Race Goals


Race day is coming up fast and I’m starting to feel…ready for it to be over.  I’ve been training fairly hard, for me, anyway.  I’ve been going to postnatal fitness classes, running several times a week, going to the odd yoga class and to some spinning at the Y.  I’ve run the course a few times with some of the other new moms who are doing the race.


Here we are at the top of the hill!

I’ve had a good time and it’s been fun to see results, especially after having a baby.  But I’ve found myself running low on free time for other things.

I’m definitely not going to set any records, and I won’t be able to get myself over an 8 foot wall by myself.  Even the over-unders are going to be a challenge.


Over-unders are a heck-of-a-thing.

And I’ve blocked out the fact that one of the obstacles involves *fire*.  I’m just in this race for the fun of it.


Photographic evidence of the fun.

But I do have some goals:

1)      Do not get poison ivy.  This is most important.  Even more important than finishing.  I get poison ivy if it wafts on the breeze in my direction, so this could be difficult.  But I’m going to do everything in my power to stay in the middle of the trail and not be pushed off into the poison-ivy-laden forest.  Watch out for my elbows, racers.

2)      Finish.  I’m pretty sure I’ll finish, but there will be snow and fire and poison ivy and spectators with super soakers, so who knows.

3)      Get a photo with the girls.  This could be tricky, because we’ll all be finishing at different times, but it may happen.

Overall, I’m glad I signed up for this crazy race.  Let’s hope I still feel that way on Saturday at 9:00 am.

Banjo vs. Bagpipes


This is going to be a quick post, because it’s the long weekend and our little family is going to attempt a hike when the baby wakes up in a few minutes.  Hiking with C is a challenge because she dislikes baby carriers, but we’re attempting to desensitize her to them by taking her on pleasant, short hikes once in a while.  This is (we hope) going to result in baby who will be happy to go on a 10 km hike in July when we take her camping in Algonquin Park.  I’m only half joking.

I’m writing this as a bit of an update to my last post about how to play a loud instrument with a baby around.  This past Friday, at a pre-party for the mountain race that I’m doing in less than two weeks (eeek!) I met a woman who plays the bagpipes.  She also has a baby boy who is a little older than C.  I asked her a million questions.  She told me the following:

1) She can’t play bagpipes in the house, even when her baby is awake and happy, because they’re too loud and they scare him.  A lot.

2) She practices with her pipes & drums group, but can’t practice anywhere else unless it’s with a little kazoo-type, bagpipe-practicing contraption that doesn’t make much noise.  I’ve heard of these.  They’re good for learning new songs and developing muscle memory.

3) She couldn’t play her bagpipes much at the end of her pregnancy because it’s so physically demanding that it would cause painful contractions.  Apparently she would still play with the pipes & drums but would have to sit out the odd song because of this.  She is tough stuff.

What I took away from this conversation is that I should make a better effort to keep up my practicing.  If this awesome bagpipes-playing woman can manage to keep up her practicing with a baby who is terrified of her instrument, I have no excuse.  Even though the banjo is loud, it is nowhere near bagpipes-level noisy.  So it’s decided.  There will be daytime hoedowns in this house.

Now I just have to deal with the fact that my tuner is broken.  Its demise involves peanut butter.  I’ll discuss this later.  In the meantime, I hope everyone is having a fantastic long weekend!  Happy Victoria Day!

Have you hugged your banjo today?


The poor, maligned banjo is actually quite a beautiful instrument.  Ever since I put on my first pair of finger picks, I’ve noticed a few things.

1)      When you play the banjo, everyone asks you to play Duelling Banjos.  This is reasonable, because it’s a very recognizable bluegrass song.  Thanks, Deliverance!  And it’s actually a really fun song to play.  However, it is a duet.  People will insist that you play it alone, with awkward pauses where Ronny Cox should be playing guitar.  They will not take “no” for an answer.  Damn you, Deliverance!

2)      Any time a television program discusses a topic such as cousin marriage or people who fish with their bare hands, there will inevitably be a banjo picking away in the background.

The banjo is subject to a lot of stereotyping, but it can be difficult to learn and to play.  It’s also a lot more versatile than a lot of people realize.  My sister used to always say “you can’t play a sad song on the banjo” but you can play beautiful, melodic songs on the banjo that can sound quite haunting.  She doesn’t say this anymore, because she has recently taken up the banjo herself.  Go, sister!

In any case, the banjo is awesome and I’m often disappointed that I don’t have more time to practice.  I have a sticker on my banjo case that says: “Have you hugged your banjo today?”

My poor banjo hasn’t been hugged in a while.  I would love to play it more, but it’s such a LOUD instrument.  And nap time is such a precious, precious time.  People have suggested that I take it downstairs to our unfinished basement and play it there, with the baby monitor close at hand while C naps.  There’s nothing very wrong with that idea, it’s just a hassle.

I could probably do some quiet picking in the front room of the main floor (where the banjo lives), but then, where is the fun in that?  The banjo is meant to be played loudly, vibrantly, and with enthusiasm.  A quiet hoedown is just not the same.

Can anyone relate to this?  Has anyone figured out how to do something pleasant, yet nap-unfriendly during the day? 

Running Up That Hill


I’m signed up for a “mountain adventure race” that is taking place in less than a month.  I put that in quotes because there is no mountain in my town.  There is an escarpment that we call a mountain.  I thought I should clear this up, lest anyone think that I’m training to run up a legitimate peak.

Keeping active is one of the things I’ve tried hard to do during C’s infancy so far.  It’s good for both of us.  I think it’s important to model a healthy lifestyle.  I want to be able to keep up with Pete once I actually get my own bike (one of Pete’s may have to move out to make room.)  And C really likes being around other babies at mom-and-baby fitness classes.  It’s a win-win-win.

I started going to postnatal fitness classes at the YMCA when C was seven weeks old.  At first, I took it easy and only went once a week.   I went for lots of walks with her in those first few months though, because the weather was absolutely glorious until mid-December.

In January I added a second postnatal class to our schedule, and this one was more of a boot camp.  C loves these classes, because she gets to hang out with other babies and watch moms jump around and do endless burpees and generally suffer a lot.  Babies like that sort of thing.

I became friends with some pretty active and athletic new moms who encouraged me to sign up for this race.  And I’ve had a lot of fun training with them.

Here is a photo of our group training to get ourselves over a 6’ wall (among other obstacles).  The YMCA staff have been great and have set up obstacles for us to train on.  They’re super fantastic.

All in all, I’ve had a great time training for this race.  The actual race may kill me, but the training has been fun.  But as I’ve gotten stronger I’ve started to wonder: how will I be able to keep fit once I start working again?

I said in my first post that I was hoping to get some tips from readers.  Right now, I’m able to exercise because I bring C with me to the gym during the day.  But once I go back to work, I won’t be able to do that.

Here’s what I want to know from parents who work.  How do you find time to exercise? 

Bike, banjo, baby and blogging


I have an eight month old baby.  That means several things.  I’m pretty tired by the end of the day.  I do a lot of laundry.  I spend a lot of time hanging out with a little pre-verbal person who makes me laugh and tries to eat my face.

Before C was born, I heard so many warnings that my life was going to change so dramatically that I would no longer recognize it, or myself.

You’ll never get a good night’s sleep again.

It will be ten years before you have time to read a book again.

You won’t have any time for yourself, everything is about the baby now.

I started this blog because my husband and I are first time parents who are struggling to do a good job with our baby, while holding on to our passions and individuality.

Pete is a mountain biker, but he would like me to point out that that he is not ONLY a mountain biker.  We have seven bikes in our garage and not one of them belongs to me.  And we’re not storing any bikes for anyone else.  We don’t collect old bikes and restore them for people.  Pete owns seven bikes.  And before anyone comes to the (admittedly logical) conclusion that he’s a big spender, he drives a 2002 Honda Accord.

I play the banjo.  I decided to learn an instrument after I finished university, mostly because I was sick of studying and wanted to do something different.  I bought a banjo at a local music store and drove family members crazy for a few months until I could pick out a recognizable bluegrass song.  Poor them.  They heard a lot of “Cluck Old Hen” and “Old Grey Goose” and “Shuckin’ the Corn” and other banyard tunes.  Sorry, family!

We have lots of other interests, of course.  This blog is going to follow us as we try to keep up with all of these things while raising a wonderful little person.  I’m hoping that as we stumble along we can share some of our successes and missteps.  I’m also hoping that we can get some tips and tricks from readers.

Thanks for reading!