Happy Saturday! It is shaping up to be one of those perfect Saturdays – up early, relaxing but enjoyable activities in-between, and topped off with a night out. Here is what I have been up to and am going to be up to.

(list 43) Saturday Activities

1. I got up early and walked to meet for a walk with the Northland Women’s Walk and Run Club. I walked part of the way with them and then veered off home. My original plan was to walk to Zumba, but as I neared the turn, I chickened out. I hadn’t walked that way before and I was afraid I would get there way early. I still got a lot of walking in – 4.1 miles.
2. Once home I ate cereal with DH (who had woken up when I did at 5 am and had stayed up!) and we enjoyed the last coolness of the morning.
3. I did go to Zumba. It was a lot of fun. And for part of it I got that workout high – I get those so rarely, so I made the most of it and jumped and bumped with a lot of gusto. I am looking forward to Tuesday/Thursday Zumba classes starting next week.
4. After all of that I took a nap while DH was useful – he put up the tent to air out for our trip next week, watered our flowers, and mowed the lawn. All I achieved was a crazy hair-do from sleeping while my hair was wet from the shower. Woot.
5. Next we are going to go shopping for camping supplies and food and pick up our CSA share for the week.
6. Tonight we are going to go see Eddie Izzard. He is one of DH’s favorites, and I am looking forward wearing black, curling my hair, fancifying my face and sitting in a theater and being entertained.
Here are some pictures of Saturday flowers from our porch. They actually are there everyday, but I enjoy them on the weekends. On the weekdays I look at them wistfully as I get in my car to go to work.

And here are some pictures of Annie trying to decide what book to read or whether she should go outside and play. Ultimately, she decided to spend her Saturday taking a nap on the cool tile (she doesn’t allow photographs while she is napping).



I am not one of those people who would have been able to survive as a pioneer. It is not that I am not a stickler for luxury or convenience – in fact I am pretty sure that I would trade my desk job for growing our own food and a wash wringer if given the choice. No, my problem is I get lost walking in a circle. I have lived in Kansas City all of my life, with only some brief stints away from college. Despite that, I can’t find my way anywhere unaided. I need a map, verbal directions to clarify from my husband, and extra travel time. Then, without fail, I will need to call my husband and get him to talk me there when I ultimately get turned around. The one thing I should appreciate most about the modern age I live in are all the tools that help me not get lost. Here is a list of map and working out related thingies.

(list 42) Maps-and-fitness related things

  1. I super duper heart I keep track of the mileage I walk each week and enter it in a spreadsheet so I can see how I am progressing toward my goals. Yes, so very sad but so very true. Anyway, I much prefer to walk outside then on the treadmill at the gym, but I was limited to a few routes where I could calculate the mileage. That isn’t true any more! With I can map routes from anywhere to anywhere – I truly love it. And if I decide to wander on a walk or get myself turned around, I can go home and retrace the route to get an accurate mileage. Yea, darn cool. I recently read I’m a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson – a hilarious look at life in our country. Here is one of my favorite bits of the book – this is from an essay about how we drive too dern much:

    An acquiantance of ours was complaining the other day about the difficulty of finding a place to park outside the local gymnasium. She goes there several times a week to walk on a treadmill. The gymnasium is, at most, a six-minute walk from her front door. I asked her why she didn’t walk to the gym and do six minutes less on the treadmill.

    She looked at me as if I were tragically simple-minded and said, “But I have a program for the treadmill. It records my distance and speed and calorie-burn rate, and I can adjust it for degree of difficulty.” It had not occurred to me how thoughtlessly deficient nature is in this regard.

    I can sympathize with both sides of this argument, if there wasn’t a way to record the distance of my sojourns outside, I would be tempted to always drive the distance to the gym to walk on a treadmill. Luckily, I live in this age.

  2. DH thoughfully purchased for me the coolest gadget ever. It is a Garmin ForeRunner 301. It will track “distance and speed and calorie-burn rate”, as well as my heart rate and I can preprogram walks, runs, and bike rides. Also, I can download walks from so I don’t get lost. Yea, purty dern cool. I am very excited to get it. I will post how cool it is once I have used it a bit. (Commercial Plug – He got it from H.M.S. Beagle – the ultimate science store in Parkville, MO. A great store for all things sciency, including GPS devices, and coincidentally owned by my parents.)
  3. We are going to Colorado Springs next week for a camping trip with the twins. I am very, very excited. It definitely will be a trial-by-fire for the whole stepmom thing (9-hour car trip, fixing meals on a camp stove, sleeping in a tent). And we are going to do some cool things, like Pike’s Peak Cog Railroad and Cave of the Winds. I spent some quality time with and came up with two walks to complete to ensure I can get my mileage in during the mornings if our daytime activities don’t allow enough time for hiking. (A moot point if I get my Garmin dooda before we leave.) Here are the walks:

    From Campground to Park
    Find more Runs in Colorado Springs, ColoradoGarden of the Gods campground – 1 mile
    Find more Walks in Colorado Springs, Colorado

  4. I have a good friend who runs long distances. Like some runners, she got very addicted, often going off her predefined course to wander a bit and get some more running in. She once got hopelessly lost in Liberty (which I think can be easy in some of the neighborhoods – the curvy roads and similar-looking houses can be confusing.) She didn’t have a cell phone or any water. She ran and walked for over two hours (until after dark) until she found something she recognized and could get home. This story freaked me out – she laughed it off, but I would have been in a panic. I so rarely recognize where I am – I mean I could think “I have seen this before”, but not know where that place is in relation to how to get home. Ugh. So, if you read this, live in Liberty area, and see me out wandering around with a look of panicky fear in my face, pull over and ask me if I need help.


I was so looking forward to posting to this blog with the results of my 10-week health and self-improvement goals. But the results are in, and they aren’t that good. I will start with the good news – I lost 10 lbs. Most of that was in the first 5 weeks of the session, but 10 lbs is 10 lbs – and it was way short of my goal, but it is better than a lot of the alternatives. I am cutting the 10-week stint short to set some new goals, but in the spirit of full-blog disclosure, here is how well I hit the mark:

Complete twelve miles per week – 92.02/108 (85% – B)

Zumba class once per week – 6/9 (67% – D)

Two Equilibrium strength training classes per week – 16/18 (88% – B+)

Follow diet – 3/9 weeks (33% – F)

Read 9 books 9/9 – (100% A)

That is a pitiful grade card for a former straight-A student. So I decided to drop-out of the 10-week plan and start a new 5-week plan today. And here are the goals:

(list 41) Big Goals for the next 5 weeks

Big Goals:

  1. Lose 10 pounds
  2. Finish 5 books
  3. Be able to jog to the gym and back

(list 42) Little Goals for the next 5 weeks

Daily/weekly goals

  1. Two Zumba classes/week, for a total of 10.
  2. Drink two of my water bottle thingies per day, for a total of 70
  3. Two Equilibrium classes/week, for a total of 10.
  4. Complete 17 miles per week, for a total of 85.
  5. Complete three 10-minute ab workouts per week, for a total of 15.
  6. STICK TO MY DIET EVERY DAY, for a total of 35 days.
  7. No Diet Coke, for a total of 35 days.
  8. No TV, for a total of 35 days
  9. Read one book per week, for a total of 5.
  10. Finish five tasks at work per workday, for a total of 110.
  11. One date per week with DH, for a total of 5.

I know I will not be perfect, but I am going to strive for an A average. I just need to find my will, my motivation. And the biggest one right now is that I don’t want to be trying to lose weight the rest of my life, and with my patterns, there is a good chance of that. I want to be done and maintaining. And I can only get there one pound at a time.

I will keep you updated weekly on how I am doing. Wish me luck.


Week 1


This morning I was to walk 5+ miles with a training group. The group previously met at a time which conflicted with my Zumba class, so I have not been able to attend. (Very little keeps me away from Zumba.) I was very excited about the time change – because it meant that I could participate. Less excited when I didn’t fall asleep until midnightish last night, but still planning to hit the pavement.

This morning I woke without problem at 4:45am – to dreams of my trainer running by me while I ate ice cream on the sidewalk. She asked me, in her particular Mandy way, “Ginger! What are you doing?” I wipe strawberry ice cream from my lips with my bare hand, glumly watching it drip onto my shirt, and say “I will be there in just a minute. I found this ice cream and I didn’t want it to go to waste.” And then POP! I was awake. Only to find there to be crashing thunder and driving rain – a storm so bad it is shaking the windows of our old house.
Here are my thoughts about being up early, and what I have been doing with the time.
(list 38) Early Stuff
1. The other denizens of the house are not so thrilled with me being up early. DH squinted through the blazing lights, mildly questioned my sanity, and then sanely went upstairs for more sleep. Annie, my sweet pup, keeps following me around, pleading with her eyes for us to go back upstairs, then sighing and collapsing into sleep until I switch rooms again. Poor Annie.
2. I am making petit pain au chocolat. I seem to never have enough time to do the recipes in my vegan French cookbook that require bread to rise. And suddenly I had three hours before I needed to be anywhere. I am fairly sure the bread will not work out – despite feeling like I am constantly buying yeast, I never seem to have any that isn’t expired. Oh well. Grating the chocolate and kneading the dough were fun (in a zennish way) even if all I get is flat bread. Must ask DH what French is for “flat chocolate bread”.
3. When I was growing up, no matter how early I woke up, it seemed my mother had been up for hours. Showered, sipping coffee, reading the paper or working on the computer. I envied and admired that. I seemed to never be able to do it. And surely she didn’t give my dad and I sleeping potions on the weekend so that she could get a few hours to herself? Naaaaa! I strive to be an early riser, but don’t quite get there. I am somewhere in between an early riser and a sleeper-inner – robbing myself of the benefits of both. I would love to be an early riser. Maybe this is the start.
4. Next I plan to sit on the porch with Annie and watch the rain rain. That is my favorite thing to do in the rain. One of my favorite things to do period.
The only worrying thing is now I need to find time to walk 5 miles today – and with the rain that means the treadmill at the gym. blech.


Last week I totally got derailed from my exercise routine. I had been rockin’ it hard core for several weeks (8 to be exact!) – Completing 12 or more miles every week, to be exact – usually a combination of walking, elliptical, or jogging/walking intervals. And then for some reason, last week I just stopped – completing only 4.4 miles. I was bummed about it because it puts me way off course for meeting my 10-week mileage goal.

And then Monday – zilch, Tuesday – zilch, Wednesday – zilch. Boo hoo. And then today, I broke free. I planned some vacation time this morning for sleep recovery after the Wilco concert (planning ahead for being an old person), but instead of sleeping in too late, I dragged myself to the gym and did 20 minutes on the treadmill and 20 minutes on the elliptical. WOO! And then I went to work and we had a work outing at the ball game. UGH. After getting home from that, despite the sort of exhaustion that one only encounters after forced bonding time with coworkers, WOO! I walked to the gym for my strength training class, did more minutes on the treadmill and elliptical and then walked home! WOO! WOO! I am so proud of myself for dragging myself back on track… none of it came easy today – but I have completed 6.56 miles today – well on track to complete my goal of 15 for this week.
Here is the mileage breakdown:
(list 34) Mileage Breakdown for Thursday, May 15
1. 2.72 miles walking/jogging to and fro the gym and home.
2. 2 miles on the evil, soul-sucking, monstrous, should-be-outlawed elliptical machine.
3. 1.84 miles walking/jogging on the treadmill


I made little gifts for two friends who are having babies, gender unknown… here are some pictures:

(list 23) Pictures and stories of booties

1. I made a little boatneck sweater and booties for my friend Maki who is having a wee baby Moosh soon. If she ends up having a girl, I will switch the brown ribbons for pink ribbons:

2. I made little orange booties for my friend Amy P.’s pending bundle of joy – in orange, one of her favorite colors.

3. And then here is a funny story about booties. Or bootys? I have never had a bottom. Not ever, until recently, when working out has given me the slightest hint of one. It is very exciting. And I was thrilled when DH noticed when I was leaving for work one morning. When I was heating up my lunch in the break room that day, I was thinking about that and reached behind to asses the, uh, damage. Well, that was dumb. A person walked by the window to the break room, saw me, registered horror, and hurried past. And then a hole opened up and I was swallowed by the earth. Ok, the last part didn’t happen, but I really wanted it to.


DH and I went with some friends to see Run, Fatboy, Run last night. Except for a very disturbing scene involving a blister, it is a really funny movie. And inspirational in its own quirky way. As I tried to elucidate in an earlier post, the older I get, the more I realize that the only way to achieve anything is through perseverance. I have already done everything in this life that comes easy to me – so now I am tackling the stuff that doesn’t. And this movie had some great dialogue and images that help me to continue on that path, especially the one that is making me get fit.

In the spirit of the movie, I dredged out some motivating quotes on effort. I hope they can help you do something that is hard to do:

(list 16) Hard Work Quotes
  1. He who is outside his door has the hardest part of his journey behind him. ~Dutch Proverb
  2. Many people think they want things, but they don’t really have the strength, the discipline. They are weak. I believe that you get what you want if you want it badly enough. ~Sophia Loren
  3. There are no easy methods of learning difficult things; the method is to close your door, give out that you are not at home, and work. ~Joseph de Maistre
  4. Gift, like genius, I often think only means an infinite capacity for taking pains. ~Jane Ellice Hopkins
  5. Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. ~Thomas Edison
  6. Sweat is the cologne of accomplishment. ~Heywood Hale Broun
  7. Much good work is lost for the lack of a little more. ~Edward H. Harriman

As a bonus, here is one that I think a couple of coworkers I have had over the years live by:

If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you’re a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind. ~Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

I am finding the concept of working out after work especially hard today. I am tired, work has been wretched this week, and it is raining. I really want the couch, my soft quilt, wavy lays, diet coke, and to watch a good movie. But I am not going to do that.

Two questions for you, dear readers, or the void (if the void now has the ability to e-mail or post comments on a blog):
  1. Does anybody know the quote from the founder of Yahoo about hard work… something like “Hard work has a new definition in the information age – it is doing the things that nobody else wants to do.” I love the quote, read it somewhere, and now I can’t remember where and can’t find it inside the tubes.
  2. What movies inspire you to do the hard things in life? I know about Rocky, but what are some of the others? I will ask NetFlix for them toot sweet.


Today I went to my second Zumba class – an interval Latin dance aerobics thingy. I am probably not the worst person ever at Zumba, but I am probably in the top two. Despite that, I love the class… and I can’t wait until next Saturday when I get to sweat copiously and humiliate myself again. Why? Let me tell you.

In their charming book The Daring Book for Girls, Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz provide a compendium of girlhood that includes everything from how to do a cartwheel to profiles of famous women spies. I really love this book – and there is a particular quote from it that has been stuck in my mind for awhile:

Forget perfect on the first try. In the face of frustration, your best tool is a few deep breaths, and remembering that you can do anything once you’ve practiced two hundred times. Seriously.

When I thought about it, there are many things that I could not do the first time, or the first 50 times, and I had to work at it. Those skills, that knowledge, I treasure much more than the things that came easily to me.
(list 5) Things That I Had To Practice To Get Good At
  1. Organic chemistry formulas.
  2. Flipping pancakes.
  3. The knit stitch.
  4. The perl stitch.
  5. Understanding Philosophy of Science class reading material.
  6. Editing anything.
  7. Getting my corners to match up in a quilt block.
An article last year in New York Magazine explained that new research is demonstrating that it is important for kids to try, try again. In short, only doing things that come easily may make a kid less likely to cope and adapt when they cannot do something well.
I always have had every confidence that I could learn anything I wanted to – from physics to philosophy, if I applied myself. But doing anything athletic was another story. I have always considered myself clumsy, awkward, and winded too easily.
This image of myself has changed drastically in the last few months. I still am clumsy and awkward, but I don’t wind too easily now. And if there is anything I want to do, I can do it. And I will get there. My trainer, Mandy, has a great phrase that captures this idea – Let’s do something to our bodies that makes them change and adapt.
To do anything, I just need to practice 200 times. Or, in the case of Zumba, only 198 more times.