Friday, May 30, 2008

A beautiful day for taiko!

On Sunday May 18th, I was thrilled to be performing taiko again after a 9 month break from performance. Near the end of my last pregnancy, I focused on observing practices because it was just too darned hard to move around! But boy did I ever miss releasing my energy into those taiko! It's really difficult to explain the release when you can put your spirit and energy into those fantastic drums.

The photos in this post were taken by Geneviève Demers, who is currently taking taiko classes at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal and who attended O-Hanami.

After the birth of Calvin, I took a couple of months to stay at home and adjust to the new family dynamics and routine (like there is ever a routine with a newborn in the house - ha!). In the new year, I started going back to practices again, and I slowly started to play again in February. It was honestly quite intimidating to play again, because everyone there is so awesome and in incredible shape! They had been going through some pretty grueling practices as well as working on new compositions, so I had a lot of catching up to do! Obviously, I'm still not there yet, and just hoping to be up to par in the coming months...

I committed to participating in 2 performances per month max, in order to balance my priorities of family and taiko. Back when I was single, taiko was my no. 1 priority in life! Seriously, I would do multiple practices and shows each week and revel in the (muscular) burn. Well, I'm still passionate about it, but I must admit that my priorities have shifted after getting married and giving birth to 2 beautiful treasures! There's less time to do anything outside of family time, because the kids are quite demanding at this age. But I don't regret it because time flies by so quickly with Kira and Calvin. Kira is already well into her "terrible 2's" and Calvin is sitting by himself! But, I digress...

My first performance back was at O-Hanami, a picnic under the flowering crabapple trees at the Japanese Botanical Gardens. What a beautiful setting, and a fabulous event to share the gardens and Japanese culture with the public! In addition to Arashi Daiko, Sandokai gave a kobudo demonstration. And, it was a perfect, sunny day with a few clouds and a light breeze.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Last class for Kira at Bébéssimo :(

I've been meaning to write for quite some time about Kira's Bouge d'Art class at Bébéssimo. A few weeks ago was her final class, and I must say it was a sad one for me because it was our last class ever, at Bébéssimo.

You see, this wonderful space called Bébéssimo was the brainchild of Patricia Briand, who opened up the infant and toddler development ("discovery and enrichment studio" as it's referred to in the website) centre in a cozy little spot in NDG. She opened it for all the right reasons. First and foremost, she's a mom so she knows the importance of nurturing and developing our kids' imagination, creativity, and motor skills first-hand. She made connections with moms who agreed that there was a need for a space like Bébéssimo. Unfortunately, for whatever reasons that may be, Bébéssimo will be officially closing its doors at the end of June. Sniff, sniff! Kira has taken Baby Sign Language, Itsy Bitsy Yoga, Run Wiggle Paint & Giggle, and Bouge d'Art here, and we will sorely miss it. In fact, the day before our last class, I caught Kira on video telling me she was looking forward to going to Bébéssimo. I swear, I didn't coach her to say this. We arrived back home after a day of activity and before I could take her out of the car, she clearly told me where she wanted to go next. If you can make it out, she's saying "I want to go to Bébéssimo!"

Here's a great article from the National Post that talks a bit about the kind of unique programming offered at Bébéssimo:

Our last 2 sessions at Bébéssimo were for a class called Bouge d'Art. Melanie Fefergrad came up with this great program that includes song, dance, movement, stories, and arts & crafts. Melanie, if you're reading this, you've made such a fantastic impact on Kira! When it's time to clean up, she sings "It's time to tidy up, it's time to tidy up, please put the toys away, it's time to tidy up." She pulls out lines from songs like Miss Mary Mack and the Bubblegum song from nowhere, and asks "Where's Melanie?" And finally, when it's time to say goodbye she puts up her "tick-tock" fingers! What an impact a weekly 45-minute class has had on my child! Here are the kids mobbing Melanie for a sticker after class.

Here's an article about Melanie and her Bouge d'Art program:
You can now find her permanently at GymMini, in St. Laurent.

And, here's Kira with her prized bear that she made at Bouge d'Art:

I'm on the hunt for new places with quality programming for my little Calvin. Let me know if you're in the know! We'll miss our weekly jaunt out to NDG but will certainly find reasons to go by there now and again.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

cardio to get the heart pumping!

Last month I devoted the month to (a start to) getting back into shape. Despite the fact that I'm already back to pre-pregnancy weight, I have a bit of a body-image problem in that I don't fit my pre-pregnancy clothes and there is the post-baby gut that keeps hanging around. Don't get me wrong - it took 9 months to grow a baby inside me and so I don't expect to be back to my old form for a little while yet! But I also can't use that as an excuse to be lazy. So from the beginning of April I got myself motivated to get the heart pumping again.

I'm going to a cardio-poussette class twice a week. This is one of many classes offered by Cardio Plein-Air, a company that dedicates workouts to the outdoors yearround! I'm the only one with 2 babies to push in my classes, but with my stroller they're a breeze to push so I don't mind the extra weight. In fact, this stroller is so easy to move that it kind of runs on its own with a little wind - and unfortunately there are no brakes on it, so I can't lock it in place when it's stationary. The workout is led by Geneviève, a firecracker of an instructor who is always chatting, yelling, smiling, and keeping everyone motivated. I took her classes 2 years ago when Kira was born and I had such a great experience that I signed up for her classes again. She remembered us right away, and always gives a little conversation time to Kira. I'm also really impressed that she tries so hard to ensure that I'm comfortable by speaking to me in English, even though I try my best to keep up in French! Here's a photo of Geneviève, who reminds me a LOT of Julianne from "Dancing with the Stars" for her personality and athleticism.

What I love about this workout is that you can get from it as much as you want. Seriously, I've seen people push their strollers and chat to each other. Actually, this season's group is great. Everyone is friendly and there's pleasant chatting but people are also looking for a serious workout. Great spirit and energy - gotta love that! I'm in it for the WORKOUT! So, with the mindset to challenge myself, I'm getting a great workout in a beautiful park (Récré-O-Parc in Ste. Catherine) with a group of fantastic moms and their beautiful babies. We do about an hour of heart-pumping cardio, followed by abdominal training on the mats, and always something different or new with resistance bands, or using the benches and fences found at the park. Kira usually hops out of the stroller at this point, to stretch her legs and check out the scenery. Calvin usually wakes up at this point and starts bawling his head off along with half of the other babies. The workout ends with simili-tai-chi, and before you know it 75 minutes have passed. Now that the weather is getting nicer out, I think I'll opt to hang out at the park afterwards every so often, for a picnic!