March 31, 2011

Daily Affirmations

In one of my communications classes during college, I learned that women, in particular, have a really hard time setting boundaries.  My professor said this is because we are taught from a very young age to be people-pleasers.  We apologize for things thare not our fault (Do you ever say, 'Excuse me!" when someone bups into you?  Or even worse, say it to inanimate objects when you bump into them?  I do!) and feel guilty when we want to say no to others' requests. 
I wanted to share this list of "permissions" from family systems therapist Virginia Satir, which I read on one of my favorite blogs, Rage Against the Minivan.  Several of these (the ones in bold) resonated with me, and I don't think I'm alone. 
  1. I do not have to feel guilty just because someone else does not like what I do, say, think, or feel.
  2. It is OK for me to feel angry and to express it in responsible ways.
  3. I do not have to assume full responsibility for making decisions, particularly where others share responsibility for making the decision.
  4. I have the right to say, "I don't know."
  5. I have the right to say "No," without feeling guilty.
  6. I have the right to say "I don't understand," without feeling stupid.
  7. I do not have to apologize or give reasons when I say "No."
  8. I have the right to ask others to do things for me.
  9. I have the right to refuse requests which others make of me.
  10. I have the right to tell others when I think they are manipulating, conning or treating me unfairly.
  11. I have the right to refuse additional responsibilities without feeling guilty.
  12. I have the right to tell others when their behavior annoys me.
  13. I do not have to compromise my personal integrity.
  14. I have the right to make mistakes and to be responsible for them; I have the right to be wrong.
  15. I do not have to be liked, admired, or respected by everyone for everything I do.
Also, we should all take a cue from this little girl.  I never get tired of watching this!

This Makes Me Want Twins

What do you think they're talking about??

Mid-Week Progress

It's Thursday, also known as the only day during Operation: Spring Break that a Zumba fitness class is not planned.  This is my day to let my muscles recuperate a bit before heading into the weekend stretch of craziness.  Since I know you're simply dying to know if I'm surviving the week, I thought this was a good time for an update.

Day 2 started off with a bicep and back routine at the fitness center before our road trip to Racine, Wisconsin.  Jessica, Tom, and I headed up for the first of what will be three trips to the cheese state this week.  Our beloved Norma was kind enough to let us tag along for her Super Duper Tuesday lineup of three Zumba classes in a row.  We've dubbed it the Triple Back experience, and it was a doozy!  I was impressed with myself that I had enough stamina to get through all three classes, but my poor muscles were so sore from Monday's bootylicious workout!  I was definitely relieved when the third class finished.

After all that working out, Normalicious treated us to delicious Italian dinner (we love our meatballs!) and them some pampering at her salon, J&N Ultra Tan.  Now, I've been to tanning salons in the past but never one like this!  Norma has really gone out of her way to make this a comfortable atmosphere... it's really like a lounge.  If you're in the Racine area, I highly recommend you stop by one of her locations for a tan, massage, mani/pedi, cappuccino, and some Zumbawear!  Yes... you can get all of that in one location!

We each had a tanning cocktail, which includes a few minutes in one of her beds and a Mystic tan.  This was my very first spray tan experience, and I have to say I'm in love with the instantaneous results.  My only complaint is that the barrier cream didn't keep my hands from turning orange, but I'm sure that's a user error more than anything!  :)  After a little more hanging out in the salon, we started the drive home, and I crawled into bed a little after 1:00 AM purely exhausted from our day of fun. 

Wednesday mornings start with a 30 minute toning class before Zumba fitness.  I had every intention of attending both classes, but I looked like an Oompa Loopma when I woke up and desperately needed to shower before leaving the house, so I ended up missing toning.  To be honest, I'm completely okay with this because I was still sore from the previous two days... especially by abs!

Last night was my usual Wednesday evening class, which is everyone's favorite because the crowd is awesome.  I will not lie... I had to pop some pain pills to help with the soreness before class, but it totally helped!  I was also super excited to bring my dear friend, Ashley, and her sister, Whitney, to their very first class.  Despite their concerns (mostly Whitney's) about looking uncoordinated, they both had a great time and left with smiles on their faces.  I tell ya, this is the great thing about Zumba... anyone can do it!

Today's agenda includes a long-overdue sushi lunch with a friend and then shopping for new Zumba shoes.  A girl that works out this much definitely deserves more than one pair of shoes, dontcha think?  Also, I have birthday coupons at DSW that need to be used... yay!

March 28, 2011

Operation: Spring Break

Spring break.  A time for relaxation and rejuvenation.  A much-needed break at the end of a long winter before heading into the final stretch of the school year.  I can think of a million things I'd love to be doing during my break...

Relaxing on a beach...

Sipping on tropical beverages...

De-stressing with a massage...

Treating myself to a mani/pedi
Sadly, none of these activities are part of my plans this year (but a girl can dream).    Maybe in my next life. 

Don't worry, though,  dear readers.  I will not be sitting at home on the couch feeling sorry for myself.  Oh, no.  I have big plans for this year's break!  I managed to sign myself up for 12 Zumba classes this week.. yes, you read that correctly!  12!  This includes three trips to Wisconsin, two master classes and two toning classes.  In addition to all that shaking, Tom has constructed his own schedule of torture weight training for the week, which includes daily workouts. 

Honestly, if I survive this week, I'm going to need a real vacation. (Anyone willing to sponsor said trip?)   

At the end of day 1, I have completed a 90 minute ab, butt, and leg workout with Tom and Jess (during which I think I was far less pathetic than last week... right, Tom?) and a 60 minute Zumba class.  I was careful not to push myself too hard today because I have another workout and three Zumba classes scheduled for tomorrow.  Last week's bootylicious session with Tom resulted in two days of agony upon sitting, rising, or even walking, so I was more conscious about listening to my body today.  My muscles are minimally sore at the moment, and although I expect them to feel worse tomorrow, I should be on track for Day 2.   

Also, I am officially declaring Sunday my Day of Rest.  Even God took a day off, right?  Smart man, that God!

March 23, 2011

Can I Be a Warrior?

My crazy (and I say that in the most endearing way possible) friends are trying to convince me to do the Warrior Dash with them this June.  Me! 

For those that aren't familiar, the Warrior Dash is "3.2 hellish miles" (per the website).  It takes your standard 5k to the next level by adding multiple obstacles like leaping over fire, army crawling through mud pits, climbing cargo nets and giant hay bales, walking a plank and more. 

I have to admit, it looks like a ton of fun... for those that have the physical stamina to endure this type of adventure.  I just don't know that I can ever be that girl.  I mean, I've been whining all day about how sore I am from yesterday's bootylicious workout with Tom, and watching me lift tonight must have been pure comedy.  Even I couldn't take myself seriously... I'm such a wimp!  And since I'm definitely not a runner, I have a long way to go before I would be able to survive this challenge.   

But... if my teacher training has taught me anything, it's that it's best to work toward SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, Timed) goals.  In other words, it would be better for me (in terms of accountability) to work toward the goal of completing the Warrior Dash than to just work out for the sake of being healthy. 

Also, I would be super cute in this shirt... just sayin'!

I have until May 22 to register.  I guess we'll see how much progress I make before then.  No promises, though.

March 22, 2011

How I Spent My Day Off

My long-term subbing job was over on the 11th, so I'm back to day-to-day subbing.  Truth be told, I hate it.  It's so hard not to have my own classroom or to know the kids I'm working with each day.  And even though I understand why they do it, I hate the boring lesson plans they leave me.  I read half a book a day, I swear!  B-O-R-I-N-G!

I'm having a hard time finding the motivation to work every day.  My current goal is to work three days per week so I can tell myself that I'm working most days... it's pathetic.  I know I will regret this once the paychecks start coming, but it's hard to remind myself of that when the phone rings at 5:00 AM!

With this being the week before spring break, there aren't many jobs to choose from.  The one opening for today was a definite "No!" for me, so I had "no choice" but to stay home.  Honestly, after my 2.5 hour Zumba workouts last night (I did two classes in a row), my body needed the extra sleep today.    

What I should have done on my day off:
  1. My taxes. It's almost crunch time.  I've never waited this long in my life.  This is called L-A-Z-Y! 
  2. Job applications.  This is a never-ending task, it seems.  It's daunting to spend so much time filling these out because we all know no one is reading all those annoying essays anyway. Ugh!
  3. Taking my car in for the emissions test.  I drive past this place (okay... the neighborhood, at least) almost daily, yet I never stop... despite the fact that there is a giant yellow reminder on my passenger seat.  I know it doesn't even take long.  I'm just being lazy again.  
  4. Apartment hunting.  I have a problem with my champagne taste on a beer budget.  Everything I like is out of our price range.  Story of my life.
What I did instead:
  1. Painted my nails using my new OPI Shatter polish my mommy got me for my birthday.  The results, by the way, are amazing, and this is coming from someone who sucks and painting her own nails.  One of my favorite things about this look is that it isn't supposed to be perfect... which is perfect for me! (In case you are wondering, I used a glittery silver base, and my result looks surprisingly similar to the picture on the right!)
  2. Had a protein shake date with Jessica at ProFusion Geneva.  I love this place.  It totally satisfies any ice cream craving I might be having, and it's totally healthy!  I tried a chocolate caramel cappuccino today, which was delicious!
  3. Met up with Tom for a bootylicious workout at the gym.  He is my personal Jillian Michaels, and it's sort of a love/hate relationship.  The picture on the right is pretty much an exact portrayal of what today's session was like.  Okay, so Tom never screamed at me or got in my face, but the pain on that poor contestant's face... that part was true.  Let's just say I between grimacing in pain and laughing hysterically at my pathetic self.  Thank God for Tom, though, because I would never push myself that hard.  My booty (and legs) will be sore tomorrow.  In fact, I'm feeling a bit stiff as I sit on the couch writing this, but I am afraid to move too much! 
I will not lie, it's much more fun to stay home from work when I have friends that are around during the day.  If I'm home alone, I'm usually bored by 12:00 and wishing I were at work.  I can't wait for spring break next week so I can play every day! 

Zumba at the Roundhouse

This month, my dear friend Jessica made her debut as an instructor at an on-going event, Zumba at the Roundhouse in Aurora, Illinois.  She and Tom take the stage every other Monday (for now, at least) from 6:30-8:00 PM and lead the crowd in their irresistible choreography.  If you're in the western suburbs, I highly recommend you check out this dynamic, high-energy duo.  

One of the greatest things about Zumba fitness is the ability to modify each move to fit your needs.  Whether it's your first fitness class or you're a professional dancer, it's truly a great workout for everyone.  I can tell you from experience, that you will leave each class a sweaty mess but with a smile on your face!  As someone who used to despise any form of exercise, let me tell you that it has completely changed my life!  Zumba has taught me that fitness can actually be fun!

Jess and Tom have taken Zumba to the next level of fun by bringing it into a bar for a nightclub experience.  It really feels like a party rather than just another fitness class with their use of a stage, lighting, and a great sound system.  It's pretty much the best way to spend a Monday night!

Tickets are $7 in advance or $10 at the door, but space is limited.  Check out the Roundhouse Event on Facebook to reserve a ticket.   

Trust me, this is one party you don't want to miss!

March 20, 2011

Product Review: Nexxus Pro Mend

I don't normally use my blog for reviewing products (except for Chobani, of course), but I had to make an exception for this.  When something is this good, it would be simply selfish of me not to share it's greatness!

A few weeks ago, I received a free sample in the mail of the Nexxus Pro Mend shampoo, conditioner and leave-in treatment.  I don't know how I became the lucky recipient of said sample, but who am I to complain?  I'm always looking for the perfect hair-care products, and I certainly couldn't resist a treatment that touts the ability to bind my split ends in only one use.

Typically, when I use a free sample, I try the product once and continue with my regular regime.  With this, though, I squeezed out every last drop from the packages and was determined to get three full uses out of my sample because I loved it so much.  I was honestly disappointed when it ran out. 

To be completely honest, I haven't given up my normal shampoo and conditioner.  I guess I have combination hair - it tends to get oily at the scalp but very dry at the ends.  I had to wash my hair every single day to avoid looking greasy, but it was making my ends look so dry and brittle.  A couple years ago, I started using Biolage, and although their products are more expensive, I've had great results.  And if something works, I stick with it!  So, even though I'm obsessed with the scent of the Nexxus products, I'm sticking with my normal shampoo and conditioner. 

I am, however, completely sold on the Nexxus Leave-In Treatment (the product on the right in the photo).  I simply apply a few pumps worth to the split-end prone areas (for me, this includes the ends and baby-fine hairs at my temples) and style as usual.  I've tried this product with both straight and curly styling with great results (and smell, I might add).  You would never know how overdue I am for a haircut! 

March 10, 2011

Today, I am the Favorite!

In my family, we have a running joke about who is the favorite.  This is especially fun for me because I take great pride in this label.  I have declared myself the favorite child, sister, cousin, niece, grandchild... etc. and remind them of this whenever possible.  I honestly don't think I've signed a birthday greeting without using this adjective in years!    

My students also enjoy playing this game, and I take my mother's approach by always assuring each child that he or she is my absolute favorite (even if I negate that by winking at the next student).  It's so cute to watch their faces light up with pride when I tell them this, even when they know I am joking.  I understand exactly how they feel.  :)  

Much to my dismay, my father take the opposite approach: the dog is his favorite.  The only exception to this rule is on our birthdays.  Whenever I ask (and I ask often... trust me), "Daddy, am I your favorite?" he responds, "On March 10th!"  Believe me when I say that it is impossible to trip this man up.

Well, dear Daddy, today is the day! I AM YOUR FAVORITE!!! 

And I fully intend to keep your text message that says so... evidence for the remaining 364 days per year! 

In related news, I have the sweetest students in the whole world.  One of the major benefits of having such small classes is that I really get to bond with my students.  In many ways, they see me as a mother figure, and one has even taken to calling me her second mom.  This morning, they came in for breakfast with bouquets of flowers, chocolates and cards.  I never expected a thing.

And my wonderful friend Carolyn, the woman whose maternity leave I am covering until tomorrow, came to school this morning with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and balloons to surprise me.  This was definitely above and beyond since she should still be snuggled in bed with her baby.  How thoughtful is that?!         

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, this is the last year I intend to age.  My grandmother told me once that you can pick any age you like and stick with it.  As long as I've been around, she's been 105... and she looks damn good for her age, if I do say so.  Grandma is a wise woman, so I am taking her sage advice.

Also, I may or may not have eaten one of my funfetti (my favorite) birthday cupcakes for breakfast today.  And also for dinner last night.  I'll never tell.  (But if I did, I would also remind you that we make healthy cupcakes in our family, so it wouldn't really be shameful at all.) 

March 8, 2011

There's a Ghost In My Phone

Each year in November, my mobile provider (whom I am very pleased with, I must say) has a huge sale on phones.  Back in 2009, I was thrilled to take advantage of this sale and purchase a Motorola Crush for one penny.  I have a long history with Motorola phones, and I've never been disappointed in the past.  The number one feature I wanted was a QWERTY keyboard because texting was becoming more and more a part of my phone usage, and this phone had it.  Also, the cheapskate in me was thrilled to be able to continue using my current car and wall chargers (which also happen to work with my Motorola bluetooth headset... which I lost last week...UGH!). 

My love affair with this phone didn't last long.  In fact, I started joking that the phone was names the Crush because that's what I was about to do to it!  Within a couple months, I was completely fed up with the stupid touch-screen lock.  It's in place for good reason, but I miss so many calls because I can't get the darn thing to slide over and unlock in time.  If there's a speck of dust on that touch screen, forget about it! 

It was also around this time when I noticed that whenever I would try to type, random letters (not the ones I touched) would appear in the message, causing me to edit and revise literally every text I sent numerous times until it was finally correct.  At first, I thought it was my fat fingers hitting the wrong keys, but I soon realized that my phone would continue to type even if my fingers weren't moving.  Yes, I could put the phone on the table and watch the little ghost inside type away cryptic messages to his ghost friends. 

When I called my provider (nearly a year into my contract) about this issue, the customer service rep assured me that this was a software issue and told me I needed to send my phone in for repairs.  When I received the phone back, I was assured the ghost man was gone.  Clearly, though, they need a better exorcist because my ghost did not cross into the light.  He must have some unfinished business to take care of because he's still here... and now he's angry.   

Now, he seems less interested in sending texts.  He is, however, interested in hijacking my service and hiding the evidence.  He's a very sneaky ghost, never giving me any indication that the service has been blocked (all bars are clearly visible.  No error message is ever received.), but sometimes, when I go to make a call, I notice that the phone says, "calling" but never connects.  The only solution to this problem is to restart my phone, at which time I usually get a flood of voicemails and texts from all the people trying to reach me in the hours my phone has been without service. 

I have no solution for my new problem yet.  I just constantly call my voicemail just to see if the phone will connect; it's the only way I know to test for service.  But, let me tell you, this ghost is getting on my nerves!

According to Facebook

Does anyone else wake up in the morning and immediately check Facebook like it's the morning paper?  It has seriously become one of my greatest news sources.  I can tell you who won the game, what asinine anti-education bills are being proposed, and a near play-by-play of Charlie Sheen antics within minutes of checking my news feed.

My second favorite news source is The View.  I can't get enough of the "Hot Topics" segments (and get overly excited when they feature A Day of Hot Topics). 

My boyfriend is constantly annoyed amused by the information I relay to him from these sources.  What has our world come to when my knowledge of world happenings is reduced to 140 characters or a sound byte on a daytime talk show?  In my defense, though, I do make it a habit to browse MSN a couple times each day, scanning headlines and researching topics of interest.  I don't think I would say I'm well-informed, but at least I have a general idea of what's happening in the world.  

This morning, I woke up to posts about Fat Tuesday celebrations and Paczki indulgence (which I've never even heard of before today).  I guess that means the Lenten season begins tomorrow.  This means nothing to me, as a non-Catholic, except that Easter is 40 days away.  This is a good thing, though, because my birthday always falls during Lent, and I will NOT be giving up my cake! 

Also, I do not have an excuse to be a glutton today, which is good because I can't afford to.  After photos from last night's Zumba event (Jessica's debut as an instructor... yay, Jess!  We are so proud of you!) surfaced on the Internet, I am reminded that I still have a long journey ahead of me. Yikes!!  No Paczkis for this girl!   

March 4, 2011

This is Unconditional Love

Anyone who watches Oprah knows she's been talking about her new network, OWN, like crazy. To be honest, most of the shows she mentions don't really appeal to me... except for one, Our America. It's a documentary show hosted by Lisa Ling, a reporter I've always admired, that tackles some of life's most thought-provoking and controversial topics.

I love how investigative journalism takes me into a world different from my own.  I enjoy exploring controversial topics and challenging myself to consider new (and sometimes intimidating) ideas.  I believe it's necessary to do so in order to continue growing as an individual.  In other words, is the perfect new show for me!

I've been recording the show but just had a chance to catch my first episode last night due to my crazy, busy schedule as of late. I chose to watch the episode titled, "Transgender Lives" because this clip, which was shared on a segment of Oprah, really caught my attention:

It can't be an easy road for a parent to get to this level of acceptance.  I am impressed that Steve and Barb have been able to do so in such a short amount of time and with how fully they embrace their daughter.  I'm so glad for her that she won't have to grow up hiding who she is - no one should ever have to do that. 

I am truly touched by the unconditional love these parents have shown their little girl, and I believe that her life will be far better because of their support.  I'm sure the road ahead will be extremely difficult for Hailey, but  it will be much more tolerable with such an accepting family by her side. This, in my opinion, is what being a parent is all about.  Loving your children without limits. 

Well done, Lisa Ling!

March 2, 2011

Best Party Game Ever!!!

Who doesn't love a good game night??  Getting together with friends, enjoying a couple adult beverages, listening (and sometimes dancing) to great music, and laughing until I cry... it's the perfect combination for a memorable night!

In the past month, I was introduced to my new favorite party game: Telestrations.  Basically, it's Pictionary meets Telephone, you know, like the game you used to play in kindergarten. 

Game Components
 Each player gets a mini dry-erase flip book, marker, and a word card.  In the first round, each player writes their secret word on the first page of the flip book and passes it to the next player.  In round two, each player gets one minute to draw the secret word in the new flipbook and passes it on again.  Round three is where it starts to get really fun because players must try to guess the secret word from the last player's drawing and pass the flipbook again.  In round four, each player sees only the last player's guess at the secret word and then tries to illustrate it again.  I'm sure you can see how the game gets more interesting as it progresses. 

How soccer turns into Swiss cheese!
The game continues until the flipbooks are back with the original owners, which isn't always easy to determine.  My favorite part was when I'd get my flipbook back and say to myself, "How on Earth???" when I saw the final guess at my secret word.

There is a point system to this game, but we didn't even care.  We had plenty of fun sharing the progression in each book and laughing hysterically at people's illustrations and guesses.  It's hilarious to see an ear of corn with eyeballs and a tongue as someone's depiction of a lizard, for example.   

And if your game nights happen with rather rambunctious  groups, as mine often do, you may choose to create your own secret words rather than using the playing cards.  In my experience, this is when people's true colors really start to show! 

Best picture of the night: "I will NOT draw this!" (Somehow, the word "midget" turned into "child porn??".  The poor guy who received that guess was meeting most of us for the first time that night  He's probably scarred for life, but we all got a great laugh out of it!)

I just ordered my own game today because we resorted to making our own paper flipbooks for our last game night because the one we borrowed previously was being used.  I plan to introduce it to my students next week during game time on my last day.  I can't wait to see their drawings!!

Seriously, if you're in the market for a new game, this is the one you want.  I promise that if your friends and family have a decent sense of humor, you won't be disappointed!

March 1, 2011

Free Food at Chipotle!!

You may know by now that I am a huge Chipotle fan.  Yeah, I may have mentioned my devotion to this place once or twice... or even three times.  One might call it a slight obsession.

Hello.  My name is Erin, and I am addicted to Chipotle.

There!  I feel better already!

Anyway, if you share my love for all things burrito, you can imagine my excitement when I came across this link for "buy one burrito get one free" (or burrito bowl if you, like me, prefer to double the lettuce and pretend you're eating a nice, healthy salad). 

Yes, my dear readers, it's true!

All you have to do is watch the video, and then you'll get a pop up coupon to print.  You don't even have to "like" the page... I didn't!

Who's in for Chipotle this week???