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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Unfulfilled

Lately, I've been bummed out by how I've been choosing to spend my free time in the evenings. Usually I end up watching TV or surfing the web, and then all of a sudden it's time for bed and I feel like I wasted my time.

There are all sorts of things I imagine myself doing instead: reading, knitting, biking, taking tennis or swimming lessons to improve my abilities, taking a cooking course, starting a couch-to-5k running program, taking up my clarinet again, cleaning, doing things around the house, baking....so many things.

So, why can't I get off my butt and do these things? I seem to have a never-ending list of excuses: I'm too tired, I just ate, I deserve to "relax", and I'm not feeling well (headache, stomach ache, or achy neck/shoulders are the usuals) are all the reoccuring favorites. What it comes down to, though, is I just don't have the motivation to climb out of my lowest energy state. 

Another problem is how I define "relaxing" - for some reason, I think it means to basically turn off, tune out, and dumbly stare at a screen. Then I feel like butt later. When I do something more productive, I always feel so much better. For some reason, though, I just can't connect that feeling to motivating me later on (this is the same with working out - always feel great after, but that never helps when I have to do it the next time).

Do you find yourself in motivational ruts? How do you get out of them?





Saturday, July 28, 2012

Space Camp

This past week, I had the pleasure of running a space camp for 18 8-11 year-old kids. It is the first time we're offering such a program, and I really wasn't sure how it would go, but it sounds like they had a lot of fun!

We partnered with the university recreation program, who offer a huge range of summer camps throughout July and August. I approached them last fall about developing a space camp program for them, and they jumped on the chance. They have loads of sports camps, but are always looking to add non-sports camps too. 

So, the kids went on a solar system walk, made their own solar ovens and refracting telescopes, held meteorites, mined cookies, designed and built space landers, and completed a rover mission. 

One thing I learned was that my expectations for what could be done in our time was too high. Usually, when I go to classrooms, I'm supposed to fill up the entire time with activities, slide shows, demos, etc.. In this case, there was a lot of time dedicated to snacks, bathroom breaks, and games to break up the day. Once I realized that, the rest of the days went much better.

I'll be doing it all over again in a few weeks, and I'm looking forward to it!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

5 Years Later....

Fig. 1: Not even engaged in 2007.

Fig. 2: And 5 years later.



Sunday, July 22, 2012

Family Visit

We just got back from a 10-day visit to both our families - one in Vancouver and the other in Calgary.

Evan exceeded all our expectations and did awesome on all the flights.



In Vancouver, we went to the aquarium, hung out with Evan's cousin, I met up with Cath, and we had lunch with a friend of mine from grad school.



In Calgary, we saw my parent's new house, went to the zoo, met my brother's wife for the first time, and went to a fun train park.



It was a great trip!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Book Reviews: Catching Fire & Mockingjay

Over a year after reading the first book in the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, I read Catching Fire and Mockingjay. I wish I didn't wait!

The second book was fantastic - fast-paced right from the beginning, filled with action and excitement, and the introduction of new characters kept the story from getting repetitive. I do wish I had read it sooner, since there were details from the first that I had to remind myself of. 

The third book had a bit of a slow start - too much time dwelling on the goings-on of District 13. But, once it got going, it was really difficult to put down. There were a few twists that surprised me, a few that didn't, and I actually teared up at one part. 

This whole series was amazing - well-written and exciting, but not overly bogged down with personal relationship drama. I gave the first book 3.5/5, and I'll give the other two 4/5 each. I definitely recommend the series to anyone, and now I really want to see the movie(s)!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Travel Anxiety

I've never really had problems with flying. In fact, I used to love it - being able to just sit and relax, read, sleep, stare out the window, knit - having time to do whatever I wanted. Now, with Evan in tow, I'm a bundle of nerves days before our plane takes off. 

On Wednesday, we're heading out West to visit our families - first DH's in Vancouver, then mine in Calgary. It's about 5 hours to Vancouver, then it'll be 4 from Calgary back home.

Last year, Evan and I flew by ourselves to visit my grandmothers in Saskatchewan and my family in Calgary. I had a lot of anxiety about it, but Evan did really well and the trip went pretty smoothly.

Even so, I'm anxious again for this trip. I just don't want to be "that parent" of "the screaming toddler/the loud toddler/the toddler kicking the seat" on the plane. Evan can hardly sit still for 5 minutes, let alone on a 5-hour flight in a very confined space. He's just constantly on the go, and if we try to stop him he can get very upset.

We tried to plan the times of the longer flights close to his bedtime, so he might be up and about for the first hour or so, but then go to sleep. The problem with this plan is if it doesn't work, then we're totally screwed and will have an extremely cranky little boy on our hands.

We're banking on the fact that - so far - Evan is a really great sleeper. He falls asleep really quickly and can sleep through pretty much anything. He's not the type to force himself to stay awake past his bedtime. So, fingers and toes are all crossed that this will be a benefit to us during our travels.

That being said, we need to be prepared in case that doesn't happen. We plan to arrive at the airport a bit earlier than usual so he can run around a bit. We're bringing everything we need for his bedtime routine. I'm bringing my laptop and Thomas the Train DVDs, and we'll put a few games on our iPhones (any suggestions?). 

For those of you who have flown with young children, what kinds of things do you bring with you to keep them entertained? Any other tips?

Friday, July 6, 2012

International Laughter

As we were channel surfing last night, we came across Just for Laughs Gags (a comedy show done with no verbal communication), and it immediately reminded me of one of my favorite memories:

We were on a plane in South America - flying from Lima to Cuzco. The flight was full of people from all different countries, since Cuzco is the city where most Inca Trail hikers acclimatize to the altitude (so, therefore, full of tourists).

Most people couldn't communicate with each other but, at some point, they put on Just For Laughs Gags on the overhead TVs. At first, it was nice just to see something from back home, but then I quickly realized that - in spite of the different languages and cultures on the plane - the language of humour is the same everywhere. When someone dressed as a bear jumped out from behind something to scare someone, or some guy got hit in the balls, everyone laughed.

I loved humanity that day.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I Am An Meme List

A couple weeks ago, I challenged my readers to take part in the "I am an..." meme. Writers were asked to tell us what they were like as a child, and now, to show that there is a huge variety of people doing a huge variety of things. We do not fit into stereotypical boxes and just because someone liked pink and dolls as a girl doesn't mean she won't be a scientist, and just because someone didn't do well in certain classes in high school doesn't mean they can't study that later on.

Here are the submitted posts - they're all great reads, so go check them out!

Neil Gerhels @ Women in Astronomy (not an official meme post, but it's written in the same theme)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Long Weekend

The Canada Day long weekend was a great one! We sure had fun, and Evan seemed to explode with firsts and knowledge.

Saturday, we found a small Thomas the Train set for 1/2 price and bought it for Evan. He was so excited, he had to hold it in the store and during the ride home. DH set it up for him, and he would have played with it for hours if he didn't have to eat or sleep. In fact, he didn't want to do either of those things. When DH was putting him down for a nap, Evan wanted his train so badly that he tried climbing out of his crib. Luckily DH caught him dangling from the top. He tried it again a few minutes later. We actually had to drive around with him in the car to get him to unwind, which worked within three minutes.

Because of the events of the morning, we decided to reconfigure Evan's bed to the first toddler stage. At one point, Evan asked where Daddy was and I told him he was upstairs making his new bed. He got so excited, and went upstairs as fast as he could! He jumped around and played on his bed for about 30 minutes before remembering his train. Luckily, that night he went down with no problem as usual, in spite of all the excitement, and had a great night. He now even walks himself to bed and gets in all by himself!

Fig. 1: Evan enjoying the toddler bed.

Sunday we celebrated Canada Day by attending one of the events in the city. Evan played with bubbles, went on a small train ride, and played on the playground. While walking around, we noticed there was a wading pool and decided to just take him over to see. We have not had success with Evan and water, but he's been enjoying outdoor water play more lately, so we took the chance. Well, after about 3 minutes of just watching the other kids, he jumped right in and absolutely loved it! As someone who loves water, this made me very happy :)

Fig. 2: Fun in the wading pool!

He also had his first bit of a hot dog - wasn't a huge fan though, and was more interested in the bun than anything. He also had his first taste of ice cream, and that he did enjoy!

Not only did Evan have a lot of fun this weekend, but it's becoming clear his verbal skills are improving every day! Just this weekend he learned the words rock, plate, kick, swing, pear, peach, and thank you (which is more like tank-ooo) and also noises like "roar", "eek!", and "ahhh" (as in what you'd say after you have a wonderful drink of water). It also continuously amazes us how much he understands.

Such a great long weekend!