Three 31


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Finish This #29

WELCOME TO WEEK 29 OF FINISH THIS!!!!!

Your co-hosts are LISA (COASTLINED), JEN (The Arizona Russums), BECKY (The Java Mama) and NICOLE (Three 31). The link up instructions are simple: answer the prompts on your blog. Then, add the post to the collection list using the link below. Next week’s prompts are located at the bottom of this post.

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1. I add spice to my life by
using Sriracha sauce. Sparingly. Or adding jalapenos to cornbread or homemade guacamole. I also add wasabi paste to soy sauce when I eat sushi. I don’t like foods really spicy, but a little to enhance flavors is okay.

2. Bacon is
proof God loves us and it’s best cooked low and slow in a cast iron skillet. Sure, baking it in the oven is less mess, but there’s nothing like that sizzlin’ sound on the stovetop!

3. The perfect meal
is shared with friends and/or family and always includes homemade dishes made with love and fresh ingredients! Speaking of which, who wants to come over for a meal? I’m in the mood to cook and socialize.

4. My favorite food to grill is
pork tenderloin, burgers, chicken, and shrimp. Basically, I like to grill just about anything!

5. I beat the heat by
staying indoors as much as possible. If that’s not an option, I find a shady spot and drink LOTS of water. Or go to my friends’ house and use their swimming pool as if it’s my own – it’s really great having friends with benefits!

Now it’s your turn. Answer these prompts in a post on your own blog and join the link up! Come back next Wednesday for another round of Finish This where we’ll answer the prompts below!

Prompts for WEEK 30 (July 30) are:
I like wearing
My most memorable style was
I dress to impress when
The best style tip I ever received
Three wardrobe staples in my closet
Three words that describe my style


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Seven. { Kamden’s SEVENTH MONTH update }

We are closer to Kamden’s first birthday than the day he was born. I’m not sure how I feel about this realization. What happened to my itsy-bitsy teeny-tiny baby?

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GROWING // That itsy-bitsy baby boy is now my Mini Man Child! Kamden’s routine well-visit and third round of vaccinations were yesterday - somehow our scheduling got off because he’s seven months old at his six-month appointment, not sure how that happened – and he weighs 20 pounds and 9 ounces and is 27.5 inches long. Goodness, he’s a big boy! He is currently in the 90th percentile for height. Yay for my tall son! As usual, Husband and I made our weight and height predictions before the appointment and let’s just say it’s my turn to buy fro-yo. :)

EATING // Eating is Kamden’s most favorite thing to do, second only to sleep. He still gets my pumped breast milk via bottles, six ounces every 3-4 hours. Ten days ago, he woke up at 2:30am for a super early morning feeding and every day since he has gotten up around this time to eat. He’s frustrated because he wants to sleep, but his belly is empty. As soon as he finishes the bottle, he’s asleep for another 5-6 hours. We’re still introducing homemade purees but the kid just wants breast milk. If I’m able to get a teaspoon of puree in him, it’s a major success. I’ve tried giving him milk then a bite of puree, but he gets fussy and shuts his mouth tighter than Fort Knox until I offer the bottle again. He’s just not that interested … yet. When he is ready for purees, he’s got an entire produce section waiting in the freezer:

  • apple
  • avocado + banana
  • avocado + spinach + kale
  • peach + banana
  • blueberry + peach
  • sweet potatoes
  • green peas
  • carrots
  • oatmeal

I made my own version of oatmeal cereal but, like the rest of the purees, Kamden’s not interested in it either. I could have easily purchased ready-made cereal, but the stuff is too processed and making it is simple. I ground organic whole oats and organic steel-cut oats into a fine powder using the food processor. I added one cup of the powder mixture to three cups of boiling water and cooked for 15-20 minutes, whisking constantly. After the oatmeal cooled a bit, I poured the mixture into ice cube trays, the same method I’ve used for all of the homemade baby food I’ve made thus far. About four hours later, I emptied the cubes of oatmeal into a freezer-safe Ziploc bag. I’ve introduced oatmeal to Kamden three times — plain, with peaches, and with sweet potatoes — and he is not interested in any of it. We’ll try again later. My next adventures for Kamden will be homemade popsicles made with breast milk and a mesh baby food feeder that he can hold and feed himself. In other exciting, food-related news: Kamden is sitting in a high-chair. This thing has been in its original shipping box, propped against the dining room wall, almost a year and we’re just now getting putting it to use. Kamden looks so big and grown up in his new digs, don’t you think?!

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WEARING // Kamden is still wearing size 24 month onesies and 2T tops and bottoms. We’ve been putting him in pajama bottom pants and a short-sleeve T-shirt at night because we keep the house fairly cool and his legs were getting cold. He’s wearing size 2 diapers but size 3 are in the closet ready to go as soon as we finish the last box of twos. His swim diapers are size 3-4. My friend and fellow blogger, Sarah, sent Kamden the most adorable and funny T-shirt. Its message sums him up perfectly:

I didn’t choose the CHUB life; the CHUB life chose me.

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DOING //  Classes at The Little Gym are going great. Kamden is always smiling and “talking” to the other students and parents. He loves to socialize like his Momma! The weather finally got warm enough to enjoy the swimming pool. The first time we went the water was too cool and Kamden was not impressed, but now he’s a big fan! I bought this pool float and he loves it. Plus, it provides a bit of shade and even has toys attached. I’ve even caught him snoozing a couple of times … this kid LOVES being in the water!

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THE CHEEKS // THE DIMPLED KNUCKLES // THE BIG LITTLE HANDS
For all I know, he is sound asleep in this photo too!

Kamden attended a few nights of Vacation Bible School (VBS) at church and got a T-shirt, even though it’s way too big! As usual, everybody was glad to see him as we visited the different stations and activities. Kamden will be an “official” participant when he’s two but will be a mini-participant until then!

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While he is not completely mobile, Kamden is exploring and adventurous in his Joovy Spoon walker. We chose this particular walker because it has a really wide base and a large tray area. I’m not concerned about Kamden tipping over or pinching his fingers either. Right now, he can maneuver on the tile in the kitchen and hardwood floors in the living room and entry with ease. He has even discovered drawers next to the dishwasher, decorative towels hanging on the double-oven door handles, and windows next to the front door. He doesn’t realize he is mobile, but he’s sure on the go all the time!

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LOVING // Swimming, jumping in the Exer-Saucer, sitting in his new high-chair, exploring in the Joovy walker; sitting up unassisted, watching Daddy build block towers and knocking them down (over and over and over again); being outside; sleeping and eating; naps on the couch with Mommy; having a soft blanket against his face; and yelling real loud, especially during church!

Husband and I are trying to keep the toys to a minimum and Kamden doesn’t seem to mind. He loves his bucket of blocks, a set of cars that make noise, singing train, and an activity board that detaches from a walker he’ll use later on. He’s easily entertained in the Joovy walker or Exer-Saucer and he’s just as happy and content sitting on the floor too. When he showed lots of interest and enjoyed holding the groovy balls at The Little Gym, I purchased a set for home. He can easily grab and hold on to them and he’s able to chew on them as well. We try to practice rolling the balls back and forth, but once he has them he doesn’t like to share! Kamden is also a fan of empty water bottles.

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LOATHING // Immunization shots (who likes to get shots anyway?!)  and baths

Since getting his six-month vaccinations yesterday, Kamden has not been his usual happy-baby self. He’s sore near the injection sites on both legs and sleeping more, even by his standards. He does not have a fever, but it’s obvious his body is working overtime to ‘digest’ these vaccinations. I think the weekend will be filled with extra naptime, Mommy’s Milk, and cuddles.

Bath time, unfortunately,  has gone from a fun, playful, relaxing, enjoyable experience to get in, wash the important parts, and get out as quickly as possible. Kamden wants to stand up, which makes it difficult to keep him stabilized and safe from banging his head off the tub wall (which he has done twice, oops!), and when we make him sit down, he shows some serious attitude. Even though the Duck Tub is ridiculously adorable, it’s not functioning as well as we had hoped. We’re going to try another tub and see if it works any better, because bath time should not be this stressful! By 8:15-8:30 each evening, Kamden is extremely tired and ready for his bottle and bed. While Husband is getting his bottle warmed, turning on the video monitor, and finding a pacifier, I am feverishly applying lotion and dressing a squirming, fussy, hungry, and tired Little Dude. Our nighttime routine used to last about an hour, now it’s less than 30 minutes!

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RED, BLOTCHY SPOTS // Kamden has irritation around his neck (most likely from excessive drool and breast milk) but a red, blotchy rash recently appeared behind his knees. We keep the areas clean and dry as best we can but Doctor J (his pediatrician) wants to try a couple of things: 1) hydrocortisone cream on the neck and behind his knees and, 2) eliminate all SOY from my diet. According to new research, eczema (skin rash) can appear on young children due to a food sensitivity. The most common food sensitivity in babies is cow’s milk, but I have a severe allergy and know – without a doubt – that my breast milk does not contain dairy. The second most common food sensitivity in babies is soy. Due to my dairy allergy, my diet is heavily laden with soy products, especially soy milk, edamame, and soy yogurt. Asian cuisine is one of my favorites and it contains the most soy – go figure! All of this makes perfect sense because I was diagnosed with eczema after Kamden’s birth. I’ll share more about my soy elimination diet and Kamden’s reaction/progress in another post, stay tuned!

SUMMER BUCKET LIST // We made a summer bucket list last month and we’ve been busy trying to get as many items crossed off our list as possible!

  • Go swimming
  • Attend Vacation Bible School
  • Watch fireworks on July 4 (from afar, of course) SEMI-SUCCESS! Our neighbors had fireworks and it sounded like they were recreating the Battle of Gettysburg most of the night, but thankfully Kamden was sound asleep and not bothered by the loud booms.
  • Travel to Kentucky via airplane for family reunion
  • Taste a juicy watermelon
  • Blow bubbles This happens every week at The Little Gym and Kamden LOVES watching bubbles dance around him! We also blow bubbles in the evening while walking around the house or sitting on the front porch.
  • Go to the public library for story time
  • Cool off at the local Splash Pad
  • Ride a train
  • Have lunch with Daddy
  • Grapevine Aquarium
  • Perot Museum in Dallas
  • Make bath paint with shaving cream and food coloring
  • Enjoy a popsicle

Cheers to Month #7, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us!


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5644

Five. Six. Four. Four.

This number represents a major accomplishment (and blessing) in my breastfeeding and pumping journey. On May 19, I became an official donor at the Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas, and, as of July 1, I have donated 1,353 ounces of breast milk. Not too bad for someone who didn’t know milk donation existed until a few months ago!

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I belong to several mom groups on social media and get a lot of questions about breastfeeding, pumping, and donating. My experience with the Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas (MMBNT) has been nothing short of spectacular and I am always encouraging lactating women to consider donating if they have an abundance of milk. Women cannot lactate forever but the need is incredibly great, so every precious ounce counts! As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I wanted to breastfeed at least six months with a long-term goal of one year. I had no way of knowing in the days following Kamden’s birth just how BLESSED and ABUNDANT my breast milk supply would really be. I can assure you, though, there were many days when I felt like I could not produce enough milk to get through his next feeding so never – EVER – give up hope! Here we are today and Kamden is healthy and my supply is showing no signs of slowing down.

My journey to becoming a breast milk donor actually came to fruition after a conversation with a mother whose daughter was born prematurely and spent several months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU. It’s a miracle the child survived. The mother, who suffered medical complications herself and did not produce sufficient breast milk, credits the incredible medical staff and donated breast milk for her daughter’s turnaround. During this conversation, I mentioned my well-established milk supply and explained how I was producing a lot more milk than Kamden was consuming. I had so many bags of milk stored in the freezer, I was running out of space! She shared her daughter’s birth story and mentioned how grateful she was for the Mother’s Milk Bank and women willing to share their “liquid gold.” At the time, Kamden was three months old and I was very hesitant to donate the only source of my son’s sustenance. Honesty, I was afraid to give my stored milk away worried I might stop producing. More like better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it kind of situation. However, I promised her that I would keep the milk bank in mind. Three weeks later, I met another NICU Mom and director of the NICU Helping Hands organization when I donated my wedding dress for the Angel Gown program. The reality that some babies never leave the hospital is heartbreaking, but by donating my wedding dress, volunteer seamstresses repurpose the materials and create beautiful burial gowns. As soon as I delivered my wedding dress, I visited MMBNT. I collected as much information as I could about the registration and donation process and left with a donor packet and budding friendship with the outreach director, Simone. We talked over an hour during that initial visit and I went home with a sense of purpose and calling to become a donor. This might sound strange to some, but when I learned I was pregnant in May 2013, one of the first things I had to do was cancel my travel reservations to Haiti for a third mission trip. While my heart was full of excitement and anticipation for our baby, a piece of me felt deflated for giving up an opportunity to serve others in need. A year later, almost to the day, I made my first donation to the milk bank. If that’s not God saying “Trust me, I have other plans for you.” I don’t know what is! So, while I am not in the position to serve on international mission trips, I am sharing my abundant breast milk supply right here at home with babies in need.

To become a donor, the process is simple but very thorough — it includes:

  • a brief interview with the donor coordinator
  • a questionnaire about the overall health of the mother and child(ren)
  • health forms signed by mother’s OB and child’s pediatrician — this was the easiest part because I didn’t have to do anything!
  • blood test to screen for diseases — provided at NO COST for milk donors!
  • lab analysis of breast milk to determine calorie and protein values

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Don’t let Kamden fool you, just look at those chubby cheeks!

Once the MMBNT received the results from my blood work, they analyzed a sample of my donated breast milk. Turns out, there is a scientific reason behind Kamden’s chubby cheeks. My breast milk contains:

  • 21 calories per ounce (average is 20)
  • 3.61 grams of fat per ounce (average is 1.3)
  • 0.98 g/dL protein (average is 0.30)

My calorie count is above average and universally accepted at NICU departments across the United States, but take another look at the fat and protein numbers. My milk’s fat content is much higher than average, which is great news for NICU babies with delicate tummies and explains Kamden’s chunkiness! Even more astounding, and also beneficial to the NICU babies, is the high protein content. In addition to my milk being highly coveted for its high fat and protein, it is also completely dairy-free and caffeine-free. Overall, my milk is very desirable and in high demand. In other words, Simone likes to see me come in with my bags of frozen milk and her favorite chunky man!

May 2014 // Kamden and Simone, the milk bank's donor coordinator.

On April 30, I made my first contribution to the milk bank by donating 367 ounces (50 bags) of my breast milk. Less than a month later, on May 22, I donated another 367 ounces (50 bags) and also toured the processing facility. When a registered donor brings her breast milk to the bank, it is immediately labeled with their donor ID number, last name, and, if applicable, stickers to identify special needs (i.e. low dairy). Then, it is measured (by weight) and stored in a freezer until the lab technicians are ready to process.

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Milk Bank Tour-4 Milk Bank Tour-3

The processing lab is a cross between a pharmacy, dairy operation, and blood bank. Lab technicians, dressed in aprons, hair nets, mouth covers, and gloves thaw frozen donor milk, perform thorough spectroscopic analyses to determine nutritional values, and pour the milk into specially-designed, tamper-proof bottles before being pasteurized. Each bottle contains 100 milliliters, or approximately 3.3 ounces. Once pasteurized, the small bottles are placed in the freezer and ready for distribution to hospitals and NICU departments. Because my milk is in such high demand, it is usually processed the day I deliver to the milk bank and sent to hospitals within 24 hours.

I know my pumping and lactating journey will eventually end, but I am incredibly proud to be a donor at the MMBNT and part of NICU babies’ success stories. I doubt it will ever happen, but I would LOVE to meet a parent whose baby was nursed back to health because of my donated milk. In the meantime, my Medela pump and I are going to continue doing what we’ve been doing now for six months together and collect as much milk for Kamden and the milk bank!

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For more information about becoming a milk donor or volunteer opportunities, contact Mother’s Milk Bank of Texas online or call 817-810-0071.


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Finish This #28

WELCOME TO WEEK 28 OF FINISH THIS … your co-hosts are LISA (COASTLINED), JEN (The Arizona Russums), BECKY (The Java Mama) and NICOLE (Three 31). The link up instructions are simple: answer the prompts in a post on your blog. Then, add the post to the collection list using the link below. Next week’s prompts are located at the bottom of this post.

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1. The only thing standing between me and this pair of shoes is

shoes

NINE pounds. I’ve been exercising almost daily and the soles of my gym shoes are wearing thin. I need a new pair, but I don’t want new kicks until I’ve reached a mini-milestone. My goal for the month of July, or before I leave for a trip home to Kentucky, is to lose 15 pounds. As of today, I have nine pounds to lose before I will “treat” myself to these shoes. I have to admit, stepping on the scale each week is frustrating beyond measure because, though I’m losing inches like crazy, I’m not losing weight. If I am completely honest and transparent here, I am probably NOT going to lose the weight I want while breastfeeding and pumping. Here’s the thing: my milk supply is too good to start jacking with my diet and water intake. I’m going to continue eating good carbs and protein, especially organic whole oats, fruits and vegetables, yogurt, and drink water like a fish. On average, I drink 200 ounces of water a day. That’s more than a gallon and a half. So, not to sound like a broken record or make excuses, but I’m sure some of the “scale number” is water weight.

2. I don’t have to be perfect to be
Husband’s wife or Kamden’s mommy. I’m doing the best I know how and that’s all I can expect of myself. There are days when I feel like I’m going to collapse in exhaustion, but then I look at these two men in my life and thank God for my blessings and renewed strength to keep pressing forward.

3. I would improve self-serve checkout lines by
installing a machine smart enough to know my item is in the bag area even though it weighs less than an ounce. Here are 19 more reasons why self-serve lines cause my blood pressure to rise, yet I still use the damn things!

Now it’s your turn. Answer these prompts in a post on your own blog and join the link up! Come back next Wednesday for another round of Finish This where we’ll answer the prompts below!

Prompts for WEEK 29 (July 23) are:
I add spice to my life by
Bacon is
The perfect meal
My favorite food to grill is
I beat the heat by


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10 Things I’m Loving Right Now

sunday

This is Kamden ALL. THE. TIME.
\\ photo source //

Physically, I am not where I want to be (yet) but I will remember these truths this summer!

I might splurge on these for Kamden.

If you are a mom, you need to read this.

Moms of boys unite!

I love yellow squash fried and dipped in ketchup, but I’m trying to eat healthy and fried foods are not on the approved list. This is a great compromise though!

I need this bracelet.

I’m obsessed with gallery walls and want to create one in our living room.

This month, I’m participating in the #NOEXCUSES fitness challenge to complete 75 miles in 31 days. After Day 9, I have 25 challenge miles complete!

I’m not a mom-fail after all.


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Finish This #27

WELCOME TO WEEK 27 OF FINISH THIS … your co-hosts are LISA (COASTLINED), JEN (The Arizona Russums), BECKY (The Java Mama) and NICOLE (Three 31). The link up instructions are simple: answer the prompts in a post on your blog. Then, add the post to the collection list using the link below. Next week’s prompts are located at the bottom of this post.

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1. For July 4, I celebrated by …
Spending the day with Husband, Kamden, and my in-laws and, later that evening, had dinner with friends. This year, Fourth of July also included the great LEMON PIE DISASTER. I had made lemon cakes before, but I had in my mind that lemon PIE was Husband’s favorite dessert. So, being the Wonderful Wife I am, I went through family heirloom cookbooks, talked to several matriarchs with stellar baking abilities, and combined three treasured recipes for the perfect SURPRISE gift for Husband’s birthday. Even though I could not eat the pie (as it was full of rich and creamy milk products), I was really proud of how it turned out. It was definitely Southern Living magazine material. But, when I revealed my surprise and Husband said, “I don’t like lemon pie, I like lemon cake.” my heart sank. WHAT?!?!?! I picked my jaw up off the floor, disappointed of course, but served it anyway. Husband’s parents and oldest brother LOVED the pie and raved about its deliciousness. I sent it home with them, along with the tub of Cool Whip I forgot to serve in all my excitement. Rumor has it the pie did not last until lunch the following day. Despite Husband’s reaction, at least I know I have a successful lemon pie recipe in my arsenal if I need one in the future. To redeem myself as an awesome and amazing wife, and to comfort my bruised ego, I made Husband a lemon CAKE for his birthday, which was Sunday. He doesn’t like icing or glazes, so I simply made him a lemon cake. Nothing fancy, nothing elaborate, just a few essential baking ingredients and the juice of two lemons. The cake turned out beautifully and Husband was a happy camper on his birthday.

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2. My go-to cosmetic product is …
30 SPF sunscreen. I wear it, religiously, every single day. I was 21 when a dermatologist removed a mole off my back he suspected to be melanoma. Thankfully, lab results came back negative but it was a HUGE wake up call for my idiotic self. I wore sunscreen as a small child but during my teens being tan was cool and it was inevitable as a competitive golfer. I admit, I used to spend time in tanning beds too. Playing golf all day every day and rarely, if ever, wearing sunscreen took a toll on my body at a very young age. I had an awesome tan but, in the long run, it was incredibly stupid of me to risk skin cancer, especially with my family’s history. Nowadays, I’m as white as Casper the Ghost and I don’t mind at all. It breaks my heart to see women (especially young girls) use tanning beds because I know, first hand, the danger they are putting themselves in. Public Service Announcement: WEAR SUNSCREEN — EVERY DAY, ALL YEAR LONG!

3. I am inspired by …
women. Black, white, rich, poor, Christian, Muslim, married, single, corporate ladder climber, mother, short, tall, fat, skinny, it doesn’t matter to me! I’m inspired by women who, in their own way and along their own life path, inspire and encourage me to be a better woman, wife, mother, friend and human being.

4. The best relationship advice I received was …
never date someone you wouldn’t marry. I was six years old when my great-grandmother, Nannie Edwards, told this one-liner to my older cousins but I took the advice to heart! Husband is the one and only guy I’ve dated and I knew, immediately, that he was The One. I took Nannie’s words quite literally and did not waste my time with a guy I wouldn’t marry. I knew what I wanted and I waited, ever so impatiently at times, for our paths to cross. And boy what a ride it has been!

5. When no one is around, I tend to …
eat. A lot. It’s no secret I’m an emotional eater. If I’m happy, I want to eat. If I’m sad, I want to eat. To me, food is love and one of my “love languages” is to love myself, and others, through sustenance. Unfortunately, I don’t always eat for nourishment. One of my biggest struggles is portion control and stopping when I’m full. I eat every meal like it’s my last, as if I’ll never eat again. The struggle is real, folks.

Now it’s your turn. Answer these prompts in a post on your own blog and join the link up! Come back next Wednesday for another round of Finish This where we’ll answer the prompts below!

Prompts for WEEK 28 (July 16) are:
The only thing standing between me and ____ is
I don’t have to be perfect to be
I would improve ____ by


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SPLISH SPLASH // Kamden’s First Dip In The Swimming Pool

Summer 2014 has officially begun … Kamden has dipped his little toes in the swimming pool! Thanks to the Zachry’s, who live in the country club neighborhood with access to the clubhouse and pool, Kamden and I joined them for a morning of swimming and splashing. Actually, there was less swimming and splashing and more Kamden holding my shirt with a seriously tight grip! The water was a chilly, as we were there early in the morning and the shallow end of the pool is shaded. I brought the pool float for Kamden, sat him in it, and a second later he was not happy. So I held him. Eventually he kicked his legs and put his hands in the water.

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Now that warmer temperatures have arrived to North Texas, I expect the pool’s water temperature will rise quickly in the next few days and weeks. In between fitness classes at my gym and Kamden’s weekly class at The Little Gym, we have to have more pool days. We’re blessed to have friends with country club connections, as well as others with pools at home. Hopefully, when the water gets warmer, Kamden will enjoy being in his float. It has a detachable shade so he won’t have to wear the hat, which he is not a fan.

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