No Mom Alone: Five Minute Friday


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For a long time I thought I was the only one. The only one who lived for nap and bedtime. The only one who cringed at the pounding sound of little feet running through the house and the inevitable crashes that followed. I would look at them at as they slept at night and wonder how children so beautiful could produce such anger, frustration and resentment during their waking hours.

Now child three is on the way. Another boy, and likely, I fear, to be as wild and crazy as his older brother. As I share my body daily with this little one, I long for the occasional moment of solitude. Because the truth is I haven’t been alone for the last eight months, (though I’ve probably only been aware of that fact for the last three or four).  After this little one joins the world, he’ll be attached to be almost as often as when he was in utero so I can’t anticipate too much time alone, except for the occasional shower.

But since my first child, I’ve discovered the truth. I am not the only one. Lots of moms feel the way I do and we are not bad moms. We can debate how the pioneer women survived or why moms in the fifties seemed to have it all together. (Personally, I think it was a combination of cocktails and sending kids out to play all day long from the time they could walk). We can only figure out how to help each other now, in the world we live in. Whether it means encouraging healthy use and attitude toward social media (especially Pinterest and Facebook) or looking for ways to get each other out of the house without the kids whenever possible. Rejecting comparison in favorite of connection. We don’t have to do this alone.


I want to take this moment to encourage you to find a support group of moms near you. If you haven’t heard of MOPS, check it out and see if there is a chapter near you. I’ve been involved with my local MOPS group for six years, from the time my daughter was three months old. I’ve been a leader at times and right now I’m just an attendee. But the group has been a source of support for me in my years as a mom and I can’t imagine continuing on without it and the relationships I’ve built through it. 

Want to join us? Find out more here.



Tummy Team Prenatal Core Week 3: Neutral Pelvis and Core Strength


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I’m definitely finding it a bit harder to keep up with the program this time. If you have the choice, starting it in the late second trimester might be a better choice than the mid-third like I’m doing. A lot more transverse squeeze and releases this week and longer transverse holds. But also stronger focus on multitasking, meaning adding these into things you are already doing in your life. (waiting in line, driving in the car, standing or sitting, etc). which in theory makes it easier to fit them all in.

Neutral Pelvis is so hard to find when pregnant. I felt like I had finally figured it out, at least most of the time, but pregnancy has made it so difficult to tell. When I have my pelvis in what normally feels like neutral I feel like I’m sticking my belly out (even if I’m engaging my core and trying to keep my ribs closed.) It feels like there just isn’t enough room, which of course there isn’t because my body isn’t meant to be like this all the time.

I really struggle finding ways to sit properly because I feel like I have to stick my belly out to be in proper pelvic alignment and unless my legs are pretty wide there isn’t room for my belly. (Let’s just say that sitting ladylike in a skirt has gotten very difficult.)

A few new stretches this week. The edge of bed hip flexor stretch (knee to chest, slowly lower other knee so it’s hanging down from bed) was especially helpful and definitely something new that I wasn’t already doing.

I’m still experiencing tons of upper back tightness. I have to be very careful not to shrug my shoulders up and I’m feeling lots of tightness under my shoulder blades. Sometimes single shoulder rolls or an arm across the chest stretch may help, but not always.

If you are Fit2B user, check out Align it Flat as a great way to help practice finding good alignment in various positions. You’ll also find that most of the suggested stretches for this week can be found in Kelly Dean’s Total Body Stretching and Kelly’s Pregnancy Stretching routines.

I wish more of the instructional videos this week addressed pregnancy specifically, especially the video on functional integration. Active sitting, standing and walking all change quite a bit.

This is the halfway point of the program and I’ll admit that it’s hard to feel stronger since my body is changing so fast. My abs are more stretched out and my belly keeps getting bigger. But I’m trying to remain as consistent as I can. When I’m tired, I try to do a few shoulder rolls and transverse squeeze or two, if nothing else. At least then, even in my fatigue, I’m reminding my body what it needs to do.

The Tummy Team

Reflections on my Final Weeks of Pregnancy: Five Minute Friday

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They couldn’t find a heartbeat, where one had been just a few weeks before and everything changed overnight. Instead of eating crackers and making plans I was arranging for a hospital procedure and care for my daughter during the recovery.

Then four years later, I sat in a different exam room, thinking that this was all happening all over again. Except it wasn’t. It was just too early, the tech said. She didn’t give us any guarantees but told us that she couldn’t tell us for sure either way.

Two weeks later we heard the most beautiful sound, the heartbeat of our baby. Now, all these months later as I’m trudging through the final weeks of what has been a difficult pregnancy I find myself remembering those fearful days of uncertainty. The other night he didn’t move for a while (at a time of day when he is usually most active) and nothing seemed to motivate him to do so; all those feelings came rushing back and I saw myself losing yet another child. But fortunately he finally woke up and wiggled around enough to let me know he was OK and the following day’s scheduled ultrasound confirmed that all is well.

I just can’t wait to finally hold him on the outside. (Or let someone else take a turn holding him, as the case may be). I see what his face looks like beyond the 3D ultrasound. (So far he seems to resemble his brother and sister a great deal). I wonder if he has hair and if he’ll be a better sleeper than his siblings. I worry that he’ll get this brother’s food allergies and both their tempers. But mostly I just want to be able to look into his face and tell him that he is loved, and special and that being third doesn’t mean he is any less. He is wanted, yearned for and found.

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What to Do With a Windfall? It’s Not Just Free Money


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I haven’t blogged much about finances in quite some time. Mostly because we’ve been in a financial holding pattern, but also because life has been so full of kids, pregnancy and other daily life stuff that sometimes money seems so mundane to write about. But recently I’ve been thinking a lot about how and why we manage our money the way we do. Those are our money values. Those same values apply when unexpected and or unplanned for money comes our way.

Windfalls are pretty much the result of luck, by definition.  While things like rebates, bonuses and tax returns can be counted on to a certain extent, they are not guaranteed.  The questions always becomes, what to do with the money? Many people view this as essentially free money, and therefore can be used for fun activities. I don’t entirely disagree with this.  For most of the last six years, we haven’t had a regular line item in our budget for fun or eating out. This can be a tough way to live and can result in what I call “Frugality Fatigue”. My definition of frugality fatigue is when you have been living very leanly for a long time. (You can read more about that here). Your definition of leanly and long will probably vary. Using small windfalls for those little luxuries can be a good way to prevent long term bitterness or frustration that can lead to larger poor choices. Yes, it is always wisest to save or pay down debt with any extra money. But using a small amount of unexpected money for little treats can help us stay on the long term path to healthy financial living.

Bigger windfalls require more careful consideration. Just because you tax return is $1,000 larger than expected doesn’t mean that it’s free money to be spent however you like. (A tax return in particular is a refund of YOUR hard earned money that the government has been holding onto for the last year. This is not free money, but rather your money being returned to you. Spend it accordingly).

If you don’t have an emergency fund to speak of, that’s a good place to start. I find that a good minimum emergency fund is at least one paycheck, one month’s income is better. A lot of articles recommend six months to a year of income in your emergency fund. But if you have no savings or a lot of debt, that feels like an impossible mountain. The financial guru Dave Ramsey recommend starting with $1,000 emergency fund and then proceed with paying off debt. If that’s all you can manage in the beginning, start with that.

You (and your spouse if you are married) need to decide together what constitutes a windfall (is irregular income a windfall or income? Etc.) and what constitutes a large windfall vs. a smaller one.  In our household I handle the majority of the money, and for the small amounts (less than $50 typically) I usually decide what’s going to happen to it. Examples of this includes credit card rebates, or small survey payments like those I get from Pinecone Research (I typically cash out around $15). I usually funnel these into our date or fun fund, for doing things like getting pizza or ice cream with the kids or saving towards a dinner out for us.

In my opinion the best choices for a large windfall or as follows:

Build an Emergency Fund

This is for actual emergencies. (Job loss, illness, unexpected car or house repairs not covered by insurance). Not for sudden invitations to nights on the town or vacation opportunities. Those are fun things, but should be saved for in another way. An emergency fund is designed to keep you from having to max out your credit card or take out some other kind of loan when faced with unforeseen expenses that you don’t currently have the cash for. Decide how big an emergency fund you need to have to start with and make that your goal.

Pay off debt

Pay off debt, especially high interest debt. Since the current rates on savings accounts are so low, I recommend paying off debt over putting money in savings, once you have formed a small emergency fund (designed to help prevent you from unnecessarily going into debt again).

Start creating a larger savings account beyond your emergency fund.

If your emergency fund is at a level you are comfortable with, than start a larger savings account for small short term dreams and upcoming expenses. Car or large appliance replacement, a weekend away, a family vacation, an upcoming wedding, or big things like home purchase or renovation.

Sometimes this may have to be done at the same time as paying off debt, especially large debt that will take a long time.

Invest for Retirement and the Future

Personally, I’d choose a Roth IRA (post tax) or traditional IRA (pretax) over a 529 plan (college savings) for this reason; you can borrow for your child’s schooling if you must, (or let them take out loans and help them pay them off later) but you can’t borrow for your retirement. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do both, but many parents focus so much on trying to save for their children’s education that they don’t think about their own futures until it’s too late.

Some people would argue that Investment should always come first. I am not a financial planner, so it’s possible that I am totally wrong about this. But I am also of the generation who saw the “Great Recession’ and watched a lot of people lose years of their retirement savings, basically starting over from scratch when the dust settled. It also doesn’t make logical sense to me to invest in something that is a gamble when you still have debt. Paying off debt is a guaranteed return!

Obviously these are just some ideas. But when a large sum of money comes your way, it’s best to have a plan for it, even if those plans include wants or dreams rather than practical choices. That way you’ve made intentional choices with your money. This puts you in the driver’s seat of your financial future.

Fit2B Mama Week 3


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Wow, Week 3 is done and I am feeling it. At 34 weeks, I’m definitely finding that I cannot be as active as I used to be. But I’m still going to keep active as much as possible.

Day 1

Mula Bandha, Pilates in Pajamas

I haven’t done Pilates in Pajamas since I’ve been so far along in this pregnancy. But it wasn’t so bad. I modified several of the movements and definitely did the simplest option for most of the sections. But I still felt like I was getting a workout and keeping my body moving.

Day 2

Totally Transverse II, Pilates in Pajamas II, Pregnancy Stretching

I found Pilates in Pajamas II to be a little more challenging, and I made limited use of the weights but still felt like this could be modified to do during pregnancy. Pregnancy Stretching is always a welcome addition. I have most of the stretches memorized now, so I can do them with or without the video.

Day 3

Basic Transverse & Mula Bandha, Tabata

I really like this as a maternity workout. The intervals make it easy to pause and catch my breath. Though I did shorten the workout slightly by not doing the last part on my back. But it was still a good routine. It is long, but I still think it’s worth the time and effort.

Day 4

Totally Transverse, Balanced, Simply Stretching

Balancing is really my favorite part of this workout. Yes, there are weights involved and I had to modify it in sections, but the best part is feeling how much I am still able to balance, even this far along.

I have to be so gentle doing Simply Stretching because of how tender so many of my muscles and joints are right now. But this workout contains a very significant stretch for me. The modified hurdler’s stretch is the only thing I’ve found that gently stretches my inner thigh and hip (as in where the ball and socket join together) which is where I have the majority of my pain especially at night. It’s a slow moving workout and it can be difficult to psyche myself up to do it sometimes but I’m always glad I did.

Day 5

Kelly Dean’s Total Body Workout

This workout continues to be one of the most well balanced ones on Fit2B. I definitely felt my tummy muscles were tired and my lower back was a little bit sore, but I got through it. Similar to Tabata, you can always take a break between sets or sections if you need to. At eight months pregnant I’m glad I can still even get through this one. I love that it incorporates everything I need, including stretches with no required equipment.

Day 6

Maternity III

While it does incorporate weights, this is still a very healthy pregnancy workout. Beth does include some stretching, but if you are like me and need lots of stretching, feel free to add a few of your own or do an additional stretching workout. Sometimes I had to do fewer reps than recommended with the weights and be very mindful of my stretched out core, but that’s OK. Better to do quality but simple movements than harder movements in poor alignment or with a compromised core.

I decided to only make this a six day workout schedule because I also took a few walks this week and I didn’t want to overtax myself with workouts on top of it. As I head into month eight of this pregnancy I’m going to be easing up a little bit on my schedule; fewer days, shorter workouts. But I don’t want to stop altogether because I want to have something left to actually deliver this baby with. Plus, hopefully that will make it easier to return to exercise after the baby is born. Next week I’ll be starting a series of reviews of all the workouts recommended on the Fit2B New Mama pathway, which is designed to be for pregnancy as well as postpartum. I hope you will join me.


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Tummy Team Prenatal Core Week 2: Connection


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Week 1: Focus of the Week – Connection

This week involved really trying to connect/reconnect with my core through lots of transverse holds and transverse squeeze and releases. However a new addition was some core stretches.

The stretches are actually very difficult for me to do, so I haven’t been doing them much. Anything that involves laying on my back really seems to aggravate my SI joints, so other than the shoulder rolls, I haven’t done these all that much. I also had a major flare up this week where I could barely walk. So I tried to focus on those transverse holds and transverse squeeze and releases when I was in too much pain to do any other kind of exercise.

The section on potty posture was repeat information from what I learned before when I did the program last year, but it was a good reminder. The daily or twice daily massage is actually kind of nice and it reminds me to apply my prenatal belly balm.

I don’t feel like I’m as strong as I’d like to be but I definitely feel more connected to my tummy muscles on a regular basis. My muscles also feel pretty tired (not unlike the rest of me, since I’m into my eighth month). But I’m just going to keep moving forward and hoping that my body can keep up.

Tummy Team Prenatal Core Week 3: Neutral Pelvis and Core Strength

The Tummy Team

What’s Important Is That We’re Here: Five Minute Friday

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photo courtesy of Twinkle Photo

I remember the morning well. Sitting at a table with a new mom at MOPS, a single mom who wasn’t sure if she belonged. She talked about how hard it was having to work full time and not seeing as much of her daughter as she liked. The attitudes from others (both Christians and not) that she had a child out of wedlock at all. How sometimes she felt inadequate as a mom. I’ll never forget what I said.

“The important thing is that you are here. You’re taking care of her and doing your best for her. You are trying to be a good mom.”

In a culture where risk of any kind is unacceptable and latest best selling parenting book or popular psychology expert tells us that we aren’t good enough as moms. Not just “not good enough” but “doing everything wrong and doomed to completely screw our kids up for life.” Where Pinterest perfect reigns supreme and we’ve all constructed our facades of put-togetherness so that we don’t let others see how things really are. Because let’s face it, we’re all just doing our best.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t seek the wise advice or seek to improve ourselves; but obsessing won’t make this job easier nor is it likely to make us better mothers. But most of us are just doing our best. We will never be perfect. Realizing this is half the battle. Laying our insecurities, our mistakes and pride (yep, it’s possible to feel insecure in one area of parenting and still feel prideful in another) at the foot of the cross. Acknowledging our daily and hourly need for help as women and as moms.

The important thing is that we are here. We may want to quit, run away and leave it all behind, but we haven’t. We’re still here in the trenches. We may barely get by some days, feeling as though we’re fighting a losing battle, but we’re trying nonetheless.

I need to take my own advice many days, especially right now. I’m not going to be perfect. There are many days where I know I won’t get it right. But I need to remind myself that I am the best mom for these kids and with much prayer (tears, desperation and frustration) keep trying.


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