argyle

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Weighting and Weighting...

I’m disappointed in myself.

I’m disappointed that my eating has been so bad. That’s a big one. I’m disappointed that I haven’t been exercising enough, or hard enough. And that I haven’t been hitting my running goals. And I’m disappointed that my health hasn’t been an even REMOTE focus for me during the past month.

But, do you want to know what I’m even more disappointed about? My attitude.

So I had a crappy eating month. Those used to happened EVERY month! And those horrendous bingey days? Those used to be weekly – or more!

So I skipped a few gym days. Last year I wasn’t exercising at ALL.

And so what if I still can’t run my 5k in under 30 minutes? This past fall, I could barely do it under 40! And that was really pushing myself!

I may have gained 9 pounds from my lower (3 above the top of my goal range), but I am back on track. I’m sure at least some of that will come off as quickly as it came on. I’m eating well and hitting the gym again, and what I SHOULD be thinking is this:

I’ve made so much progress over the past year. One bad month doesn’t erase that.

Let’s all agree to be less hard on ourselves. Sometimes, being our own personal cheerleader is all the motivation we need.

P.S. Want a tip on getting back on track when you've really blown it and just can't get motivated? Instead of saying "I'll start again tomorrow", say "I'll start again next week" (or whatever). You will get SO impatient waiting to relaunch your healthy habits that you'll probably end up doing it sooner!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Party Like a 4-Year-Old

Sunday, as you may know, was the first time I’ve ever hosted a kid-only party. My sister was there to help, but none of the other kids’ parents were present. This was a big deal for me. A very big deal. "Let the chaos begin" was my mantra.

It was scary. It was exciting. And guess what? It was a lot of fun!

We kept the party small – only 5 guests, plus the birthday girl. My son napped for the entire party, which was a blessing because I was busy enough! The theme was My Little Pony, and everyone loved it – even the boys!

I made some decorations…complete with removable stickers, so they can be reused for future parties:







I dressed for the occasion:





I went all out (for me at least) with other decorations too…







I loved this background…such a good idea for getting photos of the party guests!



We played some games…



We created new ponies...





We had some yummy food…





I baked a delicious cake…(the featured pony is Ploomette, FYI)



I even dyed some of the batter pink to create a marbling effect. The kids didn’t seem to notice though :P



We had a lot of fun, and my daughter got some awesome gifts…and when it was all over, prizes and goody bags were distributed.



(Here is an idea that I highly recommend: hand out the game prizes while the birthday girl or boy is opening their gifts. It gives the guests something to focus on so they don’t get jealous!)

The party lasted 2 and a half hours, and that was just a perfect amount of time for this age group. I am so glad that I decided to try out a “friend” party this year…and I can’t wait until the next one!

P.S. Would anyone be interested in a post about doing a party on a budget? I do have some ideas that I could share…

Monday, May 27, 2013

Party Like a 4-Year-Old

My daughter is officially four years old. Where does the time go?



It is truly infuriating how quickly children grow.

The festivities began on Thursday (her actual birthday). I had to work, but that was okay. Aaralyn had nursery school in the morning, and because her Auntie was on duty that day, the class got some special cookies during snack time. When I got home from work, we had a small family celebration with dinner, carrot cake (she loved it!), and of course presents. Her favourite gift of the night? The My Little Pony train set from her Aunt and Uncle!

On Friday, I had the day off from work. And it was MY duty day at the nursery school. It also happened to be "Princess and Pirate" day, which was a lot of fun for the kids. Aaralyn dressed up in the Cinderella outfit she received from my mom as a birthday gift. There were games and activities - such a fun morning! Afterwards, my husband and I took her out for lunch and off for some post-birthday fun. We took her on a big Ferris Wheel ride in a nearby city, went to a "Ripley's Believe it or Not" Museum, and then hit up a Midway area. That was a LOT of fun. She really enjoyed playing the games, and TWO separate families gave us their extra tickets. The tickets are used to buy prizes after, and we had enough for TWO Webkins! She picked out an elephant for herself and a dinosaur for her little brother. And of course we passed on OUR extra tickets to another family with two kids. Gotta pay it forward!

Sunday was her "kid" party, but I'll make a separate post about that later...and about how much weight I've gained, and what it took for me to get back on track!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cranky Pants

I am a grump today.

I haven’t been eating well, as you know (actually it’s worse than you know). I’m struggling to find adequate time to exercise (this week is mostly a write-off). I miss my kids when I’m at work. And my husband is leaving for a month at the end of this week. Everything is just blah.

BUT…I am hoping that the next few days will put me in a better mood. Tomorrow is my daughter’s birthday (insert clich├ęd “I can’t believe she’s 4 already” remarks), and even though I’m working, I’m looking forward to celebrating with the family in the evening. Also, on Friday, my husband and I are taking her out for some fun (can you say “big giant Ferris Wheel”?), and on Sunday she has a party with some of her little friends. It will be the first kid-only party that I’ve hosted, so it’s a little bit intimidating! I’ll make sure to post some pictures 

In food news, last night for dinner I had a poutine and a chocolate milk shake from Burger King. Today I am back on track, and I just feel that I am in the right mindset to get back on track. And I MIGHT be able to sneak in some gym time tonight. Maybe.

If only I could ditch this grumpy mood…

P.S. Yes, Shanny, I will post some pictures of my greeting cards soon. Just don’t set your expectations too high!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Scary Gain, Getting Crafty, and Summer Lovin’

Remember my post about hitting my goal, feeling awesome, and finally throwing on a bikini? Well, a few days after that, I started a week of eating like complete garbage. Why, I don’t know. “Too many events going on” was my excuse. So I ate and ate. And in that week, I gained 10 pounds.

Yes, you read that correctly. TEN POUNDS. Holy moly. In a few days of eating better,half of that is gone. But STILL. Why did I let myself go that far off track? I guess I just need to except that this eating stuff will always be a bit of a fight for me. There is no finishline.

In order to avoid shoving everything on earth into my mouth all evening long, I’ve been crafting up a storm. I still haven’t decided on a “bigger” project (probably something sewing related), but I decided that I needed to do something with the copious amount of scrapbooking materials that I had lying around. So I started making greeting cards.

Birthday cards, note cards, thank you cards…you name it, I’m making it. I’m even getting ahead of myself and making some Christmas cards using, among other things, old gift tags. And I’m making gift tags out of old cards. Creative AND good for the environment. Remember, “reuse” comes before “recycle”!!! It’s kind of nice having a little fun project to work on at night once the kids are in bed!

I’m also starting to really look forward to the summer. I do love spring, but ours has been a bit on the rainy and cool side. I can’t wait until I can sit outside in shorts and a tank (and not feel self conscious, like last summer), or duck into the pool after work, or share some ice cream with my little ones. Okay, that last one has happened already. A few times! What can I say? Ice cream + oreos = best combo ever!

I hope you all have a great week!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Warning: this blog post is serious in nature. However, I am really and truly hoping that you will read it anyway, despite the fact that it has nothing to do with fitness or food or crafting or kids. A tragedy has happened within my community, and it’s been tugging at my heart strings. I just can’t get it off my mind. And neither can so many others.

Last Monday, a man named Tim Bosma went missing after taking two men for a test drive in a truck he was looking to sell. A totally normal thing that people do every day in many countries of the world. Except it wasn’t normal this time – because he never returned home. I’m not sure what it was about this case that really got to me. Maybe it was because he’s around the same age as my husband. Maybe it was due to watching his wife’s tearful plea, begging for his safe return to her and their 2-year-old daughter. Or maybe it’s because of how innocent the situation appeared to be – and how scary that makes it for everyone.

A week went by, one of several suspects was in custody, but there was still no sign of Tim. Until there was. And it was not the happy ending so many of us had prayed for.

Tim Bosma was murdered, stolen from his family, friends, and community. A church-going family man, friend to many, with no hint of a troubled past, just gone. Here one minute, into heaven’s gates the next.

It is heartbreaking. It is angering. And it is so unfair.

As I mentioned, he was just trying to sell a truck. Another man had been approached by the same individuals the day before, but ended up safe at home. Whatever these monsters were looking for, he didn’t have. And whatever the motive, it is simply not good enough.

I’m praying for Tim’s family, who is relying on prayers right now to try to get through this horrific time. I am praying for his friends, who will never be the same. And I’m praying for the investigators, working so hard to bring those responsible to justice. I hope that they find them. And I hope that they pay.

More than anything, I am praying that when the cause of death is revealed, we will find that this young father did not suffer. His loved ones deserve to know that much.

I know that the family is relying on prayers like these right now to try to get through this horrific time. If you wish, you can leave a comment with your name and province, state or country, and I can pass it via the official facebook page. That way, they will know that prayers and thoughts are coming from all over the world.

I think that his wife, Sharlene, said it best when she summarized the senselessness of the situation (when Tim was still missing): It was just a truck.

(Note: Blogger is not currently allowing me to add photos. To put a face to the name, please go here.)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Creative Life Designs Giveaway WINNER!!!

And the winner is...

COURTNEY H!!!! (winner chosen by random.org)

You have won a 15$ credit to use on anything you want! I will be contacting you via email with details on how to claim your prize.

To everyone else: remember that until the end of the month, you can still receive 15% off anything in their shop! Just use the code "BABYSTEPS" during check out!

Thanks to everyone who participated in my second giveaway! If you have an idea of who should host a future giveaway, please let me know!

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, May 13, 2013

How to Survive an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

First of all, I hope that everyone had a great Mother's Day. I know I did.

Second...I wrote this post a LOOONG time ago, but completely forgot to post it. However, I have a feeling that I am going to end up at one of those pesky restaurants tonight for my husband's birthday, so I thought now was the perfect time to review it! Simply follow this simple step-by-step instruction guide, and you’ll get through those tempting family dinners like a champ!



Step 1: Make a plan ahead of time, deciding what you will eat and what you will avoid

Step 2: Ignore your plan, realizing that it was too strict

Step 3: Order water. Restaurants use a ton of salt.

Step 4: Start with the salad bar. Fill at least half of your plate with ACTUAL salad and fruit before deciding on which higher-calorie options to sample.

Step 5: You do NOT need a sample of every bread product. Stop it!

Step 6: After the salad portion is done, move on to the main course. Try to fill half of your plate with vegetables (variety is key).

Step 7: Decide what you REALLY want to eat. You probably know the difference between food that looks good and food that tastes good. Treat yourself, but try to watch your portions.

Step 8: If your favourite food is really fatty, start with a small amount. You can always go back to get more (but chances are, you won’t...that of you'll go back 6 times...).

Step 9: Um, I see that giant spoonful you are about to scoop onto your plate. Cut your portion in half.

Step 10: Resist the urge to dive head-first into your plate. Eat slowly!

Step 11: The dessert course: perhaps the most difficult of all! I’d suggest reviewing all that the restaurant has to offer before putting anything on your plate. Decide what looks the absolute best, and get that. And enjoy it. Also, get some fruit. It’s good for you.

Step 12: Get to your weekly weigh-in (after giving yourself a few days to get rid of the extra salt you inevitably consumed). You haven’t gained a thing! Congratulations!

P.S. Last day to entre my Creative Designs GIVEAWAY!!!!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Big Hair, Car Accident, and other random stuff

First of all, just reminder that my Creative Designs Giveaway is still going on. Let's help boost this little business!

Second...I got in a minor car accident today. It was very minor - I got rear-ended. By a woman driving a hot pink Nissan. With Texas license plates. And she kept hugging me and rambling making sure that I was okay. It was kind of awesome.

And third...it's that time of year again. The dry winter weather is gone, and the fresh spring air has arrived. In fact, I'm already sensing a touch of summer humidity...and if you are a wavy or curly-haired lady like me, you know that only means one thing...

Time for the return of BIG HAIR!



I guess it could be worse? (It actually looked a lot crazier in person.)

Big hair, don't care.

Lately, I've felt my creative juices flowing. Once all of my favourite shows wrap up for the summer, I really want to start another craft project or projects. The problem is...I can't decide what to do. Another sewing project? Something for the home? For the kids? Deciding is always the hardest part. Any ideas?

Bikini Pic

Let me overstate the obvious: my body is not perfect. I've birthed two kids, and gained and lost 50 pounds. And I have poor skin elasticity to boot. Put that all together and you have a fairly flawed 28-year-old body.

With that said, I am proud of how I look today. And I did say that I'd post a bikini picture once I hit my goal, and a promise is a promise. So here you go. Don't vomit.



My daughter kept trying to creep into my pictures so I had to go to a different room, hee hee.



Look, I know that I don't have the amazing bikini body that others do. I have stretch marks, big thighs, and loose skin. (And today I have a "food baby" from eating too much at the Cheesecake Factory. Meh.) I may never wear this bathing suit outside of my own back yard. But...I'm still proud. And that's a "win" in my books.

P.S. Don't forget to enter the giveaway! You have six days left!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It's Giveaway Time!

First of all, thanks to those who left kind messages regarding yesterday's post. (If you haven't read it yet, please do...I FINALLY hit my final goal, and I feel amazing!) Encouragement like that is what keeps me going, and it means a lot to me!

Now, onto more important things...

It’s GIVEAWAY time!!!

Niki and Shannon of Creative Life Designs knew that I was looking for a sponsor for a new giveaway, and they generously stepped forward to host. It was so nice of them, and I am really excited to share what they have to offer.

Their online boutique offers both products and PDF files (which I highly recommend) to help you organize your life! There is something for just about everyone, whether you’re into fitness, financing, or home organization – there’s even something for you teachers out there! And better still, they do custom orders, so if you don't see something that's quite what you had in mind, they can create it for you!

Here's what they made for me:



This is a fun and vibrant way for me to track how many points I eat, how much water I drink, how I exercised, etc. Which is great for me, and will no doubt help to keep me on track – but if that isn’t what YOU are into, there are many other things to choose from. There’s even a cute little chore chart for kids! Check out their site to see the rest...it's a bit hard to explain!

Creative Life Designs is offering a 15$ credit to the winner – so you can choose whatever you want! Additionally, they are offering my readers 15% off any order made before the end of May. So it's a good excuse to check out their site now even if you don't win! Just use code BABYSTEPS when you check out!

Here we go:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 6, 2013

Ultimate Goal: I Did It!

Remember those old grey pants? They're not fitting too well these days...



A recap of my story...

Almost six years ago, I got married. Prior to getting married, I felt fantastic. I had lost almost 40 pounds, and maintained most of that loss for about a year. But with marriage came new challenges, new experiences, and new goals. My healthy eating and exercise fell by the wayside, and I re-gained 40 pounds by our first anniversary. And the new, 195-pound me wasn't happy.

Around that time, about five years ago, I started looking at old pictures of myself. I found a picture of myself at 157 pounds, and felt like I would be happy to get back to that weight. I set 157 as my new goal, but I could never get myself back on track fully. I'd lose a few pounds, then gain most of it back. Sure, I was making progress, but very slowly. Throw two pregnancies into the mix, and my goal of 157 seemed like a pipe dream.

A little over a year ago, on March 2nd, I sat holding my one-month-old baby boy. I had stopped losing the baby weight, and was stuck at 198. I decided that I really, really wanted to set a better example for my son and his older sister. I started making small changes, and set my sights once again on that magical number "157".

I lost 15 pounds, then stalled. I wasn't exercising enough, and my eating habits were slipping. After once again losing and gaining the same 3 pounds, I had had enough. I figured that if I didn't do something soon to lose the weight, I was never going to do it. I got mad, then I got determined. I joined a gym, started following Mama Laughlin's blog (who had the same start weight as me), and recommitted myself fully to my previously-discarded Weight Watches food plan. I even started to blog myself! Here are two "comparison pics" from before I joined the gym (183 pounds) vs now at 148.



The weight started coming off - faster than I thought! Exercising really made the changes to my body become noticeable more quickly. I could fit into a pair of shorts that two weeks previous had been too small, my tummy started shrinking, and I just felt amazing.

Sure, there were some setbacks (vacation, anyone? Christmas goodies?) but this time, I really started to believe, for the first time in five years, that I could achieve my goal. And I did.

And then I went further. I hit my wedding weight of 153. Around that time, someone brought up the idea of having a goal RANGE instead of a goal weight. I realized that if I lost just 5 more pounds, it would mean that I'd lost exactly 50 pounds! And if I kept a goal range of 148-153 pounds, I would be in a pretty good place...healthy, without being obsessed with a number on the scale.

It took a lot of hard work, and a big overhaul of my eating, but I am thrilled to report that I finally did it: I achieved my ultimate goal of 148 pounds! And although I've struggled, in many ways it wasn't as hard as I thought.



(I know, my scale is kinda gross. Blame the leak under my sink)

My hope is that my blog can help others who are struggling with the same things I've struggled with. I hope you see my story and realize that if I can do it, so can you. I'm nothing special! If you ever need a kind word of encouragement, don't hesitate to email me!

One more thing...

...I guess I owe you that bikini pic, eh?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What? You DON'T Nag Your Blog Readers?

It's Thursday, I gotta work soon, and my little boy is dancing on the table and trying to send me into immediate heart failure, so this will be short.

I just wanted to say that if you haven't checked out Katie's Blog yet, you MUST! Really. Reading it improves the human condition in 99% of readers. It's a fact. Go. Now.

Also, look for a giveaway in the very near future! I'm excited about that! If you're into organization and planning, or just a fun way to simplify your life, you'll be excited too.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Blog Swap with Katie!

Do you know Katie?


If not, you should. She's a fellow blogger, a fellow mom, and one of the most inspiring people that I have had the pleasure to get to know. Katie has had to deal with more heartbreak and adversity than any one person should have to deal with in their lifetime, and yet has managed to keep a positive outlook in spite of everything. I highly - HIGHLY - recommend that you check out her blog and read her story.

Katie and I are doing a BLOG SWAP. Or at least that's what I call it. What we've done is asked each other ten questions, the answers to which will be posted on each others blogs. So if you want to hear MY answers to HER questions...you'd better check out her page!

This is just our little way of sharing each other's story with the rest of the blog world!

Here is what Katie had to say:

1. First of all, tell us why you started blogging, and why you continue to blog.

I started blogging in 2008 as a way to cope with the loss of our firstborn son. It felt good to tell his story and be able to share with my family and friends how we were doing. Then, throughout my illness (kidney disease that led to a transplant) it became a great way to keep them informed on what was going on and not have to tell the story over and over, that got exhausting! Now I continue to blog more as a journal in hopes of preserving our memories as a family. I love to read back and see how God used my story to His glory, I've even had readers tell me that my story and faith brought them to Christ, amazing!

2. All three of your boys have great, unique names. How did you choose them?

I found Brenham's name on a baby name website, I loved it instantly but Robb took a little while to warm up to it, so in the meantime I continued my search for the perfect name. We also considered "Grayden" which I kinda came up with as a spin off on Grayson, which I also loved but was a little more popular. We obviously like names that you don't hear of too often. A day or two before Brenham was born Robb told me he really liked "Brenham" so that was it! His middle name, "Jay", is after my husband, my dad and my father in law, whose middle names are also "Jay". Then when it was time to name our second son we wanted to involve his birth mom in the naming process, we still liked Grayden and so did she. His middle name, Robert is my husbands first name and also his birth mother's late father's name. With Sadler, we again used a 'leftover' name that we had considered using for Grayden. His middle name, Graham is a combo of his big brothers first names.

3. You received a kidney from your sister, and somewhere along the line, you named it How did that come about?

Right before surgery my sister in I were hanging out in the prep room and discussing names for the kidney, I saw a sign pointing to the "PACU" so that's where "Paco" originated from!

4. You're a hairstylist. Any hair myths that you want to set straight?

The only thing I can think of is that even if you're trying to grow your hair out, its still important to trim your hair. If you don't your split ends will cause breakage that will cause your hair to seem like its not getting any longer.

5. Home-building: would you recommend it to others?

Yes, but you need time and patience. It was a very busy time for us with our 2 young boys, we needed people to watch them so often while we would spend hours picking things out or having 'walk-thrus' at the house. It was time consuming but definitely worth it, we got the house of our dreams and the boys loving having the extra room to play! I'm sure they'll also appreciate having their own rooms when they're older!

6. What is your favourite healthy food?

My favorite healthy food is the green monster smoothie I make, my kids love it too so that makes it even better!

7. Similarly, what's your favourite thing to do for exercise? Least favorite?

I love ZUMBA, I know I look like a fool while doing it, but I feel super cool! :) And I hate running, I wish I didn't but I just do!

8. Finish this sentence: "If I were 16 again, I would NOT…"

Rush to grow up. I seriously could not wait to get married and have kids. I wish I would have slowed down and taken the time to enjoy those teenage years instead of always looking to the future.

9. You seem like an awesome bargain shopper - from everything from baby clothes to cruises. Any advice for others?

Yes, I love a good deal! Not sure I have any 'advice', I think to find the good deals you have to WANT to do it! It takes some digging through clearance racks and waiting for the sales, but if its something you enjoy, it can be quite a thrill!

10. You have your dream home and your dream family. Any other "dreams" that you have yet to realize that you hope to in the near future?

I certainly have been blessed! My hopes and dreams for the future mostly include my children. I pray they grow up to be happy, healthy and successful and most importantly that someday they ask Jesus into their hearts and live for Him!
And, I also like to dream about vacationing with my family, we hope to have a few 'dream vacations' in our near future as well ;)

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Isn't she great? Don't forget to check out Katie's blog later today for my own questions and answers!