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Magnolia.com

A note from Joanna Gaines on the ‘Fixer Upper’ finale and what’s next

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Originally posted by Joanna Gaines on Magnolia.com.


Tonight marks the final episode of Fixer Upper—the series finale. This season of life has been rewarding, challenging, unbelievably fast and furious and nearly everything in between. Back in September when Chip and I posted the blog announcing that this season would be our last, it still seemed so far away. At the time, we were knee-deep in the restaurant renovation, we had filming left to wrap up, and we were working toward finishing up several projects. April felt like it was forever away, but somehow it snuck up on us. Time is funny like that, the days sometimes seem long, but the weeks, months and even years fly past us when we least expect it.

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I really loved this final Fixer Upper season because there was such a variety of styles and projects that really kept us on our toes. We did everything from an old barn out in the country to a downtown loft apartment. We also got to do some pretty unique projects like my garden house, a new build for clients, our restaurant, and an ADA compliant house for two amazing boys and their family that we met through the Tim Tebow Foundation. Oh, and of course tonight’s episode, where we do a renovation for a Rockstar! You can read a recap of all the homes from this season and see photos of all the designs up on our website under the tab “Show”. We are grateful to all the families who joined in on this journey with us over the past five years—what an honor to be a part of their stories.

I do want to take some time to update you on a bunch of things that are going on in our neck of the woods now that filming is over. We are so thrilled that our restaurant, Magnolia Table is finally up and running. The whole project was a huge undertaking, and we are so happy that it is officially open! If you come visit the restaurant, some of Chip’s favorites are the Farm Eggs Benedict, tater tots, the bacon and eggs appetizer and of course Chip’s Ham Sandwich. I am currently craving the pancakes, chicken salad sandwich, lavender latte and the Gaines Bros Burger with the jalapeño drip jam. My stomach is growling as I type this!

Magnolia.com

We also finished my cookbook, Magnolia Table, which will be out April 24th. It’s a collection of recipes from my kitchen, our restaurant, and some of my favorites from family and friends. Cooking is so special to me because time spent around the table with family and friends is such a gift. My hope is that this book inspires you in the kitchen and that you’ll find recipes that become tried and true favorites for your own family!

Magnolia.com

I am working on finishing up my design book this month! My passion is to help people in their own homes—you don’t have to be a designer to get it right. It’s not about rules and special formulas. I believe it starts by simply going with your gut and telling your story. I unpack many different looks and styles in this book and give a deeper look into the design process and where to start with your space. I can’t wait to share this project with you, and I will keep you posted on when it will be available.

As far as renovations after Fixer Upper, many of you may know that we were doing construction and design years before the show came online. Our company Magnolia Design and Construction has been fixing up homes for over 15 years now and we don’t plan on stopping any time soon! We have some big projects in the works and we are currently renovating a few flip houses and building about 20 new homes here in town. I will be posting some pictures soon—I can’t wait for you to see all of these new designs. Once these homes are a little further along, we will share more info with you about them so stay tuned!

We have exciting plans for our online store this summer here at Magnolia! We will be launching Magnolia Kids which will have everything from children’s furniture to accessories. There may be some baby stuff, too, because of course that’s all I can think about!

Magnolia.com

And now for a quick update on the home front. Chip continues to increase our pet population. He recently surprised us all with a new kitten AND a new puppy. Oh, sweet Chip…

Chip is also busy training for the Silo District Marathon in May. He is doing such an amazing job and anytime he goes on a long run, my favorite thing is watching the kids wait for him to come down our driveway so they can cheer him on in those last steps. I always get teary eyed because I am just so proud. When this marathon comes, I am going to be a big ball of a mess when he crosses that finish line. Chip wrote about wanting to run a marathon a year ago in his book, and now he is just a month out from reaching his goal!

For us, the end of this final season marks the beginning of a new one. If you would have told me that I’d end this season of the show pregnant with our fifth baby, I would’ve laughed. Like the entire Fixer Upper opportunity as a whole, life has a way of surprising us. With our little ones getting bigger, we had this gut feeling that it was time to step back and focus on them and our businesses here in Waco, Texas. And although that’s why we thought we decided to step away from the show, we now realize with this little one on the way that there was a bigger plan in place for us all along.

Magnolia.com

Pregnancy has been so fun, in fact my two favorite things to do are take naps and eat! Since it’s been over eight years since I was pregnant with Emmie Kay, I joke with my friends that it feels like it’s my first time being pregnant. The best thing about all of this is the excitement that my kids have shown for their new baby brother. Since I had our first four babies so close to one another, none of them actually remember me being pregnant. They love my growing belly (and boy is it growing), and they cannot wait to meet him. I truly believe this baby is a gift from God for our family in this season.

I hope you’ll tune in tonight for our final episode on HGTV at 9/8c. This project is one of my favorites, and of course, we must end the series with some shiplap! Season Five’s Behind the Design episodes will start airing next Tuesday, which will give you an in-depth look into the process and also some rooms you didn’t get to see in the original reveal.

Magnolia.com

Today is really bittersweet for us. Fixer Upper is the thing that introduced our family to yours, and every Tuesday night for the past five years, we have felt you rooting us on from the other side of the screen. We’ve said it many times, but it’s worth saying again—thank you to everyone who has walked beside us on this journey. Whether you watched every single show since season one or you are just now tuning in, you all have been a part of this and Chip and I will always be grateful for your support. We’re not saying goodbye! I’d love for you to follow along with us on our newsletter, on social media or right here on my blog for future updates. We’re so excited for all that’s still to come!

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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

This article was sponsored by Kinder. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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It's the kind of news no one wants to report and that no elected official wants to have to give to constituents, but on Wednesday Connecticut's Governor, Ned Lamont broke the news that an infant in his state died due to complications of COVID-19.

"It is with heartbreaking sadness today that we can confirm the first pediatric fatality in Connecticut linked to #COVID19. A 6-week-old newborn from the Hartford area was brought unresponsive to a hospital late last week and could not be revived," Lamont tweeted.

According to the governor, the baby tested positive for COVID-19.

"This is absolutely heartbreaking. We believe this is one of the youngest lives lost anywhere due to complications relating to COVID-19," he wrote.

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Lamont continued: "This is a virus that attacks our most fragile without mercy. This also stresses the importance of staying home and limiting exposure to other people. Your life and the lives of others could literally depend on it. Our prayers are with the family at this difficult time."

Lamont initially said the baby was 6 weeks old, but Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin later confirmed the baby girl was 7 weeks old, NBC Connecticut reports.

Before this baby's death, the youngest person to die from COVID-19 in Connecticut was 35 years old. The Connecticut case follows the death of a 9-month-old infant in Illinois on March 23. That baby's death is still being investigated as it is presumed to have been caused by COVID-19 but that has not yet been confirmed. The results of that cause of death investigation are expected within days, The Chicago Tribune reported this week.

Health officials are asking parents to take the social distancing guidelines seriously because while preliminary research suggests that children with COVID-19 usually don't get as sick as adults, a study posted by the journal Pediatrics found babies and preschoolers can become severely ill if they get COVID-19 (older kids are also are not immune, as the recent deaths of teens in France and London, England illustrate).

We are not reporting on this news to scare you, mama. We are reporting it to inform you so that you can make the best choices possible to protect your family.

Here is how you can protect you babies from COVID-19:

According to Dr. Aaron Milstone, M.D., M.H.S., a pediatrician at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and an infectious disease expert at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, the best way to keep our kids from getting COVID-19 is to avoid exposure. That means staying home and avoiding contact with people who don't live in your home or who are sick or have been exposed to sick people.

"Children are exposed to COVID-19 when the virus contacts their eyes, nose, mouth or lungs. This usually occurs when a nearby infected person coughs or sneezes, which releases respiratory droplets into the air and onto the child's face or nearby surfaces such as tables, food or hands," Dr. Milstone explains.

Speaking on Good Morning America this week, another expert, Dr. David Kimberlin (professor and co-director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama-Birmingham) reminded parents that there are other viruses going around that are not COVID-19.

"Not every fever, not every cough is going to be this new COVID-19 virus," said Kimberlin. "That said, the coronavirus is circulating widely and so it has to be on our radar and part of what we're thinking. Pediatricians across the country are on heightened awareness with this."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents call their doctor if their infant is showing symptoms that could be COVID-19 (including fever, cough and shortness of breath). Your pediatrician can tell you if you need to take your baby to the ER.

If your infant or child has difficulty breathing, can't keep down liquids, has bluish lips, confusion or won't wake up, call 911.

[An earlier version of this post stated the baby's 6 weeks old. It has been updated with clarification from Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, who says the baby was 7 weeks old.]

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The World Health Organization and other organizations agree that pregnant people have the right to have their partner or another companion present at their birth, but recently several New York hospitals barred partners from delivery wards. Pushback from the government forced them to reverse course—but a recent case has some hospitals tightening visitor policies without issuing outright bans.

A New York state father made headlines this week after he hid his coronavirus symptoms from hospital staff at the University of Rochester's Strong Memorial Hospital so that he could be present for the birth of his child. When the mother started showing coronavirus symptoms shortly after giving birth, the father told hospital staff that he had been exposed and was symptomatic when he came to the hospital.

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"After the mother exhibited symptoms, and the OB team learned that the partner had been exposed to COVID-19 and was symptomatic, the patient was tested and all staff who had been in contact were informed of their possible exposure," a hospital spokesperson explained in a statement to media.

Thankfully, no staff members tested positive and the family has been sent home to quarantine, but the case highlighted the need for stricter screening of visitors. Before this case, the hospital asked visitors questions to confirm their health status. Now, they're checking temperatures at the door and every 12 hours for the duration of their visit.

"It was purely an honor system before," UR Medicine spokesman Chip Partner told The Democrat and Chronicle. "Now we're adding the temperature check."

"Our health care team understands how important it is to pregnant patients to have a support person with them during labor, and therefore, additional safeguards have been added to allow this to continue safely," the hospital's statement to media explains.

It continues: "We will continue to weigh all the medical evidence available to continue to make the best possible decision for all our patients, visitors and staff."

It would be heartbreaking for a parent to not be present at the birth of their child, but it would be even more heartbreaking if other babies contracted coronavirus. It is important that people be honest with medical care providers during this time of crisis.

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Looking for more creative activities to keep littles entertained while isolating during the coronavirus outbreak? We hear you, mama. Quarantine life isn't easy, that's why we were thrilled to hear that the Library of Congress is collaborating with Captain Underpants and Dog Man author Dav Pilkey to create weekly video drawing lessons for kids.

Starting today, their website will include free videos and downloadable activities for kids to participate in. And, on Fridays at 8 am, viewers can enjoy Pelkey's reading sessions from his books on its website and social media feeds.

In a new video, Pilkey explains that he's stuck indoors just like his young fans are and is spending some time drawing his Little Petey the Cat character.

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"And one thing a lot of people don't know is that little Petey is actually based on my mom. My mom is one of the most optimistic, positive people I've ever met. Even when I was a kid and I was having a hard time at school she always had my back, and she always believed in me. Even sometimes when I didn't believe in myself. And little Petey is a lot like my mom. He's always looking on the bright side of life and I think that's an important thing to do, especially when times are tough," Pilkey says, before reminding kids to keep drawing, reading and doing good during the pandemic.

It's a message kids (and moms) need these days.

"The Library of Congress is delighted to join forces with our friend Dav Pilkey and the nimble team at Scholastic to bring you Dav Pilkey at Home," Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden told Publishers Weekly. "Our hope is to combine Dav's artistic gifts and charisma with the wealth of knowledge in our collections. We know that Dav's message of Do Good and the Library's message of Engage, Inspire, Inform are natural partners and will bring children, parents and teachers many happy and fruitful moments during this difficult time."

Each show will also feature tips from Pilkey for children to act out scenes from Dog Man books and for creating new characters of their own. This initiative truly comes as no surprise as Pilkey has made it his mission to promote literacy and creativity in children over the last two decades.

Be sure to tune in and if you need even more Pilkey, check out his other hilarious and heart-warming books.

News

Mothers carry an incredibly heavy mental load during the best of times and during this pandemic, we are facing unprecedented psychological challenges. And a new Pew Research Center survey found women are reporting higher rates of psychological distress right now, compared to men.

According to Pew, people financially affected by COVID-19 and those juggling childcare after school and day care closures are more likely to be psychologically impacted by this crisis. Women in America are both more likely to be living paycheck-to-paycheck and more likely to be responsible for children when schools close, so it makes sense that we are more distressed right now.

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But COVID-19 cannot be an excuse for society to abandon mothers—we will need to support each other in the coming months more than ever.

Marisa Young is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at McMaster University. According to Young, during the pandemic parents may "endure more than what might be psychologically manageable," even if they have the privilege of working from home. "During this outbreak, parents are suffering," Young writes for The Conversation.

She continues: "They are dealing with one of the most consequential impacts on the psychological health of the modern-day workforce: work-family conflict. This conflict has to do with the competing demands of paid work and family obligations. Additional workplace closures and social distancing practices will make it even harder for working parents over the next few months."

If you're not flourishing in this new world, mama, don't worry. No one is.

"The situation feels impossible for two-parent homes where both partners can work from home—and gets exponentially harder for single parents, kids with special needs, families experiencing homelessness, and parents who have to work outside of the home. Add financial worries, lack of proper technology for online distance learning, and logistical challenges like grocery shopping and managing outside time while social distancing, and it can feel downright paralyzing," Cheryl Wischhover writes for Vox.

It's not you, mama. It really is this hard

Single mom Devonne Moise of Charlotte, North Carolina was already struggling financially before the pandemic hit, and how she's trying to homeschool her children, she told Christina Bolling of the Charlotte Observer. "I just feel like, God, I'm trying," she told Boiling from the front porch of her home where her children were trying to do schoolwork but barriers like missing Chromebook cables and WIFi disconnection were slowing their progress.

"My kids say, 'Mom, as long as you stay positive, we'll know it's okay.' So I don't let them see me frustrated," she said. "But I'm just so tired." Moise said.

She's not just physically tired, she's emotionally spent. Extreme fatigue is a symptom of depression and psychologists say the pandemic is increasing our stress levels, anxiety, depression and panic attacks.

Even parents have panic attacks

According to Pew, almost 20% of U.S. adults say they've had a physical reaction to pandemic news in recent weeks, and this is especially true for people who are facing financial hardship. For many, these physical reactions come in the form of panic attacks.

Google's data shows that searches for "panic attack symptoms" are up 100% since the pandemic started and there has been a surge in calls to mental health hotlines.

If you are suffering from panic attacks know that you are not alone. "The piece that gets people going in a classic panic attack is often that they feel as though they can't breathe," Sheila Addison, a licensed marriage and family therapist in California, tells Popular Science.

Addison recommends those in the midst of a panic attack attempt to slow their breathing, and focus on counting to four while inhaling, take a pause, and then exhale to four. Repeating that process doesn't instantly end a panic attack but it does diminish it, she explains.

Ask for help when you need it

If fear and panic attacks are taking over your life, ask for help, mama. In a piece for The Washington Post, single mom and writer Pooja Makhijani explained how her anxiety was exacerbated as COVID-19 cases in her home state of New Jersey skyrocketed. When she found herself panicking she reached out.

"I'm asking for help, which for now comes mostly in the form of phone calls for me and virtual play dates for my daughter," she writes.

"And I'm making myself available to others—as a resource for recipes or home schooling activities and as a listening ear to those whose challenges are different from mine. Being open and vulnerable has served me well in past difficult situations, and now while we are social distancing, I'm reaching into that well of giving often."

We mothers can support each other, but we must also demand companies, employers and lawmakers support us.

There are several well-researched ways companies can support workers' mental health if they are working remotely, and flexibility is a big one.

Government support for those who cannot work from home is important, too, and lawmakers may need to consider innovative ways to help America's stressed mothers. Dr. Eric J. Brandt, a National Clinician Scholar at the Yale University School of Medicine is calling on the government to expand SNAP and WIC to allow users to order groceries online using Instacart or other services.

But right now, even mothers who don't need SNAP or WIC are having difficulty ordering groceries online, something that is certainly contributing to mothers' psychological distress and the stress of delivery workers.

Bottom line: Mothers need support to keep working, support if they can't work, and support to feed their families during this challenging time. And when the curve flattens and we are able to leave our homes, affordable childcare and maternal mental health support will be key to rebuilding a post-pandemic America.

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