Sunsets & Sand [Wordless Wednesday]

On Sunday, I desperately wanted to go to the beach. Evan’s mid-day nap makes it a little difficult, but we planned to put him down a little early and hopefully head to the beach around 3pm. At 3pm, Evan was still sleeping and the wind was blowing at a steady 26 miles per hour.  So we went to plan B.

After dinner, we hopped in the car, fought our way through the spring breakers, and took a little walk on Clearwater Beach.

Evan didn’t remember the beach. He kept saying “wow” and then made up a fun game of throwing himself on the sand. He likes to take off so we used the monkey backpack (“packpack!”) to keep him away from the water and near us. I never thought I would be the parent who put her kid on a leash.

We didn’t stay for the actual sunset (it’s a little too close to E’s bedtime and we knew we’d have to fight the tourists on the way off the beach, too), but we had fun walking around on such a lovely evening.

On the photography side of things, I used my 50 1.8, but kept the f-stop a little higher than I generally like because of all the light. I find that it sometimes has a hard time autofocusing if subjects are too far or too close. I actually had to set it to infinity focus for the two setting sun shots. I also learned how to use the clone button in photoshop and deleted a few birds and the tag off of Evan’s backpack. I think you can tell but not too bad. I am finally using photoshop in its verb form.

 So this post was full of words. Happy Wordless Wednesday, regardless.

The Sunday Salon [3.16.14]

Whew. This was a BUSY week. Election day voter protection duties on Tuesday for our special congressional election. Leadership Pinellas all day Wednesday. Trying to fit some studying in for my exam on Friday. And my first 10k on Saturday. I need a nap.

The exam was by far the worst experience of my week (even more than the election day loss). I took the Labor and Employment Law Board Certification Exam. I am trying to convince the Florida Bar to call me an expert in employment law. The main problem is that I don’t actually practice the “labor” part of “labor and employment” (traditional union work). The exam was HARD. It’s supposed to be hard (fewer than 200 out of 98,000 lawyers in the state hold this certification) but this was beyond my expectations hard. I do not feel confident at all. So unless they decide to go easy on us, you very well might get to listen to me complain about taking it all over again next year.

But the good news is that now that the exam is over, I will hopefully have a little time for reading again. I am in an awful slump and I’d really like to find my way out of it. Life is still very busy (for the next three weeks at the very least) but I am hoping to find a few quiet moments to spend with a book, maybe even finishing one today.

But then again there is Doctor Who to watch…

The decision to follow up Friday’s mental endurance test (6 hour exams are no joke) with a physical one yesterday baffles even me, but I’ll save the discussion of the 10k for Friday’s Fitness post.

Now, it’s time to go spend some time with The Pull of Gravity. Enjoy your Sunday.

The Sunday Salon.com

The Sunday Salon [3.9.13]

The Sunday Salon.com

Today is the saddest day of the year. It’s the day AFTER my birthday. I have to wait 364 more days until my next one.

But, instead of dwelling on the sadness of today, lets debut some buttons!

Since my blog has become about more than book reviews, I wanted to create some buttons to easily designate each post. Since my graphic artist skills are somewhat limited, I used the A Beautiful Mess app and quickly came up with these.


Book Reviews: Pretty self-explanatory. My button is a little tongue-in-cheek given my lack of reading/reviewing lately.

Toddler Break: For those random days I feel like talking about Evan or parenting.

Wordless Wednesday: Again, self-explanatory.

Fitness Friday: You may have noticed this make it’s actual debut a few days ago. This will probably be broader than “fitness” as I said I would devote Fridays to “health” before. But I like alliteration.

And finally,

The Sunday Salon: For my chatty Sunday posts.

My hope is that you can now glance at a post and decide if it’s a topic you want to read about. And I am thinking that  eventually I may collect them by category to more easily organize things on here.

So, readers, what do you think?

Making Time for Exercise

If you read anything on the internet about working moms, you will quickly see that the topic of finding time for exercise is a big one. Mothers who work outside the home have convinced themselves that using any of their precious time for themselves makes them a bad mother or wife. It’s an understandable feeling. I leave the house at 8am and return around 5:45pm. That leaves little time during the work week to spend with my family, especially when you factor in all of the tasks that have to be done during that time (getting ready for the day, dinner, bath, bedtime, laundry, etc.).

Finding time to exercise IS a challenge. But it’s not an impossible one. I manage two or three runs, a yoga class, and a ballet class each week. I usually end up exercising 4-5 days per week for anywhere from 30-90 minutes each time. This involves missing bedtimes, missing dinners, missing lazy weekend mornings at home, and missing netflix-on-the-couch time with Ben.

But I will not feel guilty about this.

Staying healthy is important. I can be a better mom if I stay healthy and I can show my son that it’s important to make time for health.

I am more than a mom, wife, and lawyer. I existed before I held any of these titles. I am also a woman, a runner, a dancer, a friend, a daughter, a reader, and so much more. Mothers should not be martyrs. Allowing myself an hour to be something other than a mom or a lawyer or a wife is important to me.

When I leave Evan to workout, I am leaving him with his father. You know, the other half of the parenting duo who is just as capable of putting E to bed as I am. The two of them survive. And even have fun.

When I workout during our adult evening hours, Ben gets a chance to be alone, too. He can be whatever he was before he was a father, husband, or teacher. He can watch House of Cards or soccer. He can study for his class. He can grade papers without me interrupting him every 2 minutes. Alone time is important for both of us.

Finally, I like it. It makes me feel good. It helps me clear my head and keep my sanity.

So this is why I will continue to make time during my busy week to exercise. Yes, it requires me to sacrifice time with my family (because choosing one thing always requires forfeiting another). But I will not feel guilty about it.

When I get back from a run, Evan likes to stretch with me.

February In Review

Meant to have this up on Sunday. Nope

It seems a bit silly to do a monthly recap for February. I read a grand total of 1 audiobook. Cress.  That’s it. I also only reviewed three books: The Dangerous Animals Club, The Circle and Salt, Sugar, Fat.

I am feeling great, healthwise, though. I am still watching the scale go down and I discovered I’ve lost two inches off my waist since September. I can fit into my favorite jeans now. I really feel great.

I ran my first 8k and I’m running a 10k this month. And I’ve been pretty good at making my weekly yoga class.

I also found a new dance studio. The class I had been taking is now on the night Ben has class, so I took this as an opportunity to see what else was out there. I found a great studio and a great class.

I am still out there practicing with the camera. I became obsessed with the moon this month. And I can’t stop taking photos of Evan.

Evan is at such a fun age (I say this at every age). He has strong opinions about everything. He learns at least one word every day it seem. He loves to help me and he loves to do things himself. He is still rising early, but now he has a friendly owl to tell him when it’s time to wake up. He is finally showing a real interest in books. And, of course, he still loves Mickey.

 

Feels Like Spring…Here In Florida At Least [Wordless Wednesday]

On Sunday, we went down to Largo Central Park to ride the train (once a month, a volunteer group puts on these awesome train rides for kids). But the line was long, and E doesn’t really know what’s going on yet, so we just ran around the park for awhile instead playing and snapping photos.

First, my absolute favorite of the day:

You don’t normally think of “pretty” when you think of Largo, FL (or at least I don’t). But Largo Central Park is actually quite lovely (and has a fantastic playground). It’s worth the few extra miles.

And they have a great field to run around with a soccer ball in.

I know this next one is not the model of perfect photography (the sky is overexposed for one thing) but it makes my heart happy.

More soccer:

And another favorite (even though I think the focus ended up on the soccer ball and E’s face is a bit out of focus – that 1.8 lens takes some practice):

Cress [Audiobook Review]

Spoiler Free, I promise.

Title: Cress
Author: Marissa Meyer
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Genre: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Pages: 560 pages
Audio: 15.6 hours
Year: 2014
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Source: Personal Collection
Book Rating: 4.5/5
Audio Rating: 5/5

Summary:

I’m going to skip this in order to avoid spoilers. You can read the publisher’s description here.

My Thoughts:

You all know I loved Cinder and Scarlet, right? Well, this third installment in The Lunar Chronicles did not disappoint me either. Once again, I am going to try to push a series that has lunar people and cyborgs on you. Deal with it.

I don’t want to say too much, since this is the third book in a series and I could get spoilery pretty fast here. There is a lot going on this one. We add another “main” character to the mix which means we have to balance even more storylines. Like the title characters before her, Cress is (very) loosely based on a fairytale: Rapunzel.  We’ve actually met Cress before but she takes a lead role here.

One thing I didn’t like – and here I go being vague again – is that one main character was MIA for most of the book. It left me feeling a little unbalanced.

But, overall, this book is fast-paced and action-packed, twisting and turning until it’s suddenly over and we’re left wanting more. If you haven’t taken my advice to try this series yet, you’re really missing out.

Audiobook Thoughts:

Rebecca Soler is downright amazing in this series. I wouldn’t dream of reading it in print.

4.97

I ran my first 8k on Sunday at the Gasparilla Distance Classic in Tampa. 4.97 miles. And it was fantastic.

I thought the whole thing might be disappointing. My training had not gone as smoothly as planned (I missed a bunch so I was walking a lot and barely able to keep up an 11-12 minute pace). My running buddy had to pull out the day before the race. It was foggy and humid as could be.

(That’s Bayshore. It’s 9am. You should get a nice view of the bay, as the name implies.)

But then I found a friend.

Put on my awesome playlist (turns out, there is no such thing as too much Vampire Weekend on a race day playlist).

And ran.

And ran. And ran.

I usually walk a bit during my runs, but I was feeling good and remembered some advice from my athletic trainer sister-in-law to only walk through water stations. You get a brief rest and you actually get to drink the water (and thank the volunteers). This worked great (until the last two miles where the organizers felt no water stations belonged). I was rocking a 10:17 average on my way out, but dropped to 10:40 by the end.

My goal was to finish in under an hour. I finished in 53 minutes and 3 seconds. So much better than I could have imagined.

Overall, I was one happy runner.

Bring on next month’s 10k.

Salt, Sugar, Fat [Audiobook Review]

Title: Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us
Author: Michael Moss
Narrator: Scott Brick
Genre: Nonfiction; Science
Pages: 480
Audio: 14.6 hours
Year: 2013
Publisher: Random House Audio
Source: Personal Collection
Book Rating: 4/5

Summary (from publisher):

Every year, the average American eats thirty-three pounds of cheese and seventy pounds of sugar. Every day, we ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt, double the recommended amount, almost none of which comes from the shakers on our table. It comes from processed food, an industry that hauls in $1 trillion in annual sales. In Salt Sugar Fat, Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter Michael Moss shows how we ended up here. Featuring examples from Kraft, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, Frito-Lay, Nestlé, Oreos, Capri Sun, and many more, Moss’s explosive, empowering narrative is grounded in meticulous, eye-opening research. He takes us into labs where scientists calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages, unearths marketing techniques taken straight from tobacco company playbooks, and talks to concerned insiders who make startling confessions. Just as millions of “heavy users” are addicted to salt, sugar, and fat, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again.

My Thoughts:

The food industry infuriates me. The foods that are unhealthy are cheapest and taste the best (at least until you get used to real food again). It’s easy to know that foods high in salt, sugar, or fat are bad to for you, but it’s almost impossible to stay away from them. Moss shows us the science behind our addiction and how the processed food industry has taken advantage of it, to our disadvantage.

This book only increased my disdain for the food industry, but I think it is important for us to understand why we are addicted to these unhealthy “foods.” I would definitely recommend this one if you want to know what you’re really eating and why.

Also, don’t buy your kid lunchables. Just don’t.

Audiobook Thoughts:

I’m not even going to pretend to remember what the audio production was like at this point. But it must not have been awful.