Thursday, December 30, 2010

So THAT'S what I'm doing wrong

I read this today.
The long and the short of it is this: there's actually a reasonable strategy to maintaining a healthy weight. As I read over the list, I was all "Duh! This is such common sense!" Which, of course, it is. But how is it then that I, Miss Super Duper Smart(ass?), managed to balloon back up to my pre-pregnancy weight? Sigh, yes, well. I suppose it IS time to pay attention to this fabulous little list. Here's a rundown of where I've gone wrong and what I'm going to do about it.
1. Eat breakfast
This one is no worries. I do this - 1/2 cup of rolled oats, boiled in water, with cinnamon and raisins. That's it. Every. Single. Morning. Because I'm mostly a pony. Yes, I am. I think what I need to do is add some fruit and maybe protein.
2. Banish bad foods from home.
I do OK on this, but can always do better. Duly noted, Common Sense List.
3. Be consistent.
I guess binge/stress eating consistently doesn't count? Dammit.
4. Plan activity.
Eating, I've discovered, does not count as "activity". I can do 60 mins of activity a day. I know I can. I just have to plan for it.
5. Tune out.
Well, I sit at a computer all day. Not much I can do about that. But I CAN keep it and the TV off past 7 pm and on weekends.
6. Weigh in.
My home scale has collected roughly .5 lb of dust, I'm sure. Next week, Wednesday, I'm re-joining WW. That's right. I said it. I shall weigh in there.
7. Record it.
See end of point 6.
8. Share it.
Hey! You're here! And based on TWO whole comments from last post, I think this means I have someone to share with. Hello, sharing buddies! Thanks for stopping by.

And so, here we go.
My goal is 15 lb by March 23. That's just a hair over 1 lb a week - a safe, healthy and attainable level of weight loss. It's not my goal weight, but the article also says to set specific, shorter-term goals vs. large, lofty ones. Ta da!

Now, your turn!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I have adoring fans, apparently

I got a super awesome message on my FB page. I'm paraphrasing, but it went something like this:
"Ms. Wumpus, you are my world and I love you and I miss you and your brilliant blog writing. Please write more. Love, your biggest fan."

So I'm paraphrasing A LOT, but Smithers of See Teacher Run does have a point — I haven't blogged in two months. TWO months.

What? How did that happen.

Let me tell you.

In the last two months, I've been eating (a lot), sleeping, working (sort of), heading out on location for work, drinking (a lot), attending a birth (forceps delivery - some very scary moments but I think I'm finally confident in my abilities as a doula), eating some more and drinking some more.

Also, I tried working out exactly four times in these last two months. My last attempt was a run. I was actually enjoying the first three minutes until I realized that horrid wheezy sound was coming from me and I needed a walk break. The too-tight running bra might have been my first clue, but whatever. Nonetheless, I soldiered on, running and walking. Until minute 17 when whatever the hell happened to my hip in late August, happened again, only much much worse. I hobbled home and tried not to cry. Then I ate some more.

I'm not going to wallow in self pity (I'm wallowing in emotional eating just fine thank you), but here's what I've learned in the last two months: I can't work at home anymore and I think my family is allergic to Saskatchewan.

WTF, you say? Well, yes, it's true. As much as a great big huge part of me (not my ass, but that would have been funny, you clever reader) is madly in love with this Prairie Province and could see myself setting up a tidy little goat/sheep farm and toiling the rest of my days without a hill in sight, it's not going to work. Not for my family, not for my long-term mental health and not for my fitness. I need people around me. I need friends who want to work out with me and have silly weight loss contests (but in person...all I've done for the weight loss contest with Jen is GAIN 10 lb, and I'm not making that up). I need MY people. And I haven't found many here. Not enough, anyway.

What do we do about that? Well, nothing yet. It could be many moons before anything really changes, but I think, in the long-ish term, we have to pack up and move...somewhere.

And I have to stop eating incessantly. Can someone sew my mouth shut? Thanks.

Oh, and merry Christmas and happy new year and all that jazz.

I need more coffee. With booze in it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

If I start singing Miley Cyrus's "The Climb" just shoot me

Slowly, slowly I have been mulling around this blog post in my head. How much do I say? What do I share or not? I'm not a courageous blogger and I'm certainly not a very timely one. There has been turmoil, angst, worry, fear, anger, confusion, pain, stress and more going on in my house and in my life and, at times, I thought about sharing some of that here. It just didn't seem appropriate.

And now, now that things are 95% sorted out (who am I kidding? I'm making it up as I go. We all are. OH YES WE ARE), I think it's time to return, to put fingers to keyboard and get back to life (ohhh, that's the song I should be singing).

In short, I've been on a bit of a journey, and not a terribly fun one, but ultimately, I'm on the other side, I think, and have spent the last few days getting back to me, back to health and wellness and back into the swing of things.

First up, of course, is a new race. But no, not a foot race, because I tend to sign up then not do them. Instead, my good buddy and now world-famous blogger, Jen P and I are having a (totally safe and smart) weight loss race.

So far, my scale's battery is dying and therefore I can lose anywhere from three to six pounds in seconds (advantage me) but Jen is breastfeeding and running, and although she thinks that's not a good thing, I know it is (advantage her).

I planned to join WW again tonight, but a freak snow/ice storm that ripped through yesterday has made the streets lethal to walk on. In fairness, I started food journaling a few days ago and have done something active every single day (even running! and yoga!). I've managed to stay within my points each day - no small feat - and god help me but I think I'm actually enjoying salad again. The race is on!

Just in time for Halloween?!

Shit.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Individual

(yes, I'm still here)

I read something yesterday. Something about setting your own goals and measuring your own success and not comparing yourself to friends or trying to achieve their goals, but to set and achieve your own.

It really struck home, especially after so much of what I've been doing for the past, oh, six months (or more?) has just not been working in so many ways. Maybe part of it is because I've been muddling along, not really asking what I want but more going with what others are doing, and floating along on their ideas. What happened to me? I have no clue. She's around somewhere.

It's high time to find out what I want, what I'm capable of and what is my own measure of success - in all things.

More later.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Redemption

My first "official" doula experience wasn't a great one. I didn't really go into it at the time, but I left that birth feeling useless, sad and truly questioning whether I had helped them at all by being there.

It's no wonder — the poor woman had every intervention except forceps and a c-section and there were several times during the birth where I ignored my gut instinct and allowed the situation to unravel unimpeded by me. Sure, there are always things we'd change in hindsight and who knows if anything I would have done would have changed anything, but ultimately I didn't think I helped. At all.

It was nice then, a few weeks back when I posted some article (on FB) about doula's attending births that my doula client commented that she believed she would have ended up with a c-section had I not been there.

That's something isn't it? Yes, well.

Then last month I attended the polar opposite birth. I went with my instincts, did what I thought I should and rarely questioned what I should do. The birth wasn't just totally different — my experience was, too. I walked away light as a feather, feeling fulfilled and useful and inspired.

I spoke with my midwife about this just last week. She was a doula first as well and had an even worse first doula experience, one where she cried for days after (same sort of story only it was a forceps delivery). Still, she went on to become a midwife. She was also honest in saying that, even now, there are times when women end up with c-sections or forceps that she feels she failed in some way and wished she could go back and do things differently.

This week I got an email from my January doula client. She wanted to know if I had any births lined up for April...because if I didn't she wanted to ask if I'd be there to help them welcome baby number two, who, very surprisingly, was on the way.

After my initial surprise and laugh, I couldn't help but feel somewhat vindicated, that I had helped enough, I guess, that she wanted me there again. But more than that, I feel like this time, this time I can follow my instincts and well and truly be there for them. I know I can't control how a birth happens, but I feel so much more confident now in at least being as helpful as I can when it does.

(Also, it bodes well, I think, that in just over a year into my two-year certification journey that I have a repeat client. Don't you?)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More precious than gold

I keep meaning to blog about my latest doula effort, but at my follow up meeting with the new little family they passed me a letter of reference that, really, says more about the experience than I ever could. Yes, they paid me cash, but I feel so much richer in so many other ways because of attending this beautiful birth. This was a hypnobirth, a fast birth, a stunningly beautiful, healthy, normal birth. Their words:

(edited for names, etc.)

A short time before the arrival of our second child, we decided we wanted a doula. Time was short (three weeks until the due date), and we quickly interviewed a few ladies whose names were given to us. Ms. Caddywumpus (ok, guys, they didn't really write that, I changed it) was one of these.

We connected with her almost instantly and knew that she would be a great fit for us. We had no hesitation asking her to join us on this journey. It felt really good to have an extra support alongside us. This was our second baby and we wanted to do everything within our power to make this experience a more positive one. We felt like having a doula with us empowered us even further to be prepared for what was to come.

Now that we've had our daughter, we can say for sure that it was definitely worth it to have her there. It was helpful and affirming and positive in every way.

Ms. Wumpus brought a great mix of professional and personal touch to her support of us. She has an energetic and calming presence, is knowleable and willing to address any and all issues that arise, and was available at a moment's notice. We felt quite comfortable discussing anything with her. She possesses every quality needed to thrive as a doula and we would recommend her to anyone without hesitation.

Thank you so much for your part in welcoming our daughter. It was our pleasure to have you alongside us for this memorable and special experience.

***

It makes me teary to read it again.
Namaste, y'all.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Falling back in love

It's no secret that I hibernated this winter. The return to the pavement, free weights and generally not eating/drinking myself to near bursting every night has been slow, annoying and rather painful (only in the pycho sense, not physically, although six months sans yoga is starting to show).

On Saturday I did something that I've often scoffed at - a cleanse. Let me state, for the record, that I don't believe in crash diets, juice diets, magical "cleansing" of our bodies. Our bodies cleanse our systems every single day and I really don't believe for a moment that drinking nothing but lemon juice and cayenne pepper is going to magically rid you of gall stones.

All that said, I have employed the services of a holistic nutritionist, one that is educated, level headed and rational. And, yes, she recommended a liver cleanse and I'm doing it. WTF, you may say. But this cleanse is really nothing more than more conscious eating with a few added vitamins and herbs on the side. THAT I can wrap my head around.

What this cleanse means is a few things. No booze at all, no red meat, minimal caffeine (but not none!) lots and lots of bright, colourful veggies and fruit, whole grains, lots of water, more fibre and 30 minutes minimum of exercise a day (see? I told you it's totally rational). But it also means no eating past supper, as I have to take my vitamins on an empty stomach at least three hours after eating but before bed (oh, tricky!) and it means actually thinking about what I'm putting in to my body.

And after three days, I've fallen in love with delicious food again. My typical pitfalls have always been: lack of exercise and too many carbs (which means too few veggies). Nothing major, but taking this leap of faith and swallowing some milk thistle has put me back in touch with the lovely things that grow just up the road at the market garden.

Case in point, today I made the most stunning salad. Three kinds of lettuce plus new spinach, pumpkin seeds, avocado, fresh raspberries, cooked, cool quinoa and a mustard/maple dressing I made up yesterday.

Holy doodle, I'm in love.

This new love, of course, only marginally makes up for the seven mile run yesterday that should have been nine or the two pound weight GAIN this week. But, whatever. It's the small things everyday that matter more, right? Right?

***
As an aside, Ms. Jen P is doing what I wish I could and packing up her family to move to the farm. I'm proud of her, jealous of her, but mostly, I'm sad she's moving an entire province farther away. Good thing my in-laws live 10 minutes up the road, Jen, or I'd be pissed at you.

Go on over to her blog and wish her a fond farewell and happy move, won't you?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Plugged ear of exertion

If Steve in a Speedo can have a vein of approval, then I can have a plugged ear of exertion.
I've noticed, from time to time, that my left ear gets plugged/poppy and annoying when I'm working out particularly hard. Usually that means during track workouts or a tempo run (yes, I've actually been doing both), and sometimes it happens just during a regular old run. It's how I know I'm actually getting the blood pumping. It's how I know I'm nearly spent. It's usually accompanied by me talking myself into just finishing another few minutes because at this point I want to quit.

Today (and this is me climbing back on the wagon) I ran 8 miles. Sure, I should probably have done this weeks ago, seeing as my half marathon is a measly 8 weeks away, but whatever. Life has no rewind button, so it's onward and upward from here, OK?

It wasn't a hard run, really. I wanted to average 10:15 to 10:30 minute miles and by mile 3 had to tell myself to slow it down (I ended up averaging 10:14 and felt strong until the last .5 miles. go me!).

A few things I thought about during this run:
- 8 miles used to seem forever. Now I loop around until I get it done and it's no biggie. Maybe this is a sign that my fitness is slowly improving again.
- iPods really do read minds (this isn't news, but I did think about it)
- Black cats in tall grass look a lot like skunks
- That realization can make you run REALLY fast up an embankment
- Shade and flat ground makes the first 4 miles much easier
- Finding saskatoons on a run is always a bonus. At mile 7.5 out of 8 they're a bloody godsend


And finally
- I didn't get the plugged ear of exertion until 7.6 miles in to my run.

Woot woot!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Toy butter, dragons and Afghan food

Things I never thought I'd say but have now, in all seriousness, simply because I am so blessed to be a mother:

"Butter is not a toy."

"No, we don't put dragons in our vagina."
"Or our bums."

"We don't touch poop. We stomp on it."

"Don't drink from the dog's dish." SIGH. "Whatever. Go ahead."

Everything is now "special" in order to appeal to Chou. "Here's your special dinner!" "Mummy bought you special panties!" "Here's your special chair!" Why is everything an exclamation! Because it's special!

I am so tired of special.

Oh, and the Afghan food? I'd never had any until tonight. It's amazing. As is the tea. It's too bad the country is essential a crater that people fight over or I'd want to go visit.

Next blog: How I managed to climb back on the wagon. To which I am clinging to for dear life, but still, I'm on there.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Role model

In an effort to keep upbeat and positive here's a list of things I'm loving these days:

Chou loves to "go running." She dons my hat and headband and takes off.

She's taken to hanging off every bar at the park trying to do chin ups (she's more successful at it than I am).

Chou says, "Let's stretch" and "I'm stretching, mama!" And then promptly does the splits.

Her favorite things to do are walk, run, jump like a kangaroo, climb the climbing wall at the park then run some more. She's also taken to tree climbing and managing to make it to the top of our porch railing. For those who know, it's darn high and she sits right on top all on her own giving me a heart attack.

Chou planted carrots, beets and peas at random in my flower bed and they're growing better than the ones I planted oh so carefully in pots.

She asks for sushi, quinoa, chickpeas, carrots (pronounced cah-rutz, emphasis on first syllable) and asparagus for dinner. I love that she knows what these things are at two.

I've managed to find a running buddy — sort of. More specifically, I'm encouraging a new mum to run and she's happy I want to run with her. It also means I've taken Chou running twice this week. It's been so long since that's happened. Today she even fell asleep in the stroller. It's been oh so long since that happened. It's been lovely.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Let's pretend this is two years ago

I was a very new runner when I got preggers - less than a year in to the sport. I had finished just one 10 km race and was planning for another. I ran my second just days before finding out I had had a running partner along without knowing it. I continued running until well into my pregnancy (more appropriately, I shuffled along in running gear), and thought that once the wee one arrived I'd wake early, kiss the little angel and head out the door for my 6 miles before breakfast. Because, well, that's just what mum's did, right?

Of course, when Chou arrived she informed me that she was a morning baby. In summer, that was up before six; in winter, shortly after. She also informed me that upon waking she expected to be nursed. Every time.

In short, I never did become a morning runner. The year on mat leave I often ran mid-morning or late afternoon with Chou tucked in the stroller. Often I'd duck out the door while dinner simmered on the stove. Sundays were for long runs around 9 am.

Then, two weeks ago, Chou weaned. It's been two weeks of horrid night time routines (or lack thereof) trying to find some way to get her to bed without it ending in tears or us staying with her for hours at a time. But there's an upside — I'm no longer "on call" between the hours of 5:30 and 7 am. Sure, the husband has to get up and get ready for work, but he can do that while Chou is up and about.

So I got to thinking that maybe it's not too late to become one of those morning runners.

Tomorrow, we find out.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

What it's like to be punched in the boobs

As Jen P will often remind me, our kids are smarter than us.

This time last week, I made the decision to begin weaning Chou off her bedtime numnums. She had skipped it on her own now and again, or hubby had put her down for nightnight without me around and she did just fine. With a two night trip away looming on the horizon, I thought that going from twice a day (early morning and night) to once a day before being gone for two days would help.

Then, Tuesday morning, the day before I was set to leave. Chou didn't nurse. Holy doodle. It's like she had ESP or something.

I headed out Wednesday, feeling a bit top heavy but comforted thinking that my baby was weaning all on her own. She had no idea how good her timing was.

Of course, then I spent two days in pain. Not wretched, horrid pain but enough engorgement to have me buttoning my sweet polka dot blazer very carefully. I was shocked (and still am) as to how much milk I'm still making even when I was down to once/twice a day feedings.

Then I get home Friday night. And if I thought the Dolly Parton boobs that felt like they had been mammogramed a little too hard were bad, it was nothing compared to my sweet baby decided that being weaned meant she should stay up an hour later every night. Um, yes. My perfect, put-herself-to-bed sleeper has become a "Come snuggie, Dada!" "Mama, stay!" baby.

Never before have we stayed with her to sleep, not ever! This is new...and getting old quickly. I'm trying to be very understanding, and am quite glad that I can go in and comfort her and she not expect numnums. But evening is "us" time, and 1.5 hours of night time routine is just plain silly. This will pass, I know.

But you walk around with two huge bruises on your chest and we'll see how sweet and snuggly you are.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

I Love Regina race report. Sort of.

What do you call a race report when you don't technically race but you did really give 'er and treated it like a real race? Um, right. You know what you call it? You call it 4 degrees out, a stupid online registration that doesn't work because you live out of town (lame!) and a Goddam Garmin.

Here's what happened:

I had full intentions of heading into the city for the 9 am race. I tried to register online and found out I couldn't because I'm not a city resident. I would have had to show up on a Sunday morning BEFORE 8 am just to register, then hang out for an hour. Not the end of the world, except that it was four degrees out and I was going alone. What in the hell would I do?

But then I got ticked at myself for nearly baling on yet another race.

And I have a handy new tool, the Goddam Garmin. Why can't I just do an accurate 10 km (6.21 miles) and treat it like a real race?

Yes, well.

That's what I did.

And guess what?

59:44. My last personal record? 1 hour 4 minutes and change. Heck yes.

Splits (I love that I can do this):
Mile 1 - 9:27
Mile 2 - 9:39
Mile 3 - 9:53 (minutes 25-35 are always my toughest)
Mile 4 - 9:58 (See?)
Mile 5 - 9:32 (I started feeling fantastic)
Mile 6 - 9:26 (See? FASTEST MILE!)
Last .21 in 1:50 (but it ended rough. I was dragging my feet. 6 miles is definitely where my endurance level is right now. Time to get building! Bring on the hills and track workouts. Did I just say that? Yes I did.)

A few notes - I drank no water or ate any gels. No worries, given how cool it was outside, but I need a new water bottle because had it been any warmer I would have been hurting. Also, as a congratulations to myself I bought this:


My girls need a house!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fat, but fast

Yesterday's weight: not much less than three weeks ago.

But.

Yesterday's run: 4.02 miles in 39:13

For all you math averse people, that's 4 miles with an average of 9:45 min/mile. And thanks to the Goddam Garmin, I know that my first mile was my slowest and my fourth was my fastest. Well, well, well, look who's loving technology? And who's actually getting faster.

The only downside is this run was in preparation for the 10 km on Sunday. My last 10 km time was 1:04 and change, my best is somewhere around the 57/58 minute mark that I hit during the half last fall, but that's not official. This time I was hoping to get under 59:59...after yesterday's run, I know it's possible, but those 4 miles HURT, people. As in, owie. No, not injury hurt, just really hard work hurt.

Tomorrow I'm doing an easy 3 miles and taking Saturday off. My first race report (in oh so long) of 2010 to come Sunday!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Splits

I still consider myself a "new" runner, a novice, a beginner. It's something that, until recently, has held me back. A email conversation changed that. So did technology.

For my birthday and mum's day, Mr. Wumpus bought me a Garmin 405. It's got a heart rate monitor, programmed workouts, a virtual training buddy, oh and of course, it's GPS equipped. I'm also certain it will beam me up if I press the correct portion of the bezel. I haven't yet figured that part out.

My first run was an epic failure. I had turned the training buddy feature on when really I just wanted to see time, pace and distance. Two miles of fiddling with the thing and I was ready to throw it in the bushes. I took a week off and considered returning it (also, the thing costs a fortune). Then I decided to give it one more shot.

I managed to figure out how to work the damn thing properly and then went out and had an epic, epic four mile run. Not epic in that it was all that fast, but because a) I'm doing a 10 km in three weeks and didn't know if I had six miles in me, now I know and b) because I fell in love with my Garmin - it beeps for every mile and tells you your pace! How exciting is that? So exciting and c) (here's the big part) I actually treated this run like a workout not just something to slog through and check off my to do list.

And why does that matter? Because of the said email conversation. The Power of Smithers gave me some very sage advice: Treat training like training. Make every workout a workout.

Sounds simple, sure, but until now, I've given myself every excuse to just phone it in, do the required distance and call it done. When the training plan says "tempo" I run it the same as "easy." About the only things I ever change pace for are track workouts and hill repeats, of which I did very few last time around.

This time, for this training round, I'm going to train. I'm going to stop telling myself I'm a beginner and a novice and start treating workouts like workouts.

Oh, and the post title? I had often wondered how the pros (Steve, Sara) could list their mile split times. I mean, the best I could do was estimate and then come up with my average pace. Then I got the Goddam Garmin. Um, right.

Technology is a beautiful thing.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sweet and bitter

I celebrated a milestone yesterday. For all of you who want to know, I'm now 28 again. And then a few more times. Whatever. I'm not one who really cares about age. I don't feel "old" no matter what the driver's license says and I've heard that your 30s are just like your 20s only you have money, don't have any exams and your skin is saggier. True story. Where was I going with this? Oh, right. Good and bad, bitter and sweet, yin and yang, all that jazz.

Good things:
I received a Garmin 405 for my birthday. Wow.
I ran today and officially kicked off my 2010 training season. (maybe I did that already? Nope. Restart. Today is the kick off.)
I'm feeling positive and productive and I've cut back my caffeine intake and haven't killed anyone. But I work from home, alone. So take it for what it is.

Bad things:
I stepped on the scale yesterday. Ouch.
I ran today without really figuring out how to use my Garmin. There are very few things in this world more annoying than technology screwing with your day. My run, therefore, was a little pathetic and I was frustrated and irritated by my new toy. Bad toy!
Did I mention I stepped on the scale? Yes, well. Ouch.

But on to bigger and better things.

I've got a few hundred posts rattling around in my head, but the general theme is this: I've got some time goals, some fitness/weight/shape goals and a new virtual training buddy. All of this is good. Stay tuned for the details. Until then, just know that I will spend tonight learning to use the goddam Garmin and will head out tomorrow for more miles and less frustration.

Oh yes I will.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The other side of the mountain

As alluded to in other posts, there's been much behind the scenes stuff going on Chez Wumpus.

But my friends I'm pleased to say that at some point this week, we reached the peak, took in the view and started the easy slide down the backside of this hill.

Call it getting over a slump, a reorganizing, a spring clean for the May queen, a re-commitment, whatever, but I think it's all going to be all right.

And now it's time to get running.

Did I mention I'd signed up for a fall half marathon? The Queen City half, September 12, 2010.

Here we go again!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ebb and flow

I'm sometimes amazed by how distance doesn't seem to interfere with wavelengths. Until I speak with her, I suppose I'm assuming some things here, but Jen P offered up a lovely post today that mirrors my feelings too. No, I'm not a mummy of two, but the idea that our identities and priorities shift so dramatically in motherhood is something I've been mulling over only too often these days.

Her other point — the blogging, or lack thereof — is one I'm struggling with too. There are so very many posts that rattle around in this headspace of mine, and yet, if you take a look you'll notice a severe lack of recent entries. Of late, most not-quite-posts have been serious and life-altering, but the blog isn't always the best (or safest) place to work it out. For me, marooned here away from friends and family, running as therapy has started again. I just hope it works.

Today marks one year since packing up and leaving our fair capitol city and hunkering down in the wilds of Saskatchewan. While this prairie town has been both welcoming and not, and even as I struggle to build a support network and find my kindred spirits, I still, perhaps unbelievably, feel that I am home.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Feeding the soul

I've been looking for new dishes. I use the term new loosely; there are too many good old dishes out there to warrant me buying really new dishes. I told my (one) friend in town what I was looking for. I wanted fun, sturdy but cheap dinnerware. She delivered in spades. Did I mention she owns an antique shop? Total score for this lover of used things. Behold, for the whopping price tag of $15 I got a nearly complete set of Ironstone dinnerware. The pattern is Rushstone. Is $15 a good deal? Well, on eBay just the cream and sugar set goes for $30. Oh, yes. Deliciously retro, used, cheap AND a steal of a deal. I love these plates.

Mine are a bit more faded than this, and I'm in need of one dinner plate and a few other small pieces. If your grandma has some in the old cupboard, do give me a call.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Perfect




Today's wordless Wednesday brought to you by Frizz Ease and www.nikolepetersphotography.com.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Two

Chou Chou and I have been adventuring. An early spring (that could still return to being winter) has meant many hours outside, discovering new lands, sloshing through puddles, collecting treasure and building intricate drainage channels in the driveway. The new lands are the neighbour's and the treasure not much more than pine cones and sticks, but each day with Chou reminds me of the wonder that is childhood and the reason I wanted a kid in the first place.

Being two (as of tomorrow) means Chou is keen on imaginative play, is developing more memory and will repeat every single thing I say, including all the bad words. Nothing has prompted me to clean up my language faster than a toddler following me around squawking like a parrot. We travel the high seas in laundry baskets, use the same for turtle shells as we become very slow moving beasts. We wonder and delight in finding yesterday evening's puddles and rivers have become frozen ponds this morning. She giggles and slips as she tries to crack them. "It's slippery, mummy!" I can't help but crush a few puddles myself.

The past six weeks has been tough. Chou is turning into the most amazing young girl and I'm missing a lot of her days. Work will slow down soon enough, but in the meantime I miss the hours we're not spending together. I recognize that there are many hours in a day she'd rather not be entertained by her mother, but that doesn't mean I don't want to be doing the entertaining. This life/work balance thing is not easy. No way.

But on a positive note, while I haven't been keeping up with Chou's monthly newsletter, I can at least do an annual update, right?

Ahem.

In honour of her turning the big oh-two, here's a rundown of what she's up to.

Chou loves to draw, write her name, draw faces and trace her hand. The name is illegible, the face indistinguishable from the rest of the scribbles, but she proudly points and tells me what it is. She recognizes her own name when spelled as well as Pico's, Mummy and Daddy. She loves purple, and can name pink, purple, green, blue, orange, yellow and black. Red is still a mystery to her.

Singing and dancing are still favorites, the songs now more complex. Today, she sat on the landing with her new baby (a gift from her daycare lady) and its baby seat and toy and sang about the sun (there was a sun on the toy). While this new baby has kept her entertained for sometime this weekend, the draw is always to get outside - "Shiny coat, mummy, shiny coat" she says, asking to put it on. "Gum boots!" she yells. (We weren't sure what to teach Chou - rubber boots is Manitoban, gum boots is from B.C and wellies are English. I said gum boots once and it stuck. So be it.)

My defiant wee girl has also mastered the very forceful "go!" when she's making potty (suddenly she's shy?) or doing something she shouldn't be. She's mastered the screaming tantrum but thankfully, doesn't use it much. She's keen on her new seat (the toilet insert so she can go pee on the big potty) and doesn't think she needs her little potty anymore.

While I don't want to jinx it, we're going on day 2 with no sucky. We had planned to make a big deal out of getting rid of sucky, and get her a new tricycle or something equally huge to trade for sucky, but a day or two ago, sucky went missing but she never went looking for him. Nor did I tell her I found him. She hasn't asked for him once since (even through the night). We'll just pretend he's not around anymore, yes? Yes.

Chou is a walker/runner, which makes me so happy. Our morning walks to daycare take a lot longer now that she insists that she walk the entire way. We usually end up compromising and I plop her back in the stroller along the one busy street, but mostly, it's "I walk, mummy" and that's the end of it. She gets going down hill and yells, "I running! I running!"

I'm thrilled that my girl asks for sushi by name and even helps me make it. She's a keen baker (mostly to lick the spoon) and announces "I help!" whenever I start to prepare any meals. She likes to "cut" veggies (mostly mangling them with a dull veggie peeler) and season the veggies. I'm glad that she can identify a lentil from a chickpea on the floor and that she looks forward to taking out the compost after dinner every night. (We'll get back to the nutrition at daycare discussion another day.)

Sometimes I think that maybe I'm not teaching Chou enough – that I keep too many things "grown up" and don't include her enough in what I do. I've decided to remedy that and last week we planted peas for some windowsill science. I told her all about soil and seeding tips. Then today, we cleaned up the herb garden (ok, it's a planter on the deck, whatever) and I described the different plants and the difference between annuals and perennials. This is important stuff, guys.

Ah, two. So far, there's not much terrible about it.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Oats

Casa Wumpus is a house of routine. Maybe too much routine, but that's another discussion. Every morning, Chou rolls out of bed (either at 5 am or at 6:30 am, but never in between the two), we snuggle on the couch while daddy makes coffee, watch "The Monkey Show" (Curious George, for those in the know) and then I make us all oats.

Plain old rolled oats, with cinnamon and raisins - no sugar - and maybe a splash of milk to cool them down. Sometimes we have eggs too. But every day, we have oats. We're like ponies that way.

Why is this important? Because starting our day with rolled oats is good for us. Sure, yes, we like them too, but starting with oats is just that - a start. It's taken years, but we've worked hard to clean up our diets, eat well, nourish our bodies and eliminate certain foods entirely. Like what? Oh, super uber refined stuff, processed junk and sugary gross stuff - you know - hot dogs, KD, ketchup, canned pasta and sauce, those things. All the pasta (little that there is) in our house is whole wheat, we eat things like quinoa, hummus and several types of squash on a regular basis. And we love it. We love it all. Chou loves it.

We have ketchup in the house, sure, but buy the smallest bottle and it lasts us a year. I've even got a box of KD in the cupboard, but it's left over from last June when I bought it specifically for guests. The only pop in our house is tonic water to go with gin (see? I'm not saying we're perfect. I'm just trying to give you a sense of what is and is not in our cupboards).

Why does all of this matter?

Because I found out last week that the following are regulars on Chou's daycare menu: alphaghetti, white flour-based, full sugar, full fat muffins, cheese slice grilled cheese and ketchup. In fact, two nights ago I put ketchup on Chou's plate for the first time in months and she exclaimed, "Cup cup!" I was a little shocked, and a lot saddened.

Saddened because this was an oversight on my part. Chou's daycare is so amazing in so many ways that I didn't think to scrutinize the menu. In fairness, snack time always features fresh fruit prominently, but my daycare provider's kids are in their teens now. Times have changed, the focus on food and nourishment is different now. Add to that that we're in Saskatchewan (where lasagna is considered ethnic food) and well, I guess it's not surprising that whole wheat and real food isn't the norm.

I feel terrible. I feel like I can't speak up for fear of making Chou's daycare provider feel like I'm judging her. As the husband puts it, it's two snacks and lunch - she still gets her oats and healthy dinners at home and the weekend.

But we've worked so hard to eat well, and now, now I feel like it's all for nothing because for the majority of her lunches in a week she's eating absolute trash.

And I don't know what to do.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Say what is, not what isn't

I could bemoan the fact that I only yesterday really got a feel for my new runners, even though I bought them in November. I could winge and whine about how my lungs didn't much care for the biting air on yesterday's run (Chou passed along her kennel cough to me. How sweet!) I could complain and get down on myself for only starting running now, six days before my hypo half that I won't be running.

Or I could just be happy that I've started running again.

Yes, let's go with that.

In other news, head on over to Decaf Please and congratulate Jen P on the swift and punctual arrival of her sweet baby girl. P.S. I was so right on the gender AND the date of birth. Just had to throw that out there.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Today's hat

There are few duties as important or unpleasant as caring for a sick baby. I'm lucky to have had - thus far - one very hardy critter of a child. Chou Chou rarely catches anything and when she does she's over it in no time. I suppose at some point I just expected to have the Child Who is Never Ill.

But then I started my new job this week. I'm a bit stressed (judging by the amount of carbs I've eaten in the past two days, I'm a LOT stressed), distracted and not sleeping well. It's all part of the changeover and, eventually, I'm going to enjoy this job a whole lot more than my last role.

Of course, that's all assuming that whatever Chou has come down with goes away. Friday she spiked a fever, it went away and she was fine for two days, except for a little rash on her trunk that's been there for awhile and looks like noxema (but the skin condition I can't spell) so I don't think much of it. Then Tuesday morning she woke up sick, then was better but still no appetite. Then yesterday wasn't really eating but no fever and just the trots (sorry, I hope you weren't eating breakfast). Then last night, while I'm home on my own, she was up at midnight sick, slept on and off all night and then was up at 530 wanting to snoozle on the couch. She's not getting sick, but she won't eat and now has a fever. And the rash looks worse.

So this morning, on day 3 of my new job, when I have three interviews to do and no husband to help, we're heading to the doctor (a big deal for us). Because today I'm mummy, caring for a sick baby and that's always job number 1.

Wish us luck.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Huckala

I believe that's how Chou says "Here you go". Which is sort of funny, because she can say far more complex words and sentences, but somehow here you go is huckala. That's OK. It's funny. And we all know everyone loves funny.

The blog, like running, has become a looming task that I avoid. I want to do both, but both have tumbled down the priority list in the face of life and work. So much is going well - Chou is growing and developing at an alarming rate, letting us all know just what age she's turning without having to look at a calendar. Work is also going well. I've been given a major vote of confidence from boss and have been handed a magazine that goes to 60,000 people. OH THE POWER. Well, not really, but I have been far more interested and inspired about work since taking on the role.

Home life isn't going as well. I'm struggling to get enough activity in a day and the husband is doing a fantastic job revamping his intake to drop the belly fat. It's a great thing, but it's left him more than a little crabby, and me not running has left me short tempered and emotional. It's not a good mix. We're still working at trying to build a social network. It's tough out here. There's nothing really wrong with our day to day, there's just not much to look forward to beyond work, cooking and cleaning. Not fun.

I don't write here often, but I read all the blogs I follow. I'm inspired by what I see. I hope it's enough to get me out there again.

So, huckala. There you go.

Monday, January 25, 2010

It's just my style

I've got five weeks before the hypo half. Guess who hasn't gone running in months? Yes, months. I'm a lazy arse with a million different excuses, I know. So instead of making promises I don't intend to keep or trying to pump myself up, I'm just going to accept that each year I sign up for an early half only to not run it, then PR the next one a few months later. OK? So deal, I just donated my entry fee to the cause (the Running Room is a cause? Sure.) I'm totally picking up my race kit though. Can you say black shiny fanny pack? HOT!

In other news, the job interview on Friday went well. Maybe too well. As in, I think I might get the job and then what? I'm going to have to work my ass off. But heck, I asked for more, and I'm (maybe) getting more. I have no one to blame but me.

Oh, but the big shake up? Still in the works. Just in an edited form.

Also, two days of being snowed in apparently makes me a very hyper, happy person. Weird.

Monday, January 18, 2010

First birth

I've attended a birth before, but never as an official doula, with training, for someone who is essentially a stranger and all the while trying to balance busy work, life and toddler rearing.

Lucky for me, my client's baby decided to be very good and arrive a day early, on the weekend, days before life was about to get so complicated that I wouldn't have been able to be there for them for three days straight.

The birth was both amazing and difficult. The nurses were mostly wonderful and only one or two truly awful (why do some people go into labour and delivery when they really have no interest or knack for it? I mean, really.) I feel very lucky to have been their doula and got more than a little weepy when the wee man finally made his appearance. It's funny, that really without even knowing a baby or his family doesn't really change how emotional you feel about meeting a new person. I don't know how L&D nurses and docs stay dry-eyed all day. Maybe they don't.

I learned a few things, made a few mistakes and did a few things very right.

But the biggest lesson I learned was that being a doula in anything other than a very temporary capacity right now is not going to work. That makes me sad. But one of the least favorite things about me is my over-promise and under-deliver tendency when it comes to people. As someone's doula, the golden rule is that you get to and stay with a labouring woman from the time she needs you until she delivers. With full time work that, at times, requires me to leave town, a hubby who is supportive but also travels often and a toddler that needs watching (and no family or close friends to help) and well, there just isn't enough flexibility in my life to account for attending labours.

Sad? Yes. But there will come a time that I will be able to do this, and this first birth showed me that yes I can do it and would want to do it in the right situation.

For now, though, we wait.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Photos

I'm into weekly deadlines, monthly for another two magazines, have a doula client due any day now and I've signed up for a boot camp class. Translation? Most of my blogging is going to be posting photos for the next bit. Sorry, y'all.

An excellent example of Chou's style.

Pico is waiting patiently for the bounce sheet. She loves them.

Most bibs double as capes. Now you know. (And her shirt says RCMP Recruit. Too cute.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

First Night

It's morning. In Saskatoon. I am here and Chou is not. I've been here since yesterday in fact.

Friends, it's true. I left my baby over night and we both survived.

I look like Dolly Parton, but we survived.

I can't wait to see her tonight.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fourteen

I'm not prone to being a Debbie Downer, but recent events have got my head in a bit of a tailspin.

Let's just get some things out in the air so everybody is on the same page, er, screen.

I spent the Christmas holidays seriously considering what I want to be doing on a day to day basis and if that's what I've been doing or not (life, work, all of it). My dad has been having heart trouble for a wee while and finally went in for an angiogram this week. On Monday, my boss, trusted colleague and friend quit his post as editor of one of the magazines I work for (I probably spend 60% of my time on that pub).

Three unrelated things? Yes and no. What the shite does that have to do with fourteen? I'll tell you.

(And here's where it gets a bit downer, but really I mean this as a positive so bear with me)

Mum died at 44. I'm 30. No, I'm not one of theses weirdos who thinks they're destined to only live as long as their parent. Trust me, I'm in it for the long haul. That said, I do think of mum often, of what she accomplished in a relatively short life, and yes, now and then I compare where I'm at with where she was at this age. And yes, every now and then I ask myself, "What if I only had 14 more years?"

I think of this in a healthy sense. I think of this as motivation - as in, if you only had 14 years left how would you spend it? Is what I'm doing today and what it looks like I'll be doing for the next two to five years how I want to spend up to one third of these 14 years? See? It's a good thing. Everybody start smiling now.

Add to this my dad's heart issues, which being male he doesn't talk about easily, and yes, that pesky idea of mortality creeps into my thoughts now and again. Before I forget, Dad's angio went well. Unsurprising to us, he has no blocked arteries. What this doesn't answer, however, is just what is wrong and what to do. More on that later.

Now we come to the meat of all of this - my boss jumping ship. Over the holidays I really had put an end date to my career in agriculture. And I was sad. Let me explain. I believe in working hard for what you want, but I also believe that sometimes you shouldn't push what's not working. Take it as a sign, cut your losses and go. I feel that way about agriculture sometimes, like I've yet to really find my niche or be truly happy with what I'm doing and I can't seem to make the most of all these so-called opportunities out there. So I started to think that maybe, just maybe, it was time to close that chapter and move on to something else. What else? Well, you'll have to wait for all that because of the first sentence of this paragraph.

My boss leaving means his job is open and I've been asked to throw my name in for the position. I've spent the afternoon putting my thoughts and ideas to paper (screen) and I meet with the higher ups in a few weeks. I'm excited, a little intimidated but mostly glad to have the opportunity to move up to what would truly be the most I could possibly do with this company.

And what if I don't get the job? There are worse things. But you better believe I won't be spending the next 14 years doing the same thing I am now. No way.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Opportunity

One of the great/crummy parts about my job is that I run across many, oh so many, opportunities. As a writer, I'm always chasing the next best thing, highlighting under-supplied markets and showcasing those who are doing it right.

Talking to that many inspiring people can do funny things to your mind. And this is why it's a great/crummy part: great, because well, it's interesting and inspiring, and crummy because for my too-busy imagination I see my role in making the most of every opportunity.

I've discovered, sometimes after beating my head against a wall trying to make the impossible possible, that not every opportunity is the right opportunity. That while I may have varied interests, there is only one of me. There are only 24 hours in a day. I have a child. A puppy. A home. A life. I cannot and should not chase down every hint of personal and professional satisfaction.

I have to choose my opportunities. I have to stop trying to be Jack of All Trades and master of none. I need to prioritize. I need to put my family and health first, and then, if I'm going to work, I need to take my profession seriously and make the most of it.

Here, friends, is your first hint at my 2010 Shake Up that is already not going according to plan.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Green, pink, dark, mine, own

Everyone tells you how much babies change in a month, how toddlers suddenly acquire new skills and language, but to see it happen is another story entirely.

I'm a bad mum, that's for sure, in that I've missed the last few "monthaversaries" of Chou's. My listing of her feats, skills and loves has fallen by the way side as life gets in the way of blogging (stupid work/life!), but it struck me yesterday that I need to get some of this down as she's changing so quickly.

Within a week, her vocabulary and sentence use has more than doubled, maybe even tripled. She recognizes her own name if I print it, and points to green and pink without fail and identifies them. Black she gets sometimes; blue and red she doesn't say. She now counts two and three, but never says one. Maybe my favorite thing is she loves to tell us "It's dark!" when she looks outside, upstairs or into an empty room. She grabs toys, yells "Mine!" and runs away and more than once has insisted on a snack of her own instead of sharing. "No, OWN!" she cries.

Chou dresses herself...often, as in, many times a day. She's mastered getting nude, smacks her rump and yells NAKED! (Thanks to Jen's Newt for teaching her that one). She's pretty good at putting on her gitchies and pants and attempts shirts and coats to much less success. She diapers her dolls and teddy bears and makes them sit on the potty too.

Chou is unfazed by the weather. It was -20 something plus a windchill and the kid refused to come inside. She screamed and yelled and stood frozen in the yard while I tried to coax her in. Daddy went out and bought her a toboggan (known as "boat" to Chou) and now we can't ever get her in without carrying her.



She commands Pico to stay "off" and "down" and loves to get her dog to chase her. If I give the dog heck, so does Chou, complete with little finger pointed at Pico and a very stern look.

Chou has finally started saying words that until now were only signs - please, sorry, more and milk - are all now Peas, So-wee, Mone and Mok. SO. DAMN. CUTE.

She starts back at daycare tomorrow and her care provider is on board to get rid of the diapers and really allow Chou to potty train. I am so very glad. And unlike many mums I know who are sad to see their babies grow, I'm loving the new level of understanding Chou has of what we're doing, of taking direction, of actually helping, and I think "I can't wait 'til we can do all this together."

We'll be there soon enough, I know.

Making gingersnaps. Chou can smell a sweet mixing spoon or beater from across the house.

I had forgotten the joys of playdoh. It smells the same. Like childhood.