Saturday, July 28, 2012

Valuable lessons from my 6.5-Day Diet

Old me.
Even though I didn't successfully make it the full 17 days {again}, my time following the 17-Day Diet plan was beneficial in that a lot of things "clicked" with me. I've read countless health magazines and blogs, and I consider myself full of healthy living knowledge, but a very out-of-control sweet tooth and zero willpower really snuffed out all of that information - I could never live up to what I knew was right. My good intentions were always easily swayed by the offering of a cookie, a bagel, some candy...

Now, I feel like I've learned how to listen to my body more and to truly think about what I'm putting in my mouth. The most valuable lessons I've learned

1. Controlling my sweet tooth: In the first two weeks of the 17-Day Diet, you're limited to eating only low-sugar fruit {no bananas, melon, mango or pineapple} and obviously all starch/bread/rice/etc. is out of the question. In theory, abstaining from these items should break the sugar addiction {which I 100% buy in to - I love any and everything sugary}. I can honestly say that since limiting my sugar intake on the plan, I haven't had as strong of a desire for sugar. I don't stop at the candy dish at work, and I'm not tempted to grab a little something here and there. Breaking the sugar addiciton was a very important piece of putting myself on the right path for weight loss.

My favorite variety of "sweets" nowadays - I love summer produce!
{Old picture of fresh-picked strawberries from Mother's Day weekend}

2. Portion control: I had always read about it and thought that I practiced it, but now I feel that I can truly do it. Since I wasn't "allowed" to have rice, bread, pasta, etc. during the diet, but I sometimes needed a little boost to my meals, I was allowing myself a very conservative helping of rice or potatoes at dinner. The amount was small enough to not make a huge impact, but enough to satisfy my palate. This really hit home to me - I don't need a big scoop of rice or potatoes or a bun on my hotdog to "round out" my meal. A tiny amount or taste will do.

3. Moderation/lower carbohydrate intake: This is slightly related to portion control, too. Meals on the plan were centered around lots of protein and vegetables, which I knew was how I should be eating {in the past, my body has always responded well to reducing carbohydrate intake}. I love all things bread and potato {who doesn't?!}, and there have been evenings when I'd stop and think "Did I eat any fruits or vegetables or quality protein today?" and sadly, I often had not. I'm now really consciencious of what my "plate" looks like - as many vegetables as I can stand, a serving of lean protein, and a very small amount of starch/complex carbohydrate. If I know I'm going to have a carb-heavy meal at some point during the day, I'll be a saint the rest of the day. I knew we'd be having pizza for dinner on Friday night, so all day Friday I made a conscious effort to limit the amount of carbs I consumed.

4. Mindful eating: I ask myself "is it worth it?" a lot more often now, and as I said, I'm very conscientious of what I'm consuming.

These are all the very obvious steps to weightloss, but until now, I've never been able to practice them. While some criticize the 17-Day Diet plan, I personally found the plan helpful to reset my body and mind in the realm of food consumption.

Friday, July 27, 2012

17 Day Diet: er, let's make that a 6.5-Day Diet

It's safe to say that I fell of the 'ol diet bandwagon on this one - my 17-Day Diet pretty much ended on Sunday evening. I expected the weekend to be really hard, but I actually did fairly well!

Saturday morning, Vic was, shall we say, feeling the effects of having too much fun the night before and he requested that I run to Bruegger's for bagel breakfast sandwiches. I promptly whined "You're sending someone on a low-carb diet to a BAGEL SHOP!!" I really didn't want him suffering through a hangover all day, so I obliged. I ended up getting myself something, but not on a bagel {though it was very tempting!} - I got a breakfast wrap {2 egg patties, bacon, 1 slice of muenster cheese in a tortilla}. I ripped off all of the bready-ends and any overlapping tortilla pieces, so the amount of tortilla I ate was minimal {and the whole thing was so good!}. I made myself proud the rest of the day by having a protein-packed smoothie for lunch and a strawberry poppyseed chicken salad from Panera for dinner {and thus mostly sticking to the diet plan}.

Sunday I was successful all day {eggs and fruit for breakfast, chipotle salad for lunch}, but then we went to the Durham Bulls game, where my company had treated us to a catered dinner.

One of the highlights of his night!
I was hoping they'd have a least one healthy choice, but it was burgers, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, chips, baked beans, and cake. Pretty much only starchy carbs/low-quality protein. Couldn't they have thrown in a fruit salad?! I had a hot dog {tore off most of the bun} and a small scoop each of macaroni and cheese and baked beans, a Diet Pepsi, a pinch of cotton candy, and literally 1 bite of cake. Old me would've had the same things, but a regular soda and much bigger portions {and more cake!}. I was proud of my control.

This boy only asked for Cotton Candy - how could we say no?
So yes, technically I am OFF the diet. While I felt very mentally committed to it and stuck to it relatively well {given a normal -workday- schedule}, my body was not happy. Aside from the ketosis breath, I was so tired in the evenings {from lack of carbs - the nights I had a small serving of rice or beans, I was a whole different person}, and not to be gross, but things weren't "moving" correctly. To me, these are all signs that this diet was not really beneficial for my body. Yes, I was losing weight {3lbs over the course of the week, which has not come back thus far!}, but the deprivation and unpleasant side effects weren't worth it.

Since Sunday, I'm happy to report that I've been more active {running, spin class, and swimming!}, the weight loss from last week has stayed off {and even dropped a little more!}, and I feel great, even though I'm entering the dreaded PMS zone. I learned a lot from my week on the 2.5 week diet, which I plan on discussing in more detail in my next post :-)

Total weight loss for July {as of 7/27}: 5.0 lbs {about 8lbs total since mid-May}

My goal is 10 for the month, but I don't think I'll lose 5 lbs in 4 days! I really feel that I've hit my stride with weight loss and possibly even hurdled myself over a little plateau. I'm very optimistic that great losses {of weight!} are in my future.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

2012 Family Vacation, Take 3: The Ride Home and Wilmington

First, Vic is at the Valient Thor show @ Cat's Cradle tonight, and I am guiltlessly enjoying episodes of Girls on HBO on Demand ;-) Funny stuff!

Second, the diet is going well so far, but today/tonight has been really hard. I did great this morning, but in the afternoon I was absolutely starving/nauseous and without any snacks. I had to resort to some trail mix from the vending machine... not terrible {like a candy bar}, but technically nuts and raisins are not allowed. This evening I also had a few bites of pizza {so hard to resist!}, a few kernals of pop corn, and a sugar/fat-free cup of pudding. Not so great, but I didn't lose control of the situation, like I would've before this diet.

So now for the last re-cap of our trip.

After our trip to the zoo, we spent the evening at Heritage Park in Canton, a park that I spent a lot of time at while I was growing up. It was so sweet to be there with my son and husband, as a full-fledged adult. And it kind of made me homesick...

We trekked to Ikea on Tuesday and drove around town, enjoying our last day in MI. {Ikea totally disappointed me - it was under renovation, so they only had about half their usual items.} Wednesday morning, we enjoyed some of Grandma's french toast, packed up our car {to the max}, and hit the road. The trip home got tense with about four hours left, and we were all very ready to be home. On Thursday, it was a million degrees out and we were all wrecked, so it was a nap-filled, relaxed day.

Friday morning, we headed out to Wilmington for an overnight stay. It was 100* both Friday and Saturday, so the beach was really the best place to be.

Valentino flying a kite at Ft. Fisher beach
Getting his feet wet {that's about as far as he went in - the surf was a bit rough that day!}
The boy loves the beach!
We had our fill of the beach for the day, headed back to our hotel, and got ready to go to dinner:

Hamming it up.
Then set out for the Downtown Sundown Concert in Wilmington - a Led Zeppelin tribute band. {An interesting crowd, for sure!}

Sunset in Wilmington
Saturday was more beach time before we left for home. Sunday was another relaxed day - a good way to end the vacation.

All in all - we had a nice vacation. It was perfect to break up the time between a long road trip/visiting family and relaxing beach time for just the three of us.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

17-Day Diet: Days 3 & 4 = getting by

Day 3 {Wednesday} food:
Weighed in at -3lbs for the week. No exercise for the day {I had zero energy and felt so lethargic}.

Breakfast: Scoop of ON protein powder mixed w/1% milk {technically not supposed to be a meal replacement, but I was running so late}, grande skinny hazelnut latte
Snack: Plum around 9:30am
Lunch: Lunch n'learn training session... they ordered Boston Market. Oy. I had some baked turkey {so dry and flavorless...}, half a plate of roasted veggies {broccoli, zucchini, squash, carrots - also kind of flavorless}, about 5 macaroni & cheese noodles, and a pinky-sized sliver of brownie {which I truly regret, especially since it wasn't very good!}. Verdict on Boston Market = SKIP that joint!
Snack: Chobani 0% raspberry greek yogurt
Dinner: Chipotle salad with chicken, smidge of brown rice, smidge of black beans, fajita veggies {peppers & onions}, mild salsa, light sprinkle of cheese and their dressing.

Yes, I had a few carbs today. I truly felt horrible all day and was dragging - I felt that, while it wasn't "by the {diet} book," I needed to add a dash here and there. I needed a little fullness and a little fuel, and by the end of the day, I felt better. No regrets, except that I'm pretty sure all the sodium from both the Boston Market and Chipotle food resulted in some water retention, which I'm resolving today.

Day 4 (Thursday) food:
Weighed in at -2.4lbs for the week {up a little from yesterday - I blame the sodium intake yesterday}. Another 3.3mi run this morning

Breakfast: 1/2 banana before my run {5:30am}, then a smoothie {1/2c kefir, 1/2c unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 frozen banana, handful of berries, scoop of ON protein powder} and Starbucks via iced coffee {1/2 milk, 1/2 water} on the way to work.
Snack: Cherries around 10am
Lunch: Another salad creation - lettuce, grilled chicken, strawberries, blueberries, sliced peaches, raspberry walnut dressing:

Envy of the lunchroom!

Later -
Snack: Chobani 0% blueberry greek yogurt
Dinner: I have a small ham that I'm planning to cook, so although I'll make ham and mashed potatoes or rice for Vic and Valentino, I'll probably make an egg scramble for myself w/eggs, ham, and veggies. {Ham is not really "permitted," but this is lean so I'm fine w/it}.

All in all, I'm getting "used" to this way of eating, and it's becoming easier. I am still quite hungry sometimes, probably due to the fact that I don't eat enough vegetables. If nothing else, this diet is helping me to think more about what and when I eat, and it really is reigning in my sweet tooth.

Lovely side effect: I'm experiencing some weird bad breath/taste in my mouth due to either ketosis or ammonia. I'm hoping it goes away soon :-(

Personal victory: when Vic and Valentino were having ice cream last night, I wanted a bite, but I wasn't sitting in the corner salivating like a starving dog {which is a big accomplishment for me - ice cream is my #1 love!}.

All day I've been thinking and conjuring up more content for a post I've been working on for a few months now about something that's weighing on my mind... I hope to finish it and post soon!

Have you had any personal victories lately?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

17 Day Diet: Day 2 = hungry, but ok.

Day 1 = success. I ate as planned in the afternoon {which is where I tend to fall apart} - a cup of 0% raspberry Chobani for a snack around 3:30pm, then grilled marinated chicken and a cup of broccoli for dinner at around 6:45. That was it, and although I had a hard time getting the chicken down {so. much. chicken.}, I was okay with it.

Got up this morning at 5:20, ate 1/2 a banana then ran 3.3 miles {in about 36 minutes... pathetic!}. Weighed myself and I was down 2lbs from yesterday! Yay! I know it's all bloat/water/etc., but it's very motivating! Four pounds down for the month, six more to go :-)

I'm about to dig in to this salad:

Chicken, strawberries, blueberries and raspberry walnut dressing. I'll have a cup of Chobani for a snack later in the afternoon. Dinner will be another thrilling installation of grilled chicken and broccoli... I'm going to have to switch it up tomorrow though, so I don't get burned out on all the chicken.

Is anyone an apple cider vinegar drinker? I had heard about it and all its benefits before, but someone mentioned it on FB yesterday and it reminded me that I should give it a try. It's supposed to have many, many health benefits {my favorite being the appetite suppression!}. I've got to stop at the store and pick some up one night this week - the best variety is said to be Bragg's organic, all-natural, which is carried by Kroger stores. I want to try this recipe from Delighted Momma {I need a concoction - the smell of ACV is enough to make me barf}.

Monday, July 16, 2012

17 Day Diet: Day 1

I totally need to finish my vacation re-caps, but I haven't had a chance to sit down and think about it... so you get this instead. :-)

I've been in need of a plan for a while, and with only 2 weeks to go until the end of July {how the heck did that happen?!} and a goal of losting 10lbs in July {only 2 of which I've lost as of this morning}, I decided to jump back on the 17 Day Diet plan. I've been doing pretty well on the exercise front - I even doubled-up {exercise twice in one day!} two times last week. I definitely feel stronger and ever-so-slightly leaner, but I need to ditch the flabby belly. From what I've heard and read, "abs are made in the kitchen." I'm not going for a six-pack here, but I at least want a belly that doesn't protrude and one that doesn't "roll up" the second I sit down. I know my carb intake is way out of control, so I need to reign that in {I've had success w/losing belly flab by reducing my carb intake before}.

So I've embarked on the 17 Day Diet. I tried it last year for about 5 days, and 5lbs came off in no time - had I stayed the course of the first cycle, I have a feeling I would've ended up losing at least 10lbs in 17 days. It's kind of restrictive, especially for someone who doesn't like vegetables at all - grains/bread/pasta/rice are off limits, and you can only have 2 servings of fruit per day {and before 2PM!}, but you're allowed all the protein and vegetables you want. I'm going to give it an honest effort though, and see where it gets me {Vic's birthday is 8/7, and I'd love to be at least 10lbs down by then}.

Today's eats so far:

Breakfast - smoothie made with ~3/4c. plain/lowfat kefir, 1/2 frozen banana, 1/2c. fresh blueberries, and 1 scoop ON vanilla protein powder; venti skinny vanilla latte {needed this to function this AM}

Lunch - wasn't able to prepare grilled chicken yesterday, so I ran to Meridian Cafe for Mango chicken {grilled chicken breast w/mango salsa}, roasted vegetables {broccoli, onion, squash, zucchini}, and strawberry salad {lettuce, strawberries, feta cheese, raspberry dressing}.


Snack - Chobani 0% raspberry Greek yogurt

Dinner -  chicken breast, broccoli, tossed salad.

I'll be honest here - I am not following the diet to a T {bananas, cheese, any sort of milk, any sort of dressing, and fruit-flavored yogurts are NOT permitted according to the book}. However, I don't really consider these things "cheats" - because I am such a picky eater, if putting a small amount of dressing on my salad or 1/2 a banana in my kefir smoothie helps get it down, I'm going to do it. I'm really using the diet as a guide to limit my intake and structure my meals to achieve weight loss and to break the awful sugar cravings I have. ALSO, the book doesn't recommend exercising during the first cycle - I will be exercising, so those tiny "disallowed" items should be more than cancelled out by any exercise I do.

I'll be posting updates as I go along...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

FIVE Years - what a ride!

Five years ago today {and on a Wednesday, just like today}, I married my very best friend:

July 11, 2007 - Glen Falls Park, Williamsville, NY: Just married!
{Yes, I'm huge... I can only attribute about 20lbs to being 6.5 months pregnant}
We went on a week-long, sunshine filled honeymoon in San Diego, where we stayed in an amazing oceanside resort - we slept with our balcony door wide open, letting the sea breeze in:

In our room at the Hotel Del Coronado
And went on mini-adventures - the San Diego Zoo, bike riding on Mission Beach and through Downtown San Diego, a drive into the mountains {reaching 4,000ft}, hiking at Point Loma...

On the grounds of the "Del," after a day spent riding bikes in Downtown SD.
Four years ago {July 2008}, and we've begun our adventures as a family of three with the addition of a happy, blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby boy:

Hiking at Akron Falls Park, Akron, NY {Valentino is 7 months old}
Three years ago {July 2009}, we've moved in with his mom to prepare ourselves for a move to NC. Looking back at that summer, although it seemed tough at the time, it was a really great time in our lives together {and our last summer with his mom, rest her soul}, and I'm so glad that we experienced it.

Hiking at Letchworth State Park in Western NY
Two years ago {July 2010} was our first {HOT} summer in NC. We were having a blast getting to know our new town and experiencing the start of our new life, which included new jobs for both of us and full-time preschool for Valentino {the first time he's been away from us!}, as well as many new activities:

4th of July fireworks in Fuquay-Varina, NC {look at Valentino's long curly hair!}
One year ago {July 2011}, we learned a lot about life and what is truly important. It was a rough time, but we stuck together. We were healthy and had each other - which is truly all you need in this life.

4th of July weekend at the beach {our rented Jeep is on the sand in the background!}
So here we are today, having been through so much - birth of a child, loss of two parents, a cross-country{ish} move, job changes, and the normal ups and downs of marriage - but we remain the best of friends and committed to each other, our son, and our family.

May 2012 at North Hills' Beach Music
Here's to many, MANY more years to come. I love you, Vic!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

2012 Family Vacation, Take 2: Visiting Family and a trip to the Detroit Zoo (including zoo review!)

Our trip to Michigan was timed around us going to my cousin's graduation party - mostly to celebrate this great achievement, but also to visit with family we haven't seen since Christmas 2009 {right before we moved to NC}.

The party was the evening of the first full day we were in MI {Saturday}. After hanging around my Grandma's house all morning, we drove out to my Aunt's {my mom's sister}. All of my mom's siblings {my Aunt and 3 uncles} were there, plus my Dad and his new wife {whom I hadn't met until that night - my Dad and I aren't in contact with each other much, and they just got married last year}, plus my sister, niece, cousins, Grandma, Great Aunt/Uncle, and some other extended family members were there, so it was nice to catch up with everyone. It was also a great way for everyone to see Valentino as a young boy - he was pretty much a toddler last time we were there.

Valentino at the party
The weather was perfect, and the kids were entertained by the trampoline and all the bigger cousins who looked after them. Vic helped set up badminton/volleyball and played with the graduates, then he set up a bonfire for everyone. Once it got dark, a few "big" {read: illegal mortar-type} fireworks were set off while the adults enjoyed beer and goofing around on the deck. We didn't leave until after 11pm {party animals, right?!}, and Valentino was asleep within 2 minutes of pulling out of the driveway.

Sunday we goofed around Grandma's house some more, then ended up going to our favorite mall {Twelve Oaks} with my Mom, Sister and Aunt for some Coney Island {a Detroit-area staple!} lunch and walking around.

Valentino obviously liked the play area best - we need a nice one like this in Raleigh! It's HUGE.
My Mom left from the mall to head back to WI, and then my Grandma watched Valentino Sunday night so that Vic and I could go to a movie together. We saw the Adam Sandler/Andy Samberg movie "That's my Boy!" It was GREAT - probably our favorite Sandler movie thus far. Raunchy, very quotable, with lots of silly Vanilla Ice jokes/cameos. So funny! It was so relaxing to see a movie in the theater together knowing that our boy was in good hands.

I really wanted to do some kind of fun activity while we were in MI and we've been wanting to go to the zoo for a while, so on Monday we picked up our niece and took her to the Detroit Zoo with us.

At the gates of the zoo.
I hadn't been to the Detroit Zoo since my Sister was about Valentino's age {so over ten years ago}, and with the overall decline of MI/Metro Detroit, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I grew up mostly going to the Toledo Zoo - my family had always said that it was nicer and had more animals, so that's where we went when I was a kid. I didn't really want to head south to Toledo for the day, so I decided that we could give the Detroit Zoo a try.

Turtle, turtle! The zoo had many of these bronze animals throughout the park for the kids to climb on

We actually had a great time, and I thought the zoo itself was quite nice - clean and shaded, with plenty of exhibits and information. We arrived around 11am on that cool, sunny Monday, and although the parking garage was packed, the zoo itself didn't feel that way. Admission/parking was kind of high in my opinion - for the four of us, admission and parking cost $51.00 (it would've cost $40.00 for us to go to the NC Zoo). One perk we noticed right away is that the zoo allows coolers and "outside food" and they have many picnic areas - bringing your own food and drinks can save you from buying the mediocre and overpriced park food.

One of my favorite features of this zoo is the Rackham Fountain towards the front of the park. We were sure to snap a few photos there:

Big bear butts.
Resting by the fountain
Another cool feature is that they have free-ranging peacocks walking around the grounds. During my last visit with my Sister, we saw a peacock fanning it's plume. This time, we didn't get a plummage show, but Valentino was able to get really close to {and even touched!} the peacock!

He would've followed that guy all day
The kids really wanted to see elephants, but this zoo does not have any - we broke the news to them and they requested the giraffes instead, so we worked our way through the zoo, exhibit by exhibit {of mostly sleeping/lounging animals} until we reached them... at the back of the park. Luckily, the kids were happy and didn't fuss as long as we fed them snacks and gave them drinks.

Valentino sharing snacks with his cousin and my hair growing longer and unruly-er by the moment.
Valentino was so great with his cousin - he was sure to share everything with her and try to include her in/tell her about what was going on. There wasn't a single bit of bickering or arguing between the two of them, and they were perfect all day.

Clearly amazed by the zebras
I was really excited to check out the Arctic Ring of Life - it had been under construction at my last visit - and I have to say that it didn't disappoint {mostly}. The exhibit features some outside viewing areas for seals and polar bears as well as an underwater walkthrough tunnel. The seals were being fed, which we watched from outside. As we went through the tunnel, the seals were swimming all over - it was so fun to watch and to see them up close. It reminded me of the polar bears Vic and I saw at the San Diego Zoo on our honeymoon. On the website, it seemed as though the polar bears also swim around you in the tunnel {there's supposed to be a wall between the two tanks}, but we didn't see any. The single polar bear we saw here was quite pathetic looking - it was out in the sun panting and laying around.

Walkthrough underwater tunnel - the seals were swimming all around us
Everyone was getting hungry and ready to leave so we started the walk back to the front of the park - stopping at the carousel for a ride {Valentino rode the praying mantis and my niece was on a horse}, through the petting zoo, and in the penguin house {which I so clearly remembered from a visit in kindergarten!}.

Waiting {not so} patiently for the carousel
Riding on a preying mantis
A stop at the gift shop for some souvenirs {$21 later... for 3 small things}, then we split. The kids played wonderfully in the backseat for the ride home and everyone seemed happy with the outing. I'm glad we were able to do something as a family {including my niece} that I think we'll all remember for a long time.

While we probably won't be visiting the Detroit Zoo again anytime soon {if ever}, I'm glad we went and I feel it's worthwhile for those in the area. There are plenty of exhibits and things for the kids to play on, and it's very do-able - there's walking, but it's not excessive and there are plenty of benches and restrooms along the way.

COST: $14/adult, $9/child for general admission {we didn't get any of the extras}, plus $5 parking and $2/rider for the carousel.

BRING: Comfortable shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses, picnic lunch, water/drinks

The Detroit Zoo is located at 8450 W. 10 Mile Rd, Royal Oak, MI 48067

 On a personal note about this outing: this was our first "run" of sorts with two young kids. Two car seats in the car, two stollers, two admission tickets, two souvenirs, two mouths to feed... it was a glimpse into life with two. With that said, any minor incovenience or extra cost was very worth seeing them interact, share, converse, and play with each other, and it made my heart and uterus yearn for a sibling for Valentino {don't get me wrong - I know it's not always rainbows and sunshine with two kids - my brother and I are two years apart and I can remember fighting and bickering quite a bit!}.

Monday, July 9, 2012

July Goals {a lot late} and June Goals Review

To break up all the vacation posts, I thought I'd throw in a normal{ish} post, too. I'm really trying to become a more regular blogger, regardless of who/how many people actually read it. I kind of enjoy having a written record of everything going on in our lives.

A quick review of June's goals:

1. Lose at least 10lbs. FAIL. Big, FAT F-A-I-L. We bought a new scale and Vic and I began weighing ourselves daily. We shared a chuckle when we both realized that we are almost exactly {within tenths of a pound} the same weight as we were at this time last month. As in, zero pounds lost. There were ups and downs all month {we went on vacation, afterall!}, but we ended where we started. I will say that the daily weighing is helpful - it really keeps me accountable and motivated. I'm totally ashamed that June went by without any loss, so I am really going to make July count!

2. Cut the junk. Mildly successful. We don't really have junk food in the house, and I'd say that on the whole, we cut out some of it... but there's a lot of room for improvement. Work in progress.

3. Fill the frames/get working on our family photo album. FAIL. So bad. Nothing was accomplished in this arena. After our vacation, I now have even more photos to sift through and pick from... will this ever get done?

4. Have a great vacation! SUCCESS! Good family memories, beautiful weather everywhere, and minimal strife = successful vacation. We tried to make the best of where we were and we were all able to relax, bond, and spend time together.

June went by in the blink of an eye, especially with all the planning and preparations for the vacation {and the vacation itself!}. It's so hard to believe that July 4th has come and gone, and we are truly in the depths of the dog days of summer {how 'bout that heat, right?!}. We've crossed several things off of our Summer To-do List, but there are still several things we're looking forward to :-)

With that said, I give you my July goals (so late, once again...):

1. Lose at least 10lbs. Like I said, this will be on the list until further notice, although hopefully not much longer!

2. De-clutter the house/our life. Valentino was spoiled on vacation, of course - he came back with a keyboard {it used to be mine when I was a [not so] musical kid} and a box full of trucks and cars, plus all the things I bought him to occupy him on the trip. Needless to say, the kid's stuff is everywhere. Our house is bulging at the seams {although, when I see houses on Hoarders, it doesn't look quite so bad...}, and we've GOT to get rid of some of it. We're planning on getting a storage unit for some of the things we want to keep but don't immediately need, but I don't want anything going into storage that is JUNK. What's the sense in that?!

Valentino and his keyboard - he puts on shows for us hourly.

3. Seek guidance. I have several personality and intrapersonal issues that need to be dealt with. I can't seem to figure them out on my own {nor can I even understand what exactly they are}, so I'm going to get some therapy. I've heard good things about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy {CBT}, so I'll be looking into something in that realm. We've also been talking about attending church on Saturday evenings, which I'm hoping we can do one of these weekends... perhaps some spiritual teaching would be good for me? We shall see...

4. ENJOY SUMMER! As I said, we've done several things on our Summer List - a road trip, swimming, days at the beach {3 so far!}, hiking, fireworks, playing in the sprinkler... we LOVE summer in this household! We're hoping to continue to make the most of every warm, sunny day. We're also hoping to keep as up-to-date as possible with the TOUR! Vive le Tour! {We're on Stage 5 as of now... I think the riders are on Stage 9. We'll get there... eventually!}

Edited to add: I've also taken up dry brushing my skin before showering. I've done it twice now, and my skin feels so much softer. A small side goal I have is to keep that up as well as become a better flosser :-)

A little factoid to end on:

There are 940 Saturdays between when a child is born, and when he turns 18.

I read this last week, and it really hit home for me. I often feel like, with the hustle and bustle and rush of everyday, I run out of time to *be* with Valentino and really listen to what he's saying and give him my undivided attention. I'm working on being more aware of this and totally plugging into him when I can. I've also started keeping a notebook of funny things he does/says, because sometimes {although I hate to say it}, I completely forget.

Something I really hate to say to him:

"We don't have time for that."

I'm going to make time for that instead.

I'll definitely be making more time to build sweet Lego houses with him!
{Check out the guard! He has a shovel!}

Saturday, July 7, 2012

2012 Family Vacation, Take 1: To Grandma's house we go!

We did it. We survived 1,500+ miles of driving in the car together, and for the most part - it went smoothly!

We left Raleigh around 8:30am on Friday morning with a stuffed car and lots of snacks and toys to {hopefully} keep Valentino entertained - coloring books/crayons/markers, kid computer games {like MobiGo and Leap Frog toys}, library books, white board w/markers, and iPhones and laptops with apps and cartoons. Of course, Valentino immediately wanted to play with everything - his absolute favorite for the whole trip was the whiteboard and set of 6 Crayola whiteboard markers. He drew endless pictures and demanded that I take pictures of each of his creations so that we could show them to Great Grandma:

The three of us in our car w/our dog on a leash, Great Grandma is in the bottom right corner and of course the sun is shining!
This stuff kept him entertained up until the point we got to Pilot Mountain, NC {about 2.5 hours in}, at which point the whining started and he looked like this:

He was ticked that I took this picture - "MOM, I wasn't smiling!" A meltdown ensued.
Needless to say, we made a pit stop just outside of Pilot Mtn for gas and to stretch. This is when we encountered some super nice, but super Southern, Pepsi delivery men at the gas station. One of them may have very audibly farted several times while bending over as I was in close proximity to him, with no apology. Charming!

Pilot Mountain from the car - I really want to climb it one day!
{Side note - on the way home, I could see it from about 50 miles away on a mountainside in VA - cool!}
Back in the car and thankfully Little Mister occupied himself and then passed out, which I definitely didn't expect would happen {he's not known for sleeping in the car}:

Like a champ.
We arrived at my Grandma's in Michigan around 8:00pm, and my Mom and sister {who had driven in from Wisconsin that same day} were there waiting for us. Valentino hasn't seen my Mom or Grandma since he was 2, so he didn't really recognize them right away, but he was playing and bonding with them in no time. The weather was beautiful and because MI is on the west side of the Eastern Time Zone, it stays light there until 10pm so we were able to play outside for quite a while that night.

The next evening was my cousin's graduation party {the fact that he's graduated from H.S. blows my mind... I remember the day he was born!}. We ended up putzing around all morning at my Grandma's:

Valentino slaloming some cones on a bike we borrowed for him.
Can't keep this boy off his bike!
Sitting on a rock during a walk around the block - look at that happy face!
{PS: I used to sit on the same rock when I was kid and I went on walks with my grandparents}
Vic took me for a ride on my uncle's Harley. He's been wanting to take me on a motorcycle ride since we've been together. It was fun!
My mom was able to pick up my three year-old niece {my brother's daughter} earlier that day from my SIL. We haven't seen her since she was about one, so this was really the first time we got to "meet" her. She and Valentino got along great and they played so well together:

Playing trucks and cars in Great Grandma's kitchen
I really enjoyed spending time with and getting to know my little niece. She is a beautiful little girl and she has a really cheerful and happy personality, plus she says some hilarious things.

That's it for the first part of the trip - I'll be recapping the rest of our vacation in at least 2 more entries ;-)

Friday, July 6, 2012

I promise...

To update soon! I need to follow-up on my June goals and re-cap our vacation. Life has been crazy since we got back, and I haven't had .2 seconds to spare. I'm hoping to line up some posts this weekend and to get this blog going again :-)