A Collection of Easter Blorts

I have not even gotten close to organizing the 1,654,895 pictures I took in England. I have decreed I need to spend some time organizing all my pictures because I have six years of memories sitting on a hard drive. Scary stuff. So Dropbox will be getting a workout soon… Once I get through the rest of my to do list.

I use to scrapbook. I have a butt-tonne of scrapbook paper and tools that I do not use, and haven’t since my daughter was born. Part of me would love to get back to it, but I also love the idea of creating some digital books with my mad (read: basic) photo editing skills. Scrapbooking feels like too much work right now. All the cutting and pasting and designing and the crafting makes me tired even thinking about it.

Much like my writing, right now. I desperately want to write, an even had some alone time over Easter to do so. I was excited to have that time, after a busy day of cleaning and shopping with a friend. I was tired, but did not want to waste the opportunity. So I dug out my keyboard and set up.

I stared at a blank page for two hours on Saturday night, starting and stopping on different ideas, eating a delivered pizza, poking my completely blocked brains until I gave up and played Heroes of Warcraft Hearthstone. (PSA: Mildly addicting. You have been warned…)

So, I have some mini blog posts I have worked on over the past few days, here for your enjoyment.

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Britain Trip Memories – Grocery Stores, Pints, Pubs, and… Eggs?

I have a distinct memory specifically of eggs. There’s more to this post than eggs, but I start off with a picture…

Eggs! On a shelf! In a not-busy Sainsbury’s in Kensington. Yes, I got weird looks from the natives, while taking this picture.

You see, in Britain (and other countries of the world) selling eggs in the store, off the shelf, not refrigerated, is… Normal.

I had heard of this, of course, but had forgotten.

On our first night in London, we “popped” (If you can call it that. my feet were Disneyworld sore. Y’all know what I mean…) to the local supermarket, named Sainsbury’s.

Pimm’s and a Pint in a spot near Trafalgar Square. Ahh…

We went to pick up fixings for a picnic lunch the next day, some dinner (aka salad, strawberries, wine, and a roast chicken) and various other healthy snacks to tide us over while visiting one of the most expensive cities in the world to eat in. It was fun to poke around the aisles, find the differences in our food versus their food. To peruse the wine selection and have some smartly-dressed gentleman force an Italian red into my hands saying “This one, dear, won’t taste like petrol.”.

My husband’s first pie and chips in a pub. He says this was a highlight of our trip… having a pint and a pie in a pub.

So when we happened across the egg aisle, I stopped, staring at the incongruity to my grocery shopping sensibilities. It took me a few seconds, then I remembered that article my husband and I had read not too long ago about why we have eggs in the fridge, when the rest of the world laughs at usdoesn’t.

It has to do with the processing of eggs in North America. Apparently, us North Americans buy eggs that have been washed during the inspection and grading process with special soap-chemical stuff. This removes an important cuticle on the shell. That loss makes eggs susceptible to bacteria, hence they get refrigerated to prevent growth of said dangerous wee beasties. When the eggs aren’t washed, that cuticle stays in place and is like steel-plate armour for the egg, against marauding e coli and salmonella. Their eggs are shinier, and the shell is a lot thicker *tap-tap*! It reminded me of when we used to buy farm fresh eggs.

There is other important info to go with that (SCIENCE!), but I digress.

I think seeing those eggs was one of many small (most-often joyful) observations I filed away as we experienced food first in London, then Essex, where our friends make their home. We share a lot of traditions in our food (heck, I love our locals here in the Byward Market, and the Fish and Chips can be just as good) with Britain, you know. It was really fun to ensure we did stop at a couple of pubs for pints. I, for one, will never tire of remembering the moment my husband broke open his first “pie” at the pub near our hotel. The expression on his face was priceless. Pies aren’t my thing, I prefer scampi and chips, that sort of thing. It was also a truly wonderful thing (Yes, it was totally a thing. An EPIC thing) when we grabbed Indian food on our last night before flying home. THAT is a post in itself, at some point.

It was comforting and welcoming, in a way, to find those similarities. It was immensely interesting to experience the differences too!

Anyone who has small kids here in Canada will get a kick out of this. My two were amazed. Finz? What?

Food is a factor that brings cultures together. People of different descent can share a meal together and it can break down barriers. Food can be a source to understanding the way of life in a foreign place. In other words, I think it would be a shame to travel to other parts of the world and only eat hamburgers, if you get my point.

Now, England is not really a “foreign place” per se, but the nuances of how the food was cooked, displayed, and packaged was a highlight. It may seem mundane to some, but when I looked at the sandwich selection at the Starbucks coffee stores we visited, it was quite neat to try them, and understand what a breakfast sandwich was in Britain, as opposed to Canada (read: My husband does not think British people know what an egg sandwich is supposed to taste like). I rather liked them, but didn’t partake of the “brown sauce” they kept trying to give me. I didn’t care for the taste, much.

I got a true kick out of seeing products on the store shelf that my grandmother used to buy at Marks & Spencer in the Don Mills Shopping Centre. I reminisced about the breakfast sausages, Jammy Dodgers, Lukozade, Polos, etc. I remembered how she used to lament at the quality of tea, and would not drink anything but Red Rose (Only in Canada, you say? Pity…).

I realized that I was exposed to a lot of “British” foods while I was growing up, because of my Grandmother. She was staunchly British, despite coming over to Canada as a young girl, and when I was really little, I thought she was a sister of the Queen, since they both had coiffed grey hair, conservative tailored skirt-suits, and owlish glasses. I wonder sometimes if that isn’t why I have an emotional response when I see the Queen on TV (or in person… Yes indeed, another blog post in the works, y’all).

I am digressing again… Let’s just say there were a lot of memories of her (Grannie, not the Queen) triggered during our visits to the Sainsbury’s.

I was on the plane home when I had a random thought, thumbing through pictures on my phone. “I wonder if Grannie had thought it strange to see eggs in the fridge when she came to Canada?” and marveled at our shared heritage, experienced so specifically through food.

 

Britain Trip Memories – Temple Church

I am going to share some random snippets of my big trip to Britain over the next few days, I hope.

Many people, as we geared up for the trip, warned me that my romantic ideas of Britain and its history would not live up to the reality when I actually went. It put the seed in my head, and I worried that I would be disappointed, or unable to reconcile what I wanted to experience with what I actually did experience.

That somehow, the number one destination on my travel list would not be what I thought it was.

However, one thing I promised myself was that as we travelled, I would be present in the moments. I would open myself to emotions and feelings that came to me, and allow myself to immerse into where I was at that moment. Embrace the unexpected, accept the results. If something was disappointing, so be it. If something was utterly amazing, embrace it.

In the end, I had a multitude of immeasurable moments. I am sure my husband was secretly laughing at me the entire trip because invariably at several points I was the round-eyed tourist gasping at every monument, vista, historical anecdote, and remembered “old thing”.

I hope to quantify some of these memories (or try!), as I remember them. After the break, is my first.

 

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New Car Smell

My kids got to experience new car smell on Saturday for the first time. My son doesn’t like it. My daughter thinks it smells like “magic wands”….

…I have no idea either, but it was adorable, therefore valid.

So, to sum up the past few weeks chez-nous, in handy-dandy list form:

  1. 3 year old birthday girl party shenanigans including a shopping spree, high tea at the Chateau Laurier all dressed up, and Rainbow cake.
  2. Car starts making rude, inconvenient noises exactly fifteen minutes after paying for pricey High Tea birthday lunch.
  3. Prep for departure to Britain (a la Flight of the Bumblebee), whilst dealing with a car that now sounds like a Lada.
  4. Discover that the transmission in imposter Lada is kaput, and has been dubbed a “lemon” by car aficionados. Estimated price tag to fix? &*#$ing expensive. Told not to drive car. Cue much swearing and woe-ing.
  5. Frantically scramble to find another way to drive to Montreal to catch our flight and not freak out about money. Book Via and rental cars.
  6. Leave for trip, have glorious time, enjoy every green-grass, sun-soaked moment. Wave at the Queen. Eat and imbibe way too much. Apologize to our livers on the plane home with litres and litres of water (ok, still apologizing).
  7. Come home to rude, inconvenient cold. Rent tiny “smartie” like car that can barely fit a loaf of bread in the hatch. Drive home with luggage safety-belted in the back seat. Pretend they are our children, being beautifully quiet.
  8. Spend the week recuperating, cuddling real children incessantly, trudging back to work, and researching vehicle options.
  9. Drive off the lot with brand new car less than a week after landing back in Canada.

*thud*

I was exhausted by Saturday night. We’ve been so stressed about how to replace our car, wondering how we were going to bury the negative equity, or even afford to replace it, that when we signed the paperwork for our new Ford Escape, I just about did a messy, happy cry right there in front of the business manager. Seriously. Never had we thought we could drive away in a brand new car, dealing with the craptastic situation of dead car + existing car loan + needing to keep the lights on and the children fed.

I am going to give a HUGE shout out today to Lincoln Heights Ford. We bought our Freestyle (of recent transmission FUBAR drama) from them, and when we came to them and said “what are our options?”, they treated us phenomenally. No pitchy salesman, no pressure tactics. Straight-up advice and up-front business (It does help that hubs, before he met me, worked there). We got to keep the demo overnight too!

We are deliriously happy. And my husband has officially purchased his very first new car! That is always a reason to celebrate.

So we did, with Indian food for lunch (the kids liked it! Shovelled it in, in fact!), because we are now trying to recreate the Chicken Tikka Masala experience we had in Paddington. I kid you not, the look on my husband’s face when he tasted the dish that night was exciting! We don’t do Indian food very much here. I heartily approve this mission we are now on since I loves me some good Indian food. Anyone else want to help?

I plan on writing more about our amazing vacation, once we’ve had a couple of “normal” days. I can’t wait to tell everyone about what a life-altering journey it was. It was a necessary holiday too. it made the -26 Celcius yesterday suck just that little bit less than normal (ok, so it still really sucked, but I imagined green grass and daffodils as I shivered).

Cheers! ♥

 

Prepared

This time next week we will be three days into our epic UK Adventure. I am so excited right now I can barely concentrate on anything. Partially because I am in the throes of last minute list preparation. Yup, with tabs and colour-codes.

I have started to pack. Yes, I am aware we still have four sleeps to go. I think it may drive my husband crazy by the time we leave (read: *persternagpester* have you done this yet? *pesternagpester*). There is so much to do before Sunday, and all I can think about is “Will I forget anything? Did I remember to buy extra night time pants for the kids? Did I print enough copies of #alltheinfo for our trip? Did I list the comfy underwear? Should we have an extra toothbrush handy? Should I bring two scarves or one? Where are the light timers? Did husband inform the neighbours? I need to vacuum. Did I update my iPhone list with the changes I made on the spreadsheet? Should we take the whole shampoo bottle or buy travel sized?”

*flail* *gasp* *wheeze*

Yes, I am that kind of person.

I thrive off being over-prepared. I get positively giddy when I am packed and ready and I know I have covered the bases! Think of something you do that gives you immense satisfaction when it is complete (reading a book, cleaning the kitchen, wrestling the kids into bed…). That is how I feel when I am all packed for a trip two days early and with three of everything.

Remember, I showed horses. If I forgot to bring an extra pair of stirrup leathers, one would break. If I brought all the extra emergency bits and bobs, then the day would go smoothly. I used to keep a “show bin” ready with duplicates and second pairs of everything except my saddle (and horse… Heh). They would get re-arranged and counted before every show, even though nothing had been touched since the last show. A list was taped to the top. It was double-checked. The leather parts  would be cleaned each week the same as my primary show tack.

The day before the show, I was always scrubbing and oiling and polishing to exhaustion (Let’s not talk about the plaiting… That was always done with the midnight oil burning). Oi.

I think my need to plan like this has developed over time to be a superstition, long past my competitive days. If I do not have the “what if’s” covered, I don’t feel prepared, safe, and capable. I worry that if I don’t have the Advil packed, we will need some and will have to spend money. If I run out of underwear, and have nowhere to wash them, well… Eww. My worst fear is being somewhere and not having the right clothing, or enough of something to make do. God forbid we run out of money because we had to buy something that we should have packed! Poor planning, and failure on my part!

Let’s not go into how much &^%* I would lug to paintball tournaments, shall we? More than once I got labelled “Team Mom” because I had all the stuff people need at tournaments but would forget to bring. Yeah… Nothing like packing rolls of TP and having the security search your bags with a “WTF lady?” look on their face… Because hello… Porta potties never have enough and I didn’t want to break the budget to buy some when I got to where I was goin’.

No seriously… That was how tight I budgeted sometimes.

I am aware that likely, I would be fine, and buying an extra bottle of Advil is not really going to bust the travel budget now that we are way more financially strong… But from being broke for years, and traveling on literally nothing, old habits die hard. If I forgot a sweater and it got cold, there was usually no money to buy one, because I had to put gas in the car to get home. So I suffered. And that sucked, yo.

This has transferred over to parenthood, of course. I pack everything the kids might need. Extra undies. Extra wet wipes. Any and all medications that one could possibly need with small children. Their little bags bulge with the possibility of warm or cold or even rainy weather wear. Most of the time, we don’t need half of it… But in case one of my precious cargos develops a fever, gets covered in their lunch, get soaked in the rain, or has a hard day riding the potty train, I am covered. I am prepared. No one needs to suffer.

So now, with a trip far away from where I live, I am doing it again. I have to pack for the kids being at Grandma and Grandpa’s for the week, us going to Britain for a week, and organize all the important papers and things we need to get into the country we are visiting. I am wondering at what exactly I can bring and what I should leave. I am planning and re-planning outfits, footwear, hats and jewelry. I am allowing for a  bit of room to bring home awesome things for friends and family (and me! Can’t forget me!). I am doing the “what-ifs”.

But, by the end of it, on Sunday, I will be zen and happy, and satisfied with my efforts.

Why?

Because I am prepared. ♥

Reasons Why my Unicorns aren’t Farting Rainbows*

*Note: No Unicorns were harmed in the writing of this post. Their digestive tracts are just fine.*

It is apparently warming up this week.

A friend informed me this morning that it might rain. Ok, warmer weather means I might be able to get out and run, but rain? Come on now, is it too much to ask for non-freezing eyelashes AND sun? Obviously not. *grump* It has been a long, long, long cold and snowy winter for us here. If I have one more day where I am chilled to the bone on my legs and extremities by the time I get to work, but sweating inside every building I go into before I can take all the winter layers off… Well… Seriously, I don’t know what I’ll do, but it may involve foot stomping and fist-shaking.

In reality, I do not do temper tantrums very well. I’d be better served simply adhering Bitchy Resting Face™ and retreating into self-administered alone time on the bus until I feel as if I have stewed long enough over things I cannot control. *mumble* stupid Polar Vortex *mumble* living where air hurts my face *mumble* have you seen my stapler *mumble*

I had intentions of running last week and it did not happen. At all. I even put it out there to my fellow running friends, and… the Sabby Machine ran outta gas. I did not go. Why? I didn’t make it a priority. I couldn’t find the energy or time.

I didn’t want to.

I have not run in a month now. I haven’t yearned for it once, and haven’t had the energy to even contemplate it some days. It seems weird because I love it so much (and feel like I miss the idea of it, most days), but the thought of putting on all the clothes to go out the door and run makes me just sit right back down on the couch, grab my iPad, flip to a random mind-numbing, addictive game, and go “ugh”. Don’t even get me started on going to the gym to run on a treadmill… the few times I have, I have walked away and quietly cried in the shower afterwards because it felt so terrible. It hurt, it felt wrong, and it was hard as *^&% to simply just keep moving.

The one highlight of this was the running I did in January was wonderful, and the track workout I attended was really, really fun. New shoes work, it felt good to be active, and then… The bottom fell out.

I have a race in April. It is almost March and the last long run I did was 8k, which is half the distance I have to cover at the end of April. I am seriously thinking of selling my bib, or giving it to someone who wants the challenge. I will NOT be ready in time to run the whole thing. The idea of running a race, any race, is so exhausting I just don’t think about it. Or when I do, I stop because it leads to me being a Negative Nelly about myself because I am not pushing my fitness like every single other friend around me and how dare I even call myself a fit person anymore when I have gained ten pounds since Christmas and… *deep breath*

…Let’s not get into that whole “Inner Critic-Shut, Up!” business today. I feel like I have beaten that into the ground with the “Be positive! Be ready! You can DO EEEEET!” and I am tired of that, too. I have drained the bank with positive self talk, uplifting imagery, reminders of past accomplishments and all that stuff, but it does not matter when you have no motivation. No get-up-and-go. No power. Add life/family/work stress and WINTER… And that cocktail knocks you on your arse every time.

There are no words to describe how much I am looking forward to going to Britain in three weeks. They have Spring grass, even if it is temperate and rainy (and, I hope, receding floodwaters soon, dear friends)! GREEN GRASS, PEOPLE! *gasp…wheeze*

Finding the time to go has been hard too, for a multitude of reasons I won’t go into here, cuz really, we all deal with it and some of it is way personal, yo. After an “in the kitchen” chat with some girlfriends not too long ago, I detailed it all out. Cheaper than therapy, people. Find yourself a group of like-minded women (or men, y’all talk about this stuff when watching the game, right?) and throw your problem to them. They can sometimes see things you can’t. It can also be super intimidating to do, and it was scary to be in that group and having them tear my problems to pieces. I look up to these women. It was hard to let them see my failures. Some ouchy things were said (in a loving way) and it was good in the end, because I sorted out some *&^%. It was a tough evening, though. I got home and had a really big, messy, sobby sob-session. I didn’t even take off my makeup, so you can imagine what I looked like after that. *screams in terror*

The other factor that has kept me from physical activity in the past month or so is pain. Good old fashioned aching, hurting, creaking, tottery pain. I did not understand exactly why I was in pain until I saw a doctor last week.

I haven’t talked about it (especially around Husband who would just tell me I needed to get back on the exercise train. He has no motivation issues with his regime because Crossfit). I felt like maybe the pain was indeed the byproduct of not moving much (wasn’t convinced, I walk quite a bit every day to and fro work, from the bus etc). But doing a squat brings pain into my knees that lasts. Doing push ups makes my shoulders make that “poik” noise with each rep and ache for a day afterwards. Waking up and moving in the morning is a shuffle, then a slow hobble until I can actually open my eyes. If I sit for too long, I look like the Tin Man after a rainstorm when I walk. let’s not talk about Bad Bus Driver rides where I have sore arms from holding on. After my track workout, my abs were still quivering piles of ouch five days later, and I couldn’t lift my arm above my head for three on one side (aka: pulled somethin’-somethin’ in that there side muscle). My hands swell up like balloons if I do too much typing.

I know. Typing.

Don’t laugh. But y’all, it is my job. I’m a writer. Do you have any idea how much that sucks? I keep ice packs in the freezer at work to rest my hands on at regular intervals.

I have been living on Motrin and sometimes Aleve to ease the overwhelming day-after-day-after-day pain. I felt like I was falling apart, and thinking I was going to be dealing with this permanently. It was a new “normal” and it was, well… Depressing. Energy sapping. Etc. See above. Taxes and shipping are extra. Results not typical.

I saw my doctor earlier in the month, and he put me on a sleep medication that has been helping in a big way. Sleep is a wonderful thing, no? Then, last week, I saw another doctor and mentioned to her that the constant ache and pain was really wearing me down mentally and emotionally, on top of everything else. She put two and two together and went “Well, likely it is because you are depressed.”. Errr? Ok… Explain.

Apparently, with Seasonal Physical Depression (think similar to Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD), body aches and pain are magnified, and sometimes a symptom of. Clinical depression can also cause such aches and pains. It has very little to do with not moving. It has nothing to do with exercising too hard. Sometimes exercising can bring it on worse, even (think DOMS + emotional/mental struggles = feeling worse). It can also suppress your immune system. Wait… What? *atchoo*

So cue the rolling snowball. Not wanting to move because it hurts, having no energy to move, feeling worse about yourself because you aren’t moving, then dealing with the hurt when you break down and move because you browbeat yourself into it… And if the real reason (depression) is not being addressed…

Where’s my Bikini?

There is a big ball of brightness up in the sky. If I look up, my breath fogs my sunglasses and I can’t see, but I feel this strange sensation hitting my hurting, pink cheeks.

Heat. Warmth.

I am standing outside this morning, soaking up the sun, even though it is -26 Celcius with the wind chill, and I realize I must look like a lunatic. So I quickly levelled my gaze, and lo and behold, about a billion people in the area where I was were doing the exact same thing (most on a smoke break, but I digress). We are all sun-worshipping in down parkas, toques and Sorel boots.

For anyone who lives in warmer climes, it might look a tad ridiculous. For us, it is just another mid-Winter day in Ottawa.

Depiste the normalcy of cold temperatures and a lack of sunlight, tt has been a brutal, brutal winter here. I have not been running. At all. Nor gymming it. Nada. Just getting through the day is an accomplishment at the moment, and I am happy if I have energy at the end of the day to do something other than sit on the couch and stare blankly at my husband, who is staring blankly back. I feel so unproductive and behind on #allthethings.

$&^*, Spring had better get here soon. I’m not sure how much more blank staring can happen before one of us snaps.

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Old Thing, I think I love you

Exactly a month from now, I will be wandering around London with my husband looking altogether too touristy. Hey now, those sneakers are comfy, don’t judge.

We will both likely be very jet-lagged and doing our damnedest to stay awake. My husband will be trying his hardest not to either beat me over the head or tease me as I stare and exclaim every time I see a building/monument/old thing that further cements the fact that I am, indeed, in Great Britain for the first time in my life and OMGlookit!!!! A stone wall that is really old!

People are going to think I’ve lost my nutter when I take pictures of ordinary, every day things. Why is that woman taking a picture of cobblestones? Or that wall? Or that tree? Or that random doorway? Is she insane? She doesn’t even have a fancy pro camera!

Because those things, if they could tell a story, would have so much to say. By taking that picture, I can revisit and wonder at just what it has seen in the centuries gone by. I can imagine the people, their history. I can wonder at the changes. It can fuel my belief that in noticing these small, seemingly mundane objects, we are truly appreciating the past. The culture, the people, the lives lived. Think about it…  I will be standing in a city that was a city before people even knew the continent I live on existed! A city with untold treasures under centuries of buildings, roads, and progress. I feel as if I could stretch my senses and listen to the peoples of 1500 years ago, who lived at the banks of the Thames. That I can look down at my feet and connect with the person who laid the tile on the floor of the cathedral. It is heady, exciting… And hard to explain exactly why I feel like this.

I know… I can hear the collective twirling of fingers around ears. Crazy woman, dramatizing and romanticizing old places. They’re just buildings and walls. Its just a tree. That’s just a Roman road.

Truthfully, I think about our history when I am downtown Ottawa too, sitting under the massive old trees in Major’s Hill Park. I wonder what they were witness to in the past 200 years; the secret conversations, the changing faces. I daydream standing behind the library at Parliament Hill, looking out over the river and imagining the logjams, or the workers building the Rideau Canal locks.

Perhaps I should have been an archaeologist or a historian, if my path had been different. *adds to list of Sliding Door plot ideas*. I tend to get a little exuberant about really old things. I think I might just be that kind of person on a dig who would get excited every time they unearthed a pottery shard, or old button. Right…

Being as this is our first time to visit the UK, I am absolutely beside myself. We are going to a wedding (of good friends we are so excited to see!) at a Norman keep. I get to go riding. In England (bucket list item)! We get to walk onto London Bridge, take a picture or a video, and send it to our kids. All because London Bridge is their favorite song, and they know all the verses. Yes, there are multiple verses. Do you know them? I didn’t, until my son educated me. Its a LONG freakin’ song when you add in all the verses, you know.

And yes, my son knows that the Tower Bridge is not London Bridge. He is quite adamant when you try to trick him. Although he thinks the Tower Bridge is pretty neat , and makes up songs about it, too.

We are planning, in our short visit, to try and take in some of the must-see places in London before we jet out to where our friends live, to explore Essex in all its early Spring wonder. We don’t have time to do a trip out to somewhere outside of London before the wedding weekend, so we compromised. The next time we go, we’ll be able to say we’ve “done London” and can visit further afield, like Stonehenge, or visit the 432 castles I have on my Castle Bucket List. Tintagel, here I come!

And let’s not get into the trip I want to take solely to hike the length of Hadrian’s Wall. This will happen, people. Who wants to do it with me?

So i am asking you, friends, what should we see? We’ve got the usual suspects, such as Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Westminster, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Kew Gardens…Fleet St., Picadilly Circus… It is a little silly all the places, right?  I could go on. So, let’s get down to brass tacks. What truly awesome bit of London should we explore? What old things should we love?

Help me find the stories.

Green Goop, Anyone?

It is official. I suck at making green smoothies.

I have tried, honestly, I have. Some of them were middling tasty, but I always ended up with tiny bits of spinach  in my teeth, not enough of an ingredient to make the recipe right, or my blender choking on the frozen fruit, causing me to add more liquid and producing RunnySmoothie™.  I also dealt with green smoothies that were decidedly NOT green, and several times would be slurping away on a (not too terribly bad) purple/brown drink, only to make my husband give me that look that indicates he is pondering my sanity.

Which he does every day, really.

Sometimes, I would want it to be creamier, so I would add protein powder, yogurt, or milk, and it would ferment over the course of the night in the fridge, and when I opened the Mason jar, would pass out from the noxious swamp fumes. Mmm! Fermented protein! And, in the odd case, the taste would be just that wee tich off to make me want to dump the entire glass down the drain before I did, indeed, retch from the abomination of healthy greens, yummy fruit and quenching juice coagulating into something resembling waste sludge or rotting algae in a settling pond.

Yeah…

And I am now remembering the time I forgot I put chia seed in the smoothie, left the second portion in the fridge (in a tightly lidded Mason jar), like I normally do, and the next day, had this off-green gelatinous goop to force down. The taste was ok (if you closed your eyes and pretended it was Jello) but it had a hint of over sun-baked vegetable smell, and the look of it was… Oh Lord… have any of you ever changed a very, very newborn baby? Then you know of what I speak.

*shudder*

I am trying to eat healthier, and get more greens into my diet, more energy packed foods, and I am also trying to increase my iron consumption through my diet since iron supplements  cause my internal plumbing to seize. (TMI? Sorry…). I have to, really, get back on track. Seriously. I left the rails so far behind I am like Lightning McQueen trying to find the Interstate (Mack! MACK!)

So I signed on to this green smoothie thing for January. I was supposed to get weekly emails with recipes, and some follow up encouragement from the website I gave my email to, but nothing has appeared in my inbox save the first “Welcome perky awesome person! We love you, please check out our Amazon store! We love green smoothies!” with enticing pictures of Day-Glo green yumminess in a cute Mason jar with a designer-striped straw and lemon wedge. I checked my junk folder and nada. The Facebook group has even gone quiet on my feed… Oh well. I don’t need a cheering squad to eat, truthfully, and I had the initial “booklet” with recipes (Avocado? Seriously? What kind of person puts avocado in a smoothie? Never mind. Most of my friends do… And they are awesome.).

My daughter, conversely, needs an audience to politely clap every time she takes a bite of dinner, praising Her Majesty for her effort and prowess at getting her fork (with food on it) to her mouth. Seriously, it is the only way we can get her to eat right now. Otherwise she is singing about animals, wiggling off her chair, and yelling about random moments from her day while my husband tries to get a word in edgewise.

She’s so much like me it is spooky.

Some days I forget completely about my smoothie, but I am getting three or four green smoothies per week, so that is better than last month, when in place of a healthy breakfast, I ate shortbread and leftover stuffing, followed by a vat of coffee, chocolate, and an allergy pill. I am a rock star, or at least ate like one in December. *urp* yeah… Not so good, that. Did you know that leftover cream cheese frosting is really, really good on saltine crackers?

Don’t judge.

But back to my failed attempts at Green Goddessdom. Awhile back, in the summer, I was making  smoothies every morning. But, drinking a smoothie on the bus was problematic when you are standing the whole way downtown, and your driver believes he is an Indy Car driver, or has some sort of tick that makes him hit the brakes every. ten. seconds. I don’t even dare to sip my coffee anymore! No one wants a faceful of that when he slams the brakes and everyone becomes more intimately aware of the stranger beside them. (unless that someone was my Secret Pretend Bus Boyfriend. We could handle that, yeah?)

So I stopped.

I was making them with chocolate protein powder and greek yogurt, with coconut oil and water, with strawberries and pineapple, with bananas and blueberries. I added chia, and hemp seed, and flax! They were yummy! They were appetizing colours! They were palatable! (the blender was a *&^%$ to clean). I even did spinach from time to time, but just enough. I wasn’t doing the green smoothie thing, really.

So this month-long challenge, which I have so utterly and completely failed, was hope for me to restart that morning ritual of packing my poor, underpowered blender with far too much frozen fruit and whizzing up something I could positively say was healthy for me. It was supposed to be fun. And easy. And make Day-Glo green smoothies I could pretentiously drink at work when I shook my pretty Mason Jar up and tapped my delicate striped straw into it. Mmm!

Instead, I had co-workers asking me what on earth I was drinking with that look on their face that indicated they were pondering my sanity. Which happens regularly.

So… This morning, once my Booster Juice Spinach Is In It smoothie defrosted from the walk to work down frigid Sussex Drive, and I took a sip through the ridiculously long straw, I did indeed realize I have learned something in this month-long adventure.

I suck at making green smoothies.

Good Girl

When I was a child, I was told “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

I’ve always kept that at the back of my mind when tramplingfinding my way through social situations. I took it to mean “Don’t complain, don’t say mean things about others” etc. I also took it to mean “Keep your mouth shut and don’t participate because you are dumb, will sound stupid and people will hate you”. This attitude stems from many years of being told just that, and my own basement-level self-esteem holding me back at various points.

I truly thought I would never amount to anything like what I am now, a long time ago. I felt like I was indeed worthless, stupid, destined to a life of menial labour with no fulfillment, self-loathing abuse, and terrible life decisions. Slowly, over time, this has changed, and I am in a much better place. I have scars, and consequences of these decisions, but they are lessons and building blocks of where I am now (which is better, if you have kept up to my nattering so far).

However, I never said my Inner Critic followed the same advice. My Inner Critic, sometimes still thinks I am ridiculously fat, stupid, and worthless. She is beaten regularly to improve morale,  I assure you. Har-har-har. No, really…

Most of the time, I realize how ridiculous it is for me to believe these things about myself, and thankfully, the times when I truly do berate and whack myself about with such negative ideas has diminished in the past couple of years, significantly. Running, finally finding local female friends in the same place in life as myself, being solidly married, having the fulfillment of two tiny people who drive me nuts and elate me in a second’s time, and becoming much more accepting of my my post-babies body has helped immensely.

If my 20’s self could see my 30’s self, she would be horrified at how saggy various body parts have become, but also excited because my 30’s self is way happier in general.

But, despite all this personal growth to the positive side of the graph, I still have my moments, and I still deal with those terribly dark thoughts from time to time. **Honesty Alert** – I have been dealing with them in the past two months. Hard. I have been trying my best to not let it show, to stay upbeat, to remain sunny and positive on the outside.  No one likes a Debbie-Downer! No one wants to be around a morose person. Even my husband gets annoyed with me, tells me to “suck it up” or “snap out of it” (which really helps…).

Also? the crazy of Christmas does not help. I was very glad to see Christmas over this year. It was wonderful, I enjoyed being with my family, but when the tree left the house and the decorations were packed away, a whole weight of stress left with them. I breathed a sigh of relief when our schedule got back to normal. I have missed blogging, I had missed routine. I did not miss constant Christmas music…

But, it could also have been the allergic reaction I had to the tree left too making my entire body go “Thank the &^*% that is over!”… Jes sayin’…

When it comes to my blog and lack of blog posts, As I have mentioned before, I hate using it as a place to complain about stuff (unless with terrible jokes and in light of larger issues and fun). It all seems so trivial when I try to put it down on paper and justify why I feel so horrible about myself, or my current life. Do I have a right to be down and out? I have so much to feel blessed about. It would be rude of me to do woe and angst, when so many others have so much less than I, or are far less lucky in life than I. I should be ashamed for how I am feeling, right? No one needs to hear about my sadness, or my struggles. they all have their own &*^% to deal with. I can’t burden others. Besides, no one likes a complainer. So the blog stays quiet, like a pond in the morning sunrise *cue swelling music* and I didn’t write because I didn’t want to be negative.

Yeah. WTF, lady? Reach out, ask for help, vent to someone. It does good, remember? Writing it down makes you happier. Talking to people makes you more grounded. Durr…

So a week or so ago I did say something to someone (or several someone’s), and almost immediately the tension lifted. I felt better, I felt understood, and I mentally shook myself like a wet sheepdog. I realized I indeed don’t need to give in to the overwhelmed, tired and down monsters. I actually ran last week. Three times! And wrote! And am writing here! I also am sleeping better! And not having anxious, heart-pounding, sweaty panic attacks anymore (at least a week has gone by where I have not had one, now…)

Jeebus… Rollercoaster ride, anyone?

The amount that simply telling someone “I’ve had a hard time lately” helped was immediately noticeable. True, the lack of light, the beastly winter weather we’ve had, huge allergic reactions to dry air and the *&%^ing Christmas tree, constant cold after cold courtesy of my youngest, and various other stressful family and life situations have been wearing me down like water on a stone. But it helped.

The Dowager is hilarious, and I love her lines. But in reality, sometimes I need to stop worrying about being the “good girl” and just get it off my chest. I need to let others help me shake it loose. ♥

 

 

 

I am secretly a Dwarf from Middle-Earth

*very off topic post today. Feeling bookish.

Husband surprised me with a date last Saturday, when I was feeling %&^$@*.  I desperately wanted to cancel, but he’d already set up the babysitter so I figured why not. It doesn’t take much effort to park my &%^ in a movie theatre seat. He dangled the one story I go back to again and again in front of me, enticing me.

Besides, the lure of Martin Freeman, the Cumbersmaug©, Aiden Turner, and Richard Armitage was too much to bear. Yes, I am easily bewitched by brooding, dramatic men from the UK. Aren’t we all? (OK so all of the British Isles, and Ireland… Love you, honey…)

We went and saw Desolation of Smaug, which is the third new movie we have seen in the past couple of months. It is nice to be able to say we are getting out of the house for no other purpose than our entertainment. Usually, if we get out of the house without the kids, we try to make practical use of the time. Boooring… I know. I am nothing if not efficient, right? So, because we’ve been trying to relax and de-stress, we’ve gotten out to see the new Thor movie, Catching Fire, and now, the latest Hobbit, one of my favorite childhood stories.

I am enjoying the Hobbit movies, and contrary to seemingly the entire Internet Hobbit fandom, enjoying the additions to the storyline. Yes, I am referring to Tauriel and Kili. If you haven’t seen the movie, I have not spoiled anything for you, I promise. Also, I am glad for the chance to see more female characters in the storyline with prominent roles. Just like I was in LOTR, with Arwen, who kicked BUTT.

I also (also?) love me a good swoon-worthy romance, and of course, beautiful people don’t hurt. I mean seriously, I think Peter Jackson had to know the panties would drop when he introduced the line of Thrain:

Tell me you don’t agree. Go on…

Photogenic dwarves aside, I am revelling in the retelling of what is, for me, one of the first big books I read that I remember. My copy of the book is quite old, and I think was purchased from a used book store in my home town. I haven’t re-read the story yet, because I want the imagery of this interpretation to sweep me away, without remembering nitpicky details of the canon. Who cares if they add stuff to the movie, that is what movies are supposed to do! Embellish, expand, bring characters that exist as imaginations in our mind to life. Create a rich world robust with the peoples in it. There was more to the Hobbit than met the eye. Tolkien knew this, his son knew this. Hence LOTR, The Simarillion, the Children of Hurin… And now the team of people helmed by Peter Jackson have worked some magic into a new generation of Middle-Earth converts, I hope.

I am thankful to him, jes sayin’, really.

The Hobbit was the first book that caught my imagination as a young reader. It was the Gateway into fantasy books for me. After that, I read anything with elves, dwarves, and halflings, orcs, goblins and ghouls. I found stories that were sweeping adventures, often with a female lead and a romantic pairing. It was an escape from reality, which for me, sometimes really, really sucked. It was an adventure.

Yup.

Now I have to wait for the final installment, which will feel like forever. Thankfully we will have the Outlander TV Series to distract me. Mmmm hmmm… Jamie and Claire FTW!

Bumpin’ Rum Bussin’ Hijinks

Happy Hump Day!

I almost added rum to my coffee this morning, when in a flash of absolute brilliance, I switched my 1% milk with some of the eggnog I brought home last night.

Oh yes… I was poised at the liquor cabinet. But I relented because well… That would really be irresponsible of me to put rum into my coffee. I mean come on, that would be wrong, right? To get on the bus, tempt folks with the heady rum-coffee aroma as I languorously open the top to breathe in the deliciousness… And not share.

Sharing is caring, everyone. So next time you want to bring a paper bag-disguised mickey of Jack Daniels onto your morning express downtown, remember that, k? (I kid you not, this happens from time to time)

I did not get much sleep last night, for various reasons (one of which I must remember to get decaf at Tim Horton’s  when I do evening coffee. What do they do to their grounds? not even espresso from Starbucks gets me that jittery). I have one eye that is puffed out like a prizefighter, my sinuses are slowly hardening into concrete, and my hip is hurting like a *^&%er. I was the picture of serene, rested, luminous beauty this morning (oh how I wish there was a sarcasm punctuation mark…).

In all seriousness, flirting with my Secret Pretend Bus Boyfriend was out of the question. Besides, I was really tired, had not even swiped on mascara (see puffy eye mention), and didn’t want to scare him. I left my sunglasses on (yes I am aware it was overcast and not one iota of sun was peeking through) and hid, thumbing through my phone, sipping my coffee and clutching my backpack to my lap for fear it touch the disgusting bus floor.

So basically I looked like an OCD, repentant cougar with a killer hangover. Super. All I need now is a Leopard-print Dr. Zhivago winter hat and I am ready to pounce. Meow? *sneeze*

Le Nordik saunas and whirlpools on Friday cannot come soon enough (Screw Calgon, I want Aufguss).

Walking in the snow on the sidewalks the past two days, in boots I really need to replace, has had a toll on yon IT Band across my hip. So yeah, I have been stretching, slowly doing some cubicle squats, and avoiding the gym because I really need to be healthy to start training in January for my race goal in April (OMGWTFBBQ… four months from now!). I’m also realizing that I just need to get through this month with sanity (hence Le Nordik being a necessity). Husband is stressed, I am stressed, the kids are overly- excited about Christmas and my son asks every damned day if tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I am still able to answer him civilly, so I’m not strung too tight yet. That is the barometer. If I snap, you know the stress got to me. If I am still able to say “No, sweetness-of-my-life, it is in two weeks” without twitching, I am ok.

Get back to me about that on Friday around noon… I may have a different answer. Wear armour. Bring chocolate. Be nice if I ask for a cuddle.

We may need to get some of these.

With the forecast showing us more snow, I am considering if the expense of yaktraks is warranted before I get paid next week, or if I should lump it, and ask for them to be my Christmas gift from my husband (I know… How romantic are rubber and spikes that you strap to your… Oh… Wait… Don’t answer that…). I am doing Bambi on Ice interpretive dance on the sidewalks the past three days (soft tissue injury, here I come!). With my red toque, and green backpack, I am sure someone is going to ask me if I am an elf from some Santa figure skating show. Seriously. I just need the pointy ear thingys. Think I can borrow Channing Tatum’s? (http://www.newnownext.com/channing-tatum-is-a-sexy-blond-um-elf-in-jupiter-rising-trailer-watch/12/2013/)

But its not just me that is sliding about. If we get much more snow in December, our poor OCTranspo busses will be the ones driving way more carefullydoing Bambi impressions, because their normal balding summer slicks slide in this greasy, slippy stuff. Like on Monday when my bus driver couldn’t stop in time and slammed face-first into the back of the bus in front of us, when we were downtown. A few folks fell over, a few bumped body parts. I had just sat down at the front of the bus. I was lucky.

I walked the rest of the way to work, doing Sidewalk Ballet, and by the time I got to work, I was exhausted. I think my hip likely said “Ohhh no, sweetling. We don’t do that anymore, see?” and called their union rep, because ow.

I could’ve used a shot of rum after that to calm the nerves, let me tell you. Too bad there wasn’t any to be had.

Kabooms

So, for the past few months, I have been a tad rudderless when it came to goals. I was in maintenance mode, a little adrift. I have started a strength routine, but for the past two weeks have not really had much luck getting to the gym with flu and general December scheduling making it near impossible. September through end of December is really a crazy time of year with our house. I should know this by now.

So, yeah… Not fitnessing near as much as I “should”; let the internal browbeating begin.

But, last week, I relented and put away the stickfoam roller I had been (mentally) flogging myself with. I started saying “I’m ok with this. This is a journey, and I will not beat myself up for not going full bore.”

I have done that in the past, fretted over missed workouts, fretted over not being as balls-to-the-walls as I think I should be, having nightmares of never going to the gym again, and crying because I can’t run and am “missing out” on the opportunities and gains I could have had. I am hard on myself in that regard and have had to really try hard at letting that go a bit. I have two little kids that need their mama. I have a full-time job. I have a husband who is working INSANE hours right now and has his own fitnessing three mornings a week (Crossfit, yo!). I have a home that I need to keep decent (hahaha… well, semi-decent) because my husband can’t help out as much. The run will always be there, the gym isn’t going anywhere, and I have time. No goals, right? Just taking the lull to work on steady, smart gains with no injury. Be at peace with your effort. Own the run, right?

It is still a big ole ball of stress-o-rama, but I am coping, rationalizing, and trying my best.

On this Friday past, I spent the evening with some women I cherish. They have been supporters, ears, shoulders, and sweat-mates for a little while now. We are all working hard to keep balance, some of us with young kids, some of us with massive, amazing goals.  They all inspire me, and push me without even realizing it and I wish I could see them more often.

We were talking about our fitness and body struggles, and something stuck with me. I have not seen my scale (or jean size) move up or down more than 5 pounds since last year. Yup. I have been stagnant. Plateaued, if you will. It has been on and off frustrating, since I tend not to weigh myself that often, so when I am not near a scale I don’t think about it much. But nevertheless I would love to see a smaller me, as I have mentioned before. I focus on strong, I focus on being fit, not a size or weight, but with that, comes the desire to have less to haul around on a run, or less of a “folding accordion” in my middle when I do back squats (complete with off-key, feeble whooshing noises. Heh.).

But, one friend pointed out “You have maintained for over a year! That is a big deal!” – KABOOM moment. Yeah! I have! I have not gone back up to a size 22 and 220 pounds. I have not expanded while I was off, tending my hip and foot. I stayed status quo.

Holy &^%*balls, that was one of those things we call an epiphany, I think, right? I have maintained! That is great! Wow. I’m sure somewhere I had noticed I had not gained weight, but my brain is a sieve, and the grocery list/school paperwork/bill notices pushes that important affirmation out on a constant basis.

So that was what I was thinking about on Saturday morning at the pool, watching my kids bobbing about in the water. I was thinking I was going to be ok, and this week to go back to the gym would be really nice. That I might back off the weight and have a couple of really good mobility-inclined lift sessions to get back into positive headspace-land. I was absent-mindedly planning my schedule when I checked my email.

There was an email from InStride Events about a race. Then, my phone dinged at the same time, with a co-ordinating post from a running friend on Facebook where all the usual suspects were chiming in on how awesome [it] was going to be and that they had signed up and YAHOO!

Yup. A race. In April. 16 km was the distance all my friends were aiming for. 50% off until end of December.

*cue intake of breath, heart-speeding up, and fingers twitching*

As with most of my goal setting, the impulsivity stayed true to form, and I signed up while sitting at the bench, with my phone. The woman beside me was impressed I was signing up, so I tried to be nonchalant while inside I was FREAKING OUT. I was sitting rigid, trying not to shake.

Dramatic much? Obviously… Either that or the coffee was finally hitting my bloodstream. 8:45 lessons are early for me, on a Saturday. *eyerub*

Dear God, but I have committed to a big goal this time. I have never run 16 km before (Tough Mudder doesn’t count. That is officially classified as a 16km trudge). I don’t know if I will be able to by April. I’m worried my hip won’t handle the running. I already know I will be super slow (which is not a big deal, really) and will likely be doing intervals. Part of me has utter confidence I can do this and RAHHH! RUUUUUN!!! The other half is really worried I just bit off more than I should be chewing.

But that is the idea with goals. It has to be challenging, right? Like my Tough Mudder, like running a 10km “race” for the first time at New Years, like my Army Run 5 km waaay back when I first started this crazy journey… All of it has been a challenge.

So on April 27th, I’ll be running the Manotick Miler 10 mile distance with a bunch of friends. http://manotickmiler.com/ is the race website, and until December 31st, you can register with a 50% discount (very much worth it, IMHO). I ran the 10km distance last year and enjoyed myself, loved my finish photo, and was impressed with the setup. Well run, smaller, and really encouraging volunteers. Also, Manotick is very pretty, and there is a Gingerbread cookie store there. I know, right? Omnomnomnom…

So much for a lull in my training goals, and being able to simply focus on steady, smart gains! In January, my feet have to start hitting the pavement again. Now, to buy new shoes, a new running jacket, fight forschedule time to do long runs, and a find a sensible training plan… Anyone got any suggestions? ♥

Keep Swimmin’, Kids

This weekend was Parent’s Day at swimming lessons, so all four of us were in the pool for 8:45 am on a Saturday morning on a day that the in-laws were visiting (which was awesome, it was a lovely breakfast and a great visit). We did fitness as a family! I know! We win Parents of The Year, right?

Additionally, I get an extra cookie for not freaking out (too much) when I stepped in poop. But that is another story.

On Saturday, I hustled the other three members of my family out the door early, my husband saying “We don’t have to leave yet, why are you freaking out?” and looking rather grumpy, so I hustled more, just to tick him off because marriage means you get to have those moments of love together and enjoy them thoroughly.

I did not want to have to get to the pool and do the quick-change thing, stressing us all out so that we are snapping at the kids and speaking to each other through clenched teeth before we are supposed to go get in the pool and have fun, DAMMIT! Besides, I hate being late to things. Hate it. So, of course, God has a sense of humour, because I married someone who has (on many occasions) made me wait until I am a twitching, ragey ball of fury because by the time he made it into the car we were indeed going to be late and had to banshee-warp speed to the day care to get the kid on time. (I also hate missing previews at movies).

I digress. Pool. Saturday. Right…

With all four of us needing to get changed, showered and out to the pool, I always account for shenanigans and extra time. I was a Girl Guide, and worked for years in the equine industry. It was drilled into me through special badges (that, and I can make a killer towel rack from rope and twigs) and the need to adapt or die (read: horses don’t care about your timeline). We were able to get ready without too much crazy, and we did not have to yell once. Go us! I was also able to secure a locker for our hundreds of winter layers that needed to be peeled off.

I think I could totally be a wicked wetsuit peeler at an Ironman. I can strip a vibrating child of their snowpants in 2.3 seconds flat. How hard could a fidgety, soaking wet, hyped-up triathlete be?

I went into the pool with our daughter so my husband could horseplay with our son (and help him practice his back float), and I spent half an hour singing nursery rhymes with a beefy, man-bearded instructor, dunking my daughter in and out of the water like a sacrificial cork. Fun times. She did, however, jump into the water all by herself, and was giggling when she came back up, so it was fun for her. My son was all smiles.

Whiny, tired kids on the way home. Checkpoint!

I was too short to kneel on the bottom of the pool, so I spent  the entire lesson in a squat position in the shallow pool. My hips, yesterday and today, are screaming at me. If you listen closely, you can hear them throwing the F-U’s around pretty liberally. Walking has been slow. Sitting was agreeable, but ascending stairs with full laundry baskets? Oh wow… That sucks. Motrin is my friend, and my bursitis was not a happy camper at all.

Screw this getting old &%$#.

I didn’t get to the gym last week, coping with flu, craziness, and generally panicking aboutdealing with the onset of Christmas Prep 2013. So I’m feeling a bit guilty about that. I’m wanting to get back to it, realizing that taking a week off is not great to keep going with the gains I am seeing. I have mentally slapped myself several times, and this week, am going to make sure I at least get three workouts of some sort in. I feel a bit pudgier.I feel a bit stiff, and slow. I feel creaky. I had a bubble bath last night. It helped.

Also? Grapefruit shower gel makes really good bubble bath, and can clear your sinuses right out. Awesome.

I am looking forward to seeing some friends on Friday night, and this coming weekend we get our tree. Our entire street got theirs this past weekend, I think, and we felt like we were breaking some rule about not buying our tree. But Sunday we simply hung around the house, went sledding with the kids, and relaxed. Necessary. Today I feel a bit more relaxed, and ready to tackle the week because we had that down day. Let’s see how long that lasts.

Just keep swimming, right? ♥

Base Zero and Metaphors

Holy *%^$balls, life went Kersplody.

Messy, happy, snotty, sick stuff everywhere. I’m still mopping up, and I am still deciding how to get through December without going bat@#$* crazy. The holidays are upon us. I have so far been able to avoid doing any cookie baking, and have done most of my shopping online. I have begun the Great House Purganization 2013, with some success. Now… If only the dust bunnies would move out (and take those darned Cheerio elves with them) and the Laundry Gods would continue to favour me, I could tackle the massive pile of baby stuff to sell, sort the toys currently lurking in the basement, and get that stain off the basement stairs carpet… We’d be almost back to base zero. Hoo! Think of the free time! Hah… Right.

I have ventured into a store or two for gift shopping, but at off-peak because I hate Christmas crowds. Also? I have no idea what to get my husband, so I am left wandering a lot, not inspired. Not a clue, honestly. And Dad? What do you want for Christmas this year? My creative batteries are on low, so let me know what would make you a happy Grandpa, and the kids and I will go get it.

We’ve also decided not to have a Christmas Open House this year. This will be the first year, since 2008, that we haven’t had one. We looked at cash, and time, and the fact that we are so stretched energy-wise that we’d be nuts to try and get the house company-clean and cook for that many people while maintaining the work/ home life schedule we have. I have to say I am completely relieved, but also sad. We love having people over, it is a chance to see as many of our friends as possible around Christmas, and provide some cheer. Plus, having 40 some odd people (17 of them kids in your basement watching TV) is quite an experience in a three-bedroom bungalow.

That said, friends are always welcome to give us a call, or come over for tea on the weekend. Just don’t mind the crumbs, constant noise, and bedlam, ok?

The past couple of weeks, truly, has been really great and really awful all at once. I have done a couple of runs, and they were awesome. I have been in the gym kicking butt. Also awesome. Missed a kick-butt Tupperware party. Not awesome.

The worst was that my wonderful, beautiful, never-replaceable Mustang Blue Running Room Run Jacket is gone/stolen (I think, since it is nowhere to be found and I was certain where I had left it). The realization, when it hit, made me break down sobbing. It was passed to me from a really awesome and inspiring friend, Ally (http://runningawaywithmyself.blogspot.ca/) and I am really at an emotional loss because that gift meant so very much to me.  I loved that jacket, it fit perfectly, and was a comfort on every run. I have to replace it, but I have to afford new running shoes too. *^&%. I am still looking for it, checking the lost and found at work periodically, but… Hope is fading.

Curse you, whomever took it out of the locker room at work, if that is what happened. CURSES UPON YOUR BLACKENED SOUL! *ahem*

Finally surfacing after my stomach flu is great, but with the massive green and red twinkling freight train of Christmas approaching, I want to dive back down. Let’s not talk about piles of snow, holes in my winter boots, tense school meetings about my son, my lack of gym visits in the past few days, or the entire family having colds all at once. I sound whiny. I’m not, really. Just tired. Really, really tired.

I think it is time to start Vitamin D and iron again. Blargh.

Finally, along with being bedridden and achy for the past few days, I’ve been thinking in metaphors, and I wrote some down in my flu-like haze. After re-reading them, I wanted to share some of them with y’all. I kind of liked them. Note, I am not sad. Ok, some of these may sound sad, or depressing, but they aren’t. Just snippets, ideas. Playing with the ideas. See after the More. ♥

Continue reading

Twelves

You know, I realized this morning I swear a lot. (Note: this post contains many <bleeps>)

In my head, out loud sometimes, and yes, occasionally, in front of the kids. I swear to alleviate pain when stepping on a random tiny toy, to relieve pressure when I can’t get my coffee mug lid off, and when I am frustrated beyond belief at my husband. I also swear when someone cuts me off in traffic, I break a nail, and I spill my coffee. If I am not careful, someone may, at some point, rename me Ian McShane.

I try not to… Honestly! But it just comes out. They say people who swear a lot are more trustworthy and dependable… If so, I am on par with Mother Theresa. The logic is sound, right?

But this morning I swore heavily. Half under my breath, since I didn’t want to be disruptive. But swear I *&^%ing did, and for good reason. I was standing in front of my locker at the gym, my hair dripping wet, my too small towel grasped in one hand around my middle, and my outstretched hands holding my %^*& jeans in the other.

Holding jeans should not elicit Potty Mouth, you say, but I beg to differ on this. Especially this morning. @#$& yes.

last night, I was exhausted, and packing for the gym the next morning. I get everything ready to go, so all I have to do is stumble to the bathroom, put on workout clothes, blindly grope to the kitchen, wolf down Breakfast #1, and grab my lunch from the fridge. From there, I can ZombieMom walk to the livingroom, put on my outdoor clothes, pick up my backpack, plug in my music, and leave. Make it easy and it will happen, right? This morning was no exception. Walking outside woke me right the *&^% up. Lord love us, but that was a brisk walk to the bus.

So back to last night, as I was blearily putting day clothes into my pack, I grabbed the first pair of jeans off the stack in my drawer. I assumed they were a pair in “rotation” (what, doesn’t everyone have a jean rotation? Only me? Oh… #organizedfreak) and threw them in. No biggie, off we go. Easy-peasy-porkie-pie. (Mmmm… Pie.)

Cue aprés workout.

I pulled the jeans out of the pack, and looked at them. Hmm… I don’t recall my currently fitting jeans having that blue a denim colour. Hmm… I don’t recall my currently fitting jeans having that long a leg. Hmm… Let’s check the label.

“Oh ^&*%ity, %^&$, @#$*!”. <– Exact words, people. What I was staring at were a pair of size 12 Old Navy jeans that are supposed to be living in my “Not yet fitting” storage pile. They somehow made it from the closet into my dresser, to the top of my jeans pile. In all my productivity this weekend, they made that journey across the floor of the bedroom, and likely, in my blind focus to cleanoutallthethings™, I just threw them in.

Aww… @#$%.

So here I am naked, showered, and contemplating the fact that I have no *^&%ing pants to wear. I looked at the sodden mess of workout clothes currently on the floor, and felt the ick of putting cold, wet, stinky capris back on. I contemplated that I would be late for work because I would have to wait until the stores in the mall opened and go buy myself a *@$#ing pair of jeans that fits. I contemplated how I can barely afford to do that right now.

I contemplated crying.

Then I contemplated trying them on. Yes, I &^%$ing did. I wiggled into my compression underwear, and stuck a leg bravely in. Then the other.  With a silent prayer to the Cellulite Gods, I pulled the &%$#ers up, did the wigglebounce that all women do as they put on jeans. Wigglebounces are mandatory when putting on freshly washed, tight jeans, I think.

Now, bear in mind, the last time I tried these on I could not get them over my MoonHips®. I could not even think about doing them up. I have been in a size 14 pant for many, many months now. I was dubious, and already thinking about where I could pull cash from, and hoping the sale at Old Navy was still on.

I looked down. They were on. Holy @*#%.

I experimentally pulled the edges of the button over towards one another. I prayed some more, and the button met the button hole with a little effort. Then, I did Zipper Yoga™ and slowly, the zipper inched its way up to the top.

Holy Petunia eating a Fudgecicle, they were done up! Size &%$#ing TWELVE. I was euphoric for a moment, realizing that I could actually get the ^%$&ing things on and done up for the first time in a long time. Breathing was difficult, I felt like a stuffed sausage, and I am sure people were staringwondering if I was going to pop, but ^$%&, they were ON!

I immediately did a few experimental squats, leg lifts and such to work the jeans in a bit (I could SQUAT in a size 12 jean! WTF?). I was going on the principle of denim sag. We all know that Old Navy jeans go on super tight, and ten minutes later, you are hauling the *%$#^ed ass up when the spandex relaxes.

So kill me, I am too cheap to buy designer jeans… *sigh* Also? Can’t afford them. Seriously.

I am stubborn, and with a mirror examination to ensure I was indeed able to walk about in them without embarrassing myself, I wore the &^%@ing things to work. I have a muffin top that I am hiding with a cardigan, they feel snug, and I may still go buy a pair at lunch because I get uncomfortable when they press on my C-Scar (anyone with a C-Scar will understand that kind of pain. Ow.). Also? I want to go try on a non-washed eleventy-billion times, not- shrunken pair of twelves for fun.

But they are on, I am at work, and that is a ^%#@ing achievement. I think that is something worth swearing about, don’t you? ♥

Peeling

I tried a purifying face mask the other night that you slather on your face, leave on for thirty minutes (while you breakdance, clean the hampster cage, or make dinner), then peel off. It was a sample, so I had to squeeze it out of this ridiculously peanuts-on-an-airplane hard to open packet. I suppose I could have used scissors, but I was lazy and there weren’t any in the bathroom, because my daughter can climb, and decided to “cut her hair” (she’s two) the other day, so we had to move them.

I haven’t really ever been a fussy 12,432 step skincare kind of person. I do the wash with water, rub in some lotion and go. Maybe some eye cream if I look like a Basset Hound, or a scrub if my skin is greyer than the November sky *cue dramatic pose*.

Besides, ain’t nobody got time for that with two toddlerists in the house. But, *sigh*, with the change of the seasons, my face has been flaking and freaking out like a molting snake.You’re welcome for that visual. Can’t say I’m not accommodating. (Freaky, Dude… That’s what she said… etc.)

The face mask was pitch black. The brand was Boscia, if you’re interested. Was supposed to purify me like the angel Gabriel, and make my skin glow like an LED Christmas bulb, and stuck to everything I touched. I am a dork, so it got everywhere. Yeah. On the mirror, the ceiling (don’t ask) and my (thankfully already ratty) shirt.

I was safely in my home, using Science!© to make my skin glow like a photoshopped model in Vogue, so it was not inappropriate… But yep, as I gazed at my husband-terrifying visage in the mirror (Uhh honey, what is wrong with your face?) I did think about Halloween and all of the ridiculous people who decided that wearing what has been coined as “Blackface” as a costume was ok. *shakes head* Ridiculous, and how on earth is that ever ok? Ever? Yikes. (Julianne Hough I’m pointing at you, dearie… Crazy Eyes or no, sweetheart…)

Thirty minutes later, I remembered why I never, ever use peel off masks. Like ever.

OW. %&^*$ity OWWWWW! I have too much peach-fuzzy hair on my face to be pulling that &^*% off. I think more hair came off than good went into my skin. *&^(. If I’d wanted to scream like Steve Carrell in the 40 Year Old Virgin, I would have gone and gotten a Brazilian. It was that painful. I was left with remnants of sooty facemask, red, angry skin where I had violently ripped hair out, and a lingering rage that I could not take out on anything.

It was after, when I read the packet, that I noticed “You can wash off, if preferred”. Derp. Double Derp, in fact.

You see what women do to look beautiful? Do you? Take note husbands, spouses, lovers… We poke, prod, stuff, tweeze, polish, scrub, puff, fluff, dye, strip, flip, scrape and peel ourselves to oblivion (and to empty wallets) to look beautiful. We apply strange ^*%& to our faces in hope it will have some modicum of change, deflate our puffy eyes, erase our wrinkles, even out our (likely already beautiful) skin tone.

And sometimes it *&^%ing hurts. So be nice to us. And buy us pretty things to soothe the lingering rage. ♥

Costumes

I bought my daughter the most toddler-girl-appropriate ladybug costume dress ever while out shopping with a friend. It was adorable, with ping-pongy antennae, and the wings velcro on and off which makes for waaaay less hassle when dealing with a fickle two year old.

On a whim at the dollar store not long ago, I bought myself ladybug wings, some long red gloves, a mask to match the wings and voila! We will be matching! I intend to wear a red dress and some heels (and thermal tights brrr!), and do my hair up. It will be fun! My own version of a Ladybug-Fairy-Princess, I suppose. Or wait… is she the Ladybug-Fairy Princess and I am the Ladybug-Fairy-Queen?

I did look at getting a ladybug costume from a costume store. I decided I did not want to be a Slutty-Ladybug-Queen. Some of the costumes were scary tight, short and ohmygod revealing. Why do all the costumes for adult (and teen) women need to be SexyEverything™?

I am hoping she likes dressing up with me, it is a surprise for her to have Mommy dress up as a ladybug too. I was all excited about doing eye makeup to look like a ladybug when I realized I have a Masquerade mask to wear. It is dollar store quality, so I will be picking glitter out of my skin for 12 days afterwards, guaranteed. Also? The gloves may not fit up my arms. People in China who made these assume women in North America have tiny, pole-like praying mantis arms. Heh…

My son, true to form, is an Orca, his favorite ocean animal. My husband found him an adorable costume at the local Winners, but he can’t wear it to school (He is a boy. He is a noise with dirt on it. White and black plush costume? It would come home no longer white in the white places). I know he’ll be a bit disappointed, but them’s the breaks, kid. Maybe I can swipe a Halloween shirt from Old Nay on the way home.

Two years ago, I wore my (beautiful) wedding dress as a costume with a scary black wig and cape. The dress fit me perfectly, which made me kind of feel terrible despite enjoying being able to wear such an expensive dress around for fun. I made a vow that by Halloween next it would not fit. I know, I know… I loved my dress, I loved how it looked when I married my husband. It was the perfect dress. But…  I did not want to fit into it any more. You see, when I got married, I was four months pregnant with my beautiful son, and a bursting at the seams size 22, almost a 24. When I tried the dress on right before my wedding, the couturier had to let it out a bit. Yes, I was pregnant, but not in the hips, back, or butt… I can remember trying desperately not to cry, since my hubby to be (Yes, he helped me pick out the dress) was standing right there, oohing and ahhing over how wonderful it looked (which it did).

Oi. Memories.

Last year, I tried my dress on and it was loose (stick my whole arm down the front kind of loose), but I could still wear it about without too much trouble. I was disappointed, but the fact that it was loose made me feel a bit better. I hid at home while my husband took the kids out. I was not really wanting to squeeze into a costume. instead I wolfed mini chocolate bars, had a glass of wine, and felt terrible about myself.

This year, I tried it on the other day while at home, alone.

I did it up, wrestled the bodice up past my girls… And it slid off of me. Right to the floor.

I calmly stepped out of the puddle of silk and sequins, shook it out, put it back into its dust-jacket, and then burst into happy tears. My secret (well, not so secret, I did tell a few folks) goal had finally, FINALLY happened.

I looked at my ladybug wings, mask and gloves after that. For the first time in a long time, I was looking forward to getting dressed up to go Trick or Treating without feeling self-conscious about my body. Yes, it may be shallow that not fitting into a dress I wore once when I was fat(ter) can alter my body-esteem, but there it is.  Yes, it should be about making my kids happy, and having silly fun, not my body shape or size. But… Costumes are always a sore point for me. I always feel exposed, all my flaws on parade.

Not this year. I am in a totally different place.

I am going to be a great Ladybug-Fairy-Queen.

 

 

 

Making it Up as I Go

A few mornings ago, I was about to apply mascara wand to my puny lashes when my daughter, dressed in her winter boots and coat, came into the bathroom. With mittens dangling out her sleeves, and her hood up, she announced “I have to put my makeup on!”.

It was adorable, I relented, and pulled her stool over to the counter. She climbed up, and I took out her “makeup” for her so I could continue to poke my eye out put my lashes on.

She is starting to want to do things with me, and explore her differences from her brother because “I am a girl!” gets announced frequently in our house (She also likes to announce she has a bum, a va-jay-jay, and sits down to pee). I am somewhat deer-in-the-headlights about it, and partially pleased she wants to do girl things with her dorky mom. She loves trucks and superheroes and idolizes her brother, but she does all the “boy” stuff in her Butterfly Princess dress and flashy pink Skechers.

Despite my endorsement of her purple, glittery tendencies, there is no way in H-E-Double Hockey Sticks I am letting her play around with my Dior, UD, or Clinique compacts, and I am not letting lipstick get smeared on everything in sight. Not only is that &^*% expensive, but higher end shadow or blusher pigment doesn’t come out of anything. Even with that stain remover hocked on TV by that dude who needs to stop yelling or he’ll pop a hernia.

Gathering the materials to make fake play makeup.

So, faced with her wanting to “Be like Mommy” at the tender age of two and a half, I dug through my old, dried out and cracked compacts a couple of weeks ago.  Armed with a Pinterest-gacked idea, and some spare time (I know! WOOO!) I made play makeup.

I picked up dollar-store nail polish (FYI, this stuff REEKED for days after I made the compacts. Air them in a well-ventilated area) and some stick on jewels (which are not very sticky) and prepared to do my best.

I was able to pop out the green eyeshadow duet easily (Seriously, green? What was I thinking? They never looked good on me.) and the Lise Watier popped out with minimal effort. The lip gloss/lipstick pallete, however, was greasy and stubborn.

The finished compacts, complete with bedazzled covers and brushes

May I suggest wearing gloves if you are cleaning out any kind of compact with lipstick, gloss, or otherwise oil-based makeup? My hands were a tinge of pink for a day after washing that puppy out. And let’s not talk about the glitter… (Herpes of the craft and makeup world, I tell ya)

Once I got them clean and dry, I poured the nail polish into the former makeup reservoirs. I filled them halfway, so that when they dried it would “coat” the inside of the compartment, and not “fill it” which would likely stay soft. Which would be bad news for anything within the vicinity of my daughter, once she got poking at them with a brush.

Nail polish fingerprints do not come off denim easily, youknowwhatI’msayin’?

Remember, as you pour, that there are those tiny ball-bearings in the bottles, and try not to drop them into the compact. I had to fish mine out with Q-Tips, and that was messy. I kept poking at them going “Stupid bubbles” wondering why they wouldn’t pop.

Bling
The compacts in all their blingy glory

They weren’t bubbles. Derp.

Next, you let it dry (ummm… Duh?). Which takes awhile (overnight). This is where you ensure you have placed them where they won’t make you pass out from the fumes, or have a little girl get into them. Yeah. *cough-snort* cheap nail polish = lots and lots of narsty smells. I was not about to use my OPI or more eco-friendly bottles though, and if this turned into a PinterestFail, I wouldn’t be out a ton of money.

Once dry, I stuck some jewels to the tops, to make them toddler-girl acceptable (I also used some of them on my own compacts… Because I felt left out and wanted bling). They don’t stay very well so I will have to go back and superglue them on. They keep coming off, and my daughter sticks them to other things, like her eyelid, or her tongue.

She loves them. She puts them into a little silver play purse and carries them around, puts them in the bathroom “Just like Mommy”. She paints the “glitter blusher” on her cheeks with a fierce focus, and the tiny brush that came with the gloss palette gets used to put her lipstick on. All the colours. Every time.

If it was real makeup, she might be mistaken for one of the citizens from the Capitol. But this is ok. She says her favorite is the glitter. Of course it is! I have glitter eyeliner that sometimes makes its way onto her cheek in the form of a star. She loves that. So every morning I am getting ready with the kids, she is beside me on a stool putting her “makeup” on.

I’m still getting used to this, being a mom to a girl. It felt like only yesterday I was at the hospital, having the ultrasound tech tell me I was having a girl and having a mini-internal freak out about massive hair bows and how I was going to deal with all the frouffy-frouf and tulle.

It has been easier in some ways, and harder in others. I am not used to the pink, the bows, the glitter, or the unflinching, glorious desire to be a princess. I am more used to the dresses, pretty shoes, and playing Dolly Tea Party (The best parties are when Dolly gets a tupper of single malt while we are having tea.. .or wait, is that me…). I have worn a tutu on my head, dealt with the chopped liver sensation when my little girl needs her Daddy more than me, and bought more pink and purple frilly things than I have ever before. I’ve even contemplated, while purchasing every day fun jewelry pieces, if they would be able to pass down to her at some point as play jewelry, and if the answer is no, putting it back.

Hopefully she knows (or will know) I am trying my best.

Trying to be a good example to her, foster her ability to be as girly/frilly/glittery a woman as she wants, yet have balls to take on the big things in life, and toe the line with the Boy’s Club if she needs to. I want her to be able to do all the Tom-Boy stuff she ever wants to do, but I will not say no if she completely geeks out over more female oriented toys and past times like those rainbow elastic looms that are giving all the cool kids carpel-tunnel.

I just want her to experience everything she can to help her find out who she is as she grows. I know she’s only two, but I have been thinking about it a lot the past few days (hence the long-winded navel-gazy post hidden in a tutorial). Call me crazy (wait, you already do…) but I feel like I need to ensure I have this right. If I do nothing else right, let me be the best role model for my children I possibly can.

Even though I really do feel like I am making it up as I go. ♥

Morning Cold

There was no hot water in the showers at the gym this morning.

Random shrieks and unladylike words could be heard as I walked back to the change rooms, and there were hordes of women huddled in the sauna drying off, all impersonating wet, pissed off cats. I found it humorous until it was my turn to stand under the freezing, wet dribble coming from the shower head.

If I had wanted a cold shower, I would have stayed home and showered after my husband. *&^% it was cold. Not in a refreshing way at all. In a “Winter is coming” Stark family, miserable kind of way.

I did manage to bear the iciness to wash my hair and rinse off, and then I too huddled in the sauna with my fellow sufferers, making polite conversation while we all thawed our stiff, numb fingers enough to comb through our matted, frozen hair.

It was a steam sauna in there, with so many people coming in wet and shivering.

I mentioned it to the staff downstairs, and they did the eye-roll, “Yes, slave, we’ll look into it” thing. Have I mentioned that I loathe the fact that this gym chain is the ONLY ONE NEAR MY WORK that I can afford? *grump-bitch-moan* I am hoping the walk from this gym to my work, come winter, won’t suck, but I am not holding my breath. Sparks St. has a wind that whips down it that is really nasty in the winter. Imma gonna need some mukluks and a ski mask. It will be worth it for towel service, cardio machines that work, and a locker door that closes properly.

You know, luxuries like that. *snark*

Despite the apres-workout nastiness of a morning alternative to coffee, I did have a good workout. I am two cycles into my New Rules of Weightlifting (http://www.amazon.ca/The-New-Rules-Lifting-Women/dp/1583333398) stage 1 workouts. There are two workouts in stage 1 that you alternate 2 to 3 times per week, A and B. The A workout is exhausting, but doable, and the B workout is really intense. Usually, by the time I walk from the gym to my work (about 1.5k) I am ready to sit for awhile and drink my bladder-busting sized coffee (read: NOT a morning person).

How do I know this routine is kicking my *&^? By the time I am ready to walk to the bus to go home, I am hobbly and stiff. Likely from sitting at my desk for extended periods, and also because my body is still getting used to being active again, now that I am no longer injured, and it is freaking out.

Don’t even talk to me about DOMS the next day. Oh Lord, getting out of bed sucks, and sitting down or putting socks on makes me utter a sound like a 3rd grader playing a violin for the first time.

These are short, intense workouts, and even though I feel like I am doing less, I feel it more. Ow. I do add in extras at the beginning and end of the workouts, for warm up, and my physio stuff at the end. Sometimes cardio too, if I have time. It feels great to get back to it, to be honest. I would love to do three workouts a week, but getting to the gym on the weekend is difficult, and going two days in a row would kill me, I think.

Well, maybe I wouldn’t literally die, but I’d be ridiculously grumpy when moving at all would cause pain.

I am hoping to get back to Solefit in the next week or so to test out new shoes, and then, I am starting back to running (beginner 1:1’s) at lunch, on non-workout days, which will help. I am looking forward to winter running again. I loved it last year.

I have a goal of March to see how this program does for me to gain some strength, and hopefully some muscle definition, or the start of it. I would love to lose some inches and fat, but I am not going to get disappointed if it takes a long time. I am keeping my eye on the Strong prize.

Rawrr! ♥