Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Walk It Off: Work Out Wednesday

I'm working on a recipe post, but I wanted to get this post up and running. Pardon the pun.

I'm coming right out and acknowledging that the stress of the last 9 or so months has not been good for my health & fitness goals. I used to be in a place where exercise helped me deal with stress, but the combination of late pregnancy and post-surgery gave me an easy excuse to not work out for long enough that I fell out of habit. And let's face it, emotional eating became a norm as well.

I'm taking steps to get back into a recognizable shape, quite literally. I've had some success in the past using a pedometer to motivate myself to get up and move more, so I've strapped my little Omron back on. The added challenges of a job that requires me to sit and 2 kids that command almost all of my nonworking hours mean that I will have to work twice as hard to find time for fitness.

With the pedometer, I have recorded results that taking the stairs and walking the long way can actually add up. Studies have shown that a minimum of 10,000 steps per day can maintain health, while 12,000-15,000 can result in weight loss. My goal is to average 12,000 steps per day, and I'll post my results here for accountability.

Last week I only measured for 4 days, and averaged 8896 steps. Not great, but it's a baseline for improvement. Can you tell I work for a statistics company now?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sweet Tater Muffins

So, it's fall. Fall usually means muffins in my kitchen...ok, days that end in "y" usually means muffins. Basically any excuse to get the smell of cinnamon going in the house is good enough for me, and the in-season produce of fall does the job particularly well. Pumpkins and winter squashes have proved to be excellent muffin stuffin', as has apples, carrots, and cranberries.

I've been on a baby-food-making spree for the last week or so, which means picking up extra sweet potatoes at the market. The one thing I've learned about making baby food from scratch is that if you're going to do all that cooking, peeling, and pureeing, you might as well do it in big batches. At $1.50 per pound, this super healthy fall veggie makes a ton of easy baby food with enough left over to try to sneak into Joe's food, too.

The following recipe is adapted from the Barefoot Kitchen Witch. I added rolled oats and flax meal, which I've been buying organic in bulk. I also subbed out the butter for low fat vanilla yogurt and pure maple syrup for some of the brown sugar. The yogurt makes it a surprisingly light and fluffy muffin, considering the relative density of the sweet potato.

The house, of course, smells amazing while these are baking.

1 overripe banana
1 large sweet potato, baked and cooled
1/2 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup thick rolled oats
1/4 cup flax meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch pumpkin pie spice

*Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.

*In a stand mixer, blend together brown sugar, maple syrup, and yogurt.

*Add the eggs one at a time and blend well.

*Blend in the banana and sweet potato.

*Sift in the dry ingredients and mix until everything is just combined.

*Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.

I had to wait until Joe went to bed before attempting this recipe, because it only makes 1 dozen muffins and there would be none left for breakfast otherwise. It's almost midnight now, but I'm dying to have one with a big mug of coffee in the morning!

I'm also curious to see if my mom likes these, because she is very anti-sweet potato. Which of course makes me want to find some way to make her like them. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Things That Are New

-Owen, the Baby*
-Aidan, the nephew
-A surprising and wonderful relationship with my younger cousins, and the ability to watch them transform from children to young women
-A surprising and wonderful relationship with my aunt, who has showed me where things are and carried my moving boxes
-A job for Bill that has finally placed him on his desired career track
-A job for me that has renewed my confidence in my skills and has proven that flexibility can exist in the workplace
-The shocking cost of child care
-The heartache of searching for child care
-Daily terror of things happening to my children while at daycare
-The gripping worry that I will not be able to buy winter clothes for the kids
-The morning hustle-out-the-door rush and the evening hustle-to-fix-dinner frenzy
-Realizing that it's ok to spend an evening here and there vegged out in front of the TV
-Realizing that it's ok to forget the dishes and take a family walk, happen upon a local playground, and waste the daylight hours watching Joe run around and climb until the sun goes down
-A big basement
-Plenty of bedrooms and living spaces for guests and hosting every family event I can wrangle
-Owning a rental property
-Having renters we've never met
-Many local, organic food options close to home and in every store
-The ability to go to a farmer's market on almost every day of the week
-A fantastic, affordable CSA delivery every week, year-round
-Quality preschool education for Joe
-Joe's relationship with his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins
-Joe's relationship with his brother
-Joe, the Boy

*By far makes up for everything lost and all difficult things found.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Things That Are Back

-Less than an hour's drive to my best friends
-My parents and my mother-in-law at arm's length
-The realization that my parents and I do not make good roommates
-The need to set an alarm in the morning
-Boston's love of jumping fences and meeting neighbors
-Quality local news production
-Work clothes
-A commute
-Seeing my sister's eyes rolling at the things I say
-Dining options
-Cultural diversity
-Foreign languages
-Local government regulations
-The high cost of everything
-The gripping, steady, omnipresent fear of not making ends meet
-Seasons that can be enjoyed outdoors
-Grass that can be walked on barefoot
-The ability to spend weeknights, not just holidays, with family and old friends
-Monthly rent
-Living in and maintaining a home that is not ours
-Stress eating
-Two year's worth of lost weight
-Sleepless nights
-Breastfeeding, pumping, and dirty diapers
-The redeeming joy that comes from watching our child(ren) learn something new

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Things That Are Gone

-The rabbits
-Bill's job in Oklahoma
-My remote job(s)
-My home office
-Black widow spiders
-My vegetable garden
-Expendable income
-My feeling of isolation from people who have similar social and political leanings
-The need to fly across the country 5-6 times per year
-The shed
-Our once-in-a-lifetime friends and neighbors, who were like candles in the window on a very dark night
-The ability to see for miles in every direction
-My ability to stay home with my children, which was why we moved to Oklahoma in the first place
-My big, brand-new kitchen and acres of counter space
-Our big garage
-The idea that there is a limit to what I can do when pushed
-Our hybrid car
-Any remaining faith in the old truck to safely transport the children anywhere
-The accident-free record for my Matrix
-Owen's first carseat, having performed its most important function
-All of our contingency plans
-Joe, the Baby

Friday, September 16, 2011

Controlling Change

I'm yanking off the bandaid. There have been a million reasons why I haven't posted a single blog in over a year, and I'm sure that I will address them in time, but for now I need to write.

This morning we woke up to the first cool morning of fall and everyone needed a sweater before leaving the house. It's transition time. It's time to prepare for the long winter ahead, while enjoying the opportunities that present themselves today.

So much has changed in my life since my last post, and almost all of it was out of my control. Even though much of the change has been positive, I still feel raw and shaken by how my painstaking plans for myself and my family did not play out. I like to think that we made the most of a very bad situation, and I take great comfort knowing that we are not alone in our struggle.

Maybe because I had so little control over the last nine months of my life, I feel a pull to reclaim things that used to make me happy. This blog and the activities that filled its posts represent stability for me because they meant that I had the time, energy, and will to take on outside interests, try new things, and take time to reflect on them.

I'm tired of waiting to feel like I have control over my life again, so I am taking it back for myself.

This morning, while the baby naps and the school buses creep down the street, I am baking a loaf of bread.