Streaking.

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We’re… We’re going streaking! We’re going up the quad and to the gymnasium!

Not that kind of streaking.  Maybe about a decade ago, but certainly not now.  No one needs (or wants) to see that bidness.

But I am going for the summer running streak challenge with Runner’s World magazine.  Starting on Memorial Day (Monday, May 27th), through Independence Day (Thursday, July 4th), I’ll have to run at least one mile a day, every day   You can read more about there streak here.  Shouldn’t be too hard, except for days I have to commute outside the city for work.  I leave early and get home late.  So it will be tough to juggle those days.  But it’s a good goal right now as the weather is getting warmer and I can feel myself getting lazier.

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So there you have it.  A commitment etched in the internets.  Nothing like a public proclamation to make you work harder…

Speaking of which, I’ve gotten a few emails about my Invisalign journey (you can read more about that here), and YES, I will share some before and after pics, as well as some tips I have for those going through it or thinking about it.  So far it’s going pretty well.  In the middle of Week 12 and the teeth ARE moving!

And on a complete other side note, I haven’t organized a thing in my house in weeks.  I have vacuumed and mopped and scrubbed and ‘straightened’ through spring cleaning season, but really nothing got full on organized.  So I’m due for a whirlwind sometime soon.  Just have to find the space that needs it most.  Open to suggestions…

Have a great neat Memorial Day Weekend!

My Week Rocked.

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This work week has been one of the best yet in 2013.  I was in a 3-day long offsite training course Monday-Wednesday from 9-5 every day with about 2 hours worth of breaks throughout the day.  Oh and it was casual dress code.  It was amazing.  And the best part is that it was held literally right next to my office so I took advantage of the late start to run to daycare/work each morning, popped into the office to shower and change, then headed across the street for training.  And did the reverse on the way home.  So I was able to sneak in a nice 5 miles each day!  If A & I could run to/from school and work every day it would be awesome.  She loves the jogger and it chopped our commute time in half.  I’ll have to figure out a way to make that happen…

And with all that break time I naturally stuck around the training center to study up on Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services.  Not.  I took full advantage of our breaks to get things done that needed serious doing.  Like returning Christmas gifts and getting a real manicure (you know, not the crappy fake ones I do at home on Saturday nights to make myself feel less dirty drab mom-ish and more cool urban mama-ish).

One of my to-return items was at the Athleta store, which is a new(ish) addition to the Philadelphia shopping scene.  We just got a store on Walnut street last year but I have had yet to pop in.  To say I was pleasantly surprised by both the merchandise and the physical store would be an understatement.  I liked way more things than I thought I would (or should be liking, for that matter – the last thing I need is more workout wear!), and I LOVED the way they organized the store.  I took the pics posted above to give you an idea, but we’ll get back to that in a minute.  For those who haven’t shopped or seen Athleta stuff yet, it’s kind of a Lululemon-meets-EMS/REI-theme-with-a-slightly-Hawaiian-feel.  That’s literally the best way I can describe it.  Price point is still pretty high, but a little better than Lulu.  And since it’s part of the Gap family of brands, you can use coupons/rewards points there which rocks.

But the best part was the ingenious way they organized the store – the four areas are: Run/Gym (cardio and swim wear), Yoga (’nuff said), Hike/Explore (think breathable layers, cargos, packs, lightweight wool), and To/Fro (casual attire that could be worn…you guessed it…to/from the gym or yoga or whatever).  The reclaimed wood and oil rubbed bronze lettering and light fixtures added to the neatness too.  I’ve seen some other stores try to organize the store this way too, but this was the simplest and most “real life” version I’ve ever seen.  Loved it.

So I told the girls behind the counter that I was a professional blogger and wanted to snap a few pics of the store for my site.  They were super flattered and excited about that little white lie.  If only they knew my readership consisted of my friends, my family, a few of my family’s friends, and a few of B’s AWESOME lady friend co-workers.  🙂  But they don’t have to know that.  Let them dream.

And speaking of dreaming, today I was back in the office dreaming of Reporting Services training.  Seriously, other than the fact that I was learning how to write database reports and the code to delpoy them for 3 straight days (which, since I’m the coolest nerd you know, I actually enjoyed), this week rocked.  Best part is that tomorrow is Friday – SAHM day!

Have a great weekend, and check out Athleta if you’re near 18th & Walnut – tell them you saw them featured on this really cool blog you read…

These Things Come in Threes.

green-machineTriplets (duh).  Bad things (apparently).  And juice cleanses (for me at least).  Last week I did my third juice cleanse through Pangaea Earth Foods (remember Juice Cleanses 1 & 2?).  This time B did it with me.  Yep, you read that right.  As with the last two times I dropped a few pounds during the cleanse and felt fresh and clean when it was through – ready to take on a few weeks of healthy eating.  But this time it was definitely a lot harder to make it through the 3 days solid food-free.  Maybe that’s a 3rd time juice cleanse thing?  For what it’s worth, my friend AC agrees.  So that totally makes it a thing.

The pic above is of Juice #1 on Day 2 – “Green Earth Smoothie”.  And yes, it’s been Instagrammed.  Shocker.

Anyone else doing any cleansing?  Body? Home?

A Different Kind of Clean.

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This is WAY overdue (that seems to be a common theme around here lately huh?), but I wanted to post about my first juice cleanse experience…also because I will be embarking on cleanse #2 starting Monday morning.  Yep, I liked it that much that I’m doing it again!  But now that I’ve spoiled the ending for you, let me rewind back to the beginning…

I love to eat.  I also love to run.  Usually the latter keeps the former in check, but I just don’t feel like the equation works the same post-baby.  So, I’ve kind of been on this never-ending quest for skinniness that I’ve never had to go through before.  Squeezing in runs when I can and bringing salads for lunch helps, but I had such a crazy summer with whacky schedules and work projects that I ate like crappola and was feeling like I needed something to kickstart me into a healthier eating regime.  I was also turning 30 and felt fat and frumpy.  Ok, so the 2nd reason was probably my real motivation.  But still.

Juice cleanses seem to be all the range with cool people these days so I was really curious to try one, but couldn’t do it for a while since I was still nursing (more on that 10 month labor of love here and here).  But in August, just after I stopped pumping and right before my birthday (and much needed vacation), I decided I’d give juicing a try.  Luckily I had 3 other co-workers equally excited about the prospect of instant skinniness, so we did it together.

We decided to go with Pangaea Earth Foods‘ 3-day beginner cleanse – 5 juices a day delivered right to our office!  You can see our juice cleanse takeover of our floor’s fridge in the shot below.  Those dark green bags in the middle are all us.  The ordering process could not have been easier, and Erika, the owner, was great.  She totally prepped us for what we were about to go through, and texted us every day to see how we were doing and keep us motivated.  I highly recommend Pangaea to anyone in the Philly area.  It’s small and local and I found most of the juices to actually taste really good – something I have heard is not the case with some local competitors.

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So here’s the drill.  You get 5 juices a day, for 3 days.  (See pic below – look how nice and neatly packaged they are!) The cleanse is really a “raw food diet” in liquid form designed to flush out your system, get rid of toxins, and rejuvenate your whole digestive track.  The theory is we spend a lot of energy breaking down our foods and that makes us sluggish.  Feeling sluggish leads to less exercise and healthy eating, which makes you more sluggish.  And the cycle continues.  So the cleanse kick-starts you out of that.  There are approved raw foods in solid form that you can eat, but we were trying to be hardcore and do juice only.  The approved foods list included things like green veggies, raw seeds and nuts, sashimi, vegetable/miso soup broth, etc.  You can also have as much water as you’d like, and herbal teas too.

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The night before we started I was terrified – I was not confident that I’d be able to make it three days without solid foods (my goal was juice only), ESPECIALLY considering we were going to a Phillies game Monday night (and by the way, if you don’t believe that I didn’t cheat – see below – on your left is the delicious “Almond Love’ night cap aka Juice #5, and on your right is B’s Phillies helmet cup of vanilla and chocolate soft serve…). But in reality it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought, and I felt great 90% of the time I was on the cleanse.  The other 10% is attributable to some bloating I had on the first day from drinking so darn much, and the hunger crankiness I got at a few points during the day.

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I found Monday to be tough because my body was in a bit of shock, but I also had adrenaline going and that “it’s the first day – I can’t screw it up now!” thing going.  I weighed myself Tuesday morning and had already lost 5 lbs!  I knew it was just water weight, but seeing numbers come down on the scale was really motivating, and helped me get through Tuesday with a positive attitude.  Which was much needed since I found it to be the hardest day.  Monday’s adrenaline had worn wore off and I was feeling a tad hungry, but wasn’t yet at the halfway point.  By Wednesday I think my body had adapted because I felt great and even contemplating going another few days with just juice.  But I stuck to just 3 days knowing I’d give it a try again sometime later in the fall (which is now tomorrow!).

For me, the mornings and late afternoon’s were the hardest parts of the day.  Ironically dinnertime was the easiest.  I felt very full by the end of the day (you aren’t eating, but you’re drinking a TON) and just sort of ready to be finished with my juices for the day so I could go to bed.  But during the occasional lull of the workday I was hungry and wanted a snack.  It’s amazing how routine eating can be – I’m still not sure if I was actually hungry, or if the time of day was dictating me to feel that way.

So fast forward to the end.  My total weight loss was 6.5 lbs, and 2 months later I’ve been able to keep half of it off.  The few days following the cleanse I craved healthy foods and just felt great – bye bye sluggishness for sure.  Over time that has gone away a bit, but I learned a lot while cleansing, in particular what the body really needs vs. what it thinks it needs.  As someone with a great tendency (and propensity) to over consume, that was a total wake up call.  I also felt super proud of having accomplished what I set out to do, and had this great sense of being in control about things.  It really was a great experience for me and I knew I’d want to do it again.

So here I am, about to start cleanse #2 tomorrow morning to kick start some healthy eating for the next month or so.  Hoping to look and feel good on the beach for JB’s wedding in Puerto Rico!  And even though I’ve just written a mini-novel on how much I enjoyed cleansing the first time, if you can believe it I’m terrified again.  But we do thrive off challenges here at Keep It Neat so we’re going to rise to the occasion and get our juice on.  Wish me luck!

A Perfect Ten. {Part 2 of 2}

breastfeeding-pumping-nursing-tips-tricks-tidbitsAfter your eyeballs have recovered from reading my novel of a post yesterday about my 10 months of nursing and pumping that came to an end last weekend, here are a few lists I have for those looking for more easily digested reading material.

 Random Things Learned:

  • Breastfeeding is HARD WORK.  It is physically and mentally tough, and it’s all on you.  No one tells you this, so I am.  Be prepared to want to stab your husband as he sleeps peacefully while you nurse in the middle of the night those first few days and weeks.
  • Does this kid do anything but eat?! Newborns nurse very frequently (think 10-12 times a day), and sometimes a nursing session can be up to 45 minutes!  So by the time you finish it’s basically time to start again.  Because of this, you will not sleep as much as your formula-feeding friends, and will probably want to claw their well-rested eyes out on a few occasions too.
  • Your boobs are more like a sprinkler than a faucet.  Who knew?!  No real relevance here but this blew my mind.
  • Pumping is confusing.  Figuring out how and when to pump is difficult and confusing (if you’re trying to establish nursing when do you have time to pump?!).  Wait a few weeks to try it, and try pumping a little bit after each nursing session.  You won’t get much but that’s not because you suck at pumping, it’s because a) obviously you just fed your kid, and b) they only take a few teaspoons at a time in the beginning so your body hasn’t ramped up supply yet.
  • Building a freezer stash seems impossible.  But it’s not.  Try getting those little bits at a time and eventually you’ll have enough for a full bottle.  Try having your husband feed that to your baby one time while you skip the nursing session and pump instead.  You should be able to get almost a full feeding and can add to that the other little bits that you keep getting after feedings  All of this will snowball into a full blown supply and you will be amazed.  At one point I had over 150 ounces of B-milk in our freezer (just over a gallon!)
  • Breastfeeding makes you thirsty.  VERY thirsty.  I mean just think about all that liquid your body is producing and giving away to someone else.  I guzzled water like none other for the first few months.

Products That Are Awesome:

  • Nipple Shield.  Already mentioned them, but in case you skipped my sob story yesterday, the Medela Contact Nipple Shields are very helpful in the beginning.
  • Nursing Pillow.  I thought these were gimmicky.  They’re not.  So helpful with a C-section, and even weeks and months later they help keep your kid propped up and in place.  I was even able to go “hands free” in the beginning when A didn’t move.  I usually replied to emails during this time.  If you heard from me via email in October or November there’s almost a 100% chance I was nursing when I sent it.
  • Nursing Tank Tops.  Comfortable, supportive, and don’t scream “I’m a lactating mom!”.  These particular ones were extra thick and long so I felt really “held in”.  The top flaps down for convenient and more discreet nursing (no post-partum belly popping out while your shirt is up).
  • Medela Freestyle Pump.  Big price tag, but beyond worth it if you’re in this for the long haul.  Cannot say enough how convenient this small pump was.
  • Hands Free Bustier.  All that being said about the pump…it is NOT hands free as advertised.  Well, it is, if you are going to stand still and let yourself look like Robo-Boobs.  The system they provide does not allow for what I really consider to be “hands free”.   I wanted to be able to do anything and everything with my pump on.  Couldn’t have done it without one of these bustiers.  I used this every single day for my 10 months of nursing/pumping.
  • Medela Quick Clean Wipes.  Quick?  Yes please.  Clean?  Gimme!  A very necessary product to have if you are pumping on the go.
  • The Internet.  There is so much information out there and so much dialogue between nursing moms.  You can find the answer to almost anything if you search long enough!  Some of the ones I found the most helpful:

 

Pumping at Work (and in the car, and on an airplane, and at bachelorette parties, and at weddings…)

I had pumping at work down to a science.  From when A was 3 months (when I returned to work) until 6 months I pumped THREE times a day at work alone!  At 6 months I went down to twice during the workday, and at 9 months I went down to just once a day until I stopped last weekend.  I can’t even begin to guess how many ounces of B-milk I brought home during that time…

What helped (at Work):

  • All of the products mentioned above make pumping WAY easier.  For long term pumping on the go, invest in a good pump, the bustier, and the wipes.
  • Having a duplicate set of pump parts and tubing (usually available from your pump’s manufacturer’s website).  I left these at work so I didn’t have to lug my entire bag of equipment back and forth every single day.  I just carried my bottles (empty in the morning, full in the evening) and the actual pump unit.  I used one of these bags to hold what I was carrying back and forth, and no one ever knew that it wasn’t my lunch bag.
  • I’m lucky enough to have a lactation room in the building which obviously is a huge help.  But I’ve heard/read lots of stories of moms having to rig screens in cubicles, or find janitor closets, etc.  If you work for a company larger than 500 people I believe there are legal requirements for providing you with a sanitary and safe space to do your thang.  Google should be able to help you here.
  • No need to wear nursing clothes, but do think about what will be easiest to lift up/take off for those months you are pumping several times a day.  I actually found dresses were great because I could unzip them to my waist and remain (almost) fully dressed.
  • Having a smartphone/blackberry.  I didn’t like feeling unproductive while pumping, it made me feel anxious and guilty.  Being able to take care of any calls or emails was a bit strange to do in our lactation room, but made me feel better about the time away from my desk.

Car:

I pumped in the car on several occasions.  It’s difficult because of the possibility of people seeing you, and the seat belt situation.  A nursing cover or blanket can cover up what you’re doing though.  I also only ever used my hand pump since it was more discreet to just slide under the cover.  This wasn’t that difficult and a great way to kill 2 birds with one stone.  I mean what else would you be doing in the car?!

Airplanes:

You may remember my trip to Miami for AC’s bachelorette party while I was still pumping.  Fun times.  You probably don’t remember that I pumped mid-flight.  Probably somewhere over DC/Virginia if I had to guess.  I was still pumping every 4ish hours during the day at that time so I pumped before I left my house, and wanted to squeeze in my next session on the plane rather than when I arrived and reunited with all my friends (“HI!  So excited to see you!  I’ll be right back, I have to drain my boobs!”).  I used my hand pump because I didn’t feel like freaking people out and bringing a foreign electronic object into the lavatory.  I covered the seat and all surfaces with paper towels and got down to business.  I used my clean wipes afterwards and kept the milk in a smaller bag with a mini cooler in my carry on.

Bachelorette Parties/Weddings

Well, AC’s bach and wedding were the only two where I’ve had to do this, but I did bring my hand pump to 2 other weddings when A was 6 weeks old and again when she was 3 months.  I ended up not using it because I didn’t like the bathroom situation and we weren’t out that late.  So I went about 6 hours without pumping.  Probably a lot longer than most people do when their babies were that age but it didn’t seem to hurt my supply, or my boobs.

AC’s wedding was different since I was in the wedding and we were out for pictures/ceremony/more pictures for several hours before we even got to the reception.  So if I didn’t pump at some point throughout the day it would be 12+ hours without.  Not fun.  So upon arriving at the reception site, I casually mentioned it to a female member of the staff who was like, “No one told me!  Oh come with me, we’ll get you a private place right away!”  Could. Not. Have. Been. More. Accomodating.  I was floored.  It was a perfect situation.  I brought the real deal freestyle pump for this (and bustier!) and used my quick clean wipes for parts and mini cooler for the milk.  It was awkward to have a bag (I used a small tote to conceal things), but since we were in the wedding a couple of people had bags with extra shoes, make-up, etc.

Pumping at events like this can be awkward, but I’ve found people to be very accommodating if you just explain to them what is going on and what it is that you need.  It also helps if you have awesome friends who don’t care that you lactate while everyone else is getting their bachelorette bash on.  Thanks guys.  🙂