Play With Your Kids, Play As a Family

It’s fun :)!!

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For our time together as a family, we went to the park. Despite the chill and the drizzle.

We ALL played around a bit:

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Do you get out and moving as a family? If not, what’s stopping you? Time as a family doesn’t need to be fancy- just fun. And it’s as fun as what you bring to the table 🙂

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XOXO

Butterflies by the Lake

This past Saturday I was in sorry need of some butterfly therapy, and thankfully Munchie was game.

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rockin out in the car, or, at least I was

So we headed out to the local butterfly pavilion. I sincerely hope your town, city, province, region has one or will get one soon. Cheesy, maybe, but oh so right.

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There’s just something so soothing about all those beautiful flowers and these whisp-like lovelies feathering around your head and ankles. My tot was smitten.

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He kept running around after them…

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…upsetting their nectar dinners as he tried to touch them…

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We read about the little life-cycles of these magical creatures:

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Then we checked for stow-aways and said good bye to the butterflies.

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Just past the red barns and around the bend we stumbled upon this little scene:

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In his usual fashion, Munch dove right in:

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And then we did a bit of climbing:

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I love places like this that give little urbanites a chance to get closer to nature, to see what it’s all about.

After messing about on these for a bit,

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he was ready for the real stuff: ‘let’s go see nature’ he said.

And so we did.

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He was thrilled to discover this little lake, all set up for a visit from a mama and son on Saturday afternoon jaunt.

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It was hot, and approaching dinner time, so we took off.

But couldn’t help pulling off at the farmers stand on the way home. The late-summer bounty, rounded out nicely by the first fruits of Fall were a feast of senses.

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If you read my post about our typical breakfasts, you can imagine how pleased I was to find this ‘no-sugar’ added beauty:

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perfect on those eggy-oats, protein pancakes, greek yogurt or whatever an aspiring bodybuilder may need to spruce-up!

In the end we got the preserves, two Tango Apples for the road, and a beautiful box of juicy heirloom tomatoes.

Those tomatoes were lucky to make it home, they were as sweet and flavorful as candy. We weren’t even done paying and Munch and I were helping ourselves!

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And you know what, everything just seemed clearer after our little trip.

Sometimes you have to let go of things from yesterday to make room for something beautiful today.

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Hope you have a wonderful weekend, and if you’re in need of lightening up, needing to let go of something, find your way to a butterfly pavilion. Those little creatures are surprisingly good at helping you out with heavy loads 🙂

XOXO

Friday Night Eats

Last Friday we had dinner with my lovely parents.

We picked up a rotisserie chicken; fresh gazpacho; spinach, berry, and feta salad with balsamic dressing; oh, and Munch wanted a bit of lemon-dill pasta. Sure kid, whatever you like 🙂

Dessert was a bowl of chocolate we passed about.

Friday night dinner can be both healthy and fun; community-building and nutritious.

The bodybuilding lifestyle does not need to be isolating- healthy, beautiful food is something everyone can enjoy!

Cheers!

XOXO

Meal #5, using my old Kale

Sometimes the baby kale starts to turn before I can use it as a fresh salad. You too?

Our garden is burgeoning with mint and chives, so they helped out:
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Munch helped pick the herbs, which revved him to eat them at dinner.

We added baby portobellos, pulled chicken, and for my son some lemon-dill pasta.

Away into that microwave!

Voila!

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Kale salvaged, belly filled.

XOXO

Toddler Wielding the Mighty Marker

Entertaining a nearly two-year old can be oh so simple, despite their myopic attentions spans, their ‘creative’ use of whatever you give them (‘please don’t eat that’ might be our motto), and the frustration they feel when they want to do more than they’re yet physically capable of.

It takes just a few simple things to wade these parenting waters, suit up!

1. Patience- be ready for a mess. Be ready to have a plan that takes a turn. Be ready to hold off on ‘no’ until you’ve really thought about it- if you hang your shoulds, there might be a lot more ‘yes’ in your life. Sometimes a simple switcheroo can stand-in for a direct and toddler-jarring ‘no.’ These kids have barreling energy and intention- a no is like a brick wall. Wouldn’t you cry if you constantly were running into brick walls? A nice switcheroo directs that energy right past the danger zone and into something fun. You’ll see what I mean in a minute…

2. Simplicity- toddlers have a TON they’re learning and putting together. It doesn’t need to be fancy to be riveting. I remember when I absently started writing out the alphabet while ‘ABC’ was sung on Pandora radio. My son looked like the clouds had parted and God was smiling upon him. That song and those squiggles go together. He’s never looked back- sometimes his ‘lovey toy’ is a puzzle-piece of the letter ‘a.’ So think, what’s something simple that you take for granted as a given, that a toddler might get a real kick out of?

3. And for today: markers from the dollar bin at Target.

When we play with markers, we mean business. Sure, I didn’t want him writing on the walls, but we found some other fun surfaces for our ‘worlds most washable markers’:

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I washed most of it off his face 🙂

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Nonetheless, our markered limbs got us a few glances while we were out n about.

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the red scribble he called ‘grandma with a fish’

Easy peasy fun on a tired day.

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yawning, not roaring if you’re wondering

It’s funny- thinking about Munchie’s feelings when he hears ‘no’ all the time gets me thinking about how I feel when I tell myself ‘no’ all the time. No, you’ll never pull that off. No you can’t move that weight. No, it’s too much for you to pass on cake again. No you’ll never be a real bodybuilder. It’s exhausting!

Like with Munch, for me the better approach is sometimes to find something to which I can enthusiastically say ‘yes!!’ So while it may not fit my goals right now to have a giant bowl of ice cream, I can find things that will help me get what I’m needing. Do I need fun? Yes, tv! Do I need to relax? Well put down that broom young lady and cuddle up to that couch! Do I feel lonely? Call, hell, even text someone, anyone! Am I just HUNGRY? Maybe drink some water, and bust out that amazing mango salsa and some veggies- that will tie you over till you eat next.

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here we are, a little more put together- shoulders coming along… Boy I’d love to compete!

How about you- what’s your approach to ‘no’? Do you always tell yourself no? Or have you found ways that you can say yes, while sticking to your goals, fitness- health- nutrition- or otherwise?

Also, did you enjoy coloring as a kid?

I once thought to draw a beautiful landscape of hills and trees and birds across our entry wall when I was little. My parents were less pleased with my handiwork than I was 😉

XOXO

My toddler, Mickey and Me

I’m going to be very very honest: I used to think, ‘why would anyone go to Disneyworld for a vacation when they have the world at their fingertips??’ I know: snob! And how unoriginal of me, right? It’s so easy to write things off, while, to quote the cashier at my last grocery store run, ‘enjoyment is an art, it’s taken me a lifetime of practice.’ Um, wow!

Not to mention, this is a downer of a way to start a post about the Most Magical Place on Earth. Disneybashing.. It’s just, I thought Id always opt for Paris, London or Athens given the chance to travel. Like all the cool kids, right?

And then there’s this ethos, ever see the previews for Disney bluerays? The happy family in pristine fabulously appointed home, gave me a good eyeroll as my own family ran about the mess of a hollow we called a living room.

But I’ve changed. I get it Walt, I really do! I’m sincere, and I’ve been softened. There is no delight like that of a toddler meeting Mickey Mouse. When I became a parent, I learned to follow my sons lead and just enjoy things as they’re found enjoyable. Let go a bit, have fun. Hang that self-preoccupation. If it’s fun, it’s fun. And not every moment of life will be fun, so why find some reason to scorn those moments that are? Thank you, Mickey, Walt, and Crew for making our trip SO MUCH FUN!

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We met Mickey 4 times!

And here I go, the new convert:

I’d highly recommend, if you can spare the cost, doing a character meal. They’re a great chance to meet a bunch of characters at once, while enjoying a yummy meal. Guess what? Meeting the characters was surprisingly exciting and fun for us big people too!

Everything I read said you had to book these waaaaay in advance. Nope! For Pooh and the rest we just took a buzzer like any old time at a popular restaurant. My favorite was breakfast at the Contemporary.
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I’m genuinely thrilled lol

They were all so darn charming and sweet, I especially loved Pluto and Donald. Honestly, their spunk made my day as much as Munchies. Not to mention that each of those experiences happened at an all-you-can-eat-buffets… Pricey? Yep. Do it. Turn over those couch cushions, scrounge those pennies, and enjoy!

Can we talk about food? To keep our budgets and waistlines in check we brought a few of our own snacks that keep well, like dried fruit and nuts, larabars, and would grab fruit and veggie packs as we found them. Most of my meals I opted for veggies and a protein of some sort.

But we were also on vacation! So relax! Those are the times to enjoy a little. Oooooh did that giant sundae we shared on Mainstreet during the Electric Lights Parade taste good.

I worried a lot about all the travel involved, to and from the air port, from our hotel to the parks and back again and back again between naptime. My little boy just detests sitting still. But it was not a problem. Not once. After he caught on to what this whole thing was all about, he was game and demonstrating the zen-like patience of a true Disney-master.

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nevertheless, have some backup- who knew the felt-backs of bus seats would make such great sticker boards??

My sons favorite ride was definitely Small World. We rode it 4 times.

He also said this was one of his favorite rides:

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He would request ‘the fountain ride.’ Folks, when you’re with a toddler, everything has the potential to be a fascinating and new experience. I didn’t mind the chance to sit and regroup while my LO enjoyed his ‘fountain ride.’

Disneyworld can be exhausting for toddlers, with the new routine and all the excitement. We took advantage of his nap times, and would go back to our motel during the heat of the day to rest, and eat, all ready to head back out for the afternoon and evening.

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zonkered

We stayed at one of the cheaper motel options that was part of the Disneyworld resorts line-up. I’m really glad we did, especially since we were consistently returning there midday as a means of preserving of our sanity. It felt like a contiguous part of the whole experience!

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a giant Dalmatian!

During these nap-breaks I’d fit in some exercise. I would do a 30-minute brutalizing met-con routine- I had two different plans and would alternate them- and then follow that by maybe an additional 10-15 minutes of lower intensity cardio. This I did in the small space between the main ‘bedroom’ and the bathroom, like where the sink and vanity were, while my dear son dreamed of Mickey pops and Piglet dolls.

This isn’t the exact routine, but something like this:

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The cardio would be some jogging or dancing in place. Inside. Out of the heat. While the baby slept. Pure genius.

Even when you can’t have access to heavy weights or whatever equipment or space you might use, if you’re motivated, you can still find ways to challenge yourself and keep that intensity high. Progress is all about intensity.

We also walked a bunch, all over the park. In short, fitting in fitness was not a problem. It was easy, and a fun change of pace from my normal lifting routine.

Guess what? Despite not really paying too close attention to how I ate, while also feasting at those buffets, my clothes were actually looser on the way home. Not really what needs to happen on vacation, but I’m just trying to say health and enjoyment can go hand in hand. And this is a bit of a fitness/health blog 😉 so you’re going to hear how I took care of those things on a trip!

All in all it was magical. People warned us that traveling there with a toddler would be a waste. Nothing could be further from the truth. I can’t think of a better place to have gone with a toddler. Simply smashing, my dears! If you’re on the fence about whether to ‘wait till Sally’s [or maybe it’s Avery these days] older,’ get off that fence and onto Kayak! Book those flights and look forward to the fun any parents of toddlers deserves.

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**sigh** I think I missed my calling as a Disneyworld dancer

Most of all, though, what made it SO memorable was all the time I spent with these two people:

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They’re my favorite people in the whole wide world. And I got to take them home with me 🙂

Do you have tips for doing Disney with a toddler?

How do you keep to your fitness and health commitments, while still enjoying your vacation as much as possible?

Let me know in the comments!

XOXO

Long Mornings, Parts 1 and 2

I’ve been on a ‘cut’ for a while, and the deeper we go into it, the more spartan my meal plan has become. So what does a body-building girl who’s in love with breakfast do?? Well let me show you.

Right now I’m kindof acting as short-order cook for my family. My son eats like a toddler, I’m eating like a bodybuilder on a big cut, and I can totally respect that my husband would like to eat like a normal person. Since I love both food and cooking, and since I have the time, this is not a problem for me. Oh but, with a toddler you gotta cook fast. And I’ve learned how:

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the prep station

Part 1 of our morning consists of getting all this food made, while maybe getting some emergency calories into Munchie stat when he’s in a growth spurt or whatnot and is starving after a long night. I feel his pain, truly I do. My muscles CANT WAIT to be off this cut.

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Munchie excited to EAT!

What he ate:

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apricot and PB toast fingers, cheesy egg and raspberries

I feel no shame in extolling the virtues of the microwave. Cheesy eggs with no pans my friends! Crack an egg or two into a ramekin or small bowl, drop in some chunks of your favorite cheese- we did a sharp cheddar, but I always love eggs with a pungent blue of some description- and microwave for give or take 90 seconds, giving the whole thing a whip with the fork half way through.

What Daddy ate:

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lucky for me, today Daddy and Munch were game for the same breakfast

If you have extra time, throw some salsa or fresh herbs over those eggs. Cheesy, runny fresh eggs in seconds.

And then there’s my sorry fare.

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Egg whites with a 1/4 cup oats. Oh dear. Sure, I’ll get a protein shake in about an hour, but this is a far cry from the feast I get on maintenance, let alone a bulk.

So here’s what I do.

Combine those whites and oats. This really works better with another 1/4 cup oats but here we are. And microwave that sucker.

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still looks monstrous- stick with me!

Then there’s this stuff.

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Pumpkin butter! Seriously delicious, and only a few carbs to count here. This one was made locally, and uses far less sugar than the versions you sometimes find in chain grocers.

Check your farmers markets, food co-ops and lovely next-door-neighbor-grandmothers-who-still-make-their-own-preserves-and-will-pinch-your-cheeks, for fruit spreads that are likely made with less sugar and are delightfully fresher than your standard commercial retail versions. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found my system goes wonky on artificial sweeteners, so I opt for low-sugar versions of the real stuff.

So on it goes, along with a tbl of greek yogurt. Voila! Something lovely!

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Sure, it’s no chocolate chip pancake, but it’s not bad considering I can see a six pack poking through. 😉 On me, not the eggs you silly goose!

Keeping Munchie occupied during breakfast prep is paramount.

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oodles of doodles!

Since bodybuilding I’ve learned how important it is for my sanity and for my muscles to have a good ratio of proteins, carbs and fats. Getting this right has made such a difference in the way I look and feel- whether you do a meal plan, IIFYM, intuitive eating, calorie counting, you should definitely consider your own ratios. You could be selling yourself short.

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And then there’s the delicious cup of coffee my husband brews every morning. It tastes like liquid chocolate when the beans are I Have a Bean, and we’re using Chemex.

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What does your breakfast look like when you’re trying to cut down? How do you keep the flavor in the equation?

What kindof principles do you follow in making your food choices? Are you an intuitive eater sort of earthy chick? Are you a muscle-maxing meal planning man? Are you a calorie and macro planning IIFYM whiz kid? What’s working for you?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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Fruit is fun!

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think they’re picking at the left-overs

XOXO

Long Mornings, part 3

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I love mornings. Even before having a baby who would start his day at oh, say, 5 or 6am, I liked to get up early. And dear me, I love a leisurely breakfast. It’s probably been said too many times, but mornings just taste of possibility. Often, I go to bed sooner than I might need to because I’m excited for the morning to come, and with it, breakfast.

Our mornings these days definitely have three stages, with 2-3 breakfasts. I’m in heaven. I’m going to jump right into Part 3 with you today.

After we eat the ‘main course,’ we usually wander over to the living room. Today my son wanted to hear my husband play the banjo.IMG_0275.JPG
After running around, and multiple requests for Kermit’s rainbow song, Munchie (my son), heads back to the playroom/toddler-friendly-dining-room for second breakfast. Today he wanted bunny crackers.
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And we made toast together for the first time. Wish you could have seen his surprise when the toast popped! back out of the toaster. I love how exciting and new everything is for a toddler. Also I find if I let him guide the process of choosing what he eats, and making it, he’s waaay more likely to eat without fuss. That’s a good thing!

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Me, I mix up my protein shake while my husband showers and gets ready for work.

I’ve come to adore the taste and texture and standards of the Bodylogix whey. I chill a glass the night before.

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Add a little chemex-made coffee and some ice cubes.

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And then enjoy the frothy, frosty, chocolatey delight.

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Then we get ready to go, all the essentials in hand:

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Then we drop daddy off at work and head to the gym. Munchie LOVES going. So do I.

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Here’s today’s workout, provided by my awesome coach. As you can see, or not see since my writing is like chicken-scratch, it’s ALL ARMS.

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I love working my shoulders. I feel awesome doing Arnold presses. But blech to bicep work.

I did have my sights on some sort of fitness competition, but as I’m home with my son, and in moving we lost a lot of our supplementary gigs, which for me included teaching fitness classes and nannying, we’ve had to cut back. I still would love to compete, but for now I can’t plan for it financially.

Right now, my arms are still small, but definitely got some muscles popping:

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Then I pick up my son, and it’s time for next breakfast. He pretty much carbs it up with chocolate milk, applesauce, and crackers, while we watch people working out below us. It’s a special time we share, chatting about toddler things. He’s actually really insightful, and frankly, hilarious.

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I never thought I’d be home with a son, but right now I can’t think of anything better for my life. How little we know ourselves, huh?

What are your mornings like? Are they long and leisurely? Or a blustery affair?

And do you take anything pre-workout? Do you work your arms separately?

Xo