Weekly Recap: Surprise Party, Dream Job, & Baby Turns 9 Months Old

Welcome back, everyone! Glad you have you on my little corner of the internet again. Last week, it felt like nothing interesting happened. However, this week was a WHOLE other experience! I had a lot of fun and had some wonderful things happen to me!

Where to start? How about here: I GOT MY DREAM JOB!

I am now working as a professional blogger! I get to work from home and take care of my son while working part time…WRITING FOR A LIVING! I mean, come on! That’s the dream! I am so grateful that I was given this opportunity. My boss is a very kind person and I think we’re going to work well together. It’s really one of those moments where you can’t believe that something is happening to you. I’m just so grateful- I can’t stop saying that over and over again to myself. I almost didn’t apply for this job because there were so many applicants, but something inside me said I should go for it. And I’m so glad that I did!

In other news, my baby turned 9 MONTHS OLD THIS WEEK! Can you believe it? I certainly can’t! So far, getting these monthly pictures has been a breeze. This month, well…it was a different story. These were the best one we could get (still love them!)

Isn’t he just the cutest? I could just eat that little nugget up!

Also, I love how he’s like, “Holy crap, mom! It’s a bear!”

Not only did he turn nine months old, he also got his first tooth! It’s bothering him so much but we’ve found a product that really works for him. I’ll share that with you in my nine month update post for baby Flynn!

One of my favorite things that happened this week was that my husband had his 29th birthday! He says he feels old now. 😛

My husband, Zack, is a professor at a college where we live and his students and I planned a little surprise for him AT 5:00 right outside his office. We had a secret Facebook group and everything, you guys! STEALTHY!!!

Everyone dressed just like Zack, backward baseball caps and flannel shirts. It was adorable and it meant so much to Zack! You can just see it on his face!

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It was a really great moment when he realized just how many of his students were there to celebrate with him! I brought cake but I didn’t get a picture of it because I’m a bad blogger and all I could think was, “CAKE IN BELLY!!!”

The kids also made him a “Dr. Pepper Cake” since it basically runs in his veins.

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I surprised him by giving him the game “Horizon Zero Dawn” that everyone’s been talking about lately. He was really excited…in fact…guess what he’s doing right now as I type this blog…

Flynn saw him playing it earlier and wanted in the action.

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Is that not the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen?! I love my boys.

That night, I made garlic butter and herb spaghetti, brown sugar brussel sprouts, and roasted veggies. The pasta is his favorite and we always have it on his birthday!

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YUUUUM! And, honestly, so so so so so bad for you. 😛 But it’s okay to indulge every once in a while, right?

Here are some other yummy/healthier foods we had to eat this week:

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I loved that skinny caramel macchiato. It was the perfect pick me up!

This week I also had a girl’s craft time with one of my besties, Morgan! She’s that adorable little redhead in the birthday pictures above! We’re in the progress of paining our Disney shoes! I’m doing snow white shoes and she’s making her shoes look like Belle! I’ll post the final picture when I finish them and link you to my Etsy store if you’re interested in purchasing some!

Morgan is such a sincere person and I’m so glad that we have become friends. She had a rough day yesterday and I’m glad that we could do some crafting to de-stress a little. Everyone send her some love! She’s such a sweetheart! <3

I also did a little early Valentine’s day craft for Zack to put in his office.

I had a seriously wonderful week. Everything went so well and was so lovely. Like I said, I’m just so grateful!

I even got some fresh flowers this week! They make everything better, don’t they?

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Thanks for visiting my blog today! I hope you enjoyed reading this recap post as much as I enjoyed writing it! I’ll see you all on Wednesday. Oh! Make sure to follow me on social media and let me know you came from the blog! I’d love to hear from you!

Instagram & Twitter: ellenvandever

Facebook: Millennial Mama Bird

Etsy: Quirky Girl Giftshop

Ellen 🙂

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Our 10 Year (So Far) Love Story

Even from the very beginning, he was a gentleman. He introduced himself to me and we hit it off right away.

A few months earlier, I had seen him in a concert production of Sweeney Todd and developed a HUGE crush on him. I remember thinking, “he’s too attractive to be a nice guy. It would be too good to be true.”

Cut to the day we started dating. He asked me to be his girlfriend in the light booth of our Alma Mater. Then, and i’ll never forget this, he said, “if i lean over and kiss you right now, are you gonna slap me?” I tease him all the time about that. It’s so adorable. That’s one of my favorite memories of Zack. And it’s so true to his character- always wanting what makes other people comfortable and being super considerate.

 

We started dating and it was clear pretty quickly that this thing was going to stick. Here’s Wednesday Adams and Repair Man Man Man at the Halloween improv show!

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I had a lot of fun digging all of these photos up…I think my husband will get a kick out of them too!

I’ll never forget the way I KNEW Zack was the one. It was so simple- we were meant to be together and we didn’t care what anyone else thought. Some people said, “date around before you commit.” We didn’t care, we were in love.

We dated the entire time we were in college and had the time of our lives! Always sticking together through thick and thin. And sweet Zack even let me get a puppy…yeah…I kind of wore him down.

Our sweet Willow:

On the night of my senior show in college (all Theatre majors were required to put on a show as their capstone), he gave me the surprise of my life by popping the question! Of course I said YES!

You can watch the proposal here on Youtube.

He proposed to me in the Theatre I grew up in. All of my siblings went to the same college as I did and I had practically lived there! I counted once, I saw 27 different shows in that Theatre and attended almost every performance. It’s a big part of why I love theatre today, and my husband knew that.

If you can’t hear him, he says,

“Over here is where we met.”

“Up there is where we had our first kiss.”

“But this is the one you’re really going to remember.”

SWOON!!!! <3 <3 <3 Am I right, ladies?!

Our engagement shoot…

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Gosh, I love that man. And that puppy…

Our wedding was beautiful. It was very DIY and EXACTLY what I wanted (thank you to everyone that helped make that a reality!).

It was truly the most perfect day.

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Our college professor performed the ceremony for us. It meant so much since he’s Zack’s mentor.

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Can you guess where we honeymooned? We HAD A BLAST!!!

I have never eaten so much as I did on that trip. I mean, LORD! Those Disney meal plans act like you’re crossing the Desert the way they load you up. NOT MAD ABOUT IT!

My favorite ride is The Haunted Mansion.

Zack’s favorite ride is Space Mountain.

Soon after we got married, we moved to Tallahassee for Zack to attend Grad School for Technical Design for Theatre at FSU. That’s where we met our best friend Rada and got our friendship tattoos.

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We stayed there and had the time of our lives for three years. While we don’t live in the same place anymore, we still talk to Rada all the time! He’s a part of our family!

Once Zack was done with Grad school, he got a job in the North Georgia Mountains as a Professor of Technical Theatre. We love it here. Everything moves a little bit slower and everyone is kind. We’re just not city people and we’re ok with that.

Suddenly, our lives changed. WE GOT PREGNANT!

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Nine months later and our beautiful baby boy, Flynn, entered the world.

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I didn’t think I could love Zack any more, and then I saw him with our son. Zack is an amazing father and husband. He is always working his butt off and continues to be our hero every single day!

Flynn is constantly saying, “DADA!”, and lights up when Zack walks into the room.

It was definitely hard when we were sleep deprived, but we worked as a team and it made us even closer together to learn how to take care of our little one.

Now, we are one small happy family and we feel so grateful and blessed.

It’s an amazing thing to meet your best friend. And when your best friend turns out to be your future husband, that makes it even better!

Zack, I love you. You, Flynn, and Willow are my everything.

I love forward to many more happy days, pasta nights, Flynn laughs, family hikes, Holidays, homes, and years with you. Thank you for everything you do for us. I can sum you up three words….

Awesomesauce

Caring

Badass

AWESOMESAUCE CARING BADASS…NEW BAND NAME I CALL IT!

Ellen 😉

 

Weekly Recap: Homemade Hibachi & Family Hike

Welcome back, friends! I’m glad you’re back to hear what’s happening at my little cabin in the woods.

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I love these weekly recaps! I was literally just thinking about how awesome these are going to be to look back on when baby Flynn is all grown up and I get nostalgic. I wonder if that’s the reason a lot of people start blogs. It seems like these days, I’m seeing a lot of “10 ways to be happier”, and while that’s totally fine and dandy, those blog posts are very frequently information that it’s all but too obvious to the reader already.

Communicate with my partner? No kidding.

Take time to do the things I like? Done.

Wake up early? I have an 8th month old.

I just feel like I’d love to read more stories and fun things that people are doing than some boring list of stuff that’s really not helpful to me or is obvious to everyone in the world.

Someone should start a blog called “Captain obvious” that’s just those lists and nothing else.

I digress…

This week was awesome! It’s really fun taking more pictures and documenting what we’re doing. It makes me more present and I am likely to do more things now that I’m blogging about them!

On Sunday, we went on a family hike in the woods around our house. We are currently renting a little cabin in the woods and close by are some old stone chimneys from a home that used to sit there. It’s really amazing, and my husband has taken the medal detector down there a few times.

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This time, he found an old cast iron pot lid buried in the dirt. We’re planning to take some lawn chairs or a blanket down there and have a picnic one day. What a cool and secluded location for some good old fashion family time!

Baby Flynn also enjoyed his ride! Speaking of Flynn, I made him some yummy baby food this week!

Green beans (his favorite), sweet corn, and peas and carrots!

Let me know if you’d like to see a blog post of how I make all of Flynn’s baby food. I’m even experimenting with some yogurt making for his breakfasts!

I also made a very conscious effort to eat better this week (notice I said better, not less) and did some meal prepping as well. I made:

Vegan chocolate muffins, healthy apple crisp, corn on the cob, sweet potatoes, vegan mac and cheese, veggie burgers, asparagus…and many other delicious things!

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One of those delicious things was homemade hibachi!

My husband and I started to make our own hibachi style food at home in an effort to save money. We love Japanese Steak Houses and our cooking it all only serves to save money and bring us closer together as we work to prepare a meal. That’s something we really enjoy doing together- cooking.

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Anyone interested in a healthy yum yum sauce recipe? Let me know!

My good friend Sam came to stay for a few days, as well! We had such a lovely time (we always do with Sam), and Flynn had the time of his life! Lots of board games were played, tea was made, and delicious food was consumed.

We also had a little photo shoot! Check out the pictures!

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Has anyone else seen the movie “Definitely Maybe”? It’s a blast from my past and we watched it while I did some bullet journaling and drank a little tension tamer tea.

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#InOmniaParatus

I love bullet journaling. I’m not great yet at making it look all fancy- frankly, I don’t have the patience. But I’m working on it and really enjoy my own style of bullet journaling too.

And that was my week! Tomorrow we’re going to my sister in law’s birthday party and we have a lot of fun things planned for this week!

As always, I’ll also be posting this Wednesday so check back then and subscribe if your not! I’d love to see your beautiful faces back here again!

Thanks for visiting and have an awesome week!

Ellen 🙂

 

 

Weekly Recap: Healthy changes & Hubby haircut

This was a great week! A long week…but a great one. My mom was visiting for a good portion of it and helped a lot with baby Flynn. I was really grateful for that.

I decided that since I post on Sundays and Wednesdays, that I would make Sunday my weekly recap post day. So, here it is! I’m excited to share all the pictures I took with you! I really had a lot of fun documenting my week and now I have a lot of fun memories to look back on! Also, I’ve been getting so hyped up to publish blog posts! I’m so happy that I found a hobby that gets me this enthused!

This was last week (I think- mommy brain is real, ya’ll), but I did want to share it with you! My husband got me Rosanna Pansino of “Nerdy Nummies” silicon poop brownie mold. I didn’t have any brownie mix and I needed something to make fast for Zack’s students so I used some chocolate cake mix that I had in my pantry. It worked perfectly and they were SO delicious. I could have eaten all of the ones that I made. Seriously…which leads me to my next point….

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Some things in my life need to change. I’m a very happy person and have less anxiety right now than I have ever had in my life before. It’s amazing considering my anxiety has always been an ever looming presence. My point being, even though I’m super happy right now, it doesn’t mean there still isn’t work to be done.

I’ve known for a while now that I’ve wanted to lose this baby weight so that I’d not only feel better in my own skin, but also be a healthier person and feel better all around. It’s something that’s REALLY important to me, but I have such trouble getting motivated…especially when there are poop cakes just sitting around my kitchen!

Note: I think it would be especially funny if you used sprinkles around Christmas time and made them “reindeer poops”! I might have to find another use for these bad boys…

Valentines poop?…hmmmm….back to the drawing board, I guess. <3

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten off topic. The bottom line is: It’s time to get back on track, get in better shape for myself and my family, and feel better in my body overall.

Now, to do that, all I have to do is eat healthy and workout. Easy right? Ugh…easier said than done is more like it!

However, I’ve really been working to find the “right” workout routine for myself and I’m striving to eat better. This is actually a big goal that myself and my therapist are working on.

Here are some of the healthy meals/things that I ate this week:

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I’m documenting even more on my Instagram! Follow me @ellenvandever for more fun pics and inspirational fun!

It’s been really hard to diet, and getting my exercise routine going has been a pain, but I’m doing a pretty good job so far. I just have to keep reminding myself that little moments in time add up to big results. I’m not a very patient person, so this is something that can be really difficult for me.

It really does sound so cheesy but I’m actually enjoying pushing myself sometimes. I like the feeling I get when I say “no” to myself when I want to eat more calories than I really should be eating in a day- it feels empowering. I can’t control everything in my life, but I can control what I put in my body and how I take care of myself. That’s freeing to me in a way.

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This is my grocery list. I have to say, it’s usually better looking than this but I was in a bit of a rush. I looked on Pinterest at the best healthy grocery lists for vegetarians and got a lot of great information. I ended up spending $150 on 2 weeks of groceries for myself, my husband, and baby food for our little one. Let me know if you’re interested in hearing more about how I make my grocery lists and meal plan for less.

I love grocery shopping and meal planning- I could color code everything and be in heaven!

For dinners, we’re making:

  • Mexican Mush: Zucchini, leftover rice and black beans, low cal cheese, a dollop of greek yogurt, and some salsa all mixed together and baked until the veggie is tender
  • Spaghetti and Salad: Whole wheat Spaghetti with homemade  marinara sauce and a iceberg lettuce wedge salad with low cal vinaigrette dressing
  • Loaded Baked Potatoes: Sweet Potatoes with low cal fixin’s
  • Tacos: Black beans, brown rice, a dollop of greek yogurt, low cal cheese, lettuce, salsa
  • Stir Fry: Zucchini, baby corn, and broccoli cooked with brown rice
  • Pizza and Salad: Small portion of Totino’s party pizza (my splurge for the week) and a large salad with a light vinaigrette

Flynn wasn’t too sure about the new contraption we put him in at the Grocery store…

but he sure looked cute!

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Side note: we went to Walmart this week and while I was shopping for new sports bras, I saw this underwear…

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Team Quidditch? Not…team Gryffindor? Ravenclaw? Hufflepuff? Slytherin?

YAY SPORTS BALL! GO SPORTS TEAM! GET THE BALL INTO THE GOAL BASKET!

I mean…you had one job, Walmart.

We also got another dusting of snow this week! Thank goodness it wasn’t another Snowpocalypse, but they did close down school one day. I insisted we go take a family picture in our winter wonderland!

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Flynn wasn’t too thrilled, but what can ya do?

Zack and I also got to go on a little date and he decided he was ready for the UNTHINKABLE!

He chopped off those long locks! DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN!!!! *gasps*

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All I have to say is…HUBBA HUBBA!

That’s right ladies, my husband’s a dream boat! *swoons*

While Zack was looking spiffy, my normal glasses broke and I had no choice but to wear my backups. They make me feel like Harry Potter and I’m really not so sure about them.

I was really feeling self conscious about them but then I thought, “Ya know what? I can be ashamed of these, or I can rock these…”

And you know what? They grew on me a little. Zack fixed my normal ones today though, so I definitely feel more at home now!

We also took part in the phenomenon sweeping the social media sites! We face matched using the Google Arts and Culture App! So much fun! We got a good chuckle out of these, and I have to say, I’m not mad about mine. 😛

Flynn was, of course, just like his Daddy all week. I love those boys. <3

 

And finally, I added a few new things to my Etsy shop! Here’s a high chair banner I made for both of my niece’s birthday parties. I’d love for you guys to check it out and feel free to request any crafts you want or need made! I’m very into customization and I have very competitive pricing!

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So, that’s it! In the future, I think I’m going to get better about documenting my week. I will continue to update my Instagram and you here about my weight loss journey. Send good vibes my way (specifically the ones that keep my away from the doughnuts!).

I really appreciate all the support I’m getting from you all! It means the world to me!

Much love and see you on Wednesday,

Ellen 🙂

What I wish I had known: Anxiety chat

I don’t think anyone knew the real truth of the matter. There were so many people around me, and sometimes I felt like screaming at everyone to get away from me. Of course, I couldn’t though. How would people respond? I’d looking like a complete freak in public.

School was always a challenge for me. It seemed like everyone casually walked through the halls- laughing with their friends- pretending to search through their bag when their were really texting someone. But it was different for me.

There were the popular kids, band geeks, “weird kids”, the tough crowd- your basic cliques. I settled in with the theatre nerds though I like to think I was friendly with people of all groups. I even won “friendlist” two years in a row which was a real honor to me- even if it was just a middle school award.

When the popular kids would talk to me, I would stammer. I would be paralysed with fear that I’d say or do something stupid and I’d end up looking like a spaz because of it. Once, a boy told me I was ugly and I was so overwhelmed with embarrassment that I couldn’t move. In that moment, I felt so small. Kids can be so cruel for no reason…I suppose adults can too for that matter.

The point is, my anxiety was running the show for the first bit of my life, and no part of me had any kind of control. My fight or flight response was strong- it still is. What made it worse was that mental illness wasn’t as widely talked about as is it now. It’s crazy to think that seeing as it wasn’t even that long ago. Therapy never worked for me as a child- because no one ever really listened. Now that I’m older and have a really great therapist, I can say that with certainty.

My parents and siblings tried what they could to make me feel better, but I got really good at hiding how overwhelmed and on edge I was at every moment. I only got good at it because I didn’t know what it was myself- anxiety. Honestly, at the time, I didn’t even know that that word could mean what it means to me today. Looking back, I would have panic attacks all the time and I never knew what they were. That’s sad and scary to me. I don’t blame anyone for not knowing what to do with me. I never really voiced what was going on- just cried and said that I didn’t want to go to school (or dance, or baton, or to a sleepover, etc.).

When I think about the level of panic attacks I would have, it honestly blows my mind.

Now, let me be clear. My childhood was not unhappy and I wasn’t a constant anxious mess. However, anxiety is an intense emotion and if you’re feeling it at an unsafe level at all, its debilitating. There are and were such happy times that I can remember. Days where we’d stay at home on the weekends and play all day. I was a home body even then. Those are days I cherish.

A day I don’t cherish? Easy…

There was this one day where I went to the office to call my mom because I was having a panic attack (although I didn’t actually know it). I went there a lot to do that, and the lady behind the desk knew that all too well. I walked in, asked to call my mother, and- I will never forget this- she looked at me and said, “You’re always trying to get out of class. No.”. I was dumbfounded. I wasn’t trying to get out of class. Hell, I would have loved nothing more to be in Earth Science with the rest of the class learning and happily getting along with others. I would have loved to have been normal.

This woman had just made an assumption about me that was wildly inaccurate but made me feel guilty. So, now I not only had this panic attack going on, but I also felt guilt pouring into my body and strangling me. And you know what? That wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t! I burst into tears in front of her and she rolled her eyes. I tore out of there, went to the bathroom and called my mother from my cell phone. I forgot to mention I was a goody goody and very rarely broke the rules. Luckily, mom understood that I needed to be out of there and came and got me.

I missed a lot of school due to panic attacks, and I got in trouble because of it. I think most of the teachers assumed that I was too lazy to come to class or just wanted to go home and lounge around. Let me say this again: I would have done ANYTHING to have been able to sit in class with my fellow students comfortably and have a normal school day. Sometimes I could, and then other days it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. And I never told anyone other than my family- and not even they knew the real extent of it.

I was ashamed. Why was a so weird? Why couldn’t I just have sucked it up? It just wasn’t a possibility for me. I was always so in my head, and by middle school I had really developed some OCD tendencies. I would repeat my name in my head over and over again to try and ground myself, but after a while it became more of a OCD twitch than anything else. There were more but I really don’t think I want to get too far into that. Maybe one day.

Here’s the point i’m trying to make with all of this: We need to LISTEN to people when they say they don’t feel right- that something is off. Many people don’t know that they are having panic attacks- just like I didn’t. This is especially true for Children and Teens. You never think these things will happen to you, but guess what? They are way more common than you think. I was shocked when I started to tell people that I take medicine for my anxiety- so many others told me that they have to take something for theirs too and even depression. It can happen to you and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

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High school me was constantly in her head talking to herself about holding it together and not looking like an idiot. High school me thought she wasn’t worth the time because some people treated her like what was happening wasn’t important. When teachers would get onto me about missing school, I felt that guilt. Like I was doing something that was wrong when really I just wasn’t getting the help that I needed. As an adult now who’s looking back at the situation, I now know that it wasn’t my fault.

I was a good student, a nice person, and I tried hard. So, why did I feel like no one was noticing that something was up with me? Sometimes I’d legitimately lose my shit at school- I was crying out for help in my own way- and people would just look at me like I was a crazy person. I had to miss a show choir show once because of a panic attack. My dance partner came up to me and said, “You really let me down.”. All the while, I’m sitting there crying. Did he think I wanted to be acting hysterical in front of the entire group? That I wanted the attention? I wanted the complete opposite.

I was so self conscious about all of this, and it didn’t help that I was an absolute bean pole. I weighed less than 100 pounds until I got to college and I was often hearing gossip about me being anorexic. One of my teachers even brought it up almost every day saying that I needed to eat more. She legitimately thought I wasn’t eating on purpose when really I was just a very small person who had a fast metabolism.

NEWS FLASH, PEOPLE!!! SOME PEOPLE ARE JUST SMALL. JUST LIKE SOME PEOPLE ARE JUST HEAVIER SET! Everyone is beautiful in there own way, and picking out someone’s qualities and telling them they aren’t good enough…it’s just not right.

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Me and my big brother 

To all those out there that are struggling with body image,

Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t beautiful at whatever size you are. Just focus on making yourself healthy and happy. I love the quote that says,

“We get so worried about being pretty. Let’s be pretty kind. Pretty funny. Pretty smart. Pretty strong.”

– Britt Nicole

It’s lovely, right?

So, to sum this all up, here’s what I wish I had known growing up.

What people think about you- it doens’t matter. Ultimately, your happiness depends on you. Yes, people say that all the time and it seems cheesy, but it’s so true. You are beautiful- no matter your size. Your qualities make you the unique individual that you are. What you’re feeling is called a panic attack/anxiety. It can happen for no reason and it can spiral out of control if you don’t take proper care to make it better- make yourself better. You are weird- but in the best way possible. Your weirdness is what’s going to be badass about you when you grow up. Hell, it’s what’s badass about you now. 

It’s ok that you don’t have this all figured out now. Things and people will fall into your life at the exact right moments and one day you’ll be sitting on your couch writing a blog where you get to talk about how happy you are with your little family. 

I wish I had known all of that and really believed myself. I’m a much happier person now knowing all of this and having people who support me and help me to understand that anxiety is something that we all face and isn’t something shameful. It takes work and self care to get yourself to a place where you can take a step back, breathe, and know how to handle your anxiety.

I truly think we need to look out for the signs of anxiety, depression, and panic attacks in people- especially children. My main reason for writing this blog post is to make people aware of how debilitating and isolating anxiety can be when it gets out of control. Some people may just not know what it is or how to handle it.

Be a friend to someone in need. Be understanding of what they are going through and help them figure out what they need to make themselves feel better and in control. Because everyone deserves to feel good about and in their bodies.

I hope this blog wasn’t too much of a bummer. I think it’s a really important subject, and it’s something I’ve wanted to get off of my chest for a long time.

Please let me know in the comments if you suffer with anxiety and how you cope. Maybe we can inspire some people to get help or try something new to make themselves feel better.

We all deserve someone to walk with us through the hard times.

-Ellen 🙂

How We Survived The Snowpocalypse

Let’s be honest, everyone makes fun of us Georgians.

Down in the South we are ill prepared for when something like “Snowpocalypse” happens, and all the crazy that comes along with it.

The weather channel predicted a few inches of snow…maybe…boy were they wrong.

It recently snowed 10 and 1/2 inches here in the North Georgia mountains- literally more snow than i’ve ever seen in my life. I know what some of you are probably thinking, “That’s precious…10 and 1/2 inches”, but for people who don’t actively get snow, we might as well have been plopped down into the middle of Antarctica.

I’m EXTREMELY lucky because my husband (aka..daddy bird) was a boy scout and is always referred to as the person you’d want around if a zombie apocalypse happened. This one time, we thought someone was breaking into the house so I started to freak out. He calmly got up and pulled a sword out from under the bed. A SWORD PEOPLE! I’d like to see someone try and break in. The idea of my husband charging into the other room with a broad sword and scaring the bajesus out of the burglar makes me giggle.

Anyway…back to snowy adventure….

Soon after the snow started to fall, our power went out. Not only our power, but around 700 other people in our area. Those poor power companies were working their butts off to get everyone restored! I’m really grateful for them and how they came to everyone’s rescue.

Here’s the kicker though…we have an electric well pump which means…you guessed it…NO WATER! This was made even scarier considering the heat was gone and we have an infant. Our main priority at all times was to make sure he was as comfortable as possible. I think (hope) any parent in that situation would feel the same.

Without heat or water, we did our best. We were the Pioneer family for a few days! That’s right…days! 3 in total to be exact. And, you know what…aside from being concerned and a little nervous about how long this would last…it was actually kind of fun. I’m happy to say that we definitely made the best out of the situation.

Without water, we had to figure out another way to wash the bottles we have for sweet baby Flynn. My husband, without fail, is the smartest person I have ever met. I’m not saying others wouldn’t have done what he did, but he’s constantly taking care of us and showing me time and time again just how caring and intelligent he is. Enough gushing, Ellen…here’s what we did…

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My husband scooped up some of the snow from outside and sat it next to our fire. We basically had snow water boiling constantly for any need that we had. Mostly, it was for Flynn’s bottles. We were lucky enough to have some distilled water in jugs so we used that to fix with his formula.

Speaking of the fire, HUGE shoutout to my husband Zack for keeping it going for as long as he did…36 hours! He was literally up every 30 minutes to stoke the fire so that we’d stay warm. Poor thing barely slept at all.

He really is our hero.

Luckily, we have a ton of firewood available to us!

Next up was how we could eat. It’s amazing the things we take for granted- ya know…like stoves. I dug in the pantry for something…anything. We hadn’t gone to the grocery store for a while and we didn’t have a whole lot available to us. That was really scary to me.

Here’s what I came up with and lovingly titled, “Snowpocalypse Stew”:

Ingredients:

  • One can of diced tomatoes
  • any frozen veg you have (because it was just going to melt away in the freezer anyway)
  • any fresh veg (ours was Zucchini, Broccoli, Onions, and Potatoes
  • A little vegetable broth (I’m a vegetarian if you guys didn’t know!)
  • Salt and Pepper (although we eliminated the pepper this time because my mom is allergic)
  • Water

Directions:

Mix all that stuff together and heat of the fire (or a stove if you’re so lucky and not going through a Snowpocalypse)

Easy as Pie! Ohhh…I wish we had some pie! 😛

We were also lucky enough to find a stove top stuffing box in the back of the pantry…don’t worry…it wasn’t expired, so we made that along with the Stew.

IT. WAS. DELICIOUS!!! Such a hearty meal with things just laying around in the pantry and we truly used what we had to make something so fantastic. My mom even said it was the best veggie soup she’s ever tasted- and SO easy! I recommend making it on a night where you want to feel all warm and cozy inside…which is every night for me. 🙂

The next day, Zack and I needed to make an emergency run to the store for a few things. It was still snowy so we were a little nervous…and what happened next made our fears very valid. But we had no choice…we really needed to go…

So, we’re on our way to the store, driving peacefully and remarking on how beautiful everything is. I even took some pictures moments before our next great adventure began…

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A beautiful view right? Well, not when you’re sliding down a huge hill and into a ditch. Yep, that’s right…

We hit a patch of ice and the car spun around and started to slide. We are SO lucky that our son wasn’t with us. My mom had come up a few days before and was stuck with us so she was watching him.

We felt the car tip back and started to go down the hill and towards the big creek. My husband exclaimed, “Hold on! We’re going down!” and held onto my arm as I braced myself for what I was sure was going to be the car flipping.

The next second we were stopped and breathing hard. Zack asked if I was ok and I nodded. We got out of the car to assess the situation. We were inches away from the creek. Now, I won’t lie, I’ve struggled with my faith for my whole life, but in that moment, it really seemed as though someone or something was looking out for us.

See that behind the car…that’s the creek!

We tried our best to get the car back up the hill but it was too steep and the wheels just kept turning in place. Of course, we immediately called AAA but it would take the at least 3 hours to even let us know when they would be able to come. Which meant one thing…we were walking home.

We ended up getting the car out after the snow had melted away…3 days later.

Luckily, we were only .7 miles away from the house. Still a very long walk while you’re more than ankle deep in snow and wearing converse. I called my mom to let her know we were ok and we headed back.

It was cold and quiet, white and sparkly. Magical. And seemed like a real gift to see after what we had just experienced.

Even though we were shaken up, my husband was making jokes like he always does (dad jokes what what!!!). In retrospect, he was probably just trying to calm my nerves. He put his arm around me and we walked back to the house laughing, talking, and singing to keep ourselves warm. If anyone had described this situation to me, I would guess that it would be a horrible experience. But, you know what? It was romantic. A little mini date in the snow. I love my husband…and moments like this only serve to make our relationship stronger.

Once we got home, we warmed up by the fire and under blankets. I kissed my sweet boy and thanked God he wasn’t with us for that. I can’t imagine trying to hike back in that cold with Flynn. Seriously…I am SO grateful he was safe at home with my mom.

One of the bright moments during this was that Flynn turned 7 months old. So, of course, we HAD to take advantage of the snow!

Look at that face. Kills me everytime! <3

Also, our snowman was a Hufflepuff…HUFFLEPUFF FOR LIFE!!! 😛

As night fell, it obviously got very dark and cold. We had to plug up the back rooms with towels so the warmth would stay in the living room. We pulled Flynn’s pack and play close enough to the fire that he could be warm but not too close, of course.

I felt really smart because I came up with this idea- an idea that my boy scout of a husband was thrilled by! That made me feel even more proud!

I took our old water jugs and put the flashlights in them to illuminate the room. It was perfect because we could hang them up for light but also take them with us to the bathrooms when we needed to go. That’s another thing- we had to boil water for the toilets- that’s all I’m going to say about that though.

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We quickly fell asleep (all of us besides my husband who was stoking the fire), and Flynn slept a little on me..and then my mother…and then in his pack and play. Poor little guy must have been so confused. My husband slept on the floor as much as he could and let myself and my mom take the couches. It was freezing in the bedrooms so we all had to stay around the fire.

Then…out next adventure began. See, when the power goes out, the back up alarm system comes into play. When the battery on that goes out…it goes off. So, at about three in the morning the LOUDEST and I mean LOOOOOUUUUUDDEEEST alarm went off saying…

“BURGLARY! BURGLARY! THE AUTHORITIES HAVE BEEN CALLED!!!” over and over and over again. I woke up and stumbled around screaming to my mother, “What’s going on…what’s happening?!” while my husband ran to get it shut off. My mother was looking at me with one eye open and saying, “WHAT??!”. And, of course, Mr. Flynn was out cold. I mean, seriously you guys, it was the LOUDEST sound I have ever heard and my baby slept through it all. Again..someone was looking out for us. Because, in that moment, it was chaos!

Zack got the alarm to turn off and we all settled back down, nerves flying all over the place.

Now that I look back on that moment, I find it hilarious. I mean, it could have been a scene in a sitcom! I told my sisters and brother and they died laughing. It’s one of those times that isn’t funny when you’re experiencing it but make a great story later.

Craziness I tell ya…craziness.

So, while to snowpocalypse was VERY challenging, it was also a great opportunity to band together and see what we could accomplish. I felt so proud of that soup and the lighting jugs that I made, and it really solidified that I am an intelligent person (my therapist says I questions my intelligence a lot so I’m working on that).

Through good times and bad, be there for each other and work together. It’s a beautiful thing when people work together to keep each other safe and happy. I truly wish there was more of that in the world…especially right now.

So, there’s our crazy Snowpocalypse story! I hope you enjoyed reading and got a little chuckle out of our experience with the alarm system. Let me know your thoughts in the comments! I’d love to hear your favorite hearty recipes and what other things you might have done if you were in our situation.

Much love,

The Pioneer Family 😛

When PPD sneaks up on you

I’ll be honest with you…

I didn’t even know that I HAD postpartum depression. I know what you’re thinking, “How could you NOT know?”. The truth is, I honestly remember being, overall, generally very happy.

After all, my husband was home for the Summer without having to go to work (he’s a professor and gets the summers off for the most part), I had a brand new beautiful baby boy, I was on maternity leave for several months, and I was letting myself eat anything that I wanted since I just went through…ya know…a big life changing surgery.

Basically, other than being drop dead tired, I was living the dream. I remember thinking, “Wow! I’m really surprised I wasn’t affected by PPD. I thought for sure I would have some sort of issue but its really not been a problem at all.”

My was I wrong.

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So, how does a grown woman go about 8 months without realizing what she was actually going through? Because PPD is a sneaky, conniving, little, bitch, ladies.

I recently spoke to my sister and she confirmed my suspicions. She thought I might be suffering without realizing it, but let’s be honest, anyone going through that needs to realize it for themselves or they won’t change anything. So, let’s get real…

When Flynn was first born, I couldn’t be any more in love (and I still am!), but I genuinely thought he hated me. I mean I literally thought this little guy who had barely been on this Earth more than a couple of months loved my husband and hated me. Now that I look back on that, it makes me really sad. How could it have not dawned on me that feeling that way was my mind crying out that something was wrong?

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To carry something that you’ve grown yourself around for 9 months and watch your body change is an amazing and extremely hard thing to do.  Pregnancy, while beautiful and life changing, is HARD you guys…like…harder than you expect.

For the first few months I was so sick and in one of the worst depressions I’ve ever been in. Maybe that’s another blog post though. Let me know if you’d like to hear about the first trimester from my perspective.

MY point being…

You spend all that time growing and keeping something safe inside you and then the big day comes. You meet your sweet baby and everything feels just right. And then, it happens, PPD comes along and makes you think the thing you worked so hard to have despises you and that they don’t need you. And, you know what? It’s not fair at all that I felt like that.

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I know someone who thought about physically harming herself after giving birth. I also know someone else who had thoughts of hurting others too. I feel extremely lucky that mine never got so bad. However, any kind of emotional distress you’re going through that rocks you to your very core…needs to be addressed. That’s why i’m writing this blog- as a warning and a reminder from your friendly neighborhood blogging girl.

Are you listening???

LOOK FOR THE SIGNS OF POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION BEFORE IT GETS OUT OF CONTROL! None of us have to feel this way! PPD can be helped in so many ways.

I remember lying in bed and hearing Flynn start to cry- and I wanted to cry because it was two in the morning and that meant it was time to try breast pumping again. My husband would bring our boy close and feed him his bottle while I tried pumping; one of the most painful/exhausting/ and alienating things that I have ever done. Plus, I was barely producing so all of it felt like it was for nothing.

I’d watch Zack feeding Flynn and I’d feel my boobs getting more and more sore and I wanted to burst into tears…and sometimes I did.  But again and again, I told myself it wasn’t PPD. I thought it was sleep deprivation and that was the end of it. All the while I thought about how I wasn’t helping Flynn and Zack was doing everything. I couldn’t help it. No matter how much I told myself, “You just went through a HUGE surgery. You need to take it easy. The dishes can be done later. You’ll get your body back in time.” I always felt like I wasn’t providing enough to my family (and sometimes I still struggle with this thought).

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Now that Flynn is sleeping through the night and I’m a bit more rested, I can see that sleep deprivation was only one factor in what was going on.

Before I make this blog into a super bummer of a post, I’ll sum it up here.

PPD is not something you have to go through by yourself. Speak up and don’t be ashamed. No one deserves to feel like that and there are plenty of others who will understand what you’re going through.

I’m SO PROUD to say that I am now seeing an amazing therapist who gives me homework each week I see her. I’m changing my outlook on life and I am becoming a much happier person for it. I truly think everyone could benefit from seeing a therapist. No matter how good your life is, you know you still have your stuff.

Self care is important…and don’t you forget that!

Ellen 🙂

Baby Flynn’s 8 Month Update!

You guys…my baby is 8 MONTHS OLD!!! How and when did that happen?

When he was first born, he was so tiny.

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“What are these people doing to me?”

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“Ugh, not this again.”

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“Woah…shiny!”

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“Yeah…I know I’m a stud. Just like my dad.”

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“Did someone say Baba?”

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“Daddy is SOOOO funny!”

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“I don’t know if you guys realized but…IT’S COLD!”

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“I am a sweet angel…now change my diaper!”

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Flynn loves:

-Green beans

-Saying “Dada”

-Giving Mommy sloppy kisses

-Bath time!

-Playing with his Christmas presents

-Laughing at Willow

Flynn,

you are our heart and soul. We love you so much, little nugget. You’ve changed our lives. Really, you have. When I get to snuggle you in your rocking chair at night and at each naptime, I get to smell your sweet baby head and take you in. You’re the definition of perfect.

We love you sweet baby Flynn!

-Mommy

Dear Flynn: A letter from mom.

Flynn,

I remember the day I had you so clearly. The night before, we went and got Hibachi and i’m pretty sure I ate my weight in fried rice since I knew I wouldn’t be eating for a while. It was a good thing too because you didn’t want to come out of there!

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“Nope…it’ll still be a while.” was like the anthem of that night.

I stayed up all night with contractions and watched the Food Network while your dad slept on the most uncomfortable pull out couch in the history of existence. In retrospect, watching the Food Network while hungry was probably not the best idea.

They gave me some medicine to help me sleep and when I woke up they made me get on my side because something was wrong. They couldn’t find your heartbeat. It was one of the scariest moments of my life.

Suddenly, they were tossing your dad some scrubs and wheeling me passed him and into another room to have an emergency C-Section.

I knew I was in good hands and I was strangely calm. While doctors whizzed around my head, I watched and smiled, knowing i’d be meeting you soon and you’d be happy and healthy. I just knew you’d be. And guess what? You were!

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Dad has some really awesomely gross pictures of you coming out of me. You can choose for yourself if you want to see them or not. I’m guessing not…:P

I remember hearing your first cry- it was beautiful and loud. Your dad got choked up, looked at me, and said, “He’s here”. I can literally see that moment as if it’s happening before my eyes. “He’s here”- two of my most favorite words now.

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Dad snapped some photos while they were looking you over and came and showed me what you looked like. I couldn’t believe how cute you were (are)! I look back at pictures now and I can’t believe you’re so tiny. Not the big boy who’s currently laying on the rug and playing with a package of boogie wipes. Side note: When did you get SO big?! And why are you playing with those Boogie Wipes when there are like 5 Billion toys behind you?

You changed my heart- right then and right there. Not just spiritually but also in the way that made me forget all the worry and fear of becoming a mother. Suddenly, I was given this amazing responsibility and a little person to make my heart grow bigger and bigger everyday. And hopefully, I can make yours do the same.

I fall in love with you more and more each day, kid. You have no idea.

Our doctor started talking to me about Bing Crosby to keep me entertained while he took care of everything left to do. Random…but it worked and I was grateful. Plus, I have random knowledge of Bing and that seemed to impress Dr. Davis so that was pretty cool. F.Y.I.: He was a pretty terrible person…Bing Crosby…not Dr. Davis. He was a BOSS!

Dad was reading me everyone’s well wishes while we waited to hold you. Facebook and our phones were BLOWING UP!!! You popular little guy you.

They wheeled us back into other room and we tried breast feeding…you weren’t a fan. Eh…what can you do?

Everyone came and visited us. Your uncle (and the guy you were named after), Taylor, was the first one in the door. We were so happy and so in love. Everyone was. And we still are.

Your little eyes looked up at me and I breathed you in. I’ll never forget kissing the wrinkles on your fore-head when you scowled. It still makes me smile when I think about it- and I do- daily.

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Our nurses kept saying, “He’s the most beautiful baby!”- They were right…even if I might be just a little biased.

But seriously, you’re a carbon copy of your daddy, so of course you’re a cutie!

I just had to pause writing this so I could take you to rock you to sleep for a little nap. I was thinking about everything I wanted to say to you:

  • You cuddled up against me is something I cherish. I look forward to these moments when we can sit a snuggle together.
  • You smell like Dreft baby detergent (and that smells like magic).
  • Your little soft fingers curled around mine and it made my heart melt.
  • I just love you more than you’ll ever know, nugget.
  • You just farted…and it was epic.

I digress…

Later, when you were in the nursery, dad and I got served a CRAZY amazing meal! They had steak, mashed potatoes, mozzarella sticks, chicken wings, chocolate desserts…and so much more!

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You came to join us after a while and we were so thrilled to see you!

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We stayed in the hospital a few days until it was FINALLY time to head home. If you’re reading this as an adult and don’t know what your going home hat is…then we have FAILED as parents!!!

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We just had the best (and most exhausting) time when we all got home. Family had left meals for us and cleaned up. It was just a time where you, your daddy, your dog Willow, and I could be together and just enjoy our time.

Since dad is a teacher, he got the Summer off. It took a whole year to get pregnant with you. Were you waiting so dad could spend your first few months at the house? Sometime I wonder…smart kid.

It was the most beautiful time in my life so far. The Summer air lofted around us each day, the trees blew a cool breeze as we sipped sweet tea on the porch, and you sat in your swing in the living room and rocked back and forth while we watched you with anticipation of what you were going to do next. Beautiful- like a long book that you never want to end.

I’ll be honest, there were some days where I wasn’t sure if I was good enough to be your mother. How could someone who still feels a little like a kid herself be a mom to this little sweet baby boy? Was I cut out for such a job? Was I worthy of this amazing blessing?

Sometimes I still wonder how I got so lucky, but ultimately, I know our hearts were meant for each other. You’re my little love in life…your daddy is my big love. 😛

You are my son, my whole world, and my best little buddy. I hope you grow up loving life and living it to its fullest.

I promise to let you be a little boy and get dirty sometimes.

I promise to let you be a little wild if you want to be, but I also promise to reign you in when needed.

I promise to always protect you.

I promise we’re gonna make this life of yours one heck of a fun time!

And finally, I promise to remember these times with you as if they were happening in real time. Because these are the most precious moments we are going to have together, and they deserved to be bundled up and locked in a box for safe keeping.

This is why mommy started this blog, to share with you one day and to help other “Millennial” mom’s live out these precious moments (that sometimes aren’t so precious).

Just know this Flynn, mom and dad, we have your back.

Before I end this letter to you, I wanted to write some things down to share with you and so that I can remember them:

  • You always suck on your two fingers to soothe yourself- my little self soother!
  • You LOVE bath time!
  • You got three tool boxes for Christmas- you’re so much like your dad already!
  • You are the spitting image of daddy
  • DIMPLES FOR DAYYYYYZZZZ!!!
  • You give me wet sloppy kisses
  • You think the curtains in your room are hilarious
  • We live next to a horse stable and we see them when we leave and come home each day.
  • Willow makes you laugh.
  • Your crib is your happy place.
  • Mom calls you “Flynnie The Pooh”.

oh…and also…marry you best friend one day. It’s amazing. Trust me.

My prediction for you:

  • You’re going to be JUST like dad!

And I couldn’t be happier about it…more of the man that I love!

So, kid, that’s it. A letter from your mom. Above all else, I want you to know how loved you are. There are family members up here constantly to see you and we love it! I want you to feel love every second of you life.

My beautiful baby boy, you are everything i’ve ever wished or dreamed for. You are my heart. You are our greatest adventure.

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