Ballet While Pregnant - Yes You Can

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

One of the big contradictions in pregnancy advice surrounds exercising while pregnant. Generally everyone accepts that exercise of some sort during pregnancy is to be encouraged. Where the disagreement happens is when we try to decide what we mean by "exercise". EVERYTHING is, apparently, potentially dangerous.

Yoga - might stretch something wrong

Running - might fall

Pilates - might use your core muscles

Biking - might bounce too much

The list could go on and on. Some of these fears are valid and some are due to outdated understandings of pregnancy. But what, especially first time, pregnant moms hear is "this is something that could potentially hurt my baby" so they don't do it.

Y'all most pregnancies are not that fragile.

Birth is a marathon of an event. I can guarantee you it will be much much harder than necessary if you have not allowed yourself to maintain strength and flexiability.

18 weeks pregnant.
Some have been surprised that I have still been taking my regular Ballet classes - even well into my second trimester. Most are a little shocked when they hear that I fully intend to keep dancing through my third trimester too. When I push a little about why they find this surprising they mention that they assumed it would be too hard to do Ballet while pregnant, especially showing. Some insist it is dangerous.

I suppose it is dangerous, but so is crossing the very busy streets around here. I have yet to hear anyone suggest I avoid doing that.

Last night I had my last in-studio class. Not because of the pregnancy but because we're moving. I fully intend to keep training on my own. I can give myself a barre and center fairly well at home.
I don't do pointe work on my own (nor to I encourage anyone to do so, pregnant or not), but I can certainly keep up the training exercises that will allow me to get back to pointe work when I pick a studio.

I believe pregnancy is actually an excellent time to be dancing Ballet. Pregnancy forces me to pay much more attention to how I'm holding my center and turn out. I cannot cheat strength when my center changes so much from week to week. Being forced to be honest about my current abilities can only lead to better work.

Yes, exercise can be dangerous during pregnancy, but I believe most women have the common sense and wherewithal to listen to their bodies and be honest about their limits.

If you did not have a regular exercise routine pre-pregnancy, don't be afraid to start movement now! You will need to start slow and steady, preferably with a teacher, but there are certainly more choices available to you than just walking the entirely of your pregnancy.

How did you keep moving during pregnancy? What is holding you back from starting movement?

Last weeks in California!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes!

This is our last full week in our apartment! Next week the movers come and we move out to a hotel until we fly out to our new digs in Minnesota!
I feel like both my time for blogging, and need to write, have gone way down in all the moving hustle so here's some thoughts on the past weeks and moving.


We had our last Dominican Easter! 

I sang A LOT. I logged about 15 hours of singing last week. Consider it my goodbye gift to the parish. Making it to Easter brunch felt like crossing the finish line.

I am crazy proud of all of our RCIA attendees who received their sacraments this year!

It was a rainy Easter here but there was enough of a break in the rain to do a (very quick) confetti egg hunt and fight in the park.

Part of the joy of Easter is smashing the egg shells from the confetti eggs.

Overall, I am not sad to be leaving California.
Things feel like they came/are coming to a natural conclusion point here. I am very happy with what we have been able to do in our time here in Berkeley. I will miss some people and places, but it does feel nicely closed. I know there will not be enough time to say goodbye to everyone, for one reason or another, but we are giving it our best shot!


The movers come next week!
Because this is a company move we have to have the moving company pack us, but we can prepare by getting rid of anything we can not/do not want to take with us.

My Lenten 40 Bags in 40 Days project was a success. Not all of my "bags" were physical bags. Taking the time to transfer medical records, set up plans for the coming year, clean out my email files, etc. counted as some of the bags. We still have some remaining food items, art supplies, cleaners, etc. to get rid of in the next week, but I think we're in very good shape for the movers!


My husband just completed his last business trip out to the Twin Cities without us!
(Yea for less solo parenting in my future!)

Speaking of solo parenting, congratulations to reader Lissa who won the pocket rosary from Rosaries by Allison! I hope you enjoy it!


The bump is finally showing!

I'm 18 weeks along this week, and per what seems to be my usual it just seemed to pop almost overnight. Since this is my 3rd pregnancy to come this far along, we can be pretty sure this is just how I roll.


Doing Ballet while showing is not nearly as challenging as I thought it would be. I can still jump and move as well as ever. The challenge is re-negotiating what centered and balanced feels like each week. Turning is a little more difficult, but I think that has more to do with re-learning how to get on my leg each class (aka. centered! It's the never ending dancer struggle.)
Hopefully I have one more class before we move, then I will probably switch to training at home for a while until after this little one is born.

I have been surprised by how many people expect pregnant women to "stay active" yet there does not seem to be much actual moving that they approve of pregnant women performing. Listen to your body obviously, but pregnancy is just not as fragile of a state as it gets made out to be. In fact this is prime time to get moving. How can we expect women to do the marathon that is birth without any physical training?
Someday I'll write a whole post on Ballet and continuing movement while pregnant. 


During all of Matt's business trips to our new home state, he has made it his job to investigate all of the arts, food, and natural sites as he can. He's making it very hard not to look forward to living there!

7 Things They Might Not Tell You in RCIA

Monday, April 10, 2017

We're on the edge of Holy Week y'all! 
This year I have been helping out with our parish RCIA program. RCIA is near and dear to my heart. My mom is a convert and so are some of my best friends. Hanging out with people who genuinely want to learn more about the Catholic faith and are seeking understanding is a great experience for re-lighting your own faith fire!
But there are a lot of little things involved in Catholic practice that might not get communicated in RCIA classes.


Crossing Yourself When Passing a Catholic Church

My husband did not grow up with this tradition and he took him months to finally ask me why I was always making the Sign of the Cross when we passed a Catholic church (on public transit, making the Sign of the Cross at odd moments gets you a couple stares.)

We do this in acknowledgement that we are passing the real Presence that is truly residing in that place. It's a pause of reverence. It doesn't take very long but it is an easy way to remind yourself of why that building is different from any other building.


Praying a Hail Mary When You Hear an Ambulance Siren

There are lots of variations on this one, but I grew up with saying a Hail Mary when you heard an ambulance siren. It is a spiritual work of mercy to pray for the living and the dead. I don't need to know the specifics of the situation to know that that sound means that someone is in great need of help. I'm praying both for the person in need of care and for the emergency workers who now bear a responsibility for life saving measures. The prayer acknowledges that this need is happening in my community, is something I should care about, and offers the only help I am able to give at that moment.


All the Extra Prayers at the End of the Rosary

Hopefully, you covered what the rosary is and generally how to pray it in RCIA class. 
Then you get to your first time saying the rosary in a group. Maybe it's the night before a funeral, a post-mass rosary, or with a parish rosary group. You get through that last standard prayer, Hail, Holy Queen, and then everyone around you JUST KEEPS GOING. From memory. 

It's not just you, most rosary pamphlets don't include those additional prayers. However, there are some basic patterns!
The typical additional prayers are: The Memorare, St. Michael Prayer, Prayer for Vocations.
Prayer for Vocations has a lot of local variations, but the first two are fairly standard. There might be other additions, especially litany prayers but most of those are easy responded to with a "Pray for Us" at the end of each name. 
If you experience this in a rosary group or other regularly meeting group, ask the leader if they would not mind writing down the list of prayers they do at the end. Most are happy to help and you will be better able to participate!


Huge Variations in Fasting Rules

One would think that being required to fast and abstain from meat on the same days as all other Catholics in the world would mean that there were identical rules all over the world. 
But no. 
There are large cultural, local, and national variations in what constitutes appropriate fasting and abstinence.
Best rule of thumb is to look up the requirements in our country and diocese and start with those. If you feel called to a stricter practice, run it by a priest or trusted Catholic friend. Don't be intimidated by people who give up red meat or animal products for all of Lent or also abstain from water. Those are extra and you're not doing it wrong if you are following your country and diocesan guidelines.



You might notice people bending down on one knee before going into the pews on Sunday. They also seem to have other pauses and bends at other times. I don't think I got clear on when to genuflect/bow/kneel until I was an altar server growing up. Here are the basic rules:

* Genuflect with your right knee touching the ground (Fun Fact: This position is reserved for reverence to God so go down on your left knee to propose fellas!)

* Genuflecting is preferred but a bow at the waist or head is appropriate in situations when genuflection is physically difficult (say when super pregnant, arthritic, or holding crying baby.)

*Genuflect or bow when: entering the pew, crossing the alter or tabernacle, before receiving the Eucharist (Side Note: we don't genuflect when returning to the pew after receiving communion because your body is at that moment a living tabernacle. Whoa!)

Again, there will be local variations but these are good general rules.


Home Holy Water Fonts and Other Practices

Catholics are big on the domestic church concept, but the options can seem overwhelming. Know that beyond basic praying and teaching of the faith within the family none of this is required. But it's fun!

For most brand new Catholics, I recommend just starting with observing the major Solemnities and seasons in the Church calendar and Holy Days of Obligation in the home. Eventually you will develop your own traditions - maybe around the saint you chose as your patron at Confirmation or the date of the Easter Vigil you entered the Church (Easter will not always be the same calendar day!)

For this first Holy Week, maybe set aside a little table, or top of a desk or dresser, to place your blessed palm from Palm Sunday, your Baptismal candle, etc. 


What To Do If Your RCIA Class Missed Some Big Stuff

Don't panic! Your RCIA class is not meant to be completely comprehensive of everything there is to know about Catholicism. I've been Catholic since birth and I'm still not out of things to learn.

But what if you think you missed something really big and important?

When I asked women in some Catholic facebook groups I participate in what they felt they missed in RCIA, hot topics came up frequently as untouched in RCIA. Top among those was Church teaching on Natural Family Planning. Thankfully, most dioceses should have a coordinator for family life that should be able to direct you to NFP instruction in your diocese. There are also lots of awesome organizations and helpful facebook groups to help answer your questions.

Don't be afraid to talk to your pastor if you truly feel like big topics are missing in your program. Everyone wants to make sure you are as prepared as possible for this next step!

The pocket rosary giveaway with Rosaries by Allison ends this Friday! If you have not entered yet, head over to do that on this post.

Did you go through RCIA? What things surprised you about Catholicism? What got missed in RCIA class?
Also, early welcome to the Church to all of the Catecumens and Candidates reading this!

Five Ways I'm Rocking Motherhood

Monday, April 3, 2017

I got tagged to participate in the Rocking Motherhood Challenge back in February by Lovely Little Lives. It sounded so cool and I was so ready to write my take on it....and then I completely forgot about it. But my memory was jogged when Sweeping Up Joy wrote her list of ways she's rocking motherhood, so I'm going to hop back on this bandwagon!

We Explore

At the beginning of our school year we committed to doing at least one field trip or excursion each month. I am one of those people that may or may not be able to rally the troops for a spontaneous adventure, but I will fulfill plans on the calendar like it's the law.

Top picks from this year have been: California Academy of Sciences (think natural history museum, aquarium, and planetarium all rolled into one), Hoes Down Festival at our CSA farm, and Angel Island excursion that also turned into Civil War re-enactment adventure.

I Foster Reasonable Independence

One of my goals as a parent is to work myself out of a job. I want to raise my kids to accept the responsibilities they can reasonably take on, and to be able to make good choices without my constant vigilance. 
That means, as soon as I can, I am working with them on scaffolding physical, social, and emotional skills. This ranges from working on specific fine motor abilities so they can learn to dress themselves to going over how to answer adult's questions and what to do when another kid tries to take your toy.

Yes, it means basic things like getting ready in the morning will take a little longer for a bit, but the payoff of not having to hover and do everything for multiple little people is worth it! The kids are always *so proud* once they have mastered a new skill, and getting to be there when that light bulb moment happens is one of my greatest rewards in parenting.

We're Adventurous Eaters

My husband works in the food industry and we both enjoy cooking and trying new foods - cooking together was a central part of our dating and engagement years. 
Encouraging the kids to try bites of foods that have a new taste or texture has become important to our family culture. Part of why that works is mom and dad are trying new things too. Not everything is a hit. Sometimes experiments fail and the kids get to see how we handle failure and work towards preventing food waste even when the initial attempt was less than tasty.

This process has resulted in some odd favorite foods with my kids. Their top picks are: sushi, miso, nori, swanky cheeses, spinach pancakes, green salads, brothy soups, and most raw veggies.

I'm Not Isolated

One of my most important discoveries as a new mom with my first baby was I do absolutely terribly when isolated alone in my house. I know other women can experience that alone time as a calming and centering choice, but I positively wither. I need other people and interaction on at least a semi-regular basis.

Interacting with others has been so important for continuing to grow, both intellectually and in my relationships. Humans need other humans. 
I need someone to bring me back to the ground sometimes. 
I need encouragement.
I need to care about people who are not in my same phase of life.
I need to be willing to broaden my world.

If I only interact with moms, my world shrinks. I owe my kids the minimal effort it takes to reach out of our little world and allow the Holy Spirit to act in our lives.

I'm Committed to Growing My Own Talents

Back in the day I was very involved in dance and theater. I kept saying I would get back to them "someday". "Someday" has a funny way of getting pushed further and further into the future - especially with little kids in the picture. (You can read more about the story of coming back into dance and theater in my #LoveRebelMom post over at the Koala Mom.)

I cannot allow myself to make excuses to avoid the good. Accepting my talents, and weaknesses, and working with that reality is a big part of honoring who I am. Allowing my motherhood to inform my experience, and not hinder it, has made me a better dancer and actor. Allowing myself the space to grow my talents has made me a better mother.  

Tag, You're Up!

These are the other mom bloggers (or bloggers who happen to be moms?) I'm tagging to tell us how they are rocking motherhood!

Kaitlyn at Tea with Tolkien

Christina at A Gentle Mother

Allison at Reconciled to You

#Rocking Motherhood Tag Rules

1. Thank the blogger who tagged you and link to their blog. 
2. List 5-10 things you believe make you a good mother. 
3. Tag some bloggers to join in the #RockingMotherhood Tag. 
4. Grab the #RockingMotherhood badge and add it to your post or sidebar.

How are you rocking motherhood? (BTW, I want to hear from my godmothers, grandmothers, and spiritual mothers too!)
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