A Birthday Weekend: Parker Ann Turns 5!

It was quite a busy weekend,  with Parker Ann celebrating her 5th birthday.  YES...Can you believe she is already 5 years old and in kindergarten this year?!  I told her there was NO WAY she could possibly be 5 years old and she said, "Don't worry, YaYa, I will still be your baby no matter how old I get."  OK, now, I'm holding her to that one for sure!  Anyway, since it was her birthday weekend David and his family came in to join the rest of us for her party...

 Friday was Parker's actual birthday so the family got together at her house for hamburgers, some birthday cake and presents that evening!  As you can see, there were birthday wishes all over the place to make this Birthday Girl feel good on her special day.
                                        This was hanging from the windows in her bedroom.

As I said, Friday night was the family party which I think is a really good idea once children get into school; having two separate parties.  We actually did this with our kids as well and its works out great.  The children get to spend some time with their family in a more calm atmosphere opening presents and eating cake at home.
                        Look at all the American Girl Doll stuff from Poppi and YaYa!
                                            This little girl LOVES her American Girl Dolls.
                               And then there was the homemade birthday cake...Funfetti!

And next came the BIG PRESENT from mommy and daddy...
   A FROZEN JEEP!  OK, This jeep is really cool...It has a radio in it that plays,  "Let It Go" while
   driving your baby dolls down the street!

On Saturday, Parker had her friends party which was an LSU cheerleader themed party at a gymnastics studio...

And, of course, the family wasn't about to miss out on this one either...
                                             Uncle Dave and Uncle Ryan-Poo were there.
                                                                      Poppi and Livie.
                                             Baby sister, Lila Kate smiling from ear to ear.
                                       And Beckett, who had a BLAST playing in the gym!
It was a SUPER SPECIAL weekend for this SUPER SPECIAL little girl!  We all LOVE her SO MUCH and are SO HAPPY she's a part of OUR BIG, FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY...It just wouldn't be the same without her!


I think everybody is "officially" back in school now and getting into that routine.  Well, it sorta sucks a little because for about 3 months everything has been a little more laid back; no pressure with homework or bed times.  But HEY...I've got something that might make you smile; a Back-To-School GIVE-AWAY that you are just going to LOVE!

Before we went on vacation this year Justin brought Hubby and me both these awesome Yeti cups.  When we got on the road early the morning we set out on the road trip I put my coffee in it to sip along the way.  Was I surprised when well into an hour that coffee was still steaming HOT.  I immediately knew that this was going to be my NEW FAVORITE CUP.  But then I found out something that really confirmed that when we got to Disney World and it was SO HOT outside.  I filled that same cup up with ice and water and at the end of the day there was still ice in it!  NO...I'm NOT kidding you.  I started thinking about what an awesome gift this would be to stick under the Christmas tree for...Like EVERYBODY!

So, here's the deal:  I love this Yeti cup SO MUCH that I am GIVING one away to some lucky person out there!  Yep, this is my BACK-TO-SCHOOL GIVE-AWAY and here's what you have to do in order to enter the GIVE-AWAY:

***You may do ANY or ALL of these but MUST "Join" my site in order to be entered into the
       GIVE-AWAY.  For each additional page you "like", "follow" or "join", you will get ANOTHER
       ENTRY into the GIVE-AWAY.***

1.  "Join" my blog site.  Just hit the button and fill out the required information.
2.  "Like" my Facebook PAGE and share the GIVE-AWAY POST.
3.  "Follow" me on Instagram at BarbaraRogenmoser and share the GIVE-AWAY POST.

THEN...Under the comments of ANY of those pages leave your e-mail address and I will enter you into the GIVE-AWAY for this AWESOME YETI CUP!

This contest will run from Wednesday, August 26-Wednesday, September 2.  The winner will be announced on THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 3.

                                                                         GOOD LUCK!
                                                 I hope this NEW SCHOOL YEAR is AWESOME!


Announcing GRAND NUMBER 7!

OK...So, I feel like it won't be long before the kids in this family outnumber the adults.  WOW!  "Number 7" is due to arrive on February 22; just 3 days after my birthday...What a WONDERFUL birthday present!  Parents?  David and Codi.  Yes, Beckett is about to get a brother or sister!  And our BIG, FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY continues to GROW...

                                                 OUR BIG, FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY!

My Thyroid Journey Continues: Finding an Endocrinologist

It seems as though I have been living my life through increments of 6 week periods of time.  That's how long it takes between thyroid medication dosage blood tests to see if it is working well.  Since March I have absolutely been on a roller coaster ride with my TSH levels swinging up and down along with my dosages of Synthroid and that is what made me finally decided to see an endocrinologist.

It has been 4 years since I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.  I say diagnosed because this was when a blood test found I had this condition.  I suspect, however, that I most likely had it for a good while before then.  I have attempted to let my general practitioners take care of my medication but it became clear to me that something was going on with me that couldn't be fixed with a normal dosage.
In March, right about the time Olivia was being born I began experiencing hyper symptoms.  Let me interject here that being hyper from over medication is just as miserable and sometimes worse than hypo if you can imagine that.  I started having hear palpitations, tremors, insomnia,  anxiety, all the symptoms common with hyperthyroidism.  I took myself down for a blood test and I was right.  My Synthroid dosage was lowered from 62.5 mcg to 50 mcg.  Soon I began to feel better.

By the end of May, around the time of my trip to Miami and LasVegas (Yes, I always associate these flare-ups with certain events; just a habit), I was still feeling OK but pretty tired.  I chalked it up to jet lag.  However, when I went for a blood test in June I found that my TSH had jumped to 17!  This freaked me out a bit because it had never been this high, even when I was first diagnosed.  I immediately made an appointment with an endocrinologist and was glad that I had.  It was going to take them 3 months to get me in but I had an appointment and felt a bit more hopeful at that prospect.

When the TSH jumped to 17 my doctor once again changed my medication back to 62.5 and I had another blood test at 3 weeks just to see if it was beginning to come down.  It was down to 8; at least I knew the new medication dosage was doing its job.  At 6 week (the optimal time to check) my levels were down to 3.7.  The range that physicians like to see a TSH level is 0.3-3.  So, I was right there at the threshold of normal.  Every time in the past that I had attempted to move up to 75 mcg I went hyper.  I sure didn't want to be hyper for our Disney World trip.  I questioned this dosage but decided to just take it since I would be going to my endo appointment soon after we returned from vacation.

Now...how did I decide on an endocrinologist?  Well, my husband got online and found out that UT Dallas had a great endocrinology department and we contacted them.  So, after waiting for my appointment for 3 months and moving up and down from hyper to hypo,  I felt drained but ready to find something out by the time I arrived.  As I sat in the examination room waiting for the doctor to see me I began to  experience a little anxiety.  On the one hand I was ready to get relief from my symptoms but on the other hand I was afraid of what they might find.  I sat there for quiet a while and as I did my nerves began to calm and that's about the time the first doctor came in to question me.

After going over everything with the first doctor (who I found out was doing a fellowship in endocrinology), the main doctor came in.  She had gone over all of my information and asked me to sit on the table for an examination.  The first thing she did was to check the reflexes in my arms and knees.  WOW!  I thought I might kick myself in the face they were so overly sensitive.  The next thing she did was to feel my neck where the thyroid is located.  She had me swallow several times and then gave me a glass of water to drink as she felt me swallowing it.  I was told there did not appear to be any growths on my thyroid; this was a relief.  As she touched me she said, "You feel warm; are you hot?"  Well, define hot, I thought.  I started to say that I really didn't think I felt hot when Hubby began shaking his head in the affirmative.  Poor guy, I've been sleeping with the air conditioner set on 68 degrees (Yikes!).   I was then asked to hold my hands out in front of me while she looked at them.  Then she gave me a Styrofoam cup and had me hold it.  My hands definitely had tremors.  Then she told my to just hold it with two fingers and I was really shaky.  This confirmed that I was over medicated again as I had suspected (sigh...).

The findings were that I am apparently very sensitive to the thyroid medication, therefore, my dosage has been changed to this:  Monday-Friday I will take 62.5 mcg of Synthroid and Saturday and Sunday I will take 75 mcg.  I will have follow-up blood tests in 6 weeks to see how that is working and I will actually go back to UT the first week of December.  Until then I have an online portal with my doctor where I can ask and have questions answered or am able to call and speak to them.

I'm still living in 6 week increments of time but I am hopeful now.  I feel like this condition has taken enough from me and by seeking out a specialist I am taking control of it and being proactive.  And on this journey I am learning things.  Things about me, about life, about making the most of each day and being thankful.  I'm sharing my journey with you because along the way I have met many, many women who are suffering from thyroid symptoms just as I have and I want to offer hope and solutions to you.  Hang in there.  Keep seeking answers.  Live in the moment and do not let your thyroid problems define who you are!

***For symptoms of hypothyroidism click HERE.  For symptoms of hyperthyroidism click HERE.
      For symptoms of thyroid over medication click HERE***


Sunday Dessert: Butterfingers Cake

This past Sunday I brought back an oldie but goodie with my Butterfingers Cake for Sunday Dessert.  I know what you're most likely thinking too:  "Isn't this girl a gluten-free/paleo girl?"  The answer is YES!  However, no one else in my family is SO...I make them all happy by baking those yummy full on normal desserts (sorry, Paleo Pals...).

You are going to LOVE the Butterfingers Cake not only because it is delicious but also because of the simplicity of the recipe.  Here goes...
  It all starts with a store bought Super Moist cake mix.  Make the cake exactly as the package says.

I made 2 of these cakes for my BIG, FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY this week so I just doubled the recipe.

Once you take the cake out of the oven and while it is still warm poke holes in it with the end of a wooden spoon.

                   Next comes the part that will make this cake SO MOIST and GOOEY!
                               You will first pour a whole can of Eagle Brand into the holes.
                        Followed by a can of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup; also poured into the holes.
  Let the cake sit and cool while you go on to the next step.  YES...there's MORE yumminess to add!
You are going to make some whipped cream now.  Pour 1 pint of heavy whipping cream into your mixer.
                                                           Add 1 cup of sugar to that.
Start beating it until it becomes light and fluffy.  OH...and be sure to run your finger across the paddle to taste it...just to make sure it tastes good ya know (wink, wink).
            The cake should be cool by now so go ahead and spread that whipped cream on top.
And now for the Butterfingers.  I bought 2 bags of the minis for 2 cakes.  OK, actually I bought 3 bags; 1 for snacking on during the week.  And don't be intimidated by that little notice on the bag that tells you how many calories are in each bar.  Just ignore it because there's no such thing as "calories" in "Sunday Dessert", is there?!
                                                                Chop those babies up...
  And then sprinkle them on top of the cake.  Cover the cake with foil and keep in the refrigerator.

OK, so what do you think?  Pretty easy to make AND delicious!  You definitely MUST try this dessert out on your own family.  I guarantee it will put a smile on their faces!


I was lucky enough to get an invitation to Sunday lunch this week.  Justin cooked...for all of us.  Yep, that's how this BIG, FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY rolls.  You invite one, you invite ALL.  And so I decided to still make my Sunday Dessert but just a little later in the day.  You see, Saturday morning as I was sitting in bed drinking my coffee, one of my FAVORITE cooking shows came on; The Pioneer Woman.  I just LOVE this woman!  I mean, really, what's not to love?  She lives on a ranch, home schools her kids, is a blogger and makes the most AWESOME food...AND her recipes are SO SIMPLE that even I am not intimidated by them.  And so when I saw her make an Ice Cream Pie I just knew THAT had to be our Sunday Dessert this week.  After all, what better dessert could one hope for in this heat wave we have been experiencing here in the south?!

                                   The first thing I did was to make a graham cracker pie crust.
It was SO SIMPLE.  Just put 18 graham cracker squares into a food processor and pulse until they look like this.
       Pour 1/3 cup melted butter into the graham crackers and then mix it all up really good.
Press this mixture into a pie pan and pop it into a preheated 350 degree oven for 5 minutes.  Then take out and set aside.
Now comes the fun part!  Get 4 Reece's Peanut Butter Cups and 2 large Butterfingers Bars and get to chopping!
                                                 In a bowl, put 2 pints of vanilla ice cream.
             Now pour all of that yummy candy into the ice cream and mix it all together.
                      Pour the ice cream/candy mixture into your graham cracker pie shell.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped pecans on top and then cover with foil and place in the freezer until frozen.  I know it will be tempting to cut into it before it is set but be patient...Good things will come to those who wait.

There is also a caramel sauce I made to drizzle over the pie before eating it and you can find it included in the COMPLETE RECIPE here.  TRUST ME...You definitely want to make this dessert.  Over and over again most likely.  We're dying here in the south with temperatures yesterday reaching 105!  My family could not wait to get home out of the heat and cut a big ole slice of this yumminess.

***Note:  You will probably not hear from me again until Friday since I will be traveling to Dallas to finally meet with an endocrinologist who will hopefully be able to help me with my whacked out thyroid.  I will let you all know how that goes...Wish me luck!***

The Mischief of TWO, TWO-Year Olds...

I know that you all have likely heard of the "Terrible Two's"; who hasn't?!  Well, right now in our BIG, FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY, we have TWO,  TWO-Year olds.  And throughout our vacation I had the most fun watching those two because seriously, what one couldn't think of the other could AND then enlisted the other to join them.  So while the parents might not always think their antics are so adorable, YaYa definitely did!

 I love the fact that these two are exactly three months apart in age.  It warms my heart to see them together.
 What's better than snuggling down in a big ole soft comforter and breaking open some Oreo Cookies?!
And yes...it is apparently a universal law that ALL Oreos must be broken apart and the middle eaten out first!

While on vacation, Beckett constantly played in the shower.  This was his little secret place to hide when the girls were doing other things (or more specifically to get away from the girls for a quiet moment...).  However, one day Holli appeared and found out about his little secret.  She quickly joined in and before the poor little guy knew it...she had him trapped (a cautionary tale for all males, Beck Beck...).

                                                       "OK, Beckett, you go in there."

                                                         "Let's just shut this door now."
                                                   "See, you're in there and I'm out here."
                                       "YaYa, she put me in here...now how do I get out?!"
                                                   "Hahahahaha!!!  He can't get out now!"
                                                      Just like a girl, Beck...Take note!
But at the end of the day I can see that these two will always be thick as thieves and have each other's back.

The wonderful world of cousins.  I don't personally have too much experience with it but my observations tell me that it is quite wonderful indeed.  Much like siblings, cousins share love, life and adventures.  It makes me happy to know that my children are fostering the "cousin connection" with their children.  THIS is one of the things that makes families so special; the bond between individuals that is held together with the glue called love.