Spring Break Just Got a Whole Lot Better!

New York in the fall has nothing on DC in the spring!

Ah, Spring, that glorious time of year when I want to wear short sleeves, but I can’t find them.  My nose is stuffy, my eyes itch, and yet for some reason I feel wholly and ridiculously happy.  I want to hug the spring this year–every zyrtec requiring moment of it is pulling me out of the dark-ish zone I’ve been inhabiting for too long to admit!

This spring break started out seriously dull.  The kids were having a blast:  playing with their friends all day, no homework, no school.  “Everything is awesome.  Everything is great.”

Meanwhile, I was drowning in babies, diapers, bottles, breast milk pumping, dishes, cooking, laundry mountains, toys everywhere, and worst of all:  cleaning up under the high chair.  grrrrrrrrr-oss!!!  No matter how hard I work all day, I never put a dent in the work load, and I wasn’t taking the time to just have fun with the boys.

Enter Tuesday.  There’s something about knowing that your mom and dad are on their way to your house that just puts you in a better mood.  Phew!!!  Plus, I suddenly stumbled upon a revelation.

I was praying, something like, “Oh God, how will I ever do all of this? I am so tired.”

When suddenly He reminded me of my New Year’s Resolution:  Chill.

Oh yeah!

I’d forgotten about that.  My revelation:  if I keep making lists of 20 things to do each day, and not even including the morning chores and baby feedings on the to-do list, I will never get past ‘overwhelmed.’  I don’t want to live overwhelmed!

Why is it that I have to keep learning these same lessons over and over again?  Isn’t that the definition of a fool?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  the to do list should have the 6 most important things to do that day.  I am going back to that.  My list looked something like this for Wednesday:

1. Get everyone ready for the day. (an accomplishment in itself)

2. Dishes

3. Laundry:  Just do your best.  ; )

4. Feed everyone:  three meals, 2 snacks

5. Target trip

6. De-clutter for 1 hour.

Now this is a list I can handle!!  In addition to giving myself attainable goals, I also set myself up for success by taking my prescribed medication:  iron with vitamin C.  These aren’t intellectual breakthroughs, but when you’re going through a time in life that is just difficult, for one reason or another, clinging back on to these simple truths means a lot.

God has set my feet back on the rock.  This song is in my head!!!

“Jesus, lover of my soul
Jesus, I will never let You go
You’ve taken me from the miry clay
You’ve set my feet upon the rock
And now, I know

I love You, I need You
Though my world may fall
I’ll never let You go
My Saviour, my closest friend
I will worship You until the very end”
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/hillsong/jesus-lover-of-my-soul-lyrics

Actually, I just listened to Hillsong’s version of that song, and I wasn’t so impressed. That’s not really my style. I remember it as sung by about 100 college students, every Wednesday night, at Campus Crusade for Christ, back when I was a college student. It was much prettier, the way we did it!

That song comes from Psalm 40:2.

Life has just been getting better and better for me this week!  My parents arrived late Wednesday night, and today we had such a good time.  Mom, Caleb, JD, and I all headed to Old Town Alexandria.  Mom had never been!  Now I feel like we need to go again so Dad can go too.  We found this little restaurant that I highly recommend for tourists and locals when you want a fairly quick lunch buffet in old town.  VERY kid friendly.  Caleb said, “I gotta tell my brother about this place.”

All you can eat pizza buffet:  Need I say more?

We had a good time in Old Town.  There was a moment where I told my mom, “I wish I’d plugged in my GPS…….but don’t worry!”  I am notorious for getting lost, but believe it or not, we made it home free of incident.

Guess what!!  I even bought myself a DC cherry blossom tourist t-shirt!  : )  I will so be wearing that this week!

We’re so excited to have Grandaddy and Nana here. The boys and I are trying to make this trip as fun as possible in hopes that we can convince them to stay extra long.

Oh!  Good news/bad news: We were sitting in the living room today when suddenly we realized JD was in the hallway, all the way around the corner. Time to hang the gates.

 

cherryblossoms13

Alan and me, at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, last year.  I was 7 months pregnant.

cherryblossomspreggo

Ha!  I saw a pregnant woman earlier today, and all I could think was, “Oh, man, so thankful this year it isn’t me!”  Been there, done that, stretched out a few t-shirts!

May you all have a WONDERFUL WEEKEND.  I hope you make all of your goals, smile all the live long day, and have no need for a jacket!!

How I Lose the Pregnancy Weight

 

BEFORE

BEFORE

What I look like, every single time, right after giving birth:  This was a few days after I had Caleb. I weighed about 170 pounds in this photo.

And this is what I normally look like:

cryingJDArlington

That’s a 35 pound difference.  (After all, a few pounds actually DO belong to the baby.)

  This is not my favorite topic:  weight loss.  I don’t like discussing it because it often makes us feel bad. Maybe it’s just me, but when I’m going through a heavy phase, hearing skinny people talking about their weight really gets on my nerves.  It can be a sensitive issue, and I like to make people happy, not sad, so I’m going to address this just this one time.  After this, you’ll read no more weight loss posts from me.

Being the vain person that I am, I do eventually always buckle down and get the baby weight OFF.  That may be easy and happen naturally for some of you.  If you gain 20 pounds, then what work do you have to do?  This post is for the women like me:  the ones that gain 40+ pounds no matter how hard we try to eat right and exercise.

I always feel like people come and visit me right after I’ve given birth, expecting to see me looking thin already.  Instead, they meet a chubbier version of April, that still looks pregnant, but the fact is that WEIGHT LOSS TAKES MONTHS, NOT DAYS.

When I’m pregnant, my body handles food and exercise completely differently.  It clings on to every bite I eat.  I have gained 55 pounds every single time, save this last time.  This time I gained 40ish.

By the time the baby is 9 months old, I almost always have it whittled off.  I can’t tell you how to get stick-skinny because I’m not stick-skinny, but I can definitely tell you how I lost 40-55 pounds.  ; )

Oh!  And you have to give the tummy circumference extra time.  After giving birth more than once, it may take you up to two years to get your middle shrunk back all the way, and you may always have a little extra skin.

APRIL’S RULES FOR WEIGHT LOSS:

1.  Breastfeeding.  If you can, at least give it a try.  It takes a while to see results, but eventually you should.  I have friends that didn’t have to do anything more than breastfeed.  I have other friends that breastfeeding did not help at all with the weight loss.  It definitely helps me lose the weight faster because it burns so many calories.

2.  DO NOT SIGN UP FOR A DIET PLAN.  Boooooooooo diets!!!  Don’t do it.  Crash diets do not work, and any weight you lose from the one month you’re able to stick to your crazy diet plan will just come back when you wake up and realize that that Nutrisystem food tastes disgusting.  (It does.  I’ve tasted it.)

3.  DO make permanent changes in what you buy at the grocery store, and try to get your husband on board.  (That’s the tricky part.)  One year after having Daniel, I realized that I had actually gained a bunch of weight while my husband was in Afghanistan for 6 months.  This was not pregnancy weight.  This was sedentary lifestyle weight.  I knew I had to get it back in gear.  First I read this book:

  She will drill into your head great fundamentals of eating right.  For me, it was a great reminder that I do not have to have dessert every day.

Then I made these dietary changes:

a. I cut out soda.  (except for a treat once every couple of weeks)

b. I stopped buying any junk food at all.  Not even Oreos.  Since that time, Alan has added back in buying ice cream (ugh).  I guess I need to get back on his case.  If it’s not in your kitchen, you can’t eat it.  It’s really that simple.

c.  I replaced the junk food with these snacks:

-greek yogurt

-yogurt covered raisins

-popcorn  (Read the label.  It’s not bad.)

-almonds

-100 calorie granola bars

-blackberries

-cheese

-cheese and crackers

-cereal

Pssssst!  You know all those articles that tell you not to drink juice, etc.  Well, okay, fine, it’s worse than water, but it has HALF the sugar of soda.  Also, coffee is extremely beneficial to your health, and it fills you up too!

4.  Oatmeal makes a great meal, any day, any time.  That wasn’t really a change, as I’ve always eaten oatmeal, but I just wanted to put that out there. ; )  It doesn’t have to be complicated and time consuming to be healthy.  These health magazines make it way too hard with all the complicated recipes with ingredients you’ve never heard of.  Instant oatmeal is just fine.

5.  EXERCISE.  Every day!!!!   I’m not talking P90X or Insanity everyday.  That is not my style.  Who has time for that?  Not a mom of lots of little ones!  You work in exercise wherever you can.  Buy DVDs that are 30 minute programs, or sometimes I just cut the long ones off at 30 minutes.    Just make sure that at least once a week you’re doing some kind of strength training.  I also do stretching at least once/week to keep back pain away.  Ever since my yoga teacher moved, I am a wreck.

WALKING IS GREAT EXERCISE!  Plus, it can give you alone time.  Whenever possible, as many days a week as Alan gets home before dark, I leave all the kids with Alan and hit the sidewalk for a 2 mile walk. Sanity time!  Remember!!  Jesus always went off alone to pray!  We should too!

In addition to that exercise, I walk my children home from school.  That adds in another mile, and when you add in pushing a double stroller, it is a significant work out.

If you really want to torch calories fast, RUN, or attend a strength training class.

My most successful weight loss was not related to pregnancy at all.  It was after that Afghanistan tour, when Daniel, my 3rd son, was a toddler.  I actually got to the point of no chubby middle section because I worked out really, really hard every single day.  I was doing a whole lot of running, and a little bit of weight lifting.

I will have to get my anemia under control before I can work out like that again!  I’m too tired to even think about all that stuff.  Meanwhile, I’ve still lost 45 pounds just breastfeeding, walking, doing yoga, and not buying cookies or soda!

6. DO NOT count calories.  Just eat somewhat healthy, and when you’re starting to feel full, you know, QUIT EATING.

7.  Sleep! Sometimes you might just be getting a late snack to stay awake.  Instead, assert your will power, and go to bed.

8.  EAT EVERY THREE HOURS, and duh, don’t skip breakfast.  Eating every three hours keeps you from getting that starving feeling that makes you pig out.  It also boosts your metabolism. Snacks should be small but nutritionally helpful.

9.  Oh yeah!  If you have a c-section OR even tearing from a natural birth, do NOT exercise until 6 weeks out.  Trust me.  I thought I could be all tough and carry around two babies at once, two weeks after giving birth, and there were busted stitches as a result.  Youch. You don’t want that. ALWAYS wait six weeks.

I wish I had more before/after pics to share, but I’m so vain that I always delete my ‘fat’ pictures…. However, I do not delete pregnancy photos, so here are a few of those:

baby1weight

baby2weight

baby3weight

See, I’m not one of those thin pregnant women….

As you can see, I never really posed for any ‘before’ or ‘after’ pictures, because the weight loss was always so gradual.  That’s the kind of change that lasts.  It doesn’t have to be complicated to live a healthy lifestyle.  Just get moving, and skip the non-nutritive foods at the grocery store!

 

 

The Fifth Family Day at Home

 family drawing by Caleb
  Today is the fifth day straight that the kids have been out of school and the first day that Daddy has gone back to work.  (We had the weekend + MLK Jr. Day + 2 snow days).  I think we’re all starting to feel a little restless.
  Okay, a lot restless.
  I got so tired of the boys carrying on at lunch (during the baby’s nap) that I took everyone’s bowl away and banished them all to the basement…..where I can now here a sibling…debate… in progress……
  
  …..and now they have regressed into name calling…..and here they come……
…..I seem to have that situation diffused, so where was I?  Oh yes, winter is definitely here.  This is what Caleb and Dan ended up doing yesterday, around supper-time:
I guess staying indoors all day is just exhausting.
No, really, those two were in need of some extra sleep.  I thought this was funny.
  Remember when I wrote about how hectic my life is and how I can barely get supper made, the laundry done, and forget anything extra?  Well, if you can’t relate, that just means you’ve never been outnumbered by small children in your household.  I think this is all pretty normal.
  I’m happy to report that things ARE actually much better now.  I try not to plan too many activities for any one week.  Plus, babies get easier to me as they get older.  Look at how happy our little 7-month-old is:

  Now while I did say things are better, don’t take that to mean things are ‘sane.’  
As we speak:
1.   I am still behind on the laundry (I just don’t care as much.  I bought the kids more underwear and pants).    
2.  JD is waking up from a nap.  It’s a wonder he sleeps at all with so many brothers home all day.
3.  Caleb just came downstairs from “thinking about what he did”, apologized to Joshua, and now they are all watching Micky Mouse Clubhouse.
4.  I, thankfully, DO have the chicken thawing for dinner.
5.  I have already made the boys do their daily reading.
6.  I got to sleep…..get this……ALL NIGHT LONG last night.
   Yep.  Not a single person wet their bed, had night terrors, woke up sick, woke up for an extra feeding, or crawled into my bed.  
  Um, wow!
  Progress on “The Great Clean-Out” has slowed, as I’ve had so many mouths to feed here.  
I have moved onto the main floor of the house now though!
-I completely finished the basement.  
-I’ve de-cluttered the bathroom, the china cabinet, and the baker’s rack.  
– I SCRUBBED the basement stair-rail area.  So many little hands running down that wall for three years….you can imagine.  It looks awesome now.
– I’ve done more storage shifting and labeling as I go.  This helps a TON.  I’m a total labeling fanatic now.
  I know that I have a laid-back, happy sort of personality.  I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about stuff, so people assume that I don’t care about organization and such.  
  That could not be further from the truth.  
 When I was a little girl, one of my favorite activities was to rearrange my books, putting them in alphabetical order by category.  hehe  So fun. 
  The chaotic fashion in which my boys keep their Legos and books bothers me a little…..but not enough to worry about it.  
  Gotta keep the main thing the main thing!
  I had to clean out one of my two baskets full of mail and paperwork on the baker’s rack.  I DETEST paperwork.  I found a whole bunch of thank -you notes in there from when I had the baby.  Also, I never wrote down who I  thanked, formally, and who I didn’t.  
  If you get two thank-yous from me or zero, I’m so sorry.  I was very messed up (untreated anemia + four children in the summer) for a few months there.  I’m trying to fix it!!!
…..only I’m out of stamps.
……and I’m not the kind of brave warrior mom that bundles up four kids and goes to the post office in 9 degree weather on snowy roads.  Our street wasn’t even plowed this morning.
…..so don’t look for those notes to get caught up on just yet…
  Okay, now JD is calling me, so I should go up there.  
  I just put a Space Shuttle DVD in for the boys to watch.  Kids’ cartoons get on my nerves.  Caleb and Dan are actually watching it.  Score one for Mommy.  
  One more thank you that I owe here:
  Thank you so much to all of you who have clicked on that Top Mommy Blogs banner and voted for me.  The blog is now up to #87 overall.  That puts me on page 4.  
   87 out of 1,016 blogs.
   I am #20 in my category:  Family Life.  That’s #20 out of 250.  
  The rankings change daily, and each day I’ve moved up a little bit more on the list!!  I’ve wasted a slightly significant amount of time watching it rise…
  Thank you all so much!!!
Quote of the Day:
a couple of months ago…but I forgot to share it:
Nonna was here visiting, and someone mentioned a candy bar for some reason.  Caleb asked, “Huh?  What’s a candy bar!??!”
Later I was going to the store, and Nonna said, “Would you please pick Caleb up a candy bar while you are out?  That is just ridiculous for a child to not even know what a candy bar is.”
hehehe

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