January 2nd, 2014

New Year, New DietBet!

Last year, around this time, I decided to start a DietBet. $20 buy in, and the amount I had to lose to win would have gotten me to exactly 50 lbs lost.

And then I got pregnant. And lost by, if I remember correctly, something stupid like a pound and a half.

(Effie, you owe me $20.)

That being said, I’ve had nearly 12 weeks post-pregnancy. I am somewhat more able to cook now that she’s getting on a schedule-ish. And I just finished pumping for good, so I’ll have more time to run and workout. Thus, it’s time to DietBet again!

My game last January was the largest private DietBet game of that month. It made me SO proud and excited since I knew so many of the participants. The pot was $1,220!! 64 players and 24 met the goal loss, thus “winning.” That means that the winners got like, $50. JEALOUS. I’m DETERMINED to win this time.

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They’ve tweaked it a tiny bit- it’s now your “goal” to lose 4% of your body weight in 4 weeks. (There’s also a 10% in 6 months game, which I may consider starting after this one completes.) My Dietbet starts January 8th and will go through February 4th. I made the buy in only $10 so that you can participate even if you can’t drop a ton of change.

You can allegedly sign up using this link, but I’m not sure if that works because I have the game set to private. It’s created so that random people who don’t know me can’t just join, and non-players can’t see any of our game. In the game, you can decide whether or not to share your actual weight with the other players, but know that in my game, no non-players can see any of it.

If the link doesn’t work for you, just comment on this blog post that you want in. You need to give your email to comment, so I’ll have your invite sent to that email.

(And when you join- feel free to invite friends! The more the merrier!)

If you feel motivated to lose 4% of your body weight this month, come join us! If you have any questions let me know. I’d LOVE to have the game get as big as last year’s! That’s why I made the buy-in lower- to make it easier to participate. After all, it’s about losing the weight- the money is just a bonus!

See you in “the game!” I’ll be busy eating tons of crap in my last week of thoughtless eating!

December 31st, 2013

2013... what a year!

I wasn’t going to do a big ole “wrap up” post on 2013, and I’m still not, but I couldn’t let the year end without acknowledging what a crazy and amazing ride it has been.

I spent New Year’s Eve at midnight last year alone. Well not completely alone- I had my three pugs with me. Big Daddy got off work after midnight and we spent some time with friends. I started the new year wondering if we would ever become parents. A month later I found out that we would! That moment alone forever changed my life, and defined our year.

I spent more than 3/4 of the year pregnant. I drank the least amount of beer this year compared to any of the last ten years. This year was filled with stress and anxiety over huge looming life changes, but also crazy amazing joy. The moment I found out that we would have a daughter. Seeing her sweet face on 3D ultrasound. And then of course, seeing her face in person for the first time. Having the moment where I realized I did this, I grew and then pushed out a tiny human. Seeing B as a dad for the first time. So many insanely joyous moments.

Of course the year hasn’t been all highs. The saddest moment of our year had to be two weeks ago, when we had to say goodbye to our sweet pug Harley.

This New Year’s Eve is so different than 365 days ago. I’m with two pugs, instead of three. B is actually home and off work tonight. And most importantly, we have this little Bitty here with us.

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We are so insanely blessed to have such a smart, funny, easy baby. Obviously we’re biased, but she’s perfect for us. We couldn’t have imagined that she’d be as amazing as she is. She’s exceeded all of our expectations and has made parenting feel natural and fun (usually!)

I am sure 2014 will have it’s ups and downs just like 2013. Hopefully, like this year, it will be more ups! As long as we’re together though, I know it will be amazing.

Happy New Year!

December 22nd, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013!

A little early, but my mom (“Nene”) is in town and we’re spending every spare moment together enjoying Effie and the holiday spirit! I wanted to share our Christmas photos with you all (since cards have all been sent!) and send wishes for a happy holiday.

We are so blessed that we were able to get our Christmas card photos taken before Harley left us. Many, many thanks to Ashley from Still Shooting Photography for doing this great Christmas mini session with us!

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I am so thankful we got those sweet photos done in November. Bitty has changed so much since then, so I love having these photos of her to remember that time, and also of all of us together. We’re so lucky to have these photos of her with all of us, including sweet Harley. We will be sure to tell her all about him!

We also got in the Christmas spirit this past week by going to visit Santa! They have a great one at Downtown Disney, and I told him she should be on the nice list because she’s such a good sleeper! She wore an adorable pug onesie from Target, of course. I can’t wait to make this a family tradition for years to come.

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For outfit reference, here she was while we waited in line. It was only about 15 or 20 minutes tops in line, maybe even shorter. Much better than the mall Santa. I love Disney!

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This is already the best Christmas ever, since we got our biggest gift already in October. (Effie… duh.) Can’t wait to see what fun we get to have with her while Nene is here! And since I probably won’t be blogging again until after Christmas… hope you all have a very merry one with your friends and family!

December 20th, 2013

Remembering Harley

Ugh, my heart is breaking. This is one of the hardest posts I’ve ever had to write.

On Wednesday, we had to let our sweet old man pug Harley cross the Rainbow Bridge.

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We’ve had a long road with Harley lately. To start, he was twelve and a half. Never an easy age for a pug. His arthritis was bad and he was having trouble walking, dragging his back legs. Over the last two years or so, Harley had dealt with urinary issues on and off. This year, we did a senior wellness visit at our vet – which included x-ray’s, bloodwork, etc. – because his water drinking habits had me worried he had Cushing’s or diabetes. It turned out he had bladder stones, and was drinking excess water to help dilute his urine. They told us they didn’t find anything else. And so began our many treatments for his stones. Harley went on antibiotics and special food. For a month, he was better. And then he was sick again, just like that. So another month of meds. And again, it came back with a vengeance. I wasn’t happy with our vet’s “throw some meds at it without even seeing him” attitude, so I had a friend refer us to her vet.

Our new vet was great. He did a whole new plan of action- new food, new meds. At our second visit though, we received devastating news. Harley had an abdominal mass. Something no pet owner wants to hear. But worse is how they found out. He had been reviewing Harley’s records from our old vet, and found it noted in the radiologist report. Our old vet had been seeing him for months after the senior wellness check (which was when we got the x-rays, which is why we had a radiologist report.) Somehow, the vet chose not to disclose this to us. I am still furious and trying to wrap my head around their negligence. Regardless- we had to move on. Our last visit, a week before I had Effie, we discussed options to try after we finished the treatment he was on. We had high hopes, but also could see Harley wasn’t the same. Over the last year he had lost a lot of weight and seemed to be moving slower.

Since having Effie, and being home, things were busy but I had time to take the pugs out often. Still, Harley had more accidents than usual. I didn’t realize how bad it was until our nanny started, and I started to see it through her eyes. I had normalized cleaning up pee and poop every single day, but when I stepped outside of our situation I realized how truly bad it was. Harley had maybe 50% control of his bladder at best, and no bowel control. His back legs were giving out (sometimes he would fall while going #2) and he had a hard time getting up, especially after sleeping. His hearing was also horrible. Sometimes we’d call for him and, not hearing us, he would continue to sleep- we’d go to wake him up, always worrying the worst. B and I both worried a lot that he’d pass away. In fact, when I started to realize that he probably wouldn’t come back from this, I began to hope he’d go on his own, peacefully.

The vet had given us options when we discussed Harley not improving. We kept trying medications and food to treat the stones, but we knew there had to be next steps. They wanted to do more x-rays, to compare to his old ones and see what type of stones remained and how they had changed, as well as an ultrasound, to investigate the mass. This would require sedation. For the five years we had Harley, we never allowed him to be sedated. His teeth were bad and probably needed a dental- but his breathing was worse. Pugs are notoriously bad with breathing and can sometimes not react well to being sedated for surgery. Somehow we just believed that he wouldn’t survive something like that. We had been mulling it over- was it right to spend nearly $1,000 to put him under, to see what was going on? If the stones needed to be removed, or the mass needed to be removed or biopsied, would he be able to survive surgery? Would he be able to survive RECOVERY? Seeing Dixie struggle to recover from surgery at about age seven was heartbreaking. I couldn’t imagine how Harles would deal with it.

While we tried to make a decision, we waited to see if there would be any improvement. Unfortunately, in the last week of his life, Harley deteriorated. He could barely get up or walk, and had lost most of his bladder control. He would not realize he was urinating, and would walk around peeing. He was skin and bones- his back felt like a stegosaurus. It was hard though, because he was in good spirits. That was our Harley- always in good spirits with us. (Try to take his food though, and we had another story!)

On Tuesday night, I was on the phone with my mom talking about it, and Harley walked by me peeing blood, breathing heavily. I started bawling and told her what had happened. And she had to gently tell me that it may be time to say goodbye. B and I had a long talk in the morning, and then I had a long talk with our vet about what was best. They agreed that it would be the most humane thing to do, especially considering his recent decline.

When we got to the vet Wednesday evening, he was able to feel Harley’s abdominal mass. Previously he wasn’t able to feel it, just see it on the x-ray. Noting how Harley looked compared to last visit, and how the mass had grown, our vet guessed that the mass was probably cancer. We brought him in with his favorite stuffed toy, Sharky. They gave Harley a sedative to put him to sleep, and then gave us some time with him before they came in and gave him the IV, which was basically an overdose of another sedative. I sat next to him with my arms around him and we told him how much we loved him and how pain free he would be. His tongue was peeking out, something that rarely happened and made us smile. As I was petting him, I felt his breathing slow to the point where I couldn’t really detect it. They came in to give him the IV, and had to try multiple places because his BP was “so low.” They didn’t check his heart until after the IV, but I believe he was gone before the IV even was administrated. As sad as it was, it made me glad we made the decision we did. It showed me that our gut instinct was right, he was not going to do well with being sedated. If Harley had died in surgery, or during the ultrasound, I would never forgive myself for not being with him when he passed.

We had the vet keep his collar and Sharky, it was too hard for us to take them home. We cried hard, and said our goodbyes. The staff were so sweet and sensitive. When we got home, it was hard to see the other pugs. Dixie curled up to the towel we had taken Harley to the vet wrapped in. It was strange to not hear his loud breathing, or his little back legs dragging and making so much noise on the tile and laminate floor. I keep thinking I see pee on the floor when it’s really just a reflection of light. And for the first time, I showered without him sitting right next to the shower, there waiting when I got out. All these realizations hit us like a ton of bricks. They keep hitting us as we discover new ways that we miss him.

His stocking is still hanging on our wall- I couldn’t bring myself to take it down. We had to throw out his leash- it was too hard to look at. We had been living in denial for a while: denial of this not being normal, denial of how sick he was, that he wasn’t going to bounce back from this like he had bounced back from things when he was younger. On his last day with us, I spent most of the day walking around after him, cleaning up bloody pee. I felt at peace that we’d be letting him run free, healthy and whole again. My eyes had been opened- we had to stop being selfish, and let him go. At least for the five years we had him, we gave him a good and happy life.

I wanted to share some of my favorite pictures of Harles over the years with you all.

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Harley on the day we adopted him in October 2008. Purple harness and all! He was so beautifully black and shiny.

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Harley’s first Halloween, a week or so after we adopted him, with our friend Laura. He was one third of the Three Pugmigos! He also looks concerned about the family he was adopted into, since we dressed him up as a pugmigo.

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Our Christmas photos from 2008. Again, he was dressed up (a scarf.)

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One of my favorite photos of him from Mem Day 2009- he used to lay out on that couch like Superman- our friend Connie helped him fly!

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Our engagement pictures in July 2009- giving Harley some love.

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Handsome boy at our wedding in March 2010!

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Giving Harley smooches while having wedding pictures taken. I loved him in that damn tie. He was so proper- he loved being in a tie.

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Meeting my TWINNER at our major pug meetup in October 2010. He got to meet so many of my pug friends from near and far- I’m so glad so many of you got to meet him.

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Rocking a hoodie in November of 2010.

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Being a little devil, January 2011.

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Battling his first urinary issues, at the vet in February 2011.

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Getting to lick an (empty) beer bottle in March 2011 – he had good taste!

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Cuddling with Dixie in June 2011, his #1 cuddle buddy, always.

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Harles enjoying the sunroom when we moved into my in-law’s temporarily, in September of 2011.

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Opening Christmas gifts in December 2011.

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Comforting Dixie after her surgery in January 2012.

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Annoying uncle Jeremy on the ride while we moved to FLORIDA! I am so glad he didn’t have to deal with snow for the last two years of his life.

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He also got to enjoy me working from home for the end of his time with us. Lots of lounging in my office, like here in July 2012.

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After having his tail shut in a door (his doing!) in November 2012- sitting on Dixie, as always.

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With his pal Dixie, in a tie again, for our 2012 Christmas photos.

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Sitting with Aunt Rosie on Christmas Day, 2012.

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Taking bump pictures with me, May 2013.

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Our first picture as a family of six, October 2013.

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Harley’s only solo photo with Effie, November 2013. He was putting her to sleep with his boring old man stories!

It’s so fun, but also so hard, to look at him over the years. He got grayer, and skinnier, but he never ever lost his spirit. On the day he left us, he got a piece of bacon, half a banana, and was so happy. When we opened the door to take him to the car, he tried so hard to walk and was so excited. It breaks my heart, but I also think somehow he knew his pain was over. We hoped to never have to make this decision for him, but we were glad to give him relief.

We loved you, Harles J. Montague Hage, Esq. You brought so much joy and humor into our lives, and we’ll never forget you.

December 15th, 2013

Effie – Month Two

Guess who is ALREADY two months old?

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Month Two

Milestones: This has been a month of amazing progress! Effie has awesome head control (unless she’s tired.) She also is much more aware and will not only look at us, but at things like our Christmas tree or the TV. She’s started really kicking and jerking her legs and arms around, and can better push her paci into her mouth. Her legs are so strong, sometimes it feels like she will catapult herself off of us. And she’s been using her legs to arch her back when she’s fussy or mad. She hates tummy time but will do it – but loves her activity mat and swats at the hanging animals. She also LOVES to chat, smile, and laugh!

Sleep: She’s done a few of the eight-plus hour stretches, but mostly she goes down around 10 or 11, and wakes up around 3, 4 or 5 am. Trouble is, she WILL NOT go back to bed- especially not in her swaddle- after that. So I end up on the recliner, where she will only fall asleep on me. I hope when we transition her out of her swaddle, we can get her to go back down in her crib. Regardless of the hour she wakes up, I know these are still longer stretches compared to some babies, so we’re grateful!

Eating: Effie is probably down to getting only 1/4 of her daily bottles as breastmilk now, as my supply has taken a hit. The time spent pumping isn’t quite adding up to be worth the benefit, so it looks like I’ll be weaning when she’s three months. I feel good about giving her three months of some breastmilk daily. I hate that pumping takes so much of my time, that I could be spending with my girl! Effie is a great eater still, taking around 22-24 ounces a day.

Health: At her 2 month appointment, Effie checked out as happy and healthy! She measured still at 50th percentile for weight (10 lb 14 oz), and 95th-98th percentile for height (23 1/2 inches). She’s such a tall girl! She’s still a little fussy sometimes, and spits up occasionally. She also had a little bump that scared the LIFE out of me, but it turns out it’s super common and it’s just her lymph node. (File under: things that pediatricians should explain to parents before they discover them!)

Worst Moment: Most definitely the 2 month appointment, because she got her shots. Man, they really stab those suckers in. And I still feel like crying when I remember her scream and cry. I am so glad B was at the appointment with me- she was so upset when they gave her the shots. Seeing your baby hurting is just the absolute worst.

Best Moment: Seeing Effie talk, smile, and laugh, especially with B. Something about B makes E just start blabbering away. When she gets in those moods and starts chatting with us and laughing and smiling at whatever we say to her, it’s absolute heaven. Nothing is sweeter. It was also- on a personal note- really awesome to connect with my sister-in-law on a mom level while they visited for Thanksgiving! I feel like it’s brought us even closer now, and it was nice to talk about baby/kid stuff with her while she was here.

Time is flying by and my blog posts aren’t as frequent as I’d like. I’m back to work- and actually am really liking it. It gives me “adult time” and I love being productive and getting things done. Spending all day with E is fun, but I certainly don’t always get that feeling of accomplishment that a desk job provides! I am happy to say the transition was great.

Before I went back to work, many of B’s family members came for Thanksgiving. We had a great time introducing them to Effie and spending time together. Now only Aunt Rosh and Uncle Steve / Aunt Debbie haven’t met baby E. She’s so lucky to have five uncles, four aunts, one cousin, one grandpa, and three grandmas!

E also has the most amazing nanny for three afternoons a week, when B isn’t home to watch her. The nanny, “K”, is super flexible, and has her own grown kids so she is very comfortable with babies. She doesn’t just park in her the swing- she holds her, walks around with her, talks to her, takes her outside, and does activities with her like tummy time. It is the biggest answered prayer that I could imagine.

For the most part, E is the happiest little baby. She’s such a joy to be around! We are the absolute luckiest people to be her parents.

Coming soon- I’ll post our Christmas card photo shoot! I keep teasing it! But I want to make sure all my Christmas cards are out before I share. I also have a very fun giveaway coming hopefully this week! Moms of little girls, check back soon!