Happy Birthday to Me!

Thanks to everyone for all the love today and always!

38 is Great (Well so Far!)

Today was how birthdays should be — the sun comes out, your favorite songs play on the radio and people spoil you kind of day.

Growing up, my mom always made a big deal about birthdays, and that’s stuck with me. I always celebrate the same way…by taking the day off to enjoy a massage, good coffee and food with people I love, journaling and knocking out a nagging project on my to-do list.

So what’s this year’s nagging project you may ask? Ahem, you’re reading it.

For years I’ve felt pulled to start a lifestyle blog. I love writing, inspiring and helping others and documenting memories. There’s just been one problem — and a BIG one. When on Earth was I going to find time for this when I can’t even keep up with the laundry, kids, work, LIFE?! Turns out that wasn’t the only problem. A real problem has been that I have had the time….I just haven’t had the time to do it the way I’d wanted…optimized with great/edited photos, etc. And honestly a part of me feels like I’m back in my tweens letting you all read my lock-and-key diary of my raw thoughts.

Taking a leap..Done is better than perfect!

Buuuut, today is someday. And even though I really want to just crawl in bed on a rare night I have “off” while my sis has my kids, today I’m making it happen.

This spoke to me as I was about to embark on a new career opportunity a couple of years ago. It sits on my desk as my bravery reminder.

Today is someday. Live your best life. Be vulnerable. Make imperfect progress. Deep breath. 5-4-3-2-1….Go!

These have been some of my mantras for the past couple of years as I’ve pushed myself outside of my comfort zone to take hold of the life of my dreams. And I’m clinging to them as I put myself out “there”, here.

So this. is. happening!!!

In the years to come, I hope to look back on this step forward as I now do in other areas of my life. I used to think to myself, “I want to be like those women who read devotions on their porches at sunrise with foamy lattes.” And then I thought, “So do it, silly.” That was an easy one!

I center myself with a quick 7-20 minute (usually 10) Down Dog Yoga practice (which I highly recommend checking out). This has been a ritual that I’ve enjoyed so much that I refinished my deck and bought a fancy schmancy milk frother to make it even better. It’s like brushing my teeth. I feel “off” when I don’t start my days like this. And actually, some of my favorite memories are my yoga/devotion/meditation/gratitude practices while on vacation, such as overseeing the sun popping over the Rocky Mountains alongside the Big Thompson River in Colorado.

When the sunrise starts pushing the bus schedule, I add some beeswax Milkhouse Candles to my routine. These are Caramel Pumpkin Latte (no longer sold 😦 ) and Brown Butter Latte because I LOVE pumpkin EVERYTHING!!! This is what fall smells like to me.

Own the morning, own the day

In the end of 2017 one of my former employees inspired me to start working out in the mornings. I hit the physical gym before my spiritual gym and the combo empowers me to start my day off on the right foot. Of course of all days, I wanted to kick off my birthday and 38 “right”!

So my birthday started with Les Mills’ BODYPUMP. a weights class synchronized to upbeat chart toppers, at my local YMCA. This is funny to me because months ago it was the instructor’s birthday, and I thought to myself, “I would never come to class on my birthday. Birthdays are for treating yo self.” And there I was. Never say never, people.

It turned out to be worth it, because the whole day synched up beautifully. The kids showered me with their adorable homemade cards and kisses before heading off to school. I soaked in a hot bath with this Pink Himalayan sea salt magical potion. And then Trent took me out to my fave meal evah — brunch!

There is a gem in town town that serves brunch on weekdays that don’t involve waiting (something I abhor with a passion). AND they had my fave breakfast food — sweet potato pancakes!!! Score!

I fell in love with Cracker Barrel’s sweet potato pancakes when pregnant with Adler and have been a bit obsessed since they’ve since been taken off the menu. So I had been anticipating these suckers for weeks and was practically drooling as we were seated and looking at the menu (hello, post-workout ghrelin). But they were no where to be found! Apparently, they’ve never served them, and the online menu was just created for the restaurant’s opening earlier this year and doesn’t reflect actual offerings. However, the server felt so bad when I’d asked about them and brought me some inventive curried sweet potato and apple bisque as a peace offering as well as a comped dessert in celebration of my birthday. She was a keeper!

Next I headed off to Starbucks for my birthday reward because I’m all about the freebies today and every day. I only get ventis as reward drinks. Special occasions are celebrated with breves — game changer, people! May I take a moment to say how much I also love mobile ordering?! Not only does it conquer my wait peeve but it also supports my high-maintenance preferences. The barista assured me that my mobile order was actually nothing compared to some she sees. If she says so!….

Venti decaf, 1 pump pumpkin spice, 2 pumps white chocolate mocha sauce, 1 pump toffee nut syrup, extra foam, breve, extra hot, smoked sea salt topping. I couldn’t decide between the salted caramel mocha and the PSL, so was trying to combine the two. And would you believe that this mix actually eliminates a pump of syrup and drizzled sauce? I think this hit my sugar quota for the week!

Then I headed off to massage bliss with Jon Paul at Imagine Peace Massage. Jon Paul is an old friend from college and has been my massage therapist for years. He is the perfect mix of talking/not, pressure, etc. that I like, and he’s got a gift for his work. Massages are my birthday and Mother’s Day treats because nothing unwinds me from stressed to serene better. But he’s also the reason I was able to run Dam to Dam last year after I jacked my knee during training. I simply can’t recommend him enough, and I love that he is now part of Maggie’s business. If you’re looking for the real deal, you should check them out!

This sign at the tea counter spoke to me. It’s spot on!

While I was in “town” (I say this like I still live out in the country even though I reside in suburbia), I had to swing by my happy place, aka Trader Joe’s, to score some fall finds before they fly off the the shelf. (A couple of blogs completely dedicated to this will be coming, I promise!) Someone I love dearly has an in with someone extremely thoughtful who works there and knew it was my birthday. As I was checking out, another crew member presented me with the gorgeous bouquet of flowers pictured above that I’d wanted to treat myself with but didn’t because I have been trying to stick to our budget. I love flowers!

Fall finds at Trader Joe’s aka my happy place!

Then I dropped off the kiddos at my sister’s for a slumber party. She surprised me with hot-from-the-oven zucchini bread (a childhood fave) and some other gifts including local cream for another #BirthdayBreve. I flavored it with some of that amazing TJ’s Cinnamon Bun Spread pictured above, Ah-mazing!

My plan was to order the aforementioned sweet potato pancakes AND the benny and then have leftovers (which I love!) for supper. When my loving hubby saw my disappointment, he offered to make me another of my faves — Reubens!

It’s 11:48 p.m., and my birthday’s nearly over. I’d wanted desperately to go to sleep hours ago and to organize my TJ’s haul in my storage room pantry downstairs with Trent as he worked his last night shift. But I’m proud of my decision. I did it! I took the first step, the first proverbial bite of the elephant.

If you’ve read through this far, thanks for journeying along with me. What I’d really like this year is your support, may it be engagement/sharing/liking my posts, tips for better blogging, help with editing or photos, or holding me accountable for actually posting.

And what about you? Today is a great day to take the next step to live the life of your dreams.

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Third Trimester Pavlovian Conditioning

I loved my first job out of college at a swanky Manhattan law firm for a variety of reasons.  One factor I’ve recently appreciated is these sentiments were encouraged Pavlovian style. I associated going to work with the reward of an anything one could desire, made-to-order breakfast for a few dollars at the firm’s cafeteria. So when my alarm would go off, visions of turkey bacon and cheddar cheese toasted sandwiches with a side of fresh berries and ground peanut butter danced through my head.

In my third trimester I have a whole new set of associations for my current job.  Today when my alarm went off, I envisioned pain and immediately slammed the snooze button.  Eight hours of sitting at my desk has been pure torture on my heiny.  To be fair, my employer provides me with a cushy, ergonomic chair; it’s just no match for the weight of my basketball-sized uterus on my tailbone for hours on end—the one I’d injured while playing on the monkey bars as a kid.

So I’m already telling my daughter in utero, “Listen to your mother, be careful and don’t try to pull a Shawn Johnson on the playground to impress your cousins; you’ll thank me someday.”

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Age of Conversation 3

Today is the big day–the anticipated launch date of the book I co-authored with top bloggers from around the world–Age of Coversation 3! It’ll soon be available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, kindle and the new iPad thanks to Channel V Books.
I’ve always dreamed of having one of my books published (ya know, the ones I’ve yet to write). Until then, I will be a published co-author with voices from USA, Australia, India, the UK and more! Check out their blogs:

Adam Joseph Priyanka Sachar Mark Earls
Cory Coley-Christakos Stefan Erschwendner Paul Hebert
Jeff De Cagna Thomas Clifford Phil Gerbyshak
Jon Burg Toby Bloomberg Shambhu Neil Vineberg
Joseph Jaffe Uwe Hook Steve Roesler
Michael E. Rubin anibal casso Steve Woodruff
Steve Sponder Becky Carroll Tim Tyler
Chris Wilson Beth Harte Tinu Abayomi-Paul
Dan Schawbel Carol Bodensteiner Trey Pennington
David Weinfeld Dan Sitter Vanessa DiMauro
Ed Brenegar David Zinger Brett T. T. Macfarlane
Efrain Mendicuti Deb Brown Brian Reich
Gaurav Mishra Dennis Deery C.B. Whittemore
Gordon Whitehead Heather Rast Cam Beck
Hajj E. Flemings Joan Endicott Cathryn Hrudicka
Jeroen Verkroost Karen D. Swim Christopher Morris
Joe Pulizzi Leah Otto Corentin Monot
Karalee Evans Leigh Durst David Berkowitz
Kevin Jessop Lesley Lambert Duane Brown
Peter Korchnak Mark Price Dustin Jacobsen
Piet Wulleman Mike Maddaloni Ernie Mosteller
Scott Townsend Nick Burcher Frank Stiefler
Steve Olenski Rich Nadworny John Rosen
Tim Jackson Suzanne Hull Len Kendall
Amber Naslund Wayne Buckhanan Mark McGuinness
Caroline Melberg Andy Drish Oleksandr Skorokhod
Claire Grinton Angela Maiers Paul Williams
Gary Cohen Armando Alves Sam Ismail
Gautam Ramdurai B.J. Smith Tamera Kremer
Eaon Pritchard Brendan Tripp Adelino de Almeida
Jacob Morgan Casey Hibbard Andy Hunter
Julian Cole Debra Helwig Anjali Ramachandran
Jye Smith Drew McLellan Craig Wilson
Karin Hermans Emily Reed David Petherick
Katie Harris Gavin Heaton Dennis Price
Mark Levy George Jenkins Doug Mitchell
Mark W. Schaefer Helge Tenno Douglas Hanna
Marshall Sponder James Stevens Ian Lurie
Ryan Hanser Jenny Meade Jeff Larche
Sacha Tueni and Katherine Maher David Svet Jessica Hagy
Simon Payn Joanne Austin-Olsen Mark Avnet
Stanley Johnson Marilyn Pratt Mark Hancock
Steve Kellogg Michelle Beckham-Corbin Michelle Chmielewski
Amy Mengel Veronique Rabuteau Peter Komendowski
Andrea Vascellari Timothy L Johnson Phil Osborne
Beth Wampler Amy Jussel Rick Liebling
Eric Brody Arun Rajagopal Dr Letitia Wright
Hugh de Winton David Koopmans Aki Spicer
Jeff Wallace Don Frederiksen Charles Sipe
Katie McIntyre James G Lindberg & Sandra Renshaw David Reich
Lynae Johnson Jasmin Tragas Deborah Chaddock Brown
Mike O’Toole Jeanne Dininni Iqbal Mohammed
Morriss M. Partee Katie Chatfield Jeff Cutler
Pete Jones Riku Vassinen Jeff Garrison
Kevin Dugan Tiphereth Gloria Mike Sansone
Lori Magno Valerie Simon Nettie Hartsock
Mark Goren   Peter Salvitti

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Not so pleasant pregnancy symptoms

Disclaimer: If you’re the type of person who squirms at the thought of buying a box of tampons or at women experiencing bodily functions, this is not the post for you.  If, however, you are pregnant, have been pregnant or have/have had a pregnant partner, you’ll likely relate and chuckle.

I’ve watched enough television and friends go through their pregnancies to recognize common pregnancy symptoms–nausea during the first trimester, crazy cravings, moodiness and changing physique. Yet, much like my previous understanding that wine was off limits, but cheese was okay (soft, unpasteurized cheeses are a no-no), I was in for a few surprises.

Big surprise #1: My next jog would likely involve a stroller.

Prior to my pregnancy, I thankfully (and to my husband’s benefit) did not suffer from severe PMS.  My biggest complaint was that my road rage would get out of control for a couple of days a month–easily remedied by a refreshing jog.  Therefore, I wasn’t prepared for the effects of the surge of hormones to which I was about to succumb. I had planned on running away these moodswings, as I had been accustomed, until the third trimester made me too unbalanced and uncomfortable.  Everything I’d been told suggested I could continue all of my routine activities.  My doctor convinced me I wasn’t going to shake out the baby (of which I was convinced before implantation) and gave me the okay to run, so long as I kept my heart rate under 140 beats per minute. I sucked up the price, purchased a heart rate monitor and started my customary four-mile jog around town. I think I made it about 30 seconds before the limit alarm started beeping.

Big surprise #2: Growing baby brings issues with exits on both ends.

Although I’d soon miss my escape mechanism, my body wasn’t up for running at the time anyway. My breasts ached, and since my wedding four months prior, I’d been experiencing severe stomach issues leading the GI doc to run every test under the sun to diagnose/cure them. The colonoscopy, a process that earned me the right to feel completely comfortable talking about my poop, ruled I had a bad case of IBS.  This worsened exponentially during my first month of pregnancy.  To top it off, I was suffering from such uncomfortable gas pressure that I didn’t care if I was with the CEO of my company; should the rare opportunity arise, I was letting it rip or risk floating to the ceiling like a helium balloon. The baby docs (plural because I see a partnership) say most pregnant women would be elated to experience my symptoms–the reverse of the norm. Thankfully, they’re manageable now.

Big surprise #3: Hello, bathroom.

Due to my aforementioned GI issues, I was becoming quite accustomed to the bathroom–all bathrooms, without the luxury of preference. I knew this would be good experience for when the baby crowded my bladder, again in the third trimester.  I had no idea frequent urination was an early pregnancy symptom. And just when the books (remember, six of them) had indicated a respite from the frequent trips, the UTI infection kicked in.  Merry Christmas to me, the antibiotics worsened both my GI issues and turned the nausea to straight up vomiting. My kind new in-laws gracefully accepted my absence from holiday activities. I sucked down every last evil pill to avoid a recurrence. However, the symptoms returned, requiring me to drink 11 glasses of water before 6 p.m., or face the consequences. Thus, I can easily walk from one bathroom to the next and have to go again.  On the positive side of things, I’m used to getting up all night and thus, ready for nighttime feedings.

Big surprise #4: Labor ain’t the only pain.

Before discovering I was pregnant at four weeks, I was experiencing difficulty sleeping on my customary left side. I attributed this to what I’d termed my “maybe baby”. As she grew, so did the cramps and the discomfort being seated with a squished abdomen. Then from about weeks 12-18, sciatic nerve pain shot down my left buttock, generally in the evenings. Thus far, the occurrence of round ligament pain has been minimal, yet just like the lady at the hospital’s Great Expectations seminar had described– “not fun”. At 20 weeks, the acid reflux has started, burning my throat.  Thankfully, I’ve already given up fried and spicy foods, caffeine, and chocolate. Goodbye, citrus and tomatoes.

Needless to say, my experience makes it difficult for me to believe the women who claim they had no idea they were pregnant.  It’s been an alien invasion, and there’s no denying it. I keep saying she’d better be nicer to me after she’s born!

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Hello, Josephine!

Although we saw our first glimpse of our baby at six and nine weeks, there wasn’t much to see.  Being that our only indication of my pregnancy at that point was my constant bathroom presence, however, we treasured our little peanut pictures–our only visual of our little miracle.

I started to show at 18 weeks, when I finally made the announcement at work and transitioned to maternity pants. I’m so thankful a gal from church has lent me her maternity clothes.  Finding cute maternity clothing is a challenge in itself, finding pants for a 35-inch inseam is another issue.  I’m also set with tops my good friend gave me.  Thus, I’m doing my best to avoid buying into the multi-billion dollar baby industry.

Aside from my respite from nausea (thank you, White Cheddar Cheese-Itz!) and growing physique, we had no confirmation our baby was okay.  We declined the first trimester screening because it was questionable whether the insurance would cover both it and the five-month ultrasound and because false-positive results from the blood tests required an invasive amniocentesis.  Basically, I didn’t want to be freaked out about the health of our baby when we were going to keep it regardless.  Our only scare lasted for about one second (though it felt like time stopped), while Trent and I looked at each other helplessly while the doctor struggled to find the baby’s heartbeat at our fourth month appointment.  That beating was the best sound I’d ever heard.  At that appointment, its heartbeat danced in the 150 bpm range, not far from the previous month’s 163 bpm or the following’s 144 bpm, yet a far cry from the 182 bpm of its six-week ultrasound when we first heard it.

From my six pregnany/baby books (I’m not kidding, really, six), I had been anxiously awaiting for week 16 to feel my baby move inside me.  By the time of our 19 week appointment, I was still waiting.  While I did feel movement, it wasn’t anything I could really distinguish from sensations to which I was accustomed having GI issues.

So I was anxiously counting down the days until our 19-week appointment, ensuring the child I was carrying was doing alright.  At first I was adamant about saving the surprise of its sex until birth.  I’d figured we’d want to know what we were having next time, so this would be our only chance for waiting.  I told Trent he could know, but he didn’t want to keep the secret from me or from the rest of the family.  On our drive home from Christmas with his family we were discussing boy names.  While we were set on Josephine for a girl (which I’d wanted since I was 14), we couldn’t agree on a boy’s name.  Its middle name would be Lee, the family tradition.  And being the 80s hair metal fan he is, he was pushing for a first name of Tommy or David to match.  We decided we needn’t worry if we found out we were having a girl.  I was beginning to feel like if I had any inclination to know, it was either find out at the halfway point or wait.

We were just hoping for a healthy baby–boy or girl.  Though, eventually, we wanted a little girl.  Because the wives’ tales held pregnancies with girls were more arduous than with boys, I was thinking I couldn’t handle it being any worse, should it be a boy.  The Chinese Lunar calendar said it was a girl, but the string test (with flat dental floss, all we could find in the house) indicated a boy.  I refused to pee in Draino and risk caustic splashing.  My cravings indicated a boy.  Prior to my pregnancy, I could devour entire jars of peanut butter in a matter of days and could live on desserts if only they were healthy.  However, I gained five pounds before I even discovered I was pregnant craving hearty meals and snacks of pickles, cheese, hummus and potato chips (the latter two of which I had to eliminate due to unpleasant side effects).  I avoided traditional  Christmas goodies like the plague.  I only resumed my regular fruit and yogurt breakfasts after the first trimester.  Prior to that I was surviving on cheese microwaved on bread, a staple I’d picked up from my former babysitter. Ultimately, I thought it was a girl with the exception of a few weeks.  I’d even purchased a little girl’s peacoat and lamb hat/glove combo at 75 percent off, thinking I could always return it if I was wrong.

I ate some chocolate before the ultrasound to ensure the little nudger would be awake to cooperate, and it was.  In fact, it was moving around so much that the tech had some difficulty capturing images.  She confirmed it had 10 fingers and 10 toes as well as a nasal bone, the latter indicating it didn’t have Down’s Syndrome.  It was crossing its little hands in front of its face, objecting to the paparazzi.  Watching it move was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen, causing me to now attribute those little flutters to my baby.  Its estimated weight was 11 oz., putting it in the 70th percentile for its weight, despite my weight gain of only 10 lbs.  I recognized the next image after practicing viewing my friends’ ultrasounds on facebook. Before the tech even said the words, I knew–we were having a little girl who now had a name, Josephine.  Though I did not cry, my eyes welled up with tears of happiness.

Something about that moment forever changed my world.  We are going to have a little girl, and my thoughts drifted to Easter dresses complete with white gloves, tights and bonnets and princess themed birthday parties–though we hope she also takes an interest in sports, etc.  We then saw our first glimpse of her perfect little face.  The 4D technology is so amazing, I already think she looks like Trent did in his baby photos.  And speaking of Trent, I’ve never seen someone so excited to be a father.  Afterward he admitted he had really been hoping for a baby girl all along.

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Hello world!

Although I write for a living, I’ve just begun my journey as blogger.  Admittedly, I have much to learn yet lots to share.  As one Irishman once told me, I didn’t need to kiss the Blarney stone for the gift of gab!

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