Diastisis Recti

Many of you mommies have an idea of what this is, or have heard of it.  If you’ve never heard of it, it’s possible that you may even have it.  If you’ve ever had a child or children, even if it was a decade ago, and still have your ‘mommy tummy’, this could be why.

Diastasis Recti is a separation of the Rectus Abdominis muscles that make up that six pack that you so desperately miss- or have secretly  longed for.   It’s technically defined as a gap greater than 2.7cm or 2-3 finger widths in between the Rectus muscles.  It is usually the result of intra-abdominal pressure and loading.   During pregnancy, the growing uterus stretches the connective tissue between the right and left muscle groups and occasionally it won’t return to normal on it’s own.  Nearly all pregnant women have this gap immediately postpartum, some correct on their own, and some do not.  I should note that it occurs primarily in pregnant women and newborns, but can also appear in men.   Pregnancy does not actually cause the separation, but it will make a problem worse.  Women are most susceptible, especially if pregnant over the age of 35 (as I was), having big babies, multiple babies, or multiple pregnancies close together (also me).   This condition can also be associated with or cause pelvic floor dysfunction.

It’s really easy to see if you may have this condition.  You lie on your back on the floor with your knees up and feet flat.  Place your fingers near the belly button area.  Tense up your abdomen and raise your head up, chin to chest.  You will be able to feel some separation between the muscles, it all depends on how many fingers you can fit in the gap.  Right now, I’m about a full 3 finger gap at my belly button region.  I expected this, as I found I had some separation after my last pregnancy and in the 10 months before my next pregnancy, wasn’t able to lose that belly.  I was still 10 lbs over my normal weight when I got pregnant with Owen.  I might add that after my first pregnancy, my body was pretty much back to my pre-pregnancy body, with no belly, at about the four month mark.

There are varying opinions as to whether this can be corrected with exercise or not.  There are even exercise programs you can pay for that claim to make a huge difference in your abdomen and close that gap significantly.  I have done a lot of reading on the subject and the majority of people, whether medical experts, fitness experts or just women who’ve managed to correct this themselves, seems to have a small number of exercises they recommend.   Most are centered around a basic Core contraction or Transverse Abdominis contraction that you practice and hold in order to strengthen your core area.  Once you master that contraction, you can add single heel slides while holding, you can add a knee raise, or use a resistance band around the knees and pull knees apart.   Squats are also said to help strengthen, as long as your holding the initial contraction.  This is only a small sample of beneficial exercises.  I’m not a medical or fitness expert so I’m not going to go into detail about these exercises, nor am I going to link one specific site for reference.  I’m merely going off of a consensus that I’ve noticed among the so-called experts.  I also have a good idea of what will work for core strengthening as I used to teach it on a regular basis, not that anyone could tell.

There is also a consensus on exercises that may be detrimental to the diastasis or even make it worse.  Any type of crunches, sit-ups, jack knife position,  and oblique twisting are no-nos.  Many types of pilates exercises can also make this problem worse.  

I’ve begun doing a handful of the recommended exercises (almost) daily and have been very aware of holding that TA contraction throughout the day.  I’m tempted to try out one of the programs that cost money, although most don’t say what you’re getting besides exercises.  I’ll keep at it and pray that I can even slightly correct this problem.  I really don’t want to look 5 months pregnant the rest of my life, and at six weeks out I have 20 lbs to lose.  I guess the other option is getting a tummy tuck, and I have no plans of doing that in the future.  Best of luck to all you mommies also struggling with your mini keg of a midsection.  Hopefully in the future, I’ll have a positive update for you.

 

 

 

 

Finally moving forward

I am so far behind on posts, it’s a little discouraging.  I actually began this post in December, lol.  While it is months overdue,  I had a lot less free time than I thought I would while I was pregnant.  I was working, have a busy, picky, non-potty training toddler, and basically one day off per week that I had to get most errands/doctors appointments squeezed into.   Then in much of my free time in the last few months, I was trying to get a nap in here and there.   That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.

I covered our wonderful pregnancy news in a prior post.  We were so surprised and excited to finally be pregnant again.  I was working in a small spa that catered to pregnant women, and it worked out perfect for me.  The spa was owned by a group of perinatal specialists, some of the best in the city.  The spa owner recommended one of the doctors to see if I became pregnant.  I actually saw him before my own OB, around 6 weeks,  mostly because I was an employee and had had prior losses.  They specialize in all types of high risk pregnancies as well as women with prior losses.  He felt confident we would get to take this baby home and was amazing throughout the entire pregnancy.

I chose to stay with my OB (love him and his staff!) and have him deliver me, as he did my  prior C-sections.  I would then see the specialist for all monitoring and ultrasounds.  That would happen regardless due to my advanced maternal age.   The specialist had put me on Lovenox blood thinner shots daily.  Those were not fun, but they were necessary as a precaution because I have 2 blood disorders that were found after I lost Isabella.  We never found a reason why she passed, so this was the best way to prevent any minor clots, which may have possibly been the cause.

Everything was going very smoothly.  Hubby and I talked a lot in the beginning about not being crazy worried or having constant anxiety through this whole pregnancy because that isn’t good for me or the baby.  What happens will happen, and we will do all that we can to bring this baby home.  We had genetic testing done around 11 weeks and were able to find out that we were having another boy!  A little brother for Max!  Granted, I cried the rest of the day when we found out he was a boy, but it was almost like we had to grieve her loss again.  My husband felt the same way that day, just sad about the loss of our daughter and a potentially another daughter.  The next morning we both got up feeling good about having 2 boys that will hopefully be great brothers to each other.  That, of course, opened up more talk about trying for a third…yikes!

As we settled into the thought of boys, and the many doctor appointments, we grew more and more excited.  I was huge immediately, had people guessing I was pregnant as soon as 14 weeks.  By the time I reached 32 weeks, I was as big around as when I had Max.  The pregnancy was highly uncomplicated.  I did end up with my fluid being on the high side in my third trimester, but at 32 weeks I began 2x/week monitoring and they just kept an eye on it.  It definitely made me larger and more uncomfortable sooner than I was used to.   Most days I felt great (light) in the morning, and by late evening felt like I had gained 10 extra pounds that day!

We were having a scheduled repeat C-section and the doctors agreed that 38 weeks was a good time to do it.  37 weeks is considered by most to be full term, but the specialist felt that the extra week would most likely (in his past experience) keep baby out of the NICU.  Around the 35 week mark we were able to schedule you for May 17th.   That would be 37 weeks and 6 days.  We were so excited, just a few weeks left to go.

We arrived at the hospital at 3:30, with the surgery scheduled for 5:30 pm.  That day was long for me, mostly because I was nervous, and I couldn’t eat or drink anything (even water) since 9:30am.  That was completely my choice, because the other time option was 2 days later and I didn’t want to wait that long.   We were put in a room right away and they immediately prepped me for surgery.  The nurses were awesome and had me ready to go in about a half hour.  The labs were ordered, now we just wait.  The anesthesiologist came to speak to us, he was very cool.  Then we waited some more.  Finally at around 5:15, my OB came in to say hello and ask if we had any questions and went over what was going to happen.  Ten minutes later we were walking down to

So Perfect!

the OR.

From the moment my OB came in to my room to say hi, I had been shaking.  So nervous and scared.  Even though I’d done this twice before they were both very different circumstances.  With Max, I had been in labor for nearly 24 hours when I finally went into the OR, and with Isabella, we were still in shock, I think, so I really don’t even remember much of that one until my husband was holding her next to me.  They began cleaning my back for the epidural and it was discovered that they were missing some of the blood work and had to call down to the lab to have it run stat.  He would not administer the epidural until he saw everything was good.  That made me feel good.  They called my husband in to sit down and we basically chatted in the OR for probably ten minutes before the lab called up with the results.  Then it was underway.

Owen Parker

Getting a spinal block is one of the most awkward, uncomfortable feelings I’ve ever had.  The pressure, not the needle stick, that you feel in the spine just gives me the willies.  I still remember that feeling from last time.  My doctor is amazing and walked me through everything as it happened and that really helps.  Gary got to sit in and watch the whole thing.  I had waves of nausea from the meds, which the anesthesiologist took care of right away.  I got nauseous all 3 times, but this time I actually was dry heaving.  So strange, being awake with you arms tied down and having no control over anything.  Things seemed to be going well, same as before.  The anesthesiologist kept checking on me, he was great, and he let Gary know if he wanted to see the baby being born, to stand up and watch.  To my surprise, he did.  I thought for sure I would see my husband hit the floor, but he didn’t.  He said it was the most amazing thing he’s ever seen.  Baby Owen was born at 6:07pm.

Our Rainbow is here!

He cried immediately but sounded really gurgly (is that a word?) and that worried me.  It took a minute but they cleared it and he was great.  Bright red baby with lots of really dark hair, just like his sister had.   They took hubby and baby to get him cleaned up and I waited to be sewed up.  At one point I heard my doc say something about a lot of bleeding.  They were having trouble stopping some bleeding by my pubic bone, so it took an extra 20-30 minutes to get me back to the room to see the baby.   When I got back into the room he was doing skin to skin with daddy which was so sweet, then I finally got to hold my second baby boy.  It felt so amazing and scary, and we were relieved and terrified at the same time.  That parental responsibility that never goes away was intensified by a million in that moment.  As was my love for my children and family.  This was a long and challenging road for us, but was worth every second the day he was born.

We now face the question from everyone-are you going to try for a third child, or a girl?  Right now, I think we are planning on it, maybe early next year.  So far we are taking this one day at a time and really enjoying our new baby while he’s so very tiny and perfect.  People think we are crazy to try again or have three kids and we just don’t see it like that.  These are mostly people that had one girl and one boy and decided to be done.  I know my hubby wants a baby girl and I think we should try for one and see what happens.  We are also ok having three boys.   The best thing I’ve heard came from my sister who said…No one ever regrets having a third kid, but many people regret NOT having them.  So if it happens, we will be ecstatic, and if it doesn’t, we will love our family of four just the way it is.

 

Max, year 2

So much change this year!

I can’t even believe my baby boy is 3!

Year two was so amazing and he has grown up so much!  We were still grieving the loss of his little sister when he turned 2.  It’s still hard some days, and it always will be, but we feel like we haven’t bottled any of it up and are doing well.

Silly little puppy

One of the first things I attempted after his second birthday was potty training him.  I really tried very early, and based on what I had read, I thought it was worth a shot.  I wrote about that here.  He did so well for a number of weeks, got to the wearing undies or shorts stage and did well, then woke up one day about 3 weeks in and decided he was going to pee his pants and he was not going to sit on his potty anymore.  After struggling another week or so, it was clear that he was going to hold out and resist me, so he went back to diapers and we are still there.  Not really a big deal to me, but I would love to be done with them.

His vocabulary really took off this year and he was able to communicate with us much easier.  That made his day to day temperament much more tolerable, for all of us.  He was using a lot of short phrases which have now turned into full sentences.  Around March the Mine! phase began.  Everything was his.  He didn’t go overboard with that, thank goodness, and moved on to more appealing phrases.  Some of my favorites through year 2…

‘Scooz me!’      ‘I chase you.’      ‘Mom, Daddy comin!’     ‘Awww,C’mon…..’   ‘I hold you’ (which really means pick me up)      ‘I did it!!!’    ‘Good job Mom!’     ‘I pooped.’      ‘Oh, that’ll be fun.’   When he gets in trouble he started telling us, ‘be nice to Max’ and occasionally would say- ‘I’m gonna spank your butt’- if he didn’t like being disciplined.   A common sentence we hear is-‘Gonna go bounce house, and tunnels, and trains.’  The bounce house is the playroom at the gym, the tunnels is the indoor playground he loves and the trains is actually a RR about a half hour away.   He says them all together at the same time like we will do them all in the same day.

He’s been loving his Daddy time this year, which is amazing for my husband.  We hear a lot of ‘Daddy, come play’, and ‘Daddy, no go work.’ He loves going to play in the park and loves playing with bigger kids.  He’s becoming more fearless, climbing, jumping, he loves to spin around, trying to jump and throw and catch different types of balls.

He was very into trains for most of this year.  He had a slight obsession with Thomas the Train for many months.  His second birthday party was Choo, Choo I’m 2.  Lots of fun.  After purchasing lots of trains, tracks and a Thomas table for him to play on at Christmas, he lost a little interest in trains and turned to Mickey Mouse Roadster Racers around the New Year.  My nephew then introduced Paw Patrol around his 3rd birthday and we are currently obsessed with that.

Another big milestone for him this year was losing the crib, and the binky!  We removed the front of his crib and put the toddler railing on around August, so he went a good 2.5 years without climbing out of his crib.  For an entire month, he never even got out of his crib, even though he was able to.  Everything in his room is secured to the wall, and his doorknob is reversed so at night we lock it from the outside so he can’t roam the house.   Sometime just before Christmas we put his big boy race car toddler bed in his room.  It took a little getting used to, but he did great.  Some nights he still doesn’t want to stay in bed, so he’ll crawl out and sit behind the door.  That makes me sad when he does that, because I know he’s tired and I just want him to get some sleep.  We got rid of the binky sometime in November, partly because the pediatrician and dentist did recommend it.  And honestly, it was time.  He was only using it for nighttime sleep, but I was dreading the transition.  Turns out it was fine.  I don’t even remember him crying for it.

17 weeks at Christmastime

Another big change in our house is that we are expecting our third child, another little boy.  He is getting excited to be a big brother and now he is old enough to understand (mostly) what is happening.  At the time of this post (I’m so far behind) I am nearly 31 weeks and doing great.  More of that in another post.

We  couldn’t be more proud of our little man.  He’s changed and grown so much in this last year and looks like a little boy now, no longer a baby-faced toddler.  I love listening to him sing songs, explain the pictures in his books or tell me what’s happening in the Paw Patrol episode.  Still so innocent (most of the time) and sweet, he fills me with joy every single day.

Secondary Infertility…that’s really a thing?

We have always been fortunate when it comes to pro-creating. We have been pregnant three times and were able to get pregnant the very first cycle we decided to try. I would say we are quite the fertile team, hubby and I. Then, after losing our last two pregnancies in 2015, one being a stillbirth at 36 weeks, we had to take a few months off to heal and grieve.

When we were ready to start trying again, it was actually a couple of months sooner than my doctor would have liked.  I had a 2nd C-section with our loss and he prefers about 18 months between births-mostly so that I could build up all the lost vitamin and mineral stores I had lost being pregnant.  We were not going to wait 9 months to start trying, we assumed we would get pregnant fairly quickly.  You know what they say about assuming…

I was losing weight, but very slowly, and working out again here and there.  I should’ve kicked my workouts way up in the spring, but really didn’t.  Again, I was planning on becoming pregnant again very soon and figured it was pointless at this time.  I wasn’t heavy, but had 10 lbs. to lose.

Each cycle came and went.  I was tracking them with a digital ovulation monitor and earlier in the year, had a couple  anovulatory  cycles.  This definitely worried me, but they seemed to get back on track by the time we were ready to try.  March, April and May went by, doing everything right and no dice.  Right around June I decided to start taking my basal body temperature each morning because that would actually show me that I had indeed ovulated.  It would take a couple of months to show a great pattern, but the temp shift was showing ovulation.

At this point, we had tried about 4 cycles and my clock was ticking loudly.  I just wanted a sibling for Max, before he became too old to really enjoy a sibling due to an age gap.  I was getting a little worried, because of our history of this being an easy task for us.  Suddenly, it wasn’t.  We were experiencing secondary infertility.  More than 1 million couples struggle with secondary infertility.  Basically, we had a child (or two), and all attempts after that child had proven to not work out.   Granted, it was a short time at this point, but is still the same thing.  I was paying more attention to my cycle than ever and for no known reason, we weren’t able to conceive.

The reasons behind this could be just about anything.  At 39, maybe my eggs were getting old?  Maybe my hubby was suddenly not functioning on all levels, or maybe he had a prostate infection?  Sperm count declines, eggs become not viable, or too few.  Was it stress from the want and need to have another baby after our loss?  Was it the extra 10 lbs I was still carrying or a thyroid issue I didn’t know about?  It could be irregular ovulation or scarring from 2 C-sections.   The not knowing in this situation totally sucks.

I had a really good idea it had to do with either scarring or just irregular cycles on my part.  We did have my husband do a semen analysis in July, just to ease our minds and get the focus down to me.  We figured if we were on our way to needing a specialist, that is the first thing they would ask us to do, and it wasn’t expensive at all.  It, of course, came back amazing.  I began doing acupuncture for fertility to help regulate my cycles and just support my fertility in general.  I was taking close to 10 vitamins/supplements daily to help with ovulation and egg quality.  We began using Pre-seed lubricant before sex to help with sperm mobility. My egg number seemed to be just fine.  Nothing seemed to be working.  What was definitely not helpful were the “you just need to relax, it will happen” comments.  I get it, just don’t wanna hear it.

Toward the end of July, we talked to my OB about doing some rounds of Clomid.  The goal of treatment with Clomid is to normalize or induce ovulation by taking a 50 mg dose per day on days 3 through 7 or days 5 through 9 of a cycle.  Some call is a super ovulater.  It can be used for women who are ovulating but having unexplained infertility, which was me.   I have read that the pregnancy rate is this case is less than 10 percent, but we had to try everything at this point.  He agreed, because we had attempted to conceive for 6 cycles, to Rx the Clomid.  He would do up to 3 cycles, then recommended we move on to a fertility specialist to get to the outcome in a timely manner.

First Clomid cycle came and went.  I wasn’t surprised, success rates are highest on the second round.  I was tracking my temps, I had been ovulating and was going to acupuncture before and after ovulating.  We started our second round in late August.  I was taking it cycle days 5 through 9 due to my age.  It’s said that days 3-7 is taken to produce more quantity of eggs, and days 5-9 are taken for more quality eggs.  Around day 15, I expected to ovulate and I did get a temp shift.  However, the next day I had a crazy temp spike and that pattern zigzagged up and down for the next 2 weeks.  I had never had anything like this before.  I was looking online for help and talked to my acupuncturist and it seemed as if this pattern meant that I likely didn’t ovulate.  Temperatures typically stay high after ovulation and mine were dropping every other day.  Who doesn’t ovulate while taking a medication that makes you ovulate???  So, I gave up on cycle number 2 and to my disappointment, moved on.  I began making my fertility specialist consultation appointments.

Sitting at home one Wednesday, Max was napping and I realized that my period was due that day.  I had no symptoms either way, and had just ordered a new crop of ovulation strips and pregnancy tests, so I decided I would take a test.  I did, got in the shower and almost forgot about it.   When I  checked it 10 minutes later it was blazing positive.  Two ridiculously dark lines, unmistakable.  I immediately took another.  Also blazing!!   I was in total shock.  Everything my chart told me was there’s no way you are pregnant.  But, I was.  I was so happy and shocked and scared.  My heart rate on my fitbit was skyrocketed for the next 6 hours, I just couldn’t calm down.  Here I am at 15 weeks and thankful for every day.

I absolutely feel for couples struggling to get pregnant.  It is emotionally and physically draining, it’s tough on your marriage and your husband.  Psychologically feeling like my body was deceiving me was very hard to swallow, especially after enduring the loss we had last year. Having two of my closest friends pregnant at the time was also tough to handle.  Watching Max get bigger every day and fielding the ‘you guys are gonna try again, aren’t you’ questions just broke my heart.  We did everything we could think of and are so thankful that it worked out in our favor.  I would absolutely recommend acupuncture to everyone as soon as you begin trying, if not before.  I do believe that helped me the most.  If we get crazy next year, even at 40, and decide to go for number 3, I will begin acupuncture a few months before we even try.  First, let’s get Max’s little sibling home safe and sound.  That is our first priority.

 

Long Beach fun

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This summer, we took a little weekend trip to Long Beach.  Max was at the beach when I was pregnant with him and again when he was 7 weeks old.  Since he is nearly 2.5, we thought it was time to take him to the ocean and thought he might like the aquarium there.  Boy, did he ever…

We stayed just down the street from the Queen Mary.

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The hotel was nice and had a kick ass breakfast buffet that came in handy each morning.  We had to take a shuttle to downtown Long Beach, but it was really quick and Max liked riding the bus.

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We went to the Aquarium of the Pacific and it was really cool.  He was amazed by everything in there.  He loved watching the little sharks swim around, liked any and all fish, and liked the penquins.

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We saw some pretty beautiful stuff there.  It was a really fun day.

Max slept in a pack n play in the living area and he did surprisingly well.   He sat through all meals really well, took his naps, went to bed late and slept at night.   He adjusted like a champ.

We ended up at the beach late the first day around 6pm, and wanted to see how he would do.  He doesn’t remember ever seeing the ocean and he loved it.  He kept running up to the water edge and letting it chase him back.  We couldn’t get him to leave.  The water was, of course, freezing cold.

We went to Mother’s beach, geared toward kids the last day we were there and he got to play a little in the water (he wasn’t a huge fan),  in the sand, and on a playground.  He also did not want to leave the beach this day either, but he was hours overdue for his nap.IMG_7495

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He got a paddle boat ride, a family bike ride, and a small train ride and he loved them all.

 

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We were so proud of our little guy and got his first major hotel stay under our belts.  Looking forward to many more in the future.

 

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My boy

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Max at 1 year

This is my boy, Maxwell Tucker.  He is my joy.  I cannot imagine life without him.  I can’t believe he turned two in February.  It blows my mind!  He is getting so big and so much smarter every single day.

Max was born Feb, 26, 2014.  He was due on the 17th, but apparently felt pretty comfy in utero, so there he stayed until eviction via C-section.  My pregnancy with him was very easy.  I was lucky.  Little to no sickness, not a whole lot of weight gain or heartburn, just some feet in my rib cage for a couple of months.

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36 weeks
36 weeks

He sat very high up, even after his due date, he never seemed to drop.  I had a scheduled induction that went nearly 24 before it turned into a c-section due to failure to dilate.  I just stopped at 7cm and no matter what we did, I didn’t move any further.  So, out he came at 8lbs, 6oz and this poor boy looked beat up.  Poor thing was being squeezed for about 18 hours, no wonder he looked so rough.  After a day or so, he looked a lot better.

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2.5 weeks old

Max was a good little baby.  He slept a lot the first few months (the 4th trimester) and he ate really well.  He wasn’t particularly fussy, liked being held by anyone, and was generally happy.  He liked to eat!  I could count on him needing fed every 3 hours on the dot.  This would continue until at least a year old.  He was a pacifier baby, aka binky, and still uses it for sleeping (and traveling, lol).  One of these days we will strip it from him, but probably not for a few months.

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6 months

Sleep is one thing that it took awhile for him to get a handle on, he was not a good sleeper.  He ate so often, even through the night that he just never got into a sleep through the night pattern.  Yes, I could have just made him cry at night around 5-6 months old until the pattern was broken, but I chose to get my ass up and feed my baby.  It’s just now starting to fade, all the memories of horribly lost sleep and middle of the night crying.  By the baby and me, both.  The first six months to a year is a cruel cocktail of hormones, lack of sleep, dirty diapers and pure panic.  It’s tough.  But you get through it and you want that little snuggler back.  This is why second babies come along.  Max probably slept through the night around 14 months and we were ecstatic!  It felt unbelievable!  Then around 18 months he went through another rough patch, and we suffered through that too.

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He started walking around 11 months, and it felt like he immediately ran.  He was saying  quite a few words by about 15 months or so.  Now he is using small sentences and it’s seriously the cutest thing ever.  He definitely enjoys communicating with us, and the dogs.  He has a little bit of a temper when things aren’t going his way, and he gets that from daddy.  He lets himself get worked up over dropping a toy when he didn’t want to or if his cars fall off the ramp.  It’s just something we will work on with him.

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The first 2 years were definitely challenging, but worth every second.  We lost his baby sister in November, but fortunately he was still so young that he didn’t understand what had happened.  We are working on another sibling for him and hopefully that will happen soon, I would like them as close together as possible.  But until then, we will eat this kid up, every bit of him.  He is such a good boy, most of the time.   Every day he surprises us and cracks me up.  He is a mama’s boy right now for the most part, but when daddy gets home he gets so excited.  I couldn’t ask for more from a rambunctious 2-year-old toddler, and am looking forward to teaching him new things and watching him explore the world as a little man.

 

 

 

 

 

DIY hair- feel free to try this at home

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I want it all.  I am blessed with mousey brown hair, much like the picture above.   I’m ok with that overall, but I’d love to rock fire engine red hair, or even pink or purple.  I’ve had red hair in the past, not quite as bright as pictured above though.  My husband would love me to have blonde hair.  I tend to be pretty pale in the winter, so having some blonde in my hair is usually more flattering, I have to agree with him there.

I have done some fun stuff to my hair, I had a cosmetologist as a roomie for a few years.   I pretty much gave her license to do what she wanted as long as it wasn’t too short and would be approved at work.   I even got to shave her head once!   Oh, Sandra I miss you so!  When she moved back East, I began getting my hair done by her good friend.

Alicia has been doing my hair for over six years.  I think I’ve only asked her to fix it twice, and once was completely my fault.  She told me it was gonna be dark and she was right, it was way too dark.  She retired recently to raise her boys so I have been borrowing my friends’ hairdresser.  She is really great, and I really have no complaints at all.  She’s pretty cheap which helps since I’m staying home with Max right now also.   So with my brown hair, I asked her to do some red and to lighten it up a little with some blonde.  I know how hard that is because one is darker and one is light, but she didn’t mind.

When I got my hair done that day I immediately found myself looking online for new hair ideas.  Not a good sign.  I saw many videos on how to DIY Bayalage your hair.  Now bayalage is different from ombre, but basically lighter on the ends, roots dark.  That makes hair easy to grow out.  I was already getting dark roots a week after my foils but with very harsh lines.   I first had to figure out what to do with my newly colored hair.  It was 3 very different shades with already horrible roots.

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You can see the 3 colors, and my roots
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This is about 1 week old color

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my search, I have seen lots of positive reviews about eSalon‘s custom home hair color.   It’s box hair color, but after filling out a questionnaire telling them what your hair is currently and what you would like, they have you choose from appropriate colors and custom blend it for you.  I was looking for a base color close to my dark brown so it would grow out nicely.  I chose a copper mahogany which was mostly dark brown with – you guessed it, some copper and some mahogany.   It came in the mail within 2 weeks and I colored over all of my previous stripes.   I was really impressed with the color.  It covered everything and felt great afterwards.

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Basically really dark brown red
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Turned out dark and shiny.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I went out a few days later and purchased my blonde highlighting kit.  I chose Revlon’s Frost and Glow in Honey.  It is recommended for dark brown hair which is what I needed.   One of the more popular techniques to watch is in Jessie James Decker’s video on youtube.   She has pretty great hair and has been doing it on her own for a while.   Her base is much lighter than mine overall, but I wasn’t too worried.   I didn’t do mine exactly like she does, but I used Saran wrap, which other videos suggested to keep the highlighter moist longer and get a more lightening effect.   I chose a day where Max would be at daycare and I made sure I had all my supplies.

I sectioned the hair off in six sections.  I tore up some Saran, mixed the color and began.  I basically brushed it on from about 1/3 of the way down my hair then rubbed the starting point with my fingers to blend it.   I made sure to cover the bottom ends well because I did want that lighter.  I was a little conservative probably at the beginning, worried I would run out when I got to the top/front.  I had plenty though.  Wrapping it in the Saran was difficult and I twisted it a bit which I wouldn’t do next time. It did cause some bleeding with the twisting and I noticed a little stripey effect when I washed it out.  Next time I would just lay the hair flat and put Saran under and over a section.

It took me all day – close to six hours.  It lightened pretty well initially, but I noticed a few flaws and needed to add more to the back, so I did a second process while the color was still good.  Doing the back was difficult so I would recommend having a friend help you out.  Doing it twice is why it took me so long.  IMG_7230 IMG_7231

As you can see from the dark reddish brown photo above, it lightened up quite a bit.  Most of the ends are blonde.  It did do a little damage to the ends so I’m doing a lot of deep conditioning and it’s working out nicely.   The next time I lighten it, which will be awhile, I will probably have a toner ready to put on it.  I had planned to get one, then decided to see how it came out, and felt that I didn’t really need it.  With the reddish base, I had some orange-y tones, but not too brassy.

I wish I had a better pic when I had it fixed or curled a bit, but you get the overall effect.  I’m pretty satisfied with my $25 at home hair and will continue with it for a while.  The bayalage look may be heading out of style, but I’m ok being a busy mom a couple of years out of date.  What’s most important is that I didn’t burn my hair off completely, and I got a nice, lightened effect for summer.  Best of luck should you give it a try, I would love to see feedback from anyone using these products.

I gotta say, I’m a fan

I love Lebron James.  I do.  I’m not a bandwagon-er, nor do I care what team he plays for.  I’m not really even a big basketball fan, but the playoffs are always interesting.  I’m from Ohio, so I’ve been very aware of Lebron since he was in High School in Akron.  So phenomenal, words can’t really describe him.

 

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

I’ve always loved watching him play.  He’s very dynamic on the floor and takes charge of the game.  He pretty much plays every position due to his sheer athleticism.   Plus, he’s goofy, honest, and reminds me of a big kid.  I have friends that have met him and said he was very kind and thoughtful in their situation.   He’s entertaining in many different ways and dominant in the NBA.

I’ve been following his career since high school, where he jumped from directly into the NBA.  Cleveland was lucky enough to suck and be able to draft him as the #1 pick,  keeping him in his own hometown!  He seemed very pleased to stay in Ohio also.  Fast forward a few years and as his team got better each year, he signed on extra years in Cleveland.

The big issue in Cleveland is the supporting cast.  He didn’t have any.  These are the years that everyone began comparing Lebron to Jordan.  The biggest difference  between the two is Scottie Pippin.  Lebron never had a second man in Cleveland.  This is the most important factor as to why they never won a championship despite making the finals.  Every team that wins a NBA Championship has more than one player doing all the work.  And Cleveland fans began to be very critical of the best player in the NBA.  Not surprising.

So, he stays 7 years voluntarily in Cleveland and decides to make a change.  Here’s where the burning jerseys come into play.  He chose to go to the Miami Heat and play with his buddy Dwayne Wade-also a favorite of mine.  It was a smart business decision, and The Decision, the way he went about it was unnecessary.  I will agree to that.  But the man is at the top of the sport and he needed to win championships, so off he went.  I thought it was a great choice.  I’ve never seen so many angry fans!  I mean the Browns were insulting them every year, so this took this city off the ledge.  I think they were lucky to keep him that long, given there was little to no supporting cast for him.

In Miami, he plays 4 years (I think) and wins 2 championships.  Wade and Bosch absolutely stepped up and helped out when he might not have been playing his superstar level at times.  Let’s not forget that he’s a human being.  Plus, how great would it be to play with your best bud?  After lots of wins there,  he’s ready to move on again.

He made the decision to return to Cleveland.  I’ve never seen so many hypocrites in one place in my life!  I wish they all had to wear their old charred, burned jerseys now.  All of a sudden, look who’s supporting the best player again?  Ugh.  I’m a little annoyed that he chose to go back, they don’t deserve him.

In the past two seasons back in his home state, there’s been tons of speculation about who is actually running the team.  Who really cares?  If he wants to choose the coach, why not?  He’s the key to your franchise winning, and you know that.  If you think Jordan or Kobe’s opinions weren’t taken into account at the pinnacle of their careers, then you are naive.  I’m over the exaggeration of him running everything.  Superstars do that all the time across many sports, and the media blows it all up for no real reason.

He’s been very successful so far back in Cleveland.  And you will not see crazier fans.  After losing in the finals last year, they are on the verge of heading there again later this week.  And with Golden State struggling in their series, Cleveland has a great chance of winning the finals this year.  The West is stronger than the East, but I think this year is clutch.  It might take a superhero, I hope Lebron plays phenomenal.   What it will absolutely take is his supporting cast stepping up (Kevin Love) not sitting out entire quarters.   Sorry, but he twisted his ankle tripping on a referee last week.   C’mon man.  If they aren’t able to help out and step up the way Wade and Bosch did, then they will lose again.

I am hopeful that they get the job done, but only because I’m a big fan of James and he deserves another championship.   I won’t even begin my argument for why he is better than Jordan, that’s a whole other post.  My husband vehemently disagrees with me on that one, so when Lebron wins I like to bring it up and ruffle his feathers.

The Finals series this year has been interesting to say the least.  The Cavs expecting a sweep, then losing twice to the Raptors.  The crotch kicking/suspension issue.  The fact that Golden State, who was untouchable last year, is on the verge of elimination.  Should be an interesting couple of weeks in NBA action.   Now if I can only keep my TV off of Disney junior long enough to catch most of a game, I’ll be happy.  Time to set the DVR…

 

 

Giving Paleo* A Go

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Being home has given me some extra time to devote to cooking.  Granted, most days I’m home with a 2 year old, but I can still make time to get something accomplished.  I’m impatiently waiting for these last 15 lbs to drop off magically and wanted to try something new.  This week I began making a few new recipes…

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m not a good dieter.  I was very strict for a couple months this winter and was able to lose about 10 lbs.  And then I plateaued.  It’s been months since I lost even a few pounds.  I just don’t do well with strict diet regimens or gym schedules.  I prefer to go to the gym when I feel ready, not at an assigned time.  A lot of people really need an appointment or to meet a friend or they won’t go, but I will go on my own.   I feel like hubs and I have fallen into a chicken and frozen steamer vegetable every single night kind of thing.  That’s ok for him, but I need some flavor and variety in my life!  I wanted to start cooking some healthy meals and thought I would give (*modified) Paleo a go.

One of the websites I like so far is Paleogrubs.com .   They have a nice 14 day starter menu for ideas and many of them look appetizing.   They do a great job of simply explaining the basis of a Paleo diet.  It’s also been called the Caveman diet and is used widely by many Crossfit devotees.  It definitely works for those folks… So, the quick and dirty is that it is based off of Paleolithic times when they hunted meat and gathered  vegetables, fruit,  seeds and nuts that the earth provided.   It shuns any modernized or refined foods or farmed foods such as grains, legumes, dairy and sugar.   The rationale behind eating this way is that our modern diet is part of the reason we have a health crisis and is likely to blame for many ailments that are truly preventable.  Returning back to the most basic diet should help restore overall health.

There are so many diets to try out there, I couldn’t even begin to touch them all.  I will never forget being at work and every few months there would be a new diet that’s all the rage.  And everyone wanted to try it.  Most people would drop weight, sometimes really quick, sometimes they dropped a lot, but many of those people would put it all back on and more.  That’s pretty typical of our society in general I think.   There’s Atkins, HCG, juice diets, the South Beach Diet, Weight Watchers.  Who doesn’t like quick results after all?

These diets all work, but not usually for very long.  So I guess when I say I’ll try the Paleo diet, I mean I’ll try some Paleo recipes.  I will still eat yogurt and cheese and the occasional (entire) pint of Ben & Jerry’s.  I have to try out the new flavors, right?  Unfortunately, they aren’t part of the Paleo lifestyle.  I picked out some meals to try this week and went shopping on Tuesday morning.  So far I’ve really liked 2 of the 3 recipes, and my husband did also.

The first recipe I tried was a Sausage and Kale “Pasta” CasseroleIMG_7260Spaghetti squash steps in for pasta in this recipe and it had really great flavor and texture.  I’ve only made spaghetti squash once or twice but it’s so good, and pretty easy.   I need to keep it on my regular shopping list for sure.   When Max went down for his nap I prepped everything.  I roasted the squash so it was ready to shred, sliced my red onion and chopped up some kale.  I put it all in the fridge to pull out later.   I followed this recipe pretty much to a T, using Italian sausage links.  When hubby came home I was able to put it all together in one big skillet, then dump it back into the glass dish I roasted the squash in.   This meal had great flavor, but it could easily be more spicy if that’s what you like.   I had mine with a nice Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, always a nice light addition when the weather gets warm.

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Homeade Gluten-Free Energy Bars

One of the first things I look for when I try new food is what type of desserts I’m ‘allowed’ to have.  I have a serious sweet tooth and I need to tame the beast from time to time.  Ok, most of the time.  I saw the recipe for their energy bars and it sounded simple and delicious.  These bars have 5 ingredients and I had 4 of them on hand already.   They are also gluten-free and very easy to put together, or at least they should have been.

After fighting with my food processor for 20 minutes I realized I was putting it together wrong.  That shows you how long it’s been since I’ve used it.   One thing I will do next time I make them is grind the almonds up first, then add the stickier stuff.  The combination of hard almonds and sticky dates kept causing my blade to jump off.

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The bars before I cut them down the center

I actually started it in my Magic Bullet, getting everything ground up a little and finished them in the food processor.  An extra step, but really no big deal.   This made about 12 bars maybe slightly smaller than an Atkins snack bar and should last me a whole week.  And thanks to the dark chocolate chips they are very satisfying.

There’s nothing more annoying when trying new recipes than a million reviews that say how amazing it is, only to make the dish and find out it tastes like cardboard.  Both of these recipes really turned out great and had a lot of flavor. I’m very happy with the recipes I’ve tried so far and excited to try some new ones later this week.   Give them a try and let me know what you think!

 

Those last 15 pounds

 

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It’s time to make a change.  I’m not a dieter, never have been.  When a little weight creeps on, I go to the gym and bust my butt-literally.  That’s how I’ve always done it and it’s worked for me.  Now that I’m in my (eek) very late 30’s, this isn’t as easy as it once was.  I feel like we are in an eating rut and I want to get out of it.  I have a few friends that eat Paleo and I know it has some great benefits.

I’m a little heavy right now for me, I gained close to 30 lbs during my last pregnancy.  Six months later, I’m still almost 15 lbs over my normal weight.  I can attribute this to age, grief after losing the baby, less time to exercise, etc.  The bottom line is that I took the weight off after Max without too much effort-most of that I attribute to breastfeeding.   That’s really the major difference for my body with the two pregnancies, but the second one I also put on about 10 extra lbs.

I spent a lot of time after baby recovering, more emotionally than physically.  The emotional scars of losing her will always be there, I am a different person and mother now.   I am definitely a comfort eater, and I have a sweet tooth like no one I’ve ever known (outside of my mom and sisters).  I will be the last person you hear say, “that’s too rich/sweet for me, I can’t eat very much”.  Umm, no.  I consider this one of my hidden superhero powers.   There was definitely some depression going on here for a few months.

plank-1327256_1280Then I started realizing how uncomfortable I felt in my clothes, getting dressed, going out.  How long was I going to wear maternity clothes?  So I started doing the Atkins low carb diet and easily dropped the first 10 lbs.  Then I plateaued, big time.  I’ve been at the same weight for about 2 months.  I have been going to the gym usually 2x/week sometimes more, working out with a trainer, walking Max to the park constantly.  The only changes I saw were my shoulders and legs started to come back and get some definition back.  That I was very happy about.   My midsection though, I look 5 months pregnant right now!  I need to make a change.

Running has always been my thing, I still love it.  Except when I’m 15 lbs overweight.  I began jogging when I had the time and it felt good.  I ‘fired’ my trainer recently to focus on more cardio.  I was lifting heavy with him for a full hour, and it got my strength back, but I need to incorporate more calorie burning for my body to drop midsection weight.  I only have so much time at the gym and I need to spend it better.  I will still lift weights on my own,  I’ve always responded well to weight training since I’m on the more muscular side.

This week I started trying to focus more on being active and meal planning.   My husband got me a Fit Bit Charge HR for Mother’s Day and I really like it.  I don’t always hit my 10,000 step goal, but some days I hit it by 3pm.   I just wish it was waterproof, that would be easier.  I plan on doing the gym 3-4 days, I did a Plyometrics video yesterday and will probably do a Legs video tomorrow while Max naps.  Definitely running at the gym, since it’s getting too hot already outside for me to run.  I guess I could get up and go really early with Max in the stroller, but not sure how that would go.  He would probably love it actually.  I’ll put it on the list…carrot-1085063_1280

As far as diet goes, my hubby and I follow a fairly low carb diet in general.  Being female, I tend to eat more carbs, chocolate, sweets here and there and it actually drives him insane.  I just refuse to go through life eating chicken and broccoli every damn day.  He can literally eat the same thing everyday for 2-3 weeks and not blink an eye.  I can do it 2-3 days maybe.  I’m not working right now so I decided to do some meal planning each week and see how that works.  I decided to try some Paleo recipes and see how I like it.  Well, I’ll call it modified Paleo, since I will continue to eat some cheese and yogurt.  Because it is no grains, it’s on the low carb side, but allows lots of veggies and fruits.  That’s very important to me while trying to get pregnant, I don’t want to be too restrictive right now.   Although I’m taking tons of vitamins every day, I need to be able to eat lots of fruits and vegetables for proper nutrition.

running-573762_1280I’m gonna work on these last 15 lbs slowly while waiting to fall pregnant (fingers crossed).  I am determined to stay really active through the pregnancy also.  I started trying a few Paleo recipes this week and am really liking them.  I’ll post about that soon.   Because I’m doing a more modified type of Paleo and because it’s not a super restrictive diet,  I don’t expect to drop a bunch of weight.  I believe there are many benefits to cutting out grains in general and I think the running is what will help me out the most.  Everyone knows the last 10 lbs are the hardest to lose, and I am living that nightmare right now.  But with some hard work, I know I can get to a healthier place and feel better.