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A Week in London

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Hard to believe it’s been a week since I managed to cram a break resembling a late “summer vacation” into the dying days of summer. I was lucky enough to escape to London for a week with my brother and Dad.
The non-stop energy, sheer enormity,  and overwhelming variety of London make it an in every sense, a true escape from every day life here in Calgary.

It was a beautifully successful vacation in the sense that it was truly a break from my “normal” everyday life. Of course, strictly adhering to a “pub by noon” rule and being in a time zone 7 hours removed from the demands of every day life demands may have had something to do with that.

Aside from the blur of pubs visited (and revisted), the highlights of the trip include squeezing ourselves into a 1930’s football stadium to see Tottenham play Sunderland, taking in a mind blowing Ancient Egypt exhibit at the British Museum  (still cannot believe admission was free), and settling into a Londoner routine with a daily 10K through the downtown core to Hyde Park.

If you haven’t been, well simply put, you need to go.
It’s my goal to go back, or, should luck permit, enjoy a longer stint with the family as temp transplants masquerading as Londoners…

Now, emerging from a small dose of well earned post epic vacation depression, I’m setting about getting back into my routine here. Time to burn off some unfortunate English Ale calories.

Fitness Catch-up – Crunch Week

Between the barrage of colds, repeated bouts with the flu, an onslaught of work, and an overall not entirely uplifting atmosphere in the city lately, the focus on my personal fitness hasn’t really managed to become a priority, despite it’s prominent placement on my new year’s resolution list.

Though I wouldn’t have thought myself sedentary, being reduced to a wheezing, sweaty mess while jogging and pushing my son in the Chariot this past week was a moment of reckoning. Perhaps worst of all, I was running with my brother and had to rely on him to push the chariot for the majority of the 10km route. It didn’t take a session of deep meditation to isolate the cause; My regular lunch runs and morning gym workouts have come to be replaced with eating out everyday (pho, donairs, pizza, etc) and sleeping in respectively.

The response, shock the system and revive my old, hard fought morning rituals and regular workouts. Though it won’t be sustainable for much longer that a week, I’m going to kick off a Fitness crush week, with the overarching challenge of trying to lose 5 pounds in 1 week. I figure, it’s important to act now, while the guilt and shame are fresh, providing some solid motivation for change. The process won’t be enjoyable, mainly because I have significant inertia to overcome, but I’m confident I’ll be able to live without a pleasure feedback loop for 7 days (maybe 6 days, if a cheat day is deserved we’ll see :)).

Right now, or rather, just before I sat down to write this post, I weighed in at 202.5. I’m gunning for 197.5 or better by next Sunday.

It’s going to be something; 7 days of high protein and high fibre eating, 5 days of morning gym sessions and 6 days of lunch Carido. But perhaps, what I’m dreading most, is Saturday morning Yoga – I can feel my muscles screaming and my joints popping in inflexible protest already.

Here goes… getting old wasn’t, or rather, isn’t as advertised.

Day Care and the Baby Flu

I suppose I’ve always been pretty lucky to be healthy, even in years where I haven’t banked on the flu shot (read as: too lazy to get the shot), I’ve never really had to deal with being sick beyond the point where I couldn’t politely manage it with some Kleenex and some hand sanitizer.

Scratch that…. my eyes have been opened and now I truly understand the value and the beauty that is being healthy. Not only has this been a very eventful flu season for us, it’s been by far the most sick I’ve been in my entire life.

First things first, I’m 100% certain that the next mega pandemic will establish itself within the efficient germ sharing confines of a daycare.

That’s right, our son has started in daycare and with it, our house has been turned upside down. He however, loves it and rightfully so, he’s actually doing great. Sure he’s had a perpetual runny nose, a cough that comes and goes, and has conquered a fever or two, but that’s all part of building an epic immune system right?

I had been warned by work colleagues further along in the parenting funnel that the worst was yet to come. “Just wait” they said, “once day care starts, you won’t know what hit you”. But (of course) I naively choose to believe that, that simply was not going to happen to me. I mean, I’m healthy! I don’t get sick, I get my flu shot, an app on my phone tells me that my Heart Rate and Blood pressure are optimal. Not to mention, I drink my fluids, I work out, and I have chicken noodle soup sometimes just for the hell of it. Ha! So unbelievably wrong!

I suppose I have an excuse for my naivety, having gotten a little old and not having been around kids for a while, maybe I took the societal benefits of common hand washing, covered coughs, and not being vomited on for granted.

Not only have I never been this sick, I’ve set new personal records for:

  •  Sick Days (as depicted below: daytime cartoon binge watching in bed)
  • Vomiting (ya… awesome)
  • Laundry cycles
  • Bed/crib sheet changes

Oh well, we’re all getting our immune systems upgraded and stress tested together and another significant plus: the stomach flu is a great ab workout.

But, look at this guy, cuddled up, watching tv…. I wouldn’t change a thing… well except maybe the vomiting.

 

A photo posted by Colum Furey (@csfurey) on

A Perfect Vacation

Often the greatness of a vacation can be underscored further based on how hard it is to come back to “normal life”. For many reasons, not just the post-vacation depression, our recent trip to Maui was perhaps as close to a perfect vacation as I’ve ever been on.

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I had a nagging worry in the back of my mind days before we woke up at 4am and threw Charlie’s delicate but hard fought sleep schedule into complete disarray. How would he be on the plane? Would he hate the heat of Hawaii? Would it rain the whole time?

As it turns out, airplanes (at least for an infant of 4-5 months of age) are essentially just very expensive, super sized vibrating white noise generators. The end result for our and every traveling infant on the plane, they Sleep and Eat the entire time, aided with well timed feedings during liftoff and landing to help with pressure adjustments. I was dumbfounded, we weren’t “those parents” with the kid that found the energy to scream for 7 straight hours. Sure there was some awkward baby juggling in the tight bathroom as a I wrestled the change table down and made sure not to touch anything, but no harm. The flight attendants and really the whole airline experience was pretty incredible, to the point where Westjet may be now be my favorite airline (at least for family travel). Westjet, you are finally forgiven for losing my bags during reading week 12 years ago 🙂

But onto Hawaii, and more specifically Maui. Everyone has a picture of their perfect place in their mind. Mine always has been this stereotypical tropical island. A lush island soaked in sun with a cloud shrouded mountain in the middle.

As we began our descent and cleared the haze of the thermocline the beauty of the Hawaiian islands was clear below. It looked like everything I’d ever dreamed of in the perfect place. Beach ringed, lush green, pure tropical paradise. As we moved through the open air airport, we basked in the warmed, sun and humidity. Again, another needless fear, Charlie seemed to enjoy the warmth with the odd cooling breeze.

Now, planning for a potentially cranky kid and the exhaustion that accompanies that, we made sure we were at a resort that was completely geared toward families. Moreover, we selected a hotel that essentially represented the “Don’t lift a finger, we’ve got this” mantra. The Fairmont Kea Lani was outstanding, not only beautiful but we were immediately swept up into the “You’re on vacation, stop worrying” island life feeling.

Another unexpected bonus, Hawaii is 4 hours ahead in time from Mountain Time; Translation, waking up at 6am feels like sleeping in until 10am. With almost no effort, I slipped into a vacation routine of waking up at 6am, quietly slipping out while everyone else slept, chatting up the pool attendants and reserving pool side loungers, then hitting the beach for an 8km slog leisurely beach run, dodging the crashing waves (I only came back to the hotel dry once).

In addition to sneaking in a daily sunrise run, my wife and I managed to take turns between playing in the ocean like a little kids and baby sitting little kids; I also managed to get some quiet time in every day to meditate, and just have some nice (baby quiet) time with my beautiful wife. While the luxury beach front of Maui may not be as imposing a setting for meditation as say, sitting cliffside within the caldera of Santorini, the rhythm of the ocean works well enough. 🙂

My own biases aside, Maui itself is almost incomprehensibly beautiful with incredible places to eat, adventure and luxury to satisfy every desire and we only just barely scratched the surface. It’s really hard to put in words just how amazing this long overdue vacation for us was. Perhaps the best review I can offer is, We will definitely 100% be back.. and soon!