12.08.2014

Share your story.

After dealing with PPD and PPA (and then you know, hospitalization of kiddos, a divorce, etc.), I've had a lot of people reach out to me and thank me for sharing my story.  And now, I'd like to offer you that chance to share your story.  I'm going to start a new blog series called "Mental Health Mondays" -- and I'd like you, my readers and fellow bloggers, to share your stories.

Your story doesn't have to be relationship specific or postpartum specific...the only requirement is that it relates to your mental health.  We've all gone through ups and downs in life and we all deal with them differently.  However, I'd like for us to gain to some strength from these trying times and share our stories.  It's my hope that people will stumble across these examples and use them for strength in their own times of struggle.  I'm hope that others will realize that they are not alone.  Mental health is something that we don't always talk about, but I'm hoping that we can change that.  I'd like to help remove some of that stigma and help normalize mental health conversations.  It's ok to struggle, it's ok to get help, it's ok to share.  So please, share your story!

What are you waiting for?  Email me now!

p.s. Here's my email address for quick and easy access...see, no excuses.  =)

elffamilyblog at gmail dot com






11.30.2014

The BEST Pumpkin Dessert Ever! {recipe}

I grew up in small town Iowa.  A graduating class of only 43.  It was awesome....and one of the best parts was the annual Thanksgiving lunch our lunch ladies made.  It was awesome!  Turkey, gravy, potatoes, and the BEST pumpkin dessert ever!  It seriously brought in members of the community - it was that good of a meal.  Before I graduated, a friend of mine and I asked the head cook for the recipe.  (And because small town folks are the best...she shared it with us.)  Since then, I have made this dessert every.single.year for Thanksgiving.

Now....I shall share this glorious dish with you.  (You're welcome in advance.) 


Pumpkin Pie Dessert
Ingredients:
6 eggs (beat these first)
1 c. white sugar
1 large can pumpkin pie filling (3+ cups)
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 large can evaporated milk
1 yellow cake mix
1/2 c. oleo
Mix all ingredients thoroughly.  Add and mix with evaporated milk.  Pour into buttered 9x13 pan.  Crumble 1 box of yellow cake mix and 1/2 c. oleo (do NOT melt).  Sprinkle on top of mixture in the cake pan and bake at 350* for 50-55 min. or until knife text comes out clean.

That's it!  Let that bad boy cool and serve with some whip cream.  

Ahhhhhmaaazing!  Seriously.

p.s. I store mine in the fridge...I like it cold.  You could leave yours on the counter if you'd like.  

11.24.2014

Just be.

That's all I can manage right now.  It's been a long time...months...since I've blogged and let's be honest.  I go back and forth about keeping it up, deleting it, starting over.  In fact, I even considered starting over and then I started the process and HOLY MOLY is that a lot of work!  So for now, I may just keep this up.  I need to change things up a bit though and I still don't know that I love it, but for now ELF: A Family Blog has become Endless Little Faces.  Still at the same domain...even better.  Now, if you can come up with something awesome (as a blog name) that starts with an E and an L and an F...LET ME KNOW!  I'm all ears.

Now, for an update.  I go back forth about pouring my heart and being honest on here.  While E and I were going to divorce I don't ever want to slander him or make him seem like a terrible person because he's not.  We all have our demons though and for me to heal and get back to blogging, I think I need to be honest.

Divorce hurts.

It sucks.

It can suck the life and the happiness out of you.

So where are we?  In limbo.  He signed the papers without much of a fight (one discussion over the decree and he went off and got them notarized).  That was a punch to the gut.  Ugh.

Then a week later he asked if I still had the papers.  I did as I hadn't gotten back into the lawyer's office to drop them off.  He asked if I'd hold off for a bit, so I did.  Why?  Because I still had hope, I wanted more than anything for things to work out, but (and you knew there was a but coming didn't you?) after he moved back to town (not in with me...too weird at this point) I tried to put myself back out there, but I was scared, I was nervous, and I had lost all trust in him.

Yet I began to slowly open my heart to him again and that was shattered all over again when I discovered lies and deceit.  The lies were on-going, the deceit was situational, but still...it shattered any trust I had built up again and closed off my heart even further.

Then?

We did what we do best.  We ignored the problems, the elephant in the room.  We lived with the status quo and made arrangements to see kids and acted cool around each other.  It's what we're good at.  And after A LOT of soul searching I realized I couldn't keep doing this dance.  If...if...we ever have a chance at getting back together someday I'm going to need it to be a fresh start.  I'm going to need the finalization of this chapter in order to close the book and forgive all of the sins we'd committed.  I can't imagine trying to repair things after how screwed up they have gotten.  I would need a clean slate.  I could forgive the things that have been done if we can close this chapter and allow ourselves to become better...apart...to live, to learn, to get healthy, to love ourselves.....so that we can be awesome together again.

So I told him this.  And his world shattered.  He didn't see it.  He didn't believe it.  And I think he'd been in denial about how crappy things had been.  The ironic part is that everything he felt and experienced, I went through last spring when he dropped the bomb on me.  I never wanted him to go through that and I struggle so much in staying strong in my decision because I hate to see him hurting.  I want to fix him, I want to fix everything, but I've learned that I can't make him do things he doesn't want to do.  I also have a tremendous amount of guilt...guilt over an ending marriage, guilt over possibly hurting my children (let's be honest, divorce will hurt, but I hope that it will never be detrimental to them), and guilt that I let myself become an enabler.  When did that happen?!?

Anyway, to make a very long story short, I recently signed the papers...now?  I just need to find the strength to turn them in.  This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do.  My heart breaks over and over again every time I think about it and where we've ended up.  And honestly, in my heart of hearts I hope and pray that in time things will work themselves out and we'll end up together again.  But for now, I need to do what's best for me and what's best for the kids.

Wish me luck.  And pray for strength...for all of us.

4.13.2014

An updated reality check.

So I've been offline.  Well, offline on the blog front.  I needed some time.  I needed to process some things.  And really?  Let's be honest.  It was one thing...the end of my marriage.

I'm sure if you've followed our story long enough you know that we've had our ups and downs, but eventually there comes a time when you have to face reality.  I'd been living in denial for a long time.  I don't know that I ever wanted to acknowledge the struggles or unhappiness in my life because I'm a pretty happy, optimistic person and facing that reality meant facing a lot of negative emotions.  What I didn't realize is that I'd been living on the edge of a panic attack for so long that it had become "normal" for me to feel so amped up in fight/flight mode.  It wasn't healthy.  In fact, I'd even gone so far as to go back on meds a few months back.

Yet, when your spouse calls you (yes, calls...men, take heed...do not call your wife for a divorce...) and tells you he thinks you'd be better off as friends it kind of takes you back, especially when you've been fighting so hard for so long and doing everything you can think of in order to "save" your marriage.  So yes, I had to process my emotions.  I was sad, mad, angry, resentful, and about a million other things, but I think the hardest pill to swallow was the fact that I felt like I'd be judged.  That I was now going to be just another statistic.  That....that was hard for me.  I normally don't care what people think, but this, this was on a personal level.  Having put yourself out there in a marriage, only to have someone reject you (this is what it feels like at first) is a very raw, rough emotion to deal with.  It makes you look at yourself and the core of who you are.

And yet?  I processed the whole thing fairly quickly.  I think I started to look back and realize that E and I had lost sight of who we were as people.  We were two different people and we knew that when we got together, but we were in love and in those early stages you ignore things that would otherwise turn you off...especially when you're young (he was 20, I was 22).  I think over the years those little things became bigger things and those bigger things drove wedges between us.  Neither one of us is a hugely confrontational person so we'd mention things here and there, but never pushed any issues.  In the end, our great communication (you know, because we never fought) was the beginning of the end.  Ignoring things doesn't make them go away, it only makes them worse.

Now, there is more to this whole story and I'm sure I'll share it as time goes on, but for now I want to make a promise to myself that I am going to live my life honestly.  I am going to do everything I can for these two amazing kiddos, but also...for myself.  I deserve to be happy and I deserve to be with someone who wants to be with me.  I shouldn't have to compromise who I am or what I value in order to be with anyone.  I think my 20s were a learning experience for me, and while I wouldn't trade it for the world, I am ready for my 30s.  I am ready to see what doors and windows have opened.  I am ready to starting living my life true to myself.  I am ready for the next great thing.

So hang on, sit tight, and enjoy what is sure to be a roller coaster of a ride.

And if you have any questions?  Ask.  I'm ok with sharing, really.  And if I'm not, I'll let you know. (Although I can't remember the last time I didn't share something.)

Have a fabulous week all!

p.s. I need a new blog name. I need a change.  I need something that embraces this next phase of my life and the way I want to live my life...honestly, with passion, purpose, and faith.  Ideas?  Please toss them out!

3.03.2014

Amber for Babies - Teething Necklace Review & Giveaway


Amber For Babies
Disclaimer: This post is written on behalf of Amber for Babies. I received a necklace for free for review. All opinions are my own. 

After we had Thaddeus, I saw many a babies rocking these necklaces that I knew nothing about.  So I asked around, but none of my friends in real life had ever used them and needless to say, I didn't pursue it much thinking that these necklaces couldn't be that good.

Boy was a I wrong.

Enter baby number two and teeth at five months old.

I did not want to spend months feeding my baby Tylenol and Ibuprofen for teething pain.  We did use teething tablets with Thaddeus, but even then, I didn't want to use those for months.  Ugh.  What was a mom to do?

Quite simply, go back to the option I'd ignored with Thaddeus....an amber teething necklace.

LIFE SAVER.

Seriously.  I now recommend amber teething necklaces to everyone I know.

Liviana wears hers 24/7 and we only remove it for baths.  We once forgot to put it back on after washing her up and a few hours later she was covered...covered...in drool from teething.  It was unreal.  We put it back on and the drooling stopped.  I was an even bigger believer from that day forward.



And lucky for you, Amber for Babies sells their necklaces on two different sites and offer same day shipping for orders placed by 2PM EST...essential for any parent struggling with a teething baby!

And, for your reading pleasure (and parenting sanity), Amber for Babies is offering an amber teething necklace to one lucky reader!

Follow the instructions below for your chance to win (and earn back some of your sanity)! ENDS 3/12

a Rafflecopter giveaway




3.02.2014

Spotlight On: Birmingham for Families

Disclaimer: This post as written in collaboration with Kira Browdy.

Whether you have toddlers or teens, Birmingham is just brimming with attractions perfect for children of all ages. So book with Travelodge and head off to this lively city with the children for an action packed holiday. If you're looking for a little inspiration on how to keep the kids happy during your trip to Brum, take a look at our recommendations:

Brindley Place

Located in the heart of Birmingham city centre, right next to the canal, Brindley Place is a great area to visit with children. Here you'll find cafes and restaurants, all catering to families with children, a theatre, art galleries and the National Sealife Centre. It really is a one stop shop in terms of family friendly leisure facilities. Food wise there are family favourites like Cafe Rouge, Carluccio's, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Pizza Express and Wagamama, along with lots of independent eateries offering a variety of menus to suit every taste.

The Ikon Gallery is an internationally acclaimed gallery featuring a variety of art, which offers free entry and plenty of child friendly activities. The Crescent Theatre is home to numerous family friendly productions, like Calamity Jane and A Midsummer Nights Dream and you can see all kinds of marine life at the National Sealife Centre. Always a popular choice with children of all ages, the Sealife Centre allows you to touch starfish and crabs in the interactive rock pool experience, watch feeds and talks throughout the day and wander through 15 themed zones containing over 2000 sea creatures. Brindley Place is somewhere you can spend an entire day with the family and never run out of things to do. A must visit while in Birmingham.

Cadbury World

Visit every chocoholic’s idea of heaven. Those who are fans of the book 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' will feel like they are part of the story themselves as they get the chance to discover the history of chocolate, see how it's made, enjoy the interactive displays and, of course, enjoy a bar (or seven) of chocolate on the way round. Children of all ages will love this attraction, as will their chocolate loving parents.

Think Tank

Where science and history come alive. Think Tank is an amazing state of the art science museum, allowing you hands on access to over 200 interactive exhibits across 10 galleries which are certain to wow you. Also home to an awe-inspiring planetarium which uses state of the art technology to show breathtaking 360 degree images on its domed ceiling, it's the perfect place to visit with young scientists of all ages.


Birmingham really does have it all when it comes to family friendly attractions. The city centre itself is crammed full of child friendly attractions from Planet Ice and the bowling alley at The Leisurebox, to mini golf, go karting and the indoor play centres scattered throughout the city. Outside of the city itself you have such attractions as Warwick Castle, Forge Mill Farm, Dudley Zoo and Castle, Plantasia and the West Midlands Safari Park. There really is so much to do here you'll be spoiled for choice – and the kids will be kept busy, if not quiet, for the duration of your Birmingham break.

2.05.2014

{not so} Wordless Wednesday: Pigtails and cuddles.


These pics were taken on a whim this last weekend. We've been soaking up all the E time we can handle.  We're sure gonna miss this guy, but we're hoping that bigger and better things are in our future. Prayers for safe travels are very much appreciated!

With more time on my hands at night, I'm hoping to get back to more blogging. I have a bunch of emails to answer and some facebook messages to return...no worries, I haven't forgotten about you!  Give me a couple of days to get back to single-married mom mentality (and enjoy my snow day today).  Ooooh, and stay tuned, I've got some awesome reviews and giveaways coming up!  Oils, Disney, Purex, jewelry, and more!

Happy Wednesday all!
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