name='p:domain_verify'/> Always A New Day : April 2017


Seeking Help: How I Take Care of My Mental Health

When I was 22, I lost someone very important to me. His death was sudden, and it consumed me. My parents wanted me to talk to someone, but I was so hesitant. I fought the idea but because I could see the worry in my dad's eyes, I talked. Then, I talked some more. This wonderful counselor brought me back to life.

Fast forward three years, and that worried, amazing, hardworking dad of mine was gone suddenly, too. I knew exactly where I would find peace and understand this new grief cycle.

Having kids. Changing jobs. Health scares. Anxiety sprinkled with sneaky depression. My previous counselor was gone so I had to find another one. Trial and error until I found my fit. And that fit saves me every two weeks. In the past, I would go when I needed my "fix" - an objective view of how I was dealing with life. But, now with the loss of my brother and all the crazy ass grief that follows, I know I cannot figure it out in one day and I sure as hell can't figure it out alone.

This is why I see a counselor.

There's a huge part of me who is hesitant to share this. But, we get annual check-ups for our physical health, why not the mental? Mental illness and/or mental health is so taboo - it's risky to talk about. It's scary to say you get help. Some people believe you should keep that part of your life to yourself. But, why?

SO many people suffer daily with anxiety and sadness. If you're like me, you can function with anxiety, but you fight like hell to keep it at bay on a daily basis. Mine is all mental. I don't have panic attacks, but I can take a small daily crisis and turn it into the greatest catastrophe. And my special super power is I can do it in about 2.5 seconds. This is why I see a counselor.

I have written before about mental health. I have had great friends find great help just because everyday life is no joke. I also have AMAZING friends who get me - they get that when plans change, I freak a bit. They get that some moments with my busy toddler cause me angst. They get that a story on social media triggers my grief. They get it.

And you know who else gets me? My counselor. She gives me hope. She gives me resources. She opens my eyes every time I go. When I leave, I honestly feel 10 pounds lighter.

And right now, in this crazy grief cycle of anger and sadness (currently stuck between the two - it's a joy), she lets me feel and lets me let it ALL out. Sometimes the things I say even surprise me. She's saving me with every visit.

So there you have it - I said it. I see a counselor. People may be weirded out by that statement. People may think I'm weird. That's okay. But, there may be one person who reads this and says, "ok, I am going to get ME checked out." Heck, even Prince Harry is speaking up about mental health.

Maybe this post is about people understanding me. Understand that while I am mess with my worry, I am trying. Isn't that what we should all do?

Life has been so damn hard, but it has been so damn awesome, too. I may never be cured from anxiety, and grief may continue to go in it's crazy cycle, but I am trying every single day.

That's why I see a counselor.

You can see my other mental health posts by clicking MOM WELLNESS at the top of my page.


5 Camping Tips for Beginners

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend - we sure did! This year, we went on a camping adventure with some sweet friends. Just us, the great outdoors, and no fuss. While I am definitely new to the camping experience - and we have quite a bit to learn - we already have plans to do it all again!

We learned SO much this weekend about what works and what doesn't - from the prep to the camping itself! And just this week, I asked my Instagram friends good vacay ideas for the fam, and an overwhelming majority said camping. If camping is in your summer plans and you've never gone before, you will learn a bit from our mistakes and these 5 camping tips for beginners.


If you want to tent camp, go for it! But, with a high maintenance toddler (and maybe mama but who's counting), we rented an RV! If you're new to the RV world, which we clearly are, rent one first to see how it is. There are SO many options - it's crazy to be honest. For our family of four, we went with a set of bunk beds and a queen bed. Our camper looked similar to this one.

And while we may purchase one some day, we prefer to rent when the camping bug strikes. Feeling out a few is also helpful to picking one we really love. Renting one also helps you learn the ins and outs of RV living - it takes work to get it set up and to take down, so learn away!


God bless our camping friends. We went with three other families who all go camping often. We met to plan our meals, and they sent us packing lists, too. Though we forgot a few staples (the wine opener...hello??), they had back-ups. And, we walked through their campers and took notes on what necessities we would need should we go again. They were life savers!

Find your camping expert buddies and pick their brains. But, better yet - GO CAMPING WITH THEM! You learn as you go!


No matter if you go with friends or go solo, meal plan just as you do at home. Pick a night for grilling or a night for a fish fry (we did both). These RVs have the capacity to cook almost anything, and if you are missing a kitchen appliance/pot/etc, I can bet you can find it and add it to your camping supplies.

Plan out lunches too - we did sandwiches which are easy to tote around as you swim, hike, or picnic. Snacks are easy too - goldfish, chips, cut up fruit, s'mores, and cheese were our favorites. Trust me, you will SNACK like a boss.


This tip is seriously my favorite. I loved packing for this trip - all the graphic tees, shorts, yoga pants, and bathing suits I could find. And, I didn't even bring a hair dryer! Hats, dry shampoo, and boom. You are not fancy, and it's awesome!

Packing for the kids is simple too - play clothes and all their bathing suits. No craziness needed because it's just you, your peeps, and nature.


If you've been reading a while, you know I can get worked up pretty easily. And, I did have crazy scenarios flash through my head about what could happen while out in the wilderness, but once I saw my kids' excitement, I tried to chill. It was nice losing service and not having anyone scream for an iPad. It was nice to sip coffee under the trees. And it was nice to sit around the late-night campfire after the littles went to bed.

You are creating amazing memories with your kids. When you can see their joy (even after a certain toddler melted down like a loon when hiking), it's just plain fun.

Have you been camping before? I'd love to hear tips that made your trip awesome. We are excited for our summer camping adventure - and you can bet I will have that wine opener!

Special thanks to Jane - camping/photographer/breakfast extraordinaire for the help, pictures, and that breakfast I can't stop thinking about!


What Turning 40 Means For Me

Some have commented that I celebrated 40 for a long time. And, we honestly have - Napa in the fall, a surprise birthday gathering in early March, and my Round Top getaway on my actual birthday. It's not about attention at all - it's about letting it just sink in, and I had to - slowly.

Forty means a great deal to an anxious and busy mama. Forty means all the memories come rushing back - as if they happened yesterday. Life goes too fast, you guys. And it's fun, crazy, and bittersweet. No matter what age you turn this year, you are allowed to feel nostalgic, remember the glory days, and even celebrate as long as you see fit!

Before I let it all go and jump right into my fabulous 40s, I wanted to flashback and remind myself what storms and triumphs I've endured.

I still remember when my dad had his first heart attack when I was four.

I still remember moving to that Texas cul-de-sac from Louisiana soon after.

I still remember the epic Halloween parties my neighbors had each year.

I still remember being so afraid I couldn't reach my top locker in middle school.

I still remember being devastated when I didn't make cheerleader.

I still remember how nervous all my friends and I were on the first day of high school so we carpooled in one car.

I still remember my first broken heart.

I still remember sitting on my day bed wondering if my crush would call. On my personal phone line.

I still remember getting my college acceptance letter and knowing that school was the one.

I still remember sorority bid day.

I still remember my first day of student teaching.

I still remember losing Michael. Then Dad. Then Maw-Maw. Then my brother.

I still remember thinking my next door neighbor in my apartment building was cute. Then, I married him 4 years later on one of the best days (and best parties) ever.

I still remember telling my husband we were going to have a baby. Then the day 4 years later when I got to say it again.

I still remember worry. Anxiety. Excitement. Joy. Peace. And repeat over and over again.

These memories are so fresh. Many feel like yesterday. So how can I be 40? The pessimist in me is sad that it all happened so fast. But, then I think how blessed I am. The blessings surround me. I know my repeat emotions will happen, but at 40, I am blessed because I am here. God chose this life for me, and He helped this birthday happen.

The celebrations have ended, but the best year is here. Thanks for being on this ride with me and letting me talk about it for so long.

More memories to come!


Crispy Cheese Cookies

If you follow me on Instagram, I shared a bit of our Saturday on my Insta-stories. Every spring, we have a crawfish boil at our home - in fact, we've been doing it for 17 years! Our friends and family bring their lawn chairs, favorite beverages, treats to share, and we all gather around the big crawfish table and dig in! I have to say - the hubs makes the BEST crawfish.

One of my favorite parts is all the goodies people bring - from zesty apps to decadent desserts, we have quite the buffet. But this year, a friend brought these crispy cheese cookies that were a huge hit. Once I bit into one, I knew I've had them before so I searched my recipe binder and found it to share with you!

Ingredients -

3 sticks unsalted butter
24 oz. sharp cheddar cheese - shredded
3 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 tsp red cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups of rice crispies cereal

  1. Cream butter in a large bowl.
  2. Work in shredded cheese and red cayenne pepper.
  3. Work in flour, salt, and rice crispies.
  4. Take small sections of the mix and form small round balls.
  5. Place each ball in rows on waxed paper lined cookie sheet.
  6. Use the back of a fork to slightly flatten each ball.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until the edges are softly browned.
  8. Cool then enjoy!

These cookies are perfect for parties or a great addition to any meal - even breakfast! The sharp bite of each cookie is so savory. The crunch and the spice is just right, too. Trust me, you will make these and people will want to know exactly what they are!

What a great addition to your Easter brunch. AND, I know we have a while for football season, so PIN THIS recipe and make at your next tailgate!

You will love every bite! If you make them, let me know what you think. Cheese and rice crispies? Who knew!

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