Category Archives: family

My break up with the Mirena IUD one year ago- must read

Required disclaimer: I may wear scrubs each day but I am not a medical doctor, and this is my personal experience and opinion. Every one of us is created different and your body may react differently, but this is my story….

My experience with the Mirena IUD didn’t start off bad, nor go poorly, but I always felt more bloated and like I just couldn’t lose the weight despite working out, eating right and staying healthy.  Since we were not sure whether our family was complete yet, neither my husband nor I considered more permanent options and since I heard people used the Mirena for a long time, I assumed it was safe.   But last year, we changed all that.

After about 5 years of having it, I started experiencing vertigo and other symptoms and tests ruled out tumors or other causes so I wasn’t sure what was causing them. Last year, around Halloween, I was experiencing these symptoms again and was the heaviest I had been since having the kids or getting married.   Despite a solid work out routine, I felt unhealthy and had a huge gut. At a mere 61 inches tall, 133 lbs. is a lot to carry around and a very unhealthy BMI.  I had tried giving up soda and alcohol and didn’t shred a pound. By January of 2015 I had already replaced the Mirena once, so last year, I went in and had it removed and completely changed my diet at the same time. I reduced sodium and sugar from my diet and eliminated all microwave meals which are super high in sodium. I was told by the doctor to give it one year to see if the Mirena was the culprit for my weight and symptoms.

It’s now a year later and for the past 3 months I have reintroduced Chinese food (without MSG), normal salted foods, and maintained a healthy diet and the weight is not back.  But I remain true to my habits- more fruits and vegetables, smoothies, protein, and replacing soy sauce and canned foods with healthier alternatives or home-made options.  My gut that was pretty prominent is gone and I feel better.  Once 132-133 last year at this time, I am now 115-116.  I was wearing size 10 shirts and large size t-shirts but now am back to small shirts and size 4 pants. I was wearing size 8 pants at this time last year.  I even squeezed into size 2 earlier this year and was so excited- I have never worn size 2!   I still don’t drink soda but I drink wine and beer in moderation and eat a balanced diet and I haven’t felt period pain and experienced spasms and cramping like I did on the Mirena.

Think about it – something that stops your periods completely over time just isn’t natural and naturally your body responds by retaining water and fluids, or other things.  For me that fluid retention was very harmful and resulted in unhealthy conditions.  Again, will you lose the weight and the gut I did if you break up with our IUD?  I am not sure, but I do know that the Mirena IUD was simply not right for me, and now that I am hormone-free, I feel much better and more energetic.  I have not done anything with my eating habits to lose weight, nor diet, and I am still keeping the weight off.   There are other life stressors for me now, but going natural without hormones or any artificial things inside my body has been the smartest decision I made.   I have a friend who tried Essure (two of them) and it didn’t go well either.  Some others swear by it.  For me, I prefer nothing inside me that is unnatural or unhealthy and do not want any more surgeries or artificial options.  If you are lucky to have a husband who can shoulder the permanent birth control option, I urge you to do research, consult your doctor, and make informed choices. 
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Wilderness Aware Rafting – Amazing family fun!

Rafting 2016 July 16We went rafting as a family for the first time.  The last time my husband and I went rafting was when we were still engaged to be married, so this was truly a treat.  Wilderness Aware (WA) is a great company, located in 20160716_123242Buena Vista, Colorado., and they do more than just white water rafting.  WA offers full-day and half-day rafting trips, a dinner float (this one is so cool), multi-day trips, including camping or B&B stays with rafting included.  You can also book zipline tours, horseback riding, and bike trips through WA.  Their website is great, easy to use, and offer discounts when you book on-line.

SAM_0647WA facilities are great!  The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and extremely helpful.  Once you arrive on-site, you can change there, buy water, and apply sunscreen (they provide this).  If you do a full day rafting trip, breakfast is provided on-site too!  You meet your guide and get your gear, and then receive a safety demonstration.  We had Isaiah as our guide and he really hit it off with our kiddos.  SAM_0654He even let my eldest row with him.  She loved it!

It was their first time, and the half day lower browns canyon (Class I and II rapids) really made them feel comfortable.  They are actually ready for Class III and IV now.  But mom and dad may not be, just yet.   The dinner float was assembling when we returned to Buena Vista, and it looks so interesting – You float down, and eat at a grill, and then return back. The views SAM_0660are breathtaking on the raft, and Colorado is so scenic, so I can imagine how much more amazing it would be to have a nice dinner and a glass wine along the Arkansas river while admiring the view.  We had fun rafting as a family, and I know we will return next summer, if not sooner, to take in some more of the fun.  We want to try zip lining as well, and Wilderness Aware is a great company to book trips through.   DCIM101GOPROThey are organized, and made us all feel special. They sent us information before the trip and kept us well-informed on construction in the area, best route to take, and what to leave behind in the car. All in all, our first rafting trip as a family was a huge success, and we are looking forward to a return trip very soon – thanks Wilderness Aware for an amazing whitewater rafting trip.

Disclaimer: I was compensated with a free family half-day Lower Browns Canyon raft trip in exchange for promotion and this post.  The review is honest, and the opinions expressed here in are my own.  

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For my mom – Mother’s Day 2016

Note: This essay is published at Mile High Mamas for their mother’s day essay contest, but I have permission to share it here too. 

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I love this quote from the Disney© Movie, Odd Life of Timothy Green, “There are 2 people in the world who want you more than anything. They will do their best, they will make some mistakes, and you only get them for a short time, but they will love you more than you can ever imagine….”

I only realized how much my mom sacrificed for us after I became a mom almost 9 years ago. She was 25, and married off to a man she hardly knew (arranged marriages back in the day).  Then, she was immediately setting sail (okay, she flew) to a country almost 10,000 miles away from her home for a new life.  She left behind all she knew, the languages she spoke and the people she loved.  Over the last four decades, she also moved all over the country for dad’s career, and stayed at home for us.  She shuttled us to all our activities and school events.  When we were sick, she stayed up all night worrying and caring for us.  Her love didn’t end when we went off to college.  She was always thinking of us.  Mom sacrificed so much for us.  She’s my hero, not just this Mother’s Day but every day.

This mother’s day is especially special for us.  Mom recently started a journey that will be both difficult and have its triumphs too.  Mom is private about her life so I won’t share more but we know she will do great! She is the strongest person I know because of all she did for us and all she sacrificed.  Only a strong person can do that! My mom is unique and special, and loved by all who meet her.  While I may not have mirrored everything she did, I am better off because of the choices she made for us.  This mother’s day, I want her to know that she is my hero.  Because of her sacrifices, I am here, living in a country with amazing opportunities.  I am all that I am because of what she taught me and how she cared for me.  I have her personality, her smile, and people often mistake me for her when I call them.  There is a saying that “we live on through our children.”  Well, if this is true, mom, I have lived and breathed you for 43 years, and will keep doing so as long as God allows.

Thanks for being one of two people who wanted me more than anything and doing your very best.  Your children and grandchildren are proof that you do more than your best.  Thanks for making mistakes along the way.  We made better choices as a result of them.  God has given you to me for 43 years and I pray he loans you to us for much longer.  After all, he still wants you to teach your grandchildren a few things we didn’t want to learn.   Finally, thanks for loving me more than anyone can ever imagine.  Now that I am a mom, I actually don’t have to imagine.  I only hope I can be half the hero for my children that you are for us.

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Denver Art Museum Samurai Exhibit – Now through June 5th #SamuraiDAM

20160306_131418*warning: some of the images appear strange or rotated using Chrome.  Sorry about that.  It is a Chrome issue.

We visited the Denver Art Museum’s Samurai Exhibit today, on opening day, and it was a treat!  The Art Museum is iconic in Denver, and showcases some of the most amazing works of art you will see.  Do not miss this special, limited engagement exhibit while it is in town.  Now through June 5, DAM is featuring the Samurai Exhibit.

DAM 1 The Exhibit: The exhibition Samurai: Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection tells the iconic story of Japanese samurai through 140 objects from one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of samurai armor and accoutrements in the world.
Surrounded by murals and war regalia, visitors will be immersed in the life, culture, and pageantry of samurai in the 1100s through the 1800s. Exquisitely decorated suits of armor, helmets, weapons, horse trappings, and additional battle gear will be on display, demonstrating masterful craftsmanship.Samurai will highlight the artistic inspiration for these elaborate suits of armor.

The exhibition is curated in collaboration with the Denver Art Museum and The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum: The Samurai Collection, Dallas. An exhibition catalog, Art of Armor: Samurai Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection, will be available in The Shops and online.

DAM 2DAM 3

Once you exit through the gift shop, the kids receive a sticker to make a seal.   Cross over 14th using the bridge (level 2) where you will arrive at the North Wing and the Samurai-themed kids activity area called the “Just for Fun Family Center.”  Parents can relax here and the kids can dress up as Samurai, make hats with their family crest/seal, and practice building sculptures with soft, large, hand-sculpted wooden rocks made by Sam Mobley.  In this area, kids can play games, draw, and cut loose.  The mural backdrop by artist Jena Siedler transforms you to Japan while you relax and play.  We had a blast today at the Denver Art Museum!

DAM 4Logistics & Information:   The exhibit is family-friendly, but I recommend kids ages 5 and up will enjoy this, and not so much the younger kids.  The museum provides you an audio guide at the entrance, and there is a separate number series for families versus adults to hear.   For the family guide, a “tengu” speaks to you about the pieces and trains you and the kids how to be a Samurai.   In folklore, the Tengu is a half bird, half man, and you meet him at the end of your audio tour.  The experience was fun for my kids, and they stayed engaged throughout the exhibit.  It is quite an extensive collection, and we were very impressed with how well it was displayed, explained, and laid out.   The exhibit is handicap accessible, and easy to push wheelchairs and strollers throughout the museum.

DAM 5Denver Art Museum does a great job with crowd control by doing timed entry for the special exhibit.  This ensures everyone enjoys the exhibit without being trampled, or overcrowded.  I wish other museums in the area would learn from this and follow suit.  It is so pleasant to walk around, read placards and enjoy the exhibit, rather than being shoved and so crowded-in that you cannot see a thing.  I absolutely love the Denver Art Museum for this reason, and this exhibit and the entire museum is enjoyable as a result.

You may buy your tickets on site, or online (by time), and it is not included with the general admission, so plan accordingly.  Members get a special rate, and there are senior, military and other discounts available.  Youth under age 18 are FREE at the Denver Art Museum but there is a $5 fee for them for this exhibit.   Photography is permitted in this area, but no FLASH photography is permitted.  The audio guides are well worth it!

The Museum is located near Civic Center Park, and there is ample garage open, but on Sundays, street parking is free.  Check the events calendar.  You can also park at the post office/federal building for $5, and walk a few blocks.  There are plenty of private paid lots as well.

Required Disclosure:  My family and I attended the Denver Art Museum’s Samurai Exhibit for free in exchange for an honest review and posting information about this special exhibit.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

Don’t miss this Groupon Deal (active now) for The Museum of Art in Denver or click below, and search for other great deals:
Once you click here, search for Denver Museum of Art. There is an amazing membership deal right now, you can try clicking here too.

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My Reality*

*Note:  This post is published today at Mile High Mamas for their feature story on motherhood and the choices we make.  Thanks to Mile High Mamas for allowing me to share this and reproduce here, and thanks to my friend Eileen who helped me edit this.  Who knew getting it down from 2000 words to 600 something could be so hard?

“Women’s libbers say we can have it all. I do not believe that we can have it all at the same time. Life is give and take. For me, I cannot immerse myself in my career without falling short in other areas. This is not a pessimistic approach or a judgment against those who chose their careers over staying at home. This is my reality and I would not change it for the world.”  Amber Johnson, Mile High Mamas

She’s not wrong, but my reality is a bit different and I wouldn’t change it for the world, either. Being a parent is a tough balancing act that takes a lot of work, and this women’s libber believes you can have it all, if that’s what you want.

I am an “older” mommy.  I had a professional career when I chose to get married, and even later still, when I chose to have children.  Actually, I have two careers; I am an attorney and a JAG for the Reserves. Working now for 17 years in both careers, I have seniority, have moved up the ranks and earned promotions, and I am successful as both a professional and a mother. I am doing what I love and have amazing kids to boot!  I have great employers that are flexible, and understand that my family comes first.  I can achieve balance.  That’s why I didn’t take a break.  I did not want to lose the employers I had, and frankly, it’s not easy to jump back into a career like mine.

Another great thing I have is the perfect husband – well, perfect for us, that is.  There is no division of labor.  We both do it all! Our mutual respect makes our reality work.  Our house may not be clean when you surprise us, but we are raising two great kids.  They are smart, funny, and support their parents’ choices to work (my husband also had a20150320_112821 career when we married and then had children).  They see the independence in me, the can-do attitude, and they emulate that.  Which is why I often wonder why I am asked to justify why I chose a career after I chose to have kids. My husband is never asked that.  For me, I don’t choose either/or.  I choose to have it all as long as I am able.

I acknowledge that I can do this because of him. He does way more than his fair share of household chores and shuttling the children around.  I am lucky to have an employer who allows flexibility for all its employees in the year 2015- what a concept! We are also lucky that we picked a school that has an excellent schedule for our dual working household.  My children have never gone without.  I had a longer maternity leave and was able to nurse both kids upwards of a year, and they get to go on some pretty amazing trips at an early age because of my work.  I haven’t missed a single field trip, play or gymnastics meet.  With 17 years seniority, I have plenty of leave and I take time off when I need.  When my parents needed me in 2012, I was able to fly out each time and help them as well!

I hold no judgment against your choice to have a single income family, and we ask for the same in return.  I want my kids to succeed in all they do, but I also want that next promotion, and I am not ashamed to admit it.  So that’s why I choose it all, not because I want to escape my family (because I don’t), but because I am driven and I love serving my country too! I hope my girls one day say what a great role model they had in me.  But mostly, I hope my girls will grow up in an America where no one will ask them, “why do you choose to work,” or “why do you stay at home.” That would be a great reality, indeed.

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