Lessons learned from a healthy and beautiful town.

March 18th, 2012 by karla

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When I first moved to Park City, I thought I discovered the second “Hollywood”.  Everyone was slim, fit and beautiful. This was a stark contrast to the South I moved from, where being slim and fit was hardly the norm. I remember running on the picturesque Park City trails one day and seeing a group of large people walking towards me.  “Finally, I thought, not everyone that lives here could be featured in a health magazine.”  However, as the group got closer, I realized they were not locals but part of a “fat camp” and were being led by a model of a trainer.  I’m not going to lie; I was intimidated.    How could I be a trainer in this town when most of the people appeared to be trainers themselves?  I actually had such a hard time coming to terms with all the “beautiful healthy people”; I decided to take some time off work.

As I settled into the city, I realized all these gorgeous families were really just ordinary people, not health nuts.   Although the people of Park City are slim by American standards, they are hardly all athletes who count calories.  When I did finally decide to start working again (alleluia, I missed it desperately), it became apparent people weren’t actually any more fit than my clients in North Carolina. Rather, I noticed some striking lifestyle differences.  I hope sharing these differences will be an eye-opener and inspiration to others.  I think it is important to note, most of these realizations have to do with food choices, which is no surprise since it plays a much larger part in weight loss than exercise!

1. People don’t seem to eat out as often.  Many people make meals at home.  Casseroles and fried food are not their staples.  Rather, they chose local meats, cheeses and vegetables.

2. There aren’t as many chain restaurants.  Besides 2 popular fast food eateries and one family chain restaurant, most places are local.  In general, these places seem to offer healthier menus.

3. There are no buffet restaurants.

4. There are no donut shops.

5. The center aisles of the grocery store do not get a ton of activity.  Most people shop in the fresh produce section.  Whole Foods is always packed.

6. There are several different Farmer’s Markets offered at various times during the week.  CSA’s (community supported agriculture) are very common.

7. I’ve never seen anyone buy “Little Debbie’s” or packaged cookies/cakes/donuts.  Don’t get me wrong; people here eat sweets!  The ice-cream aisle seems to get lots of activity as does the novelty chocolates.  I cannot tell you how many times the chocolate almond dispenser is empty at Whole Foods!  Also, people love to bake their own deserts!

8. People live an “active lifestyle”.  Contrary to my original assumptions, not everyone is training for their next big race, ski event, or spending hours in the gym!  A simple stroll up a mountain trails is a fabulous workout here. People ride bikes to work, festivals, dinner, and concerts.  They take walks in the evenings.  They stroll trails while their kids are in activities.  They may not get in a killer workout every day but they do something small EVERYDAY!  When your living at 7,000 feet, that something “small” counts for a lot!

9. No one is ever on an exercise “kick” or a “diet”.   Exercise, whether it be an intentional gym workout or walking to the grocery store, is part of everyday life.  Similarly, people don’t need to “diet” when they’ve adopted a consistent healthy lifestyle.

10. People love their wine and beer but they seem to stop after 1-2 drinks. Brewery or novelty beer is much more popular than mass marketed beers.  I would say overall drinking is much lower.   It is Utah after all……

In conclusion, this is nothing we don’t already know.  European cities have lived this way for centuries.  However, I think it is important to realize the positive impact on the overall health of a population when a community has adopted these standards of living.   Hopefully more and more communities will move towards a more sustainable, active and healthy way of life.

Thankful

January 2nd, 2012 by karla

Although it is a little hazy, I remember the days of triplet infants; of being trapped in the house for weeks, of staying in my pajamas for days, of doing nothing but taking care of babies for hours at a time.  It was suffocating, exhausting and sometimes downright depressing.  But somehow, it was also exhilarating, rewarding, and utterly blissful.  Having children is amazing, it defines the statement ” words cannot describe”.  This is coming from me, an independent strong-headed women who spent about 20+ years denying I would ever have children.  Children are a sacrifice, a huge one, but for me, it has been worth triple the triplet drama.

Recently I’ve read a few books where pregnancy, while not the focus, was part of the story.  In one, a women suffers repeated miscarriages and never ends up pregnant.  In another, repeated adoptions fell through.  I know of a women right now pregnant with multiples who is suffering a great loss….and hopefully a miracle.  Some of the women closest to me have suffered miscarriages, multiple times.   I was blessed to have needed very little help getting pregnant, a successful (albeit difficult) pregnancy and 3 healthy smart children.  Life has been very good to me and I sometimes I can’t help but wonder…why me?

The holidays are always an emotional time.  Christmas with children is beautiful and so much fun!  At the same time, they are off school for two weeks.  TWO LONG WEEKS in which you are reminded of how wonderful children are but also how tedious, emotional and self-sacrificing parenthood is.  January has always been a difficult month for me.  It is a new year with new resolutions and the month I turn one year older. But life has been really good this past year as my kids become more independent, and I embrace our big move and the awesome recreation our new city offers.  So this New Year my resolution is to be more present and aware of life in all its goodness.

So as we settle into a new year and old routines, I am thankful.  I am thankful for the insane amount of work triplet infants were.  I’m thankful for the commotion of 3-year olds.  I am thankful for girlfriends, who understand motherhood and know the importance of letting it all go from-time-to time.

Today I began to wallow in the record high temps and complete lack of snow in what is usually a gorgeous white wonderland of a city by now.  So I packed away my spanking new Nordic skis, which have been taunting me for weeks under my Christmas tree, and drove the kids to the local skate rink.   I figure skated for several years as a teenager and I had been dreaming of the day I could take my daughters on the ice.  It was ambitious to take triplet 3-year olds ice-skating for the first time by myself.  It could have been a disaster.  But it was awesome.  By the end of the session, they were insistent on making their way around the ice without any help.  They also insisted on signing up for lessons and coming back the next day to try again.  Most importantly, I relished the moment and was reminded, life is pretty fantastic.

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Hello snow attire..

December 8th, 2011 by karla

I’m afraid I can think of nothing witty to talk about lately so I will simply post one funny picture and then update our progress on adapting to a real winter.

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I assure you Josie is not taking a dump in the snow.  Although, I will not pretend I have never let my child pee outdoors (how do you think she perfected this squat?).  Rather, I think she is trying to pretend she isn’t bothered in the least by the 2 degree temperature on this very cold day.  I believe I was the one saying we had better head back inside before we all froze while Josie argued she was perfectly content with the temperature.  Yeah….

We recently moved from a warm and humid North Carolina climate to a cold and dry Utah mountain climate. We all had a a lot to learn about proper winter attire. I personally love warm winter sweaters and layers.  Who doesn’t love boots…I now own 5 whopping pairs!  I quickly learned the importance of technical clothes.  Now, throwing on the appropriate gear (coat, hat and my arm-warmers) before leaving the house is second nature.  But getting 3 preschoolers geared up and out the door on time is tricky.  We have figured out how to make it work.

Coats suck!   I dress them in sweaters or jackets for short trips to and from parking lots.  Coats are too bulky and interfere with my children’s ability to buckle themselves.  Not cool.  If we are going to spend a substantial amount of time outside, I throw their coats in the car.

Warm crocs rule!  The kids can put them on themselves and they keep their feet warm enough for short walks outside.

We have “snow” gloves and “walking” mittens.  Snow gloves take a little more time to put on so we pack them for outdoor play.  On walks, or trips to the playground, the kids put on their own “walking mittens”.

The expensive snow suits/bibs are worth it.  They aren’t bulky but keep the kids warm.  Bibs can be worn in the car and that way, boots can go on as well.  The really nice snowsuits are actually light-weight enough they don’t interfere with car seats. Otherwise, coats go on after we arrive at the snowground.

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Once you figure out how to dress, the cold really isn’t that bad.  It sure hasn’t stopped my kids from enjoying time outside.  Mia and Marcus love to roll and roughplay down hills.  Although Mia isn’t much for adventures, she can be convinced to give most things a try.  Josie is cautious but will be the first one to try something as long as she has seen an adult do it.  She’s all about fun as long as it is safe.  Marcus is the thrill-seeker.   He wants to spin the most on the snow tubes, build the biggest jumps on the hills and get a running start to speed down the mountain.   Without a doubt, Josie appears to be our outdoorsy girl, being the last to come inside and the first to take off her shoes in the warm weather.  Mia can be a bit of a princess, preferring the clean indoors but surprising everyone with her wild ways from time to time.  Marcus took the longest to adapt to the weather.  I had my doubts he was going to make it through the winter after a grueling walk to the neighbors during our first snowfall.  Although he is still bothered by the bulk of winter gear, he definitely has begun to enjoy his time in the snow.

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Truthfully, I have started to crave fat…butter and creamy soups.  Although my weight hasn’t changed, I think I may have put on a protective layer of fat to deal with the single digit temps.  Good thing it’s holiday cookie time, I hear January and February are even colder…

FYI, my friend Cara featured me on her Motherland blog on CT.com  Check it out! Love you Cara!

My Hectic Life

October 17th, 2011 by karla

Sure, things are insanely easier now that the kids are 3 but I’m not going to lie, life is still very hectic.  For example

- I still eat standing up

- My meals are often my kids leftovers

- When I’m home by myself, making dinner is impossible without the TV.

- There are still no open cups allowed in our house

- Some days, I still drink my coffee cold

- I need at least 3 cups of coffee during the course of a day

- I go to the bathroom with the door open

- I sometimes don’t wash my hands

- Once the kids are buckled into their car seats, I go back inside for at least 5 more minutes to get my stuff ready to go.

- I bought my kids “winter crocs” and fleece lined jackets for them to wear ONLY to and from school.  The crocs are a breeze for the kids to put on themselves and I refuse to mess with coats and carseats every morning. Even in a blizzard,  my kids will walk the 10 feet from the car to school  in  fleece lined jackets and warm crocs.  No bulky coats, no gloves, no hats, no scarves, no fuss!  (Don’t worry, I have actual snow clothes for them to play outside in).

- I buy children’s ibuprofen in bulk.  The largest size and the double package!

- All three of my kids still take a bath together

-I’m going to write my own book titled “everyone calm the “f” down!”

-When a grandparent asks “Do you guys want a break?” I still laugh in their face “uh…duh….hell yes!”

- I sometimes don’t let my children drink water when we’re out and about to avoid spending hours in the bathroom (because of course, “I don’t need to go potty right now”..when we are in the freaking’ bathroom!

- A full night’s rest, without a single waking, is still pretty rare.

-7:30 AM is still considered “sleeping in”

- 7:30-10:00 PM is still my favorite time of the day

- When someone nostalgically states “They grown up so fast, before you know it they’ll be in kindergarten”, I’m secretly jumping up and down with joy!

- TV is still a lifesaver!  Honestly, I feel like I should write the creators of Dora and Diego a personal thank you note!

Although life is much more manageable, having triplets still has its quirks.  I imagine one day we will eat family dinners, I may get a full night’s rest and I won’t spend half my day in the bathroom.  Until then, yeah, life is still pretty hectic.

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“What did they say?” and “multiples bond”

October 11th, 2011 by karla

Some funny things have come out of my 3-year-old’s mouths recently

- “Let’s super-glue the computer back together” – Marcus

- “My doggie’s name is princess dragon bunny bop-bop” – Mia

- “Excuse me, that was a burp that came out of my bottom.”  - Josie

I’m going to start writing these things down because honestly, I have heard some really wild things lately.  Also, out of the blue Josie has decided to start calling me “mom” rather than “mommy”.  I thought that was a teenage thing?  Luckily I’m still “mommy” to the other two.  ”Mom” feels a  little old to me….

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On another note entirely, we are having a blast with all of our new friends!   I’ve always stayed away from “mom’s” playgroups in the past.  They simply didn’t work out for me.  My young kids were way too demanding for me to enjoy more than two seconds of conversation.  And, I was insanely jealous of the moms who could not only hold a conversation but could also enjoy a freakin’ cup of coffee.  So, I made fun of them in the past.

I have no shame.  Now that I can drink my latte while talking about what winter sport I’m thinking of taking up, I’m all about playdates!   In fact, I make plans with other moms almost every day.   I know one of the kid’s favorite playdates involve their new friends Luna and Zuma, twin 3-year olds that live down the road from us.  I notice a difference in the way my kids play with either young children who have  several siblings very close in age or other multiples.   They just “get each other”.  Truthfully, my kids can be intimidating to other 3-year olds.   They are very “cliquish” and play elaborate make-believe games with each other for hours that seem to continue on from earlier in the day.  They rarely play independently; and they travel around the house and playgrounds in a herd.  However, some children have no problems jumping right in with them and being excepted as part of the story right away.  That is the case with Luna and Zuma. These 5 seemed to mesh upon meeting.  The most amazing thing is the girls are identical, I am just starting to be able to tell them apart, but the kids already will call them by the correct name.  I think it’s amazing!

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Hot Tub Therapy

October 1st, 2011 by karla

Why do we always underestimate the power of “therapy”?  My friend Cara, recently described her humorous take on her experience with her life coach on her blog.  I’ve spent some time on a therapist couch myself, and it was extremely helpful.  However, I’ve recently discovered a whole new type of therapy, hot tub therapy!

The house we are currently renting has a sauna on the back porch.  At first, I didn’t think much of it.  I’ve never been one to spend time soaking in a bath and I truly didn’t think I’d actually use the hot-tub very often. As summer wraps up, we decided to fill it up… I was so wrong!  The night-time temperatures are starting to drop  here in the mountain states.  Not only does soaking in the hot-tub warm me up enormously, but it also serves as my life coach, marriage counselor, and spiritual teacher.  I’m not kidding.

Max and I have gotten into the habit of jumping into the hot-tub together after the kids go to bed each night.  Normally, we would immediately hop onto our separate couches and flip on the tv.  Now, we spend a good 15-20 minutes together with a glass of wine reflecting on the day, talking about our future goals, and discussing the happiness and stresses of daily life.   We all know how important this is in a marriage  (the wine and the talking) but actually taking the time every day to fit it in is a lot harder than it should be.

I assure you, I am not reading bible quotes or chanting buddhist incantations in the hot-tub each night.  But, my 15 minutes of soaking contributes to my spiritual health. I’ve always loved the outdoors and felt happy admiring the beauty of nature.  Our back porch happens to overlook a nature preserve.  It is common to see deer, fox and even a moose or two wondering around the “backyard”.  We live in Utah and even though Park City is a modern resort town, the entire state it is still pretty rural.  Almost everyone has beautiful views and wildlife out their windows.  For me, there is nothing as spiritually soothing as being present in the moment, perfectly content in life and admiring earth’s beauty.  I know, I’m sounding a little granola; so be it.  It is amazing to watch a blue heron fly right past you while you are in your hot-tub on your back porch.  It would turn anyone into a little bit of a tree hugger!

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Now after our 15-20 minutes of hot-tub therapy, Max and I happily resume our normal evening routine of ice-cream, beer and tv.  Heaven forbid I miss a Survivor or Max miss Sunday night football.  But, taking the time out of our day to revel in the “now” and appreciate where we are in life has been good.

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On Taking Your Kids to Vegas….

August 27th, 2011 by karla

Vegas isn’t the best family vacation spot but when it is within driving distance and you have a nice place to stay, you might as well give it a shot.  Max happened to be traveling to Vegas for work and we were in that awful week between the end of summer camps and the start of school, so we decided to take a road trip.   I bravely chose to drive my triplet 3-year-olds 7 hours BY MYSELF through the deserted but beautiful state of Utah.   What could have been an awful experience; my car breaking down with only a small restaurant in the shape of a sombrero hat to run to, not having redbox save the day after the movie we rented from the library was scratched and I realized I forgot to bring the rest of the DVD’s,  having to stop on the side of the interstate (that has an 80 mph speed limit) so my recently potty trained children could “go”, turned out to be very smooth sailing.  We made the trip with only one small snafu, an unanticipated stop at a truckstop because all three of my children desperately needed to use the potty only to have all three of them suddenly decide they no longer needed to go after a 10 min wait.  Including 2 McDonald playspace stops, we made the trip in about 8 hours.  I have to brag here, my kids were awesome road trippers!

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There are a few things to keep in mind when taking your young tots to Vegas:

- The pool is crucial.  We stay at the MGM Signature which has some great kiddie pools and isn’t too crowded.  The majority of our time was spent at the pool.

- Do not attempt to take the kids on the strip.  Instead, if you have access to a car, take advantage of the free Valet parking in Vegas.  We were able to easily drive from one resort to another and all the attractions were in an easy walk from the hotel entrances.

- Avoid walking through the casino if possible.  Your kids will be utterly perplexed on why they cannot play the slots.  ”What do you mean these video games are just for adults”

- Be ready to explain why the police officer was interrogating the person laying in the middle of the hotel lobby.

- Kids stand-out in Vegas.  I might as well have been charging admission for people to stare at the triplets.

- Likewise, people in Vegas are pretty friendly.  After a few drinks, they will say anything.  ”Mary, stop staring at those tigers…you have to get over here and see these kids!”  ”Holy crap, are those triplets?  See what could happen Lisa, we ARE NOT trying for another kid!”

- There are only so many wild cats your kids care to see.

- Avoid your neighbors at all cost.  My kids were running around the hotel room screaming at 7:30 AM.  On my last trip to Vegas, that was practically the middle of the night.  There was no way a confrontation with the people next door to us could have been pretty.

- The M&M museum was the biggest hit of the whole trip.  You can watch M&M’s put on a dance show and watch a free 3-D movie.  Of course you can’t get out of the place without buying a $10 souvenir but it’s worth it.

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Would I take my kids to Vegas again?  Maybe but only because it was cheap entertainment and I didn’t have to cook or clean for a few days.   Plus, the drive near Zion National Park was gorgeous.

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Certainly with older kids, there are plenty of shows, rides and game spaces that would be perfect for teenagers.  They also may sleep in, which would have avoided the strange combination of toddlers and a group of high-heeled, mini-skirted girls with veils meeting up in the elevator at 8  AM.

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Solution to Age 3 – Keep Your Cool

August 11th, 2011 by karla

This is a hard age.  I thought I was feeding my children to much sugar since they turned 3 since they spend most of their day manic.  I read that if hyperactivity was diagnosed at age 3, 90% of kids would have it.  Mine fall in that 90%. Then I began to wonder if my discipline technique needed a make-over.  What had worked in the past, didn’t seem to be working any more.  I recently received 3 books on preschoolers in the mail.  Each one gives tips that makes sense for each of my three children because what they say is so true, each child responds differently to different techniques (I’ll leave you to guess which child each book is geared toward): “Positive Discipline for Preschoolers”, “Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child”, and “How to Behave so your Preschooler will too”.

One of the mom’s in my “mom’s on bikes” groups asked me if the “Terrible 2′s” were really the hardest.   Several of us laughed…”just wait till 3″ they said.  I was relieved I wasn’t the only one whose three-year olds were completely losing it.

So is 3 the hardest age so far?  In some ways, yes.  I think parent’s attitudes, behaviors, and reactions play a huge roll  during the preschool years; therefore, there is a lot of pressure to keep your cool.  I’m realizing how closely preschoolers mirror your behavior and tune into your reactions.  ”Mommy, did we make the right turn, are you about to get frustrated?”  Yelling doesn’t go very far with preschoolers, so taking lots of really deep breaths  is probably the hardest part of this age.  With triplets, I’m about ready to hyperventilate.

There is a solution that seems to work.  Activities and structure.  After I found one of my children sidewalk chalking our mailbox with a naked bottom, I made a “potty” list complete with pictures of children wiping their bottoms, pulling up their pants, flushing the toilet and washing their hands.  It seems like flushing the toilet and pulling up our pants are obvious toileting steps but by simply taping the list to the bathroom wall, my kids now wear pants most of the day and the bathroom doesn’t smell like a porta-potty.  I did the same thing for our bedtime routine and after two weeks, the kids still go over to check the procedure every night.  Surprisingly, by pointing out “water and potty” breaks take place BEFORE getting into bed,  bedtime has gotten much smoother and faster.

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And of course, camps and childcare are a necessity.  The fabulous thing about living in a small town, you don’t have to plan months ahead, places are often not packed, and summer camps have openings!  The kids did a “water camp” at the local co-op preschool last week.  This week, I have playdates and childcare lined up everyday and next week it’s back to gymnastics camp before preschool starts.  It takes a village to raise preschoolers.  Luckily, this small town realizes that and offers plenty affordable reprieves!  You simply cannot keep your cool without plenty of breaks away from your children.

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Then, there is the great outdoors.  While we haven’t done a lot of lounging by the pool this summer, we have enjoyed all the recreation.  I go mountain biking about twice a week and still haven’t explored a quarter of the trails in this area.  Their is a park on every corner here, concerts geared towards families take place almost every evening, and restaurants have outdoor seating complete with huge open areas for children to run and play.  Parent’s can have a beer and relax while their child commands the ocean from giant rocks.  And although their arent’ a ton of neighborhood pools, there are some spectacular “mini water parks”.  You simply can’t beat a $5 price tage for half a day entertainment in the water.

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I’m realizing more than ever how important finding outlets for your preschoolers is.  The first thing Park City parents say to me after the discussion on how I stay sane with triplets is “Thank goodness they are old enough for ski lessons this winter”.  Truly, I can barely stay inside for 2 hours with my children, I have no idea how I’d manage a whole season.

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Organization has officially been thrown out the window

July 29th, 2011 by karla

I like organization and I like to keep things clean and tidy.   It’s no surprise I loved having my infant triplets on a schedule.  With multiples, schedules and organization are they keys to survival…or so I thought.  I have done a great job on keeping my kids on a schedule but as they get older, I’m being thrown for a loop.  First it was naps.  For the most part, Josie dropped her nap entirely months ago.   The past few months, the kids have been staying up till 9 or so.   Delaying bed time became their passion in life.  Sometimes Marcus wouldn’t go to sleep until 10 PM.  So, I decided to try to drop their naps.   This went ok with Marcus but Mia obviously still needs a nap.   She totally loses it by 5 PM without one.  So now, I never know who is going to nap and when.

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Mia

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The kids and I at the zoo

Then came potty training.  The girls were a piece of cake.  Marcus is finally “trained” after several weeks of sometimes pooping in the potty and sometimes in his pants.  Accidents happen still but overall, everyone is doing great.  But potty-ing is hardly a scheduled thing.   For example, today we spent 45 minutes at the Splash Pad.  In those 45 minutes, we took 5 whopping trips to the bathroom, I kid you not!  And EVERY time somebody either peed or pooped, even though they swore up and down they didn’t have to go 5 minutes earlier.  Since all my kids have been potty trained, I feel like I spend half my day in the bathroom.  Besides that, I have never felt so unsanitary!  I just can’t seem to get them to wash their hands every time they go potty..it is so much work.  Sometimes I find a child running around naked only to find out they had just pooped and never told me.  And the darn little potty, it’s disgusting!  I despise it but the kids prefer it.  It’s a little crazy.  Please…tell me it gets better…and soon!

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Marcus

Enough shit, let’s change the subject : )  We had a fantastic visit with the grandparents recently.  Grammy and Grandpa just left after a whirlwind of a week.  We did the zoo, gardens, festivals, parks, bike rides, fishing and anything else we could squeeze in.  Grandpa was even brave enough to attempt taking Max’s mountain bike up the killer mountain trail behind our house.  It’s hard to visit us here without getting a crash week of exercise and recreation.  The weather was perfect, the kids had a blast and I was thrilled to have a little breather from the constant excitement of raising triplets. We cannot wait for them to return!  I also just joined the local “moms on mountain bikes” rides.  We got out once a week and explore the trails around Park City. The best part, we drop our kids off at arranged and affordable childcare first!  Finally, I have found a mom’s group that I really enjoy.

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Josie fishing, she really enjoys the outdoors!

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Grandpa at the top of the mountain trail behind our house

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Grammy and Grandpa with the gang

Mayberry meets the 21st Century…that’s us?

July 14th, 2011 by karla

A year or so ago, a man stopped me while I was running with the kids in my triplet stroller.  He introduced himself as the town manager and asked if my family would mind doing a photo shoot for our small town of Apex, NC.  I agreed and one Sunday morning, a professional photographer followed us around Apex and took pictures.    Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to get copies of any of the pictures but they did decide to use a few of them in the town magazine.  So, here we are:

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Although we have since moved from this lovely town, it really is a cute area.  It was the epitome of suburbia and a great place to raise a family.  Although I adore Park City, Apex will always hold a special place in my heart!