How Not to Celebrate a Birthday

So, yesterday was my birthday.

Saturday, the day before my birthday, I had planned for Stinkerbelle and myself to bake Xmas cookies. BDH is out of the country at a trade show, and since I had four days soloing with That Girl, there was not going to be any fuss and bother for my birthday. I was planning activities that would keep her busy and engaged for long periods of time. And a batch of gingerbread cookies fit the bill. Maybe a cupcake each if she insisted THERE MUST BE BIRTHDAY CAKE. As sometimes happens with her.

On Saturday morning, I got up with That Girl and she wanted bacon and eggs for breakfast. I was happy to oblige. I made just enough for the two of us, since I have been trying (although often failing) to watch what I eat and how much. So bacon, eggs, toast and coffee in moderation sounded good.

At lunch I had a little bit of left over beef stew. It wasn’t much, but it was tasty. Around 2 pm, I was feeling a bit of gut rot. Nothing unusual for me, especially with the big cup of coffee I was nursing. I took a Pepto Bismol. And decided there would be no cupcake making; maybe tomorrow. So we made 5 or so dozen gingerbread cookies, and it was okay.

Around 5 pm, the gut rot was intesifying a bit. The Pepto had done nothing for me. I tried some Tums, and then had supper around 5:30. A small-ish pizza (to give you an idea of size, Stinkerbelle eats half.)

By the time supper was done, around 6, I was feeling properly ill. I felt like I was full to bursting. My stomach, right under my solar plexus, was starting to hurt from feeling so bloated. And by 6:30, the pain was intense, and had spread to my back. I could not even touch my stomach it hurt so badly.

I choked down another Pepto Bismol. I tried to make myself vomit. I could barely move from the discomfort. I tried emailing BDH (he of the chronic and terrible heartburn) in Chicago for advice. And finally, I got on the phone with TeleHealth.

They said I needed to see a doctor within the next four hours.

As I was alone, that meant I had to truck Stinkerbelle downtown to the hospital with me. I don’t have many friends, if any. I’m not the sort of person who has friends, generally speaking, and those I have are not in town. My neighbour, who is the emergency contact for Stinkerbelle at school, was working. And I haven’t any family I can call on in an emergency.

But, what the hell. That Girl was game for an adventure. Off we went to the hospital.

I got into triage around 7:30 and told her my problem. Right off the bat she said that she had to admit me as a cardiac case because my age and the description of what was happening was presenting as a potential heart attack. She also said that in doing that, the tests would take eight hours to complete, so could I get someone to come take That Girl?

I didn’t have anyone I thought I could call. So, we agreed that Stinkerbelle could stay with me and… we’d see.

They did an ECG, which looked fine. They took me to a cubicle and I waited for chest x-rays, while Stinkerbelle merrily chattered and coloured and tried to tell the time on the clock outside our curtain. She watched the nurse take blood, fascinated, and set me up for an IV. She came along with the nurse and “helped” her take my chest images, and from the other side of the glass I could hear the nurse showing her my heart, my bones, and Stinkerbelle all fascinated about how I looked on the inside.

And then, back to the cubicle, where we waited. I called BDH. My cellphone was, as I rarely use it, almost out of charge. I gave him the update, and tried to tell him not to panic and not to rush home.

He said he’d call me back, and then he called our good friends in a neighbouring city.

And one hour later, around the curtain walked our friend Sandra, who despite the late hour and being in an entirely different city, didn’t hesitate to come to help.

She’s a great friend, is Sandra. My husband had called her and although she was already in her pajamas, she jumped in the car and without a second thought came to my aid. She didn’t get to spend the weekend with her own husband and son because she came to help me out and she did not even mention it. She is a good friend, and we see each other only a couple of times a year, but she would do anything for us. I am unaccustomed to having friends, and it really touched me that she would come and help me out. I’m not used to having people who would help me in my time of need.

She really is a fantastic person. I don’t tell her nearly enough.

She packed up That Girl’s stuff, left me with her iPhone so I could call BDH if I needed to, or keep her in the loop, or just surf the web if I got bored, and she took Stinkerbelle out to her car and brought her back here to bed.

So, problem #1 solved, I was left with the doctors and nurses to work out problem #2. As the blood tests and images and ECG came back negative, everything seemed fine with my heart. So then we set about finding out what WAS wrong. The doctor on call, an odd sort at first glance who in the end quite warmed to me, put me on an IV drip of a drug to stop the pain and inflammation, sort of a muscle relaxant for the abdomen. I sat for awhile and watched it drip, and waited on another tech to bring me in for abdominal images.

At midnight, I was wheeled back into xray, where we celebrated another year of my time on this planet by looking once again at the inside of my person. The tech was making gentle jokes at my expense, and as the IV was taking the edge off the pain, it was actually nice to relax and joke about it.

Back to the cubicle, where I sat for awhile longer. The pain faded to a dull bruise feeling, like I had been punched in the stomach, and I was still feeling bloated, but I was MUCH better. And around 1 pm the doctor came back and said he suspected gallstones.

Gallstones I could live with. (Oh, and a bonus bladder infection revealed by the urine sample that I didn’t even know about. Nice catch, doc.) He sent me home with both a prescription for the meds I had in IV but in pill form, and an antibiotic for the bladder infection, for a bit of sleep, but I was on a callback to do more images, ultrasound this time, as soon as a spot became available.

Which was bright and early the next morning. The call woke up Sandra, who volunteered to stay yet again with Stinkerbelle. And off I went on 5 hours sleep back to emergency.

I got a whackload of images done. They looked at my aorta. They looked at my gallbladder, They looked at my pancreas and my liver and my other insides. It was easy enough but I was feeling tender, and not looking forward to sitting in ER once again. But I did.

In due time, I was called in to see a doctor, NOT the lovely odd doctor of the night before, but an Earnest Young Doctor. I was pronounced fine, with the exception of my liver. I was told I have liver steatosis, or “fatty liver disease”. I laughed. It’s a silly name, and an odd ailment — as the doctor put it, “Some people put on fat on their hips. Some people put on fat on their stomachs. You? You put it on on your liver.”  To which I replied, “It’s kind of hard to take my liver out for a jog”.

Earnest Young Doctor panicked in the light of a joke, like a rabbit caught in the headlights. He flailed around a bit, recovered, and explained there is no treatment for this problem but to change my diet and to exercise and to lose at least 20 pounds.

No medical intervention? No surgery? No heart problems? And you are telling me I just have to eat better and exercise more and lose weight? DUDE I AM SO ON THAT TEAM.

Well, it has to be slowly and gradually, but yes, he said, that’s the gist of it. (Subsequent reading seems to indicate that besides people like me who could stand to eat better and lose weight, people with liver steatosis tend to be people who have gastric bypass, starvation and protein malnutrition, or extreme weight loss, or are alcoholics. So. Hence the “slow and steady”.) If I make these changes I will notice a recovery very, very quickly. But if I don’t make the changes, and I leave it go, I am in for a world of hurt, not to mention some No Good Very Bad Liver Things, in 10-20 years’ time.

I opted for the Liver Fitness Plan, thanked Earnest Young Doctor, and headed out into the rain.

I came home to find that Stinkerbelle had roped Sandra into playing dressup all morning, and I was greeted by two princesses, flowers, balloons, and a wee birthday cake. It was a lovely end to a not so lovely 18 hours.

And now I am still tender, still bloated, very tired, but home and, all things considered, healthy enough. As soon as I am rested up, I am back on the fitness wagon. BDH and I must change our lifestyle. FOR REALZ, YO.

And next year? BDH will be out of the country again with that same damn trade show. I will be alone with Stinkerbelle. I’m just going to pretend that I have no birthday, and have toast and water. For a week.

Music Monday: Procedure Music

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, in early November, I was in the midst of infertility treatments. I had, at the end of a depressing IVF cycle, an inauspicious egg retrieval and then an embryo transfer to undergo, and as part of the Feelings and woo woo positive energy la di da around the procedures, they recommended we create a playlist or CD of music.

This music was supposed to be played in the background to help relax you during what could be a stressful and uncomfortable procedure. And the relaxation was also supposed to help improve your chances of success.

As you may or may not recall, my procedure failed miserably.

Now, the impression I got from my transfer team was that most people went in to their procedures with some music with ocean waves and rain playing over some New Agey woo woo music by Enya, or some ballady Celine Dion shit. That kind of thing. Not me.

My whole attitude ran more to the “This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around” end of the spectrum. Hey, if I’m going to spend a couple of hours with strangers traipsing around in my ladygarden and balancing my ovaries on the point of a pin, I was going to need to be happy and distracted.

I had some James:

And some Bjork:

There was The Clash:

And The Specials:

Some Depeche Mode:

And a little The The with some boogie woogie Jools Holland to really confuse the med students looking on:

As well as the usual suspects of The Cure and Neil Finn and whatnot that one has learned to expect with me.

So, not so much woo as WOOHOO!! And maybe that worked against me. But I think you have to start these things the way you intend to go on, and no way my potential children were going to start this life listening to some awful ballady Celine Dion crap. Possibly my potential children preferred ballady Celine Dion shit. Whoops.

Oh well. I have That Girl now, and she would have been ALL OVER the playlist I chose. I think, in retrospect, this just proves that some things are simply meant to be.

Self-Discovery

It has been another week of sickness here, starting with barfing on the weekend, and progressing to diarrhea for the last two days. Which means I have been cleaning up some pretty vile things emitting from a certain small person a great deal this week. So that’s been fun.

But we have had some pretty good moments, and before I collapse into bed, I shall relate one to you.

The other morning (after the barfing had passed, but before the diarrhea had commenced), I laid out some clothes for Stinkerbelle on her bed while she was downstairs eating her breakfast. Once she came upstairs again, I told her to go in and get dressed. She likes to do this, “ALL. BY. MYSELF.” as we are regularly reminded. So I sat down at my desk and started to check email.

Stinkerbelle began to strip off her jammies, and soon a small nudenik was walking past my door on her way to get dressed. A few moments passed, and then the small naked kid appeared in my doorway.

“Mom”, said That Girl, “can I ask you something?”

“Sure,” I said, turning from my computer.

Stinkerbelle came in, in her altogether, and sat down on the carpet in front of me. She said, “I was putting on my panties, and…” At which point, she splayed her legs out and started futzing about with her undercarriage. Showing me, I might add, all that Nature had given her.

“And I saw…” she said, pointing at her nether regions, “um… What is this?”

I fought with every fibre of my being not to dissolve into hysterical laughter right on the spot. Because every parent KNOWS that the time for That Talk is coming, but you are never REALLY prepared for it. I mean, you THINK you will handle it with great calm and dignity and appear cool. But the reality is, you rarely do.

Which I can tell you, I certainly didn’t. I probably did alright though, and kept the silent-laughter-shoulder-shaking and tears rolling down my face to a minimum.

“Well,” I began, as all good and calm and relaxed discussions of one’s personal regions surely MUST begin, “that is what makes you a girl. That’s a vagina.” Which I know in actual fact is not REALLY what it is — vulva, vagina, clitoris, women’s parts are so complicated, AND BELIEVE YOU ME, SHE WAS SHOWING ME SHE HAD THEM ALL — but that is, for the sake of ease, the catch-all term we’re going to go with at this time.

(Also, it’s not the ONLY thing about being a girl, but DUDE. We’ve got YEARS of this stuff ahead of us.)

So then I continued about how “boys are made differently, and they have a penis.”

“Penis,” she repeated, trying the word out. “Vagina” was too complicated to try, apparently.

“So boys don’t have this?” she asked.

“Nope,” I said.

“But Charlotte has this?”

“Yes,” I confirmed. “Charlotte is a girl, so she has a vagina.”

“And does Jamie have this?” she asked.

“No,” I said, “Jamie is a boy, so he has a penis.”

“But Daddy has this?” she wondered.

“Nope, Daddy is a boy, so he has a penis.”

“But I don’t have a penis,” she confirmed.

“No, you have a vagina. Girls have vaginas.”

“Vagi…” the word trailed off into a mumble.

So I began telling her how boys and girls are different, and was starting to get into how girls have vaginas and breasts and… I didn’t get far.

She stood up, and with great gravity said, “I should go back to my room now.” And walked out.

Clearly I am going to need to work on my delivery before she hits puberty.

Not A Valid Excuse

OH MY DOG I HAVE SUCKED AT POSTING RECENTLY. I really haven’t got a good excuse. I don’t. There’s just been a lot of stuff going on and it’s been hard to find the time.

NO THAT’S NOT A EUPHEMISM, EVERYTHING IS FINE. Really, there’s just been a lot of actual stuff going on. It’s been not exactly busy, but I’ve had a lot of things taking up my brainspace and my time recently.

One of those things has been getting back on the fitness wagon. Again. Remember I mentioned that Cinnamon was upset because, during the Christmas holidays, we rearranged and redecorated the basement, “her” basement space? Yeah. Well, what we did, as cheaply as we could, was create a little exercise studio down there.

Now, our basement is not finished (yet) and we haven’t a ton of money to spare (yet), but over the holidays we took advantage of the Boxing Day/Week sales and decided to do a few things to make a space to work out and do yoga. So, we cleaned out excess junk, reorganized the rest of the junk, and then cleaned a space for our exercise machines (bike, treadmill, elliptical). We then hung some curtains to create another space where we put down some industrial carpet tiles and an area rug, and that’s our yoga space. As the year goes on and if we have a little free cash, we’ll probably think about putting in electrical and putting up some drywall if we can, but for now, it’s a cozy, welcoming place to do our yoga.

So what that means is that every day, we’re diligently exercising and logging our exercise online, and logging what we eat, and along with some family members, we have a little group to encourage each other along a more fit and healthy path. It takes a fair bit of time, but we’re starting to get into the swing of it a little bit. Still, it does take time and effort to keep yourself honest and update your numbers each day. As well, it’s an hour or so a day of exercise, but like I said, that’s been quite fun because of our new space. Which we really love, and that Cinnamon hates.

Which brings me to another time-suck: the perils of the unhappy peeing kitty. As you know, Cinnamon has taken to peeing in her beds, and on one occasion, on my bedroom floor. We suspected she was freaked out by the changes, as she often is, but just to be on the safe side, we took her to the vet for a full checkup. And, happily, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with her except she’s a little old lady. But, unhappily, that means we have a behavioural problem that is a little harder to troubleshoot.

But thanks to our awesome vet here, as well as an awesome vet who reads this blog who chimed in with some fabulous advice, we’re trying a couple of things to see if we can help her Cat Up and adjust to the new place. It’s still too early to tell, and she has peed a couple of times since starting her new “meds”. But on the plus side, she’s been coming and joining us in our yoga space in the last couple of days, happy and purring and chirruping at us, or curling up in a bed under the TV and just hanging out. Either way, it’s a marked improvement. AND, for those of you keeping score, SHE PEED IN HER LITTER BOX, RIGHT IN FRONT OF US, LAST NIGHT. AND THEN AGAIN THIS MORNING. So. Fingers crossed she is getting acclimatized.

The other thing that has occupied my time, or rather not, is being sick. Stinkerbelle was down with a cold for a week, as I mentioned, and it was one of those colds where she had a fever and just wanted to lie around. And that’s fine. But what’s taken my time is that she then ever-so-generously gave it to me. And so I just wanted to lie around. That was fun.

That, combined with a lack of sleep — my new exercise regime has meant the aggravation of my knee issues, which means I am awakened at least once a night and often three and four times a night by pain that needs dealing with in some way, with stretching or massage or getting up and walking about — has made me a treat to live with, let me tell you. But, we’re getting ice on it, and I am taking copious amounts of the strongest analgesics we own, and soon I’ll be starting physio again, so you just get on with it.

So, yeah. I don’t really have any excuse for not posting recently other than I’m a right bastard. But you know, I’m a more fit, more Zen, kitty-managing, cold-fighting, pain-tolerating bastard these days, so that’s got to count for something, right?

Energy Crisis

BDH and I are trying to get ourselves back into some semblance of shape. After years of eating too much and not exercising enough, we are at the point in our lives where joints hurt and we’re carrying too much excess and pretty soon it could impact our health.

So we’ve been exercising, as well as trying to get our eating habits into better shape.

Actually, we took the initiative over the holidays to make it a little easier to motivate ourselves to exercise, which was the first step. We spent a (surprisingly little) bit of money and some time and energy, and cleaned the basement (where our exercise equipment is) and created a space more conducive to exercising. We put down some carpet and hung a few curtains to separate off a dedicated exercise space.

It’s really nice. We WANT to spend time down there now.

So we are trying to motivate each other to exercise every day, but it’s hard. The only time we can exercise together, because of work and BDH’s soccer schedule, is in the morning.

And I don’t have to tell you, MORNING IS NOT MY BEST TIME.

I have never been good at morning workouts. When I was an athlete and a workout was scheduled in the morning, I dreaded it beforehand and underperformed and sucked wind during and hated it afterwards.

But I thought, maybe this will be different now that I have a CPaP machine to help with my apnea! I will be well rested! Getting up will be NO PROBLEM! Right?

No. Actually, not right at all. In fact, what is happening is that my CPaP is now helping me get a little bit better quality sleep a little longer at night, thereby reminding me HOW COMPLETELY SLEEP DEPRIVED I HAVE BEEN FOR FORTY YEARS. So waking up is supremely challenging.

Dawn of the Living Dead around here most mornings, it’s fair to say.

So this has been a factor in motivation.

But I remind myself that if I do it, I’ll feel good afterwards. I’ll have lots of energy to do work or housework or whatever all morning. I’ll feel better. I like that. I LIKE feeling energetic.

Until around about 3:30 or 4 pm, when I begin to crash. ENERGY LEVELS PLUMMETING LIKE FELIX BAUMGARTNER FALLING FROM SPACE, MAN. Head nodding, snorking myself awake in an armchair with a laptop on my lap, yawning until my eyes water tired.

SO TIRED.

So I have started having a big mug of tea mid-afternoon, hoping the caffeine will help me get through the worst of it and keep going. And it does! I am more awake and able to function. I am also CRANKY AND PEEVISH, but I am awake!

I can live with cranky. I don’t know if my family can.

Anyway, the tea seems to be helping. It keeps me awake. Until bedtime, around 10:30. AND THEN AFTERWARDS. I am a little hopped up on caffeine at bedtime and it takes awhile to get to sleep. I do, eventually — a little bit of music therapy on the headphones helps relax me, but I end up falling asleep a little later than I probably need to.

And then you know what that means? OH YES, IT MEANS I AM MORE TIRED THE NEXT MORNING BECAUSE NOT ENOUGH SLEEP.

I am in the middle of an energy crisis, here.

But that is fine. All my effort will one day pay off, and although I will be sleep-deprived, I will look FABULOUS AND HEALTHY. As I nod off and fall asleep face first in my plate.

Welcome, New Year.

It’s a new year, in case you’ve been sleeping or, say, time travelling these past few days.

The whole New Year thing has lost its magic for me in recent years. Nobody is ever transformed instantly with the stroke of 12 and the dawn of a new day, but as you grow up, you wait for that click-over and think “now things will be DIFFERENT”. They never are, and as you grow older, you begin to come to terms with that. So we have stopped with the hoopla of New Years Eve and just get on with it.

That’s not to say we don’t do anything to mark the beginning of a new year. It’s just that we’re no longer about dressing up and going out and drinking and partying and all that. We prefer to spend our New Year’s Eve/Day much more quietly. Some years we watch a movie and eat tasty noms. Some years we go to bed early but make a big meal for New Year’s Day. This year, we spent a very relaxed evening with Janna and Andrew, with way more food than should be allowed by law. And that was nice. So much so, we’re already all WE SHOULD DO THIS AGAIN NEXT YEAR.

I’m also finding, as I grow older, that I no longer feel compelled to make New Year’s Resolutions. Mostly this is because they almost always set you up to fail. Like I said, nobody can change overnight, and I think people make these grand resolutions in the hazy light of a dying year with the hope that some magic will make things different come the dawn. And it never works that way.

Instead, I find myself using the new year as a first step on a road to making some changes in my life, but changes that usually take much more planning or much more deliberately slow progress than a grand pronouncement will allow. I set myself off on the path to making something different. Usually, the path has a number of steps. The change is incremental.  And I find that makes it much, much easier to succeed.

That’s the thing about goals: they need to measurable and achievable.

When I was a teacher, I learned to set people up to succeed, even if it was simply in small ways to begin with. People like to succeed, and it’s good for your progress if you do every now and again. So I try now to build that “need to succeed” into these goals for myself. I try to set myself smaller goals, sometimes as a way to make larger goals happen, but sometimes not. Sometimes the smaller goals are enough. I set myself some challenges, usually incremental things that I can do maybe weekly or monthly, so that each increment competed is a success.

So, what am I going to do this year to make some changes in my life, or in the lives of others, or both?

  • Photos: In 2010, I did a Project 365, taking a photo each day for a year. That was a really challenging one, and I kind of failed at it. I probably managed a photo on, say, 325 days of the 365. More than A photo, more like 10 or 50 or 100 photos each day I managed to get a camera out. So while I failed at the 365 challenge, where I succeeded was to have an enormous treasure trove of photos of the year and, more specifically, photos of Stinkerbelle. And this past year, 2011, I really noticed the lack of photos to mark her growth and change. So this year, I’m kind of modifying my challenge to myself. I’m going to aim for taking a picture for as many days as I can, but my actual goal is to make sure I have photos for each week. 52 storage folders on our hard drive, each one filled with as many photos as I can manage that week.
  • Exercise: This one is hard. Lifestyle change goals are almost impossible to meet unless you make them realistic. I know I need more exercise in my life, but I also know that whatever I do, it has to be adaptable. A couple of years ago, BDH and I used to do 100-Day Exercise Challenges and the like, to push each other to exercise on a regular basis. And we’re competitive, so there was someone to push you to get ‘er done. But with a Stinkerbelle and our busy lives, something that long and hard is not always that easy, nor are we always able to do things at the same time. So I am going to set myself monthly challenges of things to do, and re-evaluate every month how it’s going. Maybe I will try to do yoga every day one month. Maybe I’ll get up early each workday and ride the recumbent bike in another month. Maybe I’ll get out and walk every day once the weather is fine. But in small, interesting, motivating blocks of time, I can fit in exercise AND make it a change that is easy to continue with.
  • 12 knitting projects in 2012: Last year I did an “11 in 2011” knitting challenge in my online knitting community, and had to get 11 projects done over the course of the year. And I did it, which was a great feeling of accomplishment. I’m doing another one this year, but this time it’s “12 in 2012”. Dog help me. But I learned that not all projects have to be OMG GIANT PROJECTS  like blankets and such, and that it was good to push myself to get some things done. I got two blankets, a scarf, and a bunch of little things done, as well as some charity squares and things that didn’t even go into the challenge. This year, I have a blanket for Stinkerbelle to finish, some charity squares I want to get done and sent, as well as some small household projects, and some new things I’d like to try. There’s no shortage of things to knit, certainly.
  • 12 knitted hats in 2012: This one is similar to the knitting challenge above. Signing up for the challenge keeps me on track and accountable, and after finding a 12 in 12 challenge specific to hats, I knew exactly what I would do. After reading on her blog about herd boys in Lesotho and the deplorable conditions that they live in, I promised Melissa that I would make 15 hats for her to take when she travels to contribute to improving the lots of these boys.

We’ve also got some Very Important Life Stuff to get done, and some other little changes we’d like to make around here, so we need to set out some goals and plans and get them done.

OMG YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS??? MORE LISTS! ::happy clap!::

I am sure there are other things to try to do, things I have forgotten. But that’s a good start. A good start and a good plan for what I hope will be a good year.

The Finish Line

Our little neighbourhood here in Suburbiaville is tucked away up against conservation land. It’s mostly quiet and calm. It feels a lot more… rural… than it actually is.

On one side of the conservation is one of the busier streets in town, and on the other is our “expressway”, the main highway through the city. You wouldn’t know it, really, because all the trees and watershed area act as a very good buffer from the noise. You almost forget they are there.

But recently, we’ve been venturing out into these busy thoroughfares on some of our errands, and will continue to do so. One reason is because Stinkerbelle’s school, while just over a kilometre away, is actually on the busy street to our east. So we will be traversing this busy road twice a week, hopefully on foot for some exercise a lot of the time, but likely more often in the car. Especially in winter.

But the other, and more fun reason, is that in the last month or two, one of the best coffee shops in town has opened a store just down the road from That Girl’s school. Chock full of cool places to chat and excellent fair trade coffees — my favourite being the Ethiopian Sidamo — I have been itching to go there since I first saw the sign go up on the outside of the building under construction.

It is open now.

So today, it is sunny and warm, and I decided it was time. Stinkerbelle and I got ourselves ready and pulled out the old faithful jogging stroller, and decided it was time to go for The Big Walk. To Planet Bean.

Now, I used to walk a lot. A LOT. Some days, I did 10 km with a contented Baby Stinkerbelle cruising along, sometimes napping. But as she has grown up and gotten busier and more independent, stroller walks are less and less frequent. She still enjoys them, but nowadays she’d rather be DOING something. Like walking, for example. Or going to a park, or playing with friends, or any one of a number of activities she was too little to do in previous summers.

But I set today up as an adventure, a walk to someplace new. A Coffee Shop. Where Mommy Could Buy Coffee and Stinkerbelle Could Have A Cookie.

There’s a cookie at the end of this walk? Dude. She was ALL IN.

So off we went.

It was sunny and lovely. But it is also a warm day, and I was feeling the heat. About a third of the way into our walk, we encountered our first obstacle. With no forewarning, we came upon some construction-type guys digging up the sidewalk on the corner of Busy Commuter Street and Major Thoroughfare. The sidewalk on which we had to walk, else we would be walking in traffic. Hm.

You could have put up a SIGN, dudes.

Anyway, no problem. There’s a crosswalk at the corner, so we waited for the light and crossed to the opposite side of the street. This was actually a good thing, because by this time I was getting warm from the sunshine and the street was shaded for a few hundred metres.

We carried on, to the next crosswalk, and crossed back across the busy lanes of traffic. Oh! More shade! Huzzah. As we trundled along in the shade, Stinkerbelle chatted happily. I have no clue what was said, however, because the traffic noise was loud enough to drown out her little girl voice. Oh well. I just interjected “Oh?” and “Really?” and “Yes” into the conversation periodically, and she seemed satisfied.

I began to feel the heat, and the tired. It’s about 3.5 km there and back, which in years past would have been hardly anything at all. But I’m out of walking trim, and my legs were noticing. And I was getting warm.

And we rounded a bend, and there it was. A chorus of angels sang and light shone down from the heavens. Coffee. COFFEE. GOOD coffee.

But I was too hot. I thought OMG ALL I WANT IS AIR CONDITIONING AND TO SIT DOWN.

And all Stinkerbelle thought was OMG LET ME OUT OF THIS CHAIR I NEED TO RUN AROUND. ALSO? COOKIE.

So we made our way into the cool shop and I blinked through the cool darkness looking for a menu.

ICED MOCHA COFFEE.

I was happy. We had crossed the finish line. Victory was ours, and to the victors go the spoils! So I got an iced mocha and Stinkerbelle got some sort of hipster organic cookie and juice.

Snacks and drinks in hand, we sat under the shade of a tree in the parking lot and had an impromptu picnic. It was fun. We chatted about the construction going on in the rest of the building — “WHA’S THAT SOUND?” is That Girl’s recent question du jour — and snacked and relaxed.

And then I realized: We still have to walk home.

And Stinkerbelle realized: I still haven’t run around.

So I pulled my out-of-shape carcass upright, and turned for home. I decided to duck down a side street, in the hope that I could let That Girl out of the stroller to walk on the sidewalk where there would be no traffic. As we turned, we saw it at the same time: A PARK. Just 100 m away.

Stinkerbelle began bellowing “PARK! PARK! I NEED TO GO TO THE PARK! I NEED TO GO ON THE SLIIIIIIIDE!” so that there would be NO DOUBT that I, nor anyone within a mile’s radius of the excited preschooler commotion, would know what her wishes were.

So we went to the park. We had crossed the finish line! Victory was Stinkerbelle’s and to the victor goes the spoils! She went down the slides, and swung on the swings, and had a little run around time.

But then, we really REALLY had to face the walk home.

It was hot, and it was long, and the traffic was noisy. AND I forgot about the construction so I actually DID have to walk us out into traffic to get around it because I forgot to cross the street. But although hot and tired, it was nice. I realized how much I had missed walking, even though my muscles were all WTF WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN.

But we made it home. Victory was ours! And this time, the spoils were not as fancy — blowing bubbles for That Girl, and homemade iced coffee for me — but still just as sweet.

And we decided that maybe we would walk to and from school some mornings. And while Stinkerbelle was in school, I would try to walk a bit more, sans stroller.

And be sure to stop off for a coffee as a treat sometimes, too.

 

Getting Back on Track

It is time to get ourselves back on track.

The last few weeks have seen a bit of upheaval and rushing about, and we are feeling the strain. Well, more accurately, we are feeling the OMG TIRED. We are people who do well with routine and structure and plans, so when the structure goes out the window for a while, for whatever reason, we struggle. We let things slide, and we get run down and tired.

All of which is happening right now, as I sit in my comfy chair and type, amid a mess of kid’s toys, with dishes to be done and groceries to be put away over there in the kitchen. I am pooped.

Stinkerbelle is feeling it, too. She is ready for naps when the time comes and crashes hard, and is ready for bed well before bedtime in the evening. And this morning, when I asked her if she wanted to go out and swim, she told me instead she’d rather go out after naptime. She wants some down time.

But we don’t do well letting things slide. Our eating habits suffer, we don’t keep on top of the chores around the house, and we become somewhat lump-like in front of the TV or computer.

But we have to get back at it, because with a diabetic and a kid in the house, it’s important. Plus, September is right around the corner, and with that, preschool, and swimming lessons, and a bunch of plans for things to do.

It’s time. Time to dig in and get things back on the right track.

So this week, we’re slowly gearing back up to normal. First and foremost… eating. It’s hard to eat well when you are away, and for some of us emotional eaters, even harder when we’re stressed. So I have been making meals and buying groceries to get our healthy eating habits back after the ZOMG JUNKFOOD-O-RAMA drives across eastern Canada. No snacks besides the stuff Stinkerbelle consumes. Lots of veggies and lean meat. Fresh fruit for me (the others turn their noses up.)

Okay, I will admit that I’ve been overdosing on the iced coffee. WHATEVAH DON’T YOU JUDGE ME I AM TIRED YOU WILL HAVE TO PRY THE CAFFEINATED BEVERAGES OUT OF MY COLD DEAD HANDS.

It’s nice. I like the routine of cooking and eating well again.

The flip side of the coin, exercise… well, that’s a little harder to get back on track. When I am tired, the last thing I want to do is to drag my sorry carcass downstairs and put in time on the Helliptical. And my knees are all ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME. But all you can do is try. And if that doesn’t work, try to take some walks or whatever, like taking That Girl over to the park and playing for an hour. Maybe do some yoga here and there.

The other stuff is harder. Getting back into a regular housework routine — especially after leaving the house in that post-packing tornado-hit state — is a chore. It’s fair to say we’d been letting it go a little bit for a couple of weeks even before we hit the road, and it shows. But I’ve been trying to do things in short increments, by running the vacuum here, or doing some sweeping there, and hopefully without too much bitching and moaning we’ll get it shipshape again. The yard is a disaster area, but a good mow, some judicious weeding, and maybe watering a bit before fall will put things to rights nicely.

The angry-looking mass of hornets who have taken up residence under the eaves above our patio door? Not even going to think about that one yet.

And I have some projects to get done around the house, painting and such. And I want to tend to my blog more regularly and more frequently. And any number of other little projects.

But honestly? HONESTLY? I just want to sleep for a week. And when I am not sleeping, knit and eat chocolate. OH TO HAVE THE RESILIENCE AND METABOLISM OF A TWENTY-FIVE YEAR OLD AGAIN. Bah.

So, for me, the big thing is getting out my little blue notebook, and writing out my daily “to do” lists every day. And being sure to check them continually, and check off what I have accomplished. I need the accountability.

But to be fair, one of the things that I will put on my list will be to take the time to enjoy the last of the summer with my little girl, who will be starting preschool in a few short weeks. If there’s one thing I have learned, it is that time is precious. Do not waste it.

Getting life back on track again means, for me, that I am aware of my time, and making the most of it, and thus present to enjoy as much of it as I can.

Relaxation Nation: Yogamazing

It’s the start of the week, and with all the gardening and yardwork and stuff that comes with May, some good stretching and exercise will come in handy. And now that my physio is going well, I think it’s time to start trying some yoga again.

But life as a stay at home mom means little free time or free income to go to classes, and more importantly, little down time just for myself. So it’s not like I can just go swanning off to some yoga studio somewhere for an hour or two.

Nope, instead, I’m doing my yoga online, and for free. With Yogamazing.

If you have iTunes, you can download a video podcast called Yogamazing, which is a full 20-30 minute class. (There’s also a website, yogamazing.com, but the last time I visited, the free classes are view-only and it costs for downloads.) The instructor, Chaz, makes the classes readily accessible and fun to do whether you regularly practice yoga or whether you’re a newbie. If you’re just getting started, you can pause the class to figure out “what did he just do?” or if you want to spend a little extra time doing a particular pose. It’s all good. And because it’s a download, the class is there to do at your leisure whenever you have time — during naptime, or before bed, or even first thing in the morning. (Ugh. No thanks.) I have even done a class while Stinkerbelle played around me.

I also like the fact that I can do it by myself. I’m self-conscious and still relatively cumbersome at yoga, so I like just being by myself to focus on the poses and the relaxation and not be forever worrying that I look foolish. AND DID I MENTION IT’S FREE? This is big for me. We just don’t have a ton of extra cash for classes at studios and stuff right now.

There are three kinds of classes, basically. One is a “prescription” class — let’s say “Yoga for the Neck and Shoulders” — and these classes focus on moves to help you with a particular sore spot on your body or an injury recovery. They are a little more focused on one area, but still are great gentle classes.

The second type are more general classes, like “Yoga for Golfers”, that give you a full body workout with a particular sport or activity in mind to help you strengthen and stretch. These are my favourite classes because they offer a full body workout, and even though they say they are for golfers or for snowboarders or for rowers, they really are great overall classes. (My favourite, I think, is the one for rowers. And I don’t row.)

The third type of classes are flow classes. These are classes that are a serious workout. They are a series of poses linked together that you move through continuously, and they get you moving and sweating and get your heartrate up. They are a real sweat blowout. Awesome workout.

So, each week on iTunes, one class is available for download. And, after a few weeks, you have a number of classes that you can pick and choose from: “Hm, what do I feel like today?” And if you want a longer workout, you can mix and match a couple of classes, combining, say, a flow class to get you going and a “yoga for…” class to work on a particular thing.

Or whatever. The great thing is, they’re yours. They’re on your computer. And to fit in with your busy life, you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. For free.

So go. Take some time for your body and mind. Relax. It’s good for you, and it’s fun.

The Cheese Stands Alone

This morning was my daughter’s first gym class at the Little Gym. And she was two and a half. In the usual way.

I think the classes will be a great thing for her. She will learn about what a teacher is, and learn to follow instruction, and share, and take turns, as well as all the movement and gymnastic-type things. But in order for all this stuff to occur, we have to get past the two and a half business.

Being two and a half means squirming and fussing when you should be sitting and listening. It means wandering off and exploring when you should be paying attention. It means dancing to the beat of your own drummer when you should be following the rhythm of the song that we’re all singing. It means barging into lines and taking other kids’ turns and running round and round and round in circles on one side of the room when everybody else is learning a skill on the other side of the room.

Le sigh. My kid was SO VERY two and a half today.

But the thing I like best about the Little Gym classes is that they are totally okay with that. They encourage kids to explore (safely), and express themselves (safely), and figure things out on their own (safely), and try things when they are ready and gain confidence (safely). The instructor will tell the parents at the start of class that if a child wanders around to explore, let him. Just keep an eye on him to be sure he is safe, but encourage his exploration and independence. When there’s a group activity going on, as parents we are encouraged to just participate and let the child come back and join in when they are comfortable enough or interested enough to do so. Stuff like that.

They do seem to understand kids.

So I was okay with the whole Cheese debacle this morning.

Now, the Cheese is a big ol’ crashpad shaped… well, like a wedge of cheese. It’s triangular. Whether it transmits subliminal messages that only Stinkerbelle can hear, or it has some undetected Stinkerbelle magnetic power or something, I don’t know. But whatever the reason, from the second we are asked to sit on the big activity mat in a circle to start class and sing some songs, That Baby is all  “WHOA. I NEED TO GO ON THE CHEESE. OR I WILL DIE.”

I spent half the morning calling her to join us in the circle, as she bounced and marched and rolled around and periodically laid down for a tiny rest on the slope of the Cheese. She would come over and do a couple things, run in a circle with all of us, whatever, but the moment there was a break in the action, she was all CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE CHEEEEEEESE.

And then, after chatting up some of the finer selling points of the other pieces of equipment and nifty mats and other fun things to do, I finally I got her distracted long enough from the Cheese to walk on the balance beam.

“OMG THE BEAM DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN WALK ON IT BACK AND FORTH AND BACK AND FORTH OMG IT IS THE BESTEST I MUST WALK BACK AND FORTH NOW A BILLION TIMES OR I WILL DIE!!11!1!1!!eleventy!11!1”

So that was a hit. And she walked back and forth across the beam, bellowing “WALK-ING! WALK-ING! WALK-ING!” for another ten minutes, as the class went on around us. I was grateful — at least I was working with her, and she was having fun, and it was not the damn Cheese.

And then the class moved on to their “skills” section, which was: learning to do a roll DOWN THE CHEESE.

OHMYDOG THE HUMANITY.

That Baby was BESIDE herself with The Excitement. We were going to PLAY ON THE CHEESE! ALL TOGETHER! “OKAAAAAY! AWWWWWWWWRIIIIIIGHT!” So, as the teacher tried to guide the children in how to do a barrel roll down the Cheese, there was Stinkerbelle, barging into the lineup, marching up the Cheese when kids were rolling down, shouting about the Cheese, and causing three-kid pileups wherever possible.

It’s fair to say that she was being about as two and a half as she could POSSIBLY be.

I was, as you might imagine, duly mortified.

But then, the good thing about classes at the Little Gym is that while my kid is being a two and a half year old weenie, she’s not alone. There was the little boy who wailed and sobbed and cried whenever we moved on to anything new (which was every couple of minutes). There was the little boy who would sit down to play with something with Stinkerbelle and then just take it away from her again, and again, and again. There was the little girl who did not want to try ANYTHING that the class was doing. AT ALL. There was the little girl who insisted on having ALL THE BALLS.

So in actual fact, my kid fit RIGHT IN. The Cheese may stand alone, but she’s in good company.

It’s a blast. It’s chaos, to be sure, but it is mostly merry chaos, and two and a half year olds can be exactly who they are and have a whale of a time doing it.

By the end of class, when bubbles were blown and hands were stamped (I had to make mention of the fact that today’s colour of ink stamp, brown, might not work well on children with brown skin, just sayin’, and maybe not yellow either, how about blue?) and it was time to leave, Stinkerbelle was worn out. She was pooped right out. We sat down to get our shoes on and she said, quite emphatically, “BED!”

Anything that is that much fun for her and wears her out so entirely is totally 100% worth the money we paid for it. (Not to mention the Child Fitness Tax Credit. WOOT!)

So my child is now tucked up in bed having a long, deep sleep. And I myself am pretty pooped out too, I can’t lie.

What I wouldn’t give right now to have a nap. And a Cheese of my own to crash out on.

Dog Days

These are the dog days of summer. At least, I think they are — because honestly, I don’t know what, exactly, the “dog days” are. If, by “dog days”, they mean OMFG IT’S TOO FRICKING HOT AND HUMID then, yes, they are. What, do dogs sweat a lot or something? Because the phrase “sweating like a pig” also comes to mind, and, in that case, perhaps they should be called the “pig days of summer”.

There you go. I’ve coined a phrase, and a catchy one at that. And at the same time, I’ve let the dogs off the hook for the responsibility for these arsingly humid days. AND I’ve given pigs some much-needed facetime in current vernacular. So. You’re welcome.

Anyway, it’s frigging hot. But for whatever reason, I’ve chosen these days to DO ALL THE THINGS. Which could indicate that the heat is melting my brain. I am running around doing errands and making calls and going to the grocery store like some kind of wizard.

In a car with busted air conditioning. Yep. Heat melting my brain.

It’s okay. If we’re not outside doing things, then we are at home and That Baby is shouting “WHY! WHY! WHY!” at me, to indicate “PUT ‘SUPERWHY’ ON THE TELEVISION, YOU STUPID WOMAN, FOR THE LOVE OF DOG I AM BORED”. So rather than hear the SuperWhy themesong ONE. MORE. TIME., we go out.

Today, we went and did a name change for Stinkerbelle’s health card. It’s just one more tiny part in the endless bureaucracy of adopting a child, and one we have been slacking about. So we booked an appointment for today, and off we went.

Nine in the morning is a fair time to drive one’s air-conditioning-deficient car on a stupidly hot and humid day. It is still cool and the fans are blowing cool air on the occupants. So we arrived cool and fresh as a daisy at the government office.

And OMG what an office! This is one sexy building. Cool and terraced inside with glass and tile and the smell of government money — it was NICE. I may just go sit in the lobby on the next hot day and let Stinkerbelle run round and round in the revolving door.

But today was not for such amusements. Today we had an APPOINTMENT. So while That Baby shouted her brains out about doG knows what and did her high-steppin’-I-got-the-rhythm-in-me-I-can’t-stop-it thing all around the office, I did the paperwork for her name change.

It went mercifully quickly, and we got out while it was still cool-ish.

So, feeling optimistic, I decided we should head over to The Little Gym and have a little look-see and check things out. Which we did. And, as the temperature in my tin can car got exponentially hotter as we drove along, by the time we arrived I was sweaty like I had jogged there.

The woman at the desk was pleasant, and asked if we had 45 minutes to try a class out and see if we liked it.

This was a surprise, but I figured, hey — air conditioning. So I said yes.

A word to the wise: Air conditioning means little in an industrial building full of running around kids. Just sayin’.

But we stayed, and we participated, and it was good. It was good enough to convince me that this would be a good program for Stinkerbelle.

So, at the end, I said we’ll sign up for the September session.

And she said, “That will be $375 please.”

GULP.

I hesitated. I had scanned their website sixteen ways from Sunday and had not seen a fee schedule. All I saw was that a membership cost $35, and so, somewhat naively I grant you, I just assumed…

No. It was much, MUCH more than that.

I tried not to stagger backwards and hiding my surprise behind oh-so-cool stammering, stuttering and waffling, I debated walking away. But Stinkerbelle really enjoyed herself, and the program would be very good for her. And it was almost 6 months of exercise, interaction with other kids, and organized class time.

So, we’d have to cut out one of the other programs in town we wanted to register her for in order to afford this one. Fortunately, my attempts to sign her up for another program yesterday failed SPECTACULARLY — do not ASK me to recount it for you; suffice it to say it involved a voice message that essentially said, “We know that demand for these programs is high, but even though our advertising says ‘Call this number to register’, we are not answering the phones to register people. You should come and register in person. But we know that not everyone can do this. So, if you leave a phone message, we won’t call you back. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.”

Soooo… Decision made. (The Little Gym will get your money, government organization bastards. HAHAHAHAHAHA.)

I registered That Baby for her program, and off we went, out the door considerably poorer and into the scorching midday heat. Where we got into our mobile sauna of a vehicle and drove off to the grocery store.

Sweat pouring off us, we did a quick run into the mercifully air-conditioned grocery store for a couple of items for supper. I am making calzones for dinner, so I wanted to buy some pre-made bread dough. If you have not purchased this before, it can be found in a freezer in the bakery and it costs next to nothing. You let it rise when you get home and voila! Instant fresh bread.

Except when you have to drive in zillion-degree heat. In which case, your bag of bread dough goes POOF! and puffs up like a startled cat in the three minutes it takes to drive home.

Le sigh.

So this afternoon, it’s a couple of episodes of SuperWhy in the air conditioned comfort of Stinkerbelle’s playroom, followed by a dunk in the kiddie pool in the backyard. To be followed by more air-conditioned goodness. And poofy calzones.

And tomorrow, when it is stinking hot again, rather than get a bee in my bonnet to run off and do some stupid errands, I’m planning to do exactly nothing and leaving the day to the dogs. Or the pigs. Whatever.

Making Waves

It is yet another steamy week here in Suburbiaville. It is uncomfortably humid and warm. This means that it will be freezing cold and rainy for the one week we have booked to go home to Nova Scotia for a visit, as well as teeming with mosquitoes, and there will be a coating of ice on the pool.

Le sigh.

Today, we will be going for our regular weekly playdate with friends, except today? We are going swimming. This is good and bad.

It is good, obviously, for the fact that we can beat the heat and humidity for a little while. I like this. It is also good because this is the one day of the week where I can sometimes have our SUV to drive. My almost-fifteen-year-old car no longer has functioning air conditioning — the car’s worth $1500, and it would cost that much to fix or replace the A/C, so that’s a big NO — so on days when it is very hot and we have to drive to visit our friends, BDH lets me take the truck and he takes my car.

He’s a good man. A good man, who is right now sweating and putt-putt-putting along on his way to work, deafened by 4×60 air conditioning.

But back to swimming. It is also good because That Baby loves the water. She loves to splash and paddle and jump. She loves to float on her back in a life jacket. Mind you, swimming lessons were months ago, a distant memory in Toddler Time, so perhaps she will get to the pool today and freak out and DEAR DOG WHAT IS THAT THING FULL OF WATER??? It’s hard to say. But I think she will have fun.

Now, it’s not all sunshine and skittles, this swimming thing. For one thing, this means I HAVE TO BE SEEN IN A SWIMSUIT. There comes a certain age where you figure that when you purchase a swimsuit, it should also come with a supply of protective goggles for all those around you who must be subjected to the horror of Middle Aged Woman In Bathing Suit.

I have reached that age. It’s like trying to pack twenty pounds of sausage in a five-pound bag.

Normally, it’s not so bad if you are going to be somewhere, like swimming lessons, where you are surrounded by people who are also mom-shaped and enduring the trauma of wearing a bathing suit when they really do not want to. But today, we will be around people we KNOW. People who I would rather only see me fully clothed from head to toe — possibly even in a parka to hide all the unfortunateness of my mid-life figure. But I can’t, so I will suck it up because my kid wants to swim.

The other unfortunate thing…

*****TMI ALERT! TMI ALERT!*****

*****LOOK AWAY, SENSITIVE TYPES!! THIS MEANS YOU!!*****

*****PROCEED WITH CAUTION!!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!! *****

The other unfortunate thing about going out in public in a swimsuit, is that, as a woman, and in particular a Stay-at-Home Mom type of Woman, it involves a fair amount of *ahem* “Womanscaping”.

If you are a SAHM, some days you are lucky to have even put on clothes that didn’t have some sort of stain or food substance or boogers or whatever on it, let alone wear something nice. Showers are, some days, a distant yet pleasant dream. You get up and put on WHATEVER and stumble through your days.

So on days when you actually DO manage to get showered and shampooed and shiny clean, tending the Ladygardens is the last thing on your mind. So when faced with the prospect of wearing a swimsuit in public, it requires a level of awareness and preparation that requires digging into the distant long-ago reaches of your consciousness, when you used to be an Attractive and Social Human Being.

I mean, oh my DOG. You want me to WHAT??? WHERE??

It’s not for the faint of heart.

*****END TMI ALERT. YOU ARE SAFE NOW.*****

It’s a dodgy proposition, this going swimming business. I mean, I don’t even know if I remember how to swim. I might just land in the water and sink like a rock. A fat, spandex-encased, well-groomed rock.

But you do these things for your kids. Because you love them. And you hope they will remember, and choose a nice home to put you in when you are old.

One without a swimming pool, of course.

Out in the World

I’ve been unplugged and gone for a couple of days. Where have I been, you ask?

OUT IN THE BIG, WIDE WORLD. WALKING.

I know. Crazy talk. Walking? In March? Well, let me tell you, it has been sunny and warm this week, so I have done some great long walks all over the place with That Baby. It was warm enough on Tuesday that I was out in a t-shirt. My hands are already suntanned from walking and pushing the stroller.

I did 10 km on Monday, and liked it so much I turned around and did another 10 km on Tuesday. It was so nice to be out again. I have missed walking, given that we walked almost every day last year — or at least, every day with reasonable weather. And I have been so tired being cooped up all winter. That Baby didn’t think much of it either, so she was loving the outdoors time. And it is a great way for me to get through our current 100 Day Challenge (day 69 today!) which is really nice. (Maybe I’ll put all my mileage together on a map and post it. Like, if I was walking to Nova Scotia or to the cottage or something. It’d be fun to see how far I’ve gone.)

I am feeling it today, with sore muscles and joints, so tonight I did my exercise on our Wii. But tomorrow, I’ll be out walking again. It’s our weekly play date with Austin and his mom, and we’re getting together at a local sports complex which is a trailhead for one of our local trail systems. It’s paved, so it will be good for strollers or for little runners to run with only foot and bike traffic to contend with. And I think that we’ll be on an 8 km segment start to finish, so hopefully we get through a decent walk.

I’ve missed walking. I’m glad winter is just about done.

Moving. On, Around, Up…

Whoa. It’s been a time here at the House of Peevish. Bubby has left the building, and as she has moved on to bigger and better things, so do we.

(Actually, what she has moved on to is, I think, haunting the other cats and That Baby. Everyone has been displaying distinctly Bubby-like behaviours since her departure, and in general acting like weenies. So either she is haunting them — AND I WOULD NOT PUT IT PAST HER — or at the very least, she had a quick word with each of them before she left and left them explicit instructions. Being a weenie from beyond the grave — it’s her style.)

But the past week or so has caused us to take stock of things. And we have decided to get some things done. Lots of things. Moving things. Cleaning things. All sorts of things.

And then on Saturday, I threw my back out. And so, as I sit in my chair, it has been mostly BDH who has been doing things.

(Bah. I am sore and peevish. And feeling like an arse because I can’t do much to help BDH in his quest for order.)

There are all sorts of tasks that we’ve been wanting to accomplish, and for whatever reason, Opus’s death has kicked us into gear and we decided to do some of them. Or maybe it’s the onset of fall that’s done it, opening the windows and letting the cool air and sunshine in. But whatever it is, we’ve been cleaning and sorting and organizing like crazy.

Okay. BDH has. Whatever.

We put thousands of photos into albums. We washed and folded lots of laundry. We cleaned and put away Opus-maintenance items like her cage and her blankets and her litter box. We reorganized furniture. We made (or planned to make) food from the produce in our sadly neglected kitchen garden, like jerk and pesto and tomato sauce, which will then go in the freezer to be enjoyed all year.

We’re getting our lives in order, too. We got a calendar, one of those dry-erase deals, and put it up on the kitchen wall, so we can track appointments and Stinkerbelle’s swimming lessons and garbage days and whatever else. We started off a personal fitness challenge. We’re scouring websites and cookbooks for new or healthier or more interesting or more budget-friendly recipes to try. We’re making checklists. We’re imposing order on chaos.

It has been nice. It has been some change. Change is sometimes good.

The only problem? With all this moving and changing, there will come a time, hours or days or weeks from now, when one of us will go, “Have you seen my X?” And neither of us will have sweet fanny all of an idea where the heck we put X in all our flurry of cleaning and futzing and moving.

But it’s okay. Opus moved on, nice weather moved in, and we got moving. It’s all good, in its own way.

Wandering

You may have noticed I was not here yesterday. Well, it was 15 degrees outside and sunny. So, That Baby and I went for a walk.

THREE times.

I like going out walking with That Baby, and she enjoys it too. I think we were both tired of sitting inside, tired of the TV, tired of just us over the wintertime. So since spring has arrived, we have taken every opportunity we can to go out.

Our car being on the blink has been a real blessing in disguise. For starters, if we want to go anywhere, we have to walk. Now, that has limited some of our choices — for example, I could not enroll Stinkerbelle in swimming lessons this spring because we have no means of getting anywhere. And it requires compromise — the money I would have spent on swimming lessons will now go towards fixing my brakes instead. But all in all, having to walk places has been good exercise for me, and we both sleep well with all the fresh air.

Another really cool thing is that we are exploring. Some days, we are only walking to the store and back. But now that the days are warmer and there is gradually less and less chance of little people catching a chill or getting chapped cheeks, we’ve had more time to walk. So, I will sometimes get my computer out and pull up a local map before we set out, and we’ll head for a neighbourhood that we have not seen before. Since we are limited to stroller-friendly walks, so far we’ve only ventured to places where we have lots of sidewalk. But it has been nice. I put on my iPod and we just go.

I am getting more fit as we go along, as well. Yesterday, for example, we walked for about 3 hours or so all told, and about 14 km (or 9 miles if you prefer). We wandered down streets we’d never seen before in neighbourhoods we’ve never visited. As long as I checked the map for the major in-and-out streets, we are good. We wander down streets that look interesting, or have good names, or if it is windy, provide some shelter from the wind. But because it is all new and different, I can go for quite some time without noticing the time or the distance, so I am, by extension, able to go farther and for longer, and so on. But I am walking with just baby, stroller, iPod and water, so we don’t venture farther afield than about half an hour’s walk from home, just in case of a diaper blowout or a suddenly hungry Stinkerbelle. So I think as the spring wears on I will have to consider bringing along a diaper bag. And some snacks.

Wandering has been good for our heads, as well. Stinkerbelle has discovered trees, and birds, and dogs that we meet along the way. She’s got a whole big world to discover. Me, I just get some of myself back by listening to news documentaries or travel programmes or whatever music I want to (which is not played on the xylophone a la Baby Einstein, sung by the Wiggles, or is in a movie musical of some kind). And, let’s be honest for a minute, I love the adoration that That Baby gets from almost everybody she passes, as they marvel at her gorgeousness or are won over my her funny, cheerful disposition. It’s good for the Mommy soul.

But the one downside — well, not really a downside, so much as a side effect — of our long wandering walks about town is physical. My everything hurts. Muscles are complaining and cramping on a regular basis. I have blisters on my blisters. And every time I move there’s an audible “URRGGGGGHHHH” or “OOOWWWWW”, which is unbecoming, not to mention how it makes me look like a giant pansy.

And then there’s the issue of sun, which is becoming a problem because That Baby REFUSES to tuck her right hand in, and is consequently getting a tan on one hand. So, sunscreen will soon be in order. Not to mention the GIANT SUNGLASSES I dream of buying her.

We’re both going to look FAB as we wander this summer. As long as you can’t hear my groaning, of course.