Sofia’s 1st Birthday

It’s been a little over a week since our little princess turned one.

As a first-time mom (not sure it will be any different in the future though), it was an emotional day for me. I was very happy, yet nostalgic.

This year went by waaaay too fast. It feels like it was yesterday when Justin brought Sofia to my face so I could see her and kiss her for the first time as doctors were stitching me up. I still tear up at the thought of hearing her cry for the first time and not being able to see her for a couple of minutes because of the screen. I remember how she stopped crying the very same moment she was reunited with me. She was so tiny and wrinkly and I was in love.

Sofia has grown so much! And so did our love for her. She is our perfect little girl and we couldn’t be any prouder. She now weighs 19.5 pounds and is about 71 cm tall.

Educators at the daycare don’t stop telling us how independent Sofia is. She is always on the move, touching things, exploring the world around her. She likes to spend more and more time standing up and to walk around the room while holding on to furniture, walls, doors. Sometimes she lets go without realizing it and stands on her own for several seconds. I’ve learnt to keep my excitement in not to scare her off.

Sofia likes to play peek-a-boo among other games.

Sofia loves eating cut up fruits and berries, and cheese… She’ll eat cheese anytime! And if she likes you, she’ll even share!

I still breastfeed her, and I’m loving every single moment of it!

For her first birthday party theme we went with Minnie. She had a blast, and so did we. And I’d like to share with you some memories of her special day. ENJOY!

1 - IMG_2229

Thanks for popping by!

2 - IMG_2238

Backdrop

3 - IMG_2274

Fruit wands

4 - IMG_3321

Pink Fruit Punch

5 - IMG_3329

Mommy’s & Daddy’s wishes

6 - IMG_3330

Sweet table

7 - IMG_7386

Minnie smash cake

8 - IMG_7404

It took a while to dig in, but it was a SUCCESS!

9 - IMG_7421

Minnie Birthday cake for our mini Sofia!

10 - IMG_3378

Blowing the candle with mommy’s help

11 - IMG_7357

So happy together!

12 - IMG_7364

Play, play, play!

13- IMG_2340

New favourite toy!

What emotions did you experience before your baby’s first birthday?

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

1 Comment

Filed under Family

Check In With Sofia: 10 & 11 Months Old

Guys, I refuse to believe it: My little princess is turning 1 year old this week! Where did the time fly? I mean, it’s insane!

Today I’d like to reminisce about the past 2 months and share with you some of her milestones.

10 Months Old

IMG_1575 edit

The day Sofia turned 10 months old was a very significant day for her and our family as a whole: It was her first day at a daycare. She was supposed to start a month later, but since I made a decision to go back to work from a maternity leave sooner than expected because I got an amazing opportunity with my company.

Dropping her off for the first time was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.I had a big lump in my throat. Thankfully, Sofia integrated really well pretty much from the get go and it made the process so much easier for me as well.

IMG_1629 edit

At 10 months, Sofia loves to climb absolutely everything, especially the stairs, and step on her tippy toes the heater to look out the window.

Clicking buttons of a musical center and pulling out books is another fascination of hers.

IMG_1666 edit

Sofia started to show her dancing skills. Watching her bounce and shuffle to songs is incredibly funny. I can tell she’s listening to lyrics too, because she’ll wave ‘hello’ and ‘bye-bye’ when she’s supposed to.

IMG_1637 edit

Sofia can already eat finger food. She enjoys eating grapes and rusks, and pretty much all fruits. She can drink through a straw from her sippy cup and says ‘da-da-da-da-da’ non-stop.

IMG_1687 edit

Our baby girl loves to spend time outdoors: going on the swing and looking out of her stroller are definitely at the top of her list.

11 Months Old

 Sofia weighs 19 pounds. Can say ‘ma-ma’ and ‘da-da’. She started saying ‘da-da’ about a week before saying ‘ma-ma’.

IMG_1742 edit

Hearing her say ‘ma-ma’ was so special and precious because my mom got to witness this with me. My heart melts to even simply think about that day…

IMG_1786 edit

At 11 months, Sofia got over some of her fears: She is no longer afraid to go down the slide or to touch the grass. She loves playing ball with Bella and has fun pulling on toilet paper when mommy’s not looking.

IMG_1776 edit

Sofia is an independent little girl. Occasionally, she can even stand on her own without any support for several seconds. Also, walking while holding on to couches, walls and chairs brought house exploration to a whole new level!

At the daycare educators are fascinated about how calm she is, always keeping herself busy roaming around and making new friends. Of course… PFFFF… Sofia’s our daughter, no wonder! *wink, wink*
IMG_1806 edit

Food-wise, the new favourite snack is cheese! Eating cheese, berries and fruit on her own is exciting and… messy! Oh well, Bella doesn’t mind picking up stuff off the floor, so I guess at the end of the day everyone is happy!

If you’ve missed previous check-in’s, here they are:

What emotions did you experience before your baby’s first birthday?

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

7 Comments

Filed under Family

#FBF: Barcelona, Spain – The City Of Dreams (Part 2)

Happy Friday!

This is the last flash back to my trip to Europe some 2 years ago.

If you missed the previous posts, you can catch up here:

This was the last full day in Barcelona for me and my brother. Both of us were pretty sick, so we didn’t take many pictures of each other. And the ones we did, well, I won’t post them because I look sick. Ha!

IMG_3131 edit 2

That day we went to Park Guell, which was built between 1900 and 1915 . It was commissioned by Eusebi Guell and designed by Antoni Gaudi.

IMG_3136 edit 2

Since we took a metro to get there, we needed to walk for about 20 minutes to enter the park. But it was definitely worth it. There were great views over the city and plenty of architecture to see.

The house below was actually the place where Gaudi lived there until his death in 1926.

IMG_3145 edit 2

An interesting fact: The park was originally supposed to be a commercial housing development, which turned out to be an unsuccessful venture.

IMG_3155 edit 2

Afterwards we went to Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf. It was built in 1888 as the main access gate for the 1888 World Fair.

IMG_3187 edit 2

I must admit that people there, at least the ones we met, were extremely nice and helpful, including this police officer.

IMG_3195 edit 2

We walked A LOT that day! To be honest with you, I don’t even remember what majority of the pictures we took are. *Haha!* However, I had to share this one.

IMG_3243 edit 2

This was a street show in front of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. Spanish people definitely know how to capture tourist attention!

Have you ever been sick while traveling? How did you make the most out of your trip?

Missed some of my most recent posts that created great discussions among my fellow bloggers? Here is your chance to catch up:

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

9 Comments

Filed under Travel

One Run At A Time, Or How To Avoid Toxic Thoughts

Good morning loves,

I am happy to report that I’ve learned yet another invaluable lesson during my 7 km run yesterday. But before I jump to that, here is my Week 6 training schedule of half-marathon training:

Monday – 4 miles
Tuesday – 30-40 minutes of cross training: HIIT
Wednesday – 4 miles + kettlebell toning
Thursday – 40-50 minutes of cross training: booty + cardio
Friday – rest day
Saturday – 8 miles
Sunday – rest day

*Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5*

The more I runSource

So a very interesting thing happened to me yesterday. You may or may not have read my previous post on how running makes us happy, but happiness makes us better runners. I tried my very best to be positive about the run, but it was such a struggle. Nothing hurt, but I had a full blown mental battle with myself, despite trying to keep my chin up and think happy thoughts. So what happened, you say?

I think the best way to put it is: I got caught in a web of self-doubt.

A little progress each day adds up to be resultsSource

You see, it’s been a very long time since I ran a distance of 10 km and more (apart from Week 3 and 4 of my training). My runs got much shorter since I got pregnant in fall 2014. Something happened to my bladder throughout my pregnancy and I could barely stay on a treadmill for 15-20 minutes before dashing to a ladies room. *Pregger problems! Haha!*

For some strange reason, something snapped when I saw that this week’s long run is a grand total of 8 miles. Toxic thoughts invaded my mind. I mean, I’m training for a half, so this distance is definitely not a surprise. I ran much longer distances in the past. But all of a sudden I got intimidated and mental games began. As I was running, all I kept thinking about was how am I gonna do that long run. And as many of you know, it is not a good place for any runner or any fitness enthusiast for that matter to question their own abilities.

Good news, it is reversible! *Haha!*

one day at a time, enjoy the journeySource

It is so sooooo important to focus on one workout at a time and not to get too much ahead of ourselves. Just like in our daily lives, in order to be efficient and not to get overwhelmed, we must prioritize our to-do list. First things first. The same goes for running. Not only our ‘present’ workout will be more effective, but also there is absolutely no reason why we should psych ourselves out of the challenge that lies ahead. Tackle it one day, one workout at a time.

Has ever self-doubt affected your workouts? How do you avoid psyching yourself out before a long run?

Keep moving forwardSource

Missed some of my most recent posts that created great discussions among my fellow bloggers? Here is your chance to catch up:

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

23 Comments

Filed under Half-Marathon Training, Motivation

How Running Makes Us Happy, But Happiness Makes Us Better Runners

You subscribe to a magazine. At first, you read it diligently from cover to cover, can’t wait for the next issue to come out. And then… something comes up and you promise yourself that you’ll read it on your lunch break or while taking a bath. A few months go by and you sadly look at the pile of unread magazines unsure of where even to begin. Has this ever happened to you? Well, that’s the #StoryOfMyLife…

magazine pileSource

This is exactly what happened to me during later stages of pregnancy: My beloved Runners World issues were sitting on a bookshelf collecting dust, feeling all forgotten. That is until a couple of days ago, when I decided to look through them in hopes of finding some invaluable advice for half-marathon training.

Speaking of which, this is what Week 5 of my training looks like:

Monday – 4 miles + arms
Tuesday – rest day
Wednesday – 4 miles + total body
Thursday – 30-40 minutes of cross training: arms, abs & cardio
Friday – 4 miles + HIIT & booty
Saturday – 30- 40 minutes of cross training: arms + yoga
Sunday – rest

*Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4*

IMG_1390 edit.jpg

As I was looking through the May 2015 issue, I came across the following article: Happy Hour, Approach a run with a positive outlook to improve your performance and your health by Diane Stopyra. It caught my attention right away because I am fascinated by how our brains/minds work. So when I read that ‘Exercise doesn’t just improve happiness, happiness can improve exercise performance,’ as Alfred Bove says, M.D., Ph.D., professor emeritus of medicine at Temple University and a 26-time marathoner, I was sold.

You see, many times we run/exercise to release the stress of a bad day, when we need a little pick-me-up. Endorphines can easily lift our mode and get rid off insecurities. But from what it looks like, ‘We tend to think of being joyful as a personality trait, but it’s actually a skill you can acquire,’ according to a sociologist Christine Carter, Ph.D.

runhappySource

There are quite a few benefits to be a Happy Runner:

  1. Suffers few injuries: Since ‘happiness reverses the body’s muscle-tensing stress response’, we are less prone to injuries;
  2. Performs better: When distractions created by negative emotions are removed, we are more focused on our performance.
  3. Feels less pain:  ‘Happier people have more of the neurotransmitter dopamine coursing through their brains’, which makes it easier to tolerate discomfort, according to Jim Afremow, Ph.D.;
  4. Is healthier: It’s actually very interesting because ‘Ongoing negative emotions can provoke cellular activity that leads to illness, including cancer. Feeling joy, researchers say, reverses this process.’

If you think this got my undivided attention, YOU BET!

I came across a great presentation by social psychologist Amy Cuddy at TED Talk on how your body language shapes who you are.

https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

If you have time, definitely watch it. But if you don’t, what she shows in her presentation is how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success. She was curious whether ‘we can fake it till we make it’ and found some evidence that our non-verbals govern not only how others see us, but also how we see and feel about ourselves. So, for example, we smile when we feel happy, but also, when we’re forced to smile by holding a pen in our teeth like this, it makes us feel happy.

Tiny tweaks can indeed lead to big changes. According to Jim Afremow, Ph.D., ‘Our expressions aren’t just an indication of how we’re feeling; they help dictate those feelings. In other words, if you look happy, you’ll run happy.’

So what can we do to our face to feel happier?

  • Smile;
  • Relax your forehead, so your brows aren’t furrowed;
  • Lift your chin for an instant confidence boost.

I choose to be happySource

Runners World provides even more suggestions on how to set yourself up for a good run:

  1. Eat well, make sure that you are not low on nutrients that feed your brain like magnesium, omega-3, fatty acids, vitamin B12, iron, and vitamin D.
  2. Sleep at least 6-8 hours.
  3. Belly-breathe: Try doing yoga to learn how to breathe properly.
  4. Listen to music to distract yourself from pain and fatigue. *Read this post to see pros and cons of running with and without music.*
  5. Mantra Up: I actually like to ponder on a quote as I run, but mantras are great, especially when doing yoga!
  6. Be social and buddy up for your run!
  7. Buy a good time: sign up for a fun race or even treat yourself to a massage!
  8. Explore nature!

You make your life happySource

Do you ever fake it till you make it? What are your tricks to get yourself in a better place before your workout?

Missed some of my most recent posts that created great discussions among my fellow bloggers? Here is your chance to catch up:

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

37 Comments

Filed under Motivation, Running, The Happiness Project

#FBF: Barcelona, Spain – The City Of Dreams (Part 1)

 

Happy Friday! Or maybe, Flashback Friday?

Well, in my case, it’s Super Fleshback Friday! How come? Because of a simple fact that my trip to Barcelona took place exactly 2 years ago minus 1 day. Somehow I never got around sharing these pictures with you, and as they say, better late than never!

If you’d like to catch up on my previous adventures in Europe, don’t be shy to check out these posts:

IMG_2923 edit

After enjoying Granada, my brother and I took an overnight train to Barcelona. It worked for us because we didn’t need to pay for a hotel and at the same time we didn’t want to sacrifice any day time that we could spend exploring Barcelona instead.

We quickly checked in in our hostel which was not too far from a train station, had a bit of rest and headed to La Rambla, the main boulevard that cuts through the heart of the city. It’s definitely the place where a lot of action takes place, but it can be overwhelming with hundreds of tourists and vendors. Make sure to watch out for pickpockets and scam artists!

In order to try to escape crowds, we wandered a little bit off the boulevard and came across Palau Guell.

IMG_2985 blog

It is a truly magnificent building and a World Heritage Sight. It was designed and built by Antoni Gaudi for the Guell family over 3 years between 1886 and 1889. Gaudi used only the finest materials. It is nothing short of impressive.

IMG_3004 blog

After a prerecorded guided tour, my brother and I decided to walk around and visit some of other landmarks.

IMG_3043 blog

After travelling a bit all over Europe and experiencing changing temperatures, we both got sick. The medication started wearing out at that point of the day, so I just took pictures instead of being in them.

IMG_3059 blog

Barcelona is an incredible city. You don’t really need to hunt for beauty, it is literally everywhere. No wonder why some people refer to Barcelona as the city of dreams!

IMG_3082 blog

This is me jumping next to Casa Battlo, one of the famous modernist buildings created by Antoni Gaudi. I guess no cold can take away the excitement of seeing beautiful and unique architecture like this.

Gaudi was truly a genius. One of his most well-known works of art is undeniably the unfinished church La Sagrada Familia.

IMG_3120 blog

Did you know that ‘…the outside is still being built and was at 65% completion in 2013. Only 8 towers of the 18 spires are finished. The plan is to complete the Sagrada familia church in 2026 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death in 1926. When it is finished it will be 144 years since construction began…, according to this article.

Here is how it is expected to look like when it’s finished:

The only word that comes to my mind is VISIONARY.

Check in with me next Friday to travel back in time to Barcelona for Part 2!

Have you ever been to Barcelona or Spain in general? What did you think of Gaudi’s creations?

Missed some of my most recent posts that created great discussions among my fellow bloggers? Here is your chance to catch up:

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

23 Comments

Filed under Travel

Running Wisdom & Giveaway Winner

Well, hello there!!!

Have you read my last post on whether you should run with or without music? I absolutely LOVED the discussion it created! At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong as long as it makes you happy and brings you peace or the burst of energy you are craving!

First of all, I would like to congratulate Roxanne who won my giveaway for the Armpocket by following my blog via email! I can’t wait to hear what you think of it because I love mine!

congratulations

Source

Today I’d like to share some of my random Instagram ‘wisdom’. I recently started looking up some quotes before heading out for a run. This way I have something to reflect about. I actually enjoy this new habit of mine!

be kind

Don’t you love it when you run and a passerby says or nods you ‘Hello’ or simply gives you an encouraging smile? It doesn’t take much to be kind. 

Yesterday, I was reading one of my blogger friend’s post, Anna from Piper’s Run, and she mentioned how her daughters saw a lady running past their house and started cheering for her. Wouldn’t you want to be that runner?

I think this is one of the reasons I loved my Spartan experience so much: There was this sense of unity and support where competitors encouraged each other and stopping to made sure that no one was hurt. *Sprint, Super, Beast 1 & 2.* It was great!

Also don’t forget about those you care about the most because they tend to be neglected the most. Make sure you kiss and hug them and tell you love them. It never gets old.

the grass is green

As of recent, I find that my running experience has improved drastically. Why? I stopped comparing myself to others. It’s not a competition to me anymore, it’s MY running journey. I want to make this journey memorable and without any regrets.

It’s so sad when comparison prevents us from even starting something new! I know it has stopped me in the past. And there was no better feeling than chucking that heavy weight off my shoulders and living my life for me.

fix your ponytail

This quote is, once again, simply a reminder to all of us to be true to ourselves and train at our own pace. We don’t have anything to prove to anybody. Your health journey is YOUR journey. Stop comparing yourself to others. Ultimately, your own happiness should always prevail!

So if one of your workouts didn’t go as planned, who cares? Have some rest, cheer up and go for it again the next day! Consistency pays off and so does listening to your body!

IMG_1283 edit

Do you ponder about life when you exercise? What’s some of your most recent wisdom?

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

41 Comments

Filed under Motivation