Tuesday, March 31, 2015
I really don't think I'm a very competitive person. When I first started wearing a pedometer, counting steps and entering them online (Walker Tracker) I must admit, some of the competitions DID drive me. That was several years ago. Now ... I really am stepping for ME. That said, it is still fun to see how I stack up to family and friends and other Fitbitters and pedometer people out there.
In the picture up top, Hubs sent me a quick snag to show he was gaining on me. He never did catch me though. #2 son (iCallahan) DID top me once, but among family, I'm generally in the #1 spot.
After four years of being on Fitbit, I do have quite a few "friends" on there. Honestly, I don't know many of them in real life (or even online life, although some are Facebook friends or blogging buddies). Unlike my family's Fitbit accounts, which have stayed limited to family and close friends, I have over 100 Fitbit friends, and I rarely see my family in those select spots the Fitbit site (it only shows seven, three above you, you, three below). To be able to see my family together, I set up a group. For the month of March, my 9-year old is currently in second place, followed by Grandpa (my dad) and then my other three boys (my 14-year old has stopped tracking his steps, he just didn't like the feel of the Fitbit). Then my brother, Hubs, and more family under that. Being a SAHM, not having to work or go to school does give me a bit of an edge ...
The people who know me and have me as a Fitbit friend generally think I'm completely crazy for getting the steps I do. They always tell me I'm in the top spot all the time on their accounts.
But on mine?
There are people much crazier than me!
I just grabbed this little snag today. It's a seven day total, so that equates to about 21,000 steps per day for me. My goal I've set for myself is 22K a day, so I'm pretty close. I'll hit 30K days, then have low step days (under 5,000) on Sundays, as I take a break.
The gal at the top of MY friends list (I wasn't sure anyone would ever beat her, but it has happened a time or two) AVERAGES over 41K a day!
I'm generally in the top 10 on my account unless I'm sick or on vacation. Occasionally, I will see #2 son make an appearance on my list. Hubby made it on there once. I really like when I see people I actually KNOW.
On the picture to the right, I do actually know Jane (mom to one of my son's basketball buddies) and Terrilynne (a neighbor). I'm always happy when I see a friendly face appear on my Fitbit friends tile.
The numbered ranking is constantly changing, as your steps sync, as other add their steps to the mix. It changes daily, even hourly!
Fitbit has recently added "Challenges" to their program. You can invite people to specific step challenges and compete. I've only done it once ... like I said, I'm mainly just competing against myself. But that said, it is fun to see where I stand, and know how others are doing with their step counts too!
Friday, March 27, 2015
Well, weight is exactly the same as last week, which I guess is a good thing, as eating was still atrocious this week. I'm not sure what it is. Am I extra hungry? Am I craving sugar and snacks, or am I just eating because ... it tastes good, it makes me happy (for a time anyway)? I'm really not binging, I'm not out of control. I'm writing it all down. I'm conscious of it. I just can't quite get the self-control to reign it in and improve the content. I just keep trying to out-cardio my calories.
As far as exercise, it actually was a better week (although my numbers weren't as impressive as I might have anticipated). I actually did weights. I jogged the track. I hiked on the treadmill. I biked ... all in addition to my usual elliptical and Zumba.
Here's a quick rundown of the week ...
- Friday: Zumba, elliptical and WEIGHTS. I finally did them! Calorie intake was high with snacking during the day, and #2 bringing home Popeye's chicken in the evening.
- Saturday: I jogged! #5's basketball games are at the gym with a track above it. #3 manned the video camera, so I hit the track. I can totally watch and cheer him on while getting in a workout. I haven't "run" in forever, but it felt good. Got in elliptical today too ... but eating? Ouch! Grabbed donuts after basketball, and went out to dinner in the evening.
- Sunday: Physical ouch ... whether from the weights or the jogging, or both, but I was definitely feeling it. Actually did 40min on the elliptical (I haven't been getting in any exercise on Sundays). Eating was still pretty high with our Sunday Circles, and homemade oreos in the evening.
- Monday: Zumba, an hour of elliptical, and one mile treadmill incline. Still feeling sore ... and eating too much. Making Lemon Jello Cake didn't help with the calories (but it was yummy!)
- Tuesday: Zumba in the morning, an hour of elliptical during the day. 1 mile on the treadmill, and 10 miles on the bike. I was happy to get through my book. I've been loving reading again, but hadn't been doing much on the bike. Calories still over 2000, but not as bad as the other days.
- Wednesday: Took it a little easy today, just Zumba and one show on the elliptical (40min). Ice cream has been a temptation lately!
- Thursday: Zumba in the morning, elliptical during the day, and then Zumba again at night.
NUMBERS: Actual weight came in exactly the same as last week. Average was up though (.86). Average intake was 2614. Average daily burn was 2794. No deficit, I was over by 1278 calories.
I know the eating is more of a mental thing, than me actually being hungry. Food is just so at the center of so many enjoyable activities (going out to eat, family breakfast, making cookies for the kids, popcorn with a movie). But that's not even the main problem for me ... it's being home, with all the treats right here. I know that is in my control too (I mean the kids would revolt if I didn't buy a bunch of the stuff I do, but I knowingly buy things I know I can't resist). Gotta work on that! Part of the problem too, is that I feel pretty good where I'm at. Yes, I'd like to lose 5-15 more pounds, but most of the time I'm happy with what I see in the mirror, and even in the recent family photos. It makes me lack the motivation ... and enjoy my snacks!
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
I'm a snapshot kind of girl. I take a ton of pictures, but I had NEVER set up a "professional" family photo shoot. Oh, I've been in them before, when extended family have made the arrangements. With our oldest boy heading off to Mexico for two years, Hubs and I figured we should get in some family photos before #1 left. So on a rather chilly day in February, we did just that. I got the photos back yesterday *Ü*
I had to update my Facebook of course ...
Here's a couple more fun ones ...
Aren't my boys cute?
It's so nice having these pictures, especially with #1 feeling so far away. He's doing good, and we get to exchange emails once a week. A couple of months before he left, we got him the new Fitbit Charge. He had given up on the Flex, and had been wearing a Zip, but wanted to try the latest gadget. But with his mission to Mexico, we were pretty sure he wouldn't be able to sync regularly (and the missionaries are advised to not wear expensive gadgets) ... so he ended up leaving it home (much to the delight of #4, who is now wearing said Charge and loving it).
Being the pedometer person I am, I REALLY wanted to get step counts from my son while he was gone. While I would have really preferred the Fitbit, being able to log onto his account and "see" his steps, I told him I'd be content with a daily step total once a week. I got him an inexpensive clip pedometer, and he's been a good son, giving me an accounting of his steps in our weekly email. When I get his steps, I manually enter them into Fitbit, thus keeping him competitive with the rest of the family.
I've really been impressed at how active they have kept him! Right now, he's in the Mexico Missionary Training Center. Learning Spanish, and the missionary discussions. But apparently there is gym time too, basketball and volleyball. There have only been a few days he's been under 10K. His current high is 24K.
In the snag above ... of course I'm #1 *Ü* I was a little surprised that my #2 son wasn't on there (I mean, the 9-year old is beating the 16 year old?) I told #2 to make sure he was syncing and up to date, and he admitted now that basketball season was over, his steps and stats had really fallen.
The next week, #1 sons steps weren't quite as high, but it is fun to see where he stands among his Fitbit family and friends, even though he isn't even around right now. It's silly, but this little connection makes me feel closer to him.
Much of missionary work is walking around knocking on doors and such, so it will be interesting to see how his steps adjust when he leaves the MTC and is out in the field.
Of course ... I set up ANOTHER blog to keep track of HIS journey.
Friday, March 20, 2015
Blah ... this is one of those weeks where I don't even want to post my weekly weigh-in. But, online accountability is a bit what it's about. It wasn't a good week. Again. The scale definitely reflects it with a 2.1 increase and some higher weigh-ins during the week. Here's a quick week recap ...
- Friday: It was Friday the 13th. The elementary kids were out of school. I still hit Zumba and got my 40min of elliptical in. Hubs was taking off for the weekend, but plans weren't finalized until the evening. He ended up taking the three younger boys (I stayed home with #2 and the cat). I was a little stressed out ... and I ate.
- Saturday: #2 was off with friends most of the day, so I was basically home alone. Often, I go exercise crazy when I'm not on mommy-duty ... but not today. Just not feeling motivated. Only 40min elliptical, and overeating again.
- Sunday: Do nothing day ... literally. Well, I ate. Hubs and the boys made it back.
- Monday: Not feeling my usual Motivated Monday. Did get in my Zumba and elliptical. Did ok on eating, until Hubs came home from work and suggested we go out. Over calories again.
- Tuesday: Actually kept eating in check today! Got in Zumba and elliptical ... and then went to an evening Zumba! Felt like it was a good day!
- Wednesday: Zumba and elliptical ... AND BIKE. First time back on the bike in a while! But, overate again.
- Thursday: Zumba and elliptical, and evening Zumba again. Way too many snack calories though.
So while I'm doing pretty good on the fitness front ... it's the food.
I am not losing weight.
I must admit ... on Saturday #2 and I picked up some more Girl Scout Cookies. I was craving popcorn, with real butter (and I made some ... twice). After not indulging in ice cream for quite a while, I've been eating it again. Easter candy has come out ... I don't like the Cadbury eggs that many people rave about, but I love the Whoppers Robin Eggs. And Reeses. So much yummy stuff out there.
I have my little MFP ticker here in the sidebar of the blog. I weigh in daily on my Aria scale and my weight is automatically updated on the Fitbit site and on MFP. I been as far as 30 pounds lost, 15 to go. I really liked those numbers.
I haven't seen those numbers for several months. When I did finally drop a few pounds back in October ... it was the eating. For some reason, for a while there I was able to control the calories. If I can keep my calories until 2000, I am generally quite successful on the scale. I know so many keep calories at 1200! I'm just a little piggy!
NUMBERS: Eating was SO bad this week ... the average was 2700. Yikes! Not a good week. My daily burn average was actually less than my intake (2678). I don't know if that has even happened before. So obviously, no deficit for the week. Over by 2540.
It is TOM time too ... if that comes into play at all.
Today, Friday, starts the "new week" for me. I'm not doing wonderful today, but I DID do weights in addition to my Zumba and elliptical. Hopefully I'll be able to control my calories and have a better check-in next Friday! Linking up late with Weigh-In Wednesday ... *Ü*
Thursday, March 19, 2015
I LOVE music. I grew up playing the piano. I sang in high school and college. Music has such a profound power ... motivating you, making memories, affecting mood. In many ways, I think it's almost essential to exercise. To jogging anyway ... I am one that must match my footfalls with the beat. Of course music is mandatory for Zumba! I've posted about my music several times on the blog.
But something interesting has happened lately.
I always listened to music in the car. I can't stand commercials, so I'd generally go with an ipod plugged into the stereo system. Occasionally, we have to do a car swap in the family, and several months ago I ended up driving #1 son's truck for a bit. The sound system doesn't work in the truck. No itunes, no radio. And I actually got used to the silence.
I'm back in my burb now, with a working sound system ... but I'm finding I'm not turning it on. I've learned to enjoy the silence. I'm comfortable with it. It gives me time to think, or just be, without any noise.
I still love music. As far as exercise ... I'm going to continue to play my music (or in my home gym, TV takes the place of music much of the time). I know there are some runners who just run, without music. I've never understood that. HOW? I need that music to drive me (and who am I kidding, I'm not much of a runner anyway). I know it's actually recommended for safety, to be in tune with the surroundings. But maybe, those runners have discovered the secret of silence. Of listening to their own breathing, their heartbeat, just being ...
In the car, there are times we'll turn on the radio or the ipod playlist, but most of the time now ... I'm driving in silence, and I like it.
In the car, there are times we'll turn on the radio or the ipod playlist, but most of the time now ... I'm driving in silence, and I like it.
Just Thinking Out Loud this Thursday.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
I discovered Zumba a little over a year ago. At first, it was just a once-a-week workout. But then, I started going to another class, then another. It was Tues/Wed/Thurs for a bit. Then I added a Mon/Fri class. I decided perhaps I should look into some shoes recommended for Zumba rather than the ratty running shoes I had been wearing.
I Googled "Zumba Shoes" and came across several informational websites (I can't remember which ones right off). Many recommendations and descriptions of what was best for a dance workout. I discovered that running shoes are NOT recommended at all, as they are usually heavier with a strong tread (which can actually cause your feet to catch).
After reading all the recommendations, I tried the Puma Janine Dance Shoe (pictured above). I didn't like it. Now admittedly, I hate all shoes. I never wear shoes unless I am required to wear shoes. I am also cheap! $60 may not sound like a lot for you shoe connoisseurs out there, but I'd never spent that much on SHOES. I noted that one of my Zumba instructors was wearing this exact style, so I went ahead and bought them. They didn't work for me. Although the "split-sole" was recommended for dancing, I didn't feel like I had support. My feet hurt after an hour class. I sent them back. I'd never returned anything on Amazon before, but I was thankful for the return policy, as I would have hated wasting my money.
I then stopped at my local Nike outlet. While running shoes are not recommended, the Nike Free (which are running shoes) were mentioned as a popular choice on many of the sites I investigated. Very lightweight, not a lot of tread. I did have the opportunity to try them on first (unlike ordering from Amazon) and they felt comfortable. While the hot pink seems a perfect fit for Zumba ... I'm not a very colorful gal myself (Lacking in Color Confidence). As far as appearance, the simple B&W Puma's had been much more up my boring alley. But ...they were on clearance, and I had a gift certificate. I bought them, and I liked them.
I asked another of my Zumba instructors what shoes she liked, and she excitedly told me about a great deal she had just found out about. An online store (6pm.com) had the Ryka Downbeat (Ryka was one of the brand names I had read recommendations on from several different websites) for a great price. I compared the price from some other sellers, and it was a great deal (new customers even got an additional 10% off, and shipping was free!)
They were only available in "boring black" ... but that was great by me!
(This deal is gone, but 6pm has other styles at great prices still)
These were a high-top, giving support to the ankles. Just the right amount of grip, a spin-spot to make twists and turns easier. I felt like it was worth the risk (of purchasing without trying them on) and I have ended up really liking them. They are my main Zumba shoe now. Sometimes I'll wear the pink Nike's ... if they match my outfit better, or if I'm working out on carpet (they slide easily where the Ryka's feel too heavy).
I'm really not a "shoe" gal ... but I was glad I took some time and researched what to look for in a Zumba shoe. I really hadn't been aware of what worked and what didn't. In truth, the running shoes I started with really weren't that bad ... but I figured I'd save them for running (not that I do THAT very often) and buy something specific for MY workout. And it made me feel a bit more Zumba-ish too. That never hurts *Ü*
Friday, March 13, 2015
It's Friday the 13th today ... and tomorrow is PI day! I won't be eating pie tomorrow, but that doesn't make up for the bad week I had this week. What is wrong with me? I'm just in a bit of a slump. Going through the motions ... so I am still getting in my elliptical and Zumba. I'm recording what I'm eating, but haven't been eating good at all. I just have a bit of an "I don't care" attitude at the moment. So with that, I'm glad at least that the scale isn't higher than it is. Here's the quick weekly recap ...
- Friday: Hit an earlier Zumba (as the kids were out of school) ... I hope this gives me an extra hour in my day to accomplish something additional. That didn't happen. I did get in 40min on the elliptical. I should have ... really, really, need to do weights. It's been weeks! Hubs was gone, which in the past has given me extra workout time in the evening ... but I just went to bed early instead.
- Saturday: I really had quite a bit of time today, but only got in 20min on the elliptical. Just not feeling motivated.
- Sunday: Slow Sunday. Walked to/from church, and that was the extent of my "exercise" for the day. Totally overboard on the eats today too!
- Monday: Not totally feeling my usual "Motivated Monday" self. Went to Zumba and got in 30min on the elliptical. Had some unexpected extra time in the evening, but didn't do anything with it. Feeling down. Some emotional eating. Higher calorie intake day.
- Tuesday: It's early morning Zumba day (8:45 start), so I try to get in a little extra on Tuesdays. I did ... I got in a nap. But I did get a little extra elliptical too (total of an hour).
- Wednesday: Zumba in the morning, and 45min on the elliptical throughout the day. PT Conferences in the afternoon.
- Thursday: Zumba switched to 9:00 again (they had tried 9:30) so I go straight from dropping off elementary kids, and it gets me there about 10 minutes early. It is Marian though, so it starts on time. Had to run back to the elementary as it was a special "Grandparent's Lunch". My folks came out to eat with the kids and then I walked Mom through the book fair ... it really wasn't enough time to go back home, so I just waited for the boys until school got out. Got in 40min on the elliptical, and then hit evening Zumba while Daddy took the four boys to a basketball game.
NUMBERS ... are bad this week. Average intake 2414. Yikes! A few really high days, other moderately high, and not one low day to try and balance things out. Daily burn is down too ... average of 2565. That ended up with NO deficit for the week, but an overage of 1236 calories.
I'm so bad when things mess with my schedule! A basketball banquet, PT conferences, Grandparent's Lunch ... little things but they throw me off. I don't think I have much, if anything to disrupt my days next week. Maybe I can get back on track, improve my numbers and see the scale slide down a bit!
Thursday, March 12, 2015
I love fitness ... my elliptical, my Zumba. I'm not sure where I'd be without them. I'm also cheap ... even as active as I am, I know I wouldn't get my monies worth from paying gym fees. Luckily, ou really don't need expensive equipment to workout at home. I admit, I'm super spoiled with our home gym which did require investments (added to over years)... but it's been worth it. No excuses when it's right downstairs. I've also discovered a ton of free Zumba classes here in my area (♥Utah). I NEVER thought I'd try Zumba (much less love it) but seeing that first class advertised for free ... the frugal part of me said "you HAVE to try it, it's FREE".
I will admit ... I did get a little spendy with my gadgets. I started with a cheap-o pedometer ... and went through several of those. Then I invested in one that was a little more expensive (an Omron, not this one, but close, mine was about $25 and I still use it!) When the Fitbit came out ... I stressed over the cost a little. $100. But I bit the bullet and bought it. And I LOVE it.
My little Fitbit has more than paid for itself though. In actual money. There are many reward programs out there. And as my parents and hubby&kids jumped on the Fitbit bandwagon, I've gotten them on board with many of these programs too. In addition to setting up their Fitbits, I've also signed them up for Achievemint, Fitstudio and Walgreens Balance Rewards. I'll check in on things occasionally, letting my mom know that Dad earned his $50 award from Achievemint, and to watch for the email with the information. I looked up the balance on their Walgreens before they made a trip in ... and I'll admit, when they have some Fitstudio points and aren't going to get into a Kmart or Sears themselves before they expire, I'll sometimes stop in, buy something with their points and tell the boys it was a gift from Grandma and Grandpa.
My mom just happily received her first $50 Achievemint award this past week, and encouraged me to share the programs with my siblings (as many of them have become Fitbit fans as well). I've copied a bit from my email to them ...
- Achievemint: http://www.
achievemint.com/login It's quick and easy to sign up and link your Fitbit account. Then you can just forget about it, and check in occasionally (website or app). After a while, you earn enough points to claim a reward. It takes a little time to earn, and then another wait to receive ... but I've earned it several times ($50), Callahan, Landon, Dad and now Mom.
- FitStudio: www.fitstudio.com This program works with the Kmart/Sears ShopYourWayPoints ... you get store credit (up to about $8 a week). The credit does expire quickly (within a week, you can't let it roll over and add up. Use it or lose it) ... but while I rarely ever shopped at either store before, I sure do now! You DO have to be a little proactive (tell them you want to use your points, they don't always ask). The program has had a few kinks here and there, but hey, it's free credit so I'm really not going to complain.
- Walgreens : https://www.walgreens.com/
balancerewards/balance- rewards.jsp You can earn points (store credit) by linking your Fitbit. Walgreens does have a monthly limit to what you can earn through activity (just $2, or 2000 points) but unlike Fitstudio, the points do not expire and can roll over and add up. I'd signed up Mom a while back and forgot about it, then Mom was making a trip in and wala ... had $20 in credit to use.
These are the top three reward programs I like and recommend. Mainly because there is no risk, only reward. Link up your Fitbit ... or if you don't have a Fitbit (why don't you have a Fitbit?), Fitstudio and Walgreens will work with manual logins or with some other brands of trackers.
Another program I do like, and just did another review of recently is Pact (My Yearlong Pact). The reason I didn't recommend this one to my parents or siblings is that there IS a risk. You make a commitment, and if you do NOT meet your pact, you will end up paying (they do require a credit card #). But as I mentioned in my review, I've never paid a dime, I've only collected.
Here's a little "snag" from my Paypal account ... $50 from Achievemint (they pay with a GiftRocket E-card), then some of the money earned in 2014 from Pact, which I had let pile up after my first couple smaller withdrawals (just to make sure I did actually get the money!) The outgoing $$ were some new batteries for my PolarHRM :)
When I see people pondering getting a Fitbit ... I like them to know in addition to all the wonderful feedback, graphs, competition with family and friends for motivation ... it may not be the investment they think it is, as it can actually pay you back!
So that's my Thrifty Thursday report ... I'll probably post more about certain programs as I continue to have additional experiences with them. I hope to post other little money saving tips too. Sometimes fitness related, sometimes not.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
The "What I Ate Wednesday" posts are big all over the Internet. I don't participate often ... because what I'm eating isn't share worthy or anything anyone would want to emulate. In fact, IF I were to participate, I'd have to admit that GIRL SCOUT COOKIES appeared way too much in my MFP food log these past couple of days.
I didn't order any girl scout cookies.
He ordered several boxes of Samoas. With #1 son gone, I am the only one who eats the Samoas. At least I had help with the Thin Mints (although I still easily managed to eat one sleeve, yikes!). The little boys liked the Trefoils. So did I. The older boys LOVE the Tagalongs and fought viciously over them ... but I still got a few.
What is it about Girl Scout cookies? They are ridiculously overpriced ... often that can actually impact my enjoyment when eating things (I'm just a little too frugally minded). Is it that they are so temporary? Only offered once a year? Keebler does make a some knockoffs that are quite good ... but they aren't quite the same.
So ... now the boxes are empty. The cookies are gone. I can't really say it's time to get "back" to healthy eating, as I haven't mastered that at all yet ... but perhaps I can improve on eating with such reckless abandon. I HAVE recorded everything, in my private MFP diary so no one can actually witness my shame.
Anyone else struggling with Girl Scout cookie issues this time of year?
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
My boys aren't really readers. Despite seeing how much their mommy LOVES reading, they really only do it because it's a requirement from school. Occasionally, a book or series will click with one of them, and I love to see that! For this month's "Recent Reads" topic, I thought I'd share some of the books the boys have read and liked.
Just a couple weeks ago, #4 asked me if we had the book "Hatchet". We do. I have read it, and I remember #2 and #3 mustering through. I actually enjoyed it enough that I went on to read two of the sequels (there are five I believe, and I have them all in my personal library). I pulled out "Hatchet" and #4 surprised me by reading the entire thing very quickly (it isn't a big book, but still). He was interested in reading the sequels too!
Hatchet is a pretty well known book. #4 did NOT want spoilers before he read it, and was mad I mentioned a plane crash and survival skills. Although, if you read the blurb on back, you are going to get that much!
Now, technically, "The River" is book two. It was written second ... but I recommend reading "Brian's Winter" as book 2. Now ... this IS a spoiler, if you haven't read this series. At the end of book 1, Brian gets rescued. I've never heard of an author doing this before, but he decided to write another book as if Brian had NOT gotten rescued as written, but had to survive the winter (and THEN make it back to civilization). So that is "Brian's Winter" and in my opinion, it should be read before "The River" (which chronologically happens a couple years later).
I really liked the Brian series. Apparently #4 does too. In addition to reading, he made cute matching bookmarks (he has done this in the past with some other books too). I've been so happy to see him reading and actually enjoying it!
#3 has been reading the Swindle series. I remember I bought the first book for son #2 at a school book fair. I'm not sure if he ever even read it. Then #3 needed a book for school and picked Swindle from the bookshelf (this is why I love having a home library). It was quick and easy for him to get through and he asked for the 2nd, then the 3rd, 4th and is currently reading the 5th one.
He had been enjoying the Percy Jackson series and the Micheal Vey books (but then was required to read a "realistic fiction" thus the switch to Swindle). The other series I'll always remember impacting #3 was the Origami Yoda series. #3 has always been a Star Wars fan, so grabbing the first book for him to try was really a no-brainer. The story itself was fine (I did read it myself, as I like to do to see what the boys are reading), but it was the actual origami that intrigued my boy (as you can see in the picture above). There is a fifth book out now ...
Even my munchkin has seemed to enjoy his recent reading. Each month his 3rd grade class needs to read a specific genre (realistic, fantasy, biography, historical fiction) and this month it was "fairy or tall tales" ... hmmm, that was a little bit harder. I showed him a book from the Myth-O-Mania series (I figured myths were similar to fairy tales and tall tales, the same stories passed down from generation to generation) and got the ok from the teacher, so he's been reading "Have a Hot Time Hades". I read this (and some of the others) a while back. They have a very conversational tone and a lot of humor (here, Hades is explaining that he's really a good guy and Zeus is really quite the dunce). I've always enjoyed mythology, and while these take a slightly different approach than the more traditional fare, the basic mythology facts are still there for the kids to learn. I also turned on Disney's "Hercules" so #5 could get another view of how Hades is most often represented (as the bad guy).
I'm always on the lookout for book for my boys. I realize they may not be interested in the same books I loved as a child (Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, The Witch of Blackbird Pond ... although #3 did read that for school, and when #4 finishes the Hatchet series I think I'll recommend Island of the Blue Dolphins to him). I do fall a little into the thought trap of "oh this book's main character is a girl, the boys won't want to read it" ... Shannon Hale, author of the Princess Academy books and more, wrote on this topic and it was good to read. Shannon Hale's No Boys Allowed?
Personally, I haven't been reading quite as much. I haven't done any reading and riding in several weeks. I was just so busy (still got in my Zumba and Elliptical, but no the bike), then got sick, and I've just lacked motivation. I've done some regular reading, but I need to get back to it on the stationary bike. Check back next month (second Tuesday) for my recent reads!