Joyful, Joyful

IMG_7202This was from a few weekends ago at Garden of the Gods. My husband snapped it from his phone and just showed me this week. It was the last really nice day before the cold and snow set in. It was a day that we woke up together as a family. It was a day that my little boy woke up, and I may not have even noticed how he changed, but knowing that he was somehow different. Maybe a bit taller; his fingernails now needed clipping, he’d be quicker on his feet–running around the furniture; he’d figure out the puzzle that I bought him; he’d be extra cuddly and need to be tucked in close to my heart. Each day he is different. And I am too.

Early in my pregnancy, I remember thinking that the whole world was different because of the child that was growing within me. Nothing was the same. Nothing would ever be the same again. I didn’t know at the time how true that would be. In both the romantic, idealistic way I had dreamed and the very real peeing with a baby sitting in your lap first thing in the morning kinds of ways. I didn’t know how differently I’d see the world–through his ever-curious eyes hungry to know “what’s this?” and “this” and “that”? I didn’t know I’d learn a new language, one without words. I didn’t know that language would shape the way I act and think and feel about everything.

Every day he changes. Every day the world around me is different. And every day I am changed.

I am a changed woman. Many of my patterns and habits and beliefs to which I had previously clung to so tightly have loosened their grip on me. Or rather, I’ve simply let them go. Additional baggage to carry is too much. I already carry this life–this precious life with me from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep. And then throughout the night as he shifts in his sleep to nurse or in dreams. The weight of this beautiful blessing that I am responsible forever for is enough on it’s own. And so, as my house builds up with stuff–blankets and toys and lovies and leaves and sticks and baby mittens, and bowls of snow, my heart empties itself of so many things.

Lately, I’ve been pouring over my curriculum materials from Institute for Integrative Nutrition since I’m coaching a group, and I came across a concept they have called the circle of life. Check it out:

circle+of+life+colorSo much has changed in the last few years since I have taken this. You’re asked to evaluate your life based on these aspects of health–seen holistically. In so many areas of my life, I’d categorize a component lower than I once did. Home cooking??? Always, but not to the extent I was before. Home environment? A big damn disaster. I used to be a neat freak. Relationships & social life? Outside of Aaron and Easton–pfff. Spirituality? No, I do not write to God everyday anymore. I pray in bursts, and I’m embarrassed about half of them. Unless you count nursing my crying child or changing his wet diapers as prayers. I do. Finances? Muah ha ha ha. Don’t even get me started on what’s different there.

But for all that’s different, that’s lowered or less, the Joy? More. So so so much more. Every day he changes. Every day my world is altered and awesome. Every day I am undeniably refined. Purer of heart, and my heart is so very full of joy.

With Love,

Keri

Restorative Yoga Sunday. Back & shoulders.

IMG_7179It may not look like much, but after a long day hunched over something–a child or computer a kitchen floor, this pose is pure bliss.  In many yoga classes, a similar shoulder opener is taught, but using a Mexican blanket horizontally across your back. This one is slightly different, and I love it. So here:

I folded my blanket like this.

IMG_7172In half width-wise and then length wise.

IMG_7173And length wise again. And then most importantly:

IMG_7174Accordion-style to get some decent height. Here is a view from the top:

IMG_7175Then gently lay on the blanket. You want the bottom fold to hit where your bra-strap would hit  (of for any male readers, where you would find one ;) ). NOT AT THE BASE OF THE SPINE. I’ll say it again, where your bra clasp would be. This picture illustrates where:

IMG_7177(This pose is more relaxing without a baby so close in the background.) Once you lay on the blanket, you should notice a bit of excess blanket at the top of your head. You can fold it under to make a pillow so that your head is slightly elevated. That’s what’s happening with my arms in this picture. Once in the full pose, your arms should be at your sides–about 5-6 inches away from your body (not at a cross shape and not glued to your sides). Palms should face toward the ceiling.

I beg you, spend five minutes in this at the end of the day. Spend five minutes with your eyes closed, in this pose, replaying every moment you were grateful for. Heart openers are the best time to focus on gratitude. And then slowly come out of it–roll onto your right side and push the blanket away, to roll onto your back once again noting the changes in your spine. Then gently press yourself into a seated position, sit with your eyes closed, and observe how you feel physically, mentally emotionally. As you take note of those feelings–make a quick mental list of how to nourish yourself in the week ahead.

With love,

Keri

Winter Bucket List Part 1

IMG_7108It’s not quite 9am, and it’s 3 degrees outside right now. A whopping 3 degrees warmer than it was when we woke up. It’s lightly snowing, and as pretty as it is, it’s November. November! The month that is still supposed to be autumn. But one look outside frigidly illustrates that winter is here.

Rather than cry over my chamomile tea (we were out of COFFEE this morning), I’ve decided to make the best of the bitter cold and an uncharacteristically early morning nap time to make a winter bucket list. From now until Christmas. Since we live in Colorado, winter necessitates two bucket lists. Sigh.

* Make a new soup once a week (yesterday we were housebound & I made some pretty great vegetable broth recipe coming soon!)

* Rework a few sugary holiday recipes to make them still tasty but less-likely to give me a sugar hangover.

* Knit a few more hats and finally mail a few promised to friends!

* Make small Christmas gifts for family & friends (to be determined).

* Make it a point to exercise every day–even when we are stuck inside.

* Incorporate more restorative yoga into my week, and post here weekly as a gift for the stressful holiday season to all of you!

* Get outside every day the weather is 30 or above; let Easton experience snow and cold and winter & know the magic of it.

* We missed the coat donation day, so I plan on cleaning out what we no longer wear and taking our warm clothes and coats to Goodwill.

* Donate money to a local shelter providing Thanksgiving for the homeless.

* Pick a name from the angel tree, and let Easton begin the first of many holidays with the spirit of giving.

* Deck the halls. But without a full size Christmas tree. I’m not up for a month of NO, Don’t touch!

* Read and re-read all the winter and Christmas books.

* Read more books, or even a book just for me. Little Blue truck 500 times a day doesn’t count & isn’t cutting it.

* Sing Christmas carols, let Easton learn which he loves most.

* Make a Christmas ornament for Easton. Some keepsake for his first Christmas!

* Spend a Friday night driving around looking at Christmas lights.

* Bask in candlelight everyday.

* Make some bath cures with essential oils for the cold.

* Come up with an age appropriate Advent activity calendar for Easton & spend each day making memories.

What are you planning for this winter? What’s on your wish list?

With Love from Colorado,

Keri

Pain in the Neck.

Screen shot 2014-11-09 at 2.26.38 PMI love Instagram. If you follow me , you already know I’m slightly addicted to it. You might be familiar with the fabulous yogini mom in the photo above; if not, find her profile here.So freaking adorable, right?! She’s famous and only one of the many Mamas & yoginis I follow. Maybe it’s crazy to say it, but I love the community of people I follow. I love that from them, I am reminded daily how wonderful the world really is–despite what the daily news reports. The moms that I follow inspire me with beautiful images of motherhood at times when my own life doesn’t look so inspiring. They share real moments and reach out as well, making me not feel so alone. I am so grateful for  the virtual village that exists there.

Most every day, I also post images from our life that I love.  I try to capture the good. And share it. I try to capture the good and hold on to it there. Because life as a mom isn’t always beautiful.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

It’s almost always messy–toys are strewn across the living room floor, dust coats corners I choose to ignore, and I haven’t cleaned my oven in a little over a year. It’s sometimes stinky–poopy diapers and infrequent mom showers. It’s often hard–giving up every ounce of yourself for another person (often when you are sleep-deprived). And sometimes it’s painful. Specifically in the neck and shoulders.  Spending all day hunched over a not-so-little one, wearing a 25 pound & growing boy, and co-sleeping in strange positions makes my muscles tighter than my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans.

Restorative Yoga to the rescue!! For me anyway, and I want to share them with you. Hopefully here every Sunday–as a gift to give yourself throughout each week. You deserve it; all moms do! The poses don’t make for  pretty pictures like Laura Sykora’s do, but they save me and make me feel peaceful and take away the pain that motherhood can sometimes cause (as wonderful as it is!).

The picture above is my all time favorite pose for tight neck and shoulders. I do not recommend it for pregnant mamas and advise against it if you are on your period or still have post-partum bleeding. I do recommend having a friend or partner spot you the first few times you try it. Other than that, this pose looks much scarier and harder than it actually is. I made a quick “How To” video on Youtube here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JP_nJSnwvI

 

You will need wall space and two non-cushiony chairs. Place the chairs against the wall, just far enough apart for you to slide your neck between them.

Practice from your knees to get the right distance.

Practice in downward dog before kicking up, rocking up onto your toes and feeling how the chair will massage your shoulders. Once you kick up, the feeling will be very intense. Painful even. But you made it through labor, remember? You can handle this pain! And you will feel so much better afterwards.

With a spotter  or two (standing to the side), kick into “handstand”. This does not take upper-body strength, just a lot of letting go of fear.  Move your pelvis toward and away from the wall to really massage deeply into your muscles.

With a spotter or two, slowly come out of the pose–first to downward dog, then to your knees. Stay on your knees with your head on the chair or on your arms folded on top of the chair for at least 5 deep breaths.

And note how your neck & shoulders feel. Better, right?

Next week will be less scary, I promise. Also, is there anything you’d like to see? Low back relief? Hip pain? Headache? Let me know in the comments!

With Love from Colorado,

Keri

 

 

What’s for Breakfast:

IMG_6954One sure-fire way to love morning is to bake before bed. Last night I finally put the little pie pumpkin we bought Easton to good use (we never got around to carving it anyway). I love pumpkin recipes all fall (September-November!), and this was a hit this morning with coffee around here. Since it was late, I had to work with what we had on hand, and I came up with this tasty recipe! It’s really moist & I love the spices in it. I posted the recipe (an abbreviated version) on Instagram this morning, and thought I would share here as well.

Ingredients:

2 Cups Oat Flour (I ground mine in our Nutribullet)

2/3 Cup Sugar (I used coconut sugar) and they were not leveled-off cups

1 t Baking Soda

1 t Baking Powder

1/2 t Sea Salt

1 t Cinnamon

1/2 Heaping t of Nutmeg

1/3 t Cloves

1 flax egg ( I actually made mine with a product I got suckered into buying at Whole Foods called Nature’s Eggs)

1 cup plus 2 T Pumpkin Puree

1/2 cup Coconut Oil

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

IMG_6934To Make:

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a baking pan with coconut oil.  Then make your flax egg. You can either use a T of ground flax seeds or chia with 1-3 T of water or use the same ratio with the Nature’s Eggs that I used. Then mix all the dry ingredients except the walnuts in a large mixing bowl. Next add the coconut oil (make sure it’s melted if your house is cold enough for it to turn solid) and pumpkin puree. Mix, and then fold in the flax egg. Finally, fold in the walnuts. Pour into the baking dish & bake for 50 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. If you are new to vegan baking, the batter should be a bit thicker than normal bread, so you may need to add a bit more flour. I also added some rolled oats, cinnamon & sprinkled more nature’s egg on the top–giving it a healthy dose of omegas and making a breastfeeding friendly breakfast (Oats are good for nursing moms!).

Most of the time I try to eat a healthier breakfast, but sometimes it’s so darn nice to treat ourselves with something sweet like pumpkin bread, right? And, again, this recipe isn’t completely evil with the oats, Nature’s Egg, Walnuts, Pumpkin & cinnamon. The sugar? Knowing that it definitely isn’t the healthiest choice, especially during this time of year for me, means that I will have to balance it out with an extra walk or a little extra time in the sun today. But I’m game, blue skies above today and not quite as many layers will be needed.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetHappy Tuesday! Treat yourselves and make sure it really is a treat by finding balance! Does anyone else notice sugar induced mood changes or want to learn more about it?

xo.

Fall/Winter Daily Rhythm

IMG_6743Hello November. Hello time change that makes no sense if you have kids or pets. Hello wool sweaters & knit hats, jackets & mittens. Hello baked goods, life-affirming soups, afternoon tea, a bigger mug of coffee in the mornings. Hello candlelight, good books, reflection time, more yoga, new daily rhythms.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. A sort of day in the life–because I love reading how other moms navigate their days. With the time and season change, I thought this would be a perfect chance to make sure that I meet this self-imposed deadline. Around here, we follow a rhythm rather than a schedule. Very few days have the exact same schedule, and I try not to live by the exactness of a clock (I’d fail miserably if I did). We aim for a daily rhythm, a weekly pattern to organize our life. For me, there is comfort in routine & joy in the holidays that break it. Here is a glimpse into our everyday:

IMG_61945:30-6:00 am Easton wakes up. We spend a few minutes cuddling & he happily babbles (telling me his dreams?) and I tell him what we will do this day while changing his diaper & making the bed & starting laundry. Every day is laundry day.

6:30-7:45 We make coffee together. Then I get Daddy’s breakfast and lunch packed & listen to the news while Easton plays. I try to give him new “toys” during this time to explore–pots and pans, tissue paper, a bin filled with rotini noodles, water in cups, bottles filled with different grains, leaves, turkey basters & rolling pins, etc. It keeps him occupied in the living room–and we have a window in the kitchen so that I can watch him play while I clean up the kitchen and pack lunches. Aaron leaves for work around 7:00, so we always kiss & wave goodbye.

7:45-8:00 Get dressed & make breakfast (together).

8:00-8:30 Breakfast. We almost always listen to oldies while we eat, and almost always dance after breakfast a little while.

8:45-9:30 Morning nap begins. It’s a little different everyday, and Fridays I go to a book club, so naps a later then. His morning nap lasts anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. I usually try to use this time to get daily chores done that Easton can’t help with (cleaning bathrooms or kitchen) and then sneak in a few minutes of yoga.

10:00 We get ready to go outside for a run & play time in the park. Monday-Thursday I run 2-4 miles depending on how restless I feel Easton getting while we’re out. We stop by the park on our way home to let him explore–grass, leaves, rocks, sand. While he explores the great outdoors, I try to get a little work-out in. Planks, burpees, core work, squats, lunges, tricep dips, and whatever else I can think of.

11:30-12:ish We are home. I nurse him and then shower. As non-crunchy as it is–he’s either in the pack and play in the hall or the Baby Einstein Jumper in the bathroom with me while I take 5 minutes to shower (often while playing peak-a-boo).

12:30-1:ish We prepare lunch together and eat. He eats small bits of whatever I have usually. Beans and avocado, broccoli & brown rice, squash and pear, etc.

1:ish-2:ish Afternoon chores–folding laundry, dusting, watering plants, etc. I usually wear him–it helps to calm him & focus. Then we have story time. We read the same 5 books about everyday, and a couple new ones. Lately, in our rotation is Little Blue Truck, Brown Bear Brown Bear, The Busy Squirrel, In My Tree, and Too Much Noise. I try to include some seasonally appropriate books so that the scenery models what we see outside & what is in his daily life.

2:ish Afternoon nap time. Most afternoons he’ll nap an hour and a half to two hours. I use this time to blog, write, knit or crochet, and now work on my holistic health counseling website and marketing! I’d also like to schedule clients during this time in the future. Often, I also use this time for dinner prep-work that I can’t do while wearing Easton.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset3:30-4:ish When he wakes up we might read again if he wants to cuddle and be close to mom, or I wear him and we head out for a walk. If we used work out & park time earlier in the day for grocery or library trips then we lace up and head out at 4. We may also use this time for crafts (ie. I craft and Easton makes a gigantic mess :) )

5:30-6:30 We come home and he plays or helps me get dinner started. We also use this time to tidy up a little bit.

6:30ish-7:ish We sit down to dinner. Aaron gets home around 6ish most nights, some nights later. We try to eat as a family when we can.

7:30 Bath time or play time. It depends on how dirty Easton gets during dinner and throughout the day. He’s still not always a huge fan of them, so everyday baths are not fun to battle.

8:ishhhh. Somewhere between 8 & 9 Easton will go to bed. We do have a bedtime routine, but he doesn’t always go right to sleep. Most nights I still nurse him to sleep despite what all the sleep experts say.

8:30ish-10:00 I run around the house picking things up, responding to emails, making the next day’s to-do list, read or watch mindless tv if it’s been one of those days. I also use this time for self care–whether it be a few restorative yoga poses, meditation, pranayama, prayer, self-massage, journaling, skincare rituals, a cup of tulsi tea, etc. As the months grow colder, I will need more and more self-care when I’m not outside as much and there isn’t as much light. This time of year can be challenging for me mentally and emotionally, so if you are like me, follow along because I’ll be sharing more about health and self-care in the coming weeks!

IMG_6820What does your daily rhythm look like? How has it changed with the time and season change? Do you struggle to add self-care into your day, or need more of it in the winter months?

With love,

Keri

Practical Magic.

IMG_6634I’ve never been a big fan of scary movies. On Halloween night, I usually prefer to stay at home and pass out candy while watching movies. My favorite is Practical Magic.  It’s one of my favorite movies–not just for Halloween night. I love this movie for any night.

Truth. I do have a minor obsession with all things witch. However, what I love most about this movie is the sisterhood, the beauty, the kitchen!, the sillyness, the magic, and the idea that magic is something we experience in the everyday. I believe in all of those things:

Sisterhood

Beauty

Sillyness

Magic

Miracles

Simplicity

IMG_6628I’m not really a big fan of Halloween. I don’t really like spending extra money on costumes that we will wear for one night. I don’t like the worry that comes with it, the smell of Goodwill finds (that somehow never quite washes out), the horror flicks, cheap candy, and now the looming fear of letting my child Trick or Treat in a world full of not so safe neighborhoods.

But I like the history of it. Samhain (sow-in) is a pagan holiday celebrated from sunset on October 31 to sunset on November 1. A night that marks the end of summer and hearkens the darkest season of the year. Rituals for the celebration included candles, bonfires, dancing, feasts, and honoring the dead. It’s where we get our pumpkin carving and bobbing for apples, and where we’ve lost some traditions like peeling apples and using the peels as a form of divination. The history is long forgotten. We don’t know why we scoop out pumpkin guts, that its origins lie in the thought that the night is a liminal time–a time when the veil between this world and other worlds is gossamer thin. The history fascinates me. I believe in a lot of these things too:

Bringing light to the darkest nights

Bonfires and campfires on cold nights

Dancing & the healing it brings

Feasts

Honoring the dead, taking note of those who have passed that we have loved and admired

Ritual

This world

Other worlds

Magic

IMG_6629I believe in magic. Maybe I can’t fly or wiggle my nose and make the objects of my affection appear from thin air. Maybe I can’t freeze motion, predict with perfect clarity the future, or move things with my mind. Maybe I can’t cast spells. But I can make a meal from practically nothing in the cupboard. Magic! And I bet you can make a paycheck last the year that some months take. Magic! I can be fully present to the golden hour of light just before the sun sets each day with my son, and in that way make time stand still for a bit. You can create a life that you love. I can follow my intuition, live by the gut feeling I get that has often guided me well through this life. We can make our own rituals:

Start each day with hope & prayer & gratitude

Care for those we love with the most tender hands

Make meals that nourish our bodies, minds, spirits

Smile at strangers

Laugh with friends

Connect over coffee

Talk over tea

Kiss away pain and booboos

Make monster spray for under the beds and closets

Come clean–through confession and baths and tears

Love bigger than we knew was possible

Be present every chance we can

IMG_6584Magic. Everyday. Magic! We all have it in us. Not just on Halloween. On all days, everyday–when we listen.

With love,

Keri