Friday, September 30, 2011

Dropping Sugar Like A Bad Habit...

Oh, I sound real tough, don't I?

But honestly, this is a big one for me.  And it has several factors going behind it.  I have read more than a couple articles recently about how we eat way too much sugar and how the white stuff isn't good for us - far past rotting my teeth out like my parents used to threaten.  It can be linked to not only the obvious health culprits and obesity but also depression, heart disease, acne and cancer.

I know...yikes!

Aaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnndddddddddd last week, I might have eaten a whole bag of Hershey Kisses by myself.  And a half batch of oatmeal cookies...and some rice krispie treats....and a large sweet tea from McDonalds.

Actually, it was the sweet tea that did me in, as I sipped on it while reading the last and final article on the badness of sugar that pushed me over the edge.  

It's not that I don't think that sugar is fine in moderation - I do...I just also know that I have no moderation when it comes to sugar.  Therefore, I decided to join some other bloggers I follow that have been providing positive peer pressure and go without.  Well, sort of...

I told two people when I decided to start this:  Scott and my best friend.  I no sooner typed the email to Amanda when she called in a panic.  "What do you mean, you're going off sugar?"

You see, she was around when I went off sugar the first time.  Back in college when I had an elbow that wouldn't heal and I didn't want to miss pitching my entire junior season so I went to a chiropractor that told me that my diet was horrible - too much sugar, too little protein or complex carbs, too many hydrogenated fats, blah blah blah.

I know...what did he know... *pshhhh*

The 20 year old Annie and her friends viewed it all as a bunch a bull-hockey, but I wanted to pitch so badly that I thought I would give his theory a try and went off my beloved sugar, Poptarts, and crackers.  I learned to read labels and plan my meals.  It really was a learning experience, and even though I did eventually go back to the dark side (once I was able to pitch again - HA!), it taught me a lot about nutrition.  

But anyway, a week into my new diet and my best friend showed up at the door with what would save me:  sugar-free Jello with fruit cocktail mixed in and enough spoons to go around for us and my roommates.  We ate it right out of the bowl and it was the best thing I swear I had ever tasted. 

The whole situation became quite hysterical - as we sat and ate the entire bowl and laughed.  I think we'd been studying...for a very long time...AND if you never hear from me again after this post, they have massacred me for posting this picture!

And I was just darn loopy from no sugar...I couldn't tell you what I was doing here.  All I know is that I would LOVE for my forehead to have that few wrinkles again!

So, understanding her concern, I tried to talk her down.  "Yeah, I'm getting a little out of control and I don't want to gain a million pounds with this pregnancy,"  I told her.

"Tell me how you're doing this," she delved. "I mean, are you avoiding everything with sugar because you know pretty much everything HAS sugar in it."

Looking down at the peanut butter I was smearing on a piece of toast, I gulped.  She was right.  So right then and there, I decided that I was giving up sweets and soft drinks - the obvious stuff.  My husband was in full support of my decision - having seen the Kisses bag in the trash and knowing that he didn't eat any - but convinced me to just go during the week, giving myself the weekends to cheat.

Which sounded perfectly logical to me, considering that I am deeply in love with fall sweets.  (Cue Homer Simpson voice)  Mmmmm...pumpkin and apple ANYTHING....mmmmmm...

Now supporting me and being in love with me can be two different things though, as my sweet hubby called on the way home yesterday and was running through Sonic to get something to drink as a pick-me-up.  Did I want anything?  Oh, temptation washed over me like a flood.  But I sighed, "No...I'm not doing sugar.  Can you get me something unsweetened?"

So he came home with a little strawberry lemonade for Elizabeth and Rachel, a drink for himself and an unsweetened tea for me.  And, you know, it wasn't too bad!

Now, the question remains about other sweeteners and, currently, all I'm using is either honey or maple syrup.  I don't trust any other, although I haven't read all the research on Stevia yet.  And I really don't want to fool with it while being pregnant because I'm not really looking at this as a weight loss answer.  So it's not like I've traded my beloved baked goods in for items that are "diet" or "fat free."  Honestly, I'd rather have the sugar and just deal with the side effects I know. 

Other people who try this have claimed improved complexions, loss of excess weight, more energy and just a better overall feeling.  All those things sound just about awesome to me right about now.  

So I am wrapping up my first week of this and have noticed a couple things.  One, I have dropped a couple pounds.  Now, don't fuss at me and tell my I'm depriving my baby because I'm not.  Mysteriously, I gained five fast ones that week that I went on my binge-o-sweets.  So I am just losing the crap I put on.  I think the baby weighs about an ounce right now...I assure you, IT'S FINE.  

Two, I am forced to snack better and I realize that my go-to when I was hungry was something sweet.  All.the.time.  Now, I grab a piece of fruit or cut up some raw vegetables or heat up some leftovers.  At the same time, my kids are snacking better because Lord knows a mama can't eat a thing without a little bird coming up and wanting a bite.  

Three, I am looking forward to the weekend and enjoying what is forbidden during the week.  Gluttony is dangerous and to just throw things in your mouth isn't I really think that I will savor what I choose to eat this weekend.  

So...anyone up for joining me?  Do you think allowing cheat weekends makes it more "do-able?"  Or perhaps you could use a 30 Day No-Sugar Challenge??  (Which, consequently, should wrap up right at Halloween?! ha!)  Let me know!  Maybe we'll start this full swing on Monday. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rocking Babies

There is just something about rocking your baby that I can't describe.  I have a couple friends who are pregnant with their first baby and have been asking for suggestions and must-haves for their registries and my common answer is that you'll need diapers and a glider.  

Everything else is just gravy to me.  (Ok, fine...I guess a couple of sleepers and blankets are NECESSARY, but you can see where I'm going here.)

I guess that's because I lived in my glider during their first few months of life.  Especially Rachel was a grazer-type eater and I was pinned to the chair for most of the day.  But it's hard to complain with a precious baby cuddled in your arms.

That's also why I never fuss about the girls waking up at night with bad dreams or something bugging them now.  This is a rare occurrence, to say the least, but there is something about picking them up, carrying them downstairs, and feeling them relax against me that is so gratifying to me...filling that deepest mother-need.  

Yesterday was just a day in this house.  Elizabeth was a terror and Rachel was following suit.  We had accidents and fits and boo-boo's and tantrums.  In the middle of that, we had a plumber and lessons and a feeble attempt to get some sort of dinner on the table.  Needless to say, Scott and I were ready for bedtime and rushed the girls through baths and pj's.  While tending to Elizabeth's end of the day fit, I put her down and rubbed her back until she fell asleep - leaving Rachel to her daddy.  Normally, these rolls are reversed, but Elizabeth was just so upset, I stayed with her.  She gave up the ghost after a couple minutes, but Rachel was upset and still crying in her crib a half hour later. 

And then it dawned on me.  We hadn't rocked.  

So I went in and gathered up my disgruntled little girl and we rocked until she relaxed and dozed off in my arms.  It was the closure I needed after such a crazy day - almost God's way of bringing me back to center.  

I think that this de-stressing is an important element to wellness that is easy to take for granted.  I pray that you are able to find your place of comfort and take the time to cuddle your baby, hold your loved one, snuggle with your dog, or just be at peace for a while after what might have been a hectic 12 hours.  And that that peace stays with you when things begin to get hectic once again.

Because they always will...

Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Just Another Day in Paradise...

My friends, we have officially hit the dress-up stage in our house.

And I'm just not really sure how I feel about that yet.

We've avoided it thus far and honestly, it's probably my fault because I didn't really have any clue that Elizabeth was even remotely interested in playing dress-up.  Well, until we went to a friend's house to play and she came out of the room with a boa and high heels and refused to take them off...Diva that she is...

So, when a friend asked if we would like her outgrown princess play dresses, I jumped...because those suckers are expensive.  

Little did I know that my daughter would turn into a teenager in front of my eyes.

This is her princess pose...look at her hands!    How do you learn that?  We have a Little Mermaid dress and a Sleeping Beauty dress as well and she takes turns peeling them on and off and twirling around the house in them.  Of course, we had a small spat once Rachel woke up from her nap and came downstairs to discover the new additions.  Upon seeing her little sister fingering one of the dresses, Elizabeth came over yelling, "No, no, no, Rachel...that is not yours, that is MINE.  Here...this is YOURS,"  shoving a little tu tu in her face.  

Rachel took one look at the tu tu and another at the dress and then yelled, "No!" throwing them both down to the floor and running off to play with the beloved Dora puzzle that had been forgotten by the once possessive older sister.

I don't think she's quite ready yet...

Last night, I was making dinner and Elizabeth was on hour number five of playing with the dresses when she came in the kitchen and said, "Oh Daddy is just going to LOOOOOOVE this dress?"   And I was thinking looooooove?  Where in the world did that come from?

Then I watched the three-year-old, going on 16, go into a frenzy upon hearing her daddy's car pull into the driveway and strip off Sleeping Beauty for Belle because, "It just wasn't right, mama."  Then run in and strut and twirl for him as he walked through the door.

I hadn't had a chance to warn him about our princess inheritance, so he came in the kitchen and kissed me and said, "Why does our daughter have a little ball gown on?  And why is she holding her hands like that??  Is this normal?"

Which took my brain back to about 29 years ago when I clearly remember dressing up in some get-up my Memaw bought me from Goodwill that had sparkles and frilly skirts and coming down her stairs pretending I was my favorite singer at the time, "Olivia Neutron Bomb" (as I called her).

I also remember having a Mickey Mouse Club workout tape that taught a dance and then showed the kids performing at the end on stage under the lights and in costumes.  I was lucky enough to grow up across the street from three little girls so we would pause the tape and then all six of us would sprint to the back bedroom and get our "costumes" out of a box of dance outfits that someone had given my mom.  Then we would parade through the house and perform the dance with the tape as if our life depended on it.  

So I patted my husband on the back as he watched Elizabeth strip off one dress to only wiggle into another and assured him that I thought she was pretty normal...

...and that I was probably going to look for a pair of plastic high heels the next time we go to the store... 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bisquick, Granola and Energy Surges - Happy Monday!

I have been waiting for this for about 15 weeks now...

My energy to come back! 

No longer do I feel pukey, queezy, weezy, exhausted, ready to keel over, and just all over bleh...

It happened Saturday - marvelous, marvelous Saturday.  I ran for my full 30 minutes.  I did lessons.  I played with my children.  And we hosted a rocking UFC party and stayed up until midnight like  teeny-boppers (complete with my mug of hot tea and honey...).  Ah, second trimester, you are wonderful and rewarding and I shall enjoy you until I get huge and ready to pop.

Now, that being said, there are some things around my house that immediately need addressed.  Things I've turned a blind eye to for quite a my desk.

Quick...look away!  Look away!!

So I've got a job ahead of me.  I leave you with the Highlights granola recipe and link to the Bisquick recipe, both of which I made reference to yesterday.  It is rainy and cooler here today and just the perfect weather to bake up some granola.  Or banana muffins, in my case.

That is, if I ever find my stove...

Happy Monday!!

Homemade Granola*

3 C oatmeal (I used whole oats)
1/2 C dried cranberries
1/2 C black raisins
1/2 C golden raisins
1 C chopped nuts (I didn't have these so I didn't add them)
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C sunflower seeds
1/2 C canola oil (I used coconut oil instead and I think it gave it a touch more sweetness, plus a lot more good-for-you-ness)
3/4 C maple syrup (I used the good stuff because 3/4 of my house are syrup snobs, of my husband's influence.  Me?  I am tight with Mrs. Butterworth...mmmm, maple flavored water...)

Preheat oven to 300.  Coat the dry ingredients with the liquid.  Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet lined with foil and sprayed lightly with oil.  Press down on the mixture until it's about 1/2 inch thick.  Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the cookie sheet and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until mixture is golden brown.  Once it cools, break into small pieces and store in airtight container for up to a week or more (although it rarely lasts that long in this house!).

*  Gunst, Kathy.  Highlights High Five Magazine, May 2011.  (For my fellow mass comm snobs.)

Homemade Bisquick and my favorite pancakes recipe 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Things I L-O-V-E...

Well, at the moment at least...

Being Southern and all, I love me a good Mason jar and was looking for a container for my homemade Bisquick when I ran across this beauty at a yard sale for $1.  It holds 6 cups and I couldn't be more thrilled!  It stays in the fridge and takes up waaaaaay less room than the container I was using before.

And speaking of the fridge...

This could be the saving grace of pregnant women everywhere searching for a mock-tail.  It is sweet and bubbly and looks so pretty in a glass of ice with a little bit of lime... mmmmm....  Oh, and the Dora yogurt is Rachel's, who was in such a crabby mood today that she skipped lunch and Go and went directly to bed for a much needed nap.  Dora's waiting on her to get up.  This is real life, people.

Oh, and speaking of drinks...

This has become my new nightly ritual and not only is it tasty, but it also keeps me out of the snack cabinet.  You know, because I'm starving and all...and I watch Diners, Drive-In's and Dives religiously on the Food Network...which is not a good combination.  This tea has the perfect taste of fruit and a spoonful of honey makes it just right.

And speaking of snacks... (I know, I'm reaching...bear with me.)

Homemade granola.  This intimidated me for the longest time and my mom helped me make it when she was in from a recipe from a Highlights magazine, of all things!  Our new favorite snack is granola mixed with vanilla yogurt and frozen blueberries and strawberries.  I've even turned Scott on it, and I've never seen the man eat yogurt before.  Ever.  It also makes for a nice little sweet something to grab by the handful...not that I would ever do that... *ahem*

And speaking of little sweet somethings...

I love new friends - especially those with kids the same age as our kids because they almost act as built in babysitters while playing is going on, allowing adult conversation to be had.  This is their youngest, Kendall, inspecting Elizabeth's shirt.  Elizabeth held so still and just let her check her out.

They have three beautiful blonde girls so we've already formed a band.  Here they are marching and "practicing."

And they even have rockin' dance moves.  I love it!

Well, and listing the things I love, you know I wouldn't leave out...

Frick and frack.  Shortly after this picture, Elizabeth colored all over her sister's head.  At least they look cute and innocent, right?  Oh, and yes...I am a matchy-matchy mom.  Sue me.

Peace out and enjoy your day!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Alternating Limb Exercises Worth the Time - Who Knew??

You're going to have to forgive me for my lack of technical terminology on this one...I'm not sure what it's TECHNICALLY called when you do an exercise that involves one limb and then the other except that when they're listed on a workout sheet, they're called one-arm...or wouldn't alternating limbed make sense?

It did in my head, but then again, I am pregnant so I swear that my brain is getting sucked out a little bit more every week.

Normally when I write anything regarding a workout, I call my husband in and go through the motion of the exercise saying, "What is this called again, honey?"

To which I receive an eye roll and a correct, technical answer.

But alas, he's at work and you are stuck with me and my own terminology...which you're probably just fine with since you've stuck with me this long and you know I'm not one of those trainer-people...I'm just a mama who likes to workout.

So anyway, back to my point...I have an hour in the gym and normally try to squeeze some form of cardio and weights into that time period.  Now, I have used this excuse of crunched time to avoid any exercise that calls for one-limb to be used at a time because I know you then have to workout the other limb next and it takes DOUBLE the time than if you would have just done both things together.  At the same time, I have mumbled and grumbled about my biceps, quads and calves especially, criticizing them for their lack of focus and definition.  Well, because it couldn't be my fault.  ha!

I started following a couple programs that called for lunges - really the single exercise I had been avoiding like the plague because they really "take a long time" - and I began to notice an immediate difference in not only my quads but also my rear-end jiggle.  Thinking that perhaps there was a trend to the idea, I began adding in one-armed bicep curls, single-leg calf raises, one-armed rows  and single-leg extensions on the machine.  Eureka!  Progress, finally!

Now, the key also was within the fact that I was using a weight that challenged me - meaning that I really couldn't get more than 10-12 reps if I wanted to - and that I kept moving onto a different exercise immediately afterwards.  Because I like to super-set my workouts, I began mixing up my single-limbed exercises with regular lifts.  So Biceps and Triceps would look something like this:

1-arm DB bicep curls alternated with
Tricep rope push down

Barbell curls alternated with
One-arm tricep extensions

Alternating DB hammer curls alternated with
Tricep bench dips

Mixing the exercises up like this eliminates much need to take a break and also gives the other body part an active rest - which also burns more calories in my short time span.  Oh, and speaking of time span, my workouts now take me no more time than the old ones...I was just being a Negative Nelly and avoiding harder movements, which also provided more results (go figure).

This would be so easy to apply at home - as you can do lunges anywhere or single-legged calf raises off the floor or front stoop, or (if you're up for the physcial challenge) even one-arm push ups (yikes!).  When I was younger, my mom and I would walk on the track at the high school and would finish doing walking lunges from one end of the track to the other.  We were very anti-rear-end jiggle back then.

Good luck!

Monday, September 19, 2011

No Smore Smores, Mama!

Ah yes, the random stuff you get to read when I am too tired to write anything of any sort of intelligence...  Although I feel like I could put my poor family and the dinners I've been feeding them in the same category...stuff I make them eat when I am too tired to cook and plan.  If only I had gotten into this whole batch cooking mess BEFORE I had gone and gotten myself pregnant, we would have a freezer full of wonderful meals.  But, I only daydream about what I would cook if I had the energy and then take a quick snooze on the couch. 

Good thing we have lunch meat...  mmmm, sandwiches...  

Anyway, Scott and I had a ridiculous idea a couple weekends ago that it would be fun to build a little fire and make s'mores with our two little children.  It all comes from staying up too late, watching the Food Network feature some restaurant that specializes in s'mores and being pregnant and laying in bed afterwards in Homer Simpson mode...


Anyway, it worked out that it had started getting cooler in the evening and we had a pretty good pile of scrap wood that was beginning to make my husband, the minimalist, feel a little claustrophobic in our very substantial backyard.  So a evening fire was on our to-do list.

The girls had never had s'mores and I'm not really sure they had seen that many fires, but they were so excited for the prospect of doing something different that they were actually compliant as we strolled through the grocery store aisles to get what we needed.

Now, let me pause here and ask you if you have priced graham crackers lately?  Holy Moly...the not-on-sale-of-course-because-we-needed-them Honey Maids were $5 a box!!  Which caused a conflict between my taste buds and wallet because graham crackers are on that list of things that I hate generic and have pledged never to buy off-brand again...    The cheapo won out and I am happy to report that Harris Teeter's brand was not utterly horrible and stand up quite well in the whole scheme of s'mores.

Anyway, that Saturday night, we ate dinner early, bribed the girls in picking up the house, and  marched out into the backyard to have our adventure.  Scott had stacked the wood and pulled out the fire pit and arranged our chairs around in a semi circle.  He had even found a couple perfect sticks and see them aside, just waiting for marshmallows. 

Really, it looked like a perfect evening...for us.

And that is when I saw two small children turn around and look at me with the expression, "This is it?  We cleaned the house over this?  Why are the deck chairs on the grass?"

They gave it the once over and then sprinted to the playground.

After the 50th trip down the slide, they were ready to give s'mores a try, so we gathered around the campfire, Scott and I excited for this family experience.  He showed Elizabeth how to put the marshmallow on the stick and put it in the fire, then blow it out (suddenly, I have Sandlot running through my head...first you take the mallow...).  I put together the first s'more in my lap, so proud of how pretty it looked, all smooshed together and handed it to my first born.

She licked it.  No, I'm not kidding.

"I don't yike smores, Mama."

So then I tried giving it to Rachel...which erupted in a fit and sprint to her daddy.

So to make a long story short, Scott and I ate s'mores and I ate most of them.  The girls ate graham crackers and in separately...turning into piles of chocolatey grossness rather quickly and then raced back to the playground to get their little paw marks over everything.

What?  Is there something in my hair?  I just rubbed that gooey white thing all over it...

Um, I just want that piece of chocolate please.  I don't yike s'mores...

Blowing this Popsicle stand...

Probably too dark for you to see that my husband has an entire s'more in his mouth...this is his "oh well, more for us" pose.

We ended up going inside and directly to the bathtub shortly thereafter and Scott and I ventured back out and enjoyed burning up the rest of the firewood after the girls were asleep.  It was a cool evening and the quiet was so nice against the crack of the fire - plus, I had the rest of those s'mores to finish up...  What a wonderful kickoff to Fall!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Welcome Home Daddy

I need to dedicate just a little bit of space here to my husband and tell you about his homecoming yesterday, but I promise I'll be brief.  Just until my water heats up for my tea...

Or maybe until I finish my tea...we'll see what kind of roll I get on. 

If you've followed us for very long, you know that my husband and I have a very close relationship and that I think he is the most wonderful daddy and provider and life partner that I could ever ask for.   So it's tough for us to spend a ton of time apart, even though early in our relationship, as two young college coaches, we often acted as strangers in the night...especially through November through April.  In fact, that's one of the reasons we decided to change professions after Elizabeth came along - it would just be tough to not only take a baby on the road with one of us but also leave the other at home.  

So anyway, we knew that these past few weeks would be challenging, with me taking the girls up to Mom and Dad's and then Scott having to leave for four days of training in Wisconsin.  As the girls have gotten older, they cling to him more and more...lately, especially Rachel.  Last weekend, after getting back from WV, if Scott was in the room, she wanted him and no one but him.  

Of course, I was the last person complaining on that one!

So all week, they asked about daddy.  Where was daddy?  When was he coming home?  Was he on the airplane?  How bout now?  Is he coming home now?

And I was a single mom.  Now, let me tell hats go off to all single parents because I am flat worn out from this week.  And I include in this all who have loved ones in the military or have to travel to work all week...being on your own is flat tough, mentally and physically.  So I was ready to see my husband as well.  

Our phone calls went like most go on the run, with him being tired and in between meetings and me yelling at someone to stop hitting / kicking / biting or to pick up the books.  I did gather from him that he landed at 7 p.m. and that we should just plan on being there around 7:30 p.m. to pick him up outside of baggage claim.

Me, being the horrible listener that I am, rushed our children through dinner and out the door in order to surprise him in baggage claim at 7.  Now, let me pause and say that my children are not rushers.  In fact, I chuckle at that statement of if you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans because I think the same can be said for toddlers.

All day, I prepped them.  

12:00 p.m. "We're going to go to the Y and then come home and we are not going to take off our shoes and socks and eat dinner and then get back in the car and get daddy from the airport."

2:00  "No, today Elizabeth...Daddy is coming home today." 

4:00  "We are going to the Y.  DO NOT OPEN THE TOY BOX.  I need your shoes and socks.  YES, YOU HAVE TO GO!"  

5:30  "Get in the house, DO NOT TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF, wash your hands and get to the table.  WHY ARE YOU ON YOUR BIKE?!  DON'T YOU WANT TO GET DADDY?"


Finally, with promises of getting ice cream on the way home, we made it out the door and successfully into the parking garage and then baggage claim.  I have to say, the girls were so good.  Wide eyed and curious, they gripped both of my hands strong and looked at all the conveyors and stairs and lit up signs.  We found the escalator that Scott would come down and waited, since the ticker said that he had landed.  

Squatting down beside my two girls, I strained my eyes to catch a glimpse of my husband and as soon as I saw him, I told them.  

"Do you see him?  Do you see Daddy?"  I asked Elizabeth.

It took her a couple seconds until she did, but then her eyes lit up and she yelled, "Yes!  I see him, Mama!  There's Daddy!"

I could see Rachel struggling with the whole concept and then all of a sudden, I saw the recognition in my youngest's eyes and heard her yell, "Dada!!" while her little feet started sprinting up and down in place.  It's a good thing he was almost at the bottom of the escalator at that point because I let them both go and they ran to him full force.  

My friends, this is yet another picture stamped on my heart that I'll live with forever.  Especially because I also got to see my husband's eyes as he was half way down the escalator and caught sight / heard us for the first time.  I saw him swim through the mixed emotions of surprise and love and missing and relief and then grab his little girls and pick them up and spin them around until they giggled.  

We both had tears in our eyes as we saw Elizabeth and Rachel clutching his shoulders and telling him how much they had missed him over the four if it had been months or years. 

We had a great ride home, catching up with inserts from the backseat reminding us of the promise of ice cream.  We got the girls to bed and went about our usual routine of getting the house straightened up and catching up on emails and preparing for the final work day of the week.  

Climbing into bed, Scott put his arms around me and said, "I will never forget tonight as long as I live.  I will have the vision of you three at the bottom of the escalator forever in my heart.  Thank you."

Well worth not doing what you're told...welcome home, Daddy!

Ok, off to my tea.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Working out for two

But of course we're still going to the gym.  

Just the other day, I wasn't really feeling it but Elizabeth had been singing non-stop for three straight hours and I was seriously looking forward to an hour of peace and quiet.  I mean, if I could have downloaded the ocean onto my ipod and just had it running in a loop, I would have done it.  Anything than Wheels on the Bus or The ABC's or *shudder* Juno...

And while I readily admit that I am unable to perform at the same intensity as my before-pregnant self, I'm still able to go pretty strong in most areas...although I don't really have much of a belly yet, so I'm not that impeded.
At 13 weeks, I've already had to lower my running intensity - my max is now around a 7.0 and I can tell I'm going to need to lower that soon.  To make up for this, Scott's turned me onto the preset workouts in the treadmill that vary the incline and that really gives me a workout, although I can't run very fast.

With Elizabeth, I stopped running way too soon...close to 20 weeks almost and walked the rest.  Of course, I picked it back up around 38 weeks to try to get her to make an appearance...I'm sure my neighbor's enjoyed seeing the huge, pregnant woman sprinting (fast walking?) up and down the road in front of her house...
With Rachel, I ran to about 34 weeks at a steady, slow jog and then she wasn't having any more of it.  Walking was pretty painful with her at the end, although I made myself do it...  She, too, was a full-term baby.

Of course, my time is also thrown off from having to run to the bathroom at least twice during each cardio session!

The other big change for right now (of course) is abs.  While I don't feel comfortable anymore doing crunches or leg raises (actually, they make me want to puke), I can still do planks, which are also helping my lower back.  But I also know there will be an endpoint to these as well, as I tend to get huge in the belly area.  Although wouldn't that be a funny picture...

Lifting wise, I don't have any limitations, except to not exceed 40 lbs - which isn't really a problem for me anyway.  I can still press on a flat bench - I don't think I have to stop that until 20 weeks - so really I haven't had to alter much at all here.

It's just sometimes difficult to know your limitations, which happened to me the hard way a couple Saturdays ago with Scott.  We went through a pretty intensive workout, warming up on the Versa Climber and jumping rope and then doing the 300 Kettle bell workout, complete with mountain climbers and pushups.  

I walked in the door of the house and thought I was going to die.  I was down for the count for a good three hours, trying to recover.  So sometimes you figure things out the hard way...we'll save that one for the post-baby game plan.  :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nesting in the kitchen

Is it possible to nest in the kitchen?  I don't know what has gotten into me, but all of a sudden, I am preparing food like our very lives depend on it.  I mean, if we were going to starve next week.

Plus, all this batch cooking talk has gotten into my head.

Plus, my husband is out of town.

And I tend to do crazy things when my husband is out of cook and dust the ceiling fans and organize closets...  But anyway, we had all these tomatoes from the garden and I used a lot of them to make a batch of chili (which, by the way, was AMAZING with fresh tomatoes) but I still had quite a few left that needed used.

See?  Not enough to can and ground beef isn't on special this week to do spaghetti sauce.  And then I saw this link from Once a Month Mom, talking about freezing tomatoes.  So I decided to give it a go and it worked out great!  In fact, it only took me about an hour to get them all bagged up.  Now, I didn't chop them.  I called my resident expert (my mother in law) again and she recommended to just take off the skins and put the suckers in the bags whole (although I cut off the stem).  Once I got a few in a bag, I used my hands to smash them up so they'd lay down in a bag and then sealed them up.

I like having the juice when I'm doing sauce or chili, so I didn't want to lose all that by seeding and dicing them.  Of course, I did save a know, for sandwiches... ;)

Ah...isn't that a thing of beauty...  And while I had the camera out, I found a couple hams at the table as well...



So aside from the tomatoes, I've also been dreaming about mushrooms, mainly because I found packages of baby portobellos at the store on manager's special for $1!!  For six big ones!!   So I brought home three packages and have been planning a mess of cream of mushroom soup - which I love to make and bag up for roasts or rice or chicken...mmmmm...

Here was my if you didn't believe me...

So this morning, as the girls ate breakfast, I started on the soup and still had a ton of mushrooms left over (who knew those things produced so much?!) so I sauteed up the rest to bag and freeze.  I can see these over hamburgers or steaks or meatloaf or roasts...can you tell I'm ready for cold weather food?

Now, the problem then became my freezer...

It takes a strong woman to show her messy freezer, people, and my sudden case of nesting has resulted in a small avalanche every time you open the door.  So I needed to get to work.  I haven't tackled the deep freezer yet, but made some pretty good improvements in the kitchen.

Why yes, my name is Annie and I am anal.  These are long leftover containers that I had lost the lids to anyway and were just taking up space in my cabinets.  Problem solved!!  And don't you worry about where that big box of cookies just calm your pretty head about that one...

In other news, we went to the doctor today - and by we, I mean my posse and myself.  I was just a little nervous about how they might act but they did great and were actually on their best behavior, which just shows that miracles DO exist.  We got to hear the little heart beat and that woosh woosh woosh sound got both of their attention and captured my heart. 

It's hard in these early stages before you can feel the little booger and I just wanted that heart beat as justification, I know, before it starts punching the mess out of my innards.

We are 13 weeks and yes, plan to find out the sex - mainly because I am the most impatient person in the world.  Plus, if it's a boy, we are in a mess of trouble in the clothes department! 

Hope you all are having a great day and let me know if you have begun experimenting with this batch cooking thing...and if you, too, are a freezer hoarder...maybe we could start a support group.  I'll bring cookies...  ;)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Craziness in pictures...

Only a crazy woman would get home from a rain-trodden beach trip and turn around to make an eight hour trip home with her two, wild children only days later...

And no, it doesn't NORMALLY take eight hours to get home, but when you stop FIVE times, each time averaging about a half hour, it takes a while...not that I didn't contribute to most of those stops, being a pregnant constant pee-machine myself.  

But anyway, to make a long story short, we spent the past week at my parent's house with my sister over her vacation and had a wonderful time visiting and a not so wonderful time battling a little stomach bug that chose to hit each of my kids for about 24 hours.  We arrived back home just in time for a non-stop weekend and to see Scott off at the airport this morning as he had to go out of town on business for a couple days.


So, I for one, am looking forward to a little routine.  Well, I know I'm not the only one as my kids are thankful to be entering into our familiar rut as well...little routine babies that they are.  So...wanna see what my kids did at their Grandma's house?  (As if you really had a choice...)

Ok, the fact that my mother bought them a trampoline (albeit, mini) is hilarious, as she was famous for referring to them as "death traps" when my sisters and I BEGGED and begged for one growing up.  Just another example of how grandparenting is gloriously different than parenting, I suppose.  Anyway, the girls were obviously thrilled, especially Rachel, who felt her feet leave the ground for the first time in her little life.  Of course, they bounced each other off the thing and there were many instances of jumping on top of each other, but this little toy was a huge hit and this picture just makes me laugh...fuzzy and all.

Try as I might, I can't get my dad's feet cropped out of this shot...but this was yet another popular spot for my little musicians.  I didn't know if you knew that their beloved Juno plays the piano in her movies, but they enjoyed being Juno impersonators for several days.   Rachel also loved that she was now big enough to climb up on the stool all by herself.  Me = not so thrilled... ha!

When babies and puppies collide during a spirited game of tag...  Good thing Aunt Andrea and Courtney were there to help pick up the dog food, which was an innocent bystander in the whole mess.

Saturday, I brought the girls to the grocery store with me and thank God for Harris Teeter and their free cookies in the deli, which kept them occupied for most of the store.  Afterwards, they asked to ride in the dinosaur and I just couldn't resist.  Do you remember when every grocery store had these?   Does that really make me old?  Right next to the vending machine that had the chicken with the plastic eggs with toys in them?  REMEMBER??  Please tell me that wasn't just in WV...

Ok, and this site made me spit coffee out my nose on Sunday as their daddy was in charge of doing shoes and socks for church.  I overheard him say, "No honey, you are supposed to pull them up, like soccer socks."  Needless to say, she is precious either way, but I promptly pushed them down into place after the picture was taken for evidence... ;)

Hope you all survived your weekend and Monday...we'll catch up this week!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Beef Stew Makes Us Strong!

I'm not sure when my husband taught the girls to flex, but they were both showing off their muscles as they ate beef stew last night.  In fact, Elizabeth ate a whole bowl (with the help of a promise of peach cobbler if she finished).  Now, you may take a second glance at this picture and think the girls look topless.

And indeed, they have no shirts on.  We do no tops in this house for spaghetti, soups or anything especially messy because we have not yet mastered managing a spoon to our mouth on Rachel's part.

And Elizabeth just refuses to let her sister go topless alone...

Which worries me just a little...

:)  Have a great day!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Announcement and changes!

As if we didn't have enough babies around here...

We've decided to add one more little punkin to our brood and are looking forward to baby number 3's arrival towards the end of March!

Why HAVE done the math right...that would mean that, when the new baby gets here, we will have a 3 year old, a 2 year old, and a newborn...HOLY MAMA MOLY.  

Therefore, the blog theme may take a little bit of an interesting turn, but seriously, I have difficulties staying on topic anyway, so you are with me by now not because you are a weight loss fanatic, but simply because you enjoy being active and might be able to relate just slightly to our 3-ring-circus.  And boy, will I need you to stay with me with all this going on! answer your questions...

How did I find out?
Well, I took one of those handy dandy little tests that confirmed my suspicions.  I hadn't been feeling on the top of my game and I was starving...all the time...those are normally my big giveaways.
How did I tell Scott?

It was nap time and he was out mowing the grass.  So I walked out and he shut off the mower and I said, "I'm pregnant" and burst into an emotional mess of tears.  My loving husband answered me with, "Oh no...we're going to need a bigger house...and a mini van!"  And then he wrapped me in a sweaty hug and we laughed.
We used this picture to tell our parents when we found out we were pregnant with Elizabeth.

How did the girls take the news?

We asked Elizabeth at the dinner table one night what she would think if Mommy and Daddy had another baby.   She looked at us, cocked her head to the side, and said, "Well...we've got Rachel..."  And that was really all she had to say about that.  Rachel is a big fan of bA-beees (as she says) so I really don't anticipate any issues.  Well, unless her lap is taken...then there might be a rumble.  
See Mama, I will be a great big sister...I can walk the baby and carry it and change it's diaper...
How have I been feeling?

With the exception of a few queezy mornings, I've really felt pretty good.  I've been able to continue in my workouts and am fine with most foods...except for tuna fish...still the thought of it makes me turn green.

Oh, and I crave sandwiches...lots of them...

I mean, if I could afford a Jimmy John's in my house, it would be here pronto.

My husband, so far, has no complaints over this new food fetish.

Ok, that's it for now...thank you for staying with me through these twists and turns of life...I appreciate you!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The beach, at a glance...

Well, we made it to Gulf Shores, AL just before dinner time on Thursday...and just before Tropical Storm Lee arrived.

Party crasher...

I have to tell to you, it's difficult to admit defeat to a natural disaster - but not as easy as it is to admit defeat to my two small children, trapped in a condo for too long.  We made several good-hearted attempts to make it down to the sand, but the wind and the rough surf made it close to impossible for two little ones to get a grip of the ocean.  

I didn't even get to take any pictures...well, I lie...I took two on my phone.  

This was the view from the balcony when we arrived Thursday.

And this was the view Saturday morning...

But far more significant are the few I took in my mind...wanna humor me?

The first picture would take place the first evening we got there and Scott and I took the girls down to the beach for a quick walk in between rain showers.  It was cool, so we put them in cover-ups that were long sleeved and white and terry cloth.  They were hesitant and wide eyed...the storm made the ocean look angry and fierce and the sky was grey.  It wasn't the happy-go-lucky beach we had hoped would great them on our first trip to the sand.  But plow ahead they did and laughed and ran into the wind when their feet hit the grit.  The first time the water lapped up to hit their little toes, they shrieked and it was then that I knew my youngest was in love.  She laughed and looked at her daddy daringly, and then turned and sprinted to the water...which took my breath away, considering their was a very significant rip tide due to the storm.  Scott caught her and swung her up high in the air, laughing and protesting at the same time, promising that the swimming pool would be just as fun to our little girl. 

Friday morning, we poured over the local weather and decided it would be our best day to make anything out of the trip.  Scott had to be on several business calls and couldn't get away from the room until after lunch, so after watching the girls bounce off the walls (quite was a long condo and they would sprint and bounce themselves off the door and then run the entire length and bounce off the sliding glass doors, shrieking and laughing.  I'm surprised we weren't kicked out before it was time to leave!), I decided to try the beach with them by myself. 

Now, let me just give you a little background on myself here.  I am not crazy about the water, ocean or otherwise, but especially the ocean.  I remember very clearly being excited to get to the beach as a youngster and running out only to hit the water and have my legs pulled flat out from under me.  It was traumatic and I have always been hesitant to go out in too high waves that have any potential in going over my head. 

That being said, I was nervous about the rip tide and seeing my youngest run towards the water like it was the coolest thing since sliced bread so I gave them my best warning speech on the storm on the way down in the elevator.

"Now, we are going to the beach and the ocean is angry because there is a storm,"  I said.  "Most of the time, the ocean is happy and a good place for children, but we have to be careful today.  If you go in, you have to hold Mommy's hand..."

So we made our way out and found a spot to begin building our sandcastle (the main objective of the day, according to Elizabeth, who had never made a sandcastle) and set to work.  The sky was scary looking just down the beach, but I figured we had a half hour until it got to us and I really wasn't sure what the rest of the day would look like.  And I really wanted that sandcastle for my child.  

We started digging and turning over buckets of packed sand, which they both joyfully demolished.  And then I announced that I would go down and get us some water to make our sand easier to pack.  They both looked at me, concerned that I would venture to the angry ocean, and then followed on my heels.  I got Rachel's hand before the first wave hit our feet, but not Elizabeth's and the water was so strong that even the the action of rolling back into the sea pulled her down, and rolled her over, sending water and sand everywhere and giving me a strong sense of deja vu.  She came up coughing, crying, and applying a death grip to my leg swearing never to go in the angry ocean again.   Unfortunately, this is my second picture - angry, sand-covered, wet Elizabeth.

I bundled up my now two crying children (Rachel is a sympathy crier) and began our trek to the indoor pool, where we played as the storm made it's way down the beach and beat against the glass. 

Later that day, Scott got to make it down to the beach with us and I got my third picture.  The sun was trying it's best to come out and the rain had stopped, although the wind was still strong and made the air cool against the skin.  Elizabeth, still scarred from the morning, yelled at the ocean that she wasn't going near it and decided to go on sit-down strike in the sand, packing more buckets of sand, turning them over, and then playing Godzilla.  Rachel, on the other hand, was more than happy to be her daddy's side kick in the water and the two of them decided to battle the strong waves.  

My youngest is a daredevil and is fearless in the water.  So I have to admit to you that my heart really stopped beating the entire time they were playing, but the sight was so awesome of the two of them that I really couldn't complain.  The waves hit her and she would laugh...she'd fall to her butt and he'd pick her up and she'd laugh.  Only once did she really take a tumble that scared her, but even in her fear, she was wrenching to get down again.  And Scott laughed...I mean really laughed...the kind that come when seeing your child experience true joy and something new for the first time. 

I ended up dragging carrying Elizabeth down to the edge and holding her on my lap as the water came over our legs and she tolerated that for a little while, only to sprint back up to the buckets and shovels when I loosened my grip.  When their teeth started chattering, we made our way back up to the condo and I got my fourth picture.

Stephanie stopped by to visit and join us for dinner.  She was on my first pitching staff as a young college coach and to see her as a grown, happy woman, expecting her first little baby boy was such a blessing.  She and her husband live near Gulf Shores, so I let her know as soon as we had planned the trip and hoped we could meet up.  We chatted and caught up like time hadn't gone by and it hadn't been five years since we'd seen each other.  When she left, the girls gave her hugs and kisses and Elizabeth was very concerned about where she had gone and when we'd see her again.  

Coaching at the college level is such a challenging experience because you are dealing with young men and women at a very growing-up point in their lives.  They are out of the house for the first time and are truly becoming the people they're going to be...and you're a part of that.  Scott and I both miss the human component of that and the kids we were both close to see them happy and successful on the other side just makes your heart smile.

My final picture came Friday night, after getting both girls to bed, as I settled into my husband's arms on the couch.  It was a very cushy couch and gave towards the middle, so it was easy to put my head on his shoulder and watch the first game of college football season and the storm roll in off the water.   I think it was Hurricane Floyd that came through while I was at Campbell and it was scary enough being inland - but seeing the wind come off the water was something else.  We felt so fortunate to have gotten the few moments that we did with the girls on the beach and to see their excitement, not to mention to even be able to afford a couple days away with the current economy.  

So packing up and heading out the next morning - a day early - left us a little heavy-hearted, but we didn't want to get trapped by the 15 inches of rain the weather man was predicting.  Waving goodbye to the ocean, Elizabeth called out, "Bye beach!  See you next time!" making our hearts swell once again and reminding us that we remain thankful that it is our family that brings us joy, and not necessarily the "extras" in life, like vacations...

Hope you and yours have a blessed Labor Day!