Monday, May 20, 2019

The Harsh Reality of a Type 1 Parent

For those of you who have been around for a while, you know my oldest son, Sawyer, has Type 1 Diabetes. He is going on 5 years living with this disease, with no end in sight. I feel like at this point in my life, my days (and nights) completely revolve around Sawyer's diabetes. I wake up, the first thing I do is check his Dexcom to see what his numbers are. I go to bed, and the last thing I do is check Dex to make sure his numbers are good and stable or leveling out. I wake up several times a night to make sure his numbers are good, that he is breathing, give gummies or tabs, give a correction, etc. I haven't consistently slept soundly in almost 5 years and it has begun to catch up to me. I am starting to get physically run down. I have been more sick in the last month than I have in the past 5 years. My metabolism has slowed. I am probably experiencing adrenal fatigue. I am tired, always. I have aged probably 10 years. I have severe anxiety that I try to treat through natural remedies. My digestion is always dealing with something, which is most likely due to increased cortisol (the stress hormone). My husband and I don't always agree on how to properly take care of our child with this life threatening autoimmune disease and it is affecting our marriage... which adds more stress to my body. There are so many things that have just added to the weight of having a child with diabetes and there are some days, like today, where I feel like I might break. Might. Probably won't. But might.

People look at me and see this very uptight and rigid woman. Someone who has to have things her way or the highway. Very Type A personality, if you will. I have been told countless times by people on the outside looking in, to just "relax." I don't have the luxury to relax. When I try to relax, bad things could happen. If I am not on my mental A-game 24/7, then it could be the difference between life or death for my son. So when people tell me to relax, I of course just smile and say, "I'll relax when I'm dead," because that's the truth. And even then, I don't think I will be able to. Because if I were to go, who would take care of my son? His Dad? He does a good job, yes, but he still doesn't understand a lot of things that are required of a primary caregiver of a child with t1d. He just doesn't. How could he? It's pretty much impossible for anyone to understand unless you are living it. Let me paint you a quick picture. I literally had to quit my 9-5 job because taking care of Sawyer became a full time job for me. So anytime someone comments on my being a "stay at home" mom saying, "Oh you're so lucky," I think to myself, "sure. I'm blessed. I wouldn't say lucky."  I would give ANYTHING to be able to get back into the work force. I don't hate being a content creator, but I feel like I am made for so much more than just blogging/content creation. But that is how I am able to make money while being a stay at home mom so I am able to take care of Sawyer 24/7.

I feel like most days are good. I have a solid head on my shoulders. I feel the support of people within my "village." I feel strong. I feel confident to take on the day. I feel brave. Then there are days like today, where I feel like the weight of my child's autoimmune disease is on my shoulders. So much so, that I feel like I just might break. Might. Probably won't. But might. But what worries me the most is when Sawyer grows up. That weight won't be on my shoulders anymore. It will be on his. And that is what hurts me more than anything is the thought of my baby having to carry this burden his entire life. Even though most days will be good because I have taught him well, there are going to be these debilitating days. The days where he feels so alone because no one understands what it's like to live with diabetes. This is what I pray for the most (besides a cure). For his strength, his wisdom, his courage, to get out of bed and fight every single day. Because it is a fight.

You see friends, I am not sharing this really raw and transparent post to get sympathy or anything like that. I don't want your sympathy. I want you to understand. Because right now, I feel completely alone in this battle. Truthfully, I don't even feel like my husband understands what I go through on a daily basis. It's crippling at times. Have you ever held your child's limp and helpless body in your arms while he is fighting back from a low blood sugar? I have. Have you ever had to tell your child he can't spend the night with a friend because we wouldn't be able to take care of him in the middle of the night if we needed to and we didn't want to chance it? I have. Lot's of times. Have you ever had to tell your child that he can't eat something because he accidentally left his diabetes supply bag in dad's car, so I can't give him insulin for that snack he is about to eat? I have. It's a lot and I think the only way for me to feel even a little bit better is to put it into words. I don't want you to read this and think I can't handle what cards I have been dealt. I've got this. Today is just a rough one. And I need your prayers.

Blessings and Health, 
Chauncey 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Organizing My Samsung Refrigerator

This post is sponsored by Samsung Home Appliances. All opinions are my own. 





 Hey friends!
Today I am sharing one of the most requested blog posts, which is how I organize my Samsung 3-Door Refrigerator with Hub 2.0. One of the reasons why I chose this refrigerator is because of its size. It seriously holds SO MUCH FOOD. It has made my life so much easier in keeping my fridge organized because there is literally a place for everything. 



One of the features that I absolutely love about the Hub 2.0 is that I am able to view inside my refrigerator via embedded cameras within the fridge. This is such a game changer for me because now, I can just view inside my fridge if I am running out the door and need to check and see if we need milk or eggs or something real quick. It helps me keep all of my "ducks in a row" so to speak. This feature has also helped me stay on top of organizing my fridge in the sense that I know what we need and do not need. It is seriously a game changer for us organized folks out there.

So without further ado, let me introduce to you my family's refrigerator... because it's what is on the inside that really counts, right?



Like I said, I LOVE how much space this refrigerator offers. I feel like there is just so much I can work with when it comes to organizing and arranging where my food goes. As you can see, we eat  A LOT of food... most big families do though, so I am not mad at that.

You can see that there is a specific place for everything (I am kinda OCD about that). Let me break it down for you so you can see a little more clearly on the specifics, and also share with you my little dollar store hack that I have been doing for a while to help keep everything super clean and organized.


Okay, so if you are a reader of the blog then you know I have kids. The main reason for my organization is so my kids have easy access to their favorite healthy snacks. On my right door, I like to keep apple sauce pouches (one of the kids' favorite and convenient snacks), cold brew (for the mornings that I have forgotten to make it the night before), and my almond milk and creamers.



The left door holds our sauces and condiments, as well as my cold pressed juices and Sawyer's lantus. Nothing fancy, but I like that everything still has a place. 


Now, for the top shelf... nothing fancy, but again, organized. Just how I like it. I choose to keep my eggs in the original cartons that I buy them in because those are made to keep any kinds of smells or odors away from the eggs and will keep my eggs tasting fresher longer. I also have a space for extra condiments and other items in bottles or jars that we may tend to use. Lastly, I like to keep a few cold water bottles in the fridge just for easy grabbing when we are on the go. We go through these fast, so once they are gone we use our refillable water bottles because the water that our fridge dispenses tastes so clean and pure. 


Middle shelves I use for milk and any produce that I may have purchased in bulk. We are big fans of apples, oranges, lemons, and cucumbers at the moment and I love having enough space to be able to buy a ton of these items and keep them in my fridge. I also like that I am able to buy more than one gallon of milk at a time, because this family loves them some milk. 


Alright, now to my little dollar store hack... One of my favorite ways to keep my refrigerator organized is using these little dollar bins. You have noticed I use these for everything from condiments to produce. They hold everything in one place (so you don't have a ton of stuff just rolling around in your fridge), and it also makes your fridge look cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing. 


Having our produce in these clear containers allows my kids to be able to see what is available for them to eat, which results in them wanting to eat healthy food more often and you know that this mama is here for that. 



And speaking of produce... you can probably guess what I use my two Humidity Control drawers for, right? Yep, you guessed it... More produce! I have a space designated for our greens (spinach, lettuce, etc.) and a drawer that is designated for berries, fruit cups, and other smaller space-filling fruits. 




The next space for organization is the CoolSelect Pantry, which, can I just say how much I LOVE this feature in my fridge??? It's so nice to have a designated space for my meat and dairy (this is something that I did not have in my previous refrigerator). I seriously am obsessed. On the left side of this drawer, you will see I have my meat/fish selections placed neatly. I don't buy a ton of meat so I don't feel like this space ever gets over crowded. On the right, I have my dairy items- cheese assortments and gogurts (another one of the kids' favorite easy snacks). 



This drawer is low enough to where both Sawyer and Colt are able to open it with ease and get their own snack should they choose to, although I still like for Colt to ask me first so I can help monitor his refrigerator usage (don't want him to accidentally leave those french doors open).



The last place of organization that I want to share with you all is the freezer drawer. There are two levels of the freezer drawer in my Samsung 3-Door Refrigerator. I have made a designated "Kid Drawer", which houses all the easy food items for when mama is in a bind and we need a quick meal or snack. Honestly, I feel like every mom needs one of these drawers. They can be real life (and time) savers.


I also have my personal drawers on the bottom part of the freezer, which lies underneath the kid section. This is where I keep my frozen fruit, frozen veggies, some of my favorite ice cream, and frozen meats that I use for meals throughout the week. 




I hope you guys enjoyed this little tour of our family's refrigerator! It's nothing super fancy in terms of keeping it organized, but it works for us. The reason we are able to keep it organized is primarily because of how spacious and user-friendly our Samsung 3-Door Refrigerator with Hub 2.0 is. It fits our family of five's needs to a T and we could not love it more.

Want more refrigerator organization tips? Let me know and I'll be happy to address them in my next blog post!

Blessings and Health, 
Chauncey Hollister

Saturday, April 20, 2019

My Favorite Buffalo Wings Recipe

This post was created in partnership with Ninja and I received a complimentary product, but all opinions are my own.





Hey friends! I don't know about you, but I am so excited about today's post. You all know how much I love my Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker, and I am so excited to share with you all my favorite recipe that I have learned since using it- Buffalo Chicken Wings! This recipe can be made using either frozen chicken wings OR thawed because one of the many amazing things about the Ninja Foodi is that with the TenderCrisp technology, frozen is the new fresh! You can pressure cook frozen meats to defrost and tenderize them at the same time, then use the AIR CRISP function to crisp your meal the way you desire! So without further ado, let's get to the recipe!





What you will need to make the wings: 

Ninja Foodi Equipment-
2. Ninja Foodi Pot*
3. Ninja Foodi Cook & Crisp Basket*
4. Ninja Foodi Pressure Lid*

*accessories are included 

Ingredients-
1. 1/2 cup water
2. 2 pounds frozen (or thawed) chicken wings- make sure drums and flats are separated
3. 2 tbsp oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
4. 2 tbsp buffalo sauce (I used Frank's Red Hot Wings Buffalo Sauce)
5. 2 tsp kosher salt (optional) 


Directions:

1. Pour 1/2 cup of water into pot. Place wings (frozen or thawed) in the Cook & Crisp Basket and place basket in pot. Attach the pressure lid, and make sure the pressure release valve is in the SEAL position.

If you are using fresh/thawed chicken wings instead of frozen, toss wings with 2 tbsp oil. Then, close crisping lid, and select AIR CRISP, temperature set at 390 degrees for 24-28 minutes. Enjoy! 





2. Select PRESSURE and set HIGH. Set time to 5 minutes. Select START/STOP to begin.

3. When pressure cooking is finished, quick release the pressure by turning the pressure release valve to VENT position. Carefully remove lid once pressure has been completely released.

4. Pat wings dry with towel and toss with 2 tbsp oil in the basket.

5. Close crisping lid and select AIR CRISP. Set temperature to 390 degrees and set time to 15 minutes. Press START/STOP to begin.

6. After 7-8 minutes, open lid and toss wings with silicone-tipped tongs. Lower basket back into pot, close lid, and continue cooking.

7. While the wings are cooking, stir buffalo (or sauce of choice) with optional salt in a large mixing bowl.

8. When cooking is finished, transfer wings to the bowl with the sauce and toss with tongs to coat evenly.






When you're done, serve with your favorite dipping sauces (our family loves ranch) and veggies on the side! What I also love about the Ninja Foodi is that the pot and the Cook & Crisp Basket are both dishwasher safe, so that makes my life easier when cleaning up. 







If you try this recipe out, feel free to tag me in a post or message me and let me know how you liked it! This is quickly becoming a family favorite, and with the convenience that the Ninja Foodi offers me, I don't hate making it all the time! Enjoy friends!

Blessings and Health, 
Chauncey 



Friday, April 19, 2019

My Samsung 3-Door Refrigerator With Hub 2.0 Review

This post is sponsored by Samsung Home Appliances. All opinions are my own.


Hey friends! You all remember how excited I was when I got my new Samsung 3-Door Refrigerator with Hub 2.0 a few weeks ago. I have been loving every single second with it. I had several people reach out and ask if I could do a review of what I like about the refrigerator, specifically the hub. So here it is in all of its glory! 



One of the things that I am really into is ORGANIZATION. I feel like this refrigerator helps me amp up my organization game to the millionth degree. I love that the Hub has my Google calendar synced to it, so I never miss a single practice, game, PTA meeting, deadline, doctor's appointment or lunch date. 


Another feature that my Samsung Refrigerator has is it pairs with my Ring Video Doorbell. I absolutely love this feature because my kitchen is in the back part of my house, furthest away from the front door and so if someone pulls up to my house, or comes up to my front door I am still able to have eyes on my house. The truth is, you can never be too careful and I like having this extra surveillance, especially being a stay-at-home mom with three children. In the words of Kevin McCallister, "This is MY HOUSE. I have to defend it." 



All of the kids are a huge fan of the hub because they can draw me pictures and express their creativity without wreaking havoc. The memo pad is a family favorite, especially for Colt because he loves drawing and I love that he isn't damaging my new refrigerator with a sharpie or something. 



One of Sawyer's favorite things to do is write me little love letters and leave them in places like my pillow, the front seat of my car, my underwear drawer, and now, the fridge! 


He is seriously the sweetest! I love that I can save these sweet little notes he leaves me on my refrigerator forever!







 One of the things that B and I love doing during the meal cooking time is put on Pandora and dance around in the kitchen, singing, and laughing. I am a huge believer in music and how it can be an instant mood lifter. Our refrigerator can continuously play our favorite stations on Pandora without skipping a beat while we fix dinner.




Thanks for letting me show you my new favorite "toy"! More blog posts to come, featuring my Samsung Refrigerator with Hub 2.0, including fridge organization, and tips on healthy living as a family. I am still new to this and am still figuring it all out, so if you have the Hub and there is a feature that you LOVE, please share it with me!


Blessings and Health, 
Chauncey 

Friday, March 1, 2019

A Family Favorite Healthy Snack - With FAGE

This post is sponsored by FAGE, however all opinions are my own. 




You all know how much my kids love to snack. They are NON-STOP snackers. Bottomless pits, if you will. I don't mind this because they usually choose healthy foods. One of our favorite snacks as of late has been a "build your own" yogurt bowl. We love FAGE Total 2% Greek Yogurt because it is low in sugar, and high in protein- only 7 grams of sugar and a whopping 23 grams of protein per cup!




I like to let my kids "decorate" their own yogurt, but I always help by putting a serving size of FAGE 2% Greek Yogurt in bowls as their starting point. FAGE Greek Yogurt has a distinctive rich and creamy taste that pairs perfectly with my kids' favorite toppings. Now, you know that my kids are partial to any and all fruits. So, they tend to go for those first for the toppings. In B's case, she just dumps the entire bowl of fruit into her yogurt bowl.




One of the things that I think tends to throw people off of plain greek yogurt is that it isn't naturally super sweet. I love that FAGE Total 2% Greek Yogurt has no added sugar in it. A little hack that I learned years ago is to puree some sweeter fruits like bananas, strawberries, and mangos and let my kids use that as a natural "sweetener" for their yogurt.










Sawyer is extra and likes to add a little bit of granola to his FAGE 2% yogurt once the fruit and purees are added to his liking. Some other great (and healthy) topping choices for yogurt include nuts, chia or flax seed.








This is an easy and FUN healthy snack that my entire family loves. Not only that, but it is a great way to get the kids involved in the "cooking" and food prep process early on and allows them to appreciate what they put in their bodies at an earlier age. We love FAGE because it is Non-GMO Project Verified, packed with protein, and no added sugar or artificial sweeteners. I feel confident as a mother when I see my kids choosing healthy snacks like FAGE. 











Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Small Changes that Make a BIG Difference- With FAGE

This is post is sponsored by FAGE. All opinions are my own.



If you have been following me for any amount of time, you know that I am a huge advocate for living an active and healthy lifestyle. These healthy choices are not just for me, but for my family as well. I say this, but please know that it has not always been this easy (anything worth having or doing usually isn't, right?). Our current lifestyle has been about 6 to 7 years in the making, and all started by making small changes that wound up making a big difference.


One of the small changes that our family made was to cut out excess sugar. We reduce our refined and added sugar intake on a daily basis by doing a few things:

1. We stick to (mostly) water to drink. 
Now are there times where we drink something that isn't water? Sure. You all know how much I love my diet lemonade (which one of the 3 ingredients is... you guessed it... water). 

2. We try to consume mostly whole foods. 
I've talked about this before, but if it isn't packaged then there is no way for it to have added sugar (or anything for that matter). We tend to stick to fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole eggs, etc. 

3. We read food labels.
Any packaged food that we do buy, we look at a few things. First, the ingredients. A mile-long list of ingredients is a red flag to me because that means this product has tons of additives and chemicals and is very far from its natural state. Second, we look at the sugar content and look for any added sweeteners. One of the reasons we love FAGE, is they have made it easy for our family (and yours) to consume less sugar with their split cups now having 30% less sugar in them than before (*reduced from 16-17g to 11g per serving), PLUS zero artificial sweeteners. 




Sawyer has absolutely no favorites when it comes to the flavor of his yogurt. He eats it all! He especially loves the 0% milkfat split cups in the flavor blueberry acai. He loves the taste by itself or with some berries to top it off. 




Colt is a new lover of yogurt and is slowly discovering new tastes and flavors. He is one of those kids that likes to "stick with what he knows" and always seem to grab for the 2% milkfat in the flavor, strawberry. I say you can never go wrong with strawberry in my opinion! 




You all know B isn't picky when it comes to food! But I do like for her to eat the 5% milkfat split cups so that she is able to get some more healthy fats in her diet. She loves all the flavors, of course, but I think she is partial to the blueberry! It's her favorite fruit :)



These FAGE Split Cups are PERFECT for after-school snacks, healthier sweet treats, or on-the-go breakfasts. They offer the same sweet, creamy taste and consistency, only with 30% less sugar. That's a win-win in my mama book. If you are interested in finding FAGE Total Split Cups in stores near you, click here to take you to their store locator. 




The Harsh Reality of a Type 1 Parent

For those of you who have been around for a while, you know my oldest son, Sawyer, has Type 1 Diabetes. He is going on 5 years living with t...