29 January 2014 | 09:28 PM
I haven’t been biking much lately. It’s winter, which means riding in dark inclement weather or on the trainer in my garage. Riding the trainer is a boring drag. And, anyway, I don’t much free time to ride, inside or out. Every Benji-free excursion requires negotiation, and weighing whether I should use that 3 hours for paid work, unpaid but necessary chores, or unpaid and unnecessary recreational riding.
All this to say, I’ve had to give my beloved bikes short shrift the last few months… And, frankly, it’s looking like that may be a semi-permanent state, since both my role as mom and as an employee seem to be ramping up. Exciting! Yet also inhibitory towards biking: something has to give, and it can’t be parenting or work.
I love biking and I hope to do as much as I reasonably can, but in the interest of working towards a balanced life, staying fit, and using time efficiently, I’ve started jogging with Benji on our morning walks. I can’t dignify the activity with the label “running” (an activity I associate with much pain, suffering, and misery from my high school years on the cross-country team), but it is faster than walking. So far I’ve done a few weeks of two days jogging, starting with 30 minutes jogging and now up to about 50 minutes.
The thing is, I have excellent cardio and good overall fitness from all the biking. As a result, jogging at a 10-minute-per-mile pace for 50 minutes pushing 50 lbs of stroller + kid isn’t actually that hard. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not easy, I’m tired at the end, and some specific muscle groups are distinctly sore a day or two later. But that I can do it at all really surprised me. That’s great! But there are a few downsides…
Here’s what I like about it:
- I enjoy going farther in an hour with Benji; we get out of our rather restricted immediate neighborhood and see new (to him) stuff.
- I value the bang for my buck, so to speak; I get a good workout in in one hour, first thing, and don’t have to negotiate for Benji care.
- It’s less nasty to jog in the rain than ride in the rain, and knowing it’s only an hour I’m modestly more motivated.
Things I don’t like:
- Moderate to severe hip pain the days following a jog. Tends to be very bad – limp-inducing – in right hip and just uncomfortable in the left. This happened once before, in the summer after I did a couple days of very long, demanding walks/hikes.
- Arch pain in left foot during and after activity; also, severe pain in the outside of my right foot and up my ankle during and after activity, so I can hardly walk on it.
- Upper back/shoulder discomfort while pushing stroller, especially uphill.
I rarely have joint pain from biking. What discomfort I do have is never enduring and interfering with daily activities for days afterward. I suspect a new pair of shoes with better insoles, and perhaps something to compensate for scoliosis-induced difference in leg length, may be in order if I choose to continue. Still. Poo. I would rather just stick with my bikes.
15 January 2014 | 08:06 AM
Yesterday, I was in the living room while Benji played with his diaper bag. I didn’t pay much attention, except to make sure he wasn’t doing anything dangerous. Then he got my attention: he’d pulled out both his shoes and was trying to put them on. I came and helped him with that. Then, almost immediately, he got his jacket and held it out: I put that on him, too, and followed with my own shoes. Clearly, he wanted to go outside!
This is an entirely new behavior, and one attributable, I suspect, to the picnic we took in the park the other day – there were doggies, and a couple other kids at the playground. Benji had a very fun time.
Yesterday we ended up talking with a neighbor/examining the wheels on the neighbor’s truck. Then we spent probably 30 minutes toddling back and forth from our next-door neighbors’ garbage bin to our bins and back, playing with those wheels (I tipped the bins over for ready access), with a few detours to examine truck wheels again, and a slight diversion to drop leaves into a plastic bin.
What an exciting day outside! I need to look up the sign for “outside” andmaybe “play,” because I think we’ll be using those words often.
Speaking of signs, I just realized we know the key signs in “I Like To Eat Apples and Bananas.” Granted, that’s not saying much, but hey, it’s fun. I just don’t know how you’d indicate the changing vowels.
Lately I’ve seen Benji sign drink, diaper, music, and all done, in addition to please, thank you, help, and more. Some of those do take significant interpretation – music involves waving one hand wildly in a certain way, and all done is waving another way – but still, so fun!
4 January 2014 | 09:16 PM
First, a quick apology for the oversized pictures in my recent posts. WordPress updated their mobile app, and since then, when I put pictures in from my phone, they grab the highest resolution. I’ll see if there’s a way to keep them a bit more moderately-sized.
Now, about my main focus for this post. The last few weeks, Ian and I have been reading a book called Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown. She writes about shame and vulnerability, and although the writing is a little chatty and not as honed as I like, what she says really struck home hard. It’s given me a huge amount to think about, and may even change the way we live. Seriously. I strongly recommend it to… pretty much everybody, actually, because shame is so pervasive while vulnerability is so rare.
The key quote, from which she draws the tile of her book, summarizes her overall thesis succinctly:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…
Also, check out her TED talks, one on vulnerability:
and the other on shame:
There’s enough there that I expect to re-watch these several times before it all really sinks in. The following vignette won’t make as much sense if you haven’t watched the videos, so take a few minutes (18 each, actually) and watch them. I’ll wait.
Done? I mean it, those are worth watching, so if you didn’t, you really should. Anyway, now you have the background, here’s my story.
On Friday I went out to lunch with my boss and co-worker, who happens to be my boss’s mother. We went to a nice fish restaurant, where both of them ordered soup cups and salads. My boss mentioned detoxing from all the junk consumed during the holidays, and I agreed — I’d consumed a lot of junk, too.
But as I read the menu, my first choice of expensive salmon seemed, well, expensive, and second choice of fish and chips seemed plebeian and flauntingly unhealthy, next to their modest selections. I took a long time looking at the menu, debating about whether to also order a salad in order to fit in, even though I wanted something else, or to order what I wanted, appearances be darned. Plus there’s the guilt factor of (a) eating something as egregiously junk food-y as fish and chips after weeks of holiday junk; and (b) going to a nice restaurant and ordering something as ho-hum as fish and chips.
When in doubt, I usually just close my menu and make a spur-of-the-moment choice when the waiter looks my direction. This time I did that, but only after all that internal debate and having also spent the last several weeks thinking and talking about vulnerability and shame.
I ordered the fish and chips — two fillets, thank you — and you know what? I enjoyed it (although I’ll also admit I had to quash some serious feelings of guilt and silence some pretty loud internal shame-clamoring). Benji and Ian, who got my leftovers, also enjoyed it. If my boss and her mom judged me for choosing the plebeian and unhealthy option, they kept it to themselves. It wasn’t easy; food choices are never easy for me, and this one was particularly hard. But I’m glad that I refused to let my internal shame voice (I think of it as my “anorexia brain“) rule my decision. I hope that some day in the future, I won’t care what other people think about what I order. Until then, I’m going keep trying to deliberately choose vulnerability over shame… and maybe even the less-healthy but more enjoyable menu option, too.
3 January 2014 | 09:37 AM
18 December 2013 | 08:06 AM
We have recently become curious about the pH of carbonated water – the kind that only contains bubbles and flavor, but no extra sugar. In keeping with our natures, Ian & I have decided to run an experiment to find out. Here’s what we’re going to do.
Over time, as the carbonation in an open can of sparkling water escapes, the acidity of the beverage will move from more acidic towards more neutral.
2 Cans of La Croix lemon-flavored sparkling water, labeled A & B
Probe for measuring acidity
1 Timekeeping device
Materials for recording results
At time 0, open both cans. Taking care not to jostle can A, insert the probe into can A and measure and record the acidity.
Also not jostling can B, insert straw into can B and drink a small sip. Record qualitatively the perception of carbonation and acidity.
Note: two researchers can do these tasks separately, not sharing results, in an effort to remain blind.
After 5 minutes have elapsed, repeat measurements, both quantitative and qualitative, and record results.
Repeat measurements and recordings every 5 minutes until all carbonation has escaped from the cans, as reported by can B sample taster, or researchers run out of time and/or patience.
RESULTS & DISCUSSION
Knowing that carbon dioxide is converted into carbonic acid in water (1), we hypothesized that acidity of a carbonated beverage would decrease (move towards neutral) as carbon dioxide gas was released from the liquid over time.
To be continued after study is complete.
We could use some help determining how long it would take for a can of sparkling water to go completely flat. Any thoughts, chemists or science-types? Also, any alternative hypotheses or suggestions for improving the methodology? We’re thinking of submitting our results, if significant, to the Journal of Carbonation Science, so we’d better get it right.
17 December 2013 | 12:23 PM
This is why you should always wave at the garbage man.
Yep, that’s a toy garbage bin, bestowed by Santa masquerading as our yard waste collector. We go out to wave at him every week, and actually followed his truck for a while on one of our walks. He always waves back, and a couple times has activated the arm to amuse Benji, even when we have no bin.
Today when we stepped outside to wave, he stopped the truck, got out, and gave Benji his very own bin, complete with spinning wheels. We shared our cookies and lavished him with many thanks as we waved bye-bye.
It was the highlight of my week so far, being so completely surprising and perfect. A small box with wheels and a lid: what could be better? “Thrilled” begins to express it, but doesn’t really cover everything. What a wonderful surprise.