Back again!

I’m back! I’d love to say that my return is for good and that I’m here to post more than just a few days at a time before disappearing for weeks on end, but I’m honestly not sure about that one! 

Because, well, Baby, ya know?

The last two weeks have been busy for us and when you add a clingy, whiny baby to the mix–posts just don’t get written. And other things in life are either done in piecemeal or during Baby K’s naptime. 

Like blueberry picking–the most peaceful activity on earth when accomplished during a baby’s naptime!

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And jam-making? That takes an entire afternoon of running back and forth from kitchen to baby, plus a healthy dose of wailing when it just isn’t possible to hold a child and put jars into a hot water bath at the same time. 

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As you can see, other things in life have taken priority over blogging lately…and that’s okay! I wouldn’t give up any of the wonderful things that I’ve done lately. I’ve made peach preserves and blackberry jelly. I’ve gone blueberry picking and picnicking with my family. I’ve eaten loads of fresh garden veggies and made way too many loaves of zucchini bread for my waistline! And I’ve spent oodles of time cuddling my little fussbudget of a Baby K…and that’s far more important in my book.

All the same, I *do* enjoy this writing thing and appreciate using this medium as a creative outlet! I’m trying to figure out how to squeeze in bits of writing time without letting other responsibilities (and other enjoyable things!) fall to the wayside. How to find time to write and not at the expense of other important things–or more importantly, people.

Isn’t that something about adult life, especially when you add children to the mix? It’s a constant shift to find the right balance for every stage of life–it’s not always easy and my daily life doesn’t always go as I’d like, but a thriving, creative life is worth striving for!

Posted in adventures, Baby K, balancing life, blogging, canning, Family, fun in the kitchen, household stuff, motherhood, thriving | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What to do with a giant zucchini

This is the time of the year when zucchini appear in the garden overnight and grow to mammoth sizes when  you aren’t looking. Well, in most gardens at least. Ours had a late start and while we’re getting zucchini, it hasn’t been in excessive amounts. But there have been a few that have slipped past me unnoticed and grown to incredible sizes. 

What do you do with such beasts of a squash?

Well, around here, we turn them into delicious zucchini bread!

IMG_1531The shredded zucchini makes for an incredibly moist bread and the cinnamon and raisins add a great flavor. Perfect for snacks, breakfast, dessert…basically anything! 

Now doesn’t that make you wish you had an army of zucchini in your garden, waiting to be turned into yummy bread?!

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar (I cut down to 1-1/2 cups and it was still sweet enough)
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups grated zucchini

Blend eggs, oil and sugar first. Combine dry ingredients. Add zucchini, alternating with dry ingredients, to the eggs, oil and sugar mixture. 

Bake in greased bread pans for one hour at 350 degrees.

Note: 1 cup raisins may be added if desired. Leave skin on zucchini when grating. For ease, I throw my zucchini in the food processor and pulse it until roughly chopped. 

ENJOY! 🙂

 

Posted in cooking, fun in the kitchen, gardens, household stuff, summer, zucchini | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Parenting is an Adventure

 

I wrote a post this morning, walked away from my desk and when I came back to click ‘publish,’ found it had totally and irrevocably disappeared. I may have fought the urge to cry or swear. It took me a couple hours of piecemeal writing to get that post written and now it’s just…gone.

My days have been full lately, arms full of a wiggly, needy baby who is teething and fusses constantly these days. She doesn’t nap easily without her mama. She does not play well by herself.

She apparently needs her mama.

IMG_1527AI’m learning that I don’t have as much control over what my day will entail, not with a baby in the house. I may plan on chores, but they are accomplished in small chunks, with frequent breaks to cuddle and soothe a clingy baby. And writing? A lot of the time, I have difficulty sitting down at the computer to write, much less turn my distracted, scatter thoughts into words for this blog.

Such must the life of a mother be. As much as I’ve looked forward to this stage of life, as much as I’ve tried to prepare myself mentally for the difficulties that would come with it, as much as you think you’re ready for it–nevertheless, it is altogether different when you are in the middle of it all, experiencing it. I’ve learned that patience doesn’t come easy sometimes. I’ve learned that being a mother can be emotionally rewarding and draining at the same time. It is so much what I expected and so much unlike what I expected, both at the same time.

And I’ve only just begun this adventure of parenthood. I have so much to learn, to experience. It’s terrifying sometimes to think of it.

Life is an adventure and the funny thing about adventure is what a mixed bag it can be. Adventure is devastating. Exhilerating. Terrifying. Rewarding. Joyful and angsty at the same time. And yes, at times, adventure is boring and challenging all mixed together in one untidy package.

So. Here’s to adventure.

{which is Baby K’s cue to wake up from nap and require more cuddles. how lucky I am to be the one she wants them from most!}

 

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Postpartum Workouts!

The best part about working out is the endorphins afterwards. I still don’t like exercising. I love having worked out, but I hate the process of gearing myself up for it, I hate having to push myself during my routine and I hate being hot and sweaty. 😛

But I do it anyway. Why? Because it is GOOD for me! Working out reaps rewards that I cannot do without. I want a strong core and healthy body, not just for myself, but for my family’s sake. If I want to be able to lift my daughter even when she’s a heavy toddler, I need strong abdominal muscles that have healed from pregnancy and childbirth. If I want to be a supportive mate for my husband, I need to continue exercising for mental clarity and emotional strength. And most of all, I want good health and happiness for myself! Self-care is important, especially for moms! And I’m pretty lucky to have a flexible schedule that makes incorporating fitness into my daily life pretty darn easy.

So, what am I doing for a workout routine? For me, the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) approach seems to be the best approach for me these days; the less I have to think about what I’m going to do for a workout, the better. While pregnant, I had a membership to a local gym, but now that I have a little one, I need options that don’t require finding a babysitter on the days my husband isn’t around.

So…here’s what my weekly workout routine looks like.

2 days a week: I walk/jog at least 2 miles while pushing the baby in her jogging stroller. Yay for cardio! I’m really hoping to continue working my way up to jogging/running the entire 2 mile stretch. It’s definitely a lot harder to run while pushing an additional 30 pounds, between the stroller and baby, so I’m slowly working my way up to it. Ultimately, I’d love to be able to run a 5K next spring. Oh and the jogging stroller – definitely worth the investment!

2-3 days a week: I do Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown in the living room. Thanks to Amazon Prime, I have access to most of Jillian Michaels workout videos, which is awesome! Occasionally, I’ll change it up and do her 30 Day Shred or Six Week Six Pack. I like her workouts because she combines body strength training with cardio. I have difficulty figuring out what to do for body strength training on my own, so using her workout routines definitely makes it easy on me.

I also try to do Fit2Be’s Totally Transverse on the days that I go walking/jogging, to ensure I work on my core. Pregnancy often results in a condition called diastasis recti, which is basically when your core abdominal muscles have separated and left a gap in between them. Crunches, sit-ups and even planks won’t fix the problem and can even make it worse! So, it’s definitely a good idea to make sure your core has healed from pregnancy and childbirth before starting any postpartum fitness routine. Fit2Be has a great tutorial on how to check for diastasis recti AND how to go about healing it.

And that, in a nutshell, is what I’m doing on a regular basis. All of the above are easily done at home or in my neighborhood, without spending any money on a gym or childcare. Of course, I’ll have to change things up in the winter months when I’m snowbound and unable to go walking or jogging; when winter rolls around, I think we’ll seriously consider the purchase of a treadmill or elliptical just to make it easier to squeeze in some cardio.

In the meantime, this is what works for me. 🙂

Posted in body strength training, cardio, fitness, postpartum fitness, weight | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blackberry Season

Summer has been unusually mild here in New England this year. I cannot remember the last time the weather was more comfortable or bearable for most of June and July! Of course, now that I’ve written those last two sentences, I’m sure we’ll get a massive heat wave just because.

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As a result of a late start to spring and cooler than average temperatures, the blueberry and blackberry season is just barely begun. Usually the end of July finds us visiting the nearest blueberry farm and picking blackberries right here in our own backyard. And yet, the blackberries along our driveway and beyond are still sporting hundreds of bright pink berries to match the handfuls that have darkened to a delicious deep blackish-red. 

Every day that we go out for a walk or jog, I stop to inspect my berries, anticipating the picking and later, the making of one of my summer favorites: blackberry jelly. I already have my jam jars, my pectin and a bag of sugar sitting in the pantry. All I need are my berries! The jams and preserves are something I look forward to all winter long as we finish off the previous year’s spoils. There is something just so satisfying about canning your own produce, picked by yourself!

What is one thing you look forward to every summer?

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My Goal: Strong, Healthy Body!

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Before I got pregnant, I spent over six months working on a healthier body. I worked out consistently and ate a balanced diet chock full of good proteins, healthy fats and lots of veggies. My goal was to be in better physical health in preparation for pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood/breastfeeding that followed.

Thankfully, I was able to continue with a balanced diet during my pregnancy. I had no morning sickness, just some minor indigestion, so it was easy to stay on track with lots of fresh veggies, lean proteins and healthy fats (yay for eggs, avocado and more!). Working out was a little more difficult since I did have the first trimester exhaustion. Still, I managed to regain some energy in the second trimester and began walking on the treadmill at a local gym a few evenings a week after work.

All in all, I could definitely have been in far worse physical shape when I gave birth. But pregnancy does a number on your body, no matter what kind of shape you are in. Stretch marks, muffin top tummy, breasts that are three times the size they used to be…things shift when you are pregnant and it’s not unusual for things to take time to find a new normal.

With the encouragement of some doula friends, I tried to take it as easy as possible during the weeks following Baby K’s birth. Between their advice and the research I’d done online myself, I figured it was better to take it easy than to injure myself and prolong recovery time.

{By the way, here are a great couple of articles that cover why it’s better to take time to recover.

Keeper of the Home’s Postpartum Rest & Recovery Tips

The Leaky Boob’s A Time to Heal }

So…time crawled by during the first two months. We finished the house and prepared for a move just a week after Baby K turned two months old. I was still exhausted between packing and babycare. Working out wasn’t high on my list of priorities before then. But once we felt settled into the house, I found myself itching to work out.

So, slowly, but surely, I started easing myself into the swing of things. I made exercising a part of my daily routine 3 days a week for the start and then worked my way up to 4-5 days a week. I really feel like I’m finally making progress and feel stronger than I have in awhile. I’m not quite back into the shape I was last summer before I got pregnant, but I feel stronger than I have in months! It feels amazing!

I’ll be back later this week to talk about what exactly my workout routine looks like. 🙂

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Post-Partum Weight Loss

There’s one thing that a lot of breastfeeding advocates tout along with all the health benefits to your newborn child. Namely: breastfeed and your pregnancy weight will just drop off. And for some, that’s definitely true. For others, not so much.

IMG_0246AI gained about 40 pounds during my pregnancy with Baby K and lost 23 pounds during the first four weeks after her birth. I thought for sure that the weight loss would continue and I’d fall into the percentage of women who find it easy to shed pregnancy pounds just from breastfeeding. So much came off so quickly during that first month, surely the next few months would find the weight trickling off.

Well. Here we are four months postpartum and I’ve actually gained several pounds back. My weight has not budged in two months. I’m stuck solidly at 153 pounds. Twenty pounds heavier than I was pre-pregnancy, twenty pounds lighter than when I went into labor. 

Working out hasn’t seemed to make much of a difference, either. I’ve been working out 4-5 days a week for the last six weeks and it still hasn’t budged. I haven’t gained any more weight, so I’m guessing that some of that weight has shifted as I’ve gained more muscle mass. Nevertheless, it can get discouraging to see a stagnant number on the scale and a closet full of clothes that don’t fit anymore.

I know – Baby K is only four months old. It hasn’t been that long at all, if you think about it. Plus, I don’t look bad with this weight on me. Yes, I look heavier than I have ever in my life (outside of pregnancy) and true, most of my clothes don’t fit. But–my body is still nourishing my child, just like it did during nine months of pregnancy. And that’s an incredible, beautiful thing.

There has to be a balance in life. Yes, I’m trying to eat healthy and I’m incredibly happy to gain back the muscle strength I lost during pregnancy and my recovery time–but I refuse to diet like crazy in order to lose this weight. There’s a healthy way of doing things, especially while breastfeeding, and that doesn’t include dieting.

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So…what am I doing then? Exercising, eating healthy nourishing foods, drinking lots of water and remaining hopeful that as time goes by, the weight will ease off. And if it doesn’t happen until after Baby K is weaned, well, that’s fine, too. Our health is more important than getting down to my pre pregnancy weight by X number of months postpartum!

I’ll be back again sometime soon with more posts about what fitness looks like for me these days!

In the meantime, what did postpartum weight loss (or not losing!) look like for you?

Posted in Baby K, diet, fitness, pregnancy, weight | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment