Monday, November 02, 2009

We just had a great family photoshoot and I wanted to share with everyone!

A La Mode Photo/Heather Hart

The holiday season is coming up and you need pictures!
See her portfolio at:
Schedule a pregnancy, family or baby photo shoot, buy a Gift Certificate for friends or family, or order beautiful fine art photo jewelry - Heather has everything!
*Mention Jen’s List for a Members Only discount.*
Heather is a mother of twins (and faithful Jen’s Lister) and has been a pregnancy and family photographer for 14 years. Most of her business is referrals and repeat business!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Best Landscaping Experience!

Jen's List member, Stephanie Davis, is degreed in Landscape Architecture and has taught in this field at both Pierce College and CSUN and has had her own design business for the last 10 years. From my 1st meeting with Stephanie, she has been amazing to work with and I highly recommend her for your next project. Her designs can include pools/spas, water features, patios, overhead structures, planting and lighting plans. No job is too big or too small. No charge for your first appointment. Call 805-231-6117 or email
Once we decided on WHAT to do, we were able to implement all of the design ideas with Danicio’s assistance. He is the person that actually completed all the re-landscaping in my front yard – including installing a new system! He is a very honest, hard working person and currently available as a landscaper or as your maintenance company. Danicio's # is (818) 438-6486. Not only did he do a truly fabulous job for me, but also recently completed another Jens List members home(
Feel free to email me anytime about Stephanie or Danicio at
Here are some before and after photos….Seeing it person TRULY does their work justice!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Family Photos

Mark has been crazy about photography since he got his first camera as a high school graduation gift. He studied photo journalism in college, worked for the yearbook and have enjoyed shooting "for the moment" ever since. After college, he fell into an advertising career that led him to producing, directing and copywriting. Through the years he continued to shoot tons of stills. Since he became a dad two years ago, taking hundreds of pictures of his daughter (yup, that’s her and him on the home page) became the norm and rekindled his love of journalistic photography. We recently had the pleasure of meeting Mark and having him shoot some photos of the family. We enjoyed working with him and thought his photographic skills were really good. He is offering Jens List 20% off a photo session. You can reach him at 310.750.5728

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pondering Life...

10 years ago, one of my very dearest friends was diagnosed with Sarcoma. They found it in her lung, which was very rare and over the years, after treatment after treatment, it spread to her brain. Emily has endured so many medical treatments, some experimental, surgeries and radiation, one would truly wonder how any cancer could survive. But it has and now she is losing the battle. This weekend, I am traveling with Mike to Dallas, to spend my last weekend with her. Even as I write this, my body is numb and I am not sure how I am going to make it through.
I think anyone that reads this will know someone in their lifetime to be effected by cancer. I am so angry at what has happened and how cancer has not only taken over Emily's body but effected some other very close people to me.
I always wonder why it seems so prevalent now. Why I know so many people battling this very ugly disease. Is it because I am older? Is it because its more common? I scares me to think...why them...and why not me?
I look at my parents and in-laws and think to myself all the time how lucky they are to be here, alive and well, to see their grandchildren. I pray, more than you would ever know, that I am that blessed and granted the ability to live another 40+ years.
Life is not fair. I have learned that. My mom always said it to me as a kid...and now I believe her. I wish she was wrong. I really, really do.

Monday, August 10, 2009

5 weeks ago....

My life changed...for the better. Actually, it is hard to believe that 5 weeks have gone by already. So fast! I feel great! Relatively speaking, no pain, and I am pretty much back to normal. Between week 3 and week 5, I was exhausted. Because I felt well during the day, and the kids were out of school, it was non-stop, go, go, go and then by their bedtime...I would crash. The hours rolled into days, days rolled into a couple of weeks...and here I am.
I am so happy to have had the opportunity to blog during this experience. I think its not only helped me but helped a lot of other people who always wondered what it was like and questioning having the surgery done themselves.
I bought 3 bathing suits last week...something I have not done in fact - the only one I really owned in the last few years was a maternity bathing suit...that when not pregnant, just passed off as something perhaps my grandmother would have worn!
I finally was able to get rid of a lot of clothing in my closet. I had been pregnant for pretty much 6+ years straight, so having a closet like Oprah just made sense. I had clothing ranging from size 6 to 16! The 16's were donated some time ago. Held on to some 14's and those were donated recently as well. Then the 12's left and I am holding on to the 8's and 10's. 6's....well - those were pretty much wishful thinking. BC...perhaps they fit...over my hips -I truly think at this point, no matter how much weight I lost, the hips are the hips and they are here to stay!
In about 4 1/2 months, I will take the after photos and then be able to see the full effect of everything I went through. Still pretty swollen, but the scar is healing nicely and I like the way its looking! This definitely is a summer to remember....that is FOR SURE!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

3 weeks post op and what I never knew......

I guess I wish I didn't feel so good in the morning, because then I would not be running around all day to leave me feeling like crap all night! It is so hard to stay put. How I ever was on bed rest for 5 months is literally beyond me, but at the time, I did what I had to do....OH...and I only had 1 child!
So....being 3 weeks post op today...for the most part I am doing extremely well. I am healing like I am supposed to and the swelling is all par for the course. Some things happened though, that I never knew was going to and it brought back to the time I delivered my 1st child. I read "What to Expect When You Are Expecting"...about 10 times cover to cover. However, never did it talk about some gruesome occurrences that can happen to your own body during delivery(girls...I am sure you know what I am talking about), never did it talk about the contortion positions the nurses expect you to get into to get the baby out and never did it talk about "tearing". That said, perhaps I was better off NOT knowing all of those things ahead of time or else Zachary would probably still be inside me to this day!
Now...back to THIS surgery. Never in my life had I been under anesthesia for 8 hours. I had no clue how tired I was going to be...3 weeks later. I used to be able to stay up until 11pm, if not later. Since my surgery, I will be lucky if I make it past 8:30pm - which puts a bit of a wrench into my computer time! So tired. Literally fatigued - like the only way my eyelids would stay up is with toothpicks.
I never thought that there would be highs THEN lows to what I went thru. Don't get me wrong, I am so blessed and feel grateful that I was able to have this procedure done...but your mind does funny things. The 1st few days, I was on a high - I guess perhaps maybe because I was high on Percocet! I was not swollen, my tummy was flat and it seemed like the surgery was a success. start moving....then you start swelling and then you start second guessing yourself if everything you just went thru really "worked". Of course its stupid, because with most surgery's come swelling and that goes away, but you don't want it to happen. Ever! I somewhat secluded myself...didn't want to talk on the phone, was not up for visitors and was thinking I was going thru some type of post traumatic surgery disorder. It's starting to lift and from my understanding, its all normal feelings....just didn't know about this before I went in!
Just when I thought I was alone for even wanting a tummy tuck, this past weekend I had 4 parties to go to and if I had a $1 for every time I heard "I want to do that too", I would be rich right now! In a strange way, it made me feel better that my initial feelings of plastic surgery being vain were not so off and that probably 9 out 10 woman would do the same thing tomorrow if they could. Is it a Southern California thing? Who knows. Its just nice to know that I am not alone.
All in all, I am healing just as I should be. The doc is keeping a close on eye on me and checking up on me weekly. I have another 3 weeks to wear the compression garment and another 5 1/2 months before the full effect of what I did will be known. If what I see now is any preview of whats to come...I'll take it!
Thank you to everyone for your love and support, friendship and food! It has made the past 3 weeks so much easier in every sense possible.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

2 words – Life Changing...

The past week and half +, during recovery, its given me a lot of time to really think about what my body went thru on July 7th. I think I had short term memory, because truly the impact was made on Friday, when I asked Dr. Schwartz to send me a few photos of "before". WOW. My life has changed for the better, forever. This experience, money spent aside, was the best thing I ever could have done. I am young and have so much more life to live - without ALL of that extra skin around my midsection! Even for the 1st time, now, I did not mind looking in the mirror!

Recovery really was doing a whole bunch of nothing. My mother in law was here helping with the kids and my friends and family continued to help with keeping the boys occupied. Food kept coming, making dinner time a whole lot easier for Mike to take care of. The hard part for the few days after I first got home, was sleeping upright, on my back. After a few days, I was able to turn a little bit on my side and actually felt most comfortable sleeping on the couch, where my back could be supported. The pain pump came out 1 week after surgery, however, unfortunately, the 2 drains stayed. I had been told that that was the worst part...and....I would have to agree. I FINALLY got the drains removed last Wed. and it was an incredibly free feeling. Now, its all about not doing too much, still not lifting the kids and letting the enormous amount of swelling go down. OH...and having to show the "after" to anyone that walked thru the door!

Everyone is so curious, and to their defense, I dont blame them. When you see the "before" you want to know if the surgery "really worked"...the answer...HECK YA and then some! This surgery was never looked at as a way to lose weight. Truly, no amount of exercise was going to fix the damage done by all of the pregnancies.

Dr. Schwartz throughout this entire process has handled me with kid gloves, as I am sure he does all of his patients. Not only are his skills incredible but his bedside manner matches that and kudos to him for being such a fantastic doctor.

I am looking forward to buying a bathing suit and going to the beach before the end of summer. I am looking forward to not having to hide my body behind clothing that is too big and I am looking forward to not looking away from the mirror when getting into the shower! All these things, unless you have been there, it is hard to understand the emotional side behind everything that I am looking forward to.

My goal during this whole experience, was to be as open and honest as possible. From the onset of Jens List, my motto was to share and that is just what I wanted to do here. As the weeks pass, the swelling will subside little by little. The full outcome of the surgery will not be realized until 6 months from now and I can't wait to see it!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Clutter...BE GONE!

Can you park your car in your garage?
Do you find yourself embarrassed to have the garage door up because the garage is such a mess?
Do you trip over items every time you walk in the garage?
If you find yourself relating to any of the above questions, I have a solution for you!
Last Friday, I had the team from 1 Day Garage Makeover out to my home. The arrived at 9am, and left 4 hours later and the outcome was no less than a miracle! Proof is in the pudding they say…so here are the before and after photos! I was SHOCKED. Having been recovering from my surgery, I could not lift a finger and I didn’t. They cleared out the garage and I was outside for a ½ hr. sitting on a chair all the while they were asking me, toss, keep or donate. Piles were made and I went back in until 1pm, there was a knock at the door and the garage was SPOTLESS…Unreal feat completed and I had to pass along this info to all…It will be the BEST $ you ever spent!!! I told them about Jens List and they agreed to give $25 off to anyone that mentions Jens List. The avg. garage ranges from $300-$500.Estimates are free – 818-451-8530 – I know they are booking fast, so if you are interested, I would call sooner vs. later!

Friday, July 10, 2009 be 20 again...

Ok, so I am not 20 again, and actually almost 40, but at least my stomach is as flat as it was(if not flatter) than BC....that would be before children! forewarned...I am an open book - so if at any time, the info becomes TMI...stop reading!

I can't believe its over. Truly. I was so scared going in on Tuesday morning. My dad arrived at about 530am to stay with the kids while Mike took me to the surgery center. We got there, I got into a gown, same ol' thing - nothing on, opening in the back...blah blah blah. The nurse came in and started my iv. I was still feeling ok. Then Dr. Schwartz walked in. He was rearing to go - excited as could on the other hand, was thinking where the closest exit was. We talked about what was about to happen...then it was time for his Rembrandt side to come out. With 3 different color sharpies, he began to draw, circle, color and highlight different parts of my body - something along the lines of what I had seen in a movie once during a sorority hazing scene. It is with that that all modesty went out the window. When he was finished, I felt like one of my 4 year olds art projects and with that, I was walked into the surgery center.

The next thing I remember is waking up and them telling me it was all over. I know the doc talked to me, but at that point had no recollection of what he said. After about an hour I was taken by car to a 2 bedroom suite at the Westlake Village Inn, where I was going to recover for the next 2 days. The surgery that was supposed to be 6 hours, was 8. Almost 10 lbs was removed from my body, something typically only seen in a gastric bypass patient. This information made me even more sure that what I had done was the right thing.

I did a lot of research before the surgery, everything from how to choose a doctor, to what to expect during recovery to final results. Most important was choosing a doctor in which I had 100% faith in, felt comfortable with and for me, knowing prior patients to personally see the outcome. During the interview phase months ago, I met with 4 different doctors that were all highly recommended. From the moment I walked in to Dr. Schwartz's office, met his staff, had the consult, toured the surgery center and talked about the procedure, I knew he was going to be the one to do it. (

For the recovery, most of the people that I knew that had had it done, went to some type of aftercare facility. Dr. Schwartz's office is just down the street from the Westlake Village Inn and that is where most of his patients recover - In a gorgeous room, with separate quarters for the caretakers, a jacuzzi tub(which of course, I could not use), fireplace, cozy beds and a buffet breakfast every morning! I was told to hire a nurse to take care of me. After reaching out to almost every single RN that I knew, unfortunately, that was not going to happen, as the amount that each wanted for a 24 hour period was not in my budget, to say the least. The care needed consisted of emptying my catheter(yes, that is in for 48 hours, so that you don't have to get up to go to the bathroom), 2 drains, giving me my meds every 4 hours(ON THE DOT!), logging my med intake, and getting something to drink/eat as needed all with tender loving care. Nothing fancy, and I am an easy patient. So...with my thinking cap on and Jens List at my side, I thought about Shannon. She is a certified Doula ( who has taken care of not only my brothers babies at birth, but many other friends children as well. I called her, talked to her about what I needed and she JUMPED at the chance - for her, 48 hours in a hotel room with a drugged mom and no baby sounded like heaven to her. She was AMAZING...and I told her that I think I just helped find a new calling for her! She took care of me perfectly. Loved having her around, so gentle, soothing, calming...everything I needed to heal. After going thru it, I know now, I could do it for a friend too!

The morning after surgery, I would say was the roughest. I had heard everything from its like a c-section to being run over by a truck. I just couldn't move, could not get comfortable and just slept most of the day. The doctor came at 7am to check on me and all was well. The whole day I never turned the TV on, just listened to soft music and dosed in and out. That night, I had some additional bleeding that Shannon was concerned about, so Dr. Schwartz stopped over before heading home to make sure everything was ok. It was. I slept better that night and woke up and actually felt like having breakfast. After a half of a bagel, I was done, but that was better than a few crackers here and there the day before! At 1:30pm, we checked out and headed back to the doctors office. He removed the catheter and took off some gauze and padding around the surgery site. It looked amazing. My stomach was FLAT. So flat, it actually caved IN a little when I was 14! Unreal. Unbelievable. As my husband said, he was a bit jealous...he has been working out for the past 20 years to get what I got in a few hours. I quickly reminded him that he has 5 kids that came out of MY body!

So, I have been home now for a few days. Each day, getting stronger and stronger. My mother in law flew out from Texas to help with the kids and all of my friends have been amazing. We have had dinner brought over every night and that has been terrific. The older kids are keeping busy and its the babies that don't understand why mommy cant pick them up. Thank goodness they wont remember this. Being home, all I wanted to do was shower... but that cant happen until the pain pump comes out in a few days. So, a friend, who has a beautiful salon in her home, Kelli Acevedo, said she would wash my hair in her salon sink. Whoo hoo. I scored. Mike loaded me in the car, we drove up the street and i got my hair washed. Thank goodness for the Brazilian Blowout...i combed it and its dried straight. I feel a little better between that and a sponge bath! Nothing is gonna beat Monday though when I can actually step IN the shower for the 1st time in a week!

Slowly but surely, i will heal. The after photos are taken in 6 months. Being 4 days post op if you asked me if i would do it again, i would say HECK YA. I think because i was SO prepared for the worst, that it really was not that bad and the outcome is worth it! If only there was something on TV to watch other than MJ news....the experience would have been flawless!

Back to bed I go....more later.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Parting With Roo....

I never was secretive about wanting a tummy tuck, but I also didn’t want people thinking it’s an issue of vanity. Before 8 pregnancies, 3 live births including 2 sets of identical twins, I would have told you that people who get plastic surgery were vain. I think it’s a fact of life that things will sag and get wrinkly as you get older, have children and time progresses. There’s a lot to be said for growing old with grace. So all that being said, I kind of felt like a traitor knowing that next Tuesday in Westlake Village, I will be going under the knife. I didn’t like how it got in the way when I was buying clothes, I didn’t like the way it bulged in weird areas, I didn’t like the way it looked in the mirror, and I didn’t like how when I laid down, it laid down next to me. The more I thought about it, the more surgery didn’t seem so out of line. Getting older is natural, hanging skin from giving birth to 5 beautiful boys is not.
Last night for the first time the reality of the surgery hit me. I was laying on the couch and I was thinking about my tummy and how it was flopping over. I thought “well it won’t do that for much longer!” I got really excited thinking about it, but as quickly as that feeling came, so did some new feelings regarding reality of the surgery.
I really will be cut hip to hip with a scalpel.I really will be laid up for a while in bed.
I really will not be able to pick up my kids for 6 weeks.I really will be in a lot of pain.I really will need several months to fully recover.I really will have a large scar.I really will be spending a lot of money.
I have looked at before and after photos on every site known to man on the internet. I dream about what it’s going to look like after surgery and soon enough, that dream, will become a reality with the help of Dr. Schwartz.

Next Blog update…post op J

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Just Do It!

After watching “Howie Do It”,
I laughed to myself, thinking how often I hear “How Do You Do It”?
The answer is…You just do! I don’t have a choice. This is my life!
I am so fortunate to have a helpful husband, one that is very hands on. I am also lucky to be able to have help 4 days a week. All together, we make a great team and it all works.
Not sure that its actually dawned on me that I have 5 kids. Serioulsy. If I ran into someone from high school and they told me they were married and had 5 children, I think I would look at her in utter shock and think that she was nuts! Who has 5 kids? Oh ya…I do!
Maybe it does not dawn on me because there are 2 sets of twins. Maybe it does not dawn on me because I only gave birth 3 times? Not sure, but the answer probably is it does not dawn on me because I am so busy from sunrise to sundown, that there is no time to really think about it! I just do it.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Happy New Year

…7 months late. I told my husband last night, that I could not believe that I let 10 months go by without updating the blog. Things need to slow down. They are moving way too fast. The babies are already 13 months old. When I really stop to think about it – it blows me away. I was just getting ready for Thanksgiving. I was just making my holiday card list and buying holiday gifts. Where did November go? What about December? How about the 1st half of 2009!
I encourage everyone to lighten up, to live each day to the fullest and not harbor negative energy. It’s easier said than done, I realize, however, the old saying “life is too short”, is very true and it’s not worth it to waste one second of it unhappy.
As I get older, the quote from Dr. Suess begins to make more and more sense to me.
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
Life is good. I have 5 beautiful children, a loving employed husband, a wonderful extended family, amazing friends and roof over my head. We are all healthy and have nothing to complain about.
I wish nothing but health and happiness to everyone around me. The longer I live, the more people I meet and that exposes me to situations in which I otherwise would not have experienced. Jens List has allowed me to come in contact with so many different people and 4 years ago, I never world have imagined that this would be what I would be doing! Each day brings a new adventure. One that I look forward to with excitement (even though it had more hours in it), so thank you for letting me share my life with you!

Saturday, May 23, 2009


The Game Truck - A mobile video arcade
I must tell you that my boys are really into video games and when I heard about the Game Truck it was a dream come true. The truck pulled up to our driveway last Saturday and it was like Santa Claus came to town! My oldest had a few friends (16 to be exact) over to play in it. Not only is this good for boys, but they have a ton of games and things for the girls to play too! The vehicle has four 50 inch plasma TV’s, a leather couch that holds at least 16 kids at a time, and every video game under the sun (Wii and X Box). It is VERY reasonably priced and completely self contained. It was parked in front of our home for two hours and we did not see the boys the entire time, It is fantastic for your next birthday party, charitable, school or community event or just an excuse to get some of your kids friends together to have a good time! Email me with any questions about it. So if you have a son or daughter from age 5 to 18, the Game Truck is something that every video gamer needs to experience. Call 310 890 GAME OR 888 602 GAME for more info.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Sharon Suh Photography I recently had the pleasure of meeting Sharon when she came to our home for a photo shoot. Sharon came HIGHLY prepared and really worked amazingly with all 5 of my kids. She is patient and good natured and the photos turned out wonderful. You can reach her at 646 244-1024