I'm a firm believer in that everyone needs to have a happy place. I'm not talking about the cliche state of mind where you imagine yourself going when life gets tough. I'm talking about an actual physical location where you can go to escape stress, relax, rejuvenate, and feel completely present and at ease. Brandon and I had a conversation the other day about our "happy place" in each of the states we've lived in. In New Mexico, Brandon's was a haystack. He liked to sit on top of that haystack to watch sunsets as he was growing up on his parents' ranch. In Alaska, mine was the boat docks on the Homer spit. It had a fantastic view of Kachemak Bay and the mountains/glaciers jutting out of it. This past weekend, we got to take a trip to my Oregon happy place: Seaside.
Seaside is hands-down my favorite spot on the Oregon coast. It's small enough to be walkable yet has everything you could ever want from a beach town - a beachfront promenade, arcade, salt water taffy shop (where you always get free samples), aquarium, beach shops, brewery, hiking, kayaking, etc. etc. etc. Seaside also holds a special place in my heart because I have so many wonderful memories of coming here with my family as a kid. It was awesome to see Avery enjoying the things that I used to love (and still do) in Seaside, and we truly had the best family day that we've had in a long time.
What's your happy place? I'd love to hear in the comments!
Ah, Monday. I tend to feel the most motivated on Mondays when it comes to exercise, which is why I typically tackle my least favorite workouts on Mondays - upper body. Allow me to explain. My favorite type of workout: lower body. There are so many cardio options you can add in when you work out your legs, so I always feel like I get the best bang for my buck with lower body workouts. Next on my list: abs. Because, who doesn't love a six pack? Last on my list: upper body. I struggle to find good bodyweight exercises to work my arms/upper body. There are only so many push-ups and tricep dips a girl can do before she gets bored. And I get bored quickly. One solution I've found - circuit workouts. They are the answer to all my of low motivation, exercise burn-out, and upper body strength training woes. The fast pace and variety of a circuit workout always keeps me energized and engaged. I get a good sweat going and I'm usually done in 30 minutes or less. I put together an upper body circuit over the weekend that was actually (sort of) fun, and of course included push-ups and tricep dips. Here it is:
The other solution I've found to beat my upper body blues is a few pieces of exercise equipment. I'm all about minimalism when it comes to working out, but I have to admit that having some dumbbells and a medicine ball adds variety to my exercise regimen and helps keep me motivated. Okay, okay, I have a jump rope too. And a step stool. But THATS IT.
Guys. I have a new breakfast obsession.
I discovered Kefir recently right before a big winter storm was supposed to hit us. I went to the grocery store to stock up on essentials in case we wouldn't be able to get out of the house for a few days, and apparently everyone else had the same idea. The store shelves were literally empty. I'm talking a big, chain grocery store, yet they were completely out of milk AND yogurt (a winter storm for Portlanders is akin to an apocalyptic event). I need dairy in the morning to survive, so I just grabbed a bottle of Kefir since it was close to where the milk used to be. Best. Decision. Ever.
Kefir isn't called "the champagne of dairy" for nothing. It has a fizzy nature and is just the right amount of tart and smooth. It's basically like drinkable yogurt, but better. Its a much more powerful probiotic than yogurt, its high in protein, calcium and vitamin D, it has anti-cancer properties, anti-microbial properties, AND it's 99% lactose-free. I've been making smoothies every morning for Avery and I using Kefir and she loves it too. We have a system where she gets to pick our smoothie color for the day, and I get to load us up on vitamins/nutrients etc. For example...
Green smoothie = Kefir + spinach + banana + almond butter.
Pink smoothie = Kefir + strawberries + banana + chia seeds.
Purple smoothie = Kefir + frozen blueberries + banana.
White smoothie = Kefir + banana + flax.
I promise this post isn't a promotion or plug for Kefir in any way. Its just that awesome that I felt I had to share. I always buy the plain variety because it's lower in sugar and I can dress it up however I want, but the blueberry flavor has been calling my name and I'm sure it will end up in my fridge in the near future.
It's no secret that "me time" pretty much goes out the window when you become a mommy....with the sweet exception of naps. Aaaahhhh naps. Every parenting book and online forum says that toddlers generally nap until the age of 3. My little one, on the other hand, had different ideas. She stopped napping a little before she turned 2, which left me in the dark about how I was supposed to get anything done. Ever. Because at age 2, a busy toddler needs pretty much constant supervision/attention. It's been a work in progress but I've managed to come up with some ways to squeeze in a little "me time" on most days. Even in the absence of sweet, sweet nap time.
1. Quiet time where nap time used to be. Regardless of whether Avery sleeps or not, I've still stuck to our afternoon nap schedule. This means that between 1 and 2 o'clock, we wind down with some story time in her reading nook and then I put her in her crib. I tell her "it's nap time," give her a kiss, and tuck her in. About 4 seconds later, I watch through the monitor as she kicks the blankets off herself and starts jumping on the bed. She'll talk to her stuffed animals, sing, jump some more, do some weird yoga poses, and so on. She tried to climb out of the crib once, but we nipped that in the bud quickly by moving her mattress to the floor. No way she is scaling a crib wall that is higher than the level of her head (I hope). So while Avery has her "quiet time" in her crib, I take some time for myself to unwind. She usually lasts 20-30 minutes, which is just enough time for me to drink a cup of coffee and get a few household things done. I find that this really helps me get re-energized for the afternoon/evening and allows me to be more present and attentive with Avery. Plus I truly think it's good for her to have some time to herself too.
2. Early mornings. I've always been a morning person, but even more so now. I love the quiet and the solitude of the hours before everyone wakes up. I get ample "me time" in the early morning of 2+ hours during which I can easily fit in a workout, shower, breakfast, and some reading without interruption. It does mean that I have to get to bed early, often right after we put Avery down between 8:30-9:00, but I typically have no trouble crashing at that time after a busy day.
3. Digital babysitter. People have lots of opinions about this one- here's mine: I'm okay with Avery watching a little TV or the iPad when I need to focus my attention elsewhere. I usually let her watch a show while I cook dinner. And drink a little wine in the meantime. Of course we filter what she watches and limit it to educational kids shows (Frozen IS educational, thank you. Very important moral lessons). We also generally limit screen time to 30 minutes or so per day (on most days....). As an added bonus, Avery will generally agree to sit on the potty in order to "earn" her screen time. Win-win.
4. Human babysitter. This one is obvious, yet we find ourselves rarely using this option. Since Avery is with a sitter during our work week, we want to spend as much time with her as possible during non-working hours. The balance we have found here is to let Avery spend one night per month at her grandparents house so that Brandon and I can go on a monthly date night. It's been great for our marriage, and a great way for Avery to bond with her grandparents too.
5. Dedicated relax time. I've really tried to be intentional about taking some time each day to relax. Even if it's just 1-2 minutes of deep breathing (let's be honest, while checking my Instagram feed). I can always find 1 or 2 minutes while Avery plays, or while she is eating in her high chair, or even while she is watching her 30 minutes of TV. Again, it's a way for me to re-set and try to let go of any stress/worry so that I can be a better wife and mommy for the rest of the day.
6. Involving the kiddo. Counter-intuitive, right? Sometimes "me time" takes the form of me sharing something I love with Avery, and it's totally rejuvenating. Don't get me wrong, this is not easy to do. Late night baking with some wine in hand = relaxing. Baking with a 2 year-old = not relaxing. Fun, but not relaxing. It just has to be the right activity. For example, a low key workout. Avery likes to jam out with me to Toddler Dance Radio while we do squats, push-ups, tuck jumps, etc. Sometimes she likes to by my resistance too (see photo below). Another example is going for a walk. They are usually short walks and we typically stop at every fourth rock we see, but its quite refreshing to just be outdoors and see my toddler enjoying something that I love so much.
Any other ideas you guys have would be greatly appreciated! Especially how any "me time" is had with 2+ kiddos....
Our little munchkin has officially entered the toddler years. It was a little hard to find birthday party ideas at this age, being that she is a winter baby. She gets nervous when too many people are in our house, so a house party was out of the question. Too young for bowling, arcade, or an indoor jungle gym (the little ones always get trampled by the bigger kids). Too cold to do anything outdoors. And so forth. After talking to lots of mommy friends, we finally settled on an indoor bounce house place that is specifically for kids under age 5 called JJ Jump. It was fantastic. Adults are allowed to go with their kiddos into each of the bouncers, so there was fun to be had for everyone.
Since our little lady was turning 2, it was only right that she had 2 of everything this birthday. Two birthday outfits...
Two birthday cakes.... (the Humpty Dumpty a birthday surprise to Avery from her amazing babysitter...)
And 2x the birthday presents she got last year...
This birthday was a lot of fun because unlike her first birthday, Avery understood what was going on and was SO excited about all of it. We now spend more time than ever throwing birthday parties for stuffed animals and re-creating the whole experience. This one will definitely be hard to beat next year.
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.
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.