Sunday, March 29, 2009

It is in the Cards: Review of the Sane Fitness QuickStart Card Deck by Beverley Caen

You know me, I'm a girl who loves to run. I didn't write the date of my first run on a calendar, so I can't celebrate the exact date that running found me, but I do know it was March/April-ish of 2003. That means I've been running for 6 years now.

Even though I've read just about ever Runner's World printed since May 2003 and have read countless books about running training (I spy 5 on my bookshelf without even straining to read titles from across the room), it wasn't until Fall 2008 that I added a regular strength training element to my workouts. Yoga, yes, but weights, no. I'm a little slow on the uptake sometimes.
I've been following a balance ball workout since last fall that I have really enjoyed (and have seen amazing results!). I'm sold. Strength training is now an essential part of my life. But now, nearly 5 months later, I realize I am confident with using hand weights and a balance ball and that I'm ready to venture forth and mix up my routine a bit. Sort of like with running, if you do the same route over and over . . . you lose your interest in doing it.

Let me introduce you to my new found routine (designed to be completed in under an hour!):

The sane fitness (tm) QuickStart program

In a nutshell (or in a cute little box, as it is) the program is:
A 36 card deck with three sets of routines: A, B, & C
Each routine includes: 6 full-body weightlifting exercises, 2 abdominal exercises & 3 stretches
Each routine should be done after 20 minutes of cardio (I did 25-35 minutes to keep with my running plan - see the treadmill in the background)
The tag line reads, "Full Body Workouts That Won't Drive You Crazy" but I think it should read, "Full Body Workouts That Remind You of Muscles You've Neglected For Far Too Long".

I've only had the cards for a little over a week, but I can tell you that in the 3 workouts I've done (A, B and A again) I have WORKED! I'm sure that my quads will be better equipped to help me handle hilly runs now that the "Dumbbell Split Squat" exercise is part of my routine. I could still feel the burn 2 days later (climbing stairs about killed me!), but I sure do feel that this workout is making me stronger and look forward to my muscles adjusting to and enjoying this new workload.

The kit comes with a cardholder that allows you to clip the day's routine to you. At first I thought this was a bit silly, but then I realized how helpful it was to have the cards on me. While I workout my kids have their TV or movie time so they don't get into too much trouble while I'm occupied. The TV is in our workout space, so I'm right there with them and we can chat while I exercise, too. This also means that my daughter can come over and "help" me. When I'm using a book, this involves her turning the pages "for me". No so helpful, really. But with the cards secured to me on the cardholder, I won't really lose my place - SMART! The clip on the cardholder also allows me to have only the cards I need on me, so I'm not carrying around anything extra.

This would be a good thing to have with you at the gym. You really only need a few "props", but I found that I don't have all of the equipment at home (I have a few dumbbells, a balance ball and yoga mat and strap, but no body bar or weight bench). The cards do have modifications included for those of us without all of the equipment, though! And, does offer a sizable discount on a Gym Source home gym that can get you started. Can't complain about that!

Because I like my readers so much and I am excited about this product, I'm offering my deck to one lucky reader. No, I'm not ditching the deck because I don't like it - I'm downloading the sane fitness (tm) Next Level set directly from to keep rolling with the program!

Sane fitness (tm) also offers a Sane FitKit(tm) Complete program and a Sane Preggers FitKit(tm). Worth checking out!

To be entered into the drawing for the sane fitness (tm) QuickStart, simply leave a comment below about how fitness keeps you sane! And be sure to let me know how I can contact you if you are chosen.

The winner will be chosen on April 30th. US residents only for this, please.

*Special thanks to my husband who documented my sane fitness (tm) workout while riding his trainer in the opposite corner of our workout space! And thanks to our daughter who "helped" while decked out in her "'oga" shorts (though she refused to put on a shirt).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Starting with a Thankful Heart (and strong muscles!)

Here we are - Monday!

First of all, if you didn't already know it, this week is the HUGE 5 Minutes for Mom Ultimate Blog Party. Check out the site for all the juicy details on how you can win prizes and visit other bloggers with GIVEAWAYS! It ends on the 27th, so be sure to see how you can take part in the festivities while the party is in full swing.

And now . . . the wonderful things that make my heart thankful as we get our week started:

1. My daughter is nearly potty-trained! We've ditched the diapers during the daytime (and even on outings!). Of course this new adventure for her also includes a regular post-potty report - and, yes, she describes size and amount for us. Ah, to be 2!

2. I was chosen to review the "sane fitness (tm) QuickStart Full Body Workout That Won't Drive You Crazy" workout card deck. I tested the first day of the program yesterday (and hubby even took pictures for documentation!). I DO feel empowered after just one day and look forward to the next few workouts so I can report back to you soon with my review.

3. Mr. Music's second ear infection of the winter is just about gone, which is appropriate since it is now spring! He still has fluid causing pressure and discomfort, but the infection is gone. Whew!

4. We attended an auction for Mr. Music's school on Saturday night and "won" some great prizes. We've been talking about attending some professional sports games in the Seattle area since we moved here 4 years ago - and have only managed to get to two professional hockey games. But now, thanks to our winning bid on the Sports Enthusiasts Package, this year will be fun-filled with a Mariner's game (baseball), a Storm game (basketball), and a Seahawks game (football). We'll also be taking a kayaking class!

5. We were sad when we had to cancel our trip to see my husband's family in February because everyone under our roof was sick, but my mother-in-law just got tickets to come see us over Easter. The kids won't know until JUST before we get her from the airport, but just the thought of a fun visit puts a smile on my face and I know my husband is looking forward to seeing his mom, too!

Have a great week, everyone. And get on over to that Blog Party!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My New Running Gear!

When it comes to running clothes, I have to confess - I'm cheap. I never skimp on footwear (not even socks!), but my running shorts and shirts generally come off the clearance clearance rack. No, that wasn't a type-o, I really do mean I purchase the WAY discounted stuff and then run it into the ground.

But then I met Sally Bergesen, the founder of Oiselle Running, and I really liked her. This woman is REAL, she's a dedicated runner (her staff knows not to schedule meetings during her running breaks!), a mother and a business owner. Her story is fabulous, her energy is contagious, and she was supporting Girls on the Run of the Puget Sound with me at their auction last year. Since that meeting I've kept my eye on the Oiselle website, enjoying the updates on the new clothing lines, reading about the great press the company is receiving, etc.

Last week I caught wind through MizFit's site that Oiselle was cleaning house to make room for their new line. I think that announcement was just for me - a SALE on top notch, high quality running clothes. I treated myself to two tops and two pairs of shorts - which all coordinate beautifully to give me some mix and match options. I was so excited I boasted about my purchase on my Facebook status. My husband thought I was nuts.

But then my order arrived and I modeled the clothes for him. He started with, "Wow. You look sharp!" I thought it would end there, but he continued, "No, really. Everything fits you really well and you look fit and put together. Wow." That's right, folks, I will no longer be running in public looking like I rolled out of bed and threw on whatever was on the floor from my previous run (ew, really I wouldn't EVER do that, but it might look that way). As for the fabric . . . I wish ALL of my clothes felt so yummy.

When I'm introduced at races to other runners as the author of a children's book about running, maybe people will look at me like, "This gal's got it together!" instead of "Hmmmm. That's nice. Is this your first race?" And I've got Sally and her amazing creative team at Oiselle to thank for my new look. Once I take these new duds out for a public appearance I may even be tempted to pay full price to get some of the great new offerings in the new line. Oh, yes, I'm THAT sold on the gear.

You, too, can purchase directly through the website or at many fine running establishments across the country. See for yourself. And, as always, happy running . . . in style!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lost in the Pages: Review of Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen by Cari Best

I adore our small town library. The librarians know my kids and me by name, story time is presented by the librarian who has worked her entire career there (she's now enjoying sharing books with kids of the kids she first read and taught rhymes to!), and it is a branch of the very large King County Library System, so we can get our hands on just about any book we want.

Sometimes we think ahead and reserve titles through their website (handy for getting the Magic Tree House books next on our list). Other times we just browse the shelves to locate old favorites and hope to stumble upon some new favorites. That's just what happened on last week's library adventure. We stuffed our reusable library bag with our old stand-by Cynthia Rylant titles (smile makers from the Henry & Mudge series and the sweet Mr. Putter & Tabby collection), some early independent readers for Mr. Music's exploding reading skills and a book that grabbed my attention: Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen written by Cari Best and illustrated by Christine Davenier.

I'm not sure if it was the illustration of a red-headed girl on the cover that called to me (I am one of 3 red-heads living in my house, after all), or the captivating title that urged me to get this one last book, despite the fact that it would have to be hand carried since the library bag was already bulging. Whatever the reason, we are all glad to have it in our home - this book is WONDERFUL!

We follow Sally Jean from her earliest years when she was perched in the kid seat on her mother's bike to her confident, independent years when she worked to build herself a new bike. Best's use of patterns make the book a delightful read for my kids (4.5 and 2).

In the beginning we see Sally Jean waving from behind her mom, or on her tricycle or on her "yard-sale bike with two small wheels that hugged the ground". In all these instances, we're treated with Sally Jean's optimism and delight for riding with the same simple phrase. '"Hi!" she said to the big kids on their bikes."

My son cheered for her when she finally develops the skills to count herself among the ranks of two-wheel riders. '"Wait for meeee!" she called to the big kids on their bikes."

As a former little girl, I find myself drawn to the optimistic energy and celebration of outdoor adventure in Sally Jean. Davenier's illustrations more than capture the joy that Sally Jean finds in life. I can almost see myself in them, despite the fact that bike riding was a tumultuous and difficult skill for me to learn (we lived at the bottom of a hill right off a main drag . . . not fabulous for kids to enthusiastically acquire the skills!). In fact, this book almost erases those memories of apprehension - now I can live vicariously through a fellow-redhead. That's the magic of books, right?

As a mother, I see Sally Jean as a positive role model (and even heroine!) for my children. At one point she finds that she has outgrown her treasured bike, Flash. Undaunted by the expense of a new bicycle, Sally Jean heads out to earn money (teaching bicycle maintenance and repair to the neighbor children, of course!) to buy used parts and build her own new bike, Lightening, with the help of a mentor. I also like that this girl is out living life, moving her body and having a blast!

This book really has it all: shared family experiences, community building, problem solving, celebration, mentoring (she takes a small child under her wing, too!), and the joy of childhood. This library treasure is so good that I'm off to put it on my Amazon Wish List so I can add it to my cart for my next purchase.
Seriously. Go check it out!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I feel like I haven't posted in years. Thankfully it really has only been 6 days, but WOAH, have those been packed days! Here's the week by the numbers (to keep it simple):

2 - recent reviews of We Are Girls Who Love to Run (both by men - and the FIRST reviews by men since the book's release!) I'm honored by the time and effort these runners put into such well-written and positive reviews of the book. The first one, at Let's Run, was written by the father of two girls who totally captured the essence of what I hope to accomplish with the book. The second one is even bilingual, which just blew me away - thanks Pavement Runner!

12 - types of precipitation or weather-type today alone (snow, sleet, rain, sunshine, wind storm,
"snain" - our own word to describe the rain and snow that fell simultaneously . . . I could go on).

5 - days of workouts this week (strength training, running, hill work . . . woohoo!!!).

3 - hours of Super Hero play (photos to follow soon!) . . . including the awesome comment from my son to my husband, "Go put on YOUR super hero clothes so you can help us catch the bad guys, Dad!" It still makes me giggle to think about it.
1 - finished quilt! FINALLY ready to clip the threads and send it off to our nephew (who is now 4 months old). Good thing I picked dinosaur prints, because he's just about out of the baby print phase.

4 - family members watching Tarzan 2 this afternoon (I knocked out 3.25 miles on the treadmill while my husband did 30 minutes on his bike trainer and the kids watched the movie!). It is great to have my husband back with me for workouts. I missed him and I know that with the heavy load from work that his body and mind missed the release of physical activity, too. I'm looking forward to nice weather so he and I can head out for runs again!

countless - episodes of separation anxiety by Little Sister. My husband has been working insane hours lately and I think she's afraid that if I leave I'll be gone for a long time, too. This, too, shall pass, right?

1 - super sick dog. Our former dog (she now lives with my parents so we see her quite regularly but don't have the allergy issues anymore and she gets all the attention she needs!) is very, very sick. My parents have been on 24 hour watch with her and are awaiting blood test results to make the difficult decision for what to do next. Please keep Princess Fiona Wigglesworth in your thoughts and our family in your prayers as we await the news of what can be done for this sweet 7 year-old Boxer girl.

I wish you a good week and happy running! Thanks for reading . . .

Monday, March 9, 2009

Starting with a Thankful Heart in a Snow Globe

It is snowing again here. I'm not talkin' a few little wimpy flakes, or even the on-again/off-again freezing rain we experienced yesterday. Today's snow is the REAL deal - it started about an hour ago and we already have 2-3 inches. Our street looks like someone coated it with whiteout. The birds all look confused and we have giant cotton balls on the branches.

If I actually took a photo today, it would look much like this picture of us in December. But, we're too cozy inside today (and Little Sister is a bit too grumpy with her molars coming in) to bundle up and head outside.

Despite the birds' confusion, Mother Nature is giving us a visual treat. The kids are getting a total kick out of describing the way the snow is falling, since it seems to change every five minutes. According to them, the snow has transitioned from:









float racing

back to


And so, now that the snow is slowing (dusting, I'd call it), I can pry myself away from the window to think about what I'm thankful for this week:

1. Our "hot" date on Saturday night to Costco, Target and Qdoba while the kids enjoyed their first sleep-over at my parents' house in over a month.

2. Wednesday afternoon Mr. Music and I will complete the final requirement for the application process at the Multi Age school in our district (the student visit). The lottery will be drawn in early April and we'll finally know what the plan is for Kindergarten.

3. MizFit is rolling on creating a MizFit Mag!

4. I looked down at my legs yesterday before doing my Treadmill 5K and realized that my "Runner Legs" are back! Now that I'm back on track with running 4-5 days/week and doing my strength training, I'm seeing the results. Now I'm feeling more confident that a few 10Ks and a Half-marathon will be good fits for this year.

5. The quilt my mom and I are making for the school auction is nearly complete. I'll post a photo after I put the finishing touches on it tomorrow. It is INCREDIBLE! Neither of us has made anything like it before.

How about YOU? What are you thankful for this week? Did you reach a fitness goal? did you finish a fantastic book, did you try a new recipe that was a big hit? Come on, don't be shy - celebrate it with a quick note in my comments!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Laundry Time

First of all, I'd like to turn your attention to the fact that today is International Women's Day! Check out the official website and see if there is a way that you and your family can honor the day in your home. In celebration of the strength of women, I did a treadmill 5K this morning (there was still ice on the ground outside, so I opted for the safer running alternative).

And now . . . on with my regular thoughts today:

As I was putting in the second load of laundry this morning, it dawned on me that each type of laundry has its own indicator for when it should be washed:

1. Mr. Music's clothes need washing when he's out of pants. This kid goes through an average of 2-3 pairs of pants/day. Sometimes they can be re-worn, but more times than not the food/playdoh/snot/dog slobber wins and the pants go in the laundry pile.

2. Little Sister's clothes need washing when she's out of socks. Like her big brother, she likes to change her clothes frequently. She's happiest in a shirt and undies (just about potty trained, she is!) and socks, so we don't have the same pants problems with her; however, she averages 4-5 pairs of socks/day. I'm not exaggerating. I was prepared for needing lots of shoes with a daughter (especially since her dad and I BOTH have a love for shoes), but I had no idea we'd have such a need for a mountain of socks!

3. Workout clothes have their own story. On great workout/running weeks, I wash the clothes when I can smell them (if we're both active, this can be after just 2 days!). Several days in a row of sweaty clothes really brews quite the odor. On not so great workout weeks, the clothes have a chance to air out between workout days, so I don't think to wash them until I'm out of my good sports bras.

4. Grown-up laundry sneaks in between the other laundry. Often this means having to be creative with clothing combinations when the pickings get slim. And of course there's carrying heaping baskets of clothes downstairs to the laundry room (good workout!) in hopes that two of our loads can be done before any of the other loads require attention, too. Someday this pecking order will change, right?

5. Since ousting paper towels, we do towel laundry a few times/week. Cloth napkins and wash cloths are the way to go! Even though these need more frequent washing, the kids can help fold them, so it doesn't seem like such a chore.

How about YOU? Are your laundry habits dictated by any particular family member quirks? Or are you the organized person who always does laundry on a certain day of the week? Come on, fess up!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Interview by The Running Knitter

The Running Knitter sent along these five questions for me to complete as a fun little blog interview. Eileen posted her interview and I left her a comment letting her know I wanted to join in on the fun. She emailed me the questions so here are my answers. If you’d like to be interviewed, be sure to follow the directions at the end!

1. How did you come up with the idea to write your book "We are Girls Who Love To Run"?

I've known since I was a kid that I wanted to write books (the Young Author competition was the highlight of every year for me in elementary school!), so it was just a matter of time before I made it happen for real.

There wasn't much time to think about writing when I was teaching and getting my Master's (and marathon training!), so it had to wait until life settled a bit. When I finished school and then stepped away from teaching to have my own children, I had more time for brainstorming and word play. I also have a husband who has his own passion for writing, so he supported me as I ran after this dream (no pun intended).

I wrote several rough drafts of other stories about running, but none of them worked out to be just right for a first book. When I thought back to the inspiration Girls on the Run brought to my students who ran (and to me, second hand), I knew my first book needed to be a gift for girls who embrace running. Running didn't find me until I was 23, so We Are Girls Who Love to Run is my uplifting nudge for girls of all ages to see how welcoming the world of running is . . . as well as how the power of running spills into all areas of life. Hopefully it will encourage girls to give it a try earlier in life - and maybe even get their moms, aunts, sisters, cousins, neighbors interested in it, too. I believe it is important to pass the torch to others!

Shameless plug: If you are interested in getting a copy of my book, you can find it at, at specialty running stores in the Puget Sound region, at Dragonfly Secrets in the St. Louis area, or by mail order through Balanced Steps, LLC. Place your mail order by this Friday, March 6th and Balanced Steps will knock $5 off the price of the book in celebration of International Women's Day on Sunday, March 8th! Be sure to read my reviews of other great running and uplifting books here.

2. What advice would you have for other moms who are trying to balance family, work, and exercise?

Balance is a tricky thing. I try to take things one day at a time, because what works for me one day often doesn't work the next! There are countless variables in motherhood, as there are in the work world. And there are days when priorities flip.

Ideally I'd like to exercise 5-6 days/week. Realistically I currently get in an average workouts 3-4 days/week (not counting walks to the park with the kids or yard work). Truthfully there have even been a few stretches along the way where a week (or two) goes by without a single workout. Working out first thing in the morning enables me to get my workouts in - if I haven't done it by 7:30AM on weekdays or 10AM on weekends, it likely isn't happening. I also do a childcare swap once a week with a friend - sometimes I use the time to run, other times I write, and sometimes I nap!

I am a better mother and a better writer, and essentially a better person, when I get in my runs and my balance ball workouts. Throw in a yoga class or a class at the YMCA and I am in my element! Even my kids will tell you that life is best when I get in my exercise. But I also know that there are times when it is okay to take a break (like when the kids are sick and I'm not getting any sleep . . . or I'm sick . . . or we have visitors staying at our home). These breaks make my return to running even sweeter. I try not to beat myself up about missed workouts and to celebrate the days when I get in my groove and GO. That's my yellow-hatted nature, I suppose.

3. What do you enjoy most about running?
I love that it is time just for me. I can use the time to think about something specific or to just let my mind go while I focus on my breath and posture or nothing at all. The increased energy level after a run is a definite plus for chasing around 2 young children the rest of my day. Running also keeps my optimism flowing. I could keep going with this list, but I'll stop now while I'm ahead . . . and you are still reading!

4. What is your favorite holiday and why?

I have to go with Christmas for this one. I could sit by a Christmas tree all day long, soaking in the twinkle of the lights and the sparkle of the ornaments. The glow warms my soul and makes me feel more twinkly, too. I also like planning special gifts for the people I love. Sadly, this is my husband's least favorite holiday . . . but we're working on that!

5. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

Can I pick more than one?? As someone who spent a semester abroad in college, I think spending time in a foreign country is something everyone should consider doing. I'd go back to Italy in a heartbeat, but also have interest in visiting other European countries (Germany, Ireland, and Norway top that list). I think my husband and I may head to Australia for 2 weeks next year to celebrate our 10th Anniversary, as that is a place neither of us has explored and we're already on the West Coast. The REI Adventures seem awfully appealing, especially after a long winter!

To play along:

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.