Friday, December 23, 2016

The True Story of the Paper Tree

Once upon a time...
A 14th generation Southern Californian Natived moved to the Washington Kitsap Penninsula, following a dream and her heart.  She found a tiny apartment to move into to get her feet wet (ha ha ha) and learn about the area. The apartment had just enough room for her things and that was about it. Since she moved in during the Spring, she'd given little thought to what a Christmas in the tiny apartment would look like. For her, Her Sailor, and Clydas (the Boxer dog), it was 865 square feet of living space that fit them just right for a start.

When the seasons turned colder and the days turned into holidays, the young Sailor was out to sea, so it was up to the girl to decide what kind of Christmas she could do. She knew Her Sailor wouldn't be back until long after. Any live tree would die and the tiny apartment didn't allow for storage of a fake one. (Besides having grown up with a real tree, anything less seemed less festive by far and hardly worth the investment of energy.)
So thought long and hard... she enjoyed the holidays, and knew she'd need something,  but with no floor space, where would she put a tree?  And would any live tree still be alive when Her Sailor finally returned?

She got creative and went on a mission for butcher block paper and water color paints. She asked at a few stores until she finally found a Fed Ex Office store who was understanding of her plight. Though it was against company policy, the kind worker cut off about 6 feet of paper from a printing machine designed to print out large scale blue-prints and the like. Grateful for the contribution, she stopped by a craft store and picked up the necessary water colors and set to work.

She worked long into the night, and the end result more closely resembled the workmanship of a 5th grader than an adult. Instead of ornaments, the tree was decorated with scrap book stickers. It took several hours to complete, and used up nearly all the green in the water color kits, but it was finally done.

She pinned it to the wall, pinned her tree skirt under neath it, and sat a box nearby with gift for Her Sailor to enjoy upon his return.

The bewildered Clydas didn't seem to know what to do about it, but was happy to stand guard over the package and the strange new addition to the wall...

Later on, the paper tree was folded and put away, until the next time Her Sailor went under the sea over the holidays. Then, it traveled with him, along with everything he needed to affix it to his rack to remember the holidays and think of her.

Now, the same paper tree gets unrolled every year and displayed in the house before Christmas. This year, it holds all the Christmas cards they've received. It's hard to believe the little, imperfect tree could hold so many well wishes, but it still holds up today, even though a real Christmas tree (complete with actual ornaments, lights, and a few scattered gifts stands a room away). It may be a bit faded, and may be mistaken for a child's art project, but the tough little Paper Tree, tattered and wrinkled, has yet to lose its needles - and no doubt has many other travels in its future.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Shoestring Made of Magic - Christmas and the year 2016

We live in a very Norwegian little town. Every year, our little town of Poulsbo throws a strange sort of party. Every year, a clan of vikings kidnaps a maiden (St. Lucia) and lights a big ass bonfire right on the waterfront in the middle of downtown. The shin-dig starts off with lighting the Christmas tree, and dancing around it in big circles (no skill required kind of dancing... okay, so it's more like an organized shuffle, but it's entertaining to witness and be a part of).
Beanie Girl Does Julefest 2016

It was a crazy day for us, but it was also a fun tradition to begin with Beanie Girl.

And best of all, it was free.

It's been no secret. This has probably been the hardest year on our pocket books ever. It started last year, when little got sick right around the time I got back from Maternity leave, causing me to take even more time off work to see her gentle soul through some trying times. While Beanie Girl was busy building the best immune system ever, Trainer Girl (me) was frantically rescheduling and losing sessions here and there - sessions we can't afford to lose since we were making financial decisions in the blur of new-parenthood. As most people operating off very little sleep, we made some unwise financial decisions in the heat of the moment (you know, like putting groceries and gas on credit cards...) and have spent this year working hard to get our heads back above water. Like many, we don't make enough to get help, but also don't make enough to stay current on everything all the time, so it's an uphill battle.

While we've made some head way on our debts this year, in the spring (you know, about when Beanie Girl got pnuemonia, after me being out of work to sit with her during a bad cold the week before which I think was her 3rd virus since her August birthday - a tough start for a lightweight kid),  Our resources were completely tapped out financially and something I never thought would happen was happening.

We were starting to get hungry. Literally. The pantry was empty, and the bank account was too. I was constantly searching for ways to increase my pay, but to do so w/o needing child care services was grasping at straws. (Let's face it, Sunshine Rewards doesn't pay that well.)

So My Sailor reached out to his family and I reached out to local, more immediate resources -  a community that had helped us with so much before - our local Buy Nothing project. They helped us fill the gaps by cleaning out their pantries and freezers and offering us what they didn't have any use for anymore. For the price of gas, we got frozen turkey from the Thanksgiving before, home jarred Salsas, baking mixes (more than a few meeting our Gluten free needs), protein shakes and more. It filled the gap and until the next paycheck.

We learned to be resourceful. (And that says something, since I've always been pretty damn resourceful to begin with.) With the thanksgiving left overs gifted to us, we made huge pots of soup and stews that got us through those lean weeks. (My mom had given us the gift of Cloth Diaper Service, so that was one think we didn't have to worry about.)

And we've learned a lot.

Most of our clothes this year are second hand - either hand me downs (which we've continued to hand down to others), or Goodwill finds, with the odd pair of pants here or underwear there that's new. And There Is Nothing Wrong With That. 'New' doesn't always mean 'better'.

We have let go of the things we don't need.  I've sold some musical instruments I no longer play and Disney art peices that I wasn't particularly attached to, and My Sailor as sold one of his guns - because in the end, they are just 'stuff' anyway.

We made some hard decisions. My Sailor reupped for the military, and we're looking toward the future as things continue to upswing.

Through it all, we've caught up. Slowly but surely, the small decisions are adding up and we're making progress.

And we're still together. We're still a family. Nothing changed. And Maybe We've Just Learned the Greatest Lesson of All this Year....

Santa taking photos on stage
Today, Beanie Girl went to a military Kids and Family Holiday party. It was a free event that My Sailor had signed us up for. I knew she'd get her picture taken with the jolly old elf himself, and that she would get a present. I was expecting something generic (like a candy cane). Instead, Santa knew she liked Rapunzel and her age - and she was given 2 toys! One was a doll of Rapunzel that she was enchanted by, and the other was a developmental ball toy I'd been wanting for her, but had yet to see a quality one cross the Buy Nothing or Goodwill 'shelves'. It was like Santa knew...

Our foam, family made frame
There were 2 bounce houses she was a bit too small for, and a few other games, including a cookie decorating station (which we didn't do because a) no 16 month old needs THAT much sugar, and b) they didn't have any gluten free ones anyway and we opted not to brave the allergic reaction for a cookie...), a frame making station (which we did as a family) and a few other grab bag goodies. She came home with a coloring book as well.
Doing a Scratch Art ornament and gazing at her new doll
I looked around at all the different families... some dressed up for Santa. Some just rolled out of bed. Some looked as though they wanted for nothing, while others looked as though they barely had clothes for the weather.

And I sat there fighting back tears more than once...

I've had more than enough in my life and had more than enough need as well.

But when the need has arisen, I've always been looked after. Even this year...

Despite making progress, we're on a complete shoestring. Our 'gift' to our local friends was throwing a Murder Mystery pot luck dinner party at our house last night - and it was an amazing night (that I managed not to take one... single... solitary... photo of... ).  We'll have enough food left over not to need to go grocery shopping again until 2017... We didn't expect that!

But I sat there during the party, fighting back tears, reminded of all of the generosity that seems always to come my way when I need it the most - when I'm short on cheer or necessities.

One small example, Beanie Girl recently grew out of her hand-me down winter coat... and the weather has rarely gotten above 35. So we layer up as much as we can, and don't spend much time outside. Still, she needed a good coat. I heard of a store with a huge sale and asked a friend I needed to spend some time with to come with me to the mall and browse and catch up.  The coat we found was slightly out of my price range - but it just so happened my friend was looking for a Christmas gift for Beanie Girl. Not just any gift - but a useful one.

See that little pink coat with the silver stars in the photo above with Beanie Girl's bag?

She loves it.

Needless to say, it's useful.

We can't repay our friends, family, and Buy Nothing in kind, necessarily, but this year they have all served as fantastic reminders for me -

There is no 'giving season' anymore than there is a 'needy season'.

Speaking a need isn't 'shameful'. 
It gives people who the chance to do good, to give, to be part of the solution to someone else's story.

This year may have been a skinny one, but we've made magic on a shoestring - and those who helped us make it are the threads.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Traditionally Challenged or Clash of the Turkeys

It's that Time Again!
The holidays are upon us! It's time for me to break out the ghosts I've painted with my fellow Strongman Sisters and start thinking about all things cider and scarves.

Today, My Sailor, The Impossible Girl, and I braved the shelves and racks of a local Goodwill today gathering last minute costume pieces that will be assembled tomorrow. Though The Impossible Girl is over a year old now, this is basically her 'first' holiday season. It's the first time we've had the energy to celebrate it, and the first year she's been interested. I am using the term 'interested' rather loosely though. Today, she was very 'interested' in a pea sized pebble she found outside with about the same level of enthusiasm as she's shown for anything Halloween related. No doubt last minute costume creation is likely to become a tradition no matter how I try to plan ahead...

If you've followed my blog (or met me for any time frame beyond an hour), you probably know that I'm adopted. When I was younger, Dad traveled a LOT and the traditions we had in our household really helped ground me and help me bond with my family. They gave me something to nearly constantly look forward to, no matter if things were rough or not

. In hindsight, we had a lot of them.

In summer,  I looked forward to going to the local fair and eating my way through it, starting in a very specific order - and riding the Ferris Wheel at least once. I looked forward to going out and watching the local 4th of July fireworks with my family.

In the Fall, we did what most people did. We carved pumpkins, dressed up, and went trick or treating, or to our church's Harvest Festival. (Or both.) My brother and I would divide the candy up into 'candy stashes' and hide them in our rooms, in the hopes of keeping some around long into the year. (For the record my brother was MUCH better at this than I was... not the hiding through... I am pretty sure I raided his stash on more than one occasion...) As I got older, I spent several years carving elaborate pumpkins.

Around Christmas time, it was a stage show (either a version of The Christmas Carol or The Nutcracker ballet), baking cookies, having unshelled nuts around the house for snacking (and more than a few nutcracker soldiers), going out and cutting down a Christmas Tree at a tree farm outside of town (usually while my brother and I sipped on hot chocolate or snacked on freshly roasted peanuts and chased each other through the tree farm)... On Christmas Eve, after church, we'd open up ONE present, and Santa always brought us new Christmas Jammies (warm flannel pjs) that we'd wear to bed. On Christmas morning, my parents would make a big deal about keeping us OUT of the room where the tree was so they could set things up, and having breakfast first as a family. Breakfast usually included Cinnamon Rolls that we'd bought (frozen) at the state fair over the summer and saved for just such an occasion.

Anyway, you get the picture.

Of course, these things changed as we grew up. I started traditions of my own. In the theater world, I started throwing Seasonal Murder Mystery gatherings at my house, which were always fun. I always got a tree and have since taken to decorating it on Christmas Eve. My birthday included a trip to Disneyland - even though most years I went solo.

But - I met this guy -

We moved to Washington -
 And my grip on all of that holiday stuff slipped pretty much completely.

Don't get me wrong; I love our home up here in the Pacific Northwest. ESPECIALLY in fall. I mean, who doesn't love these colors, right?!

Leavenworth, WA
Now, we are getting good at carving out Sunday as 'family day', no matter how crowded the week gets. Making those memories is important - even if it's just a day at the park with limited electronic interaction with the world.

Last year, we were too exhausted (or too sick) from the arrival of The Impossible Girl to do much of anything for the holidays. If I recall correctly, The Impossible Girl and I were sick on the couch at home while My Sailor had to work on Halloween. We spent that Thanksgiving with My Sailor's family in Seattle, and that Christmas with my family in California. My mom carried on the Christmas Jammies tradition for The Impossible Girl, and that was really more than enough.

Thanksgiving is a weird holiday in this especially.

You see, to My Sailor, the holiday looks like extended family, food, and nearly-drunken all day football fest. Nothing wrong with that. It's pretty much how most Americans celebrate the holiday anyway, right? That's normal.

To me, well, growing up, it meant being talked over at a busy dinner table. My favorite part was going to catch a movie in the theaters while the turkey was roasting. I could have done without most of the rest of it. The food was good, but it was just food. (Stuffing is one of the few foods I have no interest in eating... ever...)
Now, it's the anniversary of My Sailor's first date with me. Which was kind of a big deal, as it involved me getting on a plane cross country on a wing and a prayer to see if this then-friend of over a decade was actually something more. (Though the 'dinner' included Ramen noodles while watching Aladdin in my hotel room.)

I hadn't honestly been much of a Thanksgiving fan in general until then. I can go without the feasting these days. My stomach can't handle the huge portions and rich foods, so that much is a little bit lost on me. I'm not a big football fan either, and pumpkin pie? Eh... no thanks. (Sacreligious, I know.) 

So it's a clash between 'beer and football' vs 'romantic anniversary'.  One year, we did do a harbor cruise (I INSISTED on it). The food was great and it was really fun, but I know My Sailor struggled with not seeing his family that day, so I highly doubt we'll ever recreate that - especially since we have the girl now. Besides, who am I to say, "Don't spend time with people that you won't be able to see very often once you deploy again." I have a strict 'no competition' policy when it comes to family. 
Besides - let's face it - they are much better cooks than me anyway - and he deserves a good dinner. (Me? I have been known to bake a turkey breast in bacon in the oven, do some mashed taters and call it good.) 

Now, admittedly, maybe it's because I'm still adapting to having lived 15 minutes away from my entire family for 31 years to seeing them maybe once a year, or maybe it's that My Sailor and I haven't had anything remotely resembling a 'date night' since my birthday - last January - that makes me a little selfish when it comes to holiday time as just a 2 or 3 some. As I start piecing together the next piece of our family plan (adopting a sibling about 2 years), I'm reminded that I need to MAKE the time this year to start prioritizing our little family this holiday season, before it gets scheduled away with work, life,  weightlifting, and extended family engagements. I won't be seeing my family this year, so staying at home gives me lots of time to get creative and get some Christmas and New Years magic going on for our little one.

Looking forward to seeing what the season brings.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Harvest Festival Fun on a Hammered Immune System

The Impossible Girl enjoying a run around.
Last weekend, we took our Family Day outting to a local Harvest Festival. Traveling with a toddler is a LOT of work, but it was fun and we made some good memories. The Impossible Girl is a freedom loving 1 year old now, who gets around pretty well on her own, so it was a fun way to wear her (and, let's be honest, us) out.
Rowing out on the lake... Maybe during a year when we don't have a toddler rocking the boat...
Free events included rowing canoes (we passed on that, for reasons obvious to anyone who's had a can't-stand/sit-still-kid), s'mores (cooked over some pretty ingenious log burners that we plan to try at home one of these days - when our logs dry out again... which will realistically be sometime next year at this rate...), face painting, an archery range, a small petting farm, hay rides, and a hay maze.
We met up with some friends on the spur of the moment and it was a good day generally. And I'm glad I was able to go with very little issue.

The doctor's say the 'working diagnosis' is an ulcer. Since I had pretty intense heartburn for the better part of a year while carrying The Impossible Girl (and there has been no shortage of stress in adapting to the role of working mother/wife/athlete), it's not even a stretch to say I probably have developed an ulcer (which has been showing up as referred shoulder pain). At first, we tried the generic version of Prilosec for a short time to try to decrease the acid in my stomach to give the ulcer a chance to heal.  Well, I am one of those folks who gets just about every side effect of medication possible - so that stuff resulted in 'cold like symptoms' (sore throat, runny nose, without actually feeling like I had a virus...) and an overall decreased immune system due to malabsorbtion (when your gut isn't breaking things down correctly, you don't absorb all the goodies you need to stay healthy). Couple all that with 3 days in a row of a teething, nursing toddler who is up most of the night, (and, admittedly, suboptimal hydration) and you've got a welcome mat for infections. Knowing my body pretty well, I knew a kidney infection when I felt it, so I spent 24 hours in agony before admitting I can't ride this out myself and grabbed antibiotics at my local Urgent Care. They confirmed that I was right, and suggested I re-think the Prilosec. I did. Within 24 hours of antibiotics on board (and Prilosec remaining on the shelf), I'm about 85% pain free. Which is awesome.

  It's a good reality check for me to get sick once in a while. I remember how much it sucks and it gives me an insight into what some of my athletes/clients might be suffering through due to something as common as stress, lack of adequate rest, and poor hydration. Feeling stuck in a cycle of pills is terribly discouraging.  (Since ditching the prilosec, I have been enjoying life with dietary changes. Nothing too extreme at all. I'm just more aware of my probiotic intake, adequate rest, adequate hydration and fueling. All things that are relatively easy to lose track of when you're not a working-2-sometimes-3-jobs-mom-and-wife.) It's a great oppurtunity to really hone in and practice what I preach.

I'm changing somethings up and ramping up a monthly challenge for my clients at work. It should be fun, and I'm hopeful all goes well, but there will be more about that later on. It's been incredibly gratifying this year to see the mobility, strength, and speed gains everyone is making. 2017 is going to be an exciting year in the gym...

As for my own gym goals, though I complain about the heavy training days I actually love it. Maybe I'm just on a hot streak right now, but I've rarely missed a lift in training, despite the heavy loads (for example, today was 85% Snatch to start and 95.2% for Clean and Jerk to start). In fact, I THINK I had a Jerk revelation today... and that's exciting, since I'm staring down the goals of a comfortable 50 kilo Snatch and a 69 Kilo Clean and Jerk hopefully around my next birthday in January... we'll see. Either way, it's exciting to realize that those lifts have a very real chance of being a Meet reality for me in 2017. It's still a long way from the new Nationals qualifying total needed for the 75+ Kilo weight class, but once they institute the new women's weight class (which hopefully will happen in 2017 or 2018), I might just have a good chance at Nationals again then. Until then, I'm pretty happy that I would have qualified for the Pan American games for 2016 as well as World Masters for 2017, if this had been a qualifying meet for me. (Bad timing.)

Getting the workouts in regularly helps with the stress which helps with the ulcer, so things are looking up, even if the future is not so certain, depending on, well, if My Sailor decides to continue to be a Sailor or not... which may depend on a lot of factors (though this election will likely be one of them).

So much to think about... but how about some sleep now, eh?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Lessons in Expectation Momagement

The Impossible Girl Goes to the Zoo
It's just after 10 pm. The house is asleep and I've stolen a few minutes with my laptop, Netflix, and some Almond Milk Ice Cream for myself.  Today got me seriously thinking about the ridiculous amount of expectations I have for myself. In fact, when asked, it's the one thing My Sailor wishes he could change about me.

As a Trainer and Coach, part of the job description is working with clients on developing realistic expectations.  My clients and I do a lot of hard things  in the gym. We do a lot of hard work - with the expectation that they will get stronger.  If only everything in life had such an easily identifiable cause and effect relationship.
My Sailor and The Impossible Girl
As I try to balance the Mom/Wife/Coach/Athlete, it's easy to feel like I'm failing at all of them.  This time of night, when I curl up under the blankets, listening to the fish tank over the monitor, it's easy for the thoughts that needle my brain of the chore that didn't get done, or the workout that slipped by, or the moonlighting job that didn't get accomplished (I took on a small part time job doing Transcription to help weave a more secure safety net for our family). 

Combating those thoughts isn't easy, but it comes in moments...
Moments like having a good Meet with great people and accidently surpassing the qualifing total for the Masters Pan American games reminds me that I'm keeping up as an Athlete, though I don't have the same schedule or resources that I wish I had.
Moments like when The Impossible Girl is finally asleep, safe and sound and snug remind me that she's healthy and thriving. So I'm doing my job on the Mom front.
Moments like when My Sailor and I are able to steal a few moments alone and laugh that remind me I'm doing my job on the Wife front.
Moments like when my clients reach a new level of strength or mobility, or when they come into a work out having had a bad day and leave feeling empowered - I've done that job too.

Sure, I 'expected' parenthood to involve older kids, school schedules, date nights, family vacations... Instead, it's a world of small victories, second jobs, first steps, early mornings and late nights. But in the end, I still have the beginings of the 'family' photo. I know there is so much more family out there waiting for us. All in good time. Once we get this baby-parent thing nailed down.

All of it has been a great reminder that life may be short, but it's the big picture that counts. Sometimes the laundry doesn't get folded. And that's okay.

Expectations are good, healthy things.

But sometimes, we have to leave a little room in the plan for detours. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Beanie Turns 1 and 'That One Time I Thought About Quitting'

At her Birthday Party, Point Defiance park, Tacoma, WA
Our little girl turned 1 last month. Not 1 week. Not 1 month. But 1 whole year. In a flurry of family visits, we managed to throw a small picnic celebration that was a nice easy day for everyone. Since then, we've taken more than a few hikes and gotten into toddler mischief, as she learns to walk. Hikes now take much longer, since she will only tolerate being carried for so long, no matter who awesome the carrier set up. And stressful situations are a bit more stressful as she appears to have some scary looking (but ultimately harmless) breath holding spells. But it's nice to have a happy, healthy kid on our hands.

Playing at the Mall
 It's been fun, but young kids are a LOT of work. We keep things together, but we're always working on improving our process, tweaking our (well, my) schedule, and working on finding longer periods of sleep along the way.

October 1st I have my first Weightlifting Meet since I was a bit over 6 months pregnant with The Impossible Girl herself.

And today - I thought about quitting that meet.

Here I am, almost 2 weeks away from it, and not where I'd like to be. I'm lifting about 3 days a week (as opposed to my preferred 5-6) and I'm just getting the meat of those workouts in. Forget the accessory work. Most days I barely have time for the classic lifts, due to the tuck and dive moves My Sailor and I do daily in the Parent Swap. Child Watch has been awesome, but invariably, she needs something for me right around that last set - or even before I get started... and by the time I can start, it's too late. I'm needed elsewhere.

My changes of setting any new records on the platform are non-existant, in reality.

Luckily, I'm hard pressed to just blow $70 of entry fees. (Since we're past the refundable deadline, that's exactly what I'd be doing. ) Sheer thriftiness alone makes me need to go and lift for the t-shirt regardless of standings or personal records... But, today, I seriously considered quitting.

Today was just one of those days where I got less than 2 hours of sleep in a stretch the previous 2 nights before, and hadn't seen a proper weightlifting workout since Friday, as Saturdays I'm not supposed to be working (we're still hammering out just what I am supposed to be doing) and Sundays are 'Family Days' (aka - My Sailor goes through pains to make sure I can sleep in a bit, we do breakfast together, and then I spend the rest of the day trying to find a hike to drag us out to so we get out of the damn house).  I haven't been able to see any proper coaching in a couple of months and, while my lifts are proficient, they are fairly stagnant at the moment.

Instead of quitting, My Sailor helped me out by taking The Impossible Girl for a little extra time when I mentioned something like, "What's the point of competing?! It's not like I've gotten better lately. I don't have time to train myself anymore!" Thanks to the exhausted man going from work to dad mode immediately, I could get a proper Weightlifting workout in between clients. And then one client canceled, which allowed me not to try to rush to the end of the workout to relieve My Sailor.

And that was all I needed - just 1 day - just 1 completed, successful  meaty workout -  to get back on track.

If parenting has taught us both one thing, it's 'Have Adjustable Expectations'. My initial expectation was to make the same Kilo total at this meet that I did at the last one (while pregnant, yet lifting 5 times a week).  Instead, my goal is now 'Reclaim the Competition Platform - Make My Lifts'.

Realistically, I'm still lifting at about the same capacity as I was last time I competed, which is a little disappointing, but it's all a step in the right direction. Progress, rather than perfection.

And besides, on my death bed, I think I'll regret the time not spent with my family. Not the weight on the bar that year when I was recovering from the baby bump.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Patience over Power

Today was a good day in the gym. I had a few clients. I worked with the Strongman team, and I hit a post pregnancy PR in my Jerk.

And I came away with it with a little revelation too.

Now, if there is one thing I've learned along the way here, is that there are as many styles of parenting as there are people. For example, for every expert that swears by 'Cry It Out' (which in the baby wielding world is abbreviated as CIO - which is simplified by basically letting the kid cry until they figure out how to calm down) there are half a dozen that believe it's cruel and will give your kid issues into adulthood. Yet experts who backs CIO, feel that anything else will make kids into weak adults who are unable to soothe themselves. There are some shades of grey in between, of course, but that's just one example of contradictory methodology.

Me? I believe there are no actual manuals when it comes to relationships. There are lots of books and folks with great suggestions, but that's all they are. Wisdom gleaned from trial and error and other experiences.  Each metholody has its own value, but we all have our own hearts to follow, in the end.

Each relationship (Trainer/Athlete, Husband/Wife, Progeny/Parent, etc.) is as unique as a finger print. I prefer to think of each as a tiny piece of a yet-unexamined life.

That leads me to today's revelation.

The Impossible Girl is becoming a toddler. A very strong, 18 lb toddler. It's hard to believe she just turned 11 months on Monday.

When she does not want to be strapped into a seat, there is no form of distraction that will get her in there. Her will is iron clad, and her body is so flexible that she can become stiff as a board and remain that way for extended periods of time.

And that's exactly what happened on my way home from picking up lunch for My Sailor (who happened to be sick). She was NOT getting back in the car seat. I tried EVERYTHING. Diaper change, food, distraction... I pulled out every stop in the parent arsenal and she was not getting into that seat. Physically forcing her was probably well within my ability, but she was so adamant, I'm pretty sure it would have risked serious injury to continue to attempt to dominate her will.

So instead, I stopped trying.

I took a deep breath. Sure, people were looking. I'd been wrestling with a screaming toddler for the better part of 15-20 minutes in the middle of a parking lot. In the midst of my frustration, I realized that she needed something from me. And it wasn't more force.

"Maybe this isn't what you need right now. Let's go for a walk, shall we?"

As we strolled slowly up and down the aisles of a near by craft store, and explored the colors and textures of all the fake flowers and crafting fabrics, I realized something.

If I were to describe myself, one word I'd use would be powerful. Not just as a lifter, but when it comes to force of will, I'm nearly as stubborn as they come.

But day, she didn't need my power.

She didn't need me to 'out stubborn' her.

She needed my other super power.

She needed my patience.

I had a 2 hour gap between clients. Surprising My Sailor with lunch before dropping off The Impossible Girl with him and heading back to work was a sound idea.

This struggle had cut into my lunch plans significantly.

So much so, that I had about 30 minutes left when I got home and got to said lunch.

But when we got back to the car, there was very little struggle getting into the seat. Some minor distraction did the trick, and we were off.

Sure, my lunch break was cut short, but I it felt good to realize that, sure, some days, she will need that powerful female figure to help her out.

But more often than not, she's just going to need my patience.

And she can have it.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Competitions and Killer Whales

It's safe to say that parenting has slowed me down a bit. Not necessarily in a bad way. (If you've been following my blog from the start - oh ye brave, ye few - you've seen that, throughout the years I've needed different things to slow me down.) It's not a negative thing by far, but it isn't something that comes easily to my girl-on-the-go personality. I tend to thrive off of momentum. It's a controlled sort of chaos creative folks know all too well. Being a parent of a near-toddler is simultaneously amazing, challenging, and completely exhausting.  My daughter doesn't make it challenging specifically. Overall, she's a pretty chill kid. It's just that life with an infant/toddler is far from a cake walk.  From sleep deprivation to the every-other-week illnesses to the delighted look that crosses her face when she discovers she can do something she couldn't do yesterday, it's truly an adventure into unexplored territory for me.

Today I was carrying her to the car as My Sailor pushed our cart through the Target parking lot. She was fast asleep on me. She'd been fussy in the store, insisting on being in constant motion, and then being hand carried (not riding in the cart or in her carrier but specifically HAND CARRIED and  specifically by me) until she couldn't fight the tiredness any more. Walking slowly through the aisles and a calm voice  eventually put her to sleep.  As I walked out to the car, I mused that I never considered that my arms would be tired from carrying a toddler. Until now, I'd been able to give them back to their parents when they got fussy. Now, I'm the parent.

And it's kinda cool.

Snatching in Tacoma...
With that said, I just signed up for my next competition.  It's not until the Fall (October 1st to be exact), and I'll probably compete in the local Strongman between now and then, but my approach to this competition is very different than the others. Even when I was pregnant, I had a couple hours a day, 6 days a week in the gym to myself to lift. I get a little over 2 hours a day. The Child Watch staff is (usually) more than willing to help me out and watch her when I have clients and have to go over my 2 hours a day/10 hours a week, but when it comes to getting my own workouts in, that's on me to figure out (since I save my Child Watch time for my business hours, rather than pay for child care.)

Now, I don't have that kind of time - or the extra funds for regular coaching. (Though I plan to change that soon, it'll likely take about a month before that turns around.) Now, I grab the time and the coaching slots when I can.

For general health and fitness, none of that is really an issue. I've diversified my training to include a SLEW of Mom-and-Beanie workouts. Beanie Girl and I go for hikes once a week with a local Hike-It-Baby group-with her in a baby-wearing carrier (though we're on the look out for a mesh one for summer time). A friend showed me how to do push ups with Beanie Girl in a back carry, and we do planks, and tire flips, just to name a few things. She was approaching 18 pounds at her last weigh in. Add in her carrier and it's probably about the equivalent to a 20 lb weight vest. But I'm only going to get stronger as she grows, so it's kind of a nice trade. 

And who knows? She may come to enjoy Mom's special brand of crazy... or she may hate it. It's up to her.
Me and Beanie Girl - Candid
But one thing I can't do with her into a weight room at the Y.  She's tagged along on a few Olympic Lifting classes/sessions at Dungeon Fitness, but that's more out of necessity. It's a huge distraction for me. That means I've had to slow down my training and really pare it down to the most vital parts, making the most of the little solo weight room time I have.  Lifting alone is hard. In fact, it quite honestly brings out the 'suck' in the sport, but I know this phase isn't forever. I miss my lifting friends at the gym, but I know it'll pass eventually. Eventually I'll make my Sunday morning plans regularly again. Someday she may be coloring across the room from the weights or in summer camp or school. But for now, it's climbing up hill. But ya know - I'm kind of okay with that. It reminds me just how important it is for parents to take time away for their own sanity and betterment. MAKING time to do something just for me - really isn't 'just for me'. It helps me bring a more fulfilled, stronger, more confident, better person into all of my relationships - wife, friend, coach, mother... etc.

Honestly, while it's not easy, it's not that bad either. When she's feeling well, Beanie Girl sleeps like a champ - which means everyone sleeps like a champ. (She tends to get sick about every other week - you know - when she's been in Child Watch... which she can't go to when she's 'visibly ill' - so basically, she comes out sick just about every time she's in there for an extended period of time. That's not a reflection on the staff. It just is what it is. Little kids = germ factories.) When that happens, the whole house gets in a happy, productive mode. When it doesn't happen - and I'm getting sleep in broken 2-3 hour chunks, putting heavy weight over my head just seems like a bad idea...

So I don't. I find some other way to work out.

With a competition coming up, I'll need to make rest a bit more of a priority. It may be good timing, as she's going to be nearly 11 months old, and we're seeing some regularities creep into everyday life that make things a bit easier on me.

Motherhood has been a great test of my training philosophies. I say things like - 'Do SOMETHING every day. Even if it's something small.' And now, I live that.

Carrying Beanie Girl around all day is a great way to get strong - and get exhausted, so that happens regardless of what I plan usually. (Even though she's crawling and working on standing on her own - sometimes Mom is the best mode of transportation and comfort. Growing up is HARD!) So adding in a hike, walk, push ups, planks, leg raises, swings, flips or whatever is all bonus sometimes. But ya know what? It's working. I haven't dropped a ton of weight, despite having a dialed in diet, but I've shrunk and maintained my strength - slowly, over time. Which is exactly how I got into the best job ever - taking my time. Learning the ropes. Slowly. Gradually. I'm still learning and growing as a coach, as an athlete, as a wife, as a mom.... and I hope to forever.

My hopes for this meet? Let's see if I can meet the totals I hit while I was pregnant. I'm fairly confident that's a doable goal. Remember that last meet? Click here if you don't. I look back at that technique and I'm confident it's still getting a little better, even if it's a bit of a battle some days.

That said, we've been making sure Beanie Girl stays connected to her family - on both sides. Granted, that is MUCH easier done on My Sailor's side. It seems like we see someone from his side of the family every month or so. Most of them live in Seattle, which is little less than a day trip away. We all got to cross whale watching off our bucket list though when Papa Bear Humenay came for a visit and treated us all! It was a really long day for Beanie Girl (and she could probably have cared less about the whales and the water), but I'm glad we were all able to take the adventure together. My Sailor caught some fun photos of us on the boat. And - oh yeah - we saw whales.
Taking a break in the Galley

Candid fun. Tired Beanie Girl.

 The ship required that we either be in the Galley, seated, or that Beanie Girl be worn for the entire 3 hour 6 hour tour. Add that to the 4 hour round trip journey to get to and from the port, and lunch strapped into a high chair, and poor Beanie Girl had been strapped to a device nearly the entire time. We came home all exhausted, but glad for the adventure. We're looking forward to doing an overnight at Deception Pass at some point and further exploring Edmonds.

Even though I'm a Californian Native, I can't help but love all the natural beauty up here. It's still breath taking.

It was a neat day. I remember going whale watching (though we were going for humpbacks mostly) with my family as a kid and Papa Bear's visit was bitter sweet - we really enjoyed it, but it's an ever present reminder of cancer's toll on my family. I'm grateful that Papa Bear gave us this experience that I'm sure my dad would have more than approved of.

Well, my week is planned - including a good bit of marketing since Strongman 2016 is right around the corner, and I'm hopeful we'll tackle some projects here on the homefront as well tomorrow, so I better enjoy some sleep while Beanie Girl is out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Another Shark Week in Paradise

It's 11pm and the house is quiet, aside from the white noise of fans and the exaggerated snoring of my beloved Clydas. Just a few minutes ago, I was finally able to brush my teeth and trade the sweat-smelling banana-mash-smeared work clothes for flannel pj shorts and an oversized Eleiko shirt I got for free at a Weightlifting meet a few years ago.

We canceled an upcoming trip to California, opting to post pone it until the early winter, but it's still great to have something to look forward to. Someone recently commented to me that tag team parenting is great for saving on child care costs, but tough on a marriage. They aren't necessarily wrong. We haven't had anything I can call a date since February, but we're soaking up time with the Beanie Girl while she's still, well, Beanie. With her one yeat birthday right around the corner (how did THAT happen?!?) She's in a stage where she's changing leaps and bounds, so it's nice to experience all those firsts.

It was a fantastic treat to join my weightlifting buddies on Sunday on a workout that left me (literally) dizzy for a good while. I got to be me for a few hours, with no demands that the mom version of me do anything  (other than hurry home when I was done). Interestingly enough, I was hopeful that pregnancy would be the cure to the PCOS and Endometriosis, but the workout reminded me that the hug of barbed wire still can randomly strike at any time. But I got through it, none the less.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


It is HARD not to compete right now. I won't lie. It's very tough to have my personal goals be more obscure - especially when I have so many hardworking folks in my roster that I get to help reach their very specific goals. Right now, I'm working out 3 days a week, and 1 of them (at least) is a babywearing Metabolic Conditioner - which is fine for keeping me strong, but isn't helping me get through a structured program and getting me closer to getting back in fighting shape. Last time I competed (even pregnant), I was lifting 5-6 days a week. Not 2-3.  So it's been a bit of a challenge to find a new, maintainable goal. It may be (gulp) running, as soon as we get the jogging stroller hand-me-down cleaned up and functional, and when we get a more breathable baby wearing carrier for the summer time.

But, as the Lady in Grey reminded me, this is 'only a season'. Beanie Girl will only be, well, Beanie for a short time, so having limited child care is kind of a blessing. It ensures we get time together (while not spending half of my income on babysitting) and helps us build memories. She may not remember her first time at the beach...

Island Lake Park - First Day at the beach

but My Sailor and I will.

She may not remember going to the zoo 
and she probably thinks that the people are more of an attraction than the animals,

but we got to see her wonder at aquariums.

She may not remember playing in the park mid-day on a week day, but we'll remember. I'll remember working 6 days a week (7 if you count paperwork) in a job I love, while sneaking in quality time with my family every chance I got.

I'll remember it all 10 years from now.

What I won't remember is that I was only able to lift when I had the available child care hours (no babies on the weight floor allowed at the Y).

I won't remember that I took over a year off of competing. I won't remember that I was more than occasionally thwarted in my plans by my growing obligations on the home front.

There will be lots of competitions in my future, I'm sure. As tough as it is to watch them float by as I fulfill other roles life has had for me beyond athlete and beyond coach, I know it's something I won't regret.

Life isn't anything like I expected it to be, as 40 becomes closer than my 30's -

 But that's what happens when the Impossible becomes Possible.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Tag Team Living - Memorial Day Lay In

Beanie Girl has learned to crawl like a champ and is now free to cause mischief and mayhem. The mischief is generally encouraged (safely, of course). It's kind of a fun process watching her grow into her own lady, even though it's exhausting on an entirely new level. (Some parents ask, "Where did the time go?" I know exactly where it went...into that great big vat of sleep deprivation, that's where.)

Illness has been ripping through our house off and on. When we're 'off' being sick, life actually falls into a nice little pace. But someone is sick pretty much every couple of weeks (Beanie Girl just got over pnuemonia, and now My Sailor is under the weather...), it's been kind of a battle to find a stride that fits. But life is all about adaptation, so adapt we do!

We got annual passes to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. It's a tiny little zoo with a nice little aquarium in Tacoma. It's just far enough away to get us out of the house, and just small enough to easily navigate with small children. Unlike the San Diego Zoo that I grew up with, it doesn't have a bunch of expensive gift shops and food, so it's a great way to enrich Beanie Girl and blow a few hours without breaking the bank. She LOVES the fish tanks.

Business has picked up, which means I'm busier than ever. I haven't figured out exactly how to balance the time I need into the day consistently yet, but it's a great thing. Allowing me to keep the lights on is a big deal, and I'm sincerely grateful to all of my friends and family who have reached out and helped. They ain't kidding - it DOES take a village.

This weekend wasn't what I'd hoped it would be. If you've followed this blog for any amount of time, you'd know that My Sailor and I aren't good at holidays. We don't get much practice (family always wants the big ones and deployments got in the way for years) and this was no exception. My Sailor turned up sick, so we've been spending the last couple days being pretty low key around the house. We even went to bed at 8:30!!! #gettingold.... But with all the Tag Teaming we do (when he's at work, it's Mom/Daughter time, and then he comes home and I go to work and it becomes Daddy/Daughter time... and if we're lucky one of us got enough spare moments to cook dinner. If we're REALLY lucky we both have the same day off together.)

That said, all of the things that I've been hearing about from friends lately make me incredibly grateful for the time and good fortune My Sailor and I have. No matter how scary things got, it's always been the two of us. 'We' have never been in jeopardy and that's astounding to me. 'Quitting' simply isn't an option for us and that has a quiet sort of confidence about it that I'm grateful for every day. 

So it's been a roller coaster of a year,  but we're on the way back up, and looking forward to the adventures of the summer.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Bitter dose of Vitamin D

"Feelings of disappointment can either drown you, or shape you...Sometimes, they may just be a new beginning." -Walt Disney, "Walt Before Disney"

Now, before I get too far down the rabbit hole here, allow me to be very clear.

My life is pretty good. Pretty damn good. I've family that adore me and that I can't wait to get home to. We have a full cupboard currently (thanks largely to a fabulous local Buy Nothing group) and are  getting caught up on some vital household bills. The lights are still on; we still have a roof over our heads, and I have the Impossible Girl, who is growing up - practically crawling now. Thanks to hand me downs, we haven't had to buy much of anything for her, aside from a few toys here or there at Goodwill. I'm seeing success in the gym, Just this week, having reclaimed my triple digit Snatch this week (That's just 10 pounds off my lifetime max!) and my client roster is back on the upswing (which is surprising this time for year,  but a huge blessing none-the-less).

But let's face it - there are things that I definately miss of late... and more than my fair share of disappointment going around.

I have THE BEST friends... and it's been fun reflecting on how far they have come in their fitness journeys, but, although I miss them all something fierce, and when we hang out, there is little in common currently. It's not anyone's fault- my life is just about keeping things afloat (a business I love, a girl I love, a household I love, and a guy I love) in a time and space where almost none of it is coming easy. I went from the girl who planned Saturday nights at a local brewery and drives 90 minutes round trip to soend 2 hours in the gym on Sunday morning with her friends doing Olympic Liftingand Crossfit.

Being up every 45 minutes-2hrs with the Impossible Girl isn't conducive to early rising. It's not the drive, but the fact that the alarm has to go off an hour before I need to leave, just to feed The Impossible Girl and pack her up before leaving. Long nights aren't conducive to driving  90 minutes round trip  and putting heavy weight over one's head, much less doing anything with 'intensity'.
And then there is the cost - of gas, of the class, of the breakfast with the gang afterwards... I'm sure they've noticed at this point. First, I stopped going out to breakfast. Then I started going every other week...Then only to one class...then I stopped going all together because honestly,  some weeks it wasn't the lack of sleep- it was the extra expense in gas... If The Impossible Girl was under the weather, or my in-gym client load was low for some reason, it doesn't leave wiggle room in the budget for anything else-including travel time.

We haven't had a date night since February. It's nearly May, and there aren't any on the horizon either.

Sitters are expensive, and I'm not in a position to trade services right now.

My friends and fellow athletes are killing it in competitions all around me that I can't gather the capitol to enter... I cheer them all on virtually (and in person when I can?, but I'm the 'on the bench' member of the  team for the forseeable future...

And it sucks...not how I pictured 2016.

My non Fitness pals are taking over my Facebook feed with Disney trips and awesome travel status. While it's fun to share in their adventures, my latest adventure is going through my closet for a rummage sale because I need to renew some business stuff next month. When is our next vacation/adventure? We don't know.. 2017 maybe?

The idea of it being a Disney trip is WONDERFUL, but that's, honestly, still a pipe dream. Even a weekend away seems out of reach. Planning anything is still next to impossible. If it's not the financial aspect, it's the exhaustion factor - and if it's not me that's exhausted, it's My Sailor, who currently works 2am-12pm, and then takes over baby parenting duties as I work in the evenings chiefly.

Most of our 'quality' time is spent in front of the tv or the cell phones now a days - which equates to low quality for everyone. We try to go to the gym or walks together, but it often devolves into being too tired... As for the thought of being a foster parents? Currently, it is as far from reality as it ever was.

I think Facebook contributes a lot too the feeling of disappointment or discontent. Ignorance is bliss, and if left to a world without Facebook  (yes, I still remember one), I would be less aware of the competitions/events I'm missing, and therefore, less agitated by the situation. I mean, I see folks taking their toddlers/infants to WDW and I long to take my little there too.... but, would it haunt me so much if my phone didn't blink with it several times a day? Likely not...

Disappointment and discontent are bitter tasting vitamin Ds.

So, I realize I have a choice. I can either play the pity party game, or not.

Well, I've decided that I'm not playing anymore. Someone out thereis WISHING they were in my shoes, so what do I REALLY have to be annoyed about?!

Yes, I am grateful that I get to spend so much time with my little one, and I know it won't last forever, but I find, when I'm most fufilled personally,  I bring that recharged, fulfilled person home. And that's as valuable as money in the bank. It makes me a better coach, a better wife, and a better mom.

My Sailor deserves that. The Impossible Girl deserves that too.

So My Sailor and I are doing some talking and we're going to sort things out. We got some much needed help this week so we can breathe a bit, and we know what we're  figuring out a plan that everyone can work with.
I'm really kind of grateful for discontent...
It's a great catalyst for change.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Few Minor Adjustments and Rocky Road

This past weekend I had the pleasure of coaching a few great gals at a Novice Crossfit meet called Festivus. BeanieGirl and I drove about 5 hrs round trip and were rewarded with excellent performances all around. My Sailor, having the day off, got to tackle some much needed household chores, and get some overdue down time.

We spent Sunday (our self proclaimed 'family day' since I often work 6 days a week) battling the bills, tackling the yardwork, and getting some much needed help from our local Buy Nothing group. (Buy Nothing is probably the best social experiment ever, and we're incredibly grateful to be a part of it.)

All in all, a super productive weekend, and we move into the week anxious to continue problem solving, but most of all happy to have such an awesome little family.

While my fitness friends hit milestone after milestone, I get the chance to sit back and be coach for a while. It's fun, but I'll admit I'm just a tiny bit (okay, A LOT) jealous of the fun they are having. I know it's only a matter of time before I get to share that spotlight with them, but I sure do miss competitions. I'm training as best I can as if I have one coming up, but until the check book frees up, I won't be registering for anything any time soon. My Sailor is starting a day shift at work that involves getting up at 2am... sure, he's home by lunch, but it's going to be interesting to balance our Daddy Daughter time and our limited daycare capacity. I'm sure we'll figure it out though.

The long drive with BeanieGirl gave me lots of time to think. I thought about how gorgeous this state is, and how little of it My Sailor and I have actually experienced. That'll need to change. I thought about how lucky I am... I mean, seriously, when thinga have gotten "How am I going to keep the lights on/feed myself?" bad, something has always worked out enough to make things click back into place... thank God! A girl can only skip breakfast for so long!

Friday, March 18, 2016

I Ate Cookies Today. So Sue Me.

That's right, dear readers, it's time to catch you up.

Here we are, finally hitting spring 2016 - after an unusually long, cold, windy, rainy season in Washington. I'm happy to report that the business building is on the slow, steady advance and I have some awesome, new clients I'm pretty excited about. Folks are getting out of training what they  put in, and its exciting in the gym.

I'm getting back to lifting more and more. It still feels frustratingly slow, but I hope to be competing this summer or fall, or both, once again. The mom pouch belly and hips are hanging around, but I'm sure they'll eventually melt off as I keep chipping away at life here.

We've gotten smarter with our bills and are looking forward to all the fun home matinence and work that comes with better weather.

But, yes, you read the title right. While things are generally on the upswing, today I lost sight of that for just a little bit and finished some gluten free (yet not healthy) cookies and bottled Tazo (aka sugar filled) tea on my way home from work. Luckily, it was an hour long commute, so it's not like I was stuffing my face, but it did give me a second to realize it was a very old bad habit coming back to haunt me. I had a bad habit of eating in the car, usually sweet stuff, when heading into a stressful situation. It came as a mild shock to realize that this meant I saw home as 'stressful'.

And, well, it can be. Right now, it's looking like My Sailor will be signing back up for the next re-enlistment. Now, don't get me wrong; I completely support whatever his choice is. It will mean deployments again, for a few years. Which means, on an emotional level, he and Beanie Girl will miss out on 1/2 a year together just about every year from 2-5 years old, and then again from 8-12 years old. That's a bit sad. Add to it that our 'tag team parenting' manuver obviously won't work anymore for work and, well, it's going to be an interesting time. I'm sure we'll figure out something. I'm really lucky to work at a Y and to have some resourceful folks ready to lend a hand if I need one.

But tonight, instead of looking at the big picture, all I could see was the, "he's mad at me because I worked out and didn't rush home" and he has a reason to, since, pike I said, in a few years he may be gone for 1/2 the year, so it's up to us to make quality time where we can.

But the less-than-delicious cookies and too-sweet tea reminded me that, no matter how prepared I am for it, it's still stressful. As long as I recognize it (and don't turn to cookies routinely), we'll be just fine. And, yes, as important as it is for me to take care of every one and everything else, I have to put myself near the top of that list. Even if that means some days asking My Sailor, a friend, or YMCAs Child Watch to watch Beanie Girl for just a few more minutes...

'Cause if Mama ain't happy, no one's happy.

Monday, January 18, 2016

2015 - Notes from The Front

Beanie Girl and I getting after some Overhead Squats @ Rain City Crossfit
Photo Credit: Lisa Holste

Last year was an epic roller coaster, but here we are, sitting pretty at the start of 2016. 
By this time last year, I'd discovered I was pregnant with Beanie Girl and we were waiting to see if Beanie Girl would stick. Stick she did and in August, we got to meet her. As a friend says, "Wall - to Wall Personality" pretty much describes our house. It's given me a tiny glimpse into the world of parenting young children. As a coach, I have a new way to personally relate to my clients that are parents, and I'm incredibly grateful for the patience of all of my clients as we go through this process of constant adaptation necessary to raise small children. As much as I try not to let motherhood effect my work, it's occasionally impossible.
Beanie Girl meets long time friend, November 2015

It's been a profound experience being a mom of an infant. More on that later.... Here are a few other highlights from my 35th year on the planet.
Teach them that the violin isn't just an antiquated orchestra instrument.
Best Stories of 2016 -

River Front Park hike in Spokane WA. STUNNING place!
Photo credit: Sean Humenay
'That Time We Accidently Had To Go To Spokane.'
You see, My Sailor had heard that one of our favorite musicians, violinist Lindsey Stirling, was 'in town' and tickets were a steal! So he jumped on it. About 2 weeks before the concert, we start to make plans and discover that 'in town' meant Spokane, Washington - a 5 and 1/2 hour commute one way.  So instead of driving, we hopped a commuter flight (small seats plus pregnant belly... glad it was a short flight), used a free hotel night I'd accumulated through Expedia, and made it happen. It was a worth while adventure for sure! While I'd heard a lot of negative things about the city, I wouldn't mind going back and poking around for a weekend again. (Though a weekend is PLENTY of time to see it all.)

And that time we cashed in every gift card and frequent flier mile we had, and made it Southern California for the price of a rental car.   
Since I've openly rebelled against the 'Pintrest Pregnancy' that seems to be so popular on social media, the idea of a 'babymoon' seemed a little silly. BUT the idea of going to Disneyland for the price of 1 (steeply discounted) admission made a LOT of sense. Though I opted not to ride a few thrill rides, I had a great time soaking in the 60th.

 We had lots of fun day trips too -
Hubs making good on a long overdue Mariner's Padre Game!

Taking hubs to his first Regional Crossfit Games!
And I had more than a few epic moments in coaching and competeing -

With my Athletes - Post Strongman 2015
Coaching with some familiar faces at another local Strongman Meet
Left, 15 weeks pregnant. Right, 6 months pregnant.
So all in all it was a big year. I made my goal of qualifying for Master's Nationals quite by accident, despite being pregnant, and I learned a LOT about myself, my business, my athletes, my marriage, and, of course, my life last year. I got to meet this little lady too -

So here's my few seconds to gush - Being this little girl's mom is a profound experience. I've never had someone light up like she does when I walk into a room. Having the power to calm nightmares with a single hug or cause a smile with a few seconds of eye contact is not lost on me. Holding the life of another human being in my hands is, obviously, a huge responsibility - one that we're no more or less ready for than any other first-time parents. As her health continues on the upswing, with shrinking cysts and growing everything-else-except-weight-but-we're-working-on-that, we settle in with a bit less worry and a bit more peace of mind. 

I'm sure there will be some day when she'll look at this photo and roll her eyes at me, but one thing is for certain:

Getting to know her is a great adventure.

So as I enter my 36th year, my goals this year are all about continued strength building and continuing to hone my coaching skills.
I have some truly inspirational folks on my roster that remind me every day why I love doing what I do. While we pay off some debt on the homefront, this won't be the year for lavish trips or competing. This will be the year for hand-me-downs and strength building (though it's likely I'll compete in Strongman this year) along with my husband. I'm looking forward to heading back into the competition arena for Olympic Weightlifting in the fall/winter, or in 2017.

Rearranging my life around Beanie Girl hasn't been easy, but it's 100% been worth it.