Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Photographing Special Needs


When I did this session with Milo yesterday I thought to myself that I just wanted one photo of Milo smiling, that's it. I knew it would be hard and I knew it was a 2 person job, so I had Brett tossing him in a giant pile of leaves and I was singing his favorite backyardigan songs to get him to look up at me. when I looked through the photos the first time I was so happy that I got it that one perfect shot, and today I thought I would make a collage of all the extra pictures showing what a true session with Milo was like. I'm so happy I went through the pictures again because I love them all so much. I feel like I captured something so beautiful in him, and this shows me why I love my job as a mother and a photographer so much.



Monday, October 6, 2014

My 5 Year Old

I almost can't believe it. How has my baby grown up so much!? Does time seriously fly this quickly? I need to find a way to slow this down. I don't know how it happened but I woke up this morning and suddenly he looked a million years older than normal.

 

When Milo was born I remember thinking he was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I was in such awe of him. I had waited one miscarriage and one stillbirth for this moment and boy he was worth the wait and the pain. I remember after Oliver had died I wondered why this happened to me and over the years I think one of the many reasons was to prepare me for Milo and all the challenges that come with raising a special needs child. Oliver taught me to value life, and man I value Milo more than anything else in this world.


I always wonder how I would be without Milo. I, of course, will never know, but I do know I'd be worse off. I was selfish, impatient, flawed. He has made me better. He's made others better. He's my sweet boy, and oh do I love him to bits.


I can't believe how far Milo has come. I'm just so proud of all of his accomplishments, but the biggest one is his loving nature. He's so naturally happy and content, and his innocence rubs off on everyone around him. You just can't help but love him.


4 years ago I would've told you the most important thing for Milo to progress in would be his speech. I wanted him to speak to me. I'm so glad things change and that you've shown me what matters more in life. I love you Milo. Thank you for making me better. Please don't stop being you.

Happy 5th Birthday!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I'm Finally Writing a Weight Loss Journey Post

It's finally my turn. I've been waiting to have a post like this for years and now it's here! Get ready for all the good times and bad times.

and of course there will be progression pictures! WEEE!!

This has been a long road for me and weight loss. I'd say it started almost 8 years ago when I had part of my thyroid removed. I had a lump attached to it that made me have hyperthyroidism and because of that I never felt like I had to workout or eat healthy. In fact I could eat as much as I wanted and it had zero impact on my weight gain. So after I had it removed I went from hyp-ER-thyroidism to hyp-O-thyroidism and just like THAT I gained 15 pounds. No biggie though, right? 15 pounds isn't so bad...


After I had Milo I was 150lbs. Then we moved to Cleveland and that's when it all fell apart for me.

Depression...being all alone... eat eat eat

more depression...Milo diagnosed with Autism... more eating

I was about 170 when I got pregnant with Abbott and actually lost 20 pounds from throwing up the entire 9 months. After I had him I was 145lbs. I couldn't believe it! I was so close to when I got married! Only 15 lbs to lose. I was on the right track and then something started happening. I started to worry about Abbott being Autistic. and so began another dark period of depression for me and of course... weight gain. When I took Abbott to his 12 month check up the doctor uttered the words "might have autism" and that we would find out more at his 15 month check up. That was the longest summer of my life. I don't think I've ever been so depressed. It was bad. Really bad. Not the kind of depression where you have a bad day and get mad at your kids and maybe you're so tired that you cry and go a little nuts. It was the type where I didn't care about anything anymore. I didn't want to do things I normally loved and I didn't play with my children... ever. I almost cancelled my birthday party because I hated pretending I was happy and I just wanted to sleep. I would do one thing a day... literally, if I took a shower, that would be my thing for the day. If I made dinner, that would be my thing for the day. I hysterically cried every. Single. Day. Remember that talk at General Conference that Elder Holland gave about mental illness? THIS ONE That was one of those talks that was for me. 100%. I'm sure it was other people too... but it was EXACTLY what I needed.

This is a photo of me in September 2013. I searched high and low for a picture of me at my biggest. It took a while because I became very good at avoiding photos at all cost, but this was me. To give you an even better idea of how large I'd become that shirt that I'm wearing in the picture below is an XL.

At this point I was *drum roll* 186 lbs... 186! I had GAINED 40 pounds after I gave birth. I couldn't believe it. I soon after joined a weight loss competition in September of 2013 and was so ready.

I started to eat less portions and I stopped eating fast food cold turkey. I also stopped eating at night all together... not even an apple or veggies. I started to do Jillian Michaels 30 day shred... or is it shed? I started to find that my hunger at night was going down and my cravings for Wendy's and Chips wasn't so bad. I wasn't thinking about them at all. Everything was working great for me ...and then I broke my pinky toe.

Normal Jenny would've quit. Normal Jenny would've started eating her guts out and been so mad that she couldn't work out at all. I couldn't put shoes on so I improvised a little and did other work out exercises for a couple weeks and then started doing Dance Central. It's a kinect game where I have to basically dance along with the person on the screen and match their moves. I did that for a month and lost 23 lbs. It was amazing. I actually got pretty good at it. Try to challenge me to Justin Biebers "Boyfriend" on "difficult" and I'll waste you! I started to feel healthier and my energy was outta this world. I got to a point where I wanted more, dancing was starting to not feel like enough and a friend told me about Beach Body's Insanity workout. It's a 60 day challenge and it's... INSANE! I knew I'd gotten into something crazy when I did the first workout. I took a picture of myself right after to show everyone on instagram how ridiculous this workout was.

It was a bumpy ride at first. I gained 2 pounds within the first week and figured out quickly that it was because I wasn't eating enough. My body held onto anything it could. I figured out how much I needed and shed the 2 pounds within 3 days and then nothing... FOR 3 WEEKS. I thought I was going to lose my mind. I couldn't comprehend being 163 pounds, clearly overweight, working my BUTT off, eating everything I was supposed to and not losing anything. This is when I learned the hard lesson of "it's not about the scale, it's about how you feel". It's true. Although I wasn't losing anything on the scale I felt leaner and stronger and my energy was like nothing it had been before. I was happy. Truly happy.

Enter second hurdle

...I got sick. DOH! Insanity advises against doing the insanity workout while you're sick and I still tried, but ended up getting worse. So I stopped doing anything for a week and then did a lighter workout (Jillian Michaels) for 2 weeks. GAH! I was so angry. I could feel my muscles disappearing and I couldn't do anything about it because my cough decided to have a linger longer. I ended up losing 5 pounds in those 2 weeks, which I should be happy about but I'm guessing it was muscle.

I'm sure you're wondering if I truly went without junk the entire time and the answer is no. Not at all. I allowed myself one treat a day. It could be 2 potato chips, or a bite of a chocolate bar, or a cookie... and that was it. I asked a friend to deliver some yummy Canadian food when she went across the border and it took me 2 months to get through my absolute favorite bag of potato chips, which in Jenny land would've been impossible. I USED to eat a bag a chips almost everyday! How did I do it? I'd say no... to everything. At parties, at church functions, at birthdays... everything. Sometime people were hard on me for it too! I had a LOT of people try to force me to eat crappy food. "come on! Just this once!" "It's not a big deal!" "Just try a bite!" "Live a little!" I even had someone try to stuff cake in my mouth once. What is wrong with people!?!? Talk about zero support.

I submitted my last weigh in for the weight loss competition on the 24th of December, I had lost 15% of my body weight in 3 months, which was 28 lbs and I couldn't be happier. Guess what? I won!! I almost couldn't believe it because I'm not the type of person that ever wins anything, but I did it. WHOOP WHOOP!

Me on Christmas Day: 157lbs

Did I make mistakes during the process? Definitely. I'm human, aren't I?

Christmas Break. Since I submitted my last weigh in for my competition on the 24th I told myself that it would be okay to indulge and eat a full dish of honey glazed ham, potatoes, and 2 buns, and a delicious dessert on Christmas day. I even had an extra bite of honey glazed ham at like 10:30... PM. I deserved it though, right? I told myself that that was it for unhealthy eating. Then the 30th came... my anniversary. I went and had a HUGE steak dinner. Then New Years Eve came and I went to a friends and had pizza AND dessert. I was losing it. A few days later after I ate a few chips at 9 pm I told Brett that I was afraid I was slipping back into bad habits. He said he noticed I was letting little things go. I realized that I'm NOT one of those people that can have a cheat day and bounce back the next day, maybe someday I can be, but not when I have a massive addiction. There were a few other times throughout the journey where I ate so much food I felt like I was going to puke. I wish I didn't have to place so many rules on myself, but for me it's a must.

I decided to start another weight loss competition with a few friends. The first one worked out well for me, so why not this one? At this point I had just been maintaining my weight, and I started the competition at the end of March and it went til May 18th, Brett's Graduation.

At this point the stress of life was getting in the way of my motivation, we were getting ready to move back home and let's just say I wasn't so hardcore this time around. This was me 2 weeks before the competition ended and I was going to Brett's Senior Graduation dinner. I ate pasta, rolls, salad, and yes... cheesecake. Instead of not eating anything (which is what I would've done the first time around) I stopped as soon as I was full, which ended up being half the plates of each dish. I was still losing weight and I was happy. Who would've thought I could have my cake and eat it too!

Brett's Grad Dinner - 147lbs - May 3rd

The competition ended 2 weeks later and... I won. :) I lost 13.4lbs which was 8% of my weight. I couldn't believe it and I honestly didn't have time to because I was packed and moving 2 days later. When I got to Canada I threw caution to the wind and ate all the foods I had missed while I was away. A coke slurpee everyday. Dutch Crunch mesquite BBQ chips. Cherry blasters. Mr. Big chocolate bar. Tim Hortons donuts. I didn't weight myself for fear but I'm sure I gained 5 pounds within a day.

At this point I was finished all my competitions and really had nothing to push myself for. I also lived within walking distance to a 7-11 which meant slurpees and chocolate everyday. Sobeys was right across the street to feed my never ending dutch crunch chips addiction.I'm not going to lie. I let go a LOT during the summer. I 100% fell back into old habits and there were many many times in the summer where I said "okay, today is the day" and then by 6pm I was in 7-11 getting my fix. It was like I was watching myself fail and was unable to do anything about it. It was so disappointing. I didn't weigh myself for fear, but I knew I was gaining. I could feel it. and more than anything I felt disgusting. Not feeling healthy made me feel depressed.

I went to Edmonton for a part of the summer and stayed with Brett's parents. I forgot that we'd stored a bunch of stuff there and I found my wedding dress! I brought it home with me and tried it on knowing 100% I wouldn't be able to fit in it all the way. I got the zipper halfway up my back which was better then I thought it would be and then an idea sprung forth. Lose enough weight to fit into my wedding dress and as a reward get photos done.


Me trying on my dress when it didn't fit all the way - 145 Lbs
 
I've decided to post this early, before I'm finished completely. I figure a post about losing weight for a whole year is long enough. My next weight loss post will be about the last 10-15 pounds. I know I can do it, I know it's possible, I know I can stop eating crap food and I know I have the willpower. Posting this will be my motivation of what I have accomplished and what I know is in me. 
 
LAST TEN POUNDS HERE I COME!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Late Twenties

I think I'm officially in my late twenties. I could make excuses when I was 28, but you don't get much later in your late twenties than 29. 

Maybe I could say I'm mid-late twenties? Nah. I'm late twenties. 

It feels... strange. 28 felt strange too, but 29 feels... stranger? Winkles are sticking around, my body doesn't hop out of bed, it more moans, and rolls, and fights to stay in bed longer. I seem to injure myself a lot easier, and everything just seems a lot looser and saggy. It was like that before... I think when I had my first child this all happened, but I seemed to notice it a lot more when I hit 29. 

I heard a lot of "treasure it" and "have fun with it" and one "own it". How do I do these things? Complain less? Wow... I'm losing at owning it already. Maybe I'll look at my naked body more and say "it'll only get worse". Maybe I'll smile less to avoid wrinkles. 

What am I even talking about? I don't even know. I guess I feel old already. I'm not sure what turning 30 is going to do to me if I already feel this way. I should probably get a sense of style since I've had 29 years to obtain this and still don't have it. 

I don't even know what this post is about. I'm 29 and I feel strange. It wasn't a special birthday. When you clean up smeared poop twice on your birthday it punches you back into reality pretty quickly. More like beats you half to death back into reality. "Alright! I'm here! put down the switch blade! I know 29 isn't special!".

Maybe 30 will be special? I keep hoping that 30 is awesome. People will look at me with more admiration. I'll be wiser for some reason. They won't question me having children anymore. I'll look down on all the twenty somethings and cackle "Fools! You're all fools!!".

So what can I do with this year so it doesn't seem wasted? Health. Happiness. Hair. I felt like I need to put another "h" word in there. The three H's. Yes. That sounds good to me. 

I apologize to anyone who reads this whole thing. Lots of rambling that I'm posting anyways because I want my grandchildren to either think I'm crazy or that older people being more mature is a sham!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Food Addictions

Food Addictions.

*shudder*

I don't know how bad mine truly is, but I do know that I could wake up first thing in the morning saying to myself "I am going to do amazing today! Salads, low calories, fruits, veggies, moderation!" and the by noon while I'm at the grocery store I'll have a bag of chips in my cart and by 9 pm that bag is almost empty.

When you have a food addiction you really need to mentally prepare for weight loss. It's been a year since my brain was slapped and I decided to finally begin losing weight and I'm at a breaking point. This whole summer has been wasted for me. Stress has reared it's ugly head and it's just too much for me to resist that sweet Canadian chocolate and delicious coke slurpees and my biggest vice... chips. Why couldn't I have been addicted to peas? Chips? Could I be addicted to anything worse? I hear the words "Kettle cooked" and I start salivating.

The worst part about it is I'm not going to change until I choose to. I have to make the choice to go grocery shopping and have the will power to skip the chip aisle. It's all on me...

When you're at the beginning of a giant weight loss journey it's really easy because you have weight to lose... but when you're at the end... and the last ten or so pounds wants to stay longer at the fat party than the rest of your fat guests it becomes discouraging to try!

I hate comparing. It's toxic. I try reaaaaallly hard not to, but when you're the fat sister out of 6...7 if you include my mother... it becomes discouraging. I don't want to be thinner then them... I just want to be equal. It's toxic. I just can't help it.

I think being obsessed with this for a solid year hasn't been the best thing for me. I'm glad I'm finally making progress and getting healthier but I feel like I need a break from it without the consequences of gaining weight back, which I know I've started to.

So what is that thing that slapped my brain into trying in the first place? I don't understand it. I want it back!

Boo to weight loss and food addictions.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Abbott's Echo Lake Week

Abbott was the most surprising of all this last week. Abbott hasn't always been the biggest fan of water. Scared would be the best word. The first couple of days he hung out by the shore and played with the rocks and sand. By the third day he was swimming in the water pushing me away if I tried to help him. You'd often see him blabbing to himself as he drifted around. It was adorable.





At Mom and Dad's he had special time with everyone. Floated around with my Mom, played with my sister and Sang "row row row your boat" with my Dad.



He did great! I was so worried he'd resist the water the whole time, but he was as free as a bird!
I love you Echo Lake!!

Milo's Echo Lake Week


I think I went back and forth about going on this trip approximately 20 times before deciding that I would sacrifice my fun for Milo. I was sure he would die if I wasn't with him 24/7. If I thought that if I slept he'd die. I was sure I would hate the whole experience, and vow to never go again.

Sometimes I love being wrong (key word "sometimes")

Milo's Echo Lake experience was amazing. He ran into the water fully clothed the moment we got there, and basically never left the water besides for meal times and bed times. We would wake up, eat, I'd put his swim suit on, and we'd be in the water instantly... and that was basically his week.


Of course we took precautions. We brought all our door knob locks so he couldn't escape the house, and we put one on his door to his room so he couldn't get out during the night. Anytime he wasn't wearing a life jacket he was inside with someone. I definitely still worried and wondered where he was at all times, but I could actually watch him from shore while he swam with his floaty... something he couldn't do up until this point. Spending all day in a lake will do that to you.


We had one scare the whole trip. It was a bad one. We were all inside for dinner, no one was outside. A child left a side door that I couldn't see opened, and Milo slipped out. No one saw him leave. 2 minutes later he walked in the front door drenched from head to toe. I ran outside and noticed wet foot prints from the dock. We figured he ran out to the dock, went down the ladder (which is how he got in the water the entire time he was at the cabin) and after letting go quickly realized he was sinking and grabbed back onto it and climbed back out. I have a feeling it was scarier than that for him because I attempted to take him out into the water without his life jacket to see what he'd do and he flipped out and clung to me. I was one of the lucky ones this time around. I kept thinking "number one cause of death for children with autism is drowning" and suddenly it hit me that Milo could've easily been one of the dead kids on that ever growing list and I sobbed over and over.

The rest of the week went relatively smoothly. We went to visit my Mom and Dad for a short trip caused to be short because Milo pooped in the pool and they had to disinfect it for the rest of the day. We still had a great time though. He swam, had yummy lunch, Lindsay and her kids where there and so was my sister, Shannon. Looking back now I wish I'd have stayed! It felt too quick before we vanished back to the lake.

The only other trouble we had was Milo figuring out the child locks. It happened our last day there. I woke up at 6:30am to loud noises. I figured it was Milo in the laundry room (that's where we put him). I got up to give him his iPad so I could catch more sleep only to find him in the kitchen pulling a stool up to the snack cupboard.

crap.

This also happened to be when Brett got strep throat and was in bed all day. We left by 5pm to go back home. It was a crazy day, and Milo was starting to get sick too. That's the fun part of autism. Always be prepared to cut your trip down in seconds. We planned for two weeks and went for one. It was still great though. I just knew when it was enough. Brett was on his death bed, and Milo was running away at every moment, and sneezing on everything he could.

It was truly an amazing time, and I would be remiss if I didn't bring up how great everyone was with him. Someone was always there to help me if I needed it, and someone was always willing to play with him (which consisted of him pushing them into the lake over and over). I have to single out Jayna. She stayed with him for a solid hour allowing him to push her in the lake over and over. Waiting patiently when she needed to and helping him out at every moment. The other cousins saw what she was doing and let Milo do the same for them. It started a trend through the week where Milo would push anyone he could into the water and no one could say no to him so we'd all just jump in and watch him jump in after us... or I should say slowly climb down the ladder after us. It was so touching to watch everyone do their best with him through the week. It helped make this trip a massive success.






makes me wish we could stay there forever.I love you Echo Lake!