Back on the horse

Did you miss me?  For the past 4 months I had been blogging over at the Total Makeover Challenge, a 4 month challenge I had been participating in.  In the end, I came in second, not too shabby.  But that wrapped up 2 weeks ago and I am bringing my writing back home.  (At some point I will try to migrate my challenge blogging over to this site in case anyone wants some bed time reading).

Coming off an injury takes time.  I had given myself over 4 weeks of rest from activity to rest a pinched nerve in my back and a janky shoulder (that is the official term, I believe).  I may or may not have over-trained (again) near the end of the challenge and surprise- it turned out poorly.

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This week I went back to yoga.  I had been surprised by how much I had missed it.  I was stressed and frustrated and all I wanted was to get back to my mat in that glorious heat. I had done a couple of deep stretch classes that had felt good and it felt the right like time to increase my activity.  My tendency to seek my natural state of slothness was starting to dominate again, and I didn’t want to go back to that place.

This week I booked myself a Flow class at my studio.  I don’t actually like Flow, I prefer a little more stillness in my practice, but it was the only class at the time I could make it to the studio.  10 minutes into the class, I remembered two things: 1. I really don’t like flow and 2: Coming off an injury sucks ass.  Your brain thinks you can do all the things, but your body is a jerk and doesn’t want to do it.

My stiff and still very round body didn’t love that hour.  I pushed as long as I could, but by about 40 minutes in, I was done.  While the entire class was busy flowing in and out of poses, I had turned into the adult equivalent of the 6 year old t-ball player picking his nose and turning in circles in the outfield.  I just lay on my mat, rocking back and forth in Happy Baby in my own little world, completely ignoring the rest of the class.  Joan of Arc and Warrior flows? Nope, I am just going to lie here, thanks.  Am I in Shivasana or have I passed out?  It could go either way.  As the largest woman at the studio (not just this class), I usually would have been worrying about what the other “normies” thought about the big lady rolling around in a ball on the floor.  But fuck it, they don’t know my back story and I really didn’t care what they thought.

I will keep going and do more to build up my strength and stamina over time, but I am just glad to be active again, if only for 75% of a class at a time.

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100 Days of Solitude

Kids in elementary school make a big deal of their first 100 days. With ziploc bags filled with popcorn kernels, popcicle sticks and macaroni, they throw a big party.
Marking 100 day milestones for grownups is a little less festive.


Our youngest daughter, Miller, was born in the beginning of October and I feel like I have climbed 100 hills and fought 100 battles in her first 100 days. With 2 other toddlers and a fiesty 7 year old, I struggled through.  Even with my amazing partner, I struggled though.

I struggled through all of the holidays from Thanksgiving to New Years. I struggled through breastfeeding failure and exclusive pumping. I struggled through toddler tantrums and potty training. I struggled through the emotions of meeting with our kids birth mother right at Christmas because it was the right thing to do. I struggled through the lack of confidence to even leave the house (seriously, we almost never left, ever). I struggled through 6 weeks of hormonal apocalypse when having a terrible reaction to a new birth control. I struggled with my patience. I struggled with the guilt of knowing that our baby was so easy, yet why did this all feel so hard? I struggled to find myself again. I struggled to keep positive and find the humour whenever I could. And while it came close (really, really close), I was never completely defeated.

Despite our near 3 month hermitting in our dark cave of a home, our children have luckily thrived; for which I am so grateful, as I came out of that first 100 days weary and worn. I will be eternally glad for the sun of spring, as my children are looking a little wan and pasty, slightly reminiscent of the Flowers in the Attic children, minus the incest and neglect.

As the new year hit, I was ready to do and be more. I wasn’t sure what that was, but I was ready. It was on EXACTLY day 100 after Miller was born that I had a serendipitous opportunity put in front of me. I saw an ad for the Total Makeover Challenge, a 4 month weightloss and self-improvement challenge for women in my area put on annually by a non-profit. There were some great rewards for the contestants (30 of them) and more so the winner. My cold, cynical heart suspects that this was a cult disguised in prizes or I am getting sold a timeshare at some point (I am still on the fence, but jumping in anyways). But the competitor within me saw this as an opportunity to compete and push myself. So I applied. And I have made it into the Top 30.

You will be able to follow along with my journey here on my contestant page.
I love that I have full access to a gym and yoga studio for the duration that I am in the contest. I am less excited about the kumbaya, rah rah, band of sisters kind of feel. I am just not a group hug kind of gal, never have been. So there is an excellent point of growth for me, as I won’t have a choice if I want to progress. The 2 day self improvement retreat next month flat out scares the shit out of me. I don’t do trust falls. It will be a real stretch for me to get in touch with my inner fluffiness. But that is the whole point, no?

So after a 100 days of fog, I am literally and figuratively putting myself out there. Did I mention the public voting aspect and having my before photo and weight loss shared online and in the local newspaper? Good times. But I know that the benefits far outweigh my fear of public ridicule.  And for those who already think my brashness and loudness is over the top and repellent, I have just been given a platform to take this ball of me public: #notsorry.

I hope you will follow along with me as I continue to struggle, grow and shrink and cheer me on here, on my contestant page or Facebook. And I will shamelessly appeal for your votes when the time comes for me to get to the next round, don’t you worry.

Warrior on.

P.S. (It was actually Day 112 when I finally worked up the intestinal fortitude to run errands with all 3 girls. And we rocked the shit out of our Costco trip).

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Miss Independent’s Struggle

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On most days I have my shit together, or I have at least faked it until I miraculously made it through the day.

I always have an opinion, a plan, a plan B through J and a “I will make it through if it kills me” attitude. While I appreciate your opinion on what actions to take in my life, I had genuinely contemplated it 3 moves back and decided against it. I probably won’t take the time to explain it to you, I will just move forward.

My fierce independence and Alpha Female personality aren’t characteristics  that sit well with everyone. While I have some pretty special cheerleaders who celebrate the whole of me, more than one Internet article informs me that me and my Alpha ilk will end up alone and bitter. Yay.

Many have told me flat out that my load-it-up, get-shit-done, hold-on-its-getting-crazier approach to life is one of my (many) fatal flaws. I was very recently dumped by a once dear friend because I too strongly wear the traits from the ugly side of my Alpha coin, overshadowing any other redeeming qualities I may have.

However, I need my Alpha. She gets me through the chaos of my life. She bolsters me to thrive in the many children, the changed 5 year plans, the drama that I revel in, the where are we going to live now-ness of my life.  Some people appreciate that in me, and I get that some don’t.  The drama and the chaos in which forms our family’s ecosystem is not the preferred way of being for most.

My Alpha does make it very hard to ask for help. Not because I don’t want it, but because I feel my choices put me in each particular moment and no one should have to shoulder the responsibility of my decisions. Why should others have to step up for the gaps in my capabilities? Also, maybe I just cannot articulate what that one helpful thing would be.  It doesn’t mean I don’t need or would appreciate the help. And it doesn’t mean I don’t feel the eye rolls and snickers of the select few who are in a position to help or reach out, but choose to not to in what I only assume is a “well, she never asks for my help, too late now” kind of way. I feel those deeply.

But more powerfully, I feel genuine awe in the size of our tribe, our second degree acquaintances and the  complete strangers who have come to us with their arms extended offering the moral support and small gestured kinds of help this family needs right now.

This family, our family, is living in a hotel, waiting to hear if we can move back home after a storm damaged our house.  It is not homelessness, nor poverty, nor death. But in this short 10 days, it has become a bone weary stress on our 3 kids, our marriage, our sanity and the last weeks of a long – complicated pregnancy.  The disruption of our organized chaos is so discombobulating, I feel like I am barely holding on, my Alpha abilities have been shaken.

Underneath the attempt to stay positive and laugh off the plot twists in our life, I struggle each day in how to ask for the help we need. Because my amazing husband/partner/rock and I just “do”, we don’t often stop to consider how others could do for us.  It is a head down, “this too shall pass” mentality that I know and am familiar with in moments of stress. Sharing that load is not a comfortable state for me. But we are getting there.

And when we get through this and settle back down to our natural level of chaos and drama, I hope my Alpha will have made it through intact as well. I also hope she will have grown and learned to be a gracious accepter of help, because we have been so blessed by those who took a minute to stop and reach out to make sure our family, the high maintenance ones every village has, will make it through.

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Life by a Million Paper Cuts

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Today, I watched as a car drove over my cell phone.  It escaped the first two cars that went by, only to succumb to the third car.  Frustrating, yes, but not the end of the world…much like a paper cut, no?

Also the girls didn’t want to go for a nap, when I just needed a moment to pull myself together. And my son ignored an instruction I had given 4 times, because, well, he is 7 years old.  Annoyances like these add up when you aren’t in a place to let them go.

Most days the annoyances are accumulated on a fresh slate, like nothing had ever bothered you before. They run off your back while you post another cute kid photo to Instagram.  Often you don’t feel the sting of the small annoyances as all the good or all the busy just keep you from even noticing. You just carry on.

And some days these paper cuts are compounded by the annoyances, hurts and paper cuts from the days, weeks and years before. There are days when the stings reverberate deeper.  Like your blood now has the acidity of lemon juice and each annoyance, like a paper cut, is amplified from the inside out.

I feel like today is that day.  I feel all the disappointments and hurts of the past years, pushing through my skin and making contact with the acid below.  I feel the raw, the compounded hurt, the weight of all the past paper cuts.

It isn’t just one small wound that dominates the sting.  It is not only the ups and downs of this complicated pregnancy we have been lucky enough to experience, while balancing life with 3 kids.  It is not only the disappointment of a house gone a year unsold. Or 5-year plans made and then laughed at by the gods.  Or the mourning of once-treasured relationships sacrificed at the altar of “things better left unsaid”.  Or the next bill you know is playing peek-a-boo with you in your mailbox.  Nor is it the phone, smashed to hell because you left it on your roof in the busyness of getting your horde of kids safely buckled into the car.

What this is, is the simple enormity of life.  Not fixed by an Instagram filter or bottle of wine.  It is the mucky, hard shit. Now, I concede that being 7 months pregnant right now does leave me prone to hormone-induced emotional extremism. But this is my today. And today is just part of life.  It isn’t death. It isn’t cancer or whatever affliction you can think of that far outweighs my gripes.  But it is my life today.  And today really hurts, like heart-breaking, ugly-cry kind of hurt.

Go-to coping mechanisms like venting with a girlfriend over a bottle of wine, stuffing the feelings back inside unacknowledged, or just pretending all is well and applying a pithy hashtag are not options I can entertain today.  And so I here I write, hoping to cosmically connect with other paper cut victims survivors; through osmosis, hoping to absorb some of your resilience.

I am hoping to awake tomorrow with this tidal wave of hormonal emotion and hurt having receded, even if a little bit.  I want to live with my million paper cuts, not die by them.

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Level Banana Pants Kind of Crazy

Oh, well it sure has been a long time since we have had a chance to chat, hasn’t it?  It is like we all got busy, and life whipped around us, no?

Alright, it’s me.  When I say things are busy ’round these parts, what I really mean is things are Level Banana Pants kind of kooky 22 hours of every day.  I know it has been almost 2 whole months since I have sat and taken the time to put down some thoughts.  Forgive me.  It is not the first time, and Lord knows it won’t be the last.

So I shall give a quick recap of life in the past 60 days.  The basics are the kids are fantastic and growing so fast; with 2 toddlers and a 6 year old we stay hopping most of the time.  Hubby is still doing amazing work as the stay-at-home parent and I have gotten back into the work groove after the first couple months of trying to find my way.  Let me share some of the extra bits that keep us on our toes.



Starting with NYE, Hubby and I rang in the New Year with what I am calling the Poopocalypse.  A 3 day gastro-bug ran through us and kept our respective arses stuck to the toilets for 3 days straight.  I don’t remember how we managed the kids, I think the Grandmas stepped up (as usual) to help us out as our insides tried to escape us.  It was a humbling, relationship-changing kind of event that still makes me cringe.  But we lived and on we went with our lives.

Once the Poopocalypse passed, I tempted fate and on a whim decided that hubby and I should get our DIY on and demo/reno our 2nd bath and so we could list our house again in the early Spring.  And so off we went, tore out the tiled vanity, the toilet and much of the rotten subfloor.  What I should have considered a little more carefully is that we really didn’t have the time, money or skill to put the bathroom back together in a couple of weekends.  But we bought a reciprocating saw, so what could go wrong?

It took many a weekend, but I was finally able to re-enforce floor joists, replace sub-floor, put down floor, redo the shower, and put in a new toilet and vanity.  How – you ask? 2 words….”Dear Google.”  This will have to be a couple of seperate posts to discuss in more depth.  But we are almost out of the woods on this one.  I think I have another 2 hours to put in this week to finish her off and once again have a working second bathroom.

During the longest DIY reno known to man, we had our middle daughter’s 2nd birthday party.  And poor girl, she really got the shaft.  8 months ago our youngest daughter turned 1, and I went all crazy Pintrest stay-at-home Mom for that.  Decor, 100 photos from her first year, strung up around the living area, custom cake and fancy crafts for the kids.  Miss Middle now had a working mom, so for her birthday she got an hour at the local play centre, some cupcakes and dollar store goody-bags.  She will have a whole lot more than just this to hate me for during her teen years, I am just giving her some early fuel. I judged me, so you can feel free to do so as well. 

All during this, I have had some surprise health adventures, more to be said on this another time, but while I am well, I haven’t been well either.  And some days the thought of the daily pace of our lives while the kids are so little takes my breath away.  But then I remember this is our normal.  We lean into the chaos, and when things seem to calm down a bit, we throw in a couple more flaming chainsaws to the juggling act.  

The horizon is full of flaming chainsaws coming this way.  We just listed our home for sale once again.  I am not sure if I have mentioned, but we live in a 105 year old heritage home on a half acre.  This is by no means a normal thing around these parts, so we need a very crazy particular buyer (like we were) to come our way and we didn’t get that when we listed at the end of summer.  So we try again, this time with an updated bathroom and a lower price.  Keep your fingers crossed please. 

“If your place is so nice, why are you moving?” This is something I hear all the time.  When we bought the place in 2012, we had one child with no others on the horizon.  In 2 years, we added 2 additional kids and we ended up putting our son in a school outside of our catchment for a number of reasons.  Now we want to be near school and on a smaller property and still pay off some outstanding debt.  That is the hope.

So that is the Coles notes of our life that we try daily to keep on the rails.  There is more to be said and more to come, but know I have been thinking about what to write about for weeks, and I hope just this little snippet will start the writing ball rolling once again.

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Starting the New Year off yummy

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http://www.ditchthecarbs.com/2014/02/07/chocolate-heaven-cake-low-carb-wheat-free-sugar-less-nut-free-gluten-free

This.

This is how I plan to kick off the New Year.  Maybe tonight.

Have you tried it?

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A Christmas Epiphany

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With all of the holiday craziness, it feels like it has been forever since I have written anything. We had weeks of sickness in our home, followed by a steady stream of Christmas related stuff: concerts, tree trimming, family gatherings, the $700 bills for busted truck brakes 3 days before Christmas and all those bits. And really, I think I had little to write about that would be interesting to more than 5 people. (That said, this post will be exciting for approximately 7 people, so the bar is pretty low).

This year we had the pleasure of doing Christmas Day all on our own. We had spent the previous weekends and the days leading up to the big day spending time with family and friends, but I was really looking forward to spending our first holiday as a family of 5 together without having to trek to others’ homes to share holiday time.

Having this day to ourselves created a much different feeling than the holidays of yesteryear. After the morning of watching the kids go to town 9on their gifts, we all stayed in our new Christmas PJs longer than we would have, we got to muck about with the new toys as we casually prepped our Christmas dinner. And Mama got to have a drink or four- don’t judge.

Maybe it was the easy vibe, the many drinks or the unflattering amount of holiday cheesecake I had just eaten, but last night I had an epiphany.

Backing up – we rent our Christmas tree, alive in a pot, from the nursery down the street. We pick out our tree in October and they drop it off and pick it up. After dinner I had a moment of panic, I couldn’t remember when they were picking up the tree. I worried it was going to be picked up on Boxing Day, which meant stripping down the tree at the end of a very long day and packing away all the tree bits amongst the chaos that the morning gift opening had brought.

After the kids were in bed, as I walked to the car- where the receipt with pick up dates sat snuggly in my glove compartment – I had the epiphany: Shit, I am a grown up.

All of a sudden I was conscious of the fact, “I AM A GROWN UP! Shit, this is going to be a lot of work.”

Luckily, the tree wasn’t going to be picked up for another couple of days. If the tree needed to be returned, on top of this new awareness of my grown-up status, I think my head would have exploded in that moment.

One could question why I had this adulthood awakening at that moment, not during my wedding, or when we bought our latest home, adopted and/or birthed our children, or went to work everyday with real life grown ups. I have always just felt like we were playing house, going through the motions of doing the appropriately adult activities, but feeling a little like a fraud waiting to be found out. Waiting for someone to say, “Hold on a sec, she isn’t allowed these things, she isn’t old enough.” I had often wondered when I would feel as grown up as I had always perceived real grown ups, like my parents and teachers, to be.

I have to say, after being confronted with the knowledge of my new found role in life, I woke up this morning feeling the same as before. There was no sense of grandiose or anything like that. I was worried I would all of a sudden be aware of the gravity of the responsibilities. But no, I am not that bright or self-aware…in fact, I had cheesecake for breakfast, so my grown-upness is about as evolved as your average frat boy’s.

I am not sure when the rest of the general population comes to this realization. Maybe years before me, maybe years after, maybe never, I have no idea. But I would say being a grown up feels exactly like how I have felt for the last decade. Go figure.

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