34 in 34 by 34 (AKA my new catchy weight-loss goal)

So I turn 34 this year.

At 29 I was not scared of turning 30 in the least. I didn't feel 30. I don't think I looked 30. Thirty didn't sound old.

But for some reason, thirty-four seems...old.

I'm finished with the having babies part of my life. I'm in the home where I will grow old with the man I love. I'm seeing new wrinkles on my face every day, and so it goes without saying that I'm feeling every bit my age. And, well, that just plain sucks.

Could it be because I'm not in the best shape? Can I blame my thyroid? Perhaps the pure exhaustion of raising 4 boys? Sure, probably all of the above. Regardless, I want to feel better and losing weight will help I know.

So because it just seemed to work out this way, I couldn't resist...

My goal is to lose 34 pounds by my 34th birthday. Which happens to be exactly 34 weeks from now! Crazy right?

So as I share my weight-loss journey with the world, cheer me on. Ask how it's going. Share your tips/recipes/success stories. Remind me to workout and to skip the dessert or second glass of wine. I CANNOT do this alone. And I CANNOT wait to post my success story on my 34th birthday!

{Be sure to follow along on Facebook, Instagram and MyFitnessPal}

On Milestones and my Last Baby

Time is moving full-speed ahead, barreling towards Nolan's 1st birthday much more quickly than I had anticipated. In the last few weeks and months he has accomplished new things, reached new milestones and developed his own spirited personality.

When his little gummy smile started sprouting his first teeth, I was thrilled and emotional at the same time. This was the last gummy smile I would call mine. First teeth smiles are just as cute. But it meant leaving behind a small part of babyhood that I'd never get back.

When he learned to push up on all fours, and hoist into a sitting position, I beamed with pride from behind my camera. I wanted to be sure to capture that moment, as I knew it would be another last "first" I would experience as a mom.

Just last week we ran out of formula. With less than 2 weeks until his birthday, we went ahead and made the switch to whole milk, and from bottle to sippy cup. This transition has really been a hard one. Not so much for him, but for me. I will never buy another container of formula again! I will never scramble to fill a dispenser with the right number of scoops and have to pack a leaky bottle in the diaper bag! My wallet will be happy to eliminate that expense, but my heart, I will admit, is a little sad. Our night time routine of rocking him to sleep as he sucked on a bottle in my arms will no longer be. Sure I can still rock him, but he's a little less "baby" and a little more "big".

I realize that it's part growing up, part letting go. Knowing this is my last baby - that these moments will be some of the last "firsts" I will ever experience - my emotions have been bubbling up to the surface with each milestone.

There are so many more "firsts" I will get to watch. Not only with Nolan but with each of my kids as they grow and learn. So I have to focus on the present. Not dwell on leaving things in the past. But it is definitely harder to do that with a last baby. I will try my best. But if you see me tear up when Nolan starts to walk or says his first word, just know that those are bittersweet moments for me. I'll want a high-five...and a hug.
Nolan's Newborn Photo Session Feb 2014
Photo credit: Little White Whale Photography
Family Photo Session Nov 2014
Photo credit: Bellissimo Photography

Nerium Night and Day Cream Review

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has noticed their Facebook newsfeed being overrun with Nerium information. Before and after photos, product deals, representatives sharing their financial goals being met and cars being earned. Part of me wanted to hide every person who continually posted these status updates...but the other part of me was definitely intrigued. When I was contacted by a friend of my husband's who sold Nerium, asking if I would be interested in giving it a try for 30 days risk-free, I figured "why not?"

I posted on Facebook that although I was skeptical, I was excited to try the "miracle in a jar"...a product that was given in swag bags at the Oscar's, Emmy's and Billboard Music Awards. As I waited for my products to arrive, I got a private message from a Facebook friend who cautioned me about the safety of the ingredients in Nerium, particularly the Oleander. I reached out to the distributor, sharing the info I had received, and she was able to ease my fears with a lot of research that seems to indicate the opposite. See video below:

A few days later my products arrived in the mail: two sleek pump bottles with clear instructions. I was anxious to get started on my new skin care routine, and even more anxious to see if I would have the amazing results I had seen plastering my newsfeed. Results like the below:

Nerium before and after 1

Nerium before and after 2

Nerium before and after 3

I've always had pretty "normal" skin. I had the typical teenage breakouts and have probably spent too much time in the sun than would be advised by a dermatologist. But at 33 years old, I will admit that I'm starting to see my age show up on my face. Fine lines, tired and puffy eyes, old redness from past blemishes. It never bothered me until the last few years. So "miracle in a jar" would be my saving grace, right?

First, let me talk about my skin care routine before Nerium. It consisted of wiping down my face with a makeup remover cloth, removing my waterproof mascara with liquid remover dabbed on a cotton pad, and slathering whatever moisturizer was on the endcap clearance shelf at Target. And if I'm being honest, this really only happened about 3 or 4 nights of the week. The remainder of the time I was too exhausted to do anything more than brush my teeth and crawl in bed. 

Once I started Nerium, it felt good to get into a healthy skin routine. Knowing I had just 30 days to see whether it would make a difference forced me to make it a priority. 

On to my initial thoughts about the product...

  • The pump bottles were what I would expect an "expensive" skincare product would like and feel like. I only keep a few things out on my counter in my bathroom because I don't like clutter (everything else gets shoved into the vanity drawers) and this was something that I didn't mind keeping out.
  • The day cream bottle was white and the night cream a dark gray. This made it easy to distinguish between the two.
  • The consistency of the creams were silky, not oily feeling, and light to the touch.
  • They both smelled fresh. Weren't overly perfumey or medicinal.
  • Once applied, it left my skin feeling smooth. It wasn't too heavy (like a mask) but did feel like it was being absorbed deep into my skin.
  • Didn't feel like it stayed "on top" of my skin where I would be worried about it rubbing off onto my sheets or clothing.

  • The pumps had a small little plastic piece inside the nozzle which I discarded in a hurry, before reading the instructions all the way which actually instructed you to keep and replace it after each use to keep the lotion fresh. Ooops. (But it was so small that I probably would have ended up discarding it anyway after a while).
  • The instructions say to use 3-4 pumps per application. I kept stressing about which I should do to prolong the amount of lotion to last the 30 days. I usually pumped the bottle a few times before anything even came out and would count 3 pumps after any amount of product emptied from the bottle. With that as my rule of thumb, I ended up having just enough lotion for the 30 days.
  • The bottles are weighted, which is deceiving a bit. I thought I had much more lotion remaining in the bottle than I ended up having.
  • The price. I am definitely a budget shopper. There are only a few cosmetic products that I am loyal to and spend a bit more on. Moisturizer/wrinkle reducers have never been one of them. Perhaps they should be a priority and perhaps now that I'm "of a certain age" they will become more of one. But at $80/bottle, Nerium is definitely more than I would typically seek out to spend.
Finally, my thoughts on the results...

Overall I was happy with the product. There really wasn't anything that would keep me from recommending it to someone. With that said, there really wasn't anything that would make me want to drop everything and sign up to sell it to my friends and family either. My before and afters are below. 

Personal results - before and after 1

Personal results - before and after 2

When I shared them with my brand rep, and told her I didn't really see much of a difference, she pointed out a slight improvement in my marionette lines (the lines at the outer corners of my mouth), and that my eye area seemed a little less puffy. I was hoping that the little dark spot near my eye would fade a bit, which she said sometimes dark spots seem to get a little darker initially before they really start to fade. She assured me that 30 days is just a "start" and that if I continued using the product, I would definitely see a more dramatic difference. 

I think I would be interested in finding out...if only my pocketbook could afford it...

Nerium Firm dealI do encourage others to give it a try - especially because there is a 30 day money back guarantee. You really have nothing to lose, and may just find your "miracle in a jar"!

If you are interested, contact Jessica Stewart (sscakedesign@yahoo.com) or visit her webpage: jessicastewart.nerium.com

I am hoping to give the Nerium Firm a try soon. As I recently mentioned on my Facebook page, I have decided not to move forward with my "mommy makeover". There were so many factors that went into that decision - and I'm not saying that I won't change my mind again in the future - but it wasn't right for me right now. With that said, I'm ready and willing to try anything that might even slightly improve the look of my post-baby belly. Now if I try it and if I'm willing to share before and afters of my belly online is an entirely different story ;)

PS - part of my goal to reclaim my pre-pregnancy body will be on the blog soon! Stay tuned...

My New Years Resolution? To start 2015 with a bunch of "F" words...

I couldn't come up with a single resolution, because I have too much that I want to work on throughout the year, so I stuck with a theme..."F" words:

  1. FAITH - As my kids get older, I want to make sure they are exploring their faith in a way that is meaningful. Ricky and I have made it our goal to attend mass every week despite our reluctance to do so with 4 small children in tow. When we do go, our time is typically spent tag-teaming for bathroom trips or diaper changes or wrestling with a squirmy/noisy baby. We often look at each other afterwards and say "what's the point?" We rarely get a chance to truly listen to the readings or homily and leave feeling disappointed and frustrated...which I'm pretty sure is NOT what the purpose of church is supposed to be. However, I realize that the point is that our kids see that even though it isn't "easy", we still make the effort to be present. An important lesson all around.

  2. FAMILY - As Nolan approaches his 1st birthday (OMG, seriously?!?!) it is not lost on me that time truly does go by way too fast. We spent the better part of 2014 trying to find our footing from all of the life changes we endured (living separately, the move, baby #4, getting settled into our new home). Now that we are finally planting our roots, I feel like we can take a deep breath knowing none of that is on the horizon for us this year. I want to focus on the fun. The making memories. The spending more time together...unplugged. Things as simple as family dinners every night, trying something new once a month, or special one-on-one "dates" throughout the year. I want my boys to understand the special bond that is family.

  3. FITNESS - Because obviously. I'm really excited about the goal I'm setting for myself this year. I'm definitely one who is motivated by list-making and project-naming (see: Body After Baby). Next week I will be sharing my 2015 weight-loss goal (and the cute little tagline that comes along with it).

  4. FRIENDS - I've always been a quality over quantity type person when it comes to the friend department. Even so, I am constantly blown away by the amazing friends that have been placed in my life. I am so very blessed indeed. Just like one wants a relationship with a significant other to bring out the best in you and make you a better person, that is also how I know I have good friends surrounding me. Each one of them possesses something that I aspire to be. I want to be extremely thoughtful like my bestie, Audrey. I want to have the strength and composure that Kelly has, the roll with the punches sense of humor like Abby. I want to be faith-filled and patient like Kristin, and carry the confidence to be exactly who I am - nothing more, nothing less - like my friend Maddy. All in all, I want to make sure that each of my friends knows just how important they are to me. If I make them feel that way, then I know I'm being a good friend in return.

  5. FINANCES - I know, a boring way to wrap this up... But with a "big" family like ours, and all of Aiden's medical stuff, money is often on the forefront. I am lucky to be able to stay home with the kids, although it hasn't always been easy - both financially and mentally ;) - but we've made it work. Ricky is a saver...and I balance him out by being the spender in the family...opposites attract, right? But in all seriousness, we have worked really hard to do things the right way. We followed Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University plan starting early on in our marriage which helped us establish some solid money habits. But as our family grew, our savings dwindled. In short, this year we hope to get back on a good track. Save more. Spend less. Give more. Worry less.
Well there you have it...my take on the New Years Resolution. I look forward to what 2015 has in store and to sharing our adventures along the way!

What are YOUR New Years Resolutions?