Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

Easter Egg Huntin’ at the Climbing Gym


Last year we spent the Saturday before Easter hiding eggs for Big C within the pocketed walls of Crowders Mountain, while the grown-ups got their climb on.  (And ironically looking back at that old trip report, I see that Big C is wearing the exact same Thomas the Train jammies…)  Now that Big C is a bona fide roped climber in his own right, our plan this year was to move our egg hunt higher than 5 feet off the ground, hiding his eggs within the nooks and crannies of actual climbing routes.  We’d been looking forward to it all week, so needless to say we were all pretty bummed when the weather forecast turned sour by Thursday morning. 

So we went to Plan B – taking our egg hunt to our local climbing gym, Inner Peaks.  Family nature time?  No.  But family fun time, yes!  In fact, it was the first time our family of 4 had set foot in the gym all at the same time together!  Although recent gym visits have been abruptly cut short due to Baby Z being too excited to stay asleep in the gym, this time she slept like a champ the whole time we were there!


The crag-daddy dutifully played the role of belay slave while I climbed up Big C’s favorite routes, “hiding” plastic Easter eggs inside the bigger holds as I went.  Big C clipped a bag to his harness, and up he went, gleefully snagging each egg and dropping it in his bag.  Of course we’re no where close to putting him on the sharp end (yet), but watching his body positioning as he tried to find a stance in which to take a hand off to get the egg and reach down for his bag looked remarkably like reaching down for a quickdraw and clipping in.  For an older child, an activity like that would definitely be good practice at exploring the 3-point stances necessary for lead climbing!  

Anyway, Big C thoroughly enjoyed getting the eggs, so much so that he insisted on putting them BACK into the same hidey-holes on the way down…over and over and over again.  It made my job easy enough!  


So while our grand plans for an egg hunt didn’t exactly pan out, Plan B ended up being pretty cool too!  Easter morning dawned bright and beautiful of course, but with our church service and other commitments, we were unable to make it out to some real rock.  Maybe next week!  

What creative Easter activities did your family partake in this year?  Was the weather cooperative, or did you have to opt for Plan B?



Postpartum Weight Loss and the Weight Gurus SMART Scale

Weight Gurus Scale and App

Weight Gurus Scale and App

Our family ordinarily doesn’t keep a scale in the house.  Honestly for me personally, having a scale available 24/7 is a slippery slope that can easily lead to obsession, and I’ve learned the hard way that I’m much happier when I’m not tempted to be a slave to the number on the scale.  Besides (pregnancy aside of course), I’m active enough and eat healthy enough that my weight doesn’t really fluctuate that much anyway. That being said, when the folks at Weight Gurus contacted me just a few weeks before Baby Z was born and offered to send me their just-launched Smart Scale for review (and to offer a coupon code for my readers, see below!), the timing was too perfect to pass up!

 Obviously I have a postpartum desire to get back into shape, but my motivation is about fitness more than weight – ie feeling strong on the rock, fast and free on my runs, and elastic in my yoga practice.  But I’d be lying if I pretended I didn’t want to fit into my skinny jeans again at some point, and that will definitely require shedding some baby weight.  

Surprisingly, I gained less weight with Baby #2 (19 pounds) than I did with Baby #1 (23 pounds).  I attribute that to remaining as active as I comfortably could, and not taking the “eating for two” mantra literally (although I definitely enjoyed plenty of cheese burgers and milkshakes!)  Over the past few weeks I’ve been doing regular checks on my Weight Guru scale , which I received at 2 weeks postpartum.  Here’s the results.

Getting back on the saddle with postpartum exercise (literally ;))

Getting back on the saddle with postpartum exercise (literally ;))

1 Week Postpartum - No idea how much weight I lost with delivery, but I was pleased that all of my old yoga pants fit right away.  I started wearing an abdominal binder at 2 days postpartum (which I did NOT do after my 1st pregnancy.)  This was recommended to me by fellow climbing mama Aimee Roseborrough (who also happens to be a PT) as a way to protect my abs and encourage them to come back together quickly.  I lucked out with only a very small separation (just a couple of fingers wide), but within a few days it was down to just 1 finger, with no doming or bulging.  My tummy was of course poochy and soft as jello, but I was impressed at how fast the binder helped suck everything back in, as well as how comfortable and supportive it was, especially during those horrible postpartum cramping moments!  I’d definitely second Aimee’s recommendation to use one!  

2 Weeks Postpartum – I was pleased to see that I had lost 12 pounds already!  I did very little exercise – just a few walks around the neighborhood, a couple of short hikes, all at a pretty conservative pace that provided minimal calorie burn (but lots of mental energy!)  I went to the climbing gym twice, doing some light bouldering.  That meant nothing harder than V2, and no “working problems.”  (If I didn’t send something first try, I moved on to another problem.)  

3 Weeks Postpartum14 pounds lost, 5 to go. I did actually start formally exercising this week a little bit, although still nothing harder than what I did my last few weeks of pregnancy (elliptical, climbing, and walking…with a spontaneous jog thrown in once because it was so darn nice outside!) 

Celebrating 6 weeks with a run!

Celebrating 6 weeks with a run in my new Stonewear Designs threads!

4 Weeks Postpartum – No additional weight loss this week.  But I did start pushing myself a little at the climbing gym.  Nothing crazy, but my strength is starting to come back and it feels good.  I had success on a handful of V3′s and V4′s, along with a stray V6 (?!?)  Yes, my core strength is at about a 2 out of 10, but I feel light as a feather without having to worry about that giant belly getting in the way!  And speaking of core, I’ve been doing Kegel’s as often as I can remember, along with the elevator ab exercises listed here.  Other than that, nothing ab-specific just yet.  Even though I don’t have a diastasis, I’m still waiting for the 6 week check-up green light.

5 Weeks Postpartum – 15 pounds lost, 4 to go.   I got in two jogs this week, both at a very conservative pace…I’d forgotten how much slower I have to go when pushing a stroller!  I got back in the lead cave in the climbing gym, and the whole family was thrilled that the weather held out for us to take our very first day trip climbing outdoors as a family of 4 (trip report found here.)  

6 Weeks Postpartum – 16 pounds lost, 3 to go.  I hit 6 weeks postpartum this past Sunday, and had my doctor’s check-up yesterday..and you know what that means – GREEN LIGHT MEANS GO!!!!!!!  Within reason of course.  Still listening to my body and doing what feels good.  I may not be into those skinny jeans just yet, but I don’t really care.  I’m finding a new (albeit a little more hectic) groove, and enjoying feeling my body getting strong again.  

About the Scale: The niftiest part about the Weight Gurus SMART Scale is that it syncs up with the free Weight Gurus app for your iPhone or Android device (sorry Windows Phone users…), making it easy to track your progress.  In addition to seeing your results the traditional way (120 lbs one week, 118 the next), you can opt for the more tactful “weightless” version –  (-2 pounds this week.)  To be honest, I didn’t use the app very much, but it seems like it would be extremely motivating for folks with a long term weight loss goal.  It even features a social component where you can utilize coaches and celebrate your victories with friends.    


The cool folks at Weight Guru are pretty psyched about their new product, and are so sure you will be too, that they are offering a limited time coupon code for Cragmama readers – just go here and type in GURUS008 at checkout for $5 off the already promotional price of $29.99.  The coupon code is good through April 30.  As for our scale, it’s no longer in our house, but for local Charlotte climbers, you can feel free to download the app and check it out in it’s new permanent home in the weight room at Inner Peaks Climbing Center!  

What’s been your experience with getting back into the fitness groove postpartum?




Lactation Cookies – Got Milk?

I know this might not apply to a lot of my readers, but I’ve had enough good feedback and requests for this lactation cookie recipe that it seemed worth sharing on here.  What, pray tell, IS a lactation cookie, you might ask?  It’s nothing more than a cookie filled with various “galactagogues” (substances known to promote healthy breastfeeding.)  But don’t worry guys, you can feel free to indulge also – I promise you won’t spontaneously start lactating, and you’ll probably think they’re yummy ;)


They are EASY to make!  There’s about a million variations of this recipe floating around the internet, but here’s the version that worked best for us (changed up a little bit from this site.)

2 T flaxseed meal 
4 T water 
1 C butter 
1.5 C brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 C whole wheat flour
4 T brewer’s yeast
1 tsp baking soda
1 T cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3 C old fashioned oats
1/2 C chocolate chips 

1.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Soak flaxseed meal in water for a few minutes.
3.  Beat butter and sugar in mixing bowl, then add eggs, flax mixture, and vanilla and beat well.  
4.  Mix flour, yeast, baking soda, and salt into a separate bowl, then add to butter mixture and beat again.
5.  Stir in oats and chocolate chips.  
6.  Scoop onto cookie sheet and bake 12 minutes.  
NOTE:  This recipe made a LOT of cookies for me (45 to be exact.)  I ended up freezing a lot of them, so if your freezer is stocked (entirely likely for new moms!), you might want to half the recipe.

A tender moment with my sweet little girl.

Eat cookie. Then do this. :)

 And while we’re on the subject of lactation, don’t underestimate the importance of staying hydrated, especially for you active, exercising mamas out there!  Keep in mind that the main components of breastmilk are protein, fat, and WATER – so in addition to making sure you get enough food (an extra 500 calories a day at least), always carry a bottle of water with you to ensure that you consume at least 80 ounces of water per day.  

Has anyone else tried these cookies, or another variation?  What other tips and tricks have you used to keep mama’s milk free flowin’?


First Experience Craggin’ as a Family of 4!

When it comes to new babies, it seems like the topic du jour always involves developmental milestones.  Is she sleeping through the night yet?  When did he start walking?  And, have you started with solid foods yet?  But I like to think that each family has their own unique milestones to achieve as they grow and develop within a changing family dynamic.  For us, one of those milestones is “first outdoor climbing trip.”  With Big C, that happened at 6 weeks, on a bluebird spring day at Pilot Mountain.  Since Baby Z was born in the same month (this not by accident…), we had a similar time table in mind this time around.  So with a forecast of sunny and 60′s, and three great partners lined up, we decided to go for it just one day shy of the 5 week mark.

Rocky Face, the NC ethics anomaly...

Rocky Face, the NC ethics anomaly…

I have to admit that while having been through this “first” before I was confidently optimistic, I was feeling pretty rusty when it came time to pack. It’s amazing how quickly you forget – I actually found myself going back through some of my early days “Creating a Cragbaby” posts.  Lucky for us, we now have an area that is virtually fail-proof as a “first time crag.”  (It was closed to climbing when Big C was a baby.)  Rocky Face is so convenient that in many ways, it almost feels like cheating!  Not sure what to bring?  BRING IT ALL!  The parking lot is only about 50 feet from the base of the climbs.  

Big C tapping into his TMNT "turtle power."

Big C tapping into his TMNT “turtle power.”


All smiles

The only thing Rocky Face is lacking is shade.  It BAKES in the sun…ie, yesterday’s temps were bordering on too hot.  In fact all the grown-ups came away with decent sunburns.  Big C was the only smart one that insisted on wearing his long-sleeve jammies for the majority of the day (pretty sure ninja turtles were on his mind more than sun exposure though), and we were all thankful to have the PeaPod Plus by KidCo for our new little cragbaby (full review coming soon!)  

Nothing says spring climbing like a slithery friend...

Nothing says spring climbing like a slithery friend…

Our day as a whole could not have gone any better!  We were thrilled with how well Baby Z did – she pretty much just alternated between nursing and sleeping all day long.  It was definitely an interesting day, and hubby and I came away with several observations, most of which were actually RE-observations – things that had also happened with Big C back in the day, but had long since forgotten.

MORNING CHAOS - Even though we had packed a lot of our gear the night before, getting out of the house was rather chaotic.  Getting everyone dressed, fed, and in the car is pretty simple on paper, but with a newborn around, it’s a mad dash after that first nursing session to make sure we are in the car before baby gets fussy and needs to sleep again.

CRAG NAPS – Baby Z slept like a champ.  She slept for the car ride there (predictable), and then took two mega-naps in the PeaPod (not predictable.)  I was obviously expecting a newborn to nap at the crag, but had assumed that with all the extra stimulation going on, we’d be in for multiple catnaps rather than a couple of long ones.  But she surprised everyone by spending the whole day konked out on a picnic table in the middle of all the action, only waking up to nurse.  It made me remember how hubby and I used to marvel that Big C (who was generally a horrible sleeper for the first few months) would sleep so much better at the crag (or in a tent) than he ever did at home.  It’s pretty early to tell, of course, but I’m starting to think it’s a genetic trait…

Enjoying being on the sharp end again!

Enjoying being on the sharp end again!

OLDER SIBLING TIME – When there were just three of us, I could pretty much rotate through nursing, climbing, belaying, and watching a baby sleep.  But now there’s another kiddo involved.  He needs time with Mommy and Daddy too…oh yeah, and he also wants to get in a climb or two himself.  

END OF DAY MELTDOWNS – I’m not gonna lie, if our day at the crag was heaven sent, the simple hour and a half trip home was the car ride from hell!  Everyone was starving, but we kept driving waiting for a wide awake (and generally unhappy) Baby Z to fall asleep.  Once she finally nodded off, we pulled off the highway, and Big C decides to make a really loud sound that wakes her up…back to the highway we go.  Somehow amidst the wrath of a newborn woken too early, Big C falls asleep, the grown-ups decide (rather grumpily) to push on towards home and then get take-out.  But of course, by then, Baby Z needed to nurse again, Big C was cranky for about 15 minutes, then morphed into that strange, overtired manic state.  Meanwhile the grown-ups just wanted to eat and go to bed.  Moral of the story?  No matter how tired I am after a long day at the crag, my kids are tired-er.  I’ll keep that in mind for next time…

As for me, it felt glorious to be able to get out on the sharp end again.  My head felt sketchier than I’d wanted it to be on our warm-up (Flight Time, 5.7+), so I opted to toprope Mr. Aidman’s Free (5.11a).  Remembering the moves helped get my confidence up, and when it was my turn again, I pulled the rope and led it cleanly for my first real send in about 9 months!  Other routes for the day were Quarryisms, 5.10c/d (easy climbing to a crazy reach move at the anchors), and Snake Charmer, 5.10b/c (NOT recommended on a warm day!)  

Despite a few tense moments here and there (mostly happening in either our car or our house at the beginning and ending of our day), I would definitely call our first day out as a family of 4 a hands-down success!  Psych is high at our house for New River Gorge season, and we hope to find ourselves up there sooner rather than later!  

Hanging out with Little Z (note Big C in the background on his favorite "boat rock..."

Hanging out with Baby Z – note Big C in the background on his favorite “boat rock…”



How the Boba 4G Makes Me Feel Like SuperMom!

Some of you may remember that I reviewed the Boba 4G Carrier for toddler use last fall (find it here.)  And as good as it worked out for my then 3 year old, I’m happy to report that it is even better for my newborn little girl!  What makes it so great?  Let me count the ways…


1.  EASY IN/OUT - Once the straps are adjusted, I can easily get baby girl in and out of it all by myself.  When C was a newborn, I remember there being quite a learning curve with using the majority of our carriers by myself, and many of them I never really got the hang of…but this one is easy to use.  

2.  VERSATILITY - Accommodating heights of 5’0″ – 6’3″ and waistband sizes of 25″-58″, this carrier securely fits users on opposite sides of the spectrum, which works out great in families where a small mommy and large daddy are both sharing babywearing duties.

 3.  INTEGRATED NEWBORN/INFANT SEAT - Whereas many carriers require an additional (and often pricey) insert for the short-lived infant months, this carrier comes with an option for babies 7-15 pounds already included.  It’s one of those inventions that is so ridiculously simple, I can’t believe no one thought of it before!  Basically there is “pillow” that snaps into place in the shape of a ball for 7-10 pounders, then expands to more of a rectangle shape for 10-15 pounders.  Note:  Even though she was full term, Baby Z was tiny, and at 5 lbs, 12 oz, didn’t make the recommended weight minimum. But she (and therefore we) fell in love with the Boba from the minute we got home from the hospital!  

Fun with Crag-Kiddo while Cragbaby catches some her zzz's.

Fun with Crag-Kiddo while Cragbaby catches some her zzz’s.

4.  BREASTFEEDING – Most carriers claim that it’s possible to nurse on the go, but I always found it to generally be more trouble than it’s worth.  But the Boba has a lot of thoughtful features that make breastfeeding while babywearing a lot less awkward.  All you have to do is expand the panel straps and lower the waistbelt a little to give baby a little more space and line him/her up with your breast, and latch on!  The 16″ panel offers great coverage for being discreet in public (and then a couple of years later doubles as great back support for your growing toddler!)  

5.  PEACEFUL BABY – My favorite reason of all is how happy my little girl seems to be in this carrier.  If she’s tired, she’ll konk out within minutes, and often sleep so long that I actually have to wake her up to ensure that we’re nursing at least every 3 hours!  For comparison, when placed in a bouncer or on the floor, she’ll rarely last more than an hour or so…  

6.  MADE FOR ADVENTURES - When it  comes to outdoor adventures both big and small, this carrier is a must have for transportation to and from the crag and along the trail.  And the benefits won’t end when the newborn phases does – as Baby Z gets bigger, she’ll be able to see and interact with the world from the safety of mom, first with her head poking out of the top while I wear her on the front, and eventually riding on my back.

Sleep in heavenly peace.

Sleep in heavenly peace.

On most days I wear Baby Z for anywhere from 2-6 hours, and her Daddy often gets in an hour or two as well in the evenings (for benefits of babywearing, click here and here.)  This enables us to provide her with the comfort and security that every newborn needs without having to neglect my active 4 year old (not to mention that almost all of my writing is done while babywearing these days…) With this carrier, I can sometimes even catch fleeting glimpses of SuperMom sometimes – as I find myself able to cook, clean, and entertain toddler all with a sleeping baby snuggled up next to my chest!  

For all the other moms (and dads) out there, what piece(s) of baby gear bring out YOUR super powers?