Fit4Mom Body Back: Weeks 3 + 4

I’m tracking my progress through Fit4Mom’s eight-week, mom’s-only fitness program, Body Back. Never heard of it? It’s from the same company that offers Stroller Strides.

Read Fit4Mom Body Back: Week 1.

Read Fit4Mom Body Back: Week 2.

Learn more about Body Back.

Week 3 + 4 Recap

The last two weeks have had their challenges. During the week of September 29, our family was on vacation in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. This past week just got away from me—I’ve taken on a few side projects, had an all-day workshop to attend over the weekend, and October just always seems to be a ridiculously busy month. These two weeks were excuse-filled, but honestly, sometimes I think that’s OK. More on that below.

Workouts Weeks 3 + 4

Monday, September 29: Planned rest day

Tuesday, September 30: Skipped workout

This is the first of many excuses you’ll find in this recap of my workouts, but FWIW, we were traveling to Wisconsin on Tuesday, and time just got away from me. Traveling with a two-year-old is hard, yo.

Wednesday, October 1: Couch to 5K workout

Thursday, October 2: Body Pump group fitness class

The resort where we stayed had a full-on gym, and I took advantage of the perk of free group fitness classes. If you’re not familiar with Body Pump, it’s basically a weight lifting class that hits every major muscle group in 50 minutes.

Friday, October 3: Couch to 5K

Saturday, October 4: Body Back Bootcamp

On Saturday, we headed inside for a circuit workout.

Sunday, October 5: Couch to 5K

Monday, October 6: Planned rest day

Tuesday, October 7: Body Back

Tuesday night’s workout was a tough one. It was another circuit workout, but with a twist. The instructor set up four stations, each with five to six exercises. Two stations were primarily strength exercises; two were cardio. Here’s how it worked: At your first station, you did each exercise listed eight times, then seven times, then six times, then five… you get the picture. Once you finished the station, you moved on to the next one and started the process over.

Wednesday, October 8: Skipped workout

Thursday, October 9: Couch to 5K

Friday, October 10: Skipped workout

Saturday, October 11: Skipped workout

On Saturday, I went to an all-day workshop for creative entrepreneurs–more on that in another post–so I skipped my Body Back class.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

So here’s the thing about excuses: I know I’m not supposed to make them. Here is the other thing about excuses: Sometimes they are legit. Here’s the other other thing about excuses: Sometimes they aren’t legit, but you just need a break, which is legit. I try really hard not to beat myself up over “bad days” or “bad weeks.” In fact, I find that classifying something like a day, week, or even a meal as “bad,” is exactly zero help.

The truth is, I have a lot of priorities, and I do the best I can to juggle them all. But when things start to fall apart, sometimes the best thing I can do is step away for a week, get my life back in order, and start fresh. At this point in my fitness journey, a few missed workouts does not mean that I’ve given up–I’ve been in the habit for long enough now that I know the difference between needing a breather and just being lazy. This past week, I needed a breather to catch up on some other aspects of my life.

Nutrition Week 3+ 4

Week 3: Honestly, it was tough to stay on track while on vacation. I did the best I could, eating breakfasts and lunches in our room, which had a kitchenette. However, I was not vigilant and it shows in my progress report.

Lunch and Snacks at My Desk

Packed lunch: Chicken salad with a low-carb tortilla and lettuce; hummus with chopped cucumber; two mandarins; string cheese.

Week 4: I got back on track and did pretty well this past week. A big help was that our instructor asked us to post our meal plans on Facebook, and I pretty much stuck to mine. I made healthy lunches and snacks all week, including the chicken salad recipe I’ve adapted from the Body Back journal. I’m going to post the recipe here later this week. I also made Cincinnati Turkey Chili, which is one of my staple recipes, and I ate that for dinner several times.

Progress Report

Week 3: +1.2
Week 4: -1.4
Total: -3.3

Follow Lou @ Mommy Sanest’s board Body Back Approved Recipes + Resources on Pinterest.

A Visit to Green Meadows Petting Farm

Back in July, I stumbled across an article on Red Tricycle Chicago that highlighted Chicago-area farms offering family friendly activities. Ever since our outing to Garden Patch Farms in June, I’ve been wanting to take Emme to another farm. The petting zoo aspect of Green Meadows Petting Farm caught my attention, and I became mildly obsessed taking Emme to this Wisconsin farm.

But I needed an excuse to make the trip.
A Visit to Green Meadows Petting Farm in East Troy, Wisconsin. Add this petting farm to your list of must-do activities with toddlers in Chicagoland. Only 90 miles from the Chicago area.

Luckily, my husband had a conference last week in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin where he would be staying at Timber Ridge Resort, which features an indoor water park. It was the perfect excuse for a mini-family vacation.

Lake Geneva is less than 90 miles from our home in the western suburbs of Chicago — incredibly easy to get to — and Green Meadows Petting Farm was about 20 miles from our hotel in East Troy, Wisconsin. It was the perfect day trip for Emme and I while Daddy spent the afternoon in meetings.

Welcome to Green Meadow Petting Farm | www.mommysanest.com

The entrance to Green Meadows Petting Farm farm is a bit unassuming, but beyond this yellow building, the grounds blew me away. For $13.50 each (children under 1 are free), Emme and I had access to more activities and animals than I expected. Admission to Green Meadows Petting Farm also included a hayride, a pony ride, and a pumpkin picked from the farm’s pumpkin patch.

Green Meadows Petting Farms| www.mommysanest.com

We lucked out with perfect weather: blue skies, sunshine, and temperatures in the mid-70s temperatures. We took advantage of the picturesque day and spent hours exploring.

Green Meadow Petting Farm | www.mommysanest.comFrom a fleet of Cozy Coups to a variety of bikes, a small merry-go-round, and a learning center with a train set, there was so much to keep Emme busy at Green Meadows Petting Farm that she could have easily played for an hour or more without even bothering with the animals.

Goats at Green Meadow Petting Farm | www.mommysanest.com

I did eventually convince her to move on from the toys so that we could check out the animals.

Green Meadows Petting Farms | www.mommysanest.com

Despite what it looks like, no kittens were harmed in the making of these memories.

We didn’t even go to every pen, but we did manage to get up close and personal with goats, kittens, and chickens. From afar we saw horses, a Texas longhorn, and pigs. Feeding the animals was definitely one of Emme’s favorite parts of the day.

Chicken at Green Meadows Petting Farm | www.mommysanest.com

Playground at Green Meadow Petting Farm | www.mommysanest.com

We wrapped up our visit to Green Meadows Petting Farm on the playground, picked out a pumpkin, and took a pony ride (included with admission). At that point, I was too tired to wait for the next hayride, which runs roughly once an hour.

Pumpkin Patch at Green Meadow Petting Farm | www.mommysanest.com

“It’s heavy, Mommy.”

Pony Ride at Green Meadow Petting Farm | www.mommysanest.com

There was more to do at Green Meadows Petting Farm than I ever expected, and I’m so glad we drove the 30 minutes from Lake Geneva to visit it. We stayed almost three hours and probably could have stuck around longer. Emme loved it, and I’m hoping we’ll have the opportunity to come back.

If You Go To Green Meadows Petting Farm

  • Bring quarters for animal feed. Emme loved feeding the animals, and I had fun feeding the goats and chickens too.
  • Consider packing a picnic lunch. There’s plenty of seating where you can have lunch. Green Meadows Petting Farm does have some food you can buy. I ended up getting Emme baked Cheetos because I’m campaigning hard for that “Mother of the Year” award. I bought myself a cookie because that’s the award for “Mother of the Year.”
  • Plan to spend a few hours. Like I said, there’s a ton to see and do.
  • Go on a weekday if you can. I cannot imagine how busy this place gets on the weekends, especially in the fall when farms visits are on everyone’s to-do lists. There were other people at the farm, but it was completely manageable and there were few lines to deal with.
  • Check the schedule. In the spring and summer, the farm is closed on Mondays. It’s open seven days a week in the fall from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Admission to the farm ends at 2 p.m.
  • Call ahead if you have a group. There are details on the website about making reservations if you’re planning to come with a group of 20 or more.

14 Must-do Fall Toddler Activities

Happy Autumnal Equinox! If you’re in the central time zone like those of us in the Chicagoland, the equinox happens at 9:29 tonight. So since fall is officially upon us, I wanted to share our plans to enjoy the season and keep the toddler entertained with fun fall activities over the next few months.

14 must-do toddler fall activities for your family bucket list.

1. Go to a football game.

We got a jump on this one when we took Emme to a Northwestern football game in early September. Both my husband and I went to graduate school at Northwestern, so we try to go to at least one game every season. We found out at the last minute that it was Local Heroes Day, and my husband, a police officer, was able to get discounted tickets. We also had the opportunity to go on the field for the national anthem, which was kind of neat. Here Emme is enjoying a snack in the stands and sporting her new hat. I had no idea what to expect from her behavior- and attention span-wise, but she was actually pretty good and seemed to enjoy herself.

2. Check out a local fall festival.

Again, we crossed this one off the list early and attended Oktoberfest in Berwyn. But it rained on and off, so we cut our time at the festival short. Maybe we’ll get to another one in the coming weeks.

3. Visit a farm with animals and a pumpkin patch.

We’re going on a mini-vacation to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin because my husband will be attending a conference there. One of the activities I’m planning while we’re there is a trip to Green Meadow Farms in East Troy, which is about a 20-minute drive from where we’ll be staying. I’ve been wanting to check this farm out ever since I read about it in the Chicago edition of Red Tricycle in July.

4. Go on a hayride.

Quintessential family fall fun.

5. Splash at an indoor water park.

We’ll be going to Timber Ridge Lodge in Lake Geneva, which has an indoor water park.

6. Decorate a pumpkin.

Tiny pumpkins can be decorated with markers. Perfect for tiny people.

7. Go to the zoo.

We’re planning to go to Boo at the Zoo at Brookfield Zoo.

8. Dress up for Halloween and trick-or-treat.

I have given zero thought to a Halloween costume this year. I should probably get on that.

9. Have a dance party or two.

Because duh.

10. Explore a new playground.

Temperatures are dropping, and soon we’ll be stuck indoors. We want to make the most of the mild fall weather and visit a few more playgrounds in 2014.

11. Take fall photos.

Fall means it’s time to update our family photo, just in time for the holidays.

12. Visit an art museum.

We’re planning a visit to The Art Institute in Chicago. I was a little skeptical about this outing, but my husband and I did some recon this week, and it’s far more family friendly than I was expecting.

13. Visit a children’s museum.

There are three to choose from in the western suburbs of Chicago.

14. Learn about Thanksgiving.

Sometimes I underestimate the ability of young children to grasp less concrete concepts, which is dumb and probably partially lazy on my part, but honestly, my first instinct was to wonder if this was necessary. But really, is it ever too early to talk about the meaning of Thanksgiving and how we should be thankful for the good things in our lives? I’m going to start by getting books about Thanksgiving that are age-appropriate. We’ll see if I can come up with anything else.

Want to see how we did with our bucket list of fall toddler activities?

A Trip to the Butterfly Festival at Garden Patch Farms

Taking a young toddler to a new place for a larger event, even a ‘kids’ event, is always a bit of a crap shoot — and we didn’t know what to expect at the Butterfly Festival at Garden Patch Farms. And, you never know how an almost 2-year-old is going to react. Will there be age-appropriate activities? Will she be in a good mood? Will I be able to let her out of the stroller to roam around without worrying that she’s going to run into a street? Does the time of the event work relatively well with her nap schedule?

Summer fun in the western suburbs includes a trip to Garden Patch Farms, a you-pick berry farm. We went for their annual Butterfly Festival.

Yet, as Emme is now a legit toddler, I’ve done a lot of research about fun summer activities, and the Butterfly Festival at Garden Patch Farms caught my attention. So this weekend, Emme and I, along with my sister, brother-in-law, and their 20-month-old son, ventured to Garden Patch Farms in Homer Glen, Illinois, a you-pick orchard and berry farm, for their 2nd annual Butterfly Festival.

The event kicked off with the release of hundreds of butterflies. While I was expecting swarms of butterflies, it didn’t quite happen that way. The butterflies are slow to start, and many don’t take flight or go too far initially. That said, Emme couldn’t have been more excited to get up close and personal with a Monarch that landed near our feet.

Garden Patch Farms Butterfly Festival

When most of the butterflies finally flew away, we explored the rest of Garden Patch Farms. What I liked best about the Butterfly Festival was that it was very contained. There was enough to see and do without feeling overwhelmed, the crowd was manageable, and the space big enough that we felt comfortable letting Emme and her cousin roam around.

Emme’s favorite part of the day was the chickens. She doesn’t regularly get into something for long periods of time, but I had convince her to move on from the chicken coup.

Garden Patch Farms Butterfly Festival

We ended our day at Garden Patch Farms in the strawberry fields. While the crop wasn’t quite ripe enough, it was still fun to watch Emme and her her cousin pick strawberries and throw straw at each other.

The Butterfly Festival was free and totally worth the 35-minute drive from the near western suburbs of Chicago — close enough to be no big deal, but far enough to feel like we were in a totally new and different setting. We loved our visit to Garden Patch Farms and can’t wait for next year’s festival.