Thursday, September 10, 2015

Oh, I guess it's fall...

We've stayed pretty busy this summer! Since school started here in VA Beach on Tuesday, I guess it's fall... except it's still butt hot outside. I'm longing for it to cool off and get crisp again. I have a bunch of random iPhone photos for you to look at in this post. They may or may not have anything to do with what I'm writing about. In fact, this post is just going to be about whatever. No real guide or point, just musings about life right now. ;)

 I feel like ever since July hit it's been kind of a whirl wind. After we returned from vacation, I attended two births in a short amount of time. Doula work is amazing. I love it. There's something so amazing about witnessing a birth and being part of the process in a small way. If you want to keep up with birth-y type things, you should follow my Facebook page and my doula blog on my website. I'm really trying to ramp up my doula business. I have a meeting with a potential back-up doula next week. I just need to have clients be able to find me easily now!

  The biggest news is probably that both girls are done with speech therapy now. Amelia finished last week and was discharged. We will go back if needed, but for right now she has met her goals and has had such progress over the last couple of months. She is learning so much lately! The ball pit is in the gym at the therapy services office-- both girls thought it was the coolest thing ever. Amelia was so upset when we had to leave and there was a lot of crying. It was quite the way to wrap up with the speech therapist ;)

I've instituted a few more intentional "pre pre-school" type of activities. I've made a theme and found some activities to go along with that theme to do throughout the week. Our first theme was birds because the girls are super into birds right now. We made a bird feeder, read books all about birds, colored bird pictures, and sang songs about birds. Last week was farm week. I kind of lost touch with the activities other than going to a petting farm because sometimes life just happens! This week we are on a bit of a hiatus because of the holiday weekend and getting back into the swing of things.
The picture in the stroller is of the girls waiting for Brad to run by during his half marathon. It was almost impossible to get down to the start or finish lines because of the way parking and road closures were, so we went to the half way point to cheer him on. Then we left. I'm so proud of Brad for running it though! He had a great finishing time. This summer he had several challenges with his training that prevented him from running for almost an entire month. We weren't even sure he was going to be able to pull it off. He definitely did! So proud of his commitment and accomplishment!

We are definitely in a new developmental phase as the girls turn two (ummm can you believe their birthday is next week!?). I'm finding it difficult sometimes to manage the feelings toddlers have. I'm trying to find tools to place in my parenting tool box that both validate their feelings but also outline expectations, teach them how to be decent human beings, and teach them basic social skills. I feel very strongly that discipline should never shame children, but in the middle of it sometime it's hard. If both girls are tantruming or needing something from me, sometimes it's so hard to not just sit down, plug my ears, and scream for everyone to be quiet! I'm learning that I apparently am sensitive to noise levels and get easily overloaded when both girls are crying/screaming/tantruming. I guess maybe it isn't "noise" per se-- i'm just fine if they're being loud because they're happy. It's specifically when they're both upset that I just feel like shutting down completely and all my ideals about not shaming and being validating go out the window. I am definitely not perfect and have had to apologize to them for not handling myself well. Parenting is hard, y'all.

My birthday was on the 28th. I turned 27. One year closer to 30 and making me officially in my late twenties, as my darling husband likes to point out. ;) I made some mini apple pies to celebrate with, but to be honest they were crap. I was disappointed in them for sure, but overall my birthday was a great, low key day. I felt loved by my friends and family. I kept thinking about my life, as I do on my birthday, and kept thinking how it's nothing like what I imagined it would be. But it's a great; I am really quite pleased with where we are and what the future might have in store for us.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What We've Been Up To: Up North

It's been quiet around the blog lately. We've had a pretty busy couple of months! I've done a lot of leg work to get myself out there as a Doula. I could make a whole post about it (well, come to think of it, I definitely will blog about it but in another post!). We just got back from a couple weeks of traveling. We went to visit my parents in Michigan and then went down to Indiana for a few days to visit Brad's family. Traveling went a lot more smoothly than I anticipated. It wasn't exactly always smooth sailing, but let's just say an iPad and The Wiggles made the trip more bearable for all of us.
Mackinac Bridge 

For the most part we just hung out with our families. The girls got to meet their great grand parents on both sides for the first time. We of course took a lot of generational pictures, but since this post is already picture heavy I decided to leave them out (sorry about that). I remember when I was younger thinking taking group photos of all the different generations was so boring and somewhat stupid. Now, I totally understand why. They are important treasures that document all of us together. Some day when our children's children are curious about the family tree they will have tangible photographs to look at. I think it's important to preserve family memories like that.

My grandpa and grandma came up for several days while we were there too, so I had my grandpa shoot a few family photos for us in the Community Garden. I had no idea it was back there, but it's very pretty. The girls were being toddlers and so we didn't get very many great shots of them because they don't sit still, haha. I still like all of these pictures. It was so hard to pick a few to share with you.

While in Gaylord, we took the opportunity to take a few short trips. We hit up Mackinaw City and took a little walk around the beach to get some pictures of the bridge. We were kind of sad that we weren't able to go to Mackinac Island as planned, but we still had a great time taking a stroll and getting some fudge. 

We also spent an afternoon at Hartwick Pines State Park. This was a short trip, but it was fun reliving some of our childhood memories there. Brad's family often stopped at the park on their way up to Mackinaw on family trips. This is one of those weird coincidences about our childhoods. We both have pictures of ourselves as kids sitting on these same big wheels. 

Amelia... well she kind of lost her mind right after these big wheels pictures were taken. She may have screamed and angrily stalked the trails after these pictures were taken.

The trip definitely made me a little homesick. Or rather... made me wish we lived closer to everyone. It's hard being out here in VA Beach without the support of family near by. We have great friends here for sure! But it's hard not being within a reasonable driving distance of our family. We know that right now we are supposed to be here in Virginia Beach. I have confidence that God will make it very clear to us when it's time to move-- just as He was clear about where we should be when we moved here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What We're Up To: Petting Farm

On Monday morning, we headed out to The Hunt Club petting farm. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. Amelia is going through a bit of a fearful stage, especially in regard to animals. She absolutely does not like the squirrels running around our little patio and birds sometimes scare her. Since I taught her the sign for bird and made it a little game to point them out, she's a little less afraid. She wasn't afraid of the animals, but she wasn't as into petting them as Eleanor was.

The first thing that greeted us was this giant turkey. He was not shy at all. He was just strutting around (not in an enclosure) and had zero problem coming right up to you. I have to admit I was afraid of him at first. Turkeys are huge and they are kind of imposing when they're making weird noises and running straight toward you. I think he just really wanted us to feed him.

The little goats are always my favorite. Baby goats are so cute and affectionate! There were several mommy goats there, one of which still hadn't had her babies. This little goat jumped right into my lap when I squatted down to take his picture. He also attempted to eat my shoe laces and camera strap.
The baby goats in this particular enclosure were very small, so we couldn't go in. But they definitely jumped right up to get a pat on the head through the fence. Amelia was sold.

Both girls really liked the chickens. You could go right into the coop and pick them up if you wanted. I liked the chickens ok, but the freak me out. The chickens were funny to watch though. I didn't get many pictures of the girls petting them, but they got a huge kick out of the chickens. We visited the chicken coop twice.

This pig is a character. I was squatting down to get a picture of Amelia and a goat when this pig came running at me. I thought it was going to come get me or something. Nope. He ran, flopped down, and rolled over so I would pet his belly. It was hilariously funny. And now I kind of want a pig as a pet.

This was such a cute baby goat. It's just a gratuitous picture. haha.

Overall the petting farm was a hit. :) I would recommend going to it if you're local. Definitely worth the 5 bucks per person (and kids under two are free). They had a huge variety of animals, many of which I didn't get pictures of. They had several ducks and geese, peacocks, llamas, a donkey, a huge pig, some calves, and some bunnies.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Fit Mama: Thoughts on Intervals

Banker's Health Care Group , a finance group that offers many different finance options for healthcare professionals, asked me to share a few thoughts about fitness trends. Banker's Health Care Group runs a blog designed to allow healthcare professionals to discuss different health topics. I appreciate this conversation because it keeps our healthcare professionals looking at new information and informed on different topics that we, as patients in their offices, might bring up. BHG asked me specifically to share some of my thoughts on HIIT vs "a back to basics approach", as outlined in this blog post on the BHG 360 blog.

First, HIIT = high-intensity interval training. Essentially you're supposed to work to your max effort for a set amount of time and then recover for a set amount of time. There are many things that are or could be HIIT. As a runner, I've done HIIT running by running intervals on the treadmill. I would run as fast as I could for a minute or two and then recover for two minutes and then repeat for several intervals. Running intervals helps increase speed in general, so they're great to do when you want to make your race time better.

As you know, I also started beach body's Insanity. I'm about half way through it and it's definitely what I would consider an HIIT workout (Shaun T calls it max interval training though). You do a move as fast as you can for a minute and then rest for thirty seconds. So far I've seen great results: My overall fitness level has improved, I've lost weight, and I've lost inches. I have fun doing the workout too, even though it is very hard because it's such a varied workout.

HIIT workouts can truly be tailored to any fitness level. Your intervals can be intense for you, no matter where you're at. If you're a beginner your HIIT workout can be jogging for one minute and then walking for two. If you're not a beginner you can sprint for one minute and then rest for one minute. If you're not a runner at all you can exert yourself to an intense level with any activity-- biking, rowing, walking, jogging, boxing, random other cardio moves (like Insanity or even Jillian Michael's shred workouts). But that's the key-- you have to push yourself to feel the effort and then recover and do it again. I also like HIIT because I feel like I can see my results faster. I spent a week running intervals and then the next week, I shaved a full two minutes off my 5k time. Insanity has yielded quick results too.

I think a more back to basics approach is also a good approach to take that incorporates more body-weight strength moves, like planks, push ups, and sit ups. I think this back to basics approach to fitness is also a legitimate way to go-- it requires no, or very little, equipment and it's something you can really do anywhere. You don't need to pay a lot of money at a gym to use your own body weight to train.

Ultimately I think no matter what type of activity or fitness philosophy you follow it's important to like what you do, because that's what will keep you committed to working out. For the most part I don't think there is a "right" or "wrong" in reference to picking a style of working out. Injuries can happen no matter what you choose. My experience tells me that to prevent injury in any workout situation is to make sure your form is correct. If you're not sure about it, ask someone who knows to help you! I also have found legitimately warming up helps prevent injury-- you never want to blast full into a workout of any kind. Take a couple minutes to move around, stretch, and then go for it.

Monday, April 27, 2015

New Year Goals: Update

I wanted to give a little bit of an update on how I'm going on my New Year's Goals. I feel really good about some, but have dropped the ball on some others. Here's where I'm at:

1.) Physical Health

  • Lose 30 pounds- Since January I have lost 15lbs. Only 15 more to hit my goal weight-- which is only slightly more than what I was pre-pregnancy. 
  • Run the Shamrock Half Marathon in March- Check. I ran the whole thing and finished in 2:10! 
2.) Emotional health
  • Read 20 books- I have read 11/20 books. I'm on track to exceed my goal!  
3.) Spiritual Health
  • Complete the New City Catechism with my Church- This is one I have completely and totally dropped the ball on. Since we were so sick this winter, I just stopped doing it in like February. I'm picking it back up and will report back on this. 
4.) Family Health
  • Read to the girls during the day 3 times per week- I don't keep track of this super well, but I would say most weeks I read to the girls in some form or fashion at least three times. I try to do it while they are in their cribs before nap time.
  • Have defined date nights with Brad once a month- We like to cook a special meal after the girls go to bed and then play a board game. I kicked butt at Ticket to Ride this weekend. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fit Mama: Half Marathon

As you probably already know, I ran my half marathon a couple of weeks ago! It was such a great experience. I finished in 2 hours and 10 minutes, and I ran the WHOLE thing. :) I was really proud of myself. I finished about where I thought I would time wise.

For me this felt like a huge accomplishment because it wasn't *just* a race. It was almost symbolic of me taking back who I am. For the first year or so after the girls were born my entire world was taking care of the girls. It wasn't a bad thing and it was certainly necessary, but I definitely did not have the time or emotional energy to invest in taking care of myself. Training for this race and completing it signified my ability to fulfill my role as a mom while also making time to do something that I enjoy doing. There was also a tiny bit of feeling like this race was my "redemption race". The last time I ran the shamrock half I totally hauled it the first half of the race and had to walk a good portion of the last half. I still finished in under 2 hours (uh, what?), but I still felt bummed because I didn't accomplish my goal of running the whole thing. It's probably al little dumb, but it felt good to say I ran the whole thing-- even if my pace was slower.

I'm definitely planning on doing another half-marathon. Brad signed up for one in September and I'm contemplating doing one in mid-november. My next challenge though is completing the Insanity workout. I'm down 45lbs total and I'm only 15lbs to my goal weight! It's definitely coming off more slowly lately but it's always those last 10-15lbs that are the hardest. I'm hoping Insanity will help me blast through it.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

What We've Been Up To

Whew. What a couple of months. Lately the girls and I have been busy but when I go to type it out it doesn't seem like we do *that* much.  Typical day consists of getting up, getting breakfast, going to workout, home/shower, lunch, nap, play until dinner/run errands/whatever else we can fit from 2:30-5pm, dinner, bath, bed. I suppose that's just life with toddlers!

I find myself frustrated often because I just feel so thwarted all the time. No matter what I try to do, something prevents it from being accomplished, I'm running late, or the task otherwise takes 4 times longer than it should. I've been trying to reframe my thoughts a little. Things that used to be incredibly frustrating to me, I'm trying to look at it as important time spent with my girls. I know that sounds a bit cliche, but I also don't want to spend a vast majority of my time frustrated when a simple attitude adjustment is all that's needed. So instead of getting mad that Amelia is once again pulling my pile of wipes off the table and running all over with them, I've taught her how to help me make a pile of wipes. Of course there is a fair amount of taking my stuff off the table and running off with it, but I've noticed simple praise of what they're doing has gone a long way in teaching them how to do something. Instead of saying "No, Amelia, stop doing that", I say "Amelia, can you help me make a stack of the wipes? Thank you so much for being so helpful!" And you know what? She smiles really big at me and continues stacking the wipes. I'm not frustrated and I've found a way to build her confidence in her ability to help me. Eleanor helps me by taking the wipes and goes and dusts off the mantle and the coffee table. So yeah, the task has taken me a lot longer to do but I've also spent time teaching my girls how to help with laundry and found ways to build their confidence. I know it sounds so simple but this feels like a break through for me. It isn't about getting the task accomplished as fast as possible all the time.

So what have we been up to since my last update? Let's see... I've run a half-marathon (a separate post about that is forthcoming), we've continued in speech therapy, had our fair share of sicknesses, spring has arrived, and there has been lots of playing outside and in general better attitudes with better weather.

 All of these pictures are from Easter Sunday. Most of them are from the Egg hunt we had before the service at Church. I didn't get many good pictures, but again, toddlers! haha! Easter was pretty low key. We gave the girls a basket with two big water bottles (kid versions of mine because they would fight over mine), two board books, shoes for their Easter dresses, and some candy for Daddy. :) Then that afternoon we went to the Egg Hunt at church, enjoyed an Easter service, and a great potluck meal after the service.

Speech Therapy has been going well. Both girls are using more actual words, but are also still doing signs.  Amelia has fewer words than Eleanor, but she's building her vocabulary more an more. She says: more, diaper, no, mama, baby, ball, sock, and signs please and eat. Eleanor does all of that plus: thank you, cheese, choo choo, moo, and probably some I'm forgetting. We will continue to be in speech therapy until they have "caught up" to where they "should be", which we will evaluate in a couple of months.

This is about the best family picture we got on Easter. Haha! Eleanor's face cracks me up! I think the biggest news that I haven't shared much about is that I am beginning the steps to become a labor doula. I will be doing a workshop through toLabor in June and then have a few other steps to become fully certified. I already have two moms willing to use me as their doula for my certification. I'm really excited about this prospect for several reasons. First, I believe every mom needs support during labor. It's a vulnerable time for a mom and depending on how she is or isn't supported may affect the outcome of her birth. Second, I am a firm believe in informed consent. Sometimes parents aren't fully given all of the information before certain things are done to them. That doesn't mean that I'm anti-intervention at all; just that I see the role of a doula as both a support person and an advocate in an intense situation. Birth should be something the mother participates in and experiences; not a process that is done TO her.  If you want to talk to me about attending your birth, I'm available in late August. Please get a hold of me! :)

(this is the runner up for "best family picture. haha) 

The girls are both growing and getting more and more capable of things every day. Sometimes it's maddening, like when they learned how to climb up on the dining room table and started running around on the table. That's an all day battle right now. But it's also sweet to see them sitting down with a book flipping through the pages babbling and pretending to read. Or when they tackle each other and collapse into fits of giggles. At their 18 month appointment, the doctor was amazed to reflect on how small they were in the beginning but now how they're well within average ranges for weight and height. Toddlerhood has brought some great challenges but overall I am loving it so much! They're at such a fun age! Maybe I'm crazy, but this truly is my favorite stage so far. It just keeps getting better!