Things To Do For Me

January 15, 2015

In this afterglow of feeling very relaxed and balanced, I've been trying to think of ways to acknowledge and celebrate the small things more often. Usually, I feel like I'm stuck in a never ending obstacle course come marathon! There's no time to reflect or celebrate much... since I'm always thinking about the next thing. 

This week was fantastic! I've been catching up with all my wonderful students about holidays, and am so happy to see their darling faces again. I really, really, love them. 

I've been making Leanne's kale salad and have been eating it every day this week. Greens in the system is a good thing. 

I've also begun doing something just for me. Cross Country Skiing! 

XC skiing has appealed to me for a long time because it's (supposedly) something you can do without any special trip to the mountains or much gear. The sporty stuff you see me wearing is the same stuff I bought for winter running (also new to me). The wind pants are for cycling, but we all know that when I bike, I wear regular clothes. 

So early this winter, I bit the bullet and bought some wind proof insulated pants, a long sleeved running shirt thingy, and a light insulated vest, and also the same version of that vest in a jacket. 

The skis, boots and poles were from last winter. I went once, had very little success with propelling myself forward, and then the winter passed without another effort. 

Enter Gina this year, the brains and beauty behind Ski Life! She is a dear friend and quite amazing. And, has begun instructing others in her area of expertise: cross-country skiing!

I've recruited a few of my friends to take Gina's beginner lessons with me. We went for the first time on Wednesday and everybody is HOOKED! I can't say I'm particularly good at it, but xc skiing is so much more meditative than I ever thought. You get a rhythm. You glide! 

We had a stellar time and can't wait to do it again. 

I've also been winter biking! It's been so warm, I've been able to wear my Bano eeMee and Workhall scarf. 

I've also been having some great meetings this week. Super interesting stuff unfolding in my orbit!

And always, I am a mom first. Getting up early to get Dex ready and off to school, and then this little monkey hangs out with me all morning until (PRAISE) child care comes to assist me with life. I am so grateful to have wonderful kids who can go with the flow and accompany their mom on all her crazy adventures.

(please note that Alice's skirt is an amalgamation of cat faces)

Have a great weekend, all!


January 12, 2015

I'm back from winter holidays, feeling rested and better than ever! 

Something I am loathe to admit is that I need more rest. In the fall when Dexter started kindergarten and my teaching picked up again, I started to have really painful muscle tension in my shoulders and neck. Nothing new to somebody who is often sitting or also in front of a computer a lot. I figured it would go away, like it always has. 

It didn't. 

After a few months, I finally broke down and went to see my Acupuncturist (don't tell me what he does, all I know is that it works). Usually after a few sessions, I'm all better and back at it. 

Not this time. 

It's strange, because it's not like I wasn't able to do my job or have fun or fulfil my commitments. All of that was still happening. I was just sore and achy all the time. I don't usually sit around feeling "tired" and overwhelmed, so it didn't feel like either of those things. Yet... I wasn't getting better. 

I decided I needed to take Dr. Jiang's advice, which was that I simply had to rest more. 

Upon relaying this to a friend (who is also a client of Dr. Jiang's), I asked, "What does rest even MEAN?" She answered, "I think you're supposed to watch Netflix and not do anything else at the same time." 

In an effort to follow doctor's orders, I started cancelling things. Slowly, but surely... it worked! I graduated from Acupuncture (he'll tell you when you don't have to come back anymore) before Christmas, and then I've been coasting along ever since. Had an excellent holiday with a parade of friends, and then we took off to Palm Springs with Dan & Leanne for some warmer, dedicated relax time. 

This is what it looked like, hiking around Joshua Tree National Park.

Very strange to walk all around the desert!

We rented a fantastic retro bungalow. 

It had superb decor, a wonderful kitchen that we cooked out of (ate so much avocado and home made pizza), and an amazing salt water pool! We splashed daily and worked out of the home office you see below:

There were other adventures, like the boys taking a trip to the Air Museum.

Checking out wild animals at the zoo.

And le pièce de résistance... going to LEGOLAND and meeting Emmet!

Theme parks is definitely not something I put on the top of any of my priority lists, but the kids had such a fabulous time. I'm really glad we made the trek. The park is actually perfect for kids aged 5ish, and Alice was able to go on most of the rides too. 

Most of all it was a treat to hang out with our dear friends (miss them already, as they are back in NYC), and be together as a family without entertaining anybody else. It's so rare that Don is around to help feed kids breakfast and change diapers, or put Alice down for a nap. We were able to just be a normal family having adventures together - Ideal. 

Now that I'm back and feeling like I have some manner of equilibrium happening, I'm wondering how long this will last. One thing is for sure, I'm going to continue to have and reinforce my boundaries.

Here's to successfully achieving maximum work-life balance in 2015! 

Happy New Year!

January 2, 2015

Happy 2015, readers!

I've been having a most wonderful holiday. Ignoring work-related emails. Sleeping in. Watching movies.

Been running the bungalow as a flop house & bed and breakfast for all our visiting friends. We've been drinking mulled wine and warm our toes by the outdoor fire.

Dexter and Alice became ill! Luckily, it wasn't serious and only lasted a few days, but there was vomit and nose bleeds and fevers. Sleepovers were cancelled. Much bedding was laundered.

We had a perfect little dinner party to ring in the new year. By perfect, I mean it was small, home cooked, and incredibly relaxed. We drank a bunch of wine and listened to our west coast friend talk about her experience in a sensory deprivation tank. Apparently it's amazing! Everyone in attendance also identified, in their own way, that we all need to elevate self-care on our list of priorities. From lack of sleep to not exercising or eating particularly well. We all had something where we're not taking care of ourselves.

So... I have a strange problem with new years resolutions. I find it really hard to make them! I'm a critical, analytical person all year round (blessing and a curse). When I identify that I want something to be different - I do it.

Right away.

In the effort to feel like I've "resolved" to do something from 2014, I've been focussing on some of the little short-term achievable goals I accomplished last year:

My sister and I formed mèi mei, the sister ukulele duo; Travelling carry-on only (success with 1 week in Glasgow and 1 week in NYC); Throwing a frisbee; And, learning how to stop properly on figure skates.

I've got lots of long term, super deep personality stuff that I'm constantly working on, but I wouldn't put any of theses on a list of things I would consider 2015 year resolutions. That stuff is going to take more time.

For example, not being so critical and judgmental of myself and others: I often feel like I don't fit in, alienate myself, and then feel angry about it later. I would eventually like to be one of those people you always feel warm and excited about, after meeting me. I want to always make a great first and last impression. I want people to think I am cool. I realize, I should just be myself and not worry about it. This stuff is all relative. I definitely don't struggle with being authentic, so there's no tension with pretending I'm something I'm not. The problem is I come on too strong. I'm direct. This is intimidating and confusing for people.

I am not patient. I need to learn not to react and get angry when people say things to me that don't make sense. Some people don't make sense. That doesn't have to be my problem to fix. And, I should stop taking it personally.

So there. I've got plenty of little things I've wanted to cross off of my list of things to do. And, I've got hefty and lofty goals regarding my own basic programming. Some of these I will get done in the next 12 months. Some of these will likely take the balance of my lifetime. I don't have any specific resolutions for 2015.

However, a short to-do list might look like this:

- Make really good blender margaritas
- Learn to drive standard (I KNOW)
- Swim more than 12 laps
- Write

All in all, I feel really lucky to have the life I do. My kids are wonderful and healthy. Both Don and I are doing work that is incredibly meaningful. My parents and siblings are so supportive of us, it makes working full time with kids possible. Ditto with having great child care providers and friends who help facilitate everything we do at home and out in the world.

I meet a lot of people who rub me the wrong way. I also get to meet people who are genuine, passionate, generous, creative, and fun! These are the people who give me energy and inspiration to get caught up in all the various things I end up taking on. They usually have big hearts and big brains.

So, more big hearts and big brains in 2015!

Very Happy Holidays

December 27, 2014

We have been having a most wonderful time at the bungalow! There has been no shortage of company, treats, wine, and good food. We have had, and continue to have, many visitors from days of yore. Good friends from childhood, high school, and University. They have all been coming home and descending upon the bungalow in waves. I love it! And, there are more reunions to be had between now and New Years. 

Since I last posted, I was still wrapping things up before holiday break. Taking my kids to the school concert on the bus. Too close to drive and park. A bit far to walk in dress clothes (that being said, we did walk home afterward). 

It was a fine little affair. Thanks to the work of all the teachers who put lots of time into these productions - I know how much work it is to teach a group of children to sing a few songs! 

Alice was a lively one throughout, running up and down the aisle with a few other little siblings. I figured she wasn't being consciously obnoxious and was clearly enjoying the show, so I let her be. Later, I wondered where she had got to, and she was standing right at the front beside the teacher. 

I let her be. 

Then, during the very last number... a little Alice came wondering onto the stage.

OMG. I actually think I said, "OH MY GOD" and sprang to my feet. Ran down the centre aisle, then realized there was no way for me to access the side stage. I ran back, out the gym, around the side, and missed her again. She decided to go out on stage a SECOND TIME. Eventually, I secured my little one. What a night! 

We had a refreshing walk home. 

After my mom duties, I had some lady-at-large duties. Attended the ASSIST annual Christmas luncheon (I'm the honorary chair for their walk and run) and had the pleasure of sitting beside one of my favourite people, former city councillor, Michael Phair. We ate whole roast pig together, crispy skin and all. Delicious. 

Went to Global to film a promotional commercial thingy for Bust A Move 2015 (another one of my honorary chair gigs) with the hilarious Nicola Crosby, who makes it nearly impossible to do a proper take without laughing.  

Inspired by taking my kids on the bus, I decided to do it again. 

Very convenient to ride to and from our holiday parties on the train, and the kids are finally getting faster at walking, so the last leg home is actually a lot of fun! Climbing up snow banks, making tracks. This is what Don and imagined when we decided to move back in 2008. Wouldn't it be way better to walk all around town with our kids in tow instead of needing to load them up into car seats every single time you have to go somewhere? 

Then, the winter fun! I've been working on my skating at city hall. My fine friend, Christy, has been giving me lessons. 

House guests started arriving. It's amazing to have so many extra people come and unbalance the ratio of adults to children. My childless friends love playing with the kids! It means I can sit back and relax while the kids have the best time, with some of my favourite people. 

Later that night, we got all dolled up. 

And mèi mei did a little performance at my friends' casual wedding reception.

That weekend, we had so many people living at our house, I started referring to it as a fraternity.

Richard (my bestie pictured below) and I decided we would be called #chibetabeta and I've been posting under that hash tag for the whole week. I love living in Edmonton and I love my friends here, but my heart is so full when my oldies are back. It's not much of a stretch to refer to them as my brothers and sisters - That's how much I love them.

Speaking of Chi Beta Beta, we also roll out of bed and go running. Took turns pushing the stroller.

On Christmas Day, gong gong brought over tons of tiny oranges (among other things) and peeled them for all the kids.

I gifted HUNT AMOR glasses chains to my mom and sister. I am obsessed with mine, and knew they would share my enthusiasm.

 Richard got Adventure Time DVDs for the children, and they have been running around wearing Finn's hat.

In our quest for relaxation, we set a goal of watching the (original) Star Wars trilogy over the holidays. Mission accomplished. Then, we built an elven Miss Sarah avatar and started playing Dragon Age.

 Chi Beta Beta health initiatives are still going strong - We all went swimming.

And people are abiding by my Lebowski Protocol. It means wearing your robe a lot.

Around all the visiting and friends, Alice has taken ill! She is still having a grand time and being as lively as ever, but she was burning up with a fever last night. Her coughing sounds like a dog barking. At other times she sounds like Gollum. Good news is, she is doing much better after her sleep.

And that's the gist of life on our end. A steady stream of people and treats, with lots of down time. Entertaining comes with its own work, but seeing all these wonderful old friends is something I definitely wouldn't give up for anything. Thank goodness for dishwashers and vacuums.

This down time has been a very good reminder that being horizontal while watching a movie is not time wasted. It's a treat to hang out with Chi Beta Beta without any makeup on. And, it's super fun having my kids around all day! 

Alas, I'll be back to share more from the 2nd half of this vacation period. But first, I've got to actually get dressed because we're venturing off site for supper tonight. Hope your holidays have been fun and restorative as well!

Life Lately (and overdue)

December 18, 2014

Readers! You still there?

I won't bore you with the finer details of why I've been away. I respect your intelligence and will operate under the assumption that you know what being busy is like. 

I do have some cute photos to share with you!

And... cue blog post:

Up above you see Dexter and Alice dressed up for the first time, at the same time. Super fun to get them decked out in some holiday finery, though I still try to keep this stuff relatively low key. It's cute to see other boys in kindergarten tuxedos or toddler wedding gowns, but my philosophy is they're just going to grow out of it so... anything that is classic and hand-me-down-able. Check!

Dex and Alice attended their first Snowflake Gala, and it was a pretty fun time. Particularly the part where all these other super moms & dads were feeding food to the kids and taking them to play! There was a candy bar, balloon animals, Mr. Potato Head, and video games. Suffice to say it was not surprising when Dexter broke down into tears when it was time to go home. Sorry, dude! 

At another time, we were full on winter folk during a snowy downtown excursion. It was our first giant dump of snow in the city, rendering all roads and driving a complete nightmare. Luckily, we just decided to walk and take the bus and train. 

While Dex was off at school, Alice came with me to do some work one morning. We were visiting City Hall School that day to take in a presentation on homelessness for a grade 6 class. Research and inspiration for my youth initiative with the United Way in the new year. 

My sweet babies are also being very cuddly this winter.

BOOM. Then I was in Vancouver, visiting with one of my best and oldest friends. 

We were there for the Grey Cup

YESS Champions Day came and went...

More time at city hall. Alice is always working hard.  

And in the realm of random things I do for myself, my friend Christy has been giving me skating lessons. My objectives were to learn how to stop without random scraping my pick all over the place, with the subsequent spinning out of control. I am happy to report that the "STOP" initiative has been a success! My big takeaways from skating lessons have been 1. Bend your knees and 2. Use your edges. 


A few neighbours and I joined forces to do a neighbourhood carolling party. I played piano and sang with two guitarist neighbours, and it was incredibly jolly. Bonus was the hostess this year had a gorgeous grand for me to enjoy.

My kids are currently into playing dress up. 

Also, watching Scooby Doo. 

Amidst it all, there is still this. 

I'll see if I have it in me to pop out a holiday post (obviously I'll try) once this week wraps up. I particularly want to do a post on saying NO and other goals for the new year! Until then, stay warm, play safe (party season is upon us), and don't forget to spread the cheer this holiday season! 

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