Money Saving Monday

After last weeks post about my tips on how to get free or nearly free things at CVS, I thought I'd follow up with how I organize my coupons and some places I read up on to get some deal ideas.

There are many ways to organize coupons but I prefer to use a 3 ring binder with clear, plastic pocket inserts (think baseball card holders). This makes it easy to see & access your coupons quickly. And yes, this thing goes with me when I go shopping anywhere that will accept coupons! You never know when you'll trip across an unpublished deal or marked down item.

money saving ideas,

It's all a personal preference in how you organize your coupons once you have the holder you prefer. Since I get a lot of my deals at CVS, I have personal care items in the front of my binder. The page above has some of my razor & shaving cream coupons (I have 2 pages worth of these). They are grouped by their brand names. I have all shampoos on the same page, toothpaste together, etc. Then I have other grocery items categorized together back further. Snack items, dry goods, dairy items, frozen, and so on. I obviously have a ton of different categories but those are just some to give you ideas. Some people have tabs or page dividers to mark off their different sections but I haven't bothered with that at this point.

On the left hand side of the picture, you can see I have a clip attached where I put any shopping lists that aren't in listed in my smart phone. I also clip the coupons to this spot I know I plan to use before heading out so they are easy to grab.

Some of my favorite sites I read to get heads up on deals are:
For The Mommas
We Use Coupons (thanks for sharing this Jackie!)
The Krazy Coupon Lady

If you are on facebook, all the above places can be found there as well. They list who has what on sale and what coupons you can pair with the sales to get the best deal. Often they will list some of the stores sales up to a week ahead of time, giving you time to plan out what you want or to hunt down coupons you might not have. Those sites also give a lot of other great information as well (where to get free samples mailed out to you, bargains online, etc).

A free place to get coupons to print out on your printer is (though keep in mind some stores won't take internet printed coupons but most chain stores do).

(and no, I'm not being paid to share the above. Just want to pass along some ways to help you save money).

I know all this may seem overwhelming but you don't have to tackle this all at once. Start small with saving a bit on a few deals and go from there. Once you start seeing the awesome savings, you'll want to keep going as it can be such an adrenaline rush!

Have you found any good deals recently? Comment below & share as it's always fun to hear what others are finding!
Previous Money-Saving Monday posts:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

Crescent Chicken Rolls

I love using my crockpot to cook a whole chicken. Perfect for our long co-op days to come home & have supper ready. Usually though a chicken gives us at least 2 meals so I enjoy trying to find creative ways to use leftover chicken.

Awhile back, when coming up with ideas for my cooking class I teach at co-op, I decided to make these crescent chicken rolls with my class. I had a stash of crescent rolls in my freezer from when I got a 12 pack of them for $1.00 (yes, you can freeze those canned biscuits!) So this was a perfect recipe to whip up.

Instead of using a can of cream of chicken soup the recipe called for, I paired it with my homemade cream of chicken soup (I never buy "cream of" soups anymore, much cheaper & healthier to make your own).

This recipe also freezes well. Just reheat in the oven.

Crescent Chicken rolls
1 package refrigerator crescent rolls (I doubled this recipe in the above picture)
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup (my homemade recipe listed below)
1 can of milk (using soup can)
Preheat oven to 350

Prepare soup using milk and set aside. Separate crescent rolls and flatten a bit. Spoon chicken and cheese onto each crescent on the thick end; roll and seal to enclose filling (it won't roll perfectly, just work to pinch shut all sides). Place in a 9×13 baking dish. Pour soup over rolls. Bake at 350 uncovered for 30 mins. Just a note, I like seasonings and sometimes add whatever else I feel in the mood for at the time.

Cream of "whatever" Soup
3 Tbsp of butter
3 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
dash of pepper
1 1/4 c of liquid, milk or stock

Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in flour and seasonings. Cook over medium heat until bubbly. Add liquid slowly, stirring with wire whisk to prevent lumps. (this is key for a smooth soup). Cook until thick. This equal 1 can of condensed soup.

For cream of chicken soup, use chicken broth for half the liquid. Add a little poultry seasoning or sage if you like.

For cream of tomato soup, use tomato juice for the liquid. Add dashes of garlic & onion powder, basil & oregano.

For cream of mushroom or celery soup,  saute 1/4 cup of mushrooms or celery & 1 Tbsp of onion in butter before adding flour.

For more of my recipes, check out my Recipe Tab. I'm often adding new things I've made!

Linking up with:
Our 4 kiddos

Money Saving Monday-Shopping at CVS for Next to Nothing!

I realize I haven't done a money-saving post lately but this one will make up for it! Do you shop at CVS? If you don't, I hope after this post you will. (and no, I'm not getting paid to do this post, I wish I was, ha!) Many people don't realize just how good the deals are at CVS when you combine coupons, red machine coupons & extra care bucks (ECB). I've been getting a lot of things free most weeks due to planning out my deals. Here are some photos of some recent deals and I'll explain more on the flip side:

(click on photos to enlarge if you want to see more detail)
This was the loot I scored on black Friday (and no, I wasn't there early, just later morning). EVERYTHING you see here I got for free PLUS I earned $21 ECB to spend on another order.

I paid $1.89 for this order (as seen in receipt below though the cashier messed up what I paid so it shows $1.98) I earned $19 in ECB.

I paid $6.11 for this order & got $4 in ECB PLUS I also got a $6 rebate on the advil which means I made money on this order!

I paid a whopping......$.41 out of pocket for this order (used a $10 cash card from a previous order & $9 in ECB to pay for this) and got $19 in ECB as seen in the receipt below plus using an app on my phone, I earned another $1.25  which means I made money on this order!!!

I paid $4.06 for this order (as seen in receipt below) and earned $19 in ECB.
Check out the savings on this receipt from this one order, I saved $99!!!!

I paid $9.22 for this order, as seen in receipt below, & earned $10 ECB.  (and no, we will not be drinking all the sodas from the last 2 pics, they will be sold at our annual development yard sale in May, thus making money off this order!) Look at that savings of $95!!

Ok, do I have you convinced yet to start shopping at CVS?

 If you don't shop there, first things first, get yourself their loyalty card called an "extra savings card". Also, if you get the Sunday paper, start clipping coupons. If you don't get the paper, ask around to friends for their coupons. When you go to CVS, locate the "red machine", this is where you scan your card and it prints out special coupons & savings just for you. Don't just scan it once and take those coupons, scan it again as it usually prints off more than one round. Keep scanning until is says "no more coupons for today".

Those coupons have an expiration date on them so even if you don't think you will use them right away, hang onto them for a possible future order. Many times I've found coupons that printed one week, I end up using the following week on good sales.

Also, go online to CVS and register your extra care card (because they will email you special coupons) and also sign up for the beauty club savings where you can earn even more ECB. CVS now has an app for smartphones. Download this to see what coupons they send you weekly.

Just to clarify, ECB are earned on certain products that are marked each week. After you purchase the items qualifying for them, they print out on the bottom of your receipt. Make sure you DON'T LOSE THEM! They are just like money and you can use them on another order!

You can use a manufactures coupon and a red machine coupon on the same item. Like that toothpaste above, it was on sale for $3, I got a red machine coupon for $2.50 off each plus I had a manufactures coupon for $1 off 2, so all combined, I got the toothpaste for free!!

The stayfree were on sale the other week for buy one, get one free. I located some buy one get one free coupons so that allowed me to get them totally free!

I mentioned above that I used an app on my iPhone to earn money on the mouthwash I bought (which was on sale for $4.99, I had $1 off coupon, I got $2.50 in ECB plus with the app, I earned another $1.25 which made it only $.24) There are several money saving apps that are free & easy to use.
ibotta (if you are a new user, the first time you redeem a rebate you'll get an extra $10)

I could go on & on about this but I realize I probably just put some of you on info overload so next week, I will share a part 2 to this and share how I organize my coupons and other resources I use to help me figure out my best deals.

If you have any questions on what I shared here, feel free to leave it in a comment or email me & I will answer on next weeks post!

Until then, happy savings!!!

Previous Money-Saving Monday posts:

This post may contain affiliate links. Anything I earn helps support our homeschooling family.

Flowering Baby

Typically when you think of homeschooling & curriculum, you think of school age children. I've wondered lately if there wouldn't be something out there I could use with my youngest since she's been showing signs of wanting to "do school" like her older siblings. So I was excited when we were recently given the chance to review Flowering Baby, LLC as it contained curriculum targeted right for Olivia's age!

Flowering baby is a curriculum for ages birth to 5 years old created by a mother (early education expert) and her daughter. I know, you may be thinking why a "curriculum" for such young ages? It's not so much a formal curriculum (as in book work) but more or less guided activities to do with your child that helps work on many areas of their development through play.

For ages birth to 3, the activities focus on the child's specific age by month, with about 20 activities per month. The daily suggestions take about 15-20 minutes each day. They focus on repetition of activities. Some of these involve using finger play & songs (like itsy bitsy spider), reading books, listening to classical music, motor skills such as playing with playdough or painting with finger paint, etc. At the beginning of each year, there is a list of books you will read (with each specific month listing what books you will need that month.) There is also a list of supplies you will need and most of these are things you have around your house.

For ages 4 & 5, the curriculum takes more of a preschool approach with activities lasting about 30-45 minutes per day. Some of the subjects covered involve math, science, phonics, Spanish and music. At the beginning of this section, they list some suggestions for phonics curriculum if your child is ready as well as some websites for learning. There is also a list of books for reading and a list of supplies you will need for the year.

Olivia was 17 months old when we received this product so we jumped right into month 17 which is contained in Volume 2, ages 1-2. That's one of things I like about this curriculum, that we were able to pick it up no matter the age of the child when we started it. At the beginning of the month, it listed the 4 supplies we would need for our activities, the 3 books we would read & the choice of music for that month (Beethoven). I received this product as a PDF so I just printed out what we were using & placed it in my master notebook I use for homeschooling.

I went onto our library's website and requested the books I needed. I could only find 2 of the books so I substituted a 3rd book. The authors of the curriculum stated you may have to switch out things as needed but it won't affect how this curriculum works. My daughters also suggested we could try looking up the books on you tube as well. Leave it to them to think of technology!

The curriculum is listed as Days 1-21 for this age month. Each day involves doing something active such as doing a puzzle with knobs & pictures together, putting masking tape on the floor to encourage their fine motor skills of walking a straight line, helping with sorting laundry, making cinnamon rolls, etc. It also includes either reading the same book twice in a row, listening to Beethoven, singing a song like "Row, Row, Row your Boat" or reciting a rhyme like "Hickory Dickory Dock".

Mornings were our best time to do our "school" together as Olivia called it. Once the older kids were busy doing independent work, Olivia & I would look at what activity was listed for the day. She quickly picked up on the fact that this was her special time with mommy and she soaked it up! Since some of the activities involved sitting at the table (like playdough), when she saw me pull out my book where I had the curriculum stored, she would automatically head to the kitchen even if we didn't need to be there.
Here she was sorting the different colored playdough onto the matching lids.

Overall, this curriculum was a hit in our house and I intend to keep using it not only with Olivia but also when our 7th baby is born in just a few months.  I know it may seem like some of these things are simple to do and come up with on your own, but having them all written out with the list of supplies makes it much easier for a busy mom like myself to implement . I found having a dedicated curriculum to use with Olivia helps me to take the time to focus on her with specific learning. Sure, she learns a lot by just watching her older siblings but I can see how much more she has excelled by just taking that short time a day to work independently with her.

The following all contain sample pages listed at the bottom of the page:
Birth to OneOne to TwoTwo to Three cost $30 per download.
Three to FourFour to Five cost $38 per download.
Or you have the option of buying all 5 levels together for $132. Available in PDF or CD.

Flowering Baby is also providing my readers 10% off right now using code BLOG10.


Walking With You-Comparison Trap

Mothers often fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to one another. This is a trap many women fall into. We compare our families, mothering styles, fashion sense, careers or lack thereof, bodies, etc. Even mothers with babies in heaven compare the way we grieve our children. I know…sad…but we do it, if we’re honest enough to admit it. So, how can we find freedom from this? Sharing is a start…telling the truth…admitting the struggle. I think, then, we will see that we all love our children, regardless of how we choose to remember and honor their lives…whether publicly or quietly…with big parties or simple moments of remembrance. Be real on this week’s post, and let’s free ourselves from the trap of comparing!

If you are just reading this for the 1st time, I am joining up with Sufficient Grace Ministries in their "Walking With You" weekly series. My previous posts:

Comparison. Each & everyone of us has done it. Sadly it's part of human nature and it's one of the quickest ways to suck the joy out of life if you let it. It's so easy to look at others & see the nice in-shape figure they may have, the perfect kept house, how well organized someone is, how many friends they seem to have, etc.

But what looks to be better in our eyes might only be part of the story as that person keeps the other part of their story hidden. That nice in-shape figure might because they secretly struggle with an eating disorder or suffer from infertility and haven't had the blessing of a baby to add a few pounds. The person with a perfect house or one who is well organized might struggle with OCD and instead of spending precious time with their kids, they spend all that time cleaning & organizing. That person with all those friends might only have those friends because of who they are and the second that person needs a friend in a time of need or crisis, all those supposed friends aren't there and they are left feeling alone.

This type of comparison also can happen in the world of grief. I had the advantage, if you can all it that, of knowing during pregnancy that my son was going to eventually die. That gave me some time to do some research & talk to people who have been down this road before. I could see that there were many ways of grieving, none of them wrong and none of them better than another. I had no clue what my grief journey would look like but it helped knowing that however it happened for me, there was no right or wrong way. So I can't say that I looked around at others comparing how I was grieving with how they did. In fact, I am grateful to so many for being open in their journeys and how they captured memories as this gave me ideas and helped to "guide" me in a sense to have less regrets (but I still have those, just not as many as I might have.) It also gave me the reassurance when I needed it that I wasn't the only one to have felt & think the way I do/did.

What I did/do struggle with when it comes to comparing grief is seeing how some have such amazing support systems and finding myself envious of them. Ya know, those people who had family with them helping them whether physically or emotionally, just not in those early days but in the months afterwards. Those who organized fundraisers or special events in honor of their friend or family members baby. Those whose family/close friends randomly think of their baby and speak their name, remember the different anniversary dates & acknowledge them (without a facebook reminder). Those who have family & friends that realize they still have tough days even a few years later and still support & help them through those times without judgement.

 I find myself thinking I must not be worthwhile or loved enough to have family/friends to do those types of things for us. My grief must not be as big of a deal to not deserve the support that others get. My son's life must not have meant as much as someone else's baby so that's why he doesn't get remembered or acknowledged. (I do want to say I have 2 family members and a few friends the previous doesn't include that I am truly thankful for). But for us, the people who most would think would've been there for us, sadly weren't. I also experienced people walking out of my life when I needed support the most. I get that grief is hard, dirty work when it comes to relationships but isn't that what Jesus calls us to do, grieve when they grieve & help carry others burdens, not to check out of a relationship when things aren't sunshine & rainbows? So yeah, I do compare myself to those who had such supportive family & friends as it seems their grief journey's were made just a bit easier by having many others around them to help share their painful burden, to carry them on the days they couldn't stand. 

I feel that I've also been the one who has gotten compared to. Not by baby loss moms but by those looking in from the outside who haven't lost a child, comparing how I was/am to how others have grieved which has subsequently led to me being judged. Most might not realize but their comments do get back to me and again, they mostly come from those who chose not to be a support to us, and not from random strangers sadly. 

I've tried to turn how I've been treated into making sure others don't go through that as well. When I know of someone else who is walking this grief journey, I try to do my best to be a support however I can be, not just in those initial first days but in the months to come. I know how much a random email or card means so I try do to for others what wasn't done for me. I don't want other moms to feel alone like I have at times. I guess you could say in doing this it helps me from becoming bitter over how I've been treated and doesn't let what I've gone through be all for nothing.

Through all this I've been learning that everyone's path & journey is different. We may look at someones situation and think how we'd do something differently or we'd never do that but truth is, we DON'T know how we'd be or what we'd do. God has made us each unique with different life stories. Life isn't all black & white, right or wrong, there are many different ways of doing things and that is ok.  It's easier to sit back, judge and compare than it is to jump in the trenches with them to show grace, understanding & support. Imagine what life would be like if we'd stop the comparing & judging and just embrace where God has placed each person on their own journey! 

"For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Matthew 7:2

"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,"
Romans 5:3-4

Apologia-Zoology 2

Science is one of those subjects that can either be a load of fun or boring, all depending on your curriculum. I was thankful several years ago to be introduced to Apologia Educational Ministries, specifically their line of science curriculum. We recently had the chance to review Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day, both the textbook and the regular notebooking journal.

The textbook is a hardbound book that contains real life colorful photos. While the text uses scientific terms, it reads in a smooth narration that holds the students attention. The intended grades for Zoology 2 is K-6 grade but it could also be used for middle school as well. They even have the option of a Jr Notebooking Journal you could buy instead of the regular one for your younger students. Depending on your child's reading ability, they could read this on their own or it makes a great read aloud together. I'd have to say one of my favorite aspects with this curriculum is the ability to do it with all my close in age children at once. I love being able to do unit studies as a group!

If teaching science intimidates you, Apologia took care of all the leg work and makes this an easy curriculum to implement. From the time you open the textbook, they have listed in the front the many ways of support and contact information if you need help. From there, they go on to suggest how to use this curriculum with a step-by-step guide that you are welcome to use or adapt to suit your family as needed. From there, it lists all needed supplies for each lesson with most of the experiments needing things you can easily find around your house. If you desire even more information on what you are studying, they provide a website in the textbook that you can access to find videos & other cool features that correspond to each chapter. 

In addition to the cool pictures and loads of information, you'll also find experiments & "Try This" (think mini science lessons you can do on the fly) mixed into each lesson. Swimming Creatures also has the students working on an ocean box piece by piece with the corresponding lessons so by the time you finish this course, you have a really neat display of what all the student learned.

The notebooking journal is a spiral bound notebook that contains all the pages & activities the student needs to go along with the text. At the beginning, there is a description of how to use each section. My favorite part of this book is the schedule found in the front of the journal! As a busy mom, I appreciate not having to figure out how to break down curriculum to get it accomplished in a school year and would rather have a schedule placed in front of me. Even though this is a suggested schedule (which includes what pages to read & what notebooking pages & activities to complete), you certainly don't need to follow it. We adapted it as needed. There are a total of 13 lessons but they broke it down into 26 weeks which is more than enough for a complete year, doing science twice a week. 

Some of the activities contained in the journal are; areas for the student to record fascinating facts about what they read with an area to draw pictures to go along with those facts, review questions (answers are found in the back of the textbook), copy work of a Bible verse with the option of doing it in print or cursive, vocabulary crossword puzzles, "Dive Deeper" section with book & dvd suggestions and experiments, scientific speculation sheets and my childrens favorite, lots of colorful mini books to complete and attach to the notebook!

Since my oldest 3 girls had already completed this course the other year, my son was the lucky one who got to review this. Though typically, I try to do science with the older 4 all together and Apologia makes that easy to do. My kids take turns reading the text aloud or I read it to them to change things up. For the most part, we followed the suggested schedule though we sometimes did it more than 2 days a week just to break the reading up into smaller segments. 

I love & appreciate everything about not only Zoology 2 but the other Apologia science courses we've had the chance to complete. The only change I personally would make to the notebooking journal is to make the pages perforated. It would make removing the pages for the mini-books easier as well as when I assemble our end of year portfolios, it would be nice to be able to neatly tear out the pages I want to place in it.

With all that said, this science course is chock full of great information from a Biblical perspective of creation and one we have enjoyed completing!! 

The cost of the textbook is $39 and the regular notebooking journal is $24


Our Precious Olivia

A few weeks ago, Olivia just blew me away with 2 adorable things she did. On a Monday while at our homeschool co-op, one of the moms wanted to hear her say Noah's name. So I asked Olivia to show her how she can say "Noah". She sweetly said his name and without missing a beat, right after saying it, she turned to me and grabbed his footprint necklace I wear and held it out and said "Noah" again!! She has NEVER intentionally put them together before!! I admit, later as I told Kevin this story, I ended up sobbing. There is just no way to describe how precious this was!

Noah's exact footprints shrunk down to fit my necklace

Ever since Olivia was only a few weeks old, she often would lock her eyes in on this necklace I wear, eventually smiling at it when she started smiling. Then as she got a little older, she would grasp it as she nursed. She's always seemed to have this connection to Noah, something that goes beyond my understanding. So when she nonchalantly grabbed Noah's necklace & said his name, I knew she for sure put it all together. She has also started recently pointing to his picture, while saying his name & motioning she wants to hold it. When we give her his picture, she leans in and kisses him. Oh be still my heart!!!! It's SO precious!!!
Olivia's hand by Noah's necklace at just a few months old.

The other sweet thing she did recently was during one evening as we were getting ready to eat supper. It was a laid back meal where we decided to all just crash in the living room and eat there together. I got her plate of food together and took her out to her little table. I went back to the kitchen & next thing I know she comes walking in, carrying her plate. She walked over to the table & tried to place her plate up at her seat. She then climbed onto her chair, held her hands out (we hold hands when we pray), then she took her one hand to cover her eyes as she hasn't mastered closing them on her own while we pray. She wanted to say prayers in her seat before we ate!!! You know you do things repeatedly in hopes of teaching your child but you aren't always sure when it clicks, well, she certainly understands that we hold hands to pray before eating!!

Some other cute things she's been doing lately:

-yells "moooooooom" when the older kids are trying to get her to stop something or they are annoying her. It's hilarious when she does it as it's something I expect my older kids to do, not her!! Thankfully she still calls me mama or mommy at times but still, hearing "mom" from my 1 year old makes her sound so much older.

-She loves playing Just Dance 3 on the Wii. She even can manage to score at times as well. She has always loved music and enjoys dancing to anything. Her favorite song on this game is "Wi Wi Wes" (aka Wild Wild West). So much so, she will bring the laptop to us & ask for us to play wi wi wes as she dances all around.
Olivia dancing to Wild Wild West

-She knows how to unlock our phones & the iPad, pulls up apps, the iPod or youtube so she can watch Elmo. And we didn't teach her this! Guess she learns just from watching everyone so often. (she's also accidently called or texted people as well, oops!) She also knows how to access Siri on our phones and talks to her. It's hilarious to hear the things Siri interprets from Olivia.

-She has also recently been insisting what the gender of baby #7 is, guess we'll see if she's right! She also likes to rub my belly & hug and kiss "baby" as she refers to my belly.

This sweet girl is certainly a blessing from above. I have no doubt there is a special connection between her & Noah. She does not in anyway replace him. In fact, she reminds us so much of Noah and all that we missed out on with him. Noah lives on in Olivia and we are reminded daily to treasure each & every moment with her, all because of his life.

Please keep her in prayer due to some health issues and things we are possibly facing.

Walking With You- Guilt & Joy

One area so many mothers struggle with is guilt, especially those who experience the loss of a baby/child. We want to address this struggle in this post. It will help mothers quietly battling guilt for living life and experiencing joy to know they are not alone. Other moms silently battle this as well. Whether it is the startling first time you really laugh after losing your child, or whether you have experienced the healing balm of joy for years, share your thoughts on this week’s post.

If you are just joining, I've been participating with Sufficient Grace Ministries in their "Walking with You" series. My previous posts:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

No one tells you how intertwined guilt & joy can be. That you can & will feel both at the same time. I am thankful I don't feel guilt over what happened. From the second we were told of Noah's diagnosis, the Dr was quick to tell us his condition is "one of those things". That it was not hereditary, was not caused by anything I/we did and was "just a fluke". Granted, I don't believe in the fluke theory, God knew what he was doing when he made Noah like he did in my womb. He was intentionally created to be special & set apart. At times, I feel like we were specially set apart to be given a child so unique.

But I still have struggled with guilt. I still wonder if I had lived a more perfect life, would Noah have lived. If I had had more faith and pleaded harder for a miracle, would Noah have been spared. I know ultimately neither is true. Though it's still human nature to doubt otherwise.

I admit, there was no joy for me for quite a long time after Noah died. I struggled just to breathe.  I do know I felt guilty for not trying to enjoy life more. But I also learned to stop feeling guilty by others and just embrace where God had me at. Yes, I felt guilt placed on me by others thinking I should be "better" but this was finally one time I learned to stop caring what others think and just listen to my Heavenly Father. In doing that & setting myself apart from the negative in my life, I felt a bit of the burden lifted.

I became pregnant with our rainbow baby just 3 months after Noah died. That brought on a whole new level of guilt. Not only was I scared of something going wrong, but I was also afraid of others thinking we were replacing Noah, which we could never do! My entire pregnancy with my rainbow was a rollercoaster of emotions. I had moments of joy in feeling blessed with my 6th baby, but I also was reminded daily of all I was longing  to experience with Noah.

I think a lot of my guilt in the following months was due in part to how society views infant death. There were times I wanted to embrace joy, but I felt if I fully let others see that I was doing that, they would think I was "over Noah" or "moving on", which we know neither can happen, so I didn't always let on how I was feeling for fear of my son being forgotten.

Talk about true joy & guilt being tied together when my rainbow baby was born early on Noah's 1st birthday, in the same hospital room & bed where he was born, lived & died!!! Wow!!! There are simply no words to describe it!

My rainbow baby has been the band-aide of joy as we call her. (her middle name is Joy in fact!) Though there has been melancholy in each & every one of her milestones she reaches. I can't say it's guilt, but just a bit of sadness in realizing how much we have missed out on experiencing with Noah.

BUT all that to say, Noah has given us many amazing gifts, one of which is he has opened my eyes to not only realizing but appreciating each & every little moment we experience with Olivia. I am more intentional in my parenting, hugging her more, cherishing the little things, enjoying being up with her in the middle of the night to cuddle or nurse, etc. So in those ways, Noah continues to be a part of our every day life and helps me fight the guilt & reminds me to focus on seeking the bits of daily joy.

I still do feel some guilt on the days my grief knocks me to my knees, and I'm sure I will always feel some sense of guilt until I die. Mainly because I feel judged when I still have "those" days 2 1/2 years later. But I am learning this is just all part of the journey. And God is using our story for something great!

A friend of mine just shared this & I thought how fitting!!