Thursday, August 22, 2013

31 Weeks

Hey there greenies, long time no see! Sorry for my absence, I went back to my teaching job a few weeks ago and life has been pretty busy ever since.  As you can see, Mila has been growing right along and I truly have been feeling really good. As I tell all the my friends and family, "She is treating me pretty well." So thanks for that Mila!

This week's photo background: So in honor of my job and being back to work, this week's photo location is outside my school!

One thing that I love about teaching 3-5 year olds is that they hardly even notice, or comment about my ever-growing belly. It often takes me saying, "You know Baby my belly..." and they're like, "Oh that's what that is!"
Here I am in my preschool classroom (clearly I was feeling
stripes for this week's photos!).
I really appreciate their innocence to my belly right now and to not be nagged and told daily, "Whoa you are getting big! You're about to pop! When is that baby coming out, tomorrow?" To them, I'm just their teacher who reads books, plays with them, and of course dances around the room from time to time.   ( :

My students "checking" in on Baby Mila.

Questions of the week:

1. How big is the baby (with Avery's help)?

Oh boy did a spunky little princess join us for this week's photo shoot!  During the potty training I did with Avery this summer, we spent a lot of time in our living room, learning how to use her portable little pink potty and as a result we watch a lot of movies...specifically Disney princess movies and now she is so hooked! Her favorite princesses include: Cinderella (as seen by her dress above), Rapunzel, Bell, and Ariel. So thanks to her Grandma Cheryl and Papa Jerry for this fun, pre-Halloween costume that she loves to wear almost daily (even with the over-sized gloves!).

Mila's head of lettuce "food size" this week, lent it self perfectly for dancing too, which Avery did after we got the official picture for the week out of the way!

Time to dance Mila!

Then my little "Cinderella" went inside, took the lettuce and told us, "I going to make you a wait a minute." This is what was waiting for me when went in the living room...

Who knew Cinderella had such great salad-making skills?!

2. What I'm eating...
Pancakes are my favorite right now! Usually I like my "Sneaky Spinach Pancakes" but during this pregnancy, I've been craving just  plain ol' pancakes. Well, gluten-free, vegan pancakes that is, but still lots of pancakes!

3. Favorite moment of the week: 

A funny story came from being back at my teaching job and being "this pregnant". I still feel great and have no problem getting up and down and all around with my students, but sometimes I forget just how big I really am!
Here I am re-enacting how Baby Mila "blocked" the one
of our vocabulary words this week!

So while reviewing our "vocabulary words for the week", which are displayed below my interactive whiteboard, I was pointing to the picture/words and when I got to the last one (Pete the Cat)... no one said anything! I was like, "We just read this story and we even made a pretend Pete the Cat at our table activity, why doesn't anybody know this?" That's when my para in the class chimed in and said, "Umm, Ashley, Baby Mila is kind of blocking that last picture there!" Those poor kiddos couldn't see a thing, no wonder it was so quiet. Ha! I couldn't stop laughing... not exactly a problem I had before I was pregnant! Let's just say I'm a little more mindful of my belly placement/blocking now. 

See you in two weeks for the next update!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

29 Weeks

Hey greenies! It's time for a Baby Mila update. We're moving right along into the 3rd trimester so it feels pretty exciting to know that in a few weeks (try 11) Mila will be here!  Here I am now at 29 weeks...

This week's photo background: I returned to Unity Village, a local church and school, for this week's photo background. Back at my 15 week update I used an intricate set of doors as my background and this week I came back to use these cool, aged columns. What can I say this place has some awesome photo locations!

Aged columns on the side of a doorway at Unity Village.

Here's a view of the entire doorway.
The last time we visited Unity was in May, and since then the scenery had changed a bit...the grass was greener, the "big fountains" were on, and the rose bushes were in full bloom.  What a beautiful place! Avery tagged along, but was not in the mood for photos for that day.

I promise I will venture to a new location for the next belly photo shoot! ( :

Questions of the week:

1. How big is the baby (with Avery's help)?
It's my acorn squash sister..."Mila"!

Fast forward a day later and Avery was more than happy to share about Mila's food size this week: an acorn squash! Seems like a size downgrade from 27 week's cauliflower, but I'm going with it. It will be funny to see how these pictures change as the food size keeps getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger!

I've been noticing this cute little dimple
in her chin lately, love it!

Kisses for "Mila".

Now although she's kissing pretend Mila here, Avery's had some "new baby issues" lately, mainly towards Mila's nursery. We've been putting the finishing touches on the room, and as more friends and family come by to see it...Avery gets a bit upset. She'll tell them,  "Here come see MY room."

In fact when my mom and I were driving in the car one day we were discussing the pom pom arrangement we made for Mila's room and Avery stopped us to say, "You no talk about pom poms in the car. You talk about them later." Whoa sister, chill it out!

We try out best to balance our attention to Mila and her room and Avery, just so she feels like she's still important too.  We also try to have her help us with the room, such as picking out toys to put on her shelf, or letting her play in her bed (who knew that could be so fun?), but it's interesting to see how some jealousy is already starting to come out.

On the flip side, when it comes to my belly, Avery gives it nothing but love. Always kissing it, hugging it, and saying, "Hi Mila, Mila, Mila!" (Must be said in repetitions of three). So we'll see how the journey progresses. I'm sure everything will change once Mila is really here...not just a room to fill with more things or just a big belly to hug on!

2. What I'm eating...
My cravings came straight out of my childhood this week, the first being vegan Parmesan cheese and noodles. Probably sounds like an odd combo, but when I was younger the first thing I learned how to "cook" on my own were noodles (so hard I know) and at the time I was obsessed with Kraft Parmesan Cheese. So I combined the two and created, "Parmesan Noodles". Yes, it was a bit dry, but I loved it! 

So when I saw this vegan Parmesan cheese the other day at my local health food store, something struck a memory with me and I just had to try it! Luckily it was vegan, GMO-free, and carrageenan-free (a new food ingredient I now avoid that I will be blogging about soon), so I got some and went right home and made some "Parmesan Noodles."

My "Vegan Parmesan Noodles".

The noodles and Parmesan did not disappoint and I think I might have even got Avery hooked on them now too, because she is always asking for "shake shake cheese" with her noodles.  ( :

Now the cravings didn't end there, another childhood favorite came calling...Rice Krispie Treats. Now it's been years since I've had real Rice Krispie Treats, but when I saw an organic version at my local health food store, I gave them a try.  Now although they weren't bad, I had an itching feeling that I could make them myself...and that I could even make them taste better!

"Nicer Krispie Squares"

Boy was I right! I found a cool, gluten-free and vegan recipe called, "Nicer Krispie Squares" from Dreena Burton's Plant-Powered Kitchen, which you can find here. I love the healthy ingredient list (gluten-free brown rice cereal, cashew butter, brown rice syrup, vanilla, and xylitol) and how they don't give me that sugary-feeling afterwards.  If you love Rice Krispie Treats, you've got to give these a try, they seriously taste just like the real thing, only healthier!

The craving + and the "bump"
causing the craving.

3. Anything new this week?  I think my belly has officially graduated into what I'm going to call "belly size: large." You how clothing sizes run: small, medium, large, etc. Well, this week my pregnancy belly feels like it's at a "large" and growing! Case in point, my previous belly sizes:




In case you're wondering, here's some characteristics of the "belly size: large":
  • only being able to sleep in two positions: on the left side or the right side (because laying on your back is no longer an option thanks to a growing, heavy baby)
  • having to turn your body to the side when chopping food at the counter, cooking at the stove or washing dishes because your belly sticks out so much that you have to hunch over just to reach what you're trying to do (refer to Rice Krispie picture above)
  • all the shirts you were trying to make fit from "pre-pregnancy" or early pregnancy have become tight, stretched, and uncomfortable (and they're probably showing some of your low belly at this point as well)
  • baby movements going from being just kicks to full on swimming-like motions that you swear even people across the room can see
  • you start getting asked the question, "So when are you due?" and when you reply they say, "Oh..."

Now don't get me wrong, I love the "belly size: large" I'm at right now because it means that Mila is one happy, healthy growing girl. I just find it funny that once you hit THIS belly size, pregnancy just seems to change the way you do EVERYTHING, from sleeping to walking to just watching TV. Now considering the fact that I still have 11 weeks to go, I have a feeling that I'm on track to graduate up to "belly size: extra large" which is just fine with me. Let the growing continue Mila, you can take up all the belly you want.

Anyone else relate to this feeling of the different belly sizes and how once you reached "the large size" that everything changed? Share below!

See you in two weeks for the next update where I'll be making my way into the 30's (weeks that is).  ( :

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Prenatal Workout Routine

Well greenies I'm taking a green break to talk about one of my favorite pregnancy topics...prenatal exercise! I've set up a simple routine for staying healthy and fit this pregnancy and today I'm going to share it with you. Now I've posted about my prenatal workouts before back when I was pregnant with Avery, but just as each pregnancy is different, so are my workouts. Well, not by much, since I'm a creature of habit, but I figured an update was due as to what I do NOW to stay active and healthy this pregnancy.

Why workout when you're pregnant?
While I'm sure this is a no-brainer to most people, the reasons I workout when I'm pregnant include: 
  • Improving my health and that of my baby's (more oxygen and blood flowing through my body and to my baby).  I also feel much more relaxed and less tense after a workout, which leads me to feel much less of the common aches and pains that come from being pregnant. 
  • Chance to strengthen my body and build endurance for labor and delivery. I had Avery naturally, here at home, so I know the work that goes into doing that and I want to do everything I can now to prepare my body to take on and succeed in that challenge when it comes in just a few short months. 
  • Make the transition back to my pre-pregnancy weight and fitness level much easier. Below you can see me 1 day after birth with Avery and then 6 months after birth. Continuing my workouts during her pregnancy helped me not only jump right back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but also lose a few more additional pounds. Read more about my "Body After Birth" journey here.

When do I workout?
I workout daily for 45 minutes to 1 hour. During the school year (I'm a teacher) I workout in the morning, before Avery wakes up. On the weekends and during the summer, I'll often workout during her nap time.  Working out with a toddler is a bit challenging, so it always works better for me (and her) to just workout when she's asleep. 

Where do I workout? 
I mainly workout in my basement. I have a treadmill (a Proform Crosswalk treadmill), a TV, and a yoga mat. Okay well, it also doubles as my office too, and sometimes a playroom for Avery, but the thing I love most about it is that it allows me to workout, without excuses, in the comfort of my own home. I have air conditioning in the summer, heat in the winter, a bathroom nearby, and if I need a snack I just head up the stairs. I don't have to drive anywhere, worry about daycare, or have my workout cancelled because of various weather conditions. I guess you could say I'm a bit high-maintenance in my workout setup, but it gives me the ability to workout every, single day....without anything getting in my way (other than a toddler who doesn't want to nap) and for me that works. 

Maybe gyms are your thing, or being in the great outdoors...that's great! As long as you find something that works for you and that you want to keep doing every day, then it's all good!

What type of workouts do I do? 
As I said before, I'm a creature of habit. I love routines, order, and structure. So it only makes since that my prenatal workout routine is nice and planned out. Here's a visual of the 3 types of workouts I do and how I rotate them...

In this week's video I break down how I do each of those workouts and share my favorite workout DVDs...

Let's look at each day in a little bit more detail, starting with...
Day 1: Cardio
As I said in the video, the most common place I get my cardio in is on my treadmill. When I mean cardio, I'm referring to walking. Before I was pregnant, I did intervals of running and walking, but since becoming pregnant, I toned it down a notch and now just walk. To keep the calorie burn up and build my endurance, I work on increasing the incline of the treadmill.  An average incline for my treadmill is about 5.0 on a decent day, somedays higher and somedays lower.

Apparently I was walking so fast I made
the picture blur...doubt it-lol! 

Often times when I'm walking on the treadmill I will read books (for future blog posts), watch documentaries on my TV, or even write in my planner (yeah the writing gets a little messy when you're walking at the same time, but that's okay!).  As you can tell I have a quote board that I look at on the wall in front of my treadmill which I've filled with some of my favorite quotes from Pinterest. These quotes give me inspiration to make it through my workout and some I even keep in my mind as I go about my day. Read more about my quote board here

My treadmill set up (quote board included).
Now since I've been off for summer break from my teaching job, and the weather is nice here in the Midwest I  take my cardio outdoors and go for a walk around our neighborhood with Avery. Our walks last about an hour still.  Not only do we get to soak up a little sunshine, it leads to great conversations between her and I about nature, and it's nice to mix up my cardio workout a bit. I also utilize outdoor walks with Avery during the school year, but just on the weekends.

Taking our cardio outdoors!
These walks are also great for when I've worked through one of her naps and now realize I'm stuck trying to workout with a toddler! But it's no worries here, Avery will glad hop in the stroller, and off we go! I just have to make sure and pack her some snacks and a drink and then we're all set. I guess I should probably look into a double stroller for when Mila arrives!

Day 2: Pilates
The next type of workout I do is pilates. I discovered pilates in my pregnancy with Avery and I love it! It's a bit like yoga/dance/stretching/strength's awesome. You can read about some of my favorite pilates DVDs that I like to do when I'm not pregnant, here and I swear they really helped me get back to my pre-pregnancy weight once Avery was born.

Pilates time! 

But since I'm pregnant right now, I have two DVDs that I alternate between. The first is 10 Minute Solutions Prenatal Pilates.  This DVD consists of five, ten minute workout segments. There's one for lower body, upper body, full body, stretching and even a core got that right...core workouts when you're pregnant! Obviously I'm not doing traditional sit ups or crunches which aren't safe to do when you're pregnant, but there are still a variety of exercises I can do with the support of a pillow to work my abdominal muscles. Here's a preview of that workout DVD...

With this pregnancy, I was getting a little bored with just that pilates DVD so I gave Suzanne Bowen's Slim & Toned Prenatal Barre Workout a try and I fell in love. I used to do Suzanne Bowen's 10 Minute Solutions Pilates Perfect Body DVD before I was pregnant, and so I was happy to try using her as an instructor again....isn't funny how I talk about her like I was in a real class with her? Nope just a virtual class through my TV!  And just as with that DVD, this prenatal workout DVD seemed simple enough as I was going along, but afterwards I was sore for days! So if you're going to try this DVD be sure to EASE IN to doing it.

There are four sections: a lower body, upper body, a cardio sculpt, and then stretching. The workout emphasizes the "Barre Method" which according to the website :

"The method is influenced by classical and modern dance (though it is not a dance class) and utilizes a barre to achieve optimal positioning. Insights from Pilates, yoga, and orthopedic stretching also balance the method’s unique approach."

So even though it's not a true "pilates" workout it does emphasize some pilates techniques, which is why I include it on this "Pilates day". What I love about this DVD is that it incorporates small movements (like a ballet-type squat and which you do over and over and over again) and it seems easy in the beginning, it seems easy. But after awhile you start to feel the burn and start to shake, and boy do you feel it the next day! This is one tough workout, but I love how I feel after doing it.

Here's preview of this DVD...

Day 3: Yoga
This brings us to the last day of my workout routine, my yoga day. I love yoga and aside from being a great workout it helps me to relax and stretch my muscles...a must when you're pregnant. I've tried tons of prenatal yoga DVDs between this pregnancy and Avery's pregnancy, and many of them were so slow and boring that I was practically falling asleep!

Let's get our "yoga on" Mila!

But I struck gold when I found The Divine Mother Prenatal Yoga Series by Anna Getty. It's the perfect balance between taking it easy and challenging yourself.  The first time I did this DVD during Avery's pregnancy, I felt like it was geared perfectly for a pregnant mom. Not only did it gently work and stretch the areas I feel the most discomfort in (back, neck, low abdomen), it also helped me feel much more connected to my baby! I highly recommend this one.


The only trouble is the that the DVD I linked on Amazon, in a used condition costs around $38!  Not sure why it's so expensive other than the fact that they aren't making it anymore or something, but you might try finding it on Netflix if you have that other another used DVD website.

Then what? Repeat! 
Now obviously, I don't stick to this routine completely. Sometimes it will be a treadmill day and I just feel like doing yoga, or maybe it will be a nice day so I'll take Avery out for a walk instead of doing pilates ..and that's okay! I give myself some wiggle room with my schedule and follow what feels best for my body (and my mood). I just try to get a good variety of the three types of workouts in my workout routine that week, and as long as I do that, I feel good. 

So there you have it, my prenatal workout routine! If you have any questions feel free to ask them below or if you have a favorite type of workout or workout DVD that you did or are currently doing while pregnant you can share that too! 

Happy exercising pregnant mamas! 

*Disclaimer: By no means am I a doctor or personal trainer, so be sure to talk with your doctor or midwife to find a prenatal workout that works best for you and your baby.*

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