The blog of the adventures (or mis-adventures) of an active mountain woman.

Sense of Impending Doom

2013 Trail Mix Course

2013 Trail Mix Course

It started with the best of intentions. Surely signing up for a 10 mile, mixed surface run would spur some serious training, right?  As the race date looms near (THIS Saturday), I’ve realized once again that “planning” and “babies” are not necessarily compatible terms.

Training peaked last week with a 6-mile hike with 14-lb Owen in the Ergo carrier. Two days later, I ran four miles (sans baby) and thought I was going to be pretty well setup for success. Then the baby stopped sleeping.

The doctor is coining Owen’s current lack of sleep preference “day/night reversal”. It involves severely limiting Owen’s day naps to two, one-hour segments. That’s it. He normally sleeps about 4.5 hours a day, which is on par for his age. Otherwise, it’s stimulation all day to teach him that day is for play! The ultimate hope is that Owen will stop waking up every 45 minutes – 2.5 hours during the night, which would be brilliant.

It is extremely difficult to “train” on no REM cycles. With sleep deprivation comes marked declines in memory, overall cognition and – here’s a fun one – balance. Swwweet. So Saturday’s race is pending, but if history is any indication I will likely forge ahead and pay the sore muscle consequences later. If anyone wants to painfully shuffle by my side, register here. No training required for the truly bull-headed.

Cool-movie-of-the-day: Living on One

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Back to Biking

View of Casper Mountain from the Platte River Parkway.

View of Casper Mountain from the Platte River Parkway.

Some women will curse me for this, but I’ve never carried extra weight. Sure, I’ve been more toned at times than other, but I’ve mostly been the same size since high school. Then I had a healthy, full-term baby and like the great majority of women, have a little extra baby padding that needs to come off.  There is only one way to accomplish this: healthy whole foods diet (check) and now that my body is healed, exercise.

Exercise is harder when you have extra weight. I’m just now fully appreciating this. Go jog a city block. Come home and strap on a 20 lb backpack and go run again. That sucked, right? According to the film Fork Over Knives, the average American carries 23 extra pounds. I have no doubt that people would enjoy exercise more if they were to shed their proverbial backpack. But there’s only one way (outlined above) to do it, and I’m right there with you.

My quest started in my neighborhood, which is fortuitously the start of the Platte River Parkway, an 11 mile bike path that weaves through most of Casper. I was huffing and puffing on a few hills into Mills, Wyoming but the awesome thing about being “out of shape” is that the massive endorphine dump (also known as an exercise high) comes much, much sooner. I was flying! I was amazing! Why hadn’t I done this sooner? When the endorphins allowed me to get more blood to my brain, I remembered that the bike path was snowy and I was terrified of a bike seat in months prior, which gave me my answer. But the moral of the story is the same: lose weight and feel great. And be careful if you ride with the wind at your back…

Healthy-recipe-of-the-day: Curried French Lentils

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Adventures in Food

Convenience foods by Mother Nature - a totally appropriate food gift!

Convenience foods by Mother Nature – a totally appropriate food gift!

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.

1) Freeze food in advance.

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.

2) Choose the healthiest ready-to-eat foods possible.

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.

3) Accept any and all food gifts from neighbors/friends/strangers.

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.

 

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I’m baaack! Babies and 5 favorites things

birthannouncementI 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.

Labor (not TMI, I promise)

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.

Baby Sh-tuff (0-3 months)

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:

Swing1) 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.

OBall2) Oball

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.

3) Jacque the PeacockJacque

Read this review from Amazon By M. Lyon:

“I’ve never written a review for any baby toys before, but I’m going to make an exception for Jacques. We call him Pierre the Peacock, because alliteration is more fun than consonance, but I digress.

As far as our 5-month-old is concerned, Jacques is the greatest thing that has ever existed. Our son goes absolutely insane at the mere sight of Jacques. Even a month ago, when he was not such a grabby baby, he wanted to touch all parts of Jacques simultaneously. With great intensity, he wants to stare at Jacques and never look away; he wants to squeak and scream and laugh at Jacques as loud as he can. His love for Jacques is metaphysical.
In fact, if it was possible to be a little too excited by a toy, Jacques might potentially fit that bill. Sometimes our son is overwhelmed by his excitement for Jacques. Jacques is baby cocaine.Our only complaint is that we wish Jacques was machine-washable. He fell on the garage floor and got very dirty, and now our son spends his days in a deep, Jacques-less, existential depression. C’est la vie…”
’nuff said! We like this teething blanket for similar crinkle and chewable reasons.

 

Owen is in love with the baby in the mirror, which is understandable since he’s so stinkin’ cute. Honestly, after little goofy talking in his face after feeding and about 10-20 minutes on the play gym Owen is usually ready for a little zone-out time or to go back to sleep.
We “suscribe” to these diapers and get a full month supply of diapers and wipes for under $80. Owen had some diaper rash issues from the regular Huggie’s, so we switched to Pampers Sensitive and that cured the rash, but I didn’t like the little gel crystals that would get on his skin from a really wet diaper. The monthly cost for size Newborn was about $5 more but the convenience and quality is worth it to me. Honest Dipers use way less gel (no crystals spotted yet) and hold more pee than any other diaper we have tried. Plus, I love the cute designs. Who doesn’t love a baby with skull and crossbones diapers? They’ll do a free trial, too, but be careful to cancel if you don’t want the trial to roll into membership.

 

Wrapping it up:

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).

 

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Rants from a Crazy Pregnant Lady

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):

1) The older you are, the less I want to hear how I should feel.

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.

2) Don’t ask, “One or two?”.

Ever.

3) If you’re not sure if a women is pregnant, don’t say anything at all.

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…

3) Don’t comment on her size.

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.”.

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“Normal” and a minor retraction

Lest you think I’m all gloom and doom, I can assure you I appreciate my beautiful backyard and the amazing fall weather!

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.

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Far From Somewhere

I’m not exactly sure where we were, but it was an hour from Wheatland, Wyoming and stunningly gorgeous. The topography was dramatic and very un-farm like (which is what Wheatland is known for. You know – wheat + land. Clever clever.). Sloping granite and stony hillocks abounded with rumors of a while marble ridge somewhere in the vicinity. And naturally, a river runs through it. Well, more of a creek or mountain stream, but let’s not split movie title hairs.

While there was plenty of rifle powered adventure, I choose the activity with a start time later in the day for a little fly fishing and found the entire expedition a bit “more” than I had bargained for.

To empathize, I suggest you try the following exercise:

1) Sit down and puut a soccer ball in your lap against your tummy. Yes, a real, full-size soccer ball.

2) Bend forward and fiddle with velcro straps on fly fishing sandals making them secure enough to close up bulk over water booties but not so tight you can’t feel your feet.

3) Find a jacket to zip over you and soccer ball. Bear in mind the “activity” hasn’t started yet.

Luckily, my husband is part giant and I could steal from his outdoor apparel stash. The next complication cannot be blamed on the impending baby. Nope, this one is all on my shoulders. While I may skate in other athletic arenas based on the sheer number of hours I have logged at some point in my life, this situation does not apply to fly fishing. It would appear that my several yearly attempts just aren’t quite enough to get “good” at the sport. Heck, I would settle for decent.

I started with a dry fly, which is infinitely less stuff to get tangled up. Alas, that pesky sage brush also managed to hang me up more than a few times. I would say at the start of any fishing trip, I have about 10 – 20 truly terrible casts before I begin to remember what the heck I’m supposed to be doing. Naturally, by this time all the fish have sent up the “something is not quite right about that fly” alarm and have decided to smugly circle my fly in a taunting manner. This is where one being able to partake in adult beverages is a helpful state of health.

Also, I cannot partake so I merely toddle on to the next fishing whole to spook some more fish. While I won’t reveal my final count, let’s just say I’ve had better days. And luckily this stream had a super healthy population, allowing us to keep a few appropriately sized rainbow trout  (that I didn’t catch…) home for dinner that night. Which makes the trip a success overall, I suppose.

 

 

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Healthy Realizations (with Recipes!)

Yup, those are chia seeds!

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!

Mountain Kidd Healthy 5 Recipe Download

Random-Photo-Of-The-Day: Northern Lights shot from a Sept. 30

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Fire Fire Everywhere

Fireweed, which appears just days after a fire is extinguished.

Two weekends ago, my old hometown and new hometown both sprouted wildfires – and they weren’t little. The Horsethief Canyon wildfire in Jackson is currently at 3,373 acres (82% contained) while Casper’s Sheep Herder Hill fire is at 15,556 acres (100% contained). Firefighters are still battling other blazes around the state. And while losing a home, pets, or worse in a fire is a tragic and life-altering circumstance, I can’t help but be reminded that a healthy forest is a forest that burns every now and again.

No place is this more obvious than Yellowstone National Park. In 1988, a number of smaller fires combined into one massive blaze to close the park for the first time in history. The end tally was 793,880 acres, or 36 percent of the park affected by the fire. On top of NPS staff, it took 4,000 military personal and $120 million to extinguish the flames. But what happened immediately after the fire (and is still happening!) is amazing nature in action.

To paraphrase from a surprisingly well annotated Wikipedia article on the Yellowstone fires of 1988: Just days after the fire plants such as fireweed began to appear.  No replanting was attempted as “the vast majority of plants regrew from existing sprouts which survived the heat from the fires. There was a profusion of wildflowers in burned areas, especially between two and five years after the fires.”

And the lodgepole pine, which dominates the Yellowstone wilderness, actually needs fire. The pinecones it produces remain closed unless subjected to fire. The article notes that “the best seed dispersal occurred in areas which had experienced severe ground fires, and that seed dispersal was lowest in areas which had only minor surface burns.” Not coincidentally, the lodgepole pines in the park were at 200 – 250 years old and approaching the end of their 300 year life cycle.

A beautiful “weed” that magically appears in burn areas and a tree uniquely suited to the Yellowstone ecosystem depending on fire to perpetuate its life cycle? There’s a silver lining in every cloud.

Natural-tip-of-the-day: Uses for Vinegar

 

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A Home Away: Steamboat Springs, Colorado

That’s one hard-working tank top. Hiking at Steamboat Ski & Resort at 21 weeks pregnant.

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.

Old Town Hot Springs in downtown Steamboat Springs, Colorado

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.

 

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