Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday NICU Goodie Bags

Happy Holidays everyone!

Last Christmas, my mom and I created "goodie bags" for all the babies in the NICU where Lea stayed. This year, one of my preemie momma friends (who actually received one of my bags last year when her son was in the NICU) suggested her and I make more this Christmas for the babies currently in the NICU.

I wanted to share what we used to assemble our bags, in case anyone else was interested in doing the same this holiday season. So here it goes...

1. Hand sanitizer is a preemie parent's best friend. You can never EVER have enough of this stuff!

2. Hand lotion. All that hand washing and sanitizing can be harsh on your hands, so its important for parents to keep their hands moisturized.

3. Tissues... Because some days will be more overwhelming than others.

4. Chocolate. No explanation necessary.

 5. A swaddling blanket. Blankets are some of the best gifts you can get while in the NICU. They have quite a few uses. They can be rolled up and tucked under a preemie for support, or they can be draped over an isolette to block out noise, light or to just decorate the baby's space. Preemie parents don't get to start dressing their babies right away, so having a trendy blanket is a must!

6. Hand Washing Hang Tag. Reminding family and friends to wash their hands before touching a preemie baby can become a daunting task once he or she goes home. We included these hand-made hang tags that can be hung on a baby's stroller or car seat handle, that reminds visitors to wash their hands before touching the baby. If you'd like to make your own Hand Washing Hang Tags, please scroll down to find a free printable sheet, as well as directions on how to assemble them.

Click here for your free printable Preemie Hang Tag.

Assembly Instructions:
  1. Print your hang tags. It is best to print them on card stock, but regular copy paper will work just fine.
  2. Carefully cut out each octagon shape.
  3. Have your newly-cut shapes laminated. I brought mine to Office Depot. The cost was minimal.
  4. Using a hole puncher, punch a hole at the top of your laminated tag.
  5. Find a fun roll of ribbon, and cut strips measuring approximately 5 - 6 inches in length.
  6. Run the strips of ribbon through the hole at the top of the tags.
  7. Attach Velcro dots to each end of the ribbon, so that the hang tag can be easily removed and reattached. I found something similar to these at Michael's craft store:

And there you have it! Preemie Hand Washing Hang Tags!

For all my preemie parents out there in the NICU this holiday season, please know that there are two preemie momma's thinking of you and praying for you and your family! Godspeed to all my sweet little preemies! xoxo.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Three Little Birds...

Today I got the tattoo I've been wanting for a while! Three little birds -- yes, like the Bob Marley song. Specifically, me and Lea's song.

This is the song I'd sing to her when I held her in the NICU, and that I still sing to her now. It reminds me that no matter what, everything will be okay because I have my wonderful little family. The three of us...

It will be my reminder to not worry so much and to not sweat the small stuff. 

I wanted to write more, but as I sit miss muffin is sitting in my lap squeazing my face and trying to type, so I'll let her have her moment:

    njc j vb vvc hb      dg hybnnncccccccssh fyyuyy6rt667777776yuuuuyyyyyuuiiooooooooooooooooooooooooo]]]]]ppp       

Its me again. Call me crazy, but I'm pretty sure the above says "I love mommy."  

Until next time...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Isagenix Weight Loss Update

It has been ten weeks since I began using Isagenix products to tackle my weight loss goals, and wanted to give a little update on my results!

Here are the highlights:
  • I have lost a total of fifteen pounds, and my body fat percentage has gone from 23% - 17%. 
  • My energy level has never been higher.
  • I have JUST begun to moderately exercise, but all of the weight loss so far has been strictly from my diet. 
  • Shopping is fun again because clothes look good on me!
  • I feel so accomplished, both physically and mentally.
  • I have not only beaten my addiction to sweets, but also my need for artificial sweeteners.
  • I'm just happier in general!

Never once over the past ten weeks have I felt like I'm on a "diet." This for me has been a lifestyle change. The Isagenix shakes for breakfast and dinner are a no-brainer, and the cleanse days get easier each time I do them. I have also started eating "cleaner," and paying much more attention to food labels and ingredients.

I still cheat here and there. I have a diet coke every once and a while, and desserts aren't totally off limits. I do, however, try to hold out for the desserts that are truly worth the calories.

I am so glad that ten weeks ago I took a risk and decided to give Isagenix a try, despite being very skeptical. Isagenix has changed my life for the better, and I plan to continue to use the shakes as a staple in my diet, and occasionally do more nutritional cleanses.

I also have to update you on my mom who has been sharing this journey with me. She's done even better than me, losing a total of twenty pounds! So proud of you mom, you look amazing. Thanks for always giving me encouragement when I needed it!

If you are interested in learning more about Isagenix, and what it can do for you, you can message me at, or visit the Isagenix site by clicking here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Isagenix 9-Day Cleanse: Day 9

Today is my final cleanse day! I jumped out of bed this morning and ran straight to the scale. I've lost a total of 8 pounds, and I still have today to go! I am so excited!!!

Emily re-took my measurements, and I have definitely gotten smaller. I've lost 1.5 inches in my waist, 1 inch in my abs, .75 inches in my calves and about .25 inches everywhere else. Plus, I've gone from 23.3% body fat to 20%! And just to remind you, this is all without an ounce of exercise (aside from chasing a 1 1/2 year old around.)

So as a reward to myself for losing the poundage, I will be spending the majority of Saturday in our new blow up pool for the backyard. In a bikini thank you very much.

This cleanse has not only helped me lose weight, but its changed my outlook on food and my health. It has given me the desire to eat cleaner, and to be aware of ingredients -- especially artificial sweeteners. It has given me the knowledge to know that food choices shouldn't be made based on cravings or for the pure enjoyment of consuming, but for how the food will nourish your body. That's not to say you shouldn't enjoy your food, of course. In fact, I think this cleanse is only going to make me savor my food even more than I did. The difference between then and now is going to be the foods I choose to fuel my body with. While my addictions were once diet coke and sweets, I'm now hooked on getting to my goal weight, and maintaining a healthy mind, body and spirit.

I can also say that I've seen my energy level sky-rocket. This whole time, I've been bogged down by artificial sweeteners, sugars and fats. Not anymore! I even see a difference in my mood. I feel happier, less stressed and much more alert. Who knew a 9-day cleanse was going to do so much for me? I sure didn't...

If I had one major complaint about the Isagenix 9-Day Cleanse, its that they are very skimpy on the cleanse powder. I did not have enough of it to do my final cleanse drink on day two, which really annoys me considering how much money I spent on all of this. However, I can't hate too hard, I did lose exactly what I hoped to and more. In the future, I'm only going to get the individual bottled shots of cleanse juice to avoid this problem.

I am more than happy to continue with the Isagenix meal-replacement shakes. They truly nourish my body and leave me feeling satisfied. Plus its easy, and I make less trips to the grocery. Win-win.

To anyone who is considering doing the 9-day cleanse, I encourage you to go for it. It sounds much worse than it is. Here I am, nearing on the end of day two, and I'm smiling, not starving and feeling very accomplished. If I can do it, anyone can... that I assure you! And if you're a cynic like I was, see the proof below:

My final weight loss after my last day came to 10 pounds! Better than I expected!!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Isagenix 9-Day Cleanse: Day 8

Woo-hoo! We're into the home stretch now... just two days to go.

Unlike my original plan, I ended up just starting my cleanse this morning instead of yesterday evening. I didn't realize that the process was a little more involved if you're starting it at night.

I've had an epiphany if you will... I have decided that I no longer want to consume any artificial sweeteners. The funny thing is, if you'd have talked to me last week, I couldn't get enough of them. I was a self-professed diet coke-aholic. And like I've mentioned before, I cheated a few times on this cleanse already by having a diet soda. Now don't get me wrong, I still think diet coke is the best tasting thing ever, and it will take lots of will-power to not consume one (or two) every day. BUT, after careful research and consideration, I feel its best for me and my weight loss efforts that I leave the artificial sweeteners from now on. I'm not going to bore you with the scientific details, but if you want to know more about it, just google it.

At the beginning of this week I found a flavored water that was so amazingly delicious, I vowed to never have another diet coke if I could just drink this instead. I'll spare you the brand, because this story doesn't have a happy ending. The label said "naturally flavored," so I was sold. PLUS it was fizzy like a soda. Sadly, I knew it was too good to be true. Come to find out, these waters are packed with Splenda. UGH.

I set out to find a flavored water that was not artificially sweetened. That's pretty hard to do! I did end up finding a water called Hint at WholeFoods. Its naturally flavored, no additives and 100% healthy. I tried the watermelon flavor, and the flavor is extremely subtle. Almost disappointingly subtle, but from what I'm reading online now, the watermelon flavor is the lightest of them all. Hint does make a "fizzy" version of their water, but it seems pretty hard to come by. Even Amazon is sold out! I'm still on the hunt for the perfect flavored, even possibly sparkling, water. Don't get me wrong, I drink plain water all day long... but a little variety neva' hurt nobody.

Onto the cleanse...

 I have decided I hate the Isagenix Snacks. Over time they have gotten more and more unbearable. I asked Emily if I could just skip them altogether, but she said the sugars and calories in these little chalky discs are necessary on a cleanse day. However, she did say I could just replace them with a fourth of an apple or pear, which I plan to do now. I could grin and bear it, but I'd just rather not.

Other than that, so far this cleanse day is easier the second time around. I know what to expect now, and I am well aware of how my body will respond. With today and tomorrow to go, I can already say that aside from the weight loss, I think this cleanse has helped me to see the bigger picture when it comes to health. I'm ready to eat clean. I'm prepared to begin teaching Lea the importance of making healthy choices.

Now if only we could convert her Ramen Noodle eating, coke drinking father... lol. One day at a time!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Isagenix 9-Day Cleanse: Days 5, 6 and 7

This cleanse is so easy that I've completely forgotten to blog about it. The whole reason I chose to put my experience in writing was to keep myself on track and put it all out in the universe so I had no choice but to follow all the rules. Come to find out, this cleanse isn't hard to follow at all! This is my fourth shake day in a row, and this diet is a piece of cake. Ehh... okay, let's leave cake out of this.

I have come to love my shakes in the morning. They keep me full, they taste good (I'm still adding cocoa powder to my vanilla shake) and best of all I know I am getting the nutrients I need. My Mom (who loves the chocolate shakes) and I have decided to continue with the shakes for a while, then do another cleanse in the near future. I placed an order last night for a vanilla and chocolate canister of shake mix, and the 2 oz. bottles of Cleanse for Life so that I'll have them ready for a future cleanse.

These shake days have been pretty routine. A shake for breakfast, with an accelerator pill. Then, for a snack, I like to have 5 - 10 almonds. I've become less fond of the Isagenix Snacks, and reserve those for only cleanse days now. My lunches have consisted of homemade veggie lasagna and sliced chicken breast sandwich wraps. I must say it has been quite easy to find healthy, low-cal lunch options. I have my afternoon snack and of course a shake for dinner and lots and lots of water throughout the day. I can't lie... I have popped a couple goldfish while feeding Lea a snack, and we split a banana yesterday afternoon. Yes, I've had a diet coke here or there too. But I have been good for the most part. I never feel too hungry. I have a lot of energy. I really can't believe how much I love this product!

6 pounds down with 2 1/2 days to go!

On Tuesday (Cleanse day 6), I hopped on the scale and if it weren't for my broken foot, I'd have done a cartwheel right through my office. I had already lost six pounds! And that is without any exercise! I know what you might be thinking... that I'll gain it right back after the cleanse, right? Well, apparently this is not the case, because unlike other cleanses on the market, the Isagenix Cleanse is a nutritional cleanse. I will have to stick to my newly formed healthy habits however, but this 9-day cleanse is giving me the motivation to do just that.

The first question people have been asking is how much does this product cost. The 9-day system costs $132, and there is a first-time fee of $29 included for the Annual Associate Support System. With shipping included, my total came to $187. Did it kill me to pay that much for a 9-day cleanse that I wasn't even sure I could do? YES. Am I glad I did it? YES! I think it was worth every penny, because it has started me on the right foot to begin making healthier choices when it comes to eating and getting to my goal weight. I can't put a price on that. And, I didn't even much as blink when re-ordering my shakes and cleanse drinks, because I now know how beneficial these products are to my weight loss and overall health.

Tonight I am going to start my cleanse so that I can have a shake at the end of day two, which if you've done two cleanse days in a row, you know that is a sweet deal :)

If you are interested in learning more about the Isagenix 9-Day Cleanse, click here.

Monday, June 4, 2012

First Day Blues

This morning was Lea's very first day at daycare. Since I went back to work after she came home, she's been staying with an in-home sitter whom I've dubbed the "baby whisperer." Lea loves her, and dropping her off every day was a breeze. Each morning, Lea couldn't wait to see the only friends she'd ever known. She never cried. She was happy, very loved and felt secure.

I work at a college, and a child-care center was opened a year ago on campus for children of students and employees. The center is state-of-the-art. The children do art projects, have a ton of toys, playgrounds, a water area and fresh, nutritious meals and snacks. The facility is spotless and well equipped with everything you can imagine. As I toured the facility last week, all of the children seemed happy, just as Lea was with the "baby whisperer."

I decided to enroll Lea into this child-care center on campus because she is ready for more structure and new challenges. Plus, its very convenient to be able to bring her to work with me every day. Typically it is pretty hard to get a spot and the center due to the ratio of teachers to students, but since the summer months are less crowded, we got in. We had a long list of supplies to get in preparation of Lea's first day, including jumbo crayons, glue sticks and construction paper. 

Lea with her big bag of supplies - 6/4/12
Today was Lea's very first day. I listened as my sweet girl sang along to the radio in the back seat and giggled as I drove to work. I felt so guilty knowing that in a few short minutes I'd be handing her off to a complete stranger in an unfamiliar place. I had that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I used to get on the first day of school, or right before a job interview.

We walked in, and were greeted with smiles. I signed Lea in and walked her down to her classroom. I could feel her little body tensing up as we neared the door. When I set her down in the classroom, she clung to my leg. Her teacher, Ms. Coffee, picked her up as Lea kept her eyes on me. She stuck that lip out and reached for me, and it broke my heart.

"She was a preemie..." I began to tell Ms. Coffee. I don't know why I felt the need to tell her this, considering how well Lea is doing developmentally. But I told her anyway. Maybe it was an unintentional ploy to score Lea a little more patience and love from her new teacher on her very first day.

As I gave Lea kisses and hugged her goodbye, I assured her that I would be back later. I hope she understood what I was saying. I waved bye to the kids, and one little girl even told me "buenos días." (The kids in Lea's class are learning Spanish.) I closed the door, and could see that pouty little face turn into a full-on, gut-wrenching cry.

My eyes exploded with tears as soon as that door shut. As I walked down that hallway and back across the front desk, the receptionist had a tissue waiting.

"She's gonna be fine, momma!" she assured me. I knew she was right.

I remember exactly what a first day feels like when you are young. I was definitely that child who cried and clung to my mom when she brought me somewhere new. For the first few days of first-grade, my mom drove behind my school bus so I could see her out of the back window. Looking back, I realize that couldn't have been easy on my mom. Now I know that being the mommy in this situation is one-hundred times worse.

Lea playing, far left
By ten, I was still sitting at my desk in a puddle, so I walked over to take a peek in Lea's class. When I got there, they were on their way to the playground. The one year old class was lined up in the hallway, and she wasn't hard to spot with her big purple bow. She is by far the smallest in her class. All the kids followed in line as they made their way out of the back door, and I could hear Lea's loud mouth exclaiming "ooooooohhhh!!!," as she grabbed a ball, then made her way to the water fountain which sprays out a light mist of cool water for the children to walk under.

Its was such a good feeling to see her playing and smiling. She walked hand in hand with one of the teacher's aides, and kept close to a couple of the little girls in her class. I know in my heart this will be a great transition for her. I know she is a strong little girl and that she will be fine. I just need to come to grips that my baby won't be a baby forever, and we'll have lots of transitions like this in life. Its just another reminder to enjoy every second, because nothing stays the same for long.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Isagenix 9-Day Cleanse: Day 4

I made a new discovery today. I had been using my small magic bullet blender to mix my shakes, but because they were coming out SO smooth with no icy texture, I didn't really like them. I switched to my big blender hoping that would help, but when I put it on smoothie mode, the consistency was still too smooth for me. For my lunch-time shake, I used "icy drink" mode instead of "smoothie" mode, and it made a difference. Those little specks of ice take away from the chalky texture, and it feels more like I am having an ice cream shake, which momma likes.

The only other thing I am trying differently today is since I had a shake for breakfast and lunch, I am having real dinner tonight. I have basically made my home a no-food zone for everyone aside from the people who have to eat (Lea and Lain.) It will be a nice change of pace to enjoy a healthy meal in the evening.

I have a low-cal and very healthy veggie lasagna cooking in my crock pot, which I'll be eating for lunch this week. I'll let you know if its good! Here's a link to the recipe.

For those people who think they could never do a cleanse like this, let me just tell you. Once you get started, its really easy to keep on track. I notice not only do I have more energy, but I also am less hungry. That's a win-win in my book! My biggest problem on this diet is not the diet itself, but deciding what tropical paradise I want to visit once I've hit my goal weight. This one looks nice...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Isagenix 9-Day Cleanse: Day 3

Today was a GREAT day, because I was able to eat REAL FOOD!! Love the shake days!

I started off with my shake, which unfortunately did not taste better to me after two cleanse days. I was still grateful for it though! I'm still thinking of ways to doctor it up without breaking the cleanse rules. Also, I had an accelerator pill.

My snack today was low-fat string cheese. I'm not sure whether or not this is even acceptable, but its all I had at home, and I couldn't eat another Isagenix Snack because I am tiring of those quickly. I so wish they were chewy and not chalky. Once again had an accelerator pill.

Okay, lunch. So de-lish. We went to P. F. Chang's and I had the chicken lettuce wraps as my entree (530 calories) and a cup of the egg drop soup (60 calories.) Emily, stop reading at this point ----> Lain, Lea and I also split the edamame (380 calories total, about 125 per serving) so I went over my calorie limit just a bit. Oops. I was so excited to eat!

We took Lea to the Children's Museum today, and we spent over an hour chasing her around the place. That is what I'm counting for my exercise today! I think lifting and carrying a twenty pound toddler counts. 

I completely forgot to do a snack by the end of the day, and by 8:30 I didn't even feel hungry, but I made myself drink a shake anyway.

All in all, it was a great day. My tummy felt flatter, I had more energy and I had a wonderful time with my pretty little family.

Woohoo! Goodbye day five!

Isagenix 9-Day Cleanse: Day 2

Today was a rinse, lather, repeat kind of day (minus the IsaDelights, because I only had two samples and had them both yesterday.) Four cleanse drinks throughout the day, six Isagenix Snacks and two Natural Accelerator pills. Am I hungry? Yes. Am I fantasizing about eating an Izzo's Illegal Burrito? Hell yes. But my quest to get my pre-baby body back is more important. With four of the eleven days down, and a real 600 calorie lunch tomorrow that cannot come soon enough, I'm feeling positive and motivated.

Just a heads up, don't mix your Cleanse for Life with really cold water. The powder has a hard time dissolving, then you end up with "clumpies." Yuck. Room temperature water works best, and you can add ice if you want it colder.

Lain and I brought Lea for a snoball this evening. I was good! As they divulged into their pina colada and wedding cake snoballs, I had an "ice" ball (no syrup). Better than nothing I guess.

Overall, by the end of the day I came to the conclusion that this whole not eating for two days thing is way easier than I thought it would be. It takes a little will power, but if you are committed, you can do it.

Four days down! Seven to go...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Isagenix 9-Day Cleanse: Day 1

I woke up feeling ready to take on the challenge of the two cleanse days. I had my first of four Cleanse for Life drinks as soon as I woke up, as well as a Natural Accelerator pill. It wasn't as bad as I expected, and I was able to get it down pretty easily. On my drive to work, I began having stomach cramps. Emily let me know to drink a LOT of water, and once I did, my aching stomach subsided. At about 9:30, I had my IsaDelight, which you can eat 30 minutes before your Isagenix Snacks. The great thing about the IsaDelights, other than that they are chocolate, is that the amino acids in these little squares encourage natural production of mood-elevating brain chemicals which help to satisfy appetite. At ten, I had my Isagenix Snacks and continued consuming as much water as possible.

By noon, I was surprised I didn't feel hungry. I'm usually pestering my co-workers to leave for lunch by 11:30. For lunch I had my Cleanse for Life, and another Natural Accelerator pill. I just mixed the Cleanse powder with the little bit of water I had left in my water bottle from this morning, and shot it like I'd shoot tequila, with my eyes closed and nose pinched. The taste is not horrible, but its the dark color that freaks me out. I guess I could add more water, but then there would be more to drink.

At two, I had my second IsaDelights because I was starting to feel hungry. That was enough to settle my stomach, and I followed that with my Isagnix Snacks thirty minutes later. About half an hour later though, I felt hungry again. I just continued to drink water and did some online retail therapy to pass the time. By 3:30 I caved and ate 1/4 of an apple. It's allowed! It was seriously the best apple I've ever eaten.

At four, I had my third Cleanse for Life drink. Those seem to work best in curbing my hunger. Then, my mom, Lea and I went to the mall and did some shopping. Shopping can take my mind off of anything, including not eating. I wasn't even phased when we passed the food court. I'm lucky to have my mom along in this journey -- having a partner in crime makes it easier. Side note: Lea got her first Build-A-Bear. We had so much fun watching her walking around the store pointing at shoes and exclaiming "ooooooh!" She is one cute little distraction! She opted for a Bunny with a pink dress and pink wedges. We named her Rosie.

We got home around 8:30, and I drank my final cleanse of the day. By 9:30 I felt hungry, so I called it a night. One more day of cleansing to go. I can't wait for a shake because me so hungry!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Isagenix 9-Day Cleanse: Pre-Cleanse Day 2

My second pre-cleanse day was pretty much the same as the first. I started with a shake for breakfast, a Natural Accelerator pill and lots of water. I had a little trouble getting the shakes down the first day because of the chalky taste, so Emily suggested adding cocoa powder to my shakes. (I have the french vanilla flavor.) I added half a teaspoon, and it made a big difference, or at least psychologically it did. I guzzled it down. Apparently the shakes taste much better after two cleanse days, so I'll try the shake in its pure form again on Saturday.

I had 10 almonds mid-morning for a snack, then went to Chili's for lunch. They have a great low-cal menu. I got the grilled chicken salad (grilled chicken, lettuce, corn, black beans, tomatoes and cheese... nom nom), which has 430 calories. It was quite delicious, and if you're planning on eating out on shake days or just too busy to pack a lunch, I suggest dining at Chili's. Since I opted for the lower end of the allowable calorie scale, I allowed myself one diet coke (even though its against the rules). Its my crack, what can I say?

430 calorie lunch

Before long, it was snack time and I had an apple. I seem to do better with my sweeter snack in the afternoon. I'm looking forward to my cleanse day tommorrow, because I get to try the IsaDelight. I am usually a fan of anything chocolate, and I'm sure I'll be thankful for ANYthing I can nibble on during the cleanse.

Dinner was another shake, this one was much better. Maybe I am getting used to them. I spent the rest of the evening shopping at Walt-Mart and cleaning house, so if I was hungry, I didn't notice. I also spent a good amount of time calculating how to build a 600 calorie burrito at Izzo's Illegal Burrito. Looks like that's not happening. Sad face.

Until day 3...

Isagenix 9-Day Cleanse: Pre-Cleanse Day 1

Here's my review of the two pre-cleanse days before the Isagenix 9-Day Cleanse. My goal is to lose 15 pounds, so I'm hoping this cleanse will be a great start to my weight loss goal. I also hope to break the addiction I have to artificial sweeteners, and to maintain a healthier and cleaner way of eating. Last, I just want to look damn good in a two-piece, so if I lose all the poundage, I am treating myself to a new bikini and a cruise vacation. I'd say that's worth it...

Today was my first pre-cleanse day with the Isagenix cleanse. There are two pre-cleanse days before the 9-day cleanse begins. I started off my day by drinking a bottle of water, then made my shake for breakfast. The shake is not horrible. I have the vanilla flavor, and it tastes a little like cool whip; not much taste and very creamy. I took a Natural Accelerator pill, and breakfast was served!

Mid-morning I had my Isagenix Snacks! These little wafers are not as bad as they look. The vanilla flavor is sweet, texture a little chalky and most importantly help hold you over until lunch. I can imagine on a cleanse day that these can be pretty tasty. For lunch, I had half of an egg salad sandwich, rice pilaf and fruit, totaling 600 calories, as well as another Natural Accelerator pill. By 1 p.m., I had already consumed 70 ounces of water.

600 calorie lunch
My afternoon snack was a half of an apple and five almonds, and of course more water. I had my second shake at 5:30 p.m., but still felt a little hungry. Emily came over to take my measurements she brought me some samples of the milk chocolate IsaDelights to eat on my cleanse days.

Other than a rumbly tummy, I had a killer headache. I assumed it was the caffeine withdrawals, so I broke the rules and had a small amount of Diet Dr. Pepper. Surprisingly, this didn't help at all. My 20 minutes of exercise was spent cleaning house and chasing Lea around... tomorrow I'm going to try my best to get some real exercise in. With this busy girl and broken foot, its going to be a challenge, but I'm up for it!

Overall, the first cleanse day was not so bad. I can handle the shake days; its the cleanse days that make me nervous. On to day 2!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cops & Toddlers

Since January, Lain has been spending his weekday evenings enrolled in the police academy. It has always been a dream of his to be a police officer, and he finally decided at the beginning of this year to make the commitment. With Lain away from home in the evenings, it has left lots of time for Lea and I to hang, but we've definitely missed Daddy. Its been quite the challenge, especially chasing after a toddler while nursing a broken foot. (Long story short... super high heels right after foot surgery is never a good idea.) Lea has gone from crawling, to walking to practically running this month, and keeping up with her is sometimes exhausting.

Lea playing with her bestie, Sophie
Mornings with Dad

Thanks to my wonderful parents, in-laws, Nene, Ben, Adam, Jac-Jac my bestie Tracy and Lea's bestie, Sophie-Lou for hanging with us while Lain was away from home. Your company is very much appreciated :) And thank you to Lain, who has graciously taken over all parental duties in the mornings to give me a little extra time to get ready. Cheerios in bed with Dad has become quite the morning tradition.

Tonight, Lain finally graduated from the academy. Let me just tell you, he looks mighty fine in a uniform :) Other than simply looking good, I know he is going to make one hell of a police officer. He is so smart, brave, intuitive, patient and dedicated--all things an officer should be. I am so proud of him. I don't know how he juggles so many things, but he does it to be the best provider for our family that he can be, and he does a great job.

Just a quick Lea update, other than walking, she is babbling her head off and saying new words every day. The other day she yelled "na-na" and pointed right and at banana and signed "want." She is a smart cookie. She loves to dance, and is constantly making up new moves. She definitely gets that from her dad. She has a real sense of humor, and loves to make us laugh by making her "squishy" face. (See below) She loves accessories, shoes, purses, sunglasses, etc. That, she gets from me.

Developmentally, she is catching up to her gestational age fast thanks to her wonderful therapists. She is finally on the charts, making the 3rd percentile for weight in her age group. I am so proud of her, and I cannot tell you how many times since she was born I have thanked God for blessing me with this beautiful, healthy miracle of a child.

My favorite squishy face.

In other news, I have decided to write a children's book, starring none other than my Thumba-Lea. So there... I've put my idea out there in the universe. Now that gives me no choice but to get it done. Wish me luck. And time. And patience. And creativity.

Thanks so much :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Baby Got Back... and Other Jiggly Parts

Nearly 17 months of motherhood has already passed. Time is flying! I can honestly say this is the happiest I have even been, and that Lea has completely enhanced my universe. In fact, I'm so obliviously happy in my little motherhood bubble, that I seem to have forgone all control whatsoever when it comes to food. If I want ice cream, we go get ice cream. Pancakes for breakfast? BRING IT. Lain and I are always out to eat, and more times than not we order dessert (In these cases Lain has two bites, and I eat the rest.) After 17 months, I no longer have an excuse why I can feel my butt jiggle when I am moving at any speed faster than a slow walk, or why for the first time I have a legitimate tummy roll when I am in a sitting position. I can no longer blame it on the repercussions of having a baby, because honestly, my little muffin isn't a baby anymore :(

If there's one thing that could make life even better than it is now, it would be having my toned, tight pre-Lea body back. Man, I took that body for granted. In an effort to jump-start my interest in getting fit, I decided to do the Isagenix 9-Day Cleanse. My friend Emily is a fitness model and personal trainer, and has been using the product for a while with tremendous results.

Typically when I want to lose weight, I just pump up the cardio. However, with a broken foot, that's not an option, and drastically changing my diet is all I can do right now. Luckily, my mom has decided to do the program with me. Like she says, you can do anything for nine days. Hopefully, this will be true for me, because the thought of missing of meal damn near kills me.

Me & my Momma: Soon to be two skinny bitches.

I plan to document this nine day regimen to help other moms that may be in the same boat as me. However, do NOT expect any before and after bikini shots. I've already threatened Emily with her life if she EVER posts any of my photos to facebook haha. I will post a fully-clothed before and after pictures though just so you can see the results once I'm done.

Also, let me just say I have no affiliation with the Isagenix program whatsoever, so this will be a brutally honest review of the 9-Day Cleanse. I'm fully prepared for it to suck, but I know I can do it if I put my mind to it. Also, I know once I see results, my motivation to be healthy will kick in. I would advise, however, to steer clear of me during these nine days because I am known to be an extremely cranky, hateful bitch when I am hungry.

I am starting the diet plan the Tuesday after Memorial Day (May 29) , so if anyone wants to do it with me, contact Emily on her Facebook page sooner than later to get your supplies in.

Also, since I'm not starting till the 29th, if anyone wants to go out to eat this week AND get dessert, Holllllla!!!! :) I have one week left of enjoying the good things in life ;)

Monday, April 16, 2012

God doesn't call the qualified...

On Wednesday, April 25, I will be speaking in front of the Louisiana Legislature at the Capital, in support of Bill 662, which provides for the Premature Infant Hospital Discharge and Quality Improvement Act. I will be giving my testament of our experience with Lea, as well as talking about how this bill could help families with premature babies.

Let me just say that I HATED public speaking in college. In fact, If I told you I never chugged a beer before class to ease my nerves, I'd be lying. That being said, I'm am super nervous about getting up in front of tons of people and speaking. I keep trying to remind myself that my reasons for doing this are much bigger than my fears.

I am doing this to support the beautiful miracle babies who are born too soon every single day. I'm speaking for all the preemie parents who are currently sitting with their arms through tiny isolette holes, holding their baby's tiny hand, or struggling with the emotional repercussions that come with having a preemie. I'm taking a stand so that I know what my family and I went through with Lea will never be in vain. God has taught me so much through our journey and given me so much knowledge, that I know he wants me to use it. I've always wondered how God would use me, and I feel like this is it. If He has faith in me, then I need to learn to have faith in myself.

And if I had any doubt at all that this is where God wants me, I got some serious reassurance today. One of Lea's NICU nurses contacted me to put me in touch with another preemie mother who had stumbled across my blog, not realizing we'd been in the same NICU. Well come to find out, my new preemie-momma friend has experience as an advocate herself, and used to coach people to testify before the state house and senate. She has experience testifying as well, and of course had tons of advice and tips for me to make me more prepared for Wednesday. Coincidence? I think not.

Please wish me luck on my first venture advocating for the tiniest of humans. I may not be the best public speaker, and I may stumble over a word or two, but I am going to have faith that God will "qualify the called," and help me through it. And just to be clear... if you ever feel that God has called upon you to do something that you don't think you can do, refer back to the saying above.

Below is the letter that I wrote to Senator Sherri Smith Buffington, which I will be reading Wednesday, sharing my support for Senate Bill 662.


Dear Senator Sherri Smith Buffington,

I am writing this letter to you today to express my strong support of your introduction of Senate Bill 662.

On January 4, 2011, I gave birth to my daughter Lea at the gestational age of 29 weeks. She entered this world as a micro-preemie, weighing in at a mere one pound, 14 ounces, earning herself the nickname “Thumba-Lea.” She spent 64 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at East Jefferson General Hospital, where she received the highest quality of care imaginable.  For 64 days, everyday, twice a day, my husband and I visited that NICU. We’d hold Lea’s hand through the tiny porthole in her isolette, we’d watch as the nurse bathed and weighed her, and once a day, if it was a good day, one of us would have the chance to hold her. Each morning we’d wait nervously for the phone call from the Neonatologist, giving us an update on Lea’s prognosis. Weeks passed, and Lea learned to breathe on her own without respiratory support, and began to drink from a bottle, even if it was just a few cubic centimeters at a time.  Our patience and faith were tested again and again, but our sweet Thumba-Lea’s fighting spirit inspired us to remain positive. After a very long 64 days, she was finally ready to come home.

Lea was discharged from the hospital on Mardi Gras day, and my husband and I carefully paraded our tiny five-pound miracle home. We left the hospital with a thick stack of paperwork, our baby girl attached to a breathing monitor and a wide array of verbal instructions regarding follow-up care. For two new, young parents, the entire discharge experience was quite overwhelming.  Much of the information given to us regarding follow-up healthcare and services fell on preoccupied ears. Instructions came from many different sources over the weeks, leading up to Lea’s discharge, but unfortunately, not all instructions were put to memory, due to the volume of information and distractions at hand.

Once we were safely home, I had many questions, thoughts and fears. In hindsight, though I had the support of my husband, family and friends made in the NICU, another support system would have been quite beneficial.  To have the same type of support we’d experienced in the NICU for those 64 days would have made a world of difference in our baby’s homecoming and months to follow. One of the most important pieces of information I had forgotten was enrolling Lea in Early Steps. During a visit to the NICU months later to say hello to our dear nurses, one of them reminded me about the program. Had we not visited that day, I fear I would have completely missed the opportunity to take advantage of such a remarkable program, to which I completely owe Lea’s strong developmental progress.

I was one of the lucky preemie parents, as I had a world of support from my family. I think about the single parents, the teen mothers and others who do not have the support that I had. My heart breaks for these parents, knowing the stress involved in bringing a premature baby home, but it is a great relief to know that Senate Bill 662 could provide the support that all preterm parents desperately need when bringing their babies home.

Having experienced all that comes with being a preterm parent, I now stand as an advocate for preemie babies and their families. This is why I believe so passionately that Senate Bill 662 should be passed, so that support for preterm parents can be improved, inevitably improving the outcomes for preterm infants in Louisiana.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Faux Dough" - A Healthy Cure for a Sweet Tooth

Oh cookie dough, how I love thee. You may be one of my most favorite treats in the world. But let's be real. You're a jerk... you make me fat.

As a self-proclaimed sweets junky, I feel it is my duty as a Mom to start researching healthy alternatives to junk food that I can serve to Lea. A while back, I pinned a recipe for a healthy, sugar-free cookie dough dip on my "healthy foods" board on Pinterest. Like the majority of the other recipes I pin, I planned on making it one day when I had time.... pssshhhh. Time? Really??

This cookie dough dip recipe*  (that includes chickpeas and pitted dates) intrigued me. So, I finally decided to make the time to create this strange little concoction to see if it really lived up to all the hype it was receiving on the web. If there's anyone else in this world with a bigger sweet tooth than me, its Lea, so I let her be the judge. Here she is taking the first taste. Clearly, she was a fan

Now let's not get it twisted cookie dough lovers, the dip alone is not the same as eating a big scoop of raw cookie dough. BUT, if you're trying to be healthy and are open to trying new things... its not a bad substitution. Instead of cookie dough, I found the dip to be more like a chocolate chip hummus. Chocolate chips = good. Hummus = good. All in all, success.

Just to be sure I wasn't tricking my taste buds into liking it... I brought the dip to work to share with my co-workers. Three out of three employees agree that its really good! One ate the dip on carrot slices, while I ate mine on apples. Even my co-worker who is the pickiest of the picky eaters said she liked it. She had her's atop a Nature Valley bar. (I still haven't told her what's in it lol. Surprise, Chantrice!)

Other options for dipping: graham crackers, pretzels, animal crackers, any type of fruit.

If anyone else tries this recipe, please let me know if you like it, and if you make any modifications to the ingredients! There is another version of this recipe that does not include dates, its just not sugar-free. Still pretty healthy though! Here's the link.

Thanks Chocolate Covered Katie for this unique and healthy recipe!

* Substituted oil for nut butter.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New York State of Mind

My husband ROCKS.

For Valentine's Day, he surprised me with a weekend getaway to New York. This was my first vacation sans Lea, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hesitant about leaving her, even if it was only for three days. That's the longest I've EVER been away from her. I was so afraid she'd take her first steps or learn a new word while I was gone... So with my fingers crossed that no major milestones would be missed, Lain and I set off for a romantical, grown-up weekend in the city that doesn't sleep.

We did SO much in just two days. We perused Time Square, went to a comedy show, got massages, rode the subway, visited Rockefeller Center, took a carriage ride through Central Park, ate some seriously good and authentic Italian food and of course visited FAO Schwarz to buy a couple gifts for Lea. My sweet hubby was so incredibly patient with me, and did all the girly things I wanted to do like visit Carrie Bradshaw's doorstep, shop at H&M and my new favorite, Century 21, and of course we had to get ice cream at Serendipity. (Hour and a half wait no less... Lain = super patient.) We had such a blast, and my favorite part was just walking around the city with the hubs as we both explored someplace new for the first time. It was a vacation I'll never forget. Thank you Lain for such an awesome surprise!


Rockefeller Center


FAO Schwarz


Carrie Bradshaw's Apartment

Oh, and we made it back home just in time to take Miss Muffin to her very first Mardi Gras parade. Although she was a little under the weather, I think she liked it :) Its hard to believe that last Mardi Gras day was the day she came home after 64 days in the hospital. Very special milestone in this family today :)

Happy Mardi Gras everyone! <3