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Sam's Club In-Club Pick Up FTW

This post is sponsored on behalf of Sam's Club, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 


If there is one thing you must know about me, it's the convenience will trump basically everything else in my life. If something is out of the way, or takes too long, the chances of it getting done are slim to none. That goes with grocery shopping too. A few years ago I used to have several memberships to a few different warehouse stores, but then stopped going because despite getting good prices on bulk items, the stores were typically way out of my way, and going all the way through those major warehouse stores for only one or two items seemed like a major pain.



We went a few years without joining any warehouse stores, and simply stuck to our normal grocery store, but over the last few months, I found myself wanting to get a Sam's Club card again. There were a few reasons for this:


1. Location: Where we currently live, all the stores are on one main road. This means when I need to go into town to get something, everything is within a half mile from each other. Previously  I would have to go three miles in one direction to get to one store, and then six miles in the other direction to get to the closest warehouse store. It was a pain with all the back and forth, but now that everything is on one road, it makes it a lot easier to get from one place to another.


2. Prices: If you know me, you know I have the stock up prices for basically every single household food and non-food item memorized from my couponing days. There are certain things at Sam's Club that you just can't get cheaper anywhere else. Items include: milk, fresh boneless skinless chicken breast, garbage bags, rotisserie chicken, diapers, wipes, etc... This may not be typical for where you live, but rings pretty true for us in the area of Georgia where we live.


3. Ease and Convenience: Sam's Club has an In-Club Pick Up option, which means that I can log into my computer at home, add all the items that I need to my cart, and then all I have to do is go into the store, scan my card, get my groceries, and then be on my way. It means that I don't have to wander through all the aisles in the store looking for the things I need, and it can be in and out of the club in about five minutes, and still have all the amazing prices on the items that I need. It's basically the easiest thing I've ever done, and I love that  it saves us both time and money.

If you're in the market for a new Sam's Club membership, be sure to head on over to their site where you can currently get $20 off the price of a new membership, and a $20 coupon book with purchase! 

How Over Nutrition Hindered Em's Development

If you've ever met Em in real life, then within the first five seconds of meeting her you probably exclaimed, "She is so tall!". Derek and I have always been baffled by her height as well because while I'm above average height for a woman at about 5' 6''+, Derek is only 5' 11'. Seeing as how we're not abnormally tall... having a child who was, has always been rather funny to us. 


Em was in the 100th percentile for height from about the age of one year, until about six months ago when she turned two and a half. Derek and I were talking the other day and realized that it seems like Em did all of her growing in between her first and second birthday, and then it was like she just all of a sudden stopped growing. 

We took her into the doctor yesterday because her "unexpected sick day" had turned into a full blown upper respiratory infection and so I figured while we were there we could talk about this growth issue as well. Em went from the 100th percentile in height down to the 70th, and she dropped from the 75th in weight down to the 60th. I'm by far not a medical expert at all, but one thing that I do know is that doctors don't like to see large drops, or spikes in the percentiles, and so I was obviously really concerned about this. 

He explained that he wasn't very concerned about Em dropping percentiles because visually when you look at her, she looks perfectly healthy, and isn't showing any signs up malnutrition. Her BMI is also in an acceptable range, which didn't throw off alarms either. He then asked if there had been any changes to her diet in the last few months and I mentioned that a couple weeks ago she finally gave up her nighttime bottle. 

While Em certainly needed that bottle for bedtime in terms of comfort and routine (and if you have a special needs child you know that trumps basically everything else), she didn't really need it nutritionally. Since most babies give up having a bottle at the age of one, Em had it for 18 months longer than most kids, and that bottle was basically being read by her body as "excess nutrition". Our Dr explained that a lot of times in kids when there is an abundance in nutrition like that, the body just reads it as a signal to grow taller and taller, which may have been what attributed to Em getting so tall after her first birthday happened. 

Our Dr then went on to say that kids who have poor muscle function like Em, can actually have a harder time being bigger and taller because it throws their center of gravity off and hinders their ability to learn new skills and develop at a consistent rate. Think of her as basically the Leaning Tower of Pisa, in toddler form. 

This totally made so much sense. I remember on Jay's third birthday, (one month before Em turned one), Jay, Em, and I were all playing at a friend's house when Em sat unsupported for 30 seconds on her own for the very first time. We were so excited that it happened, and thought that independent sitting would be right around the corner. As many loyal readers may know, independent sitting didn't happen for Em until this last February, 18 months after that 30 second sit we'd seen so long ago. And independent sitting happened right at the time that her growth seemed to be tapering off, and her bedtime bottle was becoming less and less of a nightly thing. 

I remember telling people so many times, "I'm pretty sure she could sit if her long legs weren't constantly in her way!" Do I think Em is going to magically get up and start walking now that her growth has calmed down and she doesn't have this excess nutrition? No, but I do think things will start to get just a little bit easier for her as she's learning to figure out and navigate her body. And if you've been following along on instagram, you know she's like thisclose to crawling, and that is pretty exciting. 

Breakfast Meal Prep| Turkey Bacon and Eggs

About a month and a half ago,  I bought a Groupon to try out Crossfit. I know a lot of people have their own opinions on whether or not Crossfit is amazing, or whether or not it should cease to exist, but I personally really love it, and have had such a positive experience with it. I in fact loved it so much that when my Groupon was over, I signed up to be a full fledged member of the gym, and will be doing my first Memorial Day Murph in just a few days. I can't wait.  


Once I got in a good exercise routine, I wanted to get my nutrition in check too, so I've started meal prepping all my breakfast, lunches, and dinners for the week so that I have good healthy food ready to fuel my body all week long. I usually prep food for four days, eat that all gone, and then make four more days worth of food. 

To make this easier on myself, I usually cook a lot of leftovers Sunday night for dinner, and then use those leftovers as my next four lunches, and then on Monday morning,  I make a ton of breakfast, and then pack that up for the next four days as well. I bought these meal prep containers on Amazon, and I love that they're dishwasher and microwave safe, and of course BPA free, so you can feel good about using them again and again. 

This is what I eat for breakfast basically everyday of the week. I don't need a ton of variation in the morning so I'm happy to eat the same thing again and again. Simply cook some yukon gold potatoes in a skillet, then the bacon, then the eggs, steam the broccoli, and call it good. It takes me about 20 minutes that first morning, and then it's just a matter of reheating the other meals for two minutes the rest of the week. Quick and easy.


Ingredients: 
1lb potatoes
Coconut Oil
Salt 
Pepper
8 slices turkey bacon
8 eggs
Lots of Broccoli


Directions:

Dice up your potatoes into bite size pieces, and then in a skillet over medium heat, add a tablespoon or two of coconut oil and then add in your potato slices. Cover the potatoes and let them cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally while you prep your other ingredients.

When your potatoes are done cooking, portion them out into your food prep containers, and then cook your turkey bacon in the same pan. Cook for about two minutes on each side, and then add them into your containers. 

Whisk together your eggs, and then scramble them to your liking in the same pan, and then add them to your food prep containers. 

Finally, cook a ton of broccoli. I do this by cooking the broccoli in a microwave safe container like this one, with the lid on and some water, and then cook in the microwave for five minutes, and then add that to the containers as well. 

These will store in the fridge for up to three days. If you make more meals than that you can store them in the freezer up to a month and then take out of the freezer and then put in the fridge the night before you want to eat it.

New Dishes For A New Kitchen

This post was written in collaboration with Re-Play, however all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

One thing that  I've been working hard to do over the last several months is to streamline our house to be full of things that we love, and use on a regular basis. This mostly means getting rid of things that we aren't using, and don't bring us joy, but also bringing products into our home that fit our lifestyle, and the space that we have for them.


Through the entire process of getting our kitchen redone, I've been collecting new pieces here and there, and getting rid of old kitchen items so that when the room is finished, it's just a really nice, pretty, functional, and organized space. One way that I've been doing that is by getting rid of all of our old mismatched dishes, and transitioning to new pieces that are not only pretty, but stack well in our cabinets. 

We ditched all of our newlywed dinnerware pieces for a new dinning set that  I really love and matches the aesthetic of our new kitchen, and I got the kids some new dishes to replace the ones that were five years old, literally falling apart, and always made a huge cluttered mess in our cabinet.


It should be no surprise to you by now that I'm obsessed with Ellie and Jared on Youtube. Ellie had mentioned in one of her videos that she loved the Re-Play brand dishes for her kids because of how well they stacked together, they were cute, and they held up really well. After hearing that I immediately Googled them to check them out and fell in love with not only their products, but the brand as well. 



Re-Play dishes are made from recycled milk jugs, which means that they're not breaking down or consuming other materials and resources to make their items. I also really love and appreciate that they're an American brand, manufacturing all of their products in North Carolina (and hello, you all know that I LOVE North Carolina). 

Most importantly though, I love their design. I love that all the pieces stack really well in my cabinet and don't make a huge mess, and I love how great their products are for young kids who are learning to eat themselves. The higher edge on the plates make it so much easier for Em to drag her food to the side of the plate and then use the edge to help prop the food onto the fork while she gets it to her mouth. They really are such great products.


If you're wanting to get some awesome Re-Play dishes for your family, you can use the code TheHappyFlammily2017 through 5/26/17 to get 15% off your entire purchase of $20+. Also, be sure to enter the giveaway on my Instagram where one lucky winner will get one complete feeding set in a color of their choice!

An Essay on Mental Health

May is apparently mental health awareness month. It's also something that hits really close to home for me. I've wanted to share this a few times on the blog, but the words never came out right, or it felt like bad timing, but this month I've felt a little voice in my head saying share, share, share... And so I've sat and thought a lot the last couple weeks on what I could possibly say that could benefit someone, or what I could say to be inspiring. As I sit here and write, I honestly don't know where this post is going to take me, but starting is always the hardest part, so here I go. 


I've battled with mental illness for the last ten years of my life. Ten years ago there was a little voice in my head that went off and said, "you need to do X, Y, and Z to be better, to be more, to be liked... to be loved." I've had thoughts for what seems like most of my life that I am not enough, that everyone else is better, and that I will never measure up. 

In high school this manifested  itself as an eating disorder. There is a preface to this that does need to be cleared up though. I was very overweight in middle school and the beginning of high school, and most people think that my eating disorder started as me wanting to lose weight, and that was not the case. Despite being overweight, I was a very active kid. All through middle school I did cheerleading and played soccer, and then in 9th grade I did those same sports, along with track and tennis as well. The very last day of ninth grade, I started my period, puberty began,  and then I finally hit a growth spurt. That combined with living a very athletic lifestyle, I slimmed down really fast. Over the course of one summer I'd lost about 20 pounds and grew several inches, and then started at a new high school, and was essentially an entirely different person than I was just a few months prior. 

It was after that massive growth spurt, and slimming period though where I felt like I would do anything to never be that overweight person again, and  I would do, be, say, try, anything to make sure it didn't happen. It took me a long time just to even realize that I wasn't an overweight kid anymore. Despite being in smaller clothes and being several inches taller, I still thought of myself as the dweeby overweight kid that got picked on a lot. On top of all these thoughts raging through my very limited 16 year old brain, I was at a friend's house one day when a boy from our high school came over to her house, and told my friend that he thought I was fat. So even though I was wearing size zero jeans, I let this kid who I hardly even knew dictate how I felt about myself. 

So from there is what started a long period of over exercising, cutting calories, and taking laxatives to make sure that I always stayed in this bubble range of what  I thought was an acceptable body or physique to have. I would go to track practice after school having only eaten about 500 calories for the entire day, and then would go home and jog a couple more miles through my neighborhood. On the weekends I would go and hangout with friends, and eat and do whatever they were doing, but then would go home and take a bunch of laxatives to make it seem like the entire weekend never happened. 

And so this has been the struggle and battle that I've dealt with on and off for the last 10 years of my life. There have been times where it was worse than others. Probably peaking the most around the time that Derek and I got married, dropping 15 pounds in just a couple months to make sure that I fit in what I thought should be the perfect size for my wedding dress. After we got married things were pretty fine, and we got pregnant (by choice), pretty quickly, and I had no problem gaining weight during my pregnancy, and then I lost the baby weight with minimal effort after delivery, so there really wasn't a problem then either.

Then we moved to North Carolina, Derek was working nights, I was finishing my associates degree and staying home with Jay during the day and things became stressful. That, and feeling threatened in my circle of mommy friends for the "smallest mommy" title began the cycle of running and cutting calories all over again. Then we moved to a new town and I became pregnant with Em, and again had a pretty easy time gaining and loosing the weight and never felt like I had to do anything extreme to lose anything more. 

What I wasn't expecting to happen though after having Em was a wave of post partum depression that hit about six months after she was born, and then I never felt like I'd truly snapped out of it until about a year ago. She wasn't sleeping, Derek was doing his MBA, we hated the house that we moved into in Georgia, our landlord was a nightmare, we were dealing with doctors, and therapists, and bills galore, and I truly felt like I was a spectator in my own life. Like I was somehow in a fog, and I could see Derek and the kids having fun and laughing, and having the greatest time ever, and I for the life of me could not laugh. I didn't understand why they were laughing, and I couldn't personally feel happiness, despite how desperately I wanted to. 

Then in March of 2016 I went to Time Out For Women in Raleigh with my friend Sammi, and stayed at her house for the weekend. We were driving around in her car, and talking about things and I'd asked, "Do you ever feel like everyone around you is happy, and having an amazing time and laughing, and then you're just standing there watching and for the life of you, you just don't get it?" She'd told me that she'd personally never felt that way and then it hit me that I had post partum depression. I didn't even know I had it, or how long I'd been there, but it was just a culmination of one thing after another and another that I guess just lead up to me finally verbalizing it and realizing what I was feeling for what it truly was. 

About a month after that trip to Raleigh, I started to be able to slowly come out of it, but it wasn't an overnight process. Our lives are still stressful, we don't know what one day will bring from the next, but I've slowly been able to find peace, to find rest, and to find refuge in things that bring me joy, and to eliminate the things that don't. My kids are getting older which means that in as much as each passing day brings a stage of life that I won't get back, it means that they're both getting older, they're both communicating more, their needs are being learned, and therefore met a lot more easily. Em isn't as medically fragile as she was in the beginning. She can sit unsupported, which brings my life both ease, and joy. It opens more opportunities for her to learn, grow, and develop faster than she previously could. I find myself hearing my two kids playing together, and the corners of my mouth turning out towards a smile more and more. I was telling Derek just tonight, our kids bring me so much joy. And it feels so good to be able to say that truthfully, and not just as something that I'm supposed to be saying in a cliche Instagram post. 

One thing that I've thought about over and over the last several months, where it seems my life is on this perpetual upward track of recovery from mental illness is this: I will always have a mental illness, it is a part of me. I will always have tendencies where I feel threatened and want to revert to old habits and coping mechanisms, but I also have agency, and I have a choice. Every morning I have to make the choice if I'm going to have a mental illness that day or not. I have a choice of whether or not I'm going to eat breakfast. Whether or not I'm going to love my children for who they are, and not for who I want them to be. I have to choose whether I will physically pull myself out of bed, brush my teeth, and get the day going. One thing that I've learned though is that once you choose those things once, it gets easier to choose them again, and again, and again. There is hope, strength, and empowerment that comes with mental illness, but it comes when you're able to make that first step, reach out to that one person, and have them help you to be accountable. And if you don't have someone to be that person for you, you can always reach out to me. 

A Sweet and Simple Last Minute Mother's Day Gift

Mother's Day is one of my favorite holidays. As much as I love being pampered and waited on for the day, I love reflecting on the special privilege that I have in being a mother, and all the prayers and faith that it took to get our babies here. Parenting is hard, but it is the greatest thing I've ever done. I love being able to watch my kids learn and grow. I love challenging them, and seeing them blossom through their own difficulties. 


That's why on Mother's Day, I personally love getting gifts that remind me of my children, and the phase of parenting that we're in right now. My dear friend Jaye recently sent me these beautiful silhouettes from her shop, Sweetheart Silhouettes, and I love how well they capture Jay and Em, and the stage of life that we're currently in. The best part? They're only $5 each, and can easily be tucked inside a Mother's Day Card, and will surely help give mom all the warm fuzzies about her little ones.


The design process is really easy, and I love how helpful Jaye was during it all. To create your picture, you just need to take a profile view image of your child(ren), and send it on over to Jaye. She does all the work in creating the silhouette, and then you get to pick the background that your images are set upon. I got this adorable floral print for Em, and a triangular modern print of Jay, and I think that they capture both of their personalities really well!

To get these in time for Mother's Day, send Jaye a message on her Instagram account, and she'll help take you through the entire process. Last day to order in time for Mother's Day is Wednesday 5/10/17, so start taking your pictures now and you can have a lovely gift for mom on her special day. 

An Unexpected Sick Day


For the most part, Em has always been a pretty healthy child. There are many kids with her diagnosis that spend a lot of time in and our of the hospital, and luckily, that has never been the case for Em. Derek and I frequently joke that she has an iron immune system because at ago two and a half, she has still never had to be on antibiotics, unlike her brother who is more familiar with them than I would like. Em has only been sick a small handful of times, but when it happens, things escalate a little quickly. 


Last year when we were in Idaho for Derek's sister's wedding, Em came down with an innocent cold, that resulted in her getting congested, and throwing up every time she went  to eat. This meant that over the course of 30 or so hours, she hadn't eaten anything, and thrown up whatever happened to be left in her stomach from the previous day. She quickly became dehydrated and we had to take her into the hospital on the morning of Maurcine's wedding to get her IV fluids and help her fever come down. And as you can imagine, I missed the wedding.  This happened the one other time she had a bad cold too, and it's basically the worst experience ever. I wish I could be trained to administer IV fluids so that I wouldn't have to head into the hospital whenever this happened and I could save time, and a huge hospital bill. 



A couple nights ago we were on the phone with Derek's mom when his parents asked how that kids were doing. I said, "Great! Em  has basically slept the last 24 hours, which has felt like heaven!" For anyone who knows Em, sleep isn't her strong point, and Derek's mom was quick to tell me she probably didn't turn into an amazing sleeper, she was probably coming down with something... And sure enough the next morning we were barreling full steam ahead towards a full blown head cold. 

I've been trying to stay on top of it the best I can so that it doesn't get out of control and involve a hospital visit. We have essential oils running in her diffuser, and are administering them topically to the bottoms of her feet, and we're trying to stay on top of her water and food intake before things get too bad so that she has something substantial in her stomach should things go south before too long. 


Em loves all things in a pouch, so we've really been loving the new Gerber Smart Flow pouches that we found at Kroger yesterday afternoon. The lid is made with this new Smart Flow technology that helps the food come out of the pouch slower to make feeding easier for little ones who are still trying to figure out how the whole "Self Feeding" thing works. I've loved being able to let Em take it easy on the couch while watching a couple shows, and sipping on one of these. Each pouch contains a complete serving of fruit, and one complete serving of vegetables, so it's a sick day snack I can get behind to ensure she is getting all the right nutrients that her little body needs. 


And if you need me for the next 36 hours, I'll be doing all sorts of Indian, tribal,  voodoo dances in our bedroom to make sure this cold, and whatever else is going on peaces out in a timely manner that doesn't involve me cleaning up vomit and changing bed sheets. Prayers and good vibes appreciated.