Growing up, Fall was not my favorite season. Fall meant back to school; which meant the end of summer. I waited all year long for summer, because I grew up in northeast Pennsylvania and despised winter. There was nothing about winter I liked except for Christmas. Changing leaves meant that down jackets and boots were being pulled out from storage, blue skies were turning grey, and scraping ice off windshields would be our daily cardio.
My mom would make apple crisp growing up, not to be confused with apple crumble. I never knew there WAS a difference between crisp and crumble, until I tried a crumble made by my friend Lauren. She told me she used Betty Crocker’s Southern Apple Crumble recipe. And I’ve never been the same since.
I suddenly realized why apple crisps had never “done it” for me. There was never enough topping. The ratio was usually 3/4 filling to 1/4 topping. For a sweets lover like me, I’m not so much interested in the apple filling as I am that golden, crunchy topping.
When I made this crumble for the first time, I couldn’t believe how much butter and sugar there was; I should have known! That’s what makes anything taste good, right? 😉 I knew I could cut back a little on the sugar, since there’s a whole bag of cookie mix on top! This recipe is definitely not healthy in any way. But, it’s also the best I’ve ever had. 🙂
These Granny Smith apples are actually from our front yard! There was already a mature apple tree when we moved in, and every season I look forward to baking and sharing our bounty with neighbors and friends.
Oatmeal Cookie Apple Crumble
For the filling
4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped (You want to use granny smith because they are tart and will help balance out the sugars.)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (note: I’ve never tried to substitute any “healthier” sugars like coconut sugar.)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter cut into small pieces
For the topping
1 pouch *Betty Crocker Oatmeal Cookie Mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Peel and chop apples.
Heat oven to 325. Spray bottom of 2 1/2 quart dish with cooking spray. I like to use my Corningware dish.
In large bowl, toss the apple, white and brown sugars, cinnamon, and butter. Spread into baking dish.
In same large bowl, stir cookie mix and melted butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over filling.
Bake for 45-50 minutes until the filling starts to bubble golden brown like the photo above.
If adding pecans, remove from oven about 10 minutes before cooking is complete and sprinkle on top. Then, resume cooking.
Serve warm ‘a la mode’ or with a dollop of whipped cream. Bake for any ‘anti-apple piers’ who are known to pass on apple desserts; watch them take a bite and nod with satisfaction. 😉
*This has sometimes been hard for me to find in my grocery store. It’s not very popular and I don’t see it on the shelves often. So, a hack I’ve learned is to buy the Betty Crocker Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookie mix, and sift out the chocolate chips. A little tedious, but works.
As I watched my daughter toddle down the sidewalk, I thought, “her shadow will not always be this small.”
Then, it hit me. Neverland.
Peter Pan, the boy who did not want to grow up. Peter Pan’s youthfulness would not be, without proof of his shadow. He ran away to Neverland, so he would never have to see the reflection of the man he had become.
I wonder when my own reflection changed. Maybe it never has. Maybe our shadows stay forever young, like Peter Pan. All we have to do is unlock the drawer; and step into the light.
It is ironic that as I write this, my daughter is crawling on me and my son is driving a car on my foot.
There are many pictures I could post from the past two weeks that have depicted “rest”. I have been able to “rest” an extraordinary amount. My little sister who lives on the east coast, came to visit us in California. I had not seen her since September of last year. She had plans to fly out in March, but then, you know, a global pandemic happened. March turned to May; surely this would be over by May, we all naively thought. May turned to June. The changing news and other family members’ varying opinions made it difficult to settle on a date. Finally, she booked a flight for the end of July. Ten months, the longest I’ve gone without seeing my sister.
It had been 132 days since the start of quarantine when she arrived. 132 days of unrest. 132 days of roller coaster emotions, ‘doom and gloom’ news, political/social justice protests, and presumptive fear. 2020 has been anything but restful.
When I stop to think about the quality of my life, the definition of rest for me goes deeper than just “taking a day off from work” or “sleeping in”. Rest to me is being surrounded by people who are life giving, who fill my cup. As opposed to people (or things) that consume my time and cause me stress and unrest.
There was a funny meme circulating how the absence of community during quarantine caused people to “miss those they didn’t even like”. I have always opted for fewer, more meaningful friendships as opposed to casting a wider net. For me, these past 132 days have further solidified and deepened friendships with those that I knew were my “number ones” pre-Pandemic.
While my sister was visiting, we took a trip to Lake Tahoe, one of our favorite places. We packed our SUV tight; four adults, two kids, and a storage turtle-full on top. My sister and her girlfriend joining us was every mother’s dream. It felt like having two full time nannies with us, who never went off the clock. Part of me is ashamed to admit that they did more for my kids on that trip than I did. My sister sat between my three year old and one year old the whole ride there and back – eight hours total. Due to the bedroom structure, I put my one year old’s pack n play in my sister’s room and she woke up with her every morning at 6:00 am. She cooked for us, changed diapers, wiped my toddler’s butt, applied sunscreen, packed beach bags and lunches, meal-prepped, took my daughter for a hike when she couldn’t nap, took my son on his first kayak ride, and babysat so my husband and I could go to dinner.
What did I do?
I laid on a beach towel and read a book. In the middle of the day, 210 miles from home, surrounded by strangers, socially distanced of course (#2020). Rest, in that immediate moment, was an hour’s worth of reading by the lake. However, in the broader sense, rest was the accumulated time spent with someone who added to my quality of life.
As moms, we are constantly in “survival mode”; then you add a global pandemic, and we are suddenly actually trying to survive in an alternate universe with no childcare, no school, no playgrounds and no play dates. As Leeana Tankersley wrote in Always We Begin Again:
“At some point, we need to exit survival mode – even if it’s for an hour or two a week- and learn how to practice the kind of rest that brings us back to the moment instead of taking us out to sea.”
My daily rest will not look like me reading a book solo on a beach. But, it can look like me writing this blog post at nap time, or listening to a podcast (Coffee + Crumbs) while preparing dinner. Taking little breaks in the day, asking myself what my body needs, or what fulfills my soul.
I’m so grateful for the time my sister spent with us and the many ‘breaks’ I had with her around. The day after she left, I was reminded how lonely motherhood is. How we can feel like we’re drifting out to sea.
We need rest and we need each other, to bring us back to the shore.
This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in this series “Rest — A Photo Essay”.
We were four days away from the first day of spring, and it was our last Saturday morning as a family of three. My sister Lizzy and her girlfriend Katie were coming into town that night, and we had planned one last family outing to Vasona Lake Park in Los Gatos. The sun was shining, and birds were chirping, and I could feel a shift in the seasons…and not just the vernal equinox.
I knew we were approaching a shift in our season of life. After 2+ years of being parents, we had finally gotten to a place of comfort. We had our routine, our son was happy and healthy, we were all getting sleep, and despite all the demands of life, we still felt like we had enough to give to each other at the end of the day.
I was 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant. At my doctor appointment that past Monday, I had asked my OB about processes to help start labor. I hadn’t gained as much weight as I did with Gio, but physically, I was done. I had it in my head that this baby was going to come at least a week early, and now that we were getting closer to that “deadline”, I was getting anxious. Gio had been two days early, so surely this girl would come early. My OB told me that she would make an appointment for the following Monday (39 weeks), and if I wanted, I could get my membranes striped in hopes of starting labor. Although I was ready to be done being pregnant, I didn’t feel comfortable resorting to this solution yet. She told me to try some other natural labor inducers first, like sex.
With this in mind, Kendrick and I devised a plan for “Operation: Get Baby Out”. My sister and her girlfriend were scheduled to land at SFO around 9:00 pm Saturday night. We got home from our morning at the park around 2:00 pm. Gio had fallen asleep and so we took advantage of the quiet time to “nap”.
I’m not sure if it was coincidence or the right timing, but less than four hours later, I started having mild contractions. Kendrick had taken Gio out for a walk, and I was sitting on the couch reading my kindle. I had mild cramping pains, and jokingly said to Kendrick, “I think I’m having contractions”, but didn’t really think it was anything to worry about. Kendrick however was convinced that I may not make it through the night. “what’s your sister up to?” he asked. He was referring to my sister Alishia who lives locally in Palo Alto. He said I should start making a plan in case we had to go to the hospital before my other sister Lizzy landed. “There’s no way we’ll need to go to the hospital before then,” I stated surely.
I looked at the clock and figured I should start timing my contractions, just to be safe. I also realized how hungry I was; it was after 6:00 pm and if we DID have to go to the hospital, this could be my last meal. I felt hungry, but as I was eating, I also felt a wave of nausea. That’s weird, I thought. After dinner I went back to laying on the couch, trying to ignore the contractions that were happening. Kendrick went off to give Gio a bath, and I retreated to take a shower and see if that made me feel better. The contractions were definitely getting stronger and closer together. I had one right before getting in the shower, and then another one in the shower. When I got out, I looked at the time and saw that only 8 minutes had passed. That meant my contractions were probably about 5 minutes apart now.
That’s when I started to feel something that was familiar to me. An uncontrollable trickle running down my leg; which only meant one thing..that my water was breaking. This is when i started to panic and reality set in. It was 8:20 pm…my sister still had 40 minutes until she landed, but I knew we weren’t going to be there to pick her up. I can’t remember if I dialed the hospital first, or my friend Sona, but knowing that we couldn’t leave Gio alone I think I called Sona first to see if she could come wait at our house until my sister arrived. All the while, Kendrick was still putting Gio to bed and didn’t have a clue what was going on.
Sona said she was able to come over (thank you, Sona!!); I hung up and then called the hospital to let them know what had happened and that we would be on our way shortly. I gathered the bags we had packed, and made sure I had everything I needed. I went out to the living room and saw that Kendrick was finally leaving Gio’s room. “My water broke, we need to go the hospital,” I whispered. “What??!” he responded quickly. “My water broke about 10 minutes ago. Sona’s on her way over.”
As Kendrick put our bags in the car, he asked what hospital I wanted to go to. Since moving to Sunnyvale last May, Kaiser Santa Clara was closer to us, about 8 minutes away. However, I had given birth to Gio at the Kaiser hospital in Redwood City, and had planned to do the same with Sofia. My OB told me that Redwood City has a team of midwives that help deliver; (the midwife that delivered Gio was a total rock star), and Santa Clara is a teaching hospital so there would be a resident doctor who would deliver. Personally, I just felt more comfortable with having a midwife, so we opted to drive a little further to deliver at Redwood City.
On the way to the hospital we called my mom and told her we were going to have a baby! We checked in around 9:00 pm, and I was surprised how quiet it was on the floor. I wasn’t in a lot of pain yet, but my contractions were still happening, so I was anxious to find out how dilated I was. The nurses seemed to be moving slowly, and not too worried about me. I guess because I wasn’t crying out in pain, haha. I changed into the hospital gown, and sat on the bed to get hooked up to the IV. I had tested positive for strep B while pregnant (same as with Gio), so they had to start me on penicillin. The midwife came in and introduced herself, and when I asked if she could check me, she said she wanted to wait.
I continued laboring for the next couple hours as the pain grew increasingly worse. I was hesitant to get an epidural because of my experience the first time, but I also knew I needed some relief. In the meantime, I had a really strong contraction, and felt very nauseous after and told Kendrick, “I think I’m going to throw up.” There were no nurses around and Kendrick was trying to find a bin but it was too late…I started throwing up and he immediately came by my side, and caught it in his hands. That’s true love right there.
As I had my head hanging over the bed, my nurse came in with another nurse who was going to be taking over for her (this was around 11:00 pm). They started chatting and were completely unaware that Kendrick had his hands full of barf. “This is completely normal,” she said. “Looks like you’re in transition.” Well, that didn’t make me feel any better; all I wanted was for someone to wipe my face and bring me a cool compress for my head.
“Do you want to get the epidural?”, a nurse asked me. I was still hesitant, so she asked if I wanted an anti-nausea medication instead. Even though I was in lots of pain, and had just thrown up, I was trying to push through. “No,” I replied, “but can someone check me?” She said she would get the midwife to come back in. Before making my decision to get the epidural, I wanted to be checked so I could have an idea of how much longer until “go time”. She said I was 4 cm dilated, and upon hearing that I felt disappointed. Only a 4? I thought. It could still be a while until I had to push this baby out, so I should probably get the epidural. It was around midnight, and the nurse told me the anesthesiologist was on the floor, so it would be convenient to request the epidural now.
I got the epidural sometime between 12:30 and 1 am, and after it set in, I was immediately relieved. The intense pain finally stopped and I suddenly felt so exhausted. The nurse dimmed the lights, and Kendrick and I took a nap. I woke up around 2:30 am, not to the feeling of pain, but just lots of pressure “down there”. I waited a bit before saying something to Kendrick. “Babe…” I whispered gently. “What?” he responded groggily. “I’m feeling lots of pressure down there. I think I have the urge to push…”
I pressed my call button for the nurse. I told her I was feeling pressure down there, and she said, “well, you can always push your epidural button for another dose if you’re feeling pain.” “I’m not feeling pain,” I responded, “just lots of pressure.” She checked me, and said I was 7 cm dilated. She left the room and Kendrick said, “let’s go back to sleep for a little bit.” It was 3:00 am, and the pressure wasn’t going away. I was certain that what I was feeling was the urge to push. I called the nurse back in, told her, “I have the urge to push.” That’s when she said okay, let’s get the room ready.
I was confused that I was suddenly going from being 7 cm, to getting ready to push out a baby. The nurses got the tools ready, and put my legs up on the stirrups. The midwife sat down between my legs, wearing shamrock earrings. I couldn’t believe I was about to give birth to our little girl on St. Patrick’s Day! Kendrick texted my mom at 3:24 am saying “time to push”.
Four (or five) pushes later, at 3:32 am on March 17, 2019, Sofia Alessandra entered the world. They immediately placed her on my chest, but were worried that she wasn’t crying enough right away. All I remember were the nurses saying, “we need her to cry more”. She ended up being OK…but the strange thing was my placenta hadn’t come out yet. With Gio, I didn’t even feel it come out; but this time, I had to push it out. I forget if they let me leave her on my chest to push; I think they took her away to weigh her and told me I had up to 30 minutes after delivery to push it out and if it didn’t happen, they would have to call in a doctor. After almost 30 minutes passed, the doctor arrived to help but of course the minute she entered the room it came out, HA.
They gave Sofia back to me to nurse and just like her brother, she had no problem latching on. She started nursing at 4:20 am and nursed for 40 minutes.
Here we are, 10 weeks later and I can’t picture life without her. She is definitely a mama’s girl, and still loves to sleep on my chest just like that first day. I’m so glad I typed out this story when it was fresh in my mind, because my memory is definitely not as vivid as the first time.
Since everything happened so quickly, I didn’t get to take one last belly photo…so this selfie from that afternoon will have to do. ;-P
Here are a few photos taken 6 weeks later by Suzy Coleman Photography. Thank you Suzy!
My dearest Sofia, I love you so much precious girl! You are currently sleeping in my arms and I hope to one day share this story with you; maybe even when you are pregnant with your own little girl 🙂 when my mom was staying with us after Sofia’s birth I asked her about her own three birth stories; it’s so fascinating to me that each one is different and also that my mom never got an epidural! (you go, Mom!) Anyway, if she’s anything like me, I know she’ll appreciate hearing the story of her birth.
Psalm 139:13 : For You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
It’s a Wednesday morning, I’m sitting in Starbucks, and I am writing. Funny how free time now seems like such a luxury! Kendrick took Gio to his gym class this morning, and I have a hot cinnamon shortbread latte next to me.
I can’t believe in less than 8 weeks we’re going to welcome a new member to our family. I know it’s been a while since I posted, so let me back up and start at the beginning.
2018 was a year of growth for our family, in more ways than one. In May, we moved into our first house. It still feels crazy saying that. Then, two months later, we found out I was pregnant. It was a strange feeling of excitement, but also partial annoyance that just when things started to feel “settled” and like we had this whole parenting thing down, our world would be turned upside down again. Gio was 19 months old and in that “bliss” stage. Plenty of other parents had warned us that when he turned 18 months, our ‘itch’ for another baby would come on. I didn’t personally feel that…instead I thought, “things are great right now! I don’t want to mess that up.”
Alas, God always laughs when we make our own plans. Sitting here now over 7 months in, I realize that I am ready for this. I’m ready for the sleepless nights again. I’m ready for the newborn cuddles. I’m ready for Gio to become a big brother. 🙂
How we found out I was pregnant
This pregnancy started off with me eating pickles out of a jar. True story. Before I even knew I was pregnant, Kendrick found me in the kitchen eating a pickle. I remember him giving me that sideways glance and asking, “are you pregnant?”
I laughed out loud exclaiming, “NO!” He smirked a bit and said, “OK; but I’ve never seen you eat pickles from a jar.”
He walked out of the room and I pulled up my PMS tracker app on my phone. On the app, it will show little red dots on the days when your period is expected. Those little red dots were filled in for the week before… which meant, I was a week late. I scratched my head, truly confused about how this happened. Wellll, I know how it happened, but it still didn’t totally make sense to me. At that moment, I was puzzled, but honestly not that worried. It had only been a couple months since I had stopped breastfeeding Gio, and I figured maybe my cycle was off.
I closed the app and tried not to worry about it. I’ll wait a few more days I told myself, then if it has not come, I’ll take a test.
Fast forward to three days later, and I’m waiting in line at a small grocery store with a sandwich and pregnancy test in my basket. Kendrick knew that I was buying a test, and we agreed that I would wait until he got home that afternoon to take it. This had been the initial plan with Gio, but I had been too excited to wait for Kendrick and took it on my own before he got home.
This time, I went into the bathroom alone, peed on the stick, and set it on the counter and closed the door. I walked out to the living room where Kendrick and Gio were sitting. I gave him a nervous smile, still not exactly sure what I wanted the result to be. In two minutes, our world would (possibly) change. Part of me wanted to delay that reality as long as I could, because at this point I was fairly certain I was pregnant.
Well, you can guess what happened next. We all walked back to the bathroom, including Gio, and opened the door to our fate. It was positive! We were now a growing family of four.
The rest of my first trimester wasn’t too different from my pregnancy with Gio. I didn’t get the dreaded morning sickness, which I was SO thankful for; but Kendrick noticed that I seemed more emotional and hormonal this time. (his words, not mine….haha)
The rest of the summer passed quickly…my mom came out to help in August, so that Kendrick could go to Brazil and celebrate his grandma’s 100th birthday. We had a wedding at the end of September, which my mom came back for and we spent a couple nights alone up in wine country.
Then it was October and Fall was upon us. We both decided we wanted to find out the sex of the baby again, and scheduled it for Halloween day. I also knew I wanted to plan a trip with just the three of us before baby number two came. I had been to San Diego with my family when I was nine years old; that was actually the first time I came to California and I hadn’t been back since. As I was researching hotels, I remembered the name of the resort I stayed at with my family. I looked it up to see if it was still around, and it was! It’s called Paradise Point Resort and located in Mission Bay; close to the airport, and close to lots of touristy spots like the San Diego Zoo. I won’t go into details, mainly because I don’t have time, but we loved our experience there. The resort has everything you need, and the rooms are super spacious, modern, and comfortable. We bought the most basic room with a King size bed, but had a huge bathroom, a sitting area with a couch, and a round table, a large walk-in closet, and a private back patio with a couple adirondack chairs.
I am so, so glad we took that vacation together. It was truly memorable in so many ways and such a special time that I will forever look back on. It was actually on that trip that I first felt the baby kick; AND I had a dream that baby was a girl. The night after I had the dream, we were watching the sunset on the beach, and as the sky turned pink, I thought, “yup, it’s a girl.” ❤
A few days after we got home from San Diego, it was finally time to find out the gender of baby #2! Kendrick was certain it was a girl, and I was pretty sure as well but still had doubts.
We took Gio to our ultrasound appointment with us, and Kendrick and I both wore pink for our prediction of the gender. We were right!
We revealed the news at our friends house later with a combined Halloween/Gender Reveal party. I popped a black balloon which had pink powder inside. Here’s a picture of us before sharing the news! (If you’re wondering what my costume was, I was the “Lady in the Yellow Dress”, a play on the “Man in the Yellow Hat” from Curious George. Gio was Curious George (aka a monkey) but wasn’t wearing his costume yet.
This has turned into a very long post, I’m sorry!! That’s what happens when I forget to document almost my whole second pregnancy. I’ll leave off with these few pictures we took in early November when I was 21 weeks along. A mom friend of mine, Suzy, (of Suzy Coleman Photography) took some family photos for us and also managed to sneak in a few shots of just me and baby girl 😉
Two days ago we celebrated our four year wedding anniversary, and I couldn’t let the day pass without writing a quick few words about how extra special our celebration is this year. If you would have asked me on our wedding day, if we would have a child four years later, I would have said the likelihood was 99%. If you would have asked me if we would be homeowners here in the Bay Area; I would have said, “you’re crazy!!” and that there was a <1% chance of that happening.
Well, here we are four years later, with our son Gio, who’s almost 18 months; and we just bought our first home. (cue: surprised emoji)
99% of me is really excited for this next step. I can’t wait to share this home with our family and friends, and finally be able to host our parents comfortably…without them sleeping on a couch or blow up mattress.
I can’t wait to host holidays. The most important piece of furniture to me was buying a dining room table that could extend to fit our whole family.
I also can’t wait to watch Gio grow up in this house. He is going to have so much fun exploring the yard and playing in the play house…and helping me pick our produce (or maybe just eating it, haha). The previous homeowners left artichoke bushes, apple trees, blueberry bushes, avocado trees, and some other kind of fruit tree in the yard! It truly feels like the quintessential California home.
Moving somewhere new means leaving the street we’ve called “home” for almost 5 years. Previous to living in our current apartment, we lived right down the street in a one bedroom, until I found out I was pregnant. You can read about that move here.
This block has been my comfort zone for the past 5 years. I walked this neighborhood many, many times ….from nightly walks with Kendrick, to daytime runs, to slow waddles when I was pregnant, to our first family walk postpartum, to numerous stroller walks/naps when Gio was a couple months old, to wagon rides after he turned one, to walking with him beside me now…. how things have CHANGED.
Oh how I’ve loved this neighborhood; it will always be where Gio first grew up. We’ve made so many good friends, and although we won’t be moving far, it still is sad we won’t be within walking distance anymore.
Tonight will be our last night in our apartment…and I’m feeling all the FEELS. I remember when we first moved here two years ago, and how strange that first night felt. I told Kendrick, “what are we doing?? Let’s move back!” And he said, “You know we can’t do that. We have to move forward now.”
Words of wisdom from my husband that speak so much truth about life. We must continue moving forward. Growth happens when we pass through the uncomfortable. It’s temporary. It doesn’t last forever. And I’ve found some of the best things in life came from me making a decision to be uncomfortable.
SO, here’s to NEW beginnings. TO moving forward. And to having a place called HOME.
Wow it’s been a while since I’ve sat down to write a blog post. I’m feeling a little rusty to be honest! While writing has always been a passion of mine, it’s definitely fallen on my priority list since becoming a mom. However, whenever I do make time to write it feels so good! Especially if I know that what I’m writing about can benefit someone else out there.
As you may know, or not know, my husband and I are owners of a fitness studio, called Studio K-Fit here in Redwood City, California. In addition to personal training, we offer our signature small group workout called K-FIT HIIT; a high-intensity cardio class. Participants have the choice of doing a 30 minutes or 60 minutes option (K-FIT HIIT 30 & 60) We’re the only studio in the Bay Area that offers a low impact, high-intensity cardio class utilizing both the Water Rower and the Airdyne Bike. What I love about these classes, bias aside, is they can be modified for practically anyone at any fitness level. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of running. Professionally, I’m still not a huge fan because of all the strain it puts on your joints. After I became pregnant, it gave me a good excuse to stop running, but I didn’t want to lose my cardio stamina either. The Water Rower and Airdyne Bike were the perfect equipment for me; and with some modifications during the core segment, I was able to continue working out up until my son was born.
Once I was cleared by my doctor postpartum, I jumped back into K-FIT HIIT classes. Working out during those early months didn’t pose a problem, because I could just bring my son along with me (perks of being a Studio owner) and he would sleep during it. As he got older, and he started staying awake longer, I was presented with a new set of challenges. My once easy going baby no longer could sit through a class without needing something from me. Plus, our Studio is not designed to be “baby friendly”. Although we are the owners (and can essentially do what we want), I didn’t want to be inconsiderate to our clients who come to the studio to escape the craziness of their lives. Many of them are parents themselves, so they’ve dealt with their fair share of child meltdowns. There’s a time and place for everything… but I quickly realized I had to find an alternative to bringing Gio to the Studio.
I heard about Fit4Mom through a non-parent friend who had another parent friend with a baby born two weeks after Gio. She told me that their Stroller Strides class was held down the street from her house and that I should check it out.
My first Stroller Strides class I attended, my son was about 3 1/2 months old; and it felt like an accomplishment just getting out of the house on time! The class begins with a warmup together, introducing ourselves and our babies, and sharing a fun fact about ourselves. Then, the group splits off into two smaller groups…those who are walkers, and those who are runners. I chose to walk and followed the other mamas to another location in the park where we would complete a strength set. The only equipment we use during class are resistance bands and yoga mats. The instructors do a really great job of utilizing park benches, sidewalks, fences, basketball courts, walls, and fountains to perform our exercises. For example…doing step-ups on a park bench, or pushups off a sidewalk curb. It’s all about being creative.
We usually complete four or five strength stations around the park, and work our cardio in by walking or running to each station. All the while, the babies are getting the royal treatment. Not only do instructors lead the mamas, they also entertain the kids! At each station, instructors will either sing nursery songs for the babies, read a book aloud, or when babies get fussy and cry, they’ll rock/push the stroller back and forth so the mom can finish her exercises. It’s a full on show!
At the end of class, we’ll circle up and lay out our yoga mats to do a few core exercises and stretch. Kids are required to stay in the strollers for the duration of the class for their own safety and for the safety of others. However, sometimes if kids are getting fussy at the end, instructors will let them come out during stretch time, with the caveat that the quality of the mom’s stretching will be affected. It’s cute to see toddlers try to imitate their mamas; they just want to get in on the workout too! 🙂
In addition to the workout, there’s scheduled activities for the kids after class each week. Some of these things include arts and crafts; like making a sensory bag, finger painting, or making play dough. Other activities include story time at the library, meeting at a coffee shop, or a trip to the playground. This is what makes Fit4Mom truly unique and special in my eyes. They go beyond building a fitness empire, to building a strong community of moms. Their slogan, “strength in motherhood” couldn’t be a more perfect description of the values and ethos which they embody.
*It should also be noted that this group is totally breastfeeding friendly! As a new mom, I was nervous to go out places when I knew my plans would overlap with when I had to feed Gio. That’s what I love about this community, they just get us! They know that we have other priorities and that being a mama always comes first!
Honestly, there was a period of a few months when Gio and I couldn’t make it to class, because he was taking his morning nap at 9:30am. Some moms may not find that an issue, but for me personally, I knew that I would be stressed out if I didn’t let him nap, so that was a sacrifice I had to make.
Overall, I can not recommend Fit4MOM enough. I’ve met so many wonderful moms through class, and Gio’s met lots of new friends! It’s something we look forward to each week, and Gio really enjoys watching me exercise. He’s been known to even laugh when I’m doing pushups, burpees, or jumping jacks. I still have yet to figure out if he’s laughing with me, or at me….HA.
If you live in the Bay area – Fit4Mom has locations on the Peninsula, San Mateo, Fremont, and Danville. Gio and I personally attend class at Burgess Park on Mondays and Wednesdays, and at Burton Park on Fridays. If you attend one of those classes, come say hi! We’d love to meet you.
As I write this, I remember at this time last year, I was in the hospital waiting for my contractions to start. I was admitted to the hospital on December 5, because my water broke at home, but Gio wasn’t born until 7:45 pm on December 6. You can read more about Gio’s birth story here.
I intentionally planned to celebrate Gio’s birthday early because we chose to have him dedicated at our church the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Both of our parents were planning to be in town, so I thought why not lump the celebrations together and do one, BIG joint celebration!
Donuts have always had a loving place in both my husband and I’s heart. After moving to the west coast, it became a silly obsession of ours to always get Dunkin Donuts when we traveled back east (they don’t have any where we live!). Especially when my sister and brother in law were living in Boston, there was practically a Dunkin Donuts every corner! Kendrick and I are able to buy the French vanilla coffee (our favorite) at our local grocery store, but as for donuts, we had to drive to Half Moon Bay (40+ minutes away) to satisfy our craving.
That is until we discovered an amazing donut shop within walking distance from our house (dangerous!) called Donut Delite. I feel like I’m cheating on DD by saying this, but their glaze donuts are seriously heavenly. (And better than DD in my humble opinion). SO, all that to say, when I came across the donut 1st birthday theme on Pinterest, I knew I had found a winner.
A lot of my inspiration came from a fellow blogger who executed the same birthday party theme for her son earlier this year. Unlike many other donut party pictures I saw, where there was a lot of pink, purple, inflatable donuts, and other brightly colored tableware and decor; the way Julie did it was simple, not overdone, age appropriate, with just the right pop of color. Take a look at her party here.
The donut printables and favor tags were available for FREE on Julie’s site. She had also linked to the donut balloons on Amazon, and other party decor she used.
I ended up making a lot of the decor myself, since I had the time and wanted to save money. I bought a 1 inch round paper punch, and punched out confetti for the tables, and also used it to punch holes in the paper donuts I made. I made Gio’s “ONE” banner for his highchair, and bought the white tassel banner at Target. I’ll link to all the decor throughout this post.
It was a lot of work pulling everything together, and I couldn’t have done it without my amazing family – my mother and sister in law have impeccable taste and stellar decorating skills, so they really helped pull my vision together. My mom and sister did a lot of the work behind the scenes with all the food prep and plating, and clean up after the event. It takes a village, right??
We served fruit skewers with strawberries, pineapple, and donut holes on the ends. OF course I had to serve bagels too since they went with the “donut shaped” food theme. And the beloved glaze donuts.
I also made homemade “donuts” that were egg-free since I have a friend with an egg allergy. Also, I knew not everyone likes donuts so I wanted there to be something for everyone.
I bought Pumpkin Bread mix from Trader Joe’s, and subbed flax seed for the egg, and baked them in my donut pan. I rolled them in cinnamon sugar after they cooled and they were the perfect treat! I also made banana bread “donuts” and just followed a banana bread recipe and baked them in the donut pan, and topped with powdered sugar.
Popping in to say thank you to my friend and fellow blogger Alli, of Finding Plan A, for nominating me for the Liebster Award. I haven’t been very consistent with my blog since Gio was born, so I feel honored to get this little shout out.
What’s the Liebster Award?
Originating in Germany in 2011, the Liebster Award 2017 is an online award that is given to bloggers by other bloggers. Liebster translates to sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. The Liebster Award recognizes new and upcoming bloggers that have the potential to grow and become successful influencers within the blogosphere.
All nominees are asked to share ten facts about themselves, as well as the answers to a few interview questions; so I’m sharing the quirky, slightly embarrassing things that have never before been shared on the internet. Here goes.
10 Facts About Me:
I am a former competitive gymnast.
I had an obsession with dolphins in middle school and came home from camp one summer to find that my dad repainted my room to look like an ocean complete with sponge painting ( for the coral) and dolphin wall paper.
My first concert was *NSYNC in fifth grade.
My first CD I ever bought (correction: my parents bought) was Savage Garden.
I was homeschooled from Kindergarten to second grade.
My first bone I ever broke was my (left?) thumb but I didn’t realize it until it was all bruised and blue and purple. I was a gymnast at the time and they still made me do exercises with one hand.
My favorite singer is Michael Buble; I wrote in my high school yearbook that I would marry him.
My guilty pleasure is anything peanut butter and chocolate (random food fact: I used to eat dry cake mix out of the box in high school – SO weird I know, WHY??!)
My first “boyfriend” was a boy I met my first summer at sleep away camp; he lived in Virginia and we sent love letters (okay more like pen pal letters) to each other for the rest of the summer until school started and he forgot about me.
My fantasy is to spend Christmas in a small town in Vermont to live my own version of a Hallmark holiday movie…complete with a white Christmas 🙂
1. What is one place you haven’t been that is on the top of your bucket list?
Italy! I would love to start at the top of the country and travel down south and visit Naples and the surrounding towns, because that’s where my family is from. We named our son Giovanni, to honor our Italian heritage, so I would love for him to see the history behind his name.
2. What is the most daring experience you’ve ever had? (For example: sky diving)
In the summer of 2013, I visited Martha’s Vineyard because my brother in law’s family has a house there. We rode in a boat out to this bridge called the “Jaws bridge”, appropriately named because it was the setting of the fictitious Amity Island in the 1975 movie JAWS. (Note: I have never seen JAWS). Apparently jumping off the bridge is a “thing”, and since I’m not really afraid of heights it didn’t seem too scary to me.
Cut to me climbing up the bridge rail, 20 feet above the water and staring down at all the huge jellyfish floating below. JELLYFISH!!?? No one mentioned THIS! Kendrick was also standing beside me and having a slight panic attack. He forgot to mention to me until this very moment that he was afraid of heights. We debated climbing off and going back to the boat. But, we couldn’t back away now. So, we decided to strategically time our jumps in between the waves of jellyfish. As soon as I hit the water, I jumped on Kendrick’s back and yelled, “Hurry up, swim to the boat!” But he said he couldn’t swim too fast because we would catch up to the jellyfish in front of us. We ended up making it back to the boat without getting stung, but I didn’t swim in the water again the rest of the trip.
3. What is your biggest accomplishment?
Becoming a mom 🙂
4. What’s your biggest fear?
Spiders and snakes – and being trapped in a small space.
5. What’s a hidden talent you have?
I can walk on my hands. (thanks gymnastics!)
6. What’s an activity, craft, or sport that you want to learn how to do?
In high school I wanted to learn how to play guitar, and actually did try to learn, but I have concluded that I don’t have long enough fingers. I secretly always wanted to learn how to act, but the idea equally terrifies me.
It is 7:22 am on a Tuesday morning, and Gio is taking his first nap; he was up at 4:30 am.
So, since I’m already one pumpkin muffin + 1 cup of pumpkin spice coffee in, I figured I’d do some writing 🙂
I’ve been wanting to share some of my favorite books and podcasts lately, because they have been so encouraging to me, especially in this season of motherhood. What I particularly love about reading books by other moms or listening to podcasts hosted by moms, is that often times I find myself saying, “ME TOO!”. That is what I love about this new community I am in, we just GET each other. All other societal divides are put aside when you meet another mom. You have a connection and bond that no other person can understand. No matter what stage of motherhood you’re in, all moms have been through whatever it is you are going through, and that to me is SO comforting.
Since becoming a mother, I have noticed that I don’t judge people as much as before. I heard someone say, (I believe it was Ashlee Gadd on the Coffee + Crumbs podcast) that “we do way less judging as a mom, because we don’t want to be judged for being a bad mom.”
That mom who lets her child eat food off the floor? …FINE.
That mom with the crying baby in the checkout line at Target…I’VE BEEN THERE.
PSA: THIS IS A JUDGMENT FREE ZONE MAMAS.
We all have to make decisions that are best for our family, for our child, for ourselves…so, how we choose to parent may look a little different. But, no matter what, we should extend the same love and grace that we would want to be given; because at the end of the day…we fed, clothed, changed, played, bathed, and kept another human being alive; and that deserves some praise!
Coffee + Crumbs– I learned about this podcast from another mom who posted a link to the show on Facebook. After listening to the first episode, I realized that all 3 moms who host the show all live in California! I felt even more of a kindred to these mamas who were living and raising kids on the west coast.
The Goal Digger Podcast– This is not particularly motherhood related, but I’ve been following Jenna for a while now, (since before I was pregnant), and she is such an inspiration. From starting her own photography business, to educating others on how to start a business, to launching her own podcast for creative girl bosses; she is such an authentic, hardworking gal. She has also been very open about her personal life and struggles, including two miscarriages in the past year. Right before I found out I was pregnant with Gio, she shared that she had a miscarriage. Although I’ve never met her, I grieved alongside her as she shared her walk down this road. I’ve been continuing to follow her journey and no matter what you are going through in your life, she is an encouragement for all of us.
My favorite episode recently is: #74 “How to Stay Creative and Tackle Your Next Project” with author Emily Freeman. I resonated with so much of what Emily said and it was actually from listening to this episode that I felt encouraged to start blogging again. (I had been on a little hiatus since April).
Of Mess and Moxie – by the hilariously funny Jen Hatmaker. I literally laugh out loud when I read her books. Now that I am a mom, I can relate to her so much more. She is just honest and real y’all (she lives in Texas, which is rather fitting for her big personality). I also recommend reading, “For the Love“.
A collection of short stories complied by the women of the Coffee + Crumbs podcast. An easy, encouraging read. I started crying 2 pages in. Lots of good reminders — I did a lot of highlighting!
Some of my favorite quotes from the book:
“Above all else, your body will become a home for your children- your lap will become a place of security, your chest a place of warmth, your arms a place of assurance. Every inch of you will be used to care for these children, and though its completely and utterly exhausting on most days, the super hero stamina is still a miracle worth noticing.”
“You are always a mother. You are not only a mother.”
“It turns out, one of the most wonderful joys of motherhood is the other mothers.”
“Other moms have messy feelings too, and it doesn’t make us monsters. It makes us human. It makes us weak. And acknowledging that makes us strong.”