Friday, October 31, 2008

The long walk home

The other day when I was out for my stroller workout, Kira fell asleep as she often does, for the duration of the workout. She woke up refreshed and ready for a stroll herself, so I let her out. Most days, I let both kids out of the stroller near the end of the workout, once we've parked the strollers and we're working with resistance bands, mats and stretching. I like to give them the benefit of breathing the crisp air, and walking / crawling around on the grass.

Well, what usually takes me 10 minutes to walk to the park with the kids in the stroller, took us ONE HOUR on the way home, because Kira had to pick up all kinds of things, and was she ever taking her time! But, I made a point not to rush her or to get upset. I just let her explore and sometimes coaxed her to move a bit more forward along the path home. Meanwhile, Calvin enjoyed the scenery from the stroller, and nodded off about halfway home.

First, Kira had to kick some leaves. Then she walked through a path of leaves while they crunched under her feet. Then, she picked up I don't know how many leaves to feed them to the birds ("Heeere, birdy, birdy, birdy!"). I found all of this rather amusing and I reveled in the sweetness, the innocence, and the adventure of it all. Once Kira remembered that I was still there, she proceeded to pick up sticks, leaves, and flowers and pass them to me as gifts. Then, she had to pick up every single dandelion in sight to blow on it.

Of course, she had to play peekaboo too, behind these enormous trees along the path home (Jay / Laura, this is right next to your house!).

After an hour of walking, we finally got home for some hot chocolate (well actually, Kira insisted on chocolate milk while I indulged in the hotter version) and cookies. I can't remember if Kira had a good night's sleep after this outing, but I sure can imagine that she had some vivid dreams as a result. :)

Here's a photo of the beautiful gifts Kira picked for me on the way home. I may not have kept all of those leaves, sticks and flowers, but I will keep the memory of this and all our walks throughout my life, my precious girl!

Sleepy Mikayla

On August 15th, the Takeda family welcomed its newest addition, Mikayla Miya Belanger. Here she is with her mommy, Stacy. Mikayla weighed in at 7 lbs. 15 oz. and is already 2.5 months old! (See how I was mentioning how behind I am on my blogging?)

Now, the most amusing thing to me about Mikayla is that, despite the fact that I see her mom twice a week for our stroller workouts (you can read about that here and here), I very rarely get to see Mikayla awake! In fact, I wonder if there was even one workout when she was awake?? So, I had to ask permission to snag this photo, which was actually taken by her daddy Shawn on a beautiful fall day only a couple of weeks ago.

Stacy's sister Ali (who I've also recently posted about here) also joins in on the workouts twice a week. Ali's baby Hunter has grown so much already, it's incredible. And he's the happiest baby on the block until the end of the workout, when he and Calvin start up a chorus of "WAAAAH!!" for the entire 15 minutes of our mat work / cool down. Luckily for me, as soon as we move for our walk back home, Calvin quietens down, but by then Hunter's just had enough of sitting in the stroller. I think he'd rather be bootin' around somewhere, on his hands and knees. Too bad the weather is getting a bit too chilly to hang around outside and let him crawl on the grass! Here are my kids with Hunter during a happier post-workout moment.

Stacy and Ali have 5 kids between them - wow! I admire them constantly for their closeness to their extended family. Oh, and did I mention that Stacy and Ali are married (& common-law) with half-brothers? Isn't that just the coolest thing in the world? So, their kids share pretty much the same grandparents from both sides (with some exceptions in there that are too complicated to get into). Now, that's so amazing!

Apple picking x 3

We've been to the same apple orchard 3 times this fall! But, we love Vergers Denis Charbonneau in Mont St. Gregoire, because it's so family-friendly, and this is an important factor when you have a baby and toddler in tow.

Our first visit of the season was with Kira's preschool. About 25 parents and their kids ventured out on a bit of a damp morning. However, the weather was actually quite perfect in retrospect. It wasn't too chilly yet, and because it was early enough in the fall and the weather was a bit speculative, our group pretty much had the place to ourselves. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera but no worries. We were back at the orchard the following week with my kids' playgroup, Mums & Tots of Brossard. During this second outing, we also picked pumpkins. Here are the moms and kids on the tractor ride (I decided to jog alongside with Calvin in the jogging stroller):

I couldn't resist popping Calvin into a crate full of pumpkins for the fall photo opp!
Here's Kira with some of the kids from playgroup. And, little Calvin sitting in front, heehee:

Calvin hard at work, biting into that apple!
Surprisingly, what interested Kira more than picking apples was seeing all the animals. Here's Kira with Jaiden, and a closer look at the rooster (there were also sheep, bunnies, peacocks, and goats). If you didn't see the video clip of these 2 during a play date earlier this year, click here.

Our final apple-picking excursion was with the dragonboat team I belong to, Isshin, and members of the taiko community in Montreal. The weather was once again, fantastic. I must say, we really lucked out on that front. As I crouched near a branch filled with apples, Calvin picked one out and proceeded to eat it for the next half hour until he passed out for a nap. I love the ease of carrying him on my back in the mei-tai (another Etsy purchase). Whenever I sense that he's tired, I throw him on my back and he eases into slumber. Plus, my hands are then free to deal with Kira. Oh, but I could ramble on for a whole other post about the benefits of baby-carrying. I might just do that, if I find the time. Meanwhile, I'm a month behind on blog posts...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mommy gets a haircut

This is not a furry animal - it's my chopped-off hair!

Pampering myself doesn't happen often enough, I tell ya. I hadn't had a haircut in a year, since I was 8 months pregnant with Calvin. And getting myself to a salon didn't seem like it would ever happen. Thank goodness for Rima, a fellow mommy and member of the playgroup I belong to here on the South Shore with my kids. Rima isn't a hairstylist by trade. She cuts hair as a hobby, and has been doing it for years on friends and family. I don't know how she does it, but she always looks glam and great! I forgot to take Rima's photo but maybe I'll be able to add it to this blog post afterwards.

Here I am, all sad and weepy before the cut:

Within 20 minutes, I had bangs and a short cut. Calvin seems to like it too! I think that's because I was actually able to nurse him while getting my trim. Now honestly, what salon lets you do THAT?

Thanks, Rima! If you do house-calls, maybe I can refer some new clients your way!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Loving the outdoors

I'm so lucky that my kids are nature-lovers! At the same time, they consistently fall asleep when in motion, be that in the car or in the stroller. So, whenever we're out for a walk (or my stroller workout - see my previous post) and I think "Hey, I'll let my kids out to play a bit", one of them is asleep. It's difficult therefore, to make a lot of plans in advance. I often have to plan as the day goes, depending on what's going on in the backseat of the car.

Last week, I went for a walk with Ali, Stacy and our kids. We went for a nice 1 hour stroll, but of course during this entire time all our kids were fast asleep. Go figure. On the way home, just as we reached my street, Kira woke up. I felt sorry for her because she missed a great walk, so I offered to take her to the park. We (just me and my kids) turned around and went to the park, where we spent an hour or so, and we had the entire place to ourselves! I'm not sure why, but once the leaves start to fall the moms don't take their kids to the park anymore. Yet, at the first sign of spring it's full.

Kira's apparatus of choice has always been the swing. Here she is, shaking and laughing on the swing. I love her giggles!

Meanwhile, Calvin isn't walking yet, so I sat him in the leafy grass. I have to watch him carefully whenever I put him down, as he's prone to eating whatever is on the ground around him.

Hopefully the fall weather will continue to be pleasant for a few more weeks. We're looking forward to at least a few more park days before toboganning season sets in!

More stroller cardio!

In the springtime, I wrote about my cardio-poussette classes which I took at the Récré-o-Parc in Ste. Catherine. You can see my blog post here, where I talk a bit about Cardio Plein-Air and the awesome program they have for people trying to gain back their pre-pregnancy shape.

This season, I'm taking the class once again, but in Candiac's Parc de la Promenade. It's a 10 minute walk from home, which is a perfect warm-up to the class. This is the first time since I started taking the class (when Kira was a baby) that I have a different instructor. I wasn't sure how it would be since I was so used to Geneviève previously, but I'm SO happy with Marie-Eve because she gives the course a fresh edge, and she's great at pushing us hard! She has new ideas that work to get us working out together and yet independently. She's also good at explaining things to us, albeit quickly in order to maximize our time together to get the most time for us to work out!

Bonus this season: I'm taking the class with 2 of Mark's cousins, Ali and Stacy. We all have babies born within months of each other. Ali and Stacy are sisters. I wrote about Ali's baby Hunter in a previous blog post here, and I'll have to give Stacy's baby Mikayla a headline soon too! It's nice to finally know some people in my class, although I must admit I'm not here for the socialization so much as for the workout...

We typically start with a bit of introduction of names, a brisk walk and a bit of stretching, then some aerobics to get our hearts pumping and our bodies warmed up. Then, we do about half an hour of various exercises while one the move, including lunges, squats, and imitations of basketball, skiing, and skating while pushing our strollers. The workout is as challenging as you make it because you can choose to push yourself harder (and go deeper / lower / farther), or not. Marie-Eve always asks us at the end of the workout, how much we pushed ourselves on a scale of 1 to 10.

My favourite part of the workout comes right after the stroller stuff, when we park the strollers to go for a little jog up and down the steps leading to the river. It's scenic and a nice jog for a bit of resistance (going up the steps). I could do this for 10 minutes except I'd probably get too dizzy. :)

After checking our heartrate for the last time (we check it periodically to make sure we're within our target heart rates) we work on muscular training with resistance bands and some abs / push-ups / plank on the mats. Here's Ali being cheeky when she sees me with the camera (notice how everyone else is focused):

Here we are with the resistance bands working on biceps. Marie-Eve is in the forefront:

Finally, a bit of tai-chi to end the session. Ahhh...

Gotta love blasting the post-baby gut, and being able to do it in the great outdoors!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Running for a cure

The month of October is flying by and I have so much to blog about! Before I end up too far behind, let me tell you about a run I took part in last weekend.

I don't know how many years I've been taking part in the CIBC Run for the Cure now. It must be at least 5 or 6 years. This is the cause that I've taken up as my annual commitment to do something concrete about. So, I register each year, and collect pledges. Then I set out to run a great 5k and hope for good weather. This year the weather was beautiful, somewhere around 12 to 15 degrees, with a very light breeze. I was lucky enough to have 2 friends join me for the run simply for the sake of joining. They weren't registered runners, just 2 awesome guys who wanted to support me in my run, support the cause, and enjoy a nice jog on a beautiful weekend! Introducing...

Jason, my personal trainer. This guy would go for a run with me on any given day / night at the drop of a hat. Running is part of his lifestyle routine (albeit not a religious one - I'm glad to know that he has good and bad weeks like us all!) and so it was never difficult to organize a few half-hour sessions with him. I need this kind of motivation because without someone pushing me out the door, I have no motivation to get my butt in gear with the 2 kids in tow, to run. Thanks Jay, for your encouragement all the way! Here we are somewhere near the beginning of the run (that's why I still have a smile on my face).

Mikio, my motivational guru. I kid you not, a few years ago when I was running the CIBC Run for the Cure, I distinctly remember that the only reason I finished the run without stopping (and believe me, did I ever feel like stopping when we started going a little bit uphill!) was that I could hear Mikio's voice in my mind saying: "Keep going, don't stop! Overcome yourself!" In fact, about half an hour before I had begun the run, Mikio called me to chant that mantra to me on my cell phone. After several years of wanting to check out the event in person, Mikio was finally able to make arrangements this year to come out and join. Not only did he run with me, he did it backwards while taking photos all the way! Mikio is a natural runner, so 5k didn't even make him sweat. Here he is showing his form, running with a smile after the 5k was all done.

What made this year's run so special was the additional company I had - my kids. Kira and Calvin were angels as they were pushed in the jogging stroller. I think they enjoyed the scenery of buildings and people, balloons, and pink everywhere. I'm sure they enjoyed the breeze on their faces (okay, not so "fresh" air because this was in downtown Montreal) and their simple presence urged me forward. Together, we raised over $400 for the cause, and the run raised over $28 million across Canada! Here's to finding a cure for breast cancer in our near future!