Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Not My Dream Car

When Jason and I first began discussing the possibility of having another child one thing was clear; we were going to need a bigger car!  Now before you get too excited, no, we are not pregnant.  After Aria was born we quickly realized that there was absolutely no way to fit more than one car seat in Jason’s car.  We had 1 requirement for purchasing a new car and that was to avoid a car payment at all cost.

In November Jason’s grandfather passed away and soon after we were approached about the possibility of purchasing his car for a very reasonable price.  When Jason told me that he was considering buying the car if we could get enough money for his Mazda 3 to cover the costs associated, excitement was not my first reaction.  I mean the car was a 2005 Cadillac Deville!  Surely we aren’t old enough to own a Cadillac Deville! 

I left the decision completely up to Jason because he would be the one giving up his “baby”.  When he made the comment “As much as I enjoy driving my car, I enjoy being a father more,” I knew the decision had been made.  So we sold the Mazda 3 and Jason flew to Michigan to drive the newest member of the Brinker family to Texas!

If you know me then you know that I put a lot of thought into our finanances, but in this instance I can honestly say that image tried to take over my logical reasoning.  I knew this was the right move for our family, but the thought of driving around a car that did not fit my idea of picture perfect really didn’t sound all that wonderful.

While reading my Dave Ramsey book, “Financial Peace Revisited” he helped put into perspective what I already knew.  Taking on an additional debt would not be worth the sacrifice just to make sure I got the car I “wanted”.  I truly believe that this is one of the best financial decisions we’ve made to date and I think we will really see it pay off for us in the future.

Although this is not my dream car, I know that it will help keep the dreams we have for our family alive.  The Cadillac has actually grown on me in the past few weeks.  I can’t complain about the spaciousness, the dual climate control and the fact that we got into this car with very little extra expense!  Now all that’s left is to fill that car with the very reason we bought it in the first place!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Weighing In

Warning!  If the thought of looking at my stomach does not appeal to you, you should probably consider turning back now!

When I got pregnant with Aria back in March of 2011 I weighed in at a respectable 127lbs. I'm pretty certain that overnight I gained 10lbs (or so it seemed). During my pregnancy I was honestly not concerned with my weight. The ONLY time I stepped on a scale was when I made a visit to the doctor and even then I really didn't pay attention to what it read. My philosophy was that as long as I was healthy and not being scolded for weight gain by my doctor I had nothing to gain by looking at a scale.  I’m not exactly sure how much weight I ended up putting on but I know I had to have weighed around 152lbs (maybe even a little more) by the time I went into labor.  Honestly, I don’t think I ended up too bad off.

 This picture was taken about 2 weeks before Aria was born.

My initial thought was that as soon as Aria arrived and my body was back to normal I would jump right in to working out, cutting my calories, and getting rid of that excess weight.  But the more reading I did on breastfeeding, the more I grew concerned that if I began my workout routine and cut my calories I could face the possibility of my milk supply drying up before Aria turned one.  So I opted to sacrifice my body for another year to make sure I could reach my goal of not spending one dime on formula!  I lost a little weight after she was born but I stayed pretty steady around 145lbs for the majority of her first year of life.

 This picture was taken at my best friend's wedding in August 2012.
As soon as Aria turned one it was game on!  The first step for me was cutting my calories and getting used to not eating every dessert in site.  I saw a little change in my weight and after the holidays I added working out to the mix.  I am excited to say that so far I’ve lost about 11lbs!  I’ve still got some work to do to re-shape and get those last few pounds off, but it is really encouraging to see progress being made. 

So these aren't exactly before pictures, but I think this is a good starting point.  I’ve got to be honest, I’m not really comfortable putting my stomach on display for everyone to see, but I think it’s important to have some accountability.  I mean do I really want the last picture you see to be my “before” picture?? 


While I know that I will probably never have “washboard” abs, I definitely think I can shave off a little more of that muffin top.  So here’s to making good choices!

February 26th, 2013
Weight: 132.8lbs
Waist: 36 inches
Resource: The Daily Plate (I mainly use the free mobile app)


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Change of Career

Over the past week I've been doing a lot of thinking and it is clear that I have chosen the wrong career.  If only I would have put more thought into the proper career path maybe I could have predicted recent trends and clearly seen that I should have made a career in the ammo making business!

Jason and I are taking our concealed carry class this coming Sunday so we began seeking ammo to practice with and use to for our qualification test.  After visiting multiple places it was clear that we were going to have a difficult time finding enough because no one can keep their shelves stocked!  It came down to standing in line with 30 other people just to get 1 box a piece!

Now I don't typically make political statements mostly because I can honestly say that I don't have all of the facts.  But I'm kind of sick of all of this gun control talk.  Here is my opinion - you can like it or not.  Doesn't matter to me because that is why I call it my opinion and not yours.
  1. Cars kill people, not drunk drivers.  Such a ridiculous statement!  Well so is guns kill people, not the people holding them.
  2. Violent video games and movies cause people to kill people.  Seriously?  While I agree that these two things should be viewed in moderation, I again cannot believe that a mentally sound person is going to up and decide to pull out a gun and shoot someone just because they played a video game or saw a movie.
  3. You know how they say locks really only keep honest people out?  I think the same goes for banning certain guns.  You're keeping the honest people out and the dishonest ones will still find a way to get in.
Today I heard on Fox News that someone made the statement that women should not be allowed to carry guns on college campuses because the only self-defense they need are a whistle and knowledge of the nearest safe zone.  Maybe you don't believe that guns should be on college campuses, but please don't tell me that a whistle and a safe zone are going to protect me should someone decide to rape me.

It is clear that guns are going to be a source of debate for a while.  And while I don't feel the answer is to interfere with our rights to bear arms, I don't think it is a good idea to rely solely on guns for our safety.  Get educated on other methods to defend yourself because one day that may be your only option.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Many people have come into my life and I have been blessed to be inspired by a lot of them in some form or fashion.  One such inspiration is my friend Amanda Joiner. 

Amanda and I met while working together about 6 years ago and as fate would have it we were assigned to share an office.  Her amazing sense of humor along with the fact that she knew the lyrics to the entire RENT soundtrack meant that we were destined to hit it off right away.  But even though I enjoyed our mid-day RENT duets (which sometimes included dance routines), I feel that God had a plan for bringing her into my life.

When Amanda and I first met, I was struggling with my faith.  It's not that I didn't believe, but more like I had a lot of questions that were unanswered.  Amanda is such a strong Christian woman with an unwavering faith and as I got to know her better, I began to feel more comfortable discussing my questions with her. And when the day came for her to get married and move away to Houston I was sad, but I knew she had done something great in my life.

As time moved on and I got married, my chats with Amanda in our office in many ways helped to shape the foundation for my marriage.  Not long after I got married, I learned that Amanda and Brian had been having trouble conceiving a child.  So when it was time for me to make the call to tell her we were expecting a baby, I really struggled trying to find the right words to say.  I was relieved when she sounded genuinely  happy for me and thanked me for telling her rather than trying to avoid the topic.

She and Brian continued to try everything they could to get pregnant and you can read all about their journey on Amanda's blog.  One thing you will learn about Amanda from her blog is that she is not one to hide her emotions.  She is very open and honest with her feelings which I think helps others struggling with the same issues to realize they are not alone.  While Amanda and Brian's journey was nothing short of an emotional roller coaster, the overall theme has always remained that they will continue to trust in God.  What an amazing inspiration for anyone struggling with anything in their life!

In August of 2012 Amanda announced that they were finally pregnant!  And just when you think it can't get any better, they find out they are having TWINS; a boy AND a girl!  This past weekend I attended a baby shower for Amanda (see photo below) and as I sat there watching her open presents (By the way she is a great present opener.  It takes skill to put so much care into opening each individual gift while staying excited the entire time.) I couldn't help but feel so in awe of God's amazing work. 

Photo credit to Allison Oliver

Amanda's story and strength are an inspiration to many.  But what is really an inspiration to me is to see that throughout it all her faith has remained as strong as it was 6 years ago when we shared an office together.  Congratulations Amanda!  I know I will continue to be inspired as I watch you skillfully raise two babies at the same time!!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

If I Can Just Get Through This Week...

I feel like my life is in a vicious cycle of "If I can just get through this week, life will slow down a bit!"  After being absent from the blogging scene for almost 2 years, I think it is safe to say that life will never slow down and I will forever live in a dream world where I imagine a full day of doing nothing but sitting on the couch eating Reece's Peanut Butter Eggs.  Surprisingly I'm okay with this!

Between a full-time job, a 1 year old daughter, and assisting my husband (who also has a full-time job) with running his Taekwondo school, I've had to redefine my definition of normal everyday life.  It can get hard at times, but I wouldn't change it for the world and I'm pretty sure it will only get crazier from here!

On December 4, 2011 I gave birth to the most amazing little girl in the world - Aria Ann.
My husband and I are fairly particular about posting pictures of her online, so I wouldn't count on seeing very many of them.  She is 1 now and is such a fun little girl.  She talks and laughs a lot and loves everyone she meets!

In September of 2012, my husband and I decided to take a chance on his dream of opening an Olympic style Taekwondo studio called Apex Martial Arts Academy (feel free to like us on Facebook).  What an adventure it has been so far!  We are learning a lot and have such an amazing group of students that I feel God hand-picked for us.  The picture below is actually of our "old" facility.  We just got word today that we are moving to an even more amazing location so I'm sure we will have more pictures to come!

So as this week comes to an end, I am under no illusion that next week I will be able to take it easy.  We are so blessed in our crazy life and I don't even know what normal is any more, but I can't wait to see what God has in store for us in our ever-changing life!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Starbucks Here I Come!

So today is the last day of my 31 day H2O challenge and I couldn't be happier!  It has been a really long month, but I must say that I am very proud of myself.  Giving up everything but water for 1 month was a lot harder than I thought it would be. 

I will admit that after much debate I did make ONE exception.  Jason and I brought back a bottle of wine from Australia for our 1 year anniversary and I of course did not take this into account when I decided to take this challenge.  I did have 1 glass to celebrate with my wonderful hubby!  Though I was very conflicted about whether or not to partake in the wine, I decided that it would be okay because overall I was doing an amazing job with my 31 day challenge.

Health-wise, I didn't feel any different, maybe just a little more hydrated.  My teeth did seem to naturally whiten a bit which was nice.  I saved a lot of money for sure (an estimated $75 because since I didn't make trips to Starbucks, neither did Jason)!  And every time I felt weak and wanted to give in, I remembered why I was doing this and felt a renewed strength.

Now that I've completed this challenge, I hope to use this as an opportunity to be aware of times when I may be overindulging and put a stop to it before it gets too crazy!

Starting tomorrow I'm giving up sweets for the month of February.  I expect this to be difficult but I know I can do it!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The 31 Day H2O Challenge

I am not a strong believer in New Year's resolutions.  I think by using the label "New Year's resolution" we tend to think short term, or at least set goals that turn into a change that lasts only a few weeks.  There are a few people out there who can make resolutions each year and remain devoted, but let’s be honest, how often does that happen?

I've decided to make a few "changes" starting this month.   For the month of January, I've decided to give up all beverages besides water.  I knew this would be a difficult endeavor, but I think I may have underestimated exactly how hard it would be!

I've noticed over the past year I've been taking in a lot more caffeine drinks and a LOT less water.  For those of you who know me well, I enjoy my Tall Skinny Vanilla Latte from Starbucks two-three times per week.  I enjoy tea with some meals and diet coke with others.  It is so much tastier to reach for any of these things rather than water.

The first day wasn't horrible but I got a headache later in the evening.  My headache lasted ALL day on Sunday.  Monday was a lot better and though the headache was gone there was still a bit of pressure in my head.  Today no headaches but the cravings are still there and I know they are there simply because I want what I can't have.

There are several reasons as to why I decided to make this change for the month of January.  One reason is of course because water is much healthier than most other beverages.  Another reason is because I will save quite a bit of money.  The reason I feel keeps me going is that I look at this as a type of fasting.  I'm doing without something that I love and every time I think about how much I want to drink something other than water, it reminds me of God!

At first I thought I would just give up caffeine drinks, and then I realized there were a lot of ways around this.  Instead of a latte, I could get hot chocolate or I can reach for the caffeine free diet coke and tea.  How would this really be of benefit?

I am going to stay strong and make it through the month!

Next month…sweets!