Happy Anniversary

Today my husband and I celebrate 29 years of marriage.

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WOW!

Where did the time go? We blended two families together-6 kids! We are now 11 grandchildren, 3 great-grand children, and a significant number of significant others (all whom I am  glad to say we love dearly).  It was a great deal of hard work and sacrifices along the way…

but let me go back 29 years…

After dating for almost 2 years, we decided to plan a vacation with the kids. After much research we chose a houseboat on Lake Mead in Nevada. It sounded like a great idea! By this time we knew we were going to get married and in fact had matching wedding bands made. It had come down to settling on the specifics of a wedding. Lake Mead, if you don’t know, it  just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada-and as you probably do know is a hot spot for weddings. It wasn’t much of a leap at this point to decide to elope and allow the houseboat, with all of the kids to be our honeymoon.

Without saying a word to anyone, we made a plan. We didn’t even tell the kids until we were enroute for fear they would not be able to keep such a big secret.  At the time we worked in real estate so the only person who knew was the printer who in advance of the wedding printed up my new business cards. It was how we would spread the word to our co-workers. We told the kids to be sure to pack one nice outfit but due to the rush of last minute preparations I did not follow up on their chosen wardrobe. As a result, we were a bit of a rag-tag looking group for the wedding which did not matter in the slightest.  I grabbed the newest dress I had which my sister had given me for my birthday the month before.

Needless to say, most of preparations for this trip were focused on the things we would need for 7 days on the houseboat. We purchased 56-6 packs of soda (okay, a bit of overkill and math isn’t my best subject anyway),  blow up tubing and toys for the lake, sunscreen, food, games, and all of the expected things one might need in the middle of a lake in the brutal desert in mid August.

As we made our way on the just under 4 hour drive to Las Vegas we announced to the kids of our pending nuptials.  At this early stage in our relationship we were in no way the idea of a blended family but they took the news rather well we thought.  Perhaps they were just anxious to get to the vacation on the lake.  Who knows. There were no cell phones in those days so no worry of them tipping anyone off.  We would make the appropriate calls to family after the ceremony.

When we arrived in Las Vegas,  I settled the kids into our two hotel rooms at the Landmark Hotel (we almost cried years later when this hotel was imploded). Thommmee made arrangements including a limo to pick us up and take us to a cute wedding chapel-the limo ride a real treat for the kids!  Our group somehow managed to pull ourselves together and before we knew it we were standing before a minister reciting our wedding vows . There was no Elvis look-a-like or any other corny theme (well, just my cheesy fake flower bouquet).

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It was just simply a beautiful moment.

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  We were soon off then to a buffet dinner in a hotel I cannot even remember.

With a whirl of activity and before we knew it, we were honeymooning on a lake in confined quarters with a group of kids. I couldn’t have asked for more perfect honeymoon!  The kids still talk about what a great trip it was.

29 years ago already and it has been a beautiful journey. Of course that is not to say it was always easy or even fun, but it was our journey . When people see us with our family now there is not usually a mention of a blended family. We don’t consider them your kids or my kids but our kids-our family.  We believe that God has blessed us and brought us to where we are today. We are grateful, we are thankful.

At 25 years we renewed our marriage vows.

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It only gets better!

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Happy Anniversary to the most amazing husband-my husband-my Thommmee. Here is to the next 29 years!

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Life is a journey…

Like many people, I have the best of intentions of eating right and exercising more. Like many people, I often do not meet my goals-in fact too often throw the diet and bathroom scale out the window! I want to be healthier, I follow blogs and Instagram that offer marvelously healthy recipes, visit websites that attempt to encourage and motivate and like many people have a gym membership that is currently being ignored and a bike that is gathering dust at the side of the house.

WHY????

Oh, I have bad knees, a busy schedule, birthday parties to attend and…well…frankly I have many other excuses too!  I’ll do well for a few weeks at a time but before I know it I am pretty much back to where I started. Maybe not all the way back but far enough.

One day I was catching up on blog posts and came across a posting that caught my eye at Blue Jangmi. She was participating in a Whole Food Challenge. The idea of the challenge is to remove specific items from you diet for 30 days, restart your metabolism,  and change the way you think about food.  When you reintroduce items you can possibly determine if certain foods are causing you problems.  You can then eliminate these foods from your diet. Also, after 30 days, you will have (hopefully) broken your bad food habits and maybe then you can begin healthier eating habits-right? Sounded good. I chuckled and commented to her that although it sounded nice, I just didn’t have 30 days in my life where I could avoid eating certain things and so good luck to her.  She kindly replied letting me know that there was never a perfect time to do something that was important for yourself.

…And I couldn’t stop thinking about it!
…And I decided to do it!

I didn’t talk about my decision very much because, frankly, I didn’t know if I could really do it. What started out to just be a personal challenge with some hopes of success turned into a meaningful journey. I committed to the September 2016 Whole 30 Challenge.

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I relied on Instagram for most of my information, motivation, and encouragement. I began to follow other people who were participating in the challenge and before long not only was I using some of their recipes but I was posting some of my own. I began to experiment and try new foods. Instead of just zucchini and yellow squash I tried acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash. I learned to drink my coffee black, to forgo artificial sweeteners, to create a pumpkin chill that  was husband approved,  and make scrambled eggs with grated sweet potatoes (who knew you could do so many things with sweet potatoes???)

I read product labels for hidden sugars and started using something called coconut aminos instead of soy sauce to enhance the taste of some foods. I stared making my own ghee (a clarified butter) instead of actual butter. Full fat coconut milk and avocados became a part of my diet. No more wine with dinner (for 30 days anyway) or bread…but somehow I didn’t really miss it all much. (well, maybe the creamer in my coffee)

In a short while I noticed changes in the way my clothes were fitting. Since you’re giving up your relationship with food and your scale, I was not supposed to weigh or measure myself the entire 30 days.

Did I actually feel better you might ask? Well, yes and no. I was sleeping better but my joints still hurt. I didn’t have any specific food issues previously so I couldn’t judge changes in that way. I seemed to have more energy and I was not hungry between meals. My favorite meal of the day was dessert and I didn’t ( and don’t) even miss that!! Apples seemed to satisfy my sweet tooth most of the time.

I did feel a sense of accomplishment when I completed the entire 30 days.

I lost 11 pounds and a week later I was down 15 pounds. By November down 20 pounds. Now don’t get me wrong, I have a ways to go. The funny thing is I rather like maintaining this paleo-ish eating style. As we entered into the holiday season I knew there were many eating opportunities/challenges before me  and I took advantage of some (and maybe many?)  But… I needed to remember one of my favorite quotes:

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

So I planned and tried to make choices that worked for me.

During this time, one of my daughters  was busy jumping out of airplanes and challenging herself. She bought a motorcycle. She was learning to make changes in different ways  Her thoughts were if she can do this she can do anything!!  She was an inspiration to me! Anything is possible….

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I am happy to announce she eloped this past weekend!

(talk about moving out of your comfort zone!)

While I had no plans of jumping out of an airplane, don’t like motorcycles,  and happily married to Thommee for almost 29 years, I was excited to see where this journey might take me.

A January Whole 30 Challenge began this month and I jumped back on board.

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I felt the tune-up would help keep me on track after the holidays. It is going great. I will complete this challenge on January 30. I plan to continue on a somewhat Paleo diet. I love zipping up my jeans and tying my shoelaces. While my path might be somewhat modified, I found many people and supporters making this a life mission. They inspire me too! I am in awe of their dedication to good health but I don’t think it will happen for me in quite the same way. We all need to find our own journey and what works for us, right?  It is amazing what a few changes and attitude can make…and we can always learn and grow.

If you would like to review my journey, check out my Instagram. If you are curious about this Whole 30 program, just click on the link.

Any obstacles you are facing these days?

Happy 2017

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Blessings & Flaws

On my way home from the gym this morning I had a thought-I am blessed with bad knees and jiggly arms. You might think I have lost my mind as you read this but please let me explain.

As I finished my workout in the pool and headed to the locker room, I noticed a beautiful woman fixing her hair and probably soon heading to work. As she put on her finishing touches she spoke kindly to another gym member and all of a sudden I was focused on her inner beauty and not how she looked. I soon finished up  and as I headed out, said good morning to a slim and fit woman who merely scowled in return. As I was driving home I noticed an older woman briskly taking her morning walk  and I thought how nice it would be to be able to walk like that. Another walker I observed was obviously very out of shape but she was giving it her all and that is when I had an epiphany!

I have arthritic knees with one knee replacement under my belt and another looming on the horizon. For the most part these aching knees get me where I need to go (even if sometimes not quite where I want to go)! My knees remind me of the many miles they have traveled, the ropes they have jumped, the hopscotch they have hopped, the runs to a crib side,  and the bending and stooping they have endured for the past 60+ years. If they need a little relief from time to time, who am I to complain? I have abused them too. Carried too much weight, not exercised them enough,  and in general took them for granted.

My jiggly arms are part genetics but  mostly too many years of not enough dedicated attention. These arms have hugged loved ones, cuddled babies, waved goodbye, and carried just about anything I have asked of them. I am thankful for their years of service.

So what would my world look like with good knees and firm arms? Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that poor exercise habits are to be commended. Not at all. In fact, I do work out fairly regularly. I am saying this is where I am in life and I have decided these flaws are a blessing after all. I spent years covering up these flabby extremities and now I wear the clothes that I want to wear. In the past few years I have decided to focus on the person I am rather than my physical self. I wonder why it took me so long to figure these things out? Would the sun still rise tomorrow if the world got a glimpse of my arms? Would I be judged by those I care about? I think not. Would I be looked at by a stranger who might snicker? Maybe. If they saw my inner self would it change their opinion? Maybe, maybe not. Does it really matter? I hope not. Can I learn humility and work as hard on being the person I feel God called me to be? Even if this does not fit the image the world might expect of me?

Will my knees still scream for mercy sometimes and will I miss that hike to the top of the mountain? Probably. Will they still carry me to my husbands waiting arms or for a walk along the sandy shore? I think so. If someday they give out all together can I sit along the shore and just enjoy the crash of the waves, sit in a forest and appreciate the song of the birds and the whoosh of the breeze in the trees? Absolutely! Many have endured much more.

Will my beloved Thommmee lean over to offer a kiss? I know that he will.

No, I am still too proud to post a picture of my flaws-so perhaps I still have much to accept. I don’t run and hide when they pull out the camera anymore. I want people to someday reflect on me in these photos…. to remember the mom that  I was, the role of grandmother I so treasured, the friend, sister, wife, and the smile and kindness I offered to those around me. That is my prayer. Let me make a difference and someday be remembered for the person and not the body.

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If we can appreciate the beauty of each flower and not the flaws of each petal, what would our world look like? What have you been blessed with?