Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Weight-Loss Wednesday

Operation Weight Loss 2009:
Week 7 (2/17 - 2/23)
Weight Lost This Week: -2.0 pounds
Weight Lost To Date: -17.6 pounds
Sticking to my daily allotted points - check plus
Daily 30 minute treadmill date - check plus
Daily 25 minute pilates routine - check plus
Daily calcium and multi-vitamin supplements - check (I forgot one day)
No food consumption after dinner - check (I snuck one of those Weight Watcher's chocolates at 8:00 p.m. one evening, but 6 nights out of 7 isn't too shabby, huh?!)
Increase protein amounts - check plus (bring on the mixed nuts and string cheese!)
Daily Carb Counting - check minus (this is proving a bit difficult for me)
Well, obviously I need to figure out how many carbs I'm consuming. I have been more conscious of my carb intake, opting for lower carb options when possible, but I still haven't found a way to calculate carb amounts for foods that aren't packaged (I know there are websites out there that will help me do that, I just haven't taken the time to find them). However, I do think changing over to a lower fat diet (which is basically the Weight Watcher's plan) has resulted in a drastic reduction of my carbohydrate intake. I was surprised to discover that although there is always room for improvement, I'm really not consuming as many carbs as I originally thought. Goal for this next week: nail down a way to track my carbs.
Second Goal: I'm not going to step on the scale so much throughout the week. In my excitement to lose weight (and probably because of my personality), I find myself checking in on the scale at least 1, if not 2 times, per day. This gets a little depressing when, due to normal increases and decreases in water weight, the numbers I see are a smidgen higher than what I anticipate. So, no more scale for a while.
Fun Fact of the Week
Yesterday I pulled my jeans down without unbuttoning or unzipping them (ok...that was probably TMI, but it was a very proud moment for me and I really couldn't think of anything else to write).

The Incredible Shrinking Product Size

Has anyone else noticed the trend of the incredible shrinking product size at the stores over the past few years? It's only fair that along with a smaller product amount a consumer should also expect a smaller price tag, right? Well, apparently that's not the way it works.

I first noticed this slightly irritating product skimming trend in the soda aisle when I went to the grocery store to pick up a couple 24-packs of Diet Coke that were on sale. Except, when I got home, I realized the sale really wasn't a sale at all because instead of purchasing 48 cans of Diet Coke, I had only purchased 40 cans for the same sale price. What?! What's most remarkable to me is how the lovely Diet Coke people designed their new 20-pack packages so at first glance I wouldn't even notice they had jipped me those 4 cans.

I have since noticed similar annoying trends in the cereal aisle, the snack food aisle, and most recently, the baby product aisle.

Last night I went to pick up some size 4 diapers for Zach at Target and immediately noticed the smaller box (I guess the Pampers people just aren't as intelligent as the Diet Coke people). A few years ago when Allie was in size 4 diapers, we could purchase a $20 (and often after coupons, even cheaper) box with 92 diapers. When we first transitioned to size 4 for Zach, I did notice that the diaper count had gone down to 88 diapers per box and was slightly annoyed. But, last night, I was near enraged when I picked up the $20 box to find that there were only 82 diapers inside. That's almost 2 days worth of diapers that have completely disappeared from the warning, no notification...just "whammo" and they jip me 10 diapers.

I think even fast food chains are in on this scam. Remember the whole "Super-Size Me" craze about how that guy gained oodles of weight after eating the too-large portions served at McDonald's for a set period of time and McDonald's responded to his accusations by beginning to serve more appropriate portion sizes (ie-the noticeably smaller box of french fries)? While I'm all about limiting my fast food consumption, I am not too thrilled about shelling out the same amount of money (and, actually, I think the prices at McDonald's have increased) for a lesser amount of food.

I don't know that there is much I can do about this, barring a refusal to purchase the products I've noticed participating in this scam, which honestly for me, is not a feasible response. So, I guess I just have to get over my annoyance, even though I'm convinced they're all ripping me off...big time.

Any thoughts?

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Life: A Juggling Act

As anyone who has been following my blog already knows, over the past two months I have been determined to turn my overweight and sedentary lifestyle upside down. Through daily exercise and a healthier diet, along with massive amounts of self-control I never knew I possessed, I’m already beginning to reap the benefits of my determination, proving that, for once, my perfectionist Type A personality does actually have some benefits.

I have always been a goal-driven person and once committed to any goal there really is no turning back for me. However, the one problem that I always run into, otherwise known as the more complicated side of my perfectionist Type A personality, is striking a balance between the new goal I want to achieve while still doing well at all the other tasks that make up my daily life. Because of the sheer time, energy, and motivation I feel I’ve had to put into making this current lifestyle change happen, I’ve already noticed some things in my life falling to the wayside.

This isn’t really a new thing for me, but rather a pattern I’ve noticed over the course of my twenty-seven years. It’s hard for me to juggle doing many things well, so I usually opt to juggle one or two things with superb and perfect accuracy while all the other balls I should also be juggling lie motionless on the floor. This used to work really well for me, but as I’ve gotten older, my responsibilities have increased and I don’t really have the option of letting some of those balls go anymore.

So, today I find myself trying to figure out how to juggle all the things in my life that cannot afford to be dropped anymore: God, church, Ben, Allie, Zach, extended family, friends, flute, teaching, weight-loss, money…..just to name a few.

I can’t do it all. My mind knows that, but there is something deep inside of me that really wants to convince myself and everyone else around me that I really can keep all those balls spinning round and round, higher and higher up in the air, an impressive sight for all to behold.

“Look at me,” I can proclaim “look at all I can do so effortlessly and perfectly!” And, as I take my eyes off those whirling balls, just for one brief moment to look out into the audience and behold all the impressed onlookers as I introduce them to Ms. Pride herself, one by one each of those balls slips out of my grasp and crashes onto the floor. All my efforts, all my concentration, all my pride, in just one millisecond have become worthless.

And, as I’m left standing there, feeling embarrassed, defeated, and totally imperfect, I finally realize it was never supposed to be my job in the first place to juggle all those things.

This week I need to regain my focus. To start, I’m giving all those balls back to the One who should have been taking care of them in the first place. Today especially I’m thankful for a God who is forgiving, who abounds in love, who hears my deepest thoughts and needs before I am even aware of them, and who is always willing to juggle everything in my life when I bring it to Him.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

New Haircuts

The kids finally got haircuts this past week.

I was really trying to let Allie's hair grow out a bit longer for my sister's wedding at the end of May, but the longer her hair got, the thinner and more scraggly it began to appear. So, here's Allie sportin' her new chic bob: Ahh...much, much better!
And, it looks so thick now that it is shorter!

"Short is definitely the new long, Mom!"


Here's Zach striking a pose with his newfound GQ sleak, yet funky do:

He's not quite sure of what to think of his new trendy look. (Mom's not quite sure yet, either!)
" do realize my hair is crunchy, right?"

"Ah...what the heck! It's just hair!"


Allie is especially fond of Zach's new "spikes" (so she calls them). During bath time she was quite disturbed that Zach's spikes disappeared after we wet his hair down. By the end of bathtime, she was fully convinced that he had lost his new haircut. She kept asking us all night long if her haircut was still there and even woke up the next morning a little weepy because she thought for sure her haircut had disappeared overnight like Zach's. That morning, I showed her how to put the spikes in Zach's hair with the hair gel. So now, every morning, Allie reminds me that Zach "...needs his spikes now!"


I'm still up in the air about Zach's spikey do. It's kind of fun for him to have something different, so we'll keep it up for a while until I make up my mind. However, I'm afraid if we do decide to go spike-less, I will definitely have to adequately prepare Allie for the change and be ready for the objections I know will follow.

Ben's Solution For Rowdy Kids

The other evening, about a half hour before bedtime, I walked into the living room and saw Allie...she looked like this:

"Look, Mom," Allie exclaimed, "Daddy wrapped me up like a BURRITO!"

The puzzling look I shot Ben initiated his reply, "Well, she was being really rowdy and hyper, so I wrapped her up in the blanket and let her squirm and roll around on the floor."
If only I'd thought of that earlier in the day....

Friday, February 20, 2009

Weekly Theme

Usually a 3-year old's entire objective upon waking up each morning is to do as many things on her own as possible throughout the day, asserting her will and independence at every bend in the road, often refusing help when needed, just to show that she can do everything all by herself. Although Allie definitely has her moments of 3-year old assertive independence (which almost always rears its ugly head at the most unfortunate of moments) more often than not, she prefers to have everyone else do things for her (she takes the whole "princess thing" rather literally, I'm afraid).

A few months ago, Ben and I agreed to begin encouraging Allie to do more things on her own, enabling her to be a more helpful member of our family while also boosting her confidence and self esteem. Now, not only does she willingly put on her own shoes and coat before leaving, but she also gets her own drinks of water when thirsty, washes her own hands and face when dirty, goes to the potty and wipes without help, cleans up her own toys, helps unload the dishwasher, and clears her own place setting from the table after we eat. This is a HUGE improvement over just a few short months ago when Ben and I felt like slave parents in bondage to a power-happy, tyrannical 3-year old.

Although we have welcomed these marked improvements with enthusiastic praise, we have continued to allow Allie's efforts to get dressed and undressed each day slide a bit. Well, truth be told, until this past Monday, there was basically no effort made on Allie's part to get herself dressed and undressed. Allie just plain refused to get dressed or undressed without the help of Ben or I.

So, in a last ditch effort to remedy this behavior, I officially declared this week:
"Allie Gets Dressed and Undressed All on Her Own Week."

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning, as to be expected, did not go over very well. Upon waking up and being reminded that she would be performing the act of undressing and dressing herself on her own this week, Allie had a full-fledged melt down, insisting all the while that she was incapable of taking off her pajamas and putting on her clothes for the day. Crying, screaming, kicking, stomping on the floor, and slamming the bedroom door in my face ensued. However, after about 30 minutes of pure tantrum alone in her room while Zach and I went about our morning routine, Allie calmed down enough and was able to follow step-by-step instructions (provided by yours truly), and with very minimal help from me, she successfully undressed and dressed herself.

Thursday morning proved to be the turning point of "Allie Gets Herself Dressed and Undressed All on Her Own Week." Upon emerging from my morning treadmill date in the basement, I was cheerfully greeted by a fully-dressed, beaming with pride, Allie, who proceeded to inform me that she had also successfully thrown her pajamas in the dirty clothes, opened her shades in her bedroom, and had made her bed. Wow. I had to take a moment to regroup as I was in a state of shock.

This morning began quite similarly with no whining or complaining about getting undressed and dressed on her own. It looks like we may be reaching a triumphant conclusion to "Allie Gets Herself Dressed and Undressed All on Her Own Week."

However, after a rather unfortunate discovery this morning before leaving for music class, next week's theme has already been declared:

"Don't Forget to Put Your Underwear On When You Get Dressed in The Morning Week"

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Weight-Loss Wednesday

Operation Weight-Loss 2009:
Week 6 (2/10 - 2/16)
Weight Lost This Week: -1.6 pounds
Weight Lost To Date: -15.6 pounds
Well, I'm heading into week numero 7, still losing weight, still sticking with the plan, still exercising consistently, and not at all feeling sorry for myself, deprived, or hungry all the time. I think that's quite an accomplishment for me, the self-proclaimed lover of all things sugary and carbohydratey and hater of all forms of physical activity. I'm not sure how much longer I can say that I hate exercise, though. Granted, it is still not my favorite pastime, but waking up to the treadmill has been, dare I say it, actually a pleasant way to begin my mornings. As far as the sugary carbohydrates, that has proven to be a harder battle...more on that later on.
Well, I've decided to do a complete restart with this whole improvement section. Here's why...
Although Weight Watcher's has been great at many things, in my experience it hasn't been so good at answering a lot of my more personal weight loss questions pertaining specifically to my body type, my body chemistry, my specific exercise and eating challenges, etc. Although I like the accountability of the weekly meetings, there just isn't time for a lot of one-on-one coaching- you really have to take the initiative to follow the plan, continually evaluating yourself and your progress.
Anyway, yesterday I had my first appointment with a nutritionist that I plan to see every six weeks or so. Tiffany (the nutritionist) was thrilled with the changes that I have already made, but was also able to give me a few pointers on how to overcome some of the more difficult hurdles that I will soon come up against. In list form, these are Tiffany's recommendations that I will be beginning to work toward over the next 6 weeks:
  • Take 2 calcium supplements per day. Since beginning Weight Watcher's I haven't been drinking much milk (mainly because 1 cup of skim milk costs me 2 whole points!). Plus, I've cut way back on cheese products because of the fat and high point values as well. Basically: I'm not getting enough calcium. Because calcium is so crucial to a woman's bone strength, it is vital that I make sure my calcium intake is adequate. Since I'm already taking a vitamin D supplement (vitamin D is what helps your body absorb, if you don't have enough vitamin D, it basically doesn't matter how much calcium you consume, your body wouldn't be able to adequately absorb it), taking the calcium supplements is the next logical step.
  • Continue my daily multi-vitamin. I used to be so good at this one and would take my multi-vitamin daily without missing a single day. The impetus for my beginning a daily multi-vitamin was hearing about the importance Folic Acid plays in spinal development for a newly conceived baby. Although prenatal vitamins provide ample amounts of Folic acid, they are often prescribed after a pregnancy is confirmed, and unfortunately, many parts of a baby's spine have already been formed by the time it is prescribed. So, to be on the safe side, I thought it best to be on a Folic Acid supplement prior to conception. Thus, when I got married, even though we weren't planning on having kids right away, I started my multi-vitamin, complete with Folic Acid.
  • No more night snacking. I was actually hoping there was some way around this as I've been reluctant to give up my nightly bowl of popcorn or low-fat ice cream (or sometimes both!), but alas, there is not. So, I'm now on the 4-hour rule...absolutely no food during the four hours before I go to bed. What finally helped me to understand the reasoning behind this rule was Tiffany's analogy of our bodies being like cars that are fueled by food. Basically, as we are "driving" our bodies around all day, we need to be filling up our tanks, but when we pull into the garage at night, there is no need to keep fueling up. Our bodies won't have time left in the day to burn off those calories we are putting in and when we wake up in the morning, whatever snack we had the night before will still be there, most likely in the form of fat. Ok. Now that makes sense to me. However, Tiffany said there is nothing wrong with the occasional treat, I just need to make sure I consume it earlier on in the day so that my body has a chance to burn off those calories.
  • Increase my exercise level. What?! But, she's been doing 30 minutes of treadmill per day! (My thoughts exactly!) Apparently, it is best to shoot for 60 minutes of daily exercise. So, at least I'm already halfway there. Tiffany suggested some core/abdominal exercises. So yesterday I picked up a beginning Pilates video. I just finished my first session. Oh. My. Goodness. It was really hard. And what killed me was that the two women instructing the video made it look so effortless...not a hair out of place, no make-up running down their faces, their cheerful voices not at all interrupted by grunts, huffs, or puffs. Let me not forget to also mention how I am still trying to figure out how to get my legs that high up in the air while laying on my back, both completely straightened and absolutely perpendicular to my body, whilst at the same time looking so beautifully coordinated, poised, and graceful. Basic conclusion: my abdominal muscles are missing and I'm on a covert mission to relocate them. The lovely instructor, Miss Ana Caban promised that after 30 daily sessions of the Pilates Beginning Mat Workout that my body will be totally and completely transformed. I'm holding her to that.
  • Less carbohydrate consumption. Seriously? I thought I joined Weight Watcher's to get away from meticulously counting carbohydrate exchanges. Lucky for me, my blood work indicates I have high insulin levels in my body. So, while everyone else runs around with normal insulin levels, their bodies working quickly and efficiently to break down sugar and quicken their metabolism, my body is a bit more sluggish in this area. The insulin I have isn't working as efficiently to break down the sugar I consume, and so my liver just creates more and more and more... I have tried a prescription medication to help with this teensy little problem (it was supposed to signal the liver to stop producing its massive amounts of insulin), but the side effects I experienced made it soooo not worth it. Basically, the only other way to control my insulin levels is to control my carbohydrate intake (similar to how a diabetic has to control their sugar/carb. consumption as well). Whereas a normal adult can allocate about 60% of their daily caloric intake to carbohydrates, I need to cut back my consumption to 40%. Yikes. I still have to do a little more research to discover exactly how many grams of carbs per day that is, in addition to finding out carb. counts for foods that aren't labeled, but as of today, along with tracking all of the food I normally eat, I have been notating carb. amounts as well. Hopefully in the next few days I can actually formulate a plan that will help me stay within the necessary carbohydrate levels my body needs.

Fun Tip of the Week

Wow...that was a lot of info, huh? Now, if I would have been told all of that was necessary for weight loss success just even a few short months ago, I would have laughed in your face and then stuffed a chocolate cupcake in my own. However, slowly, but surely, my attitude about food and healthy living are definitely changing.

Through this whole experience God has been teaching me a lot about self-control and patience...both important and necessary qualities to weight loss success and living a healthy lifestyle. I always thought that people who "spiritualized" weight loss were kind of a little nutso, but I am beginning to see a lot of parallels between the two.

I have also started to realize that my issues with food and physical activity are much more rooted in my mind rather than my body. So, something that I at first thought was a physical issue (my stomach is hungry, I need to eat a brownie!) is making itself known to me more as a mind issue (am I really hungry, or do I just feel like I need some chocolate?).

So, I am thankful for the past six weeks, knowing that these initial experiences have brought me to a point of accepting and choosing to tackle some pretty tough goals that will hopefully amount to increased success.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Preschool, Results From Yesterday's Photo Quiz, and More Random Photos

I realized today that I have left you all hanging regarding the BIG preschool decision. I can only imagine the sleepless nights endured because of withholding this information from you...

Anyway, after my post in January, I was thankful for a lot of input from friends, in addition to other moms with kids, about preschools in our area and general pointers in researching a good preschool for Allie. Although I'm positive that Allie would have had a fun educational experience at all 3 preschools we were seriously considering, we went with the one that is located the closest to our home. Not only that, but I was impressed with the education level and certification requirements of all of the teachers, the student/teacher ratio, the organization of the school, the spacious classrooms, the desire for parent involvement, and kindness of everyone I came in contact with at the school.

So, the money's down, the paperwork is filled out, and Allie will begin her two-day-a-week preschool experience in September. She can hardly wait!

Well, either all of you are really good at guessing or my two babies look as different as night and day. Here's the results of yesterday's photo quiz (which everyone passed with flying colors!):

This first picture is Zach. Of course it wasn't difficult for me to tell, I mean, I am the mom. And, now that I think of it, even in the hospital all the nurses commented on how he "just looks like a little boy." No one has ever mistaken Zach for a girl; however, I'm sure that has nothing to do with the fact that he was dressed in blue from head to toe in addition to being almost completely bald for the first 6 months of his life. But, seriously, even as a little baby, Zach just seemed more solid than Allie ever did, his chest was broader, his hands and feet were bigger...he did have a smaller head than Allie...not quite sure how that fits in, but I thought it worth mentioning.

And this second picture is Allie. The three biggest differences between Zach and Allie at only hours old (well, and actually still today!): hair, complexion, and eyes. Allie had a thick covering of dark hair, in fact, when she was first born it looked like little curly ringlets (you can't tell so much in the picture above...that was post-first-bath). Zach had a little dark fuzz, but nowhere near the amount of Allie's mop. Allie also inherited her Dad's darker complexion whereas Zach has been gifted with his Mom's pasty white sun-depraved fair skin. As for eyes, Allie's at birth were dark, dark grey...almost black. Today they are deep dark brown (just like Daddy's too!). Zach's eyes were very blue at birth and are still blue today (obviously a recessive gene...I have hazel eyes!).

And, to complete this most random post, for your entertainment, I bring you (drum roll, please...):
Pictures of random and silly things our kids do around the house for entertainment:

First, I give you, Allie walking on pink monster feet:

And, here is Zach striking a "So-Big" pose for the camera

Here we have Zach discovering that if he licks the Cheerio just a little bit, he can magically stick it underneath his nose and it will stay without him holding it there...he is very proud of this new found talent:

Allie holding on to the basement stair railing while simultaneously bouncing up and down on the big bouncy ball...yes, I'm sure there was sugar in her system at the time this photo was taken:

Allie playing princess dress-up and preparing for a tea party:
Allie was insistent that Zach participate in dress-up too. I bet you're wondering who he is dressed up as:
(But, I'm sure you knew that already. Satin lavendar fabric embellished with gold piping just screams policman, don't you think?).

Monday, February 16, 2009

Facebook Surveys

So, if you have Facebook, you've probably been reading a lot of your friends' notes lately: "25 Random Facts," "ABC's," "So, You're Married!," you get the idea. Anyway, although I have thoroughly enjoyed reading many of my friends' 25 random facts, I secretly vowed I wouldn't make my list public. Yep. I said public. I actually have my unfinished list of 22 things sitting in my drafts folder. And, seeing as I can't bring myself to finish the list, nor convince myself that everyone having access to my Facebook page or blog should be privy to that information, it for now is remaining unpublished.

However, because I am still dragging my toes about participating in the random 25 things list, wanted to post something on my blog, but couldn't think of anything worthwhile to write about, and since I have also been tagged several times to to participate in this particular questionnaire, I'm giving in. So, here you have it: All About My First Born (except I felt kind of bad leaving Zach out, so I morphed it into All About My First and Second Born).

Allie: Well, it wasn't prevented
Zach: Oops...
Yes with both kids
Allie: I was shocked and excited.
Zach: I pretty much figured and was excited.
Allie: 24
Zach: 26
Allie: I went in for my annual OB appointment and since I was having irregular cycles, they took a blood test just to make sure I wasn't pregnant (I insisted I wasn't while the lab tech insisted I was). A few moments later while I was talking with the CNA in the exam room after my blood had been drawn, the lab tech burst into the room (there was not even a knock) and declared I was pregnant, hugged me and congratulated me. I think I pretty much sat there, stunned, with my bottom jaw hanging open, for at least a solid minute.
Zach: I took a pregnancy test at 2 A.M. in the morning while Ben was on a business trip in Madison, WI. I couldn't sleep and I really wanted to know, even though I was already pretty positive I was pregnant.
Allie: Well, the whole OB office knew before even my husband. I did call Ben after the appointment was over (obviously the appointment came to a screeching halt after the pregnancy was announced and then I rescheduled with the actual doctor instead of the CNA) and asked if he wanted to meet for lunch. I went to his office and couldn't hold it in any longer...I told him the news in the car, although he had pretty much already figured it out by my excited tone of voice over the phone.
Zach: I called Ben's cell after my positive 2 A.M. test to let him know. He was groggy and barely coherent. He called me back at 7 A.M. the next morning to tell me about a bizarre, but very real dream he had that I called him in the middle of the night to tell him I was pregnant.
Allie: Yes, desperately! We tried 3 times to no avail!! The ultrasound tech wasn't even comfortable venturing a guess.
Zach: Yes! And the very first image on the ultrasound screen was definitive...even if we wouldn't have wanted to know, a quick glance at the screen would have been enough to assure anyone we were most definitely having a boy.
9. DUE DATE?Allie:
November 19, 2005
Zach: October 5, 2007
Allie: Not really...remember, I didn't even know I was pregnant.
Zach: Although I didn't throw up, I felt like I had the stomach flu for the first 10 weeks...the most unfortunate side effect was that ice cream made me the most queasy
Allie: Anything with sugar, but especially Edy's Rocky Road Ice Cream.
Zach: Towards the end of my pregnancy I would eat a huge bowl of Honey-Nut Oh's Cereal accompanied by a huge glass of chocolate milk...every morning. When I came home from the hospital after delivering Zach and the next morning got together my usual breakfast fix, I took the first bite and gagged. I haven't had the combo since.
The smell of raw meat, especially raw red meat. When I was pregnant with Allie I tried out my mom's recipe for Beef Marengo for the first time. It used to be one of my favorite dishes until I caught a whiff of the raw beef and had to smell it cooking all day long in the crockpot. By the time dinner came around just one bite of it made me want to toss my cookies. We haven't had Beef Marengo since.
Allie-no, I wanted a girl. I even had a dream when I was pregnant that I would have a girl with brown eyes and dark hair.
Zach-I was initially disappointed that Allie wouldn't have a sister so close in age to her (to play with, share a room with, and so that I could dress them both alike). Plus, I wasn't really sure that I would be a good boy mom. But now that Zach is here, I couldn't imagine it any differently! Cars, trains, balls, red, and blue have been a nice and welcomed change of pace. And, it has been so fun to see both of them growing, playing, talking, and becoming friends.
Allie-30 pounds
Zach-38 pounds
Allie: Yes, I actually had 2. My mom and sister planned the first one for me with my family and friends from Wisconsin. And, my church friends planned one for me with friends from MN.
Zach: No official shower, but we were showered with gifts and meals from our family and friends after his arrival.
Allie: I knew.
Zach: All welcomed surprises!
Both my pregnancies were fairly normal and thankfully free of severe complications. However, right around 32-34 weeks with both pregnancies I had migraine headache symptoms (numbness of the right side of my body, blurry vision, slurred speech, headache never came with Allie, but a terrible headache with Zach). With Allie, they ordered a CAT scan, and after a half hour, lying on my back inside that claustrophobic tube, with loud banging and clanking, I literally thought my back was going to crack in two and that my head was going to explode. I used to have migraines frequently in my adolescent years, so the doctors determined that the headache was triggered by hormonal shifts. I also swelled up like a balloon. I literally had no ankles.
St. John's Hospital in Maplewood MN
Allie: I was having regular 15-minute apart contractions for around 12 hours, so decided to go into the hospital to have things checked out. I was admitted to the hospital at around 9:00 P.M. and Allie arrived the next morning at 5:36 A.M. after less than 5 minutes of pushing. I probably only had about 4 hours of intense labor.
Zach: I had awful Braxton Hicks contractions for the whole last month of my pregnancy, so the day before my due date I paid no attention to the regular contractions I was having until Ben asked that evening if I had timed them. So I did and they were 4-5 minutes apart. I went in to get checked out and was officially admitted to the hospital around 10:30 P.M. Zach arrived at 7:25 A.M. the next morning after again, only about 4 hours of intense labor and about 3 minutes of pushing.
Allie: Ben and at least 5-6 other hospital staff. They were afraid Allie had swallowed meconium and so there were some extra doctors there just in case. In addition, Allie came pretty quickly and they were concerned that the on call doctor wouldn't make it to the hospital in time.
Zach: Ben, a nursing student from Bethel, my OB doctor, and a nurse. My doctor basically made it there just in time to catch Zach.
No C-section
Oh yes! With Allie they gave me some narcotics that basically made me feel dizzy and queasy because at first the idea of them sticking a needle in my spine seemed atrocious. However after the pitocin was ordered, I quickly abandoned my issue with needles and was begging for an epidural. With Zach, I signed up for the epidural ASAP. All the paperwork was pre-signed and ready to go as well as the equipment that was set up in my room for the anesthesiologist. My only regret with Zach: I wish I would have started begging for it right away!
Allie: 7 pounds 15 ounces
Zach: 8 pounds 4 ounces
Allie: 5 days late on Thanksgiving Day-November 24, 2005
Zach: Right on his due date-October 5, 2007
Allison Grace
Zachary Grant
Allie: 3
Zach: 1
My two babies, only hours old and both resting peacefully under the heat lamps at the hospital:

Any guesses as to which one is Allie and which one is Zach?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

So how did we celebrate Valentine's Day?

Well, last week in preparation for today we all made valentines:

Today upon waking up, we all exchanged valentines. Ben got the kids some special valentine boxes, a Disney Princess one for Allie and a Cars one for Zach, filled with little goodies (which was definitely a big hit!). Last night he set them out on the coffee table in our living room before we went to bed, hoping the kids would be surprised by them in the morning. And, he was once again not disappointed: Allie was up at 6 a.m. this morning declaring: "There's something special in the living room! Come! Quick!"
There was also pink and green box for me, complete with some more Weight Watcher's chocolates and also a set of measuring cups I've been eyeing up (you know the silicone collapsable kind? I know, a bit weird, but hey, anything that saves storage space is a welcome addition to my kitchen!). Ben received a whole package of Zebra Cakes which he then proceeded to eat for breakfast (he also gave the kids some for breakfast too and so began the beginning of their day-long sugar high!).
For dinner we ordered Olive Garden To-Go. I was debating whether or not to order in from a restaurant, considering how much I did not want to abandon my diet for the night, but upon further reflection and stepping on the scale this morning to see the lowest number I have seen in over 2 years, I thought one celebratory dinner wouldn't kill me. We also ordered dessert, which we will split, and enjoy while watching a movie after the kids are in bed.
And now I'm off to fold laundry...because holiday or not, we have no clean clothes left to wear. :)
Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

My Thoughts on Valentine's Day

So, tomorrow is February 14: Valentine's Day.

And if you are eagerly awaiting to read the cynical thoughts that have spewed forth from out of my head, making their appearance as word vomit upon the computer screen regarding my hatred of such an over commercialized holiday that merely serves as the most depressing day for millions upon millions of people each year, I must apologize in advance for what you will instead read. And, if you just can't take the disappointment, by all means, stop reading here.

You see...I like Valentine's Day. And although Ben and I have never made a big, huge, mondo celebration out of Valentines Day, I still like it. In fact, even before Ben came along, I am proud to admit that I liked Valentine's Day. I have always liked Valentine's Day.

And, since I'm getting a little weary of reading and hearing about everyone else's shear hatred for February the 14th, just to even things out a little, I've decided to add in my own two cents as to why I like Valentine's Day, in list form (of course! is there any other way?!):

  • Because making Valentine's boxes in grade school out of old shoe boxes, decorated with red and pink construction paper hearts, massive amounts of glitter, and plastered with the letters J.E.N.N.I.F.E.R. was always a major highlight of my year.
  • Because taking my Valentine box home and sorting through all the Valentines my classmates had given me, separating the candy from the cards, and desperately searching for messages from my beloved Strawberry Shortcake or Rainbow Bright provided days of sugar loaded entertainment.
  • Because of Valentine's Day parties complete with chocolate candy and pink cupcakes.
  • Because my mom always bought Valentine's Day candy and set it around the house in February. And she was not a fan of those hard, chalky, candy hearts, so instead she stocked up on those little pink and red foil wrapped chocolate hearts. Sometimes, on Valentine's Day, she'd put a few in my lunch.
  • Because I couldn't wait to chip in $1 to purchase my high school friends a special delivery carnation in the middle of February.
  • Because I was always eager to see who would chip in $1 to have a carnation sent to me in high school. And, one year, instead of getting all white carnations (friendship), I was surprised by receiving a pink (I like you) and a red (I love you)...and they both were not from the same person.
  • Because in college, it meant I would go to my mailbox and most likely receive a whole heap load of mail. And probably even a package.
  • Because I like red and pink. On Valentine's Day I can wear both at the same time and not be criticized for clashing.
  • Because of heart printed socks and underwear.
  • Because one year Ben bought chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate covered cheesecake bites, and chocolate covered coconut candies for me from Godiva...and they were to die for.
  • Because I like heart-shaped sugar cookies with pink frosting, complete with white and red sprinkles.
  • Because in the middle of the bleak, snow-covered, dark, dreary, grey months of winter, I welcome the vibrant pinks, reds, and whites associated with Valentine's Day as they seem to make the month of February at least somewhat tolerable.
  • Because making cut-out paper valentines with the kids is a blast.
  • Because it is fun to hear Allie talk about all the friends she loves and watch her make those valentines specifically for them.
  • Because I have fun coming up with new little gifts to get for Ben each year on Valentine's Day.
  • Because commercialized or not, a day set aside with the specific purpose of doing something nice for the people you love is always a day worth celebrating.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Weight-Loss Wednesday

Operation Weight Loss 2009:
Week 5 (2/3 - 2/9)

Weight Lost This Week: -2.8 pounds
Weight Lost to Date: -14 pounds


I have successfully continued my daily 30 minute dates with the treadmill throughout this past week. I only missed one day, felt guilty, and so made up for it the next day with a one hour treadmill nightmare dream date.

I don't usually surpass my 30 minute time limit (I am not that brave yet); however, I have been exploring some of the different programs our high-tech treadmill offers. There are 10 work-out regimens that are pre-programmed into our treadmill and when I began I could barely make it through program #1. And now, for the past few days, I have been successfully sweatin' through program #5...a program I attempted just a few short weeks ago and couldn't complete.

Although still not a huge fan of the actual act of exercising, I am continually noticing a huge increase in my energy level which is, of course, embraced with enthusiasm exemplified by my continued 6 a.m. appointments with Steve Carell on my treadmill.


I give myself a big stinkin' F for not ever reaching my goal of only drinking 1 Diet Dr. Pepper per day this past week. Every day this past week I drank 2 cans. Oh well. So, along with the continued exercise, I resolve to be better about this whole less soda consumption more water drinking this next week.

And, another goal I want to throw out there is not snacking so much in the evenings after the kids go to bed. I'm rarely hungry at 8:30 p.m., but still, I almost always grab something to eat. It's kind of a bad habit we've gotten into: put the kids to bed, collapse on the couch, and find something to snack on. I'm sure this mindless eating is doing nothing to help me advance toward my ideal weight. So, no snacking this week after the kids go to bed...we'll see how this works...I'm a bit skeptical that this habit, similar to the whole Diet Dr. Pepper habit, is going to take a few weeks to get used to.

Fun Tip of the Week

Valentine's Day is coming...this Saturday. To me, Valentine's Day has always been synonymous with CHOCOLATE. Yum. My biggest weakness. My favorite: chocolate with coconut. And this past week, Ben won the husband of the year award when he found these for me at Target:

Whitman's Coconut Chocolates...worth 1 Weight Watcher's point each. Delicious. I was a bit skeptical at first, but these are decadent, just like the real thing. Along with the coconut chocolates, Ben also brought home some chocolate covered caramel pecan bites which were also equally as yummy. You can go to this website to see all 12 chocolate candy flavors that are offered through Weight Watcher's by Whitman's

Yes, Zach Does Occasionally Smile for the Camera

We've always had difficulty getting good pictures of Zach. From the time he was born, Zach has had absolutely no use for a camera. Whereas Allie is always ready and willing to strike a pose (see photographic evidence directly below),

Zach just stares wide-eyed at the camera with a blank look on his face, occasionally stretching his arm out to grab at the camera, but mostly just reluctantly enduring the flashes and our funny faces until we finally tuck the camera safely back into its case. Which looks kind of like this:

So, imagine my pleasant surprise the other week when I plunked his little bottom into the kiddie rocking chair to photographically document our first day of winter ECFE classes:

Is that a smile I see?

Why, yes, I do believe it is!

You think that's pretty funny, huh?

Oh? Now you want to play peek-a-boo? You're still laughing?
Ha! You are one funny guy!
Isn't if fun to show off your pearly whites (all four of them!)?
Well, it was fun while it lasted...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Allie's Super Power

Allie absolutely hates mushrooms. I am constantly in awe of her keen ability to utilize a most-rare talent: Mushroom Radar. Shroom Radar, as I like to call it, enables Allie to spot even the most minuscule fragment of mushroom in every single casserole, sauce, salad, or soup. If by rare chance a mushroom slips past her all-powerful Shroom Vision and (horror of all horrors) enters through her lips and into her mouth, Allie's heightened sense of Shroom-Identifying Taste Recognition will surely identify the foreign invader in less than one tenth of a millisecond, resulting in a powerful yet reflexive evacuation of the undesired shroom out of her mouth and onto the plate, table, floor, or innocent bystanders.

Thinking I could outwit such shroom-identifying perfection, I took drastic measures, insisting a piece of mushroom was in all actuality not a mushroom at all, but instead a piece of cooked ground beef. Very quickly I learned Allie is also gifted with natural Shroom-Polygraphic abilities. After calling out my lie, she got to work quickly separating all pieces of microscopic mushroom fragments from the rest of the cooked ground beef on her plate before proceeding to eat the rest of her meal.

So, what's a mother of such a delightfully consistent, naturally gifted and talented child with such highly refined tastes to do?

Make her wash all the mushrooms before dinner: