Back At It [Fitness Friday]

The time has come. I am 10 weeks postpartum and I am officially trying to lose this baby weight.

I am up about 11 pounds from my pre-Kai weight (closer to 20 pounds from my pre-Evan weight but I assume those days are gone forever). I feel great and I think I look much better at this point than I did with Evan. But I still want to get rid of the excess pounds. After Evan, I assumed breastfeeding would take care of it, but when he weaned at 18 months, I was still at least 15 pounds heavier. So I counted calories and exercised and I lost most of it within a few months.

So what am I doing? The same thing that worked for me last time. I’m using MyFitnessPal (@themichelleerin) to count calories and Runkeeper (@michelleerin) and FitBit to track my exercise. Technological motivation works for me. I also have a friend who coincidentally started doing the same thing on the same day so we’ve been motivating each other (or, at least, she’s been motivating me).

Since I’m breastfeeding, I get to add an extra 500 calories to what MFP gives me, and I have it set to only lose a half-pound a week because I’m terrified of ruining my supply. Because of this, it’s not actually that painful. I can still eat a ton each day as long as I make smart-ish choices.

I’m also exercising regularly. I assume this won’t happen when I go back to work later this month, but for now I am trying to run a few times a week, do a little yoga once or twice a week, and walk most days.

I am hopeful that I can lose the weight in a healthy way without negatively affecting my milk supply. Feeding Kai is, of course, the priority, but moving again and eating better feels great after nearly a year of pregnancy/postpartum lethargy.

What have you been doing lately to get/stay healthy?

The Sunday Salon [8.16.15]

Getting some laptop time in has proved difficult this summer. I thought I would be able to catch up on some blogging but I’ve only managed to get further behind. So here is a catch-up Sunday Salon.


I’ve been reading a little on my maternity leave, but not nearly as much as I planned on reading. It’s not that I lack the time, really. I just lack the energy and focus. I spend most of my time sitting on the couch, watching Pretty Little Liars, and messing around on my phone. Seriously, someone needs to take my phone away if I am ever going to get back into reading.

I am currently reading Everything Leads to You for the book club I cannot attend and listening to the newest Maisie Dobbs. I finished I’ll Give You the Sun, A Grown-Up Kind of PrettyFairest, and started and stopped a few others, but that’s it. I’ve got quite a few audiobooks on deck, assuming that is the more likely format for me these days. But I’ll probably just continue to catch up on the latest mystery in Rosewood.


I started running a little. I haven’t really run regularly since last April (3 months off for my foot followed by the crazy heat and travel of summer followed by 9 months of pregnancy), so I am starting slowly. My last run was only 15 minutes long. But it feels good to be out there again. I’ve got at least 15 pounds to lose, but I won’t really try too hard to lose it for awhile for fear of messing with my supply.


Life is good. Ben is back at work, Evan starts school tomorrow, and, aside from visitors, Kai and I are on our own for a month before I go back to work and he starts daycare. I am very thankful for this maternity leave and even more thankful that it has been pretty low key and relaxing (so different from my leave with Evan). Plus I’ve been keeping up with what’s going on at work enough that I think returning won’t be too shocking.  I just need to figure out how on Earth I’ll manage to get two kids and myself up and ready, get to two different daycare drop-offs, and get myself to work at a reasonable hour. This seems like an impossible feat from where I am sitting. But it might make for an interesting “day in the life of” post.


How have you all been? Reading anything interesting? Ready for the back to school hustle?


 The Sunday

Our Debt-Free Journey: One Year In

Last fall, I shared my debt free plans with you. I explained why I was getting out of debt and how I was doing it. We are now at the one-year mark and still going strong. I can now fully attest that this plan is working and it is helping us achieve our original goals.

How much progress have we made?

We’ve paid off 20% of our non-mortgage debt. My 5-year calculations appear to be quite accurate (the addition of Kai addd a year to my original 4-year plan). In the past year, we threw around 1/3 of our income at debt. And this is while we still lived life and cash-flowed a new baby.

We paid off 3 store cards, 3 student loans, 2 credit cards, and my car. We have 2 credit cards left to pay off and we will be consumer debt free. Only student loans (and our mortgage) will remain.

We brought our monthly minimum payment obligations down by $800. EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS.

And, most importantly, we accumulated NO new debt.

How is life different now?

Well, for starters, we can cash flow every day life. And it doesn’t make us cry. Last summer,  we realized we were living life a little bit in the red each month. We wanted to have another baby but we knew we couldn’t afford daycare at the rate we were going (maybe because of that $800+ in minimum payments?). Fast-forward to today. We have that baby we wanted and when he starts daycare next month, we can write that (not insignificant) check without breaking a sweat. And we still have (a little) extra to throw at debt.

We budget. Every single dollar that comes our way gets assigned a task.

We use cash for things like groceries and eating out, so we know exactly what we are spending and we know how much is left to spend. When that money runs out, it’s out.

We get very limited “fun” money but we still enjoy life. When we spend it, it’s more likely to be on an experience than stuff.

We drive paid-for cars. We don’t have cable.  We clean our own house. We don’t go to the gym. We travel less.

We use sinking funds. Man, this was a game changer. We throw about $800 each month into an account that will eventually pay for things like car repairs, home maitenance, haircuts, clothes, pest control, cleaning supplies. These are things that we don’t need to buy every month but that will eventually require money. There is a few thousand dollars just sitting there in that account waiting to be spent. Ben likes it because he feels less guilty spending the money when it’s already earmarked. I like it because it gives us a hard limit when considering a purchase and prevents us from overspending. When I see a $50 dress but I only have $40 left in my clothing fund, I know it’s time to move on (or save up).

Simply put, we live well below our means now.

What’s next?

We are hoping to pay off the last two cards by early 2016. At that point, we will beef up our savings and retirement contributions a bit before heading right back into the ring and tackling Ben’s student loans.

When we can afford it, we will add in some luxuries, like a gym membership, a housecleaner, and a real vacation. For now, we will keep living this simpler lifestyle. Our money has a more important job for the time being.

One Month

I can’t believe this little guy has already been in our lives for a whole month (why couldn’t the months I was pregnant have gone this quickly?). 

Kai is a ridiculously calm baby. The kid barely cries. He can move his head from one side to the other during tummy time and track objects. He smiled for the first time on Tuesday. He regularly sleeps for 3-hour stretches at night (last night I got 4.5 + 3.5!). He eats ALL. THE. TIME. and I am learning that true nursing on demand is so much easier than trying to watch the clock. 

At this point with E, I was in tears every day. It all seemed so hard. But now I know that babies are actually pretty easy. They just eat and sleep and poop. It’s the threenagers you’ve gotta watch out for. (It might also help that breastfeeding was much less painful this time.) 

Evan has easily adjusted to being a big brother just like he easily adjusts to everything. Ben and I are both home this summer so he is getting a lot of time with daddy. 

I think we’ll keep Kai. 

Fairest [Audiobook Review]

Title: Fairest
Author: Marissa Meyer
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Pages: 272 pages
Audio: 6.7 hours
Year: 2015
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Source: Public Library
Book Rating: 4/5
Audio Rating: 5/5


Fairest tells Levana’s story: how she becomes a wife, a stepmother, and, eventually, a queen. It takes place on Luna and prior to the events of the other books.

My Thoughts:

I usually hate these half-step series installments. This is one of my favorite series and I haven’t read any of the short stories that go along with it. But Fairest seemed a little more legit and a reputable friend recommended it.

Queen Levana is an interesting character to develop. She seems so cold and calculating in the other novels, but this one definitely gives her a little more complexity. I found myself slipping into pysch major mode and trying to diagnose her with various personality disorders. Her story is often sad, but at the same time, she makes terrible decisions that prevent readers from feeling too much empathy. This book was much more a character study than the others, which are much more fast-paced and plot-driven.

I’m now anxiously awaiting Winter’s release in November.

Audiobook Thoughts:

Rebecca Soler continues to do a fantastic job. I recommend this series a lot and I always recommend it in audio.

Welcome, Kai.

I’ve got someone to introduce you all to! Say hello to Kai.

The Stats: Kai William. 6-24-15. 9:31am. 8 lbs 5 oz. 21 in. 39+2 weeks.

The Short Birth Story: I woke up to strong contractions at midnight. I got to the birth center at 3am. My water broke at 9:15am and Kai was born in the water at 9:31am.

The Takeaway: I loved the birth center experience and would highly recommend both it and the water birth to future moms-to-be. Turns out you don’t have to give birth on your back while people scream “push!” at you if you don’t want to.

The Disclaimer: I love birth stories. I seek them out. I devourer them. I love them. I know many people have the opposite approach, so this is your warning to stop reading now.

The (VERY) Long Birth Story: I began having regular, consistent braxton hicks contractions at 37 weeks. All day, every day. I kept waiting for them to turn in to the real thing. And waiting and waiting. On Sunday, after nearly two weeks of this, I started feeling them get stronger and felt some cramping. This got stronger on Monday and stronger again on Tuesday. My mom was scheduled to arrive on Tuesday, so I was hoping they’d hold off. She arrived at 4pm, we went out to dinner, and by the time I went to bed at 10:30, I knew I was going to be having a baby the following day. (Seriously, I’m going to start marketing my mom has an induction method. Forget castor oil, just buy this woman a plane ticket).

Sure enough, at midnight (early Wednesday morning), I woke up to REAL contractions. I tried to sleep through them but couldn’t. They were 8-10 minutes apart so I knew I had time, but with Evan, I never hit that 4 minute stride they want you to hit. I also knew I needed to get to the birth center 4 hours before delivering if I wanted the antibiotics (I was GBS+). At 2:30, when I was sure the weren’t going away, I called my midwife. She told me to start heading her way. We packed our bags, let my mom know she needed to watch Evan, and headed in.

When I got there, the midwife and student midwife immediately got me my first dose of IV antibiotics. They asked if I wanted a cervical check but, having arrived at the hospital at 9cm with Evan, and aware I wasn’t that far along now, I was afraid of being disappointed so I said I’d let them know later. So Ben and I relaxed in the birthing suite, watched some Mindy Project, and I think the midwives went to take a nap.

I have been told (with both kids) that I am unusually calm during labor. I mostly just want to lie back and let the contractions do the work. I know most women want to walk around and bounce on the exercise ball and change position, but I just want to sit back. I even managed to doze off, two minutes at a time, between contractions.

At 6am, my curiosity got the better of me and I asked for a cervical check. I was 5-6 cm, which is further along than they assumed based on my behavior. Things picked up quickly then. I got my second dose of antibiotics at 7:30 and by 8am, I was a “stretchy” 8-9cm.

I wanted a water birth so I got in the birthing tub then. The water was nice because I could move around easily. When I started feeling the urge to push, my midwives said to go with it and bear down if I felt the urge. They told me that they expected him to be born very shortly after my water broke. As things got very intense, I said, “I’d like my water to break now.” On the next contraction, it did. (I then asked for a million dollars, just in case I had a superpower). Three pushes later, at 9:31am, Kai was out!

They immediately put him skin to skin, letting him get all of the gunk out of his airway on his own (it’s pretty awesome to watch babies do things without intervention). I wanted to get out of the tub so Ben cut the cord and took Kai (also skin to skin). I moved to the bed and delivered the placenta. They checked my vitals and Kai’s vitals while he was still on my chest and then they mostly left us alone to bond. Kai started rooting around within that first hour so I nursed him. It was all so natural.

My now, my mom and Evan had arrived, but I didn’t want to be nursing Kai when Evan came in. Evan came in when Kai was probably two hours old. That’s when they took the baby and finally (I’m sure that’s the word the grandmothers would use) weighed and measured him. 8 lbs, 5 oz. 21 inches. I thought for sure he was going to be a 7-something pound baby since he seemed so much smaller than Evan (who was 8 lbs 11 oz).

Ben went and got us lunch (Moe’s burrito bowl) while I got stitched up (very small tear, probably just because of my birth history with Evan). Once Kai and I met all of the discharge requirements, we went home. We were home about 6 hours after Kai was born.

I had a good birth expereince with Evan, but I had a great birth experience with Kai. My birthing team was amazing. The midwives were totally hands-off, letting me labor how I chose. This works great for me, since I mostly prefer to be left alone to quietly labor (I guess I should have been a little more vocal because Kai’s head was out before anyone was even aware his birth was that imminent). I was completely involved in every decision that was made and couldn’t imagine going back to a hospital birth after this experience.

I am thrilled Kai is here to complete our family.

Organizing All the Toys

I saw Trish’s Inspiration on Monday link-up and, like many of the fun things that Trish posts about, I decided that was something I should try and it fits in well with my latest past time. I have been in the midst of a pretty hardcore decluttering of the house lately (despite being forever on the waiting list for The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up). I’ve donated bags and boxes of clothes and games and household goods. I’ve recycled nostalgia. I’ve tossed broken things I’m never going to fix.

But one area that I have not yet decluttered is kids toys and books. 8.5 months pregnant means I’m not in the right state of mind to get rid of kids’ stuff. Instead, I’ve just re-organized it.

I find that making sure everything has a home is the key to keeping the mess under control. Lots of baskets and bins and dedicated shelves. I like having toys and books accessible around the house instead of confined to one room (I think my room, the kitchen, and the bathrooms are the only toy-free areas). My house in the middle of a Saturday afternoon looks like a colorful war zone. But by Saturday night, we’ve generally picked it all up. And it doesn’t even take that long.

So, here is what my toy organization looks like.


My greatest creation:



EVAN’S ROOM (I actually like keeping this pretty toy-free)


And, just in case you felt bad that everything was actually picked up, this was the state of my back porch the morning I took photos.

So, what is your toy/book strategy? Do you corral them all into one room, close the door, and stay away? Do you allow the toys to take over the house? Do you take the minimalist approach and limit the amount of kids stuff that comes in the house?

Happy Birthday, E [Wordless Wednesday]

Evan is three!

And we are almost four!

This photo confirms two things: (1) I am HUGE and (2) Evan is physically incapable of standing still for more than .8 seconds at a time.

For Evan’s first and second birthday I hired a photographer to come to the house, do a family shoot, and then stick around and photograph the birthday party. It seems extravagant, but I love photos and I was afraid that if I were responsible for them, I wouldn’t enjoy the party. Plus, it was a good halfway point in the year to update the family photos. But this year, given our tighter budget, I forwent the photographer. And the results are pretty disappointing. I have very few photos and most of the ones I have are terrible. It makes me sad. I am glad that I enjoyed the party, but I wish I had a few more photos to share with you all and with our family who couldn’t be there.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Into Movies

I’m jumping into Top Ten Tuesday today. Because why not.

These are the top ten books/series that I would like to see developed into movies. Now, I live under a rock (with many other working parents of small children) and it is very possible that some (or all) of these are already movies in the making (or were released last weekend).

Newsflesh Trilogy

Hands down the best zombie story I know. And yes, I am including The Walking Dead.

Lunar Chronicles

I am pretty sure I lose people at the words “lunar people and cyborgs,” but words cannot express my love of this series.

Maisie Dobbs series

Perhaps this would make a better series. PBS, probably. There isn’t nearly enough sex and violence for HBO.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone series

Again, I lose people when I start talking about epic chimera and angel wars. But I’m pretty sure that could make some pretty rad movie scenes.

Across the Universe series

This is the end of human civilization movie the current human civilization is missing.

The Selection series

If The Bachelor can still be on the air (is The Bachelor still on the air?) then this could surely succeed at the box office.

Night Film

This would make such a great movie. It even has the word film in the title.

The Illusion of Separateness

I feel like this one would make an excellent Focus Features film.

Shade series

I adore this series. And I want to see all the kissing on the big screen.

Beautiful Ruins

Beautiful scenery + beautiful people + beautiful story = beautiful movie.

The Sunday Salon [5.31.15] – The Home Stretch

Tomorrow marks the beginning of June and 36 weeks of pregnancy for me.

Someone just told me it seems like I’ve been pregnant forever. And, while I can’t imagine what would possess someone to say that to me, I have to agree. This pregnancy has felt long. It has been mostly unpleasant and I’m done. I really am thankful that I am still pregnant (unlike a lot of other people I know who recently had their babies early) and I need to make it 37 weeks to deliver at my birth center. But this baby can come anytime he wants after next Monday.

Thank you to everyone who left book recommendations on my last post. I still have no desire to read but I’m hoping that changes once the baby is here. I miss reading.

Life has remained busy. Evan just turned three and we threw him a superhero party to celebrate.

He also finished up his first year of preschool and is looking forward to summer camp (although we’ll both be home, we are sending him part time all summer). Ben is wrapping up his school year and I’m wrapping up my work before my maternity leave begins. My mom will be here in just a few weeks (she’s trying to make it for the birth but, as mentioned above, I not-so-secretly won’t mind if he comes before that).

June is sure to be an exciting month around here.

Unless this baby waits until July to make his debut.

*cries at the thought*

The Sunday