Snow For a Springtime Birthday Party (That's Just Not Right!)

Can you just say JET LAG?!  Hubby and I just made it back from a very quick trip to Ohio for Holli's second birthday party.  We arrived there on Thursday and got back home Monday and all I can say is...THAT is not SPRING up there!  The weeks and days before we left,  we were wearing shorts and enjoying 80 degree temperatures and sunshine.  When we packed we drug out our coats (pitiful as they are and totally NOT adequate for that climate), gloves, hats, boots and YES...we were definitely overweight at the airport (ugh!).  Not because we had a LOT of clothes packed but because of WHAT we packed.  Anyway I was  trying to be optimistic, telling Hubby that SURELY it wouldn't SNOW while we were there but as usual...HE WAS RIGHT.  As our plane landed, here is the gloomy skies that met us...
Ahhh, Cleveland, you welcome me with overcast skies and snow clouds.  In March no less.  Why should I expect anything else?! (Insert cringing face here with audible sigh...)

Trust me when I tell you that NO ONE wants to get out of their house in this weather.  And for sure, this southern girl would hibernate for the duration of these cold temperatures.  It would be safe to say that upon arrival I was immediately missing my shorts and flip-flops.
Well, I said no one wanted to get out in this snowy March weather but alas we did have to purchase things. Like FOOD!

But back to why we were there in the first place.  Easter Sunday is Holli's actual birthday this year and since her daddy only gets off ON Sunday, they decided to stay in Cleveland for Easter.  Well I couldn't NOT help one of my babies celebrate their birthday so I twisted Hubby's arm off, convincing him to go with me for just a few days.  And, although the weather really sucked, the visit was great and Holli was so excited to see us. 

The theme for Holli's 2nd birthday party was Minnie Mouse.  She is absolutely in LOVE with Minnie (Do I forsee another trip to Disney in our future?!) so everything was Minnie Mouse and colored in Pink and Black.
This Minnie was larger than Holli but she sure had a good time swinging her around and playing with her.

 Caitlin used this chalkboard to write some of Holli's favorite phrases from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show.
                                      She made this tulle skirt and banner for her high chair.
         The pink cake was purchased but Caitlin made the Minnie Mouse head out of chocolate.
 A smaller cake was also purchased for the party along with the little Birthday Plate that I bought for her.  It has a place for a candle and can be used for other birthday parties in the future.
                  Ahhh...Everybody has to sneak a taste of their birthday cake icing don't you think?!
                                               And there were also goodies for the adults.
                                                                        The CAKE...
                                                                      The SONG...
                                                                       The GIFTS...
                                                                    The FRIENDS...
                                                                      The PARTY...

It was cold outside but warm in our hearts as we watched Holli have such a great time at her party.  And now we move on to Easter.  The rest of the kids will be here for Easter Sunday and HEY...I don't think I have any eggs yet.  Or dye.  Or candy for that matter.  I better get myself up and outta here today and get ready for the rest of the crew!!!
                                                 HAVE A VERY BLESSED HOLY WEEK!


6 Months of Paleo/Genesis Experience...Does it Really Work?

Back in August I made a big decision.  Although I had been a healthy eater and regular exerciser for most of my life, things just weren't happening like I wanted them to.  My thyroid was bummed out again with my TSH levels rising, I was so aggravated because I couldn't seem to lose the extra pounds I wanted to and so I decided to go see someone at a new fitness center called The Genesis Experience.  They explained the Paleo eating plan and I agreed to signing a 9 month contract to start their exercise plan as well.  It was explained to me that I could weigh myself but they did not do that at the gym, instead I would have my measurements taken before I started the program and every 3 months afterwards.  I started eating according to the Paleo plan and simply did everything I was told to do in the gym.  OK...perhaps I shouldn't say "simply" because this was a work-out that was tougher than I had ever experienced in my life and to be quite honest with you, there were days I didn't think I would make it to the end of the work-out.  But I did.  At first I could only make it twice a week because I was so sore but eventually I have worked my way up to 3 days a week and the results have been amazing!  The end of February marked the end of the 6 month period and it was time from my measurements again.  I was so happy that I asked for a copy of the comparison photos that had been taken so I could include them in this post.

                                          This was in August before I started the program.
                          After I had been on the program for 3 months these photos were taken.
                                                  We took these at the 6 month period.

I have lost a total of 9 3/4 inches overall and about 12 pounds!  I am able to do things I never though I could do, such as dead lifting 105 pounds and back squatting 95 pounds.  I had never even lifted weights like that before.  The work-out is set up to give you a little of everything and it is never the same two days in a row.  There is weight lifting followed by an intense cardio work-out and finally a metabolic conditioning session.  Along with eating properly, this program cannot fail if you follow it.  Did you hear me?  IT CANNOT FAIL if YOU put the work into it.  I am living proof because I had worked out for years and nothing ever changed.  I knew I had a slow thyroid and that made things even more difficult for me.  But I was not about to give in to that excuse and not keep trying.  After researching the Paleo eating plan, I found that there was a gluten sensitivity connection to thyroid issues and thought perhaps eating in this manner would even help my hypothyroidism.  After 6 months of sticking with this, I now find myself having to decrease my thyroid medication because my TSH numbers have now dropped so low. 

I woke up one day and realized that I was 52 years old and I needed to do something.  Something that would give me a healthier life.  I didn't know how well this program would work for me at that point but I was willing to give it a try and put forth my best effort.  I can truly say that this program has made a huge difference in me.  I finally feel successful.  And THAT...feels GREAT!

***If YOU are interested in changing YOUR life with this fitness plan, give Karol a call over at
      The Genesis Experience and she will give you some FREE sessions so you can see if you want
      to join one of the classes.  I promise you will not regret making the decision to join this program.*


Number 5 Has Arrived! Meet Olivia Ryan

I realize that I have been silent for a while but it is for some pretty good reasons.  First, my thyroid has gone crazy again along with a TMJ flare-up...yea, pretty crappy, huh?  BUT the real "GOOD"  thing that has had me busy is the arrival of our newest Grand, Olivia Ryan!  Born last Wednesday, (on her Aunt Sarah's birthday!)  weighing in at a whopping 8 pounds, 7 ounces and 19 1/4 inches long, this little one has already stolen our hearts!

                                                    Welcome to the world, Olivia Ryan!
Olivia came into this world with her little eyes open and quite alert.  I think she was ready to meet her mommy, daddy and entire BIG, FAT FAMILY.
This is such a precious picture of daddy and daughter looking into each others' eyes.  Daddy...The first man a girl falls in love with.
                              And then she got passed around so we could all check her out...
I love the way Poppi checks his new Grands out.  I have pictures of him holding each one this exact way.
Oh, the irony of a dentist's baby who comes out sucking her thumb (Insert big smile on YaYa's face here! He-He).
                                                        Their FIRST FAMILY PHOTO.
More girls means more BIG headbands and BOWS!  Notice her monogrammed swaddle blanket.  I bought it for her at Boco Baby.
                                                       Welcome to parenthood, Daddy.
 And, of course, I knitted a few things for sweet Olivia.  This is one of the Knitted Top Knot Hats in white.

                                   And this one in a pink multicolor is one of my favorites.
                                           Here she is wrapped up in the blanket I made.

Saturday was another big day that kept me busy.  I went to a friend's baby shower, Sarah's birthday celebration and then on to Natchitoches to spend the night and help out with our new little one.  Where once it wasn't that fun to get up in the middle of the night with your own babies, getting up with your Grands is quite different...
OK...Maybe not so different in the fact that you both fall asleep, BUT different in the fact that you don't actually mind.
We are SO EXCITED to add this precious new little one to our BIG, FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY!
                                                             Welcome, Olivia Ryan
                                        We already "Love you to the moon and back..."



Anxiety. It's Real.

Anxiety.  Do you have it?  Do you know someone who has it?  Have you often scoffed at the idea of anxiety or someone having an anxiety attack?  Take a step back and do your research because "Anxiety Is Real".

Oh, I can remember as a child and adolescent growing up things that made me "nervous".  I was a classical pianist and had to perform on the stage many times.  And while sitting at my piano inside my house or at a lesson I was quite confident and very precise, I can also remember standing behind the curtain awaiting my turn to step out into the spotlight on stage and that's when it happened.  My heart began to pound, my hands started shaking and I seriously thought I might throw up.  My adrenaline pushed me through the event and a few minutes after I walked off of the stage my symptoms disappeared.

As I got older I also noticed that certain situations caused me discomfort.  More discomfort than what the ordinary person experienced.  Something that others considered to be insignificant was very significant to me and thinking about it amplified the event even more in my mind.  I have come to realize that,  but simply realizing you have anxiety does not fix it.  Often times it only gets worse as time goes on.

Before my anxiety attacks began, I started having physical issues that I thought were sinus related.  I woke up one morning with my ear aching and my jaw was so sore I could barely open it.  I called a friend who is an ENT, made an appointment with him and that's when he introduced me to something I had no clue about; TMJ or TMD.  He suggested I see a dental specialist who could treat me for it and that's what I did.  I had a splint made to wear while I slept since I apparently clenched my teeth and was also given a medication that would help relax my jaw.  As long as I did these things, I didn't have an episode.  However, if I slacked off (feeling better), it would not be long before I had more problems.  I also noticed in times of stress these symptoms became much worse.  At this point I was not considering I might actually have an issue with anxiety.

Fast forward a few years.  A lot of things took place; weddings, births, graduations, an elderly parent with failing health,  children moving to other cities.  And while previously I had been able to go, go, go and do, do, do, I found myself more frequently slipping into some anxiety moments.  And I say this lightly but it has not been a "light" situation at all.  Let me tell you what an anxiety attack feels like.  You might not actually be "in" a stressful moment but perhaps been under stress the week before or maybe you have just been thinking about issues that cause you stress (things become much bigger in the mind of a person who suffers from anxiety).  So, you are just sitting there and you feel the anxiety coming on.  Your heart begins to race.  Maybe you get unusually hot or cold.  You start to feel a little shaky, unstable on your feet, perhaps.  Your breathing becomes shallow and your chest gets tight. You might experience some dizziness.  And then you go into real panic mode  because this scares you.  Even if it's happened before and you know what is happening.  At this point it is difficult to get things under control without medication; or at least for me it is.  And this is progress for me to be admitting this because I tried for a while to do so.  And after coming out of an anxiety attack you feel a bit washed out.  Like you have been running a race and you have no energy left; you just feel like collapsing.

Now that I had identified and come to terms with the fact that I had anxiety, what did I do about it?  Well, admitting it was the first step.  And that was a big one because face it, no one likes to think that they have a problem that they can't handle.  Second was getting some help in the form of medication.  This is the same medication that I use for my TMJ.  (Hmmm...yes, my TMJ is caused by stress.).  Thirdly, I have to talk more about things that are bothering me; get them off my chest and just verbalize them.  These things together have helped me with my anxiety.  Do I still have episodes?  Absolutely.  But I have come to realize that no matter how uncomfortable an anxiety attack may be, I can get through it. 

So, the next time someone says they have anxiety, don't brush them off.  Or make them seem like anxiety is not a real problem.   Don't make them feel insignificant or weak for not being able to handle certain situations the way you do.  Look at everyone as an individual.  We are not all alike.  We all have our strengths and weaknesses and that's OK.  If you have anxiety I encourage you to not let this condition define you.  Get up each day and make it count for GOOD!

                                               Click HERE for symptoms of Anxiety.


Paleo Chicken Pot Pie

I am at the 6 month point of my Paleo lifestyle and truly, I have not found it difficult to prepare and eat this type of food.  There are so many recipes out there and they are so delicious.  Besides just purchasing good, healthy foods, you need to keep your Paleo flours and oils on hand.  My hubby, a good cook already, has come up with some pretty yummy recipes himself and I have been wanting to share this one for Paleo Chicken Pot Pie with you for a while.  The problem is, Hubby is one of those guys who throws this and that in a pot and then when you ask him for the recipe he can't remember what all he put in it.  So, Sunday when it was cold and rainy here I thought, "What a perfect day for Chicken Pot Pie!"  He agreed to prepare it for me while I grabbed a pencil, paper and my camera, of course.

                                                       PALEO CHICKEN POT PIE


 First, you are going to need to cube some chicken.  It can be chicken you have left over, you can boil a  chicken breast or when I am in a rush I just use canned chicken.  (OMG!  Or how yummy would that left over turkey from the holidays be next year?!)
                               I like to use mixed vegetables; carrots, green peas and green beans.
Put your chicken and veggies in a skillet along with 1 cup of chicken broth, 1 tsp. Turmeric, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper and 1/8 tsp. dry mustard.  Stir together and then add 1 T. Arrow Root (to thicken).  Let this simmer while you make your crust.

1 1/3 cup Almond Flour
1/3 cup Tapioca Flour
1/4 cup solid Coconut Oil
1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt
Put all of these ingredients into a food processor and pulse until mixed.

                                       Roll dough into a ball and place on parchment paper.
Place another piece of parchment paper over the dough and then begin rolling it out with a rolling pin.
Next, you will need to flip the crust over into your ramekin.  Completely cover the bottom and sides and then poke holes in the bottom with a fork and place in a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes, until brown.
        Now, you will dish some of the filling out into your browned crust.  Don't be skimpy...Fill it up!
You will now need to take the left over dough and roll it out between the parchment paper again to make the top crust.
Place the dough on top and trim it to fit and seal the edges.  Then take a knife and cut a slit in the top to vent it.  Place you pie in the oven until the top is brown (This will not take long, maybe 7-10 minutes).
                       And now you are ready to eat this DELICIOUS Paleo Chicken Pot Pie!

This has been one of my favorite meals to eat on these cold, rainy nights we have been having this winter.  Quick, easy, hearty, healthy and delicious.  What more could you ask for?!
                                                            and remember...
                                                           EAT GOOD FOOD!



Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

We all make plans.  However, plans have a way of going awry.  Especially when there are lots of people involved AND some of those people are traveling by plane.

It is quite difficult to get our whole crew together at one time but we had been planning this past weekend for a while.  The ball gowns were purchased along with tuxedos for all of the guys.  Babysitters were set up because we were staying overnight at the venue.  And yes...although it would be only one week until Ryan and Allison's baby was due, we were going to the Winter Ball to hear Neal McCoy perform and basically all be together and have a little family fun.  Friday was Kevin, Caitlin and Holli's flight date from Cleveland and getting out of there was not the problem.  The problem came in the form of snow and ice that Dallas had.  So, with only a 50 minute flight keeping them from being here, the adventure of making yet more lemonade out of lemons began.

I was tied up with a family emergency at the hospital while most of this was going on but I was well aware that things weren't looking good for our Ohioans getting to Louisiana that night...or maybe the next day for that matter (ugh...).  After sitting on the tarmac, in the plane, after it had landed for two hours, they finally moved inside to sit at the gate for another two hours before their flight was actually cancelled.  That's when the real chaos ensued.  If they tried to get on another plane the next day would they even make it here in time for the Ball? (Like I said, "It's always something!)

The decision was made and after about another couple of hours a car was rented and they started driving here.  Through the snow and ice.  But HEY!  They've driven in worse in Ohio.  Around 1:30, they could drive no more and stopped to spend the night in Natchitoches and got here by the middle of Saturday morning.  With no luggage...

Luckily Caitlin's ball gown was here because she was having it altered and she was borrowing a pair of my shoes.  She had purchased Kevin's shirt, tie and cuff links online and had them shipped here but the poor guy's tuxedo and shoes were still in Dallas.  That's when the search began.  Robby had an extra tuxedo but the pants were a little long so we called someone who was kind enough to call their tailor in and hem them for him.  Robby also let him borrow some socks, while a friend let him borrow a pair of shoes and cummerbund.  All of the girls pitched in to let Caitlin borrow make-up and hair products.  This wasn't an easy lemonade to made but we were doing it.  Finally leaving around 3 p.m., we were all ready to drive to our destination and check into our rooms early so we could catch our breath before it was time for the Ball to begin.

After all we went through to actually make it to this event the guys didn't even fuss too much about me wanting to snap a few photos.  And so here we are...can you tell how stressed out we had been squeezing all of those lemons?!
                          Not too bad, huh?  But GEEZ...I sure am getting tired of lemonade!