Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sister Love is Living On

I wanted to post this picture to show how very much Julia still loves her sister.  We are experiencing some mix of 2-year-old-itis along with what-the-baby-isn't-leaving-anytime-soon-ness, but overall things are well and good in our household.  Julia increasingly wants to try and hold Raven, and I snapped this picture of them sitting together watching a Baby Einstein video; so cute!  (And so the 5 minutes of down-time Mama needed to *just breathe* for the day...)

I'm an Auntie!

Last night my sister-in-law Claire (Adam's sister) and her husband Dan welcomed their first baby, a boy!  His name is Dex Ronald.  He was born last night (Monday, January 25th) at 8:01 pm and was 8 lbs 7 oz and 20 inches long.  He is healthy and everyone is doing well.

I'm so excited to say that we will be able to visit and meet him for the first time this coming weekend... yay!  How wonderful and exciting!

Congrats to you, Dan and Claire!  Much love from your family in Iowa!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Raven's 4 Month Check Up

Raven had her 4-month check up today at the clinic.

Today Raven weighed 15 lbs even (that's a 2 lb 6 oz gain) and is 25 inches (+1 inch from her 2-month) long.  She is 80% for her weight and 75% for her height.  She still has a smallish head (40%) at 16 inches, but that seems consistent with our family head size.

Otherwise, she is fine and well, minus a goopy tear duct which should eventually clear itself up (we have some salve to help when it is extra bad).

She is drinking 6 oz bottles now (she nurses about one time per day and otherwise drinks formula).  She is sleeping 8 - 10 hours a night, which is a blessing.  Last night I tried her out in the crib for the first time and she slept for about 7.5 hours straight before waking up hungry as a hibernated bear.  The doctor said today that it was up to us if we wanted to give her cereal; she doesn't need it since she is getting plenty of iron from the formula.  I think we will hold off on feeding her cereal for now; she's obviously gaining weight well enough and seriously, feeding a 4-month-old is not the most fun in the world.  Ha!

Yay, Raven!

(Pictures in the next few days, I hope...)


ps.  Our doctor and his wife are due with their 5th early this summer... fun times there!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

What Raven Loves Best

Being completely... unclothed.  :)

New Approach to Bathtime

For about a month now, Julia has taken a strong dislike to baths.  In order to keep her clean, I've been showering with her, but it's not fun for either of us and she has taken to saying, "NOOOOOO!!!!!!!" when asked if she wants to take a bath when just a few months ago, she would hike up the stairs in a hurry.

Earlier this week I decided both girls needed a bath and was not looking forward to but was willing to listen to Julia scream and holler the entire time.  Then I got an idea... if I put Raven's tub in WITH Julia and asked Julia to help me, maybe she would settle down.  Sure enough, though the first few minutes of her bath were horrendous, I finally was able to get her to "help" me bathe Raven and was able to get her clean as well.  Today I tried it again and this time she stood in the tub (no tears!  yay!) begging me to bring Raven and her tub in.  A nice additive is that it takes less time than it had been taking to bathe both of them, and by the end of bathtime, Julia was back to her normal slip-sliding self in the tub.  Yay!



(It's been a long week...!  I've been meaning to blog this for days, but sometimes life gets in the way... especially when it gets in the way in the form of a stomach bug!  Here's to hoping that I feel "normal" again soon and that Adam doesn't ever come down with what Julia and I had this week.)

About two weeks ago, Adam finished the bunkbeds and we moved them sans mattresses to Julia's bedroom.  We had been planning on traveling to Des Moines to purchase mattresses during our "annual" early-January shopping trip.  Julia thought it was super fun to have bunkbeds in her room, and on January 2nd, we finally purchased mattresses.  It was pretty cold that day, so we left the mattresses in the living room to warm up overnight, and then on Sunday, Adam moved them to Julia's room.  She had a blast bouncing around on her new bed.  On Monday I stripped her crib, washed everything, and made up her new bed with sheets and blankets.

Considering how much Julia loved her new bed, Monday night was a surprise when she freaked out as soon as we tried to put her to bed.  You mean I have to actually SLEEP in that thing?  NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!  But, after some coaxing and crying and lots of book-reading, Mommy was finally able to get Julia to lay down in her bed, and after a trip upstairs to rescue her from a blanket mountain that she had piled on her bed and then proceeded to scale, she fell asleep and slept till morning.  And, so have been naps and night time since then... what a Godsend!  She loves her new bed and when you say, "Let's get in bed!", she scrambles into her room and crawls right in!  :)


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Words for Thought

I received word of this AMAZING blog from a friend this week... and I have been lost.  But, along with being lost on the blog, I have also been lost in thought... GOOD thought!

Before I go further... the blog: Pioneer Woman

Aside from wanting to BE this woman (yes, I even asked Adam if we could move to the country and get some animals and he responded with, "How about cardboard cutouts of animals?"), various words of her made me remember my New Year's Eve blog about being more intentional this year... making each day count.  And, I am happy to say that I feel like I am actually trying to do that so far this year... all of six days... but she also made me wonder how I make small changes to *be* more of the person I want to be without causing undue stress in my life... and I think it's doable.  But, it requires planning and sacrifice and love and honesty and God and goals... well, it requires some change, but good change.  Change of thought, change of deed... but doable change.  So... again... I'm really looking forward to this year and seeing where it takes me and my family.

(Thanks to my friend who sent the link to this blog out in a blog post of her own... I joked with her that it was evil because I was so lost in the blog, but truly I love it and it is good for the soul...!)


Friday, January 1, 2010

Neufchâtel and Baguette

This week our family hobby of making cheese took us into the world of Neufchâtel.  Neufchâtel is a soft cheese; according to wikipedia.com, a soft, slightly crumbly, mould-ripened cheese made in the region of Normandy.  (One of the things I have enjoyed about our cheese making is reading the history of the specific cheese... check out the link to the wiki site!) 

Many of us equate Neufchâtel to cream cheese; I learned that isn't actually so, but is used as a substitute at times.

We began making our Neufchâtel the evening of the 30th; it required a gallon of milk, a pint of heavy cream, and a few "starters".  We let our concoction sit overnight, and around noon yesterday (the 31st), Adam cut the curd and we began to drain the whey. 
Last night around midnight, Adam transferred the cheese to a strainer and put it in the fridge overnight.  This afternoon he unwrapped it, mixed in salt, and voila, we have Neufchâtel.  It is tasty!
During some email discussion yesterday, Adam suggested that a Baguette would go nicely with our Neufchâtel, and I agreed.  I spent a bit of time researching baguette recipes online, and I found that it can be an easy and yet troublesome bread to make.  Again... more interesting history here... it seems that the French have a bread "law" much like the German beer law, the Reinheitsgebot, regarding what ingredients determine a true bread... in the case of the French bread, that would simply be yeast, flour, salt, and water (and oil is allowed in the raising process to keep the dough from sticking to anything).  So, while researching recipes, I decided that I would stick to those recipes only using the basic ingredients... and see what happened!  (While I haven't made a lot of bread in my life, I'm not *new* to bread making either... or, at the least, not new to the theory of it.  Ha!)

This morning around 9:30 am, I began the baguette recipe. I used a recipe found at the Food Network site.  Following the recipe along with hints left in the reviews/comments, throughout the day I did various kneading and rising sets.  Around 3:45 pm it was ready to go in the oven, and again, if you look at the recipe, there is a trick to the baking as well.  There isn't actually a whole lot of work involved... the rub comes from the fact that you spend the entire day watching your bread rise and preparing it for baking, and then you rely on those last 30 minutes or so of baking to work magic and produce your baguette.

After allowing the baguettes to cool, I cut one up and we spread Neufchâtel on them.  Umm... DELISH!  Tonight after Julia went to bed, we cut up a second baguette, spread butter on the pieces, toasted it under the broiler, spread Neufchâtel on them and... yah.  THAT was a treat!  We paired it with New Glarus' Raspberry Tart.  This aperitif was an excellent way to ring in the New Year... thee aren't many words outside of YUM! to describe all of the flavors we were tasting in our mouths... it was a perfect blend of sweet and sour, soft and chewy... salty... tangy... oh, man.  :)

Definitely a cheese and bread recipe to keep for the future!  What fun we are having with our new hobby!


Resolution: Lose Weight: Part 3: Food

Another really interesting part of the class... food!  Again, I enjoyed learning about the science behind the food, and what I learned made sense... in the morning you need energy after fasting through the night... in the midday, you need energy to keep going but also protein to begin rebuilding, and at night you need protein to regenerate to start the next day.

To break that into carbs, protein, and fat, it looks like this:

In the Morning...
-- High Carbs
-- Low Proteins
-- Low Fats

In the Midday...
-- Moderate Carbs
-- Moderate Proteins
-- Moderate Fats

In the Evening...
-- Low Carbs
-- High Proteins
-- High Fats

An example of a breakfast would be fruits and whole grains (high carbs), eggs and turkey bacon (low proteins), and butter and flax seeds (low fat).  An example of a morning snack would be an apple with almond butter.  Midday meal?  Corn, peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, whole grains, turkey, fish, eggs, and chicken.  In the afternoon, you start transitioning your snacks to nuts and seeds, and something like celery.  In the evening, red meat, fish, chicken, olive oil, and green veggies (broccoli, lettuces, spinach, asparagus) take over.  The idea is to eat your fruits and breads in the morning, your veggies and high-protein meats in the evening.  And for an evening snack?  Due to the fiber in it, you can have popcorn with butter... yum!
Craving ice cream really badly?  Eat it for breakfast.  Seriously.

We were reminded that BOTH unburned carbs AND too much protein are turned into stores of fat... so it pays to eat carbs in the morning when you *need* them, and protein in the evening when you *need* it.

My goal by Sunday afternoon is to meal plan for two weeks using this philosophy and grocery shop.  For Adam and Julia and a need for evening carbs, we have our loaf of bread... and otherwise, I know I can whip up some tasty meals that we will all enjoy!


Resolution: Lose Weight: Part 2: Resistance/Strength Training

In my last post I mentioned that I will be doing strength training 3 times a week.  I thought I would post about my strength training plan in case anyone was interested what it entails.

The strength training program is known as the Quick Set Program.  There are two different types of Quick Set; a Decline and a Pause Set.  You can choose to do either.

I choose to do the Pause Set.  It goes:
1.  8 - 10 reps at weight -- Do these reps quickly.  It is important to choose a weight where you can *just* do 8 - 10 reps; if you can do 12 or more, your weights are too light and if you can only do 6 or 7 reps, your weights are too heavy.
2.  6 second pause
3.  Same weight to failure -- Again, do these reps quickly.
4.  6 second pause
5.  Same weight to failure -- Again, do these reps quickly.

I will be doing my weight training on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  On Mondays I will work my back, biceps, shoulders, and abs.  On Wednesdays I will work my chest, triceps, legs, and abs.  Fridays will be a mix of both.


So... to recap...

Mondays: Strength Training and Surge Training
Tuesdays: Low Intensity Aerobic Exercise
Wednesdays: Strength Training and Surge Training
Thursdays: Low Intensity Aerobic Exercise
Fridays: Strength Training and Surge Training
Weekend: Hang out with my Family!

In case you are wondering... a long walk with the dog or friends, a bike ride with the kids, aggressively mowing the lawn... as long as those things raise the heartate to 55 - 75% of your maximum heart rate (220 - [your age]), you are technically doing the Low Intensity Aerobic Exercise.  I will be looking forward to summer where on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I am home with the girls, I can swap out the morning workouts for fun bike rides and such with them. 


Resolution: Lose Weight: Part 1: Surge/Burst Training

About 14 months ago, I took a class on nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, losing weight... etc.  It was the "Body by God" course and through daily "activities", you slowly transformed how you saw and lived life (from all aspects of it).  Part of this class involved learning a new sort of exercising / training called Surge or Burst Training.

While everything in the class made sense and I learned a lot of new things, this particular part of the course was of interest to me.  With a child who was just a year old, a funky work schedule, and a serious dislike for exercising, I needed a program that I could easily build into my day and didn't require a large amount of time.  So, in order to maximize the time I had available to me, I rose at 4:50 each morning, donned my workout clothes, drove to the gym, and did my workouts.  I was home and eating breakfast by 6 am, showered by 6:30 am, and was ready to face the day with my soon-to-be toddler.  I had a lot of energy, was generally in a good mood, and all that jazz.

I know what you're thinking... here's a program that offers something for nothing... weight loss and fitness in as small amount of time as possible.  Well, I have exercised a lot in my life... I have spent hours at a time in the gym, and slowly watched the weight come off and go on and come off and go on and Goodness, I Hate Going To The Gym All The Time.  I would get up at 4:45 am and be to the gym by 5:00 am and finally be showering around 6:30 am and to work around 7:00 am and Oh, My Goodness, Who Wants to Spend Two Hours Doing This Every Day?  This wasn't relaxing, didn't include eating breakfast, I was showering and getting ready at the gym to minimize travel time, I only enjoyed the comforts of my own bathroom on the weekends, I never saw my husband in the morning... I did not like it.  But I did it to do what I thought I had to do to make myself a better person.  If you do enjoy this routine and think it is getting you somewhere... good for you and I think you are masochistic.

I have an entire sheet of information on Surge Training and you can find more info online... there is science behind how it works, and so while it seems like a lot of benefit out of very little time... it is.  But, you will read forward here that while it is not a time-consuming thing, there is an awful lot of effort involved.

So, you are wondering, did it work?  Well, the short answer is a resounding, Yes!  Of course, any exercise routine works best when paired with eating better and sleeping more and generally working to improve your life (no one thing can make you better all by itself... it's a joint effort, yes?).  But, it did work.  In the first few weeks I lost 10 lbs, and once I changed my eating habits completely, I was losing 3 - 5 lbs a week.  (I have a generous amount to lose; the more you have to lose, the more weight you lose on the front end...!  Just an FYI!)

So.... why did I stop?  Well, I don't have any good excuses.  But, I have excuses... for one, Julia became quite sick on a regular basis last winter, and as quickly only getting 5 or 4 - 5 hours of sleep a night... not conducive to getting up at 4:50 am... and I also learned I was pregnant (and Burst Training, in my non-medical opinion, is not "healthy" to do while pregnant... and did you see above?  I wasn't about to go back to crazy long workout sessions when I could be sleeping instead).  Basically, I had built in excuses for not getting up and going to the gym.

But here are a few things I learned... 1.) it worked when I was doing it, 2.) the weight stayed off even after I stopped (if you don't count the fact that I slowly gained 25 lbs while pregnant), and 3.) I knew that with a good support system, I could start again.

So here we are, January 2010.  My youngest child is finally sleeping through the night and not just through the night, she is sleeping for long periods of time (9 - 10 hours).  I am finally healthy again after recovering from a C-section... recovering from gall bladder surgery... recovering from a nasty bout of hives.  My whole family is relatively healthy and has a good routine... and a good routine is OH SO IMPORTANT for a busy parent... nay, a Busy Mom.  And... I am ready again.  And I know I can pick up where I left off.  And I have an excellent support system.  I have friends who want to go through this with me and are willing to be there behind me.  Yay for a support system!

So... back to Surge Training.  Surge Training is a workout done in intervals, if you will.  The basic concept is as follows:

-- Warm up with some gentle stretches, a brisk 5 minute walk, or some basic yoga poses.
-- Surges can include stair stepping, running, biking, elliptical machines, treadmills, swimming, running in place or jumping rope! Be creative and move!
-- Measure each "SURGE" or interval as follows and repeat 3 times:
  • 10-30 seconds of high intensity SURGE movement
  • 10-30 seconds of recovery/rest or low intensity movement (The duration of the recovery is equal to the duration of the *surge*)
  • 10-30 seconds of high intensity SURGE movement
  • 10-30 seconds of recovery or low intensity movement
  • 10-30 seconds of high intensity SURGE movement
  • 2 minutes of recovery or low intensity movement

Whether you do 10, 15, or 30 seconds depends on your body. The key point: you must use maximum effort for EVERY SECOND of the surge. If you can only handle 10 seconds, then only surge for 10 seconds.  This should be done 3 times per week.

This workout, combined with 15 - 20 minutes of weight training at the gym, made of for three of my workouts each week... and I was only at the gym for 35 minutes each morning. 

Now... traditional low intensity, long duration aerobic exercise still has a lot of benefits... lowering your resting heart rate, increasing HDL cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, aiding detoxification, increasing blood circulation... and it is still important.  However, it doesn't need to be done for hours on end to receive benefit.  So, I would do this 2 - 3 times per week for about 30 minutes... and voila, 5 - 6 short workouts each week.

Here are a few notes about the training...
1.  To know that you are reaching the level you need to reach of "high intensity" during the SURGE part of the workout, attempt to reach a heart rate 75 - 85% of your training heartrate... this is calculated different ways, but for me, I take  of 220 - [my age] and then multiply by 85%.  This is 220 - 31 = 189 x 85% = 160 bpm.  During the low intensity / recovery time, I go down to about 70%, which is about 130 bpm.
2.  Minus the extra pounds, I am relatively healthy.  All exercise programs, and especially this one should be discussed with your doctor if you AT ALL fall outside of "relatively healthy".  And when I say "relatively healthy", I mean... my blood pressure and cholesterol are good, I don't have any "diseases" (diabetes, heart disease, etc.), and generally I am "fit" minus the extra poundage.

I realize that the title of my post is Surge/Burst Training... but I hope you understand the underlying point here... you need to find what is right for you and do what you need to do to make a better you.  I feel that I have finally found what works for me in order to achieve who it is I want to be physically.  (And please know, when I say, "finally found what works for me", it is a whole lot more than a designated work out schedule/plan... the physical me also requires input from the spiritual and mental and emotional me too!)  I wanted to share with you what that was and what it means for me each day.  The next few weeks will be rough starting again... getting up at 4:50 am is no easy task, but it provides the least amount of excuse to not exercise too... my brain is fuzzy, I have no pressing engagements, I can barely function... BUT I *can* move... and that's all that is required!

So... here's to 2010!  I am excited to share my progress with you!