Sunday, January 31, 2010

Family yoga

I have recently started using the Wii for yoga again. I had good intentions of doing yoga on a regular basis last November and December but it just didn't turn out. The Wii Fit program was somewhat, OK very, annoying because you had to click the A button on the remote after each exercise, go back to the menu and choose another. I spent just as much time clicking as I did exercising. I even told the boys someone should develop a wrist Wii remote with just a pointer and the A button so I didn't have to keep putting the remote down and picking it up while keeping it out of the way of the exercises too.

I had a new Wii yoga program on my Christmas List but it didn't release for sale when it was expected and when I read the reviews recently they were not very good. Kevin told me the new Wii Fit Plus program that he got had routines that you can set up instead of doing individual exercises. I decided to give it a try a couple weeks ago. This is so much better then the previous version. All of the exercises are open and available to use. The original version you had to wait until you had enough points to open the next exercise so I only had 6 or so yoga moves open. I tried a few of these new ones then put a bunch together in a routine. I add a couple new exercises each time and my routine is up to 27 minutes and it is continuous; no pauses or pushing the A button. Thanks Kevin, for letting me use your game.

One of the great things about using Wii Fit again is that the kids are hooked on it again as well. It's nice to see them exercise and be excited about it. Zack likes the running, and Chad may even have him talked into a kid's run later this year. He follows cats or dogs during the run and there are quizzes at the end of the runs that ask questions about what you saw while running, like number of gophers or who you saw pass you on the run. He is also earning points for a school project in which he gets a point each day for 15 minutes or more of exercise. Kevin's current favorite on the Wii Fit Plus is the Kung Fu Rhythm.

The family is also starting to enjoy the yoga along with me. The kids cheer me on during my weekly routines. They encourage me to hold my balance steady or let me know that I am holding the correct position. On Saturday morning they did some moves along with, as Chad and I were doing the full routine. Everyone was behind me so I didn't get a good look, but I heard some groaning about difficulty in addition to laughing and having fun. After we were done they were all set to have their own yoga mats, probably because I mentioned one and they jumped on board. We took a look in the big city when we were shopping and found something to satisfy each. Zack got a blue mat with a cool design, and Kevin got a Wii yoga set up that came with a mat, neoprene cover for the Wii board, rechargeable battery and a carrying case. The boys have both tried the cover and say it works nice and is comfortable. I hope it's not too soft that the balance exercises are harder yet, I'll try it soon.

Although Chad refused to check out with me at the register with the item I picked up, I found a Shake Weight, the arm exerciser that's been on TV recently. OK, he did stand with me in the register line and even paid for it. My impression of the item on TV was that it moved on it's own and you resisted it moving. I question if it even works but it was just so intriguing that I had to try it for less then $20. If I can build up my arms for just 6 minutes a's worth it. Well on opening, I discovered it doesn't move on its own, it just shakes back and forth. Chad just laughs at me when I try to use it, and the kids seem to be amused as well but they all had to have their turn trying it. My first thought was to return it, but I figure I might as well give it a try for a few weeks. It comes with a DVD that I have yet to watch. I'll give it a fair try and review it here when I'm done.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wooly review

The boys I'm sure were ecstatic to hear that we were going clothes shopping for me on Saturday. OK, maybe not. But I pretty much knew what I was looking for, so it didn't take too long. Along the way, I also spotted a great sale rack deal on a hoody made of wool, henceforth I will call my Wooly. It is an Ibex Carrie Full Zip Hoody.

In the past I have stayed away from wool because my skin has lots of sensitivities and wool has caused rashes and made my skin itchy. This winter I have tried more wool products hoping for improvement. There are a few new pairs of socks containing wool with good results. My favorite has been Icebreaker socks. I also have purchased a pair of Icebreaker long underwear bottoms that work real well for snowboarding. These all use merino wool, which I guess has special properties like being insulating even when wet, breathable, washable, sustainable and I'm sure a lot of other cool things. Merino has a finer fiber than regular wool, so it is not scratchy. I like that I can wear wool because the Icebreaker long underwear has enough length to actually cover my legs. And the socks are pretty cool looking and tall enough to provide warmth to my entire lower leg.

So this Wooly didn't even feel like wool when I found it on the rack. It looked great on, and felt warm and comforting when I tried it on. My fleece jackets have not been able to keep up with keeping me warm around the house. It was great once I was wearing it around the house. I didn't have to cover up with a blanket, and I even wore it outside instead of a jacket to run errands. The temperature outside was in the mid-thirties, but I don't think the Wooly will be enough in below freezing temperatures. There was no itchiness around the wrists or neckline. Care instructions state I can machine wash but air dry. So my Wooly is now my favorite, kind of like each new purchase I make, but I think this one will stay favorite for a long time.

Sunday evening Chad and I cooked together in the kitchen and made a hearty meal. Seems like last time I posted a meal it was steak as well, but I love our steaks. We purchased a quarter of beef from one of Chad's coworkers, and this was the second time we have done so. The beef has so much more flavor and is super tender. We have really been enjoying it. I can't wait until the weather warms up so I will be in the mood for burgers and potato salad. This meal was steak, with some seasoned mashed potatoes, and bread with butter I made with a recipe from Bluephies. We enjoy this butter when we go dine there and last time we went I bought their cookbook that included the recipe. Alongside my dinner was a wonderful local brew, a Fallen Apple from Furthermore. Desert which is unpictured was our version of Bananas Foster where Chad caramelizes sugar on top of split bananas with a torch. Place them alongside ice cream and voila!

January thaw...yuck!

So if you live in Wisconsin you know it was in the mid 30's last week through Sunday. The result was bad snow for boarding, not that it stopped us. Also running is hard now thanks to very slick ice patches from melt water freezing up on sidewalks.

Jen and I went running Saturday for a couple of miles. The weather was warm but windy and foggy, had it been clear snow biking might have been more fun. As it worked out we avoided most of the wind by running in the older part of town. I ended my weekend running Monday with a 4 miler as I head into the first week of marathon training.

I have yet to commit to actually running the Madison Marathon but plan to see how training goes then decide. I know at some point I want to run a marathon, I'm just not sure this is the year. Also based on past training I wonder if I can go injury free long enough. I scheduled runs based on Hal Higdon's beginner plan with my long run on Monday so as to not effect family weekend plans. I suspect I'll be writing about running more as the training progresses.

Sunday was snowboarding day and we woke up to....rain. Kevin had been invited to go with a friend and stuck to the plan despite the weather. Jen and I on the other hand waited at home until about noon when the rain stopped. We loaded up and hit the hill after dropping Zack with my parents. The snow was loose but heavy and I would soon find out unforgiving. It normally takes a run or two to get me feeling confident I'm not going to hurt myself so of course on run three I went down. It was to be the first of three crashes none real bad or at high speed but I'm still stiff from the last one. In order they were a bad bump that slid me on my butt, a botched attempt at a banked turn on a terrain run, and coming to a stop at end of the run. The first two I get I know what happened and they didn't hurt anything more than my ego but that last one hurt. I was turning right on my toe edge to watch Jen finish her run and next thing I know I'm flat on my back. Pretty sure I got airborne but didn't hit my head so now my back is stiff but only hurts like too much weight lifting so it will pass. After a few more runs Jen and I went home, Kevin stayed and eventually showed up after dinner. He informed us he had now done all the runs at Tyrol including the double black diamond. The snowboards needed cleaning since the lift areas were thin on snow heck some of the hill looked thin as well. The boards had dirt in the wax so I spent an hour plus scraping and reapplying wax to get them ready for next time.

That's all for now, I need to get off the couch and do something before work.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Snow Biking Returns

I finally got the mountain bike out for a snow ride and was reminded that it is a lot of work. Also shooting photos in the snow is not my strong point, I could only take standing still so long as my toes were frozen and the daylight was fading fast. I needed an extra day off from running after not enjoying my Friday run. I need a few feel good runs if I expect to start marathon training at the end of the month.

Saturday saw Kevin and I down at Tyrol for a couple hours of boarding, he is impressive tackling the black diamond runs almost as fast as I do. We didn't make it to the "C" chairlift he had promised to take me up, he tried it on a school trip and I have yet to go but the season is just getting good. The snow conditions were the best we've had so far so I hope it holds until next weekend when Jenny can come along.

Now on with the few pics from my ride.

This shot is over exposed so lost all snow detail subsequent shots on manual settings all too dark so I dumped them. At least the bike color is good.
Second and last stop for photos, again lost detail in the snow under the bike. Maybe I just don't have enough camera for what I expect. These were all shot with my Canon PowerShot sx100, I'd like a smaller pocket camera like Kevin's Nikon Coolpix S220 as the Canon is a bit of a brick. I'd like something like the Olympus EP2 but it is too big in size and price to throw in a pocket and risk landing on if I crash.

So I used Picasa and turned them black and white, not exactly what I planned more of a lemons to lemonade kind of thing.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Weekly Winner and Dead Snowmen

Welcome to any new blog readers who found us through Sierra Blogging Post's Weekly Adventure Photo Contest page. Chad won the weekly contest with one of his biking photos from last winter. The shot was taken while out on the local bike trail on his Specialized TriCross single speed. He took the picture with his cell phone camera so who knows what he could accomplish with a real camera out on the trail. He won $50 towards purchases on Sierra Trading Post. Great job Chad! Check out his winning picture if you haven't seen it yet.

Today was an errand day. Lots of stuff to run around and do in the big city. Before heading out, Chad and I rode bikes in the basement this morning. It was nice to be on the bike again, and having someone to talk to while riding makes the time go quickly. A quick shower and change and we were headed out the door with kids in tow.

We stopped to pick up Chad's birthday present at REI. A running top that is heavier duty for the cold temps around here. Chad said on the way home from work last night the temperature was -14 degrees. That's cold, and even though daytime temperatures are warmer it still takes some special clothing or lots of layers to run outside. I have a similar top that I am really happy with, and hope that this new one works well for Chad.

After lunch we headed to Whole Foods to drool over everything in the store and pick up a "few" items that always turns into more than planned. It was good that we had full bellies from lunch, as when we shop hungry the cart is full and then we get a carton full of fresh prepared food from the deli self serve. Mostly fresh meats, yogurt, pasta, and cheese today. I grabbed some awesome tangerine gum drops, although next time I'm looking for orange slices that Chad told me he sampled after he saw the gumdrops at home. I also picked up some canned chickpeas to try making some homemade kalamata olive hummus from a recipe I saw on Kath Eats Real Food blog. The last stop through the store is always past the bakery case and some special snowman cupcakes caught my eye today. The kids loved them too. Chad doesn't like a ton of frosting so none for him, because as you can see from the picture, it was loaded on top.

We ate a late dinner after some ice skating tonight, and the snowmen were so hard to resist that they were consumed immediately after dinner even though "fullness" was stated by all. Of course there were arguments about who got which one, because the candy on top was different on each. Then Zack decided he did not want his snowman. I took two on top of my cupcake and there was no good way to eat the thing with frosting that tall, so I knocked the snowmen over flat. Zack and Kevin commented that I "killed" them and of course Zack had further comments. He said the one snowman was more dead than the other because his eye was gone. Way too much frosting with the snowman so Mr. More Dead came off onto the plate.

The kids have recovered from the cupcake argument and are playing Wii. We're thinking snowboarding is in store for tomorrow, hopefully Zack will go as well.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Too Cold

So after a 4 mile run Monday that had my eyes freezing shut after 2 miles ( 4 degrees, -15 degree windchill) I decided to break out the snowshoes today instead. This bitter cold can go anytime I've had enough, but the forecast looks bad again for the coming weekend. At least maybe with the coming snow I can start building the pile needed for a backyard snow cave. I hope to make it twice the size of the one last year which would hold both boys and myself. Sleeping overnight in the snow cave was offered last year with no takers just ended up using it for fun.

Here are a few shots I was able to take before the camera froze up on my snowshoe trip.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Grillin' and Chillin'

The original plan for today was to go to the candlelight snowshoe and hike at a local state park. Well, the temperature turned down, way down! It was -7 degrees when I got up this morning, and although it did get to single positive digits, it was still downright cold.

I had a funeral to attend today about 3 hours north of here for a firefighter killed in an explosion. I wasn't sure if I would make it back for the beginning of the snowshoe, but was confident that we could still make if before it ended at 9 pm. Even though I was home from the funeral during daylight hours, it was 4 degrees out, way too cold to risk taking the kids outside for an extended period of time. The kids agreed they were not interested and will try for the next candlelight event in February.

I have been wanting to grill out some of our wonderful steaks from the quarter of beef we bought this fall, and Chad is always willing to brave the cold to do some extreme grilling. So grilling he did, in 0 degree weather. Here are some pictures of him grilling and the final product. Oh, and by the way, even though he is tall, he is not a giant. The grill is buried in about a foot of snow on the deck.

The finished product, steak and potatoes with mushrooms and homemade horseradish sauce. And my meal was complete with a New Belgium Fat Tire. Yum!

Now for a warm night at home, safe inside, and maybe Chad will start the fireplace as well.