Drop-Down Menu

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Climb On : To the Top

I've gone climbing...four?...times since last posting about it. Maybe five, six? Hot damn, I've reached the point where I've gone enough they all are blending together!  Achievement level unlocked.

When we went a few weeks ago, Jenna was bouldering and crushing it, until she landed wrong (the crash pad wasn't squarely under her) and hit her heel on the mat, so she's been out for the count. Sad, because she's by far the best at bouldering and I love watching her. Also, she was doing really great before she fell (evidence here), and once you fall (even a little) you really get nervous and cautious the next time you climb.  Her leg has been bothering her since the fall, but she had an appointment to get it checked out and found out it was just a bruised tendon (we'd been worried she had a hairline fracture or something).  Last Wednesday was the first day she felt comfortable enough to get back on the rocks, so it was great to have her back in action.

I got over a hump and was able to top one route that I'd been working on forever (and have since done it two more times) as well as a few other routes that were at my 5.8 level - the three pictured below plus one other one (that I cheated on the first time up using a foothold that wasn't mine, but went back up and got past that part without cheating). I was crazy excited, because I topped three different routes in one night and that was a personal best for me. I'm now working on two routes that are proving really hard for me thanks to an almost total lack of upper body strength. One route, that we call "the red route" because we're SO CREATIVE and the tape marking it is red), is a strange route that you have to climb with your feet on one wall and your hands on another and it's super awkward and I can't quite figure it out.  I also got another route - another 5.8 - that I only got with a healthy amount of help from my belayer. I'm still proud as shit that I got it, but she definitely hefted me up to help me get a couple of the handholds. (Although she immediately discounted the climb entirely by telling me how much I cheated by relying on her and gave me zero credit for effort. Hint: Next time, say, "Great job! Next time you try it, let's try it with more slack!" or "Next time you try it, I bet you won't even need my help!" Positive reinforcement! haha)

I'm not sure how well you'll be able to see the routes here, but three of the ones I got were the white one in the top left, the yellow one in the top right, and the teal one on the bottom picture. 

Some random guy transversing the wall (going across the wall laterally, not too far off the ground - and MUCH harder than it looks since you are constantly crossing your hands and feet).

I also topped three bouldering routes - the V01 I was working on before (V0 being the absolute easiest and V1 being the next step, so V01 is somewhere between the two) as well as two new ones, both V1s. I think. One might have been another V01.

When I got the V01 that I'd been working on for ages, Kimberly was helping another climber and I was just practicing that one move needed to get it. I GOT IT and was SO excited to keep climbing up, only to realize that there was no crash pad under me (since the move I was working on was relatively low to the ground). So I had to drop down, move the crash pad, and do it all over again. This time with everyone staring at me, since I'd yelped so loudly when I'd gotten the move.

I can slowly feel myself getting stronger, but not as fast as I'd like. I'd probably help if I did something anything other than just this for a workout, but I don't. Or if, you know, I stopped eating a gallon of ice cream a day. (but I'm a nursing mom!)(I say to myself) It'd also help immensely if I could get out to climb more than once a week. My sisters go twice a week, generally, and I'm usually only able to go with them one of those nights since I work the other day they go and climbing with me isn't enough of an incentive to get my other sister to change her grocery shopping schedule to accommodate me. I kid, I kid. Mostly.

To end, this is what the gym looks like when they're closing up and tying the ropes up to get them out of the way and off the floor so they can sweet. Doesn't it look like a little forest of nooses? I'm always vaguely creeped out by it.

And then my sister calls me a wuss.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pumping in a Wasteland.

Gah, I hate pumping. Hate. It.

I did it around-the-clock with Carys when I had to supplement her nursing with a bottle feed, and then for another year at work. I didn’t mind it too much with Carys, and I don’t mind the actual act of doing it. But at work, in an attempt to conform to new federal regulations, they now have a “Mother’s Room” where we can pump. I was SO excited for it when I first heard it was coming.

And SO let down when I actually used it the first time.

First, it’s a storage room. It’s small. It’s lined in file cabinets. There’s one small (hard plastic) chair in the middle of the room and a footstool.  And I added the footstool after taking it from an empty cubicle. No table, no sink, no mini-fridge to store milk, absolutely nothing for the mother except the chair. I want to be appreciative of just the fact that we HAVE a room to use, but since it’s dual-purpose, I have to announce my intention to go in and pump to a room full of people (luckily, all women at this point) so if anyone needs anything out of the room they can go get it. Since I can hear them all talking through the walls, so I’m paranoid positive they can hear me pumping as well (are all you pumping mothers picturing that wha-WHA-wha-WHA whirring of the pump now?). Both the telling-of-the-pumping-intention and the feeling they are listening is so mortifying. I am proud of the fact that I pump, but let’s be honest here: pumping is weird and I don’t want anyone to picture me doing it. And to add to the discomfort, I always feel like it’s such an inconvenience to them whenever I go down to use the room. Oh, and they won’t let me store my pump there between sessions, so I have to lug that pump back and forth between my desk and the room all day. And store my milk in the giant communal freezers shared by (literally) a thousand other people (though probably only about 400 are here any given time). Oh, and let’s not forget how I have a short clip of Emmeline crying to help with let-down that I play – on the lowest volume setting possible - and one of the ladies outside the office commented on it as I was leaving, so I KNOW they can hear everything that goes on in there (which makes me avoid using the highest suction setting since it’s the loudest).

Since I’ve gone twice only to be told that someone else was on their way down, I asked for the other person’s schedule so I could avoid them (we are the only two using it), and wondered if we could create a sign-up sheet for it. I got zero reply and still have no idea when/if the other person will be there or not. I asked if we could get a trash can in there (since when opening the milk storage bags little tabs are ripped off, and since I eat my lunch while pumping) with no response. I asked if we could get a pack of sanitizing wipes in the room (to clean up any tiny stray drops) with no response. I’d like to ask if we can at least get a poster on the wall, to make it just slightly less “I’m pumping in a storage room” and more “I’m pumping in a room that just happens to have some file cabinets in it” but if they can’t get a trash can, I’m sure that asking for a poster would be akin to asking for a Lazy-Boy Recliner. Which, please note, would also be nice.

The one thing I WILL give them credit for is calling it a "Mother's Room" instead of a "Lactation Room," which is what some places call it. Because nope. There is very little that ruins the joy and magic of nursing and breastfeeding like the word lactation. Lactate. Lactating. Nope, nope, nope. 

I get that space is at a premium for most companies and that a nice, dedicated nursing room might not be possible, but I also feel like on an effort scale of 1 to 10, they in about a half point. Dude, pumping sucks. Almost no one likes doing it. If we have to be hooked up to a milking machine like a frigging cow, at least don’t make it worse with a shitty pumping room.

A nice nursing/pumping room would have:
  •           Dedicated space (or one that is shared, but rarely used by the share-ee)
  •           Soothing wall color with nice decor
  •           Table so mother can eat while pumping and/or set her pump on it
  •           Soft, comfortable chair
  •           Footstool
  •           Schedule where you can reserve the room
  •           Trashcan
  •           Sanitizing wipes
  •           Several outlets so the mother can position herself and the pump in the most comfortable way

A dream pumping room would add:
  •           Sink
  •           Fridge/cooler to store milk away from the masses
  •           Cubbies/cabinets for each pumping mother to store pump in between sessions
  •           Natural light (from a frosted or high-up window that couldn't be seen into)
  •           Magnetic board where mothers can place pictures of their children to stimulate let-down

While we’re REALLY dreaming, I’ll add:
  •           TV
  •           Space heater or independent climate control – pumping while cold SUCKS, amirite? Also see that pun? INTENDED.
  •           Upgrade the soft chair to a massage chair (OMG CAN YOU IMAGINE?)
  •           Paul Rudd

There’s like a negative percent chance that any of that would ever happen, but maybe I can get a job designing pumping rooms for giant companies with wads of money. Google. Call me. We’ll do this. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Butterfly Garden

I rarely post things like this, but had to share this deal. If you're looking for a fun project to do, check this out. Friends of ours did this last year with great results (I was completely skeptical that they would live, but they did!) and I've had it on my Amazon wishlist because Carys was completely enthralled with the whole process and asked to go to their house to check on "her" butterfly babies every single day.  So I put it on my wishlist with the intention of grabbing it sometime this summer for a fun short-term project, and just today saw it dropped in price from $16.99 (which is what it's been for months and months now) to $11.89!!!! Needless to say, I jumped on it and since it's so much cheaper than it normally is I wanted to share it with you guys just in case anyone else might be interested. Even when it was listed on Zulily, which normally has pretty great deals (a lot of Carys's clothes and toys are from there), it was going for close to $17.00.

(P.S. You do need to pay $5 for the butterflies once you get the kit.)

If the above image doesn't work, try this link: http://amzn.to/PgCg9j

Note: I paid full retail for this! I have no idea if it's going to be awesome or a dud (hopefully awesome like our friends' was) but this isn't a sponsored or paid post or anything. Just me being excited over a deal!

UPDATE: I see it's jumped a dollar in price up to $12.89. Still cheaper than the "normal" price it usually goes for but I have no idea if it's worth waiting to see if it drops again or if it's going to shoot up??

Monday, April 14, 2014

Letters to Emmy : Four Months

March 12 to April 12, 2014
Dear Emmeline:

Not just dear. Dearest Emmeline. You are SO sweet; my little laid-back munchkin. You go with the flow and don't cry very often and smile all the time. I'm not kidding when I say that everyone that interacts with you comments on how incredibly sweet you are.

Your great-grandma can't get enough of you. 

You're getting so big - at your four month appointment on Thursday, you were 16lbs., 3oz., and just under 27 inches long.  I missed your exact head measurement (mom fail) but it was the 88th percentile - no surprise there, because you have the biggest, roundest head this side of the Mississippi. And the biggest, roundest eyes. And the biggest, roundest cheeks. And hand dimples. And wrist folds. And thigh rolls. And everything about you is just pinch-able perfection.

And your dimples. They deserve their own paragraph. They are just the best. I could pretty much subsist solely off of your dimples.

Your hair is coming in white blonde (!!!!) and your eyes are still a deep blue (to compare: Carys's hair came in dark blonde and her eyes were deep blue until a little over a year old; they are now solidly hazel). I am so very curious to see what you look like when you get bigger - I just cannot picture you as anything other than my chubby baby. I love to rub your fuzzy little head - so very soft. But then I stop because I'm worried about rubbing off what little hair you have. Right now, you've the little bald spot in the back of your head that some babies get, with the little fringe at the nape of your neck. But you're mostly bald. Adorably bald.

You've begun babbling constantly, in this gutteral gurgle-y voice. And you will talk and talk and talk. And you love it when we talk back to you

You found your feet and constantly are grabbing them, whenever you're on your back. It. is. SO. CUTE.

You also have your hands in your mouth about 90% of the time you're awake. One or two fingers or the whole fist, it doesn't matter.

I think you're about a week from legit sitting up on your own, which is terrifying - it's too early! You aren't that big yet! But you already tripod sit for a few seconds at a time (before folding on yourself and touching your head to your toes).

You are about a centimeter away from rolling from your back to your tummy - you just haven't quite figured out what to do with that pesky bottom arm yet. (Tummy to back is ages away, it seems - you hate being flat on your tummy for tummy time so you usually do it propped up on a rolled-up blanket or on my stomach, so I anticipate that you won't get that move down for a while.)

I don't know why I find this so charming, but when I lay you down for a nap, instead of stretching your arms out or waving them around like you normally do, you tuck them tight against your side in anticipation of being swaddled.

You JUST started the "pull-off-and-smile-up-at-me" thing while nursing. It makes nursing sessions take longer, but dear lord do I love it.

You and your sister are thick as thieves already. You break out into the widest grin when she is around and will sit and watch her do anything. She just loves to hold and cuddle you (though gets a little frustrated you aren't sturdier when I have to remind her to be gentle), and trying to make you smile is a favorite activity: "Give me a smile, baby!" She loves responding to your babbles with, "Oh, yeah? Tell me more, baby!" and you love talking to her. She shares her toys with you and wants to share her food with you (not quite yet!) and tells you all the time how much she loves you (and also tells me sometimes that she doesn't love anyone but Emmeline - ouch!).

Em, Emmers, Emmy. I love this age where my cheek rests against your whole face and where you can't turn from my kisses and cuddles. I love it when you're tired and you'll tuck your head into my shoulder. I love kissing your cheeks and neck. I love the way you grab at my neckline while nursing. I love the way you sleep next to me, with your face towards me and one hand thrown over my chest.

You get the bum end of the deal sometimes, being the second kid. Some days I want to just hold you the entire time you're sleeping and feel your body heat and feel the weight of you and just BE with you, but I have another kid to feed and clothe and keep alive. But come her bedtime, it's just me and you, kid, and I get to breathe in your essence.  I know this time where I can let you sleep on me for hours on end and your tiny body just melts into me is too short and I wish there was a way to capture every moment of this time permanently.

I love you so very much, Em.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Terrible Almost-Threes

Oh, my god.


Did one of you happen to see my sweet little girl? The one who is kind and loving and nice and a good listener?

Because hot damn, I want her back.

Today, at a playdate, my best friend and I were getting ready to leave. We did all the "right" things: we gave warnings, we gave choices, we were loving but firm. And for our troubles, I got a handful of dirt thrown at me and she got an epic tantrum.  And I truly believe we are both good moms. Really good moms. We've read the books (I freaking worship Love & Logic*) and gone to the seminars and followed our instincts. And pre-kid me would have judged the shit out of these two moms who couldn't get their two-year-olds to sweetly and obediently leave the park. Because through eight thousand hours of baby-sitting, I never had to live with one of these tiny terrorists.

If I'm being totally honest, I probably would have judged those moms six months ago, too. I, somewhere deep inside, thought we had gotten off easy, because we had almost none of the "terrible" in terrible twos. There were tantrums here and there but parenting was still easy. Maybe I was just that awesome of a parent? Maybe she was just that awesome of a kid? But as we've gotten closer and closer to three, these glimpses of a child I don't know and at some points don't WANT to know.

This age is hard, ya'll. It's like she's suddenly discovered that in her mind, she has all the power. And the problem is, SHE DOES. Because this girl does not give a shit about your discipline techniques. Take toys away? "PSH. I HAVE OTHERS," she says. Time out? "HILARIOUS." Physically forcing her to cooperate? "JUST TRY."  She knows all of the exact right things to say to break my heart, all of the exact right things to do (or not do) to test my limits, and all of the exact right attitudes to throw out to make me want to scream. And drink a glass of wine. A big glass.

I am seriously at a loss sometimes as to what to do to combat this...this...toddler.  She's just a two-year-old, how is she possibly besting me?!?!?! Theoretically I'm stronger and smarter with better self control. Sometimes I worry I'm raising a little psychopath, until I talk to another toddler parent and am assure that yes, their child too is a violent, whiney little f*ker. I had to use the edited version of that word because I feel bad calling my kid a f*ker, but seriously. Some days.

Carys, if you're 18 and reading this, be assured that I still loved you to freaking bits every single millisecond, you just made me work for it.  You're such an amazing kid, truly. You're so smart and funny and strong and such an incredible little girl. And most of the time you are just the sweetest little ball of curly-haired awesomeness and you totally amaze me with the depth of your love.



But then I tell you that you can't have ice cream for breakfast and you lose your ever-loving mind. Or I need you to get out of the swing so I can lay baby sister down to sleep and you refuse and you hit me when I pick you up. Or I have the audacity to be sleeping in my own bed when you crawl into it at 6:30 in the morning and MY BLANKET TOUCHES YOU AND YOU ONLY WANT YOUR BLANKET OH THE HORRORS OH THE HUMANITY and you start kicking.

I was just listening to a story on NPR (yes, I'm one of those, sigh) about "Bad Babies" and a Yale researcher said that two is the most violent age and that the only reason the families of two-year-olds survive is because they aren't strong enough and don't have access to lethal weapons.  And when I watch this small child flailing on the floor because I picked out the wrong pair of jeans, I kind of think that he's right.

Lucky for her, she also wraps her arms around my neck and pulls me in nose to nose and whispers, "I love you, Mommy." And lucky for her, she randomly tells me, "You're my favorite Mommy." And lucky for her, if I get the tiniest owie, she runs to the freezer to get me an ice pack and smother me in kisses and tell me it will be okay.

Lucky for her, I love the shit out of her for all those reasons and a million more.

(But you're on my list, kid....watch it.)

UPDATE: Hm. I just realized that this post and the "no naps" post go hand-in-hand. Did I just have a parenting breakthrough? I wonder how much of this is caused by being overtired. Probably a lot. Maybe I need to push naps harder or try to get her down to bed earlier. Experiment time!

*Regarding  the "Love and Logic" series - not a paid advertisement or anything; it's truly one of my favorite parenting concepts. Big on real-life consequences and acting with empathy and love. I don't agree with every word on the page, but overall one of my favorite parenting books (and I seriously doubt there is any parenting philosophy or book out there that I'd agree with 100% - all kids and all parents and all families are different, obviously, and one book won't cover everything, duh). I have both "Love and Logic for Early Childhood" and the regular "Love and Logic" book, but they cover mostly the same information.  I also just got their book about entitlement but haven't read it yet. Seriously, such a great concept. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

DIY : Elsa & Anna Costume Capes from "Frozen"

Now. I do not claim to be a sewer. I mean, I sew, but I really BARELY know how to use our sewing machine. So probably a hundred things are wrong with these and I used a bing-blong stitch when I should have used a nappy stitch or something. Loose threads everywhere. Uneven hems. Visible threads. Mistakes galore. This is not a professional seamstresses project. I did the best I can. The best I can pretty low on a sliding scale, though.  

However. From a distance, they look good. And whenever I post a picture of Carys wearing her capes on Instagram or Facebook. I get questions on how I made them.  So maybe there are other non-sewers like me out there who are looking for inspiration for their similarly-obsessed kids. 

Like 2/3 of kids under the age of 30, Carys is completely in love with the movie "Frozen." So much so that she has an entire routine for the "Let It Go" song, complete with *exact* choreography and costume changes, which I of course have recorded and uploaded to YouTube and which YouTube promptly blocked since it had the actual "Let It Go" song in the background.  (Instagram isn't so picky: Here's a quick clip of her early version - it's become much more sophisticated since then.)

At her second cousin's "Frozen" themed birthday party and in heaven. 
Best part of the picture is the kid in the background.

That obsession led to capes. Anything was a cape. Everything was a cape. Towels were capes. Blankets were capes. Coats were capes. My clothes were capes.

I thought it would be a FANTASTIC idea to make her an actual cape like Elsa and Anna have in the movie. Seriously, BEST MOM EVER is what I was going for. I thought she'd flip her lid, especially since she saw the fabric before I did anything with it and knew immediately that it was "Frozen" costume fabric (in the video linked above, she's playing with the raw yardage). 

Well, the day I introduced the capes to her (after having SLAVED over them), she was having a terrible day and didn't want anything to do with them. She just went right back to her blanket-cape. I was completely crushed.  I did get her friend Leah to wear it, though.

Eventually, Carys did come around to the capes, though, and now they are absolutely required wearing any time we watch the movie and/or just the "Let It Go" song (which is a lot) (like a lot a lot). 


I made a kind of Elsa/Anna hybrid cape with a hood, because when she was using blankets as capes, she always gave them a hood. So even though neither Elsa nor Anna have hoods on their capes, I thought she'd appreciate the extra touch. You can easily modify these instructions to do it without the hood.

I also used a shiny fabric that unravels like crazy and is a total bitch to hem. If you are a crappy sewer like I am (or even a non-sewer) you might want to consider using something like a lightweight felt. You won't have to serge or zig-zag stitch the cut seams at all, you won't have to hem, and it will go approximately 124% faster. You also won't have to worry about the "right" and "wrong" side of the fabric since it's the same on both sides (if you're a beginner - the "right" side of the fabric is the side that you want to see; the wrong side is the "inside" of the fabric).

I drew out the instructions for a friend and decided to just take pics of the drawigns because a) lazy and b) I had no idea so many people would want instructions and I didn't take any in-progress pictures.  I really don't know if I'm explaining how to do this well; hopefully you can kind of piece it together since my instructions are shit. 

I used about a yard of fabric for the purple cape. I got it at Joann's - I just wandered around until I found this fabric that looked like it was the right color. In hindsight, it was kind of a huge bitch to work with. 

To create the hood,  I took a hoodie that she already owned, laid it down while folded in half, and traced the shape onto paper, then enlarged it a bit to account for seams (so you'll end up with kind of a "D" shaped pattern). Then trace that pattern onto your fabric twice, since you need two hood pieces. Cut two hood pieces. 

Measure your kid from the shoulders to where you want the cape to end (I did calf-length) to determine how long the cape should be. I used a rounded, curved shape for the cape - you could just as easily (actually WAY more easily) do a rectangular shape for yours.  I then eyeballed the length of the capelet (the shoulder part) based on the length of the cape. I just drew right on the fabric for the cape since it didn't have to be exact, but you could do it onto a piece of paper first to get the shape exactly right. Don't forget - since the final product will be gathered, the raw pieces should be much wider than you want the final product to be. At least twice as wide. On the final product, the width of the cape (after it's gathered) will be equal to the width of the open hood, so you could use 2x the length of the open hood as a measurement for the width of these pieces.  Cut one capelet piece and one cape piece.

1. Pin the hood pieces together, wrong sides facing each other. Sew along the curve (see illustration). If needed, you can hem the front of the hood. The bottom of the hood will be sewn to the cape, but if you have a particularly fray-y fabric, you might want to serge or zig-zag the bottom of the hood after you've sewn it together (make sure you do this while the hood is open; you don't want to sew the pieces together along the bottom!). 

2. If needed, serge/zig-zag stitch the top of  the capelet and cape pieces, and hem the other sides (see illustration). Sew a gathering stitch along the top of each piece and gather them to match the width of the hood and each other. (Not sure how to gather? Check this link.)

3. Lay the capelet on top of the cap, pin in place, and sew them together (both pieces of fabric should be facing the same way - so when you're looking down at it you should see the right side of both pieces). 

(What kind of drugs was I on when I wrote step one? 
I think I meant "sew hood pieces wrong side together")

4. With your newly sewn cape laying with the right side of the fabric facing up, pin the open hood to the top of the cape. The hood should have the right side facing down.  Once pinned, sew across the top to attach the hood to the cape.

5. Cut ribbons to the desired length. If your ribbon will fray, fold the ribbon onto itself and sew across (or go the easy route and paint clear nail polish along the bottom of it, or lightly burn it with a lighter).  Sew the ribbons to the inside of the cape on each side. I did it along the seam where the hood and cape met, using a zig-zag stitch and going over it several times so it was secure.

6. I randomly found a button at Joann's that looked a lot like the brooch that is on Elsa's cape, so I bought it and added it to the side of the cape where the ribbon comes out. Totally optional.

Inside of cape showing all the seams. Pretend like this isn't blurry. 

Hemming the edge of the cape.

Ribbons folded over and sewn through. I used a decorative stitch and contrasting thread.

The hood looks really tall/long - and it is. I did it that way to get that drape-y effect when worn (see picture of Leah wearing it). Also, is that a crumb on the carpet? Yes. 


Technically, when Elsa transforms into the ice queen (SPOILER ALERT) she isn't wearing a cape; it's actually part of her dress. But for dress-up purposes, this works nicely.

I found a piece of tulle at Joann's that had silver glitter dots all over it. Any type of sheer, sparkly fabric will do nicely. The amount you need will depend on the width of the fabric; I used half a yard, I believe, but it was very wide fabric.

Detail of fabric

This cape is ridiculously easy, because the fabric doesn't need to be hemmed or the edges finished in any way. (Yes, you could get all crazy and use piping around the edges or do a million other things, but I'd just devoted 1/3 of my life to creating the purple cape, and I was spent.)

You need a piece of fabric that's at least as tall as your child (I made mine even longer, to drag on the floor like Elsa's does in the movie) and at least twice as wide as you want the final width, and a piece of ribbon long enough to go across the back of the cape and be tied in front.

1. Sew a gathering stitch across the top of the fabric and gather to desired width.

2. Pin a ribbon across the top of the fabric, with the ends extending out on each side to act as the ties later. Sew in place with a decorative stitch. Finish ends of ribbon if needed (folding it over and stitching shut, or using nail polish or lightly burning the ends).

3. Done. That easy.

I see mistakes in both capes all over the place, but I'm really ridiculously proud of them (especially the purple cape) and Carys absolutely loves them (now. thank god.).  And no, there is absolutely zero chance that I'll be selling these on Etsy anytime soon. Doing these two sapped all my sewing ability for the next five years.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Climb On : Preferably Without Injury

I went climbing with my sister today and almost killed her. And in the process ripped a bunch of skin off my pinky.  But I learned an important lesson: when belaying, let the rope out slowly and keep your fingers away from the ATC device.

Listen to me, dropping lingo like I know what I'm talking about. LAUGHABLE. I'm still such a beginner. A newb. A no0b, even. But in the most simple of simple terms, belaying = holding the rope for the person climbing and keeping them from falling (hint: I failed at this). ATC device = I don't know what this stands for, but it's a little thing that the rope goes through when you're belaying someone that helps control the rope and provide friction. Google tells me ATC stands for air traffic controller, which....okay? I guess? I don't get it.

We go top-roping, which means that the climber is attached to a rope when climbing (and the belayer has the other end to keep the climber safe). After she reached the top of the wall, it's my job as the belayer to lower her back to the ground. I went a little too fast when lowering her and lost control a little bit and ripped the skin of my finger a little bit and, um, dropped her a little bit. Luckily she was almost at the ground and luckily there are thick mats surrounding the climbing wall, so she didn't get hurt.


(Actually hurts quite a bit.)

(that's a Black Diamond Harness and chalk bag, FiveTen Rogue shoes, and a Camelbak water bottle WHICH I LOVE OH SO MUCH)

And I feel ridiculously guilty. Even though she told me it's fine. Even though I successfully belayed her several more times that night after learning a new technique. Even though she claims to still love me. We'll see.

When you climb indoors at a gym, there are holds bolted all over the walls and specific routes marked, meaning that you can only use specific holds to get to the top (for example, you can use only ones marked with yellow tape).  They give the routes punny names, like "Florist Gump." Each route has a different difficulty level, based on a number of factors, like the sheer number of holds available to get up, the type of holds ("jugs" are holds that you can grab and get your fingers into and are the easiest type of hold to use, whereas "crimps" are these tiny motherfuckers that you can't really grab and can just barely get your fingertips on - a more difficult route would be low on the jugs and high on the crimps, for instance), the amount of overhang, etc. Traditionally, the hardest move on a route determines the grade. So if a route is incredibly easy but has one really difficult move, it's rated on the level of the really difficult move.

The ratings go from 5.0 to 5.15, with 5.0 being the easiest and 5.15 being the hardest. I know. It's a weird system. 5.0 to 5.5 apparently don't really exist. I guess? At least not in my gym. I trained on the one 5.6 route that they have.  Then I've done two 5.7s to completion. There are two more 5.7s that I'm working on (a route you're working on completing is called your "project").  There's a huge leap between ratings and a huge range within each grade (hence being able to complete the one 5.6 route the gym has easily but still struggling on 5.7s). My sister, who has been going for almost a year, is still on 5.8s (though she's about ready to move to 5.9s). My other sister, who has been going just a couple months, is also on 5.8s, just to put it in perspective.

We also boulder a little bit, which is climbing without being attached to a rope. You can't go up nearly as far safely (the bouldering wall at our gym tops out at maybe seven feet?) but there's a ton of overhang and a ton of strength needed for even the easiest routes. You often start with a sit start, meaning you're literally sitting down and grabbing the rock from that position, so it takes a ton of strength to pull up from that position. Bouldering routes are rated from V0 to V16, and there ARE routes all the way down to V0. I've done a V0 but am struggling on a V01 (harder than a V0, but easier than a V1).  Like I said, there's a HUGE difference between difficulty ratings.

Also, I'm pretty sure boulderers look down on top-ropers. I think there's some rock-climbing hierarchy and I'm at the very bottom of the very bottom.

Here is the face of an exhausted, injured beginner climber

All that is to make this next part make even the slightest bit of sense to all you blog readers (ALL THREE OF YOU!) - I want to keep a running log of where I'm at and what I'm working on, and of course it only makes sense to do it publicly in order to ensure the most humiliation when I fail. Right?

Climbing Summary 4/1

Attempted: 5.10 "Dr Moorehead"
Cleaned: V01 (bouldering); 5.7 "The Crag" (twice!); 5.7 "Leadable"; 5.8 "Florist Gump"
Current Project(s):

Attempted: 5.7 "The Crag"; 5.7 "Leadable"
Cleaned: V0 (bouldering); 5.7 "Steve's New Route"
Current Project(s):  5.7 "The Crag"