DIY Harry Potter Party: the best tips for throwing a party for your kids

Welcome back, everyone! I’m excited to share my tips for throwing a DIY Harry Potter party with you! We had such a blast celebrating our little man this last weekend, and I have had a ton of fun looking back through all of the pictures! I kept in mind mine and my husband’s budget while planning this party, so I didn’t get to do everything I would have liked to. However, I think all of the little things made a big impact, and it turned out to be one of my favorite days and parties ever! I absolutely love Harry Potter, and I’m so glad I got to geek out on these decorations, food ideas, and more! Here are my tips for throwing a DIY Harry Potter party!

What a first birthday means to me…

Birthdays are a big deal to me. There…I said it. I know most people hate their birthday and call it “just any other day”, but I think there is something really special about taking a day out to celebrate a specific person. For instance, I love celebrating my husband’s birthday because its a day I get to do a few special things to remind him how much he’s loved. I think that’s a wonderful thing to do! Don’t you?

So, you can image how I feel about the first birthday. I love baby Flynn so much and I know he’s just going to grow up wonderfully geeky like his parents. So, naturally, a Harry Potter first birthday party came to mind! More importantly…a DIY Harry Potter party! We didn’t have a ton of money to spend on this party so I did a lot of the little things myself. Made a few items and stayed frugal with others. This is how we got away with the whole DIY Harry Potter party in the first place!

It meant so much to me that this party went well. Not in a stressful way though. I just wanted it to be as much fun as possible for everyone! And luckily, it turned out to be just that!

Baby Flynn is mine and my husband’s everything, so this was such a special moment for us and our little one. And although I know he won’t remember it, at least he’ll see a ton of pictures and know he had one heck of a good first birthday! Now, I just have to top it every year- yikes! 😛 No…but really…it’ll be fun! I love doing stuff like this!

It’s important to remember that the first birthday party is more for the parents than anything. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all about the baby. But it’s also about celebrating you all as a family and that you’ve made it a whole year! Now, you get to spoil your little one with some cake and presents and that feels so good!

An important takeaway…

One thing that I really want everyone to take away from this blog post is that you have to rein yourself in. I know I mentioned it before, but it’s worth mentioning a second time and in it’s own section. I know myself, if I had an unlimited budget and enough time on my hands, I would have made this party ridiculously over the top. And while there is fun in that, I much prefer the way we did things. In fact, I think the things we did (which even seemed like a lot at the time), spread out nicely through the house and made exactly the right amount of impact.

This party was also kind of our housewarming shindig so we didn’t want to cover the walls or detract much from the everyday decor. And that also saved us a lot of money in the process.

I stuck with crafts and things that were relatively inexpensive and got creative by using some of the props we had from the local Theatre program that my husband works for as a professor. My point? I did everything I could to save money, get creative, and use what I already had around the house. If I was going to by something, I had to be very selective about what it was and really had to narrow down the most important items.

In my opinion…this is the way to go!

Not only did it save me money, but it made it so nothing looked too over the top, but it still was heavily themed for the party. It was truly the perfect amount!

I thought it would be helpful to include a list of things that you commonly think about when planning a first birthday party. I know, for me, it was difficult to remember ALL of the many things you need to think about when planning this big-ish event. Notice I say big-ish here. The biggest point I want to hit home with this blog is that you need to rein yourself in. You can’t do everything…you are a human…you will go crazy. So, here’s my list for…

Things you’ll want to think about when planning a first birthday party:

  • smash cake *Consider Walmart for a free smash cake!
  • cupcakes or Sheet cake (I recommend cupcakes! Easier!)
  • high chair banner
  • food
  • any condiments for food (Just go with pizza instead and make your life easier!)
  • plastic tablecloths (Dollar tree!!!)
  • paper plates
  • plastic utensils
  • cups
  • napkins
  • table decorations
  • decorations in general
  • balloons
  • invitations (e-vites, Text messages, and Facebook all the way! Save your money!!! I’m going to write a post about this. I’ll link it here when it’s ready.)
  • porch decorations
  • seating
  • present table location
  • guest list
  • parking
  • telling neighbors about party (and all the cars)
  • themed clothes for baby (and yourself if you want to have some fun!)
  • party location (Have it at home if you can to save some money!)

Can you think of any more items I should add to the list? Let me know in the comments and I’ll give you a shoutout!

 DIY Harry Potter party DECORATIONS

First, you’ll obviously need to pass through platform 9 and 3/4. I mean, how else would you want to get to Hogwarts? Best to take a running start if you’re a bit nervous.

Platform 9 3/4 Decoration for front door for a DIY Harry Potter party

Platform 9 3/4 Decoration for Harry Potter party

Platform 9 3/4 decoration for Harry Potter party

And make sure to watch your step in the bathroom…

 

Chamber of Secrets message on bathroom mirror

Make sure not to miss Flynn’s Harry Potter Birthday banner! I got it on Amazon for $10! Here’s the link!

High Chair First Birthday Banner and Smash Cake

Oh! And if you’re looking for a cute owl, this is the one I used. Super cheap and adorable! Couldn’t have turned out better next to my hufflepuff scarf and the luggage.

Harry Potter party decorations

It really set the scene.

We got the Harry Potter trunk when we purchased all of the Harry Potter books. Actually, my amazing husband got them for me for Christmas! I love how they came in the trunk and how it was a perfect party decoration!

I also added little details here and there.

Harry Potter Napkins

The cute little table cutouts came from this adorable etsy shop!

Harry Potter Table Confetti

I got the flickering tea candles from Amazon too (yall, we LOVE us some Amazon in our house). Even though the party was during the day, the flickering helped to set the Harry Potter mood!

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A little sign to welcome our muggle friends to Hogwarts for the party! And my personal favorite! I got this Sorting Hat Candle from an adorable etsy store call flickering fandoms. They send you a white candle and then it turns a random Harry Potter house color. Thus, you have been sorted into your house. Flynn is a Ravenclaw! Just like his daddy! We’re so proud… 😛

Sorting Hat Candle

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DIY Harry Potter party FOOD

We had some delicious food at Flynn’s Harry Potter Birthday! Including:

  • Pizza- Muggle Food

  • Cheese Puffs- Huffle Puffs

  • Bugles- Ravenclaws

  • Gummy Worms- Slytherin Snakes

  • Jolly Ranchers- Gryffindor Droobles

  • Veggie Tray- Herbology Garden

  • Fruit Tray- Forbidden Forest Fruit

  • Cupcakes- Cauldron Cakes

  • Pretzel and Candy Melt Drizzle- Edible Wands

Harry Potter Cauldron Cakes

Forbidden Forest Fruit

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Shoutout to my friend, Sam for helping me make the edible wands! We had a ton of fun!

All we did was drizzle some candy melts over the pretzel rods, added some fun sprinkles, and dusted it with this edible gold dust spray. They were delicious!

Edible Harry Potter Wands

my nieces loved them too!

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His first ever pizza and chocolate! Don’t you just love his face. He’s like, “That’s right…I’m cute AND i’m eating Pizza!”.

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We also had Flynn’s smash cake that we got at Walmart! Did you know that if you buy a certain number of cupcakes for a first birthday party that Walmart will give you a free smash cake? A total score in my book! Some people pay a TON for those!

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Friends and Family

So many amazing people came out to see Flynn (and us, probably :P)! Our best friend drove 19 hours just to get here for a day! That’s true friendship! If you haven’t already, read about our tattoos here. We also got to meet his girl friend, Heather, and we very much approve! 🙂

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Oh! And you can order those awesome shirts here if you want!

Some of our guests were totally awesome and really got into the theme! I just love the Crawfords!

(Chris is my husbands boss, was our college professor, and even officiated our wedding!)

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My brother and baby Flynn!32312946_10160392076905504_2608229228205834240_n

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We are so grateful for the family and friends who came to support Flynn on his birthday!

Do you have any more ideas about what would make a fun Harry Potter first birthday party? I think it went so well and we had such a good time, but I know I had a TON more ideas! Would you be interested in hearing them?

Have a magical day, everyone!

Ellen 🙂

 

Weight Watchers Mexican Brown Rice Casserole Review

Welcome back readers! Sorry I took the day off yesterday. By the end of the day, we were so zonked that we really didn’t feel like cooking. So, I looked up some different weight watchers fast food points and boy was I SHOCKED!

I guess I shouldn’t have been. I mean, fast food is notoriously bad for you. But MAN! But I’m glad for this, I guess. These points are really helping me see the nutrition value in different foods. When I see how many points some of my favorite fast food meals are, it makes me stop and think about how bad they must be for me. And then…I really don’t want to eat them as much.

Except for a cheesy gordita crunch (sub beans for meat if you’re a veggie head like me). I always want one of those bad boys!

I read this week that the Mcdonald’s pancake breakfast is something like 46 WW points! That’s like two whole days of points for me! GEEZ!!!

I definitely can’t be having that….

So, today I writing my review of Weight Watchers Mexican Brown Rice Casserole!

I have to say, I am pleasantly surprised by all of the WW meals we’ve been having. Not one of them has tasted bad. And that includes this casserole!

I was pretty hungry when I started cooking so I forgot to take a picture of the ingredients. Bad blogger! *slaps wrist* But that’s okay. I can still tell you our thoughts.

We couldn’t even taste that the rice was brown. In our house, we tend to stay away from brown rice because we aren’t a fan of the taste. But hey! Now we can eat brown rice and actually like it!

I ended up using some zucchini (still zero points) instead of spinach because that’s just what I was feeling. That change didn’t affect the point value so I was still good- and I enjoyed the meal more than I would have with spinach, I think. I highly recommend trying this substitution!

Weight Watchers Mexican Brown Rice Casserole

Weight Watchers Mexican Brown Rice Casserole

From the WW website:

Ingredients

  • 1 spray(s) cooking spray
  • 4 cup(s) long grain cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 cup(s) fat free salsa
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 15 oz canned refried beans
  • 10 oz frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 4 oz canned green chili peppers, mild, diced
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 10 oz chopped frozen spinach, or collard greens, thawed and set to drain in a strainer over a bowl
  • 3/4 cup(s) Weight Watchers Reduced Fat Mexican style blend shredded cheese, divided
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, fresh, chopped (optional; for garnish)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Coat a 2-quart rectangular, round or oval baking dish with cooking spray

In a large bowl, combine rice, salsa and cumin. Spoon 2 cups of rice mixture into prepared baking dish and spread out to evenly cover bottom of dish.

In another large bowl, combine refried beans, corn, chili peppers and chili power. Using a rubber spatula, scrape bean mixture on top of rice layer and smooth out top.

Squeeze out any excess water from spinach or collard greens and then spread on top of bean layer; sprinkle with 6 Tbsp cheese. Top with remaining rice mixture and smooth out top; sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Place casserole on a large rimmed baking sheet to catch any spillage. Bake until heated through and cheese is browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro (if desired), cut into 6 pieces and serve.

Serving size: 1 piece”

 

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This casserole is seriously delicious. The cumin and salsa taste really yummy with the rice, and the beans and corn added a nice creamy/crunchy texture. I will DEFINITELY be making this again and will continue to be in my weekly meal rotation!

We had a wonderful Cinco de Mayo together as a family. We went to a friend’s party and I had to avoid a plethora of delicious foods. However, I still managed to snack a good bit and stick to my point restrictions. I’m really proud of myself for being able to do that. It was HARD with all that bread and cheese laying around. Not to mention….MARGARITAS!!!

But even without margaritas, it was a good day. 😛

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I’ll be updating you soon about other Weight Watchers meals i’m making and how we like them! Thanks for reading and for coming along on my weight loss journey! My stomach is definitely starting to feel a lot tighter so that’s a great sign!

I weigh in on Wednesday and I’ll let you know how that goes too!

Lots of love!

Ellen 🙂

 

 

 

 

Weight Watchers Strawberry French Toast Review & Weight Loss Surprise!

All I can say is YUM!!!

I really enjoyed making this recipe. It was extremely easy to cook and it didn’t take long at all! Those are the kinds of recipes that I love! Originally, I had planned to make the brown sugar pear french toast, but the strawberries called to me. <3

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Ingredients

  • 2 cup(s) unsweetened frozen strawberries, very coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup(s) water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 large egg(s)
  • 3/4 cup(s) fat free skim milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 8 slice(s) reduced-calorie whole wheat bread, or multi-grain
  • 2 spray(s) cooking spray

You start by mixing the strawberries (chopped) and water in a pot and cook them down until the strawberries are soft and juicy.

Weight Watchers Strawberry Compote

Weight Watchers Strawberry Compote

After it’s done cooking, you add in the sugar and let it dissolve.

Then, whisk the rest of the ingredients together. (other than the bread obviously…that would be weird).

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Dip the bread into the egg mixture and cook the slices in a pan with no stick cooking spray.

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Once you’re done cooking, top the french toast with the compote.

This recipe is only 4 points! It’s a really great option if you don’t have many points left for the day. Actually…it’s just a good option all around!

We love breakfast for dinner at our house so this will definitely go in my WW weekly rotation! That compote was…MMMMM…

I topped mine with some lite whipped topping too! I highly recommend doing this!

We will most definitely be making this again!

We also went to the grocery store so that I could pick up a few snacky items that are weight watcher friendly.

We stopped and got some fuel.

Mine was a tall very berry hibiscus tea that was 90 calories and 4 WW points. It was so refreshing and yummy! The perfect pick me up! The hub’s was…well…let’s just say not WW friendly. 😛

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His and hers Starbucks drinks

Once again…I forgot to get the picture of everything all pretty in the cart. One day I’ll get that elusive picture. One day…

But I digress…

Here’s my healthy grocery haul!

My healthy weight watchers friendly grocery haul

My healthy weight watchers friendly grocery haul

I can’t wait to try those WW ice cream bars! I’m drooling just at the thought!

As far as my weight loss surprise….I’VE LOST 3 pounds!

I weighed myself and after only a short time (less than a week) I’ve managed to lose 3 whole pounds just by following the WW eating plan and walking on the treadmill. I WAS SHOCKED! AND SOOO EXCITED!

3 pounds may not seem like a lot but I…

1.) wasn’t expecting it

and

2.) am really proud of myself for losing any weight…no matter how much.

I can’t wait to see the results that I’m going to get in the future!

If you try the strawberry french toast, let me know how you like it! I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you think of the recipe.

Questions:

1.) What kind of fruit compote would you want on your french toast?

2.) Have you tried any of the items in my grocery haul?

3.) How did you find my blog?

Lots of love!

Ellen 🙂

 

Weight Watchers Spicy Black Bean Soup & A Weight Loss Inspiration Chat

Hello readers! Thanks for coming back and visiting my little corner of the internet!

I started the weight watchers program yesterday and am trying out some of their recipes. I am a vegetarian and I was afraid that I wouldn’t have a lot of options. I was SO wrong! There are a ton of things that you can eat as a vegetarian on the weight watchers plan!

That includes this spicy black bean soup! And it’s delicious! Ours definitely had too much water in the recipe. It calls for 3 cups, but I will be adding less next time. Although, if we used the immersion blender it probably would have had a better consistency. However, the extra liquid didn’t ruin it for us. This soup has delicious flavorings! I especially liked the cumin in combination with the black beans. YUM!

Here’s how to make the Weight Watchers Spicy Black Bean Soup!

Ingredients

  • 5 spray(s) cooking spray
  • 2 cup(s), chopped uncooked onion(s)
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper(s), seeded and minced
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp bay leaf (I just used a bay leaf and took it out after cooking)
  • 5 cup(s) fat free vegetable broth
  • 3 cup(s) water, or more as needed
  • 8 cup(s) canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup(s) fat-free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp lime zest, finely grated
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

*Note: I did not use cilantro as it is literally my kryptonite.

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Screenshot 2018-05-02 21.51.47

 

Like I said, I found that 3 cups of water was too much, but maybe I didn’t cook it down all the way. Either way, I loved this soup! All of the flavors went so well together and there was a TON left over!

The best part? This soup is 0 points! Can you say leftover 0 point lunches? It will be so easy to heat up and enjoy! The sour cream looking stuff is actually a lime cream made from plain greek nonfat yogurt and lime zest! It was soooo good!

I also had my first call with my Weight Watchers coach and it went really well. Her name is Beth and she is super nice! We talked a lot about why I want to lose weight and how I can achieve my goals. It sounds really cheesy but I swear it’s helping me control myself around food and actually work out so I’ll keep doing it! For as long as it works, anyway. I hope it becomes a lifestyle! Or at least helps me build a healthy lifestyle so I won’t need to track points anymore.

I weigh in every Wednesday so I’ll keep you updated about that. I don’t think I’ll be sharing my weight quite yet because I’m still getting used to sharing this much, but I’ll definitely let you know how much I lose (and hopefully not what I gain).

You guys are my accountability…along with my coach. I’m literally giving this my all because I know deep down that I have to want this and look at the overall goal to make this actually happen.

My weight isn’t where I want it to be. In fact, it’s so much higher than it’s ever been. I know I had a baby and have to be gentle on myself, but It’s hard sometimes.

I am determined to make this happen. I know I can do it!

I also found one of my favorite 0 point snacks!

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Questions:

1.) What’s your favorite Weight Watchers recipe or snack?

2.) How do you stay motivated?

3.) Will you be trying the Spicy Black Bean Soup?

Talk to you all tomorrow with another recipe and review!

Ellen 🙂

 

My Weight Watchers Vegetarian Meal Plan

So, I started Weight Watchers yesterday. I signed up for the online version with the coaching. I have my first call with my coach tonight. I’m really excited and looking forward to this process!

I’ve been lacking in motivation recently but I’ve been having fun sharing healthy foods and habits on my instagram page.

Follow me on instagram! @mamabird_blogger

Follow me on instagram! @mamabird_blogger

On instagram, I feel like I am more motivated to eat healthy because I can inspire others with what I make to eat. I can also share my passions and capture some of my favorite moments and keep them in a little public scrapbook. So much fun!

I absolutely love lifestyle blogging and am having a really fun time learning some new tricks and planning new content for you all to read!

Today, I’m excited to share with you a meal plan that I came up with for my dinners (and some other meals too). These are Weight Watchers recipes that I found on their app and that fit into my budget and dietary restrictions.

I’ll be sharing a post every day each week about my previous night’s meal. I want to give you an idea of how they tasted, if they were worth it, how many points they are, and how we liked it overall. If they are good enough, they may just make it into my weekly rotations!

I’m going to share with you the links to the recipes on the WW site! I’m thinking I may try and do this most weeks to help those who are vegetarian (and also those who aren’t) and trying to lose weight. I can’t wait to write the reviews and share my journey with you!

I got up early with my husband and baby bird and we got our grocery shopping on! We loaded up on coffee at the Starbucks kiosk in Ingles (proof that there are Starbucks EVERYWHERE- even in the middle of the mountains).

Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte

Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte

We took a few sips and…we were off! I meant to take a pretty picture of everything in the cart like a good blogger. Alas, you’re getting a picture of everything in the trunk of the car…one day I’ll get that elusive picture. Because I’ve literally forgotten to take it for the past like…5 grocery trips. *facepalm*

*Dr. Pepper for hubs- it is his life source*

Weight Watchers Grocery Haul

My Weight Watchers Grocery Haul

Here’s My Weight Watchers Vegetarian Meal Plan!

1.) Mexican Brown Rice Casserole 

2.) Sauteed Brown Sugar Pear French Toast

3.) Quick Vegetarian Chili 

4.) Spaghetti with no Cook Tomato Sauce

5.) Black Bean Soup with Lime Cream

Some of these recipes are as low as 0 points! I’m so excited to try them and see how they all taste. And especially see if they help me lose weight!

The other two nights of the week will be leftovers. Money doesn’t grow on trees, ya’ll.

We try to have leftovers to save money whenever possible but I love eating out. It’s an addiction that I’m admitting to.

However, now that I’m doing WW, I have a reason to stay in and cook more! So, it’s saving me some money (more than I probably realize) and I’m going to be losing weight! Sounds good to me!

For snacks, I’m thinking i’ll mostly stick to fruits and veggies as those are easily 0 point foods! Here’s a list of the 0 point foods if you’re looking for an easy and delicious snack!

Tomorrow, I’ll be writing about how my first call with my WW coach went and how our first WW dinner was. I’m not sure what we’re going to pick yet, but I hope it’s delicious!

I’ve heard some really amazing things about WW and I’m excited to go on this journey with you all! I’m so thrilled to be kicking up my lifestyle blogging game, and I hope you enjoy all the new content I have coming out for you! And the blog’s new look!

I’ve been taking a lot of free online classes about lifestyle blogging and my husband also got be this helpful book. I hope you’ll be visiting my little corner of the Internet a lot more often now!

Lifestyle Blogging Basics 

Lifestyle Blogging Basics

Thanks for reading and make sure to check back tomorrow for my full review!

Lots of love!

Mama Bird (AKA…Ellen) 😉

Baby Bath Time!

Baby Bath Time!

 

Healthy Lifestyle, Home Decor, And Lots Of Espresso

Welcome back to my little corner of the internet. I’ll be honest, it’s been hard to write lately. Well, I should rephrase. I’m actually writing so much for other bloggers that I don’t have time to write for myself! So, not a bad thing at all, but it’s hard to write even more after a day of writing.

I’ve been fueling up with espresso this week though! I am obsessed with the iced cinnamon almond milk macchiato! I got it with the sugar free syrup and without the drizzles.

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This leads me to my next point. I’ve decided it’s time to cut the crap. I’ve been giving a lot of excuses for my eating behavior. I’ve told myself “i’ll start on Monday” and “Treat Yo Self!” too much in the last few months. No more!

For the last few days, I’ve been making a very conscious and difficult effort to eat healthy and start a new lifestyle for myself. I’m not saying I’ll be health 100% of the time, but I’m going to try to stop drinking so much soda and stop eating so much bad stuff for my body.

I haven’t had soda for a few days and I took a small sip today. I was SO surprised by how sugary it tasted. Needless to say, it’s time for a change and I’m going to make it. Here’s a list of reasons I need to lose the weight so I can come back to this later when I want to eat an entire bag of peanut M and M’s:

1.) So my wedding rings fit again

2.) To make my husband go “daaaaaaammnn girrrrrl.” 😛

3.) To feel like myself again and comfortable in my own skin

4.) To be healthier and in better shape for my son

5.) To prove to myself that I can

When ice cream calls to me…I’ll look back at this list.

So, this week has been a good one! We’ve started decorating our new house and I’m really loving the new home decor!

How much do you love that wheel?! Our awesome real estate agents got it for us!

We’ve spent this Saturday outside planting some new hanging planters on our front porch. Flynn is LOVING his new swing!

Can you guess what colors the 4 flowers are in the planters? I’ll give you a hint…Flynn’s having a pretty magical birthday soon! I CAN’T WAIT to write a blog post about his first birthday party!

And yes, Flynn did have a confrontation with our couch. Poor thing. He had one heck of a goose egg. Of course, I completely freaked out and assumed his brain was falling out of his head! Thankfully, our friend Sam was there calm me down and bring me back to reality.

Oh! And #oldheadshotday happened and…well…this happened too.

 

Oh 16 year old me. *sigh* What can you do? I look really street with those loose braids.

*facepalm*

Finally, we carved our initials into a tree in our front yard. It really feels like home here now.

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Make sure to check back to see my weight loss journey! I’m really excited to be taking this seriously and getting this weight off, but I did your inspiration and help!

I’ll write again soon!

Ellen 🙂

What it feels like to have a panic attack

Yesterday started like any other day.

After I woke up, I kissed my husband and baby and gave my dog a little pat. I checked my phone, read my Facebook notifications, and prepared myself for the day ahead.

And then it started…

I could feel my chest starting to hurt…really hurt. It started to become harder and harder to breathe. My palms started to become sweaty and my vision a little blurred.

I knew what was happening. I was having a panic attack.

But that’s pretty par for the course when it comes to me so I didn’t think anything more of it. In my life, anxiety has been an ever-looming presence since I can remember. It’s cost me relationships, goals, and I’ve missed out on more things that I’ve wanted to do than I can say. But again…that’s all normal occurrences for me.

This time, though, something was different. For the past few days, I’ve been pushing my anxiety down- trying to forget about it and focus on things that I felt were more important and that needed to be done right away. I let myself push that anxiety down into the depths of my body and hid it away for another time…another day. This, I would come to find out, was the wrong decision.

I was quickly aware that this panic attack was different from the others. It wasn’t one of those times where i’d just cry, roll up in a ball, and call my husband to calm me down.

No. This was not one of those times.

I’ve had what probably equals to thousands of panic attacks in my life, but never before have I felt what I did yesterday. That’s why I wanted to write this blog post.

The purpose of me writing this is to walk you through my experience in a way that makes it easy for those who don’t have anxiety to understand what it feels like when a panic attack is happening. I have had experiences with people who don’t get how anxiety can affect a person. In fact, there have been many people in my life who discount my anxiety for being laziness or me being just plain weird. Today, I’m looking at these people and saying,

“No. I’m not lazy. I’m not crazy. I am affected by something that so many others are who fail to speak up out of fear. Fear that you’ll ridicule them. And fear that they won’t be accepted.”

It ends today.

Yesterday, I was struggling hard to keep it together- to continue working, to take care of my son. Hell, feeding him lunch seemed almost impossible because all I wanted to do was lay down and cry. But, of course, I didn’t have that option. So, instead, I stood in front of my almost one year old son, tearing up his lunch into little pieces while balling my eyes out. His little eyes looked up and me like he was scared- scared of what was happening to mommy. I know, as a one year old, he was just confused. But, in the moment, I was so afraid that he was scared of me.

I finished tearing up a piece of cheese into little bits for him, sat down to eat my own lunch, and felt a wave of anxiety wash over me like a giant ocean tunneling over my body. I couldn’t breath.

My hands turned white as I gripped the kitchen table in front of me- struggling like mad to take a breath. It wasn’t happening. My chest felt as though there was something inside- pushing back and trying to escape.

It felt exactly like when you go running in chilly weather and the cold air gets trapped in your chest. Every breath I took was intense pain. It’s a scary feeling when you need more than anything to breath, but you know every breath you manage to take will be excruciating.

Was I having a heart attack? It certainly felt like I was.

All the while, my son is sitting there eating his little lunch, smiling at me, rocking back and forwarth doing a little dance. He had no idea the sheer terror that his mother was feeling.

Finally, I knew it was time to grab my phone and call someone. My husband answered the phone and I burst into hysterical tears. Immediately, he responded, “I’m on my way!”

I’m an extremely lucky person. I married a man who loves me unconditionally. Even though I have an extreme anxiety disorder, he’s never treated me like I’m any kind of burden. And that’s what it feels like to me- like I’m a HUGE burden to everyone around me.

We managed to quickly get a baby sitter here so that baby Flynn wouldn’t have to go to the hospital with us- I worry about the germs and how he would react having to be there for what i assumed would be a long time (and I was right).

My husband rushed me to the hospital. All the while, I’m sitting in the front seat of our car- shaking, crying, and trying like mad to take a breath that isn’t sharp and incredibly painful.

After waiting in the ER waiting room for a while- all the time trying not to cry in front of all these strangers.

Note: My husband told me to let it out. I mean, I’d never see these people again. But I still felt like I couldn’t. What if they thought I was crazy? What if they ridiculed me and gave me crazy looks? What if they reacted to my panic attack the way so many others have reacted to them in my life? I couldn’t take it. I just couldn’t. Not again.

They brought me back and asked me a ton of questions. The nurses were sweet and concerned about me. They quickly hooked me up to a ton of wires and did an EKG because they were concerned about my heart.

All of that looked fine- thankfully. And now it was time for them to take my blood.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I don’t do blood. The word alone makes me feel sick. So, of course, I start to panic even more- completely balling my eyes out.

They gave me some medicine that was meant to calm me down and promised me that they’d give me about half and hour to let it set in before they drew the blood.

Literally…not two minutes later the lady came in with the needles and tubes. My husband was upset with them. He knew this was only going to make things worse. And he was right.

The minute I saw everything, I started shaking even harder and spiraling completely out of control. My husband held my hand as I shook and cried. They took my blood- and moved the needle around so much that it was excruciating.

Then, the meds they gave me kicked in I fell asleep for about two hours. And suddenly…we were in the car.

I couldn’t remember anything that had just happened and it was so frightening. I thought, for a moment, that I must be in a dream. I don’t remember waking up, getting dressed, having the wires taken off of me, or talking to anyone while we were being discharged. To lose time like that when the last thing you remember is being poked with needles and hooked up to machines is a truly scary thing.

After that, we went and got my medicine, went home, and had a very loving and cozy night while trying to feel better.

This experience is one that I will never forget. My anxiety is debilitating and a lot of the time I find myself wondering “Why me?”. But here’s the truth. If not me, it’ll be someone else and they’ll have to experience the sheer torture of a panic attack. So many people do every day and are too scared to reach out to anyone. Some people even kill themselves because they think something is wrong with them and that they aren’t important enough to be helped. The thought of this really makes me sad. Because everyone is important enough to receive help. EVERYONE deserves to feel safe in their own body.

Anxiety feels like the worst is about to happen. It feels like pain shooting through, not only your body, but also your mind too. Panicking feels like you’re one breath away from dying and you’re too scared to tell anyone in case you’re actually just going crazy.

To those who don’t think anxiety is a big deal- guess what? It is. And you’ve never been through it so you don’t have a say in the matter. Done.

Panic attacks don’t have to be anything like the sort of thing I went through either. They can be quiet, they can be internalized, they can be irritableness. They can be so many things and so many people have no idea that this is the truth of the matter.

It is my hope that this article will inspire those of you who suffer from anxiety to come forward and share your stories with others. Inspire other people to speak openly about their panic attacks and let each and every one of us know that it’s ok to seek help.

It’s ok to tell someone when you need help.

It’s ok to take time for yourself if you need it.

It’s NOT ok to tell yourself you’re a burden…because you aren’t. Listen to me when I say this: You can’t possibly be a burden to those who love you when you’re feeling this way. If your body/mind is in distress, that’s more than enough of a reason to feel ok to reach out to someone.

I had someone tell me to suck it up once when I was having a panic attack. It made me feel depressed and annoying. What I should have told them was that they need to suck it up and admit to themselves that they have probably needed help in the past too- but they were just too proud to admit it.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”

And I- my body, my mind, my whole being- is more important than the fear I feel telling everyone that I need help.

And, you know what, YOUR health is more important than the fear too.

To those with anxiety,

Don’t let anyone else tell you how you should be feeling. If something feels off and you can’t seem to nail down what it is- you aren’t going crazy. Your mind and body are working to tell you something. It’s ok to reach out when you need help.

It’s ok to be vulnerable because that’s the only way we get stronger. 

Lot’s of love to you all,

Ellen

 

 

 

 

 

Anxiety Chat: That Overwhelming Sense Of Dread

Should I publish this? Gosh…I really don’t know. It feels like something really personal, ya know? But at the same time, I feel like a lot of people out there must feel this way too, and maybe some of them feel alone. At least I have a great support system to lean on. I can’t imagine having to feel this way if I were on my own. I’m lucky that I don’t have to.

So…I see a therapist. I don’t think there is any shame in that. In fact, I think everyone should have a therapist. Honestly, there is nothing huge going on in my life right now that is negative. In fact, everything is really happy and I’m content right now. However, I still have this horrible sense of dread that fills me up sometimes.

I’ve been getting these feelings since I was very young. Like, about as far back as I can remember. The only difference is, I know there is something I can do about these awful feelings now and I didn’t know that was possible as a child. I don’t think it was anyone’s fault, either. I mean, as a child I could never put into words what was happening to me when dread seemed to take over my mind. I could also never form the language to describe that I was having a panic attack or why I needed to be in a quiet place for a moment. It’s really hard to have anxiety attacks, and I think it’s even worse for kids when if they can’t understand that those kinds of feelings aren’t necessary. Here is a video that came across my newsfeed on Facebook. I think it’s important for everyone to watch it so that they know the signs to look for in kids that have high anxiety.

Lately, my therapist and I have been discussing those overwhelming dread feelings. We have talked about how I am robbing myself of my full happiness by being so stuck in the mindset where I automatically go to the worst place possible in all situations. It dawned on me in the middle of something she said…

*DING!* A lightbulb went off.

It’s so obvious why I’m so terrified of losing everything. I hadn’t been able to place why I had so much random fear for seemingly no reason. It’s because this is the happiest i’ve ever been in my life and I’m so afraid of that going away. I’m afraid of going backwards. I’m afraid if those horrible panic attacks and feelings of “what’s wrong with me?” that I had in school.

I am afraid something terrible is going to happen to ruin my happiness and the people around me who are happy too.

I am so afraid of the worst that I forget to enjoy the good that’s happening. Hell, I just bought a house, the GREAT that’s happening.

I’ve really done some thinking about this for the last few days now and It’s starting to become easier to accept that bad things are going to happen, but I can’t let them stand in the way of me being happy now. It’s sometimes really hard to grasp that for me. However, I know that when I really get into that mindset, I feel a whole lot better. So…I’m trying me best to go with this way of thinking.

I once saw a quote that really resonated with me. It said, “If I prepare for the worst then I won’t get hurt.” That rang so true for me. I always feel like if I prepare myself mentally for bad things to happen then they won’t be as bad. And, by doing this, I’m robbing myself of peace now.

The point of this blog? To remind those out there that those feelings of dread are a sign of you pulling yourself down for no reason. See your doctor and talk about how you can improve how you feel but also take away the idea that you’re going to change your way of thinking.

You can’t let these feelings overpower you. Acceptance is key here. If something bad happens, you’ll get through it the best that you can, but worrying won’t make it any easier to deal with. So, why not enjoy the now and deal with the bad IF it actually comes along. Chances are, it won’t as much as you were expecting it to. And if it does for some reason, then it does. Right?

Don’t let anxiety run your life. Take charge of it and show it who’s boss. Instead of hiding from the feelings, address them- literally talk to yourself out loud if that’s what it takes. The important thing is that you feel better and that you take the time to appreciate what you have while you have it.

For my birthday, my sister sent me a little cloth bag that says, “Life is tough my darling, but so are you.” Whenever I find myself struggling to get through a difficult moment, I remember that little phrase and it really helps me. I hope it does the same for you, or that you can find a quote or phrase that speaks to you in that way.

For now, I’ll end the blog here because I feel like I have gotten some things off my chest that I’ve been wanting to say now for a while. I’ll also leave you on a high note and show you an adorable picture of my husband playing with our son from outside the window. <3

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Aren’t they too cute?!

Questions:

What are some ways you deal with your anxiety?

Do you have a therapist?

What are your favorite quotes?

Ellen 🙂

 

 

 

 

Update: 10 Month Old Baby & 27 Year Old Me

WOW! I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve been able to sit down and write for my OWN blog. I’ve been working a lot (which i’m so happy about), but there hasn’t been much time to come here and be with all of you. I’m so grateful that I have some free time this morning (after getting a chunk of work done) to catch you all up on what’s been going on in my life!

First off, I’m sorry I haven’t been able to write these past two weeks. As you know if you’ve read my previous blogs, WE JUST BOUGHT OUR FIRST HOUSE! What what!!! We are so thrilled and grateful for everyone who has helped us reach this point in our lives. I’m sitting in my new living room right now and it already feels like home.

My husband and I were talking about how crazy it is that all the rentals we’ve ever moved into took a while to feel like home, but this place just automatically screams our names! I guess that’s the difference between renting and owning…for us anyway.

Some wonderful things happened while I’ve been MIA! My favorite you ask? Well, my sweet little boy turned 10 months old! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! I swear the time flys by faster when you are watching someone grow up each and every day. It’s so strange to see him changing little by little, but it’s also a lot of fun too!

Isn’t he just the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen in your life? He’s such a good baby too! And i’m not just saying that. He has the sweetest temperament. I just know he’s going to be a great man one day!

Baby Flynn loves bathtime (still), is eating what mommy and daddy eat now (and had his first bites of spaghetti), thinks our dog’s barking is hilarious, can say mamma, dada, and night night very clearly, is pulling up and trying to walk already, and just moved into his new bedroom!

YUUUM! Needless to say, he went straight into the bath after he was finished eating. He’s just like his daddy…pasta is the nectar of the Gods.

I also hit a little milestone in my life. I turned 27 on March 8th which just happened to be moving day! What a fun birthday present for me, right?

I took a shameless birthday selfie and posted it on my instagram. You can follow me @ellenvandever if you want to see more updates from me and my little family!

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Do you notice all the moving crap in the background….yeah…our house is pretty much a mess right now. But it’ll get there. If you know me, you’ll know how very hard it is for me to function properly when things aren’t in their place or organized. Hopefully we can remedy all of that very soon…or I might just lose my mind.

This was my birthday lunch. It’s a little known fact but calories don’t actually count on your birthday! 😛 Not a healthy food in sight…don’t worry…I got right back on my diet once my birthday was over.

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I guess diet isn’t really the word I should be using. Healthy lifestyle is better. 🙂 But honestly, who can live without a little mac and cheese and mashed potatoes every once in a while. I am a Southern girl after all.

I also got some really cute birthday presents to help decorate my home. The shelves went up and the knick knacks came out!

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I just love that sign. I think i’ll do a separate post on what I got for my birthday. My amazing family and friends got me some awesome things and I can’t wait to share them all with you! Everyone seriously hit the nail on the head!

After all the moving…it was time for some self care. I opted for a Freeman avocado and oatmeal mask which is SERIOUSLY AMAZING! I loved the feeling of it and it left my face feeling so soft. I think this is my new favorite face mask. You can get it here if you want to check it out for yourself! I also found the cutest bath bomb you ever did see! Plus, the green tea smell was AMAZING!

I know some of your were curious about what colors we’re painting our walls. How about I give you a little sneak peak? This is baby bird’s play room!

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I took that picture before the paint was dry so it looks a lot less blotchy now. Everyone who goes in that room says that it’s so calming and peaceful. I love light blue- it’s one of my favorite colors.

Speaking of painting…I painted some really cute Moana themed shoes for our real estate agent’s granddaughter last week! I wanted to be able to do something nice for them since they helped us out so much!

What do you think? I’m considering putting them on my Etsy shop!

Maui:

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Moana:

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I’m really happy with how they turned out! I hate to toot my own horn but…toot toot! 😛

Before I go, I’ll leave you with some more adorable pictures I took this week of sweet baby Flynn!

I just can’t get enough of that kid. He’s literally growing up right before my eyes! Being a mother is truly an amazing gift!

I hold him at night while I’m rocking him to sleep and thank my lucky stars that I’m his mama. <3

Well, that’s it from me! Now that things have calmed down a bit, i’ll be back to writing on a normal schedule again. Thank you all for sticking with me through this transition!

Questions for you:

  1. Do you like renting or owning better?

2. What paint colors did you pick for your home?

3. What’s your favorite self care item?

Talk to you all soon!

Ellen 🙂

We Bought A House!

Welcome back to my little corner of the internet! Remember when I said I had an exciting announcement coming up? No…I’m not pregnant. 😛

As you can probably tell from the title of this blog post…WE BOUGHT OUR FIRST HOME!

This process was a bit of a whirlwind. We started off thinking it would be easy and quickly learned that was not how it was going to work. Luckily, we had the BEST real estate agents in the world!

You can check out Stephanie and Jim here. They weren’t even in our area but helped us out SO much! They went absolutely above and beyond the call of duty and are even throwing us a housewarming party!

Talk about amazing real estate agents, right?!

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We feel so amazingly lucky to have worked with everyone that helped us buy our dream home. There are no words to express how truly grateful we are. Our mortgage team worked day and night to help us and they never stopped even when things got a bit complicated.

Eventually, when all the painting and furniture in is the house, I’ll do a house tour. For now, I want to show you some of the photos I took during the inspection (one of the most nervous times of my life! lol)

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Here are the first pictures of us after we officially bought the house!

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Now, all that’s left to do is pick out paint colors! How do you like our choices? Any guesses as to where they are going in the house?

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More on our new home soon! I can’t wait to give you all a house tour when everything is ready!

Questions for you:

1.) How was your first home buying experience?

2.) Any tips on painting your house? I know not to go with dark colors because it makes the room look smaller.

More updates soon!

Ellen 🙂