Not Feeling It

So, I went to zumba for the 4th day in a row. I’m not sure if it was the instructor, if I was too tired, or what the deal was, but I just wasn’t feeling it… I think part of it, was that she did a lot of 3 count moves that didn’t seem to make sense with the music. I am used to moves that go in 4 or 8 counts, and hit the beat of the music… ah well, I’ll try again tomorrow… gotta get as much in as I can before we head to DC.


I started this post on August 1st. I did go back to zumba the next day, and had a great class… must just been an “off” day for me. Some days are like that. I find that to be true with workouts, dance class, my job, and even being home with my kids. Sometimes, you feel like a superstar. Other days, it seems like staying in bed is a better idea… one day, one hour, one step at a time.

My New Favorite Work Out

I wrote many years ago about how much I enjoy exercise, and movement. Dancing has always been my favorite way to “work out.” To me, it’s not just about the movement, it’s about the full connection of my mind, body, and spirit. I love the way dancing makes me feel. Over the past several years since we have been back in MN, I have been taking tap classes at Lake Area Dance Center. It has been great! I plan to continue as long as I am able to (hopefully, that’s a LONG time). I have made some great friends along the way, and, as an added bonus, reconnected with old ones.

Recently, Jason and I have been working out at Lifetime Fitness a lot more. We are trying to get back in shape, and we’ve been working hard. We’ve been members of this gym for 5+ years, but haven’t gone nearly as often as we should (until recently). Nowadays, we are there 3-5 days/week. I have tried a few different group classes (they tend to be very motivating for me), but I found a new favorite – zumba! It’s basically dancing… zumba mixes classic aerobics with latin, hip hop, and bollywood moves. You basically dance for 45 minutes to an hour (depending on the class/instructor). You are moving your whole body for the entire time. It’s exhausting, but so much fun!

I have been going for about a month or so at the White Bear Lake club on Friday mornings. I’ve really enjoyed it, but wanted more. I tried the weekend classes at the Fridley club a few times. WOW! Zumba at Fridley is faster, and has more hip hop and bollywood incorporated. There’s a lots of booty shaking, but it’s not just that. It’s a great workout overall. If you haven’t tried zumba, I highly encourage you to try it, no matter where!


My Black Belt

Typical Michael, and his buddy, Daniel.

Typical Michael, and his buddy, Daniel.

About a month ago, just a couple of weeks before he turned 11, Michael got his black belt in karate. He has been attending Forte’s American Karate since he was just 6 years old. After 4 1/2 years of hard work, he was given the opportunity to take the pre-tests, and to create a choreographed self-defense. Upon completion of those last few steps, he was ready to graduate.

These two black belts got some serious air while doing one of their forms.

These two black belts got some serious air while doing one of their forms.

By the day of the graduation ceremony, Michael was both excited and nervous. He knew he was ready, but was still nervous to have so many people watching him. He had me, my husband, his sister and two step-brothers, his dad and his friend, three sets of grandparents, his Godmother and Godfather,and their two kids, all there to watch/support him. His awesome 5th grade teacher also came to watch him graduate, as did many friends from the karate studio.

20160611_121325There were 6 graduates that day: Michael and his good friend, Ryan, who started right around the time he did, were both being promoted. There were two other boys, both from the Wyoming school also being promoted to Black Belt. One young man from the Wyoming, MN studio was getting his 3rd Degree, and Michael’s karate teacher, Mr. Hallberg, was getting promoted to 4th Degree Black Belt.

Michael sparring 2 opponents at one time.

Michael sparring 2 opponents at one time.

Graduation began with a display of self -defense techniques, and all the forms they had learned along the way. What’s really cool to me, is when all the prospective (1st degree) black belts do their bo form together.

After forms, all graduates demonstrated several of the kicks and punches they had learned over the years. The height and strength they all had were amazing! Finally, came the sparring. This, for me, has always been the most impressive part to watch. I think this was also true for those who had never been to a black belt graduation before. Typically, each graduate spars 4 or so different people. In their last sparring match, additional people are added after a short while. The higher level black belt they are going for, the more people they send in. Michael had 2 to spar at the same time at the end. It is a true test of endurance. He did pretty well.

This was just before they were going to get their black belts. You can see how exhausted they were!

This was just before they were going to get their black belts. You can see how exhausted they were!

His two sparring partners were both friends of his, and all three seemed to be having a great time, despite Michael’s exhaustion! Mr. Hallberg had to fight 4 at a time. That looked tough!!

Sparring wasn’t the end of the graduation ceremony… the final test, was to show just how bad they wanted it. They were all exhausted, but they still had 100 punches in a horse back stance (feet apart, knees bent), and 100 front kicks to go… you could really see the determination on their faces!

Michael, receiving his black belt.

Michael, receiving his black belt.

All the graduates were then asked to remove their belts. The bowed to the black belt panel, and were each given their belts. Ryan went first, then Michael. The two of them were only the 2nd and 3rd students from the White Bear Lake School to be promoted to the rank of black belt. Daniel was the first. All three boys started when the school was brand new, almost 5 years ago.

The last to be promoted that day, was Mr. Hallberg. Master Forte, owner of Forte’s American Karate, had been training Mr. Hallberg since he was 3 years old. You could see and hear the pride in his voice as he congratulated Mr. Hallberg, and gave him his belt.
Once the graduation ceremony was done, we took pictures of the new black belt with everyone who came, with the entire black belt panel, with his teachers, etc. Michael was worn out, but also very proud of his accomplishment (as he should have been).

Master Forte and Mr. Hallberg hug after Mr. Hallberg got his 4th degree black belt.

Master Forte and Mr. Hallberg hug after Mr. Hallberg got his 4th degree black belt.

We were all very proud of him! It was a great day!

The first three black belts from the White Bear Lake School of Fortes American Karate: Ryan, Michael, and Daniel.

The first three black belts from the White Bear Lake School of Fortes American Karate: Ryan, Michael, and Daniel.





Master Forte, and his black belts!

Master Forte, and his black belts!


Michael with all of his teachers that helped him get to this point: Mr. Munson, Master Forte, Mr. Hallberg, and Mr. Chapin.

Michael with all of his teachers that helped him get to this point: Mr. Munson, Master Forte, Mr. Hallberg, and Mr. Chapin.





Time to Get Healthy: Attempt #42

This past year, I was sick, a lot. As a teacher, I am exposed to germs all the time, but this year, I caught a lot more than usual (maybe my body was preparing for the latest craze by “Catching them all“). I seemed to have some sort of cold, the entire school year. Add to that, I gained about 13 lbs between March and June, and that was starting from a higher weight than I like in the first place. UGH!

I have many friends that are using Plexus or Thrive to help them get more healthy. Of course, they are all asking me to try their products. It’s not that I am opposed, but I have had so many asking, that are using either one or the other (and loving their results, whether it be weight loss, or just generally feeling better), it’s hard to know where to even begin.  Also, I don’t want to rely on a shake or supplement. What I really need to do, is change my lifestyle. I need to build my strength back up, I need to eat better, I need to be healthy.

I am a stress-eater, and this past year has had some stressful moments. Being sick all the time, didn’t help. I was eating, all the time. While I tried to make some healthier choices, I was still snacking more than I should, and eating lots of carbs. Of course, because I was always sick, I was always tired, that meant I was also drinking more pop, or sugar infused coffee drinks than I should as well. In the 80’s the slogan was “Just say no” in regards to drugs, my drug has been Caribou. I have a hard time resisting that one!

A few years ago, some friends and I did an online blog party called Get Hawt. That was helpful, having someone (or a group of people) to help hold me accountable in my goals. What my husband and I have found out, is that neither of us are the right person to be an accountability partner for each other, when it comes to health and weight loss.

My husband has done low-carb diets several times, and had some great results. I had no desire to give up my carbs. I love cookies, pasta, rice, bread, pita chips, and of course, pop (or as most of the rest of the country calls it, “soda”). I have been able to cut down to 1 can or bottle of pop a day pretty consistently. For a man, that might be enough, for a woman, not so much. I need to do more, but I did NOT want to give anything up. Despite his best efforts to get me on board, I pushed back.

About a month ago, I hit 171 lbs. That is about 20 lbs higher than when I first was disgusted by what I saw in the mirror. I didn’t like that my pants all bulged in the belly, and my shirts were all getting tighter. Flab was constantly sticking out the top of my pants, and out from under my shirts…  It’s summer. I like to wear tank tops, which of course show off my jiggly arms. I decided to start working out more, which meant I needed enough proper attire to wash them in between work outs. I was not happy to have to go up another bra size! All in all, I was getting more and more depressed by my weak, flabby body and decreased health. I wasn’t sleeping well, nor motivated to do things I enjoy.

Time for a change!!! OK, so it might not actually be the 42nd time I am attempting to take back control over my body and my eating. I am a bit of a geek, so 42 seemed to be a good number to use (you know, the answer to life, the universe, and everything).

So what am I doing? I am going to the gym a minimum of 3 days a week. I’ve met with Nichole at Lifetime Fitness a couple of times now. I am working on a plan to strengthen my core, and whole body. I am trying to make sure I get at least 10K steps every day

Jason (my husband) and  I are doing the Whole 30 diet. Well, he’s doing the Whole 30 all-out, I’m doing a modified version. I am still eating yogurt almost every day, and allowing myself a string cheese occasionally as a snack. I also told myself that I could still have one Mountain Dew per day, though, I usually choose iced tea with sugar instead of a beverage with high fructose corn syrup. People who are sticklers for the Whole 30 rules will tell me that’s not ok. That it should be all or nothing. That it’s pointless to do it if I’m not going to completely give up added sugar. Here’s the thing, I know what the program has to say, I also know that if I tell myself I have to give so many things up, I will fail. The Whole 30 book says to focus on the things I can have: meat, veggies, fruits, basically real, non-processed foods. I don’t have that much willpower… I am doing a modified version so I can be successful. I will write more about that later. For now, I will leave it at this: I have lost 5 lbs so far, mostly water weight and bloating, but I am slightly less disgusted when I look in the mirror… I am going to keep working, and will update my progress occasionally.

Spotlight Dance Cup 2016

This year, Lake Area Dance Center decided to try a new competition. We went to Spotlight Dance Cup. It was held at the Rivercentre in St. Paul.

20160522_182201At first, I was not impressed. The backdrop was tiny, and when I went to buy a program, they were sold out. They sold me a paper copy of the day’s schedule for $5. Because I have some sort of weird love (obsession?) for programs, I bought one anyway, so I could follow along. The downside, is there was nowhere to write awards, placements, etc. This competition proved the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

The schedule was nice, from the standpoint that all of Grace’s dances were in one day. For the dancers though, it was a bit intense – 6 dances, in the matter of about 3 hours.

A couple of things were different about this competition. The biggest thing to get used to, was the difference in adjudication. At this competition, what we know as Gold was Emerald, High Gold was called Ruby, and Platinum was called Diamond. There were many “other” awards as well: Showmanship, Entertainment, Costume, Choreography, and Cut Above. It appeared there were two levels dancers could compete at: Novice Gems (recreational and intermediate), and Future Gems (Advanced). When I was reading the rules on their website, it appeared there was also a Competitive Division, which was divided into age categories as we know them: Petite, Junior, Teen, Senior, and Adult. Looking through the portion of the program I bought, it looks as though our Teens and Seniors were in this division, while the other age groups were all in the 11 and under, Novice Gems division. I’m not completely sure though…

Placements were done similarly. 1st place overall was diamond, 2nd place was ruby, 3rd was emerald, 4th was sapphire. This was confusing to the dancers. They might have gotten a diamond score, but not placed at all, or gotten ruby or something like that. I wish they’d just stick with 1st,2nd,3rd…

Grace, Daphne, Katelynn, Sage, and Claire M. all participated in the Dance Down. What a great experience!

Grace, Daphne, Katelynn, Sage, and Claire M. all participated in the Dance Down. What a great experience!

Something really cool that this competition offered, was called the Dance Down. Dancers who  entered, all went on stage, learned a short routine, and performed it. They did 3 rounds. In the Teen Division, we had 5 dancers from our studio. Two made it to the second round, and our Superstar, Sage, won! I believe she won a gift certificate to Discount Dance Supply, and a scholarship of some sort. It was a great new experience for those dancers that entered, including Grace. Thank you, Miss Maria, for encouraging her to try it!

Overall, LADC did very well. The hip hop group “Spice Up Your Life,” got a Showmanship award. “Bellhop Boogie” got a Costume award. In the under 11 large groups, “Cadence” (pom) took 10th place, “One That I Want” (Sugarplums’ jazz) took 9th, “Bellhop Boogie” (Sugerplums’ tap) got 6th, and “Ghetto Superstar” (hip hop) took 5th place. In the 11 and under small groups, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” (jazz) took 3rd place, and “Spice Up Your Life” (hip hop) took 2nd. In the Teen large group category, “This is a Remix” (tap) took 10th, and “Egypt” (open category) took 3rd. In the Senior Large Group Division, “Wobble” (tap) took 7th place. Many Diamond and Ruby adjudications were given. LADC got the ADCC Studio of Excellence Award for our success and having dancers across all age groups, and levels of dance. Basically, this award recognizes a studio for having a well rounded program.

The Teens represented LADC a few times in the awards.

The Teens represented LADC a few times in the awards.

I wrote some other notes during the day, and afterwards, when I asked Grace what she did and didn’t like about this new competition:

  • I’m not sure if there were microphones on the floor, or if it had something to do with the floor itself, but the tap sounds were nice and loud.
  • The music in between songs was not too loud (something I really appreciated, since the other competitions this year, seemed to be the opposite).
  • I liked that they did pictures with each of the winners.
  • There was a screen at the side of the stage that also showed the dances. This was helpful for those who have a hard time seeing from far away, or had heads in the way.
  • Grace felt as though the stage was “sticky”, which made turns more difficult. She also felt as though the stage was smaller than normal. She said there were only 4 lines, instead of 5, and she said she bumped the screen at least a couple times. Her final critique of the stage was that the wings were very small, which made it tough when they were going on and off stage during and after dances.
  • They had super cute apparel, and all their tank tops, were buy 1, get one. At $20 for two tank tops, that’s a deal I can get behind! I got one for me, and one for Grace. Of course, she picked the one I wanted for myself. Oh well. I like mine too.

20160612_120155The final difference that my daughter really liked, was that instead of pins, they gave each of the dancers a lanyard. Instead of pins, dancers got a charm to represent their adjudication scores. Grace said she wishes more competitions would do something like this. The lanyards and charms are super cute!

I don’t know if we’ll return to this competition or not. There were definitely things I liked, and things I wasn’t so impressed about. It may be a great one for solos, duets, and small groups to attend, as there were difficulties for the larger groups at our studio, and larger studios. Either way, I support the studio’s decision, and would be just fine going back!



Masquerade Regionals 2016

We are just over a week out from attending Masquerade Nationals in Burnsville, MN. I haven’t yet written about the last two regionals we attended….

Our prop dads get in on the fun, throwing beads to the audience during one of the breaks.

Our prop dads get in on the fun, throwing beads to the audience during one of the breaks.

Here are some notes I wrote shortly after the competition:

Always the favorite competition, this year was no exception. Once again, our teen and senior dancers from Lake Area Dance Center (LADC) competed at the Purple (Advanced) level. This makes for some very tough competition! The best of the best in the Cities always come to this competition: Woodbury Dance Center, Studio 4, and Spotlight Productions Dance Studio, to name a few… It made it really fun to watch!

They were ahead by about an hour. We were excited, because we thought awards would be early. Instead, there was a longer than usual break before awards. They also had one dance from each studio perform an encore. I loved that, even though it made the encore portion go long, and awards were still late into the night (on a school night). LADC’s dance that was chosen, was “J Lo”, their jazz line number. This dance gets better every time I see it!

Grace, Paige, and Morgan, ready for some tap. These girls have been dancing together for 5 years.

Grace, Paige, and Morgan, ready for some tap. These girls have been dancing together for 5 years.

I thought our dancers all did a great job! They scored gold on hip hop, platinum on tap, high gold on contemporary, high gold on open, platinum on line, and platinum on production. “Godfather”, the studio’s production dance, also got the first place in the Junior Gold Line Division (it competes at the gold level due to the number of recreation and intermediate level dancers in the dance), and an Audience Choice award.

One of the fun things about Masquerade is Audience Choice voting. Audience members can vote on their favorite dances in different categories through the app available for phones and tablets. There is a free version, but you have to pay for the options to see what dances are on stage, view the program, etc. This year, we were able to vote through the free version. I’m not sure the was the case in the past (at least, it didn’t work for me). I did purchase the full version, so I could spend some doing other things, and still be able to keep track of where things were at, so I wouldn’t miss our studio’s dances. In truth, I spent most of the in between time prepping for my preschool conferences, but that’s beside the point.

The Angels with their Best in Show trophy.

The Angels with their Best in Show trophy.

Overall, our studio did well. There were many dances in the top of the overalls, especially in the younger divisions, who largely compete at the Gold/intermediate or Green/recreational levels. Our petite rec. level hip hop group, “Spice Up Your Life”, got an audience choice for hip hop. They not only got called back for an encore, but won the big trophy! Congratulations Shawtys and instructor Suzie! At the Junior Level, the Best of Show (top scoring dance) when to the Angels’ lyrical dance, “See You Again”. Congratulations to those dancers, and instructor Mike! “Egypt”, Grace’s open dance, got an audience choice award for the open category.

Many dancers from our studio have a goal (dream?) to be invited to the Parade of Stars. This is a group of select dancers that stand out to the judges. Parade of Stars dancers are invited to participate in the opening number of the Finals at Nationals. Grace is one of those that hopes to be selected someday. This was not her year, but several in each age category from our studio were selected. Congratulations dancers!!”

We are looking forward to Nationals, coming up in just a week!:-)



Legacy Dance Championships – 2016


The teens and seniors practicing their production routine.

Last weekend, Lake Area Dance Center participated in its first competition of the year – Legacy Dance Championships. We’ve done this competition before, but something seemed different this year. I’m not sure I can put my finger on what was different.

The competition was at the Ames Center, in Burnsville, MN. This site remains my favorite venue for competitions, though their prices at the concessions stand seem to get more outrageous each year! We are not allowed to bring in any food or beverages, but when they charge $3.50 for a bottle of pop or water, they certainly aren’t encouraging people to purchase things there. At least the relatively low cost of the programs, at $13 for a program and pen/highlighter combo, was reasonable.

Overall, our studio did very well:

*We had many soloists who placed in top places

*Soloists who were runner up for the Title of Miss Legacy at different levels. One of our dancers even took the title of Mini Miss Legacy!

*Most large group dances placed in the Top 10 for their divisions

*Sunday evening, Grace had all 6 of her dances. I was so excited to see them, since I’ve barely even seen any parts of them over the year. Their dances weren’t perfect, but overall, not bad for their first performance of the season. All her dances but one received a platinum score. I did not necessarily agree with the judges this time, and not in the way you would think. I won’t complain though…

*Large group dances took 3rd, 5th, and 8th places in the advanced teen division

*Hip Hop took 3rd in the advanced senior large group division

*Teen/Senior Line took 2nd

*Production took 2nd

*Instructor, Mike Dietz, got a choreography award

*Our studio received the Legacy Award for the Teen Senior Division. I was disappointed the dancers didn’t stick around for a group picture with the trophy!


Our seniors were the only groups in the Advanced Senior Division, so they took places 1-4.

Our seniors were the only groups in the Advanced Senior Division, so they took places 1-4.

Some down sides of this competition:

While I can’t pin point what made it feel so different this year (other than it felt much smaller), I did take some notes on things I didn’t like. Some of those things were:

*I feel like I complain about the volume at this competition every year. What I noticed, was that the music was turned up between dances, yet, when the dancers were on stage, the music was turned down. This caused a few mishaps.

*The ends of songs were often cut off. In one case, it was cut off mid-dance. During one solo, the dancer hadn’t even hit her end pose before the music was changed… Whoever was in control of the music should have waited until the dancers exited the stage before changing the song.

* This is no fault of the competition, but our 4 Advanced Senior groups were the only ones in their division. While it’s nice to say they took places 1-4, it would be more awesome if there was some competition!

*There was recognition called “Excellence in…” for each style of dance. The only thing is, there wasn’t just one jazz dance, or one lyrical dance. There were multiple dances in each category. I didn’t quite understand the point of this.

*Before the production dancers went on, they closed the balcony. That meant EVERYONE had to cram into the lower level before dances with 50-100 dancers each went on. It was packed!

*Also not a fault of the competition: people were SO RUDE about finding a seat in the middle of dances. When will people learn the common courtesy of waiting until a dance is over before getting up and leaving, or walking down a row to sit down??? Dances are no more than 3 minutes on average. I don’t understand the inability to respect the other people who are there to see their dancers.

  • My daughter’s hip hop dance has a funny/surprise ending. I didn’t get to see it due to people not only walking in front of me, but also apparently forgetting how to just sit down. When a family started walking in front of me just as their line dance was about to start, I could no longer keep my mouth shut. I asked them to please hurry, as my daughter was about to dance on stage. (Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not normally one to say something, but I was at the edge of my patience with this behavior… maybe I was a little stressed out due to having parent/teacher conferences the following week. I had spent the whole day prepping them in between dances…)

Anyway, to wrap up my post about this year’s Legacy competition, my overall opinion is: meh. If our owner wants to suggest trying a different competition next year besides this one, I will be all for it. It just wasn’t as much fun… it was smaller, the music/volume issues were annoying, and the energy/fun factor just didn’t seem to be there…

Til next time!



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