Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Wonderful Time of the Year

Instead of snow, we have been having warm, sunny days, but that makes this time of year all the better to me. Have I mentioned I love warmth? I do hope for some snow this year for Hunter's sake, and I trust we will have at least a little. The daylight hours are getting longer starting today, and even though we have not partaken in much outdoor activity this afternoon, I appreciate the sun streaming into my house and brightening around the twinkling Christmas tree and mantel lights. 

This time of year with little ones is so much fun, dutifully dressing them in red and taking them to see Santa. We happened upon him one afternoon after visiting Heifer and their animals downtown, so we of course popped in to get a picture. There was no way Hunter was sitting on some strange heavily bearded man's lap, so I did. He told me to. He was older than Christmas, and he kept asking Hunter questions that went completely unacknowledged, but that beard that Josie tried to grab was 100% real.

Getting a picture for our Christmas card was another event that went really really well. Hunter did agreeably help me test out the lighting, and I caught some great faces in the process.

And then somewhere along the way we had a meltdown ("we" being an accurate pronoun here). But those sweet faces! I love all the pictures.
Cookie baking has taken place more than once, since we are all sugar-addicted these days. There may even be a roll of dough sitting in the fridge now. I used to make the dough myself, and then I just realized that no, I'm not going to that trouble anymore when pillsbury does such an excellent, cheap, and delicious job of it.


This Josie baby would love more than anything to get her hands on some of that dough, or any food, or any object set in front of her, really. She does a lightening speed quick swipe these days, with those great reflexes and high motivation. I'm surprised more things aren't eaten and broken in our house, especially when she rides facing forward in the Ergo. She also loves to get those sticky little hands into her big brother's hair, all tangled and intertwined. He doesn't mind too much, and can actually act very sweet and loving to her in between swinging her too fast in the jumper seat, spinning her in the staycation exersaucer, kissing licking her fat cheeks, and tickling her just a touch too hard. It really is hard to resist those cheeks, so I don't blame him.

Don't be fooled. He's licking her.

Who wouldn't adore this little guy back? He's a feisty little thing, or make that, feisty, big, strong, quickly growing thing, addicted to the latest: The Axel Show. I should have him do pushups while watching or something. But he needs his chill time too.


And this look on Josie's face, just for Hunter. That shows the adoration right there. Her very favorite person!

 Merry Christmas and Happy 2016!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Since October

I'm terrible at keeping up. Never knowing what day of the week it is anymore, I surely cannot tell you the date. The weeks are flying by with Jeremy at his new clinic, working 5 days a week instead of having Wednesdays off. But we are so thankful for this opportunity. The office is literally just over a mile away; I used to run right by it. 

I used to run right by it. I haven't run in over a month now, and the pain still comes and goes in my hip. The trainer is where the workouts are happening, and it is the exact same thing each day: 45 minutes when Daddy is home from work. The weekends are when the real action happens and I get to go outside to ride or get in the pool. I can still swim.

To catch up from October, I have dropped a bunch of pictures here; first there is Halloween, since the cutest pumpkin and "Bruder Man" went trick-or-treating with us. When we asked Hunter what he wanted to be for Halloween, it was a quick decision. If you don't have any Bruder trucks, you might not know that the Bruder Man drives all these trucks, and that is code for contruction worker. This is the first year that trick-or-treating has been an attractive option to the smallish one, so we set out before pitch dark with his tool box in hand for collecting the goods. Hunter silently went about holding his toolbox toward the neighbors after they answered the door, as I was behind him saying "trick or treat!" and "happy Halloween!" A couple of times he just stood there still holding the box after getting his loot, and they gave him more! What a revelation! Mommy ate a bit too much of his candy, but I just cannot resist while nursing all the time. I'm so hungry!

Josie loooooved the whole Halloween event. She has become our little family extrovert. The rest of us will just let her do all the talking in the future. She wants to go places and do things and meet people. And after all the excitement, she became the tiredest little pumpkin. 

And then November happened. Everyone is so excited about fall and cool weather and I'm not sure what else, but I'm over here thankful to have unseasonably warm weather so we can still play outside with short sleeves on. Listen all you fall lovers, you are not allowed to complain about rain and cloudy skies because that defines fall! Around here at least. Thankfully, we are prepared for winter, because Hunter keeps asking when it will snow, I don't do much outdoor exercise these days, and Josie is still at the age where she can't pull a hat off. 

Though she may be complaining to me about it here. Hunter and I went around calling her our baby polar bear while she wore this.

And then I get this look. The eyebrows! I get the eyebrows a lot. I'm sure she won't outgrow this until well after her teenage years. 

Or selfies. She loves selfies and trying to eat that delicious baby in there. Actually she is fascinated with my phone from all angles, and I can usually get her to smile for the camera. This must be a girl thing.


Our garden is actually still growing, another benefit of the warmer weather, and the cherry tomato crop is really bountiful. Only one of us actually gets many of them to eat, straight off the vine. And we finally got some okra out of nowhere. With the beautiful fall foliage in the background, we go every day to pick

And then our chef makes something in the kitchen. His real-life cooking skills are really quite good, and he is a very eager helper. Now if I could just leave him alone to fix supper while I nap or something. 


We spend a lot of days out on the trampoline, which we have found Josie LOVES. Pretty much everything that Hunter would have hated as a baby gets this one giddy. It is hilarious when the big brother comes bounding up to us, jumping so high and barely missing a tackle. She loves the activities of the day so much that napping has become more and more difficult. Life is just too fun to sleep through. Which, now that I think about it, must've been Hunter's motto for his first 3 years. Maybe they aren't so different.

The trampoline may be affecting my bad hip. With the flips I'm constantly doing chasing the little guy for tag or seeing who can jump highest or double bouncing him, I have felt a fatigue in the one hip later, which tells me I'm doing good for it! Right?

We are doing our best to enjoy the nice days, as the preschooler counts down the days until snow comes. Out at the river on a nice weekend, Josie went strollering with Daddy while Hunter and I skipped rocks off the dock and rode scooters, his new favorite thing. This serene picture is quite a contrast to the events of the next few minutes which involved one of them slipping off into the one foot of cold water and mud lying just below the dock. It was really quite a scene for the family taking portraits behind us. We got him laughing about it pretty quickly afterward. 

 And lest you think Hunter's only duties involve gardening and cooking, I'll show you how my entertainer keeps my baby happy. Nobody comes close to matching the hilarity of Hunter's antics. That face of adoration!

And that is our highlight reel. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Running Pause

It has finally come to this. I have stopped running after a few weeks of mega-mileage, defined as one run a week, around 3-4 miles. I thought this would be a good time to stop, since it's fall, the season of happy running, cooler temperatures, uncomfortable cycling, and eating of rich decadent foods. I had just started feeling fitter, like my more normal self after birthing this baby; my abs had returned to a non-irritated state, some of the puffiness was diminishing, and I could stay aerobic during my moderate trainer rides. Instead of continuing this trend, I think I'll hibernate and eat roasted marshmallows and s'mores in the increasing darkness that will soon be winter. 

It's that or go in for a hip scope, because that's something to do when your usual day involves lots of jumping on a trampoline while having a baby wrapped onto you. (She loves it, actually.) This running pause is just an experiment, along with the countless clamshells and leg lifts I do between foam rolling sets and crunches. Surely it's just a muscle imbalance or lack of the elusive "core strength" that causes my hip pain. Maybe I don't drink enough beet or tart cherry juices these days. 

I've changed my shoes, my terrain, frequency, speed, cadence, bike position, breakfast, everything. I roll, stretch, don't stretch, strengthen, rest, mobilize, immobilize. Can someone please come out with a miracle cure-all soon? I mean, it's 2015 already. 

When Jeremy asked if I missed running I realized I don't really, because it hurts. So don't feel too sorry for me, since I'd rather be on my trainer re-watching old drama TV shows in the perfect temperature and humidity wearing just my shorts and a sports bra while having an audience of kittens and being able to browse Pinterest for wall paint colors and under-the-stairs-projects for my poor unsuspecting husband. And shop online. And lastly, do a workout if I remember to. Nobody wants chapped cheeks from running in the cold dark windiness of early winter anyway, right?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Baking. Because I'm Hungry

Here's something new for the blog: a recipe. Everyone always assumes I can't/won't/don't cook or know how to, but I've never figured out what makes them think that. Anyway. I made some muffins several years ago, mostly to give away. They were pretty healthy, so I wasn't expecting much, but they turned out fantastically delicious. I then lost the recipe, so I searched the internet, to no avail. And then, it suddenly popped up, written on the back of a piece of mail, in a stack of papers hidden away with some recipe books. Not wanting to lose it again, I took a picture and decided to share it. Do you ever find a good looking recipe on Pinterest or similar, then have to scroll through endless pages of terrible babble to get to the actual recipe? I'll spare you a bit of scrolling. The short, scritchy version:

Also, I will actually type it out for you. I am a minimalist when it comes to using dishes, and apparently writing recipe details, but you might add the wet ingredients, then the dry ones separately, or something. The 15 minutes of cooking is for the mini-sized muffins.

For now I will take credit for these, at least until I find the real creator and give them credit. How about this for a name:

Chocolate zucchini sweet potato muffins

2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oat bran
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4-1/2 cup sugar (I use less of this, more chocolate chips)
1 egg
1 cup yogurt (I use greek, or sour cream when I'm short on yogurt. Ask my husband, they taste the same.)
2 Tbsp canola oil (or other oil-- coconut would be good!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup cooked mashed sweet potato (I've subbed canned pumpkin)
1 medium zucchini, grated (I've used yellow squash of course)
4 oz. (or 8oz.) chocolate chips

Cook mini muffins in a greased pan at 350F for about 15 minutes. Get your veggies and chocolate together!

A few other modifications I made are the addition of a tablespoon of flax meal (mixed with 3 tbsp water to soak 5 mins) plus a sprinkling of brewer's yeast to aid in lactation, should you be interested in that kind of thing.

Bonus recipe! for reading this far. I've modified it just a bit from this recipe,  and it is vegan, so be warned that if you pin anything with "vegan" in its title just one time you will forever be given suggestions of vegan meals. Not that I'm complaining. 

I happened to have all the ingredients for these in my kitchen except for the almond meal in the original recipe, because who doesn't have chia seeds and flax meal in the pantry? I just subbed more flour for the almond meal.

Chocolate banana oatmeal breakfast cookies

1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I use sweetened)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp flax meal
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3 mashed bananas
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract 

Bake at 350F for about 18-20 mins. Hunter's favorite part is eating as much raw dough as he wants.

This sweet 4 month old has really been eating lately, which has made my hunger insatiable. I'm sure we will be whipping up one of these recipes again tomorrow.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ethelyn Style Adventures

My family and I have had a really tough week and a half. We lost the greatest person of all time, Ethelyn, my great aunt. Although she had a long 94 and a half years, we could've spent another 94 and a half with her and it still wouldn't have been enough. She's the person I would tell extraordinary stories about to others  and they always say, "I have a grandmother/aunt/cousin-once-removed just like that!" No you don't. There is just nobody like her, I promise. 

We decided to celebrate her best, we would have adventures at her house, around her town, and on her farm, just like she would've and has taken us on many times. 

I can't put into words much else, still, but I can show pictures, and I can link to a post I wrote about her years ago, here, for her birthday. You also need to read Jenny's letter she sent to Ethelyn a few years ago that really tells of our adventures.

At her house, we used to climb this fig tree (and overeat figs), swing for hours in the swing, dig and plant, and climb trees. 

She taught us a hide and seek type game, called Arrow, which lead us around town and running through alleys, all the way to parks and playgrounds. 

We spent hours in the farm, hiking and fishing and getting stuck in the mud driving her car. 


We made up our own games, which on this day turned out to be a game of tag on a huge cluster of hay rolls. Everyone got on, except Mom, Dad, Jeremy, and Josie. And I won, probably. 



I read somewhere that Heaven is just the next big adventure, so I know Ethelyn is off having her greatest adventure yet. We will keep adventuring here on earth for her for now. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The single triathlon race report

Half my life ago, I was 19. And that summer, I finally got up the courage to compete in, er... complete my very first triathlon: Mightymite. Every summer since then has included at least a few races, and I wasn't about to break that streak this year just because I was pregnant half of the summer.

The perfect race to help me extend the streak was a sprint in nearby Conway, which happened to be the last race I did last summer. It would be a good comparison. Last year I had my hip pain, though it wasn't as bad, I had been swimming more than once a month, and I had actually been on my bike with other people, doing a few hills and intervals occasionally. This is not to say I was in good shape; I feel that state has eluded me for a good 6 or 7 years now. 

The past year I have been relatively consistent in not swimming, but I did ride my trainer through the very end of pregnancy (can't get much closer than 3.5 hours), and running has been up and down, depending on the finicky joint. I have been somewhat reliably lifting weights (which my quad size is quick to advertise) for several months. This triathlon would be an interesting experiment.

When Hunter was the same age-- 12 weeks-- I did a triathlon up on the mountain in Ruidoso, and he and Jeremy traveled the hour up there with me, since the baby wasn't going to take any substitute for fresh squeezed mama milk. This time I made the half hour trip alone, leaving at least one of them sleeping, after I had fed Josie and pumped another cup for her second breakfast. She takes a bottle!

Arriving in the pitch blackness of the early fall morning, I had a harder time finding things like a parking spot and my gear, but an easier time finding a spot to pee right in front of my car by a tree. Score one for darkness. I estimated I would have plenty of time to set up and get in some good long warming up, but instead I chatted the time away after running to my car to get my wetsuit, which was very surprisingly legal. That was a super exciting development for my super undertrained swimming muscles. 

Feeling like such a newbie, having not raced in a year, I was asking people in various lines what they were standing there for, to make sure I was in the right place, and I was getting more information than I actually needed from real first-timers about things such as how I needed to have bar end plugs and my helmet checked. Their sweet consideration was much appreciated, and I just hope I'm as accommodating to beginners when they need help.

I jogged back and forth across the starting area with Greg and then handed off my extra shoes and engagement ring to Chenin. Thank goodness she was there to spare me some worry! Lining up with the other sprinting women, I wondered how only a handful of us had remembered or been optimistic enough to bring a wetsuit. And I always bring a wetsuit when the temperature has dropped below 80F in the past month. It proved to be the key to a calm swim with a complete lack of panicking on my part. Did it matter that I took almost 2 minutes in transition to get it off over my chip? Not to me. But I made a note to put my chip under my wetsuit next time. Newbie.

Onto the bike, I didn't have any data to guide my effort, since my power tap is on my training wheel, obviously, and I use my fancy Zipps for racing. They're probably the only nice piece of equipment I race with these days, except for Jeremy's aero helmet that spares me from the weird cone-head look. I was passing men and women all over the place on the bike, and I knew some were doing the Olympic distance, which had started 20 or so minutes before us sprinters. Others, like usual, are just half-way decent swimmers unlike my neoprene-clad-yet-sinking-flailing self. Still, it was motivating to be passing and not passed. I was  hoping to not be embarrassingly slow compared to last year, and based on some quick looks at my speed, it seemed to be going well.

Heading back into transition I was prepared for the dismount part, which I admit I had to practice a few days before to make sure the flying part of it didn't send me flying straight into the pavement. The part I didn't practice was how to hit the right button on this new garmin to stop timing the bike and start timing transition. I fumbled around and heard a beep, not realizing until I was exiting T2 that the wrong button was pushed. Ah well. 

Chenin alerted me to the fact that I had two girls ahead of me and one right behind me, which motivated me to run like I was being chased (by something very slow, but alas). The little off road section at the beginning was making my pavement running legs a bit wobbly, and my first mile proved to be my slowest. I saw Greg a few minutes before the turnaround and told him I was coming for him. Then the two girls I was chasing appeared one at a time. I knew the first one was way out of reach, but second place wasn't much ahead. 

I alternated my thoughts on the way back between being determined I could catch second place and giving up on her. I could see her ahead and it seemed she was getting closer one minute, then the next I felt like I was making up no time on her. She was running scared, looking back as she turned corners. But I just couldn't cover the 20 seconds that she beat me by before the end. That's one advantage to frequent racing: you learn how to hurt just that much more when you have someone to catch. It's a skill that I've forgotten. Or maybe I was just happy enough to be out there. 

My run split ended up being 33 seconds slower than last year for a total time that was 31 seconds slower for the same 3rd overall female placing. Seems my wetsuit+ T1 and bike splits evened out. Hey, not bad! Maybe there is something to this "having a baby increases your VO2max" thing. Or maybe it was just a sprint, and how much worse could it really be? Either way, I'll happily hang my plastic framed award, er...printed certificate? right over the baby bed as a reminder of my accomplishment. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The state of the household: August edition

It's the last week of August! I know summer is over for school kids everywhere, but not here at our house. Since we don't do "school" yet, September just means maybe some cooler weather and everybody getting excited about pumpkin stuff and boots. Except not me, since I only like pumpkin if you overwhelm it with chocolate, and hot sandal weather is still my favorite. Maybe the chiggers will die down though? We still have a lot more outdoor activities to partake in.

But! There's this:

This is Hunter enjoying his first television obsession: Paw Patrol. At least he actually learns things that I would otherwise not have had the opportunity to mention yet, such as, "walruses can hold their breath a long time, but not forever." And "bats are nocturnal." 

It does become hard to say no to one episode after another when I can actually take care of the baby while it is on. Yes, sometimes it is hard to care for both little ones requesting my attention at the same time, which is 95% of my day. The husband, on the other hand, seems to have it down. 

Except for that time he seemed to calm them so quickly that I commented on how well he had things under control. "One is staring at the fan and the other is standing six inches from the television. Yeah I'm father of the year." That doesn't happen often, and Daddy is still the champion swaddler, baby sleep inducer, funny guy, rough houser, dish washer, and baby burper. 

This smirk. Amusing, Daddy. 

Daddy also has been creating. He hammered out this teepee for Hunter in 15 minutes flat. The kittens immediately claimed it as their own, as shown by the oversized white paws peeking out. 

The trampoline set-up took a bit longer, but that's what the nights after bedtime are for, while the rest of us sleep. Next up he is building us a fire pit just in time for the marshmallow and corn roasting season. "Maybe we should go to a corn roast!" said Hunter one day after a particular paw patrol episode. Just wait, we will have a corn maze in our backyard at some point, I'm sure. 

While one parent has it all together, yours truly spends the day covered in some present from Josie, usually a combination of spit up and teetee. But she tends to be clothed in similar fluids, since you just can't keep changing a baby's outfit every 30 minutes all day. I have found that if the big brother is being too rough or overwhelming her, all I have to do is say the word spit-up and away he flees. Works like a charm. 

Spit-up-covered, baggy-eyed, crazy-haired, and calloused-kneed is the state I'm in lately. The last descriptor is the relatively permanent state of my knees since having a mobile child. I appreciated Megan explaining that she was told they are "good mom knees," since it is caused by the constant kneeling, crawling, and scraping across the floors while playing on it with kids. One of my ankles has developed a nice callous as well from being criss-cross-applesauce so much. 

Besides looking awesome all day, I also feel squishy and blobby and heavy most of the time. Part of that could be because I actually am pretty heavy while wearing a chunky baby all day, and also the extra few pounds that I need hanging around for spare milk-making calories. 

My stomach is still a bit mushy and my bike wattage is atrocious, and I'm forever glad I don't have to stand next to or race my past, much younger self. But that self had no precious cheering section, and I wouldn't trade that for 100 more watts and a six pack. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Different sorts of exercise

First, a baby picture. Those pouty lips!! Too bad you can't get the full view of the Daddy-wrapped straight jacket she's wearing. Puts her right to sleep. If you need swaddling tips, he's your guy.

And now for some thoughts on postpartum exercise, mine in particular. In some cases, average would be an improvement upon things, like my current state of fitness. Since "fitness" can technically be described in terms of cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, muscular strength, flexibility, and body composition, I might not be failing in all areas.

Side note: when are they going to just go ahead and take flexibility out of the equation? We have learned that it's really not always the best for fitness and especially performance, and it reminds me of a yoga teacher who once said, "If you have healthy hamstrings, you have a healthy body." After that gem, I don't think I ever went back to her class.

If you added the descriptor, "painless," to those fitness components, that's where I run into trouble. It's the hip again! Somehow pregnancy temporarily improved the ability of my hip to withstand running, although my pelvic bones did not go along agreeably all the time. But immediately postpartum, the right one revolted again. There's a sharp pain sometimes, a dull ache others, and an overall fatigue that lingers. And oh my sacroiliac joint. It is in a constant state of disstress.

This is getting troubling. I do enjoy running, and I have a great affinity for triathlons. But instead of jumping right back into running, like a (former? not yet...) triathlete might expect, it has been a slower progression. So far I can handle a measly four miles at a time. Thanks to Damie and the excellent book I borrowed from her, Jay Dicharry's Anatomy for Runners, I have started incorporating a lot of different strength training into my weeks. And there is a small possibility (knock on wood) that it is working. While I do love me a good back cracking, I haven't been back to the chiropractor since before Josie's birth, since I have known all along that it isn't getting to the root of the problem. That doesn't seem to be a chiropractor's MO anyway. I am taking things into my own hands for now.

Since running was going so poorly, I decided last week that my three mile run should be hill repeats, because why not? It actually didn't seem to hurt my hip worse than daily life. And the hours that I have been devoting to foam rolling (not literally, who has that kind of time?) seem to make the biggest difference.

I can't delay getting back into all of the triathlon stuff, since this is my 20th season of triathlon-ing, and I need to at least do one race. The closest one that isn't this weekend is mid-September, so that's on the "training plan," said with sarcasm. It won't be fast or pretty, but hopefully everyone else will do the Olympic distance while I do the sprint race.

Since swimming is my weakest sport, we have hit the pool pretty frequently lately. Just kidding, I do this at the pool mostly, but without the smirk. Nursing is always involved, and what could make it easier than a bikini top?

And speaking of funny faces, this is what we get when we ask Hunter to smile for a camera. He won't smile, but he will agree to a "funny face." Possibly in response to whatever the neighbor in the background was doing. ?? But we couldn't resist capturing him in his jammer/life jacket combo.

Has it really been 6 weeks since Josie was born? She is wonderful, of course. The real lifesaver in this house is the Moby wrap. When she just can't sleep alone, or Hunter needs me to play (which is always) and be mobile (that too), I just wrap her up to sleep on me and nurse when she needs to. The ring sling is good for a quick and less complicated carry, and the Ergo, with the infant insert is just a bit bulky and hot right now. I do get some strength training hauling her around, except that she was only 11.5 pounds when we last weighed her. Kind of not significant. But the sheer number of times I squat while carrying her each day adds up to something. I'm a little surprised I get any pictures of her in her little bed, since I do hold her so much (partly... er, mostly just because I want to).

Mommy, I just. can't. even.