April 2015

You may have noticed that I have a bit of an obsessive personality. *snort* Not for me “I should write a blog” but “I should write a blog for ten years and turn it into a career” and not just “I should take a few pictures” but “I should take a picture every day for years and become a photographer.” Why dip your toe in the puddle when you can fling yourself in the ocean?

I decided back in early April that it was time to get my overweight arse back on the health bandwagon, but this time my focus was less on what I was eating and more on what I was doing with my body. I kept reading articles about how a sedentary lifestyle was a huge health risk, and so I decided that while I would start counting calories again, my real focus would be getting my body moving more often.

On Easter weekend, I fished my FitBit back out of the drawer (we were on a break, but we’ve since made up) and I made my goal of 10,000 steps per day every day for EIGHTEEN DAYS IN A ROW. I’ve been using a FitBit since January 2013 and the longest stretch I’ve previously gone was only four or five days, so the streak was a huge accomplishment for me. That’s almost 8 km of walking every day, through the spring sunshine and the rain and that raw wind that just won’t quit.

For the best part of a month, I lived a wonderfully active life. I set up a reminder to move on my computer at work, and every 60 or 90 minutes I’d get up, walk the four flights of steps to the main floor, across the length of our building and back up again. I’d walk five blocks out of the way to get my coffee or park at the parking lot down the road from where I was heading to get in a few extra steps. I spent an hour-long conference call from home pacing the 16 steps from my bedside table through the ensuite bathroom and back again and logged over a thousand steps for it (not to mention a serious case of vertigo.) For one solid week I drove home as quickly as I could so I could have time to park the car at home and walk over to the boys’ school so we could walk home together – good for me AND good for them, win-win!

Look at me! I’m active! I’m in control. I’m happy!

Well, not so much. It’s hella work and time consuming to do all that walking, and I was so busy trying to get my steps in that other things started falling by the wayside. Blog posts? Can’t. Walking. Errands at lunch? Only those that include lots of steps. And god forbid the day started to wind down and I was nowhere near my step goal – the stress started to get to me. I can’t tell you how much of a relief it was to finally break the streak when I didn’t make my step goal this Friday.

I had been making myself crazy to get that line on the chart to turn green each day, going to ridiculous lengths to make sure my FitBit gave it’s little victory buzz to let me know I’ve reached 10K steps for the day. (Aside – after almost a year of wearing the FitBit Flex, you’d think I’d begin to be less startled when the thing goes off to mark 10K steps, but no. I have variously jumped, yelped, flinched, flung a wooden spoon into a pot I was stirring and nearly wet my pants when it buzzed unexpectedly. I think the worst is when I’m anticipating it – somehow it manages to wait for the split second my attention is diverted before it goes off and I’m always the most harshly startled on those days. More than once I’ve thought I had an angry bee in my sleeve – rather unlikely in the deep dark heart of January, but still.)

So there’s a finite amount of time here and I’m going to have to figure out a way to be productive (when everything I produce involves me sitting in front of a monitor) AND be active AND do all the other tasks required to be the chief operating officer of our busy household. And don’t even bother recommending one of those treadmill-desk things. I did consider it, for about eleven seconds, but I have a hard enough time overcoming gravity and my own clumsiness when I’m focused on what my body is doing – I’d cause myself grievous bodily harm on one of those contraptions.

The other thing I noticed is that I did not feel any mentally better while I was on my 10k/day streak. In fact, I felt emotionally ragged and raw for a good portion of that time. It’s entirely possible that it was a coincidence, but the day I broke the streak of green “I did it” lines was the most contented I’ve felt in weeks. Hmmm.

So, the moral of today’s story is don’t exercise I need to find a way to integrate moving my body into my daily routine that is sustainable without being slave to the green line of achievement. And maybe I need to learn to do some things without quite so much, um, enthusiasm. šŸ˜‰


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Since 2009, give or take a year, Lynn Jatania’s labour of love Blog Out Loud Ottawa (BOLO) has been forcing otherwise reticent bloggers out of their comfort zone and on to the stage to share their favourite blog posts of the preceding year. It’s always been one of the highlights of the year for me, offering a chance to connect in person with people on whom I have enduring cyber-crushes, and to hear new voices I’ve somehow managed to overlook.

I’m extra excited about BOLO this year because, for the first time since I infamously flashed the audience back in 2010, they’re letting me back on stage. Not only that, but they’re letting me be the emcee for the evening!

Did you know that since 2014 BOLO is an official event of the Ottawa International Writers Festival? This year, BOLO will take place at Christ Church Cathedral (414 Sparks Street) next Tuesday, April 28 starting at 6:45 pm.

Curious about who will be reading? You can see bios of all ten bloggers on the BOLO blog. I’ve had a sneak peek of what’s in store, and I promise you that this will be an amazing night filled with tender sighs and raucous laughter and just about everything in between.

Will I see you there? Or maybe given my misadventures on stage back in 2010, perhaps the question should be “how much of ME will you see there?”


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There is a very long story behind this photo which boils down to this: I am super proud of my boy Simon. He made the school basketball team, but in order to make it to early morning practices, he had to walk to school himself, which he did rain or shine – even a few days when he was sick. And when practice conflicted with his commitment to walk a neighbour’s dog in the mornings, he got up extra early so he could do both.

He’s #21, watching his shot sail into the net just as the buzzer sounded to end his shift.

Simon ball

I may have mentioned before that we’re not the sportiest family on the block but I’m delighted that the boys are slowly proving me wrong. And when they say that parenting means having your heart walk around outside your chest, this is what they mean. Sometimes your heart gets so big with pride that nothing can contain it.


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Photo of the day: Tiny flowers

by DaniGirl on April 19, 2015 · 0 comments

in Photo of the Day

Yay spring! These tiny babies are among the first flowers that come up in my garden in the spring. I got in close with my macro lens to throw the background out of focus and make the photo more about colour and shape.

tiny flowers

Here’s to another season of crawling around the grass on my hands and knees with a camera in my hand and a smile on my face. Did I mention YAY SPRING?!!?!


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You won’t be surprised how thrilled I am to welcome our newest bloggy sponsor: Points East Coastal Drive in beautiful Prince Edward Island! You don’t have to go very far back in my archives to see how madly in love we fell with PEI, and working with Points East Coastal Drive seemed like a perfect partnership – and gives me another excuse to talk about how amazing PEI is all the livelong day.

When we were planning our summer trip to PEI last year, we didn’t know anything about the Island. However, a bit of research revealed that the eastern side of PEI was a little more rural, a little more laid-back, and with an old-fashioned charm. In fact, the cottage we chose near Murray Harbour was at pretty much the south-easternmost point of the Island, and we spent the vast majority of our blissful week exploring the villages and attractions along the Points East Coastal Drive.

All of our favourite spots were in the Points East Coastal Drive region. Panmure Island:

PEI revisited

Basin Head:

Souris and Basin Head PEI

Georgetown:

Adventures in PEI

St Peter’s Bay and PEI National Park at Greenwich:

Adventures in PEI

And of course, Souris:

At the Flavour Shack

We loved everything about this region – the red dirt roads cutting through rolling green fields, the breathtaking coastlines, the friendly and welcoming Islanders. And when we booked our 2015 summer vacation, we knew we wanted to stay in the Points East Coastal Drive region.

If you’re considering a summer getaway this year, I can’t say enough good things about the Points East Coastal Drive and the terrific resources they have to help plan your vacation. Need a place to stay? They have a list of accommodations as well as some package deals. If you’ve already booked your cottage but are looking to plan your adventure (this is my favourite part of vacation planning!) check out the day trips and discovery drives.

Or you could do what we did: choose a loose destination or direction, and follow the happy starfish signs along the road that map the Points East Coastal Drive to guide you to your next adventure!

Want more information? You can order a free Points East Coastal Drive Tour Map and the Prince Edward Island Visitor’s Guide from the Points East Coastal Drive site. And can I tell you that the printed map is the Best! Map! Ever! We love to explore and hate to take the same route twice, and this paper map was 1000x more useful than any app. In fact, crumpled and marked with coffee stains and sand and sunscreen though it was, it remains one of my favourite souvenirs from our trip last summer.

Hey, I just realized we’ll be arriving in PEI exactly three months from today. Time to get serious about our vacation obsessing planning! šŸ™‚

So, who else is going to PEI this summer?


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I heard on the radio today that carbon monoxide detectors are now mandatory in Ontario, and it reminded me of this old blog post which I thought would be worthy of re-sharing in my ongoing celebration of my 10th anniversary of blogging. From 2011: Lucas’ most excellent day.

A day that starts with fire trucks in the driveway is a pretty exciting day for a toddler. When you get to the part of the day that has a boy-sized carton filled with packing peanuts? You’ve hit Nirvana. Such is the day Lucas is having today.

It started innocuously, and early. It was just before 7 am. Lucas and Simon were watching TV, Beloved and Tristan were still sleeping, and I was two sips and four pages into my morning coffee and newspaper routine, when I heard the chirp. I cocked my head, listened to the silence for a minute, and then went back to my paper. When it chirped again. I let it chirp two more times before I finally resigned myself to tracking it down.

I figured it was a smoke detector, but when I followed the aural trail, I ended up in the furnace room. I looked all around for the smoke detector with depleted batteries I was expecting to find, but saw nothing. Well, nothing except the 19 year old furnace and the five week old hot water heater. I watched the flashing LED on the hot water heater for a while, and tried to decode the rather unintelligible translation of the signal. Greek. So, I picked up the phone and called the gas company who installed the hot water heater on the day we moved in to the house.

The attendant I spoke to was perplexed. “There’s nothing in the manual for a chirping alarm,” she told me. We chatted as I walked around the hot water heater, trying to figure out exactlly what was emitting the sound. She was just reassuring me that it was likely nothing of concern and getting ready to book a service appointment when I looked up from my squatting-between-the-furnace-and-hot-water-heater-in-my-pyjamas position and saw it.

“Hang on,” I told her as I peered at it, trying to read the writing beside the red flashing LED. I had to stand on the tool box to resolve the label. “Um,” I said, “it’s not the hot water heater that’s chirping. It’s a carbon monoxide detector.”

“Oh,” she said, and in that syllable I heard a complete about-face in her demeanor. “Well, that’s a bit of an emergency, then.” Before I knew it, she had me conferenced-called in with the fire department, and the fire department and the gas company were on the way, and we were supposed to ventilate the house and go wait outside. My first thought was for my coffee, waiting patiently on the side table. My second thought was for Beloved, still snoring in blissful oblivion.

And then we were all five of us outside, sitting on my grand verandah, watching the fire trucks pulling up. Cuz nothing says good morning like fire trucks in the driveway at 7:07 in the morning. The boys, of course, were delighted with this spectacular break from our morning routine. Me, though, I’d begun to feel a little uneasy. The adrenaline rush of, “You must evacuate your family from the house” had begun to wear off, and I had a niggling little worry I was trying to suppress.

Sure enough, when the rescue truck driver did his walkthrough of the basement, he detected no measurable levels of carbon monoxide. He did, however, detect a detector with failing batteries.

Yep. The fire department and the gas company came for a pre-breakfast visit to help us change the batteries in the carbon monoxide detector. In my defense, it was actually the gas company who called the fire department. Had I not been on the phone with them and panicked by the sudden onset of their sense of urgency, I would likely have thought to test the batteries before calling in the civil authorities.

Heh. At least it makes for good blog fodder, right? My humiliation for your entertainment.

And THEN! As if that weren’t enough excitement for one day, a REALLY BIG BOX arrived mid-morning. I’ll save the story of what was in the box for tomorrow, but look how much enjoyment a curious toddler can derive from one box and a whole shitload of packing peanuts.

“Hmmmm, what are these things?”

Lucas and the packing peanuts - 1 of 6

“Hey! This big box is FULL of them!”

Lucas and the packing peanuts - 2 of 6

“They squeak when you walk on them!”

Lucas and the packing peanuts - 3 of 6

“Get these things out of my box!”

Lucas and the packing peanuts - 4 of 6

“Wheeee, I’m upside down!”

Lucas and the packing peanuts - 5 of 6

“Yeesh, who’s gonna clean up this mess?”

Lucas and the packing peanuts - 6 of 6

And at naptime I carefully picked up each damn one of those styrofoam peanuts and put it back in the box to save for another day. If you’re looking for Christmas gift ideas this year, you might want to check the packing supply aisle in the post office!


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In which she revisits her fitness goals (alternate title: Sisyphus redux)

8 April 2015 Me, only better

Alright, I give up. I charged my FitBit and I started tracking calories again. I guess I’m back on the wagon. It was just shy of a year ago that I capitulated to counting calories with My Fitness Pal, and it did work for me. From a high of 183 lbs, I worked my way […]

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Photos of the day: Colouring Easter Eggs

3 April 2015 Photo of the Day

I‘ve taken so. many. photos of the boys colouring Easter eggs over the years. We use the same cups every time, the same type of dye, and the same table. I decided to edit these ones a little more creatively when this first one of Tristan spoke to me – you might be a teenager, […]

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