Weight Loss

August- 185lbs.
February- 163 lbs.

My sister asked me to post a picture of myself now that I've lost a few pounds.  I searched for a 'before' picture, and most of what I could find had me wearing Wyatt in the Ergo.  So this one (from August) will have to suffice, even though it was six months ago.  I was about six weeks post partum, and weighing in at 185 pounds.  Now I am eight months post partum and weighing in at 163 pounds.  I am dying (!!!) to get down to the 150's.  159 will be a celebration day!
Maybe this before/after post will help keep me motivated!


Care Packages {Take Three}

 Friend Julie
Holy hats! Julie, a friend from high school, knit a hat for every member of our family! We {adore} them.  Logan has not taken off his Viking hat since he got it. "It keeps me cozy," he says, pulling snug on his ears. I love it!

 And the crab hat for Wyatt is priceless! (I love his face in this!)

She also sent baby food, jump ropes, popsicle forms, gum & pencils for Josh's class, chapstick, Sensitive toothpaste for me, stickers & candy.  The boys are loving the jump ropes & can't wait to make some popsicles!

 Grandma Carol & Papa Carl
Thank you for the butter, corn dogs, cheese (!!!), carrots and everything else.  
These packages, full of staples, are exactly what we need.  

 And the boys are overjoyed to have "real" cheese, as they call it.  

They will be equally excited when Grandma & Papa come to visit in March & bring us groceries from Anchorage- cheese hot dogs, chicken nuggets, lasagna... our mouths are watering!

{Jack was "helping" open Nanny's package... see how helpful he was?}
Nanny & Papa
Our package from my parents last week had groceries as well as the ingredients & recipes to make homemade creamer and a delicious salmon dinner.  

 I wish I had taken a picture of the salmon dinner I created from the recipe my dad sent.  It looked like it was out of a magazine, I swear!  And, it tasted awesome-- double prizes!

My friend Theresa sent us every possible type of salmon flavoring, as well as a box for making salmon patties (yay!), two onions, a lemon & three apples. I cannot tell you how excited we all were to have apples. And I can't wait to use the onion in our chili tomorrow! Not to mention having some new ways to cook all the salmon that is in our freezer!

Savanna is my super talented, artistic cousin who sent Josh & I a drawing of our wedding photograph. Isn't it crazy good?!? Love it! Thanks, Savanna!

 Christine & Tyler
Tyler was the boys' classmate at Little Acorn Preschool and they miss him very much!  He (& his momma) sent the boys dinosaurs, puzzles, flashing St. Patrick necklaces & more.  

 They had the most fun opening this box, full of little treasures just for them. Thanks, guys!

Aunt Julie
Josh's sister Julie is so religious about sending us packages.  We love getting packages from her because they always have snacks for the kiddos & some kind of activity for the boys.  Yesterday we got the stuff to make flubber, which we will make today, as well as bath rollers/soap the boys can use to color on themselves, and a ton of other stuff.  

The boys are especially loving the Phineas & Ferb Pez dispensers. 

We also got ice cleats & our entire Fred Meyer order, as well as my last Target order (hello curtains!) this week which was all very exciting.  As you can see, the ravens (I think that's what they were) got to our grocery box while it was in transit from the airport to the post office.

I ordered from Fred Meyer in Anchorage for our first grocery order because I liked the ordering method- you can just e-mail a detailed list, include your debit card # and they'll call you with any replacements and the total price. Plus, they are in our mailing area, so it's the cheapest postage possible within Alaska.
Josh had ordrered from them in August and wasn't happy with their packing skills. I ordered anyway & hoped for the best. I was disappointed.  They put all our sugar & flour together in one HUGE plastic bag, so when all of the bags (except one flour) ripped open, it was a GIGANTIC mess, not to mention a BIG waste of money.
So for our next order I will try Wal-Mart in Fairbanks & see if they are better at packing.  The only drawback is you have to call in your order & give it verbally, which makes me nervous in terms of details, and it takes them nearly a week to fill the order, as opposed to Fred Meyer who took only three days.

We also found a lot of the items we need on Amazon, and have placed a few orders there for foodstuff.  I am thinking we will use them as often as possible because there is no handling fee and also free shipping!
We still {love} getting mail, packages & support from each & every one of you. I have been updating the Care Packages Page, located at the top of the blog, under the header, periodically as we have received different things on our lists.  Thank you so much.  I can't express enough how grateful we are for your well wishes and expressions of support in the form of packages chock full of things we need or want.

"To love and be loved is the greatest happiness of existence."
-Sydney Smith


{PS- Don't forget to post your questions for my Q&A post!}


this & that

 My brain is full today.  I am thinking about a million things. And I thought, hey, let's put this blog to good use & try to sort it all out.

 I will soon be posting another Care Packages blog~ boy were we spoiled on Wednesday~ and I have another blog, one about Motherhood, in the works as well.

{Valentine's morning...}
 We had moose the last two nights in a row.  First steaks, then a roast. It was delicious!  I was really proud of the roast- I threw it in the crockpot with a soup starter & it was a huge hit!

{Julie sent us everything I could need to decorate for the holiday of love!}
I have lost another pound.  I am down to 163 pounds now. I haven't been at 163 since before I had children, so I am feeling quite inspired.  For five weeks now I've been doing the Mama Wants Her Abs Back workouts, and last week I added the Mama Wants Her Body Back workout.  So now I'm working out six days a week.  But I am loving it.  The workouts are short (ten or twenty minutes, depending which one I do) and I am so much happier after I do them. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I think I could see the 150's, and that is exhilarating!

I am glad I've been working out because it has been giving me an extra boost of energy, which I have needed with this sleepless baby of ours.  

Here's the deal- he's been waking up five to seven times a night pretty much since we got here.  I thought it was to eat, but after reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (HSH, HC) front to back, I now know that there is no way he needs to eat that often.  So we tried "Crying it Out" about two weeks ago, but it was miserable.  He was still in our bedroom, and he cried for over three hours!  We almost lost our minds.

So we went back to what was working, which was me waking up every two hours to hold, feed & console him back to sleep.  As you can imagine, that wasn't actually working.

So on Wednesday night we moved the baby's crib into the boys' bedroom, upstairs next door to our room.  The boys went down pretty easy, and they were all asleep until 10:30 when Wyatt woke up crying.  Josh went in to console him, but he only cried louder.  The twins started to stir... I gave up. I fed him.  And again at midnight, one, four, and five.  Epic fail.

So last night we moved him downstairs into the playroom and I slept on the couch.  I was determined. This was it. I was going to sleep train this baby if it killed me.  He woke up at 11:30, which was an improvement as he's usually awake by 10 or 10:30, but once he woke up, he would NOT go back to sleep. He cried until 1:10am.  Yes. For nearly two hours.  Once we hit one'o'clock I knew it was time for him to eat (according to Dr. Weissbluth who wrote HSH, HC).  So I scooped him up, fed him & put him right back in bed. Voila. By 1:30 he was asleep again.  And he slept until 5:00am, when I fed him again (per Dr. W's advice) and put him back to sleep. He slept until 6:30.  So while it was not perfect (I could have done without the two hour crying block) it was an improvement over going in six times.

I am hopeful that moving the humidifier in there tonight will help.  The air is really dry and when he woke up at 11:30 last night he was coughing pretty bad.  I am committed to only going in twice to feed, at about midnight & five.  And when he turns nine months, I am going to cut one of those, per Dr. W.  I am very hopeful this will improve. Because if it doesn't, I am going to spend the rest of my life walking around in a blurry daze.  Yesterday morning I showered, turned off the faucet, opened the shower curtain, realized I hadn't washed my hair & had to turn the shower back on to do so.  Being sleep deprived is obnoxious.

And knowing he's going to be up, needing me, crying any minute, has brought back my old foe- nighttime sleep anxiety. I lay there, mind racing, thoughts frantic, unable to take a deep breath, knowing that as soon as I fall asleep I will hear him and have to get up.  It's crappy.

Josh is picking up an accent. It's crazy to hear him talk.  I hear it the most when he says Logan. The L lasts longer than it used to: Llllogan. And his t-h is turning into d.  Like that=dat.  His O's are long, like he's from North Dakota, and his R's are different. It's how his students talk. And everyone in the village, really. It's rubbing off on him. I love it.

I'm jealous.  So when he starts sounding Native, I put on my Sarah Palin accent (I will admit, I do a mean Sarah Palin impersonation!) and together we become Alaskan!  Oh man, good times.

{We did haircuts for the first time in Marshall. I cut everyone's hair- Josh, Logan, Jack & Wyatt}
 We were also talking, not in our new accents, about our old pets.  Every time either of us crinkles up a piece of paper, we think of Sukie, the cat we had from our wedding to just last year.  She used to come running when we did that, and then we'd throw it for her, and she'd chase it all over the house. 

{The boys always ask Josh to carry them like a sack of potatoes...}
And that got me thinking about Bonnie, the Scottish Terrier we had growing up.  And how whenever we had popcorn for years after she'd passed on, we'd all miss throwing it to her, or calling her to eat it when we dropped it. She loved popcorn.  And we loved her.

{It always ends in a fit of giggles!}
There are some things I've been enjoying lately, despite the lack of sleep around these parts:
-Wyatt & his love of Cheerios.  The kid is addicted! He smiles at the box when he sees it! 

{Jack discovered a hole in his sock one morning}
-My new house cleaning plan.
I have never had a house so big, and cleaning it two weeks ago took the entire day Sunday.  So last week I just didn't clean it- not a good option.  Then this week, it hit me. Pick one room for each day of the week to tackle.  

{I think he is growing!}
Monday: The main living area (living/dining/kitchen)
Tuesday: The playroom & arctic entry
Wednesday: Downstairs bathroom
Thursday: Twins' bedroom
Friday: Our bedroom & upstairs hallway
Saturday: Our bathroom
Sunday: Mama's Day of Rest!!!
I did it each day this week, and the house feels tidy, plus I am not overwhelmed. Awesome.

{Wyatt's old bath seat has made for some casual movie watching for Jack... hehehe!}
-I've also been enjoying reading again.  I read Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. It's a novel about a set of twins born in Ethiopia, and I could not put it down.  And the last two chapters, I bawled my eyes out. Just sat on the couch reading, tears streaming down my cheeks.  It was a touching book, beautifully written, so moving.{love}

{He just cracked me up sitting in there!}
 I am looking so forward to the weekend.  Everything slows down & Josh is here with us.  I love that. I think that the weekends were the worst part of being apart.  Oh, how I missed him.  Now the weekends have their sparkle back.

{Oh, how I do love this baby!}
 Our weekend plans:
  • Take turns sleeping in... delicious!
  •  Hang curtains in our bedroom
  • Also, hang hooks for our broom, Swiffer & my cooking aprons
  • Attend the Junior High Basketball Tournament with the boys tomorrow while Josh takes pictures for Yearbook
  • Make bread on Sunday, as well as Chili in the crockpot
  • And, finally, tonight is date night, which means pizza, (this week it will be home made~double yum!) soda, a movie (Seven or Inglourious Basterds-- It's my week to pick, and  I can't decide), and Red Vines for dessert.
{He is just so stinkin' adorable!!!}
I've been inspired by Helen at Three Times the Giggles to do a Q & A.  She lets her readers pose questions and then she answers them in a blog post.  I think it'd be fun to know what people want to know about me/our family.  I feel like I pretty much "spill the beans" on here, but if there's something I've been holding back you'd like to know about, let me know!
Bring on the questions!



 I've been obsessed a bit with Wyatt's birth lately. I imagine it's been on my mind because I have been working out. I hate to admit this, but I bought the Mama Wants Her Body Back workout videos (regular, Booty & Abs) and I've used them off & on for a few years. (Mostly off...) But since we moved here, I've started doing them.  Particularly the ab video.  It is super easy, ten minutes, and I can feel it working.

 Working on my abs, and feeling the muscles growing stronger near my cesarean scar (I say "scar" as opposed to "scars" because they cut me open in the same exact spot twice) has got me thinking of my whole birth experience with our newest addition.

 It was awful, to put it simply.  My pregnancy had not been idyllic.  Then to follow that with a 24+ hour labor to no avail and an eventual c-section after all that effort was really crappy.
At the time I was just happy to have the baby out, healthy.  I was grateful that the twins were cared for and I had Josh by my side. I was thankful for the four days we had in the hospital, just the three of us, a glimpse of the life we missed by bringing twins into the world on our first parenting go-round.

 But now I realize how much I missed. I missed out on birthing him.  I labored. Good lord, did I labor! But I didn't get to complete what I started.  But what really bothers me isn't that I had him taken out like the twins. What bothers me is how completely exhausted & out of it I was for his first 24 hours on the planet.  I missed out on his first bath- I kept falling asleep, literally in the middle of sentences- as well as memories of my parents being there, holding him.  I don't remember any of it...

 I was swollen for days from all the liquids they were pumping me full of in an effort to get labor going.  And I remember distinctly how heavy my eyes felt. Particularly when they first pulled him out. Josh was sitting somewhat behind my head, and I told him, "I want to open my eyes and look at him, but I just can't."
Then while we were in recovery I physically couldn't open them.  I was so completely sleep deprived, all I could do was lay there while Josh held our little boy.
We've been talking that Wyatt will likely be the last little Cunningham for us, and while no firm decisions have been made, I am feeling good about that.  I am okay with not being pregnant again. I am okay with not recovering from another c-section.  I am okay with having three little boys & a husband who loves me.  I am lucky to have them.
And even though my birth experience with Wyatt was not all that positive, the goal of a healthy baby being born was accomplished, and I am trying my hardest to enjoy everyday with him now....


the perfect day

Yesterday was the perfect day.

I slept in while Josh manned the kids; then they all napped; then we headed outside.

It was perfect timing, as Wyatt was ready for his third & final nap of the day.

So he snoozed away, cozy in his Ergo, wrapped in a million layers, plus a blanket.

Our first destination was the river. The Yukon River.  Walking there was a piece of cake- all downhill.

I will tell you, though, that coming back up kicked my butt! I'm wearing the baby (probably about 25 pounds now) and pushing Logan's back to help him keep momentum... My thighs were burning!  That kind of hill plus the snow makes for a killer workout!

It was so beautiful, the wind mild enough to be refreshing, I think we were all filled with wonder.

The boys scampered down the hill towards the boats parked on the bank.

As we crept nearer and nearer I kept asking Josh if we were on the river yet.

Finally he said yes. We were on the river. And he pointed out that the chunks of ice in the snow were pieces that had at one point floated on the river while it was in the process of freezing.

Here we are, about halfway across the river.  Not far from where we were, there was a group of people ice fishing. I kind of wish I hadn't seen that... it made me realize that the ice is not as thick as I might think!

While we were walking down to the river, all four of us holding hands, I said, "Can you believe we are just out walking on Saturday afternoon down to the Yukon River?  That we live, with our three kids, in the middle of nowhere?"  
He replied, "It's kind of a "never in a million years" sort of thing. I would have never predicted this."
Then as we walked out, taking in the trees, the mountains, the sun, the clouds, I just felt peace. Peace about the choices we've had to make, peace about the road it took to get here (the suffering, the tears) and peace about our future here.

You get a good feel for the village, standing in the middle of the frozen river, snapping shots in a row...

The houses, the boats...

The four wheelers & snowmobiles, 
"snow-go's" as Marshall kids call them, 
"snow-bales" as Jack calls them, 
and "snowers" as Logan calls them.

I am anxious to see what the river looks like when it's melted.

Josh says it's breathtaking.  He has a view of it from his classroom, you know.

From our house, if you crane your neck out Logan & Jack's bedroom window, you can see a trace of it.  But mostly we see tundra.

So I think this walk to the river will likely become a regular thing, so I can get my eyes on it.

That's like the size of my graduating class. 

After our trek back up the hill, we headed to Marshall School to play on the playground.

The boys are just loving it here.  Jack loves being with Josh.  For him, that's the only thing that matters. In the mornings he wants Daddy to make him breakfast; after work he wants Daddy to hold him on his lap; and at bedtime he wants Daddy to read his story.

Logan loves exploring outside. He was the one who so desperately wanted to see the river.  He wanted to go all the way across!  The other day when we went out, just the boys and I, he climbed a "snow mountain" (AKA snow pile created by the city plow) and afterward he stood at the top and exclaimed, "I am the best climber in the world!"

They also love seeing the other kids.  And the other kids love meeting them. They are always trying to figure out how to tell them apart. It's sweet.

The snow at the playground is very high. Josh estimates there is about four feet of snow.

So the slide & some of the other equipment are buried at the bottom.

That didn't stop the boys from having a good time, though!

On Friday one of the principal's daughters asked me what I thought of Marshall. I told her honestly, "We are very happy here."  It felt good to say. It feels even better that it's true.

"The grand essentials of happiness are: 
something to do, 
something to love, 
and something to hope for." 
-Allan K. Chalmers

After about two hours outside, we headed home for some warm cocoa with marshmallows & fresh baked cookies out of the oven.  Just as we were finishing up our snack, Flora (our next door neighbor & Josh's fellow teacher) pounded on the front door, motioning for us to come out.

I grabbed Jack and Josh grabbed Logan and we flew out the front door onto the railing to discover a moose, just steps from our railing stairwell.  Josh ran back in the house for his camera & memory card, so by the time he snapped some pictures, the moose had moved on, but let me tell you- it was so close!

Within minutes there was a crowd of people, and about five snow machines & four wheelers, full of people, there to see. Josh says when there is a moose in town, someone gets on what they call the VHF & announces it, so everyone in the village knows.
It was a cow- a little girl moose- so not very big.  Had it been a bull, Josh says we probably would have watched it get killed.  Crazy, right?!?
Such an eventful, awesome day.  
The best day I've had in Marshall yet.  
I can only imagine more like it on the way!