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 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


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.


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.

Friday, September 11, 2009

That good stink

There are several smells in this world that, to me, are pure bliss - even though to someone else they may be down right icky. Horses, manure and all, can never repel me. Your newborn's vernix and birth juice covered head is NOT icky, contrary to what all those hospital folk trying to rub off all the good stuff try and tell you. Being sweaty with soil under your finger nails and smelling of outside never fails to bring me back to being a kid at the farm.

On today's lunch time run, I drew in a good breath about 25 minutes in and realized I could smell a decidedly pleasant aroma and, lo and behold, it was coming from me. Well, my running tank to be exact. Now, I'm not talking about Swass, because that is always gross, and I don't mean this smell comes off any of my running shirts either. It must be the lack of armpits on this thing, but today my tank smelled of outside, sunshine, sweat and whatever polymer its made of that, combined, smelled like heaven.

I'm pretty sure this isn't what they mean by runner's high, but I'll take what I can get.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A little heartbreak

Mr. Wumpus is out of town for a few weeks. Chou and I have 15 nights on our own before we see him again (three down, 12 to go). For the most part, Chou is oblivious - she plays at daycare all day and runs around the yard like a crazy person in the evenings. If she notices Daddy isn't around, she's not saying.

Except at night time. Daddy is the designated bather in our house. He's also story-reader and final lights out Night Night, Seepy Seepy (sic) guy.

Last night, after an evening out learning about all the amazing cloth diapering options and picking up some sweet deals, I nursed her and when she signed All done! I reached for her books. She promptly sat straight up, pointed at the door and exclaimed, Daddy!

When he didn't appear, as he always does, she turned and looked at me - wondering where exactly the story-reader had gone.

My heart broke, my eyes filled up and I told her we'd see daddy soon. Then I started the Going to Bed Book and she settled in for stories.

I know she's too young to understand he's coming back, but she's certainly old enough to know he's not there, and that bothers me. I know it's only temporary, but she doesn't and my heart hurts for her, just a little.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

There ought to be "running doulas"

The most effortless runs I've done have been with a buddy. Come to think of it, and this is strange, so have some of my toughest runs, in the physical sense. But by far the most psychologically tough (totally a term I can use) workouts have been on my own.

Today, as I did a quick 4 miler over lunch, I passed the woman we bought our house from going the other way. We smiled and waved and carried on. A big part of me wanted to zip around and run with her and chat.

It got me thinking about how quickly 10 or even 20 minutes can pass when someone is telling you a good story or pouring their heart out or complaining about their spouse. Suddenly, you look up and three miles have dropped behind you.

I realized that this is part of what having a doula in labour is like - it's companionship, someone to help, support or distract based on whatever it is you need. I need one of those for running, at least part of the time. Sure, I have an iPod or talk to myself to pass the time, but it's not the same. Just someone else being there makes every mile easier, though maybe not faster.

Running is a solo sport, sure. And don't get me wrong, I value that alone time, the quiet, the simplicity of one foot in front of the other. But my happiest runs are tandem runs. Even when they go far longer than planned, even when they're cold and slushy or windy while I'm pushing a stroller, even when the conversation is infrequent the same holds true: It's just nice to run with someone. I miss my "someones".

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

You should see the other kid

That, my friends is what happens when your "I can do everything, Mummy" 17-month old steps off her stool and smacks her face on the kitchen counter. This picture doesn't fully capture the purple, yellow, puffy grossness that is her right eye. The most amazing part? She screamed for a bit and then got over it, and now, just a few days later, it's a bit yellow but mostly healed. The kid's eye was so swollen we tried to ice it (with Saskatoon berries in a ziploc) but all she wanted to do was eat them. Toddlers' resiliency and healing powers truly stun me.

The gray hairs I got watching that eye swell are not so lucky.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thanks, Ina May

As part of the process in getting my doula certification, I have to read five books (from a list of oh, 30) and sign a paper saying I've done so. An avid (rabid?) reader, I'd already read a few of them and managed at least two more in preparation for my workshop. I'm on to the final "required" read and still have several on request at the library. Like I said, rabid reader over here.

I'm in the middle of Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth, a fantastic read, especially for women who have never given birth. The book begins with pages and pages of positive birth stories - real life, some complicated, some too good to sound true, some gritty but all real and positive. No horror stories here. It's refreshing and invigorating to read and we all need to hear more of the good stuff, because most of the time, that's what happens.

But I'm off track. This was supposed to be a training report. Right.

What I found most fascinating in Ina May's book is not that there is a big-time commune holed up in Tennessee pushing out amazing birth outcomes (a less than 2% c-section rate is unheard of ANYWHERE), it's that she documents the power of the mind in labour. She can attest first, ahem, hand, at women actually regressing in dilation when they felt threatened (by a rough internal exam at hospital) or when they had something mentally holding them back. She talks about how simply saying a positive mantra (whether you first mean it or not) can have an amazing impact on how your body reacts and works in labour.

Which got me thinking about training. My 9 mile run last week was a piss off and a disappointment and had me seriously considering dropping the Flatlanders half. But upon reading this book, and reading how real women were able to zip through labours by chanting "I can too open to 10 cm" or actually close down 2 cm because of fear, I knew that I too could do 10 GOOD miles if I told myself I could.

I started out taking my own, Jen P's and P Bear's advice and didn't drink or eat crap for the days leading up to my run. I stayed hydrated and, most importantly, mentally prepared for a good 10 miles. I mapped a much more enjoyable route, had a decent sleep and got out the door only an hour later than I had hoped (and still in the morning).

At mile 6, I did actually say out loud, I can too run 10 miles. At mile 7.5, I was tired and my legs were tired, but I felt heaps better than the same point last week. I took at gel at 54 minutes and then at 1 hr 22 min. That was a good idea. By 1 hr 35 minutes I was tired, my knees hurt and I was slowing down, but I was also very close to home. I decided that I wasn't going to stop at my designated end point (that would have been just shy of 10 miles), instead I was going to run to 1 hr 50 min and just see where that got me. I ended up adding way more than I thought I could and felt positively GOOD at 1 hr 45 min. I turned the last stretch of road for home (an incline!) and stopped the watch at 1 hr 49 min 41 seconds...and ended up with 10.28 miles in the can. Uh yeah, that's over 20 seconds faster per mile than last week, 1.3 miles further and I felt 100% better. The knees were a bit sore, my hams and quads very tired yesterday, so I've got work to do over the next three weeks, but kids, I TOO CAN RUN 13.1 MILES.

Thanks, Ina May.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Get this woman a cape

Some days it all comes together.

I've had two consecutive days of amazacrazy get 'er done sort of rock 'n rolling that makes me think everything and anything is possible.

For instance, today I have homemade bread cooling on the counter, diapers sun-bleaching on the rack, a slumbering toddler (daycare is closed this week), I just got some great feedback on an article and I've lined up my first guest blogging appearance (details on that later). Add to that that I've made a great contact in town who I think will become a friend and also a great resource for my freelance work, and badabing! this week kicks.

My hills workout on Wednesday was nothing to write home about, but I did it, in the heat, when I didn't want to. Today I'll do an easy 5 or 6 mile trot about town and start counting down the short month I have left until the half. I've cleaned up my diet, tossed out the liquor (figuratively) and upped my fish oil and B vitamins.

Now, if I could just cure cancer and fix my cowlicks the world we be a perfect utopia.