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Welcome to the fifth check-in for the Spring Shed!

It has been a surreal and bittersweet week for our country and my family personally. From the bombing at the Boston Marathon on Monday and accompanying manhunt over the past 24 hours to the fifth anniversary of the birth and death of our baby girl Molly, it has been quite the emotional roller coaster for so many people.

I had already almost finished writing this week’s update when the news broke last night about a shooting on the MIT campus. So I figured I would still post today, but I have been so consumed by the media coverage (both social and cable news), that I kept putting off sharing it here. Since there is a bit a of a lull in the developments, I thought I would go ahead.

Here is the back story about this support group/blog hop for those trying to be accountable for the positive changes we are making in our lives in 2013. After ten weeks of doing the Winter Shed, we moved on to this Spring Shed. Whether you are trying to shed weight, find more balance or let go of something else that is dragging you down in this second season of the New Year… We can do this — together!

Now to report on how I did during week five of the Spring Shed and week fifteen in 2013:

1) Healthy Eating
A. Try to follow the U.S. government’s “Eat My Plate” recommendations (with emphasis on 3 servings of veggies & 2 fruit)

I did well with this, except for one day.

B. Continue to practice portion control and count calories.

I did very well with this, except for one day.

C. Limit my intake of sweets, soda, alcohol and other pelvic floor flare up triggers.

I also did well with this and experienced very few food related flare ups.

2) Keeping Fit (Physically/Emotionally/Spiritually) & Shedding Weight

A. Get 7 – 8 hours of sleep every night

I did fairly well with this. I think I got less than 7 – 8 hours of sleep two or three nights, but those nights I probably got at least 6 hours, which is not enough, but better than less.

Updated to add: As I mentioned toward the beginning of this update, I originally wrote this post on Thursday evening. Just as I was finishing it up after 10:00 p.m., I happened to check Facebook and Twitter only to find out about a shooting of a police officer on the MIT campus. That led to me following all forms of media, from cable news channels to social media, though mostly Twitter and discovering slowly throughout the night/early morning what the shooting led to, which as I imagine you all know by now, was the capture and death of Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect #1, with Suspect #2, and possibly one or more accomplices, still on the loose. As I tweeted at one point in the wee hours of the morning:

So I actually pulled my first all-nighter since October 14 – 15, 2012, when I stayed all up night to finish this in time to be able to post/share in honor of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day which is observed annually on October 15th. Before that I don’t recall the last time I stayed up all night, it had probably been years.

B. Drink enough water

I did well with this.

C. Exercise 5 – 7 days each week

I exercised 4 out of 7 days this week. Last Friday I woke up feeling dizzy and nauseous, and though I didn’t feel worse as the day went on, I also didn’t feel a whole lot better, so I did not exercise as I had originally planned to that day. This was the fourth time I had a day like this in the past 12 months, so I ended up going to see my PCP on Monday to try to determine what might be causing these episodes (she thinks it may be a form of vertigo connected to inner ear issues). On Saturday I ran with Sean & Abby (who I pushed in her jogging stroller) a 5K route in our neighborhood. On Monday I ran a 5K neighborhood route on my own. On Wednesday I powered walked with my mom and On Thursday I mopped up water in our flooded basement.

D. Train for a few Spring 5K races

I ran 5K/3.1 miles twice this week. I intended to run on Thursday too, but ended up mopping up water in our flooded basement instead.

E. Shed 1 – 2 lbs. per week

I lost 0.5 lbs. this week, for a total loss 8 lbs. in 15 weeks (since Friday, December 28, 2012).

Though I am pleased to be down a bit from last Friday and have broken through my plateau, this was another week when today’s weigh in doesn’t tell the whole story, as mid-week I was down 1.5 lbs. from last Friday, which is also the lowest I have been since early 2007, before we began our first IVF cycle! So even though I bounced back up a bit after indulging in some sweets and other junk food on our Molly’s 5th Heavenly Birthday celebrating/honoring her life and memory with family, friends and good food, I was so proud to get there and know I can/will get there again soon! :)

F. Meditate & pray daily

As with last week, though I did not formally meditate much, I did focus on my breathing some when I was stressed and I did pray a lot.

3) Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

A.  Go to my physical therapy sessions as scheduled

I had a good PT session this week, though my PT and I are both frustrated with me that I have not been doing my homework as much as I should be.

B. Watch my dietary triggers

I did well with this.

C. Do my “homework” (i.e. PT exercises, stretches and such)

I did a bit better, but am still not doing very well here and REALLY need to work on this. Also, for the first time in weeks I actually forgot to take my medication on two nights, which helps with my pain control. So that was frustrating. Also one of the nights I remembered later at night before I went to bed, but since it makes me drowsy, if I don’t take it early enough in the evening I find it really difficult to get out of bed the next morning.

4) Housekeeping

A. Basics Daily (dishes, laundry & straightening)

I did pretty well with this.

B. Weekly Cleaning (dusting, sweeping, scrubbing & mopping)

I didn’t do great with this, but due to the flooding in our basement on Thursday, I certainly did my share of mopping!

C. Organizing & Purging (sorting, filing, selling &/or donating)

I did okay with this.

5) Family & Faith Focus

A. Bob: Hanging out together with my husband at home, on date nights and spending quality time and have fun together with our family (including family meals, game nights, movie nights, day trips and vacations).

Bob was out-of-town this weekend, so we didn’t get the usual time that we have together on Saturday and Sunday. We also both had meetings, work to do at night and other things scheduled throughout the week, so there were many moments when we felt like that saying, “ships passing in the night.” But we did finally get to connect more the last few nights and spend some time together, which was nice. Bob also took our daughter Molly’s 5th Heavenly Birthday off, on Wednesday, to be with our family to celebrate her life and honor her memory, which means a lot to me.

B. Sean: Spending quality time and have fun together when he not in school, activities or doing homework. Helping him to learn to manage his time well, take care of his belongings and keep his room and the basement play area clean and organized.

I enjoyed the time I had with Sean and Abby while Bob was away this weekend. Though it definitely helped me to appreciate and respect single mothers even more, getting a tiny glimpse of what it is to take care of my children on my own for about 36 hours. I even took the kids to church by myself on Sunday, which went much better than I expected, which was nice.

A highlight from the weekend with Sean was Saturday night, after Abby went to bed. I taught Sean how to play a version of the card game solitaire where two people play together/against each other. My sister and I used to play often when we were kids. You play by each having one deck of cards and dealing a normal game of solitaire while sitting across from your opponent. Then you proceed to play your cards, but as the Aces begin to show and get placed above the cards, each player is allowed to play on each others cards in the middle and it becomes a race to see who can go out first! I remember my sister and I used to sometimes play “Double, Double Solitaire” where we would both use two decks each and deal 10, instead of 7, cards.

Sean also had the day off on Wednesday, for Parent/Teacher conferences, which worked out nicely being that it was his sister Molly’s 5th Heavenly Birthday. That way he was able to be with us at mass that morning, which we had said for her, and for the rest of the day.

C. Abby: Spending quality time and have fun together when she is not at preschool, playdates or other activities.

As I said with Sean, it was nice and went well caring for Abby without Bob here this weekend. Of course we all missed him, but it is good to know that “I can do it” on my own, if and when I need to.

Abby was very sweet this week as we prepared for her sister Molly’s 5th Heavenly Birthday. She was excited to celebrate the baby she never got to meet and helped me to make Molly’s birthday cake. As we baked and decorated the lemon flavored cake, Abby kept saying, “Molly is going to love this!” I reminded her frequently that Molly wouldn’t actually get to eat any, but I do believe that our baby girl somehow knew about our celebration in her honor this week.

Finally, this week was the “Week of the Young Child” at Abby’s preschool, so we had fun dressing her for the various theme days, including “pajama day” and “silly day.” She also got to make a “me box” which we decorated with pictures of her with loved ones and words about things she likes to do. Inside Abby’s “me box” she put some things that are important to her, including a favorite book, which she then brought to show her class.

D. Molly & Babies Benson: Honoring their lives and memories, as well as trying to minister to other bereaved families and friends who have lost loved ones.

It was bittersweet, as always, to celebrate the anniversary of Molly’s birth and death for the fifth time this Wednesday. It was a very rainy day here in Chicago, which was not ideal, but we still had a very nice celebration of our baby girl’s Heavenly birthday. The mass said for her that morning was short, but sweet. Bob, Sean, Abby and I were asked to bring up the gifts before communion, which was a special honor for us on a special day for our family. The priest who said mass was very kind and thoughtful to add a special prayer during the petitions for those who have lost babies/children and it was especially meaningful to hear Molly’s name read aloud when he spoke of who the mass was intended for that day.

On Tuesday, a much warmer and sunnier day here, I went to the cemetery by myself, which I hadn’t done in a while. It was nice to have some time at Molly’s grave without distractions. I added some new decorations in honor of her birthday and took some time to just be there, remember and talk with my Molly-girl. That helped me to have that special time to process this milestone, as when we returned to visit, sing happy birthday and release Molly’s five pink balloons on Wednesday, it was pouring rain. So though it was still very special to be there with our family, we didn’t linger very long, as we were all getting pretty wet.

After we visited Molly’s grave, we went back to our home for a brunch with a small group of loved ones. It was a delicious meal, made mostly by Bob, who could be a short order cook, with pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, a homemade coffee cake made by a good friend and the lemon cake for dessert, which Abby and I had baked on Tuesday.

Many thanks to everyone who reached out to us on Wednesday to show us how much you care and that you also remember our daughter/sister Molly and how important she is to our family and me. Your love, support, kind words, thoughts and prayers mean a lot to us. xoxo

I also continued to work on my project in honor and memory of Molly’s 5th Heavenly Birthday on Wednesday. If you haven’t already read my Team Caring Connection post, click here to check it out. I am pleased to share that the t-shirts we are having made in honor and memory of our babies (with their names listed on the back) now represent 36 families and over 50 babies.

D. Extended Family: Appreciate the roles they play in my family and my life, be patient with the areas in which we don’t always see eye to eye and prioritize spending quality time and having fun together when possible.

Again, we are grateful for the family members who were able and choose to be with us on Wednesday to celebrate Molly’s life and honor her memory, whether you were with us in body or spirit.

E. Friends: Keep in touch, check in and show them I care. Get together when possible to spend quality time and have fun together.

Likewise, thank you to our friends who helped us to celebrate Molly’s life and honor her memory, in person and with your cards, emails, phone calls, texts, Facebook messages and comments here on my blog.

On another note, we have a few personal connections to the tragedy in Boston this week. We were relieved to find out that everyone we know and/or our loved ones care about who were there, for the Marathon, did not suffer any physical injuries. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends who did lose loved ones in Boston or whose loved ones were injured by the bombings.

F. Faith Community (Parish, RE, MOPS & CRHP): Stay actively involved in our parish church community. Fulfill my responsibilities and enjoy the last two months of my involvement with the second grade religious education program, as a catechist, and the MOPS group I am a part of, before I transition out of both to focus more of my time and energy as Co-Spiritual Director for the Women’s CRHP retreat program at our parish.

Starting to sound like a broken record, but I am also very grateful to our faith community for helping us to remember our baby girl Molly this week, as we marked this milestone of five years since her birth, death and ascension into Heaven.

6) Writing & Reading

A. My Blog: Aim to write at least two – three posts each week.

I only shared one blog post this week, but it was a big and bittersweet one in honor and memory of our baby girl who left this world much too soon in April 2008: Remembering Molly (5 Years) ~ Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

I was working on a Gatekeeping post to share on Monday. It has been over six months since I last hosted this series on my blog and something happened which moved me to want to do so again. I started writing it Monday morning and intended to finish it later that day when I got word about what happened in Boston at the marathon. So I will get back to that post and share it here sometime very soon.

As for what happened in Boston at the marathon, I actually started writing more than one post about it and my personal connections. But with it being the week of Molly’s 5th Heavenly Birthday I could never bring myself to finish them. I had too much already going on in my mind and heart. So many others wrote thoughtful blog entries reflecting on the tragedy and loss, that I felt maybe this time I did not need to join the chorus. I know it’s not too late for me to share about my experience and insights, especially in light of the development overnight, last night, which I chose to stay awake to follow. But as Elisa Camhort-Page said so well in her BlogHer post, Social Media and Tragedy: What Blogher Does and Why, its okay to be quiet sometimes in the wake of such crises, even as a blogger. So we’ll see if I decide to write and share about it at some point in the days to come.

B. The Today Voice: Fulfill my weekly writing responsibilities through the end of June, which I have committed to and enjoy the process of writing about the weekly prompts.

This week, week 42, I wrote about some bad things which have happened to me that, in some ways, seemed to turn out for the best.

C. Exhale: Continue to serve as a Contributing Editor helping when I can with the publishing our website, as well as also writing reviews and/or essays each season.

I did not do anything with Exhale this week.

D. Special Projects (First draft of my book & other freelance writing): Aim for 15 minutes a day, as when I have done that in the past I have been amazed at the incremental progress I am able to make.

I actually worked on the first draft of my book and my book proposal some this week. Yay! It is very slow going, but I continue to be impressed by what I can get done in 15 – 30 minutes, when I really focus.

E. Read (books, blogs, magazines & other online news/articles of interest): This always seems to be at the bottom of my list of priorities, but is something I get so much out of when I find/make time to do.

I am reading Jill Savage’s new book No More Perfect Moms and participating in her Facebook study, which began on Tuesday. It is a short, easy to read and inspiring book about “fighting the perfection infection,” which so many moms, including me, seem to struggle with.

F. Comment on others’ blogs: Prioritize this, with emphasis on return comments and then trying to check in and keep up with other blogs that I follow.

I did not do a lot of reading and commenting on other blogs this week. I was too consumed with following the national news and processing the milestone of the fifth anniversary of Molly’s birth and death this week.

As I shared in the intro to my Winter Shed Series…

When I reflect on what has helped me to shed weight, get/stay in shape in the past, prioritize housekeeping tasks and find more balance in my life, accountability is huge! I have kept myself accountable various ways in the past, but this time I am finding doing so publicly here on my blog have been effective.

Once a week, on Fridays, from now until at least mid-June/Summer, I will continue to check in and share how my week has gone in the key areas I am working on. My hope and intention is that knowing I have this self-imposed report card to file will continue to motivate me to stay focused on my goals.

For those who want to join me in this “Spring Shed,” I will add a Linky Tool to my weekly Friday posts and you are welcome to link up to your Spring Shed blog entries, and/or you can comment here on how you are doing from week to week, so we can support and encourage each other, as well as share what works and what doesn’t for each of us when it comes to striving towards our goals.

Please join me and we can cheer each other on as we kick off the second season of 2013 strong (and stay the course long past February 16th)!

We can do this — TOGETHER!

You are welcome to grab the code for the Spring Shed button by clicking here and put it on your blog. The link will take you to a Google Doc where you can copy the code. If your browser does not allow access to your computer’s clipboard, you can use Ctrl-C for Copy and Ctrl-V for Paste, or use your browser’s Edit menu.


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