14 July 2008

It's like a top 10 list, only there's 25 because I thought it would be a fitting celebration of the 25 lbs I've lost.

Why I like to run (AKA Why I don't stop when it hurts):

1. Weight loss. 25 lbs gone proves it works!
2. Leg muscles. I've got buff calves now, dude.
3. Running away from home. Running time is often my only alone time during the day.
4. Clothes shopping. I get to buy new stuff when my pants are falling off of me, and it's actually fun for once!
5. Running buddies. I run with a clown. Seriously.
6. More energy. I can almost keep up with the kids now.
7. Better overall muscle tone. I ache less now and my back is mostly happy with me these days.
8. Achieving goals. There are few things as satisfying as setting out to run 16K and coming home alive.
9. Mental clarity. Running makes my brain work better.
10. Improved mood. I'm happier now and feeling really good about life.
11. Runner's high. It's so goddamn addicting.
12. Better food choices. Running forces me to plan out my eating and I automatically make better choices on what I put in my mouth when I've worked so hard.
13. Setting an example for my kids, both of personal fitness and of self-care.
14. The big race day. My half-marathon next month is going to be a highlight of my year.
15. Liking myself more. I like the running Kim a lot more than the out of shape Kim.
16. Improving my health, especially in regards to my genetic predisposition to diabetes and high blood pressure.
17. I get to play with my Garmin! I beat that sneaky little Virtual Buddy this week.
18. I get to listen to my own music without having to turn it down every three seconds so I can hear why the kids are arguing.
19. Less PMS. Need I say more?
20. I have a good excuse for spending more time outdoors, and running in the mountains this summer was amazing.
21. I get to wear my cool new shoes. They're shiny and purple!!
22. I can now carry laundry from the basement up to the top floor without feeling like I'm going to die.
23. Watching my times improve each week.
24. A good run can fix a bad day.
25. It feels so good when I stop.

01 July 2008

So since I've harassed Erron about not reading my blog I feel like I should actually post an update. Then it might actually be worth checking in!

First news, since I left things hanging in my May post, is about running. I'm still running and I'm running lots. I usually get in 5 runs each week and my long run this weekend is up to 16K. The enormous distance of 21K is almost within reach! The problems I was having with my right leg faded away with a lot of thanks given to the break I took in Chicago. Running only one 2K run in 12 days wasn't lazy, it was recovery time. Really!

Now I've moved on to a different leg and different pain. I've had a nagging ache in my left calf that some days keeps me from running or even walking normally but on other days seems to be non-existent. After getting really frustrated with dealing with this and wondering if I'd ever make it to my half-marathon next month I decided that it's mostly just a mental thing and I need to tell it to stop. It's another roadblock to my goal and I don't want it in my way. So, when I run I tell it to relax and loosen. When I'm sitting on the couch and it spasms I tell it to be quiet because it's not getting in my way. When I walk and it makes me want to limp I tell it that walking straight will stretch it out. And so far it seems to be working, in conjunction with ice baths after each run. Let me tell you, you haven't lived until you've sat in a tub full of icy water.

Going hand-in-hand with the running is the continuation of my weight loss. I'm down 20 lbs since this winter and it's really quite nice. These past four weeks I've actually hit a plateau on the scale but I'm seeing a drop in inches so I know I'm still losing. Liam keeps telling me I'm gaining muscle and I just pout that my mental health needs to see the scale budge. I've been wearing clothing I haven't been able to fit into in quite some time though so there are definitely some perks to literally running my butt off.

My other running-related news is the recent acquisition of a Garmin Forerunner 305 with a heart rate monitor. I'd provide a link but I'm too lazy but you can Google it if you want to see a picture. Basically, it's a GPS wristwatch device that I strap on at the start of a run and it tells me how I'm doing. When I get home from my run I plug it into the computer and I get a fantastic readout of my heart rate, my distance, my pace, my elevation, and some other things I'm forgetting right now. There are lots of nifty features I haven't used yet such as programming in constructed workouts (like intervals or tempo runs) and the racing a virtual buddy thing. It's been really encouraging to have the instant feedback on my runs and to monitor my pace and heartrate as I'm exercising.

And in other news...we're finally spending time at home! Between a trip to Chicago, spring camp, camping in B.C., soccer season, rugby season, and my running we haven't been spending a whole lot of time in this building. I've really missed home. I've missed those spring evenings of playing with the kids in the backyard until they're covered in dirt and too tired to argue about bedtime snack. I've missed the sitting in the kitchen and doing crafts and the playing games with the kids instead of keeping them occupied while I get stuff done. Spring is always busy for our family but it seems like this one was even more so than normal, which is odd to think about when you consider our unschooling lifestyle. Or then again, maybe it's not.

I'm sure there are a million other little updates to post but I won't bore everyone with the details about moving furniture or trying out new recipes. Suffice to say that I am indeed still alive, still doing well, and still not blogging regularly.

16 June 2008

The moments flow, one sliding into the next.
Moments of joy.
Moments of tenderness.
Moments of fury so great they take up the whole world.
Reading stories on the couch,
Getting lost in worlds and times far from here.
Walking in the warm afternoon sun,
Going wherever sidewalk leads us.
Following threads of imagination
Into those places children sometimes let us witness.
Watching their little bodies sprawled in sleep,
Hardly able to bear their beauty.
Right here, right now.

06 May 2008

So for those (few) of you who read my blog and I don't talk to on a regular basis, here's the update on me and my leg. I took a couple of weeks totally off from running and then I did a short "test" run before the half-marathon clinic. Things felt not too bad so I plunked down my money and signed up for the insanity.

Since then I've had some good runs and some bad runs. On the bad ones I slow my pace down to a crawl in an effort to not make my leg worse and I try to focus on my posture and ignore the pain. On the good days there's only a bit of stiffness and it goes away during my post-run stretching.

All in all, things are going really well. I've been getting in 4-5 runs each week and my long runs are at 7 km right now. Combining all the extra exercise with paying closer attention to what I'm eating has resulted in some nice weight loss (6 lbs in the past two weeks making me 13 lbs lighter than a few months ago) and sometime this week I'm going to Old Navy with my hoarded gift cards to buy some spring clothing that fits.

I've been pondering tonight how I keep thinking about how I've just got back into running and I feel like a total newbie. Two of my runs this week (at my parents' place and by our condo) really reminded me, though, that although I'm just back at it again I've been running on and off for 10 years. It's a bit mind-boggling because I often think of my experience as being limited to my half marathon in 2002 and the 6 months of training I did for that.

Anyhow, that's what's going on in the world of Kim and running. I'll let you all know how running in Chicago goes next week!

12 April 2008

I wish I'd taken a picture of my yard last week. I woke up to find that our spring had been buried beneath a growing blanket of fluffy white stuff. My laundry that I'd hung out in the afternoon sunshine the day before looked ridiculous with tiny snowpiles on hanging T-shirts and socks.

Today, it's a different experience altogether. I was sitting on the deck enjoying the sunshine and I had to come inside to change into a tank top and capris so that I didn't melt into a pool of springy warmth. Last week's snow is gone as are most of the piles of snow that accumulated all winter.

Another change from last week is more personal. Last Saturday morning, I ran my longest run of the year. I'd been planning to run outside but the sudden snow resulted in a change in plans involving the treadmill at Intuit. It was a fairly good run. My right leg had been troubling me earlier in the week and it started hurting again around mile 4 but only when I walked so I stopped taking walking breaks.

Anyone see where this is going yet?

Fast forward to today, and instead of completing another 6 mile run I hobbled around the block for a walk with Jack. It was my first real attempt to do anything resembling exercise since last week and it was a frustrating experience. A rather large part of me had been hoping that the pain and stiffness that has persisted all week would work themselves out if I just went for a walk. Nope. I limped and hobbled just as much at the end of the walk as I did at the beginning. I iced it when I got home and I'm just as mucked up now as I was this morning.

So. Ugh. I'd been planning on entering a half marathon clinic with my friend. It's nine days away and I can't even walk, let alone run, the starting distance. Maybe with another week of rest, another trip to the chiropractor, and a massage I'll be feeling fine in time but there's a growing part of me that's losing hope of meeting my goal of running a half marathon this summer. And that just kind of sucks.

21 March 2008

Today being almost the last possible moment to do Easter crafts, we cleared off the kitchen table and got out our crafting supplies. Before I could put away the spray bottle, though, Lily sat down with it and the comb to pretty herself up. As always seems to happen when kids and water are in the same place, our kitchen was soon a scene of complete mayhem.

Nick kept spraying himself in the face.
Then Lily would spray herself.
Sometimes Nick sprayed Lily, which she quite enjoyed.
Most of the time.

After a bit, we finally got the table dried off and the eggs pulled out. We put the pretty little tablets in the water and got ready for some eggy fun.

Dad even got in on the action with some crayons and dye.

Nick being Nick, he soon moved on from regular crafting to experimenting. My baster became a pipette for mixing colors. Lily quite enjoyed sticking foam cut-outs onto paper. She worked quite intensely for about 30 minutes. Note the look of concentration!

In the end, we had 7 beautiful and unique eggs, 2 sheets covered in foamy bits, and a sink fully of gross-looking water. Happy (almost) Easter!!!

02 March 2008

Last night, I went to a screening of Ricki Lake's new documentary, The Business of Being Born. After having an unsatisfying hospital birth and then a life-altering homebirth, Ricki wanted to do something to educate and empower women in regards to homebirths and modern childbirth practices in North America. At first she looked into becoming a midwife but she realized that with the years of education required she would make a quicker and perhaps larger impact by making a documentary.

Edmonton's Association for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth (ASAC) hosted a screening at the Whitemud Crossing Library last night. I excitedly attended with some friends after having read many positive and negative reviews. The tiny theater was stuffed to the brim with people filling each seat and sitting on the stairs and stage while children around in any empty space they could find.

The documentary examines childbirth in North America and compares it to that in other countries. It highlights some significant statistics about the incredibly high cesarean rate in the U.S. (33% nationally, but as high as 40% in some hospitals) as well as the high induction and epidural rates. Also discussed are the relatively high infant and maternal mortality rates and the enormous amount of money spent on hospital childbirths.

The homebirths portrayed in the documentary were beautiful. Women were shown swaying, moaning, and cursing their way through labors, and babies slid out into their mothers' hands in bedrooms and bathtubs. Contrasting this was footage of both 1950's hospital births where women were strapped into beds during "twilight sleep" and modern hospital births where women's labors were managed with drugs and surgeries.

While I've felt for some time that natural childbirth is possible for the majority of women and healthier for both mothers and babies, this documentary got me thinking of birth more from more than just a physical point of view. One interviewee explained how that sense of "I just gave birth. Now I know I can do anything" in new moms is something that we all have the right to experience. When the vast majority of women are having labors that are artificially induced, numbed through epidurals, or even outright preempted through surgery, women in our culture are not experiencing the empowering and rewarding rite that has been a part of womanhood since time began.

Also discussed is the idea of how the hormones released during labour facilitate mother-baby bonding. The "love cocktail" as they call, it helps mothers to respond to their baby's needs and enforces the instinct to protect and nurture their child. If cesareans or inductions stop this hormonal surge from taking place, there can be ramifications in the relationship. The documentary draws a link between the high rate of disrupted bonding and the problems in our society.

I found this to be a very thought and heart-provoking documentary which presents a stark view on modern childbirth in North America. I think it has the power to reach many women and to really lead to a lot of questioning of modern birth practices. As women, we should be educating ourselves about childbirth and not simply going along with the status quo, thinking that putting all our faith in our doctors is the way to ensure the best results. Cesareans, inductions, pain relief, and other interventions are all very valuable tools which have their places in emergency or medically-necessary situations, but birth is a normal and healthy process which women have been experiencing since the beginning of humanity.

The Business of Being Born can now be seen through Netflix and will be available for purchase in May. Go watch it.

28 February 2008

My kids had a fight today. It was awesome. It went something like this:

Lily: And then he said no more five and then fifteen ("Reading" books out loud to herself in the playroom.)
Nick: Lily! I found The Runaway Pumpkin Book! Do you want me to read it to you?
Lily: No! I's reading!
Nick: I'll read The Runaway Pumpkin to you!
Nick: Here, I'll read it with you. Look.
Lily: No! NOO! I reading! And then he said no more five and then fifteen.

Nick then proceeded to read The Runaway Pumpkin as loud as he could in order to drown out Lily. Lily then "read" her book as loud as she could in an effort to drown him out.

My kids. The rebels.

26 February 2008

So, you know that trait of preschoolers where they like to do the same thing over and over and over again? Yeah, Lily is thoroughly entrenched in that whole thing. Every time it's TV time she chooses Toopy and Binoo. She plays with the same baby ("I want my baby Rory!") every single day despite owning about 30 baby dolls.

The most grating of all, though, is her insistence for Veggie Tales music in the car. Now I have nothing at all against Veggie Tales themselves. Bob is amusing. Larry makes me laugh. There's nothing like the French Peas to set our whole family giggling. But the combination of a two-year-old wanting the same music during every drive and a car with speakers in the front only is enough to drive me batty.

At first we listened to Veggie Tales Worship Songs.
Although the song "Come, now is the time to worship" weirds Liam out a bit, the cd as a whole is pretty fun. The story is that there's a kid's choir whose rehearsal director can't make it for practice to Bob the tomato and Larry the cucumber step in. Larry makes a joke about how hard it is to get out of his seat belt without any hands, Bob teaches some Bible verses, and special guest Matt Redman sings a couple of songs with the kids.

By November, though, we were all (except for Lily) getting more than a little bit tired of hearing the same twelve songs over and over. While I was Christmas shopping at Blessings, I came across a Boyz In the Sink cd.

I was so excited! Now, the Boyz did a song on the Worship Songs cd, but we all thought it was a one-time deal. We had no idea that an entire band of veggies had been created on the side!

Equal to my excitement over a newly-discovered veggie band was my excitement over the prospect of having something NEW to listen to in the car. Eleven new songs? Well, technically six of them are remakes of original Veggie Tales songs, but they're pretty fantastic remakes that sound very little like the originals, none of which are on the other cd we own. The cheeseburger song is even a completely different story line so I'm not sure it can technically be considered a remake.

As I've listened to the Boyz cd fifteen thousand times, I've been struck by what a good cd it is. I will admit that I'd often like to turn it off (especially when Lily starts with the "I can't hear it. Turn it louder!") but it's not because the music is bad in a "If I have to listen to Barney laugh one more time I'm going to kill a small animal" kind of way.

I still haven't chosen my favorite, though Funky Polka is pretty darned fantastic. With Larry playing the tuba, some accordion music, and Junior squeaking out his lines, the song makes me laugh a lot. The original Moo Shoo song has always been a big hit in our house and the remake with Apollo Gourd joining in is equally as fun.

Lily's favorite, by far, has got to be the Belly Button song. With guest star Kirk Franklin, the song stops in the middle with the veggies singing "Belly button. Uh uh.". When Lily sings along it comes out as "B-button. Uh uh." Very very cute.

I'm really glad we've found some music that the whole family can enjoy, even if Lily enjoys it to an insane degree. But I guess, really, isn't that what being a two-year-old is all about?

21 February 2008

Spring is in the air. We're just a couple of weeks past our latest deep-freeze and already the snow is melting and the sun is making me think of my garden. Apparently the kids are thinking the same thing since this is what I found in my back yard yesterday morning.
Yup. They're outside in their jammies.

They went out while I wasn't looking. I was actually quite impressed that they lasted so long without coats or even socks. Lily did have an incident with some snow in her boots (that's what happens when you wear pretty boots instead of winter boots!) but she recovered fairly quickly.

This afternoon we got home from buying groceries and the sun out on the deck was very inviting. Nick took the little table and the chairs out while I made lunch. We ate sandwiches and strawberries in the sun.
Before long, the kids were down on the patio doing what kids to best: splashing in puddles!
Lily is getting quite good at splashing and was soon soaked from head to toe. Since she hadn't quite had her fill yet, she came inside and got dressed in something a little more appropriate for the activity.

I'm starting to feel like spring might actually be in sight. February, my least favorite month of the year by far, is almost over. Even though March is often far from balmy around here, it's somehow so much more bearable than even the last few days of February.

04 February 2008

So today the kids and I entered the wonderful world of lapbooking.

(If you don't know what I'm talking about, take a peek here.)

I'd heard of lapbooking before, but I didn't really have a real grasp of what it was until I came across a video this morning. Being a scrapbooking addict, I had to try it out. Nick watched the video with me and we set to work picking out a topic.

We decided to go with frogs as our first lapbook. I found some very neat printable books and Nick was quite excited as he's done his own pond study out at my parents' acreage for the past couple of years.

We started out with a few supplies: print-outs, a folder, scissors, and glue. (Note how "cool Lily" wears her hoodie.)

We cut. And we cut. And then we cut some more.

(No, Nick doesn't brush his hair. He's a homeschooler, don't you know. And the chaos in the background is the fort built out of couch cushions. Ask Liam how much he looooooves the couch cushion forts sometime.)

We also did some gluing. Lily love to be in charge of the glue stick.

Making the lapbook took up most of our day. I think it's because of the many interruptions, such as Lily's sudden burning desire to write in her workbook. She was kind enough to take a moment out for her adoring fans.

There was also the incident of the witch and the wizard invading the kitchen. Lily looks deformed in this picture but I couldn't post any of the other three I took because Nick and Lily riding the broom together looked dirty somehow. Poor kids.

As is typical in our home, the mess grew larger as the day progressed.

Check out my awesome usage of my (I mean Nick's) Usborne encyclopedias. I haven't spent all that time building up my Usborne business for nothing!
So the final picture for this entry was supposed to be a pretty little photo of the mostly-completed lapbook. The card reader on my printer, however, has developed a sudden dislike of my memory card and its light flashes red each time I ask it to upload my photos. I know, I know. I should just call Liam for help but he and Sandy Foster are sharing some quality time in the basement and I don't want to intrude.

Anyhow, imagine picture a beautiful and interactive lapbook on frogs with some blank spaces where the writing should go. Or don't, I guess, but that's not nearly as fun.

28 January 2008

Some days, I feel like I never get anything done because there's too much getting done in our home. For kicks and for your reading pleasure, I have documented and photographed the makings of my day. It's fairly typical of most days spent at home, other than the fact we didn't go outside because of the disgustingly cold weather.

And so...

8 AM - I wake up to Nick bumping me repeatedly in the back of the head. I try to ignore him as I work on getting Lily to sleep a little longer. Nick eventually wakes Liam up and goes downstairs to watch TV and eat some cereal.

8:15 - Lily is back asleep and I sneak out of bed. Liam comes upstairs to tell me that my friend Leah called to cancel our trip to the Telus World of Science because her son is sick. I'm a bit disappointed, but also greatly relieved not to have to brave the windchill of -46 with two kids.

8:30 - I eat some cereal and check my e-mails. Lily wakes up.

9 - We get dressed. The kids discover the newly-moved dress up box and try on Pokemon, witch, owl, and wizard costumes.

9:45 - Nick and Lily build card houses (well, Nick builds them and Lily wrecks them for the most part). When the furnace comes on both kids excitedly run to the vents to set up "floating cards".

10:30 - We do crafts involving bingo dabbers, paper, cardboard, and chalk.

11 - Nick loses interest in the craft and gets Liam's guitar out of the office. He experiments with strumming and the different sounds he can make by holding down different strings or letting them vibrate. He makes the music that plays when Mario gets a mushroom, and he checks on the piano to make sure he's playing the right notes. He also creates music for "Monkey Jungle", a video game he imagines would be really cool.

11:15 - I put out a plate of snack. I learn that you should not feed finger foods to a toddler who has just been bingo dabbing. I keep my fingers crossed that the blue pieces of apple and red pieces of cracker aren't toxic.

11:30 - We pull out our library books and read through a couple of books on ancient Egypt, our topic of the month. Nick relates them to various stories about Moses.

12 PM - I finally get sick of the dog hair covering everything and I enlist the kids' help to get the living room picked up. I then banish them to the couch as I vacuum so I don't run over any little toes.

(This picture, by the way, is proof that housework really can kill you.)

12:15 - I get lunch ready. Noting that the bread Liam started last night didn't actually rise at all, I resort to plan B: french fries and hot dogs. To ease my guilt over the relatively unhealthy meal, I also do up a plate of veggies and dip. Lily spends most of this time hanging around under my feet. Nick wants her to come play with him so he offers to play "Hit the Nick" with her. He knows that if she gets to hit him she'll be more likely to go and play.

(This is Liam's flat bread)

12:30 - We eat lunch. Nick talks about how the characters from Esther relate to the kings, queens, and jacks in a deck of cards. We discuss monarchies and the current British royal family. Lily does magic tricks with the cards (she flips over each one and declares it a king).

1 - I take Lily upstairs for a nap and Nick starts playing the Wii. After fifteen minutes of discussing the monkey Lily is convinced is living in our curtain, we come to the conclusion that today is not a nap day.

1:15 - Computer time for mom, Wii time for Nick, Lily is running amok.

1:17 - I get tired of Lily running amok and put on some Toopy and Beanoo on the downstairs TV.

2:30 - Lily gets tired of being alone in the basement and comes upstairs for a cup of milk and some company.

2:45 - I get Nick to turn the Wii of with (amazingly) no fighting. We all go downstairs to do laundry. The kids spend the first bit playing and Nick tapes up Lily's hand with masking tape, making her "Super Lil" who can do mega punches.

3:15 - Both kids suddenly decide that the washing machine is extremely interesting. I sit them on it and describe the various settings. Lily decides she's going to explain things too and shows Nick the setting that will "rinse your legs off". (Whatever that means)

4 - Laundry's done. I send some e-mails while the kids putz about. They get grumpy with each other so we all play with Marbleworks in the playroom.

5 - I realize that it's getting late and I re-heat some leftovers for the kids. I make the easy choice of going for an easy supper and the kids eat in the playroom while I read books to them.

5:30 - Where's Liam? I start making a casserole out of leftovers. I love my microwave.

5:45: Where's Liam? The kids are loud. I'm tired. I walk into the playroom to find that Lily's made a huge mess. I insist that they each put five things away before my head explodes.

6 - Where's Liam?

6:15 - Liam's home! The windchill of -40.9 hasn't turned him into a Dadsicle as I'd feared. He has time to get out of his outdoor stuff and pay a quick visit to the washroom before the kids are all over him. I hide in the office, hoping to get five minutes alone.

6:45 - The kids have slowed down in their "attack Dad" game and I come out of hiding. Liam finally gets to eat supper. (No, he wasn't eating the bingo dabbers. I'm just slow at cleaning.)
7 - Lily and I clean the bathroom. Lily takes a "dry bath".

7:30 - I announce that it's snack time. Nick points out that he never had his dessert he asked for at 5:30. The kids eat lollipops, the slowest dessert EVER.

8 - Snack is over. Multiple meltdowns have taken place. PJ's are donned, teeth are brushed.

8:20 - The little people are sleeping. Time to sit in front of a screen or scrapbook.

And there you have it.

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