big girls | p+j update

its been a hot minute since I did an update on the big girls. we’ve gone through a TON of change over the last 6 months since I posted a little update about whats been going on with them- aside being a couple of really cute 5 year olds that make me laugh my head off every single day. if you remember when I posted HERE about Parker and Jolie, life was a big fat headache of confusion and flailing emotions.

things have gotten much better. actually, I have a couple of very happy little girls these days. which is a far cry from the emotionally distraught kids + sleepless nights and meltdowns every single day that lasted 2+ hours or more.  we’ve been able to grasp their needs both together and separately and have hit a groove that has helped them thrive and flourish into their fifth year.

its been good. so I decided to give a little update on whats been going on! 

Jolie Grace

our sweet fighter! y’all, she’s been through more in her 5 years of life than I have at 33. I am happy to report that her anxiety and worries have resolved.. which happened on its own and she hasn’t had any more trouble sleeping or having to be connected at my hip 24/7 as she did over the summer when we were right in the thick of trying to figure out what in the world was going on with her. finally getting a PFAPA diagnosis, back in august, was the greatest relief of all- we have some resolution to what is plaguing our girl. since that diagnosis we have been dealing with the episodes that come every 6-8 weeks. we treat the symptoms as they come and with the support of her doctors we have opted out of medications/steroids to offset the symptoms- the side effects are much worse on her little body. over the holidays we were hit with back to back fever episodes.. the second one I thought was flu because it followed so quickly from the first one, but flu test was negative and so was strep. I thought for sure we were going to be able to get through Christmas without an episode but no such luck, I suppose. she finally stopped running fever on Christmas Day but it was still a slow day- she’s pretty lethargic the following two or three days while she’s recovering.we go back to the rheumatologist in a couple weeks where we will talk about getting her tonsils and adenoids removed. most kids with PFAPA have 100% relief of their symptoms and become fever free when these are taken out, so we are hoping for the same result, especially as she walks into kindergarten in August. she won’t be able to attend enough school if she’s missing 11-14 days every quarter due to high fever and feeling like complete garbage. these last two episodes seem to be worse than ones before, and her lymph nodes are getting larger and more painful to the touch with every fever causing her to refuse all food. we pretty much feed her whatever she will eat!

I’ve heard getting her tonsils taken out is a terrible recovery process, but its worth it and we will be prepared as best we can to help it go smoothly for her. as always, I’m open to all the tips and tricks you mamas have for us!

in between her fever episodes she’s our easy going free spirit. never failing to offer her opinion and BFF to Baker and her puppy.

Parker Jane 

this girl is such a light. days with her can swing from absolutely amazing to absolutely exhausting. she has the most genuine soul on the planet and deeply loves everyone close to her. those same emotions that make her heart so big are ones that are occasionally uncontrolled causing incredible outbursts.  I mentioned in my last update (HERE) that Parker was having insane outbursts and I felt totally defeated as to what to do for her or how to manage it. she would sob for hours on end after an angry and destructive fit over nothing I could pinpoint- every fit was for an unrelated reason and every fit seemed to get worse than the last.

my decision to stay home with the kids was strongly influenced by the emotional changes Parker was going through- she said multiple times to her dad that she would be happy if my mama was home every day.  the transition from my working 4 days/week to being home full time was exhausting. I could have never imagined something like that to be so difficult, and I arrogantly thought it would be ‘easy’. I was so excited and very thankful to be home with my babies, but to say it was easy..

back at the end of October I made an appointment with our pediatrician. it wasn’t a sick visit or a well visit, it was a psychological visit. did you know pediatricians have this kind of visit? I didn’t. we previously met a couple times with a social worker to discuss Parker’s behavior, but I actually found little resource in her guidance- she was amazing, but I felt like Parker was a little far from her scope, if that makes sense?  during our appointment with Dr. Butler I shared videos I recorded of a couple of Parker’s fits.  they were loud and scary.. bringing tears to Jolie’s eyes as she relived one particular fit in the car when Parker unbuckled herself and refused to sit back down causing my need to pull over. Jolie was really distraught in those intense moments and I could see the same look of distress once again when she could hear the video as Dr. Butler watched.

I agreed to this visit and was open to hearing what Dr. Butler said but I was very adamant that I did not want to medicate her. I didn’t want to take away my amazing kid. her personality. her love. her joy.. I was terrified (and uneducated) that a medication for her behavior would change her in some way.

SIDE NOTE: I want to be clear that I do understand the need for some children to be medicated. nothing is wrong with that I just want to make sure I touch all the bases before resorting to that because thats what we feel is best in our situation.

Dr. B agreed that she didn’t think she needed to be medicated for something along the lines of ADHD yet, although she has very strong signs and symptoms that point in that direction, she isn’t comfortable at this age putting her on a stimulant. what she did recommend was L-Theanine. she shared studies and encouraging information regarding the use of this supplement in children with anxiety. basically, its a naturally occurring amino acid that influences the dopamine and serotonin in the brain encouraging those that take it to chill out.

improved cognitive function, alleviate ADHD symptoms, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep 

after researching it a bit more on my own I found this supplement for kids called “relax-a-saurus”. its a chewable dinosaur shaped l-theanine blend supplement. I went out on a limb and picked a bottle up at GNC, and later found it in bulk on amazon.

it took four days for us to see a difference in Parker. and when I say difference I mean DIFFERENCE. since then she takes it once a day, in the morning, and that chewable lasts about 10-12 hours. it relaxes her to think through tasks thoroughly without getting upset when something isn’t going as she expects it. she gets along with her sisters and with ME.  she sleeps AMAZING. before she started taking this supplement she was fighting me to go to bed on most nights and waking still a couple times every other night.

occasionally she needs a second purple dinosaur (thats what we call it) around 4pm in the afternoon. I can usually tell when she’s getting stressed or anxious (she talks A LOT) and asks me repeatedly if she’s “doing a good job”. Christmas completely wigged her out and we needed two dinosaurs almost every day that week before and the week after Christmas. all the activity and stimulus surrounding that time really kept her on edge, but thankfully the purple dinosaurs helped kill that pretty quickly.

Parker’s tantrums are few and far in between. her last tantrum was a couple weeks ago- Jordan and I went on a date and left the kids with a sitter. before we even left I could tell she was ‘off’. we face-timed and talked her down and she was fine by the time we got off the phone.. where as before we would have had to just come home and relieve the sitter.  before that tantrum I can’t tell you the last time she really threw a fit..

she’s come a long way, leaps and bounds actually, from this summer.  we have learned to talk Parker through something she’s frustrated about and the l-theanine has really helped to make those frustrations manageable for her brain to process.  I cannot express enough how magical that purple dinosaur is for her.whew.  so there it is. the nitty gritty of life with these two at the moment. I always appreciate the encouragement, the love, and outpour of prayer and support we get when it comes to the tough stuff in life. thank you so much for reading and allowing me to share some vulnerable emotions I have struggled with as a mom. you guys are the best!

photography by:: b faith photography 

hat:: sweet eloise designs
hair bow:: a little lady shop
tank + tee:: lennon + wolfe
cardigans:: old navy
harems + shorts:: lennon + wolfe
shoes:: kids shoes

January 12, 2018

  1. CC says:

    Having our daughters tonsils and adenoids removed was the best decision we ever made. She was getting strep constantly, and has been so healthy since they’ve been removed. The recovery of a few days was worth it. She even agrees ;). Hoping and praying for Jolie, you and Jordan and this decision ahead of you. Your girls (and baby boy) are precious!

    • amber says:

      Thank you so much! I’m eager to get this done for her sake and for all of us, too!

    • April says:

      I completely agree. My 5 year old constantly had belly issues, high fevers, and strep. We haven’t had one sickness in our house since getting them removed. His were severely pitted and Just housed all kinds of nasty bacteria. He tells me all the time he feels so much better. Recovery was heartbreaking but so so so worth it.

    • Laura says:

      My 3.5 year old had his Tonsils and adenoids removed in August. He was constantly ill and has barely been sick since. His recovery was brutal but so worth it. The surgery was quick and easy, but he refused to drink enough liquid to release him four five days! For us, “forbidden”drinks, like ginger ale and sprite helped. He does not like ice cream or jello, which made it kind of challenging. We stuck with applesauce, yogurt drinks, freeze pops, fruit snack ropes. The nurses told me to get him to eat crunchy salty foods to make him thirsty – cheetos, pretzels, chips (again the “forbidden” ones worked best). I always recommend bringing your child’s pillowcase too. Good luck!

  2. Stacie says:

    I read your blog all the time (it’s in my favorites and I check it every morning 🙂 ) and I have never commented until today….call me shy. I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your openness and honesty in your posts. I feel like you are real and we get to see that through your post. I appreciate your willingness to share and I enjoy your blog and “watching” your kids grow! You’re a great mom and example for other’s to follow and learn from!

    • amber says:

      Hey Stacie! Thank you for the comment! You are the sweetest to offer this encouragement today. I always get a little nervous when I hit the ‘publish’ button in fear for what people will think. but, if it offers support of just one other mama it far outweighs that anxiety surrounding it.

  3. Sam says:

    First of all mama you’re doing great 🙂 kids are hard and every time you post I smile because those kids are very lucky to have you and Jordan. Physical and emotional changes are so hard, but you work through it with them and that’s awesome, keep it up. Secondly, my 12 year old had both tonsils and adenoids removed this summer and we were told the recovery would be horrid especially because he was on the older side. Happy to report it was easy and fast and he did great! I’ll say prayers you experience the same!

  4. Sara says:

    Wow. That is a lot of shoulder and you are doing a great job. When Jolie has those fever episodes, is it contagious for the other three? I was wondering about that because with a house full, it must be hard to separate/quarantine if needed. Fingers crossed that removing the tonsils will be a game changer!

  5. Laci says:

    I think the recovery would far outweigh what your sweet girl is enduring! God bless you mama! The girls are growing up to be fantastic and I love hearing updates on them! I have followed your blog since you were pregnant with the first ladies!

    • amber says:

      I agree!! AND.. you’ve followed for a heck of a long time, girlfriend! Thank you for sticking it out with us! XO!

  6. Michelle Sherrod says:

    Amber, your girls are so precious! Gosh ya’ll have walked a long road in 2017. So glad that your big girls seem to be doing so much better and thriving with you home! Hope 2018 continues this great trend! Much love and blessings!

    • amber says:

      Thank you Michelle! we have had a really great start to 2018.. I’m excited to see what this year brings for us!

  7. Janelle says:

    An extra resource that can be very beneficial for kids with anxiety and/or hyperactive tendencies is occupational therapy. Your daughter sounds a lot like my 9 year old. He was referred to OT and has been going for a year and a half. They work on self calming techniques and integrating reflexes. His therapist has taught him different things to do with his body when he’s starting to feel out of control that can naturally bring your mind and body to center.

    • amber says:

      thank you! We have looked into that but maybe I’ll check it out further. I’m open to helping her in anyway and the best way we can! You would have zero clue she struggles with this because she behaves very well in public settings and, I’d say.about 95% of the time. but that other 5% is overwhelming for everyone! So perhaps OT could offset it even more. Thank you!

      • Janelle says:

        It’s pretty typical for kids who have these symptoms to hold it together most of the time and then fall apart. The counselors we have talked to say it just takes so much for the kid to hold their emotions together. They want to do the right thing and please people, so they do their best, but inside their emotions are building until the boil over, which is usually for the parents. Plus, kids feel safest with their parents and are most likely to melt down for them. My stepson can behave perfectly at school all day, but before he got the help he needed (for him it’s a combo of OT, Meds, and counseling…but the needs vary greatly between children and not all children need meds????) evenings were so rough. He was emotional and overwhelmed. 30 minutes of homework could turn into hours of meltdown. It was so hard on the whole family. Now that he has the support he needs our time with him is so much more enjoyable. Holidays, birthdays, and traveling used to be so rough too. The change in routine was too much. But this year at Christmas for the first time we got to enjoy a holiday without increased behaviors or meltdowns. It was amazing! We only started the process of getting him all this help Around 7 1/2 years old. So you have a head start, and your daughter is blessed to have parents who recognize the unique way her brain and emotions work so that she can thrive

        • amber says:

          Thank you so much for this encouragement, Janelle! Yes, I can relate everything you’re saying! what seems like a small task can trigger her to lose her mind for hours. thankfully this is whats working for us at the moment and if we see the need for further intervention we will take it, 100%. Birthdays were the earliest moments of noticing the change in Parker. she freaked out and sobbed at her fourth birthday party over ‘nothing’ and it took a year for me to figure out that she wasn’t processing the fact that her loved ones were singing happy birthday to her in joy and love, and not because they were laughing or making fun of her. many have recommended OT and that might be where we take it next!

      • Shelby says:

        Have you ever read about Highly Sensitive Children? I can’t recommend “The Highly sensitive Child” book enough. This describes my daughter exactly… even as a tiny baby she would be a perfect outgoing angel in public but would neverrrrrr stop crying at home. After age one he finally gave us the HSP diagnosis and all the reading and research felt like such a relief!! Like I wasn’t crazy and somebody else undeestood my child. There’s a checklist quiz in the book but you can als find it online and do a quick glance over. Knowledge is power so perhaps it could help!!!

  8. such sweet pictures of them!

  9. Meredith says:

    my son is the exact age as P&J, he had his tonsils and adenoids out in august 2016. 1. i hope for you it’s easier to reason with a 5 year old, than it was the almost 4 year old!! 2. what you think they’ll like to eat or drink, they probably won’t. 3. keep pushing fluids even though it hurts them and keep up with the meds 4. don’t let her eat a chicken nugget on her first night home just because she says she’ll eat it (Reed ended up hemorrhaging…maybe from that??) 5. they say cold things help the throat, not usually the case with the little ones…it really hurt my son to have anything cold. he lived on soggy cereal. a year and a half later…he’s only gotten a few colds and no strep throat!

    • amber says:

      ha! Amen! thank you for these tips! Jolie isn’t very reasonable when she doesn’t feel well.. ugh! hoping got a smooth recovery for her.

  10. Mallory says:

    Thank you for sharing in such a vulnerable way. It’s so refreshing to hear someone be candid about the struggles, and then rejoice with her in the triumphs! That’s life and both your girls already have a better understanding of the ups and down than most of us adults.
    My little girl is almost a year and I am so grateful for you sharing your journey in case it might help me down the line!

    • amber says:

      I appreciate the encouragement. I feel like there is a fine line, but when I share about my struggles I’m so encouraged by other mothers that have dealt with the same experiences- y’all know more than I do! So I’m always grateful for other’s experiences.

  11. Mallory says:

    Also forgot to mention, my physician told me that my eating of hot foods when having my tonsils out helped me heal faster than the cold (contrary to popular belief). Good luck to Jolie and I hope the symptoms are gone!!

  12. Clarinda says:

    When our daughter was 2 she started getting fevers every month after having tubes in her ears and we went through that for 10 months with doctor visits and the only symptom was a fever no other issues we finally made our doctor allow us to get her tonsils and androids out and it all went away. The doctor said she has debris behind her tonsils that were causing all the problems. Her recovery was easy no problems with her recovering and she never complained about anything hurting like I had read. Good luck!!!

    • amber says:

      thank you so much! Basically the tonsils are disgusting balls of bacteria and Jolie’s just seems to be flaring up terribly. I hate it but I’m looking forward to her feeling better!

  13. Casey says:

    L-Theanine is THE BEST. My 16 year old son takes it daily. He’s a great kid with such a sweet and kind disposition, but he has a very busy brain that doesn’t shut off without the l-theanine. And I know about the constant talking! That’s the first sign that I know I need to increase his dose.

    • amber says:

      YAS! Your the first person that I have come across (“in real life”) that understands the product and what it is. Thank you!

  14. Stephanie says:

    Love the pics of the girls and so inspired by your openness (which is real and always comes off positive and non-judgmental). It’s just super refreshing to hear from a blogger who’s pictures and stories can bring so much to a readers day; whether it’s a new recipe, great handmade product, dietary education, marriage guidance and of course the true life ups and downs of being a mama!
    I follow a few bloggers and love that you haven’t become an #ad #sponsored for every post and when something is sponsored, it’s because you truly love the product or were part of the creative process.
    Thanks for staying true to yourself and this blog over the past 10 years- it’s truly what keeps me coming back weekly (also the cute kids don’t hurt????).
    Just wanted to say a quick thanks and you’re doing a great job Mama, those kiddos are so Lucky to have you!

  15. Ashlee says:

    Maybe its a Parker thing. My Parker was speech delayed, but when they do the test to see if she needed occupational therapy, they did confirm what I already knew which was that she has depression, anxiety, ocd, and adhd. Hearing that as a momma who personally struggles with all those things, i knew what kind of road was ahead of her. She has morning where she just wakes up mad and its SO hard. With the gummies, is it something that needs to be taken daily for it to have an effect? And are the “results” immediate? Like is this a literal chill pill?
    So glad to hear that you have conquered their needs separately so that you guys can be a cohesive family. I am a working mom and would pull my hair out if i had to stay home all day and i only have 1 child. You’re doing great things.

    • amber says:

      Hey Ashlee! Thank you so much for sharing a bit about your Parker. I have a strong family history of depression, anxiety, and bi-polar disorder. so when I started to see her tendencies (she was young.. maybe 2-3?) I knew we would eventually get to this point. She takes the vitamin every day and it is something that I think needs to be taken regularly to have the best benefit. it is legit a “chill pill”, ha! I can give it to her now and see a chilled in as little as 30 minutes. after our first month of taking them I ordered more on Amazon and we were delayed about 5 days without her taking them because they were delayed in shipping. in those five days she had 3 major meltdowns that might have been prevented if she had been on the l-theanine.

  16. Alison says:

    Amber your blog is so refreshing to read! Love your honesty and transparency. Our son had to have his adenoids out in December and I think the build up in our minds was way worse than the actual recovery! Praying you guys will find peace about whatever decision you make!

  17. Monica says:

    Hey Amber! Thanks SO much for writing this. My son is 4.5 and sounds a lot like Parker. I can relate to so much of what you wrote and we too have explored a lot of anxiety and ADHD questions. He does go to OT and a behavior therapist (more of a resource for mom and dad!)which has helped. I am going to look into that supplement. Sounds like it could be helpful for him. I am also a dietitian so I trust your opinion! <3

  18. Shelby says:

    THANK YOU for sharing. I have similar behavior struggles with my cry anxious five year old daughter… just researched and ordered relaxasaurus and can’t wait to see if it helps!!!!!!!!!

  19. Danielle Moore says:

    We are making an appointment for one of our twins Ella, who is going through what Parker is. I’m relieved to hear there’s a solution!

  20. Bethany says:

    This is fascinating! I have 2 older boys with ADHD and I have never heard of that (and I thought I knew a lot)! I am definitely going to try the L-theanine. They are on the lowest dose of meds, and we fill in the gaps with oils, sports, supplements and patience! Also pursuing neurofeedback therapy so keep that idea in your back pocket for the future! Would love to get them off meds completely so I’ll be looking into this!
    Love your blog- it’s gorgeous and so are ya’ll!

    • amber says:

      Thanks so much, Bethany! This is what is working for us right now, but definitely appreciate all the information other mamas share, including therapy as you mentioned! XX

  21. Amber Moreau says:

    I had my now 6 year old daughter’s tonsils and adenoids removed when she was almost 4. Best thing we ever did! The only advice I can give for recovery is to set your alarm for pain meds, have your dr prescribe oral pain meds. Not just Tylenol or ibuprofen. Actual prescription pain medicine. My daughter had a liquid hydrocodon and we piggybacked that with ibuprofen. I set an alarm and woke her up every 2-4 hours for one of the doses. Her recovery went smooth and she was eating regular food by day 3. Lots of popsicles the first few days but because I was so strict with her meds she had a great recovery. Hang in there mama!

    • amber says:

      Good call on setting the alarm. Ive had a couple of other mamas suggest this as well so I’ll def be following suit!

  22. Stephie Chipp says:

    I had my tonsils out when I was 5 and hardly remember a thing. Just vaugley being in the hospital bed and my mom bringing me #allthestuffedanimals and maybe some weird jar they may had told me my tonsils were in. ???? Wishing her an easy recovery.

  23. Genie says:

    Hey pretty lady! You’re an amazing mama! I feel the sooner the better for getting the tonsils/adenoids out because littles heal a lot quicker the younger they are. Plus I think it will make a world of difference! I may look into l-theanine for my newly diagnosed OCD son. Btw, I’m a twin mama too! Take care!????

  24. Jaclyn says:

    First, thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing your highs and lows as a momma with the rest of us… It’s such a hard gig and always so comforting to hear we aren’t alone in the struggles (even tho the struggles may look different).

    I always love your big girl updates, those girls, as well as the other two, are so special and I’ve enjoyed reading about them for a while now.

    I thought I would chime in on the recovery for tonsils + adenoids, while I know every case is different, I have one tip. My little guy had his out late last summer (he was 4 1/2) and it was a super tough recovery for him. I was shocked because I had heard by so many that he would “bounce right back” because he was so young… he did NOT bounce at all for about 10 days. I don’t mean that as negative because it was WELL worth it (we had strep every 6-8 weeks for a year and a half) but I was just in shock and NOT prepared. I’m a single mom of two and work as an Exec and I wasn’t ready for two weeks at home and ZERO sleep. So, my advice is definitely be prepared for the worst and I will be praying your little miss is one of the blessed ones who recovers quickly. ALSO, be sure the pain meds they give her are not alcohol based, I believe that’s what our pedi called it after.. basically though it stung SO bad and my excellent medicine taker absolutely refused to take it. That was probably what caused us the longest delay in recovery. It was rough on him. Eventually Tylenol and Advil on rotation did the trick but initially it was hard.

    Many prayers and best of luck to Miss Jolie.

    • amber says:

      Jaclyn! Thank you for this! Man, I need to take some serious notes for all these amazing mamas and their experiences:). XO!

  25. My son was diagnosed with PFAPA, I know your pain. He just had his tonsils and adenoids removed January 3rd.. and I will be honest. It’s now been 10 days and he is finally eating again. He did not “bounce back” like they said he would. It was rough but we hopefully have overcome that hump and are on the road to feeling better and hoping this surgery takes care of those every 30-31day fever outbreaks. Many prayers to you and your girls!

  26. J says:

    Omg Omg! Thank you so much for sharing this! My daughter is the same way and we all are losing it and have tried so many things to help her! I have never found anyone going through this and felt so alone until now. I ordered the relax a saurus immediately and I’ve been praying that it helps our sweet girl!

  27. Ashley says:

    Oh, thank you SO much. I ordered the relax a sauras before finishing this post. My daughter is so similar and I’ve felt alone and honestly scared for her. I am praying that this will help her as well.

  28. Grace says:

    Sometimes the Lord sends you a little boost when you didn’t realize you needed it. Thank you for your openness and honesty, your struggles with Parker are exactly what I need to read today, after struggling with my daughter this morning and not even sure how i can help her manage her stress and anxiety! I’ve been researching L theanine for a while but your post gave me the boost I may have needed! Thank you!

  29. Jenny says:

    LOVED this post! I have a daughter the twins’ age and a son around Brady’s age… so I love your blog! My nephew struggles from anxiety and my sister-in-law was just wondering about L-Theanine or some other supplement so I have sent this on to her. Sounds like the exact same symptoms. Also, my 1 year old is being referred to an ENT for his tonsils b/c he keeps getting strep, so I loved reading all the tips! Hope it goes well for both of our families!

  30. Kristi says:

    Thank you so much for your post! I’ve followed your blog since you were preg with the twins – my oldest is 5 in February, so there’s been a lot of parallels. Your Parker’s story is so similar to my Zoey, her anxiety & outbursts started when my son was born & have only gotten worse as he’s gotten older (he’s 19 months now). We’ve seen the social worker, too, who was zero help, and the pedi pretty much just left it at anxiety & sensitivity. We meet with the OT this week, actually, but I’m super interested in the L-Theanine supplement. Definitely going to ask our doctor next month at her well visit. (I probably could use some myself!) Thank you for sharing your story!