Today, I attended my second lifeguarding class.  We started out in the classroom with a few videos reviewing surveillance from last week.  We also watched videos about escapes, in-line stabilization, and recues with backboarding.  After about an hour, we took a short break and meet up in the pool.  We added a person this week, so our class now has 7 students.

At the pool we practiced skills including things like:

  • submerged victims in deep water
  • manual in-line stabilizations
  • backboarding – shallow and deep rescues
  • escapes (how to get away when a save doesn’t go as planned)

I’m a floater.  It’s good to be a floater when you are swimming.  However, I don’t make a great victim.  It’s hard for me to play a submersed victim.  I also have a hard time going under long and deep enough to rescue a submerged victim.  On Wednesday, we’ll be practicing during my swim lesson.

I thought the backboarding skills were particularly interesting.  It’s really amazing how much you have to work together as a team for different types of rescues.  It was also good to be a victim and get a feel for laying on the board, getting strapped in and lifted out.  Some pools in the area hardly ever have a backboard rescue.  But, at least one local pool does about 3 a week during the summer.  All of the skills are taken quite seriously.  I have a totally new appreciation for lif guards after just two of my classes.

We concluded our class by swimming 300 yards.  All in all, we were in and out of the pool for over 3.5 hours.  It was a busy and tiring day.

Next week we are off and then on the 25th, we’ll be covering victim care.  I haven’t been current in First Aid and CPR for a few years, so it will be good to review all of the skills.


Today, we invited my parents up for a visit to Lake Farmpark.  It was a chilly and beautiful day.  My parents had never been to Lake Farmpark, so we had fun showing them around.

The first stop was the solar panel station just outside the main entrance.  Nick was happy to show grandma how it worked.  Nick and Sally both enjoyed the wagon ride.  No trip to Farmpark would be complete without a ride.


One of my favorite parts of visiting this time of year is all of the baby animals.  It seems that every time you visit, there are some newborns that are just a few days old.


After the barn visit we headed up to the Plant Science Building.  In honor of maple sugaring, there were a couple of crafts for the kids.


The staff is always so friendly and these volunteers were no exceptions.  Lori helped Nick and Sally with rubbings of plants and spider webs.  Joe was happy to answer all of Nick’s questions about the aquaponics system.  He even brought out some fish food so we could try to see the Koi.  I’ve been to Farmpark many times and I never knew there were fish!  Thanks to Lori and Joe for being so great with the kids.


Last year, we went up to the the sugar house too soon.  The park opens at 9AM, but we learned from experience that you don’t want to go until you see smoke!  After spending time with the above activities, we headed to the evaporator.  I was excited to try the maple stirs since we missed out on them last year.  Basically, they give you a serving of hot syrup and you mix air into it with your stirrer.  Once it’s cooled a bit and creamy, you enjoy it.  They were delicious.  For $1, it’s a unique treat.  Next time, I’ll remember to get them one or two at a time.  It was hard to stir ours and help the kids at the same time.  After we finished our treats, I purchased a gallon of maple syrup.  It was $48 minus our 10% discount.  That’s a good price for fresh, local, syrup.


After we looked around at the displays for a bit, Stephen took Nick on a quick side trip to see some of the tree sap.


In addition to the formal maple sugaring weekend, the quilts were still on display.  Quilts are amazing pieces of work.  We found ourselves wishing the creators listed how many hours they took.  I’m not sure how many quilts were on display, but it was well over 100.  They were spread out in several areas of the main building.


The kids were both exhausted by the time we finished lunch and both took great naps.  It was a great family day.


Nick is still taking swim lessons.  He usually goes once a week on Thursday.  I’m so glad that he loves the water!  I think he is the class clown.  He always seems to be goofing around.  I talked to one of the instructors today.  She said he just likes the water.  I’m glad it doesn’t seem to bother her.  From my vantage point, he is always bobbing up and down and not paying attention.  I’ll keep letting him take lessons as long as he wants to swim.  It think it’s an important skill.

He’s getting much more comfortable in the water.  He also still loves his hooded towel when he gets out.


My workout today included lots of swim practice.  I spent an hour in the pool and even had my own lane for a part of my workout.  I am mostly interested in building up my endurance at this point.  I used to need a nap after a great strength training workout or spin class.  Now, I need a nap after a long pool workout.  I’d love to have the stamina for 2-3 hours of a vigorous workout and not need a nap.  That’s a great goal for this year.

My practice today included:

  • quite a few laps of the crawl
  • a few lengths of the backstroke
  • a couple of lengths of the breaststroke kick with a kick board
  • a couple of lengths of just kicking on my back to simulate the dive brick test
  • 4 or 5 dives in the deep end to practice my hang time at the bottom for brick / victim retrieval
  • a length or two of breaststroke
  • ended with getting out of the pool without the ladder – it still isn’t pretty, but it was doable after the hour in the pool

I was having some trouble with my goggles.  I think it’s time for a new pair.  Maybe I’ll get a chance to shop this weekend.

My arms are a bit sore tonight.  I’m not sure if it’s from the swimming today or the strength workout yesterday.  It’s probably a combo.

I’m hoping for a nice day at Lake Farmpark with lots of walking tomorrow.  The second lifeguarding class is Sunday and we’ll be in the pool for a couple of hours again.


Today, my partner in crime and I had our weekly trainer workout.  Last week, my partner had requested a gym or abs/core workout.

We knew we were headed for the gym when our trainer, Jen began to gather her toys.

We headed to the gym with medicine balls, body bars, and tennis balls.  Once we got to the gym, we realized that it was already in use.  We improvised by using the long hallway.  We had a few members pass us on their way to Yoga/Pilates.  For the most part, we had the hall to ourselves.  Toward the end of the workout, we were able to use the gym for a couple of exercises.

I did a short warm up on a bike for about 5 minutes.  I was mostly experimenting with my pedometer.

For our workout, we completed the following:

2 sets:

  • Tennis Ball Suicides x 5 balls – Tennis balls were placed down the hall about 5 feet apart.  We ran up to the first ball, picked it up and ran back to the start.  We ran to the second and back, etc.  I didn’t really run, but I moved quickly.
  • Medicine Ball Throw and Chase 10lb. x length of hallway/gym
  • Walking Lunges w/ body bar on back 18lb x length of hallway
  • ‘Warrior’ Walk (body bar overhead) 18lb. x length of hallway x 2 – This was heavy!
  • Curl and Press 18lb x 20
  • T-Pushups x 20 total – I couldn’t exactly do a T, but I was impressed with how well I did on these.  Basically, you are in the pushup form and you lift one hand/arm to the side at a time.

1 set:

  • Reaction Drill (side,side,front,back) 30 delightful seconds x 3 (:15 rest between) – This was kind of like Symon Says with us moving around based on Jen’s directional gestures
  • Medicine Ball Overhead Throw to Partner 12lb x 30
  • Medicine Ball Partner Toss side-side 10lb x 20
  • Bicycles 30 seconds x 3 (:15 rest between)
  • Medicine Ball Russian Twists 10lb x 30 seconds

I was super glad that I didn’t pick today to skip a shower.  I worked hard and it was nice to have some cardio and moving mixed in with the strength training.  I can’t wait to see what we tackle next week!


Today was my 3rd swim lesson with Tabitha.  She asked me what I wanted to focus on.  I told her the breaststroke.  I really need help with this stroke.

I don’t think the breaststroke is required for lifeguarding, but it seems to be a go to stroke for so many people.  I feel like I need to learn it.  When I watch people do the stroke, it looks so effortless and comfortable.

I feel like I look like a mess when I do the stroke.  I can do the kick.  I can do the arms.  I can’t seem to put them together at the right pace.  It doesn’t seem to help that I’m a floater.  When I do the kick, my feet end up out of the water.  ARGH!  I really need more practice.

At one point, Tabitha said that I wasn’t the worst she had ever seen.  Hmmm… I’m not sure if that was comforting.  I am determined.  We spent the entire 30 minute lesson on the breaststroke.  I finished the lesson knowing that I really need to practice it more.

I should have worked on the stride jump, but the J pool really isn’t a great pool for it due to the shallower depth in the deep end.  In addition, we really didn’t have open space for it due to the lap swimmers, class and casual pool users.

I warmed up with a few surface dives and ended with getting out of the water without the use of the ladder.

I’m not sure what I will work on next.  Part of me wants to spend time practicing the breaststroke and part of me wants to work on endurance.  I know I can swim 300 yards, but a 500 yard swim will be required to work at the J.  I’m pretty sure that I can do it, but I haven’t done it in years.  Maybe if the lanes are not too crowded Friday, I’ll swim 500 yards.


Somewhere along the way, I figured out that Nick and Sally needed to learn skills like sorting and tonging.  Many activities that involve life skills as well as dexterity are good for the kids.  Since Nick isn’t going to preschool until September, I’ve been trying to spend more time on various activities and projects to help him learn skills.

My husband, Stephen is very much into electronics.  He writes a blog at  Since circuits and radios have been a hobby of his for many years, we have quite the collection of pieces and parts in our basement.  Lately, he’s been working on sorting, purging, and inventorying them.

Stephen came up from the basement yesterday and asked me if Nick could sort this box of capacitors for him.  I knew this was a perfect exercise.  I was also glad that I could tell Nick that he had a job to do for daddy.  We used a muffin tin for sorting.  It worked like a charm.


I don’t know much about capacitors, but they sure come in many shapes and sizes.  Soon almost every spot in the tin had at least one type.


Meanwhile, we also had a bag of misc. capacitors that were destined for the trash.  I decided that these would make a good tweezing activity for Sally and Nick.  Sally didn’t quite grasp the concept of the tweezers at first, but she ended up understanding it by the end.  It will take her some practice to actually use them.


Nick was anxious to try the tweezers.  After a few minutes of sorting capacitors, he was having a blast picking up the little pieces parts with the tweezers.


I think I’m going to start a running list of activities that I can do with the kids to help them practice skills.  It’s hard to think of them on the spot when they are needed.  This tweezers activity is definitely a keeper.


I slept really well last night.  I guess 2 hours in the pool is good for me.  Despite my achiness and swollen knee from yesterday’s lifeguard training, I felt like a spin class would feel good.

I’m pretty aware of my bad knee during class.  So, I usually don’t stand quite as much as the class and I usually pass on the jumps.  Today, I knew that I was going to just spin.  The only standing that I did was when I needed a temporary change in position.

I’ve been wearing my Go Zone pedometer for about 5 weeks now.  The first couple of weeks, I didn’t get any active minutes.  I did activities like spinning, walking and the elliptical.  At some point, I read that we needed 135 steps a minute for active minutes.  Wow, that’s fast!  I have lots of endurance, but speed was never a strength.  So, the pedometer registers fast paced activities and not continuous movement.  I was a bit bummed.

I experimented on the elliptical.  Usually, I try to do intervals between 90 and 120 strides per minute.  I vary the resistance and get a good workout.  I pushed myself to do 135-140 strides per minute and was able to verify that my Go Zone pedometer in fact did measure active minutes.  Prior to that experiment, I thought it might be broken.

During one spin class, without paying much attention, I ended up with 16 active minutes.  I was glad, but it took a full hour.

Today, since I was concentrating just on spinning, I was able to get 31 active minutes on my pedometer.  It took the entire hour long class.  Since our spin bikes don’t have computers, I have no idea how many RPMs I was doing to have it register.  I was happy to get over 30, since 30 active minutes is worth more HealthMiles that 7,000 steps which is my norm.  I’m happy that it’s possible, but I am still frustrated that the pedometers and program don’t seem to be interval friendly.  Intervals are good for you!

I’m hoping to do a couple more experiments.  I’ve heard that you need to walk about 4 MPH for the pedometer to register active minutes.  I usually walk about 2.5 MPH.  I’m hoping to do some intervals where I get to 4 MPH for 2-3 minutes at a time.  I really want to know how fast I need to be walking for it to register.  This experiment will probably have to wait until my knee is back to normal.  Treadmill walking wouldn’t be good for it this week.

In our fitness center, we have a couple of fancy spin bikes.  I am going to do my next warm up workout on one of them.  I plan to ride a steady 80 RPM, 90 RPM etc. so I can figure out my spinning speed for active minutes.

I’m also wondering if it matter where on my hip that I wear the pedometer.  Being overweight, I’m not sure if the pedometer picks up steps correctly.  I’m not sure how to test that one.

As I expressed in my last post, I’m not really impressed with the program thus far.  I think it’s a lot of busy work for “up to $300”.  But, I also think that extra walking is good for me, so I’ll play along.


Today, I spent most of the day in class at the J.  We ended up with 6 students for the class.  We’ll meet a total of 4 Sundays.

For the first half of the class, we spent time in a conference room.  We covered things like:

  • introductions and schedule
  • what it means to be a professional lifeguard
  • making decisions using the FIND method (figure out the problem, identify solutions, pros and cons, decide on best and act)
  • legal things to consider
  • continuing ed
  • EAP (facility specific emergency action plans)
  • rescue equipment
  • surveillance and scanning
  • victim recognition
  • communication with patrons
  • preventing injuries
  • incident reports
  • water rescue skills

After a series of videos and discussion, we broke for a break and met back up in the pool.  Next on the agenda was our prerequisite tests and rescue skills.

As we gathered at the pool and space was available, we began to swim our 300 yards.  Our instructor Lyle asked for 1/2 crawl and 1/2 breaststroke.  This would be 6 lengths of each.  I almost panicked since the official prerequisites call for either stroke and I had only practiced the crawl.  Lyle said it was ok and I told him that I’d be working on my breaststroke.  Since I had practiced, the distance (without stopping) was no problem.  Most of the class didn’t have any trouble.  I think one person needs to work on it a bit, but he hadn’t swam since summer.

Next up was treading water.  We had to tread without using our arms for 2 minutes.  It looked easy for everyone.

Lastly, was the test where we needed to swim almost a length, dive for the brick, retrieve it and swam to back to the shallow end on our back.  It ends with getting out of the water without use of the ladder.  I really don’t know how everyone did.  Personally, I made it back to the wall in 1:35, but it took me several tries to exit the pool.  So, I need to work on getting out a little faster and a speedier swim.  All in all, it was great for me especially since we had just swam 300 yards and treaded water.

Overall, I am happy with how I did with the prerequisites.  I’m going to work on the breaststroke and building up my endurance.  To be employed at the JCC, Lyle requires a 500 yard swim.  I want to make sure it’s not a problem.

After everyone completed the prerequisites, we started working on rescue skills.  We covered things such as:

  • entries (slide-in, stride jump, compact jump)
  • assists
  • rescuing near the surface, submerged and multiple victim

The only thing that really gave me trouble was the stride jump.  With a stride jump, your head is not supposed to go under water.  The purpose is to allow you to keep a visual on the victim.  My first jump, I hit the bottom of the pool.  I really felt a lot of impact in my left (bad) knee.  Ouch!  I was more surprised at first.  I made several other attempts during the class.  None of them were great, but I did feel some improvement toward the end of class.  I definitely need to practice this one.

With 6 of us in the class, the skills part went quickly and even with a break, we were able to leave a little bit early today.  I’m glad we have a small class.

Once I arrived at home, I felt exhausted, sore and famished.  I didn’t really count how many times we got in and out of the water and swam around, but it was lots.  Next week, I need to plan my food and liquids better.  The class is physically and mentally challenging.  It’s also exactly what I need right now.

I’m nervous about my knee and hope that spinning tomorrow feels great.  I’m scheduled to practice swimming Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday this week.  Here’s to a great week!


Many times on Saturday, I am happy as a clam to stay home and clean while Stephen takes Nick and Sally out for a couple of hours.  But, we also know that we need time doing things as a family too.  We decided to head to the Cleveland Botanical Gardens for their annual orchid show.  I’ve never really paid attention to orchids before.  I remember getting a corsage at Easter from my grandpa.  I’m pretty sure they were usually orchids.  I also know that orchids are expensive.  I didn’t know that they came in so many shapes, sizes, and colors.


At first, I wasn’t very impressed.  There were a couple of displays in the hall and Clark room.  There was also a big display in the main lobby.  It was very busy.  It turns out that today was vendor day, so there was a room set up where you could buy orchids.  It was hopping.


We made our way to the children’s area.  Sally quickly got to work at the store.  We also checked out the kitchen garden.  I never knew that vanilla came from an orchid.  I have a greater appreciation for them now.  There was a display about making your own vanilla.  I think I’m going to try that this year.  I’ve heard that it takes from 2-6 months.  So, if I start it this spring, it should be great for holiday gifts.


Nick really liked the baking section.  He and Sally enjoyed the costumes.


After a break for a quick lunch, we headed to the Glasshouse.  I am so glad that we didn’t skip this part.  We didn’t see butterflies since we didn’t go up to the second level, but we did see a few gorgeous birds.


We also quickly realized that the Glasshouse is where most of the orchids were.


There were displays everywhere!




My favorite orchid find were the ones that looked like daffodils.



We had a great time and will probably try to go again with friends before the show ends on March 25th.


My partner in crime and I had our weekly trainer workout yesterday.  We tackled the Kettlebells again.

After a 5 minute warm up on the elliptical, we met up for the following:

2 Sets each of the following:

  • Partner Kettlebell Swings 15lb x :30 twice
  • Twisting Squats 15lb x 30
  • Tactile Lunges 15lb x 15ea leg
  • Windmills 5lb x 15ea
  • Kettlebell Push Press 12lb x :30ea arm
  • Single Arm Kettlebell Swing 12lb x :30ea arm
  • Partner Standing Bosu Med. Ball Oblique Toss 8lb x 1min.
  • 1/4 Turkish Getup x 10ea side
  • Supermans x 1min.
  • Supermans alternating arm/leg x :30ea side
  • Alternate arm/leg Crunch x :30ea side twice

This was my first time on the BOSU since last May when I had my partial meniscus tear.  I really took my time getting back on that piece of equipment.  I fell when I was trying to jump from one BOSU to another.  That’s really different from balancing on one to do another exercise.  Outside of my knee being a little sore from Wednesday’s diving practice, the BOSU felt just fine.  Hopefully, we’ll slowly use it more so I can build up some confidence.

The last few items didn’t use the Kettlebells, but helped round out the workout.  My partner wants to do more abs and core work and these exercises definitely fit that bill.  I don’t usually have specific requests, but after doing the superman moves, I can tell my abs and core need work.

I swam this morning and feel pretty good, but I am definitely achy from the strength workout.  My lifeguarding prerequisite test is Sunday and I am hoping that my strength training and swim practice pays off. Tomorrow should be an off day since I’ve worked hard this week, but I’m hoping to at least sneak in an active walk.