Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Treasuring each moment without going insane

First time at a water park.

Right now my sons are 5 and 2 and sometimes I feel like all I hear is how I’m supposed to treasure each moment.

I know I’ll probably lose Mommy points for saying it, but it’s become somewhat of a sore spot. Don’t get me wrong – I try, but when I’m really concentrating on it, I start to get overwhelmed. How am I supposed to treasure each moment when life is moving so fast? As a working Mom, there’s a lot of scheduling to contend with and small milestones feel like they’re flying by: kindergarten Christmas program, a second birthday, Christmas morning, playing in the ice (they thought it was snow and at one point I just gave up and let them play in it.) So there I am, snapping pictures and trying to burn the images into my memory – all the while treasuring. Each. Moment.

It’s just too much.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Meeting our children

It felt like a first date even though I haven’t had a first date since I first started dating my husband 20 years ago. I guess looking back on it now; it was our first date and also the prelude to a few more “first dates”.

My husband and I were both shuffling around in the bathroom  trying to figure out what we were going to wear,  discussing what would we say, and chatting about what questions may be asked.

I really didn’t give it much thought as silly as it may sound but I could tell my husband wanted to make a good first impression.  He wanted to make a good impression when meeting David and Grace for the first time.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Breastfeeding woes to joy

When I was pregnant and people would ask if I planned to breastfeed my answer was always I hope to do so. I had seen too many friends struggle with breastfeeding forced to go the route of exclusive pumping or just plain not be able to make it work. So while I fervently hoped, I also was realistic that it could be tough and that ultimate success was out of my hands.

Little did I know what was in store for me though.

First we’d struggled with infertility (strike one). I didn’t know it at the time, but I’m told that the hormonal issues often tied to infertility can also affect breastfeeding, according to one of the many lactation consultations I met with in this journey. Born at 36 weeks and two days my daughter was a preemie (Strike two). I had a c-section(strike 3) because my daughter was breech. If this were a baseball game we’d be out. Yet the strikes kept coming. Nursing sessions left both of us frustrated and in tears (another strike because stress is about as anti-successful breastfeeding as you can get.). I desperately wanted her to breastfeed for many of the reasons she was having trouble which made me feel like I was failing her at something that was supposed to be so natural. A family friend pulled me aside about six weeks in and half joked that there’s nothing natural about breastfeeding. I had to agree, at least with learning how to breastfeed. There may be natural instincts but it isn’t just getting your child in position and nature takes over. At least not in our case, that’s for sure.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Why Do You Like Christmas?

The task was simple, or so I thought.  For this post, I wanted to ask my kids why they like Christmas.  When the camera was off, the question was easy, but once the camera started rolling, it was a little more difficult, apparently. 

I asked Preston and Emory to introduce themselves, tell how old they are and share why they like Christmas.  Preston went first. 

Preston, Age 6

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Oh Christmas Tree!

What a difference a year makes.  This time last year I was certainly very happy and blessed to see Shelby enjoy her first Christmas, but fast forward to 2013 and what a transformation!

Though she has not fully grasped the entire concept, to see her excitement and wonderment over the decorations, the presents, and Santa takes Christmas to a whole new level.  She is fully obsessed with Sesame Street and all of its fuzzy muppets, so shopping for gifts has been really fun versus last year when a pacifier or a sippy cup of milk was higher on her list of favorite things.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

What my toddler really wants for Christmas

Jake, my 2-year-old, is finally old enough to kind of understand Christmas. He can successfully identify Santa, he’s obsessed with watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey version), and every time we drive past one of the many flamboyantly lit-up houses in our neighborhood he points and exclaims “Christmas!”

But when you ask him whether he wants to open presents on Christmas morning, he shakes his head no. I’m not sure why. I can only guess it’s because he suspects his parents will be oh-so-unoriginal and gift things like Mega Blocks and Fisher Price doodads and not anything he really wants.

Here’s what I think Jake would really want for Christmas:

Unlimited bath time
If he could, he'd live in the bathtub.

Monday, December 23, 2013

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year (And Busiest)

How is it already just a few days before Christmas?

It has felt like the last three months have flown by and I don’t know where the time has gone. Starting with Thanksgiving week until now, we have had multiple things on our calendar and “to do list” every weekend and most weeks.

I wanted so badly to have time to relax and enjoy the Christmas Season at home with my family, but just knew that would have to wait until after Christmas Day. Until a change came our way in the DFW area, 2013 Ice Storm!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Sam’s wearing me out

Sam’s wearing me out. We’ve been doing Elf on the Shelf for several years now, and I’m really looking forward to H. figuring out that the parents are moving the elf.

She’s so close to figuring it out, too. I downloaded a calendar of Elf suggestions off the Internet and had it folded up in my purse. H. was rummaging through and pulled it out and read it out loud. “Elf on the Shelf calendar. Mommy, why do you have this in your purse?”

The best defense is a good offense. "Aren’t you supposed to be doing something else? What are you doing in my purse?”

Attention diverted.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Do you really need your one-a-day?

With vitamin shops popping up everywhere and stores lining the shelves with different supplement products many people wonder if they need to be purchasing one-a-day vitamins, vitamin C, B vitamins and the like. Magazine and store advertisements lead us to believe that we only get vitamins and minerals from a bottle on the shelf.  While vitamins and supplements can help some people meet their nutrition needs, eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods is the best way for most people to obtain the nutrients they need to be healthy and reduce their risk of chronic disease, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Two newly published articles indicate there is no clear benefit for healthy individuals to consume vitamin and mineral supplements.  If someone is deficient in a particular vitamin or mineral, then supplementing might benefit that person by helping them get back to normal levels in the body.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Winter Recipe: Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

Needing a super simple dinner idea in the midst of holiday hustle and bustle? Toss this recipe in the slow cooker tomorrow morning for a delish dinner in the evening.

Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

1 pound chicken breasts
2 cups salsa
1 can black beans, drained
1 can chopped green chiles
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 cup frozen corn
Cheese, guacamole, sour cream and/or green onions for garnish

Place chicken breasts, salsa, beans, green chiles and chili powder in slow cooker. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours.  The last 30 minutes, add in corn.

When ready to serve, take two forks and shred chicken right in slow cooker.  Top tortillas and add your favorite toppings. Enjoy!

Amber Massey, RD, LD is a dietitian in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and Mom of twin girls.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Secrecy

Elliot is 2 ½ years old this holiday season, and his level of engagement compared to last year’s is quite remarkable. Last year he was able to open his presents and was genuinely excited to see what he received. However, leading up to Christmas, he didn’t exhibit much in the way of anticipation or even awareness.

This year is quite different. I knew something had changed when he noticed that our local shopping center had put up its Christmas tree around Thanksgiving time and immediately started asking me when I was going to put up ours. This continued as he joyfully “assisted” in the tree decoration and has generally been in the holiday spirit 24/7 – as the little toy snowman who loudly sings “Frosty the Snowman” can attest. The fact that I haven’t broken that toy speaks more to my character than any public act of charity ever could.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sharing the Holiday Spirit

Today Santa brought gifts for preemies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth -- little caps he knitted himself! Who knew Santa was so crafty?

He shared some of his caps with newborns in the hospital's mother/baby unit, too.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Baby's First Christmas

I’ve never been one to go all out for presents for little kids until they are old enough to really realize what’s going on. I figure between grandparents and others, little kids get enough “stuff” – and then some usually. But as my first Christmas as a Mom approaches, I find my head and heart are on two different pages.

My head: I want to stick with what I’ve always done for others. Our 12-week-old daughter has no actual material needs this Christmas. She still has yet to even really understand a rattle and she’s got several of those already. She’s got plenty of clothes. And honestly she’s not going to understand what’s happening anyway.

My heart: But it’s her first Christmas! Shouldn’t there be a picture of her with the most perfect and meaningful first present from her loving parents? What will she think if she sees photos and her only presents come from the grandparents who I know aren’t planning to listen when we say she doesn’t need anything? I will admit some of this is probably coming from the dreaded Mommy guilt as I have returned to work.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Moving Forward

A day I believed wouldn’t come soon enough finally happened. I had my doubts and concerns, but my baby girl started crawling forward, and that accomplishment made us both very happy.

Since she was nine months old, Talia had been crawling backward and rolling. She’d even get up on all fours and rock back and forth, as if motivating herself to jump out of the starting blocks and crawl her way into a wonderful world of exploration.

Then, a day before she turned eleven months old, my chunky baby crawled to me on wobbly legs and arms. I started clapping and singing her name. After repositioning herself into a sitting position, she began smiling and clapping her hands, too.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Why must high fashion models be worship worthy?

For 14 and a half years I’ve done my best to raise strong daughters with compassionate hearts, impeccable manners and lots of smarts. I’ve worked overtime emphasizing brains over beauty and kindness over material things.

As any parent knows, it is a daily challenge to instill quality over quantity and flash, what with the barrage of social media and media sites our teens are immersed in daily.

I thought we were doing pretty good (all three were making all As, using their napkins at the dinner table, being responsible in all facets of life) and then the suggestion was made to watch the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. (It was all Twitter, Instagram and CNN were talking about!!)

We’ve caught glimpses of the show in past years and the girls are already giddy year-round about VS’s PINK store at the mall, you know the one with all the glitter, sparkle and “crazy about you” and “email me” pajamas.

But this year was different while watching it with one teen and one almost teen.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winter Recipe: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Still thawing out from the ice storm? Warm the family up with this easy slow cooker chicken tortilla soup recipe.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 pound chicken breast (thawed or frozen, it doesn't matter)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 package lower sodium taco seasoning
1 can cream corn
1 cup frozen corn kernels
3/4 cup fat free half and half
Chopped green onion, sour cream, shredded cheese to garnish

In your slow cooker, add in chicken breasts, black beans, northern beans, Rotel, stock and taco seasoning.  Cook on low 6 hours or on high 3 hours.

Remove lid and shred chicken right inside of slow cooker using two forks.  Stir in cream corn and frozen corn kernels and keep lid off cooking another 20 minutes on high (this will let some of the liquid evaporate and give you a thicker soup).

 Right before you're ready to serve, stir in your half and half. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish. Enjoy!

Amber Massey, RD, LD, is a dietitian and Mom of twins in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Monday, December 9, 2013

After infertility struggles, an amazing path to childbirth

Shiloh Morris and her husband, Kevin, were married when she was just 19 and he was 20. They always knew they wanted children, but there some health issues that stood the way.

Shiloh has a bicornuate uterus. Instead of the normal pear-shape, her uterus looks more like a heart ― with a deep indentation at the top ― making conception, labor and delivery problematic and often leading to miscarriage. She was also diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, one of the most common causes of female infertility in the United States.

After seeing a number of fertility specialists, undergoing four unsuccessful tries at intrauterine insemination and experiencing two miscarriages, the couple decided to adopt. Shiloh and Kevin welcomed baby Nevaeh (heaven spelled backwards) into their lives from foster care three years ago. The Morris family was finally a happy family of three.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Toddler's Snow Day

Step 1: Let Mommy and Daddy layer on the warm winter-wear.

(A movie quote comes to mind: "Getting ready to go to school was like getting ready for extended deep-sea diving." -- Ralphie, A Christmas Story)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday Nutrition: Maintain Don’t Gain!

Did you know the average person gains 2-7 pounds throughout the holidays?!  From Halloween candy to Thanksgiving pies to Christmas baking to New Year’s cocktails…it is easy to add a few pounds.  So let’s check out how you can avoid common nutrition holiday pitfalls this season!

Eating on the Run
The holidays bring lots of errands, lots of shopping, and thus lots of eating on-the-go.  From drive thrus to mall food courts it is easy to grab a bite and get back to the shopping.  So here are some ways to eat fast and eat healthy.
  • Order a grilled chicken sandwich, wrap or salad & get the sauce on the side
  • Sub a salad, fruit cup, yogurt parfait or carton of milk for french fries
  • Skip the soda, milkshake, and sweet tea and go with water

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Getting Into the Christmas Spirit

I absolutely love me some Christmas. I love the lights and the music and the special feeling you get when everything seems to be decorated with tinsel and bells – and of course I love setting up our Christmas tree. But I will admit that as I’ve gotten older I have to make sure I’m in the right frame of mind before I decorate.

Now that I’m solidly in my 30s with a husband, two children and a full-time career, it’s easy to make decorating for Christmas just one more thing on the to-do list. Get the dog groomed, go pick up milk and decorate the house for Christmas – check, check, check. Case in point: last weekend. On Friday night we decorated the house and I was exhausted from Thanksgiving and just not feeling particularly Christmasy. There were house chores to do, I needed to get my children off the Thanksgiving sugar high they were on and I really just wanted a nap. But there I was, dragging totes out of closets to fetch the Christmas stockings, decorations and lights – almost like it was some dreaded chore that needed to be finished.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bedtime Battles

Like most toddlers, mine fights bedtime. He comes by it honestly; he’s a night owl like his Momma and Daddy. Granted, some of it is dictated by Mommy and Daddy’s schedule. We go into the office a little later, which means we leave a little later, so dinner isn’t usually until 6:30. Then there’s bath, downtime (hey, I gotta get my snuggles in!), and finally, bedtime. We aim for 8:30, but many nights it’s closer to 9:00. And when we’re not on a school schedule? Fugehddabout it. . .he’s happily awake until after 9:30. Now, don’t worry, he also usually sleeps in. If we don’t have to wake him up for school, he’ll often sleep until 8:30 or 9 in the morning (please don’t throw things at me – I have plenty of Mommy guilt about how late he’s up at night).

Monday, December 2, 2013

Trip Envy

Recently, my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary and as we do every other year, we decided to take a small getaway trip. This year, we chose to visit New Orleans, a city that is near and dear to my heart from growing up in Louisiana.

Once we’d decided, we began mapping out our visit. One night as we’re double checking our itinerary, our daughter, who’d been put to bed over an hour before, yells from her bed that we’d forgotten one thing: her. Nowhere in our conversation had she heard her name mentioned or any activities that she might like for that matter.

Friday, November 29, 2013

What to do with Turkey Day leftovers

Looking for a way to spice up Thanksgiving Day leftovers?  Try this warm-you-up dish with yesterday's turkey:

Roasted Poblano & Turkey Tortilla Soup

3 large Poblano peppers, seeded and halved lengthwise
2 teaspoons canola oil
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons ground chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
4 cups water
3 cups fat-free, lower-sodium organic chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can golden hominy, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 ounce) can Stewed Tomatoes, undrained (Mexican Style, if available)
4 cups leftover shredded cooked turkey breast
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup roasted unsalted pumpkinseed kernels
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
1 cup crushed tortilla chips (I used blue corn)
1 sliced avocado (optional)
Lime wedges (optional)

Preheat broiler.  Place pepper halves, skin side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 6 minutes or until blackened. Place in a paper bag, and fold to close tightly. Let stand for 15 minutes. Peel and chop; set aside.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add chili powder and oregano; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in 4 cups water, broth, tomatoes, and hominy; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Stir in peppers and turkey; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in cilantro and salt; cook 3 minutes.

Ladle about 1 1/3 cups soup into each of 8 bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon pumpkinseed kernels, 1 tablespoon green onions, and 1 tablespoon cheese. Serve with lime wedges and crushed tortilla chips, if desired.

Nutrition Information: Serves 8 (1 1/3 cup each)
Calories: 213; Fat: 6.8 g; Carbohydrate: 13.8 g; Fiber: 3.2 g; Protein: 25.4 g

What’s your favorite leftover turkey dish to make?

Amber Massey, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks

Today it seems we are so focused on our own lives, that it takes the holidays to bring us back to the reality of the world in which we live.  So often we take for granted that we have family to spend time with, food on our table, a home to live in and friends to enjoy.  What are we doing to help teach our children that though they may not get everything they want, they have so much?  I am challenging us all on this Thanksgiving day to help us show our love and thankfulness.  

Here are a few tips to help your children learn how to give back during Thanksgiving and Christmas:

•    Help serve meals to those in need on Thanksgiving Day.
•    Donate food items to help local food pantries.
•    Talk about what you are thankful for:  family, friends, church, jobs, homes, food, etc.
•    Pack a shoebox to send across the world to help a less fortunate child enjoy Christmas.  Learn more at www.samaritanspurse.org
•    Adopt an Angel to help benefit a child or family in your community.
•    Spend time with your family and tell each person what is so special about him/her.  Everyone needs to hear how special he/she is to your family. 

Feel free to share your ideas and what you enjoy most about this time of year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Julie Swink works in Brand Management & Promotions for Texas Health Resources and is a Mom of two.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Taste of Home for the Holidays

I’ll never forget the first time I heard my husband talk about his beloved holiday Green Jello Dish.

He and his sister used to make two batches, he’d said – one to share for the family holiday celebration on Thanksgiving or Christmas, and one they could secretly hoard away to gobble up just the two of them. I’ve never seen him talk about food more passionately than when he talks about that Green Jello Dish.   

I’ll be honest – to me the ingredients in this concoction sounded barf-tastic. Lime Jello…cream cheese…those sickly-sweet jarred cherries…really? Of all the pumpkin pie, frosted cookie, chocolate cheesecake options in the holiday sugar-fest cornucopia, this dessert is his number one pick?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Eat This, Not That: Surviving Thanksgiving Dinner

Did you know the average person gains seven pounds throughout the holidays?

From Halloween candy to Thanksgiving pies to Christmas baking to New Year’s cocktails, it’s easy to add a few pounds. Check out how you can avoid common nutrition holiday pitfalls this season–starting with the meal that typically leaves you stuffed and on the couch watching football all afternoon.

There are a variety of Thanksgiving dishes that are scrumptious, but lower in calories. Take a look at how you can “fine-tune” your indulging, making it easy to treat yourself without killing your waistline:

Have a Happy Holiday!

Monday, November 25, 2013


This week every year I really look and realize everything I have to be thankful for.

Yes, I am thankful all year long and try not to take things for granted. But with Thanksgiving this week I am thinking more and more about the things I am thankful for.

A few years back, I took a lot of things for granted and really just lived day to day. It took just a quick turn in my life to really sit down and realize all that I have been blessed with. Wow, God really has blessed my family, friends and me more than I could ever have imagined. I love more than anything that I am able to serve my family each and every day. Even just in the small things like listening to them tell a story about something that happened to them during the day. My husband and two daughters put a smile on my face and fill my heart.

I challenge you this week and every week throughout the year to look through the small window of life and see what God is doing for you and through you each and every day.  I can promise you even in the hardest days, God has a plan for you and your life.

Be Blessed this Thanksgiving!

Stephanie Abernathy is a Mom of two in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who works at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford. She is wife to Clint Abernathy, administrative director of business optimization and ancillary services at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Alliance

Friday, November 22, 2013

Love conquers all

I believe that three of the most powerful words in the English language are “I love you.”

When I was a kid, my parents worked all sorts of odd jobs and had odd hours. I could always count on my dad leaving a note on the counter with instructions and an “I love you” written on it. My parents taught us that we should always end every conversation with those words.

Fast forward to today, and we still keep that habit. I model it for my children. I tell them and my husband that I love them at random times. And apparently they’re noticing.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ten Tips for Turkey Day

We’re just one week away from pumpkin pie, turkey with cranberry and sweet potato casserole! Are you hosting Thanksgiving at your home this year? Follow these tips for a safe and happy holiday for your family this turkey day:
  • Thaw safely. Defrost the turkey in the refrigerator at 40 degrees for 24 hours for every four or five pounds before cooking it.
  • Wash your hands! Use warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling any food.
  • Don’t rinse the bird. Rinsing raw meat and poultry before cooking can spread bacteria to areas around the sink and countertops.
  • Double up on cutting boards. Consider using one cutting board only for raw meat and poultry and another one for things like raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Check your food temps. Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry, and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature. To check a turkey for safety, insert a food thermometer into the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. The turkey is safe when the temperature reaches 165°F. If the turkey is stuffed, the temperature of the stuffing should be 165°F.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Our journey of adopting has led us down a path that my husband and I never could have dreamed. When we started a few years ago, we both had a very unreasonable and dreamy vision of being able to adopt rather quickly.  

We submitted our home study seventeen times with our placement agency to various agencies in our region.  We were in the middle of an emotional tug of war that was starting to wear upon me. While I tried my best to stop thinking about each child’s biography and photo that was shared with us as a possible adoption, their biographies and their faces are etched in my memory still to this day.  

I started to give up hope that we would ever adopt. It had gotten to the point my husband and I started thinking this wasn’t meant to be.  As much as I didn’t want to admit it, I started believing it myself.  We both agreed that when we returned from our family vacation we would make a decision if we should continue trying to adopt.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fall Recipe: Mexican Chicken Tamale Casserole

Try out this simple, delish casserole dish the whole family will enjoy!

Mexican Chicken Tamale Casserole

2 boneless, skinless chicken     
   breasts, cooked and shredded 
2 (10.5oz) cans 98% fat free
   cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups fat free plain Greek
1 packet low sodium taco seasoning mix
1 packet ranch dressing mix
2 (10oz) cans RoTel, drained
1 (15oz) can no added salt black beans, rinsed and
1 (15oz) can pinto beans, rinsed and  
1 (11oz) can Mexicorn, drained
18 corn tortillas
3 cups 2% shredded cheese (cheddar)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine cream of chicken soup, Greek yogurt, and seasoning packets. Stir in chicken and remaining ingredients, except the tortillas and cheese.

Lightly spray a 9x13 casserole dish cooking spray.

Layer 6 tortillas in the bottom of the dish. Pour half of the chicken mixture over top. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat layers, starting with tortillas, then remaining chicken mixture and 1/3 of cheese. Top with remaining tortillas and sprinkle with last 1/3 of cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted.

Optional: Top finished casserole with chopped tomato, shredded lettuce, avocado, and sliced black olives.

Amber Massey, RD, LD, is a dietitian in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Delay of Game

It’s as if overnight our sweet, compliant child has decided that he is a card-carrying adult member of our household. He takes this new status seriously, letting us know his opinion on everything, from what we eat, watch or read to where we go, and he even chimes in on directions while we are on the way.

It amazes me how much this little guy notices at the young age of 2 ½. A couple of weeks ago, on our usual route to school, I had to make a quick stop to drive through a restaurant. This caused me to turn left instead of right leaving our neighborhood. As soon as the car started to turn left, I hear from the back seat, “Don’t go that way, Daddy.” It was funny at first, but about 10 minutes later, as I was still trying to explain to him that I did in fact know exactly what I was doing, it had passed from being cute to just annoying.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mom of two: 'My pulmonary embolism was an eye-opener'

Gracie Galindo knew the dizzy spells she’d been experiencing for weeks were not normal.

At first, the busy attorney and Mom of two from Azle, TX thought it was just stress and told herself she’d rest more.

"I was too busy taking care of my family to realize something bad was happening," 42-year-old Gracie said.

Then the shoulder pains began. She thought she’d pulled a muscle, but the pain kept getting worse until she began having trouble breathing.

“I kept thinking, I am not having a heart attack,” she said. “Something about the pain just didn’t seem to fit with a heart attack.”

Thursday, November 14, 2013

'I’m not a baby, I’m a Nandi'

As I look at my firstborn continue to mature before my eyes, a famous quote by James Baldwin comes to mind: “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”

Little Nandi lives up to Baldwin’s quote on a daily basis. And she’s quick to remind me that she’s a growing girl. I love wrapping her up in my arms and smothering her with kisses. I’ll then ask her if she’s my baby. Her response: “No, mama. I’m not a baby. I’m a Nandi!” Then she’ll run off, far away from me, to occupy her time doing more important things, I guess.

One of her pastimes is driving her car. Nandi’s car, mind you, is her bright red tricycle. She has her very own keychain, full of whistles and mini-flashlights, which she calls her keys. She’ll grab her “keys” and hop onto her “car” peddling as fast as her little legs can go, riding all over the house. As an afterthought, she’ll stop and say, “Bye! I gotta go shopping!”

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

11-12-13: A Memorable Birth Day

What was the first thing Laine Moses did after she scheduled her C-section for 11-12-13? Text the mom of her kids' cousin born on 10-11-12 last year.

"I just thought, 'that would be a cool birthday to have,'" she said. "It was just one of those coincidences, things just lined up that way."

For health reasons Laine needed to schedule a C-section delivery with Dr. Bannie Tabor, maternal-fetal medicine specialist, during the 37th week of pregnancy -- and that week happened to include 11-12-13. So she excitedly picked that date for her special delivery. The next sequential date is next year, 12/13/14, and after that there will not be another sequential date for another century.

Dorothy Elaine Moses was born at 7:54 a.m. yesterday weighing 7 lbs, 8 oz, healthy and happy. She was delivered via gentle C-section at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, a somewhat new method that involves immediate skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby in the operating room.

"As soon as they put her on my chest, she stopped crying," Laine said. "It was cool to have that instant bonding experience so many moms miss out on with (traditional) C-sections. The doctors and nurses made it so easy and were really supportive."

Congratulations to Laine and her family!

Laine Moses is a stay-at-home-Mom to Henry, Lucy and now Dorothy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fall Recipe: Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

Need an easy-peasy dinner idea for tonight? Try out this Chicken Spaghetti Casserole dish. Enjoy it tonight or freeze it for another day.

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (I use rotisserie chicken)
2 cups uncooked spaghetti noodles, broken into 2-inch pieces (about 7 ounces)
1 cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices celery
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (10.75-ounce) cans condensed 30% reduced-sodium 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.

Combine broth, salt, pepper, and soup in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Add soup mixture to chicken mixture; toss.

Layer mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1 cup cheese over casserole. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes. 

You can freeze this casserole and from frozen, bake at 350 covered for 55 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes until bubbly. 

Amber Massey, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Exercise during pregnancy may help baby's brain

Here's another reason to get moving while pregnant: a new study found that as little as 20 minutes of exercise three times per week can help boost baby's brain.

Researchers at the University of Montreal found that the babies of mothers in the study who exercised had brains that were more fully developed.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Bucket list adventure: Traveling across country by train

Getting on the train, I knew we made the right choice. When we first decided to take a train to visit my husband’s family this past summer, I was excited but nervous. I hadn’t been on a train longer than an hour before, so 24 hours seemed a bit daunting. Had we packed well? Were the pillows and blankets we brought going to be sufficient?

I’m a nervous flyer and I find traveling by car can get stressful. So this seemed like a great solution. Our kids are finally old enough to be helpful when we travel, so off we went.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Leighton's Gift

My husband, Chris, and I were married on July 23, 2005.  We knew right away that we wanted to become parents, but like many people, our journey to having children was a long one. 

After years of tests, treatments, and failed domestic and international adoption applications, we were blessed to become pregnant with twins. We knew they were our miracle babies and could not wait to meet them. 

When I was a cheerleader and gymnast, my small size was an asset, but when I am pregnant, being only 4’10” becomes an issue. There just isn’t as much room – even breathing is difficult.  We both knew that carrying twins would be a hard pregnancy for me, and expected bed rest and maybe time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fall Recipe: Slow Cooker Corn and Sausage Chowder

Craving something warm on this chilly fall afternoon? Try out this healthy, easy-to-make corn and sausage chowder recipe:

Slow Cooker Corn and Sausage Chowder

1 pound of chicken or turkey sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 (16 oz) package of frozen corn
3 red skinned or new potatoes, chopped (you don't need to peel these types of potatoes)
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk (I used 1% or 2%)
Salt and Pepper

In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown up your sausage until it's cooked through and crumbly.

In your slow cooker, layer your cooked sausage, onion, corn, potatoes and stock.  Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours or on high 3 hours.

Right before you're ready to serve your soup, stir in your milk and let it sit about 5 minutes or so.

Ladle soup into bowls and enjoy!

Amber Massey, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The ‘poor second child’ syndrome

To say that I documented each of my first son’s milestones would be an understatement.

I took an embarrassing number of pictures of Max, scrapbooked, had cards made on Shutterfly and completed (almost) every part of his baby book. But you know how every parent tells you that the second child never gets the same amount of attention? Well, they’re right – sort of.

Case in point: the first haircut. For Max, his first haircut was planned. It was a Saturday morning and my husband and I both giddily took Max in the backyard, explained what we were doing as we snapped ‘before’ pictures and then painstakingly used the special ‘children’s haircut scissors’ to cut his little blonde hairs. Then we took several after pictures (I didn’t save the hairs – I’m just not a fan of storing hair in a box as a keepsake) and, of course, I scrapbooked about it.

And then there was Jack.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ain’t No Party Like a Pinterest Party

So the day finally came; our little pumpkin’s 1st birthday party!  Since the day I picked my C-section date I have been anticipating this day.  My mom, sister, and cousin already planned to fly in two days before the party to help me out.  Little did we know how much work we would be doing.

Since my son is older, his birthday parties are done outside of the home, and now I remember why.  Let me first say the party was a success, and I would have never been able to do it without the help of my family. 

This is where the hours upon hours I have spent on Pinterest are going to help out. For a year, I have been pinning ideas for Halloween parties, food, decorations, you name it!! Now it was time to put these ideas into action. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

The ABC’s of getting some Z’s

It’s time to "fall back" again and get that extra hour of sleep this weekend. Dr. Sonya Merrill, medical director of the Sleep Medicine Institute at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, says it’s also a good time to look at your current sleep routine to make sure you’re getting enough rest.

“Remember, most adults require 8 hours of sleep to function at their best, though there is some variability from person to person,” Dr. Merrill said.

A recent study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that the average American receives far less than eight hours of sleep, usually just over six hours on work nights. More than 50 percent of those surveyed stated they were getting less sleep than they needed on work nights, although 75 percent admitted that their schedules allowed for adequate sleep.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Zombie toddler

My almost-two-year-old Jake is a frequent victim of toddler bites at day care.

Through Mom friends and co-workers, I’d learned early on that biting is common among little ones. It’s how some of them vent the frustration that comes with not being able to say what you need to say. So I didn’t let it alarm me too much.

But week after week, I found myself signing incident reports when a fresh set of red bite marks would appear -- sometimes accompanied by bruising or broken skin -- on his chubby little arm. It just broke my heart to see it. Today he is sporting very distinct red teeth marks on each arm, and I half considered dressing him as a toddler zombie instead of a dinosaur for trick-or-treating. (I’ve been watching too much of The Walking Dead, I think.)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tips for a Safe & Healthy Halloween

Keep your family safe and healthy this Halloween with the following tips:

Stay Safe
  • Get kids to walk on the sidewalk, not in the street, while trick-or-treating.
  • Carry a flashlight with you. Have the kids wear light-up necklaces so they’re more visible to vehicles in the dark.
  • Make sure costumes fit well and are short enough to prevent tripping or entanglement. Twisted ankles are another common injury seen on Halloween.
  • Be cautious about what you consume. If treats look suspicious, just throw them out.
  • Individually wrapped candy is best. Flu season has just begun, and germ-carrying hands digging in bowls of unwrapped candies can spread sickness.
--Dr. Blaine Bachim, emergency room physician at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth

Stay Healthy
  • Set up a trading station with some of your kids' favorite healthy treats, like dried fruit, packaged fruit bowls, or good-quality dark chocolate squares.  Encourage them to trade in their least favorite candies for healthy treats they know they love.
  • Teach your kids how to make good things last by splitting their haul into several smaller portions stored in plastic bags. Each week, they'll have a whole new supply of candy to enjoy, all while maintaining calorie and sugar control.
  • Cut your child's candy consumption by encouraging them to donate a portion of their candy to the food bank, or share with family members. They can feel like they're taking positive action, rather than being deprived.
  • Don’t hand out your favorite candy. Set yourself up for success by choosing something less tempting, and you’re less likely to nosh on the stash.
  • Don’t skip dinner. Candy-craving plus hunger pangs = key ingredients for over-indulgence.  Eating a balanced and healthy dinner will satisfy your belly and take the edge off your candy craving.  Focus on a meal rich with fiber and lean protein -- think chicken breast with fresh vegetables.
  • The worst thing you can do on Halloween, after most of the trick-or-treaters have cleared off the street, is set your candy bowl by the door or on the counter where you can grab a handful (or two) every day. Consuming just 300 extra candy calories a day will add a pound of to your frame in less than two weeks. Instead, set the bowl on the porch before you go to bed. The leftover candy will be gone by morning, guaranteed.
--Amber Massey, RD, LD, registered dietitian

Here's wishing you and your family a Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Healthy Bites: Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie

Looking for a new protein shake recipe? Spice it up this fall with a pumpkin pie protein smoothie!

Pumpkin is very popular this time of year from pumpkin spice lattes to pumpkin muffins with cream cheese to pumpkin pie. However, many of these yummy treats are packed with calories and fat. This pumpkin pie protein smoothie is a great post workout recovery drink. It is light, refreshing, and has fewer calories than some of our other favorite fall treats.

Not only is pumpkin a low fat food, it is a rich source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Fiber plays many roles in the body including: maintains blood sugar levels, lowers bad cholesterol, aids in healthy digestion, keeps you feeling fuller longer. Only a ½ cup of pumpkin has 5 grams of fiber!

Monday, October 28, 2013

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year…Gift Idea

It’s that time of the year again and Christmas is just around the corner. Finding the perfect gift for that special little one is definitely on my mind. Shaye and Gracey received a gift last year that they both enjoy and will for years to come.

This book is so much fun! The girls and I (Shaye 7 years and Gracey 7 months) sat together and had so much fun with this kit. I put on the gloves and the beginning of the book explains where the gloves come into action. The story then says where the tickle monster went, like your knees, etc. At that point you tickle them in the knees with your gloves on. It was so much fun to see both girls laughing and having fun before bed time.

This will be one of those books that we keep forever and will always be so fun to read and play with. I highly recommend for any child in your life, no matter the age or gender.

Stephanie Abernathy is a Mom of two in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who works at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford.
Stephanie Abernathy is a Mom of two in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who works at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford - See more at: http://texashealthmoms.blogspot.com/2013/09/getting-your-child-involved-in-kitchen.html#sthash.TVtcG0C4.dpuf

Friday, October 25, 2013

Best baby item not found on any registry

When preparing for our daughter's arrival I asked lots of people what items we absolutely needed at first. The answers varied. But in reality I found the most helpful item was not one that came from the baby aisles.

It instead came from the dollar bin in a moment of weakness that it was cute, could help me get organized and was only $1. I picked it up months before her arrival with no specific use in mind.

As the clock ticked down on my pregnancy I decided to print some documents to carry with me just in case, mainly maternity leave related items, so I pulled out my dollar bin find thinking aha now I have a purpose for this folder. When we went to the hospital the folder went with me.

It has since become the most helpful tool I have. At the hospital any paperwork was slipped into the folder. It's bright color made it easy to ask family to put papers in it. When we came home everything was in one place. When we had her first pediatrician appointment I grabbed the folder and had all I needed and more. I've continued to take it to every appointment and it is now chock full of data on our daughter. In the days when we were wandering in a sleep deprived haze it saved our sanity and countless hours searching for that important paper we had just seen.

While friends and family may think it odd, a similar folder will now be included in any baby gift I give. What was your most helpful item after having a baby?

Jennifer Erickson is a Sr. Communications Specialist with Texas Health Resources and New Mom to a baby girl.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What is a ‘full-term’ pregnancy?

New definitions have been released on what it means to carry a baby full-term.

Until now, a "term" baby was defined as one born anytime from 37 weeks to 42 weeks, a few weeks before or after the calculated due date. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has refined that time frame to between 39 weeks and 40 weeks, 6 days.

“Things used to be very different many years ago. Moms could be induced in the 38th week if they were dilated or feeling miserable,” said Dr. Darren Tate, OB/GYN on the medical staff at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth. “Now it’s not permitted unless there is a medical indication. A lot of the studies recently have shown higher NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) admissions and worse outcomes for babies electively induced before 39 weeks.”

The new definitions, released Tuesday in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology:

•    Early Term, between 37 weeks and 38 weeks 6 days.
•    Full Term, between 39 weeks and 40 weeks 6 days.
•    Late Term, the 41st week.
•    Post Term, after 42 weeks.

“Every week matters,” Dr. Tate said. “Every single week is important for babies. There’s no better incubator in town than Mom’s uterus.”

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Girls and their Baby Dolls

What is it about girls and their baby dolls?  Emory, age three, has loved baby dolls since she was old enough to hold one.  She had a favorite doll that she used to take to the sitter as a baby.  When she got a little older, her MaMaw and PaPaw gave her a huge baby doll that was bigger than she was, and she immediately fell in love with her. Once Emory started talking, she named her Allie. 

Emory hasn’t reached the stage where she wants to change Allie’s clothes.  On the contrary, that poor baby doll stays stripped down with no clothes all the time.  However, Emory does love to change her diaper.  She even found diaper rash medicine that I’ve caught her using on Allie.