Wednesday, January 26, 2011

i had a dance party on my scale today

i've never been a dieter. probably because i don't have the self control. i exercise so i can eat. and when it comes to eating, i believe in moderation. this plan has worked for me for most of my life. 

but in the summer of 2009, i suddenly gained 10 lbs. granted, 10 lbs. on my 5'7" frame isn't life shattering, but it was noticeable. especially as it poured over the waistline of my jeans. i didn't really care what others thought or noticed. it just bugged me. 

and i was baffled. i had no idea how on earth i gained those 10 pounds when nothing in my eating or exercise routine had changed. i really was eating the same - no more no less. i had just finished training for a half marathon and was looking forward to another. so really, my exercise hadn't changed one bit. 

on a semi-long run with a friend, i confessed my frustrations. "maybe it's stress?" she offered. 

stress?? what in the world could have been that stressful in my life during the summer of 2009?

oh, that's right. her:

the next few months were a whirlwind. i still kept up my regular exercise and relatively healthy eating, but my weight stayed stagnant. 
last fall i decided enough was enough. i didn't have control over a lot of things in my life, but i WOULD have control over my weight. 

i really haven't changed the way i eat. i'm aware of what goes in my mouth and i try to keep it healthy. as often as time will permit, i use fresh, organic produce, not a lot of salt {i'm not a sugar girl - it's salt for me}, minimal amounts of bad oils and not much from cans or boxes. i still love me some cheesecake every once in awhile, but again, all in moderation. i try to have healthy snacks on hand and easily accessible. 

what i decided to change was my exercise routine. rather than all cardio, i'd fit in some strength workouts as well as some more relaxing techniques like yoga. 

i did well throughout the fall and really kicked it into high gear after christmas. i've exercised at least once every single day except sundays {minus one day when we had some visitors and i couldn't fit it in}. and i feel good! overall, i've lost 7 lbs and am back in the right range. at this point, i don't really care about the last 3 lbs. i feel more toned and i'm getting my arms back! i love my arms. i don't ever want to lose them again. i increased my push-up ability from six {true pushups, not girly ones} to 22. and i know i'll keep improving. my flexibility has increased and i'm using heavier weights than when i first began.

but even more than that, i feel like it represents something bigger. seven pounds is not that big a deal. really, it isn't. but thinking back to that initial a-ha! conversation with my friend, i feel like taking control of my weight represents taking control of some of the excess stress. leah is less able than she was in 2009. i have to do much more for her and it takes a lot more of my time. buuuuuuuuuuut, we're figuring it out. it's not so unknown. it's not so overwhelming. and therefore, not so stressful. most days.

and so today, when the scale stopped BEFORE that big black line - the one that has been taunting me for months - i did a little dance. okay, i did a big dance. and then i started to sing along. i had a full blown party in the bathroom. and then leah joined me. and i just love when leah joins my dance parties.

Monday, January 24, 2011

split life

i have a dilemma:

part of me is normal. part of me is not.

i'm half mom, half rett-mom. i'm half maren, half rett-maren. half wife, half rett-wife. and sometimes, it's not half. the ratio isn't always exactly even. and i'm torn. i'm being pulled on both ends and i'm afraid i'm just going to snap like a wishbone {kind of like this super cool picture of me at my wedding being "torn" between my ry and my step-dad. funny, no?}

that's my dilemma.

of course, the ideal outcome would be to rid myself of rett syndrome. find a cure and get my little leah back. {i know, i've learned a lot and people are better off to have had leah in their lives and, and, and...but let's just forget that today because really, rett syndrome just stinks.} but finding a complete cure is not likely to happen anytime soon. so, i have to figure out how much of me should be regular old mom and how much should be rett-mom. or wife. or maren.

i'm happy to immerse myself in all things rett. i'll advocate and research and fundraise. i'll take her to neurologists and cardiologists and phlebotomists and therapists. i'll work and work and work to get her to realize the power that is her eye gaze. i'll cut out and laminate hundreds of food cards so she'll simply have a choice. i'll hold her hand as we roller skate all around the neighborhood. i'll be uplifted by friends i've made who have found themselves in a similar position in life. i'll do it. and i'll do my best to not complain.

but...i'm also maren. i have friends who have nothing to do with rett syndrome. i have family members who have kids doing very normal things. i have a desire to have more kids of my own who will hopefully have a voice and able hands. kids who can regulate their breathing and their body temperature and their ability to communicate and the muscle tone in their body. that's my hope. and even if it doesn't happen, even if leah is my one chance, i just can't be all rett.

it's probably selfish. i'm sure it is. i have multiple friends who are all rett. it is their life. their passion. they have dedicated their lives to fundraising for a cure, advocating for their girls and spreading awareness to the world. they work for rett syndrome organizations. it is on their mind all. the. time. and it works for them.

but that doesn't work for me. like i said, it's probably selfish. but regular old maren is still inside of me. she comes out every once in awhile, but then i feel guilty. guilty that i'm not trying hard enough for leah. i'm not doing this therapy or that technique. i don't have this gadget or that gizmo. i haven't hired a professional advocate - i do most of it myself. and i don't know it all. {shocker, i know. my 17-year-old self cannot believe what 29-year-old maren just admitted.}

but then leah has a great week. or i find that helping her learn to swim last summer was better than any water therapy i could have paid for. or taking the switch to santa was apparently a great idea, and i thought of that myself. so maybe i am doing okay. maybe i am being enough for leah. i'm giving her what she needs. i'm doing my best.

maybe i can be both. i can't be 100% rett maren and 100% regular maren, at least not at the same time. but i can be a bit of both. some days it might be 50/50. some days the scale wil tilt, the rett monster will overpower and i'll have to shed some normalcy. but other days, maybe, just maybe, i can be a little more maren. normal maren. regular old maren from the block. hehe. just leah's mom. not maren-mom-of-leah-who-has-rett-syndrome.

and maybe, on those "just leah's mom" days i won't feel guilty. i can remember i'm doing my best. i can remember it's okay to be a regular mom mom every once in awhile. just have to figure out how to balance out my dilemma.

and yes, i'm open to suggestions. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

it takes a tourist...

ryan and i decided it takes friends and family coming to visit for us to get out and explore our own surroundings. grandma and grandpa layton came to visit {leah} for the long weekend. 
we went to the oakland zoo {a first for me! - what a great zoo!!}, the oakland temple, our gg lookout {but we hiked to the top - where i've never been}, ate at fisherman's grotto on the wharf and just moseyed around the city.

it was quick but so enjoyable. thanks for coming!

the handwritten word

first off, thanks for all the kind words and encouragement. i feel much better. monday morning was rough. but the rest of the day, including my self-imposed pouting session, was actually pretty relaxing. no pressure, no expectations and just a day to feel 'bleh' and get some of the sadness out. if anyone's wondering. leah and i are, once again, friends. she's currently standing right next to me snapping my arms in her tiny little fingers, wearing a pink, puffy fairy princess dress. we're listening to my mix on iTunes titled, "dance party with leah."
we're wrapping up a busy week and three-day weekend, including a visit from ryan's parents, by taking all of our christmas decorations back to storage and cleaning up a few other odds and ends. we "took down" christmas a few days after the big event. in my family christmas comes down before the birthdays start. and the birthdays start on december 30th. but this year, i held onto the cards. there's not much more i love about the holidays than an overflowing mailbox, filled with warm wishes, updates and darling photos from family and friends old and new. 

i love it. 

i've always loved the hand-written word. i carry a notebook with me to jot ideas down. you will always find at least a few lists hanging around my house. and i love writing thank you notes. with a pen. on paper. i love addressing the envelope and sticking the stamp in the corner. and i love sending those handwritten words off to be delivered by an actual human being. i imagine the look on someone's face when they shuffle through their bills and junk and ads only to find something personally addressed to them. in ink. the thought that someone took time just for them. i imagine they feel the same way i do each time i open my own mailbox to such a surprise. 

this year we were more than blessed with holiday wishes from friends near and far, old and new. friends we haven't seen in years. friends we saw yesterday. friends whose families have grown exponentially. friends who, this year, might be missing one or two. i love the crisp, clean layouts and the creative year-in-review summaries. and i love displaying them in my home. 

this year i grossly under-ordered our own cards and figured that meant what goes around comes around. i was pleasantly surprised. i ran out of mini clothespins for my homemade card hanger. and then i ran out of space. i had to tape cards to the wall to fill two more columns of cards. seventy six in total. seventy six friends and family members thinking of the laytons. seventy six envelopes spilling out of our mailbox. seventy six family photos and well-wishes. seventy six smiles, thinking about you.

so thank you, seventy six times over.

Monday, January 10, 2011

one of those weekends

i should be working out right now. shredding it up with jillian michaels. but i just don't have the energy. it was one of those weekends. it was interspersed with some bright points, but right now the shadows are more overpowering. i honestly try to give my best effort at staying positive and keeping a smile on my face. but today i just need to pout. 

leah was awful this weekend. 


as in screaming for hours, hitting {yes, she hit my broken nose multiple times}, biting, throwing food and just being downright terrible. i've tried to be patient. i tried probably 43 different tactics. and this morning {after two hits in the face, a bite on the cheek and some screaming}, i decided that today i would feel nothing. no talking. no trying. today i'm just going to be. and i'm hoping that will enable me to slide by without feeling too much hurt. 

and honestly, not talking to her won't be that big of a change. i haven't had a conversation with words with anyone but myself during the day for the past four years. i think i'll get by. 

she graduated from nursery to primary yesterday {which, i'll post about when i'm in a better mood} because it's kind of a big deal in our church and there are some amazing people who helped it happen...and will continue to try to make it work. and, ryan was a true champion this weekend. he babysat, he cleaned, he helped and he encouraged, on top of all the things he had to do for himself.

i was getting leah's dirty clothes from her room today {it's laundry day} when i looked up. up onto the shelf where i stashed some of the toys she barely used...or never used...but i don't want to throw away. a to encourage hand use when it was disappearing and we had no idea why. some balls she used to like to catch and throw. a twisty turney bead roller coaster contraption from ikea. that quiet book i spent hours and hours making. i think we took it to church four or five times before i gave up. this morning i turned its pages, sobbing. will we ever have a child who will enjoy this book? i really don't know. will i ever be able to talk with the child i have? i don't know.

i just don't know. and today, i don't have the energy to smile about those unknowns. so today i'm just going to be. and hopefully i'll make it through. i most likely won't answer my phone. or the door. because i just don't feel like it. i will exercise, but i probably won't get dressed.  i plan to listen to some mellow tunes and i will most definitely cry. but i think i'll make it through.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


leah had her first day in primary in january - a sunday school class for kids in our church ages 3-11. she's in the sunbeam class. i've thought about this day a lot in the last four years. and my idea of how it would go down has drastically changed in the past year and a half. 

but...there were a lot of people who made sure it would still happen - and continue to work for it each week. so many wonderful people who understand her body doesn't work but truly believe her mind does. people who insist she not sit in nursery with the babies, but come to primary with the other big kids and learn and grow. 

we tried to snap some shots of her on her first day, but didn't have time until after 3 hours of wiggling in church. it was not a successful photo shoot. this was our best. sort of a half smile.
but here are some goodies. 
my favs are the top right and bottom left. 
she's so photogenic, don't you think?
she must get that from her mom.

Monday, January 3, 2011


another year. a clean slate. i love new beginnings. so much potential. so much to be written. we're hoping it's a big year for our family. only time will tell. leah, per tradition, is a bit hesitant as to what the next 365 days will bring, but we tried to assure her she'll be fine. it is what we make it. the tiara helped a little. 

i've been mulling over my thoughts as to resolutions, if you will, and i'm almost there. some goals and a theme i'd like to strive to live by this year. in the meantime, {for those of you who don't have reader} the rest of the blog is updated:

and now i need to peel my eyes away from the computer for a bit. 'til tomorrow.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

party like it's 2011

we rang in the new year with a handful of good friends at our fourth annual new year's eve party. it was a small group this year. nine, to be exact {with two little ladies sleeping in other rooms}. but we had loads of fun eating scones, chips, dip and other goodies and playing games that made us laugh so hard we cried. good times, good times. here's to you, 2011.

p.s. thomanders didn't get the kissing memo for the first pic, but they made up for it in #2. and lindsey is kissing her ed from afar in #3. he was at work winning the bread.