A Blend of Life, Family, Awareness & Tales

Archive for April, 2012


Cage Fitness™, where do I start?

Well first of all, there is no cage.

As I have alluded to before, I am by no means a fitness authority. While I am active, I have never really enjoyed any organized exercise. I have taken part in several different classes over the years; pilates, yoga, a couple of different fitness boot camps, a short stint with Kung Fu and water aerobics. (I have to say I LOVED the water aerobics but the classes aren’t really convenient for me.) As a child and teen I worked with and rode horses every day. Hidden in day to day care and training for competition was exercise, but it was a benefit of riding, not the reason.

So much to my surprise, I took a trial Cage Fitness™ class at my daughter’s martial arts school and loved it. I loved every sweaty, exhausting 30 minutes of it. This class is perfect for me. We work out for five 5-minute rounds. Each round consists of about six different exercises, working the upper and lower body as well as your core. I work only with a grappling dummy, no partners (although my classmates are great!), and there is constant variety which keeps it very interesting. I have no experience with other locations, but our academy here in town has fabulous instruction that motivates me to work harder. Plus, if for no other reason you get to punch the dummy. Really. Hard.

This is the best part! Photo by Brandon Tracy

I will not go into the details. I am not a big enough expert to describe the exercises, and you really need to see or try the class to get the idea. But I will say that I have lost some pounds, I am stronger, and when I look in the mirror there is no doubt I am tightening up. When I started the class I felt very clumsy and self-conscious, but through practice and encouragement from both instructors and fellow classmates, I feel a bit more coordinated and confident.

So much harder than it looks. Photo by Brandon Tracy

Cage Fitness™ is just plain fantastic. If you live here in town, I highly recommend taking a free trial. If you don’t, check out here to see if there is a class near you.



Since my little girl was old enough to make friends I have been dreading the tear-filled conversation we were going to have when she wasn’t invited to an overnight party because of her diabetes. My concern that some Monday morning all of her classmates would be reminiscing about staying up all Saturday night, and then asking her why she wasn’t there.

Little did I know this was an unnecessary worry. My little girl is giggling in another room with eight other girls,watching movies and slowly settling to sleep. Little did I know how open and accommodating another family could be, allowing me to crash their party, eat their pizza and even sleep on their couch (and drink a little of their wine too!). I so appreciate the kindness of this family to not exclude our little girl just because it might have been difficult, just because they knew that I might have to tag along for the night.

Tonight’s act was one I might expect from family or my closest friend. While we know this family whose house I am in tonight, I am sure it is a bit uncomfortable having me stay in their living room! Tonight reminded me that our actions, no matter how simple, may have a profound effect on others. This family invited our daughter to a sleepover. I wonder what effect we can have on someone tomorrow?

Tears of Laughter.

Seriously, if you haven’t checked out Awkward Family Photos yet stop what you are doing and go there now.

So darn funny…

I'm kinda glad I am an only child!


For almost 12 years I have been in a love-hate relationship…

Shame on you for assuming I was talking about my husband. I am talking about Camelback, a little mountain with a big attitude.

My photo of Camelback as seen from the Taliesin Ridge in the McDowell Mountains.

Camelback Mountain has an elevation of 2700 feet. It looks like a giant camel resting in the middle of the Phoenix, Arizona metro area. It is an iconic symbol of the city and has become a bit of a fascination of mine. The hike itself is 1.2 miles long and has an elevation gain of nearly 1200 feet.  What this little mountain lacks in size, it makes up for with rough rocky trails, high temperatures much of the year, and a steep grade. I have heard the grade of the climb averages 40%, but don’t quote me on that because I simply heard it via word of mouth.

In the year 2000 I moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, days after my husband and I were married. He had lived there for two years already and I had become enamoured with the Southwest. We hiked many different places on the weekends, but it was a hot December day when we took on Camelback for the first time.

I am by no means a regular fitness kind of person (with the exception of Cage Fitness which I will talk about at a later date). I am more of a barrel-into-something-and-hope-for-the-best kind of gal. Cases in point, hiking the Grand Canyon(2 times), riding 150 mile charity rides(2 times), and numerous hikes on Camelback Mountain. All of these events were done with virtually no training on my part, because to repeat, regular fitness is not really my thing.

A friend asked if we wanted to hike Camelback. We said yes, and off we went to hike up the Echo Canyon trailhead. I had no idea what we were about to do. There were extremely steep climbs that made me fearful of how I would ever get down again.


There were boulders to climb and gravel to slip on. There was even wildlife that at first made me wary. But we hiked it, and hiked it again and again and again many times that year. I don’t think there was a time that we hiked Camelback that first year that I ever enjoyed hiking up.  Ever. Sometimes I cried, usually I gasped for breath, one time I even stumbled and hit the dirt. As I stood bleeding, I looked up and there were two nuns in full habits and hiking boots coming down the trail. For just a few seconds I was convinced I had died. We all said hello, then I kind of chuckled at myself and continued on.

Kinda rocky.

When we came back home to visit family, I told my relatives of our hikes on Camelback. My Grandpa shared a story with us that back in the late 1930’s he went on a trip across the U.S. and stopped in Phoenix for a while. He talked of camping by the orange groves and the open space at the foot of Camelback Mountain. When I hiked up I always tried to visualize where he camped, but now there is nothing but houses and resorts in every direction.

Orange groves and Camelback -This is what my Grandpa saw.
Click on photo for more information. (Photo courtesy of Salt River Project)

In 2001 we moved back near where we grew up, but have visited Arizona several times since. Two weeks ago my good friend and I went to Scottsdale for a long weekend. I wanted to show her where I used to live, we both wanted a getaway and we were able to stay with my parents which made the trip very affordable. (Thanks Mom & Dad!) We went hiking with my parents in the McDowell Mountains.  I was not aware of how fascinated I must be by Camelback until I was told,

“You’ve been talking so much about that mountain. Let’s just do it.”

So J. and I got up the next morning and did it. It was tough, I’m not going to say it wasn’t. But it was great to hike those rocks again. It was great to see again the characters that hike that mountain every day, some twice my age, passing me or passing me more that once. It was great to see that city again from high above, to share the camaraderie with a bunch of strangers who had just accomplished the same thing. And it was great to share it with a friend who can now maybe better understand my obsession with the collection of sandstone and granite that is Camelback Mountain.

Spring. (And a Seedling Update)

So… A couple of months ago I planted my daylily seeds. At the time only a couple of the seeds had germinated. It was cold out and there seemed to be no hope for Spring. At the time we didn’t know our Winter was just about over.

Spring sprung very early this year! The last weekend of February my husband and kids went ice fishing. Two weeks later the temperatures were in the 80s! For nearly a month we had mid-summer type temperatures. My daylily and annual seedlings moved outside and stayed there for weeks. The temps are more seasonal now, but yet I hear the lawnmowers outside. Though I moved the annual seedlings back in a week ago, the daylily seedlings are still outside. I plan to plant them Tuesday, the earliest I ever have.

The daylily seedlings look a little sad, but I can tell you they are tough. They have been through wind and rain and temps into the 30s. When I plant them in the garden, the leaves they currently have will more than likely shrivel and brown. In their place however will grow bigger, greener, stronger leaves. Hopefully in the summer of 2013 the first blooms from these plants will appear.

This early Spring allowed me to prune every shrub and clean up the garden all by March 15. We have been spoiled with a super short winter this year. If Mother Nature ever wants to treat us to this again, she has my vote!

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