Hearts, Hugs, and Hedgies!

Hello Friends!

We recently had that holiday, you know the one, the one that induces a few feelings/reactions…dread, nausea, excitement, love, etc. St. Valentine’s Day, whether you love it or hate it; It comes each year without fail. We here in the Leviner household are not HUGE on Valentine’s Day. I think our celebrating has gotten less and less each passing year. I’m not one of those anti-valentine’s people, but you also won’t see me making a Valentine’s wreath. (God, bless you beautiful and talented people who do that!) So our Valentine’s Day was very low key and we were actually able to go on a date, thanks to Nana! <3

These two had a blast! (Ps. I try to keep pants on this child…agh!)
Nana also came bearing a gift. (When does she not?! ;))

During this time, John and I were both on an antibiotic for a sinus infection which stuck around for two weeks. Yuck! So our date was brief and we did not get pictures. We had dinner at O’Charley’s and then headed to Barne and Nobles so I could pick up a copy of Hidden Figures. We then decided to head home because we were both feeling lousy. Fun times! BUT it’s life and I love doing life with John Leviner. <3 We had a great visit with my mom and Aunt Brandi and enjoyed having them here with us. We look forward to seeing them again in April for our big trip to TN!

hedgehog love

On Valentine’s Day, John surprised me with a beautiful card. I picked out a beautiful outfit from Lularoe along with an extra dress. I’m kinda burnt out on all these sell party things, but I must admit that the leggings do feel like butter and are so comfy! It’s nice to feel cute and be comfortable, especially with bladder and other regular pains! John got a few collections of Calvin and Hobbes at Barnes and Noble and that made him one happy fellow. 😉 Later that day, I read D Hedgehugswhich is quite possibly the cutest book ever! I’m obsessed with hedgies and D loves them now as well. <3 We had our annual steak dinner with garlic parmesan fries, brussel sprouts with bacon, and butterscotch mug cakes for dessert. I was initially going to make butterscotch bars, but our stove decided that it was done heating things up on the bottom burner. (Gee, thanks stove. You shouldn’t have. You really shouldn’t have.) John and I ended the night with This is Us. John held me while I ugly cried over Randall’s last scene. The End.

How was your Valentine’s Day? What are your feelings towards the holiday?

<3 Anna

I’m still here!

Hello Friends!

It feels like since I made the decision to blog once a week that I haven’t blogged at all. This is mostly due to a sinus infection that stuck around for two weeks. Yuck! I’m happy to say that I’m on my last days of my antibiotic and doing better. I think some of my pain now is due to the early pollen count. Thank you allergies! :/ Anyway, it’s good to be back and I have plenty of things to share!

Last month, I visited my friend, Whit for a weekend in Atlanta! It was so fun! My first night there we ordered Chinese for dinner. (If you are fighting a cold, I highly suggest ordering some wonton soup. It’s perfect for the sore throat and pained sinuses!) We watched SNL skits and Pineapple Express because that movie is ridiculous!

The next morning,  we visited the Etowah Indian Mounds and had quite a climb up to this view!

It was hella cold though. We were all bundled up with hoods and hats. What the mess? This is Georgia, people!

Donkeys eat pine cones?!

On our walk back from the mounds, we saw two donkeys beyond a fence of a nearby farmer. We (of course!) had to stop to see if they were tame and chat with them. 😉

After the mounds, we learned about a nearby Science Center and decided to check it out. We headed there and stopped by an awesome Greek Cafe on our way.  If you are ever in Cartersville, definitely check out Cartersville Cafe! It’s conveniently located right next to the Tellus Science Musuem. 🙂

This exhibit had a Tim Burton vibe, maybe that’s where he gets his inspiration…?

That evening we went to see Hidden Figures. I’m pretty sure most of you have heard about this book/movie. All I can say is that I can’t remember the last time I went to the theater and had zero regrets about paying for a movie ticket. It’s worth so much more than that. This is a piece of history that does not get the attention it deserves. What these women did is so important for science, our country, and this world. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see it and I recommend everyone go out and see it now if you haven’t already! 😉

The next day, I met back up with my guys and we celebrated my niece, Miya’s fourth birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. It was fun playing games and spending time with our GA family.

Birthday girl!

John vs. The Raging Ape

After the party, we joined my mom, Aunt Brandi, Aunt Jessica, Uncle Ty-Ty, and Karson for a late lunch at Cheddars. After Cheddars, we visited with the Smith family and celebrated Levi turning 1. All our babies are growing up! I’m so thankful for family and good friends. It’s never long enough! <3

I’ve read 3 books for the Read Harder Challenge.

(Below you can click on the categories and see which books I read for each one!)

Read a book about sports.

Read an all-ages comic.

Read a superhero comic with a female lead.

I’m currently reading The Girls and Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix for read a debut novel and read a fantasy novel. I’m well on my way to completing this challenge! 😉

The other goals I had last month made a slight shift due to unforeseen circumstances. So my one and only goal this month will be to complete sorting and donating my clothes for my capsule wardrobe. (More on that later!)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Be safe out there! Share book recommendations and any other comments below!

<3 Anna

 

I’m going to give you a Bear Hug! Book Review

Hello Friends!

I received this book from #Flyby to read and review. I received no further compensation. As always, these are my honest thoughts and opinions. <3

I was bummed out when I discovered on Thursday that my website server was down. It took the whole weekend to get through to tech support because (apparently) I wasn’t the only one having issues. :/ Thankfully, Katherine from the Bluehost tech support group was super helpful and solved my problem in a matter of minutes!

Do any of you remember Caroline B. Cooney? She is a very accomplished young adult author. I remember reading The Face on the Milk Carton series and how that story really stuck with me. (It makes me want to go back and re-read them.;)) So you can imagine that I was super excited to learn that she also writes children’s books!

Nothing better than a bedtime story and snack!

Declan loved this story of different types of hugs. The book flows well and the illustrations are beautiful and fun! It’s the perfect story for bedtime or any time really! I would recommend this book for kiddos age 4-8.

Just one example of the beautiful illustrations!

Grand Rapids, MI– – December 27, 2016– -I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug!, written by bestselling author Caroline B. Cooney, is a playful and comforting bedtime book that imagines all the wonderful ways a child might give and receive a hug. Whether it’s a big bear, gasp for air, knock over a chair hug or a wet and drippy, slimy, slippy fish hug, children will giggle their way through all the imaginative examples. Cooney’s sweet and simple rhymes encourage playful interaction between parent and child and ultimately help them wind down before they snuggle into bed and drift off to sleep. I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug is a sweet loving bedtime story book that is also sure to become a Valentine’s Day favorite for little ones who enjoy celebrating a day full of hugs and kisses from loved ones. I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug will be available in hardcover for $16.99 in retail stores nationwide and online on December 27, 2016. Pre-order opportunities will begin on September 28th .

About the Author: Caroline B. Cooney was born in New York, grew up in Connecticut, and now lives in South Carolina. Caroline is the author of 90 Young Adult novels in many genres, and her books have sold over fifteen million copies. I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug is her first picture book. It’s based on a verse she wrote for her own children, Louisa, Sayre and Harold, who are grown now.

About the Illustrator: Tim Warnes has been illustrating childrens books for twenty years. He lives in Dorset, England, with his wife, children’s illustrator Jane Chapman, and their two sons. When he is not drawing little critters, Tim loves to write, watch birds and play his banjo.  Visit Tim at www.ChapmanandWarnes.com

Zonderkidz™, the children’s division of Zondervan, inspires young lives through imagination and innovation. As the leader in Christian children’s communications, it creates products that awaken the hearts and touch the souls of kids under 14. Zonderkidz is also publisher of the NIrV (New International Reader’s Version) Bible translation, the third grade reading level edition of the NIV. For additional information,please visit www.zondervan.com.

Zondervan is a world-leading Bible publisher and provider of Christian communications. Zondervan, as a part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., delivers transformational Christian experiences through its bestselling Bibles, books, curriculum, academic resources and digital products. The Company’s products are sold worldwide and translated into nearly 200 languages. Zondervan offices are located in Grand Rapids, MI. For additional information, please visit www.zondervan.com.

What is your child’s favorite bedtime story?

<3 Anna

Women’s March 2017!

Hello Friends!

Today, I wanted to share with you a different perspective on the Women’s March. Believe it or not, I attended one in my state and it was a very peaceful, organized, and loving event. The number of people who came out in solidarity to stand up for the rights of so many was breath-taking! There was no violence or looting of stores. People passed officers on duty and thanked them for assisting with keeping the peace. As far as I know, no one left piles of signs on the streets. It was all about sharing our voices and support.

This whole experience has reminded me that we can love one another and not agree with everything the other person has to say. This world is a beautiful and diverse place. We need to learn to listen to one another and stop trying to change each other’s minds. It only causes further division. Just stop and listen. You might learn something or at least get a better grasp on that person’s perspective.

Kid President has some great words of wisdom on this topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghk-nDJB3Tk

<3 Anna

Friday Finds and Favorites #58

Hello Friends!

It’s been tough to get posts up lately. There is (of course) the winter doldrums, but also I’ve been super focused on getting organized and decluttering. I’ll be sharing more on that soon along with a few other projects in the works. It’s tough to fit so much into my schedule as well as make plenty of time for D, but I know it will all be worth it. Today, I’m sharing a few pics from our recent Snow Days and a fun super hero party we attended last weekend!

D’s snow angel

Now it’s your turn! Share your favorite moment and/or finds of the week! Also be sure to stop by and say hi to my co-host, Camille!

 

 



Before I end this post, I want to encourage those who feel strongly about the incoming administration to check out this link. It will give you information on a march in your area and if you can’t march here is a link for ways you can still make a difference! <3

<3 Anna

Quick Tips for Surviving the Holidays with IC!

Hello Friends!

Before we began our trek to VA, I was feeling pretty horrible. I’ve mentioned before that I wasn’t feeling very sure about traveling this year. I’m very thankful that I was able to calm my body enough to not have to make that decision. So how did I push through the holidays with as little pain possible?

Here are a few tips to keep your bladder happy:

  1. I made sure to take my meds and supplements every day! 

This is very important! If you miss a dose you are increasing your chances of pain and a major flare. Nobody wants that!

2. Take maintenance precautions!

Every day I took Prelief with every meal. I also began the day with a tsp. of baking soda mixed in water. (Caution: If you are on a low salt diet, this is not a good option for you!) I’m now using Clear Tract (D-Mannose) at the beginning of each day. IF you feel an increase in frequency, you can use this multiple times a day.

3. Dress and pack comfortably.

When I was at my in-laws homes, I would wear leggings or pj bottoms. Loose clothing is very important! If clothing is too tight it can cause a flare.

4. I was careful with my diet.

I mostly stuck to the IC diet with a few exceptions, but because I used a lot of precautions—I didn’t pay for it later. Thankfully!

5. I did all I could to keep stress and anxiety low.

I shopped for Christmas gifts early (throughout the year). I planned my food preparations ahead of time.

What do you do to prep for a big trip or the holidays to insure no flares?

<3 Anna

Homeschooling Happenings! Lesson 11: Fire, Whales, and a Whole Lotta Jesus!

Hello Friends!

Today, I’m sharing the last HH post of 2016. I’m combining the last three lessons into one condensed post! This way I won’t be behind on sharing each week. 😉

This lesson covers:

F is for Fire, W is for Whale, and J is for Jesus.

We reviewed the numbers 6-9.

Here are just a few activities that we did for these lessons:

Fire truck snack

Fire experiment
Making Shepherd’s soup!
A multi-purpose activity!

What are you working on this week?

<3 Anna

The Flare Before Christmas…

Hello Friends!

Just before Christmas we had an awful cold snap. I remember waking up that morning feeling incredibly stiff and dejected. I knew what was coming. It’s much easier to see the signs when you have been through something multiple times. Unfortunately, this particular flare was very painful. It reminded me of just before my diagnosis. It was such an awful feeling! I remember the feeling of complete dread knowing that I couldn’t stop it and that this could ruin my plans to go to see our VA family.  (Thankfully, it did not!)

So how did I get through it?

*I made sure to take all of my meds every day.

*I ate my safe flare foods for three days straight so I could enjoy my Christmas meals that I had carefully planned.

*I took 1 tsp of baking soda with water to help with the acidity in foods. It tastes horrible, but it helps! (I have since added to more supplements to my regimen and I’ll be sharing soon about those!) If you are on a low sodium diet, this is not the answer for you!

*I also took Prelief with every meal.

*I didn’t remember to do them every day, but I tried to incorporate my stretches to strengthen my pelvic floor muscles.

* I used a heating pad before my stretches.

*I wore pj bottoms/leggings. (Loose clothing is best when in the throes of a flare!)

*I lowered my expectations and made sure to institute quiet time every day.

The last one was key for me. I had a few activities planned that I had to drop in order to feel up to the trip ahead of me. This has been difficult for me, but it honestly gets easier with time. It becomes so much more important to be fully invested in moments with family than using that time and energy to invest in activities that you have added to your list that (may be important), but are not necessarily more important than your quality time with those you love. This is something that I have to continue to practice because it’s very natural for me to want to go above and beyond for my family. I want to make everything special, but sometimes the special moments are made when we are just together. You can’t carefully orchestrate a special moment. It doesn’t work that way!

Another thing that I’ve learned from my experiences with IC is that there are many causes to flares and usually it’s hard to tell why. (If you can figure out what happened, that’s great! You may be able to use specific therapies to help shorten your flare time.) The best thing to do is do NOT panic. Stress can cause flares and it can also make flares worse. It’s a vicious cycle. So be aware! I hope these tips are helpful for my fellow IC warriors/sisters!

<3 Anna

Friday Finds and Favorites #57

 Hello Friends!

The New Year has me excited about several things, but I’ll try to keep this post to a minimum. 😉 I love getting a fresh start at a New Year. I know many people create New Year’s resolutions and don’t always stick to them, but I feel that life is what you make it. Maybe that wasn’t the best resolution for you or maybe you weren’t ready to complete it…Who knows? The point is that you shouldn’t dwell on it in February when so many are ditching their goals. Perhaps you could use that time to create a more obtainable goal or you could shift to a word for your year. There is also the camp that just doesn’t make resolutions. They’ve failed in the past and don’t want to deal with that frustration again…This is understandable as well. Whatever camp you are from, don’t let the details bog you down. Find a way to make this year a good one for growth and learning!

On to my picks for the week! For my first two picks, I’m sharing two websites that are helping me with my New Year’s goals.

  1. Check out Healthy Habits Happy Moms! 

    I’m not doing everything from this challenge, but I’m using it as a guide for exercise, dietary suggestions, and self care.  The main reason I’m not participating in every activity is because I can’t do more strenuous workouts. I’m currently focusing more on yoga and walks for exercise.

  2. The 2017 Read Harder Book Challenge!

I’ve mentioned this a few times. So I won’t go into deep detail, but if you are interested in broadening your reading list this year, then you should definitely check out this challenge.

And to end this post on a cute note, I’ll share a few pics of Sasha and my new leggings. 😉

Now it’s your turn! Grab a button (optional!) and link up your posts with your favorite finds and memories of the week!

 

 



HAPPY Weekend! Everyone be safe and stay warm! 🙂

<3 Anna

Saying Farewell to 2016!

Hello Friends,

I hope you and your families had a great Christmas! I want to wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year! Today, I want to share my last post of 2016 activities. 2016 wasn’t a great year, but I’m happy that we were able to end it on a good foot.

On Christmas Eve, we had a lunch of Cornish Game hens, homemade macaroni and cheese, rolls, and brussel sprouts with bacon. I worked on lots of baking for the holidays and we enjoyed watching Christmas movies as well. Every Christmas Eve, we open one present which contains new pjs and comfy socks or slippers. We had peanut butter cookies for dessert. Yum!

We also had a hot cocoa bar. (We started this tradition last Christmas.)
Christmas Eve hot cocoa bar.
My sweet bug! <3

Christmas Morning is always exciting in the Leviner household and many households with littles. 😉 Declan was very eager to see his Christmas gifts. He received several books, two new movies, a Dr’s unform/kit, a trumpet, a music play mat, and Legos. He also received many goodies in his stocking. Stockings have always been my favorite. 😉

Christmas morning excitement!

Declan wasn’t the only one excited that morning! Sophie loves Christmas and loves receiving goodies in her stocking. Sasha also received a scratching post and two containers of kitty snacks. 🙂 (She just isn’t a fan of getting her picture taken. ;))

Christmas morning with my loves!
Dr. Declan was on call.

We ended the day with a delicious Tri-colore Pork loin with apples and potatoes and Patti Sweet Potato pie. (Be sure to go to Walmart and get one next year! They are so good and taste like you made them from scratch! ;))

Our church had our Christmas service the Friday before Christmas on Christmas Eve Eve. It was a beautiful message reminding us of God’s love for us and messages from our church always remind me that we are the hands and feet of Christ and that we can be used by God for a much higher purpose. We need only to listen and be a willing vessel.

The next morning, we left for VA and had Christmas with John’s extended family the first night. We had a dirty Santa exchange and I got a beautiful picture frame (Much needed!) and a gift card. John received a nice thermos set. I’m sad that I didn’t get any pictures during our visit with John’s Dad and stepmom. My phone was very dead during that time and service is terrible in that area. :/ We enjoyed quality time with family, many tasty meals, and wonderful gifts. I received some cozy socks and new necklace and Declan got a fun dinosaur, movie, and nightly devotional from his Granddaddy and Grammy. I’ll be honest, I can’t remember what John received.

On Wednesday, we headed to John’s mom and stepdad’s house. We met the Hershman crew at a very busy Chic fil a for lunch. It was so great to see them and catch up. We are hopeful that we will see them again later this year! The kiddos had a blast on the play place. Declan didn’t want to leave, hence, his face in this pic. 😀

Nonna and Papa gave Declan a Peanuts comforter set, workbooks, a Brain Quest phonics book, a Jake book, and a new Thomas movie. I received several beautiful jewelry pieces and John received a Legos set to play with D and new shirts.

We had a great visit! We played Uno, watched movies, and just enjoyed time together. John’s friend Dean joined us for some of the festivities. Did I say it was a great visit?! 😉

My boy
D playing in the leaves.

On our last morning, there was a dusting of snow on the ground and we were able to see snow flurries. There is just something so peaceful about watching snow fall. I’m thankful I was given some peaceful moments to sit and watch. Declan was hoping the snow would stick, but sadly, it did not. He decided to improvise and play in the great leaves in Nonna and Papa’s yard.

Sophie had a blast playing in the leaves too!

We love our VA family so much and was so thankful to see everyone! We missed seeing Michael, Rebecca, and our beautiful niece, Abby.  (As always, we missed sweet Oron.)

Declan’s thoughts on the New Year.

We arrived home on New Year’s Eve. Poor D was so tired that he fell asleep just before 7:30 and didn’t wake up until the next morning! John and I enjoyed good food and a classic New Year’s Frasier episode. We went to bed around 10:30/11:00 because we are old and tired. We woke at 1:00 am because Sasha was crying wanting to get into our bedroom where she is prohibited. We shared a belated New Year’s kiss and went back to bed.

How was your Christmas? Holidays? New Years? Sound off in the comments below. I always love hearing from my readers. 🙂

<3 Anna