Thursday, 20 November 2014

Growing up

November is a busy month for us as a family.  Aside from the fact that I like to get organised for Christmas early and usually start planning around this time, we have both our boys birthdays this month.  X turned 12 on Monday, which is a little scary, and a little exciting.  It puts things into perspective, having one so close to teenage years.  Not much has really changed for him, he's still pre-pubescent.  I'm not going to lie, I'm kinda happy about that.  We still haven't entered the stage of stinky boy smells, armpit hair, facial hair, ...other hair... zits (and we know he's going to get those, if we're basing it on genetic history), voice-breaking, girlfriends... oh, that can definitely wait a little longer!  He's still not embarrassed to be seen with me and will happily call out/wave/run up to me if he sees me when surrounded by friends or fellow students.  I wonder when that will change?  I'm thoroughly enjoying the fact that I have completely converted him into a full-blown Harry Potter fan - he's reading the books (just started Prisoner of Azkaban) during school reading times and at breakfast, while I read to him (we're nearly finished - part way through Deathly Hallows) and we watch the corresponding movie after each book.  He had a sleepover for his birthday last weekend, and they chose to watch the Philosopher's Stone movie.  Winning!  Even T is reading the first book on my kindle, and he's already halfway through!  ::fist pump::  X is nearly as tall as me now, yet still comments on the fact that he's one of the shortest kids in school.  Honestly, it's quite daunting going to pick him up on occasion and being surrounded by adult-sized pre-teens.  When did they start getting so huge?!?  Okay, so I'm only 5'1" (fine, 5' 1/2") but still...  X has had a snarky, talk-back attitude for a very long time, so we're quite used to that already.  Can it really get any worse?  I guess we'll find out.  But oh, he's growing so fast.  This time next year we'll be preparing for his move into high school!  Eek!

T's 10th birthday (T E N T H!!!) is just over a week away.  He's still my little guy, much more the size of a six or seven year old, cuddly, affectionate and totally squishable.  Quiet and reserved (most of the time) but with a very cunning mind and a wicked sense of humour.  I can't even imagine what he'll be like as a teen, and I'm certainly in no hurry for him to get there at the moment.  Sure, I look forward to the days when they're all grown up and moved out of home and I realise that sounds horribly selfish - I like my own quiet space, with the freedom to do what I want.  I've never been one of those mums that devotes their entire existence to raising their children - I'm still my own person, with my own plans and goals - but that doesn't mean I love my boys any less.  I couldn't imagine my life without them, and am so very pleased we 'broke the mold' and had them in our early twenties.  We're still young enough to be comfortable with silliness and crazy antics if nothing else.  Being a little ridiculous and joking around can be just what you need sometimes.  Perhaps we missed out on some of the things people take for granted in their twenties and early thirties - socialising, going out for dinner, a weekend getaway just because we felt like it - but I've never been one for crowds and loud noise, and we can enjoy these things a little later in life.  All going to plan, the boys will be moved out of home when we're in our mid-forties.  Yes, we planned it well ;)

Our boys are getting to the age where they're starting to have some rather deep and philosophical discussions which certainly makes for interesting conversation at times, but they still have their favourite soft toys and blankets for bed.  Yep, I think I like the age they are right now.  They're not without their challenges (they never are) but I wouldn't change it for anything, and I'm looking forward (with some trepidation. I'll admit) to the next ten years.  Puberty.  Cars.  Relationships.






Fun times ahead...


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Things I'm loving right now

  • My new kitchen gadget - a spriralizer!!  They were on special for $30 at Stevens (down from the usual $80 or so) so I just had to buy one.  Yay for fresh, raw vege noodles!!!  So far we've tried courgette, cucumber and carrot noodles, and I'm planning on branching out and trying different vegetables like beetroot and eggplant.  It's also fun to experiment with different sauces to dress them in - so far I've tried a spicy tomato pasta sauce and a creamy avocado sauce with courgette, a peanut, coconut and lime dressing with carrot noodles, and last night's dinner was a lemon ginger dressing with cucumber and mint, with roasted broccoli and asparagus.  Yum :)  Look mum, all green!

  • Cold brew coffee - so easy to make.  I bought a packet of coffee filters so I didn't caffeinate my nut milk bags, and I made a small batch using my espresso grind Far East Coffee.  It would probably work a little better with a coarser grind, so next coffee order I think I'll get one bag espresso and one bag plunger grind.  I used this ratio to make it.  Deane and I tried it just with cold filtered water yesterday morning with breakfast.  It was a little weird and took some getting used to (I've only ever had hot coffee) but with summer coming, I think it'll be a regular feature in the fridge for iced coffees.  I had an almond milk iced coffee this morning (1:1 ratio almond milk to coffee mix, with a tiny dash of vanilla and maple syrup).  It was pretty good.  Think I'll experiment a bit with cinnamon and stuff next.  As for black coffee, I think I'll stick to the hot version.  I do have a rather fabulous espresso machine in my kitchen, after all...
  • Fresh berries!!!  Yay for summer fruits :)  Yesterday's breakfast was oatmeal with a dollop of coconut butter (which is also a new awesome purchase) and strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.  Soooooo good!

  • My new dumbbells.  I've been wanting some of these for aaaaaages - I'm not a boot camp kind of person (plus its expensive) and I didn't like using weights at the gym.  I've been pretty slack at strength training and toning over the last several months, which has resulted in that pesky runner's knee reappearing.  Now I have a set of 4kg dumbbells for use at home, along with a backpack shoved full of towels (last time it was full of yarn, lol!) to use as a medicine ball/sandbag.  No excuses now!

  • Nike+ Training Club.  See above point.  It's weird, but I actually think I missed this kind of workout.  I was reminded quite severely of how out of shape my muscles are last week.  I did a 16 minute HIIT workout on Friday, and had very sore legs on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  It didn't feel too bad at the time and I jumped on my bike for 20 minutes straight after for some cardio (since I can't run) but wow.  It definitely had an effect!  I need to do this more often.  I started a toning program using the N+TC app, and did a 30 minute workout on Tuesday using my dumbbells and backpack.  Wednesday was a 15 minute dynamic yoga session (challenging but good).  This morning was a 45 minute workout.  Definitely feeling it, but not to the extent that I was after Friday's workout.  It hurts, but it's a good hurt.  My knee is feeling better, but not 100%.  I'm going to keep resting it until next week just to be extra sure, then ease back into running slowly.  I have so many runs I want to do over the summer and do not want to be sidelined with injury!
  • Warmer weather - I've brought out my favourite summer skirt again, the one I bought in Thailand in 2010.  Fashion?  Bah!  I do not follow fashion!  I wear what I want ;)  Unfortunately, it's been raining a lot lately (Spring is officially my least favourite season, particularly in Auckland.  Too much rain!  I never thought I'd say that...)
  • My new bracelet - I grabbed a little bag of seed beads, some nylon thread and a small needle on Monday afternoon, suddenly overcome with the need to create something quick and easy.  The result?  This wraparound bracelet.  FYI, it's impossible to 'model' a bracelet on your own wrist without looking like a complete spaz, so here's a random weird picture of my arm, just casually draped on the kitchen bench...
Update: bracelet snapped this morning when I was putting it on.  Boo.  Need better materials...
  • Another A+ paper in the bag.  Yes!!  Just got the notification for the results of my third assignment yesterday - 90%.  The other two assignments for this paper both earned 86%, so it's a guaranteed A+.  Just waiting on the results of the last assignment for the other paper, which is averaging an A.
  • Wellington Chocolate Factory.  Recently devoured (over a few days) a block of coconut milk chocolate.  So good!  Not all their chocolate is vegan (the salted brittle caramel bar has organic butter in it), but most are.  It's nice chocolate, ethically sourced and produced, and the artwork on each of the blocks is beautiful.  Get you some!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Injury. But not that injury.

So.  Last week I conceded that I had an injury - a minor strain of the peroneal tendons in my left leg.  Well, those are fine now.  The rest from running did the trick and sorted it out nicely.  I started up a coaching program on my Nike app for a 10km, with the aim of moving on to the half training in time for Coatesville next March.  I had trash-talked on Facebook with a runner friend about what is and is not an acceptable half marathon time, and we'd agreed to run Coatesville with me attempting a sub 1:45.  My PR is 1:45:22, although that was a training run so it's not 'official'.  I figured that in order to get back to that pace level, I'd need a bit of hard work to build up - speed work, fartleks, tempo runs, hill training, yada yada.  The advanced training program fits that all in quite well.  It gives you something to follow rather than just winging it, which is what I usually do, and end up just running a bunch of LSDs (long slow distance) and mid-distance runs.  The week started out well - I ran the suggested 6.4km with a pick up in speed for the last 1.6km on Monday.  Well, sort of.  I was at the tail end of a nasty head cold so my energy levels weren't the best*.  Tuesday called for a fartlek run of 9.7km - 1.6km warm up, 4.9km fartlek running in two minute intervals (I alternated between 9kmph and 12kmph) then 3.2km cool down.  I used the treadmill for that, just to make it easier to alter pace and keep an eye on the timing, stretching it out to a nice round 10km.

Wednesday was supposed to be an easy 8km.  I geared up at 11am with the intention of heading along Tamaki Drive for an out-and-back, but got as far as Victoria Park before giving up and walking home.  Why?  Runner's Knee, back with a vengeance.  I had lunch and fluffed around for a while.  My knee felt much better and I considered doing a treadmill run instead, before Deane put the kibosh on that.  Fine, call it a rest day then...  Mope, mope, mope...

This morning I set the alarm for 5.30am, planning to run the out-and-back and catch the sunrise.  My knee felt perfectly fine.  I got out of bed and started getting dressed when it started to rain.  Back to bed!  After breakfast, sending the kids to school, and generally waffling around (eg: reading this post by Super Generic Girl and watching these videos about Mal Law's High Five-0 challenge and getting all inspired to run), I jumped on the treadmill to avoid the rain and run that 8km.  Guess what?  Big ol' ball o' Nope.  First 200m?  Fine.  Everything after that?  Ouch.  I stopped at 700m.  Lame!  You come to recognise the niggles that will go away and the ones that are going to persist and keep getting worse.  This was the latter.  Sigh.  The really frustrating thing is that it only hurts when I'm running.  The rest of the time it feels 100% fine, like I could just go for a run without any problems.  I guess I could look on the bright side, and see it as something that I've caught early and can fix relatively quickly.  At least I hope that's the case...

Strengthening exercises, stretching, cross-training.  That's what's happening in the next couple of weeks.  Oh, and Coatesville?  Not gonna happen.  Not because I won't be able to achieve that time, but because it's scheduled for the day after The Hillary (which I pre-registered for months ago).  I can't do both, and I'd far rather run 34km off-road than 21km on-road!  I'll try and beat my PR another day :)

Side notes:
My hair is getting longer - can you call this a pony tail?  LOL!!


I'm getting bored with the extra time and having Deane working at home most days meaning I can't take over the lounge and use it as a home gym.  I made the kids mini pancake kebabs for breakfast yesterday:



And I started this light cotton fingering-weight sweater last Wednesday:


I'm not sure if I have enough green to do all the stripes prescribed in the pattern, so I'm knitting the sleeves now to see what's left before continuing on with the body.  I have a feeling I'm going to run short, and the rest of the body (and the corresponding length of the sleeves) is going to be in the natural.  We'll call it a design feature ;)

Have a good week!  I hope your weather is better than Auckland's.  Spring can kiss my butt.  Bring on summer!

*I say nasty head cold, but I fared better than the rest of the family - my illness lasted a few days and didn't require any form of medication (although that could have something to do with my stubbornness), whereas Deane was a complete write-off for two full days, requiring some pretty heavy-duty cold meds, and was a whiney pain in the ass for a day or two either side.  Healthy eating and fitness for the win!!  

Monday, 3 November 2014

Volunteering

I volunteered at the Auckland Marathon registration on Thursday from 11 to 2.30, on Friday from 9.30 to 2.30, and on race day (Sunday) from 6.30 until about 1.15.  I had the BEST TIME!  It was crazy busy but sooooo much fun!  You start to feel like a broken record - you're repeating the same information over and over to all the participants at registration, and congratulating everyone left right and centre after they've finished their event, but it is such a good feeling being there to help people, knowing they appreciate your time and effort.  I must've said 'thank you' about a million times over the past several days.  I was on timing chip collection in the finish chute and saw the whole gamut - marathoners, half-marathoners, 10km and 5km runners/walkers, and all the kids doing their 2km run to finish off their marathons (which they complete over a month or two through their school, doing cross country running etc).  Some people were bummed that they didn't achieve their goal time, others were elated that they'd run a PB, and many were just so relieved and happy to finish!!  I saw some tears (happy mostly), people injured but determined to finish, one guy alternating between dry-retching into a bin and collapsing on the ground for about 20 minutes (he refused medical help), a few people completing their 100th marathon, and kids whose parents had been so obsessive about attaching their timing chip to their shoes it took a good five minutes to get them off!  Crazy ;)

I missed most of the people I knew who were running in the events, the finishing area was absolute chaos for most of the morning.  I did get to see Martin after he finished though, met a fellow Instagrammer (thearcherygeek) and saw a lady I'd been working with on Thursday at the half marathon registration desk.  

We were instructed not to remove timing chips from shoes ourselves (otherwise we'd end up stuck down there all morning doing the same for everyone) but many people were just so exhausted or sore that you kind of felt like you had to.  I would've felt bad making them do it themselves.  I must've removed at least 30 or 40 tags myself.  I was a little miffed at the few people who commented, in a not so nice way, that it should be done for everyone.  I understand their point of view, and this would be fine for a smaller event, but when you're dealing with tens of thousands of finishers it's really not practical.  Not to mention that if you were crouched down removing chips from 8.30 to 1 your back would be pretty stuffed by the end of it!

I also got a snarky look from a lady when I asked her and her group of five to move on from the chairs they'd been sitting in for the last 15 minutes to make way for other finishers.  She wasn't impressed.  I'm guessing she was a little oblivious to the fact that hundreds of people were filtering through and needed the seats, because she and her friends were too busy having a good old catch-up and chatting about the race.  Marathoners were actually standing around and waiting for seats so they could sit down and remove their chips, knowing they wouldn't be able to bend down without falling over.

And OMG the shambles when the kids started coming in - anxious parents everywhere, too impatient to wait until the kids had filtered through the finish chute.  We'd been warned about this (last year the hordes of parents actually broke the fencing!!) but nothing could prepare you for the mayhem that ensued.  Luckily that was fairly short-lived, since all the kids finished at around the same time, and we could return to regular-level adult chaos ;)

Crazy fun, exhausting, inspiring, sad, happy, frustrating, hilarious, entertaining (some of the costumes! Wow!)...  All the feels.  I would happily do it all over again.  Although next year I think I'd like to help at registration and then spectate for race day - I want to make a crazy sign and cheer like a mad woman, giving out high fives to everyone.  It will be awesome :)