Saturday, February 27, 2016

Running and Fitness with a Newborn
(Click here for other posts in this series.)

One question I've been asked several times since Macie's birth is, "When can you start running again?"

My answer is a little conflicted.  

A little backstory:  I ran throughout my pregnancy.  I ran during the early weeks of morning sickness and right up until the day my water broke.  It boosted my energy level and stabilized my weight gain.  As I neared the end of the pregnancy, I tried to imagine how running would fit into my life with a newborn, suspecting the logistics would be tough.

For the first four or five weeks of Macie's life, I savored the break.  Even though I enjoy running, I knew my body needed rest and recuperation.  By six weeks, the desire to run returned, but I also started to face reality.  I may feel mentally ready to run, but I'm not sure my body is ready for it.  Despite staying fit during pregnancy, my back and lower abdomen are weak and achy postpartum.  My core needs strengthening before running will be comfortable or even advisable.

On top of that, my ideal time to run is early in the morning...but that's when Macie wakes to nurse.  She almost always goes back to sleep until eight or nine, but once I miss that early morning window, I need to use my time to manage breakfast, start school with the kids, or wash my face and hair!  I get a little sad when I realize a regular running routine is probably months away.  Aside from an occasional weekend run this spring, running can't be a priority for me in this season. 

I'm choosing to adopt the idea that a little exercise is better than no exercise at all.  Starting this coming week, I'm purposing to exercise in the house for 20 minutes at a time on 3 different days. I'm hoping that popping in a postpartum DVD (versus gearing up for the outdoors) will be easier to slip into my schedule.  I can exercise while Macie is right beside me and I can break it into smaller sessions, too, if she is fussy. 

Movement and health are my motivators.  Weight loss is not my goal and since breastfeeding burns 300-500 per day, I'm also focusing on high quality nutrition.  I can always find time to eat!  

Any tips for me?  
How can I strengthen my core muscles?  
Any experience with exercising or running postpartum?  
What are some nutrient dense snacks I can keep on hand?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Weekend Thoughts on Food and Meal Planning
(Click here for other posts in this series.)

I'm shifting into a new way of menu planning.  Until recently, I planned ahead in two-week blocks, plugging meals onto my calendar according to what was on the schedule.  Was I going to be gone all afternoon?  That day needed a quick meal or a slow cooker meal.  Did I anticipate a quiet day at home?  Maybe I could plan to make bread to go with dinner.  A simple check of the calendar each morning told me whether I needed to take ground beef or chicken out of the freezer.

Since Macie's birth, even that simple system seems too complicated.  I can't predict my days far in advance so I'm settling on a meal list.  I still grocery shop every two weeks so before I leave for the store, I compile a a list of ten or twelve meals and buy the ingredients for those meals.  A few days ahead, I might plot out a plan, or I may not choose what to cook until the morning of.  Either way, I know something will work for my day and I know I have all the ingredients. 

I like to cook mostly from scratch, but some days "convenience" foods are saving my life.  I prefer to have variety in our menu, but eating a few family favorites is better than not eating at all.  I'm settling on the idea that perfect isn't attainable but good enough is alright

Here a few links I've read or used lately:

Overnight Steel Cut Oats  I'm a nursing mom and my appetite is crazy in the morning.  This method ensures a hearty, filling, and healthy breakfast with very little work.  (My favorite toppings are sliced bananas or a spoonful of natural peanut butter with a sprinkling of dark chocolate chips for sweetener.)

Seven Ways to Use Frozen Meatballs  I love the idea of pizza grilled cheese-- especially if I can incorporate veggies and still enjoy the melty goodness of warm cheese. 

57 Things You Can Do To Be A Better Cook Right Now From mixing bowls to toasting spices to softening butter to setting off the smoke alarm (??!), this list has ideas to get your brain whirring and your mouth watering.

Granola Energy Balls   I've shared this link multiple times in the past.  These were my go-to snack before a morning run while I was pregnant.  Right now I'm finding these handy to keep on hand for when I'm nursing in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

4 Things We're Looking Forward To

1) Spring! While part of me wants to hold on to winter because it means Brian is still home from work and we have lots of family time, the rest of me wants spring to hurry up.  I'm looking forward to warmer days when we can go out without bundling up in coats (and gloves and hats)!  I am looking forward to taking the baby outside without wrapping her in blankets and having her gasp in the wind.   We have been blessed with good health this winter, but the kids are passing around a cold this week and Alaine had a fever on Saturday and Sunday, so I'm ready for spring's fresh air.

2) A vehicle we can all ride in together! The day after I wrote this post, we bought an 8-passenger vehicle.  We are so excited, but until we get it through state inspection and finish cleaning it (the former owner was a smoker), we are still doing the 2-car thing.  

3) The yard drying out!  We live on low land so the ground stays saturated after a rain.  We've had so much rain and other precipitation this winter that the kids haven't been able to play in the yard for weeks.  Good thing our back deck is large enough to sort-of large enough to run around on.  Considering  6 inches of snow fell yesterday then switched to rain which melted all the snow...and it is supposed to continued all day today...we might be waiting a long time for dry ground!  

4) Gym class starting this week!  The P.E. class my kids take from one of the local colleges has been on break since early December, but it resumes this week!  The kids can't wait to see some of their friends regularly again.  Notice, the exercise part of class is not my kids' priority. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Books of 2015 (and a look ahead at the coming year of reading)

Isn't it a little late to be doing one of these types of posts?  It's February now and 2015 is over a month behind us.  I'm going to use the excuse that January was a little crazy at our house, plus I can argue that by February, the novelty of winter has worn off and we all need  good books to perk up those stir-crazy stuck-in-the-house days.

I'm going to start with a few of the reading highlights (and lowlights) from 2015 and then move onto a few thoughts about my reading plans for 2016.

The Trends
In 2015, I read 57 books, 30 of which were non-fiction.  I love a good memoir.   This year I gravitated toward food memoirs like Bread and Wineby Shauna Nequist, A Homemade Lifeby Molly Wizenberg,  Life From Scratchby Sasha Martin and a few others.

I also read medical memoirs like The Real Doctor Will See You Shortlyby Matt McCarthy, The Nursesby Alexandra Robbins, and Five Days at Memorialby Sheri Fink.

I also read The Night Shift (review here) for Sisters Book Challenge.  Unfortunately Kati and I only read 3-4 books each, then got busy (or in my case, got morning sickness) and dropped the challenge.

Most Difficult
I read Sense and Sensibility in March and expected it to be tough, but it didn't hold a candle to The Last of the Mohicansby James Fennimore Cooper.  I loved the story and plot-line when I read it in high school, but when I reread it in November, I struggled through the entire book!

Most Anticipated

I've been waiting for a new book by Kate Mortonfor over a year!  Originally, The Lake Housewas scheduled for release in April, then it was moved to October.  More waiting. My library hold finally came ready in November.  I've been thoroughly engaged by every one of Kate Morton's previous titles so I was not intimidated by the 500+ pages, and I devoured the book.  I had heard that it was her best yet, but The Secret Keeperstill holds that distinction for me.

Most Uncharacteristic

I am not one to jump on trends and truthfully, this series of books didn't appeal to me anyway, but in May, I decided to see what all the fuss was about.  I read The Hunger Games Trilogyby Suzanne Collins when I was in the throes of morning sickness so it probably wasn't the best time to form an opinion.  (Too much reading made me nauseous, plus being sick made me grumpy and weepy.) The books were well-written and the story was interesting, but I am glad it was only a 3-book series.  I also watched the first movie but was not intrigued enough the finish the rest.

Best Juvenile or YA

I read The War that Saved My Lifeby Kimberly Brubaker Bradley in August.  It follows the story of a young girl and her brother who go to live in the country to escape the Blitz during World War II.  They find themselves assigned to live with a woman who doesn't want them, but that very woman ends up teaching them valuable lessons about love, perseverance, and responsibility.  I loved this book!

What's All the Hype?
I said I don't care for trends, but I did read two books this year that had a buzz surrounding them.  In May, I read  All the Light We Cannot Seeby Anthony Doerr.  I had only heard good about this book, but I wasn't impressed.  I kept waiting for it to get better, but it didn't.  Perhaps it was a case of my expectations being too high.

Then I read Go Set a Watchmanby Harper Lee in August.  Everyone is right.  It is no To Kill a Mockingbird, but I didn't hate the story.  I went into the book knowing the characters were going to be written from a different perspective, but I found it interesting to get a glimpse into Harper Lee's original ideas.

Since the beginning of the year, and especially since Macie was born, I'm finding that reading is falling from my priority list.  Midway through January I had not completed one book, though I ended up finishing three by month's end.  Last week I had to return a book to the library that I hadn't finished but had reached its three-week limit.  It's a little distressing to me, but Brian reminds me I'll have more time for reading in another season. 

For now I'm focusing on a few things.  I'm reading with my kids.  Macie has fallen into a sort-of regular afternoon naptime routine. The rest of us are using the quiet time to make hot chocolate and share books on the couch. I'm reading magazines. Short bursts of reading are manageable to me with a nursing baby. I'm dedicating the year to reading for pleasure.  This is not the year to tackle hefty classics or challenge myself intellectually.  If I stretch myself to read outside of my comfort zone, I'll never read a thing. I'm letting myself read only the books that interest me on a very basic level-- books that seem fun-- and I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

M is for...


In honor of Macie turning a month old, 
I am sharing a few photos from the newborn photo session my sister, Kati,  did at our home when
Macie was 6 days old.


A look back through the alphabet (starting in 2010!):
L is for... 

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