Friday, September 10, 2010

Currently reading . . .

I was reading Three Cups of Tea and was having a tough time getting into it.  Something about the third person narrative was kind of off-putting to me.  After three weeks, the book was due at the library.  I went to renew it and couldn't because it had a hold.  Usually, however,  if there are multiple copies in the system, I can get the librarian to renew it for me anyway but this time I didn't even bother.  It was really not an enjoyable read for me.  At least not at this point.  I intend to pick it back up again later--maybe when the demand for it is not so high. 

Currently I am reading Radical Homemakers and I'm really enjoying it tremendously.  It's one that I would like to own actually because the subject really appeals to me.  I'm not sure if homemaking will become trendy again but I'm sure it will become necessary again whether we like it or not.  Our modern way of living is simply not sustainable, i.e. it cannot keep going this way and something will have to give; something must change.  So why not read about how others are voluntarily and conscientiously homemaking?   I'll definitely try not to get too overwhelmed by it all (as I sometimes tend to do).  And I'll definitely have a review when I'm done.  

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Shaky Tooth

Yesterday, Z1 showed me that one of his bottom teeth is shaky.  He's super excited about it and is telling anyone and everyone who will hear that he's about to lose his first tooth.  He is looking forward to the "tooth fairy" (who he knows is us, his parents) leaving him something in place of his lost tooth.  

I've been dreading the day my kids started to lose their teeth.  I'm a little vain in that I worry about the crazy, snaggedly way kids teeth look when they start growing back in--great big adult teeth (growing every which way sometimes) mixed in with tiny baby teeth.  But more so, I worry about it because of my experience.  I had really great teeth up until I started to lose them and they began to come back in.  There were multiple excruciating tooth extractions and other painful tooth processes (trying to move teeth that had grown too close to each other).  And for a long time, my teeth looked straight up crazy.   I refused to smile to wide. They eventually straightened out to a decent degree (without braces) but I still have some crowding in some areas about which I remain self-conscious.

I'm hoping that since my kids eat a vastly different diet than I did, one rich in whole grains and low in simple sugars, they will have better luck in the dental department.  I'm still nervous though.  One thing is for sure: if they need braces, they will get braces.  I know my parents probably didn't have the money for them so I don't blame them necessarily.  But they both have perfectly straight, white teeth naturally.  And my mom is good for saying, "All my children had nice teeth when they were little" . . .  not so much now, I suppose.  But whatever, if I have to do a payment plan or something, I'll do it to make sure my kids won't have to worry about jacked up teeth (in addition to the myriad of other things they'll have to worry about in the future).

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Abandoning Ship!

Recently I thought to myself that so many folks who stated that they wanted to homeschool have abandoned ship and joined the school-at-school bandwagon.  I can't fault them.  No way.  We each have our priorities in life.  Each know for our own selves what it is we are willing to forfeit and those things on which we will absolutely not compromise.  If there's one thing life has taught me it's to avoid speaking in absolutes.  Today I may be totally okay giving up something.  Tomorrow may be another story.  So while I'm sad some folks who would have made amazing homeschooling buddies are going the school route, I can understand abandoning ship.  It's a huge responsibility and while there's plenty to gain, there's also a good deal of sacrifice involved. 

But I too am abandoning ship somewhat.  I am abandoning cloth diapering.  Okay, maybe abandoning is a bit too dramatic.  I still intend to cloth diaper at home but I am giving up the fight when it comes to going out.

Z2 is a little over 2.5 years now and he is nowhere near close to learning how to use the toilet.  Z1 learned when he was about Z2's age, maybe a touch older.  I did it by letting him go commando and in 2 weeks, he got the hang of peeing.  By 4 weeks, he'd mastered pooping.  With Z2 though, I can't do the commando thing.  There's just too many moving parts and too much other stuff I have to do.  I can't be running after him with a bottle hydrogen peroxide, cleaning up accidents, and doing multiple clothes changes daily.  So I'm going to have to let Z2 learn to use the toilet at his own time and in his own way.  I heard a piece of advice to do all diaper changes in the bathroom so they associate their elimination needs with the bathroom.  I've been doing this for about two months now and Z2 doesn't seem any closer to using the toilet.  

Anyway, our cloth diapers are really, really, totally on their last leg.  As it is, most of the pocket diapers except for 4 require a cover.  For those who don't know, pocket diapers should not require a diaper cover.  On most of our diapers, the elastic is shot and snaps are falling off.  But we're making do and trying not to purchase anything else in the way of diapers.  I'd been using the 4 good pocket diapers as going out diapers.  Now, however, they are getting too tight so for the past few months, I've just been keeping the bottom snap unsnapped.  I could buy a couple more diapers but really, it was not in my plan to buy any more cloth diapers.  Maybe if there were a chance that there would be more babies . . .

Then it just occurred to me that using cloth diapers when we're out is a hassle.  And I'm tired.  They take up a lot of space, have to be changed more frequently (if I don't want a leak) and I have to lug dirty diapers home.  And I'm just tired.  My enthusiasm has waned.  Significantly.  If I'm using disposable diapers, I can pack one bag that will comfortably hold food, my wallet and stuff, diapers and wipes, and another pair of pants for Z1 and Z2 in case of an accident.  So, I'm going to suck it up and get some disposable diapers for going out.  I may spring for some unbleached, natural diapers but most likely, the diapers will be from Costco.  

Sounds horrible, I know but honestly,  I feel like I have done my part and I need a break.  I'm not trying to put out any extra money getting any more specialized diapers.  Z1 wore cloth diapers until he learned to use the toilet and Z2 will continue to wear cloth at home. 

So yes, I too am abandoning ship in a way.  And joining the ranks of disposable diaper users everywhere!  And it's a relief.  Like I said, everyone has their priorities and my priority (when it comes to diapers) right now is convenience.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Powerblocks!

I realized just after I posted my last entry that I hadn't shared the fact that I finally got a set of Powerblocks.  In July, I mentioned that I wanted some more functional, efficient weights.  I knew I didn't really want to put out the $400 interchangeable weights cost but if I really sat and thought about it, the weights did constitute a smart investment in my fitness. 

Essentially, when it came to interchangeable weights, there were two choices: Powerblocks 2.5-50 pound adjustable dumbbells and the BowFlex SelectTech 552 dumbbells.  The main advantage of the BowFlex dumbbells is that with just a turn of the dial, you can select your weight in 2.5 pound increments.  With the Powerblocks, you have to lift the dumbbell out of its base, flip a switch and then drop out the 2.5 pounds bar.  If you're interested, you can view a video here.  Remember, the main point of getting these dumbbells was to increase the efficiency of changing weights and this extra step seemed like it would suck too much time which I simply don't have.  Plus, it's fussy.  For this reason, BowFlex seemed to be winning.  Until I realized that just by looking at them, I could tell the Powerblocks, though less chic, are also more durable and with 2 young kids that was definitely an advantage.  Another advantage of the Powerblocks was that they were relatively compact and short compared to the BowFlex which seemed kind of long.  But really, I was open to either one I found a good deal on. 

I was searching all over Craigslist and one day found someone selling their Powerblocks 5-45 pound adjustable dumbbells. for $250.  The price was great but they were not exactly the ones I wanted.  I wasn't sure if the 5 pound increments would be too much.  As a woman, I was pretty sure I'd need those 2.5 pound increments.  For the longest time I was curling 15 pounds.  I absolutely couldn't curl 20 pounds.  With the hubby's weights, I was able to get an 18.5 pound dumbbell and I knew that worked well.  Someone was also selling the BowFlex dumbbells for $350: $100 more than the Powerblocks and there was still that nagging fear that the kids would mess with them.  So, I decided to go ahead and purchase the Powerblocks.  I drove all the way to Brooklyn (aka the dark side of the moon) and picked them up.   I figured I could come up with something to make up for the fact that they adjusted in 5 pound increments. 

And thanks to the magic of Google, I did: ankle/wrist weights!  I purchased a pair of GoFit ankle weights (2.5. pounds for each weight for a total of 5 pounds).  They cost no more than $17 and bridge the gap perfectly. 

So I really, really like the Powerblocks.  It took a little getting used to in terms of how to position my hands for certain exercises.  I was worried that for exercises like pullovers, I wouldn't be able to fit both hands into the dumbbell.  But I can so no problem with that and I have not had any problems with any other exercises either.  

I have to say that the Powerblocks are maybe the best investment I've made fitness wise (or maybe they are tied with my DVDs and Transfirmer step which I also found on Craigslist for $45).  It's wonderful to not have all kinds of weights littering the floor.  I push the Powerblocks to the corner, close to the wall and close to each other.  As such, the kids can't mess with the pins.  I'm so happy I got the Powerblocks because occasionally, the kids will jump on them to reach things.  I don't know if the BowFlex dumbbells could have taken that kind of abuse.  I'm actually feeling really blessed that I got the  dumbbells I got (the 5-45 pounds adjustable) because slipping on the ankle/wrist weights is a relatively quick process--definitely not such a process that it would warrant me spending an extra $100).   Maybe not as quick to change as the BowFlex but it's really okay.  Plus, I can use the ankle/wrist weights for other exercises too.  I feel like I've made some smart decisions with my fitness equipment lately and I'm happy about it.  I'm really looking forward to my next fitness challenge although I'm not sure what it is yet. 

So have I beat you in the head with fitness stuff enough?  :)  It's my thing now!! I can't help it! 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A good shoe . . . the sneaker edition

Like I said in a previous post, I have come to appreciate a good shoe.  For exercise especially, a good shoe is terribly important.  I believe that it is because I was wearing the wrong shoe that I injured my foot a few months back.  I'm still dealing with somewhat unsightly edema from that incident although thankfully, there is no pain.  

I'd been wearing a pair of of Adidas running shoes I bought at Costco for everything fitness.  These were actually a great pair of shoes and I didn't have any issues with them.  They felt comfortable and provided adequate support--although I realized after injuring myself, not nearly enough.  The first time I went for a run though, I dragged out my ancient pair of Champion (aka Payless Shoesource) sneakers, not wanting to mess up my Adidas and knowing the Adidas were old and lacked cushion and support.  Boy was that a big mistake!  I might have done much better with the well-worn Adidas! My ankles were so sore after that--and I was running on a trail!  I was glad I hadn't tried to run on the pavement with those Champion sneakers!  Later, I tried to run with the Adidas and had no luck. at all  I then tried running in the Adidas with my orthotic insole and it was better but still not good.  So I realized that I needed to do something about my sad sneaker situation.

I decided to get some sport specific shoes but initially I didn't want to put out a lot of cash especially since I didn't know if I'd keep up with the running.  So I went to www.onlineshoes.com and purchased a pair of New Balance WX710WS cross trainers which came out to about $60 with a coupon I had.  They were horrible!  I ended up returning them and then doing some serious research on sneakers.  I settled on another, slightly pricier pair of New Balance shoes, the WX840SB and these were perhaps the best sneakers I had owned up until that point.  They hold my feet right, have great arch support and provide lots of stability for the side to side movements of step aerobics or plyometrics. 

For running I went back to Costco and bought another pair of Adidas running shoes for $40.  They were the Adidas Litestrike EVA.  Since I'd lucked out with the first pair I'd bought there, I figured I could stick with Adidas for a running shoe.  Turns out this was not the case.  They were horrible for running!  Just terrible.  I tried to switch things around: use the New Balances for running and Adidas for aerobics but both sneakers were just manageable for each sport.  The New Balance is definitely  a shoe for aerobics.  The Adidas are more suited to running.  But not to me running. 

So a few weeks ago, I bit the bullet and finally listened to the advice that I had heard from multiple places: I went to a running specialty store to get fitted. Best decision ever!  I ran on the treadmill, tried on thirty thousand shoes and then I decided on the Asics GT-2150.  

They were pricey (about $100 all told) but I know that if I am going to continue running injury-free, I need the best shoe for my feet.  They fit my insoles perfectly and provide awesome cushion and ample support.  They make running that much more of a pleasure.  Six miles and it's not my aching feet and ankles that make me want to stop!  I love them and can't recommend them enough.  I want to say Asics is my running shoe of choice although I will never again just assume that all the different shoes a brand makes will work for me.  But I am certain that when I need a new pair of running shoes, I would buy these particular ones again.  The fact that they are all black is just a bonus!

So yes, I spend a huge chunk of money on fitness.  It's a high priority right now.  I've come to see myself as an athlete.  And just as a serious cook needs high quality equipment, a good athlete needs high quality equipment.  I won't be skimping on my equipment from here on out and I have learned to always go and try on my shoes before I buy them--no matter how convenient online shopping is.
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