Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Diet & Exercise vs. Nutrition & Active Lifestyle

I was talking with someone I've only known a short time recently about nutrition and an active lifestyle as an alternative to the dreaded "diet" and "exercise." And she said to me, "You don't understand. You're so skinny." First, it is my intention to be healthy, not skinny. And this picture is for you my friend. (Though it is not my heaviest, because at one point in my life I avoided pictures and destroyed ones that were taken.) I wasn't always "skinny." It takes a very conscious effort for me to look the way I do now.

Why? Because I LOVE food! It's the start of a new year, so everyone is on the latest diet or health food craze. But most of them just don't work in the long run. Especially if you love food the way I do. You do these fad diets and you lose weight. Great! But then you slowly go back to what you ate before and you gain it all back, and a lot of times you gain more. I eat healthy foods, yes. But if I try something "healthy" that doesn't taste good, I can absolutely guarantee you I won't be eating it again. You do have to remember to have an open mind though. Whole, nutritious foods don't taste like high sugar, high fat, processed foods. But just because they taste different, doesn't always mean they taste bad. There are so many nutritious foods that are packed full of flavor and are delicious! You just have to give it a chance and not dismiss it immediately because it is different.

Does this mean that I don't eat high sugar, high fat, processed foods sometimes? No way! I don't deprive myself of the things I love. If I want a cookie, I eat a cookie. Not 12 cookies, mind you, just a cookie. It is all about moderation. If you deprive yourself of the things you love all the time, you'll eventually go back to them in an unhealthy way. And the more you explore more nutritious foods, the more you can test making the  meals and dishes you love in slightly healthier ways. And you know what? The more you phase those unhealthy foods out of your life, the less you crave them.

And the gym? Yeah, right. I haven't set foot in a gym since college. And even then I only went on occasion. I take the stairs instead of the elevator. I park my car at the far end of the parking lot. I pull Audrey around on a sled outside. I go to a yoga class because I enjoy it and it allows me to be active in a way where I can focus on myself mind, body and spirit. If you love the gym, that's great! But most people force themselves to go, and don't enjoy it. And if you don't enjoy it, you won't continue to make it a part of your life. So just lead a more active life. The weight won't come off as quickly and it will take longer to notice the changes, but it will become a part of your life. Find something you enjoy doing that is active, and do it. It is as simple as that.

So please, don't blame the stress in your life or the baby you had or your busy life. You are in charge of what goes into your mouth and how much you move your body. Trust me, I have plenty of stress in my life. I had a baby and the post-pregnancy weight and body that went with it. And 2 years later, I am in the best shape I have ever been in. I didn't rush it. I didn't expect to have my pre-pregnancy body back immediately. I didn't even "exercise." I maintained my healthy lifestyle. And busy? I have a 2 year old. Enough said.

Yeah, I have good genes to work with. Yes, I'm healthy and don't have a medical condition that makes me gain weight or makes it difficult to lose weight. Genetic and medical conditions are a different story. But for most of us, all we really need are a few changes to our lifestyle. And those few changes may even help your medical conditions! Yes, I eat quinoa and drink spinach smoothies. But I put real butter on my toast. And *gasp* I even eat regular, nutrient void, white bread from time to time. Our bodies need some carbs! And unless you have an allergy, gluten in moderation isn't bad for you! It is all about moderation and being active and enjoying yourself. Because if the newest diet and your time at the gym make you miserable, is it really worth it to be skinny? Having been both overweight and skinny, I can tell you that the number on the scale doesn't make you happier. That is a whole different kind of work you have to do for yourself.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Audrey - 25 months


You are so full of energy! And this month you've really started to use your imagination when you're playing. Your new kitchen from Santa gets lots and lots of use. You love to make soup and sandwiches, coffee and tea! You love to run around the house shouting, "Action chugger to the rescue!" You'll also lay on your back on the floor and call out, "Help! Help! I stuck in the mud!" Or shriek from the other room, "Help! Help! There an alligator!"

You were never afraid of anything, but you've also developed a little bit of fear and jumpiness. Sometimes you'll run to me and grab onto my leg and say,"I scared!" for no reason at all. If someone comes in the house or around a corner and catches you off guard, you scurry to me and grab right onto my leg. You don't seem to really be afraid, but you're showing us that you understand a new emotion.

When we're not outside playing in the snow, you've really liked cuddling up on the couch with Mama and a bowl of popcorn and watching movies. Dumbo and The Fox and The Hound are big favorites of yours this month!

You love any kind of arts and crafts, including play dough! You repeat everything you hear, and have an unbelievable vocabulary. But every once in awhile, you remind us that you are just 2. While watching football with Daddy, he yelled, "Tackle him!" and you proceeded to shout, "Yeah, tickle him!" So funny!

Mommy's best friend had a baby on the 9th, and you were so excited to go and meet him. When we got there, you held him, but your attention quickly moved to other things. Mommy was glad Daddy was there to keep you occupied because she was loving soaking up every tiny little newborn bit of him!
Photo taken by April
We went to Maryland to celebrate Mommy's birthday for the 2nd year in a row. Watching you and Blake reunite and play together was so much fun! You splashed and splashed in the tub together every night and had us all cracking up! We went to the children's museum down there too, and you had so much fun!

We started seriously potty training about a week ago, and you are doing so well! We have hardly had any accidents and you are so proud of yourself. Mommy and Daddy are super proud too! We've been staying home most of the time and haven't really tested it out in the real world, but I have high hopes that we're just about done with diapers.

I don't know if I'll keep writing you a letter every month now. You are growing and changing still, but not quite at the rate your were. I might go to every 2 or 3 months. But despite how often I write, you are and will always be the light of my life!

I love you so much, peanut!
Love Always,

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Potty Training

The last two days have been frigid. With the wind chill, it is -16 degrees out right now! BRRRRRRRRR!

So we're taking advantage being stuck inside to stay warm and we're on day 2 of the no pants method of potty training. She's doing really well so far! We only had 1 small accident first thing yesterday morning when we had just started. And we had an accident this morning just because she didn't make it to the potty in time.

She has been doing pee pee on the potty for quite awhile now, but only if we put her on there. She would get a sticker on her potty chart if she went on the potty and she loves stickers! But it didn't seem to be motivating her to do it on her own. The no pants method seems to really be helping her to be aware of when she has to go, and she even went all by herself when I was out of the room once! (We've even been leaving her big girl undies off most of the time too, but I didn't think a picture of that was appropriate for the internet!)

Basically, she wears no pants or undies. We have a potty chair in the playroom and have been keeping her in that one room for the most part. Every 20 minutes or so, I ask her if she has to go. Sometimes she does and sometimes she doesn't, but it makes her think about it and be aware of it. And like I said, she's even done it on her own! Pooping on the potty hasn't happened yet. Yesterday, she went before we started, while her diaper was still on. And today, she was more aware of it, but she just didn't make it over to the potty chair in time.

This method definitely takes a lot of focus and attention on my part. But with hardwood floors and some Clorox wipes, I think it will work for us. If we had carpets, I wouldn't be so sure. We'll have to wait and see, but I'm really proud of her so far!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The BIG 30!

On Sunday, I turned the big 30! I spent my birthday weekend at my sister's house in Maryland, with her, my brother-in-law and nephew, my parents, my husband and Audrey. We went out for a nice birthday dinner, did some shopping, watched some football, and just spent time together. It was really nice.

A lot of my friends are or were dreading turning 30. Not me, I'm completely embracing it! I have never been more comfortable and confident with who I am, where I'm going and what I want in my life. That, to me, is worth celebrating!

I have a lot of really wonderful people in my life and so many blessings to be grateful for. So bring it on 30s! I'm ready and excited to see what you have in store for me!

And something that is definitely in store for me this year, is that I'm going to be a Titi again! I've known for awhile, but my sister officially announced today that she is expecting a baby girl! I'm so excited for her and can't wait to meet my new niece! And since I was down there this weekend, I used the opportunity to take some photos and create their pregnancy announcement for them. My sister used it today to announce her pregnancy to her friends and family on Facebook. Because it's not really official until it's on Facebook, right?!

P.S. Can we all just acknowledge that this is my 4th post in a row that is not about Audrey! Go me!

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Last year, one of my resolutions was to start doing yoga again, at least once a week. That didn't happen.

This year, no resolutions. But as I've mentioned, I am focusing more on myself. So this morning, I went to a yoga class. I took a couple classes in college and I have a few DVDs I like, but I haven't ever taken a scheduled, weekly class. I haven't really practiced at all since Audrey was born.

Have I mentioned I'm an introvert? I like stability and routine. I don't like the unknown of trying new things, especially by myself. But I got up this morning, put on my big girl panties, and went to this class all by myself.

And it was great. There were actually quite a few people there and I felt awkward at first. But I tried to remind myself to stay in the moment, to take this time to focus on myself. Not the people I love, not the strangers in the room, just me.

Our teacher started the class by asking us to think about any intentions we may have. I immediately started thinking about other people in my life, but then I caught myself. My yoga practice is going to be solely about me and my health and well-being. I almost started to cry right then and there. After a moment, she asked us to now leave our intentions behind and focus on our breath.

I was actually quite relieved to find that as the class progressed, I felt it all coming back to me. My focus inward wasn't quite what it once was, but I know that will come back to me with time and practice. She closed the class by thanking us for practicing yoga with her, and acknowledging the light within us all that we had just rejuvenated and now had to share with others.

And there it is. That is exactly my intention for myself for 2013, to rejuvenate and ignite that light within me. And I feel more confident about that intention now than when I committed to it. I feel like this class and this teacher will bring me back to yoga, and that my practice of yoga will be the thing that guides me through this year and brings me back to myself.

And now I'm actually looking forward to taking this hour and a half to myself every week. I was worried about the money, but I never spend any money on myself, ever. I am going to be out of town next weekend, but the Sunday after that I am going to buy myself a 10 session pass to the studio and go every Sunday.

The stretching felt great. I felt weak, but I look forward to the strength and muscle tone I will build over time. But most of all, I look forward to the time to relax, regroup, focus on myself and just breathe.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Fire and Love

My husband and I have been struggling in our marriage recently. That's not something I've really shared with very many people, and I especially haven't shared it here publicly, but it's had me thinking a lot lately. Last night, I was thinking about love and found myself comparing it to a fire.

When starting a fire, you begin with some sticks and build a base. Then all it takes is a tiny spark and a fire is born. It roars to life, large flames leaping for the sky, burning hot and fierce. It takes a little work to keep it going, but not a lot. If you consistently tend to it and feed it more wood, while being careful not to smother it, it will keep burning hotter. If you don't do the work, the flame gets smaller. On the plus side, if the flame is still there, however small, a little oxygen and fuel will bring it back. However, if you let it go out completely, you have to start from scratch again and it is a lot more work than maintaining.

Love is the same. You start with a base. You learn about each other and build a friendship. All it takes is a tiny spark and passion roars to life. If you do the work, the love continues and grows. If you grow comfortable and neglect your relationship, through too much attention or not enough, the love can diminish and even be extinguished.

I don't think the flame of our love has gone out for my husband and I, but it is pretty small right now. There are many things that have contributed to this. Without really going into the details, I can't lay blame on him alone. We both had a hand in letting it get to this point, whether through deliberate actions, neglect or complacency. And similarly, it is going to take both of us to make the flame roar to life again. I don't know if that will happen. We both may end up getting burned. Maybe we both feel burned already in our own ways. But I take my marriage vows too seriously not to try. And I have faith that there is a pre-determined path for us, whatever it may be.

Monday, January 7, 2013


I haven't made any specific resolutions this year. However, I came across this quote recently and it really seems to fit where I am at this particular moment in my life and where I see myself heading in 2013.
"And somewhere along the way she hung up the metaphorical cape. She stepped out from behind the superhero disguise and gave up trying to save everybody else. Instead, she focused on herself - attempting to save the girl that does all the saving." ~Unknown (I searched and searched for the source of this quote and was unsuccessful. If you know who said it or where it is from, please share!)
I will always be a nurturer. It is part of who I am. But I have given so much of myself in recent years, that I find myself at a point where I'm not myself anymore, not fully. I'm great at preaching that "in order to take care of the people you love, you have to take care of yourself." I'm not so great at taking my own advice.

Also, I love my daughter. I know how blessed I am to have the opportunity to be at home with her. I cherish this time. But I'm going to take time, at least once a week, to do something without her. I think by doing this, I will be more attentive and focused on her when we are together.

So this year is going to be more about me. Not a lot more, and not in a selfish, cocky way. But enough. Enough to feel whole again. Enough to be able to give of myself to the people I love and still not lose myself. I will value myself, and my feelings, and my general well being more.

Wishing all of you health and happiness in 2013!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Tea for Two!

Audrey turned 2 years old a week ago, but we actually had her birthday party before Christmas. I asked her a few months before her birthday what kind of party she wanted, and she responded, "Tea party!" I had a few suggestions prepared if she didn't respond, and tea party wasn't one of them, but it sounded like a great idea to me!

I designed the invitations and got them out in the mail!
For the party, I started off with decor. With her birthday so close to Christmas, I wanted to make it a special day just for her and attempted to divert attention a little bit away from all the Christmas decorations.

I made tissue paper flowers to hang from the ceiling fans and light fixtures.
I even made some little ones to put on the table with a vintage tea set of my grandmother's. There were also balloons, Happy Birthday headbands, and little toy rings for each of the kids to choose one of their own.
It was a tea party so, of course, we had a variety of teas! But we also had punch.
Lunch included peanut butter and jelly triangle sandwiches on white, egg salad triangle sandwiches on wheat, chicken salad stuffed croissants, clementines, olives, baby pickles, pecan bites, cucumber slices topped with vegetable cream cheese, and an apple onion tart.
The dessert table was the best though! There were more tissue paper flowers and a Happy Birthday banner. And we had many different kinds of cookies to have with our tea!
And the centerpiece of the dessert table was the teapot cake that I made with a little bit of help from my cousin!
Audrey was so excited to dress up for her tea party! It was snowing during her party though, and for a little bit, she kept looking out the sliding glass door because she wanted to go out and play in the snow.
But then she had lunch with her cousin, had fun playing with her friends and forgot all about the snow!
After a little playtime, it was time to blow out the candles! Audrey had been eyeing the little fondant ball on top of the cake since the day before. So after she blew out the candles, she thought for a moment, snatched it right off the top of the cake, and took a big bite out of it!
After cake, there were lots of presents! She got lots of books, which she loves! She also got a doll house, a set of pots and pans, and from Mommy and Daddy a camera of her own, just to name a few things! She is so cute with the camera and says, "Got it!" every time she takes a picture!
So we celebrated our sweet girl's 2nd birthday with a tea party that was a huge success! Everyone had a great time, especially the birthday girl herself!

To give credit where credit is due:
Happy Birthday Banner Printable - Anders Ruff
Teapot Clip Art - The Graphics Fairy
Teacup Clip Art - Sweetly Scrapped
Pecan Bites - Natural Noshing
Caramelized Onion Tart with Apples - Real Simple

Everything else was a little bit Pinterest inspiration and a lot of little ole me!