Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Bidding You All Adieu

The time has come for me to put aside blogging.  I don't know how long I'll be away, so let's just assume that I may not be blogging at SuperSmartMama ever again.  After much debate, I've decided there isn't enough time right now for me to blog regularly, so I'll continue to contribute to the blogosphere -- as a reader.

I'll miss sharing my little corner of the world, but don't fret, I'll still be out there visiting blogs and leaving comments.  So keep on posting and keep on sharing what's going on in your world!

The blogging community has provided me ideas, motivation, thoughtful discussion, and most important for a stay-at-home mom: community.

So thank you, bloggers, for putting yourself out there and sharing all wonderful words with all of us.  And thank you, readers, for visiting my blog, sharing your thoughts, and allowing me a wonderful virtual world where I could find a few moments every day to have adult conversations.  It has been wonderful to exercise my brain beyond the world of babies and toddlers.

Blog on!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Run a 5K with Baby

This weekend, I ran my first 5K post-baby and I ran it with my little one in the jogger stroller.  Although my training for the race didn't go as I had originally planned, I went ahead and ran the race anyway, as I was already signed up.  It was my first race ever with a jogger stroller and it was a great experience.

I had a training plan in place -- and I encourage you to follow one, too -- but I had to stop running altogether two months before race day.  Despite not running for almost two months, I decided to show up for this weekend's race anyhow and loved every minute of it.  I didn't run the entire thing (I made my best effort to run most of it) and I found that what I enjoyed most wasn't racing, but the camaraderie of being out there with runners and walkers just getting outside and moving.

I'm not encouraging you to run your first race without any training, but I'm sharing my story to let you know that you don't have to be an experienced runner to participate in a 5K.
Here's why you should consider running a 5K with your baby, even if you've never run before.  (If you decide to sign up for a 5K race, make sure to check the race regulations to see if strollers are allowed.)

1. 5K races attract both walkers and serious runners.  Every race will have some speedy runners, but the 5K distance is great for new runners and people interested in walking, so if you're feeling nervous about not keeping up, don't worry!  The 5K I ran this past weekend had four waves (term for how they group the race entrants so that the fastest people start at the front of the pack and the walkers get placed at the back) for runners, runners with dogs, and a family/walker wave:

2. Signing up for a 5K will provide motivation to exercise.  Knowing that you have a race coming up will encourage you to get out with baby and the jogger stroller!  If you can, enlist another mama friend with a jogger stroller and do your walks/runs together.

3. If your training goes awry, you can still walk a 5K.  Like the race I ran this past weekend, there will be plenty of walkers.  If you decide to walk, just park yourself at the back of the pack at the race start.  Not only is it good race etiquette, you won't feel pressured to run if you're only prepared to walk the entire race.

4. 5K is a distance you can finish in an hour or less.  If you decide to walk an entire 5K, you should be able to walk the whole race (briskly) in about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes.  As a walker, you'll be in good company in a 5K distance.

5.  It will be an event that you'll remember.  There's baby's first time sitting up, baby's first time standing, and baby's first words!  How many kids can say that they ran their first race with mom when they were a baby?

Have you ever run a 5K?  Did you train or not?  

If you're a seasoned runner, what's your favorite race distance?  Why?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

This and That

I am looking forward to the weekend.  There has been so much going on lately.  Between the THREE hospital appointments for Baby O this week and all the contractors coming by to work on the house (a fresh coat of paint, getting the sprinklers un-winterized, and a new roof!) I've barely had a moment to myself this week.

It's time to sit down with a cup of coffee and just chat about nothing in particular.  I'm linking up with Amanda to shoot the breeze and just share what's on my mind when I'm decompressing...

1. I'm usually a fairly clean eater but lately, I've been craving donuts.  Maybe my body is telling me something?  Like I need more carbs?

2. For the first time ever, we conducted a full-blown spring cleaning.  We've only lived in this house for about two years but we really needed to go through all our belongings and just get rid of stuff.  I even went through the kitchen and ended up cleaning out my spice collection.  I just removed a few odd spices that I've only used once or twice like ground allspice and Chinese five spice (I've learned I really don't like Chinese five spice).

3.  We've finally found a solution to eating dinner at home.  I was really struggling with the challenge of going grocery shopping, prepping dinner, and then cooking it.  I thought I hated all of it, but with our second week of Blue Apron, I've learned something about myself. Apparently, I don't mind cooking and cleanup all that much if someone else does the grocery shopping.  And it doesn't hurt if the food is super delicious.  Points to Blue Apron for introducing me to new foods like hominy and spring pea tips.

4. I'm looking for a few new statement necklaces.  I'm thinking about getting at least one of these:

5. I'm excited to try one of my Mother's Day's gifts: some amazing smelling bath products from Lush.  Have you even tried anything from Lush that you'd recommend?

6. After having a baby, I was excited when I started walking in February.  By March, I was starting to run a bit, too.  Unfortunately, I had to put a hold on my running progress.  I have plans to start running again, but not soon enough, because I have a 5K that I'm supposed to run this Saturday.  Although I'm not ready to run it, I am still planning on going and I'll probably walk it.  Both my husband and I are signed up, so he'll take one kid and I'll take the other.  It's a good thing we have two jogger strollers.

Have you done any spring cleaning?  Do you like going grocery shopping?  Are you doing any shopping to spruce up your wardrobe?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Free Summer Activities to do with the Kids

With Memorial Day just around the corner, I've got summer on my mind.  Here in Colorado, we try to make the most of our summer because the best summer weather usually happens between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  Here's what's on our bucket list for this summer...all kid-friendly ideas.

Cruise the Farmer's Market.  Farmer's markets not only have great produce, but also prepared foods and sometimes entertainment.  Our farmer's market is frequented by lots of other families, so we often see lots of other kids and we also see alot of pets -- lots of people bring their dogs.  Great fun for kids!

Attend a cultural event.  I like to seek out different cultures for the food, but you can use these events as learning experiences to introduce your kids to the world without leaving your town.

Watch a parade.  Cultural events sometimes have parades.  Fourth of July is a great holiday to find a local parade.

Grow something.  You can plant a garden or do something simple: herbs or a few flowers in a pot.  Kids love watching things grow from a seed into a plant.

Pack a basket and go on a picnic.  If your kids are old enough, have them help choose what goes in the basket.  Pack a few fun activities (a frisbee or boomerang, etc.) and go enjoy a beautiful park in your town or city.

Spend a day at the zoo.  Check your local zoo's website and find a free day or a day with special activities.  We like to pack a lunch (to save money and to make sure we have healthy choices to eat) and save our money for a souvenir (or two).

Visit the botanic gardens.  Go on a free day -- most museums, zoos, and similar institutions usually feature a free entrance day at least once a month.

Tour a farm.  I'm really excited about doing this.  In Colorado we have many farms near us so I'm hoping to find one that allows tours so that I can introduce my son to where his food comes from.

Try an easy hike.  Once our son turned three (last summer) we asked him to hike on his own.  Prior to that we had always carried him in a backpack or put him in a jogger stroller. There were times where my husband would carry him (on the shoulders) but for the most part, he is a pretty good walker!  We keep our hikes to an hour or less.

Go camping.  Although we have an infant, we're going to try and go to a family friendly campground this summer.  Here's one I'm looking at, there may be a similar type of campground in your neck of the woods: Jellystone Park/Campground.

What are your family-friendly ideas for the summer?  Any tips on how to juggle a 4 year old and an infant when going on summer outings?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Baby & Mama Update: 5 Months!

How was your Mother's Day weekend?  Our was full of rain...and snow:
Yes, it snows in May when you live in Colorado.  The crazy thing is it snowed on Mother's Day last year, too.  Despite the snow, I had a great Mother's Day weekend, with lots of relaxing and not a whole lot of cooking (by me).  My favorite part is that my husband came home early on Friday afternoon, took care of the kids, and made dinner, too!  We got our first shipment of Blue Apron last Wednesday and hubby has volunteered to make most of the dinners delivered by Blue Apron.  He loves how easy it is to follow the directions and that we don't have to shop for all the ingredients.  Everything gets delivered in a box right to our house.  Friday night we had crispy fish tacos with english pea guacamole and pea tip salad.  I didn't even know what pea tips were until that night...

So it's time for a baby & mama update.  Somehow I missed providing you all with an update at the 4 month mark, so let's make up for some lost time!

What I'm Loving Right Now
Baby O's hair is just funny...she was born with alot of hair, but now her hair is falling out / thinning out on the sides and in the back.  Meanwhile her hair continues to grow on top and in the front (bangs) so it's starting to look a bit like a faux-hawk.  Her older brother's hair did the same thing right around the 5-6 month mark.

Everything was going great with feeding the first three months: I was exclusively breastfeeding, I stockpiled a supply of pumped milk (in case I got sick), and Baby O became such a great sleeper that we decided to stop having my husband feed with a bottle -- Baby O was only nursing at 1am and 6am, so I was getting plenty of sleep.  No need for hubby to handle any of the night feedings.

What a mistake it was giving up the bottle.  At the end of March we went in for our four-month checkup and learned that baby O was underweight, so we were asked to supplement nursing with bottle feedings.  As luck would have it, she no longer wanted to have anything to do with the bottle.  We've tried different bottle nipples.  No luck.  We have even been experimenting with feeding her breastmilk with a spoon (do you have any idea how long this takes?!) and that's been met with mixed results.

This past weekend we finally saw a glimmer of hope: we decided to move onto solids.  Baby O ate pureed banana!  Because we've been struggling with supplementing for a month, we have a referral to see a feeding consultant at our local Children's Hospital, so I hope that we get some good help/tips on how to get her to take the bottle, if it is recommended to still supplement with breastmilk or formula over solid foods.

We're still using the magical combination of swaddle, pacifier, and rock n' play.  We had intended to start transitioning her to the crib this past month but then we were overwhelmed with trying to feed Baby O.  She does like being swaddled and will often nap 2 hours in the morning, 3 hours in the afternoon, and then nighttime sleep is 8pm-8am.

We'd be more worried about Baby O's eating situation if it wasn't for the fact that she is sleeping well, and when she's awake she's very alert and happy.  She likes to stand and doesn't have much patience for sitting in her bouncy chair or swing these days.

Baby O enjoys tummy time and is using her hands more to explore her world.  She's also finally figured out how to get a few fingers in her mouth:

But she's not yet able to suck her thumb like her brother.  Here's a side-by-side comparison of both them around the 5 month mark.  It amazes me how alike they look!

Mama Update
Back in March I was starting to get out alot with Baby O in the stroller.  I was walking 3-4 miles a day, 3-4 days a week.  I even started slipping in some running!  And then when we found out my supply (breastfeeding) was running low, I stopped walking/running because I was busy trying to nurse Baby O, then offer the bottle right after feeding, and then pumping after all of that (pumping is a great way to increase your supply).  All those extra feeding activities took over our schedule.  I was also worried that maybe I increased my activity too quickly and that may have contributed to my low supply.

I would like to get back to getting active again and now that we're going to see the feeding consultant and Baby O might be eating solids soon, I'm hoping I can spend less time pumping and find time again to exercise but I may opt for easier workouts so that I don't adversely affect my supply again.

What I'm Looking Forward To
I hope Baby O learns to sit up soon.  We have her in a Bumbo for her feedings and that's working out well.  She definitely wants to be part of the action and I can't wait for her to be able to sit in a high chair when we go out to dinner at restaurants!  I'm also looking forward to her having better control with her hands so that she can pick up solids and put them in her mouth.  I've read a lot about baby-led weaning and can't wait to try it out.

Earlier Updates
Here are more baby & mama updates if you missed them...
Baby & Mama at 2 Weeks
Baby & Mama at 3 Weeks
Baby & Mama at 4 Weeks
Baby & Mama at 2 Months
Baby & Mama at 3 Months

I'm linking up with Katie on this wonderful Monday!

How was your weekend?  Did you celebrate Mother's Day weekend?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Let's Have Coffee!

Happy Friday!  Are you glad the weekend is here?  I am -- and I'm so glad you agreed to meet with me for an afternoon coffee while Baby O is taking her afternoon nap.  It's nice to be able to have an adult conversation with someone now and again when most of your week is spent at home minding the sleep-wake-feed-play schedule that is my life right now.

We would have to have coffee at my house (thanks to baby being asleep) but you wouldn't mind.  I could make you just about anything you like.  Coffee?  Cappucino?  Tea?  Sorry - I don't know how to replicate any of Starbuck's Frappucinos, but I hear that they are having a Frappucino Happy Hour every day from 3-5pm until May 10.

You would ask why I am having coffee with coconut milk in it and I would explain that I am abstaining from dairy for one week, per Baby O's pediatrician's request: we're trying to rule out allergies to dairy - for Baby O, not for me.  If she's allergic to cow's milk that could prevent her from getting enough nutrition from breastmilk.  I'd go on to explain how I've spent the last month working with our pediatrician to get more calories into Baby O because as of March 31, she has fallen off her growth curve and is not gaining weight as expected:
The personal part of this whole problem is that I've learned that I'm not making enough milk for Baby O.  Since we've been exclusively breastfeeding since she was born, my milk has been her only source of nutrients.  I'd briefly touch upon the various challenges we've battled in April: me trying every known way to increase my milk supply (without much luck) and our inability to get Baby O to take the bottle: apparently she's a boob baby.  We've tried every known bottle nipple on the market, we've tried spooning breastmilk/formula, and now we are trying solids.  Because we haven't had much luck with any of these methods, we've been referred to our local Children's Hospital to get some help from a feeding consultant.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Related to the milk supply issue, I've been so busy pumping between feedings and trying to get Baby O to take the bottle that I've pretty much stopped running.  I had made some good progress with my running in the latter part of March and all that progress has been undone.  Once I got over my disappointment (I told myself that this is just a small phase in Baby O's life), it was easier to accept that running is something I have to put on hold for a little bit longer.  A few more months won't make a difference in the long run.

To get us back on a lighter topic, I'd ask if you've seen any good movies or read any good books lately.  We recently watched Wild on DVD (Saturday at-home-date-night!), and I found the movie to be one of those rare just-as-good-as-the-book movies.  That almost never happens.  Of course, in full disclosure, I'd remind you that I am a big fan of Reese Witherspoon.  I think she is an amazing actress.

And let's not forget our favorite subject: food!  I'd ask you if you've been cooking anything delicious at home lately and you'd tell me about how you've been grilling outside because it's finally been warm enough!  I'd agree and mention that we got our first box from Blue Apron and hubby has been making dinner for us so that I can just relax with the kids at the end of my day.

You would ask what our Mother's Day plans are for the weekend.  As much as I'd like to go to brunch or dinner at a fancy restaurant, it's just not as fun with two kids under five, so I think it'll be much easier if we do a picnic, which is what we're planning on for Saturday or Sunday -- as long as the Denver weather agrees with our plans.

If we were having coffee, what would you share with me?  Any good plans for Mother's Day weekend?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Pampering: Mamastyle

I have never been much of a beauty / skincare person.  For the longest time, my beauty routine has almost always been foundation, powder, mascara, and eyeliner.  At night, a good makeup remover and moisturizer at night.  That's it.

As I've gotten older, I've found myself looking for a few products now and again to help me feel pampered.  Now that I'm a mom, there's not much free time to get out to the day spa so I try to get some pampering done at home.

Now that Baby O is five months old, I've had more free time to do normal things like shower and blow dry my hair which is wonderful.  My husband has also been encouraging me to get out of the house on the weekends to go get a mani/pedi.  I recently took it one step further and ordered a few new beauty/makeup products for myself.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Motherhood Right Now

Happy Tuesday!

Some days I wake up and ask myself, What?!  Whose kids are these?!  If you had asked my twenty-something-self about kids I would have told you no way am I going to be a parent...  But here we are:

I love that parenthood means that every day is new adventure.  There are the good days and there are the bad days, and I wouldn't trade a single one for life without kids.  Here's motherhood for me right now:

Toddlers don't nap.  Big brother does not want to nap anymore.  At least that's what he insists.  He stopped napping at daycare about two months ago, but he will still nap at home on the weekends (ok, most weekends).  This past Sunday, he got up out of his bed every fifteen minutes asking if "resting time" was over.  I finally gave up and took him to the library and during the fifteen minute drive over, this happened:

Babies nap anywhere.  On the other hand, Baby O will nap anywhere, including in her carrier while we're shopping.  I love it!  I can get some steps in while I get my fashion fix.  Hooray.

I LOOOOOVE the grocery store.  I had one of those you-know-you're-a-mother-when moments when I was at the grocery store all alone this weekend.  No carseat to lug over to the shopping cart.  No toddler pulling at my arm Can I have a movie, mama?  Just me and my shopping list.  Bliss.

Our weekend "hikes" require two strollers.  Living in Colorado we have so many great places to hike.  Unfortunately, we have to currently stick to hiking where we can push our strollers...

The potty "battle" that never ends.  What is it about toddlers NOT wanting to go use the bathroom?  My son will do the potty dance all around the house and insist that he does not have to use the bathroom.  As soon as we have to go somewhere, we get in the car, and five minutes later I hear Mama, I neeeeed to go potty.

It's crazy to think that in a couple of months, when Baby O can sit up in a high chair, as she learns to eat solids, life will change again.  By that time, my toddler will be four years old and I'm sure he will change in unexpected ways and life with these two will be a completely different experience.

Is there something about your life now that you never imagined you'd be doing?  Or are you a member of the "never say never" party?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Thinking Positive in May

I can't tell you how glad I am to say goodbye to April.  It was a tough month in so many ways.  In March, I was doing so well with my fitness: walking 4-5 times a week and getting back into running.  Then we went to Baby O's four-month baby appointment and learned that she had fallen off her growth curve, and since then, everything has gone into a bit of a tailspin: my exercise has all but disappeared and my eating hasn't been so great.  I've spent the last month trying to increase my milk supply and working to transition Baby O to the bottle.  Neither has gone well, but I'll have to save the stories around those battles for another post.

I'm doing my best to shake off the frustration, so I'm setting some goals for May.  But first, I have to say happy birthday to Baby O.  She turned five months old last Friday:

May Goals

I've never defined goals publicly here on my blog, but it's something I'd like to do every month starting NOW.  I have a couple of long term goals that I'd like to achieve, too, so some of the goals I'm listing below are really part of bigger goals.

Run 2 miles x 2-3 times a week.  Post-baby, I started taking 2-4 mile walks back in early March which eventually led to sessions where I was running 2 miles + walking 2 miles.  Unfortunately, stress over my milk supply for Baby O derailed my running.  I've done what I can to increase my milk supply, so I'm ready to get back to running again.
Long-term goal: run a half-marathon in October

Eliminate added sugars.  Before I had the baby, I was really good about avoiding all refined sugars except dark chocolate, fruit, and occasional honey.  I eased up this rule after my pregnancy and thanks to all the stress in April, I've found that I've been eating alot of chocolate chip walnut cookies (there's a bakery nearby that makes the best cookies!).  For the month of May, I'm going to try and cut back to 2-3 desserts a week.
Long-term goal: get back to avoiding all refined sugars except dark chocolate, fruit, and honey.

Find a mother's helper.  I was really overwhelmed with managing two kids by myself in April.  My husband had several business trips out of town and I realized that I just can't manage the kids by myself -- it's just my personal limitation.  It took me some time to accept this, but now I have and I am currently interviewing candidates for a mother's helper position.  The next business trip my husband takes, I'll have my mother's helper over during the evening (dinner time to bedtime)
Long-term goal: find the right balance to being a mother of two so that I get ME time and am also a GREAT mom to my two little ones.  I don't know what this looks like exactly, but fewer mental breakdowns might be a good goal.

Get pampered at least once a month.  Another stress-buster for this mama.  My husband and I have agreed that on the weekends, I should sign up for a pedicure, massage, anything so that I get out of the house for an hour or two by myself.  We're pretty busy on the weekends, so I'm setting a more realistic goal to go once a month.

Research future career options.  I've been procrastinating on this one for quite some time now.  After I had my first child, I talked about finding a new career, but I went back to work in the same field (project management in information technology).  Now that I've had my second child, I'm ready to research options and, possibly, take classes in a new field.
Long-term goal: take classes that could lead to a new career

Do you set goals?  Do you have one you'd care to share?  How do you make sure that goals don't get forgotten?

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Good Week to be Home

Hooray for Friday!  Every week it amazes me how quickly the end of the week suddenly arrives.  I feel like I have my schedule under control up through somewhere in the middle of the week and then Thursday and Friday just fly by in a flash.

After a week away in North Carolina, it was really nice to be at home and back in our routine.  Highlights from the week included storytime with both kiddos, making an easy pot roast, going to the Apple store to get our slow Macbook laptop assessed, a mid-week treat to burgers, fries, and shakes, and buying a new mountain bike (an early Mother's Day present!).

This weekend, I'm looking forward to going to my son's soccer practice, trying out a new brunch place, and testing out my new bike on a ride with the entire family.

What are you looking forward to this weekend?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Eats for a Busy Mom

After taking the kiddos to see grandma in North Carolina last week, it has been all about getting back into our routine here in Denver.  I'm probably not going to get any sympathy here, but it really helps to have one child in school...watching the baby at home is definitely a full-time job.

In general, here's what our weekly routine looks like, more or less:

1. Toddler K goes to Montessori five days a week (Monday-Friday)

2. A speech pathology appointment for toddler K

3. A weekly weigh-in for baby O (she's been underweight since her 4 month appointment)

4. Every other week: a visit from the occupational therapist for baby O

5. On the alternating week: a visit from an Early Intervention Specialist (for baby O's hearing aids)

Throw in house chores, runs to the grocery store, morning walks, playdates, and an occasional trip to baby/toddler hour at our local library and we are barely squeezing everything in between naps!

Because we're so busy these days, I've nixed complicated meals and go for what's easy, but still fairly nutritious.  Here's what I ate on Monday...I'm linking up with Jenn for What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) and sharing my eats from earlier this week.

Breakfast: Berries & Yogurt

I usually have eggs for breakfast, but lately I've been all about fruit & yogurt.  I like to add in sliced almonds, flaxseed, and hemp hearts for a little texture and crunch.

Lunch: Turkey Lasagna with Stir-Fried Veggies

I'm currently trying out a meal service, which delivers pre-prepared meals.  All I have to do is put the meal in the microwave for a few minutes and lunch/dinner is served.  I love it.  No prep, very little cleanup, and no wasted food leftover in the fridge or pantry.  I don't think I'll be doing this forever, but I am going to try it out for the next couple of months until I am able to find time to prep more on the weekends and have meals in the fridge for the week.

Dinner: Pot Roast with Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Now I did make dinner on Monday.  I make a very simplified pot roast, which takes me all of 20-30 minutes to prep and assemble in my favorite cast iron pot.  Then I pop it in the oven for three hours and dinner is ready.  I roasted some brussel sprouts to accompany the pot roast, onions, and carrots, and voila!  Dinner.

What are you eating these days?  Are you eating for convenience or are you having fun in the kitchen?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Seven Things Every New Mama Should Do (Often)

Hey mamas-to-be!  I'm sure you've read your copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting several times now, but are you sure you know what to expect after le bebe is born?  Sure you've read up on diapering, nursing versus bottle feeding, and know all about what little sleep you're going to be getting those first few months.

But have you read anything about how to take care of you?

I'm talking beyond stocking your freezer with meals and getting family/friends to help with laundry and housecleaning.  I'm talking about making sure you know how to take care of yourself.

Here are several things you should plan on after the baby is born.  Read it, share it with your partner, and prepare.

1. Sleep

I had to get this one out of the way, because it is the most obvious "must do".  It's no secret that you won't get much sleep the first few months, especially if you are exclusively nursing.  Even after feedings stretch out to every three hours, resist the urge to choose watching a movie over getting some sleep.  It's tempting, I know, to choose to a movie or get housework done, but your body needs rest!

2. Hand off responsibility

It took my type-A personality some time to go with this one, but you have to hand off your responsibilities to everyone else and just focus on you and the baby.  Have your partner take care of the household chores or hire someone to help out.  Let go.

3. Get a pedicure

Do it.  Don't even think about it.  If you can, sign up for a monthly membership at your local day spa, and just go get your feet rubbed once a month.  Even if you've never gotten a pedicure in your life, go do it, because there is nothing like getting a few hours to yourself.  No crying.  No stress.  No having to do anything but sit there and close your eyes.

4. Get outside

Leave the house.  Breathe some fresh air.  If you're feeling up to it, get some exercise!

5. Meet with friends

If you're the only one in your circle of friends with a new baby at the moment, it's very easy to isolate yourself.  Don't.  Take the baby and go somewhere baby-friendly.  A coffee shop.  The park.  Your friend's house.  That way you can take care of #4 and also get a little socializing in your life because that will be a sanity saver.

6. Make new friends

Go to the baby/toddler hour at your local library and meet other new moms.  Making new friends with other new moms is a great way to create new friendships that may grow as your baby gets older.

7. Set aside quality time with your partner

It doesn't have to be date night (but it can be!), just make sure you find some time every week to just BE with your partner, without the baby.  Our favorite way to spend quality time is to order takeout and watch a movie after the baby goes to bed.

Mamas who have been there: what would you add to this list of must-do activities to stay sane those first few months of motherhood?

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Change of Scenery

Happy Monday, friends!

I'm back from a much needed weeklong break.  I took two vacations: a trip to North Carolina with the kiddos to see grandma (my mother-in-law) and a vacation from social media.  Both were a success...

Traveling Solo with Two

I took my first solo trip with my toddler and my infant.  I knew it was going to be tough but I managed.  Our flight from Denver to Raleigh was about five hours total and with the help of the iPad (loaded with some good movies and a few educational games), the kindness of strangers, and some strategic seating, the three of us travelled without offending too many of our fellow passengers.

Enjoying Raleigh & Chapel Hill

We visit North Carolina regularly, so I have my favorite restaurants...the weather was just amazing so we ate outdoors at Gugelhupf, one of my favorite places for brunch.

Homecooked Meals

Another plus of going to visit my mother-in-law is that she loves to cook and entertain.  We had fabulous meals...I did my share in the kitchen to make sure that I stayed away from any pasta and bread (I do eat rice).  Instead, I had roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, brussel sprouts, and broccoli.  Great eats every night.

Exploring Museums

No trip to Chapel Hill / Raleigh / Durham would be complete without a visit to one of their many childrens' museums.  We explored two new museums including the Marbles Museum.  My son loved it.  I was pretty impressed too!

My Social Media Vacation

Since I was away from home for the week, I decided I would unplug from social media, too.  With the exception of reading the news, magazines, and checking for important emails, I did my best to minimize checking Instagram, Twitter, and yes, even blogs.  After five days away, I felt refreshed.  I highly recommend it!

Thanks to Katie and Marvelous in my Monday (MIMM).  I hope you have a marvelous Monday, too!

What do you like to do when you need a change in routine or a change of scenery?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Many Hats of Motherhood

Motherhood is a neverending challenge that involves juggling many roles and there are days where I feel like I could use a cloning machine.  Mamas wear many, many, hats, and we are constantly taking one hat off and donning another.  Sometimes, when life is a little crazy, we may be wearing multiple hats at once.

The other day I caught myself daydreaming.  What if I had a cloning machine?  If I did, here's how I would delegate duties to the copies of myself:

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hashtag Weekend

This weekend we really went easy: lots of eating out and lots of laying low at home in between.  Other than soccer on Saturday morning (which ended up getting cancelled due to wet, cold fields), we had no plans for the weekend.  We played the entire weekend by ear, which was kind of fun!  Here are snippets of our weekend with hashtag captions.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Loving Life Again

Okay, things have been a little too serious here on SuperSmartMama.  Thank you blogger friends for stopping by and letting me know that it's okay to have my case of motherhood blues!  I realized I've been taking life a little too seriously.  I spent the morning laughing at myself for stressing so much.

And so...life is on the up and up again.

I'm in such a giddy mood that I've decided I'm going ahead with a late morning post and joining up with Amanda and her Thinking Out Loud party.  If you've never checked it out, give it a try...it's a fun party of randomness, which is exactly what I need on this unexpected snowy day here in Denver.

Here's my morning view.  I'm actually welcoming this lovely snow in late April because it's making it feel super cozy in the house right now.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Eating with Purpose

I've been in a bit of a food rut lately.  Part of the reason is I'm feeling overwhelmed by life.  I'm usually all about the kitchen: I love cooking, I love trying new recipes, and I just love food in general.  However, food has become a bit of a chore lately.

Unfortunately, other things are starting to crowd out food.  First off, there's the baby.  Secondly, I've tried to get back into running.  And third, I've recently learned that I may not be making enough milk for said baby, which is wreaking havoc on what I eat...  I hope you are not grossed out by the words lactation or galactagogue (yes galactagogue is a real word) -- as making more milk has become my world.

Let's take a look, shall we?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Motherhood Blues

Last week, I struggled with balancing motherhood and my well-being.

It was a combination of things: my husband had to work late a few nights and I hate being a single parent -- I'm just not talented at taking care of two kids by myself.  Secondly, I've recently learned that Baby O isn't growing enough so I'm trying to increase my milk supply.  And lastly, I'm trying to get back to running, but trying to fit that in around everything that is motherhood has been quite the challenge for me.

By the end of the week, I was a hot mess and in a bad mood.  I went to bed early Friday night, completely distraught and unhappy.  I hadn't been in such a funk in a long, long, time.  My husband was worried that I was having postpartum blues or depression and asked if there was anything he could do.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Five Places I've Been To (and You Should Too)

With warmer weather returning to Colorado, my mind has been drifting towards vacation.  If there's one thing I love as much as I love good food, it's travel!  I've been reflecting on places I've been as well as places I have yet to see.  This year, we've got our sights set on a possible trip to Greece -- a vacation we've been dreaming about for some time.

Today I'm linking up with Courtney, Cynthia, and Mar for their Friday Five.  Come check out the party where today's theme is Trips to Take (or Trips I've Taken).  I'm recommending places I've either visited or lived.  I'd also love to hear about your favorite trip(s)!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Trying out Weekend Meal Prep

As much as I love cooking food, I'm learning that when you upgrade from one kid to two, life gets busy.  Although we're moving back to a more "normal" life now that Baby O is four months old, "normal" is a little different than what it once was with just one child.

Enter my attempts to try and free up more time so that I can (1) exercise more; (2) do some crafting (scrapbooking!); (3) just sit and relax (can I please watch an entire movie in one sitting without multitasking?!).

One of my strategies is to spend less time cooking throughout the week.  Enter meal planning and meal prep: I've been inspired by the weekend meal prep that Lindsay from the Lean Green Bean highlights every Sunday on her blog.

And, because I'm linking up with Jenn for her What I Ate Wednesday party, I'll be sharing all my eats from Saturday, homemade or not, alongside my meal prep examples because that's what WIAW is all about.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My Life as a Sleep Coach

Have you heard about my latest job in my exciting world of parenting?  I've been hired on as a sleep coach!  I started out as a temp two months ago, but I've done a decent job so I've been hired on permanently!  For those of you not familiar with what a sleep coach does, here is the job description.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Return to Running (Week 2) + Meal Planning

How is your weekend going?  We are going to do an easy egg hunt on Sunday in our own backyard and keep our Easter Sunday relatively low key.  Last weekend was a bit busy so we're trying to slow things down this weekend by keeping things close to home.

Saturday was a great day!  I woke up early, got my 2 mile run/walk in and continued the day with....

A two hour beginner's class on how to grow vegetables in a raised garden bed:

Lunch at a creperie:

And Saturday afternoon in the backyard grilling!  I prepped on Friday afternoon by marinating a big 'ol hunk of flank steak and some chicken breasts.  The idea was to try and grill lots of protein and veggies so that we'd have lots of leftovers for the week.  We started with this:

And ended up with less than half of what I started with.  I think I'm going to have to double the portions next Saturday when we try this again!
But I'm getting ahead of myself...let's talk about workouts for the week!

Workout Recap (3/29 - 4/4)

Last week, I started my run/walk program, which is essentially moving my walks into run-walks and eventually 100% running.  This week I managed to get four run-walk sessions in, which was a huge accomplishment, because I've had to start going to bed early just so I can wake up at 6am to get a 30 minute run in before my hubby has to get up and go to work.  Then there's the complication of nursing Baby O, which I prefer to do before I go for my run because Baby O is no longer a fan of the bottle.

Sunday: 2 mile run/walk, 10 minutes on spin bike
Monday: 2 mile run/walk + 3.2 mile walk (total: 5.2 miles)
Tuesday: rest day
Wednesday: Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 (Week 1)
Thursday: 20 minutes on spin bike
Friday: 2 mile run/walk + 4 mile walk (total: 6 miles)
Saturday: 2 mile run/walk, JM Ripped in 30 (Week 1)

Meal Planning (4/4 - 4/10)

This is only my second week back to meal planning.  Last week went so well I'm excited about another week of meal planning and I'm including ideas for breakfast.  I'm so sick of eating fried eggs every day...

- Sweet potato, apple, and chicken apple sausage "hash"
- Scrambled egg, steak, and potato with roasted brussel sprouts
- Scramble with baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, grilled chicken, and pesto
- Avocado toast with sunny side egg

Saturday - Asian-marinated flank steak; lemon, herb, garlic chicken breasts; grilled veggies
Sunday - sliders, grilled salmon, and veggie saute
Monday - leftovers
Tuesday - slow cooker beef & veggie chili and kale, quinoa, avocado salad
Wednesday - leftovers
Thursday - order takeout
Friday - baked salmon and grilled asparagus

Winners from Last Week

I love to try new recipes all the time.  Some are great and some are...not so great.  When I do come across good meals, I'm sure to share!

Cowboy spaghetti.  I normally shun pasta, but I indulged this week.  I know we'll be making this dish again, and next time, I'll serve it two ways: half the sauce with spaghetti, the other half of the sauce with spaghetti squash.

Want more meal planning ideas?

A big thanks to the meal planning hostesses, Laura from Mommy Run Fast and Jill from Fitness, Health, and Happiness.  I love linking up every Sunday to share my meal plan and to get new ideas for future meals...

Anyone ever grow a garden?  This is only my second summer in Colorado, but I'm hoping to grow a few vegetables this year.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Mark's Kale Quinoa Avocado Salad

This past winter wasn't the coldest winter we've had in a while but we did get alot of snow in December and February, so we hosted alot of potlucks / play dates at our house because it was just too darned cold to meet at a playground.  Besides, we really enjoy entertaining at our house.  We'd invite three or four other families over, the kids would play while the parents caught up, and then we'd make our way into the kitchen and have an early dinner together.

As the hosts, we served up the main dish (usually made in our trusty crockpot) and ask that everyone else bring their favorite side dish or dessert.  Our friends Mark and Amy always brought one salad or another, and whatever the salad combination, it was always a crowd pleaser.

The last salad they brought was hearty and delicious and I had to have the recipe.  It's almost a kitchen-sink kind of salad, it has so many things in it!  But it really is delicious, and it's a great way to eat the darling-superfood-of-the-moment, kale.

If you try it and really enjoy it, let me know.  I'm thinking about pestering Mark for a couple other salad recipes!

Mark's Kale Quinoa Avocado Salad

Printable Recipe
Servings: 6-8 side salads or 4-6 entree salads (add a protein like roasted chicken!)
Prep time:  30 minutes (not counting time to cook the quinoa, which should be made ahead)

1/2 cup red quinoa, cooked and cooled
1 bunch kale
2 bunches romaine lettuce
1 avocado, diced
1/3 cup dates, chopped (or cranberries)
1/4 cup chopped or slivered almonds
1-2 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

For the dressing
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp stone ground mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
This will make a whole cup of dressing; depending on how much dressing you like, there may be a bit leftover.

Make the dressing
1. Place lemon juice, white wine vinegar, sugar, and mustard in a small bowl, whisk to combine.
2. Slowly add olive oil to bowl with lemon juice / vinegar mixture, whisking to emulsify.

Make the salad
1.  Cook the red quinoa according to ingredients on box, allow to cool.
2.  Remove kale from ribs, wash and dry.  Chop into small pieces.
3.  Wash and dry romaine lettuce, chop into 1/4-1/2" pieces.
4.  Chop green onions, both green and white parts.
5.  If using dates, rough chop into smaller pieces
6.  Dice avocado, remove from peel.
7.  Combine kale, romaine lettuce, quinoa, avocado, and toss with dressing.  Then add dates/cranberries, almonds, scallions, and toss again. Sprinkle/top with parmesan cheese.
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