Tough Mudder 2017

Yesterday, my husband and I, along with 6 other friends, completed the Tough Mudder. If you aren’t familiar with this event, it’s a 10+ mile muddy, wet, and very challenging obstacle course.¬†If you don’t like mud, getting dirty, getting wet, or having wet feet, this is NOT the event for you!

The event was held at the Wild Wings Gun Club in Hugo, MN. We were glad it was so close to our house. Parking at the event was $20, so everyone met here, and we took 2 vehicles to bring everyone there. Afterwards, our team came over for pulled pork, baked beans with bacon, and some good old-fashioned reliving the event we had just completed together.

In preparation for the event, I was working out at the gym, focusing on upper body, and core strength. On the playground at preschool, I had been practicing crossing the monkeybars. The first day of school, I couldn’t do any. Last week, I was able to cross five. I was feeling very encouraged by this! My legs have gotten quite strong over the past year, so I didn’t worry too much about those. I just added some weight to my squats (sometimes using kettlebells, sometimes using hand weights). A few weeks’ back, I messed up my back, so I had to take the most critical time of training to deal with that. ūüė¶ ¬†It was a good thing I took that time though, because it held up great through the entire event! I was really nervous it wouldn’t. Thank you to chiropractor, Dr. John Tomlinson for helping get it back on track!

Laura and I after Tough Mudder. We were the only two women on our team.

It was a super hot day. Temps were over 90, with very little cloud cover. There was no amount of training that I could have done or not done to prepare me for the heat. We were all sweating and stinky before we even started. At the first obstacle, they told us weather conditions were red, so they were recommending people not run, and drink plenty at the water stops.

After parking, we walked about a mile to the check-in location. Then, we dropped our bag in the bag drop area, and headed for the queue at the starting gate. Our assigned start time was 11:00. It was about 11:15 when they let the group for the Tough Mudder Half go. We probably got to head for the actual starting gate around 11:30. There, we waited more, and probably around 12, got to actually get started.

We jogged the first 1/2 – 3/4 mile, before some of us started to walk. We had well over 10 miles ahead of us, why expend all that energy early on? We always made sure at least one person stayed with the person at the back. Sometimes that was me, sometimes Dan, Tim, or Jason. No matter who it was, no one was left behind. My goal was not to get it done fast, just to finish it.

We had to carry this wood as a group. It was heavy! Due to a miscommunication at the end, it was even more difficult for the couple of teammates who carried it all the way to the end.

The first obstacle we came to was called Kiss of Mud 2.0 . You can’t see me in the video, but you can watch as my husband crawls through the mud, under barbed wire. Teammate Charlie caught this video. I was to the right of him, so you catch me periodically. It wasn’t too bad. On another obstacle that started out in a similar way, I did get poked in the butt by barbed wire near the end. I thought I was all the way at the end, but I wasn’t quite done yet. Oops.

Post-Mudder selfie.

As the event went on, there were walls to climb over, mud to crawl through, pipes to climb up, wood to carry, etc. Most of the terrain was hilly, and uneven. I was definitely not prepared for that. It made for some very sore muscles, even with us walking most of the course.

The easiest obstacles for me tended to be the climbing ones. I guess my years of rock climbing paid off (even if I’m not very strong any more). ¬†The hardest obstacle for me personally, was called Everest 2.0. This was a steep halfpipe, with a rounded top. Apparently, the trick is to use speed to run up as fast as you can. People at the top help each other, but they say not to aim for the hands. This obstacle was at the half way point for us. For whatever reason, I felt like I was completely out of gas. I struggled to muster up the energy to get enough speed to make it to the top. After 3 tries (plus one where I started to run, and started laughing at something someone said, so bailed), I was ready to admit defeat. I was frustrated and exhausted. I hadn’t eaten in several hours, and had long since burned through my breakfast. I decided to try one more time. This time, by a miracle, Chris, one of my teammates, caught my hand. Matt, another team mate jumped next to him to grab my other one. Charlie, our team captain, was trying to grab my leg. I didn’t have the strength to even swing it over… after hanging for what seemed like an eternity, I mustered the strength to swing it over, where he grabbed it, and they all pulled me over.

Luckily, I found a second wind after that. I managed to make it through all the rest of the obstacles. There were 3 obstacles I did not complete…. two had to do with going through electric wires. I got zapped pretty bad in high school, and didn’t want to relive that experience, so I skipped those two. The third obstacle I did not complete, was called Kong. It was a Legionaires-only obstacle. That means that only people who had completed the Tough Mudder ¬†at least once could do that obstacle. Since it was my first time, I couldn’t try it. That was ok by me, because I knew I would fail. The obstacle before that one had monkey bars, etc. I was very disappointed in myself that I only made it across two monkey bars before I fell in the water. I was hoping to make it at least halfway across. Oh well, maybe next year.

Didn’t realize how banged up my knees were, until after my shower.

Four hours or so later, we finished the Tough Mudder. We were hot, sweaty, sore, and utterly exhausted! At the same time, it was thrilling to know that we had done it. We all had some battle wounds – cuts, bruises, scrapes, and lots of sunburn (despite putting plenty of sunblock on before hand). Some of us struggled with muscle cramps during the event, but it was all worth it!!

I now know how to train differently. I need to make sure I have a bigger breakfast that day, to make sure I pre-hydrate, and do some practice run/walks on hilly terrain. I will continue to work on being able to do things like pull ups, rings, monkey bars, and climbing walls. I will likely also go to a “Ninja Gym” to practice doing things like climbing ropes, and running up walls.¬†I will be better prepared to not only complete obstacles, but also to be a better teammate, more capable of helping others over the obstacles.

I loved that this was such a team-focused event. We all worked together, and we made it! I am looking forward to doing the Tough Mudder again in the future!

 

 

 

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School Trip

My scrapbook page from our band trip to Chicago, Junior Year of high school. This was just after dinner at Ed Dbeviks.

Tomorrow, my daughter heads out to Chicago with her choir. I’m not sure who’s more excited, her, or me?

While in Chicago, they are going to have some really cool experiences! They are going to see a production of Chicago, going to see The Blue Man Group, and going to the Aquarium. They are also going to Millenium Park – because you can’t go to Chicago as a tourist, and not take pictures in front of the Bean! They are also going to Navy Pier, and a few other locations. Of course, they also are doing some singing while they are there. Instead of a dance master class, like Grace is used to, they are doing a choir master class with a college professor.

She is so excited for her 4 days in the Windy City with her friends, that I’m surprised she’s sleeping at all!

I am excited for her, because I remember my band trips from high school very fondly! Some of my very favorite high school memories were made on our trips to Chicago (Junior Year),  and Toronto (Senior Year). As an adult, I have had the pleasure of visiting Chicago a few times. I saw The Blue Man Group, the parks, etc. and enjoyed them all.

I can’t wait to hear all about her adventures when she gets back!

 

Yellowstone 5K 2017

One of my goals in my fitness journey, is to run a 5K.

I have technically done two Polar Plunge 5Ks before, but I walked both of those. Yes, I technically finished them both (and was at the back of the pack in both). Yes, I got a shirt from each one. This said, neither met my goal of running a 5K.

A couple months ago, Jason pitched me the idea of doing a virtual 5K together. I didn’t really know what a virtual 5K was… basically, you pay the entry fee, and you run a 5K wherever you want. You send in your time by a certain date, and they send you a medal and shirt. I decided it might be a good way to ease into this whole running thing. I have been doing some running at the gym, but not as much as I’d like. One day, Jason sent me a message and said, “Let’s do our 5K tonight.” Neither of us had done much training, but what the heck… why not? Jason had a goal of finishing in 45 minutes. I did not want to commit to that time, but¬†was committed to finishing.

During the show I was recently in, I talked to one of the cast members who has been doing a lot of running and biking over the past couple years. I told him about the little training I had done, and about my struggles to maintain a running pace. My stamina was terrible! Even though I didn’t think I was very fast compared to other people I had seen at the gym, he told me I was running too fast. His advice was to take the speed down a bit, and shoot for small goals – running for x number of minutes, or one mile, whatever. My goal while Jason and I did our 5K was to run for one mile straight. I set it at 4.8, really more of a jog, but one I thought I could maintain. I was able to maintain a speed between 4.8 and 5 MPH for an entire mile, then walked (at a fast pace) for a short while. I jogged for a half mile, and walked a little more. I was able to keep the¬†intervals of jogging and fast walking going for the entire 3.2 miles. The last half a mile was tough,¬†but I kept going.

In the end, I finished in 42 minutes, 34 seconds. This was under the 45 minutes that I didn’t think I’d make in the first place! That means I averaged 4.53 MPH for 3.2 miles!! I can’t walk that fast, which means that I officially did it! I ran a 5K! The best part? I beat Jason by 20 seconds!!

Today, Jason and I got our medals and shirts from the Yellowstone Virtual 5K. This race raised money for Yellowstone National Park, which we loved when we went a couple years ago. It was a good cause for a first race. The medal was based on the Grand Prismatic Spring, and was much more beautiful than it looked online. The shirts were great quality too! I look forward to wearing it.

Jason and I, showing off our swag!

This summer, Today, Jason and I plan on doing a couple more. Not sure if they will all be virtual races (which feel like less pressure), or if I will run a race with other people at the same time, but I will definitely do more.

 

White Bear Lake Lion’s Club Show 2017

Sleeping With the Television On – our opening number. Thank you to Jen Goplen for this great photo!

This past weekend, I had the privilege of being a part of the 71st annual White Bear Lake Lion’s Club Show. This is the local Lion’s Club‘s largest fundraiser each year. All the proceeds go back to the community in the form of scholarships, books for schools, food for the food shelf, etc.

My character, Heidi Bomboozala.

This was my third year being in this show. The title was “Lost in TV Land 2.” It was about a man, Herman, who has been disrespectful to his wife by spending too much time golfing and watching TV. The Spirit of Neglected Housewives took Herman through some of his favorite old shows to teach him about respecting his wife. ¬†My role this year was to play a¬†female villain from the show Get Smart.¬†I was also a backup dancer in two other scenes – M.A.S.H. and The Munsters. This was a fun show to be a part of, despite quite a bit of down time in Act 1.

3 out of 4 of the members of the makeup and hair crew. Grace, Jen, and Kari.

 

 

 

My daughter joined in the fun this year by being part of the hair and makeup crew. This was perfect for her, because she loves doing makeup and hair, and didn’t have the same time commitment as those of us “acting” in the show. There were a few makeup changes mid-show, and it took the whole team to help get them done on time. Almost every scene of the show had at least one person wearing a wig. When they weren’t doing makeup changes, the group was helping prepare wigs, helping people put them on, etc. Shayna (not pictured) led the team. I think they all had as much fun being behind the scenes, as we all did on stage! Every time I was in the hall where they were set up, I heard a lot of laughing!

Scott E. aka Herman Munster. This was one of the main makeup jobs that needed to be applied mid-show, and then again before the end.

One of my favorite things about being a part of the Lion’s Club Show, is all the friendships made. The people involved in this show are mainly Lions (or friends/family members of Lions). They enjoy serving the community. During the rehearsals, we heard over and over how “we want to put on a good show, and make people laugh.” The focus is always on raising as much as we can, so the Lions Club would have more money to give back. Not only do most of the people in this show have a “heart of servitude”, they are genuinely pretty great people! I enjoy spending all the hours of rehearsals and dance practices with them. We all laugh a lot!!

Kathy, Suzie, and I. We all tap dance together, and participate in the show together. Both women are huge inspirations to me to keep on moving, no matter how old I may get. The best part? They are ALWAYS smiling!

In the show this year were: people I have only met and spent time with during show season (some¬†I had watched in shows when I was younger); women I tap dance with; one woman I danced with in Jr. High (and her niece that used to dance with Grace); one guy I graduated from high school with; and lots of family members of people I went to high school with. I will miss the hours we all spent working on the show, dancing, and laughing together. I’m already looking forward to being a part of next year’s show!

After the Friday night show, the cast traditionally goes out for a karaoke party. This year, it was at The Stadium. There was lots of singing, dancing, some poker playing by the teenage¬†boys (not for money), and a few other shenanigans. I don’t think anyone there didn’t have fun!

On Saturday night, a few of us brought all the teens out for Pies and Fries at Baker’s Square. I think this was the third year we did this. There was a lot of laughing coming from their table. I think they had fun!

 

Next March, if you want to laugh, and see a fun show, please consider coming to see us! It is usually the first weekend in March, at Central Middle School in White Bear Lake. Laughing for a great cause… what better way to spend a couple of hours?

2015 Was a Great Year

All the spouses and friends who came along on SQL Cruise.

All the spouses and friends who came along on SQL Cruise.

At the end of the year, we often reflect back on the year gone by, and dream about what the new year will hold. Overall,2015 was pretty great! We went on a few vacations, participated in new adventures, and made new friends. Here are some of the highlights of the year:

SQL Cruise

My mojito tasting partners on the cruise!

My mojito tasting partners!

In January, Jason and I went on SQL Cruise. We took a Norwegian Cruise¬†to St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Nassau, Bahamas. During our days at sea, Jason was in class, learning new things about SQL, while I sat on the deck reading in the sun, or “tasting” mojitos with a few of the other wives. We got to spend the week with old friends, and made some new ones.

At a beach side cafe on St. Maarten with Jason. So beautiful!

At a beach side cafe on St. Maarten with my husband, Jason. So beautiful!

My favorite day of the cruise was our day in St. Maarten. I’m pretty sure it’s the most beautiful place I have EVER visited! I did, however, learn that the “nudists” aren’t always as well hidden as I might have expected.

 

WBL Lions’ Club Show – Peter’s Pants

Here are all the Lost Children from the Lions Club Show.

Here are all the Lost Children from the Lions Club Show.

Last year was my first time being a part of the White Bear Lake Lion’s Club Annual Show. The title last year was “Peter’s Pants” (loosely based on “Peter Pan”). Some of my closest friends and their families have been involved with the Lion’s Club’s largest annual fundraiser for years. I have been wanting to be a part of it for many years, and finally made it work! My role was as one of the Lost Children. It was a very fun role with lots of singing and dancing. I made some great new friends being part of this show, and got to spend time with many old friends I don’t get to see very often.

Grace and a few of her Teen Company team mates dancing in the Lions Club Show.

Grace and a few of her Teen Company team mates dancing in the Lions Club Show.

I also got to watch Grace dance in the show with the Lake Area Dance Center dancers for her 2nd year. This time though, I got to watch from backstage.

 

Grace in her solo costume at StarQuest.

Grace in her solo costume at Hall Of Fame.

Grace’s 1st solo – Billie Jean

Grace did her first ever solo last year! She did a tap solo to the Vitamin String¬†Quartet’s version of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean.¬†It was so amazing to watch her perform all on her own in a group of top competitors in tap! She did very well. While she did not place in any of the competitions, she got a platinum score at two competitions, and high golds at the rest. Doing a solo really helped Grace grow as a tap dancer too. It was a great experience for her.

Participating in my first recital for LADC

Here we were, dancing in the recital!

Here we were, dancing in the recital!

I have been taking the adult tap classes at Lake Area Dance Center for about four years. This past year, we finally participated in the recital! It was both nerve-wracking and exciting! It had been several years since I had been in a recital… I don’t know that I’ll ever not get nervous! I had a lot of fun dancing in the recital with teacher, Miss Maria, and several friends (most of whom were also in the Lion’s Club Show). We danced to Lady Madonna, by the Beatles. In the same shows I danced in, I also got to watch my son dance in his first tap dance, and perform his 3rd hip hop dance. ūüôā

Being asked to teach summer school

I was asked to co-teach summer school this past year in our district’s Kindergarten Readiness Preschool ¬†(KRP) program. I taught at Evergreen Park World Cultures Community School. KRP¬†is a 4 day program, to which children are bused each day. They ate breakfast, and we had preschool. We had a playground that we got to go on every day (something I miss at my site). It was a lot of fun to teach in a new setting with a teacher I have not yet had the opportunity to teach with. I am hoping to have this opportunity again next summer.

Enjoying the view at Lake Vermillion.

Enjoying the view at Lake Vermillion.

Vermillion

We made our annual trip to Lake Vermillion to Jason’s family’s home on the lake. It’s always a fun long weekend with our family, as well as the in-laws, and all the cousins.

We spent our time playing games (both board games, and card games), fishing, hanging out by the fire, jet skiing, swimming, sitting in the sauna, etc.

The¬†kids¬†spent¬†most of the days catching crayfish, swimming, playing games, and enjoying their time together. At night, when they were not hanging out at the fire, or playing a competitive game of SkipBo, they would play flashlight tag…

 

20 Year High School Reunion

It’s hard to believe, but yes, it’s been 20 years since I graduated high school. We had our 20 year reunion this past summer. I¬†really enjoyed¬†catching up with people I haven’t seen in years. I also got to see many friends I still see on a regular basis, and/or that I keep in touch with via facebook.

Yellowstone

Our family at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.

Our family at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.

I’ve written quite a bit about our Yellowstone¬†adventure this past summer. You can read some of the highlights here. We went through South Dakota’s Custer State Park, to Devil’s tower, then on to Yellowstone. We had a great trip, despite having all 5 kids packed into an SUV for hours on end!

 

Michael competing, so much improvement! 1st place in both divisions (Fall). Up to Advanced Brown Belt

174I have really enjoyed watching my son, Michael, compete in karate this year. His first tournament of this past year, he took first place in both form and sparring. It was awesome! He also got his Advanced Brown Belt this fall. Next up, black belt – quite the accomplishment!

 

Grace’s first high school musical

Grace was in her first high school musical, Nice Work, If You Can Get It. She played the role of a flapper girl. She discovered that she loves theater as much as she loves dance! I have always known musical theater would be her thing! The show was a lot of fun. The theater did an incredible job putting it on!096

 

Chosen to play the¬†bride in the Lion’s Club Show – loosely based on Tony & Tina’s wedding

Starting tomorrow, we begin rehearsing for this year’s¬†Lion’s Club Show. It is called Ole and Lena’s Wedding. It is loosely based on the show Tony and Tina’s Wedding.¬†I am playing Lena (the bride)! YIKES!!! I’m both nervous and excited, but mostly, I feel completely honored to have been chosen for the role!

It’s going to be a great show. You won’t regret it if you come check it out! The show will be March 3-5. Follow the link above for ticket information.

 

2016 is starting out with a busy rehearsal schedule, followed by show weekend, then competition season, then, who knows… what I do know, is I plan to have just as great a year!

 

Nice Work, If You Can Get It

My Grace, in her flapper costume. Photo by Patrick Timmons (Cookie McGee in the show).

Grace, in her flapper costume. Photo by Patrick Timmons (Cookie McGee in the show).

My daughter is in her very first high school musical, Nice Work, If You Can Get It. This past weekend was opening weekend. I went twice. It was a great show!

I didn’t realize that White Bear Lake’s Theater Department was well known for being so incredible! Several people (from other districts) have told me that was the case – recognition well deserved!

The casting, costumes, choreography, singing, live music, set, effects… all fantastic! The roles were perfectly cast!

Everyone involved worked so hard. The cast alone was practicing every day after school from about 3:30-anywhere from 9-10:30 at night. I can’t imagine all the hours the directors, crew, costume moms, music directors, set construction crew, etc. put in on top of that!

Here is a group shot, taken by Kathy Burnham.

Here is a group shot, taken by Kathy Burnham.

I went to both shows on Saturday, and heard several comments that are a huge congratulations¬†to everyone involved! Here are some of the things I heard: “The costumes are fantastic!” “Where did they get those great costumes?” “How did they find so many kids who could dance?” “I can’t believe these are high school kids.” “They make it look so fun!” “Great singing!” “Wow, all the colors really pop off the stage!”

What impressed me about the show (on top of all that), was that even when things went less than perfect, the cast and crew continued on without a hitch.

Nice Work If You Can Get It is¬†a prohibition era, boy meets girl comedy. There is a lot of singing and dancing¬†with¬†bootleggers, flappers, and a clueless pretty boy. It is a hilarious show, and SO MUCH FUN!! I am looking forward to seeing it one more time before it closes. I’d recommend you do the same.

Another fun shot of the cast taken by Kathy Burnham.

Another fun shot of the cast taken by Kathy Burnham.

There are still three shows left: Thursday, 11/19; Friday 11/20 and Saturday 11/21. All shows are at 7 PM. You can purchase tickets at the following link: https://apps.vendini.com.

 

Side note:

088

This was probably my favorite of the headpieces I made. This one was for my daughters flapper costume.

While I was not as involved as I would have liked to have been (due to lack of time) in this production, I did get to help with headpieces. I had a lot of fun being creative with the miscellaneous supplies that were offered to us! The moms were pretty great too. That was definitely something I would do again!

Our Western Adventure – Cowboy Dinner

Some of the kids and I on the semi-covered wagon, heading out to the Cowboy Cookout.

Some of the kids and I on the semi-covered wagon, heading out to the Cowboy Cookout.

Our last evening in Yellowstone, we went to the Cowboy Cookout.

There were two options available; we could either ride horses to the cookout, or take a wagon ride. A couple of the kids didn’t want to do the horseback rides, so we went on the wagon ride. It was a lot of fun!

We got there plenty early to get checked in, go to the bathroom, etc. This was a good idea, since the line was quite long for the bathrooms. Then, we waited while they got all the horses hooked up, etc. One of the wranglers gave us some important info (such as “DON’T RUN!! It attracts bears”) that we needed to know before heading out. Then, they told us which wagons to go to, and we were off for a 25 minute or so wagon ride out to the cookout site.

Our fantastic story-teller of a wrangler.

Our fantastic story-teller of a wrangler.

Our wrangler was awesome! The whole way to the cookout, he entertained us/gave us a history lesson us with the story of Truman Everts, a man who was stranded in the park for 37 days, before Yellowstone was a National Park, or was fully explored. He got about halfway through the story on the way there, and finished on the way back. He was a great story-teller. So great, that after dinner on the cookout, he was telling “cowboy stories” around the campfire until it was time to go back.

The cookout food was delicious! It was a buffet with steak and all sorts of side dishes. My favorite was the apple cobbler. YUM! After a week of eating sandwiches for lunch every day, it was a welcome meal, and oh, so good! There were several choices of pop, lemonade, and “cowboy coffee.” The coffee was made over the campfire. Not sure how they did it, or what was different, but it was my first real coffee all week, and it was good!

I love that Grace is laughing so hard at this cowboy story!

I love that Grace is laughing so hard at this cowboy story!

During dinner, there was a man and woman playing guitar, singing cowboy songs. After dinner, the entertainment moved around the huge fire pit, for more songs, and the cowboy stories I referred to earlier.

Overall, this was a really fun time. The whole family enjoyed it. I would definitely go again, though, next time, I want to do the horseback ride!

Side note

On the way to the cookout, we drove up¬†Mt. Washburn. The road going up was treacherous. I was glad I wasn’t driving. I’m sure Jason wished I was! Despite the extremely poor road going up, it was a gorgeous view at the top. I’d say it was worth it!

The petrified tree

The petrified tree

We also stopped to see the petrified tree. It was cool to see, only because we had never seen one before. Other than that, it was kind of sad. It was fenced off so people wouldn’t steal parts of it…

AMAZING!!

On the way back to our campsite, we saw the most amazing double rainbow any of us had ever seen. The entire sky was purple. The rainbow made a complete arc across the sky from end to end, with the brightest, most amazing colors ever! I kind of understand where the guy in that famous internet video was coming from… I think we all sounded about the same. It was a perfect way to end our awesome Yellowstone vacation!

This picture does not do the beautiful rainbow justice, but it gives an idea.

This picture does not do the beautiful rainbow justice, but it gives an idea.

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