Monday, May 31, 2010


Central Illinois has been hit with summer a bit two months early. Our temperatures have ranged from about 85-93F with humidity and all.

Fortunately, our air conditioner (which we try not to use until it gets this hot in the middle of summer) has kicked the bucket. So we have had to find ways to stay cool.

We have an ancient window a/c unit in our bedroom and some fans.
The kids have all been in one room with a window fan on the first floor.
We all wear and sleep in as little clothes as possible.
Cool and frequent showers.
Popsicles! Ice Cream! Ice water!
Thankfully, the pool opened on Saturday...we've already logged several hours in.
New sprinkler!
Lights out. Oven off. Curtains drawn.
Linger in public a/c spaces (e.g. library, gym, preschool, coffee shop, grocery store)

Any other tips on how to beat the heat?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I like to dance...a lot. And dance is a great way to get your workout in.

Zumba is a fantastic fitness program that combines Latin music and rhythms into a fat and calorie burning workout that doesn't feel like anything more than the best dance party ever! It is a fantastic cardio AND toning workout for your entire body. This will tone you up and drop dress sizes like they're hot!

Of course, I teach a class twice a week at the Fitness Center in Champaign so I hold Zumba near and dear to my heart. But you can find a live class ANYWHERE! In CU, almost every gym has a class (but I will say the Fitness Center instructors are pretty awesome!).

But if you can't or don't want to take a live class, Zumba Fitness has recently released a new DVD set (Total Body Transformation System). The DVD's include several workouts including some specific for sculpting and abs. You can check out their informercial on tv. You can order this system online here. (the Champaign Public Library does have a set that you can check out before you buy).


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Summer is Shaping Up!

With only 7 more days of school, we have finally gotten some summer decisions made! Here is what is on the calendar thus far:

Girls Adventures in Mathematics and Science (GAMES) Camp for our 13yo
Girls' Softball for the 13yo (Go Blue!!)
Summer Art Enrichment at UofI for the 6yo
Farm Hands at Prairie Farms for the 4yo

We also got our reduced-priced pool passes (prices reduced until May 28) and will do our annual trip to Wisconsin. And we have four weddings (and hopefully no funerals).

We will also probably do Vacation Bible School through Faith United Methodist in Champaign and a round of swim lessons for the boys.

Of course, my husband still works in the summer and I maintain my fitness schedule. September will come up on us fast!!

What's on your summer schedule?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fitness Friday!!!

Why I like being fit and healthy?

If you know me, you know that I exercise regularly and pretty hard. I really enjoy exercise and when the opportunity came up to become a fitness instructor, it really completed part of myself that I hadn't expected. Before my 6yo was born, I really never exercised. Gym class, dance class, fun at a wedding, a long walk.... Although not the best message from my husband, he got us a gym membership for our birthdays one year.

Once I started getting in shape, I quickly learned why I need to maintain this in my life.

*I can breathe! Better, at least. I have asthma and cardio is the best way to improve it. I now know that I can run, jump, and play with my kids while breathing at the same time. I have full confidence that I can sprint after a kid trying to cross the street on his own and have the breathe to tell him he scared the crap out of me afterwards.

*Energy! I have a lot of energy and it helps me keep up with the many things going on in life as well as run, jump, and play with my kids!

*Strength! I am very confident that I can pick up and carry a lot of things....children, laundry, groceries, books, chairs, dogs. I can also easily make it up and down several flights of stairs while doing household chores.

*Stress Relief! If I didn't head to the gym or to the sidewalk, my marriage would be a mess and my kids would hate me. I need to physically relieve my stress everyday. I feel so much better after a good sweat or stretch.

For me, fitness makes me a better parent and person.

If you exercise regularly, what keeps you going?
If you don't, what would you like to gain from fitness in your life?

Sunday, May 09, 2010


My daughter and I went to see Babies on Mother's Day at the Art Theater in Champaign. It made my day!

Babies (Bebes) (79mins, PG)
This documentary follows the lives of four babies from birth to about 18month of age from San Fransisco, Namibia, Tokyo, and Mongolia.

What can be better than spending 80mins eating popcorn and watching adorable babies? Not much.

For someone who loves to study cross-cultural development, I would have been content just watching the babies from Namibia and Mongolia (since their culture is so different from my own). I wanted more from those two babies. But watching all four showed the universality of child development and how each culture tries to impact that development. I loved that the babies in Namibia played with all natural materials (e.g. rocks, dirt, animals, mom's hair) and the American baby is always surrounded with manufactured 'baby' toys.

There has been some---not exactly controversy---but hesitation from Americans about this film, especially for young children. I can see exactly why (there is some footage of breasts and breastfeeding, naked babies including penises, and peeing and pooping). There is nothing in this film that has not happened at my house so I would allow my children to see this film (I did not bring the boys today since I wanted to relax and enjoy some girl time but I plan to watch it with them as well). The theater had at least a dozen young children and none of them really commented on any of the nudity (and some were right behind me). Additionally, one of the baby's movement is restricted in a way that is not common to Americans (but I ask you if it is any different than American's cribs, pack-n-plays, bouncy seats, etc). I think it is a great conversation catalyst for your kids.

I don't think it is our place to judge how other cultures raise their children but use this a way to learn more about it. You can also reflect on your own parenting choices.

I would recommend Babies to any who likes babies. Do you really need to see it on the big screen, not really but supporting the local economy is always great (the Art is the only theater in Central Illinois showing this film at this time).

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Babies! The movie.

I saw a preview for this movie about a year ago and was so delighted that not only is it in Champaign, but on opening weekend! And at my favorite movie theater...The Art Theater. I have spent a great deal of time studying pregnancy, childbirth, parenting, and early childhood development across this film is perfect for me. I am so excited.

Come check it out with your kids!

From the Art Theater:

For Mothers' Day (May 9), we will be donating $1 from each ticket sold to the Crisis Nursery.

Also, on May 9 all children under 16 get free popcorn with ...the purchase of any drink. (Even our $1 bottled water!).

Ticket prices:
Kids (16 & under): $6
Seniors (60 & over): $6
Matinee (before 6 PM): $6.50
Students after 6 PM: $7.50
Adults after 6 PM: $9

Monday, May 03, 2010

Food Update


We have stopped buying flavored yogurts (for the most part, they are now a treat) and absolutely no go-gurts and other cotton candy and similarly flavored yogurts. Yoplait now offers Simply Gogurts which are free from artificial colors and flavors but they still contain sugar.

We switched to tubs of Stonyfield Farms low-fat, plain yogurt (and add whatever flavors I want to with real fruit or honey). It is an organic brand. Previously, I would purchase the store-brand.

I have also started eating some Greek-style yogurt. It has more protein which is great for me for breakfast or when I am working out a lot that day. It is also good for my non-protein eating son (he has stopped eating meat, eggs, cheese, and beans). I like Yoplait's a lot and it fits better into our budget (but it is still expensive about $1/cup). Stonyfield also offers varieties (called Oikos) at a slightly higher price (but you can get coupons online). I have also had a Fage and found it too heavy for me...almost like eating sour cream. Like my regular yogurt, I always buy plain and add what I want (that way I can control my sugar, etc).

Most of these brands of offered in most grocery stores including Walmart, Meijer, Schnucks, Jewel, and even small markets.


We have decided that we will continue to purchase store-brand, regular, old eggs. We did the research on organic, cage-free, etc. eggs. Meijer does offer an organic option but it is still at least 3X the cost of regular eggs. The amount of eggs we consume (and would like to continue to since it is a good protein source for us), we cannot afford this change.

*We are now focusing on better meat choices. I'll let you know what I find out.