Learning new things, but not too many

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tonight is swim class for Sofia. This will be her fourth class of nine.

Last year, in my little daughter's SCHEDULE, we kept it simple: let's get her used to going to school first.

Okay fine. I needed to get used to her going to school first.

After all, on my days off I wasn't used to the fact that I'd have to wait until she was done her half-day in the morning before I could plan to do anything! And not to mention that I have to get up extra early in order to get myself ready and then get Sofia ready for school. School added an all new level of hectic to our lives.

This year, I felt she and I was ready to add a couple of more things now that we've mastered adding school in the mix. Swimming on Tuesday and Wee College on Wednesdays at church. She is enjoying both a lot and doesn't seem too exhausted.

I am wary of putting too much on her plate. Sofia has a classmate where she has something different everyday: tae kwan do, ballet, swimming and other things I can't remember. Obviously each parent can decide as they see fit, but I am of the persuasion that children should be children and they don't need schedules as busy as ours as adults. I want to see that she has time to be creative, to have time building a relationship with her brother, to read stories with her parents and other things that can't happen if every moment in her day is scheduled.

I am guilty of this, however. I am always looking to see how I can be more productive, what else can I squeeze into my day. But what good is that when I am drained to the point that my first day off is spent recovering from my week and the rest are spent worrying about what I need to accomplish in the next week?

Sometimes I think that we as adults need to allow ourselves some time to just play. Yes, still. Maybe time to just chat on the phone with a friend. Some time to paint a picture. Some time to write a few thoughts down. Some time for a ticklefight with the kids. If I don't model it, how can I hope that my kids won't put the same unsustainable pressure that we put on ourselves that often us city-type people tend to do? I hope that I can fight against doing that for their sake--and mine.

Joaquin's Rare (Blogpost) Snapshot

Monday, September 17, 2012

Compared to my first born, I really don't write much about him. I don't take many pictures of him. Such is the plight of the subsequently born. Poor thing. 

Okay, I do try to take photos and video of him, but he tends to run towards the camera. Makes for every shot ending up the same. 

Anyway, he is now 2.5 years old. We enjoy the heck out of him. He definitely has his trying days, but in general, he is a ridiculous amount of fun. Sofia and him, they really get along. I can't complain. For the fact that they are two years apart and different genders, it's quite a miracle. Gonz and him have been bonding really well lately. I find that children bond easily to their mothers, but bonding to their fathers take intentionality and work. Joaquin will let Gonz take him to sleep – whereas at his age, Sofia wouldn't have anyone but me. I'm extremely happy about this. 

What is he up to these days?

He doesn't really talk. Okay, fine. He is starting to talk. He'll put a couple of words together know to form his version of a sentence, and most of the time we know what he wants. This has been interesting for us as a family because Sofia was talking in PARAGRAPHS already by the time she was two and half. I know it's bad to compare your children, but I didn't say this was a competition. It's just...interesting. 

He's into his Lego. He is starting to be able to put the pieces together. He can work the puzzle app on my iPhone (My First Puzzles). Train sets. Looking at books. He loves dancing with and chasing his sister. One day I hope to capture a good shot of him dancing. 

This past summer, while in my cousin's pool (and wearing a floatation device), he figured out how to keep his head above the water and started swimming around. He sure drank a TON OF POOL WATER for the first few tries, but I couldn't believe how confident he was in the water. Especially since last summer, he HATED the pool. So glad he has changed his mind about that!

Picky. But a weird picky. Like, he won't eat grilled cheese sandwiches, but he'll have Thai Red Curry Chicken. I don't know. I can't guess what he'll like, so I should just remember to let him try it all. 

He is potty-trained. About a month ago, I noted that he was waking up dry for a few weeks and I thought, let's just go for this. My method of potty-training is downright just dirty. It's the fastest way. With Sofia I waffled between underwear and Pull-Ups. When someone told me that Pull-Ups and other fake-y underwear-diaper hybrids just prolonged potty-training, I said FORGET THAT. And when I did, there were more messes but potty-training was usually complete in something like a week. And with Joaquin that was true. During the process, I was still putting Joaquin in diapers at night, just in case, until one night, I went to do the same, he pushed my hand away gently and said "no", and pointed to his pyjama pants. I thought, okay, well, let's just go for it. Since then he hasn't wet the bed not even once. And while we have had a few accidents during the day, I cannot complain, He is doing great. 

We had a great time with our little family this past summer. I never got around to writing a post about our holidays, but we took two weeks out and just drove around the United States visiting my side of the family. It was fantastic. It's no lie when people tell you that kids grow up fast. I have a 4.5 and a 2.5 year old. Whenever I just step back I can't believe that they are that big already. I am trying to always remind myself that if I don't stop to take a a good look at my kids regularly, they'll be grown and leaving me before I know it. I am learning to be grateful for every day that they are with me, even if they have been an exhausting day. They are such a gift and they teach me so much every day. 

Home Improving

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Today I took on my first home improvement project.
My garage needed a facelift. Should be fairly simple, right? After all, it's just paint.

My sister offered to help me out, which I gladly accepted. The thought of me taking this one on while my two children ran circles around me is always enough to make my palms sweat. So, we started this morning at 10:30, chip, chip, chipping the paint away; the prep work before the fun of painting gets started.

The interesting thing about chipping paint away is finding out what is underneath. We found an ORANGE layer, and even a green layer. But the craziest thing is the wood grain "sticker" layer that we suppose was the original look of the garage. Yes. A metal garage door that had a HUGE sticker on it to make it look like wood. 

After all, it was the seventies.

I took the above picture because it was getting depressing. We had been chipping for over two hours and I felt like that we weren't making much headway, so I wanted a photo to show myself that after another hour, we did make some progress. I did have enough sense to give up on the idea of painting today. There was too much prep work still yet to be done. And I knew that if we didn't spend the time to prepare the surface properly, we shouldn't bother at all. 

Then, my dad came home. (He was at choir rehearsal). 
The three of us really made some real progress. Especially when my dad got the idea to get his butane torch out to heat the left over "sticker" parts – which worked, but a little scary. (My dad loves to find ways to work this torch into any project). 

Another couple of hours, we arrived at this:

So, hopefully I get to paint tomorrow. I will be, however, all by myself with my kids, so if I don't get much done, I will have to accept this. I hope to post the final product soon – I hope!

While this is just painting the garage, I really procrastinated on it 'cause I am frankly a little bit scared of home improvement projects. Both my husband and I came from families who were renters so we didn't come pre-loaded with home improvement and renovation knowledge. It is extremely foreign to me. But I am telling myself this:
  1. I can learn this too. 
  2. I have friends and family who I can ask for advice. 
  3. Just get it done.
I have learned everything at work from zero. I never cooked before I got married. So what if I had never built anything before I owned a house? This cannot be impossible. I look forward to the day that I am extremely comfortable with doing this kind of thing (and much, much more complex things) in the near future!

Slow start to our road trip

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Today, we begin our two week road trip where we'll be going to visit about 20 members of my family by the time all is said and done. It has been in the works since March or so. It's finally here!

We set to leave at 10 this morning which we were on target for until I realized that I forgot my purse at home. (I was loading the car and forgot to go back and check that we had all the bags). By the time I realized it we were all the way down at Jameson -- 30 minutes from home. So, we lost an hour.

We are now at the Duty Free, at the Rainbow Bridge border crossing for a pee break. We did stop for lunch back at Grimsby but with my mistake with the purse and the stupid traffic all along the highway all the way here it is now, sadly, 2:40 pm.

It's a little frustrating -- especially with grumpy children but we're trying not to stress too much. We will be stopping my uncle's outside of Buffalo before we head down to New Jersey so we are in no rush anyway. I'm just glad that we decided to do that, because if we weren't planning to stop, we probably wouldn't get to NJ until past midnight and that just might make me really swear.

Still, I know this trip is going to be pretty stellar despite this slow start. Can only go up from here!

This is arts and crafts with daddy

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Gonz has been off of work for nearly a month because of a back injury. He's making most of the time off to chill with the kids. I like that.

Yay! A Great First Year!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sofia's last day of kindergarten is two days away! A whole year of school almost done! I am relieved that school went as well as I hoped that it would for her.

My biggest hope for her was that she would enjoy school. Yes, it's good that she made friends, steadily learned the lessons, paid attention, was respectful to the teacher and others...But I think that all of that comes easiest when your child can look forward to school. When the weekend comes around and I say, "It's Friday, no school tomorrow!" and she responds with an, "Ohhhhhhh...."

(Funny side story: during Sofia's first week of school, we'd try to rush Sofia off to bed so she could be rested for the next day of school, and we'd say, "Sofia! Go to bed, you have to go to school tomorrow!" She was surprised and said, "AGAIN?!" ...Now, she doesn't want to stop going.)

She received her report card today and it is incredible how much they were able to teach her. (It's funny and amazing how many lessons included a song that would help them remember concepts.) The report painted a picture of what a rich experience she has had this year. And it's "just" kindergarten!

Sofia had an incredible team of teachers. I don't know about you, but when I went to kindergarten, I had one main teacher and then an assistant. Sofia comes home and tells me about Mrs. So-and-So, and Mrs. This-and-That, and her and him and the teacher at the library and ... I'm terribly confused, but if it takes that many caring adults to make Sofia so excited to go back to school day after day, awesome! I am so grateful to them that they can engage a classroom of 37 junior and senior kindergarten students in one room. It takes special people to not completely lose their minds. THANK YOU!

On the night of Sofia's last day of school, I want to do something with the family that will celebrate the occasion! I was thinking and thinking...what can we do that will be just totally about her? (Even birthdays and stuff, I always make dinner menus that make me and the adults happy, and the kids have to oblige.) And the only thing that comes to mind is...McDonalds! So, I think that it's going to be McDonalds for Sofia's dinner party! And then maybe Centre Island on Friday for a full day of fun!

Got any ideas better than McDonalds? ('cause I kinda would rather not!) Leave your suggestions in the comments! :)

Little Sister to Mommy

Monday, June 25, 2012

Today marks my sister's due date. As I write this, there is 41 minutes left to today – so, likely Monday, June 25, 2012 will not be my soon to be niece (or nephew's) birthday.

I cannot tell you how excited I am!

My sister walked closely with me through my two pregnancies. She even knows what kind of "personality" my children demonstrated while in the womb!

However, I drew a line. She almost made into the delivery room for my first. She was there when the contractions were starting; we were in Oshawa at my in-laws'. We started driving back to Toronto, to head to my hospital, and she was taking notes as to what to pack in my bag... since I didn't get a chance to do that. (Sofia came 16 days early!) She was there at the hospital as I got wheeled into my labour room. But as my contractions got worse and worse, I managed a sliver of foresight: A woman should never have to witness the labour pains and delivery before her time comes to do that herself! And I am smart because here she is today about to deliver her own child. If I had not kicked her out of that labour room, she may have been too traumatized to ever want children of her own!

I'm looking forward to being there when this baby arrives. To welcome her/ him into the world, and into our family! These days are more precious than I can even wrap my head around even though I have already had two. And so many things are going to change for Christine and Josiah. Gonzo and I are looking forward to helping in anyway we can to ease the challenges of the days and long, long nights of newborns so that they can enjoy the transition into being parents. My own parents, sisters, parents-in-law, sisters-in-law, friends and more family were an amazing support during those early days – cooking for us, presents and phone calls and well-wishing. I am looking forward to passing on what blessing I received!

(Photo credit: the very awesome Blake Morrow)

Summer traffic

Friday, June 22, 2012

I used to love all seasons the same but since I became a parent, summer has become my absolute favourite. No more couped up kids. No more thousands of layers of clothing. More hours of daylight. More options to enjoy in the city!

The one thing that is awful about summer in Toronto, however, is that the traffic is brutal. And with everyone wanting to enjoy the wonderful weather, everyone is out on the road. It's one downside that makes summer feel panicky--'cause you're always trying to beat the traffic everywhere you go.

But still!
Long live summer!

The Weekend Starts Now!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It's the weekend!
Yes, I know, it's only Thursday...
I know I have been raised better than this, but I'm gonna brag a little here...I have a three day weekend, EVERY WEEKEND!

One of the best decisions I have made as a mother was that after I finished up my maternity leave when I had Sofia, my first, I asked my employer to reduce my work week to a four-day instead of returning to my full time schedule.

Sure, I had to take a pay cut, but it has really helped build breathing room into my routine. I can't imagine finishing a heavy work week, running straight into the weekend. With Friday off, I can decompress from my week, get a few chores done and then really enjoy my weekend with the kids. My husband works every other weekend, and when he does, he has Fridays and Mondays off, so it also helps also that we can get at least one day together those weekends.

I can't stand the idea that I've given all my best hours of my day to work (even though I work at a fantastic place) and all I have left for my kids are fumes. It's another way to strike balance in an ever increasingly busy life...by intentionally making it UN-BUSY. Even at a financial cost.

They are only young once...I want to do all that I can to make the most of this time. Even if it's just some extra time for them to drive me nuts!

Wallpaper // Show your dreams

While I think that you should be careful with whom you share your dreams, I do think that you should share them. Go ahead. Maybe they can help you bring 'em alive...

For you. Enjoy!

Oh, the Possibilities

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Through a series of unfortunate events at my husband's current employment, he was injured at work, applied for compensation – visiting doctors, filling out and faxing forms – only to be declined. We are extremely disappointed, but this disappointment is just another blow to add to the collection of dissatisfactions that have been growing over my husband's nine years there.

I came to a point today where I felt kinda sick to my stomach and knew that I can always turn to God. So, I asked Him what should we do? Somehow I already knew the answer because it's something that He has been saying to us for quite sometime: FIND NEW WORK. Unfortunately, we have been disobedient for too long -- putting it off because of the small perks that have been earned due to tenure (despite the great distain that has been growing) of four weeks of holidays and decent pay. 

But he hates it. 
The job isn't invigorating. Completely drains all of his best energy. 
It's definitely time for a change. 

However, this is not the point of this post. This is just presenting the context for what I really want to say. 

The other thing I felt God say when I asked Him what I should do was to tell others to stand by us through prayer. This is completely not like me. I tend to be independent. I love to appear to have it together. I used to be much worse, but I tend to feel that appearing vulnerable is a little embarrassing. Reading this back to myself, it's obvious that this is a problem of pride. 

So, I emailed a handful of friends, letting them in on what we were going through. I expected a few people to write back and say, "Sure, we'll pray." But I was extremely surprised, and touched, to have people call me within minutes just letting me know that what I was going through "SUCKED", people thanked me for the update on our lives, we had people tell us that they had gone through even worse and can testify that God is faithful (double layoff), others telling us about job opportunities that they are going to watch out for... we felt the support deep and strong. 

Even though nothing about our situation has changed, over the course of day we felt strengthened, excited and optimistic about the possibility of what my husband could transition to. We even managed to apply for job as a calltaker/dispatcher for medical emergencies (A.K.A. 911). It was exciting to write a KICK BUTT cover letter. 

This is the Church. You won't see the point of Church unless you give up your independence. I know that because of the prayers of my family and friends, something has shifted in our outlook. To be honest, we have been a little fearful and doubtful of what Gonz could apply for. He has been at this one job for so long you start thinking that there is nothing else he capable of doing. And because of this doubt, he has been locked into a job that has made him increasingly miserable. We are now kind of grateful for this injury and what has transpired to wake us up to make a change. What an awful waste of life if he were to continue for another nine years in the same job. 

A weird scripture unless you've experienced it, then it makes sense:
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
 - James 1:2-4
No one likes going through anything hard, but for the Christian, because we know the God has us in His hands, we can be confident we can make it through anything. Even have the freedom to be joyful. Hopeful. Excited.

Afternoon reading

The kids are enjoying the books they got from the library and their afternoon snack. I'm working right now but I need to put this into practice in my own routine. I'm learning that a lot of things they enjoy would be healthy to include for myself. Here: regular times of reading...for enjoyment!

Becoming the kind of mom I want to be

I have been a mother for a few years. Since December 2007, to be exact. And I used to think that putting myself last was a virtue. It's being selfless, isn't it? Making sure that my children eat first even if I'm starving. Making sure that I'm the first to wake and last to sleep. Making sure that I slave morning 'til night ensuring that my family is well served. Enriched minds. Clean house. Great meals. Organized days. 

Aren't these the things that make me a great mother? 
But, this was killing me. 

The thing was it wasn't so bad when I only had one. But when my second baby was born, the juggling act upped a few thousand notches. Life became extremely demanding, which only got a bunch worse when I returned to work. (Many parents would agree that going to work is actually a break – but I work at home half the time, WHICH IS A RECIPE FOR INSANITY some days!). Life became extremely unsustainable, which in turn made me temperamental and unpredictably moody at times. 

It had to stop. 
And I fortunately remembered a simple truth: 
in order to give, you have to have something to give. 

Parenting young children is physically demanding. Interrupted sleep is the biggest culprit. And out of all my weaknesses, discipline with sleep has always been the worst. I have always wanted to be that person who wakes and is productive at 5:30 am, but every member of my family is a night owl. So the worst is when I have stayed up too late, and then my children take turns at waking us in the middle of the night. My energy was completely zapped. I became the walking dead. 

What has helped? My husband and I started exercising. This has made more of a difference than I could have imagined. It really lifts my mood (so, especially when I am tired, I have to kick my own butt to get out and go to the gym and I instantly feel better after the activity). And I feel I have more endurance during the day. 

I have changed my eating habits. I have way less sugar (although I still love my desserts) which helps a lot as well. Having your sugar crash simultaneously occur with your children's meltdown is not the best scenario for award winning parenting. So, getting rid of the candy and chocolate bars and soft drinks have made a significant impact. Plus, that stuff is crap anyway. 

Since the spiritual tends to be invisible... it seems to always be the thing that goes to the back burner. God is my ultimate source of strength, wisdom, guidance... If I'm not connected to Him, aware of Him, spent time with Him – it's like living in a desert. It is death. Everything in life feels harder, and I keep forgetting why. I need to live my life more aware of this truth. 

How does this look? For the last couple of days I have started listening to the podcast of a pastor that I really admire, Tim Keller. He has a gift of unpacking scripture in a simple but really profound way which is really making me excited about the Bible again. You should check him out on iTunes (Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church). 

I'm reading more. For me, if I can learn something, it inspires me. Whether it's a fitness book where I learn something new about the human body, or an philosophy of art book where I can think about the purpose of art in life, or the Bible, which serves anyone well to read it (honestly, dump the preconceived ideas and read it for yourself). I'm remembering how it feels to live inspired. The funny thing is that it makes me feel young again (ack....feeling old at 33 is depressing). 

This is just the start of making sure that I'm healthier. This goes beyond "me" time. Going to the spa to unwind, or retail therapy while may have some short term gain, leaves me with nothing more to give to my children than before. I need to continue to grow myself, so that when my children need me (which is a lot – especially in these young years), I have something to give them. 

I don't want to be a stressed, grumpy mom. But becoming the opposite requires intention and discipline. I let a lot of unimportant things slide now. So what if I'm behind on laundry? Oh well, some toys are still not put away. More importantly, if I can continue to include things in my life that keep me growing and inspired, I will become the kind of mother I want to be. 

Heavy lifter

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sofia was super-stoked about the fact that she could lift Joaquin. The rest of the day was filled with instances where she kept trying to lift other heavy objects. I put a stop to it once she started to try to lift the fridge.

Still running

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I'm back from my run.
Yes! My hubby and I are still at it. Exercising consistently. Okay, fine, many weeks we only get out twice a week, but that is two more times than before!

The gym is going fine although I feel like I'm hitting a rut. I think that it has more to do with not being able to go really consistently (like every other day would be ideal), so the next time I go I always wonder...what am I supposed to be doing now?

Now that the weather is oh-so-awesome, I am giving running OUTSIDE a try. It's way different than running on a treadmill (also, way more interesting) and harder on my body, which makes me feel like I get way more out of my workout than what I'm doing at the gym. What also makes it really fun is that - now that I've got my fancy fandangled iPhone - the MapMyRun app records my route and I get a report about how far I've run and how fast. And I am a sucker for STATS!

Something that I could improve on is on the nutrition side. I do feel that I'm including much healthier options, like eating salad way more often (and liking it), but I have done nearly nothing to cut out the crap that I eat also. I'd probably feel way more amazing if I did that.

Nevertheless, exercise and fitness is now permanently a part of my life. Some people say it takes 21 days, others say 66 days, to form a new habit – I've been at it since the end of December 2011, so I'm in the clear. Even my husband will say after a few days of no serious physical activity that he just has to go to the gym. And whenever he says that, I am simultaneously bewildered and proud of him. 

Joaquin Turns Two

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

This past Sunday, my second child turned two. My little boy... like, really? Two, whole years already?! Life really does speed by.

I still remember all the difficulties I had with Joaquin when he was first born. He was one exhausting little guy. A few weeks in, Joaquin was showing signs that he may be colicky. Each night, at the same time, I couldn't put him down. He'd cry – sure, that made sense... he was sleepy. So, I'd rock him and rock him to sleep, and when he'd finally fall asleep and I was sure he was asleep, I'd try to put him in his crib. However, after about ten minutes, he'd be awake again. Crying again. I knew that it wasn't as bad as some parents have it when their child is colicky (screaming for five hours straight), but this was still really exhausting. The adjustment from one child to two was proving to be really difficult and I didn't know what to do. 

Like all modern moms, I scoured the internet, looking for answers. Every website said that there wasn't much you can do to help a baby that has colic. No one knows what causes colic, and so I was stuck. 

Lucky for me, I'm pretty stubborn. 

I kept reading more and more websites, trying figure out what was up with Joaquin and I stumbled upon one website that said that if the mother suspects that her baby is colicky, that she might try and remove dairy from her own diet if she is nursing her baby. This is because her baby may be intolerant to the cow's milk protein that is passing into the breast milk. And while it may take some time to see any results, for Joaquin, it was the next day – and the results were drastic. Instead of a squirmy, uncomfortable baby, he was relaxed and content. 

Joaquin had to live with his protein intolerance for a few weeks while I figured all of this out, and those few weeks made me extremely frustrated, especially since those early days are typically devoid of sleep, which makes EVERYTHING extremely frustrating – even the simplest of tasks at times. 

Whenever I think back to those times and look at Joaquin as he is now, I am amazed that we've come so far. Especially when I thought those hard days would never end. He eats everything. Loves to try everything (even his uncle's pizza topped with chilli oil, which he tried twice). But he doesn't like much processed food (jarred baby food he never accepted), so I can say he was born a food snob. I am so grateful that phase has passed and he is now a happy and healthy boy. At his doctor's appointment this morning, apparently he is quite tall, and skinny. (SKINNY?!) 

Below, Joaquin is pictured with his new toy horse. 
He is giving him a "drink". 

I remember when I pregnant with Joaquin, both my husband and I were hoping that we'd have another girl. We loved Sofia so much and enjoyed our experience being parents of a girl that we figured we would only want another one. I carried Joaquin just like I carried Sofia so everyone was guessing I was having another girl, so a boy never entered my mind. On the day he was born, when he came into the world, and the doctor announced that we had a boy, I instantly yelled, "I LOVE YOU!" What a funny impulse – looks like my heart knew before my head did.

When Nose Picking Goes Too Far

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My son has recently become quite the nose picker. Especially, for some reason, when he's getting sleepy, his fingers find comfort inside his nostrils. I really haven't done a lot to discourage him from picking his nose, aside from the, "Joaquiiiinnnn... don't pick your nooossseeeeee." But no consequences or anything 'cause it's not like it's serious. He's not doing anything dangerous, or something that hurts someone else. All parents know that we've gotta pick our battles. This battle wasn't up there on my list. 

One morning I went to get Joaquin from his crib and to my horror I found his face and hands covered in blood, a bloody pool on his bed and some more blood on some stuffed animals. 

I think that there is nothing more sad...than when your child does something to himself (like, throw up, poops, etc.) in the middle of the night, falls asleep and spends TWELVE hours that way. (When she was Joaquin's age, Sofia threw up in the middle of the night, woke up with vomit matted in her hair and dried on her face). HEARTBREAK.

I showed him himself in the mirror and said, "Look! This is what your nose picking is doing! You got an owie!" For a while, whenever he would go to pick his nose again, I'd scold him and ask, "Hey! You want another owie again?" And his hand would slowly lower as he'd look at me guiltily.

This incident was at the end of January. A couple of months later, he's back to his nose picking ways. At least, when he digs a good one out, he usually hands it to me (charming, I know). It's better than finding it in the couch, or in the carpet, yes?

Exercise really DOES work!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

I am exercising again!
I know that I'm so on again, off again about this, but who isn't? However, this is a commitment for the long haul because unlike the other tries, this has a financial investment.

Yes, my husband and I have a membership to the local gym.

This wasn't necessarily a New Year's resolution. We've been trying to join the gym since October. However, we got the membership through his work (the regular monthly $50 premium is down to $32 when we enrolled through his company), and first, we missed the deadline (15th of every month), and then missed the deadline again (oh, we have to have it in 2 weeks BEFORE in order to START on the 15th of every month?), and then when it all finally got sorted out, it was December. Oh well, better late than never.

So, I actually love fitness, but when my children came along, many things went to the back-burner – exercise being one of the first. How can a parent exercise when most of your day is consumed with child-related activities? So when this offer came up at my hubby's work I was excited to enrol, but truthfully for his sake. I thought, sure, I could use some activity, but the focus was on my spouse.

And since we started going eleven days ago, I've already been seven times. I forgot how much I enjoyed going and I underestimated how much I would benefit from it.

My moods have evened out. I didn't realize how cranky I was getting. My energy has been low ever since the weather has gotten cold outside and the lack of sunshine and outside air has really gotten to me. Exercising has gotten my body moving and I feel so much better.

Related to the above, my stamina has improved a lot. My sessions have steadily improved since I started going. Thank goodness my body has forgiven me and I've been able to bounce back quickly. I realized how out of shape I've gotten when a light job almost winded me the first time I climbed back on the treadmill and tried to run for twenty minutes. I was out in seven. Just five sessions later, I can run for a half hour at a 4.6 mile per hour pace. I'm pretty pleased about this.

Ready for a weird result? I procrastinate less. I find that since I started exercising again, I actually feel more motivated and just feel more focused, as well as less frustrated when faced with tedious tasks at home or at work. This, I find as an unexpected side benefit.

And when we decided to fit exercise into our day, I honestly didn't even know where the time would come from, how watching the kids would work and all of that, but I decided to make the decision and figure it out later. Amazing to find all these little pockets of time that reveal themselves when you make something a priority.

Just in a short week and half I'm already experiencing a massive improvement in the way I move through my day, the way my body feels, and even in my headspace. A friend on Facebook shared that her New Year's Resolution was to take care of herself more, and that totally resonated with me, and so far I've found that almost-daily exercise is certainly the self-care that I've been missing for a while.

Christmas at My House

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Write about Christmas now? Sure, it might be seven days into the new year, however, every mother of two small children knows that time to write a blog post doesn't always come when you want it to!

Christmas, this year, was unusual for our family. Every year, since I was ONE, we've gone down to spend Christmas with my Uncle and Aunt and cousins in Batavia, New York. I think that we only missed one or two because of trips to the Philippines. But, other than that, it has been EVERY SINGLE YEAR. And it has been awesome. My Aunt's favourite holiday is Christmas and she sure does it up. They've got the real tree. Snowmen and Santas everywhere. We get spoiled rotten with presents and stockings that are so full, my Aunt has to put stockings into bags to catch all the overflow! And Christmas dinner is a full banquet table. It's wonderful!

When my husband and I got married, Christmases got a little more busy, but it was even more awesome. Where my Aunt and Uncle celebrate Christmas in good North American fashion: on Christmas morning, my Chilean in-laws celebrated it on Christmas Eve. We didn't even have to compromise! Although it meant that we had to dash from Oshawa, Ontario to Batavia, New York at 11 pm, and once arrived at 4 am and had to throw rocks at the window in order to get someone to let us in, all the craziness was totally worth it.

When my first born came along 4 years ago, we continued to do this. I'd get lots of frowns and concerns my way when the subject of Christmas came up with our parents. "What if the weather is bad?" "Are your tires in good condition?" "Aren't you going to be tired?" I chalk it up to being young and stupid. I didn't care. I loved the running around and being tired was part of the exhilaration!

Now, when my second came along, being tired was now actually getting in the way of enjoying myself. And also, my husband's scheduling at work was increasingly becoming an issue. He almost missed celebrating Christmas on Christmas Day with his own kids last year. He was very upset. He ended up coming down for the day, and then driving back home after Christmas dinner.

We had to make the decision that we should start to have Christmases here at home. After all, since my own sister got married, I hadn't had Christmas with her at all. Because of her husband's work, he always has to be home for Christmas. Now, my other sister got married this past fall, and her husband's schedule also prevents them from traveling down. It was time. Our own family is getting larger and it was becoming increasingly difficult to move that many bodies down to our usual Christmas traditions.

So, I was excited, but sad. So excited to try my hand at preparing stockings for the family. Deciding the menu for dinner. Hosting the Christmas spirit in my own home. I was sad though, that I would breaking 30 years of traditions that our families had built up over the years.

Fortunately, at the last minute, my American family, they decided to come up for Christmas dinner! We didn't have to be without them. I was SO happy.

How was it? Having Christmas at my own house? It was really, really nice. Less busy? NO! It was still super busy, but totally in a different way. We didn't have drive everywhere, take unwrapped presents over the border in the case of inspection, and then wrap 15 gifts in 15 minutes and throw them under the tree. But I was cooking from 9 am to have dinner at 7 pm. And it was awesome.

I would say though that it also has to happen because it's the next generation's turn. My aunt, as much as she'd like to continue to have us make our Christmas lists (my last Christmas list was at the age of 31 – no kidding), and buy us all too many presents, and stuff us silly with food, I think that it's now my turn to take my place to bless others in my family in the same generous fashion. The expression may be different, but I hope to be as generous as she has been to us all these years.