The Story of a Girl


Through Her Eyes

It was a cloudy, rainy day.  Nothing out of the ordinary for autumn in Seattle.  The clouds were stormy and gray, hovering low over head, a few sprinkles of rain sputtering on our heads.  I was lugging the carseat and diaper bag on one arm, holding her hand with the other as we navigated the parking lot.  I had glanced at the sky, only to see that it was gray, probably about to rain buckets and soak all of us on our errands.  It hadn’t exactly ruined my mood, but I was already dreading the circus act of trying to keep rain off the baby, and the damp, limp hair that was bound to follow me through the afternoon.

Her gaze was fixed on the sky, her expression wide-eyed and rapt with wonder.  “Mommy!  It is such a BEAUTIFUL day!”

It took me by surprise, and I stopped right there beside her to do a double-take and look at the sky.  Had turquoise peaked through the clouds?  Was the sun about to come out?  When I looked at the sky I saw gray.  It took her simple joy to make me step back and really look at the sky.

It was gray, but the clouds were swirling together in curling cues of shaded white.  It was raining.  Tiny, shimmering drops of water, splashing miraculously out of the sky and onto our faces.  It WAS a beautiful day.  It wasn’t the ordinary sort of beautiful, with blazing sun and a few puffy white clouds strewn across a cerulean sky.  You had to look harder for it, and ignore the distracting discomfort, but it was there.  It stopped me in my tracks and changed my mindset in an instant, and for more than an instant.

Who am I to question the beauty of a day the Lord has given us?  Here I am, healthy and happy, with a wonderful husband and two beautiful, healthy babies, coats and shoes to keep us warm in the rain, a car to drive, places to go, and the only thing I can really complain about is the color of the sky? Really?!  Can I  be any more petty and silly?!

Funnily enough, now the clouds serve as a reminder.  Every time I see the clouds now–and it IS a lot–I remember that.  I remember her exclamation, and I try to see the world through her curious eyes, and with thankfulness.

I see trees of green, red roses too.  I see them bloom for me and you, and I think to myself: What a wonderful world. 

I see skies of blue and clouds of white.  The bright blessed day, and the dark sacred night.  And I think to myself: What a wonderful world.  ~Bob Thiele and George David Weiss


Savasana is for corpses… or just not for mothers

It’s barely 7 o’clock in the morning, but we’ve been up for 2 hours, when I decide on my yoga practice for the day and pull up a Youtube video.

The first 50 minutes are great.  I bend and twist and cardio-interval with the best of them.  Sure, I fall on my face with the arm balances, but I get back up, and as long as I keep moving my toddler tries to mimic me, not squash me. Aside from a few painfully weighted planks, it’s a pretty good practice.

By the time the Youtube video instructor indicates that it’s time for Savasana, I’m relieved, but the relief is short lived.  No sooner have I settled back, straightened out my back and started to focus on ‘quieting my mind and lowering my inner ear’ then the inner monologue starts up.  Oh yeah.  THIS is why I don’t enjoy savasana…

Oh there goes the baby.  That clicky-scratchy sound means he’s found his way to the hardwood which means he’s headed to the foyer.  I wonder if there are leaves on the floor.  He’s going to eat the leaves, isn’t he?  Ugh, I have to go get him.  No, no… don’t sit up.  Quiet your mind.  Maybe he’ll turn around.  Hey, you could tell Sophia to go get him.  HA! he’d be better off eating leaves, by the time she finished log-rolling him back over here.  Poor baby.  Poor Sophia.  She tries so hard.  Oh crap.  He really is in the entry way.  Dang it.  I wonder if he’ll choke on a leaf.  I’d better go get him.  

I do a baby retrieval and savasana replacement at lightening speed.

If I was up for less than 30 seconds, it doesn’t count.  Wow, my heart rate’s back up there.  Wonder if that counts for cardio.  Okay, what’s she saying now?  Breathe.  In out.  Sure, this is easy.  I love this pose.  I could fall asleeeee…

“Mommy?  Mommy?  Mommy?”

Wispy tendrils of hair are tickling my face, but I try to keep my eyes closed and my limbs relaxed.

“Let your elbows and arms melt into the floor,” the yoga instructor says.  “Feel all the tension release from your abs.”

That would be nice.  Right now all the air is releasing from my lungs as a 35 pound child plunks herself down on my chest to continue the Mommy refrain.

“Mommy?  Mommy?  Mommy?  Are you sleeping, mommy?”

“No, Sophia.  Mommy’s doing yoga.”

“Doing yoga, Mommy?  Doing yoga?”

“Trying to, baby.  Will you please get off my belly?  I’m supposed to be melting butter, not squashed marshmallow.”

“Munchmellows, mommy?  Munchmellows YES!”

I should really ponder her meaning there, but the weight has lifted (literally) from my chest and I get back to melting.

The yoga instructor is saying something about inner ears melting.

How the heck am I supposed to melt my inner ears? I can’t even feel my inner ears.  I’m thinking about my inner ears now though.  That counts, right?  Oops, holding my breath.  Okay, back to melting.  No more inner ears.  That idea is stressing me out.  Shoulders melting into the ground, that I can do.  Wow, that’s really relaxing.  It’s almost quiet in here too… oh no.  What’s she doing?  It’s never good when she’s quiet.  Why did she get off my chest again?  Where’s the baby?  Sorry, yoga-lady, I’ll get back to melting my inner ears and looking at the middle of my forehead with my eyes closed in a minute.  This is way more relaxing in the movies.  

I hazard a glance around the room.  K-man is chewing on a big duplo block.  That’s cool.  I can live with that.  Maybe he’s actually going to cut a tooth sometime soon.

No sooner have I settled back into the elusive corpse pose when the weight is back.

“Mommy?  Mommy?  Mommy?  Are you sleeping, mommy?”

I squeeze my eyes closed against those ticklish ends of toddler hair and ignore the distinct marshmallowy odor of her breath.

Why did she get marshmallows?  Oh yeah, I said that about being squished like one.  She took it as an invitation. Oh well. I’m just going to ignore that.  She already swallowed them anyways.  Marshmallows before 8 am.  I’m a horrible mother.  Seriously though, what am I supposed to do?  At this point all I can do is lecture and we all know how much impact that will have.  It’s this stupid savasana’s fault.  Relaxing is supposed to be soooo great for moms, and savasana is supposed to be relaxing.  Why am I not relaxing?  Breathing… melting….  This ain’t relaxing.  She’s going to be having a keg party on the back patio before I’m done with this.  Or feeding her baby brother marshmallows.  Oh gosh.  That’s worse than leaves, I think.  At least leaves are natural.  I wonder how much crap is in those marshmallows.  I should probably stop buying them.  Oh yeah, supposed to be relaxing.  How long has this savasana been going on?  Aren’t we done yet?  

I open my eyes to see Sophiapea 2 inches away from my face staring down at me. “Sleepy, mommy?”

“Stalker, Sofi?”

There are ten minutes left in the savasana.  That’s when I give up.

Savasana is for corpses.  Or at the very least, just people who don’t have children at home with them.

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Trials of a SAHM

I hate the term Stay-At-Home-Mom.  It sounds passive and weak–everything that actually being a Stay-At-Home-Mom isn’t.  We need a better term, people.  Something that makes us out to be the bad-asses that we are, instead of continually reviving the idea that all mom’s do at home is watch soap operas and drink wine.  At the very least, this term should acknowledge that being at home with kids is WORK.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now.  In the past year I’ve had to fill out a bunch of paperwork for medical and dental stuff and setting up utilities–all the things you do when you move–and every single freaking time there’s that question “What company do you work for?”  I just want to throw the entire pile of paper across the room.  But I don’t, because then I would have to pick it up.

I know, I know–between the mother’s day commercials and every other mommy blogger on the block, you say of course motherhood is appreciated.  But it doesn’t feel very appreciated on a day-to-day basis.  Half the time it doesn’t even feel acknowledged.  The problem is that when you’re doing it, nobody has any reason to notice it.  My toddler sure isn’t going to notice that her clothes are always clean and put away (until she pulls them ALL out of her closet, anyways, but hey, that’s okay, because they always end up BACK in her closet eventually–one of the great mysteries of all time).  The baby doesn’t notice that you’re constantly wiping spit-up off of every toy he pukes on so that it doesn’t get crusty and gross, or the fact that you’ve washed the bouncy seat cover at least 5 times in the last month because he keeps pooping out the back of his diaper.  You just run around like a maniac cleaning up after people, kissing knees, making food, soothing tantrums, and trying to stop your kid from scribbling on the walls of your rental home with the crayola markers that you now know are not nearly as washable as they’re marketed to be.  And then, when you finally sit down to do some paperwork that has to be done, you’re expected to write “unemployed” or “stay-at-home-mom”.  

I know, I know, some of you moms do have outside jobs too.  Good for you.  I’m not debating who works more or has the harder job or anything like that.  I’m just saying moms who stay at home DO work, and I’m sick of having to pretend like we don’t.  I’m tired of stammering some “Well, I DO, but I’m a stay-at-home-mom.” to every question about my working status.  It shouldn’t feel like an excuse, or some lame add-on.  I’m a MOM.  I work my tush off picking up the same toys, doing the same laundry, making food at the same times, doing the dishes the same way every single day.  I don’t get off work in the evening, I don’t get an hour to go buy lunch and eat in peace and quiet, and I either work on the weekend, or spend the entire week trying to catch up from not working on the weekend because the entire house WILL fall apart in two days.

This post obviously isn’t going to solve anything.  It’s just my rant.  It’s the rant of every mom out there who works days, nights, and weekends, doing the same things over and over and over and over and over and then still goes ahead and checks the stupid unemployed box on the form because it’s easier than trying to check the employed box, and come up with a name for what she does.  She doesn’t have time for that.  Her kid just ran off with the markers and is either helping herself to a bath or splashing in the toilet.  Either way, the bathroom needs to be mopped up.

So come on.  We need a better name.  Something awesome and empowering, and something that will banish the soap operas and wine definition of “stay-at-home-mom” forever.


The Mommy Groove

This week has been fantastic. I felt like I finally had a groove going where I was balancing the kids, the housework, my editing, and some studying and nothing was particularly neglected or all-encompassing. For me at least, I think it boils down to having a good routine and sticking to it. For example, every morning I get up at 5:30 or a little earlier with my Superman, and we have our coffee (which is already brewed, thanks to the modern miracle of timed coffeepots). I drink my coffee, make my to-do list for the day, and take a little quiet time to read and pray that I’ll have another decent day of mothering and not screw the kids up too badly. Around 6:15, I make a quick breakfast, and Sophia usually gets up around then, so the next 45 minutes are spent taking care of her and deciding what workout I’m going to so. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are heavy cardio, so I find some intense HIIT workout by Fitness Blender and go to town. If it’s Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday, I do power yoga. Exercise happens from 7-8. And then I usually feel ready to conquer the world–or at least the messy living room and piles of laundry. When I have that morning routine, my day rocks.
And when that groove is thrown off, I want to throw everything out the window (can you tell we just watched The Emperor’s New Groove this week?!)
This morning I got up, and the coffee wasn’t done because I didn’t get the dishes done last night. The dishes weren’t done so it was difficult to rinse out the coffee pot and throw out the grounds. Even after I got it started, I had to WAIT 15 minutes for my coffee. Sophiapea woke up before I was even sitting down drinking it, and as if that wasn’t groove-throwing enough, K-man woke up before I finished my yoga hour.
Yes. Groove is officially off for today. So today will be spent running around hills (the house) and falling down mountain crevices (okay, a comparison is eluding me on that one) and trying to find my groove again.

Please, God, let it be at the bottom of the coffee pot.


How Do I Love Thee- Parenthood style

(This was a joint collaboration on the part of my superman and myself. He started it, jokingly, I added a couple lines and posted it here. We really do love our kids ;) )

I love thee like a morning, that you’re not awake. 
I love thee like a diaper, that thou didst not poop in. 
I love thee like a little girl, that actually goes to bed when she is told.
I love thee like a trip to the library, without a tantrum when we must depart. 
Oh yes, sweet toddler, I love thee. 

I love thee like the sound of silence, when thou hast gone to bed. 
I love thee like the peaceful cup of coffee and reading the news before thou awakes. 
I love thee like the moon–all the way to it and back. 
Oh yes, Sophia my sweet, I love thee. 

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This Moment

This moment.  This bleary-eyed, early morning moment, is only here once.

It’s easy to forget, and settle into a routine of wishing.  Sometimes I wish the baby would sleep through the night.   I really wish Sophiapea would get through her latest ‘difficult toddler’ phase. Somehow I wish there was both more and less time in the day.

But this moment, this coffee-fueled, quiet moment of morning is only here once.

Sophia will be happy and sweet today, for the most part.  She will also throw tantrums that try my soul, and make short work of re-messying everything I clean.  Klaus will win me with his smiles, and make it difficult to deal effectively with Sophia in her dramatic moments by his seemingly incessant need to eat.  But the thing I’m going to remember–the thought fueling my reset button–is that this moment, that is consumed with childhood and babies, is only here once.

I’m going to look into the chocolate brown eyes of my toddler and remember that she is only two before I snap at her about something inconsequential.  Because I won’t remember these heavy-lidded, exhaustion-toned mornings in a few more years–I’ll remember the sweet moments with my babies

So, my now-cold cup of coffee is lifted in toast to this morning.  Here’s to coloring, dancing music, and beautiful princesses.  Here’s to the weird little things Sophiapea fixates on until I verbally acknowledge her fascination.  Here’s to the sweet warmth of a snuggly baby, and the smiles that greet me.  Here’s to the piles of dirty laundry and the messy floors.

This sweet, chaotic, kind of sticky, definitely sleepy moment is only here once.

 

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Multiplication and Fractions

Two years.  Two first breaths.  Two bright pairs of eyes.  Two sets of perfect fingers.  Two sets of exquisite toes.  Two brand new smiles–one with dimples, one without.

Two is new, for us.

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There are twice as many dirty diapers.  Twice as many bottles of baby shampoo.  At least twice as many wakeful nights.  Two times as many pacifiers.  Double the lost socks.

Half the amount of “free” time, and I daresay the floors will be dirty twice as quickly as before.  The dishes will pile faster, and probably sit longer before I manage them, and the same for the laundry. Grocery shopping will be more of a three-ring circus act than before.  Naptimes will be more precarious.  There will doubtless be more sick days, and nights spent wiping drippy noses and worrying over winter coughs.

But, that’s only half the story.

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There are twice as many giggles.  Twice as many hugs.  More rounds of sweet “good-night” wishes, and happy kisses.  One more to fill an arm, hold a hand, and take possession of your heart with a strength you never imagined.

Twice as many laughs. Two subjects for photography, and treasure troves of truth-is-stranger-than-fiction stories.

There are two now, and altogether we are four.  Who knew multiplication could be so sweet?!

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Introducing the New One–Klaus Daniel

Born April 9th, 2014

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Happy Spring!

After six months of rain and nasty cold, it’s still mostly cloudy and chilly to boot, but there are at least signs of life!

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The walk to the river is turning green, flowers are blooming, fruit trees have blossoms and everything is just pink green and yellow in general. Sophiapea loves all the redbuds and trees with pink flowers, and has dubbed them “pink pincess trees”–and declares it loudly any time she sees one.

At any rate, it’s encouraging to think that it will get warmer eventually and we’re at least on the home stretch towards beautiful weather!>


Prenatal Fitness: 35 weeks

Well, I’m back to share with y’all what my workouts this week consisted of.  I hit the 35 week mark early on in the week.  As the end of this pregnancy approaches, I’m finding it harder to want to workout, though I never regret it after I’m done.  Friday morning was probably the toughest decision yet.  I wanted SO badly to just skip the workout and enjoy a nice leisurely morning of reading or writing, but I told myself to just start with 10 minutes.  One 10 minutes led to another, which led to another, and it really didn’t take long to hit my 30 minute mark.  I probably could have kept going, but I have a busy day of grocery shopping and hauling my 35 pound toddler around so I opted in favor of saving a bit of energy for that ;)

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So, here goes!

Monday: I started off the week with one of the exercise videos from Blogilates workout for the day: a Bikini Blaster for AwesomeSauce Arms.  I love Blogilates, and I love her workouts of the day, but I’ve found that they incorporate a lot of Ab exercises or ab-strong poses that are incredibly difficult to do this late on in the pregnancy.

Awesome Sauce Arms was perfect though.  Arm strength that left me finding new sore muscles for a couple days :)

Since that was only 20 minutes, and the other Bikini Blaster workouts looked a little too bouncy or absy for this big ol’ pregnant belly, I moved on to a yoga workout by Ali Kamenova.  It was pretty compatible with the big belly.  I just made space in each pose for the belly, either by making it a wide leg stance or not taking the stretch quite as far.

Tuesday: Today I did more Blogilates.  I made it through a couple of the videos, but the Cardio dance session was just too much.  Looked fun, I gave it a go, and I’ll try it again when I’m not preggers, but my belly was not happy with all that bouncing around.  Not to mention that it was really, painfully awkward.  I mean, seriously.  Thank goodness I live out in the middle of nowhere and keep my curtains closed for my early morning workout…

did do Blogilates’ Fat Burning Cardio Warmup,

Blogilates Spring Fling Toning

and a Pop Sugar workout:  Victoria’s Secret Model: 10 Minute Circuit

Those three were all do-able with a few of my modifications.  One of my favorite modifications for jump squats or any jumping motion really, is to do a normal squat/other random exercise and power through it like I intend to actually jump, all the way to my tip-toes before coming back down.  It kicks a normal squat up a few notches, but the displacement is a lot more controllable.

Wednesday: Yoga Day.  After a couple days of cardio and strength training it felt really good to slow down and stretch out.  I did a lot of heavy gardening work in the beginning of the week, so I was feeling pretty sore from that too.  This Hatha Yoga routine by Ali Kamenova really hit the spot.  Obviously, I’m not doing any headstands, but I do like to practice getting into Crow Pose, without letting my toes leave the ground.

Thursday: Today was a Fitness Blender Day.  I love FitnessBlender!  They have so many awesome workouts, with different styles and levels of difficulty–you’ll be hardpressed to not find ANYTHING you want to try.

Friday: Today I did a few more of the Blogilates workout of the day, and a little prenatal yoga from Body Talk Daily to wind down.  I was feeling incredibly achy and sore–whether from my kinda obnoxious concoction of workouts and heavy garden work this week or just from the normal 3rd trimester aches and pains, nobody knows.  I stuck it out for my 30 minute minimum though, and that yoga at the end was fantastic.  It felt amazing.

Blogilates Heart on Fire

Blogilates Legs on Fire

Body Talk Daily Prenatal Yoga: Episode 4

So there you have it.  My workouts of the week.


Prenatal Fitness for Free

Yesterday morning, as I trolled Youtube in search of my workout for the day, it suddenly occurred to me that as wonderful a resource Youtube can be for free fitness from home, some of y’all out there might benefit from some of the treasure troves I’ve found.  Especially if you happen to be 34 weeks (okay, ALMOST 34 weeks) pregnant and have a deep loathing for a lot of “normal” prenatal workouts.

Here’s the thing: I am pregnant, and I do have an enormous baby bump, but I am well aware of what I was capable of doing fitness-wise before pregnancy.  I wasn’t exactly running marathons, but I did 60 minutes of HIIT workouts 3 times a week, and ran a couple miles every other day.  Though there are some very real precautions that you need to take with exercise, especially later on in your pregnancy as the belly gets HUGE, I still feel capable of a good workout.  I want to sweat.  I want to be a little sore the next day.  I want to not feel like I’m necessarily losing ground on the fitness turf (read: no bye-bye arms.)  Youtube is an awesome resource for cheapskates like me who have no desire to pay for a gym membership, let alone the childcare it would require to get a decent workout in.  Unfortunately, the sheer volume of fitness videos can make it difficult to settle on one–or 3 or 4 of the shorter ones.  That, my friends, is what I’m here today to help you with.

I’m going to share with you what I did for a workout this morning, and anticipate adding more posts like this several times a week until a) I pop this kid out, or b) I’ve shared with you all my favorite fitness routines–minus the three paragraphs and counting of introduction.

Several things to keep in mind:

1. I am not a fitness trainer or a doctor.  I’ve read a lot about exercise modifications during pregnancy, and have spoken with my doctor about any concerns I have, but if you have concerns about a particular exercise, you should talk to your doctor specifically.  If something hurts or doesn’t feel right, I modify it until it’s okay, or I just don’t do the exercise.  Even so, it is entirely possible to get a good workout in, modifications necessary or not.  Use your own good judgment.

2. As I am into well into my 3rd trimester, my doctor has advised against big, jarring movements.  The belly is just too big for any of that to be comfortable anyways.  If an exercise video has jumping jacks, jump squats, or any other sort of explosive jarring motion, I modify the crap out of it.  If I include videos that I’ve had to modify exercises in, I’ll let you know in a note underneath the specific video.

3. I’ve had a lot of hip pain through the 2nd and 3rd trimesters this time around, so I try to always make hip and lower back stretching a priority.

4. I usually workout 5-6 days a week, alternating cardio/strength and power yoga.  Workout sessions will be anywhere from 30-60 minutes, depending on how much my toddler slides into my workout hour.  I make workouts a normal  part of our life, so she has specific things that she does when I’m working out, but as I’m sure you know if you have a toddler, sometimes the best laid plans go awry.

5. I use both “prenatal” workouts and normal workouts, not in any particular order or combination, but whatever I feel like doing in one day.

This is Heidi Murkoff’s What To Expect When You Are Expecting Workout presented by the YouTube channel Lionsgate BeFit.

Notes: This is a 10 minute cardio workout.  I was not impressed by its difficulty as an actual cardio workout, but it was an okay warmup.  Very low impact.  No modifications necessary.

This is a 15 minute pregnancy workout presented by the YouTube channel HASfit.

Notes: This was the real gold mine of the day.  I broke a sweat, got my heartrate up, and will probably have slightly sore arms tomorrow! It was all low-impact, but using 3 lb weights throughout kicked up the intensity.  This had the best low impact jumping jack modification I’ve ever used, and I fully intend to use it to modify any jumping jacks I encounter hereafter! No modifications were necessary, however, I did lower the wall-pushup to the edge of the couch to get a little more bang for my buck.  If you have any abdominal separation (and by 34 weeks, if you DON’T have any, you’re probably superwoman!) exercises that strain your abs do very little for you and can do more damage, which will just set you back when the baby’s out and you’re working on losing the baby tummy.  Exercises like pushups and planks can be modified by raising your hands until the little triangular pooch between your ab muscles disappears and your belly is just one big glorious beachball shape as you do the exercise.

This is Lower Back Stretches for Sciatica Pain presented by the YouTube channel FitnessBlender.

Notes: This was a great combination of stretches for the lower back and hip area, and it really did loosen up my ever-painful hip and back area.  The first exercise has you laying flat on your back, which is generally unadvised if you’re into your second trimester.  One way to modify back-lying poses is to prop your right side up on a pillow, however, I tend to feel that that gives the stretch a weird kink.  It was just a minute, and I felt the benefits outweighed the risks in my particular case.  It takes longer than a minute to wake up when I accidentally roll onto my back in the night anyways. With the shell stretch, instead of keeping my knees closed, I modified to a type of wide-legged child’s pose to accommodate the belly.  Likewise, for the standing toe touch, I simply made it a wide legged standing toe touch.  I don’t know if those modifications actually change the way the stretch works on your body, but they worked for me!

Altogether, I spent 33 minutes on these workouts, and finished out the day with a 1.5 mile walk.


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