Sunday, June 28

Our Little Fish

Penelope has loved water since I can remember.  I started taking her to a mommy and me swim class when she only one.  She has been my baby Nemo ever since.  This summer I knew it was going to be essential that she learned how to swim.  I was super worried about trying to watch two babies at one time at the pool and not only that, all of my friends seem to have pools.  Lucky for us the Jan Thomas Swim School is conveniently located here in Clovis.  P's teacher had her swimming on her first lesson.  I have only amazing things to say about the swim school.  It is no wonder they have been around for over 50 years.  

I was so sad I had to miss P's first lesson, but Tyson and his mom were able to take her.  They sent me videos the entire lesson.  I was so proud of her from the very first video I saw.  It made me tear up a little.  I thought it was going to be a bit traumatizing for her, but she was so resilient and her teacher showed her so much love.  From there on out, each lesson got better and better.

I loved taking her and watching her kick her tiny legs as fast as she could across the pool.  It was so cute watching her open her eyes under water and look at all of the other kids around her.  She was able to jump off the diving board and even go down the slide.  Being a mama and watching my kids accomplish new things is the best reward out there. 

After each lesson P picked out a popsicle or Airhead and had to get a whale and mermaid stamp.  She was in heaven after each lesson and would cry when it was over.  Every day she begged to see her teacher!  She even woke up from her nap a couple of times yelling, "TEACHER."  I was so sad on the last day knowing she wouldn't see her until next year.  P has such a special place in her heart for her.  
On her third to last lesson they took under water pictures of her.  These have to be some of my favorite pics EVER!
 ^^^ P laughed and pointed every time we walked by this statue. ^^^
 ^^^ On the second to last lesson, they had me get into the pool with her, so that they could teach me the proper techniques to continue her progression.  It was so fun being in the water with her.
 On P's last day she became a Jan Thomas Champion!  She was awarded a blue ribbon and a medal.  You could see her beaming with pride.  Grandma and Grandpa Parker were there, as well as Tyson and her two cousins.  Everyone clapped and cheered for her.  She kept holding up her pointer finger and saying she was number one.  It was too cute!  
It's so fun having a little swimmer on my hands and I couldn't be more proud!
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Friday, June 26

Penelope's First Dance Recital

Sweet P had her very first dance recital on Monday.  You better believe we were all so excited in anticipation for her big debut.  We even flew my mom out here for the performance.  P has been in dance since last November and has begged to go every day since her first class.  It has been so much fun taking her every week and watching her progress.  She is a natural and I can't wait to see where dance takes her.  

Talking with the other mama's and having the camaraderie has been super nice and was much needed.  I got to know a couple of them really well.  We giggled together as we watched our girls twirl, kick, jump and play ring around the rosie.  The song "Let It Go," will forever be embedded into my mind with the image of my little P twirling around the dance room, waving her scarves around, trying to sing at the top of her lungs.  I got emotional  each time I watched her live in the moment.  I am learning a lot from this one.
 When her dance teacher told us that she would like the girls hair half up half down and in ringlets, I couldn't help but laugh.  P has only a few strands of hair and I figured we were lucky enough to have enough hair to clip the bow into.  At the start of the year I was worried we were going to have to attach it to a headband.  Luckily my friend let me borrow her tiny curling iron and told me it would work.  Cara came over and worked her magic on P's hair.  It looked so cute, I about died.  I never imaged her wispy hair in ringlets.  She was so excited that she was going to be able to wear makeup.  She held still perfectly and looked like a real beauty!  Her lashes go for days.  I have no clue where they came from.  Neither Tyson or myself have long lashes.  
 ^^^ Her smile says it all. ^^^
 The dress rehearsal went well and got us all even more excited for her performance.  I wasn't sure how she would react to the bright lights and not being able to see me in the audience.  I tried prepping her as much as I knew how and told her that I would yell really loud for her, "GO PENELOPE."  She smiled when I told her that.
 Daddy brought home a bouquet of flowers for his tiny dancer and we headed out for the big show.
Just as I was about to leave her with her classmates and teacher, I could tell she was a little unsure.  I asked her if she wanted to say a little prayer to help her not be so nervous.  She instantly folder her arms and bowed her head.  I almost started crying right then and there.  We said a quick prayer and I know that helped calm her nerves.  It was a sweet moment I never want to forget.  I went and sat in my seat and had butterflies in my stomach the entire time before she got onto stage.  I had waited for this moment my whole life.  Having my baby dance on a stage was something I could only dream about.  

As soon as I saw her shuffle onto stage I screamed yelled her name as loud as I could.  The lights turned on and it was dead silent.  In the cutest voice ever P yelled out, "Mama Dada."  It was precious. She did such a great job and I couldn't have been more proud.  I am so happy my mom could be there and for the rest of our family and friends that came to support her.  It made her night!  I am already looking forward to next years recital.
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Thursday, June 25

Playing Catch Up

As usual life is crazy busy, but super fun!  Summer has brought lots of ice cream, swimming and many new memories.  Here is a quick catch up of what's been happening around here.
1. Father's Day Sunday, my girls have the best daddy.  2. I got to team instruct to raise money for a group traveling to Haiti, later this year.  3. Some of the other wonderful instructors I got to teach with.  4.We celebrated Tyson's 31st birthday.  My friend Kimmy made the most unbelievable golf themed cake for him!
1. I never tire of seeing pictures with my girls together.  It's a rare occasion that P wants to hold Lucy, so when she does, you better believe I am snapping away.  2. Lately P has loved hanging outside once the sun starts going down.  3. P could play airplane all day long.  Her hair kills me. 4. Lucy Marie in her new romper.  Baby rolls in rompers about does me in every time.
 1. Popsicles have been a must in this heat.  The bigger the better.  I end up eating most of it.  2. Sunday snippet with my happy girl.  3. Tyson's first time on a road bike..... it was mine.  I couldn't stop laughing seeing him on my tiny bike.  4. P is finally at the age where she can go play with friends.  She is obsessed with her friend "Abbey's" house.
 1. Lucy watching her cousin perform at her talent show.  2. This girl and her silly faces.  3. In N' Out is my new addiction.  I tend to go there every other day.  I swear I'm not pregnant, but it sure feels like it with the cravings I have been having.  4. Little Lucy loves the bath and I'm so in love with her squishy belly.
 1. We love meeting daddy for lunch after P's dance class.  2. Thrifty's has the best ice cream.  Such a perfect treat after swim lessons.  3. Selfie's with my mini.  Notice the lipstick on P.  4. The BEST ice cream ever!  Cold Stone (half sweet cream, half chocolate, Reese's, almonds and hot fudge.  I have my friend Jill to thank!
 1. Farmer's Market with my little lady.  2. P loves every other dog besides her own.  3. This girl and pony rides.  4. We found our old groomer.  We are thrilled, including Gigi.
 1. We have been living at the pool every Saturday.  It helps with the mean farmers tan, I am developing from biking.  2. I have a thing for hats these days.  I plan on adding a few more to my collection.  3. P's favorite thing about Target is picking out a juice and munching on some popcorn.  And yes I took her out in public, in her Cinderella costume.  4. My friend Jessica and her daughter T came to visit us.  The girl played so well together.  I wish they lived closer. 
1. Little miss can't get enough of being outside.  2. My amazing mama sent me the most thoughtful and sweetest ray of sunshine package, in the mail.  It more than made my day.  3. My talented friend made me this Home Sweet Home sign and I couldn't love it more.  4. I am finally back to taking family pictures.  I loved this first session back.
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Tuesday, June 23

A Few Tips For Shedding The Pounds

Well after nine months, I am finally back to my pre-baby weight!!!!  This is a huge milestone for me.  I am not one of those lucky girls that bounce back to my old self right away.  Breastfeeding does not help me shed the pounds and I cannot fit into my old jeans for many months after being pregnant.  

I gained about the same amount of weight with both of my girls pregnancies.  I found the biggest difference between the two was the amount that I worked out.  I didn't step foot in the gym, while being pregnant with P and was super swollen and out of shape.  I had a very uncomfortable and painful pregnancy.  I decided to try things a little bit different with my second pregnancy.  With Lucy, I taught Zumba up until almost the day I gave birth.  While it didn't make a difference in my weight gain, it sure made a difference in my swelling and getting back into my jeans.

With this post I would like to put out a disclaimer, that I am by no means a professional when it comes to dieting and exercise.  I have had a couple of questions since posting this picture and hope to help anyone out there that might be interested.

The number thirty is just around the corner for me and my metabolism is just not what it used to be.  I have had to re-train my self how to eat healthy and what a regular workout routine should consist of.  In the past I was able to workout and eat whatever I wanted.  I'm talking cheeseburger, tons of soda, candy like no other and mounds of ice cream.  If I worked out, I seemed to be able to still eat pretty much anything.  Well after having two babies and getting a little older things have definitely shifted.

With P all of the weight fell right off after I was done breastfeeding.  I didn't even really have to workout much.  However, that wasn't until she was ten months old.  I was not about to wait that long again.  I was determined to make a change.  After a few set backs I am here today.

I had to wait until six months post pregnancy, until I felt comfortable taking Lucy to the gym daycare.  It was difficult to wait, but knew it would be worth it.  As soon as that six month arrived, it was game time.  She does great in there now and I can never get P to come out of the play place. That has been a huge help. 

The first thing that worked for me was finding some motivation.  I knew our Florida trip was soon arriving and I was going to have to slip into a swim suit.  I dreaded getting into a swim suit, but knew if I had a new one that I liked, I would work hard to make it fit.  I had Tyson take some before pictures for me and while it was a bit depressing, it helped motivate me that much more.  I set a time frame and went to work.

I had only been working out two times a week prior to wanting to make the change and knew that wasn't enough.  It's like they say, "If you keep doing the same thing, expect the same results."  My sister-in-law Cara and Tyson have been a great support system.  Cara gets me to the gym and has some killer workouts.  She sets all of my weights up for me before one of our classes and only has positive advice. I am also not very motivated on my own.  I have to go to classes!  Having a teacher up front and the support of other classmates, makes a huge difference to me.  I started working out six days a week and it has made all of the difference.  I teach Zumba two times a week, attend my friend Jen's total body class two days a week, lift legs on Friday's and either ride my bike or lift arms on Saturday. 
Another huge motivation was buying new workout clothes.  This may sound silly, but it honestly worked for me.  I have a slight Lululemon addiction, but hey it helped get me to the gym.  Tyson encouraged me every day and was willing to give me massages when I could hardly walk from my workouts!  I also love the run channel on Pandora.  There is nothing like good music to get me pumped.

Once I made the changes in my workouts it was time to make a huge change in my eating habits.  I went through my cupboards and threw out every unhealthy item.  I filled up two huge trash bags.  I felt terrible throwing it all away, but it was mostly junk.  I figured if it wasn't in my cupboards I wouldn't be as tempted to eat it.  I had a horrible ritual of eating a treat before bed, almost every night.  I'm sure this was not helping my weight loss.  I stopped eating my feelings and decided to work on things (more on that later).  I went to the grocery store and purchased tons of fresh produce and healthy snacks.  My shopping cart looked completely different, than it ever had in the past.  Like my sister says, "Abs are made in the kitchen."  I cut out diet coke and stopped eating fast food.  A no brainer, I know!

After completely changing my eating and workout habits, I just assumed I would see results instantly.  Sure enough, I was wrong.  I kept asking Tyson every day if he could see a difference.  I know he got sick of me asking.  But I wanted more than anything for my hard work to start paying off.  After a month I took my progress pictures again and was disappointed.  I started becoming really frustrated because after a month, nothing seemed to be changing.  I decided to stick things out until Florida and reevaluate afterwards.

I can say that after two months of being pretty strict, I finally started seeing results.  The only downfall was my milk started drying up.  I was so sad, but was happy that I got Lucy to nine months regardless.  The best part was once the weight finally started coming off the remainder of the weight soon followed.  It started motivating me even more to get to my end result.

I am still a work in progress, but was proud I got to where I am.  Having a baby is so hard on a women's body, especially after a c-section.  I have a new respect for c-section mama's, especially when it comes to ab workouts.  My abs still hurt sometimes, during a hard workout.  I currently don't eat as strict, but still go to the gym six days a week.  It keeps me wanting to eat better and keep the weight off.  

Below are a couple of things that I incorporated into my diet. 

Isagenix Protein Shake with half frozen banana, water, PB2 and a little ice
Overnight Oats (Almond milk, 3/4 cups oats, 1 Tbsp peanut butter, cinnamon to taste, one scoop protein stir together and leave in the fridge overnight)

Quest Bars (my FAVORITE! I really like s'mores, mint chocolate chip, cookie dough and cookies and cream
string cheese
Greek yogurt with fruit
veggies and hummus
hard boiled eggs with sriracha
raw almonds
100 calorie popcorn

Lean Cuisine (I hear they are not that healthy for you, but they are quick and easy)
egg whites on toast, wheat tortilla or english muffin

Tyson has been amazing and hasn't cared that we have had the same dinner for almost three months now............
Rotisserie chicken from Costco, quinoa and brown rice and a veggie
Talapia and veggies
turkey burger patty with quinoa and veggie
Turkey Taco's
Turkey taco salad

I love cooking a combination of broccoli and cauliflower.  Toss them lightly in olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes.

Yasso Bars I really like the cookie dough and mint chocolate chip

Another thing that really helped was the My Fitness Pal App.  It's a free app that helps you count your calories.  I had no clue how many calories I was consuming each day and this helped me stay on track. If anything it helped me learn how to eat properly.  I only used it for a couple of weeks and since I was eating pretty much the same things every day I stopped using it.  I didn't want to get to consumed in calorie counting. 

This is what worked for me and hopefully it made sense.  I still have a love for food, but am grateful I have learned balance and have a much healthier relationship with food.

Please feel free to ask my any questions and I would LOVE to know what worked for you!
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Wednesday, June 17

Growing Up

Right before the heat wave hit California, P and I built some fond memories at the park.  She has graduated from the baby swing and has fallen in love with the big girl swing.  It seems like just yesterday, she barely fit into the blue swing and I was nervous she was going to fall out.  The days are passing like lighting.  

Tyson and I often scroll through old pictures and videos and can't believe where the time has gone.  I have really started to relish every possible moment with my girls.  I have put my phone down more often and have hardly picked up my camera.  I just don't want to forget these precious moments that seem to be fleeting away ever so quickly.
P is at such a fun age.  She is my little buddy.  I love that she wants and needs me all day long.  It used to tire me out and I just decided to embrace it.  I cherish the fact that I am needed and I am that special person to her.  We cuddle on the couch, read books, cook in the kitchen, swim, dance, twirl and her favorite thing, sing songs.  I know what makes her tic and we seem to just get one another.  Her personality is bursting at the seams and makes me giggle constantly.  Hearing her try to say new words and discover her surroundings has been so much fun.  
She really is so easy to please.  We may spoil her, but it is seriously so hard not to.  She lights up when it comes to princesses, mermaids or Despicable Me.  She loves watching The Lorax on repeat.  Chocolate milk is still her drink of choice and Mac n' Cheese is her favorite food.  Each time we go to Target it's a must that she picks out a fruit bottle, with a different character on the top.
P loves primary and has every song memorized..... actions that is.  She has a crush on her uncle Buzz, Tate and her primary teacher Breton.  It's soo cute to watch her get all shy.  If she wants something she can't reach, she will grab your hand and take you to wherever she needs the help.  She loves playing with her toy kitchen and making us dinner.  Her crib is filled with a million stuffed animals and blankets.  I try to sneak some out, so there is room for her, but she notices when an animal is missing.  Lately we have been letting her stay up way past her bed time.  We love spending that one on one time with her.  She continues to be obsessed with brushing her teeth and I am not complaining one bit.
I take her with me to the gym every day and lately it's like pulling teeth to get her out of there.  She see's me and immediately runs for the slide.  She continues to love going to dance class and has recently started swim lessons.  Watching her learn new things is my all time favorite thing.  Just recently she has become potty trained.  She amazes me every day with all of her many talents and traits.
She rocks my world in the best way possible and can't believe I get to be the lucky person she calls mama!
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Dreams Really Do Come True

So the BIG 3-0 is just around the corner and my sweet SWEET husband bought me a bike, as an early birthday gift!  I can't tell you how much this gift meant to me.  

Before meeting Tyson my life revolved around cycling.  It sort of defined me.  I feel a part of me came alive the second I got on the bike.  There was just something about the sound of the wheels spinning and the clicking of the gears.  The beauty of the earth that I experienced and the life lessons I learned, was something I lived for.  In an attempt to pay off a credit card before I got married, I sold my bike. It was one of the hardest days of my life.  I shed more than a few tears.  

Now some may think it's crazy to cry over a bike, but it wasn't even about the bike.  It was the experiences, memories and new passion that I felt I was leaving behind.  It was like having a sliver of my heart sliced out.  I was more than happy to do it for my future but had a little ache in my heart that never went away.  I didn't know how long or if I would ever get a bike again.  
Five years later and my dreams came true!  I can't even tell you how excited I was to even step into a bike shop again.  It was a bit painful in the past.  I have to thank my friend Angie for giving me that nudge to hop back on the bike.  With her encouragement I got my bike!!!!
Every Saturday since I have gotten my bike, I have been out on the road with my friends.  If you have seen the influx in cycling pics, you now know why.  It has been beyond amazing.  I have an extra pep in my step and have even had a hard time falling or even staying asleep every Friday night before our Saturday rides.  
I just registered for a century in September and plan on doing another one with my friends in October.  I seriously can't wait. While I was back in Utah a few weeks ago, I was able to ride with my good friends Megan and Jessie.  It was seriously like nothing ever changed... other than forgetting how steep the climbs are in Utah and how out of shape I was.
 I look forward to the new memories that will be made on my bike and the friendships that will develop.
And probably the best news of all, is that Tyson is going to take out a demo bike on Saturday and go on a ride with me.  I seriously can't emphasize the excitement I have.  Life is good!
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Friday, June 12

Lucy Nine Months

 Dear Lucy,

Another month has come and gone.  It feels like I just finished posting your eight month love letter.  I absolutely love the stage that you are in.  At times I wish I could just push the pause button and keep you this way forever.  You are the sweetest thing ever and I swear my love continues to grow for you, more and more every day.  Your little smiles gets me all day, every time.  I sound like a broken record, but it's so true.  You smile at everyone with those big teeth of yours and brighten everyones day that you come in contact with.  Each day you become more and more attached to your mama.  You play well for a little while, but as soon as you spot me, you outstretch your tiny hands towards me.  I can't resist that look you give me.  You win every time.
You are obsessed with your sissy's Bitty Baby.  I bought it for her when we brought you home from the hospital, but you have seemed to make it all your own.  You are transitioning into the stage of not wanting to share or should I say your sister is.  You and your sissy seem to always want the same toy.  I am sure this is only the beginning.  P always tries to give you another toy to distract you.  I think you might start to outsmart her soon.
Changing your diaper has turned into my daily workout.  You are all over the place.   You are so strong and refuse to lay on your back.  While taking these pics, you decided to take a head dive for the floor.  Luckily I had cat like reflexes and caught you just in the knick of time.  I decided to move our photo shoot to the floor, where things were a little more safe.  You'll notice you ended up underneath the piano, your favorite spot in the living room.
You are the messiest eater ever.  I laugh every time that I feed you.  You end up being covered from head to toe in your baby food.  It doesn't matter if I use a bib or not, because the food seems to find a way onto your clothes.  You are sweets kind of girl.  You love your rice cereal in the morning.  I have tried giving you yogurt bites again, but you still gag every time.
I'm so so sad, but I think your days of nursing are coming to an end.  Mommy has been working out more and my milk supply just can't keep up.  It breaks my heart a little, but am proud I got you to nine months.  In the beginning I didn't think I would last a week.  It's been different this time around not being able to fully cherish each moment with you.  Trying to find the balance between my two babies has been hard, but you have been amazing and just go with the flow.  I am still able to nurse you once in the early morning.  I love taking the time to just hold you with no distractions.  It's just you and me.  I get to stare into your perfect eyes and run my fingers through your wispy hair.  You reach up at me and try to grab my eyelashes or hang on tight to my P necklace.  Oh how I am going to miss those sweet moments, but until then I am going to savor every last minute.
You are days away from crawling.  Just as I think you are about to take your first stride, you tip over.  You are the queen of planking and have abs of steel by now.  Army crawling and rolling are your favorite modes of transportation.  You now take baths all on your own, unless your sissy find her way in.  I have so much fun watching you two splash around.
This month you have mastered the wave bye bye and give the BEST open mouth kisses.  My favorite thing you do is grab my cheeks and pull my face towards yours.  It's seriously the sweetest thing!  I love getting you out of bed and holding your soft buttery skin up to my face.  You are sleeping eleven hours at night and still nap two to three times a day, depending on what we have going on.  You are such a champ! 
We recently went to Utah for your first visit.  You got to meet all of my friends and your uncle Tate.  You sadly contracted roseola from our plane ride.  Our trip turned into visits to Dr. Dave, high fever, cleaning up throw up and no sleep.  I felt so bad for you.  Our plane ride home was a total disaster.  You were so exhausted you slept for an entire day.
Daddy took you to your first My GYM class this week.  I can't wait to watch you continue to learn and develop.  He said you had a blast.  You are such an amazing baby and I thank Heavenly Father every night that I get to be your mama.  These next few months I will be party prepping for your 1st Birthday!  I love you so much baby girl!

Your mama and Papa
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