New Beginnings

I woke up this morning to snow. The weather man told me yesterday that snow was not the forecast, but the dainty white balls of fluff have been falling continuously outside my window. I do not mind though, snow is clean, it is refreshing, it’s pure. Snow has a way of washing away all that is dirty outside my door and making it new again. Today I need new.

I have suffered with anxiety and depression since I was in high school, but for awhile there I thought I had it under control. My anxiety attacks became fewer and farther between, and when I did have one it wouldn’t take an ativan to make it go away. But over the last year and a half that has not been the case.

Depression has a way of coming in waves. For a long time those waves were small, and I could easily jump over then without my head fulling submerging into their depths. Lately the waves have been coming bigger and bigger though, I can no longer jump over them, they make me feel like I can’t breath.

Maybe my depression is situational, it’s been a hell of a two years after all. Maybe it’s not. What i know is that I cannot handle it on my own anymore. I want to feel better, to be a better mom, a better wife, a better friend. Right now, I can’t do any of those things in the way I want to or need to. I have no energy to clean, to play with my kids, to enjoy moments with my husband. I am on the verge of crying 98% of the time. This is not normal, this is not sustainable. I’m officially waiving the white flag, I’m surrendering, I’m starting therapy.

It’s a big step for me, my one and only therapy experience in the past was less than helpful, and probably actually a tad bit unethical. But I know I cannot to do this on my own anymore, so I have to call in the big guns. I do not want to go on medication, the thought of it makes me cringe, but honestly at this point I’d have a lobotomy if they recommended it. I just want to be me again.

So with all that said I apologize for the lack of posts over the last week. I know I do not owe anyone an explanation, but at the same time I feel like I do. I also feel an tug to be fully 100% honest in this blog. I want to be transparent. And I do not want to ever lead anyone to think that I am a perfect Pinterest post of a mom. I’m real, I struggle a lot, but I also do what I have to keep going.

So here’s to admitting my flaws, to picking myself back up, and knowing when I alone cannot fix the problem. Here’s to new beginnings.

Sick Day Soup

We just finished our second week in a row of having a house full of sick kids. First it was a nasty respiratory virus, and then a stomach virus made its rounds as well. This past weekend was filled with a lot of snuggles, many loads of laundry, and too many bodily fluids than I would care to recount.

We all know that with a virus there isn’t much we can do to speed along the healing process, rest, snuggles, lots of fluids, and bits of food are generally all we can do to help. When my kids are sick like this I find myself struggling to get something, anything, in them that will bring some nourishment without upsetting their little tummies more.

And so I give you my feel good soup. It’s simple, healthy, and tasty while not packing with too much flavor (to help keep the tummies at ease). But it feels good going down, I find that it’s just what my littles call for on days such as these.

Feel Good Soup

1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lb stew beef, cut into bit size bits
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 quarts beef broth
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup of rice, uncooked
Parsley to garnish

In a 3qt dutch oven place olive oil, stew beef, and garlic. Brown on medium high heat for 2 minutes. Add water, worcestershire sauce, and salt. Bring to a boil on medium high, then lower to simmering. Cover and allow to simmer for two and a half hours. Add uncooked rice, stir, recover and allow to simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is tender and cooked through. Garnish with dried parsley and enjoy.

 

 

6 Reasons I Love Plant Therapy Essential Oils

The following post my contain affiliate links.

 

Over that last few years I have had a love/hate relationship with essential oils. I love the way they (well, most of them)  work, that they are natural, and don’t require a doctors visit to get my hands on. But I hate how expensive they tend to be, researching which ones were safe to have in my home, and always seemingly having to go to a friend or sign up to sell with a company in order to get a product that was worth my money.

Not anymore folks, not anymore.

Last year while looking up affordable diffusers on Amazon (because really, who can afford to pay 85.00 for a diffuser) I came across Plant Therapy essential oils and I was intrigued. I figured I might as well try them, and y’all I’m telling you my world was changed.

Plant Therapy is now my favorite, and currently the only essential oil company I use in my home. Here’s why:

They have a kid friendly line.
One of the things that I have the most trouble with when it comes to essential oils is that many of them are not safe to use with kids. This means that because I diffuse many oils all around my home I need to be extra careful with every oil I use. But what mom really has time to sit down and look up each and every essential oil? Not me! Plant Therapy to the rescue! They offer a Kid Safe line of essential oils in both singles and what they call synergies (mixtures of different oils to help with different ailments). This means I can focus on what best will help my kids, without worrying about it hurting them too.

They have something for everything.
Eczema? They have a synergy for that. Sniffles? There is one for that to. There are also synergy’s for calming, sleeping, paying attention, bug shield, even head lice. Seriously if you can think of it, they have a synergy for it, and that is awesome.

They really work.
Now let me start off by saying that I have not tried every oil and synergy that Plant Therapy sells, but I have tried a lot of them. And each one I have tried has done what it says it will. I love to put the A+ Attention on Addi when she goes to school, or even on me when I want to reign in my own (self diagnosed) ADD. The Sniffle Stopper is my go to as soon as we feel a cold coming on, and I diffuse the Nighty Night every day in our home. We still get sick, but I have noticed our illnesses are a lot shorter in duration when I am diffusing Immune Boom as well.

They are inexpensive.
A 15ml bottle of lavender essential oil retails for 28.00 from DoTerra and 30.92 from Young Living. That’s a big investment! But with Plant Therapy you can get a 30ml bottle of lavender essential oil for only 14.95, and a 10ml bottle for 6.49. And it’s not just lavender, every essential oil single and synergy I found with Plant Therapy was shown to be significantly cheaper than the counterparts from other companies. As a mama on a budget I can really appreciate Plant Therapy for making an affordable product I can enjoy.

They come in all sizes.
I’m going to touch base on the mom on a budget thing once again here, but if you are anything like me you like to buy things in bulk. There is nothing I hate more than going to put oil in my diffuser and suddenly being out. I love, love, love that with Plant Therapy you can buy oils in sizes ranging from 10ml to 100ml. You can even buy pre-diluted rollers of your favorite oils! Now I do not need every oil in 100ml bottles, but for the ones I use every day this definitely comes in handy!

I do not have to attend any parties, or hit up my friends to make an order.
My last, but definitely not my least favorite reason why I love Plant Therapy? They are not a direct sales company. Do you know how nice it is to be able to go to a companies website and order a product without having to sign up as a seller? Or not having to hit up your friend or attend a party just to get some product?  It’s awesome, that’s what it is. Thank you, Plant Therapy, for allowing me to not have to socialize in order to buy my oils. Seriously, you rock.

What I Want For My Children

Photo credit to Yellow Spot Photography

Today something is going to happen that I honestly never thought possible. As a nation we are going to swear a man into office who has zero political experience beyond the campaign he just finished, has already broken or twisted several promises he made during that campaign, has built himself a reputation as an amazing business man even though six  of those businesses have filed for bankruptcy, and wants to continue to tell us that celebrities have no business putting their voice into politics when he is a walking talking embodiment of that ideology. He ran a campaign largely based on loud voices, vague platforms, fear, racism, and hate. And today we will swear him in as the President of the United States.

Today I look towards our nations future, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t apprehensive, I have spent a lot of time praying for this country and this planet we call home. I’ve prayed for the individual I do not like at all, and for all of the people scared of what the next four years will hold for them and their families. And one thing I have gotten out of my prayers is that although our countries future is uncertain, my dreams for my children’s futures are not.

I want my children to grow up to be hard working, motivated individuals who stand up for what is right, even if that means standing alone. I want them to find love, happiness, and friendship free from restrictions of race, religion, or gender. I want my children to know that others do not have to look like you, believe like you, or love like you in order for them to be accepted. To be defended. To be protected.

I want my daughters to be paid an equal wage for equal work, I want them to be able to wear what they want without fear of being assaulted and told they had it coming. I want my son to know that a woman’s place is beside him, not behind or below him.

My children are my life, my heart, and my soul. I want them to know I am always here for them, but I also want them to be capable and willing to stand on their own two feet. I want my children to look into their futures with hope and excitement, and I want them to look back on their past without resentment or regrets.

I have many wants for my children’s future, just as I have many wants for my nation’s. In the meantime I will continue to pray for both, to lead by example, and continue looking onward. As J.P. Morgan once said:

“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”

 

Homeschool Dropout!

Lately I have been getting a lot of questions about whether or not Addi is still homeschooling. The answer is no, after a lot of thought and contemplation we made the decision that it was time to put her into a local charter school in our area.

In today’s video I explain how we came to that decision and why it was the best one for our entire family.

 

4 Lessons from 7 Days Without Social Media


“I bet you a hundred dollars you can’t go a week without that.” my Uncle Cas said, rather smugly I might say, as we sat in the living room after Thanksgiving dinner.

By that he meant the internet. Never one to back down from a bet, I accepted his challenge.

And I failed, I failed miserably. Cyber Monday, need I say more? But after I had clicked order on my children’s final Christmas presents I decided I would not completely give up. I had gone three days already without social media of any kind (no Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or even YouTube) and although I would not be celebrating Christmas with another Ben Franklin hanging out in my pocket I figured I could at least see if I could keep part of my commitment.

I’m not going to lie and say it was easy, in fact it was really, really hard. I, like many in my generation, have become dependent on the the constant connection that social media gives me. The constant constant entertainment and feeling of connection without zero effort. But I did it, I pulled through, and I even learned some valuable lessons during the process.

Lessons such as:

I do not have to be constantly plugged in to maintain connections.

My generation are the pioneers of social media. Yahoo chat, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter; we’ve had it all at our fingertips since keeping up with our friends outside of homeroom became necessary. It is so easy to send a quick Facebook message or DM someone on Instagram that it becomes a go-to form of communication.

But during my week without social media I found that these methods of communication were not necessary for me to maintain communications, instead I found that I still connected with the people most important to me, and in even more meaningful ways. A call to my grandmother or best friend left me feeling a lot more fulfilled than a chat message. That’s because during the call, however brief it was, both parties were fully engaged in the conversation, it wasn’t given in little snippets broken up by chores, work, or other daily activities.

Social media costs.

This one was a big one. We hear people often talk about how much time is wasted on social media. We look at our phones so frequently they become another appendage, so much so that I don’t think we can fully fathom just how dependent we are on them until they are taken away. By taking myself away from social media, I took away my need to look at my phone. Believe me, the first few days it felt like I had lost an appendage, like my left leg had suddenly walked away on it’s own and I was left me wobbly and uneven.

And while I felt unsteady without my phone, like I had lost something or was missing something, I soon realized how much I had gained by giving it up. I had gained time with my children, moments that had once been lost while staring at a screen. I had lost the effort and motivation to take care of my home and family, and the relationships I would should have been building with them.

It’s a lot more enjoyable to experience the moments instead of worrying about posting them online.

By day three without social media, I started to feel a little more steady. I started to breath, and to see my surroundings clearer. When I played with my kids I was seeing them through my own eyes, and not through the eyes of my iPhone camera. I experienced moments with them fully engaged instead of planning out how I would put it into a Facebook status.

I started really living these moments with my family, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

I’m not the only one with this problem.

This one seems very obvious, and maybe I am silly for even thinking that it is something worth noting. But I really was taken aback that once I unattached myself from social media for a little while, and coincidentally unattached myself from my phone simultaneously, I noticed how many there were out there like me. Not just moms and dads, and contrary to popular belief definitely not just millennials. No, this problem is one is felt by seemingly all generations, races, and religions. It does not discriminate; and whether that is a good or bad thing I do not know.

After my seven days were done and over I would be a liar to say that I was not happy to have social media back once my little experiment was over. In fact, the first thing I did was check my Facebook feed. But while I have not fully given up on social media altogether, my experiment did give me a sense of the freedom that I can have without it. Although I still use it to connect to my friends and family, my days are no longer wasted away on the screen of my phone. And I really, really like it.

 

 

2016 Favorites

Please note that this post contain affiliate links.

2016 was a big year for our family, and I thought long and hard about the products and people that meant the most to me this year. I hope you enjoy the video!

***

Melanie,
I want to let you know how truly grateful I am for you and your support over this past year. You are one of the most amazing, helpful, and caring people I know. There is no way I will ever be able to thank you for all you’ve done for our girl. I know you always tell me that it was nothing, but that ‘nothing’ has made a huge impact on our lives for the better. Every gain Austen makes can be traced back to the choice you made to have that conversation with Dr. H.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

***

Products Mentioned:

Your Skin But BetterTM CC Cream with SPF 50+ (Fair)
It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Full Coverage Waterproof Concealer, Light (Ultra Fair)
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream
Rosebud Salve by Rosebud Perfume Company 0.5 fl oz
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Eat, Pray, Love
Back to Butter: A Traditional Foods Cookbook – Nourishing Recipes Inspired by Our Ancestors
The Elliott Homestead: From Scratch: Traditional, whole-foods dishes for easy, everyday meals
KidSafe essential oils
Bullet Journal
Flowering Hope Foundation

What were your favorite products of 2016? What products are you excited to try in the new year?

 

Persistence and Purpose | 2017 Goals

First off, yes I know it’s a little late in the month for this post, but persistence and such. I am trying to take my word of the year to heart and power through some of the posts I had planned to complete before the kiddos got sick. Just bear with me here.

Now although I am a very avid list maker and planner lover-extaordinaire, I have never been a really big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I do feel like the new year is a perfect time to start anew with a clean slate and all, but I have always found something cheesy and almost unlucky about them. Almost as if just by making them you were setting yourself up for some sort of cringeworthy failure.

But this year as the calendar turned on 2016 I couldn’t help myself but to think forward to 2017 and beyond. What did I want out of my life, my finances, my blog? Where do I want to be in five years? Ten years? And what can I do this year to push myself towards those goals? It was these thoughts and questions that led me toward the list below.

It is not a hard core to do list, I will not crumple up and feel the weight of failure if they do not all happen, or even if none of them happen. They are simply goals to move towards, but also a path to follow to the success I hope to find in my future.

So without further ado…

2017 Goals

Personal Life:

My main goal for my personal life in 2017 is to simplify. This means less things, less commitments, less idle fillers that get me through the moment but do nothing for me in long term. In order to do this I have to find a way to find out what things in my day are the most important to complete and create a routine that makes them doable in a timely manner. This will give me time to not only get things done, but also time to spend on the things and people I find most important-my family and friends. I want to be present for my husband and my children, I want to spend time making memories that will last our lifetimes.

Business:

This goal is a little more concrete. I am a very avid dreamer, but I often have a hard time with follow through. There are so many things that I want to do, but I tend to give up if it seems my project(s) won’t turn out as perfectly as I had imagined. I am told this is a symptom of OCD, but that is neither here nor there.

For awhile now I have been really thinking and looking deep inside of myself to find out that age old question of what do I want to be when I grow up. This might have better suited me before I got the college degree I now hold (and have never used professionally) but alas, it is what it is. As I thought, prayed, and reflected during this time I was able to lay out dreams that involved goals for both the near future as well as where I’d like to be later on down the road. It was very freeing actually, to have a clear(er) path I want to follow. For example in the future, when are completely debt free, I’d like to invest in real estate. But not just any real estate: I want to buy old houses, restore them to their glory, and both sell them and rent them out. But that is years down the road.

In the present time I would like to focus on this blog as a business and not just a hobby.

  • I want to work on my writing skills and steadily put content on here at least three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).
  • I want to upload videos to my main YouTube channel at least twice a week (Tuesday and Thursday).
  • And, after a lot of thought and contemplation, I have decided I want to upload weekly vlogs on my vlog channel as well (Sundays).
  • I want to reopen Papa Publishing, a company I started last year that sold book inspired t-shirts, and I want to expand it to sell printable, prints, and eventually other items.
  • Finally, and the biggest goal of all, I want to finally finish a novel I started last year. Something that no one else may ever want to read, but it’s an item on my bucket list that I feel it is time to check off.

Giving Back and Advocating:

This goal is a little trickier than the others, but it is one of the ones closest to my heart. This year I really want to focus on the need for cannabis to legalized. I want to help give the chance that Austen has to others, not just kids with epilepsy, but everyone who could benefit from this plant. I’m not sure how exactly I will go about this, but I am praying and thinking, and I know it will come to me eventually.

***

What is your feeling on New Years Resolutions? What are you hoping to accomplish this year? Comment below and let me know!

Persist

Persist:
per·sist
verb
1. continue firmly or obstinately in an opinion or a course of action in spite of difficulty, opposition, or failure.
2. continue to exist; be prolonged.

After several days of thought I have finally come up with my word of the year, persist. You might find this odd, and counter productive.  I thought so too for awhile because I feel that the last couple of years I have had no choice but to persist through the hard times that were thrown at us.  This year I will continue to persist, but this year I have decided to do so intentionally.
I do not want to just hang my head and power through life anymore, I want to face my challenges head on with a power and a purpose.  That’s what persist will mean for me this year.
And my need of persistence started almost as soon as I came up with the word. Filming this video yesterday took me over three times as long as I had planned for it to.  There is a lot of crying in the video, there was a lot more when I kept pausing the camera.  There is a lot of repetitiveness and a lot of blinking towards the end (not sure what was up with that).  But I did it, I powered through, and I even edited it last night while cuddling a screaming Atlas to get him to go to bed.
Persist is definitely not just a word I want this year, it’s a word I need, and that I want to embrace fully.  So here’s to more videos, more blog posts, and to living a more intentional life.
Want to keep up to date?  Don’t forget to subscribe to both the blog and my YouTube channel!

An Open Letter to the Parents of a Child Recently Diagnosed with a Rare Disease

Dear Parent,

I do not know you, and I can’t even really say that I know how you feel, but I know how I felt last May when we received our daughters diagnosis. I thought why us? Why me? Why her? I wanted to cry and crawl into a tunnel and disappear in my despair. In reality I cried on and off for several days, ignored a lot of phone calls, made a few others, and watched my babies every single move.

Was that the healthiest way to cope? Probably not, but it got me through. And as time went by I learned to pick myself up and as time went on the reality of dealing with the disease eventually became second nature. Do I still hate Dravet? Hell yes. But I have learned some important realities of dealing with a child who has a rare disease, realities that I learned on my own but I want to pass on to you.

Knowledge is power.

Recently it was announced that a new study would take place across 44 hospitals in the US in regards to which of three anti-seizure medications would work best to treat a status seizure. The point of the study to is create a national protocol for emergency room doctors to follow in regards to treating these kinds of seizures. Sounds decent enough, right? The problem was that this is a completely blind study and federal regulations allow it to be done without patient or parent approval, meaning the doctors do not have to tell you they are doing the study on your child before they do it. If that isn’t scary enough one of the three anti-epileptic drugs in the trial (fosphenytoin) is a complete no-go for kids with Dravet Syndrome, instead of stopping a status seizure in a child with Dravet it will actually make it worse. Thankfully they have come out with a list of hospitals that are participating in the study and IF you know about the study beforehand you can get an bracelet for your child to wear letting the doctors and emergency room staff know that you have declined the study.

I am so grateful to know that this option is available for us, but what if I didn’t?

You might be a parent like me, who already googled and searched through the information about my child’s diagnosis before the test results came back. You have an idea what your child will face in the days, weeks, and years to come and you continue to frantically search more information each day.  Or you might be the complete opposite, you chose not to look up the disease before you knew the results, you didn’t want to scare yourself with ‘what ifs’. Both options are totally okay, but remember that you can never know too much about your child’s condition.  In fact, the thing with rare diseases is that you will probably end up knowing more about your child’s condition than many of the professionals that you will come in contact with. You will be the one that is up to date on new trials and therapies that could benefit your child, and you will be the one that is often informed of studies like the one above in which you are the only one who can keep your child’s best interest in mind. At this point being educated about your child’s disease is not an option, it is a must.

Be your child’s advocate. 

Chances are that your child will see quite a few people throughout their medical journey.  Doctors, therapists, specialists, etc. And it is not always easy for them to connect to you and your child because, well lets face it, they see a lot of kids every day. Some, like my daughters neurologist, will focus on kids solely with your child’s condition. But more often than not they might see thirty different kids, with thirty different issues coming in and out of their office each day. They don’t always know all the nitty gritty details, and it’s not that they don’t care, it’s that it is impossible for them to do so.

But those details could make or break your child, and it is up to you to advocate. If your child is put on a new med that your doctor seems very excited about, but you see it having adverse reactions at home it is your job to be your child’s voice and talk to the doctor about a change. If you think your child would benefit from a certain type of therapy, or you a new piece of medical equipment at home speak up! You don’t have to be rude, but you also cannot expect for the doctors to know what is going on unless you let them know.

Use the power of social media to your advantage.

Social media is a great way to get your child’s story out there for others to pray and think encouraging thoughts, we set up the Hope for Austen page back before we ever moved from Texas because we had so many friends and family members wanting to be kept up to date.

But what I love even more about social media is my ability to connect with other moms going through the same thing. Facebook is filled with pages and groups directed towards parents of children fighting similar conditions. If your child’s condition has a name, I would be willing to be that there is a group out there for it. These are awesome because these are the people who know exactly what you are going through, they can help you through the ups and downs of day to day living. From my experience it is these people who will be your biggest supporters, and will pray the hardest for you on your bad days.  Which brings me to my last point…

You matter too.

This is probably the hardest point to remember of my topics today, but I speculate that it is the most important. I read a blog post earlier today that spoke about how for parents of special needs kids often do not just have PTSD, it’s more like TSD because the trauma is continual, it never goes away.

I remember the first time Austen was in the hospital, she was intubated and in the picu at Dallas Children’s.  On day two or three of her stay they were taking her back to get an MRI as well as CT scan to let us know what, if any, damage had occurred from her big 35 minute seizure. So far her dad and I had only left the room to eat or take a quick shower, but never left the hospital itself. In fact, when we did leave the room it was for as short amount of time as we could stand because we did not want to leave her alone. On this day the nurse came in and told us that they would have Austen out of the room for several hours. We could stay in the room she said, but she really encouraged us to leave.  To get out and go to lunch, to take a walk, to breath. We went to Denny’s and then to Target to get Austen a toy. In the Target checkout line I broke down bawling and the poor cashier had no idea what to do with me.  It was then that all the trauma, all the stress came crashing down on me.

You matter too.  You matter too. One more time for the people in the back YOU MATTER TOO. As a parent in general it is very easy to wrap ourselves into our kids lives until we eventually lose who we are without them, this happens sevenfold when our children have special needs. But you must take care of yourself, if for no other reason than if you lose your sanity who else does your child have?

So talk to a therapist, join a support group, take that respite care that the hospital is offering you. Get a pedicure, take a nap, heck even go grocery shopping by yourself. Do whatever it takes to keep you as 100% as possible, because you absolutely cannot make it unless you take care of you too.

 

Dear parent, I know right now you are scared, and I do not know if that will ever go away. I know that the road ahead of you is probably a hard one, and definitely a tiring one. But I also know you are not alone, you have joined a club that no one ever wants to join, but whose members are some of the greatest and most inspiring people in this world. I want you to know you are in my prayers now, and will continue to be in them until I draw my last breath. You are not alone, nor will you ever be.

With Love-

Meagan

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