Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Reads: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

The first time I read the sounded ok but I wasn't sure I wanted to read it.  Then the reviews started to pour in on all sides - washing over me like a giant wave - and I found myself longing to read it.  Nay - NEEDING to read it.  It took me a while to get to it, but I am so glad it made the Must-Read list.

In a nutshell - the book follows a really scattered timeline, spanning approximately 40 years. The main characters are Bennie Salazar (a record producer, who never narrates) and Sasha, his assistant. The narrator changes between Sasha and the other auxillary characters and it jumps back and forth on that timeline until you almost reach the point where you have no clue where you are.  But in the end - the story all comes together and shows you where these characters end up in the future. I'm not going to go too in depth with the plot line because it would be hard to not spoil it for anyone wanting to read it.   Just be assured the story will draw you in.

I've read a fair few books with timelines like this so I didn't really have much trouble keeping track of where the story was and noticing how the different characters were woven into it.   I particularly liked the way that Egan wove characters who had played a really small part in the history into more important roles that they happen into in later days.

The one chapter that gets great raves is the one where Sasha's daughter (in the future) tells the story in her "slide journal" - a journal in PowerPoint format.   It was cleverly done and a very unique way to bring in a 12 year old's diary, but MAN was it tough to read on my reader.  White text on grey gradient backgrounds...I missed half of the wording.  Since I read this on my Kobo - it also had one annoying trait that the print book might not have had.  I was falling asleep before I finished that PowerPoint chapter so I bookmarked it and vowed to finish it over breakfast...and when I turned the reader on again - it had shunted me back to the start of the chapter again!  Oy vay!  But that's an ebook gripe more than a book/content gripe.

I do recommend this one, but with a caveat.  If you like your books to happen in a really linear fashion - you might find this one difficult to follow.   It jumps around A LOT.  Mindless reading, this is not.   If you're looking for a read that makes you think and keeps you following along, then pick this one up.  It's well worth it. Egan is a masterful storyteller and I found it very hard to put down.  If I had more hours in a day and a lesser need for sleep - I would have plowed through this in a single sitting.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dread Factor

My GAWD has this ever been the longest week!   It's only Wednesday and I ache for Friday in a way I can't even begin to describe.  You'd think that with my impending marathon that time would be rushing to get there...perhaps I am not dreading it nearly enough...THAT must be it.

So odd.  You'd think that with how hard the past month of marathon training was that the dread factor would be pretty high.  But no - I've been adopting a new mindset and it is now making time drag.   My new mindset has been "Don't think about it.  Just do it."  Pretty good mantra for a marathon, dontcha think?

Putting one foot in front of the other for 5 hours? Don't think about it. Just do it.

What if it rains? Don't think about it. Just do it.

What if the world annoys me that day? Don't think about it. Just do it.

What if I end up running alone instead of with a pace group? Don't think about it. Just do it.

Did I train well enough? Don't think about it. Just do it.

It's a pretty sweet mindset.  Brings me a great deal of peace.  But that peace has totally cancelled out the dread factor.  The dread factor that will make it just hurry up and get here already! 

In a week, I'll be wishing it was today.  I know it.   But today, I just want it to be Friday.

Workout Wednesday: Pre-Marathon Prep

My marathon is officially less than two weeks away...actually - it's closer to a week and a half.  And I have gone into full-on prep mode.   There is just so darn much to think about.   Add to that that my work-life has suddenly gotten ridiculously busy (and the week I am taking off after the 'thon makes it more of a crunch) and I feel like I am seriously running out of time.  But I am getting somewhere in getting ready for the trip

1) What to wear
This is my first marathon and will likely be my only marathon ever so I want to look good and feel good doing it.  I looked at my running clothes and felt just generally blah about them.  I think all the miles I logged int hem this summer has made me ache for something new.  So - I went to Lululemon...and bought myself a completely new outfit to wear.  There is just something about brand new running clothes that makes me smile AND makes me look forward to using them.   I bought a new tank and bra and crops.  I even bought myself a hat in case it rains.   I don't own MUCH from Lululemon, but I figured this was a good excuse to treat myself.  I worked hard all summer and it was really tough on me...and if a new outfit adds a little pep to my step...well, then it's all worth it :)

2) Fueling Up
While I was training, Nuun went and discontinued my beloved Orange-Ginger...the drink I had been using through all of my training.  None of the other flavours are cutting it, but I was over the moon to discover that Campers Village still had it in stick and I bought myself two tubes to make sure I had plenty.  I still need to run to the store to pickup my figgy newtons.  I am so loving these as running fuel.  Not only do I get to munch on my favorite cookie while I run...but I also get to have a happy tummy, too!

Closer to the date, I am going to need to buy myself some bagels.  And a small toaster to bring with us.  I learned that the hard way in San Fran last year.  Eating untaosted bagels at 4am on a nervous stomach is not the most fun ever.   I'd rather have a small toaster to bring for my out of town races...

3) Car stuff

Lately, it seems like everyone around me is having car issues.  I'm not taking that chance.  Next week, the Forester is going in for an oil change and tune up.  It is due for them anyway - but this way I can feel better about heading off into themountains on a tight driving schedule

4) Pet stuff
Dog boarding is booked.   Cancerhound is going to love it.  The other one is going to spend the weekend whining by the door until we come back.  She's like that.

5) Weather
I made the mistake of checking the long range forecast last weekend.  I'm not allowed to do that again.   Didn't like the little crying cloud on the corner of the sun on the box for Oct 9.  I need everyone to start chanting "Rain, rain go away.  Why not go to Vancouver where they are used to you anyway..."

So, now I just have a couple more things to do and I should be good to go.  I need to test drive my outfit (Saturday) and I need to carb load.  Next week is all about the I'd better pick some of that up while I'm at the store...

It's almost here.  and I am almost ready...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Family Photos

Oy - why do we put ourselves through this every year?  Oh yeah - because we want a recent family photo to share with everyone.

The first 7 years of my and hubby's relationship - we never once had a professional photo taken of the two of us.  Ok - not true - we had a bad one taken at a wedding in was never printed or displayed for good reason.  We had often talked about it though..and settled for self portraits instead.   Then, when we had the Doodle and Buggie - we knew part of being parents was providing grandparents with a nice photo to show off and display.  

That first year, we headed off to Kids Photo in Market Mall.  What a disaster!  I had asked for an hour long appointment and was told that the shots I was looking for could be done in half an hour.  They couldn't.  A half hour wasn't long enough to get my 4 month old babies comfortable with the photographer and to get ANY of the shots I wanted.  And we had to pay a ridiculous amount for what we did get.  Lesson learned.   The photo that year was cute, but there were no smiles on the faces of the babies.  Just stunned fear.

For the girls first birthday, hubby and I decided it would be nice to get one taken of the two of them together and then some individual shots.  To save money (and in case the session went horribly wrong), we just booked it at Sears.  It was perfect.  The girls had fun crawling around and mugging for the camera.  I love the shots we got that day.  We even made sure to get the DVD so we could have them all!

Following that success, when it was time to get our fall portrait taken - we went to Sears again.  The girls would have nothing of it.  It was hot and uncomfortable int eh studio and they just wanted to play with the toys and refused to look at the camera.  We got one family shot where they looked up...and it is awkward because of their hands flailing in the air. Oh - and I have purple hair in the pictures, too, because they needed to be taken just before we went to San Fran. (I don't have that one scanned yet)

After that one - I was working on my own brain to just believe that our family picture is just a quick snapshot of us at that one point in time - where we are all together and some effort is taken to look nice.   It will always be replaced the next year.

I am going to need to remind myself of that promise every day for the next year.

Last Sunday, we got our new portraits taken.  Um.  Yeah.   Not good.  I even bribed the girls with lip gloss for smiles.  Once we were in the Sears studio - all bets were off and the freak out began.   Luckily, the session didn't cost us a thing because we "won" a free sitting and 10x13 portrait.  And we did get one nice family shot...if we could just swap my head out of it.  The girls are looking and smiling.  Hubby is looking and smiling.  Me?  Well, I must have been caught mid laugh or something.  I look like a horse.   It's not pretty.  

But I only need to look at it every time I walk down the hall for the next year, right?

After the photos - we got coffees and went to Confederation Park to see if we could get some nice shots of the girls among the fall colours. Hubby captured this one that I LOVE!  

This was before they spilled hot chocolate down the front of those expensive little dresses Gramma bought them...

Monday, September 26, 2011

MOMday: Sale Success!

Well, there we have it.  Just a short note to update on how the First ever Langdon Kids Stuff sale went on Saturday.  I think it's safe to say that it was a success.  I made about $150 (plus, I sold the last of our cloth diapers the next day) so now we have a pretty good sized fund for replenishing the stuff our kiddos need.

As for the sale itself:
  • It was too long.  9-4 was overkill.  It was busy until around noon and then it was dead.  Most of us packed up and left by 2:30
  • It was busy - from the moment we opened up - it was steady with people.
  • I had priced everything to sell and went from 4 bins down to 2.  
  • The people were great.  I really enjoyed talking to the other moms who had tables at the sale
  • So many deals.  I didn't buy much, but I did manage to get some great deals on designer toddler shoes and some games
  • Someone makes awesome shortbread and they sold it at the bake sale table.  I MIGHT have eaten an entire plate of it for lunch.  Bad Momma.

So, it looks like there might be another sale in the spring and, if the times are shortened - I'll likely sign up to sell at that one too...I'll be needing to clear out the summer stuff by that point.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Reads: Throw Out Fifty Things by Gail Blanke

Lately, I've been reading a lot of minimalism blogs and might be on the way to becoming a bit neurotic about culling in our own home. Even hubby has jumped on the cull wagon. We just want less stuff. Less stuff means less to deal with and less to clean. It means that if we ever had a serious fire, we wouldn't be as freaked out because we'd have less to replace. As a result, we've been working our way through our house and are selling/tossing/giving away as much as we can to just get rid of it.

As I am prone to do - I immediately went on a hunt to find books to help me with the task. To give me different perspectives on culling. Throw Out Fifty Things ended up in my Kobo cart one day and I finally got around to reading it.

The premise of the book is that she takes you through your house, one room at a time, and talks you through what to let go of. She also provides rules for culling like "if you have to think about it for very long, then it's time to cull it" and "if it makes you feel bad, it's time to get rid of it". Helpful thinking points for people who might tend to get a bit sentimental about their possessions.

Speaking of sentimentality, she also talks about how to cull the items you've inherited that you don't want to loss - even though they might not be the things you cherish enough to keep and use regularly.

This is not a book that talks about just sweeping your whole house into a garbage bag - she gives you permission to keep things just because you live looking at them. If it is something that makes you feel happy - then it's ok to keep. The point is to clear out the things that are weighing you down.

Unfortunately, the house culling portion of the book doesn't even take up half of this book. By around the 40% point onward, the book becomes a self help book to help you clear out mental clutter. I read a couple of chapters of this, but it isn't what I needed so I started to skim pretty heavily and pretty much stopped absorbing this content. I didn't want to waste my time reading stuff I didn't feel I needed when I could be moving on to the next book.

As far as a book on organizing and culling goes - this one is only "meh". I think people with a larger aversion to culling than myself might find it helpful to get them started, but I am pretty sure I already got rid of way more than 50 things...I need a large scale assistant in the book market :) This book isn't it. And the self help section at the end sealed it's fate for me. I'd look for culling advice elsewhere. On to the next book!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Workout Wednesday: Crash and Burn

I was warned that marathon training would do this to me.  Did I listen?  Nooooooo.  But it happened.  My mommunity failed me. 

I. Got. Sick.


But that's ok.  I'm not going to bore/gross you out with the details (head/chest/stomach - all the major players came out for the party).  That little cold was the best thing that EVER could have happened to me.  

Say what?!?!  Yep - you didn't mis-read.   Getting sick was awesome.  Not so much the actual being sick part, but what I realized after.  

If my mental state has been getting you down lately - fear's all in the past.  Getting sick actually helped give that dark place the boot.  I spent 2 days off work, laying down, reading Archie Comics and watching classic movies on Netflix...and, after sleeping in until noon yesterday, awoke to the realization that I'm ok.  I'm not down about my running anymore.  I even believe I might actually be able to do this marathon thing (as long as I don't overthink it)

I also came to the realization that I was a victim of overtraining.  You probably all saw it before I did. Not that I increased my mileage too fast or was running too much...but that I was wearing myself out with everything ELSE I have going on.   My friend, J, said it best in an email to me:

"No matter how you slice it, you're doing so much more than any one ever attempts in their entire life. And you're doing it with toddler twins, at the same time you return to work, pretty much by yourself."

Ya - I knew that.  I did.  But I don't like to think that maybe I do too much.  I just figure I'm wired to handle more than most so it doesn't seem like a lot when I'm doing it.I'm not being's just the way I'm wired.

So, I spent 3 days laying down (2 of those with toddlers bouncing on me), and woke up after extra sleep on the third day realizing, I'm going to be ok.  In (eek) two and a half weeks time, I'll be in Kelowna and will be running 2 half marathons in quick succession.   Just putting one foot in front of the other for 5 or so hours.  No biggie. 

Ok - yes, I know it's a biggie...but it's all going to be ok.   Plus - I get to start carb loading soon...

Monday, September 19, 2011

MOMday: Fall Kid's Toy and Clothing Sales

As the leaves beging to change and the temperatures start to ease off of the summer heat, 'tis suddenly the season for the annual household clean-out of old toys and outgrown clothes and equipment.  Just last week, I booked myself a table at the Langdon Sale this coming weekend!  I'm excited to turn that mountain of clothing on my guest room bed into some much needed cash to buy new toys and clothes to replace it all   I am excited to clear out the old, though.  Cleaning up winter jackets, snow pants and boots and knowing that they will keep someone else warm this winter is a wonderful feeling.

These sales are happening all over the Calgary area in the coming weeks and, whether you need to sell off your own stuff or acquire "new" for your own kids - these sales are a treasure trove of bargains to help you out.

This will be my first year actually selling in a community sale, but I have been an active bargain hunter in many,many of these sales over the past 3 years!   Babies and toddlers outgrow their clothing far too quickly to make it worthwhile to buy new everything.   I've had good luck selling some things on Kijiji, but right now, I need the motivation to get it all ready to go and having a deadline like an actual sale is a big help for motivating me!

So, if you are looking at attending the sales, either as a seller or as a shopper - I've compiled a little tip list for you to make the most of your adventure!

Tips for sellers:
  • Price everything in a way that will a) retain the pricetag throughout the sale and b) show the size and price clearly.  Unpriced items are less likely to sell because many people will just let the item go instead of asking
  • Keep your prices reasonable.  You are selling used items and you can't expect to get "new" prices for them. 
  • Price your items in even numbers - it will mean less scrambling for change when it starts to get busy
  • Sort your items by size and gender so people can find what they need quickly
  • Arrange for hanging racks for items that display nicer hung up - dresses, sleepsacks, etc.  Pants, t-shirts and onesies display fine, laid flat on a table
  • Bag up the toys so all of the pieces stay together
  • Group things into "lots" make people feel like they are getting a better deal (and clears things out faster than selling one item at a time) - keep the pricing reasonable
  • Pin together sets and pairs.  Nothing sucks more (and loses a sale faster) than all of the pieces not being together
  • Clean EVERYTHING.  If an item is dirty - it is less likely to sell because people might question if it's a stain or if it just needs washing
  • If an item is stained - note it and price it lower to compensate.  Some people may tackle stubborn stain removal and take the chance on an item if the price is right.
  • Tidy up your table as the day progresses - a neat table will draw more people in.
  • Try to not let items fall too far under the table...if people can't see them - they are unlikely to buy them
  • Make sure your float has lots of $5, loonies and toonies - you'll need those most when it comes to making change
  • Make sure equipment like carseats, etc are still current and safe (the expiry dates can be found on the bottom of the carseat - 6 years old is too old)
Tips for bargain hunters:
  • BRING YOUR OWN BAG/BOX/CART - sellers don't always have bags.  For larger sales, I've found one of those "Granny Grocery Carts" is a big help in holding everything
  • Bring smaller bills/loonies/toonies - Sellers might not have a huge cash float and the smaller bills are always appreciated
  • Make a list of what you need and the sizes and measurements
  • Bring a measuring tape to double check actual sizes
  • Leave your kids at home with someone - trust me.  It's much easier to shop for them when they aren't screaming for that toy.  It's also out of respect for the sellers because kids tend to want to play with toys and don't understand that they need to stay at the table

Upcoming Sales

I got most of this list off the Family Fun Calgary website ( and Baby Guide to calgary ( For now, let's just call this a partial list of what's coming up!  Feel free to post a sale in the comments if you know of one that I have missed here!

Montgomery Designer Children’s Clothing & Gear Sale
When: Saturday, September 23 & 24, 2011
Where: Montgomery Community Association
Time: Friday 5-8pm, Saturday 8am – 1pm
Admission: FREE
Table bookings: (403) 313-1144 (Leslie)

Langdon 1st Annual Community Toy/Clothing/Equipment Sale
When: Saturday September 24th, 2011
Where: Langdon Fieldhouse
Address: On Centre Street across from the stores in the 1908 style buildings
Time: 9:00am – 4:00pm
Admission: $1 (fundraiser for the Langdon Community Association)
Table bookings: Wanda 403-936-5967 $10.00/table

Silver Springs Children’s Used Toy & Clothing Sale
When: Saturday September 24th, 2011
Where: Silver Springs Community Centre
Address: 5720 Silver Ridge Dr NW
Time: 9:00am – 1:00pm
Admission: Free!
Table bookings:(403) 288-2616   Tables are $25 for members and $30 for non members. Women in Need Society will be there on the day of the sale to pick up any unwanted clothing along with any household items or small furniture.

Lake Bonavista Children’s Clothing and Toy Sale

When: Sunday May 29, 2011
Time: 10:30 am to 1 pm
Where: Lake Bonavista Recreation Centre
Address: 1401 Acadia Drive S.E.
Admission: FREE
Table bookings:     Call (403) 271-7107 extension 226 and leave your contact details or email Call or drop by the Lake Bonavista Community Association to register. Table registration is $25 for members and $40 for non-members.

Wildwood Little Tykes Sale
When: Saturday October 1st, 2011
Where: Woodcliff United Church (5 blocks west of the Wildwood Community Hall)
Address: 5010 Spruce Drive SW
Time: 9:00am – 2:00pm
Admission: $2.00
Table bookings: Sign up at

NW Clean Out Your Closet Sale

When: October 1, 2011
Where:     Beddington Heights Community Centre
Address:     375 Bermuda Drive NW
Time:     9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Admission Cost:  By donation and goes to a charity
Table Booking:     403-226-4004, or For more details on the sale check out Registration ongoing. Registration fee of $10 and there is a 70/30 profit split. Limited number of vendor spots available. For the last hour of the sale, items are 50% off.

Kids Stuff Garage Sale
When: October 8th, 2011
Where: Cardel Place, upper level
Address: 11950 Country Village Link NE
Time: 9 am to 1 pm
Admission: FREE
Table bookings:Tables are $30 and can be reserved online starting August 15th.

Okotoks MOM to MOM Sale
When: October 22nd, 2011
Where: Foothills Centennial Centre (venue change)
Address: 207 Community Way, Okotoks, AB
Time: 10 am to 2 pm
Admission: FREE
Table bookings: Colleen at 

Rosedale Tiny Treasures Sale
When: October 22nd, 2011
Where: Wild Rose United Church
Address: 1317 - 1 Street N.W.
Time: 9 am to 2 pm
Admission: FREE
Table bookings: 403-270-2742 or

Have fun and happy shopping!!! Maybe I'll see you out there...just make sure you don't stand between me and anything in a size 2-3 that isn't pink!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Reads: The Measure of the Magic by Terry Brooks

One of my favourite fantasy writers is Terry Brooks.  I have been following his Shannara series for close to 10 years now (though it has been in existence for almost 35 years!) I would have to say the biggest argument in favor of my ebook reader is that I can purchase the next book the day it comes out instead of waiting a whole year to buy it in paperback.

Much of this review would require that you had followed the series so there may or may not be spoilers here.  Really, this little writeup is only going to prove what a nerd I actually am.

The Measure of the Magic is the latest instalment in the Shannara series...and wraps up the Legends of Shannara Duology.  It picks up where the Bearers of the Black Staff left off last year.  Panterra Qu has just witnesses the death of Sider Ament and is faced with the decision of whether or not to take up the staff carried by the Knight of the Word.   In order to save his dear friend Prue Liss from her fate at the hands of the trolls, who have her captive, he takes the staff wand sets off to stop the escape of the troll, Arik Siq  and regain his companion once more.

Prue, meanwhile, has had an adventure of her own, involving her ultimate escape from the trolls and an interesting encounter with the King of the Silver River.

Soon, our friends are reunited and set off on an unusual adventure to save their valley from the outsiders.  With an assassin and a demon hot on their heels and a friend imprisoned, they have their work cut out for them and their strengths and loyalties are tested. 

I don't want to give away too much of the story.  I could write a play by play of the events, but then what would be the point in  your reading it.   Let's just say that this is another great fantasy from Brooks and really builds on the stories established in the previous books.  I'm a little sad that he won't be building on this in the next book that comes out, as it signals the start of another trilogy in the series,  but I know he'll make his way back to this point in the timeline again and I can hardly wait to see where the adventure will take us next!

and if you haven't read the Shannara series and want a good epic fantasy series to keep you going for a few years...then pick up a copy of Sword of Shannara and don't let the Tolkien similarities get to you in the first book...those vanish in the rest of the series.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Video: Dinosaur Valley Half Marathon 2011

I'm probably in there somewhere...I just don't have time to find myself quite yet...

Workout Wednesday: Questioning Readiness

This past weekend, I was in a bad head space.   It was the first weekend of my taper and I was questioning everything.  Running a half marathon instead of running 22K on my own might not have been my smartest move.  But that's what I did.  I ran a hellish half and let my mind play games with me.

The biggest game it played was the "You're so not ready for a marathon" game.   This one is pretty simple when your mind is addled by heat.  Basically, it means a seed is planted in your brain and it nags at you.  It says things like this"

"If 21.1K feels this hard today, how do you ever think you'll be ready for 42.2 in a month?"

"You missed far too many weekday runs to even THINK you could be trained for this"

"You have only been running a year and a half.  If your friends have been running much longer and THEY aren't ready, why do you think you are?"

"32K is a far ways from 42K...why didn't you allow more time to build mileage?" 

"You could totally scale back to the half.  Sure, you'd have to save face with everyone, but at least you know you're ready for another 21.1"

"There's no way hubby can handle taking the girls on alone for 6 hours while you run those loops...why not just do a half where you go for a big PR and then he won't need to worry about it for long"
(a total neurotic "mom" thing - hubby is totally capable)

"Why do you need to do this before you turn 35?  you could wait until 40.  People understand 40 better because it's like trick or treating when you're 16 - you do things one last time before you're too old to do them anymore!" 

"If you run this marathon, do you think you'll even run ever again?"

"Do you even LIKE running anymore?  Why torture yourself?  Go a shorter distance in Kelowna and try to find some enjoyment again"

"42K will kill you physically AND mentally"

"You can barely run for any distance anymore without taking long walk breaks...that's just going to make the miles stretch out in Kelowna"

"You're so slow now that you'll probably miss the cutoff time for the marathon and then they won't give you your medal"

I could go on, but this gives you more than enough of a glimpse into my head during the race.   I'm being brutally honest here - by the time I finished,  I wasn't sure I was even going to do Kelowna AT ALL anymore.   I was terrified.  Honestly, I still kind of am.

I confided a bit in hubby about this when I got home and he just kind of nodded his head and murmured reassuringly.  I think he's used to my neurosis by now and he just rolls with it (that's why I've been with him almost 9 years - I don't think anyone else could roll with me quite like he does)

Then, I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to put it out of my mind.   I knew this thinking was toxic.   I know I am going into the marathon, perhaps slightly undertrained, but I am also going into it with no goal except to finish.  I did all of my long runs and survived and thrived.   I did as many weekday runs as I could - especially as a mom to toddler twins who also works full time.   I know that I am doing something exceptional.

But by evening the toxicity levels were creeping up again.

So I hit the Google.   "Not ready for a marathon despite training" was my search.   I thought I'd come up against a whole bunch of forum posts of people telling the poster to pull out or scale back.  That it would be stupid to run a marathon you aren't ready for.

Instead, I was greeted by supportive posts, reassuring that this thinking was normal.  That it should even be expected as a part of taper.

The diagnosis...I'm apparently suffering from taper madness.   The reduction in mileage is going to prepare my body by letting it rest and heal so I can go out and run on marathon day and finish strong.   I have put in those long runs and, even if I need to run 5 mins and walk 5 mins throughout - I will finish and I will get my medal AND I will forever be able to say I have run a marathon.  and less than 1% of the population can ever say that so it's a pretty spectacular thing.  

October 9, I will become a marathoner.   Just don't tell my brain...I'm trying to convince it I'm only running the half so it will get off my case.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This Mother Can Run!

I just discovered this awesome online magazine for running moms!   Love it!   Best of all - it's free to subscribe.   If you're a running momma - you should definitely check this out!

Techy Tuesday: My new Bloggy Blog

Ok - I have been almost obsessed with ereading gadgets for a while now and I noticed that I have been flooding my mommy blog with reviews of these gadgets and accessories for them every Tuesday.  When my scheduled posts for Techy Tuesday started to stretch out for weeks and weeks with an e-reading thing...I decided it might be time to branch off with those.

So, after much searching for domain names, I finally started

I'm still going to be focussing on reading in this, my mommy blog...but anything to do with reading gadgets, accessories, websites...those will all move tot he new blog so I can just write about them whenever the urge strikes me instead of flooding this blog with them.

So, if you like the gadgetry talk - feel free to head on over and check it out and subscribe. And, if you are a gadget geek too and want to submit a post - I'm happy to have guest bloggers there too :)

Oh - and it's still a work in progress - please bear with me while I polish it up in the coming weeks :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

MOMday: Calgary Corn Maze

Hubby and I have been realizing lately that we haven't been enriching our daughters lives much since I went back to work...we're just too exhausted at the end of the week to want to go out and do anything that would be good for them developmentally.   Finally, this week I said "We MUST do this.  Our girlies NEED this!"   So the search was on to find something close to us that was suitable for toddlers.   That's when we decided that the Calgary Corn Maze might be just the thing!

So, as soon as I got back from my half marathon and got myself showered, we were back on the road to the maze - about 15 mins away from our house - just off hwy 22x.  The girlies were tired because they'd decided a nap wasn't in the cards that day, but they were excited to be going somewhere fun.  On Saturday, I had showed them photos of the maze and the other activities to get them excited and familiar with it, so when we pulled into the lot, they immediately started pointing out things.  They were so excited that it made it hard to pay to get in because they wanted to run and explore right away!

Admission is a little steep.  It was $12 each for hubby and I.  The girlies were free because they were under 3 years old.   If this was a place you were going to go to regularly, it would definitely make more sense to buy a seasons pass for $25 each.   It would pay for itself after 2 visits.

Once we were in the park, it was almost overwhelming to figure out what to see first.  We finally settled on the petting zoo.  The girls had been to that birthday party with a petting zoo earlier in the summer so we knew they would love that.   This time, we were greeted by much larger sheep and goats than had been at the birthday...but it was all good.  Buggie went around, hugging the sheep and the girls both enjoyed feeding the animals the pellets we bought from the little machine outside the pen.  Soon, the girls forgot all about their tiredness and were happily running around hugging the animals and splashing mud on themselves as they raced after them.   (In Buggie's words "Is yucky, mommy!" but she got over it when she was trying to pick up a chicken to hug it)

Then, it was on to the next enclosure where there were 3 kittens playing - the girls were so disappointed that they couldn't hold them but they still enjoyed watching them and playing with them through the wire.   The bunny enclosure was so cute - it was a huge netted area with several hutches built to look like a town.  Too cute.  The rabbits were a bit anti-social, though I admit we were there pretty late in the day on a Sunday and they had likely endured bunny hell with kids poking at them for two full days.

With the animals behind us, we took the girls over to the hay bale mountain where they could climb the bales to get to the top of the slides.  They hated that.  The hay was too "messy" and there were too many separations in the bales that their feet would get stuck in.   They really liked the tall tube slide, though.   Great fun.

We thought maybe it would be a good time to take the girls into the smaller maze.  It was actually perfect timing.  They were tired enough to stay close to us, but excited enough to race through the maze - twisting and turning as the paths divided and merged again.  There were activities hidden throughout the maze, but the girls didn't really have any interest in them - they were perhaps a bit young and just liked running around the corn.  It was hubby and my first time in a corn maze as well and I must say we were enjoying it as much as the twins did.   I did have a moment where I wondered if maybe my identical little blondies were making the adults have Children of the Corn flashbacks...but no one acted too alarmed when they came careening around the corners so I let the thought go pretty quick LOL.

We passed the entrance to the maze several times and gave the girls the option to stay or go each time and, when they were done with the maze, they chose to go and we carried on to find a new adventure in the park.  There was a little tractor "train" that gave rides every hour on the hour and we thought it might be fun to go on that..but we were 10 mins late and had missed out on that. 

The girls were super excited about the giant jumping pillows they had there, but they were overcrowded with big kids and there was no way we were going to risk the girls getting hurt by an exuberant 10 year old...perhaps those would be fun on a quiet weekday.   Missing out on the pillows meant we needed a distraction AND FAST!  Luckily, a cluster of tetherball poles did the trick and the girls soon forgot the pillows as they were winging the tetherballs around the poles.

Finally, the lack of a nap was really starting to become an issue so we made one more quick stop back at the petting zoo and then quickly headed on our way after Buggie splashed mud up her leg again and started freaking out about being "Messy, mommy. Is MESSY!"

All in all - there is a little something for all ages at the Calgary Corn Maze.   I'm actually glad that we took the girls when they were tired because if they'd been well rested, they would have been impossible to guide.   I think they had a good time, but I think they'll definitely enjoy it more if we go back next year when they are that much older and can comprehend more of it.  I also think it would have been better to go earlier in the day because by 3pm, there was alot more mud from people washing their hands etc.  Morning would be drier and some of the other stations would be easier to start playing in.

Race Report: Dinosaur Valley Half Marathon 2011

This was a tough race for me.   I registered purely for the cute medal and breathtaking scenery (obviously not paying a great deal of attention to the elevation chart).   The closer the date got, the more nervous I was, though.  September 11 is an emotional day for me regardless.  I had an overwhelming need for my family to be there and wasn't vocal enough about making it happen so I ended up going alone.  Luckily, with the help of a new friend, I made it through and finished this tough course.

So - bright and early on Sunday, I was on the road.   Got to watch the sun rise as I drove into it (don't mind the blur and the windshield bugs)

Just after 7am, I pulled into Horseshoe Canyon.  I can't got to Drumheller without stopping here

 Then it was off to package pickup at the community hall.   I was amazed by the number of signs welcoming marathon participants to town.   This race is a big deal for the community!

No one can say Drumheller doesn't know how to do swag.
Once I had my swag bag, I headed over to the Royal Tyrell Museum to park and get ready.

Staging area and where the after-party would be...
 The finish line at Tyrell...
 Even the A&W Bear was there!

After a warm up that was led by a local gym, we headed to the start.   The start line was a quick jaunt away at the little church.  One of the volunteers led us over there form the staging area, often warning us to watch our step because there is dinosaur poop EVERYWHERE!

There was a moment of silence to honour those lost in 9/11 - 10 years ago that day.  Then the mayor blew the horn and we were off.

The first 6K of this race was pure, unadulterated hell.   A steady uphill that only teases you with a downhill in the middle before making you climb a hill you can't see the top of.  I won't lie.  I walked it.   I overheard a girl at the start line say "I'll walk the hill if I acknowledge that I am running slower than I can walk it.  No use expending the extra energy that I could use later!"   Sounded like sage advice to me so I made sure I actually TRIED to put some effort into my walking.

Unfortunately, that climb meant we were actually running away from the pretty badlandy area and into this:

I looked at ALOT of gravel this race - over half of it was on dirt/gravel roads...and not good ones at that.

At about 6K, the terrain leveled off and I started to find my stride, following a pit stop and water break.  By this point, we were firmly in wheat field territory.

I was struggling.  Big time. Between 8 and 10K, I was starting to let my brain get the best of me.  I started to think if a half was this hard, I was in trouble for next month.   I may have actually convinced myself I am not ready for a marathon - that I wasn't dedicated enough to my training and should switch to the half next month (I late chalked this up to taper madness...I'm still doing my full - even if I have to run 5/walk 5 to do it.)

Truthfully, the timing of what happened next couldn't have been more perfect for my mindset.

I was plodding along at a comfortable pace.  Ready to accept a 3 hour finish on this one when a girl came up to me and said "I like your pace!"   I said "Me too..I think it's the only pace I've got today!"  

Anyway - she fell into step with me and we ran in silence for a bit.  Maybe 5 mins later she said "I hope you don't mind that I'm running with you.  I'm struggling and it helps to pace with someone"   I introduced myself and she did the same and we suddenly were runner girls for a day.

Shortly after we met, we hit a big downhill and then were suddenly ejected onto the highway at 13K.  It also brought us back into the scenery we signed up for.

My new friend, Minette.
It was hot on that highway.  They had us running WITH the traffic and on very narrow shoulders.   There was a bit of a breeze, but all it served to do was dry the sweat and leave me all salt-encrusted (seriously - when I brushed my arm - it was like a salt snowstorm).  At close to 18K, I realized how sunburnt I was feeling...

By 19K, Minette's legs were seizing up on her. so we were walking regularly.   Luckily, conversation was good so we just went with it.   At 20K, we decided it was time to just git 'er done...into the turnoff to Tyrell we went and soon we were in the finish chute and crossing the finish line.

My official time was 2:52:03.  My slowest half to date.  But it was just a training run so I don't really care right now.  I have plenty of years left for PRs and marathon training isn't the time to be achieving them.   Just finishing this one was a feat in itself and I'm glad I did it.

crispy, fried me

Cutest medal ever (well - no Footstock still gets that...but this one's still pretty cute)
This is a really well planned and executed race.  Nasty nasty hill.  That hill will keep me from doing the half in future years.  I would come back for a 10K, though (they get a medal too).  

and - lastly - some info from my best running trusty ol' Garmin (the new one does cool stuff like this)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Missing in Action...

Hey there, my dear bloggy friends.  I am so sorry I've been a bit missing in action all week.   Life has been interfering and I am completely drained.  From helping my MIL figure out her move back to Calgary, to eating a really bad takeout meal that had me in pain and bloated for 3 days, to phone support when the MIL got home and found her house had been robbed (luckily she lost very little), to Buggie deciding she could climb out of the tub on her own only to end up smacking her head on the toilet (gorgeous goose egg there - oy), to working on a new website (you'll hopefully find out about that next week)...something seemed to be distracting me every time I would have normally sat myself down to write. Something had to give and that something was my beloved Read.Write.Run.Mom.   

I'm hoping to be back to myself next week and ready to share more adventures and insights with y'all. :)

Friday Reads: Enchanted Inc by Shanna Swendon

Enchanted, Inc. (Katie Chandler, Book 1)
I can't even remember who recommended this series to me.  All I know is that I bought the books and then kept putting off reading them.  Finally, in the lazy last days of summer, I started the first book, Enchanted, Inc. 

This is chicklit for fantasy lovers at its best.  Imagine this - Texas gal relocates to New York City and ends up with horrid job  and horrid boss.   Then, out of the blue one day, a job offer comes through her email without much detail.  After deleting the first few instances of said message, girl ends up being enticed into an interview for a very unique company...and all because she has one very unique property...she possesses not even an ounce of magic in her entire body and is tehrefore immune - a perfect fit for verifying legitimacy in a world of magic.  Oh ya - did I fail to mention the company that wants her is MSI, Inc...a company who creates and sells magic spells to magical folk?

Katie is soon transported into a very unique job working for no less than Merlin himself, who has been dragged out of his long retirement because of a major crisis. From twarting magical spies to creating a unique marketing campaign - Katie is soon a very integral part of the company.  Now, if only she could catch the eye of Owen, one of the wizards working in R&D...

Deep reading, this is not...but for a fluffy and light summer read this is wonderful (this would be perfect for by the pool...I read most of it on a blanket in the courtyard at my work).  I enjoyed reading about Katie's adventures and misadventures within the world of magic. 

As summer stretches on into indian summer...I think I'm really going to enjoy reading the rest of the series.

Enchanted, Inc. (Katie Chandler, Book 1)Damsel Under Stress (Katie Chandler, Book 3)Once Upon Stilettos (Katie Chandler, Book 2)Don't Hex with Texas (Katie Chandler, Book 4)

Edited to add: I'm not going to review each of the books in this series separately, but I read all four of the books in just a few days and found it hard to put them down.  So FUN!   Highly reccommend this series for some light, fun reading.   I really hope there will be a book 5 that suddenly appears in 2012.