Monday, April 27, 2015

Vacationland

This week was pretty amazing because our family had a week off together. I can't remember the last time the 5 of us had our vacations line up. I still had coursework to do, but textbooks will travel, and they did! Derek and I are kind of sappy in the sense that we really, genuinely enjoy doing things together. For 20 years he has been my obnoxious best friend, and probably the only person who I never doubt really likes spending time with me. So we were stupidly happy to have the week together.

19 years ago. Just a boy in a dress, singing an ABBA duet with his girlfriend. You know, typical 90's stuff...


We aren't in the position to go on a real vacation, at least not for a few more years, but my husband and I decided that we weren't going to let that stop us from acting like we were on a real vacation. We live in one of the most beautiful places in the United States. Millionaires have their second (and probably third) homes here! The middle class spend thousands of dollars to come see our rocky shores and pine-y trees!!

Tourist: "Look at these Maine trees, Honey! They're so darn piney!"

It's easy to forget that we living in mother-effing Vacationland! After surviving such a miserable winter, it can be even easier to forget how lucky we are to live here.

I won't bore you with everything that we did this week, but I figured that I would highlight the coolest thing we got to do. WE CLIMBED A FREAKING MOUNTAIN!!! Cadillac Mountain, to be precise. Well, full disclosure, we walked the road that lead you up the mountain, and that was only because the road was closed and we couldn't drive up it...It was still quite the accomplishment though, especially with a 4 and 6 year old keeping pace with us.

This was how excited Max was about climbing the mountain after 2 1/2 hours.

The first thing that I learned is that you should never try to walk up a mountain with your children unless you know how long of a walk it will be. I won't lie, some stretches were BRUTAL! There was some crying, and whining, near fainting, and a lot of "I'm hungry!". And all of that was just coming from my husband! I'm kidding! Mostly... There were more than a few times we considered turning back. Derek didn't want to head back with the kids without me, but I really wanted to say I made it to the top. So, being the super awesome husband that he is, he pushed the kids (figuratively, jeesh!) to keep going. We took turns carrying Owen on our shoulders, and carried Max a few times too. He engaged the boys in conversations about anything and everything, just to keep them moving without realizing that yes, they were indeed still climbing up the same mountain. Every time we would think, "Ok, were done!" We would see some amazing site and it would spur us on further. The heavy amounts of snow that we got this winter were taking their time to melt off of the mountain. This gave us the incredible opportunity to see massive waterfalls, just a few feet in front of us. It was stunning. We couldn't hear ourselves talk because it was so loud. We were all in awe. This was a last minute climb, so we didn't have the camera, and though Derek brought his iPod, he didn't realize his finger was in front of the camera lens for almost every. single. picture. If we could have just got one good shot of those waterfalls!! Luckily we have these gems-

And here we have the least impressive photo of a waterfall, ever taken.

Derek's finger photobombing, yet again.


The whole thing took us about 3 hours, and though some of those moments within that time span were less than stellar, the feeling after we had climbed it, made up for every complaint. For the rest of vacation, my husband and our boys would yell, "On the first day of vacation, WE CLIMBED A MOUNTAIN!!"

This was before all hope was lost and they truly believed that the summit was "right around this next corner".

 I hope that we gave them a memory of doing something challenging. At the very least they will have a story to tell about how Mom and Dad made them climb a mountain and 3 out of the 4 of us had to go to the bathroom while we were out there.

True story, bro.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hoop Dreams



This is an accurate representation of what I thought I would be like at my first hoop class. I'm pretty hot in this picture.




So, I went to my first hula hoop dance/fitness class on Wednesday. It was much less picturesque than the above photo, but that was because we were in the school gym. I was feeling pretty confident walking in there with my hoop on my shoulder. I looked the part with that hoop with me. I was going to kill at this! The first thing that happened was my instructor told me I couldn't use the hoop I had brought. Fail #1. It just wasn't going to work the way that we needed it to, especially for a newbie like myself. Sigh.

I kind of assumed that the rest of my class would be filled with a lot of other women who were as inexperienced with hula hooping as I was. Fail #2. Almost all the women there were returning members from the previous class, and it was just myself and one other person that were the new kids. Luckily I knew the other person that was new, and that made me feel at least a little better because I knew I would be safe to use my best defense, self-deprecating humor, to defray from how horrible I was about to be a this. Of the entire group I only knew 2 of the ladies there, and one of them had been a part of the previous class. She made hooping look like it was the easiest thing in the world. She barely moved her body, yet that hoop just moved around her like it was it's job. It was impressive and intimidating. I figured out immediately that I could not look at her and attempt to hoop at the same time. Where her moves were so fluid that you could hardly tell she was moving to keep the hoop a-spinin' I looked more like a fish being electrocuted. My method didn't seem to be all that effective either. My hope was that full out effort and blind ambition would make me good at this hooping thing. Fail # 3.

For the love of all that is holy!!! A freaking bear can do this!!! Why can't I?!!!

Eventually the instructor brought me one of the biggest hoops available, which I kind of think might have been the hula hoop equivalent to a dunce cap. Apparently the bigger the hoop, the easier it is to spin it. Luckily she was right. I felt silly with this behemoth of a hulu hoop, but it really did make it easier to keep it going. It was pretty incredible just how much effort it took to keep that hoop where it belonged. I could feel everything in my body working to make sure that hoop didn't hit the floor, which of course it did. A lot.
I thought that you needed to spin your hips to keep the hoop spinning, but quickly learned that actually works against you. There are a few rules about hooping that help you get the hang of it.

-First rule about hoop club, you don't talk about hoop club. Wait that's not it. I think that's from another club I am a part of. Anyway...

The things that were the biggest keys to being successful at hooping were making sure you had a nice smooth spin to the hoop as you spun it around you, and to make sure that you moved forward and back, propelling the hoop with either your backside, or your abdominal area as you felt it spin around you. Ultimately after I got that down, I did get better. Not good mind you, but better. We can't all be like that damn bear!

The class runs for 6 weeks so I still have a chance to get better at it. I don't know that I will ever completely master the fluid motions of my classmates, or advance to the dance moves that we are supposed to be getting into in future classes, but I will be happy if I can continuously keep that hoop up for an extended period of time. Heck, a full 5 minutes of hooping without it clanging to the floor would make my day! Even if I never get much better than what I am now, it was a good challenge, and a good workout. My arms, abs, and hips were sore from that first class, so there was no doubt that I was working hard for each and every one of those sweet, sweet rotations.



Monday, April 13, 2015

Do You Know What This Blog Needs? More Cowbell!!

Christopher Walken, you know how to make everything better!



So, I successfully completed the Bridge the Gap 5K that took place in Bucksport this Sunday. The coolest part of this race is that you actually get to run directly across the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. Well, I thought that was the coolest part, but when my friend went to pick up our bib numbers, she saw that the swag that we got was so much better, cooler, umm...more different (sure, lets go with different) than the medals that we got from our last race. My friends, behold the almighty COWBELL-

You know you're jealous. These things are SWEET!



None of us could quite figure out the reasoning behind the cowbell swag. My best guess was that should one of us fall off of the bridge, we could ring the bell to get aid faster. As a "more-to-love-plus-sized-girl", I immediately thought of the jokes that could be made should I be seen wearing this around my neck like I did my medal. Self-deprecating humor is kind of my thing so I almost threaded one of these bad boys on to some twine and wore it to the run. Ultimately I figured the noise and the bouncing would annoy the crap out of me and chose not to wear it. In the end I gave mine to my children because when you have something loud and annoying you should always give it to your children. In all reality you should give it to the children of someone you really want to punish, but I guess I am a masochist.

In all seriousness, it was the most beautiful race I have run. After the longest, most soul crushingly long winter I can ever remember, being out in the warm sun, with beautiful views, and in the company of my friends, I was pretty blissed out.

My best friend signed up to do this with me. She just so happens to be terrified of heights and have a phobia about this particular bridge. Mand, you're a freaking superhero!

At least I was until I had to actually run. I think I have mentioned here before I that I don't enjoy running. At every race I have run in I find myself having this moment in the middle where I question why I am out there. I know I have mentioned how slow of a runner I am. Painfully slow. I never really seem to get any better at this, but I just keep signing up for more 5Ks. It makes no sense really. At least it doesn't make sense until this EXACT moment...

If I could add the audio of people cheering you on, it would make a much larger impact.


Maybe it is the feeling of accomplishing something that you aren't good at, maybe it is the cheer of the crowds, maybe it is just the rush of running through that line and knowing it is over, or maybe it's because I have had 3 children and at the end of running 3.1 miles, my body is more excited to see a porta potty than a human being should ever be. Whatever the reason, it feels soooo good. It's that little spark that you carry with you and makes you sign up for the next one, and the next.

Aside from the cowbells, the coolest part about this race was that I ran it exactly 3.04 minutes faster than my last 5k. Don't get me wrong, small children and the hobbled elderly are still leaving me in their dust, but I beat my own time damn it, and it was awesome.

Monday, April 6, 2015

No money, no problem!

So I have been on this quest to find ways to spice up my exercise routine. It's frustrating because there are a lot of different types of exercise that I would like to try, but cost is always an issue. Gym memberships cost a lot of money, and even weekly Zumba classes are often close to $10.00 a pop. Then you figure in the cost of driving to these classes and it adds up. Quickly. So what's a cost conscious girl to do? Head to the internet of course! There is a plethora of workouts that you can find for free on YouTube. I have done a few different ones that are just straight up walking videos. They aren't exciting, but they are effective, and even better is that they are free!! The last one that I did was the best though, if for nothing other than the entertainment value of it. Keaira LaShae has some workouts on there that made me laugh, and pray to all that was holy that my husband wouldn't walk in the room while I was attempting her workout. I thought that it was just some fluff and silliness, but I couldn't move the next day because I was so sore. There were a few possibilities for this, 1.) I was actually coming down with the flu, so... 2.) This was a more difficult workout than it appeared to be 3.) *This one is probably the MOST likely*  My body is not meant to do anything that even slightly resembles a twerk.


 There were a few pieces that I swear were stolen from movies though.  If you are a child of the 80's, you should know the movie, "Can't Buy Me Love". If you are a child of the 80's and don't know that movie, we can no longer be friends. I'll fight through my disappointment in you to tell you that there is a scene in the movie where everyone does this African Anteater dance. I SWEAR this is somehow a part of her workout!!!

He went from totally geek, to totally chic!





And then, just when you think that you have recovered from that, she moves straight into the Pop and Lock from the movie,  "Legally Blonde"!

I could seriously care less if you have seen this movie though.

Regardless of where she got the moves from, I did sweat, I did get in a decent workout, and it was free!!

Another source that a friend of mine told me about  is right on your television! You can find workouts on your On Demand service if you have cable through Time Warner. There is a whole section devoted just to various workouts. I have done a few and they are pretty good. Not as funny as the 1 MILE WALK/DANCE with Keaira LaShae, but come on, we all can't be her!

The one that I am most excited about, but that I haven't started yet is a weighted hoop class. This one is not for free, but because I am signed up to take the class through Adult Education, the cost is less than half of what it would be. Normally the class is $10 per session, but signing up through Adult Ed, same class, same instructor as the other class I was interested in, and the class is $29.00 for the 6 week duration. How cool is that?!
The class doesn't start until the week after next, but I assure you I will tell you all about it. I am told that I will be able to actually hula hoop no matter how impaired I may be at this practice. That is worth the $29.00 right there! My little oompa loompa sized body has never been able to get hula hooping right, so I am pretty freakin' excited, and I am pretty sure that somewhere 8 year old Jenn would be pretty excited too.

And really, if it's good enough for Tyrion FREAKING Lannister, it's good enough for me. 
So there you have it, just a few tips on how to save a few bucks, and still get in a good workout. Just a heads up though, if some stranger walks up to you in the parking lot of a Target and offers to give you a free workout, you should probably just walk away. Or run. Which would in all honesty be a pretty good workout in and of itself.