The Story of a Girl


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.


Sunshine

It is gray in Washington in the winter.  Perhaps winters are always gray, everywhere, but somehow my memories of winter before the great Hawaiian adventure seemed more glittery.  Probably because of the snow.  Snow is very nice and glittery, bright white.  There isn’t any snow here.  We had a couple of inches, about a week before Christmas, but it melted within a day or so and we have since moved on to cold, rainy, and dark.  Dark because the sun sets at 4:30 in the afternoon.

Luckily for me though, I have two sunshines… or maybe three if you count the actual sun (I wouldn’t bother though.  Seriously.  We NEVER see it.)

When I lifted Sophiapea out of her high chair this morning I was singing that song to her.

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You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

You make me happy when skies are gray.

You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you.

Please don’t take my sunshine away.

You are my Sofi, my sweet Sophia

You make me happy when skies are gray.

You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you.

Please don’t take my Sofi away.

Believe me when I say, the grin that almost splits her face when she hears her name in the song is a thousand times brighter than the song, or my not-so-wonderful singing, and probably even the actual sun.  Though again, don’t take my word for it–we haven’t seen the sun in days.

All things considered, between my sweet Sophiapea and my Superman there’s plenty of sunshine to go around.


The Power of “No” (Or “Doe”)

Sophiapea is sprouting quite the vocabulary these days.  New words crop up nearly every day.  Granted, some of them probably make sense only in context, or based on the fact that I am becoming more adept at reading between the lines of toddler-ish.  She tries to say everything.

“Sophia, do you see the car?”

“Carck! Carck! Carck!”

“Do you want to swing, Sofi?”

“Weeeeeeng!”

“Do you like the puppy?”

“Pee?”

She listens to everything, absorbs everything, and is turning into quite the little copycat, when it comes down to it.  The only word she absolutely WILL. NOT. SAY. (Believe me, I’ve been trying to get her to say it for MONTHS now) is that ever-precious, sought-after, “Mama.”  She says “Daddy”, though she’s pretty coy about it, but she flat out refuses to say “Mama”.  I don’t get it.  I know she could, if she wanted to… heck, at this point, I’d settle for just about anything that she would say consistently for “Mama” .  Did I mention she has also learned the word “No”? Or “Doe”, as she likes to say.  Allow me to share with you one of these heartwarming conversations, which are usually between my Superman, Sophiapea, and me, or sometimes just Sophiapea and me.

Superman: “Sophia, say Daddy.”

Sophiapea (grinning wildly): “Doe”

Me: “How about Mommy, Sofi?  Will you say Mommy?”

Sophiapea: “Doe.”

Superman: “Come on, Sofi, say Daddy, just once.”

Sophiapea: “Doe”

This exact exchange continues for a few minutes before Sophia, practically giggling, finally says “Dad-dee”.  After laughter and kisses all round, all attention is focused on the “M-word”

Superman:  “Sophia, say mommy now.  Mom–mee.”

Sophiapea: “Doe.”

Me: “Come on, Sophia!  Say Mommy!”

Sophiapea: “Doe.”

The difference in this latter exchange is that it will continue on… and on… and on… with Sophia only ever saying “doe”, giggling profusely, and giving me kisses.  I kid you not.  Oh, she knows what she’s doing! She knows that after day-in and day-out of being at her beck-and-call, official-reader-of-books, sometimes official reader of ONE book, over and over, bringer of drinks, decipherer of toddler-ish (not as simple as you might think, given the few conversations I’ve transcribed for you here), maker of snacks, cleaner of diapers, cleaner of all the messes she constantly makes, and after ALL of the work that goes into being a stay-at-home mom, she knows that I would just really like to hear her say Mama.  And for some diabolical reason hitherto unknown to me, she refuses.  I think I give up.  Maybe the one that’s baking right now will like me more…

Okay, that’s a lie.  I’m  not giving up.  She WILL say it, sooner or later.  Probably later, but I’m sure she will turn into a child who shouts, “MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY! MOOOOOOOMMMY!”  from across the house, and when I go running, looks up at me innocently and says “I dropped my crayon.”

That will come.  She might be 12, but I’m sure it will happen.  Until then, if the little rat says “grandpa” or “grandma” or any of her aunts and uncles names when we’re back visiting Kentucky in a few weeks, I will probably have a meltdown. Not just any meltdown.  A crazy, psycho, pregnant-lady meltdown, induced by the cruelty of a toddler for whom I endured childbirth, would sacrifice anything, and do everything for, and helped along by the crazy hormones that result from trying to bake another of these sweet, diabolical beasts.

I like to think that since I’m here all the time–for morning snuggles, sticky oatmeal kisses, drinks, and can’t-find-the-teddybear tragedies–she just doesn’t realize there’s a name for what I am.

…..

Then again, maybe she thinks my name is “dreeeee”

(“drink” in toddler-ish)


Homemaker Monday

I’ve been so quiet in the blogosphere lately… life has been busy, and even now we’re in the process of moving, but I’m taking a little time out both for stress-relief and to get the creative brainpower flowing hopefully before we begin our next few weeks of not having a house or any of our normal entertainment outlets. What better time for writing, eh?

Homemaker Monday is a blog linkup hosted by Diary of a Stay at Home Mom.

The weather… IS HOT. I don’t remember our other summers in Hawaii being so humid and muggy, but this one is.  High 80′s and humid all week.  We are definitely looking forward to the respite of cooler weather in Washington where we will be next week (!!!)

Right now I am… in the middle of scouring the kitchen.  It’s the last “to-do” on our cleaning checklist, besides weed wacking the mini-yard, but I sat down to eat lunch, read some blogs, and decided it probably wouldn’t kill me to take a 15 minute writing break.

Thinking… There are still so many little loose ends laying around the house.  We have to get rid of the paint/aerosols that the movers wouldn’t pack, clean out the fridge (ugh), put a screen protector back on the front door, pick up and get rid of all of our cleaning supplies… how can it look like so much and so little to do all at once???

On my reading pile… not that I have much time for reading, but I do have two books from the library that I would ideally like to finish before we move out on Wednesday.  All bets are off on whether I actually will.  I have:

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill and A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper.  After I leave them at the library on Wednesday, I have my kindle appropriately stocked with reading material for the endless days in hotels that I know are coming.

On my TV… Not too much, since our TV went out with our household goods.  We still have netflix on our laptops, so if I have any free time I’ll probably watch Dr. Who or Bones.

On the menu for this week… Really only have planned meals for today and maybe tomorrow.  The fridge is just about empty.  Tonight we’re having frozen chicken potpie, and tomorrow we’ll have scrambled eggs and some leftover soup.  Oh yes–the endless bizarre combinations uncovered when one is trying to empty out one’s pantry amazes me too.

On my to-do list… Clean the refrigerator/freezer, mop the kitchen floor, mop the entryway floor, wipe out the dishwasher, weedeat the backyard, wipe out cupboards, clean sinks, clean stove.

In the craft basket… None.  Whenever our stuff gets to Washington I do have a cute autumn hat in the works, but can’t do anything about it right now.

Looking forward to this week… Being DONE with all the cleaning and checkout crap.  Can’t wait to check into our hotel on Wednesday and just chill out until our flight on Monday!

From the camera…

Sophiapea is enjoying all of the empty cupboards

Sophiapea is enjoying all of the empty cupboards

Bible verse: Matthew 6: 25-30

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.  Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?  Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?  Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?  And why take ye thought for raiment?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Wherefore if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

 


Just Write

I write. Somedays I spend every spare moment I can wring out of a busy day, pecking away busily at the keys on my laptop.  Words pour out of me, magically assembling onto the page.  Sometimes I write five pages and am completely happy with the flow and the cadence of the words that I’ve found.

Then, out of the blue, it stops.

Sometimes it’s a conscious break. My days suddenly change.  We get up earlier, go to bed earlier.  Naptime is sidelined.  Errands pile up, cleaning piles up.  I miss a day here or there, always telling myself that it’s only temporary.  I have to take a day off.  There just isn’t time to squeeze it in today.

Othertimes, it’s less conscious.  Committments call my name, luring me away from the story-telling that continues in my brain, like an engine that keeps turning over, and over, and over.

All of the sudden, when I sit down to write, the words aren’t there.  I stare at the screen for an hour, reading back over what I’ve written previously or focused on that blinking cursor with a blinding intensity.

Days of that monotony begin to pile up.  I’m not content with what I’ve written and overwhelmed with the editing that must occur eventually.

I don’t know what causes this cycle.  Why does my brain keep repeating the same loop?  This has happened before, and it will happen again.  Stuck in the mud, unable to move until I close my eyes and climb.  Write a ladder.  Write a rope.  Write an elevator.  It doesn’t matter what I write, yet I know I must.  There will be other times for editing.  When I have the first draft, I can begin to worry about making these miniscule changes that bother me so in the first reading.  There will be a second draft.  The words that I write are not etched in stone, but they cement an idea.

Like the ancient Romans, I can begin with concrete.  Concrete is crude and inexpensive.  But when it is dry, I can paint.  I can paint wild tapestries, ornate with vivid colors and scenes.  I can paint windows that aren’t windows, into worlds that exist only in my mind.  I can shape the muddled blobs of my first draft into a real story, IF…

I just write.


Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death–21st century style

It was late summer of 2011.  The news was blowing up with articles and speculation over the budget crisis, and the gridlock in Congress. Figurative buckets of icewater were upended over our heads as we realized that the political parties of our government could not set aside their partisan differences to solve a problem-namely, an exorbitant government budget, and only a small fraction of funds on hand.

Up until that summer, I was a more-or-less mainstream Republican.  I sided with Republicans on issues, just because I knew I was conservative and figured that had to mean I was Republican.  At some point in that debate-wrought summer, I began to ask what exactly the differences were between Democrats and Republicans.  Yes, Republicans tended to hold some of my core values–they were most likely to be pro-life, pro-business, and anti-taxes (although, lets face it, everybody says they’re against taxes when election season comes around), but when it came down to it, Republicans were just as happy to make laws as Democrats are, and that is exactly where I realized my problem with the main political parties stems from.  Republican and Democrats alike are happy to make laws all day long.  It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you want to sit on, you have to at least admit that most of what our senators and representatives do is make laws and pass acts.

My problem with this whole law-making business is that I believe this country was founded on freedom and for freedom.  Our forefathers didn’t come here because there were laws about whether or not you could smoke marijuana.  They came here for freedom: Freedom of religion, entreprenurial freedom, freedom to live their lives out from under the finger of an overstepping government.

When did we (as a nation) become more obsessed with our laws than with freedom?

(This is when Republicans and Democrats alike start clammering–”But these are good laws!  We need them!  We need more!”)

Sure, we need basic laws, to prevent society from becoming an anarchal chaos.  Murder, Robbery, Assault.  We all know what the big crimes are, and we know that they need to be prevented.  People need to be deterred from damaging another person or his/her property, but why go any farther than that?

We have governments because we must.  To keep an ordered society, government is a necessary evil.  That doesn’t mean that we should leap into the arms of big government, expecting them to reward us for our inability to get a job, take care of us when we get sick, and make laws that are meant to save stupid people from themselves, but are actually utterly ineffective because–guess what!  The stupid people aren’t magically becoming smart enough to abide by laws.  Thomas Paine described the necessary evil of government best when he said, “Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices.  The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions.  The first is a patron, the last a punisher.” (Thomas Paine, Common Sense).  Both society and government are necessary, but Republicans and Democrats today try to combine the roles of society and government, and churn out laws regarding things that could and would be determined by the core values of society if left alone.

So now let me ask, what do you think the core values of the United States are?  I don’t care whether you consider yourself Democrat or Republican.  If you think that freedom (which is, the ability to do whatever you want, as long as it doesn’t hurt somebody else or take away somebody else’s freedom) is one of the main core values of the United States, ask yourself where you stop believing that principle, and then ask yourself why.  Why do you reach a certain situation and suddenly think “Oh, but we need laws for that.”

If the value that we kept coming back to was, You have the freedom to do anything you want, as long as you don’t take away somebody else’s freedom to enjoy life and pursue happiness, what else would be necessary?  Just think about it for a minute.  So few of the laws our politicians make are actually necessary to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and so many of them flagrantly prohibit it, that we have created twin monstrous cliffs of destruction out of the Republican and Democratic parties.  Each political party keeps growing the cliff and widening the gap between those cliffs until any attempt at compromise is certain to end, crumbled in pieces at the bottom of the gully.

I believe that we have come to a point in history where we need to set aside the corrupt political parties that currently rule us, and get to the root of our values.  I don’t want to elect any more big government cronies thinly disguised as Republicans.  I want to cast my vote for people who love freedom as much as I do.  And I want to be as dedicated to the pursuit of freedom as our founding fathers were when this country began.  That is how we will be able to bridge the awful gap between our current, warring political parties.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” (Patrick Henry, from his speech before the Second Virginia Convention, March 20, 1775)


The Tragedy of Complacence

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I am currently reading an excellent book called Reporting the Revolutionary War, by Todd Andrlik. It is, for the most part, a collection of the newspapers printed during the Revolutionary War.
This picture is a page of the Pennsylvania Chronicle, October 12,1767, just after the Townshend acts were passed. They printed the entire act–every single specification of the tax, in excruciating detail.
When was the last time our tax laws were simple enough to be printed in a paper when they were enacted?
And the more troubling question that springs immediately to mind: when was the last time we cared enough about the laws our politicians enact to actually read them if they were printed?

Sobering thought…


Future Writer?

If you were to sneak a peek into my living room this morning, you would probably see the wide, dimpled grin of the sweetest 13-month-old in the world as she swoops in and snags my pen from where it is sitting on top of my grocery list (Which was prepared last night for the inevitable shopping trip that MUST occur this morning if we wish to eat something other than peanutbutter and tuna for dinner).

She clenches it between her chubby fingers with the determination of an ant pulling a boulder, and talks seriously to the room in general while she attempts to scribble over my painstakingly neat grocery list.

She loves pens.  Pens, pencils, crayons, chalk–if she can hold it in her hand and draw on something she is perfectly happy.  Of course, I know where this is leading.  Part of me is already suspiciously watching the walls for the inevitable crayon marks.  The other part of my brain, however, is secretly tickled to watch her learn, and entertaining the conceited wonderings of every parent ever–who knows, maybe my daughter WILL write the next great American novel.

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