Friday, January 30, 2015


I have never been good at using a yo-yo. I can get it to come back up maybe once.  What I am good at though, is allowing my weight to go up and down.  I’ve been that way since, well, birth.  I was tiny when I was born, grew quickly off the charts and have been yo-yoing ever since.  This isn’t the most comfortable thing to write about, but if I’m going to use this blog to help keep me accountable, I need to be honest. 
The smallest I've ever been.  Sorry for the pic, mom :).

Cute and chubby.
I first remember thinking that I was “fat” in late elementary school.  I was definitely getting picked on then and when liking boys started entering the picture, forget about it.  It continued to be pretty bad until 8th grade and then I feel like it lessened somewhat.  I’m not sure if kids matured or if it was because I thinned out a little after a summer growth spurt.  The damage was done though, and I had horrible self-esteem and definitely thought I was ginormous.  Looking back at pictures from high school now, I don’t think I look that bad, but at the time I definitely felt much bigger than my naturally thin friends. 

High School graduation.  Not the best picture, but I still have that pink dress.   My goal is to wear it again someday!
College came and it started out okay.  I even took aerobics as a class my first semester to help avoid the freshman fifteen.  But then, just my clumsy luck, I fell while ice-skating and broke my hip.  Yes, I still get made fun of for this injury today.  81 year olds break their hips, not 18 year olds.  But, this injury was the beginning of the ups and downs of my weight through adulthood.  I gained all through college and was the heaviest I had ever been at graduation.  It happened gradually, so I didn’t really notice until I looked at pictures from freshman year and senior year.  Very different.  After graduation, I was determined to make a change.  I was together with some friends and for some reason we were talking about the Biggest Loser.  We said whoever lost the most weight would get a prize the next year.  For some reason, this ignited my fire.  Because I had random part time jobs, I was able to work out quite a bit and really worked on my eating habits.  Sure enough, a year and about 50 pounds later I received that prize - a dvd of Will Ferrell’s best SNL moments.  Totally worth all the hard work.

After I lost the college weight.  I didn't have any late college pics easily available.  Plus, most are inappropriate ;).

Before my sprint triathlon.  Oh we look so young.

As the weight started gaining back on.  This was a little over a month after my first surgery.

Preggo with Aiden.
I was able to keep the weight off through my wedding and for a few months after.  Again, it was a medical issue that set me back.  In September of 2009 I had my first open heart surgery.  I really struggled coming back from that, didn’t watch what I ate and became more sedentary.  The weight piled on all the way through my pregnancy with Aiden.  After Aiden was born, again I was motivated to be healthy.  I wanted to be active with my son and feel good about myself.  I worked really hard and lost the 30 pounds I had gained while pregnant, plus 50 more.  Then came Miss Audrey.  When I found out I was pregnant with her, it was like every craving I had over the past year took over.  Donuts for breakfast?  Sure!  Milkshakes any time?  Definitely.  Make cookies with Aiden and eat most of them myself?  Absolutely.  (Sweets were my major downfall.)  I gained 50+ pounds during pregnancy and a lot of it had to do with the food I was eating.  Also, I was told by my doctors to not exert myself because of my heart issue, so I couldn’t continue to work out.  But that’s not a good enough excuse.

Working hard to take weight off after Aiden was born.

Thankfully, those pants would still be big.  
A few weeks before Audrey was born.
And that brings us to now.  To be honest, I was terrified to have this surgery for several reasons but a big one was that I would “let go” again and gain more weight.  I am determined to not let that happen.  Thanks to no appetite and water pills, I’ve lost 12 pounds since surgery.  My appetite is back now though, so I’m trying to be careful about my diet.  I know myself well enough to know that I cannot completely deprive myself of something.  It is all about moderation and portion control.  With all of the wonderful meals people have been bringing us, I’ve enjoyed all of them, but in modest portions. 

And today.  Literally.  No makeup, no sucking it in, no helpful Instagram editing.

My plan is to write about how this is all going every Friday.  If I make that a goal, I know it will help me make better choices throughout the week.  People are so hesitant to talk about weight and being healthy.  As kids, no one seemed to have a problem calling someone names right to their face.  As adults, we tend to talk about it behind a person’s back – did he/she gain weight?  Have you seen her lately? It is a sensitive subject, believe me I know.  My goal is to be healthy and strong, and I’m trying to be more open about that.  No shame, no feeling sorry for myself.  I want to be a good example for my kids and live a long life for them.  Here’s to letting the weight yo-yo go down, but my spirit and health go up.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

I Heart Etsy

I love buying gifts for people.  There is nothing better than finding the perfect present that you’re sure will make that person smile.  It’s not always easy to find unique, thoughtful gifts, so when I discovered Etsy a few years ago, it was a match made in heaven.  After a recent purchase, I decided to look back at everything I’ve purchased on Etsy and it dates back to 2011.  It's a mixture of gifts for others and fun items for Aiden and Audrey.  Oddly enough, only one purchase was for myself and I just bought it two weeks ago.  It's just more fun shopping for others.  You are probably already an Etsy expert, but in case it’s new to you, I’ve summed up my favorite things about the site.  If you’re not already hooked, you might be after reading this!

1. I am supporting small businesses, and it’s usually a mom who wants to be home with her kids.  I will always love shopping at Target and ordering from Amazon, but whenever I can support a small business, I’m all for it.  One gift I bought was from a woman who started doing it to raise extra money for her son who has expensive medical bills due to a disability.  Buying a meaningful gift and helping a family in need?  Win-win.

2. I can make direct connections with the owner and even request custom orders.  I always message the shop first to confirm shipping time, sizes, etc. and it often turns into a conversation and believe it or not a discount! Not always, but several shop owners have given me coupon codes after discussing their products.

3. The items are one of a kind.  I’ve just recently ventured into buying clothes on Etsy, but I love that I can get one of a kind items that are always conversation pieces.  I love Baby Gap as much as the next guy, but sometimes I want something a little different.

4. You can literally search for any kind of gift and you will more than likely find it.  For example, I was watching HGTV (surprise, surprise) and saw a clock made out of a bike in one of the renovations.  It was right before Christmas and I immediately thought what a great gift that it would make for my father in law.  So I headed to Etsy and searched “bicycle clock.”  Sure enough, several options popped up.  I ended up with one that was made out of recycled bike gears.  Pretty cool. 

5. Etsy and Instagram are best friends.  I recently discovered that most Etsy shops are on Instagram.  I’ve started to follow my favorites and even found some new favorites.  This has led to learning of discounts and new items and even my first free item! 

I had hoped to include pictures of my favorite purchases in this post, but I’m not tech savvy enough to do that yet.  So instead, here are a few pictures of my kids in Etsy finds.  Happy shopping :).
Purchased hat and scarf for our Christmas card picture.
Aiden's 1st Birthday shirt
Train Conductor hat and scarf
Apple hat for Audrey's newborn pictures of many now :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"Who needs sleep? Well you're never gonna get it..."

Have you ever watched HGTV and been jealous of a newly remodeled bedroom and even gone so far as to imagine yourself sleeping in the perfectly made bed?  I have.  On more than one occasion.  Sleep is something that has eluded me for the past two and a half years, actually a little longer, pretty much since I was pregnant with Aiden.  I could never get comfortable and despite being exhausted, I never got good sleep.  I’m sure anyone who’s been pregnant can relate.  But, you deal with it and chalk it up to “it will help prepare me for when the baby comes” and “that is just part of motherhood.”  I can honestly say I am used to not sleeping now.  I don’t think I could sleep for a solid 8 hours if I tried.  I tried to feel better about pending surgery by telling myself I’d get more sleep.  Well, I didn’t think about nurses checking me around the clock at the hospital, or how it’s impossible to get comfortable in a bed (or anywhere) for weeks after open-heart surgery.  I also didn’t think about how even though I can do nothing about it, my momness didn’t just turn off and I still wake up to every sound or move the kids make. 

Aiden is absolutely amazing.  He is silly, energetic, creative and is obsessed with trains.  His smile and laugh have been the best medicine and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.  But, the kid will not sleep.  He never has.  As a newborn he would sleep for short stretches, he never slept more than a couple hours in his crib and the only way we’ve been able to survive these past two years has been to cosleep.  Yes, we are a cosleeping family.  Who would’ve guessed?  No judgment, but I always thought cosleeping was weird and NEVER thought I would do it.  But then I had a baby who wouldn’t sleep and also had perpetual ear infections.  These past couple of weeks has been tough on Aiden because he hasn’t been able to sleep with us.  I take up half of the bed with all of the pillows tucked around me and we are afraid he will climb on me in the middle of the night.  He is actually back to sleeping with us now (long story, but the whole slumber party with grandparents thing wasn’t working), but it is still very difficult.  And don’t get me started on napping.  If we want Aiden to nap, we have to take him for a ride in the car.  Sometimes it takes 15 minutes, sometimes over an hour for him to fall asleep.  I’m debating taking gas money out of his college fund.  But, as a parent, I’ve said the phrase “you’re gonna miss this” to myself many a time and I know there will come a day when Aiden will practically throw up at the thought of sleeping in the same bed as me and I won’t feel that little hand rubbing my back in the middle of the night.  I can suck it up for now, and visit Starbucks a lot.

I’m sure Audrey has her faults, but I have yet to find one.  Despite maybe the fact that I’ve had to buy a new wardrobe for her every two weeks because she is growing like a weed.  But, sleep is definitely not one of her faults.  She makes me feel like the best parent ever and even like I could write one of those “how to get your baby to sleep” books.  I’m not sure if it’s because I was much more intentional with teaching her to sleep, if it’s because I’ve bought all of the sleep accessories for her (sound machine, swaddlers, etc.), or if she is just a good sleeper.  Probably a combination of all of those things.  She is generally sleeping through the night and has predictable naps.  She eats when she’s supposed to, plays well and is generally happy.  I’ve probably completely jinxed myself by writing this, but she really has been the definition of a good baby.  My take?  God knew everything we were going to have to go through during her first year of life so he sent us this little angel.  I’ll probably pay for it when she’s a teenager ;). 

This post doesn’t really have a message or philosophical takeaway.  Sleep has just been on my brain recently.  I know I’ll get it again someday.  In the meantime, maybe we should buy this book for Aiden for his birthday.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Acceptance and the Bright Side

I started a post for today talking about my recovery and giving a few highlights so far.  Something about it felt wrong and I think it’s because there are so many people in such worse health situations than me.  Leading up to major surgery, I think it’s normal to worry that the worst could happen, but you have to quickly push that out of your head.  I’ve thought a lot about Lauren Hill these past few weeks.  She’s a young girl with terminal brain cancer who has raised well over one million dollars for research and has a contagious positive attitude.  I’ve thought if she can stay so positive in her situation, then I can easily make it through my surgery and recovery.  So instead, I decided to write about a slightly different topic.  With this surgery, there are things I have to give up.  I’ve decided to put a different spin on this and instead think of each thing in a way as something I’m gaining.  Here are a few examples.

We have two beautiful children.  The valve I got this time around is mechanical and requires me to take blood thinners for the rest of my life.  Because of this, it is highly advised that I do not get pregnant.  We hadn’t decided if we wanted to try and have more kids, but I know I didn’t want my doctor to be the one to make that decision.  We struggled for three years to have Aiden and Audrey came as soon as we started trying.  I can now see that this happened for a reason.  There are so many families who wish and pray for a child and I know we are lucky to have our two precious babies.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve said I want a boy first and then a girl.  I got what I asked for, what more could I want?

Aiden & Audrey

I will always be sober.  Also because of the blood thinner medication, I can only have 1-2 alcoholic drinks at a time.  Ok, so not a huge deal but it is weird to think that I will forever be the designated driver and one glass of wine will be my limit at weddings.  As a friend said when I told her this…at least you had your fun in college and the few years after!  So true.  I haven’t had many alcoholic drinks the past 5 years with trying to get pregnant, being pregnant and pumping.  I’m used to it and it is nice.  There are MUCH worse things in the world to give up.

At a wedding, obviously a few years ago.  How are my teeth so white?
Tick Tock.  If you’re in a quiet room with me and you hear a ticking, don’t worry it’s not a bomb.  It’s my valve clicking away.  Andrew can hear it on a regular basis, but I have yet to hear it, which is fine by me!  An older couple at the hospital visited with my family while I was in surgery.  He had the same surgery as me and got the same valve.  His wife said the ticking is a comfort to her because she knows he’s still okay.  I like the way she thinks.

Besides a few other small things, I will eventually be able to go back to a restriction free life.  Pretty amazing when you think about all that happened.