Saturday, June 29, 2013

I am a Badass

Let me begin with a giant thank you to my friend Lizzy! I recently had a status update on Facebook warning that I was experiencing some grief relapse and I may be reflecting that on my updates in the near future so I gave warning. Then came a message asking for my address and a few days later, a lovely book.

“You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero

The humor and frankness of this author has been exactly what I needed. I am a badass.

I honestly don’t exercise to be skinny. I do it to feel like a badass. When I feel strong I feel like a badass.

I wear high heels because the way I walk in them makes me feel confident and strong. I feel like I can take on anything.

I do things like the Warrior Dash, marathon vacationing, summer reading programs, and delve into home cooking because doing those things makes me feel strong. Confident. Capable. And darn it, it makes me feel like a badass. I made a freaking quiche. What could be more badass?!


Life dealt me a crappy blow. I can’t let it be my excuse. I can’t sit in the dark and be sad. I can’t not take chances or seek happiness because I know all to well that life can take deeply. I can’t.

I do it for me. Because I’m awesome. Not just because I took care of Rowan or because my family has someone managed to hold together or because we still find joy. I’ve been awesome for a long time.

I’m awesome because I never apologized for being a talented actress back in high school when that was my thing. I never apologized for being book smart either, despite the fact that the boys in my class didn’t like it. I’m awesome because I wasn’t looking to find love or a spouse when I met my husband, but I didn’t run away from it. I embraced the chance of a real partnership. I’m awesome because when I got sick and had to drop out of college, I got better, got a job, and worked while going to school until I could get scholarships back and go to school full time. I’m awesome because I mothered Little Bird. I’m awesome because I started student teaching two weeks after she was born because I refused to settle and was willing to work to have it all. I graduated with an infant in tow. I got a job teaching in an impossible hiring climate. I’m awesome because I am a great teacher and I am improved by working at a school full of them. I’m awesome because I carried a child I knew I would bury one day to full term despite the stresses that could have shortened that pregnancy. I’m awesome because I mothered Rowan. I’m awesome because we made his life worth it and loved him. I’m awesome for looking death in the face when it took my son from me and I AM FREAKING AWESOME because I get out of bed every morning, smile without faking it, laugh and share joy, and move foreword, looking for new ways to be a badass.

I’m awesome because I keep reaching. I keep searching and exploring. I keep loving. I keep living.  I’ve surrounded myself with awesome people a who have reminded me how awesome I am when I needed it, even when it’s sending me a book to remind me that I’m a badass when I start to forget. I’m going to make it through this period of grief relapse like I made it through the original one. I’m going to lean in. I’m going to be open to my thoughts and feelings. I’m going to move through it this time like I did last time. Like a badass who loved their son and misses him deeply.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Off the Bucket List: Summer Reading Program


Ok, first off, I would totally be lying through my teeth if I said that Little Bird read these books. I read them all to her. We reread a lot of them. She would “read” pages she had memorized OR (my favorite) use the pictures and flip through the book giving me a retelling in her own words. Some of them we read enough she could just about recite the whole thing. So essentially, the summer reading program was an opportunity for us to learn about the library system, get some new books to read (and get rid of when I got sick of rereading them), and get excited about some solid non-fiction books.

Today we happened to magically show up at the Library right before the scheduled Story Time. Mom win! I love it when luck makes it look like I’m better at filling up the summer days with good activities. Today was all about bugs. They sang songs, did storytelling with pictures, read several books, and danced. Score! By the way, the story time room is amazing. You can see the animal mural and there is a giant tree they go inside for story time.


After story time, we picked out our next six books and turned in our completed 20 list for our prize.

Here are the 20 books we have read so far this summer. Any with a * by it is one I loved and highly recommend.

  1. Little Owl Lost*
  2. The Little Red Hen*
  3. The Bremen Town Musicians
  4. Who Needs Love?
  5. The Moon Might Be Milk*
  6. Girl, You’re Amazing!*
  7. Over the Green Hills
  8. It Looked Like Spilt Milk*
  9. The Toll-Bridge Troll
  10. Wabi Sabio
  11. Slippery, Slimy Baby Frogs* (lots of mating information in here, FYI)
  12. Iron Hans
  13. Lady Bug, Lady Bug
  14. Different Like Coco*
  15. Creepy Things are Scaring Me
  16. Home Sweet Home*
  17. If the Dinosaurs Came Back
  18. Who Says Women Can’t be Doctors?
  19. What is an Athlete?
  20. The King’s Stilts*

So, the library dished out their prizes today to a very enthusiastic 3 year old. Here is Little Bird holding her 20 book prize of a Prairie Dog she named Sophia.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Off the Bucket List: Kansas City Vacation


Kansas City was meant to be our “easy vacation” compared to DC/New York where we were hardcore drilling through all of the things to do and see.

I inherited a crazy type A personality with regards to vacationing from my father. I want to be packed with a detailed itinerary a week before we leave. I don’t want to waste time on vacations trying to decide what to do when or searching for a place we can purchase forgotten items. After all my planning still led to a repurchase of everything for Little Bird when her suitcase was stolen in DC, I made a conscious effort to “lighten the hell up” about this trip. We packed the day before. I made a general list of things in the area that looked fun and that was it!

Day 1 – We got up. Got around. Loaded up the car after breakfast with my dad and sisters, and then drove at a leisurely pace to Kansas City. When we got there it was almost dinner time, so we needed a place to eat. I used my favorite kid travel website This website is run by Disney and makes finding food/hotels/attractions for specific age groups pretty easy in most major cities in the USA. I picked “Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant”.

Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant

As soon as you get here, you will discover that this restaurant is all about the trains and the food is just a part of it. They serve American food like hamburgers, hotdogs, and grilled cheese with fries, shakes, etc. The food was good, but not amazing. You go to this restaurant because the railways lining the restaurant support train engines that bring your food to a platform above your table, which then lowers. There are trains all over the restaurant including a big engine out front. It was definitely an exciting start to our trip. I’d say kids from infants to probably 6 would really enjoy this restaurant. That said, I’m 26 and I really enjoyed this restaurant. This restaurant is inside Crown Center.

Crown Center

This is like a mall for kids. There are lots of kid friendly stores, a kid friendly live theater, fun themed restaurants, and an area where exhibits set up. Currently there was a free Curious George exhibit featuring lots of science activities. If you visit Crown Center and spend $25 at any of the businesses, you get 3 free hours of parking at the parking garage.


Day 2 we got up. I was feeling a bit stressed and crazy because we didn’t have a plan. I wanted a plan! Where was the plan?!?! So I told Little Bird that today, Dad was the leader. Every time she asked questions about where to go or what we were doing, I defaulted. Doc decided we were going to Legoland and Sea Life.  I relaxed. It was extremely nice to know I wasn’t responsible for decisions. So nice in fact, that we decided Day 3, Little Bird could be the leader….more to come on that.


As a parent, this was a waste of money. It was expensive. The rides were too scary for Little Bird. They had a big playland you needed socks for. If you don’t have socks, you can buy them for $5…so just bring socks. Not knowing that there was a sock requirement, we pretty much just played with legos. The novelty of the place was fun, but I don’t know if we’ll go again. Little Bird really liked it, but I feel like our time could have been better spent.

Crayola Café and Store

The Crayola Café and Store located inside Crown Center had a really nice menu. The food was healthier than a lot of other options and all delicious. The décor was fun and you could do some pretty intense coloring while you waited. Good value for the price.








Sea Life*

This aquarium was wonderful! There were lots of “interactive aquariums” where you could walk under or in the middle of the fish. Almost everything was at a level where Little Bird could see it herself. They had a quiz you could complete by scratching off the correct multiple choice answer and exchange for a medal at the end of the aquarium. Doc, Little Bird, and I all really enjoyed it.

*If you go to either of these places, buy tickets online before you go or you will have to wait OUTSIDE to go in one family at a time to purchase tickets. We waited 30 minutes outside before we were allowed in the building.

Day 3 – Little Bird is the boss

So we decided to try something out and let Little Bird be the leader. In the morning, we told her she was the leader so she could pick what we did. We could go to the water park or to the science center. She decided we should go to the water park and get cupcakes. So we packed up for the water park! She got to decide that we would stop at the QT to get drinks before we went. She picked which attractions we went to and when at the park. She also got to pick where we ate for lunch. After the waterpark, we were too tired to go eat cupcakes so we just had pizza at Imo’s. She did a great job as leader.

Schlitterbahn Water Park Kansas City

Ok, to be honest, it’s about 6 slides and some pools. But the pools are pretty awesome for kids. There were lots of slides and waterfall mushrooms. They had a “lazy river” that pulsed waves out. This was Little Birds favorite and I’m pretty sure we did it 8 times. The food there wasn’t horribly priced and there was plenty of shaded tables for us to sit at. It’s more expensive ($110 for our family for 1 day) but we thought it was a good splurge.

As the leader, Little Bird got to take the picture.

Day 4

Science City

This was easily my favorite place. There were a lot of hands on activities and it was fun for Doc and I too! There were tons of different themed areas, from space, to optical illusions, to dinosaurs, to wildlife, to trains, to a 3D printer…awesome. Plus they had a Aliens and Androids exhibit that was ridiculously fun for Doc and I. This was one of my favorite places to go. It’s located inside of Union Station.

So not the laid back vacation we’d thought about, but still an amazing time. We may have walked in the door exhausted, but Little Bird just smiled and said “Let’s go on another vacation tomorrow!”

…guess we’re doing it right.

Friday, June 7, 2013

My Weight Story

Ok, so a long long time ago, when I started college, I weighted between 120 and 125lb. I ate healthily and was pretty active, but I was a stick.


In college, I gained what I like to call my Freshman 10. I weighed between 130 and 135. I ate pretty crappily, but I was active and felt like I actually looked far healthier than I had before. People didn’t ask me if I had an eating disorder or bug me about being underweight anymore. I liked it.

Then I got pregnant, gained some weight, had a miscarriage, and became immediately pregnant afterwards. I gained 30lb by the day before Evelyn’s birth. 165lbs.

After Little Bird got here, we were a busy family! I was trying to work really hard to finish college and graduate as well as find a job and Doc was in medical school. Around our daughter’s 1st birthday we decided to do p90x to get both of us back in shape. I had managed to get my weight down to about 135-140, but wasn’t as toned as I wanted to be.

We got 60 days into our 90 day workout challenge, and OOPS! Pregnant again! So I backed off the workouts and just continued to stay active.

With Rowan, I gained 30 lbs and ended up right at 170 when all 9lb 3oz of him was born.

I tried to eat healthily, especially since I was pumping while he was in the hospital. But sitting by someone’s bedside for 4 months doesn’t allow you to exercise much. When Rowan was home, I was a full time nurse mom with my daughter to take care of as well. I didn’t sleep, let alone exercise. I couldn’t leave the house to go grocery shopping so I was at the mercy of whatever someone could bring to my house. I hit about 140 and stayed there. I didn’t look bad, but I knew I wasn’t fit and I desperately wanted to get back in really good shape, ALL the way back to my original pre-pregnancy weight.

SO…I don’t mind my stretch marks, and I apologize if they offend you, but here is the change I saw and wanted to see in my body.

I started my really serious work in January. I worked out as often as I could and started really watching what I ate. I cut out a lot of extra carbs and tried to up my fruits and vegetables. I drank more water. I started at 137lb. I knew that 135 might be the best I could do, but it took me two months to get there. This was me at 135lb in March.


Then I really ramped it up. I started Les Mills Combat training and found my groove. Weight training added into the cardio really started giving me the toning results I wanted and I FELT strong again. This was me at the beginning of May, and you can tell by my expression that I was thinking “not bad, lady, not bad at all.” This was me at 132.


Since then I’ve been maintaining my healthy foods and exercising. I bike with a trailer to take Little Bird to and from the playground and dance class. I do weight training when I watch TV. I try to get a little cardio in now and then even though it’s harder now that it’s summer and my daughter is home all day. Two weeks ago, I hit it. 130lb. My weight I love and feel healthiest and strongest at. The weight where I love my pictures and the way clothing fits. Normal weight according to BMI for me should be somewhere between 18.5 and 24.9. My current weight puts me at 21.6. I definitely don’t feel like I need to lose anymore! I’m there!

It’s been 18 months since I gave birth to Rowan. It’s been a solid 5-6 months of really hard work to lost 7 lbs. I’m happy that I kept at it. I didn’t think I could drop down to 130 again, but I did it healthily and am proud that I stuck to it!

Just to compare, here is me in 2005 and then me now, 7 years and two 9lb + babies later in 2013.

Me in 2005


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Seriously. I have more cabin fever than my daughter.

I just want the ground to be dry enough for a blanket and the sky to be quiet enough for an outdoor nap.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Off the Summer Bucket List: Renaissance Faire



The first day of June was a day I’d be really looking forward to.

In my middle school years, I went every year. My friends and I would dress up and caravan down to Muskogee where we would dance, eat, watch shows, and shop.

Now I’m “an adult” (yeah, I still feel a need to put that in quotes) and my sisters have hit their middle school years. So it seemed only fitting to share the tradition!

We ended up with two cars because 9 people would not fit in my mom’s van. Doc drove the other vehicle (and took the picture). The girls who travelled with us are long time family friends. Our families travelled to China together. We have always seen each other at least once a year for China Heritage Camp, but now that my family is back in Tulsa, we get to see more of these kiddos that I’ve always kind of viewed as nieces (except the ones I’m literally a sister to…I view them as sisters).

Some of the girls wanted to dress up, some of them weren’t too sure about it. We arrived early at the Faire and headed in to watch a Juggler and start the Queen’s Quest, where you follow riddle clues and collect the Queen’s hair ribbons which have been scattered around the grounds.

We saw some really neat goods in tents, smelled some amazing foods. Some of the girls shot bows and arrows at the archery range. All of them got up on stage with the Gypsy Camp and learned a few belly dancing moves. We danced around the May pole, chatted with the Queen, feasted on fresh bread and turkey legs, tried “real” root beer (the girls were not fans), one of the girls was almost drafted as a servant, we saw a 33lb bunny, a giant and beautiful owl, hawks, horses, peacocks, and a parade.

I had a blast. I think the girls did too.