Feb 28, 2011
It's been a little hectic.
At the same time I've been battling a sort of controlled neurosis. As I swing back toward confidence I'm not sure the exact relationship between the hectic and the neurotic; I just know a relationship exists and I'm trying to keep track of hints & tips I'm picking up along the way...
To-do lists are my friend. Lately I take 10 minutes on Sunday night and plan my week. I look at my monthly calendar, my ongoing to-do list, and my upcoming weekly calendar, inserting tasks where I can fit them. It has helped immensely with being realistic about how much I can get done, and what can be put off & for how long...
Simplifying my life can mean lots of different things. I resisted getting a steam mop for a long time cuz I was afraid of adding another gadget to the pile. But guess what? In purchasing one fabulous steam mop I was able to get rid of the broom, mop, & Swiffer (OK I gave the swiffer to the kids), and I reduced the job in question from 2-3 hours to less than one. With no added chemicals. Much simpler...
Sleep is probably the second most important factor in my productivity, after the to-do lists. Some folks can stay up later to get more done after the kids are in bed. When I try this more than very rarely, I end up pretty much useless in the daytime. I kept beating myself up for falling asleep while putting the Littler One to bed (our version of sleep training involves lying next to him while he falls asleep in his own bed, but that's another post), but eventually I said to myself, "Skerrib, if you're falling asleep you're obviously tired. Just admit that you're not going to do anything after the kids' bedtime." So I stopped planning tasks for the evening (other than, like, AWANA), and on the occasions where I manage to stay awake I have used the time for "me" stuff such as reading and flossing and whatnot. Badda-bing, badda-boom. It's not as though everything is suddenly on a tight schedule and I'm swimming in spare time, but stuff is getting done more often and my house is a little less of a disaster a little more of the time...
**Side story--one night a few weeks ago we held FOCUS group (church small group) at our house. One of the ladies said, "Skerrib, I know something's different from the last time but I'm not sure what. Tell me what you did." And I replied, "I cleaned. I'm not even kidding." And it was the truth--I couldn't think of a single thing that was different, other than the fact that I had had more time than usual to tidy & vacuum before the group came over. I think she might've felt bad, but I hope not 'cuz I thought it was hilarious. End side story**
Right after Christmas I went through the toys and took out a bunch to toss/give away/donate. Last week I took another portion and set them out of reach. The rate of disaster in the basement is markedly less since then. I'm seriously tempted to have another go-round at weeding out.
On top of that, the Littler One is not getting any toys for his second birthday. We've asked the grandparents to give to his college fund, and we are getting him a couple books, and that's it. IF we have a friend-party I'm going to ask people to bring PJ's and books to donate to the Pajama Program in place of gifts. I'm brazenly swiping this idea from a friend who did it for her daughter's 2nd birthday (it worked swimmingly for them). Now, whether or not the grandmas will be able to adhere to our request is another question; they are certain the boys spend hours sitting in the basement with absolutely nothing to play with, and therefore need more stuff!! But the intent is there, so that's a start...
I had some conflict to work out recently, and I found it less tiring than the hecticnicity. For me, this is progress. By no means was it easy or fun, but I told myself "Skerrib, you are a grown-up and you can do this, and you have to do it if you want to feel healthy and sane." I think there's a lot to be said about regular, healthy challenges. For example, I hate talking on the phone. I generally try to avoid it, but if I am too successful at avoiding it, I tend to sink into fear over it, and then things get messy. By contrast, I had a couple telecons for work over several weeks, and by the last one I was feeling pretty decent about talking with my work peeps.
Kind of like when I am tired and feeling like poop. If I stay home and lie around I will generally feel more & more sluggish, but if I take a jog--no matter how slow--I will feel at least a little better every time...
...Speaking of which, I tried out my fancy new racing flats today, for about 10 minutes of highly-successful zero-drop running after a short-ish jog around town (including the library, 'cuz the Littler One and I are awesome). It's right in there with the healthy challenge thing. It's something a little new & different, but not too crazy or strenuous, and it makes me love running even more. The whole thing just makes me happy...
The Cat Daddy started putting the Littler One down to sleep yesterday. This also makes me incredibly happy, since the Littler One goes down much, much easier for the Cat Daddy, and it also lets us drop another nursing session from the routine. By now you all know I am a huge advocate of breastfeeding, and I firmly believe in each mom/baby deciding for themselves when to wean (instead of an arbitrarily-prescribed age with little consideration to the mom or baby's individual needs)...and I can say confidently that it is time for the Littler One to be on this weaning path, no matter how gradual.
There was some talk of mutiny on the Cat Daddy's part, however. I think he finds it tiring to put the Littler One to sleep. I plan to, um, talk it out with him so we can figure out a solution, which I really hope doesn't involve reinstating the bedtime nursing session. 'Cuz that would suck. On several levels...
Feb 22, 2011
I'm embarking upon what you might call the next chapter in my hippie-fication. Hippie-ness? Hippie-something, because now, after steel-cut oats, breastfeeding, and home birthing, I'm gonna start running barefoot. More or less.
It started several months ago, when I had a couple visits with my physical therapist for my same old back/butt/SI issues. She whacked me back into place--except for the dang sacrum--and we pretty much determined that exercises are the key to my feeling as well as possible until the time comes for me to get needles stuck in my butt and whack the sacrum into submission. But that's another post.
So the PT told me how she had started running barefoot, and how much she was enjoying it. And while she played college soccer, she was not a runner before. But now she runs barefoot, and actually looks forward to running, and she thought it might be a good fit for me, and that I should consider trying it.
I was listening with my ever-so-slightly skeptical Uh-huh's, but I gave her more credit than I would give average-crazy-runner, being that she is a PT (a good one), and wouldn't just embark on something without being reasonably sure that she wasn't about to injure or maim herself. I mean, she went to PT school and knows a lot about joints & muscles & stuff, so I trust her judgement. Anyway, she told me about a book she read called Born to Run, and said I should read it. She gave me an impromptu book report on it, and everything.
Well, after that I was intrigued. It so happened that I had some Target store credit, which I used to order the book online. And then I read it, and then I realized I most certainly had to give this barefoot running thing a try.
The theory goes that people have been running for thousands of years, and it's only in the past 30-40 years that we started wearing special shoes for it, so how on earth did Joe-Caveman do all that running without hurting himself, while today we have to worry about pronation, and plantar fasciitis, and popping knees, and stuff?
Turns out there's this tribe in Mexico called the Tarahumara (or Raramuri, depending on the situation and context) who are a running people. They live in the canyons of Mexico, and you have to go thru some serious danger to even find them, but they are a peaceful people, sticking mostly to themselves. They'll get together and have 60 mile races for fun. To warm up at school on chilly mornings, the kids will play a running game with a wooden ball for roughly 4 miles. Just to get the blood flowing, you know.
So in a nutshell, it's all about form. Basically (in true American style), by creating all these cushioned shoes for ourselves, we've actually weakened the muscles that are intended to protect our feet & joints & stuff during running. Probably the biggest difference is that our big ol' shoes allow us to run with a heel strike, which is a big instigator of a whole lot of forces and stresses and a huge contributor to a lot of running-related injuries. Take away most or all of the cushioning, and your body finds the form it needs to strengthen the muscles needed to cushion its own joints as well as possible.
That's the theory anyway. It's still pretty controversial in some circles, and some folks are adamantly against it, but I think there's a lot to it. One of the reasons I love running is for its simplicity, and to simplify it even further? I'm all for that. Plus there's a lot of leeway for running barefoot only sometimes if you want, as a sort of training supplement or something.
It can't be done all at once though. I can't just up and run 3 miles barefoot without risking serious injury. I mean, I've been running (really running) in shoes for 20 years. My muscles are very accustomed to this way of doing things. So it has to be done very gradually. A couple weeks ago, I ran on a treadmill in sock-feet for just 5 minutes after my regular workout, and I was tired! Per the program I looked up online, two days later I did 10 minutes "barefoot" (this time in socks on the base gym floor), and had a little soreness in my calves. This is normal as my body adjusts to the altered form, and I will work my way up from there.
Now, since then I have been outdoors only, and it's waaaaaay too cold to go barefoot. Unless I want to freeze my toes off, which I don't, so it's been shoes for me. Plus it turns out I'm a bit of a priss about my feet. I'm not huge on calluses and stuff, which I would certainly have to develop if I took up full-time barefoot running. Thankfully there's an in-between option called zero-drop.
Remember how I talked about our thick, modern, cushioned shoes? One of their characteristics is that they elevate the heel several millimeters. No big deal at first glance, but even a little elevation can have big effects on stride, and form, and muscles. Taking away this "drop" between the heel and ball of the foot (hence the term "zero-drop") brings things a little closer to what it's like to run barefoot.
There are always the Vibram Five-Fingers--those are the things that look like gloves for your feet. It would certainly be funky & cool to run around in those. But they are on the order of $150, and my problem is that, if I'm going to go all hippie with the running, I don't want to start having to pay MORE to wear shoes that deliberately do LESS. No, if I'm going to be a hippie about it I want to do it on the cheap.
I think I may have found a nice middle ground. Back in the day lots of my friends wore track spikes and/or racing flats at meets...tiny little shoes with next to zero cushioning. In theory they maximized speed, minimized times, and made you look like a real runner (I did not have them at the time--I did not look like a real runner). The weakness with the racing flats is that they are snug and don't let your toes splay properly, but I think if nothing else they will be good enough for me to decide if I want to pursue this barefoot-thing further.
There's a little more transition as I find the right size racing flats. As it turns out they are not super-accurate to one's normal size so I have to do a little back & forth with Zappo's. I'm hoping by the end of this week I'll be able to try out the new shoes for 10 minutes outdoors, and go from there.
Here goes (next to) nothing...
I am speaking quietly yet firmly to my neurotic side, telling me that it is not my fault, that I am not nearly high enough in the hierarchy to affect whether a project is stopped or not. Most likely it is budget concerns somewhere. This is the nature of my project-oriented work structure, and even though it's disappointing, it is why my company and I can be so flexible with each other, which certainly counts for something.
Now, my lazy and non-work-focused sides are jumping up & down a little bit because I have made the decision to finish out the week of childcare for my kiddos, leaving me some time to organize my home office, catch up on personal emails, and of course throw some thoughts up on the ol' blog. Possible topics include barefoot running, friends on welfare, and how to whack your friends over the head with grace (God's, that is)...without ruining the whole thing.
Feb 20, 2011
Feb 5, 2011
This is a little bit better shot of our newest family member, aka Nipples. He's proving a little tough to photograph, as he's quick and doesn't stay in the frame for long. I can hardly blame him; I usually have two little crazies trailing close behind me who adore the kitty and whose highest expressions of affection are to either pick him up or squish him flat. Seriously, two seconds after I got the above shot we ended up with variations of this:
They are like his own, personal fan club. Of obsessed, obnoxious fans who won't let him get some peace & tranquility already...
Anyhow, when it comes to comfort levels there is something to be said about how once it gets below a certain point, cold is just cold. And that's just how it was. Cold.
Besides, windowpanes aside, the house stayed at our usual winter temperature of 65, so we were warm & comfy indoors. It was a good time for hot drinks and sliding around the wood floors in our socks.
But we're still glad it's back up in the 20s and 30s these days...