Friday, February 17, 2017

Aiden Paul is 4!

Oh how is our baby boy going to be FOUR already?!  I remember thinking a year ago that turning three wasn't a big deal, he's still a toddler, which is still close to being a baby.  But here we are at 4 and he is officially a little kid.  Of course I'm overjoyed to watch him grow into a healthy, happy boy, but that doesn't mean I don't long for one day of newborn Aiden snuggles.  

Aiden turns four on Sunday and we are celebrating at one of his favorite places!  It's going to be a busy few days before then because next week we are heading to the happiest place on I wanted to share about our soon-to-be 4-year-old today.  

Aiden is so many things, it's hard to know where to begin.  He is still the best cuddler (he's on my lap as I type this) and thrives on one-on-one attention.  I think that comes from having a baby sister so close in age.  He is happiest in the dirt with trucks, putting together train tracks or drawing.  He LOVES school this year (thank goodness) and is learning so much.  He has one more year of preschool before Kindergarten.

Aiden is goofy, imaginative and active.  I swear he could run a marathon on those little legs and he's starting to be interested in sports.  He can really swing a bat!  He carries his pony Cassidy with him quite a bit and also talks about a few other imaginative animals and places.  He's not the best listener (which we work on A LOT), but he's really trying to be good.  He likes to model good behavior for Audrey and make sure she's being a good listener and he now instinctively says please, thank you and I'm sorry...and typically means it :).

His relationship with Audrey warms my heart (most of the time).  They are becoming quite the pair; they play pretty well together and Aiden is learning she won't always do what he wants, haha.  He calls her "baby girl" like I do and it's adorable.  He looks up to his Daddy and is in awe of everything he does.  He is like him in so many ways and they love spending time - just the boys.  He is a mama's boy as well.  It's hard for me to not give him everything he wants because he just has a strong grip on my heart.  He made me a mommy, challenges me, and has taught me more than I thought possible.

Aiden Favorites: Trains, Trucks, All Other Vehicles, Mickey, PJ Masks, Blippi, Riding his Bike, Digging Outside, School, Drawing and Writing his Name, Being Bossy, Holidays (especially Halloween), Goetta, "Old McDonald's as he calls it, and the Pancake Place (aka Bob Evans). 

Aiden Dislikes: Following Directions, The Potty, Vegetables and Most Fruit (sigh), and other random things he decides to dislike at the moment.

Aiden Paul....We LOVE you!! We hope you have the most wonderful birthday and we can't wait to spend the week as a family.  

Some favorite pictures from the past year...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My Picky Princess Who Loves Freshly Picked!

Either I've blocked it out of my memory or Aiden wasn't as "terrible" at age 2 as our sweet girl can sometimes be.  She has two moods - sweet and loving or wild and opinionated.  Kind of sounds like most women ;).  But one thing she has been VERY opinionated about recently is her clothing.  She is pretty much in either a diaper or her Santa PJs 90% of the time...much to my dismay, given the adorable-ness of her wardrobe.  

Now that spring is approaching, I knew she would need some new shoes and I wanted to choose wisely.  Luckily, I was able to partner up with Freshly Picked to get her a new pair of their famous moccasins!  She lived in her last pair and I've been anxious to get her a replacement.  When I saw the new "Sweetheart" style, my heart was sold.

Audrey remembered her last pair and eagerly pulled these out of the packaging.  We slipped them on (they are SO easy to put on...she can even do it herself!) and she was OFF.  As I mentioned...she has a wild streak.  

Her feet are fairly wide and thick, so I love that these shoes actually fit her and mold to her foot.  Since it was chilly today, I had her wear socks with them, but as it warms up, you can definitely skip them!  The quality is amazing, they really do last a long time ( I get them a little big because of this fact) and they are easier to clean than you'd think.  Truly worth the investment.  Plus, they're adorable.

It's appropriate that my "picky" little girl loves her Freshly Picked moccasins.  These shoes have the same amount of attitude as she does...which may be why she struts her stuff when she wears them ;).  Freshly Picked provides a wide variety of styles to choose from...the "Dalmation" and "Leopard" were hard to pass up!

Check out all Freshly Picked has to offer here.  And be on the look out on my Instagram page - @anlimke - for a giveaway soon! 

Huge thanks to Freshly Picked for sponsoring this post! 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

An Attitude of Gratitude

Surely you've heard this phrase before.  If not, I'm glad to be the one to introduce it to you.  "An Attitude of Gratitude" has been a difficult concept for me lately.  Of course I am extremely grateful for this life, but I've been forgetting to live as if I am.  I've found myself crying and frowning more than laughing and smiling.  I'm more negative than positive and I worry much more than I enjoy.  This is not who I am and it's definitely not who I want to be.  Without getting too personal, let's just say I know this is a hard cycle to break...but I am taking active steps to break it. 

Why share this?  As I've talked to others about these feelings, I've discovered that I am not so special.  Many people (especially other moms) are going through something similar and it's been comforting to me to know that we share this struggle.  Perhaps by sharing these words, I'll comfort someone else.

One of the ways I am trying to tackle this negativity is to include sayings or phrases in some self-talk each day. Do you talk to yourself?  75% of my day is spent with toddlers, so I do happen to have a lot of "talk" going on in my head.  I'm starting with typing these ideas here, with the hope that I will come back to this post when I feel these emotions taking over.  

Here we go.  These ideas came from a variety of sources, but the words are all my own.  I will plug a specific book I am reading right now, You'll Get Through This by Max Lucado.  It's pretty much life-changing.  I hope this list helps you to gain new perspective, and also develop an "Attitude of Gratitude."

  • Whenever you have the opportunity to make someone's day... Do it.
  • Make your kids laugh whenever possible.
  • Instead of saying "I have to," say "I GET to."
  • Take a deep breath before disciplining your kids.
  • When talking with someone, look him in the eyes.
  • Tell a different person each day why you are grateful for him/her.
  • Apologize when you've done something that warrants it.  
  • Listen - to your spouse, your kids, your friends.  
  • When you start to feel jealous of someone, feel happy for them instead.
  • When in the middle of heartache, chaos or both...remember there was a way in, so there is also a way out. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Struggle is Very Real

Happy February!  This has always been such a blah month, especially weather wise, but this year we have so many fun things planned!  Aiden turns 4 and we have a BIG surprise for both him and Audrey (hint: our Magic Bands arrived this week!!!) and it's also American Heart Month.  I recently became involved with the Cincinnati chapter of the American Heart Association and look forward to bringing awareness to everyone in the next few weeks.

But back to the topic for today...I share a lot about my success and motivation when it comes to health and weight loss.  Of course that's much more fun to talk about than the struggles, but I also want to be honest.  It's easy to read someone else's story and only see the highlights...and get discouraged.  The age old question does she make it look so easy?'s not.  Not at all. 

I am an emotional eater.  Food is a major comfort for me, and I'm not talking about fruit and veggies. When I'm sad, anxious or bored, I crave comfort food.  Fast food, sweets...all the stuff I try to limit.  The past few months have been a true test to not "fall off the wagon."  My mom's health has been a major struggle, we've moved, had lots of food-centered holidays and cold weather.  All things that make me want to lie down on the couch with a big bowl of ice cream.  Old habits die hard.

I have to remind myself on a daily basis why I chose to change my lifestyle.  When I plan our dinners, drive past a McDonald's or see a recipe on Pinterest...I literally have to talk through why those aren't good choices.  It doesn't always work.  I eat carbs at dinner, order chicken nuggets with my kids and make delicious desserts from Pinterest.  The secret...I've made this the exception, not the rule.

When I think back to when I first started adjusting my diet and putting fitness near the top of my priorities, I remember feeling excited and motivated.  The fitness part of it has always been MUCH easier than the eating.  I love working out and I love the way it makes me feel.  But I also love the way a cheeseburger tastes.  What it's taken me two years to realize's okay that a cheeseburger tastes good.  Eat it.  And yes, every once in awhile, eat it with the bun.  And then get right back to the healthy choices.

I've seen so many people try - and fail - at fad diets where you have to completely eliminate things.  I used to do it, too.  I've gone through phases of no carbs, no pop (the only one I still stick to), no fast food, no sugar, etc.  Some people plan this for a short period of time and then go right back to the way they were eating...well, that doesn't work.  And you know what?  It's not good for your body.  Now, I have also seen people do this (like a Whole 30 diet) and then continue with a healthy, balanced that does work.  The key is to find what works for you - forever.  Find a path that you can take for the rest of your life.  

The point of all of this babbling?  Losing weight is HARD.  Keeping it off is even harder.  I do not have all of the answers, but I've found what works for me and my body.  I know that it will always be a bit of a struggle to make good choices when it comes to food, and I also know to allow myself to have what I crave.  If you're trying to adopt a new, healthier lifestyle...stick with it.  Hang in there.  Give yourself some credit.  You can do it - you WILL do it.  I believe in you.

And Happy Heart Month!  Please wear RED on Friday to support this wonderful movement :). 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Favorites

Oh this's been a bit of a long one.  We've all been sick with sinus/cold/cough yuck (for what seems like months), which meant no school for Audrey on Wednesday and not enough gym time for me.  That may sound petty, but that is my time to recharge and de-stress and I'm feeling it today.  But anyway...we have to all feel better eventually...right? :)

There have been some highlights this week.  Last Sunday I decided to plan ahead for the week and meal prep my lunches.  Lunch is tough for me because we are often out or what I make for the kids isn't really the best option for me (it's probably not the best option for them either, but that's another post, another time).  So I roasted veggies and chicken thighs and had this for lunch 3 days this week.  It was great!  I will say the third day was a little tough for me....I was over the food and I get funny about eating leftovers, but I'm glad I got healthy lunches in for so many days.

I recently used some Christmas money to do a little shopping.  I wear workout clothes more than anything else, so I added a few pieces.  This outfit is from GAP and was 50% off!  The shirt is open some in the back, and can be worn with a lot of things!

This kid is all about imaginative play right now and I love it.  He set this up and then pretend played with all of the trains and trucks, giving them voices and making up stories.  I wish I had filmed it! 

While Audrey being sick and neither of us getting any sleep are NOT favorites...the extra snuggles I get sure are.  The unexpected one-on-one time Wednesday morning was good for both of us. 

New shoes! I feel a bit like a hypocrite here because I haven't been a huge fan of the black gym shoe trend.  But, they do happen to match most outfits (not that gym shoes have to match, but...) and these are VERY comfy.  We have a big trip coming up at the end of February (think a certain mouse at a certain castle) and I know I need comfortable walking shoes.  I think I found a winner!

I saw this quote this week and love it so much.  It definitely applies to so many things in my life, but especially my mom's journey right now.  We are trying to focus on the baby steps and when I look back to 7 and a half weeks ago...they've definitely added up.

This guy in the morning (or really any time), is so cuddly!  He loves to be on my lap and is all about getting a blanket so we can snuggle. 

Another favorite fashion find...also 50% off right now at Loft! This shirt is super soft and versatile.  It will be difficult to not wear it every day. 

We have to leave the house today for a work thing, so please send patience and good health vibes our way!  We also have some fun things planned this weekend, so here's to hopefully moving past this yuck TODAY!  Happy Friday everyone :). 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Celebrating Ten Years and Two Years

January 12th.  A day that means quite a bit in my life.  Today will be a little trip down memory lane, but I think spending this time to reflect can help me appreciate the blessings of today.

Ten years ago, I went to a birthday party of a family friend.  (See the very brown picture below, haha.)  It was at this party that my future husband, Andrew, noticed me.  Admittedly, I had noticed him for quite awhile, but never made a move.  Well, Andrew - being the "sly" guy that he is - approached our mutual family friend and asked who I was.  As fate would have it, my mom happened to be standing right there.  Long story short, a business card was given, an email sent, phone calls made, dates happened...the rest, as they say, is history.  January 12th will always go down as the day I "met" the love of my life.

This was taken a few weeks after we started dating.  We look so young.  And rested. 

Fast forward 8 years and in 2015, I went in for my second open-heart surgery to replace my aortic valve.  If you've followed me for awhile, you know this story and you know how much has changed these last two years. 

Within a week of my surgery, I was walking outside.  I carried my heart pillow as comfort and because it hurt like crazy to cough.  I could walk from my house, past about two houses, turned around and came back.  Then I needed a nap.

I kept at it.  I ordered this shirt and took this picture soon after surgery.  I changed my outlook on health, food and fitness.  I looked at my family and knew I wanted to do better.  To BE better.  It was the ultimate motivation.

Two years later...

I write a lot about my progress.  Maybe you're annoyed, inspired, motivated or just happy for me.  Maybe a little of each :).  But I need to do this for me.  I need to see where I started and remind myself why I am doing it.  This all has new meaning now since my mom is now on her own recovery journey - much more difficult than mine was.  She is one of my biggest supporters and I plan on doing the same for her.

So happy 10th anniversary, Andrew.  Ten years ago you changed my life and you've been by my side.  I love you.

And happy 2nd anniversary to my made it possible to change my path and feel what living really is.  

January 12th...a day to celebrate. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

New Year, New Workout

One of my goals when I set out to change my lifestyle was to allow myself options.  By options, I mean shopping in any store I choose, not worrying about the weight limit on a water ride and having the ability to attempt most any physical challenge.  Basically, I didn't want my body to keep me from doing something.  I've mentioned before that I felt like a physical/active person, trapped in a body that didn't allow it.  Well, that's no longer the case.

For the past two years, I've been pretty consistent with the types of workouts I've been doing.  They are mostly at the gym and involve pre-set circuits, with strength and cardio mixed together.  I also take a "dance" class from time to time and attempt running, but my knee isn't a fan.  I love my routine, and the people who are a part of it, but with the new year I wanted to try something different.  I also wanted to push myself.  Enter ELMNTL Fitness!

My friend Kathryn (A TWO-TIME Ironman!) has been telling me about ELMNTL for awhile now, but I was honestly too nervous to try it.  I mean, she has completed the hardest physical challenge possible, so I assumed the others involved were of the same caliber.  Here's the thing I've realized - and this is for those of you who are nervous to try something new - those leading and participating in these workouts want you there.  They want to include you, inspire you and challenge you - and they will make it work for YOU.  I've learned this lesson at my gym and I learned it at ELMNTL.

Of course I chose the coldest day EVER (felt like -1) to try this out, but the temperature really wasn't a factor.  Now the layers were a bit restricting and the monkey bars were icy, but besides that, it was fun working out in the snow!  The group was super friendly and welcoming and the owner, Kevin, made sure I felt comfortable (yet challenged).  The setting was beautiful and despite the sore muscles, I truly enjoyed myself.  The workout included a lot of what I do in the gym, but outside and using elements of nature - hence the name :).  

Losing 97 pounds has been life-changing.  But possibly the biggest change has been my attitude.  My confidence.  It's something I've never fully embraced, but now feel ready to take on so much more than before.  Maybe it's not trying a challenging outdoor workout (although, I highly recommend it!), maybe it's just walking into a gym.  Or maybe it's asking for a raise, standing up to a bully, or reaching out to a long-lost friend.  Whatever your hurdle is, run straight for it and jump.  You may stumble, you may even fall flat on your face.  But what if you don't?  What if you realize that trying is half the battle, and it'll only get you closer to your goal? 

Happy Monday, friends :).