10 Ways Running A Marathon is Like Motherhood.

IMG_1182First, I’ve only run one full marathon. This picture was taken at the finish of the 2007 Colorado Marathon. I’m the short one (which is strange, since I’m 5’10″!). Second, I’ve only had one child. He’s 9 months old. So, I can’t really qualify myself as an expert at either thing–marathons or mommying.

However, I have run my fair share of half marathons–including both trail and road races. I’ve run some pretty crazy mountain passes & trails, run in every kind of weather, and have been running since cross country in high school. I also made it through a pretty gruesome 28 hour labor and taught classrooms full of teenagers for 7 years, so I’m not exactly a novice either.

IMG_6104The other day, as I was pushing Easton along in the Bob for our most-days-of-the-week, slow 5k-or-less run, I was remembering how our birthing class the instructor said to think of labor like a marathon. It wasn’t the only place I’d heard that expression. “Think of labor & delivery like a marathon.”  Have you heard it? If you’re a veteran mom, you know. But if you are a new, expectant mother, that saying is not exactly true.  I’ve started thinking about the many ways in which Mothering and Marathoning are similar, and I came up with this list:

1. Labor IS like running a marathon. Only, you should think of labor as the first half of the marathon. Or maybe the first quarter of the marathon. Or maybe even just the first mile. I’m still running, so I’ll let you know when & if I ever get to the finish of motherhood what fraction of labor & delivery it actually is. Think of labor as the stooopid race that starts with a freaking ridiculous hill. Like the Horsetooth Half Marathon. You have to suck it up and run the hill. And then you have the rest of your no sleep, diaper changing, late night nursing sessions still to run.

DSC019502. No matter how much you train for your race, no matter how much stretching and visualization you do before the start, it will still not go quite how your expect it. I learned this lesson during labor fairly quickly. We took 3 months of birthing classes, and I read 1,483 books about natural labor. In the end, I finished with a healthy baby boy, but like the mileS of my marathon that I walked despite vowing that I wouldn’t, I wound up delivering with more interventions than I knew existed. And again, that was only labor. I’m quite sure that trips to the grocery store with a toddler in tow will rival an episiotomy & tearing, or mile 23 of 26.2.

3. Running and Motherhood are painful. They are painful and for people who are gluttons for punishment. But they are also rewarding in an inexplicable, powerful, life-changing way.

4. Some mornings, you wake up and do not feel like running. But then you put on your shoes, and after the first 5 minutes, you start to feel alive, and like the world is beautiful. Same same with being a mom.

5. Speaking of mornings. You will wake up limping and in pain from marathon running or training. You will wake up hunch-backed and crook-necked when you are a mom. For both, try to sneak in yoga as you can.

6. Non-runners and non-mothers won’t quite understand you. They might admire your dedication for running so far, or think your child is adorable, but they won’t see either the way that you do. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s just the way it is. Running marathons isn’t for everyone. Neither is motherhood. Kudos to those who realize this.

DSC008587. Running makes you fit. I know surviving on toddler leftovers and wee bits of sleep might not seem to make you fit, but motherhood makes you use muscles and mental capacities you might not have previously known existed.

8.When you run a marathon, you finish one step at a time. You don’t know exactly how the race will go. When you become a mother, each day is one step in the race. You can plan all you want, but there will be many steps you take that aren’t quite how you plan.

9. In a race, you will pass some people. You will also get passed. In Motherhood, some women will live Pinteresting lives. Some mommies won’t even make it out the door in the morning. Maybe the morning mom is you-with greasy hair and a pajama t-shirt & dirty jeans; hugging a crying baby who has one shoe on and one unfound, under the couch. Try not to focus too much on either mom–the “perfect ones” and the imperfect ones, the ones whom you pass & the ones who leave you eating dust. What matters most is you & your little one.

10.Finishing a marathon makes you feel like a superwoman. Giving birth does too. Heck, sometimes even just surviving a day makes you feel like a superwoman. They should give medals and pint glasses at the end of hard days for mothers, right?!

xo.

The Weight of Motherhood.

IMG_6473Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Ours was rough with a teething boy, but we managed to sneak away to Boulder for a short “hike” & some gorgeous fall color.

Also, I am honored to be a guest blogger at Denver Natural Mom! You can check it out The Weight of Motherhood here if you’d like! Here is a preview of the post:

“That’s why Jennifer Garner made headline news in HuffPost Women this week. Finally!, women collectively cried, here is a woman who recognizes that having a baby means you might always have a baby bump. And that bump is something to be celebrated as much as the birth of your child–it’s where that life started and was nourished for nearly 10 months. My favorite college professor once described love as leaving room enough for others to grow. That bump is physical evidence of the body’s love; when we become pregnant, every cell in our body makes room. It’s about time we make some room in our psyche for ourselves too.
Whether you struggle to keep on weight while nursing your child post-partum, struggle to heal and loose weight after an unplanned c-section, struggle to find time for some semblance of your old fitness routine in between work and raising a family, you are worth a better story. And I am too.
A kinder one. A healthier one. One you would tell your daughter if you have one; one I will tell my son. It’s good to have goals and expectations, to feel their worth and weight, but it’s not good to get caught up on your own weight. It’s better, instead, to focus on nourishing yourself and your child and your growing family in whatever ways you can find time.”

Beauty and Bread.

IMG_6230Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”  -John Muir

We went to the woods on Monday. It was our two year anniversary, so we went to the lake where we had planned to get married. Two days before the wedding, a wildfire broke out & we had to switch up the venue instead, but that lake holds a special place in our hearts.

Yesterday, it was back to the city. Back to our yardless apartment. Back to traffic and evening news and leashed dogs with disgruntled owners who are lax about scooping poo instead of the hills–alive with the music of leaves in the wind. I spent the afternoon and early evening feeling sorry for myself and Easton. This is NOT the life that I want to give him. I do not want to spend my mental energy on navigating parks where I think there wont be: goose poop, dog poop, cigarette butts, trash, men who take pictures of my back as I bend over to wipe my son’s nose, loud traffic, lots of smokers, etc.

IMG_6445Then I spent the evening thinking about Monday. Looking at all the pictures. And I realized something. Living in the city and watching the evening news, it’s easy to believe that the world is an ugly place full of hateful, ignorant people. But it’s not. The world is beautiful. So darn beautiful.

We were so very poor when I was growing up. We never lived in the city or an apartment, but we lived in some pretty run down places. I’ve heard anyway. I don’t remember it. I remember playing in the field next to our house with the neighborhood kids, hiking trips to the mountains every weekend, throwing rocks in the pond and watching the ripples as my dad pretended to enjoy fishing, camping trips, building snowmen, finding arrowheads, watching deer and elk and porcupines or grouse. I remember being outside. Seeing a huge, inexhaustible world and feeling in awe of its bigness.

IMG_6400I want Easton to know that world. I want him to know and love the outside world and learn from it. I want him to be well acquainted with dirt. And trees. And leaves. And rocks. And river. And trail. And meadow. I want him to feel the place where he can breathe, to know there is still much to explore, to know wilderness and to allow it to call out the wildness within him. Even living in the city, even though he isn’t even 9 months, I strive for him to play outside everyday. To explore the texture of tree trunks, pine needles, and tall grasses. To learn colors from the changing leaves. And we do our best to go to the mountains every weekend. Just like I did growing up.

Those mountains and that lake are always there. And even in the city there is beauty, there are nice parks, one day we will have a backyard. The world is beautiful. Always.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

IMG_6420As a mother, it’s my job to show my son how beautiful the world is. How precious. How worthy of our reverence nature and every living thing is. It’s my job to show him that even if we aren’t in them every day, we are still connected to the mountains–to their wildness and beauty. It’s my job to allow him to feel that connection as if it were palpable–so that when we return to the city, we can see it with new eyes. We can live a little more lightly, walk with gentleness in our step and wildness in our eyes, beauty in our Spirits. Whole and alive.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike. ”  -John Muir

xo

Keri

One Lovely Blog Award

You guys. I’m terrible. I mean it. I used to be so on top of everything. All the time. I made checklists and got a bit of a rush checking items off the list each day, week, month. These days I still make checklists. And I cross a few items off, but the list of to-dos always seems sooooo much longer than the list of goals I cross off the list. Every single stinking day!

Like for example, a looong time ago, I was nominated by the lovely Three Boys and a Mom for the Liebster Award. I love her blog if you haven’t read it, I look up to her strength and courage and story, and was honored that she would nominate me for an award. Did I accept and write it? No. Still on the list.

Last week the lovely Living in Momarchy nominated me for the One Lovely Blog award. I love the word lovely. And again, I am grateful and honored to be nominated by a really great Mama! So before I add another “to do” to the uncrossed list, I’m going to write this, right now. And maybe one day I’ll finish the unpublished draft of the Liebster. Sigh. So sorry!

one-lovely-blog-award

Here are the rules for accepting the award:

  1. Thank and link back to the person who nominated you
  2. List the rules and display the award
  3. Include seven facts about yourself
  4. Nominate around 15 other bloggers and let them know about the award
  5. Follow the blogger who nominated you (if not already!)

IMG_54361. I find it really hard to write lists like this. What 7 things am I supposed to include? I never know what to write in response to random list prompts.

2. I’m a yoga teacher who is often frustrated with yoga.

3. Fall is my favorite season, but I wish we could call it autumn instead without sounding pretentious. I’m a former English teacher, current nerd, and I think autumn is the better word.

4. I keep struggling with how to re-create this blog. It seems like I should focus on one thing–health or motherhood instead of both in this same space.

5. Sometimes I think I shouldn’t write about motherhood at all because my son hasn’t agreed to me writing about him publicly, and I worry he may resent it someday.

6. Becoming a mother is the most powerful, life-changing experience I have ever had. By far.

7. If I won the lottery, I’d buy a small house with a few acres and have a tiny farm. One that would support the needs of my family. Even though I won’t likely win the big lottery, I won $500 about this time last year on a scratch ticket. I used the money to buy my husband a guitar for his birthday.

And now for nominations? I also am terrible at this! So, please don’t feel obligated to respond, but I think the following blogs are lovely:

Mom Life Now

Three Boys and A Mom

Stories of Our Boys

Giggle Giggle Toot Roar

A Pendulum World

Barren to Beautiful

xo

Keri

Happy International Babywearing Week!

IMG_5860When I was pregnant, I imagined all the time what life would be like with a sweet little baby in my arms. I envisioned how sweet life would be, and the things we would do together. I imagined how motherhood would look, and I wanted to look like so many of the pictures I had seen in the media–social or mainstream. And the truth is, motherhood is messy, much messier than I had imagined. It’s more work, and more love, and much better than I had imagined too. But lets get back to messy.

Right now, my living room floor has about half of the toys in his box strewn about, along with an eighth of my kitchen utensils, a pie pumpkin, and two leafs of romaine lettuce–shredded into pieces. MESSY. My hair is unwashed (maybe tomorrow). There’s a giant pile of unfolded laundry at my feet (I’ll get to it in a few minutes). And images like the one above are much more like what I thought motherhood would look like. Sometimes it does, so I’m not solely perpetuating idealized images. And when it doesn’t, baby wearing is what allows me to feel like the living room, my house, and my life isn’t a disaster.

Baby wearing isn’t just a cute trend; it’s how I get $h!*T done! I plan on folding the laundry during nap, racing around and picking up toys during nap too. And after that? He’ll wake up and we’ll bake banana bread. He’ll be my sous chef from the sling. I’ve already used the sling three times today, and it’s only one in the afternoon. Babywearing and coffee make motherhood possible. And there are a million benefits to babywearing. Or less, but here are a few of them as listed by the most amazing resource for all potential baby-wearing mamas:

Happy Babies. It’s true … carried babies cry less! In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying by 43 percent overall and 54 percent during evening hours. (1)

Healthy Babies. Premature babies and babies with special needs often enter the world with fragile nervous systems. When a baby rides in a sling attached to his mother, he is in tune with the rhythm of her breathing, the sound of her heartbeat, and the movements his mother makes—walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps him to regulate his own physical responses. Research has even shown that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not. (2)

Confident Parents. A large part of feeling confident as a parent is the ability to read our babies’ cues successfully. Holding our babies close in a sling allows us to become finely attuned to their movements, gestures, and facial expressions. Every time a baby is able to let us know that she is hungry, bored, or wet without having to cry, her trust in us is increased, her learning is enhanced, and our own confidence is reinforced. This cycle of positive interaction deepens the mutual attachment between parent and child, and is especially beneficial for mothers who are at risk for or suffering from postpartum depression. (3) (4)

Loving Caregivers. Baby carriers are a great bonding tool for fathers, grandparents, adoptive parents, babysitters, and other caregivers. Imagine a new father going for a walk with his baby in a sling. The baby isbecoming used to his voice, heartbeat, movements, and facial expressions, and the two are forging a strong attachment of their own. Baby carriers are beneficial for every adult in a baby’s life. Cuddling up close in the sling is a wonderful way to get to know the baby in your life, and for the baby to get to know you!

Comfort and Convenience. With the help of a good carrier, you can take care of older children or do chores without frequent interruptions from an anxious or distressed infant—which helps to reduce sibling rivalry. Baby carriers are also wonderful to use with older babies and toddlers; you can save those arms and go where strollers can’t. Climbing stairs, hiking, and navigating crowded airports all can be done with ease when you use a well-designed baby carrier!

That said, not every carrier has made motherhood possible for me. We’ve purchased and tried our fair share, and have a few favorites. I’ll go over what we loved and loathed here:

Boba Wrap

khakiThis was the first carrier I purchased. In the beginning, the cost of other carriers was reeally intimidating. At the time, I didn’t realize just how much we’d use them and how valuable they are.

This was the first carrier we tried–when he was just a week old and then a month old, and he HATED it. I hated it too. I hated that I had to watch the youtube instructions 4 times to figure it out. Okay, maybe 8 times. Sixteen combined for two tries.

Maybe we’d have gotten the hang of it, but it was hot (we only wore it inside, and we turned up the heat to 75 when we brought E home from the hospital) and it was challenging for me to put it on. E also hated being swaddled–anything that constricts his hands, he’s hated from the start.

However, some babies love to be swaddled. If your little one likes being swaddled, this might be the carrier for you. It’s super affordable, adjusts to fit all sizes, comes in a ton of different colors, is stretchy and so soft for babies.

Link here.

Mamaroo Pouch

imagesOkay, I couldn’t find any images of this one, and we already sold ours on Craigslist. It was really very easy to put on and figure out–stretchy and soft fabric, and could be worn as a belly band for support during the last trimester of pregnancy. However, it constricted E’s little hands, so it was a no go for us. Very affordable–here is the link to buy.

Ergo

41jKHapzQrL._SX425_We were given a plain black one as a a hand me down from my sister, with the infant insert. I couldn’t get the infant insert to fit just right, so we didn’t really start using it until my little guy was about three months.

It was the first carrier that he liked, but I always worried that he was doing the splits on my stomach in it, and initially it was tough to get on. I also didn’t realize you could wear the baby with a back carry, so I bought a different, albeit similar carrier instead.

You can buy ergo’s at Target, but here’s another link to buy in case you live in a small Target-less town like I used to.

Lillebaby

IMG_5420We love this carrier. So much. It’s comfortable for both of us, can be worn six different ways, is easy to put on (once you practice clasping it behind your back), and saves me on the daily.

We’ve hiked in it, shopped in it, and walked until my little guy falls a sleep in it. We did that last night. In fact, it’s my favorite carrier for when my little guy is sleeping because it has two adjustments that you can easy snap or buckle to support your baby’s head and neck.

The only drawback to it, in my very vain but honest opinion, is that it smushes out my love handles. So if I wear it with jeans, I’m pretty sure my major muffin-top would make most people a little nauseous. I wear it hiking, around the house, and with things other than jeans, or with more high waisted mom-like jeans and embrace my momness for the sake of my little guy’s sleep.  Link here.

Sakura Bloom

IMG_4794Pretty. Comfortable. Versatile–can be worn a side, front or back carry. Soft. Easy to figure out, easy to adjust.

We love this carrier. LOVVVEEE it. They have a cool artsy community on IG, and have frequent give-aways. Follow them @lovesakurabloom.They highlight images of what I thought I motherhood would look like, they inspire, they show real mamas and babies making it look more easy and more beautiful than it is all the time, but it’s nice to feel pretty while being a mom. It’s nice to not feel like life is so messy.

The downside–not as good for sleeping (IMHO). And pricey. My husband was not so happy about the price–especially after I discovered the next sling.

Link for Sakura Bloom here.

Happy Heart Slings

IMG_5860A little stiffer fabric compared to the Sakura Bloom, but sturdy, pretty, and gorgeous color choices.

Added bonus?! Won’t break the bank, and you are supporting another Mama and her family since it’s a small business.

We LOVE this sling, so much. We have it in Sphinx :)

Link to buy here.

Do you have a carrier you love that I didn’t list?! Share in the comments below.

And now for the laundry.

xo.

A House Divided.

IMG_5819Dinner this week was on point. And since my sweet baby’s arrival, I’ve been off my kitchen game. It’s hard. Not just now, it’s always been hard in our house. Here’s why:

My husband eats: Meat (including: steak, pot roast, chicken anyway but baked, bacon, and pepperoni), bell peppers, potatoes, bread. Maybe some lettuce. Maybe a few carrots.

I eat: Mostly plant based, but sometimes incorporate eggs–especially since after Easton, I initially thought soy was upsetting his stomach (after accidentally eating it & discovering he had no issues, I chalked it up to a young stomach and over-active letdown).

Things we have in common: bell peppers, carrots, potatoes, lettuce.

 

So……. what’s for dinner?

 

I used to just cook two meals. One for me and one for him. We’d eat the same side salad, I’d cook something for myself while meat was marinating and grilling. But, y’all. Ain’t no moms got time for that! For real.

So I’ve been practicing my crockpot creativity, chatting up my grandmas, and hunting down slowcooker recipes. Also, I’ve been making huge beans and grain salads 1-2 days a week which I spoon over greens for me. This way there is always a quick and easy back up plan–for the days I can’t marry two completely opposite meal plans. Like I did with the meal above.

On my plate: Mixed supergreens, chopped button mushrooms, dried apple-juicesweetened cranberries, baked butternut squash, cranberry-onion marinated baked tempeh, carrots, and home-made honey mustard dressing.

On his (not pictured, but devoured!): Cranberry Pork Roast and salad and bread. I made it from Kelly McNellis’ AWESOME slowcooker cook book, but here is a link to the recipe on her blog.

When I made the marinade for the pork, I separated some and used it to marinate tempeh. If you truly wanted to make it vegan, just skip the honey ( I did for mine and used a tiny bit of apple cider vinegar instead for tang).

And if you want to whip up some of your own honeyless mustard dressing, try this:

4 T Dijon mustard

2 T coconut palm sugar

1-1&1/2 T Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2-3/4 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

salt & pepper to taste

 

Anyone else live in a house divided (in terms of food fights?!)

 

With Love,

Keri

A Season for Everything.

Yesterday, I went to church. I’ve been a sporadic church goer for years, and I’m trying to make it a point to be more consistent about it. Not because I think going to church makes me a better Christian or is the only way to be a better or even decent person. There are many ways to grow and be a decent human being. I’m going because I’ve found an awesome community of people, a tribe of kick-ass creatives, a crew of heartbreakingly beautiful, broken and honest souls that I want to be around more and more. Also, I want Easton to know Bible stories. Even if he decides one day he doesn’t believe them, I believe there is value in the stories, that there is good that can be taken from them and applied to life, and he will understand more books and movies and people with Bible knowledge later on too.

IMG_5836

Anyway, I went to church and listened while wrestling Easton on my lap who was noisily chewing on any toy I gave him and dropping them on the floor. Also, there were rocks underneath the chairs as part of the sermon. I made the mistake of giving one to him, and spent the rest of the sermon worrying he was going to throw the stone. We know how Jesus feels about stone-throwers, and I was pretty sure I didn’t want my son’s first sin to be nailing some poor person in the back of the head.  He didn’t, but we did have to leave early when I took away the stone, and he started throwing a fit. All kidding aside, the message yesterday was beautiful. I’m sure it was meant to be inspiring, but I left with a tightness in my chest, and cried a good part of the drive home.

The stones were a metaphor for our God-given gifts. These gifts, these talents of ours have weight, he said. Our purpose is to use them. He gave example after example of people who used their gifts to influence others–they were like Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King Jr., but not them. He used different, lesser known examples, but just as powerful. I don’t remember their names because I was busy wrestling my son and worrying about his stone, but they were powerful examples of how we can use our gifts to live an authentic, inspiring life. And this is what made me cry.

IMG_5912

We also went to a pumpkin patch yesterday, and we reveled in the early autumn afternoon. Watching Easton pick a pumpkin, pet a donkey and laugh at the goats was just the medicine I needed. It was the perfect thing to pull me into the present moment and find the beauty and joy in it. Kids have a way of doing that–forcing us to slow down, to focus on what surrounds us, and to find the thing we are most excited and happy to see and notice that thing only.

 

I’m not the best at it. Slowing down & being present. When I was teaching a lot of yoga, I became a practitioner of mindfulness. Practiced being present and was much better at it then. It’s different now. Even with Easton’s glowing smile or serious scowl as he studies this new world around him to remind me be present!, I still struggle sometimes….Or a lot of the time.

And the sermon pushed me into a world of worry–one I visit frequently since becoming a mom. Specifically since becoming a stay-at-home mom(SAHM). I worry about my baby, about if he will hit his head on the corner of the coffee table while he traverses the couch, about if the foods I eat will affect my milk and his stomach, about if the way I am raising him will help him to be healthy, secure in who he is, smart, and happy. I worry about him a lot. And I also worry about myself. I worry that as a SAHM that I am not using my gifts or education or talent. That I am living a small and insignificant life. That I am being a burden to my husband–even though he consistently points out that I am anything but a burden. I worry that I’m not contributing to our financial health, that I’m prolonging my career and retirement, and savings. I worry that I’m living a life with little value, and I feel a lot of guilt for not giving more–to my husband, to our community, to the world.

IMG_5920

I’m a day behind in the pink book I read every year. So I read yesterday’s message today, and it was perfect. “There is a time for everything, And a season for every activity under heaven.” Eccelsiastes 3:1 The meditation began with that, and then the author noted: “Yes, but they are not the same time. You cannot raise happy, secure, emotionally well-adjusted children, revel in a fabulous marriage and work a 60 hour week.”

And it’s true. There is no way I could be Teacher of the Year right now–working 60-70 hour weeks, grading papers, having heartfelt conversations with students, planning lessons, running a recycling team, a random acts of kindness group, teaching yoga, volunteering, and being a mother and a wife. I’m just now learning how to be an okay wife and mother at the same time.

Maybe it’s okay that I’m not serving more people right now. Maybe my purpose right now–in this season of my life–is to be the strongest pillar of support I can be to my husband and son. Maybe nurturing and nourishing them is enough. Maybe one day I will write my own pink book, or a novel, or I’ll get my MA and be a school counselor. Maybe I’ll make a significant contribution towards my son’s college, toward a 401K, toward buying our first house as a family, toward charity. Maybe I’ll volunteer at the animal shelter and walk dogs, maybe I’ll plan another prom at the local nursing home. Maybe I’ll do more than just recycle and use vinegar and essential oils to ensure the planet my son inhabits isn’t a complete disaster. Maybe I’ll run another marathon, or more realistically a half marathon or do a triathalon. Maybe I’ll teach more yoga and give some classes for free.

Maybe I won’t. But maybe I can just be me, be fully present in the place where I am now–in this season of my life, and maybe it’s enough. Maybe I don’t have to measure up to anything. Maybe just showing up, being present and giving as much love as I can to who and whatever is in my path is enough.

 

With Love….and hope,

 

Keri