Strength & Endurance…when you need it

Story time.  Yesterday my kids and I met friends at a nearby playground.   I left the stroller at home thinking we’d be back home before walking my oldest to preschool.  Instead we ended up walking further with our friends to have lunch and at that point it made sense to just walk straight to preschool instead of back to the house for the stroller first.  At this point my 3 year old AND 21 month old were tired, whiny, hot, and trading off tantrums of sitting on the sidewalk and refusing to walk.  Frankly in this heat I wanted to join them!  We made it to preschool, but for the half mile walk home my toddler was done.  Screaming, thrashing, refuse to walk but refuse to be held, done.  So I walked the half mile home, sweating in the heat, grasping onto the 26lb weight trying so desperately to jump out of my arms. 

Later it occurred to me….this is why I Crossfit.  You never know what sort of situations will arise in your daily life that require strength and endurance.  The point is to create a more fit self and to be able to handle what life throws at you.  And don’t we all want to be able to keep up with our kids?  Carrying my toddler all that way really wasn’t that hard physically, and I have Crossfit to thank.  If anything it was tough emotionally knowing that my babygirl was just overtired, hot, and miserable. Knowing that every neighbor heard us coming and going and maybe even though I was kidnapping the screaming toddler in my arms! 

Lessons learned:

1. I am stronger than I realize.

2. Never forget the stroller.

Mommy-life Crisis

Ever heard of a Mommy-life Crisis?  Apparently it is a real thing.  At least I think it is.  30 is way to young for a mid-life crisis anyways, right?  Besides, it’s not that I want to be younger, drive a fancy sports car, or go get a piercing or something.  I’m just discovering that I need more than staying at home with my kids 24/7.  I’m trying to be thankful that I can and I DO know how blessed I am to do what so many Mom’s wish they could.  On the otherside, do I want to work all the time and miss out on some of the wonderfully cute moments of childhood?  There is no easy answer.  All of the beautiful moments I post on facebook, instagram, and text to my family.  I feel like I don’t appreciate those moments enough.  I’m so lost in repeating the same words day in and day out,  ALL DAY LONG.  I’m tired.  I don’t know what to do all day. Sometimes we’ll do activities like painting, coloring, read books, etc.  But frankly I don’t want to sit and teach my toddlers letters, numbers, colors, words, spelling, and the list goes on.  I want to cuddle them on the couch while we watch fun movies, play on the playground, and talk about their loves, worries, and dreams. 

I want to do the fun stuff with my kids.  But I also want to do me stuff.  Something that feels like an accomplishment. Maybe it’s getting a job, may it’s going back to school.  Right now I don’t know what that looks like but I need to gain my identity back.  Or create a new one.  I am a Mother so in that regard my identity is forever changed. That new identity needs to include more than conversations about potty training and tantrums.  I feel like when I talk to friends, without kids or with older kids, I always turn the conversation to those topics, not realizing it until much later and feeling embarrassed about not placing more enthusiasm on their new apartment/engagement/promotion/birthday. I know getting a full-time job really means even less time for those non-Mom related things.  But boy my brain needs the non-Mommy time.  I desperately want to appreciate my children more and for that to happen I need to be around them less. 

Before you lecture me, I know what is on the other side.  Regret.  Regret for missing new discoveries, scraped knees, hugs and kisses.  I’d rather regret missing those moments because I was working towards a career, or goal, than be present for the moments but still regret not fully embracing them because I was so exhausted, unappreciative, and not fully engaged.  By being happy with myself and having my own accomplishments that fulfill me, I can be a better mother, wife, and friend.

When I first decided to be a stay-at-home I loved it and honestly had no plan for how long I would stay in the job.  The decision certainly made sense at the time. Through a deployment, cross-country move, followed by a cross-world move it’s safe to say that my roll in our family dynamic was mother, wife, and caretaker and rock. It has been a wonderful three and a half years.  But, I know my capabilities.  I can no longer provide all that my children need on a daily basis.  I think in the world of social media and pinterest, where we Mom’s can see what every other Mom is doing it’s easy to get caught up in what makes the perfect Mom.  That world is great for some.  I’m not so sure it’s great for me.  I kind of panic whenever we pull out the paint, and the kid’s playroom right now is in total disarray because I just don’t even know where to start.  My kids need more structure and socialization and that I cannot currently provide.  Well, I could, but frankly I would have nothing left in me to function as a human being.  I know my capabilities and as a Mother this is just as importat as knowing how to change a diaper.  For me, I can’t provide everything.  That is why the world has teachers. I am not one of them. 

It is time to move on to the next chapter.  I’m not sure exactly what that is yet but the first step is admitting that I can not do it all, even if other Mom’s around me, and a generation before me could.  What makes each of us successful does not have to be the same for each of us. 

So what’s next?  Ha!  I haven’t clue. I’m pretty sure I’ll soon figure it out though.

First week back at Crossfit

I spent 4 days of this week at my new crossfit home and I can’t even begin to tell you how great (& sore) I feel!  It was the grand opening week of Crossfit Liberty here in Wiesbaden, Germany so the classes have all been in the evening until they officially open in another week.  Evening hours are not my finest but I was determined to jump back in.  All it took was the first WOD and I felt like me again.  It’s funny how exercise can do that.  Considering I had a full three months of no crossfit (& nearly no exercise) I really surprised myself with a few accomplishments.  First, I was able to string together 4 double unders, more than once!  If you recall I did my very first double under just a month ago.  Double-unders have seemed so impossible for me and took seven months to finally get just one.  Next, my toes-to-bar were actually toes-to-bar. Not knees-to-elbow, not knees to chest.  How in the world I was doing these so well after such a long break I have no idea but I like it!  Maybe living on the second floor and lugging groceries and small kids up and down everyday has some positives.  The second workout was this:

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The third day was a 250m row then 21-15-9 reps of hang cleans, kettle bell swings, and burpees that resulted in this:

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That floor is not forgiving to lazy burpees!  I rounded out the week with deadlifts, lateral bar hops, and mountain climbers.

So how do I feel after my first full week back at the box?  Awesome! I feel like I just drank the koolade again.  A little disappointed by some set-backs (lighter weight for cleans) and excited about others (double-unders.)  It definitely felt great to be working up a sweat and talking to adults who I didn’t have to tell to stop licking their shoe.  You know what I wasn’t concerned with?  Stepping on the scale or the little bit of flabbiness I gained over the last three months.  Knock it down all you want but Crossfit has taught me to measure my fitness by abilities and stamina, not my weight and size.  Actually I think my favorite part of this box is no mirrors. Anywhere!

I’ll leave you with one last picture that should make you laugh. My pantless, copy-cat toddler photo bombing.

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Ah the life of a Mom with toddlers!

Fit-not

I haven’t written about fitness in a while and there are several good reasons.  I’ll spare you the long list and just say adjusting to living in a foreign country and getting my kids settled into daycare.  The lack of fitness blogging does in fact mean a lack of fitness in my life.  Some would call those excuses.  While I’m not denying they are excuses, I’m not over-stressing about it.  I’m sad that I’m missing my daily grind in the gym and anxious to get back at it but sometimes we must succumb to the changes happening in our life.  Sometimes trying to hold onto that daily grind when nearly every other part of your daily routine is different can make you crazier than if you just let it go for a short while, regoup, and start over.  What have I been doing most days?  Letting my toddlers be little.  It’s Summer.  We live in an apartment. I can’t push them out into the backyard while I clean/workout/cook dinner so we drop everything and hit the playground for a couple hours each day.

What I haven’t let go of is being healthy.  See, now that is a lifestyle change and it’s not going away.  I’ve had to adjust my diet, obviously consuming less because I’m not burning calories and fat in the gym.  That part has been a challenge because when I don’t workout I tend to crave everything bad.  I’ve had to fight really hard to grab the proper food and less of it.  A typical day of the no-workout Liz looks like this:

6ish – coffee w/stevia & almond milk
6:30 – plain greek yogurt mixed with homemade granola & a scoop of peanut butter. And more coffee
7ish – more coffee
10am – a mini bagel or a banana
10:30 – suddenly remember I can’t live on coffee and start drinking water
Between 12-1 – roast beef or turkey & cheese sandwich or leftovers with a side of fruit.
Between 2-3 either a shake (without protein powder) or bites of toddler snacks (goldfish, rice cakes, raisins, pretzels.)
6pm – some form of meat & veggies.  Roasted peppers & onions, or cauliflower & carrots are my favorites.
7-8 – Ice Cream and/or a glass of wine.

I’ve managed to stay the same weight as at my 9 month progress but I am not nearly as lean.  Fitness journey’s have ebbs and flows, right?  I am in a health eating, healthy weight, non-exercising phase.  I’m healthy right now and I do realize that but a leaner, more muscular, less flabby me is my ultimate goal.  Not to mention I judge my fitness on my abilities.  Like being able to do a pull up, run a a certain pace, lift x amount of weight, and so on.  Afterall you can be skinny and not fit or healhy.  Strong is the new skinny!  At the end of the day I’m proud of myself for all of the progress and more importantly maintaining.  Especially through a turbulent five-ish month transition from Arizona to Germany.

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So yeah…fit-not describes my daily life right now more than fit-ness.  And that’s ok.  In the next two weeks a crossfit gym with daycare opens and my oldest starts pre-school.  Routine is on the horizon people! 

Traveling with Toddlers – Nürnberg, Germany

If you are like me, when you think of traveling around Europe, the last thing you think of is traveling…with toddlers.  Tantrums, naps, and picky eaters don’t tend to make for smooth sailing.  But, here we are living in Germany smack dab in the middle of Europe with so many great and historic sites around us, many just a short drive away.  To not travel, or travel while a babysitter sits home with our young kids seems silly to us. So my husband and I made a vow to drag the kids with us on our travels.  We’ll have to manage our expectations, of course, and maybe alternate museums and playgrounds, but I’d like to think we are educating them on how to behave in a variety of scenarios, at the very least.  Our first overnight adventure was to Nürnberg,  Germany.

The trip was kind of last minute; I booked our hotel the day before we left.  I chose Hotel Keiml, a small hotel run by Frau Keiml since the 1970′s. The reviews were phenominal, although very clear that the hotel is situated between sex shops, casinos, and a night club, AND up two long flights of stairs, no elevator.  The former apartment building has a website and you can email them to book a room but of course we didn’t have time for that so I had to call.  Frau Keiml spoke just enough English to ask me questions and with my notes I could speak just enough German that she understood the answer.

Example:
Old…kids?      Drei (3) and Eins (1)
Baby bed?      Nein baby bed

She ended our conversation (no credit card exchange) with – Ok. Fine.  We’ll see you tomorrow and day after tomorrow!

I emailed my husband and said ‘I think‘ we have a hotel reservation!  The next day we hit the road for a 3 hour drive. After 2 potty breaks (in Europe you have to pay to use the Toilet, by the way) and a few circles around the parking garage we made it to the hotel.  The moment we entered the owner gushed over our kids just like any Grandma would, except we couldn’t understand her.  She grimaced her face and showed us her available room asking if it was ok because the 2 beds were small and said she would have a bigger room tomorrow night.  We didn’t fuss about it because we booked last minute, weren’t planning to spend a lot of time there anyways, and well…we’re just easy going people like that.  We freshened up and left the hotel to explore and grab some dinner.  The pedestrian roads are perfect for toddlers who need to stretch their legs, especially when they aren’t too crowded.

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The next morning we woke up and sat down in our hotel for quite a spread of traditional German breakfast.

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Yes, all of that food was just for my little family of four.  Once you arrive for breakfast you are quickly asked how you would like your eggs and served coffee or tea.  Then come the plates of meats, cheeses, smoked salmon, rolls, jellys, and more.  There was also a side table with fruit, pastries, cereal, & yogurt.

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The reviews of this breakfast were a big part of my decision in choosing this hotel.  When in Rome…

After breakfast we were off to walk down König Straße (King Street) where most of the main sights are, leading to the Imperial Castle.

This is St Lawrence church

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A few shots from Imperial Castle

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A panoramic view of Nürnberg from Imperial Castle.

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The Castle was fairly crowded but we just followed the masses and took in some great views of the city.  You could pay to go in the tower, see the deep well, and for guided tours but we opted out.  This is where managing your expectations with toddlers comes in.  Running freely around a castle?  Tons of fun!  Standing still while adults listen to a guided tour?  Not so fun.  Plus we were headed to the Nazi Rally Grounds which is not exactly kid friendly so we tried to get out their energy early.  Next we searched for a bus that would take us to the Rally Grounds.  My advice?  Figure this out ahead of time.  We wasted a good 20 minutes trying to figure out how to buy a ticket.  For €5 each we could have pre-purchased a day pass.  Doh!  Oh, and toddlers (at least mine)  LOVE public transportation!  A bus and train ride were probably the most exciting part of their day. 

We made it to the Nazi Rally Grounds at lunch time and sat down for a quick bite at the cafe on site.  We ordered the Nürnberger – a local specialty of mini bratwursts.  The kids loved them! 

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The first 5 minutes of touring the museum I REALLY thought it wasn’t going to happen.  E wanted out of the stroller and L wanted to run around.  We explained to L that we needed to be quiet and respectful then after we could go outside and run.  After a few reminders (and pulling out the IPad) we were able to make it through 3/4 of the museum with quiet children.  I highly recommend visiting the Nazi Document Center if you ever have the chance.   Rather than a memorial, it strives to answer the questions ‘How could this happen?’ and ‘How do we prevent it from ever happening again.’  And when your toddlers have had enough of being quiet?   You go outside and let them run around the path by the lake.

We finished the day with a train (really a tram but 3 year old boys are happier when you call it a train) back to the hotel for a little bit of rest before back out for dinner.  Sitting at a restaurant can be hard when you are little so while we finished our dinners we let the kids play on steps nearby with bubbles the waitress gave them.

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When we arrived back at the hotel Frau Keiml showered the kids with chocolate and candy.  No really, she stuffed L’s shirt pocket full!

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Overall we had a wonderful first big family trip in Europe and we look forward to more adventures!  One last note, don’t take too much time getting settled in your car after paying in a parking garage.  The gate wouldn’t let us through until we parked and paid for the additional 10 minutes it took our family to get loaded in the car.

Auf Wiedersehen.

Domäne Mechtildshausen – Wiesbaden, Germany

I finally explored Domäne Mechtildshausen, a local farm complete with a market, bakery, butcher, 2 restaurants, and lots of animals to see.  Well, actually I went there with a friend a couple weeks ago but it was closed.  Today I loaded up the kids and decided to check it out.  Afterall I drive past it every time I drive onto the base. 

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I’m hesitant to offer much history because I don’t totally trust google translation and my German is minimal, but I do know it has been around since the 12-13th century.  The picture above is the entry to the grounds.  It is an absolutely beautiful place!

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Some people were driving into the courtyard but I honestly never would have thought you were supposed to.  If you sitting on a bench in the courtyard you have to be attentive to cars driving by because they will be very close to you.  With two littles it made me a little nervous.

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My littlest fell asleep so with her in the stroller I went for the market first.  It wasn’t big but had some interesting finds.  It’s the first German ‘grocery’ store I’ve been in.  Generally I don’t like to grocery shop with my littles in tow, so the idea of navigating an all German grocery store with them.  Well, no.  I picked up a bottle of wine, some almond butter (which I haven’t been able to find at the commissary here), mustard (because the German’s do it better) and made my way to look through the produce. 

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On my way I saw the eggs.

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Now how’s that for fresh off the farm!

During checkout there was a little confusion over the eggs.  The clerk was asking which bucket I picked them from, thankfully he understood middle.  Wouldn’t you know I just learned ‘left’ and ‘right’ in my beginner German language class last night, and I had to pick the eggs in the middle!

Landon was begging to go to the bakery so we made our way over and ordered drei (3) of that bitte (please!)  I didn’t say ‘that’, I pointed.  Thankfully pointing is universal!

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After our snack break we wondered over to the Butcher but the kids were done, the shop was busy, and I called it a day.  Also, the doors aren’t totally stroller friendly and I wouldn’t expect them to be.  We made our way out to the fence to watch the horses.  The kids loved them and Landon claimed one for him and one for his sister.  Baby horses are the sweetest! 

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Here are my finds from my first visit at the Domäne.  

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Not bad!  I’m sure there was more to see but especially with kids along, I take baby steps.  I plan to make it a regular stop in my chores.  I noticed lots of people in the bakery returning their crate of Milch (milk) bottles for new ones.  Yup, sounds like a plan to me to me!

The Cookie Department – a review

I discovered The Cookie Department on Instagram when other fitness people I follow posted delicious looking pictures of cookies.. I started following them (@cookiedept) and was face to face with their delicious creations daily.  We were in the middle of our move to Germany so I was forced to wait but I actually placed my first order from our hotel room.  Once I knew our new address, of course!  The cookies looked delicious, each flavor had a function (aka fully functional cookies) and well, they’re cookies.  It really didn’t take much to convince me to order.  First impression?  Adorable packaging and totally practical storage box.

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I REALLY had to restrain myself from trying all 5 varieties right away.  I mean, it’s not often that you have so many choices right in front of your nose.  In an attempt of restraint I tried the cookies according to their function:

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Need an afternoon pick me up?  I grabbed the Awaken Baked which contains the caffeine equivalent of one cup of coffee (ummmm, and it’s chocolate!)  Need more protein to hold you until lunch?  Go for the Tough Cookie peanut butter protein cookie.  Have a little too many glasses of wine last night?  Snap Back with the ginger detox cookie.  Ok, ok there is no claim that it helps with hangovers but it seemed like a good thing to eat to the morning after an indulgent night. ;)  The Chocolate Chip Nookie was a favorite of my kids. Great Full ended up being one of my favorites which was surprising because when it comes to sweets I’m a chocolate and peanut butter kinda gal.  Making a cookie with sweet potato and craisins?  Genius!

The cookies range from 160-190 calories per cookie and you can purchase a variety pack of 12 cookies for $30.  While that is not cheap, I don’t think it is expensive either.  When eaten in moderation (as you should everything) these cookies, in my opinion, are well priced.  My favorite part about The Cookie Department?  The cookies are so soft, just like homemade cookies baked by my Mother.  Usually cookies you buy in a store are hard or just full of crap ingredients to make them soft.  These are soft and full of good ingredients.  Win-win!  As someone who is trying to be more conscious of what I put into my body, but still loves to induldge I love this product and the company.  It’s also great to throw in your bag for a pick-me-up-on-the-go. You can learn more about the company at thecookiedepartment.com or find them on Instagram and Facebook.

Now I’m off to order another box!

(At home) Fitness

At home workouts are so not my thing.  I’d much rather go for a run or go to a gym, preferable a class.  It’s taking longer than expected here in Germany to find some sort of daycare for my kids, though, so in the last week I’ve had my husband program some crossfit workout for me to do at home.  I can’t do heavy lifting like I’d been doing in Arizona and Virginia but it’s a lot better than doing nothing.  I thought I’d share a few of them with you.  I feel I should say – we’re not reinventing the wheel here.  My husband has been able to continue crossfit during his morning PT. He’s programming his workouts from various sources, like the main Crossfit website for example.  He then modifies them for me based on what equipment I have available here at the house.

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The first workout is pretty self-explanatory unless you misunderstand the instructions like me.  By V-situps my husband meant pike sit-ups.  I did regular sit-ups with my feet togeher in my legs out like a V.  Oops!  We discovered a community workout room with minimal weight bench in it.  That is where I got the 10lb bumper to use as a kettle bell.  The hand stand push-ups on knees is a common modification for anyone, like myself, who cannot yet do a handstand push-up.  Or a handstand. (Just being honest here.)

The second workout was as follows -

20 minute amrap(as many reps as possible) of:
30 pistol squats (15 each leg)
20 burpees
10 pushups releasing alternate hand & foot between each rep.

I did regular squats because I need major assistance to do a squat on one leg.  And still after the 20 minutes I felt like death….

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The third workout I just finished up:

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10 hand release push-ups
20 OH squats with weight (8# is what I had)
30 hollow rocks.

Despite how they make look on paper I found all of these workouts really kicked my behind!  Maybe if you find yourself stuck home for a few days or generally just need to get moving, give it a try!  I think one of the biggest keys to fitness is to not do the same thing every single day.  Mix it up and keep your body guessing! 

What are your favorite at home workouts?

Spargel (White Asparagus)

Hi friends!  I’m finally emerging from a week of sickness (thank you kids) and unpacking.  So that nasty stomach bug my littles had?  I got it the night before our household goods arrived.  Great timing!  On the bright side I did lose 8lbs in 3 days! (Kidding.)  By this weekend I was feeling well enough and unpacked enough to enjoy a date night without thinking about 1,000 tasks that we could be doing.  I also really wanted to try a Spargel dish. 

Right about the time we arrived here in Germany we kept hearing about Spargel season.  Our Sponsor mentioned it, we saw the stands that look like this

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                                                                           White Asparagus
                                                                      Fresh off the farm Lipp  
                                                              

everywhere, and restaurants dedicate a full page of their menu to it.

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I want to stop at a stand or farmers market and buy fresh spargel but I first wanted to enjoy it in a German restaurant prepared the way it is intended.  I’ve since learned you can fix, prepare it, and add it to any dish you want. A standard way to enjoy, however, is served with hollandaise sauce.

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Doesn’t it look delicious?  It was so filling I couldn’t finish it, which is apparently disrespectful.  I tried, I really tried!  If you ever find yourself in Germany between March and June you must have fresh Spargel! 

Down sizing

Yesterday, after nearly 2.5 months without, our household goods arrived!  A few hours before that I came down with the stomach bug I had just spent a week nursing my kids back to health from.  Needless to say I was worthless and laid on a couch the entire day.  Thank goodness my husband was able to be to tell the movers where to put things and begin unpacking.  I woke up today feeling a little better so I thought I’d share a few photos of our beautiful chaos.

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I know people live in much smaller spaces than this so I’m not complaining.  I just dislike clutter and when you have lived in a house with a garage, yard, etc for the past 9 years, well there are some adjustments to be made.  We have a storage room in the basment of our building which is also full, and we have our loaner furniture that they won’t pick up until Monday.  I have a tendancy to purge things but the big question is what is worth keeping in storage for 3 years and what should just be sold or donated. I know we have way too many dishes and glasses, and toys! So my question to my friends and followers who live in smaller spaces (or ever have) – What are your tips?  What can I live without?  What is worth keeping in storage for 3 years?