I had my swim lesson with Tabitha today.  For the first half, we practiced the breaststroke.  I’m finally starting to get it.  There are really only 4 steps:  Pull, Breathe, Kick, and Glide.  I seem to be much better when I remember to do the steps independently of each other.  For the longest time, I was trying to pull and kick at the same time.  Now, I just need to keep practicing.  I’m hopeful that it will become easier over time.  For the lifeguarding class, I don’t need to swim the breaststroke.  But, if I go on to take WSI (Water Safety Instructor), I’ll need to swim 50 yards of each stroke as part of the prerequisites.

I can do the backstroke, elementary backstroke, crawl and almost breaststroke so far.  Today, I felt like it was time to be introduced to the butterfly stroke.  My instructor hates the butterfly.  I can see why.  It’s a very awkward stroke.  After some examples and a bit of instruction, I attempted the kick.  There was laughter all around.  By the time my lesson ended, I felt a bit familiar with the stroke.  I certainly think I’ll need to work on it more.  I’ll also need to build endurance to be able to complete 50 yards.  It’s a rather aggressive stroke.

I have one more lesson scheduled for next week.  Unless there are lifeguarding skills to practice, we’ll probably work on the butterfly.


Yesterday, I took my spin class.  Monday’s class is still my favorite.  I’m still rather hung up on the Virgin HealthMiles pedometer that I am wearing to earn real money through Stephen’s work.

According to the Virgin HealthMiles website, the following activity is recommended:

“But how much activity do you need?

  • 30 minutes of moderate physical activity or 15 minutes of vigorous activity 5 days a week (or any combination of those) is considered enough activity to reap these health benefits.
  • Measured in steps, taking over 7,000 steps a day, 5 days a week is considered the right amount of regular, moderate physical activity.
  • 15 minutes of Active Minutes, or vigorous activity, 5 days a week will also get the job done. “

Unfortunately, if you achieve the above, you don’t come anywhere close to earning the maximum amount for the pedometer use.  In my case, we are talking about $300.  The whole project really bugs me since the numbers to achieve the different levels don’t add up.  But, here I am still playing along.

My goal yesterday was to see if I could max out the miles available for the day.  For me, that meant that I needed to log into the site (10 healthmiles), enter two activities (20 healthmiles) and complete 45 active minutes or 20,000 steps (100 healthmiles).

So, at my spinning class, I ignored the instructor and used the motivation from the class and music to spin.  I kept spinning at a good clip the entire class.  I only slowed down to stand a couple of times to stand and give me a break from sitting on the bike seat.  I looked at the pedometer a few times and new that I was on track.  During the hour long class, I was able to accumulate 45 active minutes.  It did take me a couple extra minutes during the cool down.


On one hand, this is a great accomplishment.  I maxed out with 130 HealthMiles yesterday.  On the other hand, I didn’t do any interval training and rode at a constant pace.  It would be unhealthy for this to become my daily workout for the rest of the year.  And, I’m pretty sure that’s about what I would need to do to end up with the 36,000 HealthMiles to earn the $300.

It’s really not about the actual money.  It’s about a plan that should be motivating, but is actually demotivating on several levels.  For now, I am experimenting and trying to get additional feedback from other participants and from Virgin HealthMiles.  Maybe at some point, I’ll figure out that I am missing something.

 Posted by at 10:35 PM

On Saturday, March 10th, I attended the Cracking of the Cheese at Whole Foods Market.  Since I was a bit short on time, I went to the smaller Woodmere location on Chagrin Blvd.  The entire parking lot was full and I was a bit leery of the crowd that I might find in the store.

Lucky for me, I arrived in time to get a seat right in front of Jason and his 90 block of cheese.  As it turned out, there were only about 15 people there for the event.  I sat next to Sarah from Cooker Girl.  It was nice to run into her.



Jason talked about the history and making of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

  • gets its name from the city of Parma and Reggio
  • dates back to 12th century
  • cows fed only food from the region
  • consortium oversees all of the parts of the operation
  • milk fat is used in butter and mascarpone
  • 90% of the production is consumed in Italy

He also talked about the tools used to crack open a wheel.


As part of the Whole Foods event, every store was cracking a wheel at 3PM Eastern.


90 pounds of deliciousness will run about $1500 retail.


Samples were free.


I was glad that I attended the event and hope to see more of the store demos and events in the future.  Thanks to Jason for sharing his talent and love of cheese with us.

 Posted by at 8:25 PM

Today, Nick and I went to a Pampered Chef Party.  I’m familiar with the products, but had never been to a party.  This wasn’t a normal party.  It was hosted by Trevor, who owns Fresh Fork Market CSA.

When we arrived, Nick was whisked away to the attic, where Trevor was excited to show him a train.  Nick has a couple of small Lego type trains, but never had seen a real model train up close and personal.  Needless to say, Nick was quite occupied with the train most of our visit.


Clark Pope is a Pampered Chef consultant, has a catering business and is a Fresh Fork Market CSA customer.  He had an open house style party.  He was cooking pizza in the kitchen and many Pampered Chef products were on display.  It was a very low pressure sales event with the emphasis on food and fun.  I had the pleasure of meeting Diane.  She’s known to many as “the pie lady”.  She runs the Humble Pie Baking Company.  I had her apple pie at Thanksgiving and it was superb!  I really enjoyed chatting with her about local ingredients and preserving.


Later, Trevor was busy cooking turkey burgers for us to sample.  He’s working on some new products and wanted some input.  I had a sweet Italian turkey sausage burger.  It was extremely flavorful, but a bit spicy for my taste.  A bit later, Nick and I had a bite of a sundried tomato turkey burger.  Nick really liked it a lot.  I thought it was good, but maybe a bit too salty.  In all my weeks of picking up our CSA, I never took a photo of “Mr. Robert”.  He was enjoying his time at the gathering.


I had a great time and even ordered a few items.  Nick is already looking forward to his next visit.  He made train sounds all the way home.

 Posted by at 9:27 PM

On March 3rd, the Mythic Creatures exhibit opened.  Last night, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History hosted a member-only evening to enjoy the exhibit, crafts, live animals and refreshments.  We arrived about 40 minutes early and enjoyed a picnic near the outside dinosaur.

Once the event opened, our first stop was for Nick and Sally to make dragon wing hats.  They loved wearing them around.


They really enjoyed moving the different creature parts around on the felt board to create new creatures.  We had already been to the exhibit last week, but no photos are allowed.  There is also a new art exhibit that goes along with the mythic creature theme.


After enjoying refreshments and making a dragon craft, we headed outside.  It has been so beautiful out.


Per usual, Nick and Sally were jumping for joy!


It’s so fun that they enjoy the museum so much!


My Thursday workouts with my partner in crime, under the direction of our trainer, Jen continued yesterday.  I am very stiff and rather sore today.  I even treated myself to a 15 minute chair massage and my back is still bothering me.  I think it was the 150 kettlebell swings.

I’m really starting to enjoy the workouts.  They are challenging and Jen does a great job of mixing everything up.  Yesterday’s workout included several exercises that were new to me.

I still feel like an hour is a long time.  But, I’m so glad to be getting good strength training workouts.  I can really tell the difference.

Here’s the workout:

3 sets of the following:

  • Sled Leg Press 5 positions x 12each
  • Kettlebell Swings 15lb x 50
  • Shoulder Goal Posts 8lb x 20
  • Shoulder Overhead Press 8lb x 15
  • Standing Sidebends 25lb x 20ea side

2 sets of the following:

  • Single Leg Deadlift 10lb x 15ea leg
  • Tbar Row 3 postions x 12each
  • Step-Step-Kick band x 1-2minutes
  • Scull Crushers + Chest Press 15lb bar x 12 each
  • Cable Torso Rotation 30lb x 20ea side

I can’t wait to see what’s in store next week!

 Posted by at 8:25 PM

It’s hard to believe that it’s week 11 already.  It’s also the middle of March.  It won’t be long until we are picking strawberries!  We arrived at Beachwood High School to find Trevor manning the truck this week.  Also, due to baseball practice, the truck was in a different part of the parking lot.  I had that strange feeling that I was there on the wrong day for just a second.  Once we circled around the lot, Nick noticed the green bags and all was well.

Here’s what we were expecting to receive this week:

  • 1 pack pork loin chops
  • 1 bag corn crackers
  • 2 lb. black turtle beans
  • 1 pint salsa
  • 1 bag mixed salad greens
  • 1 pint sorghum syrup
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1 lb. assorted sausage
  • 1 lb. sweet corn
  • 1 lb. kale, bunched

Here’s a group shot:


We’ll use the beans in a combination of a Mexican casserole and also black bean burgers.  The ground pork will also go in our casserole.


The pork chops are the best.  We’ll probably just season them and bake them in the oven.  The corn was frozen last summer and it’s been delicious.  We’ll add it to our Mexican dish or use it as a side.


The sorghum syrup was a head scratcher last year.  We ended up using it in a bbq glaze type of sauce that we put over ham loaf.  It was delicious.  I have no idea how we made the sauce, so we’ll be experimenting once again.  I’m thinking of using it as the main sweetener in some homemade sauce.  So far, tomato sauce, vinegar, spices, onion, peppers and syrup come to mind.  I’m not a huge fan of this type of greens, but we do our best to eat it in salads.


I’ll be putting the kale and salsa in our casserole as well.


Everyone in our house loves these chips.  If they don’t get eaten first, they’d be a nice addition to our Mexican meal.  Eggs are so easy for us to use.  I just saw a recipe for some muffin casserole bites that are egg based.  I think I’ll try it this week.


We picked up a few extras as well.  Krispie treat granola ($5) and 2 yogurts ($5 each).


I’m excited for this week because I can do just a little cooking and have several meals.  Sometimes I like being a lazy cook.


Today, I had another lesson with Tabitha.  After Sunday’s lifeguarding class, my main concern was being able to do the head splint with a submerged victim skill properly.

My biggest problem with this skill is that I float.  In many applications, it’s good to float.  When I need to tread water, I can do so with very little effort.  I don’t have any trouble staying afloat for long periods of time.

So, when I try to go down under water for any period of time, I literally have to fight the water to stay down.  Even with some of my best dives, I have a short amount of time for the rescue.  Feet first dives don’t seem to work for me.  I can sort of do them and I can get both feet to the bottom.  But, it seems that successful rescues will involve a head first dive.

Tabitha and I spent most of the lesson working on dives and rescues.  I was able to rescue her several times.  The test will be if I can rescue the instructor.  He sinks.

So far, I am glad that we don’t have a really deep pool.  I’d probably be struggling if we had to rescue victims in nine feet water.

After a few successful rescues, we went back to working on the breaststroke.  My kick has improved and my feet stay in the water more.  But, I still need lots of practice.

Maybe next week we’ll tackle the butterfly.

 Posted by at 7:52 PM

Last night was the monthly meet up for the Ohio Blogging Association.  We took a couple hours out of our busy schedules and volunteered at the Cleveland Food Bank.

Once we arrived, we watched a short video and Alan showed us a bit of the warehouse.  Since I used to run a packing and assembly warehouse, it was fascinating to see the facility.


There were several groups volunteering last evening.  Our OBA group worked on the BackPack for Kids Program.  This program is a discreet way to send children home with a back pack full of food for 6 meals.  The issue is that many children in need only eat at school.  When Friday comes, they don’t have food for the weekend.    The kids get a backpack and a can opener at the beginning of the year and each week they bring back their empty backpack and it gets refilled.  The webpage mentioned an average of 2,300 kids served a week, but I am pretty sure 3,700 is a more current number.  The thought of that many kids needing food for the weekend makes me sad.

George, who works for the food bank, got us started.  I volunteered to help keep the assembly line stocked.  I was in charge of Vienna sausage, pasta O’s, and corn.  Since each bag got two cans of pasta and corn, I was super busy.  I was also supposed to break down the cardboard and keep the area clean.  In actuality, I summoned help as needed for that part.  Within minutes, I was definitely sweating and getting a good workout.


The bags contained other things including milk, cereal, applesauce, etc.  The bags were nutritionally balanced and  included items that most kids would eat.  In addition to the line, we had people working on boxes and filling the skid.  By the end of our time, we had filled over 500 bags.


I posed with the new skid of corn.  We ran out for just a minute while the staff replenished our line with a new skid.


We had 11 bloggers in total participate.


In addition to myself, we had:

It was nice to see some familiar faces and also meet some new bloggers.  At the end of our volunteering time, we took a few minutes to introduce our blogs and make announcements.

While I was gone, Nick was asking Stephen where I was.  He explained to Nick that I was working at the food bank.  He further explained that a food bank organizes food so it can be given out to people who need it.  Nick made the connection to the Lenten Pretzels at church.  Each year, the kids make pretzels and sell them to congregation members.  The proceeds are used for a variety of projects to help other kids in need.  Nick made the connection that the pretzel money helped kids that need food, too.  It was super nice to hear that he was able to make the connection.

I was taking my lifeguarding class, but Stephen was able to snap a few photos.

Here’s a tray of finished pretzels and a couple of Nick applying the cinnamon sugar.


The food bank utilizes over 11,000 unique volunteers a year.  Kids 6 and older can volunteer on special family nights.  I’ll be keeping that in mind for when Nick and Sally are a little older.  It’s easy to take things we have for granted.  Volunteering last night really made me appreciate things a bit more today.


Yesterday was the first beautiful, warm, weekend day that we have been able to enjoy outside.  After I got home from my lifeguarding class, we decided to head to the Duck Pond at the North Chagrin Reservation.  Near the Nature Center there are 2 ponds.  I’m not sure if either have a formal name, but we usually just say we’re going to the Duck Pond.  To Nick and Sally, that encompasses the entire area of 2 ponds, education building, nature center, etc.

We arrived to find a very full parking lot.  Lots of families were out enjoying the beautiful day.  Nick and Sally were happy to be in light jackets and hats.


We arrived at the first pond to find tons of turtles enjoying the sun.  I can’t ever remember seeing turtles before.  And they were everywhere!


Most of the turtles we saw were on logs in the pond.  The last one on the grass actually lives in the nature center.  Mindy brought him out so he could stretch his legs and get some fresh air.  She spent time talking to Nick and Sally about his favorite foods like worms and slugs.


We enjoyed a walk around the big pond.  Nick and Sally stopped to look for fish.  Sally also posted for a photo with mommy.


Sally is very intrigued by her shadow.  She was giggling and having a great time.


After several hours in class and the indoor pool, it was so nice to be outside with the family for a while.  We ended the day with dinner with friends.

 Posted by at 10:00 PM