Mighty Mommy Monday – Do it for the Kids

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year AND run a half marathon in October! Join us!

 

I’m having a skinny day. You know what I mean? The kind of day where your yoga pants are actually flattering and you have energy and the soreness that has been plaguing you after every run is so minimal you forget that you pounded out 2 miles this morning only needing to stop to walk a few times. That kind of day. It’s the kind of day when I feel like I will never “cheat” on the diet or the exercise plan because I feel so. awesome.

Now, rewind to a few weeks ago when I could barely make it through half a mile and then wasn’t able to walk for two days after. I hated exercise. I was mad about my weight and the apparent inability to lose. I stood in my kitchen whining about how there is absolutely nothing to eat in a gluten free diet. On that day I was *this close* to throwing in the towel and taking the max dose of one of those pills they advertise all the time on tv for making people lose weight.

I don’t like days like that. But the reality is that no matter how great I do on my race times or my weight, I will feel down and defeated. It’s life. What I choose to do with, how I choose to modify my plan or my attitude, that is what determines how my day continues to go. Along the way, there will be struggles and binge eating and crappy nights.

But I’m trying to make this point today that no matter what my attitude is, I still have an audience. No, not you. Not really because you only see what I choose to share. My audience watches the Disney channel and runs up and down the stairs asking for snacks while I debate how many minutes I really want to run for. They see me wigging out in the kitchen because I want to eat something I can’t have. They watch me make decisions and watch my attitude as it ebbs and flows with enthusiasm. So yes, those bad days happen and my yoga pants are not often all that flattering, but there are still eyes watching how I chose to handle it. I read once that the words we speak are the ones that become our children’s inner voice; I want the voice that my children have inside them to be one that acknowledges the struggles and the pain but has a plan the ends with them being their best self no matter how hard it is to get there.

Mighty Mommy Monday – Abs edition

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year AND run a half marathon in October! Join us!

 

I totally took last week off. I didn’t keep up with my running training plan, lift weights or swim. It was spring break, I felt like it was excusable… especially since my race isn’t until October and skipping a few runs this far out won’t be that big of a deal. I went shopping for a dress for Easter and came to the realization that I’m in serious need of summer clothes. And in the same vein, will need new jeans next fall since I’m getting really tired of constantly pulling this pair up every time I move. Even though I slacked off with the cardio, I did keep up the abs. And that’s what we are talking about today!

I was around 30 weeks pregnant with Liam when he flipped from the fetal postion into the pike he would spend the next many, many weeks in. We were working on his nursery and that morning when I got up, my stomach muscles hurt. I felt damaged but didn’t know why the pain in the middle of my stomach was there – extending from the top of my belly to right below my belly button. After he was born, the pouch at the top of my belly never went away. After Sylvi was born, I could hardly even sit up without help because my core was useless. I will never forget the day when I discovered what diastasis recti is and the feeling of horror when no matter how hard I attempted to flex my muscles, my entire hand fit between them with room to spare on either side.

So, now what? To begin, traditional ab exercises will only serve to split your Transverse Abdominals further. In order to heal the abdominal separation, you need to think of your muscles like a zipper that is only connected at the bottom. The goal is to “zip” up, so you’ll begin work with the muscles at the bottom. I’m going to share with you the exercises I did daily for months to pull my muscles back together and still do several times a week to maintain the healing… I enjoy ab workouts and now that my muscles are strong again, I can get carried away and neglect the my transverse abs which I’ve noticed will cause my belly to puff out at the top again.

  • Plank – I love my plank. Full plank, elbow plank or moving from hands to elbow. It works your whole body, but without straining those muscles weakened by the separation. Even if you can only hold a plank for 5 seconds the first time you do one, you’re helping your body!! When your abs start to shake and droop, it’s time to stop your plank. The point is to strengthen the muscles, little by little, not to damage them further, so be gentle with yourself.
  • Bridge pose – I started out using a splint to hold my abs together, but don’t anymore. This video is a wonderful example of both the plank and the bridge pose. 
  • Reverse crunch – tiny little movements that lift your booty off the floor, but work on the deepest abdominal muscles. This is a good example of a reverse crunch, even if you don’t dress that glamorously when you workout 😉
  • Plank with leg lift – Holding plank position, left your left leg and stretch your right arm out in front of you. Alternate legs/arms. 
  • Bicycle –  This video will show you how to move your legs, but instead of crunching up your upper body, kept that flat to the floor, concentrating on scooping your abs together and using them to support your legs. If your stomach begins to pooch out from the effort, call that your set and stop.

When I work my Transverse Abs, I shoot to do this routine 3 times over with a minimum of 10 reps and hold for time on the plank and bridge poses. I also will swap these exercises into my Jillian Michaels dvd workouts so I don’t cause further damage trying to keep up with her.

I read somewhere that Diastasis Recti happens on 30% of pregnancies, but it doesn’t always look the same. I have a workout buddy who also had a significant separation, but her belly looks nothing like mine from the surface. I’d encourage you to check your belly to make sure your abs are not separated prior to beginning an ab routine. What you don’t know can hurt you even if you don’t notice it right away!

How to be in nature without feeling like you’ve gone wild

I have been loading my babies up and heading into the woods, creek bed or hiking trail for the last 4 years. It was awkward at first what with nursing and diapers and colic, but we did it. In the last few weeks of Sylvi’s pregnancy I took Liam to the nature center and we wandered around happy (him) and huge (me). A month or so later, I loaded my newborn safely into her carrier, strapped her to my chest and we headed back for another hike. Of course, that time I was so awkward and anxious about disaster and it arrived: Liam slipped right into the mucky duck pond and had to be hauled out of the cold, slimy water sobbing. Not our best trip.

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Since then, I’ve started to make sure that instead of just dropping everything and heading to the woods on a whim, I’ve got myself prepared. Ha! Now, we can go out on a hike and I don’t worry about all the things that can (and in our case, frequently do) go wrong. In my kitchen closet lives my old high school back pack loaded with our adventure kit. My back pack was purchased in 1996 and has been to college, grad school, India, Canada, Ecology field work, hospital internships, my first day at the lab, and spent an entire summer on the back of Matt’s bike while he cycled to the office. In my mind, there is no replacement for quality product.

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What’s in the bag? Some of the items might make you laugh, but I’m dead serious about it. Believe me when I tell you that fewer things derail a nice afternoon than wet socks and empty bellies.

  • Backpack
  • Field guide to North American Birds – my kids always want to know what they see and I think it’s about time for me to add a guide to plants and rocks.
  • First aid kit – oh yes. Sylvi managed to bite it today while walking down a brick path at Kingwood Center and cut her knee up even though her pants remained intact. Skillz people, skillZZZZ.
  • Spare socks and underwear – I do not kid.
  • Kids’ journals and colored pencils
  • Weather pod
  • Snacks and water
  • Picnic blanket – I keep this one in the car regardless of where we are going, you never know!
  • Binoculars – My uncle gifted us with a really nice pair for Christmas a few years ago, but I’m not up for dealing with two preschoolers bickering over whose turn it is to hold them, so we have the cute ones from Melissa and Doug just in case.

So when we head out, the time is spent answering dozens of questions and jumping in any available mud puddle. Only once have I made the mistake of not bringing my own boots and I will do ALL I can to not ever let that happen again. 

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Spontaneity is not something I’m gifted with, but boy oh boy I do so much better at it when I have a plan. I know it’s completely ironic, but with a plan for where we are going and snacks that are ready to eat. And band aids. With those things out of the way, I get to answer the questions, experience the feeling of soft moss on my fingers and listen to the creek bed while the new 3 year old is happily munching her snack instead of freaking out.

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We spend a lot of time outside playing and experiencing, but when we do our adventure hikes, I want to make sure we are getting every little bit out of it that the kids want. So if that means I have to haul guidebooks because there’s no wi-fi for miles, then so be it. I mean, gosh, isn’t that what *our* childhood was like? The internet is no replacement for the actual feeling of moss on your finger tips. So we go places that are muddy and mossy and wild. And even though it’s planned and organized and less wild, we get every little bit out of the moment we can.

Mathlete material

With all our free time this week, I wanted to tackle some educational themes so I could get a feel for next fall since we’ve decided to homeschool. I know, gasps!! It’s not like we hadn’t talked about it for years… I believe the first time I brought it up was shortly after I had convinced Matt to go for a homebirth and he was still processing the fact that there would be no hospital staff attending to our needs while our child was still new, so nothing really came of it. We entered Liam in preschool for the year and while we have all loved the experience and he’s grown so much, I just didn’t have peace about sending him on to kinder. Nothing about the school or the teachers or any of those factors, I just realized that we’d be missing out on more of his life and we’d never get that time back. We spent quite a bit of prayer and thought on this and decided homeschool is the best option for our family… right now. And I have to interject that once the decision was made and parental high fives given, I started to sleep through the night again. Ever since, I’ve been so excited about homeschooling I can barely contain myself. 🙂 Bonus: Liam keeps asking when we will only do school at home.

Reading, writing, science and history are easy-peasy lemon squeezy for me. I love these topics and it is so simple for me to slip it in every other moment of our day. But math? Oh man. Liam isn’t as excited about numbers as he is letters so we have to work a little harder on that topic.

Counting is simple enough to work into our daily routine, but we are also working to learn how to add on. Blocks and legos are an excellent way to start up the hands-on learning, but I’m also looking into unifx cubes. My mother had a set when I was growing up and we all loved them.

We started out the week with numbers written out squares of paper and Liam had to place the right number of blocks under it. Initially, Sylvi wanted to join in, but holy wow. Competition was the name of the game in the worst way. We worked through 1-10 and then grouped the blocks together by type within the number.

Up next, we tried this blog post that was filled with ideas for using Legos in learning math. Favorite part? Measuring the creations.

Tomorrow, we plan to use this blog post because I, of course, have addition flash cards. Since I don’t have the unifix cubes, we’ll just use legos.

One of the things we do love to do together is graphing and looking for patterns. Blocks, Legos, matchbox cars… you name it and you’ve got options. AND it’s fun!

For the fall, I’m still up in the air on the math workbooks to use. I really am. For one, I grew up using Saxton math. I love the review aspect of the books afforded in each lesson, but I hate how long that makes the lesson. My mother was never one to deviate from the “plan” so that means if I spent over two hours on math completing alllllllll the problems, then so be it. A friend suggested the Life of Fred books, so those are on my radar now. The only thing I’m really sure of are the Kumon books I’ve used so far and love. And that over the years, I’ve learned to embrace the flexibility of life and make adaptations so that my kids and my family get the opportunity to really flourish because their individual needs are acknowledged and nurtured.

I really should be cleaning…

Ooooooohhhhh, spring is coming. Well, according to the calendar it’s already here. According to my bones, it’s just going to be cold and wet forEVAH. I have to finish up my spring cleaning and prepare for a 3rd birthday party, but I’d really rather be curled up watching a movie.

But the birds are back! YAY! Oh my goodness, I missed them all winter! I was hoping that they would continue to check out my well-stocked feeder, but only the deer and an occasional squirrel popped by. This morning, I cleaned out the feeder and refilled it. And then, 5 birds were thrilled to float over. My heart sang a little.

Spring break is next week, so in preparation for our week with a clear schedule, I went to the library and stocked up. Liam has 4 more letters to go in preK, so I grabbed books for those letters and a few on spring themes. I’m still working to build up our own stock of spring books, but the library is there for a reason! And scholastic book fairs 🙂

Today, I also ordered this weather station as a bonus Easter basket gift for the family. Liam has always shown a great deal of interest in the how and why of weather, so we find a lot of weather related books in our library basket, but this spring, I think he’s ready to start learning more. We are working on getting the kitchen boards back up and useful again. Sylvi has expressed an interest in having her own chore magnets, so I’m still working out the details and the layout. Thank goodness for those 3M strips. People like me who like to rearrange frequently, we owe our spouse’s sanity to them.

We are going to kick off spring break with Sylvi’s birthday party on Sunday. Oh my. How did she go from being this teeny little thing to the wild and independent girl she is now? The passage of time just amazes me. She requested I paint her nails this morning, so I think we will have to do that to match her princess dress she’s eagerly waiting to wear on Sunday.

As long as we are talking about growing up, Liam put away his own lunch leftovers today without even mentioning it to me. I just stood there watching him as he walked to the cabinet, grabbed a small container and proceeded to pop his wrap in there and then place it in the fridge. I’m still stunned.

So tell me, what does your family do for spring break? I’m not a big traveler, so we’ll be doing fun things around here… and of course, checking the weather.

Mighty Mommy Monday – Body Wars

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year AND run a half marathon in October! Join us!

 

Sigh. Another round of Mommy Wars cropped up over the weekend. Perhaps you’ve heard about the #NoExcuses campaign? A young mother of 3 small boys who works full time posted an “inspiration” photo of herself in teeny, tiny clothes  and all her fit and gorgeous glory with a few reasons that people use as excuses to not exercise and how they applied to her. Essentially, she pointed out at although she has limited sleep, time and a small herd of energetic boys to wrangle, she still makes the time to work out and care for herself, so what is stopping the rest of the moms?

I will be honest with you right off the bat, I saw the photo the first week that it was posted, checked out Maria Kang’s site and moved on. Whatevs. I’m not offended by people who post about their workouts. I view it as an opportunity to support them… I know it’s hard to get the gumption or time to workout when you have little children. Believe me, I get it. So when I see a mom making a sacrifice to get out there on little sleep and time restraints, I want to run around with banners cheering them on.

I am used to being active. I like it, but my world doesn’t necessarily revolve around it. It took me a while to work myself back into an exercise routine after having kids. Liam will be 5 in July and I’m still working to shed the extra pounds that have been hanging around. It’s frustrating and discouraging, but that’s why I work out with others. That’s WHY I found support and have people to talk to about my goals and my progress. I work out with people who are in better shape than me because they will push me. In a good way. They don’t shame or belittle me, but they keep encouraging me to try harder. And RESPECT me when I say I cannot keep up or feel uncomfortable with the challenge.

When I first started to exercise with this group, I cried a lot. I felt like a gross, fat slob. I didn’t like how I looked or felt. But you know what? The only way to get over that feeling is to put yourself out there and start somewhere. It totally sucks to step out and try. And there are days when I do. not. want. to. exercise. I don’t. But the reason why I keep going back and asking these women to train me, to teach me and to exercise with me is because they are willing to come alongside me and help. When I ask a question, they answer, they don’t judge.

The other night, Dateline kindly exploited the newest Mommy War and did a piece on Maria Kang vs. the Kansas moms who felt judged and bashed by her campaign. I could hardly wait to watch because one of the moms (Dionna Ford) is one of the sweetest, kindest, and most tolerant women you’ll ever meet. I was stoked to see how this turned out! Then, I got nervous. You know how women’s issues get so sensationalized.

I was right. It was a very uncomfortable segment for me. Because you see, on one hand, I WANT to like and support Maria for getting moms up and active. But whoa. Her tone. Her attitude. Her inability to even soften up her resolve to change Sara and Dionna’s minds. And the snarky, look-at-me-I’m-exercising-at-5-am-to-prove-my-point selfie. In the meantime, Sara and Dionna were game to live out Sara’s day on national television. While at Sara’s son’s therapy, Maria suggested that Sara should work out. I would have flat out told her no. My time while I wait for Liam’s therapy is sacred.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m still working to lose weight. I’m working hard. I’m watching my food choices and making a point to exercise. But I’m not whining about my weight. And perhaps that’s something that should be considered in all this. You and I make the choices we do for our own reasons, but we have to pay the price. I don’t have a whole lot of extra time because I choose to work out. Some of my friends have also made the same choices. They are way more ripped than I am. But they can say that they got where they are because they WORKED.

When I look at Kang’s photo campaign, I can see why people are turned off. I’m turned off by the zillion posed selfies. I’d rather read about how many miles you ran. Or that you met your goal in the deadlift. When these campaigns take the vanity turn, that’s when I’m out. The initial intent to inspire is wonderful, but the addition of the accusatory phrase paired with a body baring photo? *gag* Mean girls anyone?

The Dateline segment did not make me want to go exercise. It annoyed me. I didn’t like how things were clearly edited. I did not like how they zoomed in on Sara standing on the sidelines with a sad face holding her baby. Not once was it mentioned that her child was screaming and needed comfort. How many times have I stepped away from a workout to comfort a child? Or take them to the potty? (BTW, I had to do it this morning.)

You know what would have made me want to exercise? The mothers in the Kansas city group making eye contact with their little ones while they planked. Dionna’s sweet baby girl mimicking her mother. That. I don’t need someone demanding to know why I’m a failure. What I need is someone to look me in the eye and tell me how I CAN make time for myself and run or stretch or lift or whatever. I need someone to show me the correct way to do lunges and squats so I don’t ruin my knees.

After reading this back to myself I wonder if I’m projecting when I call it “vanity”. If I am, it’s my own issue. It’s one I know I need to work on, but at the time same time, if you think some one isn’t in good shape because they’re still fluffy around the middle, that would be your issue. Regardless of how you feel about exercising or Maria Kang or the Dateline episode, self care is very important. I have a friend whose self care is running lots and lots of miles. Another friend cross-stitches. Another friend bakes. Take care of yourself. Think about your health and do what you can to protect it. Our methods may be different but the point is that we all only get one body so we need to choose the method that is best for ourselves and our families. That’s not an excuse, it’s a priority.

 

 

Lately

Happy Friday. I’ve got a cake in the oven. I’m nervous about it as my last foray into gluten free baking had abysmal results. Nonetheless, Sylvi’s birthday party is in a little over a week and I really need a cake recipe. I figure if I can have a chocolate cake, then I can make my favorite marshmallow frosting. But, of course, something needs to be pink on the cake. Sprinkles?

Liam is still in preschool… it’s letter V week and I am amazed how quickly the year has flown by. His writing skills have improved exponentially. He shows signs of reading readiness and has plenty of enthusiasm. His math skills aren’t top notch. As a STEM girl, it worries me. Stay tuned. We’re going to be working the math skills in our living room over Spring Break.

Sylvi is in full-fledged princess mode. By this I totally mean that she wears her princess costumes all. the. time. We went hiking and she wore it. She has forgone actual shoes for a pair of Snow White princess shoes that are about 3 sizes too big. And by the way, if it isn’t “sparkly” she’s not wearing it.

She asked for a bicycle and a princess dress for her third birthday. Cinderella bicycle acquired. Prior to her gasping in Target, I had no idea such a thing existed. Princess dress in the works. I bought this pattern anthology and am using the 10th pattern with sparkly pink satin. Matt and I had such a laugh last night as I sat in a sea of tulle. 10 layers of it 🙂

And since I always seem to mention the weather in my posts this year, it’s raining. Which is exciting because I see buds on my lilac bushes!!! And the Weeping Cherry! And the trees! I celebrate the seasons for their individual awesomeness, but I’m finally at the point where I’m ready to celebrate spring. I hung the bird house and windchimes again. Oooh! And I opened the windows again.

The cake is out of the oven. And it’s perfect. Perhaps gluten free won’t be so bad after all…