Thursday, December 31, 2009

In Pieces

Yes, I'm still here. Sort of.

It's been weeks of crazy here at Casa Wumpus. Mostly I've been not running, working a lot, traveling home and thinking, thinking, thinking.

The fact is, this space has been neglected for a reason. Because it reflects my head space. Except that if it really did it would look more like this:
lsknv;oienaonvonaojnpjne[wiFNEOJ0R9U3490839PIQGNPI3HP9V8H[IRN;AJWNRGOI

Yes, it would.

This is all good, folks.

Because it's time to shake things up a bit. And by a bit, I mean a lot.

I have a plan, but I can't unveil it yet.

Instead, I shall piece it together, bit by bit and come back to you with a more complete picture of the Shake Up that will be 2010.

See you soon.

***

In the meantime, I highly recommend checking out See Teacher Run. Not only has she been wiping the floor with me in regards to miles, she's also got a fantastic challenge that all y'all should take part in. I know I will.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A girl and her dog

As a mum, I want many things for my daughter. A healthy body, a fulfilled career of her choosing, lots of love from friends and family, great hair and the courage to follow her dreams.

Her talents and loves will be her own, I know that. As parents, we can introduce our children to many things, many things we love in hopes that they'll share in our passions. Some things might even be heriditary, if my love of farming, massage and midwifery are any indication.

Chou's apparent love of animals started early - her first real belly laugh was at a pug in the park - and besides her falling asleep at her first horse show, all animals have captivated her from the get go.

Getting a puppy wasn't just for Chou, of course, I've missed having an animal in the house since we last had a cat years ago. But in choosing Pico I had hoped, hoped, hoped that Chou would love her and build the kind of memories I have of our old farm dog. I think of how I trained him to jump fences and tried to get him to pull me on a "dogsled" (I used a regular collar and leash and tried to slide on my boots. Besides a lot of coughing the dog didn't do much). My cats, dogs, horses et al were my best friends and confidants growing up. I want that for Chou, but know that not everyone is an animal lover.

But if our mornings are any indication I needn't have worried.

Chou's first words in the morning are "Pico! Pico!" and sometimes "Daddy", but not usually. Instead of colouring on the walls, she now spends those early minutes before breakfast is ready running back and forth howling with glee as her dog chases her. She falls on the floor, the dog licks her and she giggles and giggles. When I pick her up from daycare, she looks past me and asks "Pico?" as I usually bring the pup with me. She gets jealous when anyone but she holds the dog.

It makes my heart sing.

Playing house in the snow.

Kisses

Hugs. We're working on gentle handling of her dog. Right.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The unintended consequences of daycare

Last Christmas the only thing Chou really seemed wowed by was the crinkle of the wrapping paper and the tags on her presents.

This year we're making a bigger effort - we stream classic Christmas tunes on the iPod dock and have actually purchased gifts (for the first time in a very long time - all but a few are hand made, repurposed or antique bought right here in town). We went so far as to plan for a Christmas tree. We bought a stand, lights and a few ornaments and I've strung popcorn for Mother Nature's favorite garland.

Anyone notice what's missing out of that description? Um, yes. A tree.

Unlike any other city we've lived in, Regina is rather short on Christmas tree lots. The only thing I could find was a $40 gigantic tree when what we want is a sickly, cheap Charlie Brown tree.

Chou is undeterred by our lack of tree. Yesterday she came home and while dancing in the living room used the tub of ornaments as a drum exclaiming "Ho, Ho, Ho!"

Ho, Ho, Ho?

What we haven't even mentioned in our newly-found Christmasness is Santa. Let alone that he says Ho, Ho, Ho. We're still undecided as to how we handle the Santa talk. Are we a Santa house? We weren't in our house and I never felt left out of the Christmas loop. Which brings us to how the heck does Chou know?

The answer: daycare.

After my initial surprise, I've decided I'm OK with it. We're not religious, we're simply not really into the Santa side of the holiday. So if daycare wants to teach her about the fat elf, so be it.

Why am I so OK with it? Daycare was also first to put her in a big girl bed, is totally keen with letting my less than 2-year old practice sitting on the potty and - here's the kicker - picks her up and drops her off when it's colder than -20 so I don't have to walk, which is nearly every day right now. Yes, really.

Heck, they can teach her to LOVE Santa, if these are the trade offs.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

How to lose weight

1. Do very little exercise. We're talking NO RUNNING for two weeks. Beyond my daily walks, I have done zilch in the workout department.
2. Cut out liquor
3. Eat a salad a day and make veggies the focus of most meals except when:
4. Binge on crackers, eggnog in coffee and full-fat cheese
5. Step on the scale and reap the rewards

That's right - I'm down 1.5 pounds after two weeks OF NOT DOING ANYTHING

What gives? I need motivation to get and keep going, not de-motivation.

In fairness, working out is not all about dropping pounds. I like moving. I sleep better, handle stress better, I'm more fun to be around and work more efficiently if I'm also active. There are plenty of reasons to work out, but in my plan to drop a few pounds working out figured prominently.

So much for that plan.

Plan B? Cheese, carbs and TV watching, apparently.

(I'm so kidding, but with windchills hitting the low minus thirties tomorrow, I may elect for some indoor sweating at least until Thursday. When it's going to "warm up" to minus 14. Wow. Heat wave.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Snowed under

We're snowed under here. Not literally, mind you. In fact, it's nearly December and the sun is shining, there isn't a flake of snow left from October's storms and they're calling for plus temps through to the weekend.

No, my friends, we're snowed under by life right about now.

First off, don't start with the "I told you not to get a puppy when you've got a toddler blah blah blah" because, you know what? Pico is a doll. She's a doll! Yes, she's a puppy - she chews, jumps, pees now and then on the floor, but I've raised a few puppies in my day and none of them have been this keen to catch on to desired behavior. She's crated all night and only makes a sound when she hears me up with Chou. She's already spending an hour by herself outside digging, chewing, chasing and jumping. She comes when she's called. She loves Chou and they entertain the pants off each other.

Still, she is a puppy and having her here has changed the dynamic (for the better, but I'll get to that).

What's going on, really, is that our lives - work especially - are headed for busy town and there ain't no end until the spring. The husband is stressed out, pulled in a million directions at work and is feeling a bit over-run in paperwork. His physical well-being is suffering because he can't find the time to swim and work out. Our relationship consists mainly of chatting over dinner about what has yet to get done. The house is a disaster, the To Do list a mile long.

When the hubby's job gets busier, I've usually picked up the slack at home. The problem now is that my job is heading into its busy season. And when I say "busy season" I mean triple (I'm not kidding) the number of issues per month we did back in September. And we do that for three months straight. Add to that the farm shows and on-location coverage I'm supposed to do, plus a farm writers upcoming conference I'm on the board for, plus doula-ing, plus oh right WE HAVE A TODDLER, and well, both of us need a stiff drink at the end of the day (except that I'm trying to cut out booze. Which is just mean, universe).

This morning I took some time on the walk home to get mentally sorted out. Instead of forcing myself to write when I didn't feel like it, I organized my white board and created a new strategy for meeting my deadlines.

Then I got the greatest idea ever of leaving this all behind to start farming with Jen P and can you believe she turned me down? Something about not wanting to live in Saskatchewan. Unbelievable! :)

Oh, but guess what's taken a total back seat amidst all this tomfoolery? Yup, running. I missed Sunday's long run and haven't even trotted about for 30 minutes since.

I need an extra hour in the day.

And a maid.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I may have gone mad

But who could resist this face?





Meet Pico Pico (yes, her real name). A 2-month old Border terrier/Westie cross. I figure I'm wiping up pee anyway, may as well throw a new species in to liven things up. We picked her up this morning and already she's a joy to have around and is fitting in to Casa Wumpus. She eats everything off the floor and has chewed through two cardboard egg cartons. She also comes when we call and likes to follow Chou around. In other words, she's perfect.

She's also my answer to not having a running buddy. In a few months this beast and I will spend countless miles together, chasing deer. I doubt we'll catch any.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The week's tally

Let's just say that I stepped on the scale and could hear the boos from the crowd.

Sigh.

I'm not going to analyze it or deconstruct the week because, well, I ate too much of good stuff and while I did stay active, I managed to stay exactly the same weight. Yup, four weeks in and I've lost a whopping .2 lb. Yay? No. I know that I need to cut a measly 200-300 calories from my day to lose, but somehow I'm just not finding the place to do it. Add to that that I was at a farm show on Wednesday (meaning nothing but sugar, carbs and fatty meat to eat and drink for an entire day), and well, I'm not surprised.

Let's focus on the positive:

I managed all of my training runs, though one was .17 longer and another .47 short (side stitch, ate too close to running and felt gross). I will get some sort of workout in today, meaning I only took two days off. That's good.

The numbers:
Run: 14.88 miles
Walk: 7.5 miles
Shred: Once

(Will do Shred or Cardio or something today.)

I'm trying to focus on the good, but this whole weight maintenance thing? So not encouraging.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Saving Chuck Bass

There's nothing quite like a toddler kick to the head to get you to remember your dreams.

Chou is in her big girl bed, sure, but she's not staying in it all night. Sometimes, yes, but with eye teeth coming in and a snotty nose, she's been miserable. She wakes at 2 in the morning snurgly and angry and in need of snuggle time. I try and keep her in her room, but at that hour all I want to do is go back to my warm bed. So I, being the weak mother, bring her back to our bed and get a few more blissful hours of sleep.

That is until she has one of her rearranging sessions and ends up sideways, upside down and flailing at 4 in the morning.

Did I mention she never ever slept in our bed until a few months ago? Those were the days.

The unexpected side effect to this early morning flail is that I'm remembering oh so many more of my dreams. I've always been a vivid dreamer and used to love waking up laughing or simply happy having enjoyed fun or excitement while I slept. Sure, there are the bad ones, but the good drastically outweigh the bad.

This morning, for instance, I dreamed I was Chuck Bass's lady love (you don't watch Gossip Girl? Shame on you!), and had to save him from imprisonment by a well-meaning aunt trying to get him to clean up his act. Most of the dream I spent on horseback, riding through a mansion, up stairs, over fallen tables and the like (I know, WTF?). Sad for me, but most of the dream was spent saving, and not smooching, Chuck. But I also penned a lovely letter to my trapped darling. I woke up giggling.

See? There's a good side to mummyhood and the sleep interruptions. Really, there is.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stuff I've learned about me

Have you ever had one of those moments where you surprised yourself? Not so much in the "I didn't think I could do that, and then I did" way but more in the "I'm this type of person but ohmygod really I like XYZ and never thought I would" way.

Let me explain.

Being a working (at a job other than parenting) mum sucks. There, I said it. Every day is a balancing act between what's best for your babe, you and your family. Every day is different - with Chou gone, sometimes I'm so relieved, am able to re-charge and be a better mum because she's been gone for a few hours. Some days she's so happy to go to care that I don't know if she notices I'm gone. And then there are the days when I think maybe she wants to stay home, or that I want her to stay home. There are the days when I just plain old miss her and would rather be finger painting with pudding rather than talking to some high falutin' CEO.

The reality is, I could stay home full time. We'd manage, we'd be OK. The other reality is that a) Chou would be miserable home with just me full time and b) I'd struggle without some projects to be working on.

But here's what I learned about me this week that shocked the pants off me. The first two insights are courtesy of my husband (he's a smart cookie); the second I realized while hashing out with him my unhappiness with our present situation.

1. I get my energy, drive and enthusiasm from those around me. Ergo (holy shit, did I just use that properly? I did!), working alone for going on two years is snuffing out my spirit, drive and work ethic.

2. It doesn't matter what job I do, I need to have ownership of what I'm doing. Currently, I'd say I have ownership of 50% to 60% of what I do. Not bad, not great.

And here's the kicker:

3. I do best when I'm very busy (not surprising) and WITHOUT A SCHEDULE.

Why is this so surprising? Because I'm an uber planner. Because I love order, symmetry and monotony.

But.

The husband pointed out, from his point of view, when I've been happiest with work and life and really been thriving. It's always been when I was on the go, free to seize moments and opportunities and just do what needed to get done while it needed doing.

Do you see where I'm going with this? No? Me neither. But what I'm coming to realize is that my job is not a great fit. It's a good fit, but not a great fit when balanced with being a momma. Because feeling that I have to be at my desk, at my phone and in front of my computer during office hours is stifling me. I am alone in my house too many hours in a day. Too many.

To balance that, I made rye bread, worked out at lunch and put a lovely dinner on the table for my family. All things I couldn't have done if I had been at the office all day (or would have been bloody difficult to do). And that dinner, that my friends was the best part of my day.

And.

Like many women, my hubby's job is going to dictate where we live, for how long and will have more sway on our standard of living. Presently, he and I make similar coin (similar, not the same), however his earning potential is just that much higher than mine. This I don't mind, however, it's put the whole "career goals" discussion in a much different light.

This is where I get a little selfish. Or not.

If I can't choose and shape my career as a life-long career because of extenuating circumstances, why shouldn't I do what I love to do rather than what brings in the most money?

Our life is always going to be a trade-off. We will move a lot. My job will have to be portable. We're going to be starting from scratch over and over. Most of running our household is always going to be on me. My husband works long hours and travels and that's not going to change.

And a little bit of me feels like the trade off should be that I get to do what I want in my everyday versus what I have to do.

Now, if I could pin down exactly what that is within the confines of a) minimum income needed, b) no less time with Chou and c) is mobile, I'd be ready to pull the rug out from under our lives and shake things up a bit.

Soon, my friends. Soon.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Montage








That afro? Totally gets it from me. I've already apologized. Several times.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Huck!

The three most adorable things my daughter does these days is Huck, Hmm and two. Huck, and I don't know why, means Again, as in "Let's do that again!" It took me more than a few tries to figure out what the hell she meant, but now we've got it and she'll even say it when it comes up in a book. I say "again" she echos - very enthusiastically - with Huck!

Then there's Hmm. Neither the husband nor I make this particular noise. It's that mulling over, consider, gee I wonder type of Hmm. It sort of goes up at the end HmmM. We couldn't figure out where she got this from, until the other day we were hanging out at the local antique store with T and her puppy (that Chou loves) and T said, Hmm. To which Chou echoed the exact same sound. T was downright giddy that wee Chou had picked up one of her mannerisms. I was too.

And finally, two. Chou's favorite number is two. Is it the only one she can say? Likely. But what's moe adorable is that any time she counts anything it's "Two, two, two!" But what I love is that when she sees letters she starts singing the ABCs and when she sees numbers she starts saying "Two!" She already knows the difference. Mind blowing.

Which brings us to this week's weight loss and fitness challenge round up.

Weight loss: 0 lb
Total loss to date: .2 lb

Week three, for an intents and purposes, has been a resounding success, except for that whole weight loss part. And I know exactly where I went wrong - the food and drink. I still haven't joined WW online and am not really counting points. I have to. This week has proven that.

Why? Because I worked my butt off this week, but clearly the few desserts, beer and a few glasses of wine tip the points balance too far off course. I recognize that this particular weight is one that my body is very happy staying at. I'm not entirely unhappy with that, but I think with a little effort I could kick up my fitness level and maintain a smaller dress size. It's just getting there.

To that end, my activity level this week was downright fantastic (especially in comparison to the first two weeks).

Running: 11.5 miles (woot woot!)
Walking: 5.25 miles
Biking: 4.94 miles
Cardio: once, plus I'll shred today

I also managed an hour ride yesterday that made my leg muscles scream in a good way. Gosh, it's lovely to be riding again.

I also signed up for the Hypothermic Half that goes Feb 28th and consider tomorrow day one of that training. And, even more exciting, I found a bootcamp-type class for mums with toddlers that starts mid-January. I can actually bring Chou to the class and get a fabulous workout in. I can't wait.

And now I realize that I haven't posted pictures in forever. Will remedy that shortly.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Like a fox

I might be crazy. Or stupid.

Guess what I did this week?

Wait, let's back up.

Both Jen P and Smithers were right. A) Airing your laziness on the Internets is quite motivating. Something about seeing how little I've done is enough to make it stop I guess, and B) It's not a competition and I'm the one who benefits most from moving about. It's about me, in so many ways, so I need to do this for me.

And that next day, I woke up and ran, and then the next day I did an uber hard cardio work out that made it hard to lift the milk jug the next day, then I ran again. Yes, I did. (as an aside, I also calculated that if I bring Chou to daycare and drop her off and pick her up by walking, I log just over 3 miles. I'm going to start keeping track. Also, I want/need new shoes. I walk a lot now and realize that I've likely put more wear and tear on these shoes than I thought. end of aside.)

My legs felt like lead by the second run, sure, and I feel weak as a kitten, but I got inspired enough to do something I've never done before.

I signed up for a race. In February. A half marathon to be exact.

After an entire calendar year of entering a total of two races and only running one, I'm bloody well signing up for races NEXT year. What the hell?

Just over 15 weeks to go until the Hypothermic Half, February 28. Pray it's not -40 (which, my friends, is TOTALLY possible).

Saturday, November 7, 2009

That's about right

I weighed in this morning after two weeks on my supposed health kick, 10 lb-loss-by Christmas eve thing. Before I tell you what my whopping weight loss was, let me tell you that it is more than fair for the amount of effort I've put in to the challenge thus far.

Ready?

I've lost...drum roll please....

.2 pounds!

Yes! .2 pounds! Not even a half! And the crowd goes wild!

Ok. Enough, enough. Sit down.

Sigh.

Where to begin?

The good:

Managed to run with Jen P. It felt great, but clearly wasn't enough to overcome my inertia. I rode, also good and because I have a standing date there, will ride again. Also good. I've picked up the pace walking Chou to daycare and walked her all but one day out of the last seven drop offs (it's a solid 20-25 minutes twice a day when I bring her). This week has been quite good for my eating - lost of salads with dinner and I've purged the house of yucky stuff and left only the good stuff. I've even dusted off the WW recipes and I'm loving them.

The bad:

Um, Halloween and the trip to Winnipeg did nothing good for my eating habits. I've managed to cut down my liquor consumption, but still have not entirely cut it out (which for me, really helps). I'm still eating too much total and grazing too much and eating too few veggies.

The awful:

In the past two weeks here is my workout tally:

A 30 minute run

Done.

Seriously.

And I have no idea how to jump start this except with jumper cables, a cattle prod and an electric fence all while standing in water. Seriously folks, the level of inertia I feel morning, noon and night feels insurmountable right now.

I know others who are feeling lousy, are way busier or seriously knocked up who are literally running, lifting, biking and swimming circles around me.

I also know that now and again this happens. My mind has decided the body doesn't like moving and full stop, that's the end of it.

So what I need from you is encouragement. OK? And keep the swears to a minimum please.

Sincerely,
The Inert One

Friday, November 6, 2009

To paraphrase Mr. Churchill

There is something about the outside of a horse that's good for my inner thigh muscles.

OK, that may warrant some unsavory types finding my blog through nasty google searches but what I mean is, wow, did I need that ride.

I finally - finally! - got a ride in. It's my first ride in months and months. After many false starts, I managed a riding lesson this week. A real, live, work until your legs feel like jelly ride. The sad part is, I lasted through maybe half of hour of exercises before the jelly set in and I was useless.

But, if I may pat myself on the back, my balance was really quite good, my hands were quiet, my seat, not bad. In short, while I may be weak as a kitten, the basics are all still there just waiting to work again.

Did I mention I rode English? Insert guffaws here, but I assure you I didn't wear skin tight breeches or a pink jacket. But I did ride with my pinkies up.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Recommendations

Hi. Here's what you shouldn't do on week one of a fitness and weight loss challenge: Go home for the first time in five months. At Halloween.

Why? Oh, because, you know, The Food.

Shit. Sorry, overuse of capitalization again.

It was so lovely to see friends and family, but equally un-lovely to miss out on several visits we tried to line up and couldn't. It's okay, though, because we'll be back in a few months with plenty of time to sit, sip coffee or beer, share meals, share stories, ride some ponies, all that. All those things.

But oh, the food. Greasy food, fatty food, way too many desserts. Meals out, meals in, coffee coffee coffee, Halloween candy. Ugh. The list goes on and on. So tasty. So not going to help lose even one pound, let alone ten.

Equally recommended, however, is being able to accompany your running buddy on a run. More to the point, her last run of this pregnancy, at just over 24 weeks gestation, on a beautiful evening, while the men watched our babies (and allowed one of them to fall down the stairs, allowing the other one to not keep it a secret. Hilarious).

I also highly recommend blogger buddies. Smithers, over at Embrace the Chaos, sent a note and a suggestion: get a mileage goal on the table too.

Here goes...Eight weeks until Christmas Eve. I commit to 10 miles a week. Sure, it's not a nice round 100 miles, but 10 miles a week with an approaching winter is going to be tough. To put it in perspective, many of my training weeks were only 12 to 15 miles total, so 10 is respectable in my book.

Oh, and secretly, I'd love to hit 100 miles, but 80 will do just fine, thank you.

Goals made public. On blogger. Highly recommended.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Overdoing the soicial networking, perhaps

Last night I dreamed in Twitter.

I think I'm the first person to do this. I want a medal.

My dream was nothing more than my Twitter page, refreshing now and again, popping up with answers to What are you doing?

I can't even tell you what people were doing or saying or writing, but either I'm spending too much time on the damn thing (I'm rarely on it, so it's doubtful), or my brain is telling me I need to figure it out and make the most of it with following and tagging and all that fun stuff.

Or not.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Fog

Disclaimer: If you're looking for cute toddler pictures or equally uplifting fodder, look elsewhere. As today's title will attest, we're not in that kind of mood. Also, the language in this blog is not suitable for children. Reader discretion is advised.

Today I am in The Fog. Yes, it deserves caps, because it is a proper name. This Fog, The Fog, rolls in now and again. It has for many years, and for many years it didn't have a name. It used to happen often, now it visits me rarely, perhaps once a year, hardly more. The Fog is not a depression, though I've been there. It's simply a day of adjustment wherein my body, soul and mind need to reconnect to the present and let go of past hurt, confusion and yells of "It's not fucking fair."

The Fog follows A Dream (I'm starting to feel like Winnie the Pooh with these nonsense caps, I'll stop.) The dream is always different - the situation is different, the players are a motley cast and sometimes the same, but not always. What makes it The Dream that brings The Fog is the underlying feelings, tone and impression.

The Dream is about my mother, though she's never made an appearance. The dream is about losing her. It's about that headspace. That time. Of being there. Of being 16 and having my world blow the fuck up in my face and being absolutely, stunningly powerless to do a damn thing about it. The dream drips with regret, sorrow and, yes, self pity and a great big ole stench of "Why me?".

But not just why me in the sense of losing mum. Oh no. As if the teenage years aren't bad enough, life decides to throw THAT in my formative years. So there were other things happening too. Things that most of those around me could never in a million years have understood. They still don't, and very few actually tried. I don't blame them. In fact, I'm jealous of them in so many ways for having NOT dealt with it. I'm babbling. Where was I? Right.

The Dream is rank with regret not necessarily in regards to my mother, but to me, to my adolescent self. How I wish I could go back and smack her across the face, and then sit, pour her a cheap wine and let her spill it. All of it. All the shit she did and didn't do, the things she said, was accused of, the hurt, the betrayal, the loneliness.

The Dream itself is harmless. In it, at some point, I always end up telling all sorts of people I do and don't know how I feel (or felt, rather) and they understand, and they hear me, and they let me heal and they forgive me. But do I forgive them? I never know.

And yes, in the dream, mum is still alive, because it is THEN, not now.

And when I wake, I'm hit with the reality that she's gone again. All over again.

And the fog rolls in.

No amount of coffee pushes it away. I just have to wait. For real life, this life, to catch up again and carry me forward.

And so I wait.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What happens when I do this?

The Chou is in a new experimental phase, which is how kids learn, so this is good. And for the most part it's not the heart-stopping kind of experimenting, you know the kind that endangers life and limb, but it sure is the kind that can make a giant mess.

Chou has started swimming in the tub, floating, expressing her wonder at the sensation. She's also loving putting feet, hands legs in the running water. She's starting to blow bubbles and get her face wet...and then she starts to splash and move and make waves, then more waves and so on. It's fascinating to watch her drink in the movement, the sensation, the buoyancy. Brilliant.


She's also testing her parents' patience. We're full on into the terrible twos, I'm sure. But part of what frustrates Chou and sets her off is not being able to DO all the grown up stuff we do. Gone is her willingness to climb into her booster seat and buckle herself in. Nope, now she'll only eat sitting/standing in a grown up chair. Gone are the sippy cups. She wants a regular cup like mum and dad. She doesn't want cut up food or anything baby. She puts on her own socks and boots and refuses to let us fix them. She is toddler - hear her roar!

So I'm trying. I'm trying to encourage her, to let her try, to do it herself. I'm trying to be patient, to wait, to keep her busy, to keep her entertained.

It's so hard some days.

But so worth it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Round 2

This morning marks the second leg of my journey towards a healthy weight. My Ottawa Manatee Momma called me yesterday ready to clean out her fridge, cupboards and bloodstream of junk and needed a) a friend to do this with and b) motivation to not just lose a few extra jiggly bits but to really clean up the kitchen. We're not just talking fewer calories and smaller portions, we're talking cutting out salt, adding in healthy fats and getting rid of the bad, decreasing reliance on packaged foods and increasing consumption of fresh stuff.

Our journeys are very different. For the most part, Casa Wumpus is pretty packaged-food free. Where I (and we) fall down is on portion control, over indulgence of baked goods and not moving enough. For Manatee Momma, food from the freezer or pantry is standard fare and a recent heart scare with her dad has got her counting sodium milligrams and realizing something has to change.

Yesterday we committed to not just a weight goal challenge, but a good old fashion spring, or fall as it were, cleaning of the kitchen, our daily routine and our bodies. We're de-junking (both in the cupboard and in the trunk) and getting moooving again. She's already a member of Weight Watchers online, and so I shall be too, but we've also made a wager: $100 to the member of our group who loses 10 lb by Christmas eve. For the record, as a percentage that means I have to lose more, but I'm OK with that. If we both do it, we both get the $100 from the other to spend on ourselves.

Sure, it's a wash when we both succeed but that's not the point. WW is so successful because of not just teaching portion control but also the social network and support you receive when you go to meetings. Without meetings, Manatee and I are forming our own group, albeit across two provinces, but I'll take what I can get.

You're welcome to join us. But you must actually have 10 lb or more to lose - according to an actual medical professional, not your own idea of what you see in the mirror. Jen P's version is she's got to gain 10 lb by Christmas, but she's pregnant, so she better.

So here it is, folks. Truth time.

I weighed in this morning at 146.4 lb. Up a solid 5 lb from April...in the face of training and running a half marathon. Wow, can you say lack of portion and self control? Um, yes. To put it in context, I'm barely over 5'2". According to WW, my highest goal weight "allowed" is 137 lb, meaning that this 10 lb loss puts me in the very highest of my "healthy weight range". In fairness, I don't think high 130s is high for me, but that's another discussion for another time. I would be down right tickled pink to hit the 130s and stay anywhere near there. And so we shall see what it takes to get there.

And now if you'll excuse me, I've got a work out to do and some healthy meals to plan. I heart meal planning!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Accessories

In the midst of saying Cheese while bouncing on mummy's (very flabby) tummy

Her dad dressed her, which is shocking because I'm usually the one who chooses two very non-matchy matchy items of clothing.

She walks in these shoes as well as I do. Maybe better.

See?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On measuring up and vomiting

That's right, I said vomiting.

Chou was sent home early today from daycare with her very first stomach bug. Poor thing was asleep in the high chair when I got there. I scooped her up, brought her home, she was sick again, I changed her and put her down for a nap. Two hours of sleep later and she was up, managed to miss herself and her cuskie but messed up her entire crib and blanket. I brought her and the laundry down, she had a big nurse and we snuggled and watched backyardigans. Within a bit, she decided she was better and dressed herself to go outside (well, I helped, but she really is getting quite good - she gets her socks and boots on and her tuque. Jacket and mitts are mum's job). Two minutes outside and she was yakking breastmilk all over the deck. Back in we went and it was another episode of backyardigans, then Maisy, then some Sesame street, more yakking, and then -poof- at 330, my darling daughter was back and very hungry. I wish we could all get over a bug like that.

On to measuring up (aren't you glad I'm done talking about yakking?).

I realized today as I tidied my kitchen, put a near-perfect carrot cake in the oven, wiped the counter and flicked on the dishwasher, that a) I'm quite domestic b) I'm getting much better at keeping house and c) I really am OK with measuring my success by my own yard stick and not ever feeling like I have to have the same things as everyone, or the same new kitchen or the same new car.

Wait. This is seemingly non-news to y'all who know me. Ms. Wumpus is synonymous with practicality, ask anyone. Really, truly there are times when I thought that all these years of frugality were temporary, that when we had more money we'd spend it more liberally, travel more, buy more, do more. Yes, there are places in the world I want to see. Yes, there are some new pieces of furniture I'd like, but really, truly having more disposable income hasn't meant buying more. Instead, we're investing more, weighing our options carefully, over-thinking home renovations and trying to make our money stretch the furthest.

Other people go on yearly (even more!) vacations, or buy huge houses or new leather furniture or the EVEN BIGGER television. Some just blow it all on clothes and wine. All these things are OK, they're just not for me. I get more joy out of spending an extra hundred bucks on groceries so I can make my man real, quality sashimi at home. I'm going to splurge and book some riding lessons (yay!). And yes, I'll finally get new underwear. But the wanting what others want? Don't want it. And that makes me happy.

And so concludes the two most randomly paired topics in the history of the blogosphere.

You're welcome.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The social life

I like older women.

Wait, let's back up a bit.

The Wumpus Plan to Happiness is in full swing - the office is settled in the basement, the Chou hosted a playdate yesterday and has invited all sorts of new mums and babes over next week.

I'm happy too. The playdate, with a fellow doula mum, was a lovely way to spend a cold and snowy Thursday morning. We made snowmen complete with carrot noses and grape eyes. We threw snowballs and watched as two toddlers galumped their way through the snow. It was great to connect with a like-minded momma and have company for Chou.

This morning the town mummy group is getting together, but I've got too much work to do to go (but not so much that I can't blog? I guess). I've offered to host next week, and I'm looking forward to meeting more people in my town.

What's funny (in a non funny way) is that there's really only one person in town I've really connected with so far and she's a good 10 years older with two nearly-grown kids.

I've discovered, or rather just come to accept, that I connect with women 10 years or more my senior. This isn't a new thing either, when I was 19 - a very tumultuous time - one of my closest friends was in her early 30s with three young kids. We had zero in common, really, except having horses, but that was enough. One of my most valued friends is in her 60s. And now, here in our new home, I'm clicking with someone at least 10 years older, yet again.

I don't know what it is, whether it's that I lost mum so young and look up to older women for their wisdom or if it's that I don't think like women my age (and haven't for as long as I remember) or if it's just that these are the women I click with and so be it.

Either way, I'm thankful for finally making a friend. For the first time in a very long time, I went out for tea at someones house. In the evening! GASP! I brought over pumpkin coffee cake and we sat and learned of each others lives.

I left the coffee cake there, half eaten. She promised to return it in the rural tradition: full of something else.

I love this town.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Positivity

Maybe it's a first time mummy thing, but figuring out how to teach by example instead of by rules is bloody hard. Case in point, I have an 18 month old. Do you know how many times I say "No!" in a day? More than I can count. The tough part is that I try not to. I'm always trying to phrase things in the positive, trying to say We DO rather than We DON'T as much as I can. Yes, there is a time when No is the only appropriate response, but it isn't the only one I want Chou to hear.

Tuesday afternoon I picked up Chou from daycare. Her hair was in a ponytail THAT SHE WASN'T PULLING OUT. I asked her caregiver how she managed this, because frankly, Chou looks like a lion most days with her blond afro growing every week. I try and tame the beast but it's a losing battle when the kid just rips out elastics, clips and ribbons. She'll wear a headband, but only if it's someone else's and she's not supposed to have it. Sigh.

Where was I?

Right.

So I pick her up, and ask S, "How do you get it to stay in?"


She says, "Well, at first she was pulling at it. Then I started telling her how pretty it looked. How nice it was. After a while, she left it in."

See? Why can't I think of this stuff.

Sure enough. We get home and I have to put the elastic back in after the tuque came off. Chou starts pulling at it. "Wow, Chou, look how pretty it is!" She agrees and leaves it in.

Now, how do I get her to stop hitting, grabbing toys and running, jumping in the tub, not letting me wash her hair, throwing food on the ground, etc. etc. etc....in a positive way?

Hmmm. Yeah.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I got it good

It's Thanksgiving here in Canada, but my day of reflection and thankfulness fell somewhere in the middle of last week. Really, I should be in Manitoba right now stuffing myself full of deliciousness, but the weather had other ideas. It was a blessing in some ways as the unintended long weekend home has meant rolling out a new plan here at Casa Wumpus, and you, lucky blog reader, get to hear all about it.

It started with me officially being hired as a doula for a lovely young couple due end of January. She's added me as a friend on Facebook and proudly told the online world that I was HER doula. My chest puffed out just a little and suddenly I've got even more impetus to read every birth book there is so I can be HER BEST DOULA.

Then, Chou Chou came home from daycare exhausted. I love my daycare for many reasons, but like most, once kids are down to one nap a day, they go down for one nap. Chou, for all her own reasons, has not been sleeping well and has ended up in our bed by 2 a.m. for nearly a week (last night she slept in her own bed again all night, please, please tell me that's the end of the phase. But I'm getting side tracked. Hang on.) Anywho, I came to realize that Chou, now and then, likely needs a day or two home to chill out, sleep when she wants, eat when she wants and have more Mummy time. Maybe a play date from time to time with other kids besides daycare kids.

Then, there was a job. Now, I know some work people read this, so I'm asking them to respect my privacy and just let me talk this out. No judging!

There was a job posting. A really, really good job, paying more money than what I'm making now. It's a different job, a new, exciting sort of line of work. The benefits are stellar (maternity leave top up, anyone?) and it's a national company, which may come in handy if we move again. I was all gung-ho - polishing off the resume and planning my interview outfit.

And then I hit the middle of the week, got hired as a doula and realized my baby needs me more, not less right now. I started listing off the pluses of the job I have now - home-based, flexible, interesting, it's an industry I love and want to be a part of, decent pay - and the cons - home-based, same old same old, a bit lonely. Then I thought about the cons of the new job - longer hours, more time away from Chou (significantly more, I think) a daily highway commute (in winter, yuck), less time for home life and work outs and lack of flexibility.

I realized, it was like a wave that washed over me, that this job is the job for me right now. If Chou is sick, I can still work and be home for her. We only have one car, and that's all we need with only one of us commuting. A winter storm means, at worst, I get bundled up to walk Chou to daycare, or she stays home with me. Big deal. I can work out at lunch, and make up time on evenings and weekends, if need be, in the event that Chou did stay home. And then there's the doula thing - what job could be more perfect? I'm away from home very few days a year, thus very available for being on-call.

But I also know that there are aspects of this working from home thing that are driving me a little bonkers, thus even looking for another job. I need separation of work and home. I need more social interaction and stimuli. I need to feel my work is meaningful.

Which brings us to this weekend. Being somewhat snowbound meant having not much to do but stay inside. I decided two things - One: My office was moving downstairs. We've got a comfy living area down here, with windows and pot lights. Now, I have a dedicated workspace (that is not also Chou's video and colouring area), plus it converts easily into workout space. Our den upstairs is becoming Chou's play room and our TV room (more on that later). It's win win. Two: I need to host more playdates and keep Chou home when she needs to stay home. Maybe that's once a week, maybe more, maybe less. But everyone now and then, I need to work extra hard Mon-Thurs so that Chou can stay home, we invite friends over and we all play, mellow out and have some social time whether we want to or not, damn it.

So that's it. This Thanksgiving I really have come to realize that I've got it good. So good. It just took nearly giving it up for extra cash and the chance to wear heels more often to make me see that money and fancy shoes really aren't that important. Basement offices, lunch time workouts and playdates are the cat's meow, according to me, and so it shall be. Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.
Chou's first whipped cream experience. She ate if off the beaters (she called it ice cream), but didn't like it on her pumpkin pie.

Right after this, she picked the cream off and just ate the filling.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Wonderland

It snowed last night, and not just a dusting of the stuff, oh no, we got a good couple inches of heavy white cold stuff. If the calendar said Oct 29th instead of 9th I might be more accepting, however it's a wee bit early even for this well-adapted northerner.

Still, there's something magical about how the house sort of glows at night from the moon reflecting off the snow. This morning I could see the tracks of the little brave souls that dared to traipse about and dig through the compost through the storm. The house feels warmer, cozier somehow because of the frosting outside. I'm reminded that I really love winter, and I'm excited for Chou - this winter she'll be mobile. I can teach her all my favorite winter things - skating, tobogganing, building snow forts and tunnels (the enjoyment of hot toddies will have to wait a few more years).

Of course, then I think about driving the six hours home for the Thanksgiving weekend in all this snow, with new, low friction tires and the chance of way more snow and blowing snow and I think, Shit, there goes our plans. Yes, winter, you nasty old man, you're already ruining my plans and it's not even Halloween. Jerk.

The view from my living room window this morning.

***
Chou learned three new things from her big buddy in Ottawa - two are cute, adorable even, one is not. The adorable: Chou has always been a dancer, but a definite booty shaker and hand clap kind of dancer. Buddy R is an arm-waving raver. Since coming home, Chou is raising the roof like it's nobody's business. Also, Chou learned that you can dance while on all fours as long as you kick out one leg every now and then. It's priceless. She also learned to jump - both feet off the ground - while in Ottawa. It's hilarious to watch her muster her strength and reach tall with all her might as she manages a tiny centimeter lift. Oh, but she's proud of it!

The bad? Big R is a total ham at the dinner table, and while he's polite enough not to throw food (like Chou does) he does like to spit it back out for comedic effect. Chou figures this is a fantastic parlour game and now lets all things dinner dribble back out of her mouth, watching expectantly for our reaction. We are not amused. That doesn't seem to stop her.

***
I've discovered two things this week. Playing with flour is an excellent way to keep a toddler busy. It's also an excellent way to nearly wipe out. Flour is very slick for such a dry substance. Oh, and dark hardwood floors? Not so great for cleaning after said flour playing.

So soft and messy.

She's pretty sure she shouldn't be doing this.

The aftermath. I love her little footprints.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A beginner and the end

At 18 months, Chou is wee. We're not surprised - her parents are midgets, why should she be any different. She's measuring just under the 50th percentile, but for both height and weight, so at least we know she's a proportioned wee girl. She's finally put on some pounds (she's 23 lb 12.5 oz) and is a towering 31.25 inches. Right, like I said, wee.

But this appointment was really rough on mummy wumpus - these were her first vaccinations in her arms and wow can that girl holler, look angry, scream, cry, howl some more, give the nurse the stink eye and howl again. She kept saying Owie and holding up her arm for me to kiss. So adorable, so sad.

I dried her tears, was thankful I could still offer numnums (booby juice), and she settled down. We got her dressed and toured the old folks home for a few minutes. It was sad and wonderful all at once. Several of the home's residents sit in mobile chairs, staring blankly at the wall or their laps. Still others were over the moon to have such a little, new person in their midst. Chou, for her part, waved but didn't smile (her arm still hurt I'm sure) and then spied one of the resident kitty cats.

With a loud "Meow!" she took after the ginger kitty and followed him into some old woman's room. Chou was so focused on burying her hands in the very patient kitty's fur, she likely didn't notice she had totally made this woman's day.

Maybe we should go visit more often, and for better reasons than to get needles.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Running down a dream

I did my first doula consultation last night.

I wasn't terribly nervous and found myself focused on the couple (even though it meant Daddy having to put Chou down to bed alone for the first time in months). After settling in, I thoroughly enjoyed spending an hour chatting about pregnancy, birth and the like.

It's an interesting feeling, to sit in front of two people experiencing what's sure to be one of life's most amazing journeys and essentially auditioning to be a part of it.

I'll let you know if they choose me or not.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Flatlander's PR

Distance: 13.1 miles
Unofficial time: 2:12:48 - a PR by 11 minutes, 54 seconds
Pace: 10:08 min/mile, 54 seconds per mile faster than last year

Where do I start?

Ah, the morning.

Chou Chou has mostly switched back to mountain time...except in the morning. She's up at 5:15 saying "Hi!" and ready to smooch and cuddle and then play. Mum and daddy are not. Mr. Wumpus was incredibly sweet this morning to get up with her at that ungodly hour and take her down for breakfast. I slept until 6:30.

My race started at 10, which is both good and bad. Good, because I slept well knowing that I didn't need to wake up extra early to make it in time, but bad because 10 is kind of late. I tried to eat at the right time, drink enough and have coffee but not over do it. It was tough. Nine am would have been better. Whatever.

We headed into town and I was one of the first to pick up my pack, then we headed to Tim's. Then the baby fell asleep. Lucky bastard.


After two bathroom breaks and a quick realization that most people have some sort of warm up routine (I do not), it was time to toe the line. It was cool (5 degrees C), but I went out in just my long sleeved shirt and shorts. I had my jacket on but rarely have run in it, so I left it behind. It was the right decision.


Playing on the bleachers while everyone else warmed up.

Jittery, chilly but ready to go.

And we're off!

This was the first year the race was timed with chips, and the first time I've run with disposable chips (they're on a piece of paper you loop on your laces). Besides being flatter than my last race, this race was also super friendly. No one talked to me during my first half (but there were tonnes of cheering folks), but for this race, I had a running buddy by the first kilometer. By the third or fourth, we had gained another friend. I found out quickly that I should have chosen my friends more carefully - Dorothy finished a full three weeks ago (in 4:36) and Cecilia finished a half three weeks ago in 2:11. I was hoping for a sub 2:20. Was I out of my league?

Well, yes. But after last week's run with the midwife, where I realized I wasn't pushing myself enough, I decided that I needed somebody shooting for a faster time than me (but not by too much) and I needed to run with them as long as I could.

Dorothy chatted on and off, keeping me entertained. She has a brother who farms who is completely blind, which I found fascinating. She also thought (like me) when she started running that walking was not allowed. So funny.

By the 8 km mark, I knew Dorothy was itching to take off, and me and Cecilia were more evenly matched. A side stitch had me walking a bit and Cecilia gave me pointers on getting rid of it. At 10 km Dorothy was pulling away and I checked my watch: 59:27 - the fastest 10 km I've ever done by a full 5 minutes. My hips were hurting a bit and I knew I was going much faster than usual. I knew at some point I'd have to run my own race. I knew I'd lose Cecilia near the end, but I just decided to stick with her as long as I could.

At the 11 km mark, we were joined by Coralee. She finished her last half in 2:06 and wasn't looking to go any faster this time out. She was friendly, fun and made the next few km fly by.

I hit my honeymoon mile (the 8th) and actually ran out in front of Coralee and Cecilia for a solid 5 minutes, only to have them catch me, then pull away. I kept them in my sights and caught back up to Cecilia by the 16 km (10 mile) mark. We ran together for another 10 minutes, but my legs and left hip had decided they only wanted to do 10 miles. I told them that based on my watch we were looking at possibly a 10 minute PR and there was no way in hell I was giving up.

The last 2 miles hurt, but nothing like last year. I knew I had a PR, maybe even by more than 10 minutes, so I cranked the iPod (I hardly used it all race) and lifted my chest and started swinging my legs.

The race ends on the track and as I turned through the trees, there was the husband and Chou waiting and cheering, "you're going to be under 2:15" the husband says - "I know!" I shouted, as I kissed Chou and climbed on to the track.

The track felt lovely and soft, and while I didn't pick up the pace much (oh, were my legs screaming), I had a good cadence and kept it up. At the 21 km mark, the husband let Chou down and she ran, smiling to me. I scooped her up and we ran the last 100 m together - much to the amusement of the crowd who clapped and cheered and exclaimed things like "Too cute!' and "That is so adorable." yeah, I know.

Cruising home in 2:12.48. Holy crap.

All done! Chou kissed my medal. Nice.

The Ministry of Silly Walks walk

Post-race sushi. Not quite Cora's brunch, but a close second.

I learned a lot this race. I learned that I'm way too easy on myself and that yes, track workouts and hills are necessary to get faster. I confirmed that strength and cross training is important. Case in point, at this point last year I was just glad to be done my race and I proceeded to NOT RUN for a month. Yeah, not good. This year? I'm looking at signing up for a hypothermic half (in January) and I've got runs penciled in for the coming week. Mentally, I'm in a better place after this race and I'm still loving running. That's a big deal.

I also met friendly, fun people on this run, and the way this run went really drives home the message that I must, must, must run with a buddy at least now and again. Sure, I'd love to have my Jen P and midwife here, but that's not going to happen all that often, so I need to branch out and meet new runners.

I'm feeling fine, Internets. I'm feeling inspired and motivated. I'm feeling like I want to run some more. I'm feeling like I could demolish a chocolate sundae. I'm also feeling a lot of pain in my legs, folks, but it's all good.

It's all good.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Flatlander's Eve

By this time tomorrow I'll be about half way through my second half marathon.

I'm nervous, excited, relieved and a bit jet-lagged.

The good news is I did manage to stay relatively active during my taper. I even managed a fast (for me) five miler last Saturday, proving my point that there ought to be running doulas (Saturday's run was with my midwife, a much faster runner, and the conversation and new surroundings made the miles fly by - at a 30 second/mile faster pace. That's a big deal, kids).

The bad news is I didn't train as hard as I liked and I didn't lose one pound during this three months of training. Which is still OK, in that I'm at least 10 to 15 pounds lighter than last year at this time, but I had hoped to be 15 to 20 pounds lighter. Also, I haven't done one run since last Saturday, but I did manage a crap load of walking, pushing the stroller, carrying a backpack. That counts, right?

All said, I feel ready for tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be perfect: cool (cold, by some standards) and dry. I have my favorite gels and my wardrobe all picked out. Last year I was worried about boob chafe and overheating, this year I just want my legs to hold out and to beat Jen P's pregnant 2:23 from last week's Niverville half. How does she do it? I have no clue.

We'll see you tomorrow with my first race report in almost a year!

(How sad is that? Which brings me to my next point, I don't enter enough races. Racing is the fun part of all this...duh.)

What my daughter thinks of politics.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A bientot - a montage

Fall returned (arrived?) with a vengeance yesterday. The day was cool, then nearly cold, windy as all get out and by late afternoon cold, cold rain was falling. It poured all night. The wind howled (as did the coyotes). It made me miss my husband and want to bring Chou in to snuggle with me. At 2 a.m., she woke up complaining, so I did bring her in to bed with me. Except that she wanted to go back to her bed. Silly baby.

Chou and I are off to meet up with the husband in our former home town tomorrow. It's a work-ation: I don't actually have any holidays so I've got the laptop, a few interviews lined up and a few more articles to write. Have I mentioned I love the flexibility of my job? It's going to be tough to balance fun and work and working remotely, but I know I'm up for it. Yes, Dave B, I will be working! I have no choice really. Deadlines wait for no one.

But I couldn't leave you for a week without out at least something to keep you entertained. So I give you our very windy montage.

Oh, and sidenote: I believe Chou has/had Fifth Disease. She's sporting a small red and raised rash on her left cheek, but the fever is gone and she seems 100%. She's no longer contagious, so I hope this won't interfere with any of our visiting.

See y'all soon.

Yes, I know a) her outfit doesn't match nor does it b) match her shoes and c) the pants are too short. But have you tried dressing an 18-month old? It's like dressing fighting tom cats that have the strength of 10 bulls, that have gigantic melons that try and smack you in the cheekbone at every turn. Honestly. Stop judging me.



Hanging on for dear life, I think. It was seriously windy.

She's flapping her arms at the birds.


How I keep her entertained on rainy days. I had no intention of buying the apple, but then she took a bite out of it.



Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stroller Derby

I can't actually remember my last stroller run. But I know I haven't run with it since the move to Saskatchewan, so that would put it somewhere at least six months ago, possibly more.

I never did like the stroller run, however in Chou's first year it really was the only way to get any sort of running in. Running with the stroller was somewhat stressful; babies can be rather temperamental and have their own schedules. I wouldn't even attempt more than a half an hour with her. Add to that, pushing a stroller is hard, especially on hills, and the lack of arm swinging can really knock you out of rhythm. But I used to run at least once a week with it, and there were pluses - it's hard work, so a better work out, and beyond working around nap time it means run time is any time.

So far, I've put three runs and nearly 12 miles into this taper. That's three runs and nearly 12 miles more than my last TOTAL taper (high five me!) and I've still got days and days and lots of runs planned. Today was run three of the week - I was hoping for more but a wee bit of a sicky baby had me rearrange my schedule (and that's OK, I'm mum first, runner second).

Chou and I set out near 9 am - it was cool and windy and delightful. I didn't have a watch, but I've nearly got the mile markers memorized now, so I figured I could get a solid three to four miles in. I ran to what I figured was about two, two and a half miles, then let Chou out at the park to play. I stretched and drank water, while a cool breeze kicked up and the clouds rolled in. After five minutes or so, I loaded Chou back up and set out for home the long way around to get another mile in. I felt good the entire time, the legs felt strong and frankly it didn't nearly feel as hard as it used to, even on the hills. This is good, as I certainly lack confidence in my leg strength - I need to feel strong once in a while.

We got home (Chou with slightly blue lips and cold hands. Um, whoops. Guess the wind was really cool. Sorry, kid), and I mapped it out. 4.22 miles. Sweet. It didn't feel that far.

Lucky 13 sleeps until the half marathon. I think I'm ready.

She's clearly feeling better, though not 100%.

Trying a chokecherry...

What she thinks of chokecherries. She spat it out seconds later.

Chou in the morning sun

And everybody send positive vibes to lucky Jen P who right now is running her second half marathon in this pregnancy...in Maui. Lucky girl.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Testing my mettle

These few weeks sans-husband have flown by. We leave for Ottawa in four sleeps and, until yesterday, I've been on a I-can-totally-be-a-single-mum-and-train-and-work kick. Then yesterday afternoon Chou starting getting cranky. She's never cranky, so I felt her head. Sure enough she felt warm, but not hot. We continued with our day.

By 5:30 she was getting much warmer and much crankier, I made dinner but all she did was scream and cry at her fork. Yeah, after two minutes of that and three yawns, I figured it was beddy-bye time for this cranky seed.

At six, we were upstairs, getting into jammies, taking temperatures, grabbing cuskie and cuddling. She nursed a bit while I took her temperature. It was rising pretty quickly and she was getting that glassy-eyed look I've seen in other kids with a high temp but never in Chou. When the thermo said close to 39, I gave her tylenol and rocked her to sleep. She was out in minutes.

For me, this is all new territory. As a momma, I know I'm blessed to have one healthy kid (I credit the fact that she's always nursed, eats very well and has inherited my immunity. The kid's constitution is like a dray horse, seriously). She had croup as a six-month old and spiked a fever after her vaccinations once, but this is her first real sicky fever. Touch wood, but I've never been up with a snurgly/coughing baby, never cleaned up a puked-on crib in the middle of the night, never rocked her for hours or slept in the chair. I know we've got years to go where all those things will likely happen, but last night, as my flushed and fevered babe nuzzled into my neck, I wondered if I knew what I was doing.

I prepared myself mentally for a very tough night. I had visions of her waking every four hours as the tylenol wore off. How I'd have to keep it up and get cold clothes and sleep in the chair. And as I prepared for it all, I realized that yes, I could do this and I would take care of her and she would be fine.

The night went surprisingly well - I sneaked in to check on her at 9:30. She woke up, snuggled, nursed a bit and went back to bed. The fever was down, but not gone. She slept until 3:30, nursed again, this time wasn't very warm and then awoke at 6 bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

But now it's 10, and she after a fine morning of eating, playing and pooping, she got cranky again, feverish and asked to go to bed at 9:30. Poor thing. All I want to do is crawl in the crib with her, curl her against me and sing her to sleep. Except that she wanted to go in her crib, alone, rolled over and promptly feel asleep.

I know I should be thankful for such an easy sick baby, but a little bit of me wouldn't mind being needed just a bit more, thank you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Personality

Next week marks a year and a half of Chou outside the womb. 18 months of my life has never gone so quickly.

My monthly Chou updates usually list her "firsts", her new skills, teeth and words, but this month it's all about who Chou IS, not just what she can do.

Because Chou is becoming, well, Chou. My BabyCentre newsletter confirmed what I already knew - 18 months marks a sort of end to babyhood and the real beginning of childhood. Yes, they all have personality from day one, but the kind of person Chou is is now cementing itself. I love what I see (biased or not).

Chou is social, friendly, affectionate and funny. She doesn't have an ounce of shyness or respect for personal space, come to think of it. She's also willful, determined, a bit of a bruiser and a pleasure seeker. I dare say she's confident, given that she rarely seems to need any sort of encouragement from me to jump into a melee of kids or a new situation.

She's a greeter - Hi! - she says to everyone, upon their entry into the post office, the grocery store or her general vicinity. Kids she met two minutes before at the park deserve a hug and kiss goodbye, along with a wave. Anyone under five feet tall, and even those taller, are already friends because they are there. No other details required.

It warms my heart to see Chou so eager to get to daycare. This morning, after I dressed her and turned off the morning news, she promptly walked to the door and then to the bike trailer, ready to go (nevermind that it was 10 minutes early and I had to do loops around town to kill time). When we arrive, she hops out, climbs the steps, knocks, opens the door and claps and squeals with delight at the sight of the others. I quick kiss for me and a wave and she's gone before I can say hello to her caregiver.

And I know I'm blessed when S, her caregiver, hugs and smoochers her and tells me how much entertainment and joy Chou brings to their day. I know she means it too, because I've watched the kids play. Not all kids add to the fun of the day. It never gets old to be told your child is well-adjusted, outgoing, fun, bright and a character.

She's not without her challenges, of course. Chou hits and can get rather stubborn (I wonder where she gets that from?). The hitting isn't out of malice, but she's strong and can hurt even the bigger kids, mummy included. We're working on this, though saying she's sorry and timeouts seem to do nothing to curb the behavior. Any ideas? A part of me wants some other kid to smack her back, but you can't really tell them that, now can you?

This month, this 1.5 years, this 18 month milestone, feels like a sort of graduation for me. My daughter and I are friends. We go for long walks in the evening, picking up treasures (pine cones, sticks and rocks). Seriously, that kid can motor, for a loooong time. We were out for 45 minutes last night, walking. We seek out animals of every kind, chat with the neighbors we meet. She and I have tickle fights, dance parties and snuggle fests at 6:30 in the morning (when she greets me with a kiss and a bear hug). Chou is learning which plants to eat (mint, chokecherries, crapapples) and which to not (chokecherries, random berries, flowers), and the names of insects, plants and grasses. Whether she understands or not, I talk to her like she can, like my parents did with me, because one day she will understand and maybe sooner than I think.

She's saying "Cheese!"

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The $1,000 TV that reproduces

The Chou and I had a relaxing Sunday on our own. We were up at seven, coffee'd, pancake'd and done talking to daddy by nine. My knees were a bit owie, but I was pleasantly surprised by how good my legs felt after yesterday's 11.8 miles. I figured a) I had to get this kid out of the house and b) a brisk walk would help with recovery, so we headed into town, picked up a coffee and banana bread at the bistro and strolled to the big park.

Chou has no concept of "big kids" play structure and so manages to climb the big slides, the death-trap ladder and the kiddie climbing wall all the while I have a minor heart attack. Given the goose egg on her forehead from yesterday's wall-whacking, I'm understandably worried about the kid's eventual mental capacity if she keeps this up.

But I digress.

Our town is mighty quiet on a Sunday morning, but we did manage to find one other family with three golden retrievers to befriend. One of the dogs dropped a ratty old tennis ball and Chou walked all the way across the park (we're talking a good city block-length) to return the slobbery thing to the pups. So adorable.

After her monster afternoon nap (nearly three hours! Holy crap!), we headed into the Big City to check out the Halloween costumes at Old Gravy. I've learned something: I just need to let Chou walk more places. Sure, it's slower but the kid needs to move - carts are for grocery shopping, when I can, I let her loose. Inside Old Gravy she taunted the kids in their strollers and squealed with glee as she removed most hats and vests at (her) eye level. I managed to find zero clothes for me and a few cute things for her that I'm not sure I'll keep. I also had her try on the ladybug costume. We're totally getting it. Eventually. (They're less than 10 bucks on Halloween. I'm cheap.)

(Don't worry, I'm getting to the reproducing TV)

We left the store and what did I spot across the parking lot? A store I never thought to introduce Chou to - Petland. You may as well just call it Crackland for her, she loves animals so much. We easily killed 45 minutes in there. The kitties were right at her height and the bars are far enough apart for her chubby hands to get through. And then she saw the plexiglass full of bouncing/shitting/barking balls of fluff ...and was enthralled. She ran from pane to pane, saying "Woo, Woo!" (her version of woof, woof), banging on the glass, clapping, bouncing and generally having the best. time. ever.

I stared in awe. Not just at the mesmerizing effect the puppies had on her, but their price tag. These maltese/yorkie/random other small dog things were going for ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS.

Wow.

I have no words.

Any who, at some point she moves on to the kennels of larger dogs - three runs of golden labs, all different ages. The two in the middle are play fighting and as she approaches the glass one LUNGES for her - she screams and falls flat on her butt, a little scared but then oddly entertained that the dog couldn't get her. Hello, 3-D! They really should charge admission.

I felt terrible tearing her away from her favorite show, but there was a blue tongue skink to pet and dinner to be made at home. That, and I have to figure out a way to install plexiglass and mutt-puppies in the wall at home.


Mouth full of banana bread, on the death ladder

I was trying to capture just how massive the cottonwoods are in our park, but without a wide angle lens, I can't. Because they are that massive. Does that mean I accomplished what I set out to do? This is the longest photo caption ever.

Please note gigantic bruise in the middle of her forehead AND the mosquito bite on the bridge of her nose. Poor thing.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The big (almost) 12

Miles: 11.8 (I ended up changing my route and decided to run to 2:10 instead of a marker. I was at my door at 2:08 and decided that was enough. Clearly, it was .2 miles NOT enough but whatever)
Time: 2:08:02 (10:50 min/mile)
Number of dogs that chased me: 3
Number of dogs I chased back: 3
Number of horses I saw: 3
Number of cats that followed me, so I stopped to pet them: 1
Number of idiots who didn't slow down on the gravel road and threw rocks and dust in my face: All of them
Minutes with iPod: 77
Minute when iPod died (from over-sweatyness): 78
Number of sore knees: 2
Number of super slow miles: the last 2

All in all, a good last long run before the half, but dammit I wanted 12.1 and ended up .2 short of 12. I'm pissed about that, but I figure I'll make it up by actually running during this taper, as opposed to last time when I ran 12 miles and then took two weeks off. Right.

The first 1 hr, 30 min of this run felt fabulous and I'd say this is the best I've felt throughout a run this long ever. This all bodes well for the half.

I am a bit disappointed with my pace. (Yes, I know it IS a long slow distance run) but I tend to run at the same pace regardless. This would put me at over 2:20 for the half...which is ok, but I'm really hoping for sub 2:20. I'm going to have to push it a bit more. I will say miles 1-9 were at a decent pace. I really really really slowed down those last miles. Any advice on workouts I can do over the next week to stick it out miles 10-13?

And now, pictures. Here's the fun part, on my long 12 last year I found horses. This year, they found me. I had no clue any lived at this one house, but as I approached three scrub ponies came trotting out of the bush to say hello. I figure that was a good omen.

Me, happy for hay bales, scrub ponies and a gorgeous morning.


It smells as good as it looks.

See? Hills in Saskatchewan. This is a small hill. I live in a very hilly place. It's gorgeous.

The two hour mark and still smiling and not entirely beet red. I felt good, just tired legs.