Sun Spots

At the end of each day, I find just as many puppy nose prints as baby hand prints to wipe off this window.

Will and Lola. My sweet sweet baby boy and my big brown baby. Time for an update on their growing relationship? I think so. Will likes to climb over and under Lola, and Lola loves to chew her toys near and sometimes on Will. And both of them just let the other do it. Jason and I always joke that this could be a problem when Will interacts with other children his age. (Most babies I know don't like to be climbed on.) They both understand that their toys are separate and off-limits, but I'm pretty sure neither of them understands why that is the case (even though I explain why everyday they both have a ways to go in language acquisition). Often one will bring a toy to the other, set it down, and go off to play with another toy, which is incredibly sweet but also means I am constantly reminding Will that jagged plastic bones and soaking wet stuffed animal parts are "not for baby." Could I actually be teaching him not to share his toys? Instead of dwelling on that thought, I'll move on to chronicling more updates on my sweet sweet baby.

Will has been standing on his own for a few weeks now, and each day it seems like he can last longer and longer on those two squatting legs. Fifteen seconds, a minute, a lifetime. I know us mamas have a skewed perception of time, so I won't pretend to give you an accurate number. He also has been kind of taking a step or two, but really he is just throwing himself headfirst at me from a standing position and sometimes his feet move a bit. If I hold his hands to help him walk, he gets angry that I keep moving farther and farther away with each of his steps closer and closer to me. The look on his face--a cross between "what is the point of all this" and "where are you going!--as I move away is priceless. I have to try really hard not to laugh.

But if Will really wants to get somewhere (usually to me) fast, he'll drop down on all fours and crawl like the wind. I'm willing to bet he is the fastest crawler in the Midwest. To all who will listen, I keep bringing up the idea of baby racing. Babies on one end, mamas on the other, pull up a barrier, and they're off! I could see it as a reality TV show on Fox. And that, my friends, is where I will end this...

Also, Lola's other sun spot, which is covered in hair and another thing that Will has to be reminded is "not for baby" every day.

More than Four!

Tomorrow will mark four weeks since I started making changes to live a healthier lifestyle. My goal was (and still is) to lose one pound a week for 20 weeks and then maintain that weight/lifestyle. So far, I have been relatively successful. In fact, I have lost more than four pounds in four weeks. (Yay!)

Starting Weight: 168 lbs
Current Weight: 163.8 lbs

I have been sticking with my changes about five out of seven day of the week.  Meaning, about five (usually six!) days a week, I can fit a T25 workout and shower in during Will's first nap, and about five days a week, I eat (and drink) healthy enough that I consume about 1200-1300 calories (by eating mostly lean proteins and vegetables). I feel great too, and when I look at my body in the mirror, I can tell that I have been gaining muscle and losing fat. But there have also been some downs in addition to the ups over these last few weeks. Like...

The Downs:
-Even though it's only 25 minutes, for the first week or so of completing T25, I was so sore that I had to take ibuprofen and reconsider living in a house with three staircases.
-I was really hungry in the afternoons. Even though I was eating three meals a day plus an afternoon snack, I felt like I was starving. I kept hearing the line from The Devil Wears Prada in my head when Emily says, "I'm on this new diet. Well, I don't eat anything and when I feel like I'm about to faint I eat a cube of cheese. I'm just one stomach flu away from my goal weight." Instead of a cube of cheese, I ate a grape and drank a cup of warm tea, which actually works really well for me.
-I attended two birthday parties, a house-warming party, and a baby shower in the last two weeks. All of them had fruit and veggie trays, but there was also Chick-fil-A and Papa John's and cake and high calorie beverages, and I just decided, what the heck, it's a celebration, and ate Chick-fil-A and Papa Johns and cake and high calorie beverages in addition to the fruit and veggies.

The Ups:
-After two weeks of working out almost every day, I went from feeling I-can't-walk-up-the-stairs-unless-I-take-ibuprofen sore to just oh-I-can-feel-which-muscles-I-worked-out-yesterday-sore.
-After two-and-a-half weeks of what felt like starving myself, my stomach/mind has adjusted to my new routine, and I am hardly ever hungry.
-I don't really have to track every single thing I eat every day anymore on the app because there isn't a ton of variety and I can do it in my head.
-Our grocery bill has gone down by about $40 a week.
-I decided on a reward system. When I reach 158 lbs, I'm going to get myself new running shoes. And when I reach 148, I'm going to make a trip to the outlets for a new (smaller) spring wardrobe.

So... there you have it. I'm feeling really comfortable in my new, healthier routine, but it's a relief to know I can cheat or mess up (or attend parties) every once in a while and still reach my goals.

Also, don't worry. I made sure to account in my daily calorie goals for one or two pieces of chocolate a day.

A Perfect Way to Start the Week

After watching Pink's performance at The Grammys last night, I declared to Jason that I was pretty sure if we practiced, we could perfect this move. And Jason, being the more thoughtful and rational one in the relationship, declared that of course we could... AND! We could debut it at the wedding we are going to in May. Perfect!

Happy Monday! I hope your week is full of all types of spectacle.

Also, we would be happy to show up and perform our moves at your event for the low low price of a reliable babysitter.

Photo courtesy of CBS via E!

I'll give you 100.

I'm not the type of person who finishes every book (or thing) I start. In fact, there have been some rather popular books that I decided just weren't for me. For example, I thought Gone Girl was pretty much torture to read. I didn't like the characters or the writing or the plot, so no matter how many people told me it was great, I stopped reading that. And there was a very graphic scene at the beginning of The Kite Runner that helped me decide I never need to finish that book.  But I have started, stopped, restarted, stopped, restarted, and finally finished books that I have loved, most notably The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which I had to start four or five times over the span of a few years before I finally finished it and started recommending to everyone because I ended up loving it that much. So long ago, I decided to give myself a cut-off point: if after 100 pages, I'm still bored, hating it, or horrified, I quit. Just recently, I quit reading The Dinner. I should have know not to start it with the comparisons to Gone Girl, but it came recommended by my mom. So I tried...but I really didn't like the characters or the writing or the plot.  I found that I would rather play Plants vs. Zombies on my phone for hours than open up the book again, and that isn't normally my MO, so after giving it 112 pages, I quit, and started reading The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (recommended by NPR, my friend Emily ((who finished The Kite Runner)), and A Beautiful Mess), which is very interesting so far and has me excited to open up iBooks every night. 

Also, I keep hearing how amazing The Goldfinch is.  Has anyone started (and finished all 784 pages of) that one yet? 

*Another Addendum: Even though I didn't like her book recommendation this time, I still trust my mom's opinion more than NPR, Emily, and A Beautiful Mess combined. 

My New Go-To Meal

Two words. Stir Fry.

The recipe is simple. I take whatever veggies are in my fridge (which is a lot these days), chop them up, add a protein, a little bit of sauce, and I have myself a seriously healthy and filling meal...with no carbs...for the next three days. Last night, I took all the leftover veggies from Jason's soiree with the Vitamix plus the veggies I specifically bought for stir fry this week and ended up with the spectacular (and low calorie) meal you see above.

Specifically, this mix included red, yellow, and green peppers, mushrooms, red cabbage, broccoli slaw (Thanks for that tip, Mom!), and matchstick carrots. I like to start with about two teaspoons of sesame oil and add some low sodium soy sauce while I'm frying up my veggies.  At the very end, I added in some raw shrimp and teriyaki sauce and got the amazing dinner you see above. (If you use chicken or beef, you can cook it first and remove it from the wok, cook the veggies, and then add the meat back in with the sauce.)

Also, Will eats just about anything that has been stir-fried. Last week, it was chicken, broccoli, snap peas, and those little corn thingies, and this week, it was shrimp and all of that goodness above. Don't worry. I also give him a good dose of carbs.

A Perfect Way to Start the Week

A perfect way to start the week is with an extra day off for the husband so that he can make things like mango habenero salsa and all the other fixings for fish tacos from scratch. Too bad we finished all the fish tacos yesterday!  The good news is he also made red pepper habenero hummus.  He had some fun with the Vitamix, and I will be having some fun dipping my veggies all week long.

Also, Jason bought fresh Swai for the fish part of our fish tacos. Have you every heard of it? I must say that is the best fish I have ever tasted, buttery and sweet. (He marinated it in fresh garlic, lime, and cilantro and cooked it on a grill pan.) We eat some type of seafood pretty much every other day, and after doing a little research (It's cheap and good for you!), I've decided to make swai a regular part of our menu. Bonus: Will ate it right up too. 

Happy Mon...err Tuesday! I hope your week is fresh and yummy!

Happy Birthday Piper Mae!

Protector of Momos, proclaimer of "O," my Mia Farrow girl. You have always been perfect since the day you were born. Happy Birthday, perfect Piper! I love you with my life.

Weighing In

Last week, I mentioned that I was going to make some changes, and I have made them. But before I get to the changes, I'd like to address something else I wrote that is only kind of true. I wrote, "I have not lost all the baby weight and am technically overweight and really not living a healthy lifestyle."

The not-so-true part is that I did lose most of the baby weight. When I got pregnant in June 2012, I weighed 155. On the day I went in for my induction, April 1, 2013, I weighed 187. And sometime in September of 2013, I remember being delighted to see 158 lbs when I stepped on the scale. I had lost all but three pounds of the weight I had gained during pregnancy pretty easily. I was going for one to three mile walks pretty much every day and eating somewhat healthfully and wearing all of my pre-pregnancy clothes. I wanted to lose those last three pounds plus a little bit more, so Jason and I purchased T25 and completed three weeks of it before we quit for some reason that I don't remember. But I was still pretty happy with the way I looked and felt. And then something happened. Winter? Football parties? Thanksgiving? Christmas? That's when we get to the true part of my statement.

The true part is that I am technically overweight, and I was not living a healthy lifestyle. On January 2, 2014 (exactly nine months after delivering Will), when I weighed myself, I weighed 168. I had gained back ten pounds! I was barely eating two meals a day and instead, snacking throughout the day. And I had developed some pretty horrible drinking habits. Every afternoon, I'd drink a Dr. Pepper Ten. Every evening, I'd treat myself to a glass of wine or bottle of beer. And every night, after I brushed my teeth, I'd wonder why I was so thirsty and get a big glass of water. I thought I was pretty active throughout the day just taking care of Will, but I wasn't walking or working out at all. And the only thing I really felt comfortable wearing were button-up tops that were blousy enough to hide my once again growing belly. 

So on January 2nd (because on January 1st we had lots of leftover party food and drink), I started making those changes.  I made one each day until my daily routine/lifestyle seemed healthy yet doable, and it only ended up being six fairly simple changes.

1. Stop drinking a Dr. Pepper Ten every day. (Water!)
2. Drink green tea once a day.
3. Stop having a cocktail every night. (Water!)
4. Complete T25 workout every morning.
5. Track calories on MyPlate app. 
6. Eat when and what Will eats: 6:30 (breakfast), 10:30 (lunch), 2:00 (snack), and 5:30 (dinner)

So far, I am 12 days in, and I've kept it up with only a few snafus (like the day I didn't work out and my mom gave me a bag of homemade cookies), and I have been seeing results. This morning, I stepped on the scale and saw 165.6! I'm moving in the right direction. My goal weight is 148 by the beginning of June. That's approximately one pound a week.  I know I can do it because I am doing it now, and I have done it in the past. I am using that picture up there from the summer of 2009 as my motivation, but I am also planning on taking more full body pictures (not in a swimsuit, though) of Will, Jason, and me  together throughout this process because I know one day I'll be happy to have them even if I don't love the way I look at the time. So stayed tuned...

Also, I am trying to figure out some easy workout type thing I can do in the afternoon while playing with Will in his playroom. I started the Plank Challenge and the Push-Up Challenge, but I want to try to find a good short yoga workout too...because I'm usually already wearing yoga pants. Let me know if you have any suggestions or any other easy changes that have worked for you.

A Perfect Way to Start the Week

If you watched the Golden Globes last night, you know that, apparently, no one was expecting to win. If I had some serious time and video editing skills, I would put together a montage for you of almost every winner telling us how unexpected the win was in order to illustrate my point, but alas, you will just have to trust me and use your imagination.

And I mean, COME. ON. Really. None of you expected you might win. Even though you were all nominated, and it was between you and just four other people. If they suddenly announced my name and came to my door with a camera crew so that I could accept the award remotely, that might be unexpected, but I'm willing to bet I could give a better speech than most of the winners last night. Uggh. --Rhetoric teacher rant done--

One bright spot among the unexpected winners was Mr. Matthew McConaughey. Alright, alright, alright, alright.

A little dancing, a great first line, a mom anecdote. Otherwise known as the recipe for a successful acceptance speech. All you Oscar nominees. Get it together! I don't think it's cute or endearing or genuine when you get up there and talk about how unexpected this is and how nervous you are. If you are nominated, have some high expectations for yourself and practice a speech!

Happy Monday! I hope your week is filled with high expectations.

Also, another recipe for acceptance speech success includes thanking your significant other, thanking God, a little dance move, and telling everyone in the audience that your love them over and over a la Cuba Gooding Jr.

Christmas Card Regret

2013 was the first year I have ever sent out a Christmas card.  I've always loved getting them from people--the good ole-fashioned regular card, the picture cards, and my most favorites, the ones that include a letter that shares all the goings on in each family. My most most favorite one of all time was the one my Great Aunt Geraldine sent us in 2012 with an epic story about their transgender cat. Just try to beat that!

Anyway, I was really proud of the card I sent out this year. I found what I felt was a professional quality picture of William being his cutest self on my iPhone, uploaded it to Minted, got the cards within a week, and sent them out way before Christmas. Christmas card victory! Right? No. My mother-in-law set me straight, as mothers-in-law are wont to do.  She told me that she thought the picture of Will was cute and all but wanted to know why didn't I include a picture of all three (or four because of course we count Lola) of us. And the truth is, I wanted my card to be beautiful, and I didn't really have any pictures of the four of us that I thought would make a beautiful card. But I love my mother-in-law, and I wanted to make her happy, so on Christmas Eve, I picked out three fancy outfits for Jason, William, and me, and after church, we posed in front of the tree for a family Christmas picture that I could print out for my mother-in-law. But then... I decided that instead of ever printing that picture out, I would never show that picture to anyone because uggh I was just not happy with my appearance. And that is when I realized that I needed to make some changes. I could just get over my body consciousness and embrace my appearance just the way I am, but truthfully, I have not lost all the baby weight and am technically overweight and really not living a healthy lifestyle.

So. Prepare yourself. It might be cliche, but I have made the same weight loss resolution that many people make at this time of year. And, I am going to rock it... and I am going to write about it...which is why you see that family photo up there that I had previously decided to never show anyone. That's my before pic. Here's to a rocking after!

Also, we did not steal or adopt William. He looks like my dad. (I'll make sure to put that on the Christmas card with all four of us so that no one is confused.)


On New Year's Eve, with a house full of loved ones enjoying food and drink, while my mom and I were getting ready to give William a bath, put him to bed, and then enjoy some more food, drink, and games before celebrating the New Year with the East coast at 11:00 pm and then going to bed (because that's how we roll now), I realized that we were out of propane.  I realized we were out of propane when I placed my naked baby in a bath of cold water. (Parent of the Year!) For you city folk out there, no propane means, no heat, no hot water, no oven or stove, and no dryer. So instead of food, drink, games, and an early celebration, Jason got on the phone with the propane company, and I started packing up supplies so that we could all go sleep at my parent's house. Oh! And I had to kick all of my loved ones out. I was beyond frustrated, but you know what, our tank was completely filled that night. (I don't even want to know what an entire tank of propane plus the emergency fill fee costs. Jason, please don't tell me.) And on Sunday, just five days later, when twelve inches of snow and Arctic weather came, and no propane truck would have been able to make it to us and we probably wouldn't have been able to make it the two miles to my parent's house, we had a full tank of propane and no worries that we would run out. Perfect timing!

Also, I plan on recreating the New Year's Eve baby sleep over celebration extravaganza (Maggie, Alex, and Piper had planned to spend the night but, as you now know, were sent home.) with food, drink, and games. So really, it's a win win. Maybe a Golden Globes baby sleep over celebration extravaganza or a Super Bowl baby sleep over celebration extravaganza or a Friday night where everyone just happens to be off and free baby sleep over extravaganza? Whatever night we decide on, I'll make sure Jason checks the propane the day before.

A Perfect Way to Start the Week

Happy Epiphany! Christmas is officially over, and I am officially back to blogging. Yesterday, while I was putting away all the Christmas decorations and considering (for a very brief moment) replacing them with Valentine's Day ones to fill in all the newly clutter-free (and color-free) spaces, Jason was waiting for the snow to stop so he could go shovel our driveway in anticipation of heading in to work in the morning. After over twelve hours and twelve inches of snowfall, when he finally headed out to get started, he wasn't out there more than half an hour before our neighbor came by on his four wheeler with a snowplow attachment to help out. While one neighbor was clearing our driveway, another one started plowing our street. That night, we thanked God for our home on a private road, on the top of a hill, covered in twelve inches of snow, and surrounded by such giving people.

When I wrote about my four goals before 2014, I mentioned that the TED Radio Hour on NPR is a great place to hear meaningful TED talks.  I was listening to their show all about giving yesterday, and many of the ideas resonated with me. Although the Christmas season is officially over, the season of giving can last as long as we keep it up. I highly recommend taking the time to listen to the talks for some inspiration to keep your spirit merry and bright now that all the decorations and songs are gone. You can click on the picture below to stream or download the show.
Also, if you are interested, tickets for the TEDxGatewayArch conference on January 11th at the Sheldon are still on sale.

Happy Monday! I hope your week is filled with many opportunities to give and receive.
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