Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nicole: Part 1 - Healthier, Happier, More Confident

Think back to Friday, July 5th, at 5:30 a.m.  You were probably sleeping, right?  It was the morning after Independence Day; a day full of family fun in the hot sun, food and fireworks, and I was awake at 5:30 a.m. in my small Central Washington hometown, and on my way to work up a sweat in "Nicole's Gym". 

I met Nicole in the summer before 5th grade when her family moved into the house two houses down from ours.  We became inseparable and I have so many silly memories with Nicole; we were experts in the art of making fools of ourselves and laughing until we cried and our stomach muscles hurt (and there is video out there to prove it)!  On July 5th, our muscles hurt in another way as we lunged, mountain-climbed, and kettlebelled up a storm.   Nicole is the Momster of the Month because of her hard work and dedication to lose weight and focus on her health. 
 
To date, Nicole has lost a total of 63 pounds and has gone from a size 18 to a size 8.  I've been following her transformation, and am excited to share her story with you!
 
Nicole is the oldest of seven children, and grew up in a very fit family that was always involved in athletics.  She says she always felt like the "odd one" as she has always been the "big girl" and the tallest in her class.  She has always been self conscious and unhappy with her body.  The decision to make lifestyle changes came when she got married, had three kids, and was about to turn 30.  Her parents and all of her brothers and sisters, with whom she was very close, all moved away.  Also, her husband became extremely busy with their trucking business and building their new home.  All of these factors made Nicole very isolated at home with her three kids. 
 
Nicole honestly and boldly shares that she was unhappy when she looked in the mirror, felt uncomfortable in her own skin, felt slow, and unhappy.  She hated getting dressed in the morning, hated shopping for new clothes and knew it was time for a change.
"I knew I had to do it for me.  Not for my family, not for my parents, not for my husband, not even for my kids...FOR ME!  I had never started something new and difficult and stuck it out to completion.  I always quit when it got hard...and I knew this was not going to be easy.  So I set my mind and decided and committed to myself that I was not going to quit or give up!  Another thing I knew would be a challenge was being around other people who weren't on a journey of weight loss.  I needed to be strong and be willing to stand alone and not be persuaded to cheat."
In the past, Nicole had tried just about every diet that exists..."Atkins protein diet, military 3-day, fruit and veggies diet, juicing, fasting, etc..."  She always ended up giving up with these attempts to lose weight, so she knew she had to do something realistic.  "If I deprived myself of any of the food groups, I would be frustrated and want them even more."  So she decided she would count calories, knowing that in order to lose weight, she'd have to burn more calories than she consumed.  She eliminated all sweets and junk food, but she allowed herself one carb a day, and one treat meal and one treat dessert a week.  Nicole says "I literally went through our cupboards and fridge and threw out all the chips, cookies, white bread, sugary cereal, candy, ice cream, pop, etc...I filled it with wheat bread and pasta, every vegetable I could find, every fruit that the grocery store offered and lean meats.  We were only drinking water, water and more water!" 
 
It was actually very difficult for her family to adapt to this change in their wife and mommy.  Nicole would make her youngest child's naptime her workout time, which was normally house-cleaning time.  "Sometimes the laundry didn't get done that day.  Sometimes I wasn't able to make lunch for my husband.  Sometimes my kids had to watch one more tv show to keep them busy."  Some things had to give, in order for Nicole to make this a priority. 
 
As Nicole started losing weight she became interested in lifting weights in order to build muscle and tone because this journey wasn't just about losing fat, and she also knew that she would eventually plateau by doing cardio alone.  That's when she discovered kettlebells
"I bought a 10-pound bell and it came with a DVD.  I would do that DVD three times a week and fell in love with how my body was toning and becoming stronger, and how every single time I could feel the changes and soreness.  I began researching [kettlebells] and bought more DVDs and got on Youtube and did every workout I could find."
There was no kettlebell class offered in her small community, so Nicole started her own class!  Her class began with 6 ladies, and within 14-months she had her largest class of 25 ladies.  Although the class size and group of women varies each month, the ladies in her class all become friends. 
"We support each other, we encourage each other, we push and challenge each other.  It is a chance for women to come together and get healthier, happier, more confident, and stronger.  It's a small chunk of time in our day where we can pour back into ourselves and do something for US!  The class has evolved into a sort of bootcamp.  We do a lot of weights and strength training and kettlebell."
If you live in the Othello area and are interested in checking out Nicole's class, here is what you need to know:
- Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
- 5:45am - 6:45 am
- at Dance Time Studio on 1st Street
- $28 a month. 
- Nicole would love to have you!!
 
 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Daily Devotions


Let's face it.  The glamorous life of a mother is tiring, stressful, and anxiety-inducing (when it's not a rewarding, joyful BLAST!).  Whether you are a follower of Christ, or not, I think every mom needs to find a way to replenish her tank.  I find strength, stamina and joy from my Heavenly Father at times I feel like I am completely running on empty.  Lately, I have been enjoying a daily devotional called Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence.  For a couple years now, I've also been drawing  refreshment from  Proverbs 31 Ministries
 

 
Jesus Calling offers very short, quickly-read daily devotions linked to scripture.  Proverbs 31 Ministries is devoted to women, and I have found it convenient to bookmark on my phone.  This way, I can easily pull it up on my phone no matter when or where I could use some encouragement. Usually, I read this on my lunch break at work. The photo above was taken a few weeks ago, and they've since changed their website format...in case you wonder why it looks different.  I find that no matter my current circumstance, there is always relevance to my life with both of these devotions. 

Momma, take time to nourish yourself and your state of mind, any way you can.  As Liz, the Momster of the Month says, "Your own water jar has to be filled before you can share your water with others."
 
And that reminds me of one of my favorite worship songs...
 
Life everlasting,
Strength for today.
Taste the living water,
And never thirst again.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Liz's Typical Tuesday

Throughout July, we have learned a lot about Liz, the Momster of the Month, and gained some valuable mommy wisdom.  We ALL have wisdom to share, and I thank Liz for sharing her heart and insights on being a busy wife, mother of five, and business owner.  As a way to be a "fly on the wall" in another mom's house and gain an interesting perspective, I ask all of my MOMs "what does your typical Tuesday look like?" 
 
Here's Liz's Typical Tuesday during the school year:
8:00-8:30 - By the time I drag myself out of bed, the big kids have gotten themselves breakfast, dressed for school and have made their lunches.  I wake up just in time to make sure this is all done, pray with the family and kiss them goodbye.
 
9:05 - I get myself ready for the day and get Faith on the bus.  I now have 3.5 hours with just my 2 little boys at home!  Brent enjoys morning cartoons (I have absolutely no guilt letting my 4-yr-old watch tv while I get things done, by the way).  Jayson follows me around while I get laundry started, do the dishes and tidy up the house.  I also use this time to ship packages [for www.flybelly.com].  Technology is amazing and I can print labels from home, sitting right next to my little guys.  My husband then picks them up and takes them to the post office, or I will catch the mail lady when she comes and hand them off to her. 
 
12:30 - By the time I'm done with those things, it's time to start lunch.  Faith comes home and everyone eats.
 
1:00 - Right after lunch, all 3 of the little ones go down for a nap (HALLELUAH!).  This leaves me a couple hours ALL TO MYSELF!  The house is quiet.  A few times a week, I will also take a nap.  Usually, I spend this time working on Fly Belly or eBay, answering emails, checking Facebook and watching "Let's Make a Deal".
 
4:00 - The little ones get up from their naps, have a snack, and play.
 
5:00 - Tuesdays are piano lessons for the big girls, so they don't get home until nearly 5:00. I start getting dinner ready and we eat around 5:30. 
 
6:00 Adam typically gets home about now.  He spends time playing with the kids.  We start getting ready for bed around 6:45 - pajamas, teeth brushed.  We sit down nearly every night and read scriptures and pray together as a family. 
 
7:00 - Into bed! My New Years resolution this year was to be a better tucker-inner. Before, bedtime was not fun.  I was exhausted...and would yell...a lot..."JUST GET INTO BED AND GO TO SLEEP!!"  So, I have made it a priority to take time and tuck my kids into bed, sing a song, give a special kiss, read a book.  Some nights I revert back to my old ways, but some nights I am a rock star mom and do a great job tucking in!
 
After the kids are in bed, I typically will run errands...then sit at the computer and work some more while Adam does his online schooling.  I like to veg and watch tv too, it's my time to unwind.  
 
11:15 - I am a night owl, and like to stay up late. My nightly routine involves a hot shower, scripture reading, reading a book purely for enjoyment, praying, then to sleep by midnight!
 
*     *     *
 
Thank you Liz, our rock star Momster of the Month! 
We have enjoyed your company on Momster Mash and thank you for sharing. 
 
 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Fly Belly Giveaway WINNER!

Thank you to everyone who entered the Fly Belly Maternity Wear giveaway. 
A winner has been selected at random by Rafflecopter.com, and the winner is...
 
"Jordon and Terra"
 
Congratulations!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Liz - Part 3: Embrace the Crazy!

Click these links if you'd like to catch up on the July's Momster of the Month, Liz:

As you know by now, Liz is one busy momma! Keep reading, Liz has some excellent advice for anyone who may be feeling overwhelmed!  Between caring for five adorable kiddos, and operating her successful online business, I asked Liz how she manages to get anything else done. She says we all make time for the things at are important to us, and she has three things that are top priority in her life:
Her religion
Her family
Her business 
Notice how she didn't say "a clean house" or "my yard".  Liz says "as a result, my yard is overgrown with weeds, and my floors are often covered in crumbs and toys everywhere".  She makes a great point, in that "if you spend time doing one thing, you are going to sacrifice something else.  That's just how life is.  Only you can make the decision as to what is most important in your life.  I choose to spend time taking care of my family, working on my website, and serving and participating in church activities.  I usually feels like there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done, but I do my best, and that's all I can do."
Liz and her husband really try to teach their children to be independent.  Their older kids are responsible for getting their own breakfast, making their own school lunches, getting themselves ready for school, and helping out the little kids whenever needed. She has the big kids help with laundry and dishes, and the little kids help folding towels, wiping the table, and putting silverware away. If she had to do it all, there is "NO WAY" she would be able to get anything done around the house! "It's all about teamwork."
Routine is also very important in their household.  "Summers are really REALLY hard...the only thing that sticks is naptime.  All my friends know that from 1-4 pm, you DO NOT ring our doorbell and you do not call!  This definitely helps me keep my sanity!"
I love the honest advice Liz received from her sister Jenny:
"She is the mother of 6 and a woman I really look up to and admire.  One thing she said that has really stuck with me...is 'embrace the crazy'.  Life is crazy, no matter how many kids you have.  Having one child is crazy!  We all look to other moms and think 'wow, they are wonder woman.  How do they do it all?'  Little do you know that they are looking at YOU wondering the exact same thing!  You are better than you realize and are doing a great job.  Just embrace the crazy and let life take you where it will!"
Liz was complaining to a friend who was visiting about how dirty her house was, and received another piece of wisdom. 
"THIS can wait, your children can't!  We will only have our little ones for a short period of time and it's easy to get caught up worrying about how dirty your house is....there will be a time when you can spend hours cleaning your house, but there won't be another time when you will have your little ones around you."
I adore that advice!  It's so easy to get overwhelmed with the goal of living up to the routine I had pre-child, and how difficult it is to maintain now. Liz agrees, "I TRY to tell myself this...Most days I'm sure I've failed at being a parent, but as I look back...there are small moments of time where I was an incredible mom!  I try to remember that."
I asked Liz what helps her keep her joy and sanity intact, and what encouraging words she has for anyone feeling overwhelmed or burned out:
Take time doing something you love - "Just because you are a mom, doesn't mean you are JUST a mom.  I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend, a musician, a business woman.  At least one night a week, I will head out the thrift store and just browse.  It is relaxing to me...Sometimes I find a treasure, but most often I leave empty handed, but rejuvenated."  Liz also tries to get a massage each month, and recently played in the orchestra in a church production of the play Annie.
It is not selfish to do something for yourself - "You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.  Your own water jar has to be filled in order for you to share your water with others."
Take time off - "Whether you are religious or not...have one day a week where you make it different from the other days.  We spend Sundays as a family.  We attend church, play games together, work together to make meals, and go for walks.  I don't work on my website or Ebay, we don't go shopping or to restaurants, we don't run errands and do the bare minimum around the house.  I think this is SO important!"
I hope Liz was able to provide some encouragement to any overwhelmed and uncertain Momster reading this!  Just remember...EMBRACE THE CRAZY!, you are doing a fabulous job momma :)
*   *   Have you entered the Fly Belly Maternity Wear giveaway yet?!   *   *
Contest ends this Friday, July 19th, so send your prego-self (or a friend with a baby bump) on over and enter to win a free maternity shirt from Liz!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fly Belly Giveaway!

I am excited to announce that Liz, the Momster of the Month for July, is offering a Fly Belly giveaway for my beautiful Momsters!  One lucky winner will receive a maternity shirt of their choosing, valued up to $25, with free shipping.  There are so many fun options under $25 for you to choose from, but here are just a few of my favorites:
Ava top in yellow/pink

Daisy Lace Tank

June Polka Dot Tee in Coral/Red

Caroline Top in Yellow

Not pregnant?  No worries; you can still enter! Maybe you can win a shirt for a friend.  Check out www.flybelly.com to dream about which maternity shirt you'll choose if you win!  Giveaway closes Friday, July 19th at midnight.  See terms and conditions.  Log in below to find out how to enter:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/51e8e61/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Liz - Part 2: Fly Maternity Wear for Trendy Tummies

Read Liz - Part 1: Love and Marriage...and Five Kids if you'd like to catch up.

 
Liz stays busy enough raising five children, but she has also built a successful online business, Fly Belly: Fly Maternity Wear for Trendy Tummies (how cute is that?!).  The decision to do so developed slowly over time, and the process started just before Liz had her first baby.  Her husband was a manager of a company that provided a nice salary, great health insurance, 401k, and fun perks like a trip to Mexico.  However, "the hours were long, he was required to work every Saturday, and the people he dealt with on a day to day basis were not uplifting him."  That's when Liz's husband was offered a job with his Aunt in a "great work environment with co-workers who had the same morals and values as him.  The hours would be shorter and he would have weekends and holidays off."  The only catch was that they would lose their health insurance, 401k, and would take a nearly 50% pay cut.  Liz and her husband prayed about this big decision, and decided it was better for him to be happy, so he gave his notice, they moved to a new town, and welcomed their 2nd child into their lives shortly thereafter. 
 
I admire their dedication to their family's happiness, and the sacrifice and leap of faith they took.  I am also inspired by what Liz decided to do next...
 
This move and new job meant there was now no extra money in their super-tight budget.  With the desire to have a few extra dollars, Liz decided to sell a pair of name-brand jeans her sister gave her, on eBay.  Liz was shocked when someone bought those USED jeans for $26!  Liz says she has "always been a thrift store junkie and had a hard time paying more than $1 for a shirt, so for somebody to spend $26 on a pair of used jeans made me realize that I could make a business out of this!" 
 
So how did she turn this process into a business?
"Every Monday morning, I would pack up my kids and line up at the local thrift store before 9 a.m. (I was usually first in line).  When the doors opened, I would rush in and grab all of the name brand jeans that were 99 cents (every Monday a different colored tag was 99 cents).  I would go home and spend the afternoon listing then on eBay.  The auctions would end on Friday and I would start the process all over again on Monday.  Doing this, I wasn't making a huge profit...maybe $30-40 a month...but to me, this was HUGE and allowed us a little wiggle room in our budget!"
For a while, Liz focused on selling used jeans, but after she had her 2nd baby, she realized she had maternity clothes she could sell and ended up selling then on eBay for WAY more than she could have imagined.  That's when she decided to add the maternity section to her Monday morning thrift store runs. 
"I sold used maternity clothes for a while.  Then, while researching on eBay, I noticed that a lady was selling brand new maternity clothes and was making a TON of money!...So I went to a local store that sold inexpensive maternity clothes.  I bought 6 tops and 2 bottoms and listed them...lo and behold, I made a REALLY BIG profit.  I took that money and went and bought enough to do a few auctions.  They did really well, so I re-invested that money into MORE clothes."
Eight years later, Liz is a "powerseller" on eBay under the username "mostly-maternity" and in August of 2011, she launched her website www.flybelly.com, which has been "extremely successful".  Liz LOVES what she does and genuinely cares about her customers.  She loves to provide trendy, affordable maternity clothes.  I must clarify that Liz does not sell thrift store maternity clothes on her website.  She gets her inventory from several different distributors in order to offer you brand new, and stylish, maternity clothes. 

Pregnant?  Know someone who is?  Hop on over to Fly Belly and check out the seriously cute and affordable maternity clothes.  I purchased a shirt from Liz when I was pregnant and loved it, and I think her inventory is even cuter now.  I can't wait for another baby bump so I can buy up some of her new clothes!

24 weeks prego in my Fly Belly shirt - March 2012
Liz has some advice to anyone who may be thinking about starting their own online business:
 
1.  Start small - "I didn't get to where I am today by...spending $20,000 on inventory.  Going into debt for my business was never a thought.  I have never borrowed a penny for my business." 
2.  Find something you are PASSIONATE about - "...I am passionate about maternity clothes.  I get such a thrill and adrenaline rush when I get a new top in that I think my customers will love!
3.  Invest a lot of WORK and TIME - "Don't expect it to be easy...there were days when I wanted to throw in the towel and ask 'is it even worth it?, but those who endure will find success eventually."
 
'Like' Fly Belly on Facebook: facebook.com/flybelly
Follow Fly Belly on Pinterest:  pinterest.com/flybelly
Contact Liz at liz@flybelly.com
 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

50 First Dates...in a Jar

The hubby and I aim for one date night per month.  We've realized we have been sort of boring with our date nights and most often end up going out for dinner and a movie.  I'm not saying that's a horrible date, it's just not that exciting.

Enter the "date night jar"!  
 
The list I came up with for our date night jar includes date night ideas that can be carried out almost anywhere you live, but my list also includes many activities specific to Seattle and the surrounding areas.  I have provided links to Seattle area specific activities if you live in the area and would like more information on those.
 
Green = outdoor activities
Pink = indoor activities
Orange = restaurants
So, if the weather is nasty, we know not to choose a green stick...you get the idea. 
 
What you need:
Wooden sticks - $1.50 at Fred Meyer (I used the smallest ones they had in the craft aisle)
Markers - if you want to color-code the sticks
Fine-tip sharpie
2 containers (One for the completed date nights)

Kerry Park picnic

Live music at Luther’s Table

Off-roading in Matt’s truck (This one was his idea :)

Watch the sunset

Seattle Art Museum (First Thursday of each month is FREE!)

Arcade

BINGO

Hike


Seattle Pinball Museum $10 admission, over 50 vintage pinball machines set to free play, beer and snacks.

Ice Cream at Molly Moon’s



Burgermaster drive-in and evening at the Kirkland waterfront


Corn Maze (depending on the season, of course)
 
Drive-in movie


Chihuly Glass MuseumSeattle Center

Pedicures (Hubby has never been)



Comedy club

Mini golf

Shooting range (this was actually one of our first dates)

Driving range

Concert/show

Laser tag (again, his idea)

Indoor karting

Kayaking and dinner at Agua Verde

Bowling




Purple Café in Kirkland then swing in the park (our first date was Purple and we used to swing often)

New Orleans Creole Restaurant and walk the shops in Pioneer Square

Quinn’s on Capitol Hill


Matt picks a movie

Amanda picks a movie

 
The Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island

Big Picture in Redmond

iFly indoor skydiving

Northwest Trek – Zip Wild Adventure Course


Progressive meal:  Select different restaurants around town and go to each one.  Order drinks at one, appetizers at another, somewhere new for the main course, and one more for dessert. 

Sounders/Mariners/Seahawks game

Seattle Great Wheel and food truck dinner

Happy dating!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Liz - Part 1: Love and Marriage...and Five Kids.

Please give a warm welcome to Liz, the Momster of the Month for July!  I went to high school with Liz, and although we were not close, we had at least one class together and I remember her kind, friendly nature and warm smile.  Through the magical world of Facebook, I have "reunited" with Liz, and feel like I know her so much better than when we were in high school!  Over the years, I have seen her and her husband welcome babies into their lives, the adoption of their daughter, and the growth of her online business.  Liz is a 31-year-old mother of five (one of which is adopted), and has created a successful online business.  I admire Liz for so many reasons! 

Let's start from the beginning.  First comes love, then comes marriage....

Liz met her husband Adam when she was just 16-years-old and a Junior in high school.  He was from a neighboring town about thirty minutes away from where she lived and she says they didn't like each other "AT ALL", but after he sent her flowers she "was hooked".  They dated for one year before Adam left for Guatemala to serve on a mission for two years.  For those two years, the only communication they had were "snail mail" letters (no email allowed) and a couple of phone calls a year.  Adam returned from his mission in November 2001, while Liz was in her first year of college, and he proposed to her that Christmas.  It was easy for Liz to give Adam her answer, "I knew he was my best friend and the person I wanted to spend forever with, so I said YES!".  Liz was just 19 when they married in April 2002. 

...then comes a baby (or FIVE) in the baby carriage!

As I mentioned above, Liz and Adam have five children, one of which is adopted.  They shared the news with friends and family in 2008 via their blog, Smelly Moose Family. CLICK HERE to read about how they came to the decision to become foster parents, and ultimately adopt their daughter, Faith.  It's an amazing story you won't regret reading!  Liz would like to share that "there is such a HUGE need for foster parents".
"These little kiddos just need love and affection.  A majority of them have been through A LOT of trauma in their short little lives and just need someone that will care and love for them.  You can even become licensed to be a 'respite foster caregiver' which means that you are qualified to take foster children that are already in foster homes, but the parents need a little break for a day, or even a few hours (in order to leave a foster child in another's care, they have to be cleared by the State and/or be foster parents themselves.  This can make finding a babysitter very tricky).  Or, if the foster parents have vacation plans out of state, a respite foster caregiver can take the foster child so the foster parents can go on vacation (foster children are usually not allowed out of the state)."
Adam and Liz at the courthouse on the day they adopted Faith
I am blown away that with three children, and one on the way, Liz and Adam opened their home and their hearts to pour love and affection into the life of a little girl who needed a place to call home. It is understandable that becoming a foster parent, or adopting, is not for everyone.  I think it really takes a special person to welcome a foster child into their lives!  Liz says there are SO many others ways you can help.
"There are several organizations that accept donations for clothing, shoes, pajamas, stuffed animals, blankets, etc.  These organizations help transition the child into the home by providing necessities and little comforts like stuffed animals.  Ask your local DSHS office for places like this."
So, what does a date night look like for Liz and Adam?  Liz says that "date nights with 5 kids can be tricky".  Their goal is for one date night a month, but the reality is that "fancy dates are rare".
"If we do a 'typical date night', we end up spending around $100 between paying the babysitter, going to dinner and doing an activity.  Sometimes it's simply renting a movie, snuggling on the couch and eating popcorn after the kids are asleep.  Adam is going to school full-time at night, so him taking a night off and just sitting watching a movie is great!  If we do go out for the evening we just go out to dinner and then look around the stores and dream shop - even grocery shopping without kids is a luxury.  It's nice to get out together by ourselves!"
I can only imagine!  I know how special it feels when my hubby and I get some alone time away from the house, and we only have one child.  We also love to "dream shop", and dream house shopping is fun too! 

*         *          *

To read about Liz's online business  read Part 2: Fly Maternity Wear for Trendy Tummies