Wednesday, April 27, 2011

busting a myth

Myth: Infertility is Always Hopeless

So let's scroll back 3 1/2 years, shall we? Joey and I had been married for a yearish and were anxious to add a baby to the mix. Things weren't happening as one might think they would. Our main issue was the fact that my cycles were lasting 60+ days. There was no predictability to anything and it sort of felt like we were driving on foreign roads with no map.

I'll spare you the boring details that culminated nearly a year later with a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). This is a fairly common condition, affecting as many as 1 in 15 women, and presents itself in different ways. My main symptom was that I was completely anovulatory. Meaning: without help, the likelihood of us having a babe to dote on was practically nonexistent.

Our help came in the form of metformin. (Which is also the same medication Joey was later put on for his diabetes... I was well versed in its side effects by then - the humor was not lost on us. :) The met and I became besties. It evened my hormones out and for the first time in maybe 10 years (since all that girl business began), I felt really... normal, and balanced. And lo and behold, this wunderdrug also made me ovulate.

We were very, very lucky. We found out B was on the way just 2 months after starting the metformin.

If infertility is a spectrum, we're so far on the "easy to manage" side that we're about to fall off the spectrum entirely. However, without the met, I truly believe there would be no B, and no Baby J. I think it would have taken many more medical interventions to get to our kiddos.

Three and a half years ago when things weren't going so well on the baby front, I found a little community of blogs of women dealing with infertility. Many of them are linked over on the left on our blogroll because they have become my friends. Most of their stories would take your breath away with how hard they fought, or still are fighting, for their babies. Most of them fall much further along the spectrum than we do, but there's this common thread that infertility weaves, so here we all are.

If you know me, you know I'm forever an optimist. I never reached the point of feeling hopeless about not having kids; I just wanted to push through the roadblock and try the next thing. Once we found our answer, our wait was short. B was so wanted, so very much dreamed about and prayed for, as was his little brother (we had the benefit of knowing what worked by the time we thought about #2). These boys are a beacon of hope and every day remind me what it means to persevere. We could have just let things be when we found out that babies were going to be hard to come by, but it goes without saying that I'm so glad we pushed forward.

I didn't "cure" my PCOS, there is no cure. I will have it forever, it's just a matter of management. It's a complicated disease with lots of little tentacles to be mindful of. I have an increased risk of uterine cancer and heart disease. Interestingly, studies are showing that my dad and mom have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease as well, simply because they have a daughter with PCOS. (Truly the gift that keeps on giving...)

It's National Infertility Awareness Week, and Joey and I wanted to share our story. Infertility sucks, there's no sugar coating it. It affects 1 in 8 couples, most likely some of you reading this now. But it doesn't have to be hopeless, our family is one tiny example of hope realized.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

more than chocolate bunnies

We hope you have a happy, happy Easter. Full of family and friends, chocolate, bunnies, eggs, and duckies.

After all the fun of the day fades though, the three of us will keep smiling from the comfort that comes from the true meaning of Easter.

This is our King, do you know Him?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

how i got here (by Joey!)

Here goes my first blog post….Many people have asked me questions or wanted me to tell stories about how my weight loss journey began so here we are. I will probably share more information then you want to hear but here is how the story goes from my point of view.

About two and a half years ago in October/November I wasn’t feeling very good, it’s not that I was sick but just had one of those feelings that something was not right. I was sleeping all the time… Always tired and always drinking something - water, pop, tea whatever was around. I went to the doctor for my annual physical and they ran some tests and said everything was cool, and that if I lost some weight that would for sure help things out.

So, fast forward a couple months and include a brand new baby. My wife and I were doing the “grown up” thing and getting life insurance. Alison got it with no problem. I, on the other hand, did not! A few weeks after my insurance physical, I got a call from the insurance company saying that I needed to see a doctor ASAP! I was able to see my doctor the following week and when they ran the same tests again they told me I had Type 2 Diabetes.

At the time I remember feeling relieved, because I really thought something more serious was wrong with me. I am in NO way downplaying diabetes, I just thought there was more wrong. The worst part of this for me was that I had a brand new son - to find out this crap was going on was tough! How can I feel positive about bringing new life into this world when I was in no way taking care of the life I had? I was determined not to become a statistic! I had seen first hand what diabetes can do to people when left untreated; there are people in my life that had lost eye sight, even part of a foot! If that is not the wake up call of all wake up calls then I am not sure what else the good Lord could throw at you to understand the importance of this disease!

After trying to work out by myself and randomly going to a gym, I remembered my long-lost friend Steve Auxier and started going to N10sive Boot Camps, the first class was crazy!! We did the normal stuff i.e. jump rope, medicine ball, RUNNING and I just about died. Steve was teaching the first class and it went alright! I thought I could possibly come back again. BUT, the second class was the WORST! I met this nice little girl named Liza and she killed me. Using the word killed is probably the nicest world I could use. Anyway, the next day I was stuck in bed could barely move and cursing boot camp and most importantly LIZA!! That workout was the hardest workout that I had ever experienced in my life and one I will never ever forget. I know when the instructors tell people to come back more and more it will help that is the TRUTH! The more I came the better I felt.

Now, after being member of N-10Sive Boot Camp for over a year, I have lost over 100 pounds and gained crazy amounts of muscle. I am also co-instructor and I even teach with Liza so my cursing Liza has stopped or I should say slowed down. She still puts on tough classes! AND my favorite accomplishment is I just finished my first race! I ran the 4 mile Bee Buzz Run in 49:20. Now, my time is not that cool, but for the VERY first time I ran over one mile not stopping - actually I ran 2 ½ miles without stopping and that was such an accomplishment for me! I couldn’t even run a mile in high school track! My current weight is right around what I weighed in 8th-9th grade! It's crazy to think that was about 1996-1997, 14 years ago!

I know some of you reading are having problems with workouts and exercising - here are a few keys to success for me:

1) BE positive! Even if things do not work out the way you want them too, they will in the long run. The race you are running now is not a sprint it's a marathon and you can’t stop just always keep moving forward and towards your goal!

2) Take one meal, one workout, and one day at time! When you start looking forward in time you lose focus. Think about what’s happening now, and not about what is going to happen in 6 weeks or year.

3) Never forget it took you lifetime to get to the point of where you are at today no matter your where you are in your journey, this process is going to take a ton of hard work and TIME! You will get there just be honest and positive with yourself the entire way.

4) The last one is the most important one. Good Life Fitness is more than just a gym; All the instructors and co-instructors have been in your shoes at almost any step you are at. We are ALWAYS hear to help, listen, or if you just need a crazy workout. All of us want you to ultimate success in your journey and we will do whatever it takes to make sure you succeed!
[editors note: pictures added by Alison... :)]
Joey, pre-diabetes diagnosis, pre-baby, pre-everything:

And more recently, looking svelte and hot! :) (Yeah I know, not an awesome picture, YOU try getting him to take a picture...)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

his race, from my perspective

Joey and I met almost 7 years ago (nearly to the day that Baby J is due - whoa!) and both of us were probably at our most unathletic. I mean we competed in Going Out With Friends and won gold medals. And we competed in Being Lazy on Sundays and Watching TV All Day and took grand champion.

Most of you know that my husband has gone through a wee bit of a MAJOR transofrmation the last two years. After a bit of prodding, I've convinced Joey to start blogging about his journey. If nothing else, so our kids have something to read in 15 years when we're talking to them about setting goals and other parental things. Look for his posts coming soon.

: :

His story really isn't my story at all and I can't tell you all the specifics he did to get here. He will tell you that. All I can tell you is that my heart swells with pride just thinking about how far he's come. {**Sappy alert**} I fell in love with him the way he was (and thankfully he reciprocated)

From 2006ish - end of March 2009, we both lived like heath problems were 30 years away. We randomly joined a gym (and never went). We talked about eating better (rarely did it). All while continuing to earn our gold medals in the Unhealthy Olympics.

We'd probably still be on that plan right now, if Joey wasn't diagnosed with diabetes in 2009, when Bubba was a wee 2 weeks old. We were just trying to be responsible and get our life insurance in place, but Joey's life insurance physical didn't go quite the way we planned. We're thankful that it was caught when it was, but nothing makes you realize your mortality by staring at a life-changing diagnosis at the ripe old age of 28 (him) and 27 (me) with a brand new peanut depending on you for his every whim and need.

Fast forward two years. (I promise, Joey will fill you in on all the details.) Joey ran in his first race on Sunday - 4 miles!

(I forgot the camera and took this with my cell phone. Wife fail.) He ran with one of our besties, Kelli.

Obviously, I'm proud of his accomplishments, that goes without saying. (Although saying it never hurts either.) But this feels like such a big DEAL to me. It's like the simultaneously the culmination of 2 years of hard work as well as the beginning of a whole new era. He's literally beat diabetes. He RUNS now.

And most of all? Even though his health was never a mindful concern of mine until 2 years ago, it feels awesome to know that he's going to be around for a long, long time. Because now we have two peanuts who depend on us for their every whim and need. And that's kind of a big deal.

Friday, April 15, 2011

simplify: declutter

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
When I was giving this blog a makeover a few months ago, I picked the name "Life Simply Lived" for a reason. So far I haven't really gotten to the Simply part because we've been doing a lot of the Life part. But striving for simplicity is something that is on my mind daily, and I want to share my experience with it - I'll post every now and then on this subject. And I hope you will share your ideas as well!

: :

After graduating from college, I found myself acquiring a lot of stuff. Random things that I thought were cute or fun, but that a) didn't really have a purpose b) didn't really have a place and c) didn't really coordinate with all the other crap I was acquiring. When Joey and I combined all of our acquired stuff, it was like a crap potpourri. Looking back, we really should have just had a garage sale and started over. :) I was determined to not lose MY stuff in the process, and he was equally as determined.

Joey and I weren't (and aren't) really packrats necessarily - you wouldn't find us on Hoarders or anything, but we were doing the American thing where we had this deep desire to gain more stuff it seemed. He and I could match our crap one-for-one - for every tote I had of old vases and "antiques", he had a tote of every newspaper (not clipping, but the entire newspaper) of every noteworthy event for the last 15 years.

When we purchased our house four years ago, I decided we'd moved our crap around for the last time. Walking into our storage room felt like I was suffocating. Looking around at our nice entertainment center, chalk-full of tschotskes that I really didn't even like anymore made me cringe - because I knew the whole thing needed a good dusting and I HATE dusting.

Slowly but surely we began unearthing all those totes full of junk. We trashed stuff, had garage sales, gave it to to Goodwill. We sold things on craigslist. And finally, for the first time in four years, the space we call home feels... nice. It feels comfy. It doesn't feel like I'm swamped. And when I walk around the corner and see a shelf full of things I adore, dusting doesn't seem so bad.

Decluttering is a continual process. For everything we bring into our house, something else gets displaced. (Ok, I promise I'm not that much of a planner to keep track of things one-for-one, but I can tell if things need sorted.) If our closets and storage and living rooms/family rooms/dining rooms/kitchens are full of things that are just mediocre to us in terms of usefulness or adoration, we don't have space for the really good stuff to enter - whether that is an actual thing or just a breath of fresh air knowing that's one less thing to stress over.

Life is full of so much more than the stuff we collect, and as much as I might have adored that particular vase I just had to have - it didn't seem so vital when I realized I ultimately can't take it with me.

So! Spring cleaning time is here! What are your favorite tips for a good declutter? Leave your best ideas in the comments, I can't wait to see them!
My 3 best tips:
  • We keep a loose eye on the toys Bubba plays with, and if 2-3 months pass without him playing with something, we collect it to take to a kids consignment shop. There's already one toy that we got him for his birthday (6 weeks ago!) that he hasn't touched much. I'd rather get this (kind of big) toy out of his space, knowing that he'll have something else to take its place very soon.
  • Our house isn't super huge. Alison from 6 years ago would have just bought furniture to fill a space, without really thinking through how the room/item would be used. Recently I've been on a kick to ditch the dumb furniture I bought in favor of more practical pieces I really want. Sometimes this means looking for a piece of furniture for much longer than I'd like, waiting to find the perfect one. But it always pays off in the end when we have something I love AND something that is useful.
  • Once a month or so I'll pick a closet/room and declutter away. It might take an hour or two, but it's manageable if you just do one area at a time. Letting things go month after month found me with a whole house that needed decluttered.
The weekend is here! I hope you have a fabulous one!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

we have a winner!

I so badly wanted to call this post "we have a wiener!" but thought that wasn't the most awesome way to start a post.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

It's ... Tonja! Ahh, I just linked to her blog that needs an update, wink wink, nudge nudge, T.  ;) Tonja, I'll get your bracelet to you asap!

Don't forget to check out Suzy's great bracelets on her etsy shop, That's 2 Darn Cute! She's putting more up every day!
Thanks to everyone who entered! I'll have to do this again sometime soon!

Friday, April 8, 2011

on having boys

[If you haven't already entered the bracelet giveaway, scroll down, or click here! You don't wanna miss it!]

Back before B was much more than a blip on our "2-3 year plan" (under "Have Kids"), if you would have asked me how many kids I wanted, I would have said 3, and I would have been very sure that at least 2 of them would be girls.

I just always assumed I'd have a daughter or two. Maybe because I have a sister who is 5 years younger than me and she's the only kind of "kid" I'd really ever known. Maybe because my mom/sister/aunt and I are so close. I'm not sure the reason, but it was just something that seemed so concrete in my mind.

Walking into our 20 week ultrasound while pregnant with B, I would have bet anyone $100 it was a girl. More than anything we were praying the baby was healthy (he was, thank God!) but I just knew it was a she-baby.

Joey, on the other hand, told me from verrrrry early on that we were only having boys. Apparently I should have listened to him since he's the one who decides these things. Ahem. With B's pregnancy, I was convinced that Joey would try to convince the OB exchange a girl for the son he knew was coming.

Thankfully, he was right, and I was so very wrong.

I felt completely ill-prepared to be a mom to a boy. I mean they have weird plumbing, and they like dirt, and they like frogs and bugs and bleh. I'm obviously Not a girly-girl, but really all I felt like I had to offer was a deep love of football. And that would only get us so far.

You know that old quote "if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans"? HA. I think he got good chuckle belly laugh about my insistence I was having a daughter. Especially since now I really feel like we're hitting our stride this mom-and-son thing. He rocks my world, and nothing makes me happier than to know I'm his best girl for at least the next 35 17 14? years.

We we found out we were pregnant with Baby J, there seemed to be a universal hope that this one was a girl... from everyone except Joey and I. Joey was still adamant that he was only having boys (although he had come around and promised not to send this one back if it was a she), and I just knew in my heart of hearts that we had another boy on the way.

We were over.the.moon on hearing we were right. Sure, there was a brief moment of "hmm, that's funny, I'll (probably) never know what it's like to have a daughter, and I'm ok with that" (2 kids is what's in the cards for us, we think, for now) - but we were so very happy with the thought of two little dudes to keep us on our toes! They could share a room, share clothes, share toys. We have boys figured out now, we can do this x2!

Then we started getting comments like "oh, well that's good, now you can try for a girl".

Umm, come again?

Stuff like that made me sad - like it diminished how awesome another boy (2! boys! - MY 2 boys!) is for us. Baby J isn't a second-rate kiddo. He was wished for, and he's so very loved. And while we had zero say over whether he came out a boy or a girl, we were hoping he was a boy. To us, the "ideal family" isn't one that's comprised of a certain number of sons or a certain number of daughters. Our ideal family is the one we've been blessed with, and the one we're SO VERY EXCITED to make whole in eight short weeks.

I think girls are awesome, I mean hello, I am one. I hope that I have lots of nieces some day, and amazing daughters-in-law, and beautiful granddaughters. I'm so very glad I was wrong on that whole girl thing though.

These boys are a dream come true, a dream I never knew I had.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Super! Awesome! Giveaway!

Do you have a friend who has so much crafty talent that it makes you green with envy? My awesome friend Suzy is like that - she knits, designs the coolest blog layouts, and now she's creating the most gorgeous beaded bracelets - check out her etsy shop, That's 2 Darn Cute!

A few years ago, Suzy sent me a red and white bracelet that I could wear on Husker game days - a pretty awesome gift from a die-hard Virgina Tech fan, and it was just in time for the Hokie-Husker matchup that year. :o) And now she's created a version of "my" bracelet to sell in her shop, check out the "Alison bracelet":

I *love* this bracelet because it's obviously gorgeous and I'm a big fan of red. But more than that, the quality is amazing - it's made of heavy glass beads, with a few acryllic and metal accents, bound together with a metal wire, and finished off with a toggle clasp. You know how I have this 2 year old crazy kid? I will tell you without hesitation that her jewelry is Brecken-proof, he has pulled, twisted, and hung on this bracelet and it still looks fabulous.

So why do I tell you all of this?? Because I get to give away an "Alison Bracelet"! Maybe to you!

To enter, follow these 2 super easy steps:
  1. Check out Suzy's Etsy shop, That's 2 Darn Cute - favorite her shop while you're there, and pick out a bracelet that's your favorite!
  2. Leave a comment on this post with the name of your favorite bracelet. Even if you've never commented before (HI MOM*).
The contest will be open until 11:59 central time on April 11. Then I'll use some random number generator thingie to tell me the winner! Please just one comment per person. Tell your friends too, maybe they'd share if they won? :)

*My mom isn't eligible to win, mainly because she already has her own "Alison bracelet". :o) Sorry, Mom.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Ketchup

Get it? Ketchup? Catch up? I know, I'm hilarious. :)
  • So! B is two. You knew that though. I should post some pictures of his birthday huh? Oh but I only took three pictures of his party. And forgot my camera when we went out and about on his actual birthday. Mom of the year am I!
  • I fished B's two year book, you can see the online version here. I made a one year book for him last year, and hope we can keep this up each year. We'll see how much time I have with two cuties to chase (HA!). I'm not awesome at printing out pictures, and when I do I'm stuck with the "ok now what do I do with them". So rather than keep a zillion albums, I figured I'd just do a book a year for each of them.
  • Speaking of the blonde one, he seems to be having a development burst right now. Every day I swear he has 10 new words, and he speaks so clearly and follows directions very well - as long as he's not having a stubborn moment. He's big into "I do it!" right now, which is, you know, cute and annoying both. :)
  • Potty "training" (it's more like potty testing so far) is going well for how young I feel he still is. He's so very proud of himself when something actually happens (and we are too!).
  • His new "thing" is to have you kiss his index finger when he has an owie - but the owie is most likely not on his index finger. Stub his toe? Kiss his finger. Bite his lip? Kiss hiss finger. Bonk his head? Kiss his finger.
  • Baby J hits 31 weeks tomorrow. (ohemgee how did that happen so fast?!) The growing baby emails I get say he's 16" long and 3.3 lbs (~4 naval oranges). He kicks a zillion times more than B ever did. With B there were times I'd have to start waking him up by poking him or drinking OJ just to make sure all was well - he was so very relaxed in utero. Not this kid. I so much as think about him and he's all "hellooooooo mom, I'm here". And he feels enormous, like he's going to come out B-sized. We shall see! 9ish more weeks! Ack!
  • Remember our bedroom makeover projects I told you about? The headboard and the bedskirt? Well now our room is basically finished with paint and other fun stuff! I need to take some updated pics and will then share the big reveal. I love it and can't wait for you to see!
  • Have I mentioned the part where the boys are going to share a room (seriously, baby brained, can't remember anything)? So that is fun, except if you've ever seen their room, you'll know it's itty bitty. I don't know the size exactly, but I'm guessing 10x12? ish? We got a big boy bed for B, and moved the crib a bit. Their room is exactly big enough to hold a crib, a twin bed, and a (admittedly huge) dresser. We haven't moved him to the big bed yet, that's a project for next weekend. But there will be pics and stories I'm sure.
Hope you have a great weekend! Get out and enjoy some sunshine. (If the sun is shining where you are. If not, enjoy the clouds, rain, or snow, Old Man Winter is on his way out!)