2018 Goals

I love setting goals and also making lists just so I can check things off of them. It’s so satisfying. Resolution goals are really my jam. Over the years I’ve gotten better at goal-setting and making things intentional and realistic as opposed to just saying I’ll do more of something or less of something else.

For 2018, my goals are a little different than in years past.

ONE // I want to try to make it to breastfeeding for six months

A year would be better, but I’m not even remotely in control of my work schedule and there’s a chance I might be on a long work trip this time next year, so I’m trying to make flexible goals as well. I really would like to meet this one, if only because breastmilk is free and formula is so expensive.

TWO // Pass my postpartum APFT

I have six months after giving birth to take the Army Physical Fitness Test which I’ve never had an issue passing before, but I’ve also never given birth before and never weighed as much as I do now. I already feel slightly stressed and panicky at the thought of trying to drop all this baby weight and get back into shape in six short months.

THREE // Study for and pass the CompTIA CISSP exam

Every year I try to do something to professionally improve myself. I almost failed in 2017 because I got busy with a major training exercise at the beginning of the year and then moving and learning an entire new job, bur fortunately my job enrolled me in a two-week course so I got some professional training I otherwise would not have gotten. I’ve been respectful of the CISSP test for years and a little intimidated by the breadth of knowledge it tests which also makes it difficult to study for.

FOUR // Finish the Augusta Ironman 70.3

This is a rollover from 2017 because I wasn’t comfortable cycling while pregnant. Looking back, I feel like I was overly concerned and probably would have been just fine, but it’s my first rodeo so I’m trying to be forgiving of myself as well. I’m also hoping this will give me some motivation for passing the APFT as well.

FIVE // Get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight

I don’t actually know if I can do this in a year, but I want to put this down because it is still a goal. I was at a healthy weight before I got pregnant but my body really loves being pregnant and was more than happy to pack on the pounds, so much so that we thought I might actually have gestational diabetes (I didn’t, which was both a relief and a discouragement because then at least I’d have a reason for why I blew up so much). This is also probably my vainest goal of the bunch so I won’t be too hard on myself if I don’t achieve it by the end of 2018 as long as I’ve made some progress in dropping the weight.

Pregnancy Exercises

I completed a “Confidence in Childbirth” class through my hospital recently and while it was a definite commitment, 2.5 hours a class and five classes spread over six weeks, I learned so much. One of the things the instructor really emphasized was doing your exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor and make space by doing kegels and also squats. Lots and lots of squats.

She recommended two an hour. Well, I work full time and I already feel a bit like a balloon with two legs and feel even sillier trying to do squats at work, so I’ve really been neglecting those even though I know I’ll pay for it later with interest.

We had our first doula prenatal meeting last week and one of the things she went over was also exercises including, you guessed it, squats. Lots and lots of squats. But also pelvic hip thrusts, standing lunges, and exercise ball hip openers. I don’t know if it’s because I’m paying for a doula and the birth class was free, or if just hearing it again from another person, but I’ve been doing a lot better with my exercises.

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Awkward pelvic thrusts made more awkward by the near-constant dog presence

I’m supposed to do three sets a day so I do one set when I wake up and before I eat, one around lunchtime, and one before I leave for work. I broke my squats down into two big sets so I get those done before I leave for work as well. This also doesn’t excuse me from my normal exercise so I still need to get in some light weight lifting (light only because my strength seems to have taken a hiatus) and low-impact cardio. Running officially sucks too much to try anymore so I’ve switched to an elliptical-like running machine at my gym that hurts less but still makes me feel tired.

I’m also supposed to spend some time sitting on the floor in different positions. I’m not really sure how these help prepare me for labor, but it’s not too uncomfortable and my dogs think it’s fun when I’m down on their level.

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I’ve got about two months to go so I’m ready to put in the work and see how it benefits the labor process and also recovery.

On my mind

I’m in a class for the next couple of weeks which has been nice because I have a “normal” schedule instead of my rotating shifts and got to spend Halloween handing out candy to kids (and dog treats to Zane because we’re working on positive associations with strangers and kids especially) but has also been a pain because now I have to drive in traffic and parking has been much harder to find.

Staying awake.

You’d also think that a normal schedule would help me stay awake more easily. Nope. Instead, now I’m suckered into the post-lunch coma every afternoon and since I’m also pregnant, I can’t suck down coffee like I would otherwise. Instead, I’ve been using a blend of essential oils this week called En-R-Gee to keep me awake when the briefer starts to drone. I have it in a roller bottle so I can just dab it on my wrists and my neck for a quick pick-me-up. I don’t love the smell like I do some other oils, but I’m also a lot more sensitive to smells due to pregnancy.

Coffee.

I know I said I was limited on coffee, and that’s true, so it also means that the coffee I do get to have is extra valuable to me and I don’t want to waste it on a crappy cup that I won’t enjoy. Back in Alaska, some friends moved out and gifted us the remainder of the food in their pantry that they couldn’t eat or take with them. One of the things was a half-empty bag of ground coffee from the Alaska Coffee Roasting Co. You guys. This is seriously the most amazing coffee in the entire world. Embarrassingly, Alaska Coffee Roasting Co. is maybe half a mile from where I lived in Alaska and walkable in both seasons (deep winter and preparing for winter) and I didn’t visit it until my last year there and discovered that not only is their coffee amazing, but their food and pastries are also delicious.

When I left Alaska I took a bag of beans with me and with my manual grinder, French press, and JetBoil, I had hot, delicious coffee every day of my trip. They also ship (thank goodness) so everyone can try their wonderful blends. My favorite is the Milan San Remo blend and what I’ve been treating myself to every morning.

Training.

Next week I also get to go to the first of my five birthing classes offered by my hospital. I’m looking forward to it because it also has a tour of the labor and delivery section and it will be nice to meet other to-be-parents who are due around the same time. I’ve been having a lot of Braxton-Hicks contractions and it’s really neat that even though I don’t have a clue as to what I’m doing, my body is already working on preparing itself.

Podcasts.

I really, really like podcasts. I like them in the car and also while lifting. Apparently that second one is a little unusual. I got hooked on The Longest Shortest Time on my cross-continent move and it’s still one of my favorites because the episodes are always so varied but always interesting. Last week I listened to one about the importance, or whether it was important, of afro-centric schooling for kids and how identity with their ethnicity affects their future. The podcast is about parenthood, but really interesting no matter what stage of life you’re in. I definitely wasn’t planning on being pregnant when I first started listening and found the podcast captivating even then.

The Army’s most attractive uniform.

I know I wrote about my feeling on the Army’s maternity uniform a little while ago, but another thing that bothered me, among all the rest of the things that bother me about the uniform, is that while the front is button-up to allow for ease of pumping and/or breastfeeding (like, zippers aren’t faster?) the undershirt is just a regular t-shirt. So imagine this with me – I can unbeaten my shirt to pump BUT I still have to either lift my t-shirt to fit the pump in there or else try to wrangle it under my shirt like some sort of breastmilk snake. Yeah.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. Miss Military Mom created a regulation shirt that also has a flap that can be used for nursing or pumping. They even made a long-sleeve version. Thank goodness, because I was going to attempt to make something and I am not good at sewing or anything like that.

The first pregnancy.


I found this video a few weeks ago and showed it to P and while it was pretty funny,  I really identify more with the second-time mom than the first and I’ve also noticed that in our classes and at our appointments. I’ve barely taken any pictures, the baby room is mostly a bunch of boxes stacked in a way that doesn’t make me feel crazy when I walk by but the closet is holding all my Army gear, pictures, and overflow winter jackets – nothing like what I’ve seen other people have in their baby rooms. I don’t even remember to take my prenatal vitamin every day. I think a big part of it is that I’m working a pretty involved full time job and when I’m not I have a lot of other things on my to-do list so I haven’t really had much time to sit around like the first-time mom in the video and document the journey. Also, sushi, lunch meat, and coffee are all still part of my life. We’ll see how long this lasts.

November Project

Have you heard of the November Project? It was created in Boston as a way to encourage people to stay active during the cold, dreary winter months (and through the holiday season when a lot of us, okay, me, slack off on workouts). It’s expanded worldwide to different locations now. Sadly, there’s no location near me but I was inspired by its message to make my own November Project challenge for myself.

For November, I’m committing to doing yoga every day. Why yoga? Because I always feel good after doing it, I’m really bad about stretching and mobility, and also because it’s easy to do no matter the weather. I’m not stretching myself to committing to X amount of time each day, just to do it every day for the month of November. Some days might be as simple as just going through a few asanas and others I might feel more up to following a video or going to a class. I like open-ended challenges.

On my mind

I read something last week about Rick Rescorla and looked him up  and wow. He served in the Northern Rhodesia Police before coming to America and commissioning as a second lieutenant, serving as a platoon leader under LTC Hal Moore (his face is actually on the cover of We Were Soldiers) and if that wasn’t an incredible enough life, he’s also credited with saving nearly 2,600 people by running evacuation drills and then leading everyone out of the South Tower on September 11, 2001. I told P about him and was surprised that he already knew who he was – the FOB he’d been on in Iraq was named for him.

That also spawned my memory of one of my favorite movies – Zulu. In particular, the pinnacle scene where they are standing to defend against a much larger Zulu force and sing to keep their bravery up against the Zulu chanting.

I can’t believe I just now learned about this video, but it’s so funny watching others’ faces as they realize what he’s singing.

Embracing Fall When its Still 90 Degrees Out

We’re supposed to get cooler weather this weekend (thank goodness) but just because it’s still summer outside and I’m still wearing shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops doesn’t mean I don’t also want all the fall things in my life, too. 

For me, part of embracing fall is making everything pumpkin-flavored. I tried out this recipe this week and P even was a big fan (he is not a pumpkin lover like I am). I think it worked because it’s still flavorful and you can taste the pumpkin, but it’s not overwhelmingly PUMPKIN. Plus, it lends itself really well to the addition of your favorite hot sauce (which I put on almost everything).

Sneaky begging dog in the background


Recipe was modified from here though I added probably four times as much garlic and chili powder and red pepper flakes because I like my food spicy. 

* 1 pound ground beef
* 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste 

* 3 cloves minced garlic 

* 1 large onion, diced 

* 1 green bell pepper, chopped 

* 1 red bell pepper, chopped 

* 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained 

* 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained 

* 1 (15 ounce) can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed 

* 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

* 2 (14.5 ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes 

* 1 (14.5 ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes 

* 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree 

* 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 

* 2 teaspoons chili powder (or more of you like spicy)

* 1 teaspoon ground cumin 

* 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste 

Directions

* Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; cook and stir the beef in the skillet until crumbly and no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes, garlic, and onion; continue cooking until the beef has browned and the onion has softened and turned translucent. Add the green and red bell pepper and cook 5 minutes more.

* Once the beef is cooked, add the kidney beans, black beans, Great Northern beans, tomato sauce, tomato sauce with garlic and onions, petite diced tomatoes, fire roasted diced tomatoes, and pumpkin puree in a large slow cooker. Season with pumpkin pie spice, chili powder, cumin, and salt. 

* Cook on Low until the chili is hot, 1 to 2 hours.

House Projects

I took advantage of Labor Day weekend by catching up on a number of house projects that have been sitting on my to-do list since I moved in. I had a master plan to get everything done before the movers showed up but I had to cut a few less-essentials and push those off. And then I kept pushing them off so finally that weekend I decided to get some of them done.

  1. Refinish the bathroom countertops. I used another kit from Giani Granite since I loved the kitchen results so much. I wanted a white counter in the bathrooms so I chose their White Diamond kit. I’m not as artistic as I wish I was, and I didn’t think it was as forgiving or intuitive as the Black Bombay kit, but overall I like it a lot better than the previous color. Also, P wholeheartedly likes it a lot better, so that’s a total win in my books.

2. Convert the spare bedroom’s closet bifold doors to French doors. I tried to see if I could just buy closet French doors, but you can’t. You can buy regular doors, bifold doors, or barn doors, but not French doors. I wasn’t interested in cutting down regular doors, or losing the entire wall to make a barn door happen, so I followed this tutorial (or rather, P did all the work and I sat there and scrolled through Instagram and helpfully held down the sides of the door while he screwed in the brackets) and am much happier with how they look and function now. I’m going to move the handles to the front of the door and paint them, but I’m debating caulking/spackling the center line where the hinges used to be. P says they’ll split but I’m hopeful they won’t.

3. I haven’t really loved the Recycled Glass color I painted the spare bedroom and what is going to be the nursery ever since we moved furniture in there. They get less light than the master bedroom and the green just looked sort of murky and sad. I had almost a full gallon leftover of Sea Salt so I repainted the nursery that and Lowe’s was having a rebate on paint so I picked up another gallon of Comfort Gray to redo the spare bedroom. I also put together the guest pop-up trundle bed so now we can actually have people over without making them choose between a camping cot or the couch.

4. Still working on the kitchen table. P is doing the sanding and staining since he’s convinced it will give me a miscarriage or something, but once that’s done we’re going to paint the bottom of it the same Dixie Belle chalk paint in Buttercream that we did six of the eight chairs already. If I have any leftover I may re-prime and redo a couple of the chairs that have tannin bleed-through. Right now I’ve relegated those to the desk and spare bedroom as additional furniture.

Maybe not the most exciting weekend, but it’s been great getting some of the longstanding projects finally done.

Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale

Today is the last day of Lilly Pulitzer’s semi-annual After Party Sale, famous for its deep discounts on a brand that never has a sale section online.

I was fortunate that Disney Springs has a brand spankin new Lilly store and this year they let the stores open their doors for the sale a day early, meaning I got to get some shopping in before we left Disney to head home. There was still a line to get in and then a line for the fitting rooms and a line for the checkout, but I appreciated being able to try things on.

I also stopped by my home store in Georgia and did some shopping online. Each experience had different things available. The items available in the Florida store were different than what they had in stock in Georgia and online so Im glad I was able to try all three.

The last day of the sale ends today and there are still tons of great options available. Since I’m pregnant, I tried to buy things that I could still wear for a bit and hopefully camouflage my growing belly.

Lilly Pulitzer APS
First of all, I loved the Bohdi skirt when I tried it on. It’s lovely and flow and plenty of stretch and I should be able to wear this the entire time I’m pregnant.
The popovers are perfect for fall and I love the extra UPF protection built in, which makes them extra perfect for fall fishing trips or anytime I’m worried about sun exposure.
I saw this Kimora Kimono dress and thought it looked so different, unique, and beautiful. It had great reviews from all different sized women so I’m really looking forward to it arriving in the mail.
Lastly, I admit to loving leggings far more than I have reason to. The luxletic leggings are so soft and snuggly. Unlike this picture, the ones I bought go down to my ankles and I think will be perfect for working out or even tucking into some tall boots for fall.
I bought several other things; I have a definite weakness for their t-shirt dresses, but these were some of my very favorites.

Camping at Disney World

My original plan was two short Disney trips in September and November, but then I got pregnant, P signed a hunting lease, and looking at the crowd calendar I realized those two trips were going to be SUPER crowded at the parks. I canceled the other trips and made a plan for a slightly longer trip at the end of August when the parks were a lot less crowded.

I also managed to swing a discounted rate at Disney’s Fort Wilderness campsites. I think most people don’t know that Disney has a campsite; I didn’t until we went to the Hoop-de-due Revue last trip there. They have everything from tent sites to RV sites and even cabins you can rent. It has water transportation to the Magic Kingdom and bus transportation everywhere else. They also have free wifi throughout the campground, which I didn’t expect at all.

We did a tent site and it was really nice. The site was really big and even had a dedicated parking space in it for our car, though another site fit two cars in there pretty easily. There’s also electricity and water at the site, and a shared restroom/shower facility, called “comfort stations” dotted around so they’re never far away. It was a little like a gym facility, except the cleanest, nicest gym showers you’ve ever had with constant water pressure and hot water. I had read that they tended to be crowded in the mornings from 7 – 9 am, but never really found that to be the case. I never had to wait for a shower, sink, or toilet but that also may have been because we were in the off-season.

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Picture from Disney’s website. That little brown stump on the right has multiple electrical outlets as well as a water spigot.

We didn’t have any issues with mosquitos, either which was my other main concern. We went cat fishing the weekend before and I got bit severely and it was awful afterwards. I brought my diffuser and diffused citronella all night and the resort also gave us free DEET wipes. I think I saw maybe one mosquito around our tent area. P got some bites on his feet but those were more likely from walking through the tall grass.

We are used to Army “camping” so our standards for comfort are significantly lower than the average person and we had the most bare bones campsite out of everyone else. I’d be willing to bet most of those folks out there have never slept on the ground in just a sleeping bag while it rained on them. Others had mosquito-netting popups over their picnic tables and a couple even had AC units that attached to their tents. The hardest thing was just how hot it was at night. P opted to sleep outside while I just took the rain fly off the tent at night to allow for more air flow. We had our sleeping mats so it wasn’t uncomfortable, just uncomfortably warm.

The resort itself is huge and has an internal bus system available, or you can rent a golf cart or bikes. We brought our own bikes but didn’t use them except for the first morning when we rode them down to the commissary for breakfast. Since we got free parking at the parks, it was easier and quicker to just drive ourselves rather than waiting for a bus. Since I’m not drinking, we also knew we’d have a designated driver each night when we drove back.

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We stayed in the 2000 loop which was about 2/3 mile from the boat transportation area.

Overall, I liked it and I would stay there again but I’d do it differently. We’ve already discussed how we’re going to need a bigger tent once our baby comes and since we already have two smaller tents that are good for solo or joint hunting trips, we’d like to get something fairly large and roomy that P can stand up in and can adapt to our growing family. I would also like to look at renting either a pop-up camper or even an actual RV in the future.

I loved how affordable the campsites were. Normal pricing for the off-season started at $53/night and then we also got a reduced rate making it even lower. You also get all the perks of staying at a Disney resort, like Magic Bands and Extra Magic Hours, and can add on the Disney Dining Plan if you want. There were a ton of activities at the resort all day and into the evening and a lot of families seemed to be enjoying themselves. You could honestly just spend all your time there and never even go to the parks.

We did our last two nights of our trip at Shades of Green, a military property on Disney. I have a deep, abiding love for SOG that will never go away. They remodeled recently and now have a big, covered parking garage and remodeled rooms. They’re also right across the street from the Polynesian so we just walk over and take the monorail to wherever we’d like to go, but also have bus transportation to the parks. They have Extra Magic Hours, but don’t do Disney Dining or Magic Bands, and no free parking at the parks. I also like that the pricing is tiered depending on the rank structure and the average room can easily sleep five or more so it’s a great value for military families. SOG has been my default place to stay for years now, but I may be switching my affinity to the campsites now that I’ve got some experience under my belt there.

 

 

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You Get What You Give

I really like listening to podcasts in the car, working out, or just working around the house. I like music, too, but for long things podcasts are nice because I feel like someone is talking to me.

I’ve been a fan of Rachel Brathen, aka Yoga Girl, for several years now and she recently started doing a podcast every week. This week she talked about body positivity but also how the energy you put out is what you get back and I know how true that is.

I used to be such a bitter, deeply angry person because of my life. I was upset that my parents had been taken from me when I was younger and that I didn’t get to have an adult relationship with them, that my stepmother now held all of the things I remembered from my childhood and would never give them up, and so many other things. I felt ugly and bitter inside and showed it outside, too. I was just mean and so envious of good things in other peoples’ lives, because I didn’t have them but also felt that I didn’t deserve anything good. It was just this cycle of being angry with my life and then showing that anger to others and then being angry because (surprise) no one wants to associate with an angry, bitter person (weird).

I can’t put an exact moment on when things started to change, but it’s taken me years to let that go. Years of being miserable and unhappy and selfish.

It’s so true though that what you put out is what you get back. My deployment in Afghanistan changed me in a lot of ways, all for the better I hope. I’ve felt like a different person since I came back, and I felt differently there, too. I feel like what I do matters and that my life is in my control, which is a lot different from how I used to feel that I was powerless and poor-me-can’t-do-anything-about-it. I’ve also noticed that things that used to be hard for me are a lot easier now, either because I’m more comfortable in my skin or because I don’t make people unconsciously want to escape the room I’m in.

That’s not to say everything is perfect and I’m great now. I worry an incredible amount about things that I can’t change and have a hard time letting go of that, I’m impatient, and snap when I feel like I’m getting stressed. But I really do think that the way you put yourself out there makes a huge difference in what you get back from other people and positivity goes a long way.