Sunday, June 29, 2008

My Son, the Genius!

Actually, I happen to think BOTH of my children are brilliant, but this morning Nate figured out what was wrong with the air condition, without which we have been suffering for a week, and it's in the 100s right now!

A Tip: The vents really do need to be open. I am guessing that with the exit vents closed, as soon as it started blowing cold air and that air was trapped in the unit, it tripped the thermostat? In any case, I will now be able to live through my birthday, which I had my doubts about after yesterday.

And now...back to my sushi snack before my birthday party. I think Safeway made these crab and avocado California rolls just for me, LOL.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Realistic Expectations

So I have been marking my physical activity on my calendar. This could actually be a bad idea. I just looked at the calendar and saw that I had Pilates on Saturday, 90 minutes of Karate on Tuesday, Pilates on Wednesday and nearly 2 hours of Karate last night. I thought, 'what should I do today so I can write something on my calendar?' Dangerous thinking! In trying to exercise intuitively, the idea is to listen to my body, not some chart.

Last night I had to sit out the last 15 minutes of Karate. I did not pack enough water and none was available at the park. I was so embarrassed! That's right...the fat girl can't finish the class! But this morning, attempting to think beyond the soreness while waiting in line at 6 a.m. to sign the boys up for next swim session, I thought...that was only my second class! An hour and forty-five minutes for your SECOND time is a really amazing accomplishment!

I also had to stop myself from looking up how many calories Karate burns per hour. Burning calories is NOT THE POINT! I did NOT jump into that class in order to lose weight (ha! One look at a couple of the blackbelts would quash that notion quick, LOL). I jumped in because it looked fun, and the women in the class looked strong, and I wanted to do that, too.

So I am tired and sore and I have a million things to do today, and that spot on my calendar is just going to have to stay blank unless my body tells me otherwise. Because if I let the old diet thinking intrude on this lovely time in my life, it will ruin it, and it will take ages before I am willing to do something like this again.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Blue Planet

We queued The Blue Planet series from Netflix and are just finishing up the disc entitled Seas of Life: Open Ocean/The Deep. So far we are really enjoying this series. It does contain some evolutionary language, but is for the most part simply stunning cinematography, wonderful explanation and a collection of really wild underwater creatures. The page I linked to has info and activities on the left. I have not used them since I just saw them for the first time, lol. In any case, I can certainly recommend this series for families interested in learning more about the life in the world's oceans!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Grass Stains, Mosquito Bites & Motherly Pride

For a year and a half or so, my kids have been attending martial arts classes with our local Kokondo teacher. I highly recommend their children's classes-they are strictly self-defense and I have been very impressed. Both boys take the kids' class (Jukido Jujitsu) and Brandon also attends the adult class (Kokondo Karate).

This month during Jukido promotions, Nate was skipped one level from Yellow to Yellow w/2 stripes and Brandon was skipped two levels from Yellow to Orange. Hence my Proud Mama moment!

This week the building we normally use is unavailable and so the classes are meeting at a park. For over a year now I have been sitting on the sidelines, envious of my kids, but tonight I joined the Karate class. I can only do so this week while we meet in the park, and there is no need for a Gi and Sensei is being kind letting Nate and me hang out with the adult class (uh, without paying, lol). And besides, I finally have the time and energy since I am out of work. It was so much fun! I kicked off my (adorable new) Crocs (thanks, Mom!) and got grass stains on my jeans and I am sure I was eaten alive by the bugs. I certainly got sweaty and while it wasn't an aerobic workout it was definitely exercise. I am very proud of myself because this is part of my changing attitude about my size. I will never be thin (one can't starve a healthy body and expect it to react well) but I CAN STILL DO WONDERFUL THINGS! I do not have to worry that everyone is looking at me and thinking, 'Why is that fat woman doing that in public?' Nope, I was out there fumbling around in a group of people half my age and younger, but I can proudly say that now I can do Bo Kata 1.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Field Trip!

Today we went on a field trip. We were blessed by the company of my grandparents. Grandma is a retired school teacher and Grandpa is a retired scientist and both are full of all sorts of interesting information!

We took a shorter trip than had been planned, but it worked out beautifully and I think we all had fun. First we went to Ice Harbor Lock and Dam. We saw absolutely gigantic fish, learned about dams and the effects of dams on the fish population, learned about the commercial traffic on inland waterways (which was really cool as it tied in with my recent job at an export company), and visited the memorial to the Native Americans that are buried beneath the lake behind the dam.

In Dayton we found the oldest surviving train depot in Washington. It is amazing. They have turned it into a museum and, even though we did not get to go in, we enjoyed peeking through windows and wandering the grounds. FYI, they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and even though the sign says that if you go ask at the Weinhard Hotel for a tour, the people at the hotel had no clue what we were talking about when we did! LOL But, I decided that I need to have my portrait done there in Victorian dress and that it would also be a great place for a wedding.

The Weinhard Hotel would be the perfect spot for the honeymoon. I honestly thought I had stepped back in time about a hundred years when I walked through the door. I actually dragged Grandma in to look around because I wanted to enjoy it with someone. Off the lobby are an internet cafe and an art gallery. The gallery holds prints by Jill Ingram, who does beautiful work in watercolors. Grandma and I both bought cards from the gallery, since we could not afford prints and we could not leave without some! I think she is framing hers. (Oh, and yeah, the hotel does have to do with the beer in some way.)

We also took Grandpa to the library in Dayton, where the lovely librarian was kind and helpful even though she was doing the job of two women at the time. Helpfully, Grandpa dug up all sorts of info and resources for the boys and I to use to continue their education--this trip counts towards their WA state history & government (required to graduate no matter where you are schooled in WA), history, social studies and science. My grandparents are so cool. (please note that the hotel visit does not count toward any school credit for the boys as they thought we were nuts for going gaga and basically they sat in the car surfing off the wi-fi from the 'net cafe!)

Way cool tidbit: My grandmother is 20 years younger than one of her sisters, and I am 20 years (and two days!) older than one of mine.

Necessity being the MOTHER...

This article, I think, shows why necessity is the mother of invention and not the father, lol. That's right, this obviously intelligent lady used her bra to save her life! I believe there was a story of a Wonderbra protecting a woman from a bullet a year or so back, as well. And here women have for generations complained of these torture devices? A little gratitude for fashion is in order, I think!

Friday, June 13, 2008

What day is this?

Today is...let me check my calendar here...yes, it is ONLY June 13th! And yet, I am already hearing mothers moaning about summer break dragging on and when is school going to start so I can get these rugrats off my hands?!

Ok, not to be mean...but I don't get this. My kids are always home. We have no 'summer fights'. And if your children will not listen to you and cannot get along during the summer, then I have news for you--this is a year round problem! You just don't notice it when they are at school.

Don't simply wait out the summer--make some changes in your home. Choose your number 1 annoyance and tackle it. Focus on relationships in your home. A routine might be of some use--summer provides freedom, but freedom without goals and routines leads to chaos.

And most of all, please remember that these children are blessings and they will be grown and gone far too soon! Enjoy the moments you have with them.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Blind to Progress

It ocurred to me today that I get so caught up in the busy stuff that the things that really stand out to me are the negatives. Oh, I have positive interactions with my kids, but they aren't what I remember the next morning.

So, in an effort to improve my OWN attitude, here are some signs of progress that I have seen lately:
Neither boy has lost his school pencil in months! This was a huge battle at one point, so you'd think I'd have noticed before, oh, ten minutes ago when Brandon grabbed his out of the drawer that he puts it in every time he's finished using it!
I usually leave a list for the boys with chores and school assignments, plus any pertinent info for the day. Lately they have been pretty good at doing what the list says and a couple times have actually done what needed to be done even though I had forgotten to leave a list! Today they called to ask what I wanted them to do and when I said nothing except dishes, but one insisted on doing math.
(of course, I was interrupted while typing by a child having a math fit, lol, and have completely lost my train of thought)

Anyway, my point is, keep an eye out for the good news!

Oh, and on the funny side of things: Last night at Jukido, two young girls were playing together. They are both very strong-willed children and they are forever butting heads. One started hitting the other, and the hit-ee said, "If you punch me one more time I am going to punch you back!" at which point the hit-er ran to her father crying, "She threatened to punch me BACK!"

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Stop Produce Abuse With Freedom For Teenagers! (SPAWFFT!) is a newly-formed organization (just a few hours old, actually) with only one member: My favorite 15 year old. Here's how it was formed:

We shop at a store with nice, low prices, but you have to bag your own groceries. Well, I DO have two strong young men with me most of the time, so generally they bag while I pay. Today, however, Brandon did all the bagging. He did plenty of complaining about it, as well. So when we were settled in the van, I asked his brother why he didn't help bag, and his response was that whenever he DOES help bag, Brandon complains that he never does it right, and tries to tell him what to do, and so he figured he wouldn't bother. I told him he needed to help anyway, but then I told Brandon that if he were easier to work with, perhaps his brother would be more willing to work with him.

From there he descended into the horrors of Nate's bagging technique (he puts fruit on the bottom!) to my unfairness at correcting him, to being sent to bed because he would not stop arguing, to standing outside his room arguing even more, despite the fact that I clearly and calmly told him that he would lose priveleges if he continued, to saying that he was only standing up for what was right (SPAWFFT!) and wouldn't I do the same if, say, George Bush outlawed homeschooling? And would I really want him to jump of a bridge if I told him to?

While I would go to jail in support of homeschooling, I had no idea a teenager would give up all that this one gave up tonight in support of firm fruit. Ah, well, hopefully a good night's sleep will help his attitude. And I just keep telling myself that all this stubborness (and don't get me wrong--both kids have it in abundance!) will be turned to good eventually.

Can't Win For Losing

Some of my readers will know that for math we take a linear approach around here that involves Key to... books followed by Teaching Textbooks in the upper elementary/middle/high school years. Well, Nate is more than halfway through the three Key to... series that we use (Fractions, Decimals and Percents) but he really needed something in addition to that to keep his mind busy (you know, so he'd quit doing his brother's math!) So a while back I started him on the Teaching Textbooks Math 7, with the idea that he'd do about 3 lessons a week and finish his Key to... books besides, and it'd all work out like when you have the mashed potatoes, salad, gravy and roast all done at once, right?

Well, I never was any good at having all the dishes done at the same time!

Nate has been working so quickly through Math 7 that tonight, when I wrote up his schedule, I had to inform him that he needed to either slow down on the Teaching Textbooks or be more diligent in the Key to... books. He was not happy. Nate is an auditory learner and Teaching Textbooks allows you to hear and read the lecture and problems at the same time, which works very well for him. Also, it features a talking parrot, LOL.

Hopefully, the spectre of giving up talking-parrot-math will be enough to encourage him to work harder in his remaining workbooks. Once we get over that hurdle, we'll work on the whole, "my brain doesn't wake up enough to do math until 2 or 3 in the afternoon" thing!

There's a Dirty Cop in My Family!

(Note to any members of my family who may read this: I truly adore you all, and am blessed to have you. Sometimes, though, an ugly lie needs to have the light of truth directed at its face. I think this is one of those times. Also, this is part of what shaped me into the person that I am today, and it is important to my recovery to be able to talk about it.)

More than almost anything, I hate dirty cops. I was raised on law and order and I am a black-and-white thinker, but even more than that, a dirty cop takes the authority he is supposed to use to protect, and uses it to hurt instead.

And yet, a dirty cop has been harbored in my family for generations. He shows up smiling at every gathering and spreads his twisted lies among us. For nearly two years now, I have been working to extricate him from my own home and protect my own children, but when he helps raise you, un-doing 30 years of brainwashing is difficult, to say the least, and I make two or more steps backward for every step forward that I manage to eke out, it seems!

Last night I heard this evil voice coming out of my baby sister's mouth and I was appalled. For many months now I have seen her as a victim (and she is!) but last night she became the perpetrator, and it hurt to see it.

This dirty cop that hides out in our clan is The Food Police.

The Food Police is the cacophany of voices that stands between our brains and our mouths. It starts when we are infants. Our parents take a perfectly-functioning biological process and feel they must interfere (after all, they have the voices, as well). Baby must finish his food so he can grown big and strong...and besides, we hate to throw food away, that's a waste! By the time we are 2 or 3 we have been labeled 'picky eaters' because we take our time and choose only the best bits to put in our bellies. We aren't hungry for all that food--we have tiny tummies, only the size of our fists, after all--so we figure we may as well only eat that which tastes good to us. And rightly so! But no, that Dirty Cop of nutrition looks at our plates and says, 'Not ROUND enough or not SQUARE enough-make them eat more!' But when our tiny tummies are emptied by our endless running around, he also says, 'You can't POSSIBLY be hungry this soon-you just ate!' And through this constant contradiction, we learn to distrust our own physical feelings.

It doesn't matter that study after study show that small children will, over a day's or week's time, naturally round out their diet and include all necessary food groups. Our parents are slaves to the Food Police.

Eventually our stubborness in eating only until our bellies are satisfied drives our parents to use one of the Food Police's twisted laws: You must clean your plate in order to have dessert! That's right--not only do we need to overeat, we will be rewarded for overeating by being called 'good' and given more food (that is called 'bad') to stuff into our overstuffed bellies. But we don't realize our bellies are overstuffed, because we have been taught that our bellies lie. And besides, we had better take it when we can get it, because They won't let us have it in two hours when our bellies rumble (you JUST ATE!).

It doesn't take long to come to this way of thinking. Last night our 4 year old cousin was eating a piece of chicken that my 12 yo sister had served her. Three times my sister said, "Hurry up and eat! Quit playing and eat that chicken! If you don't finish that chicken, you can't have any dessert!" I told her to mind her own business but she kept after the poor little girl who was only eating slowly because chicken is hard to chew for tiny teeth and besides, if you eat slowly, then you can hear your tummy's satisfied bell. (Btw, she ate TWO pieces of chicken, of her own volition, once left alone)

Actually, a piece of chicken will be made a more 'square' meal by the addition of a piece of strawberry-rhubarb pie--after all, grilled chicken is straight protein and the pie would have the carbohydrates and fat needed for the girl to properly use the protein in the chicken. Plus it held both a fruit and a veggie! But no, pie is 'bad' and has to be atoned for by scarfing more 'good' food than is actually good for you.

And whatever you do, don't WASTE any by throwing it away. Pardon me, but if you eat it when your body is telling you that it doesn't need it, isn't that a waste, as well? And could it possibly be why every person in this family is overweight, including the 12 year old who attempted to force-feed the 4 year old?

I have seen my sister toil over a giant serving of food to the point that she was gagging because of that Food Police edict: You must finish what you take! What is that, an attempt to punish a child for having eyes bigger than her stomach? That child now cannot tell if she is hungry or full, cannot tell what a reasonable portion size is, and worse, is badgered constantly about eating when she IS hungry because she is now overweight, which has caused her to hog all available food. Ask my kids--she is first in the food line and takes all the best stuff because she is afraid someone is going to tell her she doesn't deserve to eat it because she eats too much, even though these same people taught her to eat too much! I will never forget the 'sundae bar' where all the kids but her were left with plain ice cream. It's very sad, because she doesn't enjoy her food--who can when they eat super-fast, hunched over their plate as if someone is about to swipe it, while riddled with distrustful, humliated and rebellious thoughts?

I said everyone in my family was fat, but that is not quite true. My brothers and my own sons aren't. Boys don't have the pressure that girls have about weight and eating, generally, but more than that, in our home, we only have one food rule: If you don't complain about mushrooms, you don't have to eat any.

My kids won't eat unless they are hungry. They stop when they are satisfied. Both are quite thin, which is nice, but most importantly, food isn't emotional to them. It's just food. They can take it, leave it, forget about it, etc. because they know they can eat pretty much whenever they are hungry. They don't have to eat out of rebellion, and they know what their bodies need and don't need. Don't get me wrong, they get bugged at family gatherings, as well, because no one understands why they eat the way they do, but because they have been taught here at home to listen to their bodies instead of the other voices, they are strong and able to resist.

Please let your children, and yourself, be guided by your bodies, which were "fearfully and wonderfully made" indeed! If you need help with that, two really great books are Like Mother, Like Daughter and Intuitive Eating. The first concentrates on why (assuming you are female) you may have this disordered way of eating. The second is a method of recovery for people of either gender. I know they have helped me make great strides in recovery, although I still have a long way to go.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Painless Research Projects

I bought a book today! I tried to buy it locally but my favorite bookstore said they couldn't order it. It's pretty rare that I find a book at the library that I like so much that I have to have my own copy even though I know one lives across the street from me! In any case, has plenty of copies available at nice prices.

I already own three of Barron's "Painless" series and I think they are very handy. Research Projects is written mainly for grades 7 through 9 and is fun reading like the other Painless books I have looked at. It begins at the beginning with picking a topic and runs through various sources to use including the internet and personal interviews. It takes the traditional note-card approach and has a section entitled, "Think-Don't Copy!" which will most definitely be helpful. Organization, rough drafts and editing, and bibliographies are also covered. Appendix C includes links to websites designed to jump-start the student's interest in a topic.

I have been looking for some 'school' projects for the summer, and this will guide us through one. Brandon is finishing up the 9th grade but this book really could serve as a basis for research projects all the way through high school, in my opinion.

If you have used any of the Painless series, please post a review in Comments--I am sure more people than myself would appreciate it!

Amazing we let them live this long, isn't it?

This is a hot area, and we had quite a heat wave earlier in the Spring. But lately it's been downright chilly! So, eager for some sunlight, I had the boys take down the White Trash Curtains from the front windows. (that's right...we had sheets hanging up) I made the mistake of saying, 'Whew, that sun is bright!' So of course Nate countered with , "Well, Duh, don't seen people walking around saying, 'Wow, the sun is so DARK today!'"

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Say what? Girl eats toys...

I heard a news story while driving to work this morning (listening to my favorite station, It seems an 8 yo girl ate some of her toys. Now the parents are campaigning to recall the toy that she ate. Pardon me, but shouldn’t an 8 year old know better? Personally, I had a 12 year old who swallowed a thumbtack, and it was stupid even though it WAS an accident…but you don’t see me lobbying to recall thumbtacks or keep them in child-proof (not!) containers, or even require an ID check to buy them. No, I just made it very clear to my kids that eating office supplies is a dumb thing to do and the one who swallowed a thumbtack and was nearly airlifted to Seattle Children’s Hospital was never going to live it down! Is there so little personal responsibility-even for your KIDS-that we need to sue or legislate every idiotic decision that one might make?
Do we really think that this is the first time this girl has eaten something that wasn’t food? Can you make the leap from mashed potatoes to Magnetix without some sort of gateway toy? Do you suppose when she was six some kid on the playground offered her a Polly Pocket accessory and from there it just went downhill? Gee, if she hadn’t been stopped I am sure Lincoln Logs would be next…and then our kids would never be able to buy them again, for fear of mass cabin ingestion. And don’t even think about those little army guys. I am sure I could easily swallow an entire Playmobile Confederate General!
I actually played with a very similar toy (the dollar store version, no less!) with a six year old and a two year old a week ago. Neither attempted to put a piece in their mouths, but neither was left alone with the toy, either. I sat with them the whole time, on a blanket so that none of the pieces would roll away unnoticed. It’s remarkable how parental (or parental-ish, as these were not my kids) supervision and training avoids this kind of tragedy.
So, open letter to her parents: You should already be embarrassed…don’t make it worse by making a public spectacle of yourselves and the fact that you couldn’t do your job well enough and are trying to blame someone else.
Oh, and by the way…we found a handheld metal detector (sold by National Geographic) very handy in determining when things had *ahem* passed on through. And the metal detector has no small pieces.