Author Archive

The Real Santa Story

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

The Real Santa Story from MomAdvice.com

From our Parenting Contributor, Kristina Grum, from Thriving Parents.

This past December it finally happened.

All 3 kids asked the question every parent dreads during this time of year.

“Is Santa real?”

Over the years, they had occasionally asked this question.  It had always been easy to pacify them with a question in return.  I always asked them the infamous questions every parent uses:

“What do you think?”

Except it was no longer working.

It was late afternoon while I was getting dinner ready and all 3 kids came and sat at the kitchen island. Our 9-year-old led the conversation.

“Mommy, we have something important to ask you.”

Our 6-year-old followed her.

“Is Santa real?”

Before I could respond, our 8-year-old said, “We know you’re going to ask us what we think, but we want to know the truth.  The real truth.”

The 6-year-old then started in with questions:

“How can one person get around the entire earth AND deliver presents in one night?”

“Reindeer are real but can they really fly?”

“If elves make toys, why do they look like the Lego company’s toys?”

“How can a fat man get down a skinny chimney?”

“Why would it be okay with you to have a stranger come in our house in the middle of the night?”

Ouch.

Are we here already? Weren’t they just babies and we decided what Christmas traditions we wanted to have as a family?

We never put a lot of focus on Santa around the holidays.  We tried to focus more on Jesus since he was the reason we celebrate Christmas.  Most of what they know was learned from friends at school, books, and Christmas movies.

I wasn’t prepared.  I had no plan.  

I thought I’d feel cornered when this moment came but honestly, I felt relief.

“No,” I said. “Santa, the person who wears a red suit and has a white beard isn’t real.  At one time there was a man who delivered presents to children on Christmas but this was hundreds of years ago.”

I told the girls the story of St. Nick and how its earliest origins were of a man who brought presents to children on Christmas and how his story has evolved over the years.

The Real Santa Story from MomAdvice.com

I explained how we all have the spirit of Santa in us and told them it was our responsibility to continue giving presents and doing Random Acts of Kindness for others.  As a family, we do Random Acts of Kindness once a month.  It’s really taught them the importance of giving to others and being more selfless.  Because of this, it was easier for them to see the correlation between giving gifts to celebrate Jesus and being a light in someone else’s day.  

I asked the girls if they could think of some of our Christmas traditions that resemble the spirit of giving.  

They needed some prompting but were able to list a few.  

  • We sponsor a family each year
  • We give the kids Advent boxes at the beginning of the season
  • We bake cookies and deliver them to other people’s mailboxes
  • We pay for the car behind us when we go look at our local light show
  • We donate toys
  • We collect coats and hats and gloves to donate

I was worried our kids would be devastated with this news.  I was especially worried they feel betrayed and lied to.  They didn’t – thank goodness!

I’ll be totally honest, I always felt a little icky about not being truthful with our kids about Santa.  We loved how much fun it was for them but it never sat well with me.  I was more than happy to finally come clean with them and felt Christmas became, even more fun, for them this year.  We did more special surprises and when they wrapped everyone’s gifts, they signed Santa’s name to them.

I think every parent gets to the point where they know they can’t continue to avoid answering questions.

Here are some tips for finally having the real Santa discussion:

  1. Don’t avoid the topic if they’re directly asking about it.
  2. Answer their questions honestly.  
  3. Talk about the importance of gift giving: finding the perfect gift for someone, making people feel special and important, etc.
  4. Ask them if they have any questions.
  5. Be empathetic if they get upset with you.  
  6. Try to find things you can do as a family to make others feel special and to embody the spirit of Santa.
  7. Ask them to not discuss this topic with their friends.

I asked our kids to not discuss this topic with friends at school.  Our kids know children from different cultural and religious backgrounds so it was easy to explain to them.  “Different families have different beliefs and it’s not our responsibility to talk about it with friends.  They can discuss it with their own parents.  If anyone asks you, tell them to talk to their own parents.”

Ending the belief in Santa almost feels like it will be the end of childhood.

I assure you, it isn’t.

Our kids still wake up and crawl into our bed in the middle of the night, still get scared by bad dreams, and still need us to help reach things in the kitchen cabinets.  They still cry when they fall and still want us near by when they’re upset.

There’s plenty of childhood left in them.  

xoxo

–k

Kristina Grum is a Certified Parent Educator who has over a decade of experience working with children, including being a classroom teacher. She took the (very) long route to loving motherhood. These days she strives for ways to connect with her kids, while using shortcuts to manage and organize her home. She is a postpartum mood disorder survivor who thrives on helping others find the joy in parenthood that is just lurking around the corner. She currently teaches positive discipline parenting classes in her local area and she believes that every parent can shift from barely surviving to thriving in Parenthood. Visit her on Thriving Parents today! 

 

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Small-Budget Crushes 05.22.17

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Blush Tote

blush tote

Printed Shift Dress

printed shift dress (under $30!!)

Taupe Medallion Pillows

taupe medallion pillows

 

2017 Planner

2017 planner (less than $10!!)

Beach Twist Tankini

beach twist tankini

Too Fond of Books Cuff

she is too fond of books cuff

Cold Shoulder Stripes

cold shoulder striped tee

 

Bye Felicia Doormat

bye felicia doormat

Seersucker Sailor Short

seersucker sailor shorts (deep discounts this week!)

Jane Austen Mug

jane austen mug

White Jeggings

white jeggings (size up one size!!)

Cotton V-Neck Tee

basic cotton v-neck tee (many colors!)

Keysocks

no-show keysocks (my favorite sock to wear with my ballet flats and booties)

Racerback Shift Dress

racerback shift dress

Basic Black Romper

basic black romper

V-Neck Sweater

v-neck ribbed top (several colors!)

Lace-Up Pom Pom Sandals

lace-up pom pom sandals

 

Crochet Jogger Pants

crochet jogger pants (under $30!!)

Reversible Tote Bags

reversible tote bags (many color combos!)

Tea Organizer

tea organizer

Linen-Blend Jumpsuit

linen-blend jumpsuit (less than $20!)

 

Flamingo Round Beach Towel

flamingo round beach towel

Slim Sleeper Jog Pants

slim sleeper jog pants

Keep on window shopping by visiting all of my Small-Budget Crushes. This post contains affiliate links that help our site! Thank you for supporting me! xoxo 

 

It’s the 3 Little Things: Italy-Loving, Rosé All Day, & Makeup That Sticks

Friday, May 19th, 2017

Italy

passport

running

grilling

1002092_10201393642705297_2132868152_n

robot

 

wedding

prom

Tomorrow we celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary- bring on the nostalgia and flipping through old photos of our 22 years together.

The first comment from my husband… “Please, just not our prom picture.”

So sorry, my dear, it’s one of my favorites! Look at us! We are BABIES!

We have weathered a lot recently and illness certainly brings on a new dynamic in a relationship. The stress and strain of learning your new normal could challenge any marriage. Now that our kids are older, we decided to pick up a weekly date night together to try to combat this stress.

Once a week we do something together and, trust me, this hasn’t been an elaborate or a costly investment. Sometimes we go out for a glass of wine, other evenings we play a board game together, we have curled up on the couch and listened to podcasts, we’ve walked loops through our neighborhood, and we have watched interesting documentaries about parts of the world we are unfamiliar with. This isn’t a mind-blowing technique for marriage building, but a simple commitment that even in the midst of crazy, in the midst of stress at our jobs, in the midst of these health issues… we will try to put each other first.

With the kid’s schedules, it has been difficult to remain consistent on our night each week, but we do consistently talk about which night will work that week around whatever the week has in store for us.

It has become something I really look forward to.

You guys, I love it so much I wash my hair.

I mean, I must REALLY love it.

This anniversary dinner we’ve decided to skip going out, I’m making filets at home, we have a great bottle of red, and an awesome hideaway to travel to and watch a flick. I’m looking forward to this so much I might wash my hair AND style it- ha!

Here are a few other things that are making me happy this week (as if THIS couldn’t have been the whole dang list this week!)

Master of None

Italy Nostalgia-Fest

I absolutely have adored Master of None and was so excited that the show was back with a second season on Netflix. If you haven’t watched it, prepare for a Netflix binge because once you start, you won’t be able to stop.

This season the first two episodes we watched are shot in Italy and it is just absolutely BEAUTIFUL. From font choice, to music, to the beauty of the black-and-white captures… it is absolutely exquisite. My husband and I could not stop grinning and feeling nostalgic for our own time in Italy. Warning, if you haven’t been to Italy, this will have you looking up flights and vacation packages.

This second season we are trying to pace ourselves so we can enjoy it a little longer since it felt like such a long wait between seasons. I can’t recommend this show enough.  If you are looking for a lovely escape, I don’t even think you need to watch the first season to appreciate these first two episodes in season two.

Allora…

Black Box Rose

image source

Rosé All Day

Last summer I got hooked on rosé as my new favorite summer wine. I admit, it took a little convincing since I hate fruity wines and the color can be deceiving. It actually reminds me more of a crisp chardonnay with a little hint of fruit to it.That is why I was so excited to see that Black Box has a limited edition rosé to enjoy all summer long.

According to the company, “Black Box Rosé is built around Syrah and its flavor profile and is made using the traditional saignée method. In this process, the grapes are crushed and the juice stays in contact with the dark red skins for a short time, allowing a small amount of red color to come through. The purpose of allowing the skin contact is not only to impart the beautiful rosé color, but also to provide tannins and red fruit flavors, which enhance the wine’s body and give it more structure.”

At our market it is $16.99 for this four bottle box. Since we were paying about $8-13 per bottle, I was really excited to give this a spin. It actually is quite comparable in flavor to the moderately priced bottles and oh-so-drinkable. Perhaps, TOO drinkable.

Since it is limited edition, I am guessing this one will only be around for the summer months so give this one a spin for your summer entertaining.

I also loved it so much that I dropped a box off with a bow for my favorite rosé partner-in-crime for her birthday. Who wouldn’t love that for their birthday? I am one classy lady, I tell ya!

I hope you love it as much as we do!

Infallible Pro-Glow Foundation

Makeup That Sticks

I have been on the hunt for a foundation that would stay on all day without any reapplication and I have finally found it. L’OReal Infallible Pro-Glow (I wouldn’t go with the matte- it tends to be really drying!). This foundation claims to have up to 24-hour coverage and I’m here to say, it REALLY does. This makeup has a built in SPF 15 and goes on easily. I do have dry skin so I apply a little argan oil (I order it through this company)  before I put on the makeup to help it look less heavy. At the end of the day, it comes off easily with my favorite cleanser and it is so nice to not have to reapply when going out in the evening since it looks as good as it did when I put it on in the morning.

I’m really impressed at the sticking power of this and since it doesn’t require a repeated application, the bottle lasts a lot longer!

Garlic Rosemary Balsamic Pork Loin

 

image source

Eating: I have been making this garlic & rosemary pork loin for our Sunday dinners and it is so good. It’s hard to believe that something simple like rosemary, balsamic, and garlic can be so flavorful, but it really is and doesn’t even require any marinading time. Since the potatoes get a good coating of it too, they have become the new favorite potato in our house. Leftover potatoes are warmed back up in a skillet as a side with eggs on lazy weekend mornings. You must try this recipe!

Listening: I never thought I would be such a big fan of this album, but it has been such a treat to listen to, particularly this track. I can’t recommend it enough. Would love to score this one on vinyl!

Reading: I am finally digging into this book this week and I am really enjoying it. I don’t know anything at all about hockey so this has been a fascinating look at this sport and beautifully written (as I have come to expect from this author). We are reading it for our book club this month (would love for you to join in!) and I’m looking forward to discussing this next Friday.

UnREAL Season 2

Watching: I have been binging on the second season of UnREAL since I enjoyed the first season so much. If you have Hulu, you can binge on both seasons with your membership. I am not finding it as compelling as the first season was, but I still find it to be one of the most enjoyable shows to watch while folding my laundry. It is one of those guilty pleasure shows that make household tasks bearable!

Shopping: Had such a great time shopping over here for a few new things to camo my new gadget I’m wearing on my leg. It looks like I’ll be modifying my capsule quite a bit for summer.  I got some really cute things that stretch and hide this since I’m feeling a little self-conscious about it. The ladies spent a ton of time helping hunt and gather for me which was so helpful. There is nothing like shopping local. Also, if you are just looking for a great necklace, this is the one I am wearing almost every single day from their shop. It seems to work with every neckline I throw at it.

I also decided to put a Stitch Fix stylist on finding a wider legged pant for a petite girl. I love letting someone else figure out that stuff for me especially for these short legs. Finding wide legged pants for a petite girl seem impossible that aren’t dragging ten feet on the floor. For a similar look, I opted for a gorgeous petite jumpsuit (really similar to this) and I’m excited to put that baby to work this summer.

Laughing Hysterically: My girlfriend sent me this video and it made me bust a gut. I thought you might enjoy it too. Warning, a little language, but worth it!

Master of None Season 2

Have a lovely week, friends!! xoxo

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of It’s the 3 Little Things!

Amy’s Notebook 05.17.17

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Tiny Bathroom Makeover

source: little house of four

Since we have wee bathrooms, I love seeing how people make the most of their tiny bathrooms. This makeover was so inspiring!

My hubby has been encouraging me to learn some keyboard shortcuts so this article was really helpful!

What an incredible reminder to not crowd the happiness in your life. I’m so very guilty of this!

I added this and this to my capsule for the warmer weather. Here is why I had to make a few wardrobe switches this month- good stuff!!

These mocktail recipes look like a lovely afternoon treat especially for a mama-to-be.

17 books everyone will be talking about this summer- any you are excited to dig into this summer?

It’s so easy to get stuck down the rabbit hole if you use your phone as an alarm clock. Love this idea of throwing it back to 2007!

Thinking about buying a set of these for our upcoming summer trips. Have you used this system before- looks like it might help me stay more organized?!

“Go where it doesn’t feel comfortable because it’s the only way you’ll make it through to the other side of acceptance, love, and healing.” If you are feeling a little lonely in this world, I think you will appreciate this beautiful piece on how to be lonely. (note- language!)

I’d love to prep some of these chicken burrito bowls for a filling lunch for my week.

Knotted Tee

source: un-fancy

I love this simple styling trick to knot your tees to add visual interest and shape.

What a genius idea for sprucing up tile you don’t love.

I’ve been reading this fairytale this week- a good one for fans of The Snow Child.  

Still listening to this book on audio and have a feeling that one will be in my top ten this year!

I can’t wait to try this simple blow drying technique and see if it makes a difference on my hair.

I struggle with jet lag so these tips were pretty amazing. Pedialyte? Who knew?

Did you grow up watching this show with your mom too? Congrats on the Hollywood Star!

I love this tip for considering outdoor rugs for your indoor spaces. With kids and a pet, this makes perfect sense to me!

Have you jumped on the bullet journal wagon yet? I’m looking forward to digging into these tutorials linked on this post.

Still on the fence about 13 Reasons Why with your teen/tween? Maybe read this!

Simple Hairstyle

source: oh happy day

This simple hairstyle looks like it would be a winner for the upcoming celebration seasons of summer.

What a cute grad gift idea! I’m all about useful gifts and who couldn’t use one of those?

“I would say to anyone who is struggling with addiction you are lovable, you are needed, and you are wanted.” This was a very honest piece on being an alcoholic and what a recovery experience looks like when you have an addiction.

The best and worst things to consume before a workout- noted!

“I am the person who notices we are running out of toilet paper, and I rock.”- what our Mother’s Day card really SHOULD have said.

I am taking a break personally from Facebook (still there for business though- would love to have you!) and this is a big reason why. It’s been anxiety-relieving for me!

Words that breathe life into the little girls around you- ohhhh, so good! I want to do more of this for my daughter, don’t you?

My life has no meaning anymore- bahaha! Seriously, this has been a huge debate over here at our house!

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration! Please note, there are affiliate links that do help support our site- thank you! xoxo

 

The Life-Changing Device I Found For My Chronic Pain

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Quell for Ehlers Danlos

It is hard to explain what a day looks like with chronic pain, but I will do my best to try. Imagine that you are in a quiet and pleasant room and you begin to hear the buzzing of a fly. You are trying to read a book, but all you can hear is this soft buzz and it is distracting you from this beautiful story. You try to deal with it, but can’t locate where the heck it went and it continues to buzz all day long.

You try a variety of homeopathic methods of ridding yourself of the fly, but it has found its way in somewhere and it won’t go away.

You go about your day and the fly is still buzzing along while you are trying to concentrate on your job. Instead of focusing and producing good work, you find yourself on Google trying to find a solution AGAIN.

If you could just find the source, you could swat it out of your life.

You will try anything at this point.

Tonight you are supposed to have friends over and you have this lovely evening built up in your mind, but you are afraid that they will notice the fly too. Why can’t you just have one normal evening without this annoyance? You enjoy your company so much so the buzzing deadens a bit, but that fly is still in the room.

You go to bed and it is now it has followed you to your bedroom. You lay there tossing and turning and praying for this thing to get the hell out of your life, but you wake up and guess what?

That jerk is still there.

Yeah, chronic pain is like that annoying fly that will never leave.

In an answer to many a prayer though, I finally have found relief and a solution that I can live with. You see, I was at the end of the interwebz when I happened upon a device called Quell that has been transformative for my day-to-day existence and I am SO excited to share about it with you.

Amy Allen Clark

Before I begin sharing my story,  I should probably let you know a few things (especially if you are new here!):

1. I am in no way affiliated with this company at the time I am writing this. That means I purchased this product with my own money and all of these thoughts are my own personal experience with it. As always, I write from an authentic place, but I think it is important to share that today especially because most of the reviews that I read were from bloggers that were given the device by the company. I will say since I love the product so much, I’d love to reach out for their ambassadorship to see what new features they decide to test launch so I could be a part of that process as they develop it. Fingers crossed on that!

2. I am not a doctor and I don’t even play one on television! You guys, bloggers are awesome, but doctors are a better source for medical information. If you are considering using this device than please discuss this with a medical professional for your own personal pain relief needs.

3. My chronic pain is linked to a condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Type 3. Due to my joints being overly flexible, it causes a great deal of pain and discomfort since the joints  are loose and unstable. This means they are prone to frequent dislocations and/or subluxations and that I don’t always have a normal range of motion since my joints are hyperextensible and can move beyond those normal ranges. If you want to learn more about my diagnosis, I shared about it over here.

4. I am 39 (!!!) and was relatively healthy before diagnosis last year.  I also had tried EVERYTHING including OTC meds, Vicodin, steroids, and prescription anti-inflammatories all with little success. I also tried homeopathic things with mild relief, particularly from CBD oil, massage, and acupuncture. Most options were expensive as were the co-pays for all these doctor visits and fancy massages.

Let’s also note, I was probably doing a bit of damage to my bones and organs to be taking so much medication and I was getting less relief on the lower dosages that were prescribed.

Quell Pain Relief Device Review

Basically, I was at the end of my pain rope when I went searching on Google for pain relief that wouldn’t involve drugs. Thanks to my most recent joint issues, I was down to typing with just my middle finger because all my other fingers hurt too much. My elbow pain also had increased to an uncomfortable level so sitting at my desk was unbearable. I even had to order a device to hold my books for me because it hurt so bad.

It was a late night search (pounded out with that poor middle finger)  that lead me to a pain relieving device called Quell.

Specifically, I watched this video on YouTube and thought maybe this device might be able to help me too. Although the person in this video is dealing with different issues, she is young and dealing with widespread pain throughout her body that causes joint pain.

I am lucky to know several doctors and nurses (including my incredible sister!) and asked their opinion and if this device might be worth a try. The consensus was…it could work or not. Basically, there was no guarantee it would help with MY pain or how my body would respond to this type of pain relief. The company even shares that it has helped 81% of people manage their pain and 67% reported a reduction in pain medication use. That means it doesn’t work for everyone.

I just knew with my luck, I’d be the one that it didn’t help with. 

I was so very wrong. 

Fifteen minutes after I slipped this device on my leg, my pain levels went from an 9 to a 3. Was it because I wanted it to work so bad or was it real? After a few weeks of wearing it, I am telling you it is real and it has been life-altering.

I am sitting here typing with all my fingers while this little gadget is doing pain therapy and I haven’t taken any meds since I got it.

I am in awe of this technology and how much it has changed my day.

I want to dive deep for those of you that are struggling with pain and explain what Quell is, how I am using it, and a few hurdles I have had with the device.

 

Quell Review

What is Quell?

Quell is a newer technology, a wearable intensive nerve stimulation device, that is clinically proven to help manage chronic pain. It is 100% drug free, doctor recommended, and FDA cleared for 24/7 use, during the day while active and at night while sleeping, so you can get relief when and where you need it.

This device is worn just below the knee and activated by simply clicking a button. This position (on the calf)  is where a lot of the sensory nerves are located so the pain can be blocked at the spinal cord, which helps you feel widespread relief from your pain and not just relief in a specific part of your body.  These sensory nerves send neural pulses to your brain that then trigger a natural response that blocks pain signals, leading to widespread pain relief for many people.

The company refers to it its intuitive abilities as “OptiTherapy” technology that can automatically adjust therapy and dose to ensure you receive optimal pain relief.

The best part is that you can start and stop therapy sessions, as well as adjust the intensity of therapy from the Quell app on your smartphone (app works for both iOS and Android). You can also review therapy and sleep trends over time. Advanced sleep insights allow you to monitor 8 important dimensions of sleep such as sleep quality and time asleep as well as your body movement and position during the night, giving you even more insight into your chronic pain management.

If you aren’t a smartphone user, they also have ways that you can manage your device just from the button on the side with instructions on that too.

What does the Quell App Look Like & What Does It Tell You?

Let’s take a peek at a few things I took a screenshot of from the app on my phone…

Quell Review

Here is a screenshot of a session that I was in the middle of when I was grocery shopping. I have my settings set so I can visually see the level of intensity instead of just a plus or minus for intensity.

Going along the bottom of the screen, the far left is the battery life. The battery has lasted four days for me before I had to plug it in for a charge. It is easy to do and takes a couple of hours to fully charge with a cord, kind of like your phone!

The person icon is telling me that I have completed five sessions that day. Most days I am averaging about seven sessions. The sessions are for one hour on and then one hour off. They say that the positive effects of the therapy usually carries over for about 40 minutes so there are about 20 minutes where I start to feel like crap. Every single time, I look and it says 20 minutes ON THE DOT. It’s manageable though because I know relief is coming in 20 more minutes.

The bandage icon is telling my pain levels. It also has lots of other things you can input in the tracking screen that can help you analyze the good and the bad days. On this day, I was at a level one so that’s pretty incredible for someone who has been between a 7-9 on a pain skill.

The last icon is how many more days I have on the electrode I am using. We will talk about that a little later because that is one thing you do have to maintain.

 

Quell Review

 

Here is that tracking screen I was telling you about. I can look at this and tell you why my levels were this way.

Thursday I drank too much wine with my husband (hahaha!) so I slept like crap. We also had a lot of family stuff going on that day. The next day was my daughter’s dance recital which was beautiful, but tiring. Sunday was MY DAY (yay for Mother’s Day!) so I took a nap and felt awesome because I did nothing. Monday was back to the grind and another family thing came up so I was tired.

This documentation tells me 1) stop drinking so much wine 2) that would have been a hard week for any mom 3) Every day should be Mother’s Day.

Quell Review

You can customize it a lot and one of the things you can do is put it on Sleep Mode and set it up to the intensity levels you need. I tried sleeping with it and it drove me crazy since I sleep on both sides and I found the device to be too bulky for sleeping. The analytics didn’t really tell me enough or help my quality of sleep enough to wear it so I slip it off at night and this is when I can charge it if needed.

What Is the Cost of Quell and Is It Covered By Insurance?

This device is not covered by insurance. The starter kit comes with everything you need for one month and costs $249. The electrodes last for two weeks each and come with a reusable liner that you can also jot down the date of when you started to use the liner so you know how many days, particularly if you aren’t using the app. I have found the durability on these to be great, BUT I am not sleeping in mine and I also have adjusted my wardrobe a bit to accommodate the device.

I would imagine if you sleep in it, the electrodes might pull a bit and the same would be the case in a tight pair of skinny jeans so to help these last the full two weeks, I choose to do neither.

It is important to register your device because the company does offer a sixty day return policy. That means if you discover this device does not work for you, you can contact customer service for a refund. Please don’t send your requests to me, I cannot help you!

Who Can This Device Help?

They clearly state that it will not help migraine sufferers so I am sorry if that is the type of pain challenge you are dealing with. On the site it says it helps with chronic nerve pain, chronic joint pain, leg and foot pain, lower back pain, and widespread pain for people like me!

dance-recital

What Are the Negatives With This Device?

Well, as streamlined as it is, for a girl who lives in skinny jeans and short a-line dresses this has been a bit of an adjustment. As you can see, it is peeking out on the right of my leg in our family photo. Yes, this is a complete vanity thing, but that’s also a dose of honesty. I ended up buying a couple of midi skirts and am looking at pants a little differently to accommodate the side bulk of this device.  I know at some point I will feel more confident with wearing it out, I just need to get used to it.

You do need to move the device around and the app will let you know that it is “time to air out,” those electrodes.  I did skip it on the recital day and I got a little rashy under those spots where the electrodes were. It’s important to heed their advice on that to avoid a skin reaction.

It has a light-up display that I didn’t realize you could disable that flashes as a session is happening. At my daughter’s recital, it looked like a disco globe going off, under my dress, when the stage went dark. Now that I know I can turn off that display, I’ll feel a little better about going to the movies- ha!

I wish there were no maintenance things to buy, but the electrodes must be replaced every two weeks. Broken down the maintenance cost is roughly over $7 a week and I know I was paying a lot more than that and would have continued to pay more to treat the pain with doctor visits and medications.

This does not cure the pain, it just breaks the pain cycle so you your body can rest and do what it needs to do for the day. It doesn’t mean that I am healed, but it means that I can function. I don’t want to give anyone any false hope that this will rid you of what is ailing you, it just helps you manage and reduce the pain in a drug-free way.

Quell for Ehlers Danlos

What Are the Positives With This Device?

I have broken the cycle of pain. This weekend I sat through a beautiful graduation, watched with tears in my eyes as my daughter danced, and was present for a family member when they had surgery. I couldn’t have done that if I was still at that level of pain I was in.

Going off medication is rough. I felt blue and foggy before and now I feel like me again.

I’m sleeping better.

I am clear-headed and present again in my daily life with my family.

I feel like I can manage this again.

I am grateful.

Technology, you can be a beautiful thing sometimes!

I don’t know if this will help you, but I pray that if you are dealing with chronic pain that you can find the right answer for YOU.

Please feel free to ask me any questions and I will try to answer them for you!

Please note, this does contain affiliate links that help maintain our site. Thank you so much! 

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The Virtual Librarian Experience: Give Me a Good Mystery

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

The MomAdviceVirtual Librarian (2)

It’s been awhile since I have dove into our Virtual Librarian requests so I thought today would be the perfect day to share a few selections for our mystery-loving reader! Today’s reader, Leah, is trying to get back to reading and is looking for books that will get her back to embracing her love for reading again.

Since I’m not much of a mystery reader, but more of a thriller reader, I’d love to hear your recommendations for your favorite mysteries!

If you would like me to pick some books for you, just fill out this quick questionnaire and submit it. I will send you an email when your post is live to let you know my favorite picks for you! You can also leave comments on books you would recommend for this reader too in our comment section below!

reader-profile

Reader Profile

Name?

Leah

What is Your Favorite Book Genre?

Mystery

Who Are Your Favorite Authors?

Agatha Christie

Nancy Drew Series

What is Your Favorite Book of All-Time? 

The Nancy Drew Series

What Do You Look for In a Book?

I LOVED reading when I was young. I devoured books daily. I loved mysteries (Nancy Drew in particular) and also historical fiction. I also read a lot of YA in my teen years.

I really haven’t read much since my teen years and I really want to get my passion for reading back! I love mysteries, thrillers, fiction, and historical fiction. I have no clue where to start!

I can’t do anything too gory or dirty…. I would like to keep it PG or PG-13 ;) I do love the Miss Marple series which I am reading through right now.

The Virtual Librarian Selects…

A Murder in Time

A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

I am not big into series books, but since Leah loves a good series, I had to start with this one. A Murder in Time is the first in the Kendra Donovan mysteries series and is a promising start for time travel and historical fiction lovers.

The story follows an FBI agent, Kendra Donovan, that is involved in a case that goes horribly wrong and claims the life of her colleagues. When she finds out that they are using the murderer as an informant, she decides to take revenge at a period piece party he is attending at a castle. Hiding from him when her revenge takes an unexpected turn, she goes into a corridor and then comes out in the same castle, but in an entirely different era- the 1800’s. Her ability to sleuth out cases comes in handy though when a serial killer is on the loose and no one else can solve it. Without her modern day tools though, this case isn’t an easy one.

Oh, and she’s a woman and a low level employee at the castle so she’s not respected either.

Although far-fetched, as most time travel books are, this is a fun escape. I actually learned a lot about that era that I had never been before. Twist in a fun love story, and you have a great escape that fans of the Outlander series will enjoy with this fun modern spin!

The Woman in Cabin 10

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Ware’s debut, In a Dark, Dark Wood, was so fantastic that I couldn’t wait to dig into her second thriller. The Woman in Cabin 10 feels a bit like a Hitchcock film or a finely crafted Agatha Christie murder mystery. Playing into the unreliable narrator theme, that seems to be so popular these days, Lo Blacklock is dealing with anxiety following a break in at her home. Assigned to cover a boutique cruise ship for a travel magazine, Lo believes she witnesses a murder in the cabin next to hers.

When she reports it and starts investigating what has happened, someone is not too happy about it, creating an already unhinged woman into a state of even more heightened anxiety. As a reader, this whodunit murder mystery was solid all the way through and kept me guessing until the final pages.

Be sure to check out my interview with Ruth Ware as we discussed her debut, In a Dark, Dark Wood!

I Let You Go

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

I Let You Go will be the psychological thriller you need to pull you out of a reading slump. The book opens with a mother crossing the street with her child. She lets go for just a moment and that child is hit by a car. This hit-and-run case leaves little clues to the killer and the reader follows this grief-stricken survivor as she tries to form a new life in a new town, far from the reminders of the accident. Hold onto your hats though because nothing is as it seems and the reader is taken on plot twists that will leave you gasping. This is, truly, the next Gone Girl, friends, don’t miss it!

Check out my interview with Clare Mackintosh and hear about the case that inspired her book and the life experience that shaped the raw grief of the mother in her story!

Arrowood

Arrowood by Laura McHugh

This is a solid gothic mystery about twin girls who go missing and their sister who is haunted and filled with guilt because their disappearance happened when she was supposed to be watching them.

When a true crime writer decides he wants to figure out the answer to this unsolved case for a book, we begin to realize that Arden’s memories of that fateful day may not be entirely accurate. McHugh then takes the reader down a winding path of suspects to answer where these children could have gone in a classic mystery format.

I will say, the ending was not as conclusive as I would have liked and if you prefer a clearly defined ending, this might be an unsatisfactory ending for you. It did serve as an excellent book for discussion as you think about your own childhood memories and what it would be like as a family to have old wounds reopened for the sake of true crime writing.

I really enjoyed this one and would recommend it for Leah since she is such a big mystery lover!

Little Deaths

Little Deaths by Emma Flint

Set in the summer of 1965, Flint’s novel reads like a true crime story as the author weaves the story of two missing children in Queens, New York and the story of their single mother who doesn’t fit the typical mother mold.

Ruth Malone, their mother, raises her children alone and doesn’t conform to the idea of what a good mother and wife should be. Working as a cocktail waitress, she is gorgeous with an overly done face and wardrobe. Ruth instantly becomes the suspect worth scrutinizing by the cops, the neighbors, and the press. When a tabloid reporter, intent on getting his first big story, begins covering the story of these missing children, he just can’t help but to become obsessed with her.

Much of the story is told through a series of interviews as Pete Wonicke tries to get the scoop and the reader is taken through this heart wrenching story from lost children, to found, to the agonizing building of the case.

Well-crafted and developed with a dramatic conclusion, Flint paints Ruth in such a way that she practically lifts off the pages. Although the conclusion was a bit too swift for me, I found this to be a solid read that left me guessing through much of it. I would recommend this one for fans of crime fiction, especially if you are a big fan of police procedural books since this book takes you through the case from start to finish.

The Bullet

The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly (on sale today for $4.99!!)

The Bullet  is a beautifully written mystery that echoes some of my favorite thrillers from Chevy Stevens.  The premise of the book is when a woman discover a bullet in her body that she was never aware of it, it sends her life spiraling in a direction that she never expected. The origin of that bullet and the people around her that it has affected, cause this cold case to be reopened… reopening wounds of the family and friends around her.

Despite the gravity of the case and the circumstances surrounding it, the book is laced with great humor and a cast of endearing characters. I really enjoyed this one for a quick escape and can’t recommend it enough.

You can read my interview with the author once you finish this captivating read!

What would you pick out for Leah based on her preferences? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend what I love though! Dig into the Virtual Librarian series this year for more great selections! 

The MomAdviceVirtual Librarian (2)

Small-Budget Crushes 05.15.17

Monday, May 15th, 2017

Midi Wrap Skirt

midi wrap skirt

(just got this in green and denim- they have POCKETS!!) Use coupon code SOGOOD for 40% off! True to size & comes in Petite!)

Long Cardigans

long cardigans (20% off!!)

(these are my favorite cardigans for a light spring layer)

Classic Trench

classic trench

hello summer hat

hello summer hat

Boatneck Tee

boatneck tee (on sale this week 2 for $20!!)

Pom Pom Clutch

pom pom clutch

Striped Daybreak Dress

striped daybreak dress- comes in petite too! (use code PICNIC for free shipping!)

 

Should Would Could Did Mug

should would could did mug (great grad gift!)

Palm Shorts

palm shorts (use code THANKYOU for 30% off or 40% off for cardmembers)

Lace Halter One Piece

lace halter one piece

Going for a Swim Print

going for a swim limited edition print

Jessica Simpson Libra Shoe

lace-up nude suede flats (49% off!!)

Work Like a Captain, Party Like a Pirate Tee Set

work like a captain, party like a pirate tee set

Cross Front Blouse

cross-front blouse

Fringed Pom Pom Sandals

fringed pom-pom sandals

Custom Initial Stackable Ring Set

custom initial stackable ring set

Scoop Front Tee

scoop front tee (on sale this week 3 for $20!!)

 

thanks dad for killing all the spiders print

thanks dad for killing all the spiders print

Keep on window shopping by visiting all of my Small-Budget Crushes. This post contains affiliate links that help our site! Thank you for supporting me! xoxo 

 

 

Amy’s Notebook 05.10.17

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Kitchen Makeover

source: emily henderson

I can’t stop scrolling through these pictures of this kitchen makeover. I just love all these beautiful details!

Did you know you can make jam in your Instant Pot? As if I couldn’t love this kitchen gadget more!

Pretty sure if my iPhone could talk it would say ALL OF THIS.

9 easy ways to get busy people to respond to your emails.  I love this advice for getting favorable responses!

Do you need strategies for work/life balance? I loved this advice and have been trying to work on that for myself too!

It’s official. These are my new favorite shoes for spring. I can’t rave enough about them!

Easy Vegan Naan

source: minimalist baker

This vegan naan recipe looks absolutely delicious and easy too!

It is insane that anyone goes camping! My thoughts exactly- hahaha!

My heart is all wrapped up in this memoir this week. If you are a fan of beautiful memoirs, this is definitely one to add to your stack!

This shrimp & tomato sheet pan supper looks lovely & light for a weeknight meal! Adding to our menu planner!

Um, have you heard of this? I am all about ways I can get better sleep.

Shibori Kitchen Towels

source: a beautiful mess

I have been wanting to give shibori dying a spin and loved this tutorial for getting started!

I always appreciate advice on how to reduce inflammation. This anti-inflammatory food pyramid has some great tips!

3 cute ways to style a vest. I love having these in my capsule wardrobe!

There is some language in this, but my husband shared this incredible piece with me on the backfire effect and I had to share it with you. It really made me think about my reactions to things!

This diy overhead camera mount is genius for those overhead IG shots!

This is a great list of 30 books you should read at least once in your lifetime.

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration! Please note, there are affiliate links that do help support our site- thank you! xoxo

 

Small-Budget Crushes 05.08.17

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Heart Hair Clip

heart hair clip

Sleeveless Pintuck Dress

sleeveless pintuck swing dress (use coupon code MAY for 40% off!!)

Cut Out Lace Up Flats

cutout lace-up flats (come in black too!)

Round Initial Necklace

round initial necklace

Striped Tee

perfect stripes (60% off!- as marked!)

Just One More Chapter Pillow

just one more chapter pillow

Quilted Sneakers

quilted sneakers (buy one pair of shoes, get the second at 50% this week!!)

Stag Bar Tool Set

stag bar toolset

Camping Shirt

camping shirt

Bouquet Toss Jumpsuit

bouquet toss jumpsuit (comes in petite too!)

Shoreline Sneakers

shoreline sneakers

Embroidered Midi Dress

embroidered midi dress

 

Decorative FitBit Bracelet

decorative fitbit bracelet

Waxed Canvas Lunch Bags

waxed canvas lunch bags

Tapestry Drawstring Skirt

tapestry drawstring skirt

Somerset Hat

somerset hat

Cotton V-Neck Tee

the perfect v-neck tee (many colors!)

Fit & Flare Dress

fit & flare dress, several patterns and comes in petite (use coupon code MAY for 40% off!!)

Striped Sun Hat

striped sun hat

Floral Twill Garden Gloves

floral twill garden gloves

Keep on window shopping by visiting all of my Small-Budget Crushes. This post contains affiliate links that help our site! Thank you for supporting me! xoxo 

Gluten-Free Orange Creamsicle Pancakes (Plus FUN Contest!!)

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

gluten-free-orange-creamsicle-pancakes

I am so excited to be partnering this year with the Florida Department of Citrus to celebrate National OJ Day today. You may recall that we celebrated last year with these super cute cup printables! Today I am sharing a delicious gluten-free Orange Creamsicle Pancake recipe for a fun breakfast treat and sharing about a fun contest you can enter in TODAY ONLY to celebrate National OJ Day.

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First up, let’s just talk about these pancakes for a minute!

We are big fans of pancakes around here and gluten-free pancakes are surprisingly easy to create when you start with a good premade pancake mix. What makes these special is that we are replacing the milk in these with Florida Orange Juice. I love how small switches like these can yield a completely different pancake flavor, don’t you?

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We can’t stop there though! Layered between the pancakes, I have a delicious whipped cream made with heavy cream and vanilla pudding. If you have never mixed a vanilla pudding mix into your whipped cream, you are in for such a delicious treat. The pudding mix elevates these pancake layers and creates that creamy flavoring that we are after.  If you end up having extra cream filling left, it is so good to layer between layers of your favorite fruits for a dessert on another day.

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Serve these pancakes sandwich-style for all that Orange Creamsicle flavor. Aren’t these gorgeous? These pancakes only require a little syrup since they are such a sweet treat!

How to Freeze Your Orange Creamsicle Pancakes

If you have extra pancakes, you can freeze the leftovers for your week. If you have the time, you can place your extra pancakes on a cookie sheet (make sure they aren’t touching!) and place them in your freezer for 30 minutes. Once they are frozen, you can place them in a freezer bag for easy grabbing.

Don’t have space in your freezer for a whole cookie sheet? No worries! You can just stack them with wax paper or parchment paper in between them instead and then place them into a freezer bag.

I love to have things like this in my freezer for those chaotic school mornings. I just grab a couple for each kid with a couple of breakfast sausages and zap them in the microwave for 1 minute.

gluten-free-orange-dreamsicle-pancakes-6 gluten-free-orange-dreamsicle-pancakes-8

These can be served with a glass of Florida Orange juice to round it all out. The recommended daily intake of Florida OJ is eight ounces for adults and four to six ounces for kids!

Did you know that one glass of Florida Orange Juice provides a total of 5 amazing nutrients in every glass? In just one glass you have Taste, Vitamin C, Folate, Potassium and No Added Sugar! Pretty darn cool!

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Enter the National OJ Day Contest TODAY!

I don’t want to just talk about National OJ Day though- how about a fun contest you could enter instead?

To celebrate National OJ Day, you can enter a sweepstakes to win 1 of 5 six-month meal delivery subscriptions! What mom couldn’t use that? To enter, share a picture of your family enjoying Florida Orange Juice on Facebook and Instagram TODAY between 8AM (EST) and 5PM (EST) and be sure to hashtag your picture with #HOWDOYOUFLOJ. If you enter via Instagram, be sure to also use the hashtag #sweepstakes. Just by submitting a picture, you are entered to win one of these six-month delivery subscriptions! For the official contest rules, you can read more here!

Gluten-Free Orange Creamsicle Pancakes (Plus FUN Contest!!)
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
These gluten-free pancakes taste just like an orange creamsicle! Be sure to read the post for freezing instructions so you can enjoy these all week long!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Florida Orange Juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 ½ cups gluten-free pancake mix (I’m using Bob’s Red Mill mix, other mixes may not require the same liquid ratio so follow the instructions on the back of your mix)
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1 (3 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 tablespoons milk
Instructions
  1. Make your cream filling by beating your heavy cream with your mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold in the vanilla pudding mix and milk. Set aside.
  2. Preheat skillet to medium-high heat.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together Florida Orange Juice, eggs, and melted butter. Add pancake mix and whisk until smooth.
  4. For each pancake, pour ¼ cup batter onto a hot skillet. Cook until the top is bubbly (approximately three minutes). Flip and cook two more minutes.
  5. Place one pancake on each plate, add a dollop of your cream filling and then finish with another pancake on top. Serve with warmed syrup.

gluten-free-orange-dreamsicle-pancakes-4 This blog was sponsored by Florida Department of Citrus. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

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