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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

February Blahs

P1: I met with the volunteer coordinator from Circle of Care yesterday and it looks like I'll be starting as a "phone pal" in the next few weeks. I am looking forward to this, although seniors are not my target population for my counselling practice, I have always enjoyed working with them. Unfortunately, the sitter I booked to come watch Little A while I had this meeting, cancelled at the last minute so I had to bring Little A with me. Lucky for me, the woman was amazingly accomodating and understanding (she even let me change a stinky diaper on the floor of her office!), and loves babies AND Little A was wonderful. In fact, Little A has been an absolute ray of sunshine the past few days and has finally started crawling!!

P2: After a rough start to the week on Monday, the girls have been great the last couple mornings. This morning I brought Little A down for her morning nursing but she was more interested in Big A. So Big A started to tickle her and Little A started laughing hysterically. I have to admit, there is nothing cuter than hearing a baby laugh and it warms my heart to see how much the girls adore each other. I hope it continues as they get older.

One of the toughest things about being a parent is maintaining control when you need to and letting go of it when appropriate. I have difficulty with both. Big A used to manipulate me constantly because I was always trying to negotiate with her. It took until a few months ago for me to learn how to stand my ground and not get walked all over by a toddler/preschooler. Also, my obsessive perfectionism makes it difficult for me to let go of control, and this is becoming increasingly an issue as Big A tries more and more to establish independence. She wants to try and do everything herself and in her own way. I have had to learn to bite my tongue when she wants to leave the house with her hair looking like a rats-nest or wear some strange outfit. Right now I'm fighting the urge to rearrange the wall art she insisted on hanging in her room herself the other night. Already she had a huge tree mural, flowers, butterflies and various animals which I have carefully hung all over the walls but she decided she wanted more and she wanted to apply these ones herself. So we went to the store and instead of the girly dragon and princess set I thought would match well with the rest, she wanted the one with trains, trucks and an airplane. I guess I should be pleased that she is rejecting gender stereotypes. Anyways, she haphazardly stuck them up in a big bunch in a corner of her room and it doesn't look great. I am dying to go in and peel them off and re-stick them the way I want them. We'll see if I can resist...

I'm editing this to say I gave in and rearranged the stickers...just a tad. They look much better now. If Big A notices, which I doubt she will, I'm going to blame it on Maria, who comes every Wednesday to clean our house. I know, I am a terrible, terrible mother!

F1: I did my usual treadmill workout this morning but I'm pretty exhausted. Adam, my sweet husband, caught a cold, probably from one of our runny-nosed girls, and kept both himself and me awake all night. I have hit a wall in terms of improving my cardio fitness and strength, because of how rarely I seem to get enough sleep these days. I'm way above where I was right after Little A was born, but not even close to where I was before I got pregnant with her. It was a tough pregnancy - I was very tired and had sciatica, so although I worked out almost every day, the workouts got progressively lower in intensity until I was basically just waddling on the treadmill at about 3mph, with no incline for the last few weeks. Then, because it was another c-section delivery, I had to take 6 weeks off from working out entirely. My biggest frustration is my inability to increase the number of chin ups I can do (3 at a time). I'm pretty strong for my size, but just seem to suck at this. Again, more sleep would help.

A little fitness tip for all you busy parents looking to get stronger is: DO PUSH-PULL SUPERSETS!!! This means alternating one set working one muscle group (i.e. triceps) with a set from the opposing muscle group (i.e. biceps). This allows you to cut out rest time because the muscle you just worked is automatically resting while you are working the opposing muscle group. It is the fastest way to workout and very efficient as you are keeping your heart rate up by constantly working and moving from one exercise to another very quickly. I used to do split sets 5-6 days a week before I had kids (in the days when I spent 2+ hours at the gym every day) and would do negatives, pyramids, compounds, etc., but I just don't have time for any of that anymore. Now it's 2 strength training workouts at home each week, about 20 minutes long, plus my 40 minute workout at the gym before my spinning class on Sundays.

F2: It's cold and snowy here today so I'm making one of my favorite comfort food dishes to warm us up: Caribbean style curried chicken and cabbage. Personally, I think cabbage is an amazing superfood. Not only is it a potent anti-carcinogenic, but it is unbelievably cheap and versatile. One head of cabbage is usually less than $2 (sometimes less than $1!) and seems to double in volume once you chop it or shred it up. Another way to save a buck in the kitchen is to switch from chicken breasts to thighs or ground chicken or turkey. Thighs and ground poultry have more fat and cals then breasts, but they also have more iron, lots more flavour, and are more difficult to dry out. In any case, feel free to use breasts in any of my recipes if you prefer them. For a vegetarian option, replace meat with black eyed peas. I've made it that way before and it's good too.

Caribbean Chicken and Cabbage Curry

1 yellow onion, diced
2 tbls fresh ginger, minced or diced
2-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 heaping tbls good quality curry powder
1/2 tsp ground allspice
Scotchbonnet Caribbean style hot sauce (or any hot sauce, or omit if you don't like heat)
1 lb ground chicken (or turkey, or boneless/skinless thighs or breasts)
1 can light coconut milk
1/2 head green cabbage, finely chopped

Sautee onion, ginger garlic in vinegar, until onion is softened. Add spices and hot sauce, if using, and cook another minute or two. Add chicken and stir with spices until almost cooked through. Add coconut milk and continue cooking until chicken is fully cooked. Add cabbage and simmer 15-20 minutes. Serve over brown rice.