Tag Archives: joggity

Eighty-Six — A List

Oh I started a post today. I started one yesterday too. But. In honour of my friend Els who came up with a great writing prompt idea, here is a list of ten moments from today.

1. Hearing the kids awake at six AM (possibly earlier but I had earplugs in) and talking to each other in normal tones of voice in their bedroom while I did stretches on the carpet beside my bed. They were awake so early because the second best thing to Christmas? Is when your dad is putting a shortcut to the new Minecraft game on the shared computer and as soon as he goes to work you can play it. Squee.

2. Sitting on the carpet at kindergarten, Eli’s head on my knee, while I read “Lost and Found” by Oliver Jeffers to a few kids as part of literacy week at the school. When the boy and the penguin hug at the end, well, aww.

3. The absolute bright blue of the sky with red, yellow, and orange trees against it as I walked home.

4. Buying 6 kilos of coffee at Costco and having the checkout woman only say “Mmmm, smells good,” as she rang up my purchase.

5. Going to Burnaby Lake park to run as my reward for going to Costco.

6. I didn’t see a bear, despite signs saying there had been bear sightings. I did see a huge pile of poop that could only have belonged to a wild animal.

7. Moving from the shady parts of the trail to the sunny, having no idea where I was or where I was going. Just following the path.

8. Doing my post-run stretches on the top level of the viewing tower overlooking Burnaby Lake, the occasional frog croak the only sound. Looking up at what at home would be the ceiling, but today was the sky, all blue with just a few fluffy white clouds.

9. Eli trying to rub my feet by scratching at them with his fingers. “Is this the spot? Is this it?”

10. Accompanying them as the boys leaped, galloped, skipped the two blocks to Arlo’s karate class. Walking is so dull. Anyone can do it.

Eighty — Show Your Work

With all this free time staring me in the face, I have to be ever diligent and defend against Time Waste. I could drop the kids at school, come home and just sit clicking links on the ol’ Internet for six hours. But I must instead seize every moment of each day, because who knows when another illness will befall us and I’ll lose my time again.

See, I am already calling it MY TIME. With all MY TIME I came up with a great (horrible) statement this morning: It’s easy to be happy as a stay-at-home parent. Just keep the kids out of the house. I get so much done. I am so relaxed. I am happy to see them at the end of the day. And at the beginning of the day.

Why did I have children if I didn’t want to, you know, HAVE children? Well, I did spend five solid years with them. You’d need a break too, imaginary childless critic who is wondering about my motives.

I am also facing a possible return to work in the next *handwave* months, so in theory this lovely time off is but a vacation from my old life, not a real new life and as such I intend to enjoy it, not settle into it and have it become more drudgery and routine. Excitement! Verve! That is what I am talking about.

This morning I was running along a trail at Burnaby Lake Regional Park. My feet fell on the cushioned dirt path, sometimes on slugs, sometimes not on slugs. I had been listening to music but then I listened to the park instead; it’s full of birds and frogs and apparently bears though I did not see any, and that was more pleasant.

As I put one foot in front of the other over and over again for half an hour, I thought about how with kids we don’t really see the work that goes into their growth and development. It starts when they begin to exist without our knowledge and carries on pretty much forever? Babies go crazy and make no sense and then figure out how to talk and in retrospect we get it — baby goes crazy? Baby is making a developmental leap — but it’s still hard to see ahead of time.

It still surprises me when my kids make a leap or suddenly start doing something they haven’t done before. When I see them over here and they used to be over there it feels like they sprouted wings and flew to this new place. But really, the steps were all there. They built the steps and put them in place and followed them. Who knows how long ago that was, how long they’ve been working toward this goal in their own, precious, weird way. It only looks like magic.

From inside me, someone who is trying to figure out what to do with her life and accomplish much with what she’s been given, it feels more like I built the steps and put them in place and am slowly trudging along and holy cow it totally did NOT look this far when I started. How am I not there* yet? And yet, when I do arrive, perhaps to someone else it will look like I just sprouted wings and flew.

* the meditation book would say there is no there and you are here and I acknowledge this but I mean more in a goal-achieving sort of sense, not a self-achieving sense. I have achieved self.**

** or have I? ***

*** yes. For the most part.

Seventy-Nine — Sweet Relief

Today was a gift.

We all woke up happy and mostly healthy. It was sunny, but not blisteringly hot, and there was a bit of that edgy September morning chill. I made Arlo oatmeal and Eli drank a glass of milk and I had coffee and wrote in my journal out on the porch. I had remembered to move the chair cushion last night so it wouldn’t get wet from the sprinkler that goes off every morning at four o’clock. It’s taken me all summer to remember to do that.

“Can you play Monopoly?” Eli asked me while I was packing lunches.
“I’m packing your lunch,” I replied.
“Am I going to SCHOOL TODAY?” he asked.
“ALL DAY! FINALLY!” he said.


Also that’s as many words as he’s uttered at one time since last Sunday.

At 8:45 we got backpacks on and walked to school. My tank top was a bit optimistic, a bit more yesterday’s weather but it was a refreshing walk. We were caught up to by the neighbour kid and his mom and we walked companionably to school, the mom and I talking about resort vacations and the kids talking about whatever they talk about. Minecraft, poop, Lego.

The bell rang and Arlo went off to his classroom. I walked Eli to the kindergarten door and gave him a hug. “Bye,” he said. Parents were hanging around the door, peeking in the window, but I resisted the urge and walked away. Back down the hill, alone, carrying nothing but my keys.

It was 9:05 and I had five blessed solitary hours stretched ahead of me like an empty road. This was it, the moment I’d been waiting for for five years. Five years of spending all day every day with two small children and here we are, down to none. Not even a cat to bug me. (sniff)

I went for a run. I came home. I showered and stretched and folded some clothes and put them away. I made myself a smoothie out of a banana, some blueberries, some pineapple coconut water and the remains of my morning coffee. It tasted vaguely like a fruit mocha and was not as horrible as it might sound. I read things on the Internet. I tweeted. I went to Safeway and the liquor store and the vegetable market. I had lunch and read some more things on the Internet. I washed dishes and free-wrote for ten minutes and ate black licorice and did a load of laundry.

I walked in a most leisurely fashion back to the school and at 2:00 the door opened and Eli came out. He pulled his spare underwear out of his backpack, put it on his head and ran around the kindergarten playground with a few other kids. Then we hung out in the big playground for a while, because the big kids didn’t get out of school until 3:00. He found a cool caterpillar and played with two boys from his class.

After the bell, and Arlo joined us, we stayed at the school and played until nearly five o’clock. The weather returned from warm to September chill and I had trouble finding sunny spots to stand in. Two parent friends and I stood around and chatted while the kids played the kind of game you store in your head as a rebuttal for when people say kids don’t know how to play any more. Something about leaves as money and other leaves as taxes. There was robbery and tax evasion and restitution paid.

Reluctantly, we came home, had ice cream, then dinner, then more ice cream and now I’m having beer, and I want to say Thank You Friday, for being the day I spent this whole week wishing I could have.

Seventy-Five — Summer Runnin’

When I go out for runs, I take a music player but I have not, traditionally, been able to listen to music while I run. For one, I speed up when the music is fast and I am just not a good enough runner to have that happen. My pacing goes all wonky and I collapse by the side of the road, waving my arms weakly and moaning. How embarrassing.

For two, with music on I can’t hear what’s coming up behind me and I’m self-conscious about saying ‘hi’ to people and dogs if I can’t hear my own voice. HI! HI! HELLO! I AM RUNNING AND LISTENING TO THE BEASTIE BOYS! NO I AM NOT DYING, I JUST GET REALLY RED FACED WHEN I EXERCISE!

Usually I listen to music to warm up while I walk and then just listen to the sound of my own breathing while I actually run. Or I listen to podcasts or the CBC because those don’t make me speed up or slow down.

Yesterday I made up this awesome little song and sang it to myself for some of my thirty minute workout in the very hot afternoon sun, was that wise, no it was not, however I felt better after.

(Tune of: Summer Lovin’ from Grease)

Summer running / saw me some dogs
summer running / stepped on some wasps
summer running / makes me perspire
summer running / I might expire!
summer runs / are better than none
bu-ut oh how I prefer the rain
(wella wella wella huh!)

That’s it, because the “tell me more” part doesn’t work and I can’t sing a duet with myself. While running. In the heat.

Today’s much cooler temperatures and pissing rain signal not only the beginning of the school year but the beginning of the best time to run (until the colds and flu set in): FALL. Oh Fall, or Autumn if you prefer. Misty and moisty, dark and gloomy, the best time for those running endorphins to kick in because then? You really need them. In August, who needs them? In July, who needs them? Not me. In November? * I need them.

* not that I am eager for November. I am not.

Nineteen — A School You Can Walk To (And Back From)

We spent a lot of time at our neighbourhood elementary school today. It’s so good that we live walking distance away, because first thing this morning, someone had to walk Arlo to school (and then come back.) An hour later I had to walk up to accompany Eli to Welcome to Kindergarten, (then back.) Later I walked up to pick up Arlo from school (aaaand then back.) Two hours later, we returned to the school for the Spring Carnival, an occasion which only comes around every eight (at least, based on what I know from chatting with various people) years, like cicada breeding. It is just as noisy, if not noisier than cicada breeding. And then. After standing around in lineups for games and bouncy castles and Sno Cones for two hours, we had to..you guessed it…walk back.

But the walking back is the best part. It is, after all, downhill.

No, the best part is when you win a cake in the Cake Walk, finally, after paying for three kids to do the Cake Walk and losing, but then you win because it’s the end of the night and yesterday the Carnival Committee panicked and asked for more cakes because they didn’t think they had enough, then ended up with way too many cakes and not enough walkers, so five out of twelve cake walkers got a cake. This might be the secret to cake walks. But don’t quote me.

No, actually, the best part is when your creepy neighbour who also has a kid at the school, gets dunked in the dunk tank, which dunking you don’t see because you’re standing in endless game lineups with your child, but two separate people tell you about it because they know you will care.

No, the best part is the cake because it’s cake.

No! The best part is when you get home, realize you logged fifteen kilometres of walking today (plus a 30 minute run after lunch because you were feeling under-exercised somehow?), and sit down to have a nice beer. That is the best part.

Fourteen — Run Club

Back in May I did my first ever race, a 5K fun run. It was fun! It was also on a Saturday morning at 8:30, so the kids and SA dropped me off at the start and then played for a while in the park and then met me at the finish line. Arlo made me a sign that said “YOU CAN DO THIS!” on one side and “RUN! RUN! RUN! GO! GO! GO!” on the other. When I finished the race (ten minutes faster than I predicted! toot toot! [that’s my horn]) Arlo saw some other kids who had just run the race with their parents.

“Hey, so kids can run?” he said.
“Yup,” I said.
“Next year I’M running this race,” he said firmly.

I forgot about it until yesterday when he asked if I was going for a run this weekend.
“Tomorrow,” I said, “maybe..”
“Can I come with you?” he asked.

My first thought was no, because running is my solitary activity and with him I won’t be able to get in a good workout, and many other excuses. My second, less selfish thought was hell yes. I have been wanting to spend more one-on-one time with him since, let’s see, Eli was born five years ago? Promises to go for a coffee date always get put off, and if we do go, then he wants me to buy him things because Eli always gets muffins while Arlo is at school, and then I end up resenting the time instead of enjoying it. And one-on-one time with your resentful mother who won’t buy you another muffin because you hated your first muffin is not what they call Quality.

What a better idea: one morning a week we can go outside where there are no muffins and walk/run/trudge/train.

This morning after breakfast we put on our shorts and t-shirts and running shoes. We jogged along slowly until he couldn’t any more, which was two minutes, so we ran two minutes and walked three and did that six times. Along the way we talked about running and muscles and other stuff and nothing at all. It was a most peaceful forty-five minutes. I felt just as good as I do after a solo run.

I like liking my kid. It feels good, and he is more relaxed and happy too when we spend time together. It’s like when I used to put my naked baby on my bare chest and our heartbeats would synchronize.

I knew there was a reason I wanted that one-on-one time.

Which reminds me to recommend: this post at the Rumpus. Funny and touching and true and relevant. What more could you want?

Good Days Come to Those Who Wait

It all came together today. You know how it does, when it’s Friday, and sunny and everyone in the house is healthy and going to school and you get two-point-five hours to yourself and even though you have two-point-five days’ worth of things you would like to do, you whittle it down and prioritize (sidenote: whenever I say or write ‘prioritize’ my mind also says ‘priorize’ because I used to work with someone who said that) and everything is just fine. Just fine.

First we took Arlo to school and he was between first and second bell (I think there’s a second bell…I’ve never heard it, but how else do you know if you’re late?) and then I took Eli to preschool and it was pyjama day so all the children were more adorable than usual.

OK, there has been one off-note to the day. I’m wearing this very confusing shirt. I rescued it from the discount bin at Superstore the other day. It’s comfortable and drapes well, is a good colour, 3/4 length sleeves. Big open neck. Just the kind of shirt I need and enjoy. But at the hem, there’s a seam that makes a sort of pocket but just on the right side of the shirt. And I’m wearing it and enjoying it, and then I see the pocket and it’s weird. Did the sewing machine make a mistake? Or am I supposed to look blousy? It kind of looks like a tumour pocket. Forgive me. It does. Here’s a picture:

Here. Another:

I’m not going to stop wearing it–from most angles I think it’s quite attractive–and I can’t take it back because it was final sale and $5, but it’s weird, right? Do any of you fashion-forward types know what I’m supposed to do with the tumour pocket? Did I miss a trend last season?

After preschool drop-off, I got groceries and chatted with the check-out lady about how nice it is here compared to her home country where it’s 33C and very humid. There was much singing along in the grocery aisles as the muzak played the best mix of Debbie Gibson/Lionel Ritchie/Chicago and of course Kokomo. What a terrible song! I haven’t heard it, like really HEARD it, in years, and it’s just awful.

Liquor store next, where the music mix was much more modern. Beer was acquired.

My final stop during preschool time was the library. My intention was to return my three books and then sit in a sunny corner of the study area and revise a short story I’m working on. I can’t revise unless I have a paper copy and pen and I don’t have a functioning printer so I

make a lot of excuses? Yes. And also

had to ask SA to print it for me, bring it home, sit down and read it, etc.

First I walked into the library and was accosted by the New Release shelves. Can anyone resist the New Release shelves? Librarians, how often do you have to restock them, because I almost always take at least one book right as soon as I walk in the door. And I feel bad because it leaves a hole on the shelf, which irritates my sense of symmetry but on the other hand, it’s a library and it’s the books’ jobs to appeal to me and then come home with me, right?

I got a novel called “Tell The Wolves I’m Home” by Carol Rifka Brunt. And “My Leaky Body: Tales from the Gurney” by Julie Devaney. A copy of Best American Short Stories 2009 because those collections are like boxes of delicious chocolates. And a book on running because yesterday I signed up to run a 5K fun run in May and I have no idea how to actually train for a real run with free t-shirts and everything.

Oh, right, I wasn’t going to take out any books today because I still have two from the other library, plus my book club book, plus three I got for Christmas and haven’t started plus two I bought before Christmas. Ha! HA HA!

I am weak in the presence of paper with words on it.

Finally got sat down in a sunny corner of the library, pulled out my short story and them rummaged unsuccessfully through my purse for a pen. A while ago I stocked my purse with pens the way they stock rivers with fish, but I guess I’ve been fishing too much and not restocking because I had NO PENS AT ALL WHAT?

Fine, I read over the story, which is good to a point and then bad at the end. I end stories the way I leave parties: abruptly and by sneaking out the door. Analysis forthcoming.

Picked up Eli and told him I’d bought lemons so he could make lemonade. He squeezed them carefully and mixed the juice with water and sugar and then took the seeds outside to plant in our dirt area* and hope for lemon trees to grow.

*not a garden, much as we all might wish for it to be so.

Birds are chirping and the sky is blue. A happy weekend to all of you.

My Parenting Career as a Track and Field Meet

The first three months were the marathon. People threw water and food at me and I tried to consume it while still moving and not throwing up. I didn’t sleep, or I slept the sleep of the perpetually interrupted; one hand on the diapers, the other draped artfully over my giant boobs.

The first baby’s first year was a series of 5K runs; seemingly endless but at the end of the year, as I got more proficient, they seemed suddenly so short. The more I did, the better I got. By the end of the year, I was even smiling as I ran.

Toddler life was the shotput. Haul off and try this technique. That one doesn’t work. Does this one work?

Toddler life plus pregnancy was whatever event I come in tenth at.

New baby plus toddler = triathalon. All the marathoning, plus I’m on a bike now? And also swimming? I’m changing my clothes a lot. Also I was wet and sweating and exhausted all the time, and changing my mind every three kilometres/minutes about whether it was the best or worst idea to have children.

Then I was doing those 5K runs again, but with a 9 month old bouncing against my chest. There was also some javelin tossing to get my preschooler to come back from the side of the road because I couldn’t be there to grab him because the baby was eating dog poop off the grass. No, not really.

Since both children became verbal and not-idiotic w/r/t eating poop off the grass, I stopped doing as much running after/for them so I thought the track meet was over but actually I am still tired a lot of the time and I realized two things: 1. mental exhaustion can be just as bad as physical. That’s the kind that comes from talking all day and explaining things and trying to disallow behavior while still allowing feelings except you might also have some feelings NOT THAT ANYONE CARES and also the thing with two children at different ages is if a 4.5 year old says “I’m going to smash your face into the cement,” you DON’T react because he’s just pretending to be a tough guy, but if the 6 year old says it you have to pay attention and take his brother’s face out of his hands. Re: the cement, not OK.

So 2. school aged children are the hurdles event. You’re concentrating on getting around the track and then another hurdle appears in front of you and you have to use some crazy random thigh muscles/psychological technique to get over the stupid thing and then you hurt for a week because who uses that muscle? Nobody who isn’t twenty years old! Or, if you don’t clear the hurdle, you fall on your face and cry. Get back up. And keep running, around that dusty track, leaping when warranted, enjoying that you are in the best shape of your life.*

* Or possibly just a few years from a full physical breakdown. Ha ha ha! Probably not.

Oooh, I Hear Laughter In the Rain

I have been jogging — I was calling it running, but Trombone, age 6, was kind enough to point out that I don’t actually RUN — on the regular for almost two months now. Usually I go on the mornings that Fresco is at preschool. I do a thirty minute tour of the neighbourhood, work up a good sweat and come home. This time has become a very important part of my mental health maintenance and though I may or may not ever get past 5 kilometres or thirty-some minutes, being able to go up and down hills without expiring is something I am proud of.

There are a lot of hills in this neighbourhood. Sometimes I think I would like to live somewhere flat, just to see how far I could go on flat terrain but then I remember my horrifying ‘flat terrain in rural Ontario with deer flies chasing me” experience from the summertime and I would gladly take hills over bugs that like to eat your sweat. Any day of the week. I choose hills. HILLS, I SAY!

Speaking of sweat, this week I did my first jog of the season in the pouring rain. Now, some people will tell you that sweating/heating your body in the rain will make you sick but a) I was already half-sick, have been for weeks now and b) I am not one of those people who believes in the sweat / cold voodoo. Even if today I am sicker than I was at the beginning of the week. Shut up. It’s my sinuses, which flare up like fireworks every year at this time. (pew! pew! crackacrackacracka! pew!)

Anyway, I am here to recommend jogging in the rain over jogging in the stupid, hot, sweat-inducing sunshine. Suck it sunshine. We don’t even WANT you back. *sob*.

Why #1: You know when you pass other people on the street, many of whom are also jogging, some of them RUNNING even, and you have to do that whole “do I say hello / is there a jogger wave / I can’t breathe so I can’t really smile right now / but it’s rude to just look away / oh he’s looking away / fine then, asshole, look away / what am I some kind of LESSER jogger? I don’t warrant even a smile? / fine, screw you.” thing?

I hate that.

In the rain, there are 90% fewer people out on the street to do that thing with. And, this week when my music player ran out of battery power, I could carry on a very nice conversation with myself, as I jogged, in the rain, without anyone calling the nice policepeople on me. In the sunshine, the park would have been full of go-getter running types who would have shamed me into carrying on my internal conversation, well, internally.

It’s better out loud because then I can pace myself and not expire on hills. And because also I like the sound of my own voice, see also: blogging about it.

Why #2: You may or may not BE totally hard core, but you certainly feel that way with rain dripping off your nostrils.

Why #3: You’re going to shower anyway, right? Well if you’re me you are. The wetter the better. (TM)?

Why #4: In the sunshine, there are hazards. Once, I got stung by a wasp on my foot while I was jogging. Once, I was blinded by the sun and nearly ran into a house. Those things have never happened to me in the rain.

Why #5: Thirsty? Just lick a tree. I have done it. Can’t do that in the middle of summer. Without tearing your tongue off and looking like a person who has eaten too much glue.

Is it raining? Do you have shoes? Go out in it! Lovely.*

* unless you are in hurricane country, in which case, sit on your couch and enjoy a beverage and some chips.