Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Here Comes Tiffany Jean!

I met Miss Tiffany Jean [TJ] forever and a day ago, 12 years ago to be exact, in our oh so boring marketing class. I was a freshman starting out my 4 years of high school and she was a sophomore. We instantly became friends and we have a lot in common. Personalities, style, traits…

Christmas Eve 2011
We were best buds, who constantly hung out. We did all the things typical high school kids do, hang out at Starbucks, go to each others house, leave school campus to get McDonald’s in her 2003 Mazda Protégé hatch blaring “Disco Inferno” by 50 Cent through her Bose speakers… Classic.

We constantly kept in touch after she graduated high school and moved on to Oregon State University to further “edumacate” herself, which- if you know TJ, that’s no small task! [LOL, totally kidding, she’s actually really very smart.] We talked all the time through AOL Instant Messaging and in those days, we used MySpace.
Playing Monsters, 2012

When I was pregnant with Chi Chi, she was always with me, coming to visit. She helped me feed my cravings, helped me choose things for baby’s room and when I couldn’t reach my toes anymore, she would massage my “cankles” and then paint my toes for me. So amazing to have a friend who does that, trust me!
After I had Chi Chi, she was always there, playing and loving her, helping take care of her, building a bond with her. Malia adored her “Tinny” and Tinny would spoil her.

A few years after spending so much time with us, TJ told broke the news to us that she would be moving to South Carolina with her family. Her dad had accepted a job position and the position required them to move. So away she went, 3,000 miles away, leaving the house that built her, her friends, and Chi Chi and I behind her.

Craig Morgan Concert, 2011
Soon after she had moved, she surprised us saying she was coming back to Oregon to finish her schooling at Oregon State. YAY! She moved back and did her schooling then moved up to Hillsboro. She was staying with her friend, but after awhile, it took its toll on her and her friend’s family, so I offered her to stay a couple days with Chi Chi and I. What was supposed to be “a couple days” turned into a permanent housing arrangement but then we needed to get a bigger apartment because Chi Chi and I only had a 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment and TJ needed her own room with her own privacy. We got a new apartment and ended up living 3 years together, until she moved back to Carolina in January 2013. [More on that issue later].

Anyways, we haven’t seen her for a year and a half, and she is coming to Oregon for a wedding and a week long vacation. She and I have been literally talking up a storm, making plans for when she gets here and have been counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds til she leaves Carolina. I’m excited to see her and I know Chi Chi will be happy to see her too. Our whole relationship with TJ has been via text message and Snapchat. It will be so nice to get to hang out with her again like old times and see her in person.

Leave Carolina on your jet plane Tinny, and we will be here in Oregon to welcome you home!  

Monday, June 16, 2014

Don't Forget To Remember Me

Let me start off by just saying… These two girls are. my. life. I cannot even begin to ponder what life would be like without them. They have grown before my very eyes and I can’t help but think to myself how time LITERALLY flies by.

It seems like just yesterday that she was a little bundle in a teddy bear blanket with a broken collar bone and had her baby Looney Tunes bedding in her crib. I remember it well. White with baby Looney Tunes with pink, yellow and blue balloons…

18 years ago, I was in 2nd grade and at my elementary lunch break. I was eating my chicken burger and then my teacher, Miss Smith, dressed in her Marvin Martian button up came to find me to tell me that my dad was there to pick me up. [Side Note: Looney Tunes were so popular during my youth.]  I met my dad and my “shadow,” my kid sister, Ashley, in the front office and Ashley was screaming, “We’re gonna go see our new sister!” As if I didn’t speak English and understand her first 300 times she had said it, she kept repeating it all the way to the hospital.

We get to the hospital and find our mom in her bed and next to her, we saw this cabbage patch looking baby with dark hair in her bed. Dad introduced us to the baby, named Chandler Emily. Ashley and I said “Hi Chandler” and then kept staring at her. Ashley proceeded to ask if the baby could be held. Ashley held the baby first and when her arm got tired of holding her 10 pound, 6 ounce body, she asked me if I wanted to hold her. I looked at Ashley as if she was crazy, but since the baby’s collar bone was broken, [intentionally broken due to her size], I hesitated and then declined. I was afraid I was going to hurt her or break her since her collar bone was already in shambles but I knew right away that we were going to be close.

Well this baby named Chandler grew to be a toddler and this kid followed me EVERY.WHERE! I couldn’t take a shower alone or sleep in my own bed, let alone go pee without her asking me “Ham, what are you doing?” then watch like someone peeing in a big people toilet was the most interesting thing on the planet…
When Chandler was still on bottles, she would wake up in the middle of my bed in the middle of the night and crying cause she lost her blankie; which in our family, was famously known as her “bunt,” or wanted me to go to the kitchen cause she wanted “more milk.” Ugh. Already a pain in my rear end…

Well this Chandler character kept growing, becoming who she is today- a beautiful, yet sassy, funny 4 year old in a 18 year old’s 6 foot 2 inch, Varsity basketball player’s body. She is still a pain in my rear but if she ever needed anything, EVER, I would still be there for her. Hell, I make her new “bunts” and refill her damn milk glass for her after she’s gulped it down after chompin down her Oreo’s. She is my “little/big” sister and always will be. [Unless you are into our inside joke, she will always be my “other child.” Lol].

My little sister, Chandler Emily, but my big sister, Chandler Emily, since she has grown taller than me is STILL following me around, sleeping in my bed, taking my stuff and my car without asking, eating my food… But still, 18 years later, we are still just as close as when we were when she was just a little tyke, [ya know, 10 feet 6 inches ago] following me around, repeating every word I said, doing everything I did…
I didn’t want to break her when she was born, but I swear, some days more than others, I want to. 18 years later, I still love her to death, and couldn’t be any more proud of her.

Her future holds so many new wonderful things. She graduated high school and now is moving into college, attending Lewis & Clark to study sports medicine and will be playing her first year of college level basketball. That little tyke has grown up so much and I can’t wait to see her experience her next chapter in life. Her accomplishments are simply MIND BLOWING. Chandler, I love you! I hope you know that!


Now, THIS little bug IS my baby. I cannot believe how big she has gotten!

It seems like over night she has grown into her sweet 5 year old self. August 14th, 2008 at 3:57 PM seems like only a minute ago.

She has always been so smart, creative and attentive to details. She did the best job in her daycare/preschool so I was for sure she would love going to kindergarten. She love love loved everyday at school with Mrs. Reed and her best friend Miss Ava.

Chi Chi is an only child, but she has always done so well sharing and interacting with other children. She made so many new friends this year and she has built what appear to be lifelong bonds with some of them. Miss Ava and her little sister Norah will always be lifelong friends for us. We have connected wonderfully with the girls and girls’ parents. Lots of play dates and parties, and Miss Ava’s mother Sara and I have become great friends as well. I’m so thankful for that.

I know she is only 5 and has only graduated from Kindergarten, but it is such a bittersweet moment as a parent and such a wonderful milestone in a child’s life.

I can’t believe how much bigger she gets everyday and I keep thinking back to when she was just my little rollie pollie baby in her elephant blankie in her jungle babies themed room falling asleep to her nature sounds, watching her fishies swim around in their tank. She was my little bunny with dark hair and blue eyes, clinging onto my fingers, who loved bright colors and Backyardigans…

Hold that thought while I grab a couple tissues… =’(

My bunny is now tall, skinny, blonde and quite an artist. She loves to color, draw, paint… she does the best drawings I’ve ever seen and I love seeing what she brings home from school everyday that she made with her classmates.

She’s growing, growing, growing and almost up to first grade and I’m very proud of her and everything she has learned so far. My sweet child is finding her place in this big big world and I can only hope she knows I will always be here for her, cheering her on, loving her, and caring for her.

Malia Noela, your mommy loves you, more than you will ever know. You are my “best baby” and you will always be my once in a lifetime love. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me and you will never know how special you are to me. To my miracle baby, I LOVE YOU.

“When you pray, pray for strength, to help you carry on when the troubles come your way. And when you dream, dream big- as big as the ocean blue. 'Cause when you dream it might come true…So when you dream… Dream big.” –Ryan Shupe.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Eat Clean, Train Mean, Get Lean

For any of you who have known me, and/or known me prior to having Chi Chi, it’s really no secret that I, Samantha, have ALWAYS loved her junk food. Soda, jalapeno chips, fast food, candy… You name it, I loved it.

Prior to having my child, I never really cared about what I was eating. I was a teenager; we weren't supposed to “care.” Even after having her, I still ate crap all the time. I was 20 when I had Chi Chi so I was still fairly young enough “not to care” about what food or drinks I was putting into my body.

Sure, I wanted that young Britney Spears looking tummy with the Carrie Underwood legs, but I just could not wrap my head around giving up my junk food or drinks. I was never someone who loved spending time in a gym and at the time, I wouldn't even be caught dead in one either. HOWEVER. With that being said about the gym, I LOVED playing sports and was always athletic. That was the only thing that kept me relatively fit. Playing sports to work out was my alternate to keeping in shape.

I was 130 pounds when I graduated high school up until 20 years old when I first got pregnant with Chi Bug. After I had her and after I had turned 21, my weight went way down hill. I turned 21 in November of 2008 and was legal to drink. I did what 21 year old's do. Drank my weight in cans, shot glasses, whatever they came in. By January of 2009, my dad’s side of the family was suffering from the losing my grandmother [my dad’s mother] and some of us couldn't really cope with it. We spent the entire month at her house waiting for her to let go of life and to cope, I, of course turned to food and booze to comfort me.

After that, I continued with my journey of food, sugar drinks [as well as alcoholic ones], and ZERO exercise. I continued on that road for quite some time, almost 2 years. In the spring and summer of 2011, I started thinking about maybe getting out of my “funk” and try to thin out. My bestie, Miss Tiffany, and I started working out at our then, apartment’s 24 hour gym and would walk 5 miles on top of that. We did this for about a month or two and then I realized I was slimming down. We kept at it everyday, and I went from a size 10 down to a size 4, and some brands, a tiny size 2…


I was always a size 8. Even when I was rail, tweaker looking  thin in high school (for the record, I've never done drugs in my life so don’t over analyze my reference lol) , I was STILL always size 8.
SIZE 8. Not 4… Not 2… BUT SIZE 8. That was my number.
Now, lets not take that to mean that I didn't want to be a 4 or a 2. I loved it. I wanted to stay that way. But once I cut the weight, I started cutting out the exercise portion too. I figured I lost it, so I can afford to not work out today. Then after that, I suffered another very personal loss [that I will NOT share, so don’t ever ask] so I again, turned back to my food for comforts. Needless to say, I did gain my weight back. I was roller coastering. I went back up to a size 6. Then an 8. Then a 10. Then when I quit caring all together. I just ate, drank and ate some more. I never got my motivation back to start maintaining my weight. I felt like I was just suffering losses, which made me emotionally unmotivated to do anything.

The years of 2012 and 2013 were nothing but losses. One of the key losses I had that actually had prevented me from getting my ass back in a gym was when I had my first ever surgery in January of 2013. I had my left ovary removed and my doctor prohibited me from any exercising or anything that would make me overexert myself.

Cool story bro. While I was doing so well at going through losses and  losing everything, I figured I’ll start on my weight loss journey. 

Well crap, never mind cause now I had to have surgery and lose my ovary before I could lose my weight.  I had to WAIT to lose WEIGHT. I didn't want to wait any longer than I was putting it all off. I wanted to start. I was desperately wanting to get my body, health and my "life" back together. I felt like crap being a blob and wanted that to change. It was the most depressing, gloomy, dark feeling... And it got lonely hating it.

Well fast forward to my one year post op appointment. The doc makes sure everything healed correctly and at the same time she KNOWS how bad I want to start getting back into the gym and start working out again and get my mind, body and health back to where I wanted it. Then she surprises me with: “I know you’ve been waiting a whole year or so to be able to do this… you are in the clear to start and I’m giving you the go ahead.”

Can I get a “Sam can work out and lose weight HOO-RAH” ?!

Well she gave me the go ahead and I still didn’t start lol. I waited 3 months later until I had a job and funds to pay for it all and I finally started. At first I thought, I’ll get my membership to the gym with my kid sis and we’ll go and that’s all. Again, I wanted to eat what I wanted remember? Well that plan only worked for so long…I was following a couple of fitness pages on Instagram, then that lead to more. And more. AND MORE. Then I just finally… snapped.

When  I snapped, I snapped the hell out of it.

I wanted to work out. I wanted to sweat. I wanted to eat/drink CLEAN. I wanted to DETOX. I wanted it all.

It has been 3 months since I stopped eating fatty, crappy foods. 3 months since I quit drinking every sugar drink. I have been eating clean and learned portion control. I am drinking WATER all day, everyday. I am doing a DETOX. I am working out and walking 5 miles a day again. I have done all of this and in the last month, I have lost weight and inches off my belly. I have turned into the one thing I thought I’d never be… A health nut!

And you know what? I don’t regret it one damn bit. 

I really learned it wasn't just something you want to do and you go buy it. Its something you have to openly COMMIT to whole heartedly and mentally. You can't just say I want it and have it handed to you. Its only worth as much as the time you put into it all. I have changed my ENTIRE lifestyle for this. This is my new way of life and i am not turning back. Not ever. Yes it has been a tough road but if it were easy, everyone would do it. If I can accomplish it, so can you! I was in denial before, clouded with excuses and letting things block my way. Things have changed for me, complete 180 and I never thought I would love it as much as I do. It's the most amazing, rewarding feeling.

I am continuing with this. I WILL. I WILL DO IT and commit to this. I have changed SO much already and I’m doing the best I have EVER done. I’m on that different type of high. A different addiction. I love how amazing I feel and how I am starting to look. I am doing this for me and my daughter. I don’t want to live the lifestyle I was living in the past. I am doing this for me because it is the best thing for me and the best thing for my daughter. It is important for me to set the kind of example of the person I want her to grow up to be. I don’t want her to grow up seeing me smoke, drinking all the time, eating nothing but junk and not taking care of your body. I don’t want that lifestyle for her when she becomes an adult. Its very important to me that I raise and keep a healthy child. 

This is for me. This is for her. This is for us. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Prom 2014

*Prom Shoot that I shot at Dawson Creek Park for my gorgeous baby sister, Chandler.*

With Loss Comes Gain

Well... Let me just say that it has been just a minute or two... or ten [lol] since I have written and to my "oh so many" followers, I apologize if you were waiting to read something new and I apologize making you wait a mere 11 months for a post. But, with that being said, I'll [hopefully] make it worth your while.

Since my last post at the end of July 2013, about how we were carryin' on that ol' family tradition at a place called "Cow Camp," so much has happened. Changed. Whatever you'd like to call it. Some good. Some bad. And some we just would worry about mentioning. Here we are rolling into August 2013.

August started at a tough point. We had lost the roommate due to the simple fact that we weren't comparable to live together. Buddies, yes. Roommates, not so much. So she moved out and live went on for the both of us. Burton, Chi Chi (Malia) and I went along just fine. I knew my lease at the condo was going to expire by the end of August but I figured "hey, well if I was doing ok without a roommate to live here the first time, I should be okay this time," even though I was looking at other options. Moving somewhere cheaper if I could or always had the option to move back in with the parentals and save money.

Let's be honest, shall we? I have been moved out of my parents house since a week after my high school graduation. In August of 2013, I was 25. There was no way in hell I wanted to move back home after being out for so long. Some call it immature. Some call it too much pride. Call it whatever you want, I just felt that since I've been doing it for so long, I didn't want to move back home.

Well, a whole DAY AND A HALF into August passes. Friday, August 2nd seemed like every normal Friday. I woke up, took my shower, had my coffee and took Chi Chi to school. I was on my way to what I thought was a glorious day at work. It was sunny, clear and tunes were cranked. I was chipper and in a great mood and seizing the day. Seizing the day mind you, I get to work and spent two "glorious" hours there.

At 10 AM I get an email from my boss- "Would you please come in here for a minute."

THERE'S some great news... I walk in and close the door to find my boss and our HR rep in there. My heart instantly drops. Needless to say, they let me go. "We're gonna let you go."

Here's the thing: I didn't want to be "let go." I was a single mother to what was about to turn 5 year old.

Like the good ol' girl I am, I told that "I understand" and thanked them for the amazing opportunity in working with them. It wasn't just about the money that I was now not going to have to pay rent, utilities, or other necessities for my child and I or the long road of job searching I had ahead of me. Point blank, I loved my job. I didn't want to leave. I didn't want to give that up.

Now mind you, I just lost my roommate, right? Strike one. I just lost my job. Strike two. And crank and wind up pitcher, we all know there's a strike three call coming. I'm at bat trying to determine whether I'm gonna have strike three called or go out swinging. Now, for those of you who know me well, I always go down swingin. So my final pitch is whether I'm gonna tough out my last paycheck on rent for a couple months or if I'm gonna lose my house and move back in with the parentals and save my check.

Well. I went down swingin. Strike three on a swing and I walked off the plate like an all star who just lost Game 7 in the Series.

I gave up my condo. I started packing and started moving back back into the home I grew up in, the one I hadn't lived in since June 9th, 2006 and here it is, 7 years later and I'm comin home.

Now when you lose some, you typically gain some, right? Well at the same time I was losing my mind while my whole life was being turned upside down, I was beginning a new relationship with someone. He was completely amazing and we clicked quick. I knew him from high school but we since we were clicking and hanging out so much, he seemed to be the only thing at that time that was keeping me balanced. He was funny and always got me to smile and/or laugh when all I really wanted to do was just bawl. He helped me with my move and was so generous with finances but his emotional support was the best thing he ever gave me.

We dated and took care of Chi Chi together and did all the things you typically do when you're dating; movie night, family dinners, watch football.

Now here we are rolling into September, all moved into The House That Built Me and starting my job searching. At that same time, Chi Chi was starting something of her own. Kindergarten! She started school and made so many friends in her first week. One in particular, a sweet girl named Ava. Ava and her family lives right behind us and I had made fast friends with her mother, Sarah during a walk to school. Everyday, we would walk the girls to and from school and started having playdates! (More on this later).

Fast forward to when 'It's beginning to look alot like Christmas.'

Well to me, it didnt. The amazing guy I mentioned earlier, well he and myself had broken up. Now this one hurt- and it hurt bad. To be honest, it still does. So after a breakup and 21 days before Christmas, it was not looking like a holly jolly holiday at all. Hell, it was me singin "Blue Christmas" blues into my shot glass along with Elvis Presley. On top of that, it was the first Christmas my family and I would be spending withOUT my precious grandmother we had lost earlier in the year. (See blog June 14, 2013). I spent the most of December in a "slump" constantly asking "Where are you Christmas?" with Cindy Lou Who. I had to put on my "big girls don't cry" pants and put on my happy cheer for my little one. She kept me going, just like always. I was, am and always will be, thankful for that. We had a great Christmas and I was very fortunate to be with the ones who love me even though I was having the hardest time. As if that wasn't tough enough, I was STILL looking for work. Talk about a stress level increase. Yikes! I spent so many sleepless nights on my computer filling out applications and sending resumes. I felt like the concessions guy at the ballpark screaming "Peanuts! Get your peanuts!" but no matter how loud you yell it or how many times you repeat it, no one even looks. That's totally how I felt.

Then out of blue clear sky, the saints came marching right in for me. One out of the many sleepless nights fell through for me. I got a call a few hours after submitting my resume, asking me to come in for a interview. I went (of course) and then 15 minutes after I had left, I got a call for a second interview the next morning. Again, I went. I felt like things just might turn around. I tried not to get my hopes up just yet and didn't want to put all my eggs in the "I can be done job hunting" basket. I called 3 days later to see if there had been any decisions made in regards to my interview and the voice on the other end of the line informs me that they "decided to go with someone else but thank you for meeting with us."  I was crushed. I really wanted this one.

A day passed by and I checked my phone after doing the dishes. Well I see a missed call and a voice mail had been left by the company that I just spoke with the previous day saying they had chosen another candidate. I wondered, 'What's going on? Did they call me on accident?' It was no accident. The candidate they chose, backed out of the position and I had been the first alternate. *SCORE! I was offered the position to fill the front desk at an investment company. I have been here since March and I absolutely love it here. The people are amazing and the location is great, right off the max line!

All caught up to now, I have just been working, still living with the parentals and saving to get Chi Chi and I our own place in a few months. We have been living a lot better now, a lot less stress free since I started working again. We still have our daily struggles, but who doesn't. Bills are paid, food is in the tummies, and summer is in the air.

I promise to be better about blogging, and who knows, I just *may* post again later tonight- but only if you're lucky! :]