PR city | April in the gym

Kelsey, Especially

After spending a solid month back in the gym in March and ad-libbing my workouts by the day (tsk tsk, I know), I (re-)got serious(-er) about my training and started an actual program that Shannon put together for me. The first phase of the programming lasted four weeks, from March 30 to April 25. And you know what? April was a phenomenal month in the gym. I spent 6 out of 7 days in the gym every. single. week. of the month, putting my total time in the gym for the month at 26 out of 30 days. But days in the gym isn’t the whole equation. Results are driven by intensity/hard work, which is driven by determination, commitment and discipline. And my results for the month speak for the level of performance Shannon’s programming yielded from me, and my innate determination, commitment and discipline.

My perpetual goal in the gym is to get strongerStrongerSTRONGER, something that’s been really difficult for me  to do because who knows? My reasoning for my lack of strength (or the ability to develop it as quickly as others) involves things like (1) my fucked up back, (2) never having played sports growing up and having zero athletic or strength background or pre-built muscle/strength, and (3) my natural build + genetics. I’m sure all three of those factors contribute to my historical lack of real gains, but April proved to me that those three factors aren’t the only three factors inhibiting my development of muscle strength. Also at play: my own mind games/confidence (or lack thereof), skill and technique.

Kelsey, Especially

April/#bodybyshannon started off with me testing my 1RM for three movements: front squat, back squat and strict press. The last time I consistently incorporated strength into my workouts was in 2013 when I was working out regularly at a local CrossFit gym, but even then the strength programming was erratic and unorganized. It made no sense. Seriously. It didn’t align at all with the rest of the daily programming, which means that it produced very little tangible results to the lay-lifter (me). I didn’t realize it at the time – because I had no fucking clue what I was doing outside of the box’s house WOD – but I’ve since come to realize that any faith I put in my old box’s programming or the numbers I yielded from it was misplaced because how can you take a max number for any given lift seriously when you don’t regularly train it? Anyway, at the start of April I was secretly hoping that each of those three lifts I was establishing new maxes for had somehow magically increased over the past year, even though I hadn’t been training them, but resolved to be happy with whatever number I hit as long as it wasn’t lower than the numbers I hit the last time I tested each lift a year prior. And? I did it! I hit at or just slightly above my previous numbers for each of those three lifts:

 LIFT  2014 1RM  2015 1RM  CHANGE
 Front squat 
 Back squat 
 Strict press 
 N/A  90#

↑ After a year of no strength training I was somehow able to eek out 10 more pounds for my front squat and was able to maintain my back squat weight. Not bad. I don’t have any numbers recorded for a max strict press at any rep scheme in the past (because it was something I never tested before), so I have no idea if the 90# strict press I hit during Phase 1, Week 1 testing was any better than what I would’ve put up in the past. No matter, though. These were my starting numbers for this initial cycle of programming.

Kelsey, Especially

At the end of the month I re-tested two of the three lifts I tested at the start of the month, plus two additional lifts: push press (PP) and deadlift (DL). This wasn’t supposed to be the case, but Shannon accidentally messed up (I’m her guinea pig) and had me test my push press during the last week when she meant to pencil in “strict press” for the day, and completely forgot to have me test my DL in the beginning. But whatevs. Here’s how my end-of-cycle numbers looked for the two lifts I had early April numbers for:

(phase 1, week 1)
 22 APR 1RM
(phase 1, week 4)
 Front squat 
Back squat

↑ After a month of committed and disciplined training, I hit some pretty significant increases. Even Shannon didn’t expect to see such big gains. Not that I’m incapable of making big gains but this phase of training was intended to be a light, get-back-at-it benchmark phase, except it turned into something exceptionally successful for those two primary squat lifts. It was pretty successful for my push press, too.

Kelsey, Especially

As noted, I don’t have super accurate baseline numbers for push press or deadlift since I didn’t test either of those lifts at the start of Phase I, but I do have numbers for them. Here’s how my push press and deadlift on 22 April 2015 compare to the old maxes I had for each lift, which I would’ve last tested at some point in early 2014:

 LIFT 2014 1RM 2015 1RM CHANGE
Push press

↑ So yeah. Gains. Lots of ’em (YAY!), except for my deadlift. My deadlift went down a bit, but I’m not surprised. That’s not me being pessimistic, that’s me being realistic. And honest. And accepting of the fact. I have some pretty fucked up back issues that limit my deadlift potential (even when wearing a belt) and I’m honestly pretty surprised – and stoked – that I hit 255#. So maybe it was a little lower than it was before but I’m okay with – it’s still more than twice my bodyweight. In fact, for all four of the lifts I tested at the end of April (front squat, back squat, push press and deadlift) I’m pushing (or, in the case of deadlifting) pulling more than my bodyweight. #mominbeastmode

Kelsey, Especially

Other notable fitness moments in April:

  • Getting my new (see also: first-ever) pair of Oly shoes. White Adipowers. They’re so rad. Naturally I swapped out the basic default white laces for some hot pink ones.
  • Stepping my game up and using the 62# kettlebell for full swings. And more than just once. Like, in every WOD. (To put this in perspective, RX kettlebell weight for females in CrossFit is 35# for most WODs and 53# for males for most WODs. And when a CrossFit WOD calls for “heavy” for a female, they’re usually talking about 44#, maybe 53#. So regularly using a 62# kb for full American swings is kind of a big deal.) See kettlebell swing photo above.
  • Growing itty bitty baby quads. See kettlebell swing photo above.
  • Not having to wear a belt until hitting 70%+ for any given lift. Huge success for my shitty back.
  • Placing 4th locally and 120th worldwide in the RX division at Festivus Games.
  • Running a 5K with Shannon three out of the four Fridays in April.

I’m currently in Week 4 of Phase II of #bodybyshannon and I’m eager to wrap up this 6-week program and test some lifts. I didn’t expect to hit the numbers that I hit at the end of April when I tested the four lifts detailed above, so I’m excited to see what I hit for the lifts I’ll be testing in a couple weeks. I’m trying to keep my expectations down, though. I can’t expect to exponentially/infinitely/perpetually have huge gains each cycle and I know once I hit one of those re-test days where I don’t have a huge gain I’ll be discouraged, so I’m doing my damnedest to keep it all in perspective in my head.

Project Life 2015 | April

I was worried I’d never get this project finished because I didn’t even begin choosing photos to use for it (let alone editing + ordering them, and then constructing the whole thing) until the first week of May, and I knew if I didn’t get this book made, photographed and posted well before my birthday I’d fall utterly behind and never catch up (I still have a birthday mini to make for Bri, which I haven’t even started (TBH, I haven’t even looked through the photos we took over her birthday weekend yet so I’m extra behind on that), and our May book). So when my photos arrived from Persnickety Prints on Saturday, I got to work right away.

Project Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, Especially Project Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, Especially Project Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, Especially Project Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, Especially

I loved the Paislee Press inspired “month in review” page that I made for my March book, but I hated it as the cover. This month I kept the “MIR” idea but with a slightly different format (each date beginning on a new line v. one continuous running entry) and as the title page. For the cover I layered a piece of transparency over a piece of vellum (with white “APR” stickets affixed to it) over a photo I took of a fresh bouquet one weekend at DC’s Eastern Market (farmers market in the Capital Hill neighborhood). The handwriting under the pink glitter “APRIL” stickers on the inside flap reads “what had happened was:” – a phrase I thought especially appropriate since the facing page (the title page) is the April “month in review” page. I made the inside flap of the front cover a hidden pocket page and stuffed a few pieces of ephemera from the month inside it.

PS: the inspiration for the cover this month came from this page by Tina Aszmus. It’s gorgeous. But I don’t have any fancy equipment (like a Silhouette or anything else that can do perfect cutouts, or a sewing machine), so I went with plain white stickers over the vellum instead. It still has a stark contrasting effect. Kind of. I guess?

Project Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, EspeciallyProject Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, EspeciallyProject Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, EspeciallyProject Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, EspeciallyProject Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, Especially

The next chunk of pages are full of outside-ness. April was finally nice enough for us to spend a pretty significant amount of time outside, which was indescribably fantastic.

A small collage of photos from throughout the month // A full-bleed layout of Madden riding his new bike (that Shannon gifted him for his birthday) // A spread dedicated to our first dinnertime picnic at the state park that’s a 5 minute drive from our house.

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A brief review of the books I read in April // A colorful photo grid supplemented with a happy face/sad face photo of ketchup (Emma always asks for a happy smiley face with her ketchup, Madden always asks for a sad face with his…?) // A very accurate photo of a typical (see also: raging) night for us: kids sleeping, dishwasher running, Bates on the TV, snacks on the table and books in hand (or in lap).

I love capturing all these small, everyday things now (even though everyone I know thinks I’m crazy/weird for taking photos of the things I take photos of ), and I think it will be really…cool (? (“neat” seemed appropriate here but also too nerdy)) to look back on these moments and routines in the future.

Project Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, Especially Project Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, Especially Project Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, Especially Project Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, Especially Project Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, Especially Project Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, Especially

Madden tells a very inappropriate (but also hilarious) joke to Shannon // The kids watch a storm roll in at bedtime (and are convinced it’s “a tornado coming”) // Another photo grid (supplemented with handwritten notes about some of the photos) // A page dedicated to the biggest happening of the kids’ lives this month: caterpillars. They were everywhere and the kids couldn’t get enough of them. They were out there catching caterpillars every. single. evening. I made the left side of this layout a hidden pocket page and tucked a note inside detailing and contextualizing this month-long childhood moment.

Project Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, EspeciallyProject Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, EspeciallyProject Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, EspeciallyProject Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, EspeciallyProject Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, Especially

Madden’s catch phrase for April (an exaggerated “please” that sounds like a distinct “puh” and “layz” (and that he thinks will automatically get him what he wants because he’s saying “please”)) // A layout documenting “the daddy way” to school (daycare) using piece of vellum over a Google map (I traced “the daddy way” route on the vellum and marked the landmarks that the kids excitedly shout out every. single. morning. when we drive by them) // The Fart Trumpet – one of Madden’s birthday gifts that really does make fart noises.

apr27 apr28 apr29 apr30 apr31 apr32 apr33

A note about a conversation Madden and I had regarding him having to wear a shirt out in public even though he didn’t want to // Some thoughts on feeling all of the feels when we registered Emma for Kindergarten // A fold-out page documenting Madden’s 27-day streak of not saying a bad word at school (I modeled the idea off those workplace safety posters, and the inside writing talks about how the day before he got in trouble for saying “shit” at school he lectured me about how saying bad things at school isn’t allowed – oh, the irony) // Emma on her bike // cherry blossoms from our front yard.

Project Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, Especially Project Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, Especially apr36 apr37 apr38

Booze + books: so many options! // A note about teamwork making the dream work (Shannon mowing the yard while I tend to the garden) // A page documenting HY Q1 – or Household Year Quarter 1, the designation we gave the occasion of hitting the “3 months of living together” mark. Because 3 months is one quarter of the year and it fell on a random date (April 24), we decided to be clever (and a little nerdy) and give it that “Household Year (HY)” title. Cheesy. Whatever. #longhairdontcare

apr39 apr40 Project Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, Especially Project Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, Especially

Madden being “a butterfly!” (not Superman) // Garden prep for year 3 of backyard gardening // A month of K+S selfies, supplemented with diagonally cut vellum, some stickers and journaling. The numbers on the page denote important numbers that happened for us on the same day – a date for Shannon and a weight for me. The date is work-related for a promotion (of sorts) that Shannon is set to receive, and the weight is the back squat PR I hit in April, a 20# increase from just four weeks prior.

Project Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, Especially Project Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, Especially Project Life 2015 | April // Kelsey, Especially

Festivus. If you look closely at the photo on the right you can see it’s a hidden pocket page (See that strip of blue glitter card stock? The notes detailing my Festivus experience are slipped in there.) // Crystal City 5K Fridays. Another hidden pocket page there on the right (the seafoam glitter strip…) // A few words about the gym in April.

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The final two photos are from our Easter. One of all three kiddos, and one of our entire six-person, hyper-modern family. The back cover is pink glitter card stock (with a transparency over it).

I love how this project turned out, you guys. LOVELOVELOVE. Last month was my first attempt at a monthly handmade mini and I realized after putting it together that I hadn’t included as many words as I thought I had – that I hadn’t provided enough context for the future (because these moments won’t always stand in the forefront of my mind and in 10 years I may have no clue why something is in the book if I don’t contextualize it at least a bit). This month I really focused on including “enough” journaling. I also focused on using some new-to-me techniques, like the fold-out and pocket pages (which I first tried in Madden’s birthday mini); I love the layers of dimension and interactivity they add. I also tried to mix it up with photo sizes, mostly with the grids, to spice things up a bit. Now, on to start work on May’s book!


Size: 8″x8″
Photos: Persnickety Prints
Templates: Paislee Press minimalist squared 4×4 layered templates, manipulated to fit 8×8 pages + my own 16-photo grid template [here] Pages: Michaels brand plain white card stock
Pen: Zig writer-for-vellum in black, size 0.5 mm
Front cover: Transparency over vellum over a photo
Title page: My own Month in Review design
Back cover: Transparency over glitter card stock (in an April-esque shade of pink, of course)

Things making me happy this week | 10

Kelsey, Especially

  • Being done with school. Is this seriously happening?! What am I going to do with all my time now?!
  • Making some progress on my #100DayProject with Alison. It’s probably going to take us more than 100 days, and the progress we’ve made really is just some, but it’s progress nonetheless. I’m still really psyched about this project and really hope that it comes to fruition so I can share it with all of youuu!
  • The Authentic Weather app. I have no idea how I didn’t know about this weather app before because it uses my favorite cuss word, which means it’s basically perfect. GET IT IN YOUR LIFE.

Kelsey, Especially

  • Finishing my April mini book, and in under 72 hours no less. That’s seriously got to be some sort of record. I’m pretty sure this is my favorite mini I’ve ever made so far. There’s just something about it. Maybe all the springtime-ness? It’ll go live here tomorrow.
  • Having a legit date night in the city last Friday. Dinner + drinks at a fun sports bar while the kids had a pizza + cupcake party at the Playseum next door.
  • Dumping a bunch of crap that we’d piled in the back corner of the backyard (old furniture and the like), cleaning out the shed, planting some cosmos around the tree out front, and hanging up bird feeders in front and out back.

Kelsey, Especially

  • Playing in the sprinklers out front and the kiddie pool out back. THE REAL POOL OPENS SATURDAY AND WE CAN’T FREAKING WAIT! So ready for summer.
  • Having turned the TV on for the kids only once over the course of a week and having turned it on for us not a single time over the course of that same week. Nice weather, and a rearranged living room that takes the emphasis almost all the way off the TV, FTW.
  • A freezer full of fresh strawberry daiquiris on a hot + lazy Sunday afternoon.

Kelsey, Especially

  • Having time to tan + read in the backyard. Now that the kids are older they need less one-on-one attention from me and can be out in the sun a bit longer, which means while they play it up in the sprinkler and kiddie pool, mama gets to lounge in the sun with her book. It won’t be the same story at the big pool once it opens since they’ll need way more supervision in that water, so I’m taking full advantage of backyard tanning while I can.
  • Coding from scratch a visual archives of selected posts from selected topics (bc yeah right if I’m going to go back through two years of posts and visually archive every. single. one. EWW!). Hoping to have the page live on Friday.
  • TWO Mother’s Day bouquets from the wifey!

Kelsey, Especially

What’s making YOU happy this week?

Cool story bro | vol. 07

Kelsey, EspeciallyJust being a dude, AKA contemplating life while on the shitter.

While eating a pizza dinner one evening,

Me: Madden, you’re so handsome!

RJ: Say “I’m not handsome. I’m beeyouteeful!”

He looks right at RJ and matter-of-factly states,

Madden: I’m going to beat you with my pizza.

Everyone: Kelsey, Especially

At the end of a particularly rough day with Madden, the night before his birthday,

Me: You’re not listening, son. If you don’t listen to me I’m going to cancel your birthday.

Madden: Cancel your butt!

Me: Kelsey, Especially

Later that same evening (the night before his birthday),

Me: Madden, what do you want to do tomorrow besides see the sharks?

Madden: I don’t know. Not see the unicorns.

Me: Kelsey, Especially

While trying to get Madden upstairs for nap one weekend afternoon (before I finished school):

Madden: You’re going to nap and I’m doing my homework now.

Me: Uhhhhhh, I think it’s the other way around, buddy.

Madden: Is that so?

Me: Yes. That’s so.

Madden: I don’t think so.

Me: Kelsey, Especially

Caught scaling the linen closet in the kids’ bathroom hours after bedtime,

Me: What are you doing?

Madden: I don’t know.

Me: *blank stare*

Madden: I want an eyeball, Mom.

Me: Kelsey, Especially

After my mom booked our tickets to Oregon,

Me: We’re going to Oregon in the summer. On an airplane!

Madden: I want to go on a rocket ship!

Me: Kelsey, Especially


GIFs via | [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

Kelsey goes to graduates college (!!!)

5 year plan // Kelsey, Esp. blog

Two summers ago I wrote up a 5 Year Plan. Last August I shared it here on the blog. Today, I’m beyond stoked to update it. Yup. Update it. As in: cross off one of the items and move on to the next one.

My 5 Year Plan started out with 5 big goals arranged ‘in order,’ with the idea of spending a year tackling one before moving on to the next one on the list. The first goal on that list/plan was to graduate college, something I’ve been working hard toward for nearly seven years and wanted to have crossed off the list before I turn 30. When I shared my 5 Year Plan here last August I had 11 classes – 33 credits – to take before I met the program requirements for my degree. 33 credits. That’s three full-time semesters. I knocked out all 33 of those credits in two 4.000 semesters, while working two jobs, serving in the Army Reserve, raising my three kids, being in a relationship, CrossFitting/working out, blogging, memory-keeping, and living all the rest of life, and this past Saturday it all paid off when I officially graduated college (1 year + 9 days before turning 30 (which means 1 year + 9 days before my max cut-off date/age for this goal)). I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a minor in Sociology with a cumulative GPA of 3.980, which means I graduated Magna Cum Laude. Hell-fucking-yeah!

I have a lot of thoughts about graduating college – about (finally) being done with a huge chapter of my life that has for so long seemed to be never-ending, thoughts that are equal parts “YAYYYY!,” and “WTF do I do now?”. Too many to share in one post, for sure. And too many to share today. So we’ll save all that mess for a different day (or two (or more)), yeah? Yeah. Today, I’m basking in the fact that 48 hours ago I officially graduated college (the first in my family to have done so, BTW (and with honors no less)); that I finally did it, and that I kicked ass at it. One more day of Cloud 9 status, and then back down to reality and on to the next item on the list: paying off the rest of my debt (which, yeah, is technically item numéro trois on the list above, but is moving up to spot dos for reasons I’ll get into later).

I started sharing my Get Out of Debt story here about nine months ago. I developed a lot of momentum in the beginning – in terms of making progress toward paying off my debt v. making crucial financial mistakes, and in terms of sharing that progress in this space – but I haven’t been very good about keeping that momentum up in the last few months (in either sense), which means that it’s time to refocus my attention to living within my (meager) means. I haven’t made any catastrophic fuck-ups or anything, but I haven’t been as disciplined with my spending + savings habits as I’ve wanted to be. And now that school no longer takes up 137% of my time, checking this major goal off the list will.


PS: Today I am officially 1 week away from entering the last year of my 20s and I legit have way too many irrational feelings about this. I’M NOT READY TO LEAVE MY 20s! I literally just graduated college. I NEED MORE TIME! 😭

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