You guys. It is FINALLY here. Summer in Portland has arrived! My favorite season, hands down. Avery and I wasted no time today in getting into the spirit of summer....
We literally spent all day outside today, soaking up the first of many hot days to come. We played in our little pool, blew up a whole package of water balloons, went for a neighborhood stroll, and got ice cream. It was the most perfect summer day.
Today was the kind of day that inspired me to start my summer bucket list. It's something I've been doing every year since high school. I love the anticipation it brings. I love the idea that I won't forget to do any of the things I've been so looking forward to all fall/winter/spring. And I love the gratification of checking items off a fun list rather than a chore list for an entire season. So type-A, I know. Here is the one I came up with for things to do with Avery this summer:
Please comment and share your summer bucket list items too! In the meantime, I'm going back outside to play....
1. Family movie night
You guys. Friday night was the FIRST TIME EVER that Avery sat through (most of) a movie. We enjoyed over an hour of snuggles in our jammies with plenty of popcorn and blankets. It was amazing. Oh, and the movie was Moana. We all loved it.
2. New sandals
Every time I score an awesome coupon, I waste no time in using it. Enter DSW coupon for $10 off any $30 purchase. I used it this past weekend to buy my first pair of sandals for the season. How cute are these??
3. Oaks Park
For those of you non-Oregonians, Oaks Park is a small but charming amusement park near downtown Portland. It's one of the oldest amusement parks in the country, so you get to enjoy classics like an old carousel and a roller skating rink. We spent a fun-filled Saturday afternoon here. Avery was weary about the rides at first, but after a few rounds we couldn't pull her off the kiddie rides. The nice thing was that it wasn't crowded at all, so she got to stay on the rides round after round after round after round.....
4. Imaginative play
My two-year old is the queen of imaginative play, and I always have a blast participating in the creative games she comes up with. On Sunday evening during dinner, she lined her spaghetti up around her high chair tray and pretended that each strand of spaghetti was a snake. Each snake was affectionately named "Jelly." The Jellys were napping, so we had to be super quiet, but one by one, we snuck up on them and ate them as they slept. Avery burst into a giggle fit each time we ate a Jelly. These kinds of moments with my munchkin are so precious to me.
5. A new no-equipment workout
As I was lying in bed Sunday night, I was conjuring up ideas for my Monday morning workout. I wanted some simple bodyweight exercises that I could do in my garage before Avery woke up, so I came up with the circuit workout below. It really kicked my butt both cardio and strength wise, which made it a winner in my book and worthy of sharing. Here ya go:
Let's talk about fitness when you have a toddler. Although chasing a 2 year-old around is exercise in its own right, I'm the kind of person who need my regular workouts on my time to keep me sharp both physically and mentally. This is why I wake up at the crack of dawn, week after week, to get in a good sweat session before Avery and Brandon wake up. This little bit of morning "me time" always sets a good tone for my day. However. Having a toddler means that NOTHING is absolute. There are days when Avery decides its time to party at 5 am. Or nights when she keeps us up way past our bedtime. Or nights when she sleeps between us and none of us get much shut eye. And then my morning workouts are a bust.
If I still want to get some exercise on the days when my morning workout plan fails, it has to be with Avery by my side. Of course, workouts with Avery are much less intense and include lots of potty, snack, play, and snuggle breaks. But, I have to admit, they are a fun change of pace every now and again. One of my favorite ways to workout with Avery is to put on Toddler Dance Radio (her favorite Pandora station) and have a jam session. We have a dance party warm-up together, and then she continues to dance/sing/totally ignore the music and do something else while I exercise. I like to do one exercise or exercise set per song - its a manageable length because kids songs are typically shorter than "adult" songs. I put together a sample workout to share with you guys below. Enjoy and happy Monday (:
Right now, I’m sitting at my computer with a glass of wine to my left and a scented candle burning to my right. I can’t say life is bad. It’s not often that I get kid-free time to myself like this. Yet I feel incomplete. I feel lonely.
I had this grand vision that I’d get some one-on-one time with my husband tonight and that we’d spend the evening hanging out, talking, and catching up with each other on life outside the daily grind. But he was tired and his grand vision was to relax and watch sports. So my plans changed. I got on my computer and by knee-jerk reflex opened up Facebook, only to see photos of my friends happily hanging out with their husbands. Or at happy hour with girlfriends. Or having playdates with the kids. And it only made me feel even more lonely.
I know that motherhood can get lonely. I’ve read it in every mom blog and parenting book I’ve ever encountered. But it still stings. I want nothing more than to have a long, deep conversation with someone who gets me. In my twenties, I was surrounded by friends in the same stage of life as me. We’d discuss any and everything over long hikes and on park picnic blankets and over cocktails on front porches. These days, I’m lucky if I get to discuss the weather over coffee with a friend once a month.
Don’t get me wrong. I consider nothing more sacred and wonderful than being a mommy. But I’m also still human and I do miss my social life. I miss having someone to talk to about anything that’s on my heart. Sometimes the loneliness makes me feel sad. And bitter. And jealous of other moms whose husbands who are their best friends and do regular social outings and have lots of mom friends.
BUT. I try my best to remind myself that every season of life has its ups and downs. This particular season is one of a limited social life. It’s also a season of snowman pancakes and potty training and frequent visits to the park. Of daily tears and belly laughs. Of endless stories, songs, and pretend tea parties. It’s a time when my little one clings to me and wants me by her side at all times. I have never felt more loved and wanted and needed than by the little person who calls me “mommy.” And it is wonderful. And I know that someday down the road, I will look back and gladly trade every friend I have to get back this time in life.
So maybe the answer is to suck it up, step out of my comfort zone, and finally go to a moms group meetup. Or maybe just be more intentional about making friends with other moms at the park. Or maybe it’s as simple as making more of an effort to call a friend when I feel lonely and actually express that I'm feeling lonely. Its uncomfortable to put myself out there and feel vulnerable, but judging by the number of blogs/articles/books about this topic, I'm sure I'm not alone in this. The last thing I want to do is let this loneliness rob me of the joy and fulfillment that this season of life brings. I know it will be over too soon anyway.
Hey all! We've had a whirlwind month so far, and I have a little catching up to do. At the beginning of this month, we went to Disney World!!
This was a trip I had been dreaming about for a long time. I loved both Disneyland and Disney World so much as a kid, and as an adult I was counting down to the time when I could take my own kids. Since Avery is still so little, Brandon and I went back and forth about this trip for a while. We knew that Avery wouldn't remember it, and had gotten lots of warnings from friends/family about managing a toddler in a crowded and overwhelming place like Disney World. On the other hand, we were eager to take her now so that we could take advantage of the things she'll only enjoy at this age like the characters and kiddie rides. Plus, kids under the age of 3 get into the Disney parks for free. We decided not to delay the gratification and go for it. And so happy we did.
We went 5 days and got the basic package that allows you to visit one park per day, which was perfect with a toddler. Here are some other things I learned about taking a toddler to Disney World...
1. A good quality stroller is a lifesaver. We almost took our umbrella stroller to Disney World for its portability, but SO glad we changed our minds and lugged the big stroller along. It really was a lifesaver. It had a much better sun cover, which effectively kept Avery cool and shaded much better than the flimsy one on the umbrella stroller could have. The fact that it reclined back was also amazing, because it allowed Avery to nap in the stroller while we took turns riding the big rides, rather than having to take her all the way back to the hotel every afternoon. PLUS - see how none of us are carrying a diaper bag in the photo below?? Thank youuuuu stroller storage space.
2. Buy the $22 bubble blower. Everything at Disney is expensive. We are not usually ones to splurge on toys/trinkets, but we were pretty drunk on the Disney kool-aid that first day and ended up buying a $22 bubble blower for Avery. To our surprise, it ended up being the best $22 we spent in a long time. Avery never seemed to tire of that endless stream of bubbles the wand produced. It easily kept her entertained for 20+ minutes at a time while we took long walks between rides or when we were standing in line. Plus, the kids around us got a kick out of it, which made Avery even more inclined to turn it on and make friends throughout the trip. If you splurge on anything at Disney World, seriously, buy the bubble blower for your toddler.
3. Take the grandparents along. We were really fortunate to have my parents along for this trip. It made everything 10x easier, since the ratio of adults to kids was 4:1. The 6 hour plane flight was a breeze, and so were the bus rides every day into the parks, since Avery got to hop back and forth as she pleased between grandma/grandma and mom/dad. Plus, when she napped during the day, Brandon and I took turns with my parents going on the bigger rides. Not to mention it was so much fun to share Avery's unmatched joy and excitement with the whole family. Best decision ever to go with the parents.
4. Avoid the long lines. Standing in line for 90 minutes with a toddler is not my definition of fun. Luckily, most of the attractions had relatively short wait times for us since we went in early May. If you happen to have kids that are below school age, most definitely go to Disney World during the off season. Avoid spring, summer, and winter break time like the plague. Also, utilize the 3 Fast Passes you are allotted per day. Bonus tip - you can get a 4th Fast Pass once you've used up your 3 for the day, so plan ahead and schedule your 3 Fast Passes for the morning/early afternoon so that you can squeeze in a 4th one. I reserved our Fast Passes weeks in advance, and made sure to choose the most popular attractions (i.e. anything Frozen related) and the rides that all of us could go on. Beyond that, we just chose not to wait in any line longer than 30 minutes when Avery was with us.
5. Splash pads are your friend. I guess this one depends on the time of year you go, but in early May the midday heat was already killer. We quickly discovered that each park has a splash pad and letting Avery cool off in them was part of the daily routine. It made a world of difference in her mood to not be hot and sticky, and made for a much more enjoyable experience for all of us.
6. Get groceries delivered to your room. I got this tip from Brittany's amazing blog: www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/need-know-first-family-trip-disney-world/. We used Garden Grocer, which is an Orlando-based grocery delivery service. The fee was only $14, which was an incredible deal, I thought. I ordered us a bunch of breakfast foods and plenty of snacks and water to last us the whole trip. Plus some milk for Avery at night. Saved us a lot of time and money.
Although it can be daunting to take a toddler to Disney, I definitely recommended it. We all had such a blast, and Avery spent pretty much the entire time in an elated state. There are SO many toddler friendly things to do, much more than I had anticipated. With a little preparedness, it really wasn't stressful at all.
Every Mother's Day, our whole extended family gathers together for brunch at Pig N' Pancake. It's a long-standing tradition of 20+ years - always the same place, always the same group, and sometimes we even get the same waitress that served us 20 years ago. This year, as I sat there surrounded by Belgian waffles and those I love most, I had this thought about how fortunate I am at this stage in my life to have so many roles in my family. I am a granddaughter. A daughter. A wife. A sister. A mother. A cousin. A niece. And an auntie.
No wonder this stage of life seems so busy. I'm fortunate to live near a lot of family, so there are a lot of family events, days spent with my grandma, game nights at the parents house, etc. that go on. There are times that all these family events/gatherings make me feel spread too thin. I worry that I don't spend enough time with my friends. Or that I don't dedicate enough time to exercise. Or that I'm yet again falling behind on important projects. But this past Mother's Day, when I was surrounded by all my family, I felt totally fulfilled. I've been thinking about that the past couple days, and trying harder to focus embracing this busy yet fulfilling time in life.
All of my immediate family live near me and are healthy and happy- that is something I don't take that for granted at all. So the fact that I'm busily nurturing my roles as a mom and daughter and granddaughter etc. is a good enough reason for me to let go of the expectation of myself to also be able to do everything else. I may not see my friends every week, but the closest ones are still close to me and have shown me so much grace and understanding (as they are busy with kids/family themselves). I'm also not a perfect mom, or a perfect wife. My house is a mess 80% of the time. Let's not talk about my car. And I'm still working on my 2015 family photo album. But I am giving my best to the people and the things that are priorities in my life, which I've decided is a way better use of my energy than striving for perfection in anything else.
Hope all you momma's out there had a wonderful Mother's Day!!
Sometime after Easter weekend, after indulging in way too much leftover Easter candy, I got the idea to do a sugar detox. I'd say my diet is overall pretty healthy, but l do have a pretty hefty sweet tooth. With all the Easter chocolate lying around, I'd been sneaking sweet treats pretty much after every meal and got to the point that I was even craving something sweet a few times per day. I really didn't like that feeling. So, last Monday, I started on a 5 day sugar detox. Nothing fancy, I just cut out all added sugars. I still let myself have natural sugars like fruit, because I knew that my sweets-loving-self wouldn't make it without at least that. As for all that Easter chocolate? I melted it down and made these amazing brownies to give away to friends/family (one day before my detox, so I could taste them of course): tastykitchen.com/recipes/desserts/milk-chocolate-brownies/
Sugar detox turned out to be hard. I had no idea that some of the "healthy" foods I was eating regularly had added sugar in them. I quickly learned that pretty much all prepared and/or processed foods have added sugar. Bread (even the healthy, organic variety), spaghetti sauce, granola bars, salad dressing, you name it. I had to stick to eating mostly raw foods, which actually wasn't the bad part at all. I ate a lot of fruits, veggies, minimally processed grains, and vegetarian proteins like beans and eggs. The hard part was the cravings. Between the hours of 2-4pm and then again after dinner were the worst. I had this uncomfortable yearning for something sweet to get me out of the natural energy slump of those times of the day, and had to very consciously focus my attention on something other than wanting to eat a piece of chocolate/candy. Sugar addiction is real, you guys. Read this article from Forbes if you don't believe me: www.forbes.com/sites/jacobsullum/2013/10/16/research-shows-cocaine-and-heroin-are-less-addictive-than-oreos/#3281d5042427
Doing this 5 day sugar detox thing really brought to light how much sugar I was actually eating in a day, and how I was relying on it for both comfort and quick energy boost reasons. I'd add honey to my oatmeal or yogurt in the morning. Creamer to my coffee. A piece of chocolate after lunch. A granola bar for a 3pm snack. A 5pm cookie from the sweets tray at work. A small and healthy dinner, so that I could afford a bigger dessert. And some wine in the evening with a nice pairing of dark chocolate. Not to mention the added sugars in the foods I was eating for each meal. YIKES. No wonder the cravings hit me hard. And sometimes made me crash...
5 days doesn't seem like a long time, but it was. There were several times I almost caved. Like the time I had a rough day at work and almost dug into the ice cream tub to feel better. Or when shark week kicked in and I instinctively craved chocolate as a "cramp remedy". But I'm happy to say that I made it. Yeah, I had to sniff the Nutella jar a few times, but I made it. I don't really believe in fad diets, I just did this to bring awareness to myself about my sugar habit. And to help decrease my sugar cravings.
Well, it actually worked.
Even though I wasn't limiting myself anymore, I found that I really wasn't thinking much about sweets this past weekend. I did have dessert a couple of times after dinner, but that was about it. And, surprisingly, it hasn't been too hard to find places to cut back on sugar throughout my day. This morning, I ate waffles with almond butter and no honey and coffee with just milk instead of creamer. Once again to my surprise, I really didn't miss the sugar additions. Healthy changes for the win.
Whelp, it's still raining every day in Portland. What else is new, right?? The good news is, the temperatures are finally warming up, which means I've gotten to migrate outside more and more for my morning workouts. Its a nice change of pace from working out in the garage space. Doing cardio, especially, is so much more fun when I have a little space to run. Can you tell I'm having a little too much fun with this one? I know, I know, I'm such a nerd. Word.
Here is one of the outdoor workouts I did last week in my driveway that was HARD. Much harder than it looks. Aaaaaaand incorporates two new-to-me core exercises that I'm absolutely loving right now: the double crunch and the dolphin raise plank (descriptions below).
Double Crunch. This move is a combination of a traditional crunch and a reverse crunch. It's awesome because it works both the upper and lower abs. More bang for your buck. It looks like this:
Dolphin Raise Plank. One of its many names, anyway. In addition to working the core, you also get a lot of shoulder action with this one. Its definitely easier than than the double crunch, but effective in a different way. It looks like this:
I think this driveway workout is going to be filed in my favorites box because it had my heart rate through the roof and my abs burning like crazy. I have this weird thing about needing to be drenched in sweat at the end of a workout for me to feel like it was really effective. Which is why I'm not a yoga person, BTW. But this workout did deliver.
What an awesome Easter weekend it was in Portland, with two straight rain-free days!! Easter is one of my favorite holidays, both for what it symbolizes and for the festivities that surround it. Naturally, we celebrated all weekend long. We kicked things off on Friday with a pizza dinner and trip to Baskin Robbins afterward for a special treat.
I had boiled 5 dozen eggs the night before (European family. Don't ask), so as soon as we got home from our ice cream date we dove into the project of dyeing them all. Lucky for Brandon and I, Avery was happy to take on all the egg-dyeing labor, so we got to just sit back and watch the magic happen. HA!! Just kidding. We spent the whole time trying to avert egg breaking, dye-spilling, and color mixing disasters. Truth be told, Avery did an amazing job being careful with the eggs and doing things just as we asked for a chance to participate in the action.
Saturday and Sunday were filled with Easter activities too. Between the two days, we ended up doing FOUR Easter egg hunts. This meant lots of time spent with family and friends, which couldn't have been more perfect. It also meant that we were swimming in sweet treats all weekend long, which brought up the same issue that rears its head every single holiday, birthday, and special occasion when you're a parent: the sugar dilemma.
Kids and sugar - what hot topic. Brandon and I have had lots of discussions about how to deal with the sugar issue in our family, and quite honestly we're still working on nailing down a good system. We definitely want to limit the amount of sugar we give to Avery for obvious nutritional reasons. On the other hand, we don't want to ban it altogether and accidentally create a sweets-starved candy addict later in life. So like with everything else, we're trying to find a balance.
Our pediatric dentist gave us some great advice recently about sugar, which we're trying to adopt especially during holiday times like this past Easter weekend. He said: "If Avery goes to a birthday party or there is a special occasion, let her have ALL the candy and sweets she wants, but just for that one day. After that, get rid of it all." He was speaking purely from a dental hygiene perspective, but his advice made sense to us in the grand scheme of things too.
This past Sunday, Avery went to town on SO MUCH CANDY. Like, a cringe-worthy amount. But today, all the candy was gone and we resumed our normal healthy eating habits. And to my surprise, Avery actually understood when I told her she couldn't have candy today since she ate so much yesterday. It ended up being a fairly easy line to draw, and we're hoping that this system will help us as parents to be more consistent in our stance on sugar.
How does your family handle the sugar dilemma?
Hi friends! Hope everyone had a great weekend. I was out of town for a continuing education course over the past four days and didn't make it back until Sunday night, so some one-on-one time with Avery today made for a very happy Monday.
The course I took over the weekend was level II of the American Hippotherapy Association's Hippotherapy Treatment Principles. Our class was a mix of physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language therapists, and we spent 4 full days refining our skills in all things related to hippotherapy (if you're wondering what hippotherapy is all about, read this earlier blog post: www.bettysbalance.com/home/horses-kids-and-a-bit-about-hippotherapy) It was my favorite continuing education course so far. Typically, continuing education courses involve sitting in a classroom and listening to lectures, but this one looked more like this:
Give me horses over handbooks any day. I had never been a horse person before learning about hippotherapy as a PT treatment strategy, so this course was super helpful in boosting my horseman(woman?)ship skills.
There are SO many amazing things you can do with horses to help someone improve their strength, range of motion, posture, balance, speech production, etc. etc. etc., and this course got me all eager to get back to work and try the new things I learned with my kiddos. But I'll save that soapbox for another day...
On a completely separate note, I somehow managed to squeeze in a couple of workouts during my trip and wanted to share one ab workout that was particularly fun. It requires no equipment, since a closet-sized hotel gym was what I had to work with (to their credit, they did have a recumbent bike and a television, which with the addition of some wine sounds like a fantastic way to spend a kid-free evening). Here ya go:
I’m Betty and I live in the beautiful pacific northwest. I'm a mommy. Vegetarian. Wife to a meatatarian. Pediatric physical therapist. Outdoor enthusiast. Enjoyer of fitness/healthy living. Even bigger enjoyer wine and chocolate lava cake. And hoping to find some balance between it all.