A Child Update I Haven't Wanted to Write

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The kids each had their birthday's in August and I've been trying to write an update on them since then, but it's been hard. I like to be able to have some sort of positive spin to how all these trials are going to end up, and yet all I have are a bunch of lose ends, unanswered questions, and the thoughts of, "how did we get here?"

I'll start with Em because her's at the time seems easier to write about. She has two potential surgeries coming up. One in fact is happening, we just don't know when. When I was pregnant with Em we expected her to have lots of malformations on her physical body, and then she was born and everything checked out fine. About 6 months ago though, Derek and I noticed a growth on her "cha-cha" (word I use to reference female anatomy because I'm immature). We thought it would just go away, because at first it just looked like a pimple between her bum, and her other opening, and so we didn't mention it to a doctor. Eventually though, it started to get bigger, and looked like a very tiny male anatomy part growing down there, and so of course I freaked out and called the doctor. We're told for now, it's a skin tag, but eventually once she starts walking, and crawling on hands and knees, it's going to get rubbed a lot, and be sore, get infected, etc... 

Because of the sensitive nature of where it is, the surgery is actually going to have to be a lot more invasive then a simple snip. They'll have to make an incision, remove the skin tag, and then sew the area back up carefully so that they don't effect the rectum, or cha-cha areas. Recovery will likely be a little difficult since keeping that area clean and dry where she's constantly pooping and peeing is going to prove to be difficult, and I'm not looking forward to it happening, but know it needs to be done. The doctor is going to try and push it back as far as possible for us, but said he would let  us know when we couldn't push it back any longer. 

The next pending operation is potentially for her legs. I'm going to start off by saying that the need for this surgery is not because Derek and I took a month off of doing at home PT with her while we moved. I think I briefly mentioned this on the blog a few weeks ago, and didn't do a good job at making it clear that it's not our fault. Em has very stiff legs, and has for a long time. When she crawls, she pulls herself with her upper body, and lets her legs hang out behind her. She doesn't sit unsupported yet (although she can now hang out on her own while sitting on a stool which is AMAZING), and when she stands in her leg braces, it's mostly just standing with stiff legs, so her legs aren't getting a whole lot of bending and stretching action, which has resulted in very tight hamstrings. We have stretches that we're working on with her at home, she hates them, but if things don't start looking better in the next month, she may need a surgery to loosen her hamstring muscles, which they'll do by making micro incisions in her hamstring muscles to help loosen them. If this happens I think it would likely be in about six months since there are quite a few doctors and specialists we'd get bounced between before it happens, but it is something we're working to prevent right now. 

As far as Jay is concerned, I've got knots and pits in my stomach just trying to get the words out. Not that I'm scared for his life, because I'm not... you just never know how the internet will react to these types of things, and so I'm nervous for that. So be nice if you think you're a better parent than me. Jay has always had a very anxious personality, and has always had problems in social environments. I've talked at length about this in the past, and honestly I was a little heartbroken when there wasn't a swarm of other mamas there to say, "Hey! I've been there too!", in fact, I got comments like "wow, I've never had to deal with anything like that", or the obnoxious, "He's just shy", comments. But the thing is, all of this reaches so far beyond shyness, and is starting to turn into behavioral problems as well. 

So we're in the process of getting Jay  setup with a child psychologist who specializes in art therapy. Art has proven to be a great outlet that Jay has really taken to, and so we thought that this would be the best route for him. I'm hoping that it helps, or that it at least gives us some answers that we've been looking for, I'm not scared about what get's uncovered, because Jay has already proven to be a very capable child, hitting all of his necessary milestones, and thriving in his school work.  I know he'll be a high functioning adult, who will do great things, but if it turns out he's on the Autism spectrum somewhere, then it will just confirm a suspicion that I've had for basically the last two years. Do I hope my suspicion is in vain? Of course, but I won't be surprised if it's not. 

Finally, we took Jay to the eye doctor for a follow up to his eye surgery, Initially the surgery was a success in both eyes, and then they both started turning out, and then we did patching which fixed one eye, but not the other. We then patched for one more month, and then stopped for two to see where we were at, and it stayed the same, one eye fixed, but not the other. So we're in another holding period. The doctor said it was up to us if we wanted to do the surgery again or not, but it's such a small difference that Derek and I are the only ones who notice it, so we decided to opt out. We're keeping an eye on it, and if it gets worse, we'll of course do another one, or figure out something else that may work (currently exploring the idea of vision therapy), but until then we're just on the wait and see timeline. 

7 Things I'm Doing to be Healthier

Monday, October 17, 2016

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias Inc, and it's advertiser, all thoughts and opinions are my own. #V8Mornings #CollectiveBias

Over the last year or so, I've been really trying to focus on my health as a whole, instead of just pigeon holing myself and trying to be perfect at just one aspect. There have been times in my life where I've exercised for hours a day, everyday, but nutritionally, I was eating like a college frat boy. There have been other times where I've had a mostly vegan diet (in college where I mostly lived off of peanut butter and jelly burritos and the entire canned vegetable isle), and then there have been times where my mental health has been perfect (as a result of doing yoga for 12 hours a week and being at complete zen with the universe), but then physically and nutritionally, I wasn't perfect either. I've realized over the years that you can either be perfect in one area, and lack in another, or you can just strive for balance in all three areas and be content with whatever that looks like for you and your life. These are seven things that I've been working on to improve my physical, mental, and nutritional health.

Getting a Gym Membership: I talked about this a little bit in my morning routine post, but getting a gym membership a month or so ago has been amazing for my mental, and physical health. I started to realize that over the last year or so, I've lost a lot of muscle mass, and haven't been able to physically do things that use to be easy for me. I'm slowly working to build strength, and having an hour break from social media, parenting, and other life responsibilities, and having time to focus on just me, has been really rewarding so far.

Working Out at Home: A blogger I follow, Leanne, recently started sharing her daily workouts on her Instagram stories each night and they've been a good reminder that working out doesn't have to be super complex. She shares how she usually does 1.5-2 miles on the treadmill, and then some squats, push ups, and abs, and then calls it good. We got a treadmill for free from someone in our neighborhood over the summer, and seeing her workouts was a reminder that if I can't make it to the gym, I can still get an easy workout in when my kids are sleeping.

Making Veggies Part of My Routine: I'm a creature of habit. I love making small new habits that can impact my life over a long period of time. I really struggle to eat all my servings of fruits and vegetables in a day, but I've recently made the habit of having a salad with my lunch everyday, and it's been a great way to eat all of my veggie servings in one sitting. I just throw some romaine lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, a little cheese, and some diced lunch meat into a bowl, and I have two-three servings of veggies down for the day in one sitting.

Drinking V8® Veggie Blends: I've been a huge fan of V8® for years now. My son loves their V-Fusion line that has one complete serving of fruit, and one complete serving of vegetables per 8oz glass, and it's been an easy way to get some good added nutrition into him when he's had a picky eating day. V8® recently just added two new flavors to their Veggie Blends line: Berry Bliss, and Caribbean Greens. Each 8oz serving has one 1/2 cup serving of vegetables, and they're an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and E. I love that these juices are an easy way to make up some nutrition for the day if you're a little behind on your five servings recommendation. I also love that I can just pick them up at Walmart when I'm getting the rest of my groceries for the week. It's good for my mental health to not have to go to more than one store, and Walmart always has it all.

Unplugging More Often: As a blogger it's easy to get caught up on your phone checking e-mail, and social media all the time, or logging onto your computer to complete a random task real quick, but I've really been trying to make a big effort to unplug in the mornings before nap time, or in the late afternoons before Derek gets home. Instead, if I find myself reaching for my phone, I try to think of a chore around the house that I can do with that time instead, and try to get that done first. 

Reading More Books: In January of this year, I made a goal to read 50 books. I honestly did want to read more, but part of the motivation behind the goal was so that I would have more content to blog about. Come April it felt like just another thing I "had to do", and was feeling a huge burnout, and then when I quit blogging, I quit reading for a large portion of that time too. I recently started reading again, mostly chapter books to Jay as part of his homeschooling, but then I started wanting to read for myself again, and have really enjoyed filling up my time before bed with a book instead of my phone each night. 

Accepting Where I'm at in Life, and not Comparing: Social media has a way of showing you all the pretty pieces of life, and kind of filtering out the bad. I try to be as transparent as possible, but even on Instagram I curate my feed to be a collection of only the prettiest pictures. I often get so caught up in who is working with what brands, and getting what sponsored opportunities, or who is doing what remodel in their homes, and it starts to make me feel like my life, and the things I'm doing aren't enough. I've been trying hard lately to remember that everyone is at different stages in their careers, lives, families, and I have to just be confident in what I'm doing, and not worry about what that looks like for other people.

What are you doing in your life to be healthier? Have you tried the new V8® Veggie Blends flavors available at Walmart? Let me know in the comments below! 

Homemade Beef Vegetable Soup

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias Inc, and it's advertiser, all thoughts and opinions are my own. #WasteNoPaste #CollectiveBias

I feel like there haven't been many times in my blogging career where I've done a post for a product that has been truly life changing. But this one? I feel quite passionate about it. I don't know how it's 2016, and this is just now starting to be a thing, but it's revolutionary. 

How many times in your life have you gone to make a recipe that requires tomato paste? Most recipes call for two tablespoons, so you purchase that small can from the store, open it, scoop out the small amount you need, and then throw the rest away. Sure there are those on Pinterest with their ice cube trays telling you to freeze it in small portions, but I don't even own an ice cube tray, and I don't have my life together enough to be doing things like that anyways. 

Hunt's has just launched a new product called, Hunt's Recipe Ready "Pre-measure 2 TBS" Paste Pouches. Each box is about $2 at your local Walmart store, and each box comes with six pouches that have exactly 2 tablespoons in them, which means you never have to throw away the leftovers in the can ever again. Life changing things you guys, life changing. 

Now that the weather is cooling down, making soup doesn't seem like such a daunting task anymore. I love making large pots of soup at the beginning of the week, and then having it for lunch throughout the week. I decided to make a big pot of my favorite beef vegetable soup last week, and used these pouched for the first time, and was so giddy about not having to waste a single drop of tomato paste. 

1-2 pounds stew meat, browned and diced
32oz beef stock
6 beef bouillon cubes
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
1 24oz bag frozen vegetables
5 small red potatoes, diced
1 cup water

In a large pot, dice and brown your stew meat. Don't worry about cooking it all the way because it will continue cooking in the slow cooker. Toss everything else into the slow cooker and cook it on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Alternatively, after browning the meat, you can add all ingredients to the pot, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until all ingredients are cooked all the way through. 

What are you excited to make with the new Hunt's Recipe Ready "Pre-measure 2 TBS" Paste Pouches? Let me know in the comments below!


Easy No-Sew Crayon Halloween Costume

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias Inc, and it's advertiser. All thoughts and opinions are my own. #ScotchClothingEssentials #CollectiveBias

When we were in North Carolina, I had gotten a sewing machine for Christmas one year, and actually learned how to sew pretty well. I mean, I wasn't going to be the next Merrick White or anything, but if something needed to be hemmed or mended, I could typically get it done with ease. When we made our move to Georgia, I got rid of our sewing machine, which means any clothing projects I've wanted to do over the last year and a half, have been pushed to the side since I don't have a machine to do them on. 

I wanted to make a simple Halloween costume for Jay this year, and despite not having a sewing machine I was able to make this crayon costume with the help of the Scotch™ Essentials Permanent Hem Bonding Strips. For this crayon costume, I bought some felt (and the strips), from Walmart, and then used the strips to adhere the letters, and the hems of the costume together. 3M has a lot of different clothing products like their pill remover (which you'll need now that it's fall, and your sweaters will become fuzzy balls of death), and other hem tapes, and even white mark erasers, that you can all get at Walmart. 

We tried making these crayon costumes a couple years ago, but failed. I tried hot gluing everything together, and then when that failed, I went to run in through the sewing machine, and the glue was hard, broke my needle, and then I went to the store and bought a normal Halloween costume because it was the night of Halloween and everything was a mess. Luckily, I've worked out all the kinks, and now you can make a crayon costume too!

Colored felt (to use as the base of the crayon)
Black felt (for the stripes and the oval in the middle)
Letter cut-outs
Permanent marker

Go to dafont.com, and download the motor oil font. Then open a word document and write out "Crayon", adjusting the font size to how big you want it for your costume. When you have it set to the right size print it out, and then cut the letters out. Trace the letters right side facing down onto the felt, and then carefully cut out your letters on the felt. 

Cut out a large oval from the black felt, making sure that you have enough so that you can spell out "crayon" on there, and have enough room. 

Determine how much felt you need for the base of your costume by measuring the person who will be wearing it. Once you have the length and width determined, cut a hole for the neck, and then measure down a few inches, and then pin an opening for the arms. Once the arms holes are pinned open, line up the desired amount of Scotch™ Essentials Permanent Hem Bonding Strips, and use them to seal the hem for the rest of the costume. When you have your hems sealed, turn the costume inside out so that you don't see the raw edges of the hem. 

On the back of your black oval, attach four more hem bonding strips (one on each side), and adhere that to the middle of the base of your costume. Then cut the hem boding strips into smaller pieces to fit onto the letters, and then attach them to the black oval on your costume. Then cut two long black strips for the stripes on your costume, attach one to the top and one to the bottom, and you're done!

I love how easy it was to make this costume, and how anyone can make this costume since a sewing machine isn't required. What fun costumes can you think of making with the Scotch™ Essentials Permanent Hem Bonding Strips?

Pumpkin French Toast

Monday, October 10, 2016

By the time you're reading this, I've been in NY now for four or five days. Before we left, we had a bunch of things in the fridge that needed to be used up, one of which was some pumpkin puree. We also had a large loaf of bread that needed to be eaten so that it didn't turn to a green bag of mold before we'd gotten home. I figured the most logical thing to do at this point in the sacred name of October would be to make pumpkin french toast. 

Jay has been so funny about all the pumpkin things coming out of our kitchen the last few weeks. When I made pumpkin bread for the first time, and he carefully watched me put the puree in the batter, he said, "that's gross", and wouldn't touch the bread. A few days later he happily ate and loved it, but it took a while. A week later, I made a pumpkin pie, and he was not touching it for the life of him. During general conference I made this pumpkin french toast casserole, and he ate a few bites, but  it wasn't his favorite. Then last Wednesday when I made this pumpkin french toast, he was all about it. He happily made the batter with me, and then when it was time to eat, he was chowing down and exclaiming how delicious it is. Em even happily ate it without throwing a single piece on the floor, which  I always consider a gracious parenting win. 

Almost exactly five years ago, I made another pumpkin pie french toast recipe over here, but once again, the photography wins by a landslide with this post, so it was an update I was glad to do. 

3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger 
9 slices of bread

Preheat your pancake griddle to medium high heat, and spray with non-stick cooking spray. In a shallow baking dish, whisk together, milk, pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Then lightly dip each side of bread into the batter, and place on the griddle. Cook on each side for a couple minutes, until cooked all the way through without burning, and serve. 
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