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Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

I went for a jog at lunch yesterday. We’ve had some great weather recently and I have been missing all of the good running days. Either I was sick or Forest was sick or something was up and I just never got out for a jog during my lunch break in the last few weeks like I had been wanting. Finally, though, the weather was still nice again and I was feeling good, so outside I went. Luckily where I work is tucked next to a neighborhood. The neighborhood is comprised of larger, wooded lots with small houses or mobile homes on them, the quality and upkeep ranging from not-very to respectable. Loose and barking dogs abound; I had to fend one ankle biter off with claps of my hands and strict repetitions of “Go Home” before it finally meandered back to the house it originated from.

It’s been so long since I’ve sweated and felt the warmth on my skin. As much as I feel like I’m out of the deep, deep fog of those initial postpartum weeks and months, things are still hazy a lot of the time and I can get into a routine where I’m feeling like all I do is keep up with chores, take care of a baby, and do a few self care things to keep myself sane. Being outside doing yard work or getting some kind of physical exercise was one of the higher up self care items pre-baby and that has definitely fallen by the wayside over the last five months. I had some time during my maternity leave where I took walks with Forest in the mornings or afternoons, savoring the time outside of the house. Those moments were gone once the sun started setting early and I returned to work. Even on weekends getting outside can be difficult, because like I said, I feel like I’m just trying to catch up from the week with chores or errands. I don’t do the errands during the evenings like I used to—there’s no running to the store for groceries or out to get some item that I might need. No, it all gets crammed into the weekends.

Needless to say, pounding the pavement ever so slowly through the neighborhood is refreshing. Seeing nature, even if it is neighborhood nature, is exhilarating. Squirrels cracking acorns, a tree sneaking an early peek at spring blossoms, mockingbirds—that I instinctively want to call mockingjays—flitting about on the powerlines, all of these tiny things are energy for my soul, bits of brain food for my nature-loving self.

Today I was out for my jog, more walking than running since yesterday’s run killed my quads, and it came to me that I could rollerblade again. I love rollerblading and thought about the last time I had done any ‘blading. It’s been well over a year now, which is hard to believe. As soon as I found out as I was pregnant in December of 2013 I stopped doing things that were a fall hazard, like rollerblading. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long since I’ve done it, really it feels like I could say that it was last week that I went rollerblading on my regular loop in my neighborhood at home. It’s great cardio, and I can go for a further distance and longer time than when I’m running.

Tomorrow, I’m going to strap on the rollerblades.

*Writer’s note: A shower at the office makes lunch time workouts a pleasant possibility.

It was on the Appalachian Trail that I realized just how much coffee was more than a morning elixir of caffeine. It was a symbol of morning congregation, of talking and laughing, of slowly waking up, enjoying sunrises and dreary days, and of savoring the warmth radiating off of the mug. By the time we’d started the AT I was a coffee addict but I’d made the decision not to carry instant coffee for a morning cup, mostly because I didn’t want the hassle of needing to stop to find a privy or tree every twenty minutes after leaving the shelter or campsite in the morning. Plus, I knew how caffeine headaches worked and I wasn’t interested in dealing with those, so I saved my coffee indulgences for town. When we did get to a town there was nothing better than those first few sips, the tiredness and miles falling away as the coffee swirled down my throat.

I have a memory, or maybe it is one of those made-up memories that one pieces together after hearing anecdotal stories about something after the fact, about stealing sips of coffee from my neighbor that babysat me when I was little, like 2-3 years old. For some reason I’m seeing one of those flat bottom coffee cups sitting on the side of a chair. I can visualize the house, too, complete with early 80s decor. I know I had sips of coffee here and there growing up but my parents never really let me drink it. Mom and Dad had a morning routine of coffee in the house, the coffee pot autmatically kicking on at a certain time every morning, mom preparing the filter and coffee the evening before.

It wasn’t until college that I started drinking a little more coffee, mostly frou-frou versions like lattes and cappucinos from the automatic machine in the cafeteria. My friends were into chai tea lattes that were available but I remember liking the cappuccinos. I mean, these weren’t any kind of high-end coffee drinks, but they were just the right amount of sugar and caffeine to get going for a study session. We probably even drank those instant, flavored Maxwell House cannisters while sitting around our dorm rooms. I think it was when Starbucks started showing up in Target stores that I started trying other coffee drinks on the menu, getting my grasp on what all of the differences were. Some drinks still frightened me, sounding too strong and jolting. Drinking coffee without some kind of sugar and cream? No way…it had to have both of those.

I started drinking more regular coffee with powdered creamer and packs of sugar when I had my first job out of college. I’d fill a paper cup up with the Folgers that brewed in the break room of the micro lab I worked in and sip on my coffee during my mid-morning break. Later at my next job I took coffee drinking even further, having multiple cups throughout the morning and began weaning myself off of the sugar by switching to Splenda and then finally only adding creamer without any sweeteners. Then I managed to start having black coffee on occassion, but it had to be brewed right. My coffee love started heavily at that job but I was never able to bring myself to have a café Cubano that was highly popular in my office and all around Miami. You could get shots of it and café con leche’s at some Publix grocery stores where they had coffee shops set up in the front (not a Starbucks) or at various random coffee stands at gas stations, either inside or in the parking lot.

Coffee was on my mind most recently when my mom came down for two nights as Chris went out of town. It was going to be my first time alone with Forest since he was born and while I knew I could handle it, I was still nervous about being alone at night. I thought of the idea for her to visit at the last minute and wasn’t even sure if she could shift her schedule around with the care of my niece and nephew during the day, but it ended up working out. I got up earlier than I usually did those two mornings and had enough time to sip a cup of coffee with her at the kitchen table while Forest was still waking up. It wasn’t just that time that I thought about the relevance of coffee, the comaraderie of it. Any time my family comes to visit we usually have long, lingering breakfasts with multiple cups of coffee, reading various things on the internet, talking, looking out the picture window in the dining room to the pond as the sun comes up in the morning. If I’m at my parent’s house, it’s something similar but usually flipping through the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram instead and chatting.

I know coffee isn’t the only warm brew to elicit this response, tea enthusiasts I’m sure feel the same about their flavorful leaves. But coffee, there’s just something about coming into the kitchen to the brew of whatever roast was put into the filter and pouring it into your favorite mug and taking the time to just be.

My other themed post for the week is strictly writing based. It’s going to be mostly stream of conciousness/free writing/whatever it becomes. Not necessarily looking for comments or input, just want to be present and give my brain a creative workout.

I’m driving down the road exiting off the main strip to the side road, heading to the grocery store. The grocery store is my little bit of solitude these days. For weeks it was Chris who made our weekly grocery store runs and I’d stay home with Forest. Of course there were instances when we all made the trek together but in those early days with all three of us invariably Forest needed a trip to the changing station in the women’s restroom at least twice and by the end of the trip he would tell me he was hungry, or maybe he was just fussy and was sick of being in his car seat and at the grocery store. Eventually though, I started wanting to head to the grocery store myself so I could peruse the aisles and get the things I wanted to snack on during the week. Chris was generally pretty good about getting the things I wanted but if I didn’t elaborate on what the ‘good bread’ was I usually got his version of the ‘good bread’.

As I’m exiting the road that will soon become a toll-road but is now just a 50 mile-per-hour four lane roadway, Don Henley’s The Last Worthless Evening comes onto the HD radio station I’m listening to. Don Henley is an insant trigger of flashbacks to Florida. Before I lived in Florida for eight years his songs recalled the vacations I spent there with my family. Post living in Florida I can instantly recall all sorts of scenarios from times in Florida. For some reason this day I recalled a trip down U.S. 41 from Sarasota with my former boss (Hi, Steve!). We’d visited a parcel of property there and he’d decided to take the scenic route down U.S. 41 to Ft. Myers and Naples instead of jumping onto the faster I-75 to the east. The drive was scenic through small towns filled with retirees in winter and vacationers in summer. When we came to Ft. Myers I remember wishing I could just exit off and head to Sanibel Island, one of the vacation spots from my youth. Sanibel was why I wanted to live in Florida.

The last time I was in Sanibel was Christmas of 2009, before we left Florida in February 2010 and went hiking on the Appalachian Trail. It was a spur of the moment trip with our friends Marc and Eliana after we’d had Christmas with them at their house in Miami, they’d invited us to trek along with them over to the southwest coast for a few days. For some reason Florida felt so much more ripe for exploring than Texas does—maybe it’s the crappy public to private land ratio we have here.

Sometimes I catch glimpses of Florida here in Texas. Usually its the way the light is hitting at a particular moment in the day, sometimes it is the smell of the pine needles in the sun, or the whine of a hawk overhead. The funny thing is sometimes in the north-central part of Florida I’d see a scene, usually some lumbering live oak in a field, and think “That looks like Texas.”

Memory, it’s a peculiar thing.

DSC06524
A random photo from one of my Flickr photo albums taken in the Keys…’cause you know, photos are nice!

+Can you Homestead with Kids? from NW Edible Life
+Thoughts on Busy from Elise Blaha Cripe
+My Favorite Organizational Tools from Natalie Creates
+Just You Wait from Elise Blaha Cripe—FYI, never say this to a parent, or at least rephrase it if you are trying to bond/looking to vent about a certain period of parenting. As much as I am looking forward to certain life stages with Forest, I try to live in the moment with him as much as I can. I get each day once.
+Post Trail Depression from fellow AT hikers and newly completed PCT thru-hikers Dormouse and Dirt Stew. It’s real, yo.
+Turn Here, Now There…Canopy Roads of Levy County from Pure Florida. Gah, makes me miss Florida so much! Also, makes me miss Florida winters.
+Favorite Sunrises and Sunsets of 2014 from Adventures of a Vagabond Volunteer
+Foothills Trail Thru-Hike from Rambling Hemlock
+You Know You’re a Hiker When from Section Hiker

mindful

It’s been two years or so since I last chose a word for the year. I didn’t opt for one last year because at the time I knew that it was really going to be ‘baby’ and didn’t want the hassle of trying to focus on something else. However, this year I need a word to get myself out of the baby fog. I’m chosing mindful for a lot of reasons that I’m not going to elaborate on here. I’m not doing this word up big here on the blog but there will be some background work going on that I want to keep track of for myself. The word really jumped out at me as I’ve been reading about empathetic and peaceful parenting, though the word isn’t necessarily for parenting. It just sounded like a good word to implement for the year, to ponder on as the seasons change.

Are you chosing a word?

This was a year, y’all! On Christmas Eve this year I kept thinking “This time last year I had a hunch I was pregnant.” On Christmas I thought, “I was pretty damn sure I was pregnant this time last year and was keeping my hunch a secret.”, and remembering how much I was analyzing my possible symptoms before getting a pregnancy test. The day after Christmas this year I thought that it really couldn’t have been a whole year ago that I went to visit my friend Stephanie and was too nervous to tell her I thought I was pregnant and to ask her if I could please use her bathroom to pee on a stick. I thought about how I instead I peed on a stick in the Starbucks bathroom, and then waited for my coffee order to come up while I peeked inside my purse at the stick I’d shoved in there after leaving the bathroom, and grinning with shock and excitment when it said I was pregnant.

That’s been a whole year ago now!

So, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that my # 1 best of for the year is Forest!

    IMG_9651

  1. Forest: Of course my very best of 2014 is going to be my kid! From first seeing him on the ultrasound to introducing him to the world, he’s definitely been at the forefront of my thoughts for the majority of the year. What a trip these last four months have been! I have a post on motherhood brewing in my head, but a short synopsis on what introducing a child to your life is: intense love, insanity, and life changing. I thought really hard during Christmas this year because it was one year ago that I was someone who’d never gone down this path of parenthood in any form and then in that tiny moment of looking at the pregnancy test everything changed. It is still surreal. I covered some of that in my Postpartum Thoughts write-up.
  2. IMG_0060

  3. Finishing my Florida Trail book: I wrote a giant treatise on the first of the year last year on Reconsidering The Florida Trail As A Valuable Long Trail which in turn got some attention from folks in the Florida Trail community as well as those outside of it in the general hiking world. I’m glad I wrote it, getting some frustrations out and hopefully spurring some interest in the trail itself. The Florida Trail needs some love!! That led to being invited to talk about the FT on The Trail Show which was an awesome experience and I was glad to spread the love of the FT to the hiking community.

    At the end of January I finished my book and in my perfect hindsight view I realllllly should have edited it before Forest was born. Since I didn’t I plan on getting that done this spring and we’ll see what happens with it after that. I’m just glad I wrote the dang thing and will remember all of the frustrations with my slow studio computer (my old laptop), piling on blankets during the cold months because the heat didn’t do my studio justice, and listening to internet radio. I’m ready to spend some more time in my studio polishing up the book and getting it out there.

    I should also add that recently I was interviewed by Sandra Friend at Florida Hikes! as part of her Wild Women series. You can read my interview here but please check out all of the other fantastic ladies that were interviewed as well!

  4. IMG_7939

  5. Florida!: In March, just as I was getting over the first trimester nausea and before I was really showing, we went back to Florida for the first time since we’d hiked the Florida Trail three years previously. We hit up Little Slough for some rambling, and saw several old friends…oh it was good to see them! There was Paddling at Riverbend Park and Swamping in Fakahatchee Strand. Just thinking about doing all of these activities makes me long for the days when Forest is big enough to go exploring. I miss it so much.

Those were the big things this year. We had a few big garden projects but I wasn’t as involved in those and as summer wore on my outside involvement reached nearly to nil and once Forest was born it was nil. There weren’t any big creative projects after I finished writing my book, which bums me out a little bit and makes me itch to get a lot of creative things done this coming year. I suppose the one creative thing I somehow managed to do was put together a printed book of Forest’s birth story as well as a scrapbook of his birth. I managed that on maternity leave and Forest’s more sleepy times.

In all, it was definitely a good year but I’m excited for the upcoming year. I picked a word for 2015 and hope to share it with you soon. I haven’t picked a word in two years!

2014, you were one crazy-awesome year!

It has been awhile since I had gotten a Vox Box but I was sent a survey from Influenster back in November to determine if I was going to fit their target audience for the #FrostyVoxBox. After I submitted it several weeks went by and I never heard back from them. I had submitted another survey for a different box several months before that and didn’t get chosen for it so I figured I wasn’t going to get this one either. Then, finally, I got the email saying it was coming in the mail. Overall I’d say this was a pretty good box and I’ve now used the brush, which I really like—so much so that I’m tempted to stop using my other brush unless I’m putting my hair up in a ponytail (it has tighter spaced bristles)—and I’ve also used the eyeliner. It went on smooth but I can’t say I’ll end up buying it in the future as I’m not really a brand specific makeup person, especially since I don’t wear a lot of makeup. Though, as I said in the video about feeling dowdy, I have worn makeup twice in the last few days and it has been fun to put on again. However, I miss rubbing my eyes whenever I want…I always forget I have makeup on and want to rub my eyes. I had to throw out the eye makeup I did have as it was four years old (yeahhhh…I don’t wear makeup much).

I also did try the Boots #7 face serum this morning and it wasn’t greasy which is a plus in my book, but I still don’t think I’ll be switching from my Alba Sea Moss Moisturizer, though.

Overall it was a great box, would have loved an actual jar of the face serum to actually use for a longer period of time to see if the claims for wrinkle and age reducing actually stood up to what they claim.

4

+Patrice and Justin are hiking the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand…follow them!
+You Know You’re A Hiker When…
+The Girl Who Goes Alone
+What Going For A Personal Record Can Teach You
+Raw Chocolate Pie
+Panic At The Drive-Thru—I had a similar experience in the Chick-Fil-A drive thru a few weeks ago. My word of advice, don’t take a sleeping baby thru a drive thru at lunch time where you’ll be jammed in by other cars. Just don’t.
+I painted a single leaf
+Cow Buck
+Food For the PCT
+Northeastern Sierra – Finding Fall
+Fun, Fearless, Female, and … Feckless?: Cosmopolitan.com and #Casey Nocket
+The Serial Podcast…excellent podcast brought to you by those who put on This American Life. It’s a weekly serial podcast with a reporter researching the true story of a murder back in the late 90s in Maryland.
+Atomic Moms Podcast—because I’ve turned into the person who listen to mom podcasts and reads (some) mom blogs.

Anything good around the web you want to share?

dogwood

hickory

hickory2

nyssa

poisonivy

I spend most of my commute to and from work oogling at the colors on the trees. There are a couple of sassafrass trees near the office that are a glorious apple red tempting me to soak in them, if one could soak in trees. Peak fall color is here now and quickly passing. I don’t get to wander around my yard much these days but I stole 10 minutes the other day and wandered around to see what I was missing. With what seems to be an early freeze this year (first one last night—but not a killing freeze at least) winter may be rolling in sooner than I wanted…not that I’ve been able to savor it as much this year.

Alas, the color is pretty spectacular even if it is on the subtle side.

plank

Getting back into shape postpartum has been eye opening. The last time I did any hard workouts was last December before I knew I was pregnant. Since all the months prior hadn’t resulted in a positive pregnancy test I had decided to bust my butt and start working out hardcore with some YouTube videos to try to lose about 10 lbs. I was feeling it, doing good and enjoying it. And then I got pregnant. Out went the hard workouts and in came the walking and general hiking. I missed rollerblading and even the 1-2 mile jogs I would take. I didn’t lift weights much and after a certain point I stopped doing core exercises. Bending down and touching my toes without needing to bend my knees to do so became my only measuring point of fitness towards the end. I took pride in the fact that I was 40 weeks pregnant and could still touch my toes—nevermind the fact I’d gained 50 lbs and was huge.

So, here I am 10 weeks postpartum and nearing 40 lbs lost of that 50 lbs. I’ve been close to this current weight twice in my life, the highest weight point for me prior to being pregnant: senior year of college and just before hiking the AT. Both times, however, I was still able to maintain muscle mass, and even though I was fluffy I was still in single digit clothing sizes. The muscle mass kept things a little tighter even though I was overweight.

Now, I know we’re not supposed to get all wrapped up in the number on the jeans because they always vary from designer to designer, but who am I kidding? I think just about every woman does at some point in their life. A few weeks ago we had a women’s team-building lunch at work and before I headed home I stopped by Target for some baby-free shopping. I was still wearing maternity jeans and didn’t have much in the way of winter wear for my post baby body. I’m a simple clothing girl, I like jeans and t-shirts, maybe a button down or two during the winter. I thought I’d stop in and get a few pieces of clothing to tide me over until I could get into my actual winter wardrobe later in the season. I was also optimistic, grabbing only a size up from what I was pre-pregnancy. I did this because only a few weeks ago I’d managed to get on my pre-pregnancy jeans and button them with a massive muffin top, leading me to think that I only had about 10 lbs to go before I could get in them, leading me further to think that I was thinner than I was.

When I got into the dressing room I was in for a rude awakening. That size jeans didn’t fit. Defeated I went back out and pulled off the shelf the next two sizes. Normally I wouldn’t have even attempted to go bigger, going bigger meant bad, bad things. But, my maternity jeans were getting loose and frankly I was just tired of wearing them. In the end the size two sizes bigger than the original pair I tried on ended up being what I chose. I was pissed off but at least comfortable and happy to be wearing jeans that zipped for once in many months.

What I was left with was knowing I had a lot further to go to getting back in shape. I’d lost a lot of muscle mass and my abdominal wall was still wrecked. I realized this over the weekend when I went for a jog. Not only was I just jiggly from fat but I could feel my muscles loose and hurting. I didn’t straight jog that mile—I delusionally thought I could do it before I left…I think my lung capacity was up for it—but my abs told me otherwise. So, I chose to run to *that* mailbox, walk to *that* crack in the road, etcetera, etcetera on down the road.

It felt good. My thighs were tight and cramping when I finished. I remembered that I could rollerblade now, one of my favorite cardio activities aside from hiking. I’ll have to dig those out soon.

For the last several weeks I’ve been doing the PiYo workouts and I can definitely tell they are helping me strength and stretching wise, but it is nice on the running just to get some straight out cardio every now and then. The DVDs are great for the evenings and one of my priorities right now is that 30 minutes at least three or four evenings a week in which I can work out. When Forest goes to daycare in December I will eventually use my lunch break for some workouts during the week which will free up some evenings for me to spend time with Forest and to work on other creative things.

Over the weekend I sorted through maternity clothes that were out of season and put them away. I also went through all of my pants and winter clothes and folded them, putting them on the top shelves in my closet, making room for my ‘big’ clothes. My sister-in-law, Stephanie, has undergone a transformation over the last two years. She’s taken charge of her health and dropped considerable weight but also improving her health at the same time. I thought of her as I left Target, not wanting to buy more than one pair of pants in that size. I wondered if she had any of her ‘big’ clothes left over and gave her a call. I was in luck, she still had them and sent them down with my mom when my mom came to watch Forest last week. I went through the the bags she sent, keeping the sizes I could wear now and those I would be slimming down into over the coming months. Now these are in my closet instead of my regular wardrobe. Yes, the sizes bother me but having clothes that fit me and make me feel good is also important.

Hopefully I can continue to make progress and get back into good cardio and strength fitness once again. I’m ready for some long hikes come spring and I need to get as strong as I can so I can carry the little dude (who is getting huge by the day!) on the trails.

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