Friday, August 23, 2013

The Wildflower Pedalfest 2013

It wasn't what I was expecting, but it was still fun. On Saturday I rode the 50-mile course. I started out with a friend from Weber State that I ran into at the starting line and ended up riding mostly alone. Which was kind of lame. I definitely want to do it with a friend or group of friends if I do it again.

It was my first organized ride, and I expected large pelotons of competitive cyclists, even though the ride was advertised as non-competitive and not timed. (I know, silly me.) I was hoping to be able to jump in with a group and be able to push 20 mph or above, but the course was more hilly than I expected and the groups of riders were either non-existent or long-gone by the time I started. For a mile I thought I found a group (with capes on too), but they made a wrong turn, despite my yelling, and I never saw them again. I probably should have chosen the 75-mile route, which would have scratched my competitive itch a little more (the hill-climb on that course is the only timed portion of the route), but I'm really not ready for 75 miles.

I liked the course, which climbed to East Canyon and then headed back. I made it to East Canyon (26 miles) in 1:47 (that's minus feed zone stops, with stops it was 1:57) and then because of the awesome downhill, made it to the finish (26 miles) in 1:23 (with one stop figured in, because I reset my computer without looking, whoops). My last 10 miles I was able to average above 19 mph. My overall time, with stops figured in, was 3 hours and 20 minutes. Not what I wanted, but passable.

I got a good training ride out of it, loved catching up with the friends that I ran into (Selsa, Candice, Erica, Charlene), and the dessert bar at the end was to die for! Not literally you people, but metaphorically. Every kind of brownie and cookie imaginable. It was fantastic. Mike and the girls met me at the finish and they helped me sample the desserts and played on the playground and were generally unimpressed with my biking skills and more interested in the desserts. (The girls, not Mike.)

Today I am fighting off the runs and some body soreness (Mike had this earlier this week and it may have started with Ellie on our camping trip), so I think I am more sore than I normally would be.

I'm a little worried for my leg 3 in LOTOJA, but I hope to do well. I just need to get some good climbs in a few more times before we do it.

Friday, August 16, 2013


On Saturday I took my eight-year-old to get her ears pierced. She had been noticing a couple of her friend's ear piercings for a couple years, and I had told her that if she swam across the pool freestyle she could get it done. After our swim lessons this summer, she's swimming confidently across the pool, breathing and everything.

As we entered the mall, her hand tucked safely into mine, I started to get a little panicky. (The mall and I have a history of mutual hatred, but I watched a guy at Walmart pierce a girl's ears and decided that was definitely not the place to go for ear piercing.) I began to think about my little girl wanting to come to the mall, and dealing with peer pressure, and going through puberty. I almost grabbed her hand and ran out.

"You're too little!" I wanted to shout at her. But I was the one who made the promise and she fulfilled the terms, so I tried to keep smiling as we walked past trendy stores and trendy people.

Suddenly, I felt like I was pushing my child to grow-up too soon. Why had I ever brought up ear piercing? Why was I pushing her into the world of self-decoration so early? Wasn't ear-piercing just another time and money-consuming activity that objectifies women?

"Will it hurt?" She asked me as we passed a cell-phone hawker, stylishly dressed with a Fossil watch and sharp haircut.

I shrugged, "Yes. But not too bad."

She pursed her lips and looked worried, squeezing my hand.

"You don't have to if you don't want to."

"Will you go first?" Her cornflower blue eyes looked up at me widely.

"Watch where you're walking. Yes. I'll go first." I had said that I would re-pierce my grown-in ears when she did hers. I stifled my feminist voice and decided to keep with my re-pierce plan, because I eventually want to cut my hair super short and earrings can soften that a little. And my little girl wasn't pondering the social and political implications of ear piercing. I just needed to relax. It was just for fun, right?

"Is it like a shot? Or a beesting?"

I stopped in front of a shoe store, loudly blaring a song about dancing all night. "Here, let me show you again." I took her earlobe in between my fingers and pinched my nail into it, kind of hard.

She grimaced. "That's not bad."


We entered Claires and watched another girl get her ears pierced and checked out the available earrings. She choose blue flowers and I chose small diamonds. The chatty clerk told us a story about a girl who came in that had lied to her mom about having her ears pierced before. And then, quickly, my ears were pierced again.

I can't decide if I like them or not. I've had my ears pierced before, but let them grow in. It's an easy way to look like a girl without too much effort.

My eight-year-old sat in the chair and tensed her shoulders and closed her eyes. The two clerks closed in on her and on the count of three, she was pierced. She is thrilled at her new earrings and can't wait to get "dangly" ones.

I can't decide how I feel about this "milestone." I didn't consider any of the implications of pushing her to puberty or teaching her about beauty until we were there in the mall. And by then, I felt like I had walked out on the tightrope, and the crowd was already roaring.

This is the problem with my parenting. I don't think things through until it's often too late and then I think, "Wait a minute! This doesn't fit in with my life philosophy. I object!" But I'm already sitting in the chair with an ear-piercing gun to my head. I have thought about tatoos though, and my answer is definitely no. I don't care how many times she swims across the pool.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Thirty 30-Day Challenges!

I am continually questing to "Try a little harder to be a little better." Okay, sometimes I give up and lie on my bed and eat a bag of chocolates and read Mistborn: The Well of Ascension, and I have to trick myself into trying harder. One trick I have been obsessed with lately is the "30-Day Challenge."

My good friend (and sister-in-law, I am so lucky she is both!) Summer, introduced me to them. Her family is always doing little things to improve. They tell each other about, and sometimes join each other in challenges like, "Do 30 push-ups every day," or "Read your scriptures every day," or "Don't yell at your kids."  And they do these for, you guessed it, 30 days.

The 30-Day Challenge has two advantages.
1. Duration. Previously, I would challenge myself to do something with no end date in mind. I would say, "I won't eat chocolate." And then of course in a few days or weeks (or sometimes hours), I would fail and feel like a loser. But 30 days? I can do that.
2. Simplicity. The contest is with yourself.  I used to think I needed to have some sort of competition with points and prizes to be motivated. With the 30-day challenge, I have realized self-improvement can come without the cost of having a loser and a winner. I knew that before, truly, but I have to be reminded sometimes.

Here is my list of Thirty 30-Day Challenges that I am going to undertake over the next year or two. Sometimes I might get brave and run two simultaneously. I will do each of these things daily for 30 days!
1. Take vitamins
2. Don't eat after 9 p.m.
3. Exercise for 30 minutes or more (minus Sundays)
4. Eat only one treat
5. Eat 2 or more vegetables  (yes I know this does not meet the DRA, but baby steps are good)
6. Eat a fruit as part of breakfast
7. Give a hug
8. Read my scriptures
9. Write 200 words
10. Do recommended PT for knee
11. Organize something
12. Don't swear/yell and definitely no Yell Swears.
13. Try something new
14. Do 10 push-ups
15. Go to bed at 10 p.m.
16. Sweep
17. Play the piano
18. Don't eat treats
19. Count my calories
20. Have dinner planned
21. Be on time
22. Compliment someone
23. Do an out-of-ordinary act of service
24. Write in my journal
25. Write a thank-you note
26. Do Yoga
27. Eat only vegetables and fruits for snacks
28. Don't buy anything but necessities
29. Do 10 minutes ab work
30. Practice doing a backbend.

Okay I'm starting with #1 and #10. GO!

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Best Books and Products/Tools for New Mothers

I originally wrote this letter to my little sister, but wanted to put it on the blog, because someday I will recommend these same books/tools to my children (because they will totally want my advice about parenting, right?) and the librarian in me wants to recommend them to new mothers everywhere. 

I wish I were some awesome parent with everything put together, but it's just me, your older imperfect sister with four crazy kids. I've got nothing but some of my favorite books, my favorite products, and personal, unproven, highly-suspect opinions about how everything should be done. I'm sure you can form your own opinions as you go, so I'll try to leave those out. But here is my advice on the all-important subjects of sleeping, eating, and surviving.


Best books:

  • Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby by Marc Weissbluth provides lots of research based, good advice. Although, his philosophy seems to focus entirely on the baby's sleep, and doesn't take into account that you must live. I liked his charts so I could look and see what the "norm" for hours slept was each age. And he's right about sleep being a HUGE factor in how happy your baby is. 
  • Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg  This is one of my favorites. I like her sense of humor and practicality. Her EASY (eat, activity, sleep, you) philosophy is a simple, easy to remember (because your sleep-deprived brain needs simple things) method that really works. I definitely struggle with parenting my children once they get past two, but I have had happy babies and I attribute following this method as the reason why. 
Tools to help you succeed: 
  • White noise machine. I didn't use this with Kenzie or Hannah, because I didn't really need it yet. We were mostly quiet people. But once we got to Ellie and Norah, there was no quiet. If it is quiet, there is trouble brewing. So they definitely took longer naps when the white noise machine was on. Maybe you'll want one now because it's noisy with the dog, or someone snores (Ali?). But nothing is worse than waking up a baby accidentally. Okay, maybe if the baby got hurt it would be worse, but really it is a terrible, terrible tragedy to wake a sleeping baby. And for traveling or camping, the white noise machine can be your best friend.
  • Benadryl. Just kidding. That's for desperate, desperate times and only when they're older. And it can backfire. (Not that I have any experience with this. I've just heard. From a neighbor.) 
My Two Cents:
  • Start as you intend to go on. It may seem silly because she's so little right now, but if you begin a routine before bed she will learn when it's time to sleep. Choose what you like to do and then do the same thing every time. We keep it simple. With Norah, I give her her binkie, swaddle her in a blanket, sing her a song and lay her down. Then I walk out and she goes to sleep. When she was tiny, obviously this didn't always work, but now it works like a charm. Mike's routine is a little different than mine, but the key is that we do the SAME thing every time. I've added a story, and I just put her blanket on instead of swaddling her, but it's still the same 10 min routine every night. (Even my older girls love routines.)


Best books: What to Expect the First Year This book is a general book about almost everything, but I like its section on feeding the baby and I like the Q&A format. Also they talk about how to mix nursing and bottlefeeding, which is great. I muddled through a nursing/bottlefeeding mix with all of my kids and never found a non-crazy book about breastfeeding. They all seemed to say "Feed your baby, whenever wherever she/he wants." Crazy. The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer is much more practical about setting up a schedule. I'm sure there's a good feeding your baby book out there, maybe someone else can tell you what it is. 

Tools to help you succeed: 
  • Medela Breast Pump -Seriously those hand pumps are for people who like to grind their own corn into flour with a stone.
  • Formula- Some books/people might make you feel bad about using formula, but if you use it, try to block them out-it's food, it allows your baby to be full, grow and be happy. Yes breastfeeding is awesome and wonderful and bonding, but so is formula. No one I know has ever said to their mother, "It's because you didn't breastfeed me when I was a baby." 
  • Burp Cloths --You need like 47 of these. At least. Because who has time to do laundry when you have a baby? And spitting up/throwing up is normal. Babies do it a lot. 
  • Awesome Nursing Bra -- I already told you about these Bravado bras, but it's worth repeating. Take care of the girls and life will be better.
  • Good Bottles-The Playtex Drop-Ins are my favorites. It is kind of a bummer to buy new liners, and you're ruining the environment, but at 2:30 a.m. when all the dishes are dirty and the baby is wailing and for the love of everything holy, you just want to find a clean bottle, the liners are fantastic. 
  • Sippy Cups-- Eventually your child will grow and it's time to ditch the bottle. Find a sippy cup that is spill-proof and doesn't use a removable valve. We just use the removable valve ones, since they leak the least. But I always lose the valves. I swear, they should have spill-proof cups until they are 18.
  • Baby food Grinder Buying baby food is fine, but it's so much easier to just plop some of your food into a grinder and feed it to them. Plus, it introduces them to the kind of food you will expect them to eat eventually. (Start as you mean to go on!)
My Two Cents:
  • Routine. Follow the EASY routine and you will be happy. Once she turns two you can start making her clear her plate and sweep. Ok, maybe not sweep yet. 


Best books:

Tools to help you succeed: 
  • Chocolate
  • A good husband (oh look, you already have one of those!)
  • A good sister (wow! You have one of those too!)
  • A good friend to talk to
  • Your mother 

My Two Cents: Find a routine for yourself that involves exercise, spiritual nourishment, service, and set some goals in the major categories of life: Physical, Spiritual, Mental, Emotional.

Don't be afraid of feeling down sometimes, talk about it, share what you're feeling or it becomes bigger than it is.  

You are doing great! And when you don't, it's ok, you get another chance tomorrow. And the next day, and the next. . .