Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Yarn Along: Jury Duty Edition

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! 
~Ginny at Small Things

Moose's birthday party was over the weekend and, with the whirlwind of preparations, I didn't expect to have much to show for myself today.  BUT, I had to report to jury duty on Monday and the end result was a landslide of knitting and reading!

To be clear (and avoid any perception that I am slacking on my civic duty), I was not knitting in the jury box.  The majority of Monday was spent in the jury assembly room (think airport waiting area and you've got a pretty accurate mental image), where I finished the Christmas hat I shared last week and got some good work done on an Oaklet Shawl (right) I'm working on for a friend (shh). Yesterday I cast on (and made great headway on) another Vintage Sweet (left) in the same super-soft Cotton Supreme as the purple Christmas hat.  It's wearer isn't due until the end of December but is being induced today to avoid a lurking potential complication.

I also enjoyed some reading time in between monotonous rows of the Oaklet's main part and got underway with The Billionaire's Vinegar .  I am reading it for my IRL foodie book club and it is a great read for anyone with even a vague interest in wine and an appreciation for a good mystery: it is the story of the sale at auction of a bottle of wine alleged to have been owned by Thomas Jefferson.

Oh, and in case you couldn't guess, I ended up being "struck" as a juror.  Just in time for my normal Wednesday at-home day with Moose and Mouse!  I'm not even remotely surprised: while I practice elder law and estate planning now, once upon a time in law school I interned at the ATF, which means I don't expect any defense attorney will ever keep me on a criminal jury.

What are you knitting and reading?  Come join the sharing at Small Things

Disclosure: this post contains an Amazon affiliate link.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Yarn Along: Christmas Knitting

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! 
~Ginny at Small Things

I am in the midst of some Christmas knitting.  Mostly of the hat variety (yes, really).  This Miranda hat is for a friend's daughter.  Although I bought the Cotton Supreme yarn I'm using largely because it was crazy on sale, it has turned out to be crazy soft, too.  Win win!  I'm also modifying my favorite Adventure Hat pattern to make complimenting Christmas hats for Moose and Mouse.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that before getting a good photo of the hat-in-progress on our Christmas tree, I managed to drop the ball of yarn down through the branches, where it got royally tangled up.  So artsy though it may be, I do not recommend if you are clumsy like me.  Or at least not until you've had a cup of coffee!
I am currently bookless.  Was contemplating starting Life of Pi but now I'm not so sure.  The last week has been emotionally trying (Moose keeping up the tradition of being a jerk on his birthday, stress of Thanksgiving, preparing for Moose's birthday party, and some questionable health news) and I think something lighter may be in order.  Any suggestions?

What are you knitting and reading?  Come join the sharing at Small Things

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Yarn Along: Back With a Hat (Big Surprise)

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! 
~Ginny at Small Things

I know.  You're stunned.  Another baby hat.

After weeks of picking at Mouse's baby blanket (2.5 balls to go!) I realized that Moose's teacher's last day before she goes out on maternity leave is tomorrow.  Eek!  So I picked up this really pretty skein of Cascade 220 Superwash in "Princess Pink" at my LYS and frantically cast on a roll-brim beanie Adventure Hat.  I think I'll finish in time - I'm starting the crown now.

When I'm not falling into bed at night, I'm getting lost in The Language of Flowers after the kids go to sleep.  It's the story of an orphan finding her way in San Francisco after "aging out" of the foster care system.  While we all know I usually prefer historical fiction (this departure is for my neighborhood book club), the Victorian philosophy of the flowers' meaning (and somewhat mystical power) woven into the story keeps me riveted.  And I'd be lying by omission if I didn't admit that the protagonist's being an orphan didn't grab at my heart and make me want to run into Mouse's room just to hug her.

A small additional note: this is my 100th post.  If this is your first time visiting, or if you've been with me from the start, a very warm thank you for stopping by and spending some time with me in this little space. 

What are you knitting and reading?  Come join the sharing at Small Things

Disclosure: this post contains some affiliate links.

Monday, November 12, 2012

High Five {Mindful Mothering Mondays}

Moose loves to mow the lawn.  Not for real, of course, but I think he thinks it is for real.  He informs me, very seriously, most mornings that he needs to mow the lawn and, despite the mid-40s mornings we've been having, dons his rain boots and jacket and gets down to business.

Each "mowing" session lasts 15 minutes at most.  He returns, pink cheeked and excited to show me his work: when the dew is still on the grass, the lines he's made with his toy lawn mower are visible. 

"Mom, look what I did!"

I dutifully ooh and aah from several angles (from the window where the above photo was taken; from the patio door).

"Mommy, high five!" It's not really a question.  I happily oblige.

If I had to guess, Moose's love language is words of affirmation.  There are lots of high fives in our house: after cleaning up toys, after successfully using the potty, after helping burp his sister.  He asks for (demands) them and, when he doesn't, I offer them. 

And I am learning that by prefacing a request not just with please, but by telling what a good job he did at that request previously, Moose and I butt heads (or antlers) much less frequently.  He's still a toddler (or does it make him a preschooler since he's about to turn three?), and a boy, so I still get plenty of "no"s.  But when it works, the little extra time it takes to ask him in his "language" is small compared to the effort involved in otherwise doing battle.

The bonus is that I've been getting a lot of "good job, Mom"s from him.  Which makes my heart smile, because my love language is words of affirmation, too.

Looking to be uplifted on a Monday? Hop over to Lyida's for more Mindful Mothering Monday stories:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fitness Friday: "Modify" is NOT a Dirty Word


The above is what I think I look like doing Pilates.

But a lot of times, I suspect this is what I actually look like:
A tummy rub, can I PLEASE get a tummy rub?

How to get from here to there? Modify!

"Modify" almost seems like a dirty word in exercise.  A concession.  A cop out.

But it's not - or at least it doesn't have to be! The right modifications can be a gateway to a more difficult move that may be intimidating all on its own.  Or they can make a workout accessible during recovery from injury or illness (of course, check with your doctor first!).

What brought this subject to mind this week was doing some tough ab/core work as part of my October-in-November Blogilates Challenge.  I'll confess that I dread lower ab work to begin with, and after my recent downtime, I was feeling the work (i.e. pain) in my low back more than in my abs.  Cassey suggested a few perfect modifications that enabled me to get through the routine, get a great burn, and finish feeling accomplished rather than deflated.

So today I'm sharing some of my favorite modifications.  Try these suggestions to help you climb your way to the next level of fitness.

1) Burpees - Burpees or squat thrusts are a GREAT cardio move and feature heavily in a lot of HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts.  Because they're so effective, they're also really, really TOUGH!  Rather than jumping head-first, try modifying by stepping back instead of jumping back into plank, as demonstrated in the below video.  It will help you avoid injury (and nagging defeatist feelings).

A different burpee modification I've used is to place my hands on a tall step or chair seat instead of taking them all the way to the ground.  By keeping your head above the level of your heart, it's a little less shocking on that cardiovascular muscle.

2) Corkscrew - the Pilates corkscrew is a fantastic move to work the lower abdominal muscles.  It can be tough on your low back when you're starting out (or restarting, ahem).  Bending your knees (shown in the below, full-length ab routine at 00:42) takes the pressure off of the low back and hip flexors while still torching the low abs!   

A more general lower ab modification is to place your hands under your glutes to give your low back a break while you're building that lower ab foundation.

3) Slow down - across the board (from mountain climbers, to Pilates roll-ups), when my fitness level is not up to par, simply taking things at my own pace can see me through the tough spots in a workout.  Learn to temporarily tune out an instructor's count, and concentrate on form.  You may only get seven repetitions done in the time it takes her to do 10, but you can still get a great workout, protect yourself from injury, and improve over the long run so you no longer have to slow down or otherwise modify.

The key is to use modifications either as an entree to a tough, new move, or when your body needs a break, and then up the ante by doing the full version when you're ready rather than resting on your laurels

What are your favorite ways to modify and still get a great workout?

Image credits: Toni Busch (perfect Pilates); Valerie "ucumari" (Pilates Bear)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fitness Friday: A (Wo)man with a Plan!

Last week, when I shared some tips for starting (or restarting) a morning exercise routine, I left off one of my favorite, more general, fitness tactics - make a plan.  Maybe a plan doesn't work for you if you're a true free spirit.  But, for me, it eliminates the excuse of not being able to decide what workout to do when the alarm goes off.  And, silly as it sounds, it gives me some kind of accountability - even if it is only a box to check.

With this post-baby restart, I couldn't decide on a plan.  I thought about returning to the Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 workout that kicked off this feature.  I was also tempted to make a schedule of the mybarre3 workouts I've been raving about.  Given my recent, alarming Cheez-It consumption, though, I really needed a shake-up: both of variety and intensity.

I've shared before some of the FREE workouts found on the Blogilates YouTube channel.  Seriously - if you haven't checked them out (and even if you're not game for my challenge), you need to!  Blogilates founder Cassey Ho puts out a great workout calendar every month, and I've been tempted to follow along before, but as an East Coast, early morning exerciser, I sometimes didn't have access yet to the new, prescribed workout du jour, and I just derailed.  (Yes, I am that OCD.)

But who's to say I can't break the rules a little and do the October challenge in NovemberWant to join me?  Since October (and, therefore, the October Calendar) started on a Monday, I'll be kicking off this coming Monday, November 5th.  The first workout on tap is the 100 Workout (10 exercises, 10 reps).  I've got my Pilates mat and coffee all ready! C'mon and do it with me:

(Or, if you want to keep current, you could always tackle the Blogilates November Calendar.)

What's your November plan?  Share in the comments below and let's keep each other accountable!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

If I were really on top of my game, my family would be going as the characters from Downton Abbey tonight!

We're not.  Moose is going as a police officer or firefighter (he is a bit confused about the distinction between the two so I bought both dress-up costumes and he can pick when it's time to trick-or-treat); Mouse is going as a pumpkin with the hat I finished awhile back.

I'm going as a princess in disguise.

With so much fun stuff for the kiddos today (and rightly so!), here's a bit of fun for the mommies, too.  I don't know how I managed to miss the BBC's Downton Abbey spoof last year!
Part 1
Part 2 If you were going as a Downton character, who would you be? 

Image credit (as best as I could trace back)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fitness Friday: The Early Bird Gets the Workout

Alarm Clock 2
I've been a (mostly) early morning exerciser since I got married during my second year of law school.  As the years have passed, and responsibilities mounted, I've discovered that, for me, if it doesn't happen first thing, it probably doesn't happen at all.

Which is not to say that I'm all happy and rosy come 5 a.m. when that alarm goes off!

I've fallen off the morning (and therefore, exercise) wagon more than my share of times.  I mentioned the other day that I'm having a tough time finding a new rhythm since becoming a mom for the second time, and this especially pertains to my exercise time.  Despite the fact that Mouse is sleeping beautifully through the night (I swear, I've done nothing different with her than with Moose, who waited until 14 months to give me real sleep), I'm having a tough time conning myself into setting an alarm.

The great irony is that, while I did not have to gain any pregnancy pounds to have my child, I am starting to see and feel clothes fitting a bit tighter now that she's here! (Eek!)

But enough is enough, so today I am sharing some of my favorite tried-and-true ways to get back to an early morning exercise routine.  (As with so much, this is what works for me; my hope is that some nugget will work for you, too.)
  1. Small bites.  If my goal is to get back to waking up at 5 a.m., I may start with 5:45 first and schedule a 20 minute workout.  When that doesn't feel like torture, I dial it back to 5:30 and increase to a 30 minute workout.  Less shock to my system means I'm much more likely to stick with it.
  2. Dress for success.  Yep, this one is almost cliche, but it works for me.  I get dressed in my workout clothes before I go to bed.  Less excuses in the morning, plus a few extra minutes to slurp some coffee!
  3. Fuel up.  I'm not (too) ashamed to say that my coffee maker is set to start up when my alarm goes off.  By the time I'm up, teeth brushed, and contact lenses in, the pot is brewed and ready for me.    If you're not a coffee drinker or can't stomach it on an empty stomach (I used to be in this camp), try a little calorie boost.  A couple of energy chews (my favorite are from Honey Stinger) will help get the juices flowing without doing too much caloric damage.
  4. Start easy.  I know better than to jump right back into a 5 a.m. PlyoX wake-up call when I've been lazy for awhile!  When I'm easing back into the early a.m. routine, I give my body a break and start with a yoga warm-up.  Yes, it means less minutes sweating, but I'm way less likely to turn off the alarm altogether (which would mean zero minutes sweating).  When I don't mind spending the time, there's no better way to start the day than the A.M. Yoga for Your Week DVD (5 segments, each 20 min. with a different focus - e.g. hip openers, twists).  However, when I want to start easy but I still need to get down to business, a good 5-10 minutes (like the below five minute routine from Tara Stiles) does the trick.

What are your best tips to start (and stick to) an early morning exercise routine?

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver

Disclaimer: this post contains a few Amazon affiliate links. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Anchor {Mindful Mothering Mondays}

In case you can't tell from my absence from this space, I'm having a bit of trouble finding my "new norm" since Mouse joined our house.

I returned to work two weeks ago, and while it's just three days a week in the office, because it is my own law practice, I can't entirely check it at the door when I leave to come home.  And invariably, when I walk in the door at 6pm with both kiddos in tow, Mouse wants to eat (regardless of when her last bottle was), Moose wants a snack and to go outside, Daddy M is either just walking in or came home early and is out for a run, and then there's the matter of dinner.

I'm not complaining.  Just stating the challenge.  The beauty this time around is that I know I will find a new rhythm.  I've been on a healthy slow cooker recipe bender.  I've learned to feed Mouse one-handed while I feed myself one-handed.  Some other stuff hasn't come together yet (like regular exercise; or regular knitting), but it will get there.

The one thing I have managed to maintain is a "special game" for Moose on the days we are home together.  The "special game" is the devolution of my attempts at Tot School.  Try as I might, even before Mouse, I couldn't seem to keep up with all I wanted to do with Moose on a weekly basis to compliment what he gets at preschool.  However, along the way, I learned that he loves sensory play and I've managed to keep a cache of sensory play ideas in my brain (and Pinterest) to pull out on the days we stay at home together.

And these "special games" - something he looks forward to - have been an anchor for me as I otherwise seem to drift and bob about.

Sometimes they're impromptu and non-themed (shaving cream, transferring ice cubes between large measuring cups).  Other times, when I've struck lucky at the dollar bins at Target (or similar), I manage to put together a theme (like the autumn one, above).

Whatever the specifics, they all seem to be a hit.

Which means that, wherever else the day goes, I can count at least one success.  And right now that's enough to keep me going - ironically anchored and, therefore, able to sail on to finding a new norm.

Linking up with Lydia for some mothering inspiration to start the week.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy (Review by a Never-Been-Pregnant Mom)

I am beyond delighted to be the seventh stop (and first Luminous Mystery) on Sarah Reinhard's Rosary Blog Tour!
To celebrate the launch of her new book, A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism, Sarah Reinhard invites all of us to spend her blog book tour praying the rosary together. Today, she shares this reflection on the Baptism in the Jordan:
Jesus didn’t need to be baptized any more than he needed to be presented at the Temple when he was a baby, and yet he did. It was an act of humility, though I didn’t fully appreciate it until I broke my arm on my thirtieth birthday.
There I was, with a two-year-old and a great deal of pain, with work still to do and no idea how I was going to get it done. At one point, I swallowed the hard lump in my throat that must have been my pride and sent an email to a few close friends asking for help. I wasn’t even sure how I needed help, but they were only waiting for the okay to come over: within hours, I had a hot meal for my family, the leaning tower of dishes was being addressed, and a cheerful friend was insisting I lay down while she let her girls play with mine.
There’s a lesson for moms of all stripes in this mystery. There’s a great generosity in offering help, but it requires humility to accept help. There’s a beauty in sharing our gifts with others, in offering and giving. There’s an equal beauty, too, in letting others serve and in smiling and saying, “Thank you.”
There’s no need for long explanations, for defenses, for excuses. Look to Jesus in this mystery, and see the joy of the Father’s approval. Look to John, and see the glory of the recognition of the Savior. 
As we pray this decade of the rosary, let's hold all those brave women who have said yes to difficult and challenging motherhood in our intentions in a special way. Don't forget, too, that we are praying for an increase in all respect life intentions as part of our rosary together this month. (If you’re not familiar with how to pray the rosary, you can find great resources at Rosary Army.)

Our Father . . . 
10 - Hail Mary . . .
Glory Be . . . 
O My Jesus . . .
If you're a regular reader here, you know that we were blessed with an addition to our family in late August. 

Um, wait a minute, Vik, I thought you adopted?  What are you doing reviewing a book about pregnancy?

Despite the fact that I did not become a mom through my own pregnancy and physical labor, Sarah graciously asked me to be a part of her blog tour (even though I suggested I might not be the "right" voice to contribute).

Sarah's inclusion of an adoptive mom on her Rosary Blog Tour exemplifies what is wonderful about her new book: it is balm for a Catholic mother's soul, regardless of where she finds herself on the winding road of motherhood.

A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy is a treasure trove of both practical and spiritual tips.  I initially grabbed my autumn rosary (yes, I have seasonal rosaries . . . ) and Mouse and dove into the latter sections of the book dealing with birth (and post-birth).  There, I found Sarah's voice encouraging me, as she does in today's reflection, to accept the earthly help of my friends, and also reminding me to turn to God even (especially!) when the days are long and the nights longer - and suggesting real ways to do so meaningfully despite the fast-moving world around me.

As with her previous writing, Sarah encourages her readers to reach higher while remaining completely grounded, honest and real - there are no guilt-provoking expectations here. 

As the days passed and the newborn fog lifted, I found myself sneaking peeks at Sarah's earlier chapters on conception and pregnancy - a world I have never experienced and no longer expect to find myself in, personally.  I was stunned and touched to the core to realize that many of the emotions and spiritual trials I experienced during the adoption process are mirrored by women going through the physical process of becoming a mother - the uncertainty, the expectation.  I wish I would have had this encouragement during some of the darker days before Moose came home with us, and I can see myself turning to Sarah's words to draw me closer to Mary and her Son should we ever decide that Family M needs a third baby.

Without, I think, intending to, Sarah captured something I've said all along about becoming a mom: regardless of how you do it, it is a labor of love.  Sarah's new book is an incomparable resource for Catholic moms, no matter how you labor. 

You can find a complete listing of the tour stops over at Snoring Scholar.. Be sure to enter to win a Nook (and any number of other goodies) each day of the tour over at Ave Maria Press.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Links: Random as Falling Leaves

Links and things of late that I love . . . because they tickle the corners of my mouth  . . . or stretch my grey matter . . . or touch my heart . . . or make me want to take that last swig of coffee, get up from the computer, and do something special with my day.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cheap Date {Mindful Mothering Mondays}

I always have really lofty plans for enriching activities for Moose - especially so when it comes to sensory bin activities.  And, in most cases, my intentions are far grander than my delivery.  I've scoured Hobby Lobby and sourced at Michaels.  Some of my bins have come to fruition, others are still pipe dreams. 

Particularly lately, with Mouse in the house, too, I haven't found the energy to put a whole lot together.  And between the great outdoors, a growing car and block collection (thanks to friends who have brought little goodies for him when they came to meet his sister), and Mouse to dote on, he certainly hasn't starved for things to do.
But when we woke up last Monday, it was raining, and he had a friend coming over to play.  What to do?

I can't even tell you what inspired me, but I grabbed two clean food storage containers and into each put some rice ($1.27 at the grocery store) in each, some truck erasers ($1 bin from Target), and some puff balls leftover from the Tot Tin project ($1 at the dollar store).  I gave each bin a spoon saved from a froyo treat and a small drinking cup.  Each easily cost $5 or less.

Which means, in bang for buck terms, it was a HUGE success!

The boys scooped with spoons:


They scooped with hands:

They filled the cups (and dumped them out again):

And when the rice inevitably got dumped out on the trays, we got out some front-loaders and dump trucks, and they boys really got to work!
And when they were finished, they argued over who would sweep the floor for me:
All told, the $5 bins bought us about an hour of fun (stopped only because it was seriously lunch and nap time!).

Really, I shouldn't be surprised.  Just last week, I marveled that our ordinary is their extraordinary.  And I think we all have a story to tell about an expensive toy spurned in favor of a simple, free or inexpensive find. 

I would do well to remember that despite the glitz and excitement of the toys on the market today, my little ones are, really, a cheap date, and I should KISS (keep it simple, silly).

Linking up with Lydia and her inspiring friends.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Field Trip {Mindful Mothering Mondays}

Do you remember school field trips?

I do.  Not all of them, but more than a couple.  The Museum of Tolerance.  Camping trip to see Halley's Comet.  Historic reenactment at the Stagecoach Inn.  Many seemed so life-changing and eye-opening at the time, and while some still do (I probably won't see the Comet again in my lifetime) others have been dimmed by the passage of time, and age, and newer or repeated experiences.  But, at the time, they were new and novel - they expanded my horizons.

In the name of intentional mothering, we talk frequently about being purposeful with our kids and planning activities with their development in mind.  But, even so, I lose sight of the fact that what is mundane for me expands my kids' horizons.

Last week I was brave and ran errands with both Moose and Mouse for the first time.  I wasn't overly ambitious: Whole Foods for gripe water and PetSmart for cat food.  But what started as simple became a fantastic field trip for Moose!

Once inside Whole Foods (because, really, who has ever come out of that store with just the one thing they came for?) we found ourselves at the cheese counter.  The friendly cheesemonger offered me a sample of five-year aged Gouda (yum!).

"I want some," Moose declared, and (after extorting a "please") I broke off a piece of mine to share.

"I like that!"

And the tickled cheesemonger hands Moose a small container with about a dozen small pieces of the older-than-my-kid Gouda.

Without pressuring, the cheesemonger then offers a balsamic-infused cheese, and another that is made from a blend of cow, goat, and sheep's milk.  Except now he hands two pieces to me for every taste - one for me and one for Moose.

Moose offers an enthusiastic and unsolicited "thank you" to each.

We end with a two-year Gouda, which Moose declares he doesn't care for as much as the five-year.   The cheesemonger smiles and as soon as we walk away, Moose asks if we can "do it again sometime?".

Next stop is the pet store and before I can even steer the cart toward the cat food, Moose spots the cats available to rescue.  Followed by the fish and the finches.  He recognizes each and moves on quickly.

Until we get to the small mammals.

"Mommy, what's that?"

It's a rat, who obligingly stops bathing and comes right up to the glass to give Moose the once-over.  I explain that it's sort of like a mouse (which he knows from books), and that they're actually very smart and make good pets.  Moose converses with the rat for a good five minutes before we actually make it to the cat food aisle.  We find ourselves returning again on the way to the register.  

Other than the tantrum that ensued when we finally left, I came away with a warm, fuzzy feeling that, without really meaning to do anything other than brave some errands with both kids in tow, I gave Moose a fantastic field trip.  Some day in the not-so-distant future, grocery runs and pet food stops will be mundane for him, but this time it was new and extraordinary.  He expanded his palate and discovered a new animal friend.

And I am beyond pleased that I recognized it as it was happening and slowed down to let him soak in the novelty and expand his horizons.

If you are looking for a Monday pick-me-up, please join me over at Lydia's place for wonderful encouragement in the spirit of the sisterhood of mothering!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fitness Friday: Bar(re)-ing No Further Interruptions

Welcome (back) to Fitness Friday!

Thank you for your patience during my little hiatus from the Fitness Friday series.  As you may have heard, we welcomed home a baby daughter in late August.  I've made no secret of the fact that I'm a mommy thanks to the miracle of adoption.  However, even though my body is not recovering from my daughter's birth, it's taken a big hit from the sleepless nights!

However after a few nights of decent sleep last week (5-6 hours, aggregate), I was itching to get my body moving, but apprehensive about hitting it too hard after the layoff as well as honoring the fact that my body probably wasn't going to have the usual energy with the continued sleep interruptions.

Enter mybarre3!

barre3 is one of my favorite workouts in the ballet-inspired fitness genre that is, happily, becoming more and more popular.  barre3 fuses ballet-inspired toning with yoga and pilates for a combination of balance, strength, and flexibility.

And mybarre3 is the online home of the barre3 exercise method, where subscribers can select workouts of 10, 30, 40 or 60 minutes in length.

Here's what I LOVE about these workouts:
  • They take my tired body and gently work my muscles in such a way that I finish feeling invigorated instead of exhausted.  This is because barre3 doesn't simply focus on cosmetic muscles, but also postural muscles.  This is truly functional fitness at its finest!  (Don't believe me? Check out these great "mom moves" featured in barre3 workouts.)
  • The cardio effect!  Because barre3 employs movements with large range of motion as well as compound toning sequences (upper+lower body simultaneously), they get the heart rate elevated (and burning the Oreos I may or may not have eaten in moments of sleep-deprived desperation).
  • I can access workouts anywhere! Today I worked out in my living room with my laptop.  I've also logged on through the browser on my smartphone as well as the browser feature on my TV!  I remember vacations past culling through my exercise video collection to decide which workouts to take with me - with your log-in, you can workout anywhere without giving up precious luggage space!
  • The workouts at mybarre3 are constantly updated and have different foci so things never get boring.  There are more restorative routines, as well as amped-up sequences, so no matter my mood (or energy level) there's something that always calls out to me.
Because you know I never like to leave you hanging after raving about a workout, I'm delighted to share that mybarre3 is offering a one month free trial (and NO, no credit card is required to try it!).  Enter code b3friendsandfamily (before December 1st) along with your name and email address at mybarre3's subscription page and you're in business!

So which workout will you try first? Some of my favorites are:
  • Turbo in 10 (great 10 minute burner!)
  • Post Baby Bounce Back (great for the muscles you use when you're hauling around a new baby - and a Toddler - even if you're not recovering from labor or a cesarian)
  • Twist (available in 10 minute segments or a full 40 minute workout; I love how refreshed I feel after yogic twists)
Have fun, tell me what you think, and Happy Fitness Friday!

All photos are property and courtesy of barre3.  Nope, I was not compensated in any way for my review - just sharing something I love!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Music for Your Morning

Nope, its not the new Mumford and Sons, but press play anyway!

This song is the first thing I heard over Moose's audio monitor this morning.

One of my favorite things about Moose is how much he loves music.  Even before he had words, he would wake up singing.  Back then, he sounded a LOT like Aerosmith's Steven Tyler (if you don't know what I'm talking about, check out this Two and a Half Men clip of Steven Tyler singing scales).  And it was a lot less cute at 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning.

Mumford and Sons at 7:30 a.m. is a delightful improvement!

To anyone reading this, I wish you a beautiful day filled with music!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Yarn Along: Moving Slowly

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! 
~Ginny at Small Things

It seems like everything I do these days takes me about five times longer than it did just a few weeks ago.  Mostly, I don't mind the time alone with Mouse, or together with Moose and Mouse, with limited interruptions from the outside world (if only it could last!).  But I do feel slow.  I continue to plug along at the baby blanket for Mouse while she snuggles and snoozes in her sling.  It is still 80 degrees here, so I tell myself it's okay that I haven't finished yet . . .

Reading this great post on adult friendship put me in the mood to pull The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis off our library shelf.  I haven't read it since my early college days and, if I'm honest, it feels like picking it up for the first time. I can't get over Lewis's delightfully unpretentious and accessible tone!  Thanksfully, his writing is just as enjoyable in little nibbles, which is the best I can hope for at the moment.

What are you knitting and reading?  Come join the sharing at Small Things

Disclosure: this post contains some affiliate links.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Quick Creamy Greek Quinoa

Would it surprise you to know that my eating has been less than healthy these last four weeks? Sadly, when I am in newborn survival mode, I will go hours without eating, by which point I am so ravenous that I make really poor choices.  Just ask that depleted package of Oreos in my pantry!

In a moment of lucidity (courtesy of a little bit longer stretch of sleep - thank you, Mouse - and only one child at home today), I threw together a few favorite ingredients from Trader Joe's to see how it would turn out.

Since the answer was "yummy" and "satisfying", I thought I'd share here.  Because, really, who doesn't need a quick, filling meal made from (mostly) good-for-you ingredients?

Creamy Greek Quinoa
Makes 4 servings
  • 1c uncooked quinoa
  • 2c water (or broth)
  • 1/2 c Greek-style feta dressing
  • 1/4-1/2c sun-dried tomatoes (drained and chopped)
  • 8oz tofu (or cooked chicken), cubed
  • handful of olives
Cook quinoa with water or broth per package instructions.  Toss with dressing, divide between four bowls (or one bowl and three refrigerator-ready storage containers) and top with remaining ingredients.  Enjoy warm or cold!
Yep, that's really it!

P.S. I actually exercised today!  Stay tuned for an exciting return to Fitness Friday later this week!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Yes as a Compliment {Mindful Mothering Mondays}


Those three little letters seem so hard to say sometimes.  When Moose first came home as a newborn, I was lousy at accepting help with anything. I declined meals and help with laundry.  Daddy M would offer to wash the bottles at the end of the day, and I would fight him to let me at the sink.

This time around, I have been much better about saying yes . . .
. . . to my neighbor's request to bring us dinner.
. . . to a dear friend's offer to pick up some groceries.
. . . to my mother-in-law's suggestion that she hold Mouse while Moose napped so I could catch a few zzz's too.

And, not only has my burden been lightened, but I realized something, too: with my "yes" I am complimenting my loved ones and increasing their joy.

Because "yes" isn't discrete and limited to "would you like some lasagna for dinner?".  "Yes" means . . .
. . . you know my wants and needs.
. . . you are valuable.
. . . you are needed.

I've been pondering this post for weeks, ever since I first shared about the generosity of friends in keeping us fed in our first days home with Mouse.  And lo and behold, I discovered that a favorite writer of mine similarly recognized the great compliment in accepting an offer of assistance:
What I need to remember, though, is that it is a great blessing to allow others to minister to us.  If you've ever gone above and beyond in helping someone - or if you've ever done something seemingly small and inconsequential only to be thanked as though you've gone above and beyond - then you know the blessing.
 (From A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy )

And all of this has made me rethink how I respond to the things Moose offers me: the calorie-laden Cheese-It, the grubby rock from outside, the used Band-Aid.

Because my "yes" to him validates his fledgling attempts to care for someone other than himself, his opening himself - and his treasures - up to another's opinion.  My "yes" is a compliment and another way of saying to him, "I love you."

With thanks, as always to Lydia for hosting an inspirational start to the week!

(Disclosure: this post contains some affiliate links.)

P.S. Any guesses how many attempts it takes to photograph a toddler holding a Cheese-It without ending up with a blurry picture?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Yarn Along: Happy Birthday to Me!

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! 
~Ginny at Small Things

I turned 33 over the weekend.  I will admit that I've always been kind of a birthday princess.  So while we were too busy with our dear baby girl to put together any kind of celebration, I did indulge in a bit of self-celebration after the fact.

I treated myself to some gorgeous new yarn from my favorite LYS.  The photo doesn't do it justice, but it definitely lives up to its name: "autumn flame".  And even though I still have the baby blanket on the needles, plus some Christmas gifts to do, I couldn't resist casting on the Aestlight Shawl.

I also treated myself to the third Charles Lenox Mystery, The Fleet Street Murders.  Although I'm usually die hard about buying "real" books, I made an exception and bought the e-version this time after I discovered a major perk to my Kindle Fire: I can read virtually hands-free (only one finger needed to swipe to the next page) while cuddling my Baby Mouse (so-called, at least for now, since Moose has repeatedly observed that his baby sister "squeaks"). 

What are you knitting and reading?  Come join the sharing at Small Things

Disclosure: this post contains some affiliate links.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Simple, Sleepy Gratitude {Mindful Mothering Mondays}

How to find a poignant start for a post when I'm so sleep-deprived that I can hardly put two thoughts together?

In following the lead of our Mindful Mothering Monday hostess, Lydia, I am "offering up gratitude for this life, this labor of love, this moment in time":
  • For our new addition;
  • For a sweet Moose who is absolutely enamored with his baby sister, despite the fact that she took us away from him for nearly a week and has been behind more than a few "wait just a minute, Honey" moments since we returned home last Thursday;
  • For a little technological distraction for our sweet, patient Moose
  • For friends and family who have brought us enough food so that I don't have to think about cooking until next week;
  • For the extra day to the weekend and an extra day for Daddy Moose to be home with us before work beckons;
  • And for coffee - which I'm going to go make now.
With thanks, always, to Lydia for hosting an inspirational start to the week!