Friday, January 31, 2014

The Rundown

So...
You know that feeling when you're working on an essay in Word or something and everything is going well and you're almost done and you have like, 80 pages?  Then all of sudden your computer shuts down and you realize you forgot to save and the autosave effed up so you're left with only the FIRST line you wrote?
Yeah, that's what happened to this blog post I'd been working on for the better part of a week and a half.
It was hard to get started on the post as it was about Ava's birthday and it was super long because I felt like EVERY detail was important and needed to get written down and remembered forever.  And now, I've got nada.
Awww, man.  Realizing my post is gone.

Waaah!
So, since the Little Miss is staying awake a bit longer during the day and I've lost the will to re-write everything at the moment, I figured I'd just do quick update and then I can just work on the epic novel another time.
So in a nutshell, what's been happening in the last two weeks?
Ava Grace
January 19, 2014 @ 6:37 pm

Met this little girl and she took over my whole world.
Despite the fact that all I could focus on and see was her, unfortunately, the epidural wore off and I could definitely feel things. Post-partum situation?  OMG.  As unprepared as I felt I was for labor and childbirth (regardless of how much I tried to prepare ahead of time), I was way more unprepared for the after.  Not life after with a baby, but just dealing with myself personally and handling everything physically.

Yeah, sorry, I went there #sorrynotsorry.  And also, sorry for those not prepared for what I'm going to discuss, but the Little Miss needed a little help making her entrance into this world and it took the form of something that looked like salad tongs.  Giant ones.  Post-epidural, let me just say that it doesn't feel like a prance in the park.  And regardless of salad tongs or not, post-birthing sort of resembles the aftermath of a serial killer's area.  Dexter's job had nothin' on what it felt like when I was standing in that bathroom. 
Okay, that's all I'll say about it for now.  Since you went into this unprepared and that's not really fair *LOL* Just know that if you're a guy, there is nothing you can ever really experience that I will ever feel sorry for you.  I also no longer believe in equality among the sexes, because after everyone and their mailmen practically got to see me and the new relationship I formed with a squirt bottle and all the other things that I had to go through so that new little human could come out looking like her daddy while I more closely resemble her sour milk smelling nanny, I'm sorry, but giving birth to new life just can't be equal to guys. #justsaying
Image Source: Melanie & Justin

Booked it such a long time ago that it was still hard to believe that the time had finally come (or that we actually had a little human!) but seven days after her entrance into the world, the Little Miss had her first photoshoot and she was a complete diva, pronounced Dee-VAAAAH!
Photo Source: @Si11ySkitt1es on Instagram

A few days later, I got a bit of a "me time" break in the form of a walk with the fluffy little man.  I wanted to make sure that the pup was as comfortable as possible with the new changes to his world so Bart and I were both trying hard to give him a little extra love.  When he came home, it was so sad because he looked so out of sorts.  He would kind of just sit there in the middle of the room and look like he didn't know what to do with himself or where to go.  Awww, fluffy heart melt!  So he's getting a couple extra little treats (still no food off the table, vacation time at Grandma's is OVAH!) and we're making sure he's getting quality walks as opposed to just being let out in the backyard.
This walk was also nice because I was finally able to get back into my Skora running shoes!  It felt like the new-new me was meeting the old-new me.  I'd stopped wearing my Skora shoes about 8 months into my pregnancy because I didn't want to risk breaking in the new shoes in case my form/gait or whatever was changed while carrying a baby and extra weight.  At a week and a half post-partum, my feet had finally stopped looking like fat, hairless hobbit feet so I was excited to get my Skora on!
While walking, I tried to break out into the slowest of jogs to see what it felt like and then stopped.  Gravity isn't a friend to a week and a half post-partum woman, so I quickly stopped and just went back to walking.  I know I'm eager to try to get back into my pre-pregnancy lifestyle, but I had to admit to myself that I have time.  There's no rush and I just need to take care of myself and the little one.

Of COURSE Mother Nature decides to get her snowmageddon on after we've got a little one.  Despite the fact that Bart had a diaper kegger before the Little Miss came, we were still pretty surprised how fast she went through her newborn size diapers.  We quickly realized that we'd have to go out and get more and all around us, people are having to push their cars in and out of their driveways because of the snow.
Having spent the mornings of his parental leaves shoveling snow, Bart finally gave in and got himself a new toy.  I was hoping this would mean that Murphy's Law would come into play and him getting a snow blower would mean that it would never snow again.  Nope, two days after Bart got his toy, more snow.  GAH!  Bart gave me another little mini "me" break and I was able to step out to do a quick Walmart run for some more diapers and other random things that I totally threw in the cart randomly.
And that's pretty much it for now!  Those are pretty much the little moments that happen in between the feeding, diaper changing, spit up cleaning and rocking and then we do it all over again.  And then in between those things, I try to keep things tidy and wash and fold the massive piles of onesies and sleepers that smell like sour milk spit up - just like this new mommy I know of. *wince*
On that note, I can wrap this up as the General is now awake. Yes, I totally jump to attention (and in fear) when her sweet little eyes flutter open.  I usually have exactly three minutes to get her changed dry and a boob in her mouth before she screeches bloody murder. #wordtobigbird

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Then and Now: My Original 2002 Bucket-List

After much tag/label searching, I finally found my original list that I made back in 2002.

CONFESSION: I also took some time out to read some reeeeally old posts from the good ol' LiveJournal and I know I was just writing for myself to remember things I did, but holy crap.  You know how sometimes you get embarrassed by hearing your own recorded voice played back to you?  I was kind of embarrassed reading some entries.

Looking at it, it seems that I didn't really have high aspirations as an 18/19 year old (example: #47. Get a job at the mall) but looking through them more, I think I'm going to rename these lists the "Random Small Things That I May Not Remember to I Want to Do But Would Like to Someday" list. 

I think the whole idea is just to have random things that I may be able to accomplish without thinking about it so that one day, 12 years later, I can look through them and see if I can check anything else off.

So let's jump right in then, shall we?  Anything in pink, I've done since the last time I ever went through this list and checked things off (I'm going to guess 2005 since that's the last date that pops up when looking through things) and anything else italicized, my 2014 self wanted to voice thoughts about...

  1. Go on a cruise January 8, 2003 @ Ali'i Kai in Hawaii
  2. Make my own dress
    I think the point behind this was that I just wanted to know how to sew, henceforth have the ability to make my own dress
  3. Get braces January 6, 2004 @ Dr. Pus'
  4. Ride on a horse December 18, 2002 in the Philippines
  5. Go on a trip without my parents June 26 - July 3, 2005 - Punta Cana, Dominican Republic with Bart
  6. Fall asleep with someone June 12, 1999 - telling ghost stories with Francis, Marian and Mariel
  7. Go waterskiing
  8. Get dipped while dancing November 22, 2003 @ Staples Christmas Party
  9. Catch the bouquet
    I think this might be out of the running now... (you know, in a good way!)
  10. Go white water rafting
  11. Write a book
  12. Go on a no-holds barred shopping spree
    I think what I really meant behind this is "have the money to GO ON one...."
  13. Drive on the left side of the road (meaning I'm somewhere where it's legal!)
  14. See an actual waterfall January 9, 2003 @ Waimea Falls, Hawaii
  15. See a volcano January 9, 2003 @ Diamond Head, Hawaii
  16. Get my legs waxed
    Whyyyy would I want to do this? Ever? I must have forgotten that I'm Asian...
  17. Drive a big-rig truck
  18. Read all books by John Grisham
  19. Go rollerskating October 2005 @ Cambridge Roller Rink with Bart
  20. Have someone ask for me phone number September 3, 2002 - O-Week @ Laurier
  21. Be on a gameshow
  22. Be featured in a magazine
  23. Go to the zoo July 18, 2003 - Metro Toronto Zoo with Bart, Kristine & Jazzy
  24. Go to a concert January 2008 - Three Days Grace
  25. Have a walk-in closet
  26. Meet someone who looks like me
  27. Go to a drive-in September 1, 2003 - Guelph Drive-in with Melinda & Bart
  28. Go to one of those bars in the water September 2007 - Sirenis la Salina, Mexico (Honeymoon)
  29. Learn to play the guitar
  30. See an actual igloo
  31. Go to a strip club
  32. Ride on a motorcycle
  33. Write a romance novel
  34. Eat an escargot
  35. Win a large amount of money at a casino (over $500)
  36. Build a giant sandcastle
  37. Watch a scary movie without shutting my eyes once
    Big wuss that I am, I doubt this will ever happen.  I've made peace with it. *LOL*
  38. Find something and find out it's valuable of Antique Roadshow
  39. Make humongous bubbles
  40. Whisper all night with someone
    I've learned that I value sleep too much to really want to cross this off my list...
  41. Learn how to skip rocks over water August 3, 2003 @ Grand Bend with Bart and EJ
  42. Go snowmobiling
  43. Swim with sharks June 27, 2005 in Punta Cana, DR
  44. Get all dressed up and see a ballet
  45. Go to a football game September 2, 2002 - O-Week @ Laurier
  46. Have a secret admirer
  47. Get a job at the mall
    *LOL* Wow, I had high aspirations in 2002
  48. Win the lottery
    I'd probably have to commit to buying tickets first...
  49. Cut my hair super short (above my shoulders counts as super short) May 2010 - Before trip to Europe
  50. Go skinny dipping
  51. Learn how to tango
  52. Slide down a winding staircase bannister
  53. Catch a firefly
  54. Learn how to figure skate twirl
  55. Drive a BMW
  56. Jump on a trampoline
  57. Swim with tropical fish June 27, 2005 in Punta Cana, DR with Bart
  58. Go snowshoeing
  59. Get a bellybutton ring July 4, 2003 @ Tora Tattoo with Melissa
  60. Go to a luau January 10, 2003 @ Germaine's Luau in Hawaii
  61. Be in a limbo contest
  62. Have a love song sang to me September 20, 2003 - Bart sang me "I Swear" by All 4 One
  63. See a jelly fish December 18, 2002 @ Villa del Prada Beach, Philippines
  64. Jump in puddles in the rain August 23, 2003 @ Grand Bend with Bart and EJ
  65. Go up the CN Tower January 23, 2005 with Bart
  66. See a circus September 2013 - Cirque de Soleil
  67. Bake a cake May 2011 - After signing up for cake decorating classes and finding out we had to bake the cake first
  68. See a broadway show
  69. Be in a parade
  70. Graduate from University 2007
  71. Ride in a hot air balloon
  72. Go to a hockey game Night with the Leafs @ Work 2008
  73. Build a giant snowman
  74. Get a mud bath
  75. Go sailing June 30, 2005 in Punta Cana, DR with Bart
  76. Speak in multiple languages
  77. Go on a road trip
    I'm not sure how far a distance counts as a road trip, but as I've yet to get in the car and drive anywhere while yelling out "ROOOOAD TRIP", I'm going to say I haven't been on one yet...does driving to Virginia Beach count?
  78. Solve a mystery
    Again, I kind of wish 2002 me was a little more specific.  How much of a mystery are we talking about here?  Like a murder?  How the caramel gets in the Caramilk bar? Who didn't put the toilet seat down?
  79. Stay at a cottage
  80. Go to a bar mitzvah
    Might need to add "know a Jewish person" somewhere on this list before this can get crossed off...
  81. Ride in a helicopter
  82. See real pyramids (Egypt)
  83. Get out of a speeding ticket
  84. Adopt an animal
  85. Keep a pet for longer than a year December 25, 2004 - March 17, 2006 RIP Barf
  86. Go ballroom dancing
  87. Learn self-defense
  88. Take CPR classes 2008 - CPR classes with Melissa
  89. Win a big prize at a midway game
  90. Learn how to hotwire a car
  91. Get my fortune told 2011 - Psychic Fair
  92. Learn to drive a stick shift June 29, 2003 with Joe Wycoco in his Jetta
  93. Go to Mardi Gras
  94. Skate at Rockefeller Center
  95. Go on a carriage ride in Central Park
  96. Slow dance under the stars
  97. Fly a kite Summer 2002 @ Sauble Beach with EJ, Bart and Sabrina
  98. Eat a banana split August 22, 2003 @ Dairy Queen with Linda
Is it sad that in the nine years since the last time I crossed something off this list, I've only been able to cross off nine more things?
Hopefully there will be more things that can get crossed off this year and since I was in the mood for all things list-y, I have already started an updated version of my bucket list of randomness!  I currently have 68 new things on this list!  Should probably gather it all together in one giant list of lists to make sure I haven't repeated myself *LOL*
Q: Do you have a bucket list of randomness?
Q: Anything on it that you absolutely MUST do?

31 Things: To Do in 2014

As of January 14, 2014, this is what I have so far...
 
  1. Meet my daughter
  2. Complete a Warrior Dash
  3. Get back to pre-pregnancy weight
  4. Complete another round of Insanity
  5. Run half-marathon distance (in preparation for the Disney Princess Half-Marathon)
  6. Visit Ripley's Aquarium in Toronto 
  7. Place higher than 3rd in my age group for the Niagara Falls International Marathon 2K

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Link Love

So I'm thinking it may have been a mistake to start my mat leave early.
At the time it seemed like a good idea.  I work in an educational setting where there was a natural break in work time when the holidays started and it didn't seem to make sense to come back to work for a week and a half (or maybe less) in the new year only to have to leave again, so I made the decision to just begin my mat leave after the holidays was over.  I thought it would be a good time to get any last minute things in order at the house to prepare for the Little Miss, but I guess I was a lot more productive than I gave myself credit for as there isn't much more to do and there's still no baby.  (I am aware that I will probably look back on this and wish I never said anything at all - I swear I'm not complaining!)

While I'm not complaining, I'm not sure what Bart is thinking.  With all this time and me "preparing" seems to equal SHOPPING!  Is it a bad thing that in the last few days, I can't think of anything else I could possibly buy but the delivery vans are still making frequent stops to our place?
Today was a good mail day!

Package 1 of 2:

Kiinde Twist Gift Set
Image Source: http://www.kiinde.com
Kiinde Twist Gift Set ($99.99 Amazon.com)
Kiinde Twist Starter Set ($49.99 Amazon.ca) | Kiinde Kozii Bottle Warmer ($69.99 Amazon.ca)
I have recently been following the Pregnant Chicken blog and she did a monthly roundup of some of her favourite products recently and the Kiinde Twist Breastfeeding product came up.  We've pretty much gotten everything off of our baby registry except for bottles for some reason.  So since I was on the lookout for bottles, I thought I would check out what this was and it seemed like something that was right up my alley!  The disposable breastfeeding pouches attach directly to any breast pump which then eliminates the need to transfer any pumped milk to a storage bag and then to a bottle.  The pouch can act as pump reservoir, the freezable bag and then can be defrosted and attached to a bottle so that the baby can get the milk directly.  And then the best part? (At least what sold it for me) The pouches are disposable which means that once it's been used, it gets recycled and there's no need for washing or sanitizing!

The Kozii bottle warmer unfortunately is sold separately through the Amazon.ca website, but is available included in a gift set through Amazon.com (no affiliation) for $99.99 US.  I ended up just going through Amazon.ca as they offered free shipping, so at the end of the day, I think the prices work out to be pretty close to the same with the exchange and everything.  The free shipping took no time at all either, as I think I got the shipping notice the same day I ordered and then the package came two days later!

As there's no little miss yet, I haven't had much of a chance to really play around with it besides unboxing it, but I'm kind of excited to try it out (you know you're an adult when you're excited about breastfeeding products?!) and I'm hoping to have a review up for any preggos/mamas out there who may be interested in hearing more about it!

Package 2 of 2:

Newborn Photoshoot Apparel
Image Source: http://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/Chicbebesboutiques

I'm dying from cuteness overload!
Instead of Christmas presents to each other, Bart and I decided that we would gift each other/ourselves with our first family photoshoot once Little Miss arrived.  It would be a mixture of newborn photoshoot that seems to be all the rage these days (no judgement here, I LOVES looking at them and can't wait for Little Miss to have her own!) and our first family portraits.
Of course, when you look at some of the newborn photoshoots, one of the other things that stand out (besides the cute little newborn baby of course!) are the little props and outfits that the babies are in if they aren't butt nekkid.  So of COURSE I got carried away and got it into my head that the Little Miss MUST have some cute little outfits or details to wear for her own photoshoot!  I did a quick Google search and was lucky enough to find this Etsy shop with the added bonus of being local! 
While it took me FOREVER to decide what to pick as there were so many cuuuute options, the shipping was fast (sadly, even though I'm local, product pick-up wasn't an included option to save on shipping - but when I inquired, the shop owner gladly gave me my own coupon code to save %!) and again, all that's left is needing a sweet little girl to dress up and take photos of while I cuddle her and bite her little cheeks!!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! *coughs* Sorry, sometimes I get carried away!
So that was lovely mail day!  Sadly, I don't think I have any other orders left that I'm waiting on, so my affair with the postal delivery people has come to an anticlimactic close.  It was fun while it lasted - felt like birthdays and Christmas for a while there, actually! *LOL*
But while I'm giving some link love, I wanted to include two blogs that have just been started!
Beyond Stretchy Pants (http://www.beyondstretchypants.com)
Image Source: Beyond Stretchy Pants Blog
My friend Sarah has recently begun her foray into the blogging world (miiight have something to do with that I'm a whiny nagger) with Beyond Stretchy Pants and you can't even tell she's new at it as her blog is A-Mazeballs already.  She's already featured some awesome links and articles and her blog is all about fitness and health with the added depth of living with intention which I think I love more than anything else!  It's inspiring, thought out and has lunch box show and tell!
Dawne Aliza (http://dawnealiza.blogspot.com)
Image Source: Dawne Aliza Blog
My cousin, Dawne, of IG popularity has also finally started a blog which I am totes mgotes excited about (it might look a bit familiar, no?)  Being the gorgeous girl that she is, her blog mainly focuses on fashion, make-up and beauty with the added bonus of promo codes to awesome fashion and beauty product companies and giveaways and tutorials.  Don't be fooled though, this hot chicky's also got her BSc in nursing and psych and can run a hospital floor like nobody's business!
Hopefully I can grab her from her busy schedule to do a guest post for me some day because non-shower/rainbow kneesock wearing days aside, I do sometimes like to get dolled up and pretty and girly (whaaat?) every once in a while so I could use a tip or two!
Q: Are there any baby products/websites you know of that I MUST visit?
Q: What is your hands-down favourite blog ever?  I'm always looking to add to my blog roll! 
Disclosure: The above post contains affiliate links to Amazon.ca.  If you have any further questions or concerns regarding this blog's affiliations, please click here or check out the Affiliates tab. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Stretching it out - anytime, anywhere!

Having just started my adventures with changing my lifestyle to a healthier one (even though at the point where I was at, anything was healthier than eating at McDonald's for breakfast, lunch and dinner) and getting fit and active, I went into my pregnancy knowing that I wanted to keep up with everything that I had learned and had been doing the past months.
Of course, that was the plan.  Who knew the power of wanting to eat.ALL.the.THINGS!  
I eat my feelings.  And pregnancy hormones did NOT help!
 
I know I've mentioned this a bunch of times that I had higher hopes for my eating habits during pregnancy and they went out the window and I'm not entirely sure why.  I mean, I guess I could fall back on the whole pregnancy and slave to cravings approach, but a lot of the time, I wonder if I didn't just take advantage of the "excuse" to go back to my poor eating choice ways.
I am hoping that what I lacked in food choices I made up for in exercise as I tried very hard to ensure that I stayed active - at least after that first trimester of lazy/insane tiredness.  
Unfortunately, my pregnancy fitness hopes and dreams seemed to take a nosedive once I hit the 35 - 36 week mark.  Everything just seemed so much harder and required more effort - including breathing!  And I'm not only talking about hitting the 5k mark (oh, who am I kidding, it was a struggle just to maintain the 3k I was doing) and with it being my first pregnancy, little twinges here and there were common and while I tried to ignore them or maintain that they were normal twinges, I was still of the first-time mama paranoia that after that point, I pretty much just ceased all forms of exercise.  Unless you count flailing my arms and legs while on my back like a beached whale when trying to get up and out of bed every morning - then at least I'd have that for exercise - or walking up and down EVERY.SINGLE.AISLE at Target to make sure I don't miss anything for over an hour...does that count as exercise?

Even though I don't have any previous pregnancies to compare it to, I know that being active during the pregnancy has probably helped me in more ways than I know how and sometimes I get kind of down on myself for stopping now and letting my little complaints and excuses get to me.  Does it help if I promise for my next pregnancy that I'll push a little bit harder?  Is it bad that I comfort myself by telling myself that pre-lifestyle change, I wouldn't have done ANYTHING and would have stuffed everything into my mouth anyway?  So...win-win?  No?
CONFESSION: Currently, I have gained 40 lbs during my pregnancy which I have conflicting feelings about (of course - when do I not?)
However, in the absence of my woggling/waffling and other heart-rate increasing activities, I have been doing a lot more stretching as I'm noticing that the further into this pregnancy I get, I am not actually immune to the other pregnancy complaints that I've heard other people mention.
Note: I'm not saying that having an active/healthy lifestyle will make your pregnancy symptom-free, I can only just guess that it definitely didn't hurt to have anod I'm hoping that it at least contributed to the overall positive pregnancy I experienced.
Earlier on, I tried buying a prenatal yoga DVD since I've found success with other DVD programs, but...well, it's yoga.  I have a hard enough time taking it seriously (depending on the class and instructor) in real life, so being at home with typical tinkly new age music and a soft, lilting yoga instructor voice breathlessly urging me to release energy through the tips of my toes just wasn't going to happen.
CONFESSION: I don't think that about ALL yoga classes.  I have actually enjoyed some really GOOD yoga experiences, but I've noticed for myself, there's a fine line between being in tune with yourself and wanting to burst out laughing when I'm encouraged to release sunshine bursts of energy through my knees, because how? #sorrynotsorry?
Luckily, I found Knocked-Up Fitness through Instagram and her website, blog posts and tips have been enough to help me out in what I was looking for.  
Because I am prone to sit for long periods of time, I've noticed that anytime I find myself sitting, getting up is difficult to do not only because of the extra weight that being 39 weeks along has gotten me, but because everything seems to have stiffened up.  Most notably, my lower back, hips/pelvis and thighs.
I don't set aside any actual special time to do any stretches or exercises, but I find myself doing them in the weirdest times and places, ie. shower, kitchen while cooking, in the driveway after getting out of the car, in the aisles at Target
CONFESSION: This makes my bill astronomical as I've been known to come out wrinkly and prune-y *LOL* TMI? 
Since my back is usually the first to make itself known to me, I usually start with "toe touches".  Just bending over and reaching out as far as I can to touch my toes helps stretch things out quite nicely.  Depending on where I am and how much space I have, once I've done a few "toe touches" (because let's face it, I bent down once and didn't even recognize my own feet - actually coming close to touching them is non-existent), getting down on all fours and doing back arches always feels good.  I've since learned that these are called Cat Cows?! (because why? I have no idea)
It's hard for me to get up from any kind of seated or lower positions so these days, most of the stretches and moves that I do are standing.  Apparently trying to get up while grunting, panting and sweating is NOT at all attractive.
The last couple moves that I usually end up doing before the day is over are some hip openers (I don't know if that's actually what they are but that's what I call them) and I don't have a picture or video of it right now, so I'll see if I can explain it to you and you can pretend you totally get what I'm saying:
Stand with your left or right side to the wall (you will alternate after so it doesn't really matter) using the wall to hold yourself up and steady.  I like to start by bringing my knee (the one that's farthest from the wall) up and forward in front of me and then circling that knee out to the side and downwards - so at the end it, you've technically drawn a "circle" in the air with your knee.  I like it because I feel like it helps loosen and open the hips and pelvis area.  To work the other leg, you would just turn around and use your other hand to hold yourself steady against the wall and repeat the same step with your other knee.  I usually do a few rotations on each side and I find that that helps loosen things up quite nicely.
The last is my "drop it anywhere squat".  Which basically means, no matter where I am or what I'm doing, if I get the idea into my head, I'll go ahead and do a couple squats.  And yes it looks weird if you're doing them in the cereal box aisle at Target and someone comes around the corner and tries to go down the same aisle and you have to squat all the way down to pretend you were trying to get a box of cereal from the lowest shelf.  While my plan is to never squat my baby into existence, doing squats on the regular as helped me open up the hips and pelvis (probably - again, I can't say I'm the most knowledgeable about these things, I can only tell you what it feels like to me) and I'm hoping it'll help pave the way for me to get back to the pre-pregnancy butt. #soshallow
And look-y here!  In the midst of this blog post, I managed to guilt myself enough by talking about how I feel like I could have done more and actually went out to the track with Tara to get a brisk walk in!
Three days until due date and I'm wafflin' away (more walk than shuffle, though :S)

CONFESSION: And then I promptly went home and curled up in my complicated Snoogle/three pillow nest and passed out.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Let's take a walk...

...down memory lane, shall we?
When I first started blogging about this new, healthy lifestyle change journey that I was embarking upon, I couldn't wait until I had some content.  I mean, it's fun to start a blog and to do the introduction and first few posts, but I wanted my blog to be into the nitty gritty already.  I couldn't WAIT to post after pictures and celebrate anniversaries.  Getting to those milestones proved that I had stuck with it and that I was seeing results.
October 2nd was my official anniversary date - or as I've seen some people refer to it: Fitaversary.  The actual intent to make the change to adopt a healthier lifestyle actually came a couple weeks before that, but October 2nd was also when I joined the gym and had a "BLOG POST: memorable encounter", so it was easier to use that date as a starting off-point.
I had wanted to do a celebratory fitaversary post for quite some time, but a couple things seem to have gotten in the way:
  1. I kind of totally forgot all about it
  2. On that anniversary date, I wasn't exactly in the place I imagined I would be for my "triumphant" one year story that was going to inspire the universe into joining me on the healthy lifestyle change journey
Don't get me wrong, just because I'm not where I imagined I would be doesn't mean that I don't love where I am now.  As I type, I am currently celebrating a "milestone" (or so my E-Mail reminder tells me): today marks my 39th week of pregnancy.  What that generally means is that technically, I have one week to go until I hit my official due date, but realistically, I could go into labour and meet the little miss at any time.

38 Weeks • Source: Instagram


CONFESSION: I'm pretty sure she's going to go by way of her mama and show up "Filipino Time" which is to say LATE

Anywho, despite those two points that delayed my taking the time to look back and reflect on the past year, I've decided that it will be worth it for me to think back - especially at this time when I'm hoping that in a few weeks (or six), I can start to resume some kind of fitness schedule to pick back up where I left off.

KNOW YOUR WHY
I guess for many people, there usually has to be a why in order to do something.  Even though I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I was overweight, my why wasn't because I wanted to get skinny.  I like to think that I was fortunate enough not to have my self-esteem and self-worth attached to my weight.  There was no desire for me to get skinny in order to love myself or feel confident or whatnot.  Instead it was almost a rock-bottom situation.  It was sitting there eating my lunch of McDonald's sandwich ordered with extra mayo on it and on the side for my super-sized fries (and it had to be McDonald's because the day before I ate lunch at Wendy's and the day before that it was Harvey's and we would be going out somewhere else for dinner that night, too) and finally realizing that THIS cannot be my whole life.  Finally realizing that I can't spend my whole life (and Bart's) trying to decide which fast food restaurant to go to and basing the decision on whether we were already there that week.  It was trying to see a future with kids and wondering how I was going to feed them and if it was going to be like THIS.

More than anything else, above all those inspirational moments where other people say it's because they want to change for this and that reason, for me, it was just looking at what my life was like and how it revolved around where I would eat next and not being able to stomach another day like it.  It was just really finally being able to see that I couldn't let it stay like this and I wasn't going to wait for anything more dramatic to happen to let that be my why.

KNOW THYSELF / KNOW THY ENEMY / BE IN THE KNOW
I think what was working for me (I can't stress this enough so I'm going to italicize it: for me, but I'm going to mention things in the hopes that you will also find them useful) was before jumping into anything any making promises and brash decisions was knowing myself in order to clarify a few things.  And I think what I mean by this is by being brutally honest with yourself.  It's nice to have hopes and aspirations of things that you wish you are or hope to become, but when setting out to make a healthy lifestyle change, you have to start first by acknowledging who or what you already are.

This includes knowing, owning up to, admitting/acknowledging your faults and weaknesses in order to come up with a plan to help you get the best possible results.

CONFESSION: I think another thing that also made the change successful for me (well, up until I gave myself over to the preggo cravings and began to #eatALLthethings) is that it was made after a lot of thought and NOT at a standard point in time, for example: New Year's.  While I know that people can be successful in keeping new year's resolutions, knowing myself and acknowledging who I was, it meant that any resolutions I made were more likely to have been made as "following the masses" as opposed to something I was honestly wanting to do for myself.

So when I first really started thinking seriously about making changes, I had to think first of the things about myself that would sabotage what I was about to undertake so that I could make plans to combat it.

First was FOOD.  I could have sat there and resolved to run a marathon or work on being the next ultimate frisbee superstar (is there even such a thing? Hopefully not, so maybe I could be it!) but what I had already heard was that exercise wasn't all there was to it.  I don't know the exact starts or anything, but from my own experience, I feel like, exercise, while it's important and most definitely always goes hand-in-hand with a healthy diet, only attributes to about 20% of health.

CONFESSION: Yes, I totally pulled that number out of my butt.  I have no actual basis for it besides my own observations

For me, my enemy was FOOD. I guess I shouldn't generalize.  It was actually FAST food.  Deep fried food.  Fatty food.  Salty food.  Back then, all encompassed under one description: DELICIOUS food.  If it wasn't fast, fried, fatty or salty, it wasn't good and I didn't want it.

And I'm not talking about every once in a while treats.  This - on an ALMOST daily basis - was a reality for me every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner - if I bothered to eat breakfast at all.

Unfortunately for me, Shaun T, Fryday was all day, errryday back then!


Looking back, I'm a little bit shocked and a lot ashamed at the fact that I allowed myself to do that and that I didn't suffer anything serious (and the fear is there that I may still suffer the ramifications of what I allowed myself to eat in the future)

So in knowing one aspect of myself, I was able to identify an enemy.  But just like in those Mario Brothers video games, you don't just get to battle the big bad right away.  You have to go through his minions first.  Little enemies.  Once I identified the ultimate enemy, I had to know what he would be throwing at me and that involved knowing myself in order to identify my tendencies and habits even more.  It wasn't enough for me to just say: "Okay people, from now on, I'm going to eat healthy!"  Half-hearted intentions were not going to get me where I wanted to go.

HOW would I eat healthy!  HOW would I sabotage myself and therefore HOW can I avoid that?

First, I didn't eat breakfast.  So, step one: eat breakfast!  This took a while to really get down and it was a lot of trial and error and it also involved becoming knowledgeable.  First I had cereal.  Then once I had acquired sufficient knowledge to ascertain that cereal (well, at least the kind I was eating) was definitely not in line with the goals I had in mind, I changed things up.

Second, I ate out at lunch and almost all dinners.  So, step two: stop doing that.  How?  MAKE MY OWN FOOD.  PACK MY OWN FOOD.  Within this, there was more identifying and planning.  Again, it's not just enough to up and announce "I'm going to PACK MY LUNCH!" it doesn't mean anything if you're not prepared and don't have a plan.  It involved planning in advance, grocery shopping, taking the time to prep and then putting all that into action. 

Even with all these plans, preparations and knowledge in place.  It's not to say that everything always went swimmingly.  Once you've discovered the solid things you can tackle, ie. food, fitness/exercise, there's the things to address that are harder.

That almost every day, you have to admit that you're human.  And that if you've been brutally honest with yourself, that sometimes - more often than not - you're lazy.  You're tired.  You're a procrastinator.  And that sometimes, the best laid plans don't really go as planned.  The next part (for me, at least) was harder.  It's telling myself multiple times a day that it's not going to be easy.  It was trying to make myself understand every day that it was going to take TIME.  It was KNOWING that I was going to fail more than ONCE (heck, in a DAY) but that I have to keep GOING.  Which means I will be required to find that very fine line between being tough on myself and being able to forgive myself. 



TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE
Next up for me was accountability.  Again, how many times did I know myself to post those New Year's resolutions and then have them go to the wayside without even a hint of regret.

This time was going to be different in that I had to really tell myself that I can post things and say things all I want to everyone else, but there'd be no fooling anyone but myself if I didn't actually put in the effort, willpower and work.

First step to really start change, as many self help groups have proclaimed - it's admitting you have a problem.  Or facing it head on.  In the back of my head (and forefront of my closet), I knew that I was overweight - and not just to the point where I'd gained a few pounds, but obese.  I found a lot of ways in order to deal with that on a daily basis by wearing clothes that I felt comfortable in or "flattered" my body shape, but in order to undertake the "healthy lifestyle change" I had to really make myself see that I was unhealthy.



While I didn't SPECIFICALLY set out to lose weight or to "get skinny", one of the most tangible ways to gauge your health is your body (or you know, if you had a heart attack or whatever, that would work too...)  So I finally had to face mine.  In all its glorified...mass.

CONFESSION: One of the most unhealthy things I used to do (besides stuff my face with crap) was to see myself and to compare myself to someone bigger.  Once that was done, I would be able to rationalize that in comparison, I wasn't that bad, or promise myself that I wouldn't let myself get worse than that person.  Not acknowledging the fact that the people I compared myself to were taller or who carried their weight different and that if I had just looked at myself and myself ALONE, I would have known that at 5'0" and weighing in at over 202 lbs (that was when I first weighed myself after starting the lifestyle change - so I don't think I'll ever really know how heavy I ever got) was NOT good compared to anybody.  (Also, I am aware that this was such an asshole tactic).

Once I also learned that things that sound healthy may not necessarily be healthy, the next step was to be honest with myself about what I was eating.

For this, I turned to MyFitnessPal.

I had used this online tool a few years back in order to help me lose a small amount of weight (the minimum amount of weight I needed to lose in order to fit into the largest size bridesmaid dress I could order) and so I went back.

For the longest time, it became my steady rock.  My anchor on which I could hang my healthy food choice dreams on.  It reminded me to eat throughout the day and it became my bargaining chip / negotiation standpoint when coupled with exercise and calories burned.

It helped me keep things in order, stay in control and established a routine for me.  But I am also a creature of habit with food so after a while of inputting the same meals every day, there had to come a time when I needed to let go.  I was also beginning to realize that I was developing a kind of dependency on it and it was making me scared of and a slave to calories.  While I appreciated what it had been doing for me, I didn't want my healthy lifestyle change to be based solely on this.  Of counting calories and adjusting my day and schedule in order to be "able" to eat certain types of food in exchange for an extra amount of exercise in order to burn off additional calories.



While it helped me understand the basic principle that in order to maintain a health weight, a person had to expend more calories than they took in, it was still so much more than that since I was also learning that not all calories are the same.  There's empty calories and healthy fats and things weren't always so black and white. 

Eventually, I stopped tracking my calories and logging everything that went into my mouth in order to give myself a chance to trust in my newfound ability to make healthier food choices.

While I didn't blackmail myself or barter with extra exercise time, I always did try to keep conscious of what I was choosing to eat and then making some additional choices based on that.  For example, if I knew I was going to a party, I didn't irritate the hosts and guests by whining about the things I couldn't eat and I ate what I wanted and enjoyed spending time with friends and family.  But in addition to this, I made sure that I gave myself a chance to put in some physical activity as well.  It wasn't always clear whether or not I burned "enough" to "earn" the things I chose to eat, but I was trying to give myself the room and leniency to know that I could still have things that I enjoyed without it being the end of the world.  In my journey to GET healthy, I also wanted a healthy relationship with my food.

So while I mentioned that in getting healthy, I felt exercise had a smaller role to play compared to diet, it still goes without saying that exercise is important.  Earlier on, I had an epiphany about this as well.  I didn't want to exercise to get skinny.  I wanted to exercise to make my body stronger.  It did not escape my notice that during my fitness evaluation at the gym (that every new member apparently has to take before they can officially join), I could do a total of ZERO push ups.  I understood that even skinny people can't necessarily do push-ups and that became my little mini goal.  I wanted to exercise in order to ensure that my body was strong enough to do things.  And at that time, what I wanted it to be able to do was push-ups.  The REAL kind. 

I don't have any inspirational stories where one day I realized how much I LOVE to work out and sweat - more often than not it was a struggle more than a joy to get myself to change into workout clothes after a long, mentally hard day at the office.  It was torture more than it was fun to lace up my shoes to go for a run.

In order to counter that (see, there's ALWAYS a time where you have to know yourself to know your enemy!) I chose activities or things that worked with my personality.  I liked charts and graphs and "rewards".  While I'm not saying the Insanity program is the only way to go, for ME, it was a good choice because of the chart it provided and the schedule it gave.  My motivation is founded on little check marks and stars and graphs.  The program came with a huge poster calendar that was FULL of all these blank little squares that I needed to check off to show I did it.  I was strict with myself in that if I didn't complete the exercise for that day in full, or if I didn't do it to the best of my ability, I didn't award myself a check mark.  And it killed me to walk by the chart and know that I hadn't earned a check mark.  This was what I knew I needed and this was what provided me the motivation to get moving even though I would rather do anything BUT.

But it was worse at the beginning.  Even though I never really found the JOY in working out, there was a sense of pride when I started noticing changes and improvements.  I may not LOVE push-ups, but I was LOVING how I could now do them when before the mere action was non-existant to me.  I took up running again and while I loved having new running "toys" that made the activity more enjoyable, there were still times where I wouldn't mind being hit by a car just so I had a reason to stop running.  Then again, there were also those AWESOME times when I found myself running faster/farther than I had the day/week/month/year before and there's a whole lot of SOMETHING in that.  So while I wasn't ever addicted to WORKING OUT, I was sure getting addicted to achievements and quantifiable results and improvements.

While I'm not saying go out and get a program that gives you a calendar, if my motivation sort of sounds like your motivation, find a way to push.  I made my own running calendar.  I use apps that show me my time and effort and heart rate and heart beat and almost any other kind of stat that I can possibly want.  I had a training journal, a running journal, a blog, I posted status updates.  It's all about "knowing you" and knowing the ways that will motivate you as well as the ways that could sabotage you.

I'm aware that the length of this is enough to scare enough off the second the see all the writing.  If you've made it this far: *HUGS*

But it seems anticlimactic when I say that that's pretty much it.



A lot of people used to ask "what's your secret?" I'm not sure if it was because it was a good lead in to open up conversation about weight-loss or as a way to give a compliment or if they legitimately wanted to know if there was a secret to weight-loss.  I used to be one of those people who would demand to know what the person did in order for them to lose weight.  More often than not, I would lose interest if they didn't mention something that I had to buy.  Because people, like myself, more often than not don't want to hear the sheer, intense amount of actual work that's put into first starting out in getting healthy and losing weight.  The secret is that there is no secret.  Everyone knows it, but the problem is that not everyone wants to do it.  Because you know what they say, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.



It took me forever to get to this point and I'm not naive enough to assume that this point is all there is.  It's ever changing and I backtrack more than I move forward.  Currently, I guess you could say I'm on the backtracking part or at a stand still.  But while I may be disappointed in where I've allowed myself to be (yes, sometimes I have the understanding that just because I'm pregnant doesn't mean that I get to #eatALLthethings) I'm optimistically okay with it because I know that here isn't always where I will be.  At times, I'm scared that I won't be able to push myself to get back to where I was, but again, it's starting back at the beginning and identifying my why and knowing myself and the "enemy" because those are constantly changing as I am constantly changing.

Cady there has hit the nail right on the head.  There is no limit to this journey I've embarked upon. That's why I am CONSTANTLY calling it a healthy lifestyle change.  Because I want to consistently remind myself that there will not be a time where I will stop and say to myself "Okay, self! This is as healthy as I'll ever get!  It's time to stop now!"  I'm in this journey for the long haul and I am hoping that there will not come a time where I can't think of a way to improve or think of new ways to find achievements.  With the coming of a new little person in our lives, I can only think that the limit - if there ever was a horizon - has been extended because it now goes beyond myself and my own body.  I want to be able to impart this healthy lifestyle (minus the change now because I'm hoping she's in it from the begining) onto her and anyone else we might bring into this world.  I'm hoping that with the start of my change, that for my daughter, it won't seem so difficult because she won't know any different because I have been able to impart in her mindset of healthy choices, healthy relationship with food and a genuine love of being active and doing her best to find a balance of that that works for her.

Again, if you've stuck around with me for my meander through this past year's journey, thank you so much and I hope I didn't repeat myself too often!  While I am hoping that this post will serve to help and remind the me that will come into existence in the next few weeks, it can't go without saying that I also hope that any of my non-original lessons learned and observations made may help you in whatever part of the healthy lifestyle journey you're on!

Q: What is your why?
Q: Have you identified your enemy?

Monday, January 6, 2014

So this is mat leave (pre-baby)...

For some reason, even though the season for it is over, I've got "So This is Christmas" by John Lennon stuck in my head. 
CONFESSION: They also use this song during the holidays for commercials like World Vision or Christian Children's FoundationI'm not sure exactly which one because every time I hear the first notes of the song, I usually do whatever I can to change the channel *wince* I know, it makes me sound like such an ass, but in my defense, Bart and I are already sponsors and they show it a LOT over the holidays.  Also, in my preggo defense, it's hard to see that in my emotional state.  I cry during a lot of commercials that aren't even MEANT to tug and pull on your heartstrings, so I didn't think I could survive too many viewings of these commercials that do it on PURPOSE!
If you couldn't tell right away, my younger brother couldn't make it to our annual family New Year's Eve gathering due to work, so I worked him in anyway.  You can stare in awe - that's what he really looks like.  I have already been complimented numerous times on my seamless photoshop skills.  What can I say?  It's a gift.

Aaaanywho!  New Year's Eve/Day has come and gone and today marks the general populations return to work/school schedule, so pretty much everything should be going back to normal for everyone.  
Eeexcept for me!  Today marks the first official day of my maternity leave and honestly - CONFESSION: I have no idea what to do with myself.  I don't mean to say it ANY way that will imply that I am AT ALL complaining, but with the house cleaned and tidied up the best it's ever really going to get and with the baby's clothes washed, baby gear ready to go, bags packed by the door, etc., etc., everything's pretty much just waiting on one thing.  The baby.  Which means I don't really have much more to do.
You know how when you're at work and you don't feel like doing anything work-related so you do all these other things online like go on Facebook, update your status, tweet about things, update your blog, take personality tests and check to see which How I Met Your Mother character you're mostly likely to be and basically do EVERYTHING else you can possibly think of to do that's not work-related but then all of a sudden there's NOTHING left to do BUT work?  No? Yeah, me neither, I was just saying...
What I meant was, you know how some OTHER people can go through something like that?  That's what I feel like about my first day of mat leave pre-baby.  There's nothing else for me to really do but the things I'd rather not really be doing.  And that's saying something considering I've already cleaned and cleaning is usually the LAST thing on my list of things I want to do.
So anyway.  I reached the point where there was nothing else for me to really do besides the stuff I was ignoring on purpose.  It was also because I had nothing else to do, that I allowed for this epiphany:
Now that I'm home all day, everyday and expected to be so for the next...year, I guess...apparently it is now completely inappropriate for me to get home, wait until Bart gets home from work a few hours later and then ask him what we should have for dinner.
So now that I'm completely bored and how nothing else to do, I've decided that until I find out what it's like to stay at home with a baby, I'm going to be a stepford wife.  Bart's gonna get in the house, walk out the door and double check the number on the house to make sure he's in the correct house when he sees dinner waiting for him!  And not just ANY dinner.  Stuff that's cooked on like...a STOVE and all!  Sans microwave!
So voila!  The first thing I had to do was to get groceries.  Because another apparently moment is that when you're a grown-up and a soon-to-be mom, your fridge should have like, food in it.  Non-microwavable food.  So sadly this epiphany has arrived the same day that snowmaggedon touched down upon us.  I waited until the snow fall took a break and the city had a chance to get the snow plows out, but it was still slow going.  But the snowmaggedon inspired my first meal I wanted to make.  This cold out there and what's a good thing to come home to after shoveling snow?  Chicken noodle soup!
I'm not a big fan of canned chicken noodle soup and I have exactly one chicken noodle soup in my very limited repertoire.  It's a Filipino version of chicken noodle soup called chicken mami soup.  I'm going to talk about it even though it might be an acquired taste kind of soup, but hey, if you're feeling adventurous, go ahead and try it out even though I have no recipe and no exact directions to help you out *LOL*  Keep in mind that perhaps the things I put in it SOUND weirder than it actually tastes.  Because I may be biased, but I think it tastes delicious!
First off, I start by making the soup.  Considering it's called chicken mami soup, somewhere along the way, there's got to be chicken in it.
I use chicken thighs  It gives a good amount of meat as well as bones for that chicken-y flavor.  I'm lazy and also sadly not very health conscious at the moment, so I boiled the chicken legs with their skin on.  I was also a little out of sorts, so I forgot to pick up onions and carrots while I was out.  So basically this is water, chicken thighs, salt and pepper.  I also added some chicken bouillon cubes because I got all Food Network-y and just started throwing stuff in.  
In a pinch when I've gotten a craving for this soup and didn't have any actual chicken, I've gotten away with just boiling onions, carrots and a mixture of water and chicken broth from a box.  You can also take the no meat approach and use vegetable broth.  I think it's a very forgiving, versatile soup.  Do whatcha want!
While my chicken was cooking away and the water was becoming soup, I got my favourite part of the soup "content" ready.  Hardboiled eggs!  Because I plan on having this for dinner and then feeding my parents who are coming over tomorrow and then dinner again tomorrow, I made my hardboiled eggs in a huge batch using my lovely rice cooker.

Basically, you line the bottom of the pot with one or two pieces of paper towel and then add enough water that the paper towels are wet.  But that's it.  If you turn the pot upside down, there shouldn't be any water coming out.  Just a wet paper towel stuck to the bottom of your pot.

Next, you'll want to place your eggs at the bottom of the pot.  I used a whole carton (I think there were a few missing) for this batch.  I've used more with them being stacked on top of the other and it's worked out fine, so if you have more than the eggs I have here, go for it.  Basically, once you line them up here, you place the pot in the cooker and you put the lid on and you push down the button to cook.  That's it.  Well, that's it if you have the rice cooker with the single button that you just press down.  By the time that little button pops up again to tell you that the "cooking" process is done, that's it, you now also have perfectly cooked hardboiled eggs.  And I mean perfectly!  None of that crazy stuff where you try to peel it and the shell sticks to the egg and by the time you're done peeling, you have 1/4 of an egg left to eat cuz the rest went in the trash.
Once your chicken that is boiling in the water that has now slowly turned into soup is cooked, it's almost ready to EAT!
I pull the chicken out and I strip the meat from the bones and shred them into smaller pieces.  Once THAT'S done, then it's pretty much ready to eat!  Grab your mami noodles (I picked mine up from the local asian store), it kind of looks like linguine and I think it's already pre-cooked.  Hope so because it doesn't really need much done to it before you eat.  I usually just rinse out my noodles (to get rid of the white, starchy stuff covering it) in warm water and when it's loosened, I place a pile in the bottom of a bowl.
Next up, I will layer slices of hardboiled egg on top of the noodles and then the shredded chicken.  On top of THAT, I sprinkle some chopped scallion or green onion (these are the SAME thing, right?!) and fried garlic (also from the asian store - you might be able to see a photo of it in the above grocery shopping picture).  Once you've got all your soup "toppings" all set, ladle the hot broth in.  I let it sit for a bit so that the liquid can warm and soften the noodles further and while it's hanging out getting ready for me to eat, I doctor it to my specifications.  To my soup, I add lemon juice and fish sauce and pepper.  My mouth is watering again just typing it all out - and I've just finished eating! *LOL*

VOILA!  SOUP!  That I made! Cuz I'm a GROWN-UP!  I can technically be expected to keep a human being alive and fed!  Or at least fed!  Hopefully the other stuff goes along with it.  
Once Bart has finished assuring himself that he is indeed at the correct house this evening, he will notice that I have massive fried garlic breath and I'm okay with that.  The soup was so good, it's worth it to me to forgo cuddle time tonight.
BWAHAHA, just kidding.  My and baby will be cuddled by the mister whether we have garlic breath or not.  I WANT CUUUUDDLES!!!
So there it is.  My first day of mat-leave (sans baby).  And it has paved the way for giving me things to do tomorrow because I am also one of those "cooks" who must use every utensil in the kitchen while cooking.  Which is weird because this soup is technically a one-pot wonder.  I have no idea how I ended up using all the other stuff.  But now tomorrow I have kitchen tidying duties and once that's done, I think I have earned myself a home manicure and an XBOX gaming session because I can still act like a twelve year old boy for a bit!
And with my first day of mat leave, this is also my first "food/cooking" post.  I was going to call it a recipe post, but let's be honest.  I just threw stuff in some water and boiled it and then called it soup.  I think y'all are capable of doing that. 
But if you want the recipe and the variations, here it is:
  • Put meat in a pot (any kind of meat you want, or no meat at all)
  • Put desired amount of water in a pot (any amount you like that will fit into the pot)
  • Add salt and pepper to taste (therefore, no set amount - you decide)
  • You can add a bouillon cube (if you want, however many, whichevs)
  • Put whatever vegetables you want to eat once your boiled water has turned into soup (this can include onions, carrots, celery, whatever you want)
  • If you used chicken, take the chicken out and shred it (if you want - heck, you can eat it whole, too)
  • Pick any noodle you want (cook it to package directions, or however you want)
  • Put it all in a bowl (noodles, meat, broth - this is your water that has now turned into soup)
  • Garnish as you choose (if you want)
  • Take copious amounts of pictures of your bowl of soup
  • Eat it
You're welcome.
Q: Be honest.  What were your first thoughts on this soup?  Or of the things I put in it? I swear it really is good.  Even if you're not Filipino.  Bart eats it (minus the fish sauce - he just uses regular salt)
Q: What's your favourite, go-to, no-fail soup recipe?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hello! It's me, 2006, just checking in...

As I've mentioned a couple times, I was a bit of a blog whore jumper before I settled into my little space here on the great WWW.  This morning, while everyone was returning to the wonderful world of reality by getting ready to go back to work (and I only say that with a slight degree of smugness because I know I don't exactly have a vacation in store for me soon and I might well be wishing I could be getting ready for work, too!) I sat down and started thinking of things I could blog about.  
Since I had put it out there that I want to blog more, the next logical course of action was to think about what.  So far, my blogging tactic has been to just sit down and write whenever I have done something that has seemed remotely interested to other people, ie. a race or before and after or decorated a cake, etc.  Leaving my only blogging criteria to what I think is interesting has yielded spastic results, so I thought that in addition to that, I would have some set posts with set topics that I could fall back on for some content.
I felt like I had a much more creative outlet back in the day so I hunted down some of my older online journals and came across one of the first generations of "Catherine let loose in the online world" aka my Livejournal account. 
Which, incidentally, I think is fitting considering that today is Thursday and commonly known as #ThrowbackThursday.  So let's throwback to 2006, shall we?!  While perusing around my 7-8 years ago thoughts, I cam across an updated version of my "bucket list" if you will.  Seeing that it's labelled as updated, I'm curious to go looking for my original list, but I've already committed to this list so I'm just going to go ahead and throw it down because I'm really curious to see what's happened to it since then and if I've done any of the things that I deemed "worthy" to do before I died.
CONFESSION: Although it's not really so much a confession since it's painfully obvious that this list came on because of Mandy Moore's A Walk To Remember movie.  

Catherine's New Life's To-Do List as of 2006

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

31 15 Things for 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I had actually started writing out this post yesterday, but I was being a lazy butt and doing it on my iPod in bed so of course when I fell asleep and the Blogger app timed out, I lost my entire post.

*requires no words*
Ah well, now that I've gone back to it, I realized that it was perhaps a little bit wordy (a LOT wordy, my one goal was to reduce the amount of novel-sized paragraphs and run-on sentences).  So instead, I've decided to try my hand at some bullets and short-form to keep things short and to the point.

I'm not really sure what I want out of this list since I'm just going to go ahead and jump in both feet first.  With things being so up in the air and my having all these hopes and goals and plans when really the little miss will be in charge of the show from here on out, I figure this will just be a compilations of things I hope for and things I've learned along the way.  Meh, let's just get to it, shall we?
  1. Blog more often/frequently.  It's always something that I mean to do and I used to be really good at it (read: I used to have a lot of time at work to blog) but somewhere along the way, I would sit down and open up a new post for an entry, stare at the blank emptiness and then log off.

  2. Going hand-in-hand with this is the goal to adopt the notion that this is MY blog.  For some reason, even if my readership is limited to my mom and the few other people I manually subscribed to my blog so they have no choice but to see that I've updated it, I seem to care a lot about what I think they want to read about.  I will be in the middle of composing a blog post in my head about just a regular, ol' day in the life of me and then I'll catch myself thinking "nobody will want to read about that" and that's usually when I end up not blogging anything.  So the goal is to remind myself that this is my blog and while I would LOVE an influx of readers this coming year, the blog is also meant for me to keep track of things going on with me (both good, bad and things that don't seem like they would be particularly entertaining).

  3. Become more organized.  Like, in all aspects of life. This is kind of a big one because for some reason, there are things that I'm REALLY OCD and anal about and then there are other things that I'm not even on the same page about.  Maybe I should start small.  My fellow blogger Mary from Stories of Suburbia is one of my favourite people to follow on Instagram because her #throwbackthursday's are all kinds of awesome.  Girlfriend's got pictures from any day in any decade and I LOVES it!  I always mean to get organized with my photos and about three months after I resolve to do it, I've got 8 SD cards full of photos that I haven't even moved onto my laptop or hard-drive.  For an asian someone like me who LIVES to take pictures of every little thing, I KNOW I will have a conniption if I ever lost even one photo or SD card.  I really need to get on that!  I think it's even more important now that the little one is coming!

  4. Avoid being one of THOSE people.  You know...the ones that ONLY talk about their kid(s) once they have them.  The ones that think that every. single. thing their kid does is miraculous and ah-maaay-zing and it must be shared with the world because NOBODY has ever seen a diaper blowout as mind-blasting as the one THEIR kid did *or insert whatever wondrous moment here* Don't make me feel bad for saying it out loud, man...those people exist.  Think about it....the ones whose FB status updates are ONLY about what their kid did every hour of the day.  The ones whose IG pictures are ONLY of what their kid is doing at that moment every hour of the day.  I'm reading your blog, following you and friends with you because I'm also interested in other aspects of YOUR life, not necessarily everything that your kid (kid can also be interchanged with dog, cat, boyfriend, etc.) does.  My goal is find that fine line between sharing those AWESOME kid moments and also talking about other stuff.  I feel like that makes me sound like an asshole... #sorrynotsorry?

  5. I have no plans to change my addiction to hashtags.  I love 'em.  Please don't intervention me.



  6. Also learning that I have no concept of short and to the point as I'm only on point six and this is already looking like it's super long. #aintnoshameinmygame


  7. I'm hoping to be able to have the capacity to forgive myself as a mom.  Does that sound weird to say?  I'm not entirely sure what I mean by it, but the general idea is - especially since she's not here yet - is that I have all these plans and moments when I've said "I will/will not ever do that to my kid." Working in an educational setting where I spent the entire DAY with other peoples' children kind of brought on/enforced a lot of that and the thing is, I'm really slowly realizing how much of a judgemental bastard I am with those thoughts.  I don't know the circumstances to any of the situations (example: the kid who screams bloody murder in the store aisle until her mom finally just buys her what she wants and I raise an eyebrow and totally tell myself that I'm not going to be a victim of a toddler terrorist who will only grow up to run me like I didn't give her LIFE itself when in reality, the mama has probably been awake for 36 hours straight and has been taking care of everything at home while her husband earns money to cover her missing salary while being on mat leave and she really just wanted to go out real quick to pick up milk and if this is what's going to get her kid to give her a frickin' break so the judgemental asian girl who has NO kids can stop staring at her all high and mighty, then YES, she can bloody well have it).  Something like that.  I hope that I'll be able to forgive myself when reality and real life show me that all the "plans" I thought I had about how to be a perfect parent gets poopy-diaper-blowout-ed-on.


  8. On that same note, and not just about parenting in general, I hope to learn some humility, humbleness and compassion.  Perhaps that's the emotional, preggo person in me, but I'm realizing that pre-preggo me didn't have a whole lot of it.

  9. Pay attention to Chewy.  Make ACTUAL time for him.  I love that creature a whole whack of a lot.  I am aware that things will change a bit in our household, but I don't want Chewy to have to pay for that because it's not his fault.  For some reason, when I tell new parents or other people that this is a goal/hope of mine, they're quick to kind of just brush it off and tell me how much I won't care about him once the little one arrives.  I understand they're trying to tell me how much I will love her, I just don't understand why it has to be at the expense of someone else.  I say someone because Chewy is not a thing or an it.  I've watched him yelp when something hurts him and I've watched him whine and do whatever his puppy version is of crying when things upset him.  All same reactions that other living things have.  Therefore, just because he can't TALK and TELL me things, I do not want to disregard him and have that be okay or explained away because I have a baby that I carried and love oh so much.  I understand that I will be busy, but I'm hoping that because Bart and I have a "plan" that he'll be okay too.  I remember when I first found out I was pregnant and someone kind of carelessly told me that I won't even care about Chewy after I have a little one, I found myself crying thinking of how left out or lonely he would feel.  I literally bawled my eyes out and made Bart PROMISE that if there's a time when I'm busy with the baby that he has to make time too!  And when he's having Daddy and baby time, that if I don't do it on my own, to remind me to spend quality time with Chewy.  I'm staring at him right now as I type this and it's feeling REALLY important to me.  And it's also blowing my mind considering the fact that I flat out told Bart before we were married that we would NEVER be a pet family.

  10. Renew my commitment to living a healthy lifestyle.  I know when I started my journey towards it, I meant it to be for LIFE.  As in, no matter what happens.  I never counted on - okay, well I did count on getting pregnant since we were trying, but I never knew how quickly that resolve would get thrown out the window in the face of wanting to shank someone just for a poutine.  Sometimes I wonder if I couldn't have been a little bit stronger.  If I didn't give in to these so-called pregnancy cravings because I wanted to.  I get upset at myself for thinking that, but at 38 weeks now, I guess that's neither here nor there.  So what can I do?  Refer to goal/hope number seven and forgive myself for it and resolve/renew the commitment.  When I first started, I also knew that in this aspect that failure was going to be an option.  I know the saying means well, but it just gives people nowhere to go.  It's like saying that if you did fail, you might as well just give up because it's over.  My goal back in October was to understand that failure was going to happen but that I could pick myself up and keep going.  Even when I recognized that I was making poor food/health choices and I probably could have chosen otherwise and I didn't, that's done with.  I know it could technically start now, but again, with things so up in the air, I don't know what I will feel like/BE like after the little one comes so I don't want to cage myself in and set myself up for failure.  Once we've got some kind of handle of what life is going to be like, I'd like to renew our commitment as a family to a healthy lifestyle.  I know it can be done based on my friend Courtney's life as she's currently living it (you can read about it here on her blog Treadmill Runway) but like everyone else has to, I will find my own way there.  I may have gotten lost along the way, but I'll get there.

  11. Get my RUNNING shoes back on the road!  No more woggling, no more waffling or walking!  I want to RUN!  I'd like to continue my new-found love/hate (where it's more love than hate) relationship with running and log some more miles!  I want to start the half-marathon training plan and put the things I learned in the running books I read this year to the test!  I want to fall back in love with fitness and being active and getting sweaty.  I want to also renew my commitment to making sure that I do something active every day in any way that I can find.  And if possible, somewhere along the way, earn some more points to get more SKORA running shoes! *LOL*  I'd love to get some more 5K races under my belt, experience an obstacle race, work on my 5K time while also working on getting more distance - therefore getting some 10Ks in there as well (and longer hopefully!) and making sure that I don't lose my focus on my goal to Disney's 2015 Princess Half-Marathon in Florida!

  12. It had to make it here somewhere: FINANCES!  I was very un-strict with myself these last few years.  The beauty of being DINKs.  I let myself go quite a bit this year knowing that there was a baby coming because after that, I'm on LOCKDOWN for the next 18+ years *LOL* I want to really start helping Bart put money away into our savings and build a significant nest egg or emergency situation stash.  Bart and I have gotten a good hang of our finances while we've been married the past six years, but of course with a new baby, things are going to change and we'll have to learn new ways to handle our finances.  I also want to take a more front-seat approach to our finances as well.  These days, I've been pretty content on letting Bart deal with the "grown-up" stuff in regards to our mortgage, what we can afford, our savings, etc. and I don't ever want to be caught off-guard not knowing anything about it later on if something happens and Bart's not able to sit with me or help me.  It's time for Catherine to start dealing with grown-up money things! GAAAH!

  13. Apparently, I seem to be functioning under the impression that mat leave is going to be like this carefree vacation since I wanted to start this year, but I was hoping to go back to school.  I work in an academic setting wherein a good chunk of my tuition would be covered as an employee and it just seems silly not to be taking advantage of that.  Maybe I could have an MBA or a degree in marketing or communications or accounting even.  It doesn't matter, I could take it and it wouldn't hit us so hard financially except that I would actually have to find the time.  If I can't jump into it full force now, I'd really like to start thinking more seriously about it and taking the steps to getting there.  Maybe one credit course here and there?  I can graduate at the same time as the little miss! *LOL*


  14. I'd say get famous but I think that might require too much work! *LOL* I'll settle on getting more readers who are genuinely interested in my blog thoughts, my endeavors, what's going on in my neck of the woods and what I have to say about it (however uninteresting it may seem) and basically making a few really good friends.  But, while I'm not aspiring for fame, I wouldn't mind becoming a FitFluential, Skora or SweatPink ambassador, too :) #aimhigh

  15. One last thing: FRISBEEEEEEEE!!!! #nuffsaid
So, here's a few of the hopes and goals rattling around in my little nogging right now.  I had to cut myself by more than half because while I want to work on not caring so much about what I think people do or don't want to see on my blog, I figured it was quite daunting to continue to sit here and list more hopes and goals up to 31! *LOL*  I have a lot more small, specific hopes and goals, but when I think of them all collectively, I really just want not just sit here and hope for the best year yet.  Like I'm expecting the universe to just hand it to me.  I would like a specific hand in it and help the universe out when I can.  I want to continue to strive to be a better version of me than I was the day, week, month, year before and I want to be more of an inspiration (rather than an annoyance) to myself, my friends and family and anyone else who can find that they're experiencing something similar to what I am at any given time.  I want to make MY life meaningful to me and I want to make an impact this small piece of the WWW that I am granted.   I am hoping and wishing for the amazing but am hoping and wishing to stay grounded and content with what the world has in store for me.  I want to be aspire to greatness but I want to be able to laugh at myself and not take myself so seriously.

So with all that said: I hope you have had an awesome first day of the new year of the rest of your life and from my family to yours, wishing you all the best in 2014!  I hope you experience enough hardships to sincerely appreciate your blessings, enough obstacles to celebrate your achievements and *insert more quotes from movies that I may or may not have borrowed here*  Whatever the case may be, may your 2014 be filled with love, laughter and blessings!

Q: Did you make any resolutions for 2014?  What are they?
Q: Did you keep any of the resolutions you made for 2013?
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