Sunday, April 27, 2008

Race Report

I have to say that today I breathed a great sigh of relief that this week is over. To say it was busy is a gross understatement.
On Earth Day, I helped 20 Grade Twos and then 22 Kindergartners weed and garden around the school. There are a lot of holes in the school yard, now, due to the PAC representative’s fantastic idea to arm the children with shovels and pitchforks! Then I picked up Madelaine and Bennett from school and they came to play with the boys for the afternoon. They had a great time, and then Eliot joined us for hamburgers.
We successfully finished the last four performances of Adventures in Art and although it was tiring being at the theatre so much, it was also rewarding in so many ways. And I didn’t screw anything up on my end, so it’s all good.
After the performance on Friday night, I met my girlies for 25 Club. We were going to Bingo, but the timing was off so we just had dessert and drinks instead, which was nice and mellow. Luckily I had already packed my triathlon bag for the morning, as we had to be out of the house by 7 am.
The race went well, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a wee bit disappointed in my time. A couple of months ago I was hoping for 1 hr 25 min. I was happy with my swim and my bike times – 18 min and around 48 min respectively, but I tanked a little on the run – 31 min. And my transition times were slow because it was pretty cold, and it took me a while to get warmer clothes on between each segment. You try running several hundred feet in a wet bathing suit (which Mike got a picture of, which you will not see posted here – oh no) after swimming your little heart out and being kicked by numerous “ladies” and then trying to pull bike shorts and socks over your shivering goose pimply body. It’s hard. And I was trying to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything (bike shirt, shorts, socks, shoes, timing chip, race number, helmet, glasses, water – oh yeah, and bike) so it was nerve wracking. Once I was out on the bike course, I felt I did quite well although I never warmed up. I also ate two bugs (not on purpose, just to clear that up) but I did not fall off my bike or make a ridiculous fool out of myself as I’d feared. And it was truly awesome to have my men cheering me on: “Go Mummy”, “Yey Mummy”, etc. After the bike it took me a long time to get ready again, since I haven’t mastered the drinking while riding thing yet (I know, I know, I’m a feeb) so I needed to get some water in me. I also took off my bike shorts and shirt and I was going to run in my tri top (still wet from the pool) and my running shorts but I was still so cold I had to put a running shirt on too. And my hat. And my shoes. Oh, it just took forever... and I also had this “whoa” moment when I dismounted and tried to run back to rack my bike. My legs seemed to be working somewhat independently of what my mind was communicating. Shocking, really, that I did not fall over. So I set off on weird legs and needed to walk almost right away to down some Gu – energy gel. Well, then I needed water and the station wasn’t until 2.5 km in, so the first half of the run did not go so great. Then the energy kicked in a little, and I used some guy as my rabbit. He passed me as I was walking, but I said to myself that I was going to run as long as he was, and I used him to mentally tow me in to the finish. So my final time was 1 hr 45 min. All I can say is that it is 16 minutes faster than my last triathlon.
After the race it was another race to get showered and changed and get to the theatre in time for the show. I made it there with 10 minutes to spare (relief) and made it through the show ok. After the first show ended I ate, then the sound guy showed me his secret spot to sleep. I crashed for well over an hour until he shook me awake to do the second show. The second show went well, too, and then we got everything out of the theatre and I hightailed it home. One giant bowl of chocolate ice cream and I was in bed.
Today I did absolutely nothing except head to Casbah for a massage. Heavenly. It was a much-needed mellow day!
Until next week,

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sweet sweet boys

Ethan moved me to tears tonight.
I was away 5 evenings out of 6 last week, with rehearsals and performances for the Adventures in Art benefit show I am volunteering with. It's a great cause and a great group of people, but it has obviously required a big time commitment; especially in the last few weeks. Mike said that by the time Saturday night rolled around and I was not there too tuck them into bed AGAIN, Ethan was very upset and cried quite a bit. I called at 8 to say the show was over and I was on my way home, and the boys were very happy when I walked into the bedroom. I stayed in there for a while and we talked about their day. We got to spend all of Sunday together, and I stayed in Ethan's room until he fell asleep Sunday night. He has been saying lately that he's scared of what dreams may come and he actually starts to cry about it. We haven't been able to figure out what the dreams are about but I think in part he's been upset about me being gone.
Tonight I stayed in his room for a while again, quietly reading my book. He was drifting off, but he rolled over and said (out of the blue), "Mummy, can I do a lemonade stand? I would ask people to pay $7 for the lemonade so I could give the money to kids who don't have things." I was speechless for a minute, then we spent a little time talking about where he would want the money to go ("Africa" he said, "and some to Asia"), when we would do this ("when it gets hot outside so people would be sweaty and thirsty"), and where ("outside where everyone plays hockey").
I guess the end result is that the guilt I feel about this project taking me away from my family is reduced by the example I am setting for my boys. My project is two tiered - the child cast performances through Wind & Tide preschools benefit World Vision, and the money we raise there ($40,000 so far) will buy supplies and hopefully provide water to an entire village in Mali. One of the adult cast performances will benefit cancer research. I haven't talked about cancer with the boys, but I have talked with them about the World Vision benefit and what it will do for the kids in Africa who really need help. The boys also help me with our monthly food bank contributions, and the Christmas stockings we pack every year for those who are less fortunate, and one slot in their piggy banks is titled "Donate". One quarter goes in there every week. Jack gets an extra quarter when he helps me with groceries when Ethan's in school, and more often than not he chooses to put the extra one into Donate. What a kid!
So I will miss a bedtime or three this week again, knowing that in the end, everyone will benefit.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

15 minutes in my life

Today I was having a hard day. In order to better cope with the kids and their eternal demands and whines I decided to make myself a cup of tea. After the kettle boiled and I was waiting for the tea to steep (5 minutes; I always set the timer because that’s the way I like it) I got out the sugar pot. There was only half a teaspoon of sugar left and I require three-quarters for my perfect cup. I’m sure this has happened to you; it can’t only happen to me:
Open cupboard to get more sugar to refill pot
Move a bunch of pantry items to get sugar container
Knock molasses onto the tile floor
Clean up glass and molasses from floor, baseboards, wall and inside the bottom three shelves of the open cupboard. This includes wiping molasses off multiple items such as raisins, canned fruit, crackers (snack shelf), rice, pasta, potatoes, flour (carb shelf), and recipe books (bottom shelf).
Wrap glass shards in paper bag
Since you’ve taken the last one, add lunch paper bags to grocery list
Throw out glass shards and molasses mess – discover the garbage is overflowing
Take garbage out
Clean up hockey sticks from driveway before someone runs over them
Put hockey sticks back in corner of garage and discover spider
Perform elaborate spider-trapping ritual and set the critter free outside
Head back upstairs to find boys engaged in game of “toss the library book”
Stop the “game” and build them a fort using furniture, pillows and blankets
Head back towards kitchen, see calendar sitting out and remember that tomorrow is a field trip
Fix collapsed fort
Go upstairs to get red field trip vest so you don’t forget it tomorrow
Change laundry to dryer, hang “do not dry” clothes in bath
Wipe toothpaste from sink
Take discarded pyjamas back to clothes hamper in bedroom
Get red vest
Seeing bed reminds you how tired you are, think to yourself you could really use a cup of tea
It’s now so cold and so strong but I have to drink it anyway. It’s the principle of the matter, really.
See ya,

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Just your typical week

I’d like to know who designed the sensors on toilets. You know, the automatic flush? Seriously. Because it never auto flushes when I’m actually done, but usually halfway through – the bidet effect. Bidets are okay if you are expecting to use a bidet, but when it takes you by surprise, look out! I try to keep my torso still while stretching my arm for the toilet paper, but invariably I move just a little too much for those happy flushers and KER-SPLASH! Surprise! But then, just try to get it to flush when you want it to. You get up off the toilet, move a little to one side, then to the other... before you know it, you’re doing this insane toilet shuffle dance in your stall. But the secret is to keep your feet still so nobody outside can tell you’re boogieing in there. Unfortunately your feet are usually pointing towards the back wall at this point since you’re looking to see if it’s going to flush, so probably everyone is wondering how a man snuck into the ladies’ room anyway. And a dancing man at that. After you wave your hand up and down and shake your body all around (throw in a little hokey pokey if you’re really into it), please just admit defeat. The flush is LAUGHING at you. Just cave in and press the little button. They try to hide it because they like seeing you squirm (and by they I am of course referring to the little flushing gremlins who work the auto flush) but it’s there. Since you have to press the button yourself every time anyway, it makes you wonder why they spent a million dollars per toilet anyway. But it’s their nickel I guess. And I think the inventors of the auto flush also operate the sensors at traffic lights because THOSE never work for me either. But since certain watches stop ticking when placed on my wrist, and debit cards never work when I have to swipe them myself, I’m beginning to think it may just be me and my delightfully magnetic personality.
I had a treadmill war the other day. I got onto #3 (which, not surprisingly, is located between #2 and #4) and started off with a brisk warm-up walk, which was Walk button plus .5 mph. #2 was walking also, but cranked hers up a couple of notches to match my pace. After 2 minutes, I pressed Jog, which took me to a 5 mph pace. #2 also pressed Jog. After a minute of Jog I realized it was too slow and I pressed Run (7 mph, or 8.5 minute mile). #2 let out this disgusted noise somewhere between a sigh and a snort, and pressed Run also. (Maybe she didn’t know that I saw her but she actually pressed Run and then down two notches – slacker) After 10 minutes of Run she was grunting, and I pressed Jog to take a drink of water. This time her sigh was Relief with a capital R, so when I pressed Run again after 1 minute she was not amused. She kept darting these dagger looks at me as she’s gasping for air – c’mon! I’m just doing my own thing here! After another 10 minute set I Jogged for another drink and then Ran – that was it; she slammed her hand into Stop and stormed off. I got to chuckling and nearly fell off the treadmill like my friend did (not naming names here but it starts with “S” and ends in “andy”). I got serious and finished with another 10 minute Run.
It is only 2 weeks to my triathlon, after all. I got in another good run on Thursday, yesterday I cycled but only for 30 minutes, and today I did a killer cardio class which involved some boxerfit moves. I haven’t done that since before we were married so those muscles aren’t exactly thanking me today. I am drinking a ton of water and find myself in the bathroom constantly.
Which was the scene of my most recent humiliation. We were at the airport waiting to pick Mike up from Fargo, ND (geek conference, lost luggage, snow) and we paid a visit to the restroom. (how come I have no trouble using the terms restroom, bathroom, ladies’ room, toilet interchangeably but if I ask where’s the bathroom in LA they look at me blankly until they say oh, you mean the RESTROOM like they’re so completely different and I must be a moron) The only stall big enough for Jack, Ethan, and me is a wheelchair one at the end and once I determined that we weren’t taking the spot of a needy wheelchair occupant, we went into that one. The lock was broken, but Ethan was already peeing so I figured ok, we’ve committed to this one. When it’s my turn I said, as specifically as possible, “The lock is broken on the door, okay? So please don’t touch the door because it will swing open and I don’t want it open while I’m on the toilet, okay?” Ethan tucks into the corner and Jack nods solemnly. I sit down and half way through Jack starts to move towards the door (you knew it was going to be him, right? Because if anyone is going to pretend not to hear me, it’s going to be him. And he has to do it so darn cute-like which is infuriating because you still want to squeeze him and eat him all up. But I digress) as I say “Jack, noooooo”. He throws a look over his shoulder at me and gives one little one-finger push (like Nemo touching the boat with his fin; you know what I’m talking about) and the door swings wide, wide into the aisle. I’m panicking but can’t exactly MOVE at this given moment, and Ethan, God bless him, blocks anyone’s view of me, reaches for the handle and swings the door shut. Jack leans back against the other wall with this “Oh” look on his face as in “Oh, I’m going to get it now but I’m sure glad I did that anyway”. I was mad but since nobody in the restroom actually saw me, the only thing I did was took away the star he’d earned at dinner for good behaviour + no accidents.
He’s actually already earned his first prize – a binder with hockey card inserts for all his cards. Ethan needs one more star to get that, and he’s dying for it. He’s more into hockey anyway (he’s outside playing as I write) and he’s got more cards to put in there too. Jack got to 10 (which sounds good but we’ve actually been doing it for about 60 days) and he’s now at 2 on the second round. Ethan’s at 9, first round, but now he’s seen the prize he’s a little more motivated.
I went to see Chris Rock this week. He was very funny. Raunchy, racial, but funny. The opening act was hysterical too; I had tears pouring down my face and my cheeks hurt. It’s so hard to remember what he said and how he said it but it was something about mutes and cell phones. Chris Rock himself was great, although I found myself swearing a lot the next day. Guess it was catching!
That’s it for now, see you next week!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Thoughts In No Particular Order

Pet peeve of the week: my thigh bones. I have discovered through scientific methods (observing other bus passengers) that I have abnormally long thigh bones. Other people seem to be able to sit there straight and comfortably in their seats while I have to sit diagonally. Some people even have room to – can you believe it – cross their legs!!! I have suspected this for a while, especially since the KLM flight I took in January from Vancouver to Amsterdam. Even with my butt slammed back as far as it could go against the back of the seat, my knees were still pressed into the seat in front of me, so much so that I could not put my water bottle or my book in the seat pocket in front of me. I had divots in my knee caps by the end of the tortuous flight. At a soccer match in Liverpool years ago, same thing, yet when I stood up, some of my uncle’s friends were taller than me. What gives? So here’s the thing: standard seat pitch is 30 inches for an airplane seat in coach. Butt to knee cap, I measure 29. I will obviously need to fly first class from now on, and in fact I should get special consideration due to the fact that it is a genetic mutation and completely not my fault. Next on the agenda is to look back at family photos and see where this thigh bone issue comes from; then I can curse that ancestor for my current difficulties. I believe my sister suffers from the same affliction.

I also have issues (well you knew that already, but anyway) with bus travel in general. Some people seem to find it so easy to walk onto a bus, pay their fare or flash their pass, find a seat and stay there until their stop, whereupon they exit gracefully. Not so for me. As I walk onto the bus, sometimes I trip or stumble; then I invariably stick the transit card in the wrong way and have to reinsert it. Once I used cash and accidentally stuck my coins into the paper slot and jammed the machine. I was popular that day! I am always juggling my purse, briefcase, iPod and umbrella. Juggling your iPod, you say? Well yes; most people are able to stick the earphones in, put the unit in their pocket and Bob’s your uncle. Again, not so for me. Although my thigh bones are unnaturally large, conversely my ear holes are unnaturally small so my earphones often spontaneously eject, usually when I am trying to reinsert the transit pass and I get all tangled. I have perfected the sheepish grin and my standard line (AM) is “Sorry, I’m not quite awake yet” and (PM) is “Sorry, I’ve had a long day”. Unfortunately, week to week it’s the same driver and same passengers on my route, so I guess the jig is up. So as I walk up the aisle to find a seat, my main objective is to find one close to the front (the less distance I have to walk, the less chance I have to trip and fall). Now there are definite politics involved in choosing a seat. You scan quickly BUT do NOT make eye contact. If you make eye contact you are obligated to take the seat beside that person, otherwise it’s just rude to reject them. You choose your seat based on the size, smell, and overall cleanliness of the window seat passenger. If you are lucky enough to get a window seat of your own, you are not home free yet – oh no! In fact, you may be worse off because then you have NO say in who sits next to you. Sometimes it is better to choose a semi-decent second seat rather than risk the awesome (relatively speaking) window seat with potential crazy smelly seat partner-to-come. And in the case where I have a window seat but somebody chooses to sit by an undesirable instead of me, I am affronted. I want to ask them what made them choose that seat? I want to list my attributes: I’m relatively slim (although I do need to sit diagonally – see thigh bones above), I’m quiet (at least until the earphones eject), I usually don’t fall asleep on other people’s shoulders, I smell all right, and I don’t mutter. All of which is definitely an improvement over Left Window Seat 3! I’m usually ok once I am seated and arranged (briefcase on floor between my legs; umbrella underneath the seat; arm looped through purse and it on lap; iPod in and on; bus ticket tucked in pocket; cell phone in other pocket; lipstick applied) but I average two step-on-foots and one lurch-into-guy’s-shoulder per bus exit.

I must tell you about my most famous exit of all, though. Unfortunately, I also suffered the indignity of having two co-workers witness the event. I was in the back row of the bus, up two stairs from the exit. The seating back there is a big U-shape, i.e. three benches of seats. I stood up as we approached my stop and I thought I had everything under control, bags arranged and so on, and I was holding onto the strap as I took a step down. The bus lurched forward at that point (I think he waited until I was off balance; that’s something they teach them in bus-driver school) so when I tried to bring my lead foot back for support it hit against the stair and I was stuck. Still hanging onto the strap, I began to pivot on my back foot in slow motion, the weight of my briefcase dragging me down. I called out dramatically, “I am falling” and slowly collapsed across the laps of no less than four passengers on the right hand bench. I found myself fully prone, lying across them with Rajie looking down at me saying “Uh, Tamsin – what ARE you doing?” The ladies on the left hand bench opposite gave me scores of 5.5 and 6.0, so it must have looked pretty good. I was apologizing profusely as I scrambled up and composed myself. I’d like to say I had my head held high as I exited the bus, but in reality I slunk off, laughing a little but with a face as scarlet as you’ll ever see.
The Earth needs to thank me for going green on my commute to work since Lord knows nobody else enjoys my bus company.

Two weeks is a long time to spend in close proximity with your children. I am of course talking about spring break. One good thing about spring break is that it prompts parents to find lots of activities to fill their children’s schedules for summer vacation. It’s definitely more than a coincidence that all the flyers for summer camps are coming out right now. This year Ethan’s break was a full two weeks, due to Easter and some tacked-on non-instructional days, and Jack’s was almost as long. The first weekend of the break was Jack’s birthday party, the cousins’ visit, and the family brunch. We didn’t really leave the house at all that weekend, and the Monday was a collapse-on-the-couch day. Mike was working a ton, and so it was just the three of us for almost 12 hours a day. Every day. Easter weekend we went to Whistler after having a nice dinner at Susan’s on Good Friday. On Saturday, we all skied the Magic chair for a few hours. I took Jack over a small jump and he loved it so much we did it about 20 times. Ethan jumped it himself and did very well! Mike’s back was really sore, so after skiing Barry and I carried in and built the new dining room table and chairs. The next day, we had an Easter egg hunt early in the morning (the Bunny found us at Whistler – amazing!) and then Barry took Ethan skiing for the day, while we put Jack into Kids Camp. Mike and I decided not to ski, and went for brunch instead. Then he had work to do, so I read and relaxed. We came home on Monday, and stopped at my parents’ for dinner. We still had a week left of spring break!

Tuesday night the 25 Club girls got together for jewellery making at Kim’s. Now I can add one more “task I am not good at” to my list. Everyone’s creations were beautiful, and while I liked my stuff in the end, it took me FOREVER! And nobody else seemed to have the problem I had where beads kept flying off my string. I don’t understand why my fingers just don’t listen to my head sometimes. Poor Kim will be finding beads under her radiator for years to come. I lost a “few”.

One accomplishment I am proud of for this week is the mini triathlon I did on Saturday at the gym. Ethan was at a birthday party at the YMCA for two hours, so while he was there, I swam 700 m (20 min), biked 14 km (30 min), and ran 4 km (20 min) all in about 90 minutes, including long “transition times” where I showered and got changed in between. I am registered in the Delta Triathlon on Saturday, April 26th, which is a 700 m swim, 20 km bike, and 5 km run. I am feeling like I am actually capable of this. My last sprint triathlon was 5 years ago – 6 months after having Ethan – and it took me 2 hours then so I am hoping to do a little better although I know I will still be fairly slow for my age group. Race time is 8:30am at the Ladner Rec Centre so anyone who wants to come out and laugh at my red face is welcome to! Since I can’t use my iPod during the race, you can sing some of my favourite workout songs to help me keep my pace!
Eminem – Lose Yourself
Justin Timberlake – Sexyback
Kid Rock – Bawitaba
Limp Bizkit – Break Stuff
Queen – We Will Rock You
Madonna – Ray of Light
Young MC – Bust a Move
Beatles – Hard Day’s Night

I’m quite glad to be back in the routine of school although getting up early again sucks. The kids are pleased to be back with their friends and teachers, too – they were sick to death of me. Hopefully we can get along a little better now that we have a little time to ourselves here and there! Next on my agenda is booking a full-body, sports-recovery massage at Casbah (the best spa ever) for April 27th.

On a final note, I came across a cute thing this week – “Mommy Memoirs” – how to sum up life with your children in six words. Here’s mine (do mathematical operators count as words?)
Two boys = energy + love + crazy busy

More Birthday Pics of Jack

There were too many cute photos of Jack on and around his birthday. Here are just a few – isn’t he having a blast?