Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fitness Challenge: SKate Update

Even considering that time is of the essence here, I've gotten off to a slow start on Inky's challenge. Last weekend I even ate a chocolate mousse for dessert on Saturday (not bikini friendly, but delicious). I have been exercising, though, so I'm at least partway there.

I don't really have a weight or measurement goal for myself. I'm fine with my current measurements, I'd just like to tone things up a little (my stomach and thighs in particular). So here's my routine over the last few days:

Friday 17April: Trampoline (one of the little ones you can use in the house) for 30 minutes. Wore weight vest (broke down and bought one when I found it on sale) for about twenty minutes while I cleaned up kitchen and picked up Bean's toys. 35 sit-ups and equal back exercises at bed time.

Saturday 18 April: Walked pushing stroller all day in St. Augustine. 30 sit-ups and 20 lateral sit-ups at bed time. Corresponding back exercises. 5 push-ups (miserable total, I know, but at least they were the full-deal military ones) and then as many girly push-ups as I could knock out.

Sunday 19 April: Walked around Jacksonville Zoo all day, once again pushing stroller. Gave abs rest day.

Monday 20 April: 30 minutes on mini stepper with wrist weights (4 lbs each). 50 sit-ups and corresponding back exercises. 6 push-ups and as many girly ones as I could knock out.

Tuesday 21 April: 35 sit-ups and 2o lateral ones. Corresponding back exercises.

Wednesday 22 April: Walked two miles with stroller. Will do at least 40 sit-ups before bed. Will also try to match my 6 push-ups from Monday.

I have to confess, most of this stuff isn't new for me. I've just started doing it every night instead of whenever I remember it. Hopefully I can keep it up until June so that I can rock my new bathing suit when Inky and I hit the beach.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

April Challenge: Well, It's Almost Over

Bonjour c'est moi INKY with the April Challenge. This is a pretty cool challenge because we are halfway through the month! But the challenge for this month involves something no one wants to do anyway so it's okay if we only do it for two weeks.

SKate and I are ready to go to the BEACH. Unfortunately, the weather here has not yet become beach ready. Why?!?!? The first day of Spring has come and gone, and I still need a heavy blanket at night! I blame groundhogs.

Luckily, this gives us a little time to get in shape for the beach. So our April Challenge becomes:

April Challenge: Get In Shape!

Two weeks is not a long time to get in shape per se, but I think I lost nine pounds in two weeks on a jump rope. Now if I can only get myself motivated to jump rope again...Anyway. With any luck, this will give us some great new habits, and we will continue them into May.

I'll have to weigh myself and take measurements so I know how much I improve. Finding someone who has a scale is the hard part.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

When You Are Engulfed In Procrastination

Hey y'all. Sorry that it has been so long. It got a little hectic toward the beginning of the month.

SKate's selection for me for the Book Club was David Sedaris' When You Are Engulfed In Flames. I was not familiar with any of his earlier work. All that I knew about him was that he was an author and his sister was Amy. I am so glad that SKate loaned me this book, because I probably never would have taken it upon myself to read it. I am a large reader of heavy textbook-esque tomes.

When You Are Engulfed In Flames is a collection of essays about Sedaris' personal and family life. Some of the essays are more exaggerated or fictionalized than others; all are witty and hilarious. The last essay in the book is dedicated to Sedaris' mission to quit smoking - the method involves moving to Japan, and it was a great joy to read. I read some of it over the phone to a friend who had lived in Japan and it made her want to pick it up.

Since I was familiar with Amy Sedaris, she of I Like You fame, it was especially fun to read the vignettes involving her: I knew what she looked like and how she spoke, so it was easy to picture the interchange.

Unfortunately for me, I am at the library computer and I am on a timer, and this is all the room that I have - I have to run home and get ready for work. But I will hopefully be back soon with the month's late Challenge.

Thank you for the book, SKate! I loved it and it made me run out and read all the library had to offer me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Oh, my dog, it's been two weeks...

Sorry for the lack of updates, gang - I'm currently trying to simultaneously wean the Bean and get her sleep a little better at night. She's finally starting to do both, but I've been like the walking dead for the last month at least. Every time I've thought about doing anything more creative than cooking dinner, my brain has just gone "ugh!" and suggested eating ice cream instead.

But now Bean is sleeping through night (mostly) and I'm feeling human again, so now for my long-promised review of Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.

First, a three line plot synopsis: Bechdel grew up with a somewhat distant, highly inscrutable perfectionist father who revealed his homosexuality to her shortly after she came out of the closet herself. He then died two weeks later. Fun Home is Bechdel's attempt to piece together her father's life against the backdrop of her own childhood and adolescence.

My take on the novel: First of all, I must say that this is the most literate graphic novel I think I've ever read. A lot of the story telling is woven around quotations from Homer, Joyce, Colette, Fitzgerald, Wilde, and Proust. This serves to both enrich the narrative and make the reader wish she was better read. This particular plot device is central to the novel, since Bechdel's father was an English teacher/undertaker and much of their communication to each other comes in the form of books: classics that he gives to his daughter, and in her case of a copy of Kate Millet's Flying unconsciously left for him.

Bechdel weaves these literary themes around the story of her family in the 1960's and 70's, using them to try and explain her father's obsession with their elaborate Victorian house, her mother's withdrawn preoccupation with music and community theater, and the quiet weirdness of the family business (the local funeral parlor, which becomes the "Fun Home" in the Bechdel lexicon). Bechdel also uses them to elaborate on her own childhood struggles with traditional femininity, which later segue into questions about her sexual identity.

This book is a graphic novel, but more than a graphic novel. There are the usual cartoon panels, but the book is also full of original sources from Bechdel's family lore: Photoshopped passport pictures, letters in her father's original hand, and family vacation photos, all slipped into the narrative when necessary. It serves as an almost disturbing grounding for the story, constantly reminding you that these people are not a figment of Bechdel's imagination - they are as real as your own mom, dad, and siblings.

This revelation is sometime unwelcome during her recounting of her early years with her father. The man comes off as distant and forbidding - the panels almost emit the coldness and tension of life with an unfulfilled, unhappy patriarch. Bechdel manages to slowly bring the reader to an understanding with that man, probably mirroring her own journey of discovery with him, but it takes a while to shed that first grim impression. I was still wallowing in an intense dislike of him until the final section of the book.

This really is a hell of a novel. The flyleaf of Inky's copy of Fun Home lists all of the awards and recognitions it received in 2006, and it richly deserved each one. It wasn't an easy read at times, but it rewards the reader who stays with Bechdel and her struggling parents and siblings. I'm glad I went along for the ride. And I'm glad Inky gave me the wheels :)

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All right, folks, it's April, and Inky's up for the next challenge. She'll have it up ASAP. I'm hoping it involves the beach. I'm ready for summer.