Friday, June 29, 2018

My Last Couple of Months and What's Next for Me

Full disclosure - this is about me and where I've been struggling over the last few months but it is also about me buying my own Virtual Juice Plus Franchise.  My blog is where I lay out my struggles and what I'm up to in my life. It helps me understand my choices and it helps me process my thoughts.  I am excited to share my journey with you.  It has been a tough few months but I'm excited as to where I am and where I am going!

This year has been challenging.  We moved from London to the NYC area for Jason to start a new job.  It was extremely stressful.  We were moving back to the U.S. but to an area we knew nothing about it.  I shed a few tears and was constantly questioning whether or not we were making the right decision.  Through the stress of the move, I started eating and drinking more alcohol.  I never realized how much of a stress eater I was until we started the process of moving.  Then we move to the northeast in January, right before a snow storm hits.  We have nothing in the apartment but a few air mattresses, sleeping bags, and camping chairs.  I went to the store and all my favorite comfort foods were there and I started eating them too.  I gained 20 pounds in the move from London to Hoboken.

As if the move wasn't stressful enough, we found out soon after moving here that my mom has stage 4 cancer and needs to start aggressive chemotherapy immediately.  I was so thankful to be back in the States and closer to my parents so I could help.  I also continued to turn to food as a comfort.

Over the course of about three months, I had neglected my health.  I quit working out, I quit taking my Juice Plus vegetable and fruit capsules, I quit drinking my protein shakes, and I adopted all horrible eating habits.  I was drinking 3-5 diet cokes a day followed by a ridiculous number of glasses of wine at night.  I was eating cheese, chips, candy, cookies, and not much vegetables and fruits.  I knew this had to stop but I was struggling on how to make it stop.  I wrote blogs about how I was going to change but it felt like it was impossible.  I didn't have any motivation to do much of anything and I was looking for solutions everywhere.

At one of my most defeated moments, my friend reaches out to me to ask if I want to join the Juice Plus Shred 10.  I say yes and I know this is my chance to turn everything around.  There was healthy recipes to follow, I started taking my vegetable and fruit capsules again.  I was drinking a protein shake and I stopped drinking diet cokes.  This was a huge turning point for me. It also got me working out again and I started running.  My first run was only 2 miles and I seriously thought I was going to have a heart attack.  I was red faced, couldn't breath but I knew after that run that I would never go back to this again.  After the shred, I felt different and was ready to get serious about my health.

While I was on my kick to get to a healthier me,  I also started reading and researching about colorectal cancer.  The thing that stuck out to me was that my mom's oncologist and everything I read mentioned diet is key.  Colorectal cancer is very common but also preventable if you eat healthy.  This really hit me and changed the way I looked "dieting".  It changed from a superficial motivation of I want to be skinny to I want to be healthy so that I can live a long life to be here for my kids and their kids.  I had a whole new outlook on being healthy and understanding what we put into our bodies is essential and so important.  It also needs to be sustainable not a quick fix but something that will continue to help me be the best version of myself.

I knew Juice Plus was going to be essential in my journey to a healthier me.  My Juice Plus journey started about 2 years ago after we moved to London.  The kiddos were getting sick frequently and not adapting well to the new rainy weather.  I was so tired of them missing school and constantly trying to get them into the doctor.  At this point, I really missed having a pediatrician and was so frustrated.  My friend, Melanie, nicely insisted that I try these wonderful Juice Plus gummies for the kids.  They started taking Juice Plus and within a couple of months we could see such a difference in them.  They were no longer getting sick and they had so much energy!  The best bonus was that you can order adult vegetable and fruit capsules for myself then receive the kids for FREE!  This was a life changer for me.  See, I don't like vegetables.  I only choke them down to be a good example for the kids when I have to or I eat a salad here or there but not enough to get anywhere near the recommend number of servings.  What a difference these capsules made in my life.  My energy increased and I haven't gotten sick since I started taking them!

Juice Plus has been so important to me over the last few months as I have changed my eating and working out habits.  The protein shakes have been essential after my workouts and runs.  I have counted on my capsules to keep me energized and giving my body fuel.  The 10 day shred was the start of everything and helped me recognize how to much crap I was putting into my body and how much weight I had actually gained.  I have limited processed food and loved finding alternatives as the 10 day shred jump started my new healthy lifestyle.

When Melanie approached me about starting my own Juice Plus franchise, she mentioned that the most important thing about Juice Plus is sharing it with friends and family so they can experience the benefits of it too.  I was so afraid to say yes because I had done the network marketing thing before.  I went down this path with another company and I was disappointed when I really started understanding the expectations and that the products weren't exactly what I thought they were.  Melanie invited me to a call that made the difference.  It was several people who are the top producers for Juice Plus.  The message from them was so clear to me, Juice Plus is about sharing how it has affected your life and introducing it to your friends and family so that it can help them too.  Its a movement, that can help people find their healthy version of themselves.  After everything that I had experienced in the last 6 months, I knew this was the next thing in my journey and was very confident in my decision to join Melanie's team.

My life is different, I am different.  There is something wonderful about changing and so rewarding.  I am looking forward to helping people through Juice Plus and feel blessed to be on my new path. 

This was me in February, headed towards gaining more weight.

This was the beginning of March, at my heaviest, right before the 10 day Shred.

Right after the 10 Day Shred and yes I had a celebratory margarita! 
I was starting to lose weight and inches.

This was on my 40th birthday.  At this point, I had lost 14 pounds.

This was today after my yoga session.  I am 2 pounds away from being at my pre-move weight.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Summer Planning

One of my favorite things we did when we lived in London was traveling.  It felt like we were constantly traveling all over Europe or planning our next trip.  Since the kids were in school year round, there were more breaks to travel.  We didn't have bucket lists to get us through the summer.  So now that we are back, we are summer planning! 

As we started to look at our summer plans, one thing became very clear to us.  It was going to be a long summer if we didn't have a car here.  So we shipped our car from Texas to Hoboken and are now practicing parallel parking all the time.  One of the benefits of living in the Northeast is that there are so many things within driving distance.  It is so different from Texas where you can drive for what feels like forever and still be in Texas.  We have started looking at different places we can go explore and outings we can take this summer.  The biggest debate in our house right now is are the kiddos too old for Sesame Place?  We are definitely going to explore some of the nearby beaches, the Touch it Museum in Pennsylvania, the Bronx Zoo, the botanical gardens in Brooklyn, playgrounds in central park, walk the Brooklyn Bridge, visit Long Island Beach, Governor's Island, and lots of picnics!

Since we moved back to the States, we have promised to visit Texas for almost a month.  We are going to spend 5 days in Dallas and then 3 weeks in El Paso.   I don't always look at El Paso as my favorite place to travel or explore but the kids have started to research and have come up with a few things they want to do while there.  They have decided that Hueco Tanks, White Sands, and Carlsbad Caverns is on their list.  We are also going to spend a weekend in Ruidoso and go to the races.

They have also requested lots of swimming.  That was the one thing they missed in London was not having hot summers.  We would have hot waves and would take full advantage of them but here it is hot.  They can swim!  We are starting to explore swimming clubs to join (talk about a money maker), its crazy how much we are probably going to pay to have a pool available to us.  I know in Texas, we are definitely going to be looking for swimming pools. 

After Texas, we are going to the beach in Florida with friends from London.  We are so excited to relax and reunite with some of our friends.  I cannot wait to be on those white sands and crystal blue waters.  The kids have requested that we stop at the Children's museum in Tampa.  I'm not sure if I like them learning how to research in school.  They are finding lots of things that they want to do.

A few other random requests are to have batting practice, cooking lessons, math practice, write stories, have a book club, watch fireworks on the 4th of July, go to a Yankees game and have several pajama days.

I think our summer is going to be hectic!  The kids are so excited to be out of school in a little over a week instead of being in school til July.  We are going to need so much more time when 10 weeks to accomplish everything on their list but we are going to try!

Count down til summer time is on...wish me luck!


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Trying to Blog Again

Well, I turned 40.  I don't have any extra knowledge and I don't have any more clarity than I had yesterday.  I don't know what I want to do with the rest of my life.  My answer on what's next for me varies from day to day.

I don't know what to blog about any more.  I know that might sound ridiculous but there was so much to share when we were in London.  It felt like every day was something new or we were exploring something or we encountered a new issue.  Every where I turned, I was inspired to write about something or to share something.  Here I feel like our life has become very boring and routine.  We have our daily responsibilities and we know what we are doing, I think.  I don't have unique perspective or crazy experiences to write about now.  I don't have a theme for the blog, even the title is outdated.

It was easy to write about the kids when they were younger.  Now, they are so much more independent and are in school full time.  It was like they grew their wings when they were in London and now they are happy to do accomplish things on their own.  Our conversations are shifting and they are deciding what they want to share with me or not share is probably more accurate.  Our conversations are different as we brainstorm how they handle challenges or what to do when their feelings are hurt.  They are growing up and are learning more critical thinking skills.  When they are little, its so easy to blog about them and its so cute but now I don't want to betray their trust.

I will say that I'm happy and content with who I am and enjoying life.  I never would've thought that I would live in Hoboken, NJ, directly across the Hudson River from NYC.  I never imagined that I would live in a town where everyone is connected and you constantly run into people that you know.  My kids love Hoboken and don't want to ever leave.  I don't know if they know that it is in the state of New Jersey but they are so proud to announce that they live in Hoboken.  This little city has captured our hearts quickly.

So I write this because I miss blogging but I don't know what to write.  I am going to spend the next couple of weeks really focused on what's going on around me and if I can find some inspiration.  I want to see if I can find the blessings and the excitement in the routine of our daily lives.  I want to see where the blog goes and if it still makes sense for me. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Comfort in the Ordinary

My mind is usually always going and always analyzing.  I am constantly thinking about something or exploring something.  I constantly write about these things, what's on my mind, what I'm analyzing, what I'm overthinking at the moment but my mind isn't working the same anymore.

I don't know why but I'm struggling with finding what to write about on my blog.  My life has fallen into a pretty easy routine without much disturbance.  A lot of the time with the kids is spent on school or running them around.  The kids are less demanding and more independent.  They are starting to get opinions and I'm making fewer decisions about what they are going to do in their free time.  They each have started to settle into their activities and are really enjoying them.  When the sun comes out, we spend lots of time at the parks.  There are parks all over Hoboken and is usually a great break at the end of the day. 

I have found a great rhythm for working out and eating healthy.  We have changed so much of our lifestyle when we were in London that we have kept most of it in check here (now that we have finished eating tons of junk food).  It takes more work to eat healthy here and to pay attention to food labels.  I had to increase my working out intensity and length of time to match the amount of walking that I was doing on a regular basis in London.  Jason and I are cooking more meals and eating out less.  Its so easy to cook here and we have a microwave which makes left overs so much easier! 

I haven't been able to quite wrap my mind around the fact that we live across the Hudson River from NYC.  Maybe as that starts to sink in then I'll notice more or different things around me.  There is still a bit of shock when I see the NYC sky line.  Also, a lot of my day is spent in Hoboken which is much smaller and feels more ordinary.  Its a great place to live and we are all extremely happy here but it hasn't offered anything to stimulate my brain for writing.  There is a kind of comfort being back in the States and living in a place that is one square mile.  It has been easy to meet people and make connections.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Toys - Buy a New, Give away One

We have imposed the rule on the kids that if they get a new toy then they have to donate an old toy to make space for the new toy.  Its been great and it makes living in a small space much more manageable.  The only issue with is that I have a bit of a double standard.  When I buy something, I don't give anything up.

Our full size kitchen is starting to bust at the seems.  I am have to move things around to make everything fit.  I keep telling myself, that its different because I need these gadgets to cook.  I'm not sure that its really many roasting pans do you need?  How many knives are necessary to chop up veggies?  I'm busting at the seem with pitchers.  We only pull them out on occasion when we have people over and trying to look sophisticated.  There are so many other things I want for my kitchen, like pretty serving dishes but is it necessary?  Would I be willing to give something up if I bought them? 

I also have tons of pictures and paintings that need to be framed.  Framing is so expensive but yet I hold onto these "art" pieces for when I have saved the money to frame them.  Does it make sense to save them?  How much space do we have to hang art and photographs?  Am I being unrealistic by saving them, am I taking up valuable space?  What if we decide to give up urban life and move to a house in the suburbs, then I'll be thankful I saved them?  If I buy another "art" piece, should I have to give up what I currently have? 

Clothes...I hate cleaning out my clothes.  I always worry that if I get rid of something that I will want it again at some point.  I buy new clothes but never get rid of anything when I buy.  I don't make the kids get rid of any of their "old" clothes when we buy new ones either.  One of my friends mentioned the other day that she gets rid of 3 clothing items when she buys 1.  That sounds awesome but it almost gave me a heart attack.  Does it make sense to replace old with new clothes?  Some of my old clothes are my favorites but I like to buy new clothes too.  How do I find a balance?

How much of the kids "stuff" do you keep as treasures?  How many art projects are worth saving?  What about their favorite outfits, should I save them for their kids or to make a quilt?  Is it crazy and will they think I'm crazy when I try to dump these treasures on them when they are adults?

I have recently received the book A Simplified Life from a friend but I'm terrified to read it.  I shoved it on the bookshelf and pretended that it didn't exist.  It would probably help me reason through these questions but what if it makes me feel awful for not wanting to simplify things?  What if I am happy with my ridiculous justifications?  So I just opened the book for the first time and with a quick scan of the table of contents, I can see so many things that stress me out: space, meals, schedule, finances, motherhood, and self. 

Alright, this blog post took me on a crazy journey and made me convince myself that I need to read this book.  I need to let go of my fears and read it.  This is reminding me of that episode of Man with  a Plan where he does the silent response so his wife talks herself into agreeing with him.  I think that I just had a crazy conversation with myself and talked myself into reading A Simplified Life.  I will let you know how it goes! 

I would love to hear from any of you that have read it and implemented it in your life!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Cannavale School

Oh my goodness, what have  I gotten myself into.  Let me back up a bit.  We are all adjusting to a new school.  I feel so very lucky that the kids got into a great school here.  The big ones go to a small where there is only one class per grade.  The classes smaller here too.  Both kids have less than 20 kids in their classes.  Hoboken has a free PK-4 program and Jillian attends it.  It has been great!  Their teachers have been impressive and so patient with them as they have adjusted to the expectations here.  There is also so much more communication here that I have had to stop myself from over reacting to feedback.   I feel the pressure to over correct the kids quickly instead of help them be successful on their learning journey.

A big part of their education and growth here is focused on improving yourself.  They take several assessments over the course of the year to show where they are improving.  Since we started late, the kids were bombarded with assessments over the last couple of months.  Their strengths and weaknesses in plain sight for them to see.  They have also noticed ways that they are different from the other kids in their class.  They have all asked for help and they want to improve on their weaknesses.

So...I started researching how to get help.  There is tutoring and centers and activities and so much that you can find but it felt so overwhelming.  They are also young and I don't want them to spend so much time on learning that they sacrifice play time.  Is there a way that I can help them and make sure they are still having fun too?  I talked to my sister and friends who are teachers, I talked to the kids teachers, and started compiling suggestions and activities that I could do with the kids to help them.  We now spend 30 minutes a day in what the kids call Cannavale school.  We spend 10 minutes on writing, 10 minutes on reading, and 10 minutes on math.  They have notebooks that tell them what they are going to do for those 30 minutes.  We play games, we write about our days, we write silly poems, we use flashcards, and play on the computer.  We laugh and we learn for 30 minutes a day.  All 4 of us sit at the table so that I give the kids my undivided attention and work through any of their questions or struggles.

I thought the kids were going to hate it but instead they have embraced it.  They even ask for it and want to be prepared for class.  They have named it Cannavale school and call me Miss Mommy for those 30 minutes.  Yesterday, after our "class" time, Taryn hugged me and said that it is really helping her.  Sebastian was so proud of how much his writing improved that he said he was going to start writing better at school, all said with a huge smile on his face.  I am so happy that one of my crazy ideas has taken off and is helping the kids while we spend quality time together.  I know this isn't going to last forever but I'm going to take pride in helping them improve themselves and cherish the 30 minutes a day of "class" time.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Snow Day #2 - Picture Practice

Hello All!

We are on snow day #2.  Today, I decided to get the kiddos help me with my picture taking skills.  It is always a challenge for me to take pictures inside and figure out the lighting and the shadows.  I also watched some editing videos and tried some new techniques.  Some pictures turned out better than others and my editing skills still needs lot of work but I thought I would share the pictures with you anyways.

Also, yay, sticking with the New Year's Resolutions and it is March.  Here is the previous post in case you missed it,  So so proud of myself.

Hope you enjoy the pictures!