Quick Body Update

And I do mean quick, O is making waking up noises so I only have a few minutes.

I’m now down about 12.5 lbs total. I get to use the next notch down in my belt and some of my old clothes are starting to fit again. Yay! Easter was awful for me. Candy, candy, sugar, cookies, more candy everywhere. I fell off the wagon for a few days and it took me a few more days to get back on that I would care to admit. This week has been great though and I’m back on track. The nice weather has helped a ton. I’m able to get outside with O in the jogger for walks if not actual runs. Pushing him and running is so much harder than running on my own, you wouldn’t think so but wow, it adds a whole new level to running. I’m getting used to it gradually and being careful not to push too hard. Best of all I can feel my body getting stronger. I feel more like my old self which is so very motivating! I’m at the end of my couch to 5K app and am considering continuing to the 10K. I really do like running longer distances. I would love to be able to do a half marathon or a 10 mile at the end of the summer. I really just need to sign up so I have that extra motivation to keep working at it.

Speaking of motivation, I have an app that I use to keep me working out consistantly called GymPact. It adds a money aspect for incentive. At the beginning of the week you say you are going to workout 4 times. For each missed workout you also decide how much you are going to risk. So if you miss a workout, you pay the app  money. How’s that for keeping your word? But, if you meet your goal, you are the one that gets paid-they divide up the money that people had to pay in to the people who met their pact. Pretty cool right? I’ve made decent money with this app to pay for fun stuff-like my crafting habit. The more you workout each week, the more money you earn. I workout at least 4 times a week and get anywhere from $0.80 to $1.10. Doesn’t seem like much but it adds up. You can do workouts anywhere with the motion sensor on your phone tracking your movement, go for a bike ride or run outside using a partner app like RunKeeper, walk 10,000 steps a day (tracked right with your phone or something like a FitBit), or check in at the gym. You need to be active for at least 30 minutes and if you are walking go at least more than 1 mile. It’s been a great app to keep me going-I don’t want to pay money for something I should be doing anyway. (This is not an advertisement for GymPact. This is my personal experience and I did not receive any incentive to share my experience.)

One other thing I’ve noticed that makes the difference between a good day and a bad day is tracking my food intake. I still suffer from severe baby brain where I can’t remember what I did 5 minutes ago so writing down what I eat is key. My eating plan tracks servings instead of calories which I appreciate. I’ve used apps that just made me feel awful for having that super high calorie breakfast that I didn’t realize was so high calorie and then I don’t want to eat the rest of the day because I don’t want to go over my calorie goal for the day. For me, it’s not healthy and doesn’t make me think about my choices. This works best for me and I’m seeing results.

Last tip I have since O continues to sleep and I actually have more than a few minutes is to make sure to either take some measurements or try on some clothes that you want to fit into. I have a dress I need to wear soon. When I started this weight loss stuff, I couldn’t zip it, now I can. That feeling when the zipper hit the top was amazing! Having that extra measurement is additional reinforcement when maybe the number on the scale isn’t decreasing as quickly as you’d like.

Keep up the great work everyone! I’d love to hear how you are doing or what tips and tricks you have to keep on keeping on!

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Living Vicariously through Essential Oils

I just discovered the Starz series Outlander. It’s about a women, Claire, who inadvertently travels back in time from 1945 to 1743 in Scotland. She’s a nurse who served in WWII and it becomes obvious that she has some skill and knowledge in the area of healing. Based on a book series by Daina Gabaldon, the plot and story line are intriguing and I’m a sucker for the really wonderful accents the show is full of. Even more interesting for me is that being set in 1743, her medicines and cures are dried plants and essential oils, you  know, all that natural sort of stuff that is so popular right now.

Did I mention I was a sucker? I am, but I’m an educated one so I did my homework, took the plunge and bought an intro kit to essential oils. I’ve been wanting to for a while but couldn’t come up with a better reason besides I wanted to be like Claire from Outlander. (Side note: I had several dreams before I got married that I invited the characters from Grey’s Anatomy to my wedding. This proves my attachment issues with TV shows) That was until recently when a friend posted about how she used an essential oil to stop the bleeding when her daughter fell and bit through her lip. I looked up the oil and it’s nicknamed liquid stitches. This sounded like something I should probably have on hand sooner rather than later with an active boy learning how to walk in the house. The amount of near misses we’ve had are astounding. Additionally, not long after I came across that post, O came down with a pretty bad cold. It wasn’t that bad at first, just a runny nose, but it quickly progressed into something bigger, thick green mucas and you could just tell his was really uncomfortable. I broke down and bought a battery operated nasal aspirator (which turned out to be amazing and every new mom friend from here on out will get one), and some other OTC cold medicine and chest rub for babies. I brought it all home and had my husband read the directions and low and behold the ingredients in the chest rub and medicine were holistic, mostly essential oil based. Well I could do that! I see those Pinterst posts all the time about homemade vapor rub and tea and whatever. I could have been helping my son fight this cold days ago! It never would have gotten this bad! I felt awful.

Things clicked into place after that. I decided to try my hand at bath bombs-seriously so easy!-and got to talking more about the uses of essential oils with the friend who had posted about her daughter and the liquid stitches. She invited me over to make some stuff that very night with another one of her friends. I got to pick their brains, make some things, take them home and test them out. It was a great introduction, a way to really see the versatility of oils and get a glimpse of what it would take to transition to a home with less, if not any, chemicals. She gave me some oils to help with O’s teething and sleeping issues. I got ideas to help with my husband snoring. I was ready after that night to get started.

My kit came at the perfect time. A virus had made it’s way around our house to me. I was a congested, snotty mess with a sore throat, cough and sinus headache. All roads ahead led to a sinus infection if past experience was anything to judge by. I was contemplating fibbing to the doctor that yes it had been the required 10-14 days of suffering to be able to get an antibiotic (I totally know this is wrong-I said I was just contemplating it!). My oils arrived and I found a sinus rub and a sinus/sore throat/coughing tea on Pinterest. The tea was so simple. One drop each of three different oils in hot water with honey to taste.  Wow! The results were instant. I could breath. My throat didn’t hurt and I stopped coughing. WOW! I used the rub that night and slept decently for the first time in several days. A few days later my ears were still bothering me. My thought process was along the lines of “awesome, I avoided a sinus infection to get an ear infection.” But I turned to my oils once more and used this recipe for ear infections. The next morning the pressure was gone. I’ve treated the area with the mixture repeatedly when I feel any sort of pressure but it really hasn’t returned in full force.

I’m finding the uses are endless. I saw pictures in one of the oily groups I’m a part of how one mom got permanent marker out of her couch with essential oils, not some fancy chemical ridden stain remover, basically lemon oil and water. Amazing right? See her before and after pictures below.

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Photos courtesy of N. L.

I did my own test with some old stains on our carpet, I think it was coffee or maybe chocolate? A water and vinegar mixture with some lemon oil and like magic the stains are gone. I had to let it sit for a bit and repeat the process a few times but it wasn’t anything that I wouldn’t have had to do with another carpet cleaner. And the lemon smells so good! Additionally, O is in the I-need-to-help-with-everything phase and I wasn’t worried about him getting near this cleaner. Bonus for both of us!

I have so many things I want to try! My Pinterest board for essential oils is quickly becoming massive. On my list are sunscreen, bug spray, diaper rash cream, shampoo, face moisturizer, poo spray (you spray it before you go number 2 and its not supposed to smell!), and a basic household cleaner just to name a few.

If you would like to know more about getting started with essential oils, please let me know. I will be the first to admit I’m new and may not have many answers, but I can get them and then I’ll learn in the process too!

Have you seen Outlander? Do you use essential oils? What for? What do you like best about them? Are there any I just have to have?

What else do you do with lemons?

Yesterday my grandma had a cancerous lump removed from her breast. This is the second time she’s had breast cancer and she’s had at least one more type of cancer that was removed/treated successfully and possibly another on top of that. Needless to say, she is no stranger to these types of procedures and diagnoses. Thankfully everything went better than expected. The lump was removed and from what I understand, it had not spread to her lymph nodes so they didn’t need to removed any of them. She even went home yesterday afternoon and felt well enough that she didn’t need anyone to spend the night with her. A visit on Friday will determine any sort of radiation or follow up treatment.

Every time we get the news that she has cancer it’s a bit of shock at first. My grandma is a very active woman and besides these big diagnoses, she’s very healthy. She swims a few times a week. She quilts and crochets and is the main caregiver for my grandpa who is mostly home bound and diabetic. She shouldn’t be getting cancer (for that matter, no one should).

Even more is the way she delivers the news. It’s relayed in an offhand way that gives the distinct impression that this is no big deal. Just another day with another surgery to remove some not so serious lump from her body. I don’t need to go into the statistics of breast cancer. I don’t need to remind anyone that some aren’t as lucky as my grandma to have it diagnosed at a time where a lumpectomy and maybe some radiation are all that is needed for treatment. I do want to tell this to my grandma to make her take this seriously. She isn’t getting any younger and come on! It’s surgery!  Surgery is serious! However, this is the third, if not fourth, time she’s gone through this. Each of the previous bouts have obviously turned out fine, so to her it might just be another lump that needs to be cut out. Or maybe there is another reason…

This time around is a little different for me too. I’m a mom now and in order for my grandma to be a grandma she had to be a mom first. And I get it. I get why she is so calm and collected about it. I get why it’s just another day. I get why she waits until she absolutely has to tell her kids (and grandkids) bad news. As a mom, you do what needs to be done to protect your children from pain, injury, and harm of any kind. You say, and more importantly, believe, that things will work out for the best. They have to. When life gives you lemons, what else is there to do but make lemonade? Or lemon bars…or lemon meringue pie…you just make the best of it.

I feel I’ve always been sensitive to how my actions affected others, but since becoming a parent it’s transformed into a super power. And I can’t imagine, however old my little boy gets, thinking of him as anything other than my little boy. The one I fed and changed and cared for when he couldn’t care for himself. I know I’m going to always want to shield him from negativity, whatever that might be. Additionally, I now understand that just because my grandma brushed this off like it’s no big deal, doesn’t mean that it really was. She was probably scared and worried exactly like we all were. But as the mom, you think you have to be the strong one for everyone else. Weakness is the single most difficult thing for me to admit and I will go to great lengths before I do. When I talked to my grandma today on the phone, I wanted to go visit, but I’m getting over a cold and thought staying away would be better, she was nothing but positive. She felt good, much better than expected and was happy to be able to go about her life with this little lump behind her. I was reassured and didn’t feel as bad for not going to visit and help her with what she needed. After I hung up, I was taken aback. I do this, I do this all the time telling people that things are good when maybe they aren’t. Brushing off  help when I know it would inconvenience that person to help me. I had just been schooled by the master. After all she has a few more years doing the mom thing than I do.

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Grandma and I a few years ago when I visited her in Texas. We went across the border and got margaritas! 

Today I’m just really thankful for my grandma and her good outcome. I’m thankful she is there for me to call and visit. I hate that I’m reminded by a stupid cancerous lump that I need to make time to visit her and grandpa more. Life is precious and shouldn’t be taken for granted as it is much too easily. So take a moment to hug the ones you love, find a minute to pick up the phone to make some plans for a visit or send a text to let them know you are thinking about them, you won’t be sorry.

Claiming by body back

When I was pregnant, I craved candy, fruity candy like Starbursts so that’s what I ate a lot of. There really was no self control available. I gained about 35-40 lbs from a starting point that was higher than I wanted it to be. My plan was to breastfeed my new baby and was confident that the extra 500 calories a day would be all the extra help I needed to shed the baby weight. I had it in my head 9 months on, 9 months off, no problem. And some of that weight was the baby and all that extra stuff that comes with them right? True, but not 40 lbs worth. When things were all said and done, I was about 20 lbs. over my pre-pregnancy weight. Yikes!

I went back to work and fell into a maintain rut. I wasn’t gaining weight but it wasn’t coming off either. I ate when I was hungry, did my best to eat well, walked when I could, but with sleep deprivation and the stresses of a newborn, taking care of me wasn’t a priority.  At one point I decided I wasn’t going to worry about it until after I was done breastfeeding. I breastfed O until he was about 11 1/2 months old, roughly the middle of January this year. I made a late New Year’s resolution that I wanted to spend the next year claiming by body back after it had been hijacked by my baby.

I’m getting back on track and basically starting at zero. I’m motivated and ready to commit to something. I chose an eating plan, started the couch to 5k program, found some Pilates videos I liked on YouTube and so far I’m down about 8.5 lbs. My mental health has improved as well. I’m getting out of the house, I’m making plans to be with other people, I’m talking to my husband more, I’m more engaged with my son, in general I’m just more animated instead of feeling like I’m experiencing life from inside a bubble.

To achieve results, I’m not doing anything fancy, no shakes or pills or meals out of a box. I’m eating less food that is higher quality and I’m working out 4-5 times a week for at least 30 minutes each. It sounds simple, but making good choices and finding time is a struggle, I know it is for everyone. I made a decision to make this is a priority, I included my husband in on it so he could support and encourage me. Even still, it isn’t always easy and I have to plan a little. I maximize nap times, only focusing on things that are difficult/impossible to do with a one year old on my hip-like running on a treadmill. I get creative with my time, working out late at night after work when O is already asleep. I include O when I can. He ‘helps’ me cook and we talk about what I’m doing or I push him in the jogger when we go running. One way or another it works and my juggling act is worth it.

My planning extends to eating. I’m following the Mayo Clinic Diet.  Learn more about it here or buy the book here to get started. You count servings not calories using the food pyramid that is adjusted to your weight and goals. Big thing for me was to cut out sugar completely. It was really really hard to do but the first week I lost 4 lbs and after that I was on board. I’ve been doing it for about 3 weeks and continue to decrease each week.  My clothes have already started to fit a little better. I’m not perfect but I keep to the plan as much as I can.

But eating is only half the battle, weight loss success for me also relies on increased movement. I really love Pilates. You don’t need any equipment really and it’s effective. I can feel the next day that I worked out. And there are a ton of free videos on YouTube to pick from. Bonus is you can do them anywhere. I’ve been able to do a Pilates video while O plays in our living room.  He drives his cars on my head while I’m doing it, but I’m doing it.  Additionally, I’ve been following a Couch to 5k app that I got free in the app store. There are a bunch out there but they are all very similar. It lays out an easy to follow plan that gradually increases your running time. It really does start from the beginning too. That first week was more walking than running and just for a minute or 90 seconds at a time. It doesn’t tell you how fast to run, you just have to run. I’m finishing up week 5 right now and I ran 20 minutes straight without walking and felt great. I also got a neat baby bike seat for O that I’m super excited to get installed and use. He loves riding in his stroller so I’m hoping he will also love this.

Slowly but surely I will take back my body. I know it’s not going to be the same and I’m okay with that. I just want to feel more at home in it. I’ll post again with my progress. I’m only just getting started.

Keys to Planning a Great Party

My youngest sister is getting married in June. I have the great privilege of being her matron of honor along with another one of her dear friends. I take this role seriously and have been planning her bachelorette party pretty much since she told me I was to be her MOH, pinning ideas on Pinterest, asking endless questions about her preferences determined to make this party one of the best she’s ever been to. Bonus for me is that I really like to plan events. I love how all the details come together in the end for one awesome time. Here are my tips to planning a great party.

Tip One: Pick a theme but don’t go overboard

A theme allows you to keep your party on track, give you a color scheme to work with and ideas for gifts and games. Its easy to go overboard, and for me it just ends up being a waste of money. I really loved the Kiss the Miss Goodbye theme that was all over Pinterest. I’ve got plans for a super cute picture frame to commemorate the evening. I asked everyone to wear black, like we are mourning sending her off into matrimony, with pink accessories adding a hint of fun and nod to her wedding colors, and of course their favorite lip stick. I’ve got fun little lip stickers to use however we please.

Tip Two: Games are not competitions-pick ones that even the playing field

Games are meant to be fun, nothing too crazy that make people uncomfortable but just interesting enough to help break the ice between everyone helping them to form a bond that will span from this party through the wedding. The game I’m most looking forward to is modified from a Christmas drawing on your head game I found online. Our drawing will be more adult themed. Points are awarded for how well the drawing turns out. I picked this one in particular because it has the potential to turn out a little ridiculous and no one is good at drawing on their head. The prizes show my craftiness. I made cute little makeup bags and stuffed them will spa stuff. Keep those simple as well, people aren’t at your party for the prizes.

Tip Three: Listen to your guest of honor

I emailed my sister pretty early on to determine just what she was looking for in a party. I stuck to her wished and did my best to fulfill her suggestions. It took a considerable amount of time reviewing crowns to find one that met the only requirement from my sister, something super sweet. I was under specific instructions to keep it classy, so nothing crazy in her veil or weird necklaces. Because I’m such a crafty person, I ended up making her veil. How perfect to have some one-of-kind things for my one-of-kind sister. She is going to be the definition of classy bride-to-be when we go out!

Tip Four: Have a loose schedule and be flexible

We have firm dinner reservations, that is the only thing we must do all night at a specific time, eat dinner. Clearly a pretty important thing to commit to. Otherwise, keep the schedule loose. Paying games and eating snacks once everyone arrives at the hotel, go to dinner, then more drinking and dancing after that. The group will go where we like. If one place seems great, we’ll stay awhile, it if turns out to be a dud, we’ll move on.

Tip Five: Keep Calm and Plan Ahead

What allows me to be calm during events is to plan, plan, plan and then plan some more. Other people don’t work this way and that’s okay for them, but not me. I have to work out nearly every scenario that could occur and have a plan in mind. I make list after list. I’ve had a bag packed for two weeks that I’ve been adding to as I think of things I need to bring. I’m considering asking them to use the buddy system so no one gets left behind. I’m a firm believer in plan for the worst and hope for the best and it has served me well more than once.

There you have it, my tips for planning a great party that is sure to be memorable and enjoyable. I will be a little stressed tomorrow but not nearly as stressed as I could be. Everything is going to be great and I’ll go down in history as the best matron of honor my sister could ever have.

Oh did I mention I got us a selfie stick for the night? I found one for around $8 which seemed worth it, check it out here. My sister is so very excited for this so even if everything else falls apart, she will have some cute pictures of herself.

What is the most memorable party you’ve been to? What made it memorable?

Teething Nightmares, at least they would be nightmares if I slept

My little one has never really consistently slept through the night. As a very small guy he would get up every few hours to eat but then went right back to sleep. After hearing some horror stories from other moms I took this and was grateful. But then I’d hear stories of babies who slept 6-8 hours chunks and I was envious, deeply envious. One friend posted about a book that they read and after following this guide, their child was sleeping 12 hours a night. 12 hours straight! With no waking! I had to have this book, so I took a few days to read it and upon finishing cried and cried and cried all while snuggled by new baby which this book pretty much said I was messing up because I was holding too much and that’s why he wasn’t sleeping well. I’ll note this was only a few weeks after O was born, hormones were not stable, at all, I was sleep deprived and still healing from an intense labor. In hindsight, I’m well aware I was not in any sort of appropriate mindset to handle something like this, but the damage was done and even now I’m still pretty sensitive about sleep.

About a year later, we are still struggling with sleep, but only staying asleep. He is fantastic at falling asleep on his own. For naps, I can put him in his room when he shows some tired signs, close the door and he’s out within 20 minutes or less most days. At night, we have a bed time routine we follow, and he falls asleep quickly at nearly the same time every night. But without fail, he wakes at least once if not few time each night and I can count on one hand the amount of times he has slept through the night. There is always something. When he was tiny, it was a growth spurt. As he got bigger, it was gas or some other tummy troubles associated with being on a more solid diet. Right now I’m blaming it on teething. He just cut one of the eye teeth, which I’ve been told are particularly awful. I can see the telltale white gums on two other canines in addition to 2 other molars that haven’t fully broke through. So I get it, he’s really uncomfortable and in pain.

What I don’t understand is how my small boy who is charming, curious, and active during the day, turns into a raging ball of terrible horribleness at night who will seemingly do everything in his power not to fall asleep. Do his teeth only grow at night? Rationally, I know he’s uncomfortable, which wakes him up and keeps him awake, which makes him overtired, which makes it even harder for him to fall back asleep. However, in the middle of the night when I’m counting down the hours until I have to get up the next day, dreading having to function on next to no sleep, all I can do is hunker down and get through it. It becomes a desperate battle of wills to see who will break first and I’ll be honest, it isn’t always the kid.

In the waking hours of the next day, when my happy boy is back, I know that this too will pass. The teeth will come in. He will sleep soundly at some point. As he raises his arms up to me and babbles about his plans for the day, I am reminded of the wee hours of the morning, when he finally succumbed to sleep. It was the best thing to have him snuggle on my lap, limp bodied, chubby little hand resting against my cheek, and the darling little smile that came across his finally peaceful face was the perfect ending to a challenging night. Oh yeah, that’s why I am happy to do this. That’s why I’ll go on with my day only a little worse for the wear. I’d do most anything for that dimpled smile, that stolen moment that I never would have gotten or even noticed had I not been put through the wringer to get there. Yes, I can do this.

What motivates you to get out of bed and tackle another day?

So I’m Starting a Blog

I’m at point and position in my life where I need an outlet and purpose for some free time. As a newer mom, my little one is just one year old, you might wonder how I have free time and some days I would agree with you that I don’t. But my introvert tendencies nag at me to take some alone time to recharge in order to be a functioning person. I recently moved with my family away from the place I had called home for the past 10 years leaving friends and a familiar lifestyle. In addition, I have serious mom guilt where it’s sometimes, almost always, difficult to spend time away from my kiddo if it’s for personal reasons. I’m okay going to work but going out with friends or even just taking an hour to go get my hair cut happens infrequently and only when I can’t put it off any longer. This is because I worry people will think that I’m one of those moms that leave their kid all the time.

I know, I shouldn’t worry about what other people think. It’s just that being a mom has been the only thing in my life that I’ve been certain of so it is extremely important to me that I do it well. In addition, it’s a strong personal identifier and I feel I lack those. My current job doesn’t include a clear cut title that I list off when people ask about me. I quilt but I don’t just make quilts so the label is limiting to me. I used to be a runner, I want to be again very badly but it’s one more thing I can’t say that I am without it feeling like a bit of a lie. The reasons and excuses continue with other labels but it remains that since becoming a mom, I feel like it’s my beginning, most of my middle and my end.

So here I am, striving to be more than a mom and most importantly, being okay with it. I’m hoping this blog can help me to do that. Don’t get me wrong, I love my little one and I truly love being a mom. But by sharing my other experiences and talents, I think it will help me to embrace an identity outside ‘mom.’

Thanks for reading! I hope to have another post soon.