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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Adventuring Together

Recently, we were at the beach as a family. It was low tide and only ankle deep for as far as the eye could see. Ian wanted to walk out to "the edge," or  "the drop off," and show Grace.

And he wanted me to come too.

I put on my game face, rolled up my pant legs (even in the Middle East, December doesn't always mean sweating bullets, so, no bathing suit for me that day,) and started the slow trek out there.

There were crabs and fish darting too and fro. Grace repeatedly said "water," and seagulls looped overhead.

The water got deeper and colder and I couldn't pull my pant legs up any farther. I began to complain. But I could tell that Ian wanted us to continue on.

I began to be afraid- of sharks, of the drop off, of the unknown.

But we shuffled onward.

Soon the sandy floor was littered with sharp rocks and I cut my toe on one. We were only ten feet from the drop off, so off we walked. Grace began to be uneasy, water surrounded us for as far as she could see. But we finally arrived, took a look, and turned back around to shore.

"See Grace, we had an adventure!" Ian said.

A bell went off in my head. Adventure. Somewhere in my reading I remembered learning that adventuring together was one of the most important things for husbands. I read that oftentimes, couples adventure together constantly while they are dating and newlyweds, but as they settle into married life, they forget to keep adventuring together.

So, what can I do to keep that adventuresome spirit alive in our marriage? We are approaching our five year anniversary, (FIVE years?! How did that happen?) and I sat down to brain storm some ideas. Here are a few things I came up with:

1.) Have your husband come up with a few items for his "bucket list." Try to cross several items off each year.

I didn't have much success with this. When I asked Ian what he wanted to do in his life, he came up with six things. And five of those things had to do with watching a football game. Awesome.

His goals as of now:
-See a UGA football game
-See an important UGA football game
-See a UGA/FL football game
-See UGA play in the SEC championship
-See UGA play in the BCS national championship
and
-Eat a turduckin

I'm so serious. I plan on trying to help him figure out a few more goals, seeing as we'd have to be in the USA to see goals 1-5 accomplished.

2.) Check out some famous restaurants in your area (or in your travels!) Perhaps you could even take part in a food/eating challenge!

I plan on making one of these:


And putting in a bunch of place sfrom the show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives for when we are in the States this summer and some of the more noteworthy restaurants here in Abu Dhabi.

 3. Try a new sport together, even if you (and/or your husband,) is not particularly athletic.

We'd LOVE to get our Scuba license. And I used to LOVE going rock climbing and surfing. There has got to be even more sports out there that we haven't done. Sailing lesson? Kite Surfing? Skiing? Dune Bashing? Sounds adventurous enough for me!

What are your ideas for adding adventure into your marriage?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bye-Bye Baby Weight- The Game Changer

{Take a look at my first post, Bye-Bye Baby Weight- The Melt-Off, to see where I started at.}

We are just two days away from Sophia turning four months, which means that I am almost four months postpartum! This weight loss journey has really been an incredible one for me- very informative and very encouraging. I hope what I've learned and how I've applied it mght be helpful to some of you as well!

At one month postpartum, I had lost 25 pounds without diet or exercise.

During months two and three (November and December,) I didn't do anything differently. I had good intentions to start exercising, but time would just slip away from me. As the holidays drew near my eating habits began to get out of control. I was eating tons of bread, chips (I hate chips, so why was I eating them? Because they were around.) and sweets. Add on top of that a particularly tight grocery budget and we found ourselves eating less veggies and meat and more rice, potatoes, and "filler foods."

Around mid December, at two and a half months postpartum, I told myself to just get through Christmas. I had plateaued at 25 pounds less and finally, around that time, I began to see movement on the scale. It may have only been 3-4 pounds, but it was big to me! I was within ten pounds of my prepregnancy weight goal.

New Years came with it a resolution of sorts for Ian and I. We started South Beach Diet, Phase One on January 1st, 2013. Ian had completed South Beach when he was in high school and was very overweight. He lost almost sixty pounds as a junior in high school and stuck to a very healthy diet and exercise plan for many years. That is, until we got married. I rubbed my sweet tooth off on him and soon he began eating like I was.

A year after we got married we had planned to move overseas but Ian's job was put on hold and we had to move in with our parents. Our time in Tennessee with my parents was great but very sedentary. We had no where to be,  no work until our move came through, were eating poorly and excessively, and no friends or people to interact with besides my parents. It was a hard time on us. During this time my weight really sky rocketed, I think I put on close to 20 pounds.

When Ian's job plans began moving again we went on a modified version of South Beach and I saw those 20 pounds come off in four to five months. I didn't stick with the plan exactly and as soon as the weight came off I went right back to my old eating habits.

Fast forward to this New Year's Day.

We knew we needed a lifestyle change in our eating habits and we knew how to implement it. I'm lucky, because Ian was all for it and supported me in whatever way possible.

We chose to do South Beach diet again, following the strict two week, phase one and then making adjustments as we stepped into phase two and then three.

Three days into it and I was down another 4 pounds. At one week in, I was down 8 pounds from the New Year. Two weeks in and I had dropped a total of twelve pounds in the New Year.

My belly fat has gone down significantly and I look leaner, which, to me, counts more than what the scale says! I feel really great too and I have more energy and have been able to get a hold of what I am eating and when.

As we stepped into Phase Two of the diet, my weight gain stalled and I knew it was time to start implementing exercise.

I've started  doing Jillian's 30 Day Shred which I have completed before and I am seeing the scale drop once again.

Total Weight Loss Postpartum: 41 pounds (sixteen pounds since one month postpartum)

I took measurements at two months postpartum but haven't remeasured- I will next month!

For those of you interested in the South Beach Diet and the science behind what it effects and why that helps lose weight, I recommend the book The South Beach Diet and will be posting more specifics about what we did and what we are doing now.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Love My Life

It is Saturday, at 2:30 in the afternoon, and I am sitting at my computer sipping coffee while my girls are napping and my husband is relaxing.

The air is clear and crisp (yes, a chilly 65 degrees in the Middle East- we brought out the parkas. and the boots.)

I have had lunch, gone grocery shopping, folded laundry, loved on my littles, planned a date with my husband, and made steps forward in Grace's potty training. Did I mention it is only 2:30?

It is days like today where I can sit back, sigh, and say "I love my life."

Truly, I do.

There are days when I get caught up in my lack of sleep, annoyed by the cultural differences that surround me, or homesick to the very pit of my stomach. On those days, I completely forget what it is that I love about my life.

But I am living a full life. A happy life. A blessed life.

We have a roof over our heads, a car to drive, food on the table, and work to be productive at. I have a loving husband and two beautiful daughters. I get hugged dozens of times a day, grinned at, laughed with, and cuddled until my heart is content.

Grace brought a smile to my face this morning, on our way back from the grocery store when she started singing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." How often I forget that I rest in His palm and am taken care of by the one true Provider.

I've been writing down things I am thankful for. Not every day, but every 5-6 days I sit down and reflect and can usually come up with 10-15 things that have brought a smile to my face or has lightened my heart. A spirit of gratefulness is settling over me and replacing the shrouds of discontent and I am so happy. Relaxed. And Thankful.

Thankful for the life I have been given.

It is not what I pictured for myself or my family, but it is what we should be doing so it is good.

It's not Thanksgiving, but I am so thankful today!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Lately

Lately life has been a bit of a whirlwind. I can not believe it has already been two weeks since New Year's Eve. Incredible. Ian's workload has picked up which is good, but it also means that he is busy alot more. I have been spoiled for the last two years having him around to help almost 24/7. It's taking a bit of adjusting, but I'm sure I'll get used to it soon.

We've had friends in town for the last week and it has been fun showing them around. It's always fun to look at the culture you are living in through fresh eyes.

We just finished up the first two weeks of South Beach Diet (phase one.) It was HARD the first five days or so but then all of my bread and sugar cravings just disappeared. Well, not ALL of them, but most of them. Weight just fell off and now we are trying to decide on how to proceed into Phase 2.

We finally bought ourselves and upright vacuum cleaner. It's beautiful. And loud. So I can only vacuum when Grace is out of the house, or she screams like she is being physically harmed. 

My girls are still doing just about the same. Grace is cute and amazing and Sophia is...an infant. Let's just leave it at that. She's cute and amazing too, just alot more needy physically than Grace is. It's really different for me between baby #1 and baby #2. With Grace I was always dressing her up and putting head bands on her, she was with me constantly. With Sophia, I'm lucky if she is in clean pajamas and I tend to leave her at home with Ian if possible during errand time. It's just easier than taking two. I suppose that's good though, Grace gets some one on one time.

The girls shared their first bath together....

Grace helped wash Sophia and it was super sweet.

We're trying to squeeze in as many play dates as possible with Tami and Emerson before they move. Gosh, that made me so sad just typing that. I can't believe they are moving so soon! Grace adores Emerson and even recognizes her neighborhood as soon as we pull in. She also loves bumming dried apples off of Tami, but I suppose that's okay!

 Picture taken at a great playground, but it wasn't the best play time for the girls- apparently E is not  fan of sand, which covered the ground of the playground!

See, here is some sweet Sophia...



Her dimple is just heart warming! She makes great eye contact and has just started to make real jerky movements with her arms in order to bat at something and make it move.

We're just trekking along, not really anything crazy exciting, but I suppose I'm glad of that!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy 21 Months, Grace!

I can NOT believe my baby is just 3 months away from turning two years old. TWO!

I love this age and each day with our sweet girl is such a blessing. She is sunshine and smiles, laughter and giggles, pretty much 24/7.

Her Stats:

Weight: 24 pounds
Diaper: Size 4+
Clothes: 18-24 months
Shoes: Size 5

Talking:

She has entered her "language explosion," period and is starting to copy things we say more often. She doesn't often put two words together but has learned alot more descriptive words. She's also saying things alot clearer. water, which she used to say "Why," for sounds more like water, etc.

She's added Jesus Loves Me, Down by the Station, and Row, Row, Row Your Boat to her song repertoire.

Eating:

She is sill a pretty picky eater. She loves her cereal and milk first thing in the morning and usually has seconds or thirds. Lunch is usually a sandwich or a plain yogurt (I think the US calls it "Greek" yogurt, but here it's just yogurt, haha.) Afternoon snack consists of pretzels, graham crackers, or fruit, and dinner is usually whatever we are eating, though she will often just drink her milk and poke at her food.

She has started to like chicken again and she ate taco meat and meatballs this month. Progress!

Sleeping:

Grace was a 2 nap a day baby until two days before she turned 21 months. Now we are trying to still put her down for her morning nap but with some baby dolls, to give her at least an hour or two of quiet time. She is still taking her afternoon nap but i is inconsistent right now. She sleeps with 3 pacifiers, two loveys, and a crocheted blanket a friend gave her. We turn her music on and her air conditioner and then walk out. She loves her routine!

Miscellaneous:

*She loves to give massages, or "saj" as she says when she comes up behind your shoulders and rubs them.

*She asks for her friends Emi, Mia, and Nora constantly.

*She has started resisting diaper changes, so it's more of a grab, tackle, and get it done as quickly as possible type of thing.

*Plans are in the work for potty training and getting rid of the paci before she turns two (I'm so sad about that one! She loves her paci and I think she is just precious with it. We'll see if we get rid of it soon.)

*She loves Elmo and was so excited to get Elmo books and DVD's for Christmas!

*She goes into time out for disobedience. Our time out is the side of a book case where she stands with both hands on it. After 2 minutes we come and explain what she did wrong and why (disobeying, dangerous, etc,) and ask for an apology. Sweet girls says "Saw-uh" followed by "Hug?" and then she goes straight back to playing. I'm not sure if it works but she doesn't repeat the same offense so something is sticking!

*She has learned how to climb onto our couches and we catch her jumping all the time!

*She says Excuse me "Scuz Ee" after she toots or burps and covers her mouth.

*Grace likes to dance by spinning around or "jumping" with bended knees. She does a finger dance whenever she hears music, including the call to prayer over loud speakers.

*Freaks out with excitement when the military helicopters fly over head. She can also spot airplanes and points out the moon!

We love you, baby girl!