Monday, April 17, 2017

My Baby Butterfly

My Baby Butterfly
Written By Renee Arbia

Last week we had a big thunder storm. Nothing that we are not used to, you see we live on the southern coast where we frequently get storms. There is the spring storm season, and hurricane season. The spring season is light rain and thunderstorms. In fact, I actually love this season. During storms, I love to open the window, and hear the rain on the porch. You hear it on the roof, on the chairs, and on the concrete. When the winds get heavy, I eventually have to shut the window, to keep the rain from getting in. 

We have been excited to get out more for family fun, now that Imogen is more alert. She has an excitement for life that is so amazing to watch. She loves to laugh and does so often. She is always smiling, so much so that we actually call her “smiles”. She adores her big brother, and Xavier adores her. I think my favorite thing in the world is watching them play together. They laugh at the same things. They love to be together, and they even get on each others nerves. They are buddies for life. I can already see them whispering and plotting together how to over throw us.

It is always challenging traveling with two kids. Trying to figure out who to strap in first, who to get out last, it can be confusing. Every time we go out it takes us a very long time to just “go”. Inevitably, someone still has to potty or a diaper needs to be changed, or it’s time to nurse again. We are just starting to get our time down and be able to take advantage of the beautiful weather and go on adventures outside. Imogen has such an amazing and infectious personality. She is incredibly rambunctious and does not like to sit still very long. She has figured out how to move and she apparently has places to go. Her Shakespearean name is very fitting to her seeing as “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” I have always known that she is a warrior. Her strength and determination inspire me.

We have received such a wonderful response from Imogen’s special Against All Odds. If you have not seen it yet here is the link. Against All Odds: An Inspiring Story of Hope and video

here is the link to Imogen’s Birth Story. Many of you have sent us amazing messages of love and light, and we could not be more thankful. This whole experience has been very amazing, and humbling to us. Imogen’s pregnancy was a big storm for our little family to go through. These past nine months with her in our arms every day, although tough and challenging, have only been a beautiful rainy season. We decided to do the news special for Turner Syndrome Awareness Month, it also aired on World Rare Disease Day. Turner Syndrome is part of the Rare Disease community.

When Imogen was diagnosed with Turner Syndrome I was only 18 weeks pregnant. We kept it a secret for many reasons, one of which was because I was afraid of labeling her, especially before she was even born. I could have used my blog platform to be an early advocate for Turner Syndrome, but I did not. When she was born we could not help ourselves from announcing our little miracle. In a time of negativity, sharing our story about our sweet miracle seemed the right thing to do. I wrote her birth story when I felt I had recovered my mom brain enough to write it. We then decided to do the news segment to help her future Turner Syndrome Community.

It is a hard decision when your child has special needs how to decide what to say. Do you stay quiet about your child’s diagnosis in hopes that they will blend in with the world? Or do you let them know all about their diagnosis and let it be a big part of who they are? Seems to me there are two very different decisions. I do not think either is right or wrong. I think each child is different, and their decision should be distinctly about them. We decided to tell because we feel we are advocating for her and being her voice. We are confident she wants to celebrate her birth. She wants to see and do so much, and she is such a strong personality, that we know that this little butterfly not only wants to find her other butterfly sisters, but she wants to help them out in any way she can so that they can have the most amazing journey together.

Butterflies have always been our family symbol of love. Every time we see a butterfly we are always saying it is a sign of love. When we learned of Imogen’s diagnosis and we searched Turner Syndrome, we immediately noticed that their symbol was a butterfly. We knew at that moment that we were blessed with a butterfly in our little family!

Since our story has been so public we have had the honor of meeting so many butterflies from right in our own town to even other countries. We really appreciate connecting with everyone and hearing your stories. We hope to be able to use our platform for the good and to help advocate for Turner Syndrome and the Rare Disease communities in any way we can. 

These past nine months with Imogen have taught us so many things but especially that the strong can weather the tougher elements and can see a more beautiful place.
We hope our story will inspire others to share their stories of love!

#TurnerSyndromeAwareness, #TSAwareness, #VIBImogen, #ShareLove, #Rare, #NextGenerationSAHMBlog

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Against all odds: An inspiring story of hope

We did this special on our local television station for Turner Syndrome Awareness month. It aired on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 in honor of World Rare Disease Day.

We hope to raise awareness, research and funds to help these amazing girls. Please consider sharing our story and donating to the Turner Syndrome Global Alliance.

There were many lonely nights where we would wonder if we would ever get to meet our daughter. I would scroll the internet looking for positive stories and found very few. We hope to encourage families to believe in hope and trust their hearts because miracles happen every day. Thank you for visiting our page and watching our story.

Against All Odds: An Inspiring Story of Hope

#TurnerSyndromeAwareness, #TSAwareness, #VIBImogen

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Tune In for Turner Syndrome Awareness

Tune In for Turner Syndrome Awareness

We are finishing up Turner Syndrome Awareness month with a bang. Our local NBC affiliate television station is doing a special report on Imogen called “Against All Odds” reported by the talented Chelsea Donovan. It is airing on World Rare Disease Day to help spread awareness for Turner Syndrome and Rare Diseases. We ask if you live in our area to tune in on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 at 11pm to WECT TV6, if you live out of the area we hope to be able to put the link up from the news website.

We are spreading awareness for more research and discoveries, for more girls finding other girls just like them, and for helping families be able to support their girls mentally, emotionally, physically and financially.

 There are 10 choices below, pick one and please do it for awareness, BONUS if you want to do all 10! Use whatever platform you have for the good and please help spread Turner Syndrome Awareness!

1)      Change your profile picture to our ribbon or a picture of Turner Syndrome. 

2)      Share a Turner Syndrome story (Imogen's Birth Story)!
3)      Share the TSGA Donation page!
4)      Tell people about the amazing butterfly girl you know or just heard about!
5)      Watch Against All Odds Tuesday, February 28th at 11pm on WECT TV6
6)      Advocate for healthcare for disabilities
7)      Wear a butterfly on your person, when someone compliments you, tell them about the amazing butterfly girl you know!
8)      Donate to the Turner Syndrome Global Alliance or another Turner Syndrome organization
9)      Mark your calendar for next February 2018 to raise the awareness again
10)   Be sure to #TurnerSyndromeAwareness your social posts

 #TurnerSyndromeAwareness, #TSAwareness, #WorldRareDiseaseDay

Monday, February 13, 2017

Get Dinner Done With Green Chef

Get Dinner Done With Green Chef

Written By Renee Arbia

Sponsored By Green Chef and Moms Meet
I received this product for free from Moms Meet (, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet Blogger, I agree to use this product and post my honest opinion on my blog. The opinions posted are my own.

Our winter calendar has been swamped with lots of things to do, and finding time for work, kids, cleaning and cooking has been very challenging. I was more than happy to get some help in the kitchen and jumped at the chance to try out Green Chef, the new meal kit delivery service.

Green Chef is a USDA-Certified Organic meal kit delivery service with pre-measured and largely prepped ingredients, including homemade sauces and marinades. The kits come with easy-to-master, chef-crafted recipes that use fresh, seasonal ingredients from suppliers in about thirty minutes. They have two person plans and family plans for four people. They also offer Carnivore, Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Paleo and Vegan plans and each kit comes with two meals for the week to feed either two people or four people in the family plan.

Our Green Chef kit that I chose was the Omnivore Family Plan. Our kit came right on time and everything in it was fresh and cold. I was able to open it and put it in the refrigerator right away. The first dinner that we decided to make was the Chicken Cassoulet.

Chicken Cassoulet is a traditional French dish that is great for wintry nights. We pan seared chicken thighs and baked them with cremini mushrooms, carrots, garlic, cannellini beans, crushed tomatoes and a breadcrumb topping. For the side dish of this dinner a baby kale salad with radishes and a Honey-Dijon balsamic vinaigrette.

The directions are very specific and even have pictures to help you a long the way. The only things you may need are salt, pepper, cooking oil and any pans and bowls. Most of the ingredients are already measured and chopped. Some things needed some chopping but the measuring is all done. You follow directions and it works great!

I have never heard of Chicken Cassoulet, but we found it incredibly filling and hearty. My four year old son liked it and even loved the kale and radish salad with the salad dressing. I thought it was a good amount of food.

The second meal we received in our Green Chef box was Veggie Quesadillas. We make quesadillas a lot in our house. In fact we have a quesadilla maker so I was eager to try out a new recipe. The Veggie Quesadillas came with a lime-dressed slaw and rice in a cilantro-scallion sauce. The whole wheat quesadillas are filled with Monterey Jack cheese, plus red bell peppers, pinto beans and corn that has been seasoned in a paprika-cumin spice blend. These were very easy to make like most quesadillas. I loved the flavors that were added in them. This was also a lot of food for a family of four and everyone devoured it all very quickly!

Green Chef really was great to have all the ingredients and recipes on my doorstep right when I needed and expected them. They have really delicious recipes that you can easily make any time you want. Some of the other family dinners that they offer are Thyme-Roasted Chicken with cauliflower-white bean mash and roasted veggies, Tuna Tostadas with Spanish rice, jicama, mango salsa and pickled peppers, Ginger-Tamari Steak, spinach, cabbage, pad Thai noodles and peanut sauce and Greek Veggie Pitas with sweet potato fries, couscous, hummus, feta and olives.

Green Chef offers culinary delights delivered to your door and made easy to learn how to cook. It’s great to eat delicious culinary masterpieces suited to you and your family’s dietary guidelines. Green Chef is easy to use and even change plans or deliveries when you need to. Feel free to go on their website and check out their delicious menu!

Sign up today using our special Next Generation Stay At Homediscount code link here and get $50 OFF your first Green Chef box!

To find out more about Green Chef check out their website and their social media pages.

 Don't forget February is Turner Syndrome Awareness Month, Check out my blog post on 10 Ways to Spread Awareness for Turner Syndrome and remember to spread awareness!

#MomsMeet, #GreenChef, #sponsored, #mealdeliveryservice, #reviews, #cooking

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Turner Syndrome Awareness Month

Turner Syndrome Awareness

Written By Renee Arbia

It seems like winter has been flying by so quickly. Our little butterfly, Imogen is now almost seven months old and is growing like a weed. She is now 18 pounds and 22 inches long. She is great in the weight department, but already showing up small in the height department. This is very typical of Turner Syndrome girls. 

Women with Turner Syndrome typically are just less than five feet tall. If Turner Syndrome is diagnosed early growth hormone shots can be given every night to help the body grow. Ideally, girls start growth hormone shots from around two to three years of age. Many girls are diagnosed at the age of nine when puberty has not started. Turner Syndrome is a chromosome disorder where either all or some cells are missing the X chromosome.

There are a lot of different issues with Turner Syndrome. Girls have to be checked often by many doctors. Heart and kidney issues along with hearing and visual issues are very common among girls with Turner Syndrome. The good news is that the majority of medical issues that may arise can all be solved if found early. 

Turner Syndrome is a chromosome disorder that is extremely rare. In fact only 88,000 cases are in the United States. Many more things need to be discovered about this disorder. There are many women and girls who may have it, but have not heard about it and do not know the signs.

Turner Syndrome Awareness month is just that. Spreading awareness about a disorder in order to help other women and girls get checked for it. We are spreading awareness for more research and discoveries, for more girls finding other girls just like them, and for helping families be able to support their girls mentally, emotionally, physically and financially.

The Turner Syndrome Global Alliance directly helps families of girls who have Turner Syndrome. They make sure they receive the care and therapies that they may not be able to afford. Denise Culin is the founder of the Turner Syndrome Global Alliance and was inspired by her daughter to start this organization. The Turner Syndrome Global Alliance  are the voices for a patient and parent perspective as they seek collaboration with scientists, researchers, and doctors to ensure that Turner Syndrome research and resources have meaningful outcomes. 

The month of February is Turner Syndrome Awareness Month. We are asking YOU READING THIS to please help spread awareness. There are 10 choices below, pick one and please do it for awareness, BONUS if you want to do all 10! I know you are busy and you are asked a million times a day to do something for somebody, but all I’m asking is a voice for these tiny girls who just need to be seen. Use whatever platform you have for the good and please help spread Turner Syndrome Awareness this month!
Please help spread awareness for Turner Syndrome this month by doing some or all of the following!

1)      Change your profile picture to our ribbon or a picture of Turner Syndrome for the month of February. 

2)      Share a Turner Syndrome story (Imogen's Birth Story) once a week this month!
3)      Share the TSGA Donation page once a week this month!
4)      Tell people about the amazing butterfly girl you know or just heard about!
5)      Ask others if they ever beat a 2% odd? Then tell them about the tiny little girl who kicked that odd!
6)      Advocate for healthcare for disabilities
7)      Wear a butterfly on your person once a week. When someone compliments you, tell them about the amazing butterfly girl you know!
8)      Donate to the Turner Syndrome Global Alliance or another Turner Syndrome organization
9)      Mark your calendar for next February 2018 to raise the awareness again
10)   Be sure to #TurnerSyndromeAwareness your social posts

Be sure to share Imogen’s Birth Story on your social networks!

I will be constantly reminding you this month about Turner Syndrome Awareness because it is time to spread awareness for our little butterfly, Imogen. Please feel free to copy, paste, and share all my information and be sure to make sure it benefits Turner Syndrome Global Alliance.

The Turner Syndrome Society of the United States is also a wonderful organization and we will be talking about them later in the month!

 Feel free to give Turner Syndrome lots of love this month! 

#TurnerSyndromeAwareness, #NextGenerationSAHMBlog, #Imogen

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Welcome 2017

Welcome 2017
Written by Renee Arbia

Xavier playing Legos with his cousin

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. We had an awesome Yule and Christmas this year. We were excited to celebrate as a new family of four (See Imogen’s Birth Story) after the tumultuous year with Imogen’s pregnancy, and getting used to a newborn in the house. Imogen hit five months right in time for the holiday season. We had a parenting happy sweet spot that was best celebrated during the Christmas holiday. We were lucky to be able to have a lot of family visiting this year to see Imogen and get to know her better.

Xavier and Imogen had fun visiting with their cousins

I have to even admit Christmas is not my favorite holiday and sometimes I find it hard to get in the spirit. However, this year was really easy. Xavier is four now and loves everything to do with the holidays. He thoroughly enjoyed Christmas and showing Imogen everything there is to know about his favorite holiday. 

 We are excited for the New Year. We have a lot of fun changes in store, new things to do and learn about on the horizon. It is amazing to have my daughter finally here after so long. We are having lots of fun celebrating her. I love watching her and Xavier play together. She smiles and lights up whenever he is near. He simply adores her, and cannot stop smiling at her, or playing with her. I catch him making goofy faces at her, and she is laughing all the time. I have a hard time changing her diaper because he plays peek-a-boo behind me. She never naps, because the moment she hears or sees him she is awake and ready to play. It makes my body exhausted but my heart so very full. I have not written much lately because I have been soaking in my life. I love just breathing and watching my family. Since Imogen has been born even more people have reminded me that having two young children at home is a blessing and it is very short lived. I am making sure to soak up all the time I can with them.

I hope you got the New Year off to a good start. We look forward to bringing you more fun, inspiration, recipes, Green Living tips, product reviews, and tricks for your parenting life in the coming year! Follow us on all our social media channels to stay up to date!

Happy New Year!

#NextGenerationSAHMBlog, #inspiration, #2017newyear

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Ideas for an Epic Holiday Family Get-Together

Ideas for an Epic Holiday Family Get-Together
By Christine Hill

Nothing is better than getting the whole family together to spend some quality time during the holidays.

However, it can also be a monumental undertaking. Planning food, entertainment, and accommodation for everyone takes time and stress. You want to be able to enjoy the holiday and actually spend time with your family, but if you’re the host, you probably spend most of your time running around like a chicken with your head cut off instead.

Well, there’s only so much you can do to keep your stress reined in during this time of year. But here are a few tips and ideas that I’ve seen be wildly successful in the past. So, if you’re planning a huge family get-together, read on for some inspiration. And then, share your favorite tips and ideas below!

Have a Kids’ Zone

One of the hardest things about a family get-together is making sure that the entertainment and activities will appeal to all ages. However, your job will get a whole lot easier when you realize that not everything needs to appeal to everyone at the same time. There will be times when the old folks want to just relax with a book or talk about old times, and the kids are bound to get restless and whiny over it.

Curtail the family tensions by providing a fun playzone and outlet for the kids. You can have an area set up that’s entirely dedicated to kid’s activities. Here are some ideas:

  • Paint and accessories to make pet rocks
  • Holiday handicrafts like paper snowflakes and popsicle stick reindeer
  • Costumes
  • Holiday stories and activity books

You might also designate a few older kids or adults to take special time to direct activities for the younger kids. Think about setting up a nativity play for them, or ask a senior member of the family to read to the kids out of your favorite Christmas treasury. You might also have a few adults in charge of snow activities like sledding and building snowmen.

Record as Much as Possible

Amazing memories are made when family gets together. Come prepared to record and document what goes on. You’ll probably want to have a camcorder for talent shows or special moments from the kids. But what I’ve found really handy in the past is handheld audio recording equipment for the late-night talks. That’s when the old stories and memories come out of grandma and grandpa, and you’ll want to record those reminiscences for the future. Handheld recorders don’t have the same pressure that a video recording does, and you can be inconspicuous and record long measures of time. You can get an audio recording with your phone, but sometimes it’s worthwhile to invest in a quality recorder that will pick up the subtleties of sound and cut atmospheric noise.

Do a Secret Santa Gift Exchange

Getting gifts for everyone during a holiday family get-together is just way too much. And the thing is, no one else wants to deal with that many gifts either. They’re difficult to transport and they drain the bank. Instead, pick names out of a hat ahead of time so that everyone is getting a gift from someone at the get-together, but you yourself aren’t in charge of putting together something thoughtful for every blood relation you have.

Bond with Some Awesome Branded Apparel

It might seem like going to extremes for just a family get-together, but if your family is like mine, it’s a monumental event when we get everyone in the same place. And nothing makes a memory quite like customized apparel. T-shirts or hats are the old favorites, but don’t feel too limited. You could also get bags, water bottles, flashlights, or other cool items. Challenge someone in your family (or a couple people) with design chops to put together something more than bare text.

Custom apparel has a few great functions. First, it’s a keepsake that your whole family can cherish and flaunt. Secondly, it creates unity in the family right from the get-go. Thirdly, it can help if you go out somewhere to always spot the members of your family (this is especially handy if you’ve got a lot of little ones running around). Last of all, it can make a great Christmas present.

Ask Everyone to Help

The best way to keep the task of planning a family get-together from becoming too stressful is to balance out the responsibility. Ask smaller groups to take charge of portions. For example, one brother can handle Friday’s dinner plans and another can take care of Saturday morning breakfast. Ask family members ahead of time to prepare something for a talent show that you’ll have one night. Ask someone to take charge of a venture to drive and see the Christmas lights in the area. Although it might feel like a cop out at first to spread the responsibility around, it makes for a better experience for everyone! When people participate and are all involved in making something great, they’re more likely to have a good time.

How about you? What kind of great ideas have you seen done for family get-togethers? 

Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in all its forms. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from human psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas

Happy Holidays everyone! We hope you have a fun, safe and loving holiday with your family. Today's post is a guest post from our good friend Christine Hill. 

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas
By Christine Hill

Christmas season is in full swing, and I am loving it. I hate winter with a vicious passion, and watch the shortening days with dismay, but Christmas actually makes the month of December worth it. (January is a completely different story, but we won’t talk about that right now.)

Here’s the thing about Christmas: while we’re putting up decorations and organizing parties and gifts, sometimes the holiday starts to feel a little fabricated or hollow. Going through phases of really good Christmases, and others where I felt adrift and alone, I’ve gradually noticed that there are a handful of things that are undeniably “Christmas” to me. Things that make it feel genuine and familiar. Things I just can’t do without during the month of December. Everyone’s list is different, but these are the things that make it feel like Christmas to me, instead of just looking like it.

The Smell

When I was a kid, my mom watched way too many episodes of Rescue 911. I fully blame this show for robbing us of real Christmas trees each year. I mean, how many episodes about Christmas trees going up in flames do you have to show, Rescue 911? In any case, we switched to a fake tree when I was about 8, and I missed the smell of evergreen in the house after that. To me, that smell is one of the signatures of Christmas. Just for the record, it’s pretty simple to prevent Christmas tree fires. This article here is a great guide. But, if you’re someone who prefers fake trees, that’s fine. I found my peace with fake trees when I started having to vacuum up fallen needles. Here are some natural ways that you can still make your home smell amazing:

  • Simmer some cinnamon and orange peels in water on your burner
  • Bake something delicious
  • Collect cedar and pine cones filled with resin from outside, then put them by the door so the smell wafts in with each exit and entrance
  • Get a natural wreath
  • Make an easy, natural air freshener out of cloves piercing an orange

The Coziness

Another thing about Christmas is the coziness factor. Even in southern California where I grew up, the December chill would sink into your skin, and it was my favorite thing to bundle up in response. Seriously, is there any feeling more delicious than thawing your feet by a heating vent after coming in from the cold? That’s why every December heralds a tribute to coziness in my house. That means:

  • Those amazingly soft blankets from Costco
  • Super warm double-layered socks
  • Special Christmas pajamas

I like to drape pretty blankets and cushions all around my house so that every seat is a perfect place to cuddle, and change into my pajamas absurdly early.

The Lights

Twinkle lights! Oh man, another favorite thing about the season. I love seeing stores and businesses deck out their shop windows with lights, and I love when towns decorate main street with light-wrapped trees. Going out with a car full of kids to enjoy the Christmas lights in the neighborhood is a favorite December tradition. This year I’m wrapping white twinkle lights and garlands around the columns on the front porch of my new house. In order to keep the decorating smooth and joyful, instead of stressful and hazardous, remember to follow safety guidelines. Here are some other ideas to keep your Christmas front yard decorations festive and safe.

The Giving

If you’re not feeling the Christmas spirit, it might be time to change your focus. Make it your goal to enter into the spirit of giving, of generosity, patience, and friendliness. Here are some ideas:

  • Sub for Santa
  • Organize a food drive for families in your community
  • Find a way to serve seniors in an assisted living community near you
  • Strike up a friendly conversation with whoever’s next to you in line at the store
  • Bring hot chocolate to homeless people in your city
  • Send a personalized thank-you note to someone who’s helped you in life
  • Call up an old friend

One of my very favorite Christmas moments was among total strangers, at the Post Office. It was crowded, and everyone was obviously trying to meet some Christmas deadlines. It would be so easy for tensions to run high. Instead, there was an unmistakable spirit of generosity. One mother seemed harried, trying to keep two rowdy children in line. Instead of getting annoyed at the noise, another woman distracted the children with a toy she’d found in her purse while the mother went to the front desk. When an elderly man started getting frustrated by the self-service kiosk, a college student in line behind him stepped in to help. When my credit card simply wouldn’t work and I was about to break down in tears, someone else stepped in and paid for me to send my parcel. Every potentially stressful situation during the holidays can be turned into an opportunity to show others generosity and genuine kindness.

How about you? What are the characteristic things that make it feel like Christmas to you? 

Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in all its forms. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from human psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon.

#nextgenerationsahmblog, #guestpost, #christmas


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