Sunday, November 20, 2016


I know I haven't posted in a long time, but a lot has been happening with family life, and I've been so busy with the marathon training. On the bright side, my running has paid off, and I am now back in my pre-pregnancy jeans (even if my hips are still an inch or two wider than they used to be). The baby boy has gotten really needy lately and stopped taking bottles, so it looked like I was going to have to take a hiatus from dance. But fortunately, I'm in a really easy-going adult class, and my teacher let me bring him with me. My husband would participate in the warm-up and ceili dancing, then he'd watch the baby while I did solo steps. If the little one got fussy and needed a snack, I'd take a break and tend to him. This went on for about a month or so. Here I was lamenting how relaxed my class was, and then I ended up being the high maintenance one needing special accommodations. My classmates and teacher even helped watch the baby so I could compete in a local feis. I guess it is just not the right timing of my life for me to be in a hard-core class.

The post's title has a second meaning, too. I keep getting timing comments for my dances. I feel like, as an adult prizewinner, I should be past timing errors. I know it is sometimes a matter of stamina issues, or I get off on my hornpipe because I haven't rebuilt my ab muscles enough for snappy clicks, but I don't know what is going on with my reel. I think that is what makes me the most depressed...I actually feel like I did my reel well, only to not place because of "timing." Have I really gotten that bad? There's a voice in my head that tells me I may never achieve my goal of dropping down and dancing in "and-over" prizewinner. Maybe I'm just too old. But then I think, maybe it is just the timing of my life. If I could drill steps at home without a child either being under foot, or crying because I put him in the playpen, maybe I would improve. I guess it is silly to expect better results when I am not putting the work in at home. Maybe I just need to take a break from feising until I can devote more time to dance. On the bright side, at least I got 3rd out of 6 in treble jig, and I have a pretty challenging second step. I will try to remind myself that is my best result all year and stay positive about improvements. It's hard to, though, when you see your dance goals slipping further and further away.

Some of the family stuff that happened while I was away from blogging made me realize just how lucky I am to have my family. I am so blessed to have my baby, even if it means I'm not the dancer I once was. While I remain truly grateful for my son, and I know I would give anything to protect him, I don't want to completely throw away personal goals now that I am a mommy. I feel like that might tempt me to put pressure on him to have success in areas where I failed. I don't want to just live vicariously through him. So I'm going to keep things in perspective, and tell myself it is just the timing of my life. Right now I get to enjoy being a mommy to a baby. He won't be a baby forever, and maybe then I can come back to my dance goals.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Shifting Goals

Well, I did it. I signed up for a marathon in January. Since I don't have much spare cash, this was a big investment, so barring injury, I am committed to doing this. All my spare funds will go towards race registration and travel (no Oireachtas this year). Good thing I just sold some video games at Game Stop and dropped off some stuff at FedEx for eBay Valet. I need to post a couple of other eBay items, too. I have already started running with one of the other mommies in a mommy group I go to. I just need to make sure I don't overtrain and I stave off tendonitis. I am still dancing, I just knew I couldn't devote the time, nor was the class structured, toward reaching my dance goals this year. I will still go to class once a week, but this year, it will be all about overall fitness. I need to get back into the shape I was in so that I can reach my fitness goals (to include dance goals). It's a rebuilding year. I will kick off 2017 with a marathon, and then who knows what else 2017 will bring. Oireachtas? Another move to another state and a different dance school? My best ever running times? At least I will be fit and ready for whatever.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Not Quite Good Enough

I guess I have been avoiding writing this post because I have such mixed feelings about my recent performances. I did a feis in a very difficult U35 category, and initially, I felt honored to get some 4th and 5th place ribbons. Even though there were some ties, so those placements represented either last or tied for last, I figured the judges wouldn't place everyone if we weren't worthy of the placements. Then when the results came out online, I noticed I hadn't really placed...I guess they just had some extra ribbons to hand out. At least I got 6th out of 7 in my reel. Not last. Yay!

In some ways, I still have that voice inside my head saying, "How can you drop down if you can't hang with 20-somethings?" However, 3 of my competitors had been open champs as teens. Even after the required 5 or more years off from competition, they still had VERY good form. I keep telling myself that if I was competing against other prizewinners, rather than champs, I would stand a better chance. But the class I am in right now is more fun and performance-focused, so I guess next year I will focus on placing top 3 in every dance in the O35 category. Nothing makes you feel old like overhearing one of your competitors say, "I hope I'm still dancing when I'm 35!" when you just turned 35 a few months ago. On the bright side, one of them invited me to attend another feis in their region, saying "We need more young adult dancers!" I said, "Thanks for the complement, but I will be O35 next year :) " Everyone was so super-nice, I was overall just thankful to be among such excellent competition and not look completely out of place. The only reason I am bummed is because of dual categories for adults. If I wouldn't have to worry about "proving" myself in an out-of-region adult competition so I can someday drop down and compete toward making PC, I wouldn't mind placing last or next to last against such supremely talented dancers.

The following week, I ran a 2 mile race. I didn't have high hopes for my time, based on training runs,  but when I crossed the 1 mile point in 8:15, I set a goal to finish under 17 minutes, which I did, coming in at 16:58. I was, for the most part, pleased. I sort of wished that I had run 14 seconds faster to match my last year's time when I was 3 months pregnant. (For perspective, before I got pregnant, I ran a 14:35 and my lifetime best is 13:40.) However, when the results came out online, I saw that if I had run my last year's time, I would have gotten 3rd in my age group :( so I gave myself a hard time about it.

Now it is becoming clear that between not enough time to practice at home, a different focus in class, family responsibilities, and travel costs, Oireachtas traditional set may not be a good idea. However, inspired by the Olympic athletes, I am considering running another marathon. I thought I'd never do that again, outside of maybe a mid-life crisis or something (hopefully I'm not there already!), so we will see what happens.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Jogging Stroller Time!

I hadn't blogged in a while because I was staying with my parents for several days while my husband was doing some military training out of state. My mom's scale is apparently calibrated differently than mine, because I ate a bunch of junk food and it still looked like I lost a couple of pounds, 'til I got home to my scale. Ugh. Oh well, I guess I am still holding steady, weight-wise.

We got the approval from our pediatrician to jog with the little boy in the jogging stroller now. I feel like I have a new-found freedom to be me. I tested it out for 2/3 of a mile today. He was fine, but I was lamenting the lack of support in the nursing "sports" bra.

Last week, I felt so out of energy at dance class. Maybe it was because the little boy temporarily stopped sleeping through the night. He is mostly better now, though some mornings he wakes up around 5:30 or 5:45 am (just slightly before my husband's alarm clock goes off). Guess the little guy needed some extra feedings for brain food so he could learn to crawl :) He is now crawling a few steps, and eating some food other than just breast milk, so that should make it easier on me.

We decided I would do treble jig this weekend. I haven't practiced near enough, and with the caliber of competition, I need to be prepared that this could be the first time I come home completely empty-handed from a feis. We'll see if I can fit some practice time in this week, but we've got a lot going on right now.

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Looks like I might be able to do adult traditional set at Oireachtas this year! I just have to make sure we don't have any family conflicts, but I have been waiting for years for this, so I am super-excited. I hope to be able to do Blackbird, but we're still working on that. I felt like I got some more work accomplished on my treble jig this week, and overall, class was a great workout tonight. Between the good Oireachtas news, and the positive exercise endorphins, class once again made me happy :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Though I really want to be able to run like I used to (and I am bummed that I am not going to be in shape to place in a 2 mile competition near my parents' home this year), the post-pregnancy bladder woes have me worried that I will never be the same runner again. I'm curious about racewalking, though. I dabbled in it in AAU in high school, but never really got the form down. It seems to really work the shins and other areas important to Irish dance, and it wouldn't be as high of impact. I wonder how I would get the correct form, and what races would distinguish between racewalk and other walk/jog/run competitors (I always do better when I have competition). In other news, I've lost a pound, and dance night is tomorrow, so perhaps I will post again soon. 'Til then, have a good week!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Can Dance Class Be Too "Fun"?

I really like my teacher, I really like my classmates, and we have a lot of fun, in class, at performances, and at parties. But sometimes, I guess I wish class was more hard-core, now that I am starting to feel more like my old self. It is hard when there are so many different levels in one class. Still, it's hard to not feel frustrated when your toughest feis of the year is less than a month away, and really you only got a couple of run-throughs in soft shoe because most of the time was spent learning a different step. At least if I ever do one of the adult champ specials, I will have a third reel step, and I kept telling myself that doing an easier step was a perfect time to work on issues with form, such as not squeezing my toe points enough, not crossing enough, and not having "tall knees." So it's not like it was a waste of time, but still, I am getting nervous about the feis. At least we worked on treble jig for hard shoe. I'm starting to miss the repetitive drilling of steps, in a class where nearly everyone does the same step, or a slight variation of the same step. My classmates and teacher are so great, I wouldn't want to go anywhere else, yet I lament that I may not achieve all my dance goals this year. Oh well, I guess there are always trade-offs.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Wishing I Was at Dance Camp

Some of my adult Irish dance friends are off at Camp Rince Ceol, and I am so wishing I could someday attend. Last year, I had just started a new job, so I couldn't get off work. This year, I've got a five month old who I've never left for one overnight, let alone a whole week. So I think to myself, maybe next year I can go. Little boy will be 1 1/2, and my parents would love to have him for a week at Grandma and Grandpa's. But we will probably be moving again next year, so I don't know if it would make sense to go to CRC with steps from my current school in July, only to switch schools and learn new steps in September. Maybe we will have already moved by then. We think we are at this duty station for 2 years, but my husband was saying that we could have to move earlier. It's happened before. I've already started researching schools in some of the areas we might end up in. One place has no Irish dance schools, one has a few different options (including one school taught by a former adult dancer), and another area has several schools, but bad traffic, so I'm not sure what school would actually work out. Where I live now has bad traffic, so location and class time were major factors in my school decision (although my current school was so accommodating over the whole pregnancy/postpartum period, I am just so thankful I ended up there). Maybe it is too soon to worry about it, but I like to have a plan. Unfortunately, military wives don't always have the luxury of being able to plan ahead. So since I don't know where I will be next Oireachtas season, I am really hoping to get to do traditional set this year. Hopefully I will get to talk to my teacher about it tomorrow. We've also got some family stuff going on right after Oireachtas, so it might not work out anyways, or we may have to fly there to reduce travel time, which is more expensive and I haven't flown with the baby yet. At least I am selling some stuff on eBay to help make some money for dance-related expenses. Also, I learned that by entering my weight and other fitness stuff on the Walgreens site, I can earn points, which can end up saving me money. I jogged tonight, and my 1.5 mile time is about what my 2 mile time should be. Hopefully I will get there soon. Tomorrow is dance class, so hopefully I will have more of an update and fewer worries on my mind.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Better Batters

The "batters" in the title refer to trebles (the first school I attended called them batters, and I just wanted an alliterative title for the post). We worked on treble jig in class tonight, and I feel better about it. My fast trebles and slow trebles are becoming more distinct from one another, and I pretty much have it with music, IF someone else is dancing with me or someone is pushing me to stay on tempo. Still hoping it will be feis-ready in about a month. Class ended with some planking. If that won't get my waist back in my pre-pregnancy size, I don't know what will. I've lost another pound, so I am now back in clothes that I wore when I was 4 months pregnant. Five months after giving birth, I am the size I was five months prior to giving birth. This is a short update tonight, but dance class makes me smile, and I just wanted to share about my treble jig improvements. Happy 4th of July weekend to everyone!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Speed Bumps on the Road to Success

My last feis didn't go as well as I'd hoped. 4th out of 4 in reel, no placement in slip jig (later found out I was 5th out of 5), 2nd out of 2 in hornpipe, and 3rd out of 4 in traditional set. I am trying to see it as a learning experience. I can either let my failures get me down, or I can overcome them. I even put my last-place medal (for 2nd out of 2 in hornpipe) on my keychain, to remind me of this feis, and to remind me of the nice dancers, dance parents, and teachers I talked to that day. Winning isn't everything, and while it feels terrible to fail, I guess I have to learn how to. A lot of times, when things get hard, I want to give up and move on to another activity, so this feis was actually a good lesson in how to keep going. Sure, there is a part of me that wants to be mopey and think about how I got my butt kicked in the adult category, so I will never make it in the "and-overs." But the other day on the American Ninja Warrior television show, there was a 50-something year old (or as he said "years young") man who said he trains like a 20 year old. Well, I felt like I used to train like a 20 year old, but this guy gave me hope that I can get back there again. Even if it takes a couple of years to bounce back from pregnancy and childbirth. This is going to take longer than I thought, but I will persevere. Now, to prepare for the feis in August and create some realistic goals for what is often my toughest feis of the year (even on years when I am in better shape).

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Feis Recap and More

I'll start out with the non-feis news... I lost a couple pounds and am now no longer "overweight" on the BMI chart! I'm still heavier than I've ever been, aside from during pregnancy, but I am making progress. Plus, my jogging time is getting faster. Still much slower than where I was pre-pregnancy, but I cut about a minute off my two-mile time in the past week.

The feis turned out to be exactly what it was supposed to be...a chance to get up on stage and get the jitters out, to get back in the game prior to feising on what used to be my home turf. The day began with a 1st (out of 2) in reel, so that was a nice confidence builder, even though I was quite nervous and was looking down a lot to make sure I didn't run out of room on the stage (I heard someone say the stages actually were too narrow, but I still need to practice not moving so much in some of my steps). Then there was a fire alarm prior to slip jig, so that threw off my confidence! I can't imagine what it would have been like to been one of the dancers on stage at the time. I got second out of two on slip jig and hornpipe, which was kind of a bummer, but I didn't totally mess up and forget anything, so now that I know I can do the dances, I can work on making them better. I even missed a click in hornpipe and kicked my foot, but didn't really mess up the rhythm, so that was a big relief. I can do this. I can be ready for the next feis (even if it will be another feis without treble jig).

When I went to pick up my awards, I was surprised to get a trophy for 2nd place out of 3 in traditional set. The pre-pregnancy me would have felt silly for getting a trophy for beating one person, but now I have a little more perspective and wisdom. On that day, the trophy represented getting back up there, less than 4 and a half months after giving birth. It represented all the effort I made to keep dancing, to get feis-ready, and take a chance and compete, even if I didn't feel like I was back to my usual self yet. It was a victory over extra pounds, milk-filled boobs, constant bathroom breaks, and not much practice time. Most of all, it re-energized me. I may not be back to where I was, but I'm on my way. My best is yet to come!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Feis-Ready or Not, Here I Come!

Tonight was the last class before my first feis back. I think I may actually get through St. Patrick's Day traditional set without messing up. My reel is pretty good, though I need to work on stamina, and my slip jig is alright, as long as I lock into the tempo and don't get my feet tangled on 2nd step left foot's twisty part. Hornpipe is better...practicing helped, and my teacher helped me fix one part that was causing me to get behind in 2nd step. It might not be my best, but I will make it through. I haven't been this nervous since my first feis a little over 5 years ago. But, just like that feis, it will be a small competition (2 or 3 people). Sure, I will be disappointed if I get last, especially if it happens in every dance, but at this point, I guess it is just a victory to come back from pregnancy and childbirth and feis again. Plus, we have a fun little mini-vacation planned for after the feis.

Tomorrow I will need to pack. As if a feis trip didn't require enough stuff already, I have all of the baby's stuff to bring, too. At least I get to pack my new "Lucky You" pattern Vera Bradley gym bag with all my feis stuff. I just got the bag for Christmas, so it will be the first time I use it, and hopefully it will bring me good luck!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Little Changes

I haven't blogged in a while because I've felt like there's nothing really blog-worthy to write about. I missed dance class last week because my brother-in-law's family and my mother-in-law were in town, so we've been eating out a lot, and I haven't ran since I came home from my trip to my brother's wedding. However, I'm beginning to notice maybe it is just little changes that I need to make at first, and accept that my life with baby is different than my life used to be. First, when it comes to getting chores done, I think I need to accept that I will get nothing done. Then, when I slice vegetables for supper, do a load of laundry (but don't have time to fold it), or run the dishwasher, I can feel like I accomplished something. How does this relate to fitness? Well, I was trying to do some moves that I remembered from an old workout DVD in between folding towels and baby clothes. Not much, but at least it worked my abs a little. Plus, I've joined a weekly walking group with other moms from the breastfeeding support group. Pushing a stroller up a hill in the southern heat is a pretty good workout after all. Also, I have been doing a little practice of Irish dance in the afternoons and evenings. Just 15 minutes or so at a time, mainly just working on the rhythms to the music. I need to drill a click sequence in hornpipe (I'm just not fast enough), but I don't really have the space. I guess I need to copy the music to an iPod (I'm old-school and use a CD in a boombox) and go to one of the apartment complex's common areas. I think it is my lack of ab strength that is causing issues, so I need to drill a lot of clicking to get back to where I was. Finally, I've switched from Frosted Mini-Wheats (and other semi-healthy, somewhat sweet) cold cereals to measuring out 1 serving of unsweetened oatmeal in the mornings, which I jazz up with cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin pie spice. I've been trying to cut back on sweetened beverages too, though I can't go cold turkey. We'll see if these small changes help me lose some of these pregnancy pounds and get back to feeling more like myself.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Stubborn Like His Mama

My son's new favorite thing to do, now that he can roll over, is try to crawl. His core muscles aren't strong enough yet, but he keeps struggling to crawl until he either throws up or cries in frustration. He's definitely stubborn like his mama.

Dance last night was an exercise in frustration. I should be happy I was able to go- my husband had a conference call and we were crossing our fingers that the little boy wouldn't act up while I was gone. Luckily, yesterday was a good day for him, and my husband felt he could juggle both baby and conference call while I was gone. Reel was okay- I just lack confidence and need to work on some details on left foot. Slip jig didn't go as well as I had hoped...sure, I can muddle through, but it seems like when I do both steps, I sacrifice one to do better at the other. Still a couple weeks 'til I feis, so hopefully I can resolve those issues. St. Patrick's Day was okay, and we started learning Blackbird. Yay! I want to eventually take grade exam 6, which Blackbird is a part of, and I would love to do it at Oireachtas, so at least I am making progress on those goals. The rest of hard shoe was a nightmare. Hornpipe makes me want to cry, but then again we only worked on it for 15 minutes. My teacher thinks I should be able to get it by feis time. We didn't do treble jig at all. I need to practice at home, but it is so hard to find time and space. I miss having an hour and a half of hard shoe each week. Also, I hope I am not getting annoying to my less-competitive classmates. Maybe that's just my anxiety speaking, especially since I go to new mom groups on Thursday mornings, so I am socio-emotionally drained by Thursday nights, since I am such an introvert. Sometimes I wish I could be content to just dance for fun, but I have more fun when I am doing my best, and I know I am not at my best yet. Trying not to get too frustrated. I know it will take time to get back in shape, but I am too stubborn and want to be back at pre-pregnancy fitness ASAP. Patience is a virtue I just don't have :(

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Ups and Downs

So here's a quick recap of the past couple weeks. We were traveling to visit friends and family, so no dance class and a lot of eating out/unhealthy eating, so the pound that I lost (to make only 6.5 lbs lost since my 6 wk. postpartum check-up March 11) was regained, I think. I may be toning up though, either that, or the jeans I bought around St. Patrick's Day are stretching out of shape, because I can take them off without unfastening them.

Other fitness gains:
- I have gotten to the point in the Couch to 5K program where I don't jog/walk anymore, I just build up time/mileage.
- Even though my mile time still sucks (compared to pre-pregnancy), I did knock a minute off my mile time over the course of a week. I can't sustain it for two miles yet, though :(
- Little boy can roll all the way over! (I know this isn't actually my accomplishment, but I grew him and I'm still his only source of food, so I'll sort of take some credit for it)
- I fit in the dress for my brother's wedding. (P.S., it was a great wedding...they definitely tailored it to their own tastes, and it was beautiful to see how much they are meant for each other)

Maybe I don't give myself enough credit, but still I'd like to fit in some of my old clothes again. Rather than having true "weight-loss" goals, mine are more of fitness goals so I can get back to the dance and running shape I used to be in. Back at home now, so hopefully that will mean back to healthy eating and I return to dance class Thursday. I hope to have more of a dance update then.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


I started out this week feeling a little bummed because I missed a feis near where I used to live. Though I was so not ready, it was cool that adult novice/prizewinner had 8 competitors. I saw my old school had posted pictures from the feis, and it looks like most of my old classmates are now champ dancers. I know I couldn't have handled the prelim prep class while pregnant, but it was just frustrating to think about everyone else moving forward while I moved backwards in my dance and fitness.

But then I started looking for the bright side. I gave birth to a healthy little boy, and I continue to be his sole source of nourishment, as I am breastfeeding. How cool is that? Sure, my jogging is super-slow, but it is still fast enough that if I was still in the Army, I would pass the 2-mile portion of the physical fitness test. My reel has greatly improved this week, as did my slip jig, though I still can't do both slip jig steps together. I am out of town the next couple of weeks, but maybe I can get a little time to practice while I've got lots of relatives willing to hang out with the little boy. I haven't officially signed up for any feisanna yet, but I hope to be back at competing by June. My hard shoe still needs a lot of work, though.

This week, I also got an adult class T-shirt, my first piece of apparel from my new school. I feel all official. I saw an article that one of my friends from another school posted about Irish dance schools in the area, and the one I attend was described as "highly-competitive," which may have scared me off, even when I was younger. I wasn't the most coordinated youth, at least not until sometime midway through marching band season in 7th grade. Though different things I'd heard or read made this school not my first choice, because I didn't think it would be the right fit, but I am so glad things worked out the way they did. I love my dance family, and I am sad I will be out of town and not able to attend an upcoming local feis with them. I wish them the best of luck though, and there's always next year.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Trebling and Running

Though I don't have room to practice my steps, I discovered I can work on my trebles. My back trebles are pretty abysmal, and I think it is because my treble form gets sloppy. So the other day I just stood in the living room, slowing down my trebles. The left foot is definitely worse than the right. But if working on basics is all that I have space to do, then maybe it will help me in the long run. Plus, as my son laid on a playmat on the floor watching me, he was kicking his feet in the air. I think he was trying to dance, too!

I am 2/3 through with week 5's workouts of Couch to 5K. My 3/4 mile jog was right on the pacing suggested, but 8 minutes for 3/4 is way slower than I am used to. My personal best mile time is 6 minutes 15 seconds, and I am hoping to get back there someday. But I guess first I build the mileage, then I work on speed.

On the bright side, my "best person" dress fits! Yay!!! It is a little snug in the bosom, but I was starting to panic about it fitting for my brother's wedding in 3 weeks. On the downside, the cut of the dress makes me look a little like I am still pregnant in the stomach :(

Speaking of dresses, I am hoping that when I start feising again that I will be allowed to wear a pseudo-solo dress. Not a really fancy dress, but a stretch velvet number with a little embellishment at the neckline and cuffs, with a sparkly cape. Definitely an adult dress, yet different than the school dress. I got it from another adult dancer and haven't been able to wear it yet, as I've just been in school dresses. It is in our school colors, so hopefully it will be allowed and will give a boost to my confidence.

Hopefully I will post again sometime after Thursday's class, and hopefully I will have slip jig improvements to discuss!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Slip Jig and Other Woes

I will try to start this on a positive note, so...on the bright side, I can get through both steps of my reel now. I start getting sloppy at the end, but at least that is one step that I have to the music. Plus, I am still seeking a 1st with 5 or more competitors in adult novice/prizewinner reel, so maybe I can finally get that, if I work on things like turnout, jump height (which seems dismally low since I haven't been doing jump drills and my abs are all stretched out of shape from carrying an 8 lb baby), and kicking my bum. My upper body is already getting better, and my stamina seems to be improving, though when I start feeling like my old, athletic self, then I end up peeing myself a little and it brings me back to reality :(

I can more or less do the right foot of my troublesome treble jig step to music. Now I just need to work on left foot and combine it with step 1. Hard shoe just seems to come more naturally to me. Maybe it is thanks to the 3.5 years of clogging that I did in my tweenage years. Pre-move, pre-pregnancy, I would feel like I wasn't so great at hard shoe in class, alongside the kids and teens, but then I would totally kick butt at hard shoe at the feis. At one point in time, I had a year-long winning streak in treble jig before I got a 2nd place result, I would win hard shoe just to come in 2nd at soft shoe, and at one really big feis, I only placed in my hard shoe and came home empty-handed at soft shoe. I didn't get to work on my hornpipe at all. They spent a lot of time working on traditional speed stuff, so I stayed in the other room to get more time to work on slip jig.

Oh, slip jig :( My feet will just not move fast enough at 2nd step. I learned it in November, and I was just too pregnant to ever put it up to speed, so I guess I just got in the habit of doing it too slowly. It is a lovely, spinning start, and has some neat elements like twists, but my feet will not cooperate! I am so glad my husband had to work this weekend, because had I feised this weekend, it would have been an epic fail. My teacher asked me if I wanted to practice it to slower music, and I was like, nooooo. That will only confuse me more. Some of my classmates were working on reel to slower music, but I need to do more like they did at my old school, and just work on little chunks to the correct speed of music until I could put it all together. I LOVE the people at my current school, but I miss the drilling of my old school.

Speaking of people, the super-helpful former champ dancer (who is also really nice and a fan of Dr. Who and Harry Potter) will be leaving our class :( She has to do field placements for her degree program, and while I wish her the best on her future career, I will certainly miss her.

The new plan is to start feising again in June. I will miss a couple of weeks of class in May, because of my husband's work and my brother's wedding, so I sure hope I can get my steps ready. My teacher said we would start with slip jig next week. I told her I don't have the space to practice at home right now, and she was okay with it, so I guess that is another advantage of an adult class. This is the first time I haven't had the space to practice, and though we have tossed around the idea of moving when our lease ends in September, it doesn't hardly seem worth going through a move just for a year. I just hope I can get my steps ready for the feis the third week in June. It is my old school's home feis, so I really don't want to humiliate myself. Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Working on Running and Losing Weight

So I have been continuing on the Couch to 5K plan and made it into Week 5. Running feels pretty good now, though I still feel really slow. Maybe it is good that my husband walks with the baby stroller while I do my jog/walk (he sometimes runs at lunchtime), so I am not tempted to go too fast too soon. I don't want to bring back the tendonitis in my knee by overdoing it. I feel slow for a couple of reasons. First, I think it is a result of my weak is getting better, but I feel like I just can't move my legs fast enough. And with thicker legs than I am used to, I am having the issue of the insides of my legs rubbing against each other uncomfortably. I guess I will have to get out the Friction Block stick that I haven't used since the marathon in 2013. Finally, this may be TMI, but I sometimes pee myself a little. I spend so much energy trying not to pee that I end up running quite slowly. Guess I better keep working on those Kegels!

However, I am super-excited to finally have lost another pound! Sure, it is only 1 pound, but I was thinking the scale was stuck for a while. I have lost only about 4 lbs. in the past 6 weeks. Still have about 20 more pounds to go, and I haven't tried on the dress for my brother's wedding (which is in 3 weeks) yet. I ordered only 1 or 2 sizes bigger than normal, so I am crossing my fingers!

Tonight's dance class, so hopefully I will have another update soon. In my next update, maybe I can find and share the easy veggie curry recipe that I discovered on the Internet back when I was pregnant. We made it the other night, and there are still leftovers in the fridge. I think it is one of my favorite meals I make at home.

Well, gotta go...sounds like I need to change a diaper!

Saturday, April 16, 2016


While it has been nice to have so many babysitters so that I can go jogging, the disadvantage of being at my parents' house means food temptations everywhere. My family doesn't eat very healthy, and my diet has changed a lot since I moved out. They have been having a hard time figuring out what to serve me now that I don't eat red meat or pork, and there are hardly any vegetables in the house. I've been drinking more soda than usual (although at least it is the kind with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup). One day my mom served salad, and it just consisted of an iceberg lettuce/red cabbage/shredded carrot bagged salad mix. I ended up having walnuts and cheese on it too. On another day, I made my own dressing out of olive oil, orange juice, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, rather than eat the salad dressing that contained propylene glycol. Plus, there's all kinds of junk food like Pop-tarts and cookies. We also had birthday cake and ice cream for my brother's birthday on Wednesday. I am trying to be a good, gracious guest and don't want to come off as unappreciative, though. At least my mom said they have been eating healthier since I have been here.

Meanwhile, week 4 of Couch-to-5K continues. I've been trying to get my sister to join me. I thought she had given up running until she was telling me about her knee hurting from jogging 5 miles on the treadmill. I didn't realize she ran more than 5 minutes! Apparently, she just started running again two weeks ago. Sigh. No wonder her knee hurts. 5K is 3 miles, and the Couch-to-5K plan gives you 9 weeks to work up to that. I didn't want to sound like a know-it-all, but I've had tendonitis in the knee in the past from doing too much too soon. Trying to do it right this time, even if it means I can only run 5 minutes at a time for now.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Trying Not to Be Deterred

On the Irish dance front, I'm a bit at a standstill. I am away from the studio, so I will miss the optional Sunday afternoon class, and the only space that I would have enough room to practice is my parents' driveway, which is sort of out of the question now due to rogue neighbor dogs. Though the bite marks are healing, both wounds are bruising, and the vivid purple butt bruise is right where I would need to kick my bum for Irish dance :-/

I have been continuing with the run/walk program though. I can now jog for 5 minutes at a time. I've been driving to a local greenway, although I think I still must have a bit of PTSD from the dog attack. There was a girl riding a bicycle while her dog jogged beside her (which technically wasn't allowed, since it was supposed to be on the leash at the greenway path). Even though it trotted back over to her after she scolded it for straying too far from her side, I don't know if I trust unleashed dogs right now. Maybe I would feel safer if I ran wearing pants instead of shorts :-/

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Temporary Setback

My husband is doing a temporary duty assignment in another state this week, so I've traveled to my parents' house so I can have some help with the baby. Since they live near my old home/old dance school, I won't be going to dance class this week. But it doesn't mean I can't work out. I've been trying to plank when I can, since that only takes 30-45 seconds at a time. Plus, I've figured out how to do some ab work with a 13 lb weight, aka my son :) If I lean back just a little while I hold him while sitting on the floor, I can really feel it in my lower abs.

I figured having so many family members around would be the perfect time to continue with my run/jog Couch to 5K plan. Though I felt really slow and am alternating 2-3 min of walking and running, it felt good to be back on my familiar run route, out in the sunshine and spring air. I went to the highway and back, because I knew that it was 0.7 miles each way, and was planning on doing it again after turning around in my parents' driveway, but I didn't get that far. While I was walking on the edge of my parents' land and the road, I saw the neighbors' dogs come running down the hill across the road. I started cutting diagonally through my parents' property, trying to walk calmly so they would know I am not a threat, and I hoped they would just turn around when they reached the road. But no, the one jumped up and bit me in the butt, they barked and circled around me, and the other, smaller dog bit me in the leg. They were barking and jumping, and it was scary because I didn't know what they else they would do, so I started yelling for help. One neighbor was on a riding lawn mower facing away from me, and I thought my parents were in the house, but fortunately my mom heard the barking and thought the dogs were after her cats, so she came out to yell at them. When she yelled at them to go home, they backed off, but I was still shaken up from the incident. The nurses' line that my insurance provided said I needed to get checked out to at least get a tetanus booster. Nothing was bad enough for stitches, and the doctor said I should be okay, even though they didn't have their shots.

I'm okay, but it is so frustrating. I've run that route for a good 10 years or so, putting on probably hundreds of miles. Now I feel like I have to drive to a local park to go for a run. Plus, it is even worse that I was walking, IN MY PARENTS' YARD, when it happened. As far as my workout went, I had to cut it short and didn't stretch afterwards, since I immediately got on the phone with the insurance company, after I finished crying on the porch. I was just getting back on track with exercise, and even though it's not much a physical setback, it mentally took a toll. And now I fear for my son. We used to have family cookouts and stuff at my parents' house, but now, apparently their side yard is not even safe :( Exercise-wise, I will not be deterred. Maybe I will even go down to a county trail where there are leash laws for a walk/jog tomorrow. But the hypochondriac in me is still a little worried about the rare possibility of an infection or something from the dog bites :(  

Friday, April 8, 2016

Back in Class

So I've been back at class for two classes now. I meant to post after the first one, but it seems I never have two hands and a lap free to type at the laptop. Here's a quick, combined update:

First class back: Ugh, I felt so behind. I was having troubles getting my steps up to speed. It seems my legs didn't work fast enough. My height off the floor was abysmal and fundamentals like kicking my butt were really lacking. I was frustrated, but my teacher told me not to be so hard on myself.

We learned a new reel step, but when you consider that I had just "learned" a new reel step by watching and writing it down the night before I gave birth, I now have learned 4 reel steps (actually 5, if you count a beginner one) since September. I am used to drilling and perfecting just the feis steps, and while I like learning new things, I feel like this is where I differ from some of the other adults in my class. Many are there for fun and exercise, rather than competition. I love the fun and exercise, too, but I still want to be prepared to compete and win. My teacher is really cool about trying to help everyone get what they need out of the class, so she was understanding when I asked her afterwards about which would be the best steps for me to focus on for the feis. I just wish we would have had time to work on slip jig and my terrible second treble jig step. That is the disadvantage of having soft and hard shoe crammed into one night a week of dance.

Second class back: More work on the reel. It is getting better. My teacher and one of the former champ dancers were trying to help me work on issues like posture, keeping my eyes up (I'm looking in the mirror and thinking too hard about my steps; I'm not even looking at my feet), and kicking my butt. I think we may be having a breakthrough about my on-going upper body issue (I tend to lean in and out of my steps). I need to continue to work on stamina and form. I am just sooo tired by step 2, which causes my form to suffer. For slow-speed hard shoe, I am even tired by left foot of step 1. We worked on the treble jig step. It is looking better, and I can do it with the music if someone is doing it with me. My back trebles are horrible, my form isn't so hot, and my big clicks are terribly low, but I guess it is getting there. My teacher (who has taught other pregnant dancers/new moms before) keeps reminding me that it will take time. After all, it took 9 months to grow a baby.

Still didn't have any class time on slip jig, and we didn't do hornpipe this week, so I'm not sure if I have it up to speed.

I wish we would do more drills...that's what I really need to whip myself into shape. That's what really helped me at my old school. My current apartment is one of the smallest places I have lived in since starting Irish dance. That, plus often having an infant in my arms, and constantly wearing nursing bras, means I don't get to just dance around the house. The nursing "sports" bras seem to be a joke. They may look sporty, but they aren't supportive. I have to switch to a standard, max support sports bra for workouts.

I am slowly continuing on the Couch to 5K running plan. Roughly on week 3 now. The scale seems to be stuck at my current weight, though. Maybe it is the breastfeeding, or maybe I need to regain more muscle first, but I am 25 lbs. more than I would like to be.

I decided to sign up for the Louisville Feis in June, so now I have a concrete goal to work towards. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

St. Patrick's Day and a Return to Running

After my doctor gave me the go-ahead to return to normal activities, I didn't waste too much time. Saturday the 12th was the St. Patrick's Day parade. Though I felt it was too early to walk the parade route, my husband, son, and I were out to see the parade. My dance classmates were happy to see us, though I didn't really get to pay too much attention to the parade as our school was dancing by, because wouldn't you know, that was the only time during the whole parade that a random person came up to talk to me about my son. I know he's cute, but that was the main parade entry I wanted to see, and I missed it. Later that night, we went to a local restaurant where my dance mates and some of the younger kids did a performance. I figured it was too soon for me to join in, but we had fun, and the camaraderie among the adult class is awesome. It is nice to feel like I am already making friends in our new town. Plus, my son seemed so happy and at ease. Everyone remarked on how much he seemed to enjoy just hanging out, listening to the music :) 

On the actual St. Patrick's Day, I volunteered for two performances. My parents watched my son as I ventured out for a lunch performance and supper performance. The lunchtime one was really relaxed. I had to drive into town alone (which I hate doing), missed my exit, ended up in downtown traffic, and I finally arrived after more than an hour in the car. The group was just going around the restaurant, stopping in various spots to do treble reels. I hadn't performed a treble reel in a long time, and hadn't learned one from my new school yet. I tried to make up something, and it sort of worked once, but most of the time I just ended up reverting back to one of the treble reels from my old school. Thanks, muscle memory. My teacher said it was okay, but I still felt bad about it. At the start of the performance, I was wearing a black maternity T-shirt that I tucked in to my skirt so you couldn't tell it was a maternity shirt. Fortunately I had bought a "one-size-fits-most" elastic waist skirt at an Irish fest back when I was too pregnant to fit in most of my regular clothes, but not far enough along to feel comfortable announcing it. The gray skirt worked well enough until a classmate got there and loaned me one of the adult class performance skirts. I finally felt all official :) I danced a couple of Fairy Reels, and they felt pretty good. My form isn't what it used to be, and I am so glad I bought a new sports bra for the occasion, as the nursing sports bras would just not have given me enough support, but overall, I felt pretty good.

The evening performance wasn't so great. Between the unpredictability of an infant, coupled with evening traffic, I barely made it for the start of the performance. The dancing area was super-tiny, and I totally messed up my reel. My teacher didn't seem to mind, as the adult class is all about having fun, but I certainly cared :( I've decided to do a feis in mid-June, so I have a little less than 3 months to get back into shape and get myself ready. No more blatant mistakes.

In other exercise news, I started jogging today. Jog a minute, walk a minute....I did this for half an hour, plus did a warm up walk of 5 minutes and walked to cool down, too. It felt good, with hardly any joint pain. The worst part was my sore, non-existant lower abs. I'm pretty much doing the Couch to 5K, but jumping in at week 3. It feels like such a remedial plan for me, but then I remind myself that I haven't run since October, so I've got to gradually work my way back up.

There's a lot of work to be done, but I can do it!

Friday, March 11, 2016

And I'm Back!

Sort least I got the okay from my doctor to return to dance. But my ab muscles are pretty much non-existent (thanks to being stretched all out of shape with the pregnancy), I still weigh 20-25 lbs. more than I would like, and I still have some aches and pains (Dr. wasn't too concerned...she said it would heal with time and I could go see a chiropractor if I wanted to). I'm excited to return just in time for St. Patrick's Day, but I'm worried about the comeback. I was in such great shape, having performed at the recital with the kids and teens in the prizewinner class at my old school just weeks prior to getting pregnant, so it is going to be a long road back.

Yet another one of my post-pregnancy goals is now not going to happen. So already, I had to give up a couple of feisanna due to my husband's work schedule, being out of town, and/or family commitments. Now I just found out the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon has been moved to a 5:30 am start time instead of a 10 pm start time. No thank you. If I want to wake up at 2:30 am, all I have to do is stay home and feed my son, no need to travel and run 13 miles :(

We took my son to an Irish dance event last night. He did so great. I thought the people, music, and dancing might be overwhelming, but he just took it all in with wide eyes :)

I would say maybe I will be able to update more now that I am back in the working out/dancing game, but I still hardly get to sit at the computer...he's always either on my lap or else I am doing dishes or laundry or cooking. Speaking of cooking, festive tofu crescent wreath (tofu, pepperjack cheese, broccoli, red bell pepper and spices cooked in crescent roll) was surprisingly good. Tofu sloppy joe wasn't bad either.

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Feeling Better

My joints are still achy, but for the most part I am feeling better and less sore...I'm only taking 2 Advil a day now, but at the same time, I wonder if my hips/pelvis/lower back will be ready for the high impact of Irish dance in 2 weeks. Two weeks from today is my doctor's appointment, and hopefully by then I can be cleared to return to my normal activities. Unfortunately, that is 1 day too late to dance at the ceili/St.Patrick's Day party that my dance class is having, but I hope to go watch anyways, along with my little one, since friends and family are invited :)

I've lost a little more than 25 pounds already, which is about the halfway point. 24 lbs to go, but then again, I have only been allowed to walk so far, and between crummy weather and not wanting to take the little one into public places during cold and flu season, I haven't gotten a whole lot of activity. I used to look forward to Thursdays because it was dance night; now I look forward to Thursdays because I go to a couple of support groups (new parents and breastfeeding mommies) on Thursdays.

Though most of my meals have been quick or takeout, we did manage to find time to make a couscous-stuffed peppers recipe out of an old Self magazine (though I couldn't find a copy of the recipe online). It was pretty quick...the part that took the longest was the 20 minutes that it was in the oven, followed by the time it took to chop a medium onion. The rest was pretty quick on the stove top.

I was already pretty bummed that I was missing out on seeing the Lord of the Dance show with some of my classmates, but then I found out that some of them got to meet Michael Flatley. Plus I am missing more fun activities, but I know being a mom is about trade-offs. It's just hard to be trying to make friends in a new location and learning to be a mom at the same time.

I did get to attend a local feis as a spectator. It was great to see my adult Irish dance friends, but when they offered "day of" entries for the treble reel, it was so tempting to break doctor's orders for just one dance. But I knew I would really be hurting the next day, and I don't want to delay my return to dance because of being too stubborn to sit out for 6 weeks. Looks like my return to feising might not be until June, though. My husband's work schedule means missing out on a couple of feisanna I originally hoped to attend. At least I will hopefully be really ready and fully healed by then. I am just ready to get back in the shape I was before, and hopefully prove that I am good enough and dedicated enough to drop down someday!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Non-Update

Well, I probably only have a few minutes before little one awakes, but since it was Thursday (formerly known as dance night), I thought I'd do a brief update, or sort of a non-update in this case. I survived my first day by myself, as my husband went back to work today (though he gets a 4-day weekend now, and my parents will be visiting during part of next week). Today I drove for the first time since earlier in the evening the night my water broke. I was in my husband's car though, which sits a bit higher. Little baby is too small by 5 oz. for the convertible car seat in my car, and I'm not looking forward to climbing in and out of the Celica just yet. I am still super-sore, and the way some of the joints in my pelvis/lower back keep popping when I roll over in bed, I fear I may have to wait a bit longer than the standard 6 weeks before I am cleared to exercise. But then again, I am only about 2 weeks into my recovery, so we will see what happens. I am hoping to go watch the adult competition of a local feis next Friday, so it will be nice to see my dance classmates again, along with feis friends from other schools. I am just hoping the little one cooperates and it works out for him to stay home with my husband and parents for a few hours for me to go watch the feis.

Friday, February 5, 2016

An Update and Big News

I am now the proud parent of a beautiful week-old baby boy :) He's sleeping on Daddy's lap right now (thank goodness for 10 days paternity leave plus the Presidents' Day holiday), so let me give a brief update. Let's go back to last week...

Pretty typical real news at Monday's doctor appointment, so we went to see a show with one of my husband's friends. Afterwards, my husband and I went out to eat and went to the mall. Even though all we bought were some jeans for him, it was good to get some exercise walking around. Tuesday and Wednesday were ordinary days as well. Wednesday I made a fiesta of vegetarian Mexican foods...bean burritos, tofu and black bean enchiladas, and tofu breakfast burritos. I was on my feet for a while, chopping vegetables, but I didn't know when I would be up to doing that again, and wanted to have a lot of leftovers. My husband laughed when he came home and found me wearing an apron, chopping veggies in the kitchen. It was a big change from when we first got married and he did most of the cooking.

Thursday started out pretty ordinary. I went grocery shopping Thursday afternoon, and returned from the store right after my husband got home from work, so he could help me bring in the groceries. We had leftover Mexican food from Wednesday, and I went to dance class. I knew I didn't have a whole lot of energy anymore, and by this time, I was past the due date determined by a first trimester ultrasound (I was convinced I wasn't really due until the weekend), so I just wore a t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. There was an uneven number for the ceili dance, so I joined in, but oh my, it was the worst I'd ever danced. No pep in my step- I was not so much hopping as walking through, and I even got on the wrong foot because I wasn't moving my feet fast enough. Oh well, no one really minded except for me. The rest of the class I just watched and talked to people (good thing about our class is no one really cares if you are off to the side chatting), and "learned" a new reel step just by watching and writing it down. I already have 2 reel steps, but I think this one will be more suited to my style than the one reel step I'd previously learned. I went home about 9:15 pm and stopped for gas on the way home. Back at my apartment, I sat in the car for a bit to chat with a friend on the phone who had called me during dance (cell reception is terrible in the apartment, but the call doesn't drop if you sit in the car). Shortly after 10 pm, I headed inside my apartment, and the typical evening continued. When my husband went to bed, I laid down next to him and was surfing Facebook on my phone, debating on whether to eat a snack and order some shoes that were on the Toms surprise sale until midnight. I never got the snack or shoes, though. Suddenly, between 11:40 and 11:45 pm, my water broke! I woke up my husband, we grabbed the bags we'd packed and a few last-minute items (phone, wallet, hairbrush, towel for the seat, etc.) and made our way to the hospital. Things progressed very quickly over the next few hours and my little boy was born, 8 lbs, 1.6 oz, at 10:15 Friday morning.

So now the craziness begins. Between the sleep deprivation, trying to figure out eating/sleep schedules, and the soreness of trying to heal from the 2 hours of pushing that brought my little one into the world, there's probably not going to be many new recipes tried in the near future. As much as I love running and dance, I don't even want to think about running, hopping, skipping, or jumping anytime soon. For now, I take it easy and try to heal and enjoy the time with my little one :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


For all you other bloggers out there, how do you get the heading to show up? Mine either disappears or it adds on part of my first sentence. I used to be technologically-savvy, but not anymore. My husband laughs at me and my aversion to touchscreen phones, and we had a friend that once referred to me as "29 going on 92" (but that was because I was getting really into crocheting, a hobby I was never great at, but I may give it another go once the baby is born).

Anyways, I decided to post an update. I felt like I was just droning on each day, so I took a few days off from blogging, did a little scrapbooking and tidied up what will become the baby's room. Plus, as my due date approached, I was feeling a little crankier and didn't do as much cooking. Saturday my husband came home from work and asked what was for dinner. I said I was uncomfortable and feeling moody, so he asked "Chinese or pizza"? Wonderful answer from my wonderful husband :) So we ordered BBQ chicken pizza and pregnant wife was kept happy :)

As for dance, I managed to do warm up skips and the ceili portion of class, although already by the second ceili dance, all pep had left my step and I was just muddling through. I walked through a beginner reel step that we were supposed to learn in case it becomes part of a St. Patrick's Day performance routine, and then, aside from stretching, I was done for the night. At least I am a good visual learner, so even by just watching, it helps me. Like I noticed that in the slip jig, where I was landing a jump two-footed, I was actually just supposed to be landing on one foot. Still hoping I will be cleared to go back to my usual activities by St. Patrick's Day. I found out I might be traveling to see family the weekend of the Peach State Feis, which was one of the feisanna I was wanting to do this spring. Maybe I can do Buckeye State Feis instead, but that will give me less time to prepare, and it fills so fast, I might have to register before I am actually back at dance post-pregnancy. So I'm hoping that my return to feising won't have to be postponed until later this summer. Also, I think my brother's wedding conflicts with a dance performance, so my schedule for returning to dance is just all messed up right now. But I'll get there eventually.

We did have a successful tofu dinner tonight, sweet and sour soy with tofu-fried rice. My husband even went back for seconds! I don't know that I would ever make the tofu-fried rice again, though. It got too complicated trying to get everything done, so I think I'll just stick to plain rice next time. These recipes were from the "101 Things to Do with Tofu" book.

A hearty dinner from last week was another Self magazine one, Chicken and White Bean Stew, It was tasty, hearty, and perfect for a cold day. Plus, my husband didn't even realize the original recipe called for bacon (I left that out since I don't eat pork). I also omitted the celery, used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth (because that's what we had on hand), left out the shallots, and used microwaved, frozen carrots and spinach. I thought the slow-roasted tomatoes tasted a little too thyme-heavy, but I'm not sure if it was because I don't really like thyme or if it was because I used ground thyme instead of fresh. Also, I just made half the recipe, because it was supposed to make 8 servings, but we went through the leftovers really fast, so maybe I should have made more. Here's a picture of what mine looked like...

If you don't hear from me soon, it could be because I've gone into labor. It should be any day now! I think I might go to dance this week just to watch and to get out of the house, but not actually dance (unless they have an uneven number for ceili, then I might be talked into it).

Monday, January 18, 2016

Budgeting for Dance

So even though I will be taking a couple months off from dance, I thought this was a timely topic because after my college loan payment comes out of my account later this week, I will have run out of the money I saved up back when I was still working. Which means I will be dependent on my husband for everything. I feel sort of useless, but child care costs so much that it makes more sense for me to stay home with the kid rather than us spending most of my salary to pay for child care. Plus, being in a new city, I wouldn't even know where to start with the child care search.

The bills are accounted for, but how to pay for my hobbies? Some of my passions aren't too costly. When I was involved with community theater, it was mostly free, just costing time and the occasional shoe, tights, or make-up purchase. As for scrapbooking, I have so many scrapbook supplies already that my main expense is just printing photos. Running is pretty cheap, except for new shoes every 500 miles or so. Most local races are reasonably priced, costing 25-50% of the cost of the average feis (and with the running race, your t-shirt cost is included in the entry fee!). I only do a "destination" race (Florida, DC, etc.) every 2 years or so. I suppose you could chalk that up to my travel hobby, though, which can be expensive, even though I have learned how to travel fairly cheaply. And I can choose when to's not like a dance fee that has to be paid every month. 

Right now, since I am in a once-a-week adult class, my dance costs are pretty manageable. Even at my old school, I thought the fees were really reasonable, though dance-related costs can add up, after you figure in all the extras. So here are the top 6 ways I got creative with saving/making money for dance:

1. Keep non-dance related costs down- I drive a car with 211K miles on it, but I paid it off back in 2010, I take good care of it, and it gets more than 30 mpg on the highway. I don't typically buy many new clothes. Pre-pregnancy, my closet was filled with clothes slowly accumulated from about 2007 - 2015 (although I do have a dress that I bought in 1999 that fit me back in the spring). Shopping for maternity clothes was almost a treat because it had been a long time since I had bought that many new clothes! I gave up regular pedicures around the time that I started Irish dance, and we make our coffee at home. It has been a few years since I last went to a Starbucks. I like experiences more than things, and dance is one experience I don't want to miss out on!

2. Buy used- The last time I bought soft shoes, I got them out of the used shoe bin for less than half of what a new pair would cost. Normally it would weird me out to buy used shoes, but since they came from one of my classmates, I was okay with it. If I ever get a solo dress, I will definitely buy used.

3. Borrow and barter- I have always worn a school dress, and at my previous 2 schools, school dresses were rented. The "barter" part of this one comes in because I got a good deal on a dress from another adult dancer because we were friends, I had just moved, and she was about to move, so I gave her a bunch of boxes and Rubbermaid bins that we were done with.

4. Sell stuff on ebay- I'm not necessarily talking dance-themed stuff, although if you are creative and make stuff, that's awesome! One year when I was just working part-time, I started selling stuff I had hoarded since my childhood in order to make some extra cash. My wig, blister booties, and half of a workshop fee were paid for with the proceeds from vintage Care Bears, My Little Ponies, Rainbow Brites, and She-Ras.

5. Shop around- The bun wig I wanted was $30 at a feis. I went home empty-handed and got a suggestion from another adult dancer on about a cheaper bun wig. $10 plus less than $3 shipping later, I got a bun wig that still blended in with my classmates and got me a compliment at a feis. My blister booties actually came from a rollerblading website instead of from a dance vendor. 

6. Get creative- This includes: taking a Megabus to a farther-away feis, asking for a dance jacket for a Christmas present, hot-gluing a piece of a hair barrette to a Wal-mart headband to make a custom one to match my dress, booking hotel rooms with Priceline or hotel reward programs, and using my old university marching band uniform bag for a dress bag (we had to buy monogrammed uniform bags freshman year...since I've always had a-line stretch velvet dresses or soft circle skirts, I haven't had a need for a triangle dress bag yet, so I might as well get more use out of something I already have). Dance means a lot to me so I will do everything I can to scrimp and save to ensure I don't have to give up this activity :)

While the adult Irish dance camp at CRC is out of the question again this year (last year I couldn't get the days off work, this year little one will be too small for me to leave for a week), I am still trying to figure out how to manage that cost...I better start ransacking my closet now for stuff to sell on ebay or at a yard sale! Anyone else have any ideas?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

It's about that time...

Well, I'm crossing into that uncomfortable stage of pregnancy, though I am still nervous about the labor process and being a mom. My doctor's appointment was uneventful, so I went to dance on Thursday night. I managed to do the warm-up skips and the ceili portion of the evening. When we split into groups to work on our steps, the advanced group of adults were all working on the soft shoe steps to music, so really, all I could do was watch. While I know I am blessed to have a healthy pregnancy, it is still hard for me to be okay with just being on the sidelines, watching. As my Facebook news feed filled with feis results this weekend, I again was a little sad that I was missing out. Can I be both happy for the baby and sad about my body at the same time? I think about how athletic I used to be just 7 or 8 months ago. Since it's my first pregnancy, I don't know how I will bounce back, but I do hope to get back to my pre-pregnancy physical condition at some point in the next year or so. 

During hard shoe time at class, I did walk through my particularly troublesome treble jig step. That's the one step that I will likely have the most trouble getting feis-ready. The others I should be able to get up to speed and with music (I hope) fairly easily, especially since I could do 1 of the reel steps and 1 of the treble jig steps before I got too pregnant. I'm hoping that I am not lazy about hopping and kicking my bum post-pregnancy, though. Good technique was one thing that really went out the window the bigger and heavier I got. I did the math and I am literally 1/3 bigger than I used to be. When shampoo or soap or anything comes with, "Now 33% more, free!" it is a good thing, but increasing my size by 33% in 8 months (and the majority of it being on the front of my torso) just gives me a backache.

So my dance class is making plans for stuff, which is cool, because I never had this adult camaraderie with my dance classmates before. I'll of course have to miss out on performing next month, but not because I will be too pregnant, but it's because I won't have the clearance from my doctor to resume normal exercise post-pregnancy yet. Yikes! That means it's almost go time! And they are planning on going to a couple of shows, but I'll have to see if my husband can watch the baby those nights! I've never had to worry about planning for childcare before. My life is about to change, and even though I've been preparing for it ever since that first positive pregnancy test on May 30, it still doesn't mean I'm completely ready! Ready or not, though, the adventure will begin soon. Tomorrow, we'll see if my doctor has any more details about how soon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

So my Farmer's Market Fettuccini looked drastically different than the magazine picture...for starters, I didn't use fettuccini, I used whole wheat rotini. We had it on hand, and I typically make less of a mess with shorter pasta (my husband jokes that he's not going to be able to tell which is my spot at the table and which is the kid's, based on crumbs/mess). Also, I wasn't quite sure how to "julienne," so I just chopped the 3 not-so-small zucchini and threw in one of the longer yellow squash (rather than squash blossoms). My husband saw the bowl nearly full of zucchini and was like, 'I don't think we need very much squash.' Other adaptations were leaving out the fennel seed, switching the type of vinegar (see previous discussions on not wanting a cupboard full of vinegar varieties), using frozen spinach (cooking it in the microwave first), and leaving out the basil (just because we didn't have any). My version of cooking is definitely more utilitarian than elegant, but it still turned out to be a decent dish, very hearty, with plenty of leftovers. I'm sure the basil would have added more flavor, so we seasoned it up with some sprinkles of Parmesan cheese (not as healthy, but we didn't go overboard).

In other news, I'm still trying to figure out how to use a heading so that it shows up on the blog post and in the descriptions, without including half of my first sentence in the descriptions of each blog post on the right side. I just didn't bother with a title for this post. New at this whole blogger thing, having given up my Livejournal posting a decade or so ago, after getting Facebook. And since that was pre-Facebook, it was mostly just status updates and talking about college life, rather than having a purposeful topic. Speaking of college, I had a friend in college who took an Irish dance class through the phys. ed. department at our university. Even though it was just a recreational class, sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I would have started Irish dance in September 2002 instead of December 2010, but at the time, I was in 2nd semester tap dance, and I didn't want to start over as a beginner in something else (so instead I waited more than 8 years to become an Irish dance beginner). Maybe I would have just learned the basics and given it up after a semester or 2 or 3. I didn't exactly live near an Irish dance school for the first few years after graduating college anyways. Either way, I can't change the past.

As for the immediate future, as long as I have a good check-up today, I am going to go to dance class Thursday and just walk through/muddle through whatever I feel comfortable with, but I think it will be my last time actually dancing until probably St. Patrick's Day. By next week, I just feel like I will be getting a little too close to my due date to be skipping around. I might end up going and watching dance next week, just to stay connected and maybe learn stuff by watching. I've already gone to 1 feis as just a spectator to cheer on my classmates and adult Irish dance friends. While it was a little frustrating being on the sidelines, I knew the St. Patrick's Day dance (which I had done at a performance 3 weeks prior to the feis) was the only one I probably would have had the stamina to complete. Besides, I couldn't really fit into anything to wear to perform at a feis anyways.

I'll try to update again after class on Thursday.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Yummy Chicken Burritos

Even though I got this recipe from Self magazine, it also appears online at, so I thought I'd share, especially since it is going in the "keep" pile of recipes (unlike the Ravioli Lasagna I made the other night...which was too cheesy, and I rarely say anything is too cheesy). We used boneless, skinless, chicken tenderloins and baked them first, since we got a large pack of chicken and cooked it all at once (some of it is still in the fridge waiting to be made into chicken curry). We also opted for medium salsa (no sense in spicy food sending me into labor yet) and lowfat, rather than nonfat sour cream, since we still had sour cream left over from the delicious spinach artichoke dip we made for the adult Irish dance class Christmas party. Also, I think we used less spinach in the burritos than suggested, so slightly less healthy, but still tasty, easy, and mostly healthy. Tonight we are trying this pasta recipe from Self magazine,, so stay tuned for my experiences with it.

Saturday, January 9, 2016


I got this survey from Irish dancer Kay's blog, "Wide Awake: The Journey Continues." I thought it looked fun, so here are my answers:

  • What level are you in: Adult prizewinner for all except Traditional Set, which is novice (I've only competed in it 3 times) and I've never competed in Single Jig, though I passed the grade exam that had it in it. Class-wise, I am in a mixed levels class, but I had made it to a Prelim Prep class before I moved.
  • Do you compete: Yes...see above.
  • How many dance teachers: Currently school has a lot of teachers, but only 1 teaches my class. At my last school, I had 3 teachers, but at my first school I only had 1 (there, again, there were 2 or 3 teachers at my school, but only 1 taught the class I was in).
  • Biggest competition: Ever? Cincinnati Feis back in 2012. One of my dances had 10 people in it (though there have been other years in which there's only been 3 or 4 people in my dances). The Dublin (OH) Irish Fest/Columbus Feis has the most adult dancers, but they split the competition into U35 and O35. I'm currently U35, which is the smaller of the 2 groups.
  • What shoes: Rutherford Cavan soft shoes and Fay's Ultra-Flexi hard shoes
  • Days you go to class: Just Thursdays right now. At my old school, we had 2 classes a week and an optional third class on the weekends. I heard we might be getting an every-other-weekend practice session, so that would be good to add in, post-baby.
  • Age group: Adults :(
  • Favorite Feis: Typically, the Columbus Feis, since it is at the Dublin Irish Festival. The adult competition is entertainment at the festival, so we get a lot of spectators, and they call up the winners to get their awards. And your feis entry gets you into Friday night at the festival, so one year after I danced, I got to see Gaelic Storm, and another year, I saw the Red Hot Chili Pipers. I didn't like how the adult competition was ran a couple of years ago (3 judges, each judging 2 dancers at a time, for a total of 6 dancers dancing at once to one musician). It got kind of confusing and I didn't do so well, but hopefully they changed it back to the old way in the couple of years I have been missing it due to my work schedule.
  • Favorite Dance: Reel or treble jig. Stylistically, those are my favorites, but I have had some slip jigs I was fond of, too.
  • Least Favorite Dance: Either Hornpipe or St. Patrick's Day. 
  • Dress: So far, just a school dress. My first school had simple stretch velvet dresses with embroidery applicae at the top, which would have looked nice if mine wasn't borrowed and sometimes I had one that I thought was too big, and sometimes I had one with too short of sleeves. My favorite school dress was at my last school...A leotard with sparkly cape and headband, with a circle skirt that moved so well and was in a beautiful color. Plus, it was a variation of the beginner school outfit and the champs' performance outfit, so I felt like I blended in better with the younger dancers at the performances. I will again get a "school dress," (adult outfit at my current school is black long-sleeved top with applicae and a plaid skirt) once I am confident in what skirt size I will be, but hoping I get to wear a lovely hand-me down stretch velvet dress in the meantime (which happens to be in my school colors). Still wishing for a solo dress someday though.
  • Fake Tan: Ew. Maybe I will use the Jergens gradual tan lotion again, like I did before my sister's wedding, but it ended up staining one of my bras. I don't really see the need to fake tan. Didn't do it for prom, didn't do it for my wedding.
  • Wig color: I think it's medium brown, #10.
  • Do you think you’re good at dancing: I feel like my non-pregnant self was at the upper end of mediocre. I didn't feel out of place, talent-wise, in the prizewinner class. There are plenty of prizewinners better than me, but I feel like I am pretty decent. I also feel I haven't reached my full potential, so hopefully I will be an even better dancer at this time next year.
  • Favorite Award: Probably the ones from last year's Feis Na Tara...even though I only did 4 of the 7 dances I signed up for (it is a long story, but the gist of it is a Megabus breakdown/delay meant I was 2 hours late to the feis). I would have only gotten to do 1 or 2 of those if it wasn't for the kindness and helpfulness of other adult dancers notifying them of my delay and even picking up my number. When the bus first broke down around 9 in the morning, I ate a nice breakfast, but then I had 2 packs of fruit snacks, half an apple, and a bottle of water the rest of the day, and danced around 9 pm. I was starving, exhausted, and had been on a bus for 7+ hours. My awards represent the friendship and camaraderie of adult Irish dancers, and my 2nd places in soft shoe represent success under less than ideal circumstances.
  • Set Dances: St. Patrick's Day traditional set, though I am learning the Blackbird traditional set, too.
  • Favorite Move: Probably double clicks, though mine still need work (especially left foot)
  • Least Favorite Move: Back trebles...I'm sure I won't hate them as much once I get better. Just like I used to hate back clicks but am okay with them now.
  • Best at: Treble Jig
  • Worst at: St. Patrick's Day...I often mess up on it, which I shouldn't, because it is easy, but I just don't work on it enough.
  • How far away is dance: Currently about 30 minutes (a little less, if I don't run into traffic). It feels really close since I used to drive an hour to class.
  • How many times have you transferred schools: Twice so far. I'm a military wife, so we move every 3 years or so.
  • Rally, Shuffle, Batter, Treble, Butter: Treble, though my first teacher called it a batter, and I had a workshop teacher once that called it a rally.
  • Number of perpetuals: None.
  • Best Placement: No majors, so 1st place out of 6 people is the best I've ever done (or 2nd out of 10).
  • Dance Shoe Size: 6 for hard shoes, 5.5 for soft shoes (though I have a pair of 6's that fit pretty decent, too)
  • Can you do freeze leaps: Not really...I was getting closer, pre-pregnancy.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Dance class recap...

So first of all, I am just happy I can still go to dance class. Initially, I was going to give it up at Christmas, but I've since decided to just take it week by week. I figured I can always just walk through the steps and socialize a little (which is a definite benefit of being in an adult class right now). After warming up, we did the Fairy Reel...unfortunately I only know the gent's part, which seems to get less of a break because of the gent's in the middle portion of the dance, but at least I was on an end, so we did get a break for a bit (since it is a progressive dance and we had an odd number of groups of 3). I probably pushed myself a bit harder than I should have...not to the point of hurting myself or little one, but just enough that my back is sore today. There were some new (or returning) people that I hadn't seen in class before (since I've only been there about 3 months), and I think one may have even been an "and overs" dancer, so my brain kept telling me to try harder to look good in front of people who had never seen me dance before, while my body was like, "I don't think so."

Afterwards, I walked through my slip jig steps and watched my classmates perform them. It is good to try to commit my dances to memory before my baby break. I did the same for my 1st treble jig step. By the time we got to hornpipe, I was too tired to even walk through, so I just hand danced/clapped the rhythm while saying the words to the steps. I feel good about most of my steps, assuming my feet/body cooperates when I actually try to do them at speed with the music. Treble jig step #2 is worrying me, though. It is very treble-heavy, and there are both the slow trebles and fast trebles, plus back trebles (which I have struggled with those for the past year or so). And there is a new 'double-toe' thing that I have to sort of reminds me of a drum, but with the toe. Hopefully if I drill it, I will get it, but there are no hard shoe drills in my immediate future. That will have to wait until at least late March. For now, I will just work on committing the words of what I should be doing to memory at tempo. That will be enough of a challenge for that step. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Healthy Recipes of the Week

Tofu cacciatore (pictured above), from "101 Things To Do With Tofu," by Donna Kelly and Anne Tegtmeier. We halved the recipe, though, and made a few other changes, for better, worse, or just out of laziness or thriftiness... We keep a jar of minced garlic on hand in the refrigerator. On the jar, it tells how many teaspoons equal how many cloves of garlic. This has been a total time-saver. Also, I cut the tofu into chunks instead of strips. Since I already had both apple cider vinegar and rice vinegar (from a mediocre attempt at Vegetarian Pad Thai), and my grocery list had distilled white vinegar (for cleaning) on it, I was too cheap to buy yet another form of vinegar. My husband questioned the apple cider vinegar I used and I reasoned that apples are red, and wine and cider are both made from fruit and sort of similar-ish. Also, the diced tomatoes we used were the canned fire-roasted kind. I actually had typed out the recipe here, and while I was at the end of the blog, typing out my sources in an APA-style bibliography, I started panicking about copyright laws and whether even a properly-cited recipe could be used in a blog. So, I deleted the recipe, but hopefully you can find the book in a library if you are interested in cooking it (I originally purchased the book when Borders was going out of business in 2011).

Other notes about this recipe: We were out of nonstick spray, so we just rubbed more olive oil in the bottom of the casserole dish. Also, instead of seasoning with salt and pepper, my husband seasoned his portion with additional Parmesan cheese. Also, I accidentally made it a little bit too runny by failing to drain the canned/jarred mushrooms I used (not a problem if you use fresh ones instead).

I enjoyed this dish. It was one of the 2 best tofu dishes I have tried at home, and my husband even gave it his seal of approval for me to cook it again sometime. Not sure if it was the Italian seasoning, the Parmesan cheese, the way most of the ingredients were first sauteed and later baked, or what, but the tofu had a good flavor, and with all the Italian flavors, we could pretend the chunks of tofu were chunks of cheese.

My other healthy recipe of the week comes from my old 4-H book, "Tasty Tidbits," the 1993 edition, from the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. The book is for ages 12 to 13 years old, so you know it is pretty easy if it was meant for middle schoolers to be able to cook. It was from an activity entitled, "It's So Easy," and was intended to teach young people how to make a one-dish meal for their families on the stove top. I nicknamed it, "Veggie Chili Mac," although in the recent incarnation we made of it, my husband suggested egg noodles instead of the whole grain macaroni I had previously used (even though a serving of egg noodles has 3 g fat and a serving of whole grain macaroni has 1.5 g fat). I almost went ahead and included the recipe, since I'm sure the book series has since been redone, and I don't even know if blogs existed back in 1993 (we sure didn't have Internet). But, the back cover of the book warns that permission must be granted before reproducing the material in processes, "now known or later developed," which I guess blogging would fall under.

If you do stumble across this recipe, here are some notes: We use olive oil as our oil of choice. We used the canned, diced, fire-roasted tomatoes in this one as well. We always include the green pepper, but I have been leaving out the celery. I am currently anti-celery after the last time we got it. My husband talked me out of getting the pre-cut kind, in order to save money, but the celery was so dirty, it took a LONG time to clean and slice it. We left out the optional mushrooms as well (I heart mushrooms, while my husband thought it would be weird in chili). When serving the dish, we serve it with whatever shredded cheese we have on hand, whether it is mozzarella, cheddar, or a blend of cheeses. There is no cheese featured in the photo below, as I had the (leftover) cup of chili with a peanut butter sandwich...a comfort meal that reminds me of chili day when I was a kid, but with the peanut butter adding extra fat, I left off the cheese. 

This is a basic recipe, and if you want to jazz it up more, you could add more chili powder or cheese. The pros are that it is simple, healthy, easy, and uses ingredients we typically have on hand.

Tonight I will be trying a ravioli lasagna recipe that I got out of a magazine or newspaper. With its estimated 24 g of fat per serving, it will not be included as a "healthy" recipe, even if it does feature spinach. But hey, I gotta splurge sometime :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2016 Goals

So the fitness goals are dependent upon what happens in the next month or so, as far as whether baby comes on time, whether there are any delivery complications, doctor's recommendations, etc., but here is what I would like for my journey back to fitness to include:

1. Healthy, natural delivery
2. Return to Irish dance by St. Patrick's Day
3. Return to feising by either Buckeye State Feis (April 23) or Peach State Feis (May 6 or 7)
4. Run the Disney Wine and Dine Half-Marathon in less than 2 hrs (November 5)
5. Compete in the Traditional Set dance competition at Oireachtas (first weekend in December?)

As a first-time mom, I am super-worried about #1, or what I call the exit plan. Pregnancy hasn't quite been like I'd imagined. I thought I would be one of those women that went for jogs at least through the 2nd trimester. Instead, I have gained nearly 45 lbs. so far, and the increasing weight of my belly, combined with the changes going on in my hips/pelvis, gave me too much joint pain when running on the treadmill (and living in a new area, in a city, I don't know of any local trails/running paths yet). I've been eating healthy, for the most part, consuming pretty much the same number of calories as before I was pregnant (I might accidentally be consuming more liquid calories, swapping out my caffeinated coffee with a little sugar for a glass of juice during pregnancy, and giving up artificially-sweetened Coke Zero in favor of Sierra Mist, sweet tea, juice, or caffeine-free Coke). Plus, I've gone from running 15-20 miles a week and spending 3.5 hrs a week in dance class, to 3-5 miles of walking a week and 2 hrs a week in a less-intense dance class. But, at the childbirth class, the instructor told me that sometimes rough pregnancies lead to easy deliveries, so I'm hopeful. I am thankful I have a healthy, active baby growing inside of me, but my body is ready to get back to normal.

As for #2, I have read online that many women with uncomplicated deliveries are given the okay to return to their usual activities after 6 weeks. But then just last night, I read online something about not returning to high-impact until 6-9 months after delivery! And one of my friends says she is waiting a year postpartum before returning to running! I guess I will see what my doctor says. I have had 2 doctors give me the okay to continue dancing (and running) as long as I feel comfortable and am careful during pregnancy, but I also don't want to wreck my body coming back too soon.

I'm worried about my hips/pelvis, too....I've gained 6 inches around my hips, and while some of it is cellulite, some of it is I think that my hips needed to widen to make room for baby. I still had 35 inch hips in my 30s, and had a heck of a time finding pants that fit. Misses pants were way too big, and many juniors pants just did not leave enough room for my muscular dancer/runner thighs and butt. While I would love to fit in my pre-pregnancy jeans again, I just want the sacroiliac and other joint pain to go away. I want to feel good running, and I would prefer to not have to completely re-learn all my Irish dance clicks again (earlier in the pregnancy, when I could still hop into the clicks, my heels were just not meeting each other like they used to).

3. So I mentioned the Peach State Feis to my dance teacher, and she thinks it is an achievable goal. She's referred to me as the most active pregnant dancer she's known (and apparently our adult class has had quite a few babies born to it over the years). While that makes me feel good, I was already 22 weeks pregnant when she met me. So meanwhile I am frustrated with how much less energy I already had by that point. I still go to class, even though I gave up jumping about 3 weeks ago. Last week I did the warm-up skips around the room, muddled through a ceili (even if the hop back 2, 3, 4s were hop-less), walked through my slip jig steps, and ran through St. Patrick's Day traditional set twice (minus the hopping). As I mentioned, I am at a different school in a different region, so I have had to learn new steps, and they seem stylistically diffferent than what I am used to. My last feis was in June, when I was 8 weeks pregnant (though I can count on 1 hand the number of people who knew about it besides me) and I still fit into my old school dress. Aside from missing my reel due to miscalculation of start time combined with not wanting to get out of bed (first trimester fatigue is no joke!), I had a pretty good feis. However, that was with my old school/old steps. Last time I switched schools (thanks to hubby's job), it took me 8 months to be ready to feis again, and that was without a pregnancy break, too. I know the 4 core dances (reel, slip jig, treble jig, and hornpipe), but it is a matter of committing them to memory and performing them well, even though I can pretty much just walk and talk through them for the next few months.

As for #4, I have been wanting to do the Disney Wine and Dine Half-Marathon for quite some time. My first half-marathon was at Disney (the 2011 Princess Run) and my only marathon was at Disney in 2013. Unlike those races, in which I had to wake up prior to 3 am to drive to the park before roads were closed, or catch the bus to the start line around 3:30 am, the Wine and Dine has a 10 pm start time, and includes an after-party at Epcot Center! My half-marathon times have all been in the 1 hour 53 minutes to 1 hour 58 minutes time range. Not sure if it is overly-ambitious to be back in that kind of shape by November, but by that time, it will be at least 9 months since I have given birth. 9 months pregnant and 9 months to bounce back, right?

#5 is a must for me. I came from a region where the only Oireachtas (regional championships) opportunities for adults were 8-hand competitions. So, unless you had 7 classmates who competed in the adult levels, were willing and able to travel over Thanksgiving vacation, and would commit to regular team practices, Oireachtas was not a possibility. At my first school, we did ceilis in class, but never team competitions, aside from 3-hands and 4-hands. At my second school, I was the only one who competed in the adult category. There was a traditional set dance competition for the "15 and over" age group, but since I couldn't drop down, I was never able to compete in 15 and over. Now I am in a region that offers 4-hand dances at Oireachtas for adults, as well as an adult Traditional Set competition. Even though Traditional Set is possibly my worst dance, I want to go to Oireachtas so badly that I will work on it. I've already done the St. Patrick's Day dance more in the past 2 or 3 months than I have in probably the preceding year. I would like to learn the Blackbird, though. It seems a bit more challenging, due to its hornpipe rhythm, and I have learned parts of it several times. Besides, it is needed for grade exams for Grade 6, which is the next one for me to take. I almost listed "pass Grade 6," as a goal, but I'm not sure where the grade exams are offered in my new region. Not sure if I would ever want to teach Irish dance (I have so many goals to still achieve as a dancer first), but I like taking the grade exams for the feedback and the sense of accomplishment. Plus, it gives me something to work towards, as I kind of don't have any competitive goals anymore. I reached the highest level I can obtain in the adult competition back in 2012 (2011 if you count that my old region only had 2 levels for adults instead of 3). My main competitive goal right now (outside of Oireachtas) is get back to where I was pre-pregnancy and do well enough to convince a teacher to let me dance in "and overs." And place 1st in the reel....Reel is one of my best dances, yet when I have 5 or more competitors in prizewinner or combined novice/prizewinner, something always goes wrong. I've got about 4 second places with 5 or more competitors and twice I missed the reel due to traffic or other factors. As for Oireachtas, I have never seen the adult traditional set competition there, and some feisanna I used to go to didn't even have adult traditional set competitions, so that, plus the fact that traditional set is my worst dance (my only one still in novice), means I don't know what is a realistic goal, other than go there and do my best.

Well, I have to get some things done before I head off to a childcare class at the hospital this evening, so I guess my adventures with tofu cacciatore will have to wait until next time. However, here's a preview of how it turned out...

It was actually one of the yummier tofu recipes I've tried at home!