Monday, January 4, 2016

10 000 Steps

I got a Fitbit for Christmas. Well, sort of… I asked for a Fitbit for Christmas, and I didn’t get one, but I did get an outrageously overpriced gold chain that my sweet husband bought because I asked for a chain for an “L” charm I have. I did not mean for him to spend much money on it, and he didn’t want to spend much money on it. However, the poor man is not particularly comfortable buying jewellery, and so he is easy prey for salespeople when he walks into a jewellery store. He chose a lovely, very delicate chain that I probably would have broken in a week. I took it back and bought a Fitbit.

Initially, I wanted a Fitbit because I thought it would be a good way for me to keep track of my steps and improve my fitness on my own. Chris didn’t agree. He believed my motivation should be intrinsic (coming from within myself), rather than extrinsic (coming from a form of technology). What neither of us understood was that the Fitbit app provides an opportunity to develop a community of friends working toward a common goal and encouraging each other. Several of my friends had gotten this little gadget for Christmas, and a couple of them encouraged me to go for it. The most basic goal is to reach 10 000 steps a day, but it also keeps track of things like stair climbing, sleep, and heart rate. I’ve had it a week now, and today I hit that 10 000 step goal for the first time.

Connor accused me of cheating to reach my goal, but I didn’t. I went back to work today, and I know that I am on my feet a lot at work, depending on the class that I am teaching. Today I had about twenty minutes of down time with no one else in my classroom, so I started doing laps. I racked up about 1000 steps in no time, just cruising around my classroom. This was not cheating. No, this was doing exactly what the little gadget is supposed to do – spurring me on to better fitness by providing a daily goal. Not only this, but I have entered into a workweek challenge with a couple of friends and I was determined to end the day in first place. Would I ever have considered doing laps around my classroom if I were not wearing my new little tracking buddy? Not likely. Now, I will admit the few arm pumps I did at the dinner table to try to trick it into adding some steps, that was probably cheating. But laps in the classroom? Nope, that was just proving that the technology does what it’s supposed to do.

Am I a fan of every feature of the Fitbit? The jury is still out. I’m not convinced that the sleep tracker improves the quality or quantity of my sleep. On the contrary, I wonder if knowing I will find out in the morning exactly how long and how well I slept actually keeps me from achieving good sleep at times. I also question the accuracy of the heart rate monitor, but I appreciate having some measure of when my heart rate increases and why. I haven’t used the eating plan or kept track of my water intake yet, but I may try those features in time. Meanwhile, I am going to just keep trying to hit 10 000 steps every day, and at least 10 flights of stairs. And I am going to enjoy having a community of friends to spur on and encourage while we work toward the goal of better fitness in 2016. So far, I am liking my new toy.

Friday, January 1, 2016


My resolution this year is to write. Every day. At least 500 words. It won’t always be a blog post. It won’t always be profound, or well-structured, or even intelligent. But to write is a beginning. And maybe someday it will turn into something more than musings… Something someone other than my mother will be interested in reading.

The problem is, I have made this resolution before. Perhaps not this specifically, and maybe not as intentionally, but I am still afraid that this one will fall to the wayside as other resolutions have before. How do I make this one different? How do I make it matter enough to follow through? I want to be purposeful about this. I want to make it a habit. I guess that’s why I haven’t made many rules that I have to stick to. That’s why I’m not just writing for my blog. I don’t want the pressure of having to write for others every single day. Many times this will just be for me, gathering my thoughts or preserving memories. I don’t know what I will write about. I have some ideas, but sometimes I’ll just pull a random writing exercise from a book or the web and I’ll see what happens. I really don’t know what this is going to become. But I know I am going to write. Every day. At least 500 words. No rules, just writing.

My lovely sister-in-law and her family were here for New Years Eve yesterday and into this afternoon. She and I connect on so many levels that our conversation feels like a tennis match to anyone else in the room – constant volleying of ideas back and forth about a hundred different topics in a matter of minutes. Our husbands and our children try to interject occasionally, but it is a challenge. She said she is going to try “bullet journaling” this year. I had never heard the term before, but it is basically what it sounds like, getting thoughts down in bullet points. This might be something I incorporate into my writing, but I have far too many words to say to fit it all into quick bullet points. I have far too many words to say… period. But once in a while, my writing might take that form. Like I said, no rules, just writing.

We rang in the New Year beautifully, with my husband’s sister and her husband and his brother, and with his step-sister and her sweet family, and with our two fantastic kids. I wonder how many more New Year’s Eve celebrations our children will want to spend with us? My son will be 16 in a month. Next year there might be a girlfriend in the picture. Maybe she’ll join our party, or maybe they’ll have a celebration to attend of their own. It has not been easy for me to let him grow up, even though he is mostly still a homebody who wants to hang out with his mom and dad. But I have to realize that there are some milestones coming that I am going to have to just let happen, knowing that I have taught him well and he is wise and good on his own. And one of those will include ringing in the New Year without his mom to hug at midnight. Time flies way too quickly. Luckily we have made beautiful memories to hold on to over the years, and new ones just last night as we hugged and kissed each other and cousins and aunts and uncles and toasted the arrival of 2016.

I resolve to preserve these memories with words. For my son, for my daughter, for myself. And sometimes for my mom to read since she’s too far away to be a part of them all. And maybe even for others who might be interested in sharing our journey from time to time.

Welcome 2016! Let the ride begin!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

To Gym or Not to Gym?

I have had a gym membership for about eight months. This is a good thing. I need to be getting regular exercise, maintaining good heart health, and taking off some excess baggage. I started out very scheduled. Last spring I went to the gym faithfully every day that I didn't work. Then summer came along and I have been sporadic about my workout every since. I will be really good for a couple of weeks, and then I fall off the wagon and can't get back on for a few more weeks. I can almost always find a reason NOT to go to the gym. Perfect example: right now I have chosen to write a blog post instead of going to the gym. I have a few other reasons. I could be cleaning. I could be calling my mom. I could be putting chicken wings in the crock pot for dinner. All pretty good reasons. But none really preclude a trip to the gym. It's just around the corner. It takes about two minutes to get there by car. My car is in good working order. I'm not sick. I really have no reason not to go. Yet here I sit.

But I think I have identified the problem. I don't actually like going to the gym. I have found nothing that makes me look forward to returning. It's all just hard work. If it were fun, it would be different, but it's not. It's pushing myself it a way that I'm just not good at. It isn't the gym's fault. It's a nice gym. Great atmosphere, nice equipment, friendly people, good classes, even a pool and a hot tub. I have just never been a person who gets excited about physical activity. At least not solitary physical activity. So maybe I would be better at this if I had a gym buddy, but the fact is, I don't. My only choice right now is to go alone. And so I must choose to go. And herein lies the problem.

I am far too skilled at procrastination. "I'll do it later" falls too easily off my tongue. Really, I think that is what blogging this morning is all about. Sure, I'm glad I added a blog post. Two posts in one week is a record for 2013. I hope to achieve my goal of three posts a week quite regularly this year. But going to the gym three times a week is at least as important as adding to my blog. So here I go. Getting off the couch. Grabbing my gym bag. Heading out the door. The cleaning and the chicken wings can wait until later. But I do have to get groceries...

Oh! And Connor just called to say he needs to come home from school -- He's sick! So I guess I should stay home and be nurse-mom. Too bad! Off to the gym tomorrow!

Sunday, February 3, 2013


As of yesterday, I am officially the mother of a teenager. I feel like I should be afraid. Like I should be bracing myself. These are the scary years, right? The years filled with push/pull and testing boundaries and rebellion. Important years that must be navigated carefully. Years that will define my future relationship with my son.

But strangely, I don't feel afraid. I feel blessed. I realize that there will be push and pull, and boundary testing, and maybe a bit of rebellion. But Connor is an awesome kid. He is honest and trustworthy and really wants to do the right thing. I am not naive enough to think there will never be issues we'll have to struggle through together. We already have, and he and I are far too much alike to go through life without butting heads. Homework time this afternoon was a perfect example. His stress level and mine rose to the breaking point, and we both needed a cooling off period before we could accomplish what needed to get done. But it did get done. We survived. Sometimes Chris looks at Connor and I and shakes his head. We are two sides of the same coin, and we drive each other crazy, but we always come out the other side ready to share a hug. I hope that doesn't change as my teenager grows older and "cooler". I don't think it will.

Connor has always been a homebody. He never wanted to go to camp (much to his dad's dismay), and until the last year or so he hasn't even been big on sleepovers. He likes to be in his own bed and night, with Mom and Dad not too far away. Two weeks ago he went to his first youth retreat, a winter weekend in Muskoka with the church youth group. He was super-excited, and a little nervous, but only someone who knows him as well as I do would realize it. I was really nervous. I was more worried about a fiery bus crash on snowy roads than anything else. I just wanted my boy safe at home, and by 6:00 Sunday night he was, with a big smile on his face. I am so glad his first "away from home" was a good experience, a great experience. It was good for both of us, good for him to get away, and good for me to let him go. I know it will be happening more and more.

This weekend, however, on his birthday, Connor was content to spend the day hanging out at home with his family. We had a big family breakfast, opened some presents, had Connor's favourite (tacos) for dinner, and then he stayed home and babysat his sister while Chris and I went out in the evening. His biggest event of the day was joining Facebook. He's still a homebody at heart.

Connor is a teenager. He is three inches taller than I am, and is quickly gaining on his dad. The years of driving and dating and leaving home are not that far away. We are entering a new stage of life together, and there will be challenges for our family. But in general, I couldn't be more grateful for the kid that Connor is. He has a generous heart and a great attitude. He is compassionate and kind, a good friend and wonderful brother. He is a teenager, but deep inside he's still my little boy. I hope part of him always will be.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Look Mom -- No Braces!!!!

This was my girl when I got home from work today -- A big smile and a big bowl of popcorn.
Love those beautiful braces-free teeth!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Movie Madness

Christmas vacation was very uneventful at the Haines household this holiday season. We didn't go anywhere — and I mean anywhere. We didn't entertain, except for a small afternoon get-together with our close friends from church on the 16th, and Chris's sisters and their families on the 30th. I didn't do any Boxing Week shopping, although Chris did on Boxing Day, but that is a story for a whole other blog. We did, however, enjoy time together in our own home, among our own things, especially in our newly finished basement.

For two years we had been promising our kids (and ourselves) a cool basement, with an awesome TV with surround sound, and an Xbox 360 with Kinect. This was in great measure a reward for Chris finishing the work mostly on his own. His framing and my painting, along with hiring a very reasonable worker to fill in our gaps, basically paid for the extra large TV, furniture and accessories that adorn our cozy family room.

So the past two weeks we have enjoyed them together. And although Chris and I do enjoy watching the kids exploring their new Xbox games (and joining in now and then), this has primarily meant family movie nights. And as a family we have watched a bunch, together and separately. I'll give a short list, although at this late hour, as I'm watching the end of The Amazing Spider Man with my boys, I won't promise it is exhaustive.

  1. The Avengers — Chris and Connor and I had already seen it in the theatre, and we had to twist Janelle's arm to join us. But she LOVED it! She giggled and cheered and remained wide awake until the movie ended at midnight. We got to experience the 3D feature of our TV, which we had previously only tried with Hugo. We hadn't set out to buy a 3D TV, but were seduced by a deal when we bought it, and I have to say, the 3D is excellent, far better than any we've seen in a theatre. So the kids each got a few 3D movies for Christmas, and it has been fun to check them out. The Avengers was a great way to start. We all loved it, and I know it is one that will remain in our movie library to be enjoyed many times and for many years to come.
  2. Madagascar 3 — Janelle got this one for Christmas, and it was also in 3D. She loves all the Madagascar movies. I remember her as a tiny little girl dancing around in front of the TV in our basement on Crocket Street singing "I like to move it, move it!" We don't all get the same pleasure from the movie that she does, but her enthusiasm for it is contagious, and that makes it a family favourite.
  3. Brave — The kids and I saw this one in the theatre this summer, and I picked it up for Janelle on Black Friday for next to nothing. Connor was at his buddy's house for a post-Christmas sleepover, so Chris and Janelle and I settled in to watch her movie. Janelle and I enjoyed it as much as the first time. I love that it is a love story between a princess and her mom. Chris wasn't overly impressed with the movie, but he did love that Janelle held his hand all through it. She is Daddy's girl.
  4. Whales and Dolphins 3D — We all watched this one the afternoon of New Year's Eve. This was the only disappointment we've had with the 3D on our TV. The movie is really interesting, but the transitions were very disorienting. I kept wanting to take off the glasses. Like all of our 3D movies, it comes with both a 3D disk and a 2D disk. I look forward to viewing it again in 2D.
  5. The Lorax — Janelle had been dying to see this one. Connor saw it on a rainy day at camp in August, but she had only seen it in French at school. I missed this one, which the rest watched while I cleaned the house for our Haines family party. I can only share the kids' reviews: "So cute!" (Janelle) and "Sooooooo boring!" (Connor). Shocking.
  6. Moneyball — I brought this one home from my Black Friday shopping spree in Indiana and put it Chris's stocking. He picked it one night last week. We both enjoyed it. Really interesting subject matter, and Brad Pitt not looking like a homeless man. Highly recommended.
  7. Secret of the Wings — Janelle's movie. She watched it and loved it. Connor endured it while putting together some of Janelle's Lego. I skipped it.
  8. Raiders of the Lost Ark — Chris, Connor and I watched this perennial favourite on New Year's Day. I can't say a bad thing about that movie. We all love it. Doesn't everyone?
  9. Say Anything — There is a second hand CD/DVD/Video game store nearby where we often trade in our movies and video games. They have a 2 for $6 rack, and we've picked up quite a few previously missed movies there. We figure $3 is cheaper than renting or OnDemand, and we can watch it on our own timeline. A few months ago Chris came home with this throwback to the eighties that neither of us had seen, and we pulled it out two nights ago. It wasn't bad. It was fun to check out the clothes and hairstyles that we can hardly believe we had any part of, and John Cusack gave a really good performance. The lead actress was terrible though. I can understand why I've never seen her in anything else. Glad I saw it, but I'll be happy to trade it back in at the video store.
  10. Tin-Tin — Connor found Tin-Tin on Netflix one day last week. I only saw a few minutes of it, but Connor was very impressed. He said the graphics were "Crazy", and insists we need to make it our next family movie night. Today he even spent a Christmas gift card on the Tin-Tin Xbox game.
  11. Prometheus — Before we went to Indiana for Thanksgiving in November, Chris had been complaining that he missed this movie and that he was sure I'd never watch it with him. I found it in one of the super-cheap bins at Walmart in the middle of the night on Black Friday, so I knew I had to bring it back to him. I kept it for Christmas and he pulled it out on New Years Day morning. I stayed in bed and watched a couple of episodes of  The Gilmore Girls (my latest obsession). As he had predicted, there was no way I was going near that movie. I asked later if there was anything about it I would have liked. Chris very honestly said no.
  12. Crazy Stupid Love — This is another one I picked up in a cheap bin on Black Friday. Last night was my turn to pick, so I pulled it out. We both thought it was a very cute movie. Definitely worth the $3 I paid for it.
  13. The Amazing Spider Man — Tonight's pick. This time we could not persuade Janelle to join us, and I skipped the sad parts while I talked to my parents on the phone and put my girl to bed. The boys seemed to enjoy it, and I know this one won't be making a trip to the second hand store. However, Chris said after it was over "It has good bones, but I still think I prefer the first Spider Man series".
  14. Star Trek the Motion Picture — In the time it took for me to write this blog post, the Spider Man movie ended and Chris pulled out his well-used copy of the first Star Trek movie, just to see how it looks on his new big screen. He fast forwarded through and saw his favourite parts, and then moved on. I only included it because it provided the soundtrack to the writing of this post.
  15. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade — Connor has finally found his way to bed and Chris has popped in this last (and my favourite) movie in the Indiana Jones trilogy (I know there is a fourth, but does it really count?) We won't watch the whole thing, only the first few minutes, but it is fun to see old favourites, as well as new favourites, in our cozy new family room.
As you can see, there has been movie madness at the Haines household this Christmas break. In part it is because we all enjoy watching movies together, but in part it has been making this new part of our house feel like home. We're making memories together here, not just in watching movies. We opened Christmas stockings here. We played a rousing game of Charades the other day (Connor and I won!) It has become a favourite room of our house. And it has made all the sweat and tears over this project worthwhile.
We still have a cabinet full of unwatched movies that we've picked up either at the second hand store or Black Friday sales. Lawrence of Arabia, Crash, Avatar, The Ides of March, Funny Girl, Mean Streets, an entire boxed set of Clint Eastwood movies, plus many more, all waiting to be watched at our house. And those are only the DVDs! The choices on Netflix are practically endless. We plan to scale it back to one movie a week, though. Anyone care to join us?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

I'm Still Here!

Time flies by to quickly. How many times have I said it? It doesn't feel like three months since I've written a blog post, but it has been more than that. Today life looks very different than it did three months ago. There is snow on the ground, for one thing. I am sitting at my kitchen table, looking out the window at three children happily building a snow fort in the back yard, while light snowflakes softly falls around them. Our basement is finished, finally, and we have been thoroughly enjoying the extra space it has provided. Connor has somewhat recovered from the disappointment of not playing basketball this year. He still hopes to be part of a school team sometime in the next couple of years, but meanwhile he is enjoying more free time. He loves being part of the church youth group, and is going to his first winter retreat in Muskoka next month. Janelle still loves taking piano and dance. Last weekend she was part of a huge group of dancers from her studio who performed the half time show at a London Lightning basketball game. My kids have big smiles on their faces today. And that's what makes me smile.

I am sitting at my kitchen table because I got a laptop for Christmas! Now I can blog anywhere! And I will — I promise! But today the blog post is short because tomorrow it's Christmas again. Tomorrow we host the Haines family Christmas, so I have some work to do. Cleaning, groceries, putting all the gifts away. Life is busy as always, but I didn't want 2012 to end without one more blog post, just to remind everyone that I'm still here. Happy New Year!!