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Written by Mama Monday

Blog posts written by mamas on cloth diapering, green living, natural parenting.

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Let me start this post off by saying that I am not a fitness buff, an exercise guru nor anyone remotely qualified to give fitness advice If you are pregnant or just had a baby, please don’t try this until your doctor has said it is safe for you. The best I can do is to share with you my own experience with the body I walk around in. I have had three full-term pregnancies, three c-sections and even before motherhood, I had chronic back pain. I don’t know why. It’s just how it is and in fact, I’ve seen pictures of myself as a five year old in ballet class back in 1979 and guess what? I couldn’t do a backbend (they call them “bridges” these days) even then. I was the only little girl in the class whose back wasn’t flexible simply because I was young.

While surfing the web few months ago, I came across an article called “The 10 Worst Exercises.” I was surprised that “crunches” were on the list. The author suggested trying the plank instead and to work up to holding the position for one minute. I immediately got onto the floor an planked, using the stopwatch app on my phone to time myself. I was shaking after about 45 seconds but I held the position for a full two minutes. (I attribute this almost entirely to stubbornness rather than core strength).

The concept of planking makes sense to me. The muscles surrounding the core and spine are being strengthened in a straight position. Crunches cause the spine to bend at an unnatural angle and over-strengthen the ab muscles on the front of the body but not the muscles on the back, like the erector spinae. Weaker muscles on the back side of the body and stronger muscles on the front side are going to affect posture negatively by pulling the spine forward. It makes sense to strengthen both sides of the core at once, in the position you want them to be strongest, straight.  (Did I mention that I was a massage therapist for a few years in my past life?)

After about four weeks of doing the plank nightly for between one to two minutes per night (sometimes with the weight of a toddler or small dog added by chance) I noticed my lower back felt better and that I could sit on the floor with my legs straight out in front me and keep my back straight at the same time. I have never, ever been able to do this before. I could also sit cross-legged on the floor and keep my back straight which has always been uncomfortable for me. Being able to sit up straight without feeling like I am constantly fighting gravity and my unfortunate tendency to slouch, has made sitting on the floor much more pleasant!

The picture posted is me…doing Low Plank. There are plenty of variations that you can find online—such as lifting a leg for 12 repetitions, then lifting the other leg for 12 repetitions. You can try lifting one arm, then the other, then one leg and one arm at the same time. You can try the upper plank, lower plank and even a brutal five or eight minute workout which involves all kinds of different leg and arm movements and planking for an entire five (or eight minutes). I can’t do the entire five minute workout all at once yet…I turn into a quivering, panting, grunting mess about halfway through and then collapse on the floor. Doesn’t that sound fun? It’s a good goal to work towards, easy to do at home and I really did see improvement in how my body feels. I don’t have six-pack abs and I never will. The plank isn’t about getting them either—at least not for me.

Try the plank and time yourself every day for a week and see how much progress you make—and then share it here. Parents need strong backs with the bending, lifting, hoisting, lugging, pushing, pulling, and cradling that we do.

P.S. Just after I discovered The Plank, I had the serendipitous pleasure of meeting Gabi Ury on the top of Eldora Mountain while snowboarding this past winter. She is the 16 year old who just blew away the world record for planking by a woman.

Steamboat 2013

If I’m guilty about hoarding anything, it’s definitely sentimental and special things related to my three children : artwork they’ve done, locks of hair, a teeny tiny plaid shirt that looks small enough for a doll that Cooper wore about twice, and the turtle Robeez that all three kids wore between 3 and 6 months. I even kept the x-ray of Kate’s broken arm and the purple cast that already looks so tiny.

As the kids get older, the more I realize my memory is not as wonderful as I hoped it would be. As I was experiencing their newbornness, the perfect, chubby and smiley six months old stage and then their toddler years when their true personalities started becoming apparent, I was so sure I would never, ever forget even the smallest details about their babyhood. I’ve taken thousands of pictures of them and dozens of videos–and I don’t regret a single one. I hope to look through them with my grandchildren some day.

One of my favorite ways of preserving memories about the kids is writing down funny things they’ve said.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Kate: Mommy, I want a baby mouse. Can I get a fish? How about a hamster?? Please!
Cooper: How about a hotdog?

Cooper (at three) , fondly ruffling the hair of his two year old cousin Kevin: “Kevin, you my sister. Kevin is my sister.”

When Cooper was a baby with a particularly stinky diaper, Lauren cried indignantly, “He smells like the chin-hair of an unwashed goat!”

Lauren to Kate during an argument: “Why don’t you get on your broom and fly away??”

When I told Kate it was picture day at school she went upstairs and put on her bikini. When I told her that she couldn’t wear it she told me she would prefer to be home-schooled.

Kate was sure a limousine would drive her kindergarten class to the field trip.

Lauren: “Sometimes when I’m asleep I forget about my eyebrows.” ???

Kate at four, while sitting on Santa’s lap: “Lauren has been crabbing and sassing.”

I have to keep a file on my computer open or a notebook handy to jot these treasures down quickly. They leave my brain very shortly after entering so getting them in writing fast is key. And as much as I love and cherish our photos of the kids and seeing their scratchy drawings, these quotes will be giving us belly laughs for years to come!

 

How do you preserve the precious and hysterical moments of your little ones? And What are some of your little one’s cutest quotes?

 

The kids and I recently took a trip to Florida to visit family. My husband made the trip from Denver to Orlando with us and stayed for the first week we were there. The kids and I stayed almost a week longer since we didn’t have any camps or big events to rush home for. Flying with multiple children (or even one, depending of the temperament of said child!) is always a daunting task. I was thankful that my husband would be along to help on the over three hour direct flight.

Since Cooper is now three, he needs his own ticket. Though I miss the days buying one less ticket, I absolutely love not having a big, sweating, squirmy baby on my lap. There are few things as difficult as trying to cram yourself under the seat in front of you to retrieve food, toys, pacifiers, spit up cloths or clean diapers with a toddler on your lap. The last flight I took with Cooper was a disaster…so bad that if his tantrum had happened while we were still waiting to take off, I’m pretty sure we would have been escorted off the plane. His ears were hurting, which I could tell by how he held them and screamed, but also, he just wanted off. He wanted to jump, to run, and get off mommy’s lap. That made two of us. So this time, I decided we’d bring his car seat on the plane instead of checking it with our bags.

Because I needed a way to get the car seat through the airport and onto the plane, not only with the help of my husband, but also without his help on the way back, I looked at the various options on the market to roll it through the airport. Most of the options I found online looked complicated and I wasn’t sure if they would require more concentration to take on and off the car seat than I felt I would be able to manage quickly and efficiently while simultaneously micromanaging three children or they were made specifically for a certain brand of car seat. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money so I decided to try a little MacGyver Mommy experiment.

The next time I was at Target, I picked up a two pack of bungee cords…and they were on clearance for three dollars and change. Perfect. I got them home and packed my rolling carry on size suitcase with a quilt while I conducted my experiment. I put the back of the car seat flat against the front of the suitcase and threaded one of the bungee cords through the hole that would hold a seat belt when strapping the car seat in forward facing. I pulled the cords though and then crossed them over each other behind the suitcase in an X before pulling them up and hooking them onto the soft handle. Then I took the second cord and wrapped it around the top part of the car seat and looped it around and made an X with that bungee cord before hooking both ends on to the extendable handle. When I tilted the suitcase back to roll it behind me, the bottom of the car seat didn’t hit the floor. 20140727_161019_resized_1

The next step was to see if I could not only pull the seat and the suitcase with my bungee cord contraption, but Cooper as well. I strapped him in his car seat, and tested it. With his extra weight, I realized I needed to make the bungee cords even tighter. A pull here and a pull there and voila, I could easily drag the suitcase, the car seat and a strapped in Cooper through the airport. And I could wear my backpack/diaper bag/carry-on on my back.

On the day we were actually flying, my homemade contraption worked perfectly. I wasn’t sure if it would fit rolling down the aisle of the plane (ideal) or if I would have to disassemble it just before we boarded and have my husband carry it above the heads of the other passengers (not at all ideal). I am happy to say, it was tight, but we were able to roll it between the aisles and all the way to our seats. This was going to be a key part in the level of ease or difficulty I would have on our return to Denver without Daddy. Phew!

If you are planning a trip with your baby, be sure to read my past blogs: Packing the Perfect Cloth Diaper Bag and Traveling with Cloth: Mission Accomplished.

 

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If you intend to travel with a car seat for your infant or toddler, make sure it is labeled by the manufacturer as “certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.” It should be on a sticker on the side of the car seat. You can see the sticker on our car seat in the picture on the left.

Do you bring a car seat on the plane? And if so, how? It’s not easy!

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It was a sunny Sunday after about eight years ago. I was on a short hike with our two big dogs and my husband and Lauren, who was about ten months at the time, were hanging out at home. As I was a few blocks from the house, I heard sirens and they sounded close. I was friendly with several of our neighbors, two of whom were very elderly, so I assumed that something must have happened–a fall or worse.

A minute later, my cell phone rang. It was my husband. “The ambulance is at our house. Don’t panic. Lauren was choking but she’s fine now.” Ambulance? Choking? What? Panicking was an instinct not an option. I sprinted home.

When  I got there, the EMTs were loading Lauren, in her car seat, onto the stretcher. Still confused, I climbed in with her. They told me that she needed to go to the hospital to be checked out even if she seemed fined. Protocol I guess, for when anyone calls 911 for a child.

Before I could get the story about what had happened, we were off. Lauren fell asleep almost immediately so I called my husband and asked “What happened? What was she choking on?” He told me that she had been standing by the front door (she wasn’t walking yet) and suddenly he noticed that she was gasping and coughing. She turned bluish and her eyes rolled back in her head. He grabbed her and ran outside to the front yard so that he could try to clear her airway and yell to a neighbor to call 911 at the same time.

Since I had taken Infant and Child CPR and First Aid through the Red Cross before taking a job as a nanny, I had shown him the basics: Lay the infant face down across your arm with her head lower than her body, cradle her chin in your hand. With the heel of your other hand, thrust blows downward just below the baby’s shoulder blades. He did this and yelled for our neighbor to call 911. After a few tries, an earring back flew out of Lauren’s mouth and she began to breathe again. Phew. But the ambulance was already on its way. 18155

At the hospital, Lauren was examined and then X-rayed to see if she had swallowed a foreign object. Sure enough, there was an industrial-sized carpet staple sitting in her stomach. We guessed that both objects had been lodged in her airway and that one had gone up and one had gone down when my husband wacked her on the back saved her life.

As scary as that incident was, it was not the only time it happened. About six  months later, we had people over and someone gave Lauren half an olive to try. What we didn’t know was that she had a dry cleaning tag already tucked in her mouth. She began to choke again and this time I was the one who flipped her over and got the offending items out of her mouth. I was expecting only to find the half olive that she had been eating but was surprised to fish out the pink piece of paperboard as well. This time, we didn’t bother to call 911 since we could see that she was breathing normally right away. She was fine. I wasn’t though. I couldn’t believe it happened again. Where was she finding these things? We kept our house clean and I picked up “chokers” as I called any small item whenever I saw them. It just goes to show that you can’t prevent all accidents from happening no matter how careful you are. You have to be prepared for things to go wrong. Babies and toddlers have ways of finding the tiniest things in couch cushions, under area rugs and embedded in carpet pile. If there is something they can fit in their mouths, they will find it.

I’m awfully glad I learned those seemingly simple but life-saving techniques before I became a mother because when the time came, the motions were instinctual.

Have you had any close calls with your baby? Are you CPR and First Aid Certified and if not, to you plan to be?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This past Thursday, July 3, I turned 40. I’ve tried to look at the passing of another decade in a positive light, despite the fact that part of me wishes I could stop time and stay young forever. But I can’t so the next best thing is to celebrate the life I’ve lived and hope to live at least another forty years.

My thirties were important years. I had every one of my three children between the ages of 31 and 37 years. My thirties were also incredibly hard as I often struggled with trying not to lose my own identity and yet not having a second to spare to be anything but “Mommy.” It’s been amazing and back-breaking at the same time–like the saying about parenthood, “The hardest job you’ll ever love.”

My husband asked if I wanted a party to celebrate my birthday and my response was “Heck, NO!” In many ways, this is symbolic of how I have changed and become more sure of myself and attentive to my own needs as I’ve gotten older. I need some “Me,” time and my husband and I need some more “Us” time.  I took matters into my own hands and booked us an overnight at the Patterson Hotel in Denver and arranged for a good friend to stay overnight with the kids. As much as I love the kids, the breathing room that comes with youngest now being three is nice. I don’t miss my babies, I love my kids.

We went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and went to an IMAX film about Pandas. We took our time at the exhibits, feeling like we had left someone behind, relishing being able to walk around without chasing, scolding, answering questions or taking someone to the bathroom. That evening we went to a nice dinner in downtown Denver and sat and talked and ate for two hours. I texted the babysitter a few times things like “I forgot to tell you, Cooper is REALLY scared of thunderstorms,” or “How are they doing? Is Kate behaving?” She texted back that everyone was fine and to stop worrying and enjoy myself–but the truth is, I was enjoying myself immensely.

The next day, we slept until almost eight. I was sure I would want to sleep until ten since the kids get us up so early everyday, weekend, summer break or holiday. But the ol’ internal clock has been forever changed since becoming parents and we couldn’t sleep any longer. When we arrived home on the fourth, the kids were glad to see us and we were glad to see them. We had all survived the night away and I think it was good for all us, not just my husband and me. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? Since it was the fourth, we immediately started getting ready for the parties we were planning to attend and began packing up the cooler and the swimsuits.

So how does forty feel? To tell you the truth, it doesn’t feel much different than thirty-nine. I think this decade is going to be epic for me and I’m ready to rock it. I’ll leave you with my  Facebook Status Update from Thursday, July 3, 2014:

There once was a woman from Boulder,
And quite snarky (or so everyone told her).
Despite turning forty
She said “I thank the Good Lordy!
And I hope to get even older!”

How do you want to celebrate your birthday this year? With the kids or without?