Shabby Apple Giveaway Winner!

Shabby Apple Bow Dress Shabby Apple Giveaway Winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered the Shabby Apple $50 gift card giveaway!

As promised, I’ve selected the winner using a random winner generator.

Random Winner Generator Shabby Apple Giveaway Winner!

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ongratulations to Denise L! Check your email for details on how to claim your prize.

 

Don’t forget you can also get 10% off your purchase when you use the code “happinessiswantingwhatyouhave10off”(Code is only valid through July 1.)

Happy shopping!

 Shabby Apple Giveaway Winner!

Shabby Apple Giveaway – $50 Gift Card

Shabby Apple Swimwear Shabby Apple Giveaway   $50 Gift Card

I’d like to introduce you to my latest obsession – Shabby Apple. It is the most beautiful collection of clothing for glassy gals and even kids! I’m sorry I didn’t discover this site during my pregnancy as they have the cutest collection of outfits for preggers. Luckily, they also  a killer collection for new mamas.

I seriously cannot stop perusing this site!

Lucky for you, Shabby Apple has offered to give my readers a $50 gift card to their site! You can also get 10% off your purchase when you use the code “happinessiswantingwhatyouhave10off”. (Code is only valid for one month.)

How to enter 

  1. Like Shabby Apple on Facebook 
  2. Leave a comment below letting me know (a) you “Liked” their Facebook page and (b) tell me which Shabby item is your favorite.
  3. You must live in the U.S. to be eligible for entry.

I’ll randomly pick one winner on June 10. G’luck!

Shabby Apple Bow Dress Shabby Apple Giveaway   $50 Gift Card

{Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.}

 Shabby Apple Giveaway   $50 Gift Card
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The Best Parenting Book I’ve Read – Raising Happiness

Happy Toddler 768x1024 The Best Parenting Book Ive Read   Raising Happiness

Seven months ago I wrote about entering the phase of the Terrible Two’s with the Child, desperate for advice and a way to cope.

I know every parent says this, but the Child really is great. I find that she typically melts down when she’s tired, over stimulated or hungry. The hardest part in dealing with the so-called “terrible two’s” – which are age-appropriate reactions! – is reminding myself that I am the adult in the relationship.

Around the time I wrote the post about my challenges disciplining the toddler, I experienced one of the lowest points in my parenting experience thus far. The Child was melting down in her room. She wouldn’t put on her shoe or something insignificant like that. Frustrated, I told her I was leaving without her, walked out of her room and shut the door.

I will never forget the way her cry shifted from frustrated to so unbelievably sad, and even worse, the look Manfriend gave me when he went in to console her.

“You can’t say stuff like that to her. She feels abandoned by you.”

I felt tiny.

At that moment I knew I needed help. I wasn’t myself, and most importantly was not being the mom I wanted to be. A friend of mine recommended a book that I swear by and I now recommend to everyone I meet – parents and non-parents alike.

raising happiness book 300x300 The Best Parenting Book Ive Read   Raising Happiness

Raising Happiness did wonders for me. I communicate with my toddler in a way I never thought possible, which in turn has helped us both work through the times we both need a time out.

I took pages of notes that I often reference and firmly believe the key takeaways would benefit anyone and everyone.

  • You need to be able to find happiness within yourself before you can expect to teach someone else to do it.
  • Start a daily gratitude journal. The simple act of writing it down will bring you so much joy.
  • Leave the guilt at home and ignore your judgmental friends. Doing something without your kids to nourish your soul is important. 
  • Forgiveness is a skill you need to teach and practice.
  • Eat dinner as a family.

Read the book and check out the author’s blog while you’re at it.

Has a book recently touched you?

 The Best Parenting Book Ive Read   Raising Happiness

Today, We’re Traveling to Bulgaria

A friend of mine from USC has spent the last few years traveling the globe and giving back as a Peace Corps Volunteer. 2.5 of those years were spent in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria was never on my list of places to visit until I started following Amy’s blog. Below are images she took of the concrete graffiti walls in the capital city providing a glimpse into the local culture and its communist history.

 Bulgaria Capital Today, Were Traveling to Bulgaria

Communist Sculpture Today, Were Traveling to Bulgaria

Old Communist Sculpture Today, Were Traveling to Bulgaria

Graffitti Bulgaria Today, Were Traveling to Bulgaria

 Today, Were Traveling to Bulgaria

The Gift of Family – the Day We Donated Our Embryos

My friend Lindsay Alford and her husband Rick did a remarkable thing today – they gave another couple the gift of life. I’m honored to have Linds on the blog today sharing her fertility journey and how they came to this decision.

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I was deeply touched by last night’s episode of Private Practice. Dr. Amelia Shepherd gave birth to a brainless baby and was forced to make a heart wrenching decision to donate her baby’s organs or to let him die naturally. Her decision to donate all of her baby’s organs to families across the country strikes an ethical debate among her colleagues. She understands that what she’s asking is unimaginable. But she asks anyway because she did some research on all the children that her baby could save. She wasn’t ready to give her baby up, but heroically found the strength to allow the transplant team to proceed.

pregnant twins The Gift of Family   the Day We Donated Our Embryos

This is my favorite pregnancy picture. It was taken the days we learned we were having two girls

My story began six years ago when I gave Rick Alford my forever. During the infancy of our relationship, as with most couples, Rick and I explored each other’s hopes and dreams. Neither of us desired anything out of the ordinary, I wanted to get married and have children, Rick wanted to return to his home state of Virginia. Little did we know, these simple dreams would lead to major challenges and test the best of relationships.

Today my heart is beating fast and my emotions are raw. Like Dr. Amelia Shepherds in Private Practice, my husband and I were faced with a life changing decision. Six intrauterine inseminations (IUI), a laparoscopic surgery, heavy fertility drugs, one in vitro fertilization (IVF) and four years later, we were blessed with two beautiful baby girls, Olivia Rose (Liv) and Amelia Hall (Mia).

So what’s the dilemma?

After we transferred two fresh embryos, we froze our three remaining embryos. We had lengthy discussions as to how it would be financially irresponsible of us to have more children and we owe it to Liv and Mia to give them the best life possible. We were given three choices: keep the embryos frozen, destroy them, or give them up for adoption. When I laid my head on my pillow at night, I knew I couldn’t destroy them. Even though I’m prochoice, for me, it felt like an abortion. Rick pictured the embryos in the petri dish screaming for a fighting chance. All of our embryos were high quality so it was pure luck Liv and Mia were chosen. So we ruled out the first two choices and that left us with adoption.

twin embryo ultrasound The Gift of Family   the Day We Donated Our Embryos

I had two embryos transferred and so did Lara. Cheers to hoping she has twins!

Our clinic only offered closed adoptions. We weren’t cool with that either. We want these children to know their full medical history, where they came from, what they may look like and most importantly, that they’ve always been wanted.

After several months of paperwork and doctor appointments, we ended up going with an open adoption through Snowflake. In December 2011, we feel in love with a couple from Kansas City. Brian, 44, and Lara, 43, have an amazing love story but there’s something missing. They want to be parents and have tried for ten years. Today, her doctor thawed the three remaining embryos, one didn’t make it, but the other two looked great and were transferred.

Tears are running down my face as I type. I feel a rollercoaster of emotions. I feel a sense of guilt and loss. I’m not sure if that’s because I think that’s the way I am supposed to feel as a mother or what. The greater part of me feels like a hero. I feel selfless, amazing and strong.

Today Rick and I may have made a difference in the lives of two incredible people who deserve to be parents. This wasn’t a decision we took lightly. The entire process took nearly a year, and we had many lengthy conversations. We have no regrets. From the beginning, I knew I could handle giving them up and giving them a shot at life more than I could handle destroying them.

18 month twin girls The Gift of Family   the Day We Donated Our Embryos

Our girls truly are a gift. I am so grateful to be their mom.

Our decision isn’t right for everyone. I respect the choices others make but for us, this was absolutely the right one. I won’t lie. There may be emotional adjustments along the way but we (Rick, Lara, Brian and I) will talk openly. If I have to cry, I will cry.

The journey of fertility is tough, emotional and life changing. It opens your mind and presents decisions and hard challenges you didn’t know you were equipped to deal with. From the bottom of our hearts, we truly hope and pray Lara and Brian receive their gift of family.