Friday, January 31, 2014

Flashback Friday

2013 was a year of renewed health for us! During the 12 months of 2013 (actually mostly in the first half of the year) Kirby and I lost a combined 70 pounds (give or take a few) and got way healthier and feel significantly better than we have in as long as we can remember. We are so thankful for the changes that has brought to our lives. Many people have asked us how we've done it. What's the secret? So I thought I'd share. It's not magic and it hasn't always been easy or without sacrifice, but it has been so very worth it! Every treat not eaten, every dollar spent, ever minute of exercise. All worth it to get to this place.

Here we are in August of 2012 (or maybe early September . . . we were at the state fair when it was taken). I am amazed when I look back at old pictures at how far we have come!

I finally had had enough! I was tired all the time, didn't feel good overall, and certainly needed to lose some weight. I also wanted to get in shape and just be healthier overall. I had tried changing my eating, exercising more and nothing ever seemed to work. Or to stick.

I had an acquaintance (friend of a friend) that I knew had lost significant weight with the help of some natural, whole food-based supplements. I was curious, but skeptical. Finally one day I asked her about it. Turns out it was more than I wanted to spend and I wasn't sure it was worth it -- or that I trusted it would work -- so I just kept on doing nothing. Then I found out that another acquaintance of mine (wife of a guy Kirby used to work with) had regained her energy and health AND lost weight (I wouldn't have thought she had any weight to lose, but the 15 pounds she lost were a bonus on top of the new-found health!) using the exact same supplements. I got more curious and less skeptical. I thought about it a few more months and finally bit the bullet and ordered the starter kit of supplements. They have a 30-day 100% money back guarantee, so I figured I had nothing to lose.

I started on the supplements in November of 2012 and lost about 6 pounds the first week and proceeded to slowly and steadily keep losing until I'd lost a little more than 30 pounds. I have kept that 30 pounds off now for nearly a year. Kirby joined me in using the products in January of 2013 and he lost about 40 pounds over the course of a few months and has kept his weight off as well.

Here we are in August of 2013. Almost exactly a year after that other picture was taken. What a difference a year can make.

More important to use than the weight we have lost is the fact that we have gained energy. We have gained health. I was able to go off a prescription that I took for asthma -- which, with the weight loss and overall health gained was no longer an issue for me. Kirb used to suffer from pretty regular migraine headaches and has not had one now in about a year. We can do better all the things we love to do and enjoy more the time with our kiddos without getting completely worn out. Being healthy is really quite wonderful and fun!

Anyway, it has been a life-changer for us! We both feel good enough and energetic enough these days that we've taken up running. I ran a half marathon last fall :: something I never imagined myself doing (or even wanting to do!) Kirb went on quite a few long training runs with me and was my cheerleader. We have made changes to our eating. Mostly in the times of day that we do our eating (earlier in the day, rather than later) than in the foods that we eat, although there has been that aspect too. We are so thankful to have discovered better health. What a blessing!

The supplements are from a company called Xyngular. The have a product line of about a dozen different supplements (what you think of as traditional supplements -- pills that you swallow with water as well as juice, freeze dried powder that you add to water and drink, protein powder to make shakes, etc.). They are fabulous, not only for weight loss, but for improved health over all. I started out a skeptic, but now believe that they are wonderful and have my own (new) life as proof of that. I had heard stories of people finding relief from migraines, chronic pain, eczema and psoriasis, asthma, increased energy and focus, improvement in ADHD symptoms, improved blood sugar levels for diabetics, less illness, improved immunity and many more. It's not magic and won't happen all on it's own, but I know it has made all the difference for us. We couldn't have done it without the help these products gave us. We continue to use some of the products to maintain our health, and I feel like that won't ever change. We don't use the entire line of products every day, but it has become a part of our life now and we are so thankful.

It is no where near as important to me as my faith in God, but it feels very similar in many ways. I feel evangelistic about the products, but also reluctant and timid in sharing that with others. They have made a major change in my life -- as has my faith. If you are at all interested in hearing more. Just let me know, I'd be happy to tell you.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Multitude Monday

Here's my continuing Multitude Monday post which is part of a series started years ago on Ann's wonderful, amazing blog that is a favorite of mine. If you've never checked it out, do yourself a favor and click on over. She's an amazing, gifted writer, a wonderful friend and an inspiration (not to mention a mother of 6)!

"One Thousand Gifts"::

3709. making another batch of chai (great on cold days)
3710. laughter
3711. the beauty of fresh snow
3712. the quiet of early morning
3713. time with friends
3714. Sam's first day back at school
3715. the little girls all bundled up, playing in the snow
3716. freshly fallen snow
3717. Bible study with my girls
3718. a good book
3719. Trader Joe's cinnamon graham crackers (YUM!)
3720. carpooling
3721. a long weekend
3722. a 2-day break from the bitter cold
3723. a 5-mile outdoor run on a sunny Saturday
3724. Lydia spending the day with her GG
3725. purging :: "spring" cleaning in January
3726. sound of a train whistle cutting through the still, quiet morning
3727. Joe  pre-heating my spot in bed
3728. watching "Parenthood" with Kirb after a long day (tears. every time. tears!)
3729. Kirb bringing me a surprise latte on another (in a long line) "polar vortex" morning
3730. a warm  home
3731. warm clothes
3732. a good book
3733. organized Legos
3734. almost 200 pounds of stuff gone from our house during my 10-day "spring" cleaning purge
3735. morning snuggles and iPhone devotions with Anna
3736. Saturday mornings spent with my grandma
3737. 2 vehicles that start, even when temps are well below zero
3738. the tropical feel of the pool deck in the middle of winter
3739. running while the snow is falling. BEAUTIFUL!
3740. the blessing of not having to scramble for childcare -- 3 polar vortex no-school days so far in January (with potential for a couple more next week)
3741. Rebekah's babysitting jobs keeping her busy (and making money)
3742. a cleaned out medicine cabinet . . . and kids who notice
3743. the library
3744. an extended weekend -- even Kirb home due to ultra cold temps and windchills
3745. Jacob no worse off after an allergic reaction sent him to the ER for a visit and a bit of a stay
3746. modern medicine and drugs to combat his reaction and bring his handsome self back home. whole and healthy. thank you, God!
3747. our (hard working) furnace
3748. quiet morning devotions
3749. fresh starts
3750. new Odyssey's for the kids to enjoy
3751. youth group on Sunday night
3752. Anna, the proud owner of her very own library card
3753. a great section swim meet for our 3 swimmers (there's a first place backstrok-er in the house!)

May you realize all the blessings the Lord brings your way and take the time to make note of them. (you'll be glad that you did!)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lose a ton

My (new) friend Amber, who I met this fall in ECFE, put a challenge up via Facebook to take part in a January purge of possessions in effort to simplify our homes and our lives and (hopefully) bless others in the process. She was looking for 20 people to commit to get rid of 10 pounds of stuff each day for 10 consecutive days sometime during the month of January. That is 100 pound per person/household for a total of 2000 pounds between the 20 of us. I knew finding time to take part in the challenge for 10 consecutive days might be tricky, but I was excited by the idea and knew that finding 100 pounds of unnecessary stuff in our house would (sadly) not be hard at all.

Here is a short recap of my experience ::

Day 1 :: I went through the kitchen and weeded out excess coffee mugs (I think those things multiple in the cupboard!), water bottles, vases, etc. for a total of 11.8 pounds.

Day 2 :: I had Bible study that morning. One of the girls in my Bible study has a sweet 8-month-old girl, so I pass down Sara's outgrown clothes to her. Before I left, I found 2.8 pounds of stuff to pass along to her. When I got home from Bible study my mom and I tacked my hall linen closet, which is a catch-all for things with no home! We took out ever last thing, wiped down the inside (actually my mom did those steps while I was at Bible study, since she was at my house watching Sara for me) and then only put back things we actually use or need and got rid of 17.9 pounds of stuff from in there that we did not need or was expired/ruined/worthless.

Day 3 :: I cleaned out my stash of craft stuff and came up with 21.8 pounds of stuff I didn't need or wasn't going to use. I plan to bring most of it to ArtScraps in St. Paul.

Day 4 :: Books! I went through our books and ended up with 28.4 pounds. I took some of them to Half Price Books (actually, Kirby did that) and got $10 out of the deal. Some I added to our Little Free Library and a few I passed along.

Day 5 :: 21.8 pounds of clothes from Rebekah and Lydia's wardrobes. Outgrown, ill-fitting, not their style, excessive (does she really need that many t-shirts? nope!).

Day 6 :: 17.4 pounds of clothes from the 2 boys.

Day 7 :: 13.4 pounds of clothes, mostly mine with a few pounds worth from Anna (most of her outgrown clothes get saved for Sara).

Day 8 :: 37.4 pounds of stuff. Some more clothes, some misc household things, a couple more books, some decorative pillows (we have more than our share).

Day 9 :: I tackled the bathroom on day 9. I took every last thing out of the medicine cabinet and wiped it all down. Then I only put about 1/3 of the stuff back in there. We had lots of expired medicines/creams/stuff in there. I also cleaned under the sink and in the drawers of our vanity. There also was a box full of kids jewelry (think beaded bracelets made with much love -- and not much visual appeal) that I tossed. The total that day was 8.7 pounds. My only day under 10 pounds . . . but I believe in averaging things out, so when I finished the bathroom, I didn't try to make up 1.3 more pounds of stuff and just called it good.

Day 10 :: 13.8 pounds of games and toys. We also re-organized ALL. THE. LEGOS. Which was a huge (but VERY worthwhile) undertaking. School was cancelled for our kids due to the crazy cold temps, so they helped me out. I think having them so well organized will lead to more desire to build with them! We cleared off the whole train table, so there's plenty of room to build!

So, my 10-day total was 195.2 pounds. I'm so glad I made the commitment and took part. Our home is more organized (although I still have plenty more areas that I could tackle . . . and probably still will, just not as formally -- no weighing in and daily purging) and we hope that the things we are no longer using will go to good use, and be a blessing in someone else's life.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Multitude Monday

Without any further delay, here's my continuing Multitude Monday post which is part of a series started years ago on Ann's wonderful, amazing blog that is a favorite of mine. If you've never checked it out, do yourself a favor and click on over. She's an amazing, gifted writer, a wonderful friend and an inspiration (not to mention a mother of 6)!

"One Thousand Gifts"::

3691. another fever-free, seizure-free night for Sam
3692. no middle of the night phone calls
3693. tamiflu for Kirbs' influenza A
3694. pancakes
3695. warmer temps
3696. Sam home from the hospital and sleeping in his own bed
3697. outside running 3 days in a row (one day in capris, even!)
3698. naps
3699. a "new" Garmin (how I love hand-me-downs!)
3700. hanging out at GG's watching the original Parent Trap
3701. Refresh prayer night at church
3702. cleaning out closets
3703. an almond latte (bought with a gift card!)
3704. my favorite blanket
3705. sunshine and 40
3706. Sara's new ECFE class
3707. mother-daughter date with Anna
3708. book club night

May you realize all the blessings the Lord brings your way and take the time to make note of them. (you'll be glad that you did!)

Friday, January 10, 2014

flashback friday

She was just a baby (about the age Sara is now).
Her hair was curly.
It was (clearly!) not winter!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Thankful Thursday

When you feel the first beginnings of alertness as you awaken in the morning and your first thought is "I slept all night. The phone didn't ring.", that is something to be thankful for! Most people don't even have this though in the morning. That is good and right and normal.If you have reason to think that as your waking thought, obviously, the opposite has been true. And when you wake up and realize nothing interrupted your sleep the previous night, you are thankful! Thank you, Lord, for a peaceful, normal night! I slept with my land line and my cell next to my bed and they both were quiet all night.

2 nights in a row a ringing phone cuts through our silent house. This is never a good thing!

Long story short, my very dearest friend's son is in the hospital. Has been there since Sunday night. Lord willing, he'll go home tomorrow. That is a LONG time to be in the hospital, by today's standards. Especially if you are 9. It has been a scary week! A middle-of-the-night seizure got him a ride in an ambulance (that he doesn't remember) to the hospital. Another (much worse) middle-of-the-night seizure the next night proved the first one wasn't just a fluke as we had hoped. After a TON of not-too-fun tests and exams, he has a diagnosis and we're praying hard that he keeps getting stronger and healthier with each hour (and especially, each night) that passes. Thank God for modern medicine and anti-seizure drugs!

The truth-teller, rule-follower in me cringes a little inside when she introduces me to the rounding ICU doc :: "This is my sister. Sam's aunt." She mean it with all her heart, and I believe it too. But a little part of me worries we'll be "found out". Will they catch us and accuse us of lying or deceit? No one cares, really. They believe us. (Who wouldn't. We look SO much alike . . . well, except the hair color, skin color, body shape, 9 inches of height difference. You know, no big deal). She is an only child. I have a younger brother. Growing up, there would be summers when I'm fairly certain she went DAYS without seeing her parents. She practically lived at our house. Kept a toothbrush there. Didn't ask if it was ok before opening the fridge and taking whatever she wanted. Using our toilet with the door open. Family stuff! We really are sisters in any way that counts! We have been friends for decades (about 3 of them, if you care to know). Friends through good and plenty of bad! I've never had an "actual" sister, but I can't imagine I could be any more "sisterly" with someone who actually lived in my house every day growing up, whose college and wedding was paid for by the same 2 adults as mine. I'm pretty certain this is as good as it gets :: I adore her. She drives me nutty. You know, just like a sister should! I would call her in the middle of the night, without a thought, if I needed her and she would do the same (I have phone records from this week as evidence of that fact).

So I hurt with her. Pray with her. Worry with her. And when I wake up in the morning to the realization of a phone call-free night, I am thankful with her. I am thankful today!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Gifts continuted

When last I left off with my gift-counting it was months and months ago and I was at #3214. I'm now at #3690. I won't list all 450+ for you, but just a recent hand-full. So, without any further delay, here's my continuing Multitude Monday (I realize it's not Monday. It's been a wonky sort of week. A little grace, please. Thank you!) post which is part of a series started years ago on Ann's wonderful, amazing blog that is a favorite of mine. If you've never checked it out, do yourself a favor and click on over. She's an amazing, gifted writer, a wonderful friend and an inspiration (not to mention a mother of 6)!

"One Thousand Gifts"::

3666. a mug of yummy chai on a cold morning (WELL below zero)
3667. a warm corn bag to pre-heat the bed before you get in
3669. brothers and sisters getting along
3671. kids excited at the news that winter break will be extended (well, except for the 2 that WEREN'T excited by that news)
3673. immunity and good health
3683. a new wallet that leads to purse clean-out and purging
3684. my selfless husband
3685. snuggling with Sam in his hospital bed and praying! Lots of praying!
3686. clean sheets
3690. morning call from Al with the hospital update :: a good night for Sam. no seizures and no fever. Praise God!

May you realize all the blessings the Lord brings your way and take the time to make note of them. (you'll be glad that you did!)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Flashback Friday

A Christmas-picture Story::

In case you haven't heard . . . or have forgotten, I give you the story behind our traditional "bed picture" at Christmas time:: When Jacob was not quite 1 we wanted a family picture to put in our Christmas card. We took quite a few (non-digital, I might add!) and the one we liked best was of the 3 of us laying on our bed. The next year it was just the 3 of us again and we decided to try and recreate the picture since it had turned out so cute . . . and thus began an unintentional Stoll family tradition of the bed picture. For the 2nd year in a row, our "bed" is a fake. It's not really a bed. And it's not in our house (as was the case the first 13 times we took "the bed picture". Last year it was warm and our "bed" was outside. This year it was chillier and so when we were celebrating Thanksgiving at a retreat center a little ways north of our house, we made our "bed" there and took our 2013 picture. I don't know how much longer this tradition can hold out. Even our fake makeshift "bed" is growing too small for all of us to fit. The kids just keep growing (even though their parents are smaller in this years picture than they were last year, by about 70 pounds) and it's getting harder and harder to pull it off. It takes much bribery and trickery already! 2013 marks the 15th anniversary of the Stoll family "bed" picture. 14 years and 5 more kids later, we're all still on the "bed" for our annual picture.

rebekah, jacob, joe, shana, anna, kirby, sara & lydia :: 2013

and a little flashback for you, starting where it all began. here are more than a decade worth of stoll christmas pictures. enjoy::

kirby, shana & jacob :: 1999
kirby, [pregnant] shana, jacob :: 2000

kirby, jacob, [pregnant] shana, rebekah :: 2001
rebekah, kirby, jacob, shana, lydia :: 2002
kirby, lydia, jacob, shana, rebekah :: 2003
kirby, [pregnant] shana, lydia, jacob, rebekah :: 2004
jacob, kirby, joe, shana, rebekah, lydia :: 2005
jacob, kirby, rebekah, shana, joe, lydia :: 2006
kirby, jacob, rebekah, joe, [pregnant] shana, lydia :: 2007
kirby, lydia, anna, joe, shana, jacob, rebekah :: 2008
jacob, anna, kirby, rebekah, joe, lydia [not quite pregnant] shana :: 2009
kirby, joe, shana, teeny baby sara, rebekah, anna, jacob, lydia :: 2010
kirby, anna, shana, sara, joe, jacob, lydia, rebekah :: 2011

kirby, joe, jake, anna, shana, lydia, sara & rebekah :: 2012

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thankful Thursday

It's been an exceptionally cold month (with a few short breaks where you can get outside for longer than it takes to run from the house to the car). I am so thankful for a warm home to live in (and not leave) on days when the temperature doesn't ever climb above zero.

I'm so thankful for our home and heat and warm clothes and a coat to wear . . . but I would still appreciate a warm up!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hello. Hello. Anybody there?

Hi there! I know. I know. It's been a LONG time! Life is busy and I haven't made time to blog. But I miss it. And some of you miss it too. (You've told me). So, Happy New Year! I hope you had some wonderful times over the past couple weeks. We sure did.

Here's to a bit more blogging in 2014.