We finally found some answers as to why Levi has been sick so much during his first year and a half of life. After taking foods out of his diet, getting tubes in his ears, keeping him away from public places and seeing a ton of specialists we still had no answers until a couple of weeks ago when we visited an immunologist for the first time. 

Dr. Bauer, who is also an allergist as well an immunologist, did some allergy tests and we learned that Levi is very allergic to cats, dogs, dust and cockroaches. Surprisingly, he doesn't have any food allergies to date.

And interestingly enough, our house that we moved into just before he was born used to have cats in it. We also have a golden-doodle, and with our house being so large I can' say I'm always up-to-date on keeping the dust-mites at bay. I'm not really sure how the cockroaches come into play considering we are very cleanly and have never seen one here, but I guess they must be outside in the grass. So, it turns out that the reason why he kept getting infection after infection was because there was always mucus in his sinuses as a result of the allergies. His little immune system was also taxed by constantly producing anti-histamines. Poor guy!

Our doctor advised us to make some big changes inside our home, and they have helped tremendously. Levi isn't scratching his nose all of the time and finally doesn't sound stuffy. He also hasn't been sick in three weeks, which is huge for us. So, here's what we think is helping:

1. Air Purifier with a Hepa Filter - We were told to put a air purifier in his room that has a hepa filter, and to keep it running all of the time. This will filter out the dust in the air that he's allergic to. She also recommended that we keep the door closed at all times to prevent additional dust from getting into his room. So far we like the GermGuardian a lot. It has a blue nightlight too that you can use.

2. Vacuum with a Hepa Filter & vacuum weekly - We had been using a 10 year old vacuum, and we were only vacuuming about once a month upstairs. We're very tidy people, and I never saw any dust anywhere. I had no idea how much dust could collect in our low grade carpet until we bought a new vacuum. We purchased the Shark Navigator after reading a ton of reviews, and the amount of dust you pick up every time you run it is insane. I guess that's what you get for living in Arizona.

3. Daily Children's Zyrtec - Though I don't love having to give Levi meds every day Zyrtec has helped tremendously. Long-term studies have also been done and show no side-effects to using it. Plus, there are no proven natural remedies for animal allergies at this time. Eventually, when he is 4 years old he can start to get allergy shots, but for now he doesn't mind taking a 1/4 tsp daily.

4. Daily nasal spray - Nasacort is a non-steroid nasal spray that just helps to keep the mucus away, and combined with the Zyrtec his nose is staying clear. 

5. No dairy - Dairy gives him bad eczema and also causes mucus to form. 

6. No stuffed animals in his room - They are huge dust collectors, so we have banned them from his room. 

7. Change his clothes before nap time and bedtime - Germs and allergens can cling to fabric. To be extra cautious we change his clothes before nap and bedtime. 

8. Daily baths - We were only bathing Levi every other day because of his eczema, but the doctor recommended daily baths with warm water to wash away the dust and germs. We only use soap on the dirty areas and we don't wash his hair every time. We have been applying Vanicream twice daily and it seems to keep the eczema under control. 

9. Got rid of our dog - Wendy has been a part of our family for seven years. I can't tell you how heartbreaking it has been to live life without her. We are doing a two month trial with our in-laws, and then we are going to try to bring her back after Levi has shown improvement over the long-haul. I'm hoping it's not forever, but I'll keep you posted.

10. Eliminated some rugs - We removed the rug the kids play on every day. We have a ton of area rugs in our house, which can be huge dust collectors. If needed, we will start eliminating more, but hopefully, we don't have to have bare floors throughout the whole house to keep his allergies under control.

So far so good. He hasn't been sick in three weeks and he is the happiest I have ever seen him. His nose is clear and he isn't scratching his face constantly. I can't tell you what a relief this has been to me. It makes me teary-eyed thinking about it. If you have children with constant ear, sinus and throat infection I highly encourage you to seek an immunologist in your area. 


It has almost been a year since I gave birth to Levi, and I wanted to share an update on how my body has changed in hopes it brings encouragement and a real perspective to motherhood. Being someone that is entrenched in social media, I often see other moms or celebrities "bounce back" within six months to their pre-baby bodies. Not me. It takes me longer, and it takes the majority of people longer than six months. 

This is my second pregnancy, and both of my pregnancies I gained 35 pounds. I lost that baby weight gradually over the course of a year. Back in March, I shared pictures of my body taken 4 months post-partum in size 12 pants and weighing 148 pounds. I'm now wearing size 8 pants and I weigh 134. You can see a side by side above.

My pre-pregnancy self was 127 wearing size 4, but I was also working out three times a week at the gym. I have not been able to exercise at all since the birth of Levi because I have had a flair up of arthritis and my Hashimotos disease has caused my thyroid to get out of whack. We are still working on finding the right dosage to reduce the inflammation in my body, but once I'm pain free I'll get back to the gym. 

But regardless of working out or not, these are just numbers and pictures. How do I really feel about myself? Do I feel normal now? 

I feel great about myself now, and, yes, I feel normal now. I finally feel like I can invest money in clothes I love and not just wear a cheap postpartum wardrobe from Target. I don't find myself self-conscious about my stomach anymore. I also feel confident to wear a swimsuit again. (Below, is an un-edited picture of me 9 months postpartum.)

Is there room for improvement? Of course, but muscle tone is totally different than just simply wearing clothes that feel like you and being in sizes that feel "normal" to myself. Can I wear all of my old clothes yet? Nope, but I'm not discouraged by that. It takes time my friends, and it will take more time for me. Give your bodies grace. It took a year to grow a human and it takes a year to feel and look like yourself again. And it may take even longer than that (like me) to get back to your pre-baby self. I just want to tell you that it's NORMAL. What's not normal is getting back to your pre-baby body in six months or less. That's amazing! Congratulations to the women that can do that, but it's not the norm. Don't put that pressure on yourself.

Be patient and realistic with your body. In time you will feel like yourself again, and in the meantime, pat yourself on the back for creating a beautiful baby.

Photos by Rennai Hoefer. All photos of my body are un-edited to give an accurate depiction of my body.

Health & Fitness Goals for 2015


This post is sponsored by Mountainside Fitness.

I know I might be jumping the gun by talking about my New Year's resolutions before Christmas has even happened, but I'm a planner. I just can't help myself. Not to mention, I'm kind of anxious to kiss 2014 good-bye and start fresh. There are many things to be thankful for this year, but emotionally, 2014 has been a hard one for me. So, here are 5 things I'm looking forward to doing in the next year to help my body.

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1| Drink 3 glasses of water a day, every day. I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but I hardly drink any liquids that aren't coffee. I'm dehydrated and I live in the desert. This can't be good for my skin or my body, so I'd like to change that by starting with an attainable and manageable goal of 3 tall glasses of water a day.

2| Run a 5K with my husband. Running a 5K is one of my husband's goals, and so I've made it one of mine as well. I'd love to accomplish such a big goal together.

3| Try TRX classes. I've been really interested in TRX training, and I would love to try out a class. I think it's going to be my new favorite workout style.

4| Try a spin class. I haven't tried a spin classes either. I'm intimidated by them, actually, but it's time to get over that fear.

5| Start using anti-aging products morning and night. All I do for my skin right now is wash it with soap and apply SPF in the morning. I'm starting to notice some deep wrinkles, and it's time to do something about it now.

Photos by Sarah Gray Portraits