Wednesday, March 30, 2016

DIY Cookie Class

Over spring break I wanted to plan some fun activities for the kids since we didn't get to go on any fun trips. One event that came across my Facebook feed was an Easter Cookie Class at Heavenly's Bakery in Iowa Falls. I didn't necessarily know what to expect, but I signed up for two slots, and took R and A. 

I don't know that I would call it a class, in the sense that they teach you or instruct you specifically on how to decorate the cookies like one of those painting classes, but we had a blast. The kids each got a box of 6 cookies, and several bags of frosting to pipe onto them. It was $5/box, we got our own table to work at, and one of the employees came around with examples of her decorations so the kids could get some ideas, as well as give helpful hints about handling the frosting. There were other tables of families there, ranging from 3(ish) to 10(ish), but it wasn't crowded by any means. We spent about 30 minutes decorating, and it was about the right amount of time and cookies - the kids' hands started to get tired from squeezing frosting by the end. 

I absolutely adore Heavenly's cookies, and this was a great reminder for me as to how much, so we also ordered E's birthday cake and cookies while we were there! This was a great activity that we'll do again. Next time I think I'll even sign myself up for a box - the kids each let me do one of their cookies, and it was super fun to be creative. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Gym Dad Blogs - Showing Sheep

I asked the husband to write up a post about our kids and the sheep about 9 months ago. Now that he's helping R get her 4H lambs ready, and selling other bottle lambs through Keehn Club Lambs, I thought it was a good time to get the post up.


I’ve had sheep since I was three years old.  My parents used to have hogs when I was first born but they sold the hogs and started with sheep when I was three.  Before I started showing in 4-H, they didn’t have the Bottle Lamb programs like they had now but I showed at a couple of open shows when I was 8 and 9. Some of my favorite memories from showing are from those open shows before I started in 4-H and then when I started showing at the Iowa State Fair.  We had Dorsets when I was younger and we used to have to spend a lot of extra time getting them ready to show.  I always found it entertaining how some of the people walking around the state fair would stop and watch for 5-10 minutes of us carefully clipping and prepping the lambs.

Now that I have my kids showing sheep, my favorite part is just having the chance to spend time together.  We are a busy family but breaking the lambs to lead, washing them, clipping them, and prepping them all take time.  I know that this often leads to extra work on my part, but getting to spend that time together, seeing them grow as livestock caretakers, and seeing them complete a project is more than worth the extra time. 

Each of my kids has surprised me in a different way when dealing with the sheep.  R is my animal lover so I was never worried about her interest in showing but she is not very big.  That has never stopped her when dealing with sheep.  I am always amazed at just how strong my little girl is when the lambs don’t want to cooperate….she makes them cooperate.  

A is not the child that is out there from the moment the lambs are born (that's E), spending countless hours helping with the sheep.  I am always worried that he doesn’t enjoy it.  He has probably surprised me more because he is the one who has gotten knocked over, fallen down and drug, or lost the halter, and I always think that’s when he’s going to quit.  He has walked away a couple times for a little while but after a few minutes, he asks if he can work with his lamb again, which I am always very proud of him for not quitting.

E is out in the pens from the time we get to the farm, until the time we leave. He helps with every part of every chore, and loves every minute of it. I can't wait until he is old enough to start working with them and showing them. Right now he is spending a lot of time helping me get lambs ready to sell

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Watch It Wednesday: It's Arm Day!

R has been doing a LOT of conditioning with her knee injury, so we picked out some of her "favorite" arm workouts to share! 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Birthday Aerial Acrobatics at TGR Fitness

R turns 10 today (when did that happen?!) so I thought it was only appropriate to share some highlights from her birthday party! We took the girls (mostly her teammates) down to TGR Fitness in Des Moines for an aerial acrobatics class where they did some tumbling, hoops, and silks - and also got to try out a couple of their American Ninja Warrior stations. It was a blast! 
The girls started with stretches, went into to some balance and tumbling, followed it up with working on the hoops, and then got some instruction on the silks before having free time to play on the apparatus of their choice! 

Our instructor was great - she adjusted really well to our group. The girls, who work out 15-20 hours a week, said it was harder than they thought it was going to be, but they had a lot of fun. It definitely took some upper body strength, but the seemed to catch on quickly. R's school friend, who is not in gymnastics, caught on as well - so it's not like it requires super human gymnast upper body strength to have fun! R can't wait to go back and do a Ninja Warrior party next time (that was her first choice, but since she's still on crutches I talked her out of it - although I did let her try the warped wall. She said she didn't care if it hurt, she *really* wanted to do it, more than she cared about her sore knee. Can you really tell the birthday girl no?). 

For those wanting more info, you can check out the TGR website. I was able to "purchase" our party right through their app. They offer fitness classes (my sister is a member and loves it), but also a whole line of private parties including the aerial class we did, for both adults and kids, as well as pole parties, Ninja Warrior, and burlesque parties!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Strength Training - Pool Therapy

Well, we're still dealing with the knee issue. It's been incredibly frustrating (R is taking it like a champ, I'm the one who is frustrated), but now we're working on trying to maintain range of motion and some strength while we continue to search for answers and healing.

We may live in a small town, but we're fortunate to have a local rec center nearby. I picked up a punch card that should get her into the pool 3-4 times a week for the next month (hopefully by then we'll have some next steps). We weren't given a lot of instructions, just "get her in the pool," so I took to "the Google."

I was able to find some great lower body exercises from Ohio State University that focus on strength training. I don't know if this is right or wrong, but it'll work for now. Thankfully, her MRI is scheduled for next week!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Family, Football, Friends

It's that time of year again, the husband is getting ready to play football. About 2/3 of the way through the Colts' season this year I realized that the Rampage 2016 season was much more promising, and I've been waiting ever since.

Last month I signed the "permission slip" and the Rampage had their final open try-out for the season at Carlisle High School (their home for the upcoming season). A new field, new teammates, and a camera lens mean I can't wait for the first game to get here! And of course above that, the fact that my brother-in-law tried, out means we'll all be spending lots of family time together this season!

If you're in the area, admission is $5 (or check out the discount for season tickets by visiting their Facebook page). It's a fun, family friendly environment, and pretty much the perfect way to spend a Saturday for those of us who think the months between the Super Bowl and training camp (or Friday night lights) are waaayyy too long!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

All Grown Up: Monica Zeringue, Gymnast

Last week I started my new mini-series, All Grown Up, featuring none other than the husband, a Midwest Rampage wide receiver. This week, I'm excited to be able to feature a gymnast! Monica, or FlippinAwesomeMom, was and IS a gymnast, mother of two, and pretty impressive. I actually came across her Instagram account and had to reach out! 

Me: When did you start gymnastics? How long were you actively involved (originally)? 

Monica: I started gymnastics when I was 7 years old. I stayed active until about 19 years old. So a total of about 12 years. :) 

Me: What is the best part about it? 

Monica: The thrill of flying through the air, and of pushing my body to limits I didn't realize I was capable of until I try. I love that I can use my body as a piece of art, as a form of expression! That there are so many different gymnast styles which bring a different kind of beauty for us to appreciate. 

Also, and perhaps a more sobering aspect of the sport, I love that there is always room for improvement. It really humbles you, because while we realize that while we're capable of so much more than we think, our bodies are still so fragile and can break easily. The paradox is frustrating and fascinating at the same time. I feel it really expresses our nature as humans.

Me: What has been the biggest life lesson you have taken away from gymnastics? 

Monica: If I were to pick just one, I'd have to say that my coaches words from my level 9 national competition. This was right after I fell on my last tumbling pass on floor (my last event). If I hadn't fallen I would have had the silver medal. I reported this to my coach at the end of the meet, and in her cold, Ukrainian accent, and completely blunt tone, replied: "If everyone did not fall, everyone would win first place."

It was hard for me to hear this as a young girl, but it was an important lesson for me to learn. Comparing yourself doesn't serve you or others. Our job isn't to compete against other people, but to do our best, focus on what needs improvement right in front of us. When we loose sight of that, we become jealous, bitter, resentful, and we don't perform as well. I believe this can be applied to literally anything in life.  

Me: So what made you want to get involved again and continue training now?

Monica: Exactly this time last year, I wanted to loose some baby weight after I had my second child. I was really depressed at the time, not happy with myself, and just feeling like I was in a rut (mentally, emotionally, physically, financially). At the recommendation of a friend, I started a Beachbody workout/nutrition program called the 21 Day Fix that unexpectedly and completely boosted my confidence. Normally doing workout programs just flared up old gymnastics injuries, but this one was super low impact while still working very effectively. I lost over 14 inches and 7lbs in 21 days. I continued with a few more of their programs: 21 Day Fix Extreme, PiYo, Insanity Max 30, and now I'm working on The Master's Hammer & Chisel. I lost an additional 10 inches off my frame. 

More importantly, each program helped develop different muscles. I began feeling happier and more confident with my body and slowly just started doing old tricks in my home with my kids. Eventually, I got to the point where I needed bigger/better equipment to try some of the things I felt up to doing. This led me to look for local adult classes nearby. After New Years, I found a gym and signed up. I got to fly over the vault last practice! And I'm hoping to swing some giants today! :) Been having a blast! :) 

Me: Is there anything else about your journey that you'd like to share? 

Monica: When I quit at 19, I was worn out and burned from the politics of the sport. I've since been able to find joy in it again thanks to a renewed sense of purpose I've been able to apply. I'm not doing gymnastics for anyone but myself now, and that really makes it much less stressful, and much more fun. Whatever sport you do, make sure you're enjoying yourself. Competition is great, as long as you're having a good time and treating others with respect and kindness. And whatever you're doing, be sure that it brings out the best version of yourself; let your beautiful light shine!

You can follow Monica's journey via social media:
IG: @flippinawesomemom

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Holy Off-Season

If you're anything like me, you've never been a fan of the "off season." It's not fun, competition seems forever away, and it's easy to sit around and eat Cheetos on the couch, binging on Netflix originals (who else is ready for HoC next week?!). I've always admired how hard the girls work in the gym during the off season, but never been much about it myself.\

I love visiting Ada Hayden for exercise in the summer with my favorite gym moms, but once sweatshirt weather arrives, I'm back on my butt waiting for spring. Well this year, in an effort to be a happier, healthier me (more on that later), I joined a gym. I haven't gone super consistently, but from Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day, I tried to hit the gym somewhere around 3x a week. Husband helped me with a weight lifting routine, and the elliptical became my best friend.

On Monday I went for my first run since September. It was a little hard to find a run from last year that compared on both distance and pace. I'm actually in BETTER shape this spring than I was last fall! Who knew?! Okay, a lot of people knew, I just wasn't one of them. I am now an "off season" believer (yeah, I know I don't actually have a season, so I consider summer my season). You'll notice that I was also able to maintain a steady pace this week, versus starting fast and gradually slowing down. I'll never be fast, I hate running, but it's the easiest way (I think) to burn calories and get in shape!