Saturday, April 5, 2014

It started with a SPARK...

Life has been barreling by at lightning speed.  It seems like days go by that I don’t even see my girls.  They are busy with activities, and 6th grade life, and since they live in the basement, they go downstairs, and I don’t see them much.  Jake has baseball practice or games 2x a week, and almost every day after school he is across the street with the neighborhood boys playing basketball or soccer or some other game they made up the rules for.  And Finn.  Sweet Finn.  He’s busy figuring out how to jump, constructing 2 word sentences, and being a terrific two year old!  He is officially 2.5 years old today.  SHOCKING.  That also means that in the next 4 weeks, he sees all of his specialists, including a new one – endocrinologist.  But more on those visits when we have more information.

That leaves Britt and me.  What have we been up to?  Well, let me tell you all about it…  We are on a mission.  We finally hit rock bottom with our health and our weight, and we aren’t going to take it anymore.  He will be 50 this summer, in 3 days I am closer to 40 than I am 39, and we have a very energetic 2 year old, plus 3 other kids!  We want to see graduations, weddings and grandkids.  Heck, we want to see baseball, volleyball, dance, basketball and the rest, too!  Britt was truly inspired by David Brown (@1stronger) from the Biggest Loser this season, and that was our very first step.  Soon after the finale, we went to Edmond to see him live, and even got to meet him.  Then, there was the second step…
Biggest Loser cast member David Brown (@1stronger) with Britt, Emma, Betsey and Finn 2/2014
There are a lot of direct sales “health and wellness” things out there.  And I have a lot of friends on Facebook that sell them.  Some days, it’s just overwhelming. I’ve tried a few.  Even back in the archives of this blog you can see things about what I’ve tired.  Some were too expensive; some tasted gross.  Some only had one flavor (BORING!).  Some were overwhelming and confusing.  All of these things cause my ADD to kick in and causes me to shut down.  This is where my AMAZING husband steps in.  He had seen one of our friends posting about Advocare.  It peaked his curiosity, and he began reading and asking questions.  Next thing I knew, not only were we signed up to be distributors, our 24 Day Challenge products were on their way!  Time for me to get caught up with the learning curve and find out what we were in for!

Before we even started the 24DC, we had scheduled a mixer at our house to introduce our friends to the products, offer them the chance to try some SPARK (an Advocare energy drink product) and to learn about the company.  We were so impressed by our mentors who helped arrange and facilitate the mixer, we knew this was the right thing for us!  We were 4 days in to the 24 Day Challenge when we had out meeting.  We had a half dozen folks over to the house, drank some SPARK, watched some inspirational stories about the products and the company, and told out story.  We are older parents, been overweight for YEARS, and need to get healthy.  We believe in the 21 year old company, and the products, and we can make a “Plan B” income while we lose weight and get healthy.  It’s a win-win!  We are excited to work with our friends who are interested in doing the same.  The business has really taken off since this party, and the sky is the limit!

So, what is it about Advocare?  For us, it’s the science behind the products, the support the company gets from the medical, athletic, and weight loss communities, and the PEOPLE!  Advocare is a premier health and wellness company offering world-class energy, weight loss, nutrition, and sports performance products.  I first became familiar with SPARK in 2005 when I worked for the Oklahoma State University Athletics department and the Cowboy Football team.  In fact, the person that brought us to Advocare was a young lady from my Orange Pride group that I advised during my time there.  That leads me to the next most popular question… What is SPARK?  Spark is a sugar free, low calorie energy drink that can be used up to 3 times a day.  It enhances mental energy and focus, provides long lasting energy, and fights drowsiness. With 21 vitamins, nutrients, and minerals and only 45 calories, it is infinitely better for you than coffee, soda, or those NASTY energy drinks!  Comes in 8 flavors, and is a best seller.  I started drinking it a few of weeks ago, and I am amazed and completely satisfied with the results. SPARK is LOVE! 

So, here we are on day 12 of the 24 Day Challenge.  ½ way.  And again, could not be happier!  I know your next question!  What’s a 24 Day Challenge? It is a comprehensive supplementation and nutrition program that gives your body the jump start it needs to help you reach your goals.  There is something for everyone: weight management, energy, overall body composition, or overall wellness.  Days 1-10 are a cleanse phase and days 11-24 are the max phase.  Britt and I both choose the program for weight loss plus energy.  We have to get started, and we need the energy to do it!  Alright!  Now you want to know how it’s going, right?  FANTASTIC.  I haven’t felt this good in a very long time.  I had a very smooth first 10 days.  Britt had a couple of rougher days, and fought a small cold in there, too, but overall such a great experience.  We decided to weigh-in after the 10 day cleanse.  The results? 7 pounds lost for him, 6 for me!  I am down 10 pounds from the first of the year, and I am not stopping!  We feel like we are walking taller, standing straighter, and feeling so much better.  We’re less irritable, more patient with our kids, and generally better people to be around.  This next phase, the Max phase, should really get us some great results.  We took before pictures and measurements.  We have 12 more days until we will reveal those.  Another great thing about the Advocare products?  After this 24DC is over, we will still be drinking our Spark, using the Meal Replacement shakes, and using product for our specific needs.  WE WILL LOOSE THE WEIGHT! 

The best part?  We are in this TOGETHER!  This is the fight of our lives – literally.  Our kids need us to be healthy.  We need each other to be fit and well.  We are excited, energized, and DETERMINED.  We found something that works, and it’s something we LOVE!  And the very best part?  We get to share our story and help others. 

If any of this sounds familiar, sounds like something you want to know more about, or you have any questions, contact us.  We would love to help you out.  Or if you want a sample, let us know!  We can get you started on your own road to a better you! 

Stay tuned to the blog for results and updates.  This is a journey, and we’ve only just begun!
Click Here to go to Our Site

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Party of Six

How in the world has an entire month gone by without an update from the Dream Weavers?  Oh… Yeah… Six people make for a VERY busy life under one roof!  Let’s see…  Professional development classes for me, dance for Lara, basketball season came to an apex and (an undefeated) close for Jake, various family members went to the dentist, Britt and Betsey started Stillwater March for Babies committee meetings (mark your calendar for Saturday, September 20), Britt started working a night job at the print shop for Eskimo Joe’s Promotional Products Group, we attended an NBA Thunder game as a family, survived snow storms and snow days (which will have to be made up), Emma and Lara went to a middle school dance, various birthday parties and sleepovers for the big kids, signing Emma up for spring volleyball, Alpha Delta Pi meetings and events for me, Finn is two (and all that entails), and yesterday it was 78 degrees outside and tonight baseball practice starts for Jake.  WHEW!  What’d I miss?  LOTS I am sure.  I am so thankful for my fun, busy, crazy family; but it is kind of overwhelming to look back over a month and see all that has happened!

I feel like we are falling into a routine with the new work schedules.  It is still crazy for me to get out the door and be ta work by 7:30, but I am making it every day.  I sure like getting off at 2:00!  Gives me a minute to breathe!  To run errands, be creative and work on Dream Weaver Prints business, and to be there for my kids when they get home from school.  Even if I’m not armed and ready with gourmet snacks and fresh squeezed lemonade, I am THERE!  We do chores, laundry, watch TV, whatever until it’s time to start dinner.  Which is early!  With Britt working nights, he gets home from his day job about 5:15, and needs to leave for his night job at 5:40.  That’s 30 minutes to eat, change, and love on him!  So, we start dinner about 4:00 these days!  Emma and Lara are ESSENTIAL in this process!  They are either helping me prep food, or helping keep Finn out of the kitchen!  We have tried lots of fun recipes and have generally enjoyed working as a family to make sure Daddy has a good dinner before he takes off to work hard for our family.  It may not be what we ever wanted, but we are making the most of it!

As for Finn and what’s up in his unique little preemie world…  We decided a couple of weeks ago that he was not progressing as we wanted him too.  Yes, SoonerStart (early intervention) comes once a month or so to evaluate him, and they think he’s doing “fine,” but there are just so many things we WASN’T doing!  Like, I don’t know… EATING!  We had been told to encourage him, and to introduce new textures, and the list goes on.  Nothing was working.  And he was just too skinny in our opinions.  Add to that, he isolates himself at school and doesn’t participate, won’t talk to his teachers, and has some other peculiar social traits.  We decided it was time to get a professional opinion.  Off to the pediatrician we went!  We left there knowing he has not gained a single ounce in 4 months, but had grown taller, with a prescription for an appetite stimulant, a referral to an endocrinologist, and a referral to an occupational therapist.  And a smile on our faces 3 miles wide knowing we were getting help for our little man who we were tired of watching struggle.

We started the appetite stimulant last Tuesday morning.  He takes it twice a day with food.  So, we give it to him at 7:00am after his “breakfast” Pedia Sure and at 2:30-ish after his “afternoon snack” Pedia Sure.  The drug fact sheet stated that “you might notice an increased appetite after prolonged use.”  If by prolonged use, you mean one dose, then YES!  Yes, it does increase appetite!  He has been eating more food in the past week than he did in the past 6 months combined!  More volume, more variations, better foods (not just Goldfish crackers and pudding), more frequency!  His cute little belly just sticks out all the time now!  We are so happy it is working so well for him!  And the even bigger bonus, it has COMPLETELY changed his attitude and demeanor!  Finn has always been a sweet boy, but he was often grumpy and inconsolable, and hard to get him to participate in anything.  Now, he is happier, more involved and engaged, and sleeping better.  He’s also a bit more ornery, but we’ll take it!  In one short week, he has become a completely different child.  It makes us wonder if he was just hungry all along but didn’t know how to fix it.  Or his blood sugar levels were all over the place due to lack of nutrition…  Poor guy!  We’re just happy to see him doing SO MUCH better!

Today we start another adventure with him.  He has his first evaluation with an Occupational Therapist here in town.  We are hoping to help him learn the skills and confidence to do things more independently.  With Mommy, Daddy, 3 older siblings, and Nana the Wonder Sitter, it’s no wonder he doesn’t want to be self-sufficient!  We hope to just help him learn what he needs to be more in par with his peers.  And of course, a bit selfishly perhaps, we want him to be less clingy and needy.  We know part of that is being 2, but having raised 3 other 2 year olds, and knowing how incredible smart he is (sometime I’ll tell you about his puzzle skills), I know he is capable of so much more!  I just can’t wait to see him thrive! 

The break between updates will not be as long next time.  I hope the Occupational Therapy takes off like the appetite stimulant did, and we see fast results!  We’re still waiting on the referral for the endocrinologist, too.  My prayer is that in 6 months, we will look back on this and know we did the right thing and will be able to see marked improvement in our awesome preemie!  He has always been the kind that needed an extra push!  Always a fighter, our Finicky Finn!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday It’s Your Birthday

On Thursdays, if you log in to Instagram, you can see lots of #tbt being thrown around.  I love it!  I like seeing old pics of my friends when they were little or with family and siblings.  I love the 1970’s Sears photos that make us all look like we had red hair.  I love the outfits, costumes, embarrassing moments, and baby pictures.  LOVE IT ALL!  But for my #tbt today, I had an extra special topic: my big brother.

This Thursday, February 13, 2014, should be his 43rd birthday.  Instead of celebrating him, we are remembering him.  Even though he lived in Texas, he would make it a point to come “home” to Oklahoma around the time of his birthday so our parents could take him out to dinner.  His last trip like that in 2010, we were not only celebrating Brian’s 40th birthday, but also our cousin from New York’s new baby boy, Rocco.  4 year old Kayleigh was with him.  The cousins were all having a blast together.  There was just an air of comfort, joy, and peace.  Another milestone celebrated – sure there would be many more to come.  If we had known what was actually coming, there would have been more memories, more photos, more love. Less than two months later, he'd be gone.

2011 will go down for me as the roughest year I have had.  I know I learned more that year than any or all of my four years of high school or college.  Life lessons, science, math, autopsies, obstetrics, neonatal, you name it.  I know each and every step we took that year was leading us to the place we are now.  We are stronger, smarter, more resilient.  But we are sad.  And lonely.  We was too young, gone too soon, and we miss him.  We want to shake our fists and say, “It’s just not fair!”  Because it isn't.  So we cry.  Hold each other.  Love.

I think birthdays are the hardest.  Sure, all the other holidays and special moments are hard, too.  But at Christmas, there are 4-5 kids ripping into wrapping paper, telling us their version of the Christmas story.  Food to be prepared, visitors, things to keep us busy.  All the other holidays have this “outward’ focus as well.  But birthdays?  Birthdays are different.  Birthdays are intensely personal.  And all about one person.  You may know some other person or even be related to another person with the same date of birth, but it’s YOUR birthday!  So, on this day all about my brother, I’m devastated.  He doesn't get to watch his daughter grow up.  He doesn't even know my youngest.  HE won’t be here to help me with my parents as they age and pass on.  I can’t ask him for advice.  I can’t complain out our nutty family to a person who TRULY gets it.  I never was an only child, but now I am.  It leaves a lot of loose ends.

I just miss him.  And on his birthday, it’s magnified.  I wish you were here, Big Brother.  I hope you are having a heck of a party up there in heaven.  I’ll see you again someday…

#tbt 1975, 2001, 2007, 2010, 2011 (last b-day in Stillwater)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What a busy day for a birthday!

This past weekend, Jake the Snake turned 7.  I joked with him for a week before the day actually came, that I was looking forward to him being 7, because then  maybe I wouldn't get QUITE so many stares when I said he was 6.  He's 4'8 (an inch shorter than his sisters that are 5 years older), and weighs 85 pounds.  He is a GIANT of a boy!  And he is just so sweet and fun!  He loves pizza with ranch, baseball, basketball and football, video games, and sleeping in.  He loves to read and really likes school, too.  He always prays for our dinner for us, and still hates to take a shower!  He is just a WONDERFUL son, and such a great big brother to Finn. He drives Emma and Lara crazy, but then again that's his job!

This past Saturday was his actual birthday, and it was a super busy day!  We started with a very early Upward basketball game.  But, FIRST!  We had him open his present from the family.  Skylanders Giants for Wii U.  He got to play for about 15 minutes before it was time to go to the game.  They played a hard game, and he got the star best offense.



offense - under the basket where he needs to be!

Mom and Finn in the stands!

Then, it was lunch, more video games, a little shopping to spend some birthday money (more Giants for his collection), then PARTY TIME!  We had a bowing party again.  This year's party was a little more low key than last year's party, but it was so fun!  We had all the boys wear their favorite basketball jerseys!  We had Upward, YMCA, Oklahoma State, and of course, OKC Thunder!  We started with 3 home and 1 away Kevin Durant's.  Ended up with FIVE KD's as one of Jake's gifts was a KD jersey!

The Crew
It was supposed to be an all boy party, but one sister slipped in,
and cousin Kayleigh was here from Texas!

After the party, we took the birthday boy out for his traditional birthday dinner.  Only, it wasn't traditional!  He chose a new place!  We have always gone to Texas RoadHouse for his birthday dinner.  This year, it was Rib Crib. He loved the special treatment, and especially the dessert!

I am loving being the mom of a 7 year old boy.  He is so loving and understanding and compassionate.  He is funny, had great timing, and tells amazing jokes.  He is athletic, and loves to be outside with the neighborhood kids shooting baskets, playing football, or riding his scooter.  We've had some mild days (and some horribly, bitter cold days) this winter, so it's been fun watching him take on the world!  I even got an email (below) that said I am entering a rewarding phase of parenting.  YIPPEE!  I can't wait to see what the future holds for my GREAT Jake!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Perfect ... ly Comfortable

"I am perfectly comfortable being an 'average' mom.  My kids ride the bus; they eat school food.  They are encouraged to explore extra-curricular activities - one at a time.  Time (& money) I would spend making lunches, driving around, making chaotic schedules work, buying more 'stuff,' we spend making memories.  House wide Nerf gun fights.  Dinners for 6 around the dinner table opened with prayer.  Movie nights with popcorn.  We may not eat organic and be on trend with the latest fad, but we are happy. And I won't feel guilty about it."

If this sounds a bit familiar, you may read my Facebook updates from time to time.  Or, at least last night about 8:00pm to be exact.  Where did this come from, you might ask?  At least my husband did.  He was in the other room watching the pro-bowl.  I had just put the 2 year old to bed and sent the three bigs to their rooms for winding down hour.  I wasn't ready to start Downton Abbey yet, so I checked Facebook - as I often do...

Sometimes, Facebook is so incredibly useful!  I have found great bargains, learned of impending nuptials and heard about future little ones to join the world.  I can keep in contact with my cousins and friends spread from Oregon to Kansas to Virginia and Boston to New York City.  I have life long friends, brand new friends, Twin Mommy friends, and mommas of babies born in May 2002.  Sorority Sisters, Life Group members, My brother's college buddies, and friends of my parents.  INCREDIBLE.  I can learn about things I never dreamed of - and watch videos that I wish I could un-see.  But a lot of times, I have to admit,  I feel bullied by other moms.  Now, I know some of this is self-induced.  I should be able to pull up my big (and I mean BIG!) girl panties and blow it off.  But a lot of what I see just makes me want to scream.  And log off.  For a long time.  But, I can't.  Not for long anyway.  I have to have my personal account to manage my small business account.  And oh yeah!  My regular paying job is in social media. Yup - can't neglect that! I have to get better at filtering out the stuff that makes me bang my head against the wall.

So, I was a bit fed up with feeling like a bad mom last night for probably having BPA laden plastic-wear in my fridge with last week's left over chili in it.  Chili made with beef.  Beef that I have no idea about where it was grown or what the cattle were fed.  And I probably cleaned my kitchen counter top that it was prepared on with something someone somewhere has labeled as a poison to children everywhere!  But you know what?  That chili was GREAT!  The kids loved it, hubby loved it, I LOVED IT.  Got told it was the "Best Chili Ever" by an 11 year old tween girl.  HIGH PRAISE!  If you have raised the breed, you know...

So, yes.  My girls ride to school (almost) every day on a big, stinky, bumpy yellow school bus.  Both ways.  My oldest son walks 5 blocks.  Both ways.  Unless it's cold.  Or he is slow moving, then he gets a ride from Dad.  I leave for work long before they all go to school, and the 1st grader is just lucky the school is on Dad's way to work.  And they all 3 eat school lunches.  At a reduced price, too.  YUP!  We're that family!  I don't know a Bento box from a window box.  And Idon'tevencare.  They get a good, nutritious lunch.  And a lesson in life.  All paid for by my tax dollars.  Works for us.  And, I'm OK with their public education.  I have several homeschooling friends.  To them I say, "Good on ya!"  I don't have the patience or desire for it.  And my baby?  In my opinion he goes to the best darned Mother's Day Out pre-school in town 2 days a week and has the BEST Nana on the planet for the other 3.  But, I didn't look at all the reports or do extensive interviewing to find out.  I just went with my gut.  And biology.  :)

I am also perfectly OK with my perfectly comfortable kids.  While my girls both made honor roll last semester, I wouldn't be surprised if that doesn't happen this time around.  School is harder for some kids than others.  Testing makes some anxious while others take it all in stride.  I read an article someone had posted on Facebook last week about how college isn't meant for everyone.  Some kids will go to trade school.  Or be an apprentice somewhere.  Who will be the next generation's plumbers and hair stylists?  Maybe one or more of my kids.  And I would be so proud.  Or maybe they all go to college.  I want to encourage them, but not push them beyond their abilities - just to compete with the "Joneses."  Same with the extra activities.  While I'm pretty sure I don't have the next piano prodigy or sports superstar, I want them to do what they like and want to offer them the opportunities I can, while keeping them balanced .  Each child can do 1 "extra" thing at a time.  I have a dancer, a volleyball player, and a sports enthusiast that plays each sport in season as long as they don't overlap.  The baby's pass-time is going to doctor appointments.  *sigh* But, at this stage in life, they just need to be kids.  Have time to find out what they like.  Play with the neighbors.  After all, Eli and Peyton didn't play football until 8th or 9th grade...

So, Facebook.  I turn the other cheek.  I am not going to let the mom bullying get to me anymore.  I am a good mom.  My 4 kids have enough.  They get to see my husband and I live, love, fight and make-up.  We are all under the same roof every night, and we eat dinner as a family at least 6 nights a week - at a table with mismatched chairs.  We pray together, laugh together, love together, and hurt together.  WE ALL have been extremely blessed.  We're all in this together.  The kids know they have to look out for each other and help us around the house - without complaining.  And without an allowance or any other payment for that matter.  They have 8 very busy hands.  Dad and I have 4 full time working hands, that do the very best they can at home to keep everyone clean, healthy, fed, educated and entertained.  Our calendar is busy, and we like it that way.  But, we also like knowing down time is coming.  And we can just breathe.  And be a family.  Without trying to out-do anyone, prove anything, or achieve unrealistic goals.  God is our provider, and our judge.  We live our lives in a way that (we pray) is pleasing to Him, and that's all that should matter. And we are HAPPY!

If you got this far, you deserve a cookie.  Or a brownie.  Or WINE!  Yes, Wine...  And here is my disclaimer... I am not bashing anyone who does any of the things I don't.  Good for you!  Just know every family has to make decisions that are best for them.  And we each have the things we are passionate about.  In this season of my family's journey, the only thing I am passionate about besides shining Jesus' light is SURVIVAL.  Maybe next season I will have a second and I can research a Bento box...