Mom Life, Uncategorized

Text from an Old Friend

Today I got a text from an old friend that I used to go to middle school with. We were very close friends as teenagers but then her and her family moved away and we kind of lost touch. We are friends on Facebook so it’s nice to see updates about her and her family but it’s definitely hard to be close to someone that’s thousands of miles away. Anyway, I was surprised when she contacted me on Facebook and asked for my phone number so she could text me. I sent her a text right away and asked what was going on and if everything was ok and I was so surprised with what she wrote to me. This is what she wrote:

“Hey!! I love reading your blog and my question is how do you have so much energy to do it all? I am asking because I am always exhausted and only have my daughter at home and I do go to the boys’ sporting events, but I have absolutely no energy to do anything. You are such an inspiration to me!!! I have been doing this mom thing for almost 13 years and can’t seem to get it figured out.”

Now don’t get me wrong, making it sound like I have my life together is the highest compliment to a person like me. I’m a perfectionist and I am always trying to perfect procedures and systems within my life. But I didn’t hesitate in telling her that I am no where near perfect and that I struggle daily with being a mother too. I feel like my children don’t get the attention they need or want from me all the time, I feel guilty when I don’t get on their level and play with them as often as they’d like, I feel guilty and unsure about every decision I make from choosing their school to what they’re eating to the activities that we do or don’t do. Heck, they are sitting right next to me watching Halloween cartoons so I can write this and I feel guilty about that! I wanted to emphasize to her that what she was feeling were completely normal feelings and that every mom feels like that at some point, if not daily. Oh, and I told her “I AM exhausted”! How can you raise little humans without feeling exhausted!?! Seriously though, any tips?

I also shared with her some planning tools that I use to help me and my family stay organized and have a smoother week. I make sure to do weekly meal planning, wake up before my children, I have a weekly cleaning schedule, I have a planner that I use religiously to help me sort out school, activities, birthday parties, etc. But I also know that as a mom of 3 under 5 I need to give myself and my family grace and know that along with trying to plan everything out, you also need to be flexible. Let’s be honest. Life happens. A lot. And that’s ok! Most of the time life’s unplanned events are the biggest and best events! So slow down, give yourself grace, and look at all the positives that you do for your kiddos instead of focusing on all of the things you didn’t do for your kiddos or the things that you felt guilty for that day.

She also mentioned that even when she does things for her family that she feels like it’s never enough. Her meal times never go as smooth as she’d like, she doesn’t have time in the mornings to accomplish what she wants, and she is exhausted and feels like she doesn’t get enough sleep. Not to diminish how she feels at all but I told her I think that’s just what being a mom is. It’s being frazzled and overwhelmed. It’s been overworked and sometimes under appreciated. It’s worrying and anxiety. But it’s also filled with an abundance of love and every time I am having a bad day, a little peak of this love shines through and reminds me why I try so hard. It’s that hug and “You’re a good mommy” that your child says to you.

Getting that text from my friend not only reminded me of how hard being a mom is but it also reminded me that I’m not alone. The feelings I have are the same exact feelings my friend had! And we both love our children with our whole heart. I think if you are a mom and you are struggling and feeling worried that you aren’t everything you think you should be, you need to take a step back. Good moms worry if they’re being good moms!

All of this to say keep on keepin’ on momma! Love your kids hard and try to make the best of every day. Trying is all you can do and it IS enough. I hope this can be a pick me up to any of you needing one today. We are all doing the best we can and as long as you love your child and try your hardest, well I think that makes YOU a GREAT mom.

xo

~Samantha

 

 

 

Health, Uncategorized

Living with an Autoimmune Disease

I have had an autoimmune disease since I was two years old. Back then I was diagnosed with JRA-Junior Rheumatoid Arthritis. I don’t specifically remember that time in my life but my parents remember it well. Lots of doctor’s appointments, lots of testing, and lots of tears from my mom. She tells me that potty training me was hard because I had trouble walking by myself…especially in the early mornings when my joints were particularly stiff so she had to be on top of it and carry me every time I needed to go to the bathroom. After a few months my mom finally got some answers and I was put on a medicine called Naprosyn which is an NSAID (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) and used to treat arthritis along with other auto-immune diseases. I also had physical therapy that my parents would do with me which included playing with silly putty and my mom says she gave me a lot of baths to help with the muscle stiffness and aches. My flare lasted about 5 months and I went in to remission once the medication kicked into effect.

Before I go any further, I wanted to share a link where you can read a little bit more about autoimmune diseases so that you can better understand them. Examples of autoimmune diseases that you have probably heard of include:

  • arthritis
  • lupus
  • multiple sclerosis
  • psoriasis
  • type 1 diabetes
  • Hashimoto’s thyroid disease

Hopefully that link was helpful and gave you a little bit of insight as to what autoimmune diseases entail and the pain they can cause.

Throughout my adolescent years I experienced infrequent mild pain. Mostly when the weather changed or when I was involved in vigorous activity like a weekend long softball tournament. My parents warned against certain activities like soccer since running is such a high impact activity so I tried to stay away from things like that. Other than that, I was able to me a normal kid and a normal teenager.

Fast forward to when I was about 23 years old. I don’t really remember how the flare started but I remember everything else pretty vividly. You know when you jam a finger and you get that tinge of pain when you try to bend it at all? Yeah, that’s what my knees felt like anytime I tried to move them. I remember trying to use crutches to help me walk better and on a particularly bad day I even had to call my mom to come over and help me get dressed for the day. On the Western Slope of Colorado there aren’t very many specialty doctors and my options were limited as far as rheumatologists. I decided on a doctor that was in my home town and went to visit to get some answers. After a few blood draws and appointments, the rheumatologist diagnosed me with lupus. I didn’t have all of the symptoms but she was confident that I had enough of them to diagnose me. She put me on a prescription for prednisone and methotrexate and I took those daily for 6 months. Although these medications helped my joint issues, they caused a heap of other problems. The side effects I experienced included swelling, weight gain, hair loss, mood swings, and pretty major depression. I cried every day for the entire time I was on the meds and one day I just decided that it wasn’t worth it anymore. I wanted to feel like my old self again, even if it meant having joint pain. When I finally had weaned myself off of the meds, I was so relieved to find out that I was no longer in a flare but was in remission.

I began to exercise and workout regularly to try to lose the weight and get back to my normal self and I succeeded. I got married, switched jobs a few times and had 3 kids all without any flares or joint problems. In the meantime I wasn’t happy with my original rheumatologist because I didn’t feel like she had given me very many options for medications nor discussed the side effects of the medications she prescribed me. She gave me a very scary diagnosis and I felt like she had left me hanging with no support. I had heard that a new rheumatologist had moved to the town that I currently live in so I set up an appointment to establish her as my new rheumatologist. I made yearly visits to her to build a relationship should anything go wrong in the future. At those visits we went over my previous doctors notes and drew more blood to run some more tests. My new doctor decided that she was going to re-diagnose me with rheumatoid arthritis. I had a few factors that made me appear that I had lupus but one big factor, my ANA, came back negative. I also didn’t have the face rashes, mouth sores, or nose sores that accompany most people with lupus. So with my new diagnosis I tried to stay healthy and active and continue to live my life!

I was in remission for 7 years and then the disease hit me again. I was about to turn 30 and life was going perfectly. I had started a new workout program to help lose the last of my baby weight and I remember one day telling my husband that I was sore. And not in a typical after workout sore but I told him I could feel a flare coming on. I was scared for what would happen and I knew that my mental attitude could not be where it was last time because I had kids now and they needed their mom to be happy and healthy. So sure enough, the flare progressed. I wasn’t able to play on a volleyball league that I finally had got invited to, I wasn’t able to participate in several activities with my MOPS friends like our annual night hike, and I couldn’t go to the gym or do any sort of physical activity, including running around with my kids. I also had a hard time carrying my newborn around and taking Cason to and from school. A few times I had to call my parents and ask them to come over and get Cason and take him to school because I just couldn’t do it. When I did take Cason to school I left Kinsley and Kellan in the car because lifting them out and carrying the carseat was impossible…and the other moms gave me dirty looks and judged me for leaving my kids in the car.

I was scared of medication so when I went to my rheumatologist to get help I decided against the Plaquenil that she recommended. I tried using CBD oil, cannabis salves, essential oils, ibuprofen, and changing my eating habits. It has now been about 6 months in this flare and last week I decided to visit my rheumy again. After discussing my current issues with my rheumatologist, she felt like she needed to change my diagnosis again and has changed it to Psoriatic Arthritis. I have a few specific joints that flare up and swell that she said is symptomatic of Psoriatic Arthritis. Usually those with PA also have Psoriasis, which I don’t have, but my doctor warned me that future flares could bring that on. I told her I was ready to take the medication but that I wanted to know all of the potential side effects that I could be facing. Loss of vision, hair loss, weight gain/loss, mood swings, nausea, stomach pain, dizziness, headaches, and skin rashes were among those side effects. Everyday that I am not in remission, is another day that my body is fighting itself and eating away at my joints. I have done my due diligence and now I just have to pray that I will have little to no side effects.

I have been on the medication for about a week and so far I’ve had a few headaches but thankfully nothing else. I have also joined several support groups on Facebook for people living with RA and those taking Plaquenil. I am hoping that the Plaquenil kicks in soon so I can be the mom I was before my flare. The mom who could run around and play football with Cason, play in Kinsley’s princess castle, and crawl on the floor with Kellan. I have a much better mindset this time and I am determined to not let this disease dictate what I can do. I will not let it limit my activities. I will not let it control my moods or emotions. I can only hope that my flare ups continue to be few and far between because these gaps in my life are tough. They are physically, mentally, and emotionally tough.

Those with chronic illnesses aren't faking being sick. They are actually faking being well..png

Thank you for listening to this post and learning more about autoimmune diseases. It’s important to spread awareness so no one feels like they have to suffer in silence. I will keep you updated on my journey:)

xo

~Samantha

Health, Uncategorized

A Relaxing Weekend in Small Town USA

Isn’t it nice to get out of town and enjoy a weekend doing nothing!? It’s rare when we have an entire weekend with no plans. And especially when that weekend is a 3 day weekend for us. Since Cason didn’t have school on Friday, we decided to pack our bags and head out of town to one of our favorite places in the world…granny and grandpa’s house! Drew’s grandparents live back in his hometown which is about 3 hours from where we live and we try to visit as often as possible but it’s been a few months since we have been able to go visit. Drew’s dad and some of his other family members live there too so it’s nice to catch up and let the cousins play together.

We pulled into town about 9:00 PM on Thursday night after quite possibly the worst road trip ever. The kiddos weren’t content with anything that was going on and refused to get along with each other and I got car sick so we had to pull over a few times. I also think part of the nausea was from my new meds but whatever. I was just happy when we finally made it there! We put the kiddos to bed and got to have some one on one time with granny grandpa. At little too much time actually because we didn’t go to bed until 1:00 AM…and it’s been a loooong time since I have stayed up that late!

My favorite thing about going to visit the grandparents is the way I feel when I am at their home. It feels like I am at my own home. Everything is so comfortable and cozy and the conversations and moments we share with everyone make you realize why life is so precious and why family is so important. It also reminds me to slow down. I am such a planner by nature but having weekends were there is no agenda or time frame for anything is so relaxing and refreshing. It’s definitely a needed break from all of the normal hustle and bustle during the week. I got to wake up at my leisure (granny watched the kiddos so we got to sleep in a bit), do a nice little workout, shower, and then relax. The kids got to play with their cousins, Drew got to help his grandpa with a project, and I got to visit with granny and talk about life and do some crocheting.

I think Drew and I will be able to get back in the grind and hit the floor running Monday morning after the weekend we had. We both decided we needed to do these weekends more often so we are going to be better about writing them down so we don’t over plan and overstretch ourselves. We need a break every once in a while and we definitely deserve one!

I hope this short post can serve as a little reminder to slow down sometimes. We all live busy lives and have lists of things to do but we can’t forget to slow down and take time for these precious moments too. Do you get to go out of town and take a break from life? Where are some of your favorite places to go and favorite things to do?!

xo

~Samantha

Mom Life, Uncategorized

Find Your Fire/Learn a Skill Day

So this week at MOPS we put together a Find Your Fire/Learn a Skill Day. It took a lot of planning and work but it was so worth it! All of the moms loved it and I definitely got something out of it so I thought I’d share a little bit about it.

We decided that in order to Find Your Fire, sometimes you need to experience new things or become proficient in those things you have always wanted to do! So my MOPS group went ahead and created a Facebook poll on our MOPS page that asked moms to vote for their favorite hobbies that they’d like to learn more about or do more often. Our top activities were:

  • DIY/Home Decor
  • Gardening
  • Cake Decorating
  • Photography
  • Calligraphy

With those activities in mind, we went out in the community to find the perfect instructor for each class. We coordinated what the instructor would need and what would be the best topics to cover in a 35 minute lesson. Then we set out a sign-up sheet 2 weeks in advance so the moms could sign up for their top 2 classes that they wanted to attend. We were then able to divvy up the classes so they were all even and not over crowded. With final numbers in place, we were able to buy supplies that were needed for a few of the activities. I personally chose Photography and Cake Decorating and holy moly I learned A LOT! I think this gave our moms a lot of knowledge to be able to go out and pursue those hobbies with more confidence and maybe it helped some of the moms find a new hobby.

From the cake decorating class, I was able to learn how to frost a cupcake with a rose which is actually a lot easier than it looks. Hopefully I can do some for an upcoming event so I can take pictures to share:) I also got to play around with numerous different frosting tips and I got the recipe for homemade buttercream frosting which I can’t wait to try. After doing Kellan’s birthday cupcakes and cake, I knew that I needed to learn the proper way to load a pastry bag and pipe the frosting out of it cause I had lime green frosting everywhere! I can’t wait to put these new skills to the test!

The photography class was SUPER informative and included more knowledge than I could have hoped for. I’ve had a Canon Rebel T3i for a few years now and have slowly been learning how to use (I wish I had more free time!) but having an instructor work with you hands on was awesome. She showed us tips for focusing, tips for how to use props, tips for lighting, tips for working with your children, you name it. I was amazed she covered as much as she did in just 35 minutes and only wish I would have had longer with her. I think the only thing I need to do now is just practice!

There was lots of positive feedback about the other classes and I wish I could have attended all of them. The gardening class got to make a cute little indoor herb garden as well as learn about the soil in our area and what types of plants do the best in our climate, the calligraphy class got to make place cards for their Thanksgiving table scape, and the DIY/Home Decor class got to watch demos on how to use Plaster of Paris and chalk paint for all sorts of projects around the house. I am looking forward to next year and the classes we come up with!

If you are in a MOPS group, let me know if you have done anything like this and how did it go? If not, what are your hobbies? Aside from the topics above, I love to scrapbook, crochet, sew, and use my Cricut:)

xo

~Samantha

Mom Life, Uncategorized

Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS)

Good morning everyone!!!! If you follow me on instagram then you know that I mentioned writing a post about MOPS and what it has been to me. MOPS has definitely helped me on this stay-at-home mothering journey and I hope this post inspires you to seek out a group if you are feeling like I felt before I found my local MOPS group.

If you don’t know, MOPS stands for Mother’s of PreSchoolers. MOPS is a global organization that aims at introducing moms who are in the same walk of life in hopes of giving them an opportunity to build a community, a tribe. The basic idea is that moms can get together and fellowship, meet friends, and be able to have a support system during this very hard season of life: raising young children. It is a Christian ministry but all faiths are welcome and at least in my group, the religion isn’t the center of our MOPS group-encouragement and building friendships is.

I attend 2 different MOPS groups in my area. The first one meets every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month from 9-11 and the other one meets every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month also from 9-11. Free childcare is provided by volunteers of the churches we have the meetings at. This is one of the most precious parts of MOPS. Often times moms do not have babysitters or family members that can help out with childcare and allow them to step away and take a break when needed. This leaves moms feeling trapped, overwhelmed, and alone. This is how I felt when I first started staying at home with Cason. All of my friends were co-workers from previous employers so when I wanted or needed someone to talk to during the day, all of them were busy at work! Not to mention, a lot of them were not in the same season of life that I was in and others were quite a bit older than me and couldn’t relate to how I was feeling. I joined both MOPS groups because it allows me a 2-hour, once a week break from parenting and gives me a chance to connect with other moms who have the same fears, anxieties, and concerns that I do.

MOPS also allows us to be able to eat a delicious breakfast while it’s still hot! We split our MOPS group into two sections and rotate whose turn it is to provide breakfast each meeting. We pray over our meal together and get to eat while we fellowship. We also have presentations at each meeting that cover topics from car seat safety to nutrition to budgeting and even marriage so moms get to take away something that is helpful in each area of their lives. And if all of that doesn’t sound fun enough, we also get to do crafts:) I am the Craft Coordinator at one of my MOPS groups so I get to be in charge of coordinating a craft for each meeting for all of our moms. The craft usually correlates with the specific message from that day. We have done conversation starter sticks for the dinner table, home decor projects, food crafts, and jewelry making.

Have you heard the quote: “It takes a village to raise a child”? They weren’t kidding about that! It DOES take a whole village! I am fortunate enough to have both sets of grandparents nearby to help with my children but MOPS has given me friendships. Tons and tons of friendships. I go to a “Mom’s Night Out” night almost every month, I have joined a bunco group, our leadership team always has fun activities going on, and we have frequent play dates with our kiddos. I can’t imagine where I would be if I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone and joined MOPS. I encourage anyone out there who is thinking about to do it! You won’t regret it! You can also go to http://www.MOPS.org to find a group near you and read more about their mission.

I plan to share my thoughts about my weekly meetings with you guys and what my take aways were. Please let me know in the comments if you are in a MOPS group and how MOPS has impacted you and your mothering journey.

xo

~Samantha

Mom Life, Uncategorized

Pinterest WIN or FAIL Series

I LOVE Pinterest. It’s my go to for inspiration when it comes to DIY/home decor, cooking, cleaning and organization, beauty, health and wellness, and so much more! Since I love Pinterest so much, I thought it would be fun if I regularly featured a “Pinterest WIN or FAIL” post on here! I will find something that inspires me, recreate it (or attempt to anyway) and you can decide if it was a win or fail! Ready for my first “Win or Fail”?!

This week I wanted to feature some recipes that I found on Pinterest while I was doing my weekly meal plan. I’ve been trying to get better about feeding my kiddos healthier snacks ( I was starting to feel guilty about the 5lb box of goldfish in the pantry) so when I saw these recipes for Peanut Butter Energy Bites and Banana Oat Energy Bites I definitely wanted to try them out. Both recipes are quick and easy to make and I had all of the ingredients on hand so I didn’t need to make any special errands to the grocery store which I appreciate.

I thought I would test out the Peanut Butter Energy Bites first because they used less ingredients and seemed a little easier to make. I loved the fact that they took less than 10 minutes to make and that they were ready to eat right away. I considered this recipe a win the moment my kids finished their first one and asked for seconds! That being said, I tried one and I think next time I make them I will use a different peanut butter. While this one was convenient because it already has the ground flaxseed in it, I found it to be very dry and thick, so you couldn’t eat one of the bites without a glass of milk or water to wash it down. I think using a creamier peanut butter would work better for this recipe. If you are wanting to make them slightly healthier you can always substitute the milk chocolate chips for dark chocolate chips.

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Since both energy bites were easy to make and had very similar ingredients, I decided to make both of them on the same day so that we could test them out side by side. These were just as easy to make as the peanut butter ones except these needed to be refrigerated so we didn’t get to eat them right away. After they had been refrigerated, I gave myself and each of the kiddos one and it was a group consensus that we did NOT like these. The banana had a slimy texture which in turn gave the oats a mushy texture. A few days later I gave the kids another one to see if their opinion would change but the verdict came back the same so I went ahead and tossed the remaining energy bites.

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All in all I thought these recipes were fun to test out. I loved that I was able to get the kids involved in cooking and that they got to learn about making healthier choices. I would definitely recommend the Peanut Butter Energy Bites because they were a quick and easy on-the-go snack. Let me know if you try either one of these recipes out and if your kiddos liked them! I’ll have another Pinterest WIN or FAIL next week so make sure to follow my blog so you don’t miss it!

xo

~Samantha

DIY, Uncategorized

Kellan’s Monster Themed Birthday

I am so excited to share today’s post with you guys! This is my first official post showcasing my love for crafting and I think it’s the perfect post to start it off. I am a crafting junkie so when it came time to plan Kellan’s birthday party I took to Pinterest to find the perfect theme! It didn’t take me long to pinpoint a theme after I spotted these adorable monster invitations. Since I loved the invitations so much, I decided I wanted to stick with the same color palette of  lime green, orange, and a bright blue. I started making decor weeks in advance so that I had plenty of time to make everything on my wish list. I made EVERYTHING for his party including the giant balloon arch, the 3′ cardstock monsters, table centerpieces, monthly milestone bulletin board, the Happy Birthday banner, “ONE” bunting, cupcakes, and smash cake. Whew! I have been a busy momma but I wanted to make sure that child #3 got the same amount of dedication to his 1st birthday as Child #1 and #2 got. So without further ado here is a look at Kellan’s Monster Themed 1st Birthday!

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I loved being able to craft all of the decor for Kellan’s first birthday and most of these projects were fairly easy and very inexpensive. I hope you guys enjoyed this post and maybe even got a little inspiration from it! Let me know if there is anything you’d like me to explain in detail or if you have any questions!

xo

~Samantha