Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Parentism and petunias

I think I jinxed K with my Happy Father's Weekend post. His email struck me as funny and prompted me to try a dad-mocking tone (isn't that what successful mom-blogger's do?).
It's sad how common it is for moms to mock dads. Last night at soccer one of the kids arrived woefully underdressed for the cool, misty evening. She was accompanied by her father and I caught myself thinking, "Dressed by dad." I didn't say it out loud, but a minute later my friend did. I've ranted about men who don't hold onto their toddlers in parking lots. I've complained about dads who don't supervise their kids on the play structure.
It's sexist.
There are more-attentive parents and less-attentive parents of both genders, and we all have more- and less-attentive moments. The world is full of wonderful fathers, and I am blessed to raise my child with one of them.
As for Father's Weekend, both the Father's Friday Fire and Father's Saturday Golf were cancelled, and K spent lots of time with our son. On Saturday afternoon they shovelled mulch and even planted the annuals I'd bought for my hanging basket, while I cleaned up our basement storage room. Win-win! I missed being with them but my heart smiled when I caught a glimpse of them working on the basket together. Now I am happily reminded of them both whenever I glance up at this:

Gym test

I did another full-body workout today. This one brought to me by my cousin-in-law M, whose own inspiring post quoting my words got me out the door. This morning I did not want to go to the gym. At all.
I haven't been sleeping well. Little J hasn't been sleeping well. I think there must be a full moon. And we're closing in on the longest day of the year. I am grateful that I don't live any farther north -- here in the-land-of-the-10-p.m.-sun is far enough.
I woke up feeling like hell and all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed and nap as soon as possible.
However, I remembered these words, quoted by M: "I went into the gym feeling exhausted and I left feeling great." Apparently I wrote these words myself, but I wouldn't remember or believe it if it weren't for M's post. (Thanks!) So this morning, when all I wanted to do was nap, I dragged my ass to the gym. I picked up my sports bra, then my regular bra, couldn't decide. I put on my jeans, and then, reluctantly, stepped out of them and into my Lulu's. In the car, I drove past the gym, but then pulled a U-turn and parked right in front.
I resolved to test the gym. If the gym could make me feel better today, then it should work any day.
I sweated. I increased my cardio by ten minutes (so I could watch the HDTV reveal!). I did my stregth-training as efficiently as possible. I marvelled at the guy doing insane sprints, the guy bench-pressing 140 lbs., and the elderly ladies.
And then I stepped out into the cool fresh misty air outside and breathed. Nothing like a workout to make me appreciate a cool day in June!
Do I feel great? No, not quite.
But I do feel a million times better than I did this morning.
And now that I've had my tea and some blueberries and yogurt, I even feel good!
So, yes, gym, you passed the test!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Growing, growing, growing

No, this is not about my garden, although that is growing too and actually deserves a post with pictures -- as soon as I can get the latest plants into the ground and weed AGAIN and so on... Or just learn to love its imperfection.

After all, I adore my little boy and he is obviously a work in progress -- aren't we all! He is the one who is growing, growing, growing. He, however, is perfect at every stage. It's miraculous and wonderful that babies are pure perfection when they are born, and then they get better and better! I suppose at some stage they become teenagers, and rumour has it that teens are less than perfect, but I'm pretty sure that my little one will continue to glow with pure love in my eyes forever.

If we could all love ourselves with the pure love that parents feel for their children, what might happen?

All of which makes me re-think perfection. I say and feel that my son is perfect even though, by most definitions, he is not. How often have I said that, "we are all imperfect"? I truly believe that, and I mean it in a positive, accepting way. Somehow, my child, despite the behaviours I try to correct (please stop whining, wash your hands, and PLEASE don't head-butt me again!), remains perfect in my eyes. I suppose that is love. It is also the recognition that we are perfect just as we are, despite all of our "imperfections". I'm suffering from a linguistic shortcoming here. I falter trying to find a synonym for perfect that embraces our inherent imperfection... We are all imperfect but we are all...Whole? Radiant? Good enough? Perfect?! ...I need some help expressing this concept!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Happy Father's Weekend

Just received the following email from my dear husband ("DH"), with the catchy subject-line "FFF":
"HI Angel, just a heads up that Frank may have a Fathers Day Friday Fire, although just like golf tomorrow, the chances are slim that it will happen as it may rain tonight. I will be bringing home 2 frozen steaks tonight maybe for supper tomorrow."
It's official. Father's Day has been repealed and replaced with Father's Weekend, so as to accommodate Father's Friday Fire and Father's Saturday Golf. These are not father-son activities. The fire gets underway immediately after bedtime, in that narrow window between the initial tuck-in and the first request for another story/drink/hug/Kleenex/monster removal. At three years of age, our dear son is not yet welcome on the golf course, a fact which I will attempt to explain, repeatedly, throughout DH's 6 hour round on Saturday. The celebration of DH's own father will take place on Sunday, the day formerly known as Father's Day. My dad lives far away and gets a phone call, which is a shame because he would enjoy the FFF and FSG if he were here and could talk his way in. Mothers need not apply.

But hey, I'm looking forward to those frozen steaks.  

Happy Father's Weekend

p.s. For the record DH is an awesome dad and deserves all the R&R he can grab. 

Dear Fitness Diary

Went to the gym this morning. All novelty has worn off. Thinking about myself becoming stronger is my sole motivation. Which is not bad motivation.
Today I'm grateful for the person who discovered that strength-training twice a week is almost as effective as three times a week. I read that in Shape magazine almost twenty years ago. If that study has been disproven, I don't think I want to know about it.
They play the worst music at the gym. I'm thinking about audio books to make the time pass. Suggestions?
Now to clean my house. At least I get to pick my own music. :-)

Thursday, June 14, 2012


No, it's not a recipe, although it sounds yummy.
I stopped paying attention to what I ate and I gained weight. F*#%. I'm still a pound less than when I started to watch my diet about six weeks ago, but practically speaking that is zero progress. My too-tight summer clothes are still too-tight, and now it is summer.
Time to get serious. Back to myfitnesspal.com. This super-handy little app helped me lose about 4 pounds in a month without deprivation, so hopefully it can help me do it again, but better! Bring on the deprivation! ;-)
I am still working out at the gym. The post-workout high is never as good as the first time, but yes, it does feel good. Next step: outdoor workouts.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My sentiments exactly.

J says a lot of awesome things. Usually I'm so busy enjoying the moment that I forget to write them down. This one isn't "awesome" (which is probably why I remember it) but it made me laugh.

"There's something wrong with the house!"
"What's that?"
"The freezer is coming out of the floor!"

That would be the air-conditioning.

"It's happening all over the house!!!"

Friday, June 8, 2012


This morning J commented that heaven is in the clouds. "Hmm," I replied.
"I don't see Jesus in the clouds," he said.
I explained that heaven is actually farther than the clouds [where, I have no idea], and no, we can't see Jesus. I added that Jesus is with us whenever two or more are gathered in his name, although we can't see him.
I asked J if we should invite Jesus to join us.
"Yes," he said. "Hi Jesus."
I suggested that we tell Jesus what we are thankful for.
J thought briefly and said, "Thank you for my friend..." and named one of his best friends.
After we talked about gratitude some more, I told J that he could ask Jesus for help with something if he wanted. J said, "Jesus, will you help me make my cereal by myself?" I was surprised, and grateful to know that he wants to do this, because we can definitely make it happen.

I didn't grow up with much religion, but I married a spiritual man. He is too wise to ever push me, but he has inspired me.

Studies show that, on average, religious people are happier than others. There are a multitude of possible explanations, of course. I suspect that gratitude has a little bit to do with it. When I began to pray (when you really need help, you might be surprised by what you're willing to try!) I immediately found that I couldn't ask for help without first expressing gratitude. Sometimes it's tempting to jump straight into the requests, but my conscience reminds me to pause and say thank you. I suspect that, on average, religious people may be prompted to recognize their gratitude more frequently than others.

Of course, gratitude does not require religion whatsoever!

This week NorCal Katie wrote a post about a great new email service called grateful160.com. The beauty of this service is that it prompts us to recognize gratitude at various times and places (assuming mobile email) throughout each day. The website records each user's expressions of gratitude in a private journal. I have been using it all week and loving it. For example, the service emailed me while I walked past a long hedge of blooming lilacs, prompting me to express gratitude for one of my favourite scents. I don't need a service to tell me that I love lilacs, but it will be nice to have a reminder on a dark, cold day, particularly compiled with all of the many other things and people for whom I am grateful. Thanks for the tip Katie. I am paying it forward!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Brown paper packages tied up with strings

I decided to write a post about my favourite things. Not people, music, or places -- but things. Products, to be specific. These are the things that consistently make me glad I bought them. No, I'm not being paid to mention these (ha!). I just sincerely recommend them. I'm curious to know about your favourite products too!

Here are a few of my favourite things products, in no particular order:
  • Estee Lauder skin care. Expensive but worth it. When I quit my job I tried to find more affordable substitutes, which turned out to be a waste of money. Estee Lauder products work. When I use them, I look better. I am particularly devoted to Advanced Night Repair; Resilience Lift (despite the strong scent); Idealist Pore Minimizing Skin Refinisher; and Time Zone eye cream. 
  • Organic strawberries. Is there anything more pleasantly fragrant, delicious, and healthy than a fresh strawberry?  
  • Bumble & bumble Tonic. Hair-detangler and mood-enhancer. Good morning in a bottle. 
  • Neutorgena Wave. This gadget claims to reveal, "smoother skin in just one use." It's true.
  • Neutrogena Night Calming Makeup Removing Cleansing Towelettes. For evenings when I'm too lazy to wash my face. Not at all irritating. When my pre-schooler came home covered in Spiderman face paint (including his eye-lids) these wipes took it all off in a flash without a single complaint. 
  • Rembrandt toothpaste, because it makes dental cleanings quicker.
  • Aveeno fragrance-free Skin Relief Moisturizing Lotion. I discovered this when I was pregnant and scented products made me nauseous. I love the fact that it has no scent at all. 
  • On the other hand, I love Aveeno White Peach & Ginger Uplifting Body Wash, because the scent is just so uplifting! Squirt some on a loofah, rub it all over, and you will glow inside and out. 
  • Method Lil' Bowl Blu Eucalyptus Mint toilet bowl cleanser. Makes an unpleasant task more pleasant. 
  • Method Green Tea & Aloe foaming hand wash. Fun foam. Chartreuse colour. A mild, fresh scent.
  • L'Oreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes Mascara, because it rinses off completely with water, without staining my skin. Absolutely no raccoon eyes. Note: this product is not recommended for swimming, tear-jerker movies, or extremely bad days. 
  • The PVR. 
What are your favourites?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I feel good!

This post is a few days late, but I have to write it, if only for the motivation.
On Friday I went back to the gym. I did twenty minutes on the Ark (Arc?) --  sort of an elliptical version of a Stairmaster. Then I did 3 sets of 10 reps on 10 weight machines. And 50 pushups [Ed.: Oops! In my dreams.] sit-ups. I went into the gym feeling exhausted and I left feeling great. :-)
I haven't met my goal of 30 minutes of cardio ("which could be a brisk walk") at least five days a week, but I haven't been totally inactive either. 
Does walking to and from and all around a carnival count? How about the heart-racing thrill and elation of a mini roller coaster? I'm pretty sure that hot mini donuts are the secret to eternal youth, anyway. 
Best of all(?), I weighed myself yesterday morning and found that I have lost 3.8 pounds in a month. I know it's not earth-shattering, but I did it without feeling faint (memories of the Atkins diet) or even particularly deprived. 
It's been another indulgent weekend but I'm motivated to get back on track tomorrow. Family gatherings seem to be my biggest challenge. Today my sister-in-law served home-made caramel rolls at brunch. Have you ever eaten a grilled smokie at the same time as a fresh-baked caramel roll? Let me tell you, warm pork sausage with a dab of fresh, hot caramel is an unbelievably good combination. Particularly on a deck in the sun with a nice glass of wine. Yes, this family does brunch right. I later learned that the sauce on the caramel rolls consists of equal parts butter, sugar, and ice cream(!), cooked to gooey perfection. 
So, yes, I have to go back to the gym tomorrow. I can't say that I'm looking forward to it either...there's so much else I have to do! However, I'm trying to remember how good I felt after working out on Friday, and I want to lose more weight (and eat more caramel rolls). I can't stop now!