December 29, 2011

2011: The Year In Review




I've taken a little break from the techie/social/blogging world over the past few weeks and frankly, I recommend it to everyone. Yes, the holidays have been busy and yes, I've been sick for several weeks and all of those factors have played into my lack of attention to my social world. I confess that I am often consumed by social media and it was nice to take a little break from it all.

What can I say about 2011. There have been a lot of ups but also a lot of downs. I find myself relieved that it is over.

The UPS: 
  • My son is getting older, smarter, funnier and just when I think it isn't possible to love him any more, I find my heart completely consumed by him. 
  • There have been amazing weddings for my sister-in-law and one of my best friends. 
  • Babies have been born and I now have a new niece and nephew whom I love immensely. 
  • Some friendships have changed, others have flourished. 
  • Work has been busy and I have been able to work on exciting things in my field. 
  • I lost 20lbs this year and weigh the same as I did when I got married 6 years ago.
  • I learned to love RUNNING (WTH??)
The Downs:
  • Even though I lost 20 lbs I still have 40 to go to make it to goal. I expected to lose so much more this year. Yes, there were factors that were out of my control; however, I am in control of my own fate. Sometimes making lifetime at WeightWatchers feels like an insurmountable goal. 
  • A friendship changed. I'm pretty sure there is no way of changing it back. I don't understand why and it makes me insanely sad. 
  • I completely lost my ability to have another child. 
  • Christmas Eve. I have no idea how a day that is usually so iconic, fun and wonderful could turn into such a perfect disaster. I am still wrought with anxiety over it and am having a hard time of letting go that it wasn't a perfect day this year. All I can do is let it go and hope that 2012 holidays are better.
The lessons I have learned:
  • You can plan things as meticulously as you want, but at the end of the day you have to be open to change, accept that things won't be perfect and let that be okay.
  • Not to dwell on things you can't change. Accept things as they are and make the very best of them. 
  • A child makes everything magical. With every day I watch him grow, I know he completes me in every way. I. AM. SO. BLESSED. 
  • Not to take my career so seriously. Let's face it. At the end of the day, it is a means to an end and gives me the ability to do what I want for the people that matter to me most: my family. 
  • I am innately different now that I am a mom. I go to bed early. Drinking and partying isn't as much fun when you don't have the time or ability to recover from it with a greasy breakfast and a 4 hour afternoon nap. 
  • Not to give up. For the first time ever, I stuck with a New Years Resolution. I may not have met my weight loss goal; however, I have made drastic healthy lifestyle changes that will benefit me forever.

Here are some 2011 photo highlights:








So, goodbye 2011.









December 06, 2011

The Philips Wake-Up Light Experiment

No this is not a picture of me.
I was super stoked to FINALLY get accepted into the SheSpeaks Philips Wake-Up Light Better Mornings program. It is just a really cool product and might just be the answer to my prayers as a person who wakes up at 5am the majority of the week as well as suffers from SAD (Seasonal Appresive Disorder).

Not sure how important daylight is? Sunlight and daylight have positive effects. They raise energy levels and help align our daily rhythm. The Philip Wake-Up Light gradually wakes you up in a gentle, less abrupt way- the way nature intended. Starting a half hour before your set wake up time, the Philips Wake-Up Light gradually fills your room with bright light, similar to the rising sun. The light raises energy levels, slowly preparing you to slowly wake up.



I decided to give this thing a try for 5 days. My initial concerns:
- The light would wake my husband up (who actually gets up with the rising sun like a normal human)
- The light wouldn't wake me up at all
- That nothing would change and I would still be hitting snooze every 10 minutes.

Night 1: This dumbass probably should've read the instructions fully as I was somehow blissfully unaware that you are to set it a half hour before you are ready to get up. Being a snooze button lover, I had set my clock to my "snooze" time: 5:05am (gives me about 30 minutes worth of snooze slamming). So to my limited knowledge, the light started firing up at 4:30am. At about 4:45a, I sensed that it was light (holy crap... this thing works??) and I panicked. Full on freaked. Shot up in bed thinking that it was about 7am and I was about to be very late for work. Worried that it worked so well on me (and it was much earlier than I am accustomed to anyway) and that I would wake up my snoring husband, I turned off the light portion and stuck to the good old fashioned FM radio wake up. Baby steps, right? I asked my husband if he noticed the light being on. He said no but that he heard the radio. LOL. Going into Night #2, I'm going to give this thing a REAL try. Set my alarm for 5:30 (light will start at 5) and see if waking up is a little easier without having to hit snooze a hundred times.

Night 2: Yup. Got a kick from my husband this morning to turn the light off. However, can we agree that this thing works?  
The full intensity brighter than the sun light which woke my dear husband up. Yes, that is my backup former alarm clock in the background. And the video monitor. Also wonderfully bright for my husband's annoyance.
Night 3: I knocked down the light intensity by half (to just a 5 out of 20) and it still woke me up about 10 minutes before the radio alarm sounded. Husband didn't wake from it this time; however, that may have been more because he was up at 4am with the kid. I am definitely feeling less apt to hit snooze- I actually want to just wake up and get moving!

The intensity used at half and still more than woke me up.
Night 4: Thanksgiving Eve = sleeping in (or rather, waking up to the natural sunlight beating in my window)

Night 5: Thanksgiving Turkey coma. Yet the light woke me up 10 minutes before my alarm as usual. Up and not entirely thrilled to be going to work the day after Thanksgiving.

I spent a whole week testing out the Philips Wake-Up light and my final assessment? I love it. Love, love, LOVE IT. I love being woken up naturally rather than beating down my alarm clock every 10 minutes. In regards to my initial concerns, I found a light intensity that doesn't seem to disturb my husband, it actually does wake me up and I have yet to touch the snooze button. My biggest issue is lack of trust. As parents, we are often woken up in the middle of the night by our preschooler's dreams, potty needs, illness, monsters, MiMiMi scaring him (who the heck is MiMiMi??),  ETC ETC ETC and are freaking tired. So tired, that often the sudden shrieking of an alarm clock is what it really takes to wake up before the crack of dawn. I don't trust that the light is going to wake me up, so I wake up every hour worried that I'm going to oversleep. Regardless of whether it worked just fine for an entire week and I woke up without an issue every day, I was still restless overnight.

No lie, I was pretty skeptical. I didn't think it would work. I thought I wouldn't want it. I confess, I was wrong. This is a great product. If you struggle with getting up in the morning and are a chronic snooze smacker like I used to be, this product will do wonders for you.

SheSpeaksbutton Thinking Light Therapy is the right thing for you? Click on the button to the left to get $10 off your Philips Wake-Up Light!


Bleary-eyed Zombie Mom Approved.



* I was given a Philips Wake Up Light to review through www.shespeaks.com. All opinions are mine and mine alone.

November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Thanksgiving Edition

Despite the fact I had to work on Wednesday and Friday of Thanksgiving week, we pulled off an extremely successful and blessed Thanksgiving dinner with my side of the family. We truly have so much to be thankful for!

The bird cookin' on the smoker. My husband is so proud of his smoker...
The finished bird. Her bounty was plentiful.
My unbelievable cheescake. No, really. Recipe found on Pinterest! Amazing.
Party at the kiddie table. Jack & his cousin Miles.
I always put the tree up the day after Thanksgiving (or... night since I had to work). I was not happy to have a broken string of lights on my pre-lit tree.
But, a quick trip to Target and the light fiasco was quickly fixed and holiday cheer filled our home.
Meanwhile, Jack got to spend the day after Thanksgiving with his daddy since I had to work. When asked if he was having a fun time at the Minnesota Zoo, he replied with 2 thumbs up.
We didn't want to forget about my husband's family, so we took a road trip to lovely Rochester, MN for a visit with Papa, Auntie A, his new cousin Brooklyn and his two Great Grandmas one of which is 95 years old!

November 29, 2011

Why I Love The Elf On The Shelf

Go ahead haters, say what you want about this suddenly over-commercialized "tradition" but, I confess, I am totally in love with The Elf on the Shelf.

Jackson received his Elf from his Godparents post-Christmas last year and at the age of 2 could have cared less about it. I had heard of The Elf on the Shelf and thought it was a super cute idea- I was excited to figure out what he was all about. Noticing all the Elf hype this year, I told my husband that I wanted to get one for Jack. Oh yes, apparently I had forgotten we got one as a gift. So, we pulled our Elf out from the depths of Christmas storage and introduced him to Jackson who was immediately mystified by him. We asked him to give the Elf a name to which he initially replied, "Let's call him Reindeer." We then encouraged him to think of a few more (with a few suggestions from Mom & Dad) and he decided Ernie was the perfect name for his Elf. We went to www.elfontheshelf.com where we officially "adopted" Ernie. Jack was over the moon getting a letter back from Santa- he even wanted to bring it with him to school to show his teacher. He seriously carries this letter with him everywhere.

I know some longtime Elf on the Shelf people are not happy that the tradition has been commercially over-blown. My husband HATED the CBS special that aired- he called it total propaganda. While I agree with him that the show was obviously catered to selling more of the Elf, Jackson LOVED it. He loved the music, he loved Santa, he loved everything about it AND he learned what HIS Elf was all about. While he hasn't put two and two together that Ernie will report his naughty behavior to Santa and he won't get a gift, he still thinks Ernie is magical and funny. He freaked out when he thought his daddy was trying to touch Ernie and quickly explained to us in only the way that a 3 year old does that if we touch him, his magical powers will go away. He gets it and it is adorable. Am I scarring him for life for making him think there is a magical tattle tale Elf living in our house? I don't think so. Shit. I believed in Santa for I don't even know how long as a kid and guess what... I don't harbor any ill will towards my parents or require any therapy for their living such a lie.

My husband and I are having fun with finding different places to put Ernie and it has become a game for us to find fun and hilarious things to do with him. Sure, Ernie had a little bit of a creeper look when he was humping the angel on the top of our tree (yes, we told the child he was... giving her a hug), but overall I find our little Elf hilarious. This Elf isn't unlike the creepy fake HAND that my husband has been moving around with him for the last 20 years that shows up in all kinds of awful places to scare both me and our child, not to mention may or may not have groped a number of stuffed animals in our household. It doesn't take an obscene amount of time (2 minutes max.) to find a hiding place for Ernie, nor are we going to run out of ideas anytime soon NOR do we care if we have to reuse the same ideas.

Our famous creepy fake hand.
I love this new tradition. I love that Jackson is getting caught up in the magic of Christmas and that he so passionately believes in his Elf. Every day, my usually cranky preschooler wakes up excited to run out and find where Ernie is hiding. Our silly little Elf has brought magic and excitement to our house which had been seriously lacking Christmas spirit this holiday season and for that, I am grateful.

So, my dear Elf haters, I'm sorry that you weren't able to make the Elf work for your family. I truly hope that you are finding other ways to add magic into the holiday season.

November 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: A Special Thanksgiving Lunch

Every year my son's school hosts a Thanksgiving lunch where the parents can come in and have lunch with their kiddos. I wish I could go have lunch with him EVERY day. What I couldn't capture on camera was walking in (albeit a little late) to find Jack sitting at a special table alone waiting for me to arrive. He was "saving" my seat. He gave me a big hug and we ate our (okay, he ate my) turkey lunch. It was a most memorable moment. I am so thankful for my sweet, loving and silly little boy.


From my family to yours, wishing all of you a Happy Thanksgiving!

November 21, 2011

Motivation Monday Shocker: Exercising Feels Good!

Prepare to be shocked.

Exercise makes you feel good!

One of the side effects of my new drugs are headaches. Piercing, mind numbing, bang your head against the wall headaches. Over the weekend, I took a couple days off from running as I was absolutely knocked down by these headaches. Last night I rebelled against them and jumped on the treadmill. It hurt, but I gritted my teeth through the first 10 minutes and low and behold... my headache started to ease. Sure, it may be a coincidence, but it seemed to work. Even if it is a fluke, it sure makes a good excuse to get some exercise in!

Despite my stagnant weight loss, I am PROUD of how much exercise I have been able to do over the past month. Running has helped me ward off illness, build muscle, build endurance (I'm about to start week 5 of Couch to 5K and finding it to be pretty cake), reduce stress and overall feel better. I'll be picking up my copy of LifeTime Fitness At Home on Wednesday (perfect timing before Thanksgiving!) which features four workouts and nutritional content based on our in-club classes and Healthy Way of Life philosophy. While I am of course enjoying my running program, I would also like to shake it up on off days with these workouts.

I always tend to fall apart in my healthy journey around the holidays. Too much temptation. Too many parties. Too busy to workout. I always throw in the towel and just vow to re-start in the new year.

Not this year.

This is the year the I fight temptation. This is the year I continue to workout instead of quitting.

Are you going to stick to your plan over the holidays or throw in the towel? 

November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: 2011 School Picture Edition

There is nothing I look forward to more than getting school pictures back and Jack's photos this year did not disappoint. How is it possible that he is this big? How on earth did they get him to sit and smile like that?






November 14, 2011

Motivation Monday: Tracking Works (The Proof!)

I knew that I was going to have challenges in my weight loss journey post-surgery. I knew that it would take time for my body to adjust to the new hormones. I knew I might gain. I knew getting back into fitness would be a struggle. I knew all of these things, prepared myself for their reality but still find myself crumpling with despair over them.

I know many who are in the midst of using different weight loss programs. One lost like 50 lbs in like 20 weeks doing Medifast. My colleague is using Slimgenics. She has lost about 17 lbs in 8 weeks. My jealousy? Immeasurable. 

However... I have done these other programs before. I have lost weight. I also gained it all back and then some. Many of them have added on maintenance programs since my day of trying them, but I still stand by my decision to lose weight through diet and exercise. Despite my slow weight loss, I know Weight Watchers is the right program for me. It is teaching me how to make the right food choices out of my own cupboard as well as in my everyday situations. Probably the best part is that nothing is truly off limits. You just learn to be accountable for it. I had my cholesterol checked this past Friday for the first time in probably a decade. I wasn't entirely surprised that it was borderline high given our frequent trips to Buffalo Wild Wings over the course of the last few months (it's Jack's favorite restaurant in the whole world); however, I was bothered by the numbers. It was the first bit of definitive proof of how important it is for me to lose the weight and probably the biggest motivator I've had in this journey thus far. I need to be around for my family.

Despite my recent struggles, I continue to go to my Weight Watchers meetings to weigh in and get the support I need every week. Yes, my heart sinks when I see the numbers going up and down and essentially nowhere, but I am THERE and that is half the battle. I remind myself that from the point I had my baby until now, I've lost 50 pounds and 20 since I started WeightWatchers this year. That is something to be proud of.

Our homework last week was to set one attainable goal for the week that has nothing to do with the number on the scale- one thing that will aid my healthiness journey that I struggle with. My goal was to track my food every day. Every Thursday following my meeting, I am always inspired but conveniently forget to track on the weekend. As connected as I am with an iPhone, iPad and laptop you wouldn't think this would be so hard! So no more excuses. I'm going to track everything I eat from here on out.

Some results...

The proof that tracking works:



Interesting, yes? When I earn consistent activity points combined with food tracking I lose more weight. While I stayed steady this week, I didn't gain and I am okay with that. Time to stop thinking I can do it without the tracking. Tracking works and this is PROOF. Coincidence? I think not! I'm going to continue to be diligent in my tracking efforts this week and we'll see if this trend continues. My additional goal for the week is to DRINK MORE WATER and more closely monitor my diet other than just tracking points.

A year from now, I desperately want to be able to go back to my doctor at my goal weight and find that my cholesterol is in the normal range.

What healthy goals are you going to set for the week?

November 09, 2011

Infertility Hurts

99% of the time I am at peace with my infertility.

I am okay that my one little boy, my miracle, will be my only child.

Then, that sneaky little 1% slithers in and my heart breaks into a thousand pieces. Many moms (especially 1st time moms) already have their canned answer for the question, "When will you have another?" I always thought I would have 2 kids. I never imagined raising an only child and always wanted a perfect little happy family. If I was lucky, a boy and a girl.

Those who have struggled with infertility get it. The frustration. The desperation. The hurt. The feeling that something critical is missing in your life. Make no mistake, I take nothing for granted when it comes to my son. I remember being pregnant like it was yesterday. I think I sometimes still feel the ghost kicks in my tummy. But, finally being able to get pregnant once, I got a little cocky. I figured it would be easy the 2nd time around. I did this once, I can do it again, right?

I had no idea how wrong I would be.

Even before my surgery this year to remove what I thought was just going to be a little endo scarring and an ovarian cyst, my husband and I made the decision that we would be done. This would be our choice and not the choice of a doctor or my body. We didn't want to have to endure two years of not seeing 2 lines on those damn tests. We didn't want to go through another miscarriage. We didn't want to spend the money on extreme fertility treatments. We were done.

I had no idea how final those words would be.

Waking up from surgery, my doctor came up to me with the sympathy face and in my haze, even I understood when she said they had to take the ovary that our decision was now set in stone. Being down an ovary, the damage caused by the endometriosis and the risk of its return if I am untreated determined my sentence.

Those who do not know what happened to my poor battered insides still ask the question, "When are you going to give Jack a sibling?" Or make comments such as, "Wow, that boy needs a brother or sister to play with." Then there are those who know what happened and still have the audacity to ask, "Well you still have one good ovary, right?" Um. It's not just an ovary issue, it's an endo issue. So, as "at peace" as I like to think I am with our fate, the questions still sting. They are constant reminders of how I can't have any more children and there are no other alternatives (at least ones that normal people like us can afford).

I try to recall and hang onto every moment with Jackson, all the way back to my pregnancy. I'll never get to experience any of it again and I never want to let go of how magical it all is. Being a mom is amazing and I feel so lucky to get the chance to be one at all.

So before you open your mouth to ask a mom any of the above-mentioned questions, try to remember that not every woman is a child making machine like Michelle Duggar and think about how deeply personal that question actually is.

November 02, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Halloween Edition



Celebrating Halloween... It might be just me, but the older Jack gets, the more fun Halloween becomes. We had so much fun with him this year. Of course... now he wants to go Trick or Treating every night.
We headed to a very chilly Emma Krumbees Apple Orchard to pick out pumpkins.
This was Jack's favorite scarecrow in the Scarecrow Festival.
Carving his first pumpkin. He was so proud.
With great power comes great responsibility.

A sad spidey looking at pictures with daddy at his school's party.

Waiting for his best buddy to show up for Trick or Treating.

Heading out for some Tricks & Treats!

Linking up for Boo In the Blogosphere!








 
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