Friday, January 29, 2016

Fitness Friday - January 2016

Happy Friday! I'd thought I'd join the "Fitness Friday" team, but I'm going to do the whole month of January. My goal for this month was to run 3 days a week and and to do 2 yoga and/or barre classes.

Week 1 (Jan 3-9): 5K run x 3 at the gym. For these first runs since Abel was born, I did 5/1 run/walk intervals with the run at 12 minutes per mile. The time for my first run was 42:06.

Week 2 (Jan 10-16): 5K run x 3 at the gym, 2 yoga classes. I started running a little faster (11:30 and 11 pace) this week with a short walking break every mile. My best 5K time this week was 37:07. I didn't really like either yoga class but it felt good to stretch.

Week 3 (Jan 17-23): 5K run x 3 at the gym, 1 yoga class, 1 barre class. I had one good run and two mediocre runs this week. I was feeling extra tired due to Abel getting up for frequently at night. My time for the good run was 34:44 and I brought the pace down to 10:00 for the last mile. I liked the yoga class, but the barre class was so-so.

Week 4 (Jan 24-30): 5K x 3 at the gym, 1 yoga class (so far). My best time this week was 34:16 with more time at 10:00 pace and some at 9:40 pace. I'm going to try to do an online yoga class at home tomorrow. I haven't had much luck doing yoga at home in the past... It's too easy to quit! But now that I've said it I feel even more obligated to follow through!

I think it was a successful month! Total mileage = 37.2.

In other news:

Abel had his two-month checkup this week. He weighs 12 lbs, 7 oz - 63%, up from 21% at his two-weeks appointment. He is so deliciously chubby!


The best meal we had this week is a tie between Mediterranean Meatballs (made with beef instead of chicken because we had enough chicken on the menu already) and Buffalo Chicken Chili.

Plans for the weekend: A "Totally 80's" preschool dance party at the library!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Currently - January 2016

Hey Friends! I've never done a "Currently" post before, but I always like reading them, so I thought I'd share what's been going on this month.

Watching: More TV than I have in a long time! Specifically... Since my last maternity leave with Swede. I binged through Mozart in the Jungle on Amazon Prime and am currently working through Sex in the City. I'm also watching the new seasons of New Girl and Downton Abbey. Speaking of Downton Abbey - The New York Times has the funniest reviews of each episode! Here is a link to the most recent one... Don't read it if you haven't watched yet!

Listening to: My Lighthouse by Rend Collective. We sang this song at church a couple weeks ago and I downloaded it the same day!

Loving: Running! I've said it before, but I'll say it again - I am SO happy to be running again. I've had a couple bad runs [usually after nights with extra broken sleep] but mostly I feel energized. And I'm getting faster! Slowly, and I'm still slow, but it's happening.

Not Loving: The limited selection of decent yoga classes at my gym. But I don't want to pay for separate yoga classes at a real studio on top of my gym membership. Does anyone know of a good [and free] source for online yoga classes? I've never had much luck working out at home though.

Reading: by The Bronte Plot Katherine Reay.

Eating: Snyder's Jalapeno Pretzels! I'm addicted!

Praying for: Patience. Sometimes I feel like I'm so far from the person [and consequently, the mom] that I want to be: Patient, Kind, Generous, Light-Hearted. I can be impatient and distracted with the kids, always running through the to-do list in my head instead of participating fully in the moment.

Thinking about: How to incorporate the tips from this article into everyday life - How Practicing Mindfulness with your Children Leads to a Happier, Calmer Home.

Craving: SLEEP. Although Abel did sleep for 7+ hours on Sunday night! [In honor of his two-month birthday?] I felt like throwing a party.

Wearing: The same few items of clothing over and over - My Patagonia Re-Tool Fleece Jacket , my L.L. Bean Fleece-Lined Flannel Shirt, and my Boden Cozy Hoody.

Looking forward to: Getting my first Mama's Milk Box [like Stichfix for nursing moms!] later this week. Which will hopefully add a little variety to the "Wearing" category above!

That's all for January! Is it crazy that I've already started to think about Valentine's Day? Jonathan and I never do much beyond a nice meal at home, but I'm thinking it might be fun to do something special for Swede this year. My current plan is to get her a new book [Peppa Pig and the I Love You Game] and make heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast. Do you have any Valentine's Day traditions?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

20 Questions

And I present you with: Twenty random factoids about the Noodle [plus photos of the kiddos, just because they're cute] for your Saturday reading pleasure:

1) What is your essential road trip snack? Potato chips!

2) You've won two free round trip tickets... Where are you going and who are you taking? Here in the heart of winter an all-inclusive beach resort vacation with my BFFs sounds pretty great.

3) What was your high school jam? The first song I remember being obsessed with was "Linger" by The Cranberries. My senior class anthem was "Time of your Life" by Green Day.

4) What shows are you ashamed to admit are on your DVR? I recently recorded "Bring It On," which is definitely a guilty pleasure.

This is what she did when I said, "Show me your big Swede smile!"

5) What in your ringtone? The old-school classic telephone ring.

6) What was your first car? What was its name? I briefly had a sparkly gold Mazda coupe I named Roxanne.

7) Do you have any siblings? Where are you in the birth order? I have an older brother named Rob.

8) Are you usually early, late, or right on time? Before I had kids, I was always early. Nowadays... I'm afraid there are more "running late" texts than I'd like to admit.

9) Have you ever been hospitalized? Only when Swede and Abel were born if that counts.

10) How tall are you? Do you ever wish you were taller/shorter? I'm 5'7. I was one of the shortest kids all through elementary school and my dream was to be 5'6. How exciting that I not only achieved but surpassed a life goal by the age of 16!

11) Would you rather DIY or hire it out? I would always rather hire it out! I hate DIY.
12) What do you eat for breakfast? A vanilla latte and an English muffin.

13) What would you do for a living if you didn't need money? I'm a little distressed by the fact that I can't come up with anything.

14) Do you like rainy days or snowy days more? Snowy days. I feel like there's more to do on a snowy day if you want to be outside (snow-shoeing, sledding) but it's also perfect for being cozy inside.

15) How often do you wash your hair? Every other day.
16) Do you ever leave the house without makeup on? I think this questions should be, When was the last time you left the house WITH makeup on?

17) What's your favorite flavor of ice cream? Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Therapy

18) If you could wake up tomorrow with a new talent or ability, what would it be? I've always wished I had a really pretty singing voice.

19) What's your favorite Disney movie? Either Sleeping Beauty or Beauty and the Beast.

20) What's your sign? Leo

Your turn! Where would you go if you won a vacation anywhere? Rainy day versus snowy day? Favorite Disney movie? Or the question of your choice.

Happy Weekend!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Five Favorites - January 2016

So... January! Often these days I'm reminded of one of Gretchen Rubin's Secrets of Adulthood: The days are long but the years are short. I feel like time is going by so fast. Wasn't it just Christmas? And how is Abel almost two months old? Yet at the same time, the days (and even more so, the nights) can sometimes drag on and on. How can it be both? Such a strange paradox. Anyway... I digress. The point is: Here we are in mid-January so it's time for me to share my favorite things!

1) I splurged on a Patagonia Full-Zip Re-Tool Fleece Jacket for myself for Christmas, and I've been living in it every since. I've had the pullover version for five years and it still looks as good as new, but the full zip is more nursing-friendly. It's so cozy, and I know it'll last for years.

2) Swede is really into Peppa Pig these days. We gave her a stuffed Peppa and a book as her present "from Abel" when he was born, and she's quickly become a big fan. We've checked out several books from the library, and bought a few more, and we've started watching a few of the 5-minute episodes together while I'm nursing Abel in the afternoon. This is the first TV show she has had any interest in. It's really nice to have a few minutes of quiet time.

[Please imagine that there is a cute photo of Swede & Peppa here...  Peppa was feeling camera-shy.]

3) I received the Lauren Fleshman Believe Training Journal as a Christmas gift and have been diligently tracking my workouts since I started running again at the beginning of January. I've never had a dedicated training journal before but I do love keeping track of my runs. The accountant in me has always loved the "numbers" side of running.

4) I mentioned this in my Meal Planning post last week, but I can't get enough of the No-Bake Energy Bites from Gimme Some Oven. They are the perfect little snack pretty much whenever. After a work-out? Yes. For a little something sweet after dinner? Yes. When I realize that I'm absolutely starving during a 3 am nursing session? Yes. I tried the Nutella Energy Bites as well but honestly, if it's Nutella I'd rather just be eating it straight from the jar with a spoon.

Photo credit: Ali Ebright

5) What do you do with your family photos? The past couple years I've been really into making photo albums from Shutterfly. The first one I made was for a vacation with Jonathan to Paris and Amsterdam in 2013, but soon after, once Swede was born, I started making annual books with all our family photos. I update them every couple weeks throughout the year. The 2015 book came a couple weeks ago and I can't stop paging through it.

What are you loving this month???

Friday, January 15, 2016

Meal Planning Strategy

One of my 2016 Goals is to eat more vegetables. Since that is a pretty open-ended resolution, I decided to be more specific when planning meals for the week ahead. I created five categories, and the plan is to include something from each category in at least one meal per week.

The categories are:
 - Green [Broccoli, Green Beans, Peas]
 - Leafy Green [Spinach, Kale]
 - Orange [Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots]
 - Beans [Kidney, Pinto, Cannolini]
 - Vegetarian

Here's what we had this week:

Saturday - Chili with Cheddar-Jalapeno Muffins
Sunday - A cheese/salami/olive plate [With my first glass of red wine since Abel was born!]
Monday: Fried rice with spinach and mushrooms
Tuesday: Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala [with peas] from Budget Bytes
Wednesday: On your own / Leftovers
Thursday: Butternut Squash Lasagna from Seriously Delish <--My favorite meal this week!
Friday: Pizza!

I only did five categories to give myself some wiggle room for things like pizza night and Sunday's appetizer dinner.

On the menu for next week we have:

Saturday: Take-out
Sunday: Short Rib Hash from Seriously Delish
Monday: Fontina & Spinach Baked Eggs from How Sweet Eats
Tuesday: Macaroni & Cheese with Broccoli & Ham
Wednesday: On your own / Leftovers
Thursday: Chicken Noodle Soup
Friday: Chili Bean Cheese Queso from Dine and Dish

In other delicious news, I can't get enough of the No-Bake Energy Bites from Gimme Some Oven. My new favorite snack.

And my new favorite photo to finish up this post:

What is your favorite vegetable? Is it easy for you to "eat your veggies!" or is it something you have to make an effort to include in your diet?

Have a great weekend!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2016 Race Calendar

I am so happy to be running again! I missed it so much when I was pregnant.

I started running again on January 4th when Abel was six weeks old. [See this post for details about my first week back.] My plan to take the same approach as when I started running after Swede was born. Very slow and steady. Very gradually increasing mileage and pace. No expectations. No pressure.

That said, I am hoping to run the following races in 2016. This may seem ambitious, but having a race on the horizon makes me so much more motivated to keep training. I have NO goals regarding time. I'd just like to finish each race and to have fun!

With Chesleigh after my first half marathon post-Swede in April 2014

I have a long list of "Bucket List" destination races, but this year I'm sticking close to home. The logistics of traveling are more than I can handle right now!

May 29: Narrow Gauge 10-Mile. This gives me almost 5 months to build up to 10 miles. I think that's doable. I ran a 10-mile race when Swede was three months old and a half marathon when she was five months old. I was less active during my second pregnant with Abel, so I think a little more time is a good idea.

June 11: Steamworks Half Marathon. One of my favorite local races.

August 27: Thirsty 13 Half Marathon. This is a newer local race. I did the inaugural run in 2014. It's a pretty course with some nice fast downhill stretches. What are your opinions on running downhill? I know it's not everyone's favorite and can really trash your legs, but I love it.

That's me on the far left in the 2014 Thirsty 13

September 24: Mountain Chili Cha Cha Trail Half Marathon. I've never done this one before. I haven't done a trail race since 2011 and have mixed feelings about them in general. Sometimes it seems like they take away what I love about trail running (not worrying about pace, being alone in the wilderness). I'd like to give this one a try and then decide if I'll do more or keep trail running as a just-for-fun activity.

October 8-9: Durango Double Road and Trail Half Marathons. This is a road half marathon on Saturday and a trail half marathon on Sunday. Jonathan actually WON the inaugural road half marathon in 2013! I haven't decided if I will run the road or the trail race. Or both?!?!

November 24: Turkey Trot 5-Mile. Nothing like going for a run to make you feel better about all the food you'll eat later! Side note: Thanksgiving this year is also Abel's first birthday!!!

With Chesleigh again after the 2014 Turkey Trot

This DOES seem ambitious! We'll see how it goes as the year progresses.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The First Week of 2016

How is 2016 treating you so far? I confess I haven't made much progress with my 2016 Goals yet, but the good things about goals versus resolutions, in my opinion, is that goals are a work in progress. I don't have to feel like I've failed if I'm not perfect every single day. Jonathan was in Denver for work for three days this week so my focus was just on taking care of myself and the kids.

Here are some things that happened this week:

1) I started running again! I went to the gym on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. I did a 5K run on the treadmill each time with 5/1 run/walk intervals and varied incline. I did the run portion at 12 minutes per mile. Each run has gotten progressively better. My goal for the month of January is either to run all 3 miles, or to increase the speed of the run portion closer to 10 min/mi - I haven't decided which is the better approach. I am so happy to be running again. Endorphins, I missed you!

2) We had another EPIC week of snow. It snowed all day on Wednesday and again on Friday. Swede's preschool was cancelled on Thursday, and I had to reschedule a doctor's appointment on Friday because I couldn't get my car over the mountain of snow at the top of the driveway. [Let me just say, I did not handle THAT so well.] I really really want to try out the snowshoes that Jonathan's parents gave me for Christmas but haven't gotten the opportunity yet.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. [Name that poem!]

3) Some days I feel like I'm finally becoming more comfortable and confident with the new normal that is life with two kids. Some days... Not so much! Thursday was a really good day. Friday was a less good day. [<--See above.] It's another work in progress. 

Swede learning to talk has been on of the most fun things ever! I love her sweet voice and adorable pronunciation. Her latest word is octopus. [Ock-pus!] I've said this at every age so far, but she's at such a fun age. I love talking to her and playing with her. The key to having [and being!] more fun with Swede is to a) put down the phone, even for photos and b) don't try to get anything else done. If I completely immerse myself in whatever we're doing... We have a blast! It's when I'm trying to simultaneously manage the to-do list that I get frustrated.

Abel is starting to wake up a little. He is a very sleepy baby. Swede was the same way. He has a short awake period in the morning, and again in the late afternoon, but the rest of the time he wants to be sleeping. He likes to be held, of course, but will also sleep in the swing or nap in his crib. To my immense relief, he has started sleeping longer stretches at night this week. Not every night, but we're making progress in the right direction. He is so sweet and snuggly. And he smells so good... That perfect combination of milk and baby lotion and innocence.

4) The best [and the only] new recipe that I tried this week is for these Too Much Cheddar and Jalapeño Muffins by Joy the Baker. We had them with chili for lunch today. A much better accompaniment to chili that the traditional corn muffins. [I don't know about you but I have yet to find a corn muffin recipe that isn't dry-as-a-bone.] They are best when FRESH from the oven. I made a few with just cheese for Swede before adding the jalapeños so that works too if spicy isn't your thing.

That's all for now! I hope you're having a great weekend!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Reading Roundup - December 2015

Hey Friends, Here's my monthly book reviews for December! Do you have any reading goals for 2016? I'm thinking about doing the 2016 Reading Challenge from Modern Mrs. Darcy.

1) The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass. 4/5 stars. There's a lot going on in this book. There are four separate narrators, each with a major "issue." I liked the eponymous widower, Percy Darling, the best. He's the main narrator. His dry wit and old-fashioned formality reminded me so much of Major Pettigrew. They are both so dignified in this increasingly undignified age. The other storylines focus on Percy's grandson Robert, who gets embroiled with a eco-terrorism group, an undocumented immigrant named Celestino, and a gay preschool teacher, Ira. [See what I mean about "issues!"] I think the author did a good job bringing all the characters together in the end for a not quite happily-ever-after but satisfying conclusion.

2) A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny. 3.5/5 stars. This is the second installment in the Armande Gamache mystery series set in the small town of Three Pines in Quebec. I didn't realize when I read the first book that the whole series was set in Three Pines. How can there be so many murders in such a small town?!? I didn't like this book quite as much as the first one, but I will definitely continue with the series. It's a classic "cozy mystery."

3) Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave. 3.5/5 stars. This is a light read and fairly predictable but I enjoyed it. The main character, Georgia, grew up on a vineyard in Sonoma County. When she finds out a surprising secret about her fiancé she returns home from L.A. And discovers a her family has been keeping a few other secrets as well, which causes her to rethink all her life plans.

4) We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. 3/5 stars. This book starts out as the main character, Letty, is forced to step up and truly parent her children - 15 year old Alex and 6 year old Luna - when her parents, who have raised the kids while Letty works multiple jobs, return to Mexico. Introduce a handsome co-worker and the reappearance of Alex's father (who Letty had never told about Alex). There is also a plot line involving Alex's girlfriend, an undocumented immigrant, which I think is the issue the author is spotlighting here, much like the foster care system in The Language of Flowers, although it was more subtly done on that book, which I liked better.

Swede's Book of the Month: My Big Girl Undies by Karen Katz. What power Karen Katz has over toddlers, I do not know, but Swede regularly chooses her books at the library. This is the current favorite, which she requests I read 4-5 times at bedtime. Maybe this means that potty training is imminent? Let's hope so, as I would dearly love to have just one child in diapers again!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016 Goals

Hey Friends, I hope these first days of 2016 are treating you well!

We celebrated New Year's Eve with Molten Blue Cheese Dip and a game of Ticket to Ride with my parents. I'm hoping to make appetizers & board games a tradition for NYE, and looking forward to when the kids can join in!

I didn't have any photos to go with this post so here's one of my favorite little chub... Love this face!

1) Get back in shape! Mostly this means running and yoga. I'd like to run 3x/week, working towards a half marathon in June, and go to yoga 2x/week. Thank goodness for for the gym daycare!

2) Eat better. Specifically, to eat less sugar and more vegetables. I'm trying to decide how specific I want to be with this goal. Generally I think strict rules (especially regarding food) tend to backfire. I'm thinking about making a list of vegetables that we like to eat, to reference when planning meals, with the goal of incorporating at least one each day. 

3) Play the piano regularly. I'd really like to become a better piano player. I go through phases where I'll play every day and really like it, but then something will happen (busy season at work, having a baby) and I'll quit for months and have to start all over. 

4) Be more FUN! What do I mean by this? To be light-hearted, spontaneous, not overreacting to problems, not stressing the to-do list, putting down the phone/camera to be in the moment and fully engage with whoever I'm with, trying new activities despite the potential for chaos, and then embracing the chaos, because let's face it, there's going to be chaos! I have no idea how to quantify this... Any ideas?

I'd like to continue my successful 2015 resolutions of flossing my teeth every day, keeping my Line-A-Day journal, and going to church regularly, as well as posting here 2x/week. I'd also like to upgrade this space a little from this most basic of all templates.

My word for 2016 is GRATITUDE.

Happy New Year!!! Here's wishing you a year filled with joy and adventure!