Dani’s Birth Story, One Year Ago Today

it’s hard to believe that just one year ago today at 6:31 pm, our little Danielle was born into this world. now called Dani Kat by all who know her, she has been a beautiful ray of light in our home. her brothers adore her, she has daddy wrapped around her little finger, and has made all of mommy’s little girl dreams come true.

i was over the moon when i found out i was finally having a little girl after three boys. actually, everyone in our family was very excited. i’ve always wanted a little girl, and my wish came true…we weren’t even thinking we would have a fourth baby. apparently, God had other plans for us, and sent us Dani.

i’ve never shared a birth story on the blog before, and i never planned on sharing Dani’s. but since she’s a year old today, i thought i would go ahead and share a little bit about the day she was born. having her in our lives has made me a happier person. i have cherished each day, the bad and the good ones, especially since i don’t see us having anymore babies.

one thing, i wanted to share with you is something that is very dear to my heart.

Dani was born on my dear friend’s birthday. i met Joan when our oldest sons where in kindergarten. we continued our friendship as they’ve grown up and entered junior high. throughout the years, Joan had three more boys, and myself, two boys. unfortunately, she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. for the past three years before Dani was born, she fought…and she fought hard. she went through multiple rounds of chemo and surgeries. you never saw her sad, she was always so positive. an AMAZING mom with lots of talents. i remember calling her to tell her about my surprise little girl. we talked and talked about how exciting it was. we would text, and talk about how the boys would be so excited. Dani was due to be born near Joan’s birthday, and she told me that she hoped Dani would share her birthday.

summer came and terrible news came that Joan’s cancer was getting worse. it would finally take her at the end of the summer. everyone was devastated. i cried and cried….and i still cry today. every once in a while, i mistake another mom who is pushing a child in a stroller at school pick up as her. i still expect to see her smiling face every afternoon, and having our happy chats about our boys.

here is Joan. her smile says it all. it was contagious…and how i will always remember her.

fast forward to January 1, 2017…January 2nd would be Joan’s birthday.  i was due to have Dani on January 5th…and then my due date got pushed to the January 9th. so i didn’t think there would be a chance i would have Dani this early. after three kids, i figured i knew how my body worked.

i woke up the morning of January 2nd at 6:15. i hadn’t had any substantial contractions during the night, and no signs of labor. i thought to myself,

“i guess i’m not going to have the baby on Joan’s birthday.”  

i sat up in bed, an whoosh. my water broke!

i had to eat my words….looks like my baby girl would be born on Joan’s birthday after all. i can only help but think that Joan had something to do with Dani’s birthday. this is something that’s very special and dear to my heart. just thinking about it makes me grin ear to ear….especially remembering Joan’s contagious smile on her birthday. i only hope that Dani grows up with a smile as special as Joan’s.

the rest of the day went a little different than planned, but i still ended up with a beautiful baby girl.

i got to the hospital around 8:30am. finally in a room around 9:00am. my water broke, but i was not in active labor. i had a few steady contractions, but not very strong, and very far apart. i was able to walk around to keep myself busy. i wasn’t sure if i was going to get an epidural or not. my last baby came in less than 4 hours, and if this baby was going to come that fast, i didn’t want to bother with it.

i was given a cervical softener to help get labor started. it worked so no pitocin was needed. my contractions became regular and steady. by two-thirty they were 3 minutes apart….but not strong at all. i continued walking around my hospital room, keeping myself active. the nurse told me the baby would probably come closer to 9pm, so i tried to keep from getting bored.

around 4:30pm, i decided that i would walk around the hospital halls and try to keep busy and comfortable. contractions were strong, but not uncomfortable. once in while a contraction was stronger and hurt, but i had a handle on everything.

the nurse checked me before i started walking, and my cervix was high and only 4-5 cm dilated, so we still thought baby would be born later that night. i even told my friend i was bored and to come over to keep me company.

but while my husband and i were walking the hospital halls, things started to change. my contractions got very painful. after 4 times around the halls, i had to stop and wait during contractions. they were very painful. i needed to get back to my room and have some counter-pressure put on my back. i told my husband that i didn’t think i was prepared to deal with contractions this bad if the baby wasn’t going to be born for another 4 hours. so we called the nurse to go ahead and get an epidural.

the anesthesiologist came quick, but i was in a ton of pain. i kept saying that i was going to die LOL. i couldn’t even talk between contractions. i probably should of had the nurse check me before i got the epidural. it was worse trying to stay still to get it administered than the contractions were. i couldn’t sit still enough for it, and the anesthesiologist had to pull it out because it wasn’t put in the right place. i wasn’t still enough. but i swear the baby felt like she was coming out. i tried my hardest to stay still so the anesthesiologist could put the epidural in correctly. my nurse was a dream. she held me tight and whispered to me that i was doing great. i was shaking so hard just trying to stay still. at last they thought the epidural was done correctly.

the anesthesiologist said it would take three contractions for the epidural to kick in….but instead they got more intense, so much so that the nurse said she should check and see what the baby was up to.

turns out, that i was having the baby! i don’t know why i couldn’t figure that out. i just had it in my head that she would be coming around 9pm, not now. the epidural was useless…which ended up being a good thing.

after that, everything was a blur. it all happened so fast. my friend had just arrived…so she came in, the doctor came in  and said the baby was here for sure. they lowered the bed and got me ready to push. the doctor kept telling me to stop making a scrunchy face….whatever that is. all i know is that i was in a ton of pain, and was ready to push the baby out. i think i even told the doctor that he wasn’t funny LOL. which is pretty funny since he is a pretty fun doctor.

then it was time. a few good pushes, and baby girl, Danielle Kathleen Parkin was born at 6:31 pm.

she was screaming, very pink, and weighed 8 lbs. 8 oz. and was 20 inches long.

not the most unique birth story. and nothing dramatic, but nonetheless, at the end of the day, i got to finally hold my precious little girl. awwwwww…the best feeling in the world when you finally get to pull that little soul close to your heart and hold them skin to skin. you want it to last forever and ever.

and daddy finally had his little girl, and the boys finally had a sister. my heart almost exploded with joy. and their smiles say it all.

the next couple days in the hospital were such a joy. usually i’m one to go home as soon as possible. i think i only stayed 22 hours with Vann. but with Dani, i stayed 2 days, which was the best decision ever. this is the first birth where i didn’t get an effective epidural. i was able to walk immediately after birth. recovery was easier because of this. also by staying a bit longer, i got the proper care with better restroom facilities. my nurses were the sweetest nurses ever, and by staying in the hospital, it forced me to heal without trying to do more that i should. us moms are always trying to do more than we should.

here are some pictures from our time in the hospital.

finally, it was time to go home. Dani was our little New Year’s present. the past year has been a complete joy, and has gone by way to fast. faster than all my boys combined. i wish i could get some of those moments….i would mind having some of those memories as doubles.

one year later, we can’t imagine life without her. Happy Birthday Dani Kat!  WE LOVE YOU.

and Happy Birthday Joan…i miss you like crazy, but will always remember you on this special day.

Update on my Curves Fitness Journey

Thank you Curves® International for sponsoring this post. Ready to get #CurvesStronglast month i wrote about how i started working out at Curves® gym for Women. i’d been in a rut due to work, moving and kids….mostly kids. mom life can be tough at times. i started going to Curves® so that i could finally start taking care of myself. it’s been ten months since the baby was born, and i was and still am ready to get my body back in shape once and for all. now that i have been working out for a few weeks, i wanted to pop-in and give you a little update on how things have been going.

i wish i could give you a miraculous story of how i lost 20 pounds and 4 sizes this past month,….but that is not the case. i actually don’t know if i have lost a lot of weight…probably not. but what i can tell you is that i am so much stronger! my balance has also improved and i am happier when i take the time to get a workout in. i feel like these improvements have made it possible to really start my fitness journey. i am ready to get this body started!!!

for me, getting to the gym is the biggest battle. once i am there…all my stress melts away, and i get to focus on myself. i have really enjoyed my time at the Curves®. the 30 minute workouts are perfect…they work great with my busy mom schedule. and if i have a little more time, i can add an extra rotation or two into the routine.

i have been enjoying the machines. like i mentioned in my initial post, Curves® is unlike any gym i’ve been to. the set 30-minute circuit training routine, and hydraulic workout machines make exercising the proper way really easy. you get really good workout doing this set routine, and as you get stronger, you can increase the intensity.

because of this, you can get a great workout at any level of fitness or age. if you are having an off day, you can go slower and the equipment is easier, if you want to have a hard workout, just go a little faster and the resistance increases. i can say i’ve gotten a good sweat every time i have gone….but so far, i have never gotten sore. the machines were designed to do this.

the photo is blurry….because i am working out! AND HAVING FUN.

it’s such a treat that you can get personal attention from fitness experts at no extra charge…anytime you need it. they’re there to help you reach your goals whether in weight-loss, strength training or balance. it really is a boutique gym…everyone is so sweet and nice. they remember your name, ask you if you need help, and give you pointers if needed. you feel like you belong and don’t have to worry about not fitting in.

i am definitely going to continue my fitness journey at Curves@. i have found it to be a great place to clear my mind and strengthen my body. i am going to take my workouts to the next level and add the meal plans that at Curves Complete provides. it’s a complete fitness plan – Fitness, with the 30-minute circuit that combines cardio and strength, meal plans that show you how to eat on any budget, and coaching that will help you keep on track. i gonna keep going and hopefully by this time next year, i will be a different me!

if you are interested in Curves, don’t forget that they are offering free month-long memberships to their gyms. for just $49 per month, you get access to all the equipment, the workouts, the fitness coaches…everything!


{This post was sponsored by Curves International but the content and opinions expressed here are all my own. }

Starting a New Workout Routine at Curves for Women

Thank you Curves® International for sponsoring this post. Ready to get #CurvesStrong

An update on my Curves journey here! 

life has been tough lately. lots of work, the kids, school, extracurriculars and moving homes. there has been little-to-almost no time for any self care. but as we all know…when mom isn’t 100%, the family suffers. so i am needing to make a shift in priorities. that’s one reason i was excited when Curves® contacted me to try out their all-women gym. they are located here in Orange County, as well as all over the country.

well Miss Dani Kat is now almost 10 months old, so i don’t really have any excuses to not get into shape. i am done having kids, i am over-weight, not happy with how i look….and i am very self conscious about it. i want to be strong again, not be over-weight…and most of all get rid of my double chin. i don’t have to be super skinny to be happy, but i do want to be under 200 pounds. i am tall at 5’10”, so i would be happy at 165-175. i would love to fit into to some of my old jeans, and also change my lifestyle to be a good example to my kids. the problem is….i have no will power, and no time. so hopefully, i can resolve that!

i never thought about joining a gym. but i decided to give it a shot. Curves just turned 25 years old this September, so they are offering free month-long memberships to their gyms. i just started this week, and wanted to share my experience so far…and then hopefully in a month, i will have some real results to share with you all!

when i first got to Curves, this is what i saw! (well actually, there were about 12 women working out and having a blast, but since this is my fitness journey, i am not sharing their photos.)

the Curves gym looked A LOT different than any gym i have been to. the workout machines were reminiscent of workout machines…but different. there were no mirrors on the wall, no men, and it was smaller. all the women were circuit training – all moving clockwise around the floor using each piece of equipment for 30 second intervals, with 30 seconds in between. there was also music, and an instructor helping and encouraging everyone. i was interested.

when you first visit a Curves, you must set up an appointment and meet with a fitness coach who will get you started. they sit with you and explain how every works, talk about your exercise habits and your fitness goals.i learned that Curves goal is to deliver studio fitness to women without the premium price. the workouts are only 30 minutes, but you feel the benefits long after. unlike traditional gyms, a Curves membership gives you the tools and support you need to reach your goals and set the stage for a healthier, more active future.

then they measure you for inches, your weight and muscle mass to keep track of where you started.

at Curves, you get a complete fitness plan. it’s called Curves CompleteFitness, with the 30-minute circuit that combines cardio and strength, meal plans that show you how to eat on any budget, and coaching that will help you keep on track.

now it was time to get started at my first workout. the fitness coach took me through the entire routine – from machine to machine showing how to properly use each one. you also get a recovery period between each machine to each take a breather, or run in place, do sit-ups or planks, etc. depending on how you are feeling during the work out. one lap around the floor using each machine takes fifteen minutes, and it is recommended to do the routine twice making it a 30 minute strength training workout.

so far, i am really excited about joining Curves. i was skeptical at first glance, but i really did get a great workout…and it was FUN! i could actually see myself coming at least four days a week. i think anyone who want to get on track with their fitness could manage to get a few of these 30-minutes workouts in every week. and i am very impressed that you can get personal attention from fitness experts at no extra charge…anytime you need it. they are there to help you reach your goals whether in weight-loss, strength training or balance. it feels like a boutique gym…a place you want to be, a place where you belong and don’t have to worry about not fitting in.

i can’t wait to see my progress this month. stay tuned, i will be mack in a month to let you know how everything goes. and if you are interested in Curves, don’t forget that they are offering free month-long memberships to their gyms. for just $49 per month, you get access to all the equipment, the workouts, the fitness coaches…everything!

{This post was sponsored by Curves International but the content and opinions expressed here are all my own. }



Remembering the Baby Milestones

This post is sponsored by Kaiser Permanente Orange County.

i know it seems like after 4 kids i should be an expert on how they develop and grow, but you’d be surprised how many things as a parent you forget with each kid. having Dani almost seven years after Vann is almost like being a first time mom again. at least in the sense that i am forgetting the baby stuff…like at what age she should hit certain milestones. on top of that, so many things have changed since i had my fourteen year old…even since my seven year old. so i was happy to be able to have a one-on-one chat with Kaiser Permanente Orange County pediatrician Julia Castillo, M.D.

Dr. Julia Castillo was able to go over baby’s first year of milestones with me to refresh my memory. she updated me on things that have changed and also what to look for as Dani grows and develops. it was very nice to have this refresher course, and Dr. Castillo was very helpful and knowledgable. she answered even the simplest questions informatively and put my mind at ease with any concerns i had with Dani. she had all the qualities i would look for in a pediatrician.

i’m sure a lot of moms would also like a little refresher course on baby milestones, so i thought i would jot them down here. these are just the major ones, and if you have any specific questions, be sure to ask your own pediatrician. it’s a good idea to write down all questions on your phone and present them at your baby’s well visits. it’s very easy to forget things you want to ask when you are in the moment, so Dr. Castillo reminded me to keep a running list between each visit of any questions you may have.

2 months

at 2 months, baby should make eye contact with you and others, be able to smile, and to turn their head toward sounds. at this age, they should also be getting tummy time every day and lifting their head up for 30–60 seconds during this time.

4 Months

at 4 months, baby should be able to coo…making vowel sounds like ooo and ahh. they can now laugh, reach for objects or toys with their hands, track people and objects well, and keep their head steady. they may be able to roll….at least to one side, and look to sounds they hear.

at 4 months, your baby may be ready to introduce to first foods. you will know they are ready if they have moved past the kick out food reflex. the reflex where the tongue automatically pushed food back out of their mouths. if you give baby food and they push it back out, then wait a few weeks and try again.

it is a good reminder that once baby starts to roll, do not leave them alone on the bed, changing table or couch ever. this is when falls start to occur. 

6 Months

at six months, your baby should be vocal, like to play, talking to sounds, transferring objects from hand to hand, roll back forth from each side, babbling, and sitting up. once baby is mobile, make sure to baby proof your home. this is the time you need to lower the crib mattress, block off any stairs and make sure there are no objects around that baby can choke on.

when it comes to feeding, you can start to introduce foods if you haven’t already done so. the  kick out food reflux should be gone by now. at this age and up to 12 months, there should be no juice given to baby. they should have the same milk intake with food being complimentary.

9 Months

at nine months, baby should have reached all of the six month milestones as well as being able to sit well, grabbing table food, standing to feet…especially in the crib and on the furniture around the house.

12 Months

at 12 months, baby should have reached all of the nine month milestones as well as be able to cruise or crawl around the house. baby should be able to say three words such as mama, dada, one other such as bye bye. they may already be walking, but if not yet, no worries.

18 months

at eighteen months, baby should have met the twelve month milestones as well as being able to say 7 words. they do not have to say the words perfectly as long as they are consistent with each word they use to address a person or thing. They should also be able to point to things, hold a  fork, and follow simple directions.

2 Years

at two years, baby should have met their eighteen month milestones as well as being able to say 20-50 words. they should also be able to help around the house doing simple chores such as picking up their toys.

Dr. Castillo reminded me that these are just generic guidelines for when baby should meet these milestones. baby’s that are born premature may reach them later. also, if baby has not met certain milestones that are recommended, it should be brought up to your pediatrician at your baby’s well-visit. make sure to talk to your own pediatrician about any concerns that you have and also make sure to discuss any vaccines that baby is due for. use your mother’s instinct when you sense a problem. you know your child better than anyone. don’t be afraid to ask your pediatrician even the simplest questions. being a parent is not always easy and it is always a good thing to have a little extra advise to help navigate on our journey of raising kids.

it was refreshing to get to talk to Dr. Castillo to remind myself of all the things babies do. even after four kids, i am still looking for advise. i can tell that Kaiser Permanente Orange County has a great team of doctors that have made me feel comfortable as a parent. the great thing about Kaiser Permanente Orange County, is everything is under one roof. most Kaiser Permanente Orange County locations include pharmacy, lab, X-ray services and more. plus, there are locations throughout Orange County, as far north as Brea and as far south as San Juan Capistrano, including Tustin Ranch, Foothill Ranch and the new Radiation Oncology Center located at the Anaheim Medical Center. wow…this is the kind of service i look for in my healthcare.

if you have missed the posts i have written about them, here they are:

My Trip to the Kaiser Orange County Farmers Market
Tips for Having a Healthy Pregnancy
Our Family’s Visit Thrive Walk at the Orange County Great Park
Great Tips on Mens Health
Tips for Helping Families Stay Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

The Time I Learned Some Great Tips for Mens Health

This post is sponsored by Kaiser Permanente Orange County.

Tips for Mens Healthever since my husband and i found out we were expecting a baby, we’ve been joking around about how old we both were getting, and wondering if we would have the same amount of energy to take care of our new baby girl like we did with our boys. we aren’t in our twenties anymore! and now that our baby girl is finally here, reality has set in that yes, we are older. we really need to take care of ourselves so that we will have our health as we now navigate through taking care of a newborn and beyond.

Tips for Mens Health

i’ve been working with Kaiser Permanente Orange County hospitals in Irvine and Anaheim since last year, and have learned lots of great ways to live a healthy life. i was able to speak to William Woo, M.D., who is board-certified in Family Medicine, and addressed the topic of Men’s Health so that i could share some healthy tips with my hubby. i found him to be very informative and knowledgeable – i learned when it’s the best time for men to get certain health screenings and what things men should do to keep themselves healthy.

unlike women, it is found that men tend to wait longer to get the care they need when they feel ill or sense a problem with their health. many times, men will go to the computer to try to find a cure for their symptoms. they are more apt to turn to energy pills or testosterone supplements to make themselves feel better. this can often be dangerous and not an effective way to cure themselves. just like women, men also benefit from yearly physicals from a physician. here they can find the correct solutions to any symptoms they are feeling.

Tips for Mens Health

Tips For Mens Health

Midlife for men is 40 years old. this is when most men start to see changes in their bodies. some men will feel more tired than usual, see weight gain, have changes in their body functions, have sore joints and or muscles, or just not feel like themselves. this is when it’s time to check in with a doctor to see what or if there is something going on. at this appointment, men should have their weight checked and blood drawn to measure sugars and cholesterol. it is also good to get skin checked for any abnormalities that could lead to skin cancer.

also, Dr. Woo suggested 4 Things that Men Should Do for Their Health

Eat right – avoid fast food and sweets. eat a balanced meal, drink lots of water, and get more fiber into their diet

Exercise – physical exercise is important every day. it doesn’t have to be rigorous, just a 20 minute walk after dinner with the family can be beneficial to their health.

Tips for Mens Health

Sleep – make sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

Avoid Stress or Find Ways to Decompress – stress increases blood pressure which is not good for anyones health. try to avoid stress, or find time for healthy things that blow off steam. Dr. Woo explained that men often have jobs that are stressful or feel pressure to provide for their families which leads to health problems. they often don’t do anything to relieve their stress when they are home. it is important that men take some time to do stress free-time activities outside of work. even if they have a job they love, it’s still important to enjoy some stress free activities. my husband loves to surf, so i often encourage him to get out on the weekends to catch some waves.

Tips for Mens Health

and here’s a fun fact: did you know that married men live longer than men who aren’t married?!!!

When Men Should Get Milestone Health Screenings

since my husband is reaching his mid 40’s, we had some questions about when he should start getting certain health screenings. Dr. Woo shared with us some recommendations of when he should be getting them.

at 40 years old, men should get a physical that screens for cholesterol, blood pressure, weight gain/loss, heart disease and diabetes.

during their 40’s or later, many men start to think about getting a vasectomy. they should know that this is a very quick procedure. it is out patient, low risk, and there is minimal pain involved. if they are interested in getting a vasectomy, then this is a good time to speak to your doctor about this.

at 50 years old, men should not only get a physical that screens for cholesterol, blood pressure, weight gain/loss, heart disease and diabetes, but also colon cancer. the American Cancer Society/U.S. Preventative Taskforce recommends this. unless there is family history of colon cancer, then 45 years old is recommended.

at 55 years old, men should not only get a physical that screens for cholesterol, blood pressure, weight gain/loss, heart disease and diabetes, but also prostate cancer. unless there is family history of prostate cancer, then 45 years old is recommended.

my husband will be following these guidelines, because i want to make sure that he takes good care of himself. the kids and i want him to be around for a long time. i am so glad that my husband and i were able to speak to Dr. Woo and learn some great tips on mens health. i have been pretty impressed with the Kaiser Permanente Orange County doctors and the services that they offer not only their patients, but also the community.

Don’t forget to read about…
My Trip to the Kaiser Orange County Farmers Market
When I Learned About Kaiser Orange County’s Prenatal Programs
Our Family’s Visit Thrive Walk at the Orange County Great Park