Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wings part 2

Some years have gone by since I last wrote about flying with hubby and la cocotte. In the interim la cocotte has gone from infant to pre-schooler and another infant has arrived making flying en famille more challenging rewarding. Last week-end, we had a mission to not only take a flight as a family but more importantly to have la cocotte sit up front as co-pilot next to baba. Although somewhat nervous about the prospect of la cocotte near the controls of an airplane (for the uninitiated, there are a separate set of controls in front of both the pilot and "co-pilot" in a Cesna, heck perhaps in all airplanes, I really don't know... count me among the uninitiated), I had the mental image of her strapped tightly into her car seat and therefore unable to manipulate the environment around her. My image also included me, sitting directly behind her, at the ready to pin her down if necessary.

Fast forward to hubby taxiing to the runway for takeoff, la cocotte seated not entirely serenely beside him held in place only by a standard seatbelt, her car seat having proved too large for the cesna. Then there's me, sitting behind her not at the ready to pin her down should occasion arise but rather with two very occupied arms nursing an infant who rejected outright the confinement of her carseat. And as we taxied to the runway, I stopped chewing on the fact that la cocotte had not gone pee before boarding and moved on to far graver concerns. I was struck with a vision of a full-on, mid-flight temper tantrum by a largely unrestrained cocotte... door being flung open, controls being kicked, infant being tossed aside as I tackled la cocotte (as much as anyone can tackle anything inside a cesna). Please, I thought, oh please don't let this turn into one of those you-tube-esque what-the-fuck-were-they-thinking spectacular parenting fails.

A word about my hubby. There are certain, specific areas in which I truly question his judgement; appropriate officewear for women  ("honey, that's not a dress, it's a shirt"), the health of a given meal ("that was pretty healthy" he'll happily say after we've consumed a meal that included exactly none of the four food groups).  However there are other areas where I trust him absolutely and these include the safety of our children and all things pilot/flying-related. On these, I trust his judgement and his fairly conservative nature. So I reminded myself of this, took a deep breath and settled in for the ride.

Which was amazingly smooth thanks to our skilled pilot and the beautiful day. Once my lap-held infant fell asleep, I even managed to get a few shots off though the scenery around Montreal sadly pales in comparison to the scenery that some of you may have seen on another blog. I also got to take in some ATC chatter which I always enjoy. La cocotte held her own very nicely and other than peppering the pilot with a thousand "pourquois" (usually right as he was queuing the mic to speak with ATC or another pilot) and occasionally tugging on his arm, she was an incredibly well behaved passenger.

It was right around the time that we turned to head back west that things on board started to go south. It began with an innocuous request for an on-board snack of peanuts. Obviously, I should have brought peanuts as they are, after all, the classic in-flight snack. Very unfortunately I had only brought cheese which was roundly rejected. Then la cocotte decided she wanted to use the controls and was denied by the pilot. Things escalated as they will with threenagers and before we knew it, flailing, screaming temper tantrum complete with kicking the yoke. Yup. Kicking the yoke... the doohickey thingy that the pilot pulls on to climb and pushes to descend. As it turns out, kicking the yoke with a winter boot clad foot will also cause the plane to descend. Our excellent pilot-in-command immediately took us out of the resulting dive and the mother in command quickly re-wrote and implemented a new rule regarding pacifier use. Pacifier may only be used when toddler is in bed at a time of day when sleep is imminent (previous) OR when toddler is putting all of our lives at risk (addendum).  Popped the pacifier into the toddler and, well, the pacifier lived up to its name exceptionally well.

Anyway, no regrets. It was a memorable family day and a great treat to see hubby doing something he loves.

back to front: Mont Royal, Montreal skyline, St Lawrence River, south shore
Mont St. Gregoire (a "mountain" formed by an igneous intrusion into the surrounding sedimentary rock 125 million years ago, since that time the surrounding sedimentary rock has eroded leaving behind the igneous formation - Mount Royal above has the same origin... hubby's day job is in geology)
Eastern Townships
Birds on Chambly Basin
Pilot and co-pilot
Sleeping lap-held infant

 Sleeping after the yoke incident, those pacifiers are genius!
Ear protectors must match one's shirt, always.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Eight Months

At eight months the Poopa Loopa's motor skills are exploding. She is intent on learning to walk and constantly pulling up and cruising, typically around the circumference of the often-open dishwasher. The only thing that can distract her from her daily dishwasher patrol is her delight in finding a dirty knife to play with. She also covers a fair amount of ground on all fours covering "her" beat with clockwork regularity. The beat begins in the living room where she'll have a quick glance around to see if any choking hazards have been left out for her to play with. She then starts the long crawl down the hallway towards the kitchen where the rest of us are invariably hanging out. Without fail she'll detour into the bathroom to check out what is available in the way of used tissues in the waste paper basket. Used tissues... mmm so yummy. Almost as good to chew on as a urine-soaked diaper if she can get her paws on one. I spend much of my days fishing slobbery strings of chewed upon paper products out of her gum rings. After exhausting the bathroom waste paper basket, she will typically spend some quality time fingering her favorite light socket before finally arriving in the kitchen. At this point she is often whisked up off the floor by her older sister and returned to her starting point and so she, like the indefatiguable Sisyphus begins again.

She proudly sports 6 teeth. The two bottom front teeth appeared shortly before the 6 month mark (right on cue according to all the baby books) and the top four incisors are simultaneously emerging which began shortly after 7 months.  Her vocalizations are in the vein of mamamamama and gagagagaga. She is not a big talker nor a big crier. We can reliably get a smile out of her by holding her upside down.

She is the only girl in her daycare possee of five which likely garners her some extra attention. Without fail she comes home with a single ponytail in her wispy baby hair. She has the advantage of being more mobile than her colleagues at daycare and any bottle or cookie left unattended (or attended only by another baby) will rapidly be swiped by her.

The breast feeding continues apace but it is a distant cousin to the breastfeedings of months past. It is an active pursuit complete with hair pulling (mine), nose twisting (mine), nipple twisting (ouch frickety ouch). She pops off the breast at the slightest distraction and has a look around before plunging back in. The teeth come into play more often than I would like (let's be clear, once is more often than I would like). Because of the struggles we have had with older sister and her pacifier (including an epic battle just this morning) we have not offered a pacifier to the Poopa Loopa and although she somes enviously fingers older sister's, so far it has not been an issue so maybe, perhaps there will be one less battle to fight on that front.

She still has a delicious pot belly and wonderous thighs but her joy in her mobility is steadily wearing the layers of chub away and soon Chumba Wumba will have to be dropped from the roster of many nicknames.

Eight months is wonderful. It is coos and babbles and smiles. It is not completely different from having a family dog. It is, as the cliche goes, all going by far too quickly.

I call this one: "Honey have you seen the baby?"
Making the dishwasher rounds
 Breast is best. But beer ain't bad.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A taste of my own medicine

First, I wanted to thank everyone for their warm, supportive thoughts on my last post - both in comments and by e-mail. I apologize for the enigmatic post... I needed an outlet but feel I cannot divulge details that concern someone other than myself in a public forum so I will leave it at that. But I do thank you all for your thoughts.

So, I tried to get my head together for a work-out today. Not surpringly, my running has been lackluster and random as of late. My streak ended the day after I wrote the post about my streak. I found that commiting to running every day made running so chore-like and unpleasant that I grew to dislike it. Not a good thing to say the least. Also I was having trouble keeping the hard days hard and the easy days easy because on those days when I was running the minimum just to say I had run, I would tend to do it as fast as possible just to get it over with so my "easy days" were a 6 km tempo. All in all, 17 days. Took one day off and felt immediately rejuvenated.

Today I actually e-mailed one of my running buddies to tell them what work-out I was doing just so I would feel accountable to someone (there are disadvantages to being self-coached). She kindly suggested I test her after every interval with my time. While I felt someone pathetic to need this kind of monitoring, the gesture on her part really got me to commit and I so much appreciated her observance. Amazing how having an observer can make a difference...

So this post is called a taste of my own medicine because I have been recommending this work-out to various people in the past few years but I have not done it myself for a long time. The concept is that one does a warm-up followed by a tempo run to increase the workload a bit before the intervals so that each interval is "worth" a little bit more. Mmmmonyka has done many of these in the past few years but I had not done one in probably over five years (do as I say...). Anyway I planned:

20 minute warm-up
3 km tempo
5-6 X 800 m

I actually did:

20 minute warm-up
3 km tempo in 12:06 (tempo pace used to be 3:50... sigh)
7 X 800 m (was super pleased I got in an extra interval, after four my friend texted me and said "commit to doing 7 so you can bow out at 6" and so I committed to doing 7... and actually did them). Times were not stellar but better than anything lately: 2:52, 2:49, 2:48, 2:47, 2:46, 2:52, 2:48.

Based on this, I think I am probably in about 10:45 shape for 3000 m which might be my next race depending on what kind of mental state I am in on race day. On the other hand, I also found this random marathon on the web the other day. It looks like everything a marathon should not be: cold, windy, monotonous course, no spectators, not enough runners to make a decent pack (typically fewer than 100 finishers). I'm thinking of going... I could actually get up super early (4.30 am), drive to Albany (NY) run the marathon and be back the same day. It would be exhausting but definitely memory making... we'll see.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Anatomy of bad news

I hear the news and there is extreme fatigue. I despertately need to escape into sleep.
Shame. Shame that I ever thought I had experienced bad news before. I listen to a fellow mom discuss behavioral problems of her toddler and wonder how she can possibly think this is a real problem. I think of this post and cringe. I wonder how I will ever again be empathetic towards the daily problems of others; this has raised the bar permanently. Relativism. It has come to chew my ass off, big time.

It takes a long time to process this news. I digest it in small, bite-sized pieces as I do what must be done: change the baby, clothe the toddler, make baby purree, argue over how much halloween may be consumed per day. The ragged edge of the news is slowly worn smooth by the normalcy of the never-ending, daily needs of our household. With the normalcy returns the ablility to take a deep breath, to run up a hill without my throat constricting, to actually hear what others are saying but then, with the normalcy comes panic. Panic and guilt. Life should NOT be normal because with normalcy comes acceptance and we cannot accept. We must fight. Fight? Can this be fought? We don't know.

The news marches in incrementally; a piece of concrete information provided, some tenuous research done. My brain frantically seeks the silver lining. I find a few "but, at leasts". I wonder how real these fragments of silver lining are. Can this be fought? Of course it can. How do we fight? By being supportive without stripping independence. By showing love. By seeking out all the information available. By being a team. By sharing optimism. By creating safe space to allow whatever needs to be said to be said. By being creative. By being very present.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Given my readership, I am sure no one thought of this sort of streaking when they read the title:

Undoubtedly everyone's minds immediately jumped to running streak i.e. the practice of running every day for an undetermined number of days in a row where a run must conform to a minimum distance or time determined by the "streaker". If I am not mistaken there is an official society for streakers and I believe their minimum is a mile (too lazy to google).

It may surprise some that prior to this "streak" (I put it in quotes because I am only on day 16 which some people would not even consider a "streak" but rather just a regular block of training), anyway prior to this "streak" the most days I had ever run in a row was 6. I am a big believer in the hard/easy principle. I run my hard days very hard and my easy days are necessarily very easy and off in order to allow for the hard days to be hard. With the goals I have had over the past few years i.e. run as fast as possible over distances between 3 km - marathon, rest days to the tune of 1-2 per week are essential, this is even more true at 38 than it was 10 years ago.

Streaking, I think, accomplishes one goal only and that is that is allows the streaker to run many consecutive days in a row. In other words it is a means to its own end and is not conducive allowing runners to reach other more constructive goals. It can lead to bad decisions and obsessive compulsive behavior. Nonetheless, I am trying it for a few reasons. First, I have no serious competitive goals for the next little while. I may do two indoor 3000 m races in December but with no serious ambitions. Also, I have never streaked before so I am curious to see how long I can go and what effects it has one my person and my body. The last reason is personal and in the category of things that I don't blog about but let's say even an amateur psychologist would realize that in the face of a serious, bad thing that I cannot control it is soothing to have something fairly benign over which I do have control.

So here I am on day 16 of my streak. My rule is that for a run to count it must be at least 30 minutes or 6 km.