Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Weight loss is a family effort

I’ve battled with my weight most of my life. Nineteen months ago, I began a weight loss program that is offered to Texas Health Resources employees for free.  And as of last week, I’ve lost a total of 126 pounds.

I’m still not at goal, but what a journey this has been.  Many people ask me what was different this time? What has made me stick with this program? Where do I get the will power? I came up with three reasons I believe have helped me along: my husband, portion control, and journaling.

My husband has been unbelievably supportive and has learned to cook for me the nights I work 12 hours to keep me on plan. Even my girls have kept me on the plan by measuring and writing down what I need to know from food labels. It’s become a family effort to stay on plan. Some of you may say, “that’s too much work”, but isn’t being healthy worth it? I say it is!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Confessions of a Biter Parent

I’ll never forget the first time she bit a friend.  Brett had picked her up from school and when they walked in he placed the sheet of paper on the counter and said “tell mommy what you did” in a very disapproving tone.  What?  My perfect child bit someone?  Well, I’m sure it wasn’t her fault, right?  I’m sure they were picking on her and she was just defending herself?  I mean she is petite and there are mostly boys in her class . . . I could go on and on justifying her actions, right? 

Later on, I was sitting in a group with colleagues and they were asking me about Shelby’s latest adventures at school.  We were laughing about some of the incident reports I had been posting on Facebook.  “Oh, you have a biter, too?” one of them said.  Oh good-someone else who understood!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Preparing to Let Go

I knew the days were coming soon to when we would have to let Amanda go, we just didn’t know when but CPS promised they would give us as much notice as they could so we could prepare ourselves and Amanda’s departure.

Days and weeks passed without an answer which felt like an eternity as we waited to hear if the home study for the biological relative “passed”. We knew from past experiences that the process of a home study approval could go either very quickly or it could last months.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Mommy Time Out

I’m sure many of you have heard of the “Mommy time out” some of you may even be Pro’s at it! Well I have decided to add it to my discipline arsenal.

I have been reflecting the last couple of days because Henry and I can’t seem to get it together. And for all those who said three years old is worse than two, you were RIGHT! Right now age two is remembered like a honeymoon, peaceful, relaxing, loving and overall enjoyable.

I feel like I am in that movie “Groundhog Day” where they keep reliving the same day over and over, except the title to my movie would be “Opposite Day” as in do the opposite of whatever Mom says. There have been lots of tantrums and throw downs on both of our parts.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

An Interview with a 5-Year-Old

Catching a glimpse of the thoughts of a 5-year-old is quite entertaining.  As a preschool project, Preston was asked a series of questions by his teacher about Mom.  I then followed suit and asked him similar questions about Dad.  Below are the interviews.  My own commentary is in parenthesis. 

About Mom:
What is your mom’s name?  Julie. I call her Momma.
What does she like to do?  Play with me.
How old is she?  I think she’s 60. (Ouch!!  He later told me, “Well, that was before your birthday.  Now you’re 70.”  Wow, that feels much better.)
What is her favorite color?  I think she likes pink. (Or perhaps purple or blue.)
What is her favorite food?  Pizza & eggs. (Never once have I eaten pizza and eggs together.  I wonder where he comes up with this stuff?!)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Here Comes Trouble


A while back, a coworker warned me to enjoy it while I could. She told me to enjoy the time when I could put Hannah down in a pillow fort on the bed or put her on her play mat with a selection of toys and she would entertain herself happily. The coworker told me to be afraid because one day I’d put her down, look away and look back and think “where did she go?”

Well that happened Friday.

Hannah had turned 6 months old the day prior. In the week prior, she’d been maneuvering into a downward dog yoga position, on her hands and feet, and would try to move herself along. She would get frustrated when she didn’t go anywhere. She didn’t quite understand crawling, but I knew it was only a matter of time.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Car trip scavenger hunt

When I was younger vacation brought to mind words like “free” or “relaxing” or “not a care in the world” but now that I have two little boys, I have to say, my mind always jumps to the logistics first.

Don’t get me wrong, I always have a great time vacationing with my little ones – it’s great to see them experience things like the ocean or sand for the first time, but every Mother out there knows that unless you live close to an ocean, there’s either a plane trip or a car trip involved. And with travel comes great responsibility… as a Mom.

This year we’re going on a 13-hour drive to the beach and my husband thought it would be fun to do a car scavenger hunt with our five-year-old. Me being a huge fan of scrapbooks, I figured we could take it one step further. I created a scrapbook with pictures and words that our son could check off as he saw them on our vacation! It was super easy, and below is my little how-to!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Second Time Mom (Six Years Later)

When my husband and I decided we wanted to try for another baby, it was kind of a huge deal.

Our decision was not only bringing another life into this world but adjusting to the almost six years we had been out of the loop with the baby stage.  It was somewhat intimidating to our nice little comfort zone we had created.

Now, it’s a year later and here we are! We made it through the first four months with having a new baby (Gracey) in the house!  It has truly been different than 6 ½ years ago.

Friday, July 19, 2013


My kids had the opportunity to hang out with their cousins from my husband’s side of the family during a recent vacation. My brothers-in-law have a total of five children. Our kids all range in age from four to 12. There are four girls and three boys. T. and H. happened to meet one of the four-year-old cousins for the first time on this trip.

It’s such fun to watch the cousins interact. First there’s the cautious “Who are these people and do I have to like them?” Then there’s the “OK, they seem nice. But I’ll stick close to my group just in case.” Then you see “These are the best people in the world!”

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The name game

Have you ever clicked on a link and then really wished you could unsee whatever it was you clicked on?

That’s how I felt when I clicked on a story about the most popular baby names this year, according to one website.

Yes, I know it’s just one site. Rationally I know that it’s not a representative sample and it doesn’t mean that our daughter is doomed to be surrounded by other girls with the same name.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

This Too Shall Pass

Today I went and hung out with a dear friend of mine and her six week old at the hospital. Her sweet boy was born with a heart condition where he has SVT episodes, sending his heart rate into the high 200s. Thankfully his condition is not life threatening and he will very likely grow up and live a pretty normal life and be a healthy little kid. But the past six weeks they have been in and out of the hospital as they try to figure out his meds to get the episodes under control.  I went up today just be a support, since her husband is out of town, and plus it gave me the chance to love on that sweet guy!

While walking through the halls of the hospital, especially the floor he was on gave me flashbacks to when my own little boy Henry was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth. Seeing the giraffe beds and hearing the alarms go off on the O2 Sat monitors reminded me of those long eight weeks.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mango Berry Yogurt Pops

These yogurt pops are great alternatives to standard sugary popsicles found in the freezer section of your grocery store.  Totally kid friendly, but will satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth -- regardless of age!

Mango Berry Yogurt Pops
Makes: 6 (4-oz.) pops

1 small ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
1 mango, peeled and cut off the pit
1 cup frozen strawberries or 1 cup frozen blueberries
2 cups non-fat plain yogurt
2 tbsp. honey

1. Combine banana and remaining ingredients in food processor or blender; process until smooth.
2. Divide mixture evenly among 6 plastic molds or small paper cups. Freeze pops 10 minutes; insert popsicle stick or small plastic spoon into center of each. Freeze pops at least 3 hours or until frozen solid.
3. Run each mold under warm water. Gently pull each pop from mold or peel paper away. Serve immediately.

Amber Massey is a registered dietitian for the Executive Health Program at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth and Mom to twin girls.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Becoming Television Aware

In the last couple weeks something has changed … something big.

Elliot – now two years, four months old – became aware of the existence of television.

I can pinpoint the exact day, and I will never forget it. Everything was normal – Elliot was playing on the floor, I was watching a Rangers game, and suddenly he looked right at me and said, “I don’t like this,” pointing at the TV.

I can’t say we were totally unprepared for this moment. For reasons I will never understand, twice during our five years of kid-free marriage, my wife purchased a Disney movie on DVD. I’d like to say it was because she liked them, but no, it was that creepy thing where she bought it for the kids we would have one day. I know this to be true because when Elliot was expressing his displeasure with the current viewing arrangement, I was handed 101 Dalmatians and Beauty and the Beast, both still in the plastic shrink wrap.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Straight from the heart

I am so grateful to have a son and daughter that I can trust.  They share things that children will not share with their parents.  For this, I am grateful. 

As the Mom of two nearly grown children I’ve learned a few lessons while they were growing up that have served all of us well over the years.

Parents, build a trust relationship with your children.  Start as early as possible, but start!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My dew from God

Depending on who you ask, some folks need coffee to get them started (happily) on their day, while others prefer a brisk walk or light run. But for me, I only need to see and hear my “dew from God,” to get the day off to a fabulous start.

Our youngest daughter is named Talia. A name of Hebrew origin, it translates into “dew from God.” Months before Talia’s birth, I remember searching the internet for baby names, even into the wee hours of the morning. As I searched, I remembered my Dad telling me years ago, “Your name must have value and true meaning. And if you ever have children, make sure they know the significance of their names.”

So there I was, more than 25 years later, trying to find the perfect name for my second gift from God. My husband had the pleasure of naming our first daughter, Nandi. He agreed that I should name our second child. Sitting at home on the sofa one night, I came across the name Talia using my husband’s iPad. I fell in love with the name and its meaning. Rubbing my belly, I whispered, “Hey, sweet Talia. Mommy loves you, and I can’t wait to meet you.”

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Safety tips for hot summer days

Take one step outside and we all know we’re in for another hot summer.  Goodbye to my beloved sweatshirts for a few months, and hello to flip-flops!

When I was little, other than the occasional trip to the lake (and yes, I did wear the big, ugly May West life preserver!) my favorite cooling activity was playing in the back yard in the water sprinkler with my dog. I would stay out all afternoon if my mother would let me, but she would always call me in because “you’ve had enough sun for today.”  How can that be?  I was a sun-worshipper then, and to this day, there is nothing better than spending the day out on the water in the sun (with protection, of course).  Everything in moderation, right?

But, as with everything, there is a downside -- like overheating, particularly with children.  Infants and children are less able to regulate body heat, and therefore more susceptible to heat exposure.  They have a much lower sweating capacity than adults, and cannot dissipate heat by evaporative sweat and cooling.  To make sure you have fun in the sun during the summer, follow the simple safety tips:

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Getting rid of paci

We knew we needed to retire the pacifier when our two-year-old son, Bennett, started biting his pacifier during the day and puncturing holes in it.  The holes alone weren’t a problem, but at night, when the pacifier no longer sucked, he would get upset with the hole-ridden pacifier and have a meltdown. When faced with that meltdown, his poor sleep-deprived parents would give him a brand-new pacifier. 

Enough was enough, and I was determined to no longer buy pacifiers.  Let's face it—I was a little embarrassed, and we had a newborn. So I started asking friends and family how to take a pacifier away. When is the right time?  With much advice, we started the process about four months ago. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Lesson from the Cat in the Hat

A few weeks ago, I took my daughter to see Seussical Jr. at a local theatre. The show is a scaled-down version of the Broadway show that celebrates all things Dr. Seuss.

The plot follows a young boy as he uses his imagination to explore the world around him. One of the songs near the beginning of the show is set with the boy taking a bath. He starts imagining all sorts of wondrous things, like there's a river under the tub that connects to the sea, and he's suddenly swimming among amazing and strange fish!

Until his parents walk in - Mr. and Mrs. Mayor.

                  Mr. Mayor
                  "JoJo! The tub's overflowed on the floor!
                  The water is running right out of the door!"

                  Mrs. Mayor
                  "The ceiling is peeling! You've flooded the den!
                  Oh, JoJo, I think you've been thinking again!"

Ugh! There it was. Sitting in a dark theatre, surrounded by children and other parents, watching woozits, and listening to bamboozles, I was convicted by a cat in a hat.

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Montessori love story

The campus was idyllic and beautiful: big shady trees, picket fences, playgrounds, and gardens for the children to upkeep. But as we toured the Montessori school with its owner there was something about this serene scene that was bothering me, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

Then she asked: “Were there any complications with your pregnancy? And how did your childbirth go?”

Say what?!? What does this have to do with my son going to your school? Diplomatic ole’ me just answered her questions politely and then powwowed with my husband Brian afterward, only to find out we were thinking the same thing: let’s keep searching.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Summer schedule changes

What is this communication you speak of?

Summer + SAHM (stay at home Mom) + school teacher dad who’s off=__________________

Well, we’re a month into summer break and my husband and I are still trying to learn how to live together! We’ll have it figured out by August I’m sure. But seriously, being in a routine and then having it drastically change is hard. I have had a year of trial and error with handling both kiddos on my own and I have traveling and going out with them down to an art.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Turning in the Mommy Card

Please tell me I’m not the only Mom who has days like this.

One of my most recent text conversations with my sister (a fabulous mom of a teen and twin 10-year-olds – all boys) went a little something like this:

Me: Ugh. Do you ever have days where you just want to turn in your Mommy card and quit?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cool, Entertainment for Hot Summer Days

This year my oldest son, Max, finished pre-kindergarten and is experiencing his first real ‘summer break.’ Since I’m a big time planner, I started working on a summer calendar months ago: camps, swim lessons, mini-school sessions? But as we went down the list I had so eloquently come up with, Max only went for one thing: science camp.

At first I was taken aback. Who would want to sit around for several months with no plans? What kind of kid am I raising? And then it hit me – I’m raising a kid like me. I don’t think I attended one single camp during my summers, but I was a master mud pie chef, an inventor of any outside game that involved running and/or being chased, and an avid living room movie goer.

So, my husband and I thought up a few summer activities that are a little more ‘grass-roots’ if you will. As my son can attest, activities don’t have to be fancy – they just have to be fun!

Here are a few shockingly simple things our 5-year-old son loved:

Monday, July 1, 2013

Traveling Baby

We took our first official long vacation with both of our children last month.

While we are seasoned professionals packing and traveling with our 10 year old, remembering how to pack a baby was something we had to reach into the far corners of our minds to grab a hold of.  There are so many things to remember like diapers, wipes, baby formula, bottles, bottle brush, diaper bag, teething rings, snacks, etc.

Hopefully some of the lessons I learned will help others as they head out on vacation.