Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mama Won't Leave You

I put creamer in Grace's sippy-cup and whole milk in my coffee.

Yep, one of those days.

Grace cried this morning when I dropped her off for play group and my "Mother's Morning Out." She was happy-go-lucky until we got to the steps, and then suddenly she couldn't stand on her own. Miss Emily and I shared a laugh as Grace clung to me, refusing to take off her shoes and wailing. The other parents stared.

Stop looking at me like that! 

What else could I do but laugh? It's kind of embarrassing, but also endearing.

She needs me, she really needs me. Don't worry, baby. Mama won't leave you...

I thought we were making progress. This is her third time going. I've already dealt with a Chihuahua with severe separation anxiety and lived to tell the tale. Not my baby girl, too! I want her to be a sweet outgoing, fun-loving little girl- not scared and shy hiding behind my skirt (or yoga pants, whatever the case may be).
Photo Credit
I know, I know, it's just a phase, things will get better and she'll get used to it. Right?

Confession: I snuck away while Grace was distracted by a tub full of Little People toys. Not even a kiss goodbye.

Ok, so maybe Mama will leave you, but I'll be back. Promise.

She will probably tell her therapist about this in 20 years. Poor baby!

Also, are you supposed to pull out gray hairs, or will 10 more grow back in their place? Just know...for a friend...
Photo Credit

Mama’s Losin’ It
Writing prompt from Mama Kat:
Incorporate the phrase "stop looking at me like that" into your post.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Curse You, Teeth

I hate teeth. 

Even if I put aside my extreme dislike for dentists and their pointy picks and judgey ways, teeth are just weird! Have you ever had a dream about losing all of your teeth or waking up with a mouth full of jagged edged broken teeth? (Shudder) I have. Add in that teeth are the "root" (hehe) of Grace's recent distress, and I'm one teeth-hatin' mama bear!  Her pearly whites are taking their sweet time to come in, meanwhile Grace is a red-cheeked puddle of drool, snot and tears. Her gums are angry and she whimpers in her sleep (when she does sleep) all night long.

Smiling through the pain. 
Ask any mom about teething, and I'm sure her experience will be different with each child. Honestly, Grace's first couple of teeth came in with little fan fare. I thought I was going to dodge the teething bullet, but no such luck. Basically all of the symptoms of teething are the same as the symptoms of a flu/cold. (Runny nose, fever, coughing, restlessness, crankiness, not eating/nursing, watery eyes, drooling, crying...) Teething is the usual suspect blamed if your child is experiencing any discomfort or unusual behavior. I swear. "Oh, she's walking funny? It's probably just teething!" Everything seems to be caused by teething.
"These are my teeth." 

No offense to all of you "teeth" enthusiasts, I'm sure my feelings will subside when Grace finally grows a permanent set. That should be about 15 years from now, right around the time some stuck up Orthodontist will recommend $15,000 worth of braces and head gear. I'll start saving, but until then, we're hanging in there with a lot of tylenol, frozen yogurt and baby carrots. Any other suggestions, witch craft or voodoo magic?
Chompers in the snow! Icing her gums, perhaps?
Soon enough I'll be playing tooth fairy, right?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

AFAA Primary Group Exercise Certification Study Guide

This is probably way too much information, but I thought I would detail my experience studying for and passing (YAY!) the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America's Primary Group Exercise Certification.

I found some great resources online that helped me study and gave me a good idea of what to expect. Go here, here and here to read some other people's experiences on their blogs. Also check out this write-up from Nutrition Nut on the Run. Obviously a lot has been written about successfully preparing for this test, but since words are free and knowledge is power, I'll throw in my two cents, too. If this is helpful to anyone or helps inspire someone to earn their certification, then it's worth it!

Photo credit
First, I originally signed up with AFAA to take the APEX course which is a day long program offered at a special price of $99. However, because of some last minute family plans, I ended up transferring to the online course, which was $299. The only upside to taking the online course was I didn't have to drive to Raleigh on a Saturday, and I found out my results immediately.

I didn't attend the workshop, but from what I heard/read, the workshop is tailored to helping participants pass the exams. If you filled out the study guide and prepared for the demonstrations prior to the class, you should be fine. It sounds like the instructors go over the study guide, and specifically talk about what is going to be on the multiple choice test taken at the end of the workshop. They also practice doing appropriate exercises and stretches for the group portion. With the online class, all you have are the online videos and the study guide to go off of. I felt like I probably didn't have quite as much guidance as I would have at the workshop. If you like to ask a lot of questions and learn better face-to-face, then I would definitely suggest the workshop instead of the online course.

The E-course Includes:
    • 14 video lectures 
    • Primary Group Exercise Certification Study Guide
    • Sample multiple-choice test questions
    • 1 Multitraining Live study session
    • Monitored written and practical examinations
    • 1 year AFAA membership with magazine subscription
    • AFAA Certified Primary Group Exercise Instructor wall certificate and ID card
    Other Requirements:
    • CPR/AED certification is required before your PGE Certification is issued (Read about becoming a Citizen Responder)
    • Submit signed AFAA Release forms
    • 18 or older
    • A reliable computer with high speed internet, a webcam and microphone
    • Spare time to study (preferably without a toddler trying to "help" you)
    • A love for fitness 
    A Good Idea, but Not Required:
    • Fitness: theory and Practice 2010 textbook ($69)
    • Exercise Standards & Guidelines Reference Manual ($39)
    • The Practical Way DVD ($20)

    Study, Study, Study
    I registered for the certification about 2 months before the original exam and workshop date. I think this gave me plenty of time to go through the textbook and completely fill out the study guide. My study guide ended up being about 33 pages typed, but it felt good knowing I had all of the information compiled in one place. Take your time and try to really understand the concepts from the study guide. I used the app Flashcard Machine to transfer all of the main tidbits from my study guide onto easy-to-study cards that I could look at right on my iPhone.

    I also spent some time studying the Musculoskeletal System and learning the primary muscles. I copied the image of the muscle man, whited out and numbered the titles and then had my hubbins test me.

    Quick, how many bones are in the human body?
    Photo credit
    Luckily, I also had the advantage of getting some study and test prep tips from two friends who just recently completed their certification. It's nice to hear straight from someone what the experience is like and what to expect. Thanks Gia and Becky! You are both some rockin' hot mamas!

    Written Exam 
    Make sure you schedule the written exam before the practical exam. This has to be scheduled online through a third party online proctoring service. The proctor will watch you take your test through your webcam and take control of your desktop to make sure no other windows are open while you take the test. They will ask you to do a scan of the work space and hold up your driver's license. You will have 60 minutes and there are 100 multiple choice questions on the test. In order to pass, you must get at least 80% correct. 

    Sample test questions:

    When performing a squat, during the concentric contraction, _______________ occurs.
    a. hip extension
    b. ankle dorsiflexion
    c. knee flexion
    d. spinal extension
    * answer- a

    What form of exercise is designed to achieve maximum muscular involvement?
    a. Intermittent training
    b. Variable resistance
    c. Myofascial release
    d. Dynamic plyometrics
    * answer- b
    These questions belong to AFAA, and are not my property. 

    I felt pretty confident going into the test, but it's still easy to get nervous and start second-guessing your self. If you are taking the test online, my one piece of advice would be to "skip" any questions you are not completely sure about. If you "skip" the question, you can go back to it at the end of the test, (as long as you still have time). However, if you "submit" the answer to the question, you are not able to go back and change your answer. 

    You will find out if you passed as soon as you click the last "submit" button on the test. Good luck!

    Practical Exam 
    Please keep in mind, these are just my opinions and what worked for me. Of course, you should study, watch the videos and attend the live study session. The practical exam also has to be scheduled with an instructor who will watch you via the webcam. I have to admit it was a little awkward/creepy doing exercises for a stranger on a webcam (on Valentine's Day to boot)! I could also see the other participant who was testing at the same time. She was more Zumba focused, so her moves looked way different than mine!

    There are 2 parts: Group Demonstration and Individual Presentation.

    1. Group Demonstration
    Within the group demonstration you will perform an 8 minute Warm-up/Cardio/Cool Down. It is broken down into a 3 minute warm-up, 4 minute cardio session, and 1 minute cool down. Focus on incorporating at least 3 different moves into the warm up, starting with lower intensity moves and gradually increasing the intensity until you begin the cardio segment. You don't have to lead this portion of the class or speak, just perform the moves.

    This part feels pretty strange to do in front of the examiner on a webcam! I suggest going into it knowing 3-5 movements you plan to do and then add elements as you go along. Also, you are being graded on your ability to stay on beat to the music the examiner is playing. I am embarrassed to admit I actually googled 130 bpm and practiced, because my rhythm is not quite up to Beyonce standard! While you're there, you can also watch some videos of sample warm up, cardio and cool down moves.

    I experienced some technical difficulty during the practical. The sound on my computer was going in and out! AHH! This made it really hard to stay on beat, and I think I missed some of the instructions. I just kept moving the whole time. The examiner ended up calling me on my cell phone half way through the practical, so that I could actually hear her instructions. I guess this is just the risk associated with the online course and dealing with technology. Stressful, but everything turned out ok!

    This is what I did for the cardio portion of the practical exam:

    Warm-up (3 minutes)
    (I just kept repeating these movements until the time was up, increasing the intensity as I went.)
    • March in place
    • Shoulder rolls (forward and backwards)
    • Arm circles (forward and backwards)
    • Heel digs with bicep curls
    • Side step
    • Reach and pull across body
    • High knee pulls
    Cardio (4 minutes)
    (Again, repeat the movements until time is up. Keep it simple and focus on good form and safety. If you get stuck, just keep moving. Do a grapevine or jumping jacks for 16 counts until you remember your plan.)
    • Jog in place --> High knees
    • Boxer shuffle--> High low punches
    • Squats --> Squats with hamstring curl
    • Jumping Jacks --> High knee kicks
    Cool Down (1 minute)
    (This is the shortest segment, and all you really need to do is make sure you are bringing down your heart rate and lowering the intensity.)
    • Heel digs with bicep curl
    • Hamstring curl
    • March in place with arm circles
    • March in place

    Strength and Flexibility examples for 10 different muscle groups. (2 exercises for each muscle the examiner instructs and 1 stretch)
    1. Pectorals
    2. Trapezius, Rhomboids, and/r latissimus dorsi
    3. Deltoids
    4. Biceps and/or Triceps
    5. Hip Abductors and/or Adductors
    6. Gluteus Maximus
    7. Quadriceps and/or Tibialis Anterior
    8. Hamstrings and/or Gastrocnemius/Soleus
    9. Rectus Abdominal and/or Obliques
    10. Erector Spinae
    I went into the practical knowing exactly which exercises and stretches I was going to do for each muscle. I practiced in front of the mirror and made sure my form was correct. Again, everything I read said to keep your choices simple. This is for Group Exercise Certification, so in general, the moves need to be ones that most people could perform in a group fitness class.

    The examiner will say, "Please show a strength exercise for the Pectorals." At this point you will start doing your first Pec exercise for about 15 seconds. Then the examiner will ask for a second Pectoral exercise, so you'll switch into a different exercise in which your Pecs are the prime mover. Finally, the examiner will say, "Please show a flexibility exercise for you Pectorals." Yep, you got it, now you switch to a move that stretches your Pecs. This will continue until you've performed 2 strength and 1 flexibility exercise for each of the 10 muscle groups above. 

    2. Individual Presentation

    The Individual Presentation is the only portion you have to actually lead on your own. The examiner will tell you to begin, and you will have 1-2 minutes to teach a mock class an exercise or pattern of your choice. You can choose a cardiorespiratory pattern, muscle strength, or flexibility exercise.
    • Introduce yourself, showing enthusiasm and proper voice projection
    • Explain the exercise you will be demonstrating
    • Explain which muscles will be involved
    • Give proper alignment, movement and safety cues
    • Be sure to show 3 levels of intensity
    I chose to demonstrate a hip bridge. Here is what I said:

    "Hi, I'm Allison. Today we're going to be doing a hip bridge which is a stability exercise done in the supine position. This exercise will work your hamstrings, gluteus maximus and erector spinae. So to get started, lets get down on the floor in the supine position. Great. Your knees should be bent with your heels on the floor, and palms down at your side. Keep your head, neck and spine in neutral alignment, push through the heel and press your hips up. This is level one. You should feel your glutes engaged and your shoulders are stable. If you want to take it to level 2, raise your arms up towards the ceiling. This makes it more challenging to stabilize since less of your body is on the ground. Continue to breath and maintain that neutral alignment through your head, neck and spine. Great. If you want a further challenge, for level 3 we'll raise the left foot off of the ground. Keep your knees close together and push through the right heel, so you feel your glutes engaged. Don't forget that neutral alignment of your spine and remember to breath. Feel free to take it back down to level 1 or 2 if level 3 feels too challenging and you can't maintain proper alignment."

    This part made me really nervous, but honestly, it went by really quickly. Practice your presentation and make sure you can get in all 3 levels within the 2 minute time limit. The examiner won't tell you if you passed or not at the end of the practical. You should receive an email within 1-2 days.

    Whew! That was a lot! Sorry if that seemed to go on and on and on! I hope some people find this information to be helpful if you are considering taking the Primary Group Exercise Certification. I am so thrilled to have successfully passed, and I am excited to begin this next step as a Stroller Strides Instructor. Let me know if you have any questions!

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

    When I Grow Up

    What do you want to be when you grow up?

    During my teenage years, my answer was always, "An anchor woman, like Katie Couric. Except, of course, they would say, ...and now back to Allison Remillard in the studio." (Remillard is my maiden name.)

    That career goal steered my choices in college as I settled into a journalism major. Then I started hearing that broadcast journalism was a tough road, and the jobs of the future (the real money-makers) were in advertising and PR. So I changed my emphasis and explored a different field of journalism through internships, classes and eventually my first official job at an agency.

    Fast forward three years from then, and I'm a stay-at-home mom and a military spouse living on the other side of the country. Is this what I wanted to be when I grew up? 

    Trick question.

    Maybe I'm not grown up yet? Hmmm, when you pay all of your own bills, use your car blinkers religiously and dust your ceiling fans you're probably a grown up.

    I think the real answer is that you don't have to be any one thing. You can be one thing and then another or a lot of different things at once. For now I'm feeling lucky to be Grace's mom, but I still like learning and exploring things that make me excited.

    This month, in addition to studying for my AFAA Group Fitness Certification, I also enrolled in an online digital photography class. The Groupon was a great deal (aren't they all), and I really want to learn how to take better pictures with my camera (not in auto).

    The first week was all about learning White Balance and ISO.

    ISO is one of the ways you help your camera understand the lighting conditions you are shooting in. The higher the number, the less light you're shooting in.
    (100, 200, 400, 800, 1600) 

    White Balance is how your camera balances the colors in your photo by pinpointing the white color.
    (Sunny, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten light, White Fluorescent light, Flash)

    My week 1 assignment was to practice shooting in Program Mode (P) and setting my ISO and White Balance correctly. I also got to submit one photo.

    Week 1 Photography Assignment
    I choose this photo because I really liked the soft light and the sun reflecting in Grace's hair.  I like that with photography, you decide what is a "good picture" and there is room for different interpretations.

    Honestly though, I don't know what's harder, learning to use my camera or trying to photograph a toddler. Thank goodness I'm not shooting with film! Delete, delete, delete. 

    Maybe when I grow up I'll be a professional hobbyist/arts and crafter? Or a full-time student of cool things?

    For now, I'm perfectly happy being a mom and a wife. I have important work to do, and ceiling fans to clean. Wink, wink!