Horrible Thigh Discoveries, Cut Backs and Pride

We’re two months into our family’s Paris Accord. In June, my husband and I pledged to reduce our family’s carbon footprint by putting more kilometers on our bikes, fewer on our car and changing our consumption habits. Those were some pretty big promises, so let’s see how we’re doing.

On the bike odometer front everything is fantastic. When we initially purchased our Nihola Family bike, given how late in the season it arrived, we thought that 500 kilometers was an ambitious number. Just before I sat down to pen this post, the odometer read 633, based on our current usage of our cargo trike, we estimate that we’ll hit 1500 kilometers before the snow flies. Mini-Tex has actually started referring to the Nihola as a “car” because he’s in it so often, whereas our actual car sits ignored on our driveway. Funny enough, Mini-Tex recognizes the other cars on the road as cars though too.

As a mode of transportation, I LOVE the Nihola. For me, being able to lean over the handlebars and check in with Mini-Tex while riding is worth the extra money we paid over getting a cheaper cargo attachment for the back of the bike. The front holds at least a week’s worth of groceries in addition to our son. My personal favourite moment was when Tex arrived home with the bike packed to the gills with food. “Don’t worry” he assured me “I belted in the milk”. Tex had used the extra seat and Y-belt attachment to secure the 4 litre jug so it wouldn’t bounce around, hitting our son during the ride home.

There is one drawback to all the biking we’ve been doing. I was settling myself in for a relaxing hot bath when I looked down and realized there was more of me. I wasn’t pregnant, I hadn’t gained weight, but my thighs were HUUUUUUGE. “Tex!” I called from the bathtub, my voice panicked. My husband burst into the bathroom, shoe in hand, poised to obliterate the offending spider that had caused my scream. Upon a negative inspection for any insects he looked at me questioningly. “Are my thighs bigger?” I asked hoping for a no or at least a lie. “Ummmm, you could use a lower gear” my husband kindly suggested. So if you hear a giant rip tearing through cyberspace, don’t worry, your computer is fine, it’s just the sound of my shorts giving way. Aside from that, I’m enjoying our new lifestyle.

Onto the next bike; Tex pledged to ride 400 kilometers. This is the part of our accord that makes my heart swell with pride. As an avid pedestrian and experienced cyclist myself, I knew eschewing the car for other modes of transportation would be a breeze, but for my “man-van” loving husband, the dramatic change in lifestyle could be viewed as an inconvenient hurdle added to both sides of his long work day. True to his nature, when Tex decides to commit to an idea, he jumps in with both feet. The last I checked, his odometer read 196 kilometers, well on the way to 400 before the end of October, and this is in addition to the 30 kilometers my husband put on my bike, riding back and forth to work while he was servicing his ride. At his job, he’s being called “The New Alex”, a former coworker who rode through rain, sleet and snow. Tex loves the recognition and the extra workout as he’s dropped ten pounds in a month. In summary, the biking aspect of our agreement is going swimmingly… er bikingly?

Cutting down our usage of the van was another section of the accord that I anticipated being a challenge for Tex. Often for our jobs, especially Tex’s, we are required to make the 700 kilometer round trip commute from our town in the middle of nowhere, to the nearest metropolis. With a goal of driving only 15,000 kilometers in a year, those types of trips add up fast. Tex quickly recognized this and started investigating opportunities to carpool. In addition to already carpooling to the metropolis twice, Tex took the bus when he was in the big city. His enthusiasm and willingness to search for alternatives means of transportation have impressed me immensely and made my heart swell with pride. It makes me feel hopeful for what our family will accomplish in the coming months and hopefully years.

In terms of our consumption of goods and foods, publishing the post “Trump is Not Your Tragedy: Make Your Own Paris Accord”, expressed my thoughts and feelings about the environment and my personal goals to my extended family. It’s opened up discussions and I feel like my choices are better understood and respected, whereas before my family might have brushed them off as “Unwashed’s silly hippie-isms”.

Personally, I’ve been searching for ways to use more local products and to cut down on packaged goods. Unfortunately most of our packaged food comes from Mini-Tex’s snacks. So I’ve been baking up a storm, and then watching as Mini-Tex crumbles the healthy mini muffins in his toddler fist, throws the crumbs on the floor and then asks earnestly for “fish, fish”. As I have no interest in watching my son starve to death or return to exclusively breastfeeding (an option he would love), so I cave and hand him some of Pepperidge Farm’s best.

We still have a number of changes on our radar. Tex discovered a local flour mill, so we’ll be biking there in the near future. I heard through the grape vine that a farmer around here has local eggs so I’ll be following that trail as well. Tex is also contemplating applying for an elk tag, which would provide us with lots of local red meat that has a significantly lower carbon footprint than cattle because the animals exist naturally in the wild.

So that’s where we are. Do any of those points inspire ideas in your family? Are you enjoying biking or walking in this beautiful summer weather? Do you have any green suggestions for us?

How To Differentiate Between Drunken University Students and Mothers

It’s been noted that new parents bare a startling resemblance to inebriated undergrads, the following is a handy guide which characterizes various behaviours to help tell if you are dealing with a tipsy twenty-something or a newly minted parent.

  1. Late nights

Drunken undergrads are known for staying up late, stumbling around and then passing out wherever looks softest. Mothers also are known to host all night parties. This behavior cannot be used to differentiate the two

 

  1. Little Sleep Followed By Excessive Napping

After these all night parties both new parents and fratboys have been known to take naps during the day. Once again, daytime siestas cannot be used as a way to tell between a new parent and a fratboy.

  1. An Excess Of Skin

If you find yourself surrounded by cleavage and boobs there are one of two places you might be; a sorority party or a breastfeeding moms group. Tread carefully, previously the presence of sequins ruled out the latter but since the emergence of stylish nursing tops, this is no longer a reliable way to distinguish between the two populations.

  1. Forgetting Items Everywhere

Misplacing one’s phone and identification is a time honored tradition of both intoxicated students and new moms. If the phone is lying next to a squeaky toy, it is most likely a new parent encounter but there is a trend of students owning dogs so this is not a definitive qualifier.

  1. Traveling In Groups While Engaging In The Same Activity

Undergrads are notorious for running wild in packs; jogging, playing sports or hollering in public places. Likewise, mothers are often found working out in parks as a group or practicing yoga, they have also been known to yell in commercial centers, in particular grocery stores. Thus unless one is standing next to the egg section, it’s questionable whether it is a parent or student meeting.

As evidenced by the lists of characteristics above, it’s almost impossible to tell a drunken undergrad from a new mother. The only truly reliable way to tell if the person sleeping at the park with their breasts showing with no identification or phone, surrounded by other similarly attired people, is whether or not they have a baby.

The Art of Parenting

I am the first of my friends to replicate myself. Being in this coveted and feces covered position has gifted me with the high task of bestowing advice and my own carefully gathered nuggets of wisdom to said people. The most commonly posed question is; what is being a Mom like? My response is that ultimately parenting is a mix of three feelings; uncertainty, guilt and a sense of inadequacy.

Uncertainty

You have never done this before, so you are filled with questions. How often should a baby eat? Which way does the diaper go on? I’m covered in derivatives of breastmilk- obviously the other way. Am I reading to him enough? When do I start reading to him? Why isn’t my baby looking at the book? Everyone talks about this being SO HARD, is it because I’m supposed to learn Sanskrit and teach it to my infant?

Guilt

When you can’t answer the questions, you are filled with guilt. This is your little person, who has half of your genes, for whom you are the entire world. They depend entirely on you and you can’t even figure out how many books to read them a day. All you know is thirteen isn’t the answer because the one day you read over a dozen books, your baby screamed for two hours after being so thoroughly overstimulated. Also all the other Moms are learning sign language not Sanskrit. Duh. How is Sanskrit supposed to help the baby communicate earlier and develop their brain so they can get into a good university and be successful at life? Your baby is failing already because of your lack of knowledge. Also the library book you took out on Sanskrit and didn’t read is two months overdue.

A Sense of Inadequacy

All of that guilt snowballs together to create a roaring sense of inadequacy which grabs hold and shakes you awake at night, leading you to conclude that you are most definitely not up to this task. You’re not sure who is up to the feeding, changing, playing, Sanskrit Sign Language teaching task but it’s certainly not you.

The Take Home Message

So parenting is soldiering on, in that face of those three basic emotions. You hug and kiss your baby knowing full well that someone else could do a far better job. Luckily they don’t let babies pick who they go home with after their born, so your small person is stuck with you.