Magnolia Moms Fri, 04 Feb 2022 18:16:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Magnolia Moms 32 32 Holiday Wines: What Better Way to Celebrate Wed, 08 Dec 2021 03:35:14 +0000 Holidays are always the best time of year and what better way to celebrate than with holiday wines. Gathering with friends and family, sharing laughs, food, and of course wine. Since the pandemic, everyone is ready to move past the sadness and create happiness with a celebration of life. What better way to celebrate than with some good wine and holiday fun.

There are so many wine varietals that circulate in the stores. It is pretty hard trying to figure out the best wines to pick. Most times we have one type of wine we purchase all the time which makes it hard to try others. This year, let’s try some new wines while we expand our palate and travel through places with our selection.

Typically with holiday feasts, you will have some appetizers, a big meal, and don’t forget the delicious desserts. What wine should I drink with that? What do people like? Is this too much alcohol content? Does this taste good with this?!! Here are some good wine varietals that will go with any part of your meals.

Sparkling Holiday Wines

Sparkling! Always start with sparkling wine! It is a celebration!

We are here to eat and have fun! Let’s have a welcome drink, shall we? Now I know what you’re saying! Champagne is expensive! Expensive, but so good! Let’s explore the world of sparkling! Yes, champagne is the head hancho but let’s dig down into a Cava. Cava is an inexpensive sparkling wine that undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle, just like champagne. So why not try prosecco, Blanc de Blanc, or a sparkling Rosè! All good options for any holiday party!

Some sparkling wines to try this holiday season:

White Holiday Wines

Next up we have our appetizers, grazing boards, & pre-dinner snacks! Off-dry white wine with acidity wins every time!! Vouvray, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, or Riesling. These white wines are likely more acidic than the food and will have a light intensity. White wines are commonly looked at negatively or that it’s only supposed to be sipped during the hotter months.

Uhm no! We are all about the crisp white wines all year round! Especially during the holidays. Chenin Blanc has spicy notes but is slightly sweet with high acidity. Sauvignon Blanc Crisp and light with grassy or herbaceous flavors. Can you imagine having Turkey, ham, or roasted chicken and stuffing with these wines?!! Match made in heaven! Any wine can be had all year round don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Some white wines that will taste heavenly and not break the Christmas budget:

Red Wines & Ports

Main course with sides…. Oh, the sides! This is when it becomes a Chardy Party – goes well with creamy sides, Turkey, chicken, Mac & cheese or you can bring it all back with a little champagne. These are winners when it comes to dinners. But not everyone is into a white or pair of bubbles. That’s when the Beaujolais, the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Red Blends, or my favorite the Zinny Zin Zin aka Zinfandels come in.

Desserts! What you eat must be as sweet or sweeter as your wine! A little port, a little sherry – oh my!!! Nice little razor dazzle to end dinner. Any of these wine choices are a good idea. Pairings are fun but you can also sip these wines with life like I do! hope you find something you’ll want to try and enjoy with friends and family at your next holiday party!

Some delicious reds to finish out the night:

Cheers Moms! Happy Holiday from Meaghan Odum at the Trill Wine Wife

Now that the wine list is made, see how Ashley N. Smith of Chairty Design, sets are kitchen island for the holidays. It is so cute, you don’t want to miss this great idea to include the kiddos in setting the “table”. Click here to read: Don’t Desert Your Kitchen Island this Holiday Season.

Don’t Desert Your Kitchen Island This Holiday Season Thu, 02 Dec 2021 03:37:00 +0000 The formal dining room is not as prevalent in today’s household as it once was. The average Jane has elected to forgo the formal dining space as square footage and spare time are at a premium. Kitchen islands now serve the best of both worlds. They not only serve as the hub for cooking, but for eating as well. So why neglect this space during the holiday season?

As moms, if we’re being honest, we fancify the dining room table each holiday season to not only be pleasing to the eye but also to lay the foundation for the enjoyment of the meal and fellowship to come. However, we send the kids to eat at the kitchen island that may not possess similar aesthetics. Do they not deserve to have a space to dine with a fun-filled holiday vibe as well?

No need to go on a shopping spree. Unless you want to, of course! Simply pull together a few items that you already have in your possession, just as I have. My son and daughter tend to exchange words centered around what belongs to whom. Hence, the Mickey and Minnie plates. I simply took those to identify their specific place setting in lieu of place cards when setting up our kitchen island.

Additionally, I stuffed my Peters Pottery with extra beaded garland and supplemented it with simple, holiday accents and fresh flowers then placed on the kitchen island for that extra element of design.

During this holiday season, my kiddos have a space to eat pancakes on Sundays or celebrate the joy this season brings. The best part? It is an easy set-up to clean-up and refresh.

Check out our Holiday Edition Gift Guide for the ultimate shop-at-home experience and for more holiday articles. This magazine-style gift guide was created by moms for moms to make your shopping experience a little more enjoyable.

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Simple Steps to a Stress-Free Holiday Soiree Sat, 27 Nov 2021 03:20:04 +0000 The holidays can be a stressful time for many often due to the pressure of entertaining family and friends; we want to help with stress-free holiday planning. By following a few simple steps, you can decrease your anxiety and discover your inner host. Remember that the goal is to celebrate with family and friends and not to overwhelm yourself with unrealistic expectations. Make the holidays festive by adhering to these tips for a stress-free holiday gathering.

Make the holidays festive by adhering to these secrets to a stress-free holiday soirée.

1. Determine Date & Location

While you may save money hosting a party at home, remember that local restaurants with private dining rooms and small event venues offer the option of having fun without the setup and clean up! If you do host at home, do yourself a favor and hire someone to clean the day before the event. This is a big part of stress-free holiday planning.

2. Chose a Festive Theme

If you plan to have your party at home, let your holiday decor do the work. If you already have your tree and trimmings, that’s all you need. For a special touch, you may want to add some fresh seasonal flowers and scented holiday candles for more ambiance. Don’t forget to bring out your holiday China or favorite novelty moose mugs for the occasion.

3. Prepare Your Budget

Determine the focus of your party and be realistic with your finances. Remember that most of your budget will be used for food and beverage, so plan around that accordingly. Ask friends and family to consider co-hosting with you or contributing by bringing a favorite bottle of wine or a fun appetizer.

4. Plan Your Guestlist & Prepare Invitations

Whom would you like to invite to your party? Will this be a small, intimate dinner party or a big, casual affair? Think about your budget when deciding your guest list. As soon as you have your list, print and send invitations at least 2-3 weeks ahead. If you need to save a little money, there are many online invitation sites that allow you to email your attendees.

5. Select Your Menu

What type of party are you planning? Is it Christmas Karaoke with hot cocoa and cookies? A traditional Hannukah dinner party? A Kwanza cocktail reception? Once you know your focus, you can easily find fun-themed recipes from your cookbooks or online. You may also want to consider having a few items catered or ask friends and family to bring their favorite dish.

6. Hire entertainment or Create a Festive Playlist

If live entertainment is within budget, consider hiring local talent to liven up your party. A variety of entertainers can be found through a quick online search for “musicians/entertainers in my town.” If background music is all you require, creating a festive playlist is as easy as a quick iTunes download! Some of MGG’s favorite holiday songs are “All I Want for Christmas” by Mariah Carey, “Marshmallow World” by Darlene Love, and “Sleigh Ride” by Johnny Mathis.

Be sure to check out of Holiday Edition Gift Guide for all your shopping needs.

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Easy Family Night Burrito Bowls Thu, 12 Aug 2021 02:31:31 +0000 This quick and easy burrito bowl recipe will have the entire family asking for seconds. If you’ve had a long day or even a great one, grab the Instapot and follow along with this family-approved dinner.

Step 1 – Add ingredients

  • Add frozen or fresh chicken breast
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup of your favorite salsa (or can of rotel – drained)
  • 3 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • salt & pepper.

Step 2 – Cook

This is the easy part. Let your Instant Pot or slow cooker do all the work. Cook at the desired temp and time of your cooker. I used 5 frozen chicken breast and cooked in my Instant Pot for 30 minutes.

*Note – while the chicken is cooking, put your rice on to cook. I use a rice cooker and it’s the best thing ever! In the rice cooker it’s 2 parts liquid to 1 part rice. I like to cook my rice in chicken broth. It gives it such a rich taste.

Step 3 – Shred chicken

This is my least favorite part (and this is still pretty easy.) Take two forks and shred the chicken right in the slow cooker or Instant Pot for your burrito bowls. Let it sit while you put together the toppings. The chicken will soak up the juices that it made in the pain.

Step 4 – Toppings!

This is the fun part! Grab the cheese, sour cream, guacamole, jalapenos, and anything else you love on taco and top your burrito bowl. I just grabbed what was in the fridge and put it in my favorite ramekins. Then put it all together on a platter and voila’ – dinner is served!

Step 5 – Plate it up (or should I say bowl)

Add your rice on the bottom. Use beans or both is that’s what your family likes. Then add some shredded chicken and go to town on the toppings. My husband grows his own peppers so we always have fresh pickled peppers in our house. And we are never short of Valentina Salsa Picante.

Mexican Street Corn

This is one of my favorite side dishes when having taco night or burritos bowls. Grill your corn. I boil mine sometimes if I don’t want to turn the grill on, but grilling is much better for sure. While that is cooking, mix together 1/2 cup mayo and chili powder.

If you’re a mayo-hater, don’t worry it’s nothing like you think. Once your corn is done lather the mayo mixture on. Then roll in grated cotija cheese. Sprinkle on a little more chili powder and top with some lime juice. Amazing!!!

I promise this will be a meal your family will be asking for at least once a week! And you won’t mind saying yes because it’s so super easy and always delicious.

Be sure to check out “Five Ways to Make Mealtime Easier for the Working Mom”.

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WATER SAFETY TIPS FOR THE SUMMER Tue, 13 Jul 2021 05:08:15 +0000 July is here, and Summer is in full swing. The kids have been out of school since May, and so many of them have been taking swimming lessons. As parents, we watched our little ones swim proudly across the pool with their swim instructor nearby. We were on the side of the pool, clapping and smiling. We feel a little safer, knowing our precious babies have learned the basics. Our kids also now feel more confident in the pool. As a former lifeguard and swim instructor, I have to tell you, though….this is not the time to let your guard down. You can never be too careful when it comes to kids and water.

It seems like a lifetime ago, but throughout high school and college, I was a lifeguard; teaching swim lessons and eventually managed a pool. I loved my job. I did not know back then that those years spent focusing on swim safety would later cause me to be a total pool kill-joy for my kids and others. No, seriously, I still love the water, and I have instilled a love of water in all three of my girls. Our family has a backyard pool and we enjoy boating, but I find myself still sounding like a lifeguard, shouting commands at my kids and their friends like, “No running….no diving… horseplay!” My youngest two daughters were stumped on the horseplay comment, “Huh? We’re not playing horse. We aren’t even playing ponies.”

little girls in hot tub

Know the Facts about Childhood Drownings

It is not just poolside safety that concerns me, though. I worry, of course, about the most terrifying of all water-related scenarios –children drowning. It is an awful thing to talk or write about, but it is a truthful concern. According to the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (“NDPA”), an organization dedicated to water safety and saving lives, America has an average of 10 fatal drownings per day.

“Twenty-three percent of child drownings happen during a family gathering near a pool.” Even worse, eighty-seven percent of drowning fatalities happen in home pools or hot tubs for children younger than five, and most of those happen in pools owned by family or friends.

We also live on the reservoir, so another scary statistic is that children ages 5 to 17 are more likely to drown in natural water like ponds or lakes.

Layers of Protection in Water Safety

Statistics are one thing, but it is absolutely heartbreaking to hear of loved ones, friends, or even acquaintances who have lost a child to drowning. I have heard far too many of these stories, and they haunt me. I do not mean to write a strictly scare-tactic article to shock and sadden readers. Instead, my hope here is to spread life-saving information. As NDPA suggests, there are “layers of protection” that can prevent drowning.

There are things we, as parents, can do to make our children and others safer around water. First and foremost, learn and annually update yourself on CPR. We have all heard the phrase, “Use it or lose it,” but unless you are a paramedic or otherwise in the medical field –or perhaps a beach lifeguard– you are (thankfully) unlikely to actually use your CPR training often or ever. Therefore, it is important to regularly update your life-saving education and training.

1. Swim Lessons

I mentioned swim lessons earlier, and, yes, they can sometimes give both parents and children a false sense of security of water safety. Just because a child seems to be able to “swim” in an expected, safe environment with adults watching nearby, does NOT mean the child will actually swim when they accidentally fall into the pool, often fully dressed. The unexpected nature of it causes panic, and suddenly everything the child learned in swim lessons is simply gone. That said, swim lessons can and do help children gain life saving skills. In some instances, the skills children learn during lessons can buy you precious seconds to actually see what is happening and save a child’s life.

little girl jumping off diving board at swimming lessons

2. Barriers

Barriers are another major prevention that help save lives. Most insurance companies will insist you have a fence around any pool, but not all fencing is equal. Having four-sided isolation fences with self-closing latching gates are more secure to help keep children away from a pool. Again, though, this is only one layer of protection. The auto-latching element is important. I will never forget one of the scariest things I have ever personally witnessed. My family and I walked into our former home through the garage after being on an outing for a couple of hours, and my husband and I looked through the kitchen window and into the backyard to see a young toddler standing in our fully fenced yard walking directly toward our pool.

kids playing in a pool

Being very aware of pool safety and having young children ourselves, the door to our backyard had a complicated process to get outside in order to keep our own kids safe from getting to the pool. My husband frantically went through the multiple locks and then through the gate outside of that to try to reach the tiny child in our backyard. Thankfully, he reached the child in time, and as it turned out, the toddler and his family were visiting our neighbors and the child had gotten out of our neighbor’s yard and into ours.

We couldn’t understand it initially, as we had a tall wood fence with a lock surrounding the yard. We later learned that the crew that mowed our grass had left the gate unlocked and cracked. Our current home now has a metal fence with auto-latch around the pool. Adding additional layers of protection around a backyard pool can be helpful, too. There are locks for interior doors, pool covers, pool alarms, and other barriers that can help make a backyard pool safer.

3. Life Jackets

Life jackets are another measure parents can take to keep kids safe. Obviously, children need to wear life-jackets while boating or when near natural bodies of water. This is true even if the children are older and are excellent swimmers. Life jackets can also be used in pools where the child(ren) are not strong swimmers. Please make sure the child is wearing a coast-guard approved life-jacket. The cute little rings and arm floaties are not life-saving devices.

Little girls in life jackets

During my years as a lifeguard, the majority of times I actually had to jump in the water to save a child was when the child slipped through or off of a float of some sort. The majority of those times, the saved child’s parent was standing nearby or even in the water with the child holding onto the float while chatting with a friend. Children slip under the water quietly. It is typically nothing like you see in movies wherein the drowning victim calls for help. According to NDPA, “drowning is fast and silent. It can happen in as a little to 20-60 seconds.”

4. Vigilance

It is all too easy for even dedicated, cautious parents to miss the fact that their child is actually struggling and not swimming, which is why complete vigilance –a major drowning prevention measure– is always necessary when kids are in or near any type of water. Vigilance can mean many different things, but one important factor for staying vigilant is avoiding distractions and providing undivided attention. It is best to have at least one parent or trusted adult fully devoted to watching the child(ren) at all times, which means to avoid texting, reading, or other activities that can –even for a moment–take your focus off of the child(ren.)

Little girls eating popsicles in a hot tube.

The grim statistics above are more than numbers. Those stats represent real children, real families, and good, conscientious parents who thought they were doing everything they could to protect their child(ren.) In considering various Summer writing topics, I thought about talking about throwing Summer parties or taking fun trips, but pool and water safety education is critical. Writing this article is a reminder to myself to check our own pool and water safety layers of protection. To better educate yourself on these topics and more about kids and water safety.

For more information visit and

Looking for travel tips this summer? Check out “6 Travel Tips when Traveling with Family” and “Traveling with Totes“.

Screen Time Guidelines to Get You Through the Rest of Summer Fri, 09 Jul 2021 03:34:10 +0000 Hip Hop Hooray! School is out!

Our children endured changes, challenges and, at times, chaos this past school year. They made it, and they deserve all the pats on the back, awards, accolades, and cheers we can give them. They showed us all how to persevere through tough times.  I’m very proud of not only my children, but all students across the globe. 

girl holding awards

Summer, Summer, Summertime!

Dj Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince said, “Summer, summer, summertime, time to sit back and unwind.”  I agree.  After this past year, all I want to do is unwind, chill, and go to the beach. Honestly, I wish I could live at the beach. Realistically, I know that there will be long periods of time when we will all be at home.  Of course, the kids will want to play video games, use the iPad, and watch television. They deserve to do that, right? Remember, they just completed a tough and unique year of school filled with masks, social distancing, etc. 

As a mom, enjoying a break from refereeing siblings by letting technology occupy their time would be the easy way out.  I recently heard Pastor Charles Smith say, however, “Parenting is a 25-hour a day, 8 days a week job.” There are no days off.  While children do deserve chill and vacation time (and I allow them that) the mom in me will have to set limits when we are home. What do I mean by limits? It’s summer, and if your kids are like mine, then you know that the spirit of laziness will try to creep in and cause them to not want to do anything…but, Not today Satan.  This is why I have to set limits on screen time.

Unlimited Screen time vs Limits

Let’s talk about screen time. When my children were very young, I would allow them to watch YouTube on the iPad and my phone. It was easy. It kept them entertained, and it gave me a break. One day, my husband noticed that the kids would cry if we took the iPad or phone. We both knew then that this was turning into an addiction. We decided to remove all devices. It was tough, and the kids literally “cried it out” for about two weeks. It was like weaning them off the pacifier or bottle. It was tough, but we made it.

We learned years ago that too much screen time could actually harm a child. As parents, that’s the last thing we wanted to do. I like to believe that no parent wants to intentionally or unintentionally harm his or her own child. Too much screen time could cause poor eyesight, aid in obesity, cause sleep issues, and encourage a sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to other health issues (Ashton, J.J., & Beattie, R.M.). The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommended screen times for children based on their ages. See the chart below for examples.  Once my husband and I learned about the harmful side effects of too much screen time from various forms of technology such as video games, and television, we knew we had to get creative.

Screen time limits and Guidelines

Newborn -18 months  No screen time unless video chatting w/adult like parent
18 – 24 monthsLimited to watching educational programming with a caregiver
Ages 2-5Limit non-educational screen time to about 1 hour per weekday and 3 hours on the weekend days  
6 and olderEncourage healthy habits and limit activities that include screens  
Other Guidelines:Turn off all screens during family meals and outings. Learn about and use parental controls. Avoid using screens as pacifiers, babysitters, or to stop tantrums. Turn off screens and remove them from bedrooms 30-60 minutes before bedtime.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Before Screen Time

During the summer, my kids have to complete a certain amount of reading before watching TV or picking up a device. This summer, I included an incentive for reading to motivate them to read more than the mandatory 20 minutes per day. They also have to play outside for a certain amount of time, complete chores, clean their room, and choose an activity that’s creative. 

children playing with Legos

We also have fun together as family.  We play basketball, tic tac toe, play with Legos, go fishing, swim, ride bikes, go to the park, and take walks in our neighborhood.  Be creative, have fun, and enjoy your kids while they are young.  See the chart below for a checklist you can use as a guide for your family.  There are tons of free pintables online that you print and post on your refrigerator.

free screen time chart

Stand Your Ground

You know your children and what work best for them. Make adjustments according to their personalities and your lifestyle. Get them motivated and excited to try new things, explore nature by getting outside, visit the library, go on nature walks, go to the park, enroll them in camps, and/or have them help you clean around the house. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to set limits.  Children need discipline, boundaries, and limits. Parents, be prepared for them to test those limits. Lastly, whenever you do allow screen time, make sure to monitor what your kids are watching and make sure the content is age appropriate and meaningful.  Parents, stand your ground and enforce your screen time limits.  Don’t let the world (through technology) have more influence on them than you. 

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

P.S. Someone take me back to the BEACH…PLEASE!

Screen Time in Children and Adolescents: Is There Evidence to Guide Parents and Policy? 
Ashton, J.J., & Beattie, R.M., The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, 2019

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Charles Smith, Author, 7-Steps to Raising Amazing Children. 2020

A Gray May Wed, 05 May 2021 02:59:29 +0000 A Mother Lost to a Brain Tumor

May has always been my favorite month. Since childhood, I have waited through April showers in anticipation of May flowers. The month of May presents both the end of Spring and the beginning of Summer break, giving Mississippians a special season all our own wherein the temperature is blissfully warm enough for Summer activities without being too hot. The grass is green and the flowers are blooming, yet the oppressive heat and humidity are mostly held at bay. You can actually lay out by the pool or go out on the Reservoir without feeling like you are melting. May is a beautiful month for hiking and picnicking by day, listening to the frogs and crickets in the evening, and star-watching at night. May is the month of our family’s annual beach trip and, of course, the month we celebrate mothers. This May will still be all of those lovely, sunny things, but, as I face my first Mother’s Day without my mother, this will also be a gray May.

As May approaches, a thousand emotions keep entering my heart, but a single word keeps
coming to mind –mama. The word “mama” is the same or similar across the world and in most languages. While its origins may stem from baby babble, the word “mama” (for those of us lucky enough) conjures up words like warmth, safety, and unconditional love.

Mama had a way with words.

Speaking of words, my Mama sure loved to use them. As a child, I saw her as a beautiful social butterfly. She would flitter around the room at a party or outside the church sanctuary, stopping to talk to each person. I would hide behind the skirt of her dress, shy and quiet, but watching in awe as she laughed and spoke to everyone with ease. When I was a teenager, sometimes all of Mama’s talking would embarrass me. She never met a stranger. On a shopping trip, my cheeks would grow red as Mom chatted up any and every cashier as if they had known each other forever.

I also watched Mama use her words for good during those years. She talked my siblings and me through many hard times, always knowing just what to say, and she did the same for many of our friends. As much as Mom loved talking, she knew how to keep a secret. I have friends who only confided in me now as adults how much my mom’s words helped them when we were younger.

Mom also used her words to go to bat for her kids or anyone she saw in need of help. Whether as PTA president or giving someone an earful if they crossed a line, her mama bear side would kick in when needed. Mom was always good at words of reassurance, too. Good heavens, she could build you up with her words! I could look my absolute worst and she’d swear I looked amazing, genuinely pointing out the beauty she saw. While she was good with words, she often didn’t even need them. It was her presence, her hug, her back tickles, or her reassuring smile that said more than words ever could.

A mother always giving to others.

As the years passed, Mom wasn’t as social as she used to be. Our family devoured all her time and energy…be it planning for, cooking at, and cleaning after family get-togethers or keeping her grandkids. She continued to use her voice, though –for singing to her grandchildren or reading them stories. She also used written words for things she was passionate about, especially God and His word. For years, she would send out daily devotions to extended family and friends.

She was our favorite weather woman, sending us emails and texts to start each day with a forecast update, including her cautious phrases like “wear layers” or “be careful”. As good as Mom was with words, she was also a great listener. For nearly my entire adult life, I called and talked to her every day.

As so often is the case with mothers, my mom was my best friend –even if I was not always hers. Mom gave, created, and cultivated an incredible one-sided friendship.

I would call her to vent, cry, or just blab about my day, my work, my problems, my kids, my life, but Mom rarely did the same. She listened and she advised. She was my biggest cheerleader, a true best friend, with no requirement or expectation of reciprocation. She was that for each of her three kids every single time we called her, and we called her often. And even though Mom surely grew weary of the calls from time to time, she always made time to talk.

In April 2020, when Mom started getting off the phone with us faster, we knew it wasn’t like her. She had missed her family so much since the Covid quarantine began just the month before. We were social distancing in an effort to keep Mom and Dad safe. We saw signs Mom was acting differently, but we assumed the change in her personality and decrease in chattiness was due to missing her grandbabies and feeling depressed. Then, my dad said, “Your mom isn’t talking much, and YOU KNOW that isn’t like her.”

One gray day in May

On a beautiful day during the first week of May 2020, Dad walked into the kitchen to find Mom, seemingly dazed and holding a knife in one hand and a lemon in the other. Mom couldn’t remember why she was standing there or what she had planned to do with that lemon. She was having trouble even speaking. Dad was alarmed. Had Mom had a series of strokes? Was this early Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia? Dad guided Mom to the car and they headed to St. Dominic’s emergency room wherein Mom was ultimately diagnosed with a glioblastoma (“GBM”), the most common but most complex, treatment-resistant, and deadliest type of brain tumor.

Things progressed quickly from there and we learned a lot over the next few days and weeks. Mom no longer acted like herself. Her tone was different. Her affect was flat. We no longer heard her normal cheery voice, and she no longer sang or read to the grandkids. Mom did not express much emotion, and she frequently had trouble finding the right words. Yet, in true Mom fashion, she still found a way to say a lot. You see, my Mama did not get diagnosed with brain cancer any ole time but did so during the month of May, which is brain tumor awareness month.

A philanthropist’s mission

Raising awareness about brain cancer was something near and dear to Mom’s heart as our
family lost our precious Natalie –Mom’s great niece– to Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (“DIPG”), the deadliest childhood brain cancer, on October 11, 2019. Natalie was only 15 years old, and as the Lord would have it, my mom was there in the room as Natalie took her last breath. When Natalie died, Mom’s heart was broken. Mom hurt for her sister, Natalie’s grandmother. Mom cried for her niece, Natalie’s mother. We all ached for their entire family, but Mom’s health seemed to be fine at that time. None of us could have ever imagined it possible, but seven months after Natalie died due to a brain tumor, my sweet Mama, on the beautiful and sunny first week of May 2020, was also diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Five months, countless doctors, several treatments, two surgeries, and one long hospital stay later, Mom, like Natalie, passed away due to her brain tumor. I believe that Natalie was there to greet Mom as she stepped into Heaven just as Mom had been there when Natalie left this world to enter those gates.

Carrying on the mission – A Gray May.

May is still the warm and beautiful month I have always loved so dearly. It is also brain cancer awareness month, and that is another reason that, for me and my family, the month of May will be gray. I will “Go Gray In May” to raise awareness, increase funding, and support families like mine impacted by brain tumors. Named for “gray matter,” gray is the color to represent brain tumor awareness. According to the National Brain Tumor Society, “nearly 700,000 Americans are living with a brain tumor. And, many more will be diagnosed each year.

Brain tumors are deadly, and can strike men, women, and children at any time.” According to the American Brain Tumor Association, in the year 2021, “[m]ore than 84,000 people will be diagnosed with a primary brain tumor,” and “approximately 18,000 will die as a result of a primary malignant brain tumor.” The types of brain tumors that took Mom and Natalie, GBM and DIPG, are just two of the 120 different types of primary brain tumors.

This May, I will remember my Mom and honor the incredible mother she was. I urge you to hug your own mother extra tight this May and soak in every word she says. I will also remember beautiful Natalie, this May, as well as her Mama, my cousin Amanda, a mother who lost her baby girl to brain cancer and misses her every day.

The month of May is still beautiful, but brain cancer is ugly and awful and we are working to increase brain tumor awareness. So, this May, please support “Go Gray in May” to raise awareness about brain cancer and brain tumors. This movement and the hashtag #gograyinmay help individuals and families impacted by brain tumors to find resources, receive acknowledgement, feel supported, and retain hope. You can show your support by wearing gray throughout the month of May and by donating to brain tumor research. To learn more, to donate, or to help raise awareness, visit the National Brain Tumor Society, the American Brain Tumor Association, and/or The Gray Matters Foundation.

Blooming at His Own Pace: Understanding Children with Autism Tue, 20 Apr 2021 03:00:58 +0000 As we approach Springtime and the different trees blossom, I am reminded of all the differences that fill this world. We humans are very much like trees. We all have different roots, branches, and leaves. It is our responsibility to share and grow, as we encounter all the different varieties of trees in this world. Not one child will be the same, but we all need the same essential ingredient in order to survive.

My child has Autism. I want to share what it’s like understanding children with autism.

The roots are visible.

He reminds me of a Cypress Tree, because I get to see his roots most of the time. He is very strong like a Cypress. Sometimes he will have so much joy that it will flow upwards like the roots of a Cypress. He will feel the need to jump. He can jump so high. We get to see that emotion and experience it with him. Others who are not comfortable with this type of growth might stare. That’s okay, it’s truly no big deal. Don’t hold back, and please ask questions.

However, when you stare at my child’s roots, remember to smile. Please celebrate life with him.

mom and autistic son on stairs laughing

Some branches grow toward the sun.

Understand that many branches will grow up toward the sunlight. However, some may grow sideways in search of sunlight. We all grow and learn differently in this world. If you see my child trying to get out of sunlight, then maybe the sun is too bright. Your branches might provide shade until he is ready for the sun. He just needs time to flourish. When he is ready, please be gentle with him, and share what you have found. They have roots that are growing at the same pace as those branches. So be patient; and let the roots get strong, as the branches search for the sun.

Leaves need shade please.

Our trees need strong roots and branches to produce beautiful leaves. My child’s leaves are sometimes slow to bloom; because he prefers the shade to the sunlight. I am okay with this growth. My child will be very strong because we are allowing his roots to grow at his own pace. I do not want to overwater his roots, or move him into the sunlight before he is ready. I am afraid if I did this, he would not have any leaves for the year. He might even stop growing and require more help. So growing slow is a good thing. He will produce beautiful leaves when he is ready.

Spring brings new growth.

Spring time is always a great time of year. The weather is beautiful and people seem to be more joyous and kind this time of year. My desire is for people to be kind and gentle all year long. Especially to the children with autism that are moving at their own pace. We do not want to rush these children or make them conform.

child with autism on police barrier waiting on parade

We should embrace their roots and celebrate life with them as they too grow beautiful leaves.

This perspective has helped me gain a wonderful insight into the mind of my child with high functioning autism. I pray it helps others understand why he might experience life the way he does. We can learn how to approach life just by observing nature. It creates a better understanding on how we can all grow together in an environment where everyone is unique. Let’s be kind all year long!

To learn more about understanding children with autism please visit To read more about motherhood, be sure to see the other articles on our site that may interest you.

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Here’s to our Sons and the Women that Raise Them Thu, 04 Mar 2021 05:36:03 +0000 It’s March 4th Sons Day. The Day that recognizes sons and the people that raise them. These little Internet holidays used to make me roll my eyes so hard. But when “Sons Day” became a thing, I started to celebrate it.

Our Boys Deserve to be Celebrated

I have two boys. And they deserve to be celebrated on Sons Day. Not just today, but every day. My boys are still young. They’re 5 and 2. It’s still kind of weird to me that I’m a “boy mama”. I literally have more than a dozen different pieces of clothing that say that phrase on them. I wear them proudly every chance I get. I am so proud of my boys.

Growing up, as “prissy” and “girly” as I was, I always just assumed I would only have girls. I just knew I would kick so much butt at being a girl mom. But then I got pregnant with Sam, and I was scared to death.

How Will I Ever Parent Boys?

Not only did I not know how to parent, but I didn’t know how to parent a little boy. What was I going to do when it came time for potty training? What do we do about circumcision? I don’t know how to have conversations with little boys, so how am I supposed to have the “birds and the bees” talk with him when he’s older? Do I leave it all up to my husband? What if he grows up and hates me? But when he came along, I put all of that behind me. I was instantly in love. He stole my heart. I knew I was put on this earth to devote my entire being to him. And I have.

Baby #2 – It’s A Boy

Two and a half years later, I found myself pregnant again, and I just knew it was a girl. My hopes were so high that I would have two perfect children, a boy and a girl. But, since my husband is a physician and he’s been trained to read ultrasounds, when he went with me to the anatomy scan and saw the sex, he said “It’s going to be fine.” The tech said “It’s a boy!!”, and I said “Oh, yay.” I was a little disappointed, I will not even lie about that. My hopes were just kind of dashed. Plus, I didn’t have another boy’s name picked out, and I worried my child would be nameless up until birth.

I’m a planner, and these situations stress me out. But when Lincoln finally came along, early I might add, I realized those thoughts were so silly. Here I had this teeny tiny, barely 4 pounds, 6 weeks early, little miracle. I couldn’t look at him for almost a month without breaking down and sobbing over how in awe I was of him. He was so resilient. And now that he’s 2, he proves that every time he tries to climb our bookshelves or practices “flying” on his mini trampoline. He’s fearless, and I like to think he gets that from me.

Any time I happen to see my boys sitting together in my recliner, Sam reading a book to Link, or the way that Link always makes sure to give Sam a big hug before I put him to bed every night, I am reminded that I was made for this. I am raising them to always love each other, no matter what.

It took Sam almost a month to warm up to his little brother, or even the fact that he was now the “Big Brother”. And now, they’re inseparable. Lincoln always expresses sadness when I drop Sam off at school in the mornings, and then he’s so excited when we pick him back up a few hours later. I feel the need to brag that I’ve raised brothers who consider each other best friends.


Of course, my days are completely chaotic, too. They’re filled with breaking up fights over the iPad, or the occasional food fight at dinnertime. They even sometimes steal each other’s snacks. Sometimes, Sam will refuse to let Link in his room, and Link will throw a fit because his brother won’t play with him. I don’t like to force them together, but let’s be honest, I’m a big sister too. Sometimes it’s just nice to have a break from your little brother. Most days, I’m putting Band-aids on skinned-up knees and elbows, kissing boo-boos, and washing slime and Play-doh out of clothes and my carpet.

Every other week, I spend almost $300 at Costco because all they do is eat. Seriously, they’re bottomless pits. Sometimes, our whole dinnertime conversation is the list of levels in SuperMario that Sam beat, and the strategies he used to beat them. But honestly, my husband loves to talk about that. I listen to “Baby Shark” on repeat at least 100 times a day, and I hear it playing in my sleep.

But it’s all worth it when I put them down at the end of the day. The big, warm hugs they both give me right before I kiss their perfectly-round heads before bed, and the sweet, sleepy “Night-night Mama, I love you” they say to me before I turn out the light. I can’t believe I get to hear those words sometimes. I’m just awe-struck by how perfect they are. They are my boys, and they always will be. They’ll be raised to be kind, respectful, caring, and a friend to everyone. That’s the best that I can hope for them. Happy Sons Day to my boys, forever my babies.

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DASH Diet – Learning to Eat Heart Healthy Thu, 25 Feb 2021 07:16:36 +0000 “If you love your children, one of the best things you can do for them is to take care of their mother.” ~ Unknown

Approximately every minute in the United States, a woman dies from cardiovascular disease. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that having cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), might increase your risk of severe illness from Covid-19. Those statistics alone should be a powerful motivator to put your health on your priority list, Mama!

Moms Wear Many Hats

As a working woman and a mom, I understand that multiple hats women wear daily to keep the family circus in line. It’s easier for moms to find a needle in a haystack than find time that doesn’t involve carpool, family meals, or domestic duties. But, as your dietitian, I want you to know that you don’t need more time to get in better health. Focus on making decisions that support good health most of the time.

American Heart Month

Since 1964 February has been declared as American Heart Month as a reminder to get families, friends, and communities involved in reinforcing the importance of heart health. Don’t let any more time go by without knowing a number that could save your life: Your blood pressure! Who cares what you weigh, as long as your heart is healthy on the inside. Stop worrying about a number that doesn’t define your actual health, and start better understanding the numbers linked to your overall well being. When moms focus on keeping their blood pressure in check they reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Controlling Your Blood Pressure

How do you control your blood pressure? I’m glad you asked. Getting rid of your husband and kids may reduce your risk of hypertension, but there are less dramatic ways to approach managing your heart’s stress. There are lifestyle factors that are the foundation for good heart health like exercise, and a nutritious diet, such as a DASH diet. DASH – which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension – emphasizes eating ample fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and dairy foods while also lowering salt intake. The US News & World Report ranked the DASH Diet as one of the best overall eating plans for good healthy for the 11th year in a row. Research confirms that DASH diet, which includes three servings of low-fat dairy and eight to 10 servings or fruit and vegetables each day, can lower blood pressure as much as some medications.

But please know that regardless of your effort to like kale and exercise, you may still need to be on medication to help treat heart disease, and that’s okay. Two cheers for modern medicine!

The Dash Diet

There is nothing hard about the DASH eating plan except that most of the blood pressure improvements and heart healthy benefits are seen with the increase in fruits and vegetables. Eating more plants may be challenging to many since only about 5 percent of Mississippians meet their recommended intake of fruits and vegetables daily. If you’re not in the habit of eating fruits and vegetables don’t get discouraged. Make small shifts in your food choices, starting with one vegetable serving a day and working your way up to what you’re comfortable with adding.

Getting in enough portions of fruit or vegetables isn’t nearly as daunting as on might imagine. A serving of raw fruit and vegetables equals 1 cup and a 1/2 cup for cooked varieties. If you follow these guidelines and include produce at every meal and snack, it’s easy to hit the heart-protective mark.

Here are a few tips to increase fruits and vegetables throughout the day:

  • Add fresh or frozen berries to oatmeal, yogurt, or whole-grain cereal
  • Add a cup of fresh spinach to eggs or smoothies
  • Use ripened bananas or zucchini to make whole-grain pancakes or muffins
  • Keep whole fruits out on your counter of desk for a quick snack
  • Replace desserts with fruit and yogurt popsicle or parfait
  • Opt for vegetarian style pizzas or fajitas
  • Order sandwiches as open-faced salads instead.
  • Replace a side of French fries with apple slices or side salad.

Mason Jar Salad

One way to knock out several vegetable servings at once is to fill up on a large Mason jar salad for lunch or dinner. The best part is you can make several at a time and store them in your refrigerator for easy access all week long. Use it as a side dish or as your main meal. First get creative with the ingredients. Start with a wide-mouthed jar, add a heart-healthy olive oil based dressing to the bottom, and then pack in the veggies such as broccoli, carrots, and tomatoes. Layer in a serving of protein-rich cheese or chickpeas; top it off with green leafy lettuce. When you are ready to eat, turn it over and give it a shake. Shake, shake, and partake.

If you haven’t already, make time to get your blood pressure checked. And start eating for a healthy heart today. Your family needs you!

Pear and Spinach Salad

  • 1 pear, cored and thickly sliced
  • 3 cups spinach leaves, divided
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds or dread cranberries
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped pecans
  • 2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinaigrette
  • 1 quart-size large-mouth Mason jar

Pour a small amount of dressing on the bottom. Place the pear slices on top of the dressing. Layer 1 cup of the spinach on top of the pear, and then add the pomegranate seeds and the chopped pecans. Finish with the remaining spinach and the blue cheese. Seal the jar and refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 1 serving.


To read more about how you can get involved with AHA, please visit American Heart Association – Mississippi.

Magnolia Moms is dedicated to working to bring awareness to the importance of heart health. We are able to do so by support from companies like The Winning Smile. Be sure to check out more of our personal stories about cardiovascular disease in our wellness section.

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