Tuesday, January 26, 2016


For all you other bloggers out there, how do you get the heading to show up? Mine either disappears or it adds on part of my first sentence. I used to be technologically-savvy, but not anymore. My husband laughs at me and my aversion to touchscreen phones, and we had a friend that once referred to me as "29 going on 92" (but that was because I was getting really into crocheting, a hobby I was never great at, but I may give it another go once the baby is born).

Anyways, I decided to post an update. I felt like I was just droning on each day, so I took a few days off from blogging, did a little scrapbooking and tidied up what will become the baby's room. Plus, as my due date approached, I was feeling a little crankier and didn't do as much cooking. Saturday my husband came home from work and asked what was for dinner. I said I was uncomfortable and feeling moody, so he asked "Chinese or pizza"? Wonderful answer from my wonderful husband :) So we ordered BBQ chicken pizza and pregnant wife was kept happy :)

As for dance, I managed to do warm up skips and the ceili portion of class, although already by the second ceili dance, all pep had left my step and I was just muddling through. I walked through a beginner reel step that we were supposed to learn in case it becomes part of a St. Patrick's Day performance routine, and then, aside from stretching, I was done for the night. At least I am a good visual learner, so even by just watching, it helps me. Like I noticed that in the slip jig, where I was landing a jump two-footed, I was actually just supposed to be landing on one foot. Still hoping I will be cleared to go back to my usual activities by St. Patrick's Day. I found out I might be traveling to see family the weekend of the Peach State Feis, which was one of the feisanna I was wanting to do this spring. Maybe I can do Buckeye State Feis instead, but that will give me less time to prepare, and it fills so fast, I might have to register before I am actually back at dance post-pregnancy. So I'm hoping that my return to feising won't have to be postponed until later this summer. Also, I think my brother's wedding conflicts with a dance performance, so my schedule for returning to dance is just all messed up right now. But I'll get there eventually.

We did have a successful tofu dinner tonight, sweet and sour soy with tofu-fried rice. My husband even went back for seconds! I don't know that I would ever make the tofu-fried rice again, though. It got too complicated trying to get everything done, so I think I'll just stick to plain rice next time. These recipes were from the "101 Things to Do with Tofu" book.

A hearty dinner from last week was another Self magazine one, Chicken and White Bean Stew, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/organic-chicken-and-white-bean-stew-with-spinach-and-slow-roasted-tomatoes-232346. It was tasty, hearty, and perfect for a cold day. Plus, my husband didn't even realize the original recipe called for bacon (I left that out since I don't eat pork). I also omitted the celery, used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth (because that's what we had on hand), left out the shallots, and used microwaved, frozen carrots and spinach. I thought the slow-roasted tomatoes tasted a little too thyme-heavy, but I'm not sure if it was because I don't really like thyme or if it was because I used ground thyme instead of fresh. Also, I just made half the recipe, because it was supposed to make 8 servings, but we went through the leftovers really fast, so maybe I should have made more. Here's a picture of what mine looked like...

If you don't hear from me soon, it could be because I've gone into labor. It should be any day now! I think I might go to dance this week just to watch and to get out of the house, but not actually dance (unless they have an uneven number for ceili, then I might be talked into it).

Monday, January 18, 2016

Budgeting for Dance

So even though I will be taking a couple months off from dance, I thought this was a timely topic because after my college loan payment comes out of my account later this week, I will have run out of the money I saved up back when I was still working. Which means I will be dependent on my husband for everything. I feel sort of useless, but child care costs so much that it makes more sense for me to stay home with the kid rather than us spending most of my salary to pay for child care. Plus, being in a new city, I wouldn't even know where to start with the child care search.

The bills are accounted for, but how to pay for my hobbies? Some of my passions aren't too costly. When I was involved with community theater, it was mostly free, just costing time and the occasional shoe, tights, or make-up purchase. As for scrapbooking, I have so many scrapbook supplies already that my main expense is just printing photos. Running is pretty cheap, except for new shoes every 500 miles or so. Most local races are reasonably priced, costing 25-50% of the cost of the average feis (and with the running race, your t-shirt cost is included in the entry fee!). I only do a "destination" race (Florida, DC, etc.) every 2 years or so. I suppose you could chalk that up to my travel hobby, though, which can be expensive, even though I have learned how to travel fairly cheaply. And I can choose when to travel....it's not like a dance fee that has to be paid every month. 

Right now, since I am in a once-a-week adult class, my dance costs are pretty manageable. Even at my old school, I thought the fees were really reasonable, though dance-related costs can add up, after you figure in all the extras. So here are the top 6 ways I got creative with saving/making money for dance:

1. Keep non-dance related costs down- I drive a car with 211K miles on it, but I paid it off back in 2010, I take good care of it, and it gets more than 30 mpg on the highway. I don't typically buy many new clothes. Pre-pregnancy, my closet was filled with clothes slowly accumulated from about 2007 - 2015 (although I do have a dress that I bought in 1999 that fit me back in the spring). Shopping for maternity clothes was almost a treat because it had been a long time since I had bought that many new clothes! I gave up regular pedicures around the time that I started Irish dance, and we make our coffee at home. It has been a few years since I last went to a Starbucks. I like experiences more than things, and dance is one experience I don't want to miss out on!

2. Buy used- The last time I bought soft shoes, I got them out of the used shoe bin for less than half of what a new pair would cost. Normally it would weird me out to buy used shoes, but since they came from one of my classmates, I was okay with it. If I ever get a solo dress, I will definitely buy used.

3. Borrow and barter- I have always worn a school dress, and at my previous 2 schools, school dresses were rented. The "barter" part of this one comes in because I got a good deal on a dress from another adult dancer because we were friends, I had just moved, and she was about to move, so I gave her a bunch of boxes and Rubbermaid bins that we were done with.

4. Sell stuff on ebay- I'm not necessarily talking dance-themed stuff, although if you are creative and make stuff, that's awesome! One year when I was just working part-time, I started selling stuff I had hoarded since my childhood in order to make some extra cash. My wig, blister booties, and half of a workshop fee were paid for with the proceeds from vintage Care Bears, My Little Ponies, Rainbow Brites, and She-Ras.

5. Shop around- The bun wig I wanted was $30 at a feis. I went home empty-handed and got a suggestion from another adult dancer on dance.net about a cheaper bun wig. $10 plus less than $3 shipping later, I got a bun wig that still blended in with my classmates and got me a compliment at a feis. My blister booties actually came from a rollerblading website instead of from a dance vendor. 

6. Get creative- This includes: taking a Megabus to a farther-away feis, asking for a dance jacket for a Christmas present, hot-gluing a piece of a hair barrette to a Wal-mart headband to make a custom one to match my dress, booking hotel rooms with Priceline or hotel reward programs, and using my old university marching band uniform bag for a dress bag (we had to buy monogrammed uniform bags freshman year...since I've always had a-line stretch velvet dresses or soft circle skirts, I haven't had a need for a triangle dress bag yet, so I might as well get more use out of something I already have). Dance means a lot to me so I will do everything I can to scrimp and save to ensure I don't have to give up this activity :)

While the adult Irish dance camp at CRC is out of the question again this year (last year I couldn't get the days off work, this year little one will be too small for me to leave for a week), I am still trying to figure out how to manage that cost...I better start ransacking my closet now for stuff to sell on ebay or at a yard sale! Anyone else have any ideas?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

It's about that time...

Well, I'm crossing into that uncomfortable stage of pregnancy, though I am still nervous about the labor process and being a mom. My doctor's appointment was uneventful, so I went to dance on Thursday night. I managed to do the warm-up skips and the ceili portion of the evening. When we split into groups to work on our steps, the advanced group of adults were all working on the soft shoe steps to music, so really, all I could do was watch. While I know I am blessed to have a healthy pregnancy, it is still hard for me to be okay with just being on the sidelines, watching. As my Facebook news feed filled with feis results this weekend, I again was a little sad that I was missing out. Can I be both happy for the baby and sad about my body at the same time? I think about how athletic I used to be just 7 or 8 months ago. Since it's my first pregnancy, I don't know how I will bounce back, but I do hope to get back to my pre-pregnancy physical condition at some point in the next year or so. 

During hard shoe time at class, I did walk through my particularly troublesome treble jig step. That's the one step that I will likely have the most trouble getting feis-ready. The others I should be able to get up to speed and with music (I hope) fairly easily, especially since I could do 1 of the reel steps and 1 of the treble jig steps before I got too pregnant. I'm hoping that I am not lazy about hopping and kicking my bum post-pregnancy, though. Good technique was one thing that really went out the window the bigger and heavier I got. I did the math and I am literally 1/3 bigger than I used to be. When shampoo or soap or anything comes with, "Now 33% more, free!" it is a good thing, but increasing my size by 33% in 8 months (and the majority of it being on the front of my torso) just gives me a backache.

So my dance class is making plans for stuff, which is cool, because I never had this adult camaraderie with my dance classmates before. I'll of course have to miss out on performing next month, but not because I will be too pregnant, but it's because I won't have the clearance from my doctor to resume normal exercise post-pregnancy yet. Yikes! That means it's almost go time! And they are planning on going to a couple of shows, but I'll have to see if my husband can watch the baby those nights! I've never had to worry about planning for childcare before. My life is about to change, and even though I've been preparing for it ever since that first positive pregnancy test on May 30, it still doesn't mean I'm completely ready! Ready or not, though, the adventure will begin soon. Tomorrow, we'll see if my doctor has any more details about how soon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

So my Farmer's Market Fettuccini looked drastically different than the magazine picture...for starters, I didn't use fettuccini, I used whole wheat rotini. We had it on hand, and I typically make less of a mess with shorter pasta (my husband jokes that he's not going to be able to tell which is my spot at the table and which is the kid's, based on crumbs/mess). Also, I wasn't quite sure how to "julienne," so I just chopped the 3 not-so-small zucchini and threw in one of the longer yellow squash (rather than squash blossoms). My husband saw the bowl nearly full of zucchini and was like, 'I don't think we need very much squash.' Other adaptations were leaving out the fennel seed, switching the type of vinegar (see previous discussions on not wanting a cupboard full of vinegar varieties), using frozen spinach (cooking it in the microwave first), and leaving out the basil (just because we didn't have any). My version of cooking is definitely more utilitarian than elegant, but it still turned out to be a decent dish, very hearty, with plenty of leftovers. I'm sure the basil would have added more flavor, so we seasoned it up with some sprinkles of Parmesan cheese (not as healthy, but we didn't go overboard).

In other news, I'm still trying to figure out how to use a heading so that it shows up on the blog post and in the descriptions, without including half of my first sentence in the descriptions of each blog post on the right side. I just didn't bother with a title for this post. New at this whole blogger thing, having given up my Livejournal posting a decade or so ago, after getting Facebook. And since that was pre-Facebook, it was mostly just status updates and talking about college life, rather than having a purposeful topic. Speaking of college, I had a friend in college who took an Irish dance class through the phys. ed. department at our university. Even though it was just a recreational class, sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I would have started Irish dance in September 2002 instead of December 2010, but at the time, I was in 2nd semester tap dance, and I didn't want to start over as a beginner in something else (so instead I waited more than 8 years to become an Irish dance beginner). Maybe I would have just learned the basics and given it up after a semester or 2 or 3. I didn't exactly live near an Irish dance school for the first few years after graduating college anyways. Either way, I can't change the past.

As for the immediate future, as long as I have a good check-up today, I am going to go to dance class Thursday and just walk through/muddle through whatever I feel comfortable with, but I think it will be my last time actually dancing until probably St. Patrick's Day. By next week, I just feel like I will be getting a little too close to my due date to be skipping around. I might end up going and watching dance next week, just to stay connected and maybe learn stuff by watching. I've already gone to 1 feis as just a spectator to cheer on my classmates and adult Irish dance friends. While it was a little frustrating being on the sidelines, I knew the St. Patrick's Day dance (which I had done at a performance 3 weeks prior to the feis) was the only one I probably would have had the stamina to complete. Besides, I couldn't really fit into anything to wear to perform at a feis anyways.

I'll try to update again after class on Thursday.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Yummy Chicken Burritos

Even though I got this recipe from Self magazine, it also appears online at http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/chicken-burritos-230293, so I thought I'd share, especially since it is going in the "keep" pile of recipes (unlike the Ravioli Lasagna I made the other night...which was too cheesy, and I rarely say anything is too cheesy). We used boneless, skinless, chicken tenderloins and baked them first, since we got a large pack of chicken and cooked it all at once (some of it is still in the fridge waiting to be made into chicken curry). We also opted for medium salsa (no sense in spicy food sending me into labor yet) and lowfat, rather than nonfat sour cream, since we still had sour cream left over from the delicious spinach artichoke dip we made for the adult Irish dance class Christmas party. Also, I think we used less spinach in the burritos than suggested, so slightly less healthy, but still tasty, easy, and mostly healthy. Tonight we are trying this pasta recipe from Self magazine, http://www.self.com/food/recipes/2004/09/farmers-market-fettuccine/, so stay tuned for my experiences with it.

Saturday, January 9, 2016


I got this survey from Irish dancer Kay's blog, "Wide Awake: The Journey Continues." I thought it looked fun, so here are my answers:

  • What level are you in: Adult prizewinner for all except Traditional Set, which is novice (I've only competed in it 3 times) and I've never competed in Single Jig, though I passed the grade exam that had it in it. Class-wise, I am in a mixed levels class, but I had made it to a Prelim Prep class before I moved.
  • Do you compete: Yes...see above.
  • How many dance teachers: Currently 1...my school has a lot of teachers, but only 1 teaches my class. At my last school, I had 3 teachers, but at my first school I only had 1 (there, again, there were 2 or 3 teachers at my school, but only 1 taught the class I was in).
  • Biggest competition: Ever? Cincinnati Feis back in 2012. One of my dances had 10 people in it (though there have been other years in which there's only been 3 or 4 people in my dances). The Dublin (OH) Irish Fest/Columbus Feis has the most adult dancers, but they split the competition into U35 and O35. I'm currently U35, which is the smaller of the 2 groups.
  • What shoes: Rutherford Cavan soft shoes and Fay's Ultra-Flexi hard shoes
  • Days you go to class: Just Thursdays right now. At my old school, we had 2 classes a week and an optional third class on the weekends. I heard we might be getting an every-other-weekend practice session, so that would be good to add in, post-baby.
  • Age group: Adults :(
  • Favorite Feis: Typically, the Columbus Feis, since it is at the Dublin Irish Festival. The adult competition is entertainment at the festival, so we get a lot of spectators, and they call up the winners to get their awards. And your feis entry gets you into Friday night at the festival, so one year after I danced, I got to see Gaelic Storm, and another year, I saw the Red Hot Chili Pipers. I didn't like how the adult competition was ran a couple of years ago (3 judges, each judging 2 dancers at a time, for a total of 6 dancers dancing at once to one musician). It got kind of confusing and I didn't do so well, but hopefully they changed it back to the old way in the couple of years I have been missing it due to my work schedule.
  • Favorite Dance: Reel or treble jig. Stylistically, those are my favorites, but I have had some slip jigs I was fond of, too.
  • Least Favorite Dance: Either Hornpipe or St. Patrick's Day. 
  • Dress: So far, just a school dress. My first school had simple stretch velvet dresses with embroidery applicae at the top, which would have looked nice if mine wasn't borrowed and sometimes I had one that I thought was too big, and sometimes I had one with too short of sleeves. My favorite school dress was at my last school...A leotard with sparkly cape and headband, with a circle skirt that moved so well and was in a beautiful color. Plus, it was a variation of the beginner school outfit and the champs' performance outfit, so I felt like I blended in better with the younger dancers at the performances. I will again get a "school dress," (adult outfit at my current school is black long-sleeved top with applicae and a plaid skirt) once I am confident in what skirt size I will be, but hoping I get to wear a lovely hand-me down stretch velvet dress in the meantime (which happens to be in my school colors). Still wishing for a solo dress someday though.
  • Fake Tan: Ew. Maybe I will use the Jergens gradual tan lotion again, like I did before my sister's wedding, but it ended up staining one of my bras. I don't really see the need to fake tan. Didn't do it for prom, didn't do it for my wedding.
  • Wig color: I think it's medium brown, #10.
  • Do you think you’re good at dancing: I feel like my non-pregnant self was at the upper end of mediocre. I didn't feel out of place, talent-wise, in the prizewinner class. There are plenty of prizewinners better than me, but I feel like I am pretty decent. I also feel I haven't reached my full potential, so hopefully I will be an even better dancer at this time next year.
  • Favorite Award: Probably the ones from last year's Feis Na Tara...even though I only did 4 of the 7 dances I signed up for (it is a long story, but the gist of it is a Megabus breakdown/delay meant I was 2 hours late to the feis). I would have only gotten to do 1 or 2 of those if it wasn't for the kindness and helpfulness of other adult dancers notifying them of my delay and even picking up my number. When the bus first broke down around 9 in the morning, I ate a nice breakfast, but then I had 2 packs of fruit snacks, half an apple, and a bottle of water the rest of the day, and danced around 9 pm. I was starving, exhausted, and had been on a bus for 7+ hours. My awards represent the friendship and camaraderie of adult Irish dancers, and my 2nd places in soft shoe represent success under less than ideal circumstances.
  • Set Dances: St. Patrick's Day traditional set, though I am learning the Blackbird traditional set, too.
  • Favorite Move: Probably double clicks, though mine still need work (especially left foot)
  • Least Favorite Move: Back trebles...I'm sure I won't hate them as much once I get better. Just like I used to hate back clicks but am okay with them now.
  • Best at: Treble Jig
  • Worst at: St. Patrick's Day...I often mess up on it, which I shouldn't, because it is easy, but I just don't work on it enough.
  • How far away is dance: Currently about 30 minutes (a little less, if I don't run into traffic). It feels really close since I used to drive an hour to class.
  • How many times have you transferred schools: Twice so far. I'm a military wife, so we move every 3 years or so.
  • Rally, Shuffle, Batter, Treble, Butter: Treble, though my first teacher called it a batter, and I had a workshop teacher once that called it a rally.
  • Number of perpetuals: None.
  • Best Placement: No majors, so 1st place out of 6 people is the best I've ever done (or 2nd out of 10).
  • Dance Shoe Size: 6 for hard shoes, 5.5 for soft shoes (though I have a pair of 6's that fit pretty decent, too)
  • Can you do freeze leaps: Not really...I was getting closer, pre-pregnancy.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Dance class recap...

So first of all, I am just happy I can still go to dance class. Initially, I was going to give it up at Christmas, but I've since decided to just take it week by week. I figured I can always just walk through the steps and socialize a little (which is a definite benefit of being in an adult class right now). After warming up, we did the Fairy Reel...unfortunately I only know the gent's part, which seems to get less of a break because of the gent's in the middle portion of the dance, but at least I was on an end, so we did get a break for a bit (since it is a progressive dance and we had an odd number of groups of 3). I probably pushed myself a bit harder than I should have...not to the point of hurting myself or little one, but just enough that my back is sore today. There were some new (or returning) people that I hadn't seen in class before (since I've only been there about 3 months), and I think one may have even been an "and overs" dancer, so my brain kept telling me to try harder to look good in front of people who had never seen me dance before, while my body was like, "I don't think so."

Afterwards, I walked through my slip jig steps and watched my classmates perform them. It is good to try to commit my dances to memory before my baby break. I did the same for my 1st treble jig step. By the time we got to hornpipe, I was too tired to even walk through, so I just hand danced/clapped the rhythm while saying the words to the steps. I feel good about most of my steps, assuming my feet/body cooperates when I actually try to do them at speed with the music. Treble jig step #2 is worrying me, though. It is very treble-heavy, and there are both the slow trebles and fast trebles, plus back trebles (which I have struggled with those for the past year or so). And there is a new 'double-toe' thing that I have to learn...it sort of reminds me of a drum, but with the toe. Hopefully if I drill it, I will get it, but there are no hard shoe drills in my immediate future. That will have to wait until at least late March. For now, I will just work on committing the words of what I should be doing to memory at tempo. That will be enough of a challenge for that step. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Healthy Recipes of the Week

Tofu cacciatore (pictured above), from "101 Things To Do With Tofu," by Donna Kelly and Anne Tegtmeier. We halved the recipe, though, and made a few other changes, for better, worse, or just out of laziness or thriftiness... We keep a jar of minced garlic on hand in the refrigerator. On the jar, it tells how many teaspoons equal how many cloves of garlic. This has been a total time-saver. Also, I cut the tofu into chunks instead of strips. Since I already had both apple cider vinegar and rice vinegar (from a mediocre attempt at Vegetarian Pad Thai), and my grocery list had distilled white vinegar (for cleaning) on it, I was too cheap to buy yet another form of vinegar. My husband questioned the apple cider vinegar I used and I reasoned that apples are red, and wine and cider are both made from fruit and sort of similar-ish. Also, the diced tomatoes we used were the canned fire-roasted kind. I actually had typed out the recipe here, and while I was at the end of the blog, typing out my sources in an APA-style bibliography, I started panicking about copyright laws and whether even a properly-cited recipe could be used in a blog. So, I deleted the recipe, but hopefully you can find the book in a library if you are interested in cooking it (I originally purchased the book when Borders was going out of business in 2011).

Other notes about this recipe: We were out of nonstick spray, so we just rubbed more olive oil in the bottom of the casserole dish. Also, instead of seasoning with salt and pepper, my husband seasoned his portion with additional Parmesan cheese. Also, I accidentally made it a little bit too runny by failing to drain the canned/jarred mushrooms I used (not a problem if you use fresh ones instead).

I enjoyed this dish. It was one of the 2 best tofu dishes I have tried at home, and my husband even gave it his seal of approval for me to cook it again sometime. Not sure if it was the Italian seasoning, the Parmesan cheese, the way most of the ingredients were first sauteed and later baked, or what, but the tofu had a good flavor, and with all the Italian flavors, we could pretend the chunks of tofu were chunks of cheese.

My other healthy recipe of the week comes from my old 4-H book, "Tasty Tidbits," the 1993 edition, from the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. The book is for ages 12 to 13 years old, so you know it is pretty easy if it was meant for middle schoolers to be able to cook. It was from an activity entitled, "It's So Easy," and was intended to teach young people how to make a one-dish meal for their families on the stove top. I nicknamed it, "Veggie Chili Mac," although in the recent incarnation we made of it, my husband suggested egg noodles instead of the whole grain macaroni I had previously used (even though a serving of egg noodles has 3 g fat and a serving of whole grain macaroni has 1.5 g fat). I almost went ahead and included the recipe, since I'm sure the book series has since been redone, and I don't even know if blogs existed back in 1993 (we sure didn't have Internet). But, the back cover of the book warns that permission must be granted before reproducing the material in processes, "now known or later developed," which I guess blogging would fall under.

If you do stumble across this recipe, here are some notes: We use olive oil as our oil of choice. We used the canned, diced, fire-roasted tomatoes in this one as well. We always include the green pepper, but I have been leaving out the celery. I am currently anti-celery after the last time we got it. My husband talked me out of getting the pre-cut kind, in order to save money, but the celery was so dirty, it took a LONG time to clean and slice it. We left out the optional mushrooms as well (I heart mushrooms, while my husband thought it would be weird in chili). When serving the dish, we serve it with whatever shredded cheese we have on hand, whether it is mozzarella, cheddar, or a blend of cheeses. There is no cheese featured in the photo below, as I had the (leftover) cup of chili with a peanut butter sandwich...a comfort meal that reminds me of chili day when I was a kid, but with the peanut butter adding extra fat, I left off the cheese. 

This is a basic recipe, and if you want to jazz it up more, you could add more chili powder or cheese. The pros are that it is simple, healthy, easy, and uses ingredients we typically have on hand.

Tonight I will be trying a ravioli lasagna recipe that I got out of a magazine or newspaper. With its estimated 24 g of fat per serving, it will not be included as a "healthy" recipe, even if it does feature spinach. But hey, I gotta splurge sometime :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2016 Goals

So the fitness goals are dependent upon what happens in the next month or so, as far as whether baby comes on time, whether there are any delivery complications, doctor's recommendations, etc., but here is what I would like for my journey back to fitness to include:

1. Healthy, natural delivery
2. Return to Irish dance by St. Patrick's Day
3. Return to feising by either Buckeye State Feis (April 23) or Peach State Feis (May 6 or 7)
4. Run the Disney Wine and Dine Half-Marathon in less than 2 hrs (November 5)
5. Compete in the Traditional Set dance competition at Oireachtas (first weekend in December?)

As a first-time mom, I am super-worried about #1, or what I call the exit plan. Pregnancy hasn't quite been like I'd imagined. I thought I would be one of those women that went for jogs at least through the 2nd trimester. Instead, I have gained nearly 45 lbs. so far, and the increasing weight of my belly, combined with the changes going on in my hips/pelvis, gave me too much joint pain when running on the treadmill (and living in a new area, in a city, I don't know of any local trails/running paths yet). I've been eating healthy, for the most part, consuming pretty much the same number of calories as before I was pregnant (I might accidentally be consuming more liquid calories, swapping out my caffeinated coffee with a little sugar for a glass of juice during pregnancy, and giving up artificially-sweetened Coke Zero in favor of Sierra Mist, sweet tea, juice, or caffeine-free Coke). Plus, I've gone from running 15-20 miles a week and spending 3.5 hrs a week in dance class, to 3-5 miles of walking a week and 2 hrs a week in a less-intense dance class. But, at the childbirth class, the instructor told me that sometimes rough pregnancies lead to easy deliveries, so I'm hopeful. I am thankful I have a healthy, active baby growing inside of me, but my body is ready to get back to normal.

As for #2, I have read online that many women with uncomplicated deliveries are given the okay to return to their usual activities after 6 weeks. But then just last night, I read online something about not returning to high-impact until 6-9 months after delivery! And one of my friends says she is waiting a year postpartum before returning to running! I guess I will see what my doctor says. I have had 2 doctors give me the okay to continue dancing (and running) as long as I feel comfortable and am careful during pregnancy, but I also don't want to wreck my body coming back too soon.

I'm worried about my hips/pelvis, too....I've gained 6 inches around my hips, and while some of it is cellulite, some of it is I think that my hips needed to widen to make room for baby. I still had 35 inch hips in my 30s, and had a heck of a time finding pants that fit. Misses pants were way too big, and many juniors pants just did not leave enough room for my muscular dancer/runner thighs and butt. While I would love to fit in my pre-pregnancy jeans again, I just want the sacroiliac and other joint pain to go away. I want to feel good running, and I would prefer to not have to completely re-learn all my Irish dance clicks again (earlier in the pregnancy, when I could still hop into the clicks, my heels were just not meeting each other like they used to).

3. So I mentioned the Peach State Feis to my dance teacher, and she thinks it is an achievable goal. She's referred to me as the most active pregnant dancer she's known (and apparently our adult class has had quite a few babies born to it over the years). While that makes me feel good, I was already 22 weeks pregnant when she met me. So meanwhile I am frustrated with how much less energy I already had by that point. I still go to class, even though I gave up jumping about 3 weeks ago. Last week I did the warm-up skips around the room, muddled through a ceili (even if the hop back 2, 3, 4s were hop-less), walked through my slip jig steps, and ran through St. Patrick's Day traditional set twice (minus the hopping). As I mentioned, I am at a different school in a different region, so I have had to learn new steps, and they seem stylistically diffferent than what I am used to. My last feis was in June, when I was 8 weeks pregnant (though I can count on 1 hand the number of people who knew about it besides me) and I still fit into my old school dress. Aside from missing my reel due to miscalculation of start time combined with not wanting to get out of bed (first trimester fatigue is no joke!), I had a pretty good feis. However, that was with my old school/old steps. Last time I switched schools (thanks to hubby's job), it took me 8 months to be ready to feis again, and that was without a pregnancy break, too. I know the 4 core dances (reel, slip jig, treble jig, and hornpipe), but it is a matter of committing them to memory and performing them well, even though I can pretty much just walk and talk through them for the next few months.

As for #4, I have been wanting to do the Disney Wine and Dine Half-Marathon for quite some time. My first half-marathon was at Disney (the 2011 Princess Run) and my only marathon was at Disney in 2013. Unlike those races, in which I had to wake up prior to 3 am to drive to the park before roads were closed, or catch the bus to the start line around 3:30 am, the Wine and Dine has a 10 pm start time, and includes an after-party at Epcot Center! My half-marathon times have all been in the 1 hour 53 minutes to 1 hour 58 minutes time range. Not sure if it is overly-ambitious to be back in that kind of shape by November, but by that time, it will be at least 9 months since I have given birth. 9 months pregnant and 9 months to bounce back, right?

#5 is a must for me. I came from a region where the only Oireachtas (regional championships) opportunities for adults were 8-hand competitions. So, unless you had 7 classmates who competed in the adult levels, were willing and able to travel over Thanksgiving vacation, and would commit to regular team practices, Oireachtas was not a possibility. At my first school, we did ceilis in class, but never team competitions, aside from 3-hands and 4-hands. At my second school, I was the only one who competed in the adult category. There was a traditional set dance competition for the "15 and over" age group, but since I couldn't drop down, I was never able to compete in 15 and over. Now I am in a region that offers 4-hand dances at Oireachtas for adults, as well as an adult Traditional Set competition. Even though Traditional Set is possibly my worst dance, I want to go to Oireachtas so badly that I will work on it. I've already done the St. Patrick's Day dance more in the past 2 or 3 months than I have in probably the preceding year. I would like to learn the Blackbird, though. It seems a bit more challenging, due to its hornpipe rhythm, and I have learned parts of it several times. Besides, it is needed for grade exams for Grade 6, which is the next one for me to take. I almost listed "pass Grade 6," as a goal, but I'm not sure where the grade exams are offered in my new region. Not sure if I would ever want to teach Irish dance (I have so many goals to still achieve as a dancer first), but I like taking the grade exams for the feedback and the sense of accomplishment. Plus, it gives me something to work towards, as I kind of don't have any competitive goals anymore. I reached the highest level I can obtain in the adult competition back in 2012 (2011 if you count that my old region only had 2 levels for adults instead of 3). My main competitive goal right now (outside of Oireachtas) is get back to where I was pre-pregnancy and do well enough to convince a teacher to let me dance in "and overs." And place 1st in the reel....Reel is one of my best dances, yet when I have 5 or more competitors in prizewinner or combined novice/prizewinner, something always goes wrong. I've got about 4 second places with 5 or more competitors and twice I missed the reel due to traffic or other factors. As for Oireachtas, I have never seen the adult traditional set competition there, and some feisanna I used to go to didn't even have adult traditional set competitions, so that, plus the fact that traditional set is my worst dance (my only one still in novice), means I don't know what is a realistic goal, other than go there and do my best.

Well, I have to get some things done before I head off to a childcare class at the hospital this evening, so I guess my adventures with tofu cacciatore will have to wait until next time. However, here's a preview of how it turned out...

It was actually one of the yummier tofu recipes I've tried at home!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Welcome, and let me introduce myself...

I feel like I spend a lot of time on the Internet, mostly just passively reading, but someone recently asked me if I had a blog, and it made me think...maybe I should start one. I'm not sure if anyone will actually read this, but I figured now is as good a time as any to start blogging.

Major changes have happened in my life over the past 8 months. First of all, I got pregnant. Then my military husband got transferred to a new duty station. So, I quit my job, we moved nearly 400 miles, and now I am experiencing life as a stay-at-home wife, soon to be stay-at-home mom.

This blog won't be just about the mom life, though. Most of the blogs I have been following are Irish dance-related. You see, adults in Irish dance are a bit of an anomaly. Many adults involved in Irish dance enjoy the fitness aspect and the camaraderie of their dance classmates. I enjoy both of those features of Irish dance, but I also belong to the sub-group of adult Irish dancers who want to push ourselves to the limits, competitively and physically. My pre-pregnancy self loved being drenched in sweat after class, being out of breath after drills, and going home with the challenge of new, more complicated steps to work on. Competition drives me, and it drives me nuts that the adult category of Irish dance has fewer levels and cannot go on to regional or national competitions for solo competition. What is even more confusing and frustrating is that there is a level of competition known as "and-overs," which can sometimes be open to adults. "And-overs" (whether it is "15 and over," "17 and over," "20 and over," etc.) can work towards competing in the championship level and regional, national, and world championship competitions. So, depending on a variety of factors (age of starting Irish dance, teachers' opinion, regional rules or attitudes, personal goals), some adults competing in the "and over" categories may be the same age (or older) than some of the adults competing in the "adult" categories. If this sounds confusing, it really is. Someone wrote a post on the dance.net website at http://www.dance.net/topic/9150705/1/Irish-Adult-Dancers/A-Guide-to-Dropping-Down.html, which might explain it better. I am currently in the adult category of Irish dance, but hopefully at some point in the future, that will change.

My other fitness passion is running, though that is one that I sadly had to give up much earlier in my pregnancy. I had just run my best-ever 10K, with a time of 50 minutes, 49 seconds, in May. I was attempting to train for my fourth half-marathon, when I just got too busy, between work and a musical theater production I was in, and by the end of May, I learned I was pregnant. I completed a 2-mile race in August (though at a slower pace), but within a month, I had completely given up running due to sacroiliac joint pain and lower back pain.

So this blog will mostly be about my journey back to fitness, within the context of the stay-at-home mom life. One thing I have been doing a lot of in the past couple of months is trying to learn to cook, especially healthy cooking. I've tried many new recipes over the past 4 months, with various levels of success, many of which were vegetarian recipes. Some involve chicken or turkey, but I gave up eating beef and pork three and a half years ago.

Now that I've introduced myself and my blog intent, stay tuned for my list of 2016 fitness goals and my experience trying out a tofu cacciatore recipe....