Hi friends! We've had a super busy week with lots of family in town and Avery's 2nd birthday. I plan on writing up a post about her birthday party when I get some time, but for now, I just wanted to pop in and share a fun new workout I put together over the weekend. It requires no equipment and incorporates a little bit of everything - cardio, lower body, upper body, and abs. I sped through this workout in about 20 minutes, taking a rest break only between the two pyramid sets. It's a sweaty one!
Icemaggedon was upon us this past weekend. It all started with a little dusting of snow on Saturday morning, which then quickly turned into freezing rain and resulted in ever accumulating layers of ice all over Portland. Flights in/out were cancelled, roads were closed, businesses shut down, etc., which forced us to stay home aaaaaalllllll weekend long. This was REALLY hard for my stir-crazy, type-A self who approached the weekend with a lengthy to-do list (which did not include being stuck at home for two days). Avery has some of my personality in that she gets stir crazy pretty quickly too, so this weekend I had to shift my focus away from my to-do list and onto finding ways to keep my toddler busy indoors. Here are a few ideas that work well in our household.
1. CAR WASH. 1 tupperware container containing water + 1 empty hand soap bottle filled with water and a little dish soap + 1 old toothbrush + 1 old kitchen towel = 1 squeaky clean set of toy cars.
2. PLAY DOUGH SURPRISES. What toddler doesn't love play dough? For a fun tabletop activity, I like to hide small toys (or a chocolate coin if I’m feeling generous) inside balls of play dough and have Avery open them to reveal the surprise inside. This activity is a gem because it keeps her busy for at least half an hour, sometimes more.
3. ART PROJECTS. Messy, for sure, but it helps my sanity to keep the mess art contained to a small area. I block off the entrance to our kitchen so that I only have a small portion of wood floor to clean up when it’s all done. Pretty easy. And to be honest, we could have made this even easier by skipping the markers, stamps, and stickers because all Avery really wanted to do was bedazzle everything in glitter (a girl after my own heart).
4. PEELING. Whenever I have a manual peeling project to do, I put Avery in her high chair and let her go to town. She LOVES peeling hard boiled eggs, small oranges, bananas, etc. This weekend, I gave her a dozen hard boiled eggs to peel for a casserole I was making. 40 minutes later I had 12 peeled eggs, ample time to assemble dinner, and one very proud toddler. Bonus - peeling is a great fine motor activity.
5. GROWING ANIMAL CAPSULES. I buy a pack of these every time I go to the dollar store. They are cheap an amzing. There are 12 capsules in a pack and when you put them in warm water, the capsules dissolve to reveal a foam animal inside. There is so much you can do with these things - try to guess which animal is going to come out, name the animals, name the sounds they make, match the animals to the pictures on the box, etc. Avery and I could do this for hours (toddler hours = lots of minutes).
6. DRY-ERASE ACTIVITY BOOKS. Whoever thought of this idea is a parenting genius. I can work on all kinds of educational stuff with Avery like tracing letters, learning numbers, identifying shapes and so forth while she stays engaged because she gets to draw all over the book we are learning from. AND THEN we get to erase it and do it all over again. It’s a bonus that she loves the erasing part too.
All in all, it turned out to be a great weekend. I had so much fun spending relaxed, quality time with Avery where we just got to focus on playing and nothing else. It was a good reminder for me to slow down and step away from my to-do list once in a while.
It has been FRIGID around here over the past few days. Like bitter, bone chilling cold. It's weird because when we lived in Alaska, I could easily go for a hike in 0-10 degree weather and be just fine. But here in Oregon, temperatures in the teens and twenties somehow feel much colder. Maybe the moisture content in the air is different? I don't know. All I know is I have been freeeeezing over the past few days. I've been drinking hot chocolate like it's my 9-5 and have had zero motivation to get outside for a workout. I think the only thing that inspired me to take off my fuzzy socks and get some exercise this week was knowing that it would warm me up. I ended up doing a couple of HIIT workouts in the garage, my favorite of which I posted below (as a winter themed graphic, naturally).
Once I was all warmed up from and had my post-exercise endorphins on board, I started reminiscing about how this cold spell makes me miss Alaska. It was actually two years ago, right around this time, that we saw the most incredible northern lights display up there. It was a very cold, clear night. Just a few days before Avery was born. We got a text from a friend telling us that the northern lights were out, so we headed outside at 3 am to check it out. We stayed out for over an hour just watching them dance around. Hands down, one of the top 5 most amazing things I've seen in my life. Here are a few photos we captured that night:
It was most definitely worth braving the sub-zero temperatures. Now if only Oregon offered some kind of reward for this bitter cold we're having...(cue snow dance)
Hello and happy 2017! For whatever reason, New Years Eve is one of my least favorite holidays. Maybe its because it signals the end of the holiday season? Maybe its because I really don't like staying up late? Or because I'm a champagne hater? Actually, it's probably because you can't re-use new years decorations (yes- I'm the gift bag re-user type). Either way, I prefer to keep things low key for NYE, and that's exactly what we did this year. We spent the evening with a few close friends, playing card games and having sing-alongs with Avery. I did make an effort to be festive by putting Avery in a sparkly new years dress. See photo below for the outcome of that venture.
Once Avery was back in her comfy clothes, she was more than happy to smile for photos.
We did actually have a great time this year. Part of me is feeling a little bit of the post-holiday blues now that all the festivities are over, yet the other part of me that is a creature of habit is enjoying having my regular routine back. One last thing before moving full swing into 2017 - a recap of the last week from my #joyfudecember2016 photo challenge:
Avery is creeping up on the ripe old age of two, and since kids under two fly for free (as a lap child), we have really tried to take advantage and do a lot of traveling this year. As part of that mission, we went down to New Mexico to spend Christmas this year with family and friends we hadn't seen in a long time.
Let me start this story by saying that taking an almost 2 year-old on an airplane as a lap child is borderline crazy. 60% of your time is spent cycling through various sources of entertainment/snacks, 30% trying to hold the child's legs to prevent kicking other passengers/the seat in front of you, and 10% is spent trying not to lose your mind. Although somewhere in the mix, there are snuggles, and snuggles make everything alright.
Brandon's parents live in New Mexico on a ranch, which was so much fun to have Avery experience. Every day, we went out and visited the animals, rode grandpa's tractor, and of course took selfies on the hay bales.
Another highlight from the trip was going to Old Town Albuquerque and seeing the luminarias. Luminarias are paper lanterns that are traditionally set out on Christmas Eve (the history of which I'm not sure about). They are popular all over the state of New Mexico, but Albuquerque and Santa Fe are known to have the best luminaria displays in the state. I remember Brandon taking me to see them the first Christmas after we got married, so it was really special for us to get to bring Avery to see them this time.
Amidst all the Chirstmas festivities, spending time with family and friends was definitely the best part of the trip. I have about 240 photos of us with family/friends, but I'll just post my favorite one...
Is your heart in a puddle on the ground yet? Merry (belated) Christmas everyone!
Oh, and here is a recap of my #joyfuldecember2016 photo challenge from the past week:
Day 19: Random acts of kindness. Today at the grocery store, the person in the checkout line behind us caught my munchkin eyeing some little elephant bracelets on display. He quickly pulled out some cash and handed it to me, saying "Please take this. I'd really like to buy her a couple of those bracelets." The crazy part? I had JUST put the exact same amount that he handed me into the Salvation Army bucket at the store entrance.
Day 21: Working out at home.There are SO many reasons I would rather exercise at home than go to a gym, the primary one being more time spent with my munchkin. Today, she delivered me a play dough ice cream cone as a post-workout snack. And totally solidified my love of working out with her by my side.
Day 22: My parents as grandparents. This transition was weird for me at first because the "grandparents" label made it feel like they were so old all of a sudden. But the truth is, becoming grandparents has brought out a youthfulness and energy in them that I hadn't seen in a long time. The love they pour into my munchkin and the incredible relationship each one has developed with her brings me a kind of joy I'd never experienced before having a child.
Day 26: Healthy eating. Don't get me wrong, I have been loving all the holiday indulgences. But my body always tells me when it's time to get back on track when I start craving fruits and veggies BADLY. So today, I loaded up my grocery cart with healthy goodies that I'm reeeaaaally looking forward to digging into this week.
Today's blog post is inpsired by my day 18 photo challenge:
Something that has really taken me by surprise as a parent is how much enjoyment I get from experiencing events/activities through my toddler's eyes. Things like Christmas morning, visiting the zoo, or getting ice cream from the ice cream truck were all such incredible experiences for me as a child, and now as a parent I find myself getting just as excited over sharing these things with Avery.
The night before we opened our Christmas presents, I had insomnia like crazy because I could hardly wait to see the reaction on Avery's face when she opened her gifts. I remember that giddy anticipation from my childhood well, but I honestly didn't expect it to return to me as an adult. But it has. I get so excited just watching Avery experience all the things I loved as a kid. Her enthusiasm sparks an enthusiasm in me that makes everything feel new all over again. It's hard to explain, and it's honestly something I never understood before becoming a parent. But it's so true when they say that one of the joys of being a parent is getting to see the world again through a child's eyes. I like the way Ralph Waldo Emerson sums it up: "The world when seen through a little child's eyes, greatly resembles paradise."
On that note, lets get right along with a recap of my photo challenge over the past week...
It's been in the 20s and 30s over the past couple of weeks, so today's high of 45 degrees felt almost tropical in comparison. Almost. It necessitated outdoor activitiy nonetheless. Avery and I started our day by riding the bus to the grocery store. For my 2 year old, riding the bus is equivalent to riding the best roller coaster at Disneyland. While eating ice cream. With fireworks going off in the background. And glitter falling from the sky.
I know she doesn't seem as excited in this photo as I made it sound, but I chose to post this one because at this particiular moment, Avery was staring at the bus driver and every once in a while would turn and eagerly ask me when he was going to say "move on back" (Wheels on the Bus reference....anyone....?) We had a blast, and by the time we got back home, she was more than ready for her nap. I took advantage of the "warm" weather and did an outdoor workout while she slept.
As for my December photo challenge, here is a recap of last week:
Superset workouts have been my jam lately. What is a superset you ask? By definition, a superset is completing two exercises in a row without rest. There are different types of supersets, like those targeting the same muscle groups, those targeting opposing muscle groups, and those that involve exercises targeting completely different muscle groups. Supersets are commonly used in bodybuilding to maximize muscle gains. Like HIIT workouts, they also incorporate short bursts of high intensity exercise, but their focus is more on muscle strengthening.
The gym is a great place to do supersets because weights are a key component in strength training. That being said, you can also use your body weight pretty effectively for strength training. I've been experimenting a lot with bodyweight supersets at home, and came up with the workout below that requires no equipment.
This particular workout targets the same muscle groups, so you will definitely feel the burn. It took me about 20 minutes to get through the whole thing. Next time, if I'm feeling super ambitious, I'll try for 2 rounds. Enjoy!
I think anyone who has ever A. had a toddler or B. tried to take posed photos of a toddler can relate to our struggle in getting a family photo for our holiday cards this year. We went to a portrait studio over the weekend to get the photo, during which Avery managed to smile a total of ZERO times and instead spent most of her time trying to bolt out of the studio. She was not having it at all. Plan B was to try and take the photo in our living room since Avery would be in a familiar and comfortable environment. Here is a glimpse of how that went down...
Seeeeeeeveral, and I mean SEVERAL attempts later, we were able to coax a smile out of our wiggly toddler by throwing her up into the air and catching her just in time for the self timer on the camera to go off. The result: a family photo that is not professional quality, our child is neither looking at the camera nor sitting still, but everyone is smiling! Parenting win. Oh, and she actually kept the hair bows I made her in her hair. Double win.
On another note, here is a recap of my December photo challenge for the past few days (I post all the photos on my Instagram).
Today, I'm kicking off an Instagram photo challenge. Every day in December, I have to post a photo of something that brings me joy. Why? Because when I think of what Christmas means to me, the word that instantly comes to mind is "joy". Of course, there are a lot of other emotions that surround Christmastime. There is anxiety in the hustle and bustle. There is stress in trying to get all the holiday shopping done on time. There is sadness in family memebers missing from the holiday dinner table. And so forth. Sometimes its hard to find joy in this season amdist all the other emotions, but for me, joy is what Christmas is all about. So this year I'm making a concerted effort to focus on my true meaning of Christmas. In the spirit of that, here is my day one photo:
This dimple-faced munchkin brings me insane amounts of joy every single day. Her wonder, her playful spirit, and her enthusiasim for life are daily doses of hapiness for me. I had NO idea going into this parenting thing how much joy a child could truly bring you. When she wakes up in the morning, I either hear her singing, telling herself a story, or calling out "mooooommmy....wanna go pwaaaay". How can that NOT put a smile on my face to start each day?
Please feel free to play along with the photo challenge in the comments!
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.