Monday, December 14, 2009


This weekend was a pleasant mix of achievement, domesticity and fun.

On Saturday morning Daisy got her first H1N1 shot. (For those of you who follow my status updates on Facebook, you'll know that this was the "achievement" part of this post.) Then went to swimming lessons and came home so that Mummy could... a new car!

Or, more specifically, a used SUV - a 2008 Kia Sorrento EX.

If you've known me for a while know, you'll know that is quite a leap. If you haven't, then let me summarize to bring you up to speed: I like to drive (fast); I like fast cars; I like stick shifts; I frown on automatics because it's like driving a go-kart; my previous car (Altima 3.5SE) was my baby and took my breath away when I drove it for the first time; I vowed never to change any of these preferences and purchase an SUV or an automatic just because I had become a mommy.

Shoot, well, so much for that.

In all honesty, I didn't buy this car because I'm a mommy and/or because I have somehow abandoned everything fun and exciting that I was before. I purchased it as part 1 of my New Year's Resolution - get my financial house in order. I'm going to sell my old car private party (it's paid-up) and use the money to pay off credit card debt. So, you can sort of look upon it as refinancing my unsecured credit card debt for a secured loan at a lower APR (4.7%).

This year has, understandably, been a bit of an expensive year. In addition to Daisy and our vacations (which is what I view my credit cards as being for and which I refused to negotiate for my own mental health), I put other large purchases on my card this year - my Gym, Daisy's Viacord service, to name just two. Now, with credit cards playing hanky-panky with your interest rates and no doubt trying to find new ways to gouge money out of you now that the new laws are coming into effect in 2010, I have decided that it's time to do the responsible thing and move my debt elsewhere

Unfortunately, a new Altima 3.5SE did not fit well into those plans, unless I leased, which I consider to be pretty much on-par with renting a house - good money thrown away. Hence, I needed something different. I've been researching for a while and boiled it down to several vehicles that met my space criteria (room for a car seat and two people in the back seat, a large trunk for strollers and groceries), as well as my own personal preferences (sunroof, power seats, an automatically dimming rear mirror, a compass, and an engine that wouldn't leave me poodling away from a light like a granny.) The Sorrento was on that list and so I visited the local Kia dealer last week for a test drive.

Originally I test-drove a brand new LX 4x4 - the last new Sorrento they had in stock. It felt clunky, too high-up, and, quite frankly, a little cheap and plastic inside. Plus it didn't check a lot of my personal boxes re: features. I wasn't impressed. Then the salesman mentioned a loaded 2008 EX that a Priest had just returned. (Yes, I said Priest - my car has been blessed!)

Aparently said Priest had been recently reassigned to the foothills, just above the snow level, but was told by his boss (? who the heck manages Priest relocations?) that it really never snowed there. So, he purchased a 2 wheel drive vehicle new. Then, this past weekend, a foot or so of snow dropped on him and he freaked out. It seems that he wasn't willing to leave his safety on the snow to prayer alone and returned the loaded EX for a 4-wheel drive LX. His loss was my gain because his $26k new vehicle is now mine for just over $19k. Woot!

Ms. Sorrento is black, has leather, heated seats, power seat adjustment, a sunroof, a 6 CD changer with in-wheel controls, towing package, dual climate control... plus lots more that I've probably forgotten. As a 2-wheel drive it's lower and way less clunky than the 4x4 I originally test-drove and, with it's 3.8L engine, it's not too shabby in the acceleration department either - yay, no granny driving for moi! In fact, the more I've driven it this weekend, the more I've come to love it. I have to say that the heated seats came in really handy this wintery weekend: nothing like having a warm ass

So, all in all, not too much of a sacrifice, although one day in the future I WILL purchase another ridiculously fast car with manual transmission again. This is a temporary, if not entirely terrible, compromise.

As you've probably experienced with car purchases yourself, this took up my Saturday afternoon.

Saturday evening we had a Christmas party to attend and, after Daisy was safely in bed, handed the monitor to Mum and Dad to head-out for a few hours of adult merriment. That's the pic of us all dressed up with somewhere to go, at the top of this post. The best part of the party for me (although the party itself was good) was putting on a dress, looking in the mirror, and actually liking what I saw! Ok, so I still have 8lbs to go but, if I say so myself, I did not look too shabby at all. In fact, I'd venture to say that a good 50% of my pre-pregnancy clothes are now fitting me again! This, obviously, put me in a wonderful mood.

With all the excitement of Saturday out of the way, Sunday was our day to chill. I made blueberry muffins for breakfast (which Daisy inhaled), took a quick visit out for some groveries with Daisy and Mum, and then made our favorite rainy-day dish - Winter Pot Roast.

The only bad thing I can say about the whole weekend was that my back and hips were HOWLING at me on Sunday gnith. I'm not exactly sure what the catlyst was here but all I know is that I needed a muscle-relaxer and two painkillers before bed. Unfortunately, this put me into a comatose state until 6am when I woke up with a start to the sound of Daisy kicking the crib bars, realizing I had completely slept-through my supposed gym time. Drats! Such is the price of a great weekend. Today I'll just yoga.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Motivation - Week 12

Kim Baby Shower 07 012
February '07 - Moi and some good friends at a baby shower. Will my stomach EVER be that flat again????

I'm going to get straight to it because progress has not been stellar this week:

LBS TO GOAL: 7.4lbs

So, I'm just over 1/2 way there. Sadly, however, 50% was not the achievement I was looking for.

The only thing I will report is that my body fat percentage (according to my fancy scale) has been decreasing steadily. I started off at almost 41% body fat (I know, isn't that DISGUSTING!?) and this morning the scales reported just over 37%. If my calculations are right, this means that I have lost about 10lbs of fat in as many weeks. Some better news, at least, assuming the fancy scale is worth it's weight in gold (or, in this case, fat.)

Just gotta keep on truckin', I guess.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

On trying to get things in point - Christmas Cards

There is so much to do on a regular day or during a regular month, it seems almost impossible to add-in Christmas to the mix during December. In short, I'm having trouble keeping up; I'm sinking quickly under the list of to-dos.

If you have not received your Christmas card from me this year, it's because I haven't sent them yet. Do not fear, you have not somehow horribly offended me and been crossed off my list (at least most of you who read this blog probably haven't) although I would check in with me if you don't get a card by New Year as you may have some apologizing to do! Said cards are on my dining room table and I'm doing a few at a time, here-and-there, where I can guarantee that Daisy will not reach up, grab the box, and start sucking on the edges of the cards with unrestrained glee. (Obviously, if you get a card with a soggy edge, you'll know I got desperate and let her have at it for a while.)

If it was JUST about the cards themselves, it would be an easy task and you would have had them the week after Thanksgiving. But, it's not. It's a multi-step process and without hours and hours of weekend time to spend doing whatever I please any more, the multi-step process is taking place in multi-stages over multi-days.


First, there's the addressing. I go back to my trusty Outlook address book and realize, as usual, that I forgot to update it with all the new addresses of family and friends from the past 12 months plus the addresses of new friends I'm adding to the list whose addresses I do not yet have. So, task #1 is to get in contact with said people and update/obtain addresses.

Then I look again at the list and realize, in horror, that I have forgotten some of the names of my family's kids. I feel absolutely horrible about this, by the way, but in my defense I am 6,000 miles away and they have been pro-creating at a much faster rate than yours truly. And I'm sorry, I just can't do the card without the personalized greeting; it's important to me to send you a card that I have personally written in and I like to demonstrate thought in *remembering* to include your children on the greeting. I remember being a kid in England and getting soooo excited when someone would send a card to my parents and address it to me also. I've never forgotten that and so I refuse to send out a card unless I have all names of everyone in the family on the Dear.... line. Anyway, task two is to somehow (without offending said family or friend and usually through a 3rd party who keeps better track of these things than I do) obtain names of their kids (and sometimes even spouses/partners.)

Task three is to insert the annual picture into the card. Again, I have some things I'm anal about at this time of year and I just won't send a flat card. I have nothing against you sending me a flat card, please understand but I like a card that stands up. The card stands for me and my family and I want it to, well, stand. So, this eliminates those print-and-go things from Target and Walmart that would probably save me oodles of time and effort and money. Not for me; I buy the folding card and insert a 4x6 picture. This is obviously an extra step and, again, never as easy as it sounds. Anyone who has ever tried to put a 4x6 picture in one of those cards knows that 50% of them are not glued right and so it's a fight to the death just to get the picture down in the pocket. Unfortunately, this year, we did not do so well with some of them and poor Hubby's head seems to be either adorned by a green bow or slightly lopped-off at the top. (Sort of like an enforced flat-top - yes back to 90s for Hubby...Ice-Ice-Baby!) Needless to say, if you receive a card like this, please do not make fun of him - he was a good husband, participated in the maddening stuffing process and does not deserve it.

Next comes the return address labels. This is where I really begin to miss England because you can send something in the mail without having to include a return address on it. Usually, through forethought and foreplanning, I have ordered or created said return address labels in advance of the task of Christmas Card sending. However, this year, the season has sort of crept up on me and not a label do I have. So now, task four, which I am in the middle of contemplating options on, is to create and apply address labels. Decision point here is whether to go to Staples and obtain some of those Avery labels and create the darn things myself OR whether to use some kind of online service to get them designed and printed for me. With the DIY approach, the problem is that those labels never print up right (something always goes wrong with the alignment) or the labels peel off during printing and stick to the inner drum of the printer, thus resulting in many hours of me cussing and trying to make whatever said problem is right. The issue with the farm-it-out approach is now time and money - I'm already late for getting these cards out, especially for the ones that go to the UK, and I would probably have to pay a pretty penny to get the labels overnighted to me.

Finally, there are the stamps. I have regular 1st class stamps but I refuse to use them - they have to be holiday stamps, so I have to wait to the end, do a card-count and go buy some (because I won't use any leftovers on bills after Christmas plus I do online bill pay mostly anyway and barely use more than 10 stamps a year). Either way, since I have cards going to different countries, I have to go to the post office to purchase International stamps, which your local Safeway, Raleys, or CVS does not stock. So then it's off to the USPS, at the busiest time of year, to stand in a 60 minute line of idiots who don't know how to pack and ship a box, obtain the stamps. I then usually sit in my car, apply the stamps, get out again and post them... with a HUGE sigh of relief.

At which point (at some moment in the future, who knows when?) I will finally be done and you will be able to receive your Christmas card.

All I can say is, I sure hope you appreciate it, dammit!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Friday Motivation - Week 11: Progress!


Above pic is me and Hubby in July of '07. (Man, I need a tan again!)

Well, this week has been interesting.

Let's get the diet stuff out of the way...

LBS TO GOAL: 8.2lbs

I'm definitely noticing a difference in the way my clothes are fitting and am able to get into even more of my pre-pregnancy pants at this point - a huge relief for my pocket-book as well as my ego, lemme tell ya! If I can only get below 150 before my vacation to Jamaica (which is the date of my 3 week goal), I think I would feel a decent level of success, even if I don't make it all the way down to the golden 145.

Finally, after a long and brutal illness, my massage therapist returned to work yesterday and I had my first appointment with her in a long time. It turned out to be a breakthrough appointment.

We discovered that my pubic bone issues were being caused? exacerbated? by a lot of tightness where my adductor muscle connects at the joint. Once we got the adductor to release, the pubic bone pain all-but evaporated! She also managed to get my lower-back pain and tightness to go away - the first time in what seems like FOR-EVER! Of course, I now have upper-back pain (more on that later.) My body is like a toothpaste tube with no opening.

I left her office feeling like a completely new person. All the sense of instability that I had in my hip, pelvis, and pubic area seemed to be gone! Then, I decided to do a short yoga workout (all I had time for) and found that the difference in the quality of my movement was marked. Instead of feeling like my right leg was wading through mud in comparison to the fluidity of my left leg, it felt more like water. I was more balanced, felt stronger, and definitely found that my muscles relaxed and eased into poses faster.

To say that I was elated by this development was a complete and utter understatement. Even though I went to bed with tightness in my upper back, shoulders, and neck, just the fact that it was no longer in my hips and pelvis gave me a huge sense of relief - it was progress!

I woke up this morning feeling lighter and more positive than I have in a long time. This morning I had an osteopath appointment and I drove the 45 minutes there with a renewed sense of optimism that, eventually, if I keep doing what I'm doing, I will be healthy and fit and free of chronic pain once more; that I may be able to ski and hike and chase Daisy around the garden; that I will not be afraid to move in certain ways again; and that I will get to the end of the day without the sense of mental, emotional, and physical fatigue that I currently experience, quietly battling away with the pain and stiffness that currently plagues my life (and trying to pretend that it's really not there.)

I turned the music up in my car, bopped around, and actually started to think about the joys of Christmas for the first time. This sounds sort of cliched and all but I actually realized that the sense of hopelessness I have been feeling about the status of my hip has been impacting my energy level and enthusiasm for the season just about as much as the pain itself.

There's been an element of long-term doom hanging over my head for the last year and a half, a feeling that I was stuck with this pain and resulting limitations for life, and that by the time I'm in my 50s and 60s, I'll be so disabled by the whole thing (plus all the other pains of older age) that I won't be able to enjoy life any more. For me, it's not simply enough to exist in life - I have to live it. I have to go sky-diving and zip lining and ATV'ing and hiking and visit new countries and experience new things; without the feeling that I can go at life with full-on gusto, I'm lost. I realized this morning, in that moment of carefree driving, that I was losing hope that this is how my life would be.

Maybe you think I'm crazy for feeling this way, that I'm over-reacting, but I've been dealing with hip pain for 4 years now and have spent the last 18 months of my life recovering from one surgery or another plus I became a first time mommy - when you put it all together it takes it's toll mentally as well as physically. There are days when I miss who I was before all of this, physically and emotionally, so bad that I want to cry. I look at those pictures of me in 2007 (the ones that keep heading up these Friday blog entries) and I wonder how I was possibly that girl and how quickly (relatively speaking) I got from there to here.

So, yes, it was a big deal when I did that yoga workout yesterday and things felt different.

Now to the upper/middle back, shoulder, and neck pain. Yup, seriously, I know, can I get a break!?

I keep putting out ribs. My osteopath snapped three more back into place today. My neck is also so tight she's amazed that I can move my head from side to side. How do I keep doing this to myself? You think I'd know, but I don't. I do, however, notice when my ribs pop out and it happens quite a lot and without any sort of fanfare. I can be sitting here at my desk, typing away, or I can be sitting with Daisy on the floor playing, and I'll feel a pop around my spine. I used to think it was my spine but it's not, it's ribs moving. But it's always when I'm sitting. The ribs are, of course, causing the shoulder and neck tension and, when unaddressed, result in the tension also going down my back. Clearly, the ribs need to be dealt with.

My osteopath suggested focusing on my lats, traps, and pecs more during my strength training workouts, to give my back and my ribs more muscular support and to help improve my posture. This is not the first time I have heard this in my lifetime and so I'm going take that advice and see what happens. I'm also making a very conscientious effort to sit in a more ergonomically correct position at my desk. I know I have a tendency to slouch and, when you work from home where nobody can see you, there is little motiviation to "sit pretty". Therefore, the only way to remember is to remind myself: I'm putting a little sticky on my computer that says "SIT UP STRAIGHT!"

Hopefully, if we can keep-up the progress with the hips and nip the back/shoulders/neck thing in the bud, I'll be able to sense true pain relief and the first inklings of long term recovery.
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