Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What city am I in again?

It's been a whirlwind kind of week.

On Wednesday, December 24, we woke the kids up before 7, packed them into the already packed to the gills car (which we packed the night before) and drove out to Brampton to spend a couple of hours with my parents while Ryan worked a half day.

With him being in Mississauga, it made sense for me to drop him off and kill some time in Brampton, because when his half day was done, we drove on to London for Christmas Eve night, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. But just to make it complicated, we spent the three nights in London in two different houses. And to make it even more complicated we spent the first night at house A, the second night at house B and the third night back at house A. Because, you know, nothing can be that simple.

At 6 a.m. on Dec. 27, Ryan and I hit the road without the kids and drove to Buffalo (through the thickest pea soup fog I've ever seen in my life) where we hopped a plane to Raleigh, North Carolina by way of Baltimore.

Once in Raleigh, we parked ourselves in the same hotel room for two nights in a row so that we could attend my cousin's wedding and spend time with my family down there.

And then we reversed the whole trip on the morning of Dec. 29. First, we hopped a plane back to Buffalo -- again by the way of Baltimore -- then proceeded to drive back to London, pack up all our stuff and the kids and then drive back to Toronto, arriving home some 12 hours after we left Raleigh.

Therefore, in six days, I've slept in three beds, packed some or all of our bags six times and was in five cities (if you count being in the airport in Baltimore as being in a city). Phew. This is one vacation I definitely need a vacation from. That is as soon as I finish unpacking.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A winter run...what am I crazy?

The other night, after dinner, Ryan suggested I go for a run. I'd had a long day with the kids and needed a break from them. But it was cold out and I've always said I didn't like running in the winter so I just moped around the house instead, wishing I'd gotten around to getting a gym membership.

But the idea of 'going for a run' stuck with me and last night, after dinner, Ryan suggested it again. I flipped on the TV and saw that it was -5C out. Cold, I thought. But I spent many winters skiing every weekend, and I've skiied in a lot colder weather. So, how hard could it be to run in the cold?

Before I could change my mind, I was digging out my long johns from a box in the basement along with my other ski stuff that hasn't been used since before the kids were born. (In fact, the ski tag attached to my jacket was dated Feb. 2005.)

Once I was suited up, out the door and running along the street, I quickly realized that running in the cold probably wouldn't be that bad -- as long as the sidewalks were clear. And, for the most part, they were. And I had my best run to date -- 3.5 kilometres (I Google mapped the route I took when I got home to find out how far I'd gone).

So maybe running in the cold isn't all that bad. Or, maybe I'm just a little crazy for doing so.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

O Christmas tree

Next to listening to Christmas music all month long, putting up the tree is my favourite part of the holiday traditions.

I love Christmas trees. I prefer real ones, despite the fact that I'm sweeping up pine needles until Easter; although fake ones are just as nice. Because it's the Christmas ornaments that I really love.
I don't do the Martha Stewart tree. Instead, I have a very ecclectic collection of ornaments -- making for a very ecclectic looking tree.

My ornaments hold special memories, remind me of certain times or tell a story.

The story ornaments are the ones I bought (or we bought) while on vacation somewhere. I have a ball from the Rockafeller Centre in New York, a lighthouse from Nova Scotia a scottie dog from Scotland and a skiing moose from Tremblant. Each one reminds me of that trip. But, my all-time favourite Christmas ornament, is my santa dressed as a turtle from the Cayman Islands.

The ones that remind me of certain times are, for the most part, the ones with dates on them. There's the one Ryan bought me for our first Christmas after we got married, there's one for our first year in the house and one for each of the kids' first Christmases. There's also a snowflake with my name on it dated 1979. It had been a gift to me that year, and I took it from my parents tree when I moved out.

That leads me to the ornaments that hold special memories. Every year, for as long as I can remember, my grandmother put up a white Christmas tree covered in only tartan ornaments. About five years ago, she decided the tree was looking a little tired and old and that it was too much work for her to put it up on her own. So, that year, she brought out her box of ornaments and my sisters, my cousins and I were all told to take whichever ones we wanted.

So on my tree, are a handful of tartan ornaments. Some of them look like they came from a dollar store, but that's not the point. The point is they came from my grandmother's tree.

Put the tartan ornaments with the Hallmark-type ornaments, the turtle Santa-type ornaments and the Ikea balls and other dollar store ornaments I've bought to fill it out and you have one ecclectic looking tree.

Especially since this year, Austin helped with the decorating. Being only three feet tall, there's now a patch of tree in front that is, um, very well decorated.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The 2 a.m. power struggle

Alexandra hasn't been sleeping well for a little over a week. First it was her first tooth cutting through. Then it was a cold and a nasty cough that would shake her awake and now it's the second tooth cutting through.

I list all these things as reasons for poor sleeping because it's what I think is wrong with her. But how the hell do I really know.

So when she cries out at 2 a.m. -- as she did last night and the night before -- I go to her and try to calm her. For lack of a better idea, I gave her Tylenol and Oral gel to ease the so-called tooth pain she may or may not be feeling and put her back to bed. But both nights, she'd have nothing of this "going back to bed thing".

So she screamed and screamed and screamed. She screamed because she figured once she was awake, I might as well feed her.

But I don't want to. I know she's able to go 8 to 10 hours without eating at night. She's done it a lot in the last month. So I hold out. And 2 a.m. turns into 2:30 a.m. Which then turns into 3 a.m. And she's still screaming. Every now and then she whimpers off and I lie there thinking "ok good, she's calming down and going to sleep" but then after a few minutes she starts up again.

On Tuesday night, this went on for two hours. Two hours! And finally at 4 a.m., she won, I got up and fed her. Afterall, it had now been 8 hours since she had last eaten. As soon as she was done, she was out like a light.

Last night, this routine repeated, but I gave in after an hour. Having first tried giving her a bottle of water to see if she'd take the hint. It failed miserably.

Alexandra seems to have a one-track mind when she wakes in the night. And so we're locked in this power struggle. Her screaming herself hoarse from her room and Ryan and I lying awake in our room wishing we had earplugs and watching how close to morning the clock is getting.

I know the only way she'll learn to stop wanting to be fed is to not feed her when she demands it, but that's the million dollar statement -- if we want to get any sleep after 2 a.m. these days, she wins the power struggle every time.

Let's just hope that once this second tooth comes in and this cough goes away she'll go back to sleeping through the night.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The plus side to a tanking economy

In September, when the price of gas was still through the roof, it cost me $89 to fill my SUV and $50 to fill my little Honda Civic.

This week, it cost me half that to fill my cars -- $45 to fill the SUV yesterday and $29 to fill the Civic on the weekend. I'll certainly take those prices any day.

We fill the SUV twice a month and the Civic once a week so there's a huge savings at the pump right now.

Of course, with the value of our currency compared to the U.S. dollar, that savings will be completely negated when we fly down to the States later this month for a few days.

Oh well, you can't have it all.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Running just as far as I can

Running was never my thing. I'm sure as a kid I could run -- all kids can. But once I reached a certain age, probably a pre-teen, I couldn't do it anymore.

Until I was 13 I played soccer every summer. But in my last year or two it became harder and harder to do because running was too much work. And then, when I was 16, I was diagnosed with asthma and it became very clear why running usually resulted in wheezing and light-headedness.

So, I switched my physical activity to swimming. And over the years I became very good at it -- in fact by the time I was 18 I was both a lifeguard and an instructor. But without fail, whenever the morning warmup for lifeguard staff was to run to the front gates and back (I worked at a waterpark) I'd end up bringing up the rear, wheezing away.

But about five or six years ago, I decided I wanted to be able to run. It was the one thing I couldn't do, so I wanted to do. I had lofty ideas of running a marathon...until the first time I tried running and had to stop to lean against a tree after a block and a half.

But I ran on. At one point, before I had kids, I could run five kilometres on a treadmill and a little less outside.

Then I got pregnant with Austin. Then I had Austin. Then I was too busy being a mom to find the time to go running more than occasionally. Then I went back to work. Then I got pregnant with Alex. Then I had Alex.

By this point, three years had gone by and I probably didn't need more than both hands to count the number of times I'd been out running.

But about eight weeks after Alex was born, I decided that I wanted to resurrect that old idea of running a marathon -- but I'm a little more realistic about it now. So I'll say it here, in writing, that one day in 2009, I will run a 10 km race. I've been thinking about it for awhile now, and maybe by writing it down, I'll be even more motivated to do so.

I still don't get out on the pavement often -- especially now that it's winter -- but the last time I got out a few weeks ago, I managed close to 3.5 km before stopping. Not bad considering it had been a month since my last run and three months since the one before that.

It helps that, with two kids, I stay quite active. So I'm not completely out of shape. So maybe with a little bit of motivation and determination at a gym this winter, followed by a concerted effort to get outside with the first signs of spring, I'll do it.

And then I'll no longer be able to say that I can't run.