Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Peggy's Post

Two stunning photos from our excursion to Peggy's Cove, August 2015:

Sunday Stadium Workouts Come to Ottawa

Stadium Crew:  Sunday, September 27th
The view from the bottom of the steps, looking up, up, up, is daunting.  The view from the top is dizzying.  There’s a new fitness experience in Ottawa this fall, making use of Lansdowne stadium, and it’s open to everyone.  

Free fitness movements are a growing trend.  The most famous of its kind, The November Project (november-project.com), was started in Boston in 2011 by two Northeastern rowing alumni as a method of staying motivated to train in the cold months.  Over the winter, the group gained momentum and members.  Today, upwards of 200 people meet three times a week at 6:30 am to run stadium steps or hills in Boston alone, with satellite groups all over the United States and Canada (the Toronto group meets Wednesdays at 6:30 am at Casa Loma).

Free fitness is not a new concept in Ottawa.  Lululemon provides instructors for the free and immensely popular Yoga on the Hill every Wednesday at noon from May 6 to September 30.  As of July 30 this year, a free Bootcamp (www.phbootcamp.com) is hosted on a rotating basis by several of Ottawa’s fitness companies and professionals, Thursdays at noon.

But certified fitness instructors Tracy Glennon and Andrea Laporte decided that Ottawa was in need of more.  Both employees of GoodLife Fitness (Tracy is a Group Fitness Divisional Manager and Andrea is a Group Fitness Manager), whose new Lansdowne location is the meeting place for the stadium workout, they asked if they could have access to one of the city’s most incredible facilities for  a new kind of workout.  The stadium owners, the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, agreed, and a crowd of about 15 friends and fitness colleagues came out for the first stadium workout on Sunday, September 13.

After a thorough warm up at field level, during which everyone sensible should be wondering why they are doing this so early on a Sunday, the participants head up the steps to the North Side stands.  They are divided among the stairways, then are put through their paces for 60 minutes.

The workout is, admittedly, not suitable for everyone.  Although the leaders offer options to reduce the intensity and impact, and remind participants to work at their own pace, the hour-long interval workout uses the stadium stairs as its gym.  The intensity of the moves varies, but make no mistake, this can be as challenging or hardcore as the individual.  Sprinting up the steps, high-knee runs, two-footed jumps, lunges, pushups, squats, and planks…. The most shocking move yet?  Walking up the steps on your hands, with your lower body being supported in a wheelbarrow position by the person behind you.

The group, so far, is heavily weighted with other fitness instructors, who can be heard calling out support and motivation to their fellow participants.  For others, the challenge is personal.

Last Sunday, when the whistle blew to signal the end of a second set of two-footed jumping all the way up to the top of the stadium, one of the participants yelled out in frustration.  “I was three steps away!”  She vowed to make it to the top in two minutes next week.  

No equipment is mandatory, other than good athletic shoes, but a water bottle is a good idea, as are gloves; after all, you’re putting your hands on stadium steps that have, at the very least, bird poop on them.

The workouts will continue at Lansdowne every Sunday at 8 am until the end of November, after which time there may be issues with snow buildup on the steps.  The instructors hope to negotiate something with the City by then.  In the meantime, Tracy is passionate about building this group.  “Spread the word.  Bring someone you like.”  She laughs.  “… Or someone you don’t like.”

What it is:  Ottawa Stadium Workout
When:  Sundays at 8 am, until the end of November
Cost:  Free (GoodLife will validate parking)
Open to:  Adults, 18 and up (must sign waiver)

 #StadiumWorkout #ottawa #FreeFitnessMovement

Monday, 24 August 2015

The Legend of U-U

Before going into details about our incredible trip down east,* I need to try to capture the imagination and weird creativity of our Ailsa.

Cute is as cute does.
This photo, taken yesterday, shows Ailsa dressed in her finery (clip-on earrings, I swear!) for a birthday party.

Ailsa comes across as a normal little girl.  True, she seems to be higher energy than anyone else on the planet, and her dulcet tones can pierce your eardrums a mile away if she's happy, excited, upset, or, well, awake.  She bounces more than she stands still, and runs/leaps/jumps more than she walks.  She climbs and swings and... hmmm... maybe a trip to a doctor for some sedation might be in order.

Where was I?  

Oh yes.  She's also funny.  SUPER funny.

Example:  we were staying in the gorgeously-finished basement of Aaron and Cathy last week, and while the rest of us were still getting ready to head out for the day, Miss Ailsa made a friend.  She found a small collection of stuffed animals and some play food, and suddenly, she was having a tea party with a stuffed snake (as one does).

This seemed sort of odd to me, but the snake in question was a little bit fuzzy and apparently housebroken.  Being a cobra, it had the traditional U-shaped design on the back of its head, and Ailsa promptly christened it "U-U".


It was a very nice snake, well, usually it was a pretty nice snake, but one time, when it was just a baby, it bit her on the hand!

"Oh my goodness!" I exclaimed.  "Were you ok?"

"Yes," Ailsa said.  "She was just a baby, and I had told her not to eat all the treats.  But she did, so I gave her a spanking on the bum,** and then she bit me."


"She promised not to do it again, though, and she hasn't.  I love her."

Other interesting tidbits that were revealed about this snake:  she only likes people and kitties.  At one time or another, every other animal has been mean to her.  When I questioned how they were mean, I was told that sometimes they didn't want to play with her, and some of them made loud noises, and she didn't like that.  Also, sometimes she bites her tongue.  I swear, Ailsa learned more about that snake in 10 minutes than she knows about me, and told us all.

If only there were a way to harness that energy and imagination into such activities as "sitting still" or "speaking with an inside voice".

* Possible future post.  You probably shouldn't hold your breath.

** See?  This blog is educational.  I bet you didn't even know that snakes had bums!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Tamsin TWO-namint!

Oops.  Third child, don't you know. 

Tamsin turned 2 in November, so... um....

Birthday Breakfast!

All she wanted for her birthday was a lollipop cake.

...but the cake lollipops were a hit, too.

Whoa... time lapse.

Ok, listen.  If it helps, I feel guilty every day about not updating this thing.  In fact, I feel terrible.  So, in just a few pictures, here's the important stuff that has happened lately:

Two muppets, muppeting around on MY PIANO!!!!  
I GOT A PIANO!!!  After years and years of dreaming and quietly saving, I made good on half of my threat to Chris when we went to Toronto for a year:  since he wouldn't be around, I was going to buy a piano and a kitty.  I found this gorgeous instrument in my neighbourhood, for a great price, and even had a tuner accompany me to ensure that it was a good buy.  Turns out it was made in the 1890s... and it sounds beautiful.  Our living room seems to have shrunk a bit, however.

Remaining muppet.  And MY PIANO!!!!
Visitors from the East arrived in ...May?  June?  A while back.  I had met Aaron, long, long ago, when I moved in across the street from him when I was 3.  He was up visiting with Cathy, Chase and Helen.  It was lovely, but so very, very strange to see our kids playing together.  Especially as Tamsin and Helen are about the same age that Aaron and I were when we met.  Yikes.  It still seems surreal.

This is an amazing picture of the Hufflings and my friend Aaron's kids, all sitting together nicely, eating freezies.  

A day at the park... well, there are many days at the park, but not always with the camera.  Tamsin is determined to keep up with her big brother and sister, and climbs like a monkey, scaring the bejeezus out of everyone.  She's proven over and over that she's capable, but it's still nervewracking to watch her go.  She is so funny, but uses her humour and cuteness to get away with evil.  I often describe her as "a Terrible Two with Red Hair... so, like Satan, but with more creativity and energy."

Tamsin's big now.

Vaughn's now lost his top 2 and bottom 2 baby teeth.  He looked absolutely ridiculously adorable for a while, but now his big teeth are coming in and he's just handsome again.  Snif.  He can read so much more than we think he can, adds, subtracts, and is generally brilliant.  He still loves lego, and we're going through the Harry Potter books together, as well as the first 3 Star Wars movies.  He draws very intricate pictures of people with bombs and guns, so I'm half proud...?
Vaughn's teeth were super goofy for a while.  Also, he can fly a super-cool RC airplane 

Ailsa.... what to say about her?  She is strong, energetic, spirited, creative, fiercely loving, and a very loud handful!  She blows us away with her strength, determination, and auditory memory, and had a very successful first year at school.  She makes friends wherever she goes, with her joy and also her raucous, inappropriate laughter.
Ailsa:  strong and fierce.

These two are ridiculous - they are either getting along like mad or driving each other crazy!

Last but not least, this was taken today.  They are having a great summer with Miss Kat, who helps them with arts and crafts, projects, trips to the library and pools, and generally spoils them completely.  Our summer has started quite nicely with soccer camp for V, a horrible, rainy camping trip, and we have upcoming plans for a learn-to-fish day, swimming lessons, gymnastics camp for Ailsa, a trip to Halifax and another camping trip that will be fun and pleasant, dammit.

Mild-mannered Hufflings by night (when they're asleep and quiet), these superheroes transform into their true selves in the light of day.  Bad guys and cookies, look out!  Your days are numbered....
Don't give up on me.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

(Belated) Early January Random Ramble (with wine)

What's up with the radio silence?, nobody has asked.  Too bad, I'll tell you.

Backstory:  Against all rational thought and cautionary tales from friends, family, and people on the Internet, I had three children.  The first one caused a huge stretching of the belly, which, although it didn't exactly "snap" back into place, it came pretty darn close.  Comparatively.  The second one caused another huge stretching of the belly, and decided to manifest itself in small stretch marks where my belly button ring had been, and also a slight -- but unnoticeable to a non-medical professional -- umbilical hernia.  The third one, who coincidentally also has red hair, rent my rectus abdominus asunder to the extent that it the two halves have still not migrated back together (and she's TWO), and encouraged the umbilical hernia to progress to the point that whenever I sat up, laughed, or even breathed, my intestines would leap forth and try to escape my body through my bellybutton...resulting in terrible discomfort, but mostly an outie.

SO....I had an umbilical hernia repair (I call it a herniectomy*) at the end of November, so (and this was written in January) I’ve been unable to do anything, and can’t lift more than 10 lbs… note that Tamsin weighs considerably more than that, especially when she’s mad.  Chris, knowing that he somehow booked travel only 2 1/2 days after my surgery (!!!)  (again) (!!!)  taught Vaughn how to help Tamsin out of her crib, and figured that I’d be fine.

I was actually excited for the surgery – aside from being in constant discomfort, having an outie, and spending nights whining about the discomfort and the outie, I was looking forward to checking into the hospital, lying around in a gown for a while, then being drugged until I passed out quietly, and napping away the rest of the day, while my organs could technically be being harvested, and I wouldn’t mind at all.  In my mind, it was like going to a day spa in the 70s.  A shady one, I suppose, but a spa nonetheless.  (See also, Mother of 3.)

I had a hard time falling asleep the night before my appointment, and I woke up the morning of the surgery with a very sore throat.  I was SO upset – the literature said that they wouldn't operate if I was sick.  I didn’t want to reschedule again**, after organizing my life, finding subs for my class, and filling out paper forms for sick leave from work.  But mostly because I viewed it as a vacation and no damn sore throat was going to take away my vacation!  But I went in, put on my fashionable gowns (one on front, one on back), climbed onto my gurney, got covered up with two nice, warm blankets, and…had a nap for three hours.  In the middle of the day.  It was just what I needed.  I felt completely decadent, until I started getting hungry.

The surgery was only three hours behind schedule, and I was eventually taken by wheelchair into the operating room.  Everyone was friendly and funny,*** and I only had a few (prolonged) fears about my mortality as I hopped on up onto the cross-shaped table and had my arms strapped down.  I'm always nervous when they put me under, but as usual, when they had me breathe deeply into the mask,  I remember giggling, and maybe even trying to say, "wheeee!", as everything swirled happily around me...

I woke up with a breathing tube being "gently" removed from my throat, but dozed on and off for a little while before having to admit that I should probably go home or something.  My wise mother had suggested that I move in with them for a few days right after the surgery, as I "probably wouldn't get the rest I needed" at home with my three Hufflings, no matter how much they were told to leave me alone.  Well, I spent three lovely days alternating between knitting in front of a lovely fire and passing out from the drugs, also in front of a lovely fire.  Either way, I expected a quick recovery after those three days of complete rest, because my doctor told me it was “only two stitches”.  Erm, turns out it’s a 4-6 week recovery, because they cut your abdominal muscles (WHAT??  Nobody told me that part!) and sew them back together, apparently only using two measly stitches.  The upside:  I no longer have an outie that is actually my intestines trying to escape.  The downside:  pain/agony/can’t exercise – not even pushups!!!, and can’t pick up small children, even when they’re clean and sweet-smelling, for well over a month.  Upside (continued):  can’t pick up sticky, stinky, bad-tempered children, DOCTOR’S ORDERS! 

Comment from friend former coworker:  Wow that has to be hard for you... how do you lift wine to your face? I'm assuming you use a crazy straw (I'm implying you drink very large glasses of wine in case you didn't get it haha) 

My response:  I appreciate the implication, but silly girl, you are wildly underestimating my ingenuity and classiness.  I just put the box on a low table, lie down underneath it, and reach up to press the button every few seconds.  Voila!  Or, conversely, thinking outside the box (ha ha), I don’t lift the wine to my face.  I lower my face to the wine.  Also, if you must know, I never drink wine from crazy straws… unless I’m having a bubble bath, and then I actually use red licorice as a straw and stop judging me because it’s awesome and now I have a total craving for pink wine and twizzlers.****

But I digress:  They gave me morphine for the recovery, which just made me dizzy and nauseous and didn't do much for the pain.  Also, the bottle of pills said I had to choose between them and wine, so by the second night (when the pill bottle spoke to me again), I switched to wine.  ALTHOUGH a few people have told me I may have just not had ENOUGH morphine to get the pain relief – to be fair, I tend to err on under-medicating myself (a mistake I don’t make with wine).  UNfortunately, it was Mom and Dad's homebrew wine.  Le sigh.  Dubious moral-in-progress:  should have taken more drugs?


They say that you're not supposed to drive a car for 2 weeks after general anaesthetic.  I mistakenly thought that it was because I could strain my stitches (which is also true, I guess), but apparently, you are actually unable to function as a responsible human being during that time.  I just recently found out that I completed my instructor evaluation for GoodLife 11 days later (ok, I knew that part), but was just told that I didn't send the attachment... and it is literally nowhere. 

This post is being written long after this whole thing.  My stomach is now ... better than it was.  I no longer look pregnant, nor do I have an outie.  I can do pushups (honestly, yay!).  I am not back to the same fitness level I had at the end of November, and the doctor also did not gather any and all extra skin into the incision, despite the post-it that I stuck to my stomach explaining my preferences in that respect.  As I have now had to endure two separate 3-month periods without exercise (bedrest with Tamsin and now this), I can say, definitively, that I am not willing to accept that my body will change with age, though, so, with wine in hand, I again declare, as I did long ago:

I will be strong.
I will be fit.
I am doing this for me.

... and I'm adding on this:

And I will wear rock a bikini again.

*  I believe I stole this term from a Paula Danziger book, but I can’t remember exactly which one.

** Note that the first time I had scheduled the surgery, Chris then scheduled travel for three days after.  Hmm.

***  Funnily enough, it was the same anaesthetician (ha ha?) that gave me the epidural when I had Tamsin.  AND SHE REMEMBERED ME!  First, because I was so small and she had never given anyone such a small amount of medication before, and Second, because I asked her "you've done this before, right?"  (I still think that's a perfectly reasonable question, btw.)

**** Not making that up.  Just ask Chris.  He thinks it's charming.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The Theory of Relativity

(Alternate title:  Pride and Guilt, all rolled into one.  As usual.)             

The kidlets have had some good adventures over the holidays.  Possibly most exciting, they’ve been going on individual sleepovers at Grandma and Grandpa’s house – meaning one child gets prime one-on-one time with my parents, and our house gets 33% more sanity for one night and one day!

Ailsa was the first to be invited.  Being a stereotypical Middle Child,* Mom and Dad thought that she would appreciate the individual attention and the prestige of being First.  Surprising everyone, she declined.  She thought it would be more fun to go there with Vaughn and Tamsin.  Even when Grandma called her and invited her especially, she simply said, “No,” then handed the phone to Vaughn, so he could go instead.  He packed his backpack, and, with his beloved, bedraggled blankie in tow, we drove three kids out to the country for the annual tree-decorating… then left with just two little girls.  Snif.  Who knows what Vaughn got up to (video games and a movie, apparently), but I was able to sleep in till 8:12 (I knew he was the early bird!!!) the next morning, and take the girls swimming (“kimming,” as Tamsin calls it).  It was almost relaxing.**  Vaughn returned just before bedtime, full of smiles and stories, and Ailsa was suddenly eager to go.

But!  Because she had declined, she was bumped to the end of the line.  Actually, she was bumped for more practical reasons – with just two …um….functional kids, and me at work, Chris could have a relatively easier day.  So little Tamsin Toonamint the Two-Year-Old was invited.  She helped me pack her bag, and to the sound of sobs from her brother and sister (who suddenly decided that they love her, and wailing, thrust stuffed kitties into her arms), she marched out the door with my parents, proud and not even caring that we were all sad to see her go, the wretched little ingrate.  I called just after her bedtime to see if my poor little girl had cried too much for me.  “Not at all,” Mom reported.  Humph.  The next morning, at work, she had the nerve to call me and coach Tamsin to happily say, “Good morning Mommy!”, and then Mom told me that she had slept in till 8:30.  Hubba-whaaa?  She also sent some photos of Tamsin not crying for her mommy:  Tamsin smiling in front of the tree, Tamsin helping with the dishes, Tamsin sweeping the floor, Tamsin helping Grandpa light the woodstove… waitaminute… she’s never that helpful at home…

But the whole point of this story is the relatively easy part.  I worked (a nice, quiet day at the office, where I was appallingly productive, could actually think things through, and even cleaned off my desk a little), then was picked up by Chris and the kids to go look at the Christmas lights downtown and eat some delicious Indian food.  It was still light out at 4:15, so we decided to have an early dinner at the East India Company.  The decor is stunning, the buffet plentiful, the food spicy-yet-delicious…and it’s in the Entertainment book, too.  Vaughn and Ailsa were perfect little dinner companions – they got to drink ice water out of actual wine glasses! – and not only did they love to explore the carved walls, sculptures, and wall hangings, but they also couldn’t stop unconsciously shimmying to the traditional music, which was awesome.  Right before we left, a big group came in, and one of the kids, who was about 10, with almost black hair, and the same long eyelashes and dark eyes that Vaughn has, looked around and said something quietly about the decorations.  His uncle said, loud enough for us to hear, “It’s not weird.  It’s your culture.”  Hilarious.

We then ran down Elgin street, all the way to Confederation Park, to play tag among the brightly-lit trees.  We then crossed the street to City Hall, to watch the lights around the Rink of Dreams change colour and the skaters skate, then walked behind the Courthouse, climbed on the monuments, and had a boys-against-girls race back to the car.  It was SO cold.  And also, the girls won.

It was such a fun, active, pleasant night…well, relatively, anyway.  I couldn’t quash the feeling that we were somehow betraying Tamsin by having such a nice time together, that we almost certainly wouldn’t have had without a considerable amount of hassle:  a snowsuit, a stroller, a high chair…  We drove home, hoping to get there before her triumphant return; when she arrived five minutes later, Miss Tamsin strolled in all cool as a cucumber, and not nearly as excited to see us as we were to see her.  Turns out that when they got close to the city, she started asking in panicked tones, “Ganma house?  Ganpa house?” – I guess she had more fun there than she does at home.  Humph again.

Ailsa’s turn is next, in a week or two.  Whatever will can we do without her?



*  I don’t believe in birth order theory, but if I did, Ailsa fits the description exactly.

**  My own theory of relativity involves activities that used to be impossible to manage with one or two children that are now laughingly easy because we have the perspective of life with three kids.***  Note that Einstein, who also (probably) had three kids, never had to take them all swimming at the same time, because one was put up for adoption he was smart.   

***  Which is impossible, even if you're a genius.