Rachel's Random Ramblings

I've spent more hours than I would like to admit this week trying to make invitations for my daughter's 10th birthday party.
Nothing is going right, and I honestly have no clue what I am doing wrong.
For some reason the font I have written in my Silhouette program isn't printing anything other than the registration marks.
I have these beautiful invitations that won't print.
So frustrated.
I stopped for gas this morning and it cost me almost $80 to fill my tank.
It was $4.15 a gallon for the cheap stuff
My husband always pumps his gas to an even number...usually right on the dollar.
Not sure why.
I have an addiction to generic pledge from the Dollar Store.
I have been using it to clean everything.
I use it to clean my shower doors.
I use it to clean my granite counter tops.
I use it to clean my stainless appliances.
I am obsessed with groupon and living social deals.
Love them.
I bought a living social deal for $100 worth of dog training thinking it would get me at least a 4 week class.
It only worked for an hour of training.
It seemed like they would really help us be able to train our sweet pup, but it costs around $1000 for their program.
I'm contemplating sending my kids through it.
Last week when the temperatures were in the 80's in the midwest I missed living there.
Spring is such a delightful time in the midwest.
Today, we have rain and yuck.
My youngest son has been growing and every single pair of his jeans either has a hole in the knee or is too short.
I shopped for a sale on jeans, but still had to pay $12.99 for a new pair at Old Navy.
I miss garage sales.
My youngest two kids who are three years apart wear the same size shoe and clothes.
Too bad one's a boy and the other is a girl.
Next week is spring break for the kids and I hate that we aren't going somewhere warm to enjoy it.
I miss the sun.
I got two pairs of free Victoria's Secret underwear this week.
Sometimes it pays to be on the mailing lists.
Our electric meter hasn't worked since we moved in over a year ago.
My husband called several times to let the city know that we weren't being charged.
They finally came out and fixed it this week.
Now I have to stop using my hair dryer as a space heater all day.
You can still make a donation to support the efforts to bring fresh water to Uganda.
You can donate only a dollar and I would love you forever.
My sewing machine died during The Pillowcase Project and I can't seem to fix it.
I've never had such a strong urge to sew in my life.
Sometimes I watch my dog sleep the same way I used to watch my kids sleep when they were babies.
I saw The Hunger Games last weekend with my 13 year old son and two of his friends.
I'm glad they didn't make me sit in a different row even though I would have if they asked.
I started taking vitamin D a few weeks ago and I think it helps.
I sleep deeper and don't get as bummed out with the long rainy season we have here.
Maybe I should stop this and go take one...
What's random with you this week?

The Truth Behind a Tummy Tuck- Why This Mom Got Plastic Surgery

The Truth Behind a Tummy Tuck

tummy tuck mommy makeover

I'm normally an open book but wasn't quite sure how I was going to approach this topic on my blog, so I guess I will just dive right into it. Almost two years ago (May 2010) I had a full tummy tuck. The technical term is abdominoplasty.

At 5'2" and 105 pounds, most people are surprised that I would need a tummy tuck. In fact, when I went in to interview plastic surgeons, they both assumed I was there for breast augmentation...
until I took my clothes off! Well, let's be honest, even then they probably thought I could use a boob job...but number one priority for me was getting rid of all of the extra skin from pregnancy and tightening up my abdominal muscles.

My body bounced right back after baby number 1. I literally walked out of the hospital after having my son in my size 1 jeans. I was young, and in pretty good shape.

Baby number 2 did more of a number on my body. 

My stomach shrank back quickly but there was definitely more stretching this time around. Think of a sock that has lost its elastic. My stomach had definitely lost its elasticity. It was after baby number 2 that I realized that I had to tuck my skin into my pants.

I couldn't wear what I wanted anymore.

As what would seem was becoming a common occurrence, baby number 3 entered our lives.
If I thought the skin in my stomach had lost its elasticity after baby number 2, it was really stretched with baby number 3.

This was me with two weeks left to go! It literally looked like I ate a watermelon the wrong way.

You can even see that my maternity shirt didn't fit and my stomach was hanging out of the bottom. Holy cow I was huge! Turns out my "little guy" was nearly 9 pounds! That's a big baby for a little mama!

Tummy Tuck Mommy Makeover

Instagram Vs Reality

One thing I wish got more attention in fashion/health magazines is that not everyone comes out of pregnancy looking like the stars on the red carpet.

We've all seen the pictures of celebrity new moms just after giving birth looking amazing in two-piece bathing suits or crop tops.

I remember seeing new mom Mariah Carey in a bikini on the cover of a magazine after giving birth to twins and I was pissed. 

The article had a subtitle that said "The Easy Day-by-Day Plan That You Can Do!" Makes you think that you too can have a flat belly just 3 months after having twins.

Sometimes No Workout Routine Will Replace a Tummy Tuck

I saw this quote with Gwyneth Paltrow on Pinterest. It really frustrated me.

Do you want to know why?

Because I was working my butt off at the gym 5-6 days a week for one and a half to two hours at a time doing hardcore workouts with a trainer, and yet, no amount of exercise was going to fix my sagging skin and belly pooch.

I was going to a 5:30 am strength training class lifting weights for an hour, then following that with forty-five minutes of cardio on the stair climber or elliptical.

On the days I wasn't doing strength training, I was going to boot camp for an hour, then running a 5k.

Once a week I would work out with a trainer that was notorious for his very difficult military-style workouts, think P90X meets Biggest Loser workouts.

There is article after article about flat tummy diets, but no amount of diet would have helped my problem. Only a tummy tuck would fix my issues.

Is a Tummy Tuck a Medical Necessity?

I ended up with abdominal muscles that had a five-inch gap between them (thus giving me the poochie tummy look). The surgery to fix my diastasis recti (the medical term) is not considered a medical necessity, thus, it falls in the category of plastic surgery. It's one of my biggest pet peeves to think that just a few more sit-ups or an extra mile on the treadmill will fix whatever tummy pooch you have when in reality no amount of exercise will help.

No amount of work at the gym was making a difference. I hated tucking my tummy into my pants and at 105 pounds and someone who was working out hard like I was, I felt like I should be able to wear what I wanted (like a bikini) without being embarrassed or even having to think about wearing a tummy-slimming line of clothing! 

Tummy Tuck Before Photos

Just a little visual for you. This is how my stomach looked when I would bend over. The extra skin would just hang. If you look at the picture on the right, you can see there is a hole that would form in my stomach when I would bend over.

Why I Decided to Get a Tummy Tuck

I talked to several friends, did a lot of internet research, and settled on two local plastic surgeons that I went and interviewed. I had never had surgery before. And while I have a very high pain tolerance, I also have a weakness for needles, so going under and having knives slice me open wasn't exactly enticing to me. I may have come close to passing out several times upon the description of the surgery.

One surgeon told me I didn't have enough skin to stretch and that I wouldn't be happy with the results. The other told me he felt like he could get me the results I was looking for but that I would probably still be left with stretch marks from my pregnancies.

Honestly, it would have been nice to wipe the slate clean so to speak, but I earned those stretch marks.

I suffered from morning sickness that lasted all day for a combined total of 17 months. I was pregnant for 121 weeks of my life. I nursed three babies for a total of 60 months. I am a mom. Stretch marks came with the title.

My Biggest Hesitation With Getting a Tummy Tuck

One of my biggest hesitations with this procedure is the hip bone to hip bone scar that is left.

These are the drawings the surgeon made the morning of the surgery. Anything inside the black was going to be removed. Below the line and above the line were pulled together and stitched back up.

Fixing diastasis with a tummy tuck

While I was open, my abdominal muscles were brought back together fixing the five-inch gap that had been made through multiple pregnancies.

I didn't realize that the gap separating my abdominal muscles was so large. 

Recovery after a Tummy Tuck

Is Tummy Tuck Recovery Painful? 

The recovery is one of the worst plastic surgeries to recover from I am told. It was about a 2 1/2 hour procedure that cost us $7000 out of pocket. It was an outpatient procedure that required my husband to be on duty for round-the-clock care for the first week. 
I opted to get a pain pump to pump medicine directly into the affected muscles (you leave with two cocktail straw-sized tubes attached to a constant drip of medicine, attached with a fanny pack...and really, you can't go wrong with a fanny pack!), and I had two drain tubes that totally sucked...literally and figuratively. The drain tubes suck out the fluid that collects in your abdominal cavity and needs to be "milked" twice a day. It's disgusting. Not only that, they are uncomfortable because they are held in by a stitch in your pubic area. They came out 8 days post-op.

Before the procedure, I went into the pharmacy with a list of about 7 pain medications that I filled. Some were for controlling muscle spasms, and others were for the pain. 

Is a Tummy Tuck a Hard Recovery?

The meds I took had me in a daze (mostly sleeping) for that first week. I had to have my husband at home. After the pain pump ran out, and the anti-nausea patch came off, the daze sort of lifted. I don't actually remember much for about a two-week period. While I was recovering my husband and I watched the whole Arrested Development series from start to finish. I could watch it today and it would be like the first time I was seeing it! Don't do drugs kids. 

The pain was never unbearable because I was able to stay on top of it with the pain medication. I had stitches from hip bone to hip bone and on my new belly button for about 3 weeks. My skin was so tightly stretched that I wasn't able to stand straight up for about four weeks. If you look closely at the picture below you can see two little dots on the sides of my belly button. That is where the pain pump tubes were.

Swell Hell with a Tummy Tuck

Is Your Stomach Flat After a Tummy Tuck?

You think you will see instant results, but there is a lot of swelling, so I looked pretty bloated for several months. I had to wear a girdle-type garment to snug me in and protect my belly for about 8 weeks. I went off all the pain meds after the tubes came out 8 days after the surgery. My husband headed back to work after the first week and I was at home taking care of my youngest son, who was four at the time. It took me about five weeks to feel like I was back to normal again. 

Here's a side view of me at 8 weeks post-op. Such a difference from the before photos.

Exercise and Life after a Tummy Tuck

I started training for my first half marathon when I was five weeks post-op. I didn't mean to, I was dying to get back to working out. I started out by slowly jogging and ended up going 5 miles. Less than four months post-op I was running my first half marathon. I really feel like being in shape helped me recover more quickly.

Would I Have a Tummy Tuck Again?

Now nearly two years later, I am still glad I had my tummy tuck. My saggy stomach was something I was so frustrated with because there was nothing I could do to change it no matter how hard I tried.

I still hate those women who can pop out babies and look amazing without having to have work done.

I'm not one of the lucky ones, no amount of exercise was helping and I was getting so upset at the magazines that were telling me how easy it was to get a bikini body. My abdominal muscles had separated nearly five inches, there was no amount of exercising that was going to make them go back together again.

pictures of me nearly 2 years post op


Will a Tummy Tuck Get Rid of Stretch Marks?

As you can see, I still have stretch marks. The stretch marks you can see just above my bikini bottoms are the stretch marks that were above my belly button. 

I can wear a bikini to the beach now, but the reality is, as a mom of three in my 30's I wear a bathing suit just several days out of the year. On a daily basis, I can wear normal clothes. I am not limited by the extra skin in my midsection. When I work out my core, I can see results. I'm not self-conscious if my shirt raises up a half-inch when I lift my hands above my head. 

The downside is, I do have to work around my scar. Because I didn't have a ton of skin to stretch (even though I felt like it was a lot), my scar ended up being higher than I would have liked. The scar continues to fade but it does make it an issue when I am searching for bathing suit bottoms. I didn't lose weight, I didn't change sizes, I just lost the extra skin that I was carrying around after gaining and losing a collective 97 pounds. The biggest benefit by far was fixing the diastasis. 

So yep, I had a tummy tuck. I went under the knife and got plastic surgery. What's it to ya?

Update 2022:

It's been more than 13 years since I had my tummy tuck surgery. 

Here are some questions I get about my surgery still.

Can Your Stomach Get Fat Again After a Tummy Tuck?

I have gained about ten pounds since my initial surgery. My stomach is still generally tight and firm and my weight gain seems to be more in my flanks than in my middle. But everyone gains weight differently and it is definitely possible to gain weight and "ruin" the results. It just hasn't been my experience. 

Is it Easier to Lose Weight After a Tummy Tuck?

After my tummy tuck, even though the skin was removed, I didn't lose any weight. I didn't change pants or dress sizes. Literally, nothing changed for me. If you see the question above, you will see that I have gained weight since my surgery. Some of that is just normal fluctuations that come hormonally and as part of metabolism slowing down. I don't think weight is easier or harder to lose with a tummy tuck. Don't get it thinking you will lose any weight. I definitely didn't. 

Are there any Long-Term Effects of a Tummy Tuck?

I'm more than a decade out of surgery and I have no real long-term effects of my tummy tuck surgery. Initially, one of my regrets was not getting a breast augmentation done. I'm now seeing many of my friends who had implants, getting them removed because they are experiencing long-term (negative) health effects. I have had nothing like that from having a tummy tuck. 

The only long-term effect is that I still have a hip bone-to-hip bone scar. It has faded, but it's still visible. But health-wise, I haven't experienced any long-term effects and am generally glad I had the procedure done.


Pinterest cooking...a few things I made and you should too

Sometimes I find myself pinning and not making, so last week I decided to tackle a few things from my pinterest food board.

I made these triple chocolate chunk muffins that have only 58 calories per muffin.  Mine didn't end up looking like this picture but they were pretty yummy.  

oats, greek yogurt -58 calories per muffin. these look good @Vicki Sofianos 
healthy is always better

I had some yogurt that was getting close to it's expiration date, so I made these yogurt drops for my daughter.  They were a great after school snack.

Yogurt Drops: Spoon flavored yogurt into a plastic bag. Squeeze dots onto cookie sheet and place in freezer. They'll be ready in about an hour! | Such a great healthy summertime snack. 
one good thing

Pumpkin muffins-just two ingredients, a box of cake mix and a can of pumpkin.  Not the healthiest muffin, but they were a hit with the kids.  They were gone so fast I didn't even get a chance to try them.

Sweet Verbena

Easter Birds Nests
I didn't follow this recipe because I have a kiddo with a peanut allergy, but it was the same idea.  I melted butterscotch chips and chocolate chips and added a bit of vanilla to one batch, the other batch, I used butter and mini marshmallows with a little vanilla.

Easter Birds' Nest 
The curvy carrot

Cinnamon Pinwheel bread
I made this for an after school snack.  I had to tweak the recipe a bit because I don't have a bread machine. Two loaves were gone in less than 12 hours.  It was so good and perfect as a warm snack right out of the oven.

Savannah's Savory Bites

cake batter cookies
I tried to make these just a little healthier by adding olive oil instead of vegetable oil.  I probably shouldn't have.  Stick to using vegetable oil. 

Cake batter cookies. 
Stephanie Cooks

Snicker doodle Muffins
These smelled delicious as they were baking.  Mine of course, never look like the picture, but they tasted yummy.  Again, I tried to make them a bit healthier and used whole wheat flour.  Just stick to white flour.  These would be a great special morning muffin.

eat me, delicious

What recipes have you tried lately?


An afternoon at the art museum

Last week my kids had three days off of school for teacher conferences.
We ended up spending the afternoon at our local art museum.

The best part of the whole museum is the open art studio.

You can tour the museum and be inspired by the art,
then head upstairs to the open art studio 
and make art based on the techniques displayed in the museum.

They had a twisted wire station where I made a ring

and spelled out the kids names in wire

Then we got to play with printmaking.

We sketched our picture into a piece of foam with a skewer
then rolled a brayer in ink before pressing the picture onto white paper.

This was my picture
and this is the castle picture my 6 year old son made

We had so much fun!

Spring break is in a few weeks.
I'm thinking we should head back for another trip.


60th birthday party

My mother in law celebrated her 60th birthday this week.

We planned a fancy dinner with the whole family 
Here is the birthday girl with all of her grand kids

We also got to celebrate Great Grandma's 85th birthday
Aren't they cute?!

Since we were celebrating at a fancy restaurant
there wasn't too much decorating to be done
but I did want to make a few special things to commemorate her special day.

I scanned in a few pictures of the birthday girl when she was around the same ages as the grand kids
Then I mounted the pictures on plain balloons

I also used Jones Design Company's party hat template
I resized a few of the scanned pictures
then printed them on cardstock
and embellished the hats for a fun party table addition

Nothing says birthday party like playing tic tac toe before ordering your food

Happy 60th birthday Carol!


Cutting Edge Stencil winner

The winner of the $50 cutting edge stencil giveaway is 

True Random Number Generator  
4you-withlove said... 3
wallpaper stencil 
The winner has been contacted. 
If I don't hear from her in 3 days, a new winner will be chosen.

Paula's Pillowcase Project sewing for kids with cancer

Last week, I sewed my buns off for the third year at Paula's Pillowcase Project.
You can read more about past years here and here
You can read more about the project here

In a nutshell, my friend Paula's 10 year old son was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer.
While her son was at Children's Hospital in Seattle he had a scratchy stiff pillowcase.
It didn't take long for Paula to see a need for kids with cancer and
Paula's Pillowcase Project was formed.

Each year the amount of pillowcases that are made continues to increase as do the volunteers that are involved.
This year the goal was to make 250 pillowcases for the kids at Children's Hospital in Seattle.

The event starts long before the project weekend.
Donations are accepted and Paula and her son head to JoAnn's on black Friday buying bolts and bolts of fabric
Volunteers wash and iron the fabric
and on Friday, more volunteers come to pre cut kits that are sewn on Saturday

Here are the pieces of the kit all ready to be put together
There is one narrow piece
one wider plain piece
and a printed fleece that is the main fabric

People are cutting


and ironing

 Volunteers make a handmade card for each pillowcase with a sweet handwritten note inside

Volunteers young and old come out to help.
I was quite impressed with several young girls who came out this year to sew.
Both said they were taught by their Grandmothers
Such a great skill

It was also a lot of fun to teach this 10 year old boy how to sew
He really liked sewing more than he thought he would.
And just as I started helping him make a pillowcase from start to finish, my machine died on me.
Thankfully, Jenny was there to lend a hand and her sewing machine to help Seth out.

This year a decorative stitch was done on each of the narrow pieces of fleece.
I think it turned out great!

 Aren't they just adorable!

I am so thankful to have a part in making a little something to help the kids be just a little more comfortable.


I can't wait for next year.
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