I’m not sure why I joined, but the sinking feeling that something was not quite the right fit for me began when the coordinator called me and told me where to check in to get my attendance noted and that I would be joining the lilies group. Lilies. Attendance. Really. Nonetheless, I forged ahead and attended my first “moms group” meeting.
The meeting began with breakfast, which was a variety of dishes brought by the group leaders. In short, this was NOT “my kind of food”. There was no kale. No quinoa. There were refrigerator cookie dough cookies, cheesy potatoes and other processed foods in vast quantities. In fact, my lactose-intolerance would have prevented me from eating about 80% of the dishes even if I wanted to try them. Next was an icebreaker exercise which began harmlessly with “what’s your favorite type of book to read?”. I can wax exponentially about almost any genre of book, so I was good here. But the next question asked about what kind of candy bar you coveted – you know, the one you hid from your kids and quietly consumed in the closet. The one I did WHAT with? Do people really still eat candy bars?
While I reflected on the myriad of issues involved with getting a processed sugar fix in the CLOSET and the various food issues implied by this behavior, the rest of the moms discussed Kit Kat Bites and other such wonders that aren’t on my radar. Soon, everyone had said their piece but me. When all the heads turned towards me expectantly, I frankly stated, “I don’t eat candy bars. I guess I have an occasional piece of really dark chocolate.” Add in my not-large body and cue the death-ray stares.
The immediate response from one of the largest woman was, “oh you’re so good”, but I think this isn’t quite the right phrasing. Maybe if people thought, “you must feel so good”, that candy bar would be less tempting because I promise that my body feels better without the extra weight (I would know, I had some for quite a bit of this calendar year) and without putting that chemical stuff in my body. And while I don’t have a thyroid, depression or other bodily factors working against my weight loss, the extra pounds post-baby didn’t just melt away. They were hard fought with both diet and exercise. While my breastfeeding status demands I consume quite a bit of calories, I’ve largely abstained from bread, pasta and other processed carbs that in the words of a personal trainer, “make weight loss almost impossible”. So this is my message today – eat food that makes you feel good not just for the moment it is in your mouth and not just because you ate the “right” food for a diet, but because your body truly feels more energized and healthy.
Also, sometimes you should probably lie and just use your blog as an outlet.
No, 7R isn’t the newest ultra-heavy base layer from Patagonia. It’s a genetic mutation (the variant is DRD4-7R for the really geeky) tied to dopamine, which is that addictive learning and reward chemical in our brains. According to the January 2013 issue of National Geographic (so I’m a little behind in my reading…), 20% of us have this variant. It’s linked to curiosity, restlessness and makes us more partial to movement and novelty. And here’s a not-shocker: it’s closely associated with ADHD. Ladies and gentleman, ski towns inhabitants in a nutshell.
But what happens when the restless gene meets up with something demanding a bit more stability, like pairing with a partner (marriage) and even offspring? In my mind, this explains the recent boon in adventure races, triathlons, trail runs and the like. Tough Mudder, an 10-12 mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces, had 460,000 + participants last year. I just participated in my first sprint-distance triathlon and it seemed designed to coax a few 7R’s that have paused to bear children into action. It was fully supported, non-competitive, women only triathlon, or as they like to call it, a Triathamom. I’m sure if you grabbed DNA from these participants, 7R would appear in more than 20%.
The event itself was highly organized and incredibly enjoyable. My husband commented on the girliness of the body marking, which occurred the night before the event. Instead of conventional permanent marker, they used fun large stamps. As a side note to newbies- they stamp your AGE on your left calf. I was unprepared for this and found myself obsessing with the number on the calf in front of me. The calves starting with a “2” particularly irksome. But back to the event.
The 300 meter swim was indoors at the Kearns Olympic complex and I found myself wishing for open water because I knew it would give me an edge. I’m extremely comfortable in water and waves, wind, etc don’t really bother me, but had to rein in my competitive streak to remember that I was only racing against the clock, even if I would perform better with a shotgun and mass splashing. Since I had never done a swim, bike and run in quick succession (way to train, I know) I tried not to go “all out” in the swim and finished smiling and easily loped back to the transition area where my bike was waiting.
I thought I was relatively fast in the transition, but the clock showed otherwise. Apparently 4 minutes is quite a long time to spend downing a Gu and putting on my helmet. Oh well. I was a superstar on the 10 mile bike ride, or at least I felt like it. Feel free to copy my strategy: Only ride your race bike with knobby tires. The week before the race, get slick tires. Don’t ride the bike until the race. Whether you’re flying or not, you will be convinced that you’re incredibly fast. Ignore the clock and go with that feeling! The sign below was also posted along the bike path. Awesome.
Last was 3 mile run. As I began running, it occurred to me that I have never gone from a bike ride to a run. Why would I? And something was definitely wrong with my legs. They were leaden. The run was HARD. I knew that eventually my legs would loosen up, and the only way to get to the food at the finish line was to continue moving. So run I did. After a mile, glorious blood began to flow through my leaden legs and I could pick up the pace. When comparing my times with others, this appears to have been my strongest area by far. I wasn’t fast, but I pushed HARD through the suffering because I’m a mountain girl deep down and it’s a skill learned early on.
I’m so glad the 7R made me do it and can highly recommend this event to anyone wondering if they might have a bit of the variant themselves. I’m inordinately proud of the necklace I got after crossing the finish line, too.
Further-reading-book-of-the-day: The Scientist in the Crib by Alison Gopnik
It probably says something about me that I didn’t really think much of throwing my 5-month-old in a tent for a weekend. Road-tripping friends had suggested we all meet up in the Black Hills of South Dakota (near Mt. Rushmore) and mid-June seemed the perfect time to get my infant out for a weekend. After all, Owen loves the outdoors (taking him to a window or outside is the quickest way to calm him). There was some last-minute creativity involved, but a little planning made for a successful trip overall.
I am nothing if not a planner, sometimes to my own detriment. If I was planning on having my right leg removed and it was suddenly changed to a toenail, I would initially balk at the new plan just because I hadn’t planned for it. But this time (and other times, thank you), it paid off. Thus, my first recommendation for camping with an infant is “bring it”. I brought the pack-and-play (it’s a really big tent). It kept Owen off the tent floor (which is cold!) and provided a safe place for a rolling baby to sleep. I brought the saline spray, snot sucker and a few teething devices. I brought a variety of warm clothing in a variety of sizes. The last thing I wanted to do was pull on his cute warm jeans to realize that he had outgrown them in the last two weeks (a common occurrence in infants). I didn’t bring the toy gym or other large “keep baby entertained”, because camping is, at its core, about spending time with family and nature. Instead, we held Owen next to tree branches and let him touch new textures. However, one thing I didn’t plan for was keeping little hands warm.
We camped at Horsethief Lake Campground (the forest service campground, NOT the similarly named Horse Thief Campground RV resort). At an elevation of 5,000 feet, the nights were naturally on the cool side. So cool that my little guy had ice cube hands when he woke up way too early for his middle-of-the-night feeding. I somehow wrangled him into my mummy sleeping bag and we managed to stay cozy until morning, but I had to devise plan for the next night.
Because the following night was cooler (in the mid 40’s), I went for layers. With babies, this equates to different sizes. He wore a snug onesie, followed by footed cotton 6 month jammies. This was tucked inside cozy fleece 9 month jammies, followed by a lined cotton sleep sack. He wore an adorable Patagonia fleece hat. However, his little hands were still bare. I solved this dilema by borrowing tube socks from the 5-year-old in our group. Thus, with purple mitten sock hands, my baby slept blissfully on his normal feeding schedule.
As for the campground, I can’t say it was THE campground to hit. The “lake” was more of a stagnent pond. However, there was a nice boardwalk along the lake ideal for small children to hike around and explore (less ideal for adults that want an actual hike). Nearby Hill City has some decent restaurants and wineries and the 110 mile Mickelson trail (part of the Rails to Trails program) is fantastic for bike enthusiasts of all ages and ability levels. And then there is that giant cliff with four carved faces. That was two miles away.
One last tip – use clean socks for the mitten trick. Teething babies do chew…
2-ingredient-recipe-of-the-day: Flourless Nutella Cake
I really, really wish I loved running. It’s efficient and can be accomplished almost anywhere with minimal equipment. And best of all, my body seems built for it. But my brain is not.
My brain is usually saying something like “why can’t we be biking?” and “how long do we have to do this for?”. Trail runs are slightly more entertaining as they require some mental engagement navigating various obstacles, but I resort to coping mechanisms for the boring-est of boring, the bike path.
My favorite coping method is a good audiobook. To be fair, it is a luxury to be able to tune out and listen to a book in a valiant attempt to forget that I am indeed exercising. There are certain places where this is ill-advised, like in National Parks where you may inadvertently startle large hungry animals. But I was less concerned about the wilds of the Boulder Creek path. This was foolish.
The Boulder Creek path is 7.5 miles and traverses the CU campus and downtown Boulder. While there were undoubtably a few hungry animals along the way (Colorado did just decriminalize marijuana), I wasn’t exactly concerned that they would give chase. So off I jogged, laughing at the lanky college kids floating the creek in inner tubs and bike helmets (true story).
All was fine and comical in a uniquely Boulder way until one of the many underpasses. I’m not sure if I even noticed the puddle (Where was I looking? Who knows…) until my ankle was suddenly wet. My entire foot, up to and including my ankle had stomped into an alarmingly deep puddle. I may have let out a sound mimicking the rare Colorado Macaw, which echoed nicely off the surrounding concrete. My shoes were throughly soaked in the sloshy soggy sort of way.
Which is a really long way of saying that you can’t really ever completely check out while exercising. And if you fall off your treadmill downloading a new book while updating your Facebook status, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Stay-of-the-day: Millennium Harvest House is in a great location if time is extremely short. You pay for the location, NOT the hotel or amenities.
I’ve ranted about food before. Whole foods are best, take time to cook, blah blah blah. And while I don’t think that kids are a free “I don’t have time” pass, the first few weeks (months?) after a baby is born is a TOTAL FREE PASS. Read and remember this – one of the BEST gifts you can bring a new baby is food for the parents. They are tired. One of them has been through a major physical event. I can’t speak to the experience for the other partner, but I think it was fairly intense for him, too. Enter convenience foods. Here’s a guide, which is also applicable to students cramming for finals, people recovering from a major surgery, etc.
My mother-in-law came in August and froze gallons and gallons of a variety of homemade soups. I also froze 2-person portions from dinners I cooked instead of slogging through leftovers. This was invaluable.
I was lucky enough to be asked to review a few new cereals from Post shortly after Owen was born. While I’m not normally a cereal girl (except for my homemade granola, of course), a few buzzwords caught my eye, namely “protein” and “less processed”. The new Great Grains Protein Blend cereal comes in two varieties. Cinnamon Hazelnut was largely gobbled up by my sweet-tooth loving husband and my favorite was the Honey, Oats & Seeds. I loved seeing whole pumpkin and sunflower seeds from a mainstream cereal company with more protein per serving than an egg (6g for an egg vs 8g per cup of cereal). Of course, my inclination is to combine the egg and cereal (not in the same bowl silly!) for a nice hearty breakfast.
For lunch/dinner/snack/whattimeisit? haze, I love love love Amy’s Frozen Meals, too. They have more sodium than I would like but the ingredient list is totally recognizable and they have a ton of special diet varieties like dairy-free and gluten-free. Even if the mom doesn’t need a modified diet, a fair amount of breastfed babies have sensitivities to dairy and/or gluten.
One of our neighbors came over a day or two after Owen was born and casually mentioned, “I just made some pheasant* noodle soup, does that sound good?”. Food? Yes, that sounds good. Don’t be shy, don’t be proud. And reciprocate down the road.
*This is Wyoming. People hunt. Chew carefully.
I feel I have to address the reason for my looong absence from the blogosphere, but I’ll keep it brief. After a fairly difficult pregnancy complete with 8 months of vomiting and a 16-day hospital stay for pre-term labor, the baby went full-term and arrived on a beautiful winter morning without complication. His name is Owen Lowell Drechsel and he is the most amazing thing I have ever done (made?). But enough sappy sentiment. Here’s the knitty-gritty.
I wasn’t sure how intense labor would be for me. After all, I’ve pushed myself pretty hard physically in a variety of climates. It was still pretty intense. But it was also short. 4 hours, start to finish with probably 2.5 hours of super intensity. In the moment, I said some gems like, “How does anyone have more than one kid? You have three!” (to my doula/labor coach) and “I think I want drugs”. The drugs rational went like this: you know when you have a really bad headache and it’s distracting and you’re cranky until you take a loading dose of ibuprofen and poof!, it’s gone and you think “gosh, why didn’t I take that ibuprofen earlier?” I knew that such drugs were nearby and available, but I abstained, which was the right choice for me.
Owen amazes me every day. And I don’t think babies HAVE to have a lot of stuff, but some stuff makes life easier. Here’s my favorites:
1) A swing
This is currently my most useful kitchen item as it actually lets me have extended time to cook. It is also his favorite napping place. I like that this particular swing plugs into the wall, preventing massive battery buying and ensuring that it never has to stop. Ever.
The first toy Owen reached for and still his favorite as it’s easy to hook fingers into. It’s also light enough where he doesn’t mind it bopping him in the face.
Read this review from Amazon By M. Lyon:
I’m more tired than I’ve ever been. I am also a regular coffee drinker for the first time in my life. Bring me caffeine anywhere, anytime and I’ll thank you. But I also have had a long hot bath with a book almost every day since he has been born. I still cook and knit and am getting back into my old active routine with some modifications. It’s both better and harder than people make it out to be. And if you made it to the end of this post but could care less about baby crap, thanks for reading and I promise adventures will resume next week!
Almost forgot: Don’t love Origami? They make helpers for those swaddles! Try a Swaddle Me or for Houdini babies, a Miracle Blanket. See The Happiest Baby on the Block for why a swaddle works (another favorite, but seven isn’t as great of a number as five).
So Mountain Kidd has been lax on the postings lately. As I prepare for maternity leave in my real job, I’ve decided to drop off the face of the earth here as well. But I’ll leave you with a few pearls of wisdom before I go.
First off- all pregnant women are a little crazy. The degree of craziness is dependent on where they are in their pregnancy, but their hormones are doing completely psycho and unprecedented things. This is normal. And you should absolutely bear this in mind when speaking to a pregnant women. Without further delay, here are a few tips on how to talk to prenant women (bearing in mind that sometimes the best thing is to not say anything at all):
This also applies if you’ve never been pregnant. Yes, I realize that most women don’t vomit past the first trimester. I am not one of those women. And having my 80-year-old neighbor say that I should feel better than I have in my whole life doesn’t actually help me feel better. I feel abnormal, which is not nice. I also don’t want to hear labor and delivery stories from 60 years ago. They are scary and generally not representative of how things are now. The fact that your husband brought you cigarettes in the group recovery room in the hospital should clue you in that times have changed.
Someone send me a postcard with this in big bold letters. Because my mail carrier actually said, “Are we gaining weight or expecting?”. Seriously. He said that. There has to be a pun with “going postal on the post man” or something in here…
If the woman is under a doctor’s care, the doctor is monitoring her weight. You are not her doctor. Even “you’re so tiny” can be offensive to someone having a tough time gaining appropriate weight. And asking “How far are you?… But you’re so big!” is guaranteed to be a losing comment. I will harbor resentment towards that woman for many years, or at least the rest of my pregnancy. You can say something like “you look great!” or “I love that necklace!”. That’s about it.
As a general rule, remember the German proverb, “Never give advice unless asked.” I really, really did NOT want to hear that your stretch marks were so bad that they bled. And I kinda don’t believe you. Let the pregnant women clue you in on whether she wants to talk about the pregnancy at all. If your questions are met with recalcitrance, take that as a clue. She’s still a normal person under all that baby and may want to talk about something that non-pregnant people talk about in an attempt to feel somewhat “normal”. Mountain Kidd, over and out.
Disclaimer: The stupid stuff people say to me knows no bounds. I may follow up on this post at some point before giving birth. It may be irrational. The post may include the tip, “Don’t play a song entitled “pregnant women are smug” for a pregnant women.”.
What is it about the human psyche that relaxes when things are “normal”? Sure, “exceptional” might be sometimes desired but mostly worries are assuaged by the term “normal”. At a point in my life (pregnancy) where nothing fits my old definition of normal, I find this particularly fascinating and frustrating.
My old normal is unattainable. That whole “if you did activity x before pregnancy, you can continue it during!” is total crap. I am an aggressive single-track mountain biker. I don’t crash every time I ride, but definitely every season and sometimes every month. Of course this isn’t a good activity to continue during pregnancy. And I have no clue how a climbing harness would fit me now – my normal harness certainly wouldn’t and I don’t see a rapid weight load around my waist being a good idea right.
In the past, I have been critical of mountain athletes that lose their entire sense of self when they can’t ski after a blown knee, for example. They lose their identity as a person and often fall into a deep funk. I now have more compassion for these people. And it turns out it’s not all physiological.
The IMAX film Adrenaline Rush: The Science of Risk (which I have yet to see due to the utter lack of IMAX theaters near anywhere I have lived) notes that humans are the only animals who seek danger and risk their lives for fun. According to a synopsis of the movie, many extreme athletes have significantly lower levels of an enzyme called monoamine oxidase B. These people have a higher resistance to arousal of certain sections of the brain, meaning that it takes a higher amount of stimulation in order to get the same level of excitement and pleasure others get out of less extreme activities. This makes a lot of sense to me as it would appear that my mother-in-law and husband get this excitement from seeing me stand on the countertops (which I have yet to fall off thank you) while I need a nice exposed arete to get the same high. And of course, we can’t forget about the oft quoted sensitivity to dopamine also present in thrill-seekers.
So for now, I can’t think of a single way to get my monoamine oxidase B OR dopamine fix. My normal has also been changed and I for one am glad to say that this whole “sharing my body” thing is temporary. Yup, I said it – and the “pregnancy is wonderful” police are welcome to beat down my door. If I don’t answer, it’s because I’m cleaning projectile vomit off my shower curtain again. And that’s just not normal.
I am a diverse person. Yes, I LOVE heart-pounding adrenaline inducing sports, but I also love books of all types. Naturally, pregnancy has me reading all about the crazy happenings inside my body and this week (week 25!) brought a new one: the baby is now getting nutrition directly from me (instead of from the placenta)!
While I’ve long been a “healthy” eater, this brings new motivation to eat more whole foods and make the indulgences a little less indulgent. This can be difficult as baking season, otherwise known as fall, has recently descended on my little part of Wyoming. Luckily, this also coincided with a link from a dear friend called, “The 31 Healthiest Foods of All Time,” complete with recipes! I have selected five of my favorite for you, my dear blog reader, to download in PDF form at the end of this post. You’re also welcome to browse the entire article here.
I should caution you: many of these recipes use weirdo ingredients that myself and a few of my “people” (looking at you, Anne) regularly have in their pantry – like ground flaxseeds and chia seeds. This may require a trip to that hippie grocery store in your area, but the health benefits are astounding! Finally, I have left the recipes how I found them, but I don’t personally use much Splenda for a myriad of reasons. I will be substituting Sucanat for Splenda in all of the following recipes in about equal amounts as I like things a little less sweet than the rest of the nation and leaving it out altogether in case of the smoothie. Also, I don’t eat crap like fat-free whipped cream – that’s not healthy.
The download includes recipes from Time Magazine’s Guide: The 31 Healthiest Foods of All Time. Specifically the recipes are: spinach, apple and walnut salad; crockpot oatmeal; whole wheat chia pumpkin pancakes; flourless dark chocolate brownies with walnuts; and a chocolate smoothie with avocado and banana. Enjoy!
Random-Photo-Of-The-Day: Northern Lights shot from a Sept. 30
For the long holiday weekend we met up with friends in the resort town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. While I had visited the ski town before, this marked my first warm weather visit, and more significantly, my first visit since I’ve been a non-resort town resident. My how perceptions can change.
On my previous visits I found Steamboat’s gentle rolling mountains flat in comparison to the stark majesty of my beloved Tetons. While the ski resort stats are not quite as drastic as my blanket statement (Steamboat clocks in at 3,668 vertical feet and Jackson at 4,139), there is no denying the the younger Tetons make a more dramatic rise out of the valley floor. Obviously the mountains haven’t changed much since my last visit, but I have.
At over five months pregnant, I found the rolling green hills to be comforting. Somehow they just seemed more approachable and the lush green valley had an overall welcoming appearance. But the hiking at the ski resort was nothing to sniffle at with more than enough vertical to get my heartrate up in a hurry. However, my real excitement was directed at the dedicated downhill bike trails zig-zagging the mountain. The beautiful banked turns and one-way traffic had me drooling for my bike and a chairlift up the mountain, but since it’s not a biking season for me I was content just to know the option exists for future visits.
Another HUGE plus? The hot springs. Not shocking given the name of the town, Steamboat boasts a number of natural and developed hot springs. Since I need to be wary of water over 100° (it can fry the babies brain cells), the developed pools with handy temperature guide fit the bill for me. More than just a solitary pool, the Old Town Hot Springs has a number of very warm “adult only” tubs with a larger more moderately heated pool, a 25-yard lap pool, two water slides and a complete workout facility indoors (with child care!). The copious flowering baskets and landscaping was absolutely breathtaking and the convenient downtown location can’t be beat.
Final assessment? Steamboat is a pretty nice place to visit and maybe even a nice place to live.
Diet-Breaker-Of-The-Day: Want a cupcake? No? You will now.