Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wii Fit...A Poor Substitution for the Real Thing?

Web MD reviews the wii fit, and concludes:

If you're going to substitute giving your thumbs a workout with the Wii video games for a Wii exercise game, that's a good choice, in terms of actual activity and caloric expenditure," he says. "The hope [however] is that if we can engage people in trying some of these sports through Wii, we can entice them to try the real thing and get some real exercise.

According to the article linked above, many of the activities do not burn as many calories as doing the actual activity. I've been trying to decide if wii fit is a good way to stay in shape, or just a fun side activity.

The four areas are; balance, aerobics, strength training, and yoga.

The "balance exercises" are games, and I don't see any physical benefit to doing them, I haven't decided if doing them regularly will improve my balance or not.

The aerobics exercises start out very easy, but I think I'm in fairly decent shape to start with, the hula hoop has gotten more difficult as I've done it more, so perhaps the others would too.

The strength training has some exercises that I find challenging and some that I don't think do anything, since there are no weights to make them more difficult.

The yoga is probably my favorite. I've never done a lot of "real" yoga before, so maybe those who have wouldn't like it as much, I'm not sure, but I like how the balance board can tell you if you are holding the position the way that you should be.

My conclusion is that it should not replace all other physical activity. It won't replace a gym membership- it can not replicate weight training especially, which I think is critical for women especially to maintain bone density (can you tell I'm pretending to know what I'm talking about here?). It is fun though, and if that gets you off the couch (and in my case, away from the computer), it's a good thing.

There is a place on wii fit to enter in outside activities into your log, although short of having all your workouts logged in one place, I don't particularly see a benefit.

I'm still sore from hula hooping, and the jackknife challenge, so if muscle soreness is any indication of a good workout, It was one.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Passive Homes

My mom sent me the link to this article which I found fascinating. I've included about half of it below, there's also a website in the US where you can learn more about passive homes, Passive House.

DARMSTADT, Germany — From the outside, there is nothing unusual about the stylish new gray and orange row houses in the Kranichstein District, with wreaths on the doors and Christmas lights twinkling through a freezing drizzle. But these houses are part of a revolution in building design: There are no drafts, no cold tile floors, no snuggling under blankets until the furnace kicks in. There is, in fact, no furnace.

In Berthold Kaufmann’s home, there is, to be fair, one radiator for emergency backup in the living room — but it is not in use. Even on the coldest nights in central Germany, Mr. Kaufmann’s new “passive house” and others of this design get all the heat and hot water they need from the amount of energy that would be needed to run a hair dryer.

“You don’t think about temperature — the house just adjusts,” said Mr. Kaufmann, watching his 2-year-old daughter, dressed in a T-shirt, tuck into her sausage in the spacious living room, whose glass doors open to a patio. His new home uses about one-twentieth the heating energy of his parents’ home of roughly the same size, he said.

Architects in many countries, in attempts to meet new energy efficiency standards like the Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design standard in the United States, are designing homes with better insulation and high-efficiency appliances, as well as tapping into alternative sources of power, like solar panels and wind turbines.

The concept of the passive house, pioneered in this city of 140,000 outside Frankfurt, approaches the challenge from a different angle. Using ultrathick insulation and complex doors and windows, the architect engineers a home encased in an airtight shell, so that barely any heat escapes and barely any cold seeps in. That means a passive house can be warmed not only by the sun, but also by the heat from appliances and even from occupants’ bodies.

And in Germany, passive houses cost only about 5 to 7 percent more to build than conventional houses.

Decades ago, attempts at creating sealed solar-heated homes failed, because of stagnant air and mold. But new passive houses use an ingenious central ventilation system. The warm air going out passes side by side with clean, cold air coming in, exchanging heat with 90 percent efficiency.

“The myth before was that to be warm you had to have heating. Our goal is to create a warm house without energy demand,” said Wolfgang Hasper, an engineer at the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt. “This is not about wearing thick pullovers, turning the thermostat down and putting up with drafts. It’s about being comfortable with less energy input, and we do this by recycling heating.”

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hula Hoops

Some of my college roommates may recall my talent in hula hoop-ing. It's a gift, what can I say?

We got a wii from christmas (from everyone, to everyone- made shopping pretty easy), and I did a 6 minute hula hoop competition on the wii fit yesterday. My back muscles are so sore today.

I unlocked 10 minutes, so I'm going to do that tonight.

I still like the actual hula hoop better, but this counts how many rotations you get, which is fun. Plus, is amusing to watch people hula hoop without the actual hoop (watching with the hoop is fun also, but this is funnier).

I've done some of the ab exercises also, and those have made me quite sore as well. I'm not sure the wii fit would be the best thing if say, you're training for a marathon, but I think it's fun, and you can get a decent workout on it.

Monday, December 22, 2008


First, we painted the mudroom the darker of the two shades of green we have elsewhere in the house:

Then my Mister installed the supports for the bench:

Then he installed the bench seat:

Next he placed the verticals:

Then he put in the supports for the shelf, and the shelf:

And finally, he put in the cross pieces that will hold hooks for coats and backpacks:

He'll have to go back and fill the nail holes and repaint, and we have to find some hooks I like, then we'll have somewhere to put all the coats that are currently piled up on the bench. The brown thing is a little shelf/cubby thing we bought at ikea. After we had all the white stuff up I didn't want to put this back up- maybe we'll have to paint it- but it's great for holding car keys and cell phones and stuff like that.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Hunt

I came home from reading at J's school today and looked out the kitchen window. There was a hawk of some sort on the snow in the backyard. I ran upstairs to tell everyone else, and we watched out an upstairs window as it flew over the fence to the next yard. It had something small in it's claws and left a pile of feathers in our yard.

Later, I looked out the kitchen window again, and saw this:

The hawk sat on the fence all morning, but the one in the air was all over the open space, so I only saw it flying behind our house a couple of times.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Song of Prayer

A and I were driving today and I was listening to my favorite christmas CD, A said, "let's listen to the song that talks about prayer".

I was trying to figure out what song that might be, so I scrolled through the CD, and as each song started, he said, "nope, that's not it".

Finally I had him sing part of the song to me so I could figure out what christmas song he wanted.

He sang:

"Livin' on a prayer" by Bon Jovi

Friday, December 05, 2008

Learning new tricks

Taja, our dog (who is no longer the puppy she was in the picture at the top left of my blog) has finally learned to ring the little doorbell we put outside for her to tell us when she wants to come in. Prior to the doorbell, her method involved scratching the bejeebers out of the frame around the door. When my Mister and I first thought of a doorbell for her, we looked at the Doggie Doorbell (pictured here), but opted to get a regular doorbell with plug-in-chime-thing instead. It cost $5. The Doggie Doorbell cost $25.00 (plus shipping). The extra $20 (plus shipping) has cost us some repair work that we'll need to do to the frame around the back door which she has come close to scratching the bejeebers out of, but it's a moral victory- we didn't have to buy the extra large doorbell button for her to be able to press it. She does just fine with the human-sized one (except for when she knocks it over- we may have to mount it to something to keep it upright).

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The 12 Days of Turkey (almost)

Another reason to be thankful, dinners that just don't quit.

1- Thanksgiving Dinner
2- Turkey Sandwiches
3- Turkey Noodle Soup
4- Turkey and Broccoli Casserole
5- Turkey Tetrazzini
6- (This is where you pull the other half of the turkey out of the freezer) Mini Thanksgiving Dinner
7- More Turkey Sandwiches
8- More Turkey and Broccoli Casserole (every time I type that it comes out "casserold" must be freudian)
9- More Turkey Tetrazzini
10- If you still have leftover turkey, it's time to add it to the compost pile, because really, who can go 10 days eating turkey every night. (And next year buy a smaller turkey, leftovers are great, but really, don't get carried away... It's not appropriate to eat turkey from 2008 for Thanksgiving 2009.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

So This Is Christmas?

Several years ago my Mister bought Sarah Mclachlan's christmas album for me from itunes, I start listening to it the day after thanksgiving, and keep it in until spring. She sings John Lennon's Happy Xmas, and it's one of my favorite songs on the album, and I think despite the "secular" nature of the song, it really makes you think about what christmas is supposed to be about.
Today I read a good post atPoliticaLDS about how we have become so materialistic, and greedy. We've taken something that is supposed to be a time where we think about the birth of our savior and what that has meant in our lives and turned it into a shopping frenzy. I've cut back a little this year, but I still fall into the trap of, "oh, I just need to buy this one more thing". Christmas becomes a time where I buy the things I've been wanting all year long (for myself or other people) instead of a time to be grateful and content with the blessings that I have. Even in the do-gooding, we end up buying more stuff. It's a dilemma. It seems sad that a child would go without a new toy christmas morning, but there are children all over the world who go without food every morning.

Another interesting post I read on One Utah where in the comments they were discussing the ridiculousness of "Winter Oreos" when they should stop trying to be politically correct, and just call them Christmas Oreos (since I'm sure Jesus really appreciates specially colored oreos in his honor).

A Parenting Epiphany (again)

It seems like in parenting, I have to learn the same lesson over and over again. Thinking about my brothers post, which I linked to below, and to what I said about (my ideas on) God's ideas of crime and punishment, made me think about how we (people in general, and myself personally) approach disciplining our children.

Are we punishing them for crimes committed, or are we teaching them, correcting behavior that would ultimately cause them pain or difficulty in life? Sometimes kids break things, or are careless, and it's tempting to take out our anger on them, but does that teach them to be more careful in the future or does it just damage our relationship with them?

Here's a random picture of CP, who has discovered capes. He's constantly pulling the dishtowel from the front of the stove and holding it at the back of his neck so I'll tuck it into his shirt. He then runs around saying SooBee (Super Baby), which he got from me, the first time he had a cape on, I flew him around saying "Super Baby!".