Looking for the Carp

Seize the carp! Or the day! Or the moment! Anything that will help make this life of yours richer, filled with love, and acceptance of yourself. This is my little journey to always be on the look out for that carp, grabbing it, and never letting go. This is the only life we have and it's too short for what ifs and maybe laters!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

14th Carp- BlogHer 2013

Hello All,

It has been an absolute whirl wind of a summer. There has been many fish that have been caught in my net. The next big blog entry will be about my new found love of social media. This, however, is a mini-post though to talk about BlogHer 2013.

You see, women from across North America flock to a specific city each year for a three day conference to celebrate every thing about blogging, women, and networking. This year the conference is in my beloved, NYC. If I had known anyone would be able to participate, I would have already been there. But for some strange reason I did not know and this is not the case! Everyone is welcomed to enjoy the parties, giveaways and seminars. Not to mention.... SWAG!

So, it is my mission to attend BlogHer 2013 which will be taking place in Chicago! Wow! A new experience, in a new city, sounds absolutely blissful. Not to mention, I have already coerced my lady friend Jenn to come with me. You can follow her awesome blog Taking Flight with Art which is beautiful to the eyes and the soul.

So this mini post is an attempt to win a BlogHer 2013 pass to the whole festivities. Anyone else interested in the giveaway can follow this link to get your own entry. But be quick, the contest closes Tuesday, August 7th 2012. Good luck to anyone else who wants to enter.

Hopefully I will see you at BlogHer 2013 in Chicago next July 25th and 27th!

What's your carp?

Disclosure: This post was written as a sweepstakes opportunity chance.  All views above are my own.  If I am the winner I receive a free pass to BlogHer’13 in Chicago. 

Monday, 18 June 2012

13th Carp- Granola Parenting

With all these new parenting buzz words, you have options on how you actually want to raise your kids. I mean, do you want to do attached parenting? How about eco-friendly practices ? Or more homeopathic 'granola' treatment for kid problems such as teething. 

Well I don't know about all of that. I feel like how I parent is dictated by two over arching beliefs. 1) I'm cheap and 2) I'll give anything a whirl if it makes sense. 

The first thing that just made sense to me and appealed to my cheapskate-ness was breast feeding. I make it, its supply doesn't diminish until I start weening, and will always be adequate to feed my son. Plus it plays into a third, on the fringe, rule of mine- I'm lazy. You mean I don't have to prepare bottles, or go out to the store when I'm low on formula? Sign me up. Also, the health benefits James receives are huge and long lasting when given this great start to life. Finally, from what I've noticed, I was able to drop the baby weight pretty quickly after having him, another big bonus.  

The second thing that made sense to me was practicing baby carrying. I started with the Baby Buddha sling for when he was a new born and have now graduated to my Ergo. With James being so colicky, this provided an excellent opportunity for him to be near me but for me to have my hands free. Even if I was just sitting on the couch, the fact that my hands were not constantly supporting this growing little bundle was a huge relief. I got the sling in a lot of second hand items off of Kijiji and bought the Ergo from a liquidation store from eBay. Cheap- check. Making sense- check. 

But does that mean I'm a part of the super crazed 'post Time magazine article' attached parent group? Hmmm........

Next, I've been cloth diapering now for 3 months and I love it. I'm actually addicted to my go to brand of choice "AppleCheeks". They are a fantastic product which I was introduced to after my first attempt at cloth diapering, with another brand, failed miserably. This makes sense to me since I was seeing the huge increase in garbage diapering a little one caused. I hated that I was almost sending a bag a day roadside, filled with diapers that wouldn't decompose until James' children, children, children, children, children, children were long gone. My AppleCheeks are simply fantastic to use as they are very simple. Washing them is just a breeze. Not to mention, in the short time James was in disposables, he would have 'blow outs' at least once a day where his clothes would get stained permanently. In my AppleCheeks? I can count on my hand how many times they haven't been able to contain the messiest of messes. (Which I am pretty sure that it was a human error in putting them on.) Anyways, I digress. They fit the 'make sense' bill and the 'I am lazy' criteria as I don't have to ever worry about running out for an emergency box of Pampers. But how about the "I'm cheap" rule? Well, it is pretty expensive to start up your stash, for sure. However, disposable diapers now range between $30-$50 per box. Depending on how many you go through, I'd say my cloth diapers will still end up saving me around $1000 by the time James is potty trained. Cheap? I'd say so! 

But does that mean I'm an enraged eco-activist? Hmmmmm.....

Finally, homeopathic teething remedies. As noted in a previous blog entry, I believe there is major weight in alternative medicinal practices. These include homeopathy, naturopathy, acupuncture, and reiki just to name a few. If there is any way you can treat yourself without using medicine or having to constantly see a doctor, I would rather do that. I wanted to see what options were out there for James when teething came around and I was quickly recommended the amber teething necklace. Baltic Amber has been used for centuries in Europe as a remedy to teething and other problems surrounding pain. Basically, the amber is rich in succinic  acid which is released when worn next to the skin. The skin absorbs this acid which is used by the body as a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. Awesome! Although James hasn't started cutting teeth yet, he does were his necklace 24/7. During the day, it's around his neck and over night I tie it around his ankle as a cool anklet. The science behind it makes sense to me. As does the fact that children have been teething for thousands of years and mothers must have been able to help their little ones through it before Children's Advil. In the long run, a $20 necklace is much cheaper than the bottles of Advil one child would go through to ease teething pain. Again, I wouldn't have to run to the store when it ran out. Check. Check. Check.

But does that mean that I'm completely anti-western medicine? Hmmm.... 

I think more than trying to identify with one group, or being labeled a certain type of parent, mothers and fathers should just do what makes sense, and keeps them sane, at the time. Regardless of what people think and how they perceive you. I know when I'm carrying James in his Ergo while he is rocking his amber necklace and fluffy cloth diapered bum, people might be sizing me up as "that type of parent". All the while, I'll be giggling to myself that I'm simply cheap, lazy and like things that make sense. 

What's your carp? 

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

12th Carp- 5KRace Runner ?

First of all, I am not a runner. If you ever meet me, you'll notice I'm definitely not built like a runner. To me, runners are slim and speedy. I'm more like the tortoise of the running world. Round, steady and if I fall onto my back, I won't be able to get back up again. 

But, when James was still baking I had this wild idea to run a 5K race three short months after he was born. I figured I would let myself heal for 6 weeks, until I get the go ahead from my doctor, and then I would start training. This was before the c-section, before James, before the crying and colic. When life post-baby was a vague future with me thinking I would be able to handle a new born and training all at the same time. I'm a woman right? We are pro's at multitasking. 

Well, needless to say, I didn't have any time to train. I spent my spare time napping with the occasional shower, not hitting the pavement. I would look at the calendar and realize that race day was fast approaching. I was already signed up and my mother-in-law was going to run with me. So I couldn't really back out, but I definitely wasn't looking forward to it. In fact, my Facebook status that day read: "Wow it's my first mothers day today! How am I celebrating ? 5 k run in Fredericton. Didn't train at all so it might turn into a 5k walk/ jog/ pass out at the finish line race." Oh... did I mention the race was on Mothers Day? My first mothers day and I might be spending it dead on my feet before reaching the finish line at 8:00 in the morning. Excellent. 

So we were getting ready. My mother-in-law by my side. She didn't train either so we had the game plan that we would run as much as we could and walk when we needed to. It's still an accomplishment if we finished, we thought. The gun went and we were off. I was running. I was running! I was running without shin splints that have plagued me for years, without my legs burning, without being short of breath. How on god's green Earth was I running without any pain/ problems at all when I've always struggled with run training? 

Then it dawned on me. I remembered all those nights I spent squatting, lunging, and consoling an inconsolable James. I had trained every night for the last 3 months! Just not on the roads or the trails, but in a 10X11 nursery. I felt great! I listened to 2 1/2 songs before my first 'break'. After a quick breather, we went at it again. In total, I think we probably ran 4 out of the 5 kilometers. Our time wasn't too bad either, considering, finishing the race after 37 minutes. Wow! Just wow! I was so proud of both of us. 

So now with James growing by leaps and bounds every day, I am actually going to dedicate some time to really get into race training. I even bought a running stroller so that I can take him along with me. I figured he helped me train for my first race, he should be with me while I continue my running journey. In fact, I have another race coming up in August that I want to challenge myself with. This time a 5 mile race which is about 8-ish kilometers. This is going to be more of a challenge, not only because of the increase in length, but also because the course itself has more hills. However, it doesn't matter. After that day, I know I can do it and I'm going to do it. Will I ever be a running enthusiast? Probably not. But I am definitely looking forward to crossing that off my bucket list. 

What's your carp? 

Monday, 7 May 2012

11th Carp- Motherhood survival

At first I thought I would be able to blog about my experience becoming a mother. I wanted to share the ups and downs from water breaking to cesarean birth. But luckily for me, I don't really need to write about that since Jon has done such a great job here:  http://attemptatliving.ca/

Now it's been almost three months since James has entered this world. Three wonderful, terrifying, challenging, and life changing months. Jon and I thought we knew what we were getting ourselves into heading down the road to parenthood but in reality, we had no idea. There was no book, no piece of advice, nothing that could have prepared ourselves for this journey. Although, leading up to it, I did feel better reading these "How to books" but like I have found in teaching, baby birthing and raising theory and practice never go hand in hand.

It's a minefield becoming a mother. I have grown in ways that I never knew were possible and have realized that patience is something I have in abundance. Which three and a half months ago I would have never believed it. I think that men and women both have this huge learning curve when it comes to turning on that parental switch. Both have our challenges and both have our rewards. The best way I have heard it explained is through this TED talk : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12OAr0lt4bk

Rufus and Alisa, in 17 minutes talk, us through the 4 facts of parenthood that we never can admit and why we should. I could really identify with all four and recommend and soon to be parents (or seasoned vets) to take a listen of what they have to say. The one that really struck a cord with me was loneliness. I felt such a deep routed loneliness throughout the days being home with James and not knowing what to do to care for this little baby. I went through weeks where I just cried all the time. I felt like I couldn't handle what I had signed up for and that it wasn't going to get any better. Feeling all of this, I knew I needed to break down my 'reach out for help' wall which I have kept in really good shape for the better part of my life. Perspective mothers out there, if you are like me, learn to suck it up early and get as much help as you can from as many different people/ sources as you can. Pick up the phone and call anyone that has even the tiniest understanding to what you are going through and call them often. For me, I knew I was just treading water but I still would be very reluctant to reach out to people. Luckily, I have a great support system and one who knew my tricks all too well and they would check in on me to chat. Once I started the conversation, I would just pour my heart out and I would feel so much better.

I would also like to add another fact to their list. Jealousy. James was such a mess as a newborn. I was so completely and utterly jealous of parents that could take their newborn anywhere. These 'perfect' babies, you know the type, would just be happy sitting in their car seat sleeping away or just looking around as if to say "I know I'm the cutest thing around". James on the other hand would cry himself hoarse for hours upon hours. We couldn't go anywhere or do anything without the cries following us there.We would rock him, sooth him, hold him, bounce with him, do lunges/ squats, sing and sometimes, when we just needed a break, put him in his crib and walk away. It was awful. I would just watch the clock tic to 10, 11, 12, 1 and on wards thinking "there is no possible way you have enough energy to go on".  Anyone who has had a baby like this, deemed 'colicky', needs a medal. It's the hardest thing you can ever go through. The one blessing is that James didn't care who was holding him, he didn't have a preference for Jon and I, so we were able to get some breaks by passing him to those brave individuals who wanted to take on 'the dragon'. (A nickname James acquired during these weeks)

Another thing I was jealous of was Jon. Mothers have their lives completely turned upside down. Their needs/ wants/ desires take a back seat to this little (crying) bundle of joy. Fathers, although they have their own challenges to work through, just don't have the same paradigm shift. I would look at Jon and life seemed to be as usual with him working out, playing xbox, making plans for future school Europe trips, getting full nights sleep and so on. We have talked about my jealousy because it was fast turning into resentment. And resentment is a hop, skip and a jump away from much more troublesome feelings. Plus with a baby like James, we need to be a solid unit to provide and care for him. But I think that most mothers, at one point or another, have these feelings of jealousy towards their partners. Again, my advice is to talk through it. Don't let it fester because nothing good will come out of that.

I would like to point out for perspective parents is that some people will have you believe that certain milestones will come and once they do, life will get easier. Well I waited for each of these milestones with bated breath, crossing off the days on the calendar, and crossing my fingers in hopes they would be right. In short, people are liars. They do it just to give you enough hope to carry on. Here is my breakdown of those supposed 'life will get better' turning points.

6 weeks- Although you might be feeling better at this point, your baby is still a mess. Most babies hit their fussiness peak around this time. Life will still be a tornado but at least you can look in the mirror and not be confused from the reflection. You are starting to look a little more like yourself.

8 weeks- "Oh after those two months, babies will start sleeping longer. You might even get a full nights rest". Again, liars. Hopefully by this time your baby will start realizing when nighttime is and daytime. If you are lucky enough for this to happen then you *might* get more hours of sleep during the night. But these 'more hours of sleep' are stints of 4-5 hours straight.

12 weeks- The people who told me it gets better after three months have been the most truthful out of everyone that gave me advice. Thank you for that, fellow pioneers in truth-telling when it comes to children. James is doing much better in terms of crying. He is smiling more. He is getting on a routine for naps and sleeping is not a fight most nights. He is interacting with the world around him. All of those things help get you through the day as little rewards to 'good parenting behaviour'.

However, he still isn't sleeping through the night and when he starts crying, he can shatter eardrums. But it is better. And if I were to ever give out advice, I would say that at the three month mark things start to really turn around. Although, looking back, it was a long hard road to get to this point, I'm glad I am finally here. Soon he will be cutting teeth and eating solids so I am going to enjoy this time as much as I can.

What's your carp?

Thursday, 2 February 2012

10th Carp- Creativity and Art

Hello All!

Well I have officially started my mat leave. Actually, I officially started my mat leave two weeks ago but it's funny how you can fill up spare time with lots of things to do. For some reason, blogging right at the beginning didn't occur to me. However, since Baby Standring is still stubbornly cocooned, not really interested in coming out, I thought that I would try for my last blog post that will probably not have anything to do with kids/ my kids/ parenting/ family etc.

My mat leave started earlier than I had originally planned. I wanted to go to the end of first semester so that my replacement could jump in and start their own thing the beginning of second semester. Funny thing about plans, they usually never go according to what you wanted in the first place. During Christmas Vacation I developed severe pain, weakness, and tingling in my hands. So much so I couldn't hold utensils the right way, drive, open anything, type or write. I was concerned with the state of my hands, thinking these two appendages are probably going to be pretty important in the next few months and need to be in top working condition. My doctor told me that some women develop pregnancy induced Carpal Tunnel due to the extra fluid in your body. Although not common, it is not unheard of either. I was prescribed two very stylish, personally made, wrist braces to see if that would make things better.

Well it did make the tingling go away, for the most part. The pain and weakness would get better with time. But I was still concerned about driving 30 minutes each way to work (in the winter where conditions can change within hours) without having the dependability of my hands. So I started mat leave early, cut out the drive back and forth, wore the braces, and miraculously my hands have been getting better day by day. It gave me an insight to what people with arthritis and constant carpal tunnel have to go through everyday to function. I now say that I have complete respect for you ladies and gentlemen after living it, and still living it as they aren't exactly healed yet. It's awful not being able to do the things you enjoy because of the pain radiating from your hands which you just can't stop.

So what have I been doing with my spare time? Well.... getting back to an old friend and love of mine. Art. I have always had an artsy brain since I was very young which my mother encouraged. She would buy me new drawing pencils, water colours, paint brushes etc for presents to keep my interest going with some pretty good quality art supplies. (I still have my first set of professional drawing pencils I was given at the age of 12.) She would praise my work and critique what I could do to make my paintings and drawings better. Although she never was an 'artist' she does have a great eye for what is aesthetically pleasing and gave me ideas to accomplish this in my work. She would even sign me up for different art classes to gain some knowledge about the mediums I was using and techniques to bring to my work. What an awesome mom!

As I grew older, entered high school, art was pushed aside for things that would get me into University and secure my success in life. So long paint brushes, hello physics- kind of thing. This was a trend that would continue for many years, sadly, as there just wasn't enough time in the day to be creative. However, every few years I would take some time to return to my artistic side, give into it, and become a creating machine. I took time in the later part of university to do an Oil Course, take Fine Art credits, and really allow myself some artistic time. Looking back, I probably should have tried to do a double major in History and Fine Arts. It would have made the whole of my university career that much more enjoyable.

So now, with time on my hands like I never had before and with the encouragement of my husband who, for the exception of one of my pieces, really enjoys my work, I thought that it was time to get creating again. I mean.... I am passively creating life inside me maybe I can turn this into being a participant for creation through new techniques and artwork? Now with the internet and a plethora of materials, courses, and information at your finger tips, I could take courses from home that could challenge my style and teach me new techniques.

Thus I was introduced to the Strathmore Online Art Series Workshops! Free of charge I was able to get a new lesson every week for the month of January. The workshop was a multimedia course designed to loosen artists up, and be more free with their painting. The artist, Traci Bautista, guided her students to create using doodles, layers, mantras, and a whole pile of different print making techniques. I was in LOVE! This completely went hand in hand with my more impressionistic style of painting while showing me how to mix media to create pieces that I have always been envious about.

I had the drive... I had the desire... I had the time... and the materials.... and the online course... but my stupid hands would not co-operate with allowing me to paint for more than 30 minutes at a time. I usually am unstoppable when I start a new piece. I will sit for hours and hours until it is completed. So the fact that I had to start and stop was very frustrating. The only positive thing that came out of it was that I really had to wait for some layers to dry before continuing with the piece. If I would have plowed right through it, I would have created muddy pieces without any depth or life because the different mediums would have just mixed together. It also gave me time to reflect about where I was heading with each piece and I turned artwork that I thought I would hate, into prints that I absolutely love. Apparently, it pays to be patient and stick with it. You never know what the next layer is going to bring out.

So my carp for everyone today is to get back to something creative that you enjoy. Something that you have been putting off because of time constraints or thinking that it just doesn't fit with your lifestyle anymore. Whether it be writing, knitting, crocheting, painting, drawing, woodcarving, scrapbooking, t-shirt dying... ANYTHING! It's good for your soul to be able to express itself through something you create with your hands.

What's your carp?