Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mama's got a brand new....

The following exchange (which actually took place) represents how things are going for me in terms of diet and exercise this holiday season:

JTM: *rummaging in fridge looking for butter*
Me: I must have bought at least ten pounds of butter for holiday cooking and baking over the last month.
JTM: I know, I'm wearing a lot of it around my waist, AND I've even been working out!
Me: *looking down at pants that actually fit properly three weeks ago * Uh, yeah....well, I've got a new camel toe.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Filling the Hole

Laid Off - Day 35

One of the things that really surprised me after I was laid off - because I honestly had never given it much thought before - was the lack of calls and emails from my former coworkers -  Not every single one, but most of them - people I saw and spoke with every single weekday -  just completely disappeared from my life a couple of Wednesdays ago, without so much as a "good luck" or "take care".  I mean, I guess I could have done the walk of shame through the building saying goodbye to everyone - there was no security guard escorting me off the premises or anything - but I guess I didn't think I needed to - thought they'd still be in my life

Now maybe there is a lot of survivor guilt, or maybe (eeps!) they were glad to see me go.  But most likely they all just went on without skipping a beat.  Because for them, I only existed in their lives between Monday and Friday, and when I wasn't there, the space I took up in their lives just closed over or filled up with the next person.

It's a little lonely here at home sometimes, and the quiet was nearly deafening the first week or so, but really I'm not missing my workday people, or my workplace that much at all anymore. And for someone who others would say is very, very sociable, I really do dig spending hours hearing nothing but the courtyard fountain and the dog scratching himself.  I guess my hole is closing over too!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Middle School Bake Sale

So in between lunching and job hunting and spinning in circles, I've been doing a lot of holiday baking (of the "from a mix" or "five ingredients or less" variety), mostly for the various holiday concert bake sales that are an inevitable part of the December schedule for the average North American household with kids between the ages of 3 and 16.

So last night I was working the baking table at the middle school band thingy when a woman came scurrying up, quickly scanned the wares, and then executed a smooth forearm sweep of the table, including most of the stuff I'd brought (ahem! quaintly and festively bagged, tagged, and be-ribboned in single-serving portions) into her open backpack.  Shamelessly, unapologetically said "This is how I'm doing my holiday baking this year" as she handed over about $20.

I had a very brief moment of "hey that's not for YOU to pawn off as the fruit of your own efforts, lady," but then realized we were in a win-win situation here:  I help the school by doing the baking, and other people help the school by buying it.  And, bonus: I get to be all smug about my civic-mindedness and my fine, fine treats; and some other woman gets to tick another item off her already unmanageable to-do list.

And I was impressed as hell by her brazenness in letting someone else do the work for her. All this holiday business is already so overburdened with expectation and obligation, and pre-primed for a generous application of guilt and shame,  I could really learn something from people who refuse to let any of that stick to them.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Days Going Downstream

Laid Off Day 19-ish


It's alarming to me the way the days are going by. Time is dripping like water out of my hands and flowing away into a whole river of yesterdays, and making me feel like a wastrel.

It's hard to believe that it's been nearly three weeks since I stopped working, and I STILL don't have the spices alphabetized, the grout cleaned or the leaves raked up (okay listen, the leaf people aren't coming till DECEMBER 29 - I have lots of time to get that done, really I do. They aren't going anywhere, except maybe over onto the neighbours' driveways...). And I still haven't lost that "five pounds in a hurry" that I was going to get on right away (made four kinds of shortbread last week - kind of counterproductive to the weight loss effort).

The awareness of time's relentless flow only really comes when there is an abundance of it. When I am busy,  I don't worry so much about time, except that there never seems to be enough, so I just do what I can with what little I have. But now there is a big river of time before me,  and if I don't DO something real with it, it will just dribble away.

I guess that's why we're all about the to-do lists and the calendars  - anything to containerize our time - to create and preserve an illusion that we have some mastery over its inevitable flow downstream.

So today I'm going to write down a bunch of things to do, and then I'll climb out from under the duvet and actually attempt a couple of them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dreaming of Work. And Mayonnaise.

Laid Off-Day 8

So I've been feeling remarkably zen-ish about this whole layoff thing, especially now that I've got most of the paperwork out of the way.  Basically what happens is that your former employer agrees to give you some money (and my understanding is that it's generally an insultingly small amount) to go away.  Really go away.  Like, you have to sign something that says "I'll eff off and not bother you anymore, about anything, ever again.  And thanks for the minuscule amount of severance pay. I promise to tell nobody how much money you did or didn't give me to eff off."  And of course in our society it's ALWAYS personal when it comes to money. So even after what you think has to be the final insult - the actual layoff- you then have to deal with the "severance package". Another judgement, another blow to the fragile ego. And another reason to freak out about the fact that You. Don't. Have. A. Job.

But we're all sorted out now and, as promised,  I'm focusing my attention on properly effing off. Not physically, cause I've settled in fairly nicely here at home. But properly gone in my own head, which seems pretty good during the day about the whole "I don't work there anymore" thingy and the part where I threw all my in-progress projects (and hours, days, weeks of work) in the recycling as I walked out the door last Wednesday.  And the conscious me is cool with the half-jar of Hellman's Light I left in the lunchroom fridge.  And I'm only faintly irked (more puzzled actually) to learn that some random guy from some other random department is sitting at my former desk, and has assumed something vaguely resembling my former job.

But at night I've been having fever-dreams about my work. The work itself. Wanting to give it to people who refuse take it.  Being forced to hand it off and not wanting to give it up.  Trying to explain what needs to be done to people who don't understand or who won't listen. And people I only vaguely recognize are making sandwiches, filling my emptied file folders with assorted meats and cheeses, and generous dollops of reduced-fat mayonnaise (okay, I made that part up, although one particularly bizarre dream did feature tiny Scottish TV nutritionist, Gillian McKeith, in a cameo role).  Just frustration after frustration, all night long.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Part of Life's Rich Pageant Where Mary Gets Laid Off!

Laid off – Day 1

I guess this I my first “official” day of being laid off, although I did have some practice yesterday since it was Remembrance Day and everyone was off anyway. 

I’ve been preparing for this day for a while now, although part of me (the part that made, packed and brought lunch to work on Wednesday) was hanging back.  To be honest, that hanging back part was the part of me that said “who cares if you are totally miserable at work, and that the company is imploding, and that nobody has either known or cared how you were spending your workdays for months now, it would just be wrong to WANT to be laid off.  I mean, what kind of person besides a total slack-ass would hope to be let go from their job? What kind of fate-tempter would go to work on a Wednesday without a lunch, just so they didn't have to schlep it, embarassingly, back out of the building when they were escorted off the premises?” 

So it was that part of me that got out of bed this Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, put on appropriate clothes, did the hair (but did go VERY easy on the eye makeup in case of tears, of which there were none, by the way), packed the lunch, worked on the projects (meaningless or not), returned the emails and phone calls, and smiled and chatted with everyone.  And waited to see which way the axe would swing.

My way, as it turned out. And the way of 36 other of my friends and colleagues. My former employer is practically halved from what it was less than a week ago, and about 75% smaller than when I started with the company nearly four years ago (did you notice the part earlier where I mentioned “imploding”?).

So welcome to a brand new scene in Life’s Rich Pageant.  I do hope you’ll  join me as I explore the exotic new land of the unemployed.  Cause I think it might be just a little lonely here at home with just the dog for company. And I’ll be much more likely to shower, dress and brush my teeth each day; and much less likely to lace my orange juice with vodka if I think someone is watching.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Oh, BOO!

So we didn't get any Trick or Treaters last year, so this year we "only" got about 200 little chocolate bars "just in case".

They're mostly gone now.  And there haven't been any kids by (except ours, who were certainly very helpful in culling the Crispy Crunches and Mr. Bigs from the basket before they headed off to mystery venues to engage in secret activities with un-named acquaintances.)

Have spent a very large percentage of the weekend driving young people to and from party after party after party. I really dont' mind; I spent a lot of my youth feeling (rightly or wrongly) bored and lonely, so I am really happy for them that they have plenty of friends and things to do (OMG!  At one party there was an actual WEENIE ROAST! I'm totally not jealous.)  But on a weekend like this, I do feel like I've done very little but drive around and around. And eat little chocolate bars.  Lots and lots of little chocolate bars. Next year I'm making myself a chauffeur costume with a special built-in pocket for my, uh, "recycling".

On a more positive note, I hit it out of the park with the kids' Halloween costumes this year.  JP's could hardly be called a "costume" - I made him an iron-on applique of the "Fe" symbol from the Periodic Table - he was "Iron Man".  Cam went as a member of the local high school football team.  Not a lot of football in this part of the world, so the local team is somewhat of a legend-slash- object of gentle mockery from the granola-crunching-soccer-playing-hipster-douchebag youth in the neighborhood.  Anyway, I rigged up a jersey from a massive men's undershirt, some iron-on letters and acrylic paint, and it looked great.  And I got him a pair of cheap, ghetto sweats from Zellers for pants.  Then (and I'm really not sure HOW I feel about this) I sewed a cellphone pocket into the pants for him...  I could pretend that I did it to "keep him safe" but really I did it because he has a serious texting habit and I am a total enabler.


Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Once More Onto the Wagon

So the healthy eating and exercise wagon keeps driving around me and around me, waiting for me to hop back on.  Instead, I keep chugging over to the fridge to get more ice cream.
Before Thanksgiving and the quarterly MIL visit, I had it all nailed down - counting points, getting to the gym at least a couple of times a week - pointedly ignoring the bowl of jujubes at Reception (okay I don't even LIKE them, particularly.  Except last week when I could not get enough of them and looked for excuses to walk past the desk to pick up gummy black witches and orange pumpkins - what?), and I turned my nose up so nicely at the cake she schlepped all the way from Winnipeg.  I made healthy choices when we went out to eat..

And then - poof - Thanksgiving Day came and I went a little crazy.  And I've been on some sort of eating bender and exercise avoidance kick ever since.

Granted we went from a very stressful period at work, to back-to-school, to one kid's birthday, to the other kid's birthday, to Thanksgiving (which  very interestingly combined a visit from MIL with JTM completing his first half marathon). And no sooner was John's mom on the plane and the turkey carcass in the freezer, when we opened our home for a week to a lovely teenage girl from Japan.  Oh, and in the middle of all this was my doctor telling me that the "heartburn" I've been experiencing was much more likely to be gallbladder-related.  And then there were the parent-teacher interviews for both boys.  Don't even want to talk about those....

So I missed a few weigh-ins, and a lot of workouts, and I (apparently) decided to nuture myself with anything I could shove into my mouth.  Cause even after all these years, and all the self-awareness I claim to have, I still haven't grasped the concept that food is actually fuel: it's not love, it's not comfort, and it most definitely is not medicine.

But today, like all days, is a chance to make a new beginning, or to just get back to things.  So I've found an unused Weekly Tracker, slotted a visit to the gym into my schedule for the day, and I'm climbing off the crazy eating train and back on the healthy living wagon.  And I've committed to working my way up to running for 20 minutes straight by December 31st.  I was supposed to be at my goal weight by then too, but that's looking a little less likely at the moment. 

One day, soon, I want to start focusing the blog more on things other than my personal quest to lose weight and and get fit- it's really getting old!  And I have much more interesting things to share, I'm sure.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wired for Stuff

A couple of days ago I posted about learning not to consume for sport, and mentioned that I'd been redirecting my consumer impulses towards eating.

Yup, after today's weigh in (my first in three weeks, but that's another post for another day), I find that I'm up five - FIVE - freaking pounds.  Dang!  I am basically back to where I was in May.  Basically I haven't lost any weight for five months.  Amazing how I can pretend to everyone that I'm actually on the Weight Watchers program.

But enough of that - I'm back at it, starting right now.  Goal weight of 155 by December 31! It's just all getting a little old.  Yes, it's a journey and bla bla bla - but I'm sorry, it's not just a journey for its own sake - I've been in this to get to a certain weight and - damn it - I must get there before I run completely out of gas.

All the .69 cans of tuna I bought on sale at Zellers yesterday are really gonna help.  And there was a great deal on shampoo (especially since I had COUPONS) and laundry soap and juice boxes and cereal and items for Cam's birthday next weekend....

Clearly I still have a lot to learn about consuming. Realized today that learning about "enough" was a resolution for me this year. And I am  learning.  Hey, it's a journey.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Frugalista Gives Up Her Favourite Hobby

So this budget thing kind of means that I have to give up shopping as a hobby.  I realized that the other day when I was in the mall (the trashy mall I love so much that has Old Navy, Claire's, London Drugs, Winners, Zellers, Reitmans AND...a Dollar Giant "everything for $1.25" store. Shangri la for people who want to buy lots of things, cheap).  I needed to buy two items from the dollar store and then go down to the end of the mall to the grocery store for an additional two items for JPM's birthday, and I had to walk THROUGH Zellers and past every single other store to get the specific items I came for.

And it took every fibre of my being not to just stop in and see what was on sale.  Because there was nothing else planned or needed besides the items on my list.  No cute tops, or toiletries or earrings or socks or frying pans....  Just paper plates, napkins and French bread. Period.

And then I had a revelation: there are plenty of people in this world who just go out and get the stuff they need, who only shop when they actually need something.  We've been trying to be those people - not just buying stuff because it's on sale, or because it strikes our fancy, or because we MIGHT need it sometime.  I think that to rock the whole frugalista thing and to be successful on our new budget - this is what JTM and I need to get good at: being the kind of  people who acquire the things they NEED, and who don't treat shopping as a hobby.  And we will just have to fake it till we make it - cause it is going to take a long time to rewire ourselves as need-based consumers.

One issue I  keep coming up against is that the urge to consume seems to be innate; and if I shut down one channel, another one opens. In other words, I've been eating like a PIG lately.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Holding Hands

My firstborn son is fifteen years old today.  My giant, funny, clever, handsome, foulmouthed and slightly hairy boy has walked fifteen summers on this earth, and I have been his mother for pretty much the same length of time. I don't remember when, during this mother-son journey, he stopped reaching for my hand, or when I stopped trying to hold onto his.

Today, on his birthday, he told me that he thought I was probably a  pretty bad parent but I was a good person.I guess I'm okay with that.

Kind of.

It was the last Thursday in August, 1995, very early in the morning, when I felt a popping sensation, and a second later  the bed flooded with amniotic fluid, nine weeks before my due date. First in the hospital, and then at home, I fought hard to keep him safely growing and maturing inside of me for as long as possible. Of course, fighting to stay pregnant actually meant lying very quietly with no underwear on thinking optimistic thoughts, while fluid leaked out of me and other people did everything. 

Perhaps that set the tone for my current approach to parenting, because things did work out in the end.  I stayed pregnant for three more weeks, enough time for a little more growing (no kidding, he was born at 34 weeks gestation and weighed over 7 pounds!) and a couple of steroid shots to force his lungs to mature.  And with a lot of help from some fine professionals, he survived the apnea and the reflux and the jaundice and the tube feedings - and came home with us, 100% healthy and breastfeeding, when he was three weeks old.

Fifteen years later he's somehow learned to bathe and dress himself, buckle up his own seatbelt, get and keep some pretty amazing friends, play ukulele and bass and badminton, clean his room, cook eggs and ramen noodles, and sometimes even get a little homework done.  And get this: apparently he is fluent in French, though I have never heard him speak it. I guess I shouldn't be really surprised to learn this since he's been educated in French since kindergarten.  But I'm not really sure how he learned all this stuff; after all I'm the type of mom mom who was more than willing to let his daycare provider toilet train him (which she did in one day, damn her).  And I certainly didn't teach him French.

To my credit, I WAS the one (along with the dad, of course) who drove him to school and all the various lessons, and I did administer the ramen-making lessons and help him perfect all the hilarious accents and characters he entertains us with.  And I made sure that he had a decent lunch and clean underwear, and (hopefully) the security of knowing he was loved unconditionally.  And I will probably continue to do those things for as long as he wants me to.

But rides and hugs and comedy coaching aside, I do sometimes feel like he's really raised himself and found his own way so far; that all I've really done was try to keep him as safe I could while he grew and matured.  Is that the wayis with most other kids - I don't know.

But he's heading into the teenage minefield now and probably needs a  good mother more than he ever did, but we have ventured so far from the land of playground squabbles and how to boil water, and I'm completely lost. I want so badly to take his hand and guide him through this dangerous time, but honestly I'm not sure I even know which way to go.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Frugalista Goes Back to School

I think it would have been a much better idea to start working from a budget in October.  Or February. Or after the kids move out.

Here's how the back to school shopping went:
JTM: goes to Bay seventeen times - each time buys five items and returns four. All AMAZING must-have items, of course, and incredible clearance-priced at something like 99% off the lowest ticketed price. Net items purchased: about sixteen.

In his defense, he needs to look good for work (with all due respect to his scholarly colleagues, rugby pants and a pilled sweater, even it was a really good woolen one you got at Harrods back in '73, doesn't instill trust and respect in your students, cause they will judge you by your appearance, oh yes they will) and he's about five sizes smaller this year than last - there wasn't much salvageable in the back-to-school wardrobe.

Kid 2: Needs a hoodie with a proper brand name, shoes with a proper brand name, a t-shirt bearing the logo of a surf or skateboard company, ankle socks, several matching pens, a new binder that zips up, and a lunch bag that magically transforms meals of all sizes into a tiny  pellet that will fit into the smallest corner of his  (not new thank God) backpack.

Kid 1: Wonders if there is a spare binder kicking around the house somewhere, and gathers up a pitiful handful of eraser-less pencil-ends and schwag pens that may or may not work. Oh, but soandso and whatshisname and someotherguy want to stay for dinner again tonight. Man teen boys can hoover it up - we should just feed them platefuls of five-dollar bills.

And all the menfolk needed haircuts. Oh, and bus passes.  Did I mention bus passes?

But we managed somehow, and we're all fresh-scrubbed, neatly trimmed and off to school with our various new and used back-to-school costumes and paraphenalia.

And then the forms come home - about a dozen forms per kid, and each form is asking for money: deposits for books and locks, activity fees, lunch programs, band uniforms, teachers mental health fund contribution, composting fee, fee collection handling fee, and so on.

So there I was in the grocery store last night, trying to decide between mayonnaise and tuna, heart breaking for people who have to make these decisions each and every day.  How stressful must it be for many families to get their kids ready to go back to school each fall.  It's a time that should be so exciting and hopeful, when everyone should get to make a fresh start on a level playing field.  And it's just not that way.

P.S. I absolutely did not forget about myself.  I got this fall's must-have items: a purple sweater and a skinny belt, and a bang trim.  I'm all set!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Viva la Frugalista!

Here's a little unsolicited financial advice from me to anyone who stumbles upon this: don't get a Phd using credit cards.  Okay? Just really don't.  Oh, and read that again, because it said P.H.D. not iPod (I know, they look almost the same right?  Except one of them costs, like a million dollars and the other one you could probably buy with your birthday money plus six months worth of wine bottle deposits.  Not that you would have to buy a new iPod that way.  Unless, of course, you lost it on vacation or something like that....)

So that being said, it's time for me and the Good Doctor go get our financial house in order once and for all.  And the only way to do that is to apply ourselves with the utmost of rigor, to getting rid of high interest, nonsecured debt, by spending less money on incidentals like food, shelter and clothing, and giving much, much more to MasterCard each month.

So we put together a new, very stringent "use cash only" household budget and went at it.  For about fifteen minutes.  That's when the 12 year old HAD to have new shoes, and five extra people showed up for dinner, and the car needed a brake job. Immediately.

So back to the drawing board.  Next thing we did was go through an exercise called "What Stuff REALLY Costs and How Much of it Do We Need.  Turns out that the basics, not even including the good coffee and wine and olives and baguettes, or goat cheese or bath bombs from Lush, were going to cost far more than we'd budgeted.  We pay a premium on everything, and I mean EVERYTHING living here in paradise.  It doesn't seem like  a big deal to pay .15 extra for a can of Campbell's Chicken Noodle, but it adds up bigtime!  Once we figured out What Stuff REALLY Costs and How Much of it Do We Need, we revised our plan again to make sure we had enough money for the 50 litres of milk, 10 dozen eggs, 10 rolls of toilet paper, etc., that we need each month.

It's going to take a lot of self-discipline, but we'll get there. Here's what I learned this week: sunflower seeds cost half what walnuts cost, and pine nuts cost more than twice what walnuts cost. But, after the Frugalista Pesto Taste-off, I can confirm that any of the above used to make a decent pesto (though we all thought that pine nuts were the best, followed by walnuts and then seeds, but all were good).
Spaghetti with pesto image stolen shamelessly from the worldwide web. We were too busy chowing down to figure out the food-porn settings on the camera and take pictures of our dinner
   This weekend we are doing back to school shopping with a list and a budget, and I'm thinking of making some cloth napkins. Film at eleven.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This is what 46 looks like!


A great big Happy 46th birthday to ME!  It was a lovely day.  John and I took a drive out to French Beach where (because I promised myself I would) I actually went in the painfully cold water, and here's the proof!

What a good sport I am!
Hard to run when you can't feel your legs

Aaaah, that's better!

Now this isn't something I ever, and I mean EVER, thought I would say about myself, but damn I look great in my bathing suit - yes there's some saggage, some cellulite, a varicose vein here and there, and a lot of stretchmarks - hey, I'm a 46 year old mother of two with bad genes, who has battled obesity her whole adult life.  What a great gift I have given myself this year: a body I feel really comfortable in for the first time in my life - a body I'm just a little bit proud of.

Anywhoo, after the beach, it was family dinner with the lads, the now-annual trip to Dairy Queen for Blizzards in lieu of cake, a drive down to Clover Point to watch the sunset...

 I managed to squeeze in a few squeezes!
To finish off the evening, we drove up Mount Tolmie to see the city lights. Cam took some cool pictures.


It was a perfect day, all engineered and executed by my favourite guy. I couldn't imagine a more excellent way to celebrate. Thanks JTM!













Thursday, August 19, 2010

How I Spent My Summer Holidays

So after what might have been the worst work day ever, I figure the best therapy will be to spend some time reflecting on my "real" life.But seriously.  I am the worst blogger ever.  I've been home for, like, two weeks now.  I've even already lost most of the weight I gained on vacation (almost but not quite - just wait 160s, I'll be back soon!).

I took the lads back to Winnipeg for a very long (12 days) week's holiday. Like all trips to Winnipeg, it didn't feel like the break we all hope to have on holidays. My parents, where we stayed: well, they are getting pretty old and that can be a real challenge, especially with the teen boys. And the emotional side - it's so hard. Things are just not the way they used to be, and that becomes more apparent with every visit. I love them so much; it breaks my heart to see them struggle the way they do.

All that maudlin business aside, it was so wonderful to be home again, nestled back in the bosom of friends and family - people who've known me forever and ever.  We can so easily just pick up where we left off.

I spent an amazing time with my very best, oldest friend, Sue, at the lake - I will never forget the morning we got up before the kids and headed out into the middle of the lake on the Seadoo, sat on the quiet morning water with trees and cliffs all around us, and just talked about our lives.  And I reconnected with my cousin and his family - Ian is one of my favourite people of all time and I feel privileged to be related to him. I saw my old pals, Megan and Lianne: super-high-powered chicks with MBAs, professional pedicures, and handbags to envy, and I love them so much (the women, not the bags, although EVERYONE in Winnipeg has LUG bags of various shapes and sizes and fun colours, and my sister, Sue treated me to a Green Moped bag for my birthday.  And yes, I do love it.  But not as much as I love my friends).And like we do every time I visit, we gorged on amazing sushi. When I say gorged I'm not exaggeating - I mean who gets major heartburn and needs gallons of Maalox after Sushi (*raises hand sheepishly*). But it was spectacular (Wasabi Sabi next to La Grotta, Winnipeg people- check it out!)

My sisters, what can I say - on the surface they are about as alike as...uh...two things that are not very much alike.I finally had a chance to visit Liz and her partner Henry at their little farm (drove for nearly two hours on minor highways with sheets of rain coming down all around - both ways!). What an amazing place, crazy, cobbled-together, hand-me-down house complete with "humanure" toilet, surrounded by forest and bush, with enough land cleared to keep some pigs, chickens and grow more than enough herbs and vegetables to sustain them through the winter. All organic, of course.

We ate one of their chickens, served up with green and yellow beans picked by me just before dinner, and their very own potatoes, also freshly harvested by Henry, barefoot and shirtless in the potato patch.  It was a great eye-opener for the lads to see, and then taste, the fruits of Liz and Henry's labours. And I was inspired and shamed - I got six whole tomato plants in this year, and three basil. So glad we finally got out there; it was totally worth the white-knuckle drive.

Here are some pictures Cam took at the farm:

Sue's new place, which she and Rick were in the middle of moving into while we were visiting, was the polar opposite of Liz's.  Every detail thought out. Perfect in every way (except the new kitchen floor that just wasn't working, and that would be replaced just as soon as they could get the flooring guys back in).  Just like at Liz's, it was so fascinating to see all the familiar objects that they'd each collected over the years in new and different environments, and to see, reflected in their homes, how their lives had evolved over the years. Kind of like how my family must see me and my stuff when they visit here.  The same, only so different.

Winnipeg really felt like home this time, even though I barely saw any of the city - I seriously did not get downtown even once - my trips though town were routes I've taken time and time again over the years, first as someone who lived there, and then as a visitor.  To Safeway - the grocery store of my childhood - the first time I walked from the sunbleached parking lot into the overly air-conditioned store this visit, a wave of nostalgia washed over me that was so strong, I had to fight back tears.  And the Pancake House - it's moved from the Polo Park parking lot into the new hotel across the street, but their Giant Apple Pancake is exactly the same as it was 35 years ago.  And Perkins still sucks. And Nick's in Headlingly still doesn't (though we recommend it for breakfast moreso than lunch). And Dad Meldrum's ashes are still sitting safe in their niche in the Catholic mausoleum. And the Winnipeg Blue Bombers can still put on a good show.

But lest we forget the closest destination of all: the pool in my parents' back yard, still my ultimate happy place.  Visions of myself floating around in that turquoise water, or skinny dipping with my mom (OMG, don't tell anyone!), have gotten me through more than one root canal and pap smear over the years - THAT's how happy of a place it is!  Here's a picture of my mom going down the slide.  She does this every year around her birthday, even though she's in her 80s!

And all the places and things - yes they brought back memories and it felt so good to wallow in the familiarity of it all.  But really what felt like home was the connectedness I felt to everyone - the sense of belonging I had when I was with my family and friends.  I love Victoria passionately, and it felt so great to get back here after Winnipeg- I mean, this is the most brilliant place on earth - every day I see something here that lifts my soul - but really we are alone here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Words to live by

 Cam took this of me at Vancouver Island Tech Park a few weeks ago during the Canary Derby:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Birthday Card

My husband is lying beside me in bed, just winding down after a low key but very nice Father's Day - after brunch and loot, he had an epic bike ride while I cut down (very small) shrubs and moved around some dirt to make a small courtyard kitchen garden of herbs and heirloom tomatoes for him. We met for coffee at the end of his ride and I drove him home to watch golf. And then the four of us had a really amazing dinner of carnitas - it's become my specialty (you'd have to be a complete fool to ruin a pork shoulder!).

And in a few hours he'll be celebrating his birthday - the big 45 - the beginning of the year in which he plans to get into the best shape of his life. After a real eating and exercise push over the last few months ("preseason training" he called it: swore off booze, dabbled in the gluten-free and vegetarian lifestyle and started RUNNING), he now tips the scale at 100 pounds less than he did eight years ago. Since that time back in Winnipeg when we were both at rock bottom physically and emotionally, it's been a very slow up-and-down journey to both physical and mental health, but we are both well on our way.(note: image shown here is of a sugar, fat and gluten-free organic birthday cake lit with low-carbon soy candles)

Eight years ago my husband was a stressed out, obese, pasty-faced single-malt-drinking white-collar type who wore very nice suits and dealt with stress by hitting the drive-through on his way home for dinner (or on his way home FROM dinner on the many nights he had a business event.)  And on really bad days, by hiding under a duvet. We didn't see much of him, and there wasn't much left of him by the time he did make it home - life was a little on the toxic side back then, for all of us.

But decisions were made, big ones - game-changers. Eight years, five moves, thousands of kilometers, plenty of debt, one PhD and a hundred pounds later, it's all different.

I don't even think I'd recognize that other guy today - the very handsome, sexy man I live with now and love with all my heart has what can only be accurately described as bright eyes and a shiny coat. He dresses like a well-groomed surfer/recreation professor because that's who he is now - last time he wore a suit was my office Christmas party six months ago. He's not fat, not at all! He deals with stress on his bicycle, or on the footpath (only occasionally climbing right into a bottle of decent red wine - okay his mother was visiting and I was on the warpath, and there is only so much that exercise endorphins can do in a situation like that).

And he is very much present in all of our lives.

He eats local "this" and organic "that" - going out to the farmer's markets on Saturdays and bringing home food he bought from the people who grew or made it. He doesn't "do" McDonald's - ever- anymore. Last week he got cranky because he didn't get out to buy his weekly bag of sprouted seeds from these hippie guys at the Moss Street Market. What?

And he is setting a fine example for me, for our boys and for his students. He is living proof that people CAN change who they are. It has taken an incredible effort over the years, months, days. A lot of saying "no" to some things and "yes" to others. "Yes" to himself, to me and to our family. "No" to other people's expectations of who he's supposed to be. And the most resounding "no" to the voice inside him, the voice of generations of his fatalistic Scottish ancestors saying over and over that we cannot help who we are, and that we are powerless to change. No to that, just no.

This blog post is my birthday card for him.  I could have bought or made a card,  but I am so proud that I want EVERYONE to know just what he's achieved.  And he's only just begun.

Happy Birthday Bear! Whatever you need from me to achieve your "45th Year" goals, I'm with you all the way.

Love,
Mary

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday Bloody Thursday

I went over to the local hospital today (nestled in the midst of a tall evergreen forest - so Vancouver Island) for what was supposed to be a fairly routine CT Scan - FYI a CT angiogram actually (just to make sure I wasn't going to be felled anytime soon by a great big brain aneurysm like my old dad).

So they have to start an IV so they can shoot in some sort of contrast, really quickly, at high pressure, while they are taking the special pictures - a whole lot of little slices that get reassembled into a 3d rendering of the blood vessels in my brain.

First they couldn’t get an IV going (scaredy cats - wouldn't even TRY. Said my veins were too tiny and deep) so they had to call in the “IV TEAM” – picture a bunch of nurses running down the hall pushing a cart full of medical supplies ahead of them - okay actually it was a single nurse wearing a fleece and cargo pants (again with the Vancouver Island thing), meandering in at her leisure . Anyway the “IV TEAM” got the line going and I was finally able to settle in for the test. I was advised that I might have a “warm, flushed feeling” and even possibly the sensation of “wetting myself” – but was reassured that NOBODY, EVER had actually wet themselves on the table (foreshadowing here).

So I’m lying very still during the test, waiting for that “warm flushed” feeling when they inject the dye into the IV line at very high pressure. Instead get a “cold wet” sensation along my arm , waist and hip, radiating down toward my bum. I lie perfectly still – assuming this must just be my way of responding to the IV, but kinda wondering if something has gone terribly wrong. And then of course thinking that pretty much EVERYONE getting this test has a moment of alarm when the dye goes in - because the feeling is so out of context....

But no – the cold wet feeling is NOT what I should have expected. In fact, the high pressure, large bore IV injector thingy had blown open and soaked me, the back side of my WHITE jeans (aaaargh), my very cute mostly-whiteJoe Fresh tunic (and my bra and underpants -okay beige, but still!) with a mixture of blood and IV fluid….It looked like a murder scene.

So they ended up having to fix up the IV, mop me up enough to continue the test, and then give me hospital clothes to wear home because my clothes were completely soaked with blood. I'm probably one of the only patients ever who went home from a CT scan with her clothes in a "patient belongings" bag. I think the folks in the imaging department felt pretty bad about what happened, but I assured them that being 45 years old, this was absolutely not the first time I'd gotten blood stains on a pair of white pants. (All the stains washed out with a good soak in cold water and Oxyclean, by the way).

And of course all this happened on an empty stomach because I was on clear fluids before the test. Oh my - I did not feel so well when I got home, especially when I realized that my underthings were actually STUCK to my body with dried blood and medical chemicals and I had to shower to get all the gore off me. Let's just hope this is the end of this, and I don't get a great big serving of brain aneurysm, AVM or tumour to go along with today's ick.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Oh! Oh! Oh! (about this running business)

Totally forgot to mention this last night: JTM told me he thought I was probably running too fast after he followed me while wearing his fancy Garmin GPS (swear he SHOWERS with that thing on: "Hey I logged .000001 of a mile this morning AND deep conditioned my hair!).  Says to slow waaaaay down.  And I was reading a bit about lactic acid, and the anaerobic threshold, and thought it might be time to stop sneaking peeks at the other treadmills and just do my own thing - not worrying if my running pace is slower than the next person's walking pace.

And sure enough: it was lactic acid all along  - not asthma - not a bum ticker - just the big bonk coming way too soon!  So when I slow down to 4.1, or 4.2 mph, I can pretty much avoid it all together.  Now only plain old ordinary fatigue is what slows me down.  I ran for ten, yes TEN minutes without stopping the other day.  Woot!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Almost (but not quite) Summer

So here we are in June - hard to believe how long it's been since I last posted. May was a very up-and-down (or more like down-and-up) month.  Early on, I found myself very focused, both on the eating and the exercise, trying to keep my attention focused away from incredibly stressful waiting for biopsy results (but YAY, YAY, YAY! I don't have thyroid cancer!!!).  And then a weird downer that should have been crazy relief and dancing-for-joy, but after holding my breath for two long weeks, I just felt deflated (and perhaps a little oxygen-deprived).

And then John's mom showed up for her quarterly visit - always stressful - always a disruption to the routine.  And always, always an extraordinary challenge for me when it comes to food and eating.  First there's the giant suitcase o' junk food, then there's the eating out, and finally there's the part where I medicate the mother-in-law visit stress, frustration, incredulousness, etc., with the aforementioned suitcase contents.And I never seem to get much better at dealing with it.

So I'm up a few pounds in the last two weeks - back up to 173.  And that's okay - I can own that.  Some new woman working the scale at Weight Watchers tonight looked at me and said, ever-so-earnestly, "How can we help you?"  And my response was equally earnest, "You help just by being here."  So corny, but so true.  I really do lose my way when I don't show up for Weight Watchers meetings.


Oh yeah, go me- TOOT! TOOT! It was Bike to Work Week last week, and I made the 13 km round trip three times on my GREAT new bike.  Such a difference to be lighter, both me AND my wheels.  And I hit the gym twice last week too.  I gave my Bike to Work t-shirt to Cam; he rode EVERY day - so proud of him!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

No Child Left Behind

We've been really focused, jmeldrum and me, on our individual quests - and we've completely turned it around over the last year or so.  John is pretty close to his pre-wedding weight and running like a Kenyan.  And he's overhauled the diet in a big way, with sprouted this and gluten-free that, and a helluva lot less beer and wine.  I've been Weight Watchering away for well over a year - down from an 18 to a 14, and I'm a regular at the gym.

But we've left the offspring in our dust - not force feeding them our rice cakes and kelp broth or dragging them out for pre-dawn wind sprints. "They" are always saying to put on our own oxygen masks first - take care of ourselves so we can take care of others.  And I think I'm there now - I've got it all mostly in hand, so now the youngest lad is along for the ride: walking the dog with his dad in the morning, and sneaking into the gym with me.  And we're working on bringing the eating into line - the hardest thing, really, for a 12 year old.  I mean, these guys live in the land of Doritos and Vanilla Bean Frappucinos... 

This is not an easy thing.  Every day the kid needs to make choices - and they aren't easy ones to make, especially when he's surrounded by thin, athletically gifted friends who seem to eat and drink whatever they want, whenever they please, and STILL shop in the boys department!  And every day, there's the comfy couch and the tv and the Xbox waiting after school.  And we think to ourselves "just get out there and be a kid, for God's sake - and the rest will take care of itself!"  But it doesn't.  Because yes it's simple but it's also hard as hell.  So he's coming along with us.  And I am totally cool with that.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Once a (Non) Runner

It's getting personal with me and those Precor treadmills - they are like Gillian - FORCING the two minutes of uninterruped running, rather than the more nurturing Life Fitness treadmill - aka "Bob" - who lets me work at my own pace.  Anyway, if I want to be a runner (and when the hell did I decide THAT was a goal anyway?) I need to run, and occasionally that means being forced to.

So I'm hopping on the Precor and pounding it out - two minutes at a time, aiming for 2 miles in 30 minutes - and I can actually do it! Last night I had to jack the treadmill up to 6.0 mph at one point to make my split time....now THAT was a whole new level of discomfort, but it made everything else seem like meandering.  And I'm sure that's what caused me to fall asleep in the bathtub an hour later.

Interesting characters at the gym yesterday: Unitard Woman was there again, more appropriately attired in a singlet, shorts and do-rag busily working through her man-pushups and scribbling notes in her log book.  The Woman With the Goofy Pigtails Who's Always There - well of course she was there! And no workout at the community rec centre would be complete without Street Clothes Guy.  Last night's version was wearing a golf shirt, good jeans and lace-up oxfords - he tried out EVERY piece of cardio equipment - when we were driving away I actually saw him jogging on the treadmill in his dress shoes. And there was this sweet chubby older woman waging her own war with the Precor beside me - a dead ringer for the mother in law complete with long silver ponytail - chugging along at about 2.5 mph, towel draped optimistically around her shoulders.  Go Grandma!

I worked really hard last night and, funny thing, the harder I worked, the harder I WANTED to work - because it just felt so damn good. Still got a lot on my mind (hopefully to be settled soon) so it's really good focus on the body...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Nope, not a treatise about the joys (and sorrows) of motherhood, though I've certainly had my share; and not a reflection on my special day - although the day and the entire weekend were exemplary, and I'm still choked that the kids, 12 and 14, actually sat down and MADE me cards...

Nope, it's about the white jeans, and about eating much less food.

So I did get into the jeans for Mother's Day, but they didn't really fit - they looked AWFUL- made me look like a fat old prostitute!  John said they never would fit - cause there is a difference between "not fitting" "ill fitting", and those jeans are the latter - too low in the rise, too big in the waist - things that will only get worse. So I'm calling it a victory, but I'm gonna have to set the pants aside and look for a new pair of white victory jeans.

Yeah, so eating less - it's a good idea if weight loss is what you're after. I started counting points again this week - I only get 22 now - YIKES!  and it's been a real challenge to fuel the body properly with that amount of food.  But absolutely doable, and the weight is coming off - I actually saw 171 on the scale this morning, even after last night's lovely steak dinner (I counted EVERYTHING!).   We'll have to see what the official Weight Watchers weigh in brings tomorrow, but I'm totally stoked to stick with it for at least another few weeks and get down into the 160s before the month is through.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hello again Gym!

Reacquainted myself with the gym tonight.  The Precor treadmills (Precor, you suck!!!) don't let you toggle on the interval setting - it's just two minutes of "this" followed by two minutes of "that", and I went for it.  Walk-ran in two-minute intervals for over fifteen minutes  - got the heart rate up to nearly 170 by the third running interval.  And it felt so very good and painful and cathartic.

So good to push my body today - I have so much on my mind - so many thoughts crowding my head right now - it was nice to focus on the physical and just let those thoughts go where they may.  And whatever my future holds, I want to go forward as fit, healthy and  pulled-together as I can be.

Boot Camp Comes to a Less Than Spectacular Finish

How easily it can all come off the rails - something I've learned the hard way, and KEEP learning the hard way.  Always the hard way, over and over again.

Well April Boot Camp wasn't a huge success - despite the big 10K event that I was all ablog about - I really didn't spend much time at the gym, or out walking - and the eating was just a little out of control.  Admittedly there was a lot going on at work and home- I didn't even make it to Weight Watchers last week, but seriously that's no excuse.  I have to just own this.

Here's the tale of the tape:
Chest 40
Waist 36
Hips 44.5
Thigh 25
Weight 176
If there was any progress, I'd have to describe it as "glacier-like".  Note  the new "wider" jeans image.  Interesting, I pretty much doubled the width of the image and that body is STILL hot in those pants. A lesson to be learned.
But it's May now, a brand new month and time for a brand new challenge. JTM asked me this morning (after informing me that today was NOT the last day of April, but rather the FIRST day of May - I'm posting this a few days late) what my goal for May was.  I quickly made some silly story up about eating less and exercising more, whereupon he reminded me that those weren't actually GOALS.  I'm doing those things: eating less and exercising more, under the super-contrived theme for the month of  "May, More or Less" - but my actual GOAL is to weigh the same as I did at the end of May 2003, when I rocked the scale at 168.  That, and wear those white jeans out to the premiere of Sex and the City 2, at the the end of the month - cause I don't think I'll be striding around in them next weekend  (Man, Mother's day is damn early this year!)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

(Almost) Rockin' the TC 10K

I'm hurting just a little from Sunday's big race, the TC 10K, one of the biggest runs in the country. this year over 13,000 people registered with over 11,000 finishing.  My ranking?  9,080 - I actually made it into the top 10,000!  I finished in 1:40:34, beating my previous best finish by nearly 17 minutes, but missing my goal time by a mere 34 seconds.  No pee breaks to blame this time - I stuck to one small pre-race coffee, but I think I lost some valuable time manoeuvering my long-sleeved shirt out from under my short-sleeved shirt a la 13-year-old girl, at around the 7 km mark.

And there was the iPod incident.  After spending over an hour on Saturday night creating the perfect 2 hour walk-run playlist, I left the pod on overnight and the battery was dead when I went to turn it on at the starting line.

Disaster - I'd told JTM the night before that I could probably crawl across the finish line with a compound fracture, but that I wouldn't make it without tunes. Anyway, a frantic call home had JTM barrelling back downtown with his own iPod, madly making me an "on the go" playlist at stoplights.  He met me at the corner of Cook and Dallas Road, at the 3 km mark, with a hug and a kiss and the all important music machine.  And that, people is why I am married!

Once I got going again, I made it my mission to not let these two old grannies pass me - one was marching along in full workout gear, complete with fanny pack water bottle holder. And the other one (part of a different group) was wearing an irritating puffy white hat.  And they were NOT going to pass me - (okay more than five or six times) - nor was the woman wearing jeans and cheap sandals, her timing chip flapping in very "Eff you, I'm just out for a stroll" way.  And there was no way anyone with nordic wallking poles was getting past me, or any very old people, or very small children.  Or (and I'm being really honest here) anyone that looked bigger than I used to be.

Now if that were really the case - if I really didn't let those people get by me, I would have placed much higher in the race.  But it turns out I'm a really slow walker.  Really slow.  Because I'm - well- much fitter and healthier than before - but that doesn't mean I'm actually fit and healthy.  Not at all.

Still I'm proud of my accomplishment, even if I have much, much further to travel.  Onward!Where's Mary?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Boot Camp Week 3 Results (or D'oh!)

So I had one of those crazy AHA moments yesterday - I've lost 40 pounds, right?  So it would make some sense that I probably don't need to take in as many calories as I did when I weighed 215, especially since I'm TRYING (with apologies to Yoda) to lose more weight.  But I haven't been eating less - have been chowing down merrily, and rightously beaking off to anyone within earshot about what an extraordinary Weight Watcher I am.

What a crock!  Once again, I'm calling myself out as a fraud.  If I were doing the "point counting" thing, instead of the "Simply Filling" thing, sure as God made little green apples, I'd be taking in a helluva a lot less food each day.  Next week that's the plan.  No more "eating till you're satisfied"...I may NEVER be satisfied - so starting Monday I'm eating just enough, and counting points again.  Mother's day is coming and I'm determined to celebrate in those Size 12 white jeans - with NO camel toe.  Or sausage thighs. Or muffin top. Man I could go for a sausage mcmuffin right now.  Or a Camel!

Anyway, my stats reflect my efforts this week.  One lousy trip to the gym - yeah I've been "tapering" for the big race tomorrow - and enough excess food to keep the dial on the scale pinned firmly in the mid-170s.

Chest  40
Waist 35
Hips 45
Thigh 25
Weight (174-176 fluctuating)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Boot Camp Week 2 Results

I've been workin' it all week long and the results are beginning to show, at least on the scale!  And I tried the pants on.  I could get them all the way on and zipped, but there was a major camel toe situation.  So I'll try again in a week.

Here are my stats today:

Chest: 39"
Waist 36
Hips 45.5
Thigh (left) 25
Weight 173




Just a little over a week till the TC10K - I'm stoked about doing the course again so much lighter and with better shoes!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I AM the Stairmaster!

So I was at the gym last night, treadmilling away in silence (Damn you, iPod!), giving the whale eye to the behemoth StairMaster beside me, as always.  Nobody ever goes on that thing, EVER - it's just too scary!  Once I saw the gym attendant flick a towel at it and then run away and hide behind the rack of kettle bells....that's how intimidating this thing is.

But I'm on a mission to get stronger legs now that I've clued into the fact that weak legs are what's holding me back in the running department (Sunday's incredibly painful but mercifully brief bike ride put THAT piece of the puzzle firmly into place - I thought cycling would be a breeze now that I'm nearly 40 pounds lighter and have an awesome new bike.  But no.  An epic struggle.). So I swallowed my fear, mounted that big beast, gave it a good dusting (did I mention nobody goes on it?) and pounded out 20 stories in 6.5 minutes.  Pow!

That's right, I AM the Stairmaster, baby!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Workin' it at Work

Not time for a bootcamp update but Woot! Woot! for me.  I was down another 2.5 lbs at Weight Watchers weigh-in last night.  The meeting was about tracking our progress in various ways and I had a chance to reflect on the changes in me - the person I am becoming.  I've been at this a long while, long enough that I really identify more as someone who makes healthy choices than one who needs to constantly be led.  And that feels pretty freaking good.

I had to lay on some food for some work events this week, and I made sure that above and beyond all the sandwiches and muffins and cookies, etc., there was also fruit and vegetables available - I honestly did it for myself, but really it was good for everyone. 

We're pretty good here at work most of the time anyway; there is always milk in the fridge and apples and bananas for the taking, and a bike room, and showers, and twice-weekly boot camp, and softball, and yoga, and incentives to choose a "green commute" and nobody bats an eyeleash when you show up for a 1:00 pm meeting all sweaty and wearing spandex...it's pretty cool, actually. Perhaps typical of the West Coast, or of 2010,  I don't know.  But as a transplanted prairie girl I dig it - it's so much easier to live the green and healthy lifestyle when you have a workplace that nurtures it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Vanquished?

Okay maybe, hopefully we're over this rat thing, but my eyes still dart around the room, every room, pretty much constantly, and I'm sitting with my feet up on the couch. Our lovely exterminator trapped an adult rat in the basement last Thursday, which may have been the cause of the young, possibly orphaned, rats running around the living room and tv room all day and night on Easter Sunday, with CAM and JTM in hot pursuit, Wrangler cowering on the loveseat, and me hiding in the bathroom Tweeting updates.  JPM chose to ignore the whole situation.

We thought there was just one, but it was two of the almost cute little fellas (yes, I saw them) who found their way into the cardboard box trap that JTM rigged up, and possibly a third lured into the peanut-butter-and-grocery-bag trap, also cunningly put together by my surprisingly brave, resourceful and creative domestic partner and his valiant young apprentice.  Easter was less than relaxing, what with these short-eared, long-tailed rodent(s) leaving their little brown deposits - we really would have much preferred long-eared rodents bearing chocolate eggs, thank you very much.

Just after the weekend our rat guy found another adult in a basement trap, and today there were none inside but two out in the shed - nice "healthy adults" he said.  Oh thank God they were healthy when they died!  And thank God they were outside in the shed! Shed I can kind of handle.

But there's this funny scratching noise we thought we heard in the wall between the master bedroom and bathroom, so more traps went down in the courtyard where there might be access to the master bathroom plumbing.  EEEW!  Hopefully nothing will gnaw its way through the wall while we sleep.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bootcamp Week 1 Results

So I'm a week into the April bootcamp in which I plan to lose massive amounts of weight and inches, and the results are less than spectacular.  I'm down a whole pound to 176, and the measurements are just wonky: 41, 37, 46.  Basically everythings half an inch bigger than a week ago.  PFFFT!  I can't expect real results if I don't put in real effort.  I feel like I'm back on track now - three days properly following Weight Watchers, and I'm 3 for 3 in excercise (twice to gym and a big walk yesterday).  Admittedly it was a rough week last week: we weren't sleeping much on account of the rats, and suddenly there was chocolate and hollandaise sauce everywhere due to it being Easter and all.  And the weather SUCKED!  But all that is past me now and I'm moving on.

What I cannot figure out is why it's so damned hard to RUN!  I feel like I've been working away at it for MONTHS and I seem to make no progress - I still cannot get much past the two minute mark without bonking - heartrate in the 170s, gasping for air, legs failing me.  I look around me at other people on the treadmills: old, young, svelte, chubby, whatever, and they seem to just glide along at a 5 or 6 mph, whereas it's an epic struggle for me.  I had the asthma test a few weeks ago, in hopes that we'd discover that a few puffs of the inhaler was all that's been standing between me and my running career all this time.  But no, just some very, very vague hint that there might be some very, very mild something (or nothing at all).  The doc seemed to think we could leave it at that. 

And so it goes, going nowhere two minutes at a time.  On the plus side (cause there just always has to be one), I know that the exercise is helping me lose weight and improving my health and fitness level, even I'm not seeming to much better at running.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Boot Camp: epic fail (so far)

Today is not an official  "April Boot Camp Report," but I just need to put this out there.

Here's my my Boot Camp progress to date:
  1. Avoid gym completely
  2. Eat a lot of chocolate (oh man, it's EVERYWHERE at this time of year), especially before breakfast and between meals
  3. Find various ways to avoid exercise of any kind (the basement decluttering is forging ahead again anyway, and I've been BLOGGING, too!)
  4. Take second helpings of anything and everything
  5. Make hollandaise sauce "for the kids" and eat it directly from the pan
  6. Go for a pedicure
  7. Eat a wide variety of foods after 10:00 pm nightly

Yup, I'm really rocking it!

This egg totally makes my ass look fat!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Some Other Rodent in Charge of Easter This Year

Rats have hijacked my Easter!  Not safe to have the annual chocolate hunt, and all the Eastery stuff is in the scary rat closet with the big rat trap and small rat turds (fresh ones in the doorway this morning - so much for our hope that there was just the one.) JTM pointed out today that we share our home with spiders and insects of all varieties (there are PLENTY here!), and that we have all kinds of fish swimming around pretty much at floor level (our house is built around a fully-enclosed courtyard with a pond taking up most of it - you can actually walk out a set of sliding doors in the authentic tatami room and step right into it, or cross a charming little bridge to a small sitting area, shaded by a Japanese maple that threatens to grow right into the house - it's all very Japanese and charming and not at all "us", and we LOVE it!).  At least, he pointed out, rats are mammals unlike the other creatures that hang out in such close proximity.

But koi would not trash my Easter quite the way the bunnies' plague-bearing cousins have.  This year I have to present the children's treats to them in some sort of impervious metal container, like a safe deposit box or something the bomb squad uses when they want to detonate something. Just, you know, to be on the safe side. I dont' know if rodents like chocolate generally, but it HAS to be more appealing than fish food to a fellow mammal, and they've eaten all that already.

a fish would not do this to a rabbit, no way!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Boot Camp Starts Now!

April Freaking Fools! Somehow I managed to convince myself that I was losing weight, when the truth is  I am actually up about five pounds since Christmastime.  How dare I pass myself off as a successful Weight Watcher!

So with the goal of wearing the pair of kick-ass white hiphugger jeans I got last year (size 12, a size I've NEVER been - I went straight from girls' 14 to ladies' 14) to celebrate Mother's Day this year (Oh yes, I've got BIG plans to stain them with barbeque sauce and red wine), today I begin a month-long diet and fitness boot camp. 

Here are my stats today:
  • Chest: 40"
  • Waist 36.5
  • Hips 45.5
  • Thigh (left) 25
  • Weight 177
By month's end my weight should be in the 160's and I should be an inch and a half smaller in the chest and hips, and three inches smaller in the waist. I'll let the thighs do what they will.

I'll post my progress each week and talk about the things I've been doing (or not doing).  On the 22nd of this month is the TC 10k, which I've walked the last two years.  This year I plan to run at least part of it, a minute at a time, and finish in 1:40, so I'll need to do quite a bit more walk-running over the next few weeks.  10k is actually a bit of a distance and, even though I've done it twice with little or no training, I really took it at a leisurely pace, finishing in 2:13 my first time and 1:57 last year.  This year will be different - I'll be doing more than just challenging myself to get across the finish line, and getting ready for that should be good for a pound or an inch (or two)!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oh, Rats!

So yesterday morning while we were on our way to work, I suddenly got this terrible crawling sensation, like there was something running up my leg.  THAT's what I get for wearing pantyhose for the first time in a year - it was actually my tight, spandex stocking laddering its way up my thigh!

But it turned out to be an omen, a harbinger (since I've ALWAYS wanted an excuse to use that word.) Before the day was through JTM had called me to say that "something" had been eating the fish food and leaving small black turds in the corner of the tatami room.

Well, some gals have their hairstylist on speed-dial, I've got an exterminator.  Gordon, the rodent-whisperer, met us at the house and delivered the prognosis with all the gentleness of a kindly doctor telling us that the test results were back and it wasn't looking good: "It's a rat," he said, as gently as he could, after examining the fresh turd trail. A rat likely hanging out in the closet where I keep my knitting and craft supplies, more of them in one of the basement storage rooms, and in the crawl space, and a good old rat party going down in the shed. Four out of ten on an infestation scale, he said.

So he laid a bunch of traps and is coming back on Thursday. In the meantime, I heard a funny snapping sound from the closet last night but no way was I going to look in there - some gals don't cut their own bangs or do their own colour, I don't set or check my own rat traps.  I'm funny that way.

The rat thing doesn't come as much of a surprise - I thought I saw something scuffling around in the courtyard one night a few weeks ago, and JTM is convinced he saw something bigger than a mouse and more sinister than a squirrel dashing across the driveway towards the neighbors' place a few days ago.

So the plan for this weekend is to clear as much junk as possible out of the house and clean up the property  outside. I'm trying like hell to be cool about this as , but I am honestly completely grossed and freaked out. Thank God for Gordon!

UPDATE APRIL 1: One rat trapped (so far), in basement crawl space, and silence from the craft cupboard.  Will steel myself to go in there this weekend and make sure no rat couples have shacked up in my yarn box.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I blog as well as I keep house

...which is to say wildly inconsistently!  My commitment to decluttering and staying on top of the laundry (rather than being buried under it - mffft!) has pretty much fallen by the wayside, along with the regular blogging, tweeting and healthy eating. But hey, since I've last checked in, I've been to the Olympics (three times! On the ferry just like Mukmuk!), renovated a bedroom, had my sweet old parents from Winnipeg for a visit (Dad's 80th!), rocked a series of really important technical proposals at work and been to the gym more than a few times. 

Turns out the laundry will wait and the dust will quietly settle while I'm busy living, but always there is the niggling, nagging in the back of my mind that won't let me sit through an entire episode of ANY tv show without leaping up to take care of some household business during commercials...I just cannot seem to shake the notion that if I can just get it under control I can keep it that way!

On a more interesting note, I'm following JTM on the blog he just started, dreaming about a vegetable garden, leaning toward the concept of eating a little less wheat and much less meat, figuring out a lot of little ways to save money, and planning an extremely inauthentic Mexican feast for Easter. Eggs: Mother Nature's little pinatas!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's the...sniff, sniff...2010 Olympics!

So the Olympics starts tomorrow  and I'm getting choked up already just watching the commercials.  I'm sure I'll be going through an entire tube of waterproof mascara over the next few weeks!

It's been so exciting living so close to Vancouver and catching wave after wave of pre-Olympic excitement over the last few years - I can hardly believe that the opening ceremonies are now only 24 hours away.

Well over a year ago, JTM had the forethought to put our name in the lottery for tickets, and we are fortunate to be heading over to Vancouver to see speed skating, women's hockey and the pair's free skate (oh, swoon!).  I've got to get everyone kitted out in their Canada gear, and we need to figure out ferry schedules  for three separate days, get the dog farmed out, figure out where to park (if we even dare to bring the car across), etc.  And I have to do this all through the veil of tears that keeps forming just from THINKING about the Olympics.

BELIEVE, PEOPLE, BELIEVE!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Flying Solo in the Kitchen

Put JTM on a plane to New Zealand and Australia for two weeks yesterday - Half the time he will be in Brisbane presenting at at conference, but the other half is a much-planned and anticipated solo visit to New Zealand.  I'm so, uh, HAPPY for him!!!!

So for the next fortnight it's just the lads and me left to fend for ourselves.  The chauffering and form-signing and keeping-in-line shouldn't be too much of a challenge - they're growing up and have become pretty independent over the years, and they're good guys and really good company.

But it's the COOKING that's got me in knots!  I used to love cooking - and I'm pretty good at it, but over the years it's become necessary to give up control of something - I just couldn't do all the household stuff on my own once I went back to work - and JTM's developed a real passion for cooking, so he's now the head chef in our kitchen (he's been gone for less than 24 hours and there's already a dozen of his cooking shows stacked up on the TiVO).  We usually consult briefly on the weekend about the menu for the week, and I make sure we have everything needed for school lunches (still my domain), but that's about it.  Most nights I arrive home from work and meal preparation is already in full swing.

So I've put together my own very kid-centric plan for the next several days, and we'll see how it goes.  I figure the most appropriate thing is to focus on making nutritious versions of what they like and then figure out how that fits into my own eating plan.  Shouldn't be too tough since my plan involves grazing my way through the gargantuan box of spring mix JTM bought the day before he left, garnished with some kind of ultra-lean meat, and snacking on celery and Gerolsteiner on my way to the gym to work out.  I'll mostly be just sniffing at their food as I jog by.

I can just hear everyone at Weight Watchers tsk tsking at this approach, telling me that I should be making the kids eat what I eat, and that a restrictive eating plan is not sustainable...well pfft!  This two-week period is a great opportunity to really clean up and simplify the eating, and knock off a few extra pounds. And YES I will get in my oils, and my milk!

Today I'm making slow-cooked beef curry for Roti, and Shepherd's Pie with extra lean ground beef - it has more vegetables in it than the lads will ever know (finely grated carrots add to the volume without calling attention to themselves), along with a generous splash of red wine that gives it an incredible richness - it might be the very best thing I make.  Yesterday was home-made macaroni and cheese.  I make it with Catelli Smart pasta to give it some fibre, and I cheat by using cheese sauce mix from a packet, along with several types of grated cheese - not a ton, just enough to give it a little gooeyness.  It's the topping that makes it though: lightly buttered and seasoned panko.  Sometimes I put in peas, but this time I just steamed some broccoli as a side.  I made enough for a small army so there are two more meals in the freezer now.

Note: the monotasking and list-making is not going so well; I'm still spinning in circles, trying to keep everyhting in my head while flying off in all directions at once - OUCH - but the laundry is still caught up!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Living a Lie

So last night I was getting ready to head out to the gym for a little walk-run treadmill action - cause I'm one of those people who works out regularly - and I caught sight of my profile in the mirror.  I was stunned by how small my chesticular region looked.  At first I thought my boobs had just been compressed by my new sports bra, but then I realized they really ARE that small!  I guess the weight's been coming off all over because I've become quite petite along the bustline, and hadn't really noticed, until last night, that is, that I've been walking around for months now decieving everyone with my miles-too-big bra.  Not much in there but air and foam - like smoke and mirrors only not so gothic.  I only wish that one day I could have the same revelation with a pair of underpants - "Oh goodness, all this time it was just the puffy panties making me look fat!"

Anyway, I'm sorry everyone, that I've tricked you into thinking I had such a great rack.
(And by the way, I ran for ten two-minute intervals without dying - I am making progress!  The right shoes - Asics Gel Kayanos rock! - and a good sports bra really help, although if I keep this up I may not even need to wear a bra for much longer.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The January AAAAAHs

As a transplanted prairie girl I will never quite get used to the winters here. Today I had to run an errand downtown so I left the office, coatless, at 3 pm, and wandered over the bridge in the late afternoon sunshine. The water in the Inner Harbour was doing that glittery crushed tinfoil thing, and there were people sitting outside sipping wine on one of the restaurant patios along Wharf Street. It was PLUS ELEVEN!  In January!

Last week was kinda miserable - not so cold- but we had rainfall of ark-building proportions and not a single ray of sunshine to penetrate the gloom all week long. Still I figure any day between November and March that I don't have to scrape off the car windshield in the morning is a good weather day!  I actually feel bad that I hogged three pairs of red HBC Olympic mittens when so many of my fellow Canadians are doing without.  I'll probably wear them to do a little gardening this weekend.  HA!

On a completely unrelated note, I've been monotasking like crazy around the house and have beaten the laundry room completely into submission. Think I'll stay in the basement a while longer and get things sorted down there.  Feng Shui says that we're not supposed to keep anything under our beds as it interferes with the flow of chi (or something like that).  I can only imagine what they'd have to say about my cluttered basement.

On an even more unrelated note, we are doing yoga at work, in an open space that has workstations all around it.  It's incredibly bizarre to do the Downward Facing Dog in front of the colour copier, while people go about their business around you.  I've now figured out how to dress appropriately for yoga so have managed so far not to show my bra to too many people.  Underpants are another story.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Take THAT, Canada Fitness Test!

So I have recently committed to kicking the ass of running - it makes me absolutely FURIOUS that, my whole life, I have let running defeat me.  So many buses never caught.  So many races finished last (or not at all). So many calories not burned.  So many years spent believing that I couldn't. 

Forget about it - I am no longer letting my past define me.  I refuse to continue identifying with the girl who was awarded nothing but a "participation pin" from the Canada Fitness Tests (a plastic pin?  Come ON!  Not even a bronze badge?  Nope - not for that soft clumsy girl, the one the other girls called spaz, the one who looked for any excuse to sit inside and read for fear of being stuck being "it" for the thousandth time in tag.) For so long I've looked at people busy using their bodies and thought "not me".  I actually turned down an opportunity to play softball once because I didn't own a pair of runners or sweatpants - I actually hadn't for several years!  Now I just put that kind of gear on as soon as I get home from work (my play clothes, I call them), so I'm ready to go when the spirit moves me.

Canada Fitness Awards - clearly not from my personal collection!

But how did I get here?  Not to the elite land of the uber-fit; to be honest I'm not even close to being fit - but to the place where I can walk into the gym, head held high, and feel like I belong there? To a place where I want to grab running by the throat and let it know who's boss?  I honestly don't know; it just happened very slowly.  A waterfit class here, a tennis lesson there, a hundred walks, some yoga, some kayaking, bellydancing, a little advice from a trainer...and then one day I thought screw it, and I signed up to participate in a 10k with some people from work.  That was two years ago.  I walked it, very slowly; and I walked it again last year, albeit at a slightly brisker pace.  This year I will run at least part of it.  I know I can do this because tonight I held running to the mat for a 120 count. Yep, I ran for two entire minutes without stopping, and after a two minute walk, I did it again. And again. And again.  I really got that I'd changed when I invited a couple of friends to come and work out with me.  You know, like, just for fun!

Hey Canada Fitness Tests! Take your plastic pin and stick it someplace really uncomfortable, cause that's not who I am.


How many thousands of Canadians once wore this badge of shame?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hit the ground stumbling

This was to have been the post where I said I was clear-eyed, refreshed and ready to take 2010 by storm - an aspirational (yet oh-so-pragmatic) listing of my goals and dreams for the year, dreamed up from a comfy (yet chic) armchair my uncluttered, dust-free living room, cup of organic herbal tea steaming at my side .  Instead I'm tired, out of sorts, days behind at the office and mired in layers and layers of laundry in varying states of done-ness - seriously I have worn the same socks three times this week- and all is chaos in the house. And I'm two weeks behind in making my New Year's resolutions.

But hey, the Christmas decorations are away now  - uh - except the ones hanging in that one window that I forgot; and we have to step over the tree every time we walk out the front door. And of course, like so many of us, I'll eventually have to find and fish out the extension cord that fell into the koi pond when I was hanging lights out there. But, you know, mostly done. Done-ish.

I think I really need to cut myself some slack here: this is the BEGINNING of something here, not the culmination.  If I were truly able to bounce back from the holidays with a clean house, a bright outlook and and empty "inbox" I probably wouldn't need to make New Year's Resolutions anyway.  And everyone would hate me.

So dustballs, dirty socks and other to-do's notwithstanding, here's my list of goals for 2010.  I expect I'll be elaborating more on these as time goes by, but right now I just have to get them down!

1) Learn to Monotask
This is about doing what I am doing - to focus on the task at hand- and not get sidetracked.  Multitasking is just not efficient!  For me this isn't just about getting things done - it's also about being present in the moment - present in my life and the lives of the people I am with.  Sometimes this means to just stop and do nothing but listen.  Or just stop and do nothing. So hard for me - I always feel pulled in a million different directions, my mind is racing ahead to the next thing.  Even when I'm sitting still I am thinking about what I could/should be doing instead.  Yoga's helped me with my awareness of this, and that's a start. Duct tape may get me the rest of the way.

2) Learn to manage tasks and priorities by making lists
See above.  Lists will help keep me focused.

3) Channel my inner adult
At work, especially, I think it's time I claimed my 45 years of life experience and stepped up as one of the grownups.

4) Learn what is enough
What is enough to eat, or drink, or say...what is enough to buy or own...what is enough to put onto my plate, generally.

5) Learn to give housework the priority it deserves; no more or less
A hard one for me - pretty much since the day I got married, I've viewed home as a workplace,  not that soft place to land that people talk about.  And I find dirt and clutter to be incredibly distracting. I'm going to use the new habits above to get the house to a state I can live with and develop the routines needed to keep everything in its place.  We'll see how it goes.  I've decided to focus on one new routine every month - get it to be automatic and then move onto the next one.

One resolution that I don't have to make this year, the one I've made every year since Year One, is to lose weight and get into shape.  I''m working that one already - just need to keep moving forward on it.  And lose the four pounds I gained by medicating my mother-in-law holiday visit stress with shortbread and wine.