Sunday, April 24, 2011


These are the big, heavy-duty yard work garbage bags. And they're full of clothes from my closet. Clothes that don't fit me anymore and that I hope to never need again. I've been hanging on to these size 12-16 clothes for years, knowing that my weight has a tendency to fluctuate wildly and that I may or may not be pregnant again at some point in my life. I packed one bin of maternity and nursing clothes, and one box of sentimental clothes, and the rest went in these bags.

And now my closet looks like this!

It's amazing what a little decluttering can do for your general attitude about life! Ah....I feel like I just took a big deep breath. I need to do this more often.

Good thing I have plenty of other closets in my house that need the same treatment.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Field Trip

Last Friday I took the afternoon off and Brian, Sadie and I went to the Denver Bronco's football stadium, Invesco Field, for a tour. I purchased a Groupon for this tour way back in October and give it to Brian as a Christmas gift. Of course we waited until the day before it expired to redeem it....

This was a really fun activity for us, and especially cool for Brian, who is (and always has been) an unwavering and enthusiastic Broncos fan.

We toured some luxury suites, the press rooms, the Bronco's party room, and the visiting team's locker room (the Broncos don't allow the public into their locker room.)

But the coolest part of the tour came towards the end when we got to walk right out to the edge of the field. It really was fun to be right there where the players are. Having been to several games at Invesco, it was so fun to see it from this vantage point. Sadie was dying to run on the grass, but unfortunately that's not allowed.

It was really fun to do this as a family. And we bribed Sadie to hang in there for the whole tour by promising her pizza afterward!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I made this sweet family of gnomes for Sadie months ago. We started with three and added three more to the group. Sadie loves them and plays with them a lot. Then three of them disappeared for a couple months. And it made us absolutely batty! Finally, a week or so ago, they reappeared (they were hiding in a little-used drawer in our bedroom of all places....). Now they're a family again and I can finally take the photos I've been meaning to since I first made them.

This was such a fun and easy craft. Sadie was fascinated by the process, too, so I was actually able to make them while she was awake and in the same room (which doesn't happen that often as a crafting mama to a two-year-old). I used Carrie Logic's awesome tutorial found here. The materials were cheap and easy to find and these little friends continue to provide a lot of fun for Sadie.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

not yet....

A couple weeks ago, we went to a friend of Sadie's three year-old birthday party. It was a princess party, and since we aren't really in the princess phase yet (not sure how I feel about that, but it sounds like it's somewhat inevitable), we improvised with a pretty dress and butterfly wings leftover from our wedding.

Sadie looked like a perfect butterfly/pixie princess. She slowly warmed up to the party and enjoyed playing with her friend's toys. Then she found her bedroom and her friend's beautiful princess bed. And we pretty much didn't see her for the rest of the party.

Seems like she might be ready for a "big girl bed". I don't think mama and dada are quite ready for that though. She's so nice and contained in her crib. And now that she can open doors, there's no telling what shenanigans she'd be up to in the middle of the night if she had free reign....

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Self Care

I am finding myself in a period of being very mindful of how I take care of myself mentally and physically (not really tackling the spiritually part for now...). I'm amazed at how some recent changes in my life have affected my energy level throughout the day and week, my sleeping habits, my ability to cope with stress and premenstrual symptoms, and my overall feeling of contentment and vitality. These changes include mostly eliminating coffee from my morning routine (with the exception of a weekend morning every once in a while), and replacing coffee with green smoothies most mornings; going to bed around the same time every night, even on the weekends; and frequent and consistent vigorous activity.

I'm feeling very empowered by these changes right now and look forward to continuing to make more positive changes in my routine that will have me feeling better all the time!

This article really resonated with me this morning (and inspired this quick blog post) and includes some great tips that I want to start incorporating.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Big Kid Hike

A couple weekends ago, Sadie and I packed a picnic lunch and headed off to explore an open space park in Castle Rock that was new to us. Memmen Ridge Open Space isn't too far from home...just a 5 minute drive.

Sadie loved having space to roam and explore. I encouraged her to check out anything she was interested in and tried not to impose much of an agenda on the day. Although I brought a carrier to put her on my back (and was planning on it), Sadie wanted to walk the entire way, which ended up being just over a mile. The topography varied throughout the hike and Sadie loved running down the hills.

She played in the dirt...
And gave kisses to all the trees.

We stopped for lunch when she decided she was hungry and then we laid back in the pine needles and listened for birds (and then tried to spot them in the sky).

From my perspective, this wasn't my ideal place to go for a hike. It appears to be heavily used...I noticed litter occasionally, and way too much dog poop near the trailhead. It's pretty much right in town, and so it wasn't incredibly quiet (town sounds were more prevalent than nature sounds). But it was absolutely an ideal place to take a toddler. The loop we took was short enough for Sadie to walk the whole way, and the surface was well-worn and soft without a lot of tripping hazards for little legs. The outing was just long enough, but not too long. In all, we were gone from the house for about an hour and a half and home in time for a nice early nap.

I'm really looking forward to doing this as often as possible this summer and exploring some of the other great trails in our community.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Biggest Losers

Brian and I just took part in a 12-week weight loss challenge with three other couples. It was such a great experience to do this with my husband and with these friends.

In 12 weeks I lost 14 pounds. I'm now within 10 pounds of my final weight goal and feeling better than ever!

Brian and I also joined the Rec Center in our community and I've gone from not doing much exercise (with the exception of my daily 2-mile lunchtime walk), to some really tough workouts including swimming 1200 yards, running 5 miles on the treadmill, and running 3.5-mile hilly runs in my neighborhood. I've also been motivated to try many of the fitness classes offered at the rec center, including spinning, High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.), yoga, and Zumba (which I LOVE!!).

I'm so thrilled to finally be making exercise a priority in my schedule. It's always been a struggle for me because I just don't have the time. But I've really gotten used to (and gotten to where I enjoy) getting up early 4 mornings a week and working out before I head to the office. It's just become a part of my schedule; I have a good routine figured out for getting out of the house that early; and I love the feeling of knowing I've gotten it out of the way! I'm sleeping so much better now and my body feels strong and powerful. I'm setting fitness goals for myself in the coming months to keep myself motivated. I'm going to run the Bolder Boulder (10K) on Memorial Day which I haven't done in years, and I'm pondering this women's triathalon in August!

Brian lost 33 pounds in 12 weeks! He is thinner than I've ever seen him (and weighs less than he's weighed in a very long time). Brian won the weight loss challenge for the males in the group by losing 14.6% of his body weight! I am so proud of him I can't even stand it. I will of course love my husband no matter what size or shape he is, but I can tell how good he feels on the inside and outside and that's what makes me so happy. Oh, and he's barely snoring anymore and that REALLY makes me happy!

I'm proud that Brian and I accomplished this in a healthy way that we'll be able to maintain. We both kept each other in check with our portions (which is a struggle for both of us), and encouraged each other in going to the gym. The food we eat hasn't really changed at all, but we have been making better choices when we're not at home.

This group of 8 adults lost 164 pounds in 12 weeks!!! That's an entire person! Looking at these before and after pictures is so, so inspiring to me. I'm truly thankful to my girlfriends for hatching this crazy plan and asking us to be a part of it. And I am very proud of my friends for their great successes and changed habits. We celebrated in fine style after our final weigh-in with donuts, breakfast burritos and mimosas (and cheeseburgers for dinner), but it sounds like everyone was back on track Monday morning. We're currently brainstorming ways that the eight of us can continue to support each other in the future.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fear Does Not Stop Death, It Stops Life

From Wikipedia: "A phobia is an irrational, intense and persistent fear of certain situations, activities, things, animals, or people. The main symptom of this disorder is the excessive and unreasonable desire to avoid the feared stimulus. When the fear is beyond one's control, and if the fear is interfering with daily life, then a diagnosis under one of the anxiety disorders can be made."

My phobia has a name: Ophidiophobia. I'm more than scared of snakes; I am paralyzed by the thought of encountering a snake. It doesn't matter if it's a 3-inch garter snake, a rattlesnake, or an anaconda..they're all the same to me. I remember being scared of snakes as early as first grade when I couldn't look at pictures of them on the covers of my Ranger Rick magazines, and I vividly remember running screaming out of the room when my classmate brought his bull snake for show-and-tell. I really have come to realize that this is a phobia, rather than a fear. I'm not thrilled with spiders and I don't love the dark...but I'm able to push these fears away. My feeling about snakes is irrational and gradually consuming more and more of my energy in an unhealthy way. I spend more time than I'll even admit here thinking about snakes.

This phobia of mine has intensified throughout my life. I used to happily hike and boat through the desert, and while I may have been a bit jumpy every time I heard a rustle, I still enjoyed the outdoor activities that these locations afforded. At this point in my life, I actually can't imagine going on a river trip in southern Colorado or Utah because of the snake factor. I made a new friend a year or so ago, and she asked me if I wanted to go hiking in Castlewood Canyon, a supposedly amazing and beautiful natural gem practically in my backyard, and I turned her down because I believe that there are rattlesnakes there. I will only go hiking in arid, "desert-like" locations (of which my community is in abundance) during winter months. In the summer I will drive for hours to go hiking or camping in high, alpine regions because I'm convinced that there aren't snakes in these types of places. There's a beautiful, concrete bike path near my house that runs along the creek that I used to love to walk along. One time I saw a snake from afar on the path, and I haven't been back since. Every time I go to a new place, the first thing on my mind is "what is the potential for snakes in this place?". Pathetic. For all of its beauty and its wonderful, transformative power on my life, I really think my favorite thing about living in Alaska was that there are no snakes there. NONE! Four wonderful years of not having to think about snakes. Ever. Ah, that was wonderful.

A couple summers ago, while Sadie was quietly nestled on my chest in her Ergo while I hiked along the Colorado Trail with my family, I screamed so loudly that I made her cry as I ran down the trail after being surprised by a small black snake. I fear that there are times I am not as observant as I should be when doing certain types of field work for my job because I am so worried about seeing a snake. I've woken my husband up too many times to count because I'm screaming bloody murder in the middle of the night after another snake dream. I've embarrassed myself in front of countless people because my reaction to snakes seems over-the-top and completely irrational.

Needless to say, this phobia of mine has gotten much worse as I've gotten older, and it has certainly escalated to a point where I feel like it is inhibiting my life. I also worry about passing this phobia on to Sadie...definitely something I'd like to avoid.
So, I'm currently working with my therapist to address this phobia. We briefly worked on it about 6 months ago, but we've recently decided to revisit the therapy. She is confident that this summer I will playing in the creek bed in Castlewood Canyon with Sadie.

I am by no means an expert on anxiety disorders or appropriate treatments for them (which is why I've reached out to a professional). But I thought it would be interesting to share some of this process here (and hopefully track my journey to a life free from this crippling fear).

My first step was to make a list of my top ten most-feared snake scenarios from most benign (1) to most debilitating (10). Here it is.
1. reading about a snake
2. thinking about a snake
3. seeing a live snake on TV
4. seeing a picture of a snake in a magazine
5. seeing a dead snake
6. seeing a snake in a cage
7. seeing a snake in the wild, from afar
8. seeing a snake in the wild, in close proximity
9. touching a snake
10. having a snake crawl on me

The next step was to spend some time writing the word snake over and over again. Seriously, that was actually an issue at first. But look how many times I've already said snake in this blog post! Progress!

I was also instructed to buy myself a rubber snake. I asked really nicely if she would take care of that task for me, but she insisted that I needed to do it myself. Of course I waited until the last second, and begrudgingly went to a great little toy store near my office. I finally asked where the toy snakes were and the salesperson pointed me in the right direction. I looked at this big display box of rubber snakes..and looked...and looked...and tried to talk myself into just picking one up and taking it to the counter. And I honestly couldn't do it. I finally just took the box to the counter and asked them to please put one in a bag for me. She looked at me rather strangely, but I explained what was going on, and she actually commended me for taking this step! The snake rode in the bed of my truck on the way home; I couldn't bring myself to welcome it into the cab at that point. My therapist LOVES my rubber snake (which she insisted I name...he's Herbert). He's blue. I actually started crying the first time she took him out of the bag. Really. I still haven't touched him and it's been almost a year. Really. Apparently that's happening next week. Not sure if I'm ready. I'm hoping she'll let me start with him just sitting on the couch next to me. That probably sounds crazy to most of you, that I can't even touch a fake, rubber snake. That's what I'm talking about people....irrational fear over here!

My therapist, who I truly respect and trust, is also a very big proponent of the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), or "tapping". EFT is a form of alternative psychotherapy that uses tapping on acupuncture points to reduce the anxiety that I feel in relation to snakes. EFT is supposed to release energy blockages that cause negative emotions by tapping on meridian points on the body. It is dismissed by many people as a being psuedoscientific, but there are also many proponents of the power of this technique for all types of anxiety disorders and stress management. And I'm really willing to try anything.

So, we're also using EFT during this process. We start out by discussing one of the scenarios I listed above, I assess my anxiety level, and rate it on a scale between 1 and 10. Because we've started at the beginning of the list, my anxiety level is usually between a 5 and 7 (just from talking about these scenarios, not actually experiencing them). After going through a series of tapping exercises on various points on my body, I reassess my anxiety level. In all cases, I've found that it seems to have decreased.

The idea is that within a relatively short period of time, my emotional reaction to snakes won't be something that I "hook" onto. I can see that this is the problem. I experience a moment of intense fear whenever I see or hear about a snake, but then it stays with me. If I see a snake on the side of the road, I'm sure that it has somehow gotten into the car and I can actually imagine that I feel it crawling on me for the rest of the day or longer. If I see a picture of a snake, I continue to replay that image in my mind for days, and experience the accompanying fear over and over again.

Apparently, there will also be an actual snake involved towards the end of this process (duh). My therapist's children are going to catch me a pencil snake once we're well into spring. I don't know what that is. I'd google it, but obviously, that's something I'd prefer not to see a picture of.

That's the reason I've put off dealing with this for so long...because I assumed (correctly) that any sort of snake therapy would inevitably involve a snake...which until now I've been unwilling to consider. But whether it's for Sadie's sake, or because I just want to get on with my life, I've really committed myself to addressing this phobia and sincerely hope that I can make some progress...I'm tired of snakes. It's either this, or move back to Alaska.