Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Discover New Berlin

This weekend we went to the Discover New Berlin event at Eisenhower. I've never been and figured it's a free event right in our community so I should take advantage of the opportunity. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect but why not see if we can learn something new about the area where we most frequently are exploring.

The police and fire department were there. Ryan and I both learned about the crime report and how to get a copy directly to our emails each month. The fire department talked about how to put out a fire and we were able to demonstrate with a fire extinguisher. The fireman also discussed what fire extinguishers we should have in our home, where they should be located and how often they should be replaced. One thing I really found interesting is that some fires are caused by bathroom exhaust fans filling up with dust, dirt and whatever else. It made me think back to the last time I cleaned ours and that it's probably due again! Something I'll be doing today and should be done twice a year.

There were a variety of preschools there with information. This could be really helpful for someone looking into a preschool. For us, we have a GREAT in-home care and it's working well for our schedules. One thing I did notice is that many open at 7 am and close at 6 pm. While those may seem like great times for those working 9-5 jobs, that doesn't work for us. There is one day a week that we have to drop off at 615am due to our work schedules (I start at 6am that day and he starts at 7am and has a commute), so there wasn't an option there that would work for that early drop off. They did have some fun activities though that the kids REALLY enjoyed!

There were a few animals with JoDon farms. We had never heard of them but found them very helpful and kind. There was a sloth that we all got to pet! I've seen them in nature in Costa Rica but never up close. The caretaker of the sloth was very informed and genuinely seemed to adore the little sloth. She was talking to him and very sweet with him. They also had a large bunny and a baby emu. Interesting for sure! We'll be exploring their farm this summer and I'll give a full review then!

There were also a variety of businesses. Gyms, karate, tree trimming, hospitals, churches, insurance, girl scouts, summer camps, chiropractic care, etc. They also had a sign if they were hiring, which could be helpful if you were looking for employment. Many of them were hiring!

Why I am talking about stuff in our community in addition to being a parent? I often find that I go to blogs or various sites to figure out what to do with the kids for the day or where to explore. One of our favorite things in the summer is to explore different parks. There are a TON nearby that are great. Outdoor fun, fresh air, picnic lunches, playing, exercise, FREE, what more could one want? The kids LOVED trying out different parks all summer last year and are asking if we'll do it again. Of course! I'm hopeful that our blog will help others in our area to find some great places to explore too, while also continuing to raise awareness about raising funds for Camp No Limits AND awareness of limb differences and feelings.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Can we all take a pledge?

Isn't momming hard enough? Wait is that even a word. Lately, I've been feeling a little judged about a lot of things. Earlier in the year it was about me working and not being at my kids school enough... another mama judged me for "working and missing out"... I went home and cried. I opted not to say anything because this mama is truly passionate about being a stay at home mom. I finally decided it wasn't worth saying anything because I was heated and that wasn't the right time for me to voice my opinion.

Why did I care that she stayed home? I didn't. She felt truly passionate about it and was expressing her passion which to me came out as more of a judgement. Whether or not that was her intention, it still hurt a bit and stung like salt in an open wound. Hey more power to ya lady! Were they days I wanted to be home more? Hell to the yes! Were there also days I wanted to gallop out the front door and say "see ya later suckers, I get to go to work!"? Um also a big hell yes. The night after my boys decided to be ultra quiet and proceed to color each other with permanent markers was one of those days... how could I survive being a stay at home mom?

There are pros and cons to each... as there are with many things while being a parent and in life. There's often no "right" or "wrong" way to do things. Wanna do a sticker chart? Awesome. You do allowance? Sounds good. Your whole family eats organic? Fantastic. You drink soy milk? Great. There's an on-going joke at our house, Ryan and I differ on a lot of things when it comes to food. He likes ribeye and lots of fat "It flavors the meat". I like leaner cuts of meat with NO fat. He likes crunchy peanut butter, I like creamy. He likes soft boiled eggs, I like any other kind of egg except soft boiled eggs. Somehow, we've still managed to make life work for the last almost 12 years.

I was judged again this week about my dietary choices. I'm pretty sure whatever I put into my body isn't seeping out of my pores and affecting them. What I do know is that I'm making choices that are leading to a healthier me and I've never felt better (well not including when I was 22 before kids and full on adulting, you know when I was able to sleep as much as I wanted... prior to insomnia). Overall, it's my choice and it's working for me! Ryan and the kids aren't eating everything I'm eating and they for sure aren't eating the portions that I'm eating. We've had great dinner conversations about how mommy is working on a healthier diet and eating less sugar and stuff that comes in a package. The kids know I feel better because I'm eating less of that.

At the end of the day, I'll do me and you do you. To me, that means lifting people up when they are doing something that challenges them. I have a friend that runs marathons, not my style but she loves it, so I support her. I have a friend that eats all organic, hey knock yourself out sister! Another friend eats pretty healthy but doesn't want to give up her one can of soda a day, it works for her. A couple of my friends do fitness competitions, to me I have enough judgment but for them it motivates them, kick some butt ladies! Can we just lift each other up instead of tearing each other down?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Healthy living

I’m 3 weeks into this healthy eating thing and I feel fantastic… no really I swear, I do. I’m sleeping like I haven’t slept in 8 years. Instead of getting up three or four times and night and tossing and turning, I get up once a night to use the bathroom (thank you kids for giving me “the mom bladder”) and then go right back to sleep. It’s incredible. I’m feeling better in my own body and I’m owning up to the mistakes I made with eating and exercise in the past.

What mistakes did I make exactly? I would workout like a boss then come home and eat a sleeve of girl scout cookies (hello, I live with a dealer!) What point was the workout when eating like that? Well the point was that it gave me about an hour and a half of kid free, me time. Was it worth it? Hell to the yes!  It was for my sanity but it also wasn’t helping my waistline or the way I felt overall. I was still sluggish and tired and sleeping like crap.

What am I doing differently at the gym? Well I’m still working out like a boss. I’m paying attention to how my body feels and listening more to those cues. You know when you work with a trainer to push you to lift heavier or they give you the motivation for just one more? I’m able to push myself a little harder and a little further now. I still work with a trainer about once every month or so to be sure I’m mixing up what I’m doing and that I’m targeting all of my muscle groups. She gives me a plan and then I follow that plan until we meet again to mix things up. When my knees start aching on the stairclimber, I switch up my cardio. If my feet are killing from my plantar fasciitis, I try the bike. Yes, when you pay attention, your body guides you in what’s best that day. I still push myself, I still get a good workout but I’m really listening to what my body needs in that moment.

How’s the eating thing? No I’m not eating sticks and twigs. I’m actually full almost all of the time. I’m eating on a schedule and set amounts with the help of a coach. She’s helping me kill my nutrition goals. I haven’t weighed or measured since I started three weeks ago so today’s the day. I allowed her to tell me when to weigh and measure, so instead of just following the scale, I can feel the difference in my body. I’m excited to see if the measurements or scale show a change… I feel like they both will! I’m figuring out how to prepare things in a healthy manner so that they taste good and make me feel satisfied. The unreal thing? I don’t really have a craving for the sweets that I so loved before.

My self-control has been really good too. Why? I think because I was truly ready for a change. I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. There were donuts in the conference room at work the other day and though I cursed under my breath (who doesn’t love donuts?!), I didn’t eat one. There were cookies at the meeting yesterday and I chose carrots. Why? Because again, the craving for that sweet stuff isn’t really there.

How has having a coach helped? Honestly, I needed that accountability. I knew I had to send her pictures of my food or a food journal. I didn’t want to disappoint her and I knew she was working hard to keep me on track. For me, having someone coach me with the nutrition piece has been essential. Even sending a quick text of “can I eat this?” has helped me understand reading labels better (though most of my food doesn’t have labels now!). She’s also helped me understand why my body needs certain foods and how they affect how I feel.

What keeps you motivated? Any specific foods that you love? Has someone been your motivation or inspiration? I’m curious what others are doing and what keeps you focused! Share away, remember we are all in this together, having support is key!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Bad dreams

I went to Kansas City without Ryan and the kids. It was a very difficult decision to make. I fretted far more than I should have but none the less, I finally made the decision that I felt was best. I flew standby thanks to an incredible friend that let me use one of her buddy passes. It ended up to be cheaper for me to do that than to get there any other way.

I arrived and we worked like dogs. We sorted through things, we threw out a ton of stuff. There are shards of glass everywhere. We sat in the living room and then found more shards of glass on the carpet, in the furniture, on the table, in the lamps... it was non-stop. We went through as much as we could outside. We cleaned up the glass from my mom's vehicle. We did as much as we could with the time I had there.

My takeaway from the entire thing... you only have one life, the stuff is just stuff. Sometimes the "stuff" holds memories and you want to keep it to remind yourself of all the memories that it brings... but again in the end, it's just stuff. The memories are held deep within your heart. The moments you create are much bigger than those momentos and those memories are held in your soul. Spend the life you have loving and living. Spend your money on moments and memories, that is money well spent. Stuff can be replaced, lives can not. Hug the ones you love, I know I sure did! I've never been so happy to see my mom and Mark's faces to see that they were alive!


I'm sitting at a public place watching two women in their fifties stare and quietly talk about a twenty something woman. My blood is boiling. They keep staring at her for lengths of time and then whispering. My blood continues to boil and my heart rate continues to rise. This twenty something woman is dressed in what I consider hipster kind of clothes, she has messy hair, some tattoos and a few visible piercings. She's on her phone, minding her own business. She's not rude or inconsiderate. She's quiet in her own little bubble of the world.

Meanwhile, these two women start for lengths of time at her, then continue whispering. I wonder if the girl notices. I notice and I give them the side eye... it doesn't stop their behavior. They continue to stare and whisper, then stare longer and whisper again.

Is this girl hurting them? Are her piercings hurting anyone? Are her tattoos offensive to them? They are of flowers and designs, no profanity or nudity at all. Does her messy hair bother them? Is the hipster clothing not their style? A million questions run through my head. Have they ever been stared at and felt it or noticed? How did they feel? Do they think they are better than her?

I may not be wise or smart or nice... In fact, I'm kind of a bitch. Do I judge people? I try my hardest not to, we all have a little in us that questions things. Besides, who am I to judge anyhow? I'm kind of a hot mess. I've cried in public this week more times than I care to admit. I'm showered for today... but not always. I have no makeup on and bags under my eyes.

 I will share with you this, I won at being a mother the other day. Grayson, our sweet, mild mannered, compassionate five year old said "Mom it's okay if we have different colored skin. We can still love each other. You should just be a kind person on the inside. We are all born different." Listen, he may be small, he may be young, he may not have the years of wisdom that others do. I can tell you this. He is MUCH wiser than those ladies judging this woman.

Saturday, March 11, 2017


This week is historically hard for me as I've mentioned before. To add to it all, my mom and step father were involved in a tornado this past week. I was shaken to my core. My mom could have been taken from me the same week as my dad... but she wasn't. My feelings went into overdrive, my heart was aching, my stomach was turning. I couldn't make a decision to save my life. One minute I was traveling all alone, the next my mother in law was driving with me, the next we were all driving together as a family... wait should I just fly? No wait, drive? All of us? alone? Dear Lord, I was seriously losing my mind.... whatever part of it was left.

My husband said in the twelve years we've been together he's never seen me so indecisive. I could not make a decision to save my life. Then we made the decision to go all together. I started packing and getting stuff together. Packing for five is no easy task and then sending the dog to our aunt's here... It was just a world wind of emotion and action. I emailed teachers, adapted day care schedules, Ryan took time off of work. We were set. Then a long time internet friend reached out and offered to help. She is a flight attendant and offered to help with my standby ticket arrangements, which would be a ton cheaper than me flying on my own.

Things changed quickly. This would allow me the opportunity to be there and not have the kids to worry about. It's stressful, things are damaged, my mom and Mark are shook up, still in shock. Things still have to be cleaned up and organized. Insurance needs to be discussed and followed up with. There's a lot to do. Ryan and I couldn't bear to leave Grayson for his birthday without one of us. Having your parents remember and celebrate your birthday is a big deal, whether you are turning 6 or 36. This seemed to be the better plan of action and we changed plans.

Things were good and I packed my bag... until Bella was told. I've never seen my seven year old cry so much. All because her mama broke her heart. She wanted to go, she dug through her piggy bank, she begged and pleaded. I felt awful and ended up breaking down. Here I was thinking I made the best the decision for our family only to feel awful about the whole thing. I explained, I rationalized, I talked to her like a seven year old and I talked to her like an adult. Nothing worked, she cried. I cried.

Even sometimes what seems like the best decision may not feel like you did the best you could. I did the very best I could. I still failed my girl. We'll talk again when I get home. I did the best I could. Nothing I did at the moment would feel like the best decision once it happened. Life can be challenging... scratch that parenting is challenging.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

I see you

Bella often joins the parent who goes grocery shopping, it's her way to con us in to extra snacks and stuff for her lunch. 😍It's also some nice one on one time to chat with her about whatever pops into her mind. Lately it's been quizzing me about math facts, she swears I don't know second grade math! It's hard to fit one on one time in with everyone when you have three kids but this is something she enjoys so its nice to have her along for the adventure. 

Last time I went shopping with her there was a girl with her father in front of us. I saw a side eye from the girl as she caught a glimpse of Bella's hand. The dad was paying attention to the line ahead and every once in awhile the girl would look our way. Again, another side eye. She was trying very hard to not be obvious but to still look. My eyes never caught hers. She simply looked at Bella's hand then looked away... then a few minutes later, repeat. 

I continued my conversation with Bella, occasionally trying to catch the eye of the little girl ahead. It seemed to me that Bella never noticed. If she did, she didn't mention it. Usually she'll say something once we get to the van. That day she didn't. I didn't bring it up either. 
(pink hair, don't care!)

I'm learning how to react and respond in situations like this. It will forever be a part of her life... and mine. I've learned that IF she brings it up, we talk about it. If she doesn't, we don't. If I catch it in action, I smile so the child knows that I saw them. If the child continues to stare, I generally say something. I'm learning. Parenting is about learning. Either way, I see you staring, I see your side eyes. I'm watching my girl like any mama bear does. She'll always be my Bella bear and I'll always have her back!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Tutu and Papa

My mom is consistently making Camp No Limits possible for us and our family. She works hard to raise money every single year without fail. She's the one behind Bikers for Bella (and Harley and Chad too!) and helps get everything organized and set to go. She and Harley were the ones that wanted to raise money for OTHER KIDS and their families to attend Camp No Limits. She's worked hard to find the families and then reach out to the parents and offer to help.

She has a heart of gold. She does so many things for other people and is the first to jump in and help when she can. She cares for elderly people. She cleans houses for a living. She loves helping others and feeling like she's done some good in the world.

This week is typically a tough week for our family. Six years ago, I was 39 weeks pregnant with Grayson Ryan. My aunt suddenly and unexpectedly passed away this week six years ago. Then my dad suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Then two days later, Grayson entered the world and his middle name was promptly changed to John after my dad on my husband's recommendation. He is the saving grace in all of the sadness.

Yesterday, my mom (Tutu to my kids) and step dad's (Papa Mark to my kids) house was hit by a tornado. Adding to the already wild mix of emotions. Windows were blown out. Their pole barn was completely knocked down. There's a giant mess of debris in their yard, in trees, all over, there is glass inside their house, there's no power so their food is going bad and the deep freezer items are thawing out. I feel awful for them and for the people around them.

My mom will NEVER ask for help and neither will Mark. I'd love to be there to just do what needs to be done. If people go there, she won't tell them what to do.... that's not her nature. So if you are wanting to help them, just go, see the damage, pick up what you can. Take them some snacks that don't have to be refrigerated or a meal that they don't have to heat, or even a gift card to go grab some dinner. They are working currently on getting a back up generator as theirs was in the pull barn that was damaged. Once I get there, I promise to kiss all of your sweet faces for helping them!

In the end, things are just things, dirt can be cleaned, the aftermath can be put back together in some sort of nature. In the end, the things and stuff doesn't go with you when you go. It's just stuff. I'm thankful they are alive, though frightened and in shock, alive. In the end, that's all that really matters. Hug the ones you love, life can change in an instant.

Monday, March 6, 2017

"Mom why are you weighing your food?"

If you are friends with me on Facebook, you know I've started week two of my healthy eating journey. It's been amazing so far. I'd be lying if I said it was easy and there were days I didn't want to rethink what I was doing. It's challenging. I'm a full-time nursing professor, I teach lecture and clinical and have meetings. I'm a full-time mama with three kids that need 100% of my attention all of the time, they need lunches and snacks, sometimes three different breakfasts, homework help, reading at night, bath help and just love. I'm a full-time wife with a husband that I adore. He's handsome and considerate, kind and caring, outgoing and funny... and I'm pretty sure he was a singer in his past :) Life isn't always easy but it's ours and I wouldn't change it for the world.

For awhile I've been watching Bella's friends mom on her journey into health and fitness. Her posts are inspiring and motivational. She's a wealth of knowledge and wants to share that with others. She's not pushy in any way, she never posts about "Come work out with me" or "buy this to support me"... she simply has posted pictures of her journey, pictures of her meals and she's honest. I didn't know her well but after watching her for some time, I reached out to her and said "HELP, I'm ready, I'll pay you!" She responded back quickly and we met shortly after at the gym where she works.

She questioned me... why now? why RIGHT now? when can you start changing your eating? How will you be successful? What kind of support do you have? what motivates you? lots and lots of questions. They pushed me to dig deep and to think about why I decided that NOW is the time for me.

Ultimately, I need to take care of me. I can't continue to pour from an exhausted, empty tank that was often running on fumes. I want to be around to see my grandkids, I want to chase my kids in the yard, I want to show them that eating healthy can taste good and can make you feel good. I want to be the example for them. I want to hike without stopping to catch my breath. I want to sleep soundly and feel rested in the morning. I shared all of this with her.

Last night, Grayson asked "Mom why are you weighing your food?" I responded because I'm trying to learn how to eat better, just like you are learning about things in school. I'm learning how much my body needs and what my body needs to feel good and be healthy. He said "Are you making us healthy too? Are you weighing our food?" "Nope, I'm not weighing your food because your body is growing and we are changing our diets together to eat healthier food. I'm giving your body more of what it needs, like fruits and veggies and meat and healthy snacks" "Good job being healthy mom!" My eyes filled with tears and my eyes are again filling with tears. Why? Because my children are noticing my changes. While they may not be physical (yet!) they are seeing them in the choices I'm making.

That's enough to continue to motivate me!

CAMP NO LIMITS all booked!

This picture was taken just last weekend while we were camping. Bella and I were walking around the camp ground just the girls. Dirty from...