Danielle Had a Baby #1

Danielle is a former student who is a good leader and smart. Rian and I got to take her on a school trip to Louisville, KY and she introduced Rian to the “cookie jar” blizzard at that time. Forever changing his life. Danielle recently had a baby, and I thought it would be interesting for this blogs demographic to read about someone having a baby at such a young age. Enjoy her birth story!


It was Monday February 3rd, 2014 and to me it was just a normal day. I had spent the whole day at work, came home, ate dinner and relaxed on the couch. Little did I know my son would be born 12 hours later. Being only 38 weeks pregnant and it being my first pregnancy I had no idea what to expect, or what labor would feel like. I had experienced Braxton hicks for the whole later part of my pregnancy, but for the last two weeks they had been worse. I couldn’t figure out what my body was trying to tell me.

I had felt fine all day, no bad Braxton hicks and no signs of labor. About 8:30 that night contractions started coming and going again. This time they were painful though. I figured they were just more Braxton hicks since they typically had gotten worse at night. I put a heating pad on my back since they had been starting in my back and moving around to my uterus. The heating pad helped until about 10:30 that night. Something was different. They had gotten so painful I couldn’t talk between them or even stand. I was so confused and had no idea if this was the real thing since my water hadn’t broken. I was afraid to go back to the hospital because I didn’t want to be sent home again(I had had a false alarm the previous Friday). Finally my partner Michael and I decided that I was in too much pain to not go to the hospital so we headed over and at that point my contractions were three minutes apart.

We got there and since I had been there three days earlier check-in was much faster. My nurse Deborah put me in a gown and checked me, I was 4 cm and 100% effaced, we were having a baby!!! I was so relieved that it was the real thing and I could meet my baby soon!

They then moved me into the actual labor and delivery room and started getting me all hooked up. They had to stick me five different times to get an IV started, all while I was still having contractions. The anesthesiologist came in shortly and asked if I wanted an epidural, at that point I was so ready for one, the pain was too much. She was able to easily get the epi started and I could barely even feel the needle. Twenty minutes later they asked how I was feeling, my response was “great, I haven’t had a contraction for about ten minutes” the nurse then responded with “you are having one right now.” I couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t feel anything. At that point I was hooked to an IV, an Epidural, a blood pressure cuff, and the straps around my belly, I could barely move without tugging on something.
About 30 min went by and the nurse came in looking concerned. She informed me that my blood pressure was high. She then checked my reflexes and those were higher than they were supposed to be. The doctor on call deiced to start me on magnesium because of my blood pressure. This new medicine made me feel hot and almost flu like for the first 30 min or so, not to mention the epidural had made me vomit. At this point I was not feeling well, it was one in the morning and I had already been through so much, and the hard part was yet to come.

After I felt better they checked me and I was at a 7, I had progressed fairly quickly. At this point the doctor broke my water to progress my labor even further and hopefully faster. The nurse recommended I tried to get some sleep since in a few short hours I was going to have to push. I was able to dose off for an hour until the nurse came in and informed me my contractions weren’t getting any closer together, in fact they were very inconsistent and far apart. They decided to start me on Pitocin to get things going. Three more hours went by, it was now about 7:00 in the morning and I was at a 9, meeting my baby boy was right around the corner.
From about 7:00 to 10:00 in the morning was kind of a blur, I was feeling pain again and a lot of pressure, so they gave me another dose of medicine in my epidural.

Once 10:00 came along it was time to push. This was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I pushed only twice and his head was already crowning. All you could see was his head full of hair!! I kept pushing and pushing and I thought he was never going to make the rest of his way out. At 10:30, after only 30 min of pushing, but what felt like forever, Abel John Gonzalez was born. Michael cut his umbilical cord and they set him on my chest. The feelings of joy, love, accomplishment and indescribable emotion overtook me. I sobbed while looking down at him thinking, “ I made that, that’s my baby boy” I held him for about five min until they took him away to clean him up as I had to finish delivering my placenta. I couldn’t keep my eyes off him though. I stared at him from across the room and had never felt so much love before in my life.

The recovery was the hardest part of my labor. I was exhausted but still had a lot of pain and pressure. I couldn’t keep anything down, not even water. Finally after taking me off of the magnesium and giving me some nausea medicine I felt better and was able to hold and feed my baby for the first time. It still hadn’t hit me yet, that this little baby was my son and my complete responsibility. Our stay in the hospital was great. Our nurses were wonderful and our healthy baby boy slept pretty much the entire time, even through the nights. Two days after I gave birth we finally got to go home. After getting in the car with our new baby my boyfriend and I looked at each other and smiled, he said to me “this baby is our complete responsibility now, we are parents”. And so we began our journey of parenting together.






Tastes Like Chicken #4

Lindley is back! This is one of my fave posts from here. I definitely need a cheerleader of cheap.

She’s Got Swagger

Much like a rambunctious cocker spaniel, I live for the reward. I coveted trophies and plaques as a child, and now as a larger child, I have adopted a Jerry Maguire-esque approach to shopping. Show me the reward. I don’t care if it is cash back, points I can redeem, free stuff or a lollipop at the bank. If you want my business, you better give me a little something-something in return.

One of my favorite ways to earn a little extra bonus for things I would do anyway, is the Swagbucks website. This website awards you with “Swagbucks” -virtual bucks you can spend on entering sweepstakes, procuring prizes or even making donations to various charities. I have been a member for about 3 years and I have earned over 51,000 Swagbucks. I have redeemed most of my bucks for Amazon and Walmart gift cards (although I have a couple Target gift cards, Groupon gift cards and donations to charity mixed in). The $5 gift cards range in cost from 450 to 500 Swagbucks, so I have raked in about $550 worth of prizes over the last few years.

The great thing about Swagbucks is that your bucks never expire and you can participate as little or as much as you want. The most popular (and one of the easiest) ways to earn on the website is simply to use their search bar when you are looking something up on the Internet. They will randomly award you bucks during your searches. You can also print coupons from their special coupon generator and then they will award you 10 Swaggies every time you redeem a coupon in-store. You get a buck for answering a daily poll. You can earn bucks by watching short videos or ads. You can fill-out surveys and play online games to earn bucks. They post Swagcodes on their blog and Facebook pages for bonus bucks.

I also love their “Shop & Earn” feature where you earn Swagbucks just by doing your everyday online shopping through the Swagbucks website. There are hundreds of Shop & Earn stores, including Walmart, Amazon, Office Depot, Kohls and- wait for it- Groupon and Living Social! Yep, it’s a winner-winner- Tastes- Like- Cheap- Chicken-dinner when you can get bucks back when you buy an already discounted Groupon. They have a variety of Special Offers you can purchase as well through them to earn a little reward. I made charitable credit card donations to Feeding America and the Covenant House and was rewarded with a warm heart, a tax write-off and 3500 Swagbucks (that is $35 in gift cards.)

They also have a great referral reward system where you can earn up to 10% of the Swagbucks that your referrals earn, just by getting folks to sign up through your link. So on that gratuitous note, if you want to check it out, please use my referral link : swagbucks.com/refer/LindleyAlston
Nervous about getting started? Not sure whether it is worth your time? Just drop me a line and I will be your cheerleader of cheap!!

Anniversary Journal

Today, Rian and I celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary. Sometimes it’s hard to believe we have gone through life together for ten years. I wouldn’t have it any other way.



In light of our anniversary, I am sharing a personal journal that Rian and I keep. Our first anniversary, we came up with the anniversary journal idea. We bought a leather journal on our way to our little getaway and the night of our anniversary, came up with our questions. We have done it every year since then. It is absolutely our favorite anniversary tradition and we look forward to it more than the gifts. Actually, we look forward to reading over the past years answers. We think we are funny.

Recently, I have had former students start getting married. What do you get former students? Brilliant idea. An anniversary journal. I buy a nice journal and type out the instructions and questions and slip them inside. That way, if the couple decides to change the questions, they can. It is a great wedding or first anniversary gift. Here is a few snippets of our journal, so you can start one with your significant other on your next anniversary!

Simple cover page. Nothing fancy.

The questions we answer every year. The question about what we are wearing makes us laugh every year. Rian has worn the same grey, mesh basketball shorts every year without remembering. It makes us laugh every time.

Our very first year. I didn’t know if I wanted to go with cursive or print. #nerdalert

Snapshot of our first years answers. Notice question 6. Still my favorite Justin Timberlake song.

Rian and I will gladly admit we think we are so funny. What we noticed about ourselves is little silly phrases we say to each other all the time that we think are sooooo funny. We decided to add these little things to the end of our journal entries. All of these phrases still get pulled out of the repertoire every once in a while.

the bathroom one is from an SNL skit with Kristen Wiggle as Gilly.

Tabari is a former student of mine. He played basketball and Cam wanted to name one of the twins Tabari (or Mac or Frog). Tabari is still one of my favorite nicknames for Cam.

This year I was severely pregnant with the twins. I was so tired that I gave up creative (read: perfect handwriting) control and let Rian fill it out. We had just got home that evening from a long stint in the hospital due to some preterm labor. The twins came 23 days later. Stinkers.


Our journal.

Start this tradition with your significant other this year. It’s never to late to start a tradition.

Erin’s Weight Loss Journey – Part 2

Erin is back! She is so brave and beautiful. I just love her. If you need a refresher on her story, read Part 1 HERE



(250 lbs- One of my last days in Grand Junction before moving home)

I transferred to a school closer to home in Greeley, CO. Where I moved in with a friend of a friend. I started doing better in school, and made the courageous decision to take my mom’s advice and walk into a Jenny Craig office in Aurora. When I first sat down at my consultation I almost busted out in tears when the Jenny Craig weight loss consultant asked, “Why do you want to lose this weight?” I told her, “I want to wear shorts without someone feeling disgusted by looking at me.” She asked, “What will you do when you lose the weight?” I said, “I want to learn how to swim, and to ride a bike.” She asked, “What motivates you?” I told her, “I want to actually be alive, and do the activities that my friends do, I want to stop lying to my friends when they invite me to Water World, or on hiking trips.” All I could think about the whole time was my girlfriends that I grew up with, Danielle, Erika, and Rachel. I really wanted to scream to the weight loss consultant and say, “I WANT TO LOOK LIKE THEM, I WANT TO HAVE THE CONFIDENCE THEY DO, I WANT TO HAVE A BOYFRIEND.”


(250 lbs-Rachel’s Birthday)


(250 lbs-Sitting outside my new house in Greeley with my dog Rainey)

We started the program five days after that. I ate the Jenny Craig food everyday. I was embarrassed to have the food in the house, where my roommates could see that I was trying to lose weight. The first week I only lost three pounds. I felt like a failure, but the consultant made me feel so good about losing three pounds that I continued to do the program. By the first month I was down ten pounds. By sixth months I was down 40 pounds. By the tenth month I was down 70 pounds. My friends, Danielle, Erika, and Rachel were all so supportive. They would text me throughout the week to see how I was doing. We even took a trip to Steamboat and went on a pretty hard hike. I couldn’t make it to the top and even started crying, and gave up. The girls were proud of me anyways, they didn’t make me finish but they all reassured me that I wouldn’t have even made it 20 minutes before the weight loss.


(170 lbs- Steamboat hike Rachel, Danielle, and Erika)>

The Whole MaryAnna #5

This. Is. Awesome. Good job, girl.

Why has this blog been so hard to write? I keep sitting down to start and the next thing I know I’m looking at $100 parrot sandals on ModCloth or bedframes on West Elm. I’ve also cleaned my room and bathroom, returned things to Target and gone to a movie … I am the QUEEN of procrastination. (Go see The Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson at his finest)

Today is Day 2 of my new life. It’s pretty incredible. I have zero desire to go back to where I was 32 days ago, spoon of pot de chocolate in my mouth, fear of failure in my gut, and an overwhelming lack of control when it came to food. Zero desire. I was so sure I was going to finish this and have felt so restricted that at the first chance I got, I would run off and buy the biggest, yummiest burrito from Chipotle. I have zero desire for that. None. I have never felt this physically good in recent memory … why would I give that up for a burrito, a beer, and a feeling of remorse?

But I’m scared. I have no idea where to go from here.

So back to the trusted “It Starts with Food” and the “Whole 30” website and guidance of how to reintroduce other foods back into my life. I read a lot. Googled a lot. Pinterested a lot. Talked to friends, family, and doctors, a lot, and here is where I have landed. I am going to reintroduce some possible inflammatory foods back into my diet slowly, and one at a time. First, I’m reintroducing non-glutinous grains (rice, corn, etc.) and I’m going to see how my body does. If it reacts negatively, and I feel icky, then I know grains at all aren’t for me, and back onto a “whole 3” to clear things out. Then goat ‘dairy’, then added sugars like honey and maple sugar. I am not even going to attempt cow dairy, glutinous grains or any other sugars. I know from my past that those are the foods that I cannot handle, physically or emotionally. Tied to those groups is a lot of bloat, remorse, anger, guilt, and a general lack of control. That is a slippery slope I don’t even want to approach.

Once I figure out what continues to make me feel good, that is where I will land. I will spend 80% of my time on a purely paleo diet without ANY grains or dairy and only natural sugars. 20% of my time, so about 4 meals a week, I will include non-paleo approved foods that don’t agitate me like goat’s cheese (fingers crossed I can tolerate that!!), hard cider, wine, and gluten-free grains. I found copious research, that a doctor friend corroborated, saying that giving your body a ‘jolt’ by going back and forth can actually help in the healing process. Most importantly, I will eat with intention. I will not whore myself out for a piece of crappy sheet cake, but hold out for a piece of my mother’s lemon meringue pie. Intention.

From these 32 days, I have been humbled and amazed at the support I have received from friends, family and coworkers. Non-doughnut-eating solidarity shown in the teacher’s lounge, family members calling and writing, a daily hug and check-in from down the hall, an appearing nickname of “rockstar” from a colleague, and the adventuresome eating spirit by my loved ones. I am humbled and awed at the support system I never knew I had. I am a lucky, lucky girl.

Throughout this process I’ve had many people ask if I was doing this just to lose weight. No. I didn’t do this to lose weight. I did this to heal. To get healthy. I’ve tried programs before to lose weight, and my persuasive and nasty inner-self always managed to find a way to use all my ‘points’ to just eat pizza and ice cream. No more. This was so much more than losing weight. When one finishes this program, they ask you to look at a checklist of improvements since you started the journey. I joined the Whole 30 and now have …

clearer skin​​ flatter stomach​​ less bloating​​ no headaches no more heartburn​​ less stomach pain​​ less swollen, still joints. improved blood sugar regulation​​ fewer mood swings​​
no sugar cravings​​ no carb cravings​​improved self-confidence​​ improved self-esteem​​ improved depression​​
sound sleep​​ no mid-day slump​​ no need to eat every 2 hours no need for sugar or caffeine to keep going
a healthier relationship with food​​mindful eating practices reduction in disordered eating habits ​​ability to listen to my body abandoned yo-yo dieting and the idea of weight loss quick fixes learned to eat to satiety​​fewer cravings stopped using food for comfort, reward, stress management or punishment coping strategies to deal with cravings​​ the ability to cook!​
freedom from sugar and carbs​​ no guilt, remorse and binging
the knowledge to know when I’m hungry or when I’m just craving
the ability to indulge deliberately and with enjoyment!

As you can see, most of this journey has been about my behavior around food. That is far more important to me than any number on the scale, or tape measure. That being said, however ….

30 days.
17 pounds lost.
5 inches lost from my waist
3.5 inches lost from my hips


Forgive the cheesy photo. Please?



What I Am Doing

Watching: Frozen! we LOVE it. We didn’t get to see it in the movie theater, but we bought it on Tuesday and just love it.

Reading: The new spring issue of Domino. . I am actually reading it for the third time. Cover to cover.

Listening: Let It Go. . See “Watching”.

Making: A Kiki for Cambry. Should be finished by tonight!

Planning: Outfits for our family photos next month. All different shades of blue? Pastels? Bright colors? Undecided.

Loving: March Madness. It truly is one of my favorite sporting events!

Custom Kiki for Hayley

I have made many large blankets for people. Many. But, I finally got my first order to make one through my shop! Yay!

The order came through on my birthday, 2/27, and she needed a queen/King chevron Kiki by 3/17. I of course said I could do it, even though I knew I would be pushing myself to get it done. Pushing myself was the understatement of the decade. I wanted to send it by Tuesday or Wednesday the week before so I wasn’t using all of the money I just earned to pay in shipping.

Did I tell you that my chevron pattern is the most time consuming? Did I tell you she needed queen/King? Oh man! I worked my fingers to the bone. I finished so late Tuesday night and sent it first thing Wednesday morning that I didn’t even give myself enough time to take “Pinterest worthy” pictures of it. So bear with me and the bad iPhone photos.

She did email me yesterday and said she loved it. So that makes me happy.


If you are interested in customizing a Kiki, email me and we’ll chat!