Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Kettlebell, my new enemy.

Yesterday, after running 5K at the gym, I finished my circuit of weight machines and then ventured over to the stretching area. I was using a stability ball to do some sit-ups when I noticed a trainer assisting a client with an exercise involving one of these:


I didn’t know what it was, but it looked pretty small and manageable. Easy, in fact. Squat, lift, hold. Squat, lift, hold. The woman doing the exercise was older than I am so I figured if she could handle it, it couldn’t possibly be a problem for me.

So, today after finishing a bike ride and my regular weight machine circuit, I made my way over to the area where all of the stability balls, medicine balls and what I now know are kettlebells. I spotted the smallest one, debated whether or not I could handle a slightly larger one, and ultimately decided to go with the smaller one since it was my first time.

It turns out it was probably also my last time.

I leaned over the metal bars to pick up the weight and almost pulled myself into the equipment corral. Seriously. I must have made a noise because the personal trainers hovering around the area all looked in my direction. I'm sure I looked like an idiot. I was embarrassed, but having already made a fool of myself, I decided to just get the kettlebell and take it over to the stretching area. It wasn’t until I had dragged it out of the corral that I realized it weighed 55 pounds. That sucker was heavy. I couldn’t carry it in one arm without looking severely lopsided so I had to cradle it in both of them. I managed to do the squat, lift, hold exercise 10 times before calling it quits. It was super intense.

In other news, this morning I found a cute little independent coffee shop in the “downtown” area of our city. I was there from 8 this morning until 3 in the afternoon. I was one of maybe 20 - 25 customers during that time period and honestly I’m not sure how the place has stayed afloat for 2.5 years, but I hope it stays open until I finish my dissertation. I was so productive. They have excellent chai and sandwiches and it’s warm and inviting. I just love it. It will be the official site of Dissertation Boot Camp 2010 at the end of July.

I’ve spent the last three days in coffee shops and at the local library during the day (ending with a trip to the gym). It’s a great schedule and it’s really working well for me. I’ll probably put on 20 pounds in liquid calories (the grilled cheese sandwiches probably don’t help, either), but at least I’ve been good about going to the gym. Maybe I will have to spend some more time with the kettlebell…

Monday, June 21, 2010

Things I Like: Santa Cruz Organic Lemonade

The local organic market has an excellent sale this month. I've been stocking up on super reasonably priced Annie's Bunny Graham Friends (definitely not meant for our age group, but such a good snack) and Santa Cruz organic lemonade:

It's currently priced at 2/$3, which is an amazing price for this stuff. We currently have mango lemonade, strawberry lemonade and limeade in our refrigerator, and I have big plans to go back this week and stock up before the sale ends later this month. It's that amazing.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Weekend Recap

As I type this, I have a pan of sliced cherry tomatoes, garlic, olives and capers tossed with olive oil and pepper roasting in the oven. It smells heavenly. I'm planning to serve it over pasta, but honestly, I'd probably eat it straight out of the oven sans pasta.

We had a busy weekend here at Casa K. I hung out with my dad on Friday and then headed up to a town north of the Cities for dinner and a film showing with my parents. The film, Pretty Much 100% Scandinavian, was right up my alley.

Saturday morning we were up early to get started on yard projects. G mowed the lawn while I ran errands. We had lunch and then I hit the gym for a while. Later that afternoon I bought a bag of mulch. We should have known it would make a drastic improvement in our yard, but I think we were both a little shocked at just how much of an improvement it made:

Seven bags later and the landscaping in the backyard was finished, including the areas around the trees and utility poles. G took the above picture because we were both so surprised at the difference. Pretty impressive, eh? Also impressive is that muscular pasty white calf on the left side of the image. Just kidding, although it is impressively white and there is more definition to my muscles than last year at this time. I have my new running routine to thank for that!

The vegetable garden is looking great. I've thinned the carrots two times and it looks like I might need to do it a third. The lettuce is ready to pick, there are small pods on the sweet pea plants, the beans are getting taller and the corn looks great. I put bird netting on the raspberry bush yesterday afternoon (this, by the way, was a huge pain in the butt). It appears as though we'll have an excellent crop of berries and I want to harvest as much as I can!

We went to our new favorite restaurant in our suburb last night for dinner and then played some tennis.

Our Sunday was pretty laid back. We worked on projects in the house, bought more mulch for the front yard, and are about to have dinner and go play tennis.

Not a bad weekend, my friends.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Catch-Up

Dissertating + working full time = minimal free time and consequently few blog entries and fewer pictures. Sorry.

School ended on Wednesday. I cried. For many of those kids, school is their safe zone and teachers are their protectors. When classes end for the summer, many of them fall victim to the lure of the streets and irresponsible teenagers and adults. Some of the elementary school-aged kids I work with will assume the role of parent and take care of their younger siblings while their guardians work their minimum wage jobs. Unstable situations at home make it difficult for most of the kids to progress intellectually and socially. Man, I get worked up just thinking about them. I woke up before 4:00 AM on Thursday morning because I was so worried about a few kids in particular. This, of course, is not the story for all of the kids at the school. Unfortunately, it is the story for the kids who gave the longest hugs and shed the biggest tears before they got on the bus. For once in my life, I hope summer break flies by so they can be back in the classroom.

I arranged to see the child, E., I work one-on-one with a few times each month. I don't want to weaken the relationship we've built, and I want to make sure he's surviving the summer. I'm spending next Friday morning with him, and while I'm not sure what we'll be doing it has to be educational, inexpensive, and something that gently pushes his communication skills. Any recommendations? I contacted a local animal shelter to see if we could come in and "volunteer" for an hour. E. loves cats, so I figure it might be a good place to spend some time - provided I can get the shelter to wave the age minimum for volunteers (16).

In other news, yesterday I saw one of my best friends from college. We had coffee and talked for almost three hours. He decided to give me access to his match.com profile so I could help spruce it up and filter through some of the women seeking his attention. I made him remove all of his professional training and occupational goals (because, lets face it, most women will only see $$$$), changed bits of his profile and updated his picture. Here's to hoping he lands a fun, intelligent and classy lady. He totally deserves it.

I'm co-hosting a garage sale tomorrow with a friend of mine. Excellent prices and a decent selection of stuff. We're open rain or shine, so stop by starting at 7. We most definitely have at least one thing that you'll need. I promise.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bits and Pieces

1. Our poppies bloomed the day before Memorial Day. How fitting, right?

2. Yesterday we caught a bunny in our new live animal trap. We released it into the wild and are hoping to catch the mama bunny next. My husband looks forward to checking the trap with the same anticipation a small child has when s/he wakes up on Christmas morning and is eager to see if Santa visited. You can only imagine his excitement when he returned home from work yesterday and discovered a bunny in the metal cage. Joy. Elation.

3. Around this time next week, I'll have a contract signed to work full time for the upcoming next school year. Happy much? Totally. I feel so blessed to get to work with the kids at my school.

4. I started staining our "new" dinner table. The right side is the stripped side of the table. The left side has one coat of "cherry mahogany." I added a second coat on Sunday and will apply a third coat before I coat it with poly. The table has a lot of character (read: it is a little beat up), but that's one of the things I love about it. It's likely over 100 years old. I'd love to know who owned it, what kinds of meals they served, and what kinds of conversations took place while people sat around it.

5. I assembled the side tables and bookshelf. They work well in our living room. We need to drill some holes in the back paneling of the bookshelf so we can run wire through to the outlet, but first we need to figure out what kind of tool will make a large enough hole. Advice?

6. I worked on my dissertation for a while last night, and I'm taking tonight off. I went to the gym for a much needed bike ride and am about to respond to some letters I received from students in the language arts class I help out with. The students could write to any teacher and nine of my little friends decided to pen letters to me. They are incredibly cute. "You help people to do good. You are nice and awesome. You are a frenily teacher." "Think you for helping me spell words. You are the best teacher I had talk to. I loved learning wite you." How can you not love that stuff? My own student, of course, wrote me a lengthy letter explaining that he had let his cat in our house and that it not only drank all of our diet coke, but also made a "mees every wear" and "scach youre TV." Gotta love a good imagination.