Sunday, July 31, 2011

Finding Balance: Weeks 26, 27 & 28: Out Of Balance

For the past three weeks I have been at the rock climbing gym twice a week.  I made progress on my projects some days, and had terrible sessions other days.  I think am out of balance. While working a problem last week, this guy gave me some beta (for non-climbers: a tip on how to do the climb, or boulder problem) on my project.  He noticed that my climbing style was all 'legs and hips'; meaning that all of my power comes from there (versus my arms and shoulders, like most guys climb).

In the past, I have always thought that my style of climbing helped me... but now I think that I am relying on it too much, and inhibiting my progression.  I wrote a post a while back about 'accentuating the positive', and I still agree that focusing on your strengths is great, but I think that I have been doing a bit too much of that lately. Ignoring your weaknesses completely isn't the best option.

My lack of upper body strength is holding me back.  Period.  There is a hang board in the middle of our family room (the dreaded hang board) and I rarely use it.  I used to go upstairs to work out after my climbing sessions at the gym... but, no, I haven't been doing that either.  This week, I was having a terrible, Jupiter Gravity day at the rock climbing gym; so I went upstairs and spent the better part of an hour working my arms, shoulders and back.

There are things in life that we have to face, and we don't want to... my climbing story is just a small example. We all (I hope I am not the only one) have things that we need to deal with; things that we don't want to deal with because they are more challenging to deal with than ignore.  I hope that facing them will actually make life easier in the long run.

This makes me think about my parenting.  I have been wanting The Kid (aka My Wonderful Son) to begin to put his toys away.  This sounds great in theory, right?  Just teach him how to clean up.  The thing is that I am not very good at cleaning up.  If you know me, this won't be a surprise:  Martha Stewart would run screaming from my home.  I am not a very good house keeper and constantly wonder how the women before me did it all?.

How can I expect my son to do something unless I do it?  I can't.  So, I am working on something that I wish I could ignore because it is hard for me... I am trying to become more organized.  Yipes.  It is easy for me to show The Kid how to climb or create 'art' or play in the garden, those are my strengths; but I need to work on my weaknesses to find some balance.

Wish me luck... send good organization vibes my way, and motivation to get on that damn hang board.

PS... while I did not get on the hangboard, John put a roof up on our climbing woody, and I played on it all Saturday afternoon.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 23, 24 & 25: A Numbers Game

In the past three weeks I made it into the Island Rock to boulder, but each week it felt as if it was all about the numbers.

When I got to the rock climbing gym on week 23, I found that all of the boulder problems had been assigned grades.  Prior to this, none of them had a rating to indicate the level of difficulty.  I really liked that;  I feel like climbing is purely for the enjoyment of climbing versus chasing grades, when there are no numbers assigned to them.  I don't want to know that this problem I just proudly sent is only V-easy when to me it was V-hard.  (**** Non-climbers:  boulder problems are rated on a scale of V0 to like V15.  Obviously V0 being the easiest; however a V0 boulder problem is still a rough equivalent to a moderately challenging rope climb.)

Week 24 was a numbers game for me personally...  I had a birthday.  I won't tell you which one, but, it sounds 'old' to me.  Anyway, despite what the calendar tells me, I have always felt young; and other than when John and I were trying to conceive, my age rarely crosses my mind.  However, I was perusing one of those (as I love to call them) trash celebrity magazines (that I love to read on airplanes, doctor's offices, or when John is away on business... and pretend that I am so uninterested in them), when an article caught my attention... something like 'celebrity beach bodies at every age' (you know what I mean).  So I get sucked in, and immediately fast forward to my age group to compare myself.

How ridiculous is that?  These women are being paid to look beautiful.  They have cooks, stylists, fitness gurus, and numerous other 'helpers' that I have never even imagined; and I am looking to see how I compare?  Does it really matter how my 'beach body' compares to anyone else?  It made me sad, and frustrated, that I fell into that trap of comparing myself to other women.  And, really, these other women don't truly exist in my world.  They may as well be cartoon characters, made up and drawn (or airbrushed)... I don't know them and never will... so why would I want to compare myself with them.... and why do any of us?

Ahhhh week 25... more numbers.  This time on the thermometer!  It is July in New York.  Even though I am close to the ocean, from time to time we get hot; and this week was one of those times.  Now, you should know that I love Island Rock... but... my biggest complaint is.... No Air-Conditioning.  Nope, none, nada.  Sigh.  The only day that worked for Brittany, The Kid, and myself was the hottest day of the week.  Sigh again.  For the non-climbers:  friction is very helpful when climbing... just imagine sweaty hands and trying to grasp  anything and pull your body up... it sucks.  Most of the climbers I know seem to take off the summers and just surf; well, I don't surf... yet.  Anyway, Thursday, the friction was awful, and I climbed awful too.   And, now that all of the boulder problems were graded... I knew exactly how awful I was climbing.

Those days when I don't do as well as I should, and not just in regards to rock climbing, are a let down.  I start to question myself.  Just like when I see that celebrity in a smashing bikini, who is around my age, and who looks amazing... I feel like I don't measure up.  Suddenly, all of the boulder problems have grades... and maybe I don't measure up if I feel like it is harder than everyone else thinks it is.

It seems like the same thing happens in life (with or without numbers assigned to them)... there are days when every parent I know seems to do a better job than me, everyone climbs harder than I do, everyone else has a neat, clean, organized home, and cooks fabulous dinners, and looks younger with way better clothes.

But guess what?  If I can just ignore the numbers (except for the temperature), and stop comparing myself... then I feel pretty good about myself.
Me, about one year old
My Great-Grandparents
Hard to believe I was ever this young!

PS - My blog posts have been few and far between lately.  It is summer and I am out playing!  I also don't use the computer when My Exuberant Son is awake; in the winter I stay inside (computer time) when The Kid naps... now not so much.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 22: Short and Sweet

This was just a simple week. 

I climbed at Island Rock twice this week; on Tuesday and Thursday.  It was nice to be back.  I started to build my circuit; a group of boulder problems that I could do easily as a warm up, or to pump out at the end of my climbing session. 

John taught a class on climbing anchors Thursday evening, and it was a wonderful surprise when he showed up before I left Thursday afternoon.  I showed him my projects... and couldn't use any of his beta.  His climbing style is currently so different from mine; he is all arms, and I am all feet.  However, he did find that my beta on one problem was easier than his; that 'give and take' is always nice, but it is so infrequent since he is a much stronger boulderer than I am.  

Things were simple.  I climbed.  I progressed.  No fireworks.  There are times when that is all we need... just to float with the flow of the stream.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 21: Just Me

The Kid and I went to the rock climbing gym on Tuesday afternoon, just before a gnarly heat spell hit New York.  It had been three weeks since I had climbed, and during that time the bouldering cave had been stripped, and reset.  So there were all new problems to play on.  None of the climbs were are marked with a grade (level of difficulty), which is cool with me.  There is Zen in climbing just for the movement of climbing; getting caught up in how hard you climb (or don't climb) can take away from the joy of the movement.  One of the reasons that I love rope climbing (versus bouldering) is that I am alone in my space, while I am climbing it is just me.

I went out running for the first time in over a year on Friday night; uh yeah, on a Friday night that is what I did... lame and boring, or not?  All week, before I went to sleep at night, I planned on an early morning run.  It never happened.  Friday night, Our Son was asleep early-ish, and John and I were hanging out.  I told him I really wanted to go for a run, but it was too late, already dark; he didn't think it was too late... so off I went.  I have never run at night.  Chili Peppers and Rob Zombie serenaded me while I ran.  I suck at running; I am terrible, but there is something that I love about it... even though I can't run fast or far.  I find myself in a simple, quiet space... except for the music that I always want super loud.  The other wonderful thing about running... is that it is only about me.  I have no clue how fast (or slow) I am compared to others, and no idea how far I run.  It is all about me, and what I do... not compared to anyone else.
Sunrise at our Island in Canada
August 2008

Lately, I have been thinking about how we seem to always compare ourselves to other people.  Sometimes this is a very good thing; when you see another accomplish something (big or small) and it motivates you in some way (big or small).  However, I think, that more often, comparing ourselves to other people makes us feel like we aren't quite good enough.  When I run at night, or climb un-graded boulder problems alone, there is no one to compare myself to... the experience is pure.  It is just the experience.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Weeks 18, 19 & 20: Time Passages

I have found myself pensive for the past three weeks.  The passage of time, and change, has been dominating my mind, for obvious and not so obvious reasons...

Two weeks ago, I climbed at the gym on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I finally sent one of my projects after several weeks of working it; it was the last two moves that kept shutting me down, but on Wednesday I sent it first burn.  Beyond that, I was still on a plateau.  I had bruised one of the tendons in my middle finger, and every time I grabbed a jug it sent a searing pain through my hand.  All of the joints in my hands had been hurting, and my elbow was flaring up again... so I was relieved (thought I hate to admit it) when Brittany (The Kid's sitter at Island Rock) was going to be away for a week and a half.  Taking a few weeks off from climbing would give my various aches and pains time to heal. 

The other night at home I was in the dining room listening to John get The Kid ready for bed.  He got out of the bath and John was asking him to get his pyjamas.  Suddenly, I realized:  that is the guy from the rock climbing gym.  This man chasing our son around to get dressed for bed: I met at him the climbing gym.... and here he is, in our house, and he is my husband, and we have a spectacular son.  That is that guy from the gym. We met when he was eating garlic pasta, and spouting climbing beta; somehow that meeting has brought us to the place we are now.  For some reason it struck me that evening.

John & Me
One of the first photos taken of us

Me, The Kid & John
We heard that one of the quintessential beach bouldering problems on Long Island was gone, two weeks ago.  Apparently someone built a fire under one our huge beach boulders on the North Shore, and the heat caused a large section of the rock to flake off and crash to the ground.  'Ride the Rail' is gone. Rocks seem so strong and impenetrable, but, over time they become fragile.  The family drove out on Monday (Memorial Day), and indeed the original climb is gone... forever.  This was the first outside boulder I ever climbed on; could it have really been eight years ago?

However, the most profound marker of the passage of time was the death of my grandfather, my Popop.  He was ninety-three, and lived an amazing life; but his body failed and he missed my Nana who passed away in November.  He was my last living grandparent, and it is the end of a security that I have had my entire life.  I was very fortunate that I made it to Pennsylvania to see him on Thursday; I got the chance to talk to him, and he was so excited to see The Kid.  He passed away on Friday around noon, and Tuesday would have been his 70th wedding anniversary... I believe my Nana and Popop spent their anniversary together... somewhere.
My Popop
Our Island in Canada

My Popop & The Kid (in his dragon suit)
November 2010

There are the changes of life... some profound and some so subtle that we don't even realize they occured until we look closely.  Taking a break when my body needs it, the course that a relationship takes, a tremendous rock crumbling, and a soul moving on to another dimension... all marking the passages of time.

Monday, May 23, 2011

On The Menu: Spaghetti with Shaved Asparagus

We belong to a wonderful CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture), The Hamlet Organic Garden, here on Long Island.  If you aren't familiar with CSA's... they are fabulous!  You purchase a share in a farm, and each week receive a portion of the farm's veggies.  Not only are you eating locally grown, fresh produce (which is healthy for you and the environment), supporting real family run farms, but also it forces you to expand your cooking repertoire.

To find a CSA in your area check out Local Harvest ...
"The best organic food is what's grown closest to you. Use our website to find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies."
Last weekend I visited our CSA and picked up some fresh asparagus.  We love asparagus and normally we broil it with some olive oil, salt, pepper and tons of garlic, and a squeeze of lemon when it is finished; but this week I decided to make something a little different.

I got the recipe from the April 2009 issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food.

Spaghetti with Shaved Asparagus

Course Salt and Ground Pepper
12 ounces of spaghetti
1 bunch (1 pound) of asparagus, tough ends removed, and shaved with a vegetable peeler
4 strips of lemon zest, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 Tablespoons of butter
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Add the asparagus and lemon zest to the pot; immediately drain the pasta mixture, and return to the pot.
Add the butter and lemon juice.
Season with salt and pepper, toss, adding enough pasta water to create a thin sauce.
Top with parmesan.

My Changes:
I added garlic, of course, since I add garlic to almost everything.  How much?  I probably added three cloves, minced, when I added the butter and lemon juice.  You can add garlic to your taste.
I also substituted  2 Tablespoons of olive oil, for two of the four Tablespoons of butter (just because we like to use olive oil).

To make the asparagus, all you do it shave it with a vegetable peeler.  What worked best for me was to hold the asparagus down on the counter and shave off pieces (vs. turning the asparagus like you do when peeling a carrot).

I am hoping to post more recipes this spring and summer using the veggies as the come into season.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 17: A Glimpse Into Our Life

So, here is something a little different this week... in addition to the rock climbing updates, I am giving you a little glimpse into our lives.

This is what we did last Sunday, and in between working on the cottage and the gardens, this is fairly typical for a stay at home weekend day...

The Kid climbing on our wall at home (he is almost 21 months old)...

Since we moved into our home, nearly three years ago we have been renovating this cottage.  At one point, in it's history, it had been an apartment for someone; so there is running water and a fireplace.  When we bought the house, there were trees growing through the eves of the cottage, holes in the floor, no insulation, the running water didn't run, bad roof... basically it was a broken down shed with a garage bay.  We have slowly been restoring it, and now (while it is not completed) it is the home of our climbing wall, pottery and stained glass studio.

John climbing on our wall at home...

Me... not climbing, just being ridiculous with The Kid riding behind me.

So that is how things go down at our house.  Not everyday can be exciting... but most days can be fun.

  With all of this going on at home, I know you are asking (on the edge of your seat) "what about climbing this week?".  Well friends, I made it in to the gym three days.  The Kid and I went to Island Rock this week on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Again, this was another plateau week for me at the gym; I didn't send any new bouldering problems, and I didn't regress.  My 'rest days' of Thursday and Friday were very full of activity: mowing the lawn, building planter boxes, gardening, and replacing parts of our back deck... in other words, by Friday night when John got home I was physically exhausted.  Not surprising, when we went to the gym as a family on Saturday, I felt like I was climbing through molasses. 

Not everyday can be exciting.  You can't climb hard everyday.  Real life can be hard work.  When I go to bed every night with my family... I am happy, and grateful.

Hope you got a laugh from the videos.  I'd love to hear from you... yes, you.  Comment. Follow me.  Share my blog.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 16: Walking the Carriage Road and Changing Expectations

This week started out with a bang.  I got up early on Sunday morning, and started packing while John and The Kid were still sleeping.  When they got up at 7:30, I told them they had half an hour to get ready and out the door.  At 8:09 we were on the road, driving up to the Shawangunks to boulder the carriage road.  The 'Gunks' is in New Paltz, and is the mecca for trad climbing and bouldering in New York; it is also where John and I had our first date, got engaged and got married.  This was the first weekend I would be up there climbing again, since being pregnant.

I have to admit that I don't really enjoy bouldering the Carriage road.  Truth be told, I am more of a rope climber than a boulderer.  Ironically I never (even before The Kid) get on rope at the gym, I only boulder at the rock climbing gym.  Bouldering doesn't require a partner (I have always prefered to hit the gym at odd times with less people), and it works my weaknesses.  Nonetheless I was super excited to get outside and climb, hit some of my old projects, and spend the day with John and The Kid.

While I am not sure exactly how I expected the day to go, it was probably something like this... The Kid was going to sit happily watching us climb, while he entertained himself playing with stones.  I was going to walk up to my old projects and send them (or at least one of them).  John would send everything he touched (which is what usually happens anyway).  The Kid would sleep happily in his stroller, and John could spot me on the hard boulder problems I was sure to send.  We would have huge family adventure.  Our day would be just like old times... only better, since we would be sharing it with The Kid.
On one of my old projects.
John did his best photographing...
but it is really hard to get a good shot, and watch The Kid.
We did have a great day... but it was different; different than my expectations and different than old times.  Somehow I had forgotten about the drop off along the Carriage Road (seems impossible, but I did), so I hadn't anticipated the terror that would run through my body, as The Kid ran full speed down the road.  The desire that The Kid had for a closer look of people working Buddha (demonstrated by his frequent attempts to walk under the boulderers), was also not anticipated.  His excitement overrode his need for breakfast, lunch, snacks or a timely nap; which began to erode my enthusiasm and energy.  John send every boulder problem he got on... no surprises there.  My months climbing exclusively on plastic did not translate into climbing well where it counts:  on real rock.

However, the differences in reality and my expectations also made the day wonderful... just different.  Seeing The Kid run full speed down the Carriage Road like a deer was breathtaking and beautiful.  Watching John climb is always inspiring; he always makes it look effortless, and climbs with passion.  After a long beautiful walk past Boxcar, looking at streams and seeing a snake, The Kid did fall asleep in his stroller (which honestly has only happened about three other times before ever).  During his nap, John and I got to talk to each other (without interruption) and John spotted me on some bouldering problems.  Despite my climbing not being where I had hoped, I remembered how much I love to climb on real rock, and am more motivated to get back out.

John said it best... this was our first trip upstate as a family.  We are learning what we need to do, so the day goes smoothly... and so is The Kid.  When John and I were first together, it took me hours to pack for a weekend upstate because I didn't know what to expect.  By the time we got engaged, we could be out of the door in twenty minutes.  We, as a family, are at the beginning of another learning curve.  I am starting to realize that our weekends upstate will be more about enjoying the day as a family, with some climbing... and less about only climbing.  I also have a feeling that just when we settle into this new groove, things will change... and, again, so will our expectations.

As far as the gym this week (my home gym is Island Rock on Long Island, NY), I made it in on Tuesday and Wednesday with The Kid.  Although, I didn't send any of my bouldering projects, I did start some new ones.  The important thing is that I am at the gym, getting stronger... so I can send some projects outside.

PS - The original Week 16 blog post was lost, this is a re-write.  A few hours after I posted the original, Blogpsot crashed; while it seems as though most posts were retrieved and re-posted, mine was not.  So in the event that you managed to read the original, before it disapeared, yes... this is not quite the same.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 15: Pulling People Up

"In life most people want to pull you down.  When you find someone who wants to pull you up, grab onto them."  A quote from my grandfather.

A few weeks ago there were a group of us, all working the same boulder problem at the gym.  It was a good session, and everyone was climbing around the same grade.  I am not a particularly social climber; I shy away from the crowds and the competition.  I am social with people at the gym, just not so much while I am climbing; I am not one of those people who usually get motivated around other climbers.  However, on this particular day, the vibe was right and so were the climbers, so I was really motivated.

Then this guy (who works at the climbing gym) comes up, takes off his street shoes, leaves his socks on, and climbs the problem (the same boulder problem everyone was working on).  He finished, sat down in a chair fifteen feet away and watched.  I assume he thought that he was now a hero, since he was able to climb the problem (in socks) that we had all been working.

This guy was a typical 'want to pull you down' person.  He didn't climb the problem as part of his circuit, nor did he do it to show us 'secret beta'... he did it to make himself feel big, and to make everyone else feel small.  (Side note:  I have no issue when people climb your project when they are actually climbing, we all do that when a boulder problem is part of your circuit; this guy hadn't been climbing before, and didn't climb after.)

It made me think about how much 'bigger' someone really is when they pull people up.  The person who makes people feel small doesn't succeed in making himself bigger in their eyes... just the opposite.  We all view the person who pulls us up as a hero, and the ones who try to bring you down as... well, as jerks.

This also made me more aware of the opportunities that I have to 'pull people up', and it gave me a lot to think about.  I realized that I don't make an effort to pull people up as much as I should; I don't pull them down, but I also don't make the effort to pull others up... at least not enough.

Anyway, we all (John, The Kid, and I) hit the gym on Tuesday, and The Kid and I went on Friday.  My climbing was uneventful... basically it was a plateau week.  This was just fine with me, I was just happy to be climbing.

I would love to know what you think about my blog, or this post, or really anything.  Leave a comment, and let's get a conversation started!
Oh... and please follow my blog!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 14: The Zen of Rock Climbing, Parenting and Life

The Zen of Rock Climbing
Rock climbing can be like planning a beach day. 
You plan all week, the day arrives, it rains, and you are out of luck.  It rains and there is nothing you can do about it.  You can, however, make the best of your day.  You can decide on the next best thing, and go for it... a walk in the rain, go to the climbing gym, watch a marathon of Star Wars, or look for rainbows.  You don't have control over the weather, it just happens, so why not make the best of it?

The Zen of Parenting
A child can be like the weather.
You can plan that you are going to put your kid down for a nap at ten o'clock, but if he isn't ready, it isn't happening.  You can plan that you are going out for pizza at noon, but if there is a diaper crisis that turns into a nap emergency, it isn't happening either.  With a child, sometimes this is hard; often I decide that I am going to do something fabulous, only to find out that I don't have buy in from The Kid (and I am not talking about him 'not wanting' to do something, more about the uncontrollable issues like sleep, hunger, diapers, or a fall that really hurts).  And just like the rain, there is nothing you can do about it.

The Zen of Parenting has been much easier for me to grasp, than the Zen of Rock Climbing.  When The Kid was an infant, the realization that I couldn't control the eat, sleep, diaper patterns of this little being was a relief.  While I have a rhythm and direction to our day, I also have found that letting go of rigid expectations allows me to find the joy in the unplanned, unexpected moments.

The Zen of Life
The Kid and I made it into the rock climbing gym on Wednesday, and it was an uneventful session, as far as climbing goes.  However, lately The Kid needs to check in with me a lot more.  Before the past few weeks, I had to search him out after my session, but not anymore.  He checks in with me frequently, sometimes every ten minutes, and often gets teary watching me climb.  But like the rain on my climbing plans, I can either get frustrated, or I can go with it.  It was nice to plug into my iPod for two hours and boulder without further interruptions, but it is also pretty damn wonderful that my Kid loves me and wants to check in with me.  He won't always want to do that, so I pick him up, give him smoochy kisses, chat with Brittany, and then climb some more.

The Zen of Rock Climbing and the Zen of Parenting have collided... The Zen of Life has been realized.  With everything in life, you can be miserable when things aren't going as you have planned... or you can focus on the positive and find unexpected joy in the experience.

John and I have been spending more days out on the climbing wall in the cottage, since the weather is warm; I climbed at home last Sunday and this Saturday.  (I can't get the workout that I need, not yet anyway... cement floor, not enough pads to cover the area, the holds on the roof line don't ensure that I won't blow a move and crash down to the cement... but I can still get some climbing in, especially if John is there to spot me.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Knitting, My Nana, and Contentment

During the cooler months I really enjoy knitting.  There is something cozy about knitting... it just feels like a fall/winter/early spring thing to me.  My knitting always seems to drop off as the weather warms.

My Nana taught me to knit.  I was about eight.  She was knitting and I wanted to learn.  We were at our family camp in Ontario; no roads, no electricity, no running water, no phone, and you bring in all of your food, supplies, etc with you when you fly in via seaplane.  It is a one room log cabin, and no, the bathroom is not included in that one room... there is an outhouse about 30 feet from the cabin.  The island is probably my favorite place in the world.
Our family camp in Canada
Back to our story... After gathering two sticks, she whittled a point on the end of each.  She wound a little ball of yarn up for me, and my Nana taught me to knit.  I can't remember the color of the yarn, or if I even made anything, but I do remember thinking how cool it was that she made the knitting needles, out of nothing, and she was going to teach me to do something that she did.  The experience has always stuck with me, and it was a story I shared with our family at her funeral last November.
My Nana

I am an OK knitter.  I am getting much better the more I work at it... just like everything else in life, we get better when we work at it. Fancy stitches are super challenging for me; I can't seem to remember to count, and loose my place (honestly, I have a hard time focusing for that long, but I hate admitting it).

I think one of the cornerstones of a happy life is being happy where you are, and with what you have.  Being Content.  Knitting is like that for me... often I would rather be at the pottery studio, or in our glass studio, or upstairs creating jewelry pieces, like I did B.K. (before Kid)... however, those things don't fit so easily into my life right now, but knitting does.  I can bring my knitting outside and watch The Kid play.  He gets his own little balls of yarn that he throws around, and for a little bit of time, I am able to create... something.  It may not be what I most want to create, but I am thankful for the moment.  I am content in that moment, and what I am doing, instead of focusing on what I wish I was doing.

Knitting also reminds me of my Nana... which is lovely.
My Popop, Me, My Nana, and The Kid

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 13: Reminiscing About Yosemite

 The first time I visited Yosemite was in 2006, when John and I went to climb...

John & Me, 2006, classic Yosemite scenic view.
From my climbing journal:

April 2006 (I didn't date the entry more than that)

Tuesday morning I am in the bathroom at camp (we camped in one of the pines campground the first year, before we started sleeping in Camp 4), and it is really freakin' cold.  The water in the bathroom faucet can only be one degree above freezing, any colder and it would freeze.  So, I am finishing washing my face, hands and teeth - when in walks this girl, about ten or eleven years old.  She is wearing this footy-type tie dye pajama get-up.  She starts to wash her hands in the near freezing water, and I ask her how she slept last night.  She said, "fine, but I have to wear my mom's shoes".

So, I look.  There she is... this tie dyed girl with these huge grey running sneakers sticking off her feet. She looked mortified; not about the tie dyed jumpsuit ensemble (which she probably chose and thought looked great), but about 'mom's' shoes (which she didn't choose).

"Well, sometimes that happens, and it is better than your socks getting filthy."  I really didn't know what else to say... maybe I should have told her that 'they were like the coolest sneaks ever, and I can't believe your mom loaned them to you'?  Yeah, that would have way been better, wish I had said that.

As I am writing this I am actually remembering how it felt to be so self-conscious that you think a stranger (a climbing dirt-bag stranger who hadn't showered in days), in a bathroom, at the crack of dawn, is noticing your shoes.

When I think about that exerience now, and how that girl felt, it makes me think about how it feels being a parent. Sometimes I feel like everyone notices every little thing about how we raise the Kid, and I feel self-conscious and insecure.  Parenting is almost like being a teenager all over again; awkward, confusing and insecure.  However, just like that teenager stage, as parents we make it to the other side... again.

This week's "getting back to climbing" update...
The Kid and I made it to the rock climbing gym twice this week, Monday and Wednesday.  Monday was a Jupiter gravity day, and everything I touched felt like V-Impossible.  But, then Wednesday came around... and the gravitational pull of the Earth changed to that of Mercury.  I sent one of my projects; one of the over-hanging, big move boulder problems I have been working for months.  Even the new projects I was working felt good.  Everything just flowed... and I am beginning to think that I have made it 'back to climbing' and may need to change the name of these posts.

On Saturday, John, the Kid, and I watched some of our old climbing videos from 2004.  That was fun, and I may have to put some up here, so you can get a good laugh.  So check back, follow this blog, and see where we take you.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 12: Finding Yourself

As I have said before, although I talk about my experiences getting back into rock climbing as a mom, this isn't only about rock climbing.  You could be a surfer, runner, yoga person; just replace the rock climbing with your 'thing' and replace the particular details with those of your 'thing'.  This is about remembering who you were before you became a parent, and finding the space and balance to be that person again.  Oh, and, no... it is not selfish.  Having time to decompress as an adult, and to have your child hear you talk about your passions, and watch you find flow, is good for them.

I was thinking this week about finding myself... the first time.

It took about 30 years for me to grow into my body.  Growing up I was super tall, super (painfully) thin, and super uncoordinated.  To say that I was a terrible athlete is a rose-colored-glasses understatement.  I tried to play softball; my coach used to throw 'pop fly' balls to me, over and over, and I couldn't catch them, so they would hit me in the face.  I played soccer forever; when I quit in high school, my coach told me he was surprised I stayed with it as long as I did (ouch).  I liked to run; but I couldn't sprint, and I wasn't good enough to run long distances.
Me, about 15, on the soccer field.

In my twenty's I was around a lot of surfers, and lived near good waves... I wanted to learn to surf, but after such athletic failure as a kid, I did not want to humiliate myself by even trying.  I also hung out with people who played softball ever Sunday, just for fun; I imagined myself getting out on the field too, and I never did for the same reasons.  Riding a bike was enough of a coordination challenge for me!

So, you are asking, "then how did you start rock climbing?".  In my early 30's, I was in graduate school, and as an assignment we had to 'learn something new'.  My new thing was skateboarding, which ended with a gnarly crash in my driveway.  I had a professor (neuro-anatomy I think) who was a rock climber, and she asked if anyone wanted to join her at the gym for their 'learn something new' project.  Well, I still had visions of me cruising down the street on my board, but I thought I would try rock climbing anyway.  Why not?

That was it.  I found myself.  And I knew it.  When I left the gym that night, I knew that I could be a good climber (why climbing worked for me, when nothing else had, is another post all it's own).  By the next week, I had a harness, chalk bag, gym membership and 5.10 purple shoes.  I was hooked.  About a month later I met John, and a month after that we had our first date.  Now it is almost eight years later...

Me, almost 25 years later, on Big Moe, Joshua Tree, California

We find ourselves many times throughout our lives, and we loose parts of ourselves just as often.  The pieces that make us whole... we need to make sure we find them when they get lost.  Especially as a parent.

I made it to the gym once this week.  Yes, sad to say, only once; but I did play on the monkey bars with the Kid at the park today, so that should really count for something.  I climbed well, and I am finally beginning to find the meditation in climbing that I used to have.  Flow.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Adventures of The Family Bed: Part 1

So, something new happened last night in the family bed.  The Kid woke up for about two hours.  This never has happened.  I am not saying that he 'sleeps through the night', far from it; he only wakes to nurse then goes right back to dreamland.  Did I mention that he laughs in his sleep?  No, well it is not pertinent to the story, but really super cool...  Anyway, last night he was UP!

If you know me in real life, you know that I have always been a sleeper, and very grouchy if you woke me up.  This has certainly been tamed post-Kid, but I am still not wide-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning, or at night when something wakes me up.  Well, last night the Kid wakes up, probably around 12:30 (we don't have a clock in the bedroom so this is just a guess); he wiggles around, sings to himself, and hangs out for about an hour.  Somehow this didn't irritate me.

Yeah, I know!  What is going on?  You've got this wiggly kid, singing, wedged between you and John in the middle of the night, and awake during prime sleeping time.  Why wasn't I pissy?

Not only was I not pissy, but I was PROUD of the Kid.  He was trying to self-soothe.  For about an hour, he tried to put himself back to sleep.  No crying.  No trying to wake Mom and Da.  No getting out of bed.  Just laying there, learning to self-soothe.

If you are a 'cry it out' person, you are cringing... 'the Kid should have been sleeping in his own bed and should have already learned to self-soothe by a month old... blah blah blah".  So if you are a CIO (cry it outer) you can just stop reading because we just won't see eye to eye, and I won't change your mind and you will never change mine on this issue.  Infants cannot learn to self-soothe by being left alone, in a dark room, in a cage, crying for help.  It causes increases in stress hormones which in turn can damage their developing brain.  Infant mammals do not sleep alone naturally; human or animal.
Dangers of Crying it Out
Crying it out causes brain damage

Back to the original topic... I was proud of the Kid!  He was learning to do what we all do when we can't sleep.  You wait it out and try to get comfortable.  He is 19 months old.  He was safe in bed, not scared, he just couldn't sleep.  When, Daddy got up to go to the bathroom, it was the beginning of the end... the Kid was up, wobbly following Daddy.  They had some water, some snuggles, and after a little longer, we all fell back asleep until the morning.  It is a bit of a milestone, and as I said before... I was proud of the Kid.

All that said... I really hope he doesn't plan on an encore tonight.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 11: Accentuate the Positive

Accentuate the Positive.  Eliminate the Negative... train the negative but don't always focus on it.

There must have been some cosmic alignment that altered the Earth's gravitional pull this week... very low gravity week. 
Tuesday afternoon I went into the gym with the Kid.  I was feeling crummy; like a cold was arriving, and I had zero motivation.  I went in anyway, figuring that if I was climbing really bad, I could always go upstairs and work out with the weights.

Surprise, surprise.  After the sporadic, and almost non-existent, climbing I did over the past few weeks... I climbed great!  I didn't climb a lot, but what I climbed was great.  I finally sent one of my bouldering projects, after months of attempting to link the top and bottom moves.  It wasn't a particularly hard problem, but it had all of the components that I struggle with... overhanging, big moves and a throw, up and around a corner.  I always have found big moves to be a challenge, and after so much time off (and a c-section) the overhanging boulder problems are ... well, a problem for me.  Anyway, I finally sent it.  Yipeee. 

Friday mid-day and I found myself back at the gym with the Kid.  I stacked the pads and jumped on one of my other boulder projects; a higher, more technical climb, with a very nice section where you need to cross-over then unwind.  As I said it was a low gravity week, and I sent it first burn.  This made me very, very happy.

Here's the thing: the second project was about two grades harder than the first boulder problem, and I worked it for maybe 15 minutes during three sessions (versus the first problem which I worked for months).  It was a better fit for my strengths and style of climbing.

It Accentuated my Positive!  And, sending that boulder problem made me feel really good about myself and my climbing.  Often in life we focus on all the Negatives, and bring ourselves down.  I am not saying that we shouldn't address our weaknesses and mistakes, I think that we need to work on eliminating them everyday, but feeling good about yourself is powerful.  Accentuating your positives (strengths or attributes) is healthy, and leads to more successes.

This goes for all areas of life... who wants to hang out with, hire, or love the negative person?  It grows old real fast.  Just to be clear, I am not saying to be a big show off, self centered, jerk who lives in a fairy tale land!  I am saying that feeling good about yourself for the things you do well, and celebrating them, is a great way to travel through life.

Accentuate your positives and let your star shine.  And if you really want to shine... accentuate other people's positives too.

"Accentuate the Positive.  Eliminate the Negative."  This happens to be one of my Dad's many, many favorite sayings.  Thanks Dad!!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 10: Absence Made My Heart Grow Fonder

What was going on this week?  Urgh, I had to cancel the gym on Monday and Wednesday because the Kid was very congested - and as I have said before, we think the chalk dust is not so great for us, especially the Kid when he is a snot factory.  So, I cancelled with the Wonderful Brittany.

However... pause.... for dramatic effect.....  I did get on the 'dreaded' hang board: Monday and Tuesday.

Sometimes it is easier than others...

On Friday, I made it to the gym.... alone.  Can you believe it... alone.  John had taught a class at the gym on Thursday night (ropes, anchors and gear - told you he is a badass).  He texted me on Friday: "you should go to the gym tonight".  I was filled with zero motivation for the gym, but a ton motivation to stay outside working in our gardens (I am very into gardening this spring... but that is a whole other post in itself).  By the time John got home, I still had zero motivation to climb, but considerable motivation to get out of the house... so off I went, alone.

Despite slacking off the past few weeks, I climbed alright.  Not great, but alright.  The gym was generally quiet, which I love, and I was able to just zone out with my iPod.  The thing is, I missed John and the Kid. I missed them.  I have heard my friends talk about feeling 'guilty' when they are away from their kids; that wasn't how I felt, I just missed them both.  When I got home and pulled up to the house, I saw the Kid standing half naked at the window waving to me, with John in the background, my heart just swelled.  I love my family.  I love my life.

Even though I missed John and the Kid, it was good that I went to the gym by myself.  It is good to miss your family; it is good to feel like that, and good for them to feel your renewed love when you get home. Also, I came home with stories to share with John, and they were not about diapers, snot, or stress; just like he had come home the night before with gym stories to share with me.  There is a tendency, as a mom, to always be there - and not only do we need a break from our family, but sometimes they need a break from us (as hard as it is to admit that).

This brings me back to my belief that taking time to be 'me' makes me a better mom, and a better wife.

Another quick observation... I used to hate, hate, hate the gym.  Hated it, but I had to go there to train, and I bitched the whole time.  Well, I was away for so long that... dramatic pause... I like the gym again.  Yes, plastic sucks, but I enjoy my times as a plastic princess.  See, absence does make the heart grow fonder.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 9: Memory Lane

On Sunday we went bouldering... outside.  I haven't been on real rock in two and a half years, and it was fantastic.

My brother was visiting from Arizona; so John, my brother (aka Unc), the Kid and I went out and bouldered.  There are some excellent boulders here on Long Island.  We went out to Wildwood State Park; there are some terrific boulders both on the beach and on the hillside.

The hillside boulders are one of the first places I ever bouldered outside, and they are loaded with great memories.  When John and I were together during our first summer, we spent the entire summer at this boulder in the evenings after work.  There is a problem on the corner of this mammoth boulder, that I worked, and worked, and worked.  I know I fell off of the opening move at least 500 times; really I am not exaggerating.  We have all been obsessed with something new... we dream about it (while sleeping and awake), spend our time doing it, and feel our spirit grow and soar while we engage in it.  Maybe it is surfing, knitting, gardening... or, in my case, rock climbing.  You know what I am talking about.  Anyway, that summer I worked that opening move over, and over.  We had just gotten a video camera, and John videoed me endlessly, so yes, I have video documenting me, blowing those moves repeatedly.  I felt so happy to be back there, and back on that problem.
John is a badass

Again, this isn't really about rock climbing.  It is about re-connecting with who I was before I was a mom, and who we were pre-Kid.  As John and I walked to the boulder, we told my brother some of the stories and adventures we had there.  We weren't just parents anymore, we were the same people who bouldered out there seven years ago when we first met.  Talking about climbing friends, some are still big parts of our lives, and others who faded away into different lives.  Remembering the other couples who were also just starting their relationships... none of them made it.  

I think it is critical for couples, with or without kids, to go back to those places where they fell in love.  To do those activities that you love as a couple.  To remember why it is that you chose this person as your mate.  Especially as parents, we tend to get bogged down with the mundane day to day stuff in life, and forget to just be joyful and grateful and have fun.

Climbing outside reminded me of two very important things ...
#1.  Real rock is sharp.  Ouch.  Crap it hurt.  But the friction was freakin' fantastic!
#2.  Plastic sucks.

But, alas... I returned to plastic on Wednesday at the gym.  It had been a while, and I climbed like sh*t.  But who cares about the blue problem at the gym... Plastic Sucks!
The Kid had a great day too.
And in case you were wondering, that problem that I worked that summer?  Yeah, I sent it... as a warm up.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What's Cooking? Pasta with Chickpeas and Charred Tomatoes

Pasta with Chickpeas and Charred Tomatoes is on the menu here at Chez Eclipse tonight.  So get ready!  I have made this three times before, and it was a winner all three times... so, now I will pass the recipe on to you.  Lucky Duck!

I found this culinary delight in the Feb 2011 issue of Bon Apetit.   This is one of the magazines I subscribe to, and always seem to find something yummy.  I do wish they had more vegetarian recipes, but I guess that is why I also subscribe to Vegetarian Times.

One of the great things about this recipe is that it is high in protein (from the beans) and low in fat (it is vegan).  Very filling.  Very easy.  Can be adapted easily - I'll share my changes with you after the original recipe.

Get out your skillet.  Boil some H2O.  Set the table.  Bring your appetite.  And Enjoy!

Pasta With Chickpeas and Charred Tomatoes

8 oz. penne pasta
1/2 cup plain hummus (store bought, unless you make your own)
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2-12 oz. bags of cherry tomatoes
1 - 15 oz. can of garbanzo/chickpea beans, drained
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 c. halved, pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro

Cook the pasta.  ****reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water (I almost always forget this part)****.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over high heat.  Add the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt an pepper.  Cook until they are blackened in some spots, shaking the skillet occasionally, about 8 minutes.  Mix in the chickpeas/garbanzos, garlic and paprika.  Crush some of the tomatoes to release juices.

Mix the hummus with the reserved pasta water (hope you remembered to reserve it).  Add hummus mixture to the pasta, mix to coat.  Mix in the chickpea mixture, olives and cilantro.

My changes:
I used rice pasta instead.  There are some really nice organic, brown rice pastas readily available.  We have been trying to reduce our gluten intake and rice pasta fits the bill.  It has a good texture, not the same as white flour pasta, but good.
We also quadruple the amount of black olives!  Seriously, we use like 2 cups.  John and I think that the olives make the dish, and the Kid absolutely loves olives.
I also only use dried beans; as I have said before, we do not eat anything from a can.  There is BPA in the lining of cans, and I don't want that crap in our bodies (this is nearly impossible to avoid, but that is a topic for a different discussion).  So I rinse the dried beans, and then boil them on high for a while (40 minutes maybe), turn the burner off and let them stand in the hot water for maybe an hour.  Then I taste test to see if they are cooked... if not I just repeat the process.  OK, I know this sounds like more work, but it isn't, and it is worth it.  Then you just measure the beans you need, and freeze the rest.

This is delicious, easy, and healthy!  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Climbing.... teaser

Oh so what did I do this week that I haven't done in a very, very long time?

Curious?  I hope so.  I will fill you in on Saturday.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 8: Be Here Now

Be Here Now

Drum roll....... we made it to the climbing gym ZERO, yes zero, times this week.
Zero point Zero.
What happened you ask?  You were doing so great!
Well, the wonderful Brittany (and I truly mean that), who watches the Kid, was sick on Wednesday.  And today, Friday,  I started to hear some congestion rattling around in the Kid's lungs.  He sounds like a growling bear cub when he breathes.  John and I imagine that a chalk dust filled gym isn't the best thing for his lungs.  Ho, hum.

You know I am always feeling like I have to do everything this moment.
I need to get back to the gym and train ASAP, so I can climb hard THIS spring.
I need to get back to the pottery studio this session, so I can get back to creating pottery RIGHT NOW.
I need to go out to my glass studio, so I can finish my stained glass panels IMMEDIATELY.
I need to get upstairs to my jewelry workshop, so I can make some new pieces to list on Etsy THIS MINUTE.
And this train of thought, or list, goes on and on.

I have this sense of urgency that I NEED to do all of the things that made me "me", before motherhood, right now.  There is a feeling that, if I don't engage in them right now, they will slip away.  I wonder do all moms feel like this?  Am I scared that I will never have these parts of myself again if I wait too long?

The thing is, while I am busy worrying about the things that I feel like I NEED to do, I am missing out on enjoying what I am actually doing.
I am raising a child.
I am teaching a human being how to live.
I am exploring life with my husband.

And I am doing these things RIGHT NOW, TODAY, THIS MINUTE.

So, when I am beating myself up about missing the rock climbing gym this week, I need to focus on what I have, and what I am doing.
I need to 'Be Here Now"... borrow a phrase from Baba Ram Das

All that said... I can't wait to get to the gym next week (or maybe tomorrow getting outside to boulder).

Monday, March 7, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 7: Good Style

Soooo, after many weeks of hitting the climbing gym twice a week, I seem to have hit a speed bump.  We made it in one, yes only one, day again this week.

On the plus side... I made it to the gym.  We went in on Wednesday and overall climbing was good.  Sent a project, and fell off of two boulder problems that I had recently sent.  Somedays that is just the way things go.

Talked to a friend about style.
Uhhh, no not fashion, but climbing in good style.  Many years ago I was frustrated watching some guy send one of my projects... in total cockroach style.  Total cockroach.  Kicking the wall.  Feet popping.  Desperate.  Flailing.  Groaning.  Grunting.  Huffing and puffing.  All aquiver.  It was painful to watch, but that dude finished my project and I was so pissed.  I ended up seeing him again years later rapping off a climb in the same manner... but that is another story.

Anyway, after watching this guy, I started thinking that good style is important.  I would rather work a problem in good style, than send it in absolutely horrible style.  Both John and I think that climbing in good style is part of what makes a good climber.  And it is not just about being strong; we have all seen the strong guy who butchers a really hard climb, but sends, and it just isn't enjoyable to watch.  Then there are the climbers who you stop and watch climb, regardless of the grade, just because their movement is beautiful.  When I describe their movement as beautiful, it has nothing to do with gender, men can be beautiful climbers.  Fluid.  Controlled.  Balanced.

So I guess the point is, that I would rather be the one who works the project in good style than send it like a cockroach.  And, yeah, I felt this way even when I was climbing at my peak.

'Good style' isn't only in related to rock climbing;  going through life in 'good style' is rather important.  We have all been witness to the people living their life in 'bad style'... the strong guy who picks on the geek, people doing a task 'half-assed' just to get it done poorly, the beautiful bride who doesn't look so beautiful because she is a total bridezilla, the boss who puts people down just because he can, or the parent who is annoyed by their child's quest for knowledge and zest for life.  I hope to live my life in good style; I am not the best at anything, and I don't live in a big, fancy house and drive an impressive car.  But, trying to live life the best that I can, for me, my family and those around me, is what is important to me... in good style with fluidity and balance.

Goal for next week: get in the gym twice.
Goal for the rest of this weekend: get out on our climbing wall, it is just warm enough.

PS.  Just after writing this, I did get out on our wall. 
Me on the woody.  The Kid in his homemade hat.  John taking the photo.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Travel Journal... Joshua Tree, California

Joshua Tree, California is one of my favorite places; not only for the rock climbing, but also for the desert beauty.  I haven't been there in three years... one year I was pregnant, last year the Kid was just beginning to walk and it would have been a challenge, and this year we just don't have the extra money for a road trip.
But, I try to write about our climbing trips so I remember some of the little details.  When I go back and read my journal, I realize how much I would have forgotten if I hadn't written it down...

February 11, 2007
8:58pm local time
Joshua Tree, Ca
Safari Motor Inn, room 105

Ahhhhh yes - returned to JT yesterday.  As I said in my last entry, we booked this trip during our last trip here.  We walked out to Slashface yesterday when we got into the park.  It is is pretty crazy highball, and we only had one pad.  John got on it, but it was dicey with only one pad.  The walk to the boulder was at least 20 minutes off the geology road, which would have been a long walk back if one of us had a busted up ankle.  I chickened out and didn't get on it.... I'll save that one for when we have like four pads.

We walked out to Ionic Strength today.  

When we started out for it, I asked John how far it was... 'like 20 minutes'.  We found it two hours later.  I was a little pissy because I didn't bring much water or food, and I was hungry and ended up getting really thirsty.  I got really pissy when I saw the climb.  I knew the grade, 5.12a, when we started out, but what I didn't know was that there aren't other more moderate climbs nearby.  I am not a 5.12 climber; yeah, I'll get on them and work it, but I had never finished a 12.  

Ionic Strength is a very intimidating climb.  Very Intimidating.  You climb the arete and the face is just blank from the ground, and then it gets vertical.  It isn't even an easy climb to start;  you have to walk out over this void with hands on one rock and feet on the other.  Throw up a heal and pull over a lip, then you start the climb.  Climb the arete, and the 'holds' (really potato chips) run out just as the climbs gets vertical.  Sh*t!

John turns to me, and tells me that I need to climb it first, since he may not be able to do it twice (like if he went first, then me, then him to clean the anchor, and the anchor situation was a whole other thing.)  So I climbed it, not clean by any means, parts were in good style, parts were total cockroach style, and I finished it.  The hardest climb I ever finished.  

Tired.  More tomorrow.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 6

Oh Blah.
I only made it into the rock climbing gym one day this week; Wednesday.
And, no, I also did not work out on the hang board at home.  I did not even Look at it.
The Kid's sitter at the gym couldn't make it on Friday, and that gave me an excuse not to go in a second day this week.
Oh Blah.  That is all I can say.  Even at the gym on Wednesday night, I felt Blah.  I stood there yawning between burns despite Kid Rock screaming through my iPod.  As far as my climbing... well, I am stronger than I was six months ago!  I have never been a strong boulderer, but it is that power that I have always needed to train.  It feels like I am in one of those times when one's climbing is in a holding pattern.  You know, you climb and then you just plateau for a bit, and then suddenly something magical happens and you climb harder.  The optimistic side of me says that I am on a plateau and soon I will be stronger.

All of that aside, going back to the climbing gym has been one of the very best things that I have done for our family.  I know that it has made me a better mom and wife, and engaging in something that I had before I was a mom, makes me a better 'me'.  Talking to people about something other than the Kid, or being a mom, is so freaking fabulous.  It is a reminder that I am still a real person, I am not just this person who is responsible for the care, education, and well-being of a child... I am also responsible for my own well-being.

John and I met at the rock climbing gym, and we have spent countless hours there training and hanging out with our friends.  Watching him climb and giving him sh*t when he blows a move is energizing for us.  Something that we took for granted, is now cherished during those four hours a week at the gym.

When we go to the gym, this wonderful girl comes in to watch the Kid.  She dates one of our friends and also works at the gym, in addition to going to school.  I can't thank her enough for her time with our son.  My heart is just ready to burst when I scan the gym to locate the Kid, and find him with a wrench in hand trying to put up holds.  There are days when he will sit and watch the route setter (who is actually partially responsible for John and me being together, but that is another story), and other days when the Kid is on the move for two solid hours.  It is the perfect situation for us as a family; John and I climb, and the Kid can check in with us whenever he needs to.  Some days he checks in a bunch, and other days I have to go find him... usually hanging out in the office with our friends.  I love it that he has the opportunity to spend time with adults (like early 20's) who aren't parents.

I guess the point is, that maybe it doesn't matter how strong I am right now.  What I am getting out of climbing is so much greater than sending the 'blue problem' in the boulder cave.

Oh, and one last comment.... when I said that I give John sh*t when he blows a move, well, that happens like once a month.    My husband is a really badass climber.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 5

So, obviously I am a rock climber, and I write about my efforts to reclaim my climbing skills after having a baby.  The thing is, this isn't just about rock climbing.  It is about remembering who you are after you have a child, and trying to retain some of 'you'.

After I had the Kid, I realized that almost everything about how I defined myself had changed.  Actually, it didn't just change or morph, but most of those defining attributes disappeared.  I went from knowing exactly who I was and what I was doing, to this person who just had no idea what to do.  "I" had just vanished.  It took a year after the Kid was born to begin to search out those things that had always made me "me".
One thing I really missed was rock climbing.  For me it was climbing, but for another mom (or dad) it could be anything physical: yoga, running, snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing.  The activity varies from person to person, but the feeling, the drive, the need is the same.  For five or six years before I got pregnant, one of my defining characteristics was "rock climber".  That is what I did, that is how I met my husband, that is how we spent our weekends, the gym we went to in order to train during the week and in the winter, the magazines we read, the road trips we planned, and the friends that we cherished.  Rock climbing was a huge, huge part of our lives individually and together.
For me, getting back to the rock climbing gym was a tremendous step towards remembering who I was B.K.  - Before Kid.  And to getting back some part of who I was.  I do believe that I am a better parent, when I am a more fulfilled adult.  Additionally, I think that the Kid will benefit from being with a mom who has her own interests and passions.  The endorphins that I get from physical activity (that is meaningful to me) last me a few days, and give me the energy to be a good mom.

That being said.... I know you are on the edge of your seat... how did I do this week?

NO HANG BOARD.  No, I didn't do it.  Wha wha....    I flaked out on it.
Wednesday and Friday: family gym nights.

So, I did make it in two nights (aka late afternoons for those of you who don't have kids, for us, it is the night when you go to sleep around 8:30pm).  The Kid hung out with his wonderful babysitter; she really is the best and I am more than grateful for her.  I am not sure that I am feeling any stronger, but I am there.... climbing... and maybe that is all that matters.

Well, it is all that matters UNTIL SPRING AND I GET ON REAL ROCK!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What's Cooking? Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup (with Quinoa)

Ahhhh yes another winner this weekend!  Again from the fabulous cook book: Quinoa 365.
I have to tell you that I really love this book.  Everything that I have made from it is fabulous.  This weekend I made the Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup.  It is vegetarian and can easily be vegan.  I will first give you the original recipe, then how I adapted it....

Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup
3 Tbsp Butter
3/4 cup chopped onion
One 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup diced roasted red peppers
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
2 tsp white or cane sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup quinoa flour
                                   1 cup half and half cream

Melt the butter is a medium saucepan on medium heat.  Saute the onion until tender - about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, red pepper, basil, sugar and salt.
Whisk the stock and flour together in a medium bowl.  Slowly stir the mixture into the saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then lower the temp for five minutes.
Remove from heat and puree the cooked mixture with a hand blender (or in small batched in a food processor or blender).
Return the soup to the lowest heat setting.  Stir in cream and adjust seasoning as needed.  Serve immediately.

My changes...
I sauteed the onions in olive oil (instead of the butter).
We also don't eat anything from a can (due to the BPA lining in all cans, except for Eden products), so I roasted the red peppers in my oven.
We used vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock.
I used Quinoa flakes, instead of the Quinoa flour, because that is what we had in the house.
I omitted the cream, it really didn't need it.  The soup was thick and tasty without the cow's milk.

I loved this soup!  Loved it.  So glad that I doubled the recipe.

Try it and enjoy.  Also check out the book.  It really is terrific.