Sunday, February 27, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 6

Oh Blah.
I only made it into the rock climbing gym one day this week; Wednesday.
And, no, I also did not work out on the hang board at home.  I did not even Look at it.
The Kid's sitter at the gym couldn't make it on Friday, and that gave me an excuse not to go in a second day this week.
Oh Blah.  That is all I can say.  Even at the gym on Wednesday night, I felt Blah.  I stood there yawning between burns despite Kid Rock screaming through my iPod.  As far as my climbing... well, I am stronger than I was six months ago!  I have never been a strong boulderer, but it is that power that I have always needed to train.  It feels like I am in one of those times when one's climbing is in a holding pattern.  You know, you climb and then you just plateau for a bit, and then suddenly something magical happens and you climb harder.  The optimistic side of me says that I am on a plateau and soon I will be stronger.

All of that aside, going back to the climbing gym has been one of the very best things that I have done for our family.  I know that it has made me a better mom and wife, and engaging in something that I had before I was a mom, makes me a better 'me'.  Talking to people about something other than the Kid, or being a mom, is so freaking fabulous.  It is a reminder that I am still a real person, I am not just this person who is responsible for the care, education, and well-being of a child... I am also responsible for my own well-being.

John and I met at the rock climbing gym, and we have spent countless hours there training and hanging out with our friends.  Watching him climb and giving him sh*t when he blows a move is energizing for us.  Something that we took for granted, is now cherished during those four hours a week at the gym.

When we go to the gym, this wonderful girl comes in to watch the Kid.  She dates one of our friends and also works at the gym, in addition to going to school.  I can't thank her enough for her time with our son.  My heart is just ready to burst when I scan the gym to locate the Kid, and find him with a wrench in hand trying to put up holds.  There are days when he will sit and watch the route setter (who is actually partially responsible for John and me being together, but that is another story), and other days when the Kid is on the move for two solid hours.  It is the perfect situation for us as a family; John and I climb, and the Kid can check in with us whenever he needs to.  Some days he checks in a bunch, and other days I have to go find him... usually hanging out in the office with our friends.  I love it that he has the opportunity to spend time with adults (like early 20's) who aren't parents.

I guess the point is, that maybe it doesn't matter how strong I am right now.  What I am getting out of climbing is so much greater than sending the 'blue problem' in the boulder cave.

Oh, and one last comment.... when I said that I give John sh*t when he blows a move, well, that happens like once a month.    My husband is a really badass climber.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 5

So, obviously I am a rock climber, and I write about my efforts to reclaim my climbing skills after having a baby.  The thing is, this isn't just about rock climbing.  It is about remembering who you are after you have a child, and trying to retain some of 'you'.

After I had the Kid, I realized that almost everything about how I defined myself had changed.  Actually, it didn't just change or morph, but most of those defining attributes disappeared.  I went from knowing exactly who I was and what I was doing, to this person who just had no idea what to do.  "I" had just vanished.  It took a year after the Kid was born to begin to search out those things that had always made me "me".
One thing I really missed was rock climbing.  For me it was climbing, but for another mom (or dad) it could be anything physical: yoga, running, snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing.  The activity varies from person to person, but the feeling, the drive, the need is the same.  For five or six years before I got pregnant, one of my defining characteristics was "rock climber".  That is what I did, that is how I met my husband, that is how we spent our weekends, the gym we went to in order to train during the week and in the winter, the magazines we read, the road trips we planned, and the friends that we cherished.  Rock climbing was a huge, huge part of our lives individually and together.
For me, getting back to the rock climbing gym was a tremendous step towards remembering who I was B.K.  - Before Kid.  And to getting back some part of who I was.  I do believe that I am a better parent, when I am a more fulfilled adult.  Additionally, I think that the Kid will benefit from being with a mom who has her own interests and passions.  The endorphins that I get from physical activity (that is meaningful to me) last me a few days, and give me the energy to be a good mom.

That being said.... I know you are on the edge of your seat... how did I do this week?

NO HANG BOARD.  No, I didn't do it.  Wha wha....    I flaked out on it.
Wednesday and Friday: family gym nights.

So, I did make it in two nights (aka late afternoons for those of you who don't have kids, for us, it is the night when you go to sleep around 8:30pm).  The Kid hung out with his wonderful babysitter; she really is the best and I am more than grateful for her.  I am not sure that I am feeling any stronger, but I am there.... climbing... and maybe that is all that matters.

Well, it is all that matters UNTIL SPRING AND I GET ON REAL ROCK!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What's Cooking? Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup (with Quinoa)

Ahhhh yes another winner this weekend!  Again from the fabulous cook book: Quinoa 365.
I have to tell you that I really love this book.  Everything that I have made from it is fabulous.  This weekend I made the Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup.  It is vegetarian and can easily be vegan.  I will first give you the original recipe, then how I adapted it....

Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup
3 Tbsp Butter
3/4 cup chopped onion
One 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup diced roasted red peppers
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
2 tsp white or cane sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup quinoa flour
                                   1 cup half and half cream

Melt the butter is a medium saucepan on medium heat.  Saute the onion until tender - about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, red pepper, basil, sugar and salt.
Whisk the stock and flour together in a medium bowl.  Slowly stir the mixture into the saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then lower the temp for five minutes.
Remove from heat and puree the cooked mixture with a hand blender (or in small batched in a food processor or blender).
Return the soup to the lowest heat setting.  Stir in cream and adjust seasoning as needed.  Serve immediately.

My changes...
I sauteed the onions in olive oil (instead of the butter).
We also don't eat anything from a can (due to the BPA lining in all cans, except for Eden products), so I roasted the red peppers in my oven.
We used vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock.
I used Quinoa flakes, instead of the Quinoa flour, because that is what we had in the house.
I omitted the cream, it really didn't need it.  The soup was thick and tasty without the cow's milk.

I loved this soup!  Loved it.  So glad that I doubled the recipe.

Try it and enjoy.  Also check out the book.  It really is terrific.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 4

I made it to the gym on Wednesday evening with the family, and Friday just with the Kid.  No hang board this week!  My plan is to do one week on the hang board and one week off (uh so this week coming up I will have to get on it).  On Wednesday, I sent the long traverse that my husband set a few weeks ago.  Got it first burn, and thought "why were the final moves so hard last week?".  I even went upstairs to the weight machines Wednesday night, which is always a good thing.  It seems as though I always run out of time by the end of my session... gone are the days when I could go the gym for 4-5 hours without a care.  The Kid has fun at the gym for about two hours, and then he is shot.
By Friday, I still felt sore from Wednesday night, and that is the way it should be as far as I am concerned.  Friday didn't boast any new sends - but it is plastic, so who cares anyway.  It is only a measure of improvement.

It is mid-February, one of the times during the year that John and I would road trip to Joshua Tree for some desert climbing.

Although we have planned to return the past two years, it just hasn't worked out for us.  Last year the Kid was just learning to walk, and it would have been too much trying to contain him on the plane, and then keep him away from all of the sharp things found in the desert.  The first time I went to J.T. I realized that everything in the desert was sharp... except for coyotes.  This year, a trip would stress us financially.  Being a single income family adjusts priorities, and our top priority is for me to continue to stay home and raise the Kid.   Perhaps I will post some of my travel journal entries from our last trips.

On the bright side... unlike plastic gym problems... real rock boulder problems will still be there, whether I return this year or next.  Gunsmoke will still be waiting for me.  So will Slashfash and Fist Full of Walnuts.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 3

Saturday: rest day
Sunday, Monday and Tuesday: hang board
Wednesday: Family Gym Night
Thursday: rest day
Friday: Family Gym Night

Yes, I am feeling motivated.  Finally.  Not only did I actually make it to the rock climbing gym twice this week, but I also got on that damn hang board three days.  The weird elbow tendon issue from last Friday night resolved itself in about two days, which is fabulous.
I am trying to find some success and peace with the hang board... I think I am getting closer.  The thing is, I am not strong enough yet to rip through a bunch of pull ups on it, so I need to find focus on another activity up there.  What I decided to work on was my core; core strength was one of my strengths as a climber... before having it blown out while pregnant, and then really damaged with an emergency c-section.  So, I have been doing 'crunches' while on the hang board.  This seems to be a good system for me, it works my grip strength and core.
Last weekend, John set a sweet boulder problem.  Long traverse with a strong slightly overhanging finish.  I worked this on Wednesday night.  As usual, the delicate traverse was easy for me, and the overhang finish with big moves was more challenging.  By the end of the night, I got to the finish hold, but didn't stick it and went crashing down to the pad 15' below me.  The good news is that the flapper I got is almost healed already.  It will go next week.
Friday at the gym was chaos.  A college class was there and two birthday parties.  The cave was crowded and the whole gym was just noisy.  I am not motivated by crowds, or even other people.  When I was still working, before I got pregnant, I went to the gym straight from work.  I would get there by three, when I had the place mostly to myself.  Me and my iPod.  Made it out of there before everyone else came in.  So, the crowded gym on Friday was not my ideal.  I am making progress on the new big move overhanging boulder problems I started to work last week.
It seems like my grip was weak on Friday.  My hands seemed to be pumped out by the end of some of the problems.  I am thinking that it could be from the hang board.  That is a great thing... making me stronger.
Lately, I have been dreaming of Joshua Tree.  Before the Kid winter road trips were to JT, spring was Yosemite, and then all season at the Gunks.  No road trips this year, money is tight... so I am counting the days till the Gunks.  All of my old projects are there waiting for me.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What's Cooking? Falafel... and it is delicious!

I have been far more successful planning meals lately; this was one of my myriad of New Year's resolutions.  We found another winner this past week, and it will be on the weekly rotation.  I made Falafel, and yes, from scratch.  Meat has been almost completely eradicated from our diet, and has been replaced by beans.  Beans are cheap, easy, healthy and a great protein source.  Protein is a major focus for us to aid in muscle repair after rock climbing.

1 1/2 cup dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup fresh parsley
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp olive oil - for cooking
4 Pita Pockets
4 Lettuce leaves
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
More chopped garlic

1.  Boil a large pot of water.  Add the garbanzos and cook until slightly softened, but still very firm in the middle.  About 10 minutes.  Drain and cool slightly.
2.  Using a food processor: combine beans, onion, garlic and parsley.  Process until coarsely pureed.  Transfer to a bowl and mix in the baking powder, salt , cumin and red pepper flakes.  Chill until cold - about an hour.  
3.  Shapes mixture into patties - about 1/4 cup each.  Heat oil in a pan over medium heat.  Cook until browned about 4-6 minutes on each side.
4.  Mix up the yogurt with chopped cucumber and garlic.  This part depends on your taste!  Add some pepper.  
5.  Stuff each pita with lettuce, a falafel patty, tomato and the yogurt mixture.

We love the garlic yogurt mixture, so I make a lot of it!  We also think that the cucumber really makes the mix.

I made the garbanzo mixture the night before and left it in the fridge.  It was totally delic!