Sunday, November 4, 2012

Monthly Snapshot: September 2012

Hello again!  It's time for our September update.  If you want to know what the Puffs have been up to, you're in the right place!


Incidents & Events

September was full of major events - some good, some not.  Here's a recap:

Almost ready to go.
Norah started school at Bunche at the beginning of September.  Bunche is a Montessori early education center run by Fort Wayne Community Schools.  It's one of the few public accredited Montessori schools in the country, and we're so very fortunate to have the opportunity for Norah to attend.  I applied back in February of last year, and she was lucky enough to be chosen in the lottery for admission.  So far, school has been going wonderfully for her!  The little girl across the street also got in, and they are in the same class together, which has been good for them both.  I'm hearing that they often do their work and play together at school, and they ride the school bus home together as well.  Norah also got into a classroom where Michelle's good friend Teresa Haydock is the teacher's assistant.  All around, we've gotten very lucky with everything as far as schooling goes.
Here we are!  Time to go in.
Riding the bus home for the very first time!

September held some very fun times for us!  As part of our Puff fall tradition, we went to the Bluffton Street fair to celebrate the change in season.  Each year we go, get some yummy food, and generally just hang out with Daniel's family.  Last year Norah was finally big enough to ride some of the rides!  This year we got ride tickets for her, and she got to explore some of the festivities with her cousins.

Norah and Paetyn rode virtually every ride together, but first I made them pose for a mugshot:

Uh, related much? 
Then they got to go on some rides:

Whoa, ladies, aren't you supposed to look in *front* of you while driving?

Whew!  That's better!

Who doesn't love a carousel ride?

Norah also mastered the traveling funhouse.

Meanwhile, poor Miles was all like, "Hey!  Where are my ride tickets?!?"

Seriously, people, I can handle it.  Don't underestimate me.

He did at least get to ride on the carousel with Daddy.  Bonus!
You see, people? I told you!  I'm totally rocking this carousel ride. 

Earlier that same day, Daniel and I took the kids out to pick apples.  We went to Advanced Tree Technology in New Haven, and got a bushel of juicy, delicious apples.  Mmmmmmm.....
Norah's picking apples.....
Daddy's picking apples....

Even Mommy & Miles are picking apples!
Norah and Miles spent the next week eating obscene amounts of apples, until the thrill of the pick had worn off.  Miles has an impressive bite for a little dude with only 4 teeth!  And Norah does quite well herself, eating her apples all the way down to the core.  We had way too much fun for me not to post some more photos!

Miles, rockin' the faux-hawk with his fuzzy baby hair and his giant apple.

And here's Norah, taking her apple-picking job quite seriously.  Such a tiny girl with such a lot of apples!

Put them in the bag, Daddy!
No, like this!  Let me show you!

Just about to cross the finish line....
I also had the opportunity to be super proud of my mother-in-law this past month.  Daniel's mother, Ann, walked the entire 10k Fort 4 Fitness half marathon.  Not only did she walk the entire thing, but she participated in the race as part of her church's involvement with Race For Peace, which raises money for impoverished nations - the Congo was the specific recipient of her fundraising efforts.  We're all super, super proud of her.  Go Ann!

Go Grandma Ann!

September also marked the passing of my uncle, Jim Kissinger. For those of you who didn't know, my Uncle Jim had been battling cancer. Jim was married to my Aunt Julie for 54 years - almost as long as my mom has been alive! Julie is my hippie aunt who has done random things such as lead the LLL, give me money for a breastpump while most other people were sending baby clothes, and tell me that Monsanto is evil. I like her.

Jim was my uncle who always had a story, and for those of you who know me, you would know that was something I loved about him. There was always an outrageous story about somewhere he had been, someone he had talked to, something he had done (wise, unwise, or... otherwise?)..... And as I thought it over, I realized that the reason that in my mind he has always been associated with outrageous stories is because he had lived an outrageous life - in a wonderful way. You don't get good stories sitting down, being good, following the crowd. You get a lifetime of stories by living a lifetime of stories.

I loved listening to all of the stories people told about Jim in the days following his passing.  Everyone, it seemed, had a story about something crazy or beautiful (or both!) that they had experienced with him.  No one who knew him was untouched.  Can you imagine that kind of beautiful legacy? I hope that someday, when I die, people remember that I had a lifetime of stories because I lived the kind of life that creates them. What a beautiful thing to aspire to, and what a gift from my uncle for that living example. 

If you'd like to see a short blurb about his amazing life, there is a link to his obituary here.

And now I'm going to go a little outside of that box labeled 'normal', and tell you that I was so lucky to get to be a part of the story by milksharing with Jim. Milksharing is exactly what it sounds like - a lactating mom sharing pumped breastmilk with someone else who needs it.  Most milksharing is done for babies whose moms don't have enough breastmilk, though milksharing with cancer patients isn't totally unheard of.

I remembered that I had read that breastmilk could kill cancer cells, and once Miles was born I suddenly had milk again.  So I went hunting the internet, to see what I could find. Most of what I found included documentation of breastmilk killing cancer cells in a petri dish (not exactly the same as ingested in a person with cancer), anectdotal stories of people convinced breastmilk had cured their cancer, and one decent study documenting the effects of breastmilk on cancer patients who used it to temper the side effects of chemo, such as nausea and pain.

I waffled for a few days, because I was afraid I would be labeled completely insane, but in the end I called Julie and asked if they would like any of my extra milk.  The,"So, do you think your husband might want to drink my breastmilk?" conversation is more awkward than one might think, in case you were wondering. 

They took the milk and I worked on pumping.  There were times when it was hard to pump and I didn't have a lot to give (remember that one time, when my whole house slid into hell - for, like, half of June and July?), and there were times when it was easier and I had more. But I had extra milk, which is so, so, so lucky. Not every nursing mom does, and not every nursing mom is able to pump.

I don't know if it helped at all. Julie seems to think it did. She told me that it gave them extra months, and that breastmilk smoothies helped get my uncle through. Maybe I helped to give them more time together, or maybe I helped Jim to just not feel so crappy sometimes. But I got to be part of the story, for the better, and for that I am so greatful. What are the odds that I'd happen to have a nursing baby, and extra milk, and the ability get a decent amount when I pumped?

This is the part where I tell you that if you're lactating, and you have extra milk, you need to give it to someone. So here goes.

Breastmilk is liquid gold, people. It's like a nutrition pack, first aid kit, and medicine cabinet, all bound up in your bra. I just said that.  Because I am so smooth.  And ladies, most of us are only going to be lactating for a few years, tops.  There's this tiny window of opportunity to be a part of someone's story. I've met many wonderful milksharing families over the past few years. Some families need milk for their preemies. Some need milk for their adopted babies. Some mamas work full time and just plain can't pump enough for the hours they're not with their little ones. Some families are dealing with cancer. There are a zillion reasons why someone might want or need a little (or a lot of) extra milk help. There are only a few years in which you can give it.  Pump. If you have extra, give it away. Make somebody's day less stressful, who's trying desperately to pump enough but not making it. Give somebody a cure, or an extra few months, or some moments when everything doesn't feel so bad. Do it. You can only do it for a little while, so do it now.

You get to be part of the story. Isn't that a wonderful thing? To get to know you were a part of the story? It's everything.

When Jim died, I had about 30 ounces of milk in my freezer, and suddenly had no one to give it to. My heart was really sad, because I knew exactly why I had no one to give it to. That part of that story was over. My heart is really sad about this, really often. When I need to pump now, I usually end up crying because it reminds me that this milk does not have a home, because I do not have my uncle.

My friend Sara posted on our local facebook Human Milk For Human Babies page that she needed a little milk for her baby, who is Miles' age.  Sara is a moderator for the Indiana HM4HB page, so she takes time from her week to make sure that people who need milk get set up with people who have extra. I felt like it would be fitting for her to have those extra few ounces with no home, and so her and I get to be a part of each other's stories too. 

Human Milk 4 Human Babies pages are all over facebook. Log on and search for your community to give or look for milk. Or find your local milk bank. Milk banks pasteurize breastmilk,  and I'm not a huge fan of pasteurization.... but if that works for you, do it. Or ask around. If you have extra milk, I can guarantee you, someone else can use it. You just have to find them. And if I can survive the "Do you think your husband wants my breastmilk?" conversation and still do some good, I'm certain you can make a difference too.

Do it. You won't regret it. 

The Littles

Get those moles!! 

Much of what was significant for the kids was also significant for the family, so I've covered a lot of it above.  But for a little more on each of them....

As I mentioned already, Norah started school at Bunche in September.  We've been working on helping her develop a little independence in accordance with Montessori philosphy, so we've been trying to create an environment where she can do more things herself.  For example, we've moved her silverware and dishes down to a lower cupboard so that she can get her own place setting and put away her own dishes.  We've also started asking her to help with some chores around the house, such as helping mommy fold the laundry, putting away her clothes, putting away her dishes, and being more diligent about having her clean up her own toys.

Norah, helping with the laundry.  She gets an 'A' for effort.

Norah's true BFF.  Doesn't Satine look thrilled?
Norah's made some new friends at school, which I hear her talk about often.  She's particularly started spending a lot more time with Isobel from across the street, who is in her class.  It's such a relief to me to see her doing well socially, as that's something I struggled with through school.  She's also really learned to label her feelings (I'm so mad!!), and now we're working with her on appropriate responses to those.  For example, it's ok to be mad, but it's not ok to hit your little brother because you're mad.  I think she's doing fairly well for being 3.

Some of Norah's favorite books right now are a set of Thomas the Tank Engine board books that she has (A Crack In the Track, Go Train Go, Stop Train Stop, and Blue Train, Green Train).  She gets to check out library books from school each week, so there is something new all the time!  She has checked out a few of the Clifford's Puppy Days books and seems to really like them.

Norah is also into music right now, and always asks for her favorite songs when we get into the car.  We don't listen to a lot of kids' music, aside from on Pandora, so most of what she likes are things that are popular right now.  She particularly seems to likes Train and Lady Gaga.  At home we occasionally turn on Pandora to the Toddler Radio station, and she really enjoys that as well.
For the last time, I'm telling you, "NO PAPPARAZZI!"

Miles started taking steps in September, though he never took more than a few at a time and still preferred crawling as his main mode of transportation.  He doesn't have any trouble getting around, though!  Miles is into everything and is absolutely exhausting, but very enjoyable.  Most diaper changes require me chasing an escaped baby at least twice before I get him re-dressed again, because he's so wiggly and quick.

  Nom Nom Nom.... I eats apples...

Miles can now say 'mama', though he doesn't seem to reserve the word for me at all.  He says mama and points whenever he wants something, particularly food.  He's surprisingly communicative for not being able to talk or sign.  We can almost always tell what it is that he wants or is trying to tell us.
Miles + Bacon = True Love Always

Miles is starting to get more interested in books, and particularly likes board books that have pictures of babies on them, and touch and feel books.  He also likes listening to the Pandora Toddler Radio station.

Health & Fitness

Blah, blah, blah, more produce, less grains, more CrossFit.

That's most of what I have to say.

September was something of a recovery period for us after a particularly poor-dieted August (see last month's blog post for the absolutely insane amount of crap we ate).  We've been trying to get back on track with more good foods and less crap food.  I've also been keeping up with my twice-a-week CrossFit regimen.

Toward the end of September, CrossFit Fort Wayne launched their 'I Am CrossFit' challenge - an 8 week challenge which included a dietary component, extra workout stuff, sleep requirements, and vitamin requirements (If you can't fix it with squats and fish oil, you're probably going to die......)

I checked it out and decided not to participate in the official challenge because it was a strict Paleo challenge, including the elimination of dairy.  While I felt ready to try a grain-free, sugar-free, legume-free life, I'm nowhere near ready to give up dairy.  The challenge had a cost to it, and I just couldn't justify spending that money knowing that I was going to fail the nutritional component every single day.

I decided to give it a go on my own, trying the Paleo diet with some modifications.  I'm still eating cheese, butter, and heavy cream instead of giving up dairy completely.  The I Am CrossFit challenge also calls for the complete elimination of any sweetners (natural ones, like honey, included) and alcohol.  Erm?  I'm shooting for a reduction in sweetners (only natural ones and no refined sugars, and not every day) and drinking alcohol once or twice a week.  Considering I've been nomming on a square of chocolate every night and finding vodka in my coffee most mornings, I felt like this was a good compromise, especially considering I'm giving up grains for the first time ever.

I started with my own personal challenge on Sept. 24, when CrossFit Fort Wayne started theirs, and am hoping to keep it up for the whole 8 weeks!  Wish me lots of luck!

That's about all I have for our September snapshot.  Thanks for joining me, and come back again next month for more updates on the Puffs!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Monthly Snapshot: August 2012

Why, hello again!  I'm so glad you joined me.  August was a fantastic month for the Puff family, and I'm excited to share it with you.    Be warned, this post is picture heavy!  (Seriously, like, picture obese.  That many pictures.)

If you're new to this, every month I'm trying to write up a review (complete with photos!!) of what kind of adventures we've had, what's going on with the kiddos, and ways I'm trying to improve my health.  My sister, Michelle, left Fort Wayne in February to join her new groom in Colorado, and these posts are especially aimed at her, to give her a nice snapshot of what's going on back home.

Enjoy!  And feel free to leave me a comment.  I'm always curious who's reading these things. (Stalker!!)

Incidents & Events

While August was an excellent month for us, we also got a spectacular visit from Michelle and Chris at the end of July.  It's going here because I had waaaaaaay too much stuff in my last post.  So here we are.  Michelle and Chris came to visit for Chris' brother's wedding.  We got to see them shortly at the lake, and then they also came to visit us at our house(!!)  Mom and dad came with them during the day, and we all walked down to Packard park for some play time with the kiddos.

Norah is still getting used to having an uncle Chris, and declared she didn't like him when he showed up -  but by the end of the visit they were best buds:

Follow me, Uncle Chris!

Miles had an excellent time with his aunt and uncle as well:

Oh wow, Aunt Chelle, you really don't know how this works, do you?
I was so happy to see my sis and Chris, too.  I mean, look at them!  Can you imagine them not being fun?

In the month of August we also had our traditional Puff Family Ice Cream Social.  We've done this every year since 2006, and I hope this is one tradition that never dies.  Each year we break out the ice cream makers, make homemade ice cream, come up with some yummy toppings, and invite all our friends.  This year we had homemade ice cream, my mother-in-law's homemade hot fudge sauce, Sarah's homemade salted caramel sauce, fresh whipped cream, and other assorted goodies.  Jason even made us some homemade beer.  What can I say?  It was awesome!

This summer we went on our first official 'vacation' since we've had kids.  Dan had vacation time to take, so we decided to make a few short trips to nearby attractions.  Our first trip was to the Toledo Zoo, where we found lots of kid-friendly things to do.  Unfortunately, we forgot to take our camera, so we don't have much in the way of pictures, but we got to see elephants and rhinos, the Toledo aquarium, and lots of other awesome stuff!

We then took 2 days to visit Indianapolis, where we first went to the Children's Museum.

Small oversight on my part, walking first thing into this scene with a 3 year old who gets very distraught about death and who didn't realize the dinos we were going to see wouldn't have their skin:


Fortunately, she recovered rather quickly.   There was a lot of other good stuff to see at the museum, including..... (drumroll!)...

Look momma!  A train!

I can climb!
Archaelogy activities - removable rocks!

The infamous $4 T-Rex cookie of cafeteria-land.  Not actually all that tasty.

Miles had a great time in the baby play area:

Why can't I get that other baby?!?!

Norah was a big fan of the 'water drop' station in the kids' play area:

Look Mom, they have a carousel!

After we went to the museum, we had dinner at the Spaghetti Factory, where Daniel and I visited each year until we had kids.  This year we got to bring the kids with us!

This picture makes Miles look kind of like a Gremlin.  Don't feed him after midnight.....

What Miles really looks like, eating spaghetti

We took the next day to walk the canal with the kids and stopped at Trader Joe's before heading back home.  It was so nice to get away with the whole family.

The last big event we had in August was a picnic with Dan's employer.  They rented a pavillion at Paige's Crossing and we all got ride bracelets for the day.  Norah really enjoyed getting to go on all the rides.

Go Kart rides with Daddy!

Norah called this one 'the caterpillar ride', because all the cars one after another reminded her of a caterpillar.

We also got to play in the game room, in the playground at the park, and enjoy a catered meal.


Lots of adventures in August, wouldn't you say?!

My littlest loves

Honestly?  I've not gotten around to writing this until almost mid-October.  I can't even remember what we were doing in August.  That's how life is when you have little kids.  And so I'm just going to babble aimlessly and show you cute pictures.

First off, I do vaguely remember that there was a lot of drumming.  Not that we have any drums, mind you.  But we do have a hat box filled with legos, and a couple of wooden spoons.  That's how we roll, yo.





There were also a great many sofa-cushion 'forts', and pillow piles:

Tiny engineers, they are! (said in my Yoda voice - what? 
You didn't know I had a Yoda voice?  You do now)

For being nothing but a stack of blankets and pillows, this thing gets an impessive amount of use:
My personal favorite.  This demonstrates with surprising
 accuracy just how glamourous the stay-at-home-mom life is
Norah has been gaining independence in the kitchen as of late.  She's been getting many of her own snacks, and helping with much of the cooking!  Here she is, single-handedly managing both the spaghetti and the sauce:

She also helped me bake this super yummy zucchini bread:

Must fit whole piece in mouth...

Miles has also had many fun moments:

This is one of my favorite moments from August.  Miles was unwittingly playing quite well with Satine.  He'd pick up a pipe cleaner (read: kitty toy), wave it around, throw it on the ground, and then watch in wonder as Satine would bat it back to him.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  It was adorable!






Miles also got to try some new foods in August - smoothies and spaghetti! (not together):

Hmmm, what should I do with this?

I know -spaghetti on the head!!

Rockin' the smoothie.  This is the life, I'm telling you.

 So, it looks like August was a good month for the kiddos as well - wouldn't you say?  I'm so glad I'm doing this blog.  It's given me such a gift in these monthly photos of what my kids have been up to.  *sappy happy smiley face*


Health & Fitness

August was a rough month for me, health & fitness-wise.  Between multiple birthday dinners (29, again?!  Amazing!), the ice cream social, a week of vacation eating (there was a day we had dessert at lunch and at dinner.  We're not talking about it, except to say I didn't realize there was complimentary dessert with the dinner until they brought it out), and just having white flour and sugar in my house for awhile (hey!  you can't make ice cream without sugar!  or cookies for your ice cream social without flour!)..... you get the picture.
The only thing I can say about August is that I'm not much fatter now than when it began.  Uh, yay?  But September has been pretty decent, so hopefully we can get back on track and move forward from here.
My motto for this year has been "These things take time" - and I would argue that applies to everything, including figuring out how to adjust these crazy times, like birthday meals and vacations, and such.  I've spent 30 years following the USDA carb/fat recommendations via a very flawed food pyramid - hopefully it won't take me another 30 years to unlearn all of that, but certainly this first year of trying to break the cycle won't be perfect.  So we pick up and move on.
One perk in the month of August was that I had the chance to get a free fitness assessment from Andrew at CrossFit.  From what I've gathered, he is learning to do these assessments, and so was doing them free as part of an assignment.  There were some lifestyle questions, body fat measurements, mobility/flexibility type measurements, and we also tested my one rep maxes for several of the major lifts.
I was really excited to do this, largely because I have not had a good way to measure where I've started my journey and how I am progressing.  The scale has been larely unhelpful, as I lost an entire dress size without losing a pound.  I've taken some body measurements, but this helped with some other areas that I didn't know how to measure.
I was also very excited to do some of the one rep maxes - first, because that will give me somewhere to start from in our WODS (workout of the day) and strength work.  Many times, the prescribed weight for a workout or strength work will be a % of your one rep max (1RM) - and up until now, I have not known my 1RM for very much.  As a result, I've kind of just been guessing.  This will allow me to be more accurate with knowing how much weight to use for a workout.  And, guess what!  Turns out that I can do more than what I'd guessed!  How's that for good news?
Secondly, I did have a few 1RMs from earlier, and I was curious to see if they had improved at all.  They definitely have!  From the beginning of June, when I had a deadlift 1RM of 150lbs, to the end of August, when we did this test, I increased that to 175lbs. (!!)  So it was encouraging to see the progress I've been making since I began.
I'm very hopeful that Andrew will make these fitness assessments available in the future (for pay, obviously),  so that in the next 6 months or year I can re-test and see what progress I have made.
In August, I also got the very fun news that Jason and Anna decided to join CrossFit.  So now I have a new workout buddy!  Jason is currently away on work, but I have had the opportunity to work out with Anna a few times, and I am enjoying spending time with her in this way and having the opportunity to get to know her better.

That's most of what I have to report for August.  With any luck (fingers currently crossed tightly!), I will actually finish the September update before the end of October.  This time of year (Sept - Dec) tends to get very busy for me, and I tend to get behind on everything (my reading challenges, in particular), so we'll see.  You may get a few very abridged updates, but I hope to keep up as best as I can.
See you soon!
~ Heather