Monday, August 31, 2009

A word of advice

I learned some valuable lessons during yesterday's nine mile run.

Don't spend the entire previous evening drinking three (four?) glasses of rose wine and stuffing yourself full of lasagna and Reese Peanut Butter Cup ice cream.

Also, drink more water. The day before and the day of. Maybe don't have cherry pie after lunch, and within an hour of your run.

Don't blow off the morning run time slot because of a very awake baby at 6 am, only to run in the afternoon when it's hot out.

After all of the above, don't do an out and back. By minute 50, I knew it was going to be a tough run. I got stopped twice for directions, had two side stitches and my legs felt like lead the entire run. It never got better. My gel didn't seem to do anything and I walked more times than I care to admit in the last 30 minutes. My iPod died around the time I thought things were getting better. Oh, yeah, did I swear.

Add to that, that I had planned 10 and not nine miles and well, it was a very disappointing day. But I got home and re-evaluated. I think I know what went wrong and I have a plan to remedy the situation this week. Sunday's 10 miler is going to be better. It just has to be. On the plus side, I did manage over 16 miles of running last week (that's good) and this morning I feel good and the legs don't feel like I did nine miles (that's also good).

This week, I've got hills to do, a tempo run or two, plus the 10 miler. I'll sneak in some Shred and Yoga and it'll be a good week.

Or so I keep telling myself.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Vibe received

We have our first playdate lined up for Sunday. And no, it's not with any of the people I've been trying to stalk. In fact, I haven't seen any of them since I wrote about putting out the vibe. Perhaps they read my blog?


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The easy decision is not making one, but that only works for so long

Raising babies is tough work, y'all.

(I've been watching a lot of True Blood. I find myself talking like Britney Spears's redneck sister-cousin more and more these days. Don't judge me. The show is fangtastic.)

The "being mummy" thing has come easily in so many ways and then not so much in others. The work/life/mummy balance thing is always a struggle. I'll admit there are days I don't much care for being a mother, days I wonder if I'm really cut out for this and then others (and they outnumber the bad) that I'm on top of the world, am pretty sure I have it ALL figured out and believe I could handle a house full of the little suckers and each and everyone of them would turn out to be productive members of society.

When I get my head out of La-la Land I'm faced with the reality that, frankly, we're not about to have a house-full...but are we going to have more? Another one? Chou Two? Sea Monkey, the Sequel?

It's a bigger deal this time around, I think, and Mr. Wumpus agrees.

The first time out of the gate, it's all love and round bellies and the promise of cherub cheeks and baby shower gifts. The second time it's about facing going on the peanuts that is mat leave again, staying home with OHMYGOD two babies and staying sane, about my own personal and professional goals, about howdoweaffordtwoballetclassespluschildcare and

Yes, the mind wobbles.

But then, there's me and Chou in the back yard playing on the Weee (the slide), and she looks at me and calls me boring with her eyes and I think, Dear lord, child you need a brother or a sister.

Except that it also means that I'd have another daughter or a son. And the enormity that is that responsibility surrounds me and consumes me and I think, "I don't know".

Here's how it plays out. A) I can't imagine my life without my siblings. Being an only child seems like a sad and lonely childhood and, yes, even adulthood. So Chou should have one. B) I loved my pregnancy and would do it again in a heartbeat some days, also: B i) I want to experience a natural birth...and while there are no guarantees that my next birth will be anything different from my first, I do really want to know what it's like to just go into labour, to feel my contractions build and change, to soak in a labour tub and, yes, even experience crowning. I'm not a masochist, I don't want to go through pain, I want to fully experience a natural labour. There's a difference.

(As an aside, I consider Chou's birth a positive birth experience, but not necessarily the most satisfying. There's a large part of me that feels like I missed out on something huge and I want to be a part of that, especially considering that I'm working on becoming a doula and possibly a midwife. Sure, it's not necessary, it's just a feeling.)

Balanced against points A, B, and B-i, are a few things, most of which are selfish, but let's all be honest here - we're all a little selfish. First, Mr. Wumpus and I have two incomes for the first time in a long, long time. There are things we'd like to get ahead on, things we'd like to buy, projects we'd like to do, trips we'd like to take. Mat leave means no money, but it's not just the year of leave, it's the fall out do you afford all these things with FOUR plane tickets to pay for and on a reduced income (because let's face it, going back to work full time with two kids? not going to happen).

But more than the income question is the timing question. I have things I want to pursue. Classes I want to take. New career options I want to explore. Having another child means putting all that off (and for how long?). I'm not the most patient person, and I even start to imagine going back to school with a 4 and 2 year old and I cringe.

Which brings us back to do we or don't we? And then when?

Because when I write it all out like this, the part of me that recognizes this isn't a logic-only question, knows that we don't know what forever brings. A few years in a lifetime is really nothing. And having a new life and a new soul as part of our family is a lifetime of joy.

Now if only you could use joy to pay your mortgage.

All Caddywumpus comments generator: How did you decide to have more kids and when to stop? How do you know when your family is complete? How do you balance life/love/work/family/goals?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Putting out the vibe

I've decided to start stalking a few people in town.

Whoa, before you get the wrong idea, let me explain.

I need to find a) friends b) playdate friends for Chou and c) running buddies.

In the nearly three months we've been here we've had exactly ONE neighbor visit. Sure, a few people have stopped to chat but only once have we had anyone over for an evening visit. Chou and I have been to exactly zero playdates and all of my runs (save the one with a visiting Jen P) have been solo.

In a word, it sucks.

Sure, it's summer. Most people are on holidays, have cabins (our next door neighbors are NEVER home) or have their own social circles that must be very complete. But after this long, I've decided it's time to take matters in my own hands.

Most notably, I've started taking a very specific loop when I go for walks. I just so happen to know that there's a new mum with a one month and 2 year old a few blocks away and another mum with a nearly 2 year old a few streets over. One of the streets is a dead end, so it is a bit strange to take that road, but if they're bright they'll realize I'm trying to "bump" into them. Sneaky, hey?

As for running buddies, I'm doing something I never have....going to the Running Room for one of their free Sunday morning runs. My timing is bit poor, as the half marathon clinic is three weeks ahead of my training and they'll be doing 13 miles this week when I can only do 10. Nonetheless, the woman I spoke with encouraged me to come and said that she'd announce that I was doing 10 and see if anyone wanted to join me. Failing that, I'll just turn for home a little sooner. I don't know the routes that well, but I think I can find my way home...I'll leave a gel trail or something.

And then there's the doula group. Thankfully, there are several mums with young kids in the group and I've invited myself over this weekend to chat and let the kids play.

I'm putting out the vibe people! Pick it up!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hans and Franz

If yesterday's run is any indication, my training regime is in need of a serious shake up. That said, one bad run does not a ruined program make, right? I'm not sure.

My biggest issue is this nagging piriformis pain that isn't necessarily getting worse, but it sure as heck isn't getting any better. As I read up on the "syndrome" I get more and more defeatist - I qualify for ALL of the causes, biomechanical and so-called training errors. I just don't see how I get around them and still train.

I'm not running in pain, I learned my lesson on that one, but I'm not 100% either. I'm doing massage, though not as regularly as I could be, stretching and trying to work in appropriate rest days. I've branched off to include more yoga and weights and more movement outside the back and forth of the running plane, and yet, it's not enough.

I think it's time to step up the weights and specifically strengthen the glutes, hips and interior/exterior thigh muscles (plus core work, of course). And by step it up, I mean lifting. Real lifting. Not just some hand weights and squats.

Anyone have any advice on getting pumped up? Where are Hans and Franz when you need them?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Just like a white winged dove

Oh, yes. Seventeen.

Seventeen months of Chou.

I could go on here about how many words she has (too many to count), how she's stringing together her first sentences, how she's learning new signs, words and French words, how many teeth she has ( of the four first molars has yet to break through), and the amazing physical prowess she exhibits on a regular basis (she has mastered the new play structure, pushing herself on ride-on toys and will move a chair from across the room to use as a ladder), but all this pales in comparison to the development of her afro.

I give you, the Fro Glow:

I had a very similar white afro as a babe, and have a strikingly similar photo of myself, the sun streaming behind me, however, I'm quite certain I was closer to 2.5 not 1.5 years old. This kid is advanced. Well, at least her hair is.

Other styles she can now sport:

The high pony

The low pony

Both of which she tries to pull out, saying "Help!" Help is probably my favorite new word of hers. She says it while doing things she shouldn't be doing and it's difficult not to help...she sounds so sweet when she says it. As in "Help me get the cap off this beer bottle" or "help me climb on the counter and reach the knives." You know, that old chestnut.

The introduction of potty training is going better than we had hoped, and it's brought with it a new awareness of body parts. We always tried to let Chou have some sans diaper time even with disposables to get some much-needed oxygen to her lady parts, but she spends a good part of every afternoon or evening sans diaper now and sits on the potty pretty regular. This, of course, draws new attention to her bits, which she proudly calls her vagina. Yes, she won't say "please" she'll only sign it, but she's more than happy to use a three syllable word for her bits. Too cute.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Growing up

My sister and her brood of three spent a few days at Casa Wumpus this week. Her oldest is 11 - ELEVEN! - then eight and five. It makes for a very entertaining and boisterous house full of laughter. Especially when the eight year old boy loves potty humour and the kids are learning the joy of funny words.

So yesterday evening it was no surprise that as we picked the lovely red crab apples in our yard, my nephew starts calling them CRAPapples, and we all end up doubled over laughing.

Ah, to be eight again.

The tree is covered in tart, red apples. Crapapples, that is. It's a favorite of the local deer and raccoons as evidenced by the ample, um, scat, littered under the tree. The husband did pooper scooper duty for us. I don't think he wants a dog anymore.

Not the most happy bunch of cousins...wrangling four kids at the end of a long day and getting them to smile is apparently really hard work.

The bounty! Soon to be made into jelly. Mmmm, crapapple jelly.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A place to hang my hat

The doula workshop was beyond amazing, but not in the way I expected.

The course was informative and helpful, but much of it was review for me being an avid reader and general knowledge sponge.

What blew me away was the discussions, the eclectic mix of 12 women who gathered - some single, some married, some straight, some gay, some with several children to those of us with one to women who have yet, and may never, birth babies of their own. They were not all granola eating, pot smokin' hippies. The women at this table were educated, well-spoken and all so very passionate about helping and supporting women in their birth choices.

The energy in the room, to say the least, was overwhelming in the loveliest sense.

A few of the mums brought their infants and we all marveled at the amazing quality having a 10 month old in the room brings. We shared our own birth stories - the good, the great and the so very sad - we talked of births we'd seen or attended. There were no (or very few) judgments, varied points of view and an amazing sense of welcoming.

All this sharing and learning was set to the backdrop of all the work to be done. No, not just in becoming and working as a doula, but in reforming and advancing the philosophy of birth here in Saskatchewan. The province is slow to change (though change IS happening), and each of us (as women) play a role in the rate at which change happens.

Sitting in that room, I finally felt like I belonged somewhere. This province has already welcomed my farmer soul and showed it all the possibilities, and now the birth community has opened its arms and pulled me close.

There is so much to do.

Where do I begin?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

8 miles of thoughts

I tried something new on today's 8 mile long, slow distance run: no iPod for the first while. I guess it's not entirely new, but it's been a really long time since I've run sans music. I went the first 50 minutes just listening to my footfalls and chatting with myself - both internally and externally. I only passed two other runners, so it's not like the town thinks I talk to myself all the time. I hope.

In truth, I probably could have kept the thing off the entire run. It was refreshing to process out loud, to remind myself to relax my shoulders and toes and to kick up my heels. Most importantly, I stopped thinking about running, minutes per mile and distance, and just enjoyed the cool, windy, rainy weather and the stream of consciousness that flowed.

It was lovely.

What's more, it kept the run EASY, which is what a long, slow distance run should be; it's about making the distance, not about doing the distance as fast as you can. That's what race day is for. I was more disciplined with my walk breaks as well. No, I still don't do true 10 and 1s (10 minutes is just not long enough...11 to 13 is better for me), but after last week's 7.3 miles where I felt a little beaten by mile 6, I thought I should give the Running Room's tried and true strategy a chance. I mean, 1 million John Stanton lovers can't be wrong...right?

I wanted to finish strong (my goal for the Flatlanders isn't about speed, it's about keeping it together and feeling like I was prepared for the distance), not just finish and so I walked at minutes 10:30, 22, 35, 49 and 1:02. At an hour I hit the 6 mile mark and realized that holy crap, taking it easy and taking walk breaks was turning out a faster run than last week's push. I thought I must have miscalculated as I wolfed down a disgusting Orange Vanilla carb boom with caffeine. Fake orange is just nasty folks, as is fake cherry. Bleck.

But back to my run. The gel kicked in about 1:10 and I ran out of route before I ran out of energy. Sure, I could've kept going what with all that sugar pumping through my legs, but my knees were a tad sore and my hammy a bit tight. Total time? 1:21:50 for 8.09 miles...10:06/mile.

Holy shit, kids.

No, that's not "fast" by most standards but it's a full 10 seconds/mile faster than last week and I felt BETTER at the end.

And just what did I think/talk about on my sans music run? Work, money, running (I couldn't help it), my form, Weight Watchers, Chou, the husband, making another baby (not sex, you numbskulls, the idea of a second one, the timing, the's a tough one to make, one we're not ready to make, if you must know). I enjoyed the scenery, remembered my breathing (thanks, yoga!) and just stayed in a happy place.


This week's plan? An easy week of recovery after three weeks of building. I'm still going to run hills, but toss out the long run this week. I'll focus on yoga and Shred and long walks in the evening. And then? Then comes two weeks of 10 milers.

Hang on to your hats!

Friday, August 14, 2009


It's no secret I have several varied interests. I've honestly and seriously considered close to 25 different career paths - some of which I've even pursued in one way or another. I find it funny that I sort of fell into the job I have now. It wasn't ever planned or sought after. It just happened and that's good. But the danger of my job is that I talk to so many talented, passionate people and I end up putting down the phone and thinking "I want to be a plant breeder/trait specialist/pulse marketer/dairy farmer." It never fails. Lucky for my husband and child, I'm busy enough that most of these whims don't go much farther than a daydream about running my own 37,000-acre farm (and yes, it exists. I talked to them yesterday).

Where was I going with this?

Oh, yeah. My latest tangent.

Well, "latest" might not be accurate. There's something about having had a midwife for a mother that leaves certain things ingrained in your skull. Like growing up in a bilingual household, there are ideas, thoughts, knowledge and philosophies imprinted in my brain that come to mind, unbidden and at strange times and I have no idea how they got there.

My interest in pregnancy, birth, genetics and biology in general is long standing, of course. Standing by and welcoming the births of nieces and nephews and friends' babies - even attending a birth - always brought with it an extra joy and interest from me. I don't ohh and awe over round bellies and cherub faces because they're cute - I marvel at the biology of it all and the innate ability each woman has to grow, birth and feed her baby. It's truly miraculous and also so simple we humans have done our best to over-complicate it all. Stupid humans.

But I digress.

Then came Chou's pregnancy - an amazing 41.5 weeks of wonder, awe and interest. Being attended by a fabulous midwife and having a great birth experience didn't damper my interest and quest for more information. I read book after book, had endless discussions with others on their pregnancies and births and more than once probably droned on and on about my own ideas, philosophies and opinions (sorry to all those that had to sit on the other end of the phone or Internet connection and listen to all that. It's just what I do).

It's no surprise then that I've oft thought about becoming a midwife. In truth, my first choice was to be a midwife to mares - the people aspect seemed too much responsibility and schooling. But my thinking on that has evolved. I still want mares and foals, but the people aspect seems less daunting. That said, midwifery isn't an option right now, even if I were truly ready to change careers, as it's not something you can do a) in Saskatchewan and b) with a 16 month old at home.

And so the brass ring becomes all at once very attainable and very attractive. A few weeks ago I phoned the only midwife in Regina to have a discussion on where midwifery was in the province etc. (you know, should we decide to do this all again, I'd want a midwife and in Winnipeg I waited until I was 11 weeks to call and was told there was no one to take me on. That's another ball of wax entirely). After a good chat she mentioned a doula course she was teaching. A two day workshop that was the leaping off point to becoming certified. Would I be interested?

Holy crap, yes, I said. Well, sort of.

And so without thinking it through really I signed up for the two day workshop, requested a new slew of books on birth and pregnancy from the library and dove in to what to me feels like my other language. And it just feels right.

I'll let you know how it goes.

To clarify: I haven't decided if I even want to be a doula yet, and I'm certainly not about to quit my job to do so. It would be something I'd do also, as well, in addition to. If nothing else, I think this workshop will introduce me to like-minded women (and oh how I miss women these days!) who might become friends and if we do decide to have ChouTwo I'll be that much more prepared and have met the midwife. See? Good things all around.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Happy runaversary to me!

It's a week early, but my gift from myself to myself came in the mail yesterday. I heart you MEC and online shopping!

Presenting my very first running tank:

Hi, collarbone! It's so nice to see you. You were gone for years.

Next week marks three years - three! - of this lazy, desk-bound woman running. Three years ago it took me nearly an hour to shuffle/hobble through three miles. Saturday I knocked out 7.3 in 1 hour, 15 minutes and 33 seconds and it felt GOOD. Oh how far I've come!

Speaking of, those new shorts and top? They're a MEDIUM. A medium. In running shorts and a tank. That my friends, is more than a little unbelievable to me. While I'll have to still wear a bra for long runs, the built in in this tank is suprisingly snug and will work for 5 k, hills or track workouts on its own. Wow. When I started running I tipped the scales somewhere in the 180s. Today, the scale is in its happy place in the mid-140s. I wear a medium in most things, down from L and XL. I can fit most 8s and some 6s when once you had to put a one in front of both those numbers to squeeze me in.

But so much more has changed than the numbers. My head space is better because of running. My body is stronger, as is my focus and resolve. I feel more capable, better equipped to handle stress. I know I can do things, because it's just one foot in front of the other and all the negative self talk will only bring you down and defeat you. Sure, that sounds like bullshit but get out and tell yourself you CAN run and you will (I still fight this talk every single run). Finishing a half marathon isn't what I'm most proud of - it's doing the training that leads up to it and then finishing. It is a culmination of balancing schedules, finding energy and motivation and sticking with something. And it feels so good.

Sure, I have miles to go - figuratively and literally. My next race is a ways off and I've got a whole lotta endurance I need to build up to make Oct 3rd fun and not just hard. I'd like to shave off 10 more pounds and build more strength and flexibility. I'd also like to relay more of my running lessons into my everyday life: setting goals, achieving them, setting more, all with a positive attitude.

It's just one foot in front of the other, people. Say it with me now!

All Caddywumpus comment generator: What personal accomplishment are you most proud of? What goal do you have for the next six months? September is just around the corner and to me, September is the New Year, not January. Let's make some resolutions (and no, I am not high...except on - wait for it - life)!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The joy of the podcast

With just under eight weeks of training until the Flatlanders Half, I've taken a good long look at my workouts and tried to put them in some semblance of order. I want to fill in some of the gaps and not just run, run, run. I need more balance to my workout mix, improve flexibility and to build better overall fitness.

Enter cross-training. Something I love and also don't in that it meant climbing up on a bike - something I haven't done in a verra, verra long time. The good news? It wasn't so bad and I think I could even learn to like it. The bad news is that I do not in any way fit my husband's bike and my arse and lady bits were numb after just 30 minutes. My dad has a hybrid just waiting for me in's just getting out there to fetch it that's the problem.

I've already being doing Shred off and on (and I'm getting GOOD at it! Woot woot!) but I still felt like something was missing. Of course, it's yoga. I need the all over warm, sweaty, stetchy goodness for my muscles and joints, but I need it for the headspace work just as much. The local yoga instructor is on holidays and the Tuesday class taught by my massage therapist never seems to work (Tuesdays are very busy in my life for some odd reason). For weeks now I've been trying to find a solution.

Then iTunes saved my life. Well, not really, but I did find several FREE (gasp!) 20, 30, 60 and 90 minute yoga podcasts. I downloaded one and yes, had I not done yoga previously it would have been so hard and I'd have been lost, however given my background I muddled through the first class OK. I then had to look up a few poses to remind myself what they looked like and now SHAZAAM a few days in and I'm getting it. Thank you, Steve Jobs.

I have two more ingredients to add to the training mix: hill workouts and Weight Watchers. This week, they both start Wednesday. Wish me luck.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Switched at birth

If she didn't bear a striking resemblance to me and if I hadn't seen her physically come out of my vagina I would wonder sometimes if Chou Chou is even my daughter.

Case in point: She likes to clean. A lot. Scrubbing, wiping, sweeping, you name it, she loves it.

Point two: She doesn't like messy clothes or schmutz on her hands, belly or arms. She points and says "Yucky" and then wants a cloth to wipe her hands.

Of course, she does shriek at the top of her lungs constantly, loves animals so much she hurts them with her squeezes and requires constant entertaining.

So maybe she is mine, after all.

Chou Chou sporting her Monkey Face

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Berry picking long weekend

The last time I went berry picking Chou Chou was just a tiny, multi-celled organism. This time around, she carried her own pail and ate her weight in Saskatoons. Here's a tip: 16-month old children do not make good berry pickers. I've been told that I was three and still ate more than I picked. I guess we've got a ways to go.

Behold! The cuteness:
We bought a pool, but the bucket is still the favorite water hole. Strange.

Saying "Cheese!" for the first time (to me). I've never thought to ask her to say it...until now. I tried it out and she stood up and said it. Clearly, someone else has been teaching her this. Whoops.

Pensive Chou

Baby in a pea field!

She actually asked for this hat to wear, then proceeded to take it on and off and run around with it on for a solid 20 minutes. She's climbing on the table here - she'd stand on it if we'd let her.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The difference a day makes

My half marathon goes October 3rd. For all you quick as a whip types out there, that's a Saturday. I've never done a Saturday race...ever...not that I've done more than a handful of races but they've all been on Sunday. Thus, my training schedule always had my long run on Sunday.

Without realizing it, I planned this week a little differently. After a two-week, mostly unplanned, workout vacation, I got back at it this week. I made no big promises to myself, only tried to get in three runs, three Shreds and a bike ride. I even - wait for it - did double workouts on two different days. I've never done that before. Seriously. What's wrong with me? In a good way, of course. Most importantly, I moved my third run to Saturday and made it longer...only a mile longer than the other two, but still, longer.

And now it's Sunday and I am LOVING that I'm done the long run for the week. Instead of waking up thinking I've got a hard day ahead, I'm laid back and actually looking forward to a bike workout and Shred, feeling like it's a bonus workout.

Ah, the head game that is training.

Did I mention I don't know if I like to bike? I'll let you know.