February Goal Check-In

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And, just like that, my last month before baby is a distant memory…

Despite the desire to squeeze as much as I possibly could into the past four weeks, my body (thankfully) kept me in check. Waking up at two-hour intervals to pee pretty much every night and getting contractions when you exert yourself with more than a gentle stroll will tend to do that to a person.

So, yet again, we are adjusting goals, resetting expectations and wading into what appears to be the “new normal” — at least for the foreseeable future. And this is all pre-baby, so I can’t imagine what March’s recap will be like!

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

Here’s where things stand currently:

1. Health & Fitness

February was all about listening to my body. And, boy, did it have a lot to say. 

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This extra 30 pounds I’ve gained earned over the past 10 months really started to take their toll (in the form of back pain, hip pain, foot pain…see a theme here?), and I could tell my body was getting prepped for the main event (contractions!). So while workouts remained consistent, I’ve definitely tapered things off in the past two weeks.

I credit regular movement, however, for helping me stave off a host of other pregnancy-related conditions (swelling, and other random maladies, etc.), so I’m thrilled to have been able to be active well into the home stretch. Especially since it’ll be a while before I can resume my usual activity levels…

2. Training

Nada at the moment, but I am making tentative plans for a half-marathon relay with a mama runner friend, Tiffany, later this summer. We may not be the fittest or fastest out there, but we’re determined to put one foot in front of the other and just keep moving.

Getting my 2016 Coeur Sports team kit in the mail was another major highlight this month. It got me super excited for when I can ease back into some kind of training schedule. Eventually.

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In the meantime, I’m so thankful to be working with a company who supports women of all levels, abilities and stages of life! This really is the year of the #coeurbaby, and I love how we can show that healthy mamas = healthy babes.

3. Community

While our Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season hasn’t officially kicked off (stay tuned — April!), our planning sure has. The team’s 10 leaders gathered on February 20 for a retreat, which included some movement and food in addition to the business at hand.

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We’re really excited about going bigger and bolder this year, so keep an eye out for all kinds of great sweat sessions, events and activities. We’ll be resuming our FREE Monday night workouts (6:30 – 7:30 pm) in April, so follow our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts for details.

4. Career

After a bustling January at Pulse Creative, February was all about wrapping up open projects and getting everything set for maternity leave (always a double-edged sword when you work for yourself!). My tentative plan is to step back for two months (March and April), which makes me nervous in the short-term, but I know it’s what’s best for our family in the long run.

As a girlfriend put it, there’s no use in half-assing work, baby, family and self-care during such a tumultuous time. No one will win in the end. And sometimes a step back helps you take a leap forward, so I know a little time off will further inspire me when I resume my work with clients later this spring.

5. Life

My grand plans for Kondo-izing our apartment before baby were a big, fat fail this month. While nesting instincts were in overdrive, I simply didn’t have the energy to tear everything apart and do a big purge.

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So instead of following the guidelines in “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” to the letter, I settled for a weekend closet clean-out. I ended up with one bag for Goodwill and another for eBay, and I’m happy with that for the time being.

After all, we’ve got the rest of our lives to clean — and our last month as non-parents had to take precedence, right?!

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 

10-Minute EMOM Lower-Body Burner

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We tried a new (to me) format in one of my strength training classes recently, and it was A) so challenging and B) so much fun, that I wanted to share it here so you can jump on the bandwagon, too.

EMOM stands for “Every Minute on the Minute.” It’s a type of training where you complete a specific set of movements or exercises at the top of every minute, rest until the end of the minute, and then start all over again once the next minute begins.

EMOM workouts are not only time-efficient, but they’re also focused on quality over quantity; instead of racing the clock and getting sloppy, you simply do your predetermined number of reps, then recover until the next minute comes around. Many people find that EMOMs help with pacing, too, because there’s minimal rest between sets as the clock keeps on ticking.

Here’s a sample I’ve created if you want to add some lower-body zing to the end of your workouts a few times a week:

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EMOMs are also butt-kickers, I might add. While not meant to totally replace your workouts — that defeats the purpose with this type of short-form interval training — they’re a great supplement to your usual routine when you want to kick things up a notch in the strength, endurance and cardiovascular departments.

And don’t forget to use rest periods to analyze your performance each minute. How were you feeling? How was your form? Is your pace slowing? Each new minute is a chance to refocus, track progress and set goals, which is a fantastic motivator for workouts.

 To EMOM or not to EMOM — what’s your take?

3 Tricks for Warding Off a Workout Slump

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Usually my top tip for getting fired up for workouts is to sign up for a race and commit to a training plan. Because even if you don’t end up following it to a T — let’s face it, life happens — I figure that a compliance rate of, say, 80 percent will still net you good results.

But what happens when there’s NO race on the horizon or NO looming goals to keep you in line? Whether you’re on a temporary hiatus (like me) or your motivation is flagging for another reason, I promise there’s still hope for getting (or staying) in shape.

Here are the three tricks I’ve been using to keep myself going during pregnancy in the absence of training plans and racing adrenaline; the great part is that they apply universally when it comes to avoiding any kind of fitness slump:

1. Define your “why”

Maybe you want to play with your kids without feeling winded. Or you want your wardrobe to fit like it did before the holidays. Whatever the reason, figuring out what lights a fire in your belly will help you stay strong when you’re at a crossroads and in danger of making poor decisions (i.e. the couch is calling).

For example, running goals usually keep me inspired — either challenging myself by time or distance — and workouts are geared accordingly. Instead, I made it my mission to stay active during pregnancy in the hopes of having a smoother labor and healthier baby, which tugs at my heartstrings and gets my butt to the gym on days where I’m feeling more ‘meh’ than motivated.

2. Take a week at a time

While a great idea in theory, sometimes a goal like, “I’m going to work out five days per week this year,” is just too daunting. Especially if you have an ‘off’ few days and end up scrapping the whole thing in frustration. Instead, biting off a smaller chunk — like planning just a week’s worth of workouts at a time — will allow you to celebrate frequent victories instead of agonizing over intermittent defeats.

While I happen to be the opposite (I thrive on making a plan and sticking to a schedule), I was concerned about not having any kind of big-picture structure during my pregnancy. But having ClassPass has come in handy; you can only reserve four classes at once and are limited to scheduling one week out, which means I plan workouts just a few days advance and they end up fitting better into my ever-changing schedule.

3. Piggyback your workout

Take a page from Katy Milkman’s book and try bundling your temptations, as described in this study. The idea is that by pairing “instantly gratifying but guilt-inducing ‘want’ experiences (enjoying page-turner audiobooks) with valuable ‘should’ behaviors providing delayed rewards (exercising)” you’ll be more successful in the long run.

It was only after I’d read about this concept that I realized I’ve been applying it to my own workouts for the past few months. You see, I’ve gotten hooked on a few podcasts (Serial, anyone?), but will only allow myself to listen to each week’s episode if I’m at the gym on a piece of cardio equipment. And you know what? All of the sudden walking on the treadmill got a whole lot more appealing!

How do you trick yourself into making workouts stick in your schedule?

Baby H: 36-Week Update

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We’ve reached the point of what I’ve dubbed the “ninth-month conundrum” where you’re so ready to NOT be pregnant anymore…yet you’re so NOT ready to not be pregnant. Meaning, it’s starting to hit both Ben and me that — wow — this kiddo is imminent.

And although I feel like we got a lot accomplished this past month — baby shower, childbirth class, car-seat installation, car tune-up, clothes washing and hospital bag packing, just to name a few — the to-do list is still very much in progress. As in, my priorities are tying up loose ends at work for my maternity break and getting the apartment really organized (read: obsessively cleaned) and ready for Baby H’s homecoming.

So here’s where things stand at our 36-week “bumpdate.”

Month Nine: In the last month alone, baby is estimated to have almost doubled in weight (~5-6 pounds) and measures somewhere around 19 inches long. It amazes me that with all this technology we have now there’s not a more accurate way to gauge his/her size, but I guess the exact stats are part of the fun of delivery day!

Weight Gained: Right around 25 pounds. I’m still loading up on good fats and doing lots of snacking to help Baby H pack on those final few layers of adorable chub. I’m trying to up my water intake, too, to keep well-hydrated and to maintain good fluid levels.

Workouts: While they’re nothing like my old intensity, I’m thankful to still be moving at least 5-6 days per week. I’m listening to my body carefully, steering clear of high-impact activities (they’re neither appealing nor comfortable) and limiting myself to a maximum of 30 minutes of “easy” cardio per session, whether it’s the recumbent bike, elliptical, stair stepper or walking. I’ll toss in some yoga, barre or strength training a few days a week, as well, just to keep my muscles awake and engaged.

Symptoms: Normal-sized meals are now totally off-limits, unfortunately. Even my strategy of hardcore, well-paced snacking is pushing it; despite aiming for healthier Superbowl fare this year, I still ended up propped up on the couch for hours afterward, in misery, with my digestive system struggling to process the remnants of our Mexican fiesta. Bending over is non-existent, although I’ve come up with a number of ways to contort my body to accommodate the belly, much to Ben’s amusement. And I get out of breath with even the smallest effort — like going up a flight of stairs, getting out of the car or even putting on socks — so I’ve learned to allow for extra time to keep myself from having to deal with the cascade of Braxton Hicks contractions that will inevitably result.

Food Aversions: Nada, thankfully. Well, aside from the lactose-free milk that Ben accidentally grabbed last week instead of our usual 2% — gross!

Food Cravings: Oranges. So much so that I plowed through a 10-pound box last month. And now that those are gone, I’ve moved on to clementines, apples and raspberries. But cheese sticks, milk and cereal are all in heavy rotation — along with pints of ice cream that keep finding their way into our freezer (thanks, Ben). So it’s safe to say that dairy’s still up there on the cravings list, too. Oh, and sweets…although I *try* to limit my candy consumption to a few pieces per day or chocolate or chewy fruity things.

Sleep: Not sleeping well is now the norm, so there’s not much to add here. I’m guessing that this means we’ve truly begun our transition to parenthood?!

Looking Forward To: As small as it seems, setting up the crib. Because then it’ll really feel “real”…and hopefully we’ll feel somewhat prepared. Big picture, though? Meeting him or her soon! Both Ben and I are excited to find out who this little person is that’s about to rock our worlds.

Boy/Girl Suspicions: None. And I hope to keep them that way until delivery day because we’ve made it this far! We’re still getting feedback that’s pretty evenly split, so your guess is as good as mine. Wanna weigh in? 

Any Fun Stories? Baby H is what I affectionately call my “breech ball baby” because s/he is still settled butt-down, curled into a comfy little ball. While I wouldn’t necessarily call it “fun,” we do have some decisions to make over the next few weeks that will potentially affect our labor and delivery options. In the meantime, I’ve been doubling down on acupuncture, chiropractic, moxibustion and inversions in an attempt to get him or her to bust a move and head south. More on that soon!

Stay tuned for what could be our ten-month update (yikes!) in just a few weeks…

January Goal Check-In

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Ok, 2016 — ready or not, here you are. Although it feels like we’ve just begun the year, we’re already a month in.

I’ll admit, pregnancy has given me a more leisurely attitude to this year’s goals…well, at least at this point in the game. And purposefully so.

Not only do I want to be kind to my body right now, but I’m also trying to stay present, cut down on unnecessary stress and enjoy the final weeks of Ben and I being responsible for no one but ourselves. All that’s about to change, and I know we’ll get back on track and into our competitive pursuits again eventually…but until then I’m making a concerted effort to keep things casual.

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

Here’s where things stand at the moment:

1. Health & Fitness

Until Baby H’s arrival, I’ve been hoping to be able to stay active. That means continuing regular workouts with a mix of cardio, strength and flexiblity work throughout the week with one day off to allow my body to rest.

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Fortunately, my doctor’s fully in support of this plan. Despite some minor aches, pains and first-time-mom freak-outs (Me: “There’s a bruise around my belly button; what did I do wrong, and should I stop working out?!” My doctor: “Nope, that’s just pregnancy.”), she’s great with the fact that I keep moving so the baby will keep moving…ideally into the correct head-down birth position.

2. Training

As I mentioned in my initial post on 2016’s goals, I’m signed up for the Portland Marathon and am considering a few smaller races leading up to that (recovery permitting, of course). Since then, I’ve further revised this goal so it’s more about completion than competition; meaning, I’m going to train to be able to finish events without any expectations of times, PR’s or age-group placements.

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While that’s the stuff that typically gets my juices flowing when it comes to training, it’s been a relief to let it go and give myself permission to not feel like I have to push so hard to prove something. And in the meantime, I’m working on maintaining a solid foundation on which I can build post-baby with an ultimate goal of remaining injury-free.

3. Community

Earlier this month, we officially announced the new roster for 2016’s Team LUNA Chix Portland Run. It’s a fantastic group of women of all ages, abilities and interests…but the one thing they all have in common is that they’re stoked to be able to once again connect with the community, promote the sport of running among women and raise money for our charity partner, the Breast Cancer Fund.

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Next up is our team leader retreat next month where we’re setting some goals and doing a little bonding before the season officially starts in April. Mark your calendar! We’ll be resuming our FREE Monday night workouts (6:30 – 7:30 pm), and you can find up-to-the-minute details via our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

4. Career

Now that the holidays are over, things have been ramping up again work-wise at Pulse Creative. I’ve got several projects in-progress with clients, including website audits, messaging workshops and content creation, along with ghostwriting articles for Forbes and other outlets on behalf of C-level execs — flexing my old journalism muscles has been especially fun!

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But as I attempt to wind things down for my maternity leave, I’m already contemplating the direction I want to take my business when I return. In other words, what really lights my fire, work-wise, and how can I do more of that? 

It’s been something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately — not only in terms of where I can make the most impact for clients, but also how I can continue to create a sustainable career that allows me to find fulfillment yet maintain a healthy work/life balance. I want to continue to do this same type of project work, but I’m also exploring how to package up my favorite services for clients so I can serve them even better in the long run.

5. Life

Despite being proudly Type-A-organized, I will admit to having what I jokingly call a “Monica’s closet.” Look closely and you’ll see a bike helmet hung next to blazers and a hydration pack mingling among my purses. Yep, #fitpeopleprobs + #cityliving = interesting storage solutions.

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While my original goal was to finish  Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by mid-month so I’d have an update on it being in action for two weeks now, I’m behind schedule. I finished the book, but I know that one month isn’t realistic to be able to follow all the instructions laid out in it.

So I’m revising my timeline — this is about year-long goals, after all — and am aiming to tackle step no. 1 (my clothing) by the end of February. So if you don’t see me for the next few weeks, you know where I am…or what I might quite possibly be buried under!

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 

My 10 Favorite (Free!) Online Workout Resources

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As much as I’m excited about Baby H’s impending arrival, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad bit nervous about squeezing in workouts with a wee one who could care less about schedules, classes and training cycles. While s/he will be a priority from here on out, I don’t want to entirely lose my “me” time — those regular sweat sessions that help me fight stress, make goals, feel good about myself and (as I’ve heard) allow me to be a better mom.

Fortunately, though, I’m not alone in this endeavor. There’s a wealth of fit mamas out there who are not only great role models, but on whom us newbies can also lean for advice when it comes to navigating this “new normal” with grace and a sense of humor!

Case in point: My college friend and sorority sister, Angela, who is so many inspiring things…a successful lawyer, a mother of three and an avid marathoner and Ironman 70.3 finisher. We connected recently about postnatal training, which she now does mostly at home whether it’s running on the treadmill, riding her bike trainer or doing yoga in front of the TV.

Angela's also an amazing role model for her kiddos; here, she helped her daughter run her first 5k!

Angela’s also an amazing role model for her kiddos; here, her daughter ran her first 5k!

Note to self: Apparently the rhythmic thumping of the treadmill is a great way to lull newborns to sleep. Thanks for the tip, Ang 🙂

One thing she said she’s missing, however, are some solid workout resources to help her keep her home workout mojo between training for races. And being that I’m about to venture into the same territory, she figured it might be a topic I’d like to explore (yes!), so I’ve been on a quest to find what I think are the best free fitness resources online at the moment.

Here’s what I came up with:

1. One-Stop Shop: Fitness Blender

Founded by a husband and wife team, Daniel and Kelli, it offers a wide selection of full-length video workouts in all kinds of categories. Whether you’re looking for cardio, strength, stretching or more, I love that you can search by workout length, body focus, training type and equipment needed for a sweat session that’s customized to your needs.

2. Spinning: Spinning Freak

While this site doesn’t host guided at-home cycling classes, per se, I do think it’s one of the most legit bike workout resources on the web. I don’t know about you, but instead of watching people with poor form yell out cues, I’d much rather download workout profiles and their corresponding playlists and go at it on my own; that way, you’ve got all the zone and cadence information you need for a fantastic, focused ride.

3. High-Intensity Interval Training: Body Rock

If you’re short on time and looking to maximize your results, this is a must-visit site for its high-quality videos, creative moves, basic equipment and short but very intense workouts. Expect lots of cardio and (mostly) bodyweight circuit workouts, all of which are modifiable for a range of skill levels and either come with detailed descriptions and pictures or are well-instructed in video format.

4. Strength Training: XHit

Bodybuilder types beware, this site’s more geared toward a peek behind the scenes of celebrity fitness routines with a range of lower body, upper body and core strengthening exercises, as well a number of seven day workout plans. But I like that you can piece together different videos to target the areas of your choice, so consider it a complement to your usual routine or a way to mix things up on those days where you just can’t make it to the gym.

5. Yoga: Do Yoga With Me

Get your OM on any which way you choose, thanks to an incredible offering of classes from this site. Not only are instructors top-notch, but you can also sort videos by difficulty, class length, style and teacher — plus there are a number of instructional videos that focus on the basics and skill-building for honing your practice at home.

6. Programs from Favorite Trainers: Be Fit

If you’re inspired by working out with popular trainers such as Jillian Michaels, Denise Austin, Jane Fonda, Billy Blanks Jr., Tara Stiles and more, then this is the place to go for all kinds of fitness programs. Not only does it offer a new video each weekday, but it’s also got a huge range of videos to cater to every craving, whether you’re looking to burn fat, sculpt muscle, tone up or slim down.

7. Pilates: FT Pilates

While it hasn’t been updated in some time, this site still offers a number of specific, mostly-bodyweight workouts that are fun, informative and allow you to target different areas of the body for flexibility and toning. One of my favorites is the stability ball workout, but I’ll also piece together other shorter videos for a full-body routine.

8. Bodyweight: Make Your Body Work

As a professional weight loss coach and “Canada’s Top Fitness Professional” in 2013, Dave Smith offers almost 80 full workouts, as well as a bunch of other videos with advice for adopting a healthier lifestyle. Each workout challenges your entire body, include elements of cardio, strength and core conditioning, plus offers different difficulty levels that provide up to four distinct options for every single move.

9. Miscellaneous: eFit30

Interested in exploring Primal Movements or Air Yoga? This Australian-based site gives plenty of variety to keep you from getting bored, yet it still offer offers a number of your traditional yoga, Pilates, bootcamp, total-body and high-intensity interval training videos to keep you active when you just aren’t able to hit up the gym.

10. On-The-Go: Nike Training Club App

When all else fails (or if I’m just too lazy to look up a workout on my computer), I know I can always count on NTC to deliver an ass-kicking via my iPhone that will leave me crumpled on the floor in a happy, sweaty heap. The app features more than 100 workouts led by Nike Master Trainers, complete with audio cues, video guides and step-by-step images to ensure good form and make following along a breeze.

Do you have any favorite online resources for free, at-home workouts? If so, please let us know below! 

Baby H: 32-Week Update

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A girlfriend (who also happens to be pregnant and due around the same time) recently shared with me a great description of what it’s like at this point of pregnancy: It feels like you don’t have much time left, but there’s still a long way to go.

As in, there’s a lot that needs to be done before our new roomie arrives — crib setup, car-seat installation, clothes washing, hospital bag packing! — but then again two more months of living day-in and day-out in this state feels like it might get old…very soon, if not already. So, without further ado, here’s our 32-week “bumpdate”…

Month Eight: Estimated at a little more than three pounds (as of our most recent ultrasound) and anywhere from 17-19 inches long from end to end, Baby H’s new job is to start packing on the pounds in preparation for life outside the womb. According to my app, all senses are operational, too, which is exciting because I’m constantly wondering what’s going on in there with each little thump or squirm that I feel!

Weight Gained: Still hovering at a little more than 20 pounds. I was expecting that number to be higher after all my holiday indulgences, but my doctor says I’m tracking just fine for total gain, so I’m just loading up on good fats with things like eggs, nuts, avocados (and maybe the occasional ice cream sundae) to help Baby H build up that fat to help with temperature regulation and energy after birth.

Workouts: It’s high time to take it down a notch. Not only am I limiting cardio to 30-minute sessions, per my doctor’s recommendation, but I’m also following the talk test more strictly. And I’m also sticking with low-impact cross-training, which means more barre, Pilates, light weights, yoga and the like.

Symptoms: I miss being able to eat whatever I want without feeling full very quickly. Maybe it’s the way Baby H is sitting, but my eyes are quite literally bigger than my stomach at every meal. Normally, I’m a three-square-meals kinda gal with snacking in between, but I’m learning that six smaller ones might be more my speed at this point.

Food Aversions: None, thank goodness. Just getting a little tired of my snack of choice (nuts), so I’ve been searching out new products and recipes to keep from getting bored while trying to consume enough good fats. Stay tuned for more on that!

Food Cravings: Oranges. I can’t get enough of ’em. Which is also convenient because it’s peak cold and flu season, and I could use all the immunity help I can get. We got a box of our favorites delivered direct from Florida, and I’m in heaven. Otherwise, it’s been tough to try to limit the sweets so I can leave some room for high-density foods, such as eggs, avocado, nuts, coconut, etc.

Sleep: It never fails — get a group of preggos together, and inevitably the conversation turns to how much sleep we’re not getting at this point. It fluctuates, depending on the night, but let’s just say I’m operating on average numbers that I’ve never before considered sustainable. Yet, I know I’ll be looking back in a few months and wishing I was getting as much shuteye as I am at the moment, sans baby!

Looking Forward To: All the nesting, which means things are getting real. We’re starting to plan our hospital bags, logisticize a dedicated space for Baby H in our apartment (much to our dogs’ dismay, as their domain is shrinking), wash tiny clothes (Dreft smell!) and gather all the other necessary gear.

Boy/Girl Suspicions: I still don’t have a strong feeling. Ben’s mom surprised us over the holidays at a family dinner with something really fun — she had a dozen each of pink cupcakes and blue cupcakes, and people got to vote by selecting their dessert. In the end, blue won. But it’s also worth saying that my new chiropractor, unprompted, said her vote is for pink. So I think it’s safe to say that this kid’s got everyone stumped.

Any Fun Stories? Baby H apparently has a sense of humor. And some impressive flexibility skills. Or we’re just getting a sneak peek at a future trouble-maker. At my last ultrasound, s/he was sitting comfortably breech — butt down and legs up overhead — although s/he usually prefers to tuck both feet under my ribs. Apparently I have a few more weeks until Baby H may settle into a final position, although s/he seems pretty darn comfortable hanging out as-is!

Stay tuned for the month nine update in a few weeks…