Rhett Update

This post has been a long time coming. Every night before I go to bed, I think about putting my pen to paper, or let’s be honest, my fingers to the keyboard, to type this out. I think about where we’ve been and where we are now. And honestly, I’m blown away. There were times where I thought we may never hear Rhett say more than one word. There are times I thought he may never comprehend what we’re saying to him. There are plenty of times I silently cried myself to sleep reminiscing on what I thought life would look like for Rhett vs. the reality of what it was. I’ll be honest, that is the hardest part for me. Sometimes I still get caught up in that. What will the future look like for him? What will school look like for him? But I’m trying to let go of that. Let’s just start at where we are now.

Rhett visits a developmental pediatrician next week. I’m not a specialist of anything in any way, shape, or form; but I am prepared for an Autism diagnosis. Sometimes it’s hard for me to see the improvements because I see his differences from the other children in his class and just the difference between where he currently is and where his siblings were at this age. When he is really excited, he flaps his arms, he doesn’t have the greatest eye contact, he can’t jump yet, he still often prefers to play alone, he doesn’t understand sitting still for two seconds to take a picture, he often runs off (especially at Mason’s baseball games this year) unaware of safety, he sometimes bites friends when they are invading his space, he doesn’t speak in sentences, he can’t always tell me what he wants or what he needs. But within all of that he’s grown leaps and bounds. I don’t just mean physically (but, yes, he’s gotten huge!), but emotionally, academically, and socially. He’s putting together two words, occasionally three. He’s starting to understand emotions, when friends are upset, etc. He’s playing with friends! Not just next to or around, really playing with them. It doesn’t last forever, sometimes just a few minutes, but it’s something. He’s going pee on the potty! I used to ask him and he’s bluntly said “no” every single time. But now he’s sitting on the potty and making himself pee almost every time. We’re still working on this really hard, but he’s impressing us. He has adjusted beautifully to moving into our new home. The change has actually been a breeze on him.

There are still days that are hard for me. Days where I compare him to typically developing children and blame myself for the delays. What did I do? That crosses my mind a lot and probably will continue to do so. But God I love that little man so much. He’s always happy, always loving, always smiling. I’d do anything for him. I’m so glad God surprised us with him. He is literally everything I needed.

xoxo, Allyson

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Ramen Salad

This is hands down my favorite “salad” to take to summertime gatherings. It’s fresh, it’s easy, and guys it’s BOMB! I stumbled across a similar recipe on Pinterest and wanted to create something of my own. The traditional ramen salad has mandarin oranges, green onions, almonds, and cabbage slaw. I tweaked it by adding mango, instead of the mandarin oranges (since they don’t keep their shape when stirred). I also added avocado, just because it’s one of my favorite fruits (it’s so weird to call it a fruit). The rest I followed pretty accurately.  I was so impressed with the way it turned out that I made it 3 weekends in a row the year I first made it. I think it’s a great one to add to your summertime recipe list!

Let’s hop into it!

Salad Ingredients

1 16 oz bag of coleslaw mix

2 packages of ramen (you won’t use the seasoning packets)

1 cup of shelled edamame (I use frozen)

1 avocado; diced

1 mango; diced

½ cup of sliced almonds

½ cup of sliced green onions

Dressing Ingredients

½ cup of vegetable oil

¼ cup of honey

¼ cup rice vinegar

2 teaspoons soy sauce

¼ teaspoon sesame oil

A pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Heat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Smash your uncooked ramen with a rolling pin. We’re looking for smallish pieces here.
  3. Place your ramen and sliced almonds on a cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for 5 minutes. Give the mixture a good stir & put back in the oven for 3 minutes. WATCH CAREFULLY SO IT DOESN’T BURN.
  5. Set to the side.
  6. Add all of the salad ingredients except ramen & dressing into a large bowl.
  7. In a separate bowl add all of your dressing ingredients and mix well.
  8. Pour dressing and ramen onto the salad & serve immediately.

*Note: When I’m taking this to a gathering, I do not add the dressing or ramen until right before it’s time to eat. I sometimes even cut up the avocado at our gathering as well, just so it doesn’t turn brown.

I hope you take this recipe to your next cookout & love it just as much as I do!

xoxo, Allyson

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The World’s Best Guacamole

It’s almost Memorial Day & you need to take a dip to your family cookout. Look no further, I got your back!

The truth is. I think you’re weird if you don’t like guacamole. I mean it’s an essential part of life that I take pretty seriously.

All jokes aside, if you’re a guac fan you’re going to love this recipe. It’s easy, it’s fresh, it’s delicious. I can’t take credit for this one. I searched and searched until I found one that was easy and delicious & one that didn’t contain that guacamole package (you know the one) from the store.

This recipe is actually from Natasha over at natashaskitchen.com. I’m so obsessed with watching her weekly video recipes. That’s actually how I stumbled over this one. 

I did make some changes to her recipe just to suit what I love in a guac. Of course, the variations of switching this recipe up are endless. You can add fire roasted corn, jalapeños & even bacon if you want to.

My mouth is watering, so let’s jump into this…

Ingredients

3 avocados

3 Tbs lime juice

1 roma tomato (optional, I recently stopped adding this & have been enjoying it even more)

Half of a red onion

1 bunch cilantro (optional, if you’re not a cilantro person)

½ teaspoon sea salt or table salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Cut avocados in half and remove pits. Scoop the flesh of the avocados into a bowl and mash them into a chunky consistency. (I use a pastry cutter for this. But you could use a potato masher or even a fork.)
  2. Pour the lime just over the avocados and let sit while you prep the other ingredients.
  3. Dice up half a red onion, the roma tomato and the cilantro & mix them into the avocado mixture. (I used half of the bunch of cilantro, but Natasha’s recipe calls for 1/3 cup. Use as much or as little as your heart desires.)
  4. Add salt & pepper.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for flavors to develop.

I promise this no fail guac will impress whoever you’re feeding this Memorial Day!

xoxo, Allyson

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Be Active, Not Skinny

Alright guys, I know it has been a while since I have been on here. I apologize for that. I started school back up in January 2021 and have been really going non-stop ever since between class work, clinical hours, and implementing my DNP scholarly project (the big project I have to complete before I graduate). On top of all of that, I have been trying to maintain healthy and happy relationships with my family members and friends while trying to eat healthier and work out/be more active. When they say there is not enough hours in the day, it is so incredibly true most days. There are so many things I want to do and need to do, but with everything going on, I have to prioritize.

My biggest struggle over the past couple of years, especially the past 6 months, has been my weight and relationship with food. I weigh more than I have my entire life. I am not trying to have a pity party for myself or ask people to say nice things. I am simply saying I have been struggling with my weight and how I look and feel for quite some time. Back in high school, I never had to work to be “skinny”. I was a dancer and softball player, working out for hours on end a day, sometimes not eating much for meals/snacks because I was always on the go. I remember my best friend and I in high school call our sophomore year our “fat” or “chubby” year. Why? Why did we do this? Body shaming. Media. What we thought we needed to look like was completely opposite of what was true to who we were and are to the core. I currently have an unhealthy relationship with food and am working on it daily. I binge eat when I am stressed. I eat things that do not fuel my body 24/7.

When Austin and I first met, I weighed a lot less than I do now. We moved in together, got comfortable, and dieted/ate healthier to lose weight before our wedding. I remember obsessing and worrying about being “fat” at our wedding. Now, I look back at our video and pictures, and then I think…Why? Why did I ever worry about this on our wedding day? Mind you, Austin has NEVER made me feel less than beautiful and perfect. He has always complimented me and shown me so much love and affection no matter what I weigh or how I look. Why have I become so obsessed with my weight that I am allowing it to enter in my life more than it should in a NEGATIVE way?

I am currently doing a workout program that is 100 days of workouts. As of today, I am on day 34. Guess what? My weight is pretty much the same as when I started the program. How do I feel? Different. I feel stronger. I feel empowered. I feel like a bad ass. I feel beautiful. I feel hope. While I have a long way to go in my weight loss and healthy living journey, I am so proud to know how I feel right now in this moment and how I am beginning to look at this journey. My life is NOT all about how much I weigh or how I look. My life is about feeling GOOD, feeling HEALTHY, being ACTIVE, and LIVING. I have a family history of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and much more, so I am going to continue on my healthy living journey and remember it is more important to be active and continually work on a healthy diet and exercise than it is to “be skinny”.

Xoxo, Kaitlyn

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Clayton is 5!

Today my baby boy is 5 and I am having all the feels!

A little background story about our journey so far…

I went in for my routine 38-week OB appointment on Monday, April 25, 2016. My doctor told me I wasn’t progressing and that we would talk about inducing at 41.5 weeks (which I was totally fine with). To be honest, I wasn’t ready at all. Not one bit. I felt very content with my baby being in my belly. I knew he was taken care of and happy in there, and I was terrified to take care of a newborn on the outside.

Flash forward to 11pm on Tuesday, April 26. My water broke at home. I remembered my doctor telling me that if my water broke, I had to go straight to the hospital. So, Graham and I got our bags and went to the hospital. Honestly, I thought we would come right back home. I mean, my doctor JUST told me that I wasn’t progressing. I wasn’t really in a lot of pain. I had Braxton hicks contractions, but nothing that felt severe. Long story short, I got to the hospital and they told me I was staying and having our baby boy! I’ve never been so scared in my life. I was supposed to have a May baby. It was only April 26th! We didn’t have a name picked out (I worried a lot about what everyone would think about his name), my family wasn’t there, Graham was exhausted and had an important meeting with his boss in the morning… I was just not ready. But Clayton was. At 10:55am on Wednesday, April 27th our sweet (red head at the time) baby boy was born, and my world has been different ever since.

(A little background on his name… Allyson suggested Clayton to me and Graham’s brother Jordan suggested Clayton to him. It kind of just felt meant to be & I thought other people would like it. Did I mention that I REALLY cared what other people thought of his name?! Clayton’s middle name, Joseph is a pretty special name to us. Joseph is my grandpa’s name and Graham’s brother’s name. At the time Joe (Graham’s brother) was in remission from cancer. However, it came back a couple of weeks after Clayton was born. Clayton got to meet Joe once before he passed away in October of 2016. People always say that Clayton looks and acts just like his uncle Joe. Graham and I think it’s a sign. He was meant to have the middle name Joseph. And now our Clayton has the best guardian angel out there)

I have a really hard time sharing this because it’s kind of like being naked in front of all of you. It is something I have been ashamed of for a long time. Something I am so embarrassed about. When they handed me my tiny 7lbs. 1oz baby boy, I felt nothing. I remember thinking, all of that nasty white stuff that was all over his body when he was born (I’m sure there is a medical name for that stuff) was getting in my wedding ring. Something was just off for me. I wasn’t feeling the way you’re supposed to feel when you hold your baby for the first time. I wasn’t overjoyed or crying… I felt…. nothing.

Before being discharged from the hospital I became really sad. Just constantly crying for no reason. I really tried to keep it to myself. I didn’t tell Graham or any of our nurses how I was feeling. They even brought me that little postpartum quiz thing they bring you before you are cleared to go home, and I just hoped that what I felt (or didn’t feel) would go away- so I lied on the form. I felt like I couldn’t share how I was feeling without being judged. Subconsciously I could feel other people saying… What do you mean you felt nothing when you first held your baby? You should be overjoyed because not everyone is lucky enough to experience this. I felt so guilty. We were discharged on Friday, April 29th. I cried all weekend. I was so utterly exhausted and scared to me a mom. I was terrified something was going to happen to Clay or I was going to do something wrong.  At one point Graham took Clayton from me and told me to go take a nap (he was also beyond exhausted) but all I did during that time was lay in bed and cry. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat…. Basically, I could barely function. Graham was starting to get really worried, so on Monday morning he called my doctor. He got me an appointment for that afternoon. We went into the appointment and I bawled… hysterically. I tried to tell her all of my fears and feelings, but I was crying so hard I was hyperventilating. I don’t think she could understand a word I was saying. She talked to me for at least 45 minutes about my life and her life, and then, of course, we talked about my options. We decided I would start taking Zoloft and (besides going off of it when I was pregnant with Collins) I have been on it ever since.

The medicine slowly helped me get back to a new normal. But, if I am honest, the biggest help was Graham going back to work. It forced me to have to do it myself. I faced my fear and proved to myself that I could do it. Clayton was safe with me. Every morning after we woke up, we would watch the Today Show, I would do dishes and laundry, and then we would go to Starbucks. After that Allyson would come over and visit while she was on her break from work. Adrienne also came over every day (she was in between jobs at that point) and we would go have lunch with my mom at a park or a restaurant near her work. Once I had a routine down, things started getting better. My mood was better. I wasn’t crying as much. I wasn’t panicking as much. I got used to being a mom. But it took time, A LOT of time, for me to feel like “I got this” or “okay, this is my new normal.” If you think about it, being a mom gives you a whole new identity. So, it makes sense that some women would struggle with the change/adjustments that come with being a new mom. And to those moms that didn’t struggle, cry, become anxious, or angry… you are so lucky! I wouldn’t wish PPD or PPA on anyone! That said, I truly believe that my postpartum depression and anxiety only made my bond with Clayton 10x stronger. I had to work really hard to bond with him, and we made it through one of the hardest times (in probably both of our lives) together.

Clayton is sweet and sensitive & the biggest momma’s boy there is! I love our bond so much (I also love my bond with Collins… this just isn’t her birthday post) and would be completely 100% lost without him! His hugs and smooches (even the gross ones) make my day. His sarcasm and jokes make everyone laugh. He is such a bright light in a world (that at times) can be so dark. I cannot believe he is 5 years old and heading to Kindergarten in August. I swear he was just our little chubby bunny (shoutout to Kensey for the nickname) yesterday!

Do you have all the feels when your kid (or someone special in your life) has a birthday?

xoxo, Audriana

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