Coming Up Roses

Things have been good in the last month or so.

The girls are growing.  Kitten has started going to a French Immersion school, which has been difficult for her, but I think is challenging and growing her brain in ways that English school wasn’t.  It always surprises and amazes me when I hear her reading in French.  Granted, she’s not opening up her French library book and just spouting stuff out, but she can read me what is in her agenda, and the words on her spelling lists.  So I count that as great.  We are able to have very simple conversation in French, hello, how are you, good night, etc.  I find that I am missing her and missing seeing her growth more and more when she is away.  Not something I was entirely expecting.

Birdie is not growing.  Ha ha.  She’s a tiny peanut, as ever.  But this is her first year of preschool, and we are working very much on her independence and (for me, anyway) on her language skills.  She’s quiet, doesn’t talk a lot, and doesn’t speak overly clearly.  And we all let her just get away with it a lot of the time.  So while she’s with me, I’ve tried to make a point of her doing things for herself and asking for things with full sentences and manners.  She’s as adorable as they come, though, which buys her loads of grace.  She’s ever my snuggle bug, the most affectionate kid I’ve known.  She easily tells me she loves me and that she misses me, which warms a mama’s heart like nothing else.  She’s not as advance in art or other scholarly things as her sister was at this age, but she is inquisitive and adventurous.  While Kitten would have run screaming, Birdie will squat down and study insects she finds.  It is amazing to see her little mind work.  Kitten would be happy to sit and draw all day (always has been), whereas Birdie must change activities often, switching between stationary (reading, colouring) to something more active (running, climbing things).  If anything, Birdie is turning into a bit of a tomboy… which is fine in my books.  Currently, her favourite outfit is a pair of jeggings and her “race shirt”, which has a picture of an open wheel car on it (think Formula 1).  A few nights ago she told me that she wants a race car when she grows up.  She’s going to grow and grow and grow and grow until she is big enough and then she will drive one!

As for me… my world is ever changing.  I have an interview with the provincial government for an administrative supervisor job.  Basically, I’d be supervising a team of administrators.  It sounds terrifying.  Ha ha.  I would be able to do it, but the learning curve would be steep.  However, the pay is worth it.  Definitely can’t complain about that.  I would be increasing my salary by over half as much as I’m making now.  Kind of awesome.  I do worry about how much I’ll end up with after taxes vs. how much I am making now with the support payments and all that noise.  But realistically… it’s better to be self-sufficient anyway.  I am also exploring the option of getting into the data and communication trade.  So I would be hired on to a company as an apprentice and would end up running wire, finishing wire ends, etc.  The first couple of years are pretty menial tasks… but eventually I would be able to get into doing things like programming fire alarms in large buildings and other cool stuff.  I’m not like WHOO!!!  I love data lines!!!! or anything like that, but it would be a steady job that I can get better at, and that will change with every contract the company takes on.  Plus, it’s a good way to get an education without really having to take much time off.  In 4 years of working (vs. going to school), I’ll walk away with a journeyman’s ticket and very little school debt… if any at all.  And with it being a trade… I could very well end up running my own company or branching into other things.  And I love that it’s not a desk job.  That’s really the only thing that bothers me about taking the govt job if it’s offered… sitting at a desk.  Yuck.

I have been taking an Understanding Medical Terminology class through Mount Royal University.  It is challenging me in ways I didn’t expect.  I was really stressed out this week about finishing the course, but I am on the 4th kilometre of the 5 km race this course is ;) I am not sure whether I am going to sign up for part 2 or not.  I haven decided if I want to see the whole thing through and get my certificate or not.  I originally started it just to open up my options when it came to jobs available to me… but I feel like I’m maybe going in a completely opposite direction.  Not a bad thing… but I don’t want to waste money that I don’t need to waste, either.

As for the not-work portion of my life… I’ve been busy.  Currently, I am working with a team of 3 others (well… 5 others?  Maybe?) to build a Vega/Astre/Monza hybrid vehicle to race in the Chump Car championships at Laguna Seca in December.  It’s all very exciting, and very boring at the same time.  But it allows me to go on adventures, like helping load a car with only a front axel onto a trailer while it’s rear end is suspended from a tractor with it’s bucket way in the air.  Plus, I actually know a few things about cars now.  Only a few.

This is all courtesy of this dude that I’ve been seeing for a little while now.  He’s nice.  He is a mechanic but is currently managing a garage for someone else (and not really doing much under the cars these days).  Has a couple of kids older than mine, loves cars and beer, and all living things.  We seem to get along pretty well, and he’s very supportive of my mama-hood, always encouraging me to spend lots of time with my girls and to mommy-up.  It’s nice.  I was worried that it would be hard to find someone who really understands how much kids need from you, and I think he gets it.  My girls like visiting his house, with the giant dog, the race car, and the huge fish tank.  Only Birdie likes the snake… Kitten is not really a fan.  I adore his children, which makes being around them easier.

I haven’t been running all that much.  I did do the Climb of Hope run again this year, and place well within the first 1/4 of runners.  So I was relatively chuffed with the result… especially since I hadn’t really been training at all.  I had signed up to do the Color Me RAD run, but ended up being in Spokane with the Chump Car 36 hour endurance race.  It was an amazing amount of fun and I am really glad that I made the decision to go.  I am taking a dance class… Pole dancing.  Don’t laugh – it’s really fun and it’s a crazy upper body work out.  Although my legs are often sore after class as well.  I like to joke around that if all my other job options don’t pan out, I could always resort to stripping!  Ha ha.  Never going to happen.  At any rate, who would want to watch that?  No one.  That’s who.

I haven’t done too much to my apartment in the past couple of months.  I started to paint my bedroom… but ran out of steam.  Ha ha.  Maybe next week that the girls are here, I will do some painting in there.  After my course is done.  Then I won’t have to worry about that any more.

So that’s how things are with me, these days.  I’m happy.  Feeling pretty settled.  Would like to change a few things, but I have a plan and it’s being put into action.  About the only thing lacking is that I’d like to drop the stress weight that I’ve gained… but I’m not sure when I’ll do that.  Not ready to tighten down the diet and increase the activity, yet.  Hope things are well with all the blog people out there in blog land.

Trepidation

I have started this post over so many times, never sure where to start. Or if there is even a reason. My readership is probably at about 3, and I think all of you actually know me… So why even tell it? It’s not that I need a voice – I have one. It’s not for sympathy, I deserve none (not do I want pity). Maybe to find other who have travelled a similar path? I don’t know.

I see great struggle in my future, and why not revisit my blog. Where I have laid out so many of my struggles previously. Before I got married. Through my babies. Losing weight. Then things got easy and I stopped writing. All together, stopped. Or maybe just got busy. I don’t know.

Rob and I are perusing a divorce. We have been married for 8 years, after getting married young and fast (not as fast as some, but faster then most of my peers). There are lots of “reasons”, and none at all, at the same time.

I am lonely. I have been in a relationship of some sort since I was 19. I am 32. This is foreign and weird and uncomfortable. And clearly… A place to grow, if I let myself. I am not lonely in the sense of being alone. I am not. I have good friends, good family, good work/social life. It is just very strange, not “belonging” to someone in particular.

There is no despair in me, only trepidation. A bit of worry. But a keen sense of hope, of “things will get better”.

V is for Vulnerable

I looked at a book at the bookstore today, an ABC book for adults. It’s called “V is for Vulnerable” by Seth Godin. It’s essentially a book for creators, for artists. While most of it didn’t speak to me (I don’t feel that I am an artist), there were a couple of poignant pages that stirred thought in me.

The first is that L is for lonely, because everyone is (and he finishes that thought with how the artist tries to help with the loneliness).

It just made me ponder. I am constantly surrounded by people. At work, at home. I am rarely alone. But I can still feel it, the feeling of loneliness. When did we lose connection with each other, in the face to face? Today I stood in line between two people waiting for coffee. I did not have my phone with me, just a little change in my pocket. I stood and watched as both people stayed glued to their screens, only looking up to place their order, barely acknowledging their barista. I wonder if this is part of the loneliness. We are so attached to our screens that we have stopped being people?

V is for Vulnerable, because if you refuse to share yourself or your art because of fear, there is no point to the art. I am tired of living in this world of nice-nice. I want to be vulnerable with people I don’t know all that well. I want the freedom to say “XYZ is shitty” or “ABC is amazing” regardless of what the reaction is. I want to be honest about what I think and where I am.

Living is hard sometimes. Sometimes it’s easy and amazing and just plain fun. Some days it’s full of pain and disappointment and suffering. I seek connection in my fellow human beings, and hope that maybe by being honest, by being a little bit vulnerable, I can find that connection.

A Post You’ve Been Waiting For

Hello, Internet land!  How have you been?  Swell?  Excellent.

I managed to get off my rear (actually, I have sat down ON my rear to do this, but I digress) and take some pictures of our home.  I figured that all of you have been WAITING to see some of our renovation photos.  Well.  It’s your lucky day!  I took some pictures of our living room.  So, here we go!

Here are the “Before” shots.  Please excuse the mess!

From our front door:
Living Room, Pre-Reno

From the fireplace (tucked behind the couch):
Living Room, Pre-Reno

From the fireplace, other direction:
Living Room, Pre-Reno

During the renovations:

Front Entrance:
Living Room, During Reno

The wall above the fire place:
Living Room, during Renos

So. We didn’t do a huge amount in this room, really. We closed in the ceiling to increase the square footage upstairs (and essentially give us our bonus room), replaced the yucky carpet with laminate, and painted the walls. In the front hall, we replaced our lino with tile, as well as closing in the ceiling, and painting. We had a bit of fiddly work done at the top of the pony wall railing to make it look nice. We left the glass insert in the pony wall, so we didn’t lose the light into the stairwell.

We added an overhead light in the living room, as well as the spot lighting because I dislike not being able to turn on an overhead light in the living room. I figure that I can always just use lamps if I want mood lighting, but it’s hard to make a lamp really get a lot of light in a room, if you know what I mean. To be honest, this is not a room that Rob and I spend a ton of time in, although the girls do like to read and play in here sometimes. Mostly, this is our “formal” living room, used when guests come over.

From the front door:
Living Room, Post-Reno

From the front door, but a wider angle:
Living Room, Post-Reno

From the kitchen:
Living Room, Post-Reno

From the fireplace:
Living Room, Post-Reno

We still have a few things to do in here. I’d like to get a couple of end tables, for both of the couches. A lamp might be nice, on both tables. Especially seeing as how we use the couch near the book case for reading and relaxing. We have family pictures and wedding pictures to hang above the couch, as well. I would like to find a matching rug for the front entrance, as well. The carpet scraps we have are working well, so far… but they’re not ideal for the long term, I think.

Thanks for looking!

Scrapbook Sunday 01-08-12

Scrapbook Sunday!!! Who is excited? Only me? Ahem.

So, I’ve been back at the scrapbooking since we’ve had our computer back up. I’ve done a zillion pages (or so) in the past week, and I’m excited to show them to you!

This one is Halloween 2009. Kitten dressed up as a witch (although I think she told people she was a fairy. I can’t remember). This graphics package called to me – it’s just too cute with the little bats and such. I picked this one up at Designer Digitals.

2009 Scrapbook - Halloween Pg 1

2009 Scrapbook - Halloween Pg 2

So that’s it.  :)  Maybe next week I’ll post a scrapbook page with Birdie.  Or maybe not.  ;)

You guys. I am alive.

Well, we’re “done” the reno (as in, the construction stuff is mostly done, barring a few touch ups, but we are still in unpacking and decorating mode). But I’m not ready to do all my before and after shots until the decorating is done. So, patience, grasshopper.

I completely went off of the Paleo Diet thing during the last month or so of the reno. It was difficult and uninspiring to not have a kitchen and have to chose from a very limited selection of items while eating out. I ended up gaining some weight back (I think 7 pounds?), but it came off really easily during the month of November (another Whole 30). Rob joined me on the Whole 30 this time, and he lost a few pounds… not that he was even remotely near fat or even had that much to loose. However, his eczema has completely disappeared, and it seems (to me) like he has more energy/drive… but maybe that’s because the computer has been in storage until the last week ;) Christmas didn’t derail us too much, although I did play a little food bingo, where there were certain things I really wanted to eat during the holidays that I only get to eat once a year, or even every other year.

I’ve been making an effort to move more these days, and that’s kind of my plan for this year. I feel like I have the eating thing down (I would say that I’m paleo 90% of the time, allowing for treats on ocassion), and now it’s time to start moving. So I’ve been doing some strength conditioning at home (body weight exercises), and I’ve started doing yoga at home again, as well (did you know that some people have put 1 hour long yoga routines on youtube? Amazing – now I don’t have to go take a class). I did buy a 20 punch pass card for a local Crossfit gym… but have been to afraid to go. I should just get going and receive my beating. Ha ha. I feel like I wanted to get a little bit stronger before I go. Which is stupid, as the POINT of going is to get strong THERE. But yeah.

The kids are both good. Kitten has been a busy girl, and is very into Pokemon and Disney Fairies right now. Birdie is the same as always, except she now has 4 teeth, and is willing to play in the basement (finished, all the toys are down there) for long stretches of time by herself. She has moved out of the crib in the closet, and is now sleeping on a double mattress on the floor of her new room. She was in a sleep sack for a little while, but she seems to prefer to sleep under a big blanket now. Silly girl.

Rob is doing well at work, and has aquired a bunch of new skills at home. He did all the dapping and the lions share of baseboard painting in our house. He also learned how to install laminate floor, paint an entire house in a weekend, and just generally be bonkers. It has been a fun ride, although I’m not terribly sure that I would want to live in our home during construction of that magnitude again. The major plus was that we noticed a lot of things that needed to be fixed as we went along, instead of having to make the contractors go back and fix it.

Well, it sounds like the girls are done their breakfast. I should attend them. Watch this space for new before & after pictures, for both the house and myself, as well as some new scrapbook pages (and hopefully pictures of the kids as well as of some knitting!)

Whole 30–The Aftermath

Hey, Hi, Hello.  I’ve been done my Whole 30 (or W30, as I’ve become prone to typing) for a little while now, but have forgotten to blog about it.  Errr… sorry about that.  So!  Here I am.  Blogging.  About it.

First and foremost:  There are bathing suit pictures (of me) at the end of this post.  Just so you know.  So if you want to avert your virgin eyes, or are offended by stomachs, you might want to turn away before we get there. 

Ok, so on to the actual thoughts and stuff, about the W30.  I think I shall do this bullet point style, for funsies. 

  • The first week sucked.  Hard.  I had a really hard time cutting out the sugar (mostly) after spending a week + in Disney, eating mostly sugar.  But after that craving went away, it was pretty smooth sailing.
  • My meals mostly looked like this:
    • Breakfast: 2 eggs & 2 pieces of bacon, sometimes with some veggies, sometimes with some fruit, and sometimes, by themselves.  I didn’t eat bacon every day, sometimes I had scrambled eggs, and sometimes I completely skipped breakfast all together (this is ok on the W30, if you’re not hungry in the AM)
    • Lunch:  Big assed salad.  Usually a “refrigerator salad” – so anything in the fridge went on.  I usually put in avocado for fat and a hard boiled egg or tuna for protein.  Then I would also put in whatever lettuce I had, and cut up a bunch of veggies, and drizzled the whole thing with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  You’d think that you’d get tired of the same dressing every day, but I really found that I didn’t.  The flavours in the salad changed enough that it didn’t taste like the same salad every day.
    • Dinner:  Usually a meat with 3 veggies, or 2 veggies and some sweet potato.  There aren’t a lot of sauces that are W30 approved, but we did enjoy the basic flavours of what we were eating.  There were nights when I would make everyone else some pasta, and I would have veggies instead, and that was ok.  I didn’t want to do that often, but every other week or so, it was ok. 
    • Snacks: I would snack when I was feeling hungry, but tried to avoid mindless snacking, or boredom snacking.  My choices were fruit (mostly berries, but not terribly often), nuts (pistachios, almonds, pecans), veggies with guacamole.  Most of the time, I picked pistachios because they are super duper awesome, and the cracking them open helped me to not just shove handfuls in my mouth.
    • Beverages:  I drank water.  I also switched out my cream in my coffee for coconut milk, which turned out quite nicely.  I suppose there is some level of coconut milk in this context not being W30 compliant, as it is a direct substitute for either a dairy or artificial creamer.  I was willing to overlook that.  I also enjoyed club soda with a bit of lime juice (NOT lime cordial, people) on occasion.  I tried to keep it down to only a couple times a week.  Either when I was really craving pop (it’s mostly the “bite” of the carbonation that I want), or when others around me where drinking pop/beer. 
  • I think I would do this again, later, with some caveats. 
  • Right now, I’m keeping about 90% Paleo, with the exception of cheese.  I don’t believe that life is worth living without cheese.  But I know now that my gut can tolerate small amounts of cheese (although it really hates sour cream).  I have not gone back to drinking milk, which I don’t really miss.  I have found ways to eat out instead of having to stay home.  I have added white basmati rice back to our diet (rice is pretty much a hypoallergenic food, so it doesn’t usually irritate the gut.  However, it’s a very nutrient sparse food, so it’s not usually consumed by people who follow a paleo/primal style diet).
  • I found the biggest change that didn’t have to do with weight/size in my allergies and my eyes.  I didn’t take any allergy medication for most of June.  I took it very sparingly in July (when I wasn’t as strict).  I also found that the bags under my eyes almost completely cleared up.  I still have some dark circles because I’m not sleeping perfectly, but I have 2 small kids.  Thing is, if I have ANY amount of grain (especially wheat), the black eyes come back with a vengeance.  So I don’t get much stomach upset from cheating on my diet, I just get ugly.  Ha ha.
  • I will say that I have more energy.  More stamina, really.  I don’t have any more motivation than I did before – inertia is still my greatest enemy and my best friend.  But after a day of cleaning the house, I’m not as tired as before.  Although I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that I still have some cortisol/adrenal wonkiness. 
  • I have lost, give or take, about 15 lbs.  Without doing any form of exercise.  I’m trying to get a bit more active now, so I can continue with the fat loss… so we’ll see how that goes.  Since I took the pictures, I’ve lost a few more pounds, but not very much. 
  • I would guess that I have dropped 2-3 dress sizes, although the biggest change, by far, is around my tummy.  If I haven’t had any “treats” (especially grains), my stomach is pretty fat.  Not perfect, but not very round.  I’ve lost weight other places, but this is the biggest difference. 
  • I really wish that I would have taken measurements, to really have a quantitative value for how many inches I’ve lost. 

Ok, there is one thing I need to address about this, before we get on to the before & after pictures:  Breastfeeding.  Thing is – I almost completely lost my milk supply.  I know that Birdie is getting pretty big, and that she doesn’t *need* to be nursing at this point, but I had really wanted to nurse her until she was somewhere between 18-24 months (as per the WHO recommendations).  She only nurses 2x a day, and it’s working for us, so we continue to do it.  Except that it stopped working, and she stopped sleeping very well at night.  So I tried to eat more fruit.  I tried to eat more fat.  I tried to eat more carbs… but it didn’t seem to help.  So on day 25, even after reaching out to Every Day Paleo for help as a last resort, I made a batch of No Bake Oatmeal cookies.  I made them as paleo as I could get them.  Used coconut milk instead of dairy.  I used coconut oil instead of margarine.  I even used honey instead of sugar.  But the oats… they were the magic ingredient.  So I had to keep them.  I didn’t do this on a whim – I know that for me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, these cookies and a lot of water will boost my supply.  And it sure did.  Once my milk supply was back up (and Birdie was back to sleeping at night), I have been able to maintain a better supply by eating more carbs.  I have found that by being more attentive to how MUCH I’m eating, and making sure I’m getting enough (it’s easy for me to skip meals and not notice), and making sure that I am getting on the higher end of carbs (150g + per day), I can maintain a supply.  I still get some dips if I’m not eating well enough, but it’s been easy to boost my supply again.  I guess all said and done, I would NOT do this again while I’m nursing.  I would NOT recommend it for other nursing moms.  If you want to eat a paleo diet, I think that is a GREAT idea, nursing or not, but I would not recommend the Whole 30 for nursing or pregnant moms.

This post has some pretty good resources in it, if you’re interested in reading further.

OK, HERE ARE THE PICTURES!  THIS IS WHERE YOU EITHER LOOK AT ME IN A BIKINI, OR AVERT YOUR EYES.  LOOK!  KITTENS!!!

Before

After

So there you go.  Was it worth it?  Well, the fact that I can wear jeans that I wore 10 year ago pretty much makes this a HUGE yes for me!