Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Jason blogs: Like a weight has been lifted

Welcome Jason, who's back for a guest post.

I hate being fat. I’ve struggled with weight for as long as I can remember. I was in total denial in high school, but I was fat. I justified it was okay because I was a two sport varsity athlete in ice hockey and lacrosse. I had rarely lifted a weight. I hated running and still do to this day, and I ate very poorly and definitely way too much of it. The reality of my problem was apparent after a photograph of me on my spring break of 2000. Stepping on the scale confirmed I was grossly overweight at 215 lbs. When my girlfriend dumped me I finally found the motivation to learn to lift weights. One grueling hot summer of manual labor, eating healthier, and hitting the gym for an hour every day and I was a fit and slim 155 lbs. by the start of my junior year in college. Before college was done, I would pack on 20 pounds of muscle and combined with my degree, was more confident and ready to take on the world.

In the early days of my marriage and our new life, it was easy to find time to workout and consistently eat right. Then there was a time when I was laid off and couldn’t afford a gym membership. Once that was solved there was rotating shift work, which was constantly changing between working days and nights. It was difficult to overcome the fatigue to get in good workouts and comfort food helped get me through long nights of work. As I was making the change from the pharmaceutical career into the teaching world, I was weighing in at 185 pounds easy.

In my first year of teaching it was so much easier to find time to get in a workout. I didn’t have but two classes to teach as an intern, I was consistent coaching a sport that got me some extra exercise, and our school was big on healthy options so my body started to lose some weight and rebuild lost muscle. Then my world changed again. My wife and I became parents, and had to find new employment and move all in the same summer. After three years of being a parent, being apart of Woodberry’s ridiculously full and busy schedule, as well as eating a lot of “boy” food and I found myself tipping the scales above 200 pounds (203 to be precise).

It wasn’t for lack of trying that I was overweight. In workout programs alone, I have tried the Perfect 10 (from Woodberry), Testosterone Advantage Plan, Couch to 5K, P90X, and countless thrown together workouts. I also play hockey about two times a week. Each of these programs has their advantages, but I found it difficult to keep up with them because at Woodberry, it is hard to find an uninterrupted hour each day of the week outside of Saturday and Sunday. I may have time one day, but not the next, or the day thereafter. Then there is the buffet/dinners here that are heavy on calories (southern comfort food). For the longest time, I had a hard time scrutinizing what I was putting in my system. Three full years of being a father and full time boarding school teacher and I was pushing 20 pounds over my starting weight here. I was in real danger of realizing my fear of being “that guy” when my kids play sports. You know the one. The guy who is yelling encouragement of how to play the game when he looks like he couldn’t make it a 100 meters without sucking down enough wind to confuse symptoms of impending heart attack.

Well friends, nine weeks ago I started doing a new workout program along with eating much healthier and I am now 183 pounds! That’s right, I have lost 20 pounds in nine weeks! I now weigh less than when I first got here and I’m feeling so good and confident. It wasn’t magic. One morning, I was sitting in a Montana State dorm room and feeling guilty that I had spent a week going to school during the day and eating fast food or bar food at night and decided right then and there than I needed to make a change. I found a program that does high intensity 10 to 15 minute workouts and then challenges you eat right but only makes you limit your favorite food items, without giving them up completely. Sounds to good to be true, right? I know I thought so to. That guy who made this up has a weird love of superheroes, selected a clichĂ© name for his program, but has specifically geared his workouts for moms and dads. After reading over his program I thought what the hell, it could only do some good, and there was a very low percentage of actually making me any fatter. With these workouts, I can actually get up and immediately get my workout in very little time and then just make sure I eat small healthy meals five to six times a day. I don’t worry about a last minute consultation, or my baby having a meltdown that could possibly derail my workout because you can always find 10 to 15 minutes to get that workout in. With three weeks to go before I complete the first round of the program, I’m now thinking it’s entirely possible I can get down to 180 pounds before it’s all said and down. I haven’t seen that weight since 2004. That’s almost a decade ago! I may even have an outside chance at something in the 170’s. My wife even wants to start lifting with me again (something we haven’t had the time to do since 2003). Wish me luck!

Workout week
Weight (starting weight 203 lbs.)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Mushroom Hike

While driving down the entrance road on to campus, I noticed a very large, interesting, bright orange mushroom. I pointed out to Sierra through the car window, and later we decided to take a hike to check out the mushroom. It ended up being quite the Mushroom Hike, as we saw all different kinds of mushrooms. I could probably pull out my big mushroom book to identify them and tell you what they are, but I'm not going to do that. Because it's not a priority (and I could use that time to be sewing!).

Sierra did a great job hiking! For those of you that know the area where we live, she walked from our house, all the way to the trail by the entrance, we turned right and walked down the trail through the woods where it came out on the back side of the track. We trekked through the fields, and then back home between the two turf fields.

Kaia spent most of our hike as a passenger, but even she did some walking on the trail in the woods. In fact, she was having such a good time walking down the trail, holding her big sister's hand that when I tried to pick her up and put her back in the carrier, she threw a little fit. So I let her walk some more. She loved it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sports and small ones

Living at a high school, you can imagine that we have ample opportunities to easily get out and watch high school sporting events. We like to go support our teams, especially when they're playing at home, and football games in this area are Events!

The bigger spectator sports that are "in season" right now are football and soccer. And this past weekend, Woodberry hosted a big cross country invitational meet. I must say, the cross country meet was definitely the easiest of those sports to spectate with children. I simply put Kaia up in a carrier on my back and Sierra and I walked around from point to point, watching the runners as they went past. It was great. Sierra had fun cheering and commenting about how fast that runner was going, and it was easy to keep her interested because we kept moving.

Football and soccer, are another story. I would love to watch some of those games, but my children are particularly active, and thus I spend most of my time at a game watching them rather than the players on the field. Usually, I manage to look up when the crowd makes some noise about something, and by then it's too late and I'm asking what just happened.

Jason coaches soccer and last week, I took Sierra and Kaia out to watch his first home game of the year.

They did watch a little bit of the game.
But they definitely had more fun playing on the field after the game.
Ah well, this time is short. In a few years, I'll be watching an entire soccer game uninterrupted and reminiscing chasing my girls around when they were little.

Skill Builder Sampler Block 10

Ah, the Ohio Star. Who knew I would love this block so much? I love how the colors look in this one, and the bird in the center? Oh, yes, this is definitely a favorite. I deviated from the instructions for this one just a little bit. Instead of squares on the corner of the block, I made some half square triangles, using the same fabric as the bird center. I think it nicely frames the block, don't you?

One of my favorite parts of this project is laying out my blocks every week and seeing the quilt come together. Since these blocks are 12 inches when finished, I now have enough for a baby quilt, if I were to stop right now. But I'm not stopping. Twenty-four more finished blocks to a queen sized quilt!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Two days, two finished mei tais

Last week, I managed to finish two mei tais that I had in the works. The first, for my friend Suzanne, has been "in progress" for way too long (sorry Suzanne!). I purchased the fabric when I was in Illinois in July, but never got the chance to begin putting it together. Then, we were in Virginia, and August just sort of got away from me. My self-imposed deadline was August 31st, I finished it September 9th.

Suzanne picked a fabric by Monaluna called entwined, and when the fabric came, it was a really pretty and fresh shade of green with some yellow in it. It's tough to explain in words, and it looks really great in person. You'll have to do with a picture, though. The fabric looks great with the bright navy straps.

This was the first mei tai I made using a new method for securing the sleeping hood ties. I was trying to expedite the construction of the straps and make the mei tai truly reversible (hood ties easily accessible on both sides of the straps) and so of course, since it was my first time manifesting this idea from my thoughts, it took longer. Suz, you'll have to let me know how those tie downs feel on your shoulders (I'm hoping you don't notice them!). The second finish was baby gift from my friend Kathryn, who hired me to make a carrier for a couple I went to graduate school with. Adam and Erin picked a batik leaf print for the main body of the carrier and Erin said that they wanted something "mottled navy and dark green" for the reverse. Hmmm ... I'm always up for a challenge. I took pictures of a couple of options for them, and they ended up choosing another batik for the reverse, something that I picked up at a quilting shop in Charlottesville. The fabric is really beautiful in person, with a hand-dyed look. I tried to up the contrast so you could get an idea of what it looks like.

Riding horses

Sierra and Kaia are riding horses.
What do you mean those don't look like horses? They look like grunge-y old plastic chairs? Hmmm. That's not what Sierra told me. In fact, they are three horses and their names are "Boomer," "Tuba," and "Chilatta." (That last one is pronounced with a short "i", like "chill" or the last part of "enchilada")

She grabs two sticks, and calls them her "yaw sticks," and yells, "Yaw! Go horse-y, go! Yaw! Yaw!"

I don't know where she comes up with these things!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What the smock is that?

On the supply list for preschool is "art smock or old t-shirt." Last year, I had every intention of making her a little art smock, but never got around to it. We went the "old t-shirt" route. No problem. It all keeps paint off the clothes just the same. This year, though, art smock it was! I was so excited to finally complete a project from one of my sewing books!

There's a totally adorable little art smock in this book, and I was more than happy to pull out the pattern. I used a really soft, light weight denim for the main portion, and Sierra picked the pink monsters fabric for the pocket.

I also used the pink monsters to make my own bias tape (that's the trim tape). I suppose I could have purchased some bias tape, but this was a last minute project, and I wanted it done for the first day of school, so I made it. Plus, I think it looks cute with the matching trim.

I made just a couple changes to the pattern. I made it an inch longer than the pattern pieces. I made the pocket out of a double layer of fabric so it would be lined and have more structure. I also made one side of the pocket large and open, and the other with slots to hold a paintbrush or some markers or whatever. Finally, I changed the back closure. Instead of just extending bias tape from the neckline for a tie closure, I added a cute little button and an elastic loop.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Second First Day of Preschool

Yesterday was Sierra's second first day of preschool. As you probably know, she started at Orange Cooperative Preschool in March of last year, but this year, she started on Day One, as the "experienced student."

We started a week later than scheduled because of the earthquake that we had a few weeks ago. It resulted in some damage in a couple school buildings, so they had to delay opening, and we follow their schedule. But we were ready to go as soon as school was in session!

Sierra is in class with several of her Woodberry buddies, so we all met on campus for a couple photos before heading off to preschool. Oh, my! These kiddos are just so cute I can barely stand it! Look at me, gushing parent. But, seriously, have you ever seen more darling children than these!?

Tommy has the attention of the girls

Wanna guess how we got them all to smile at the same time?  Shannon said, "Hey!  Look at my BUTT!"  Ha ha!  Worked like a charm.  

Sophia has a first day of preschool battle wound.  Sierra's wielding the first aid kit.  On the drive into preschool a little later, Sierra told me, "Sophia's tough."

Our four little classmates

The girls head in to school

When we got to the classroom, the kids got acquainted with each other and their teachers and didn't look back. Not a single one of them seemed nervous or scared. I'm just so proud of each of them!

Weekly Wee Read: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Back when I had my giveaway associated with the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day, I asked my commenters to tell me a favorite children's book. I made a list and hope to review them one by one.

Today's pick:
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz, suggested by Catskill Quilter.

I have loved this book since childhood, and I'm so glad that Catskill Quilter picked it as a favorite and it landed on my list. Poor, poor Alexander. He went to bed with gum in his mouth and woke up with gum in his hair. From there, his day just gets worse and worse from breakfast where both of his brothers found a prize in their cereal box, and all he found was cereal. To the carpool, where everyone got to sit by the window except Alexander. To school, where his teacher criticizes him and his mom forgot to pack dessert in his lunch. To after school when he has a cavity and doesn't get the shoes he wants at the shoe store, and gets in trouble for fighting with his brother and makes a mess in Dad's office. To home in the evening where he has to eat lima beans and watching kissing on tv, when he doesn't like either. Finally, his nightlight goes out, and the cat wants to sleep with his brother. Oh, Alexander, we've all had days like that! Alexander wants to move to Australia, but his mother tells him that sometimes we just have bad days, even in Australia. If you haven't read this book, you really should. The story is really cute, and you can't help but feel a little sad for Alexander, who is just getting walloped by his day. It's a good reminder that those bad days do happen, but we can always start over again tomorrow.
Here's the list:

10 Minutes till Bedtime - Peggy Rathmann
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz
Amelia Bedelia - Peggy Parish
Are You My Mother? - P. D. Eastman
The Berenstain Bears - Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain
The Boy and the Moon - James Christopher Carroll
Boy Who Ate Words - Thierry Dedieu
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom - Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault and Lois Ehlert
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type - Doreen Cronin, Betsy Lewin and Randy Travis
Digger Man - Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha
The Elephant Who Liked to Smash Small Cars - Jean Merrill and Ronni Solbert
Enemy Pie - Derek Munson and Tara Calahan King
Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like - Jay Williams and Mercer Mayer
Everywhere Babies - Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee
Fancy Nancy - Jane O'connor and Robin Preiss Glasser
Frog and Toad - Arnold Lobel
Frogs Jump - Alan Brooks
The Gardener - Sarah Stewart and David Small
Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody - Michael Rex
Goodnight Moon - Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
How do Dinosaurs ... (series) - Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
I Love You Stinky Face - Lisa Mccourt and Cyd Moore
If you give a Mouse a Cookie - Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond
Katy and the Big Snow - Virginia Lee Burton
Kitten's First Full Moon - Kevin Henkes
Knuffle Bunny - Mo Willems
Leo the Late Bloomer - Robert Kraus and Jose Aruego
Llama Llama Red Pajama - Anna Dewdney
The Little Engine that Could - Watty Piper
Little Miss Spider - David Kirk
The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Love You Forever - Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel - Virginia Lee Burton
Mr. Men and Little Miss - Roger Hargreaves
Mr. Putter & Tabby - Cynthia Rylant and Arthur Howard
My Great-Aunt Arizona - Gloria Houston and Susan Condie Lamb
My Mommy Hung the Moon: A Love Story - Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell
My Monster Mama Loves Me So - Laura Leuck and Mark Buehner
The Napping House - Audrey Wood
The Night Before Christmas - Clement Clarke Moore
Olivia - Ian Falconer
The Paper Bag Princess - Robert N. Munsch and Michael Martchenko
The Polar Express - Chris Van Al
Poppleton - Cynthia Rylant and Mark Teague
Pirates Don't Change Diapers - Melinda Long and David Shannonlsburg
Please, Baby, Please - Spike Lee, Tonya Lewis Lee and Kadir Nelson
The Quiltmaker's Gift - Jeff Brumbeau
Sheep in a Jeep - Nancy E. Shaw and Margot Apple
The Shoe Books - Noel Streatfeild
Skippyjon Jones - Judy Schachner
Stephanie's Ponytail (Classic Munsch) - Robert N. Munsch and Michael Martchenko
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales - Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble - William Steig
Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born - Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell
To Market, To Market - Anne Miranda and Janet Stevens
The Tomten - Astrid Lindgren
Top Cat - Lois Ehlert
The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle
Where Is the Green Sheep? - Mem Fox and Judy Horacek
Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak
Wild About Books - Judy Sierra and Marc Brown
The Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jiggs - Phoebe Gilman
You Are My I Love You - Maryann K. Cusimano


Sandra Boynton
Jan Brett
Tomie dePaola
Richard Scarry
Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reasons to celebrate

It's been more than a week since Hunt and Lorae hosted a little party at their house, so I'm a little behind on the report. They had a lot of reasons to party, and we were happy to join in on the fun and celebrate:

1. baby's 1st birthday
2. big sister's 3rd birthday
3. the end of summer
4. a move to a new house
5. school starting

I don't need a reason to eat cake, but FIVE reasons? I should have had 5 pieces of cake!
Don't prefer cake? There were popsicles!
There was also a lot of fun to be had by all. Especially this guy.

And this one.

And these gals.

And everyone.

Even the babies!

(Where are you going, babies?!)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Skill Builder Sampler Block 9

Block 9 in the Skill Builder Sampler is the double star. What fun! Two stars in one. I had a few extra "geese" from the last block, and it worked out nicely to use them here. When I made them for Block 8, I decided that I didn't like how they looked with the other sections of that block. Here, though, they work. And it meant less for me to put together for this one! I really love how the dark purple looks next to the green in the outer star.
These are the three blocks made with this month's technique, "flying geese."

And I"m definitely digging how all the blocks are coming together.