Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Penny Pinching Tip: How to get Starbucks for Free

Everyone, I am obsessed with all of these smart phone savings apps! I have been saving money like crazy since I discovered them and I thought I would share since I am loving this so much (and, let’s be honest, because you earn $5 per referral).

But really, who doesn’t want Starbucks for free? And if you don’t like Starbucks, you can redeem the money via PayPal, venmo, Regal Entertainment Group (movies), or iTunes. Let me explain.

The app is called Ibotta and you can download it in your app store. Click on my link to download though and help me earn more money for Starbucks! Winking smile My referral code is kwonbeg.

Here’s how it works. Various “rebates” are added to Ibotta for groceries, alcohol, healthy & beauty, apparel, electronics, restaurants, special occasions, pets, home improvement, babies & kids, and even movie theaters. You simply go to one of the locations listed such as Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl's, etc., make your purchases, verify the items by scanning the bar codes, take a picture of your receipt and then await your earnings. They’re really quick at processing them too. Once you have met the $5 minimum for Paypal/venmo or the $10 minimum for the giftcard options, you can redeem your earnings. It literally took minutes for me to receive my gift card.

I have saved $24.75 in about 2 weeks or so. And I am not buying things that we don’t need or want. Seriously, they have rebates on things like Chobani yogurt, milk, bread, eggs, cleaning supplies, meat, bottled water, etc. I earned $10 by purchasing my formula from

You form a team with all of your friends and can earn more rewards that way. There are bonuses for making certain purchases and I’ve made quite a few dollars by those too.

So check it out! And I’m not posting on behalf of Ibotta or anything—totally just wanted to share my new obsession!

So here’s the referral link:
and my referral code: kwonbeg

I have more savings apps that I will share with you in the future!! What’s your favorite money saving app?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The First Month and Infant Reflux

The first month was hard. We had our joyful moments, of course, but I think we had more moments during that first month that made me question whether or not I should have even become a mother.

I loved Sienna so much—but since I had never been a “baby person”, I doubted my every move and felt like I had no idea what I was doing. Sienna’s was the first diaper I ever changed in my life—I really mean it when I say that I had no experience with babies. And I had no idea what the norm was—so I didn’t know if Sienna’s screaming during almost all of her waking moments was normal or if something was wrong.

There were those people who knew how to lift me up and there were those who brought me down and brought me to tears when I was finally out of their presence. If I am ever around a struggling mom, you can bet the only words I will offer (if any) will be of encouragement.

I cried all.the.time. Constantly. Everything made me cry. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I had the Baby Blues—but not anything like post-partum depression. I became (what I feel) was a horrific wife. I lashed out and my husband took the brunt of it. And then I felt horrible and I would cry some more. Thank goodness this eventually went away. And I am even more thankful that my husband loved me unconditionally—I really learned this during the first month and my love for him became even greater. He always had the right words.

I have talked about the breastfeeding problems on a previous post. That was stressful for me and baby. And I’m sure it was hard for hubby too.

When Sienna was born, we were told that she may had swallowed and aspirated amniotic fluid. She would throw up a greenish liquid and we were told how to put her on her side when this happened so that she wouldn’t choke and then use a sucker to get it out of her mouth. You can imagine how the nights went—complete exhaustion but yet so afraid to close your eyes because your baby girl could choke!

They decided they needed to pump her stomach. They thought that pumping her stomach might help her with breastfeeding. It didn’t. And she continued to throw up—even when we brought her home. We kept her very close!

When she was three weeks old, I was changing her diaper and she looked like she was choking. She straightened her body out, her little eyes bugged out, she turned red, and looked like she couldn’t breathe. It was terrifying. I don’t know if I did the right thing or not, but I did what we learned in our infant CPR class and turned her upside down. She then let out a scream that sounded like she was in pain. The same day, she projectiled a yellow substance and I found a little blood in her diaper (she hadn’t had the normal hormonal stuff for over a week).

I brought her into the doctor immediately. If ever you wished your family was close, it’s in times like these. All alone with our baby girl, I was on the verge of tears during that doctor’s appointment. Our poor baby girl looked so sick. This is when we found out that she had lost a significant amount of weight. The doctor ordered an ultrasound and the nurses inserted a catheter for a test---not something you want to happen to your 3 week old. The poor little girl.

Thankfully, hubby left work and wasn’t working terribly far away. He was there in time for the ultrasound and I felt so much more calm with him there. Everything turned out to be normal with her organs—such a relief!! But yet, what was causing her symptoms?

She had another choking episode at the doctor’s office while the nurse was in the room—they saw what I tried to explain to them—she called other nurses and the doctor into the room after that. They finally understood.

She was diagnosed with infant reflux and put on Zantac, which is administered with a little syringe. We met with lactation, etc. And I finally made the decision, during the time between this visit and her follow up, to start supplementing. And everything started to change.

There were no more choking episodes. She started to look healthier and scream less often. There is no greater relief than to know that your baby is ok.

When she starts having choking episodes again (even now), I know it’s time to up her meds again, which has to be done as she grows. The doctor said some children grow out of it and others will have it their entire lives.

I am so thankful that it was something that could be so easily fixed (or symptoms diminished) by medicine. I cannot imagine what parents go through when their children have something serious.

I had planned on this post being about the first three months, but the first month has a lot of detail—so I’ll just leave it at this and write a separate post for the second and third months.

At four months, I am SO glad that it gets better…more on that later!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Guilt Tripping Someone who is Overweight

Back when I was losing weight very successfully, I loved to watch Biggest Loser. One of the ways trainers would try to get contestants in the right mind set to lose weight was to essentially make the contestant feel guilty for being overweight.

For example, how could you possibly choose “insert unhealthy food here” over your child or loved one? Don’t you know that this food will kill you? Why aren’t you working harder; do you want to die of a heart attack and leave your children behind?

And while these questions might have truth to them, I no longer believe this is the way to encourage someone to lose weight. And here’s why:

Being overweight comes with a lot of guilt. Heck, maybe guilt is even a contributing factor to weight gain since those of us who are overweight are also often guilty of eating our feelings.

I feel guilty every single time I put something in my mouth that deep down I know isn’t going to get me closer to my goals. I feel ashamed of the rolls of fat that make my shirt snugger in my mid-section. I am ashamed of my thighs that, when I was younger, school-age boys would make weatherly references to. I can’t even lift my arms without feeling ashamed of my ever-growing bat wings. I am ashamed that I can no longer wear my beautiful, sparkling wedding ring that I had resized when I was meeting my weight loss goals.

And with shame comes lots and lots of guilt.

And I worry about keeping up with my daughter when she is old enough to walk and run around. And that encourages me to get back on track. And then I slip up and I feel overwhelmingly guilty that I cannot stay on track, even for her.

And the truth is, when you try to “encourage” someone to lose weight by reminding her/him of the loved ones that he/she could potentially disappoint by being overweight, you are implying that the choice comes down to whether or not the overweight individual will chose, say, a brownie over their beautiful little child or loving spouse.

And that is a lot of guilt to lay upon an already struggling soul. And often that guilt becomes an awful lot of shame.

If most overweight people are like me, they’re already beating themselves up. And I would say this occurs every single hour of the day. I doubt an hour ever goes by when I am not conscious of my overweight body, of my food choices, of my health, and of the guilt I feel because I struggle so terribly.

So if guilt tripping is not the way to go, how can you encourage a loved one to lose weight?

By encouraging healthy behaviors. And not in a way that is obvious that you are trying to get him/her to lose weight.

For example, suggest going for a walk because you want to spend time together—not implying that this person needs to move more to burn more calories. Build the individual up—more than likely he/she is suffering from low self-esteem. And most importantly, offer unconditional love.

To make changes, one has to be emotionally ready to do so. No amount of pestering is going to make that happen. It’s truly a process.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Look Up

I was looking at my Facebook Timeline the other day and I thought, “wow—I sure have been negative lately”—and that’s totally not me. I’m usually a glass-half-full kind of gal.

I complained about a store clerk who rubbed me the wrong way, voiced my distaste for an article I had read, grumbled about choosing the line at Wal-Mart where the woman in front of me asked for every single of her 20 items to be rung up on a separate receipt, my piece of junk Toshiba laptop with Windows 8, and even how reading the comments on news stories makes me lose faith in humanity. All in the past two weeks.

Whew! That’s a lot of complaining.

It made me realize that I have been spending too much time looking down. While looking down, all I see is the dirt around my own two feet—all of the bad and totally self centered. And in these moments, I realize it’s time to look up again.

There’s a bright blue sky above. The sun is often shining and even if it’s not, the rain in the clouds keeps the earth alive. There’s a better perspective when looking up—less self involvement, in fact, you don’t even see yourself when you look up.

And I mean this in a couple of different ways: simply finding the positives in every experience, but also in looking up spiritually.

Just this morning I thought to myself, I am glad that it is the soul that is eternal and the body that is temporal.

Look up. Look up. Look UP.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Losing a lot of weight and then gaining

Some people can hide their struggles, but the struggle with weight is always visible.

Everyone noticed that I lost a ton of weight. I received comment after comment about how my hard work had paid off. “You look great”, they said.

But then I started struggling and gained some back…that was ok—not terribly noticeable. But then when I got pregnant I encountered a weight struggle like no other and put on more weight than I should have. And now I’m paying the price.

But since weight is never a matter of private concern, everyone else can also see that I’ve put on weight. And it’s embarrassing.

While I was pregnant, a woman wrote a letter to my husband and me and casually mentioned that she hoped I wasn’t gaining too much weight. I don’t know this person all that well…since when is saying something like that even remotely acceptable? I tried to shrug it aside; I was pregnant after all.

Recently, I saw a woman I hadn’t seen since pregnancy and she quite obviously gave me the once over. I’m talking a head to toe 10 second critique of me with her eyes once over. What makes someone think that this is ok? Do you think I don’t notice?


Nobody knows about the other things in life that I am successful at. They just see what they see.

I can’t take the stares. And to be truthful, I mostly can’t take the assumptions I make in my head about what these people are thinking. And I take every little comment to heart.

Someone recently asked the baby (more on this topic at a later post), “what do you and mommy do all day?” And later asked me “Do you go on walks?” I can’t help but think this person thinks I’m sitting around eating all day…see how I think?

And then I used to be a go-to person about what was healthy and what was not. Is this food good for you—that kind of thing. People still ask me those questions and I no longer feel like I have any right to answer. Yes, I know the correct answers—but what right do I have to say anything about being healthy and weight loss? None. I am ashamed.

All of those old voices in my head are coming back larger than life with their obtrusive tones and outright rudeness. You know the ones that I fought so hard to get rid of while I was losing weight? They’re painfully loud and clear.

There’s a lot of shame involved in weight gain.

They say you have to hit your low before you are ready to make changes. Well this is definitely one of those lows…but yet I still continue to struggle.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Baby Sienna—Picture Post

I haven’t shared any pictures of our baby girl for a while—so here we go! These are over the past couple months.

This is the most recent one taken this week.


Love how she often places her hand on my chest when she goes to sleep.


Love sleeping babies.



3 month picture.


I suppose that’s enough for now. Winking smile 

She is almost 4 months already! Time flies by. I swear she looks a little bigger every morning—and she probably is!

She’s getting to be more “fun” now with lots of smiles and a few giggles. My mom got her to laugh weeks ago but hubby and I still struggle to get her to laugh!! I jokingly call my mom the Baby Whisperer but I think there is some truth to it.

I’m going to do a post on the first three months soon—better get at it before I forget what it was like!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Doctor’s appointment and other updates

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Our little family took our first camping trip. We enjoyed our time. Hopefully this is the first of many.

I mentioned that I had a doctor’s appointment last week. I had blood work done and everything came back perfect! My blood pressure has also been perfect. Even my asthma symptoms have practically disappeared. I’m really not sure why—but it’s pretty great. My doctor even said this was one of the worst years for asthma. I think that something in the office where I worked triggered symptoms. It would be pretty great if this improvement continued.

The only concern my doctor had was my weight (of course). I told her that I’m working on it. But it’s so good to know that I am at least healthy. For the most part, I eat healthy foods—I just sometimes eat too much or have a few too many sweets.

I feel like if I could just lose 10 lbs. that maybe I would be more motivated. I have such a mountain in front of me. It’s daunting. I have so far to go.

At the moment, I have just been happy not to be gaining any more. But it’s time to see some losses. As I discussed yesterday, I am not able to nurse. I did see my weight increase after I couldn’t nurse anymore (baby started refusing). While I was nursing, I lost weight—which I have since gained back. Another reason I am sad breastfeeding did not work out for me…but I’m really not surprised. Anything that would make weight loss easier is never an option for me. lol When am I ever going to realize this?

Oh yeh—another thing… I talked about how I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue this blog or start a new one. I decided to continue this one—but with a slight addition. My blog is now “A Journey to Thin: The Baby Weight and Beyond Edition”, as you can see in my header. What do you think? I kind of love it. This way it makes me feel like I can open up about more than simply weight loss. It’s also just a continuation of my weight loss journey in my next phase of life... and more!

Although, yesterday I kind of poured my heart out about the topic and didn’t get any comments. So I’m not sure anyone wants to read about these mommy topics, but I guess it’s my blog! lol.

I want to do some redesign and I might try to do it myself—I just have very limited time to do so. So maybe that will come sometime in the future.

So I guess that’s pretty much what I have to share today! Have a good day!

Monday, August 18, 2014

How it feels when you want to breastfeed your child but you can’t

Today I want to write about something near and dear to my heart before it becomes a distant memory and the emotions associated with it aren’t as fresh. While this was/is my experience, it may not be the same as yours—but I think that the experience is probably not a unique one and there are many moms out there who have gone through the same thing. My hope is to validate your feelings and let you know that you are not alone.

Before our sweet baby girl was born, there was no question about whether or not I would breastfeed. My husband and I took the breastfeeding 101 class, I read books about breastfeeding and learned about the basics of technique, the joys and the struggles.

We thought we were ready. I thought I was ready. We didn’t buy a single bottle or can of formula prior to baby’s arrival. After all, I was going to breastfeed because “breast is best”.

I’m not going to go into all of the details of the struggle—but it lasted a good two months. Even at the hospital I had to self express colostrum and feed baby with a spoon. During the two months time I absolutely had to supplement with formula because baby was losing weight—even by a month she wasn’t up to her birth weight yet.  But I nursed her, rented the hospital grade pump and pumped to try to increase my milk supply (if that was the problem? The supply never increased), drank mother’s milk tea, and sought the help of lactation consultants. While many times I thought that I had it all figured out, nothing ever worked.

It came down to a choice. And while the choice was crystal clear, it did not make it any easier. And this is the part that I want to share with you most:

You look down at this beautiful baby who is screaming and you don’t know if this is simply her disposition, if something is incredibly wrong with her, or if she’s just hungry.

You have given every ounce of your strength, physically and emotionally, to try to give this precious child the very best and you come to realize that physically, you are just not capable of nourishing her.

It is hard to accept it. Breastfeeding is natural. Why can’t I do this? I’m a mother and I cannot nourish my child. What is wrong with me?

The first feelings you have are of guilt. You educated yourself on all of the benefits of breastfeeding and now you cannot provide. You fear you have failed her.

And next you will mourn. You will cry many, many tears. You wanted to feel the closeness and develop the bond that you’ve been told only nursing mothers have with their children. But you never got a chance to experience that because it didn’t happen the way that nursing naturally should. Instead it was stressful for you and the baby. And then you feel guilty again.

You feel guilty for making the choice to even supplement with formula. What if you tried harder? But you know that you have nothing else to give. And then you mourn again.

But let me tell you that after being through this and past this that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And while you may still feel the pangs of guilt every time you give your child a bottle, you are providing for your baby and she is happy and healthy for the first time—and you will feel overwhelming relief that your baby is ok. You will cry again—but this time because your heart holds so much love for this child that it is overflowing with joy that your child is finally thriving.

You will still experience the closeness to your baby. She will adore you whether she is fed breast milk or formula or both.

And you will still give everything you have.

For me, that means pumping twice a day. And while I still only get 3 oz. total to give her each day, I know that I am doing everything I can for her. For you, that may mean something else.

But you will give your best for your child—most importantly that means surrounding her with the greatest love she will ever know. That’s what mothers do.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Getting Back on Track with Weight Loss

It’s time to get serious with weight loss again. There’s baby weight to be lost and then there’s also weight to be lost that I gained before pregnancy. I’m am pretty much starting all over again but I’m trying not to let that affect my attitude and motivation. I thought I’d put together a list of what’s necessary to get back on track with weight loss. Here we go…

Mark the Destination

In any journey, you have to know where you’re going in order to get there. It’s no different in weight loss. This is the big picture, the ultimate destination. There will surely be many stops (mini goals) along the way.

My goal has always been to lose half of my body weight from my highest (non-pregnant) weight. My ultimate destination is 144 lbs.

Have a Plan

What’s the method of transportation to get you to your goal?

I plan on counting calories using My Fitness Pal and syncing up with Body Media to track my calorie burn. To begin, I will aim for 30 minutes of activity 3 days per week—I plan to do this by going for walks. I’m setting a very achievable goal to get started—but will change it as I progress.

Set a Short-Term Goal

Choose a small and obtainable goal that will take you on the first leg of the weight loss journey.

My first mini-goal is to lose 10 lbs.

Find Support

This is probably the most important tool in weight loss. Support comes in many different ways. Blogging is a wonderful support system, enlist the help of your spouse or a friend, or even just reading fitness or health related magazines helps.

I plan on blogging about my journey and also actually start reading all of those healthy and fitness magazines I’m subscribed to! My hubby has been changing his habits (and hasn’t stopped since we started the last time!) and my dad is also doing a great job of losing weight. I can get support from them and other family members and friends.

Reward Yourself

Anyone who followed my weight loss journey the first time around knows how much I believe in rewarding yourself for losing weight. This makes the entire process a little more fun. There should be small rewards for mini-goals and maybe a larger reward for the ultimate goal.

My reward for meeting my mini-goal is to get a pedicure. I am holding true to this one. My feet are a mess (and have been!) but I am not allowing myself a pedicure until I lose those 10 lbs.

My ultimate goal reward is to go to Hawaii—I never met this goal the first time around and I am going to keep going for it!

Do you have any diet tips or lifestyle change tips for getting back on track with weight loss to add to the list? I’d love to hear any ideas that you have for either getting back on track or things that you have already found success doing. Hit up the comments!

This post is in partnership with This post was written by me and all opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A New Life—The Next Chapter

Thanks to all of you who took the time to offer up some words of encouragement—I appreciate it! Now I remember why blogging was so helpful the first time around.

Last month, I quit my job after my maternity leave to become a stay at home mom. I know it was the right decision! I am so much happier and not stressed out all the time any more. And I feel at peace—that’s always my indicator in making choices.

It felt strange making the final decision and going in to speak with my boss. I worked there for 7.5 years. He seemed surprised and tried to convince me to continue working there. I declined and he said I could come back whenever I wanted—so it’s good to have that option and I can’t say how much joy it brought to my hear to leave on good terms. The memory will be a pleasant one.

My new job is so much more rewarding! All my time working during those 7.5 years, I dreamed of being a SAHM. The day finally arrived and so hubby and I determined if it was financially feasible, I thought long and hard about all of the options—and decided (for sure) that this is what I wanted to do—hubby offered support for whatever choice I would make. But we both want me to be home to raise our sweet little girl.

That being said, being a SAHM has challenges too! It’s not all about wearing yoga pants, trips to Starbucks and shopping at Target. (I admit this is the picture I had in my mind before baby arrived) But it’s much easier to deal with the struggles when you’re doing it out of love…although sometimes it can feel heavier on the heart because you care so much. This summer has gone so fast—time just flies by! I have something to occupy every single moment of my day it seems.

I am learning that it’s ok to let the dishes sit on the table if I need to tend to baby…they can be cleaned up a little later! Things like that are new to me. I have to learn to relax a little bit and realize that I’m on baby’s schedule these days—I have to put myself second. Also, just because I might not bring in money—what I am doing has worth. And I have to remember that.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. So this is my chance. As soon as I feel like I’m comfortable in the mommy role—I am going to try to do some writing. Getting back into blogging is my start.

I am looking forward to chasing the dream of bring a writer and hopefully being able to make some money doing it. Yes, I made money as a writer as a reporter and at my last job as a technical writer—but I want to be able to write a little more on my own terms and set my own hours. Exciting!

So that’s who I am now… I definitely feel the need to pick up the writing thing. I don’t want to become “just mom” but want to pursue my dreams and keep up the things that make me, well…“me”.

I have felt that loss of identity as I have gained a new one—hard to explain. But really, this is my opportunity to become whatever I want to be…so I need to believe in myself and go after it! Being a mom comes first, but I can still be me—a new me with a new life.

I’m living the next chapter—may it be well written.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Here I am again…

I can’t tell you how many times I have started “dieting”, failed, and started yet again. Too many times! I am currently in my “started yet again” phase and let’s hope this time it sticks.

My primary Dr. won’t refill my prescriptions until I have labs drawn and make an appointment to see her. So I have a feeling that I will receive a swift kick in the rear when I see her this week. Maybe that will be motivation enough!

At a bare minimum, I have to get my pregnancy weight off. If we want to have another baby, I absolutely have to have this weight off. There really isn’t any choice in that matter. And I want to be healthier next time around anyways—so this is a really good reason to get my act together.

I don’t know how I ever lost almost 90 lbs. before. Really. I cannot find that motivation—but it has to be within me somewhere. How can I tap into that again?

I get so discouraged when I diet for a week and only see a 3 lb. loss whereas hubby sees a 6 lb. loss. I know 3 lbs. is really, really good—but when the mountain is steep, climbing over a single stone doesn’t seem like much. I know, I know… I have to start somewhere.

This weight loss thing is tough. Struggling with your weight is tough. Exercise is tough. Putting down the sweets is tough. But you know what? I bet heart attacks are harder. Diabetes is harder. Aches and pains from being overweight aren’t worth it. An early death, that could have been prevented, would be much harder for everyone that loves me.

Get your act together, Alissa. You HAVE to do this. There’s so much more to life than overeating and inactivity.

I really do feel like such a failure. I want to feel like a success again.

What kind of encouragement can you give me? I really need it!


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