Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Our smile is the way you greet the world!

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Big Bear or Bust!

What a great weekend we had!
The 3 older boys had been BEGGING to learn to ski. The younger 2 really had no interest, so Mike stayed with them and after borrowing ski clothes/helmets from friends, the 4 of us headed up to Big Bear last Friday. The drive up the mountain is not an easy one. Very windy, narrow and one that I would NOT want to do at night. Ever! There was no traffic and we made it up without a hitch! We checked into to a glorified motel(not my fav) - although the view was nice, 

and got situated. I was advised to head to the resort after 6pm to rent the skis rather than waiting until Sat. morning to avoid the rush(which was a good thing because Sat. morning, when we arrived, the line for rentals was out the door and around the corner!)
We ventured into the “Village”, walked around, 
visited the local stores and had dinner at a little Mexican restaurant in the town. Of course, no night would be complete without eating ice cream in the 22 degree weather!
The next morning, we drove about 5 minutes to Snow Summit and parked for $20 in the VIP section, which was one of the best tips I rec’d! It is SO close to the mountain, and as I had to go back and forth to the car several times during the day, it was a MUCH better walk, then having to trek back thru the reg. parking lot. It was COLD!
After lathering the boys with sunscreen, group classes started at 9:45am and went until 11:45am.

There were was 8 kids in the group and for the boys 1st time, it was ok for them to get acclimated this way. They did great! We left the ski resort to have lunch and with in and out privileges in the VIP lot, it was easy to go and come back without a hassle. The next round of lessons started at 1:45 and lasted until 3:45pm. The afternoon lesson only had 5 kids(3 of which were mine), however the boys did complain that they had to do a lot of waiting around for the others, that may have fallen or needed extra assistance.

I decided that since I had already spent a small fortune on lessons($350 total for day 1!), a little more for a private would go a lot father! The ski school was very accommodating and helped me switch the lessons for the following day, from a 4 hour group, to a 2 hour private($400 total).
I am not sure the boys knew how totally exhausted the  would be from skiing. After the afternoon lesson ended, they skied for a little longer and then we headed back to the lodge. The boys had every intention of heading back into the “Village”, but after showers, decided ordering a pizza would be better. ALL 3 were asleep BY 6:30pm!

One mistake I made was leaving the boys gloves in the car overnight. Oops! They were wet from the day before and never dried, and even froze a bit in the car, making it was hard to put on the next morning. Lesson learned. Don’t leave the gloves in the car after skiing! 
The next day, the private lessons were from 8am-10am with a WONDERFUL girl named Crystal Johnston, that came highly recommended to me and after seeing how amazing she was with the boys, I would too highly recommend her for private lessons, if anyone was looking for an instructor! Seeing how much the boys had improved from day 1 to day 2 made me realize that my choice in privates the next day was truly the right one! Proof here:
The kids took a break, we had some lunch(which by the way, was VERY expensive - $60...I know - not the healthiest!)
 and then headed back onto the mountain, just the 3 of them, on the bunny runs, while I watched from down below. 
They had strict instructions to stay together and all supported one another on the slopes!

The weather was gorgeous. It was just like spring skiing – but in January! Some were even in t-shirts! The instructors made all the kids take off their beanies and jackets before the lessons even started. Most of the day it was about 56-58 degrees and sunny! While it had not snowed in town, the mountain made snow and it was perfect, especially or what the kids needed it for!

The kids were in heaven. All they talked about after their 2nd day of skiing is when they can go again! It definitely is not a cheap sport. That is for sure! But if we can do it a few times a year, it will be great! Next time, I think we are ALL going to try to go, including the little ones – should be interesting!

So glad that I had this time to bond with the 3 older boys. Memories made that will last a lifetime. 

Monday, August 12, 2013


I really don't think I ever thought about how many kids I would actually have. I knew I always wanted to be a mom and when I was younger, really thought I would have a daughter. However, I came to realize that it didn't matter anymore if I had a boy or girl, just a healthy child.

What I did always think about is how cute I would look pregnant and how my body would just snap back the way it was before I had the baby. Of course, I thought this, because everything I had seen on television, in the movies, reading magazines, that's what happened.

So imagine my surprise when none of it did. I got pregnant on my honeymoon and all of a sudden something in my brain kicked in, and I thought it was just a free-for-all to eat everything I wanted that I had always restricted myself in the past.

And in turn, I gained 70 pounds. When Zachary was born, he was just a little over 6 pounds and I'm not kidding, when I tell you that the doctor made the nurses weigh him again because I think he couldn't figure out how such a big person could have such a little baby.

Right there it hit me. I wasn't that really cute pregnant woman that I had always dreamed of being. Being a first-time mom is an extraordinarily difficult job. I think it takes stress to an all new level. There's so much adopting to do that as much as you thought you could prepare for, you really couldn't.

So in the past if I was not at a comfortable weight, I would refocus on myself and get there. However I could no longer just focus on myself, I had a newborn to take care of. I did have an opportunity when Zachary was six months old to be part of a Discovery Health reality show called the Body Challenge. It was a four-month long shoot where I was followed by cameras at the gym and with a nutritionist. Zachary came with me to all my appointments. When the show ended, I felt confident again and that dream of my body bouncing back to the way it was for the most part become a reality.

In the years following, I had three miscarriages, so that alone took a toll on my what was weight-loss accomplishments. I was then blessed with my first set of identical twins...and gaining 50 pounds. Carrying twins makes being pregnant to a whole new level! While I was able to lose the weight after they were born, I was what I came to know as left with "roo".

My skin had been so stretched after all of these pregnancies and lastly being twins, that it didn't really matter how much weight I have lost, I had this enormous amount of excess skin that I had to tuck into everything I wore.

I told myself as soon as I was done having children, I would was determined to make a permanent parting with "roo". After two additional losses, I was again blessed with my second set of identical twins and had regained the 50 pounds that I had lost after my first set.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, with both sets of twins, I never was that cute pregnant woman! So here I was, the mother of five amazing beautiful little boys, but really just couldn't stop thinking about the 2 things that I had always dreamt about for myself really never came true.

I talked with Mike about my desire to say goodbye to “roo”. I made an appointment with the plastic surgeon, who in the consultation told me that I needed to wait until a year after the last birth before he wanted to do the procedure. A little over a year after my last babies were born, I underwent a tummy tuck. Here are my blogs regarding that time of my life:

What I remember about that is all of the people asking me if I was scared. I was so excited to be able to put on a pair of pants and not have to tuck in a massive amount of extra skin, that I never thought about being scared. I truly thought it wasn't about me being vain, just being able to live the rest of my life a little more comfortable.

That was four years ago and for 4 years my weight went up and down and up and down, until this last February when I met a wonderful nutritionist who helped me realize that what I thought was the right, healthy way to eat, was truly an unhealthy wrong way to eat. I believe that with her help and a few other therapists over the years who specialized in eating disorders, I am now at a place that I feel empowered.

Living in Southern California is hard. Body image is extraordinarily prevalent, and especially with girls, I believe begins at a very early age. While I no longer obsess about food and my weight, literally on an hourly basis, I'm was not 100% at a place where I am comfortable and content.

A few days ago my family and I had the opportunity to spend the day with some close friends at a beach house they rented that week. It was so awesome, relaxing and peaceful. My family spent the day in the sand digging holes, catching sand crabs, and burying each other in the sand. One of my 8 year old's asked to take a little walk and of course I obliged. I think we were talking about him starting the new school year soon, when he kind of stopped me by touching my arm and looked very inquisitively at my stomach. He said "Mommy, what those marks on your stomach"? I paused, looked at his sweet face and I said "these are from when I had you and your brothers and let's just call them my tiger stripes".

It was that moment that all the sudden I realized that I actually earned those stripes. I was so lucky to have them. I was beyond blessed that my body had a chance to get them. It was a life-changing question that my son asked me. He's too young to understand right now what gift he gave me but when he gets a little older, I can't wait to share with him what a difference a few little words meant.

Since that day, I have not been able to stop thinking about how for 42 1/2 years I thought I knew what is best for me and it took an 8 year old to help me really understand what was.

From here on out, I wear my tiger stripes proudly!

Sunday, April 07, 2013

We just did a family photo shoot with Randi Marie Photography & I wanted to share!

Randi Marie Photography started in 2010. Randi strives to appreciate each and every moment she has with her clients and her work really speaks for itself!
Here are just a few of the pix taken:
We are so happy with how everything turned out! I highly recommend. For more info on Randi, visit

Friday, January 25, 2013

A week in the life of a scared mommy and a sick little boy

To say that this past week was probably the longest week of my life, is an understatement.

I am still blown away that it manifested like it did, but beyond thankful, in the end, everything is going to be ok.

Last Friday started like any other Friday in our house. All 5 boys went to school and I went about my daily routine. My in-laws were in town from Texas, because it was a 3 day weekend, so they picked up the little ones from preschool for me. At about 1:15pm, I received a text from my mother in law telling me that Matthew came home from school and wanted to go to sleep. I found it very odd, since this is totally out of the norm, but chalked it up to perhaps he played hard at school!

At 3pm, he woke up crying, tell me his leg hurt. He had to go to the bathroom and would not walk. I actually thought he was being a hypochondriac and urged him to toughen up and go pee! Clearly, I am not winning any Mother of the Year Awards for that one! He whimpered, so I got up from my desk, and helped him to the bathroom, as he hobbled along. I asked him if he had hurt his leg or if someone had hurt him at school, to which he told me no. He begged me to give him Advil, so I gave in.

Soon after he fell asleep again, only to wake up at 5pm, burning up. He had a fever of a 103. I found this odd, since I had given him medication just 2 hours prior, but at this point, concluded that he must have the flu, like everyone else and I was going to need to prepare myself for a long night ahead.

All he wanted to do is sleep, and complain that his leg hurt. I was still thinking that since I know when I have the flu, my body aches, this was the way a 4 year old was able to communicate the achiness.  He fell asleep again and woke up at 8pm, still very hot. I gave him Tylenol. By 9pm, the fever had not gone down at all, so I gave him a cool bath. All the while, he was telling me his leg hurt. At 10pm, I gave him another dose of Advil. At 1030pm, he was still very hot. I was on the phone with one of my best friends and was complaining to her how that I could not get his fever down. This had never happened before. Normally, at least I could get it from 103 to 100, or so, but this was not budging! She asked what his symptoms were. I said none, other than a fever…and oh ya…he won’t walk on his right side. She said “WHAT”? I repeated what I had just said and she very nervously said “You have to go to the ER NOW”. I tried to calm her down, letting her know she was totally overreacting at which point, she urged me to call my pediatrician if I didn’t believe her. So, I did, reluctantly, because it was now after 11pm, and I didn’t want to wake anyone up. I spoke with the doc, who confirmed what my friend said and told me I had to go. I know I sound like the worst mother in the world when I say this, but it was so cold, and I was in bed, and I was tired and I asked her about 3 times if she thought I could wait until morning. I clearly am not one to run to the ER for every little thing. After the 3rd time she told me now, I got up, put my Uggs on and headed out the door with Matthew to Providence Tarzana.

We arrived about 11:30pm. The waiting room was full with what looked like flu patients. I checked in, and took a seat as instructed. At 12am, we were called to triage. The intake nurse took all the info, and took us right back to what I thought was going to be a room, but instead a gurney in the hallway, where we would spend the next 4 hours.
It was right near the nurses’ station. The banter that went on in there, kept me entertained, while Matt slept, since they gave him morphine, for the pain. They drew blood, did an x-ray and ultrasound.
His white blood cell count was super high, as well as 2 other markers for infection. I found out that we were urged to go to the ER for fear he had what is known as a Septic Hip, however the lack of fluid found on the x-ray and u/s confirmed this probably was not it. Given that it was clear he was pretty ill, they said he had to be admitted; however the pediatric floor did not have a room at that time. At 4am, we got a private room in the ER where we would stay until 7am.
On the Pediatric floor, we were wheeled into a giant room, which according to the door, holds 3 patients. All I could think to myself is “this is going to be interesting”. As of that moment, there was no one else in there and they actually brought him a portable Wii to play with!
After we got settled, I noticed a small red mark on Matt’s upper thigh.
It had just appeared, however because his eczema is so bad on his lower legs, I sort of just figured it was moving. At 2pm they sedatated him for a 2 hour long MRI. By 5pm, the red mark was about the size of the inside of my palm. At 6pm, the results indicated that there was an absess in his upper thigh soft tissue.
They started him on Clindamyosin, all the while still giving Motrin and Tylenol to try to bring the fever down. At about 8pm, that evening, we got a roommate. A girl, about 14-15 years old. She didn’t speak English, but from what I gathered, it was something gynecological.

By 1am, he had 105. I was sound asleep in the bed next to him and the nurse woke me up in a panic. They covered him in ice packs. By this time the infection has spread to the size of my hand and was starting to really panic that it was Necrotizing Fasciitis, aka, the Flesh Eating Bacteria.
Many were urging me to have Matt transferred to Childrens Hospital, however Providence has just, I believe as of Jan. 1st, teamed up with CHLA and therefore a team of doctors from there came in including an infectious disease and surgeon to take on his case.
By Sunday morning, his fever was down to about 101 and the infection did not spread anymore fortunately. However, that afternoon, the infection started up again, so they switched from the Clindamyosin to Vancomycin, an even stronger drug to kill whatever was lurking.
Because we still did not have a clear diagnosis as to what Matt had, they put us in isolation – which also meant…we got our own room – so nice! It even had a fridge! Thank goodness for that, because every visitor that came brought me diet coke, my drug of choice and I had a place to keep it cold.

I settled in, organized all of the amazing gifts Matt had received and made ourselves comfortable.

The love and support we were receiving from the community was truly overwhelming. Meals were set up, the other 4 boys were being taken care of and well wishes were overflowing my inbox. I updated everyone as to what was going on thru Facebook and the vast amount of encouragement was awesome. A lot of juggling went on; however with help from everyone, Mike was able to keep the other boys schedules in order, while I pretty much lived at the hospital with Matt. He relieved me about 3 hours a day, so that I could go home, shower and do Jen’s List for the next day.

By Tuesday, the spreading had finally stopped and we were confident that the medication was finally working. On Wednesday, it was determined that enough of the infection has been destroyed by the meds and it was safe to go in and debride the area. Dr. Akemi Kawaguchi, who has been a friend of mine since I was 14, operated. I never, in my wildest dreams, would have thought that as high school friends, almost 30 years later, she would be operating on my son. I know I was in amazing hands!

The procedure was a success. She was able to remove almost most of the infection. What she couldn’t, would drain thru a packing left in the incision area. At the same time, they also put in a pic line as he was going to need to be on intravenous antibiotics for weeks and once he was well enough, they could send us home with that to keep recovering.

By Thursday, the nightmare of what we had gone thru was really starting to take its toll on me physically and mentally. I was beyond exhausted and extremely emotional. I know that Matt was on an upswing, but I felt like we had been thru so much, the whole experience was totally overwhelming. Not to mention I most likely gained 20 lbs. eating every cookie that someone brought and snacking 24/7 just to make the time go by!

Thursday night to Friday morning was rough. We both slept horribly and we were so ready to go home. The docs said they could not discharge us until they knew what the diagnosis was. Finally, at 2pm, one week later, we had an answer. Strep A positive. Basically, the same kind that is in your throat, but his landed in a lymph node in his upper thigh, got infected, abscessed and spread. Not a common occurrence. All along, everyone thought that it was MRSA. It is a very good thing that I took him to the ER when I did. Had it gotten into his blood stream, there would have been major problems.

We signed the discharge papers, packed up what I called my studio apartment and got home Friday afternoon where the home health nurse met us. She showed me how to administer the antibiotics thru his pic line, where I will continue to give him his medication until at least Feb. 2nd, three times a day.

Matthew is VERY brave. I am in awe of how amazingly he handled everything he went thru the past 7 days. He's on the road to recovery and for that, I'm very grateful. It was very frightening not knowing what was wrong. The nurses and hospital staff were terrific and really helped make my stay there tolerable.
A BIG shout out to the entire community. I am humbled by the graciousness and overwhelming response to our ordeal. The thoughts, prayers, good wishes received took us through this truly very scary time. There are not enough words to properly thank all those that reached out to help.
I will forever be indebted.

Now, as far as I am a concerned, I need a vacation!


Friday, July 20, 2012

Kids Photo Shoot with

Every so often, I get introduced to a photographer that just knows how to work with kids...
And with me having 5 boys, that is SUPER important. That, AND, that they take great photos! I was SO excited to have the chance to do a photo shoot with Sara Pine ( last week. Sara is beyond awesome with kids. The shots she was able to get, captured their true personality. Sara has been behind the camera since the age 11 and it shows! She is truly terrific and I HIGHLY recommend her. She is offering a weekday special - $300 includes the photoshoot at the location of your choice and ALL pix downloaded online for you to do whatever you would like with them! This is just a sample of the shots taken to get an idea of how AMAZING our photo shoot really was!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I am gonna do it this time….

Just like all the other times I said I was gonna do it. But this time it seems different. But then again, I have said that before. What can I do so this time is not like all the others? Can it be that I want it more? Can it be that I need it more? Not sure, but I really want to believe that this time is gonna be the last time I ever have to lose weight.

I try to always have a smile on my face. People comment to me all the time that I am always smiling and while I joke back “If I wasn’t smiling, I would be crying”, sometimes it’s true. I mean, come on, one person can’t possibly be happy ALL THE TIME…right?

I do love my life. I am so blessed with everything I have. That said, I just wish, more than anything that I didn’t think about food, what I weighed, and my body image 24/7. That is not an exaggeration. There have been plenty of nights that I have laid up thinking how I could be thin. How are thin people thin? When it is morning, so I could have breakfast? Am I the only person that feels this way?

Reality is, that I know I can't possibly be the only person that feels this way, BUT, I could be, maybe, one of the only people that talks about it. It is shameful. I think. Drug addicts don’t talk about their drug addiction and alcoholics don’t talk about their addiction, so why would a food addict talk about theirs? Same difference.

I read a blog this morning, which prompted me to do what I have been meaning to do for a while now. Blog. It talked about that ever so faithful BMI chart.

BMI Categories:
• Underweight = <18.5
• Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
• Overweight = 25–29.9
• Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater

It’s like the big bad wolf. I will never forget – I had just had my 1st set of twins, about 6+ years ago. It was about 3 months after I gave birth and had to go to the doc for something. He did his exam and I needed a second opinion, so I asked for the records for the first visit to take with me. I read them. The doc called me OBESE. To say I wanted to crawl in a hole and bury myself and never come out was an understatement. I am 5’7” and at that time, weighed 195. He clearly didn’t take into account I just had 2 babies – but just even hearing (reading) those words sent me into a tizzy. Me? Obese? No way. I know what obese looks like and I was not it.

I have been extremely successful on WW before. After my 1st pregnancy, I lost 80 lbs in 9 months (gained 70 with him) and after the 1st set of twins, lost 50 lbs in 5 months. Now, with the 5 kids, a full time business and countless other obligations, finding the time to lose the last 20-30 lbs has proved it extremely difficult for me and in the interim, mentally debilitating. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard “You don’t look like you need to lose that much”. Either they were being nice or need glasses. I also hear “You carry it very well” – as if that is supposed to make me feel better.

So, for the 100th time, I started Weight Watchers on Jan., 2nd. Studies show that logging what you eat daily is a great way to be held accountable. I agree. It’s also a great way to obsess about what you eat everyday – LOL! Fact remains, that for me to be a healthy person, mom, wife and friend, I need to do this. In the end, it’s not even really about the scale. Its how I feel. How my clothes fit. I have clothes in my closet ranging from size 8-12. I would love to get rid of the big ones and choose daily from the small ones. I have to know that it will happen. I have to believe that I will succeed. After all, “The best way to gain self-confidence is to do what you are afraid to do”. ~Author Unknown

And away we go…..