Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Exercise Makes You Smarter and Happier - Infographic

I have been wanting to put this information into an infographic for a long time and have finally scraped together enough time and motivation to do so.  I find it frustrating when people only look at exercise as a way to lose weight, and if it fails to satisfy that end, they dismiss it.  I find it frustrating that schools have cut and eliminated recess and physical education when doing so is counter-productive to everything a school should be trying to accomplish, and I hate it when people look at me like I am crazy when I say so. :)

Babyak, Michael. "Exercise Treatment for Major Depression: Maintenance of Therapeutic Benefit at 10 Months." Psychosomatic Medicine. 62. (2000): 633-638. Web. 13 Sep. 2013.

"Brain-derived neurotrophic factor." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 2 9 2013. Web. 14 Sep 2013. <>.

"Dopamine." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 13 9 2013. Web. 14 Sep 2013. <>.

Gage, Fred, perf. "New Brain Cells Anyone?." The Naked Scientist. N.p., 28 Jan 2013. web. 13 Sep 2013. <>.

"gamma-Aminobutyric acid." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 14 9 2013. Web. 14 Sep 2013. <>.

Grieco, LA. "Physically active academic lessons and time on task: the moderating effect of body mass index.."Med Sci Sports Exerc.. 41.10 (2009): n. page. Print. <>.

Horn, Kimberly. "Effects of Physical Activity on Teen Smoking Cessation." Pediatrics. (2009): n. page. Web. 14 Sep. 2013. <>.

Erwin, Heather. "Student Academic Performance Outcomes of a Classroom Physical Activity Intervention: A Pilot Study." International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education. (July): 2012

Mahar, MT. "Effects of a classroom-based program on physical activity and on-task behavior.." Med Sci Sports Exerc.. 38.12 (2006): n. page. Print. <>.

Martínez-Gómez, David. "Active Commuting to School and Cognitive Performance in Adolescents." JAMA Pediatrics. JAMA Pediatrics, 4 Apr 2011. Web. 13 Sep 2013. 

"Norepinephrine." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 14 9 2013. Web. 14 Sep 2013. 

Ratey, John J. Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2008. Print.  <>

Ussher, M. "Acute effect of a brief bout of exercise on alcohol urges.." Addiction. 99.12 (2004): 1542-7. Print. <>.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Camping at Dungeness Recreation Area

The summer was getting close to being over and we hadn't taken a camping trip.  The girls had been talking about camping all summer, so if we didn't go I am sure they would have been disappointed.  Finding a campsite last minute in August can be a challenge.  Going on a Tuesday and Wednesday night makes it easier.

The Dungeness Recreation Area is near Sequim, WA and is right next to the Dungeness Spit Wildlife Refuge. The campground only allows reservations for half the spots in the campground, and you have to mail it in three weeks in advance.  They do have offer the ability to check how many spots have already been reserved online.  I could see that there were plenty of reservable spots still available, plus all the first-come-first-serve spots so I figured we would be good and we were.  Most of the sites are large, flat, and have a decent amount of privacy.

In the past, when we have gone camping with the kids, we have done what I have heard is now referred to as glamping.  We rent a small cabin, or platform tent where there are no bathrooms, sinks, or kitchens, but you get a bed, a roof, and sometimes a small space heater. I find it more rustic than RV camping, but not as rustic as tent camping.

I could not find a glamping site available last minute, so I figured we might as well try real camping. The bonus being it is a lot cheaper. :)  We only own a small two person tent, but I knew my parents had a large six person tent, the only problem was it was about 25 years old.  Fortunately for us, the tent was still in good condition and we were good to go.

I was a bit worried that tent camping would be stressful and more trouble than it was worth, but I think this was the most relaxing camping trip yet.  The kids are old enough that I don't have to worry about keeping track of them every single second.  There was a playground right next to our campsite, and they would go off, make friends, and we could sit at the campsite and read or play cards.  The most stressful part was the dog, who decided on the first night, to escape the tent and do a nocturnal exploration of the campground.

I precooked most of the food so all it needed was to be wrapped in foil and warmed up on the fire.  (We did have a problem in that the first site we picked didn't have a grate over the firepit, so we ended up taking our whole site down and moving to the one next to us.)  We had teriyaki beef kabobs the first night (flank steak marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, honey, garlic and ginger), and spaghetti the next night (boil water on the fire, cook noodles, drain, mix in a jar of sauce and warm a little longer). The kids had cereal for breakfast and Floyd and I had premade breakfast scramble that we warmed up on the fire.  Easy peasy.

The campground is a short walk to the entrance of the wildlife refuge.  You have to pay a few bucks to go on the wildlife refuge and then it is about half a mile walk on a paved trail til you get to the beach.  The spit is nice.  There isn't a whole lot of sand.  During high tide it is all drift wood, during low tide you get about 30 yards from the driftwood to the water.  The spit itself is five miles long.  There is a lighthouse at the end, but we didn't visit it.  It is all very nice, EXCEPT they have a ridiculous rule that you are not allowed to run farther than half a mile along the spit.  Some little old lady stopped me while I was running and told me that I would disturb the nesting birds.  I am a nature lover, and tree hugger, but this rule does not make sense.
1) I was on the sand that would be underwater in a few hours.  If there was a nesting bird where I was running they had a way bigger problem then me.

2)  I do not think a human travelling at 6 - 7 miles per hour is really all that more startling than one traveling 3 - 4.  And I could not find any evidence saying it was when I went and read some of the studies that the US Fish and Wildlife Department used to come to the conclusion that running is an inappropriate activity on refuge's around the country.  None of the studies specifically looked at running even though they were cited as such.  They just concluded that the more activity in an area, the more effect it had on the migrating bird populations.  There was no evidence that a walker was different than a jogger.

3) They allow four wheels and trucks to be used to take the caretakers out to the lighthouse and back (I saw three vehicles pass while I was on the beach for an hour).  Gas powered vehicles travelling 10 - 15 miles an hour are definitely more intrusive than a jogger.

4) One of my favorite authors, Richard Louve, talks about how when we make nature off limits, for its own good, then people don't get to experience it, and it becomes an abstract idea that people will not be prone to really protect.  Restricting the use, especially such an innocuous use, means that less people will visit the area, and thus will have no personal stake in its overall care.

5) Clamming and crabbing are allowed.  Eating the animals living at the refuge is a lot more disruptive than running by them.

Apparently this is a newly instituted rule, and really annoyed and frustrated me (if you can't tell).

On the last day we headed to the Sequim Game Farm where you drive around and feed the animals bread from your car.  I was torn on whether to go or not, because places like this are known for not having the most ethical breeding programs, and reviewers on the internet pointed out the same thing.  But we did end up going, and it was a lot of fun. Surprisingly Dyna (our dog) didn't completely freak out when llamas and zebras stuck their head in the car though she did seem to get a bit nervous about the bears, and the wolf who was tracking her from inside its enclosure.

Taking the ferry

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Allie's Birthday Party

A way long time ago, back in May, Allie turned four.  She had her birthday party at the Skate Deck.  I was hesitant about having her birthday there, as the few times before we had been skating she went around a couple times holding my hands and then whined and wanted to be held.  When I held her, she would swing her legs and her heavy skates would hit me in the shins, which would hurt and end in bruises.  But she insisted.

The Skate Deck is a large venue so I figured we would invite everyone in her preschool class plus a few other friends.  Her class wasn't too big (11 kids), and it was unlikely everyone would show up.  But who knew late afternoon on a Friday is a great time for a birthday party? Because almost everyone invited showed up.  Add some siblings on top of that and there were 20+ kids.  Fortunately the rink wasn't too crowded and we were the only birthday party going on, otherwise there would not have been space for everyone to have pizza and cake.

The great thing about the Skate Deck is they have these wheeled walker-like contraptions that allow the kids to hold on to for balance.  Allie hadn't tried one of these before, and it was the lure of this that made her so adamant about going.  Well the contraptions are great because her and all her little friends skated around so happily.

Allie can sometimes be reticent and slow to warm up to people thus I was surprised at how social she was with her schoolmates.  Apparently she is quite the talker at school.  All the kids hung out, skated together, while chatting, and it was pretty much the cutest thing I had ever seen.

Overall the party was a huge success and it seemed like everyone had a really good time.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Summer Trip to Chelan

I've lived in Washington all my life and had yet to visit Chelan.  It has been on my bucket list of places to visit in the Pacific Northwest and now I can check it off.

Wonderfully my mother-in-law rented a condo and invited us and my sister-in-law's family for the week. We stayed in a condo at Wapato Point and it was very nice.  They had lots of activities, like daily art projects for the kids, and a mini-golf course, as well as boat rentals.  We spent lot of time at the pool, but played some putt putt golf (Allie loved it) and a day at the water park as well.

When we left we went to Blueberry Hills for breakfast (the blueberry muffins were delicious) and afterward picked some blueberries which were amazingly sweet.

Selena kayaking
Us following her in a pedal boat

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Summer Berry Picking

We've done a lot of berry picking this summer.  In our yard (strawberries and blueberries), the wild berries near by (blackberries, thimble berries, salmon berries and huckleberries), and at nearby you-pick farms(strawberries, raspberries and blueberries).   I'd love to say we have a ton of berries stored in the freezer for use year round, but we just eat them too fast and only have a couple pounds of blueberries. Everything else has been eaten.

We did have one traumatic hornet experience at a blueberry farm in Bellevue (Mercer Slough).  Allie got stung and started crying.  She didn't know why she was hurt and couldn't explain it.  While I was trying to get to Allie my nephew got stung and ran to me crying, grabbing my legs so I couldn't get to Allie.  I finally figured out what was going on but didn't realize that the hornets were on the attack.  Floyd and my brother then stormed in grabbed the kids and ran out screaming, "Go, go, go."  Allie and my nephew each got stung two times a piece, and Floyd got stung five times.  Selena and I were lucky to get away unscathed. Fortunately no one had any serious reactions.

The frustrating part was when we reported the nest to the people running the farm they said there wasn't anything they could do.  If they had set up signs and warned people to not go near the nest then the people we saw a half hour later could have avoided getting stung.  Apparently my mom also talked to some people who had got stung their a week prior.  

Blueberries at Mountain View Blueberry Farm

Wild Blackberries