Friday, January 30, 2015

You Asked: Miscellaneous

It is the last day of You Asked and I am answering all of your miscellaneous and random questions.

You all really did want to know where I buy my leggings...
Target. I bet you could have guessed that. My "best" leggings are Liz Lange maternity leggings and I still wear them at least twice a week (who doesn't love a little extra stretch in the waistband?) I am on the hunt for better leggings that aren't maternity if you have any suggestions let me know!

Jade and Amy asked if I will ever go back to teaching...
I want to say yes but I honestly don't know. If I do it won't be until DLW retires and we decide where we are going to live and stay put. Changing my teaching license every few years is exhausting and expensive; every state has different testing requirements and fees. I also hate getting attached to a job and having to resign after two or three years. I might substitute teach to make a little extra money but I don't see myself going back to teaching full-time anytime soon.

Emily wants to know where I was a Kappa Kappa Gamma...
The University of South Carolina. Go Cocks!

Heather asked, "If you could go anywhere in the world for one day, but you had to go alone, where would you go?"
This is an AWESOME question. I would go to the Australia Zoo in Sunshine Coast, Australia. I love learning about different animals and conservation. I could easily spend a day wandering around the zoo alone. I would go to the Australia Zoo specifically because it is one of the best in the world and who doesn't want to hold a Koala Bear?

Elizabeth asked, "What is your pet peeve?"
Poor grammar. Now I know I'm not perfect but please know how to use the correct forms of there, where, here, and your. It also drives me crazy when people use apostrophes to make a last name plural (please read this if you're not sure how). I understand that most people have no idea they're making a mistake and I think that's the saddest part.

Mallory asked how I take my coffee...
Decaf with lots of flavored creamer. I get excited when I go to bed at night because I know I get to have my coffee in the morning. I gave up my morning coffee when I got pregnant (but I still drank caffeinated soda) and switched to decaf after Collins was born. It turns out I don't like coffee for the caffeine but because it's delicious when you fill your cup with 1/3 creamer. My favorites are Sugar Cookie (seasonal) and Sweet Cream but I love trying new flavors.

Ashley asked, "What's the best book you've recently read?"
I admit that I haven't been an avid reader lately. I like books that don't require you to use your brain so usually I read Young Adult fiction. I LOVE The Selection Series by Kiera Cass. Right now I'm reading the fourth Crossfire novel (don't judge me). I hope to read 15 books this year so I better get reading!
Thank you all for asking questions and making these Q&A posts so fun to write. I am always happy to answer questions so never hesitate to leave a comment or shoot me an email.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

You Asked: Army Life

Today's You Asked answers are all about the Army. There are plenty of bloggers who talk about military life and I love reading their posts because everyone's experiences are different. DLW and I have been fortunate to have a very positive military experience that has provided countless opportunities and benefits.

Mallory asked how DLW is going to college through the Army and to expand on the details...
DLW was accepted into the Army's Green to Gold Active Duty scholarship program. I wrote a little about the program when he was accepted but Green to Gold allows enlisted soldiers to attend college full-time and commission as an officer upon graduation. DLW was accepted with the active duty option so he is still in the Army but instead of going to work every day, he goes to college! He is taking his academic classes in the evening at National American University and participates in ROTC at The University of Colorado- Colorado Springs.

The application for Green to Gold is extensive and extremely competitive. This past year there were over 2,500 applicants for 172 spots nationwide. Acceptance is based on your Army record, recommendations from superiors, your health, your age, and you must already have 60 college credits and be accepted into a school as an academic Junior. DLW's previous credits transferred best into a business major at NAU and he is enjoying his business and economics classes.

DLW joined the Army right out of high school because college was not financially an option. He has excelled in his nine year Army career and his hard work was acknowledged with his acceptance into Green to Gold. DLW is using two years of his G.I. Bill to pay for college and continues to receive his full E6 pay and benefits (the same pay he made while in the "real" Army). He is essentially getting paid to go to college for free.

Participating in ROTC has been the biggest challenge because ROTC is essentially a college club. Imagine being 28 years old with two combat deployments to Afghanistan and having to take orders from a 19 year old who has never left the state of Colorado. It's been an adjustment to say the least. Luckily there are other ADOs (Active Duty Options- guys like DLW) in his ROTC program that he has become good friends and study buddies with.

DLW will graduate in Spring 2016 and commission as a second lieutenant (the lowest ranking officer). DLW has always been Infantry but does not want to be an Infantry officer. He will get to choose a new Army job for the remainder of his career. After graduation he will attend an Army school to learn his new job and we will move to a new duty station.

DLW got straight A's his first semester and I could not be more proud of him and his ambition to finish his degree. DLW submitted his application for Green to Gold right after we found out I was pregnant and the timing could not have been more perfect. We are incredibly lucky to be home as a family for two years and for DLW to be able to finish his college degree.

Many of you asked how long DLW wants to stay in the Army...
Forever. Okay not forever but he is making a career of it. DLW has already been in the Army for over nine years so he can potentially retire at 38 years old.

He will owe the Army three years when he graduates from Green to Gold but he has to serve ten years as an officer to retire as an officer. So we are looking at at least ten years after he graduates in 2016.

When DLW commissions and signs a new contract he can ADSO (Active Duty Service Obligation) for his choice of job and/or duty station. Each choice will add an additional three years to his contract. It sounds like he is signing his life away but if he is already planning on staying in for ten more years, why not? We hope to move back to Richmond or at least get back to the East coast.

It seems like we will be an Army family forever but in reality DLW will most likely retire before Collins is in middle school. We know these years will fly by and we will make memories with great friends along the way.
Tomorrow is the last day of You Asked and I will be answering all of your miscellaneous and random questions. If you're just catching up, go back and read about blogging, babies, and fitness.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

You Asked: Fitness

So here's the thing. I am not a personal trainer.

I base my information solely off my own experiences and I have no formal training other than my BODYPUMP certification. Although I consider myself pretty knowledgable and I love talking about fitness, please take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Elizabeth asked, "How did you start working out?"
I was a "New Year's Resolutioner" in 2011 and joined Gold's Gym shortly after I moved to Richmond. I would hop on an elliptical until my toes were numb and fiddled around with weights like I knew what I was doing. I didn't have a clue.

Fast forward a few months to the end of August 2011 when I discovered group fitness classes. I had always known classes were offered but I was too nervous to go. What if everyone else knew what they were doing? What if I couldn't keep up? So I went to a group cycle class and hid in the back of the dark room. The instructor (who is now a good friend) was sassy and slightly inappropriate and I loved her. I saw that she was teaching BODYPUMP later that week and forced DLW to come with me so I wasn't clueless alone. I fell in love during that first class and the rest is history. I participated in the gym's group exercise challenge that fall and attended every variety of class available. I started to feel and see changes in my body and found my fitness home.

Ashley and Amy asked for my best fitness tip...
Find what you love. For me it is group classes; I love the social atmosphere and pushing myself to work harder than the person next to me. I will run occasionally but I am never excited to go for a run the way I am to go to a class. I found my niche and loving how I exercise is the only reason I have been able to stick with it. If you hate the treadmill or kettle bells, you're not going to work as hard. Maybe you're into hiking, or Pure Barre, or Zumba- whatever! Try different forms of exercise until you find something you love and do that. 

Elizabeth asked about my workout routine and finding time to exercise while taking care of baby...
Right now I exercise an average of three times a week. Some weeks are a little more or less depending on how many OrangeTheory sessions I have to use (I pay for 8 sessions per month). I teach BODYPUMP on Monday nights and do OrangeTheory on Wednesday and Friday mornings.

Gold's Gym provides free childcare while I teach BODYPUMP so I take Collins with me every week. Unfortunately she HATES it and cries the entire hour; it's an issue we are working on but I hate seeing her so stressed and upset when I pick her up after class. DLW's schedule allows him to be home by 8am after PT so he watches Collins while I go to OrangeTheory.

Three times a week is significantly less than I worked out when we lived in Virginia but it is what fits our current schedule. I would eventually like to add one or two more workouts a week; maybe running when it warms up or teach an additional BODYPUMP class if that is an option in the future.

Emily asked, "What are your favorite workout clothes?"
I am not a fan of spending absurd amounts of money of clothes I'm going to sweat all over; you won't find me in Lululemon. However, you get when you pay for when it comes to workout clothes so sometimes it's worth spending the extra cash.
Tops- I like longer, racer back tanks. I have found some cute inexpensive tops at TJMaxx and Costco. I loved my For Two Fitness tank when I was pregnant and secretly wish I could still wear it now.
Pants- Nike and Victoria Secret. DLW can tell the difference between my "nice" workout pants and pants from Target. Apparently Nike and these VS pants make my tush look fantastic so I stick with those. I prefer pants with drawstrings so I don't have to hike the waistband up in the middle of a run.
Shorts- My best fitting workout shorts are Nike and Old Navy. Old Navy's active wear goes on sale often so sign up for their emails to take advantage of that.
Sports Bras- Target. They are inexpensive, bright, supportive, and don't disrupt my heart rate monitor. I will advise you to get the thick straps- a have two with skinny straps and I bounce all over the place.

Mallory and Ashley asked for suggestions for workout shoes...
If you're just going to the gym, I love Nike Free Runs. I have two pairs and wear them to teach BODYPUMP. However, I don't recommend them for running. If you are going to be running or any high impact exercise, go to an actual running store. The sales associates will analyze your gait and suggest the proper shoes for your feet. I have run in Brooks and Mizunos. I am in desperate need of new running shoes at the moment and will be going to a running store to purchase them. I won't buy running shoes online because each brand and style fit differently.

Janelle asked, "How did you decide it was safe to run during your pregnancy?"
So I say that I was active throughout my pregnancy but to be honest, I didn't do much but lay on the couch the first trimester. I was exhausted and the last thing I wanted to do was exercise. I discussed running and exercise with my doctor at my first appointment and she said as long as I had no bleeding or cramping, I was good to go. I ran once or twice early on and started OrangeTheory at 11 weeks pregnant. I lived by the motto "listen to your body" and had the support of my doctor who was also pregnant and a runner.

Jade asked, "Have you ever considered becoming a personal trainer?"
Short answer: yes. While I don't ever see myself training clients 1 on 1 in a gym, I am often asked for fitness advice. I firmly believe if you are creating workouts and plans for others, you should have the credentials to back it up. I can sit here and tell you about how I exercise but I won't give you a workout plan because I do not have the formal education to safely train you.

Personal training certification is expensive. I will be getting my primary group exercise certification through AFAA next month and that will give me a better understanding of anatomy and kinesiology. I may pursue a personal training certification in the future but I need to find the program that fits my schedule and budget.
I love answering your questions about fitness and helping you make healthy lifestyle changes. Like I said before, please remember that I am not a personal trainer or a doctor and it is important to check with a professional if you have any questions or concerns (especially when it comes to pregnancy).

Tomorrow I will be answering your Army related questions. Be sure to check out my answers to your blogging and baby questions too!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

You Asked: Babies & Family

Gosh you all really wanted to know about babies! Lucky for you I love to over share and am happy to answer your questions about babies and our family today.

Kait asked, "how did you know you were ready to have a baby?"
DLW and I knew we wanted to have kids young-ish (I'm 26 and he is 28) and decided to wait until our first anniversary to "see what happens." My body was all kinds of crazy after I stopped taking birth control and it took longer than I anticipated to get pregnant. I don't know that we every felt "ready" but it felt right to give it a try and we figured it would happen when it happened.

DLW and I talked a lot about the "perfect time" to have a baby and knew there wasn't one. If we wanted until the perfect time, there would always be something that came up. Looking back, the timing of my pregnancy was perfect. DLW was deployed for four months but he was home to buy me tacos during the first trimester and Dairy Queen during the third trimester. We were very fortunate that it all worked out in our favor because there are many military families who are not as lucky.

Ashley asked, "were you nervous how having a baby might change your relationship with DLW?"
My first thought when I saw the positive pregnancy test(s) was, "Oh shit. What did I just do? Did I just ruin everything?" I had two emotional episodes during my pregnancy. The first was over a letter from the HOA and the second was over how everything was changing. DLW and I have a happy marriage and I was nervous that adding a baby to the mix the same week he started full time college would mess everything up. I was nervous we wouldn't have time for each other or for the dogs. I was nervous we wouldn't communicate effectively or that we might kill each other being at home all day.

I am happy to say that none of my fears have come true; having a baby did not ruin everything. DLW and I work together as a team with Collins and make time for each other too. We communicate every day by asking, "what do you want/need to accomplish today?" and we help make those things happen. We laugh when things get challenging and still find time to be husband and wife, not just Dad and Mom.

Shawna asked, "what is your favorite thing to do as a family or 3? As a family of 5?"
Our favorite thing to do as a family of 3 is go out for Saturday brunch. Collins is happiest in the mornings so we meet our friends for brunch every Saturday to get out of the house and get a little adult interaction. We do bath time as a family of 3 most nights and that is our favorite time of day because Collins is giggly and chatty.

As a family of 5 we enjoy walks around the neighborhood (when it's not freezing or icy). The dogs get their walk and playtime while Collins almost always takes a nap. It's a nice time for DLW and I to chat and enjoy a little sunshine too.

A few people have asked recently about how the dogs have adjusted to their new human sister...
Sadie has been in love with "her baby" since the day Collins came home and Layla couldn't care less. We thought it would be the opposite but Sadie has pleasantly surprised us. She checks on Collins all the time and will come running if she hears her cry. Layla doesn't give Collins the time of day. She will sniff her occasionally but is generally uninterested in anything that takes attention away from her. She is a daddy's girl and would prefer is DLW didn't pay attention to anyone else. I think deep down she cares about the baby and knows she is important to us but just doesn't let it show.

Amy asked, "what has surprised you most about DLW as a dad and yourself now that you're a mother?"
I wouldn't say I'm surprised by how much DLW loves Collins but it's my favorite thing about him as a dad. He adores his little girl and I love to watch him be a dad. He has been very hands-on since the minute she was born and wants to protect her from everything and everyone. She has him wrapped around her little finger and her pouty lip already gets her anything she wants.

I am surprised by my calmness as a mother. I haven't (yet) had an emotional breakdown or questioned my ability as a mother. If she is fussy and nothing is working, I just try something else and move on. I just do my best and know that is enough. I am also surprised by how much I love breastfeeding and I'm so glad it has worked out for us.

Jade asked about my "breastfeeding highs and lows..."
After Collins was born the nurse told me to try to feed her and I asked, "and how would one do that?" I didn't have a clue what I was doing but after a quick lesson Collins latched right on and hasn't come off since (kidding but it feels like that somedays).

The highs would be the closeness I feel when she is nursing. I am trying to not to play on my phone or watch TV as much when she is eating and just enjoy our time together because it won't last forever. It is nice that breastfeeding is so convenient and requires no work on my part other than making sure I eat enough and stay hydrated.

A low would be cutting out dairy and trying to pinpoint her food intolerances. We still aren't sure dairy is what is causing her diaper issues but our pediatrician isn't concerned since she is happy and gaining weight. It's been hard to adjust my diet but I didn't want to switch to formula. Another low is that I don't produce well for my breast pump and I have to get up in the middle of the night to be able to pump an amount worth saving. Collins hasn't taken a bottle much and it can be challenging being her only food source; I sometimes feel like the she-wolf from the legend of Rome. I can only be away from her for 2-3 hours at the most and I feel like a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off while I'm away.

Despite sometimes feeling like a prisoner of breastfeeding, I love it and dread the day I have to stop. It makes me feel pretty powerful that I'm providing the nutrients that keep her healthy and help her grow.

The most common question you guys asked was, "how many kids do you want to have?"
Two. I love being pregnant and having babies but two is what I have always imagined. We come from small families; I am one of two (my brother and I are less than 16 months apart) and DLW is an only child. I like the idea that there is one kid for each of us to hold on to and we are not outnumbered. Also it takes a lot longer to get a table for five than it does to get a table for four at a restaurant (maybe I spent too many hours as a hostess).

We want to provide our children with a certain lifestyle that we would not be able to afford with a big family. We want them to be able to play sports, join clubs, and take trips- all things that cost money.

Ideally we would like our kids to be about two years apart. We will be moving every few years for the Army so it would be nice for them to always have a friend and someone they know at their new school.

Phew! Those were some hard and great questions. I am having so much with these posts and will be answering all of your fitness questions tomorrow!

Check out You Asked: Blogging if you missed it yesterday.
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