Friday, November 30, 2012

Nanowrimo Fail...but not really

Well, here we are - November 30...and no completed Nano novel to show for it.

I don't even feel bad about it.  This month was too hectic to get much done on it and at least I have a new idea out of it that I intend to run with.  After Goofy, when I am in recovery mode, perhaps I will have some time to hammer away at the manuscript and see where the adventure takes me.

Did you do Nanowrimo this year?  Did you win? 

Friday Reads: The Elf on the Shelf by Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda A. Bell

The Elf on the Shelf was something I had heard about a few years ago, yet never really "got" until this year when our day home had one and the kids loved coming into the house and immediately started to hunt down the elf.

I immediately knew we had to have it!

Luckily, the Chapters nearest my work had a zillion of them in stock so a quick lunchtime trip netted me our new family tradition.

I am posting this review a bit prematurely...because I haven't actually read the book to my kids yet nor introduced them to their elf.  That will happen tomorrow, on December 1st, when we officially kick off Christmas in our house.  I wanted to get this review in early, though, in case it sounds so good that you think your family might like to incorporate it this year as well.  Just giving you mommas a little extra time.

First, let me talk about the book.

The book sets up the tradition perfectly - in its simple rhyme it tells the kids the elf's purpose and how it carries out the job.   It also outlines the rules for the elf - they can talk to it but no touching...or else it might lose it's magic.  The illustrations are bright and colourful, depicting the children spending time looking for the elf or talking to it...or the Elf carrying out its duties with St. Nick.

It is not a long story and the set includes a hardcover book with paper pages.  My only wish might be to have it in a board book instead for durability and so my kids couldn't destroy it. 

And then the Elf.

Our set came with a girl elf, which I think is perfect for my two little girls.   Honestly, it isn't much to write home about because it has a basic red felt body, classic elfin face topped with a red and white hat and a white felt collar around her neck.   The box says you can purchase a skirt separately, but it makes me wonder why they wouldn't just include it with the girl elf.  I'll probably knit her one.

You can name your elf and then register it on the Elf on the Shelf website.  I am looking forward to seeing what my kids come up with for her name.

The idea behind the elf is that each morning, the children can hunt for the elf to see where she has gone in the night and what she's gotten up to after her trek back to the North Pole.  There are a ton of online resources to help inspire parents to get creative with their elf's adventures.  Pinterest has a zillion ideas.  I plan to introduce our elf by having all of the holiday decorations in boxes in the living room and the elf sitting on the shelf with a note giving us heck for not having our house decorated for Santa yet!  I think that will go over huge with my girls, who have been begging for the Christmas tree for about a month now.  Now I just need 23 more ideas and we'll be set :)

The set is not recommended for use with children under 3 years of age.  If you want to follow the adventures of my family's elf, you can check it out on my Instagram

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The 2nd Annual Holiday Book Roundup

I know there has been a bit of a dry spell with my book reviews.  I've been so busy making holiday gifts that I haven't had time to read anything except magazines lately. 

Last year, I dedicated the month of December to reviewing holiday books for kids and, GUESS WHAT...I'm doing the same thing again this year!  Starting tomorrow!

So, to see what you are going to be looking forward to this year - here's a sneak peek at my haul from a trip to Chapters earlier this week!  I try to choose a variety of holiday-themed books so my girlies will have something fun to read.

And, in case you want to see the reviews from last year - here they are (click the images to link to the reviews):

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Just One More KM

That was all I needed to hit 1000km for the 2012 (so far) measly kilometre. And nope - I didn't have time so I didn't do it.  That's ok - I'm going to try to run again tomorrow and we'll have confetti and ice cream with sprinkles to celebrate!

Today, I did this - running the reverse of my usual Southwood Loop to complete this week's mojo challenge.

and a funny thing happened on this slow, uneventful run.  All of the extreme soreness I have had from my 28k plus my flirtation with Jillian....vanished.  I feel better now than I have all week.  Sometimes it proves you just have to get out there.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Super Secret Jillian Michaels Workout Society

For months and months my work friend, LO, has disappeared most lunch hours to workout.  She belongs to The Super Secret Jillian Michaels Workout Society (not it's real name) and they were not accepting new members, despite me and L (my work partner) begging and pleading to be let in.

Then, last week, LO comes over and asks what we are doing at lunch on Monday.   We shrugged and asked Why.  And she asked if we wanted to come workout with the Society.   Surprised at this turn of events - we both quickly agreed that YES - we wanted in.   I need more strength training and L is getting married next year and wants to look her best.

But we were skeptical - why could we join, all of a sudden?   Turns out, she's been trying to get the other Society members to agree to let new blood into the group for a while now.  With 2-3 other members suddenly not able to make it out anymore - the spots had officially opened up.  We were on probation...but we were tentatively in.

So, today, we attended our first meeting of The Super Secret Jillian Michaels Society.   It consisted of 5 women in a large meeting room with a laptop.  BYOD (Bring your own dumbells) and be prepared to sweat.

In a word?  AWESOME!

In another word?  OUCH!  Perhaps 2 days after 28k was a bit soon for something that intense...but it was still awesome.

I'll be back.

From Beddington to Brentwood and Back Again

Saturday was our Team's craft sale at Beddington Mall. I was there at 9am to set up and for the first hour of the sale, but I knew I would need to leave to get in my long run for the week.  After how I was feeling last week, I thought I would aim for 20k and see how it went.

The first shift...Anna, Alex and myself
So, by 11am, I was on the road and heading toward Nose Hill Park.   I really wanted to get the Mojo Challenge done this weekend and figured my best hope was to hit the park.

Of course, by the time I got to 14th street, I had a choice to make...


Or nice clear level paved path...

Pathway won on that one.  

It was such a gorgeous day that soon I had my sleeves pushed up and was feeling a bit over dressed.

Gorgeous view of downtown from 14 street.

My new Road ID (bday gift from Hubby) - just for the sake of sharing...

When I got to John Laurie, I was ready for a pitstop...the only problem is that there aren't really facillities so I ended up ducking into the concealment of these trees.  Figured I could call my trudge through the snow "trail running"

And then I was on my way again.  The 10k mark came and, instead of turning around I figured I'd go another 5k and  try for would have been such a shame to waste such a beautiful day.

It seemed like everyone was out with their dogs to enjoy the pathways.  I played with so many pups along the way and had a million running companions for 10ft bursts.

When I reached the Charleswood pedestrian bridge...I figured I should maybe get in a bit of trail so I can honestly complete the challenge.  So I crossed over into the park.

It was so quiet and peaceful there (especially after running through the off-leash area).  I figured I must be close to the sand dunes I used to paint when I lived in the area - so I took off in that direction to seek them out.  About 15 mins in, I realized I was farther west than I should be so turned back.

And ran into wildlife...

I've run into deer on runs before.  Fish Creek Park is full of them and they usually keep to themselves.   Not so much with this little herd (there were 2 more females than show in the photo).  As soon as they saw me - they headed straight for me.  A sure sign that people are feeding the deer in Nose Hill.  I wouldn't have been so nervous if it had just been the females. My experience has shown me that they are curious but mostly harmless.  It was that male who had me a bit concerned.   If he had gotten spooked, I might have been charged.  Since I was solo and not wanting a good goring to be a part of my run, I yelled at them to back off and hoped to scatter them a bit before they got too close.  Luckily, one of the females spooked at my yelling and she took off and the male followed her.

And then I high-tailed it out of the park.

Back over the bridge and carrying on west a bit further before I was to turn around.

If you've been following me a while, you know that mid-run math is not my strong suit.   A naggy little voice kept telling me to head right to Shaganappi trail and I didn't listen.  I told myself that if I turned back at Brenner, it would be enough to get me to 30k.

Until 14th street, I got to run with all of my Canine Companions again.  I chose to walk up 14th street hill because I was tired and starting to feel REALLY hungry.   The walkbreaks came often after this point, but I carried on and made the best of it.

The one thing I am finding fascinating about this training season is how much better I am doing mentally than I did on my first Marathon.  While I try to avoid doing the long distances on my own, they are not as mentally draining as they were last year.  Perhaps it is knowing that I will have a group there at the event.  Or maybe it is the doing it for a cause that is bigger than me...I don't know.   All I know is that the training is going really well.  As long as I can stay healthy through December, I will be in the homestretch.  Less than 50 days to go!

I made it back to Bedding ton mall in just under 4 hours.  28k on the books. I think all of the hills make up for the lost 2k...   and I was just in time to see people packing up early.   When my team told me that we still had 60+ jars of cookie mix in a jar and I could see at least 10 tutus hanging up - I was a bit worried that we hadn't done very well.   But baked goods saved the day and our team still made around $750!    

The Garmin Geekery:

and now I only have 5 more kms to go to make 1000kms for 2012!  That's pretty exciting and I intend to do it on Tuesday!

MOMday: Kid-Generated Holiday Cards

My kids are so excited about the upcoming holiday season - they are practically vibrating!!!!   At 3.5 years old, you would think I was the meanest momma in the world for making them wait until *GASP* December first to put up the tree!  and *GASP* that daddy won't hang up lights on the front of the house (though we MAY end up giving into that one).

So, me and Pinterest were wracking our brains about how we could give them a taste of the holidays without bringing on the full holiday house.  Enter: the Kid-Generated Holiday Card.

This is the Pinterest version

The idea is simple.   Buy pre-made cards (if you are lazy like me).  A box of 50 white cards was about $7 at Wallyworld.

Next - fill a paper plate with green paint

Have child squish paint onto hand and then place one handprint onto each card.

If you are really picky, you could hold their fingers together and make it as tree-like as possible.  I'm so not that controlling.  The only thing I insisted on was making Doodle use her left hand and Buggie use her right...that way we'd know who's hand was on which card.

Turned out we are sending out A LOT of right-hand trees this year since Buggie is pretty much a handprint machine...the left-hand trees, however, are pretty nice prints...she really took her time with each.

Once they were dry (We left them over night) - I took a brown crayon and drew on some "stumps" at the bottom of each handprint.

Then I handed them sheets of star stickers and had them "decorate" their trees while watching Winnie the Pooh Christmas.

Doodle's Decoration-heavy tree
Buggie's Minimalist Style
All-in-all, this was a fun craft to help tide the girls over until next weekend when we actually decorate our house.  Total cost was under $10 for 50 cards.

Now, I suppose that means I have to get my butt in gear to actually get them filled out and mailed...

Mojo Jar Monday: Running Backwards

Ok - it's a bit blurry, but here's the mojo monday for this week.
Run the route you run most often, but run it backwards

and by backwards - I think Nikki meant in reverse....but if you think it will rev your mojo up by running it backwards - do whatever floats your boat ;)

I DID complete last week's trail challenge on Saturday - I just haven't had a chance to post about my run yet.  Sometime today I hope.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1) I have not run since Saturday.  Between IBS issues and my energy dropping so low that I suspect I am coming down with a cold - I just haven't had it in me.   I talked to my coach about it and she said I am still going to be ready for Goofy - even if I end up having to take my long run off this week to deal with getting better.

I hate it.   I had hoped to break 1000km in 2012 this weekend...Guess we'll see how I am feeling.  I'd still like to get that 30k in...

2) I am claiming the storage area under the stairs in my house to turn it into a craft storage area for me.   I lost my studio when we decided to take the house off the market (We now need that area for a guest room since separating the girls) and I have been going stircrazy without a place to call my own.  So I am rectifying that.   I'll post before and afters when it's done :)

3) My daughters are in full-on Christmas mode.  Their spirit is contagious but I am seriously trying to keep the decorations hidden until December 1.   Then we can kick the holidays off in style.   It's unbelievably hard though.   Every time they see a house all done up, they are asking when we can do ours!   And they discovered that there is holiday music on the iPod they have for gaming....

This is going to be a fun holiday season!  I love seeing it all anew as they discover the magic!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Write Stuff Wednesday: Nano Update - Week 3

Where did week 2 go, you ask...well - here's your answer

To say I have had absolutely no time to write might be a lie.  I've had some time but never deemed it enough to really concentrate.   My training load and my fundraising commitments (and birthday) have kept my hands and body otherwise occupied.

So, with 9 days left in Nanowrimo - if I am going to finish this novel, I will need to write 4268 words per day.   I suppose it could still happen.  Maybe this Sunday I will breathe a sigh of relief to be done my last fundraiser event and will just type away the hours.   At the very least, I'd still like to get half way. If I don't - I will putter at it throughout the winter.  I kind of like the direction it is taking and it could be a lot of fun to work on for a while.

Maybe it will end up being the book I publish as part of my 36 never know.

Monday, November 19, 2012

22k and a Kickoff

I am posting this so late...what an insanely busy weekend.  Between running, my team fundraiser event and my birthday - I didn't open my laptop once!!!

I had 22k to do and the Peace Love Cure Virtual Run to complete.  I knew that Kerry, one of my team mates from Nike in 2010, was running her 32k in prep for Honolulu Marathon so asked her if she'd like some company for a third of it.  Soon, we were planning up a meeting point and looking forward to a run and some great conversation.  She was planning a point to point route so I would run 11k with her and then turn around and run the other 11k alone as I returned to my car.

I figured I would park at the Zoo and be ready to run by 8:30 when Kerry would pass by there on her route.
 My timing was actually perfect.  I got there, parked, made a quick pitstop and sat in the car for about 3 minutes getting my stuff ready then headed to the path just in time to see Kerry coming around the curve.

Falling into step with her, we went around the zoo and came out near the Stampede Grounds.   Kerry had committed to popping by the TNT Spring Season kickoff at the Tech Shop so we tried to time it so we'd arrive in time for their first team run.  Unfortunately, we were early and they were running late so we ended up arriving in time for the speeches. 

It is always great to spend time around the Team - no matter what season.  I am finding it hard to stay as connected to the cause while doing this through flex. Despite running in honour of so many real people who I have known personally or who have meant the world to my friends - not having a weekly group training session and mission moment has meant I don't have the constant reminder to keep going.   Being at the kickoff brought it home to me again. This Goofy thing is about so much more than me.  It wasn't an event I would have chosen for myself but it is a challenge I have taken on to try to help others take on the challenge of fighting for their lives.  I don't want cancer to win.  It was good to have that point driven home again.
A cause dear to us both...

By the time we hit the road again, we had completely cooled down and were kind of starting all over again.

Kerry and I carried on to the bridge to Sandy Beach and then I turned around and left her to complete the second half of her longest long run.

I popped in my Yurbuds and headed back the way we had come.   It was a good thing I had them in my bag and Rdio on my iphone.  By the time I hit 17k, I was seriously lacking for motivation and my legs were really dragging.  I don't know if I am getting sick or if I am just taking a really long time to recover these days, but since I rocked my 32k - it's been a tough slog.   I'm working on it, though.  Hoping the Mojo Monday that Nikki drew today will be a nice boost.

I was really happy to see Stampede Park felt like the finish was just around the corner...

I'm not going to lie - from 18k onward - I walked more than I ran.  Seeing the zoo across the river made me feel done...

and, only in Calgary...guy in shorts in the was warm.  Just not shorts warm.

I got back to the car in almost exactly 22k despite a slightly different return route.

And, as I took a shortcut up a little hill to my car - I made a new friend...

Then I headed home to prepare and get ready for my big fundraiser on Saturday night.  Spoiler alert - It was a HUGE success - raising over $2500. My team has officially met all of our individual fundraising minimums.   Now we plan to bring 'er home and raise some serious money over and above with the rest of our team fundraisers!  100% goes directly to the cause at this point!  you can donate to me at

Every dollar counts!

Garmin Geekery:

Mojo Jar Monday - Hit the Trails

Find yourself a trail and get in touch with nature.

Ummm..yeah.  About that.

Winter has kind of set in here so I'm not sure how many trails are still open...but I am running my 30k out of Beddington on Saturday so I am going to try to incorporate some of Nose Hill into that route to get the trails in.  If they are too snowed over, I may be deferring this challenge...hopefully all the dogwalkers have made a decent dent up there...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

36 Resolutions

For my entire life, I think I was made to be 36.   And now, today, I AM!   I love the number.  I love that it is Year of the Dragon again.  I love that it feels like the perfect age to be.

And I feel like it is going to be a great year!

I really want to kick off 36 right and I decided that I wanted to give myself something to do and celebrate all year long.   I'm really goal oriented so it almost seems a no-brainer to have 36 Resolutions!  To finish the list in a year, I just need to do 3 of them each month.  Easy peasy.

Some of them will take months to complete.  Others, I can finish in seconds.  The big thing, though, is that they are all things I have wanted to do and now I am going to actually do them instead of sitting around expecting them to do themselves!  There won't be new years resolutions this year - just adventures from my birthday resolutions!  I can't wait!

So - in no particular order (despite the neatly ordered list) - my 36 resolutions for 36 year old me!
  1. Do something interesting with my hair
  2. Rework my home gym
  3. Tune up my bike
  4. Take the girls to Zoolights
  5. Make amazing halloween costumes
  6. Plan a monthly date night
  7. Volunteer at a race
  8. Go thrifting once each month
  9. Learn to knit properly
  10. Take a shopping trip to the States
  11. Invest in a perfect black dress
  12. Get another tattoo
  13. Leave Facebook again
  14. Get an instagram poster printed
  15. Stay at the Banff Springs Hotel
  16. Go on an amazing hike
  17. Take my kids camping
  18. Re-learn how to draw and paint
  19. Create an outdoor reading area
  20. Plant a rose garden
  21. Redecorate the master bedroom and bath
  22. Train for a specific goal race
  23. Create an indoor reader's sanctuary
  24. Try to have an article published in a magazine
  25. Try standup Paddleboarding
  26. Go snowshoeing with hubby
  27. Go ice skating with my girls
  28. Visit Ontario in the Fall
  29. Self Publish One Book
  30. Run a 2:15 Half
  31. Run a sub-60min 10k
  32. Run a Sub-30min 5k
  33. Run a continuous 10k
  34. Run the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World
  35. Complete a home yoga challenge
  36. Complete 8 weeks of Rip:60
Wish me luck!