Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Wedding Night Story: Part Three





***DISCLAIMER: If you don't want to know personal things about myself and my husband, or read words like "tampon", "period" or "sex"........you should just click that handy little "X" right now.  I am past the point of embarrassment, but completely understand that others may not be comfortable with this story. :-)***



I went back to the doctor at the end of August 2010. In case you've lost count, we'd been married 14 months by this point. I had begun to refer to myself as "The Super Virgin" in private.

Also, as a little side note: Never ask people why they don't have kids yet. I can't tell you how many times a well-meaning woman gave a little hint-hint, nudge-nudge to me and had no idea the dagger she sent to my heart. I'm not being dramatic. When you are in the midst of a situation in which you want to have children, but can't, it is so hard to hear even the well-meaning comments. This doesn't mean that you can NEVER say anything about it, but try to know the person you are nudging before you nudge them.

The doctor confirmed what I had already suspected (thank you, Dr. Google):Vaginismus. See? Told you…gross words are happening. Basically, vaginal spasms. My doctor was pretty sure this was caused by the lack of normal exposure all through growing up. My muscles were in shock. Yay. She prescribed Zoloft.

Yep. An anti-depressant. At first, I was like, "Um...whaaat?" But she explained herself. Anti-depressants basically dull nerves in your brain, so you don't feel sadness or anxiety. She was banking on the fact that this would dull nerve endings as well. She told me I would likely lose some or all of my sex drive, but after six weeks, my nerve endings should be dull enough to handle sexual contact. Six weeks. I could handle that.

Those weeks actually passed by much more quickly than I had anticipated. My best friend got married and, contrary to her fear so lovingly passed on by me, did not have the same issue that I had. A friend who had met and married his wife in the time that we, ourselves, had already been married called us to announce their pregnancy. I noticed I was not weepy like I had been. Probably the Zoloft

In November, 2010, nearly a year and a half after we got married, we tried (with low expectations) once again. SUCCESS! I will spare you the details. I don't think either one of us could believe it. To my embarrassment, I blurted it out to my mother-in-law early the next morning... I'm sure she really appreciated that, but I had tell someone! I felt like a literal weight had been taken off of me.

Things began to look up. We found an apartment, jobs, and my Lyme symptoms subsided. I (not wisely) weaned off of Zoloft because we had decided to go ahead and try to have a baby, but to no avail (for five months). It took another three months after I came off of Zoloft, a process that I did not do with a doctor's supervision or my husband's knowledge**. I wanted to see if my body could handle it; and guess what? It could! (**Also, this was a bad idea medically...I experienced ALL THE EMOTIONS AT ONCE.)

After we found out that we were expecting (Molly), my OB/GYN told me that after a vaginal birth, my nerves would reset themselves, and the problem would likely be fixed, permanently. I am happy to say that is how things went! 

We have been married five and a half years. Sometimes it feels like we've been married much longer than that, I think because we were forced to learn to communicate and put aside a large portion of "the honeymoon phase." My husband is the most patient man on the planet, and I am so thankful for him.

I could use this as a platform for discouraging waiting for sex until you're married, but that isn't my point. I'm glad I waited. I think it was the right thing to do. I am (in hindsight) thankful for the challenge that we went through together. It has made us appreciate the normal physical relationship of a husband and wife so much more, and taught us to treat each other as best friends, first and foremost.

I shared my story with a girl my own age who was engaged in our church, right there in the sanctuary! (Sorry, anyone who walked by and got an earful!) I was shocked when she told me that someone she knew had dealt with something similar, but because she had shared it with several of her friends (nurses!), they had helped her figure out what the problem was before it became a major issue!

This is my hope with these blog posts. Consider opening the doors of communication with your daughters, your friends, and the young women in your church. Sex is not taboo. The logistics are something that should be talked about. I never knew that it was possible for there to be a problem (through no fault of my mother's… I was terribly uncomfortable talking about it, myself). I tell my story more frequently now and with less secrecy.


I don't want to pretend anymore, even by omission, that I had sex on my wedding night. I'm proud of our story, and I'm proud of who we are because of it.

Thank you to everyone who has read, liked, shared, posted, commented, and messaged about this story. The support, love, and encouragement have been overwhelming! 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Wedding Night Story: Part Two







***DISCLAIMER: If you don't want to know personal things about myself and my husband, or read words like "tampon", "period" or "sex"........you should just click that handy little "X" right now.  I am past the point of embarrassment, but completely understand that others may not be comfortable with this story. :-)***

Start At The Beginning -- Read Part One HERE



This is where it gets difficult to write. Up until this point, my story could be anyone's story. A girl who waited to have sex 'til she's married. We were a nervous couple.

I don't remember very much from our honeymoon. If I'm being honest, I try to block a good portion of it out of my brain. We had fun, and we enjoyed the beautiful West Virginia mountains, the city of Charlottesville, and historical Williamsburg. But we did not consummate our marriage. 

We tried, and tried, and tried. And tried. I cried a lot. I spent a lot of time in the bathroom, praying and begging God to make me "more comfortable" and "less scared." I didn't feel afraid, but without bringing too much detail into an already detailed story - there was searing pain every time we tried. 

I thought that surely I was just inexperienced, and it would eventually happen. God bless my husband that first time he suggested that perhaps there was something else going on...something physically wrong. I probably yelled at him; I don't remember.

In any rational situation, I should have come home and gone to the doctor. But in my irrational, emotional state, I did what any girl would do: I came home and lied. Oh yeah - honeymoon was GREAT! We totally had sex! Better remember to take my pills - ha ha! 

We moved into our teeny, tiny one-room (you heard me. one. room.) apartment in Lanham, Maryland in July. We went to the D.C. Capitol Fourth and (tried) to make friends with other married couples in our building. It was hard. Deceit was hard. 

In August, I told my mother and my best friend what was going on. My mother insisted that I see a doctor, and my best friend hugged me while I cried. I told my extremely patient husband that he could talk to his friends about it, too, if he wanted. I don't know who all he talked to, but he came back with the idea that maybe I just needed to be a little tipsy. It seemed like a good idea (you know, to a couple who have been married three months and are grasping at straws!) - but didn't work. Searing pain.

I made an appointment in October with my mom's OB/GYN. In November, I saw her. I made my mother go with me. Like, in the exam room and everything. The gynecologist could hardly do her examination without me freaking out. My body had gotten so used to tensing for the pain that it was getting worse.

It was then that we finally got some answers. I was not too afraid, I was not too tense…it was not my fault at all. She told me I was born this way, and would need a procedure called a hymenectomy to remove the muscle that was preventing sexual intercourse. She told us there was a hole the size of a pin-prick. This was why I had unusually long and painful periods (9+ days), and also why I could never use a tampon (though I had admittedly not tried many times). Unfortunately, the surgery could not be scheduled until February, 2010.

Although I was thankful for a diagnosis, the weight of not being intimate with my husband did not dissipate. I was still very secretive, telling only the people I had to tell. This probably made me seem unapproachable and depressed. I was. I was petrified that people would laugh at me for not knowing this sooner, or for not going to the doctor until now. Through all of this, Patrick was loving, patient, and kind. He would spend hours playing Uno or watching movies with me, never once complaining about the situation that we were in, and in return, he had to listen to me sobbing over something I could not change.

It was during this time that I realized a part of my emotional instability was probably coming from the birth control pills that I still religiously took. I think it was to maintain a sense of normalcy. Regardless, it was a waste of money and I laugh at myself for taking them! We discussed it, prayed over it, and decided, after some research,  we really weren't big fans of what it was simulating in my body to begin with.

I threw away the pills and that week, I regained some emotional clarity. I will never take birth control pills again. I don't say this as a judgment on those who do, but for myself, I don't like who I was when I was on them and I don't like what they were doing to my body.

In February, 2010, I had surgery. I was scared out of my mind. It wasn't even a major surgery; outpatient, and I could walk that night! I think part of my fear was from the lack of people who knew about it. I had no one to talk to outside of my immediate family, and even then, I didn't tell my sisters, sisters-in-law, or closer friends from school. Recovery was just a few weeks long, but I was under strict instructions not to attempt sexual intercourse for eight weeks. 

We planned a trip to Williamsburg for Spring Break. A second honeymoon. I was so excited (and nervous!). I got the "All Clear" from my OB/GYN just a week prior to the trip over the phone, as well as a prescription numbing cream, just in case. 

I'll skip the pleasantries and get straight to the point: It didn't work. I was in just as much pain, and now various extremities were also numb from the cream. Which, SIDE NOTE, who thought that was going to be a great idea?!?! 

My longsuffering husband ran out for two giant tubs of ice cream and we stayed up all night, eating ice cream and binge-watching 30 Rock and The Office. Bless him.

I called my doctor and explained what happened. She told me to wait it out, six more weeks, and then come in for an appointment, and if we were still having a problem, she would figure out what to do next.

Meanwhile, we moved back to Salisbury. Patrick's school (where we lived, worked, and attended) was having a financial crisis, and after dealing with many missed and late paychecks, we made the decision to eliminate a stressor in our lives and regroup back with our families. Patrick's parents graciously allowed us to rent a room from them while we got back on our feet. Much of our savings had gone towards my surgery and medical bills.

As if enough wasn't enough, I began to display symptoms of Lyme disease again in the time while we were living in Lanham. I was in denial about it for a while, but coupled with my other issues, my mother was attuned to my daily physical state and insisted that I go to the doctor. My best friend was getting married, I was starting a detox and antibiotic treatment, and we still couldn't have sex. It was a tough time for us.

I went back to the doctor at the end of August 2010. In case you've lost count, we'd been married 14 months by this point. I had begun to refer to myself as "The Super Virgin" in private.


To Be Continued...

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Wedding Night Story: Part One







***DISCLAIMER: If you don't want to know personal things about myself and my husband, or read words like "tampon", "period" or "sex"........you should just click that handy little "X" right now.  I am past the point of embarrassment, but completely understand that others may not be comfortable with this story. :-)***


How do you begin writing something that is so personal that the thought of others reading about it takes your breath away? 

I have thought about writing our story many times. I have discussed it at length with my husband. I've prayed about it. 

Why do I want to write about it if I am afraid? I think, sometimes, sharing your trials with others can be healing. I also want other women to know they aren't alone; there are many variations of my story. I have heard them, now that I am looking for them.

So with a deep breath, here it goes.

There was once a girl who was not very athletic (spoiler alert: that's me). This girl did not do much sports-ing. Her mother encouraged her, once she had reached a certain age, to use tampons so that life did not absolutely freeze during her period. The thought of it grossed her out, and when she tried, it hurt, so she decided that the pad-life was for her.

Fast forward to 2006. This was the summer that my life changed. I had a tick bite and began to have what I now know to be classic Lyme disease symptoms. 

Unfortunately, Lyme disease awareness was not what it is now, even just nine years later. My doctors did a blood test for a whole host of things, but nothing came back positive. I went from being a healthy, energetic 15-year-old to a weak, migraine-y 16-year-old in just a few short months.

I spent much of my next two years battling doctors, diagnoses, and my own denial. There were times that I should have pushed myself harder and times that I should have rested. 

In my senior year of high school, I took a short-term job with a company and moved to Montana for a month or so. I pushed myself very hard while I was there, but with some bad choices and failing health, God made sure that I made my way back home by the end of May, 2008. His Hand is always providential, and though I could not see it at the time, I quickly saw the benefit of His moving me back home.

In June 2008, I met Patrick. His family had started attending my church while I had been away.

Sure, we'd "met" before. I'm sure people are tired of us joking about it, but on the off chance that you're not – Our families both participated in Home School Day at the local skate rink. So, we literally skated in the same circles as kids, although he was part of the "cool kid" homeschool group, and - shocker - I was not. ;-)

I had a photograph of him from high school, when he was a host at Red Lobster and I went with friends, documenting all the while with a disposable camera (as one did, in 2004).

Those who know me know I am not shy. I recognized him, and brought a copy of the photograph the next week. I walked right up to him and introduced myself. We hit it off and spent the rest of the afternoon (a church picnic) getting to know each other. Within a few weeks, we had roped our siblings into spending the summer playing Frisbee golf, mini golf, and board games. 

By the end of the summer, our relationship was official. He asked my dad for permission to court me, and even though he left for college, our relationship rapidly progressed. I thought we were headed towards marriage in a year or two, but in November, he surprised me with a proposal! 

The college that Patrick was attending had a special apartment building reserved for married students. We were thrilled and began to make plans for our wedding the following June (2009). 

I was also formally diagnosed with Lyme disease in the Fall of 2008. Although no tests would come back 100 percent positive, the PA at my pediatrician's office gave me antibiotics in a last-ditch effort to diagnose by treatment. I saw results within a few weeks and he continued the treatment until I was no longer suffering weekly migraines and muscle weakness.

As we got closer to our wedding date, my mother suggested that I go see a gynecologist. I know I am a grown woman, but still, the word gynecologist gives me the heebie-jeebies. I protested - why would I need to go until after I was sexually active? My pediatrician confirmed that really, there was no need for me to go, and they could even supply me with birth control pills. With my anxieties at bay (for a least a few months), we filled the prescription for birth control pills and I began to take them.

I felt myself becoming an angry person. I yelled and cried a LOT. Maybe it was the stress of the wedding? I convinced myself that it was definitely not because of the pills. You couldn't have children in the married housing at the school, so we were not planning on having children until Patrick graduated. 

June 6, 2009. We were married. All of the barriers, all of the rules - gone. I can't describe it to you. It felt insane. We were exhausted by the preparation and the day. It took 45 minutes to get to our hotel, and another hour until the 40 bobby pins were out of my hair and we were both showered. We had to be up early, so we decided to relax and enjoy our first night as husband and wife with no pressure, just lots of snuggling and some blessed sleep.

This is where it gets difficult to write. Up until this point, my story could be anyone's story. A girl who waited to have sex 'til she's married. We were a nervous couple.

I don't remember very much from our honeymoon. If I'm being honest, I try to block a good portion of it out of my brain. We had fun, and we enjoyed the beautiful West Virginia mountains, the city of Charlottesville, and historical Williamsburg. But we did not consummate our marriage. 

We tried, and tried, and tried. And tried. I cried a lot. I spent a lot of time in the bathroom, praying and begging God to make me "more comfortable" and "less scared." I didn't feel afraid, but without bringing too much detail into an already detailed story - there was searing pain every time we tried. 

To Be Continued... 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thoughts On Direct Sales...



(this is important, y'all!)
This is a touchy subject, and a particularly controversial one right now, it seems. I have seen rants and raves on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter about how annoying it is when people post about their direct sales businesses.

I will admit - I used to be mildly irritated by posts from friends about makeup, candles, jewelry etc. (even though I am a Plexus Ambassador! Talk about hypocritical...)- HOWEVER, someone recently said something to me that really changed my perspective on direct sales posts.

I'm paraphrasing here, but the bottom line was this:

We are walking advertisements for everything we use and like - we tell our friends about that great new drink at Starbucks, the awesome shampoo we just started using on our kids, and the shoes we just got from that discount place online. 

The majority of us are not getting a "cut" of the sales that are made directly from our inadvertent advertising. Wouldn't you rather that one of your friends received some income or benefit from your purchase of a Peppermint Mocha or favorite new shampoo?

So instead of being irritated and 'hiding' those you once interacted with, just scroll past the things that don't interest you, and continue to interact with them normally. :) 


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Plexus Slim 7 Day Trial Giveaway!!


So if you know me at all in "real life", you know that I am a Plexus-For-Lifer. I have experienced benefits from Plexus products that I didn't think were possible as someone with an auto-immune disease. 

The best part of being a Plexus Ambassador is helping others feel healthier, too. I was just telling someone on my team this morning that I can hardly talk about testimonies (my own included!) without crying. I just get so emotionally invested!

Without rambling any further, I present to you- a GIVEAWAY! (and the crowd goes wiiiiiiild)
The Deets (I feel like such an old person typing that, but this is my attempt at hip-ness):
1. This giveaway will run until the 15th of October, 2014.
2. Due to shipping restrictions, I may not be able to send this seven day trial to the country in which you reside. If you have a question and are from another country (or if you have a question at all!), send me an email: mackenzeebeth[at]gmail[dot]com (with the proper symbols)

Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting two AMAZING Diamond Ambassadors- Sheila Medina and Sonya Dudley. They are inspiring and so, so down to earth. 


If you would like to learn more about Plexus and their fantastic supplements, go to my website: http://mackenzeemcwilliams.myplexusproducts.com/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Influenster Perks: VS Sports Bra!

Recently, I was given the chance to review the new VS Sports Bra and Cropped Workout Pants by Influenster - for free! I love free stuff, and I love giving my opinion. ;-) Basically, I am a woman....

Anyway, I haven't been much into running or T-25 lately, but have been consistent with a yoga sequence, since that's something Molly and I can do "together". 

I got the below style of Sports Bra, in orange and grey.
Let me tell ya. This is the sports bra to end all sports bras. FIRST of all, whoever had the genius idea to have a sports bra that zips up the front - THANK YOU. This means no more T-Rex arms while you try to shove your head, shoulders, arms and bust into one of the most restricting pieces of clothing possible. 

This sports bra is comfortable enough for me to wear around the house all day..not that I've ever..done..that...or anything. ;-) AND it is very supportive. Almost moreso than my regular bra, which is probably a sign that I need a new regular bra - oops. 

Anyway, if you struggle with finding the right sports bra, this is a good place to start. Well worth the money spent, in my opinion!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Projects Everywhere!



This is short and sweet - here are a few projects and recipes that I have been working on the last month or so!

Recipes:
So if you have ever been to Disney, you will probably know about Dole's Pineapple Whip that you can purchase. DELICIOUS. Well, this recipe did not fail me. We loved it! The consistency is kind of Rita's Ice-ish. Taste - excellent. Eat it quickly, it melts super fast!

We feasted on this for several days. Molly would ask to eat them as a snack or breakfast -- and I may have said yes to that request. :-) Hey, you pick your battles...
I will say, these needed to roast for MUCH longer (like 15+ minutes) than the recipe called for, but I'm sure that has to do with how thick the potato cubes are, your oven, etc. 
But for real - these are amazing.

Mouthwatering. This was easy to make and WELL worth it. SO YUMMY! I took out a burger for Molly before putting the buffalo sauce in for the final cooking stage so that she would eat it. She still didn't eat it...but...you win some, you lose some. She doesn't like chicken unless it's "chick-a-lay".

And now, for a few around-the-house additions. Disclaimer: I got most of these ideas from Pinterest. The original artists are much more talented than I :)

The mirror/window frame was a yard sale find about a year ago, but it was dingy and a 'country' red. My kitchen colors (eventually) will be teal, mustard, and a bright red. So it needed a good cleaning and spray painting. :)
The top right is above the headboard in our bedroom.
Middle canvas is now hanging in Molly's room.
Bottom is a little decoration I made from leftovers of another project and it looks super cute hanging in my kitchen sink window!




Wednesday, August 13, 2014

beautiful soul



There are some people who really just leave an imprint on your soul. You catch yourself thinking about something they said or did, years after the fact, with no real prompting to do so.

This person, for me, is Hailey-Marie Frantzen.

Hailey and I met online in high school. I was a freshman, she was a senior. Because I have always tended to be friends with those older than I, we became bosom buddies from the start. We met through a home school program called Generation Joshua, as I did so many of my friends back then!

I'm certain that we annoyed the heck out of people with our friendship. We were giggly, silly, and all-around obnoxious in expressing our friendship via the Internet. We knew each other's Xanga passwords. I mean, it doesn't get much closer than that in 2005!

Hailey and I only had the privilege of spending time together in person twice. We came from opposite sides of the country and just as I was entering the final years of high school, she was knee-deep in her college studies. This did not lend itself to as much daily conversation as we'd have liked, but we still sent silly messages and made the occasional late night dish-doing phone call.

Hailey passed away in 2011, just a week or so before I found out that I was expecting Molly. She would have loved that news. Hailey had a heart for children and we often laughed over how our someday-daughters would be smart and sassy little girls.

I left Hailey a voicemail just a few days prior to her passing. I don't know if she got it, because Hailey was a very private person about her illness and I didn't know how badly she was doing. She didn't want people to pity her. She wanted desperately to live life to the very fullest, and so she did. She did things that other people with her health problems would not have been able to do, but she was not willing to sit at home and let experiences pass her by. What a zeal for life and love she had!

Sometimes I catch myself in forgetting that she is no longer just a phone call or Skype away. I find myself wishing that I could access and re-read our old chat conversations, to glean a little extra encouragement or catch a joke I might have missed.

But this is not how it works. We can't live in the past. We have to heal from the pain of losing someone we love and rejoice in the knowledge that she whole and well and in Heaven! She is dancing and singing just as she did on Earth, but without the pain that accompanied it. She is probably challenging the decisions of some of our forefathers and trying out cheesy puns on the Apostles.

I leave you with one of my absolute favorite stories of Hailey.

We were visiting our friend Matt in Michigan, and had gone with him to one of his friend's houses for a bonfire. As we were leaving, a party-goer standing out by the cars offered Hailey a cigarette. Hailey politely declined, and as we walked away, her eyes got huge and she grabbed my arm and whispered (loudly- Hailey was NOT a quiet whisperer), "KENZY. I DID IT! I SAID NO TO DRUGS! MY MOM WOULD BE SO PROUD!!!"

Hailey did many things that made her parents proud, and I know she left a legacy for many people even though her time on this earth was short by our standards.

I have written and re-written this post for almost a year now. I struggle because I don't want to make people sad but I also have so much to say about who Hailey was. She was a beautiful writer and I know this doesn't do her justice in the way I would like for it to.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer Pinterest Recipe Round-Up!



I always forget to take pictures during cooking and let's be honest, I dig right in and eat my food as soon as possible, so "after" pictures are just not gonna happen!

Below is a list and commentary of just a few of the recipes that we've been making this summer.

This one is great...if you easily forget what REAL cookie dough tastes like. ;-) It was okay, and in a pinch, it'll do. I'm just not a huge fan of the super tangy aftertaste that even the vanilla version of greek yogurt leaves in your mouth. Aside from that, it was yummy!

So you know how sometimes a recipe will say 'Feeds 6' and then you make it and you're like, "Wait...6 what? Tiny humans with no appetite?' Yeah. Well...trust me, don't double this one. We had pasta salad for days! It was pretty delicious. I made it with whole wheat pasta and added shredded chicken.

I gathered everything for this recipe and my beloved sister-in-law ultimately followed my instructions and put it together. She did a fabulous job! I was worried about Quinoa because I'm not a rice-eater, and I had heard it was rice textured. It was delicious!! We put Pesto Chicken with it and manohman....I'm gonna make it again soon. Delicious as leftovers as well!

Easy and yummy! A bit on the salty side, and not so great as leftovers as the croutons end up getting soggy.

This is probably one of my favorite dishes, ever. It was so tasty! I never knew that I liked Pesto so much before this summer, so now I keep finding recipes with Pesto in it and I'm like - YES!!

Well, it wasn't my healthiest round-up ever...a little heavy on the carbs, but hey - it was pretty delicious! Hope you enjoyed it..let me know how it goes if you make any of these yourself!




Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Influenster GoVoxBox Round-Up

So, a little late to the game on this one, as I took a little (BIG) road trip to Arkansas last weekend for my cousin, Jill Duggar's, wedding. <--- Blog post on this eventually.

A couple of months ago, a friend referred me to Influenster. HOW MUCH FUN IS THIS CONCEPT. You fill out surveys and write reviews of products that you've already used/tried, and then you are eligible to be selected for trying and reviewing products in a VoxBox. 

I was so excited to learn that I'd been accepted to try the GoVoxBox..I may have danced around the house and watched the mailbox like a hawk!


The above is a picture of what I was given to try, but there were also some coupons that I have not been able to use quite yet! 
The ProFoot PediRock is probably my FAVORITE thing that I received. I had my doubts about this one, but the promise of pedicure-fresh feet was too good to pass up, so I tried it. I know some people feel like feet are gross, but...really...this picture had to be included. 

I tried The Vitamin Shoppe NextStep protein shakes (3 flavors - Chocolate, Vanilla, and Berry) and the blender bottle.
I liked the chocolate, but the vanilla and berry flavors were too chalky/metal tasting for me. The blender bottle was awesome at first, but after one wash, it wouldn't seal anymore and eventually broke. So, count me a little disappointed.

The Blue Diamond Almonds in Blueberry flavor? DELICIOUS. I could have eaten a whole tub of these babies. They were so yummy! I actually did share with my husband and daughter...a little bit.

The rest, I don't have photographic evidence of, but I still have opinions!
AquaSpa Creme Lotion (Lavender)- Feels amazing! Not oily at all, and great hydration. The after-smell is a bit musky for my taste.

ProFoot Triad Orthotics- Meh. Take 'em or leave 'em. They were pretty comfy, but not to the point of being an every day must have. If I had tried them out while running (uh...it's too hot for that right now), I may have felt differently. So, stay tuned and I will try them again in the Fall.

Playtex Sport Tampons- I will just say that I prefer the kind that I already use.

So there ya go! I loved being a part of this and hope to have the chance to review more products in time!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Real Style: Natalie



Alright, peeps - time for another installment in the Real Style series! This is Natalie, a young, stylish, professional from Arizona! LOVE her and LOVE her style!!


Natalie's necklace came from Target, but it doesn't appear to still be in stock, so I found something similar available on StoreEnvy.com at a shop with vintage items called Missing Trezures for just $6.55!! 

 Natalie's dress pants are JC Penney's Nine & Co. Modern Fit, which are on sale for $29.99 here! Natalie's tank top underneath the jacket is also from JC Penney, but I am going to assume that most of us already have a go-to tank top for under things like this!

The blazer posed a bit of a challenge, as Natalie originally got hers at Kohl's and they no longer carry them, but I was able to find a similar one for $29.99 at Target, shown below.
Lastly are Natalie's simple earrings - if you don't have a pair of earrings like this - you should! I have about worn mine to death and need a new pair. You can find them just about anywhere, but the most inexpensive deal will be at your local Claire's. :-)

Hope y'all enjoyed this -- I have more outfits from Natalie and will post them soon!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

We're Raising Men and Women



There we were, perusing the toddler shoe section at our local Target, finding the pair that I want for Molly in every size BUT her own. I heard two boys in the next aisle over with their mother and grandmother, trying on boys' shoes. 

After hearing the same noise over and over, I peeked through the empty shelf to see what was going on. The older boy (about 6 years old) was sweeping the open boxes of shoes off the shelves and letting them fall wildly onto the floor. My initial reaction was - 'Oh no, that poor mom! She's having a rough time in Target today!'

The grandmother loudly demanded that the boy stop doing that, but neither of the adults turned to look at him, so he continued. I tried to mind my own business, but it was so hard to ignore them! 

The grandmother, once again, raised her voice to the boy - and it did not one lick of good. The mother continued to shoe shop. The boy swept one more box of shoes onto the floor and, as I peered through the shelf again, I saw the grandmother raise her hand and advance towards him, as though hitting him would teach him to behave. 

The boy dodged her hand and yelled, "COME AT ME, OLD LADY." And that's not even the worst part. 

Guys. Guys. Really. This is serious. I'm not making this up. 

The grandmother and the mother laughed.

They laughed! They thought it was FUNNY. He was still angry and sulking, but they LAUGHED.

I bit my tongue and wheeled my cart (and Molly) far, far away. My thoughts were whirling and even now, I get a little worked up about it.

We all have bad days. We have days when our children showcase a special brand of disobedience that they have saved particularly for Target, in front of strangers. Hey, Molly used to whine, "Heeelllppp meeee!" to passersby from her buckled-up spot in the cart. 

The one thought that keeps rushing through my brain is this:

That little boy will grow up to be a man, and he will potentially interact with my little girl when she grows up to be a woman. If this path he is on continues, he will have no respect for women unless they are physically violent to him (so sad) and even then, he may not take them seriously. I feel sadness for that little boy, and sadness for how he may react to the women in his life once he is bigger than they are.

This post is not meant to be a "Shame on you!" to the grandmother and mother of those two boys, although I wish that someone would say that to them, but it also got me thinking about other behaviors we are fostering in our children who will, one day, be men and women.

I am ALL ABOUT letting kids be kids - just for the record- so take these things with a grain of salt and the knowledge that my 2 year old has many habits and personality traits that need to be molded and shaped and corrected before she hits adulthood and I am not necessarily cracking down on anything past the standard 'share your toys and don't scream at me/daddy/everyone who annoys you'. ;-)


And because this was heavy-- I leave with this oh-so-true e-card.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Happy Birthday, Ashley!


I recently clicked "view friendship", which I've done maybe twice ever since it has been an option on Facebook. I feel like it's a little weird to be able to "view" your friendship, and it got me to thinking.

Friendship shouldn't be totally viewable. Sure, you can post funny or sweet messages publicly to each other, pictures of fun things that you do etc., but ultimately, the strongest friendships are the ones where you privately share struggles, build each other up, and giggle over silly things. 

The vast majority of the time that Ashley and I have been friends (6 years this fall!!), we have lived at least 2 hours apart - man, I wish for the days when she was just a short road trip away! 

We have packed many trials and joys into those six years and I am so thankful that even though there are over 3,000 miles and an ocean between us, we still talk daily and are very involved in 'life stuff'.

Today is Ashley's birthday. Her very first birthday outside of the country! Even though I know that she will have a wonderful day, and I'm sure that her husband and friends in the UK will give her 'special birthday treatment', it's still hard to not be able to be there to celebrate and do those things with her.

Skype, Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram make the distance seem less, but sometimes ya just need to hug your best friend on her birthday!! I love you, Ash!!!!



Monday, March 24, 2014

Clean-er Eating Recipe Round-Up



So with my newfound energy from Plexus, I got super motivated to get rid of our processed food habits! I must say, it is expensive, but not as difficult to make the meals as I thought it would be.

Below are a few that we have tried. All the pictures are from Pinterest because I never think to take pictures of the completed recipe until I'm halfway through inhaling it... ;-) Classy, right?

Breakfast: I am the worst breakfast eater ever. If I'm being honest, I could drink a bottle of water and eat a few pieces of chocolate around 11am and not even feel guilty about it. BUT, with drinking Plexus Slim, I get hungry about thirty minutes after drinking it, so I needed to up the ante in my breakfast habits. Toast with jelly isn't really gonna get me fueled up for the day.

So here's what went into MY frozen smoothie bags: Oats, Sunflower Seeds, Banana, Apple, Kale, Spinach, and Mixed Frozen Berries (will replace these with fresh in the spring!). 

I threw it all in there and put them in my freezer. The next day, I put it in the blender with 1 1/2 cups of Almond Milk and about 10 melted semi-sweet chocolate chips, because...well...it tasted kinda grassy to me. BUT, with the chocolate in there, it tastes so delicious! AND I know that I am getting 45704 times better nutrition than if I were eating, say, just the ten chocolate chips by themselves.

The next two were meals that I made this past week, and they were pretty big hits! I know that they aren't strict clean eating, but hey - it's a process, right? No pun intended.
Penne Rosa with Shrimp. Yum. DElicious. Click here for the original blog post!
Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf "Muffins" - Click here for the original blog post!

I have a few more recipes up my sleeve for the rest of this week, and I will be reporting back on how they have gone over with the toddler and husband!





Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Real Style: Amy


(Scroll over the words to find links to each item!)
Meet Amy - a work-at-home Mom of 2 stinkin' cute kids- from the suburbs of DC. She has a super cool blog and an AWESOME taste in music (hello, she just saw JT in concert. Yep).

 I see this outfit as a take-your-kids-to-the-doctors-office (and let's be honest, Target afterward) outfit.

The jeans are Banana Republic, and you can get similar ones here on an awesome clearance deal.

Here is a similar sweater to what Amy is wearing, available at Kohl's for $27. 

The shoes that Amy is wearing are black Tory Burch 'Reva' flats. They retail for about $225 here, and go with juuuust about any outfit you could possibly imagine.

The scarf was purchased by a friend in Finland, so I'm afraid if you're in love with it - you're fresh outta luck. :-) BUT, lightweight printed scarves are everywhere, so I'm sure you can find one that suits you - for instance, this one from Target for $15:


This second outfit is what Amy refers to as her "work from home but have to run to daycare and want to look like the living" outfit. 


The shoes are the same Tory Burch (see, told you, they go with everything!) flats from above, and the leggings are from Target. I love Target's leggings and have owned probably three or four pair over the past years -- just make sure they stand up to the bent-knee-test. If you can see your skin through them when you bend your knees? Everyone else can see your skin too. ;-) (end legging rant)

The shirt is from Marshall's, but I had some trouble finding one on there, and found this one on Kohl's website that is similar, and for a $10.80! I also found this as a great way to turn this outfit into a Maternity outfit - hello, comfy!!

One thing that rounds out this outfit is Amy's cute bangles and chunky watch. I love to shop at Charming Charlie's for accessories lately, and they have the cutest watches
 

So for the last Amy outfit, we're going simple. Cute, springy, perfect for casual parties, church events, or if you're like me - any day of the week (I love dresses!).
I was particularly excited to see Amy in this Target dress, because I've been eyeing up the one in our local Target for a few weeks. :-)

Again, paired with bangles, watch, and cute sandals or flats - you're good to go!! 

A BIG Thank You to Amy for being willing to ransack her closet for me for this challenge. :-)






Friday, March 7, 2014

Plankin' and Stuff



Use Grammarly's grammar check, because if your blog has bad grammar, I will unfollow you on Pinterest - unless you pin lots of Ryan Gosling memes, in which case I will never unfollow you.

So, as you all know by now, I am a lackadaisical exerciser. I want to love exercise, I really do. But I just don't love it. I enjoyed running last Fall but then it got cold and miserable.

 I got a gym membership so that I could keep running on the treadmill. Let me tell you what...running on a treadmill, while easier on my legs, is B O R I N G. Even with 800 TVs in the gym, I find myself watching the miles I've run and feeling like they are taking forever!

To break up my obnoxious winter lull that I am in, I had a little fun and created a 30 Day Plank Challenge! WOOHOO. Not. I hate planks, but I notice that they seem to do more for me than most other strengthening exercises. I made it cute and pink to try and trick myself into being excited about it. 

Anyway, this challenge starts TOMORROW (March 8th) and ends on April 1st! Sooooo, who's in?



Monday, February 24, 2014

Real Style: Katheryn



An Introduction to this series: Real Style. I would consider myself a fairly fashionable woman. I like to keep in with current styles and ever since my great hold-out of 2002 (last pre-teen not wearing low rise jeans is the title that I've claimed), I have tried to be willing to be open to new styles. 

I can scroll through Pinterest for hours, pinning cute outfit ideas that I have no idea how to accomplish and getting discouraged when I realize the price tag for accomplishing them. So, I decided to do a few blog posts featuring different body types, different walks of life, and different styles on REAL women, and where to purchase the pieces needed for each outfit, as easily affordable as possible!

This is my friend Katheryn. She's gorgeous, right? Not many women can pull off a relaxed but classy look while THIS pregnant...at least, not on a budget. 
Her necklace is no longer available where she purchased it, so I found a similar style for sale on Etsy!
This is the dress, found at Old Navy. Not every Old Navy has a Maternity section (boooooo), but this can be purchased online for $19! (Reg. price is $36.50, which is still not too bad in the Maternity clothing world!)

I found this listing on Etsy for a shop called MaryAnnsWay. The necklace and earring set is only $13!
9" Turquoise Heart Bead Necklace with Matching Earrings


Pair this outfit with cute wedges or strappy sandals, and taaa daaa! There ya go!




Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I've Been Plexused!

Just about anyone who has known me for the past 10 years or so knows that I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease in the Fall of '08 after battling mysterious headaches and insomnia for almost 2 years. 

I did my time with antibiotics and hoped that was the end of it, but it was definitely not. I have been on 8 week stints of antibiotics and other spirochete-killing assistants several times now. In between treatments, I struggle with low energy and multi-day migraine headaches.

To manage the pain and keep a semi-normal level of activity, I've taken migraine meds or excedrin migraine. I HATE prescription migraine medication. It makes me jittery, woozy, loopy, or sleepy - depending on the medication. Not to mention, they basically cost an arm and a leg! 

Excedrin Migraine has been my BFF for the last few years. But really? It's so so bad to take something like that long-term. 

As we started into the new year, my migraines began to become more frequent. I get a little panicky when this happens, because typically it is an indication of a new flare-up. 

My friend had been telling me about Plexus a little bit, and I had also been following some other people's progress on it for a few months, but I was (justifiably) hesitant. 

Finally, after a 3 day long migraine and TONS of research, I bit the bullet and ordered. I decided to go ahead and become an Ambassador for the company because, if Plexus Slim did what it said it could, I knew that I would want to promote it to my family and friends and anyone who would be willing to listen.

After four days on Plexus Slim, I was convinced. I am sleeping better at night (you know, when the 2 year old allows for that...), I have not had a migraine in a full month (unheard of for me), and I'm down 8 pounds and 3+ inches (haven't measured in a few days!). Not only that, but I have WAY more energy! 

Plexus believes that when your body's blood sugar levels, vitamins, and other levels are balanced, your metabolism can do the job it was meant to do without added stress. This makes us crave less sugary things, lose weight, and - for me- NO MORE MIGRAINES. 

Plexus products are made with natural ingredients - no crazy chemicals. DO NOT hesitate to ask me about Plexus! I'm always up for learning more about the products, and the best way to learn is to ask questions!!