I am loving the rich and beautiful colors that are popping up at every store this fall season.  The past few years, I have found my fashion must-haves through blogs.  Even better?  When you can actually purchase the items you fall in love with through blogs.  I try to make sure my fashion posts are something others can not only want to purchase themselves, but are items they can afford to.  For me, the less expensive, the better.

A great way to scope out new fall must-haves, is by checking out the SearsStyle Blog.  There, you can find fashion tips from bloggers and the editor, as well as links to get the items you see!  The fashion bloggers give great tips on how to wear items.

This is how I came across a must-have shirt on the SearsStyle Blog.  It is a beautiful wine color with black lace on the sides.  It did come with a necklace, but I am partial to wearing my “Harrison” necklace.  That is what led me to stop by Sear’s, and pick out 2 cute new outfits for fall.   I paired this with a pair of cute black skinny jeans.  I know the black jeans will get a lot of wear this winter, and they weren’t even $20!

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I love the lace trim, it makes a plain shirt feel a little glamorous.


The best part?  The total for both outfits was under $60.  Two full outfits, $60.  Heck yes.  I love being able to find a great fall look for less!  To be honest, I haven’t shopped at Sear’s in years.  But I had my arms full of items to try on in no time.  Not only that, they had really cute jewelry and adorable shoes.

Besides grabbing the lace trimmed top, I instantly snatched up a pair of red jeans.  I spent a lot of time looking for  a pair last winter, and never came across ones that fit me quite right (ah, short girl probs).  These fit great, and although they are skinny jeans, they fit better than the legging styles I tried to squeeze into all last year.  I topped my new red pants off with a cute, black button-up top.

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The little details on the top make it more fun than the average button down.  It makes me think it will look cute dressed up or wearing it for a casual day.


Also, the length.  Have I mentioned how much I love when I don’t have to get pants altered?

Two great fall looks, for less than $60 and easily found on the Sears Style Blog.  Plus, with Sears Shop Your Way rewards, I am going to be saving even more!  That is fall fashion I love!



You know what I find not fun?  Dating.  I don’t understand how people just go out and meet someone.  “Oh, we just ran into each other at the gym.”  I look disgusting at the gym.  No one wants to date me if they saw me there.  Unless they are attracted to drowned rats.

Or, “the grocery store is a great place to pick up guys!”.  Right, because nothing spells love at first sight like seeing someone with a three year old in a cart who is probably yelling about getting a cookie, with a  frazzled looking mom is trying to find the grocery list she left on the counter while getting to the bakery at lightening speed for the free cookie.  Once the free cookie is picked up she has approximately 8 minutes to get all her shopping done before the cookie is gone.  Ain’t nobody got time to be picking up men.

Yeah, basically, that means I am single.

So, when Match.com gave me the opportunity to interview their relationship expert, Whitney Casey, I jumped at the chance.  I can use all the advice I can get!  Plus, I have learned that as a full-time single parent, online dating is really the only way to meet eligible men.  I came up with some questions I have been curious about when it comes to online dating, and she gave some great tips:

Being a single parent, it is hard to meet potential dates, is online dating a good way to meet guys that actually want relationships?

Yes! Match.com is the world’s largest dating company, bringing together over 1.9 MM paid subscribers on the site. With those sheer numbers, it’s no wonder that Match is responsible for more dates, more relationships, and more relationships than any other site. Our site offers a diverse group of people from all over the country that are serious about finding a relationship, and single parents who online date have more success with finding relationships than those who don’t.

About 1/3 of our members between the ages of 23-50 are single parents, and we’ve seen a 180% increase in single parents joining Match.com over the last four years. In addition to the number of single parents we have using the site, over 2/3 of men are interested in dating a single mom (67%). There’s a great pool of people and potential dates who can relate to your situation hoping to connect online.

What is the best way to disclose you are a single parent? And how much should your child be mentioned in your profile?

That’s the great thing about Match, it’s a straightforward process when creating your profile and entering details about you, your life, and who you are looking for:  Along with your basic details like age, where you’re searching, and your ethnicity, there are two fields related to children: “Have Kids” and “Want Kids.” This makes it easy for potential matches who come across your profile to get a good grasp of your life circumstances and situations like children BEFORE making contact. And don’t think being a single parent is a turn off – over 2/3 of men are interested in dating a single mom (67%)!

Kids in pictures, yay or nay? Why?

At the end of the day, this is about you trying to connect with someone – not your kids.  As difficult as it might be for you, keep the majority of your profile photos of just you – including headshots and a full body photo – and also incorporate photos of activities, interests and travel that show off who you are.  And if one or two of those photos involve you and your kids, that’s great!

I always get uncomfortable talking about myself, what are some tips for selling yourself in your profile without coming across arrogant? What are the best things to talk about in your profile to make yourself stand out?

Creating a profile from scratch can be daunting – especially if you’re used to talking about your kids versus – heaven forbid – yourself! Follow the 3 R’s to a great online dating profile: Real, Relevant, and Recent.

REAL:  Your profile picture is crucial – make sure you keep it real.  No photo-shopping.  No cropping. And most importantly, it should look like you would on your first date with someone!  No sunglasses, action shots, group photos or animals.  This is your first chance to make a good impression!

RELEVANT: Your profile should be well thought out and reflective of you…but not a novel. Keep the “about me” section clean and bulleted or numbered. Think simple, write simple. When looking at that section think: What are your best attributes, what do you like to do, and what you like in a man.

RECENT: You are more likely to be included in more searches by single men if you consistently update your profile. Add new pics if you have recently been on a trip, change your dating headline like you would change your Facebook status, if you like a new book or movie…talk about it. This gives men something to email you about. Remember men are action oriented…give them something to take action on!

I was curious to know about the members on the site, and learned that Match.com has seen a 180% increase we’ve seen an in single parents who have their kids living with them on Match over the last four years.  That made me want to know how many people that actually is, and it is actually 1/3 of the members on Match.

That makes me a lot more confident in putting myself out there with online dating.  Knowing that there are that many single parents on Match, makes me feel better.  I thought I would be one of the only single parents on there!  Plus, 67% of Match’s men said they would be willing to date a single mom.  I have always wondered if I chould include pictures with my son or not, or if I should talk about him in the profile.  After reading Whitney’s advice, I feel much more comfortable about what I should say in my profile to attract some potential guys.

So, single mamas, give it a shot, check out Match.com for yourself!



Having the medical scare with HJ is an experience that taught me a lot in a short time.  It made me experience feelings and emotions I would never wish upon anyone.  It made me see the good in people.  It made me realize what could have been, and it made me put a new perspective in place.

The saying “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” kept going through my head.  I kept telling God that I was about to break and I couldn’t handle much more. Did God know that I couldn’t handle more?  Why do so many people never even have to go through such a scare? And then I think, but why does he think those other parents can handle it?  The ones that I was afraid to make eye contact with in the lounge?  Are they stronger? Or do they feel broken?

I was afraid of becoming one of them.  I didn’t want the hospital to be our home away from home.  I didn’t want other people to feel sorry for me, but at the same time be grateful it wasn’t them.

There is no feeling like the one when you can’t help your child.  When what is going on isn’t up to you.  When you aren’t in control of what is going on.

I kept thinking what a bitch Karma is.  I feel like I know so many people who seem to have everything go their way.  I also know some people where things haven’t gone their way.  And they are good people.  I like to think I am a good person, and that at some point things will turn around.  And then I think maybe this was my good karma.  But at the same time, no one deserves to have bad things happen to them, so why do they?

I always remind myself everyone is fighting their own battle.  Someone might seem like everything in their life is perfect, but you don’t know what happens behind closed doors.  And you don’t know what inner demons people deal with.

I had so many people reach out to me.  At first, I was annoyed at the huge amount of friend requests I got on facebook after posting a status on HJ and that he needed positive vibes.  It made me think they were being nosy.  Then I realized, even if they are being nosy, it’s because they are worried.  They were thinking about my baby, and hoping for the best.  Hundreds of people were thinking about my little guy and hoping he would be ok.

Facebook had another annoyance.  While I am praying that my son will be okay and sitting in a hospital room, people were making posts about how horrible their lives were.  Because Starbuck’s got their order wrong, because it was raining, because their kid refused to go to bed.  And it put things into perspective.  I would have loved for those to have been my biggest issues at that moment.  I wonder if they realized how petty their annoyances seemed to me.  And I wonder how petty my biggest issue seemed to the parent across the hall, who appeared to be living there.

It has made me a more patient and appreciative mother.  I hope this stays with me and doesn’t fade away.  I haven’t been as irritated or short with HJ.  I KNOW he always moves slow, and I am planning better for it instead of getting in an argument every time we need to leave.  And you know what?  Most 3 year olds do this.  So instead of being frustrated, I should help him.  Help him learn how to get ready himself like he is trying to do.  I have been smiling and loving these moments.  He is so determined to do everything himself, and I am lucky he is able to try.

I have tried so hard to get him to stay in his own bed all night, but I love waking up and seeing that this cute little guy has crawled into bed with me yet again.  He thinks my bed is warm and cozy, because I am there.  Who can argue with that?

I am so relieved that my boy is okay.  I am so happy I only dealt with this fear for 36 hours.  I hope it gives me a new appreciation for how lucky and blessed our lives are.  And that I hold onto this feeling.

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About mid-morning, we were told HJ was to head to get a bone scan.  They wanted to look beyond just the leg, to make sure whatever was there wasn’t elsewhere.  HJ wanted to ride in his racecar, with a nurse pushing his IV, myself pushing the car and my mom and sister joining in.  Partway through the Children’s Hospital, we noticed Herky the Hawk was standing at the check-in desk.  Everyone was excited to see him, so it seemed.  I knew that HJ really doesn’t like costumed mascots, and tried warning everyone.  I suggested walking by.  I frantically looked at Herky hoping he would get the hint.  HJ sat in his race car, stone faced.  I knew he was getting ticked.  For some reason, this encouraged Herky to get down by the car.  The nurse said to get a picture as HJ decided to get the hell out of there.  He broke free of the racecar, tugging at his IV. He started bawling, and freaking out.  He was clinging to me, and upset as can be. And then we were supposed to make him lay on an x-ray table.  The very thing that caused his first melt down the day before. He was still sobbing when we got to the lab.  He took one look at the table and tried making a break for it.  I was asked to hold him down as they tried to get some pictures.  They started about shoulder level.  By the time they had made it to his waist, not only was he still freaking out, but he was in desperate need of a bathroom.  Taking in IV fluids throughout the night made him have to go REAL bad.  They handed me a urinal and told him to go right there.  The kid who usually can’t go to the bathroom anywhere in public was told to pee in a cup I was holding while standing by this machine he despised and desperately wanted away from. They finally showed me the closest bathroom, and we made it inside just in time for HJ to pull his pants down and pee.  All over himself, the floor and me.  We hadn’t made it to the toilet.  So now, we are in a teeny, tiny bathroom.  HJ, myself, a ridiculously large IV stand, and we are standing in pee.  I cleaned up the floor as best I could, and took off HJ’s clothes.  He was upset at the situation and couldn’t stop crying.  I again felt completely out of control and the tears came. I asked if they had anything HJ could wear and I was handed a pair of children’s scrub pants.  I tried wrapping his wet clothes in paper towels and walked out.  I suggested to the tech’s it might be best if I wasn’t in there, and they took HJ in the room while I walked out the door.  And once again, I lost it.  I could hear my baby crying and there was nothing I could do to make him feel better. After a few minutes, the tech brought HJ out.  She mentioned how still he laid when I wasn’t in there.

We made it back to the room and were told the MRI had been scheduled for 2:30, someone would be up around 1:30 to bring us down. HJ still hadn’t eaten or drank anything.  Luckily, he wasn’t complaining.  My sister and her husband convinced me to go to the cafeteria with them.  I finished up a coffee, and ate some food, but couldn’t stand being in the cafeteria while my baby sat upstairs.  I made it back to the room and heard there had been a cracker that HJ found.  Nana swooped in and crushed it in his hand.  He was less than thrilled with her. We went back to the playroom, distracted him by bringing toys into the room and put in a movie.  I was laying in the bed with HJ when we were told it was time to go to the MRI.

For the MRI, HJ was going to be sedated.  He was given an iv with the “stuff” to put him to sleep, and he got to lay in my arms while this happened.  Once he was out, I laid him on the bed and gave him about a zillion kisses before heading back to the room.  We were told it would take about 30 minutes to an hour. After about 45 minutes, I was asking for my baby.

That is when the oncologist walked in the room.  Without HJ.  My heart dropped to the floor and I jumped up.  That is when she said that words that I had been needing to hear for 24 hours.

“It’s benign.”

The mass on his knee was benign.  The images from the bone scan showed clearly what it was.  It’s official label is an occeous lesion of the left femur.  The lesion is a benign cortical desmoid. I cried again, but tears of joy.  I hugged the oncologist.  It was what I had been hoping for, nothing. She said this was found through the bone scan and the MRI had yet to be read, but as of this moment, we were going to check out that day.  Once HJ got back to the room, woke up and had something to eat, we would be free to go.  I packed our bags instantly.

This is one of those days that I hope only happens once in a lifetime.  Where you can go from having the worst day of your life to be crying tears of joy.

The orthopedic team came in shortly after and shared the good news again.  They said we would just need to have imaging follow-up, but otherwise, we were free to go.  The nurse came in and gave us our check-out paperwork and said once HJ was back in the room, we would just have to wait a bit.

A little later, sleeping HJ was brought back into the room.  The anesthesiologist mentioned he woke up right before the end of the procedure, so they had to give him another dose.  He would be sleeping for a while longer.   My family waited patiently, but after a while my sister and her husband had to leave to get home.  My mom and I sat and waited.  And waited.  Poor boy was tired.  My mom left for a bit to do a few things, and as she did the orthopedic doctor came back in.

It turned out the MRI did show something else.  HJ had fluid in his hip.  This meant they might be doing testing tomorrow and we were no longer checking out.  The important thing is HJ is fine, we just needed to figure out this next step.

He left, and I was puzzled as to what this all meant.  I waited.  And waited.

Eventually the doctor came back in and said that HJ had something called Toxic Synovitis.  Basically, an infection that had not left his body (most likely a sinus infection a few weeks before) had caused the infection.  Instead of me rambling on how I interpreted it, here is some info:

Toxic synovitis, also known as transient synovitis, is the most common cause of hip pain in children. It is caused by a viral infection that sometimes (but not always) settles in the hip-joint. The virus causes swelling at the hip-joint, which makes walking painful. Usually just one hip is affected. But later on, the virus can pass to the other hip.

Toxic synovitis is more common in boys and affects preschool to early school-aged kids, but younger kids also can develop it.

Apparently, there is a nerve that goes from your hip to the knee.  This pain is what caused them to x-ray the knee.  It was by chance that the lesion in his knee was even found.  Had he not had the infection, this could have gone unnoticed.

Toxic Synovitis can turn bacterial.  In that case, they have to do a surgery to release the infected fluid.  I had to watch for fever, redness or pain.  HJ’s pain was getting less and less, so they felt it would stay viral.

I was told that we could still go home that night, but had to come back in 4 days to make sure it was clearing up.

Now I just needed HJ to wake up.  The doctor tried before leaving.  We tempted him with his dinner that had arrived.  Finally, I grabbed one of his cookies to enjoy while we waited.  While I was unwrapping the cookie, he opened his eyes, said, “THAT IS MINE”, grabbed the cookie and fell back asleep.

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He started to eat it while he was half asleep, but the cookie is what finally woke him from his slumber.

I got to share the good news that we could go home.  A nurse came in to give us new discharge paperwork and a prescription for the pain.  A doctor came and gave him his final check-up, and he insisted on making a last stop in the play room.  On this last trip, he got out of his racecar and said, “MOM WATCH!” and he ran 4 steps.  I about cried of happiness seeing how much better he was then the night before, and at how relived I was with our situation.

He got to go out cruising down the hallway.

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HJ had a follow-up after 4 days with the orthopedic team, and all went well.  He doesn’t have to see them again until November.  He has a follow-up with the oncologists in a few weeks.  HJ still has memories of the shot in his arm and getting pictures of his bones.  Things he really doesn’t want to have to do again.

But the good news is, he is okay.  My baby is okay!

hospital55 (2)“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way.  The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain.  The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.”

We arrived at the University of Iowa Hospital around 4:30 pm.  My mom pulled us up to the main entrance, and I pushed HJ in his stroller as he clung to his giraffe.  I approached the main desk and the lady asked me where I needed to go.  I opened my mouth and said, “3JC West” and then tears streamed down my face.  It was obvious the lady had this happen a time or two and she pushed Kleenex towards me and grabbed a map.  She told me to go left, to elevator H, and take a left after that.  HJ got excited about going to the H elevator and I took a deep breath and pushed forward.  I pulled myself together during the walk, and thought I was under control when we stepped off the elevator.  I took a left and walked.  And walked.  And realized I was coming to an end.  Frustrated, I looked at my map and turned in a circle.

A young women approached me and asked if I needed help.  I told her I was supposed to go to 3JC west and she said I had already walked by the pediatric hospital check-in.  This threw me for a loop.  I didn’t realize I was checking him in.  I don’t know what I thought, but I was certain my baby wasn’t supposed to be checked-in.  It was just an appointment.  And the tears came again.  She walked me to the check-in and let the nurse know I was there.  The nurse had been expecting us and told us to follow her.

She walked us to a bank of doors.  They closed behind us and opened to another bank of doors.  We were in the isolation area of the children’s hospital.  She led us to a room and told us we were lucky to get such a big room.  I snickered at the thought of luck.  And noticed the rooms around my son’s were decorated with signs, names and items that showed the patients behind those doors had been there for quite some time.

I was answering some questions when my sister and her family walked in, followed by my mom.  My dad arrived shortly after, and the room was crowded.  I was grateful for all the support.  HJ was so excited everyone was there to see him, and thought it was great fun.  The first round of nurses came in and talked for a bit.  Then the first round of doctors.  The doctors goofed around with HJ and warned him the nurses were mean.  They played with his giraffe and offered him stickers.

Then the nurses wanted to draw blood and start an IV.  The first vein blew.  Then the second.  HJ was screaming and crying.  The third vein wasn’t good.  They told me his veins were fragile.  The fourth and final attempt, I don’t even know what happened.  I was trying to distract HJ, but I heard the nurses cursing and laughing.  One ran to the sink to grab paper towels and I noticed blood all over the floor.  My sister’s face had turned white and she told me not to look.  Somehow, the IV got in, and they drew the blood they needed, but there was blood all over, HJ was upset, he needed the sheets changed from all the blood and once again, I felt out of control and broken.

We were finally able to place an order for food, and while we waited, another doctor walked in as I laid next to HJ.  She introduced herself and told me she was the oncologist.  She mentioned that she didn’t feel the CT was good quality and we would learn more from a bone scan and MRI.  She was going to wait for the blood work up, and if that showed an infection, they would immediately start antibiotic.  If not, we would wait until the next day.  THE NEXT DAY.  That meant we were staying over night.

I know that seems obvious, but it was that moment where I was overwhelmed with all the tests and procedures and blood and wondering how the hell my son suddenly had an oncologist when last night he had been running through a sprinkler.

I looked at the clock fully expecting it to say 9:30, it was almost 6pm.  This was the longest day ever.

The food came, and HJ thought it was awesome being fed every bite from his aunt while he laid in bed.  The nurses switched shifts, and HJ immediately liked his new nurse, Laura.  The oncologist came back in and showed us the blood results.  Everything was normal, and I could breathe a little.  But, just a little.


HJ asked to go to the play room and was so excited when the nurse showed him how he could travel, by a race car.  We played for a bit, and seeing HJ liven up a little and be giggle-y helped me calm down.  He would be fine.  He had to be fine.

We made it back to the room and said goodbye to the family.  HJ wanted me to sleep in the hospital bed with him, and of course, I was willing.  I snuggled up to my little boy while praying that everything would be okay.  About an hour later the nurse checked on him.  He stayed asleep.

At 1:45 I woke up.  I was wide awake.  There was no calming my anxiety.  I paced the room and checked my phone.  The nurse came in and out a few more times.  I tried laying back down knowing my mental state would be much better if I had some rest.  That just made me more anxious.

I knew HJ couldn’t have any food or drinks when he woke up, but I still didn’t know when his tests would be, and what they would be doing.  I just knew it was going to be a long day.

By 5:30, I gave up on sleep and jumped in the shower.  HJ got up at 6:30 and was ready to play.  He showed me he could straighten his leg a little and even stood up with a little help.  I prayed that was a glimmer of good things, but it did little to ease my mind.

The nurse came in and let me know that tests still hadn’t been set up yet, but she knew he would be sedated for an MRI.  I watched as she moved HJ’s IV so he could ride in the car to the play room, and I had to excuse myself.  I sat in the bathroom with tears flowing down my face and wondered how everything changed in the blink of an eye.

The wonderful nurse snuck in and said she would take HJ to the play room while I tried to pull myself together a bit.  I got the crying under control, and called his school to let them know he would be gone for the day.  His teacher’s voice wavered as she offered me encouraging words.  Hearing the crack in her voice made the tears start again.

I don’t know how some people can stay so strong in these situations.  I am not one of them.  I wanted to be strong for my son.  But I wasn’t.  He was the one offering me encouragement and patting me on the back.

I remember seeing other mom’s walking the halls.  They all had the same vacant expression I know I was wearing.  I saw 2 other moms break down in the hall.  Their tears brought mine back.  I don’t know what they were going through or what news they heard.  But I know that they probably felt just as helpless as I did.

Back in the room, the oncologist came to talk.  She was leaning towards a diagnosis of LCH.  She was quite certain it was LCH, like 90%.  The other 10% was cancer.  I felt weird thinking, yes, let’s hope for LCH.  But she described it in such a way, it felt manageable.

Until I googled it.  If you are ever in the hospital and the doctor gives you a “it might be…” scenario, NEVER google it.  Promise me.

Not only did it freak me out, but NONE of the signs lined up with my son.  His came on sudden, seemingly overnight.  He was running one night, and the next morning, couldn’t put weight on his leg.  Otherwise he felt fine.  Blood levels were fine.

While I was busy panicking and most likely crying, the orthopedic team came in.  When I told him what the oncologist had said, he shot back with a, “WHAT?!?! That is so rare, I don’t know why she would say that.  That is not something to lean towards at all.”

He did help calm me down a bit and said the MRI would really show us what was going on.


“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

Last Wednesday, HJ and I were going to have lots of fun.  My last day of work had been Tuesday, and I was taking the rest of the week off before starting my new job.  We had plans to run a few errands in the morning, and slip n’ slide the afternoon away.  I was looking forward to relaxing and hanging out with HJ before starting this new chapter in our lives.

I woke up at 6:15am to HJ opening his bedroom door.  He usually climbs into my bed and falls asleep for another hour or two.  I remember he was kind of whining on his way in and took a really long time to actually get in the bed, but he did, and we fell back asleep.  Around 7:15, I got up to get coffee and started picking through my box of things from my old office.  I thought it was weird HJ hadn’t come out of bed, but maybe he was tired.

I went back to check on him and asked why he was just sitting there.  He told me his legs were sleeping.  I figured he slept weird on them or just wasn’t ready to get up, so I checked some emails, took care of the dog and came back to the room.  He still insisted that his left leg hurt.

I warmed up a rice bag and told him it was medicine.  I said once it was cool, that his leg would be better.  I jumped in the shower, and got ready.  I went to take the bag off his leg and he told me the medicine wasn’t working yet.  I was getting a little worried.  By this time we had been up for well over an hour, and he hadn’t moved.  I told him I was going to put my purse in the car, and if he wasn’t able to stand when I came back, he would have to go to the doctor.  I thought that might break him of this funk.

But when I came back, he still hadn’t moved.  I went to pick him up and carry him over my hip.  his body stiffened, he cringed, and tears streamed down his face.

Something was wrong.

I got him in the car while he howled in pain and I drove to the Urgent Care close to our house.  I had no idea what could have happened.  The night before he had been running through the sprinkler and chasing kids around the house.  And now he couldn’t stand.

We met with the doctor and he seemed fairly confident HJ had injured his leg the night before, and it just swelled up over night.  He recommended Tylenol, and a wrap, but wanted to take an x-ray just to be certain.  HJ was decent through the x-rays, but I could tell he was in a lot of pain.  He couldn’t straighten his leg well, and this made it difficult.

We went back to the room and waited.

The x-ray tech came back in and said the doctor wanted a few more pictures.  I felt my heart drop.  I know what that means.  They saw something.  This time, the x=-ray was hard to do.  He was in a lot of pain and did not want to cooperate.  I had to physically pin him down while he wailed.  It was awful.  I felt horrible.  And I was so scared.

We went back to the room and sat down.  Within a few minutes, the doctor came in.  He mentioned there was “something” in the x-ray.  He wanted us to get a CT, and the nurse was working on the referral.  Meanwhile, he wanted to go over what they were looking for.  A tumor.  Possibly cancer.  And they needed to rule it out.

Tears streamed down my face as he offered to let HJ sit with the nurses while I call someone.  He suggested I have someone with me during the CT for support.  He let me know he was hoping for the best.  I just couldn’t believe what was happening.

I called my mom to meet us at the office where he would be getting the CT.  I cried the whole way there.  My poor baby.

We were called into the office to get the CT, my mom had to wait in the waiting room while I took HJ back by myself.  He saw the table similar to the x-ray machine and freaked.  The techs tried calming him down with stickers and I was showing him pictures on my phone.  But we couldn’t get him to hold still.  He is 3 and scared.  He thought they were trying to kill him.  He wanted out.  After a few attempts, they said they think they got enough and put HJ, my mom and myself in a private room with a phone so the doctor could call me.

I call HJ’s pediatrician, who instantly called the other doctor.  I was told the CT scan was being reviewed by someone else, a specialist, after the first reviewer asked for a 2nd opinion.  I knew a 2nd opinion meant there was something there.  If it was fine, you don’t need 2 people to look it over.  I asked the doctor if he should head to the hospital in Iowa City (the best in the state), he said it was a possibility.

The pediatrician  told me to go home and wait for a few minutes, but let me know they were thinking about sending us to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.  On the way out of the building, one of the techs followed us out.  She said that sometimes they just need second opinions and it didn’t necessarily mean anything.  I asked her if she thought I should just go home and start packing for the trip to Iowa City.  She said to wait, but hesitated.

I got my baby home and made sure he was as comfortable as possible on the couch.  And the phone rang.  HJ’s pediatrician said he had a referral for us to go to Iowa City and to get there as soon as we could.

I started throwing things in a bag while my mom ran to pick up the CT images from the clinic.  I couldn’t believe what was happening.  Less than 18 hours before my child was running down the street and now I was taking him to a Children’s Hospital.

I quickly loaded the car and got HJ comfortable with a movie.  By 3pm that day, we were heading to the hospital in Iowa City, knowing my son couldn’t walk, something was seen on the images, and we had a team of doctor’s expecting us.

I would like to say I was staying strong for my son, but I wasn’t.  I was a mess.  I was confused.  I was more terrified then I had ever been in my life.  I couldn’t hold it together.  The hour and a half drive seemed to take forever.  I drove part of the way, I needed to keep distracted. After a while, I asked my mom to drive.  I had tons of missed calls and numerous texts asking what was going on after I posted a facebook request for prayers.  I talked to a few friends and updated everyone else over facebook.  I couldn’t stand to tell the story over and over.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. The content and opinions expressed here are all my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of General Mills. Compensation was provided by General Mills via Clever Girls Collective.


Working full-time, outside of the house, means dinner needs to be something that I can whip together.  By the time I pick HJ up from school and get home, I have 30-45 minutes before my child will just absolutely die of hunger.  And on top of that, who wants to work all day and come home to spend an hour or two in the kitchen?  Not me.

In the summer, I usually throw something on the grill, but now that fall has begun, I love comfort foods for dinner.

HJ has always loved Chicken Pot Pie, and I have 2 go to recipes.  One we recently made in a rush on a Monday night, is from Pillsbury, and it only took about 30 minutes, start to finish!

chicken pot pie rec cardI threw the soup, veggies and chicken in a saucepan until it boiled.  I made sure it boiled a couple of minutes, because this helps to cook the biscuits on top and make sure they aren’t doughy.  Once it was good and boiling, I poured it into an ungreased 13×9 baking dish.  Then, I opened up the biscuits and cut them in half length-wise.  I placed the biscuits on top of the mixture, and threw it in the oven for about 18 minutes at 375 degrees.


HJ and I gobbled it up, and saved the rest for leftovers.


If you are looking for a new and simple dinner recipe, check out this booklet from Pillsbury.  I have a feeling HJ will love the Pepperoni Pizza Bake.  Which one will you be trying?  Any easy week night recipes you love?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. The content and opinions expressed here are all my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of General Mills. Compensation was provided by General Mills via Clever Girls Collective.


I don’t have my usual Friday post.  I had nothing prepared when this week happened.  I had an experience I wish upon no parent.  I hope to God I never have to go through it again.  If you follow me on twitter, instagram or facebook, you saw some of this.  Today I am just trying to breathe and focus.

HJ’s name is Harrison James.  I love it.  It fits him perfect.  It is after my grandpa “Harry” and my dad “James”.  The fact that it is family names makes it so meaningful.  So no, I wasn’t a huge Indiana Jones fan, and it isn’t after Harrison Ford.

Although, that may just be a Halloween costume!

That’s not to say a lot of boy names didn’t go through my head…this one just happened to be at the top.

The first time the name crossed my radar was about a month before I knew I was pregnant.  Which means, I was pregnant at the time.  I had the TV on, and the credits from some kid movie were on.  I saw the name Harrison flash across the screen, and thought it was cute.  I told myself it would be a great way to honor my grandparents and made a mental note to remember it.

Then, I learned I was pregnant.

Originally, I liked Logan or Harrison.  However, that week I looked at the “new additions” section of the paper and there were 3 Logan’s born that week alone.  I knew I wanted a name that was a little unique, yet everyone could pronounce or spell it.

Then I threw out a lot of names…Greyson, Jameson, Drew, Brayden…

The girl names had left me unsure.  I liked Harper, Piper, Chloe, Emersyn and Madilyn, but nothing clicked like Harrison did.

The final list was Bennett, Nolan or Harrison.  Bennett almost won due to its meaning (little blessed one).  But with the family meaning thrown in, Harrison always led the pack.

Until a week before my delivery date.  “I think I decided on Mason”.

It was cute.  Boy-like.  I didn’t know any Masons.  But I also had no idea why I suddenly changed my mind.  It just seemed overwhelming to be in charge of naming a baby.  For its WHOLE LIFE.  That’s some scary stuff.

But he was still my little Harrison James.  Always.

My own name was picked by my parents who heard the name being called out on a ski-slope in Colorado.  I have a feeling they were drinking at the time, so thank God it was a normal name they overheard.  Rumor has it I was born 9 months later.

How did you pick your child’s name?  Does it mean something special?  Does it hold family meaning?  Is it cute?  Fun? Sophisticated?


Did you enter the Woolzies giveaway???

True Random Number Generator 3

Kristy E., you won!!  I will send you an email 🙂


Fall, by far, is my favorite season.  There is just something about snuggling up with a sweatshirt on, a chill in the air and leaves changing colors.  This past weekend, in an effort to bring fall to Iowa, I made my kitchen into a fall baking zone.  To start off the day, I began to prepare yummy, fall-y, Crockpot Hot Apple Cider with Mott’s Apple Juice.


Ready for the easiest recipe?


I think you can handle that one.  And the house?!  Yum.  It smells like fall.

While the Apple Cider is heating things up in the crockpot, I decided to bake some Easy Pumpkin Cupcakes.


The cupcakes were made using a box of Spice Cake Mix, adding in a can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, but pumpkin, talk about leaving me flabbergasted in the aisle, why are there both?  What’s the difference?).  Here is the easy recipe to get some tasty, dense cupcakes:


Once the cupcakes had cooled and the kitchen smelled like apple cinnamon bliss, the fun part arrived.  I pulled out the Fall M&M’s and parchment paper.  In a plastic Ziploc baggie, I melted chocolate chips, and cut off the corner (just a super, small piece!).  I then started making M&M bugs, using the M&M’s as the body and drawing on the creepy crawly legs.


Not all of them turned out, it did take a few practice tries (but they still taste delicious).  The trick was making the “legs” thick enough that once they dried, you could use a spatula to pull them off the paper and gently place them on the yummy, pumpkin-y goodness.

6harvestfun#shop - Copy

I also made the mini cupcakes into cute ghost cupcakes.  To do this, I used a decorator tip and swirled the frosting onto the cupcake, then I stuck on 2 M&M eyes.


My favorite cupcakes were M&M Mummies.  I stuck 2 M&Ms on the cupcakes as eyes, using the frosting as glue.  I put the cream cheese frosting in a plastic bag and put a decorator tip on.  I made criss-cross stripes around the eyes to give it a wrapped look.


For the non-creepy cupcake lovers, I made a few with M&M polka-dots.


Those were clearly the easiest :).  I used a store brand container of Cream Cheese Frosting for all of the cupcakes, but you could use plain vanilla as well.  The cupcakes turned out both scrumptious and creepy! What are some of your favorite fall recipes?

For more great ideas visit the Fall Baking and Entertaining Pinterest Board.