When I couldn’t lift the toothbrush high enough to touch my teeth, I knew I had damaged my shoulder. The cause of the injury was the usual suspect: doing too much, too fast. My newest love in the fitness world, Crossfit, made me feel like I was suffering from a bad relationship: it hurt, but I loved it too much to let go.
With me, exercise is all or nothing. I’m either sweating and pounding my body into exhaustion or I’m laying on the couch with a carton of ice cream resting conveniently on my chest. I’m either letting my BMI creep up to an unhealthy level or I’m giving it everything I have to bring it back down. So when I was introduced to Crossfit workouts through CaliFit Mamas, my first thought was, “There’s no way in heck I could do that.” (Obviously, that was the ice cream talking.) My next thought was, “I’m going to do that.”
Crossfit is intense. Each morning, I’ll read the workout of the day (WOD), and I’ll think, “5 rounds for time of 20 push-ups, 20 sit-ups, 20 deadlifts, 20 burpees, and 20 knees to elbows? Sounds easy enough.” And fourteen minutes later, I’m bent over, trying not to pass out as sweat drips from my face to my shoes like a leaky faucet. Whether it was during a billion reps of burpees or power snatches, somehow I damaged my shoulder last week. Sure, my whole body is sore and achy, but it all hurts so good–except for this wonky shoulder. Between my husband begging me, “Do NOT workout today,” and not being able to lift my arm high enough to apply deodorant, I decided to skip last Thursday’s WOD.
My all-or-nothing mentality was ready to abandon Crossfit. “It just isn’t for me,” I thought. “I’m not tough enough.” But I was so in love with the high that those intense workouts gave me, that I decided to do something rather unheard of for me: I went to the doctor. I felt pretty embarrassed to be there for “exercising too hard.” Surely they had people with real health problems to attend to. However, the doctor reassured me that it was smart to get it checked, and she gave me the simple advice that I needed to hear: keep doing it, just don’t overdo it.
I’m learning to find a balance between all and nothing. I’m backing off on the areas that need a little time to heal without neglecting the rest of my body. I might have to take a rest day, modify the exercise, or reduce the intensity, but I’m not breaking up with Crossfit. And the strength I’m gaining in the process is evident inside and out.
We are almost three weeks into growing our first family vegetable garden, and we are having good results so far. All of the plants that we started over two weeks ago have now sprouted (the green peppers were the last to pop up from that group; just as I was starting to worry about them, they started peaking through the soil!).
Last Sunday, we started our second group of plants which includes two kinds of tomatoes and some lavender. None of those have sprouted yet, so they are still under their plastic “greenhouse” cover. Once they begin sprouting, the cover will be removed, and they will find a sunshiny spot in a windowsill too.
I’ve been researching natural remedies, and I have found that dried lavender is potentially useful for things from digestion/anti-bloating, to keeping your dresser drawers smelling fresh and keeping the moths away (which is a problem I’ve never actually experienced… Does that really even happen?), to a calming aide for better sleep. These uses are all supposedly due to the relaxing properties in the lavender. Of course, be sure you do your own research before you go munching on a bunch of lavender flowers. (I do have a Lavender Butter Cookie recipe from a friend that I can’t wait to use! They are YUM.) This is all knowledge that I’m just beginning to acquire, and by no means am I an expert, but it’s very interesting!
One of the most pressing reasons that we wanted to start a vegetable garden this year is to get back to eating more “real” foods. There are so many digestive issues out there that really can be solved or soothed by simply getting back to the foods that God and his natural creation has provided us. It makes sense, doesn’t it? When humans get ahold of something, we try to alter it, process it, to fit it for our own agenda or convenience, and doing so takes away some of the natural, perfect properties of the food. The more wholesome foods we can get our hands on, the better off our bodies will be. Simple. And what a rewarding experience it will be to get to eat the “fruits” of our labor. 😉
Stay tuned: the next step is to plant these babies (and more) into the GROUND!
Have you started a garden this year? How is it going for you so far? Please share your tips and tricks with us below! I love learning from YOU.
As I pulled on my tennis shoes, I had lovely thoughts like, “I feel great today. The weather is perfect for a nice 3-mile run.” Or “I’m going to glide like a gazelle across the pavement.”
I gave my husband and the boys a quick wave, put on the headphones, and left. I started a fast walk as I fiddled with my iPhone: music on Pandora; tracking the workout with MapMyRun. And I ran.
As I began, my steps fell in sync with the music. “I could run forever,” I thought.
.25 mile later, my breathing started to get ragged. “Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth. I can do this.”
Breathing under control, I turned onto a gravel road and faced nothing but fields and a farmhouse. My legs became heavy, tired. I focused on my arms, imagining they were parts of a machine, pumping and pulling me forward.
The farmhouse was on my right, a small house with several out-buildings. “Probably for storing equipment,” I thought. But I read a book recently about a family of country boys that were buying women and killing them, storing them in buildings just like those. I moved to the other side of the road.
Halfway up a small hill, my calves were on fire. “What happens if they burn right off my body?”
Then I heard, “Distance. One. Mile. Time. Ten. Minutes. And. Forty-Three. Seconds.”
“It’s only been a mile?” I tried to pick up the pace, but my legs didn’t seem willing. “I’ll just do 2.5 miles instead of three,”I thought. And then, “No. Three miles this time. I’m doin’ it.”
Finally, I reached the turn-around point. I paused the app, stretching my calves and catching my breath. A truck rolled slowly over the top of the hill. “Oh great, they’re going to stop and ask if I need help. I probably look like I’m dying.” The truck passed without pause. “Well I guess they’ve never heard of small town kindness. What if I were dying?”
I tapped the Resume button and started running again. “Halfway done. I can do this.”
My thoughts wandered until I heard, “Distance. Two. Miles. Time. Twenty-one. Minutes. And. Fifty-eight. Seconds.”
My calves started to burn again. I felt the back of my ankles tightening. “I can’t do this anymore,” I thought.
The next song started playing: “Die Young” by Ke$ha. I thought about my son. Cystic Fibrosis. Stories from adults with CF, swearing that running is what keeps them healthy. Ke$ha sang, “We’re gonna die young.” I fought back the tears. Pounded fear into the pavement. With each stride I thought, “Not if I can help it.”
When I crossed our driveway, I heard, “Distance. Three. Miles.” I shut it off.
I was finished. I did it. I will do it again. For myself. For my son.
My little guy is now 10 1/2 months old, and looking and acting more like a toddler everyday. He is standing for a few seconds on his own, walking while holding on to furniture, and climbing on everything his short little legs can pull up on. He can crawl across the living room and be halfway up the stairs in less than ten seconds!
His meals are also becoming much more toddler-like, in that we are avoiding purees as much as we can (sometimes those handy pouches like the Sprout or Happy Baby brands are convenient for on-the-go snacks!) and focusing on “real” foods. With this change, I have to repeat to myself almost daily, “I am not a short-order cook. I am not a short-order cook.” Sometimes it can be hard not to let his CF (cystic fibrosis for new readers) get the better of me. With CF, growth and maintaining a healthy weight can be difficult, but it is an important factor for good lung health. Also, once I give him his dose of enzymes (which he has to take before he eats, every time he eats or his body can not process the fat and protein), he only has an hour time frame to eat, and there is a limited amount of enzymes he can take in a day, so if he doesn’t eat well, then I have to wait at least a couple of hours before I can give him more enzymes to eat again. So for that reason, I struggle with the feeding choices. The part of me that is always concerned for his health wants to keep offering him things until I find something that he’s willing to eat. However as his dietician pointed out, doing that is teaching him to be in control of the food, which can lead to unhealthy habits. I know that this is true from experience: my now six-year-old only ate cereal, chicken, meatballs, corn, grapes, and snacks for the first four years of his life. Why? Because I would give in to his pickiness. If he wouldn’t eat the spaghetti and broccoli that we had for supper, I would make him his own separate meal of one of those things that I knew he would eat. Today, he’s a much healthier eater, but I wish I would have been persistent when he was younger about encouraging a variety of healthier foods for him. And so with my 10 month old, I am being persistent. I will give him a couple of options at snacks and 3-4 different foods for meals, and he eats what he eats. If it’s all or most of it, I feel good. If he barely touches it, I worry a bit about him gaining weight, but I don’t give in go through the fridge or pantry, shelling out food after food until I find something that he will eat. I does help me to know that I still nurse him or give some some formula after each meal, but the amount of that is slowly decreasing, and starting next month, we will begin transitioning him to whole milk! Stay tuned for next Munchkin Meals to see how that goes!
So, what does a day like this look like? I’ve taken a lot of pics to show you! (All from my phone, so I apologize about the poor quality. I’m definitely not a professional photographer!)
Breakfast: Whole wheat bagel with cream cheese and a banana. He ate about 1/4 of a large bagel and several bites of the banana, and then I nursed him.
Mid-Morning Snack: Chobani greek yogurt. He has one of these almost every day, because it’s so healthy for him and high in protein. He almost always eats the whole thing like he did with this one!
Lunch: Grilled cheese and avocado (such a yummy combination!) with strawberry slices and a few yogurt drops. He ate about a 1/4 of a full sandwich (and I finished the rest of it!) but barely tried the strawberry or yogurt drops. A pretty light lunch. Then I nursed him again.
Afternoon Snack: Honeydew melon, string cheese, and Annie’s Organic Bunnies cheddar crackers. This was his first time with the melon, but he usually likes the cheese and crackers. However, this particular time he was completely uninterested. I did give him a bottle, for his vitamins and salt intake, but only 4oz, because I do not want him to fill up on formula alone. After the bottle, he ate a couple of crackers, but most of this snack went untouched. (PS-I also realized after taking these pictures how messy our highchair cover was that day! Just keeping it real.)
Supper: I made Creamy Cauliflower Soup (a recipe shared by Allyson at Domestic Superhero, except we used “real” foods instead of the low-fat versions. We need the higher calories and fat for my little CFer!) and BLTs. He was hungry and crabby before the bacon was finished baking (Anyone else cook bacon in the oven?? So much easier!), so instead of the BLT, I made a slice of whole grain toast and spread some avocado on it. He ate his whole bowl of soup (probably 1/2 cup) plus several bites of the toast. I nursed him afterward, and then he was ready for bed! Being so active (and down to only two naps a day) wears him out!
Some days are better. Some days are worse. But I refuse to let the fears of CF run our kitchen. Nutrition with CF-specific supplements will run it instead. And starting while he is young is the key.
Thanks for reading today! Be sure to check out the other Munchkin Meals link-ups for more healthy meal and snack ideas for babies and toddlers!
Happy Feel Good Friday, y’all!
This gorgeous spring weather is bringing me out of the funk that I was in. I’ve learned since my last post (with the help of your comments, thank you!) that even if I seem to be going no where right now, I’m making small steps in many directions. I’m planting the seeds in many areas of my life, and sometimes I just need some patience to allow them to grow and bloom.
Speaking of seeds and growing, we have started growing our vegetable garden this week! Yes, it’s adding one more thing to my sometimes overflowing plate of commitments, but it’s another step in the direction of healthy living for my family, so it is worth it. Not only is growing a garden as a family fun, but it’s educational and gives us some quality bonding time. There are so many benefits in the process of growing a garden that the end result of being able to eat homegrown fruit and veggies is just a big bonus!
This is our second year of attempting to grow a full garden. Though I’ve grown tomatoes and flowers before, our first attempt at a vegetable garden as a family was last year. Although it started out well, May was hot and dry. When it came time to start transferring the three inch tall sprouts outside, we were supposed to leave the plants out during the day and bring them in at night. We had their spot in the yard tilled up and ready for them to be planted in the yard, once they had completed their transition period. However, one Monday morning we left them outside when went to work, but we didn’t come home until three days later! That was when my little one was unexpectedly born! By the time we came home from the hospital, the little green sprouts were dried up and brown. It was a huge bummer, but in hindsight, having to take care of a newborn and learn about the complex disease of cystic fibrosis that he was born with, it would have been stressful to take care of the plants on top of it all last summer anyway.
This year, we are excited to start fresh, and I want to share our gardening experience with you all. I have a feeling that many of you will give me many more helpful tips than I can give you, but that’s one of the best things about blogging for me is not what I can teach you, but what you can teach me. So if you see something we should or shouldn’t be doing along the way in my garden updates, please don’t skimp out on the advice! And if you’ve never grown a garden before, then we are technically in the same boat, and we can float along together!
Close Families Garden 2013: The Beginning
We began with a plan. We decided what we wanted to grow (what we like to eat), bought the supplies, and researched when and how to plant each type of plant. Some required starting them indoors eight weeks before planting them outdoors, some at six weeks, some at four weeks, and some directly outdoors. So I made a list of what and when to plant.
Next we planted the first group of plants. My six-year-old helped a lot with this, and although getting the soil moist enough and using a pencil to make a little hole for each seed was time consuming and messy, we had fun! I let him use a spoon to dump the soil in, help pour the water on the soil, use a pencil to mix the soil with the water and make the hole, and then dropped two seeds in each section. Then we covered the seeds lightly with more soil and sprayed it thoroughly. This first group is broccoli, green peppers, onions, banana peppers, and jalapeño peppers. I used blue painter’s tape and permanent marker in front of each row so that I know which row has which type of plant.
All that’s left to do after the planting (besides cleaning up a big mess!) is to keep the soil moist. We use a spray bottle of room temperature water to spray them lightly once or twice a day as needed. If they get too dry, the seeds won’t start growing so remember to water them!
Just five days after planting, we have tiny little broccoli sprouts popping through the soil! Beautiful!
I also sing and talk to the plants, which my husband thinks is strange, but he plays along anyway. God love him. 😉
After we plant the second group in another week, I will give you another garden update and hopefully we will have a lot more green things growing!
Continuing my Baby Tips for First-Time Parents series from last week, part two covers cleaning (at home and away) and hygiene. Especially this time of year when the flu and other viruses are rampant, this is such an important topic to discuss. I hope you find some helpful hints here. Feel free to share some of your own tips in the comments below!
Cleaning and Hygiene
-Babies don’t need a bath every day. Typically, babies only need a bath every 2-3 days. Any more than that, and it actually dries out their skin! We tend to bathe our baby boy MWF or even only MTh if it seems like three times a week is too often for his skin. If this is a new concept for you, you might have two questions:
- Q: What if we use bath time as part of his nightly routine? A: Everything you do with your baby post-bath time (lotion, putting on pjs, nursing/bottle, rocking, reading, singing lullabies, etc) is your baby’s “bedtime routine.” A bath can be done right before your baby’s bedtime routine, but only 2-3 times/week instead of every day. In fact, it’s a misconception that bath time is relaxing to all babies. For some, it can be. For others, it is exciting! For example, bath time has the opposite effect on our little eight-month-old. He loves splashing, scooting, slipping, sliding, playing with toys, chewing on the washcloth… bath time is anything BUT relaxing for him, because he loves playing in water so much! I give him a bath during the day when he is active and playful, because that’s when he enjoys it most.
- Q: Won’t my baby get dirty? A: Yes! However, your baby’s body will stay relatively clean. Exceptions to this which might require an impromptu bath time might include a super messy sensory/art activity, an exceptionally messy meal (spaghetti!), or a leaky BM diaper (I’ve changed many diapers where it went all down the legs or straight up the back! A bath was a must!). Beyond those kinds of exceptions, the only parts of your baby that get messy daily are the diaper area (which is cleaned each diaper change), face, and hands. For the face, wash your baby’s face after meals and before bed with a warm, wet washcloth to keep it clean daily. As for the hands, that brings me to my next tip!
-Wash your babies hands often! For some reason, many parents tend to forget about washing their baby’s hands. To me, it is essential. Before and after they eat. After diapering (particularly when they start getting grabby with their little hands during diaper changes!). After playing outside. After petting an animal. And generally, anytime their hands look dirty. A lot of parents use a baby wipe to clean their baby’s hands, which is okay to get some dirt off when on the go, but it doesn’t take the place of good old soap and water. Not only will hand-washing help keep your baby clean and healthy, but you’re beginning a lifelong habit that is the number one way to help prevent the spreading germs and illnesses!
-Another way to prevent illnesses is through cleaning. However, not all cleaning products are baby-friendly. When you’re cleaning your home, keep in mind that most babies put everything in their mouths. You wouldn’t want your baby to put Lysol in his mouth, so you wouldn’t want to clean his toys with that either! That’s a good visual to keep in mind, but there are other potentially harmful effects of the chemicals in many cleaning products including eczema, allergies, irritating the airways, and eye irritation. Here are my favorite baby-safe products for cleaning at home:
- Dishwasher. I love tossing pacifiers, bottles, teethers, and any other small toys that can be washed in the dishwasher. It cleans and sanitizes all at once, and it’s super convenient!
- Washing machine. I wash all of the little stuffed animal toys, favorite blankets, and fabric books in the washing machine once a week or more often if needed.
- Soap and water. For toys that can not be submersed in water, I like to fill the sink with warm water and dish soap, use a clean washcloth to wipe off the toys with the soapy water, and then rinse them using another clean, wet washcloth. Let the toys air dry.
- Free and Clear detergents. While baby-specific laundry detergents like Dreft are unnecessary, if your baby seems to have problems with skin rashes, dry skin, or eczema, try switching laundry detergents to one that is free of harsh chemicals or dyes.
- Steam mop. I love the shiny, clean look of freshly steam-mopped hardwood or tile floors. I use the Shark steam mop on our floors rather than a traditional mop and bucket or the Swiffer mop, because it cleans and sanitizes the floor without leaving behind any chemicals! With a baby crawling around on the floor (and sometimes our little guy even LICKS the floor!) all day long, this is a must for me!
-If you do use spray products to clean, avoid using them when your baby is in the same room. When I need to clean the bathrooms, for instance, I clean with the bathroom door closed and/or the fan on during my little guy’s nap or after his bedtime at night. That way he is not being directly exposed to the chemicals in the air.
-I saved my favorite hygiene tip for last because it’s our biggest life-saver right now! Our little guy has a runny nose from a little cold virus right now, and his absolute least favorite thing is getting his nose wiped. Even the softest, gentlest dry tissue product will still make a baby’s sensitive skin around the nose red and irritated when you have to wipe it 10+ times a day! The best way to remove nasal congestion is by squeezing a couple drops of saline solution up your baby’s nostrils and then sucking it out with a nose bulb (keep the one they give you in the hospital! It’s the best one you can get!!). However, my little guy absolutely hates that and will fight and scream and I can barely do it without fear of hurting him. So the next best thing is a product called Boogie Wipes! They are small, wet wipes with saline already in them. They are so gentle that even wiping his nose with them all day long, his nose never gets red or irritated! It also cleans up any little dried bits of snot around the nose all in the same swipe, so it’s quick, convenient, gentle, and even our tissue-loathing little guy rarely puts up a fight with Boogie Wipes!
I hope you’ve found some of this information helpful, or that you can pass it on to some new parents who might!
Be sure to come back next Tuesday for Part 3 of this series where I will talk about some tips for helping your baby reach those first developmental milestones!
What are your favorite cleaning and hygiene tips for babies?
In honor of my sister and her boyfriend who are expecting their first baby boy very soon (and my first nephew!), I wanted to put together a few tips that I’ve learned from nine years of being an infant teacher and 6+ years of being a mom. For first-time parents, caring for a baby can be overwhelming, exciting, nerve-wrecking, and blissful all at the same time. There are so many questions that I had as a first-time parent, and over the years as an educator and mom, I’ve learned the answers to many of those questions. That being said, I still don’t have all of the answers, and these are just a few tips for some of the many, many questions that will arise when caring for your baby for that first, precious year. Please consult your doctor and your own parenting instinct to find what is right for you and your baby. I hope this series of posts works as a good starting point to answer some of the perhaps less obvious or less talked-about questions that arise in caring for your baby.
The topic of today’s post in the “Baby Tips for First-Time Parents” series is one of the most important:
Health and Safety
-When your baby becomes mobile, he needs a lot of practice before he becomes efficient in various motor skills such as sitting up, pulling himself up to stand, and walking. Falls are inevitable. When a baby falls, I would guess that most of the adult population reacts in one of two extremes: either they gasp with a look of worry or panic and rush over to console the fallen baby -OR- they smile, cheer, or clap and say “You’re okay!” with a lot of feigned enthusiasm. Here is a better reaction: do nothing. Maintain a neutral expression so that your baby can decide how he feels about the fall. Then base your reaction on his reaction to the situation. If he is okay, but you panic and your face reads “Oh, no! He’s hurt!” then that will cause your baby to think “Oh no, look at mom/dad’s face! Something must be wrong!” In contrast, if your baby is wailing because they are feeling pain from their fall, but you’re smiling and insisting that they’re fine, it’s not validating their feelings. If we fell and hurt ourselves, how would we feel if someone watched it happen and then was smiling and clapping about it? We would likely feel a little resentment towards them. Babies are smart enough to pick up on these unspoken messages. In fact, they are the only messages that a baby clearly receives, as they understand facial expressions and tones and their corresponding messages long before they are able to understand the meaning of our words. Hence, the best way to react to a fall is to remain neutral until the baby reacts, and then respond according to their feelings. If they cry, console them and validate their feelings: “Ouch, that must of hurt. I’m very sorry that you were hurt from that fall.” Calmly, but empathetically. Repeat the words this way until they calm down. If they fall but come up smiling, then it’s okay to smile back and say, “Yay! I’m glad you’re okay after that fall!” Obviously, if the fall is severe, you should take appropriate emergency/first aid actions. Which brings me to my next tip…
-Consider taking a CPR course that includes infant CPR and first aid. It is unlikely that you will need CPR for an infant, but you want to be prepared in the case of an emergency. I think we all agree that it would be better to know and not need it than to need it and not know. The American Heart Association and the Red Cross are two good options for considering a course. They will also teach you what to do about infant choking, which is the part of the course that you are most likely to need, since most babies explore things by putting them in their mouths. It’s also the only type of CPR/first aid that I have ever had to perform on an infant, with the exception of basic first aid for a few minor cuts and bumps from falls. Having the knowledge to potentially save your baby’s life is invaluable, and I strongly recommend an infant CPR/first aid course to all parents, grandparents, and caregivers.
-Speaking of choking, use an empty toilet paper tube to check items for choking hazards. The simple rule with choking hazards is to drop the object through a toilet paper tube. If it fits inside or falls through, your baby could choke on it, and that object should be kept out of your baby’s reach.
-Have your car seat properly installed or checked. We called and made an appointment with our local fire station before our first son was born to have the car seat installed, or you can use this local “Inspection Station” locator from SafeKids.org. SafeKids also has this comprehensive list of car seat and travel safety for infants (and children of all ages!), including how long to keep the child/car seat in a rear-facing position, where to place the chest clip (at the child’s armpit level), how tight to have the car seat’s harness straps (you should only be able to just barely slip your finger in between your baby and the straps. No slack!), and to never leave your baby alone in the car.
-To keep your baby safe when he is asleep, be aware of the SIDS-prevention sleep safety tips. Always place your baby on his back to sleep, use a firm mattress, and your baby’s crib should be empty. No bumpers, no pillows, no blankets, no toys. It should be a crib, a firm mattress, a fitted crib sheet, and your baby. That may sound bare and boring, but if you think about the crib’s purpose, it should be boring. You want your baby to associate the crib with sleeping, not playtime, and any extra accessories not only prevent your baby from having a safe sleep environment, but they can also be distractions to your baby that may hinder him in falling asleep or confuse him about the purpose of the crib: plain ol’ sleep.
-At one point or another, your baby will get sick, and the only one who can truly help you with your baby’s illness is your baby’s pediatrician. However, should your baby need medication upon your pediatrician’s recommendation, I have one tip for using those little syringes that they provide for dosing an infant’s medication. I always had trouble getting the proper dosage because there would always be a little air bubble in the syringe, taking up space where medication should be in order to get the proper dose. Frustrating! To get rid of that air bubble, fill the syringe with the medication, and then press out the medication back into the bottle. This will leave a bit of medication in the tip of the syringe, instead of air. Then you can fill the syringe again to the proper amount, and the dose will be more accurate without that pesky air bubble!
-Finally, keep hazards out of reach, but remember that no amount of “baby-proofing” can take the place of the watchful eyes of a parent or caregiver. In fact, we do very little baby-proofing in our home. We baby-proof mostly through supervision and redirecting him to a safer place, should he encounter a potential danger (ie, the lamp cord!). Do the baby-proofing feels right to you (a good tip is to get on your hands and knees and explore your home at your baby’s level to find potential hazards), but know that no amount of baby-proofing is 100% safe and your baby should be monitored at all times. Babies learn quickly and should never be underestimated!
I hope these tips will help you in some way, or that you can pass them on to a first-time parent you know! Come back next Tuesday for Part 2: Cleaning and Hygiene.
If you have any additional Health & Saftety tips for babies, please leave them in the comments! I’d love to hear what you’ve learned through your parenting experiences as well.