Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Great Chore Challenge

My daughter turned nine this year and, in my family, that marks the beginning of doing chores to earn an allowance.

So, in keeping with tradition, we sat her down and talked about the entire concept; what chores she’d be responsible for, how much she’d earn per week, and overall expectations. I even explained that this would help her to have a more realistic understanding of what it’s like to have a job.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mom's Motivation

Sometimes motivation hits when you don’t expect it.

I’ve been working hard to get healthier. It hasn’t been an easy transition, and by no means have I been perfect. I managed to lose about 20 pounds and then hit a plateau. My motivation started waning—as hard as I’ve been working, why haven’t I seen more progress? Why? It’s enough to make you say “Forget it! Pass the cheese fries!”

Then I did one of the employee wellness checks my employer offers.

Turns out that all this hard work is making a difference. By exercise and diet alone (no meds), I managed to lower my cholesterol by 26 points from August 2012 to February 2013. My HDL (the good cholesterol) went up by 5 points. I lowered my LDL (the bad cholesterol) 14 points. And my triglyceride level (the common fat in our bodies) went down 84 points.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Ray of Hope in Infertility

A year ago I went public with the struggles my husband and had to have a baby during National Infertility Awareness Week. This year I write from a different perspective but still with the same goal: to raise awareness of the impact infertility has on one in eight couples across this country.

I am now blessed to be pregnant. Some days I still want to be pinched to see if it truly did happen for us.

But in a way I’ve not moved on from infertility.

My heart still breaks for those I know who are struggling. How we announced on Facebook was shaped by the gut wrenching pain of seeing sonogram photo announcements for years while we tried – some people announcing their second child while we struggled for our first. An announcement was hard enough but a sonogram picture always felt like an extra twist of the knife so we didn’t post ours.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

It’s Vacation Time!

There’s nothing that cries “rejuvenation” quite like a vacation.  It had been too long since we had taken time away from work for a family vacation.  It was an opportunity to focus on our emotional well-being and spend some much needed quality time together as a family. 

Our kids are ages five and two, so we wanted to do something that would be fun for them to experience.  We spent a day at Legoland, a day at Fossil Rim and then off to San Antonio for fun at Sea World.  Not only did Preston and Emory enjoy every minute of it, but Mom and Dad did, too. 

Legoland was quite an adventure with the kids. Who knew what all could be done with Legos?! We all agreed the best part was the interactive 4D movie equipped with wind, rain, and snow. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Voice of Infertility

I have never been known as the shy, quiet girl. In school, the only complaint I ever received from teachers was “talks too much in class.” I had acquired nicknames like “motormouth” and “chatterbox” as a kid. Speaking up has definitely never been my problem.

It shouldn’t have given me even a moment’s pause when I found myself speaking up — giving opinions, asking questions, just generally participating — during a regularly scheduled meeting my first week back to work after maternity leave. A meeting I have attended regularly for nearly three years and off and on for longer than that. It’s a meeting where that type of thing SHOULD happen. So, why was I surprised at my actions?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bath time

At 14 months old, Shelby is becoming more and more aware of her surroundings.

This weekend, bath time went to a whole new level when she started splashing the bubbles.

We were visiting my parents and my Mom, a.k.a. Mimi was giving her a bath.  I started to hear belly laughs and massive splashing coming from the bathroom so I grabbed my phone as it seemed like a good opportunity to film.

I mean, I’m not sure about you but there doesn’t seem to be anything better than hearing a baby laugh and have fun don’t you think?

Makala Pollard is a Sr. Marketing Specialist with Texas Health Resources, Stepmom to two boys, and Mom to an 14-month-old daughter Shelby.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Waiting by the phone

Our day had come, it was a Wednesday afternoon and I knew that about this time, CPS would be looking through our Lifebook which I had meticulously prepared all weekend. To add to the nervousness, CPS would make a decision this very day.  Only three little things would help them learn about our family. That’s it: three little things that consisted of our life book, our home study and the verbal overview of our family by our placement agency. This is all CPS had to go by in order to make a decision on Caroline’s future and our family.

Later that day, around 5:30 p.m., I received a call from our placement agency. She shared with me they had finished reviewing our Lifebook. She said that CPS wasn’t going to make a decision today as they had planned and they will make their family selection for Caroline in the next few days.  There was a delay in the family selection decision because of some unforeseen issues that had risen earlier in the morning that would involve a court hearing and everything was at a halt.

Friday, April 19, 2013

No more need for speed

If someone had asked me what the biggest surprise that would come from pregnancy I would have never guessed.

For me, it’s been that I no longer speed when driving.

For those that know me or have ridden with me, you know this is a shocking development. I always had taken the speed limit as more of a guide, plus 5 or 7 if I’m being honest. I like to drive and I like to drive fast. I didn’t drive recklessly around others, but when the big highways of Texas are wide open I liked going fast.

But basically the minute we got the positive pregnancy test and certainly once I saw our baby’s heartbeat at 5 weeks and 4 days along, I slowed down. I now go the speed limit. I use cruise control so as not to slip back into my speed demon ways.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Is it normal to worry this much?

At 17 months old, my laid-back-about-milestones little man finally decided to start walking.

While I’m excited and proud, this usually-laid-back Mama keeps focusing on one thing: he can get into trouble so much faster now.

I find myself always worried about something bad happening to him. The world is overflowing with bad things that can happen to a person – car wrecks, swimming pool accidents, fires, choking, childhood diseases, broken bones from freak accidents, food allergies, kidnapping, bullying, electrocution, eating those little packets that say “do not eat”…my mind runs through all the possibilities, and I can’t handle it. All I can do is my best job at keeping an eye on him. Will that be enough?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sweat it out

Recently a friend suggested that I try taking a “Hot” Yoga class. She went on and on touting all of the benefits and how great it makes her feel.

Later that day I polled my Facebook friends to find out if anyone else I knew had any experiences with Hot Yoga. I was surprised at all of the responses my status update received.  I began researching online and found two different studios near my house. One of them offered a Groupon so I talked to a neighbor friend and we both took the plunge and signed up for a month.

As a full-time working Mother of two I have a difficult time taking time out for myself. Committing myself away from my family for two hours a couple times a week is a big deal for me.  My girlfriend and I agreed on starting this journey on Sunday morning and at 7:30AM I picked her up and we headed on our way.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Successfully Breastfeeding Twins

When I was pregnant with my twins, some people expressed skepticism that I'd be able to breastfeed both of my babies. I'm one determined Mama, though, and wanted to do all that I could to make that happen. Our journey hasn't been without some trial and error, however. I thought I'd share what I've learned with my girls in the hopes it might help other Moms struggling with the early days of breastfeeding.

Formula Supplementation

At birth, my little girls were pretty petite at just 4 pounds, 8 ounces and 5 pounds 14 ounces. The main focus became making sure they were getting enough and gaining weight. The smaller baby, Jolie Grace, missed the NICU for her weight by just 49 grams (a just about a tablespoons worth), so I became determined to keep her weight up so that they both could come home with me when I was discharged. In the beginning while my milk was still coming in and weight was of major concern I supplemented with about 1-2 ounces of formula or if I had pumped enough, breast milk, after each time they ate. I would nurse for just 15 minutes at a time so that they wouldn’t burn too many calories working to get the milk. The bottle was much easier of an effort and after 15 minutes at the breast, I would offer the bottle and they would eat just a little more. After the first month the girls improved at feeding, my milk supply became efficient, and my life got so much easier. It was tough feeding them once, and then feeding them both all over again.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Life with a Narrator

Elliot is at a fun age. He’s making huge leaps in speech and he’s learning more and more words each day. He’s also at a dangerous age if you are a parent (like me) who likes to talk a lot. He’s a sponge, repeating everything he hears. Now don’t get me wrong, he’s not hearing anything that bad from me, but it is funny to hear him using some common phrases around the house like “oh man!” or “come on!”

But what’s even funnier is that he now has the vocabulary to narrate everything we do.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Picture This!

At 13.5 months old Shelby is walking and starting to recognize the world around her.

In particular, this weekend she kept strolling down our hallway and jabbering.  I have lots of photos of family and some of the vacations we have taken on the wall at the end of the hallway.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My Earth Angels

I can never stop thanking God for His continuous blessings – and with two little ones in my life, I never run out of constant reminders of His goodness. But a new baby and soon-to-be two-year old will definitely keep you busy (and prayerful).

Before Talia (which means dew from God) entered our lives, I was a bit concerned about how my other daughter, Nandi, would react to a new addition to the family. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. It was as if she matured overnight and immediately became my little helper!

As soon as she met her baby sister, she was attached immediately. I think she felt like she had her very own human baby doll. In fact, Nandi has about three or four baby dolls, which she hardly even noticed before Talia came along. All of a sudden, she wanted them around; she was rocking them, feeding them, burping them, and even checking to see if they needed a diaper change. She was mimicking what she saw us doing. But to see my little girl, this smaller version of me acting grown, was and still is priceless.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cheering on the girls

The first time I heard myself “cheering” for my boobs, I knew I’d entered into a strange new world. A world in which I lived and died by how well “the girls” were doing their job.

Hello, my name is Ashley and I am a breastfeeding Momma. Better yet, a breastfeeding Momma who pumps.

Wait, you mean, all breastfeeding Mommas don’t give their girls some encouragement – and admonishments – from time to time? Surely I can’t be the only one.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Quick Basics of Quinoa

High in protein and fiber, quinoa [KEEN-wah] is not only versatile; it also tastes wonderful and has a nice crunch. 

Quinoa is nutritionally renowned for its protein content and while it does have a decent amount, it’s not actually the amount of protein that’s so impressive. Instead it’s the type of protein. Quinoa has the perfect balance of all nine amino acids essential for human nutrition. This type of complete protein is rarely found in plant foods, though common in meats. Quinoa also offers a good dose of fiber and iron. There are 111 calories in each 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa.

This quick-cooking, gluten-free whole grain grows in a rainbow of colors, but the most commonly available are red quinoa, black quinoa and white quinoa. Taste and nutrition are similar among the colors. White quinoa tends to cook up fluffier, while red quinoa and black quinoa have a crunchier texture and the grains don’t stick together as much. 

Red quinoa makes a beautiful main-dish salad, but you can use whichever color you’d like.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Oh, Diego, Oh . . .how I miss you

Man, I miss Diego. You know, Dora’s the Explorer’s primo? The one on Nick Jr. who talks to animals and swings from a vine? I want him back. And his stupid baby jaguar, too.

If you had told me three years ago that I’d be pining for Diego, I would have laughed in your face. My daughter, then 2, was addicted to “Gago” like a first-grader to frosting. Thanks to the wizardry of DVR, we watched every episode of every season of “Go, Diego, Go” at least a dozen times.

On nights when I couldn’t sleep, it was because the mighty jungle drum beat of the Diego theme song looped on and on in my head. For Allie’s second birthday, my decidedly technology-averse 60-year-old mother – who actually had to learn how to operate our DVR via the universal remote control so she could play episodes of the show — made Diego cupcakes.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Happy to be nauseated

I don’t know why but I really hoped when I got a “pregnant” readout on the home pregnancy test that our infertility battles were behind us. Am I naïve? Yep.

Perhaps it was just wishful thinking that after all we’d been through it would be smooth sailing from here on out. After all, we went through so many tears and trials getting to this point I should have the easiest pregnancy ever, right?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

What should I eat after a workout?

A typical morning, when I manage to work in a run, looks like this:

Get out of bed early enough to give myself some quiet wake-up time before the family rises. Immediately get coffee started. Turn on my tablet to read news, emails, facebook, and my favorite running blog to get my mind in a state of motivation. Pour giant cup of coffee and enjoy limited precious minutes of me time. Once caffeine has lifted the fog from my brain and body, reluctantly peel myself off the couch and throw on running attire to hit the road for about 30 minutes or as long as my morning schedule will permit. Come home feeling so glad I made the effort but wishing I had time to go longer. As husband and stepson are getting ready for school/work wake up my 15-month-old, get him ready for day care, feed him Cheerios and milk, and stretch out leg muscles while he’s in the high chair and dog vies for my attention. Wipe down baby’s face and hands, put on shoes/coat, pass him off to husband as he and stepson are hurrying out the door and send love and goodbyes and have-a-good-days their direction, jump in the shower, get ready, run out the door with more coffee in hand…

And forget to eat anything, so that by mid-morning I am ready to eat my arm. Oops.

“The post-workout meal is different from any other meal you eat throughout your day because what you consume after working out plays a huge role in whether you meet your goals or not,” said Derek Mendoza, athletic supervisor at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford. “In short, good post-workout nutrition can help to increase muscle size, refill energy stores, and repair any damage caused during the workout. So, without it, you could potentially workout intensely every day and still not meet your goals.”

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

When you find a diaper in the fridge

Sometimes parenting is this wonderful thing you struggle to describe because your kids just give you the warm and fuzzies. But other times, like last weekend for me, you find a diaper in your fridge. And it just makes you ask, “Why?”

After finding said diaper, I abandoned my previous mission of cleaning house and doing laundry and set out to find an answer to this burning question.

I have two sons, a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old and even though the older son is a crafty little fellow, his attention is typically focused on trains, Pringles and trying to convince me our iPad is his and therefore, he can decide when he plays it. So, I was pretty sure my youngest, Jack, was the culprit. I checked with the older son and my suspicions were confirmed.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Could this be it?

As I was pulling out of our driveway heading to church last Wednesday night (5:50pm to be exact!), my two sons and our foster daughter and I waved goodbye out of our SUV’s window to our Adoption/Foster placement agency worker who stopped by for her monthly visit to see Amanda.

As we all smiled and waved good bye, she flew two hands up against her car window gesturing to me to stop, wait!  I rolled down my window and she said: “Do you remember, the little girl from west Texas you submitted your home study for?”  I wish I could say yes instantly but after submitting our home study for half a dozen children my brain does become a bit fuzzy on the specifics.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Homemade Baby Food

I decided to take the homemade baby food project on with our second child.  Why you ask?  Because I have even less time than I had before?  Well, that is the case, but no.  I have managed to educate myself in the arena of organic foods and pesticides more than I ever wanted to know, and plus, I’m a control freak.  So now that I’ve shared this little piece of me, I’m willing to share my experience with you.

Now for some reason, I had to get over the anxiety that I was going to somehow poison my baby from steaming vegetables and pureeing them.  I don’t know why; just go with me.  Yes, I even ordered a book.  I can cook a mean meal, don’t get me wrong, but again, being the control freak that I am, if the book doesn’t say to steam for 10 minutes, by golly, I’m not gonna do it.  So that being said, at this point, my daughter is only 5 months, so she is only eating rice cereal and carrots.