Sunday, June 29, 2014

Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga

Update: The company I did this with has moved to Daytona, FL.
Today I tried Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga. I am officially insane.

It was offered through Yogini SUP Adventures.
Their facebook page is here.
Their webpage is here.

Today's 2-hour adventure took place at Lake Brandt. I had never been on a stand up paddleboard, but I had been wanting to. It looks like a surfboard. I was very nervous and thought it would be more stable because the board is so large. But you have to be very aware of your movements at all times. It can be very easy to get disoriented and fall in.

We paddled for a long time out to a quiet corner of the lake. My feet actually started to hurt pretty bad, so I was glad when we finally got in place, dropped anchor and sat down.

You need to be familiar with yoga before you do this. She names off poses and goes very quickly so if you don't know them, you'll have a difficult time trying to watch people, copy the pose AND stay balanced on your board.

I started doing yoga about 12 years ago. I took some group classes at the YMCA 

We did standing flow poses and just going from a seated to a standing position is difficult. We did back and core strengtheners, warrior poses and lots of vinyasa flows (upward facing dog feels so good!). Sometimes while on all fours we had to lift a leg off the board...sometimes both an arm and a leg. 

The two most difficult parts were the warrior poses (because of the difficulty in getting into the proper position while maintaining balance) and tree pose. 
SUP Warrior Pose

When she said we were going to do tree pose I about freaked. I said there's no way I can balance on one foot on this board. But our tree poses consisted of getting our feet to the middle of the board, slightly lifting one foot off the board and resting the lifted foot's heel on the stable foot's ankle. Seems silly on land, but on the SUP it was extremely difficult.
Looks like this but we didn't have our paddles to stabilize us
I managed to not fall in, even at the end when I was coasting onto shore and hit a rock. I don't know how I maintained my balance, but I did. Luckily it's a sturdy board. (YOLO brand)

As I sit here, sore all over (but mostly in the shoulder/back area) I am glad that I tried out such a difficult activity. It was actually much harder than I thought it would be, but I enjoyed it. I definitely recommend Yogini SUP Adventures to someone that enjoys yoga and wants to expand their practice, or someone who just wants to try something new (but still has some yoga experience)! It was only $20, which is only a little more than a land-lubber's yoga class.

Can't do yoga? They also offer guided SUP tours as well as SUP meditation. Your child can even ride on your SUP with you!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Agility Workshop: Foundations & Fun Tricks

Buster and I are serious about Agility so when we saw his instructor at Dog-Gone Fun was offering a 2-hour workshop for beginners, we signed up real quick.

There were two other people in the workshop, both of whom had more experience than us, but we held our own.

We worked on handling (directing our dogs with our hands) as well as accelerating and decelerating. We get into a runner's stance, leaning forward with legs apart and bent, and this is the body signal to let your dog know to accelerate. Then we stand upright with legs together to signal deceleration.

When it came time to having our dogs back up onto an incline Buster fell apart. He refuses to back up straight, or to get on that incline. We ended up having to put barriers on both sides of him so he couldn't curve his body. Eventually his back feet made contact with the incline.
We've been practicing this on the stairs at my house. It's a little difficult because of how little space there is. But he's put his back feet up on the stairs, although not consistently. He seems very stressed when we try to practice it, too. His ears go down and he wants to get away. We'll see how he progresses.

Not Buster but an incredible likeness

We also did some exercises where our dogs had to step onto a paint can and into a box. Eventually our dogs should put both front paws on the paint cans and then step in a circle around it, as well as putting all 4 feet into a small cardboard box.

This workshop has given us a lot to work on. We're progressing very slowly in Pre-Agility and doing things Buster and I can't practice at home, so we're glad to have more things to work on. The goal of the workshop was to teach our dogs body awareness and conditioning.

I also told the instructor that we are serious about competing and she said that it takes at least a year. I told her we were interested in participating in the Triad Dog Games next year. We have a lot to work on in that year, though. But Buster and I worked hard and excelled at obedience and we will work hard and excel at this.

With some equipment at home to practice on we will definitely progress faster. Check my other blog posts for instructions on DIY agility equipment.

Pre-Agility: Week 3

For week 1 click here.
For week 2 click here.
We missed last week because of weather, but this week the weather was great, although hot.

We worked on the chute again. Buster had trouble remembering what to do at first. But after we showed him, he RAN through the chute as fast as he could.

Then we did the tire again. First I put him on one side, stood on the other side and called him through. But then I stood next to Buster and ran with him and tried to signal for him to go through the tire. He went around the obstacle, not through it. After some work we got him through.

Then we did some more 2-on-2-off work on the obstacle, which Buster excelled at because we were able to practice that.

example of 2-on-2-off
I think it's time I attempt to make some backyard equipment so Buster can practice at home. More posts on that later!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

PTA Acceptance

I first decided to begin the journey of getting into Physical Therapy Assisting school at GTCC in the summer of 2011. My friend, Lauren, became a CNA and encouraged me to get into the medical field. We looked at what GTCC offered and since I'm queasy about blood, needles, and bodily fluids, I chose physical therapy assisting. I wish I had a better story, like it was my childhood dream or some traumatic event happened and I decided to make a difference. But no, I wanted a secure job that will allow me to be self sufficient.

I underestimated how difficult it would be to get into the program. Having a Bachelor's Degree in Classical Civilizations from UNCG, I had most of the requirements. I took Developmental Psychology, Personal Communications, both online, and the two harder classes: Physics and Anatomy.

I started first with Anatomy and Physiology 1 in Fall 2011. I thought the hardest class I would ever take was Historical Linguistics I took at UNCG my last semester. (We had to recreate languages that may or may not have existed based on what we knew about language patterns...oh and write a 10-page paper). I was wrong. Anatomy is the hardest class you will ever take. I learned it, too late.
So I took Anatomy 1 and somehow managed a B without learning anything. Anatomy 2 was another story.
I ended up taking Anatomy 1 twice and Anatomy 2 three times. GTCC is the hardest place you can take Anatomy, and I learned it too late. You have to take Anatomy 1 & 2 at the same school. After I only managed Bs in both, I decided to start all over at Randolph Community College in Asheboro. It was a 40 min commute and I drove down there 3 times a week (10:30a on M & F and 8a on W) for 2 semesters. I got a 104 in Anatomy 1 and a 105 in Anatomy 2. The class was SO much easier. That's not to say I didn't work hard. I did. But it was just SO MUCH EASIER.

I took Physics Spring 2013. I actually forgot to pay for my class (first time it ever happened) and I got dropped. The only class available after I found out was on Saturdays. So I sacrificed my Saturday afternoons for 5 months to take Physics, which was a bitch. But I managed to make As in the lecture and lab and was on my way!

After getting As in all my required classes the only thing left to tackle was the TEAS test (Test of Essential Academic Skills). It tests your knowledge of reading comprehension, grammar, math (mostly arithmetic and algebra), chemistry, biology, anatomy, etc. I worried about that test for about 7 months. I bought study material and went through most of it. I purchased the online practice tests for $40. I made a 70 on the practice test. I needed an 86.
It was coming down to the deadline for applying (June 5) so on June 2 I said "what the hell...I can take it twice in 2 months. I'll go take it today and if I do badly, I'll study and take it again June 4." So I sucked it up, went and took the test and when I finished I saw the score "64"...and my stomach dropped. But then I realized that was the national average and right above it was my score: 86.7. I said to myself "That's too good to be true. It can't be right." I went and checked out of the testing center and the woman said "You made an 86.7". I almost started crying. I was shaking I was so happy. I immediately went and applied to the program.

A week later an envelope arrives at my parent's house. I get there the next day and open it up. I read one word "Congratulations", then stop reading and start screaming and jumping up and down. My mom comes over to me and I hug her and start crying tears of joy. It finally happened.
I got accepted into PTA school!
So I start calling and texting everyone who had been part of my journey. It still feels surreal. I dreamed of this for so long and's finally happening.

I already sent in an email accepting my seat, one of only 24 in the program. I have to sign up for a mandatory orientation session. There's 2 options and both are during the day: Tuesday, July 1 @ 9-11:30a or Wednesday, July 2 @ 2-4:30. I hate that I have to ask off work for one of those.

Then all that's left is getting financial aid, which still hasn't come through, even though I applied for it at GTCC in January. Because I have a Bachelor's Degree, I can only get loans from a community college, no free money. I will not be working while I'm in school, so I have to get a private student loan from the bank as well to cover living expenses.
I am beyond happy right now and can not WAIT to begin this journey. I feel like my life is complete now.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pre-Agility: Week 2

Week 1
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6

The weather held out so we had agility class tonight at Dog-Gone Fun in Kernersville.

We did some review with the tunnel. Buster didn't do as well as he should have because I didn't give the right signals. But he did go through it enthusiastically once he knew that's what I wanted and that's what counts, that he has fun.

Today we were introduced to the tire and the chute.
Agility Tire

Agility chute

The tire was lowered until it was barely off the ground. So I just put Buster in a sit-wait, walked to the other side of the tire and called him through. Again, he came to me enthusiastically.

I thought the chute might be scary, afterall, it's closed at one end. You can't see where you're going. But we put our dogs on one end, then went over, lifted the chute up so they could see us and called them through. Buster came right through and even when the chute was down on the ground (as pictured above) he ran through it blindly. I was so proud of him. My baby is fearless!

We ended by doing some contact work on the A-Frame. It's important that their paws touch certain parts of the equipment for safety and so they don't get disqualified.
As we started this, a light rain started, so we hurried through and went on our way.

Before we left, Buster and I signed up for an Agility Foundations Workshop. It's 2 hours and we'll learn "backing up/backing onto an object, step onto/circle an object, beginning shadow handling, flat work, acceleration & deceleration." I hope this will help us advance faster and give us an edge. My goal is to participate in the June 2015 Triad Dog Games.

(Buster already knows the command "back up"; we learned it the last day of Advanced Obedience. We practice that one a lot. It's very useful.)

There's a lot about agility that confuses me. Some of the terminology is confusing, especially regarding cross-overs and handling and whatnot. When I was at the Triad Dog Games I saw teams go on some equipment more than once during their run. There was a confusing mixed-up pathway. Why is it all mixed up? Does someone give the participants specific instructions about what path to take in the course?
The description for the Agility 2 class at Buster's school says: " Handlers and dogs will learn how to maneuver serpentines, threadles, wraps, 270′s, lead out pivot’s/reverse flow pivots and layering of obstacles. " I don't understand ANYTHING in that sentence. (I'm sure I'm gonna read this post in the future and think I was dumb for being confused.)

Stayed tuned for Week 3 (halfway done) next week, if the weather holds. Hope there's no midterms!

Richmond, VA

A friend of mine, Analise, moved to Richmond, VA recently. She put herself through college and graduated from UNCW and intends to go to VCU for a Master's in Social Work. So proud of her!

She graciously allowed me to come visit her and showed me around. I arrived about 1:30p on Sunday June 8. Brought my stuff in and we went out to lunch at City Dogs on E. Cary St. I liked their fries and shake but was not impressed with their dog. It was actually one of the worst dogs I'd ever had. Go figure!

Then we walked around downtown and I learned there is a river running through the city: the James River. Who knew?! I wanted to take the Canal Cruise, but Analise wasn't interested, so we strolled.

Riverfront Canal Cruise
Later that evening, we went to one of the top ten doughnut shops in the country, Sugar Shack. We showed up about 5 minutes before closing and each asked for 2 doughnuts. The lovely employee said "It's almost closing, I'll just fill in the rest and give you a dozen." So we got 6 free doughnuts. Their maple doughnut is TO DIE FOR and I don't even like doughnuts that much.

These were gone 2 days later

Monday we did some geocaching. We went to Hollywood Cemetery.
The first geocache we tried for required we go visit a specific grave, gather some information and then use it  to go to the final stage to find the actual cache, which we eventually found.
The first cache site

The little girl buried by this dog loved this statue so much, her grandfather bought it for her. When she died of scarlet fever, he put it by her grave to prevent it being melted down for metal during the Civil War.

We continued our walk through the cemetery and stopped by Jefferson Davis' statue.
Our poses were supposed to match. I didn't angle myself right.

Then we moved to the trails past the cemetery to find the next cache at Texas Beach. Analise had heard about this place, even written it down, but had never been. We learned a lot on this hike. It was a very, very long hike. There were not clear markings from the cemetery to the Beach so we actually went much further than we needed to. We ended up in a parking lot, but that lot had a map. So we jumped on another trail that crossed paths with the other, then went up and across a large metal bridge.

We saw a truck driving on the train tracks, without tires, as we descended the many, many stairs. But FINALLY, we arrived at Texas Beach and made a quick find of the cache.

The beautiful Texas Beach

We soaked our feet in the James River and made our way back, which took longer than expected after a shortcut proved unsuccessful and we had to double back. But eventually we made it to the car and off to dinner at The Galaxy Diner, which was DELICIOUS. Highly recommend!

Tuesday we made some homemade cinnamon rolls and then went to the Edgar Allan Poe Museum.
Poe statue in the garden
We saw Poe's writing desk. The back of the chair is cut to encourage Poe to sit up straight.

Poe's Writing Desk

And then we took a final picture in the gift shop amongst the ravens.

I stopped off at the Sugar Shack again to pick up another half-dozen of doughnuts to bring back to my dad to thank him for watching my dog, Buster.

Clockwise from top L: Caramel drizzled cinnamon bun, chocolate glazed, oreo crumble strawberry glazed, salted caramel, original glaze, salted caramel

I had a ton of fun in Richmond. I hope to make another trip up there in the future and then continue on with Analise to DC and Baltimore, Maryland. 

Burlesque at The Idiot Box

Some friends and I went to the Burlesque show put on by Vaudeville After Dark at The Idiot Box Saturday night (June 7) at 11:30. I had never seen any burlesque before. When I think of burlesque I think of a girl inside a giant martini glass and Dita Von Teese.

Dita + martini glass = Burlesque
That was not what we got, but it was just as good. There were several female performers but it was really the men that stole the show. There was a definite comedy element to the show. The first song was "Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer and part-way through the dance a man in a jalapeƱo costume bursts out from the curtain and joins in. The audience exploded in laughter.

A team called The Brouhaha Revue came on and did a choreographed routine to Vogue and later did Thriller. AMAZING!

As someone who is extremely self conscious, it was refreshing to see people up on stage with all different bodies totally comfortable showing them off, flaws and all. I wished I could have that confidence.

The show was a riot and a very fun experience. It will definitely become a regular girls night. The first Saturday of every month at 11:30 at The Idiot Box. $10 admissions fee. They serve a bottles of beer and Mike's Hard Lemonade.

About to enjoy some Burlesque

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Triad Dog Games

I went to the Triad Dog Games today. It was supposed to start at 10am, but the time got moved to 3pm because of Maya Angelou's funeral down the street that morning.

Buster's agility instructor was there running all things agility. (I knew we picked a good instructor!) I had never seen an agility competition in person and wanted to see what it was like.

First we watched the small dogs compete (pictured above) then the large dogs. I was more interested in the large dogs because that's what my dog would be competing as. There was a Golden Retriever, Goldendoodle and Border Collie. Of course the Border Collie was amazing. They excel at all things agility.

We're going to talk to Buster's agility instructor (pictured right, above) about the possibility of Buster being ready to enter a competition next year. This one is pretty informal and open to everyone, but we want to be in it to win it.

Buster's swim instructor was there with her dog as a competitor in dock diving, but we didn't stay late enough to see her dog compete. We did see some dock diving though and it was awesome. I would love to have Buster involved in this, but it's just not meant to be. He doesn't like water or toys enough to dive after one.

I was surprised at the amount of dogs that refused to jump. This competition was pretty informal and open to anyone, so I'm guessing it was many of these dogs' first time competing.

But other dogs...they flew out there. Almost 2 foot jumps with huge splashes. So much fun to watch.

The only thing I didn't get to see that I would have liked to was the Disc Dog. Never seen anyone do it in person and they had a demo, but it was at the same time as agility, so we missed it.

There was lots of swag. We got a very cool card that hangs in your car and changes colors if it's too hot to leave your dog in there.
Buster got a bandana, too.
Styling in our RuffHousing bandana.

Looking forward to next years games and possibly being competitors in it.

Swimming at Creekside Canines

I've always wondered if my dog, Buster, would enjoy swimming. So when I found out there were local doggy swim lessons I was ALL over it.

We went to Creekside Canines in Kernersville. You can rent the pool for $10/half hr. But first you have to take a $25/dog swimming safety class or a $50/half hr private swim lesson. I opted to book a private swim lesson and split the cost with a friend.

Both of our dogs had to wear a life jacket.
What have you gotten me into, Mom?
Then the instructor helps your dog build confidence, focusing on entrances and exits on the pool steps. The dog that went with us is part lab and has been swimming before. He only needed a little coaxing to get off the steps and then he was like a fish swimming around, having a blast.

Buster wasn't so sure.

I brought his high-value treats (baked chicken & sausage & scrambled eggs) and we slowly coaxed him into the pool.

2 paws in!

All 4 paws in!
Once we got him all in, we pulled him in a little. When his feet left those steps he just went down, his little head went under and I was very thankful for that life jacket. I put my hands underneath him to hold him up and at first he didn't do anything. Then he started doggy paddling and we got him to around a little bit.

But the point of the lesson is to build confidence so we quickly brought him back to the steps so he could understand that there is an easy exit.

After that, he just wanted to sit at the pool steps and get treats. His swimming buddy was jumping in, splashing around and having a blast. In the end, we got him to put his two paws back in and we ended on a good note.

"I know what happens when I put all my paws in....2 paws in is all you're getting now, Mom!"
The instructor said he had potential, since we were able to get his 2 paws in again. She suggested we try a lake or river so he could easily walk in and out. We had done that once before, but I couldn't let him go out very far because of the current and I wasn't prepared to swim with him.

I'm going to purchase a life jacket and then we're gonna find a natural body of water to practice our swimming together.

Pre-Agility at Dog-Gone Fun: Week 1

Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6

My dog, Buster, completed Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced obedience courses and got his diploma! He also passed his Canine Good Citizen test. (Have to wait for the certificate to be mailed).
Summa Cum Laude!
So the next stop on our journey is Agility! (It was a New Year's Resolution.) I chose to take him to Dog-Gone Fun in Kernersville. They offer several Agility courses starting with Pre-Agility.

It's very important that your dog be proficient in sit-stay and down-stay in a distracting environment. These are things Buster and I had been working on since his Beginner class back in November.

For our first class, we introduced the dogs to jumps, tunnels and the A-Frame.
Dog has to run up and down A-Frame , making contact with the yellow parts.

The A-Frame can be a little scary because it's very tall. It was close to 5 feet off the ground at its peak. But Buster conquered every obstacle we gave to him and was very eager to please (and to get the chicken treats)!

So far I'm very pleased with how Buster has responded to agility. I always said as long as it was fun for him, we'd work our way up to competitions. 

We've practiced in the backyard and he seems to enjoy it, so we'll see.

Backyard Agility...with brooms

Night Paddling at Lake Higgins

I've loved kayaking for a few years now, but I'm limited because I have to rent kayaks. Luckily the Greensboro City Lakes all rent kayaks. However it can get a little old going to the same place every I switched it up and went at a different time.

The Greensboro Lakes offers Night Paddling every Weds from May through August. This week's paddle on June 4 was at Lake Higgins (my favorite lake).

At first it wasn't so different because the sun was still out. We got one really good pic.
Cyrus Paddling!

But then the sun started going down behind the trees and picture taking got a lot harder.

The critters were out in full force as night fell and they all had a song to sing....a very annoying song. Like karaoke at last call annoying.

But overall it was so peaceful out there at night. I highly recommend paddling at night at least once.

Glow stick for safety!

The cost for the night paddle is the same as during the day: $15 for a single kayak rental. You can get a guided tour if you'd like. Nobody chose a guided tour. I later saw the guide paddling on a SUP, which are now allowed on the lakes, although they're not for rent.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Let's Go Sailing

The Greensboro Parks and Rec is amazing, offering all kinds of interesting things to do. The latest was free sailboat rides through the Lake Townsend Yacht Club.

I thought we would just go on a ride, but our amazing guide, Ken, actually taught us how to sail. We had to pull the lines to adjust the sails and I was the helmsman and steered the boat. It wasn't a very windy day, so we had some downtime, but it was still a great experience.