Weeds and Quiet Time and Boys

 

Thursday, I spent the afternoon doing something I’ve never done at my own home – I weeded. It had been quite a long time since I’d done that. But there we were, Cillian and I, armed with a garden hat, kneeling mat and a weeding tool, in the cool but sunny three-o-clock, while Jamie and Lucy napped inside the house.

This past week, I’ve been keeping Cillian out of his and Jamie’s shared room (and queen bed) for quiet time with me, so as to enable Jamie to have a decent nap without big brother’s interference, as, much to my chagrin, Cillian seems to have outgrown them. Whenever I give them shared quiet time, Cillian ends up sabotaging everything, normally resulting in Jamie crying about something. So we have quiet time together, he and I, and it’s quite nice. He gets to learn something new, whether it be how to fold laundry or how to follow a workout DVD or how to weed, and I get to give valuable, one-on-one attention to my big guy.

At first, I felt unsure about surrendering my valuable afternoon do-whatever-I-want time, but I came to realize that if I started rising before the kids wake up each morning, “me” time can still happen, in addition to creating a peaceful situation for all three kids in the afternoon. And also, without resentful feelings that I didn’t get to do something I wanted to that day.

So, we knelt on the brick walkway, pulling at the stubborn tufts of Unwantable Green, as I taught Cillian how to properly pull a weed from the root and not merely the leaves. He successfully yanked two or three and then quickly became interested in wielding the weed tool to dig along the edges of the newly improved bricks. After all, he is a four-year-old boy. What else is he going to want to do when there’s something to dig with lying around?

I, on the other hand, soldiered on, ignoring the aching in my fingers from pulling the belligerent weeds. It was so satisfying. Quiet was all around us, Cillian busy with his digger, me wrestling the grass and dandelions, our tiger cat, Aslan, lazily prowling the front porch, as if lording over his slaves doing his bidding.

There was something intensely gratifying about this simple task. And as I sweated through it, feeling the burn of Vitamin D overdose on my back, I came to the conclusion that this is the kind of work I should be doing. I was made to do this kind of work, this wonderful physical labor. Gardening is one of the best kinds of rewarding physical labor, I think – to beautify something living, to cultivate life out of earth, to bring forth fruit from the ground. Up until now, I have been content to let Caleb be the one who does all of the tending to our family garden. But now I’m starting to care more too. And it’s easier to care when I spend more time outside, surrounded by it all.

In general, I like to be clean, tidy, indoors, and quiet most of the time. So God, in His infinite wisdom, gave me two boys. And they love nothing more than to be the opposite of all of those things, which is exceptionally healthy for me, because there is something so intrinsic about being in nature. It’s because there, we become closer to God. We learn to quiet ourselves and our ever busy, buzzing thoughts. We learn to serve, to contribute to something with purpose. We learn to listen and to pray.

And boys… Boys need to be outside like nothing else. In the wild. Yelling, jumping, swinging off of things, moving, doing. The outdoors is their kingdom, their sanctuary. So, I am trying to take the hint and be outside more with them. (Because if I let them spend too much time outside by themselves, one of them ends up wailing or they both skip town in the brief two minutes that I’m not checking, and head up the long, rocky driveway to Grandma’s house, usually with their red wagon in tow.)

So yesterday, Jamie got his nap and Cillian got some Mama time outside, and when it was time for everyone to be loud again, we were all quite happy, every one of us, because everyone had gotten exactly what they needed.

I think I’ll be doing this again and again.

Have an absolutely lovely day, and do spend some of it outside, admiring this gorgeous July we’ve been having. You won’t wish you hadn’t.

Cheers.

If I Were Ever to Write an Autobiography

 

A long-standing joke on my side of the family is that everyone has their own “book.” If they were to write one about themselves, that is. My Dad’s would be “Look, an Iridescent Bug!” my mom’s would be “People are Idiots,” my sister’s would be “Wait, What?”  my brother’s would be “Life is Weird…” my husband’s would be “And Then, They Gave Me a Million Dollars!” and mine would be “How Did I Get Here?”

The Table of Contents would follow –

   1. If Only My Van Had a Torpedo – Rodent Extermination, Idiot Elimination

   2. Concerning Toddlers and Other Explosives

   3. We Need to Eat Dinner Again?

   4. On Husbands and Why Mine is a Superhero

   5. I Wish My Smartphone Wasn’t My Brain

   6. Girlfriends of Gold

   7. Who Woke Up the Baby and Do They Have Life Insurance?

   8. Must Create All the Things!!!

   9. Dark Chocolate, Gin and Yogurt

   10. C’mere Kid, Mama’s Gotta Change You Again…

 

What would your book be?

Hope your day is laughable.

Cheers!

 

Active Living

 

Exercising and eating well seem to go hand in hand, wherever you look for healthy wellbeing how to. I’ve never been clever enough to put the two together, having isolated running or working out from all kinds of diets I’ve done in the past. But I’m older and wiser now (of course), and I’m trying out both simultaneously with equal gusto for the first time and simply had to tell you about it, as the results are turning my world upside down. Why I haven’t done this my whole life?!

You see, I’m finally ready to accept that Exercising and Eating Right simply cannot be a one time thing for me. I want to jump into a healthy habit of Living. And though I have always vacillated between “but-I-can-get-away-with-ice-cream-every-night-for-a-week-every-other-month-and-indulge-in-chips-whenever-I-feel-like-it-IF-I’m-running-and-eating-well-the-rest-of-the-time” and “eat right, sleep right, be active, do things, steady as she goes, this is a lifestyle not a sprint,” I think I’m finally on to something now. I’m going to finish this once and for all.

A while ago, I was searching online for a big chewy oatmeal chocolate chip recipe and stumbled across a blog called Our Best Bites. I explored around a little and discovered a side bar post on Real Life Health and Weight Loss, a story about one of the two gals who write the blog. Reading her story ignited my enthusiasm to finally finish it all.

I’m going to be dreadfully candid with you and share some vulnerable stats. Having had my first baby, Cillian, right off the bat after getting married at nineteen, I quickly inflated from my little married 5’6”-123 lbs-self to a postpartum mama 60 pounds heavier. I lost 30 lbs of it between Cillian and Jamie, who was born 17 months after Cillian. I gained another 60 lbs during my pregnancy with him and for the first time in my life saw a mortifying 200.0 on the scale. After the boys, I managed to get down to the 160’s before having our third child and first girl, Lucy. I managed to keep my weight down a little better during her pregnancy and only gained 40 lbs this time. This was due to a number of factors, namely, that I was under the care of my first midwife as opposed to a doctor with both boys, and consequently a bit more closely monitored concerning lifestyle and health; and also, Lucy was my smallest, earliest, and quickest baby at 9 lbs 3 oz, born two days before her due date after an active 2-hour labor.

Lucy is now going on 11 months old, and I am currently 180 lbs. I never ever want to see this number again, even when at 9 months pregnant. I want to get as close to where I was five years ago when I got married. The gal writing the blog post went from a size 12/14 to a size 2/4 in 18 months by working hard at strength training and eating right – that’s correct, the real, old-fashioned way. And if she can go down 10 sizes, I can get back down 6 sizes. I’m going to do it right. I’m sweating through the work, and more. I’m enjoying it.

What I’ve been doing for the past several weeks is following the Jillian Michael’s (Biggest Loser trainer) Ripped in 30 exercise DVD and diet plan. With some variations. Her diet plan is widely diverse, which is nice, but I’ve chosen a few of my favorite meals and remain content to rotate those, which JM authorizes with encouragement. I’ve chosen to go carbless and for the most part, sugarless as well, rather than to spend lots of money on special carb-acceptable options JM provides in her meal plans. More or less, I’m doing a low calorie paleo diet including dairy and eggs. And it’s working. I feel cleansed and satisfied and light and strong and capable.

The workouts are amazing. I’ve never craved working out the way I do JM’s workouts. She does a 3-2-1 ratio of strength training, cardio, and abs – each workout is an entire 24 intense minutes long. So, including a warm up and cool down, there are three circuits of the 3-2-1 exercises, each circuit increasing in intensity. On the DVD, there are four different workouts, one for each week, again, each exponentially more challenging. JM recommends doing each individual weekly workout 5-6x a week, and taking a rest day or two, then beginning the next level. I’ve been doing workouts every other day and my own weight lifting in between as much as possible without injuring myself. I intend to step it up as soon as I figure out a consistent time to work out and shower during the day. (Still not great at the getting up early in the morning thing, but I think it’s my only choice!) The entire process takes me an hour, as I usually require more stretching than her cool down provides to prevent mucho soreness.

As of now, I can feel a noticeable difference in my back (always a weak point… I threw my back out two times after having Jamie, as he was my heaviest baby and my poor, overtaxed body was at its heaviest ever weight,) and my legs (more specifically my quads and muscles around my knees, which have always seemed weak as well). I can also feel the exercises working my upper back, shoulders and triceps, which makes me optimistic, as those are areas I’m eager to improve. I have yet to feel an exercise that makes my biceps sore, but I’m beginning to think that after four years of baby-toting, they remain the strongest muscles I have. The abs exercises are highly effective too. JM’s whole mantra is to be in constant motion so as to maintain an elevated heart rate while doing combination exercises (ex. weights plus lunges or squats) to maximize results as quickly as possible. Another thing she does is avoid repetition between workout weeks – once you’ve done an exercise, you’ll never do the same one again. There may be a variation on it in sequential workouts, but never the same exact one, which I’m highly in favor of, as I tend to get bored with too much monotony.

Something else I’m doing along the way is keeping a physical wellness journal, where I document the date, which exercise I’m doing, and whatever extra notes I want to add, as well as weekly measurements and weight records. Nothing to report yet, as I just started this a few days ago, but I’ll update my stats as soon as I have something worthy enough to necessitate coming to look for praise or a few gold stars or maybe even an “excellent!” or a “great job!”

It all makes so much sense, really. You burn calories on both ends by eating less, but more nutrient, protein-rich food to satisfy hunger for longer stretches of time and by exercising consistently and building muscle to burn through the fat in your body and to increase your resting metabolism as a result of your growth in muscle. Genius.

I have a few goals in mind when I think of the “end result.” (I put that in quotations because I don’t want to stop exercising and eating well in general…) I put that in parenthesis because I felt like it.

  • I want to get to the point where I can jump in to various physical activities (if a friend randomly wants to go running together, if we decide to go hiking or swimming, if I decide I want to try rock wall climbing, parasailing, bungee jumping, etc.) and walk away invigorated and not limping in search of the nearest urgent care
  • I especially want to be, look and feel a good 15-20 lbs lighter for Caleb’s and my 5-year anniversary trip we have planned for September around my 25th birthday. Looking satisfactory in pictures is important to me. I want to hide my face when I look at pictures of myself now. And these pictures will be special. I want to look special too. This goal gives me a grand total of two months.
  • Honestly, I want to get my weight down so I can be at a confident starting place when, God willing, I get pregnant again. Having a healthy pregnancy where I gain only 30-35 lbs would be a dream.
  • After completing this workout program, I think I want to do more JM workouts and also get back into running. I just loved doing that after I had Jamie. Never before then had I run as much as 5 miles without stopping. It was bliss.

The whole idea is that I orchestrate my life to be a more active one in general too. I don’t have the advantage of livestock depending on me yet, but that will soon be remedied in the near future, as we are considering getting chickens this coming spring and eventually a pig or two. Maybe more animals. I don’t know yet. Caleb wants to be a farmer of all things living. I’m along for the ride.

All in all, I just know that I need to be doing something every day to keep me in shape. And eventually I absolutely won’t have time to work out to achieve it. I have got to live an active life to achieve this. There’s no other way. There will be no time to make room for it, even. I plan to homeschool, to raise a house full of children, to maintain and grow in my own hobbies and passions of music and art, to become a good seamstress, to become a proficient grammatically-correct writer, to become an efficient homemaker and self-sufficient-living woman of the house, to become a wonderful cook, to massage and read to my husband, and so much more that will make “working out” a near-certain impossibility within, easily, the next ten years. And by then, I sure hope that I would have established an active way of life. Smiley face.

I want to share all of this with you so that you can be encouraged if you, like me, struggle with eating right and being active enough; so you can follow along and keep me accountable throughout my journey of living healthily; so you can feel free to share anything inspiring or insightful concerning this topic (or anything else that I ever post about!); and truly, so you can be a part of my life and see the real challenges I face and endeavor to conquer through my eyes.

Thank you for bearing with me, if you have finished reading this long-winded and repetitively written post (there are only so many synonyms for “workout.”) You are a gem. And I am grateful for you. I hope this has been a heartening, refreshingly honest window into my life. Stay tuned for more fitness updates, as well as more blog posts coming on many other subjects.

May your day be bright and challenging, active and well-lived.

Cheers.