Complaining Is Actually Making Your Stressful Holiday WORSE

It is not unusual to be frazzled or stressed during the last months of the year and so many celebrations crammed into 2 months time. With family parties, school parties, gift buying, gift giving, delivery deadlines, finding time for traditions, decorating, baking, sending out cards and making everything absolutely PERFECT for your children so that they’ll always remember the magic of the season, it’s obviously a cause for elevated stress level. And then you check your Instagram only to see that everyone else seems to be doing it better than you with beautiful smiles and stylish holiday decor.


But before I give you permission to complain about all that and more, here’s why complaining will actually make your holidays worse.

Complaining rewires your brain.

Complaining is totally normal and we’re all prone to do it. It feels as if it’s helping because for the moment, you’re blowing off steam. With all the pressures and the to-do’s during the holidays, it can breed negativity if you let it. The more frequently you complain, your brain will make it easier to complain in the future – basically, your brain will rewire itself. So, over time, that negativity will become second nature. If you’re turning to negative thoughts more frequently, it will be more difficult for you to break that habit. Do you know one of those people that is constantly negative? They likely didn’t get there overnight. Practice makes perfect.

Complaining is bad for your health. 

So what’s the harm in complaining, even if it does rewire your brain to make it second nature to complain more? Complaining can actually harm your health. We all know how stressful the holidays are already, you won’t want to compound that stress.  Dr. Travis Bradberry wrote, “When you complain, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol shifts you into fight-or-flight mode, directing oxygen, blood, and energy away from everything but the systems that are essential to immediate survival. One effect of cortisol, for example, is to raise your blood pressure and blood sugar so that you’ll be prepared to either escape or defend yourself.

All the extra cortisol released by frequent complaining impairs your immune system and makes you more susceptible to high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It even makes the brain more vulnerable to strokes.”

Joining the pity party.

You know that saying that misery loves company? Same goes for complainers. You seek validation for your complaints and then it just becomes a time for those who commiserate to join in the complaining. The negativity grows and you don’t want your most memorable party during the holidays to be a pity party. The holidays are a time for you to enjoy being with family and friends and being in a complaining cycle is not where you want to wallow.


Here are some ways to dial down the stress.


Make your complaint have a purpose.

Complaining in and of itself is not necessarily a problem. It’s the constant complaining that breeds negativity that can be a problem. If you have a complaint – something that you require a solution or a resolution to, take a step back and evaluate. What the problem is and how you can solve it? If you get angry every year because a member of your extended family forgets about your child’s very serious food allergy, address it before it becomes a problem when you are in a good place instead of testing them to see if they’ll remember and then complaining when they don’t. If you can identify the things you are most likely to complain about, you may be able to prevent it in the first place. And if you can’t, make sure that when you do have a complaint, you can use it constructively. Evaluate if it is worth addressing and if you can find a solution.

Stay positive and turn things around.

Just as complaining can become a problem, doing the opposite can bring more joy to the holidays. Yes, this means focusing on the good things, perhaps altering your attitude but the results will be worth it. If something about the holidays drives you crazy, do you really need to be doing it? If those neighbor gifts are becoming more of a burden than an expression of friendship, it’s time for you to ask what your goal is and if what you are doing is achieving that goal. Would a short, handwritten note suffice rather than an elaborate gift suffice?

Each year, a friend of mine would ask me if I was sending Christmas cards. For some reason this stressed me out and began to irritate me because it made me focus on my short-comings. I’m more of an every-other year lady in that department and having someone ask me about it was making me anxious. A few years ago, I got the e-mail again asking if I was sending cards and asking me for one and I realized that it was super important to her. It dawned on me that I could just send her one card without needing to send cards to everyone on our list. I turned something that was driving me crazy into something that I love doing now because I changed my perspective and realized something that required hardly anything from me was something very big for her.


Let it go. 

When all else fails, let it go. A friend of mine years ago told me to pretend I was a sea otter and let it all just roll off of my back like water. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used that trick. Sometimes you can’t change a person or a situation but you can change yourself. You can choose to let it go. I don’t get hung up on the fact that I really wanted to make gingerbread houses and I just couldn’t find the time this year. Instead of venting about how I’m letting my family down by not finding that precious gingerbread house building time, I check myself and ask myself if it is worth giving that negativity a voice. No, I’m not perfect and neither are my holidays. But I’m going to do my very best to enjoy every bit and let go of all the rest.


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Cultivating Gratitude For Your Body

We live in a weight- and body-shape-obsessed society, and it’s easy (and normal) to develop body dissatisfaction.

I recently heard the term “normative discontent,” coined in the 1980s by researchers who found widespread negative body image, particularly among women, in the United States. I really love it, I think it describes the issue perfectly, and also makes it so obvious how easily we fall prey to cultural norms, even if they make us miserable.

Essentially, it’s become really normal and socially acceptable to hate your body to the point that if you don’t, you are the minority. Isn’t that sad? While this may be more common among women, men come under the same pressure to look a certain way.

It starts young, too. A staggering 42 percent of girls in first through third grades want to be thinner, while 81 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat. Further, eating disorders affect 10 million females and 1 million males.

body positive girls happy

While there are many causes for developing eating disorders, we see exponential increases in body dissatisfaction, internalization of the thin ideal (or muscular ideal) and disordered eating with increases in exposure to media and popular fitness culture. Feeling inferior or flawed can make us desperate, as evidenced by the $60 billion diet industry.

Why cultivating gratitude can help

As a nutrition professional who regularly counsels individuals with disordered eating and body hatred, I have found real benefit in helping clients cultivate a sense of gratitude for their bodies.

With such extreme societal pressures, it may not feel realistic to love — or even like — your body, at least right now. It may be easier to practice body respect, weight neutrality and less emphasis on appearance in general. Shifting focus from appearance to how your body feels or functions can help cultivate gratitude for what it can do, or what it allows you to do.

This quote from Robert Holden perfectly summarizes why I feel cultivating gratitude for your body is so effective, “The real gift of gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become.”

As you cultivate gratitude for your body, you embrace where you are, allowing you to connect with what your body needs. This leads you to take care of yourself in a way that can bring about improvements in overall health and well-being. It has nothing to do with changing or manipulating your body and everything to do with supporting, respecting and caring for it. If your body changes as a result, then there’s that.

If it doesn’t, it’s no less deserving of support, respect and self-care.


SEE MORE: 5 Ways to Raise Kind Kids


How do you do that?

So how can you cultivate gratitude? When I think of November I think of cooler weather, crisp and juicy apples and Thanksgiving. Most notably, I love the reminder November brings to practice gratitude.

This November I am about 6 months pregnant.  I’ve had really positive body image throughout my pregnancy and obviously that has nothing to do with getting smaller.  My belly is growing and some of the rest of me is too.  But because this pregnancy was such a huge surprise and I really didn’t ever imagine I would be pregnant again, I’ve had such a profound sense of gratitude for my body and for all it’s doing to grow a baby.  I have no idea how to do that, but it does, and I’ve trusted it to let me know what it needs.  That may be extra food or rest or physical activity or something else entirely.  I’ve had gratitude and trust for my body which I know is the reason for my positive body image.

That’s important because we typically think of positive body image happening after we change or manipulate our body to be smaller or stronger or fit any other societal expectation.  In reality, you can cultivate body trust and gratitude right now.

love yourself body positive

I asked some of my favorite body image gurus to comment ideas for how to cultivate gratitude.  I hope you find their insight helpful.

“Feeling thankful for one’s body often doesn’t come easily, but everyone can develop a practice of body gratitude. No matter what your size, fitness level or health status, your body is doing its best by you. Begin by choosing one part of your body and saying something positive about it. If this feels too scary, start with an easier, less triggering body part. It could be as simple as, ‘My ears keep me connected to the people I love by letting me hear their voices. I love to listen to my children’s stories.'” — Barbara Spanjers, therapist and wellness coach

“Learning to cultivate gratitude for your body can feel really difficult when you are struggling with negative body image. One way to combat that is to allow yourself to let in a mix of feelings — both positive and negative. Giving yourself permission to feel grateful for a healthy set of lungs won’t eliminate the judgment you feel about your thighs. But it will open the door for you to have a more nuanced experience of your body rather than one that is dominated by negativity. This will help open the door to a more peaceful relationship to your body.” — Marci Evans, registered dietitian and food and body image healer

“YOGA! Yoga was the beginning of my well-being journey, and it continues to prove itself valuable. No matter the pose, I feel as though it’s the best way to express gratitude for my body. I accept my body exactly how it is, which creates a space to stretch a little further if it feels right. If not, I’m still breathing, and that alone is something to be grateful for.” — Maggie Danforth, registered dietitian

gratitude body image healthy yoga

“Body-hatred takes time to learn and thus, it makes sense that body neutrality (or even body love) is a process that takes time as well.” — Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LGSW, psychotherapist and eating disorder specialist

I hope this has given you an idea of how to practice body gratitude. While it’s tempting to think you can hate yourself into feeling motivated to change your body, it’s never effective, it keeps you stuck and only causes emotional distress. I know food and body peace is possible and cultivating gratitude is the path to get there.

Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD


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The Most Accurate Labor Simulation Video I’ve Ever Seen

As a doula I’m constantly answering some of the most random and personal questions about childbirth, women’s health and people’s most private parts.  One of the most popular questions first-time-mom’s ask is “what does labor feel like?”  That is such a difficult question to answer, but the following video is the most accurate labor simulation video I’ve ever seen!  While it can’t fully describe the sensation of labor, it does a good job of pinpointing where those sensations are happening and what they’re doing!  In this shockingly accurate demonstration, Liz Chalmers, owner at the Puget Sound Birth Center in Kirkland, Washington, and Renton, Washington, is going to change the way you think about childbirth:

The video, which was originally uploaded to Facebook and has over 2 million views, was a teaching exercise Liz made for her niece Charlotte, who is in the process of becoming a childbirth educator in New Zealand.  Liz starts by explaining she learned this demonstration from a workshop called “Stomp Out Boring Childbirth.” She inserts the ping pong ball into the balloon and inflates it halfway.


See More:  14 Beautiful Childbirth Photos


balloon uterus birth demonstration with ping pong ball

Then she uses her hands to demonstrate the difference between real contractions and Braxton Hicks contractions. Braxton Hicks are contractions that don’t do much (which is easily showcased with this object lesson) and real contractions help move the ping pong ball down and out.  “Real contractions happen at the top of the uterus.  That’s where the power of contractions happens.  The muscle fibers at the top getting shorter and thicker which squeeze the top and pull up on the side of the uterus” teaches Liz.

balloon uterus birth demonstration with ping pong ball

Braxton Hicks tend to squeeze the uterus in general, while actually contractions can be felt more in the top and back of the uterus.  She also explains effacement and dilation better than any book ever could, by squeezing the balloon the same way actual contractions do, showing how the cervix works.  This video is such a good visual for women to understand that just because dilation isn’t happening doesn’t mean progression isn’t happening and dilation isn’t necessarily the best measure to validate labor.


See More:  5 Questions to Answer Before Your Baby’s Birth


balloon uterus birth demonstration with ping pong ball

Finally the balloon “delivers” the ping pong ball.  How cool is that??!  I’m absolutely amazed at how a balloon and a ping pong ball can so easily show the principles of dilation and effacement.  I’ve never seen anything this visually effective!

Are you expecting?  Was this helpful?

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What I Stockpile for Cold and Flu Season

This conversation is sponsored by Puffs and Vicks available at Walmart. All opinions are my own.

Cold and flu season is upon us. My family has already managed to spend a Saturday afternoon at Instacare while the rest of you hooligans filled my Instagram feed with photos of your family frolicking in the pumpkin patch.

Not the most exciting few days my family has ever had, but we did spend a whole lot of time cuddling and wearing stretchy pants, so, SILVER LINING I GUESS.

The dreaded cold and flu season admittedly snuck up on me, but I visited my local Walmart and here’s what I stockpile for cold and flu season.


Put a box of tissues in every bathroom. In the thick of cold and flu season, just stash a box in your car too. TRUST ME ON THIS. Those little travel packs will not get the job done if you’ve got a young kid with a runny nose. However, travel packs go in every bag –  your bag, every kiddo’s backpack, the Taekwondo bag, the swim bag. ALL THE BAGS. I had an unfortunate projectile sneeze in the grocery checkout line last winter that neither I, nor the cashier, are soon to forget. TISSUES. GET THEM.


My kiddos know the drill. Stuffy nose? You get a chestful of Vicks VapoRub. If you’re in really rough shape, you’ll get it slathered on the bottoms of your feet before you get fitted with a pair of warm socks. Yes, I totally subscribe to that old wives tale about Vicks on the feet. And I love the BabyRub for younger kids—it’s more mild and even I use it on myself when I’m not feeling like I need full strength VapoRub.


Nothing is worse than that woozy and weak feeling you get on day 2 after having spent 24-36 hours in bed blowing your nose and having a fever. And to add even more charm to the experience, nothing sounds appetizing. So we go back to our favorite comfort foods—in our house that means buttered macaroni noodles (in just enough milk to make them soupy,) instant chicken noodle soup (yes, homemade is amazing, but there is some sort of voodoo witchcraft in that packet of instant soup that has healing properties,) popsicles, and saltine crackers.


Yes, “drinks” needs it’s own category. Sports drinks, juice, tea, protein/breakfast shakes. Bonus points for lemon and honey. I managed to get dehydrated a few years ago and landed in the Instacare for IV fluids. Which was lame and embarrassing, because I’m a grown up and should know better. So now I keep all the things in my fridge and pantry—including kid-friendly chocolate breakfast shakes, because it can be tough to get calories into those little ones when they feel awful.


Before I had kids I had a rookie medicine cabinet. If I got sick, heading to the store was mandatory because there wasn’t anything in my house besides some trusty pain reliever and a few bandaids. BUT NOW, I can give any store a run for their money when it comes to inventory because I know that there is nothing worse than having to drag myself to the store when I’d rather crawl into bed. So the top shelf of my bathroom closet is packed with my over the counter star players —DayQuil, NyQuil, and Sinex. My “mom bag” is never without a few doses of DayQuil LiquiCaps.


I’m a big believer in a clean-as-you-go approach. Because I DO NOT WANT TO GET SICK. The kids are usually first and if I’m on my game, I can usually stay healthy—if I stay on top of the germs. Here’s what I attack with bleach wipes:

Door handles (the house AND car!)
Computer Keyboards
Remote controls
Fridge door handles
Toilet handles
And anywhere else that strikes my fancy…basically where ever that sick kiddo has recently camped out.

Don’t wait until everyone is better. Clean as soon as one member of your family gets hit with the flu and then keep it up! 

Starting 10/29, Walmart shoppers can save up to $5 on medicine cabinet essentials just in time for cold and flu season. On this date, look in the P&G brandSAVER in your local Sunday newspaper or at to find coupons for $0.50 off Puffs and $1-$3 off Vicks products including DayQuil, NyQuil, Sinex and VapoRub. This arsenal of cold and flu symptom relievers will help your family feel better this season.


Think about it. You’ve been down with the flu or a nasty cold. You really think putting that toothbrush back in your mouth is a good idea?! NO. Toss that toothbrush once that sick family member is on the mend. Having a stockpile in your cabinet makes this much easier.


Here are a few extra tricks that don’t require a trip to the store…

  1. Once a day (usually when the sick person is taking a bath or shower) open all the windows in the sick room—at our house the sick person ends up in my bed, so they have plenty of room and access to a TV—but I like to air out the room once a day to clear the air blow the germs out.
  2. After the sick person is on the mend, wash all the sheets and bedding and comfort blankets. All of them. Towels too. Clean it all.
  3. Wipe it all down. See “Bleach Wipes” above.
  4. Track down and wash all the water bottles. My kids manage to stash them all over the place. Hunt them down and give them a hot bath. No one needs a water bottle that is secretly hiding the flu.
  5. Clean out the humidifier with vinegar and let it dry out REALLY well before you store it for the next use.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of P&G . The opinions and text are all mine.


Elvie: Your Most Personal Trainer

After the birth of my third child I quickly noticed some changes to my most intimate lady areas.  I had just stopped postpartum bleeding at 6 weeks, only to start right up again 2 weeks later.  I thought for sure something was wrong and headed into my midwife’s office, convinced all my my organs were trying to fall out of my vagina.  She explained that the only illness I was suffering from was menstruation (curse you eager uterus!) and mild prolapse and that the cure was rest (ha!) and maybe some work on my pelvic floor to tighten everything back up where it belongs.  That is when I found Elvie, my most personal trainer.

We don’t talk enough about our pelvic floors in the United States of America.  The pelvic floor is a powerful little set of muscles that sits like a hammock between your tailbone and pubic bone. Hidden, but very important, it lifts and holds your core, affecting core stability, bladder control and even sex.  Routine Postpartum Care doesn’t often cover a discussion about prolapse, rebuilding your pelvic floor or what to do if everything seems very out of place down there.  Many women are unfortunately embarrassed to talk about their vaginas (why this is so important) and don’t even when they go in to the doctor.  It isn’t until things are serious that they get help.  According to the National Institutes of Health, as many as one-third of women suffer from a pelvic floor disorder, which can cause discomfort in the groin and lower back, urinary and fecal incontinence, and painful sex. The condition occurs most commonly after childbirth and menopause, as the muscles weaken with age. Some 11 percent of all women will undergo surgery for the condition in their lifetime—and by the year 2050 the number of women having corrective surgery is expected to increase by nearly 50 percent.

Working in women’s health has magically made me privy to much of this information.  Women suddenly feel comfortable telling me about their most private problems with their private parts and I have been so surprised how many women, especially heading into their 40’s and 50’s that are finally taking care of a prolapse from when they had their last baby, sometimes 20 years later!  That’s terrible!!  I wasn’t until I read Bringing Up Bebe that I was introduced to the idea of pelvic floor rehabilitation and how important and routine it should be!

A fantastic solution to all of this is the Elvie.  Weak pelvic floor muscles are likely to cause more than half of all women bladder, sex or prolapse problems.  When done correctly kegels develop muscle tone and maintain strength.  The Elvie is a fun kegel trainer that helps rebuild and heal those weakened pelvic floor muscles and I just had to try one!!

Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation Exercises for Vaginal Uterine Pelvic Prolapse

Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation Exercises for Vaginal Uterine Pelvic Prolapse

You guys, it’s so cool!!  You basically play video games with your lady parts.  It’s really hard to exercise a muscle that you can’t see, and this makes it possible.  As you squeeze, the gem lifts, allowing you to visualize your exercises in real-time.

A work-out only takes 5 minutes a day-making it easy to do and incorporate into your daily routine.  I do mine first thing in the morning, ideally as part of my morning yoga session.  It’s not only helpful but very entertaining!  The Elvie also has 4 different levels of difficulty so you can start where you are: training, beginner, intermediate, and advanced.  I stay motivated by tracking my results on the app.  I have been improving week by week and my goal is to always beat my personal best!

Elvie is also committed to making sure women are doing their kegals correctly.  30% of women push down when exercising, which can lead to damage.  They designed and patented a new way to measure force and motion that allows you to visualize your exercises and even corrects your technique.  It is also the world’s smallest Kegel trainer, with an optional cover for custom sizing.

Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation Exercises for Vaginal Uterine Pelvic Prolapse

And if you’re worried about being discreet, the charging station is a cute little white sleeve that you can plug in and no one would have a clue what it was!

Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation Exercises for Vaginal Uterine Pelvic Prolapse


Some Frequently Asked Questions:


How do I use the Elvie kegel trainer?

Is the Elvie kegel trainer easy to use?

The Elvie kegel trainer is a small pebble shaped pod that you place inside just like a tampon. It links to the Elvie app which tracks your fun, five minute pelvic floor workouts. We have tested the kegel trainer on over 150 women, so we are confident that it is comfortable to use and it even arrives in two sizes.

How do you know the Elvie kegel trainer really is effective?

All our product development was guided by our scientific advisory group including a number of well known researchers in biofeedback and pelvic floor exercise such as Dr. Rufus Cartwright, Imperial College; Dr. Kay Crotty, Physiolink; Prof. Linda McLean, University of Ottawa and Dr. Jeroen Bergmann, Oxford University. Multiple studies show that giving women real time biofeedback is one of the most effective methods for Kegel exercises with direct force measurement being the gold standard. The Elvie kegel trainer is the first product for women that measures force directly and offers a significant advance over existing products that rely on air pressure changes and are thus unreliable.

Is the Elvie kegel trainer compatible with all phones?

The Elvie kegel trainer is compatible with iPhones 4S and newer and Android phones or tablets 4.3 and newer which support Bluetooth Low Energy. You can also use the Elvie kegel trainer with iPad 3 and newer, including iPad Air and Mini.

We are giving away an Elvie Kegel Trainer to one of you lucky ladies!!  Simple enter to win by following these easy steps:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you every worked on your Pelvic Floor?  What worked for you?  Share in the comments below!

We asked to review the Elvie product and for some additional product for a giveaway. This post is NOT paid.  All opinions are my own.

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Money Saving Hacks To Keep Your Family Healthy

This is a sponsored post on behalf of FamilyWize.

Motherhood has helped me hone a few skills in recent years.

I’ve come to realize that a few key concepts have benefitted both me and my kiddos, mightily.

Do your best to stay healthy.

No, you don’t have to douse yourself in antibacterial gel, but rest and nourish your body, head to the doctor when you’re feeling lousy, and be diligent about your medications and supplements.

Simplify your household.

Clear the clutter. Automate what you can. Let the apps and the websites of your favorite businesses do the heavy lifting.

Save money when you can.

More money in your pocket means more flexibility, more fun, and more peace of mind.

Did you know you can do all three of those things with FamilyWize?

What is FamliyWize?

FamilyWize negotiates deep discounts on prescription medications, passing along 100% of those discounts to patients whether they are insured or uninsured and on average, users typically receive a discount of around 40 percent on their prescription medications when using FamilyWize.

There are two simple ways to sign up to receive savings with FamilyWize with no eligibility requirements or fees:

To sign up for the Free Prescription Discount Card, simply go to
Users can also download the brand new, free mobile app to their phones via the iOS App Store and Google Play.

To receive the savings, just present the card to the pharmacist at pickup at over 60,000 partner pharmacy locations. Easy.

The FamilyWize website and app are also packed with features to help you save time and money.

The Drug Price Lookup Tool allows users to compare the FamilyWize price of their prescription costs between local pharmacies to receive the best possible savings in a designated zip code.

One of FamilyWize’s newest features, Medicine Cabinet, allows users to create a personal profile to store their family’s prescription information in one secure location. Users can save and track their prescription drug searches, bundle prescription by pharmacy to see the total cumulative costs prior to purchasing, edit the dosage, strength, and quantity of their changing prescriptions, and compare pricing between generic and name brand prescriptions.

FamilyWize’s app also offers pill and refill reminders.

Wondering what sort of savings you could be looking at?

Below is a snapshot example of the discounts FamilyWize offers on some of the top prescribed drugs in the U.S. (Prices are subject to change)

Liptor (Atorvastatin Calcium)

  • FamilyWize’s price : $23.24
  • Retail price: $48.45+

Levoxyl, Synthroid, Tirosint (Levothyroxine)

  • FamilyWize’s price: $15.82
  • Retail price: $21 +

Prinivil (Lisinopril)

  • FamilyWize’s price: $10.31
  • Retail price: $20.87+

Lotrel (Amlodipine Besylate-Benazepril)

  • FamilyWize’s price: $26.72
  • Retail price: $68.49+

Zocor (Simvastatin)

  • FamilyWize’s price: $12.49
  • Retail price: $62.73+

Vicodin, Norco, Lorcet (Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen)

  • FamilyWize’s price: $16.11
  • Retail price: $52.78+

EPIPENS: FamilyWize’s lowest current price: $376.25 (retail price $400+)

Those price differences are HUGE!

See what a difference these discounted rates make…

Maryann Small is a breast cancer survivor who turned to FamilyWize to help cut the costs of her prescriptions. At the time that she was diagnosed, Maryann was paying for her two daughters’ college expenses, and was the primary caregiver for her then 88-year-old mother who suffers from dementia. In a two-year period, she underwent six surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. She was then prescribed an Adjuvant chemotherapy drug that would cost her $1,100 for a 90-day period, even with insurance. When a friend suggested that Maryann use the FamilyWize Prescription Discounts Card to reduce her medication prices, her life changed dramatically. The cost of her prescriptions were reduced by 67 percent. Thanks to FamilyWize, Maryann was able choose both her health, and the well-being of her family.

Think what you could do with the money you save…

Visit for more details including stories from other families that have benefitted from these deep discounts.

Don’t Give Up On Me Because I’m ADHD: A Letter From My Son

My son was diagnosed with ADHD at 8 years old.  I knew something was different from the moment he was born.  As my first born, my pregnancy was met with story after story about how I should cherish the time in the hospital because the nurses can care for infant in the nursery allowing me some recovery time.  Or nap when the baby naps and make sure you are feeding them every 2 hours; sometimes you may even have to wake them up to eat! And so many more…

Can I just tell you how wrong every single person was about my newborn experience?  From the moment my son was born he would eat, nap for 45 minutes, wake up for 45 minutes, eat and repeat.  This did not change until he was 6 months old.  Sometimes at night I would get a 2-3 hour span, but if I had any light on (even in the next room), a car drove by, my husband breathed heavily or the TV glowing he would stay awake and do spin moves (at 1 week old) to see the TV or find the noise.  He also started walking around 10 months old and was climbing out of his crib at 11 months old.  He kept me just as busy (if not more) as he was.  I could tell by the look on other parent’s faces that my son was not the typical newborn or toddler.

Fast-forward eight years and it makes a lot more sense. My kiddo is just my busy-bee and once I understood him more, it was much easier to be patient with him.  It was also at this time that we made personal and family decision to place him on medication.  His ADHD was not only affecting his schoolwork, but it was affecting him socially.  He didn’t understand why kids had a hard time with him at recess or in class–and try figuring out a way to explain it! However, the first day he refused to return to school after an incident with “friends”, I knew we needed additional help.  Medicine was a blessing.  Simple as that.  A blessing for him, his education, his teachers, his friends, and most importantly…for him. I could actually follow a conversation with him for the first time in years. When I asked how he felt he quickly replied “My head doesn’t feel all buzzy any more!”.


As each school year approached, he knew that we would need to have conversations with his teachers about his behavior. You can only “island” a kid’s desk so many times before he realizes something is up.  Halfway through 6th grade we needed additional resources from the school and teachers to ensure he had a successful school year. We talked with our son a lot about what he wanted and felt he needed. It was during this time I asked him to write a letter explaining his ADHD and how he felt. I wanted to see his perspective.  Here is what he presented to me:

“I’m 11 years old and I have ADHD.  No, I don’t mean just A.D.D. ADHD is different because it isn’t just my brain that works faster–my body in general works and moves faster than most other kids.  I’ll admit that to some this can be seen as a blessing or a curse.  I say it is a blessing because it allows me to figure out problems, improve on other ideas and see things in other ways faster and more effectively than some. I have the energy to keep trying and trying and trying.  I would like you to know that some times (in my case) I don’t realize what I am doing and I need someone to snap me back in to reality. Things like tapping my pen on my desk, wandering around the room, or tearing up paper.  Also, a lot of the times, when I seem spaced out, like I don’t have a care in the world, it is actually those times when I don’t feel engaged in the activity or more simply — I AM BORED. I need to move and be involved as much as possible to keep my focus locked on. Please try and involve kids like me in the subject or game that is currently happening. Even if it takes a bit more work.  Whatever it is, just get our attention.

Next I would like you to know that if people think that ADHD means that ADHD kids are always bouncing off the walls and always not listening to anyone or anything, please understand that even when that happens, we are trying our very best. It can be really hard at times. Please try to get our attention and involve us in whatever it is that you’re doing.  Just put in some effort and it will all pay off. That’s what I would like you to know about ADHD and kids like me.”


adhd letter from son

What his letter taught me is this: I am trying and please don’t give up on me.

Simple as that.

I’m trying, guys. Please include me. I’m doing the best I can.

My heart hopes that I remember this on the tough days. My heart hopes that his teachers and friends can see and know this. If my ADHD son feels this way, I can almost guarantee someone else’s ADHD child does too. Let us all be a bit more patient and take the time to ask our child how they feel and what they need.  They’ll tell you every time.


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This post is sponsored by Dr. Axe, all the words and opinions are mine. Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional. I’m not here to diagnose anything. I have a marketing degree, not a medical degree. So we’re just friends swapping stories, okie dokie?

Been hearing more and more about collagen?

This nutritional supplement has been getting a fair amount of attention—at least on my Instagram feed, which is admittedly full of accounts devoted to health, wellness, fitness and paleo nutrition.

I’m not naturally a “health-minded” person. I’m naturally a “donut-minded” person.

But earlier this year my health took what can only be described as a nosedive into a muddy ditch. I was not doing well. My digestive system was a disaster. I felt awful and run down.

A visit to the doctor and host of tests would reveal—a gluten allergy, hypoglycemia, leaky gut, and Hashimoto’s.

I was grateful to have not one, but several reasons for why I was feeling so trashed. But I was also overwhelmed. My doctor recommended that I work with a nutritionist and I was directed to remove grains, sugar, and dairy from my diet.


I felt great. Except when I worked out, I had ZERO energy.

The mandate came to “eat more protein.”

But can I toss out something here? PROTEIN IS SORT OF A PAIN.

Especially if you’re like me and need to steer clear of whey and soy-based proteins.

I mean, I gave daily bacon a solid try, but I don’t think that’s what my nutritionist was suggesting when she mentioned “more lean protein” and “healthy fats.”

And friends, I’ve tried A LOT of protein powders. I’ve scoured the aisles of regular and natural food stores. I’ve bought powders online. And you bet your sweet tushy that I’ve given them a good solid try, because protein powders are an investment. And some of them taste awful. I’m sorry, but they do.

Now…back to collagen. I was looking for two key things:

  1. A good protein source (that didn’t upset my tummy.)
  2. Anything and everything to help heal a leaky gut.

With those two priorities, collagen kept rising to the top of my “to try” list. But there are more possible benefits to collagen.

Great protein source.

I love Dr. Axe Multi-Collagen as a protein source because I’m able to add it to my regular food. My coffee, soup, or smoothie, without committing to, or altering, the flavor. Think about that. Most protein powders come with a pretty strong taste. Not here.

Helps keep hunger in check.

This was true for me. A scoop of collagen in my coffee mixes right in and I didn’t notice the taste, but I did notice that my morning cup of coffee left me feeling fuller with the added bonus of 7 grams of protein.

Supports a healthy gut.

I wish “leaky gut” had a more legit name. This feels made up. But the symptoms, I can assure you, are very real and, for me, following nutritional protocols intended to repair the gut have helped me mightily in the last few months. Including the use of collagen my diet.

Great for your skin, hair, and nails.

Collagen supports healthy tissues so your joints, skin, hair, and nails can benefit from this critical supplement.

Dr. Axe Multi Collagen Protein comes packaged in several ways that make adding it to your favorite foods super easy—the full-size canister holds 58 servings and the single-serving stick packs are fantastic for traveling or adding to coffee, smoothies, juice, or soup on the go. And for an extra layer of convenience—capsules.

If you’re curious about collagen you can read more about the benefits of Multi Collagen here

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Dr. Axe – Food Is Medicine. The opinions and text are all mine.


5 Ideas for a Candy-Free Halloween (for Celiacs, Diabetics and More!)

My daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes back in July and even with it being mid-summer one of my first thoughts was “what are we going to do about the holidays?”  I have heard this same concern with Mother’s of children with a gluten intolerance, dairy allergies, peanut allergies and more.  I put these concerns on the back burner for a few weeks until my daughter came home with a handful of candy from church.  Each mini-candy bar was 10-15 carbs each, meaning she needed a unit and a half of insulin just for 3 pieces of candy!!  Suddenly the realization of the upcoming holidays seemed a little more overwhelming and the necessity for Candy-Free Halloween (or at least, less-candy) came to light.

Candy Free Food Allergy Memes for Halloween

With Halloween being a holiday completely centered around candy, I am anticipating our first holiday with our little diabetic being a rite of passage.  The Halloween’s of sitting on the living room floor after trick-or-treating all night and gorging on as much candy as possible are definitely over for us but preserving as many of our usual Halloween traditions as we can is very important to me.  I do not want my daughter to feel like she’s missing out or treated differently during one of her favorite holidays, including trick-0r-treating.  A quick Pinterest search and asking around for advice gave me some really great ideas for a Candy-Free Halloween, and I’m hoping that sharing these will help out you other Mamas with your children.

*I’m just going to add this little disclaimer-diabetics are absolutely allowed to have candy, they just need to give themselves insulin to go with it.  I’m concerned about burning through that much insulin and also how difficult it is to manage the sugar spikes that candy can cause.


1. Buy Back the Candy Yourself

This idea always seemed crazy to me, but now that we’re dealing with diabetes it doesn’t seem as crazy.  The idea is that you set a price per piece and then offer to buy your kids candy after trick or treating.  This allows them to participate in trick-or-treating but ideally not to gorge on candy.  This way if they have a few pieces that they really want to keep it’s all their decision about what they sell and what they don’t.  Knowing my children, this would work amazingly well.


2. Participate in a Halloween Candy Buyback

I had heard of dentists participating in this program and I didn’t realize just how widespread the idea is! On their site you can search by zip code to find a participating retailer or dentist in your area to buy back your Halloween candy by the pound.  They take that candy and send it to the troops overseas.  Not only are you eliminating the candy from your home, it’s going to soldiers missing their families around Halloween!

Candy Free Food Allergy Memes for Halloween


SEE MORE:  Ten Spooky and Scary Halloween Crafts for Kids


3.  Create a Trade-in Store

Instead of involving money, you could trade your kids for things like movie tickets, a trip to the zoo or a new stuffed animal.  This idea would work particularly well on younger children that may need a more tangible thing to trade for.

Candy Free Food Allergy Memes for Halloween

See more Healthy Halloween Ideas Here.


4.  A Halloween Party

Another suggestion was to skip trick-or-treating all together and just have a Halloween Party for your children on Halloween night.  This way you have complete control over what is served at the party and don’t need to deal with the large amounts of candy that trick-or-treating provides.  I love this idea particularly for older children that are starting to lose interest in trick-or-treating anyway! 

Candy Free Food Allergy Memes for Halloween


SEE MORE:  The 10 Best Halloween Makeup Tutorials on YouTube {For You!}


5. Help Out Others in Your Situation

I recently compiled a list of ideas for non-candy treats and from here on out every year we will be offering alternatives to candy.  I can’t promise we’ll abolish passing out candy altogether, but I will ALWAYS have some other sort of fun surprise for those children that come to my door unable to eat candy.  If you haven’t heard about the teal pumpkin project, putting a teal pumpkin on your doorstep means you have non-food treats available, such as glow sticks or small toys. This simple act promotes inclusion for trick-or-treaters with food allergies or other conditions.


Candy Free Food Allergy Memes for Halloween


I hope this offers some hope, help, and solidarity to all of you parents out there managing a child with special needs.  If you’re a Mama that has a child with food allergies, diabetes, or other candy related issues, what has helped you during Halloween and the other holidays?  Share in the comments below!


See more at!

10 Spray Painted Pumpkin Ideas for Halloween

Guide to Hosting Kids with Allergies and Food Intolerances

Gluten Free Desserts

This Is What My Postpartum Depression Looked Like

I am not a medical professional. I wasn’t even diagnosed with postpartum depression by a medical professional after any of my 4 pregnancies and deliveries. I am, however, a mother who has spent a few years in her body and has recently been enlightened; all it took was paying a little attention to my before and after self.

Once you become pregnant, or even start reading up on pregnancy and delivery, postpartum depression gets thrown in to nearly every conversation. I read about and lots of conversations about it. I even read Brooke Shield’s book “Down Came the Rain”. I felt for her and every other story I heard regarding postpartum depression.  Problem was: I couldn’t relate to any of them. I was having a hard time, but that’s called running on two hours of sleep and being a new mom, right? My entire life had changed–I wasn’t depressed like the stories I had heard or read. I pushed through.

When my first son was a just over a year old we moved to a new city, my husband had a new job, and I had left the workforce as a full-time employee and was simply “Mom” 24 hours a day. I had an infinitely busy child and life wasn’t my favorite. Things were hard. I was angry all the time. I was inexplicably sad just as often. I excused my anger and sadness because life had turned upside down. Of course I was unhappy and struggling to adjust.  The first notion that something may be more serious than just “change” was the afternoon my husband called from work stating he had looked in to our insurance plan and psychologists were covered. Um… thanks, babe? You can go jump off a cliff now. (I guess he had noticed something was off.)

A short time later I became pregnant with my second baby and moved back to the city we were previously in. Life had settled down. I completely forgot about my anger, I cried less and simply laughed about my husband’s well-meaning, but absurd phone call.

This routine continued every 2 years for the next 3 babies.  Waves of emotions, moving, new jobs, change of plans, less sleep, more babies and one hundred more reasons to explain why I was having a hard time–I became an expert at justifying my emotions. If only I had realized what was truly going on.

(From RenoVatio)

My last baby is now seven; if I could go back to the new-mom version of myself, I would shake her and tell her to go to the doctor. Incessant anger and crying is not normal and, more importantly, is not normal for me.  My unknowing fault was chalking up these new emotions (that seem to be sticking around) to the new version of me. Kids change you, they say. Your hormones will be crazy, they say.  So I dealt with it. This had to be the new me.

I’m here to tell you that you should not accept a sad, angry, stressed out version of yourself as the new you. Babies change you, but they don’t (and shouldn’t) ruin your emotional stability (at least in the long term <wink>).

According to the World Health Organization, postpartum depression affects roughly 10 to 15 percent of women in industrialized countries and 20 to 40 percent in developing countries. The American Psychological Association puts that number at 1 in 7 women in the U.S. But hear me out–if I had taken this survey I would have marked that I did not have postpartum depression because I had no idea that is what I was dealing with! Makes you wonder what the real numbers are.

I can tell you now that my postpartum depression came in waves and usually displayed itself as anger and sadness.  Anger at everything. Anger at myself. Anger at my kids. Anger at life. But it was never out of control–I never felt like I was going to hurt myself or my children. Mine was a consistent grouchiness (which I could turn on and off depending on my social interactions).  When the anger fled it usually was replaced with sadness. The most frustrating part was trying to explain it to my husband. He would ask what was wrong and I truly could not explain it to him. Not even a little bit. I’d assure him that I really was happy (because I was), but sometimes I just felt off and didn’t know how to climb out of it.




Let me describe my sadness–it isn’t what you think. Fine, it isn’t what I thought.  I read about depression and saw all the commercials.  I wasn’t withdrawing from what I loved. I still went out with my friends. I still laughed with my husband. I still got out of bed without having to pry my legs off the mattress. However, I was sad about everything. I cried when I dropped my spatula on the floor.  I cried when I didn’t have time to stop and grab a diet coke.  I cried when my son stopped abruptly and spilled his crackers. I cried when someone told a random story that had nothing to do with me or my children or my life–like at all (I hid these tears real good).  I cried when I read about a mouse named Chrysanthemum.  I cried when I forgot to change the laundry to the dryer.  The most interesting part to me now?? I didn’t question this behavior at all. None of this raised red flags to me, even though I had NEVER been like this before. This angry-sad-crying-thing is just what “having kids has made me”.  Right?! No. Guys…this is not normal. A dropped spatula should not make you cry.

As my youngest hit year 2-5, things had evened out. I cried less. I was angry less. I was happy!  Again, our life situation had adjusted, calming down a bit, and I chalked it all up to that.

And then the tears started again. Everything was hard, and sad, and so sad and then sometimes I didn’t want to get out of bed because my whole life would start over again and I just couldn’t.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Lightbulb!

Oh… so this feels more like the depression I read about.

Then one morning I looked at my clock and said “I don’t need to get up. I don’t want to. I won’t. Kids are better without a grumpy, crying mom.” And then the word depressed washed over me. Every. Single. Thing. Clicked. So this is what depression looks like… for me. Anger and tears. In the last 12 years I only had this one inkling of what depression looked like on paper, but that was enough to tie it all together for me. Wow.  What a long 12 years. Hindsight, amiright?

Bless our dear, sweet, patient (hopefully) spouses. This is hard on them, too. published a wonderful article for dads (or any spouse) on how to help and what is not helpful when your loved one is dealing with postpartum depression. Share this with someone you love.


My dear friend who works as a doula and has spent many, many hours with postpartum moms made an off-the-cuff comment that postpartum often times mimics PMS.  Imagine your bad PMS week — then extend it for weeks and months and sometimes years. This is what I had! This was me! This was so very much me!  And It is Not. Normal.  Check yourself, Mamas! I plead with you. Assess your emotional state. Ask your spouse if need be. What is different about me? Your postpartum depression may not look like Brooke Shields or the pamphlet from the hospital. That doesn’t mean you don’t have it and it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek help.  Don’t compare your struggles to someone else. And the kicker–just because you are completely functional doesn’t mean you are living your best possible life. If something feels off, get it checked out. It can’t hurt anything to have a conversation.


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6 Things Depressed Parents Need to Know

My Postnatal Depression Made Me a BETTER Mom