Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Our Christmas Miracle

In December we went on my dream vacation.  My Grandparents, Parents, Bro and Sis-in-law, Jonathan, the girls, and I all went to Disney world.  At Christmastime.  Seriously.  My dream come true.  I may or may not blog about the actual trip later on, but today I wanted to tell a story that came about because of the trip.  Our true Christmas Miracle...

You see, I am a very positive person.  Nothing makes me more sad than being surrounded by people that insist on focusing on the negative of life.  Even with my "glass half full" attitude there are days when I wonder what this world is coming to.  It seems that people can just be so mean spirited.  I was thrilled when articles started circulating on Facebook and other forms of social media showing that people still take time to do nice things for each other.  Stories about people sharing their electricity after storms, or randomly paying for someone's food.  Little acts of kindness that to the person on the receiving end is anything but little.  This is a story that belongs in one of those articles.  I'm still so humbled that we were on the receiving end of such a kind and generous person.

It all started on the last night of our Disney Vacation.  We had experienced such a wonderful week and I was so sad that it was coming to an end.  We had returned to the condo fairly early to begin to pack up for our 5 am departure the next morning.  My mom asked me to take some video with our camera.  I went right to where I thought it would be.  It wasn't there.  I asked Jonathan where the cameras (video and still) were and he said probably in the car and went out to get them.  When a good amount of time had passed and he hadn't returned I went outside to check on him.  He was digging around in the car and my heart sunk.  I knew the cameras weren't there.  He told me he wasn't sure where they were, but perhaps we left them at the Hoop-de-doo Review, the dinner show that we had attended earlier in the evening.  I of course was in panic mode.  Our whole vacation, my dream vacation, was on these two little devices.  I begin quizzing him about the last place he saw them.  Was he sure we left them there?  Did we have them on the boat going back to the Magic Kingdom?  What about the monorail to the parking lot?  What about the tram to the car?  Goodness it could be anywhere!  First things first we headed to Fort Wilderness where the show had been.  They told us at the front desk that nothing had been found, but we still took the 30 minute bus ride to the back of the resort to see for ourselves.  No camera.  We filed a lost item report and was told to go to central lost and found at Magic Kingdom at 9am.  That would've been great except we were leaving at 5am....

Upon reading about the Disney lost and found system I became a little more hopeful.  There is story after story of people losing something very valuable to later have it returned to them.  After all Disney World is the happiest place on earth, right?  The next morning we called central lost and found as soon as they opened.  No camera.  The whole ride home my stomach was in knots.  All I could think about was all of those precious memories that we had managed to capture being gone.  I had been so excited to get home and  look at pictures, watch videos, and relive this trip time and time again.  We arrived home late Saturday night still with no word about our camera.  The next morning, Sunday December 15, 2013, our 6th wedding anniversary, I receive the most amazing email.  It came in though my blog and was a sweet, sweet lady saying that they had found a camera and believed it was our's.  WHAT?!?!?!  I couldn't believe my eyes.  Where did she find the camera and how in the world did she find my blog?  After a few emails back and forth we learned that they had found the camera bag in the parking lot of the Magic Kingdom.  It must have fallen out of the stroller while we were loading everything in the car.  She then went through the pictures.  Saw our last name on the shirts Carson and Jessican had made for us and the girl's names on their Minnie hats.  She googled and there it was, my blog.  She immediately recognized everyone from the pictures!  What a good detective.  I couldn't believe the time and effort she went through to find us.  She said that she knows how precious pictures are and after reading my blog she knew she had to find us.  On top of crying tears of joy knowing our camera would be returned I was also overwhelmed with emotion knowing that someone else was touched by Isaac's story.

Our camera arrived a few days later.  She had taken extra care to make sure it was all packed properly so nothing would be broken.  Everything was in perfect condition.  We had our pictures and our video back.  My heart couldn't have been more thankful!  My wish is that this story makes you smile and realize that this world isn't as dark and evil as we sometimes feel it is.  Also remember that no matter how small an act of kindness may seem to you, it could mean the world to the recipient.        

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Life Transformation

Many of you know and some may not, but Jonathan and I have gone through a major transformation in our lives over the past year.  Really it all started a little over 2 years ago when Jonathan started experiencing some "minor" health problems.  The first Dr. he went to basically said here's a pill, you should feel better soon.  He didn't really discuss any side effects of the medication or any other options. That was it.  An easy fix.  I on the other hand was not ok with this.  The nurse in me was waving all sorts of red flags.  After doing some research on the medication I was not happy with the possible and probable side effects.  Not to mention that the actual cause of Jonathan's symptoms was not being addressed at all.  He was basically told that what he was experiencing was normal, but I knew that just wasn't true.  We needed a second opinion.  The next doctor we went to (yes, I was THAT annoying wife that insisted on going with him, but I was ready to put up a fight for my husband) immediately told him "all you need to do is diet and exercise and I promise you'll feel better."  She wasn't very nice about it either, but I have never been so thankful for someone's lack of bedside manner because guess what... we both took what she said seriously.  Over the next few weeks Jonathan began counting his calories and running.  I started cooking "healthy" meals that at that time consisted of low fat cream of whatever soup casserole with Crystal Light to drink.  It only took about 10-15 pounds for Jonathan to start feeling like a new person and the symptoms that he had been experiencing were completely gone! He continued running and dropping weight and I (pregnant with Lydia) continued to cook "healthy" meals for our family.

Fast forward a year... about this time last year.  This is when the big transformation really began to happen.  Moving to the Austin area may be the best thing that has ever happened to us.  People down here are so passionate about being healthy that it is contagious.  Jonathan decided to bump it up a notch with his workouts.  He would take Lydia into the living room when she woke up (such a blessing to this mommy) and do "Insanity".  At the same time I was learning what healthy eating really means and how it effects your body.  I started to realize that healthy eating goes beyond fruits and vegetables.  It isn't just about losing or maintaining a certain weight.  It isn't just about what immediate or even short term effect it has on your body.  It's about your life as a whole.  It's about 5, 10, 20, 50 years down the road.  It's about what you want to feel like on your kids and grandkids graduation and wedding days.  It's about what habits you want to instill in their lives.  I had made excuse after excuse for not being as healthy as I could be.  After all I had had three babies in three years.  At this time I was nursing and anytime I cut down on calories or fat I would experience a significant drop in my milk supply and it was so frustrating and just another excuse, but I knew things needed to change.  

In March I made the decision that it was more important that I focus on my eating healthy than about Lydia having only breast milk for her first year like I had planned.  Now I know there are some that may not agree with me on that and that's totally fine, but after years of being overweight and feeling awful both physically and mentally it was time.  I started with the weight watcher's online program for nursing moms.  It allows more points a day as well as encourages more water and dairy.  I was able to begin losing weight and keep my supply up for a couple of months by doing this.  Eventually as more weight came off I had to supplement with formula and at 10 1/2 months I completely weaned her.  For some reason my body just wouldn't produce enough milk in the process of weight loss.  While this is not what I had originally planned I knew I was a better mommy all around because I was finally feeling healthy.  In May, my friend Whitney challenged a group of us to start running or walking 10 miles a week.  At this time I was doing zero physical activity, but I don't turn down a challenge so walking it was.  Before long walking become running and I started attending a workout class 2 days a week at church.  We continued to modify our diet as we learned more and more about how God designed our bodies and how he meant them to be fueled.

Since that time I have lost 30 lbs and Jonathan has lost 70.  I know that I could have lost more weight in that amount of time had I been more strict with my diet, but the reason I have been more successful this time around than I have with previous attempts is that it is a true lifestyle change.  I want this to be something that is sustainable throughout more pregnancies (Lord willing) and really the rest of my life.  For that to happen I personally can't feel that I'm being deprived of certain things.  I mean this city is healthy, yes, but it also has some of the best food in the nation and I want to enjoy that part of the culture here.  It's just all about moderation.  I stopped counting weight watchers points and now keep track of my calories using the "my fitness pal" app.  Right now I am 11 days into the Bikini Body Mommy 90 Day Challenge  I am still slowly and steadily losing weight (which I need to), but that isn't my only focus as it has been in the past.  My focus is on being an all around healthy person.  It's about being active with my family and enjoying the bodies that God gave us.

Now for the big question... how have you changed your diet and what do you eat????  We have gotten this so many times over the past year.  Everyone wants a quick fix and a list of rules.  Do eat this, don't eat that.  I used to be that way too, but now know that isn't the way to making a permanent change.  There really isn't anything that we never eat.  For us it isn't an all or none policy.  As I said before.  It's all about moderation.  We are far from being experts and certainly don't claim to be, but would love to share what this looks like at our house (and when we eat out).

  • To start with we TRY to eat as many whole, unprocessed foods as possible.  This is probably the number one step to healthy eating or at least it was for us.  Look at every single label.  If it has something that you can't pronounce or have no clue what it is, you probably don't want to put it in your body.  I feel like if I had really paid attention to this before I would have made these changes a long time ago.  For example... coffee creamer.  Just look at the back of the bottle.  I now use a tablespoon of organic heavy whipping cream and a teaspoon of raw sugar.  Delicious!
  • We buy and eat organic as much as we possibly can.  This can get really expensive, but is something that we have decided is worth it.  We actually gave up our satellite to buy more organic food.  This is one of the things I was referring to that may not seem to make an immediate difference, but will down the road.  Not to mention the food really does taste better.   
  • No artificial sugars.  This is something that we pretty much never have.  It's just really bad for you on a lot of different levels.  Seriously, google it.....  Look at the packaging on anything that says "light".  Even things such as marinara sauce will have sucralose or aspartame.  That's just completely unnecessary.  Also a lot of the fruit that says "no sugar added" will have it.  YUCK!
  • This leads me to the next point.  Limit traditional "diet foods."  Most of these are very, very processed.  We eat things such as real butter, uncured bacon, and whole eggs (Not just the whites or egg beaters.)  When you eat these things as close to their natural state as possible and in moderation they are actually good for your body. 
  • We limit breads and pastas especially of the white variety.  I do love me some good pasta with some fresh out of the oven bread so this is a good treat every now and then when we're eating out.  
  • Speaking of eating out...  we actually do quite a bit of this on the weekends.  We love to be out and about exploring the city.  We have just learned to make smart decisions when ordering.  Unlike what I always thought, don't have to order a salad to be healthy.  Choose grilled over fried and veggies as a side.  If we're wanting something a little less healthy we often split therefore we don't stuff ourselves with high calorie food.  
  • Water.... we drink it.  And lots of it.  A Dr. Pepper on occasion is a great treat.  We are also discovering good drinks such as club soda with fresh fruit juice in it to help satisfy that craving for something fizzy.  
  • Of course we incorporate as many fruits and veggies into our meals as possible.
There are a lot of other changes we have made, but these are the big ones and this post is getting really long.  I hope you have learned something and maybe gained some inspiration from reading this.  I really do feel like part of the reason it took me so long to make these changes was ignorance.  If only I had known what I was really doing to my body.  That is why I'm so passionate about sharing with others.  I will post more as we continue on this wonderful journey.  Thank you all so much for your sweet words or encouragement.  They mean so much to us!

Monday, January 6, 2014


Simplify.  That's what Jonathan and I decided we wanted the theme to be for our family as we entered 2014.  While we have already started the process over the past year, we want to continue to simplify our diet, our schedule, our home organization, and just our lives in general.  One of the ways we had decided to do this was to put our phones away more often.  For me especially, being connected to the world 100% of the time can be overwhelming and makes my life feel anything but simple.  Knowing this, you may not be surprised by my frustration and confusion, nearly to the point of tears, when over the last few days I have really been convicted to blog again.  I'm talking about a very obvious conviction.  You may be wondering why I haven't written in a while.  Blogging requires you to be vulnerable.  This is something that at one time I could do with ease.  I could share what was on my heart and mind with anyone and everyone without a second thought.  For some reason this is not the case anymore.  I have a constant battle in my heart and mind between wanting to keep our lives private and wanting to share it with the world.  In case you didn't know, people can be mean.  People don't always think before they speak.  Sharing any part of yourself opens up the door for a lot of criticism and it's not always done in the most constructive way.  This scares me.  I don't like confrontation and I don't like the thought of feeling the need to defend everything I say or do.  Another thing that makes blogging difficult for me is living in a world where everything has to be politically correct all of the time and we have to be "sensitive to everyone's feelings."  I am the last person that would ever want to hurt anyone's feelings so I tend to over think every single thing I write.  I am always afraid that I'm going to appear  to be bragging about this, or complaining about that.  Right now I have no idea what I'm going to write about, I just know it's what I'm supposed to do.  So you see, to me this is not simple.  Not at all.  It is obedient though...  Maybe obedience should be the theme for 2014.  What do you think?