Slowcooker Pumpkin Spice Latte

slow cooker pumpkin spice latte

Living in Texas, we don’t have much of a Fall here, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying all things Autumn. Today I’m sharing one of my most favorite recipes of all time. Slowcooker Pumpkin Spice Latte. Its divine. I make it for all occasions, but it’s espcially good for entertaining. Guests can serve themselves and best of all, it’s stays hot. Did I mention the house smells delicious too?  I make it for playdates (mommies love pumpkin spice). I make it for dinner parties and Thanksgiving so coffee is always ready with dessert. Try it and you’ll love it, best of all, it’s totally fresh. No syrups!

Slowcooker Pumpkin Spice Latte

This recipe is great for everyday entertaining. It's a simple fall recipe you make ahead of time for a crowd. It combines hot coffee and milk with fresh pumpkin and fall spices. 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 15 mins
Course: Drinks
Keyword: autumn, coffee for a crowd, crockpot, drinks, entertaining, fall, latte, pumpkin, slowcooker, spice
Servings: 10

Ingredients

  • 12 Cups Coffee Hot, Strongly Brewed
  • 6 Cups Whole Milk or Half and Half
  • 3 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 1 Tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 2 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Pumpkin Puree Canned

Instructions

  • Add milk and vanilla to warm crockpot 
  • Add strongly brewed coffee ( I use a French press to control the strength)
  • Add sugar, stirring well
  • Add pumpkin puree and stir frequently until fully incorporated
  • Cover and cook on high. It reaches peak temperature within 2 hours. 
  • (Optional) Serve with whipped cream, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon stick

Notes

Notes: For a sugar-free option, Splenda does well in lieu of sugar. For late night serving, you can use decaffeinated coffee. 

Looking for other great fall recipes? Try Zuppa Toscana Soup

 

Slowcooker Pumpkin Spice Latte first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

 

30 Day Facebook Detox

30 Day Facebook Detox

(Photo Courtesy of Unsplash)

 

Recently, I parted ways with Facebook. It was time for a social media detox. I’m sure I’ll be back at some point, but I needed to take a break from it and reclaim my time. Therefore, I decided to quickly amputate myself from the negativity that seemed to fester there. You can read more about my departure and why I left in my post Living Without Likes: How I Broke Up With Facebook

If you’re not sure if you want to take the plunge, you don’t have to deactivate your profile. You can simply delete the app from your phone and other devices and log out of your account so that you will have to manually sign in. It seriously reduced temptation to check it all the time.

I’ll be very honest, the first few weeks I quit were hard. I wasn’t sure how to replace social media in my life. For that reason, I created a list of activities to help pass the boredom. Whether you want to break up permanently or just have a trial separation, here are 30 ideas you can do instead of logging onto your profile. I did one every day until I finally broke free of the addiction. I’ve included the free printable 30 Day Social Media Detox to help you offline. Good luck!

 

Take the Challenge:

Day 1: Write a letter to a friend

Day 2: Take a walk or hike

Day 3: Exercise

Day 4: Start a journal and share your thoughts there 

Day 5: Create a photobook with your photos

Day 6: Declutter your email

Day 7: Call a friend 

Day 8: Send some happy mail

Day 9: Do a craft project

Day 10: Listen to music

Day 11: Read a book

Day 12: Meditate or pray

Day 13: Make a gratitude list

Day 14: Complete a DIY project around the house

Day 15: Do a jigsaw puzzle

Day 16: Learn a new hobby or skill

Day 17: Declutter an area of your home

Day 18: Create a household budget

Day 19: Write a short story

Day 20: Create a goals list

Day 21: Declutter photos on your phone

Day 22: Try a new recipe

Day 23: Organize a closet

Day 24: Meal plan / write a grocery list

Day 25: Clean out a pantry or cupboard

Day 26: Write a thank you note

Day 27: Plant something in your garden

Day 28: Play with your pet

Day 29: Do a random act of kindness for someone

Day 30: Bake a dessert

 

 

30 Day Facebook Detox first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

 

 

Living Without Likes: How I Broke Up With Facebook

Living without likes facebook break up

 

Many of us have considered breaking up with Facebook, but it’s hard to live without likes. I fully recall the day I decided to create a Facebook profile. It was still in its public infancy. I admit I was part of a mass migration from MySpace, another social networking site that was slowly dying. I had friends abroad who had also joined and this seemed like a great way to bypass expensive phone bills and massive time differences. I was also involved in modeling and local theater and its a great way to connect with others in the industry.

Fast forward to 2018. My friend’s list had ballooned 5,000 friends and over the last year, I’ve been chipping away at removing all the people I barely know. You know the type, the person I met once at a party, the friend of a friend I haven’t seen in five years. There is the co-worker I had lunch with ten years ago and the other members of a long-ago wedding party. I fully admit, I was not selective when I added them.

Over the years, Facebook has changed dramatically. Maybe I was naive, but I thought Facebook was a way to connect with others, but that’s not what it became. Facebook has become a cesspool of negativity. I don’t think I even realized just how it had been affecting me. Here are a few things I noticed about how Facebook affects us negatively and how I solved it by breaking up with Facebook (at least temporarily).

It Dehumanizes Us

You wouldn’t think that would be the case, do you? After all, it’s supposed to connect us. But what I have found is that I speak to my friends less regularly. I don’t pick up the phone and call them. I see pictures they post and so I feel connected in the moment, but really, I’m not. I found that after 10 years on Facebook and nearly 5,000 friends (at one point), I only had a couple of friends that I actually checked up on or that bothered to check up on me. We aren’t meant to interact with people from behind a monitor. You can’t expect to build lasting relationships by yourself with a keyboard. Get out and see your friends. Quitting Facebook has caused me to be more intentional about my friendships.

It’s a Time Burglar

We all know social media can be a time waster. Sometimes that’s exactly why we use it. Scrolling your news feed is an easy way to pass time while you’re waiting in a doctor’s office or waiting for your kids to get out of school and in the car. I admit that it was the first thing I’d do after waking up. I’d grab a cup of coffee, sit down, and scroll. But there are far more productive things you can do with your time. I was shocked to discover how much time I spent on social media. I felt like I had so little time to get things done and it was true. I wasted a lot of time being unproductive on Facebook. Now I utilize that time with prayer, chores, working on my blog, and most importantly, spending time with my kids.

It Can Set the Tone for How You Feel

As I mentioned above, I looked at Facebook when I first woke up. Because of that, I noticed recently that it often set the tone for how I felt. The day I broke up with Facebook, the first few posts I saw were deflating. The first link was about a five-year old who had been beaten and burned by his mother. The second was the beating of a black man. Five posts were about the Kavanagh hearing and seven others were political themed rants (from both sides of the aisle). Two posts were venting over some negative issue in someone’s life and two posts were about a friend or family member that died. The first twenty posts or so were all negative. It completely obliterated my happy mood.

Maybe you think I’m overly sensitive. How many times have you seen a post and been offended by it? We should be slow to offend and I certainly am not suggesting that we bury our head in the sand and ignore bad things. But what we view, what we read, what we put in our minds affects us and we should be both vigilant and selective with what we surround ourselves. Negativity is infectious and toxic.

It Affects Our Empathy and Sensitivity

The one thing I hate most about Facebook is that it has become a political platform. I’m as opinionated as the next person, but I hate that nearly half the posts in my news feed are politically charged. It is very easy to argue with someone when you don’t have to face them. People get down right nasty to each other. They say things to each other on Facebook they would probably never say to each other face to face. I admit, I am guilty of this – and I don’t like it. It’s disappointing, but I became a cocky, self-righteous, little jerk on Facebook when I disagreed with something. I actually lost friendships over it. There is a time and place to have those kinds of discussions, but I’ve become convinced Facebook isn’t the place for it.

You Can Become Addicted to Virtual Validation

Honestly, this is a tough one. It’s tough because I never realized that this actually affected me until I left Facebook. My first week or two away, I had the constant urge to post when I did something fun or something awesome happened to me. You see, as much as I hate to admit it, I am addicted to validation from friends online. The acceptance of others made me feel good about myself. I cringe just writing that. I didn’t know it, but Facebook became an emotional crutch for my insecurities. Leaving Facebook, has caused me to explore the root of insecurities and deal with them in a healthy way. The problem with using virtual likes for self-esteem is that it is never enough. You’ll need constant validation and not receiving it throws you into a depression. Likes don’t define your value. Learn to live without likes.

It Creates Unrealistic Expectations

Some people use Facebook like a diary, vomiting every emotional thought they have and while that is exhausting, there is something more dangerous. There are some people, myself included, who use Facebook to post only the good and exciting things that happen. I did it intentionally, not because I was hiding anything, but because I wanted my page to stay positive. But there is a problem there too. Comparison. I’m not an envious person, but I surprised myself when a good friend of mine built a dream house. I have a nice house and yet seeing his, left me feeling…well…dissatisfied.

Whether we care to admit it, we compare ourselves to other people. Seeing other people’s vacations, homes, new cars… all those status symbols can cause you to feel cheated and dissatisfied. Life feels unfair because you don’t have as much fun or have nice things. It might make you feel like a bad mother because you don’t buy organic produce, cook from scratch, do crafts with your kids or breastfeed. Maybe it makes you feel like your marriage is lackluster or that your spouse isn’t attentive enough. Comparison causes us to have unrealistic expectations about how our life should be. It kills gratitude and robs you of joy. Facebook is often a highlight reel, carefully editing out problems, failures and setbacks. Don’t believe it. It isn’t real.

It Stops Us From Being Present

When I was younger, I left home with nothing more than a suitcase and lived abroad in Europe. It was the best experience. This is back in the 90s before cell phones! In my youthful ignorance, I never even thought to bring a camera. That’s right. I backpacked all throughout Europe without ever taking a single picture – and I survived! I have amazing memories and stories from my years abroad all perfectly captured in my mind.

Fast forward to 2018, where I can barely eat a meal without taking picture. I went back to Italy for my honeymoon in 2013 and I spent nearly the entire trip behind a lens. I seriously regret that. Being present is way more fun. Taking in every detail with your eyes and mind is so much better. I was happier before we experienced it behind a cell phone camera lens. Enjoy the moment. You miss things otherwise.

What I Learned

It’s been a while since I broke up with Facebook. I didn’t deactivate my account. Instead, I deleted it from my devices and I logged out so it requires effort check it. I learned I can survive without friends knowing what I’m doing every day. I now fill the hours with much more fun and productive things. I don’t need likes to feel worthy and secure. I have everything I need and I’m grateful for what I have. If you’re looking to take a break from social media either temporarily or permanently, take a look at my 30 Day Social Media Detox Challenge coming this Saturday!

 

Living Without Likes: How I Broke Up With Facebook first appeared on www.mybeautifulmess.net

 

5 Steps To Decluttering Books

I’m a recovering book addict. I love to read. But even more to the point, I love books. I love digging into them beside a fire and if it’s cold or raining outside, all the better. I love decorating with them around the house. My husband is also an avid reader, so when we first got married and combined our book collections, tough choices had to be made. As our family has grown, so has our book collection. The addition of children’s books has transformed our house into what looks like our own personal library branch. But I also love cleanliness and order. I love bright open spaces and organization.

I have to be honest. Downsizing books is one of the hardest things I declutter. I have a difficult time parting with them. But here are some questions I ask myself to make the process easier. Maybe they’ll help you too.

1) Is it functional?

I’m all for a good, broken-in book. Like a comfy shoe, some worn pages are the sign of a well-loved book. That’s not what I mean. Some books are more than just well loved. Little hands rip books. Too many bubble bath reading sessions cause wrinkled pages. Worn spines don’t always hold pages together. It seems pretty basic, but I have found myself holding onto books I couldn’t even read. Be real with yourself as to whether or not you can actually read it.

2) Do I have space for it?

The space on your book shelf is prime real estate. If you like to read, new books will always be entering your house, which means, you’ll need to seriously consider which books will be allowed on the shelf. I know what you’re thinking! No, the answer is not to buy more shelves. The answer is to be selective, carefully editing what you allow in your home. In a pinch, you can consider alternative uses, such as staging a coffee table or beside table.

3) Did I enjoy it?

Be honest with yourself. Good books are hard to put down. If you never finished the book, consider that maybe you didn’t enjoy it as much as you would have liked. It doesn’t matter how much your friend loved it or how great the review was. If you struggled to read it or never went back to it, it wasn’t your favorite. Keeping it out of guilt or in the hopes that you might pick it back up, isn’t realistic. If you didn’t read it when it was new to you and you were both interested and motivated, you probably won’t do it later.

4) Do I have it digitally or in some other format?

Maybe this doesn’t apply to you. Maybe you aren’t like me, but I have actually found duplicates. For some reason, my son had three copies of Little Blue Truck likely because of gift-giving. I had a copy of one of Max Lucado’s books in both audiobook and print. It happens. If you have it somewhere else or in another format, choose one and remove the other. Also consider if it’s something you might not read again – or read very often – you may just want to get it from a library instead of wasting space with it.

5) Is it timeless?

There are many books that stand the test of time. They are classics and always will be. I reckon even in another hundred years, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice will still be a classic and for that reason, I’ll never part with it. It will always be a favorite of mine. If you have something you read again and again, keep it. If it’s a non-fiction book, ask yourself if it offers information that will still be relevant in a few years. It took a long time for my parents to come to terms with the fact that their World Book Encyclopedias, even though they cost $1,500 when they bought it, are no longer relevant. It’s no one’s fault. Times change. Don’t be afraid to part with that $200 textbook that is no longer accurate.

No one likes decluttering, but it’s especially hard when it comes to a treasure trove of books. Hopefully, this will help you, but I’d love to hear what you do!

The Best Fall Bucket List: 50 Fun Ways to Celebrate Autumn

My husband and I started a tradition when we got married. We have a Christmas advent calendar. For 25 days, we celebrate Christmas by doing something Christmas or winter related every day. I can honestly say, it absolutely gets us out of our rut and into the spirit. It’s a great way to spend quality time together and to make memories.

So this year, I decided to do the same thing with fall. It’s been so much fun and the kids love it too. Here are 50 ideas that you can do to get that into the Autumn mood.

I’m giving away a free printable to help you plan your fun-filled Autumn Calendar. You’ll need to make sure you have Adobe Acrobat or other pdf viewing software to view and print it.

Download it here:

The Best Fall Bucket List

  1. Take a Nature Hike
  2. Make a Fall Wreath
  3. Decorate Pumpkins
  4. Watch a football game
  5. Drink Spiced Pumpkin Latte (my recipe here)
  6. Go Black Friday shopping
  7. Visit a Haunted House
  8. Make a Costume
  9. Make & Drink Hot Apple Cider
  10. Decorate Your Porch for Fall
  11. Go Camping
  12. Stargaze in Your Backyard
  13. Plant Fall Flowers
  14. Bake Pumpkin Bread
  15. Watch a Scary Movie
  16. Go Apple Picking
  17. Visit a Pumpkin Patch
  18. Build a Bon Fire
  19. Read a Scary Story
  20. Try a New Fall Recipe
  21. Explore a Corn Maze
  22. Roast Pumpkin Seeds
  23. Light a Fall Candle
  24. Look at the Fall Foliage
  25. Plant Fall Vegetables
  26. Go On a Hayride
  27. Start a Gratitude List
  28. Make a Fall Floral Arrangement
  29. Decorate Your Mantle for Fall
  30. Visit a Farmers Market
  31. Roast Marshmallows in the Fire
  32. Read by the Fireplace
  33. Play Touch Football
  34. Make Carmel Apples
  35. Bake Fall Themed Sugar Cookies
  36. Plan a Fall Family Photo Shoot
  37. Bake a Pumpkin Pie
  38. Play In the Leaves
  39. Attend a Fall Festival
  40. Make S’mores
  41. Attend a Halloween Party
  42. Go Trick or Treating
  43. Have Fun Apple Bobbing
  44. Bake an Apple Pie
  45. Visit a cemetery
  46. Learn the Thriller Dance
  47. Listen to Halloween Themed Music (playlist here)
  48. Build a Scarecrow
  49. Make Caramel Corn
  50. Try a New Fall Craft

The Ultimate Halloween Party Playlist

I love Halloween. The costumes, the candy, the fun food made to look like insects and bones. Seriously, how fun is that? I love Halloween and not because I get to live out my Walking Dead fantasy (yes, I love zombies with a passion). I throw a Halloween party as often as I possibly can. For years I struggled trying to find Halloween themed music, but after much trial and error, I think I’ve found a good mix! These days, it’s easy to find playlists on applications like Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora, but if you’re looking to DIY it, here you go! I’m sure this will help get creepy party vibes!

  • Thriller, Michael Jackson
  • Ghostbusters, Ray Parker Jr.
  • Witchy Woman, The Eagles
  • Bad Moon Rising, CCR
  • Psycho Killer, Talking Heads
  • Sympathy For the Devil, Guns & Roses
  • Special Death, Mirah
  • I Put A Spell On You, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
  • Devil Inside, INXS
  • Love Potion Number 9, The Searchers
  • Spooky, Classics IV
  • The Addams Family Theme, Vic Mizzy
  • Werewolves in London, Warren Zevon
  • Twisted Nerve, The City of Prague Philharmonic
  • Devil Went Down to Georgia, Charlie Daniels
  • Black Magic Woman, Santana
  • Nightmare, Artie Shaw
  • Superstition, Stevie Wonder
  • Ghost Town, The Specials
  • Time Warp, Little Nell, Patricia Quinn, Richard O’Brien (from Rocky Horror Picture Show)
  • Monster Mash, Bobby “Boris” Pickett & the Crypt Kickers
  • Season of the Witch, Donovan
  • Weird Science, Oingo Boingo
  • Freakshow, Britney Spears
  • Somebody’s Watching Me, Rockwell
  • The Boogey Monster, Gnarls Barkley
  • The Imperial March, John Williams (from Star Wars)
  • In the Midnight Hour, Wilson Pickett
  • Super Freak, Rick James
  • Out of Limits, The Marketts
  • American Horror Story Theme, Cesar Davila-Irizarry & Charlie Clouser
  • Witch Doctor, David Seville
  • Beetlejuice Theme, Danny Elfman
  • Evil Ways, Santana
  • Jump In the Line, Harry Belafonte
  • Little Red Riding Hood, Sam “The Sham” & The Pharaohs
  • Hedwigs Theme, John Williams (from Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets)
  • Jaws Theme, John Williams
  • Frankenstein, The Edgar Winter Group

White Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 Egg, large
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • ¾ Cup White Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • ¾ Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 5 Tbsp Butter, softened
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1 Cup Fresh or Frozen Raspberries
  • Instructions:
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
      In a stand mixer, add egg and beat it slightly. Add vanilla extract, softened butter and sugar and cream on low until combined.
      Slowly add milk until fully combined.
      Slowly add flour and baking powder a little bit at a time. Mix only enough to combine ingredients.
      Take the bowl off the mixer. Add raspberries and white chocolate chips. Fold into the batter.
      Spoon mixture into either a greased muffin tin or paper liners in tin.
      Bake for 18-20 mins until fully risen and tops are golden brown.
      Insert a toothpick to check for doneness. It should be completely clean when removed from the muffin.
  • The secret to soft, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth quick breads is not to over mix flour. Overmixing flour makes it tough and dry.

  • From One Clubfoot Mommy to Another

    It was week 20. It’s a big milestone for any mama. You are halfway through your pregnancy and you get the first big look at that little, but growing human inside. All of my pregnancies had been marled by complications. Two ended in miscarriage. I had GD with both pregnancies. My placenta had failed with my first son, something they noticed at our 20 week anatomy scan when my amniotic fluid was fairly low. So anatomy scans are both happy and slightly terrifying for me.

    So when I laid there for my second son’s anatomy scan, I tried to calm myself with positive vibes. The sonogram tech did her thing, then handed it over to the doctor. She slid the ultrasound transducer across my glistening belly. Everything seemed fine, until she got to my son’s legs. She went back and forth, pressing harder each time, staring intently at the screen. My heart sank as I sensed something was wrong. “So, baby’s foot looks like it might have a club foot.” Fear swept over me as she continued to examine his little twisted foot. “It’s hard to tell because it’s up against the placenta. So is it like that because of the position or is it a club foot? Let’s see…” She measured both little feet. “So I’m going to say that he has a clubfoot because of the width, but we’re going to keep an eye on it.”

    In an instant, our happy moment vanished. The doctor went on to explain that a club foot was a congenital defect that deforms the foot into a club-like appearance and causes patients to walk on their ankles. She didn’t have to tell me. I had seen it. When I lived in Europe, I saw it frequently. Their socialized medicine leaves so many untreated. Go the Vatican and you’ll seen tons of them, lined up along the streets begging. Let’s be honest, it’s a pitiful sight – at least in this day and age when you know the treatment is available. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. So when I left the doctor’s office, that’s about all I could think about. Those poor people I had seen years before.

    My OBGYN didn’t give me a ton of information. As far as pregnancy is concerned, it’s business as usual. They said I would be directed to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon after delivery. So here begins our journey. This is where I tell you that I’m not a doctor or medical professional and I’m not giving any medical advice. I’m just sharing the emotional journey we went through because I had no idea what to expect and didn’t know where to find support.

    At week 37, I developed preeclampsia and had an emergency c-section. My blood pressure was over 200 and so they had me on Magnesium Sulfate for 24 hours after delivery. My poor little guy was just barely 4 pounds. He had stopped growing due to my placenta failing. He was rushed to NICU minutes after delivery and let me tell you that Magnesium Sulfate (or Mag as the nurses call it) is just terrible. It gives you double vision, nausea, a screaming headache and disorients you. So it nearly 48 hours before I was wheeled down to the NICU to see him. Now let me be honest, when I found out my little boy was going to have a clubfoot, I went home and googled it. I scrolled through image after image of misshapen feet, slightly horrified and totally discouraged, despite reading that it was totally curable in a first-world country. But not even all that research prepared me for what I saw. That’s because when it’s your baby – the baby you hoped and prayed for – the baby you want desperately to protect – is born with a deformity, your heart sinks. I cried. Like body shaking, sobbing into my hands, can’t catch my breath, ugly kind of cry. Nurses comforted me. They tried to remind me that it would be okay and that the Ortho nurse Daphne would be up shortly to talk to me.

    This is where I knew God was working. My ears perked. You see, Daphne is a special name to us. My husband had an great-aunt Daphne who never had children. She poured out all her affection on my husband and his other siblings and cousins, earning a special place in their hearts. So when we lost our second baby due to miscarriage, we decided to name her after our two aunts who loved us deeply, but could never have children of their own. Daphne Guadalupe is the name of one of the babies I lost and here – as if it were God’s own design, a Daphne was here to help my little boy. Chills.

    When she arrived, she explained she’d be taping Tristan’s leg and foot. The sooner you start training the foot to the correct position, the better success at a complete healing. So while he was in NICU, he’d under go this treatment. Everyday they’d undo it and perform a series of stretching and physical therapy. Then they’d retape his foot, carefully monitoring his skin color for circulation problems. This went on for nearly two weeks. It was still very turned, but already you could see he was responding to it.

    Eventually we left the NICU and visited our new Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon. Thankfully we were paired with someone with a beautiful bedside manner. As my husband and I sat there nervously, he began to give us a brief history of clubfoot. For centuries it was a deformity that was left untreated. Then there was a French Method which involved the taping we had done in NICU as well as a surgery that honestly, sounded horrifying. It was a very invasive reconstructive surgery that as he described it “was basically taking the foot apart and putting it back together with pins” and then casting. It sounded awful, but he suggested we start with another, less invasive method and save the French method for a last resort.

    He suggested the Ponseti method which had proven very effective. The only catch was that it would require a strong commitment on our part. Our son would go through serial casting. It’s a plaster cast, like when you break a bone except that it would be changed out weekly to allow for growth and to check progress. Then he’d go through a small surgery where they cut the achilles tendon, then another cast for several weeks. Then finally special orthopedic shoes attached to a Ponseti bar that would keep his feet in the proper position. Then he hit me with a 2×4. He’ll have to stay in the boots and bar until he’s four.

    He tried to comfort me by saying that he’d only be in them for naps and nighttime at that age, but immediately I thought about how I had fought my toddler to nap and how hard that had been. It ended with me giving up on naps. I couldn’t imagine fighting a toddler to wear a contraception to sleep. I left both hopeful and horrified, with our son’s leg in a plaster cast all the way up to the top of the thigh.

    There are so many things that you don’t think about until you’re faced with it. What kind of clothes will go over a cast? How will I bathe him? I was surprised to learn that he could wear most regular clothes with the cast and I found that Glad Press & Seal was a life saver when it came to keeping the cast dry during baths. One day Tristan had a terrible bout of gas. That’s when I learned he couldn’t kick his little legs when he had gas pains. He became even more inconsolable. It broke my heart. By the way, blowouts still happen to babies in a cast and let me tell you, it isn’t fun trying to get the poop off a plaster cast.

    Then there are stares. Most people never asked about his leg, but it was hard not to notice them stare… or do the exact opposite. Some people would look only at his face, purposely avoiding anything below the neck. Don’t let this bother you. Most people are good people and they have no idea what they should do, so even if they are awkward and obvious, don’t let that get to you. It’s their best effort at protecting your feelings. I even had a friend buy him shoes. It was hard not to be sensitive about it. There are going to be all kinds of opportunities to be offended, but I strongly caution you against giving into that. Believe that people have good intentions and you’ll be much happier.

    Every week we went to the doctor and every week we had a new cast. If you’ve never broken a bone before and worn a cast, it can be a little unnerving when they remove it. They use a special saw that has a blunt blade. The blade moves back and forth and its the vibration that cuts. The result is that it cuts through the cast but not the skin. It’s loud and still looks like a blade, so it’s a little unnerving regardless when its cutting around your infant. It’s perfectly safe, I assure you. Our doctor was very thoughtful. At his suggestion, we planned appointments around his bottle time, so he was feeding during the cast removal and new cast application and therefore didn’t shed a tear. He was too busy chowing down!

    Several weeks in, they removed the weekly cast and the doctor felt confident it was time for the surgery. I admit, I was very scared, but I’m going to tell you, it’s not bad at all. They sent us out of the room and one local anesthetic and 20 minutes later, they were done. He had a new cast on already and you could see it was already bloody, something they informed me, was totally normal. Unlike the other casts, he would stay in this one for three weeks. He was a little fussy that day, but he seemed back to his normal happy self by the next day.

    When I went back three weeks later and they removed the cast, I was shocked. His foot looked amazing. I couldn’t even tell there had been an incision. Our doctor said they used a delicate scalpel designed for eye surgery. It was perfect for little babies. It was time to move on to boots and bars.

    So much of the success would be up to us. If we resisted the urge to take off the brace and follow instructions exactly, he’d be okay. We went to the orthopedist who fitted him. Tristan was so tiny that he’d be in the smallest shoe and he showed me how to properly put it on. The heel needs to be all the way down, the foot flat and held sturdily in place with the use of buckles and straps. This was crucial. Isolating the foot in that position is what will heal it. Fail and you risk reoccurrence. As they instructed me, I held back tears. All I saw was the heavy, clunky metal, straps and buckles. They showed me how I could easily remove the bar for diaper changes with a quick disconnect. It looked like a medieval torture device. They assured me, I’d get used to it and so would he. I wept all the way home.

    The next few days were hard as we learned how to lace them and strap them. Explaining it to grandmothers is not fun. You can hear the hurt in their voices and you find yourself reassuring them that it will be okay. I quickly learned that pants would be difficult and I wasn’t going to be able to use all those cute footed sleepers that had been so handy with my first son. They find ways to untie the shoes and even kick them off when they are big enough. The metal bar scrapes things and I had to make a cover to protect him, us and our possessions from being damaged or hurt! (Ponseti bar cover tutorial coming) But this is where the sob story ends.

    This is where I tell you that we are now six months into this journey and it’s amazing. The boots and bars have not held my son back. He’s found ways to roll over, to sit up, and to play. He is not bothered by it all. It’s completely normal for him and in some cases, even has a physical advantage because of it. This is where I tell you that his foot looks amazing! When he takes the shoes off, you’d never even know there was a problem. His foot looks totally normal. This is where I tell you that we don’t even think twice about it in our routine. There are plenty of other cute outfits out there and that he doesn’t even have to wear the boots and bars a good part of the day. This is where I tell you not to worry. Your baby will be fine and so will you. Parenting is hard even if your baby is well and somehow, by the grace of God, you’ll get through this and there will be far more joy than tears. Don’t waste tears over this. From one clubfoot mom to another, it’s going to be okay and it’s far harder on you than it is on them. Have your cry, but don’t stay there. Embrace it. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps (no pun intended) and show your child how to tackle life challenges.

    I remember when we first met with the doctor and he told us about famous people who were born with clubfoot. Damon Wayans, Troy Aikman, Larry Sherry, Sir Walter Scott, Kristi Yamaguchi, Charles Woodson, David Lynch, Dudley Moore, Jim Mecir, Freddy Sanchez, LeRoy Butler, and even Mia Hamm just to name a few. I was shocked to learn how many of them went on to become professional athletes. It was hard to believe, but I totally get it now. Tristan has the best little attitude. His nickname from everyone is “smiley.” I can’t wait to see what he does with his little life. Something tells me it’s gonna be amazing and this was just a little road bump in an otherwise great life!

    Resetting Your Day as a Mom

    It had been 9 days. Nine days of snotty notes, phlegm filled coughs and clingy, whiny children. Worse still, I was sick and it was my fifth day battling this awful bug. All moms know there is no such thing as a sick day. Moms are expected to just chug some medicine and get right back to nursing others and extending comfort like any good nurse does. In the midst of all the coughing and sneezing, I had also managed to throw a birthday party for my husband.

    By the time Monday rolled around, I was utterly exhausted and we were still sick. We hadn’t been out of the house in 9 days and let me tell you that cabin fever is a real thing. We were all sick of being sick and boy was it starting to affect my attitude.

    From the moment my feet hit the floor, my toddler was under my feet following me around like a dog waiting for scraps to fall to the floor. I felt myself get irritated that I couldn’t even walk without feeling like I was going to trip over him. Normally pretty self-sufficient, he couldn’t suddenly couldn’t do anything for himself. His mood crescendoed with a full on melt down when it was time for me to feed little brother.

    Then there was my infant who had already spent the better part of 5 days refusing to be put down and crying at every opportunity. The whining was so bad I felt like I could hear it even when he had stopped. Consistent baby cries are enough to make anyone feel like they’re going mad. I began to feel my blood boil. I just wanted to rest. The mess of the party was still looking at me and I had two babies that were requiring every ounce of energy I had. I literally wanted to walk out the door and run for the hills. And ugh, did my kids know it! I was downright grouchy. My words whipped around the room like a scorpion’s tail. It’s one of those moments you pray no one ever sees. It reminded me of something someone said to me once.

    “If your pastor were to ring your doorbell right now, would your attitude change?”

    Ugh! Of course it would. I don’t even think it would have to be my pastor. But the answer tells you that you are totally capable of changing your attitude. You are in total control of how you behave. If you could straiten up your attitude in a moment’s notice it tells you that this crabby, ornery mood is totally on you! That’s right – it’s up to you. Believe me when I say, I fail at this more than I care to admit. It is moments like this that douse me with buckets of mom guilt afterwards.

    Have you ever noticed that whenever you are in a bad mood, you’re kids also seem to have the roughest, most emotionally charged day? That’s because you set the tone in your house. It’s true. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but girlfriend, it’s true. Your kids look to you to see how they should behave and they emulate what they see. If you are resistant and angry, they pick up on it. Worse, they mirror it.

    The good news is that you can reset your attitude. It takes some determination, but more than anything it takes your will. You have to decide to change your attitude. Here are some things that have helped me in the past.

    Take a Time Out

    Stop. Just stop right in the middle of that fire-breathing sentence and pull yourself together. Listen to what you just said and how awful it sounded. Walk away from your kids for a second if you have to, but take a moment from spitting venom and cool down. It’s not easy to admit, but the truth is, toddlers aren’t the only ones who have meltdowns! If you need to, phone a friend. Sometimes distraction or talking with a supportive person is enough to change our attitude.

    Breathe

    Go strait up zen and breathe in and out meditation style. Listen to your breath. Let your heart rate fall. If you need to, talk to yourself. Pray. Mediate. It’s up to you. Because I’m a Christian, I often call out the enemy and rebuke him out loud. I recognize that I’m in a battle with an enemy who wants to steal my joy (John 10:10) and devour me (1 Peter 5:8). Compose yourself and decide not to act like that.

    Gain Perspective

    If there is one thing that I learned with my psychology degree, it’s that hurting people hurt other people. When we are hurting or depleted inside, it rears it’s ugly head in the form of lashing out. Normally there are rational explanations for our mood. Maybe we are running on a few hours of sleep. Maybe our kids aren’t feeling well. Maybe we’re just all a little tired of being cooped up in the house. It sometimes helps to get to the bottom of why we’re so moody. And if it’s your kids’ behavior that set you off, consider they are hurting or frustrated about something too. This is the place where reason and compassion meet. Gain some perspective and remember you control what happens next. You have a great life and you have so many things for which to be happy and grateful.

    “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”- Maya Angelou

    Be Flexible

    If you’re anything like me, you had grand plans for your day that suddenly feel like they have been hijacked. You must realize that that is a symptom of needing to be in control. Your plans. Your way. Things don’t always go the way we planned and we must accept that. Be willing to let housework go for a day. It’s never ending anyway. I promise you, there would be housework tomorrow even if you worked today. No load of laundry is as important as loving your child.

    Reprioritize and remove unnecessary commitments. So many times our moodiness comes from a place of being overwhelmed and frustrated. Take a good hard look at what you have on your plate. Remove unnecessary things that are weighing you down and reorder what you do have, spreading them out into manageable chunks. Delegate tasks to your husband. Most people don’t help, because they don’t know they’re needed.

    That brings us to the next crucial thing. Ask for help. That friend, parent, in-law, sibling or neighbor who always says, “let me know if you need something,” is the one you need to call. People don’t go around offering help if they don’t mean it. If they offer, it’s because they truly don’t mind. Swallow your pride and ask for help. No one is going to think any less of you. If you are truly struggling you need to call on the people that love you for help. Sometimes just having some support changes everything.

    Extend Grace

    This is the hard part. Letting it go. Once emotions are settled and the moment has passed, we are quick to feel guilt and condemn ourselves. Identifying regrets is a healthy way to stop ourselves from making the same mistake, but it can become unhealthy if we wallow in self-pity and condemn ourselves. That’s because over time, we believe what we say about ourselves. If you constantly tell yourself you’re a failure and a bad mother, you’ll start to believe it. Don’t give into that. Part of self-care and self-love is forgiving yourself. Allow yourself to be human, including making mistakes. This life is about progress, not perfection. Hold yourself accountable. Apologize if necessary. Commit to change. Move forward.

    It is awful that are children see us at some of our worst moments. But even in our adult-sized tantrum we can show our children how to regain self-control. Don’t be hard on yourself, mama. You got this!

    She Does Him Good

    “She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs, 31:12

    There are certainly many ways to bless your husband, but the best way certainly has to be praying for him. To make sure I do this for my husband daily, I put an alarm in my phone that goes off just minutes after he leaves in the morning. In the stillness of the morning, before my day gets too frantic, I pray for him. This is where us wives must be careful not to complain about him to God, but rather to pray for him. If you’ve never prayed for your husband, I challenge you to commit to it for 31 days and see how it not only changes you but your spouse. Here are a few ideas, based on my own prayers.

    1.Pray that he desires to go to church.

    2. Pray that he is blessed with wisdom and discernment.

    3. Pray that he finds friends who are Christ-centered and will hold him accountable.

    4. Pray that he finds favor at work.

    5. Pray he will find the Lord’s help when he is sexually tempted.

    6. Pray he will love truth and hate lies.

    7. Pray he is a wise financial steward.

    8. Pray he will find joy in family life.

    9. Pray he will forgive easily and quickly, extending grace to those who may not deserve it.

    10. Pray he will confess any sins that are hidden.

    11. Pray he find freedom from any strongholds.

    12. Pray he assumes the role of wise leader in your family.

    13. Pray he uses his gifts and abilities to magnify the Lord.

    14. Pray that he cultivates deep relationships with his children.

    15. Pray he will desire to read scripture.

    16. Pray he will use scripture to make decisions.

    17. Pray he operates with equal truth and grace.

    18. Pray he love Jesus above all things.

    19. Pray he will never despair.

    20. Pray he will desire to protect your marriage from anything that might destroy it.

    21. Pray he have a heart of gratitude.

    21. Pray he rejects Satan and all his empty promises.

    22. Pray any feelings of envy or jealousy leave his heart.

    23. Pray he tempers his words carefully.

    24. Pray he will ask for help when he needs it.

    25. Pray he will discern when to listen and when to speak.

    26. Pray he protects his five senses from things that are not holy.

    27. Pray God strips away selfishness from his actions and heart.

    28. Pray his ego decreases and humility increases.

    29. Pray for the blessing of self-control and self-discipline.

    30. Pray he submits to God’s will.

    31. Pray he become God’s perfect design.