Vacationing with Mouse

Mouse is a pretty traveled baby, with almost monthly trips to Chicago, Colorado, and NorCal, and a lot of flights in her tiny lifetime, so we weren't too worried about taking her to Maui.  Although, preemptively we looked up nanny services.  Because she can be vicious, and we weren't sure if we can swing her 24/7 for 10 days, all by ourselves.

She has exceeded our best expectations.  With the exception of the first night, she has been fantastic.  First night she woke up every 2 hours, and Mr Snork, terrified the hotel would throw us out, walked her on the beach, every couple hours all through the night.   After spending the next day delirious with no sleep,  Mr Snork relaxed about the possible hotel baby discrimination, Mouse realized he wasn't running to walk her on the beach at 2 am, and gave up.  Babies are crafty.

I was relieved to find out vacationing is almost the same, except there's a tiny creature who wants things.   Wanting things is her THING right now, and it's really the only thing she's good at, so we humor her, in hopes she soon develops other, less taxing hobbies.  (That, and we're whipped).   Sometimes we cave and stay home during happy hour and let her take a nap, and sometimes we pretend we're in charge and take her for a run in the stroller.  And she screams for 2 miles, to let us know she doesn't like it.   But, what travel partners are perfect?  At least, this one can be bought with crackers.   (For a few minutes at a time, so I really need to find a longer lasting alternative, or buy stock in cracker companies).  And she only snores a little.

Sunshade + blow up bathtub + baby UV suit =  HOURS of fun on the beach.   Mr Snork and I take turns snorkeling and diving for sea glass.   The beached parent invents games with rocks, monitors sand intake, build sand towers for Mouse to crumble, and bathes the Mouse in the ocean.  She loves it.  I haven't spotted obscene amounts of sand in her poop, so we must be doing OK.   Once we had to emergency evac - she rubbed her eyes as she played in the sand.  It was a little ugly, but she recovered after a shower and a nap.   For all the time we spend on the beach I'm surprised it only happened once.  All this playing makes her nap super hard.   This morning we spotted turtles from our balcony, and I dispatched Mr Snork to go snorkel with them, and make sure they aren't rabid or mean, or anything.  After he swam with them and cleared any human related psychoses they might have and they still stuck around, I went down and also had a turn.  Mouse slept through all that, but she's not much of a snorkeler anyway.  

 My mother emailed me and told me she had a dream of Mouse taking her first steps, in the sand.  Because she had a dream the night before Mouse was born, (that she would be born), we have taken the appropriate steps to let this dream happen.  We've walked her on the beach, and on the plush Hyatt lawns.  (We aren't even staying in Hyatt.  We go down there for the grass).  We've tried sunrises, and evenings, and live bands.  No dice.  As soon as we let go off her hands, she promptly nose dives for the ground.  Or sits back.  I'm thinking it was a dream glitch.  I have put hours into this, and all I have is a million pictures of Mouse butt scooting around on all fours, away from us and our aggressive need to teach her things.

The only thing Mouse consistently doesn't like (other than sitting in her carseat) is shopping.  She gets super antsy in the stores, dives for displays, chews tags, attacks things, and thrills Mr Snork every time we have to make a hasty exit.  No touristy loot for me.  I make do by looking at the windows, and making a mental note to Ebay things later.  I should make physical notes, but it would ruin Mr Snork's day each time.  This way, I'll reliably forget each thing once I'm three storefronts down.

We take her into Lahaina art galleries, and she pretends she's into art.  She's almost snobbish about it.        There were some silly paintings with a bear and rabbits, and the salesperson rushed over, telling us how perfect it would be for a nursery.   Mouse stared her down like, "Why would I want this ridiculous bear??  The place next door had a stunning bronze mermaid sculpture, so please leave my face, and take your nursery rabbits with you".     Like us, I'm pretty sure she's obsessed with Vladimir Kush,

and Fabian Perez.

Lucky for her, they're both available to stare at locally at Laguna Beach, because it might be a while before either one comes home with us.

Speaking of beautiful pictures - I tried, despite popular protests to take an ADORABLE picture of Mouse and Parrot named Pearl that hangs out in Lahaina, charges $30 per picture, and is an exquisite shade of greys and pinks.  As soon as Pearl, perched on my hand entered Mouse's line of sight, she started reaching for her with vigor indicative of plucking and other unfriendly behaviors.  Pearl freaked out and was replaced by a not-nearly-as-exciting dull green bird, who was a veteran and a trooper.  Our "Aloha from Maui" postcard choices consisted of 2 shots of Pearl scaling my arm in desperate escape attempts and 4 shots of Mouse glaring at the stoic green bird.  No $30 material in sight.   I guess 10 months is too early?  My plan is walk her past the birds daily, until the novelty wears off, and she can play nicely with them for a fraction of a second.  I have 6 days to accomplish this.  Mr Snork is hoping I fail and save him $30, so I'm double committed.

In Mouse's defense, she lets me take countless pictures of her, for free.  A lot of our time is spent doing just that, on the beach, on the resort grounds, under every plumeria tree or hibiscus bush I can spot, and in the wild.  Sometimes, Mr Snork mans the Mouse while I climb waterfalls and try to get artsy with the camera.   They climb waterfalls too, but prefer the outskirts of the waterfalls, with less slippery rock.    Mouse can also play with a pile of rocks by the river while we have lunch.  Sometimes, we all hang out in the shaved ice trailer by the road and eat the ice, watching the Sugar Cane Train go by.   Other times we hide, and watch her head bobbing in the pack and play, looking for us, when she's supposed to go to sleep.  Like right now.  


Running Sucks, I Rock.

I don't know how it is that sometimes, I can run 9 miles with giraffe, and it's glorious, and then other times, I'm flailing all over the beach boardwalk, for 10 miles - and it's the worst thing ever.  Seriously.  I was all over the place, slowing down, acting like I'm having cardiac arrest issues, trying to get water from sprinklers that unexpectedly shoot mist at your crotch area, stumbling around bars because I lost the beach trail.

There was an episode where I thought I would run along the water, gracefully, and be all, one with the waves.  Except it turned out running in the sand is hard, waves are faster than me, and sneaky.  Also, running in the sand sideways sucks, and, in general, I would make a terrible, slow crab that would get picked off on the first day of being crab.

At the end of the beach there was an old guy playing harmonica, and I didn't realize that I ran up behind him, determined to touch the rock wall like there was a prize for it, and scared the shit out of him.  He was knee deep in the water, being actually all - one with the waves, and I spoiled it.   I still had 2 more miles to suffer, so I didn't even apologize properly.  Sorry, old guy who almost lost his footing, and possibly harmonica.   You were very good before I got there.

I finished off my conquest of the Kaanapali Beach weaving the golf course, even after I realized they had games going.  I was still barefoot from the beach, I had tossed my shoes away  by the hotel (because I thought running back to that point was going to be 10 miles and was wrong), and I figured the somewhat likely chance of black out via golf ball was still better than the much likelier chance of gouging feet on asphalt.   My time:  2h, 6 minutes.  But I walked all of mile 4, at 18 minute pace (the sun had risen and I wasn't prepared for it) so, really, it's better than it looks.

Then I soaked in the ocean immediately after, and lazy jogged a mile next morning (yesterday) to make sure I wasn't totally broken.   And snorkeled, a lot, since I AM on vacation.   I'm OK, it turns out.  Amazing.

I was all but done with the running business, thinking I'd exchange it for snorkeling, until Mr Snork showed me a video of myself diving for sea glass.  It's not pretty.  It seems when I dive, I can never get either my ass or my flippers under water.  I look kind of like my hands are stuck in the sand, AND I'm getting attacked by a very mean fish.   Then I pop up, empty the mask, take a breath, and circle around looking for that piece I never did get, and it happens all over again.  That sea glass jewelry business idea will have to wait.

Today I made myself run the charted 5 miles, and it was totally fine.  All 53 minutes of it.  My fastest 5 miles ever.  I'm pleased.  Pleased that I made myself go, that Mr Snork took Mouse duty and cheered me on, that I possibly burned off the half pound of Nutella I ate earlier, and that I I kept a pretty consistent 10:xx pace  throughout.  I mean, I was dying in the end, and that cursed golf course is always in the way, and is not lit up at night, and my Ipod does not light up sufficiently to avoid sand traps, but whatever.   10:xx minute miles times 5?!  I should offer myself up for the Olympics.  They'd be crazy to pass all this up.

On a side note, why is there a swarm of people in the gym, looking longingly at the sunset/sunrise/ocean through the giant, sad glass window, every time I ran past the fancy Hyatt?    Come outside, people.  Leave the concrete.  Be one with nature.


The Second Wind DOES Exist.

It's not that I don't trust Giraffy, I just thought she was lying.

A little white lie to keep me going, kind of like, "Let's go run, it'll be great".   It's never really great.    But by then, I have shown up, in a sports bra and everything, and I may as well try and lose those 2 Butterfinger bars that were truly great with tea last night.

I thought it was part of her ploy to get me to realize that there IS, in fact running after the occasional 5k.   She suggested I train for a half marathon, after I turned green and died of jealousy at all the Tinkerbell Half fun had without me.

I ran 4 miles a few times, and then 5, and then 7, and then a magical thing happened.  I realized that after the first 3 miles (so, a 5k), all of a sudden, it truly gets easier.  It's counterintuitive, because my brain after 3 miles is ready for the shower, bed, cookies, whatever I've promised and delivered before.  But, somewhere something else clicks, and it's like your body gives up.  But in a good way -  "OK, I guess, if you insist, we can do this together.."  Breathing is easier, legs find a rythm, and all of a sudden you feel like you can do this, for a while, and you're going to be just fine.   It's almost a teeny bit enjoyable.  Not GREAT, mind you, but not bad.  In contrast to the recent 5k's I've ran without training or practice, where I felt like I might pass out right after the finish line banana.  Who knew you can keep going after all that?

As a built in bonus, once 3 miles is no longer your longest distance ever, it starts to look and feel really short.   Hard to believe that around this time last year, I'd hop off the treadmill at 1 mile and congratulate myself on having gone that far.

I hope someone as lazy as me reads this and gets inspired - from couch to 5K to ..?  Who knows.   Couple years ago I couldn't jog a quarter mile.    Giraffy and I started jalking - jog-walking couple years ago,  ending our 'workouts' with a beer.  She's now running crazy mileage each week, and training for a marathon, I'm training for a half.  My total miles for March were 68!    It crept up so slowly, and one day few weeks ago, we were jogging at a steady pace, and talking, and it occured to me, we were TALKING, and running, at the same time, for a while now.  I guess that moment was a little bit great.

This Saturday we ran 9 miles - to a little nature preserve near by.   Getting up at 5:30 am for me is super ugly.  But we got there, and the sun was rising, the birds were chirping, the morning fog was drifting over the streams as we crossed them.  It feels surreal to have a place like that in the middle of Orange County, block away from a shopping center, and commercial center.  I really wished I had brought my Nikon, but I'm guessing constant shaking for 2 hours is not good for it.  I was tired for a couple days afterwards and unreasonably hungry.  Like, burned 900 calories, but wanted to eat the entire supermarket.  But I felt great.

I still  don't like running.  The actual feet shuffling part of it, KILLS me the first 2-3 miles, every time.  You'd think it would get better, but it's like your body forgets and hopes you did too, and acts all shocked that you're doing it all over again.  But the larger picture - being in shape, getting places the way your body was meant to, being able to eat all of the desert aisle without much guilt or consequence, and the top of the world feeling at the end of each long run - those are a little bit great.    

Did I mention 9 whole miles??!  9 of them!  All made possible by the totally real second wind - that kicks in around mile 4 and for me, lasted until about mile 9.  That last one mile I really wanted nothing to do with, except that it was getting me home.  Average pace 11:40.  (How do I know this?)  Mr Snork got me a  Garmin Forunner.  Which, by the way is the other really cool thing about running - all the accessories.  A GPS watch.  The skirts.  The headbands.  The medals.   Its really a never ending pool of positive reinforcement possibilities.


Bikram Yoga Is a Terrible Way to Spend Your Time. - Review

It sucks.  There, I said it.  

These Groupons will be the death of me.  I thought it was such a good deal, and I know a couple people who seem to really like it, so I bought and signed up for the $25 for 25 sessions, dragging the running Giraffe with me.  Without the coupon, their pricing is outrageous, and I having gone, I don't see where the money goes - to heat up the room?   
--Scratch that, I looked up Bikram the Man talking about making "about 10 million a month".  So, I guess, I know where it goes.  Meanwhile, 24 Hour Fitness charges a tiny fraction of that, and offers yoga classes.  And babysitting.  And they are way nicer.  And don't smell like feet.   But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I went a few times, just to make sure, that I wasn't being a sissy.  I didn't want to be a quitter, and I didn't want to have $25 go to waste.   So, I guess I AM, in fact a quitter, but the $25 did not go to waste, I now KNOW what it's like, and it's not pretty.  

Out of the three instructors I had, two were pretty good, and one was not so good, and really, kinda mean.  It was during her long, tedious 90 minute reign that I had a chance to gather my thoughts about what really irks me about the her, Bikram, and the whole thing in general:

1.  Who is Bikram?  I did some rudimentary internet research, and it appears he is a liar who makes a lot of money.  And knows some yoga stuff.   I also think he is a tremendously successful businessman.  He is also the one personally certifying the teachers - and it appears that his medical background is next to non existant.  So, when the instructor started talking about how - the deeper you bend, the harder you squeeze - your various organs are getting compressed, and then decompressed, and all the fresh oxygenated blood is rushing to them, I was a little skeptical.  
 I feel like thousands of years of evolution have been at work to make sure that I don't squish my kidneys and liver every time I bend down to vacuum the sideboards.  I just don't think it's that easy to wring out your internal organs. I don't think pulling my knees to my chest will do it.  At some point, I started feeling like I'm really going to need this instructor to show me a medical degree if she's going to keep that up.  It all sounded a little too, "The earth is flat" to me.  

2.  Speaking of freshly oxygenating your organs:  I mentioned the room smells like feet.  Dirty, stinky feet, that haven't been washed in a long time.  You'd think they could spring for a steam cleaning more often, with all that money coming in.  150+ people in a room worth of income.  It's costs $28 to rent a carpet steamer at Vons.   The smell hits you pretty hard in the beginning, and, then, as you get adjusted to your new steamy, murky, hot surroundings, it mercifully dissipates.  Until towards the last 3rd of the class, when you start getting a little nauseated - it comes back, and it hits you pretty hard.  It occurred to me I really don't want this dirty foot oxygen anywhere near my organs.  Really, the very existence of oxygen, fresh or otherwise is questionable, since 150 people are using it, too, and the room is locked up.  

3.  You can't leave the room, or at least they try to make you stay.  I've seen people leave to puke.  I've seen people leave almost every class.  Except today, when a person got up to go and got told to sit back down.  The instructors vary on their water breaks, too - which, by the way is $3 per bottle if you didn't bring your own.  There is NO water fountain there.  Why would there be.    Some instructors say you can't have water except on scheduled breaks, period.  Some let you have it, but never 'during poses'.  You're almost always in a pose, unless it's a scheduled water break, so I don't understand how that works.   I sipped water whenever I felt like it.    

4.  I smell lawsuits coming.  I didn't sign any paperwork, and the studio makes less disclaimers than the gym yoga classes.  Like, none, really - except that if you're new, you shouldn't be in the front row.  There are so many people in the room, and particularly when they run the price reduction specials - you really don't know what physical shape people are in.   When you tell them they can't leave the room, can't have water, and it's OK to feel nauseated and lightheaded - you are paving your way to trouble.   That's your body telling you to knock off what you're doing.  It's been perfected over time, and pretty dependable, just like the location and access to your internal organs.     

5.  And finally - the inconsistencies.  The constant, "Push harder, harder, - your joints should hurt, it's ok to feel lightheaded, push on - press on, it's only 10 more seconds.."  And later, "yoga is not about depth.. it's about breathing, and stillness, and depth will come through them, so never go past your breath".
So, here's the thing, if you make someone squat, stretch, and try to push to have their forehead planted on the floor, between your feet - punctuated by sit ups, in a 110" room or hotter, and be all militant about it,  they are probably going past their breath.  Some are close to passing out.   Otherwise - why would you tell them to lay down and catch their breath after each try?  Hmm.  

5. "Breathe through your nose, because breathing through your mouth activates the fight or flight response" - And you get panicky and want to leave.   All 3 instructors talked about the importance of sticking it out.  About how you want to leave the whole time.  All the time.  Fight or flight.  "Your body wants to leave, and your mind is trying to help.  You don't really want to pee, your mind is playing tricks on you.  It's trying to help your body leave this room".    Umm.  I don't know about you, but I can't keep dedicating 90 minutes to an activity that my body hates so much, all the time, now and in the future, that it makes stuff up.   Fake peeing is nothing to joke about.  

 Having read about this Bikram guy, and his 40 Roll Royces collection, I have a feeling it's important to keep coming back to help him add to his collection.      

I think Bikram, in trying to marry the peacefulness and stillness of yoga to a very trendy, marketable, allegedly calorie burning, profitable fitness miracle has created a mess.  A trendy, stinky, very profitable mess - although I must admit, having sweated out 2 liters of water, and finally stepping out into actually fresh air - I did feel more alive and invigorated.   In part, because I escaped and live to tell the story.  

I read all sorts of estimates of what Bikram yoga session might burn - as low as 300, and as high as 1200 calories.  My feeling is it's in the lower numbers, and your body's natural response to artificial stimuli exaggerates your perception of the benefits.  Even at that, it doesn't last.  I do feel more bendy, and stretchy afterwards, but I never feel like I used up massive amounts of my energy the way other activities make me feel.   I know that in 90 minutes of running, or even lazy jogging I can wreck some calories. 
I have yet to leave the yoga studio and feel like I have earned an extra serving of cupcakes in my near future.

In short, even though I don't like it much either, I'll stick to running and 24Fitness yoga classes in regular old boring room temperature.