a complementary Teledoctor service 24/7.  I called within a half an hour of being out of bed and talked to an actual doctor within 15 minutes.  After explaining my situation, and adding that I hadn't had morning sickness since my spotting started, he told me to go to the ER.  With spotting and any change of symptoms, he said it was always important to make sure the "fetus" was okay.  In that moment I realized we hadn't gone already because I didn't want to hear bad news.  If I didn't go...the bad wasn't real.  I hung up the phone, told Hubby we needed to leave, and instantly burst into tears - "I don't want to go."  But I slowly changed out of my pajamas and gathered up what we needed.  I also managed to call my parents and have them put it across the church prayer chain.

After we got in the car, I was reminded of what I had read out of my Bible the night before, Philippians 4:6-7 - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  From that point on, I had what I told Hubby was an "odd peace" about everything.  And I was able to practically discuss the 'what-ifs,' as painful as it was, while we waited in the ER.  And through it all, I knew our church and our childhood church and so many others were praying on our behalf, that on the other end of my phone were close friends praying with all of their might for us and our baby, checking in as often as they could.

The doctor came in, did my exam, and left.  He explained what he saw, but not what it meant.  Which only left us with more questions.  Then they came for my blood work.  And soon, my parents arrived from over an hour away.  The rest of the waiting was full of laughter as we reminisced over previous times in the hospital, which was much needed.  

After what felt like forever, they came and took me for my ultrasound, what would be my first.  No one was allowed to come with me since it was an ER admittance (I was heartbroken).  The ultrasound tech explained that she wasn't allowed to tell me anything but that they should have the results for me within a half an hour.  I couldn't even see the screen.  But God gave me the right tech because, as she did her exam, she turned on the sound and I heard a heartbeat - I've never been through that before, so I didn't want to get my hopes up...I wasn't entirely sure that's what I was hearing.  But the tech simply looked at me and said, "Does that tell you anything?"  With eager hope, I asked, "Are you serious?"  She nodded.  I instantly started crying and thanked her repeatedly, she simply said, "your welcome, I've been there..." and she finished her exam.

My heart wanted to jump out of my chest as I was being wheeled back to my room.  I waited until the nurse was gone (I was unsure if the tech was 'allowed' to do what she did) and burst out in a smile - "We have a heartbeat!"

The doctor came about 20 minutes later to tell us that the "fetus" was still "viable" and that my hormone levels looked good.  I was told to go home and rest, get plenty of fluids, and to get a hold of my doctor first thing Monday.  He didn't have an explanation for my spotting or cramping so they will probably run further tests.

The point of sharing all of this today was that we couldn't have gotten through this without the prayer, love, and support of everyone around us.  There were so many phone calls, text messages, and Facebook messages from people sharing their concern and letting us know we were being prayed for.  Even today, after deciding to go to church, the repeated encouragement of "we're praying for you guys, please keep us posted, get your rest, let me know if you need anything" was amazingly overwhelming.  I cannot imagine going through this without that support.  If we had only told our parents, we wouldn't have the entire network of our Family in Christ.  I will never regret for a second, sharing our news as early as we did...which was actually only 8 weeks instead of 9 like we thought.  After my ultrasound, the doctor was able to tell me, we are 9 weeks and 1 day (2 days now).  :)

Thank you Lord for miracles, for answers to prayer.  


When did you tell everyone your big news?  And why?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Giveaways: Rent a Timeshare (OVER)

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. Learning to Be 31 received one ore more of the products metioned in this post for free for evaluations purposes.  Regardless, all opinions expressed are still 100% my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Before doing this review, I had never looked into timeshare rentals.  Mostly because I hear the word "timeshare" and I instantly think "scam" or "not worth it."

In fact, I told Hubby I was doing this review and he was super annoyed - "Timeshares are a waste of money."  However, this review isn't about buying a timeshare or selling a timeshare, its about renting one.  For me, this sounds like a win-win situation, a perfect solution for a family on a budget.  

When someone isn't going to use their timeshare for a certain week, they can rent it out for a highly discounted rate.  A lot of times, you can stay in a timeshare for cheaper than a cheap hotel!  And even more budget friendly is that you get a kitchen, meaning you can make your own meals instead of eating out all of the time.  This, in my book, is a huge deal since eating out can be so costly.

RedWeek offers a membership to their website for $14.99 a year so you can search timeshare rentals, read reviews, post reviews, etc.  As a part of this review, they gave me a years membership for free so I could check things out (check out the giveaway below to see how you can win a two year membership).

The website really does have some great resources!  I checked all of the places Hubby and I were hoping to go in the next year and there was nothing available in those areas.  But, to be fair, we aren't going anywhere very touristy.  Mostly just trips to visit family and friends.  So, I started to think about the places we might go someday...and I instantly thought of Disney World.  ;)

So I did a search for Orlando.  And I found rentals for as low as $64 a night!

It even shows you the available months for the next two years right in the search!  And I really love that reviews are just a click away.  I don't have to go to Google to see if my stay will be worth it.  And the reviews are detailed.  From looking at the reviews for this posting, I learned that there's a grocery store within walking distance, which is nice to know!

When searching, you can even select different "features" such as 'kid-friendly' or 'pet-friendly.'

The RedWeek website has quite a few resources available as well - instructions on renting, a glossary (just to clarify if you get confused), an FAQ's section, and 3 different blogs.

A fun fact, in case you wondered about the term “redweek,” and why this company has that name: In the timeshare industry a “red week” is the best, or prime time, to stay in a timeshare (for example, Christmas week at a ski lodge, etc.). In using this term as the name of this company, it simply means “The Best.” I thought that was pretty creative!

Conclusion: My general feeling is that if you are looking to rent a timeshare, the $14.99 is worth it in order to gain access to everything RedWeek has to offer.  The website is easy to navigate and really gives you an edge when it comes to timeshare rentals I think.  However, if you are just curious, skip the $14.99 and sign up as a guest instead.  Then you have a few days to browse and decide if you really want to rent a timeshare or not.  The website is  Head on over and check it out.

Giveaway Time: 
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Review: Dry & Soften Your Clothes Without Chemicals!

Hubby and I, since we first started discussing a future family, decided to take baby-steps toward being as chemical free as we can.  It started with our cleaning products and then, a more challenging task, our food.  But it is worth it.  Every time I pull a homemade cleaner from the cupboard, I feel better knowing that we aren't inhaling anything unnecessary.  When I grab the organic milk out of the fridge, even though I know it cost me more, I can't help but be proud of the better choices we have been making.

It definitely isn't easy all of the time.  But we are trying!  Today I want to share with you one switch I recently made.  And it IS an easy one!

Dryer sheets contain unnecessary chemicals (Go here for more info on that).  After I learned this, part of me wanted to just stop using them.  But I absolutely hate how staticy (yep, I know, that isn't a real word...) and stiff my clothes are without them.  I'd seen how you could make your own with fabric softener and old t-shirts (or something like that) but I still have reservations about any cleaning product that isn't made by me.  I may be a little paranoid, I know...but the more I learn, the more I don't trust....

And my research on cloth diapers, I stumbled across the wonderful invention that is Wool Dryer Balls.  :D  You use them as an all-natural alternative to chemical-ridden dryer sheets. 

Shortly after I discovered them, I happened to win a set of 6 from Woolzies via a blog giveaway (I wish I remembered which blog but it was before I really got into blogging myself...).  

Each one is about the size of a large orange or a small grapefruit.

I've had this set for quite awhile, but just started using them when we moved into our new house.  And I love them!  Really love them!  For the short list, I'll give you 3 reasons why:

1. They are SO much quieter than I ever anticipated.  We had plastic steam things (only 2) that I used for awhile to cut our drying time and they were SO loud and obnoxious.  With 6 dryer balls (and 2 foil balls to cut down on static) I barely even notice them!  Yes, it is louder than using a fabric softener sheet...but definitely not anywhere near as loud as I expected.

2. I always hated that the "Energy-Saver" setting on our dryer didn't actually fully dry our clothes - I always had to add more time.  With the Woolzies, they come out dry every time on the "Energy Saver" setting - even a full load of jeans!  I'm actually tempted to set it even lower the next time I dry clothes.  This might be my favorite perk (besides the fact that I know I'm not adding any nasty chemicals to my cleaning regimen).

3. When I add just a couple drops of essential oils to one or two of the Woolzies (my preference is lavendar), my clothes come out smelling like heaven!  They have a wonderful, chemical free smell that is way better than any dryer sheets I've ever used.  :)  Plus, you can make them smell like whatever you choose!  The possibilities are endless.  Hubby wants me to try Peppermint, which is what I put in a lot of my other homemade cleaners, but I just don't know how I feel about peppermint smelling clothes.  haha.  ;)


Have you ever used wool dryer balls?  What is your favorite thing about them?

I did not receive this product as a promotion or as payment.  All opinions and words are my own.

Blogger Opp: Beyond the Seam GC

Sponsored By: Beyond the Seam
Hosted By: Mami's 3 Little Monkeys

Prize: $50 GC to Beyond the Seam (Etsy)
Open Worldwide
Dates: March 18th - April 1st
Sign-ups Close: March 16th

Two free links with announcement post or pay fay small announcement fee. 
Additional links are available for $0.50 each. 

Blogger Opp: Opulent Monsters Sewing Pattern & 3 Fabric Kits

Crafters Gather Round for this awesome giveaway coming up! 

Hosted By: Mami's 3 Little Monkeys
Sponsored By: Opulent Monsters 

BOTH Winners will each receive a pattern of their choice from Opulent Monsters as well as 3 fabric kits to create their Monster Bunz with! Prize Pack is valued at $36.36 - $51.35 EACH! Winner will be able to choose their pattern and gender for fabric kits. 

Open Worldwide, however winners outside of the US will need to pay shipping. 

March 24th at 8am CST - April 7th at 11:59pm CST
Sign-ups Close on March 22nd at 12pm CST 

Receive TWO FREE links w/announcement post OR pay small announcement fee.
Additional links are available for a small fee, including daily comment and daily vote options. 

All payments are to be sent to via paypal.