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October 2016

    Health & Fitness

    Getting Back Into Running With A Challenge

    I’ve established a fairly consistent workout schedule over the last several months. Two to three times a week, after I drop my oldest off at school, my younger two and I head to the gym. I love going to classes at the gym. It has been the single most effective way for me to establish a regular exercise routine. I love it. But more on that later.

    Today I wanted to talk about reinstating running into my workout routine. In 2012, I ran my first half marathon.

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    Since then, my total is now up to three. My times were never impressive. In fact, in my third half marathon, I was one of the last few people to finish. In my defense, it was a very small somewhat disorganized race with probably a hundred participants. At least that’s what I tell myself, so I feel better! But I enjoyed doing the half marathons because they forced me into an exercise routine. Well, the first one, I was naive as to what running 13.1 miles actually took and the highest mileage I got to in one run was six miles. I walk/ran that race. The next two, my goal was to run the whole thing, which I did both times.

    I am planning on doing another half marathon in the spring of next year. It will be two and half years since my last half marathon and since running has been pretty nonexistent in my workout routine this year, I will be pretty rusty to start out. I’m hoping the strength training and cardio that has been a part of my workouts will help me be a stronger (and maybe a litttttle bit faster) runner. My goal this time is to beat my fastest half marathon time, which was about 2:35 if I remember right.

    To ease myself back into the whole running scene, I am challenging myself for the month of November. My goal is to run 30 miles this month. I am not going to make a specific plan (like 1 mile/day) right now, but I will have the goal in mind and fit it into my schedule. My goal is to build up my running stamina for the next two months, and then start a half marathon training plan in January.

    I’ll recap my running at the end of each week (or so), to keep track of how I’m doing. Follow along if you are interested in my progress, or if you want to join in, please do!

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    Celebrations

    Family Pumpkin Painting Party

    All month long,  I have wanted to do a pumpkin painting party. In my mind, it would be a pumpkin painting playdate and we would invite some little friends over and they would each have a little pumpkin to paint, we would have treats and maybe play some games. That would have been so fun, no doubt, but we never got around to it.

    Yesterday, I decided we were going to have a pumpkin painting party. And it was going to be a family painting party. Because who better to have a party with than your family. Sometimes I think we forget the best party guests are own family members!

    We already had the pumpkins. Somehow, each of the three times we have been to Sprouts in the last couple of weeks, one or two little pumpkins ended up in our cart. At only a dollar, and so cute to look at, I could never say no. They ended up being perfect for our pumpkin painting party.

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    After school today, I picked up some festive plates and paintbrushes. Somehow, paintbrushes are one of those things that always go missing around our house. I also threw some googly eyes into my cart and they ended up being the star of the party. As the kids watched a show after school, I set up the table. I was amazed that they did not once try to move the pumpkins or play with the paintbrushes.

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    To start our party, we ate takeout (time is money, people) and watched The Great Pumpkin. We then moved to our painting. We are at the stage where activities such as this take about 5.5 minutes, so we were done in about ten minutes. But no one cried, no one spilled their paint, and everyone had fun. Win, win, win. I daresay that this pumpkin painting party might have to be a family tradition come Halloween.

    Sometimes these celebrations take just a little preparation, not too much time, but provide the memories our kids will remember for a long time!

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    Parenting

    What If It Were Me?

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    Having three kids at different ages, with a wide range of emotions and needs is an interesting thing. I often feel like everyday, I am on the parenting stage and one misstep in my parenting could cause repercussions for years to come. Exaggerating of course, but don’t we often feel that way? When it comes to handling tantrums, the demands of toddlers and preschoolers, big emotions, there are hundreds of parenting books, internet articles and words of advice on how to handle them.

    So here’s another post about that. But this is not the “perfect” answer and I can’t promise it will give you magical results that result in no tantrums, perfectly reasonable toddlers or totally chill preschoolers. In fact, none of that may change. But hopefully, this approach will at least give some relief to the constant feeling of, “Am I doing this all wrong?” And I have to remind myself daily to try and take this approach and I consider myself successful if I remember it more than half of the time!

    Lately, one question has helped me respond to my children (and let’s be honest, anyone else I interact with) with more love, patience and empathy. That question is: “What if it were me?”

    We have to remember that all the feelings that babies, toddlers, and preschoolers feel are all legitimate emotions and usually their behavior is a result of those emotions. Because when someone opens your applesauce when you wanted to do it, that is a legit reason to be upset. For a three year old. In adult experience, that’s like someone taking your parking spot at the mall, am I right?

    So when I ask myself, “What if it were me?” before I respond to one of my kids, it makes me pause for a moment and think about how I would want someone to respond to me in that situation. If I couldn’t find my favorite necklace would I want someone to say, “I’ve told you a million times to put that thing back where it goes!” or would I want them to say, “Well, where was the last time you saw it? I’ll help you look for it.”

    When one of my kids has a problem at school, or the gym daycare, I have been trying to be better at being slower to talk and quicker to listen.

    Having children has made me rethink my reactions to just about everything. Driving in the car and someone cuts me off? How do I react? Cashier at the grocery store isn’t the nice to me? What do I say back to them? What will my children learn from me about interacting with others?

    For now, I can teach them as I interact with them.  I can slow down, count to four as Daniel Tiger would say, react with love and empathy and think, “What if it were me?”

     

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    Collective Thoughts

    5 Unconventional Facts About Me

    We’re a few posts in on This Collective Life and so I thought I would share a few random and fun facts about me. You can read the typical autobiographical information on my “About Me” page, but I thought it would be fun to share some unconventional facts to help you get to know the deeper sides of me…ha

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    1. Baked goods are one of my number one weaknesses. A quick way to my heart is through a warm baked good. I “taste test” my freshly baked warm chocolate chip cookies way too often. The phrase, “Didn’t we just make these?” is often heard in our kitchen.

    2. I usually have to have background noise when I work. Whether I’m working on a home project, blogging, folding laundry, etc, I really enjoy having background noise. Grey’s Anatomy, Gilmore Girls, White Collar, and Friends are my staples. I have seen every episode of both shows at least twice, or maybe three times. Half the time, I’m not paying attention, but the noise is comforting, especially when my husband is traveling. Who wants to come over and have a marathon?

    3. I once made a New Year’s Resolution to be more “high maintenance”. I am pretty simplistic when it comes to hair/make up/fashion. I enjoy a good night out and all the dressing up that comes with it, but on a day to day basis I am pretty low maintenance. One year I decided to try and be a little more “high maintenance.” This prompted the purchase of a curling wand, a facial scrub, and face primer. I have remained fairly consistent with the use of these product so I feel like my maintenance level has gone up a few notches.

    4. I am pretty terrible at keeping plants alive. When a new season rolls around, I have high hopes and expectations for beautiful flowers on my front porch and maybe a little herb garden in the backyard. With the combination of unpredictable weather in Texas and my forgetful nature when it comes to hydrating said plants, I have had more failures than successes when it comes to sustaining floral life. I keep trying and one of these days, I will be successful.

    5. If I had a day all to myself, I would do this: First, I would sleep in until 8 am. At this point, I think it is physically impossible to sleep past this hour. I can force myself too, but then I just don’t feel good. Then for the rest of the day I would probably rotate between the following activities: clean something, watch something, organize something, bake something, read something, clean something, watch something, organize something, eat something (something I didn’t cook, preferably). Then I would stay up way too late, because I find that it is also physically impossibly for me to go to bed before 10 pm, unless I am in a hotel room with my children, in which I am forced to go to sleep when they do (but really, I watch a show under the covers with my headphones).

    I’m sure there will be more thoroughly interesting facts such as these coming in the future and I hope you enjoyed this first installment. I love hearing these little details about people, especially when we can bond over our love of Netflix shows and warm chocolate chip cookies.

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    Motherhood, Parenting

    Choosing Formula Over Stress

    You know the saying, “There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one”? For me, formula has been one way I could be a good mother.

    My first baby had a seven day hospital stay after her birth. In that time, she was fed from a tube with formula and then milk that I pumped once it was available. When she came home, we tried our best for a few weeks, but ultimately switched over to formula when she was about two months old.

    Along came my second baby and nursing lasted a bit longer, around five or six months. At that point, nursing was starting to cause a lot of stress for me. My baby would get distracted by my toddler, my toddler would wreak havoc while I was trying to nurse and going out in public with the possibility of having to feed my baby raised my blood pressure a little too much.

    With my third baby, it was the same. We lasted about five months. Now my baby was distracted by two older siblings, two active children who had a hard time occupying themselves, and double the stress of going out in public, finding a spot to nurse, occupy the older two, or have all four of us sit in the car while the baby ate. It started to be too much for me.

    And here’s the part that caused the most guilt for me. I did not enjoy nursing. It was not a bonding experience for me. I did it because I knew it was “the best thing for my baby.” The guilt of wanting to stop and not enjoying it was so heavy for me.

    Fortunately, I had an amazing support system (doctors, husband, parents, etc) who did not make me feel guilty at all, they encouraged me and made me feel confident.

    When I chose to switch to formula each of the three times it was like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I felt free and relaxed. Feeding time became a time I looked forward to and did become a bonding experience for me and my babies.

    I know and understand that breastfeeding might be the most natural and nutritionally specific for babies, but for me formula was such a blessing. My three healthy and happy babies are proof.

    So I am here to say, your feelings are important too when it comes to how you feed your baby. Mommy instinct includes not just the needs of your baby, but your needs as well. Be confident in your feelings and choices. However you feed your baby, you are doing an awesome job! Your baby is happy, healthy and thriving!

    In terms of price point, between breastfeeding and formula clearly breastfeeding wins by a landslide, hands down. Ha. But if you find yourself in the position of needing or wanting formula, might I suggest Costco? With my second baby I discovered Kirkland brand formula. So. much. money. saved. Here’s a funny story to illustrate my love for Costco formula:

    Earlier this year, I went to Costco to purchase our next few cans of formula. I was so disappointed when I got there to find out that the formula was being “deleted” from their merchandise. The nice employee didn’t know if it would come back in a few months or if it was gone for good. So I did the only natural thing a person who swears by the stuff  would do. I called three different Costco stores to find out where they still had it in stock and drove to the closest one (twenty minutes away) to buy twelve cans. Proof:

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    It lasted us a few months and then, thankfully, the brought my beloved Costco formula back and all is right in the world. Only one more month of formula, hooray!

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    Home & DIY

    A Simple Entryway

    Since moving into a house, there have been certain things we now have that we did not have before. A garage, a backyard, a yard to mow, and also, an entryway. I had never put much thought into how I would decorate an entryway before because, well, we haven’t had one! But now we do and after having been in this house for awhile now, I feel like I have settled on an entryway that I really love. It is simple and I love how it turned out. There are lots of ways to change it up for holidays and such as time goes on.

    I love decorating and organizing, but it often takes me a decent amount of time to catch the vision of the look I am going for in a certain area and I usually catch it at a very convenient time such as when I am trying to fall asleep.

    For this particular spot, this rug from IKEA was my springboard.

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    It is totally different than the style and color scheme that I usually go for, but I loved it when I saw it. I also knew I wanted a simple, dark bench but I also did not want to pay a lot of money for one. So I enlisted my awesome husband to build one for me and it turned out just right for the space! When I was thinking of what to put above the bench, I went through a lot of different options. Then one day, I remembered a mirror unit we had stored in a closet that used to be in my bedroom growing up. I immediately loved it above the bench, especially the dark and light contrast.

    I also had to keep in mind that I have three little children running around and their play area is in direct view of the entryway. This limited some of my options, namely, I had to find an unbreakable plant pot, and probably a fake plant.

    While we were at IKEA looking for some accessories, they were having serious music throwbacks (Ashlee Simpson? Sandstorm?) leading to several dance parties down the aisles by my five year old as we went back and forth between departments trying to make decisions.

    In the end, this was the final look:

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    I didn’t want too much going on in the entryway, because when you walk into the house, there are a few different areas visible. This entryway accomplishes all my goals for this space.

    Now, how many times do you think I will have to put that plant back in its spot?

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    Motherhood

    5 Ways to Take Care of Yourself After Your Baby Is Born

    About six days after my baby was born last November, my parents took my older two for the day. This left me home with my brand new baby for the whole day. I was looking forward to this day so much. I planned that we would  help it, I planned to do a little cleaning and organizing also.

    At about 9 am, we were doing the planned snuggling and nursing, when my cute little one week old had a rather large blowout all over my white sheets. I thought to myself, “I got this!” I was feeling great and energized. So I put her in the bassinet and gathered up all my sheets and put them in the wash. Feeling accomplished, I started working on something else. About 15 minutes later, I went looking for my phone. I couldn’t find it anywhere. Then, my stomach basically dropped to the floor as I realized exactly where it was and I headed straight for the laundry room. I frantically went through the wash and sure enough, there was my phone at the bottom of the washing machine, soaking wet and completely dead. In a split second, my dreamy day went out the window and for the rest of the day I sat on the couch holding my baby and cried. Over my phone. That is not a joke.

    In about three weeks, my baby will be one. This year has flown by at lightning speed. Seriously. As time inches closer to her first birthday, I’ve been thinking about what I have learned after having three babies. The short answer is: a lot. So many things. One thing I learned for certain, as most every new mom learns, is that the first few weeks after baby can be hard. There are a thousand (or more) lists out there about how to prepare for your baby. I’ve noticed there are not as many about how to prepare yourself for after the baby is born. After my first was born, I did not feel prepared for what I would experience being at home alone with a baby. It was isolating and lonely at times. So with my second and third, I made sure to have a plan, even just a mental one, of some ways I would prepare for those first few weeks.

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    1. Plan what you will wear: I know, this sounds so silly. You’re thinking, “I just had a baby, I will be wearing sweats all day everyday”. I wholeheartedly support that, one hundred percent. What I mean is, plan what insanely comfortable clothes you will wear. For me, it was leggings and loose shirts (not regular t-shirts). This made me feel somewhat put together (literally and figuratively) and not quite as zombie-like. Buy a few new things to wear those first few weeks, it makes a huge difference.
    2. Accept the help: I am a very independent person by nature and I admit it is hard for me to ask for help for on many things.  With my third baby especially, if someone offered help, I tried really hard to accept it. And you know what? It was so so worth it. Not only did it provide me with meals, childcare or other help, it provided me with some social interaction, which I think is crucial for new moms. So if someone asks if they can help you, say yes. Please.
    3. Go outside: It is natural and easy to want to stay inside and in bed or on the couch all day everyday with a new baby. I know, I am totally one of those people. But I can’t tell you how helpful it is to get outside for a few minutes a day when you are in a foggy, fuzzy, newborn state of mind. I remember one day when my baby was a few weeks old, it was freezing outside, I bundled her up in the warmest blanket I could find and we went outside for a few minutes with my older two. We lasted about five minutes, but it rejuvenated me and cleared my mind.
    4. Buy some freezer meals: I always had intentions of making freezer meals before I had my baby. I did make a few, but let’s be honest, Costco freezer meals are there for a reason. Stock up on a few (or many) to have on hand after the meals from others stop. You’ll be glad you won’t have to think about fixing dinner for another week or three. I don’t think I ever felt hungry in the first few weeks after my last baby being born.
    5. This too shall pass: I know that sounds wrong, because we all want to enjoy the newborn stage because it does indeed go by so fast and all of a sudden they are almost one and you are wondering how in the world it has been a year. But the phrase, “this too shall pass” got me through so many nights.  With my newborns, night time was hard for me. Anxiety would creep in as I slept restlessly waiting for the baby to wake up, wondering if they were breathing, hoping they would fall back asleep, wondering why they were crying. I remember repeating that phrase to myself and feeling the relief as the sun would start to peek through the window, signaling the end of the night. So while I loved the newborn stage and all the warm and fuzzy moments it brought, I was also grateful for the reassurance that those anxious moments would pass.

    So much goes into planning for the arrival of a new baby. And, as it should be, a majority of it is about the baby. But there is another person who needs care and that’s you, the momma!

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