Friday, April 29, 2011

End of the Workouts

Yesterday morning, my alarm went off at 4:51am. Like I've done since early January, I hit snooze and rolled over to snuggle with Keith for a few more minutes. When the alarm went off a second time I turned it off and stumbled down the hall to get dressed for my 5:30am Cleveland Fitness Bootcamp workout.

The biggest difference is that yesterday was my last day for bootcamp. When I first started, I was only going to do a month. But I enjoyed it so much, I ended up signing up for 4 months in all. The workouts have been varied and challenging, and I can definitely tell that I've become stronger since I started, particularly my abs and my arms.

In the end, however, the 4:51am alarm has become too much for me. I didn't miss one workout for the first month or so .... and then, due to the pregnancy, I started getting nauseous and fatigued. My attendance suffered. Some weeks I only made one weekday, but made up the other day on the weekend. Other weeks I considered myself lucky to get in one day at all, and I even had at least one week where I didn't make it even once. It was getting very frustrating.

And then, even though I started feeling better, I still had problems getting there. Once my "perfect attendance" was gone, it didn't seem so bad to miss a day here or there. I started missing workouts because I had grading to do the night before and stayed up too late, or because, quite frankly, I just didn't want to get up.

I'm definitely going to miss the workouts. But now I can focus on my running and also hopefully fit in a few strength-training workouts at home. They won't be as challenging, but they also won't be at 5:30am! I'll miss the workouts .... but I'll relish sleeping in next week, I'm sure.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Royal Wedding

At first, I scoffed at all this hoopla over the big Royal Wedding on Friday. Seriously, what's the deal?

But in only a week, I've done a 180. I've been trying to catch the morning talk shows, which are all based in London right now, commenting on Kate's potential dresses, honeymoon plans, and possible etiquette gaffes. Today, when Eleanor was napping, I even went to Hulu to watch a Lifetime (Lifetime!) movie called Royal Wedding of a Lifetime: The Future King and Queen. I've been totally sucked up into it, and I'm looking forward to watching all of the coverage on Friday.

I think this has happened for three reasons:
  1. Eleanor is big into the princess phase. I have mixed feelings about this, but at times it does bring back fond memories of when I loved to pretend to be a princess, and read fairy tales, and imagine life in a castle. (Not a real castle, of course—one with fairies and magic and all that.) Just today I told her about the royal wedding on Friday, and she said that she's very excited for them.
  2. It reminds me of the wonderful times I've spent in the UK, both when I volunteered there and since. (Like going to Elaine's wedding in Glasgow, as pictured above. We're definitely not royalty, but it was the one chance I've had to wear a hat like that!) Even just hearing the one British newscaster this morning talking about "taking the mick" makes me smile. I miss the slang, the food, the sites, the history .... and watching the coverage gives me a taste of all that.
  3. I want to root for them! Just like I was disappointed to hear that Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins split up, I want to believe that it is possible to find true love and stay faithful and in love, despite all of the distractions of fame and fortune. Maybe it seems strange that I feel badly for the rich and famous, but I do think that it would be harder to maintain a good, normal, healthy relationship. I like that Kate currently is not royalty, and that they met and started dating at Uni, just like millions of other couples. I'm a hopeless romantic at heart, and I want to believe that even royalty is looking for the same things as the average person: love, companionship, and understanding.
I do plan on watching as much of the festivities as I can on Friday. (Which probably won't be much, since Eleanor doesn't watch much TV and I'll be chasing after her AND enjoying a playdate at my sister's house.) I hope it's a glorious, sunny day, and they do live happily ever after!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Photo Challenge: Rural

Keith's greatest challenge this week was actually not finding something rural, but dealing with a recalcitrant, sugar-high toddler.

When he read that this week's Shutterboo Photo Challenge would be "rural," he knew immediately where he would head to take some pictures. Even though we live in an inner-ring suburb of Cleveland, we only have to drive 20 minutes East to find ourselves surrounded by parkland, trees, and rural-ness? Rural-osity? A pastoral landscape.

Keith and Eleanor headed out on Easter Sunday, late morning. It was a very gray and rainy day—so pretty much, like any day around here for the past few weeks. But it wasn't the weather that Eleanor had a problem with. She was in sugar-withdrawal and very tired. We had celebrated Easter with my family on Saturday, and she really was adorable in her dress.

That girl loves to dress up. What do you want to wear? A dress! A fancy dress? Even better! But it's the BEST if there's also tights and fancy shoes and not just one, but TWO ponytails! (I can't call them pigtails because that confuses her.)

She had a wonderful time showing off her dress (and tights/shoes/etc.), and playing with Gavin during the Easter egg hunt and blowing bubbles after dinner. And did I mention the candy? I'm sure I don't even know how much sugar she ate, and I'm equally as certain that I don't want to know because I would be horrified.

So we had a wonderful time. But we got home late and she was, shall we say, reluctant to go to bed. Even though she fell asleep nearly 2 hours later than normal, she still woke up at a normal time on Sunday. She was tired and cranky because she kept asking for things (SUGAR) and we kept saying no. Why can't she have sugar before breakfast? For breakfast? All the time? What about now? How come she never EVER gets to eat chocolate?!?

I got a break while Keith and Eleanor went to take photos. (I was grading, so it wasn't much of a break. But still, there was no whining.) Usually Eleanor delights in accompanying Keith on his photo jaunts. The old schoolhouse he photographed for the challenge "Past" is on our way to the grocery store, and now every time we're approaching it she says, "That's the school Daddy and I took pictures of!"

But sugar monster Eleanor was not having it. She didn't want to get out of the car because it was raining. She then fell asleep for about 15 minutes in the car, which meant she refused to take a real nap when she got home. Keith put her down at a typical naptime of around 12:30, but she didn't fall asleep until after 3. Sugar monster Eleanor is stubborn.

In the end, Keith did manage to crop and color boost his way to a good-looking rural photo, even though he only had about 6 pictures to choose from. And we all learned a valuable lesson about staying away from refined sugar. Of course, having said that, we still have leftover Easter candy in the house that sometimes I think about just throwing away, but of course instead I throw into my mouth every once in a while when I pass by the bowl. I always thought that I kept Eleanor away from sugar for health reasons. I didn't also realize how important Eleanor's lack of sugar is to my sanity!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Music: Walk the Moon

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm not really being inspired by the muse this week. So instead, I'll direct you to my newest favorite song and video:

I must give credit to Keith, who first told me about this band. A few interesting facts:
  • The song is named for a professor (several? all?) of the band members had at Kenyon College. I prefer to think that she was an English professor, inspiring a love of literature and an appreciation for the finer points of good writing in all her students.
  • The band is from Cincinnati.
  • At one point in the video, the lead singer wanders past several people playing drums. The woman playing a mini-bongo is actually playing a drum from the percussion kit that Keith's sister and brother-in-law gave Eleanor for her birthday last year. There's straps on the side of the drum and she likes to shove it all the way up onto her shoulder, showing us, "I can play and walk all around at the same time!"
  • They regularly use face paint at shows, which makes me wonder if I'll be going to see them live any time soon....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Photo Challenge: Simple


I am a blogger of few words this week. I'm more about the images.

Keith's latest Shutterboo photo challenge is "Simple." Simply, this picture makes me happy. I also find it interesting how much variety is in the photo challenge entries. Everyone's opinion about what is a simple subject or visual composition is so different! Not so simple, after all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Favorite Way to Grade

Especially when it's rainy and cold, like it has been lately. But of course, when not pregnant, there's also a glass of red wine on the table next to me.

I'm getting to the grading part of the semester. Only one month left to go. The rest of the lessons are (mostly) planned out. The assignments are created. Now it's just grade, grade, grade!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Writerly Ambitions

This is actually an old video from last August. My mother-in-law was visiting (and will be thrilled to be featured on a video, I'm sure. You're welcome, Karen!;), and we were just sitting around while Eleanor snacked on yogurt and blueberries and graham crackers.

She saw a book on the table that I was reading. On the back was a picture of, and blurb about, the author. She asked who it was and I explained it was the person who wrote the book.

Eleanor thought about it and then made her announcement, "I'll be a writer someday!"

I immediately went to grab the little Flip camera, my head filled with visions of showing this video when she is high school valedictorian, college graduate summa cum laude, at her first book signing, for her Nobel Prize acceptance speech ...

Of course, it will be just as adorable even at the Oscars, on Behind the Music, on the campaign trail, or if her Nobel Prize is not for literature but for chemistry or physics. I can be reasonable.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Photo Challenge: Movement

This week's photo challenge was "movement." As I mentioned yesterday, I think that Keith should just take one picture, alter it constantly, and make his life a whole lot simpler. But like on many issues such as our finances and TV shows, we don't see eye to eye.

Likewise, with nearly all of the subjects, I can think of ways to incorporate Eleanor into the picture. But he tries very hard not to make it all about her. Realistically, a pie chart of our pictures would look like this:

So I think Keith's point is that it's probably good to remember that there are other subjects out there.

BUT, every once in a while, it's hard to resist her photographic charms. And the topic of "movement" is one of those times. With very little prompting, Eleanor happily donned one of her princess dresses and twirled, while Keith took some shots. In very short order, Keith had plenty of movement shots to choose from, and we also have an image that represents the current state of our lives!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Photo Challenge: Circle

So this was last week's photo challenge, and I'm posting it now so that I'm caught up when I post this week's challenge tomorrow:) In under the wire!

Another week where Keith had a hard time finding the time/an interesting subject, so he ended up taking pictures in the basement, late Tuesday night. I was on the couch upstairs, grading (or avoiding grading, like I am right now!) and heard lots of clanking.

"Are you working out?" I asked when he came upstairs. I would say those weights hadn't been touched in months, but that wasn't entirely true. Beckett, lovely Beckett, had peed on them, and I had just dismantled all of the weights the week before and washed everything. So they had been touched, and weren't covered in dust. Or dog pee. But being used for a workout? Yeah, that hadn't happened for a long time, for either one of us.

He laughed in my face. "I'm taking pictures," he said.

I'm pretty sure that the final image is in color, even though it looks black and white. Just very clean and simple.

Of course, I told him that he's going about this challenge the wrong way. He keeps looking for new subjects and photography techniques to use every week. So time-consuming!

I think that it would be much more challenging to find ONE good subject that can encompass every possible topic for all 52 weeks. Doesn't that sound difficult? But then, the photography is done upfront. And every week, he would have to decide how to crop and digitally rework the same original image so that it screams "circle" or "purple." I think that's really in the true spirit of the challenge.

Monday, April 11, 2011

To Sleep or Not to Sleep?

What has happened to me?!? Every month, I barely eek out 10 posts ... and then I disappear off the face of the blogging planet until roughly the middle of the next month. At which point I repeat the process all over again. There's always hope for next month .... but I guess I'm saying: Don't be surprised when I have a flurry of posts the last week of April, and go incommunicado for a fortnight in May.

What am I doing while pointedly not blogging? It's hard to say, really. I've been having a serious dilemma lately about how much to sleep. As I reported on March 9 (my first blog post of that month!), I am (on and off again) reading The Happiness Project. It's set up as a 12-month project, with one large goal for the month, and several smaller, more specific goals to help reach the overall goal. So if the overall goal is, say, Boost Energy, the smaller goals will be "Get more sleep" and "Exercise more."

At first I was really excited, and read straight from January into July (I've stopped short of contemplating eternity in the August chapter). But it really did all just seem like a whole lot to do. So I put the book down and focused on one thing. One small goal, not even a larger one: Get more sleep.

It worked really well the first week I focused on it. I decided that getting up at 6 o'clock was a reasonable goal; two days a week I'm up earlier for my bootcamp work-outs, but I'm not going to set my internal clock to wake up at 5am every day. That's just ridiculous! So if I want to be up, well-rested at 6, I tried to follow the guidelines of stopping my day 9 hours before that. Stopping at 9 o'clock would give me a half-hour to sort of close out the day: get ready for bed, clean the kitchen, pack my bag, lay out tomorrow's clothes. Then I would also have a half-hour to decompress and get mentally ready for good night's sleep.

As I said, it worked really well for about a week. Did I mention that I started this on Spring Break? Like the one week where I didn't have to have anything done, absolutely, within the next 24 hours? Since the semester started back up again, it hasn't gone so well.

Does anyone out there feel like they get enough sleep? I want to wake up feeling refreshed. I want to stop choosing between being ready for tomorrow (in terms of my task list: lesson planning, grading, clean house, lunch packed) and getting enough sleep. I want to make it through a day without feeling the need to rely on caffeine and sugar to prop my eyelids open for half of it. I want Eleanor to stop turning around when I'm "reading" (actually falling asleep and mumbling bedtime stories) and saying, "Mommy! Wake up!" Or, when I'm already falling asleep again at 8 o'clock in the morning, she pokes me and says, "Stop sleeping! You already slept!"

I remember a year or so ago, reading a short advice column in a fitness magazine. The reader's question was a very familiar one: I work out in the mornings, but I don't always get to bed on time. If I have to choose between 1) only 6 hours sleep and get a good morning workout, or 2) get a full night's sleep and skip the workout, what should I do?

I feel like I'm faced with this decision all the time. And I was so incredibly pissed at the columnist's answer; I can still feel my irritation level rising today, just thinking of it. Essentially, the columnist said, "Both working out and sleep are important. So you should get a full night's sleep AND work out."

Um, when was that an option?!? Do you have a house? A job? Kids? Pets? This is not an AND situation. This is strictly either/or. And most of the time lately, I've been choosing sleep. I'm trying to blame it on the pregnancy, but I can choose sleep and go to bed a little earlier ... and then still feel the need to take 2 naps the next day, like I did on Saturday.

Alright, this rant is getting a little long-winded, so I'm going to shut it down. I should already be in bed, asleep, anyway, since I have bootcamp at 5:30am tomorrow morning. So now I'm wondering: sleep? workout? Just stay up all night, trying to get ahead, and live on caffeine and sugar tomorrow?!?

*The picture is from just a couple of weeks after Eleanor was born (August 2008). It's much harder to get sleepy pictures of her these days!