Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The F Word

No, not that one, worse than that.

That's right, focus.

It's a term that keeps coming up, usually following the words "I can't".

What's got me a little put out is that it's not just work, it's life, it's training, it's my health and my home. Sure, I'd like to blame it all on the craziness that has been our life for the last few weeks, but that's only been the straw to break the camel's back, not the problem itself.

Any mums can relate. Lately the only conversations I have with my momma friends revolve around this return to work, in no matter what capacity. We're all bright women with goals and aspirations, and not all of them job-related. We're struggling with balancing time with our children with bringing home an income, but more than this we're struggling with promising more than we can deliver or, gasp, not being able to focus on what we do have in front of us. Personally, what I'm CAPABLE of and what I'm WILLING to commit to are two very different beasts right now. That goes hand in hand with feeling somewhat unfulfilled with work and questioning the balance of time spent working.

In reality, my days are not so bad and the my return to earning a meager wage has gone swimmingly. Chou transitioned to day care like a duck to water. I've managed to pick up right where I left off and I'm at least mostly excited about the tasks at hand. If I suffer from focus issues now and again, I blame the still somewhat sleepless nights and making milk (it's a very big draw on my system, OK?)

Where I'm really struggling to focus is on training. In fact, I can officially say I'm no longer training. For anything. And it's a slippery slope. My Weight Watchers coupons ran out this week. In two weeks I've pounded out....three.whole.miles. I'm carbo loading, boredom eating and watching the pants get tighter, the sleep get worse and my skin break out. This isn't about weight loss, this is a lack of focus on health. See? It's that F word again.

And just when I needed it most, the latest Running Room magazine arrived in the mail. There's an article in there that really hit home. I do need to take a step back, REFOCUS, prioritize healthy eating, build core strength and lean muscle mass, stretch and drop some unnecessary pounds. I officially admit that my periformus (sp?) is not getting better. Guess what was also covered in today's magazine? Yep. I need to address this before it hamstrings my running for good.

I dropped out of the Ottawa half last week. I'll consider my $45 entry fee a goodbye gift to my former home city. I started looking at signing up for the Manitoba Half, and then realized I don't have to run a half this spring. I can run the Queen City Half in September. Nearly a year between big races is just fine.

At the very least, it'll give me time to focus.

The cutest things ever

The Chou's understanding of language has exploded the last few weeks. She can now, on command:
- take whatever she's holding and bring it to the appropriate parent
- kiss who/whatever we tell her to (Give dada a kiss. Give Gilbert the Bear a kiss.)
- look at me with disdain as I tell her to "Stop pulling out the lamp plug"

She knows who each of us is, and says Dad far more frequently and with more fervor than I'd like. She's had timeouts and hates them, but they do seem somewhat effective. She's also learned that when Dada tells her to sit in the tub, he'll giggle and give in if she does this cute half sit/stand thing while smiling at him.

Men are such pushovers.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Eff off, Ides of March

Whatever the hell Ides are, they can just piss off anytime now.


Wednesday Day of Attitude Adjustment was short lived. I'll admit it, this March has been tough. It's not horrible, I can't complain about everything - we're all healthy, have a home and jobs, aren't flooding and blah blah blah, but I'd love, love, LOVE for just one day to go smoothly, one day that I accomplish all I set out to do (or must do), one day where I can go to bed at night weary but restful.

Instead, every day since, oh, the beginning of March has been a struggle in some regard. Whether it's this job transfer, Chou's birthday, her one year old portraits that didn't happen (another post entirely), a computer going kaput, a shower doing the same or work just not flowing, every day holds some sort of wrench in my plans. I've dropped out of the half (again, another post, one that I will write, I promise), put WW on hold and am trying to simplify and stay focused on the important stuff. But clearly, it's not enough.

Just one day, world. Just give me one day where all goes according to plan. Please.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Forward facing

We turned the Chou's car seat around the other day. I'm pretty sure it's the most exciting thing that's happened in her short life. Suddenly, the world is not this retreating scene, but an anticipation of what's to come. That, and she can give us her chicklet grin in the rearview and we laugh and laugh. She can also point at us and her toys and give her "ohhh" sound that means "give me the damn toy, mother."

Watching her adorable little face in the mirror this morning snapped me out of this funk I'm in. My apologies, of course, for any reading the blog or who have talked to me on the phone lately - I'm just not my regular woot woot happy self. I can point the finger at the speedy move, the return to work, the lack of running but all of those are excuses. Life is all about your attitude in dealing with your situation, not the situation itself, right?

Today I seek to be positive. To see the many good things in this crazy life we're leading. And so, it is Hump Day and I give you the Wumpus Wednesday Things That Are Good List (I invite all bloggers reading this to do the same, but don't feel like you have to. At least think on all the good in your life though, OK?):


Things That Are Good
1. Cream in coffee. Sure, it may not help my booty bulge, but it tastes way better and keeps my coffee hot longer. I will not go back to skim in my coffee no matter what WW says.
2. Crisp sunny morning drives with a giggling baby in the back seat.
3. A new city with affordable housing.
4. A relocation plan (read: someone else footing the bill for such a monumental task)
5. Packers and movers (see number four for why I'm not worried about this part either)
6. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches
7. External hard drives
8. Freshly laundered sheets on a freshly made bed
9. Friends willing to take your precious plants and take good care of them (Ahem.)
10. Hair highlights (that you didn't pay for)
11. Raffi on CD (Thanks, Kels!)
12. Well worn slippers that fit your feet just right

Have a great hump day everyone!

Monday, March 23, 2009

365 days of Chou

There's a big part of me that doesn't want to write Chou's 12-month letter, and it's not because I don't want her to grow up, or because I'm too emotional, it's because a) I feel like I can't give it the time it deserves because of i) we move in three weeks plus a day and ii) our computer needs a re-install after the printer possessed it and so now her First Birthday Letter is going to be sans pictures. And that, my friends, is the longest sentence I've ever written.

I'll do my best, in between house cleaners, plumbers, appraisers, painting, cleaning and purging, to give a snapshot of Chou at a year old.

She has four teeth, two top two bottom. She's a walker and a runner. She doesn't say many words we understand, but that doesn't mean she's not talking. The girl babbles incessantly with increasingly complicated sounds. She knows Mama and Dada and follows directions, such as "Go give this beer to Dada" or "Mama needs that wine to help her sleep. Don't touch." She knows "stop" and "no" but doesn't always obey. She dances on command and loves to push buttons on everything.

Chou is a people baby. She doesn't make strange and turns grown men into baby-talking puddles of goo in 30 seconds flat. She prefers paper scrunching and eating to most other toys, and likes to walk around holding some sort of article of clothing (preferably over her head). She waves hello and goodbye and flashes her big chicklet teeth to anyone who smiles at her.

She's a super eater - she loves fish and Indian food, hummus and avocado. Cheese is a hit, but cottage cheese is not. Banana has fallen out of favor, in light of the many other things she can eat. For the most part, she eats whatever we eat for dinner, and I couldn't be happier.

She's also a very hardy little critter. We've been lucky to have endured only two sniffles, one fever and croup, over the course of one year. After a month of daycare, I feel like I've won some sort of immune system lottery. Even my daycare provider can't believe she's made it this long without catching something. Touch wood.

My babe is also very observant. If we move one thing on or off the table or around in the room, it'll be the first thing she points at in the morning, saying "Ohhh". It's hilarious. A future inspector? Maybe. The beginning of obsessive compulsive? Also possible.

Most of all, I want to capture what fun Chou and I have in a day, but I think unless you are a parent, you just can't grasp the fill-up-the-room love and enjoyment that I feel in just spending time with my girl. We laugh, play, read, then re-read favorites, we tickle, we wrestle, we chase. I marvel at the wonder in her eyes at new things, people and animals. I'm forever surprised by her adaptability and pure enjoyment of new experiences and places. I think back to just one year ago, and the overwhelming sense of responsibility I had to this wee thing, and I think, "hey, we're not doing so bad." And, if I could look back at her new born pictures (stupid computer), I would look at that tiny, perfect bundle, and think, it is possible to love them even more each day.

We are so blessed.

Happy first birthday, Chou. You've got 17 more before I start charging you rent.



p.s. Signing Chou's birthday card "Mum and Dad" felt out of this world. I am officially my parents. Weird.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Because analogies don't get old

One year ago today, I rushed to take this picture (In my official birthing shirt that reads: Give Peas a Chance):

It was, I thought, my last day as a pregnant woman and I figured I'd have only this chance to capture my horrible hair and fat thighs, er, wait no, my beautiful round belly, ripe with the promise of the arrival of our first born.

My water had broke, the first twinges of contractions had started (in retrospect, they really were nothing) and I was cautiously optimistic that baby was on her way. I knew, in the back of my mind that your water is NOT supposed to break first and that this labour was already not going as I had hoped, but heck, I'd never done it before; I was excited. So excited.

Fast forward three days, and yes, we welcomed Chou. But in the meantime, this picture marks the beginning of three very eventful, very lovely, very not so lovely days before Chou finally arrived.

This year, I sit on the edge of another new beginning: building a new life in a new city that I've only visited now and again. We know no one there, unlike our move to Ottawa when we had a few contacts. But as word gets out of where we're going, the contacts are pouring in. Regina is in the west, and the west is friendly. We're going to have no trouble meeting friends and friends of friends, building our social network. We're also going to be able to afford a real house, with room for family and friends to crash and feel at home. And we're only going to be six hours from my family, and much closer to Mr. Wumpus's mummy's side too.

This new adventure's pain is more of the admin variety. The cleaning, the purging, the paperwork, the balancing keeping the Chou entertained and out of the way while we get it all done.

But there's also the pain of giving up our social network here. This really has become our home in so many ways. I consider myself very blessed to have the woman who first held Chou and delivered her safely here to now be one of my closest friends and my running mate. Two of my mummy friends are like sisters in so many ways. And then there's Jolene, who I've known for years and years and only recently really got to know and love. I'm going to miss them all.

But as with any labour, there's a great reward at the end, and we Wumpus (plural?) are over the moon to be heading to the Queen City, and are ready to make it home.

The most unfortunate thing is that while my birthing of Chou meant I lost 20 lb in a hurry, I have a feeling this new beginning will have the opposite effect. Restaurant food for three weeks? Um, oh dear.

P.S.: Happy Birthday to Farmer Lynda. Stay 29 forever, OK? That's what I'm doing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rhymes with...

Ah, the Prairies. The lazy sunsets, the buzz of mosquitoes, the snap of a dry winter chill. Yes, it's official: we're moving to the Prairies. And not just any prairie, oh no, we're moving smack dab in the middle of 'em. That's right, Regina. The city that smells like it sounds.

Wait, that's not fair. I love Regina. It's a beautiful, small city (even by Canadian standards), that is at the very heart of everything I love about Western Canada. Saskatchewan, I think, is the oft overlooked gem of the west, with its friendly people, a booming economy and land, land, land! And no, it's not a parched wheat field from tip to tip. In fact, parts of it are down right hilly, and yes, there are trees. More than some parts of Alberta, I might add.

The many people and farmers I've met in Saskatchewan have been enterprising, resourceful and above all welcoming when I've come rolling onto their farm yards in my usually inappropriate rental car. Some of my most favorite writing subjects reside in the Land of Living Skies.

I've spent a fair amount of time in Regina, usually in four or five day stretches for farm shows and conferences. I first suspected I was pregnant with Chou while at one of those shows; is it strange that it already feels a bit like home?

Go west, young woman. Go west.

And so we shall.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Two jades, an ivy, an aloe and a gerbera daisy

Plants fascinate me. When I started university, I waltzed in there with my rampant love of animals and thought for certain I'd make livestock my business. But within one term I realized there was this secret life of green things that had me wowed at every turn. I'm not much of a green thumb, mind you. Sure, I like a good garden and I wield a mean hoe, but my gardens are always haphazard and more a xerioscape than a planned, planted, weeded thing.

Houseplants are another matter, however. Me and house plants are buds (pardon the pun). I'll take a half dead, fungus infested Christmas cactus and have the thing blooming in May in no time. I had an ivy that grew a half inch a weekend, much to the wonder and amazement of my coworkers (who now, coincidentally, all have spawns of said ivy. There's even a spawn of one of those spawns spawning in my bedroom as we speak).

When we moved out here, it was late October. Chou was only half baked in my oven, and, well, I was already rather maternal about all things living. I even let a tiny pepper seed sprout and bear fruit (vegetable?) in my kitchen window. So when it came time to pack up my aloe (a gift), my two jades (grown from tiny, dropped and seemingly discarded leaves), and the hardy ivy, I was more than a little dismayed to learn the poor things would be sitting on a cold, dark truck for more than 10 days.

They arrived, a little worse for wear, but they all made it. The jade still bears pocked leaves from the cold and the aloe only this summer really started to grow again, but there they are, thriving in my north facing window, the picture of health and photosynthesis.

We got word Friday that we're moving. This is a great thing - it's a great opportunity for Mr. Wumpus and frankly, we've got itchy feet in this family and are ready for a new adventure. But before I can even begin to come to terms with leaving my lovely Ottawa folks, I look at my perfect jades, the aloe, my ivy and a sweet new gerbera, and I'm bowled over to know I can't take them with me. This move is a fast one; we leave in about a month and will likely stay in temporary housing for a solid three months, all our possessions in hiding for that time. The plants, while hardy, just wouldn't make it. And so, they will stay behind. As gifts to my lovely Ottawa folks, as safekeepers of them should we return, and as adoption wardens for all the little ivy spawns already growing in that little pot.

One thing at a time, I tell myself. One thing at a time.

Editor's note: Yes, this is big news, and not all of you will have been told. I can only tell you this right now - we're headed west. Back to the prairies. And we couldn't be happier (except for the part where we're sad to leave. Ottawa has become home far more quickly than we thought). Details to follow. In the meantime, anyone want a new houseplant?

When we first arrived. Aloe and Jade 1. Poor buggers were half dead and our now twice this size.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Edge

Today is a big day. While I shall remain cryptic for my own reasons, we get some news today that could throw a real big wrench into the Life of Wumpus. It's good, it'll be good, we'll make it work no matter what, but it's still a big day.

I'm nervous. I'm excited. I'm pissed off at how little my paycheque is in relation to my part-time daycare bill. Wait, that was random. Whatever, today is my first pay day since going back to (staying at?) work and I new I'd be underwhelmed with the part-time paycheque, but it really was a downer this morning.

On the plus side, this time change thing means I get to sip my coffee while watching the sun come up. Early morning sun is my favorite.

I'm disappointed in my running this week, but this time I'm disappointed because it would seem my midwife's and my schedules have been conspiring against us. I missed my hills workout and now I'm unsure whether I should swap hills for a 10 km or do the 10 km and skip the hills. Suggestions? I was supposed to do both. Then 12 km on Sunday, which I will do.

Does anyone else think this blog doesn't make sense or have a point? Welcome to what my brain has been like for the past week. You try working in all this mess. It's not happening.

And did I mention that in the midst of all this whateveritis, Chou has been sleeping like a champ. We even had one night with ONE wake up. ONE. Total. She went to bed at 8, work at 230, ate, and went back to bed until 730 am. Holy crap. Normally, I'd be celebrating and throwing a party, instead, I've hardly noticed, I've just been thankful for the extra rest. But then she's also started making 7:30 her regular waking time...which is tough when we need to be out of the house by 7:50.

I think I hear her now....

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Back it up

I've come into a few tidbits of wisdom in the past few days and I thought I'd share them here to, you know, pay it forward.

1. Don't buy the $99 printer from costco. It seems like a good idea. Until you bring it home, it works like shit and then your computer starts this incessant loop trying to boot up.

2. Back up your files. Oh, wait. I owe anyone who owns a PC a big ole apology here. Me with my holier than thou attitude has always looked down my nose at those PC users without an external hard drive. Yesterday I found myself sifting through my own back up files, realizing I hadn't backed up Chou's pictures since November. Shit.

3. Disk utilities are there for a reason. Use them. Oh, and Costco's return policy? Golden.

4. Chiropractors are not for a once or twice a year fix. Go often. Say, not every 3 months.

5. An easy 3-miler is a much better idea than 5 hill sprints the day after you get adjusted at the chiro. Followed by a day's rest.

6. And finally, after you've been binge eating for a week, are bloated and bitchy, check the calendar before assuming this is just the way your life is going to be from now on. Stupid hormones.

P.S. On a much cuter note, Chou is officially, without stopping walking. Last night she walked from her bedroom, to the living room, turned around, walked back. Sat down, got up, walked to the bathroom, to our room, turned around and back, squatted to pick up her sweater, stood back up and away she went...without hanging on to anything. It was like something went *click* and off she went. Video to follow.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wish list

I would like (in this order):

A personal chef
A personal shopper
A housekeeper

More storage
Less stuff

More phone calls
Fewer e-mails

Warmer temps
Less salt

Just one stupid story to go as planned

Monday, March 9, 2009

On being kicked in the ass

I feel, quite literally, like someone with a large boot has kicked me squarely in the tush. Yesterday's 8 mile run was gorgeous. The midwife and I ran a scenic route taking in the farm in the middle of the city (yes, there is one), the Rideau Canal and a lake. Only a tiny part of the loop was ugly, and we made decent time. We finished in 1 hr 26 minutes, or on pace for a 2:15 half mary. We're training for a 2 to 2:15, so this run felt good.

Until this morning.

My lack of training showed up in yesterday's run. The last mile felt like an eternity and I don't think I uttered one word besides "Un-huh" for a solid 10 minutes. This morning I woke to find my left calf and hamstring so very sore. My right glute feels almost OK if only because the left feels so horrible.

And then I went to drop off my taxes this morning. For the most part it's pretty straight forward, until she asks me for health expenses. A whole whack more stuff is eligible than I thought and we'd qualify for a deduction IF I HAD BLOODY WELL KEPT ALL OUR PAPERWORK. I'm such an idiot. Here's me thinking I'm super organized. Well, apparently I'm too organized, in that I've already recycled all sorts of receipts I should have kept.

I'm such a fool.

To make matters even peachier, tomorrow we run hills. Ouch. But in a perverse way, I'm looking forward to the change in tempo of our training. Five hills, 45 to 60 second surges. I'll let you know how I hold up.

Friday, March 6, 2009

On the move

The Chou is walking. She can cover three to four feet of space. She easily crosses spaces two feet across, toddling over with her still-shaky legs and her little hands frozen in mid-air, reaching for the next support. She's depending on the support less and less, and last night she up and just decided to cross the living room. And off she went, looking much steadier than even a week ago. She's even stood up from a crouch in the middle of the room.

I watch in awe.

A year ago she was still breathing through a placenta.

Wonders never cease.

Check out the top chompers. She's been working so hard on those, and two more are on their way. Poor kid.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

WW Week Fourteen Report

Weigh-in: Down 1.2 lb.
Total loss to date: 13.2 lb.

Weird. I'm looking at my weight loss progress log in my WW book and I've had way worse weeks in terms of weight loss than these past few, and yet I feel like I'm plateauing now, not then.

I feel like I need something shorter term to get me motivated. I thought about 130 by 30 (a mere 7 weeks away) but realized that would be something stupid like two pounds a week each week from here on out and that's just not going to happen while I'm nursing. And that's OK. I think 130s by 30 is a far more attainable goal. Yet even that doesn't feel motivating enough.

The half marathon is motivation, don't get me wrong. This week marks 12 weeks until the race and while I'm definitely faster and leaner than the same point last time around, my endurance is better but not great and I'm skipping out on too many runs. Add to this that I'm not really cross training and I start to feel like I'm setting myself up for the same dismal last two miles of hell where I realize just how stupid it is to skip out on training runs.

Then I got this bright idea - break down the next 12 weeks into three sets of four and have a different goal for each. My first idea was to commit the next four weeks to a) running each and every training run AND b) committing to a 30 day Shred with Jillian M. from the biggest loser. Except that doing both might be pushing it and I keep trying to buy Shred online and it doesn't work, then I go to buy it at Chapters and it's not there. Sigh, does Jillian hate me that much? I thought she wanted me to succeed.

Or maybe I'm like Jen P: I can only do one thing really good at a time. Except that right now I'm not sure what that one thing is.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Twelve pounds in and I think I've officially hit a plateau both mentally and physically.

Oh, right. WW Report weeks...nine through, um, thirteen? Wow. It's been a while. To get you up to speed, my weigh in last week wasn't as painful as I thought it would be. I was down 1.6 lb, which puts me at an even 12 pounds over 12 weeks. Not bad, seeing as the three weeks prior to this weigh in I hardly ran, didn't track what I ate and didn't try all that hard to stop myself from indulging.

I kept telling myself that I'd recommit to this last 10 to 15 pounds when I got home. And now I've been home a week, ran a 3-miler that should have been six, done zero cross training and while I am tracking what I'm eating I'm averaging three or more sweet treats a day. The scale is holding steady every morning, when it used to budge just a little every few mornings.

Perhaps more difficult than policing my intake is where I'm at mentally. I've been downplaying just how much my glute and hip have been bothering me. I went for a massage yesterday and feel 90% better, but I know that I need to stretch, strengthen and stretch some more to keep injuries at bay and it's not happening. I'm also happy with how I look - I've never wanted to be a skinny mini. I'd love to tone up (and will) but I'm a comfortable size 8 (and look mighty good in those size 8s I might add) and don't know if I need to strive for size 6 (for the record, I actually am a 6 in some pants in some stores, but vanity sizing is a bitch, you know?). In short, it's starting to get difficult to up my fitness level and, well, I'm lazy.

Then, on top of all the image stuff, there's this return to work and daycare and a whole other drama unfolding in our lives right now that I can't yet speak of, but will in the next few weeks. My first day back at work rocked and I'm really looking forward to this level of work (three days a week) and the projects in front of me. Chou is taking to daycare like a duck to water. This morning, I plunked her down to take off her coat and by the time I put down her backpack and turned around she was gone down the hall to the playroom. Not even a wave! The nerve of some babies. So while it's going well, I still feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop and the frantic call from the caregiver that my baby needs me...that will likely never come. And I should be thankful for that. But mommy jealousy knows no bounds.

And did I mention Mr. Wumpus is being a Mr. Grumpus? Our first few days home were lovely, but he's at the tail end of an intense work period and it's getting the better of his down time. I told him this morning to find me a cheery husband while he's out and about today and send him home to me instead. I was only half joking and he knows it.

It's now 8:30. Duty calls. Phooey.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I start my first day back at work in three minutes. Just enough time to emo-barf all over my blog.

Chou is off to her first day of daycare. Yesterday was integration day, today she's on her own. Did I mention yesterday went fantastic? I stayed with her for the first while, then left to run some errands and when I returned she hardly noticed my arrival and hadn't noticed my departure.

Today will be a bit different. She was a bit clingy when I dropped her off, but didn't cry (that I know of). She's also been up since 6, so is likely tired and I wonder how she'll nap in a new place with a virtual stranger tucking her in. At least she's got new toys and two lovely boys to try and kiss.

But for me, I came home to an empty house, an empty high chair and empty crib. I still have my ear trained for her little noises as if she's simply napping in the next room. My chest is a little heavy with the worry that she needs me and I'm not there. I miss her already and it's been exactly 34 minutes since I saw her last.

Tell me this gets easier.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Toe puller

I learned something about myself while buying my latest favorite thing:

Ah, sweet Saucony.

What I learned - I'm a toe puller. It means that when I place my foot while running, I over flex my foot and pull my big toe up towards my shin. Which means I end up with numb big toes on long runs. Thank you, Running Room guy! I was nervous about buying shoes that had any sort of seam over the big toe because of said numb toe problem, but have since put 15 miles on these bad boys with nary a sore toe in sight, simply by thinking about keeping my foot relaxed as I run. And the cushion, oh the cushion! It's like running on pillows (My mizunos were flat like flip flops by the time I finally retired them two weeks ago). Makes me almost look forward to today's 6 miles in the -17 sunshine.

I said almost.