Ballet Barre Workout

So, this month of December I decided to torture myself by joining my local Pure Barre group. Okay, so it’s not really torture but the classes are definitely giving me a workout. The movements are very small and designed to really work all those hidden muscles you don’t know you have but you really need to be strong.

I’ve been going for a few weeks now and every single class has been slightly different. I really like that each time we do similar movements but they mix it up a bit. By the end of class I’m exhausted. The classes don’t really get my heart rate up like other kinds of aerobic exercise would (which means I still have to keep up with running or jumping rope) but I definitely feel the burn!

Each class starts off with some body movement in a standing position designed to warm you up. Then, we work on some arm exercises (with or without weights). Next, we utilize the ballet barre to really work our quads and glutes. After that, we work on our core by doing various abdominal exercises (similar to Pilates). Finally we stretch it out and give one last boost to the glutes before the cool down.

I tell you, this stuff is not cheap but it’s totally worth it. I am, by far, the worst in the class. I can’t do half of what everyone else can do but I’m sticking with it. I like that I pretty much know what to expect but that it’s also varied so I don’t get burn-out. My quads, glutes, lower back, abs, arms…. all feel the burn after every workout.

I’m glad I started in the middle of this crazy holiday season because I know that if I make time for this now I can certainly make time in the new year. My new year goal is to find a program and stick with it. So far, so good. I really feel like this is varied enough that it will keep me engaged and coming back for more. I thought I’d share with you some thoughts about my new workout routine in the hopes that it will encourage you to make some positive changes as part of your new years resolution.

Some tips:

  1. Splurge for the good “sticky socks” (you know, the ones they sell in their store or the more expensive ones online with the full bottom). The cheap ones I found online don’t hold me and I slip and slide all over the place.
  2. Go ahead and buy the exercise tights. You’re going to feel weird wearing tight clothing but it makes a difference. You don’t have to worry about pulling pant legs down, etc. Buy a longer tank-top if you feel you need coverage.
  3. Make sure you register for class online before showing up (if this is an option where you are) because there have been days I’ve come to class and they were only letting in folks who were already on the list as it was that busy.
  4. On that note, show up at least 5-10 minutes early for class. This will allow you to get a prime spot in the room and to relax a bit before the class starts (classes start right at the time scheduled!).
  5. When they say “hold” and “freeze” they’re saying the same thing. Basically it just means that when you lift your leg (or whatever) you’re holding it in place for a few seconds before releasing.
  6. Also, when they say “tuck” they want you to squeeze your abs in and curl your booty forward. It helps if you squeeze your butt muscles in at the same time. It’s awkward but you’ll get it.
  7. Finally, don’t worry about what anyone else is doing! Just focus on yourself and your movements and you’ll do fine. Even if you’re doing half as many as everyone else, concentrate on your precise movements so you’re working the muscles correctly. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

So, go out there and try this workout if you have one in your area. I really feel like this workout, combined with a healthy diet, is a great way to get fit. There are several types of barre workout places: Pure Barre, The Bar Method, etc. Do a bit of searching… there might even be a barre class at your local gym! Good luck and have fun! #newyearnewme

#IRL

Well. I figure I should catch you up on my life and unexplained absence. This year has been full of ups and downs and will go down as both one of the greatest and also the worst year of my life. I don’t even know where to begin.

First, we finished our kitchen renovation just before the new year and have spent this year rearranging and beautifying the space. We are really loving the makeover and spend a lot of time in that space.

Also, we adopted the most precious pup, Jethro, in April. He was born January 31 and he’s an apricot standard poodle. He has the best personality. He loves us fiercely. He’s definitely daddy’s boy. He’s a protector and a love bug. He will bark loudly when he wants to warn us of “danger” but then will spend all afternoon spooning on the couch. We couldn’t ask for a better addition to our family.

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We built a shed for our backyard in the heat (and rain) of the summer. From scratch. I’m not kidding. Craig and I set the foundation, framed the walls, etc. It was a true labor of love. One day I hope to have a post on the process.

We went to Michigan to visit some good friends and went wine tasting around several wineries around Traverse City. Our favorite was Brys Estate. We highly recommend their Pinot Noir and my favorite was the Cab Franc. Then, in September, for Craig’s birthday, we went out to hike around the Olympic Peninsula. We did the Hoh River Trail and I lost 5 toenails from having terrible boots (didn’t know they were bad until about 10 miles in).

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Finally, we had some tragedy hit our family. My biological father passed away suddenly at the beginning of September. In the span of dinner with friends he had stopped breathing, entered the hospital, and then passed away. The doctors tell us it was a pulmonary embolism. It was very sudden and although he was not in good health none of us expected him to be gone so soon. It is especially hard on his parents, my loving grandparents, who in their early 80s have lost a child.

In addition, my step-father (and the man who raised me with my mother since I was 5 years of age) passed away suddenly on Halloween night. Again, a sudden and tragic and unexpected loss. Norman was in the backyard with friends when he just collapsed and was alive no longer. We did not have a chance to say goodbye. My sisters and I are finding the adjustment to life without him rather difficult. My mother is having the most difficult time of all, as one can imagine.

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Life is both wonderful and terrible right now. Every day I feel conflicting emotions. It still doesn’t seem real and yet it is. How can this be real life? How are we to manage it all? This holiday season is both a blessing and a yet reminder of our loss. I pray everyday for my mommy and for my sisters that we are somehow able to continue moving forward while keeping his memory alive. It is very hard.

So, that’s where I am right now. That’s what’s been happening with me and mine. I have more to say. More stories to share. But for now, I will wish you seasons greetings of love and happiness and great blessing upon your life. Hold your loved ones close tonight. I pray that you remember to cherish every moment you are given on this earth.

I’m hoping to really dive back into posting here on this blog. I like the journal aspect and since Craig and I are looking to try and get pregnant in 2015 I feel like this will be a good way to document the journey. I’d love for y’all to continue to follow along. Thanks for your support.

XO – Caron

First Look: HGTV Smart Home 2015

Y’ALL! (I can say that in all caps because…) the HGTV Smart Home is located in Austin, TX this year!

Have any of y’all been to Austin? Elsewhere in Texas? My friend, Shay, lives in Austin and I went out to visit her one year. It was a pretty cool place. I was out there in the springtime and the bluebonnets were in bloom and just gorgeous!

So, HGTV has given us a sneak peak of the construction process and I thought I’d share a few photos with y’all to get your opinions and share a few of my own. First, can we just talk about the front facade!?! What the heck is with the side entry front door? I HATE it. I love a beautiful front entryway and when the front door is hidden from view it makes visitors confused. This is especially the case when the house has a side yard like this one where the living room opens out onto the side of the house and not the back of the house. Anyway, I do love the different sidings used and the casement windows with black frames.

See what I mean about that hidden front door!?! This picture above shows just how awkward it is. Ugh. Also, I do not understand the one-car-garage idea. I mean, this is 2014 people. Everyone could use a little more garage space even if it is for our secret hording lifestyles. Even if the garage has to be tandem because the lot is not large enough, just do it! This is my same complaint with the HGTV Dream Home for this year.

So, from the picture above you can see the temporary front door there on the left that opens into the dining area and living room to the back right of this picture. We can see what looks like a niche for a flat-screen TV and some sliders to the side patio.

Here’s a floor plan to help you get your bearings:

There is a tiny back porch that I’m guessing is screened-in but I wonder what could really fit out there. The only thing I really need to be in a screened-in porch would be a dining area and that space doesn’t look very large. Below is a picture coming from the other direction with the entry at the far right, living room on the left and front of this photo and the kitchen space in the far back of this photo.

Behind the kitchen are the stairs leading to the second floor, guest bedroom and bathroom, as well as the garage space but first, let’s look at this kitchen space.

This looks to be the makings for a kitchen sink area and it has me wondering where the dishwasher is located. I see that the two areas to the right and left look like closets so I’m at a loss for what the plan could be. Maybe a bar sink? This picture below is the stair hallway and I have to say I just LOVE that they made a niche under the stairs. There’s often a lot of wasted space in the interior walls that could be better utilized and I like it when people get creative.

Also, they’re using the spray foam insulation on this house which contributes to its “smart” value.

Upstairs is a nice large loft area that I’m sure will become a play space that they’re currently labeling the “den”. Nearly to the top of the stairs you hang a left to enter the master bedroom space. The picture below shows the upstairs from the opposite direction (love the skylights).

Here is the upstairs floor plan to help you understand the layout:

There is a closet at the top of the stairs and the master space seems quite large and very nice. The only concern I have is that the other upstairs bathroom only has an entrance within the guest bedroom and this means when folks are upstairs in the den they will have to walk through the bedroom to get to the bathroom. I’m not a fan of that at all. If you’re going to have a door into the bedroom, fine, but at least have another off the hallway.

Above is a shot looking into the master bedroom above the garage and I love that they placed windows up high to let in light while still allowing for privacy. Below is a shot looking into the guest bedroom down the hall.

So, what do you think so far? I think they’re making fairly good use of a small space. Personally, I don’t feel the need for an additional formal living and dining space. I like the idea that the kitchen, living room, and dining room are all open to one another. As I said above, the one-car-garage puzzles me and I don’t care for the side entry front door but other than that I’m excited to see the finished product.

Let me know your thoughts and I’ll be back once the home is further along with more details!

2015 HGTV Dream Home

Are y’all in it to win it!?!

The 2015 HGTV Dream Home is on Martha’s Vineyard and it is built in the traditional Cape Cod style. Take a look at the floorplan:

I love the great room concept but I can’t help but think about just how impractical this home is. First, only a small one car garage. Second, the guest bedroom and kid’s bedroom both have these patios that face the driveway and really serve no purpose. The back patio (and back yard for that matter) are super tiny when what you really want is a ton of usable outdoor space. In addition, seeing as this is a vacation home, I’m not sure why in the heck they would build such large master closets. Who is bringing that much stuff with them on vacation!?! And the master bathroom, while gorgeous, is at ground level and has too many windows. Don’t get me wrong, I love windows, but I also know that I tend to be naked in my bathroom and windows at ground level will then have to be covered up 99% of the time and that just seems pointless to me. I think that they should have made a much smaller closet and used the dressing room and master closet space for the bathroom and had another bedroom or office in the front of the house. This is a vacation home, after all. Maybe I’m just super picky. I mean, I would certainly be happy to win this home, but I could never make it my permanent home. It just doesn’t flow well and has poor use of space. What are your thoughts? Despite the weird floorplan I think the home is aesthetically pleasing.

Here are some of my favorite photos (courtesy of HGTV):

 

 

 

On Civility And Community

Civility – (noun) formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech

Y’all… I know I’ve been silent. I have words but I’m scared to put them on the page for all to read/comment/judge. However, I feel like it would be disingenuous to keep silent about this issue.

I want to put this disclaimer out there right now, I will not hesitate to delete your comment if you are rude in any way. Let us use this forum as a place we can be honest yet civil with each other.

Now, with that being said, I want to start off by saying I think it’s terrible that in the year 2014, 50 years since the Civil Rights Act, we are still dealing with inherent racism in this country. I will admit that I am one to give in to stereotypes. I admit that I am quick to judge instead of being quick to act in love. Even so, I cannot wrap my mind around the stuff that happens on a daily basis for many Blacks and Hispanics in this country. YouTube is a powerful medium and there have been many videos shared where police are blatantly discriminating against those who are doing no wrong.

You hear it over and over, someone is stopped while out on their morning run because the police officer assumed they were up to no good when in fact they were running in their OWN NEIGHBORHOOD, someone else is stopped while walking along the street because they happened to have their hands in their pockets and were looking suspicious when in fact it was merely cold outside and they were keeping warm. The stories go on and on.

The flip side of this story are the cases where people have been up to no good and have made a bad example for the others. Case in point, all the looting and riots. I’m all for our right to protest. This is what makes this country great. However, you lose that right when you cross the line into destructive behavior. No one has the right to damage another’s property.

I’m so torn over this issue. I genuinely feel for those raising young black men in this country and the challenges they will face. On the other hand, I see young adults (of all races) making poor choices in dress and attitude and decision making that only perpetuates the problem. So, what are we to do? How are we to make a solid change for the better?

Many of you know that I am quite interested in early childhood development and I have done much research into behavior and modeling and I have read statistic after statistic that shows the greatest influence on a child is within the home. Knowing this, how can we ever make a difference? It’s not just the bad neighborhoods that influence outcomes but the support system at home that has a greater impact.

My husband, Craig, always says that if we would all just worry about ourselves a little more and stop worrying about others we’d all be better off. I feel like he means that if we focused more on our own household we could make a better impact on the world. How do we, then, get folks to “worry about their own household” when they are working minimum wage jobs and traveling sometimes 3-4 hours daily on a bus to get to and from work? What are these children to do when left to their own devices?

This is where better childhood intervention and education comes into play. I’m not sure if you’ve read about the Harlem Children’s Zone and the impact of Geoffrey Canada‘s programs are having on that community. They currently have a 92% college acceptance rate among other varying success rates within their community groups. We see that this is a model that works. Beginning with birth we are to educate the parents on “parenting” behaviors. Early childhood education and intervention benefits all socio-economic groups. For every dollar invested in quality early care and education saves taxpayers up to $13.00 in future costs.

So, knowing this, we can sit back and complain or we can do something. I would encourage you all to get involved in some way in a high-poverty area and lets put action to our thoughts and words. I would encourage you not just to donate to Toys For Tots or Operation Christmas Child but serve the “least of these” by volunteering your time at a youth center or school, helping with a homeless ministry or prison ministry, becoming a big brother or big sister.

This year lets really work together to make a difference in our community.