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August 31, 2014

Dani Turns Eleven Today!

Eleven years ago, my second child was born. Dani was my easiest labor and delivery of all of my children. Going from one to two children at home was a fairly easy transition. I remember looking at Craig about ten days into it and we both said, "Whoa, this time is so much easier!"

And it was.

The shirt, hat and boots were birthday shopping treasures from Grandma
For one thing, we'd done this whole parenting of a newborn thing and so we knew what to expect. We knew that if Dani cried longer than thirty seconds, life was not going to end. We knew that she'd eventually sleep all night (actually, she began doing this very quickly...about 3 weeks old) and we knew that trying to get her to eat cereal at 4 months old wasn't necessarily the ticket to that full night of sleep.

Being Dani's mom has been easier on me than being Sarah's mom. I have mentioned before how different everything is for the oldest kid. It seems there is a microscope to examine every decision with the oldest child to see if it is right or wrong so that we can adjust, if needed, for the younger children. Something I have learned in thirteen years of motherhood is that there's not much I can do about that -- there's a part of me that knows I can't stop it no matter how hard I try. With Dani, the same can be said for how much pressure is lifted. Because I've over-analyzed my decisions before, I know it's not worth it and I simply allow things to happen with Dani much more than I can ever seem to do with Sarah. (This is a benefit all the younger children seem to enjoy.)

With Dani, I don't think about whether it's time to have "the talk" with her, knowing she probably has all the information she needs already, courtesy of a big sister. I don't think about Dani going off to college or hitting that point in her life nearly as much as I do with Sarah, and even then, I don't think all that hard about the logistics of it. I just figure it will happen when it happens and we'll figure it out at the time.

I think Dani's personality reflects this more laid-back attitude in that she enjoys living in the moment. Of all my kids, she is the one that I think enjoys being whatever age she is, or fully lives every experience of the grade she is in school. I love that about her. And she's always been that way. Just last year, I thought I should address some more "grown-up" topics with Dani and as I led into the conversation, she simply said, "Mom, I don't need to know that stuff -- I'm just a kid!!"
Her first heat winner this summer was classic! She was EXCITED!!
It's hard to think of Dani being eleven years old for a couple of reasons. First of all, the time flies so quickly...it's hard to believe we've experienced this many years of that girl. Secondly, kids (especially girls) seem to grow up so quickly these days; it almost seems like age eleven is a more mature age than I see in Dani. She is still quite taken with Taylor Swift, and what some might call "little girl fiction" (as opposed to trying to jump into Young Adult Lit) and prefers her girl friendships and eschews anything that is remotely close to a boyfriend. Yet, I read articles that about how to handle Tween dating and I hear from my doctor that it's not uncommon for girls to be sexually active at this age (usually in other socio-economic or different home situations).  My Dani is so innocent with regard to that!
One of my favorite recent pictures with Dani (and with her cousin, Jenna)
I think I like to forget about those sorts of things because Dani enjoys being a kid. She enjoys her innocence and she doesn't try to figure things out that will rob her of it. I remember at Christmastime last year, I took her to see "Saving Mr. Banks" (Spoiler alert) and the part where the flash back included the girl's mother wading out into the lake and she might drown herself...and the girl was following her trying to stop her -- I was so worried that scene would end in such a way I'd have to have a talk with Dani about adult depression and suicide right then. The scene was saved (in a sense) and the movie didn't go all the way there. But some other things have happened to bring that about anyway in the last few months. I worry about having to talk to Dani about those things because she relishes her innocence. Not many girls these days recognize when they are innocent and work to protect it. But my Dani does.

So, as she turns eleven, I hope she continues to enjoy this last year before middle school. I know that the day will come when her surroundings and experiences will chip away at that innocence. Somehow, I have a peace knowing that as it happens, she will be ready. Because that's how she rolls.

Happy Birthday, Dani!!

August 29, 2014

7 Quick Takes 86

Thank you to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting the 7QT.

--- 1 ---
I started seeing a chiropractor a couple of weeks ago. Why? (you may ask...I may answer.)

First of all, the coaches at our CrossFit box recommended this particular practice a few months ago. I started considering it because about 5 years ago, my neck started popping on me unexpectedly. And not just a little pop here and there, either. Like a head-jarring, "Oh my gosh that hurt so bad!" popping and always without warning. I liken it to being beamed in the head with a bludger when you're totally not looking (*Harry Potter Quidditch reference there, in case you have no idea what a bludger is). When it started 5 years ago, it happened maybe once every few months. But last winter, it was down to a few times a week and it was really bothering me. But I still didn't head to a chiropractor.

Then, Craig did a little something to his back during one workout. And the next morning, he could barely move to get out of bed. It was horrible. I felt helpless. He decided to see the chiropractor and it was fixed with (basically) one visit/adjustment. I believe he went back for a second visit, but he hasn't needed to return AND he worked out the afternoon after the first adjustment (after being forced into a week off CrossFit) and hasn't looked back.

So, I decided to go and I'm so happy I did. The first adjustment was incredible because it included work on my hips, knees, back, neck and wrist. I felt AWESOME after the first adjustment. And then I was a little sore (he told me I would be) and I went back a second time...and from there, we put a program in place where I will have several visits and eventually work into a maintenance arrangement (if I want/need it) of once per month.

The good news? My neck is not popping anymore. Well, not unless it's the chiropractor doing it. The first couple of adjustments were hard, but released a lot of pressure in my head/neck area. Now when he adjusts, it is only a small number of pops AND, my neck isn't popping without warning. I also notice that squatting is more comfortable and I'm able to get down further, my runs have been smoother and easier to recover from, and after sitting in my office chair for the past two years not noticing how uncomfortable it was, I needed to make some adjustments after seeing the chiropractor because I couldn't sit like that anymore!

Overall: WIN!!

--- 2 ---
The Parent "Back-to-School" night was last night. We have four in school this year: 8th, 5th, 3rd grades and Kindergarten. Craig and I tackled it together -- divide and conquer. So he visited Dominic's (Kindergarten) and Dani's (5th grade) classrooms and I took care of Sarah's (Middle School) and Helen (3rd grade).

Call me one who sees through rose-colored glasses if you must, but I am really excited about this year for my kids. Sarah's been really hitting the books hard from the start and seems to be keen on getting on that "A" Honor roll from the get-go; Dani has already read 5 books that count toward her forty for the school year (yeah, she's a speed reader) AND spent time outside of homework time actually studying for quizzes; Helen is reading a bit more (not her favorite thing to do) and is getting a grip on how to take her time on homework so as not to frustrate her mom :); and Dominic is just enjoying being in "real school" as he calls it. The teachers are all great and seem to be excited to teach and share with the kids. Overall, it's been a good start to the school year.

--- 3 ---
About Dominic. I applied to have him tested for the school district's gifted education program. Granted, Kindergarten seems a little early to do that sort of thing, but Dominic has been reading since he was three years old and his level of reading and comprehension is very high for a five-year-old, so I thought it might be a good idea just to check.

Well, the test they use does verbal and non-verbal skills, so math and puzzles were part of the test and he didn't do as well on those. No, that's the wrong way to say that. He scored in (only) the high average on that part. And...he scored right where I would have expected him to with regard to reading and comprehension: 96th percentile.

So, really, the testing only confirmed what we already knew: Dominic is an advanced reader. Yay Dominic!! He didn't qualify for the gifted education program, but that's okay. He's never done a lot of math and only just recently (in the last 6-8 months) shown any added interest in math.

--- 4 ---
All week I have been doing CrossFit before work. I have to give a shout out to my awesome teenager for this. The reason is because in order for me to go do CrossFit before work, I need her to get up in case anything happens that needs to be handled while I'm gone since the little ones are still sleeping. And so she got up at 5:00 a.m. Monday through Wednesday this week to shower, eat her breakfast, do any extra studying and basically be awake just in case so that I could go workout before work. My after-work schedule was crazy this week and workouts wouldn't have happened without getting them in before work. What a sweetheart, that Sarah, helping her mom out like that!

--- 5 ---
Dani turns 11 on Sunday. Whoa.

I love the 11th birthday, because it always falls on the actual day of the week on which the kid was born. Dani was born on Sunday, August 31, 2003. It was Labor Day weekend and it rained all. weekend. long. And not just spitting here and there, either. It was a lot like what I imagine a monsoon rainshower would be like.

That summer had been actually very dry. Craig and I had been one of the few on our street who watered all summer to keep our grass green. When we left for the hospital, our lawn was green but everyone else's was brown. It rained so much that weekend, that when we returned home on Tuesday, everyone's lawn was green and you couldn't tell that only a few of us had watered all summer. I remember being miffed about that, haha.
--- 6 ---
In case you missed it, I'll be blogging my participation in our CrossFit box's Paleo Challenge. I'm really looking forward to seeing if and how my body composition changes. The few times I've followed Paleo for a period of time, I haven't measured before hand and I've never actually been in-shape and then done it to see if I get even more in-shape. Should be fun!!
--- 7 ---
Sarah got to go to a Royals game this weekend. It was so nice for her to get invited by a good friend to enjoy the evening. It was also Irish American Heritage night at the ball park, so there were some other fun activities going on. She got to see a great game, too!

I sure hope the Royals can keep this going and win the division, or at least make the playoffs. Our city has waited a long time to have a relevant team again! Let's go Royals!!

Sarah's little photo-collage she put together

Have a great 3-day weekend!!

Be sure to go visit Jen Fulwiler at Conversion Diary!



August 28, 2014

30-day Paleo Challenge Part One (the part before)

On Tuesday, the 30-day Paleo challenge at the CrossFit box begins. I signed up for it and today I had my body composition completed. As you all know, I lost weight and got in shape over the last 10 months attending Weight Watchers At Work meetings and CrossFitting. I am die-hard in favor of Weight Watchers. So much so that I will still be tracking my food I eat during this Paleo-challenge and adding up the PointsPlus values as I report to you throughout. That way, you can see (and I can see) that Paleo and Weight Watchers are compatible (I know they must be).

Photo Credit

Craig does the grocery shopping, so I reminded him that on Paleo, I'll be eating mostly protein (in the form of lean meat, seafood and eggs) and vegetables with some fruit thrown in. Nothing processed, no grains, no dairy, no sugar (artificial or otherwise) will be a part of my diet as I complete this challenge. 

One tip I picked up from my "Quick Weight Loss" days that I still incorporate every so often is a 3-day "preparation" phase where I eat only lean protein (usually in the form of beef) and green vegetables (usually in the form of romaine lettuce) and one orange in a day. I do this for three days. The purpose of it is to cause the body to use stored fat through metabolism and it kind of kick-starts things. I always shed a few water-weight pounds and it gets my mind straight for "clean" eating. 

The other preparatory thing I have done is get off the diet coke. This is a process because that nasty aspartame gives me horrible headaches as I am getting off it. You'd think one day I'd actually stay off that nasty diet coke. Maybe this time will be the one time I stay off for good.

Here's a fun flowchart to help determine if something qualifies as Paleo:

Credit Here


Here is my body composition information.
Overall body comp is 26.2 (which I think means I am 26.2% fat? Basically, of my 162 pounds, 43 pounds is fat and 119 pounds is lean body mass. 

According to the coach measuring me, I should set a goal to lose about 4 pounds of fat and not lose any lean body mass during this challenge. To do this, I need to keep my protein intake high. She says I should have protein with each meal and snack and I should eat a good amount of protein within an hour after a workout. I have never been very good about the protein thing after my WODs, so I am going to focus on that during this challenge.

I was actually pleasantly surprised when she mentioned I really only need to focus on losing about 4 pounds of fat and that I need to be sure and eat more protein to keep my lean body mass. I know I've been working hard to maintain my weight and continue to improve my fitness, but sometimes I'd start to think I was losing something -- even if I wasn't. I'm sure it's my lifelong body image issues eating away at my confidence. Will that EVER go away? I have no idea. Body image issues SUCK. That is all.


Paleo tracking will start September 2. CrossFit workouts are ongoing, so I haven't stopped them and won't increase them, necessarily -- just keep doing what I've been doing in that regard. I will also keep trying to get a run or a swim or a bike ride in 1-2 times per week.

I'll keep you all posted (and keep myself accountable!) by posting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, which means I'll log multiple day food and exercise journals on the posts. I'll title them Paleo Challenge Part Two (the part during) with numbers in chronological order as we go. I hope this information will be useful to you. 

So, thanks for following along and continuing to support this healthy lifestyle I'm continuing. I love having this place to keep myself accountable and having you all cheer me on!

Until next time...

Photo Credit

August 25, 2014

Monday Mumbles - 75

Happy Monday!

As you read, I have already completed my CrossFit workout for the day and am bustling about getting my kids off to school! The routine has been reignited, thank goodness! So let's do some mumbles, shall we?

1. It was my lovely niece, Mary, who turned eight years old a week ago today. We had a fun celebration at her house yesterday. She is such a sweetie. Always good to hang out with the cousins.

2. Guess what I did this weekend?!?!

Okay, so I don't know if Blogger did the video or not...

So, here is a picture of me on an earlier attempt that wasn't recorded, climbing the rope at CrossFit on Saturday:

3. That was the first time I have ever climbed that high and I was seriously pumped afterward! I also have a pretty serious rope-burn that I'm treating with Neosporin. haha. Guess it's time to keep some knee socks in my bag!!

4. The Royals continue to hold the first place position in the A.L. Central. Pinch me. 

5. The CrossFit box is doing a 30-day Paleo Challenge. I posed the question on my Endless Strength Blog Facebook page about whether you all would like to see a day-by-day account of this sort of thing. So...would you? 

6. My thoughts are that I'd put up what I am eating day by day and then also include the workouts I am doing. I'd have an introductory or "Here We Go!" type of post where I'd disclose the results of the body composition I will do before hand and then, keep it going through the 30 day challenge. After that, I'd share the body composition results afterward, and do some sort of conclusion about it.

7. I did Paleo for about 26 days last summer. I don't think I've ever made it the full 30 days before so I am committing to it. You know what this means, right? Bu-Bye Diet Coke (again!!) Yeah...I wish I wouldn't ever start drinking that stuff ever again!

8. I think blogging it would give me the accountability I needed when I decided to blog the weight loss stuff through Weight Watchers Wednesdays. I'm just one of those people -- gotta have the accountability piece.

9. Dominic loves Kindergarten. But not the lunchroom, so much. As a matter of fact, he tells me that the whole idea of the lunch room is a "disaster." That makes me laugh. I hope he gets used to it soon!

10. Oh! I went to see a chiropractor for the first time ever last Tuesday! I really should tell you about it. I find the whole process fascinating. Yes, I'm still going, and yes, we have a plan so that I will not have to go all that often in the near future. But, I DO notice a difference both in regular daily activity and in my workouts. Like I said...fascinating.

Have a great Monday!!

August 18, 2014

Monday Mumbles - 74

Good Monday morning! Let's mumble, shall we?

1. I got all five kids off to their various places today. First I dropped Vincent off. Ms. Robin shared my joy of having the kids back to school and then said, "Next year, it will be this little guy, right?" and I admitted that it is so hard to think of him going off to preschool. He's gone to her three days a week for his whole life. I have just decided to remain in denial that the day he goes somewhere else during the day is coming. She's been my partner-momma for him and I know he'll miss her when it's time to move on (and so will I!)

2. Last night I spent time blow-drying Dani's and Helen's hair and curling Helen's with hot rollers. Only to have her wake up this morning with no curl. I guess I didn't realize her hair was that fine. So, we heated up the curling iron and got those curls going again.

3. As we got into the car to go to school, Dominic asked why both his mom and dad were taking them. He said, "I can walk in BY MYSELF!" As happy as I am that he is beyond ready to start this adventure he calls "real school," I still wanted to walk him in. So I told him that he could walk himself in for the rest of his life, but today, "Please allow Mommy and Daddy to walk you in." 

4. Harumph. Kid is already marching off to college in his brain, I bet.

5. They had a "Boohoo/Yahoo" breakfast. We stopped in. But I didn't want to stay too long because I wanted to head to CrossFit and get my workout done. I didn't need the temptation of donut holes anyway! And I don't drink Coffee. But Craig does, I think he liked the coffee.

6. I didn't sleep well last night. I woke up around 1:00 a.m. as I had the part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movie where the voice interrupts Bill and Fleur's wedding saying, "The ministry has fallen. The ministry has fallen. The Minister of Magic is dead." and then it moves to a whisper of "They are coming." For some reason that was going over and over in my head and I couldn't go back to sleep. Very annoying.

7. It didn't hurt my workout, though. Man it was tough this morning. I love the fact that I feel like such a badass after just about every CrossFit workout.

8. The kids only have a half day of school today, so I don't get the whole day to play. But that's all right. I can't wait to go pick them up (in about an hour) and hear all about the first day.

9. Sarah went to a "Back-to-School Swim Party" hosted by one of the kids in her class Saturday. It is so weird to hear her talk about the game Truth or Dare. I don't know why I ever would have thought kids would have moved on from that game by this generation. I guess there are certain constants. Anyway, here is how Sarah handled it, as I don't think she was too comfortable with participating. She said whenever someone would say, "Who's next?" she and one of her friends would back away from the group enough that no one asked them to do anything or to play, and then they just watched as the other kids would get asked a question or to do something, like jump into the pool or something like that. It all sounded pretty harmless/tame -- it sounded about like what you'd expect from 13 and 14-year-old kids. I'm glad she had fun at the party!

10. Well, here's the photo I know you all want to see -- my kiddos, back at school :)
Individual poses...
These four at St. Andrew's

I hope back-to-school has gone well for all of you.
Have a great Monday!!

August 15, 2014

7 Quick Takes 85 -- the Almost-Back-to-School Update Edition (with Pictures!)

Thank you to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting the 7QT. I haven't done one of these updates on everyone in awhile, so fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride!

--- 1 ---
Sarah starts 8th grade on Monday. How fast have the past 8 years gone anyway? Way fast, that's how. I remember walking her into Kindergarten...she was so tiny and such a sweetie. Then we changed schools in first grade and started our time in Catholic school. She was still tiny for so so long.

Pretty Girl
She is no longer tiny. She's growing into a young woman, physically, and maturing intellectually and growing spiritually. I enjoy our talks at night (whenever stuff comes up) and I have a great time watching Friends and laughing with her. I like to discuss Harry Potter and watch the movies with her. She is responsible and I am happy that others recognize this. It's been awesome to watch her land (and keep!) a regular babysitting gig.

She's playing volleyball for school right now and has a spot on a club team for when that is over. She has worked hard to get her skills up and I can't wait to see where she goes from here with volleyball. She's prepared to hit the ground running with school and try to make the A honor roll right off the bat. She's a goal-setter and a goal-attainer and that makes me crazy proud.

--- 2 ---
Dani starts 5th grade on Monday. I can't believe she will be 11 at the end of this month. I hope she enjoys this last year before middle school. She has spent all summer reading everything she can get her hands on. Dani is a speed-reader, so it doesn't take her very long to read things. She's interested in different books than Sarah. She got into the Percy Jackson books and never cared much to read Harry Potter. I have heard Dani practicing her guitar (even though we haven't had lessons this year).

Another Pretty Girl!

Swimming happened this summer was interesting for Dani as she got a taste of winning by winning her heats a few times. I am looking forward to the club team starting up again in September and getting her back in the water for practice.

--- 3 ---
Helen starts 3rd grade on Monday. Yikes! My baby girl in the upper primary grades? Helen has spent some time this summer taking swimming lessons from a friend from our parish. I put Helen in the volleyball clinic this summer and she informed me afterward that she didn't think volleyball was her thing. She really wanted to get better at swimming and give the swim team a try. Twist my arm, ha! I am ecstatic to have another kid interested in swim team. I loved it as a kid and I still love the sport and hope to watch my kids participate in it as long as they want.

How can there be so many pretty girls?
Helen likes to read a bit less than the other two, but she is interested in the Harry Potter books. She has read the first two and is working on the third. But then...I will force the break in reading those books for a couple of years. I love the Harry Potter story, but book 4 gets really dark and really serious quickly and I prefer the kids get to a bit more maturity before we tackle them.

My sister (who was a middle child) shared this on FB yesterday:
Helen's a middle kid...
I think a lot about Helen being my middle child. There's no way that girl can be forgotten, she won't allow it. She's always demanded a large amount of my attention. Even when she was the youngest of three, and the third of four, etc. So...I know many a middle child who grows up claiming they were always forgotten about and unnoticed, but I'm here to tell ya -- My Helen is not one of those.

--- 4 ---
Dominic is excited to start Kindergarten on Monday. He's been bouncing around all over the house the last few weeks asking how much closer the day has come. He is looking forward to wearing his uniform and seeing his friends and everything.

There's a silly boy...
He has read many books this summer. He loves Star Wars and so gravitates toward those when we go to the library. But, he'll sit down and read his Angry Birds Star Wars reference book, too. That boy would read an encyclopedia if it housed information he was interested in. I can't wait to watch him grow this year.

--- 5 ---
Vincent is an active three year-old. I took him in for his well-child visit and he wouldn't say a word in the doctor's presence. That kid talks it up all over the place, but won't say a word to the teacher. The little stinker!

Crazy boy!
Every time we have had Vincent in the pool this summer he has had fun bobbing underwater and jumping in. I don't think he is ready for lessons yet, though. He'll continue going to his daycare. I find I am having a hard time thinking about moving him to preschool whenever that day comes. Ms. Robin has taken care of him three days a week for just about his whole life. He loves going there. I know the day will come when he needs to go to preschool, but for now, I think I'll just choose not to think about it.
--- 6 ---
Craig is still at the casino. For a few hours last weekend, we thought that perhaps a change in role might happen, but then...the bubble popped. I mean, there will be a little change, but not much. He's been doing this work for 10 years now, and he enjoys it for the most part. But, like many of us of our generation, I think he'd like a chance to do something different, a new challenge or something.

Craig also does CrossFit and just last week got his first handstand! I hope at some point we'll be able to get some of the equipment we need to have (i.e., jump ropes, wrist supports, weight lifting shoes, etc) because I think it would benefit Craig -- even more than it would me. I'm so glad he's doing it, though, it's fun to see him get stronger and do more things.

--- 7 ---

You mostly know how I am doing. Just working, CrossFitting, Weight Watching. I love watching my kids grow and look forward to the challenges this school year will bring for them. I've determined that I will NOT be able to travel to Philadelphia in September. craig couldn't get the nights off work and I couldn't figure out any way to have child care while I was gone. I was going to run the Rock 'n' roll half marathon. But, maybe it was a blessing in disguise since money is always so tight...now I can just budget that money into Christmas or something.

My Endless Strength Blog Facebook page is up to 99 "Likes" :) I will make good on my promise to have a giveaway if I get to 100. Just sayin'...

Oh, and the Royals are in first place by half a game. This is exciting folks. It's been WAY TOO LONG since the Royals played in the post-season. Pulling for those boys in blue!!!

Be Royal!
Have a great weekend!!

Be sure to go visit Jen Fulwiler at Conversion Diary!


August 11, 2014

Answer Me This - 6 (and a few Mumbles thrown in at the end)

I decided to link up with the lovely Kendra at Catholic All Year.

I threw in four Mumbles at the end because I like doing 10 things on Monday posts. :)

1. What do you still want to do this summer?

Is it still summer? Ha. Well, the kids go back to school one week from today. I'm not going to say I'm sorry about that. Ever since we've been back from vacation, they've been driving me nuts and been at each others' throats as they've been around each other all day every day for just a little bit too long.

BUT -- I guess I still need to move the buttons out on the jumper I have for Helen and also on the uniform skirt I have for Dani. I'm glad I got all the major shopping done this past weekend. All kids have the shoes needed for school, socks and underwear and all their school supplies. So moving buttons is probably enough. Oh and Sarah needs new volleyball shoes and knee pads. I guess I need to do that, too.

2. What is your favorite kind of pie?

I love a good chocolate silk pie. I actually like all kinds of pie. I love pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and Apple Pie at Christmas. But if I get to pick the pie at any ol' time, I would probably pick a Chocolate Silk Pie.

Chocolate Silk Pie
3. How much sleep do you need each day? How much do you get?

I need about seven hours. I usually get about six and a half. And that is if I am being good and not staying up late watching a show with Sarah. I am a horrible hit-the-snooze-er. I don't know why I don't just get up when the alarm rings in the morning...but I have to hit the snooze about twice. So, I set that clock ahead about 10-15 minutes so I still get up when I need to.

4. Do you prefer to swim in a pool, lake, river or ocean

I prefer to swim in a pool. I don't like the slimy feel of some things in a lake. I've never swum in a river, but I would imagine the same slimy, gross thing applies. I have swum in the ocean. I like it fine, but the unknown re: things like currents, sharks, jellyfish and such keep it behind the pool in preferences.

5. Do you know any poems by heart?

Not anymore. I should read some poetry. I haven't done that in a long while.

6. Do you use the public library?

Yes! Actually just this summer I got into that. I started reading fiction for fun again over the past couple of years as I tried to keep up with some of the things Sarah read. I realized I didn't want to buy the books I was reading and renewed my card at the library. I put books on hold that I wanted to read and when they became available, I read them and returned them. It was great. As I have a renewed interest in using the library, so do my children and now all three girls have a card of their own. Dominic likes to borrow books, too, but he just uses my card for now.

Go visit Kendra at Catholic All Year for more Answer Me This posts!

For you regular folks who know I sometimes do Mumbles on Monday -- here are four more little nuggets for you.

7. I took the boys shoe shopping Saturday. Dominic was so cute -- he says that he needs "tie shoes" now that he is going to Kindergarten. Can you believe how hard it is to find shoes with laces these days? All the shoes have velcro!! We finally found some affordable Stride Rite shoes with laces that were in his size. He wasn't even mad that they didn't have any Star Wars stuff on them. He thought it was much more important to have "tie shoes." Love that kid.

My boys and their "tie shoes"
8. When I took the girls for shoes later, Helen was insistent on having "tie shoes" because both of her little brothers had them. That was unexpected.

9. She also needed a new play outfit. That girl is growing and honestly, she wants to be comfortable. But she also wants pink. So, we found this outfit on the clearance rack at Target.

This is what I get when I say, "Give me a Sassy Pose"

10. So Vincent wanted his picture taken, too. And he also wanted to try and be "sassy" (i.e., hand on hip)

Still working on looking AT the camera these days...

Well, have a great Monday folks.




August 8, 2014

7 Quick Takes - 84

Oh goodness! I have not participated in the 7QT linkup since the end of June! What is going on here?
---Says the slacker...

Thank you to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting the 7QT.

--- 1 ---
I didn't get a post up for Weight Watchers Wednesday this week. (Like I said, I'm a slacker.) But I am happy to report that I weighed in under goal yesterday to make it a third straight month with Weight Watchers Lifetime status. Woo-Hoo! You know, that is a quarter of the year. I work in the financial industry, so we measure performance for the year broken down into quarters. If I had to give myself a grade for this first quarter at Lifetime Status, I would give myself an A-. I went on vacation and still managed to scrape in and maintain the goal weight. The reason for the minus is that I still want to lose about 5-7 more pounds and I have made ZERO headway in that regard.

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The Box (CrossFit gym for the newbies) is having a Paleo Challenge in September and I am considering trying it. I have eaten Paleo on my own before, but I'm curious what I might learn if I do the Paleo Challenge. There are some pre-made meals I'd have to pay for and I'd follow it for thirty days. It might be the way to drop the 5-7 pounds I want...but (here we go again) the expen$e. Sigh, will have to research and talk it over with Craig.

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Guess who no longer has braces --

Pretty Girl
I remember when we started her out in second grade, realizing that if her growth pattern held, she'd be out of them before eighth grade started. And now, here we are...she's in eighth grade, thirteen years old, growing like a weed still (she is 5'5" now!!) and wearing bigger shoes than mine.
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I actually am quite proud of how Sarah has done with her summer reading this year. She read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this summer. Those are some LONG books. And of course, she loved them. They have to read a non-fiction book as well so she's trudging through some Jell-O cookbook right now. But I love to see how involved she gets with the books she likes. I hope she keeps writing and reading.

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I am also proud of Helen for improving in her swimming ability this summer. I bit the bullet and hired a swim teacher for one-on-one lessons. I think that was the only way to go with Helen -- she needs the focused attention. She is now doing her front crawl and floating on her back. She's working on getting the back crawl down and from what I understand, though she is still a bit timid in the water, she is treading water at an acceptable level (for safety).

Helen claims she wants to join the swim team like Dani. She needs to get more practice in and make sure she can swim the full length of the pool on her front and her back before I can see if they will take her though. But I do hope she gets there...I love the sport of swimming.

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Can you believe that school starts a week from Monday? The public schools around here start on Thursday next week. That is just crazy! Not only do the summer days fly by as it is, but the scheduled break seems to get shorter and shorter. I am torn about it. One one hand, I think they need a longer break with fewer breaks during the school year. On the other hand, my kids thrive with the routine. And, I gotta say, they've been at each other's throats since we got back from vacation and they are spending all day, every day together. I guess I am okay with doing whatever they schedule.

**Except for half days. Our school is starting the year off with three days of Noon Dismissal. What? How do kids get back into routine if you have them out of routine for the first three days? I think one Noon Dismissal day is plenty, then go right into the regular schedule. Craig had to take a couple of PTO days to handle picking them up and having them home in the afternoons a couple of days we were not expecting. Oh well...we'll be back to routine soon enough I guess.

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So, you know how I was trying to get to 100 "Likes" on my Endless Strength Facebook Page? I'm still 2 "likes" away. Fix that for me? KThx. :)

Have a terrific Weekend. And to meet plenty of awesome bloggers, be sure to go visit Jen Fulwiler at Conversion Diary!


August 5, 2014

Why Do I CrossFit?

Since I started doing Crossfit (November 1, 2013), I have received questions about it. People have asked me what it is. People have asked me why I like it. People have wondered whether it is a good way to exercise and questioned the safety. People have told me they are intimidated to try. People have expressed an interest and sometimes turned away at the cost.

I have sent a couple of long messages and e-mails, but for the recent questions I have been asked, I decided to compose this blog post.
What is Crossfit?

Why Do I Love CrossFit?

For the best definition of Crossfit, I direct you to crossfit.com, where it is explained much better than I could ever do it justice. But for the most part, THIS:

CrossFit is many things. Primarily, it’s a fitness regimen developed by Coach Greg Glassman over several decades. He was the first person in history to define fitness in a meaningful, measurable way (increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains). CrossFit itself is defined as that which optimizes fitness (constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity). CrossFit is also the community that spontaneously arises when people do these workouts together. In fact, the communal aspect of CrossFit is a key component of why it’s so effective.
Before I got started, I learned that CrossFit was defined, at its most basic level, as “constantly varied functional movements performed at a relatively high intensity.” I had someone else say that CrossFit focused on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). So, I direct you to the site because it has a LOT of information that was useful to me and could be useful to you if you are interested in CrossFit.

That is the only objective part of this post. The rest are the reasons why *I* CrossFit and love it.

Most people who ask me about CrossFit mention that it is all so intimidating. I will tell you -- I was intimidated, too. However, the coaches and other members that share a love of CrossFit also work hard to take the intimidation out of it. Often we human beings are capable of much more than we think that we are -- we need only get started and through our experience we begin to realize our capabilities.

You could apply this concept to anything :)
Found Here
It was intimidating to head into the CrossFit workouts at first. I was in the poorest shape of all the people there and I was in awe of these people I saw doing olympic lifts in the hundreds of pounds or squatting 200 pounds, or jumping up on boxes and making it look effortless. Here I was not able to snatch or overhead squat even a 35 pound barbell. During the first month or two, there was a workout that required 100 burpees to be completed and we had to pause every minute, on the minute, to do 5 pullups or something like that. I couldn't do pullups yet, so I was stacking three 45-pound plates on the floor and doing jumping pullups. (I still can't do unassisted pull-ups, but I'm getting stronger and continuing to work at it.)

**For those of you not familiar...a Burpee is kind of like a 2-year-old temper tantrum. the movement entails squatting to the floor, thrusting your legs back into a pushup position, doing a pushup and quickly swinging your legs back under you so you can jump into the air and clap your hands (or touch a target or something). I liken it to a small child throwing himself to the floor and getting back up only to throw himself down over and over again.

Okay, about that workout...I was the last one to finish. But, I finished it and I realized that I really could do 100 Burpees. I only needed to tackle one at a time, like I did everything else. The others who completed the workout ahead of me were gathered around cheering me on to finish. They helped me keep track of how many I had remaining and as I finished, they fist-bumped and high-fived me and told me how great it was.

Two great things happened that day: 1) I no longer felt intimidated by Burpees (or anything else!) Just tackle them one at a time in a good rhythm and eventually, you finish them; 2) I felt like I could continue to do CrossFit forever. I really appreciated the support I got from the other members and made a mental note that someday it will be me finishing the workout ahead of others and I must remember to encourage them in a similar way.

What are the workouts like? My experience is that there is a warm-up, then there could be some sort of gymnastics work (handstands or things like that) and usually some olympic lifting work. This could be (and usually is) followed by some strength training work. Finally, there is the WOD (workout of the day), which could be a timed AMRAP (a time is established in which we complete the exercises listed and get "As Many Rep/Rounds As Possible) or there could just be a list of things to do "for time." A lot of the times, the workouts are variations of cross-functional movements mixed in with some weight and there is usually a cardio component to it. Every day, you record your results on the whiteboard -- it's the accountability portion. There's something about writing down what you finished that provides a sense of accomplishment. It's interesting to see all the other results -- not necessarily to compare yourself to them, but just to see if someone had a great day and congratulate them.

All of the workouts have the Rx version and the Scaled versions are listed as well. For example, I am unable to do unassisted pullups yet, so if the Rx is sets of pull-ups, then I would "scale" that to banded pullups, or jumping pullups or ring rows. There are lots of ways to build strength and progress. I did ring rows for the first few months, then I started being able to do banded. I had a month or two between trying jumping pullups and was astonished when I only needed to stack two 45-pound plates to jump from and still get my chin up over the bar. It's been fun to finally be able to put "Rx" after my score once in awhile (though not on any WOD that includes pullups--yet!)...and even if I'm doing scaled, I can see my improvement on those as well.

There are also Benchmark WODs that go by name. They are usually named after Girls or Heroes. They are scheduled far enough apart that you should be able to check your progress. I had a goal to do at least one of these Rx and I hit that this summer, after working out consistently for eight months.

The main thing I can say about completing the WODs is that I am spent after every workout. I rarely, if ever, leave CrossFit feeling like I could have done more that day. I am sore every day, no matter how fit I become. And...I love that.

What about the Results? When I decided to try CrossFit, I was in need of something that would retain my attention and enthusiasm for regular exercise. Over the years I have taken up running and/or swimming at various times. I have done some group exercise classes, too. But I always needed to have a race in mind to keep my motivation for running and/or the annual corporate challenge swim meet to keep my motivation for swimming. Most group exercise classes didn't jive with my schedule either. But, keeping my focus and attention was the highest priority. Also, I HAD to see results quickly. Of course, I was coupling it with my weight loss efforts and my motivation to lose the extra weight I'd been carrying for many years was high. But the results that kept me going were things like lifting heavier weight, being able to do some of the movements without resorting to "scaled" and seeing an overall improvement in my fitness level.

The number one reason I continue to CrossFit and why I love it IS the results. I am stronger, faster and fitter today than I was yesterday. And I have been able to say that every day since I started CrossFit. Sure, I can look back at November 1, 2013 and compare it to today and see a woman now who is 32 pounds lighter, loads stronger, swims/runs faster than she ever had before and who can touch her toes to the bar, can do strict push-ups (man-style, even!!) and is getting closer to that unassisted pull-up. But the results didn't just magically appear 8 or 9 months down the road. I started seeing results the next day. I was sore, by golly, but I was stronger. I told myself that every day -- that I just want to improve myself today. Back when I started, I couldn't fathom what 8 or 9 months in the future would look like -- I didn't know that I'd finally be able to do a push-up in plank position all the way down and back up. All I knew that first day was I needed to do full-range/hand-release pushups so I could build my strength from today to tomorrow; And I needed to put one foot in front of the other and run; and I just needed to get up on the bar, get in position and lift -- and once I lifted that weight, put a little more weight on and try again. I surprise myself often with what I am able to do.

My quality of life has vastly improved with my fitness. A year ago, I was sad to turn Helen away because I told her she was just too big for me to pick up and hold anymore. But now I pick her up and carry her sometimes. We got this picture while on vacation --

I love feeling strong enough to mother my kids they way they want me to
-- I love being able to pick up my baby girl! Last January, I pickup Vincent up and had no idea the strength I had -- I almost flung him into the ceiling! I had exerted a lot of effort thinking I needed it to pick him up -- and with my new strength, I didn't need it at all. All summer, I have been getting in the pool with my kids, running around in the backyard playing with them and feel good doing it.

So, if you're interested in trying CrossFit -- look it up in your area and head in there to give it a try! You'll never know if you don't.

A Facebook friend and fellow blogger, Rebecca at Shoved to Them, posted a comment on one of my updates shortly after I started CrossFitting that has stuck with me:

"It is the very best feeling to be strong."

Yes, it is.