first trip to the georgia aquarium

Our Christmas present to our nephew Myer from me and Matt was a trip to the aquarium. We had a great time with him! I think he enjoyed seeing all the "fishies." Here are some photos of the trip:


my nephew's portrait

Someone drew this beautiful pencil drawing of my nephew Myer. Isn't it amazing? And look at his photo -- such an angel! That was take on his first day of preschool. :-)


what women really look like working out

I absolutely love this video called This Girl Can! by Sport England, a organization that invests in groups and projects to encourage people to play sports.

It shows women of all sizes working out, showing what normal women really look like. Because it's not this. The CEO made this video because "worries about being judged for being the wrong size, not fit enough and not skilled enough came up time and again."


my trip to baltimore

The weekend after Christmas I went to Baltimore for my cousin's wedding. It was really a wedding reception, because he actually eloped a year ago in Vegas. He and his wife wanted to have a party at the bar where they met. Two of my mom's siblings live in Maryland, so we got to see them too. It was a great time! Here are some photos of the trip. The house in the photo was where Frederick Douglas grew up, and that water is the Chesapeake Bay. And my uncle dressed at Santa. :-)


battling my insomnia

For the past 5+ years, I haven't been able to sleep without taking some kind of sleep medication. I think it's the reason I'm so tired all the time, because of the drowsiness the pills cause the next day. 

I want to try one thing before I get a sleep study done. It's called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT-I), and it aims to improve sleep habits and behaviors by identifying and changing the thoughts and the behaviors that are affecting the ability to allow me sleep well. This all without the use of sleeping pills! I'm going to try it for eight weeks, and then try the sleep study if I can't fix my insomnia.

These are the basic principles. The hardest thing for me will be getting up at the same time every day (weekends will be tough!).
  • Go to bed only when you are tired
  • Get out of bed right when you wake up
  • Get out of bed at the same time every morning
  • Get up and move to another room when sleep-onset does not occur within ten minutes
  • Engage in relaxing activities prior to bed, such as reading, writing, listening to calming music or taking a bath. 
  • Don't do stimulating activities such as watching television, using a computer or smart phone or being around bright lights an hour or two before bedtime.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol
  • Get regular exercise, but avoiding it before bedtime
  • Avoid naps
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and cool 
  • Hide the clock from view in your bedroom
Wish me luck!


the story of the strongest man i know

I realize I have not talked on my blog about one of the biggest parts of my life. I haven't given the story of my dad's stroke, and how that's affected me.

Growing up, my dad (Ron) was completely healthy. Along with the qualities he still has today (funny, loyal, honest, laid-back, generous, kind) he was very athletic. He ran, played golf, and killed it on the tennis court. That all changed on August 20, 2001.

It was Monday of the second week of 10th grade when someone pulled me and my sister Colleen (a senior at the time) out of class to tell us something "happened with my dad's brain." We found out later that day that he had a cerebral

 hemorrhage (specifically a brain stem bleed), or stroke. Everything was a blur that first day with people coming to the ICU to see him, and later to our house to see us. I think my mom wanted me to keep some sense of normalcy that day, because I actually played a volleyball match that day for my school.

The inital reports coming back were semi-positive, with the doctors thinking he might end up recovering, because he was so healthy and young (he was 49). 

The details of what happened next are not totally clear to me, and probably will never be. I know it's too painful to bring up to my family to ask exactly what happened. But I know that one of the neurologists made a mistake by not checking fluid levels in my dad's VP shunt (tube that was put in his brain after the stroke). He ended up getting bacterial meningitis two times. 

We had a lot of support in those first few years, and tried several different therapies and facilities. Some helped, but a lot didn't seem to provide much progress for him. It's hard to say what, or if anything we did, has helped him stay alive for so long after such a devastating stroke. The doctors all say he was lucky to have my mom as a nurse, not to mention both my sisters getting their nursing degrees later on. 

So many people have said my dad is the most inspiring person they know. He has the most amazing attitude despite not being able to do anything independently. He still smiles, laughs and jokes around. Stroke survivors often lose their personality or get rather ornery, but luckily that never happened with him. He never complains, even though no one would blame him if he did.

For the past couple years, I have been taking care of him full time. It's been a truly remarkable experience. He has taught me so much about life and about not giving up. I don't know how much longer we will have him with us. He's 63 now, which isn't too old, but any kind of setback can be fatal for him. 

I can't believe it's been over thirteen years since that horrible day. Our family has had some really rough moments since then. As in, the most unimaginable pain and despair. The physical and mental struggle of seeing a loved one's body slowly deteriorate despite your best efforts at physical therapy is real. 

Yet, we have seen some cool things happen out of this, like when my dad visited heaven last year (post on that to come later). Also, seeing how a community can rally together for one of it's own was really incredible. 

Despite the miraculous things we have seen happen, it's easy to feel like God's not listening. You're thinking, all these years and all these people praying for his one man, how can you not heal him? I won't know the reason until I'm in heaven, and that's hard to grasp.

Unfulfilled expectations can tear up your heart. I asked my dad if he still has hope that he will be physically healed on earth. I was surprised that he said yes. I love that he said yes. I want to strive for a faith like that. 

I told him on Christmas Day that I was so glad to have another Christmas with him. But I also know that "Christmas" in heaven will be so much better, because his body will be fully healed. And that will be an amazing sight to see.


2015 new year's resolutions

1. Get in better all around shape. Meaning not just cardio but muscle toning too.
2. Get in a better "food" routine. This means getting over my grocery shopping hatred, and being more consistent with cooking meals. Learn more simple yet healthy recipes.
3. Travel with Matt. I really want to do a Vancouver to SF drive, a beach trip, a trip to my grandmother's lake house for the last summer before she sells the house, and maybe even another cruise. 
4. Get more involved in my community. I tutored students in a low-income area this past fall, but would love to do something like that again this year.
5. Run two 10Ks and one 5K.
6. Navigate the struggle with family boundaries. This is really hard for me!
7. Be a better wife. Because this should always be on my list.
8. Learn to listen to what God is telling me.
9. Finish The Message in chronological order.
10. Stop talking bad about my appearance.
11. Create a brand and website for my freelance graphic design company.
12. Keep pushing towards minimalism.
13. Learn to say no to things without coming up with a fake excuse. Really hard for me (and girls if I can generalize).
14. Watch less TV.
15. Figure out Anderson baby timing! :-)
16. Figure out why I'm not sleeping well.