Choosing Seizures

Last fall Austen went 48 days without a seizure, but as January turned to February she was having seizures every four days on average. On March 13th we decided to try another non-traditional approach and admitted Austen into the hospital with the hopes of transitioning her onto the ketogenic diet. The diet is hard, with everything that goes in her mouth being carefully weighed an measured, but we had high hopes that this would help our girl.

That was not the case.

Within 12 hours her potassium levels skyrocketed and she developed a cardiac arrhythmia. We stopped the diet immediately and were told it was simply not going to be an option for her at this time. I was devastated. We had made the difficult decision to put her on this diet with the hopes that it would help her, instead it very likely could have killed her.

I want to pause here to say the her reaction to the diet is super, super rare. Her dietician had never seen it, and the epileptologist had only seen it once in his career.

Ever since the fall when Austen’s 48 day seizure free streak ended people have been asking the same few questions on repeat. These questions picked up momentum in January when the seizure frequency picked up, and again a few weeks ago when the diet failed.

“Do you think it’s time to add another med?” “Do you think it’s maybe time to stop this whole cannabis thing?” “Have you thought about that new med trial?” and my personal favorite,  “Maybe it’s time to consider Onfi?”

My answer to all of these is NO.  If it comes to choosing between another drug and all of it’s side effects, and choosing seizures, I will choose seizures every single time at this point in our journey.

Why? To me it’s simple:

With Austen’s Cannabis nasal spray her seizures last less than 2 minutes on average, with only Diazepam and Clonazepam her average was about 11. That is a huge difference. In addition to that new meds are highly addictive and come with new side effects including, dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, slurred speech, aggression, and hallucinations.* Shorter seizures with fewer side effects gives us the opportunity to give Austen a life worth living. Before cannabis a seizure would incapacitate her for an entire day, now she is up and going within an hour like nothing ever happened. Losing days of your life at a time is no way to live, and neither is living the days you are awake dealing with all those horrible side effects.

The fact of the matter is Austen will probably never be 100% seizure free. Her epilepsy is caused by a gene mutation, and unless the CRISPR gene editing reaches human trials during her lifetime there is really no chance of her getting a shiny new SCN1A gene. It sucks, but facts are facts.

So no, our goal is not seizure freedom, instead our goal is as few seizures as possible, as short of seizures as possible, with as little day to day side effects as possible. Even though she is still having some seizures, Austen’s disease is progressing slower than doctors thought it would based on her history. We attribute that in large part to cannabis.

So yes, we are choosing seizures, even though conventional meds might give us more seizure free days. The seizure free days are never guaranteed, and the side effects are not worth it to us. To us choosing seizures means choosing life, choosing to really live. And as long as that is the case we will continue to do so.


*All side effects are listed as possibilities for the drug Onfi. We are not against Onfi indefinitely but it is a very highly addictive drug with very serious side effects, we moved here in large part to hold off on adding Onfi and would like to hold off on adding it as long as possible.


Free Printables!

I’m so excited to officially announce the addition of free printables on my blog! Included are budget worksheets, meal planning printables, cleaning recipes, and more!

Are you interested in free printables? Just click here to sign up for our newsletter, you will receive an email containing the password to access the free printables page located in the menu bar.

My Top Ten Winter Medicine Cabinet Must Haves

The following post my contain affiliate links.


If you have follow me on Twitter or follow Austen’s Facebook page (which you should totally follow me on both, just saying), you know that the winter germs have hit us hard this year. In January we had a respiratory virus that put Atlas in the hospital and caused a massive influx of seizures for Austen, then a stomach virus rampage through the house, and to round out the month we all got colds.

Needless to say, it was miserable, and I’ve had enough.

So the researcher in me came out and I have spent the last week pouring myself over ways to both help build our immune systems as well as cut the sicknesses out when they do enter our doors.

So folks, I would like to introduce to you our winter medicine cabinet. And yes, I have taken the time to explain why I chose each and every thing. Because I’m a nerd like that.

      1. Multivitamins: In an ideal world we would get all essential vitamins and nutrients through the foods we eat, but then there are days that my children refuse to eat anything other than chicken nuggets. In short, life happens. Multivitamins help fill in the gaps that our diets leave behind. I like the Rainbow Light multivitamins because they are food based, meaning the nutrient sources are as close to those they would get in their ideal diet as possible. They also contain no sugar, no preservatives, and no artificial flavorings which make me even happier about giving them to my kids.
      2. Probiotics: According to Harvard Health, probiotics secrete a protective substance that some believe turn on the immune system and can help to prevent major diseases. This happens because the good bacteria balances out the bad bacteria in your gut, which can make you sick. I like the Kyo-Dophilus chewable probiotics. The vanilla flavor makes my kids think they are candy, and I don’t have to worry about refrigerating them.
      3. Cod Liver Oil: When I first told my family I was giving my kids cod liver oil the response was a unanimous ‘why?!’. All my grandparents remembered was being forced to take it in school when they were kids, and how awful it tasted. There was a reason they were given it in school though. Cod liver oil is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids which are not only great for brain health, they are also provide excellent cardiovascular and immune support. But what about the taste? Carlson Labs makes a kid version of cod liver oil, and their lemon flavor is very easily hidden in my kids morning orange juice. They never even know they are taking it.
      4. Essential Oils: I’ve written before about my love for essential oils. I diffuse the Plant Therapy Immune Boom every day in our house to try and boost our immune systems. I’ve also  started rubbing a roller onto the kids spines every morning to see if that helps as well.
      5. Emergen-C: Everything mentioned above has been focused on building the kids immunity. When that isn’t enough and I get sick I turn to Emergen-C for myself. The high dosage of vitamin C has always kicked my colds in the butt, especially if I start taking it when I first start feeling symptoms emerge. The new pink lemonade flavor is my favorite, if you’re wondering.
      6. Elderberry Syrup: Many take elderberry syrup daily to help build immunity, but I like to save it for when we start to feel something coming on. Black elderberries offer excellent immunity support and anti-viral properties. I make mine by myself with honey and ginger. The kids love it and think it’s candy. Mom win!
      7. Bone Broth: I admit it took me awhile to jump on the bone broth band wagon, but I don’t think I’ll ever want to get off. Bone broth is super easy to make, is a great use for all the veggie scraps that get left behind, and is actually really good for you. It’s an awesome source of protein, the collagen supports skin health, and studies show that chicken broth in particular really does help us get over colds and illnesses faster. Plus, nothing feels better going down a sore throat than a nice warm cup of broth or tea.
      8. Natural Cough Syrup: Let’s face it, hearing your little ones hacking away at night is not only heartbreaking, it’s freaking annoying. Having our babies sick beside us already has parents on edge and unable to sleep peacefully, and the sound of their coughs kills any kind of rest we might get. Cough suppressors are simply a must if anyone is going to get any rest. In our case Austen is too little to take most cough medicines, and even when she is big enough we have been told to avoid anything labeled DM, PM, or benadryl unless it’s in an emergency situation due to her disease. Because of this we have decided to try and rely on natural cough medicines as much as possible to help our kids get some rest. We have tried several brands but the Hyland’s 4 Kids Cold and Cough seems to be the winner amongst the kids for taste and effectiveness.
      9. Garlic, so much garlic: The National Institutes of Health might say that there is insufficient evidence to support whether or not garlic helps with a cold, but from my experience it does wonders. Because of that if one of us is sick, or pretty much all winter really, we go through a lot of garlic. I’m talking a whole head in a chicken soup recipe. It’s a good thing we like the taste!
      10. Tylenol and Ibuprofen: And last but not least, the good ole fever suppressors. Let me start off by saying that I know fevers are not actually bad. In fact they are a good sign that your body is trying to fight whatever is attacking it. The problem in our household is that fevers also cause seizures. Austen has been known to seize with a fever as low as 99 before, so if her normal 97.6 temp rises about 98.6 I bust out these bad boys and start on an every two hour swap. It sucks, but it’s a lot better than the alternative. For Addi and Atlas though, we use these a lot more sparingly. They do not get them unless their fever reaches at or above 102.

And those, my friends, are my top ten winter medicine cabinet must haves. What does your winter medicine cabinet look like? Do you have any tips and tricks for keeping all those nasty winter germs away?

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.”


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!


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?