Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My fitness routine

Sometimes I wish I were one of those women who, while waving around an Egg McMuffin, claimed I don't need no exercise!  People who enjoy sweating are nuts.  Though not the healthiest mindset, there is an air of confidence to this mentality.  I'm so confident with my body and how I look that I don't need to do anything to change it.  I guess I was once there (minus the confidence).  The first thing my 26-year-old self would tell my 17-year-old self would be put down the crumb cake donut.

What I've realized over the course of the last 5 months though is I need to sweat, I need to exercise. It's simply a non-negotiable in the whole fighting anxiety thing.  So here I am, another white girl documenting her #fitnessjourney on Instagram looking for the best smoothie to consume post workout and getting excited over clearance workout apparel.  I've turned into one of those people who is amazed by the power of exercise, who views it as an investment for your body, and who is encouraged and fueled by results.

So what do I do?  Well as a mom with 2 littles, a husband with a fairly busy schedule, and a regulated budget, there isn't room for gyms or personal trainers.  But there's room for YouTube!  Seriously, God bless YouTube.  Working around my kids' sleeping schedules, 5+ times a week (I shoot for every day) I dedicate 20-30 minutes to a high intensity workout that incorporates strength building, cardio, and an ab workout.  For me, I've found I love high intensity because it's a short burst that feels impossible (meaning it's working) and has a high payoff (meaning results and the sense of accomplishment).  My two current workouts of choice are the 30 Day Shred and a butt, thigh, and leg shaper workout.  Together, it's a hard 30 minutes and by the end I feel worked.

Don't let this new-found love of fitness lure you into thinking that I joyfully skip to my Nikes and workout mat.  I'm pretty sure I've dropped more F bombs over the course of these last months while working out than I have in my life.  I've also wanted to chuck my weights right at Jillian Michaels's face.  I've neared tears while doing jumping jacks.  And I'm not exaggerating.  Getting in shape is no joke, it's hard.  It takes persistence, dedication, and sheer will power.  But the payoff is well worth it.

When I first started, I had just had a baby.  And I had never religiously exercised in my life.  The first time I did level 1 of the 30 Day Shred (I've started it more than once), I thought I was going to die.  But now I'm able to not only finish it, but finish it well and add another 10 minute workout to the routine.  I'm still a post-baby size 10, the two purple stretch marks that look more like scars are on my side, but I'm getting stronger.  And that's all that matters.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

From our Easter Weekend

Christmas, 4th of July, Thanksgiving.  These are my favorite holidays, but the Easter Triduum is my favorite celebration.  It's rich in reverence and steeped in tradition.  And a good portion of the three days is spent carrying out ritual and heading to church for prayerful reflection.

Our Easter weekend, of course, began on Holy Thursday, my favorite Mass and night of the year.  The procession following the mass that, without fail, brings me to annual tears was even more moving this year with our little Ella processing and kneeling alongside of us.  Good Friday came and we observed the hour of Jesus's death by going to the Stations of the Cross.  And then came Easter Sunday.  I love the Mass at sunrise on Easter morning.  There's something so calm and quietly magnificent about going to celebrate Jesus's resurrection as the sun peaks over the mountains, the crisp air making its presence known through the wind, and the birds greeting you with a hello.  We got in our Sunday best and headed to the pews to rejoice.

After, our Easter celebrations with family began.  My in-laws, niece, and nephews came over for an Easter brunch and Easter egg hunt.  We ate our fill of cinnamon swirl bread and watched as our kiddos scattered in attempts to fill their baskets with all the treats.  With the afternoon came food comas and after family left we all rested and I dove into a good book.  The rest of the evening was reserved for playing with Easter gifts, indulging in Easter candy and spending time with each other.

This Easter was one of my favorite holidays we've had together.  It was easy and free of chaos and full of good food, it had the perfect combination of family fun and quiet time.  And you bet the Easter candy, no doubt, sent us into Monday with a holiday hangover.

Happy Easter to you and yours!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A life of the little things

When my writing tank drops to E, I search for another direction to go, another topic to write about, another family outing or recipe or outfit to highlight.  But often times I find myself unsure of where to go next.  Our budget, catered to paying off student loans, doesn't allow for frequently updated wardrobes and the latest on trend Spring piece.  We've barely been married for three years, we have 2 kids, and we are faced with all the realities that come with being a post-grad in the year 2016.

Sometimes I ponder writing about that very thing -- what life for a young family looks like when burdened by college debt.  But that's pretty grim and finances are pretty personal, so alas I've stuck to writing what I know, about current life, motherhood, little ones and family.  And all of that culminates into consistently writing about the little things -- the day spent outside after the sun decided to shine, the afternoon spent at the dog park with family, the dinners I've experimented with, the workouts I'm doing, the moments that make me proud to be a mom and the moments that have been challenging.

I'd say life sums up to it being all about the little things.  Despite our bank accounts and current situations, everyone can agree a laugh shared with a best friend or the sun beating on our faces make us feel alive in a way no dollar can.  But little things aren't sexy, they're not shiny and glamorous, they're small and bashful, under-appreciated, and often unnoticed.  Maintaining a blog about little, old every day life can start to feel a little repetitive and a little directionless.  

But that's where we are.  Life is a little repetitive at the moment.  The working, the parenting, the cooking and cleaning, the writing, and in between it all trying to manage outings as a family.  And while we certainly have goals and a vision, there is undoubtedly an element of uncertainty as to what our direction is.

I write all of this to say thanks.  Thanks for stopping by and enjoying little, old everyday life with me. It sure might be little and repetitive but it's beautiful and I need to learn to better cherish every moment.  I have high hopes and dreams for this blog - outfits I'd love to style, outings, vacations, and date nights, I'd love to highlight, but for now it's all about the early years, the years full of getting by as newlyweds.  And that's okay.  It's a part of our story.  A story I'm proud to share and thankful you read.

So thank you.

Monday, March 21, 2016

From the weekend

We kicked off the weekend by getting outside.  We finally got a break from the rain and decided to make the most of it.  Headed to downtown Vancouver, we grabbed some coffee,  walked around, and ran into an unexpected Farmer's Market (major score!).

We carried on our day outside with some family time spent at the dog park.  Ella was in dog heaven and loved chasing around her cousins.  (Isn't this picture the absolute cutest?)

Closed out our Saturday with some homemade pizza.  Even the sauce was homemade (what).  Hit the spot after a spending the day outdoors.

We opened up Sunday with some snuggles!  Ella is always making sure little A is cozy comfy.

The last day of Winter ended up being much nicer than the first day of Spring, so we spent a good chunk of the day at home.  I closed out the weekend in the kitchen.  I made chicken cordon bleu from scratch.  And it was goood.

I hope you had a lovely weekend.  Have a great Monday!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Toddlers at the zoo

There are fewer things in this world that are cuter than three cousins walking around the zoo holding hands.  Truly.  And I was lucky enough to witness that sight for a good portion of our Friday.

Yesterday we went to the zoo.  The last time we went to the zoo was in August.  Ella was a little over a year old.  She was kinda into it, but not that much.  She couldn't yet fully comprehend the zoo and all its glory.  But now she's almost 2.  And she gets it.  We're big into learning animals and the noises they make so it was fun to point out the different animals at the various exhibits and say, remember the duckies?  They say quack quack.  We saw the fish and the giraffes and the elephants and the polar bears.  Ella road on a carousel and enjoyed her little two-year-old self.

I think this was in large part due to her cousin.  Ella's still pretty little in comparison to her cousins. As older little dudes, exploring, discovering, and running around are of course at the top of their minds.  But Ella's older cousin, Aidyn took her hand and showed her the ropes of the zoo.  This is when Ella lit up and got into it and it was the sweetest thing to watch.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The hardest thing about anxiety

You would think after actively battling this for over a year now I would have learned this sooner.  On some level I probably knew, that fighting anxiety takes a literal, constant, unwavering effort.  It's hard work, the hardest work I've done so far.  There isn't room for a slip up or a break.  Once that crack appears in day-to-day efforts, the anxiety starts to quickly seep in and it's not before long, it takes over.

I learned the impact of letting up on an anxiety-proof routine recently when it reared its (ugly) head once again.  Prior to visiting Michigan, I didn't go a week without working out.  I had a (fairly) consistent writing routine, I ate well, and I did what I needed to do in order to feel my best.  But then I went on vacation.  Don't get me wrong, those 9 nine days or so were some of the best.  I ate a burger with a fried egg on it (to die), I had pizza and I had cupcakes and I drank.  It was the freaking best.  But I didn't work out, I lacked a routine, and I found myself facing situations where my anxiety inevitably popped up i.e. traveling on airplanes with children.  And after we got back, due to jet lag and getting lost in finding some semblance of a routine, as much as a new family of 4 can find, I fell off the rails.  I continued to not work out and well, my sweet tooth was getting the best of me.  And I kinda just didn't think about it.  All efforts I had implemented 4 months ago vanished just like that. And it was far too easy.  I justified it.  Because as a tired mom of 2 under 2, it's easier to sink into my couch and binge watch House of Cards and eat a brownie than it is to have a 20 minute sweat it out session after my kids go to bed.  Right?  Yeah, damn right.

But that leads me to turning around from a simple errand to the grocery store, and staying in bed while my family goes to hang out with other family, and finding yet another therapist.

So I'm back.  For three days in a row, I've gotten a solid workout in and that's great and I hope to keep it up.  But working out is only one piece to a complex puzzle.  And so the journey begins once again.  More vitamins, cleaner foods, less caffeine, and yeah, more therapy.

I've gotten off the couch, turned off Netflix  (best season of House of Cards, yet btw) and I'm fighting once again.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Learning to love best as a parent

Ella will be two next month and with two comes those dreaded growing pains that involve "no", the occasional tantrum and even more new-found independence.  As Ella is new to this what is often described as the "terrible twos" phase, Tim and I are new to it all as well.  Ella is our first.  We don't have the advantage of experience yet, we just have our parental instincts of how to love her, teach her, and (when warranted) discipline her.

The other day Ella woke up from a nap on the wrong side of the bed.  She came downstairs crying, she wanted her water, we gave it to her, she cried.  We were ready to eat dinner, she was hungry but cried over her food.  The only thing that seemed to provide her with an ounce of comfort was her beloved "Lamby" who she clutched throughout the entire scene.  Eventually, we decided to put her in her room so she could take some quiet time to settle down.  Maybe she woke up too early, we thought.  The crying didn't subside, so after a few minutes I told Tim maybe I should go sit with her.  I went upstairs, picked her up, grabbed her blanket and (can't forget) Lamby and sat in the rocking chair that resides in the corner of her room.  It was quiet, the door was shut, the lights off, and I just rocked her.  The crying subsided immediately and after a few minutes (after she heard Archer downstairs) she perked up, lifted her head and said "Are-Cheese" and was quick to get off my lap and rush toward the door.

We went downstairs, sat down for dinner, and she ate it all.  Fussing be gone.

Sometimes, as parents, we greet irritability with discipline or a gentle, firm talking to.  And at times, it's probably justified.  When a toddler is insisting her shoes go on the opposite feet so much so that it leads her to tears and you need to get out the door, a parent is left no choice but to get serious.  But I'm quickly learning every situation is different and every scenario calls for an appropriate response.  The tough part is learning how to read situations and knowing how to respond appropriately.  Ella was just sad. Maybe she had had a bad dream or woke up scared or was woken up by her little brother's cries. Who knows?  What I do know is my little girl didn't need anything but some extra love and a longer hug that evening.

And so some extra love and a longer hug she got.

Monday, March 7, 2016

From the weekend

This weekend was our first-week-back-post-vacation weekend meaning we dealt with throat infections and a chaotic shopping list.  Both days included a two hour gap in the middle of the day when the whole house was fast asleep and one of those days included children not getting out of their pajamas.  But I made double chocolate brownies and the latest season of House of Cards came out, so all in all it was a weekend to smile about.  And in the best news, Archer all of sudden decided he is going to start sleeping through the night, like all the way through the night, like for 12 hours.  Prior, he'd wake up once or twice, but he's now decided that around 8:30 is his bedtime, falls asleep and doesn't wake up until about 7:30 the next day.  And for this, we wake up smiling every morning.

Especially Mondays.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

My social sharing guidelines

I love social media (yes, even Snapchat).  Do I think it can be abused?  Yes.  Is there a wrong time to take a selfie? Absolutely.  But as someone who grew up with very few documented memories and knew very little about family history, I love the idea of being able to capture a moment and share it knowing it will live forever.

Those are the key words, however.  It will live forever.  I'm a big believer in personal responsibility when it comes to social outlets.  Some blame the outlet and that's absurd.  We have control over what we share, what we say, what we take pictures of.  We can't post something inappropriate and claim I didn't think it would get around.  It always does.  It's on us to be smart and think about what we share with the world.

So how does this affect my writing?  I've been asked a time or two how I decide what I'm going to share.  And I assume that's because I've written about some pretty personal stuff.  So I thought I'd share my checklist and the questions I ask myself before I hit "publish."

Follow the gut.  When thinking of topics to write about, I do a gut-check.  If I feel confident, I move forward.  If not, I don't.

Would I mind if my kids read this?  Once it's out there, it's out there.  I didn't grow up in a world where I could 'Google' my parents and find a million public pictures and posts, but my kids are growing up in that world.  So I make sure to ask myself if one day they stumbled upon what I'm about to publish would they be mortified?  Even if I'm writing a grittier, more raw post, I make sure to write it from a lesson-learned lens.

  • Kids on social: On that same kids note, I love to share cute moments of my little ones through picture and video (especially with having loved ones far away), but you'll never see a naked baby picture of my little ones or their name used as a hashtag.  I just can't get over the fact that if in 20 years my kid is up for a job, and the boss Googles them and finds a bunch of pictures of my kid in their underwear or in the bath or on the toilet.  I mean, it's weird, right?  And using their names as hashtags?  Yeah, that's weird, too.

Is it a part of someone else's story as well?  We all have harder times in our lives that have served us a lesson or two.  If it was a harder time in our life, chances are that story or lesson or chunk of life lived includes other people.  And if it served as a particularly hard lesson learned, the story could potentially paint someone else in a negative light.  I don't feel comfortable painting a negative picture of someone on a platform where it will always live.  There have been a few topics I'm passionate about that I've seriously considered turning into posts because these life moments are a part of my story, but - even if truthful - it's not my place to publicly tarnish a reputation.

Is this something I've worked through?  My writing is personal but not diary personal.  When I was in middle school, I would take to journals or LiveJournal (*cringe*) and rant about the current woe-is-me situation.  It lacked substance, tact, and a point.  Now when I decide to write about something personal (anxiety, postpartum depression, candid motherhood moments) I ask myself if this is an area where I have perspective, grounding, and if I've found an overall lesson learned.  If not, I may still write about the topic but not yet publish the post.

Could this help someone?  When I chose to start writing about anxiety, I wasn't writing in the past-tense.  I was still very much in the throws of getting my footing and figuring it all out.  I ultimately decided to share the journey because I thought it had the potential to help someone.  I remember being pregnant with Ella and feeling so alone that I'd often search for other new moms' experiences. That was my tipping point in my decision making process - maybe someone else is feeling alone in battling anxiety.  When I wrote my first post on the topic, I simply expressed I was in the midst of the journey.

If still unsure, I talk it out.  I've had a few post ideas that I have been really torn on.  A topic has passed most of the checks off the list but one, and I've had a hard time deciding whether or not to write and publish.  In these scenarios, I talk to my husband about it.  His feedback usually grounds me and I almost always walk away with my answer.

As I continue to write, I may tweak these guidelines adding bullet points to a question or two.  But this is my current compass for sharing on social.  Blogging or sharing a status on Facebook or even crafting a tweet can appear to be mindless, but I carefully look over everything I put out there because everything you see with my name on it forms my online reputation.  (But please excuse me for that once in a while emotionally driven political comment -- I know it's never a good idea, but sometimes Ted Cruz just really gets me going.)