Thursday, January 30, 2014

Happiness Is...

Jack London Square, Oakland.  October 2013.

...seeing a beautiful sunrise.
...being in one of your favorite cities for the weekend.

It's Friday!
{insert happy dance}

As we speak, packing is underway, as the family is taking a little trip over a long weekend to San Francisco.  We have family out there, so it makes sense that we go out there often, but the other thing is I just love the Bay Area.  Having grown up there most of my childhood, I've noticed in the last year or so travel articles talking about how hip Oakland has become.  Never really thought about it that way, but there ARE alot of neat changes that have taken place just during the years we lived there (2011-2013).

We'll be staying right on the water in San Francisco and we'll be visiting one of my favorite Bay Area destinations, the farmer's market at the San Francisco Ferry Building.  The ferry building was updated in the last decade or so, all kinds of good can be found there, and then to add to the loveliness, they host a farmer's market every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday!  Just thinking about it is making my mouth water...

When we get back early next week, I'll be sure to share some of the fun we had.  Until then, have a great weekend!

Any fun plans for this weekend?  Are you excited for Friday to get here?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Stay at Home Mom...with Nobody Home

My desk at my last office job (ignore the lunch).  April 2010.

The other day, a good friend who is also unemployed called me.  She was distraught because she had recently posted on Facebook that she and her husband were relocating to Seattle. Naturally, inquiring minds wanted to know: what new work is taking you to Seattle?  The catch is, neither my friend nor her husband have a job lined up at this point.  They're moving to Seattle to make it easier to find a job.

SAHM?  WAHM?  Ex-WAHM? or Just Plain Unemployed?
Our discussion made me think about my own situation.  I've been unemployed since the end of October and I'm currently on the hunt for work.  My son goes to daycare and isn't at home with me.  So what does that make me?

Am I stay-at-home mom?  Am I work-at-home mom?  An ex-work-at-home-mom?  A wanna-be-work-at-home mom?  Am I stay at home mom if there are no kids at home to watch over?

My husband and I count our lucky stars every day.  I don't have to go back to work.  We can manage on his salary alone, as long as we watch our budget and are careful with our spending.  This decision to find new work is entirely mine. 

Work versus Stay at Home
A year ago, I might have just stayed home to take care of my son.  We enrolled our son in a Montessori program just before he turned two years old this past summer and we've been delighted with the program.  He's an only child and we feel that he gets more out of school than if he stayed at home.  So, when my last contract ended last October, we looked at our finances and agreed we should leave my son in school, whether I decide to go back to work or not.

Prior to Turning Two
I stayed home with my son until he was nine months old.  I know not everyone can afford this option but we were fortunate, and whenever I look back, I cherish those memories of those first months with my son.  My husband went back to work after the two weeks of leave accorded by California law, and I quickly adjusted to taking care of our son on our own.  It definitely was NOT easy.  I had the support of other moms that I met through a lactation support group and my parents would occasionally lend a hand.  But those days, those months, are some of my favorite moments with my son.  He changed so much in those first six months and watching all those milestones: the first time he rolled over, the first time he sat up unassisted, his first solid foods, the first time he pulled himself up to standing...I'm so glad I was there to catch every one of those moments.

By the time my son turned seven months old I was itching to get back to work.  Full time motherhood was not for me.  I missed the structure of a work office and the reward of working and contributing on projects (I work on the IT sector) and was ready to get back to my old life (at least, parts of it).  I started looking into options and was fortunate enough to get a position with my old company, but I could work from home.

So when my son was nine months old, we hired a nanny.  I was still nursing and having my son at home with me was perfect.  I remember all the stories from my friends who had to go back to work and pump.  And I felt lucky that I didn't have to join the ranks.  I nursed my son until he turned one.

Then, just before my son turned two, my husband got a new job in Colorado.  We relocated from California to Colorado.  We had to give up the nanny.  I was able to take my remote job with me to Colorado, so we had to find childcare.  We ended up at the Montessori school we are at now.

What's Next?
My son has been at the Montessori school for ten months now.  It's hard to believe we're coming up to a full year in Colorado.  I hope that I'll find new work here in Colorado.  If it's a job that requires I report to an office, that will be a HUGE adjustment for me.  I haven't gone into an office for work since I gave birth to my son.  But he's very independent now, and it just doesn't feel right being at home not working, so as soon as I get another job, I'm sure my husband and I will figure out how to divide and conquer, just as so many other parents out there do today!

The Fitbit Report

Left: Jan 13-19 progress, Right: Jan 20-26 progress

As promised in my earlier post, Fitness Tools, I'm going to try and report my Fitbit progress every week.  On Mondays, Fitbit sends me an email with a summary of my week (Monday-Sunday): total number of steps recorded, total miles walked/ran, total floors climbed (including any elevation gain during walks/runs), total calories burned, and, total calories in vs out.  I should explain that my Fitbit device calculates calories in versus out based on calories burned (as tracked by the Fitbit) against what I report I've eaten through MyFitnessPal, so that number is only as good as how accurately I report what I've eaten.

To save you having to do the math on some of these numbers, I'm currently aiming for 10,000 steps a day, which would add up to 70,000 steps a week.  Ever since I got my Fitbit back in August 2013, I've been shocked at how many days I don't get to the 10,000 steps a day goal.  So, with the new year, I've pledged to get back into moving more.  To help with getting to 10,000 steps a day, I find that I have to get out there and cover the distance of a 5K, whether that be through walking or running.  I'm amazed at how much time I spend just sitting!!  

I'm starting out the year slow and am currently focusing on walking (see Runner turned Walker), but I've been so inspired by all the mama (and non-mama) bloggers out there who are running that I may just get back to it as soon as I've established a good solid walking routine.  Having just moved from California to Denver, I'm still figuring out how to run when it's snowy or icy outside, which is part of the reason I've been walking more.

My fellow bloggers who are runners may not find these numbers terribly impressive; I wish I'd had my Fitbit back in the day when I was running 4-5 days a week, including long runs on Saturdays...I'm guessing I would have clocked closer to 100,000 steps a week, but perhaps not, since I am getting out there every day and walking 3 miles, for a total of 21 miles a week, which isn't too far off from my old average of 25-30 miles of running per week.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Weekend Bike Ride

We lucked out with some wonderful weather out here in Colorado this weekend.  Wonderful weather = sunny with temps above freezing (highs were in the 50s this weekend!).  The "warm" streak also meant that much of the snow that fell a week ago melted off enough to render most bike paths to be snow/ice free so we went out for a bike ride.  We took a leisurely ride, avoiding any serious hills, and we were probably out there for two hours.  Because we went for such a long ride, we tucked our son into the trusty bike trailer with a cozy blanket and a good movie on our portable DVD player.  Despite the movie, he still fell asleep halfway through our trip -- we can always count on a bike ride to put him to sleep!

I love getting outside and seeing other people enjoying the outdoors, too, and we were in good company with lots of runners, walkers, and cyclists enjoying the same pathways we were on.  Denver has an amazing trail system which we are still exploring...after all, we've only been here for nine months!

Other highlights from the weekend included homemade buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup apples and an afternoon trip to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

How was your weekend?  Did you get outdoors or do anything that really recharged you for the week ahead?  

Friday, January 24, 2014

Happiness Is...

...getting in a good sweat!
...getting more out of your workout than you had expected.
...watching a good movie that makes you think about your own good times.

After reading one of Angie's recent posts at A Mother's Pace, I was inspired to get onto my own spin bike at home and go for a ride.  I'm not ready for the rigor that Angie has committed to (she is following a spin workout she found on a fellow blogger's site) but I thought I'd get on the bike and ride long enough to cover the 6,000 steps I usually average during my daily 5K walk.

Our spin bike is in our basement and we've positioned it close to the television for obvious reasons.  My husband usually pops in Spinervals, a spin DVD that simulates being in a spin class.  Again, I'm not ready for that kind of rigor -- not yet.  Instead, I decided I would watch one of my favorite movies, 500 Days of Summer.  I've seen this movie many times and I never get tired of it.

Every time I watch Zoey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt fall into a relationship which he tries to label and she refuses to label, it takes me back to my twenties, when the promise of finding that perfect person was still that: a promise, a hope, a shining beacon of happiness.  And although the movie has heartbreak (sorry if I ruined it for you), I love that it takes me back to that hopeful time in my life.

By the end of my 45 minute bike ride, I was only halfway through the movie, but I wrapped up my workout and the movie feeling lighter.  I felt good having broken a sweat from my workout and I felt good about reliving the better parts of my twenties.  Something tells me I'll be getting back on that spin bike again soon.

 Do you have any movies that elicit happy thoughts or memories?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Having Fun with a Toddler

My husband and I are really enjoying our son, now that he is a toddler with a predictable sleep schedule.  We know that he will sleep from 7:30pm to 7am and that he will nap somewhere around 1-3pm every afternoon.  Along with the predictable sleep schedule, we've enjoyed exploring his ever expanding world.

And that list of activities is oh-so-important to my husband and myself.  Before we had our son, we weren't much in the way of couch potatoes.  We loved getting out and exploring, which we did alot as we moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles to San Diego within the span of five years.  During that time, we ate, hiked, ran, and shopped our way through all three cities.

The first year of parenthood was a HUGE adjustment for us as we were sleep deprived and there wasn't much we could do from our old life, now that we had an infant.  We went out for an occasional meal here and there and I went on lots of walks and hikes with my son, both in the baby carrier and in the jogging stroller.

But now we have a two and a half year old and we have a good list of activities that my husband and I rotate through to keep things fun and active when it comes to hanging out with our son.  On the weekends, we try to spend as much time together as a family, but sometimes we need to divide and conquer.  After all, life goes on.  Groceries need to be purchases, errands need to be run, meals need to be cooked, and houses need to be cleaned.

Here are activities we like, which we try to do regularly, weekday or weekend:

  1. Any of the many playgrounds around us
  2. Public library
  3. Bike riding
  4. Zoo
  5. Science Museum
  6. Children's Museum
  7. Monkey Business (a large indoor gym with apparatus to climb in/on/around, slides, and a jumping tent)
  8. My Gym (organized activities, classes are offered by age)
And those of you with toddlers: what activities do you like to do with your little one(s)?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fitness Tools

Lots of people make new year's resolutions to get in shape.  I've fallen for that trick almost every year since I turned 30.  That was around the time in my life that I found that I needed to really make an effort to watch what I eat and actually work out on a regular basis.

Most years it's been difficult.  I've joined the ranks of people who hang in there for the first month or two, joining a gym, or resolving to get outdoors and move more.  The best years were 2009 and 2010, when I joined the San Diego Track Club and completed the 6 month program both years and successfully completed the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.  Those two years I ran 10 half marathons and 2 marathons.  The other years, I've fluctuated in my success on keeping the weight off.

It's now been three years since my last race.  In that time, I've been pregnant, had my son, moved two times (to the Bay Area, and most recently, Denver) and I've joined one gym and made several efforts to get back into running.  For now, I've decided that a combination of walking and jogging will do, and as long as I get outside 5-6 times a week for a 5K distance, that's pretty good.  I just want to be active.  I want to get my 10,000 steps in a day.

To help with all that, I'm armed with a bunch of new tools and online applications.  I used to wear a GPS watch to track my miles and my pace while running.  This year, I'm using the following applications/devices:
  • Fitbit (a pedometer that also calculates my calorie burn and number of floors I climb)
  • MyFitnessPal (an application I use to log all the food I eat)
  • MapMyRun (an application I use to track my distance and time when I walk or run)
I'm not trying to promote any of these devices or applications over any of the other choices that are out there.  But I am thankful that these three applications provide me the motivation to keep active every day.  My Fitbit ensures I aim for my daily 10,000 steps (I don't always get there, but it helps).  MyFitnessPal has helped me understand exactly how much 1200 calories is (it's not a lot!) but I'm a petite person (4'11") and if I'm not willing to  get up off the couch and move, I have no business consuming huge meals or eating lots of sweets (my weakness).  Best of all, the Fitbit information gets fed into MyFitnessPal so that I can make sure the number of calories I'm taking in doesn't exceed (most days) the number of calories I"m burning.

I pledge to check in here regularly on this blog and provide updates from my tools: hopefully I'll report improvements in my running (I'm mostly walking these days) and a constancy with my eating (I've been working on improving the quality of what I eat) and I've found that I'm averaging 1300-1500 calories a day.  On a splurge day (3 courses at a nice restaurant), I can easily eat 1800-2200 calories, but I try to space those events out.

Monday, January 20, 2014

2014 Baseline

So it's a new year, it's a new me.  Or so the thought goes.  Let's start the new year with a baseline (that's the project manager in me talking).  After all, the year is new, but changes will come, so why not try to capture a snapshot of where I am at the start of the year?

I've Got a Toddler
My son just turned two and a half.  I have to say, that first year of parenthood?  I hated it.  Hated it.  Don't get me wrong, my son was the cutest thing, but I have to say, deciding to become a parent in your late 30s can be tough, as I had to adjust to having all my free time taken away from me.  That first year I kept reminiscing about my running group, running 4-5 times a week, being healthy, and having the free time I cherished to do all my favorite hobbies.  More about the hobbies in a future post.

I'm Turning 40 this Year
Yeah.  I know.  More about this in the future, don't worry.  Future material for this blog.

I'm Newly Unemployed
After my son was born in 2011, I took nine entire months off to spend time with my son and I am so glad I did that.  But after he was able to sit and crawl on his own, I knew it was time to reconnect with the working world.  Fortunately, I was able to get a job with my old company, but worked from home.  I returned as a contractor, and they have a rule that contractors can only work 18 months at a time so at the end of October 2013, I was out.  So I've been unemployed for about 3 months now, and it's time to start looking for work.

Current Projects for 2014
So what does one do while looking for work?  Well, we moved into a new house in September 2013, and we've been slowly working on updating this house, room by room.  So I've got some projects around that.  And I've got lots of hobbies, including this blog, so I'm working those in too.  Here is a list of everything keeping me busy right now:

  • Renovate guest bathroom
  • SuperSmartMama blog
  • Cooking and baking and then posting to ColoradoFoodieLab, my food blog
  • French lessons (I listen to Coffee Break French on Radio Lingua Network during my daily walks)
  • Getting in shape
  • Scrapbooking
  • Look for a job (of course)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A New Start: 2014!

It's a new year and I'm ready to try again with Super Smart Mama.  It's been eight months since I moved to Denver and started this blog so that I could document my family's transition from California to Colorado.

Now that we've been here a while, we've all adjusted.  I'm going to try and take the blog a different direction.  I love memories.  I love capturing them and reliving them.  So that's what I'll do here: capture every moment of life worth documenting, so that I can relive the ups and the downs.  And cherish every one of them.
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