Lena Jane: 4 Months

April 13th, 2014 | Ann

Wow – it’s crazy that it’s already time for Lena’s 4-month update! She goes for her doctor visit next week – which will include her measurements and the next round of shots. If it goes anything like last time, Jay and I will have a really unhappy babe for a day or two. Now that she’s exclusively in 6-month clothes and Size 4 diapers, I’m curious to hear how big she’s grown!

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Lena is learning something new every day! Her smiles are so big and bright – to us, family and friends she recognizes, and even to new family or friends she hasn’t met yet.

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We had a big open house event a few weeks ago and had family and friends over to meet Lena. It was the perfect opportunity to spend time with a lot of people at once – and Lena did great!

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I dressed her in a little Minnie Mouse outfit – since she is my Little Mouse after all!

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Lena has started to discover Biscuit, our dog. He’s about 7 years old and has the perfect calm demeanor to be around the baby. He sniffs her out, licks her face, and tolerates her petting him and touching him a little bit. She loves to watch him walk around the room and play!

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She’s also started putting everything in her mouth – her hand, her toys – whatever she can get ahold of. She is fascinated with her own hands and what she can put in her mouth.

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She’s not quite strong enough to sit up on her own, fully, but she loves to be upright and see what’s going on. Whether she’s sitting on our knee or on the ottoman in the living room, she wants to watch everything!

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We got Lena a jumper and she absolutely LOVES it! She’s so curious to explore new things, she’s started to play with toys, and she likes being able to stand and bend her legs a little bit.

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We love spending time with Lena and watching her learn and discover new things every day. She’s making a lot more noises (no words yet!) and is developing a lovely little personality. She is a great baby – we are so lucky to have such a perfect addition to our family! Happy 4 months, baby girl!

Weight Watchers: Week 4

April 12th, 2014 | Ann

I mentioned last week that I joined Weight Watchers. I had a great 1st week and then stopped tracking for a few weeks. I had a few small gains in Weeks 2 and 3, but I’m happy to report a nice loss in Week 4:

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This month, our topic at the weekly meetings is “Is this food worth it?” – thinking about the choices we make – both planned and spur of the moment, and whether it’s worth the PointsPlus value for the food. My weekly booklet had this nifty flow-chart in it…

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This week, my goal is to be more mindful about the food choices I make – what I’m eating, and WHY – whether the food is going to help me reach my goals, and if the PointsPlus value is actually worth it.

Here’s to another great week!

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Surprise!

April 5th, 2014 | Ann

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Surprise! I joined Weight Watchers. I actually joined 3 weeks ago and have been going to meetings and following the program for a few weeks. I’ve been learning about PointsPlus and tracking and just trying to keep my head above water. So far, I’m down 4 lbs total and excited about continuing to lose weight. My next goal is 12.4 pounds away.

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I honestly wasn’t going to blog about Weight Watchers. But then I thought about what I’ve learned about myself: my biggest positive motivator is recognition. In my personal life and in my professional life, I’ve learned that one of the best things someone can say to me is “Good job; I’m proud of you!”. Along with recognition, one of my biggest constructive motivators is accountability. When I know I’m going to get on the blog every week and say “I gained weight” or “I lost weight” and “This is what I learned/tried this week!” – it keeps me on track, it keeps me motivated, and it pushes me to do my best.

I don’t know how long I’ll follow Weight Watchers. I don’t know if it’s the right tool for me. But it’s a place to start. And 3 weeks ago, I mustered up the courage, walked into the Weight Watchers center, and got on the scale. It wasn’t pretty. But as my good friend Kat reminded me, “Everyone has a ‘highest weight’ sometime in their life. So what if yours is now? Move forward.”

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For now, weigh-ins are Saturday mornings. I’ll plan to check-in each week and post my weight… I also want to track some of the good new foods or meals we’ve tried and what’s working. I am so thankful for this blog-space and being able to share my journey – yet again.

Have a great weekend, friends.

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Lena Jane: 3 Months

March 23rd, 2014 | Ann

Alright, I know I’m late with this update. But – we’ve been busy! I’m back to work, we’re working on a regular routine, and Lena’s getting into a consistent daily schedule. She just turned 3 months old…

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At her last check-up, Lena was 16 lbs and in the 97th percentile for height! We’ve got a tall girl on our hands, folks! Speaking of her last check-up, Lena just had her first daycare cold. It totally knocked her out.. Poor baby has had the congestion, the cough, and the raspy breathing. One night, her temp spiked and we took her to the Urgent Care. They checked her out, drew blood and even did a baby X-Ray. Thankfully, it was just a virus and they gave the OK for Tylenol. She hasn’t been too bothered by the cold, and her new humidifier is helping a lot!

This month, Lena has mastered holding her head up and has started to discover her mouth. She loves watching us eat and talk, watching Jay “blow bubbles” and make noises with his mouth; she also loves putting things in her own mouth!

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She is eating really well and sleeping really well, too. I keep telling people, I think because I had such a difficult delivery and recovery, we ended up with a good baby as a trade-off. She really is a good, good baby!

Lena is starting to smile a lot more and recognize me, Jay, and other familiar faces. She loves seeing her family members and friends, Betty (our daycare provider) and the other kids at daycare. She’s happy and funny, and she loves being around other people – pretty sure she gets that from her Mama!

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Lena has learned “peek-a-boo” and sometimes plays with us by burying her head into our arms, and then looking up at our face – over and over again. She also has started to hold toys and blankets herself and loves watching what we’re doing – daily tasks, like cooking, laundry and cleaning up.

As for us? Jay and I are doing great. We are SO in love with this little girl, and Biscuit is growing more and more fond of her. She’s so fun to be around and I can’t wait to see how her little personality continues to develop! Happy 3 months, baby girl!

My Moment

February 18th, 2014 | Ann

Was this it?

Did I have my moment?

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Yesterday, Lena had her 2-month shots. She screamed the entire time at the doctor – for hours, she was red-faced, screaming during vials, during weights, and during the shots themselves. Afterwards, I went to the drugstore for baby tylenol – but I bought junk food, justifying the purchase by telling myself, “I’ll be sitting in the rocker with her all day – I’ll need snacks!” I bought chips, valentines day candy, and donuts. I didn’t even buy baby tylenol; I was too focused on getting junk food. I sat and ate all afternoon, miserable for myself and for my baby.

Around 4:30, 2 packages were delivered. They were filled with over $300 in new clothes – clothes I bought online because my current clothes are too tight. In the spirit of being gentle to myself (remember my goal of Love for 2014?) – I decided I wasn’t going to fight with my closet everyday to find things that fit… I would just buy bigger clothes and get on with it. Some of those clothes didn’t fit, and I was shocked. SHOCKED! Could I really be THIS BIG?

Jay came home around 6:30 and brought Chick-Fil-A for dinner. If you aren’t familiar, it’s a fast-food chicken place. The sandwiches, fries and shakes are delicious – and reminiscent of our unhealthy lifestyle in North Carolina. We would eat Chick-Fil-A a lot when we lived in Charleston and Raleigh and to me, it’s one of the ultimate fast-food comfort foods. As I ate my chicken sandwich for dinner, I realized I was headed down a slippery slope – I was only going to get bigger. I was only going to have to work harder to burn those calories. I was only going to have to order larger sizes and I would only grow more and more unhappy with my size.

I finished dinner and asked Jay if it would be silly to get on the treadmill after eating Chick-Fil-A. He said no, and encouraged me to workout if I wanted. I spent 20 minutes on the treadmill (and ran for a minute!) and despite tweeting a photo and my accomplishments, I was disappointed. I knew how little I had done compared to how much I wanted to do.

After my workout, I sat down with a crying baby and asked Jay to bring me a box of valentines day chocolate. After hearing my frustrations with ordering clothes online that don’t fit, he (in the most gentle way possible), asked if I wanted some fruit instead. And… that was it. It sent me into a place I haven’t been for a LONG TIME. A place of motivation, of drive, of clarity to my goals. It was also a place of disappointment, shame and embarrassment – for my current size and unhealthy choices. I spent all night stewing over what happened: the junk food, the too-tight clothes, the Chick-Fil-A, the treadmill, and the candy.

I woke up this morning, hoping the feeling would still be there: the feeling of change, the feeling of motivation, and the feeling of desire for a healthier life. I lost this feeling a long time ago. Maybe it was after I decided I couldn’t run the marathon. Maybe it was when I started struggling with depression and asked for help. Maybe it just faded over time and I completely lost that drive and desire for healthiness I once had.

It’s hard to admit: I used to be healthy. I lost 50 lbs. I ran 2 half-marathons: the Red White and Boom and the Get In Gear. I ran a Ragnar relay. I bought my road bike and rode 40 miles. I met a personal trainer and a physical therapist and had nearly every resource available to me. I even hosted New Runner Nights and gave a presentation on healthy living. And I let all the motivation, the knowledge and the desire for healthy living fade away. Having a baby is NOT an excuse to stop making healthy choices.

I’m spending the day reading my blog archives… Hoping to keep this feeling alive. Hoping to realize how great I felt when I was making healthy choices, moving my body, eating right and showing self-love.

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I want my moment. I want yesterday to be MY MOMENT: the point in time when the light switch is turned on, when you round the corner, the moment when everything turns from black and white to color. Aside from the clichés, cheesy as they may seem, the point of telling the story about yesterday is that I want this feeling to last. I need this feeling to last.

Enough is enough.

No more boxes of chocolate, no more junk food because I feel sorry for myself, and no more bigger clothes. No more feeling bad about my size and doing nothing about it.

I know I won’t be perfect. In fact, I acknowledge that every day is going to be a struggle. I go back to work in less than a week, and we will soon be juggling work, childcare, time with Lena in the evenings, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. To me, it doesn’t mean working out for hours each day – it means a few minutes on the treadmill when I can, moving my body and being intentional about activity. To me, it doesn’t mean extensive meal-planning and “perfect” eating – it means doing the best I can and making the healthiest choices possible, whether it’s ordering a salad for lunch, or picking up a healthy dinner.

I deserve to be healthy. Lena deserves a healthy mom, Jay deserves a healthy wife, and my family, friends and co-workers deserve the best version of Ann – one who feels good and takes care of herself.

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Maybe this will be one of those blog posts I look back and cringe I even posted. Maybe in a month, or 3 months, or 6 months or a year, I will look back and remember this day: remember how I felt and remember how it changed my focus on healthy living. I hope this day will quickly become a distant memory as making healthy choices and having regular activity become part of my daily routine – not some “focus” or “desire”. I hope that making choices for a healthy life becomes simply living a healthy life.

The first step? A healthy breakfast.

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The next step? Throwing away the chips and chocolate.

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Waste it or waist it, right? Right. I can do this.

Lena Jane: 2 Months

February 17th, 2014 | Ann

First things first – thank you SO MUCH for voting for us for the photo contest. We won 2nd place and got 40% photos this year. Jay, Lena and I will be taking some family photos this fall – I can’t wait!

Lena turned 2 months old, and is developing more of a personality every day!

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1621704_10100668203147926_1470151758_nShe is smiling at us (on purpose!) and finding her voice – little squeaks, coo’s and noises always surprise us. She is also becoming more vocal when she wants something… her screams can FILL the house! She’s more awake during the day – which is both a blessing and a curse. I love spending time with her, but find myself more exhausted and drained by the time Jay gets home from work.

Speaking of work…. I go back next Monday (2/24). And although I’m so incredibly thankful for my time home with Lena, I know that I’m meant to work. I absolutely love my job and couldn’t imagine NOT working at a place I love doing what I’m meant to do. Plus, I feel like it’ll make me a better mama – to spend dedicated time at work, and then dedicated time with her. She deserves (and sometimes demands!) my full attention, after all!

Biscuit is becoming more and more tolerant of Lena. Jay and I snapped these photos a few nights ago when we were all in bed together….
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Lena is spending more time on her activity mat, and even interacts with the toys and mirror sometimes. We can usually get 10-15 minutes of her on the mat at a time… which is long enough to make a cup of coffee or switch laundry. She is also practicing holding her head up (although she still HATES “tummy time”) and her legs are getting SO STRONG. Our little baby is growing so fast!

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Today, we take her in for her 2-month appointment and shots. I’m looking forward to talking to our doctor about her growth and development and find out how big she is. I am not, however, looking forward to the shots. We’ve already planned for some baby tylenol (if needed) and for me to spend the day with her rocking and resting. Fingers crossed she doesn’t get too crabby.

I don’t know if I ever got a chance to share her birth announcement with you…. We ordered these a few weeks ago and sent them out via mail. It’s so crazy how much she’s changed in the last few months (she was only 10 days old when these were taken)….

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In regards to her baptism: Jay and I had Lena baptized at Gloria Dei last month. We were surrounded by family and friends, and it was absolutely lovely. Jay and I are attending New Member classes at Gloria Dei to become members. The church is welcoming, warm, open to children and a perfect fit for us. I know I don’t talk much about church on the blog – but having her baptized was really important to us, and joining the church has been a great experience, thus far!

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I thought I’d have a lot more time to blog when I was home on maternity leave – but the time just flew by! I’m looking forward to getting back into a schedule and routine next week; I’m not looking forward to the emotions that will come with dropping her off at daycare. I’ll do my best to update more – especially as I turn my focus to healthy eating and activity!

Finally – my wound vac came off a few weeks ago and my incision (and infection site) is nearly completely healed. I couldn’t be more happy that I’m almost done with this whole ordeal – I am MORE than ready to “close the chapter” and move forward. Onward and upward, as they say.

Here’s to another month of enjoying and loving our happy, growing, developing girl. Happy 2 months, Lena Jane!

Please Help Me Win!

January 15th, 2014 | Ann

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I love, love, love Mandi Johnson, the photographer we used for Lena’s newborn photos. Through Friday, she is running a contest for 2013 clients to win a discounted session for 2014.

As you know, I was hospitalized for complications with my c-section and a major infection after Lena’s birth and wasn’t able to be there during her newborn photos. Not only did it break my heart to not see the photos be taken, but Jay and I don’t have any professional photos of the 3 of us.

Can you please help me win a session in 2014 to take our first professional family photos? There are 2 ways to enter….

1. Click on this Facebook link (click here!) and click “Like” on the photo.

- Extra Entry: go to Mandi’s Facebook page and click “Like” on her page. Then comment on Lena’s photo to say you clicked “Like” on Mandi’s page. As long as you did, it counts as another entry! (If you click “Like” on her page, all of Mandi’s adorable photos show up in your feed… it’s totally a mood-booster!)

2. Click over to Mandi’s blog and leave a comment saying you’d like “Lena #7″ to win – this is separate than the Facebook “Like”s and will also count as votes towards us getting a session in 2014! Click Here!

Thank you for helping us – by liking the photo on Facebook and leaving a comment on her blog. I’ll post some more of Lena’s newborn photos and the birth announcement next week!

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Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Lena Jane: 1 Month

January 10th, 2014 | Ann

Last week, Lena turned 1 month old. Although I haven’t been home with her for 1 month, it’s still exciting to think about where she’s come in the past month – and where she’ll go in the future! Here’s a comparison from her newborn photo (2 weeks) to her 1-month photo…

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Likes: snuggling, sleeping in the rock-and-play, and filling her diaper.

Dislikes: baths, being changed, getting too hungry, having the month-sticker on her belly:

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Other 1-month items of note:
- Lena is usually awake from 6p-11p. She doesn’t want to miss anything! She loves seeing Jay when he comes home from work.
- Lena has been sleeping pretty well… we’ve had 2 nights of 5 1/2 hours + in a row!
- Lena has started to recognize faces/voices and has given us a few sporadic smiles.
- Lena is also starting to recognize the puppy – although she doesn’t know what he is.
- Lena has started using the activity mat – for time on her back, and tummy-time, at least 1x/day.

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- We’ll have a weight-check next week – I can’t wait to see how much she’s grown!
- Her eyes are still blue, but may change in the next 1-2 months. Her hair is still brown-ish and will continue to fill-in. Right now, it’s longest in the back.
- Lena has made a few trips out of the home: the mall, Target, to my parents’ house, and to church for a meeting about her upcoming baptism. She loves riding in the car (always falls asleep) and has done really well out of the house!

Overall, Lena is a really good baby. I don’t know if maybe The Universe knew I had been through a lot and blessed me with a good baby, or I just got lucky – but she isn’t too fussy, she only cries if she needs something, and she’s snuggly and adorable.

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Jay and I are absolutely in love with her and can’t wait to see her continue to grow and learn, day by day. Happy 1 month, little mouse!

2014: Love

January 1st, 2014 | Ann

2014: Love

2014: Love

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A few days ago, Kat, Angie and Brady came over to visit me and Lena; during our visit, we talked about the upcoming New Year and our goals or resolutions. Did you know…. 45% of Americans set New Years’ Resolutions? Of those people, only 8% are are successful in completing their resolutions! The top 3 resolutions people set are:
1. Lose Weight
2. Get Organized
3. Spend Less, Save More
Here is the full article with statistics on New Years’ Resolutions.

Rather than set goals or resolutions, we decided to pick words for the upcoming year – one word to focus on for the entire year – however it is meaningful to us. My word for 2014 is Love. To me, “love” means a lot of things….

Loving myself.

Loving myself.

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Loving myself could mean eating healthy food, having daily activity, and taking care of myself – physically, mentally and emotionally. It also means self-acceptance for what I look like and the person I am. It means being OK with the decisions I make and who I choose to be. It means being kind, compassionate and caring – because those are the traits I want Lena to see and know as she grows up.

Love is letting go.

Love is letting go.

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Love also means letting go of anger, hurt and pain. It’s no surprise that 2013 was a really difficult year. Not only did I not enjoy being pregnant, but I had a really difficult delivery and subsequent infection. Although I still have a lot of anger and pain from the experience, I can’t move forward until I can let go of the negative feelings. Bottom line: Jay and I have a beautiful, perfect daughter. Despite what happened, our family grew by 1 more person and my heart grew about a million times bigger. It’s unreal the amount of love I feel for Lena and how much I adore her. My goal for 2014 is to let go of anything that isn’t bringing me happiness and love.

Love = Less Judgement

Love is less judgement.

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Honestly, this is going to be the most difficult aspect of love. I know that I pass judgement on others too quickly – what they say and how they say it, how they look, what type of job/car/life they live… and it’s not fair. And it’s not a good display of love – certainly not something I want Lena to learn. This year, I want to take a step back and remember that each person is different and unique. Each situation is different and unique. Just because I don’t know or don’t understand something or someone doesn’t make it bad – just different.

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Showing love.

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In past years, I would have picked the word “create” as my word for 2014. But in the past year, I’ve realized the person I want to be – a person who lives and loves with a kind heart, a person who shows compassion and love for myself and others, a role model for Lena and a positive influence in the lives of people I know.

Lena and Jay are the loves of my life and I couldn’t be more happy with the life we’ve created.

My loves.

My loves.

Here’s to 2014: a year of love – loving myself, loving others, loving by letting go, and loving without judgement. It’s going to be a fabulous year!

Source: Our Engagement Photos, 2009

Source: Our Engagement Photos, 2009

Lena’s First Christmas

December 30th, 2013 | Ann

We had a wonderful, perfect Christmas this year. I was just SO thankful to be home after spending 18 days in the hospital this month from the birth and the infection. My family came over on Christmas Eve and my mom and sister took care of the food – lobster bisque, appetizers, cheese and crackers and veggies! We played games, watched tv, and hung out.

The next morning, my parents and my brother were at our house for brunch and gifts. We kept he gifts low-key this year – the main gift from my parents was the recliner they brought over after I was discharged from the hospital. I also got an Amazon gift card, a lovely canvas print from my sister’s wedding, some new workout shirts and the new Just Dance game.

The best part of Christmas was being home and being together for the holiday. I can’t tell you how wonderful it felt to sleep in my own bed, wear my own clothes and snuggle Lena at home. I feel so blessed to be on the mend and celebrating Christmas with my family at my own home.

Here are my favorite holiday snaps:

Meeting Great-Grandma for the first time!

Meeting Great-Grandma for the first time!

Our best attempt at family photos.

Our best attempt at family photos.

Biscuit and Lena <3

Biscuit and Lena <3

With her grandparents - they adore her!

With her grandparents – they adore her!

From the VERY talented Mandi Johnson!

From the VERY talented Mandi Johnson!

I hope you and your family had a very special and wonderful holiday! Looking forward to Lena’s 1-month update later this week, and a post about my 2014 goals! Happy Holidays, ya’ll.