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Friday, March 22, 2019

Friday Fiver: Favorite baseball movies

Even though basketball and hockey are still rolling on for me, I'm starting to get the itch for baseball as well. It's a good thing Opening Day is just around the corner (next Thursday). In the meantime, I might need to watch one of these movies to ramp up my excitement a little more.

What's your favorite baseball movie?

Monday, March 18, 2019

Music Monday: Jonas Brothers - "Sucker"

Most people who know me associate me with all things boybands. I was a huge NKOTB and N Sync fan. I also loved 98 Degrees, 5ive, etc. I think I had moved out of that phase when the Jonas Brothers were big, but I definitely downloaded "Burnin' Up."

I've enjoyed Nick and Joe's separate pursuits. I'm surprised and yet not that they're all making music together again. And their comeback single is pretty solid. I still have time to become a fan.

Were you a big Jonas Brothers fan? What are your thoughts on them coming back?

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Sunday Sweats: Third time through Xtreme is a charm

On March 1, I completed my third year of Xtreme Revolution, an eight-week fitness program offered at my workplace. I look forward to it every year, eager to see what our wellness specialists create to challenge us. This year was definitely not a disappointment.

I was a co-captain this year for a team called iLoveMe. The other captain and I took turns sending out motivational and informational emails. But, really, that was my only duty as a co-captain. I tried my best to be encouraging and share my own reasons for participating in Xtreme. It wasn't too much extra work, but there wasn't a lot of feedback from our team, which was discouraging at times. Maybe this is how our wellness specialists feel sometimes. Hmm.

Anyway, I was really pleased with how I did this year. I had perfect attendance again, and my numbers improved in all areas. 

Measurements as of 1/7:
Weight: 164.8
Chest: 40.75
Bicep: 12.25
Waist: 36
Hips: 43
Thigh:  23

Assessment numbers (done in one minute):
Push-ups: 35 (including 10 on my toes)
Wall balls: 25
Jump rope: 106
Burpees: 13

Fast forward eight weeks 

Measurements as of 3/1:
Weight: 156.8
Chest: 39
Bicep: 12
Waist: 34
Hips: 40.5
Thigh: 22

So, I lost 8 pounds and 7.5 inches. I'll take it!

Assessment numbers (done in one minute)
Push-ups: 40 (including 20 on my toes)
Sit-ups: 29
Wall balls: 30
Jump rope: 126
Burpees: 14

I'm particularly proud of the assessment numbers. I was still fighting off a cold, so I expected my performance to be less than stellar. As it turns out, I improved in all categories. I can only imagine how much better I would have done if I was healthy. But ultimately, it shows I got stronger! That's my goal.

I've said it many times, but I am so grateful to have this kind of resource at my office. And it's free!!!


Last week's workouts:
Sunday - Off
Monday - Cardio with Colby
Tuesday - Total Body Circuit + Core
Wednesday - Xtreme Cardio
Thursday - Off
Friday - Flex Friday
Saturday - Off

Friday, March 15, 2019

Friday Fiver: Favorite funnies

I follow a few different humor/comic accounts on Facebook and Instagram. They provide a little happiness in the midst of my social feeds. Here are five of my favorites.

His comics depict human behavior as explained by aliens. It makes you realize how ridiculous we are sometimes.


These comics reflect quirky and sometimes awkward moments with which I often identify. I particularly enjoy her cat-related comics. Then again, that could be said for all of these pages.


Sometimes the humor is inappropriate, but I need a little of that in my life.


This is a comic about an adorable relationship. It mostly has "aww" moments, but there are a few giggles here and there as well.


If I could set this comic up for auto-share, I would. I love every single post they make. Most of the time, I am Heart, but there have been a few moments of Brain. I just love them. I have had their calendar for two years in a row. I have one of their mugs on my wishlist but haven't splurged on it yet.

What are some of your funny follows? I can always use more!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

This & That 3/14

After months of deliberating and complaining about it, I finally chopped off my hair. It was much-needed.



Last weekend, Sean and I had a date day in the East Village. A little beer, gaming, and pizza at Up Down followed by a stroll through Raygun and finally a Matt Nathanson show at Wooly's. I love my city!!


I do not love some of the people who were at the Matt Nathanson show. Too many of them felt the need to talk during the entire concert. WHYYYYY would you pay almost $50 per ticket to talk instead of listening to the musician? Ugh. It's so disrespectful to the performer and other audience members.


My mother-in-law sent me this purse to use on my upcoming honeymoon/spring training trip. It's perfect, and I love it.

How's your week going?

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Show Us Your Books: February 2019

Life According to Steph

February was a decent month of reading for me. The first two books were pretty heavy, but the third was slightly lighter. They all had a theme of family though, which was not at all intentional.

This book is one that will stay with me for a long time. I was warned of this by Jana, who featured it on her blog last month. The story follows the journey of a father who's son has been accused of shooting a prominent political figure. It's intriguing to see a crime from this angle -- not the shooter or a victim or a family of one of the victims. I think the family of the perpetrator is often forgotten or at least pushed to the back of our minds when things like this happen.  In a way, they are victims too. Throughout the father's journey to find answers, we learn that he has not been a perfect parent and he wonders how he missed the signs in his son. We also learn about other (real) shooters and their backgrounds. I powered through this book pretty quickly, anxious to find out how the story ends and whether or not the father finds any answers or closure.

After her husband has passed, Pival books a trip to America and a cross-country trek to find answers about her son, Rahi. He had come out to his very traditional parents a year earlier and then they learned he had died. Pival wanted to know how and why her son died ... and also how he lived in America. I'll admit it took me a little while to get into this one. I had a hard time caring about the characters at first. I think that's because there were so many of them to learn about, so the author could only touch on them a little to start. But as the story continues, I began to have more affection or at least understanding for the characters and I cared about how their journeys turned out. It was also interesting to see America from the viewpoint of the travelers.

I finished the month with a slightly lighter read. There was still a family theme here -- a daughter and father who run a failing orchard, a brother who thinks they should sell the orchard, and a father and son who spend a summer at the orchard, hiding from their own life's disappointments. I was almost immediately invested in these characters, and the author had a beautiful way of describing the landscape and conveying the importance of the orchard to this family. I also loved the slow burn of romance between two characters. It wasn't the focal point of the story, but it was a pleasant and relevant part of it.

Currently reading:

What's one of your favorite recent reads?

Monday, March 11, 2019

Music Monday: Brandi Carlile - "The Joke"

Brandi Carlile is an incredible talent. She has such a way with words and melody. I'm glad to see she's finally getting some of the attention and praise she deserves from the industry (some big Grammy wins a few weeks ago).

I'm also really glad she chose to perform this song that night. It has a very powerful message and it's one I remember in our current political climate and society. Someday, we'll look back and see who was on the right side of history.

You're feeling nervous, aren't you, boy?
With your quiet voice and impeccable style
Don't ever let them steal your joy
And your gentle ways, to keep 'em from running wild
They can kick dirt in your face
Dress you down, and tell you that your place
Is in the middle, when they hate the way you shine
I see you tugging on your shirt
Trying to hide inside of it and hide how much it hurts

Let 'em laugh while they can
Let 'em spin, let 'em scatter in the wind
I have been to the movies, I've seen how it ends
And the joke's on them

You get discouraged, don't you, girl?
It's your brother's world for a while longer
We gotta dance with the devil on a river
To beat the stream
Call it living the dream, call it kicking the ladder
They come to kick dirt in your face
To call you weak and then displace you
After carrying your baby on your back across the desert
I saw your eyes behind your hair
And you're looking tired, but you don't look scared

Let 'em laugh while they can
Let 'em spin, let 'em scatter in the wind
I have been to the movies, I've seen how it ends
And the joke's on them

Let 'em laugh while they can
Let 'em spin, let 'em scatter in the wind
I have been to the movies, I've seen how it ends
And the joke's on them

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Sunday Sweats: February recap

Number of days I worked out:  20
I'm calling this a huge win, considering a flu/cold hit me hard in the middle of the month. But on the days I couldn't do a full workout, I still walked and did what I could to keep moving.

Miles Ran: 5
Better than last month. By one mile. I still haven't gotten quite back in the swing of running regularly. But I'm working on getting there.

Personal victory: Completing another year of Xtreme with perfect attendance.
I didn't miss a single day of workouts in eight weeks. (I'll have a more thorough recap of this round of Xtreme next Sunday.)


February goals:

- Spend five minutes a day stretching. -- MEH
I did this about 50 percent of the days in February. It really did make a difference -- especially after some of those tough workout days. I need to do this more consistently.

- Incorporate a new vegetable into our rotation. -- MEH
We bought some mixed vegetables. But that was as good as it got. Not great. I will keep trying to change it up.


March goals:

- Run twice a week.
I have some 5Ks coming up, so I better get my legs and lungs back into it.

- Add a fruit or vegetable to my breakfast most days.
I'm really good about having a vegetable or fruit with lunch and dinner, but I kind of ignore those food groups at breakfast. That needs to change.


Last week's workouts:
Sunday - Off
Monday - Ran 1.5 miles during lunch
Tuesday - Strength circuit workout
Wednesday -Walk/run with Sara during lunch + Partner Cardio with Sean after work
Thursday - Barre with Brittany (she brought out some bands that really challenged us!)
Friday - Off ... I wanted to do Flex Friday, but I ended up having to run an errand instead.
Saturday - Off

Friday, February 22, 2019

Friday Fiver: Best things about Iowa Wild games

I recently signed on for another year as a partial season ticket holder for the Iowa Wild. It'll be my fourth season as a fan (click here to read a recap of my first season as a fan), and I'm happy I was able to keep it in my budget. Honestly, they make it really affordable. And the games are a lot of fun. I'd hate to miss out on being a part of it.

Here are my five favorite things about Iowa Wild games.

The players
It's fun seeing the players come in, get better, and (sometimes) move on to the big club. I've gotten to see quite a few guys who got promoted, and it's awesome. The Wild are also really good about community involvement, so it's easy to get to meet some of the players and feel like you get to know them a little.

I'm probably biased, but he is my favorite mascot in all of hockey. Honestly, he's my favorite mascot in Des Moines (I'm sure Cubbie Bear and Bernie Barnstormer won't like hearing that, but ... oh well). He has a lot of fun during the games. I particularly enjoy when he picks on the people in my section by throwing popcorn at them or messing with their hair. (Don't worry, they're used to it and expect it.)

The in-game entertainment
The Wild make great use of the giant video board in the middle of the arena. I'm particularly fond of "Who Am I?" (clues are given so people can guess the individual being featured) and the "Rapid Fire" segment (a player chooses between two items on the screen -- pancakes or waffles, Xbox or Playstation, etc.). Last night, they had a mic'd up feature too, and that was really fun. Then again, it was Sam Anas (my current favorite Wild player), so it was an easy sell for me.

Bordenaros pizza
If you know me, you know I love to support local whenever I can. So I'm happy when I can have some delicious pizza from a local place at the arena. It's my tradition at every game I go to.

Joe O'Donnell
Photo source
The voice of the Iowa Wild. When I can't get to the game, I like to listen to it or watch it. Joe does a great job of describing the action and explaining what's happening. He's a true pro and a very nice person too. Wild fans are lucky to have him.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

This & That 2/21

I'm super excited to be going to a hockey game tonight. Work has kind of gotten in the way of enjoying my Iowa Wild season package lately, but I'm going to try harder to make it to more games in the next few weeks. The season is winding down and the boys have playoff promise. They just need to get a few more regulation wins.


Remember when I made wine last year? Well, I finally got to open it and drink it last week. It was delicious. I'm so glad I have two more bottles to enjoy. And I might have to look for another wine-making session so I can keep up my stock.


I have been fighting an urge to cut my hair for months. It's the longest it's ever been. Some days, I like it. Other days, I'm over it. I really want to go back to the cut pictured below, but I'm struggling to actually do it.
There are three reasons why.
One - I like being able to pull my hair back for workouts.
Two - There's another woman in my department with a similar hairstyle to the one I want. And our names are similar too. People already confuse us sometimes. I don't want to make it worse. Sigh.
Three - I know the cut below will require more maintenance than what I currently have. I'd have to go back more regularly for trims to keep it that length. And with my money and time crunch situation, I don't know if I want to commit to that.


Lent is coming up in a few weeks. I never had to think much about it until I started dating Sean. Now, I have to consider that when it comes to our weekly menu. Fish, grilled cheese, and pasta can get old. Anyone have some favorite lent-friendly meal ideas?

What's on your mind this week?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Struggle and failure

I saw this quote somewhere on Facebook a few weeks ago and it spoke to me. Loudly.

I shared the quote on Instagram and Facebook. Based on the response, I wasn't the only one who needed that message.

For the past few months, I've been fighting an overwhelming sense of failure. I hate the fact that I have so much debt. Stupid debt too. Not just student loans and a mortgage. Credit card debt. I reiterate -- stupid debt. Debt I incurred for wanting things I couldn't afford and deciding I needed them enough to spend money I didn't have.

This debt is the reason I have a second job, working 15-20 hours a week beyond my full-time job. It's the reason I don't have much downtime. It's the reason I don't see my friends as often as I'd like (because my schedule is insane and unpredictable). It's the reason I have to deal with drama from teenagers and people who don't really want to work. If you can't tell, I'm really angry about having a second job. I look around at my friends, who all seem to get by on just one job. Why can't I? Why am I such a failure at adulating? There have even been a few (at least three) crying meltdowns. And I have no one to blame except myself. I'm the one who put myself in this position. I'm the one who opened the credit accounts and spent money like I'd never have to pay it back (spoiler alert: I do ... with lots of interest).

A few different friends have helped talk me back from the ledge and my pity parties on this matter.

One used her financial planning skills to help me form a plan. I gave her all my numbers and she gave me a budget -- completely spelled out in excel sheets -- of what to pay on each thing each month. If I follow it, I will be completely debt-free (except for my mortgage) by spring 2020. Having this plan helps me see the light at the end of the tunnel. I only have to have a second job for roughly another year. While that often feels very far off, at least there is an end date. That gives me some peace.

Another pointed out to me that there are a lot of people in my position but the difference is that I'm doing something about it. She said there are people who get in debt and just keep on that track without ever acknowledging it or trying to better their situation. She pointed out that while I may not be where I want to be now, I'm at least working to get there. She also reminded me that even the people who seem like they have it all together often have something hidden that they're struggling with. 
I suspect I will fall into these mental pits a few more times before I finish off my debt. I even have them right now as I'm working through my disaster. I feel I'm not doing enough as a friend, a daughter, a wife, etc.

I had a breakdown the other night when I had to turn down lunch with a friend because it didn't fit my schedule. I can't make plans very far in advance because my work schedule usually isn't set in a timely manner. And by the time it is, it seems too late to ask someone to do something. Also, I work a lot of evenings, so on my rare night off, I want to stay home. And I feel bad about that.  I'm a little afraid that I will lose some friendships while I work off debt because I don't have time to spend with them. I guess only time will tell who will still be there.

I don't see my parents as often as I used to for the same reasons listed above. It's just harder to find time to drive the 80 minutes round-trip and spend some time there when I don't have a ton of downtime. And I don't want to make them drive to me all the time either. That doesn't feel fair.

Sometimes when I get home from work, I just want to sit and zone out on social media or get lost in a book. But my husband wants to talk. I try to find a balance, but I still don't feel like I've nailed it. I feel like I'm neglecting that relationship too.

I'm trying to be everything and do everything. And I'm not doing well.

Clearly, I can always find an area where I think I'm failing.

Anyone have advice for shifting these feelings of failure when they sneak in?

Monday, February 18, 2019

Music Monday: Parachute - "Young"

As a kid, I was in a pretty big hurry to grow up. I couldn't wait to be on my own and have a job. Now that I am and have those things, I wonder what younger me was thinking. I'm really not that good at being an adult (more on this tomorrow), but I think I could be good at being young if I could go back.

That's why the lyrics to this new Parachute song hit me.

Ooh, baby
Seems we're only getting older lately, ooh
And I think I'm scared that maybe
After all this growing up
I'm only good at being young

It captures exactly how I've been feeling lately when I've been overwhelmed by adulthood.

Let's be real, I was also just excited about new Parachute music. I can't wait to hear more.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Sunday Sweats: Constant challenge

Some people enjoy solo workouts. Some enjoy group fitness classes.

I sit on both sides of that fence. There are benefits to both.

Solo workouts allow me to kind of zone out and recharge a little bit, mentally. Running is the only solo workout I do, and there are days it is just what I need. Fresh air, music in my ears, and my feet pounding the trail. It can help cure a bad day.

Group fitness classes make up the majority of my routine. I enjoy the camaraderie. But honestly, the real reason I love the classes is for the challenge. The classes make me try exercises I wouldn't otherwise even think of. I can go easy on myself when I'm working out alone. But if I'm surrounded by other people, I push myself more. My instructors push me too. Just the other day, I was doing an overhead carry with a 12 lb. dumbbell. My instructor told me I was taking the easy way out. He said, "Grab a kettlebell next time. Challenge yourself." I did as he said and he gave me some applause next time I went by with a 12 KG kettlebell (the internet says that 26.455 lbs). He knew I could do more and he made sure I knew it. I appreciated it -- the vote of confidence and the kick in the butt. Sometimes I need that.


Last week's workouts:
Sunday - Off
Monday - Xtreme Cardio (30 mins)
Tuesday - Xtreme Total Body Strength (30 mins)
Wednesday - Xtreme Cardio EMOM (30 mins)
Thursday - Xtreme 3-line stations (30 mins)
Friday - Xtreme Partner Cardio (30 mins)
Saturday - Off

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