10 Things I Hate About You, Anxiety

By: Leah Prescott

23388685185_13243c6afa_o1) I hate that my personality is often stifled by my inner anxiety monster.

2) I hate that anxiety drains me so much, physically and mentally.

3) I hate that anxiety makes even the little things feel insurmountable.

4) I hate that anxiety keeps me from seeing reality.

5) I hate that anxiety eats away at my confidence.

6) I hate that anxiety causes me to miss out on important events.

7) I hate that anxiety causes my guilt to outweigh my joy.

8) I hate that my anxiety might be passed along to my children.

9) I hate that anxiety separates me from people that I love.

10) I hate that anxiety is such a part of me that I cannot ever totally let it go.

 

If you experience any of the above symptoms on a regular basis, you may want to talk with your doctor. Below are resources for additional information about anxiety disorders:

Women’s Health – Anxiety Disorders

National Institute of Mental Health – Anxiety Disorders

WebMD – Anxiety & Panic Disorders Health Center

Coffee, Love and Power

By: Leah Prescott

imageEveryone in my neck of the woods has been talking about Loveland Coffee. It’s a cute little stand in Murraywood Shopping Center in Irmo. As temptingly adorable as it is, with an equally adorable name, I haven’t sampled Loveland yet. I have to admit that I don’t really like to buy my coffee out. Strange, right? I love coffee, and I admit there are lots of restaurants that make better coffee than I do at home. So why not buy coffee out? It’s not just that I am incredibly cheap (although I am).

Upon reflection, I realized that it’s about my coffee philosophy. You see, somehow I believe that coffee is power. Heaven help us if the electricity goes out and disturbs my pre-programmed percolator that begins its magic at 5:52 AM.  I wake up each morning without the strength to face the day until….coffee. If I am out of coffee, I am powerless. If my coffee maker is broken (I’ve gone through many), I fall into despair.

image copyIf coffee is power, how can I relinquish this power to some unknown barista? I have to keep the power for myself. I have to retain the strength in my own territory. So there it is, the reason why I make my own coffee without fail every single day. And, the reason why my sweet husband, who strangely enough does not drink coffee, knows me so well that he gave me a new French Press for Valentine’s Day. There may be 5 Love Languages, but my love language is coffee. Maybe after my third cup of the morning, I will head over to Loveland and relinquish a little of my power in exchange for a spiced latte.

Grandmother Betty Blog Post

By: Leah Prescott

Grandmother Betty

My paternal grandmother, Betty Clayton, was a strong, independent, loving woman who constantly looked for ways to help other people. Widowed in her twenties, she raised her two sons alone and provided fully for their every need. She delighted in hospitality and was passionate about her family. She had a wonderful sense of humor, an amazingly sharp memory, and a perfectly honed rotation of well-loved recipes and traditions to share. She was honest to a fault, outspoken at times and always confident. When I was a teenager, I sometimes found it difficult to get along with her, but now I realize that was because we were very much alike in many ways.

It was impossible to ignore my Grandmother Betty, partially because her frank conversations were always studded with colorful and sometimes perplexing phrases and metaphors. Some were self-explanatory, like “mad as a wet hen” or “just as easy as falling off a log.” Others were more obscure and harder to define, such as “Katy bar the door” which clues everyone in that something bad is going to happen. If you were on the brink of doing something stupid, she would threaten, “Your name will be mud.” When circumstances were looking down, it was “too wet to plow.”

Grandmother Betty

Unexpected company was greeted with the ambiguous, “Well, look what the cat dragged in,” or, only slightly more complimentary, “I haven’t seen you in coon’s age.” When her grandchildren expressed dissatisfaction, she would respond that “if wishes were horses we’d all take a ride.” If she thought what you wished for was ridiculous, though, she’d say “You need that like you need a hole in your head!”

When someone was displayed particular stubbornness, she would declare, “You don’t believe cow horns will hook!”  She would express her own confidence by betting “five dollars to four donuts.” However, if things didn’t turn out like she expected she would be a “sick chicken.” Grandmother often told stories of her childhood when “pennies were scarcer than hens’ teeth.” If an individual were a particular tightwad, she would say he was so cheap he’d “chew paper instead of gum” or say he was “tighter than Dick’s hatband.” A lazy person wouldn’t “take a job tasting pies at a pie factory.” You could fit all she knew “about technology in a hollo’ tooth,” and if the said electronic device failed to operate at all, it was “as dead as Hector.” She scorned the latest “pure stupid” trends by laughing that she “wouldn’t give 5 cents for all of ‘em wrapped up in red paper.”

I miss my Grandmother so much. She left me with many of her recipes, a little bit of her sass, and only a few of her colloquialisms recorded. Maybe one day I can write a book  about all the wonderful memories she gifted our family. I guess I better start working on that book right now. After all, “maybes don’t grow on trees.”

My Favorite Things: Holiday Edition

By: Leah Prescott

If you know me, you know I love LISTS. In fact, I plan to blog soon about my favorite method of life-planning called “notebook journaling” which is essentially creating and collecting lists and lists of lists! Since it is the holiday season, some of the items on this list will be perfect for gift giving; others will be helpful for making the New Year less stressful for your family!

SnowballIndoor Snowball Fight – We are lightening our toy purchases this year for Christmas, but my friend introduced us to these and they are absolutely fabulous. Too light to cause any harm, but somehow heavy enough to really fly through the air, these truly are the closest thing you can imagine to a real, friendly snowball fight. Kids of all ages will enjoy!

Marpac Sound Machines  We are a family that values sleep highly. We make it a point to keep regular bedtime routines for our kids, and when traveling we drag all of our sleep routine items along with us. That includes our Marpac Sound Machines. We are all addicted to the soothing white noise and a calm environment for sleep; and now I don’t have to lug a box fan around everywhere!

Chick-fil-A Cow Calendar –This calendar is a fun (and funny) gift that comes with an offer card to scan each month at the restaurant. Offers include free drinks, fries and nuggets, along with lots of mystery offers. We eat at Chick-fil-A at least once a month so this is a no-brainer. 2016 Calendars are sold out online, but should be available at your local restaurant.

Natural Calm – Since my family has started taking this supplement every day, we’ve had a significant improvement in stomach complaints and anxiety. The inexpensive supplement we use is available on Amazon.

HGTV’s Fixer Upper – I know I’m late to the party, but this show recently came to Netflix streaming and my girls and I are really enjoying it. It’s completely family friendly, which isn’t always the case for other shows in the genre, and moves quickly enough to interest all of us. Now I want to purchase a ramshackle old mansion with the understanding that Chip and Joanna will completely renovate it prior to our moving in.

Instant Pot – I have blogged about this before, but it deserves another mention. I still love it and use it constantly. In fact, I used it twice just today; I hardboiled some eggs for deviled eggs and I made a pot of chili. With 7 functions in 1, this machine should eliminate several other appliances; in fact, it’s like you’re giving multiple gifts at once. The newest version is even blue-tooth enabled!

I considered making this list longer, but I was really trying to stick with things we truly love and recommend. (You can always take a look at last year’s list here for more of my all time favorites.) This has been a year of simplifying for our family, so perhaps my shorter list reflects that. I hope you have a very blessed Christmas Season and a Happy New Year!

The 12 Days of Christmas….Books

By: Leah Prescott

It’s no secret that we love books in my family. However, if it’s possible, we might love Christmas even more. We love decorating for Christmas, pulling out all the family heirlooms, baking holiday cookies, and singing carols. But when we lug the heavy suitcase full of Christmas books from the attic, all the hustle and bustle seems to fade away. We are all in rapt attention, mesmerized by the same stories told year after year.

Christmas Books

Here are some of my family’s favorite Christmas books, in no particular order. Some of them may be familiar, but we have a few unusual choices that you might also enjoy:

  • The Golden Christmas Tree by Jan Wahl – A sweet folk tale with beautiful illustrations.
  • Walt Disney’s Santa’s Toy Shop by Al Dempster – Vintage Disney charm that reminds me of my grandmother.
  • The Candymaker’s Gift by David & Helen Haidle – The legend of the candy cane as it tells the Christ story.
  • The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs – We just have a small board book, but the story of sacrifice is a beautiful one.
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams – A longer story for little readers, but this classic can’t be overlooked.
  • The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy by Jane Thayer – This is a year-long favorite for my dog-loving kiddos.
  • Christmas in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder – This is part of the My First Little House book series, which is one of my favorite picture book series of all time. Beautiful illustrations play perfect tribute to the beloved original series.
  • Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O’Connor – Sparkle, glitter, and a meaningful lesson…literary perfection!
  • Olive, the Other Reindeer by J. Otto Seibold – Just plain Christmasy cute with flaps, scents and pop-ups!
  • Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry – Charming vintage illustrations with an adorable story about animals sharing Christmas.
  • Lassie, a Christmas Story by Earl Hamner – Another echo from my childhood, this book is reminiscent of the 1950s show with a spiritual lesson as the cherry on top.
  • God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren – Mama polar bear tells baby polar bear all about the first Christmas in a gentle way. I love that this book includes mention of Santa (without breaking the magic), but more importantly points to the manger.

Christmas books

In my mind, you can never have too many Christmas books, so you can bet I’ll pick up more this year, even though our house is bursting at its seems. I’ll be watching Amazon’s list of best-selling Christmas books for children and paying frequent visits to my favorite thrift stores, where I often find them for 10 or 25 cents each!

Merry reading this holiday season!

The Tree of Thanksgiving

 

By: Leah Prescott

Out of the entire year, the next few weeks may be my very favorite. The sugar high of Halloween is fading (the trick is: throw away just a few pieces of candy each day, so as not to arouse suspicion) and the full-on panic of the holidays has yet to fully descend. There is a peace and thoughtfulness in this season that I want to stretch out into the rest of my year. You see, I used to love November because it led up to December (and thus Christmas) but now I’m coming to appreciate it more for its own merit. As I grow a little older and (hopefully) a little wiser, I am finding connection to a depth of thankfulness I didn’t understand before. I’m realizing that gratitude isn’t about our circumstances or even despite of our circumstances. In fact, it has nothing to do with our circumstances at all!

As a Christian, I can give thanks for one reason alone: my God is King! (Psalm 95:2-3) That’s something that doesn’t change with my immediate surroundings or even with the turmoil of the world I live in. God is good, and worthy of thanksgiving! Just that knowledge alone lifts my heart and helps put everything else into perspective.

As I’m teaching multiplication and reading about the Renaissance with my little ones, I’m conscious that there are even more important lessons to be learned. I desperately want to give them the gift of gratitude and I welcome your suggestions. I want to share one way of doing so by creating a Thanksgiving Tree.

Thanksgiving Tree

This has been one of our favorite traditions that we have come to look forward to. We choose a few branches and display them in a vase. Throughout the next few weeks, we take turns hanging paper leaves on the tree with things we are thankful for written on each one. This is a simple but special tradition we look forward to, and it makes a beautiful centerpiece. At dinnertime, we read some of them and talk about all we have to be grateful for.

I hope your November is peaceful and full of gratitude!

American Girl World

By: Leah Prescott

A few people have recently asked me about American Girl dolls. I have been a fan of the brand since the 80’s when I first laid eyes on a glossy “Pleasant Company” catalog. I loved that the stories and dolls were linked together with authentic outfits and accessories. Even though I didn’t own my first doll until age 12, I fell in love with the books and the magical world so much sooner. In the early days of AG, there were only three dolls: Kirsten, Samantha and Molly. They represented three different eras in our country’s history and to this day I remember their stories (and the history woven throughout each book) with so much fondness. I re-read some of those books 20 times!

American Girl dolls

Later in the 90’s, the company evolved into “American Girl” and the line of books expanded into dozens of titles, from cookbooks to mysteries to historical guides. Once the Girl of Today dolls were launched, options were expanded and the brand gained popularity. These toys aren’t just for kids. Now American Girl fans of all ages build entire miniature worlds for their doll collections and proudly upload them for the cyber world to admire on YouTube. Book clubs, fan forums, DIY sites and doll trading groups abound.

As a mom, I’ve been thrilled to introduce the book series to my girls and we have enjoyed reading them together. The books contain the perfect mix of fact and fiction and they don’t sugar-coat reality too much. American Girl has gently introduced my children to war, poverty, death, and child hunger. It’s opened up a lot of valuable conversations for us and sparked interest in historical events that otherwise might not have grabbed our attention.

SamanthaIf you are new to American Girl, it can be pretty overwhelming. I feel that it’s always best to start with the books. The AG world can be quite a money pit, but libraries are well stocked with most of the titles. Explore some of the books with your daughter and see if any particularly appeal to her. Relate the books to places you have visited or people you know. Then consider your first doll purchase as an investment. The dolls are expensive, yes, but they are very nice quality and can even be saved as heirlooms. I still have my first American Girl doll and she is in lovely shape. In fact, she could be sold today for more than she cost in the 90’s.

My twins just turned nine and they love playing with their dolls. They build tons of crafts for them (think upcycling milk cartons into doll-sized lemonade stands), write stories starring their favorite characters, and collect random miniature items as doll “treasures.” I love that American Girl helps them savor every bit of childhood as they grow (far too quickly) away from it. I love that it teaches them to value our country’s history. I love that it helps us relate to each other. I really love that American Girl stays true to its original purpose: celebrating girlhood.