Saturday, December 9, 2006

Run Forrest, Run...

Lately I've had this urge to run. I've never really been a runner. I participated in track one season in middle school and for a time when we lived in KC I had taken up with running a couple days a week as a cross training tool to mix with my aerobics teaching load and weight lifting, but for the most part I'm not really a runner. So this urge to run as of late has been strange. I've felt great physically lately having adapted to my teaching schedule at the studio, and even though I'm heavier than I'd like to be, I figured that I'd give a run a try today knowing I could stop if I didn't feel right. Normally it's my knees who scream stop first, so I was fully prepared to slow back down to a brisk walk if necessary.

After a warm-up walk, I cranked up the treadmill. To my surprise, after finding my stride, I felt great. I played with the speed a bit, challenging and resting myself when needed. 40 minutes later, I stepped off the treadmill feeling great. Physically I felt good. Mentally I felt great. I felt empowered and inspired to continue working towards my own personal wellness goals. To continue to make life style changes that promote better health not only for myself but also for my family. Additionally it was one more sign that making the choice to pursue a personal business in wellness has been the right direction for me to take professionally.

While I know my body won't be able to handle the addition of a large number of running miles on top of an already full workout/class schedule, I'm already looking forward to the next chance I have to hit the treadmill...or pavement weather permitting.

peace

Sunday, November 26, 2006

My little eater...

When Brea was born everyone was amazed at how much she resembled her older sister, looks and temperament. Over the past few months her own personality has really started to shine. Much like her sister was, she's a happy baby and she loves to giggle. On the flip side, she has a bit of a temper and wants what she wants and NOW. There are other small differences that a parent can easily pick out, but three of the biggest differences we've notices between the girls at this age:

1. Brea likes to make it known when she's around. She loves to just scream to hear herself scream. Put her in a space that echos a bit and watch out!

2. Brea is more of a dare devil. Lexi was always a careful baby. Not so careful that she wasn't willing to try new things, but the type of careful that resulted in a relatively bruise and bump free infant and toddler years. Brea on the other hand...well let's just say she doesn't see the distance from the couch to the floor as a barrier really, just more of a challenge. And what do you do if your crawling along and something or someone is in your way? Well just crawl over it/them of course. Duh!

3. She's an eater! Lexi actual ate more of a variety of items during her infant months than she does now, but there have always been certain foods she just will not let past her lips or down her throat. I have to give her credit, she's been more willing to try more "new" foods as of late (thank you preschool!), but I think she'll always be somewhat of a picky eater. Brea on the other hand will (and DOES) put just about anything in her mouth. And boy does she get excited when you put her in the high chair and head towards her with anything that might look like a food...

Her daily dose of Cheerios.

Yummy, it's carrots!

Avocado...a food and a facial.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Holiday cooking...

As I sit here typing, the pumpkin pie for tomorrow is baking away in the oven. Food has always been an important part of the holidays for my family. I find that over the past few years, the years when we've started to build family traditions for our girls, the years when I've not be able to spend the holidays with my mom and brother, food has played an even bigger part in my holiday preparations. It's a small piece of "home" that continues to be special to me even miles away from the rest of my family. When I look back through my childhood, most of the memories I have of the holidays involve food. The past couple of days I've really been thinking about that fact. And well, here's what I think it boils down to...

Growing up in your average dysfunctional American family, the holidays were a time to celebrate, but often in a general air of stress. Family dynamics were complicated. Finances were sometimes complicated. General logistics, depending on where we were living at the time, were sometimes complicated. But there was always the constant of good food. Wholesome, delicious, home made food that brought everyone together. Special foods, that for one reason or another, were only prepared during the holidays. Foods that connected to our heritage and celebrated family traditions passed down for generations. Foods that drew people to the kitchen to talk, laugh and of course taste test while preparations were being done.

As a professional in the fitness/wellness industry, I'm often conflicted with my whole food obsession at the holidays. Food was, and continues to be, a source of comfort for me and many members in my family...hence the continual struggle with maintaining a healthy weight. A struggle I don't care to pass on to my girlies. Yet, at the holidays, many of the happy memories I have of my childhood and of my connections to family and friends are closely tied to food. So what to do?

This year, I look to my yoga practice to remind myself to FIND BALANCE. After all, taking time to celebrate, be with family and throughly enjoy oneself is part of maintaining good overall wellness.

So tomorrow, I'll cook, and I'll eat, and I'll nap,and I'll enjoy time with family.

And on Friday...I'll workout!


peace

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A day to celebrate...

Yesterday marked the end of my dear hubby's daily 110 mile round trip commute to work. After almost 6.5 years of making the hour drive each morning and night, this morning he made the 5 minute drive to his new job at ASI Modulex. For the first time in our oldest daughter's life (not counting those occasional days when daddy went into work late for some reason) she was able to have breakfast with her daddy before he headed off to work. So many simple pleasures come with this change: breakfast and lunch with daddy on a regular basis; a shortened drive, less miles on the car, and much less spent monthly at the gas pump; the chance for Scott to feel more part of the community in which he lives; the ability for him to be in town for doctor's appointments, school programs, etc; the opportunity for him to spend time taking the dog for a walk in the morning and to go play some hoops over the lunch hour a couple times a week; and let's not forget, a little more sleep each day and NO MORE 4:30 am alarm clock buzzes!

A day to celebrate...a day to be thankful!

peace

Friday, November 10, 2006

Back on the wine trail...



The third stop on the Wine Trail this past Saturday was definitely my favorite, Park Farm Winery and Vineyard in Bankston. It was the most difficult to find, nestled in the Iowa countryside, but the beautiful French style Chateau (pictured above) is like an oasis in the middle of the desert. A beautiful tasting room, complete with comfy furniture and a large fireplace, leads out onto a deck from which you can look down over the vineyard and out across the valley to the hills beyond. To add to the magical ambiance, we were invited on a tour of the wine making facilities where Lucas, the winemaker, talked about how the winery and vineyard had grown over the past several years. If ambiance contributes to your desire to buy on your way through the retail store, then call me a sucker as I left happily carting 3 bottles of wine and a new CD. The wines at Park Farm are more to my taste, plenty of deep, dry reds AND surprisingly, I even purchased a bottle of white, a rare occurance for me. We will be returning to Park Farm one of these days, probably with a picnic lunch in tow, for an afternoon and a bottle or two of wine!

Leaving Park Farm and starting on our way to our final destination, Tabor Home Vineyard and Winery, in Baldwin, proved to be a bit of a challenge. Knowing we would be arriving at Tabor Home just past the advertised ending hour of the trail (5:00), we gave Tabor a call and asked if they would wait for us as we had a group of 9 willing to buy a couple cases of wine. They were happy to accommodate and were great help when we had to call back a second time asking them to help us find our way to their location after choosing "the scenic" route.

Tabor Home is the oldest, most established, and most accomplished winery on the tour...probably in all of Iowa for that matter. Their entry here will be short, not because they don't deserve equal time, just because it was the end of the day, I was exhausted, and we rushed a bit since we were already running on borrowed time. The spread at Tabor included the basic food and wine parings as the other locations, but we also got a treat...a private (because our group of 9 was the last there) barrel tasting. The two wines we sampled were both dark reds, much to my liking, and will be great additions to Tabors already tasty offerings. I of course was able to find one bottle (I could have found a couple, but I was already going over my self imposed 4 bottle limit) to bring home with me.

After loading the last of the group back in the van, we headed back to CR where part of the group would spend the night, departing on day 2 of the Wine Trail the next morning, while the rest of us would come home to Grinnell. The drive back to CR was fun even though we were all starting to wind down. We had lots of laughs from the day to carry us to the end. We returned to our initial meeting location, sorted out our wines, and went our separate ways. A day well spent!

As promised, a final listing of my purchases:
Winneshiek Wildberry Winery's American Canoe Creek Chambourcin - an off-dry red
Park Farm Winery's Mississippi Red - a red table wine
Park Farm Winery's Iowa Fume LaCrosse - a dry white
Park Farm Winery's Vintner's Reserve American Marechal Foch (2005) - a dry red
Tabor Home Winery's Iowa St. Croix - a dry red
And let's not forget, that ambiance CD from Park Farm...yes, I'm a sucker!

I'm already looking forward to our next wine outing. Good food, good friend, good wine. What more could a girl ask for.

peace and cheers!


Monday, November 6, 2006

A day on the Wine Trail...


Over the past decade or so, the number of vineyards and wineries have grown steadily in the state of Iowa. Twice a year 7 wineries in the Northeastern part of the state come together for a 2 day event called the Iowa Wine Trail. This fall a group of our friends decided to partake of the festivities...after all, what better way to get ideas for your Holiday entertaining! After several weeks of planning (thanks MB), Saturday morning 9 of us loaded into our rented 15 passenger van and headed north. Destination: Winneshiek Wildberry Winery in Decorah. The first of 4 wineries we would visit that day.

For those of you who have never traveled in Northeastern Iowa, it's amazing. You gradually leave the rolling hills of the central part of the state for rockier, tree cover hills which spill dramatically into beautiful valleys. Along the way you come upon small towns and family farms fit for a Grant Wood painting. Fall is a particularly beautiful time of year and even though we're past prime foliage season, the view was still worth the visit.

Our little group is quite an eclectic group of individuals when you look at us: a law enforcement officer; a fund raiser; an environmentalist; a lawyer; a social worker; a pharmacist; a stay-at-home mom/fitness instructor; and 3 guys who work in various business settings. But put us all together and we always manage to have A LOT of fun. This trip was no exception! Disclaimer to the Ridin' Dirty crew...this is the clean version...after all, my mom reads this!

We arrived at Winneshiek Wildberry Winery just before noon. The newest winery on the trail, WWW had a number of fruit wines. As noted on their web site, in addition to the vineyard, the farm is home to 750 rhubarb plants. (I'll try to impart something unique about each of the wineries in this missive.) Obviously the wine and food at this stop didn't leave much impression (though I did buy a bottle of their off-dry red, Canoe Creek) because the first thing that came to mind when I thought back to this stop was the bathroom. I walked into the roomy, nicely decorated bathroom, locked the door behind me, and went around the small partition wall to find 2 toilets setting side by side. No stall divider of any sorts, just two toilets. It was kinda weird. After a quick tasting of wines and foods prepared to compliment each wine (something each winery provided for this special event), we all made our purchases and departed for destination two: Eagles Landing Winery in Marquette.

The drive to Marquette brought us winding down to the banks of the Mississippi. The small section of Marquette where the winery is located is adorable. A single old street of store fronts, now very touristy in nature containing mostly antique shops, winds along the river bank backed by a steep bluff. The winery is actually spread out over two locations; a tasting room located in 2 adjoining store fronts, and the actually winery/bed and breakfast located down the street. Additionally they have a vineyard, which we didn't see. Eagle Landing had a number of wines, much like WWW, they produced a number of fruit wines. Being a person who doesn't care much for sweet wines in general, their wines were less appealing to me. One stand out, and the food paring was an amazing compliment, was a dark red port which was paired with a chocolate mouse tartlette. Yummy! For me the location of this winery proved to be my favorite quality and I choose not to purchase a bottle of wine to bring home. However, the location was so great, I imagine we may once again find our way to Eagles Landing and may even have to give their B&B a try. One interesting find...just down the street from the tasting room was a business called The Body Connection. They provided the community with aerobics classes and massage. As you can imagine, quite intriguing to me.

Stay tuned for the next chapter of A day on the Wine Trail for the report on the remaining 2 wineries we visited that day and a listing of my final purchases!

peace

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Apple Orchard...

Today Lexi's preschool went on a field trip to an apple orchard. I adjusted my teaching schedule so that Brea and I could go with. It was a bit of a drive, but it was very much worth the time in the car. The trees were sagging under the weight of the MANY, MANY apples. After watching the Orchard owner feed his cows (live animals seemed to be more of draw that apples for most of the little ones), we visited a section of the orchard that had Golden Delicious and Jonathans. After learning how to pick an apple without hurting the tree, each of the kids (and the parents present), got to pick an apple, shine it up, and enjoy it as a cool, crisp mid-morning snack. Lexi choose Golden Delicious. I went with a nice Jonathan. It was a beautiful morning for a stroll in the orchard. In fact, we had so much fun that this weekend we're planning a family trip back to pick our very own basket full of apples...the perfect Sunday afternoon activity I do believe!



Sunday, September 17, 2006

Saturday, September 16, 2006

My growing girls...

Mile stones have been reached this week. On Wednesday afternoon, Lexi emerged from playing in her room with this look of horror on her face. I asked her what was wrong and she told me her tooth was loose. After making sure that she hadn't bumped it while playing, I assured her that everything would be just fine. That wiggly baby teeth just meant her big teeth were starting to make their way into place. Of course then it hit me...my little girl is growing up. She's taking another step into big kid world! How can that be happening? The tooth, now wigglier, is still hanging tough. Now the question is, which will happen first...her tooth coming our or her 5th birthday?

As if the stars aligned to maintain the balance of the universe or something, Brea has had her first baby tooth poke through in the past 24 hours. Interestingly enough, her first tooth is on the lower left while Lexi's first tooth was the lower right. Brea has also gotten her first tooth one full month earlier than Lexi did, one full month almost EXACTLY...the 16th of vs the 17th.

Also this week, Brea has decided that cereal IS edible. In fact there's been a total shift from clamping her mouth shut as tight as possible as to make cereal time as messy as possible to "can't you shovel it in any faster mom?" grunts and looks. Fun times!

peace

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Visitors...

We had surprise visitors for lunch on Monday. My grandma and grandpa Hall (my mom's parents) happen to be in Iowa as they were driving back to Nebraska from a Wedding in Michigan and decided to take a little detour over to have lunch with us. It was a quick visit on a very foggy, cool day, but Lexi loved getting to see her great-grandparents again only a month after our visit to Nebraska.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

An Ah-Ha Moment...

It's been 6 years since I've worked full time in the fitness/wellness industry. Needless to say, over the past several weeks I've had an unwelcome companion...self doubt. Do I really have what it takes to get back into the field? Do I still know the important, necessary information to safely and successfully coach people on their wellness? Will people look at me at my current size (still 20 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight and 50 pound over my target weight) and really believe that I can help them reach their fitness goals when I don't look like I've met mine?

Yesterday I attended an all day Orientation to become a Spinning Instructor. Having only taken a few Spinning classes at the studio where I teach over the past 2 years, I wasn't quiet sure what to expect but I knew I wanted to be able to teach classes at least on a substitute basis. Like many of these all day fitness trainings, I went in fresh, energized, with granola bars and water in hand and left hungry, exhausted, tired, yet excited. What I didn't expect to happen was the Ah-Ha moment at the end of the day. For most of the day we learned about the program, the bikes, the exercise science behind the training, etc. Then we finished out day with a 45 minute "class" on the bike lead by our trainer Dawn. Dawn is a cyclist, a cycling coach, and has a strong background/education in exercise science and obviously is very passionate about what she does.

By the end of our ride it was like someone had flipped a switch for me. We finished our ride with a 5 minute time trial, a very intense push to the finish line so to speak. When it was all said and done this overwhelming feeling to cry suddenly hit me. I had done it. I had physically pushed myself beyond where I thought I could go right now without pain (well, besides unmentionable areas that were screaming that they wanted off the saddle), without giving up on myself, and without feeling defeated. While I've always found Spinning classes at our studio to be a good workout, I've never necessarily enjoyed them and I didn't quite see how cyclists could willingly spend HOURS on their bikes. After yesterday's training and ride...I totally get it. I have a new, deeper appreciation for and understanding of the Spinning program and more importantly to me emotionally right now, I got a huge reminder of WHY I LOVE working in the fitness industry. It was a much welcomed confirmation that I've made the right decision to once again make this work my main professional focus.

I collected myself emotionally, thanked Dawn and let her know how affirming and enjoyable the day had been, showered and took off. As I walked out of the club it was lightly raining. Rain, especially this slow, gentle type of rain that's been happening for the past 12+ hours has always been very comforting to me as it brings renewal, cleansing, and growth to the earth...and at the end of the day yesterday I felt as if the rain had come to welcome me back into the world with my renewed sense of self. It's a great place.

peace

Friday, September 8, 2006

Pressing Reset...

In a way, that's what I've felt like I've done over the past month...pressed the reset button on life as I knew it. Professionally, I wasn't happy. Personally I was torn working full time (plus) and not being as available to my family as I felt I needed to be. So, with the support of my family and friends, I made the decision to leave full time employment to become a stay at home mom (SAHM) with a part time job/business that gives me income with flexibility. One month ago today (in the count of Fridays) I made the jump...and while I'm happy, I would have never expected the many thoughts and emotions that have occurred over the past month as a result of the change.

Making this decision for me was a no brainer on one hand. I LOVE being a mom and after being on maternity leave this spring, I realized just how much I was missing of my girls' lives. Not the big things, but just the little, every day things. The little joys. The time to go to the library for story time, or to the coffee shop to hang out and have a treat, or just to enjoy a sunny day by taking a walk to the park. I feel so much more relaxed now and have found that our evenings and weekends are more enjoyable because instead of using that time to stay on top of the house work, chores, grocery shopping, etc, we use our time to spend as a family. The girls and I can take care of most of those other things during the week while daddy is at work.

I'm also more relaxed because I'm doing something professionally that I love. My full time job, while great in many aspects, did not make my heart sing...and over the past few years I came to realize that promotion out of my position was probably not going to happen (even though it was well known that was what I was working towards), and even if it did, it probably wasn't going to result in me liking my job any more, I'd just have more pay and different benefits...which don't get me wrong, wouldn't go unnoticed or unappreciated. But when it comes down to it, I pursued an education in exercise science because I'm passionate about helping people gain and maintain good physical and mental health for quality of life. And while I've made some choices in my education and past employment in the field that if I had to go back and do over, I might, I feel good about the path I have taken and the place where I am at the moment. I've always wanted to be my own boss, and now working as an independent yoga instructor, fitness coach, and wellness educator, I am doing just that.

So the choice was easy...or so I thought.

Now a month into our new "arrangement" as we refer to it, I sometimes wonder if I made the right decision, for both me and my family. Most of the concern centers around finances...what seems to be a constant thorn in our paw so to speak. Yet, when you crunch the numbers, financially we're probably at about the same place with me bringing in part-time income and NOT paying full time child care, than if we would have just kept status quo. But I do sometimes wonder if I made the right choice financially in regards to retirement (as now the only one contributing to a retirement plan for myself is...myself...and well, let's just say, the pot ain't gettin' any bigger) and insurance (though having your husband work for a Fortune 500 financial and insurance company does have MANY benefits in that area). Moving from working full time for someone else who supplies your benefit package and who pays business expenses, to doing it all yourself is quite a change...especially for someone like myself who isn't necessarily business minded. Income (and expenses) are still a little unpredictable and that's a bit scary for me when I know my family needs my income.

Though we have come a long way in the past 11 years, our finances still seem to be a sticking point. I guess it's frustrating because as 2 intelligent, hard working, law abiding, college educated, socially responsible adults, one would think we'd be able to to eventually get to a place financially where we can just BE and not constantly feel like we're struggling just to pay the monthly bills and provide our family with the simple basics of life...with the occasional luxury or treat. Right now, I'm not seeing that place in our sights. What adds to that frustration is that we can't seem to figure out how to live and have gainful employment for BOTH of us in this small mid-west community in which we want to raise our family. My dear husbands has been commuting 50+ miles one way to work each day for the past 6 years, driving into "the city" because he's been unable to find a job here in our little community that utilizes his skills, interests, and experience and provides the salary we need to afford our basic needs...even with the increasing price of gas! A few years ago I read a newspaper article on the frustration young couples face when trying to make it "work" in smaller communities and why so many young families choose to move to more urban areas. I felt like they were telling our life story, yet we're not ready to give up the fight just yet. We like our small town life: our friends, the schools our kids will attend, and the great sense of community you find in rural communities such as ours.

Financial troubles aside, I sometimes feel a little bit guilty at times now that I've made the move to SAHM. I worry that my dear husband, who goes to work everyday (not necessarily to a job that pays him what he's worth or that fills his passions) to provide for his family, who gets very little out of his efforts besides a house to live in and food in his belly (which I know we both know is a blessing of its own), will burn out and start to feel under appreciated for what he does. I get the luxury of being with the girls each day; of doing special (mostly free) things with them like our library time; of doing something personally and professionally that I love and which feeds my passions...because of that I feel rich beyond what any money could buy. I hope that my dear husband feels as rewarded for his efforts, even though we're currently unable to splurge on a few luxuries of life I know he'd enjoy.

I've had many mom's who have/had made the choice to stay at home while their kids were young tell me I'll never regret the decision I've made. I know, in my heart, that they are right, I just have to get my head out of the way. We're still adjusting to this new life, a process which I'm sure will take some time considering all the factors and feelings involved.

So it has been a bit of a roller coaster of emotions and thoughts this past month...but over all...I'm so happy. My life, my focus, and my priorities needed a reset. I am so thankful for my family and my friends who have been so supportive of the choice I (we) have made in giving this new life a go.

Now...before the hubby comes home...I must go do the dishes... :)

peace!

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Going home...


This weekend our family went "home". My husband and I went to college in Wayne, NE, population 5500 (give or take) at Wayne State College, enrollment 5000 (give or take). Because we married after my second year of college, Wayne became our first home together. And because we lived in Wayne year round, unlike most of the college students who went back to their home towns during the summer, we not only were a part of the college community, but lived and worked in the community of Wayne itself. We fell in love with the community and have many happy memories of our time spent there. Ultimately we decided to leave Wayne following graduation (though we have more than once considered moving back should the right employment opportunity present itself), but we try to visit every year or two to check our our old home.

The second weekend each July, the city of Wayne, America holds
The Wayne Chicken Show; a weekend filled with fun and activities centered around a chicken theme. It's the perfect opportunity to go visit town and our family and friends. We have a very special family who live in Wayne who made our college transition much easier and who 12+ years later remain an important part of our lives, The Rose's. Dan, Kyle, Megan, and Marissa were Scott's "adopt a student" family our first year in Wayne. Little did they know that when they adopted him as an incoming student, they got two for the price of one. They fed us countless Friday night meals, I lived with them for a short summer session, and Dan eventually became Scott's boss at Tom's Body and Paint Shop, their family owned auto body shop. Over the years we have though of them as just another part of our family...a third set of parents and siblings. So naturally our girlies have to go visit Grandma Kyle and Grandpa Dan once in a while.

This was Brea's first visit to Wayne. Lexi has been there two other times, once to visit the Grandparents Rose when she was only 7 weeks old, and a second time to experience her first Chicken Days. (She actually had also been to Chicken Days in utero...but I'm sure she doesn't remember much of that trip!). In typical Grandparent style, the girls were spoiled, shown off, and loved all weekend long. We ate unhealthy fair type food (mmmmm...funnel cakes), got a little pink in the sun, and even let go of our inhibitions long enough to participate in the giant chicken dance. Yes, it's all a bunch of silliness...but it's also good, clean, small town fun.

We're now back at our current home now, but we will return to Wayne again. And I'm sure we might even celebrate a couple more Chicken Days in the years to come. We'll eat good food, drink good drinks, and share time with friends and our family of Roses. It's always good to be able to go home.

Scott and the girls with "The Chicken"

Lexi and her live chicken experience

The girls with Grandma Kyle

Brea and Grandpa Dan

Saturday, July 1, 2006

Let Freedom RING!!!

This year Independence Day is going to be spent celebrating a little bit different freedom in our family than most traditionally celebrate on July 4th. Even before my husband and I got married, we had started to accumulate consumer credit on a variety of credit cards obtained during our new found college financial freedom. Credit cards, and several of them are a snap to obtain in college and our theory was...why have just one! Long story short, and unfortunately one with which many people can identify, we left college not only with a degrees but with thousands of dollars worth of "bad" consumer credit. Of course we thought that as soon as we were out of school and had "real" jobs that it would be a piece of cake to pay off all those credit cards. WELL...it wasn't and soon we found ourselves playing all the games that people play when they are losing control of their consumer debt. It felt as if our financial life was spiraling out of control...and basically it was!

Well after doing some research on how best to deal with the situation, we decided to seek the assistance of a consumer credit counseling agency. By the time we met with one of their representatives we had racked up almost $31,000 in credit card debt, much of that slowing growing thanks to frequent late payment fees and high interest rates. After meeting with the representative we decided if we were ever going to get things under control that help was necessary. We signed a contract with the agency and turned over all our cards. That was a little over 6 years ago!

Today, July 1, 2006 we received a check in the mail from the agency for the balance in our account that was no longer necessary for them to keep because....drum roll please...all creditors that were part of our original agreement/plan (6 separate cards) HAVE BEEN PAID IN FULL!!!

I can't even begin to explain how much relief I feel knowing that with hard work and persistence we were able to pay off such a huge chunk of STUPID debt. In addition to paying off that huge chunk of debt, we've learned how to make wiser decisions about our finances. In the past 6 years we've managed to buy our first house, have 2 kids, get my husband 2/3 of the way through his MBA program, and purchase family friendly cars. We still have debt obviously, but it's much smarter debt.

So today, and throughout the weekend, we're celebrating a freedom that with a little assistance we've been able to give ourselves...let the fireworks begin!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Babies, babies, babies...

It's amazing how pregnancy and babies can bring people together. Shortly after I found out I was pregnant last July, I ran across the WebMD pregnancy message boards. I admit, while I love internet shopping, keeping in touch with friends and family far and wide via email, and researching and reading about anything from a recipe for soup to Kundalini yoga, I had never participated in a chat room or posted on a message board before I joined the first trimester message board on WebMD. At first I would just watch from afar, occasionally posting a question, thought, or my answer to someone else's question. But after awhile names started to become familiar and with a few visits to the pregnancy chat room, I found myself hooked.

There is a special bond that is formed between women who are pregnant. I found this to be just a true for those of us who met on the message board as I did for those women here in my home town who I knew who were pregnant. Throughout our pregnancies we shared our joys, our concerns, our frustrations, and some laughs. Checking in with the board felt like checking in with your neighbors to see how their day is going. I still feel that way as we've all graduated to the newborn-6 month board, now sharing the joys and challenges of parenting a newborn.

As a celebration of the connection a group of strangers from around the globe have found through the miracle of bringing a life into the world, I bring to you a collection of baby photos of the WebMD Babies.

Thank you to all my WebMD friends who took the time to send me pictures!

peace

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Sisters...





Those of us who have a sibling know that the bond between siblings is a unique and special bond. When we found out that we'd be adding a baby sister to our family, I had many people comment about the extra special nature of the sister-sister bond. Watching Lexi become a big sister has been amazing, but witnessing the special bond between sisters has been truly incredible. Lexi is such a gentle and caring sister. She's attentive, loving and protective and already willing to teach her little sister about things of this world. And to watch little Brea respond to her, even at this very early age...wow. Her little face lights up with joy when she hears big sister enter the room. The unspoken connection that they share is truly special and unique and I look forward to watching that bond grow in the years to come.

Two perfect, beautiful little girlies. We are blessed!

peace!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Where to begin...

There are just so many things I want to write about tonight that I don't know where to begin. Basically it's all mommy blabber and kiddo photos. So since it's already past my bed time and the alarm will be going off to wake us up in about 7 hours, I'll keep tonight's post short and continue the mommy blabber tomorrow night.

Tonight's featured photo...this cute pink Nalgene kids water bottle. I have some what of a Nalgene water bottle addiction. Yes, I know it's silly to have a thing for something as simple as a water bottle, but I guess it's one of those oddities that makes me who I am. Having now two girlies in the house I of course couldn't buy just ONE of these adorable pink kiddie bottles...oh NO...I bought two even though the youngest girly won't be able to use hers for quite some time. AND even though I have 4 (yes I said FOUR) Nalgenes of my own, I had to get a matching pink grown up bottle for mommy! (Let me diverge for a moment...I would like to note that being the mother of girls does something to you...I used to HATE pink. Now our lives have been over run by pink. Who is this person I have become?!)) But back to the subject at hand...I now believe the Nalgene bottle count in our house stands at 9...but who's counting :)


peace!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Unexpected surprises...

The best gifts a girl can receive are those that are totally unexpected. It's not about the size, or the cost, it doesn't even have to be a material item, it's simply about the thought. It's about the time and effort someone has taken to show you how much you are loved and appreciated. Today I was the recipient of one of those special gifts.

We've been receiving random gifts in the mail in celebration of the birth of our 2nd daughter, so today when there was an over sized package in the mail box I assumed it was a little outfit or toy meant for Brea. When I glanced at the envelope front however, it was addressed to me and the return address was that of a close friend...Dr. Jen, as we refer to her in our house because well, we friends with about 4 Jens (not including myself). We live a couple hundred miles apart but I had just seen her and her family about 3 weeks ago so I was baffled about what she could be sending me. I at once had to open the envelope.

Inside was a nicely wrapped gift with a card attached with my name on it. I opened the card to find a nice saying about friends and a greeting from Jen wishing me a belated Happy Mother's Day! Instantly my heart grew warm. How very thoughtful and totally unexpected! The gift was that of a book about girlfriends...one that I know I will remind me of the special bond we share as I flip through the pages.

A simple gift, but the love it conveys will never be taken for granted. Thank you Jen for being my girlfriend!

peace

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Like father like daughters...


When our oldest daughter (pictured on the left at about 6 weeks old) was born everyone immediately said that she looked like my husband Scott. We didn't know how true that was until we ran across some of Scott's baby pictures (pictured in the middle at about 2 months old). So it shouldn't have been any surprise when our youngest daughter (pictured on the right at about 6 weeks old) was born, that she too would look like her daddy.

Everyone picks out a different feature when they look at pictures of the three and say, "They have the same (fill in the feature)." For me it's the lips. Those adorable little full, triangle shaped lips, lips that even today my husband sports. But really when you compare the photos, you could pick any number of features...the shape of their heads, the round boldness of their eyes, the shape of their nose, their hair lines, even their little chins match. As our oldest daughter aged a bit we also discovered that she was lucky enough to have daddy's dark, long, curly eyelashes...one of the many reason I fell in love with my husband so many years ago. I hope our little one is as lucky...I have a feeling she will because at only 7 weeks old her lashes are starting to get full, dark and have a little curl!

As their mother it's almost frightening to not be able to see any resemblance between me and my girls when you compare my baby photos with theirs. In fact in the early months, except for the fact that I carried them in my belly for 9 months, gave drug free birth to them both, and have feed them from my own breasts, it would be hard pressed to find any traits that link us as mother and child. But features change as little ones grow and I can now see little bits of me in our oldest daughter. She has my dark brown eyes and my straight as a stick blond hair. She has the same fullness in her cheeks right under her eyes. We also share the same gap between our front teeth (maybe not the best trait to pass on). I also like to think that my daughter's compassionate nature is something she's inherited from her mother...although when it comes down to it, her daddy is a pretty softy at heart too.

In the end, I'm just so happy that we have been blessed with 2 healthy, beautiful little ladies...no matter who they look like the most.

peace

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Easter dress...

We found out this year that there is a big difference between Easter dress shopping with a 3 year old (who really didn't care about which dress we chose and who could be talked into any dress) and Easter dress shopping with a 4 year old whose criteria for a good dress is how well it twirls. This dress, with it's little purple flowers, was Lexi's choice because it won the twirl contest. She so proudly showed off her dress to everyone who visited our house for the 3 weeks that we had it hanging in her closet before Easter and was so excited for Sunday simply because she knew she's be able to wear her special dress. She really is a cutie!

Monday, April 17, 2006

3 weeks old and growing...

I can't believe 3 weeks have already passed since that special morning that Brea decided to make her entrance into this world. We've had some ups and downs. Our littlest munchkin had some jaundice issues due to the extreme facial bruising she experienced at birth. So we spent some time in the hospital letting her "sun" under the lamps and got the experience of using a Wallaby blanket at home for some additional treatment after our hospital stay...but our baby girl is now a healthy pink color instead of looking like she's been dipping into some really bad self tanning lotion. But over all, the past 3 weeks have been filled with joy. I am amazed at how she's grown, how much her face changes each day, and how strong she is! I guess her given name (meaning Strong one) is appropriate!

In addition to the joy of watching Brea grow, watching Lexi bond with her new little sister, and finding out just what it's like to be a family of 4, we've had many visitors over the past 3 weeks. My brother, Scott's parents, my parents, and of course our local friends and family. It's been a special time for family and sharing lots of love. My mom and step-dad's visit was extra special for me because we see each other so rarely...about twice a year. It's amazing to watch my mom with with my girls. It's a wonderful reminder of how special being a mother is and makes me appreciate all that much more all that my mom has done for me and taught me over the past 31 years. Thanks Mom, I love you!


Friday, March 31, 2006

My true loves...



I think the picture says it all...

peace

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Breanna Pauline...

Born on Monday, March 27...her due date...at 7:19 am. She entered this world at 7 pounds and 3 ounces and measuring 20 1/2 inches long. And now...the story of her birth...

For the past several weeks I'd been having problems with my hips aching at night. So I'd sleep for a few hours in bed, wake up to empty Brea's pillow (my bladder) and then move my slumber out to the living room for the next several hours. The night of Sunday, March 26th was no different. We had had a pretty busy weekend knowing this may be our last before our little girl joined us. Saturday we went shopping and enjoyed some family time together. Sunday we woke up and fixed our standard Sunday morning waffle breakfast and started working on some house cleaning tasks. Lexi and I decided to take advantage of the sunshine and after a brief rest mid-afternoon we walked over to our local park where she took her bike for it's first spin of the spring as I waddled behind. By the day's end I was tired but feeling well and was hoping that all the activity of the weekend would result in getting a good progress report at my doctor's appointment on Monday morning. The Monday before (at 39 weeks) I had not been dilated at all and baby was still very high in my pelvis. Having delivered Lexi 9 days past here due date...after a forced eviction (induction)...I was prepared to see my due date come and go without much excitement. Evidently Brea had other plans.

After moving out to the couch around 12:30 on Sunday night, I remember waking up several times and noticing how "crampy" I felt and attributed it to being on my feet a lot over the weekend. About 3:15 I woke up mid "cramp" and started to notice how different these cramps were compared to any others I'd had as of recent. I decided that since Scott was going to be getting up about an hour later to get ready for work, maybe I should stay up and see if I could time my cramping. I got up, used the restroom and grabbed a book. After about an hour of timing these noticeable, but rather mild cramps, I realized that yes, they could be timed. Approximately 15 minutes apart for 45-60 seconds in duration.

When Scott woke to get ready for work he came out the living room to find me sitting up quietly and I calmly told him I thought I may be having contractions, as I could only think of 3 things that could cause these kind of cramps...1. Gas (not timeable usually)...2. PMS/menstrual cramps (well...obviously not)...and 3. Labor. But as mild as they were at that time I wasn't too concerned. So Scott jumped in the shower and proceeded to get ready for work. By the time he was dressed and putting on his shoes at 4:45 I had decided that yes, these were contractions and now they were about 10-12 minutes apart lasting for 60-90 seconds. So I once again calmly told him I didn't think he should go into work yet...after all he drives an hour to work (one way). So he decided that he'd take Lexi to his aunt's as is normal for a Monday morning and then come back home to see how things were going. We figured if it was the start of labor he'd be home and Lexi would be taken care of...and if nothing progressed before my doctor's appointment at 11:30 Scott could go to the appointment with me and then drive into work late if the doc didn't think anything was happening.

It takes about an hour round trip to drive to Scott's aunts and back. So he took off around 5:00 with our sleeping daughter in tow. I decided to get comfy, popped a movie in the DVD player, and grabbed my big fitness ball to sit on as sitting on the couch was starting to get a little uncomfortable. When Scott got back home a little after 6 contractions had gotten a bit stronger and were now a little less than 10 minutes apart. I decided that we'd probably be going to the hospital in the near future and jumped in the shower to freshen up a bit. 10-15 minutes (and 4 contractions) later, I emerged knowing that I needed to get dressed and brush my teeth because we definitely needed to start to think about heading to the hospital. Contractions were getting strong enough that I couldn't do anything during their duration but stand and sway and breath. After taking some time getting dressed between contractions, I asked Scott to call up to the labor and delivery wing of the hospital and let them know we'd be on our way there in 15-20 minutes. With Scott's assistance I was finally able to get my teeth brushed, a sweatshirt on, to the front door and out to the car to head to the hospital. At this point I was getting a bit worried that I had waited a little too long to tell Scott it was time for us to leave as contractions were coming strongly every minute or two and I was starting to feel quite a bit of pressure in my lower pelvis. Luckily we live within 5 minutes of the hospital!

Scott drove up to the ER entrance and went in to get a wheel chair (I knew at this point I'd never be able to walk to the L&D wing). After watching me have 2 contractions in the car, Shirley (the ER admitting assistant), strongly urged me to get out of the car and into the chair so she could get me in to L&D. A short wheel chair ride later (another nice thing about small town hospitals...everything is close) we entered the L&D wing to be greeted by my Doc. The room they were were preparing for me had just had someone moved out of it to make room for us and wasn't quite ready. The nurse asked if she could park me down at the end of the hall for just bit while they finished preparing the room and I firmly told her NO...I needed to get into that bed NOW. So in we went. Once they saw how quickly and strongly contractions were coming, things kicked into high gear. Lab was called for blood work. I was changed into a gown, warming table and instruments were brought in and as soon as I was on the bed Doc was ready to check my progress. I was dilated to 9 cms! Quickly in what was probably about 5 minutes time (I can't really tell you as I was trying to breath through my final dilating contractions without hyperventilating...so much for all that yoga breathing!...I found repeating OWY, OWY, OWY to be much more soothing...or expressive...or something!) the fetal monitor was attached, blood was drawn and doc had gone to change into scrubs, returning just in time to have me start pushing. I had already had to resist the first urge to push through a contractions waiting for him to return (which in all actuality I didn't do very well because I do think there was a little pushing action in there...but once your body decides it's going to push...it's about impossible NOT to!).

After 3-4 good strong pushes Brea's head was delivered and I was asked not to push while Doc suctioned her out a bit and turned her shoulders for the next push. One more push to clear the shoulders and more waiting while there was a bit more suctioning done and a little wipe down. One final push and our little girl was fully delivered, quickly wiped down a bit and placed on my belly. She was alert and responsive, but not crying. We continued to rub and wipe her down as she blinkingly stared out into the world for the first time. At that point Doc pointed out (after unwrapping it from her leg) that Brea's umbilical cord had a full (but thankfully loose) knot in it about 1/2 way between her and the placenta. Scott told me later that it was at that point he had to sit down, realizing just how lucky we were that a higher power had been watching out for our little girl, ensuring her safe arrival into this world.

The next several minutes of clean-up and checks for both Breanna and I went pretty routinely. It wasn't long before I was changed into a nursing gown and handed our little bundle of girly. Scott had taken a few minutes shortly after Brea's arrival to give Lexi a call to let her know her little sister had been safely born...Lexi likes to point out it was while she was eating her pancakes for breakfast. After finishing said pancakes, Lexi and auntie Pammy made their way up to the hospital where sisters got a chance to see each other face to face for the first time. It was a very proud moment for Lexi and a very special one for us. Our new family was together for the first time.

Things continued to go well in the hospital and our Doc signed our discharge papers first thing on Tuesday morning. Brea had to have some blood work done and we finished up some paperwork and walked out of the hospital on our way home as Brea was turing only 30 hours old. Coming home is always so special and we were more than ready to get settled in with our new little family member. Big sister was at pre-school which allowed Mommy to catch a much needed nap after feeding Brea. Things, while far from routine, have settled into some sort of familiararity and we are enjoying our family time at home. It's a special time to celebrate our love for each other, our connection as a family, and the amazing miracle of life.

Welcome to our family Breanna, we love you!


Monday, March 13, 2006

The final stretch...

That could be taken several different ways. First of all we're in the final stretch of the pregnancy...now at 38 weeks and patiently waiting for our little one to decide to make her entrance. She seems to be taking the same attitude as her big sister did and is no hurry to get the show going. But that's 0k...an April baby sounds just as nice as a March baby....and a healthy, uneventful delivery that results in a happy healthy baby and a happy healthy family is all that matters.

You can also look at my belly and see that my skin is also hoping that this is it's final stretch!


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Looking back...

40 weeks, 3 days...and waiting...


September 2001...we're expecting the first addition to our family. Belly pictures finally captured 3 days post due date...little did we know at that time we still had 6 more days to wait before meeting our precious little daughter. Looking back at those early days as a family of 3 now as we are looking to add a 4th has been great fun. Lexi gets such a kick out of seeing her self as a baby and asking all sorts of questions about her life then. It's been a great way to talk about what the baby will be like when she arrives...plus, those are such wonderful memories, it's good to go back now and then and talk about them.

September 27, 2001...our first family portrait. Welcome precious.

peace

Monday, February 13, 2006

Random thoughts...

So yesterday while I was posting my new belly photos below (thinking about the pictures of my enlarged belly from my first pregnancy that I plan to post later this week), I got to thinking...how empowered do I feel having the guts, courage, confidence (whatever you want to call it) to post my naked, stretch mark filled, swollen abdomen on a site where anyone in the world can see it!?!?!?

Ok, so it's not posing nude in playboy. But for for a 30 year old "average" size 16 "farm girl" who grew up in the mid-west before the time of short shorts, super minis, ultra low rise, thong showing, belly baring fashions we see so often today, it's a pretty big step. Maybe it's comfortable because it's not about sexy. It's about the miracle of growing a life. About celebrating the wonders of the female body. About having an attitude and confidence that I can pass on to my girls that says "you are strong and beautiful because of who you are...not because society tells you that you are those things."

I know my mom has pregnancy photos from when she was pregnant with my brother...I remember the dress she was wearing when we took them. I was 5 at the time and thought she was HUGE. But notice I said I remember the dress she was wearing. I can't ever remember seeing her bare, swollen belly. I can't ever remember celebrating her pregnancy the way I have celebrated mine. So what's the difference? Is it just a different time? A different mind set? A difference in my confidence in my body? A difference in the support I get from my loving relationships? Or, as I suspect, some totally random combination of all of those...plus a few influences I haven't even addressed...like the fact the world wide web didn't even exist in 1980...at least not in the fashion which we so freely use it today.

Totally off the subject...have you ever been involved in something where you want to give as much of yourself as you can to make the venture succeed, and you even have hopes that it will blossom into additional opportunities for you to further follow your passions in life, but you feel like you have to proceed with caution and it's hard to know what kind of caution that involves?

The studio where I teach yoga has recently sold to a new owner and is under new management. Awkwardly enough for me, that new management/owner is a former employer. An employer from which my departure was not on the best of terms. That was over 5 years ago. A lot of water has gone under the bridge so to speak and both parties (myself and the new manager) have expressed how we'd like for our relationship this go round to be healthier. With all of this transition, we've been moving into a more formal business. More in line with my past training and experience having graduated with a degree in exercise science in '98 followed by 4 years working full time in various large and small scale, but all very established, fitness operations. I figured it out the other day that I've now been teaching fitness classes in some format for over 7 years. So, while I'm not currently working full time in the fitness industry, I have kept in touch with trends in the field and feel like I have quite a bit of experience that could greatly benefit the business as we try to further establish our place in our local community.

What's awkward, and somewhat frustrating, is that my co-instructors are all new to the field. While some have backgrounds in dance, none have working in the fitness industry until the past year (at most) and have no experience teaching at any other clubs/studios besides our little studio here. While what we offer is great for a community that had no fitness class options before we started our classes, there's so much more that we could offer on so many levels. The quality of our classes could be improved. We could all stand to improve our teaching and motivation techniques...something that's going to be essential for continued growth and success in a business that can easily go down hill because of stagnant programming. However, I find myself reluctant to make suggestions and comments because I really don't want to be the "know it all" who thinks she better than everyone else...especially because I'm 8 months pregnant and teaching the fewest number of classes per week right now!

So it has become a time of second guessing myself, my abilities, and where I really fit into this puzzle. Fitness and wellness is truly my professional passion. And I want more than anything else to figure out a way to make it my full time vocation. But figuring out how to do that in this particular situation is causing me to have a little anxiety...something that I know is negatively affecting my ability to serve my clients to my full ability. Is there an answer? Do I just need to have patience and let everything work itself out? I don't expect for there to be an easy fix, I'm willing to work for what I want, but right now I don't even know where to start working and in what direction to focus my attention.

I guess maybe at the moment, considering my "condition" I should focus on the matter at hand...growing and birthing a beautiful baby in 6 weeks. With faith, my other situation will work out if it is meant to be...patience girl, patience.

peace

Sunday, February 12, 2006

And the countdown continues...


34 week...only 6 weeks (give or take) until we meet our new little family member. Some days that feels like an eternity from now, like time is creeping by at an incredibly slow pace. Other days I'm freaking out about moving from a 3 person family, which we do well, to a 4 person family, which will have a whole new set of challenges, in such a short amount of time.


Over all, we are so excited to get the opportunity share our love with another little creature...one that was created out of our love for each other. Growing a baby really is such an amazing thing!




Wednesday, January 4, 2006

28 weeks and growing...

Big sister is very amused by all of this belly hype!

Sisterly love...already a strong bond.