Category Archives: Motherhood

business trip

H went out of town last week, for four days.  A year ago, that would have sent me into a paroxysm.  In fairness, things used to be a lot harder.  For example, it used to be so hard to get the kids to bed because L would freak out if I left her alone to get B to bed, and she made too much noise if I took her in with me.  Nowadays, I put them to bed at the same time, in the same room, and everything typically goes very smoothly.  It’s so much easier!  My new TV after dinner when Daddy is out of town policy also makes things a heck of a lot easier.  B loves Masha the Bear and L loves the movie First Position.  In combination, I easily get 45 minutes of almost complete peace.  In any event, I was basically not stressed or anxious on this trip at all.  I feel like I’m 80 or 90% back to my normal self.  I also feel like things could go south at any time, but i mostly feel like I’m getting my life back.  Why this all happened to me, I don’t know, but I’m sure it’s something I’ll struggle with on some level for the rest of my life.  Life is good right now, though, and I’m not really thinking beyond that.

Sarah and her family visited last weekend.  As she put it on FB, “Thank you universe for putting my sister and one of my best college friends only minutes apart.”  Yes, thank you very much universe.  I really appreciate it.  It was great seeing Sarah and her whole family, and it was so cute watching the kids play together.  Now all I have to do is get my act together and develop the pictures.

I went cycling with a co-worker this weekend, a guy I’ve known for longer than a decade.  Ironically, I used to give him a hard time about cycling in the rain.  How times change.  We seemed to be quite well-matched in speed and general ride preferences, so it went quite well.  It was great, actually.  He hasn’t been cycling much, and I suspect if he were to cycle frequently, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with him, but for now, we’re in a similar place.  I had to push to keep up with him on the flats, and he had to push to keep up with me on the hills.  Overall, we went a good bit faster than I would have alone (though still slow by any reasonable standard.)

The STP was this weekend.  It’s a 200+ mile from Seattle to Portland.  A colleague of mine at work did it . . . in one day.  It took him 11 hours.  Crazy!  Part of me is thinking maybe I could do it next year.  Right now I can cycle 40 miles, and I figure I could do 60 if I had to.  I need to get to a place where I could cycle 100 – and then do it again the next day.  Honestly, my legs are usually in pretty good shape after 40 miles, but I’m still dealing with, ahem, chafing issues.   We’ll see.  I guess I should focus on getting through a triathlon this summer and then worry about next summer.

running and horses

I read about the Strava mile on the Strava app and decided to give it a go.  My mile PR is 5:52 from high school when I was 17, had had no kids, weighed maybe 115, and did a lot of speed work.   I think it’s safe to say I’m not breaking 6 minutes any time soon, which makes me a little sad.  But, no matter.  Strava thinks my PR is 7:05 or something like that, so I decided to go after a sub-7.  I found my nearest track, less than 10 minutes from my house and is synthetic; there isn’t a track like that in the whole city of Roanoke.  I headed out there at 6:30 in the morning or so and had it to myself.  I wore my watch and decided to try and target 400s between 100 and 105 s — leading to a 1600 m between 6:40 and 7:00.

My splits for 1600 m ended up being 99.5, 102.3, 102.1, and 101.9.  That’s a 6:45 1600m.  Strava clocked me at 6:43 for my fastest mile (as I kept running since 1600m is just a bit short of 1 mile.)  Overall, I’m pleased, though honestly I thought I could run a few seconds faster.  I’m inspired now to do some speed work.

Saturday, I went out for a 38 miles bike ride around the lower half of Lake Washington.  1737 ft of elevation gain.  I’ve done the ride before, but it felt a little easier this time.  I’m always intimidated by a ride that long, but it’s better when I at least know the route.  I averaged 12.9 mph, which is pretty typical for me for this type of ride.

LakeWARide

After my ride, we headed to a birthday party with L – an equestrian party.  We live very near a beautiful area called the May Valley that has a lot of horse farms, and the party was at one of them.  L, as I’ve mentioned on here before, tends to be timid and afraid of most new things, and she has always been afraid to sit on a horse every time the opportunity has come up.  The people at the horse farm were so great.  They started with having the kids brush the horses.  L was initially afraid to touch the horse, but I eventually was able to talk her into it.  Then B got up on the horse they’d been brushing, and we all managed to talk L into getting up to.  What did it was the option to ride with her sister.  It was so sweet.  Unfortunately, I was so busy providing moral support to L that I got no photos, but I’m hoping I can get at least one from one of the other moms.

ambivalence

I recently stumbled across one of my most favorite pieces of running writing.  When I was in high school, there was a bit of a running fad that favored fewer miles.  Of course, this was the pre-internet age, but in my teens I was pretty convinced that I was “burned out” and other such nonsense when my times slowed down in 10th / 11th grade.  (Looking back, puberty and (healthy) weight gain had a lot more to do with it.)  In any case, it wasn’t until my junior year of college that I stumbled upon a community of running enthusiasts on the internet on the CoolRunning forums and became convinced of the opposite, that as far as running goes, more is almost always better.  The author of the piece above ran many, many miles and enjoyed the payoff.

The weather was warm enough to run in shorts and short-sleeves yesterday for the first time in, oh, six months?  Longer.  Who knows.  It was wonderful.  I took advantage and ran 8.5 miles, my longest run since before B was born.  It felt great, though I’m sore today.  I need to drag myself out for a shorter run this morning sometime soon before the rain starts again.

We’ve settled on a school for L.  We’re going to send her to a French immersion Kindergarten.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I wish we were living slightly farther North, in a better school district, but for a wide variety of reasons the cards did not fall that way.  We’ll re-evaluate the long-term path after next year.  You might wonder, why French?  Well, there are two French immersion schools near us and none in any other language.  I think there is a value in knowing any second language, regardless of what it is.  I also think that L is precocious and this will ensure she is challenged.  Hopefully, she won’t be TOO challenged.  Both B and I feel ambivalent about the whole thing, in contrast to how we feel about the preschool, which we love.  But we’ll give it a try.

swimming

L graduated from level 1 of swim lessons.  It’s been a long road, and I’m frankly just delighted.  It seems like a small thing, and she was beginning to tower over the other kids in her class.  It had just become obvious to me that swimming would be a challenge for her.  However, I have derived an enormous amount of joy from swimming and being in the water through the years, from just playing at the pool in the summer to swim team to being confident in deep water at Smith Mountain Lake and pool parties and on and on.  As an adult, I really feel water aerobics and my weekly swim were incredibly important to my mental and physical health, and I met one of my best friends in Seattle at water aerobics class.  Anyway, I’ve watched L gradually gain confidence and comfort in the water, and I see a clear path towards her becoming a confident swimmer over the next several years.  (A path paved with bribes and sparkly swimsuits, no doubt.)  Now, B is getting old enough to start swim lessons!

I myself have been swimming once a week.  I absolutely detest getting in the pool and swimming that first half lap.  It’s just torture!  After that, however, it’s quite pleasurable.  I always preferred breaststroke, but I’ve been swimming freestyle with an eye towards triathlon, and I’ve become so much more comfortable with freestyle.  I even tried some flip turns at my last session.  They went . . . ok.  I ended up with a nose full of water during one of them, and I basically found them exhausting.  But it was kind of fun to realize I can still do one, more or less.

My parents are visiting, and H is out of town.  My loyal readers will know that the latter has caused me a great deal of anxiety in past.  Today, I’m doing fine.  A friend told me to try and celebrate the small achievements, and so I’m going to celebrate how today has gone.  We’ll deal with tomorrow tomorrow.

strife

Watching this made me tear up a little.  A mother and child lost and reunited while Nadal holds the tennis match.

My own little munchkin (the larger one) came home with a bloody lip today, sustained after a fall from her scooter.  The poor little thing takes bodily injuries so seriously, much as I do I suppose, except worse.  She has been this way since she was tiny, so I guess it’s genetic.  It’s hard because getting hurt is part of life.  Her little sister is much less sensitive.  I do think life is a bit harder for sensitive types.

On a side note, I enjoyed watching Streif.  I’m fascinated by downhill ski racing, so naturally, I’ve been interested in this movie for a while.  It’s not perfect – a bit choppy and over-edited in places – but if you’re interested in downhill skiing, it’s a must-watch.

a little rant on biology

I was pondering privilege at the playground today and wondering if there is such a thing as male privilege, and if so what it is.  I concluded that it does exist and is overwhelmingly biological.  If a man wants to have genetic children, he can do so without going through pregnancy or delivery.  I realize that pregnancy affects people differently and that I struggled with it more than most, but still, what an incredible privilege.  My female readers, imagine being able to have a child without facing a C-section or an excruciating vaginal delivery.  Without facing the prospect of throwing up nearly daily for three months.  Imagine being the proud parent of two children without 18 months of weight gain and discomfort or pain and heartburn and acid reflux and so on.  Without having had to interrupt all your interests and hobbies and athletic activites.  I could go on, but you get the point.

Sometimes I ponder what it means to be a woman and whether I’m happy being a woman.  Usually I conclude that I’m not exactly sure what it means to be a woman, but whatever it is, I am very happy being female.  I wouldn’t want to be a man.  Except.  Except for the pregnancy part.  I can see trading genders merely to avoid that problem.

I was pondering today also the recommendation from the AAP that one breastfeed exclusively for six months.  Six months!  I did this with both my children, and I honestly can hardly believe it.  In black and white it seems crazy – that one should be the sole source of nutrition for another human, around the clock, for six months.  It is impossible to do such a thing without major disruption to one’s career and life.  Of course, many women use formula partially or entirely, but the fact remains that our government recommends breastfeeding.  Exclusively.  For six months.  When combined with the standard 12 weeks of maternity leave that is typical for professional women – and the even more meager benefits other women get – it’s crazy.  But I’m not sure it would be better if the government were to say give 6 months paid leave so that women could fulfill the AAP’s recommendation.  While I support more leave in the general sense, I’m not sure I support the government overtly forcing the issue of the six months of exclusive breastfeeding, especially since the evidence to support this (as opposed to some breastfeeding) is rather tenuous.

I realize that there is institutional sexism and various challenges women face, but for me personally, these pale in comparison to biology.  Yes, it was tough being the first female engineer at my company.  It was annoying being the only woman in my group for a decade and often feeling like I represent my entire gender when I open my mouth.  But, this is insignificant compared to the trial of pregnancy, childbirth, and around-the-clock breastfeeding.