Magnolia Pancake Haus and a Happy Birthday

My little boy turned 10 on Monday. I’m not quite sure how he has a decade under his belt already. It makes me a little sad, but at the same time, I’m so proud of the awesome kid he’s become. He is seriously the best. He’s smart, sweet, funny, and still loves hugging his mom. He’s also well behaved, which is always nice. Because of the arrangement with his dad having him during the summer, I haven’t spent his birthday with him since he was 4. Tell me that’s not messed up. We had to do some rearranging this year, but I got him on his birthday. He didn’t request much for the day. He wanted an apple pie instead of a cake and only picked out 2 things he wanted as gifts.

I had to work all day, so we couldn’t do too much, but I wanted to take him out for breakfast. The kid is a big fan of The Food Network. It’s so fun that he and I can find shows we both like to watch together. He loves Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. We watch it together and make note when the restaurants are near us. When we were in California, we always talked about going to some that were in L.A., but it never happened. After we moved here, he and I checked the show’s website to see what places were local. One of the restaurants that was featured on the show was the Magnolia Pancake Haus. He’s a pancake lover, so what better place to take him for breakfast on his birthday? 

It was a normal restaurant in what seemed to be a small strip mall. There was a salon or spa next door. The little one ordered pancakes and bacon off the kids menu. The 10 year old and I decided to get waffles, each a different kind, to share. He had the apple cinnamon and I got the bacon waffle. We got a waffle. One waffle. We both agreed that it should have come with a side. $7-$8 for a waffle is a bit much in my opinion. The service was good though and we got our food fast. 

I asked him to rate the restaurant and he easily did. He declared the food to be super, de-duper, awesomely good, while I thought it was just good, but nothing special. I wouldn’t drive out of the way for it.
This was fun though. We’ll have to make a point to check out more restaurants. He is pretty open to trying anything new, unlike his sister. 



San Antonio Botanical Garden

A couple weeks ago, the little one and I made a trip to the San Antonio Botanical Garden. I love any kind of planned garden, but the husband is always meh about it, so the kids get forced to go. We had a good time though. It was hotter than balls, but we powered through and rejoiced when we found a vending machine that took credit cards. 

The garden is 38 acres though with different sections throughout like the formal garden, the Texas Hill Country, South Texas, rose garden, and the Japanese garden.  They currently have a Rainforest Adventure exhibit which is geared towards kids. She proclaimed it to be her favorite part of the day. They have different events and exhibits throughout the year and some look really fun, like Family Flashlight Night. I’m going to have to make a calendar reminder for that. 

PTSD And Sleep…Or Lack Thereof

A few days ago, my daughter and I were in the car, driving to get her a haircut. Her dad had bought her a super sized Blow Pop and after eating the sucker part, she managed to get all the gum in her hair. I cut it out, but it looked horrible, so her back to school haircut was coming a little early. Out of nowhere, she commented that she wished her daddy was normal. That caught me off guard. I asked her what she meant and she said she wished he was able to do fun things with her all the time. That is about the saddest conversation we’ve ever had. I explained that he just wasn’t feeling good that day and we talked about all the fun things they do together. 

She had been bugging him all day to take her to the pool. Problem was that he hadn’t been feeling good all day and he hadn’t slept the night before. The lack of sleep isn’t abnormal for him though. Like a lot of vets with PTSD, he has problems sleeping. On average, he’ll barely sleep for 2-3 days, then crash hard. For this reason, I let him sleep when I see him sleeping. He has tried numerous over the counter and prescription sleep aids and nothing has worked for him. He has tried every trick in the book to fall asleep and it doesn’t work. He’ll just lay there for hours or eventually get up and do something else. He is to the point where he is so accustomed to it that he just carries on and naps if he can. 

A study  performed by the Sleep Disorders Laboratory at the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson, MS, found that 70 to 90 percent of those with PTSD also suffer from sleep disturbances. PTSD sufferers have much higher cases of insomnia, nightmares, restless sleep and also sleep-related breathing disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea..

There are  a number of chemicals in the brain that can affect sleep regularity and insomnia. Norepinephrine, which creates the flight or fight response in us, is one of the chemicals that helps regulate sleep, but when there is trauma involved, it deregulates the sleep cycle and can play a part in depression and decreased attention. It also has a role in memory, but with trauma, the memories aren’t always filed correctly in the brain.

Serotonin also mediates sleep, as well as memory and learning, but again, these are disrupted after trauma. Serotonin helps keep behavior in balance, but after trauma and high levels of norepinephrine, it’s effectiveness goes down, leading to hostility and depression. When the brain has too much cortisol, it messes up the sleep cycle. Cortisol is an anti-stress hormone that is mean to reduce the norepinephrine flight/fight response.

Sleep is also affected by an increase in dopamine, with REM sleep being affected by a reduction in acetylcholine. On top of that the adrenaline suppresses the immune system. That right there tells you why he has sleep problems and gets sick more than he should. The body can’t heal without rest. When these guys aren’t sleeping, their bodies can never completely heal. I think his sleep has gotten worse since I first met him. 

After I attended the Caregiver’s Retreat in May, I realized how normal this was. So many wives there said the exact same thing. Their husbands just don’t sleep and it affects other areas of their lives. The therapist who spoke to us that day, which is where I learned the above information, even asked whose husband’s only slept every few days. Who knew it was so normal? 

Tips For Sending Kids Back To School After A PCS

Back to school can be a crazy time. When a military family throws a summer PCS into the mix, it can get a little extra crazy. The kids get to head back to school to a new school, in a new place, where odds are that they don’t know anyone. It can be tough. We PCSed when my son was in kindergarten, between second and third grade, and again in the middle of fourth grade. He always did surprisingly well, but he was still worried about making friends and if he would be in the same place academically. Here are a few tips to help your military kids head back to school. 

1. Meet other kids prior to school starting. This isn’t always possible, but if you are on base or even off base in neighborhood, get out and meet your neighbors. Have the kids introduce themselves to kids playing outside. Any friends before the start of school will be a boost to their confidence. The new friends can help them navigate the bus and possibly the new school.

2. Take the kids to visit or tour the new school. This will allow them to meet the office staff and be familiar with where certain places, like the cafeteria, gym, and office are.

3. When you register them, make sure you have all the correct documents. This includes emergency contacts. This is a good reason why you should get to know your neighbors. I’ve had people I barely knew ask if they could put me as an emergency contact and I agreed, because odds are they didn’t know anyone else.  When the kids started in the middle of this past school year, I racked my brain for emergency contacts and ended up using my ex-husband and his wife for both kids. 

4. Talk to the school and let them know you are a military family. We lived in places where the school was entirely familiar with it and other schools where they knew next to nothing about the military. If they do have a lot of military students, they may have groups for kids with deployed parents and know how to deal with such situations.

5. Allow the kids to have feelings. Some kids will take it all in stride, while others are mad/sad about leaving their old school and friends. Talk to them about it, Skype or (if old enough) use social media to keep in touch with old friends. They don’t have to leave old friends when they move and knowing that can make the process easier.

This post is sponsored by Lincoln Military Housing, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Easy Homemade Dog Shampoo

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PetsLoveBeyond #CollectiveBias

If you haven’t noticed (because I talk about him all the time), our dog is truly a member of our family. He is such a good dog and we all love him. He is a great protector of me and the kids. He sits in my office all day with me and watches the world from the window. I think he loves that we have low windows so he can see everything. He will alert me if anyone he doesn’t know comes to the door. When the neighbor kids come by, he just goes to the door so he can say hi. When someone he doesn’t know comes to the door, he starts growling, so I know it’s a stranger. If I open the door, then he knows it’s ok. I’m almost scared to see what he would do if someone actually tried to hurt us. He is the sweetest dog ever and I’ve never seen him hurt anything besides a fly (he’s pretty good at catching and then eating them), but at the same time, I think he would do anything to protect us.

He takes care of us, so we take care of him. I already make some of his treats and I’m always on the hunt for a new dog food. Have you tried Purina® Beyond® Natural Grain Free dog food? I saw it at H-E-B the other day and I love that it’s got more natural products and has good stuff as the top ingredients. I’m seriously on a mission to find him a healthy food that he loves and I’m hoping this does the trick. I also started thinking about his shampoo. The shampoo we had for him has all these hazards listed on, hazards to humans, hazards to domestic animals, hazards to the environment. There is also instructions for storing and disposing of pesticides. So basically, I’m putting harmful pesticides on my dog. No thanks. We really need to start looking beyond the label for what’s really in the things you use. The more natural the better!  

I decided to make my own shampoo. It was super easy and I had everything at home already. Forgive his face. He hates baths. He tolerates them at best and is always trying to sneak out of the tub. Like I’m not going to notice. 

1 cup dish soap – a clean or organic dish soap is best, but you can use any kind
2 cups water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of organic coconut oil – this may need to be adjusted depending on the size of your dog
Optional – a few drops of essential oils – make sure to use one that is safe for your dogs skin and not just any oil you find at the store

Add all the ingredients together in a jar or container, put the lid on tight, and shake it up good to mix together. Dogs have different skin just like us, so try using it once to ensure it doesn’t dry your dog’s skin our, then you can edit the recipe to fit your dog’s needs. Our dog is medium sized, about 50 lbs, and didn’t have any issues from this shampoo. 

Between homemade treats, homemade shampoo, and Purina® Beyond® Grain Free dog food, I think he is set! What natural products do you use for your pets?