LIFE AS WE KNOW IT

Filed under: bardenisms,expecting,family,just because,love,my family,newsworthy,the marriage fight,weight loss,word of God — admin at 7:42 pm on Thursday, April 10, 2014

I haven’t written since Enoch was two weeks old. WHAT?! And now he’s almost 5 months old. Crazy.

When he was a little over two weeks old – I noticed some blood in his stool. I tried not to freak out – but I knew that wasn’t normal. Nor was solid poops for a two week old. Crap. Literally and figuratively.

Turns out that it was suspected he had a milk protein allergy – which is different than being lactose intolerant. So we switched his formula – but he still wasn’t happy – there was still blood in his stool. Poor guy. He would cry when he ate and struggle to poop. He woke up every hour and a half to eat and eat and eat and cry and cry and cry. It was heartbreaking and exhausting. I cried and cried and cried.

At my 6 week appointment – the doctor suggested we switch him to a different formula – Elecare. It’s expensive – but worked! And is working wonderfully! He started to shoot off the growth chart and his whole demeanor changed! He’s doing very well on the new formula and we will introduce cow’s milk to him at 1 and see how he does!

He’s a happy beautiful baby – except for when he’s not! Happy – I mean – he’s always beautiful!

The transition from 1 child to 2 – has been … interesting. Difficult. Exhausting. Yes – rewarding. The lack of sleep has been the hardest part. Oh – and the – how do I do this whole 2 kid thing! That’s been the hardest.

I suppose we are doing fine – both kids are loved and happy. They are growing and fed.

As a first time momma – I felt very confident in my mothering abilities. With Enoch – I feel much less confident – and I’m not quite sure why!

Fitzy is fantastic with Enoch. There have only been a few occasions where he bopped him on the head and when I asked why – he said – cus I need you momma. Then just ask for me sweetie. Okay momma. He comforts him when he cries. He loves to make him laugh. He asks for him in the morning and rubs his little fist all over his face. He asks where he is when he’s not in the room. He can’t wait to help him learn – everything!

As I sit here typing this – almost 5 months after becoming a momma of two young boys – it’s getting easier. Easier in that their naps are usually timed together and I can get editing and my emails and bills done in the afternoon. Easier in that Enoch fits on my hip and is starting to interact more. Easier in that Enoch is sleeping longer periods (not through the night by any means – but I don’t think that was a blessing that was intended for me) at night and I’m not absolutely exhausted all the time. Easier in that I’m not yelling and breaking down two to three times a day (or more) while Fitzy consoles me and says – be happy momma. I just make you happy momma.

My confidence is coming back – slowly. But I feel like I forgot EVERYTHING about raising a baby. I told Jared – if I had birthed another 2 1/2 year old – I’d be set – but this? I don’t remember this. When do they sit up again? How much food does he eat – and when? Is he supposed to be drooling all the time? Why won’t he stay asleep? What do I do with him all day? It’s the weirdest thing. And with Fitzy – ugh. My heart was hurting so much for this little boy that had his momma all to himself. We went to the store – played puzzles – did play-doh – crafted crafts. You name it. And now – I have this little guy to tend to and Fitzy wants me too. And I understand that we are teaching them to be independent and successful on their own – but my word – he’s not even 3 yet. He’s still a baby. Why must he grow up so fast? I would catch myself saying things like – WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT? YOU KNOW BETTER. But ya know what – he kinda doesn’t. He’s just a toddle still. And I’m in no way excusing bad behavior. Believe me. And he’s still learning. And I’m learning.

And the lack of confidence and exhaustion spiraled out of control. The hurts of the past few years crept up on me. I’ve been angry. Frustrated. And I’ve held onto it – because it’s easier than facing the truth. That my heart needs to change. I have ridiculous expectations. I have control issues – which I’ve always said. But it’s time to face the truth. I’m not happy. I’m overwhelmed and let down. I’m demanding and impossible to please. My bitterness and hurt started to spill out of me and onto others.

We’ve had a rough year – again. And Jared is doing great. Really. But when I can’t keep a lid on my own crazy – he spirals. And believe me – I have my own crazy. I need to remember that things don’t have to be done now. That when Fitzy says – momma – play with me – I need to really get down on the floor and play with him. When he has a story to tell me – I need to listen like it’s the most important thing I’ll ever hear – because it really is. I need to remember that babies cry and fuss and I’m not doing something wrong. When Enoch won’t go down for the third time and just needs to be rocked – instead of crying and getting frustrated – just hold him and rock him. It will be gone before I know it. When Jared says I’m sorry. Take it. Don’t make him say it again and again. Punishment. It’s a hard one for me – if you’ve hurt me – then you need to spend some time being hurt. Ugh. Even typing those words makes me sick. But it’s how I feel. I can forgive you for hurting me but I am on the ready for it to happen again – so – what good is that. Instead of living in the past and bringing it up every single day – move forward. In God’s love and grace. When Jared was in the hospital – I prayed and asked God to show me what He wanted me to know. What I heard was that HE needs to be the center and source of my joy. Not Jared. Not Fitzy. Not Enoch. Sure – they will bring me joy – but God needs to be the ultimate source. Because nothing – NOTHING – in this life is mine. My husband – these sweet babies – nothing.

It was time to address some issues – face to face. So I did. We did. And forgiveness always wins. Love always wins. When you let it. God is always there to hold your heart in His hands – but when you’ve placed it in a prison – He won’t force His way in. You have to make the effort – make the choice. And airing some hurts and asking for and giving forgiveness has made all the difference.

And God loves me. And wants the best for me. And He knows the best – although I think I do. I think that closing the door to my feelings and living in anger is best. It’s not. And I know that – but it’s what protects my heart. Because I’m tired. Tired of hurting and suffering. But God wants to take that hurt and make it into something beautiful. And I can’t stop living a joyful life because of fear.

Because of some issues we’ve had in the past and some issues that were brought to light over the summer – it’s been hard to trust. It’s been hard to get that trust back. It’s been really hard to get to a place in our marriage where we are happy. And by we – I mean me. Jared is trying. But I expect more. I expect him to be what I think he should be. When I should be encouraging him to be what God has for him.

In March – at a MOPS meeting (that I didn’t want to go to) the topic was on marriage. Intimacy in marriage. Something that has been a struggle for me lately. The challenge was to be intimate every 72 hours. Make a point to make it happen. For 30 days. And see what happens.

Pornography is a horrible awful thief. Of joy and trust and love. It takes something that should be beautiful and wonderful – a deep connection between a husband and wife – and makes it ugly and hurtful. Bitterness is the root. A root that has taken it’s place in my heart and spread. And it’s starting to affect more than just me. My husband. My sweet kids. My joy. It has stolen my joy and replaced it with bitterness. And I’m done. I want to look forward to intimacy with Jared. I want to WANT to be close to my husband. When it comes time – I get nervous. The little voices in my head say – he doesn’t deserve this. You should wait longer. He should have to wait longer. Because that’s what pornography does. It kills. It kills marriages. For me – it kills the want to be intimate with my husband – because all I can think about is what he’s done. Not what he’s doing. The man he is now. The man he wants to be. The man he is trying to be.

And what I need to do is not speak over those voices in my head – but let God. Let God heal my hurts – let God be my trust. It’s been almost a month since we started the challenge – and with a few missed nights due to the demands of raising small children – we’ve made it. And while the beginning of the month started out rough – it’s gotten better. And like anything – it’s not happening overnight – but instead gradually. My attitude has changed and every day I am stopping in the midst of a trial to make a decision (or trying to – sometimes word vomit just pours out) and really think about what I’m saying. What I’m doing.

So – I’d like to tell you that life is getting “easier” because E is getting older – but it’s also getting “easier” because I’m trying to choose happiness over pessimism – which is hard for me. It’s hard for me to not expect the worst so that I won’t be let down. It’s hard for me to believe that God does indeed have good things for me when so much hurt has happened. And while I want to raise my boys with a sense of reality – I also want them to have hope. And not just a hope because we are supposed to hope – but a real honest to goodness HOPE. A hope that leads their steps and their lives. And I need that for me. For us.

And it’s not about an easy life. It’s not about a normal life.

When Enoch first came home – I felt so guilty. Guilty that Fitzy wouldn’t know the love that he did. Guilty that Enoch wouldn’t have the attention and love that Fitzy got when he was a baby. That Fitzy wasn’t my one and only during the day. That my heart wasn’t big enough to hold the love for the two of them. I was a fantastic momma when it was just Fitzy – but with Enoch in the picture too – I felt less than fantastic. How on earth do I give them both the love and attention they need? I cried. A lot. And Fitzy was such a sweet little guy. Don’t cry momma. I make you happy momma. All the time. I yelled. I lost my patience. A lot. Poor little guy. This is my sweet boy and I am hurting his sensitive spirit. So I would hug him and cry and apologize. And he would grab my face and say – I love you momma. I forgive you all the time.

Looking back over the past few months – I don’t know how we made it. Well – God. Just like over the summer. It’s always – but God.

So – every day I am making an effort. To keep the past in the past. To accept an I’m sorry. To trust my husband. To take a deep breath and not overreact (that one is really really rough). To make sure to spend time with just Enoch and with just Fitzy and with the two of them together. To spend time together as a family. Read the Bible (I’m horrible at making that a priority). To give up control. To forgive. To ask for forgiveness. To live my life in reality instead of on Facebook. Some days are better than others. Some worse.

Life as we know it – has changed. Again. And it will again tomorrow. Jared and I talked about how we haven’t enjoyed having two sweet babes as much as we thought we might. How it’s been harder than we thought. How I’ve cried and cried and wondered how I’m going to do this. And do it right. And that sweet little boy reminds me of God’s love when he holds my face and says. I forgive you momma. All the time.

 

MY FAMILY

Filed under: baby barden,bardenisms,family,just because,kiddos,love,my family,my town,portraits,samantha,weight loss — admin at 11:49 am on Monday, September 9, 2013

In August – my brother and his family came home for a visit! My sister and her hubby came with them!

When I took these pictures – Samm was at 167 lbs lost – AND COUNTING!

SERIOUSLY!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE those shots! I am so proud of my sister for taking control of her life and making a change!

Samm wanted a picture with all three of her babies – but they were NOT cooperating!

We needed an updated family picture! With three little ones – this was the best we got!

Jessica & Derek haven’t had any pictures taken together since their wedding! We had to fix that!

Aren’t they sweet!

We had such a great time with everyone! Can’t wait till we can all be together again!

BRONX ZOO

Filed under: animals,babes,baby barden,bardenisms,friends,just because,kiddos,my family,newsworthy,samantha,weight loss — admin at 12:25 pm on Friday, July 12, 2013

In June – we took Fitzy to the zoo – in the Bronx!

My sister and her husband live in New Jersey – so it’s two trips in one!

Crazy boy!

My sister has lost over 150 pounds in 14 months! I can’t stop telling everyone I meet about her! She looks (and feels) FANTASTIC!

Fitzy is a pretty cautious little guy – he didn’t want to get too close – didn’t want to pet anything – just enjoyed the day!

It was a LONG but great day!

Fitzy LOVES his Sammy (or as he calls her – Hammy) and Xavier. Both mornings he woke up saying – HAMMMMMY! HAMMMMY! HAMMMMMMMY!

Thanks SO much for having us over for the weekend – we love you guys!

WHOA

Filed under: babes,baby barden,bardenisms,birth,expecting,just because,kiddos,my family,newsworthy,weight loss — admin at 2:01 pm on Sunday, May 26, 2013

March 21st of 2013 THURSDAY

On August 24th of 2010 – I posted this - where I said - 

On March 28th of this year (2010) – Jared’s mom was given a word in church. That our children would rise up like mighty oaks. Our children. (Jared’s mom also told me that she saw me pregnant at the beach on our yearly vacation)

On April 11th of this year (2010) – Dave (Fitzgerald) called us again with a word for us. We would have children. Lots of them – running around in our yard – jumping on trampolines – and they would be our biological children – they would all look like Jared. (six months before I quit my job at Phoenix – Dave called and said – God wants me to tell you that your photography business is going to be crazy successful – more than you ever dreamed – you will be able to do it full-time)

On August 15th of this year (2010) – we met with our Pastor – because I am angry, tired, sad, and weary. He told us that God has children for us – our biological children. But first we must open our hearts to the notion of taking in a child that is not ours – biologically.

And on September 8th of 2012 – Dave Fitzgerald texted THIS to us -

You will get pregnant again. And even though you will default in your minds that you will probably miscarry – oh no. You will have a healthy child – possibly twins! It will be huge and massive BUT you must keep it to yourselves and announce at the END of the first trimester. This is a promise from God. God is NOT done with you. He’s just starting. You need to tuck this word on your hearts and cover it. It will be a massive testimony and will restore relationships, friendships, and family ties in ways you never thought possible. It’s going to be mammoth. It will be full circle. Both of your families will be remarkably astounded at what God will do through you in this next pregnancy. BUT you MUST NOT announce it until the end of the 1st trimester. Not even to close friends or family. YOU MUST WAIT!

I honestly feel stronger about this than the word I gave you for Fitzy! You can’t even tell me when you first find out – I will already know. You can’t tell ANYONE! BELIEVE IT! RECEIVE IT! ACT! God is good and will be massively glorified through it. Save these messages for confirmation and documentation. Not for me – but so that we can honor Christ Jesus & God’s ridiculous faithfulness. He is good. He is really REALLY good!

I saved it on my phone. And then wrote it all down today. There is a part I left out – about a name – because we may not tell this time. Although – if you know me – that will be REALLY REALLY hard!

I was supposed to start my period on Tuesday – it’s Thursday. And I’m one of those girls that have ALWAYS been 28 days.

I wrote this – on March 8th of 2013 – where I said -

Today – I’m not sad. I haven’t been sad about not having another baby for about a week now. That’s a HUGE step for me. I am finally letting the peace that God has given me about our decision take over – instead of fighting it. Fighting it because we should have 3 more. I’m feeling peace instead of being angry and hurt. Instead of wondering why me and why NOT me at the same time. It’s awesome. And I finally don’t feel guilty saying that.

Our decision was to go back on birth control and wait a year.

I’ve been anxiously waiting for my period to start so I can start those little blue pills.

It’s Thursday and it’s not here yet.

And now I know why.

I took a test today.

It was positive. Within seconds. Pink. Bold. Crossing lines.

Positive.

We lost Enoch on March 17th of 2009 and little Lewis would have been born on March 24th of 2013. Today is right smack in the middle.

But. We have to keep it a secret. Well – you read why. 

Honestly – I’m speechless. I told Jared over and over that this would happen. We have to figure something out until my appointment because you KNOW we are gonna get pregnant. Because the last time I had peace like this – we found out we were pregnant with Fitzy. It doesn’t matter that we haven’t gotten pregnant since June – it will happen. I know it. I knew it.

How on earth am I not supposed to tell my sister. She’s going to figure it out. She just is. And my parents? And Jared’s parents? They always go to the Bahamas in November – I hope they haven’t booked the trip yet! But I can’t. I have to trust. The day before Dave sent us that text – I said – out of the blue – to Jared – if we get pregnant again we won’t tell a soul. Not one. Until our first trimester. Which is not me. At all.

It was confirmation.

So – today we found out that for the 5th time – we are pregnant. And we trust. Because either way – God is in control and the answer will be beautiful.

My first appointment is April 1st of 2013.

We won’t be over our first trimester until the end of May – a long two months from now!

Our due date – November 27th of 2013 – my mom’s birthday.

Whoa.

March 22nd 0f 2013 FRIDAY 

I can’t stop thinking about the women reading this thinking – GREAT. Another pregnant person who isn’t me. And while I can tell you over and over again that I’ve been there (and you know that I’ve been there several times) it doesn’t matter. It won’t matter.

Yesterday the list stood at this – 76 names. 20 with babies. 14 pregnant. 45 wanting. pray.

And while I wrote it – tears streamed down my face. Tears of happiness and of hurt. Tears of joy and of heartache. Tears of love and of pain.

I want all 45 wanting to inbox me and tell me that they are pregnant. It’s a miracle. But it isn’t happening. And here I am holding this joy in one hand and such sorrow in another for all my wanting mommas. It’s not fair. It will never be fair.

If you have to hide me on FACEBOOK – do it. If you have to avoid my blog for a while – please do. If you can’t bear to look at me – I understand. You don’t have to tell me that you are happy for me and sad for you. You might even be at the place where you are not happy for me.

I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND.

And that still doesn’t make it any easier for you. Not one ounce.

Please know this – I am praying for you. I am lifting your name to God every day. I am trusting that His will is perfect and amazing. I am trusting that you will feel His strength and His love right now. I encourage you to cry out to Him. He knows Your heart – He can take it. His hands are open and waiting.

April 3rd of 2013 TUESDAY

I’m hungrier. Last week I had a migraine – which if history proves anything – means that there is a viable baby. Our last pregnancy came with migraines too – so I’m still scared. Trusting. But nervous. Is that possible? To be trusting and nervous. To be sure and scared?

Yesterday was our first appointment. The one where you pee in a cup and they tell you what you already knew. The nurse came in and said – well – I hope this was a wanted pregnancy. I said – they all are. I’m scared. We were going to take a break for a year and THEN see a specialist – but we never even got to the birth control part. We aren’t telling anyone so I’ve kind of forgotten about it. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I don’t do caffeine. I don’t really have to change anything.

I did wake up yesterday and today feeling just a little off – struggling to swallow my vitamins without gagging.

So – we wait to hear from our OB and set up our first appointment. Part of me wants an ultrasound RIGHT NOW while the other part wants to wait like we did with Fitzy. I am almost six weeks at this point – so we have another seven weeks to go!

I’ve known for 2 weeks and haven’t told ANYONE (except the doctor) and I’m shocked.

April 5th of 2013 THURSDAY 

Last night the stomach bug hit. Or a flu bug. Or both. It was intense. I lost two pounds overnight. I didn’t sleep until this morning when Jared stayed home with Fitzy. I took a bath early this morning and kept praying that those pangs in my stomach were flu pangs – not miscarriage pangs. I’m trying hard to not let fear win. It takes a lot of focus and a lot of prayer.

I’ve realized that in not sharing this pregnancy news with ANYONE but Jared – we are both depending on God. A lot. The way it should be. And it’s crazy hard!

April 30th of 2013 TUESDAY

Yesterday was our ultrasound. I laid down on the table and closed my eyes. I prayed. She started and didn’t say anything – and then a – there’s your baby. And the tears came. According to her measurements we are between 10 and 11 weeks – further along than I thought – and further along than any other pregnancy – except with Fitzy. We saw a little body and a head. Arms and a fast heartbeat. THANK YOU JESUS. Baby was moving around and looked good. The last two times – I got a phone call from the doctor that afternoon. No phone call. And I’ve been getting sick in the mornings. And afternoons. And evenings. Thank You Jesus.

Fitzy is very excited about his birthday present! He keeps pointing at my belly and saying – dear Jesus – heal – momma – baby – girl. This weekend he pointed to my belly and said baby. My mom looked at me with raised eyebrows. I said – yes – that’s where you were when you were a baby. Whew!

Someone did say to me recently – Danielle – you look GREAT! I mean like radiant – glowing! Are you SURE you’re not pregnant? I said – I’m sure. When she left I looked at Jared and said – REALLY? I’m not supposed to say ANYTHING!?

A friend asked me if I stopped updating my weight loss on my blog because of the issues people were having. I said nope. I planned to update at 20 pounds and then again at 12 weeks (which I didn’t think would be two separate posts) and then lastly at 30 pounds. Which I haven’t reached yet. But I couldn’t tell her why. I said – because I feel good right here. I look good right here. I’m good. Which is also true. But I won’t be hitting that 30 pounds – at least – not this time around.

Thank You God for this unexpected and amazing miracle. Again.

May 26th of 2013 SUNDAY

Yesterday we had Fitzy’s birthday party. We waited until the very end to give him our gift. I made a mental checklist in my head – mom is here – Brenda is here – Samm is here – Brian is here – I’ll go get dad. Okay – everyone is here. Jared started the video. I told Fitzy this was his last present but Sammy had to help him read it. Samm unfolded the shirt that said BIG BROTHER and it took her a minute. She looked up at me and said – ARE YOU SERIOUS? I said – yes – we are 13 weeks. Brenda (my mother-in-law) screamed and cried and rushed over to hug me. She asked if we had an ultrasound. I said – Yes. We’ve heard a heartbeat too. Samm hit me. Then the video ends. And I scan the room and realize my mom isn’t there. I seriously thought maybe she was upset and had to leave. Nope. When my back was turned – she got up and left – to go to the bathroom – and I was so focused on that little shirt – I didn’t notice. I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT! UGH! So we waited for her to come back and then gave her the shirt. And just like my mom – she said – Oh. Just like that. Oh. Then she added a little – I’m shocked – you were on birth control! I said – I never even got to start! She said – Oh. I read the text that Dave sent us – and tears flowed again.

Friday night – I noticed a tiny bit of spotting. No. Not now. Not this time. This cannot be happening. I texted a few people that I had already told. Asked them to pray. Is this okay. Is everything okay? This CANNOT be happening again. Not this time. Not right now. No. Just no. It happened with Fitzy – at 20 weeks. This makes me scared. I took my phone out and read the text from Dave – again. For the 400th time. Just like I did in the beginning every time I was feeling scared.

We heard a heartbeat on Tuesday – 165. Everything was fine. 13 weeks. It HAS to be fine. Right? I mean – we are telling everyone tomorrow. It has to be okay. It’s the end of the first trimester. We will get pregnant again. And even though we will default in our minds that we will probably miscarry – oh no.

The spotting stopped. My sister-in-law assured me that a little is normal – it happened with her. Prayers were sent and sent and sent. Prayers are being sent. Still being sent. I still felt sick this morning. I’ll most likely call on Tuesday to schedule something – just to make sure. Cus I’m like that. So – please continue to pray with us. Pray for Jared and I – that we can rest in God’s love and peace. Pray for this wee one – that this baby is doing well and wonderful.

 And because it’s awesome – I leave you again with the words God gave us through Dave -

You will get pregnant again. And even though you will default in your minds that you will probably miscarry – oh no. You will have a healthy child – possibly twins! It will be huge and massive BUT you must keep it to yourselves and announce at the END of the first trimester. This is a promise from God. God is NOT done with you. He’s just starting. You need to tuck this word on your hearts and cover it. It will be a massive testimony and will restore relationships, friendships, and family ties in ways you never thought possible. It’s going to be mammoth. It will be full circle. Both of your families will be remarkably astounded at what God will do through you in this next pregnancy. BUT you MUST NOT announce it until the end of the 1st trimester. Not even to close friends or family. YOU MUST WAIT!

I honestly feel stronger about this than the word I gave you for Fitzy! You can’t even tell me when you first find out – I will already know. You can’t tell ANYONE! BELIEVE IT! RECEIVE IT! ACT! God is good and will be massively glorified through it. Save these messages for confirmation and documentation. Not for me – but so that we can honor Christ Jesus & God’s ridiculous faithfulness. He is good. He is really REALLY good!

AUNT SAMMY

Filed under: babes,baby barden,bardenisms,just because,kiddos,my family,newsworthy,samantha,weight loss — admin at 11:50 am on Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fitzy LOVES LOVES LOVES his aunt Sammy. She surprised us in April and he was SO excited to see her!

I LOVE those shots! Makes my heart so happy! For so many reasons!

Last year with Rowyn – this year with Fitzy! CRAZY PROUD OF YOU SAMM!

Last year and this year – craziness.

Samm – I get choked up when I talk about you – which I do – a lot. To people I know. To random strangers. Bank tellers. Waitresses. I’m slightly obnoxious about it. But I can’t help it. You took control and changed your life. I am so proud of you!

SAMANTHA

Filed under: just because,my family,newsworthy,samantha,weight loss — admin at 11:33 am on Wednesday, May 15, 2013

140 pounds. Gone. As of mid-April. And still going.

Not gonna lie – I was mega sad to give her those tights!

BUT – they look awesome – so I’m over it!

WHOA!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE those shots! Seriously – make me cry. She’s always been the pretty one!

And just to compare – here is early May of last year -

CRAZY – right?

Still think that you can’t do it? That you’ve just gained too much and it’ll be too hard? CONTACT SAMANTHA TODAY. She is a GREAT encourager! Seriously. Do it. Because you can. And you will.

THE REASON I WRITE

Filed under: bardenisms,just because,weight loss — admin at 1:17 pm on Sunday, April 14, 2013

On March 11th I wrote one of two blogs about my journey on weight loss. In that blog I said the following -

Basically what I’ve done is not eat like a piggy pig – like I was doing. I’ll give you a typical day before and after Samm and I set the goals for me.

SERIOUSLY – mostly what I’ve done is just cut back on what I was eating. I’m aware of what I put in my mouth. I don’t deprive myself of things I would like – I just eat MUCH less of it!

I have to go back a little – you have to understand. I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to have an eating disorder – whether it’s not eating enough or eating too much. My weight gain over time is due to laziness – physically and in my eating choices. While I was a little too fluffy – I’ve never had to struggle with my weight. I don’t LOVE food. Cooking and eating are a chore for me. I would LOVE if I could eat a pill for my meals and get the nutrients I need. That would be fabulous. I can’t eat chocolate and as a woman I think that helps keep sweets under control – but I could be wrong.

Please – don’t think – well Danielle – aren’t you lucky then. No. I’m not. While I don’t struggle with food – I struggle with anxiety and OCD tendencies. We all have something. And I write this to encourage you. YOU CAN and WILL do it!

So was it easy? At first – not really. I wasn’t hungry but I did notice how many times I ate because I was bored or lazy. The hardest part was calorie counting – let me change that – being AWARE of calories. I would call Samm and say – DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY CALORIES ARE IN THIS? IN THAT? OH MY WORD! I had honestly NEVER noticed. I realized just how BIG my portions were. I noticed results really quickly – which made it easier to stick with. But I noticed I just felt better. I’m really surprised at how easy this has become once I made my mind up to do it!

I’ve written two blogs. I’ve updated my status on FACEBOOK a handful of times. Now IG – I’ve posted about 30 photos related to weight loss. To encourage. To build up. To help.

But – I’ve been told that I’m doing the exact opposite. I’m hurting. By ALL my postings about weight loss. Some of my friends – or people that know me – have become standoffish due to ALL my postings about how easy it is. Because for some people it’s not that easy. Or even easy. And my choice of words were especially damaging and insensitive.

So I asked my sister. Cus you better know that she will tell me if I’m being full of myself. While this weight loss journey started because of HER journey – it’s still not all about her. And it’s still not all about me. It’s about all of us. Trying and getting there together. Helping and encouraging. Which is why I decided to blog about it. I’ve reached so many people that are trying to have a little baby – and have become good friends with lots of them. Why not blog about this? Samm – while it was almost a year after the fact – has been helping me to reach my weight loss goal. I wanted to share her story and what she’s done to inspire me. To inspire you. In writing her blog – 2 people that read it ordered Nutrisystem. She now texts on a regular basis with 3 of the readers of that blog and encourages them and helps them. Every. Single. Day.

So anyway – I asked her. Am I posting too much? Am I wrong in even blogging or posting anything about weight loss? Am I making it all about me? Because at the moment – she is the most sensitive person to it that I know. Now – you might say – well of course she’ll say no. She knows you and doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. If that’s your answer – you don’t know my sister or our relationship. It’s about honesty. And she is sure to knock me down a peg or two if she thinks I need it.

But it didn’t really matter that she didn’t think I was posting about it too much. She didn’t think I was hurting. I was still told that the feedback from her wouldn’t be the same as the feedback from my readers and friends. That several – SEVERAL – people have said things about … this. That these people have lost weight too – but they aren’t posting about it. They aren’t bringing it up. So – I guess the question is – why would I?

First – to those people going to someone else to ask about why I would post about my weight loss. I say one thing. COME. ASK. ME. While I’m a dramatic person for sure – I despise drama. Why on earth would you go to someone else – friend or not – to ask them about why I am doing something? If you have a problem with what I’m doing or writing or saying – COME ASK ME. Because while this person told you to come ask me – none of you have. And I’m told there are several. So – it can’t be that concerning of a problem?

Second. I write. It’s what I do. It’s what I’ve done for years. And while that is no excuse to write every little thing that comes in my brain – which believe me – I would have NO friends if you all knew how I really felt about certain things – it’s still what I do. It’s how I heal. How I deal. When we miscarried the first – then second – then third time. I wrote. I sit down and write. Honestly. I write about my happiness and my hurts. My joys and my struggles. I love that you all read and cry and hurt and love and smile with me.

Third. I am NOT perfect. If I have EVER made you think that I was – I AM SO SORRY. Because I’m not. I need Jesus – we all do. And with Jesus – I still won’t be perfect. I write to show you that I’m not perfect – we’re not perfect. I get angry at God. I get really sad sometimes. I get crazy jealous. And I admit it. Because we are human. It will happen. I’m raw and blunt and I hope you see that covered in grace and sensitivity. I hope that in every single blog I write – you see Jesus shine through me.

Because that’s the ONLY reason I write. The only reason I can write. The only reason to write.

TWENTY FOUR

Filed under: bardenisms,just because,newsworthy,weight loss — admin at 5:33 pm on Wednesday, March 27, 2013

12 WEEKS. 24 POUNDS. AWESOME.

It’s been 12 weeks and I’ve lost 24 pounds. Awesome!

I started at 190 and am now at 166 and holding steady.

I feel good. I am fitting in my size 12′s and my size 10 dresses. I’ve reached my goal – with 6 pounds to go!

I’m working on toning up and maintaining where I am right now – which might mean a standstill for a while – and I’m perfectly okay with that! Once nice weather hits and I walk more with Fitzy – I know it won’t a problem to shed those 6 pounds!

That’s my bridesmaid dress from 2006! SWEET! My wedding dress however – not happening for another 10 or 15 pounds.

And this lovely red dress – oh how I love it!

REMEMBER – you CAN do it! You WILL do it!

MY 375 POUND LIFE. NO MORE. (my sister samantha)

Filed under: bardenisms,just because,my family,newsworthy,samantha,weight loss — admin at 12:24 pm on Tuesday, March 12, 2013

As promised – my sister Samantha. And your questions.

How did you make the decision to lose? When was the moment you knew you were ready?

i was standing in line at Taco Bell with my husband, thinking how nothing looked good and i was just making another bad food choice. i weighed 375 lbs. i felt uncomfortable, huge and mad at myself. it was weird how it just hit me. i wasn’t working at the time and i said to my husband “once i get a job and we get a little more money i really want to look into diet programs, i’m so tired of being fat.” and he said “well, if this is something you really want then we will make it a priority and do it now.”

i’m lucky to have a husband who has always loved me for me no matter how fat i was. he never made me feel bad about myself. he’s always supported me and done his best to make me happy and make things happen. he’s always made me feel beautiful.

so anyway, he researched and called companies without me knowing. i wasn’t doing it because i was partly not wanting to give up the food that i love and comforts me and partly because i was thinking i shouldn’t waste money on an expensive diet program. he told me a little while later “i ordered nutrisystem for you, it should be here soon.” i was surprised and a little scared. but mainly thankful. he knew how bad i wanted this and he got the ball rolling for sure.

a few days later (if i remember correctly) my brother called me and asked if i could come to Louisiana to help them out while their precious baby Judah was born. i of course said “OF COURSE!” i flew down and had to squeeze myself into the airplane seat and couldn’t buckle the seatbelt. it’s super embarrassing. it was warm down there and i didn’t bring shorts because my legs were huge and ugly and i hated them. it was all i could do to keep up with my little niece and to get up off the floor after playing with her. that sweet little girl gave me a lot of reinforcement that i really needed to lose weight. i want to be a mom someday and i don’t want to be a mom who doesn’t have enough energy to play with and keep up with her kids. i was there for a week and i thought, man this week kicked my butt. i can’t imagine doing this every day!

so then a big motivator became losing weight for my future babes and for my nieces and nephews so i can be the fun aunt who wears them out! when i would visit my mom and dad’s house and little fitzy would point that sausage finger out towards the chickens and cows (his way of asking to take him out to see them) i would think oh man! it’s a long walk out there and he’s a heavy little guy! but i can’t say no to that face. so i would carry him out there and my back would be KILLING me by the time we got to the chickens. i would think to myself, this is not ok! i’m not that old yet! i have a lot of weight dragging me down and hurting my back and knees. where does it end!?!?!? do i wanna gain another 100 lbs and be completely immoble!?!?!?

so it started in a Taco Bell line and just snowballed into too many reasons to not do it! i was squeezing into a size 28 and it was getting harder and harder to find clothes. (i’m wearing a size 16 now)

How did you stay motivated while losing?

in the beginning it was pure stubbornness. i paid for this program and i didn’t want to waste money. (i have to insert something here. i thought that nutrisystem (or any diet program) was expensive. it’s not. it’s actually less or the same that i spent on food in the grocery store, drive thrus, going out to eat, a candy bar at the store, you know. and i’m investing in my health and future and happiness. so i’ll sacrifice other places if need be, although i haven’t really had to.)

i needed a plan to teach me how to change my eating habits. i felt like i really couldn’t do it on my own. well, i might have been able to but it would have taken a lot longer. nutrisystem has taught me a lot and it’s worth every penny i spent.

the first week i was CRANKY and probably mean at times (my poor husband). i was saying “why does food have to be my problem!?!?!? why can’t i just be normal!?!?!? xavier would say to me “would you rather be addicted to drugs or alcohol or shopping or anything else? everyone has their own problems and issues, don’t feel bad this this is yours. you can do it.”
i hate when he’s right! he was a big part of keeping me motivated. then it changed into seeing the scale move down. then starting to really feel better. then my clothes starting to get bigger. and thinking this isn’t so bad! i can do this! and not to mention by back and knee pain went away pretty quickly!a random stranger stopped me on my jog one day and told me she was proud of me. she used to be overweight too. so we had a nice chat and she told me to keep going! most recently, i just got back from visiting my brother and flew again. i fit into the seat with room to spare and could buckle the seatbelt and even had to tighten it quite a bit! and i’m much more active and able to keep up with my niece and nephews.
another big motivator is that i take a picture every monday to track my progress. when i feel unmotivated or defeated i look at my beginning pictures. YIKES! that shocks me back into reality! i think it’s important to be excited about the little things on the way to your goal.

What has been your BIGGEST motivator on your weight loss journey?

being a healthy, happy, active momma someday. i want to be a fun mom like mine was/is.

Have you ever hit a plateau and stopped losing for a while with out reason? If so – what did you do to push past that?

i have been lucky enough to not hit a plateau yet. i think it’s because i still have so much weight to lose. some tips though are eat high protein power fuels like chicken breast, salmon, tuna and such and stay away from the dairy proteins for a little while. some people don’t lose weight very well with lots of dairy. i’m one of the ones that it doesn’t effect. also, switch lunch with dinner. try some new foods that you don’t normally eat. i’m not a calorie counter but if you hit a plateau then you should keep track and make sure you’re within range. also, eating too little is just as bad as eating too much. i don’t get how some people think skipping meals or snacks or dessert is going to help them. it’s not. if you don’t fuel your body properly then it will hold onto every little morsel it gets.

Have you always had to struggle with weight? If not – when did it start?

i have not always had to struggle with weight. i was skinny until i was about 17ish i think. i started getting chubby and just kept getting bigger and bigger. i never thought about it or obsessed about it when i was skinny. i remember getting stressed out and turning to food.a “friend” was at my house for some youth group event and we were going to take a walk and it was chilly so she wanted to borrow pants and a sweatshirt. i gave her the smallest ones i had and she said “WOW THESE ARE HUGE ON ME!!! I LOOK SO FAT!!!” i didn’t say anything and just walked away feeling HORRIBLE about myself. she wouldn’t stop saying how fat she looked and how huge my clothes were on her the whole time. i remember feeling like crap and thinking nonstop about food. seems backwards huh? for the most part when you criticize someone about their weight, or any addiction, it just feeds it (literally in my case). i remember eating A LOT that night when everyone left. i also had another “friend” who made me feel bad about myself on quite a few occasions and literally laughed at me right in front of me. i used food to comfort myself quite a bit. if i could go back in time i would stand up for myself and kick those “friends” to the curb.now, don’t think i blame anyone for me being fat. at any point i could have stood up for myself, but i didn’t. i’m just saying be very mindful of what you say and how you say it. i’m angry with myself for not losing this weight sooner.

How has your view on food changed?

my view on food has changed drastically. i see it as fuel now (for the most part). i still have some rough days here and there where i just want a Pizza Hut dinner box TO MYSELF. but those days are getting further and further away from each other. sometimes i have a nutrisystem pizza to satisfy my craving, and sometimes i just fight through it. i feel like i need to do that to prove to my self i will live without it and i don’t NEED it.

Has it been hard?

it started out very hard and has gotten significantly easier every day.

Do you miss the food you used to eat?

i do miss certain foods sometimes. but then i remind myself that it will not get me to my goal and it’s JUST FOOD! it doesn’t have to control you. honestly, i still eat really yummy stuff that is healthy too. i don’t miss how food made me feel and how out of control it made me.

How do you plan on keeping it off?

i will never go back to the weight i was or even close to it. i will keep it off by making smart choices for the rest of my life. it certainly doesn’t end when i get to my goal weight. nutrisystem has taught me a lot about food. i’m super thankful for it! i will use what i learned with nutrisystem forever.

How do you feel? 

i feel awesome! i feel better every day.

Has it changed you completely? 

it has changed me a lot. changed how i feel about food, myself and my life. it’s given me a lot of confidence.

I really want to encourage and help someone I love to lose weight. How can I help them?

no one likes the food police. it’s annoying and rude for the most part. telling someone you shouldn’t eat that or that’s disgusting or do you know how many calories is in that!?!?!? you can’t and shouldn’t force or guilt someone into losing weight. it won’t work. and if it does it won’t last. i give advice or my opinion when i’m asked. it’s great to want to help people but there’s a line between helping and unwelcome pushing. guilting, pushing, shaming and a know it all attitude never helps. with anything. not just losing weight. be supportive and encouraging.

Samm with Fitzy in December of 2011.

Fitzy’s birthday – April 2012. (almost a month after ordering Nutrisystem)

THEN & NOW (now being a few months ago)

THEN & NOW

THEN & NOW

What is your goal weight? What will you do to celebrate?

my goal as of now is 175 lbs because that’s the high end of my healthy BMI. i might keep going once i reach 175. i’m going to stop when i feel good and i’m happy with how i look. i plan on enjoying life happier, skinnier and healthier. i’m going shopping for new clothes. and taking a trip to wyoming (where my heart will always be). but the trip might be before i reach my goal though.

ONE LAST THING 

i don’t want it to sound that it’s all been easy. it hasn’t. i still struggle sometimes. but i made the choice that i’m going to do this and it’s worth it.

i know we all do, but try not to judge someone. everyone has their own issues and struggles. be nice. uplift each other. people rarely change their lives for the better by being judged and ridiculed.

and to the people reading this who want to change, whether it might be losing weight or any other issue, don’t listen to those who put you down. 99% of the time they are the ones who have issues with themselves and try to make themselves feel better by putting others down. don’t surround yourself with people like that. really think about if they are your real friends, or family in a lot of cases. you might have to move on without them. i’ve certainly done it and i think it’s the best thing in a lot of cases.

AND KNOW THAT YOU CAN DO IT. TIME IS GOING TO PASS ANYWAY. I CHOOSE TO LET THE TIME PASS WHILE LOSING POUNDS & INCHES. 

Samm – thank you SO MUCH for opening up and sharing your story with us. You are SUCH an inspiration to me and so many others! We’ve shared your spreadsheet with 140 people. ONE HUNDRED & FORTY. OH MY WORD! I am CRAZY RIDICULOUSLY INSANELY PROUD OF YOU!

Samm is happy to encourage and answer any questions you might have. I text her quite a bit asking if this food or that food would be okay. If I’m eating out – I can have 3 pieces of pizza right (oh crap – just one?) Did you know that shamrock shakes have 530 calories in them? HELP ME! She’s been awesome. She can be there for you too. If you want to contact her – you can friend her on FACEBOOK or email her at satrout(at)gmail.com!

TWENTY

Filed under: baby barden,bardenisms,just because,my family,newsworthy,samantha,weight loss — admin at 1:38 pm on Monday, March 11, 2013

Thirty is my goal. But I’ve lost twenty so far. Pounds that is.

It all started when I said something to my sister about wanting to fit in my size 12′s. At that time she had lost 125 lbs in 10 months – so she wasn’t going to give in to my whining – not that I expected her to. She said – how much would you have to lose? I said – prolly 30 lbs. She said – so lose it. I couldn’t whine to her about the impossibility. I couldn’t complain about how hard it would be. Not to her. She’s turned her life around and has lost the equivalent to a Justin Bieber.

So we sat down and figured out a goal. Thirty pounds – by my birthday – May 26th. 20 weeks. 30 lbs. Totally and completely reachable. By week 9 I was down 18 lbs. I started at 190 on January 1st. My highest while I was pregnant with Fitzy was 238. I think I was at 215 when I left the hospital and then got down to 210ish by January of 2012 and 190 by January of 2013. Before I got pregnant I was about 185 to 190 depending. I don’t really know because I am not one of those people that weigh myself daily – weekly – or even monthly.

I’ve been in size 10 or 12 since I can remember. Like I’ve said – it’s not about a number. It’s about how I feel. I feel good around 160. I might hit 160 and try for 5 more pounds. Cus I really love my size 10′s.

Basically what I’ve done is not eat like a piggy pig – like I was doing. I’ll give you a typical day before and after Samm and I set the goals for me.

BEFORE -

breakfast – an overflowing bowl of cereal with just as much milk OR 3 eggs and 2 pieces of toast with jelly and a big glass of milk.

snacking in the morning – goldfish here and there OR peanut butter chips and almonds or walnuts OR whatever else I would nibble on while getting Fitzy a snack.

lunch – the rest of leftovers from dinner OR a giant helping of pasta from the box OR a big sandwich and fruit.

snacking in the afternoon – the same as the morning.

dinner – big helpings of whatever we were having – cus it’s GOOD!

snacking at night – LOTS of popcorn OR ice cream OR cookies and milk.

AFTER -

breakfast – I split three eggs and an orange with Fitzy OR have a serving size of cereal with fruit.

snacking in the morning – yogurt OR a fruit OR a 100ish calorie something AND vegetables.

lunch – some of the left overs from dinner OR a sandwich with fruit OR some of the pasta Fitzy is sharing AND vegetables.

snacking in the afternoon – the same as the morning.

dinner – reasonable helpings of whatever we are having AND vegetables.

snacking at night – a calorie appropriate ice cream OR fruit OR a portioned amount of popcorn.

SERIOUSLY – mostly what I’ve done is just cut back on what I was eating. I’m aware of what I put in my mouth. I don’t deprive myself of things I would like – I just eat MUCH less of it! When we go out to eat – I order things on the low calorie end and eat only half of it. It makes a GREAT lunch the next day! I don’t eat tons of bread and appetizers before the meal. A piece of bread and usually no appetizer. And water and milk ONLY. I haven’t had soda. 

Samm had worked up a spreadsheet with the info she learned from Nutrisystem and shared it with me. I have it as a chart on my fridge – and I reference it often – but I don’t completely adhere to it. I just think about what I’m eating. At this point – I don’t have to put much thought into it anymore – it’s become natural.

When I reach my goal – I’ll bump up my calories enough to maintain. But I can’t go back to BEFORE. You have to understand that this is a LIFESTYLE change. You will have to change the way you think about food. The way you view food. Understand that it doesn’t have to control you. Samm has helped me to change those views. I would LOVE to talk about what those are – but she will cover that tomorrow!

I have to go back a little – you have to understand. I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to have an eating disorder – whether it’s not eating enough or eating too much. My weight gain over time is due to laziness – physically and in my eating choices. While I was a little too fluffy – I’ve never had to struggle with my weight. I don’t LOVE food. Cooking and eating are a chore for me. I would LOVE if I could eat a pill for my meals and get the nutrients I need. That would be fabulous. I can’t eat chocolate and as a woman I think that helps keep sweets under control – but I could be wrong. Please – don’t think – well Danielle – aren’t you lucky then. No. I’m not. While I don’t struggle with food – I struggle with anxiety and OCD tendencies. We all have something. And I write this to encourage you. YOU CAN and WILL do it!

Over the years Samm or Jared would say something about their weight and I would snap back with a – then do something about it! (I’m insanely sympathetic if you remember. Riiiight.) I didn’t understand what was SO hard about losing some weight. Just do it. So it was time to listen to myself since it was SOOOOO easy.

VERY VERY pregnant with Fitzy – by Aszur Photography

RIGHT after having Fitzy – by Bridget Reed Photography

Fitzy’s dedication – a month after his birth!

August of 2011 – oh my – that tiny boy!

January of 2012 – at the BRIDAL EXPO!

March of 2012 – a year ago.

April of 2012 – Fitzy’s birthday!

August of 2012 – by Megan Hampton Photography

January of 2013 – at the BRIDAL EXPO!

February of 2013!

March of 2013!

March of 2013 – 172 lbs.

These pictures are taken a year apart!

So was it easy? At first – not really. I wasn’t hungry but I did notice how many times I ate because I was bored or lazy. The hardest part was calorie counting – let me change that – being AWARE of calories. I would call Samm and say – DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY CALORIES ARE IN THIS? IN THAT? OH MY WORD! I had honestly NEVER noticed. I realized just how BIG my portions were. I noticed results really quickly – which made it easier to stick with. But I noticed I just felt better. I’m really surprised at how easy this has become once I made my mind up to do it! I could write SO much more – but like I said – Samm will be sharing her story tomorrow! I cannot wait for you to read it! I seriously couldn’t have done what I’m doing without her support and encouragement. SHE IS AMAZING!