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Layouts, Running, Scrapbooking

I survived!

I did it! I survived Sun Mountain! I had hoped to get my blog post about it up by now, but it’s taking me forever to wade through all the photos from our long weekend. (Spoiler: IT WAS SO GOOD.)

I do have a very important story to tell with the Story Kit this month, about the bravest person I know, but it’s one of those pages that’s just going to be really hard to make, emotionally, (and I don’t know if she will want me to share it), so for now, here’s a story about me, being a little bit brave in my own sort of much less important way.

Sun Mountain 25K

(That little flexing bicep badge is everything. And I know my fellow scrapbookers will appreciate how excited I was when I saw how amazing the race bib was.)

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Layouts, Scrapbooking

Scrapbook Therapy

Not gonna lie – as much as I love my kid, 2.5 isn’t my favorite age. There’s a lot of Jekyll and Hyde-ness going on. On Sunday, I ended up googling the phrase “Exorcist tantrums” (and, much to my relief, found that many many parents before me had put those two words together). So I’m doing my best to focus on and treasure the Jekyll moments, because Jekyll is the sweetest, kindest, most wonderful little being there ever was.

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Now that Ali Edwards finally released her 6×8 Story Books, all my random little 6×8 pages finally have homes! And something about that size makes scrapbooking less intimidating than if I were to make a bigger layout. I bought one album for me/the family, one for Lily, and one for Nora. This page will go in my own album, not hers, because she doesn’t really need to see it until a time where she might have a toddler herself.

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I like that my album is going to be full of little thoughts I have that I probably wouldn’t have bothered to make a full 8.5×11 page about. Having kids is wonderful and fulfilling and fun, but sometimes it’s very hard work, and this album is turning out to be pretty therapeutic to me during those times. I thought I would use Ali’s May release kit to make a sappy page about Mother’s Day, but since Mother’s Day just happened to fall during my most challenging week yet as a parent, it felt right to focus on how I cope with that instead.

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Running

Word vomit on expectations

Last Wednesday, after the girls were tucked into their beds and after much procrastination, I headed out the door for a run. It was raining, as usual, and it was that special kind of bone-chilling cold outside and so gloomy and generally just kind of awful. I told myself to just go out there and do whatever I felt like doing. Worst case, I could just run to the dog poop trash can, a measly one mile return trip.

By the time I made it to the trash can, my muscles were already good and warm, so I decided to run up and down my training hill a couple of times. Of course after that I felt fantastic and I got all high and continued for six miles, which is a lot for me for an after-bedtime run. When I came home, I was in full-on skravlepus mode and JK had to endure my overly excited monologue for 20 minutes before I was able to calm down and shut up.

Most of that monologue was about expectations – about how my best days on trail tend to happen when I’m expecting it to suck. It makes sense that if you’re expecting the worst, the reality will usually be better, but that’s not really a great way to go through life. “Well this is going to be awful.” Okay, so hopefully your run (or meeting or workday or whatever) isn’t going to live up to that grim expectation, but at that point, you’re just suffering in advance of the event instead of during it.

What worked for me last Wednesday was that I truly had no expectations. An absolutely neutral mindset. Now that is a special sort of headspace magic that I usually can’t attain.

But! If a neutral mindset is the way to go, how do I reconcile it with also attempting to be all gung ho WOO I’M GONNA ROCK THIS? It sounds so good in theory, being all zen-like and living in the moment, but doesn’t a neutral mindset also mean that you can’t really look forward to anything? Because that sounds awful too. Setting goals and looking forward to them are huge happiness boosters for me, and they pretty much can’t exist without expectations.

Where am I going with all of this? I have no idea. Maybe next time I have a really good run, I’ll have some sort of grand epiphany and figure this all out, but I don’t expect (heh) that to happen anytime soon.

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Layouts, Scrapbooking

Through the lens I see life

I’ve struggled to get back into the groove of scrapbooking after Lils was born, but this month as I was making my pages for Ali Edwards’ April releases, I think things finally clicked back into place and I felt inspired again.

Participating in a simplified version of Week in the Life was part of it – every time I start focusing more on our everyday life, I get really excited about being able to look back on these pictures and notes in the future. Another reason, and this will probably sound dumb, is that I had a really vivid nightmare in which I was told I only had a couple of days left to live. Of course I woke up all sweaty and sad and couldn’t for the life of me fall back asleep. I spent the rest of the night thinking about what I want my girls to know if that were ever to happen. First and foremost how much I love them, but also what my feelings are about certain life situations that they might end up in some day. I’ve always just scrapbooked with my future self in mind, because there’s no guarantee that anyone else will be interested in looking through these albums, but if something does happen and I’m not around to talk, my girls will have a chance to sort of peek inside my brain and see how I handled things like depression, infertility, and the ups and downs and stress and joy that come with raising little kids.

Lens

Ali’s Story Kit theme this month is Lens, and it’s one I think I’ll be using for a long time, both for literal interpretations of what I’ve seen through my camera lens (because I have a never-ending backlog of gorgeous hiking adventures I want to document) and for pages like this one, about how I choose to look at life (complete with real-life giant bags under my eyes and unkempt mom hair).

As for Week in the Life, I was just too tired last week to participate fully (because apparently I choose to spend my nights envisioning depressing scenarios instead of sleeping), but I did make a mini version that I adore. It was supposed to be one photo and one story per day, but then I ended up with too many photos I loved and had to change it to two photos and one or two stories a day. Much less time-consuming than a full-on WITL, but I ended up with a really good overview of our everyday life right now along with my thoughts and some cute quotes and stories from Nora.

Week in the Life Tuesday

Week in the Life Wednesday

It’s coming together really quickly since it’s just a matter of adding the date boxes and a transparent white box onto my photos and printing the journaling I had written each day, but since I decided to double my stories, I still have to go through my notes and finish those last bits of journaling before I can share the whole thing.

Easter

Of course scrapbooking shouldn’t be all heavy thoughts, after all, this is a hobby I do for fun, so since part of the April release was Easter-themed, I went all in with a good old-fashioned event page. Because sometimes you’ve just gotta share how cute your kid looked in her dress. Or while devouring a giant chocolate bunny.

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Health

The first thirty

Regarding the weightloss I described in my previous post (thank you so much for all the comments and warm, fuzzy love about that!), I should probably clarify that it didn’t just magically melt off due to hiking. I’m a firm believer in the saying that you can’t out-exercise your mouth. Those 500 calories you might burn on a hike won’t make much of a dent if you reward yourself with a giant chocolate bar afterwards (not that I would ever do that, of course, she whistles innocently).

(That said, backpacking trips and very long dayhikes did lead to weightloss for me, thanks to the combination of sustained exercise and low calorie intake, because I just ended up eating way less than I would at home. Road trips where we would camp and go backpacking were especially effective, but of course my weight would just shoot back up the second I came home and resumed my normal eating habits.)

The big change was, I think, a change in the way I saw myself. Suddenly I was out there experiencing a whole new world and my body started feeling stronger every time I climbed a mountain. That confidence boost made me respect myself enough to start taking better care of my body.

I flirted with a few things like Weight Watchers, but never lasted very long because I just loathe any sort of food tracking with every fiber of my being. So mostly I just ate healthier than before. Honestly, my diet prior to discovering hiking was so atrocious that even the smallest of tweaks gave big results, but I also learned to really love vegetables. I started reading healthy living blogs and learned that kale is a thing, and actually a surprisingly tasty thing! I discovered the joy of cooking, which in itself was a huge step up from eating french fries and Quorn nuggets and all sorts of pre-packaged junk every day, even though I smothered most things in cheese. (My affair with chocolate, however, kept burning with the fiery passion of a thousand suns.)

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I lost around 30 pounds that first year, then lost and gained the same 15 or so over and over and over and over again, depending on my state of mind. Last year, I found my preferred way of eating and (effortlessly! it’s magic!) lost 35 pounds over the course of three months before becoming pregnant, and now I’m working on the last 30 or so that it will take for me to reach a truly healthy weight. Just last week I reached the “normal” BMI range for the first time. I know everyone loves to hate BMI, but I don’t have enough muscle mass to skew the results, so I’m going to take this as a huge win.

A big difference today is that it’s truly health-motivated for me. Like a lot of women in our society, I’ve always had a strained relationship with my body and my appearance, but something about having kids has made me put much less weight (heh) on my looks. (I like to think that I’ve matured, but maybe I’m just too chronically sleep-deprived to give any f*cks.) I won’t lie, it’s fun to look at photos and see a big difference, or to be able to use the baby carrier after JK has worn it without having to loosen the waist belt (woot!), but it’s way more rewarding to be able to hike briskly uphill without getting out of breath and to finally see my cholesterol fall into the normal range.