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The Battle of the Baby Weight

I have always struggled with my weight.  I remember my pediatrician telling my mom to make me drink 2% milk in elementary school to curb my weight gain.  I remember feeling fat in the 5th grade.  There have been periods of dramatic weight loss in 9th grade, summer after freshmen year in college, and when I moved to Asheville.  There have also been periods of dramatic weight gain 5-6th grade, freshmen year in college, junior year in college, post breakups, after moving to Dallas, and most recently during my 1st pregnancy.  I was about 20 pounds over my happy weight when I got pregnant.  Then I proceeded to gain 42 pounds during the 40 weeks of pregnancy.  Yikes.  Did I mention I’m 5’3″?  Yes, that does mean I was about as wide as I am tall.  The pic below was at 37 weeks.  It only got worse, promise.  
Dear First Time Mamas,
Congratulations on your first pregnancy!  If you have struggled with your weight in the past you are now feeling the freedom of being able to eat whatever you want and blame it on the baby.  Enjoy this to an extent, but consider yourself warned.  When that sweet bundle of joy arrives, the weight will not magically go with it. You might lose 12 pounds instantly with a big baby plus water, etc, but the rest will stay and you will have to fight tooth and nail for every. single. pound.  So, eat that ice cream for sure, but maybe not every night.  Trust me, I learned the hard way.    
Love, Becca  

 Here I am at 38 weeks with my sweet and skinny friend, Whitney.  I in no way realized exactly how big I had become until I saw these pictures.  I was hoping it would magically disappear after the birth.  Not so much.     

 I started off strong dropping 12 right after birth (just baby/water/etc), then another 10 from breastfeeding in the first few months.  Then it stalled out.  The Bear was born on May 31, and by October I still looked like this (below).

 I gave up sweets in the month of November, joined a gym and Weight Watchers, and started the Couch to 5K program.  I lost about a pound a week taking me to Christmas when I looked like this (below).  I gained a few pounds back over the holiday which was so frustrating.  Jed and I looked at this picture and decided we didn’t want to be the fat family any more.  We want to be fit and fun for our kids and our quality of life.  The day after Christmas we downloaded My Fitness Pal free app on our phones and I dropped Weight Watchers.  My Fitness Pal is basically the same as the WW app, but FREE!  So great.

 Since Christmas I have lost 14 pounds (for a total of 38) and Jed has lost 20.  This is the one downfall to losing weight with your man.  They will always lose it faster.  Jerks.  But seriously, I am so proud of Jed.  He has worked so hard to get healthy, and it has been fun to partner with him.  We still have a long way to go, but we are on our way.  I have 4 more pounds of baby weight and then 20 more pounds of pre-baby weight to lose before I reach my goal.  I hope to hit my goal of 62 pounds lost by the end of July.  That is slow and steady, a pound a week.  Jed only has 15 pounds to go, so he should be there by June.

Hopefully next pregnancy I can gain weight at a healthy pace and not put myself in such a tough position.  Our hope is to stay active as a family so that Bear grows up with parents who are fun and love to play and teach him the value of a healthy lifestyle.  Our goals this year are to lose weight, but to do that by changing our eating habits and portion sizes, and increasing our fitness level.  We set a goal of 210 minutes of exercise each week, which is 30 minutes a day.  We hope that Bear will grow up without having to struggle with his weight because he has been taught a healthy lifestyle.  
What are your weight loss, fitness, or healthy lifestyle goals this year?  How are you doing with them so far? 

Trying to Escape

The Bear is on the move.  
He has been scooting backwards since Christmas, but this week he started legitimately crawling.  Translation – He can go anywhere he wants.  We are terrified.  Here he is trying to escape through the screen door (which is unbelievably dirty, btw).  Yikes.  Must babyproof ASAP.  And clean screen door.  And clean front door while I’m at it.  

Frugal Friday – A Burlap Wreath for All Seasons

Thanks to Pinterest, an interchangeable burlap wreath has been on my crafty to-do list for quite a while.  It seemed like the perfect solution to my insatiable need to decorate for holidays but stay within our teeny tiny budget.  I finally got around to it last week and dolled it up for Valentine’s Day without spending as extra dime.      

 I bought a straw wreath form at Hobby Lobby using their eternal 40% one item coupons.  I had a ton of burlap left over from other projects, so I cut it into 4-5 inch wide strips.  I kept the plastic on the wreath form after searching all over for tutorials.  I started gluing and wrapping the burlap strips, pulling them super tight to keep the wreath looking neat.  Every time I work with burlap I forget that it is super messy.  Seriously, consider yourself forewarned.  You will have burlap dust EVERYWHERE.  It is itchy and insidious.  Bring out the vacuum.

 After letting the burlap dry, I went through my scrap ribbon and pulled out all the reds and whites.  The big white poof in the middle was the bow on a Christmas gift I received.  I used straight pins to attach the poof to the wreath, then started pinning the looped ribbon to the wreath around the poof.

 I had a few fabric roses made from vintage fabrics lying around, so I pinned them on the wreath as well.  I cut scrap ribbon into workable lengths and looped each piece 3 times before pinning it to the wreath.  I kept pinning ribbon loops onto the wreath until it felt right.  I was inspired by lots of burlap wreaths and ribbon wreaths that I’ve seen around the internet on Tatertots and Jello, Pinterest, and other fabulous sites.

 You can see one of the pins I used in the photo above.  My plan is to remove all the ribbon and switch to a springy wreath this weekend.  I’ll toss the scrap ribbon back into my pile and start over.

 I couldn’t decide if I liked it better without the felt heart hanging in the middle (3 for .30 at Target after Christmas).  I took it down and liked it much better.

 I tied a loop of ribbon to the top so that I could change that out easily as well.  The whole thing will change to a new season with very little effort.

  Are you on Pinterest yet?  Let me know if you need an invite.
What’s on your crafty to-do list?  
I’m sharing this project at some fabulous parties.  Check them out on my right sidebar.  

Make It Happen – A Family Photo Shoot

A big family photo shoot is one of those things that I’ve wanted to do for a while, but is nearly impossible to actually make happen.  Obstacles were stacked against me.  My family is large and spread out, four siblings, 3 spouses, 3 states, 4 cities.  We hadn’t posed all together in any organized fashion since before Chris left for Afghanistan and any of us were married.  It was time.  Over Christmas break there was a 12 hour window when we were all in the same place at the same time, so it was go time.  As the oldest kid and natural born bossypants, I basically forced everyone into it, but most thanked me later.  Just kidding, but maybe they will someday.  I told everyone to wear any shade of grey, white, black, or red, and put a brush through their hair. Somehow my daddy managed to sneak in a baseball cap, but you can’t win ’em all.  We called our friends the Filipeks and had them send down a photographer or two.  We had three cameras going to get lots of pics.  I marched the group down the street to the other side of the lake behind my parents’ house for a scenic backdrop.  It was like herding cats.  Finally we got to posing, and the results are pretty great.  
 Nice and normal, grouped close together.
 Each little family group separate, looking at each other.
 You’re a tiger! Roar!
Big thanks to the Filipek family for snapping our pics.
The silly ones are probably my favorites.  After the group shots we took a couple of the grandkids with Dede and Poppy.  My goal was to get these printed on canvas for my mama’s birthday, which is today.  Over the weekend we sat down and edited them using Picnik and ordered a few canvas prints.  I can’t wait to see the results.  All in all it was totally worth the hassle and cat herding to get pictures we will treasure for years to come.  
What tasks are on your “Make It Happen” list this year?   

Austin, TX with a Baby

For your viewing enjoyment, I present a photo collage via Instagram of our trip to Austin this week.  
It was in the 30s and 40s, with a hazy shade of winter cast over the city.  We stayed downtown at the Stephen F. Austin Intercontinental Hotel, because we were in town for a state teacher testing conference representing Jed’s school.  Fisher and I did a lot of lounging around in our room because of the cold both weather and illness affecting us.  We shopped and ate and enjoyed ourselves, and would love to go back when the weather is nice.  Downtown is very walkable, and the city has so much to explore.  I would choose a different hotel next time.  The Intercontinental was nice and had lots of architectural interest, but our room was tiny and expensive (paid for by the school) and the mandatory valet parking was very pricey.    
Where did we eat? 
The Mellow Mushroom near the University of Texas campus was our first dinner stop.  We were headed out to Hula Hut at the lake, but traffic was horrendous so we decided to stay close.  We love Mellow Mushroom in Asheville, so we went for what we know.  We had the Funky Chicken pizza and the soft pretzels.  The key at MM is to order a side of the Esperanza house dressing.  That junk is so good.  
The next day Jed had a long lunch break so we went to Mellow Johnny’s, Lance Armstrong’s bike shop.  My husband is a cyclist and could entertain himself in a bike shop for hours.  He showed Fisher all the cool bike stuff while I shopped for Christmas presents for him.  If you are into bikes, the shop is a must see.  Many of Lance’s bikes are on display along with a well thought out selection of cycling gear and accessories.  It also has a cafe called Juan Pelota’s that serves breakfast burritos and coffee.  
For lunch we headed to the Taco Shack.  I had a chicken torta with bread that melted in my mouth.  Delicioso.  
At the Taco Shack, Fisher had a big first.  He sat up in a high chair throughout the meal.  Yay!!  He loved playing with his toys and sitting up like a big boy while we ate.  

Fisher and I did a little more exploring, driving around the state capitol and South Congress shops.  We picked up a few cupcakes from Hey Cupcake, one of the famous food trucks on South Congress.  I surprised Jed with them when he got back to the hotel.  

Fisher and I did lots of snuggling on the big king sized bed in our room.  A sniffly baby makes exploring in the cold not so much of an option.    
Our last night in town we went to Magnolia Cafe on South Congress.  It rocked my world.  It was cheap and delicious with a laid back atmosphere and creative menu.  I had baked acorn squash with the chef’s special pecan pesto on top, with a side of curried shrimp and veggies.  Oh my.  I was in broccoli heaven.  
We came back to Dallas and were greeted by gridlock.  We loved the feel of Austin and hope to go back and explore more when the weather is nicer.  Where would you like to explore?   

O Little Town of Bethlehem

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may his His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel

This song has always connected with my soul. The line about the hopes and fears of all the years makes me ponder all the hopes and fears of my life. In what or whom do I place my trust? I think about what must have been happening in that little town the night Jesus was born, and in the days following. It must have been filled with people too busy to notice that the Messiah they had been waiting for had finally arrived. My prayer for myself and for my family is that we are not too busy to notice the Messiah this Christmas. I pray that we look to Him for life and hope and peace and joy.

O Come Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

This is one of my favorite carols. I love the meaning behind the words, and the haunting tune of the song. I love that we can rejoice because Emmanuel – God with us, came to ransom us from our captivity to sin.

What is your favorite Christmas carol?

My Favorite Holiday Recipe – Our Family’s Cornbread Dressing

In my family, our favorite holiday recipe is my great grandmother’s cornbread dressing. It is complicated and delicious and the best thing ever. We usually have it at both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and have to make 2 skillets full to keep us happy. Try it with turkey and gravy or all by itself. It only tastes right if cooked in an iron skillet.

Here’s what it looks like before it goes in the oven.

6 cups (1 pan) cornbread crumbled
2 cups bread crumbs (2 pieces of wheat bread)
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp sage
course ground pepper to taste
1 stick butter (Paula Deen would be happy.)
4 cups rich chicken or turkey broth
4 eggs, beaten

Preheat your oven to 375. We do all the chopping and crumbling in a food processor. Saute the onions and celery in the stick of butter in the iron skillet for about 2 minutes. Mix all the dry ingredients, then add the broth. At this point, check for proper seasoning and adjust as needed. Add the eggs and veggies and mix well. Bake in your oiled heavy iron skillet for 30-45 minutes. This recipe should serve 12.
This stuff is seriously amazing. You will love it and become as addicted as we are. Consider yourself warned.

What is your favorite family recipe for the holidays?

The Advent Season

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is celebrating Advent. I love the anticipation that comes new every year as we await the coming of Jesus, God with us. I love looking at Nativity scenes and thinking about that little family. The scene above is exactly like my favorite nativity scene of my mom’s. We loved it growing up and tried desperately not to break it. This year my bible study group is doing a book called “Preparing My Heart for Advent” by Ann Marie Stewart. We started it late, not realizing that she had a lesson for every day in November as well as December. Now we are doing each November day with the corresponding December day. I love it and am getting so much out of it. She speaks to my heart, and the study has really helped me to focus on Jesus and not get Christmas stressed. The study has taken us all over the new and old testaments, looking into the people of the Messianic family tree. I love the Christmas story as told by Matthew and Luke, but getting the bigger picture has been amazing. Here is my favorite quote from the study so far:

“Nothing will be perfect except the child in the manger. Keep your eyes on Him, and you will not be disappointed. “

How do I keep my eyes on Jesus and not on my shopping list or my to-do list or my to-visit list?
I’m hoping that staying in the Word every day with this study will help. I think back to Christmases past when the day came and went in a blur because my busyness controlled my life. I hope to slow down this year and enjoy time with family and time with Jesus.
What distracts you from the Savior during the Christmas season?

Every Dog Needs a Cute Stocking

I bought this stocking for Jackson at an after Christmas sale last year. He did have a stocking for the first 9 years of his life, but I didn’t like it at all. This one came with a gold glitter paint pen to write his name on the felt. I’ve used said pen before while decorating stockings for my parents’ pets, and it is really difficult to use on the felt. I decided to hand stitch his name onto the stocking for a personal touch, and so it would go well with the stockings I’m making for Jed and me. This turned out to be far more difficult than I thought. I didn’t have felt to match the white on the stocking, so I had to stitch through the stocking itself. This was not super fun. The stocking is really thick and didn’t want to cooperate. It took so long that I had to rewrite his name in disappearing ink over 10 times. I persevered and I think the finished product was worth the effort.
Now I just have to finish our stockings so I can hang them on the mantle. Hopefully I’ll have them to show you soon.
Do your pets have stockings hung by the chimney with care? If so, does Santa bring them treats to fill their stockings?

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