UPDATE: We have decided to go to Cincinnati, Ohio #blamemom

Will this be a turning point in L’s treatment plan for her eosinophilic esophagitis? As you all know, a rare disease decided to take us by storm in early 2016. My eyes were steadfast on the operating room doors for what seemed like hours. In reality, the time past had only been 55 minutes. When the doctor came through the operating room doors, her eyes caught my eyes, and I knew by her facial expression, the dreaded news was about to be spilled. The diagnosis from the doctor was the worst case scenario, eosinophilic esophagitis. This disease has wreaked havoc on L’s body for over a year and a half now. Many tears have been shed in hospitals, doctor offices and on the sheets of my daughter’s bed. As a parent, all I want to do is take this disease away from my daughter. My cries to the Lord have included to let my body fight this illness and let my daughter enjoy her childhood.

During this past summer, L was going backward with her symptoms instead of making great strides in a positive direction. As a family, we were scratching our heads on what should we do with L’s treatment. After a discouraging weekend at the end of this past July, I recommended to my husband and daughters to go on a very short hike to Rough Ridge on the Blue Ridge Parkway with me. We could leave the disease world behind for a few hours, and enjoy God’s beautiful mother nature. While researching online the best path to take to Rough Ridge, I found an excellent location we could park our car and start hiking on the trail to Rough Ridge. The website stated this place would only be a 1/5 mile walk up to Rough Ridge. Meanwhile, the location I thought was a correct spot ended up taking us 1.5 hours to get to the Rough Ridge overlook. This trail had us climbing through trees and atop rocks, but we finally made it to the most amazing views. L was not happy with me taking the wrong trail and vented her frustration along with creating her hashtag #blamemom. After spending time enjoying the stunning views, we begin the trek back down the trail to find our car. As we are walking down the rocky path, I hear, someone calling out my name Jennifer. Immediately my eyes focus on this woman on the trail, and I realize it was a friend from my Facebook page! Her precious son has eosinophilic esophagitis and she has been a huge help to L and me through this journey. We have only talked on Facebook and never met in person. Time stood still as we stopped in the middle of the trail to talk with her and she persuaded us to rethink L’s treatment. Her conversation filled with reasoning on why we should take L to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.  This clinic is the leading research hospital for all of the eosinophilic diseases. Carol’s credibility in recommending the clinic to us is very high as her son has been battling eosinophilic esophagitis for four years. Carol was such an encouragement to our entire family on the trail that day, and since she lives 7 hours away, it was God’s divine intervention, that she happened to be in on the same trail as us at the same time. My oldest daughter stated, “Mom there is a reason we took the long hike as God wanted us to see Carol.” If we had taken the 1/5 mile trail, chances are our families would not have met.

We are looking forward to hearing new treatment options next month for L and speaking directly with researchers to see how close we are to a cure.

Decorating Your Home for Fall on a Budget + Teal Pumpkin Project

Did you hear that screaming? I confess it was me! It is no secret that my favorite seasons are just around the corner. If I could bottle up the fall and winter season, I would be a happy camper all year-around. The decorations, the holidays, the joyful attitudes, and special family events make days so cheerful and positive.

This past weekend, we had the opportunity to collaborate with At Home Stores and decorate the entrance to our home on a budget. This was our first shopping experience at an At Home Store. At Home provides a full solution of decor for your home, with a massive selection of specialty products for Halloween. You do not need any coupons as the prices are very affordable, especially with us on a strict budget.

We wanted to spruce up our front door entrance for the upcoming Halloween holiday. Halloween has brought a new meaning to us since L was diagnosed with her rare disease, eosinophilic esophagitis in January 2016. We want to have fun celebrating but keep it safe for L so we definitely had to incorporate teal pumpkins into our decorations.

Have you heard of the teal pumpkin project? The Teal Pumpkin Project was inspired by a local awareness activity run by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET) and launched as a national campaign by FARE in 2014. We hope you will help spread the word about this project and maybe even put out your own teal pumpkin to participate in your neighborhood.

The At Home Store we visited had teal pumpkins starting at the $5.99 price point. We purchased a large one and a small one.

Halloween Doormat

The door mat ($12.99) has all the colors we wanted to use with our decor. Aren’t our witch feet ($16.99) the winner of the night? L was laughing so hard when she saw them lit up. Mr. Jack-O-Lantern ($14.99) helps give a nice glow to our mini teal pumpkin.

Halloween Doorway Entrance

As guests come to visit us, they will have to walk the scary sidewalk ($9.99) and beware of those scarecrows. You never know how they will welcome you to our house.

Halloween Sidewalk

Outside

The whole family got in on the fun with decorating and we were able to not break the bank. Now, we have a festive entrance that is sure to have our neighbors enjoying the holiday cheer with us.

After all the decorating fun outdoors, we headed indoors to unwrap the fall goodness in our living room. At Home had fall and Halloween pillows starting at $12.99. I was able to grab two fall pillows for $14.99 each. I’m so in love. Then my oldest daughter, M, was able to find a light brown fleece blanket for only $9.99. The color combination works perfectly in our living room. We capped off the decor with a welcome “S” burlap sign ($7.99). The sign is even a better deal because I can keep it on the door until Thanksgiving!

Inside

inside door decoration

The smiles are spreading across our faces and we cannot quit looking at our decor. I’m so grateful for At Home Stores for having every day low prices that let you decorate on a budget.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post with At Home Stores. As always, all thoughts and opinions are of my own. 

Having Fun at Walt Disney World’s Blizzard Beach

This summer we finally visited our first Disney Water Park, Blizzard Beach! This family event was such a beautiful day for L and little Avery enjoyed surprising L with a treat. You will have to see the cuteness in our vlog. At the end of the vlog, we share a place at Disney Springs that has an icee that elemental patients can enjoy. We may or may not have let L get this particular icee every night.

Who is ready for Christmas? {New Family Friendly Christmas Movie}

Christmas is my favorite holiday! I may or may not be playing Christmas music at work each day. There is so much joy surrounding Christmas. Last week, I received word about a new Christmas movie that will be released in theaters nationwide on November 22, 2017, just in time for this holiday season.

The Man Who Invented Christmas is a delightful family film! Dan Stevens brings beloved author Charles Dickens to life as we follow the inspiration that helped him craft one of the most cherished novels of all time, A Christmas Carol. The movie tells of the magical journey that led to the creation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer), Tiny Tim and other classic characters from A Christmas Carol. The film shows how Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) mixed real life inspirations with his vivid imagination to conjure up unforgettable characters and a timeless tale, forever changing the holiday season into the celebration we know today.

Check out the official trailer and be sure to mark your calendars.

How did this happen?

Big Sis Highschool

Another big change has happened in our household. Big Sis is in Highschool. How did this happen? Homeschooling her for the last three years has been a blessing, but she is eager to go back to public school and enjoy her high school years. After discussions, my husband and I both thought this would be a great adventure for Big Sis!

She is wanting to work for Disney Animation after college, and I will be cheering her on every step of the way. This first semester she is taking a scientific and visual technical class which is a stepping stone to her future career.

I’m excited to share with you how life is with a high school student.

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