Monday, May 26, 2014

Coming Clean...

So I felt the need to share some things.  Life has been a lot different lately, in a good way.  A few months ago I decided I needed a change.  This change has been a long time coming.

You see on the outside, I've always looked like a healthy person.  I've always worked out and somewhat tried to eat healthy.  But working out came much easier to me so eating healthy came in spurts.   I would try to eat healthy, high-energy foods but then end up caving.  I would use my exercise and "good genes" as an excuse to cheat on my efforts. It became a nasty cycle of stress eating, feeling guilty about overeating, then exercising a ton, then being hungry from all the miles I ran. Then more stress eating and feeling guilty, to more exercise.  I never felt happy about how things were.  I was exhausted from all the working out and all the processed foods and high sugar snacks I was eating.  Food gave me short-lived comfort when I was stressed and so did exercise.  But my body was worn out from it all.

 So to make a long story a little shorter;) a couple of years ago I started experiencing what I now know were panic attacks and bouts with anxiety.  My symptoms began at the same time my dad was very sick from melanoma.  But I believe what really started things in a downward spiral emotionally was finding out our son had Down syndrome when I was 17 weeks pregnant.  The first few years of his life were extremely stressful. Then my dad became very sick.  I also decided that it would be a good idea to start my own custom children's clothing line and with all that going on, I literally was falling apart inside.  But I was pretty good at not letting anyone know I was falling apart.  Only a few close friends knew about the strange heart palpitations, chest pains and sleepless nights, the list goes on of the strange symptoms I had.   This all ended up with me going on anxiety medication along with something to help me sleep.  I continued on these meds for a few years.

The panic attacks slowly went away once I realized that's all they were and I wasn't actually dying from a heart attack;)  But I still felt tired all of the time. I would go about my days feeling I had no real purpose. I was a stressed out mom trying to look like I had it all together.  I relied on my coffee in the morning to help me get my kids to the bus stop and my son off to numerous therapies. Then sometimes more coffee during the day to help me get things done around the house. I would sometimes turn to wine at night to keep myself calm when the kids were running around. I was so tired and moody.  This became a constant cycle as well.  Coffee in the morning, a glass of wine at night.  I just felt like crap all of the time.  I still managed to work out because it relieved stress, but I was struggling with what to actually put in my body to make it feel better.

Finally, this past March I decided it was time for some real change.  I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired!  I decided to dive into a nutritional cleansing program that a friend had mentioned to me a year earlier.  I only wish I didn't ignore her Facebook message for a whole year!   It would have saved me another year of feeling tired and stressed all of time.

So Mike and I started on March 13th of this year and within a week not only were we down 6-7 pounds, but we felt better than we had in years.  Not only did I not need my morning cup of coffee but my sugar cravings were gone.  For once I was getting up before my oldest daughter, and getting things done in the morning before the kids were even dressed. I began making some time for myself before the day really started.   The morning rush was less stressful.  My workouts became more enjoyable. They weren't about burning the calories I had eaten the night before because I knew I had eaten a good healthy meal.  That 5 o'clock wine glass that often called my name wasn't needed anymore. And I didn't even miss it!

By the end of the 30 days Mike was down 22 pounds and 23 inches and to my surprise I had lost 14 pounds and 19 inches.   We seriously couldn't believe how easy it was to follow and we weren't miserable!  I had only planned on losing 8-10 pounds or so but the weight loss wasn't even the best part of it for me, it was more about the energy I had, the calmness I felt throughout the day and the feeling that I could tackle anything and still have energy for my kids when they came home from school.

 My before and after.

 I have a thin frame to begin with so results on me are not as noticeable but my clothes finally fit like they should, I definitely leaned out and lost inches, even my skin looks better but again for me it's more about the energy and strength I now have.  And my husband, well he looks about 15 years younger!  He had an amazing transformation!

Today we continue on these products because we love the way they make us feel.  It's now more about fueling our bodies for energy.  And it's not like we don't eat "bad" food ever or don't have wine, we still do, just not nearly as much because certain foods and things aren't as appealing.  When we do indulge, we don't feel guilty, we just continue on a maintenance plan of these products and know we're giving our bodies the best nutrition we can.

In addition, I now have made it a mission to help my children eat better and encourage them to make healthy choices to help fuel their bodies.  I always tell my girls it's not about being large or small, skinny or fat, it's about being healthy.  I have more energy to focus on giving them healthier snacks when they come home from school and actually want to take the time to come up with healthy meals to start their school day off right.  It's not always easy, but for the first time, it's really important to me and I already see the difference in their attitude and behaviors.

People have asked me why?

"Why did you need to start a cleanse and nutrition program?"  
"You were already so healthy and thin."  

 I may have looked healthy on the outside but on the inside I really wasn't.  I lacked the energy I needed to be the best mom and wife I could be.  Now I want my kids to see a mom that enjoys great, healthy meals and that likes to get out and exercise to keep my body strong, not just to burn off calories.  I want to be a good role model for them in every way I can. I finally feel like I'm moving in the right direction.

At the age of 36 with 3 young children, I can definitely say I am healthier both physically and mentally than I was as a Division 1 college athlete.  I finally feel like I have a purpose. I'm not just getting through the day so I can just make it to bed that night. Now I'm having fun helping others feel the same way.  We have one life to live here on earth, one body to live in. Why not treat our bodies the best we can?  It really all starts with nutrition.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

5 Years Ago...

5 years ago today we welcomed a baby boy into our lives.  For those of you that have joined us on this journey, can you believe it's been 5 years?  It actually all started over 5 years ago when we first found out about Bennett when I was 17 weeks pregnant.  You can read here  about when I first found out and why I started the blog.

But yes, we knew Bennett's secret when he arrived on May 22, 2009.  We were fully prepared to welcome him with open arms and I remember telling the doctor that would deliver him that I wanted everyone in the delivery room to know that we knew all about Bennett so there would be no sad faces, or hush, hush whispers, or feeling sorry for us.  We wanted everyone to celebrate this sweet life that was coming into the world and that we believed he was created just as he was meant to be.

I'll never forget when he first came out.  I had a c-section so the doctor lifted him up quickly over the blue shield for me to see for just a second and then took him to clean him up.  Mike was able to go see him first and report back to me and I asked "Does he have all his fingers and toes?"  Mike said he did.  And I asked "What does he look like?"  Mike said "He looks like our baby."  I'll admit I was worried to see what he was going to look like.  Would I see Down syndrome right off the bat?  Would I be sad?  When they brought Bennett over to me to see him for the very first time all I saw was this precious little baby and I couldn't believe how much I already loved him.  I didn't see Down syndrome.  I just saw Bennett Patrick.  In that moment I didn't care that he had Down syndrome.   He was beautiful and perfect.

I just have to say that these last 5 years with Bennett have simply blown me away.  NEVER in a million years did I think life with him would be like this when I was first told in the doctors office at what was supposed to be a normal check up:

"We think your baby has Down syndrome." 

 From the minute I first held him he has been an absolute angel.  I am telling you there is something about him that has changed our hearts and the way we view things, the way we treat others, and the way we raise our other children.  Not that it's all been rosy, oh no, it's been hard, really hard sometimes, but totally worth it.  Every milestone we waited and waited for him to reach was worth it.  Every tear I cried early on because I knew my son maybe wasn't considered "normal" was washed away when he would come at me with his big smile.  Every bad thought I've had about the future has always been pushed aside by just his presence in the room.  Lots of praying, lots of patience, lots of love.

I thank God every day for Bennett's sweet soul and for allowing us to be his parents.  I wouldn't change ONE THING about Bennett because I know that's exactly how God meant for him to be.  I am thankful for the hard times and thankful for the good times.  I know that Bennett has a purpose.  I know his life has meaning.  I know that he is here for a reason and I'm so thankful he's ours.  Pure joy surrounds this kid.

The name Bennett means:  "Little blessed one"

I had a boy name picked out early on in the pregnancy but when we found out our son had Down syndrome it didn't seem to fit because everything had changed.  I felt I needed a new name because in a weird sense I felt I had been given a new baby, one that was totally unexpected and one that I now had to adjust to.   I came across the name Bennett and loved it because of the meaning.  I did think though,

"little blessed one?"  

How could anyone think he is blessed?  He has this disability.  Is this the right name for him?  But then I started thinking that yes, he is blessed because he was created by God, every little part of him and now we see his blessings shine through his sweet smile every single day.  So we are truly blessed by having him in our lives!

Happy Birthday sweet boy! Mommy and Daddy and yours sisters love you more than words can describe.  These five years have flown by and we couldn't be more proud of the little boy you are.  Keep smiling, keep shining, keep showing others that you are more alike than different but that even being a little different is perfectly fine too!

You can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you!!  

Don't ever forget that!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Will you take the pledge today to stop saying the r-word (retard, retarded)?  

As a parent with a child that has special needs, this word is so terribly painful to hear. Please tell your kids this word hurts. Please tell your friends this word is offensive. Share acceptance of people with disabilities! Think of my sweet Bennett and do this for him! Thank you friends for understanding and for your support!!

Click here to pledge!

Friday, January 10, 2014

A little update of sorts

Wow, I have neglected my blog once again!!  But I thought I'd catch you up in pics since my last post...Halloween!  Geez!  Here we go...

Harper finally lost her top tooth! 
Thanksgiving was fun!  Bennett enjoyed visiting Grandma and Grandpa and seeing other relatives he hasn't seen in a while!

The girls are enjoying cheer/tumble class and did a cute performance for Christmas!  

 Ainsley turned 9 on December 20th!!

We had her party at the tumble gym with about 18 of her closest friends;)

Harper had a blast at big sister's party!

Christmas came!

No tears this year on Santa's lap!

Cutest little Santa I know! 

 Handsome fella!

Snow inside church on Christmas Eve!

 Cousins came to visit for Christmas!

Christmas morning!

New Years Eve Bennett had a cardiologist appt. and everything looked great!  Awesome way to start off the new year!! 

2014-Carolina Panthers are in the playoffs!!   

Harper lost the other top tooth!

The girls are tracked out of school now for a few weeks (year round school) and we're doing our best to enjoy the crazy weather around here!  One day it's 20 degrees and a few days later it's 70.   Bring on spring!!

I'll have to give a little update about Bennett in a later post because he's progressed sooo much in the last 6 months!  Little man will be 5 in May!!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Halloween….pirate style!

We had a great Halloween this year!  For the first time Bennett actually participated-he went up to neighbor's doors and said "trick treat" and "thank you" and tried his best to keep up with his sisters!  I was so proud of him because in years past he's gotten so overwhelmed and just wanted to be held, refusing to walk up to doors etc.  

The kids were pirates this year and I happen to think they made the cutest pirates ever!!!...

The morning of Halloween the girls were up bright and early anticipating all the candy coming their way!

I got to go with Bennett and watch him parade around with his classmates at school-so cute!

How cute is he??!!;)

Until next year!

Monday, October 28, 2013

October wrap up...

So this month is almost over and while I've been raising awareness for my sweet boy on facebook and instagram, I haven't been on the blog so I wanted to post some of my favorites….

As this month comes to an end I think the main thing I would want others to learn from Down syndrome awareness month is acceptance. For me, it's not about telling you Bennett has Down syndrome, we all know that. Or all the nitty gritty facts about DS (although all are important and interesting). I just want others to know that while individuals with Down syndrome are a little different, they are still human beings that have hearts, and feelings and just like everyone else, they want to be loved and valued. Just like the rest of us they want friends to laugh with and learn from. People with Down syndrome can accomplish great things but they need others to believe that. Accepting them into society and welcoming their differences is what it's about. Besides, life is better with friends;)

The Down syndrome Creed.

Please take the words "retard" or "retarded" out of your vocabulary. This word is extremely offensive. One day my son may feel the hurt of this word but he doesn't have to if we spread the word to end the word.

Buddy walking and raising awareness with his cousin- Go "Bennett's Brigade"!

Bennett's sisters don't see Down syndrome in their brother. They know he has it but to them, he's just their little brother. They love to play with him but they also get annoyed when he takes their things. And although I sometimes worry that they'll resent him when they get older, I also can't help but think that their love for him will only grow stronger. Love doesn't count chromosomes.

A study of 1520 children ages 7 to 16 found that those who regularly interacted with people with disabilities generally had better attitudes toward people with special needs. They were less fearful of them, too, and more empathetic.

One of the biggest things I've learned about raising a child with special needs is patience. Bennett does things in his own time and in his own way. And just because he has Down syndrome doesn't mean he's just like other kids with DS. He's an individual that clearly marches to the beat of his own drum;).

Thursday, October 3, 2013


As Bennett gets older I find it less important for me to tell others about the nitty gritty facts of Down syndrome.  I think what I really want for people to understand is that Bennett is a little boy first.  I know  most people probably see Down syndrome as soon as they see him but I want it to stop right there.  I want people to realize that what he was born with doesn't define him and that it doesn't limit what he can do.  I want others to know that we simply want acceptance for our son.  We want him treated like everyone else.  If people would open their eyes and see past the differences they would welcome a whole new level of joy into their lives.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Decorating Updates….

Well first off, it's been a long time!  I've been busy like we all are but I thought I'd share some of my decorating projects.  It's very hard for me to tackle just one project at a time because there are sooo many things I want to do and I get side tracked but for my latest project, I stayed focused;)

Painting stripes in the dining room….

Here is the dining room as it was when we first moved in..
 Here it is after my first update...

 I painted the ceiling and chandelier, made curtains, took down blinds and put up bamboo shades.  

And now the stripes.  I really like it!

Here are some things I still need to do, although I did add something on either side of the mirror recently and I'm satisfied with it for now.

Was this easy?  Not really.  Do I have a tutorial?  No.  Ha!  I'm too impulsive for tutorials!  I forget to take  before pics and then pics along the way.  I just dive into projects because I usually have no idea if they'll work or look good so there's no tutorial.  But there are plenty on pinterest;)  My mom helped me measure and then I used a level, a pencil and tape-that was the hard part.  The rest was easy;)

So I'm very happy with how it turned out as this is one of the first rooms you see when you walk in the house.  It's fun yet still sophisticated I think.

Another project I did quite a while ago but never got around to putting it on here is a little update in the kitchen.

I am wanting to do a MAJOR project in the kitchen but I'm just waiting for the right time.  Until then I did this….

I added a fun design to the back of the cabinets!  Before I go into this, here is the first update I did…

 I simply painted the back of the cabinet.  

For the fun design, do I have a tutorial?  No;)  But it's so simple and all I did was get foam board from Michaels, measured and cut it to fit and then hot glued fabric on it!  So it can come out if chevron goes out of style…but let's hope it doesn't;).

I just made sure I got the fabric on there really tight so there were no bubbles.  

I also painted the entire kitchen a nice shade of grey (it was brown, like the dining room), called Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore-love it!  But that was just a small part of my master plan;)  I've been obsessed with a white kitchen for about 5 years now.  Every house we've moved into has been nice but didn't have my white kitchen.  I've researched how to paint cabinets for 2 years, and I have quotes on getting it done professionally.  I'm leaning towards doing it myself but I need to find the right time, a little more courage, and a whole lot of energy.

This is my dream for this kitchen, along with changing the black appliances to stainless steel as well as the faucet- oh and of course I'd love a farm house sink but let's not go overboard!  One of these days I will have that post on here, don't know when but I'm determined;)

One more small change although it didn't take any work, was changing the dark oriental rug in the family room to a much lighter, totally different style rug...

Here's a very old before with the old rug...

Ahh, so much better with a lighter rug!  

So anyways, that's all for now.  I'd like to tackle the bedrooms next but the kitchen project is always in the back of my mind, along with the bonus room, future mudroom and who knows what I'll do next!