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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Buying Land and Building a House..

We have been MIA in real life for a couple of reasons:

1) Graham has been working 60+ hours per week
2) Apparently, two kids are more work than one.
3) We've been in the process of buying land to build a house.

Yes, I know.. insane. Let me explain. Several months ago, we started saving money for some house improvements. We were thinking about replacing the siding on our house and installing a portico above the front porch. The work would be estimated between $10-15K, depending on the quality of the siding we chose. I started making plans for this big project, when I noticed that a lot was for sale on Redfin for $59K in a gated neighborhood near our house. It made me think. Hmmm.. why spend this much money on our current house when we wouldn't recoup the cost, and we can afford to build a home in a nicer neighborhood? Our current home doesn't meet all of our needs--my brother cannot stay with us due to the stairs, there is no master bath or big closet, and no extra room for the kids' toys. Building a home with everything we need sounded like a great option compared to big renovations and projects on our current house. This got us started on a roller coaster to actively looking for land and building our home.

I got super excited thinking about the process of building our own home. Growing up in California, I felt like only the super rich people had enough money to build their own house. In fact, I looked up the cost of a lot in my hometown of Folsom, California, and a small lot was $240K.. which obviously doesn't even cover the cost of the house. Yeah, we could never afford to do that in CA. But, here in the sticks, land is much more affordable, and building your own home is more obtainable. I started going on Pinterest again (I've been on a 3-year hiatus), pinning floor plans, design ideas, etc.. I was seriously dreaming about specific floor plans with decks, covered patios, and a daylight basement. I was hooked on the prospect of building my own home, and we hadn't even started yet.

We had some pretty strict guidelines on where we could buy land. Without saying exactly where we live, we live on a sub-peninsula, which is basically a peninsula on a peninsula. It's hard to describe without a map, but we'll just say it's by the Puget Sound. We like our current area because it's more rural, but it's still only 10 minutes away from Costco and Target. We could buy land cheaper if we went out further on the peninsula, but no thanks. As my doctor described that area, it's far enough out that you can hear the banjos playing. Plus, we want to stay in our ward at church, and avoid the sketchy middle school farther out in the sticks. So, the land mass we were considering is fairly small. The first lot we considered was a 1/2 acre sloped lot in a gated neighborhood that also bordered on a small stream. It looked like a great lot for a great price, especially since the septic design was already paid for, the land was already cleared, and a lot of work had been done on the lot, but we had to decline. The house footprint on the lot was only 48 by 34 feet, which is TINY considering you had to have a 3-car garage  and 2400+ sqaure feet for the neighborhood (the minimum for the neighborhood). We would've had to build a 3-story house in order to meet the community guidelines, and that wasn't our idea of a "forever home", so we moved on.

Then, a 3/4 acre lot in a different neighborhood went back on the market (it was previously pending). I got super excited when I found out that the lot already had water and electricity (two big cost items). So, we put in an offer, pending a feasibility study. Since many of you may not have had experience with building a home, let me talk about this.. A feasibility study is a specified time frame in which the buyer can investigate a particular lot to see if it's cost effective to build on that lot. If it's not, the buyer can back out of the deal without penalty prior to closing. A feasibility study includes the following: water, electricity, fire prevention, septic design availability, legal easements on the lot, possible site plans, and building capabilities. I'd already done most of the work for this lot, such as verifying the water and electricity, but we had yet to contact a septic designer to do a soil test (to see if it's amenable to a septic tank) and pick a particular builder.. So, I contacted a surveying/engineering firm to get the soil test done, and I got in touch with several builders (that's a different story altogether--stay tuned). The geologist I spoke with was amazing and super helpful. He looked up the soil info for the lot, the contours of the land, and put together a site plan that included a scale drawing of the house, driveway, storm drains, and septic tank within literally 45 minutes from the time we started talking. It made the process so much less scary to have someone so helpful in the initial process.

Anyways, the only snag we found in the feasibility study was the need for a fire hydrant, which would be $8K(!!!) for the planning and installation. The seller was not willing to budge on the price of the lot despite the fact that the seller owns all of the other lots in the area that would benefit from the hydrant. The other lots close by are not inhabited or currently for sale, so guess who gets to pay for the full hydrant? WE do. Not happy about it. Graham wants to put the hydrant in a place on the street where none of the other lots can benefit from the presence of the fire hydrant. According to county code, even putting in fire sprinklers wouldn't make us immune from having to install the hydrant. Argh. We've considered many alternatives, but it's NOT an option to go without a freaking hydrant. If our lot was over an acre, it wouldn't even be an issue.

Anyways.. financing. This is where buying land or a lot gets complicated. It's not as easy to get a loan for just land/lot, so we had to go to local banks and credit unions. Plus, the interest rates are way higher because of the greater risk to the bank with a land-only loan. I've read practically every article on land loans there is, and we finally found a local credit union through a builder that had our best deal: 20% down, 7.5% interest rate, 20 year term, with a balloon payment at 5 years. Do you know what a balloon payment is? $48,000 due at Year 5.Yikes. That definitely put a strict timeline on us to have our home built within 5 years to avoid paying that giant payment. There were other options, such as 30% down, 20 years, with a lower interest rate, but we didn't have the cash. Another option was 20% down, 8-9% interest rate for 15 years. That monthly payment would've been a little higher than what we wanted due to the shorter term. So yeah, we found the right loan, the right credit union.. and now we just had to wait for the appraisal.

If the appraisal came back as being less than what we wanted to finance it for, we would've had to put more money down, or get the seller to decrease the price. We've never had land appraised before, so it really made us nervous. Plus, the time line was 4-6 weeks out, so it put our closing date out to late January, as opposed to late December. Luckily, the appraisal came back as being $100 more than the selling price, so we were good. Getting the title was another headache, as the communication wasn't great between our lender and the title company. I was completely stressed out a few days prior to closing because the time was passing by so quickly and everything wasn't set yet. However, everything came together at the last moment, and we closed on the land on January 31st.

All in all, it was a stressful experience because it was something completely foreign to me, but it all worked out. But, the stress is just beginning.. We have to sell our house, and move into a temporary place while our new house is being built. I will be blogging along the way, so check my blog if you want to follow along in our process.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

MIA on Facebook

I don't know how many people have actually noticed, but I've taken a step back from my Facebook account. I've actually deactivated my account twice over the past couple of months. It has nothing to do with social media itself, as I've kept my Instagram account. I just have been so SICK of the negativity on the Internet. Yes, politics was a big part of my decision to stop scrolling on Facebook so much. But really, this quote from Stephen King's novel exactly illustrates how I feel about the hatred spewed online and in the world today.

Image may contain: 1 person, text

So, I deleted Facebook on my phone, and I've noticed a huge change in my life. I'm no longer obsessively checking my phone for notifications and updates. I'm spending more quality time with my family. At night, Graham and I talk about us, our lives, and current events. It has been quite the time saver. I still log on occasionally, but only on the computer, or via browser on my phone. It makes it like 100 times more difficult to comment or get involved in people's online arguments. I unfortunately still NEED Facebook for updates about activities and other local things.

Yes, I do miss seeing all of my friends and old acquaintances' accomplishments, family pictures, and big life announcements. I'm no longer wishing people happy birthday, or watching friends' families grow. But, I am watching my own family grow and enriching my marriage. This is not a holier than thou kind of thing. This is just an explanation behind my relative absence. And like I said, I still keep up on Instagram, so if you haven't followed me on there yet, you can do that if you still want to keep in touch.

I keep my Instagram feed full of food, makeup, and family/friends. If you think I'm doing this to keep my head in the sand, don't worry.. I can read the news and keep up with social events just like anyone else. I can just form my own opinion without being subjected to everyone's biases on current events.

In summary, I'm trying to keep my head above water.. but I just wanted to let my real life friends know that I'm sorry if I miss your birthdays, your big life events, your children's accomplishments, and other things you may post about. I'm happy for you, excited for you, and I love seeing you and your kids grow up.. Just understand that I'm taking a long break.. If you ever need to get a hold of me, e-mail me, tag me, or message me on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Having it "all"

Somebody bugged me a couple of months ago when Sadie was a few weeks old (ahem.. you know who you are) about blogging more.. and specifically asked for a blog post about life balance, parenthood, marriage, etc..

I didn't respond, of course, because I was busy nursing this tiny human who wouldn't gain weight nor sleep by herself and even the thought of blogging boggled my mind. But now that I'm back at work and Sadie is not only gaining weight but also sleeping through the night, I can take a moment to think about my life.

Women often get asked the question, "How can you have it all?" Aka.. a family, job/career, and good/happy marriage. It's a little sexist that women get this question, but men don't.. but whatever. Here are my thoughts on the subject, and how I try to balance some of the biggest priorities in my life.

My job:
I picked a career in Dietetics years ago when I looked at BYU's list of majors in alphabetical order my freshman year in college. I was in the Nutrition GE course that semester and I thought to myself--"hey I can do that!" And I switched my major yet another time that year.. and the rest is history as they say. As I got further into my education, I discovered the opportunities to work full-time and part-time in the field, which was my major concern. As a girl growing up, I had no idea what I wanted to be or do (although I used to think I wanted to be an architect or interior designer), but whatever it was, I wanted to do it part-time so I could be home with my kids part-time. I had never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom full-time ever.. I'm not naturally a motherly type. Anyways, although I like my job and career, it isn't a huge passion. You might take a look at my resume and think differently (I have a Master's degree and two specialty certifications), but it's all been a means to an end.. a career that could be part-time. My job and career and not my life.. just a way for me to feel normal and get outside of my home. I don't take my work home with me.. ever. I guess I did study at home for my two exams, but that was it. I don't worry about work. I just show up and do my best. That's how I keep my work life balanced. No secret tricks there..

My family:
Like I said, I always wanted to work part-time and stay home part-time. I'm not like a kids person, and I need my adult time to feel normal. But, I always wanted a family, and we wanted four kids.. then three.. now just two. And we're done. It was quite the adjustment for me after Carter was born. I had never taken care of a newborn before, and the demands of motherhood were exhausting. I didn't enjoy going back to work at 10 weeks, but I didn't hate it. After 13 weeks home with Carter and Sadie this year,  I wanted to stay home.. for the first time ever in my life. I bawled like a baby the night before I went back to work. Since she's our last baby, I wanted to be home and be with her to witness all of her "firsts" firsthand. But, me not working full-time isn't an option for us right now. So, I bucked up and drove myself to work with tears in my eyes Monday morning. I vowed to myself to relish every moment of Sadie's baby life, even the nights of no sleep, so I can always remember this time. Carter's first year was kind of a blur. When I get home each afternoon, I devote time to each of my children, whether it's games with Carter, or snuggles with Sadie.. My alone time is at night after the two kids have gone to bed. I don't need many breaks from my kids when I only have 4.5 hours of them awake in the evening and I work during the day. I try to make quick to prepare meals, freezer meals, or InstantPot meals to decrease the amount of time cooking. And, I pray nightly for my children and for me to be a good mom. I'm not saying I'm a saint by any means.. I have my nights and moments where I just wish for quiet or time alone.. But if I only have 4 hours at night.. I can pull myself together for my kids during those hours. Again, no secret tricks.

My marriage:
Here's where it gets complicated because each relationship is different. Graham and I have an interesting relationship. Neither of us are super romantic and we're pretty jokey with each other, so what works for us probably wouldn't work for others. In fact, I had to go to the doctor's a few weeks ago when I was really sick, and Graham and I were bantering with each other back and forth in front of the doctor. The doctor didn't understand us or our relationship and told us to go home, have sex, and to orgasm (no seriously--she said that). Yeah, she definitely didn't get us at all. One of the biggest strengths in our marriage is the fact that we not only love each other, but we really like each other too. We enjoy each other's company a lot, and we often have conversations about social events, parenting, work, etc.. We also are both grateful for each other's help and often express our gratitude. I am extremely lucky to have a man who helps clean the house, does dishes, and gets up in the middle of the night with the children. He thinks he's lucky because I cook good things....? Hmm, you'd have to ask him the rest. We both consider each other lucky to have found the other person.

Even though marriage has been hard and definitely work at times, it's been the most worthwhile thing to maintain. We are in it for the long haul, even though we've both had our "moments". A bump in the road doesn't have to halt us completely. Sometimes we both get super frustrated at each other. Graham left our house keys in the rental car in San Diego. I got super paranoid and crazy during pregnancy (you don't even know). Even though we both have major flaws and have both made big mistakes, we love each other all of the time and express that love and appreciation. An imperfect diamond is still a diamond, right?  But, if you keep telling the other person every way that they've disappointed you, the other person eventually may just give up. Of course, communication is still key in relationships, but constantly voicing your displeasure doesn't make anyone happy, not even yourself. We also love each other more than our children. Graham's dad told them as kids, "I love you, but I love your mom more." It's important of us as parents to prioritize our relationship to provide a stable foundation for our kids.

One thing we both do, coincidentally, is to keep a running list of happy memories and good times in our mind. That way, if your spouse frustrates and angers, you have happy moments to keep you going. The cheesy thing is, Graham introduced me to this song and told me it made him think of us and our life together. Mind you, Graham composes music and could basically write a movie soundtrack. Ok, maybe that's an exaggeration, but Graham is very musical and talented. He has written a songs for me, Carter, and Sadie based on his feelings for us, and the songs are all very different. He played this song for me, and I thought about how Graham kisses me on the forehead when I'm tired or not feeling well, mine and Carter's last mommy-son date before Sadie was born, crying with Sadie in my arms before going to work, and our bittersweet moments together (when Graham and I separated and he left to get on the ferry to live with his parents for 8 months, and I told him "I will love you forever").. And now, it's the soundtrack to our lives, and this song, as well as Graham's personalized songs, will always remind me to love my spouse and to cherish our time together,

Anyways, no secrets to having it all here.. This is just how I keep myself together while being pulled in a million directions.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Baby Number 2

Well, everyone.. I am still alive.. and I am now a mother of two.

Oh what, you wanted to hear the birth story? Oh, well.. ok. I didn't plan on writing about it..

Yeah, I love birth stories, so I'm going to write about it. Plus, I want my kids to hear the stories about the day they were born.

Here's a photo of the newborn Sadie to keep you interested.. No offense Sadie, but newborn you wasn't particularly photogenic..

Anyways, here we go..

My pregnancy was pretty smooth this time around. No morning sickness, just general malaise during the first trimester. I worked daily out until I was 33 weeks. No gestational diabetes (YAY!). My measurements were right on track. My blood pressure was fine (except for one isolated incident when I was 33 weeks and my BP was high when I checked it, but perfect when I went to the hospital to get checked out.. story of my life). Sadie moved a lot, I had no cramping, no vision problems, headaches, etc.

When I was 33 weeks along, I found out my OB/GYN would be out of the country (South Africa) for the last few weeks of my pregnancy, until I would be ~39 weeks along. My sister (aka Carter's babysitter) would also be gone during the same time frame (AND in the same country as my doctor--believe it or not), so I hoped to keep the baby in until at least 39 weeks. I was convinced that this would be the case, as Carter was born at 39 weeks 1 day, and I didn't have any serious complications so far with Sadie's pregnancy So, I expected to deliver the last week of May or later. I hoped to go until at least June 2nd (my due date was May 31st or so).

On my 37th week appointment, my doctor was not there, as planned.. so I had to see one of her partners. I remarked to my co-workers as I left for my 9:45 AM appointment that I had been bringing all my stuff home every time I went to appointments "just in case". I got to my appointment, and they were running late, as usual. So when they checked my blood pressure and it was 160/100, I figured it was because I was angry about waiting an hour to see a doctor I was unfamiliar with. I got re-checked after resting for 10 minutes, and again, it was high. The doctor came in and was very concerned about my blood pressure. She told me I wasn't returning to work (so I was like ok, I'll just go home to rest).. but then she told me I should go to the hospital today to be induced if my BP was still high when I got there.

Um, NO! I was supposed to have the baby no sooner than 2 weeks from that day! I was in shock, like, ok.. but what about everything else in my life?? I'm not ready for this! So, I had to text my co-workers, ask my very pregnant friend to babysit Carter for two nights, and get a hold of Graham at home (who luckily was not sleeping off a night shift that day). As it always happens, I could not get a hold of Graham. I knew he was going to be mowing the lawn, and we have really poor cell reception at our house, so I told him to take the house phone outside with him. I called his cell phone and home phone a million times, and then I got the bright idea to call someone from church who lived down the street. A very nice man from church went and found Graham outside and told him to call his wife who was about to have a baby! After what felt like hours, Graham finally got a hold of me and we got our plan figured out.

So, I was admitted to the hospital around 11:30 AM for a possible induction. At the doctor's office, my cervical check revealed I was at 1.5 cm, 50% effaced, and -2 station. So, I was considered favorable for induction. They almost didn't let me drive myself to half-mile to the hospital from my doctor's office due to seizure risk, but there was no way I was getting into an ambulance for a 2 minute drive! I got all set up in the room for BP monitoring and to get the induction under way. My BP was still pretty high, so I was there for good to get the baby out. Luckily, my BP wasn't super high to start out, I had no symptoms of pre-eclampsia, and I didn't have protein in my urine (another symptom of pre-eclampsia), so I didn't have to get started on magnesium sulfate right away. I had to be on it last time, and it was awful. It made me sick and I couldn't get out of bed to help speed labor along. So, I was very excited I wouldn't have to be on mag for this delivery.

I got started in pitocin around 1:45 PM. Didn't feel a thing for a while. I turned on HGTV for a "Flip or Flop" marathon. Then, the hospital OB (not even one from the practice where I was followed) came in 2:30 PM to tell me my urine results came back for a high protein-creatinine ratio, an indicator for pre-eclampsia. On went the magnesium sulfate drip--and it burned as it went through the IV. Lovely. For the next couple of hours, I only had inconsistent contractions.. so the doctor broke my water around 5 PM. After 15 minutes, I was finally feeling the contractions. I have extremely painful back labor--I did not feel contractions up front at all. So, I laid on my side while Graham put counter pressure on my back to help with the pain. Every 5-15 minutes the blood pressure cuff would sound an alarm as it checked my blood pressure (always over 160/90). At 5:45 PM, I asked for the epidural, knowing the anesthesiologist would probably take a long time to get there.

I was right. He was not able to get there until 6:30 PM or so. It was awful waiting for him, but the worst part was actually sitting up during the epidural placement. I was in so much pain and my nausea was the worst! I kept saying, I'm going to throw up, I'm going to throw up! Luckily, I didn't (my first time was not so lucky--I puked many many times during Carter's delivery), and by 7 PM, he was done placing the epidural.. thank the Lord. By 7:15, my pain had decreased significantly. My nurse did a cervical check at 7:30, and somehow I was only at 3 cm. Graham and I already thought the baby wouldn't be born until probably the next day based on the length of my first labor, so I wasn't too surprised at the minimal progress.

Around 7:45 PM, my nurse told me to tell her if I started to feel any pressure. She was busy preparing the room for the birth because she had a feeling I "was going to go fast". Around 7:50, I thought I felt pressure. At 8, I thought I felt more pressure. So, I finally said something to the nurse. She checked me, and told me to NOT push because the baby was right there! Around 8:15, my room was full of RN's, Respiratory Therapists, and the hospital OB/GYN. By 8:30 PM, Sadie was born and the doctor announced her birth by saying, "Oh. she's just a little tiny peanut!" My first thought was "Seriously--I gained all this weight for this tiny baby?!?" Graham and I bet on the baby's birth weight--I guessed 6 lbs even, and Graham guessed 5 lbs 10 oz.

She was 5 lbs 13 oz (somehow the average of mine and Graham's guesses), and 18 inches short. Brown hair, blue eyes. She had great APGARs and cry after birth. The hospital did delayed cord clamping, had Sadie lay on my chest with skin to skin contact, and let us relax for an hour before weighing her and doing any procedures. It was totally surreal because of how fast things went. From start to finish, my induction lasted a little less than seven hours! I went into work that morning and ended up with a baby 12 hours later. I kept saying to Graham, "Is this for real? Is she really here? Are we dreaming?". Anyways, my recovery was fairly smooth and wayyy better than the first time around, except my blood pressure. It was high enough to stay on mag sulfate for another 24 hours post delivery, and was high enough to leave the hospital on a blood pressure medication. Super fun. Even with my complications, this was a way easier delivery and recovery!

Anyways, I'll post about life some other time when I have a moment. I'm trying to enjoy every moment and age of Sadie's life because she is our last baby! Here are some photos to enjoy. Luckily, I was wearing makeup this time, so I was ok with taking pictures. (When Carter was born, I didn't allow photos of myself until the next morning after I'd showered and put makeup on.)

Slimy snuggles

Skin to skin

Finally a big brother!

The realest photo of them all--me on the phone answering a million texts and notifications.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Pregnancy Life

Well ladies and gentlemen,

I have not completely abandoned my blog here. I thought about it, sure, but I kind of want to keep this thing going 10+ years (just 6-7 more months to go until I hit my 10-year anniversary!). I also like to occasionally publicly journal my life, activities, and feelings, just to get them out there and make me feel better. I don't really keep a journal anymore..

Anyways, I just wanted to kind of get some things out that I've been thinking a lot about lately. Obviously, I've been pregnant for the past seven months... and it hasn't been easy. It's weird. We planned to try for our second child when Graham got back from Virginia, and BOOM, we were pregnant within the month. Almost too easy, right? I wasn't as crazy about taking home pregnancy tests as I was the first time around (I only took three tests this time, as opposed to like seven or more the first time), but it was like suspiciously easy. I'm not used to things going like I planned.

Then, Graham went through training for his job. To put it plainly, he works for the government and military, and had to do lots of on-site training. He had to work day shift, swing shift, and graveyard, for various weeks at a time. This sucked as I had planned on commuting with him daily. I'd drop him off, drop Carter off, and go to work, and then repeat on the way home. Plus, it meant I was alone in the mornings/evenings/nights, depending on the shift he was working. Then, he passed his qualification exam for work with flying colors (yay!) in November.. and he started working overtime immediately (10-12 hour days, 5-7 days per week). So again, back to doing things myself while pregnant.

In December, Graham signed up for the opportunity to work in San Diego in January. So, off he went for originally a four-week trip, which turned into almost six weeks of 12 hour nights, 6-7 nights per week. I think he had one or two days off during the six weeks?? While the money was a big blessing, again, I had to be on my own. Luckily we were able to schedule our anatomy scan the day before he left so Graham could be there when we found out we were having a girl--oh yeah, we're having a baby girl! January was rough because I was not prepared at all. I had no freezer meals, so Carter and I dined out a lot more than normal. Carter: "You mean we're going out to eat on a Wednesday??"

Not to mention in December, we went through a rough patch because Graham got off schedule due to his crazy work hours, and stopped taking his anxiety pills for several days, leading to a panic attack, irrational behavior, and withdrawal from meds. So scary and heartbreaking. It made me a little paranoid and crazy for a while after things got back on track. This happening during pregnancy only made things worse because of my hormones. I mean seriously, I'm not moody.. I'm just a little LOT more anxious while pregnant. Hearing what other pregnant women have gone through, though, has helped me a lot to know I'm not the only one. I've cried because I thought I was going to have go on meds. One good thing that has happened through all this time is that Graham and I have paid off all of our consumer debt in January (except for our cars--oh yeah, my XTerra died in February and we had to buy a new car AFTER putting $1100 of repairs into the XTerra--UGGHGHHGHGH).

On to February.. Graham went back to 12 hour days.. then was notified that starting at the end of the month, he'd be on graveyard shift for 120 days.. basically, until the baby is born. So, 9 PM to 5:30 AM wouldn't have been so bad, as we'd see him in the morning before work, see him for dinner and bedtime.. But now, he's one of the most senior employees in his shift, and he'll be working 12-hour nights (5:30 PM to 6 AM), 6-7 days a week for the next six weeks until baby arrives (due date May 30th). We see him for about 45 minutes per day. It sucks so much. Carter is a total daddy's boy, so he's super clingy with Graham whenever he sees him. Luckily, Graham is a great father and husband, so he helps around the house and has put together the nursery when Carter and I have been out of the house.

Oh, and Carter and I got rear-ended on the last day of March! Our car has been in the shop for over two weeks now, we had to get a new carseat, and I've been seeing a chiropractor that specializes in pregnancy adjustments. Again, luckily, we weren't seriously hurt, but it's been a massive inconvenience and source of stress. Then, this last week, I had a massive headache, and my blood pressure went up significantly. I'm not a hypochondriac, and I hate getting checked out when there's nothing wrong with me, but my doctor's office told me to go into Labor & Delivery to be checked out. So, I left work early, went into L&D, woke Graham up after only two hours of sleep, and got hooked up to blood pressure monitors to rule out pre-eclampsia. NOPE--nothing wrong. No protein in my urine, and my blood pressure wasn't even mildly elevated while lying down. So, the doctor there prescribed a couple days of rest from work.. And here I am today--with normal blood pressure but still feeling like crap. Pregnancy insomnia is the WORST.

So yeah, this is a total whiny post. Yes, there are unemployed people out there, or people who are salaried and don't get paid for overtime, so I shouldn't complain.. except I'm pregnant. And basically, I've been going through it alone. Props to single moms and women out there. I'm not cut out for this. There is light at the end of the tunnel--maternity leave. It's not a vacation, but hey.. I'll take it. 12 weeks of it. Ah yeah.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


I just realized it's almost been four months since I've last blogged. I have plenty of excuses. I also know that not many actually keep on reading this blog.. but I pretend people do. Anyways, let me elaborate what we've been up to lately and why I've been too busy to blog.

--I alluded to this a couple of times, but Graham started a new job/career in January that required six months of training in Virginia. We knew this from the get-go (they mentioned it in the initial interview), so we were prepared.. but we weren't prepared for him to leave almost immediately. We moved into our house at the end of January and he left at the end of February. We've been apart many times during our marriage, but never for six months straight. Anyways, I had to be somewhat discreet about it because he works for the Department of Defense and they're particular about security. That's all I will say about it. He got back five days late on August 23rd, thank goodness. There's a good chance he will have to travel more for his job, but it will depend on which department he ends up working in. We hope he gets sent to Hawaii or San Diego next summer! We did visit Graham for two weeks in Virginia, where we made a trip to Philadelphia and Washington DC. We also went to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. We don't have any future plans to return to those areas, except for NC. Those beaches were amazing--and Graham went like every weekend when we weren't there. He came home with kind of an amazing tan. But yeah, we did not like Southern Virginia, especially the area where Graham lived. Not a fan of the humidity or the culture.

--We have done some work on the house. We painted most of the rooms in our house, which took wayyyy longer and more money than we thought. (Turned out that Graham was buying premium paint at Home Depot.) We picked a green color we weren't totally sold on, and still, we're not in love with it. But, we didn't hate it enough to paint over it. I asked Graham to do another stenciled wall for our downstairs hallway and photo gallery wall. We bought a big couch like grown-ups. Graham did some landscaping in the backyard to get rid of a trash pile the previous owners left. Pictures of our projects are on my Instagram account.

--We had our housewarming party in September, a few weeks after Graham got back. We had to get all of our painting around the house done and get our house clean. We kind of felt like we were scrambling to get everything done. It was nice to see some friends and make good food. However, Graham cooked ALL of the hot dogs at the beginning, without regard to how many people were there. Needless to say, we were eating hot dogs for a week straight, meeting my hot dog quota for the next few years. Gross.

--We celebrated Carter's fifth birthday (can you even believe it??) in Disneyland with my parents, brother Mike, and my sister practically on Carter's birthday. We were there for Mickey's Halloween party, which wasn't really that cool for kids, honestly. However, the decorations and treats were super cute and delicious. It was so much fun to see Carter's reaction and his face to everything. He went on all of the "big kid" rides that he was tall enough for, like Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain, and Tower of Terror. He did really well on the rides, but he didn't ask for repeat rides.. Haha. I think his favorite ride was the new Cars ride (Radiator Springs Racers), but he went on the carousels a couple of time. He's intent on returning to California Adventure to ride the "big kid" roller coaster when he's older.

--I'm taking an exam next month to become a Certified Diabetes Educator. I already have a certification as a Certified Nutrition Support Clinician, but that certification requires me to take an exam every five years. With the CDE credential, you can renew your certification every five years by just keeping up in Continuing Education credits. Score! Plus, the CDE credential makes $1.50 more an hour, so if I'm doing the work already, might as well get paid more to do the same work. I'm taking the exam the week of Christmas, which is one of the dumbest things I've ever done. I'm feeling pretty ready for this test, so hopefully it doesn't blow me out of the water. Ask me any question about diabetes medications. I'll know it. I've been studying pretty hard for the past three months, which has been taking a lot of my time and energy.

--Oh, and I'm lazy. Oh yeah, and pregnant.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Intermittent Fasting and Me

So, as many of you long-time followers know, I have been on a weight loss and fitness journey for almost three and a half years. I had lost 25 pounds overall, but last summer, I noticed that I had put some weight back on. Finally, I weighed myself a few weeks ago and I had definitely put 10 pounds back on.. Still 12 pounds lower than at my highest, but 15 pounds higher than my lowest. I've remained totally active during this time. I work out hard 6 days a week. I eat reasonably enough (I mean, I'm a freaking Dietitian so I know what I'm doing). But, the pounds just creeped back on.

Obviously, since I've continued to work out, my problem was what I was eating. So, I decided I wanted to do something with my diet to help me lose the weight I'd previously lost. Graham has been gone since February, and he comes back in less than 3 weeks. I wanted to look better before he got back so I was considering a diet program. I was considering Nutrisystem or something else ridiculous, but I didn't want to pay for it. Plus, not being able to eat my own food would really piss me off. I was stuck in a rut and wasn't sure how I could change without going crazy. There's no way that I can follow a calorie-restricted diet long-term (or even short-term) without feeling totally restricted and starved.

In grad school during my Dietetic Internship, I had to answer questions posed to the Oregon Dairy Council as one of my projects. One person asked the question if a person must eat throughout the day to lose weight. I did a lot of research on this subject and the results were inconclusive. Many studies showed that the opposite was true--that intermittent fasting has been shown to be beneficial to lipid levels and weight status. This absolutely blew my mind at the time. Anyways, I completed that project in 2006, answered that question with a vague answer, and never really thought about it again. I mean, I do hear time and time again from people how eating throughout the day "fuels your metabolism", which is factually true, but is it necessary?

So, I'd been hearing more and more recently about "intermittent fasting" as a way of eating to promote loss of body fat, improve health, and to lose weight. My interest was piqued, but I wasn't really considering it because I've fasted before for religious reasons, and it is pretty difficult to not eat for a day. However, I somehow received a random Shape magazine in the mail, and there was an article about intermittent fasting and the different types. By reading this, I got super excited and decided to try it out because the intermittent  fasting doesn't mean you can't eat or drink for a full day, like we do in the LDS (Mormon) church. You just restrict your calories to 500 calories (600 for men) for a day, and you can have unlimited calorie-free beverages.

Excited about this prospect, I posted about it on Facebook and asked if anyone had experience with this way of eating. Surprisingly, I received a fair amount of negative feedback and encouragement to try other extreme methods of dieting, I had people suggest Whole30, which is so not my thing. I do believe in reducing the amount of processed foods that you eat, but I can't do Whole30. For one, I don't think eating that much animal protein is good for you, I don't believe eating a high animal protein diet is good for the environment, nor do I like eating large chunks of meat. Plus, it means lots of scratch-cooking, which I like, but I don't like cooking while Graham is gone, and I get free food at work. So, NO to Whole30. Then, I had someone suggest a diet plan group with them. Um, no, I can make my own diet plan. Like literally. I have a master's degree in Nutrition. I can plan meals just fine. Then, someone told me I was focusing too much on being thin and to eat reasonably. Yeah, I do eat reasonably, but being fit and not fat is kind of part of my job, whether I like it or not. People just won't listen to a fat Dietitian..

Anyways, a high school friend of mine e-mailed me and invited me to Intermittent Fasting group on Facebook that focuses on the 5:2 plan. This means that I limit my calories to 500 two days of the week, and then eat reasonably (~2000 calories for women, 2200-2400 for men) for the other five days (this equals about 1571 calories per day over a week). This plan is based on a book and documentary produced by Michael Mosley. The research behind it is very fascinating, with benefits seen in animals better than overall calorie restriction. I'm not going to go over all the info. You can look up that stuff yourself!

I jumped on the bandwagon and started the next day. I was prepared with low-glycemic foods to meet my 500 calories, such as roasted almonds, blueberries, mozzarella cheese stick, and chicken sausage with vegetables. The first day wasn't THAT bad. I first ate around 11 AM with some almonds, lunch of blueberries around 1 PM, then a cheese stick around 2 PM. Dinner of chicken sausage and broccoli around 6 PM. I kept a no-calorie beverage at my side all day (aka True Lemon lemonade, Diet Dr Pepper, and lots and lots of water). The absolute worst part: going to bed hungry.. something I don't think I've ever done. It's gotten better with each successive fast (I've "fasted" six days now--currently fasting for my seventh time). I've been able to go without food for longer periods of time, and I've been able to sleep better feeling hungry.

I've actually been able to learn a lot from this experience. I've learned what my actual hunger signals are, or whether I'm just bored and want to eat to fill my time. I feel more in control of what and when I eat. But, I have to watch my hanger a little bit on those days. I have to take a deep breath and remind myself to take a step back from the situation (commuting+fasting=road rage). One thing is that I did feel a little on-edge, even on my days of normal eating. I yelled at Carter for the first time on my non-fasting day, which made me feel horrible! Another positive--I only feel restricted on my 2-3 days of fasting, which is way better than feeling restricted 7 days a week. Plus, I have lost 4-5 pounds in just 3 weeks of fasting.  This way of eating isn't for everyone. It's hard. I'm not lying. It's not for those that are weak-willed or looking for something easy. A co-worker of mine tried it and ended up bingeing when she got home that night. For me, that's not an issue, because if I've made it past 5 PM, there's no way in hell that I'm not going to make it the full day or make that day of fasting null and void.

This is kind of considered to be a "fad diet", but I plan to continue this as long as I can!