Saturday, May 28, 2016

Summer List '16

Oh yes, summer is nearly here and we can't wait!! We have big plans for this to be the best. summer. ever. Here is a list of everything we want to do this summer:

* spend lots of time with family
* day at Delgrosso's new water park
* buy a camper
* 4-wheeler rides
* tube down the river...multiple times
* buy kayaks
* have a picnic in the middle of the woods (without getting a tick please and thank you)
* car shows
* go to Erie for the day
* make homemade pizza
* watch fireworks
* county fair
* late night campfires
* read on a blanket at the beach
* get ice cream
* swim a LOT
* horseback riding
* fish...and fish...and fish...and fish...
* time with friends
* spend a week at the beach + boardwalk
* parades
* movie nights
* camping with friends
* walk
* have a girls weekend
* make homemade popsicles

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Parenting A Child With Anxiety

Just get over it.

Stop worrying then.

Learn how to deal with life.

It's time to grow up.

I've heard every one of those statements when speaking to someone about my daughters anxiety disorder.  I truly believe these comments come from a heartfelt place, I have to believe that.  And though those statements are hard to hear, and send a pang of sadness to my heart, I know it's simply because they are uneducated about anxiety disorders.  

So with this blog post, I want to give you a glimpse into parenting a child that has been diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, slight OCD and Dyslexia.

With an anxiety disorder, the anxiety is daily, if not multiple times a day. It can happen during the day, or it can wake you out of a sound sleep. The symptoms are countless; heavy breathing, weakness, dizziness, vomiting, racing heart, migraines, mental exhaustion and a list of symptoms that can go on for pages. Once the attack is over, exhaustion sets in.

I'm in these trenches daily, and I can assure you that just getting over it isn't a possibility.  If it was, don't you think she would have chose that option a long time ago?  The debilitating problem with anxiety and panic disorders is that you simply can’t calm down.  There’s this stigma about anxiety that it’s just fear and being nervous. That doesn’t even come close.

Many times with her anxiety attacks, she has no idea what the trigger even was.  Waking in the middle of the night in the middle of an attack.  Lying in bed at night reading a book, and an attack comes on.  How do you prepare yourself for those?

Do you know how many teens are in crisis? In the throes of mental illness or depression? MILLIONS. So do the math: that means millions of parents are suffering alongside teens that are suffering.

An easy target for judgment or shame, so many families in crisis struggle alone, afraid or embarrassed or just too exhausted to reach out. Society expects three-year-olds to act like raging lunatics, but yet we don’t know what to do with a teen that has debilitating anxiety attacks.

Because we live in a society where blame has to be placed, so often parents get the side eye: What did you do wrong? What didn’t you do right? What could you have done differently?  Why do you baby them? There is no parenting formula that ensures any child’s path. Families in crisis don’t need a jury of their peers; they need a community of support.

Then there is the very real reality of mental illness and emotional disorders that many teens are battling. If a child had liver failure, we would support those parents wanting to go to the ends of the earth for medical care.  We would be the greatest support network, and all the earth would rally to fight for their health. Yet, so many of our teens are physically broken in their minds and hearts.   But instead of a chorus of support, their families receive silence or judgment or disappointment which compounds grief and lays a heavy yoke on those who are already suffering.

I want you to know what it's like to be a Mama to a child with severe anxiety.  I want you to read my words.  To feel, if even for a moment, how I feel.  And to try your best to understand.

It is sitting in the bathroom with your 5-year-old daughter during a thunderstorm.  Reassuring her that it will be over soon.  And sitting patiently with her while she vomits for hours.

It is climbing to the very top of an inside playground, because my 6-year-old is frozen in fear and afraid to come down herself.

It is your 7-year-old enduring two months of bedtime vomiting because she thinks she may have ate something that would cause her to die.

It is taking your third-grader to therapy for an eating disorder.  Telling her that even though they had an assembly on "healthy eating", that doesn't mean she should just choose not to eat for fear of every food choice being unhealthy.

It is countless trips to the school to sit through meetings.  Listening to her be called lazy, inattentive and compared to her older brother.  Begging for years for them to listen to my mother instinct, and test her for dyslexia.  And endlessly being my daughters advocate.

It is always ordering her food for her and speaking for her because of her fear of saying the wrong thing.

It is always accompanying her to the buffet because of her fear of going alone.

It is avoiding stressors will cause an instant trip to the bathroom to vomit.  It is always having a plan and a way out.

It is taking your 14-year-old into a funeral home.  And when you walk in, she freezes and is unable to speak or walk.  It is helping her through the funeral home until you can get her to the car.

It is scurrying to shut the TV or radio off as soon as a storm or tornado warning comes on, and hoping she didn't hear it.

It is watching her suffer through a flair-up that lasts weeks on end.  Daily vomiting and losing nearly 20 pounds.  

It is your Mama heart breaking over and over again because you feel so helpless, but wish you could take it for her.  And crying silent tears into your pillow.  I can reassure her. I can encourage her and prepare her for change, but I can not take her anxiety away.

It is having a front seat to her life, watching her grow into a kind, tenderhearted Jesus loving girl.  A girl who has such a heart for kids with special needs because of her own struggles.

It is listening to her quote verses and telling you the night before she prayed during her anxiety attack.

It is so much more than just needing to grow up and learn to deal with life.  This is our life.  This is our normal.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

One of the hardest, saddest valleys I've ever walked through was a breakup with my best friend.  The pain was real, and deep.  The tears would come without warning.  The waves of anger and confusion would crash daily.  My heart was shattered, and I felt so alone.

Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever. 
1 Samuel 20:42

How beautiful is that? I mean, that's hallmark movie stuff right there. We have sworn friendship to each other in the name of the Lord. Doesn't that just make you smile and make your heart happy? Yeah, me too.  How many of us crave a friendship like that? Those true, genuine friendships are one of life's real blessings.

I thought true friendships were supposed to last forever? Surely I'm not the only woman that makes that assumption when entering a friendship.

So when a friendship ends virtually without notice, I'm left standing, mouth agape, wondering where it went wrong...where I went wrong...what did I do wrong?

How is it possible that in the blink of an eye, someone can turn around and walk away without even looking back?

No breakup hurts quite as badly as a breakup with your best friend. It's a feeling I never knew existed until it happened. It's a punched-in-the-gut, breathtaking feeling in a horrible way.

It's not my story to tell, so I can't even share any incite on how to keep a friendship from ending. But I can tell you that breakups hurt, whether you were in love with someone or just loved by them.

And tell me sweet girls, aren't we all afraid to talk of the breakup to others? Don't we fear being labeled as a gossip? Or that others will think we are wacky, needy, clingy and overly invested? I didn't want to be judged for being brokenhearted over an ended friendship.

I simply needed to know how to heal from a breakup that no one else would label a breakup.

The most frustrating, and absolutely sad part was is in my heart I honestly felt as if I was a good friend. I put so much effort into that friendship. I was devoted. I was faithful. I did all the right things in hopes of finding a heart-friend.

The only place I knew to run to without being judged for my feelings, and my heartbreak, was to God. I ran to Him quickly, and daily. And in that gap between my heartbreak and His healing, I chose to trust His timing.

And I will tell you this, years later, I realize wholeheartedly it was what was best for me. While I hate that the friendship ended, I don’t regret what came of it. What it revealed in me when that friendship was stripped away was not healthy and Jesus needed a wide path in to heal some things in me. To make beauty from those ashes.

But girls, listen to me closely, don't be afraid to share! You have no idea how many of us have been heartbroken by a breakup with a friend. And when you speak of it, with an honest heart, you will see other teary-eyed women nodding their heads and agreeing. So many of us have walked through friendships that have ended. You aren't alone!

And while I can't fix it for you, and I can't take away your heartache, I can tell you this.

Don't be afraid to call it a breakup.

Don't be afraid to talk about it.

Run directly to Him. He wants to hold your broken heart in His hands and with His loving grace, piece it back together.

And somehow He will make beauty from your ashes.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Happy Birthday To My Love

Today is my loves birthday. This man. You guys. Oh....he's a gift. He's a gift to me every single day. But I'm so glad that he has so much abundance in him, because it just extends to everyone around him - including all of you. It's so beautiful to witness that first hand each day.

He turns 43 today!!! So I'm going to continue the tradition and list 43 reasons (in no particular order) WHY I am totally, utterly and completely head over heels in love with him...

1. Watching you grow in your walk with the Lord, I love that so very, very much. It makes this tenderhearted wife teary. I adore your willingness and heart to help walk alongside other Christian men.

2. You are THE best dad ever, hands down.

3. You amazingly lead this household.

4. Your love and compassion for animals {Cutlers home for wayward animals}

5. It doesn't matter what size I am, you always tell me how beautiful and sexy I am. And I totally believe you see me like that. You have no idea how much that means to me and how much I appreciate it.

6. 100% devotion to your family, always…

7. That big plow truck you drive.

8. How you get totally excited about the same simple country pleasures I do. Whether it's a loaf of homemade bread, a new recipe to can or a late night 4 wheeler ride.

9. You will let a little girl do your hair, makeup and paint your nails...just to make her smile.

10. I love that you always stop to help people who are stranded on the side of the road. I love that you're so willing to help a stranger.

11. I can ask you to go anywhere...and you will...on a complete whim…totally willing to drive every single time.

12. You always know the absolute perfect time to give me a hug accompanied by "it will all work out babe". P.S. you give the best hugs ever!

13. Your voice still melts my heart after all these years. It instantly takes me back to that day 20 years ago…when you sing "that" song I get tears in my eyes still.

14. Long summer 4-wheeler rides ( sneaking in some snuggle time)

15. You are just as obsessive about Big Brother (new season soon!) as I that.

16. Your willingness to send me to a womens faith retreat just because you know how much I want to go and how much I need it…while you stay home all weekend with the kids…you have NO idea how much this means to me!

17. You explain football calls to me {and basically every other aspect of the game}. Even though you know perfectly well that I'll ask the same questions during the next game.

18. You always support matter what, no questions asked...and that is so comforting.

19. I'm fairly sure you're just as chicken obsessed as I am!

20. You hissing at the woman in Walmart...seriously...almost peed my pants…CLASSIC!

21. Those shoulders, yeah, I still love them super huge amounts.

22. You totally kick my booty at geography, and I'm happy you do. While my "Amy map" is entertaining at times, it wouldn't get us very far.

23. You let me take pics of you even though you HATE having your picture taken. Even if you don’t smile, I still appreciate it (and I think you secretly do enjoy those pics sometimes)

24. Your passion for all types of music.

25. Your silly songs you can make up on a moment’s notice. Even though they are about me sometimes (it's ok...I act mad but secretly laugh inside)

26. You're always so quick to apologize to me even though you know I’m not so quick (or good) at it.

27. Your selfless heart.

28. Still having a smokin' hot marriage after nearly 20 years.  Yeow.

29. Sneaking around the corner and see you doing a crazy dance with the kids. Yeah, I saw it, many times. And every time it makes me smile.

30. Your obsession with the news, politics and gun rights. You ALWAYS know what is going on. That's a good thing, because I never do.

31. How you always know the EXACT words to make me feel better instantly.

32. Your love of trucks equals that!!!  

33. I love that you hold my hand while you drive.

34. How easy it is for you to make me or others around us laugh HARD.

35. After I had Jade, you told me "Thank you for giving me a perfect little girl" and kissed me on the forehead.  I will NEVER forget that moment.

36. You thinks it’s hilarious to chase me around the house, with me screaming like a freak, after we watch a scary movie. You laugh every.single.time. And, without fail, I will scream even though I know it's you. And if I pee my pants you laugh even harder, yeah, good times (eye roll)

37. You love self expression just as much as I do. I kinda love our long conversations about tattoo ideas.

38. You’re a little bit rock-n-roll to my little bit country {okay, so I’m a lot country}

39. With all my sicknesses, operations and hospital stays over the last few years you never ONCE hesitated to jump in and take over everything yourself. Never once complaining of the extra workload on you, on top of your full-time job. You were such an amazing blessing!

40. Your daily "uniform"…T shirt, jeans and work boots…enough said.

41. Even when your skin is melting off you still let me cuddle…all night long…I don't know what I would do without my "furnace". 

42. I love that if I say "Let's pay for their dinner", even though they're a stranger you will pay for it without even questioning me.

43. Simply because you are just YOU…the man I feel in love with 20 years ago…the man I still love madly, more and more everyday…

Happy Birthday sweet boy! I love you! Sharing my life with you is one of the greatest gifts of my life.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day to my Mama Marylee. I love you such crazy amounts. I am so grateful for your faith and your never ending courage. You are an amazing example of not only how I should strive to be as a mother, but how I should strive to be as a daughter. The care you gave grandma for years on end was such beautiful selfless love. I am so thankful I got to witness it. You are such a great example of who I should strive to be as a woman. I thank God every single day for the hand He had in all our lives. I am so glad that God answered your prayers 30ish years ago {give or take a few} for a baby to love. I am truly so blessed that baby was me. THANK YOU!

And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
Matthew 18:5

Happy Mothers Day to my birth-mother Lois. I love you and I thank God every single day for the hand He had in all our lives. I am extra thankful that He allowed me to find you {and my brothers} after all those years. Thank you for having an absolute selfless heart all those years ago, without your choice I wouldn't be where I am today.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
Psalm 139:13

To celebrate these two super special women in my life I've written a poem. Love you both!!

Two strong women impacted my life
From the very start.
God joined these women together,
Placed a common thread between their hearts.

In one so young, He created a life,
A beautiful baby girl.
In the other, He placed a longing in her heart
Weighing it heavily on her soul.

The first, heartbroken and confused but faith strong,
Knew the baby wasn't hers to raise.
She watched as the baby was taken from her arms,
And knelt down to God in praise.

As tears rolled down her face,
Filled with a void and so many fears.
She knew the choice was Gods will,
And was so wise beyond her years.

The second, so hopeful with faith strong,
Asked God for a baby to love.
When the sweet girl was placed in her arms
She knew it was a gift directly from above.

Her eyes welled with tears,
looking at the new life entrusted to her care.
"I'm going to raise you with lots of love", she said,
"enough that you can share."

There were tears full of sadness
As one young mother’s heart wept.
There were cries of gladness
As one mother’s heart leapt.

Two very different woman,
With a common selfless heart.
Each asking for God’s guidance,
Following it from the start.

These two special women,
They are forever joined heart to heart
By the same awesome God,
That has been there from the start.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

The Perfect Job

With Mothers Day being tomorrow, I wanted to take time to focus on these sweet littles right here.

Many of you have heard my story of always always just wanting to be a Mama when I grew up. I know God saw my heart. He paired me with the two most perfect littles, completing this family. They both add just the right amount of uniqueness, humor, sincerity, wisdom and crazy.

My job as a mother has been to create a home of love, laughter, security and nourishment, where they can cry without fear, grow without judgment, and discover without prejudice. I'm not perfect and have failed at times {many, many, many times}.

I love you both crazy amounts. Thank you for allowing me to be a Mama, your Mama, the most perfectly perfect job I've ever had.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Hello. Goodbye.

Hello May flowers, goodbye April showers {well, normally but not this year}
Hello month full of birthdays

Hello full schedule, goodbye down time
Hello broody hen and my first "real" hatch

Hello lots of 4wheeler dates, goodbye evenings sitting at home
Hello checking out all the new Amish farms and bake sales
Hello multiple proms

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

God is Watching Over You {Book Review}

God is Watching Over You
By P.J. Lyons 

About the book:
As a follow up to their bestselling Thank You, Lord, for Everything, P.J. Lyons and Tim Warnes have created a sweet and relaxing padded cover board book that tells the story of God’s constant presence around you. Meant to be read at night, when a child is warm and snug in their bed, the rhyming text and adorable illustrations in God Is Watching Over You gently remind us that God is constantly watching over us, protecting us, and caring for us.
This book is the absolute cutest!  The book itself is sturdy and measures about 8 inches by 8 inches. The cover is a little plush, and the pages inside are made of solid cardboard, so the book will endure many nights of reading.

The illustrations by Tim Warnes make the book extra special and oh so cute. This book held the attention of the littles in my Sunday School class the entire way through. And we even had to look through it again, so they could look again at the sweet little fluffy sheep family.  Continually throughout the book, it says that God is always watching over you, no matter what you're doing.  Such a great point to reinforce with our littles.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Meal Planning Monday

Monday - Omelets {eggs, banana peppers, smoked provolone and ham}

Tuesday - BBQ Bacon Sushi Rolls and Broccoli with Cheese

Saturday - Out to dinner

Sunday - Oven Baked Chicken, Smoked Bacon Wrapped French Vidalia Onion and Broccoli Salad 

Monday, April 04, 2016

Meal Planning Monday

Monday - Cheesesteak Sliders

Tuesday - Beef and Broccoli with rice and lo mein

Wednesday - Cucumber Party Slices {recipe below}

Thursday - Crockpot Italian Chicken

Friday - Broccoli Cheddar Soup and Homemade Bread Bowls

Saturday - Out to dinner

Sunday - French dip beef sammy, bacon cheese fries and homemade ranch {recipe below}

Party Slices

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 (2/3 ounce) package dried Italian salad dressing mix
1 pillsbury french loaf bread
1 cucumber

Bake your french loaf and let it cool. Slice loaf and lay cut side down. Combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth. spoon or pipe onto bread slices. Slice cucumbers into 1/8” slices. Place cucumber slice on top of prepared bread pieces.
Homemade Ranch

3 tablespoons dried onion flakes
2 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon parsley flakes (i used a mix of italian spices)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder


Combine all ingredients and store in airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 12 months. Follow directions below to make dip or dressing. For Dip: In a bowl, combine 1 tbl of dry mix with 1 cup of dairy sour cream. Refrigerate for one hour before serving. Makes 1 cup of dip for chips or veggies.
For Dressing: Mix 1 cup of mayo with 1 cup of buttermilk and add 1 tbl of dry mix. Shake or whisk to combine well and refrigerate. Makes 2 cups of salad dressing.  

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Why We've Always Tried To Be THAT House

When our littles entered school, we eventually found ourselves faced with a challenge.  So-and-so was having a sleepover and our child was invited.

All parents have had that dilemma at one time or another.  We don't want our littles to miss out on the fun sleepovers we experienced as kids, but the world seems much scarier once your a parent.

My husband and I talked it over privately and both had the same answer...although we weren't going to allow them to go to the sleepover, we didn't want to say no and just leave it at that.  Our answer was always invite them here.

And that's how we became THAT house.

We knew the benefits of a sleepover done right were enormous.  And how better to ensure it was done right than to have it in our own home.

Throughout the years, we've had countless sleepovers here.  Late nights, silliness, laughter and enormous amounts of food consumed (especially by teenage boys).

But, sleepovers always came with rules and my littles knew that.  We never cared who they invited as long as they followed our rules.

What we didn't realize was the opportunity we would have to pour into littles that weren't ours.  Or how many littles craved, and loved, having rules and boundaries.  And how many talks I'd overhear during the evening where I could interject my Mama advice.  And how those things, in turn, gave those littles respect for us.

We knew early on we weren't going to disappear during sleepovers.  I refused to be one of those parents who were banished to their room during a sleepover so the children had their run of the house.  If they were watching a movie, we were watching a movie.  If they were eating pizza, we were eating pizza.

In no means does this mean we were helicopter parents.  In fact, we were the opposite.  If you need a drink, get up and go get it.  Mama has 4 more lives and candy to crush, ha!

It was all part of setting and adhering to rules.  And establishing how our house ran.  We are the parents and they are the children, therefore, they do what we say and not vice-versa.

And while we are serious about our rules, we are also serious about having fun.

I've been part of enormous amounts of laughter, car dance parties {which I am a big supporter of}, living room dance parties, charades, tea parties and 4 wheeler rides.

And as our littles got older, the rules staid the same.  And guess what, the friends kept coming!

We had successfully became THAT house, the house teenagers LIKE to hangout at.  What better than knowing where you teens are on a Saturday night...because they're sitting beside you on the couch with their friends/girlfriends watching a movie and eating pizza with you.  Or having teenagers call you Mama Cutler because you've poured into them over the years.

This reminds me so much of Proverbs 31:28.  How amazing to have the sanctification of your littles praise.  As a Mama, you honored the Lord and your children {and many others} watched that and soaked it all in. They've watched you being gentle, kind, compassionate and generous. They've watched you having a servants heart and sacrificing your time for others. They've watched you pray, seek and trust while living and walking with God.

It's true y'all, inside the walls of our own home is where us Mamas will do the most important work of our lives!

Her children arise and call her blessed; 
her husband also, and he praises her: 
“Many women do noble things, 
but you surpass them all.” 
Proverbs 31:28-29

Friday, April 01, 2016

Hello. Goodbye.

Hello April, goodbye March
Hello spring and long awaited sunshine, goodbye {hopefully} gloomy days
Hello flowers, goodbye snow

Hello first pedicure of 2016, goodbye neglected, naked toes
hello mini-vaca with my love
hello next egg hatch

what are YOU saying hello and goodbye to?