Random, Travel

Mysteries of Baku – Volume 1

It’s windy here.

I’m not talking easy-breezy. I’m talking old-man-hold-on-to-the-building windy. Unpleasant, hurt your ears windy.

Easy breezy

If I’d done my research before coming, I’d have known that Baku is also known as the “City of Wind”.

Anyway.

One of the first things I noticed here was the abundance of little old ladies, sweeping. Sweep, sweep, sweep. With no real sense of purpose. Just sweep, sweep, sweep.

Most peculiar, is that they seem to sweep on the windiest of days. It appears really they are just swirling stuff around. The other day, when it was so windy that I literally had to lean into the gale to walk, they were everywhere.

The last 2 days have been calm. The little old ladies with their brooms? Nowhere to be found.

Mystery.

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Day-to-day life, Random

The Squad asked, and I answered

This week, on a very special episode of the Blog Squad…

Just kidding!

We thought we’d change it up a little. If you’ve been reading these past few weeks, you’ll know that we’ve been tackling the same topics. This week we are doing a round robin of questions for each other, challenging ourselves to get outside the box a little.

So, Caitlin asked me:

When did you first start to think of yourself as an athlete, and why?

I read this question a few days ago and have had ample time to write and think of the answer. And yet it took me a long time to organize these thoughts into a somewhat cohesive post.

The truth is, I really don’t know. In fact, I don’t even know that I do!

I’m not that introspective and have spent little to no time self-identifying as anything, really. It’s not something I have considered. I’m more someone who is governed by tangibles and measurable objectives, and this felt like something that I couldn’t quite define. And honestly, no one has ever asked me this question.

If I were to identify as anything, it would be as a mother above all else. This is the role I assume 100% of the time, whether I am physically with my children or not. Everything else, love it or hate it, must be secondary.

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As I pondered this further over the last few days (ironically, whilst at a training camp), I really had to wonder if I did consider myself an athlete. I looked up the definition:

ath·lete
ˈaTHˌlēt/
noun
 
  1. a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.
    synonyms: sportsman, sportswoman, sportsperson; More

     
    1. BRITISH
      a person who is skilled in competitive track and field events (athletics).

      (To confirm: the British definition definitely does not apply to me!)

    I don’t know. It doesn’t really seem to fit. I’m pretty proficient, I guess? But does that make an athlete, specifically? I mean, I love junk food! I am lazy! But then again, I own so much active wear

    Isn't this a benefit of being an "athlete"?
    Isn’t this a benefit of being an “athlete”?

    I thought about it some more. I’m sporty, yes. But I don’t like team sports. I can’t catch a ball to save my life. I’m outdoorsy, but I hate being cold and I’m scared of bears. I’m athletIC, but does this make me an athleTE?

    I turned it around – as I often do – to the kids. How do they identify me as, besides Mom (obviously)?

    I called them via FaceTime from the airport on my way home from training camp (hello?! Athletes go to training camps!!) I asked: if you were to call me something, besides Mum and “event worker person”, what would it be?

    The answers were, in order: “biker” “runner” “Ironman person.”

    (Please note, swimmer never comes up. They know me well).

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    Huh. Maybe I am an athlete after all. Maybe?

    Why I am so sceptical about this? What is it that’s stopping me from calling myself an athlete? This is going to require a little more thought. Maybe I should should own it, go with it, try it on for size.

    So Caitlin, to answer your question: Today, I will start identifying as an athlete. Because as it turns out, all signs point in that direction.

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    Because athletes run in sideways rain, right?

    The rest of our round robin team can be found here. The Squad, as we call ourselves, are Erin, Jen, Liz, Caitlin, Elizabeth Laurel and Hailey.

    Enjoy!

     

Day-to-day life, Random

On time “management”

This week, our merry band of bloggers (Erin, Jen, Liz, Caitlin, Elizabeth and Laurel) has decided that the topic we’ll tackle is time management.

*blink… blink*

I’ve been thinking about what to write since the idea first got lobbed this way and, well, I got nothin’. Seriously. Nothing. No tips, no tricks, no hacks. 

I often get asked “how do you do it all”? This is in no way a brag/humblebrag/pat on the back. It’s a fact.

The simple answer is: I just do. And I just don’t.

Let’s take yesterday as a fine example of my time management skills. I mean, I have 4 calendars between my desk and the kitchen (so basically, 8 feet apart). None of them are synced. The irony of this post is not lost on me, by the way. It still rings true some days.

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I got up at 5:34AM. Why?! Beats me. That’s when my little brain woke up. Coffee, emails, news then all of a sudden everything is on fast-forward for 90 minutes as the minions get up/eat/fight/pack for school/forget stuff to bring to school. Then time slows down again for a few minutes. I distractedly get ready for work and a quick trip to the city. I pretend to myself that I’ll use the drive to catch up on all these calls and leave myself voice memos when in reality I’ll sing along to bad 90s music, look at the view and daydream.

So far, so good, right?

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Except stuff runs long, I get delayed and low and behold I’m now back to fast-forward mode trying to make it home in time for school pick up (newsflash: I don’t), and I’m now late for a conference call and ask for a 7 minute grace period (7? What?) I know deep down that today’s scheduled workout won’t happen and I’ll get the dreaded red Training Peaks box. I park the car and realize that once again, I forgot the recycling.

Pressing pause on this riveting narrative to point out that I am in no way complaining. This is my life!  Is it how I envisioned it? Nope. Is is easy? Not always. Would I change it? Probably not. I’ve got a damn good life.

Fly in the door, yell “did anyone let the dog out! I have a call! Yes, you can watch TV!” as I’m looking for earphones, tripping over backpacks and trying to remember the agenda for this call.

Oh yeah, that’s right. I have a rule about no TV during the week. Oh well! Exceptions to every rule, right? I ignore the hot chocolate spilled on the counter and the floor, jump on the call.

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The call goes long. My mind is wandering and I’m wondering if I’ll get my workout in after all. Stand up and lunge at the desk. Crane my neck back to see if kids are still alive (they are). Put the call on mute, feed the dog, wipe up the hot chocolate. The call ends.

We eat dinner together (this is one thing I won’t negotiate on, ever. No one eats in front of the TV. We sit down together every single night). Leftovers, because I’m tired and now a little frantic. I text Liz and ask what’s the earliest acceptable bedtime for an adult. She says 7.

The kids go to bed, they’re tired, too. Time slows back down. I cast around at the baskets of laundry, the messy house. I take care of some of it, but halfway through emptying the dishwasher, I stop. I don’t want to do this anymore. It can wait.

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I crawl into bed with Kobe, ostensibly to read. I read about 3 pages and fall asleep in my clothes. I’m awake again… at 5:34am. This is a cycle I might need to break, I think to myself as I smell the coffee already brewed downstairs (#winning #oldschool)

And here we are again.

So you see? Life gets done, it happens. Mostly. I’m healthy. They’re healthy. The important stuff happens. There’s collateral damage daily. Some days I’m a to-do list ninja. Others, like yesterday, I’m a sitcom Mom and the to-do list gets transferred in its entirety to the next day. And it’s alright, I got this. I’m learning not to be so hard on myself, consistently.

That’s my one and only time hack.

A few minutes of peace and cold.
A few minutes of peace and cold.

 

 

Random

UNresolutions

I blinked and 2017 is here and in full swing. If we still wrote cheques, I’d be scribbling out the 6 for the 7 till about July. Oh, just me? Ok. Carry on.

Anyhow. Along with these lovely ladies (you can meet them here: Erin, Jen, Liz, Caitlin, Elizabeth and Laurel), I’m sharing with you how I think I can make this year work in my favour. This is also about as existential as I get.

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Herewith, 7 things I hope to achieve before 2018 is banging down the door.

Consistency

I’m very much a gal who likes routine and for things to go as smoothly as they can. When I’m consistent with what I’m doing, I do it better and I enjoy it more. Doesn’t matter if it’s training, eating well or folding laundry (let’s face it: folding laundry for 4 people once a month is a task no one needs to take on). I’m aiming for consistent consistency this year. Also? My little people depend on it.

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Frienship

I love my friends. And I also really miss my friends. Parenthood/life can kick your ass that way. So I’m going to try to make a point of reconnecting with old friends I haven’t seen or talked to in a while. I’ll write the damn email. Pick up the phone. Make plans. Stick to them. Surround myself better. When I look at photos of me with my friends, I have a huge, all tooth grin. So that’s a good indicator right there.

Time

A few weeks back, I wrote about being not that busy. And while it’s still mostly true, I still need to slow down. There’s no reason to sprint from one thing to the next, is there? We don’t fare well when I turn everything into a timed event in this house. So I’m gifting myself with permission to take a little time, and to slow down (caveat: not at races, please and thank you).

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Say yes. And say no

It doesn’t hurt to put yourself out there and say “YES”… when you’re feeling it. Because it’s also perfectly acceptable to say “NO” and not have to apologize for it.

New places?

Along those lines, I want to check out new places, try new things. Doesn’t have to be crazy. That new coffee shop I’ve been meaning to try will do just fine.

I need to go here.
I need to go here.

Screen time

We have a rule in the house about no TV (for kids) during the week. It’s time I tried to stick to the rule… a little. I mean, I love me some Netflix. And I’m not into depriving myself… but there’s no harm in reading for an extra hour instead of watching a weird documentary about someone who sews sweaters out of dental floss.

Fuuuuuuun

I’m going to have fun. Want to join me? I’ll say yes. I promise.

Still smiling
Still smiling
Day-to-day life, Kids, Random

A different kind of Mom Guilt

As I type this, the kids are downstairs playing some game that specifically excludes adults (and sounds kind of rough, but they are laughing, so I’m staying out of it).

My inbox is very much under control (it’s a quiet time at work), my workout for the day is done and the dog came with, so that’s a 2-birds, one stone kind of situation.

The house is mostly under control (I mean, I could probably do another load of laundry but whatever).

I glance around the living room as the sun sets way too early and realize, with some trepidation, that there is nothing urgent that needs my attention.

And for some reason, I feel guilty.

There’s an expectation these days that moms (and dads, or anyone, really) need to be busy-busy-busy oh-no-no-time-to-sit-down. It’s a pet peeve of mine when you ask someone how they are and the first thing they sigh is “oh, I’m just so busy!” Uh huh. Aren’t we all.

Except.

I’m not. I’m really not! I have free time. Time that I don’t feel I need to assign a task to. Frankly, sometimes I don’t know how to fill that free time. Sometimes, I am even bored. And yet, it doesn’t feel right that I have this magical unicorn kind of time.

It’s like I’m admitting something, finally coming clean:

Hi, I’m Christine and I’m not busy all the time.

Maybe I need a hobby.

Feet up, Monday, 4:33pm.
Feet up, Monday, 4:33pm.

Editor’s note: I even feel guilty just writing this.

Day-to-day life, Kids, Random

Sound bites of summer

“Dropping in!” (can refer to anything from trampoline time, bike rides and hurling one’s self off the top bunk).

“Mom! Watch me!” (can refer to anything from trampoline time, bike rides and hurling one’s self off the top bunk, and let’s not forget everyone’s favourite: handstands in the shallow end).

“HEY! Don’t touch my XYZ!” (any child at any given moment referring to any given thing).

“Can I have a freezie?” Rinse and repeat.

“Aw, do I have to?” (refers almost exclusively to showering).

“Can I have something to eat?” (why, why, why are they always so HUNGRY?)

“Have you seen my XYZ?” (refers to everything, including the clothes they are currently wearing.)

Parents, do you feel me?

#summer.

Day-to-day life, Kids, Random

Summer snippets

It’s Monday. A holiday in the USA. Technically, a work day for me. The house is messy, my inbox is overwhelming me and deadlines loom.

Kids are running wild, shooting cap guns and refusing to eat the healthy snacks I put out, instead choosing to subsist on freezies and crackers.

I realized the other day that I had completely dropped the ball on summer camp registrations, and now I’m staring down a summer of kids using this house as base camp for all manner of adventures sprinkled with statements of “I’m bored”.

I honestly have no idea how parents find the time or the inclination to helicopter parent.

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Summer got me like…

Since April, and the last race I did, all motivation to train and be fit and put in the work required to do well at the exercise contests I am so fond of evades me.  Life gets in the way, excuses become too easy to concoct and the reality is that I need a carrot at the end of the proverbial stick to get myself going. Doesn’t help that my training buddies are just as busy with life as I am (I hate the “I’m busy” excuse, but we’re all prone to it) and one of them is baking a new bébé.

So I’ve taken to scouring the race calendar and trying to entice friends to sign up with me. Beware friends, my powers of persuasion will soon be turned on you…

Oh. Wait. I did another race. The Test of Metal ended it’s 21 year reign and I felt an obligation to take part. Was I undertrained? You bet. Did I not want to do it one bit when I woke up? 100%.

I changed my attitude on the start line and ended up having a ball. Truly. 4.5 hours of muddy good times. I won’t lie: I’m proud of myself for that one.

This morning, I was up at 5:30, per usual. Will woke a full 5 hours later. Is 10 the new 16?

I am not ready for this.

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I’m jealous.

I have a deep, unabashed affection for summer beach reads. Anyone in the internets have any suggestions? I just finished House of Wives and Engaged. Both highly entertaining reads.

Does anyone else feel like summer break totally snuck up on them this year? I survive by repeating my motherhood mantra:

Fake it till you make it.

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Family, Kids, Random

Project 2016

“Hey, do you guys want t–”

No.”

“Kids! Let’s go to this pl–”

“No.”

And my personal fave:

“Try this.”

“No! I don’t like it.”

“Have you ever had/done/seen/read/tasted/tried it before?”

“No.”

I don’t know about you fellow parents out there, but this is the basic chorus in this house. They seem to be genetically programmed to want to stay home and inside their wee comfort zones. I suppose, on the one hand, that that’s fine. On the other, dudes, it’s a great big world out there and there’s lots to see!

To that end, I’m trying to make 2016 the Year of Yes.

Some days, it goes swimmingly: we are all on board and totally keen to tackle something new. For example: Will joined the basketball team at school. Rory tried ski jumping. Anja agreed to have her hair tied back every day (see, it doesn’t need to be anything major… just, something new and different).

Other days, like today, it’s hard for me to drive this little project forward because I’m feeling overwhelmed by work and life, it’s raining and it just feels easier to stay home and do our same old, same old. And that’s ok, too.

Regardless, I love that we have a challenge that everyone in the house can participate in. That said… it’s still January. Maybe I should revisit this post in June and see where we are at?

Yes, I will.

 

 

Family, Kids, Random, Travel, weekend

I did what the Lululemon bag said to.

one thing a day

It’s true. There are things that scare me. One of which consists in sleeping on the ground surrounded by a millimetre of nylon, with 3 children. I’m a creature of comfort, so forgive me if I prefer to parent my children in the comforts of my home, knowing that I get to collapse into my cozy bed at the end of the day.

When friends planned a camping/biking trip a few months back, I thought little of saying YES. In fact, I kind of forgot about it until the week before — when I realized I’d have to borrow a LOT of gear and then started checking the weather like some crazy person (or like a triathlete with a race coming up).

I had mentally decided to pull the plug on the whole adventure until the morning we left… the weather looked bad, we were all tired and at each others throats. So that was when I pulled on my big girl pants, packed the truck and… followed friends up the Forest Service Road to our destination because I was sure that  1) I was bound to get lost 2) I’d get a flat in the middle of nowhere and 3) I’d get eaten by bears which fixing the flat.

What do you know – none of those things happened and we had a fantastic weekend. I even – dare I say – enjoyed the sleeping on the ground wrapped in nylon.

The riding was spectacular and hard and fun and I’m pining to go back. The kids were happy, dirty, tired and ate meals with their helmets on their heads between bike laps. My friends bent over backwards to help me manage the team and give me the chance to ride.

And at the end of it all, I was brave enough to do the drive home down the service road all alone. We only got lost once.