Close the book?

Currently I’m about half way through the book, “Last Night in Twisted River” by John Irving. I chose it simply from browsing through Chapters, noticing it and reading the jacket. From that, the book sounded interesting enough and I bought it. And the first chapter or two had me quite interested and excited to read on. But now at just past halfway through, I find I’m almost having to force myself read it. And unless I’m reading some sort of self-help book (or child-help book which in turn is a self help book), that’s not why I read.

I really prefer a book to suck me in and take me away, making me lose track of time. I want to look forward to any spare minute I can get so I can get back in between the pages.

This particular book has potential. And that’s why I’ve kept going. Well, that and because I’m a sucker for punishment and once I’ve started something I need to make myself finish it.

But I’m finding there are too many different characters, far too much description, too many different locations and the story jumps all over the place - quite often to different moments and eras in time. There are too many minor characters that appear and then disappear – sometimes to reappear, sometimes not. I guess that’s part of the story the author is trying to tell but in all honesty it’s making me lose interest. Too often I pick the book up and have to turn back a few pages just to remember what the hell is going on now and where I left off.

Bah, it’s just not all it’s cracked up to be.

I don’t have much in the way of “escape” these days. For obvious reasons cocktails are out. As previously mentioned, gym workouts are now being heavily policed. By the same token, jogging is a no-go. So I’m really wishing I was in the middle of a gripping page turner to get me through until some or all of my other crutches become available to me. I’m thinking back to the days when Edward, Jake and Bella got me through the terrible months (yes, months) of pumping breast milk every 3 hours. (One year later and I’m only now able to admit that I got addicted to the Twilight series). Not that I’m looking for anything similar to the smutty teen vampire books, but at the time they did the trick for me.

So at what point do you throw in the towel on a book? Like I said, I’ve just passed the halfway mark so there is still quite a few pages to go. There could be some really good stuff in those pages that I would miss if I shut it down now, or it could likely be more jumpy rambling. I know that this author has serious potential as I’ve heard a lot of good things about some of his past novels.

What to do.


One of my big pet peeves is excuses. Excuses for not doing whatever it is that you're supposed to do. And what's the biggest thing that we all make excuses for? It's exercise.

So yesterday I had nothing going on in the morning and thought it would be a good time to go to the gym and get a LIGHT workout in to start my day.

For whatever reason, I felt really tired yesterday morning. I really felt like I needed more sleep. I didn't really feel like going to the gym at all. But I battled on and got Ruby ready to go to the gym (they have childcare there). I had planned on being at they gym shortly after 9am.

But at about 8:30am Ruby turned into a screaming, whining, crying monster and it became obvious that she needed to go back to bed for a nap. I put her down in her bed and she slept for about 45 minutes. When she woke up I was contemplating not going to the gym because we were an hour behind my originally planned schedule. But my despise for excuses made me push on and I felt proud of myself for being able to roll with things even when they don't go as per my plan.

So we got ready, got in the car and headed to the gym. When we got there, I realized that it was the gym's "grand opening" day. (Even though they've been open for almost a year now). Saturday mornings are usually the quietest time of the week and I enjoy that. But the place was swarming with people. They were even holding their spin class outside the front of the building - which I guess is supposed to make people want to come in and join up because it looks so "fun" but it just served to make me want to go in and workout even less. UGH! The last thing I wanted to do was battle people for the equipment. I really felt like turning around and going home - but I didn't want to be an excuse maker so I carried on into the gym.

Inside, the place was insane busy. I proceeded to the childcare room - which is also usually very quiet on Saturday mornings. If Ruby isn't the only child there, then there's maybe, MAYBE one or at the very most two other kids there. Except yesterday there were 8 or 9 kids in there. Screaming and yelling and crying. The usually happy babysitter looks at me with a blank look on her face, rubs her belly and says, "I'm a bit sick today. I have some sort of stomach problem. I don't THINK I'm contagious... I'm probably going home and Lynn here is going to take over."

Not cool. At 28+ weeks pregnant and with a 15 month old toddler, I'm not into taking those kind of chances. But I really should workout.

At that point she ran to the bathroom and "Lynn" came over to me. Lynn is the weekday babysitter and I'd heard nothing good about her. So the first thing she does is start going off on me because I didn't make an "appointment". SHE requires an appointment to look after kids under 2. Except I only bring Ruby on Saturdays when there's nobody there and the Saturday babysitter is happy to look after her - no flack, no questions asked, no fucking appointment necessary. Meanwhile there is a little boy sitting on the floor bawling his head off and Lynn is completely ignoring him.

And my god I was still feeling so tired. And really agitated now after getting raked over the coals from this bitchy babysitter.

The final straw was when I set Ruby down on the ground and she burst into tears.

Ok, enough. Excuses be damned, at this point the deterrents stopped being excuses at all and they all came together suddenly to be numerous, clear signs from the Universe that I was not meant to do this. So I told the babysitter, "thanks anyways" and I headed out the door.

Instead of a workout at the gym, Ruby and I walked down the street to the bakery and picked up a "Berry and White Chocolate Scone" and we came home and had tea and a scone and I got my workout from doing laundry, housework, looking after Ruby and just trying to stay awake until bedtime.

Sometimes maybe I should just accept that it's not meant to be and has nothing to do with making excuses.

Some TV Programs That Simply Have To Be Made

So Dad called us to say today. "Go and see 'The Blind Side' - Mum and I have just come from seeing it, and I had tears in my eyes," he said.

That got us thinking. First of all, we loved "Friday Night Lights", Texas-based football. The TV series was pretty damned good too. What can be a better high school + insanely hot girls + teen drama + sports mix out there? And sorry - 90210 doesn't cut it  (even their surfing team)!!

Anyway, we couldn't stop thinking about some programs that we'd like to see on DVD.

Here's a couple of ideas:

1) Where Did It All Go Wrong?

A History of Tennessee Football since 1998. The Vols have won not one, not two, but NO SEC Championships in 11 years, folks!

2) Defense: A Comedy

Highlights of Georgia's defensive efforts in the 2009 season. In the sister series "Offense: A Comedy" we try and work out how Iowa beat Penn State 6-4 in 2004. In the sister, sister series: "Offense: A Comedy", we talk through Penn State's offensive line, while in "Defense, Defense: A Comedy" we trace back to USC's defense in the second half of the 2009 season.

3)  Juiced

Just how did these high school players get to the sizes that they do for college? We (try) to answer.  For all Hollywood Producers out there: Don't bother asking Jose Canseco, who'll probably take the credit for this as well.

4) How An Alien Infilrated Texas Football

A look into the life of Texas Longhorns quarterback legend, Colt McCoy. We also look at his girlfriend Rachel Glandorf, and ask this question: how?

5) You've Been Framed

If Gilbert Arenas is getting one month in jail and 400 hours community service for bringing the sort of arsenal that would make the Terminator happy into the locker room, then what would normal human beings like us get for bringing that sort of weaponry to the gym on 6th and 9th and threatening the guy who was quicker than us in the swimming pool?

6) Keeping Away From Death Row

SEC Coaches from the Past and Present talk to us about how they managed to keep their jobs - and their schools -from the death penalty despite recruiting violation after recruiting violations. Houdini would have been proud. Or he would have moved to a NFL team in the Northwest.

7)  The Runaways

The brutal story of how a passionate fanbase up in Oregon looks for something better to do on Saturday afternoon between October and December thanks to the actions of a talented, dumbass quarterback.

8) They Hate Me

Pete Carroll on why returning to Los Angeles may not be the wisest idea right now. Lane Kiffin will also let you in on why he's not going back to Knoxville without an armored vehicle, and why anyone in their right mind would be an away fan at The Horseshoe (seriously! They throw buckeyes at you!).

9) Loyalty

Nick Satan (sorry, Saban) talks about how his cameo on "The Blind Side" was longer than some of his coaching tenures. And certainly longer than his promises. This story can be bought in bright orange. It's called: "Loyalty: The Lane Kiffin Story." 

10) The Simpsons: At State College

Abe Simpson runs into Joe Paterno, and suddenly two 80-year olds are coaching the Nittany Lions;  Bart Simpson joins a fraternity, Homer outdrinks everyone at the pregame tailgate, Marge's hair gets called for pass interference, and Maggie Simpson says her first two words: "Hate....Michigan". We all applaud.

In defence of Tim Tebow - and why he should go to Jacksonsville

 Listen, we at the VFA may have been a little strong on our hammering of Tim Tebow for a less-than-wonderful Wonderlic test, but the point is this: Superman is a winner.

If you're the Jacksonville Jaguars, why in the heck wouldn't you want to draft someone who's not only God in the State of Florida but also has better numbers than 'better' QBs out of the SEC who were drafted?

He's a human highlight reel, and is bound to win most arguments about "Best quarterback in college football....ever" arguments - especially in books like these.

The biggest point is about Tebow's action. People don't like the way he throws - but I'd argue if he has a good wide receiving crowd around him (he'll have a good running back in Jacksonville with the highly-talented Maurice Jones-Drew), then he'll be fine.

He's a winner, too - someone who Jacksonville has struggled to have behind centre in their years of existence. Sure, Mark Brunell didn't do a bad job for the Jaguars, but David Garrard simply isn't the answer for the future. I'd argue that Tebow is.

Not only that, but how many 'Tebow' shirts will Jacksonville ship in Tebow's first season? He'll pay back the contract money before the season's even started, and season ticket sales are bound to go through the roof, too.

General advice

Here's a little bit of information that apparently most of you do not know...

There is no pregnant woman on the face of the planet that wants or likes to hear how large she or her belly is. She does not want to hear it from her family, her friends, her co-workers, her boss, strangers on the street, the lady at the grocery store, the nurse doing her blood test.

It is not cool to make jokes about her weight or belly (particularly when this is her second pregnancy and it is very soon after her first pregnancy and she's heard all the "jokes" a million times just some months prior).

Even if the pregnant woman herself, jokes about her weight or belly - it is STILL forbidden for you to join in and make jokes as well. The pregnant woman is likely just making the jokes about herself in order to ease the crushing pain she feels in her heart every time she gets dressed, looks in the mirror or (god help her) steps on the scales.

It is also not advisable to STARE at her belly. You've seen plenty of pregnant women before. None of this should be new or shocking to you. Move along. There's nothing to see here.

Just because her belly is taking up space in the same universe that you reside in, does not make it your mission, your duty to pass a comment about her appearance unless it is to tell her how fucking fantastic she looks. However important or relevant or hi-lar-ious you think your comment is and that it absolutely MUST be voiced... stuff it. Believe it or not you will not implode, the world will keep rotating on its axis and nobody is going to die if you keep your thoughts to yourself.

Some examples?

~"Are you sure there is only one in there??" (Oldest and lamest in the book. This one needs to be retired.)
~ "You should think about cutting back on your beer drinking!" Yuk yuk yuk...
~ "You're 6 months pregnant and showing already???"
~ From the nurse drawing your blood while waiting in line next is a young Asian woman who looks like she's smuggling a basketball: "You're how far along?? Due WHEN??? ...Wow, you've got QUITE the belly."
~ After admitting how much of a blow to your self esteem it is when you have to start wearing your husband's t-shirts to the gym because yours are too tight in the belly: "I'm surprised HIS shirts even fit you!!"
~ After confiding in someone about how it makes you feel when people make rude comments about your pregnant belly, "Well your belly really is HUGE!"
~ After discussing finding your mat leave replacement, "We need to get someone trained ASAP! You're NEVER going to make it to your due date. You look ready to have the baby now!!!"

Please take note: every pregnant woman knows EXACTLY how large her belly is. In fact, to her it probably seems 10 times larger than it actually is. It's really, very unnecessary for you or anyone to make a comment about it. No really. Shut up.
     Pink tissue pompoms, bundtlette cakes, blue and pink, tea service, record player and party hats. Crafting and chatting and all things girlfriends. Happy day Miss Sarah. 

(Kelly's cake shop: in Dublin)

Saturday morning in the vineyards among the buds, blossoms and wildlife. Such a glorious treat and a delightful photo shoot to boot. Will post those tomorrow. 


My daughter is just the sweetest little angel lately.

Recently we have been having some very special moments that make me feel like I've really done right as a mother thus far. I was lucky enough to catch such a moment on video tonight. I wanted to share this in order to spread the good feelings and warm your heart and soul. Now you, too, can feel the complete and utter joy that I get to feel so much lately.

Scottish Ball

Spring always means the annual Children's Ball hosted by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. Miss S. goes as one of the "older girls" now. It is always a lovely traditional environment, complete with accompaniment for those reels, jigs and strathespies. Tea follows. Such a treat, the entire event.

Not wrong, but less right

If there is one thing I dislike and struggle with (ok, there are a multitude of things that I dislike and struggle with), it is admitting when I'm wrong. Ohhhhh, I hate admitting when I'm wrong. Probably because it happens so rarely that I don't have very much practice with it... (haha)

So right here and now, I am not going to admit I was wrong but instead I will admit that it is possible that somebody else (or a few people) were more right than me.

I'm talking about the gym and my exercise routine that was ordered into serious cutback, if not a halt, a week ago.

I haven't been to the gym to torture my body workout in almost two weeks now. And I was forced to admit yesterday that I think my body is actually happy about that. The pelvic pain is less. The extreme fatigue is less. And I no longer have the very strong need to retire to bed at 8pm. (Now I can stretch it to 8:30pm!)

I did get out walking a little bit last week and it caused some serious pain. I'm not sure if it was because my body had had a break and needs to readjust to exercise again or if it was always like that and I was in denial blocked it out because the endorphins were running wild in my head.

Don't think that I wont continue with the walking or even possibly make a return to the gym (yeah, yeah, at a slower pace). I am still allowed to do some exercise and I intend to do just that until such time that I can either no longer physically carry it out, or that I am banned from it all together.

I come not to applaud Rick Reilly, but to chide him

Dear Sportsfans,

Rick Reilly, the sportswriter, is one of my biggest sporting icons. Unless you've read the back of a Sports Illustrated - or lately the back of an ESPN The Magazine - you probably don't know what the hell I'm talking about. He's the guy that writes the back page.

A year or two ago he decided to make the big money move to ESPN Towers, where he was showered with gifts, loot, the back of the ESPN Mag (his strong point) and Unfortunately, he also did some TV work.

The problem with Rick Reilly, who decided to tell us all in his last ESPN page that he's not going to bother writing the back page anymore.

"This is also my last column for The Mag. I'm going to try my hand at a weekly 90-second essay on "SportsCenter" beginning this spring. I'll still write longer pieces for The Mag, write my column, host "Homecoming," cover golf for ESPN and ABC and anchor "SportsCenter" once in a while."

Rick Reilly's punchy, end-of-magazine pieces were brilliant for Sports Illustrated. "What Would Jesus Do?" - now over 10 years old - still convicts me about my religious fanaticism for sports, and makes me realize why smaller schools can be better than bigger schools at something - see his article on Middlebury College's "Picking up Butch".

And while his articles for ESPN The Mag and the website certainly weren't as brilliant as his ones for SI (he almost became a cliche of himself, his rules for 'Storming the Court' for ESPN (not the mag, mind) definitely have got me told!

But as we said earlier, it was better at SI. I thought I'd seen the piece he wrote on why he loves his job before. He'd written pretty much the same damned article in 2007.

And his last comment piece -panning a high school sports coach for running up the score on his opposition - was vaguely similar to a bunch of articles chastising prep coaches for doing exactly the same team. Why not do an article on what it was like to be on the end of that beating, Rick? Why not do an article on what it was like to be one of the families watching their son get fed to the lions? Why not make it an open letter to high school associations who allow this thing to happen across 50 states? This article - an attack on Yates High School's Greg Wise, could have been aimed at a ton of other coaches, too, you know.

Oh, and now to the TV. If you've ever heard Rick Reilly on TV, he's not a natural. When he commentates for ESPN/ABC, he's still not going to be nearly as good as the likes of Johnny Miller. His voice is kinda annoying, too. When I got the chance to meet him, I asked him about his move to ESPN. He said: "Ah, it still won't pay for my alimony". Made me giggle, anyway. It's like he's the guy you'll want to be funny or punch in the face. And if the ESPN/ABC guys hate him, it could end up being horrible for Reilly's career. And last time we look, Hollywood wasn't looking to pretty for brilliant screenwriters, either.

As for Rick Reilly's best future, we'll leave it to the nice people at Deadspin. You know why? Because I can't probably say anything better myself.

Anyone shocked? Tim Tebow scores low on the Wonderlic test?

According to reports, Florida Gators god quarterback Tim Tebow has scored low on the Wonderlic test.

It's true - Tebow really doesn't come across that well in interviews - in fact, it wouldn't be harsh to say that he might be a great role model, a great leader, but he's not the brightest thing in the world, is he kids?

ESPN has him going to the 'Show' as a second round pick, and if the system uses him as well as Urban Meyer's did, he could be a frightening prospect. Hey Pittsburgh - need another rushing quarterback all of a sudden?

Anyway, apparent Sam Bradford kicked the butt of all concerned on his test - and suddenly the Rams might take him as the No.1 overall pick.

That can only be good news for The Boy Named Suh from Nebraska and his new home in warm Detroit. The Lions suddenly have something fun on the other side of the ball. Hey - they don't need more wide receivers, do they?

Now what?

Last week was not a particularly good one for me. My health wasn’t great yet nobody seemed able to pinpoint what was wrong. Midweek I visited one of my midwives who sent me to the hospital for an assessment with concerns that I was having kidney problems. Instead of making it to the maternity ward as planned, I got trapped in the vortex that was the ER and I spent 5 hours of my day with the dregs of society, having a variety of tests done which in the end revealed… nothing.

I continued to feel bad for the rest of the week and into the weekend when on Sunday some physical issues arose that could not be ignored and this time I was sent straight to the maternity ward at the hospital for a proper assessment.

The assessment showed that thankfully the baby is safe and sound and not going anywhere just yet. My health was deemed to be ok except for a few exceptions.

It would seem that since my pregnancies were so close together, my body didn’t get a chance to recover properly in the 9 short months between the end of my first pregnancy and the beginning of my second. During my first pregnancy I had some pelvic ligament issues which have been exasperated with my second. There is pain and discomfort on a daily basis – which is expected to escalate as the pregnancy progresses. But this aside, the actual issue that landed me in the assessment room in the maternity ward was apparently my body sending warning signals that I was doing “too much”.

I have been having a long standing disagreement with Steve (and my parents) about my gym routine, namely the frequency and the intensity.

I thought this assessment would be the perfect time to discuss the gym with my midwife and get it settled once and for all – with me being right of course. And wouldn’t that just show Steve and everyone else!

But when the midwife found out the frequency and intensity of my workouts (which for a “normal” person are NOT a big deal AT ALL), her eyes bugged and she shook her head.

Queue the sound of tires screeeeeeeching to a halt.

My gym routine was apparently one of the catalysts to last week’s health problems. Where I thought I was doing myself a great big favor by working my ass off – which was giving me such an awesome mental boost that I was able to somewhat ignore the screaming pain in my body – I was apparently wearing down my worn out pregnant body even further. And I was pissing off the baby too. Apparently.

Strict amendments are to be made to my workouts. Amendments so severe that I wonder if it’s even worth while to continue at the gym. I’m not to go to the gym more than 2-3 times a week and while there, I’m not to do more than 20 minutes of very light cardio at a time and then take a break before doing another 20 (if I must do another 20). I’m not to break a sweat, not to get winded, not to allow my heart rate to exceed 120bpm. Or, preferably, forfeit the gym altogether and try “prenatal yoga” or “prenatal aquafit”. (Oh, please!!!) Before all this went down, I was going to the gym 3-4 times a week, doing 45 minutes of ass kicking, sweat soaked cardio and maintained a heart rate of 150 – 160 bpm.

Bit of a cutback wouldn’t you say?

I do realize that the medical professionals know best and I must abide by what they say for the sake of my health and the baby’s health.

But, fuck. Really?

Going to the gym was that little pocket of time in my life that I could be on my own and feel like I was doing something good for my body and my mind. Oh the good it did for my mind…. And I thought this was what I needed to do in order to hold down my weight somewhat. I’m trying desperately not to gain as much weight as I did with my first pregnancy. And I thought I was doing my future, post-baby self a big favor by getting a bit of a jump start on my physical well being! I wouldn’t have to start from scratch again. Not to mention perhaps having a bit of endurance and cardio strength for labour and delivery.

But it is not to be.

I haven’t been to the gym now for over week because I wasn’t feeling well and then Sunday when I thought I’d get the go ahead I got the brakes. I can already feel a difference. My mood is more blah. I don’t have that little boost in my head that comes from doing something physical. And I’m no longer sleeping through the night. Although, yes the feeling like the baby might be born in a few hours is gone. (The regular daily pain will be with me until the baby is born. That, I just continue to deal with the best I can.)

I now sit here trying to figure out what to do next and how to best move forward. How to get back that little high that I felt from a good, decent workout - if it's even possible.

Total downer.

Giselle, Firebird, Masquerade Ball from Phantom, even Michael Jackson...

It's coming together beautifully. The amount of energy in these dancers and their director is amazing.  For those of you coming to the ballet company show on the 27th, you will be well pleased.

I wish that I could say *my* energy was as amazing.  The camera and lens I'd rented for this rehearsal were as easy to maneuver as a cast iron skillet-literally as heavy. Although the lens had fantastic reviews, its weight made it nearly unbearable after the 4th hour, even on a monopod. It is good to push oneself and one's equipment. Subsequently, I've ordered a new camera to add to my gear bag (an upgrade from my current one, not the one rented) and will stick with my current lenses for now. We work well together. :)

Sooth me, Michael

Feeling a bit tired, frazzled and perhaps even a little blue this morning, I got Ruby strapped into her car seat and then rifled through the car looking for my White Stripes CD. Felt I needed a raucous thrashing on my ears to kick my ass into a better mood. Except I couldn’t find the damn CD which served to further agitate and frustrate me. I grabbed for the next reasonable substitute, my “Dead Weather” CD but holding it in my hand I realized I just couldn’t pull it off this morning. I then contemplated “The Kills”, but again wasn’t feeling it.

It was then that I came across a “Michael Buble” CD that I had bought some months ago after seeing him on some talk show and he charmed the crap out of me. The CD is barely used because even though he is quite charming, the music is just not my style.

But something possessed me to slide that disc into the player in my car.

And wouldn’t you know it. It was just what I needed. I started to feel my bad nerves ease up. My mood softened and I relaxed a bit. I played the CD all the way to work and by the time I got there, I was indeed feeling a lot more chill than when I woke up this morning.

Michael Buble would be the very last person I would enlist to sooth my soul, but for some reason he was exactly what I needed this morning.

Here’s to an open mind.
There are some people that bring to your life gifts never expected. If music and friendship are counted, these ladies have given more presents than I can adequately thank them for.

More marital advice!

Dear husbands… I do realize that the little filter between your brain and your mouth is not always functioning at full capacity. However, you are only going to make your own life very difficult if you cannot prevent something like the following conversation from occurring:

A husband and wife crawl into bed after a long day. The wife fluffs up her pillow and then slides over to cuddle with her husband. The husband lays his head down and looks into his wife’s eyes.

He pauses and then says, “Did you puke today??”

The wife exclaims, “NO! Why?!”

The husband replies, “Oh. Never mind. Your face just looks like you did.”

Husbands, should your brain/mouth filter malfunction in such a way and a conversation that resembles the above occur just prior to bedtime, you may want to then do a quick sweep of the house to ensure all weapons are secured under lock and key and that you have swallowed the keys. Even then your safety can not be 100% guaranteed and you may find it wise to forgo sleep for at least a week (possibly longer). In fact, it may not be in your best interest to close your eyes at all for quite some time - not even to blink.