name='p:domain_verify'/> Always A New Day : September 2016


Where to Find My Latest Fall Favorites

Fall is slowly approaching (Texas is always late to the party) so today's post showcases my latest fall favorites from  Chicks Picks Boutique - my favorite shop owned by my childhood friend, Christina. I honestly don't know what I would do without her and her small business - she has brought life and color back into my wardrobe. The pieces I am sharing today are just a small part of all the gorgeous fall clothes she has in her collection.

I am also so thankful another talented friend Jennifer from  Jennifer Spencer Photography snapped these photos. I had no idea how to pose or act when doing my own photo shoot. Jennifer is a fabulous local photographer who is usually chasing and/or posing children (and husbands). Thankfully, she jumped right in on this adventure.

And thanks to both Christina, Jennifer, and their talents, I am sharing my latest fall favorites.  

This olive vest will easily be a staple in my closet this fall. You can make it casual for the day - imagine a graphic or comfy tee underneath. I paired it with my latest TJ Maxx find - these slip-on black tennis shoes.

Or take the vest and add your favorite ankle boots or this shirt from Chicks Picks - love the lace detail on the sleeves. After a long day of toddler-wrangling, dress it up a bit while you grab some vino with friends.

I currently own two colors of this swing dress - the gray and the navy. It's cozy and my favorite part? The pockets. Go with the day look of tennis shoes (think Converse, too) or flip flops if you're still sweating in September.

Add a necklace and some cute strappy ballet flats (thanks again, TJ Maxx), wedges, or ankle boots to change into a night out sans kids! I love how the gray dress allows for any pop of color.

And there you have it - my first photo shoot. Thank you, Christina, for allowing me to showcase my recent favorites - you know I am already eyeing a few more. Head over and do some shopping. Don't be afraid to reach out if you have questions - she is so wonderful with all her customers.

Jennifer, thank YOU for saying yes to this photo shoot. Houston friends, Jen does maternity, newborn, kids, and family photos. Check out her beautiful portfolio and book fast!

Lastly, don't forget the Jord Wood Watch giveaway - go enter HERE. Contest ends soon. I happily wore mine in my little photo shoot as well.

Thank you for going on this adventure with me. Stepping out of the comfort of the mom bun and running shoes was daunting, but I am so glad I did.

Talk soon! And, happy shopping!


Why We Need to Talk About Mental Health - 5 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

Thank you for your continued support for my mental health series. Why we need to talk about mental health is reaching greater levels of importance. More moms are coming forward to share their stories; more friends have opened up. No matter what you feel causes stress, sadness, and/or anxiety, my hope is that you or someone you love find avenues to help.

Today's post shares five routines you can incorporate into daily life to help alleviate what is causing hardship. Maybe you will find something to try or perhaps something where you can dedicate more time (even if it's just a bit) to your mental well being.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. The information I am sharing is based on personal experience. Before seeking the best fit for your mental health care, please see your regular doctor for guidance.


I know, I know. How do you find time to sweat it out in our busy lives? I firmly believe in making time - get up earlier, go for walks, hit the gym or a class, find an accountability partner that pushes and encourages you. All I know is when I feel stressed or anxious, I want to physically MOVE. When I do so, it reminds me I am alive, and I AM STRONG. While I do most workouts at home, I still love my boot camp once or twice a week. When I am pushed (especially since I am approaching 40!), I feel empowered. That feeling lasts long after you move. Try it.


Kids, obligations, and just life can interfere with the shut-eye. And, maybe you can function on 5-6 hours of sleep, but the truth is - we need more! I will admit - sleep is hard for me. Once the kids are down, the quiet overcomes me, and I am scrolling through social media or catching up on a favorite show. This quiet time of NOT THINKING is almost Heaven for me. With anxiety like mine, my thoughts are in constant motion - planning, obsessing, worrying. This quiet time allows my mind to turn off. Yes, sleep does too, and I need to get better at going to bed at a decent hour. No matter what, quality sleep is key to mental functioning.


You know I love my coffee, but I also make water a necessity too. This task has been one I am slowly improving. I keep my big, beloved Yeti full and drink all day long. I should keep track of my intake (but the thought of keeping track of ONE MORE THING...), but I do carry this cup with me everywhere I go. Once the coffee is done in the morning, I make the switch. Be more purposeful in your water intake and see if just a small improvement works for your mental health.

{Me Time}

When those thoughts crowd my anxious mind, I know I am in need of me time - read a book, get crafty, or make dates (and keep them) with friends. PLAN PLAN PLAN. Schedule it in like an appointment. For me, when I know that me time is coming, I feel a bit of release and even excited. That excitement can even overcome the anxiety. Win-win.


Finding something to believe in makes a world of difference. For me, it's always prayer. Whether I am doing a daily devotional or listening to some of my favorite Christian music, I always seem to find the Word that speaks right to me. When that happens, I know I am not alone. When my down or worried moments come, it's the first thing I do. God has never left before, and I know He won't as I grieve or even as I panic. Just this week, I woke up to  this video  and what a difference this message made. Watch it. Maybe it will speak to you too.

What are ways you deal with daily worry/anxiety/sadness? I love posts or advice from others who have such insight into mental health. I am learning everyday, and I do not expect to ever be cured from my grief or anxiety. But, when I am aware or when something triggers either one, it is one of these five ways I find peace.

For the previous posts on this topic, you can click the links below.

Why We Need to Talk About Mental Health
Part I - Finding the Right Care

As always, thanks for reading and sharing what's becoming a passion of mine. Have a blessed weekend!


A Mom's Heart - Connor's Story

September is a time to go GOLD for pediatric cancer awareness, and I knew I could not share information about this month without going into the heart of someone I love and someone who has a great deal to teach all of us.

Once upon a time in my teaching career,  I had this feisty, smart, and strong girl in my English class. From the day I met her, I knew she was a fighter and that she could hold her own. Fast forward a few years later, and she came back to visit. This time, she came back with her sweet baby boy, Connor. I remember holding that sweet babe - just in awe that my former student was now a mommy. So imagine my heartbreak to learn that Connor was diagnosed with Leukemia just a couple of years ago. My heartache does not compare to what his sweet mommy has felt or what this sweet boy has had to endure.

I am so honored that Lauren has offered to share Connor's story. I pray you hear her words. I pray you hug your babies tighter. And pray for both this sweet mama and her son. Here is her story.

Just a quick intro about myself: my name is Lauren, and I'm an oilfield wife and SAHM to three amazing kids: Connor, Chason, and Caiah. Our journey began almost two years to the date. Connor had just started first grade; we moved back to Texas, and our little girl Caiah was just born. My oldest son Connor became really sick back in September of 2014. We took him to an urgent care facility where he was diagnosed with strep throat. They gave him antibiotics and said within a couple of days he should feel better. Those days came and went; his condition never got better.

The next day we took him to his pediatrician who then diagnosed him with a virus. He told us a virus can stay anywhere from 7-14 days and just let it take its course. After day seven, his pediatrician decided to do some blood work. He said they could test him for some viruses and see what was causing all of Connor's symptoms. After two panels of tests, everything came back negative. Back to square one.

Three days after his testing, Connor's fever finally reached over 105. We made yet another trip to the doctor's office where his pediatrician was extremely concerned and referred us to an Infectious Disease doctor. That week included more blood work and an unsettling phone call. The doctor had called me that evening and said, "Connor's blood work raises some concerns. His tests show inflammation within his body and some of his results were slightly abnormal. He needs to be seen by a Hematologist but that could take weeks before anyone knows anything. I really suggest you go to Texas Children's Emergency Department, and I will send his lab results." This is where life changed.

That night after spending hours in the ER, we were escorted to the 9th floor. The Cancer Center. We were told that results showed our next step would be Oncology, but we would know more in the morning. The doctors explained to us that a bone marrow biopsy would be needed and that we would have more answers as to what was causing everything. That night I didn't sleep well. Connor's dad stayed with him that night, and I rushed back to the hospital as early as I could the following morning.

September 26, 2014. The day we heard those four words: "Your child has cancer." I couldn't believe it. I looked at Connor, and I just couldn't believe that my sweet innocent child had a much bigger battle at his feet. The oncologists told us that Connor's diagnosis was Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia or ALL. A blood cancer that occurs within lymphocytes. That day is still a little fuzzy because the PTSD had set in.

The following day is when treatment started. Connor received his first LP (lumbar puncture) with chemo. The doctors would also test his spinal fluid to see if the leukemia cells traveled to his spinal fluid. This test came back negative. We thank God everyday for those results. That initial week when I heard the word chemotherapy, I broke down. However, day three was our turning point. Day three is when Connor's fever finally broke, and he finally regained his color back. My son had fever for 21 days with no relief. He was finally eating again, and for the first time in three weeks, he smiled.

That's when I knew we could do this. We spent nine days at Texas Children's Hospital where Connor received eight rounds of chemo, two blood transfusions, and two different surgical procedures. We were finally released, but this was the beginning of a very long year. Thirty days after diagnosis, Connor was in remission but then diagnosed as Very High Risk ALL. He would receive chemo more frequently and at higher doses just to prevent relapse. That was a hard pill to swallow that day. More chemo.

Over the next 12 months, we spent a lot of time inside four walls. Chemotherapy kills your immune system. The slightest cough, sneeze, fever automatically sent us into panic mode and knew a hospital stay was in our future. Connor was hospitalized at least ten times within the first year of diagnosis. I remember another "Momcologist" (mom with a child in treatment) came up to me and said you will get this. It's a crazy world,  however you're strong enough to go through it. She was right. We made it through our hardest part and now we get to enjoy life a little more.

We have learned symptoms to look for, medical terminology, speak chemotherapy fluently, and even know protocol regarding treatment. After a long hard year, we finally made it to maintenance. Connor started third grade this year and is back at school. He is able to enjoy soccer and spend time with his friends once again.

Connor's treatment has involved different phases: induction, consolidation, intermittent maintenance 1, delayed intensification, intermittent maintenance 2, and maintenance. Connor's EOT (end of treatment) date as of now is February 5, 2018! Three and half years. Average treatment for girls is two years and boys is three and a half years. Boys go through treatment longer because leukemia cells like to hide in testicles. Being a Momcologist, you learn you have a voice. You speak for not only your children but for other children you have met and loved along the way. Spreading awareness and informing others around you cancer can happen at any moment.

Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15 in the U.S. One out of 285 children will be diagnosed with cancer. Forty-seven children are diagnosed, and seven lose their battle everyday. With a federal budget of 5.2 billion dollars each year, Childhood Cancer receives less than 4%. There are dozens of types of cancers and even countless subtypes that share $128 million. Pharmaceutical companies see no profit from childhood cancer drugs which is why childhood cancer is so underfunded.

Children deserve to grow up. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. I simply ask for those reading this to spread awareness. My son's story is just one of 47 diagnosed September 26, 2014. Think of those who have gained their angel wings along their journey. Wear a gold ribbon. Donate to fundraisers who are making medical breakthroughs with childhood cancer. Alex's Lemonade Stand, St Jude's Children's Hospital, and St Baldrick's just to name a few. You can also learn more with Truth 65. Children are more precious than gold and deserve #MoreThan4 

To follow Connor's journey, please visit his page:
Lauren, you know I love you like crazy, and I am so thankful you found the perfect words to share  your sweet boy's story. You will reach many. My continued prayers for Connor and for you - you are stronger than you'll ever know.

Don't let September come and go without a prayer, some gold, or reaching out to one of the foundations she mentioned. Remember Lauren and Connor - he's a lucky boy to have a mama like her.


Friday Finds {Vol. 32} - Fall into Fashion with JORD Wooden Watches

I have a fashion confession: I don't know much about fashion anymore. When I was working, I would lay out the next day's cute outfit the night before (#OCDprobs) because it never failed - when I had to choose an outfit in the morning, I suddenly had nothing to wear. Fast forward to the SAHM life, and I am quite comfy in workout clothes and mom buns. With this busy little threenager on my hands, I need to be nimble and quick. But with fall coming (my favorite fashion season), I am SO ready to kick it up a notch.

And, this Friday Finds post is super exciting for me - I loved putting it together and getting this fun treat courtesy of Jord. Sometimes I feel that - like my fashion sense  - my creative one has been long gone. I can rock some homemade play doh and other crafty things, but it felt like I had a second to do something creative for ME. And without further chit is my latest find - the watch that makes me feel all kinds of fun and pretty.

Thank you,  Jord, for sending me this GORGEOUS accessory - you can see all the women's watches they offer  HERE. So far, I have dressed it up and down - my favorite thing is to pair it with bracelets I already own. This  Maple and Silver watch from the Coral Series goes with any fall outfit - casual or fancy.

In the last few weeks, I haven't left home without this cool watch- even my workout gear seems a bit nicer with this beauty on my arm. Since wearing my new fall staple, I have received compliments on how it looks, but I also LOVE how light this unique watch is. Wear it alone or pile on your favorite baubles; it's certain to turn up any outfit. Head over and check out all the styles they offer. I'm thinking a certain hubby who is turning FORTY soon might need a men's watch, too.


If you are ready for your own little arm treat, I am teaming up with Jord Wood Watches for a giveaway where you could win a $75 credit towards any style you choose. Click the giveaway HERE and go for it.  Don't worry, you will still obtain a $20 credit just for participating! Mama deserves a treat, right?

Thank you all so much letting me break from the norm and some of the heavy I have written lately. And thanks to Jord for giving me something fun to post - it's the little things sometimes.

Have the BEST weekend, friends!
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Jord Wood Watches, and my gorgeous watch is courtesy of them as well. I am so thankful for the opportunity to host this fabulous giveaway! As always, all opinions are my own. #jordwatch #woodwatch #fallaccessories
Wood Watches For Women


Daily Cleaning Schedule (+ Petal Aroma)

When I began my new job as a SAHM, I was not prepared for my new reality. In my past life as a school counselor, the hours and emotional toll were hard – not to mention coming home to a family I hadn’t seen all day. So, I splurged and had a housekeeper come twice a month. With this new job? We cut many indulgences, and the cleaning help was the first to go.

In my new SAHM mind, I would have a spotless house because I would be home to clean. I would have dinner on the table. Laundry would be cleaned, folded, and put away. Are you laughing with me yet? These dreams were far from the new reality.

My baby didn’t sleep; my son placed toys in every corner of our house; and dinner for the first year was pretty much sandwiches, pizza, and take-out. I felt helpless and a mess. What time I had was spent sitting or maybe taking a shower. The house was left to fend for itself. I needed to figure out a way to make cleaning happen because the mess was growing.

After trial and error, and the chaos taunting me, I tried a cleaning method to get my house back in some type of shape. I searched Pinterest for ideas then combined a few to come up with my own. My goal – clean one room or complete one cleaning task a day and do one load of laundry. We are busy moms no matter our work, so chunking the cleaning into pieces gives us time to do other things instead of cleaning for hours on end. And when there's ever free time, who wants to spend it cleaning? I vote for a glass of wine and some Real Housewives anytime.

Here is the schedule I *try* to follow. To be honest, some weeks (like this one right now) is so crazy that I just throw in the towel and do a general pick-up each day. Some days, I don’t do a thing because life and toddlers are tough. And if I don’t clean, I am okay with that. But, I created this schedule for the days I do look around and feel overwhelmed. I remind myself it just doesn't all have to be done in one day.

You can change it to fit your schedule or make it fit your family’s needs and routine. The point is – don’t stress about a clean house. I have learned that slowly over the last four years of staying home. I could pick up one thing only to have it destroyed five minutes later – life will go on, and your kids don’t care about the cleanliness. They want you present with them.

Another trick I follow is to have fresh scents in my home – and I am noticing with a growing boy, we need an extra something to kick it up a notch (stinky feet, anyone?). Thank goodness for Petal Aroma. These pearls are produced using only the purest plant-based essential oils and aromatic isolates derived solely from natural, raw botanical sources. They are non-toxic and eco-friendly! The aromatic pearls can be placed in your favorite decorative bowl (or even a wine glass!) and displayed around your home. My favorite places to have them are the kitchen (the lemon scent is perfect here) and the bathrooms (lavender and vanilla are my next favorites).

And, Petal Aroma's next launch is happening now - with this limited time offer, you can receive 20% off your total order and free shipping. Head to see what treats they have for you by clicking HERE and enter this code at check-out: PETAL_20OFF_959

Make your schedule; pick what rooms/tasks you want to conquer each day; get your fresh scents, then put your feet up and relax. Life is messy so take your time and find what works for you. Even better? If your kids are older, involve them in making the schedule and getting some cleaning done too.

No matter what, don’t stress about cleaning. Some days I have to remind myself that little shoes in the kitchen or food crumbs on the floor show life happens here - and that's better than any mess.

What are some of your cleaning tricks/hacks that work for you?


Why We Need to Talk About Mental Health - Finding the Right Care

When I first felt called to write a post on mental health, it's this topic that first came to mind. Finding care for yourself is so daunting and scary. Not to mention, it can take time - time you may not have when it comes to how you're feeling. No matter if you are in a search for your very first mental health appointment or if you need someone that fits your needs a bit better, I hope this post can help make those choices.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. The information I am sharing is based on personal experience. Before seeking the best fit for your mental health care, please see your regular doctor for guidance.

When talking about mental health, it's great to know your options. Listed below are brief explanations, but again, you know yourself best and what your needs are - I pray that if this topic reaches you, you reach even further. Do your own research and find what exists in your area.


These professionals can perform assessments and offer therapy. They are trained to diagnose as well as do group and individual therapy. They have a doctoral degree in psychology from an accredited program. They will most likely want to talk - think about what you want and if this fits. Talk to them before you begin to see if their plans match your needs.


A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. They can also prescribe medication and may offer counseling. You could work with both a psychiatrist as well as a counselor to find a good balance of talking and further treatment if needed. If you want to "talk it out" and learn strategies to help, ask the psychiatrist if he/she offer this kind of support.


A Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) has a masters degree in psychology, counseling, or related area. In my experience with LPCs, they will do "talk" therapy where you will spend your time sharing and getting feedback. They cannot prescribe medicine but can provide support in helping shape thoughts and/or behaviors. When researching, look for counselors who perhaps specialize in your desired area - post partum help, grief, anxiety, etc.

Social Worker

Social workers have a masters degree in social work and can also make diagnoses, provide counseling, and advocacy. Many are found in the hospital setting. They can be a great resource as you or a loved one seek help.

Primary Care Physician

I included a physician because if you have one you trust, you can speak with him/her about your worries and listen for advice on how to proceed. If you do not have a regular doctor, find one just as you would a mental health professional - carefully and with research. I strongly believe in a good partnership. Have a conversation with your doctor.

Image via Live Life Happy

I had a great counselor after losing a friend then my dad a few years later. She eventually moved, so I had to seek out a new person to help my worry. After some research, I found one who was very kind yet there just wasn't a connection - her eyes often wandered to the clock making me think I was not important. We parted ways prompting yet another search. This one was not taken lightly as I was now a new mom with a whole new set of worries.

I was able to get an appointment in a new office which I used as almost an "interview" to see if we could work together. Instantly, I felt at ease; I felt peace and comfort. She is where I go for my mental health check-ups. Right after my brother died, I called her and was seeing her almost immediately. Based on what I have experienced, here are additional tips to finding care.

Tip #1

Take your time. Interview. Get a feel for the fit. Question. See if your goals match their plans to help.

Tip #2

Pay attention to the office setting and the staff. I strongly believe the office should be organized, calm, comforting, clean, and NICE. You are going there for your mental well being, if they are not nice, I can't imagine that feeling will sit well as you seek help. Pay attention to reviews and health grade websites that rate doctors/professionals. But bottom line, if you don't FEEL safe and secure, you may consider moving on.

Tip #3

If you are looking for a regular doctor, use this same search criteria. I am so blessed to have one who cares for my mental health as well as the physical. I remember panicking (irony) before my first appointment - I kept thinking, "I am not sick. They are going to think I am crazy for making an appointment for anxiety." Somehow, by the grace of God, I walked into the greatest office. This doctor takes his time; he cares, and he works with my concerns. He was crushed to learn of my brother's death and sat with me as I cried. When your mental health is involved, you DESERVE compassion.

Tip #4

Do not be afraid to start a conversation with your chosen care professional if you do not feel things are clicking or you are not making progress. It can be scary to start this dialogue, but it is SO important for you. If where you're seeking help is a good place, he/she will want you to be comfortable and make that progress.

And this is where my drive for these posts come from - my brother's "mental health care professional" was not compassionate. The office staff was not kind - not then and definitely not after his death. It's because of our experience here that I urge you to know your options. Do your research. Write down your reasons for going. Ask all the questions you want. Do not settle because you want a quick fix. Just like when we are physically sick, we need the right treatment. I firmly believe this MUST be the same for our mental well being.

Thank you again for allowing me to share my passion about our mental health. Our hearts. Our futures. I am so blessed that my sweet mom has given me her blessing on sharing more of our story. We pick up more pieces each day still, and I know we feel called to encourage others to advocate for yourself and your loved ones.

As long as there is one person needing to hear these words, our hearts are happy. Remember - you are not alone.

Sources for today's post include Kate Burrows from Mommyhood and Mental Health as well as Mental Health America and National Alliance on Mental Health.
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