January 27, 2011

{Health and Fitness} My workout schedule

One of the big goals is to increase the intensity and rigor of my workout and get back to my yoga regular practice. So far so good. I think I have found a schedule that works for me for now.

Monday - New Rules of Lifting for Women (NROL4W)
Tuesday - rest
Wednesday - NROL4W and yoga
Thursday - interval runs
Friday NROL4W
Saturday - jog with baby bear
Sunday - rest

I have been able to work it with Papa Bear to be able to take my yoga class again. So every Wednesday night, he takes over to get Baby Bear bathed and ready for bed so that I can go to my yoga class. I love being able to get back into it. I love yoga and it feels amazing and helps to have that time to myself. I am not exactly at the same level that I used to be, but I am working my way back. It just feels so great. You know a yoga class is great when you are sweating (and I am not talking about doing Bikram or hot yoga). Monica - thank you for a great class every week.

When I started the NROL4W, I was doing it 2 days a week. I have been able to add an extra day which is what they recommend and I am able to add a day of running by bringing Baby Bear with me in the jogging stroller.

The NROL4W is a nice program so far, I am in Stage 2 and I am sore and feeling stronger every day. I am increasing the weight slowly and I am feeling good. I think it is a great workout plan. I am moving along the program nicely. What I like most about it is that it is not this plan where you just do it for 30 days or something like that. I like the progressive nature of the program. Granted I am only in Stage 2.

So I am working well toward my goal for balance with health and fitness. It is so important for me and such a big part of who I am. The two weeks where I had to take a hiatus due to moving and Baby Bear's pneumonia were rough weeks. There were days in that period where I thought I was going to lose it. The loss of balance in my life really threw me; I was exhausted, stressed, unhappy, and just falling apart. Now that I am getting back on track with my health and fitness, it really makes a difference to provide me with some balance. It gives me a few moments to myself where I just get to focus on me and it makes a huge difference in my quality of life. It is good for me; not just for my body but also for my mind and soul.

January 24, 2011

{Photo Corner} Week 4: Lesson 3 The Color of Light

I hope to be back on track with my photography lessons. The third lesson was on light and white balance. "White balance is simply a fancy way of setting the color temperature of your image." There are several White Balance settings: cloudy, tungsten, bright sun, and florescent. However, the best way is to use a custom white balance, which forces the camera to set its white balance for the exact lighting situation that you are shooting.

Automatic White Balance (AWB)


Tungsten setting. You don't really see a drastic difference between the two photos.


Custom White Balance. Here is where you see less of a orange cast on the photo.

Custom White Balance

I really enjoy learning about photography and how to use my manual settings.

January 20, 2011

{Photo Corner} Week 3: Growing Up

This week I didn't have time to do the 3rd lesson, so instead for my 52 week challenge I took a few pictures on my favorite subject, Baby Bear!

2011-01-20 mama's shoes

2011-01-19 ready

Still learning to take better photos...

January 10, 2011

{Photo Corner} Week 2: Lesson 2 ISO and Shutter Speed

Lesson 2 is on ISO and Shutter Speed.

ISO, or film speed, is really just a setting to determine how quickly an image will be captured by either the film or digital sensor. The higher the ISO, the quicker the image will be captured and the less light that is required. The lower the ISO, the longer it takes for the image to be captured and the more light you will need.

general rule of thumb:
  • 100 - 200 sunny and outdoors
  • 400 in the shade, overcast, indoors with good light
  • 800 - 1600 indoors, low light conditions, sports or action

Shutter speed is how quickly the shutter, or the little door that opens in front of your film or image sensor, operates. It can range from several seconds (or minutes on the Bulb setting) to 1/1600 of a second or faster.

general rule of thumb:
  • use a tripod or flat surface to steady your hand for anything 1/50th or under
  • if you are handholding, use a minimum of 1/60th. Hold your breath while taking the photo to reduce camera shake.
  • fast moving objects require at least 1/1000 to freeze the action.

My photos from the weekly challenge:

1/80 speed with ISO 1600

1/80 speed

1/1000 speed with ISO 1600.

1/1000 speed

You can see that the action in the second photo is frozen more than first. Pretty cool!

January 6, 2011

{Photo Corner} Week 1: Lesson 1 - Aperture

One of my goals was to get more creative by learning to use my new DSLR camera in manual.

My camera: Canon Rebel T2i. I love it!

So to challenge myself and help me meet my 2011 goal, I am doing a 52 week challenge in which I take a photo once a week. I had thought about a 365 challenge but didn't think that was very feasible with my lifestyle and schedule to take a photo a day. So 52 weeks it is. For the first 12 weeks, I am doing a 12 week online course with a few friends. Each lesson has several challenges to help you learn each concept.

The first lesson is on aperture or f/stop. The size of the aperture, or f/stop, of a lens determines how much of your photograph is in focus. The f/stop numbers refer to how open or closed the aperture on the lens is. Basically:
  • low f/stop = less of your photo will be in focus.
  • high f/stop = MORE of your photo will be in focus.
So here are my photos from the weekly challenge using different f/stops.

f/3.5. You can see that the background is blurry in this photo.


f/8. Here you can see that the background has a little more clarity.


f/22. With the larger f/stop you can clearly see the flowers on the window. A great deal more clarity.


It was fun to learn something about taking photos in manual rather than relying on auto. I am excited that I can see the differences among the photos as well. On to the next lesson...

January 5, 2011

Happy 2011

It is a new year. We are in our newly remodeled home (I will post some pictures later) and it is great. I am not one to make New Year's resolutions rather I usually make some goals for the year. I hadn't really got the chance to think about any goals for this new year since we had been so busy with the move. So now that I have had a chance to think more about it, I realized that I need to focus more on myself. I have been so busy being mommy, that I haven't really had the chance to do the things I like or want to do. So this year is about carving out time for me. Yes, I am Mama Bear, but I am also me. My needs have been put aside for 19 months, but I think it is time to find a balance between meeting my needs and the needs of my family.

My goals for 2011:

Get creative. There are two things that I hope to do to be more creative.
  1. Learn to use my camera in manual. I got a new DSLR camera for Christmas. I had been wanting one for years and I finally got one and I am so excited to be able to use it. Several of my friends are doing an online 12 week lesson. So this will get me on my way. I've already completed week 1 and I will start posting the results of my lessons here as well.
  2. Continue to design invitations. I enjoy designing and last year go back into it with designing Baby Bear's birthday invitation, my friend's baby shower invitation, and my grandmother's 90th birthday invitation. It has been so fun to have a creative outlet and I am currently designing an invitation for a friend's baby shower. I will share that here soon.
Revisit what I enjoy doing to stay balanced. Being balanced helps me to be a better mommy and less stressed and I really feel that it is time to focus a little on myself so that I can have the patience to deal with the challenges of parenting and have a clear head to parent more positively.
  1. Increase the intensity and rigor of my workout. Before becoming Mama Bear, I exercised and worked out regularly. I still do that, but the intensity and level of my activity was much more rigorous. Part of it is carving the time for it, but it is also about making it a priority. It is important for me to be in shape and I need to make it a bigger priority. I started the New Rules of Lifting for Women the end of last year. I finished stage 1 and I am now into stage 2. I will admit I slacked off with stage 2 when the holidays hit and we began our move. I am ready to get back at it.
  2. Get back to my regular yoga practice. I absolutely love yoga, but I haven't been able to regularly go to classes like I did before Baby Bear was born. I tried on multiple occasions. Now that Baby Bear is older and we are in our house, I am making this a priority. I went to a class tonight and it was fabulous. I felt so refreshed and amazing. I want to feel like that all the time.
Pamper myself on occasion. This one is a bit of a challenge since it requires me to spend money, which is something we don't have a lot of since spending and hemorrhaging (as Papa Bear likes to say) so much money on our remodel. We really should be saving to replenish the money spent. But nevertheless I do think is an important part of focusing on me.
  1. Get a manicure and pedicure once in a while. I haven't had a real manicure or pedicure since the day before Baby Bear was born. Being that Baby Bear is now 19 months old, that was 19 months ago! I am not talking about doing this on a regular basis, but it is nice to be pampered once in a while. I don't have a particular goal with regard to frequency. Maybe once every two-three months as a treat. I think that may be reasonable, we will have to see how our wallet likes that one.
  2. Dress less frumpy. I just feel like I have very little time to make myself look beautiful each day. I am not talking about dressing up and being glamorous, just helping myself to feel less blah looking each day. I need some new clothes that fit. My pre-pregnancy clothing fit, but my body has changed so they don't fit as well as they used to. I am particular about the way clothes fit and look on me. I find that lately I don't feel good about how I look because clothes don't fit me right. Again, I don't want to spend a lot of money and I really don't have a lot of time to shop either. So this particular goal is going to be quite challenging, but I am going to try to make an effort to solve this issue. Not sure how quite yet.
De-clutter. Now that we are in our newly remodeled home, we have a little more space. But just because we have more space doesn't mean we can have more things. Packing and moving has made me realize that we have too much stuff and I think it is time for me to go through what we have to de-clutter and to pare down. On top of what we have at home, we have stuff in storage. It is time to really think about what we need and what is just clutter.

So there we have it, my goals for 2011.