Friday, May 22, 2015

I Went to a Hip-Hop Class & It Was Laughable + 4 Things

 (It's sad when the baby's got more street cred than I do)

1. On Tuesday, I actually made it out to that hip-hop aerobics class I'd mentioned in my post the other day. Even though the pants (and top) I wore totally had spit up on them and weren't really exercise clothes, I still strapped on my running shoes and drove down to the class, trying not to look too much like a noob. (Of course, the fact that I asked the 20-year-olds around me if the class was hard and admitted that this was my first time out to the gym since having a baby might have given me away right then and there. Or, you know, the fact that I was terrible at it.)

Seriously, though--I was both amazed at how far I was able to make it into the class without having to really stop doing most of the moves (about 15 minutes) and totally horrified that there were so many people around to witness the fact that I can apparently not squat and hit the floor with my hand at the same time. And it's a good thing no one I knew was there because I just wanted to laugh the whole time--I wanted to laugh at the fact that I could only understand about a fourth of what my Brazilian instructor was yelling (and about 90% of that fourth was her squeak-shouting "ABS! ABS!" every ten seconds), I wanted to laugh at the fact that because I had chosen a spot in the dead middle, I couldn't see the instructor most of the time, so I was forced to stare at the shaking bums in front of me to find out what was going on, I wanted to laugh at the fact that the instructor, seeing my very-half-hearted non-attempts to do most of the moves for the last 20 minutes (due to my almost pulling a hamstring earlier) seemed to get more and more insistent that we "really push ourselves." But, being a responsible adult who recently pushed out a baby and everything, I managed to hold my giggles (mostly) in and pretend like I was used to making myself look this much like a fool all the time.

Despite all that, when I walked out, I felt AMAZING (even though I'd really only been able to fully participate for all of about 20 minutes).

I'm totally going back next week, with spit-up clothes and all.


2. Raven has started "socially smiling" (which basically means any smile that's not gas-related). Her first real smile that I knew was because of me and not because she'd just pooped was yesterday morning first thing when I brought her out of her bed to feed her--she looked up at me and gave me the biggest grin, eye crinkles and all. Even though I was initially feeling pretty grumpy and groggy because I'd hoped she'd let me sleep a little longer, that smile sure changed my mood around pretty quick.

Maybe someday I'll even get it on camera (once she gets over the "what-the-heck-is-THAT-thing" face she gives me whenever I try to take a picture).


3. Sometimes when I'm trying to get Raven to take a nap or sleep longer and she's fussing, I army crawl on the ground so she can't see me and try to sneak up her binky to her mouth without her glimpsing my face. Luckily she's young enough not to understand that disembodied hands bearing binkies are really attached to a whole human person because sometimes it actually works.

Apparently this is where the sneakiness begins---pretty soon, you'll find me in the bathtub with the curtain closed (but no water) surreptitiously scooping ice cream into my mouth. It's only a matter of time.


4. When Matt and I first were married (or maybe it even started when we were engaged), we were always trying to suggest books to each other--I would suggest some classic or the latest bestseller or a book I'd read as a kid and couldn't believe he hadn't (like all the works of Roald Dahl and The Giver), and he would suggest fantasy---lots and lots of fantasy. What ended up happening was that he read a lot of the books I suggested (including the unabridged Count of Monte Cristo at well over a thousand pages, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, and The Fault in Our Stars), and I read the entire Lord of the Rings series, which I'd been planning on reading anyway (since it was on a lot of my reading lists anyway).

Basically, as Matt pointed out so many times, I hadn't REALLY read anything he suggested. So for years, he's threatened that he'd never again read a recommendation of mine until I'd finally given in and read one of his.

Well, I've finally given in, and I'm about halfway through the first book in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy. (And even though I would love to say that the book wasn't that great so I could keep on ignoring all these fantasy books being pushed at me, I've gotta say--it's actually pretty darn entertaining.)

I think this means that Matt will finally have to read some Pride and Prejudice here before too long...he he he.


5. Someday (when I leave the house regularly again), I'll take pictures of something other than my baby, but for now, that's basically all you get.

Here's to a happy Memorial Day weekend, which in our case will be full of some long-lost friends, a barbecue or two, and a lot of people fawning over how cute Raven is. It's a good life.

Hope you have a grand Friday!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Beating Back Stay-At-Home Boredom


There have been a lot of things that have surprised me since bringing Raven home just over five weeks ago--my maternal instincts kicking in, the sheer amount of excess skin around my middle, how many hours a day I can spend just looking at my baby, the delirium that seems to come with the 3 a.m. feedings...

But one thing that kind of shocked me a couple days into the process (after all the hullabaloo of visitors and hospital appointments was over) was that I felt kind of...bored. Please don't get me wrong--I love being at home with Raven. I really do! I like knowing that I'm there for her when she needs me and that I get to see all her little milestones and that I don't hardly miss a minute of her rapidly-happening development.

But I'm not one who's used to sitting around a lot with no outside demands pressing for my time. I'm used to having hundreds of ungraded essays hanging over my head and a demanding church calling eating up my spare time. After finishing up the last of the grading that I was going to do (since my long-term sub graciously agreed to pick up from the point when he started teaching) and being released from my calling, I have found myself floundering in the thick of thin things when I do get a spare moment to myself--I'm so not used to having so much time at home that I tend to waste almost all of the leisure time I do have on meaningless activities like social media feeds, Candy Crush, and Netflix.

This has all surprised me because it's not something I've heard anyone talk about before--pretty much everyone I know usually just talks about how much they love being a stay-at-home mom, and they all seem to be involved in all kinds of things: play dates, volunteering and service, crafts, intricate Pinterest projects that usually involve much more fabric and/or frills than I'm comfortable with.

One thing I was worried about before becoming a mom was that I would lose myself--that in the process of caring for my children, I would basically have to sacrifice my own interests and development. I can see even more clearly now how valid that fear is--because I get satisfaction out of seeing Raven happy and because I don't seem to have much energy left over after helping her to get that way, I can see why it would be easier just to give up on myself and spend the rest of my days focused on her and the siblings who will eventually follow.

And a part of me wonders now--would that really be so bad? Isn't that noble, to make sacrifices in the service of others?

But my indomitable spirit won't seem to let me totally give in to that route--perhaps it's my spirit that makes it so I force myself to at least put on a little makeup and attempt a hairstyle every day because I don't want to completely let myself go. Perhaps it's my spirit that keeps me up during naptime to read a few chapters or to blog, even though I know the wiser path of action might be to sleep. Perhaps it's my spirit that kept that fear alive in the first place so that I wouldn't put myself in the box of "Mom" and forget about all the other aspects of who I am.

I don't know what it is that drives these things. I don't know if these are things that all new mothers go through. (Like I said, it seems like no one talks about it.)

Whatever it is, I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about what brings me joy and how I can incorporate those things into my stay-at-home-mom life: things like running, photography, reading, socializing, traveling, blogging, playing games, dancing, and working.

Some of the things had to wait awhile by necessity (like running and dancing and traveling). But one thing I've started doing more of to beat back the boredom is to go back to baking. Of course, when I say "back to," I don't mean to suggest that I ever stopped--rather, that I stopped working on it, experimenting with it, trying to develop my talent for it. Basically, I had just gotten into a rut where I stuck to the same 3 or 4 recipes and called it good because "cooking" (and yes, there is a difference) took up any amount of energy I had after a long day of teaching.

But now--now!--I have the time to do what I didn't before: to try out a new recipe (or three) every week, to learn how to make the perfect pie crust, to finally try my hand at making a souffle or a creme brulee or mini cheesecakes.

I've been starting pretty easy--basic white bread, muffins. This week's experiment was with this recipe for double chocolate muffins, and it made me realize that I've gone pretty much my entire life without giving muffins much of a chance: sure, I'd always liked them well enough, but I'd never understood the scrumptious perfection of a homemade muffin on a drizzly weekday morning.



I've been trying to slowly get into some other projects too--I want to try out a hip-hop aerobics class at the local rec center this week, I've started on some possible future gifts for people, and I've been working my way back into my photography business.

But I still feel like I need a new hobby--something that will give me that spark and make this new "Mom Me" feel like the "Me" I knew before.

Maybe I'll look into taking an adult ballet class in the summer. Or maybe I'll actually learn to sew "for real" this time. Or maybe I'll resurrect my childhood love of scrapbooking. Or maybe I'll just stick to my tried-and-true passions and just work on those. Whatever it will be, I feel like the sooner I start the better (otherwise, I worry I'll get into bad habits that will just never go away because it's the way I've "always done this stay-at-home thing").

Stay-at-home moms---how do you keep your passions alive? DO you actually work on keeping them alive? Are there any new skills or hobbies you've taken up since becoming a mom?

I would love everyone's thoughts on this.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Let's Talk Body After Baby: 1 Month Postpartum


You all knew this post was coming, right? I mean, with as many posts as I've done on running and clean eating and health in general, it should come as no surprise that I'd have to do some kind of conglomeration of thoughts on body after baby.

And boy, do I ever have thoughts on this!

You'd think after my labor experience and my emergency ER visit that I would have stopped having certain expectations of my body when it comes to this whole pregnancy and postpartum business. I mean, I thought I wouldn't gain much weight during pregnancy, and I gained 50 pounds. I thought that my labor would be pretty darn quick (for weeks, I was convinced it would last 7 hours), and it lasted 12 (which I know is still pretty quick, but not when you're stuck in the transition phase for half of that time). I thought that my chest pains were just normal after-effects from having pushed a baby out of my body, but then I had to have my gallbladder removed just over a week after giving birth.

You'd really think I'd learn to stop having expectations about these sorts of things because my body seems destined to ever be at odds with my mind.

You see, I knew to expect to still look pregnant after delivering my daughter. I knew that my stomach would have a lot of excess skin and softness that it didn't before. I'd done my research, and I thought I knew what was coming (and all that has, indeed, come to pass). BUT, I also thought that because I was breastfeeding, the weight would just "melt off" postpartum, as so many people had encouraged me. To me, that meant that after the initial 20-pound (or so) weight loss, I'd lose about a pound to a pound and a half a week just by breastfeeding, and that when I added in cardio and weight lifting at six weeks postpartum, I'd be losing more like 2-3 pounds a week.

Now, I'm not six weeks out yet (I'll hit five on Sunday), but I can tell you this--breastfeeding has only dropped the scale two pounds in a month.

TWO POUNDS!

But let me back up a bit.

When I got home from the hospital, I expected to step on the scale and see that I'd lost at least 12-15 pounds. (I mean, that seemed reasonable, right? I mean, I'd pushed out the baby + the placenta + a whole bunch of blood and fluid.)

Nope.

I came home, and I'd just dropped the weight of the baby.

Literally.

Luckily for me, an odd phenomenon happened over the course of the next 5-6 days, and my body proceeded to shed fluid and weight at a thrilling rate so that by the end of that first week, I was 25 pounds down. I definitely couldn't complain about that! The problem with that scenario was that it convinced me that for once, my expectations would be met---this baby weight really WAS just going to melt off!

But alas! Such has not been the case, and my goal of fitting back into at least some of my pre-pregnancy work clothes before I return for the last day of school seems a laughable dream now.

However, now that I know I need to step it up more (and not just count on breastfeeding as my sole weight loss tool, ha ha), I remind myself that I've dropped 25 pounds before, and if I can do it once, I can do it again.

Here's my plan going forward:

In addition to the remaining 25 pounds of the pregnancy weight, I'd like to drop the 7-8 pounds I gained in the three or so months leading up to the pregnancy, for a total weight loss of 33 pounds. I haven't been cleared to start running or weight lifting until at least 6 weeks postpartum, so while I'm totally itching to just go full throttle already, I've got to hold myself back for a bit longer. I also want to wait until my 8-week follow-up appointment with my doctor to start counting calories; I want to make sure I go about it in a way that won't affect my milk supply or mess with my recovery. I do plan, though, to continue trying to incorporate fruits and vegetables as much as possible into each meal, and I've already limited the sweets quite a bit since giving birth, so I've at least made some strides there.

While I'm limited a bit in what I can do, my plan from now until 6 weeks postpartum is to take a 30-minute walk on most days with the baby. Since I can't wait to start running again, I figure that I'd better get used to walking quite a bit first so as to avoid injury (and as I've already discovered, walking seems to be exercise enough at this point, seeing as how I come home sweaty and sore after even the most leisurely walk, it seems).

When I hit 6 weeks, I plan to start some (very) light weight lifting (since my surgeon from the gallbladder removal warned me to take it pretty easy for quite awhile) and to attempt a run/walk schedule--I'll continue to take the baby out on walks a few times a week, and at least twice a week, I'll have Matt watch Raven while I attempt a run (of sorts). I highly doubt I'll be able to do much running at all, but without the worry of a stroller and a newborn, I'll at least be able to test it out.

By my next post in a month's time, I would love to have lost 5 pounds and at least two inches off my waist and hips (for a total of four inches).

Quick Stats:

Weight Right Before Delivery: 190 lbs.
Pre-Pregnancy Weight: 140 lbs.
Current Weight: 163 lbs.
Goal Weight: 130 lbs.

Measurements at One Month Postpartum:
Bust: 40"
Waist: 33"
Hips: 41"
Thighs: 24"
Arms: 12"

My hope (as always) is that by posting my stats for the world to see will motivate me to be a little more accountable than I would be otherwise.

If any of you have any encouragement or tips for postpartum weight loss, I'd really love to hear it!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Last Weekend We Actually Went Out On a Real Date


Throughout our marriage, Matt and I have been on and off successful at going out on formal "dates." For our first year of marriage, because of completely opposite work schedules and a lack of extra money, we didn't make too much of an effort to do the whole restaurant-and-movie combo much (but because we were newlyweds and giddy about spending any time whatsoever together, it didn't really matter). Once things got more stable for us financially thanks to my teaching job and Matt getting a part-time job, we had a lot more to play with as far as funding for dates went, and about two years ago we made it a habit of going out nearly every Friday night.

Fast forward to more recently, and pregnancy had changed all that. I don't know what it was, but we just didn't go out as much anymore--it felt like too much effort to waddle myself anywhere other than to my job and around the apartment, and getting all dolled up to go out fell pretty far down on the priority list, too. (Plus I was not one of those women who felt sexy and beautiful when I was pregnant. I just didn't.)

And of course, now that we have a baby in the house...well, going out on any date sans infant in tow is a Big Deal (at least for now). So we definitely didn't take it for granted!


I think that's the thing that surprised me most about going out--I had heard from everyone that it was important to still go out on dates (but I'd also heard how hard it was to make it happen), and everyone and their second cousin told me to take advantage of going out as much as we could before the baby came--but no one told me how thrilling it would be to go out hand-in-hand with our babe safely tucked into her grandma's arms with a whole five hours--five HOURS!--ahead of us to fill as we chose. It's like all the giddiness from that first year of marriage flowed back as we ran through the rain into the movie theater to catch the new Avengers movie, and we laughed together easily and talked animatedly over the ending of the movie as we went to "our" place to eat (Leatherby's).

And it was just good, ya know? It just felt right and necessary and rejuvenating to spend that time working on that most important of all relationships--our marriage. Before we had Raven, "working on the marriage" never really seemed like something we needed to do because our relationship was developing organically, and we had plenty of time and energy to spend only on each other. But now I get it--I get why people say that you have to be careful to not let the baby take center stage all the time--that you have to work on the initial relationship and love that made that baby happen in the first place.

So while we might not be getting back to our weekly just-the-two-of-us dates for awhile, I think we will start making "dating" a higher priority than before.

And that makes this new mama pretty excited.

 (Pics are of the anniversary flowers Matt gave me and of us with Raven right before dropping her off with my in-laws)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Baby Raven: One Month


Hard to believe that we've all survived one month already, but here we are, and I've got to say--

This baby gets cuter every day.

(But I'm a little biased.)

Quick Stats:
Height: about 22"
Weight: 10 lbs.
Eye Color: blue (and we think they just might stay that way)
Clothes Size: She's starting to outgrow a lot of the newborn clothes (and has definitely outgrown NB diapers), and is wearing almost exclusively 0-3 month clothes



Who She Looks Like:
Basically everyone has decided that she looks as much an equal blend of both of us as like neither of us (if that make sense). I know she definitely doesn't have my mouth, and the fact that she has any hair has Matt written all over it. I'm also getting excited because her eyelashes appear to be getting a little longer every day, so I have high hopes that she might have inherited her daddy's gorgeous long, dark eyelashes and not my stubby blonde-ish ones. Things she definitely has gotten from me: her hands (complete with long, piano-playing fingers), the separation of her big toe from the rest, and possibly her eyes. 
   
 Likes: 
  • Looking around when she hears her mama's voice
  • Having her hands up by her face 
  • Getting a fresh diaper (I think she's dainty and can't stand it when the messy diaper is touching her)
  • EATING
  • Staying up for several hours at a time during the day (she has stayed up for 5 hours straight on multiple occasions)
  • Holding her head up and looking around (she's had an incredibly strong neck from the beginning)
  • Kisses (sometimes)
  • Being held
  • Hearing Daddy sing to her (and listening to Mom play the piano)
  • Smiling and chuckling softly to herself right as she drifts off to sleep (and sometimes, the little laugh startles her and wakes her back up, which is hilarious)
  • Bath time 
  • The sound of the blender, vacuum, shower, and lawn mower
     Dislikes: 
    • Getting her clothes changed
    • Being put down for naps during the day
    • Taking the binky if she's even the least bit hungry
    • Getting kissed if she's even the least bit hungry (and she'll let you know by screaming and trying to latch onto your nose)
    • Tummy time in general
    • Having her arms swaddled down

    Milestones Reached:
    • Rolled over from stomach to back at 4 days old (but doesn't do it as much anymore now that she's bigger, but she still can)
    • Has slept at night for a 5-hour stretch (woo hoo!) at least once (maybe more, but I don't remember), and sleeps regularly at night for 4-hour stretches
     General Thoughts:
    As far as sleep goes, Raven's kind of funny--she doesn't really like to sleep much during the day (we'll usually get one really long 3-hour nap out of her and maybe a couple 20- or 30-minute stretches), but she actually does pretty well at night and will sleep for 3-4 hour stretches throughout, so we definitely can't complain about that. We've also gotten lucky in that she doesn't spit up very much, and when she cries, it's usually for a reason. She's extremely active and strong for her size overall, and we're honestly thinking she might be able to roll the other way (from her back to her stomach) within the next month if she keeps up the rate she's going.

    She's taken to breastfeeding like a champ for the most part (although her latch isn't quite there some of the time and I have to intervene), and I was pleased with how well nursing went from about day 2. I had heard so many horror stories about how hard and awful breastfeeding is for so many women, and so I had literally been praying for weeks before her arrival that I would have a good experience with it and that I would be able to feed Raven that way exclusively. I feel really blessed that those prayers have been answered, and I really enjoy nursing a lot of the time--I find it to be a good built-in bonding time between me and Raven.

    So, even though I've had some complications from my end with my body, Raven is developing perfectly and bringing us so much wonder each day. 

    Can't believe how time has flown---one month already.

    Holy smokes.

    Monday, May 11, 2015

    My First Mother's Day as a Mom


    Yesterday was my first time being a mom myself on Mother's Day. And you know what I decided it was like?

    You know when you first get married, and you're super conscious of the fact that you have a new last name? And that, despite that fact,  sometimes, when you're not thinking about it very carefully, your finger still looks for your old last name when asked to find yourself on an alphabetized list?

    I decided that being a mom for me is like that right now--on the one hand, I'm constantly aware of it because it's so new and all-consuming and exciting. On the other hand, I'm so not used to it that sometimes I catch myself thinking, "Oh yeah--I'm a mom now, too. I've joined the ranks."


    And it's also kind of like how I felt on my mission--that at the beginning, I was just acting like a missionary but didn't really feel quite like I was matching up with what the vision in my mind was of a Missionary with a capital M--I feel like I still need to experience a whole lot more of motherhood before I can feel like Mom with a capital M.

    But with each blowout I wipe up, each 3 A.M. feeding, I'm getting a little closer :)


    I will say this though--motherhood surprises me every day.

    It surprises me how I can simultaneously rejoice at how many consecutive hours my baby has slept for while at the same time miss having her in my arms and trying to get her to smile.

    It surprises me how much I think about her when I'm away from her, wondering how she's doing.

    It surprises me how in the middle of the night, even though I'm out of my mind with physical exhaustion and am trying to make sure I don't drop her as we walk out to the living room together, I still have the presence of mind and the desire to smile and coo at her--despite the fact that she's just woken me up for the third time in six hours.

    It surprises me how natural the love comes--how this deep well within of nurturing and caring and protecting just bubbles over every time I look into Raven's eyes. It was a type of love I wondered if I would ever feel, and a love that came up so naturally that I can almost not remember life without it.

    I feel like I expected all this . . . but the real thing is so much more.


    More than anything, perhaps, motherhood is teaching me daily to appreciate even more the two people who made my being a mother possible--my own mother, for giving me life and for teaching me the value and joy and worth of becoming a mother--and my husband, for helping me to create our beautiful daughter who is ours forever. 

    As I see the love in their eyes for Raven and for me, it's like a part of me fills up that I didn't even know was empty.

    What a privilege to be a part of something so much bigger than myself.


    Thursday, May 7, 2015

    Four Years in Numbers



    4 years of marriage,

    2 college graduations,

    7 vacations,

    6 jobs, 

    1 marathon,

    8 church callings,

    2 apartments,

    5 major purchases,

    and

    1 perfect baby girl.


    It's been a blissful four years together Matt, 
    and I can't wait to see what "numbers" are ahead of us for the next four years --

    Here's to eternity with you!


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