Saturday, July 30, 2016

Weekly Weigh-In #157

Up again ... into the 170s. While I've popped up into the 170s during the week here and there, this is the first time the scale recorded it for my official Friday weigh-in since ... hmmm, I just realized I haven't updated my WeeklyWeigh-Ins at a Glance in a WHILE. Okay, now I've updated it, so ... since Sep.18 2015. I bumped up then too, but had been staying pretty consistently in the 160s for many months now. Not that I even want to be in the 160s ... but the last time I saw the 150s at all was over a year ago (June2015). 

Anyway ... NUMBERS for this week: Up 1.7, average up .5 (169.84). Intake averaged at 2564, daily burn averaged at 2856. No deficit this week, over by 911 (it's a call for help!). 30min spent with weights, 880 active minutes, 65.77 exercise miles. FOOD: Mint brownies ... I should never have made them! I ran out ... but made more. Candy was calling too! Didn't keep calories under 2000 once this week :(  FITNESS: Got in my hour of elliptical six days, five Zumba classes, one session on the bike, and one time with weights. Burn was over 3000 three days, but I never quite hit 30k on steps this week. FAMILY&FRIENDS: Anniversary for Hubs and me *Ü*  #2 was gone on trek, more dental visits for #3.  My SIL was injured in a freak rappelling accident! A bunch of Zumba instructor friends headed off to ZinCon, and it was fun to follow their activities vicariously. Here's my quick daily recap ...
  • Friday (0722): My anniversary today (24years). Hubs and I did do dinner out. During the day I hit Zumba with Debbie, my hour of elliptical, and a walk to the canal.
  • Saturday (0723): Hubs and I had a long walk at the canal this morning, the duckies were happy to see him (he had worms). I also got in my hour of elliptical and mowed the lawn. Aunt Olivia came over to give the boys haircuts in the evening.
  • Sunday (0724): I got in a couple walks to the canal, and 30min on the elliptical. Hubs took the three boys to the lake. Brisket ... for breakfast (reheated for dinner).
  • Monday (0725): Zumba with Debbie, my hour of elliptical, bike and a couple canal walks for activity today. We did our Sunday Circles we didn't do yesterday, and smoked scallops for dinner (I didn't eat those, but still got in plenty of calories as always). 
  • Tuesday (0726): Early morning, getting #2 off to trek. Nice to walk the canal before the sun came up, much cooler! I lead almost all of Zumba class today, got in my hour of elliptical and did weights. A little kid carpool during the afternoon, then Aunt Olivia came over to do my hair in the evening ... it took a long time.
  • Wednesday (0727): Zumba with MZL and my hour of elliptical. Also some shopping steps, a couple canal walks and mowed the front lawn. Endodontist with #3. Spaghetti dinner.
  • Thursday (0728): Early Zumba class, my hour of elliptical during the day, and a couple canal walks. Another sit in the dental waiting room (done for now though). Dominos dinner, with a stop at the library (picking up "The Last Resort" DVD to watch). Had some electrical issues earlier in the day, but got them figured out (easy fixes).
 *** Five Featured Photos ***

Market Street Grill ... Anniversary #24

I posted about how Kitten loves #3 (she's always laying on his legs)
 ... and #2 responded with

We missed this Mr. while he was gone pioneer trekking!
I drove his Charger while he was gone ;)

 My SIL came over to blondify me ... 

No after yet ... I'm still trying to get used to it!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Authors, Aliens and Earthlings

YA paranormal today ... there are vampires, zombies, angels, fairies, werewolves, dragons, witches, time-travel, special abilities and surviving post-apocalypse ... and ALIENS of course. I generally try to vary the themes of my reads, but recently have read several books where aliens come in contact with our Earth (which is different than books set in space ... at least to me). I thought I'd reflect on a few for my Recent Reads post for July ...

I'm currently reading the final book in the 5th Wave series. I read book one in November 2015. I really liked it! The second book was out, but I had to wait for my hold at the library to come in, so I didn't get to read it until a month later. I did NOT like book two nearly as much. I do like a conclusion, so as the final book became available at my library, I put it on hold, and that hold came in. I hope I can remember what happened to continue on with the story!  No - I haven't seen the movie and I don't really plan to (I'm a bit anti-movie at the moment).  Just as a general peek into this series ... the aliens are NOT nice, and are attempting to annihilate the human race.

Really ... none of the aliens have been very nice in any of my recent reads!

  • The Cage: I listened to this in audiobook format, which I think really added a lot to the experience. Several of the characters had accents, which I don't think MY mind would have added nearly as successfully as the narrator. Here there are several different alien types. The Kindred aren't as bad as the others. In an attempt to save/preserve the human race, they have taken six teenagers and placed them in a "nature preserve" if you will. Other aliens will keep humans as pets, in personal zoos, performance displays, or even sell body parts. This book did make you think about human treatment of animals, even with good intentions. While the story started off very promising, I wasn't too impressed by the end. There is a sequel, but ...
  • Forging Zero: Some books are quick and easy to read. This is NOT one of those books. There are a multitude of different types of aliens, all with unpronounceable names, indescribable body types and abilities ... my brain had a tough time attempting to keep track. The poor human (children no less) have been taken and forced into an alien army. This was a VERY violent and complex book! While the protagonst is just 14-years old (and other children are major characters) this isn't really for a YA audience.There are two sequels, and they are available in the Kindle Unlimited program.
  • Dawn: I listened to this as an audiobook (part of my Kindle Unlimited trial) and wonder if my brain would have pronounced the names similarly.  In Forging Zero, the main aliens were the Ooreiki, here, they were the Oankali. Like Forging Zero, this was quite complex, not an easy read. Neither book is YA (due to language, sexual content and violence), at least this one has an adult as our protagonist. As with "The Cage" ... the aliens believe they are doing a good thing in taking humans to preserve (and breed) the human race, which is destroying itself. There are sequels here, but they aren't part of the Kindle Unlimited program, nor available at my library, and I'm not sure I'm invested enough to actually PAY for them ...
  • Saven Deception: The blurb for this sounded promising ... and you as the reader aren't even aware this is about aliens to start, it's simple set in a post-apocalyptic world, which was interesting by itself. The prologue however, introduces you to the aliens, and then they resurface a little later. While having tons of good reviews, and a promising setup, I found myself rolling my eyes a lot and having to push myself to finish. No plans to continue with sequels.
So I'm mid-40s ... I really shouldn't be reading YA books. But on second thought, I don't know that any of these qualify as young adult. I'm not easily offended or put off by content, but I know many are, and that parents might like to know what is in a book before recommending it to their teen. I try to include a "Parental Perspective" when I review books on GoodReads, noting proFanity (that's my little "f-bomb" indication), sexual content and violence. I think all four of these had all three!

In an attempt to leave things on a lighter, more positive note ... I'll spotlight one more "alien" story.  No extreme, end-of-world alien take-over here, although there is literally a "take-over" ...

Our little ET is stranded on Earth until he can find a way to contact home (hmmmm, that storyline sounds a bit familiar!) He needs to inhabit a body to survive, so he takes over a human boy on the verge of death (cancer). He fixes the body and assumes his identity, but isn't able to fool the girlfriend, who can tell her boyfriend while now healed, is not the same. 

I can't say this was a great book, but it was easy and enjoyable and a couple parts even made me laugh out loud. There were some serious and sweet moments too ... it's a book I'll look back on fondly.


At least ONE alien was nice ...

You can read my (more in depth) reviews (and those from others) on GoodReads!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Fitbit Tracking and the Teenager

Ah ... Fitbit Feedback!

I've had a Fitbit for over five years now ... and I'm still addicted and motivated by it's feedback. In the image above, you can see a quick capture of my average summer weekday. I sleep in until about 7:30, then I get in a 20min session on the elliptical. I go to a Zumba class around 9:00 for an hour.  I always try for an hour of elliptical, so there should be two more 20min sessions somewhere in the day, plus whatever other activity I do (bike, walk, etc). Winding down in the evenings. In bed by around 10:00. I'm pretty consistent.

My 17-year old son is leaving on a "pioneer trek" tomorrow. I pulled up his Fitbit account to check the status of his battery (he has the Zip, with a replaceable battery) because I wanted to make sure it was ready to capture his days as he walks and walks and walks. While I had his account up, I just glanced at HIS days ...

 Tuesday, July 19
 Wednesday, July 20

 Thursday, July 21

Other than Tuesday, when he got up to play basketball with his friends fairly early, you can SEE he is a late to bed and LATE to rise boy! With summer in season, he's generally sleeping in until 11:00 in the morning, as he recovers from staying up so late. It's work until 11:30 or so most days, then sometimes some hanging with friends or playing Pokemon Go.  Even with the sleeping in and no official "exercise" ... he is pretty active. He gets enough steps in to stay competitive.

 Other than Mommy, he's got everyone beat this week.

I did have to take a second glance at the Friday stats ...

Friday, July 22

Ummmm.... my child, just WHAT were you doing from 3:30-4:30 in the a.m. to get a green spike like that? He was having a "sleep over" with friends ... and it looks like they were NOT sleeping!  I did ask him for an explanation, and he said "um, dancing?"  Trying to pull an all-nighter and TRYING to stay awake. Hmmm, believable? 

My oldest is on a mission to Mexico right now. He doesn't have access to the internet, so he couldn't sync a Fitbit. He wears a cheap pedometer and writes down the steps and mails them to me. I so WISH a Fitbit worked, so I could SEE his day too. When #2 and #3 were at basketball camp for a week, even when they neglected to check in, their Fitbit's would sync, and I could see (by the spikes) when they had played their games. It made me feel a part of it, even though I wasn't there.

I can't wait to see the steps after trek this week ... there will be no internet access, so I'll have to wait until he gets back on Friday. I'm anticipating a VERY different look to his step graphs for the week. There will be no sleeping in, no staying up late ... and I'm sure NO 3:30 am dancing!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Weekly Weigh-In #156

Ouch! Up this week. Bordering on the 170s, and I SO don't want to go there! It wasn't a great week, but it wasn't bad either ... in fact crunching the numbers, I actually had a (small) deficit for the week! So WHY the gain of almost two pounds? Well, I realize that my numbers are only estimates. Even with calories listed on containers, it's still easy to be off ... especially if you aren't good about measuring portions, which admittedly, I'm not.  Then calories burned ... another crapshoot on estimates. While I've got my gadgets, it's still a bit of a guessing game, isn't it? 

But still ... I collect and compare my NUMBERS: Up 1.8 pounds this week. Average was up too, (.85 to 169.34). Average intake was 2443. Average daily burn was 2890. Ended up with a deficit for the week (-815). Average steps - 23579. 30minWeights, 1022 cardio minutes, 79.68 exercise miles. FOOD: Mint brownies have been a cause of calories this week, in addition to my regular indulgences. Managed to stay under 2000 two days this week. FITNESS: Hit my hour of elliptical all seven days this week. Zumba ... I went to five classes, but didn't do any on my own. Two sessions on the bike, and I squeezed in a weights workout. Numerous walks to the canal! FAMILY: Gathering with extended family for a cousin's birthday, a couple visits to the dentist, a minor Meniere's moment.  Here's a quick look at the day to day ...
  • Friday (0715): Didn't have a Zumba class on deck, so a neighbor and I just did it ourselves at the church (let #4 play basketball). Got in my hour of elliptical, a session on the bike, and a couple walks to the canal to see my duckies. Food fairly high, but still under burn.
  • Saturday (0716): Up early for #5's 8:00 basketball game. Got in my hour of elliptical, walk to the canal, and mowed the lawn. Calories in were high, about the same as yesterday, but lower burn today, so I was over.
  • Sunday (0717): I often have a rest day on Sunday, but I got in an hour of elliptical today, and a walk to the canal. HIGH calories in, although I didn't feel overly full or anything.
  • Monday (0718): Zumba, hour of elliptical and a long canal walk (the duckies were down further). Family birthday party in the evening. Food was high, but under burn.
  • Tuesday (0719): Hour of elliptical, Zumba and walk to the canal. Took the two littles to the dentist, but it was a quick trip (no cavities!). Hubs feeling a bit off in the evening.
  • Wednesday (0720): Hour of elliptical, Zumba, walk to the canal and mowed the front lawn. #3 to the dentist today, for a NOT short visit (2 hours!) and he needs a root canal :(  Did keep calories in check ... I think. Wondering if I forgot something as I wasn't feeling deprived.
  • Thursday (0721): Hour of elliptical, Zumba, a session on the bike, 30min of WEIGHTS and three walks to the canal to see the duckies (they were close, thus the multiple trips). Kept calories in check today, but very aware of the fact!
*** Five Featured Fotos ***

 All my ducks abandoned our backyard. Four of the six have found each other at the canal and I walked to see them every day! (Duck Daze and Walking the Canal). I miss seeing them out my window, but I'm glad I can still visit and check in on them (for now). 

#2 making waffles ... or Sunday Circles as we call then (Belgian waffles, round waffle iron). It's hard to keep calories in check with such a big breakfast, but it sure is yummy!

 At the family party on Monday night, a couple cousins had Fitbits ... so I made them be my Fitbit friend. The picture is actually Bonnie and Candi, it would work for both (Bonnie needs to update her profile picture!) 

Zumba - I could walk on Tuesdays, but I like there to be a car, so people coming can see that someone IS there. Also been reverting to a brain, as my pony hair has been sticking to the sweat on my face!

Caught a Pokemon AND a good workout at Zumba on Thursday ... the stuffed critter is part of a church activity one of the girls is doing (like Flat Stanely the kids to in elementary, see where he ends up, He ended up at Zumba today!).

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

TV Tuesday - Is It The End of the World?

I'm not sure WHY I like post-apocalyptic stuff ... I'm drawn to it in books, movies and television series. Honestly, I don't think I'm much of a fighter and I'd probably go down in the first wave of a disaster. But the action and adventure make for good adrenaline pumping distractions while I work out!

I just finished up seasons 1 and 2 of The Last Ship. This came out a couple years ago, airing on TNT. It looked like something I'd be interested in, but I generally wait until a series has a season or two under it's belt, and I can stream it continuously (no waiting week to week). This never hit Amazon or Netflix, but it was on Hulu. I went ahead and did a trial, and used my PlayOn service to record all the episodes (as it did take me longer than two weeks to watch). 

In this, a virus has spread across the earth wiping out the population. One navy ship had a scientist out in the Arctic looking for a cure, and this series showcases their struggles in the post-apocolyptic world. There was a lot of action and excitement, and it really kept my interest. I generally get in an hour on my elliptical each day, and I was always anxious to hit the gym so I could watch the next episode. 

As I finished season one (10 episodes), I went right on to season two (13 episodes). Season three has some episodes out, but I think I'll wait until the season is complete (I'm currently recording them all from TNT) and then watch them all back to back. I'll miss my "Last Ship" fix now though!

The show I watched right before The Last Ship was Survivors. In this series, a virus has spread across the earth wiping out the population. Hmmmm, sounds familiar (exactly the same as the premise above, but to be fair, this came out years before The Last Ship).  I really should NOT watch such similar series back to back ... although, really this COULD have been happening at the same time/different country. This is a BBC series, set in England, and the majority of survivors here are naturally immune to the virus ( The Last Ship also has "immunes" who are not characters we care about!)  Each "season" was only six episodes long (there were two) ... it really just felt like one "season" as the next episode picked up right where the last had left off. I quite enjoyed this series! It did have enough of a conclusion that I was satisfied (although I don't think when it ended that was meant to be the end, it was cancelled). This was available on Netflix.

Colony was a post-apocalyptic show set in Los Angeles ... airing on USA. I recorded these with PlayOn as they aired (earlier this year) and then watched all the episodes together. Now I do have to wait for season two ... no virus here. It was aliens! It was interesting and exciting. I wonder if it will hit Netflix or Amazon before the second season starts up again? I don't always catch and record new programs as they air, and then you often can't access them (well, you can usually buy them, but I'm cheap).

I've watched a LOT of post-apocalyptic stuff ...
I really liked Jericho! It was interesting, on the DVD, there was an alternate, open ending for if the series had continued (rather than being cancelled after two seasons). Jeremiah was so dark and gritty (a world where all the adults have died leaving only children to fend for themselves) ... while I usually like to watch episodes back to back, get immersed in the "world" a series creates, I actually felt like I needed to take a break from this show, only watching an episode here or there. I'd caught the first season on DVD borrowed from my library, and the second was available on Amazon Prime. I LOVED Flash Forward. Absolutely intrigued by the idea behind it (at one moment, everyone on earth blacks out for a minute, and has a vision of a themselves at a certain point in the future). I've already talked about Revolution here on the blog, and Falling Skies and Wayward Pines ... so many different ways for the world to end, aren't there? And of course ZOMBIES ... ala The Walking Dead!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Duck Daze and Walking the Canal

If you've been following my blog, you are probably aware that we've been dealing with duckies for the past few months. Back in April I posted (Distracted by Duckies) about the wild pair that had been visiting. We were also incubating eggs ... only one hatched, but we adopted five more from a breeder for our own little brood.  Although we never saw momma nest, one morning she had 13 little fluffballs by her side! For a while there, we had 20 ducks in the backyard!

Our six

It was quite an adventure! Momma and her babies stuck around for a couple of weeks, then they made their way to the nearby canal. The boys and I went for a few walks, and were happy to see that they had made it there safely. I thought I'd walk the canal more, watching for them ... but as I still had six ducks right in my own backyard, I didn't make the trek much.

Our duckies got big so fast! It wasn't long before they were testing out their flight feathers. A couple of times, they accidentally flew over the fence into the neighbor's yard. We were hosting a family party last Sunday, and the little cousins loved seeing the ducks. It was good we didn't put that party off because one week later ... all six ducks have flown the coop.

Monday morning, I went out to give them their breakfast and ... there were only four. I took a walk to the canal that morning and the next, but no black duckies in sight. Wednesday, on the way home from Zumba, as I was driving across the canal, I caught a glimpse of a black head. I parked, and checked it out and sure enough ... Antonia had made it to the canal! 

Thursday morning ... two more duckies were gone. Our Uno (egg hatched) being one of them. I took a walk to the canal and found Antonia again, but no sign of the others. I did another walk later in the day and found Uno and Antonia together! By the next day, our remaining two were also at the canal, happily with Uno and Antonia. Four together at least. 

 Ally, Jorge, Antonia and Uno ... in the wild

While walking with #4, we came across a big group of ducks ... a momma and 12 or so. Could they be the little family that stayed with us? Had they all survived? They were the right size, just a couple weeks younger than ours.  They took off as we approached, but they looked happy and healthy!

I've taken a LOT of walks on the canal these past few days. Sometimes with a kid or hubby, often just alone. Gotta check on my duckies ... as they adjust to life in the wild, I'm still bringing them some breakfast and treats to help with hunger as they forage. Other than the first few weeks at our home, they weren't penned up, but just free-ranged in the backyard, slept outside ... so it's probably not that different for them. The canal is a pretty duck-friendly place, and there are quite a few wild ones there every year too.

Mmmmm ... watermelon! Just a little "did you know" fact here ... did you know that bread is bad for ducks? It fills up their tummies but doesn't really give them any nutrition. We had a special waterfowl feed (most places just sell chick feed for ducks, but it doesn't have enough Niacin, which did affect our Ally, we almost lost her!) and you can supplement with other things. Our duckies loved lettuce, watermelon, bananas, grapes, tomatoes ... and of course meal worms!

The worst thing about walking the canal? Goatheads! Those sticker thorns are awful! I generally wear my little crock-type sandals when I go out and about, but they are old and worn thin ... and attempting to walk the canal once in those? I might as well have been barefoot! I have sandals with a thicker sole, and I did wear them a couple times. Then I tried some slip ons ... thin soled, and I think one walk killed them! I finally switched to sneakers (just in case you're wondering what's wrong with me ... I HATE shoes/sneakers and only wear them when necessary. Here, it is necessary). I've even pulled out my hiking boots and used those the last couple of times. They still get the thorns stuck in them, but I think they protect my feet, and survive, the best.

Each walk takes at least 30 minutes, and is about a mile. From our house to the mouth of the canal is about a quarter mile. Then our birds have settled about a quarter mile down the canal road. Certainly not as easy as just stepping out into the backyard to see our birds, but if they want to be wild, I guess we need to set them free. I wonder if they'll come back "home" again? We've always wondered if Momma duck was our female who flew away last year. We've lived here 20 years and never had a duck nest in our yard before, then the year after a couple fly away ... we do.  I'll always wonder. I wish we could tag and track them with GPS or something, it sure would be interesting to see where they go, and if they come back ... as our black ones are distinctive from the normal mallard coloring (they are a black mutation), we can tell them apart. 

I'm really sad when I look at our empty backyard now ... I miss seeing my duckies out my window every hour of the day. If I want to catch a glimpse of my duckies now, I have to take a walk and hope that they will be there.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Weekly Weigh-In #155

Stayed pretty steady this week ... a little bump up with the weekend, which had increased food and decreased fitness. Sat/Sun anyway, I actually was very active Friday, but ate a lot too. NUMBERS: Weight only changed .1 for the official weigh-in, but the average was up .78 (168.49).  Intake average for the week was 2514, burn average was 2991. Did have a deficit, though small (-728). Step average was 25498. 80min weights, 1069 cardio minutes, 80.65 exercise miles.  FOOD: Swig cookies! Can't stop eating them! Only one day where I was able to keep calories at goal (2000 or under).  FITNESS: Only hit my hour of elliptical four days this week. Eight hours of Zumba. Two sessions on the bike and quite a few extra walks this week! Hit weights twice. FAMILY: Had a party with my side on Sunday. Two trips to the lake with the waverunners.  Here's a quick daily recap ...

  • Friday (0708): Pretty fab fitness for a Friday! Got in my hour of elliptical, bike, WEIGHTS, and in addition to a Zumba class in the morning, I hit a Zumbathon in the evening for an hour. Unfortunately eating was also uber high.
  • Saturday (0709): Started the day with a Zumba class. Hubs and the boys took the waverunners to the beach ... I'm just not a beach gal. I'll try to hit it once his summer, but wasn't feeling it today. Only 30min of elliptical. Feeling yesterday's weight workout today. Did mow the lawn. Too much snacking though, high calories.
  • Sunday (0710): No official exercise, but kept busy prepping the house for family coming over in the early evening. Little nieces enjoyed the duckies, but were more enamored of the kitties!
  • Monday (0711): Good fitness day ... okay for food. Got in Zumba with Southziders, and another hour on my own (with the boys and friends enjoying the gym too). Hour of elliptical, plus a session on the bike. A walk to the canal too, as two duckies flew the coop ...
  • Tuesday (0712):  Hour of elliptical, Zumba class, then an hour on my own. Also did a wimpy weights session (just 20min). Dominos dinner. Hubs and the older boys hit the lake (as #2 hadn't been able to on Saturday).
  • Wednesday (0713): Full house at MZL Zumba today! Some shopping steps after, then a quick walk at the canal, as I saw a black duckie there. It was Antonia! Only 40min elliptical today, I was just dragging, especially into the evening. Made chicken pillows for dinner.
  • Thursday (0714): Two more duckies down ... funny how they leave in pairs. Three long walks to the canal today (but happy to find Antonia and Uno together). I was in charge at Mountain View Zumba today, so I got good stats. Hour of elliptical as well. 
*** Five Photos From the Week ***

 Swig Cookies ... they call my name (and I answer!)

Lake time ... Saturday AND Tuesday!

Introducing the ducks to the little cousins on Sunday. 
Glad they stuck around for the party ... four flew off this week!

My daily thoughts calendar.
Just WHAT are you insinuating about my kitties Mr Keillor??

 #3 had checked out prices and talked his brothers (and mom) into contributing to the purchase of a Wii U (which we had been discussing for a while). We found a used one on Ebay and pulled the trigger. It was delivered in error to someone to the South of us ... happily they were honest individuals, and even took the time to bring it to the correct addresses (what up USPS??) There has been much laughter and screaming from the basement this week. Quite the week for video games (as I posted about Pokemon Go a bit earlier).

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Recent Reads - Firelight Trilogy

Trilogies are nothing new, but this last decade or so, it seems it's harder to find a stand-alone book than one with sequels. I've been reading a lot lately ... a lot of "first" books in a series, and I'm finding I'm just not that compelled to continue with many of them. You can see all my recent reads here (or on my GoodReads page). Just a quick spotlight on some ...
  • Whispers in Autumn - It was interesting, and if the sequels were available for free (as this first book was) I would probably go on, but if I have to PAY for them ...
  • Nightsky - I could pick up the sequel "Wild Sky" from the library, but it's not at the top of my list, and I believe there may be more coming (not completed yet).
  • Living Violet - There are three in the series, but my library only has book 2.
  • Inception and Abandon ... I JUST read these books a couple weeks ago and already I can't remember what happened in either. That doesn't bode well for me attempting a sequel!
  • Mindspeak - This had great reviews, but I had to push myself to finish book 1, with no desire to continue.
  • Dark Eden - This was interesting, and it has a second book, although I can't quite imagine it picking up after this first installment. It would be a very different story!
Solace doesn't have a sequel per say ... there is a second, related book, and I would be interested in it, but it's not at my library, dang it.  

Then there was the Firelight series ...

Now to be honest, this wasn't a "I loved this series" trilogy ... in fact, as I finished the first book, I didn't immediately go on to book two (even though it was a cliffhanger ending).  After reading a few so-so books, I decided to go back to this one. I had liked it, and  books 2 and 3 were at my library, and available for immediate download. These aren't that long (around 300 pages each) and unlike some of the other recent reads which dragged ... I'd start this and then wham, I was done! Some books are just quick and easy to read, but it's also indicative of my enjoyment.

Dragons have been personified in many a story, but this was the first I've read in which they actually ARE also existing in human-like form, able to manifest between the two types of bodies. These draki live in prides, up in the mountains in their own little community, each individual having a special ability. Jacinda, our protagonist, is a fire-breather. 

There are issues within the clan, and attacks by hunters from outside ... plenty of conflict. There is some romance. Throughout the three books, there were some twists I didn't see coming, while in other areas it did feel formulaic ... but overall, enjoyable. 

Looking at a trilogy (or series) in it's completion ... I really like the covers to be consistent. No real complaint here, except that book #2 ... well, that's NOT the same girl (it's her twin) and while Tamara is also integral to the story, I think having Jacinda, (the red-head) front and center would have been more representative of the series. Just my opinion. :)

What have YOU been reading recently? 
Do you feel compelled to finish a book you aren't enjoying? 
Do you like reading books in a series?

Monday, July 11, 2016

On the (Pokemon) Go

Several years ago, Pokemon came out with a little pedometer that went with one of it's games ... but that didn't get people moving that way the newly released Pokemon Go app has! This game is the latest craze and it's taking the world by storm!

With five boys, we've been a Pokemon family for years. I've watched the cartoons, I know the songs, we have a gazillion cards, action figures and stuffed critters. We have all the gameboy games, and their guidebooks. As the boys got older and their interest faded, most of the Pokemon got packed away in a rubbermaid tote. I've pulled it out a few times when family has visited, as my young nephews have just discovered the critters.

But a few days ago ... Pokemon Go was released in the U.S. My 17-year (and all his friends) set up trainer accounts and started catching Pokemon. He's gone a bit Pokemon crazy! Of course, my younger son (#4) was interested, so I set up an account on the family phone (as he only has an ipod, and you need cell service for the GPS to work on the go) for him to use. He's a bit of a homebody like me, so often when Dad would head out here or there, he wouldn't want to go ... I'm thinking that may change now!  Not that this particular child needs any exercise incentive (his Fitbit does that, he gets in plenty of steps!) this might help get him out of the house.

On a completely irrelevant side note, we've been raising ducks this year. Our mallard (hatched from an egg) and then an adopted brood of black-mallard mutations, to keep him company. This past week, the ducks have been testing out their flight feathers. Flying across the yard ... a couple of times into the neighbors (but then back into our backyard). This morning, two of them were gone, gone. We have a canal fairly close by, so I asked #4 if he wanted to take a walk (just to see if that's where they ended up ... they should be capable of surviving in the wild, I'd just love to still keep an eye on them). 

While I was looking for actual creatures (our duckies) on our walk ... my son had the phone, looking for imaginary ones. It is interesting to see how they have re-created the actual environment. You can see the sidewalks, cartoon style there on the phone. In the bottom corner, it will show if there are any wild Pokemon around. One footprint means they are quite close, two ... a little further, three footprints, further still. It's a little like the hot/cold game. You're getting closer ... or not. Then, if there is one right in front of you, throw a pokeball and attempt to catch it and add it to your collection!

I guess various public places (parks, stores, churches) are "Poke-Stops" or "Gyms" and by visiting these locations you can get goodies, battle your Pokemon, and more. My 17-year old said the nearby shopping center is filled with fun places (and that is where he and his friends have been hanging out after work). I'm sure some stores love the app, as it brings people in. Others ... not so crazy about it. I read about a police station, listed as a poke-stop now has a sign up saying "you do NOT have to come inside to earn Poke-Go points, please check in from outside" or something like that!

There have been negative situations hit the news ... a child tracking a Pokemon, stumbling upon a dead body. Kids paying too much attention to their phone, so they stumble and are injured in the real world. Thieves waiting for unsuspecting Pokemon fans in secluded spots. People who think kids are already paying too much attention to their phones instead of the world around them.

On the other hand, it's receiving praise for getting gamers off the couch and moving. In addition to going around to different spots, players have to walk to get their eggs to hatch (this is tracked via GPS, not a pedometer, so a treadmill won't work). The GPS can tell when people are in the car (moving at a faster speed) so that doesn't count toward egg activity, and hopefully the game doesn't work while driving (a car accident caused by the game has already made the news though). 

Today, as I left Zumba class (held at a local church building), there was a teen-aged boy on a hoverboard, phone in hand ... I didn't ask, but I'm sure he was checking in with his Pokemon Go. As I backed out and went to leave the lot, another car full of teens ... on phones, pulled up to the church. Pokemon Go!  

Who knows ... maybe my 12-year old will want to come to Zumba with me, just to check in at the church. We'll see. While my kids haven't expressed an interest in their old cards and figures, they HAVE pulled out the old gameboy games and guidebooks. It's a complete Poke-comback!

 I even earned 25 points for answering this survey from Achievemint ... and I actually earned enough points to hit my reward again! Redeemed, and a $10 Amazon Gift Card for me!
( see my Achievemint Update ... Update for details on this program).

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Weekly Weigh-In #154

Well, the week started off awful, with uber-eating Fri/Sat/Sun ... it was the July 4th holiday weekend. Monday was the actual holiday, but I did okay that day and had a decent drop in weight ... I was pretty good for the rest of the week and hoped to hold that little little loss (not to where I had been on Friday, but enough to give me hope I could get there againe), but there wereslight scale shifts UPwards, even with oodles of activity ...

NUMBERS: Official weight up 1.5 pounds. Average weight up just a bit, .27, to 167.71. Average intake was 2557, average daily burn 3024 ... I did have a deficit  (-1156). Average step count was 25087. 80minWeights, 1067 cardio minutes, 86.47 exercise miles. FOOD: Over 3000 calorie days over the weekend, ouch! Only one day keeping calories under 2000. FITNESS: Four days with a 3000+ burn, all four days also over 30k in steps. I got in my hour of elliptical five days. 10 hours of Zumba, two sessions on the bike, one on the treadmill, and two sessions with weights.  FAMILY: 

  • Friday (0701): Hour of elliptical and Zumba with MZL. Some eating out in addition to the usual empty calories pushed intake way over.
  • Saturday (0702): Got up early to hit HeatherH's 8:00 Zumba class and was feeling energy after, so I did the weight workout I didn't do Friday.  Only 20min on the elliptical. Craving and caving to sugary sweets, and Hubs made ribs in the evening for dinner.
  • Sunday (0703): Had our usual Sunday Circles breakfast, and a trip to Rodizio for dinner ... plus I made homemade oreos for dessert. Uber over on calories. 40min on the elliptical the only exercise.
  • Monday (0704): Holiday! I hit an 8:00 Zumba class with HeatherB. #4 surprised me by saying he wanted to hit the church gym, so we did that.  I still got my hour of elliptical, and a session on the bike as well. Family party in the early evening.
  • Tuesday (0705): Zumba at the church (parking lot under construction today), and then I stayed after with a friend and did an extra hour practice. At home, got in my hour of elliptical, bike and weights. Computer troubles, and Hubs had a Menerie's attack :(
  • Wednesday (0706): Slightly slower day today ... went out to Draper for Zumba, as I didn't get my fix on Monday. Stopped at Walmart on the way home. Got in my extra hour of Zumba and hour of elliptical.
  • Thursday (0707): Early (8:00) Zumba class, trying a new one as my usual was taking the week off. Also got in my hour of elliptical, extra hour of Zumba, and did some treadmill time! In the evening, Hubs took the two littles to a summer NBA game, and I did some serious housecleaning.

*** Five Photos From the Week***

 Family Dinner at Rodizio

Aunt Ana with an armful of kittens at the family party.

Two hour Tuesday ... (the second hour was low-key practice/review).

 Me and T

On the elliptical ... in my pink fuzzy slippers!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Thrifty Thursday - MCR

Do you participate in the My Coke Rewards program? I know ... Coke (soda) isn't nutritious so all you healthy people out there don't have any in your homes, right? To tell the truth... I have NEVER had a Coke (or Pepsi, or Dr. Pepper or Mountain Dew) myself. No, it's not any anti-caffeine thing or  anti-soda thing (I have had rootbeer, Sprite and Fresca).  I'm just really picky and I don't think I'd like the taste, and I don't want to drink my calories (Liquid Calories). 

Hubs and the boys though ... between their likes (Coke, Dasani, Powerade, etc) we do have quite a few Coke products purchased. On the packages, there are numbers/letters that can be input for points. These points can then compile and and be redeemed for rewards. My Coke Rewards

Now admittedly ... it's pretty slow going. A Powerade cap gets you a whopping 3 points. Same for a 2-liter bottle of soda. A 12-pack of soda cans will earn 10 points. You can get a little more for a 24-pack of water. 

Honestly, at first, I didn't think it would be worth it. Reading and inputting those numbers can be a pain. Recently, Coke made it so you can link your phone, and then text in the numbers. Now that is NOT easier for me and my fingers ... but it's a snap for the kids. I linked the family cell phone to our account and told the kids if they finish off a Powerade, they need to text in the number from the cap. If I have additional numbers from other packages, I'll toss them (and the phone) to the kids and they'll get it done. They think it's rather fun.

You can just keep piling up your points until you have enough to actually DO something with them. A word of warning, if you just let the account sit with no activity (no new codes entered) it will zero out after a time (Coke will send you a reminder email to take action so you don't lose your points). I always seemed to have some caps/cardboard stashed (awaiting redemption but hadn't gotten around to it. Just enter one and you're reset for quite a while). 

Right now, I've told the kids we're working toward a Nike giftcard. It takes 710 points to get it (and it's just $10), but I remember once when there were some sales/specials on rewards and I got a $25 Nike giftcard with my points on hand. 

So just throwing it out there ... if you are consuming coke products, you may want to go ahead and enter those little numbers and pile up some points and see what you can get ... eventually! Or, you can be a good Samaritan and use your points for donations (also available there on MCR). 

Hubs was pretty diet coke crazy for a long time there. Unfortunately, with his Meniere's attacks coming on so strong, one recommendation is to give up/cut back on caffeine. He's also seemed to notice a correlation between diet drinks and his well-being. So ... I won't be buying any more  Diet Coke in the near future.
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