Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

2010 is off to a questionable start. While things have been really excellent on the triathlon training and school/teaching front for me, January continued the stress of December in terms of health at home.

First things first: Last week was so great for training. On Saturday the track was closed so I biked and then ran on the treadmill. I managed 1km on the treadmill after my bike, which was an improvement on my previous combination of bike + 600m.

I swam 800m on Monday, the first 500 of which were continuous front crawl. I feel very confident with that aspect of the triathlon. I was tired by the end but not exhausted. I mostly stopped because I get so bored of front crawl. ūüėÄ I did 7 minutes of treading (with a minute of legs only thrown in) as well.

Wednesday was a write-off because the boys were sick (we’ll get there…), and Friday’s workout almost didn’t happen because I was sick. By lunchtime I was feeling a little better though, and I was anxious not to miss another workout (the edge of the bandwagon was perilously close!). So I dragged myself, sniffly nose and all, to the gym. Somehow, amazingly, my bike took me 24:30, my best time yet, and then I ran 1.7 k! I was so shocked and honestly, really proud. If someone had told me on January 1 that I could run 1.7k continuously by the end of the month, I’d have laughed like a maniac. Never mind the 10k bike first! And yet here I am.

I am debating whether I should just do a run tomorrow or do a brick – I am leaning towards just the run because I think doing the 2.4k last week was a bit of a breakthrough for my endurance. 6 laps around the oval is 2.4k – maybe I can manage 7?

With that dutifully recorded, on to other things.

January was a difficult month emotionally for me because my men, both big and small, were unwell. Silas’ main incision took much longer to heal than it should have and occasioned quite a bit of worry (n0t to mention grossness). Thankfully in the last 3 days it has taken a turn for the better and now looks almost as good as the two small incisions which had no issues. Having Si at less than 100% has been an eyeopener for me to say the least! I’ve always known I relied on him, but it’s amazing how much more drained I was. I’ve never stopped being grateful for his strength, but I’ll admit that I am more aware of my appreciation for it now.

My poor Malkie has had a pretty awful month. It started with an emergency ambulance ride to the Children’s Hospital due to hot tea spilling all over him. Thankfully the burns turned out to be 1st degree, but it was terrifying for everyone and very sore for him. Within a week he began running low grade fevers during the day and high grade fevers at night. When they lasted more than 3 days, I headed back to the Children’s. He checked out very healthy and I was assured it was probably a virus and would be gone soon…but to come back in 3 days if it was not. 3 days later, back we went. Exactly the same story. 3 days later with the nighttime fevers unabated I headed back again, fairly sure that they would be adding “Mother possible candidate for Munchausen’s by proxy” to his file. Thankfully¬† the Doctor was very sympathetic and assured me that although it was almost definitely a 10 day viral fever,¬†¬† I was certainly right to have kept bringing him in, and that he was quite certain it would break soon.¬† Which it did, finally, 2 days later.¬† Breaking the whiny, indulge-my-every-whim-I’m-sick behaviour has taken up most of the rest of the week. Sigh.

Last but certainly not least, Friday night featured yet ANOTHER trip to the Children’s, this time with Dair. His first playground altercation earned him a deep cut just below the eye, which ended up needing 2 stitches.

Thankfully everyone seems to be on the mend now, and this weekend has given us all a lot of much needed rest. I’m fairly confident that February should turn out better health wise. I mean, it would have to really!

On the balance, January was a wash. The health stuff was pretty severely awful, but school is so fascinating and exciting and Silas has a new job and I’m excited about the triathlon. February holds promise to be pretty awesome, so I’m excited to begin.


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Our Robins

We were astonished and thrilled when a pair of robins chose to nest in our deck supports this spring! Well I was thrilled. Si was torn between being happy and being Very Put Out that they were nesting on his climbing holds, thereby halting climbing on the deck until the babies are out of the nest!

They actually started two nests, the first on the more western of the two vertical holds. They abandoned that for mysterious Robin reasons and built a very pretty and sturdy one on the eastern hold.

At first they were very skittish about us, but once the eggs were in the nest Mama Robin had to just put up with us moving around while she kept them warm, and now both Mama and Daddy are quite relaxed about us, to the point that they let me take some awesome pictures yesterday.

I am so excited about this nest and babies – I feel like it’s¬† proof of how welcoming and safe our yard is (not to mention chemical free and bug laden! ).

So without further ado, here is our robin family! 

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That sounds like the introduction to a sermon, doesn’t it? I’m not thinking about Yahweh sending flocks of locusts though. I’m thinking about the many, many conversations I’ve had with other mothers about judging and being judged about particular parenting decisions.

The most recent involved older children riding in¬†strollers.¬†I came down rather firmly on the “get them walking” side of the fence, but that’s immaterial to the discussion of judgement in general.¬† A large part of the discussion was about whether anyone should be judging anyone else’s stroller use, and by extension, any¬†parenting decision¬†at all.¬† As always happens, at the merest suggestion that they might be considered judgemental, people began to backpedal and phrase things in conditional language.

Why does that always happen? No wants to be seen as judgemental, even though we all are. By defining our own set of values and morals, we are necessarily also defining what is unacceptable to us. Of course we can live according to our own values and not try to impose them on others, and we can have compassion and understanding for those who choose different ways, but if you do not think your way is the best way, why would you be doing it?

This is where the fear of being judged comes in. In the endless Mommy discussions it is often proposed that “We should all assume that everyone is doing the best they can”. Now first of all I disagree with that – lots of people are lazy or uninformed and simply are not doing the best they can. But secondly, if you really truly believe that what you are doing is the best for your child, then why is there such an angry visceral reaction to being¬† judged? Surely if you are confident in your decisions judgement from others should roll off without impact.

This doesn’t apply only to parenting decisions. It applies to everything. If you really like that pair of¬†skinny¬†jeans¬†and truly think¬†they show off your figure to best advantage, oughtn’t you wear them without worrying about disapproving glances (particularly from me ūüėČ )?

Therein lies the answer, I believe. People may make informed, carefully considered¬†decisions, but it is a strong part of the human condition to desire approval from others as well. The anger at being criticized and judged doesn’t necessarily come from a lack of confidence in our own decisions, but from hurt at the lack of approval. It takes a strong person indeed to be able to say “so what if they don’t approve, I’m still right” with no hurt at all.

The intersection of logic and feeling is always fraught with difficulty. The best we can do is to remember that not everyone’s opinion matters, but only that of those who have our best interest at heart.

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One of my very first experiences in geology was¬† field school. My prof for the course was Jerry Osborn and we took daytrips out from Calgary for 2 weeks straight, learning how to look at the world from a geological perspective.¬† I was 19 years old, eager and energetic¬†and very able to climb up and down steep mountain sides, wade through glacial creeks and traipse through dense underbrush for 10 hours a day. I wasn’t very good at observing subtle details, telling one kind of rock from another or coming up with theories as to why anything at all might be happening.

Today I did the first round of field observations for my Masters in Geology. My supervisor is Jerry Osborn, and we took a daytrip out from Calgary to look at some of the rivers I’d been analyzing on airphotos. I’m 30 (and oh-so-close to 31!) years old, eager and relaxed and to my great satisfaction, very able to climb up and down steep river banks, wade through glacial creeks and traipse through dense underbrush for a good 8 hours (I was darn glad there weren’t another two to go though!).¬† I¬†was pretty¬†good at observing subtle details and came up with a¬†reasonable amount of¬†original thought as to why¬†certain things might be happening in the river. My rock ID skills weren’t put¬†to the test, but rusty as they are they’re still better than 12 years ago :D.¬†

The beauty of today was that it crystalized all the learning I’ve been doing for the last 12 years. Walking up the creek at one point today I felt honest euphoria . Surrounded by Mother Nature in all her gentle glory, I was able to look around me not just with awe and wonder but also deep understanding.

I don’t know whether very many people get to have an experience like I did today. So often we choose our path and forge ahead with it, dealing with the sucesses and pitfalls, reaching goals and moving on without really reflecting. Even more often, our achievements are so different from those we visualized when we began that a comparison doesn’t make sense. Somehow, today I was given this extraordinary gift of a situation almost identical to the one I had when starting down my path and was able to truly conceptualize the learning I’ve done over the last 12 years.

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Today I cried with happiness because my boys were accepted into the University of Calgary day care. That might seem a bit of an¬†extreme reaction, but Dair has been on the waiting list since he was 6 months old, so for almost 3.5 years.¬† As it happens, the universe was looking out for me with that one – until now I couldn’t have afforded to pay for the heinously expensive program, nor would I have been content to put the boys in care for so long each week until the ages they’re now at.

I am really feeling like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders tonight. The childcare we had this past winter was very far from ideal (and in fact once we were no longer there we found out that they slap their chidren, often in front of our boys!). I thought I had found a better solution in the dayhome we trialed in June, but unfortunately they were not emotionally prepared to deal with the developmental stage Dair is at, nor provide the comforting care Mackie needs. I know that there will be hiccups with the Daycare as well, but at least there I know I’ll be dealing with trained impartial professionals. I’ll also be paying through the nose, so I’ll have no qualms bringing up the slightest concern!

It’s funny though, how one solution always leads to another question. Now I am wondering about our plans for the future. I can’t afford the childcare without my TA salary, and I can’t afford to lose our spot by taking the boys out for a year while I have a baby. So Rockbaby #3 is going to have to wait a while, and that brings with it a whole host of other questions.

But the point is that despite my irritation at waiting so very, very long on the list, it worked out exactly when I needed it and could manage it. So thank you very much, universe.

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The other day I was explaining the boys’ middle names to my sister-in-law and I mentioned that if we have a third boy someday I’m going to have to go farther afield to find appropriate namesakes as we’ve used up the immediate grandpas and great grandpas. The conversation got me thinking about the many men whose lines led to mine and how little¬†we often know of¬†the actual people our ancestors¬†were. If we’re lucky we know their names, even luckier and we know a few details about where they¬†were from and what they¬†did for a living.¬† In my family we are blessed with a journal written by my maternal grandmother’s paternal grandmother (got that?!) and I¬†adore reading it and thinking about¬†her¬†as an actual person rather than just a name and some dates. Yet in most families even 2 generations and the personalities begin to fade – how many of us really know what our great-grandparents were¬†like? Stories and spoken anecdotes may keep them alive to some degree of course.¬†But step out another generation, to your great great grandparents and is there anything left of the gentle man who loved to watch the leaves change and teach children to play the fiddle, or the bright strident woman who had a place for everything and a sharp word for any misdemeanour? Rarely.

How different it will be for our grandchildren and great grandchildren. Our generation inundates itself with details about our daily lives, our thoughts and opinions, the minutiae of our emotions. My great grandkids, were they to find BNABBT archives, would be able to read about nursing sores on my nipples and my opinions on an eighteen year old’s facial tattoos. And yet I find it rather unlikely that they would want to know those things. The information we put out there about ourselves these days isn’t like an old journal where personality is distilled by consistent phrases and a particular was of recording facts. It’s a life in entirety, and it would be as difficult to get to know the essential person behind it all as it is to get to know someone in real life.¬†I wonder whether our grandchildren will bother to try, or if they’ll prefer the anecdotes.

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Bees and Bounce

Today my mom’s friend Judy sent her a link about all the possible uses for Bounce (the dryer sheets). Among them was the ability to repell bees and wasps if worn on your person. Sounds good, right?

Until you start thinking about why it repells them. Those chemicals which stop your clothes from clinging together keep the pollinators away. (They also cause nasty rashes on my legs when sprayed on directly. Gross). I’ve been told before about the purported evils of dryer sheets, and I dutifully bought dryer balls which worked reasonably but not fantastically well until they split in¬†half about 2 months later. I guiltily went back to using dryer sheets (and trying¬†not to¬†breathe in when I rip them in thirds) – scent free, of course. Today’s link kicked my butt to¬†buy dryer balls again.

I find it exhausting trying to keep up with all of the good, clean, un-chemical-y, environmentally friendly¬†ways to live. ¬†I do it because I don’t want cancer (and more importantly don’t want my boys to get sick) and because I want the world to be at least as beautiful and liveable¬†for my boys when they’re grown as it has been for me. The City of Calgary helped me out by starting a door-to-door recycling program, replacing my half-hearted attempts to make it to the giant recycling bins every few weeks months. I don’t heat anything in plastic, we drink from stainless steel water bottles, we eat organic¬†when we can manage it.¬†And every time I feel like I’m getting a handle on it, something new (or something I’ve relegated to the back of my mind, like in this case!) comes along.

So my first thought¬†when I¬†read about the Bounce was “Oh no. Now I have¬†to get drier balls”. As in, “I can’t believe I have another thing to think about”. But after thinking it over, I’ve come back to the conclusion I almost always do come to. So what if it’s a minor inconvenience? So what if it takes more effort? It might be a new or different way of doing things, but if I do it not only will my family be healthier as a whole, but¬† for my boys it will be the normal, straightforward way, and their lives will be better for it. Or at least they’ll only have their own list of “oh no, that too?!!” to deal with!

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