It’s a Birthday Party!

My mom was, excuse me, is the QUEEN of birthdays. She always went above and beyond to make ours special… over the top parties, candles in pop tarts, perfect gifts, and too many hugs. She probably could’ve invented pinterest if she had any interest in technology.

Because of her, I LOVE birthdays. Sadly, the follow-through on my pinteresting and planning is seriously lacking. For Jaylin’s 2nd, puppy-themed birthday party I stressed for weeks over a wooden bone-shaped cake stand I had Micah build, and the hit of the party ended up being the easy, homemade slip-n-slide. Micah and I are probably the only ones that remember the cake stand (or that the party was puppy-themed). Enzo’s 2nd birthday I bought these huge round balloons and planned to have them strung up between the trees in our backyard for the party… All but 3 had popped before people got to the house. I could tell a story (or 10) like that for every single party we’ve had.

#goals (picture borrowed from pinterest, obviously)

#reality

Our kids have back-to-back birthdays, two in July, one in August, September and October. You can imagine what that does to my emotions. I want to have everybody a huge, perfect party of their dreams, but it just doesn’t happen. This year I totally flaked. We had at-home or with-family parties for everybody… until it was Zander’s turn. This kid may be the one to make dethroning Gigi a reality. He loves birthdays and parties and everything that comes with them! So… we almost survived Stewart family birthday season without any big stress parties…

He decided, after much deliberation, that he wanted to do glow-in-the-dark mini golf, and I convinced myself, to Micah’s relief, not to stress over it, keep it simple and easy.

I let Zander pick invitations that we could print at home. I let him decide who to invite… (That’s always an ordeal for us because Jaylin and I like to invite our own friends!) And I took him to the grocery store and let him tell the bakery what he wanted on his cake. He wanted bright colors and for it to say ‘Happy Birthday Zander’… I left them an invitation so they could see the colors. They ended up screen printing it on the cake… You know, in case the guests that were already at the party needed to be invited again. Needless to say, I wasn’t too impressed, but Zander loved it… so all was well.



I told him to make an “oh my goodness my cake is so awesome” face…

 
Party days always give me anxiety. Really, doing anything that requires me to have all 7 of us dressed and out of the house gives me anxiety… and for good reason. Trying to get everybody ready for this party, we had 2 full-blown meltdowns because 2 of the boys didn’t wanna wear pants. Dylan popped her bow off of her brand new headband and was tackled by one of our dogs after escaping out the back door. Micah had to leave to get drinks because I completely forgot them, Zander was following me around, asking every 2.5 minutes if it was time to go, and Enzo was throwing fits and having seizures over E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G… pure chaos.
 
So, naturally I thought it’d be a good idea to have everyone match in season-appropriate black-light ready attire… AND try to manage a group picture that I could use to replace my Facebook cover photo… because we all know mine is past due for a update. You noticed, right?
 
 
That’s the best one out of the 50 I took, so that obviously didn’t go as planned… but the party ended up being really fun. Lots of Zander’s friends showed up, and he was one happy little boy. It reminded me of how special I felt on my birthdays growing up and I know that he loved it, whether the pictures are pinterest-worthy or not. And it fills my happy tank to the top.
 
 


 
I considered letting that be the end of this story, but I can’t lie… I tried for that updated cover photo after the party too… some day I think they really may cooperate and I MIGHT miss these crazy days.
 
 
 
 
 

 



 
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Learning to Mom

I remember when Jaylin was a little baby… my first, sweet little angel baby that scared the poop out of me. I dropped her off at the church nursery when she was about 3 months old with a detailed note of down-to-the-minute instructions of what she would need the whole hour I wasn’t with her… all on an index card rubber-banded around her breast milk filled  bottle. You know how when your college professor gave you one index card to use on a test and you wrote in micro print so you could fit it all on there. Yeah, like that. Not kidding. I mean… I HAD to… just in case the nursery workers (who have been parents most of their lives) didn’t know how to appropriately heat a bottle and give it to a baby at exactly 10:36.

Another time Micah had to go out of town for work. I went with him because no way I could handle ONE baby all by myself for two days and one night. NO WAY! I ended up sitting in the car with her in a parking lot for hours and hours waiting on him to finish work. I had debated running to the mall or target, but I thought it would be easier to just sit, trapped, in a car and lose my mind. Genius.



Micah took this pic when he finally got back to the car. He was so supportive, but he was probably secretly researching where the nearest mental institution was located.



 
I obviously had no clue what I was doing, but I’d read Baby Wise and thought if I kept this super strict schedule and followed all the “rules” I was gonna get it right and she was gonna be perfect! I’m a control freak and I had it under control… until…

Zander (October 2009)
 
…and…
Enzo (July 2011)

 

 …and…
Roman (September 2012)
 
…and…
Dylan (July 2014)
 
Goodbye control. Hello Jesus!
 
I think everybody reaches this point as a parent, no matter how many kids you have, where you’re like WHAT IN THE WORLD AM I DOING?! My rice krispee turkeys look like owls, my moby wrap hurts my back, I don’t want to breastfeed in public or potty train at preciously 2 years old, Zander’s shirt is too short and the thought of clipping 50 finger nails and 50 toe nails makes me want to scream. And you know what, it’s fine. My kids don’t suffer when I do things our way, take a break from pinteresting and don’t listen to all the advice handed down by the older, more experienced, wise moms. I love these kids, Jesus loves them, and that’s what I hang on to when it gets hairy (sometimes literally).
 
…to be continued.
 





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Young Living Oils

We’ve been using Young Living essential oils for a while now and have had lots of success with them. This is a list of the ones we’ve used and how they’ve benefited our family:

Frankincense

This one is my favorite because it’s the one that has been helping Enzo with his epilepsy. It counteracts side effects of his medications and has decreased the frequency and severity of his seizures. We use it on him at least twice a day, 2-3 drops on each foot. I’ve also used it to heal an ingrown toenail and blisters on my feet. We also like to diffuse it. To learn more about frankincense click here.

UPDATE: Enzo developed a resistance to Frankincense because we used it on him so often. We now only use it to help with seizures after he’s having trouble, not as a preventative.

Stress Away

This one is a blend of several essential oils. It does exactly what you’d think, relieves stress (and anxiety). I used it on Enzo when he was anxious about starting preschool and on myself all the time! I like to buy it with a roller for easy application. We apply to bottoms of our feet, wrists, or back of the neck. Learn more about it here.

Orange, Lemon and Bergamot

Citrus oils improve brain function, balance emotions, work as natural disinfectants, and they smell wonderful. Warning: When I was first learning about oils, I rubbed Bergamot all over the back of the kids’ necks… I learned the hard way that citrus oils can also cause skin to become photosensitive… Do not expose skin to the sunlight for 48 hours after use! I recommend diffusing them or using on bottoms of feet. Learn more about them here, here, and here.

Peppermint

We use peppermint for nausea and headaches. For nausea, rub 2-3 drops together in your hand, cup your hands over your face and breathe it in. This worked miracles for my car sickness riding around in the back of taxi cabs in NYC last spring.  I’ve used it the same way for headaches and also directly applied it to the base of my neck. I like to diffuse peppermint too to help everybody “wake up” in the morning. Peppermint oil is very strong, so wash your hands with soap after you apply it. If you happen to get it in your eye it will burn! Do not flush with water… use milk or heavy cream. (Gross, I know, but I promise it works!) Then flush with water. Additional info about Peppermint here.

Lavender

I love the way lavender smells, so it’s a constant in the diffuser. It’s great for calming and reducing stress and anxiety (it’s in the Stress Away blend too). I like to mix Lavender with the citrus oils in the diffuser. They smell great together! I’ve also rubbed lavender on the bottoms of our feet to relieve anxiety, but usually only do that when I’m out of the Stress Away. Learn more here.

Cypress

I use this one to alleviate muscle pain in my neck and back. I rub it directly where the soreness is and pain is gone in a matter of minutes. I have a 7 year old that still wets the bed almost every night and we’re currently trying this oil to help with that. We’re on night 3 and it isn’t helping much yet, but we’re giving it some more time because I know others have had success using it this way. Learn more about Cypress here.

UPDATE: Cypress did NOT work for us for bedwetting. We’re still trying other combinations, hopefully we can find a solution.

Thieves

We hesitated to try Thieves because it’s supposedly a seizure-inducer for some. But when winter hit this year, the snotty noses and infections hit us hard. I had to try something. First sign of snot, I started rubbing one drop on the bottoms of the kids’ feet. Worked like a charm. Cured Enzo’s ear infection and the snot turned from yellow to clear. If you’re only going to start with one oil, this is the one I’d recommend.

I would love to hear about which oils (or other Young Living products) you’re using, so feel free to share in the comments!

If you’re interested in purchasing essential oils or becoming a Young Living distributor (and getting wholesale pricing!), I would love to help you! Sign up here and use 3119864 as your Sponsor and Enroller ID.

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Enzo’s Epilepsy

Enzo was born July 1, 2011. Our third child in three years!. He was a perfect, 7lb 5oz bundle of joy.

He was as normal as a little boy comes for the first 3 years of his life, loved (and still loves) basketball, running, Elmo and pestering big brother and sister!

In December 2014 (age 3.5) he was playing outside in the snow with his brothers and sister. They came in and sat at the table, waiting for me to get their lunch ready. I spun around to throw something in the sink and heard a thud. When I made it to the table, Enzo was on the floor flopping around in a full blown (tonic clonic) seizure. We called 911, but the seizure was over before the ambulance got to our house. We drove him to the ER where they checked his temperature (a low grade fever), his electrolytes (normal), and did a CT scan (also normal). They determined that his seizure was febrile and we shouldn’t worry unless he had another…

My family came in town the following week for Christmas. My brother was sleeping in Enzo’s room, and woke up when he heard Enzo having a seizure in his sleep. We moved him to our bed the following night and realized he was having nocturnal seizures almost every night. We took him to the ER at the Children’s hospital in Oklahoma City. They didn’t run any tests, but started him on Keppra (a popular seizure medication for children) and referred us to a pediatric neurologist.

The medicine stopped the nocturnal seizures but the drop seizures (myoclonic) started soon after. We did an EEG, which came back normal, and then added another medication, Zonisamide. The seizures were improving, but not as much as we wanted them to. He was inuring himself all the time, stitches, bruises, knots, knocked out teeth, all became our norm with him. The side effects of the medicine weren’t fun either, leaving him zombie-like most of the time and pretty irritable.

We did genetic testing in April 2015 and got the results over the summer. He has an SCN1A mutation and was officially diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome. It’s a scary diagnosis and, although we were happy to have some answers, it was tough to hear. After more research I’ve come to understand that his diagnosis is simply our neurologist’s best guess at classifying his type of epilepsy so we can determine the best ways to treat him. Although I do trust and understand how our neurologist came to her conclusion, I actually believe that Enzo has Doose syndrome. Regardless, the information from the genetic testing has put me in touch with many families dealing with the same things we’re going through – great sources of advice and encouragement.

In June 2015, thanks mostly to my mom, we decided to start using essential oils on Enzo. We began putting 2-3 drops of Young Living Frankincense on his feet morning and night, same time we gave him his meds. We finally saw some relief for him. His brain seemed to wake up and the seizures improved too! We’ve been using the frankincense (and others as needed) for about four months now and the improvements are drastic. We’ve gone from about 10-12 seizures a day to 1-2 every 2-3 weeks! We’ve got a long way to go before Enzo is seizure free, but the progress he’s made so far makes us very hopeful for his future!

If you’re interested in learning more about essential oils and/or childhood epilepsy please contact me. If I can’t answer you’re questions I’d be happy to research and learn along with you!

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Stitch Fix #6

If you aren’t familiar with Stitch Fix, it’s a personal styling service. You sign up, fill out a style profile and link your style pinterest board. (Here’s mine!) They send you 5 items to try on at home, and you only pay for the items you keep. They charge a $20 styling fee, but it’s applied to any purchases that you make. I’ve only had one box where I didn’t keep anything and lost the fee. To sign up, click here! I will receive referral credit once your box ships, so thank you!

On to the fun stuff! Here’s what I got in this box… (See the note from stylist where she talks about looking at my pinterest board!)

First up, the Kut From The Kloth Goldie Flare Jeans ($88) and Sinclaire Button Front Blouse ($68)

The jeans are a little too big, so I’ve emailed customer service to see about a size exchange. I’ve never done that before, but they have great customer service and I’m hoping it works out. I’ll post an update when I hear back. Love the shirt, so probably keeping it as well.

Next is the Look by M Sammie Plaid Infinity Scarf ($34)

I like this one too. It has a small hole where the tag was put in, so I’ve also emailed customer service about that.

Next up, the Ark & Co Fariah Open Drape Cardigan ($78)

LOVE this one. It’s nice and long and has faux leather cuffs!

And finally, the 41Hawthorn Teegan Draped Blazer ($78)

This one is way more cropped than I usually go for because of my super long waist, but I think I’m liking it. I may try it with a couple dresses too.

The grand total to keep everything is $346, minus a 25% discount for keeping everything and a $25 credit I had from referring a friend = $234.50. I’m waiting to hear back from customer service about the size exchange on the jeans and the hole in the scarf, then I’ll decide for sure…

UPDATE: Customer service found a smaller size in the jeans so they’re exchanging for me! Return shipping is super easy with Stitch Fix. You just throw everything in a bag and drop off at the post office… so I know that party will go smoothly. I’m curious to see how fast I’ll get my replacement jeans… They unfortunately didn’t have a replacement for me on the scarf, but they offered a 15% discount on it if I wanted to keep it or I could return it and still get my keep all 25% discount on the other four items. Sadly, the scarf is going back. I’m just worried since it already has a hole it won’t hold up. As always, their customer service did not disappoint!

Opinions always welcome!

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