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How a Mother Saves a Heart: National Heart Month

My Mother saved my heart. February is National Heart Month, and I’ve shared my story in honor of this national educational initiative, dedicated to cardiovascular health awareness. 

Every evening for over two months, my frail six-year-old body would sit in that white hospital bed waiting to hear those magical “click-clack, click-clacks” coming down the hallway. That beautiful sound belonged to my mother and her high-heeled shoes. While I was hospitalized for my congenital heart defect, she had to go home in the evenings to help my three brothers with homework, dinner, and simply love them. So, in those hours that she was gone, I waited patiently to hear those “click-clacks” because it meant my mom had returned to help heal me.

National heart month

National Heart Month: Twins Born with a Heart Defect
You see, I was born with a congenital heart defect called a VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect). Essentially, my twin brother and I were born with a couple of holes in our hearts, mine much larger. His closed up and was quite healthy as a newborn and child.

My mom, however, knew immediately upon holding me for the first time that something was desperately wrong. A mother’s intuition, I guess.

I was force-fed for the first year of my life, but with the love of my three brothers and parents, I flourished. By the time I was one, I had caught up in my milestones, but the hole in my heart still lingered. My early childhood years were filled with good health until I turned six. I had acquired Bacterial Endocarditis – an infection of the heart that can be fatal. This is when I spent months in that white hospital bed, my parents praying for my very survival.

National Heart Month: The Magic of Mom
Those magic heels of my mom and God himself saved my life. My mom slept in a chair every single night refusing to leave me. One dreadful night in the ICU, I vividly remember staring at the window into the nurses’ station, the bright fluorescent lights, and my mother frantically throwing both blankets and herself on top of me. This is the moment, my parents almost lost me.

Now that I am a mother, I simply cannot imagine going through this experience with one of my own children. Being in the hospital over Christmas, visitors, and pain from IVs are some of my only memories, but my mother’s love and devotion will forever be remembered.

Months and years later, she never treated me differently. My mom didn’t keep me in a bubble trying to protect my every move. She urged me to play sports. In high school, she nagged me to death about not partaking in typical reckless teenage behavior.  Those nights in the hospital were incredibly difficult and agonizing for her, and she was not shy to remind me of that when I got caught smoking cigarettes on spring break. Sorry, mom. In all seriousness, though, I am glad my parents didn’t shy me away from living an active lifestyle.

National Heart Month: Strengthening your Heart through an Active Lifestyle
Like my brothers, my parents encouraged me to be a tough, scrappy little athlete instead of shielding me from everything. They also knew that an energetic lifestyle is good work for the heart. The heart is the most important muscle that needs working out, ladies. This is why I do my best to exercise it today.

I know that heart health is imperative because I am aware of my defect, but unfortunately, heart disease can affect anyone at any time. So, when it comes to exercise ladies, your heart needs it just as much as your waistline. I need to work that heart of mine so that I can be around to raise my own children. 

You Don’t Need Permission to Express Your True Feelings: “Fine” Isn’t Always Fine


I am fine. It will be fine. 

Today I was sitting with someone whom I consider a friend. Someone who, when they say things, I tend to listen.

He said to me, “fine, isn’t fine.

Holy crap. I let that sink in. He was right.

How many times do you get asked a question and you respond with “it’s fine.”, “I am fine,” or even “It’ll be fine.” For me, the answer is all the time. All of the time. The sad thing is, I didn’t even know I was doing it.

I'm FineThere are so many other things I could have said at that moment. It was a long day; I was tired. I could have been honest and said I just really needed a cup of coffee. I could have said I was glad to be at the meeting because I was. I could have responded with literally anything else. But I didn’t. I said, “Oh, I am fine.” 

Is “fine”, really fine? I have been dwelling on this question. It’s a yes and no type of thing, right? You’re allowed to be fine. But you’re allowed to be more than fine or less than fine. You’re allowed to feel what you feel.

You’re allowed to talk about how you feel too. *Gasp* We aren’t robots. 

It’s funny. I talk about emotions all the time with my kids. Little boys are allowed to be sad and show they are hurt. I teach them that they don’t have to be strong all the time, or they can be. I teach them to be happy, excited, mad, sad, and worried. We try to name each emotion, and they learn and express what works for them. They are openly allowed to express every feeling that is in their little body without judgment. But we don’t give ourselves the same grace. Why is that? I have no idea. But it’s frustrating.

I got home and looked at myself in the mirror, which I often do. Every day, multiple times a day. But this time, I really looked. I did a check-in. How was I feeling? The answer is confused, overwhelmed, happy, and exhausted. The list can go on and on. But none of the words that came to my mind in the mirror was “fine.” So, why is that my response when I am asked during the day? Do most of us do that? 

At this point, “fine” had taken on a negative connotation. What if I was recommending a restaurant and gave a raving review of “Oh, it’s fine!” I doubt anyone would actually go there. Right? You’re literally saying that the restaurant is acceptable, satisfactory even. Does that sound good to you? Not really? Me either.

Change is hard for me. Changing something I didn’t even realize I was doing will take some time. I take pride in my openness with people, with my ability to relate and form relationships. I don’t want to come across as dishonest or nonchalant. But, unintentionally, that’s what I was doing.

Life is stressful, busy, and chaotic. But life is fun, spontaneous, and full of love and laughter. So you owe the person asking about you an honest answer. It can be in-depth or not. It can be as simple as an “I am good, thanks.” Or as deep as “Honestly, I am going through some things, but I hope it’ll work out in the end.”

There is a high chance that the person on the other end of the question genuinely cares. You should too.

My days of overtly responding with “it’s fine” are in my past, and they should be in yours too.

5 Budget-Friendly Winter Date Night Ideas


Cabin fever setting in? Haven’t gotten out of the house in a while? Sticking to a budget with this crazy inflation? With winter here, it can be a challenge to keep the “fire” alive with the craziness of life. Sprinkle on cold weather and kids driving you up a wall, it can be a recipe for some hot tempers dousing the flame of love between you and your significant other.

budget friendly date nightMy husband and I have an odd love for winter so, for date nights, you can catch us outside roaming around on trails or going on a walk. We’re generally not big spenders either so, we’ve had to get creative with what we do. Here are my favorite cheap, fun, and worthwhile activities you can do that will get you reconnected during the coldest months of the year.

Budget Friendly Date #1. Go for a winter hike/walk.

Since my husband and I live in Michigan, there are plenty of trails to hit up that are beautiful, and quiet, this time of year. But, If you don’t have access to trails, bundle up and head for a walk around your city. The fresh air is always a good idea and hitting up your local coffee shop is a great way to shop local.

Budget Friendly Date #2. Head to the ice rink.

Classic date night! No matter how good, or bad, you might be at this one, it’s always fun to laugh together; especially when you fall over. Be sure to grab a cup of hot cocoa or a snack from the concessions while you’re there!

Budget Friendly Date #3. Catch a movie during the day.

Y’all, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate matinee prices at movie theaters! The cheaper, the better for this frugal mom. Check out your local movie theater for times and prices. Some theaters even do special deals on certain days.

Budget Friendly Date #4. Go on a winter scavenger hunt.

This is a fun one to do with just your significant other or a couple of friends on a double date. All you need is a list and a camera! Take photos of each thing on the list as you go along and have your last clue be your final stop. It could be dinner, coffee, or just a place to hang out and relax; whatever suits you! You’ll be making memories, saving money, and having a great time.

Budget Friendly Date #5. Date night at home.

No time to schedule a date night? Finances not allowing time for a sitter? Pick up some of your favorite snacks/drinks, blow the dust off of your favorite games, and have a simple date night at home. Sure, you won’t be going anywhere, but for those who don’t like the cold and snow, this is perfect and budget-friendly.

Dates don’t need to be stressful; especially during the winter. Get creative and keep the flame alive. Remember, dates are meant to focus on reconnecting – NOT the budget or today’s problems. Be intentional.

What budget-friendly ideas would you add to this list?

Diastasis Recti: My Fight With “Mummy Tummy”

Thanks to Shanise L. Ollie for sharing her personal account of Diastasis Recti, below. Have a story to share? Guest posts are always welcome! Contact us at

You may look at this title and wonder what on earth is Diastasis Recti?! After having my third C-section I, too, had no idea what it was either. But there was one thing that was for sure: I felt that my mid-section had become physically weaker. One day, in the midst of playing, one of my boys proceeded to put their weight on my belly and it felt very weak. My stomach muscles weren’t activating at all.  

I also began to notice a pouch forming in my mid-section, which is famously known as the “Mummy Tummy.” I also had unexplained back pain, the source of which I could not pinpoint. I know most do not even think twice about it, but with this being my third C-section, my mid-section seemed increasingly larger. So I began to do my research about my “Mummy Tummy”. 

diastasis recti

Everything that I read pointed to a medical condition called, “Diastasis Recti.”  

According to the MayoClinic:
During pregnancy, the growing uterus stretches the muscles in the abdomen. This can cause the two large parallel bands of muscles that meet in the middle of the abdomen to separate — a condition called diastasis recti or diastasis recti abdominis. Diastasis recti might cause a bulge in the middle of the abdomen where the two muscles separate. Treatment includes physical therapy. In rare cases, cosmetic surgery may be done to reduce the bulge.

My first notion was to call my primary care physician to see if I could be a candidate for physical therapy. After my consult with my doctor, she thought I should talk with a physical therapist about my symptoms.  During my initial consult, we discussed the pain in my lower back and weakness in my midsection. My Physical Therapist was able to show me where the separation of my abdomen was actually taking place. My separation was pretty large, but with therapy exercises put in place, we could begin activating my muscles to remember to come back together. It took six weeks of repetitive exercises to finally see the strength back in my stomach muscles. Every day throughout my day I would remind myself to activate my core!

I’m so glad I decided to research this topic because by going to physical therapy, I was educated about the proper exercises for Diastasis Recti. In fact, there are core exercises that can be even more damaging to your recovery process. So, it is important to research and get proper information.  

My Physical Therapy was successful in introducing me to continuing my healing with the proper exercises.  Begin your journey of healing!

Talk to me in the comments about your dealings with Diastasis Recti.

RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles!

RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles will be at the Fox Theatre for a performance on April 15 at 8 PM.
RAIN – A Tribute to the Beatles is excited to announce that in addition to paying tribute to Abbey Road they will be performing your favorites from the “Rooftop Concert” as well as all of your other Beatle’s favorites!
RAIN – A Tribute to the Beatles will perform at the Fox Theatre on Saturday, April 15, 2023 at 8 p.m. as part of the 2022-23 Fox Theatre Series presented by Comerica Bank.


This mind-blowing performance takes you back in time with the legendary foursome delivering a note-for-note theatrical event that is “the next best thing to seeing The Beatles!” {Associated Press}.

Experience the world’s most iconic band and come celebrate The Best of Abbey Road Live with RAIN – A Tribute to the Beatles. In addition to the updated sets that include state-of-the-art LED, high-definition screens, and multimedia content, RAIN will bring the Abbey Road album and the “Rooftop Concert” to life with the launch of the 2022 Tour.

Tickets are available HERE!

Legally Blonde The Musical – April 2nd, 2023

Legally Blonde is coming to the Fox Theatre for two performances!

“OMG you guys!!! Legally Blonde – The Musical is coming to Detroit at the Fox Theatre!  

Fabulously fun and international award-winning Legally Blonde – The Musical is the ultimate Broadway tribute to Girl Power! The story follows the transformation of Elle Woods as she tackles stereotypes, sexism, snobbery and scandal in pursuit of her dreams, and proves that you can be both legally blonde AND the smartest person in the room. This contemporary, topical story touches on many current hot button issues while delighting audiences with memorable songs and explosive dances. Legally Blonde warms the heart by proving that self-discovery never goes out of style! 

Elle Woods appears to have it all. Her life is turned upside down, however, when her boyfriend dumps her so he can start getting more serious about his life and attend Harvard Law. Determined to get him back, Elle uses her brain and ingenuity to get into Harvard too. School begins with endless struggles, but with the help of her new friends, Elle quickly realizes her potential, and her true assets, as she sets out to prove herself to the world and make everyone a believer. 

Based on the iconic movie, Legally Blonde will take you from the sorority house to the halls of justice with Broadways brightest heroine and, of course, her Chihuahua, Bruiser. 

A high-energy… hymn to the glories of girlishness.” – The New York Times”

The show will take place on April 2 at 3 PM and 7:30 PM.
Tickets are on sale now HERE!

In Case of Emergency: Does Your Child Know What To Do?

Tragedy Strikes. Does your child know what to do? I imagine the answer is probably “it depends” – on the emergency, on your location, on your child’s age.

A month ago, my answer would have probably been “maybe” but now I know the answer is “yes” – because we practiced what to do in case of an emergency. In the past we talked about different scenarios – getting out of the house in a fire, going to a neighbor’s house if something was wrong with mom or dad, but that was about it.

And then I had an “episode” a few months ago – I got very confused and had some memory loss. Thankfully my husband was home. And thankfully I came out of it and was fine within in an hour.

But my husband travels a lot for work. And after having three more of these “episodes” that currently don’t have a diagnosis or a cause {we’re working on that} – I realized there is a real possibility my kids might need to call for help.

So, I practiced with my 8-year-old. We went over a few different scenarios. She has an iPad with Messenger Kids so we talked about how she could use that to tell her friend {our neighbor} to tell her parents if an emergency arose. But we needed a better plan than that. So, she practiced opening my phone {sliding up to get to the code screen was harder for her than I expected} with my code, getting to the contacts, and finding my sister’s number. We went over who else she could call from my contacts list. And most importantly, we talked about how to call 9-1-1. I also put our address on the refrigerator.

It might seem like overkill, and I hope it is. But I also want her to be prepared if I don’t come out of one of these episodes, or if some other kind of emergency happens. As we were practicing, I couldn’t help but think things were easier when I was growing up – I had a giant brown phone with a long spiral cord on the wall that I could pick up and simply dial 9-1-1. I know you big hair, NKOTB loving mamas know what I’m talking about!

But times aren’t so simple. People don’t have landlines anymore. And there are security measures to keep kids out of your phone.

Do your kids know what to do if they need to use your phone or another device in an emergency? One month ago, I could tell you we had talked about what to do in an emergency, we were working on memorizing our address, but we weren’t ready for an emergency. Maybe I’m in the minority and most people do practice these types of things with their kids. Or maybe you’re young and healthy so it doesn’t feel necessary. Well, it didn’t seem necessary to us either, until it was. We can’t plan for when emergencies happen, but we can prepare for what to do if they happen. Don’t be like me and wait until something bad happens to realize you need to talk to your kids. You don’t need to scare your kids, but you can prepare them.

Here are the steps we took to prepare our kids in case of an at-home emergency:

  • Put your address on the refrigerator {or somewhere easily seen} – Even if they have it memorized, if there is an emergency, they might get scared and forget. This will ensure they have the information when they need it.
  • Practice opening and unlocking your phone – Every device is a little different and it took my daughter several attempts to get to the lock screen.
  • Navigating to the dial screen – Practice getting to the screen where they would need to call 9-1-1 from.
  • Navigating to the contacts – I have a list of Favorites that has my sister and other local people my kids can call, so I had my daughter locate the names of people she could call.
  • Other Devices? Does your child have Messenger Kids or another app/game they use to talk to people? Discuss what other apps and who your child could contact on the app for help
  • Neighbors – Do you have neighbors who you talk to often and trust? Let your kids know whose house they could go to for help. I think it is especially important for little ones who can’t quite figure out how to use the phone yet.

My hope is that my children never have to actually use what we practiced. But I feel better preparing them and hoping for that than hoping they know what to do in an emergency without any practice. 

Refocusing As The New Year Progresses

I know the new year is already a few weeks in, but it is a good time to take a moment to reflect and maybe fine-tune with a little refocusing. How are you doing now that the holidays are over and life is starting to get back on track?

New Year, New Me doesn’t have to look the same for everyone and it is okay to start refocusing at any time!

Last Sunday, I sat in a room of 30-plus women and we were talking about the focus of our new year. The conversation was extremely insightful as we realized that most of us have moved past setting only one resolution. Instead, a lot of us also set goals or a focus word to live by for the year.
For the last two years, I have been doing all three above and it has been great. No more feeling like I failed because I didn’t complete my resolution. We’ve all been there, done that.
Let me walk you through my Refocusing process:
Setting a Resolution:
  1. Choose something that can be broken down into smaller steps i.e. cooking at home three nights a week; this will help your overall bigger goal, i.e. eating healthier this year.
  2. Choose something you can adjust and control.
Setting Goals is a great way to measure your progress with a resolution. They are also a great way to redirect yourself as your life changes. It’s important to adapt to your season of life. 
Setting Goals: 
  1. Make sure it is measurable.
  2. Make sure it pushes you out of your comfort zone.
  3. Once you reach the goal make another one right away to help you develop more. 
  4. Be Specific! Make sure the goal is clear on what you want to do.
Here are a few examples from our group discussion that I loved:
  • Taking time before bed to self care. Start with brushing your teeth every night and washing your face. 
  • Spending 10 minutes a day journaling. Using a 5-year journal record a couple of sentences on what happened during the day. Look back at past years’ journal entries to reflect. 
  • Spend 1 evening at home together as a family per week. Set a day every week that everyone will be home together. Cook and eat dinner together then play a game or watch a movie. One family chose Sunday because it’s the slowest day. 
  • Run a Marathon. Start by running a mile, 2 miles then a fun run. Move to a 1/2 marathon and then on to a marathon. 
  • Read/Listen to 60 Books. Read or listen to 1 book a week. Have only 2 books going at a time. Listen while cleaning or driving and read at night after the kids go to bed, or before you go to bed.
Setting a Focus Word:
  • Make sure the word has meaning to you. Make sure you know the meaning of the word and how it is applicable to reflect you. No one else has to understand. Just you and/or your family. 
  • Set reminders around your home. I love to create or put up artwork in my home. or have the word on my planner and in my journal. 
  • Set Goals and activities Around your focus. Try to apply your word to your daily life and goals. We have a lot of sports interaction and kindness and humility are often overlooked. We focus on our kids encouraging and cheering on others and not boasting or showboating.
Remember whatever you choose, let it take on a personal meaning to you. Don’t fear changing or adapting to your life and what you have going on, THERE IS NO SHAME in refocusing. 
The biggest advice I can give is to try to do 1% better than the day before, and then do the same the next day. 
How are you refocusing for the year? 

Madagascar The Musical at the Fox Theatre!

Madagascar The Musical is coming to the Fox Theatre on Saturday, May 13, 2023, at 2 PM!
This smash hit musical features all your favorite crack-a-lackin’ friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar.
This brand-new musical from Dreamworks {Shrek The Musical} will leave audiences with no choice but to “Move It, Move It!”
Tickets are on sale now at and! For more details, visit the event page HERE!
Buying tickets today? Save 20% off select tickets with code FAMILY.
It’s a musical adventure you don’t want to miss!

In + Around Mid-MIchigan