A few days ago Gabe walked by with a look of consternation on his face. He is a child who suffers many things in silence so I quickly asked him if everything was okay. He replied with the words that every mother dreads with every fiber of her being, "my head itches!"

Forcing myself to remain calm I casually told him to come over so I could have a look. I have read enough about the dreaded scourge of lice to know that you should check behind the ears and at the nape of the neck for the tell-tale signs of a parasite having set up its happy home on your child's head. So that is where I went. And, oh..horror of horrors, my heart failed me, the little shiny dots glistened in the sunlight. Just like you read about! I'm not going to lie, it was like an out of body experience. Scenes from my life flashed before my eyes.

You know, you wake up one day and it is just like any other day, life is happy, you have pleasant plans for lunch, all is well in your world. And then, in one moment, one cursory head-check, everything is changed forever. What you have actively feared and dreaded since you were a young child has actually come to pass. It has happened to you. What previously only happened to other pitiable people. It has happened to you. You are one of those poor saps who will now have to shuffle into the pharmacy wearing a cheap disguise, hoping nobody is around as you search for a suitably deadly pesticide to spray on your child's tender head. I still don't think it has sunk in that I am a survivor of such an experience.

If you don't know me and have not frequented my blog regularly, you may have missed that I am a tad OCD and am quite, shall we say ungracious towards other people when their children are sick. As in, "get your sick kid away from mine woman! I don't know what makes you think we were ever even friends!". Ok well not quite as bad as that, but close. Prior to events where I suspect a sick child may be in attendance, my children are carefully instructed to steer clear of said snotty child, and have been known to enter a house where we are being graciously hosted, with hand outstretched in warning before them, stridently proclaiming, "stay away from me with your cold!" I have already started a therapy fund for the damage I have inflicted on my children's collective psyche, you must give me credit for that at least.

My friends I must say, are incredibly kind and long-suffering to put up with my open hostility in the face of germs with such good grace. I don't like myself for being this way, and I really have tried very hard to chill a little more each year, it is just that along with the OCD issues, I am quite attached to sleep and my remaining shreds of sanity and such. The problem is that my kids rarely come down with stuff at the same time. They make it a 4 week long relay, at the end of which, their mother is a wild eyed shell of a woman. Also, I am unstable. I make no secret of this.

Anyway. so because I am such a persnickity cow over everyone else's children's germs I did get the instant miserably resigned sense that this was poetic justice, or karma, coming back to bite me in the...scalp, if you will. The mother of all gross infestations and afflictions. The louse. Had come upon my house.

Ironically my neighbour Tiffany called just at the moment of my discovery. My children had, as luck would have it, been at her house just the night before for her son's birthday party. I broke the news to her. She remained calm and friendly which further humbled me since I'm pretty sure the same would not have been true had the roles been reversed. (I believe she will heartily attest to this).

What surprised me most was that after the initial horror and flashbacks which were accompanied with the soundtrack from the shower scene in Psycho, an eerie calm came upon me. What I had feared so profoundly for so long was happening and I had to deal with it. Because I Am The Mommy. I could not lie on the floor helplessly convulsing with revulsion, because I have at least one child who is desperately afraid of bugs and I had to break it to her that the bugs were now a thriving community on her very head. When I did tell her, the inevitable twitching and the howling commenced, (I'm thinking my unusually calm and measured tones were freaking her out even more then the idea that she was at one with the bugs) but she too regained her composure surprisingly quickly.

Then I put in a call to my friend Kathleen. Many years ago I made this page for her as a tribute to her unflappable handling of any type of grossness. And oh ho ho, it was just such a funny joke. (She really does have a great sense of humour, obviously, as we remain friends).

But today the joke became my life-line. I knew I needed Nit-Girl and I needed her now! I called out to her but she did not hear me. Apparently even super-heroines can't hear you from Canada. So I called Nit-girl using the modern wonder of the telephone. She was not there and there were no indications as to when she would return. I turned to my long-time internet playgroup community. In 8+ years they have never failed me. They all heaped sympathy and commiseration upon me and equipped me with the knowledge I would need to commence my blitz until such a time as my husband could come home from work armed with the necessary weapons of war.

Then I put a call in to my friend Julie. She has recently been a long distance hand-holder to her sister who had endured this with her own children. Serendipitously, she was IMing said sister at the very moment of my call, and received valuable input to pass onto me. Julie is loyal, willing and calm in times of crisis. I gave her a shopping list of what I needed which she agreed to procure with great haste.

A short time later, Julie was on my doorstep, unloading the following:

  • 2 Large bottles of Mayonnaise
  • 1 package of Nit picking combs
  • 1 can of Kill All Hateful Things That May Possibly Be Lurking On Your Furniture Stuff
  • 6 shower caps in varying cheerful patterns
  • 1 Large box of chocolates. (I didn't order these, she just sensed the need.)

As she beat her hasty retreat Benjamin (9) walked into the kitchen shaking his head in wonder and said, "you know, Julie is incredible". Indeed, I say. Indeed. (I too am in denial regarding her imminent departure)

It was at this point that Kathleen called to talk me through what I was to do with the mayonnaise, shower caps, combs and chocolate. Nit Girl did not fail me.

I think I will save the exact method of eradication for a WFMW post as it is good stuff. The collective gathering of much been there done that wisdom and compassion went into the process. Suffice to say, we made for a strange looking and some would say,(louder then others) unpleasant smelling group, and I spent at least 13 straight hours that day nit-picking.

The one thing that can be comforting to the friends of an OCD with a lice infestation, is that you can be sure the threat will be contained. No fear that she will rest until it is. Our louse does not leave our house.

Happily only Gabe and blessedly, Gracie (aka Repunzel) to a much lesser extent, were afflicted. But we all took the same precautionary measures. And each individual living here has submitted themselves to hourly checks since the Horrifying Discovery.

Here is a photo of our sorry selves on Friday afternoon, just for my mother, who having instilled the lifelong phobia of lice in my young and impressionable mind, could do nothing but laugh hysterically when I regaled her with the vision of the Shower-cap Family.

Speaking of out of body experiences, I am finding it somewhat surreal to think that I am about to share with the world at large, a photo of myself slathered in mayonnaise, sans makeup, in a shower cap and my special hair dying robe. (This is where former boyfriends weep at the one that got away). You will also note that whilst the couch slipcovers were being boiled and sanitized, along with every other object in the house, the former glory of our sofas was revealed. I have no more secrets people. (Carolyn, I believe that is your blog I am reading there to ease my pain).

I apologize there should have been a warning before you were able to open this post but I'm not that high tech.

There is a possibility that I will be single after my husband sees this picture. I could also see him losing his job over it. I should not post when I'm all hopped up on chocolate. You always regret it in the morning. Here's my lousy family. Loving how Aaron and Benj are rallying and how the others are so expressive with their genuine emotions.

Murder most foul!

We went on a little trip to the Home Depot this evening. We had murder on our minds. Fifty-eight dollars and a very stinky yard later those mosquitoes had better be dead and going home to Satan or I am going to go on some sort of rampage. Although I suppose the activities of this evening could be considered a rampage so I'm not sure what I will do if it didn't work.

My kids cannot walk outside, even dripping in icky, scary DEET, without becoming immediately polka-dotted and as I may have mentioned before, I am sporting an attractive look too. Today I saw warnings of West Nile Disease on the news and how we should not be cavalier about the mosquitoes. After tonight, no-one can call us cavalier about the mosquitoes. Seriously people, I am from South Africa! I have taken my share of anti-malarial medicine (which is seriously the grossest stuff you can ingest) but I can never remember dealing with mosquitoes in such diabolical legions as we have this month. I am getting quite cross.

Is there life after the gym?

Recently I ended my gym membership because while it was helping me to be lean it was doing the same to my bank account with as Junie B. Jones would say, stupid smelly old fee increases. This presented some upheaval in my little life, because up until this point I had exercised at the gym while my kids were in the gym childcare. This worked so well particularly in the Summer. I had a break from my kids, they had a break from me, and I got my exercise in. I really enjoy running outside when weather permits, but that means doing it in the evening when Aaron is home to watch the kids, and frequently our evenings are jammed with other activities so it is not as consistent as it needs to be. The other thing that made me fear for my fitness was that my kids were a major motivator for me to get to the gym because they liked to go too, (and is there any greater motivator then a whining child? Particularly when you know that by giving in to the whining you will be rid of that child for an hour? )

So there I was, no gym, four young kids home alllll the live-long day, no daycare and wanting/needing to keep exercising, mostly to keep me from becoming homicidal.

Then my friend and neighbour, Tiffany gave me an idea brilliant in its simplicity. A now why didn't I think of that? idea. She walks on the outdoor track at the elementary school while her kids play on the school playground! I decided to copy her idea and to my delight it works so well! At first I was a worried about how boring running 24 laps on the track just to do 5K would be, until I realized that running on the treadmill is somewhat less scenic. (I actually find it makes my workouts go quite quickly to break it down into laps rather then miles and it reminds me of running races when I was in elementary school.)

These are some of the other things I love about it:

1. I can see the kids, the kids can see me, but they are far enough away (ie: not in the same small living room feeling the need to have full bodily contact with me at all times,) that they seem to realize that I am unavailable, particularly since I have my iPod on and pretend not to see them when their mouth is moving in a whiny way. I have also explained to them that the effort of trying to call back to them whilst running will cause mommy to spontaneously combust which would be messy. After a couple of incidents we all know our roles-(I run, I no talk. You play, you no talk to me) and things are going smoothly.

2. My kids are outside being active! It used to bother me that while I was getting all fit and healthy my kids were atrophying in a small unventilated room with scads of other snotty kids, watching TV. Sure they liked it, it suited them just fine but it really wasn't the best use of their time and I had some guilt. Now they are in fresh air, moving their muscles and re-claiming the brain-cells that were withering away from TV exposure, and they enjoy it even more.

3.This counts as a trip to the park/playground! Whohooo! Oh how virtuous you will feel as you walk home glazed in sweat, knowing that you have done your work-out and provided your kids with a healthy field trip. Multi-tasking is always a source of pride and joy, and to be honest, I find standing saying, "Oh wow that's so cool!" every time one of my kids climbs a jungle gym/swings on a monkey bar/slides down a slide, a tad monotonous at times. At the end of my run I do go over and spend some time with them so they can show me their newest tricks and (shhh..multi-tasking again) I also use the playground equipment to stretch, do step-up exercises and chin-ups etc. Playground equipment is awesome for working out (you can actually find workout routines that use only playground equipment. Like this one. )

4.My kids usually join me for a few laps. I love this! I love that they are seeing my commitment to exercise up close and personal and how sometimes it is fun but sometimes it is not so much fun and as yucky as it appears to be on some days, I do still keep going, survive to tell the tale and I think they can sense the extra triumph I feel on those days. I love that we are sharing an activity which is great for bonding. I also love that they are incorporating exercise into their lives in a natural, enjoyable way so young. Benjamin (my 9 year old) has been running a mile with me some days and his time is getting really good! Pretty soon he is going to leave me in the dust. Many studies have shown that kids tend to emulate their parents' attitude and habits toward fitness and so once again, I get to feel virtuous. Ah the glow.

5.We live 1/4 mile from the school which is the perfect distance for a warm-up and cool down. I am prone to skipping the warm-up and cool-down when I am alone (which makes me also prone to injuries) but since I have to walk beside my littlest on his bike, I am forced to slow down which is a good thing.

Some other things I do to involve my kids in my fitness efforts when we can't get outside are yoga DVD's and stuff like Tae Bo. Did you know that kids over age 9 can (and benefit from) lifting light weights? My kids love to show me how strong they are when I lift hand-weights and give them a quick turn. They also sometimes grab a bottle of water in each hand and join me in my routines, it distracts me from the suffering and makes me more prone to show off and do more. I hope this helps someone else out. And hey, thanks Tiffany!

So, what works for you?

Project: Space to be a kid

We inherited a very lovely, well landscaped backyard when we bought this house. It was our favourite thing about the house in fact. I grew up with an avid gardener as a mother and I hated yards that were nothing but lawns, I wanted magical little spaces for my children to play in as I had and so this was my dream come true. As our kids grew and had the unusual penchant for running around we realized it was not working out for us quite as well as I had hoped it would, and I started to fantasize about yards with nothing but big expanses of green running space. My first idea of moving was shot down by Aaron (kill-joy) so I had to move onto Plan B. Our property is not exactly large but I figured we could create at least a little more running space without sacrificing too much charm, and so we embarked upon this sweaty project.

We had several commitments this week so as I mentioned before, much of this work was done in the dark. I will now document the before and after of this undertaking in painstaking detail especially for my mother and anyone else who had to listen to all the obsessing regarding my poor tragic grass deprived children prior to the event.

The BEFORE view from our deck. In the foreground on the right is a big bed of weeds that we used to use as a vegetable patch. Believe it or not it was completely cleared of weeds just the week before and all that grew in while we waited for the sod to arrive. Stuff grows well in this swamp. (We moved the veges to the side of the house which wasn't being used for anything this season and they are doing quite well.)

Here was what the lawn comprised of before. As you can can tell there was very little space for the kids to play.

So we decided to incorporate the lilac bush, the bed to the right of the lilac bush and the previous vegetable garden into the lawn. Which involved cutting down the lilac bush (which actually had not been performing well in the last few years so it was not toooo painful. That branch right there is much heavier then it looks btw.

Gracie clears the sticks and branches away. She is so tough. Little hiked up skirt not withstanding.

Finny sort of helped too.

So here is the area sans lilac bush. You can get a better view of how little the lawn was. Really no space to play other then on the swingset.

Back in that area between the slide and the gazebo, we cleared out part of the flower beds so that the grass could expand into that area too. I transplanted some of those plants along the edge of the gazebo to cover an ugly exposed bit of the foundation. This pleased me. Once we had cleared out many big rocks, a brick border, all the random toys we found under the foilage and all manner of weeds, we transplanted some plants and "leveled" the area.

Then we laid grass over allllllll of that (and let me tell you, when I say "we laid grass" I mean Aaron laid grass as I stood by slapping mosquitoes and telling him that he missed a spot. "Laying grass is not nearly as straight forward as it sounds in this case as you can tell he was working with some rather curvy, uneven terrain. In short it was rather an ordeal. He also replaced some of the patches under the swingset that had been destroyed by little swinging feet. The replacement parts currently look a bit like a bad toupe, or a furry green animal pelt.

Then in a stroke of genius. Ie: D'uh why did we not do this from the beginning? We moved the swing-set to be along the back of the yard.

This was the back corner of the yard. I believe this shot was actually taken after some massive clearing out had already occurred. It was just a big mess of ornamental grasses, weeds, with some nice flowers. It was a jungle

After quite a bit more clearing

We split up that ornamental grass bush that was just sitting right in the middle of everything and put it against the fence which provides nice coverage there. Then we laid grass in the cleared jungle area. Here is Gracie testing it out. This is where the slide part of the swing-set would end up being.

This all created lots more space for this ( love their faces in this shot so you should click on this photo). Really, you should. Can't you just hear the soundtrack as they run in slow motion: BooooooRRRRRN FREEEEEEE. As free as the wind free as the GRAAAAASSSS grows......

And this. Of course.

On the other side of the garden, we cut a cute little grass path into the big flower bed in an area that was very prone to weeds, transplanted some of the plants there along the path and into other more needy areas and made that part of the bed into cute little shaded grassy area for reading or having a picnic. I may consider putting a sandbox here. But the grass is so lush and nice it would be sad to kill it right away. Here is one side of the area previously inhabited by another jungly type combination.

Here's the other side of the little alcove. Which used to look like this. And required lots doing what they are doing:

And after: Ahhhhh...Doesn't that look like a nice quiet place to chill? Sooo much nicer then having to pick through plants to weed that back patch. This whole area is sort of hidden away. I believe in having hidey holes for kids in gardens, I think they are so magical. I am thrilled that now we have a nice combination of some running space and some cloistered spots.

I am so excited. It was so satisfying to see what I had imagined in my head come to fruition. Our next challenge is to find a way to eradicate the swarms of mosquitoes which also find the new set-up tres attractive. I swear I felt my feet leave the ground today as they descended upon me. I fear that I am going to need a blood transfusion pretty soon.

Books and movies....

Here's a book recommendation:

I think it should be required reading for every woman regardless of their religious views. Campbell talks about how society has based many perceptions on the misinterpretation of Eve's role in the Fall. "Enlightening, empowering, exciting and inspiring! Two thumbs up"- Kirsty & Kirsty of Momedy

Here's a quote regarding the term "helpmeet" which I have noticed seems to be a topic of quite a bit of discussion on ye olde net.

"It seems that some of the original purpose and power of the term helpmeet has been lost through the ages. In today's vernacular, helpmeet would seem to indicate a person of lesser stature, a subject, a subordinate. Yet a careful examination of this venerable expression yields and altogether different meaning. "Even with or equal to" is the meaning attributed to it by the Oxford English Dictionary. That definition adds clarity and gives us a more correct image. The original text of Genesis 2:18 is even more enlightening. According to biblical scholar David Freedman, the Hebrew word translated there into English as "help" is ezer. This word is a combination of two roots, one meaning, "to rescue", "to save", and the other meaning "to be strong." Just as the roots merged into one word, so did their meanings. At first ezer meant "to save", and the other meaning "to be strong," but in time, says Freedman, ezer was always interpreted as 'to help', a mixture of both nuances. Ezer appears twenty-one times in the Old Testament.

In contrast k'enegdo, another Hebrew word used in Genesis 2:18 to describe Eve, appears only once. Freedman pointed out that in late rabbinical commentaries k'nenegdo means "equal" and stated that in his view "there is no basis for translating k'enegdo as 'fit' or 'appropriate,' as the traditional translators do when the describe the woman as a 'fit helper." He concluded, "When God creates Eve....., His intent is that she will be-unlike the animals-'a power (or strength) equal to him.'

Thus, it seems that through imprecise translation, our understanding now of the powerful words used originally to describe Eve's role have been diminished. As a result, our understanding of the intended role of Mother Eve has also been diminished. suppose we had all, male and female alike, been taught to understand Genesis 2:18 as something like the following: "It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a companion of strength and power who has a saving power and is equal with him".

Get the book. It's good stuff!

And here's a movie recommendation. We saw this yesterday with Julie (who happens to be a speech teacher) and I believe she would vouch for it. I loved it. And I usually stick to a strict diet of romantic comedies. Because as Aaron would say, we do not wish to be "upset or confused" during our leisure time.

Night-time gardening..

We are doing some re-landscaping in our backyard in order to give our darling offspring more space to play. Said off-spring had jolly well better appreciate it! It has been taking more time then we thought it would. Imagine that! Underestimating the time/ effort/expense of a home improvement project! It's hard, hard work, and when I say blood sweat and tears I am not exaggerating. OK maybe not tears yet, but the sweat and the blood were all there. In fact, as we spent the second evening in a row well past sunset, feeling like criminals as we floundered about, digging holes in the dark, the mosquitoes joined us for a bit of a feast. And what a party that was! I now look as if I have cystic acne. As I stood there scratching and cursing these infernal devils-pets, I imagined a scene like this unfolding in the area around my head.

Little Mosquito: Mom I am starving! Can we go eat at Chuck-E-Finny's tonight?

Mom Mosquito: No, you've had quite enough of Chuck-E-Finny lately not to mention McGabe's and Gracie-hut. We need to be eating closer to home.

Little Mosquito: But mom I don't like home food! I like Chuck E Finny and McGabe's. Their skin is so soft and easy to pierce and...

Mom Mosquito: And that is exactly why your proboscis is getting so dull lately and I have noticed my thorax starting to expand.

I've been watching Moprah and she is had this Anopheles on who had been getting so sluggish that she had come *this* close to being slapped by a BABY, three times! That was when she knew that something had to change. So she went through this huge mid life-cycle thing and then wrote this book about how she started partaking only from foreheads and she has never felt better. Apparently the forehead skin is very thin, very little fat, just good pure blood. The only thing is that she will not pierce any foreheads with make-up on them. Can you imagine? What is there left to eat?! I mean it's hard enough these days to find a forehead which does not reek of repellent! No wonder she is so thin. And then when you start cutting out babies, because really, they are just pure fat. Man! Everything good is bad for you.

Little Mosquito: Moooooooooooomeeeeeee I don't care about Moprah! I'm hungreeeeee when are we going to eat? Can we go to Gracie-Hut? Benj-ehana?

Mom Mosquito: Ok well here's the thing, and I do NOT want to hear even the tiniest buzz of whining about it. We are eating at Mother's tonight.

Little Mozzie: NOOOO not Mothers! Her skin is all tough and yucky and her blood tastes weird. Sort of vinegary and old.

MM: It will be good for you. It would not kill you to actually have to work a bit to pierce something once in a while. And it's a good safe meal. You know she has only killed like 2 comrades in her life and she is from Africa for heavens sake. You almost have to feel sorry for the woman. Ok come on, let's go.

LM: (high pitched whiny buzz).

MM: STOP THAT! You are going to get slapped! Oh! I smell our exit, hang on! Ok, there's the Mother Forehead. Now eat up fast so we can go home, it's a school night. Stay close, no wandering off, I don't want you getting stuck in one of those deep valleys, if she frowns you're a goner.

CM: Suck blech-yuck.

MM: I saw that young man, if I catch you spitting out your blood you will just go to bed hungry. No ankle snack later! There are mosquitoes in Europe who don't have anybody to suck. Don't be so ungrateful!

Sigh. I guess a mom has got to do what a mom has got to do. I should be more sympathetic to the plight of the Mommy mosquito. Yeah how about I work on that compassion the very same day that they eradicate malaria.

Photos to follow. No, not of my deformed face, I'm not quite that depraved yet. The backyard! Actually we are quite curious as to how it turned out ourselves. Things tend to look different in the light of day to how you imagine them when you are feeling around in the dark. I'm not entirely sure that I did not plant a row of Hostas upside down.

The closest thing I've got to Weight Loss Magic

Let's start with a pictorial then and now shall we?

My birthday: February 6, 2007 I was not in good shape physically or mentally. Neither was the decor in my dining room.

(I officially started my "Plan" on the 15th of February 2007.)

March 2007

April 8th 2007 Easter

May 13, 2007 Mothers Day. At goal weight or close to it (that skirt is size 0 and I had been wearing a size 12/14 on my birthday in February.) This was taken just under 3 months after I started. (My mother thought I looked horrifying but I was fairly thrilled.)

Feb 6, 2008 My birthday again. A little below goal weight.

And Feb 15, 2008 Exactly one year later. 40lbs lighter but still bad at the limbo.

About a year and a half ago I lost quite a bit of weight in a short time. About 40lbs in 3 months. I wasn't in the obese category to start with (although I certainly was overweight), so this endeavour took a very concerted effort.

Everyone asked me what I did. And here is the simple, disappointing truth. I ate very little and exercised very much. I do not recommend this approach because it is certainly not the healthiest method and it is all but impossible to maintain long term, thus the results are hard to maintain. It also requires that you become completely obsessed and obsessing about your body that much is not a good thing for anyone. However, having an all or nothing type personality, I knew that it would have to be this way or not at all. So I lost the weight quickly but as we all know, this is just the beginning of the struggle. There is the matter of keeping the fat at bay.

Surprisingly enough though (mostly to me), I have kept the weight off for more then a year. I have fluctuated very little from my goal weight (sometimes weighing a few lbs less). And let me tell you after that first 3 months, I began eating like a normal person. Actually probably more then a normal person. Lots of eating. Oh how I have been eating. However, I have also been keeping up regular exercise, (although not nearly as aggro as I was when I was losing the weight), and therein lies What Works For Me.

There is one type of exercise in particular that I attribute my magical maintenance metabolism to (and also in a large part to my initial weight loss). And so when people want a quick and magical fix (and most people do), this is the closest thing I have to offer. It is called Interval Training. Also known as High Intensity Interval Training and a few other impressive and dynamic sounding titles.

For a long time, personal trainers and fitness experts have been maintaining that keeping your heart rate in a steady aerobic (rather then anaerobic state) would help you to burn more fat then raising your heart rate to anaerobic levels.

I have always believed in my heart that this was not the best way to burn fat fast, it made no sense to me that working out harder would burn less fat, and so, when I began my Fanatical Fat Flinging process, I set out to prove this. I proved it fairly convincingly for myself, and lately I have noticed with some smugness, that the rest of science has caught up with my genius and has begun to validate me. (Google "Interval training for Fat Loss" sometime). I am still waiting for the Nobel Prize people to contact me. Hellooooooo?

So here, in a nutshell is how the "magic" works. The trick is to put yourself into an anaerobic state ( in other words you exercise at near maximum exertion) for short intense timed periods, and then to go back into aerobic breathing for recovery. This method of exercise, interval training, employs and develops both slow and fast twitch muscle. Slow twitch muscle (used for endurance) burns fat and fast twitch muscle (used for "sprint" type activities ) has an "endothermic effect" basically it heats things up in there, creating an "afterburn" which means it kicks your metabolism into high gear for long after you have stopped exercising. Way more so then when you keep your heart rate steady. Muscle takes fat and calories to maintain. And you know what that means? Yes! Right at this moment as I sit on my duff my muscles are merrily burning calories and munching on fat. I so love those twitchy little guys.

The other beauty of interval training is that it increases your cardiovascular endurance quite dramatically in a short amount of time which of course enhances your fitness and performance. Being able to exercise faster or for longer periods of time means even more calorie burn and muscle building. Not to mention increased fitness makes exercise and life in general more fun. See what a beautiful, beautiful thing this is?

My cardio of choice is running, but interval training can be incorporated into whatever exercise you prefer to do and at virtually any level of fitness you are currently at, if you are healthy and medically cleared to exercise. (Check the website I post below for more guidelines)

Here is my typical personal HiIT program where I range from 10 min miles on the treadmill as warm-up ( for 5 minutes) and for recovery (for 1 min) between sprints, and work by 1 minute increments up to running 7 minute miles (which for me is pretty close to all out exertion).

So this is how it would look (picture me all sweaty and red and unattractive on a treadmill):

When I start would run 5mins at 6.0mph, then 1 minute at 6.4, 1 minute at 6.7, 1 minute at 7.0 and....

back to 6.0 mph for 1 minute to rest and get my heart-rate down.

(Don't be afraid to go down to whatever speed it takes to get your breath back so that you can be strong for the next cycle). Getting your heart rate down again is crucial to the success of this method! The secret lies in the peaks and valleys.

So after 1 min at 6.0 or whatever it takes to recover, I'm back up to to 6.4.,6.7, 7.0 and for this cycle I add on another minute of running at 7.5 then I go back down to 6.0 for recovery for 1 minute...

Back to 6.4, 6.7. 7.0. 7.5 and add 8.0 for one minute

Back to 6.0 for recovery

Then right up to 7.0. 7.5. 8.0 and 8.5mph each for one minute

Rest at 5.7

I could do the last sequence one more time if I am not feeling kaput, but generally I am. Which is how it should be. You are going ALL OUT during these sprints and should feel pretty spent at the end of an interval training session (but not so spent that you don't recover within a few minutes of stopping). It's not as hard as it sounds though because it's for a short time and you have those regular breaks.

When I am very fit I will do another cycle and push it up to a 6.30 min mile (9.0mph) for a minute at the end.

Surprisingly you will find that getting to 7.0mph (or your equivalent exertion) during the first cycle is much harder then getting to 7.5mph in the second. Your body really adapts quickly.

Yet another benefit of this type of training is that it makes your workouts go very, very quickly and does not leave room for boredom (as you are too firmly focused on survival). Kidding (kind of). Including intervals in your training program is an awesome way to mix things up, particularly on a treadmill. It also takes less time then my other workouts.

I try to do interval training about 2x a week. I also very much believe in weight/resistance training (I try for 3x a week), you will thank yourself in your old age for resistance training, so please do! I also do long slow runs, moderate length and speed runs and always have at least one rest day. I aim to exercise 5-6 times a week although I have to say that it is probably more of the exception of the rule that I accomplish that. But even when I have had longer periods off due to sickness or other circumstances, my fast/slow twitch muscle buddies have picked up the slack. Oh the punniness!

Here is a great site for building your own interval training routine.

As for the eating? When I was trying to lose I ate a lot of protein and fiber, stayed away from anything in the white flour/sugar family as much as possible and drank a lot of water. Kashi Go Lean rolls were my friends and Kashi High Fiber/High Protein continues to be my breakfast of choice. (I try to be very full after breakfast, but with the kind of food that lets me exercise about 30 mins later. ) I was super strict about the sugar, didn't eat late, all the usual suspects of weight loss, nothing new here folks. I chewed a lot of gum and thought about every single thing I put into my mouth because of that.

So basically there is no magic, it takes hard work, but you knew that. This method simply makes the likelihood of your hard work being successful very high.

*Here's my disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and you embark upon anything based on any of these suggestions at your own risk. It's what works for me so don't try to sue me if you don't lose 40lbs in 3 months or if you drop dead trying to (please be careful, it would be so sad if you dropped dead). Actually you could try to sue me, because Ha, that would be so funny! The only thing I have to lose is debt.

Good luck! For more great tips or to share your own, click on the WFMW link above.

The Daddy! The Daddy! We love the Daddy!

We had a good Fathers Day yesterday. We gave Dad breakfast in bed and let him have a long nap. Is there any gift greater then the gift of sleep? No there is not.

We also gave him some presents!

I borrowed an idea from my super creative and talented friend Jessica and we put together this groovy t-shirt for him with this on the back (It spells out Daddy if you were wondering ;) My kids hate having photos taken so it shows their level of devotion to him.

Here are some of the outtakes

We also put together a little scrapbook of some of the things we love about him from A-Z. They were all so cute but here are a few of my favourites (U-gives me Uppies)

O-Outstanding Owie Fixer

He really is such a perfect daddy, we are all so blessed to have him around.

Who's your Daddy?

Dad's first "real" smile for the camera. He worked hard on that and we were so proud

Ode to my dad on Fathers Day
(in honour of his birthday earlier this week too)

Dad, Dad
I call you when I'm sad
(brilliant start eh?)
And also when I'm glad
(wait..the poetic genius is warming up)
You're awesome and you're rad.

You are unmoved by fads
Comfortable in your undecided pants
And hot pink golf shirt (that once belonged to me)
Also those khaki-ish pants, the seat of which you patched
with the floral material.
An act which
Made me
Want to die

No matter!
When I visited last
I noted that you were quite dapper
And your attire
did not once
Make me
feel dire

Dad, dad, dad
Does not glaze over
When I get to rambling about running
Although it is possible that he does
and I can't see
But! His voice
remains fairly animated
at least he does not resort to tuneless humming

Speaking of running
That guy
Is no slouch
No matter how much time he claims
that he spent on the couch
When we last ran
He pulled out the stops
That really was quite sneaky dear Pops

He did not seem to break a sweat
As I huffed and puffed
On the likelihood of such
One would not have bet
But that is typical of him
Expect the unexpected
His lack of predictability
Must be respected

Speaking more of running
'Twas my dad who taught me how
At his side
I learned
The art of the wuffle
Hybrid of
A walk and a shuffle

He did not fear shame
though his friends would deride
He remained loyally at my side
Apart from that time
I broke into a sprint with about 8km's to go
so that I would qualify
Which, as you know
Worked out
Didn't it.

Humble to the point of being a liar
(mom told me that you claimed not to be clever-
in church nogal)
Does clever rhyme with liar
Not so much
Moving along

Voice of reason
No matter the season
Of year or life
He copes well with strife

Terrorized boyfriends like no other
Did not have to say a word
With just one glinty stare
All that needed to be said
Was heard

Trusted my instincts
When I found my spouse
15 minutes after
I left his house

Even when I called the happy news to impart
From none other then...WalMart
He gave his blessing
At 3am (his time)
Did not seem to mind that with his mind
I was messing

Dad you are kind
And you are witty
Very sweet
And fairly pretty

Takes us on outings
Gives us sweets
Plays games
Brings treats

You taught me to be
An original, have integrity
and never say... plagiarise
From a well known
(or at all really
Not even just barely)
And even if I did plagiarise
I'm sure it would be
Because I did not realise

That all said
I hope you know all that you've read
Has been written
When I should be in bed
So that should
Some things

Dad, to coin a phrase from the classics
(As you would say)
I will you the ultimate tribute pay
And quote from the song sang to Aaron today:
I'm very glad
That you're my dad
And I know you
Love me

Happy FathersBirthMonth-Day :)
Lots of love

Chariots of Fire re-enactment

Camp tales

I went up to Girls Camp for a couple of days earlier this week. Here are a couple of photos of the location

Those poor, sweet girls eh?!

As we were lying, sunning ourself on the dock they were wishing themselves home. I asked them what they could possibly be doing at home that was better then this. Apparently technology=happiness to them. I informed them that if I were home I would be doing dishes or laundry(scrub the floors Cinderelly!) so this was pretty much paradise.
Ah how perspectives change in just a few short years! This is the type of thing that makes me feel my age when I am around them. Other then that though, I do feel that the calling keeps me young. When it is not giving me ulcers. But young people get ulcers too, right? Despite the gorgeous surroundings and fun activities lined up, and loving and capable leaders all around, it was quite heart-wrenching to leave them there. They have so quickly all become my babies. It's hard to leave 16 babies at one time! There were tales of mice in one of the cabins, I was tempted to bundle everyone up and flee immediately just on the strength of that. I fought valiantly on their behalf and an exterminator was called in though. Mostly, I worry about them being homesick or lonely, I remember those feelings too well. Being a teenager is tough stuff man! Being the mom of a teenager (even the pretend, part time mom) is tough stuff man!

The theme was Mission Possible. I was Agent K. Here I am with Agent J incognito

I'm thinking it's a look.

New Summer Stand-by: Lemonade Cookies

A couple of weeks ago my friend Peggy made these cookies for an event. She kindly shared the recipe with me and since then I have made them at least 4 times for the plethora of end of year events. Happily they have been very well received by all audiences. They are perfect for Summer. Dangerously light and fluffy, with just the right amount of tang and sweetness. They are also very easy to make which is a non-negotiable requirement in my kitchen.

Yesterday, I remembered to take some photos before the feeding frenzy commenced, and so I thought I would share their lemony loveliness with you. Enjoy!

Lemonade Cookies

1 C butter or margarine
1 C sugar
2 eggs
3 C flour
1 tsp soda
1 - 6 oz. can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, beat till fluffy. Sift the flour and soda together. Add alternately to the creamed mixture with 1/2 C of the lemonade concentrate. Drop by teaspoon 2 inches apart on cookie sheet sprayed with baking spray (or parchment paper). Bake at 375 for 8 minutes (or until lightly browned around the edges.) Brush hot cookies with remaining lemonade concentrate (I am pretty liberal with this) ; sprinkle immediately with sugar.

Remove cookies from cookie sheet to a cooling rack. Makes about 3 dozen

Mom...I'm Bored

You know when you have a slacker day? You can't think of anything pressing, no, nothing important at all to do, so you fritter the day away doing all sorts of frivolous things like plucking your eyebrows and shaving both legs in the shower.

Then the next day you check your planner and you realize that you have at least 5 seriously pressing projects and at least 15 more important ones clamoring, and you wonder what the heck you were thinking by taking the previous day off so rashly?

I think it's the same dealio with kids sometimes. There they are, healthy, free, and surrounded by toys, but there are those times that they cannot think of anything to dooooooo.

I actually sympathise with this dilemma as I illustrated above, but clearly I'm not that much better at coming up with constructive ideas on the fly, particularly when someone is whining at me when I am on the phone and loading the dishwasher and washing machine simultaneously.

It is only when I do the semi-monthly hysterical purging of their rooms and playroom that I see all the various toys and realize all the fun that is to be had in this unassuming looking home. It is also entirely probable that any suggestion I may make will be met with, "noooo I don't want to do that" as if my suggestion of playing with play-dough was tantamount to suggesting they try a firewalk.

This is generally where I snap and shriek a list of chores for them to do whereupon they cry for an hour or two. It's great.

I feel there must be a better way. And I have decided this is it:

Have a list of options available before the need arises! Oh how very very creative and innovative I am, no? I know how obvious this is people, but it has taken me a few million Summers to put it all together, like so.

So the photo above is the circus that is currently on the cabinet where my plethora of charts and diagrams live. Aka the Cabinet Circus- Summer Edition. But there is method to the colourful madness.

Let's look a little closer at my fantastic handiwork shall we?
First off here are the goals we discussed at Family Home Evening. When all else fails, work on those man!

We brainstormed and came up with things a young healthy child living in this house may do outside on a fine Summers day.

Then we came up with things a wee lad or lass may want to do inside on a not so fine Summers day.

Now this is the important part. We took all the activities which require involvement (ie transportation and constant supervision) on the part of the mommy. They have their own envelope. They can draw suggestions from this envelope, at a suitable time for the mommy. My goal is to have at least one drawing a day from this envelope. Hopefully more then that.

The main idea is that it will cut down on the begging to go to the park/zoo/pool which are quite uncannily timed to occur at just the moment I am at my most frantically busy, leading me to veto or delay said suggestion, and then endure listening to the ensuing whining and gnashing of teeth.

This method was designed to manage everyone's expectations, and give me control over when the suggestions occur, thus enabling me to say "no" or "maybe later" much less. Which is good. Because kids hate those two phrases with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. The plan is that I too will be focused, knowing that I have a scheduled "Fun with Mom" drawing coming up and should get my work done so I can play.

I made the lists we came up with on the computer, printed them out and laminated because you know how I love me some lamination ( lamination also makes them easy to pull out and replace and helps them to last more then a day).

I put each category in a different colour so that they can be put back into the right folders more easily. You can kind of get the idea in this blurry photo.

I suppose this edition would more accurately be known as "Hope it works for me Wednesday". I have thought about it a lot though so I am fairly hopeful that it will. I find anything with lamination makes people happier.

What does not work for me? Working out from 10-11pm. It leads to blogging at 2:30am. Just thought I would pass that on too.

For more Mom I'm bored solutions. Click on the WFMW icon above and please share anything you have with the rest of us too!