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!


We Adopted Two Kittens!

Anyone who knew me growing up, knows I always had multiple dogs and cats. We showed Samoyeds, and usually had 2 or 3. We also had at least 2 cats most of the time. I could never imagine a house with no animals. For a good part of my adult life, I had no pets. It always seemed like there was something missing.

When Grace was 3 or 4, we got a cat, Snugglebug. Grace loved the cat, but was allergic. The cat also started peeing and pooping in the house when we weren’t home. We realized at that time, that we just weren’t home enough to give the cat the attention it needed and deserved. My mom helped us find another home for her.

About 7 years ago, I got Duke, a black lab mix. We have thoroughly enjoyed having him as part of our family.

Recently, my husband started talking about getting a cat. I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t. We talked, and decided we wanted a female kitten, preferably with short hair… I started looking around, and found out it’s harder to find kittens to adopt than you would expect. I looked online, and I went to several Petsmart stores, since a friend of mine said she saw kittens at one. I stopped at a local Humane Society, and found no kittens. On a website of a local shelter, they said they have adoption events at Petsmart locations on Saturdays from 11-2. After over a week of searching, we decided to take a chance, and see what they had for animals at the adoption event.

20161231_114216When we first got there, there were several crates lined up with young cats. They were all so cute! As we were looking at them, I jokingly said to my husband, “Can’t we just take them all home?” He looked at me, and said, “Do you want 2?” Again, I thought he was kidding. Again, he wasn’t. There was one female (with long hair), and one handsome male that really grabbed our attention. We ended up with both of them. We named them Luke and Leia, because we are that geeky!

The kittens are from different litters, but are only a day apart in age. They were fostered in the same home, so are siblings for all intents and purposes. The agency that we adopted from was St. Francis of Assissi Animal Rescue of Forest Lake. They are a foster-based shelter. The family that fostered these kittens was there to answer all our questions about them. The foster mom, Tia, obviously loved the kittens. She had had the girl kitten since birth, and got the male a short while later. We are very lucky that they were in such a great home for the first 3-4 months of their lives!

Luke and Leia seem very happy in their new home!

Luke and Leia seem very happy in their new home!

Both kittens are very cuddly, playful, and adapted very well to their new home. They haven’t been at all nervous or shy like the shelter thought they could be. They have explored the house, found favorite places to lay, and They are not afraid of the dog. We are taking our time introducing them, using only short “meet and greets” a few times a day for the next couple days. The female cat seems very interested in him. We’ll see how it goes as they get to spend more and more time together.

I am glad we got two kittens… they entertain each other, and us! With 2 adults, 5 kids (though one spends most of his time away at college), 1 dog, and 2 cats, our house now feels complete! 🙂

12 Days of Fitness

Lifetime Fitness had a “12 Days of Fitness” challenge. If you completed all 12 workouts, you’d be entered into a chance for a Spa services. Since I could really use a massage, I went for it. In the 14 days of the challenge, I managed to complete 8 of the workouts. I also had a personal training session with Kevin, who showed me how to properly use kettlebells, and showed me some of the equipment listed on some of the workouts, so I would know what to do to complete them… I also attended a Kettlebell class as part of the 60 Day Challenge. That class kicked my butt, and I decided to let my body rest for the next 2 days (during which time, I completed all of my Christmas shopping, and baked most of my Christmas cookies).
Am I disappointed that I didn’t get all 12 workouts done? A little, but I still feel really good about what I accomplished during that time! I tried new things I previously wouldn’t have. I took pictures of some of the workouts that I enjoyed, so that I can do them again in the future.
I’m not going to lose a bunch of weight right now… I’m working towards a healthier me, I’m working to maintain where I am at, I am working towards building up my strength. Once the holidays are over, I will get back to focusing on what I’m eating again, while continuing to work out. I might not get skinny again (heck, when I was, people were offering me a sandwich everywhere I went, and that’s annoying). That said, I don’t ever want to get to the point where I am disgusted by what I see in the mirror – not ever again!!
The journey is what it’s about, and that journey is still going. 🙂

The MyFitnessPal App

As part of my journey to get in shape, and be more healthy, I have been using is the MyFitnessPal app. It’s a free app in the Play Store. My husband uses the paid version, which just gives him a few more benefits. For me, the free version is good enough. Here’s how I use the app:

  1. First, I entered my goals, and it calculated how many calories/day I should eat.
  2. I enter my food and exercise every day, and it keeps track of how many calories I have left, or went over for the day. What’s nice, is that it adds calories to what I can eat, based on the amount of exercise I do. For someone like me, who loves to eat, that’s great motivation to work out!
  3. screenshot_20160911-222452The app breaks down what I’ve eaten into percentages of protein, carbs, and fats. It tells me what I should aim for, which is very helpful. What I’ve found, is that I don’t eat enough protein. Using the macros on the app has gotten me to pay attention to balancing out the foods I’m eating, so that I get enough protein, or watch my carb consumption in the next meal when I’ve had way too many already that day.
  4. It also tells me how I’m doing on getting enough vitamins/nutrients. I’ve discovered, that even though I’m eating a banana every day, I’m not getting enough potassium. That is one that’s hard to find decent supplements for, but I’m now taking multivitamins, as well as some other supplements (such as flax seed oil – which I will be switching to fish oil when these are out). I said in a previous post that I didn’t want to rely on supplements to feel better, and that’s still true. I am, however, trying to make sure I get enough nutrients to keep my body able to work hard. So far, it’s paying off. 
  5. Finally, by entering food into my food diary, I am also educating myself about my food intake. For example, when I go to Caribou Coffee and get a piece of cinnamon coffee cake, and a Campfire Mocha with skim, I am consuming about 1/3 the number of calories I should be having in an entire day. That is generally what I would have 3 or more days per week as a snack for much of last year. No wonder I gained so much weight! This does not mean I am going to quit going to Caribou (it’s my favorite), it simply means I will pay attention to how often I am going there. I will most likely save it for a day I have worked out, or am planning on eating a lot of protein (to balance out the carbs and fat in the mocha).

As a bonus, MyFitnessPal syncs with my fitbit. When I walk a lot of steps, but haven’t necessarily “exercised”, it gives me a calorie credit based on the number of steps I have walked. Not only that, but my water consumption, weight loss or gain, etc. updates in both apps as I enter them (regardless of which app I initially enter it into).

Similar to much of social media, you can connect with your friends on the app. The only one I am “friends” with right now, is my husband, Jason. We can “like” or leave comments on each other’s progress with exercise, weight loss, etc. A feature that I have taken advantage of, is that I can see Jason’s diary each day. If we both ate the same meal, and he entered his first, I can just copy it right over to my own food diary. This comes in especially handy when it’s a custom meal that he entered the recipe for.

The final feature that comes to mind that I use often are the health and nutrition articles that are available on the app. When I first open the app, and let it know that I want to track my food, exercise, water consumption, etc, it opens my “newsfeed”. This shows me not only my notifications/progress, but Jason’s as well. Interspersed, are useful articles. None of them are too long, and most that I have read, have great information.

I would recommend this app to anyone trying to get a handle on their eating, or just trying to improve their weight or fitness level.

A Scary Evening at Children’s Hospital.

This was written on Monday of this last week. I didn’t realize I never published it:

“Tonight was a scary night.

When I got out of the class I was taking at the gym, I checked my phone, and saw 5 missed calls from the adult that was at a community pool with Michael and his friends. She left a message, but I didn’t check it, I just called her right back. The first thing she said is, “He’s in the ambulance, but the bleeding’s mostly stopped.” I asked what happened, and she told me that she had just recently seen him do a flip into the pool, and she asked him not to do it again. He did, and hit his head on the side of the pool. He had gashed his head pretty good. They wanted me to come right away. You can imagine how panicked I was!

I left the gym, and headed to the pool right away. While I was on my way, my daughter called me, frantic, because a Sheriff had come to the house to see if I was there. They were concerned that they couldn’t get a hold of me. Apparently, the sheriff got to our house right before I got a hold of the mom that was with Michael. I went to the one I thought they were going to, but they were actually at a different pool. When I got to the right one, I saw an ambulance, two sheriff cars, Renee, the mom Michael was there with, and another friend of hers that I knew from the dance studio.

Despite the annoying collar on his neck, Michael was in great spirits.

Despite the annoying collar on his neck, Michael was in great spirits.

Michael was in the back of the ambulance with a collar on his neck, a heart rate monitor on his finger, and a huge gash on the top of his head. The paramedics told me he was going to need staples or stitches at the very least. They didn’t think he had a neck injury, but they had to put a collar on him as a precaution. The paramedic told me Michael didn’t have a headache or nausea. He could remember everything that happened, my phone number, and our address. That was a good sign. One of the paramedics told me that Michael was a riot. He said he’d love to have him in his ambulance all night!

They asked me if I wanted to take him to the hospital, or if they should. I asked them what would be the safest for Michael. We all agreed the ambulance would be the safest, just in case anything were to happen. They asked what hospital I preferred, I asked what they thought. They said they’d recommend Children’s Hospital, but ultimately, it was my choice. I’m so glad I listed to them!

I was shortly behind the ambulance, as I had to meet my husband to switch vehicles. I was driving a loaner that had to be brought back to the shop, and his vehicle had to be picked up tonight. When I got to the hospital, I walked the halls between the ramp, and Children’s Hospital. That part was very confusing, since there are two hospitals that share the hallways, and I had no idea where I was. One nice nurse not only told me the way, but came with me, all the way to the emergency desk!

I got to Michael’s room, and he was happily watching Tomorrowland. Several different people came in to talk to Michael (and me). All of them introduced themselves, told us what their role was, why they were there, and exactly what they were going to do. Every step of the way, we knew what to expect. The “doctor teacher” that came in to explain to Michael the procedure of getting stitches was amazing! She showed him all of the equipment that was going to be used, and how it would be used. When he said the word “stitches”, she asked if he was comfortable using that word, and then did so herself. She used very child-friendly terms, and made him feel ok about it (even though he was a bit nervous). Before long, the two of them were talking about super heroes, both Marvel and DC, as well as the Suicide Squad, and what makes them cool.

The Dr. was pretty fantastic too. She was very interactive with Michael – they all were. She explained why she wanted to get an x-ray before she took his collar off. He really didn’t like that thing. He’s too active a kid to be restrained like that.

Sasha, the technician who actually did his stitches was very confident, and didn’t even waver despite how much worse the injury looked once it was cleaned up, and ready to stitch. It was much worse (deeper and longer) than we originally thought. I looked at it before she stitched it, and she asked if I really wanted to see it. It was pretty gross. I don’t know how people do that job! By this time, Michael had switched to Big Hero 6, and she was talking with him about it while she was applying 3 layers of stitches to the top of his head.

When we finally left, he had gotten a popsicle, which he was pretty excited about. As we were trying to find our way back to the ramp I parked in, we happened to cross paths with that same nurse that had walked me to the ER in the first place. She walked us all the way to the door, and told us how to find our ramp. Twice in one night, she went out of her way to be helpful!

Everyone we met at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, MN was wonderful! Not that I ever want to have to go there again, but if we did have the need, I wouldn’t hesitate. Thank you to the doctors, nurses, x-ray tech, and everyone else we dealt with. You helped this Mama, and more importantly, her son, through a stressful and scary night!”

This was taken the day after Michael got his stitches.

This was taken the day after Michael got his stitches.

Now that a few days have passed, his head wound appears to be healing up pretty well. His stitches are looking good, and he’s back to his old self.

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!


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