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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Quiet Around Here

With the kids away for the week, the house is very quiet. And very clean. Along with the quiet and clean, my husband and I marvel at how little food we actually go through when the three are away. It's weird, a bit of a glimpse at what it'll be like when they are grown and out on their own for real. I'm missing them terribly, so I have a hunch I'm going to go through some rough times when the time for them to make their own way comes. Thank goodness I have a few years yet before this happens. I can take these years to prepare myself.

A good workout day today. We bought a contraption that turns a regular bike into a stationary bike, so rather than sink several hundred dollars into an exercise bike, we turned my husband's ten-speed into a stationary bike for under a hundred bucks. Now we have a treadmill and the bike to workout on. In addition to these, we have the thing-a-ma-jig that we can do pull-ups on, leg lifts on, dips, and an assorted other exercises on. We have our own little gym set up in the garage. It rarely gets below thirty inside, so as long as we are layered, we stay fairly warm. I ran three miles and biked for 15 minutes at a pretty good speed. I'd like to get a mileage readout for the bike to keep track of how far I'm going each time since I need to be able to bike 13.6 miles for the mini-tri. I did a little over six miles yesterday in 20 minutes, so I'm setting a goal of doing the bike portion of the race under 38 minutes. I really don't know if this is trying for too much, but I figure if I can do six miles in 20 minutes now, I should be able to do 13.6 under 40 minutes by the time April rolls around.

These goals will really be tested starting next week when I have to return to work. With work, the kids home, the kids going back to school and their school activities, and everything else going on, I might find I'll have to readjust what I hope to accomplish. My mini-tri buddy set a goal of finishing the event in less than 2 hours; maybe I should shoot for the same myself. That darn competitive side of me keeps rearing its ugly head, though. There's something about being mid-40's and feeling the need to prove things to myself. I need to prove to myself that I can swim the 400 in less than 11 minutes. I need to prove to myself I can bike 13.6 miles in less than 38 minutes. I need to prove to myself that I can run 3.1 miles under 30 minutes. That gives me a total of one hour 19 minutes for the event. I know I can do this.

But when the quiet is gone come Saturday, how will this affect my workout schedule? Maybe I should take the pressure off myself and just stay with finishing under 2 hours.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Year Ending, Year Beginning

Another year is almost over, and for the most part, 2009 has been a good year. I really have no complaints. Even my husband being laid off effective January 1, 2010 cannot put a damper on my memories from the past year. If anything, he being laid off has been the incentive I've been needing to get a start on some projects I've been thinking about doing but haven't taken the time to put into action. It's kind of strange--he's losing his job and the quite nice salary that went along with it, and I'm the one who feels like I need to find a way to replace his salary. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but part of me feels like this is the chance for me to write my book, the chance for me to prove to myself that I can write and can make money doing it. I still have to go to my day job, I still have three kids to take care of, and I still have a mini-tri training schedule I've committed to. Can I really take on writing a book (actually I'm working on two books at present) while managing these other parts of my life? This is the big question for 2010. My goal is to revisit this question in a year and assess the outcome.

I do find it interesting that the more I take on the more I tend to get finished. I'm not quite sure how this happens. It actually seems counterintuitive, but something I do when committing to a project is I stop watching TV. The time freed up from doing this one thing is amazing. The first week or so I complain, moan and groan, and generally cry over having to give up something so enjoyable, but after week two, I realize I'm not all that sad any longer and I don't miss my favorite shows all that much.

One of the projects in the works, the excitement I'm getting from thinking about it, from working on it just a tiny bit each day, has been like a jolt of electricity to my whole being. I tried starting this project a couple of years ago, but it went nowhere very quickly. I abandoned it physically but not mentally, hoping inspiration would find me and whisper into my ear, helping me figure out how to proceed. Inspiration found me two days before Christmas, showing me the answer had been right in front of me all this time. I started writing the day after Christmas.

So it is with much excitement that 2009 ends and 2010 begins. I truly hope this same excitement is still with me in a year.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas 2009

The festivities are now over, and the itch to take down the tree, the decorations, the lights adorning the porch has struck. I'm determined to get through one more day of leaving everything alone, though, and have decided to do the tedious task tomorrow. In the process, the whole house will get a good cleaning, a winter cleaning, and maybe stay pristeen for a day, perhaps two, like the several inches of snow that has fallen since yesterday. We really did get a white Christmas. A beautiful white Christmas.

While I didn't take a picture of the inside of the mincemeat pie, the filling turned out very tasty. My dad loved it. I could tell by the closing of his eyes as he took his first bite, by the way his face took on a look of pure pleasure as he savored the flavors. He then gave a bite to my brother-in-law who doesn't like mincemeat pie at all, but after one bite of mine, my brother-in-law turned to me and said, "That's not mincemeat." The doctoring of the filling made even a die-hard naysayer come around and admit to liking my very first mincemeat pie.

Our Christmas was very simple this year. The kids each received the one item they really, really, really wanted. And that was about it. Instead of putting a lot of money into things, we scaled back and have been spending more time with each other, more time baking goodies, and more time cooking meals, sitting around our dining room table, and eating the meals. This past week has been one of the most enjoyable we've had in some time, simply because we decided to be with one another.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Toasty Warm House

I baked my very first mincemeat pie. Though I didn't actually do the whole thing from scratch, I did add in some special ingredients to enhance the flavor. I wish I could cut it to get a picture of the inside, but I can't as it is supposed to make its way over to my parents' home for Christmas Eve dinner tomorrow. Mincemeat is one of my dad's favorite pies, and since he's always saying he doesn't want anything for Christmas unless he can eat it or drink it, this is his gift from me. Along with what I hope turns out to be a good bottle of wine.

Because of the baking, the house is nice and warm today. Outside the weather is miserable: rain, rain, and more rain. All of the snow is gone after turning to mushy slush then dissolving altogether. Tomorrow more rain is to fall, and on Christmas more rain is to fall. I'm good with staying in, lounging in my pj's all day, reading, eating, and just relaxing.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sore Bum

The bike was brutal today. I had been using the recumbant bike until today. The seat on each, to say the least, is as different as sandpaper and cotton. My bum has been speaking to me ever since, and what it's been saying isn't fit for my mother to hear. How do cyclists do it? Do they wear padded shorts? I'm going to have to figure something out in order to get through the bike training.

The swim yesterday went well. I did the 400 meters like I would for the mini-tri, only taking very short breaks at the end of each lap. I was able to finish the 400 in fifteen minutes. I'd say that's not too shabby. My goal is to get down to ten minutes. That might be a bit lofty, and I'll settle for twelve or thirteen minutes, but I do think I can shave off quite a bit of time by not stopping at the end of each lap. After doing the initial 400 meters, I used a paddle board and did another 400 meters. At about the 300 meters mark, fatigue set in on my left side, making me vere to the left since the right side was doing all the work. This morning both sides from armpit to hip were sore. I found out I need to do some core work.

This whole training thing has been really good for me. The whole self-confidence thing is something I've always had a problem with. I've never felt comfortable walking into a gym or a pool and working out. I've always felt like others will look at me and wonder why the heck I'm even there. I've had somewhat of a breakthrough on this--no one is watching me. No one cares. They all are focused on themselves. I was the only one who cared. Now I'm focusing on myself and what I want to finish. So far, I've been able to finish each goal I've set for my workouts.

Tomorrow is running. My goal: finish under 35 minutes. Maybe the running will work out the soreness in the bum.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Year of Eating Healthfully

I've always had a hate relationship with the scale. Ever since sixth grade, when we had to be weighed in front of everyone, and I weighed in at a beefy 106 pounds, I've avoided scales and weighing myself. I didn't know it then, but I was five feet tall as a sixth grader, and according to the charts, I was only six pounds heavier than the chart said was normal. But even the chart didn't take into account the type of body one might have. Over the years, I've learned a lot about body types and how a person's body type affects what that person will weigh. Also, each individual has a weight that his/her body is most comfortable at, making it difficult for that person to get to a lower weight. All through high school, from freshman year through my senior year, I couldn't get under 150 pounds. I played volleyball, basketball, and ran track, but I could not budge the scale to 149 or less. Today, almost thirty years beyond high school, my weight still likes to edge up towards 150, but with a lot of diligence and cardio workouts, I'm maintaining in the lower 140's.

I still don't get on the scale very often. I definitely still have issues with the numbers, so I try to go by how my clothes are fitting. A year ago, my clothes were tight. I refused to buy new sizes as I knew I needed to do something to get the weight under control. When a person lives with someone who totally doesn't care about what goes into his/her mouth, that person starts adopting those same bad habits. It's just easier. And all that greasy food, that sweet food, that fast food starts showing up around the waist, on the hips, and all over the backside. My clothes were beginning to protest, and I'd know this for awhile though I just kept telling myself I was imagining it. Then I saw a picture of myself from Christmas at the in-laws. E-gad. That was enough for me to say enough.

The next day, I ordered P90X and began the ninety days of getting back into shape. I also bought a juicer to begin a juice cleanse. In the first ninety days, I lost twelve pounds. Not a huge amount of weight, but it was half of the total I wanted to lose. I knew it was going to take time. The pounds didn't pile up overnight, so they weren't going to come off overnight either. I also knew I needed to make a commitment to eating healthfully each and every day in order to avoid having to go through this again. When the ninety days ended, I switched to running on the treadmill and have been running ever since. I know I've lost a few more pounds, but I can't bring myself to get on the scale. I look at it everyday, but this awful feeling creeps through my limbs, spreads through my torso, and only when I walk away does the awful feeling abate. So I continue to go by what my clothes are telling me. They're all saying thank you now. All are much looser on me, and I bought a pair of size six slacks the other day. I have not been a size six ever. I was stunned. Profoundly happy, but stunned.

With nearly a year of self-improvement over, I'm looking forward to the another year of continued improvement. Now, the focus is less on losing the weight and more on increasing my endurance, less on the scale and the numbers that will stare back at me, and more on chosing healthy foods. I love shopping for healthy foods, trying all the different combinations of veggies that can go through the juicer, and being strong enough to say no to a cheeseburger and fries. This year has been a good year, and I'm confident the Christmas pictures will show this to be true.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


With my husband's impending layoff just around the corner, actually what we will wake up to on New Year's day, I've been feeling less than filled with holiday spirit. In fact, I've been on the edge of anger for a couple of weeks now. I know the layoff isn't because of anything he did/did not do while he was working this contract. In fact, we've known all along the contract would only last five years, and those five years have come and gone. The anger comes from my urging my husband to save as much as possible during the five years only to have him tell me saving isn't important. Now. . .now he's fretting about money. A lot of good the fretting will do at this point. On top of his refusal to save, he went out and bought a new truck last year. A brand new truck. Not a used one like I encouraged him to buy. A big, spankin' new truck. His reasoning? Because he wanted a new truck.

So now I have to take an overload at work to earn a little more money each month. Now I have to take out family insurance coverage that will take up most of the overload money. Now I have to work through the summer months to be sure we stay afloat. These things make me angry--mostly at myself. I left a marriage ten years ago because my ex didn't like to work. The kids and I were constantly scrounging through coat pockets and anywhere else we could think of to find enough change to buy a half gallon of milk. I finally said enough, I'm not going to live like this simply because the other adult in the household doesn't feel inclined to work. While I realize my husband has been working and is being laid off for reasons beyond his control, I still feel he's to blame for not having that extra money he was making in the bank. He made a lot of money over the last five years, and he insisted on spending it. No matter what I said, he did what he wanted to do. I feel like I've let myself fall into the same old routine of allowing the other adult in the household to behave badly. The one time I did put my foot down about a money issue, my husband was stunned. One time. One stinkin' time.

I've told my husband that come January, if he hasn't landed another position, I will take control of the money. He thinks I'm kidding when I say the first thing to go will be that truck. The second thing to go will be the huge cable package he insists we have to have. Just yesterday, he mentioned going out and buying a used car. Is he insane?

To help with the anger, I've been concentrating on the triathlon training. Things are going well. Now I'm going to do some cookie baking, and eating I'm sure, both of which help ease the anger. One other method I use to ease the anger is to look back over my Grand Canyon pictures. Seeing these put me back there, helping me remember the peacefulness the canyon exudes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Training Day 2

No swim yesterday. My training partner had some dental work done and wasn't feeling up to swimming, so we did some bike time instead. I went 13.6 miles in just under 50 minutes. I don't know if this is good or bad, but I'm going to try to do the 13.6 miles several times a week, working to bring the time down. I kind of surprised myself yesterday in completing the mileage without stopping or slowing down. I maintained a 16-18 mph speed the entire time. Another surprise is I'm not sore today. I guess all the running I've been doing is paying off. Who knew?

One idea I had is to take a day in a couple of weeks to do a run-through of a mini tri at the gym. I can do the swim, change and get on a bike, then go to the treadmill for the run. A mock trial would give me an indication of what I'm facing come April 2010. I just might find I'm in no shape at all to do something like this, which would be helpful in establishing a training schedule. I kind of what to test myself, too, just to see what my fitness level really is.

Today we will swim. I need to go 400 meters. I envision swimming one lap around a track, which is a really, really long ways. In a pool, maybe having a wall at each end giving me a little break will make the 400 meters seem more doable.

Doable. I like that word. I've reached a point in my life where I think anything and everything is doable. That's going to be my mantra from now on: anything and everything is doable.

Another ticker, this one for the biking. These are so much fun, and motivating.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Swim Day Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the beginning of the mini-tri training. Swimming. I've always been a strong swimmer, so I'm hoping this is the area where I can do well since I have a tough time with the running. I've been running three to four miles most days of the week, but I just cannot get myself to increase the pace. Twelve-minute miles seem to suit me just fine. Maybe with the swimming and the biking I'll see a change in the running. Maybe.

I've been training alone for most of the year. My husband started out with me, both of us working out, keeping track of what we ate, weighing in each Friday, and recording everything for the first 90 days of this year. When the 90 days ended, he stopped. He was doing so well, but now it's like he doesn't even care. He eats what seems like is constantly. He hasn't worked out or walked for months. The progress he made those 90 days is gone, and I'm incredibly disappointed that he has allowed himself to totally negate all the positive he accomplished. I just don't understand. Tomorrow I'll have a new training partner, a colleague who seems just as interested in being healthy as I am. This will be good for me. I think having someone there to push me is exactly what I need.

In any case, I'm going to do what I can to train for and complete the mini-tri. I see this as an opportunity to really push myself, see just what I can do. Now that I've been very mindful of what goes into my body for almost a year, I've found I just do not find food to be all that important. I do eat, but nothing tugs at me like it used to when I followed my husband's lead and ate whatever. I no longer eat fast foods. I no longer eat candy. I eat lots of fruits and veggies, sometimes juicing these in different combinations. With the addition of swimming and biking to the running, this combination just might be what I need to tone up even further.

To help motivate me, I've created a ticker to keep track of my swimming workouts. I hope to swim at least 400 meters each workout.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

And the Semester is Over

Every semester I always marvel at how quickly it seems the sixteen weeks go by. Sixteen weeks ago I was getting ready to hand out all the required paperwork and go through my usual this-is-how-the-class-will-work spiel. Now I'm returning the portfolios that demonstrate each student's successful or maybe not-so-successful semester. The portfolios mean a lot to me, maybe even more than they mean to the students who write the papers, the journal entries, the reflection essays that make up the final collection of work. As I go through them, I see the improvement made by those who want to do more than just slide by. I remember the days we worked on certain papers, the exercises I had the students do to improve their writing. I always wonder what I could have done differently to help those who are borderline; they completed all the work, but their writing shows they either didn't put in the effort needed or they just don't get the concepts that make up the course. These situations are always tough to call. I end up sitting with each of these students and discussing the options. These conversations help me try to make the right call, but at times, I continue questioning myself far into the next semester.

I'm already thinking of and making changes for next semester. One of my bigger projects is to go as paperless as possible. I purchased a penpad to use to respond to student work that will be sent to me electonically rather than given to me as hard copies. I've tried out the penpad a couple of times this semester with willing students, and the ones who received their papers back with my response given via penpad liked how I was able to write on their papers just as if I had done it on a hard copy. My penmanship leaves a bit to be desired, but I'm going to continue practicing with it over break to try and improve that. It'll be interesting to see if I can pull off using less paper by using the penpad.

I have other ideas for change in the works, and I'm sure I'll write about these. For now, I'm going to set my sights on other projects, projects I have a hard time getting to during the semester due to time constraints. One project is the book I've started. I should be finishing up chapter 3, but I keep going back to flesh out the characters a little more in chapters 1 and 2, so chapter 3 has come to a standstill. I need to take the advice I give to my students: don't go back, go forward. I can go back later, after getting further into the book, but for now it's important to move forward to get a framework into place.

So here goes. I have some time before picking kids up from school. I'm going to use that time to go foward in the book.

Monday, November 30, 2009

New Challenge

I've been lurking at triathlon sites, reading about what it takes to complete a competition, when lo and behold, a friend asked me today if I'd be interested in training for a mini. I haven't wanted to spend the money to go to a gym for use of a pool, so I've not taken the necessary step to really train for something like this. But my friend has access to a pool and can invite a friend. How coinky-dink is this? I jumped on the offer, and by the time I left work today, we agreed to begin training for a mini-triathlon that is scheduled for April 2010. We both registered for the event to confirm our commitment, so there's no turning back. I'm stoked.

I've been running regularly on the treadmill, having decided to run a 10K and having decided to work on improving my time, so the running part is coming along. Last night I ran my first ever 10-minute mile. It felt so good. I've had the treadmill set at a 1% incline ever since the 5K, so I do feel like I'm making headway. My goal with the running part of the mini is to run it under 30 minutes. Since this will be the last part of the competition, I know I'm going to be tired from the swim and the biking, but I have almost five months to train. Hopefully I can increase my stamina during this training period.

The only problem I have right now is no bike. I don't think my three-speed cruiser is really cut out for something like this. Maybe a mini-triathlon bike is what I should ask Santa for for Christmas this year.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

OMG

The movie 2012 is absolutely horrible. It is a complete waste of three hours. I knew it was going to be, but every Thanksgiving we have family movie day, and this year the drawing from the hat went to 2012, which wasn't my choice. I had to suck it up and deal with it, and let me say, dealing with it was painful. I mean come on, an end of the world story involving the oceans rising, arks complete with animals, and a main character by the name of Noah. On top of all this, the message about Christians is very clear: Christians are bad and will be the ones who will bite the dust in the end, as is evidenced by the Christ the Redeemer crumbling and the Vatican disintegrating. Pa-leeze. The best parts of the movie were the few intimate last minute conversations between some individuals. Unfortunately the movie has few of these conversations.

My youngest was unsure about seeing this movie since it is about the world as we know it coming to an end. Things of this nature bother him, so to help him out, I talked him through the movie by discussing the special effects. When it was all said and done, he gave the movie the thumbs down and suggested next time we see a more upbeat flick. I have to agree. I reached the point about a year ago where I decided to stop reading the news, watching the news, and watching downer movies or TV shows. I decided to fill my time with lighthearted and pleasurable activities. I haven't felt like I've missed much. Instead, I've had the most creative time of my life, and I am excited about the many ideas I'm coming up with for future projects.

Speaking of which--I need to work on a chapter of the book I'm writing or I can work on a wire sculpture I've started. Perhaps I'll work on both.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Gotta Luv It

The breaking news of the global warming emails that suggest cover up, lies, and deceit, such as Gerald Warner's blog article, just make me say, uh huh, knew it all along. I've been a skeptic from day one, and on occasion I've had some intense discussions with family members. Like many in the global warming believing group, family members play the "all scientists agree" card. I've always thought and said if that's the case we're in trouble. We'd be opening ourselves up to further cover ups, lies, and disingenuous discussion. We need scientists who disagree. We need debate.

Being part of the academy, I know only too well how lonely it can be working where the majority hold opposite beliefs. While I have many friends, I make a point not to get into discussions that include politics, religion, and a whole host of other categories. I sit quietly and let my colleagues who are also my friends carry on their discussions which usually have them preaching to the choir made up of each other. One dear friend often refers to these discussions as "circle jerks." At least he sees them for what they are.

Recently several of us have been going back and forth on a very popular book series that has been turned into movies, creating a cultural phenomenon. While I agree the books-to-movies success has been extraordinary, I don't agree the books and the movies offer anything exceptional. I couldn't get through book 3 in the series, and I thought the latest movie was brilliantly boring. The only fun in going to see it was being with my friends who are completely taken in by all the hype. We still carry on debates about what can be deemed worthy in regards to the books and the movies, and I am the odd person out, but the odd people out are necessary. All sides of an issue should be examined. The more gleened from an issue the better it can be understood.

I know lots of people disagree with me even now, but I'm good with that. I want people to disagree--everyone agreeing would make for a tremendously mind-numbing world.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Finding Peace

In March my middle child experienced a situation at the school he was then attending, which resulted in him being disciplined. He wasn't allowed to participate with the track team, and he was given a written disciplinary notice that went into his file. The situation happened during a field trip, and after much discussion between the parents of some students involved as well as some of the teachers involved, I was convinced the teachers were more at fault than any of the students. It seemed the teachers were not supervising the rather large group of students carefully, which resulted in some of the students behaving badly. My son, though he did not actually participate in the bad behavior, was deemed guilty by association. Needless to say, I was furious with how the teachers as well as the administration of the school handled the discipline. This was the beginning of the end for my son attending this school.

The end of his attending this particular school came after two teachers involved in the field trip incident continued to treat my son badly. I was quite vocal about my feelings about the whole matter, and in response, these two teachers took it upon themselves to do everything within their power to prove to me what a bad child I have. It got so bad that my son refused to get out of bed in the mornings to get ready for school. He refused to do his homework, ending up in tears each evening as we sat at the kitchen table, me encouraging him to continue on, him sitting there with tears on his cheeks. Everytime I asked him to talk to me about what was happening, he would just shake his head. Finally, one day I emailed both teachers, asking them if they could possibly send me the homework assignments so I could have them, look over them before the nightly session at the kitchen table. Both teachers refused to send me the assignments, saying the students spend ten minutes each day copying the assignments into their agendas. My question was while the kids are doing this, why couldn't the teachers use that same time to shoot me an email with the assignments listed? Both replied if they did it for me they would have to do it for all the parents. My answer was, yeah, so and this is a problem why? It's not difficult to make a group email account. It's not difficult to attach documents. It wasn't lost on me that these two just didn't want to work with me. So much for parents being involved with their kids' education.

The day these two teachers refused to help me out, I took my son out of that school and enrolled him in the public school not far from our house. The change has been absolutely dramatic. This 12 year old boy went from not wanting to get out of bed to getting up early to shower, dress, eat, and make sure he had all his schoolwork together. His whole demeanor went from dark and gloomy to sunny and happy. His grades went from C's and D's to A's and B's. At the end of the school year, my son thanked me for taking him out of his old school and putting him in the new school. Today, that boy is still eager to go to school, is earning honor roll grades, and is finding out there are nice, caring teachers out there.

So, why tell all this? Because one of the offending teachers used to be a good friend of mine. We have sons who are in the same grade and are friends. Now, however, we don't speak and our sons don't spend time together outside of school. For awhile I tried to talk to her, tried to mend fences, tried to keep our boys together, but she continues to offer the cold shoulder. She no longer speaks to me unless I make a point to speak to her first. She no longer allows her son to spend the night with my son, and if her son does come over, she will not pick him up herself; she sends her husband or her oldest to get him. I've been very sad about the whole situation. The other day, though, I finally gave myself permission to let it go. I decided she didn't want to be friends any longer and nothing I do is going to change that. I also decided I did not have to be friendly to someone who didn't want me to be. Interestingly enough, at that moment, I saw this individual walking towards me as I was dropping my youngest off at school (he still attends there since that's the only school he's ever attended and all his friends are there). I simply turned the other way and left. A feeling of relief flowed through me, like with this decision I had created a kind of peace for myself.

I like peace.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Did It!

I finished my first 5K. I even shaved 1 minute 20 seconds off my usual time. I give that credit to my daughter who pushed me the first mile. After that, I had to slow it down or I wasn't going to make it. Poor Dear Daughter had to reduce her usual pace to stay with me. I told her to go on, to give it her best, but she was very sweet and stayed with me the whole race. Towards the end, my legs were feeling quite tired. I don't usually run outside. I'm a treadmill runner. There's a big difference between running 3 miles outside v. on the treadmill, and I was feeling that big difference kicking in. The last tenth of mile I saw my hubby standing at the corner, smiling big. That's all it took for me to kick it in and finish. Between him and my daughter, I was able to find it within to complete what I set out to do. I'm one lucky woman.

My daughter even told me afterwards, "This is going to be a mother/daughter tradition for us."

I certainly hope it is.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thoughts on Listening

Listening is something I'm good at. I get accused of not saying a whole lot, of being "the quiet one." This is because I'm listening. I'd much rather listen than talk.

I know some people who talk just to hear their own voices. Annoying. Several of these people think they're funny. They're not. They're just irritating. Why do they talk constantly? Are they that uncomfortable with silence?

I love silence. I've noticed I've become very sensitive to the slightest noise. Even the hum of the furnace running gets on my nerves at times. I have to turn it off to get some relief. Some nights I've had to leave my bed because my husband's breathing is too loud. While his breathing is not actual snoring, it's close--ragged, throaty breaths that chase the quiet from the room. Since it keeps me awake, I get up and go to the couch. Sometimes I just go to my computer and work until I can't keep my eyes open any longer. I'll return to bed because I know then I will be able to sleep despite the noise in the room.

When someone calls me the quiet one, I apologize. What else can I say? It's like I'm being accused of something subversive, so I say I'm sorry. Usually the person will then say something like they can tell there's a lot going on in my mind, that I'm just not saying it. Perhaps that is true. Perhaps I just figure some things are better left unsaid. My motto has always been only speak if whatever it is I have to say is worthwhile. And doesn't hurt the person I'm with.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Haunted

The sadness over the suicide of a young man I only met once envelopes me constantly. I keep returning to the thoughts of how much potential no longer exists, of what could have beens won't be realized. Of how beautiful he truly was. Why didn't he see these things about himself?

I keep back the tears, not wanting my family to see the sadness I'm wrapped in right now. I'm not sure they would understand. I don't even understand it myself. I didn't really know him but for the one day I spent enjoying his writing. He gave me a gift that day, and I told all I knew who would apprciate it about that gift. He had a gift to give the world. Why didn't he realize this?

What haunted him so much?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sadness

I didn't know him well. I'd only met him once, for a day of writing on campus, a day when area high school students came to enjoy the kind of writing they were interested in. He was one of three students I worked with that day. Yesterday he took his own life.

I remember being awed by him. He was the kind of bright that makes a person just want to sit and chat, hear all ideas because they're good ones. He was the kind of writer that worked magic with words. He just did it. So many of us struggle to put words on paper, but his fingers flew over the keyboard. He had so much to look forward to. Or so I thought.

I don't know the particulars. I don't really want to know. I do know I wish he was still with us.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Getting Nervous

My first 5K is just around the corner, and I didn't run all last week. Stupid. Very stupid. The papers piled up, and I just couldn't justify going out for an hour run with three classes of papers waiting to be read. I've always prided myself on only having student work for a week. Never longer. The result was not having the time to run. Today I got out, took a three-mile walk with the dog, and I could tell I hadn't run in a week. Just walking was difficult.

All week, with the pile of papers, I kept thinking there has to be a better way. Part of me thinks I should lighten up on the week-only rule I have. If students don't get their papers back after a week's time, do they really care? I decided to find out. I kept the papers from one class for a second week, telling the students I just hadn't been able to get to them since there were several parts to the whole project and it was taking me longer than usual to get through the papers. All of this is true. The students' response was no problem, totally undertandable. We just went to work on another project, moving forward in the course, and all is well.

For the next two weeks, I'll be working on getting back to where I was before taking the week off. Hopefully I'm not as out of shape as I thought I was earlier today. I am kind of sad, though, that my running ticker isn't moving as fast as it was through July, August and September. I was really hoping to get to 500 miles by December 31. I'm barely into the 200s, and it's that I just don't have the energy to do the 5 miles each day now that I'm well into the semester. With my work, the kids' school activities, and the usual other stuff, I'm barely able to get in 3 miles a day.

All I can do is what I can do. Two weeks to the 5k. I can do this.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Goodbye Football, Hello Simplifying

Football season is over. The boys had their last games yesterday, and both enjoyed victories. The youngest hasn't played much all season since he's fairly new to the game, but he did get to see some action yesterday. My oldest son played quite a bit, and yesterday, though he wasn't feeling 100%, he went out there and had a great game. His team finished the season 8-0, scoring 20 or more points against their opponenets and not being scored on at all. That's quite a team.

Part of me is sad to see the season end, but another part is looking forward to not having anything planned each Saturday afternoon. Having quiet weekends will be wonderful, refreshing. I'm sure we'll end up filling those days with other things, but I'm really going to try not to. I've been thinking a lot of reducing, simplifying, and what better time to do so than now? The difficult part will be getting the others to go along with me on the simplifying our lives. Seems like they like going, doing, being active all the time. There's something to be said for staying home, enjoying not having to be anywhere, doing anything, seeing anyone.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ughhhhh! Midterm!

The semester has been a bit rough. Not just for me, but for many of my colleagues, too. I don't know what's going on, but dang, if it's not a student coming in with nothing prepared that should have been prepared, it's a student getting into a car accident because the driver of the other car was texting while driving. If it's not a colleague having to deal with family issues and thus needs someone to cover his classes, it's a colleague out sick, really sick. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm ready to get this semester over with. It's like a huge black cloud is hanging over the college right now, and that cloud just needs to move on out of here.

I did get my midterm grades turned in before the deadline, so that is a positive. Not sure the students will see it that way when they get their grades, but hey, que sera sera.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Those Little Encounters

Yesterday I had an encounter with a stranger that has left me thinking about it still today. It wasn't anything major, and I really don't know why I'm thinking about it. I do think, though, that something happened, something that I'm supposed to pay attention to, but again, just like I don't know why I'm still thinking about him, I don't know why I'm supposed to pay attention to my encounter with him.

All I was doing was getting coffee for me and my husband before we set off for a two hour drive to his mom's. As I stood at the counter, waiting for my husband's hashbrowns, I looked to my right. A rather tall, handsome man stood a foot or so away. He was dressed casually, in a fashionable athletic outfit, and he gave the impression that he knew what looked good on him. He had graying hair and a graying moustache. He was one of those guys that is aging really gracefully. He looked at me, and I mean really looked at me, not just this passing glance that so many of us give one another while in a public space. He then smiled and said hello, still holding eye contact. I wondered if he knew me somehow. I didn't recognize him as anyone I know, but he gave me the impression that I should know him. When the girl behind the register asked him what he wanted to order, he pointed to my large decaf and said, "Coffee that size." He then looked pointedly at me again, smiling like he and I were the only ones who understand what it means to need that much coffee. When I gathered up my coffees and hashbrowns, I turned to leave, and he again looked at me with that warm, I-know-you kind of smile on his face. I smiled in return, feeling the strangeness of the whole situation but at the same time feeling like I needed to know who he is.

Now I really would like to know who the guy is. The logical person in me, which is about 98% of who I am, knows how crazy it is that I'm thinking about him and wondering who he is. The logical person in me also realizes that my wondering is piqued by the license plate on his SUV: NHL HAWKS. Was he a former Blackhawks player? Did I miss an opportunity to really meet someone who played for the Hawks? If I did, stupid me. Stupid me for being the shy, introverted person that I am. If I had been extroverted, I would have just up and asked, "Do I know you?" But no. I had to just give my usual half smile and leave. And now I'll be wondering who the guy is for who knows how long.

Maybe the lesson here is that I need to be less introverted, that I need to look, really look, at those around me when I'm out. Perhaps as I'm being less introverted, as I'm really looking at the people I see in stores and restaurants, I'll see this guy again. If I do, I'm going to ask him who he is.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fall Has Set In

I love fall. The leaves changing to red, gold, yellow, and brown always make me nostalgic for the falls of my childhood, when we lived in southern Michigan. The smell lingering in the air, that of cleansing away the heat of summer and vegetation becoming part of the earth, makes me inhale deeply, filling my lungs, my being with what it might mean to be in the later stages of life. The brisk air means I can wear my flannel pajamas, which I hurriedly change into everyday right after I return home from work. I settle in for the evening, snuggling into the couch to watch TV or read a good book (sometimes a bad book). Darkness creeps in earlier, making me slow down, not feel the need to always be doing something just because there is still daylight. Soon we will set our clocks back an hour, shortening our daylight hours even further and giving me even more reason to settle in early.

Sometimes I think I'm still too young to stay in as much as I do. I've never been one to want to go out in the evenings. I'm perfectly happy being at home. My boys are like this, and I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not. Perhaps they will change as they get older. My daughter loves being out with her friends, so the boys, when they are able to drive, will probably follow suit. For now, though, they're content to be at home, huddled with me on the couch. Lately, we've shifted to my bed which accommodates my husband, me, the boys, and the dog. We've had many nights of movies, popcorn, and talk while hanging out on the bed.

Today the rain has settled in. I'm really looking forward to this evening when I can don the flannel, fill a bowl with popcorn, lounge on the couch, and call it a day. Even if it's only five o'clock, that's okay with me.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Back in the Game

Ahhhh. It's so nice to be over feeling awful. I so seldom get sick that when I do I feel really horrible. I usually don't get down for too long, though, which is always nice. I've bounced back pretty good from being sick last week. I did take more time off from running than I wanted to, but I figured I'd be better off by taking a few more days than pushing it and not getting better quicker. I got back at it this morning, only two miles, but that's okay. I'll work my way back to where I was.

My favorite season began a couple of days ago. I love fall. The trees changing, the temps falling, the air taking on a musky smell urge me to just sit back and relax. I find I do seem to slow down, pay more attention to what's going on around me. The pumpkins are ready to be set on the front porch. The yellow mums are bright in the gray light of the rainy days. Doesn't get much better than this.

I'm getting things ready for my second charity dinner. My first dinner was last fall, when the priest of our church challenged us to take a hundred dollars and make it multiply, with all the proceeds going to those in need in Appalachia. I took on the challenge and found I love doing this kind of thing. My friends and family joined us for an evening of soup, bread, and wine, and when it was all over, we had raised over $800 to send to Appalachia. This year, since the dinner isn't directly connected to church, we're asking our guests to bring a bag of groceries that we will deliver to Clare House, an organization that helps feed those in need right here in our community. I have a little over a month to get everything in place for the dinner, which I hope is even better than last year's. This go around, a good friend is going to sing for us. She has the most beautiful voice. Another friend is painting a watercolor for me, and we'll raffle this off, with the proceeds going to Clare House. I hope to convince another friend to play his guitar for us, allowing us to enjoy his music. Hopefully the dinner will be as successful as last year's.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I need to get on the invitations. I already sent out the save the date, so everyone invited knows about the dinner. I just need to send out the official invitations. Since I'm making them myself, I need to get on it. I have parts of them finished. Today would be a good day to complete them all the way around. I could then get them in the mail by Monday.

Sounds like a plan.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Down and Out

A nasty cold took hold of me on Sunday and hasn't let go since. I've been going to work until today, when I was on my way but could barely keep my eyes open to drive. I figured it was time to cave and just stay home. The world certainly isn't going to stop because I can't make one day of classes. And I certainly wasn't doing myself any favors by trying to go on like I'm 100%. I tell my students to stay home if they are coughing and sneezing, so I took my own advice and confined myself to bed for the day. I slept until almost 2. When I woke up and saw what time it was, I was stunned. I knew I was feeling completely worn down, and I knew I hadn't been sleeping much at all for the last three nights, but I didn't expect to go back to bed this morning and sleep for six hours straight. It's amazing to me how our bodies try to tell us, but we don't listen most of the time. I'm feeling quite a bit better now, thanks to uninterrupted sleep.

Maybe I'm now on the mend. I sure hope so. I don't like not having the energy to do the things I love to do. I haven't run since Saturday, and now I'm beating myself up for not getting some mileage in. It's going to be a long road back to where I was before getting this bug. At least it looks like I don't have the dreaded H1N1 flu, or just the flu in general, but maybe I should knock on wood just to have a little extra magical protection.

Now, I think I'll go read the book I downloaded onto my kindle the other day. I saw Thirty Days of Night recently and saw that it was originally a graphic novel. I enjoyed the movie very much, and since I'm waiting very impatiently for the next Sookie Stackhouse book, I thought I'd check out the Thirty Days of Night books. The first one, which isn't the book the movie is based on, starts after the end of Thirty Days of Night. So far it's good and I'm enjoying it. I think I've found a series to keep me interested until the new Sookie book comes out in May.

I guess one good thing comes from feeling puny--being able to sit back and enjoy a good read.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Working on My Mind

I finally did it. I ran three whole miles without walking at all. And I've done this more than once now. I even ran five miles the other day. I'm finding that once I get the first half mile in I sort of fall into a zone. It may be a slow zone, but I get there and keep going for the three miles. I know I can now complete a 5k, and this makes me want to go to work on bettering my time. My friends laugh at my time--12 minute miles--but it's a start. By November, when the 5k is, hopefully I can bring it down to around 30 minutes. I know my daughter will push me since she's faster, so maybe I could even get lower than 30. That would be great.

Being able to get my mind into the mix has been a long time coming. I'm getting there, though, and for that I'm happy.

Updated mileage ticker:

Monday, September 7, 2009

Jumbolicious

Only three yards separate him from the goal line
where if he can get the ball across,
his team will gain two points, and be in a fine
position to hand the other team their second loss
of the yet still young season.

He's called The Beast by his teammates, being
taller, heavier, a mostly-grown bull amongst calves.
His usual position is on the line, right guard, steaming
foward when he hears the call, cutting in halves
two defenders double teaming.

But on this play, this very special play known
as Jumbolicious, he's off the line, now a fullback
who receives the ball, hopefully carrying it to the endzone,
battling enemies determined to crack
his armour, tear him down, leave him prone.

His comrades crouch low, ready to spring to action,
pushing, shoving, opening a hole
for The Beast to crash through; his cleats find traction
on the close-cut grass, and he rolls
toward the white line, seeking satisfaction.

Fingers clutch at his jersey, pulling him
left, pulling him right, but head down,
ball tight to his chest, face grim,
he moves foward, focused on the crown
that will be his.

He is The Beast working Jumbolicious.



This is for my son who plays football. Initially I was hesitant to let him play, but now that he is in his second season and I see the positives that have come from him playing, I see the value of being a part of this sport. Yes, it is somewhat violent, but my son is still the easy-going, gentle giant we've always known. He's found out he's pretty good at this game, and I love the confidence that's grown in him from being good. This confidence has carried over into other parts of his life, and for that I am grateful.

An Almost Insatiable Desire

That's what I've been feeling for some time now about writing. The problem? I'm not writing. Why? Everytime I sit down to try and churn something out, nothing actually comes out. How can it be that the kind of want I'm feeling exists but nothing comes of it?

So, instead, I've been reading lots of different works: Emerson, Whitman, Tolle and others. I feel like there is so much out there to learn about and not near enough time to learn it all. Part of me thinks perhaps I'm not meant to be a writer. After all, I am forty-five years old now, and if it were meant to be, wouldn't I have already written something worthwhile? Another part of me says age shouldn't be a factor; lots of successful writers didn't make it until after mid-life. It comes down to persistance. Which is it?

I'm not ready to give up, which I think is a good sign. I'm going to keep chipping away at it until I either write something that is deemed worthy or another five years goes by with nothing being the end result. Maybe at that point I'll admit I'm not a writer. Maybe.

Until then, I'm going to yield to the insatiable desire I'm feeling and look at it as yielding to a beautiful, persistant lover.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Glimpse Into The World of Football

With summer basketball finished, it's time to begin football. Both sons are playing this year, one for the Juniors and one for JV. I've never been a true blue football fan, but after watching the oldest play for the first time last fall, I've become more interested in it. We go to their practices, set up our chairs, then settle in to watch for two hours. Sometimes I take a book or my computer, but mostly I just watch. Last night was the first practice for this season, and both boys went to work like football was in their genes. Definitely a guy thing.

My husband is in heaven, having two boys playing football. Though he's not the biological father of the kids, he has always acted like he is. He's always treated the kids like he's the one who was there to change diapers, nurse them when they were sick, help them with homework, or whatever. Even when he talks about the kids, it's "my kids." He is the only father the kids have known for the last seven years, so all three of them look to him as "dad." Though they still call him by his first name, I've noticed when they refer to him to their friends, at times they just call him Dad. These days, Dad is loving every minute of watching two young boys play football.

While I'm not a huge football fan, I do like what I see it doing to my oldest son. He used to be incredibly timid, and I think a lot of this is my fault. He's always been so much bigger than his brother that I've constantly reinforced the idea of being gentle. Though they are only two years apart, physically they look five years apart. My oldest is only 12, but most people mistake him for being 16, 17. He's going into 7th grade, standing 5'8" and weighing 167 pounds. Most boys his age are several inches shorter and quite a few pounds lighter. All of his friends are shorter and lighter, and up until last fall, my son showed how his height and weight made him feel out of place. By the end of football season, after the coach encouraged him to use the advantage he owned exactly because of that height and weight, my son started walking a little straighter. He used to round his shoulders to appear shorter, but now he puts those shoulders back and actually loves to show just how tall he is. And at the last two practices, he's shown that he remembers what he learned last year and how he's capable of putting it into action. It's a lot of fun to see him so confident.

Even his brother is getting into the mix of football. He's a little hothead, so being able to hit people legitimately is much to his liking. The grin on his face after practice says so much more than words ever could, and listening to the two boys talk football during the ride home offers a little bit of insight into their relationship (which has always been a close one). I can see the two becoming even closer, sharing something that to a large degree excludes the rest of us. They have their own little world, and that's kind of cool to see.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Winding Down

With summer vacation winding down, my thoughts are turning to returning to work. The time for getting paperwork in order is approaching, and I'm of two minds about it. Part of me is ready to get back into the routine of classes, but another part of me is resisting the idea of having to live by that routine. One last week remains before I have to hang up my summer hat.

We returned yesterday from a week traveling. My husband's job is secure for another six months, so we decided to take the summer vacation we'd canceled a couple of weeks ago. Our journey started with a return to two of my childhood homes. I hadn't seen either home for more than 30 years. Part of me was really hoping both homes would be the exact same now as they were so many years ago. Unfortunately, neither were. My favorite of the two, an old farmhouse with a a long drive and a big red barn out back is now mostly just the farmhouse. The barn is gone, and many of the trees from the front yard, along the drive, are gone as well. Even the old windmill that we climbed as kids is no longer part of the scenery. The only reason I knew it was the house we lived in many years ago was the address on the mailbox. It seemed to be the only thing that hadn't changed.

From there, we went north, through Michigan to Mackinac City. We spent the night there, in a little red cabin. I awoke during the night and lay there listening to the quiet. The next morning, my husband asked if I had noticed how still and quiet the night had been. This was surprising as we were right in the middle of hotel row. That little red cabin insulated us from the outside world.

The next day we traveled into Canada, to Sault St. Marie then on to Little Current. Little Current captured my heart. This small, quiet harbor village is the essence of quaint. I could live there and be completely happy. Sailboats from faraway places pulled in for the night, and we had a great view of them from our room in the Anchor Inn, an old building housing a restaurant/bar and rooms that conjure up images of lovers secretly meeting and hiding from the world. I'm going to go back there one day.

After a night in Little Current, we caught the ferry to Tobermory. Our hotel here was away from the busyness of this tourist spot. We sat in adirondack chairs on the lawn, our view again that of docked sailboats. Other vacationers sat with us, the soft murmur of voices along with the boats rubbing against the docks, water lapping against the rocks, the only noises drifting across the air.

From Tobermory, we made our way to Toronto. After being away from dense populations, Toronto was a shock. None of us liked Toronto per se. We liked the CN Tower, the city lights at night, and getting to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, but the mass of people we could do without. We left a day early to head on to Buffalo, NY. Our last day was spent at Niagra Falls, with a ride on Lady of the Mist, then just sitting and enjoying the falls.

Not a bad way to finish off the summer. In fact, I'm very grateful for being able to take the trip, see parts of Canada that were absolutely beautiful and parts that were not, as well as parts of the US I'd never seen before. I have lots more memories for my memory bank, memories that I can pull out and laugh over years down the road.

Hanging up the summer hat won't be so bad I guess. It does seem now, as I think back over the past week, that my summer cup certainly is full, even overflowing. Life is good.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Funny Summer

Weatherwise anyway. Still cloudy and cool days. Even cooler nights. We're pleased as punch not to have to have the air conditioner on, but here we are on the downslide of July, getting close to having to return to school, and the weather has not allowed us to get to the pool on a regular basis. This morning, I decided I'm tired of being cold. I want to wear shorts and sleeveless shirts, but the breeze is too cool for even this. Right now I'm in sweats to try and stay warm. Hopefully August will bring warmer days. The cool nights can stay as they are great sleeping weather.

The cool weather is great for working out. Being in the garage can be unbearable at times because of no air circulation. With the cool weather, I can walk/jog on the treadmill for a long time without getting overheated. I'm logging some serious miles, helping my little ladybug along her journey to 500 miles. I should have over 100 miles for the month, which is a good start for me. I do need to pick it up a bit and try to increase my speed. If I'm going to run a 5K, I need to work to up the speed. I don't want to cross the finish line in 30+ minutes. My goal is to stay under 30. My daughter is running again, getting ready to start cross country, and she said she'd run with me, so maybe with her I can come in under 30 minutes.

I've found my dream house. It's absolutely wonderful. It's an old, huge brick house on five acres. We went and walked around it the other evening. No one is living in it right now, and from what we've found out with some help from the internet is that a senior citizen was living there until October 2008. We're guessing this person either died or is now living with a relative or in a nursing home, and the family is wanting to sell the house. Words cannot describe this house. I stood in awe outside it the other evening, just mesmerized by its grandeur. I'm going to be in that house one day. My kids are going to be running around the five acres, enjoying the freedom that comes with country living. My husband is going to be mowing the lawn on his riding mower, loving being able to mow with a fun machine. We will be there. I just know it with all my heart.

One other activity I've started is meditation. I'm taking 15 minutes each morning to sit quietly, relaxing, listening, and being grateful. Since I started this, I feel like I'm walking around with a constant smile on my face. My husband noticed this the other day and asked what I'm so happy about. I just shrugged and said, "Everything." I like feeling this way. I'm now finding I want to learn about meditation, its benefits. There's so much out there on the subject it's difficult to sort through it all, but I did find a book on the bargain cart yesterday that I picked up because I'm familiar with the author, John Assaraf, and he is very knowledgeable about meditation, affirmations, and visualization. I'm on chapter 3 and am really enjoying what I'm reading. The concepts aren't difficult, but putting them into practice on a daily basis is. That's where I am: working to make these positive practices a part of my life without even thinking about it.

So, my parting for the day is a line from the book. This is what has spoken most loudly to me so far: "Most people focus on exactly what they don't want and wonder why it always shows up: They tune in to WIDW ("What I Don't Want") and are suprised that's the station they hear." I've already changed my station.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Crummy Weather and Worries

This summer doesn't seem much like summer. Lots of clouds, lots of rain, lots of dreary days. The sun hasn't crushed us like in past summers, and I'm kind of happy about not using the air conditioner nearly as much, but it would be really nice to see the sun, be able to go to the pool with the kids, and just snooze on the lounge chair while basking in the warmth. This morning the sky is clear. I'm wondering how long it'll be before the clouds roll in.

Plus, we didn't take our annual summer vacation. Job worries. The hubby doesn't know yet if his job will continue. He's tense. I'm tense. Things will certainly change around here if he finds himself laid off. We've played a lot the last couple of year, which has been really fun, but we'll have to pull on the reins quite a bit if we find out the job is eliminated. We can make it on my salary, but we'll not be able to play like we used to. I'm okay with that. I've been saying all along we need to be more financially responsible. There'll be no way around it if hubby finds out he's out of a job.

For right now, we're just trudging along, hoping for the best. What else can we do? Maybe today, with the sun shining, the clear, cool air, this is a sign of better things to come.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I Used to Hate Running

But now I don't. I started running in June to try and move some of these extra pounds that are refusing to budge. I'm up to two measly miles, but that's two more than I used to do, so I figure two's not so bad. I'm contemplating running a 5K which means I'll have to be able to run at least 3 miles nonstop. Thankfully, I found a great website called Couch to 5K that offers weekly workouts to help one get off the couch and into 5K shape. While I just found the site this week, thanks to the wonderful site called My Fitness Pal, I'm around Week 4 in training, so that's what I'll be working on this week.

Last night I walked/jogged a total of 6 miles, finishing all sweaty and tired. I love being sweaty and tired, though. Makes me feel like I've accomplished something. Six miles is the farthest I've ever gone in one workout. Now I'm thinking maybe a longer walk/jog on the weekend, maybe eight or nine miles. I can map out my route before I go, using another neat website, so I know exactly where I'm going the whole time. So many cool websites out there to help those of us trying to get in shape, make a lifestyle change, get away from the yummy but unhealthy foods surrounding us all the time. The internet truly is a wonder thing.

Now I'm considering getting a heart rate monitor. I'd like to know if I really am hitting my target heart rate and how many calories I'm burning each time I workout. When I put in my walk/jog times each evening and see how many extra calories I earned for the day, I feel motivated to keep it up, and I think a HRM would be a bit more accurate overall. My miles ticker is fun, too. It's cool to see the ladybug move further across the books after I input my miles for the day. Again, from another website that helps one get psyched for working out.




So, I'm off. Time to change and get my arse in gear.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Finally

A week ago I stumbled upon a website called MyFitnessPal. I've been wanting to record everything I eat each day to see just how many calories I'm consuming, and I thought there should be something available online to help me out. Lo and behold, I found MFP. Love it. Absolutely love it. After the first week of keeping track of what I eat as well as the exercise I'm putting in each day, I lost 1.6 pounds. I'm now in week two, and my husband can tell I'm still losing even though I won't get on the scale until Friday. I can tell, too. My clothes fit better than ever, and I'm not afraid to look at myself in the mirror anymore. I had gotten to the point where I wouldn't look at myself naked in the mirror; I just hated how I looked. Now I stand there and examine myself from different angles, liking what I see.

I started this weight loss venture in December, right after Christmas, right after seeing a picture of me where it was sooooooo obvious that I'd gained quite a bit of weight over the last two years. I already knew it. I could see it in how my clothes didn't fit comfortably--I was in complete denial about this and continued to wear the clothes I had though I knew the seams were screaming for relief. Not wanting to see myself naked was a huge clue, too, which was about this same time. So I bought P90X and began the program. I stuck with it for the 90 days and lost 12 pounds. I did the before pics and after pics, the after pics showing some improvement from top to bottom. Upon finishing the 90 days, I switched over to walking. From April to the end of May, I walked everyday, but I wasn't really working out. I wasn't really watching what I was eating either. I was juicing, doing the veggies, the fruits, and yoyo-ing with the same four pounds, mosting staying at 151 and becoming very frustrated. That's when I decided to track everything I'm eating. That's when I found MFP.

At MFP I can record every little thing I eat, and I've been faithful about doing so. Knowing I can only have 1200 calories if I don't exercise helps me really think about what I'm putting into my body. The other day, I had a package of M & M's and found out there's 240 calories and 90 grams of fat. That put me over in calories and fat allotted for the day, so I had to adjust my exercise. I ended up walking/jogging for over an hour that day to compensate. I probably won't have M & M's for quite some time now since it's ingrained in me now how empty those calories were and how much fat one little package contains. It's not worth it.

And the exercising is going along swimmingly, as well. I'm now able to jog/run two miles without stopping. Yesterday, I walked/jogged over 5 miles. With MFP, I can track my exercise, getting a calories burned result that directly affects how many calories I'm allowed for the day. I start each day with 1200, but if I exercise like I did yesterday, I get an additional 400+ calories. I can either use them or not. Sometimes I use all of them, but like yesterday and a couple of days last week, I only use part of them. In general, I eat around 1400 calories a day. I'm not starving. I'm not feeling deprived. Rather, I'm feeling empowered because I know I'm in complete control of what I decide to eat, how long I decide to exercise.

I finally feel like I've found the key to getting these last 15 pounds off. Finally.

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

Monday, July 6, 2009

On Being a PBB

Yesterday, I was a PBB, a Parent Behaving Badly. I'm not proud of it, and having behaved so poorly haunted me all day, tormented me as I tried to fall asleep last night. I finally just had to tell myself I was never, ever going to behave like that again, no matter how frustrated I became. This is what being a parent of a basketball player has come to, and if it means I can't attend the games, I guess I'll just have to stay home and get the low-down from the kids afterwards.

I played basketball from fourth grade through high school. I was pretty good. For the last few years, I've coached a 4th/5th grade boys team. I know the game fairly well. When I see really bad reffing, I get so frustrated and sometimes say things I shouldn't say. That's what happened yesterday. At one point, while the offending ref was looking right at me, I mouthed, "You suck." He knew exactly what I said and smiled. Not too long after that, another parent sitting in another part of the bleachers yelled the same thing to the same ref. This ref turned and told the parent to get out of the gym, and at that point, personnel from the event showed up to escort the father out. I so wanted to jump up and yell at the ref the father was right, and if I'd had any guts I would have.

While I understand reffing isn't easy, it really doesn't seem all that difficult to make decent calls. Maybe I should take the test and get my reffing patch. Then I can ref and see just what it's like from the other side. Having that perspective might be just what I need to be able to sit in the bleachers and not go ballistic on the refs.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

After A Long Rest

Whew, it's been awhile since I last wrote. I've been in and out, first to Puerto Rico for a long weekend then to Indiana for a couple of weeks. While I know I can write anywhere as long as I have internet capabilities, I just haven't felt the inclination. Sometimes, right after a semester ends, I turn everything off, including my computer. I just need the time away to regroup, gather myself together. Now, after more than a month away, I think I'm ready to begin writing again.

Though I haven't written much during the last month, I have been reading. I read all nine books of the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris, and now I'm on book five of the Lily Bard series by the same author. The Lily Bard series was written before the Sookie Stackhouse series, and it shows. The author certainly matured while writing the Sookie series. While I like Lily and all her quirks, sometimes she gets on my nerves. She isn't one of those character who grows and changes in a positive way, at least not in a clear, perceptible way. Sookie, on the other hand, is a very likeable character, a young woman who grows and changes as the series continues. The reader gets to see her go from an innocent, naive young woman to a more self-possessed, intelligent mature person. And since TrueBlood began again last week on HBO, I'm really looking forward to seeing how they handle the second book of the series.

It's been good to read as much as I have the past month. Not only have I thoroughly enjoyed both series, but I've felt inclined to begin working on my own writings once again. The inclination to write has seemed all but lost to me for quite some time. It feels good to actually want to write, to sit here at my computer and try to come up with scenarios for my characters. My imagination has been in overdrive, keeping me from falling asleep at night, but I'm okay with this. If it means having something well on it's way before I have to return to the classroom in the fall, then losing some sleep will be worth it.

Now, Charlie, my main character I've been working on, is asking me to come play. I think I will.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Lot Going On

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. Now the winds are dying down, and the stress is beginning to lessen. This afternoon, after picking up the boys at school, we headed to the cinema to see Monsters v. Aliens in 3D. Talk about fun. We were the only ones in the theater, so we didn't have to worry about talking or laughing too loudly. At times, one of us would reach out to grab what seemed to be coming straight at us from the screen.

This time of the semester, I have a bit of coasting I can do. The students are finishing up their portfolios, and I have nothing that needs to be graded until those portfolios come in. Then for three days I have to read, evaluate, and factor the final grades. At the end of those three days, I can give a final sigh of done.

Once the grading is finished, once the grades are submitted, I will clean my office, turn off the lights, and call it a semester. In front of me will be three months of whatever happens to happen. I kind of like that.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Teacher Issues

My two youngest kids attend a Catholic school, and this year has been particularly difficult for the older of the two. At this point in the school year, I'm ready to take him out and put him in the public school system. The way I figure it is in putting him in the public school, I'll be paying a lot less for imcompetent teaching. Why pay thousands of dollars for the same in a private school? To me that doesn't make any sense. As such, today I went to the junior high down the street and asked for the registration packet, filled out the forms, and am in the process of getting him set to make the switch.

Initially, my son was skeptical about leaving the only school he's ever attended. Over the weekend, though, he warmed up to it. On Sunday, he came to me and said he was actually looking forward to changing schools. He's looking at it as an opportunity rather than something to fear, and for that I am very happy. I see a sparkle in his eyes that I've never seen before regarding school and learning. It almost seems as if a weight has been lifted off his shoulders. In a way, I feel the same. And the weight all goes back to a particular teacher who has done nothing but make him feel inadequate, irresponsible, and incapable. As an educator, I despise this teacher and what she has done to my son over this school year. Part of me thinks I only have myself to blame for not stepping in and saying something much earlier, but looking back, I did step in. I did ask her to help me help my son. She is the one who refused, on more than one occasion.

I keep thinking the problem I'm seeing is just me and my own involvement in education. I certainly have my ways of doing things and what I believe to be the best ways to reach students. I kept asking myself if this was influencing how I was seeing what this teacher was doing. Each day, though, I hear from many other parents who are expressing the very same frustrations as I have been, and when many other parents see the same kind of inexcusable teaching methods that do not make sense, I have to think it isn't just me. It actually is really bad teaching. How long do I continue to expose my son to her bad teaching? As far as I'm concerned, enough is enough. Though only seven weeks of school remain, I'm ready to take the plunge and see what happens when my son makes the change. I believe as long as we're supporting him, he'll be just fine. Perhaps he'll find this is exactly what he's been needing for quite some time now and bloom like never before.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

And The 90 Days Are Over

Ninety days ago, my husband and I started our own Biggest Loser competition. He elected to walk on a treadmill while I went with the P90X home workout. At first, I was losing more weight than he was even though he easily had more to lose than I do. Being a man, I thought he was going to beat me without even trying, but initially I was the one racking up the lost pounds each week. For the last two weeks, though, I've hit a wall and not lost anything. He's losing two plus pounds to my nothing, so he's now in the lead. I'm not terribly uphappy about this, though, as I have lost about ten pounds and all of my clothes fit so much better now.

Even though we are finished with our ninety days, I'm going to continue working out. I do like the results I'm seeing, especially with my abs. I've never really had abs to speak of, but after doing the Ab Ripper X workout for three months, I'm beginning to see some definition. My husband even noticed the other day how defined my obliques are becoming. Now all I want to do is see how far I can take the whole workout thing, so I'm going to start all over, doing the P90X Doubles workout for the next three months. My hope is that by the end of May I can actually put on a two-piece bathing suit and feel good in it.

I do think one change I have made with eating has helped tremendously: juicing. I'm still juicing just about everyday. Sometimes twice a day. I've come to absolutely love the taste of celery, cucumber and tomato with an apple thrown in. I also started adding green foods powder to my juices, giving my body healthy enzymes and nutrients. I don't know if my juicing and green foods have anything to do with it, but I have not been sick this winter season. Everyone around me has been, including my kids, but I have escaped even the common cold. I like to think it's all because of the juicing. Maybe it's just the effect of positive thinking.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Learning Curve

I've started on the documentary about the school track team, and I'm finding I have tons to learn about putting a documentary together. I bought a new editing program to work with, thinking if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it right. Little did I realize at the time of purchasing it that I was going to have a huge learning curve with this program. I should have figured, though, since it has all the bells and whistles, both of which I really wanted in order to do more than just the basics with the documentary.

The first couple of days working with the program, I was splitting and moving parts of the video. I kept trying to add in a transition between two parts, but everytime I viewed what I had put together, I was unhappy because the part of the video that was underneath the title frame would show for a split second when the transition started. I had no clue how to keep the video hidden completely. I eventually deleted everything I had worked on and started over.

Finally, during an hour of working on hiding the clip and having the transition work like I wanted, I stumbled upon a tutorial within the program. Duh. I had already read the booklet that came with the program, but it offered nothing about what I was working on, but lo and behold, the tutorial did. I learned how to increase the size of the viewing pane so I could actually see the clips, how they were overlapping or not overlapping as much as I needed them to. Duh again. I had been thinking for several days that there was no way anyone could really work with the program and have any success because of how small the clips were; there was no way to tell exactly where one clip ended and the other began or where the transitions were fitting in. Talk about operator malfunction! Since discovering how to increase the viewing size, things have gone much smoother. While I'm still not totally happy with the opening of the documentary, at least I know I can now go in and create a better one in a matter of minutes rather than a matter of days.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Leaning Tower of Cake-A


My middle child's birthday cake from last week. I had a lot of fun making it and even more fun eating it. We found out that if you cut pieces only from one side, starting with the bottom layer, the cake will lean, eventually fall over. You can't tell it from this angle so much, but the cake was actually leaning before we began cutting it.

When middle child got home from school and saw the finished cake, he laughed, saying, "Awesome cake, Mom." Doesn't get much better than that.

Burnout

For some time now, I've been feeling burned out when it comes to reading student papers. This semester especially has been a difficult one. I truly love being with my students and talking to them on a daily basis, but the reading part gets to me. I have had a rough time making myself sit down and actually put the time in. The papers, though they are on topics I like, still have the same problems that the papers have had over the years. When it comes to the kinds of errors and the very basic discussions the students create, not much has changed in the seventeen years I've been teaching writing. Very few students have the ability to write something that totally blows me away, but every now and then, I find myself delighted because a student has written something outside the usual. This just happens to be a semester during which no one has written that kind of paper. Hence the relunctance in reading and evaluating them.

I keep telling myself I need to do something that will allow me to leave the classroom. I don't have many options, though, and this makes me hesitant to think I really could leave teaching anytime soon. I write, but I've only published one personal essay. I love to do videography, but I'm a rank beginner shooting film. I love photography, but I have never thought I could do anything with it that could support me. I keep thinking I should combine all of these somehow, turn my passions into my life work. Perhaps I should stop thinking about it and start doing. A little less talk and a little more action is called for here.

Since I've been toying with some ideas, I told my kids we have a new rule: finish what we start. This includes me as well as the kids. Not finishing what I start has been the thorn in my side for as long as I can remember, well, acutally since I was about fourteen years old. Up to that point, I had no fear. Whatever I thought I could do, I did. Then, somewhere along the way (when my family had to move because my dad was laid off and had to take a job a state away), fear crept in and it has stayed with me. I don't like feeling this fear. I don't like not taking chances, but I really fear failure. I have too many people depending on me to take care of them, and if I all the sudden wasn't able to, how horrible would that be? What kind of example would I be setting? Leave a very stable, decent-paying job to follow a dream? In this economy? The rational part of me says no way, too scary, too risky. I know, though, that I'm only going to become even more burned out if I don't do something. I just wish I knew what that something was.

With only eight weeks of the semester left, I'm thinking ahead to when I won't have to be on campus, to when I can maybe get the something figured out. I really need to get it figured out.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Birthday

My middle child turns twelve today. It's his golden birthday. The other two have already celebrated their birthdays this year, so he's the last. Part of me says thank goodness; all the money going out on gifts and dinners makes my stomach hurt. Another part of me, though, realizes another year has gone by and the kids are inching ever closer to being adults ready to get out on their own. I'm going to miss them so much when they're gone. The sadness that comes over me when I think about them leaving pulls me down, sometimes to the point of tears. If I feel like this now, what will it be like when they actually do leave?

I do love birthdays, though. They're very special days and should be celebrated with joy. To do this, the birthday person must awaken to the birthday song being sung loud and out of tune. Then, once the person is good and awake, a morning present must be given to offer a hint of what's to come later in the day. This morning, my son received a present his younger brother bought for him, using the Christmas money he had received from his grandparents--a computer game. The birthday boy was quite impressed with his brother.

For a week now, my husband and I have been teasing birthday boy that all he is going to get from us is clothes. He needs school clothes terribly, so we told him he's only going to get what he needs from us. As a joke, I went out and bought him two pairs of pants and two shirts. They're both wrapped and ready for him to tear into. The real present, though, is a case for his airsoft rifle. He and his friends are into airsoft guns, so he used his Christmas money to buy an insanely huge rifle with scope. He didn't think about how to transport it in a safe way, so we found a case with foam padding that will protect the gun and scope. I also bought him a face mask to protect his eyes and face. Now I can feel a bit more okay about him being shot at.

So, happy birthday middle child. I hope you always remember with fondness this birthday.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Complete Frustration

My middle child, a sixth grader, frustrates me to no end when it comes to homework. He just doesn't want to do it. He's a bright boy, with a quick mind, but if he can get away with not sitting down and doing any homework, he will. When I press the issue, he'll sit, but it's one sigh after another, a lot of head hanging, and at times tears. What should take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to complete turnes into two, sometimes three hours. If I don't sit with him, constantly asking questions, suggesting ways to write sentences, and pointing to helpful websites, he wouldn't get anything done. Each night, this is what I go through. While I want him to learn and be a successful student, I'm tired of the constant struggle I have to endure to make sure these things are actually happening. I have to wonder just how much he is learning since he has such a bad attitude before, during and after doing the homework.

Another part of me is frustrated with the school, the teachers. It does seem as if many projects have been piled on these last few weeks. These projects are not little, one-page type projects either. They are involved, asking the students to write short paragraphs then draw pictures to go with the paragraphs. In the end, the students have little books of anywhere between 6 to 32 pages. On top of these, the students have had to write research papers of 4 to 6 pages. This is in addition to all the math, science and other classes the students have. While I applaud all the writing, I'm not sure the students are getting as much from them as they should be. They all feel way too overwhelmed. Too much work to do in too little time. Rather than being able to enjoy the process of completing these projects, the students are racing time just to get them done. Learning really cannot be enjoyed at all. And for students like my son, if the learning cannot be enjoyed, then every little piece of homework becomes the enemy no matter what is being asked of him. This I find sad.

Students should be encouraged to enjoy every moment of learning they encounter. However, many are merely going through the motions in order to get the work finished on time. My son is now working on creating a children's book about the Battle of Nashville. This is one battle in which many black soldiers fought, serving a country that had been nothing but cruel towards them. My son, though, is so caught up with how much he has to do in so little time that he cannot focus on the interesting facts about the battle. I want him to enjoy the process, learn about his country and those who shaped our history. All I'm seeing, though, is distress. Learning cannot take place when distress is clouding the mind.

How much do these projects really teach the kids? I really have to wonder. In the meantime, I will continue to be completely frustrated right along with my son.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A New Adventure

One way I cope with having to read a lot of student papers on a weekly basis is taking breaks to capture things on video. For some time now, though, I've let the camera sit idle in its case. I saved for two years to buy my camera, which is a wonderful piece of technology, and the other day I made a pledge to actually put it to good use. So I started on a project today.

For a couple of years, my husband and I have been helping out with the school track team. The kids range from fourth grade to eighth grade, with both boys and girls participating. I started videoing them the several years ago, when my daughter was running and jumping with the team, but I never put the clips together to make a complete story. Each year since, I've mulled over the idea to pick up where I left off, so I decided to do just that this year. I talked to the principal, put together a release form, and I'm on my way. A handful of parents already signed the form. I can now start to film.

I do think I need a lav mic, though, before I begin to do any interviews. My camera has a nice external mic, but I want to capture audio that is crisp and clear, without a lot of interference. As such, I'm scouring the internet for a good deal. I'm finding there is quite a range of prices. I'm going to get one on the cheaper side to see how it goes. If all goes well for this project, I might invest in a more expensive one for future projects.

I'll try to post short clips every now and then to let everyone see how things are going, and if anyone has ideas for me to consider, send them on. I'm definitely a newbie, so any and all suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Counting the days . . .

until spring break.

I know this sounds awful, but I really look forward to all the breaks that come with being a writing instructor. Christmas break. Spring break. And the best of all--summer break. If these weren't a part of the teaching calendar, I don't know how long I could last as a writing teacher.

Don't get me wrong. I do like what I do. A lot. But after eight weeks of reading the same old essays about the same old topics, my eyes begin to glaze over. The break from reading and responding to these tired ideas refreshes me just enough to get excited for the last eight weeks that aren't much different than the first eight.

One way I try to combat having to read the same cliched rants is to have a theme run through my course. One semester the students had to write about food. The papers for that semester covered topics like the slow food movement, which baseball park offered the best hotdogs, and why dining alone can be a good thing. I enjoyed so many of these papers as the students took the theme and showed just how much variety can be had in examining it. This semester, the theme is sports. We've had wonderful discussions about sportsmanship, gender issues in sports, and religion in sports. Even the students who say they are not sports people have enjoyed the discussions because they are about more than just baseball, golf, or football. One young lady even decided she was going to tackle the idea that being a stay at home mom should be considered a sport. The class had a rousing discussion about that topic.

But I'm finding I'm tired still of reading papers. A large part of me wants to be able to write my own essays, but I have so little time to devote to it because I have stacks of journal entries to read and respond to along with the longer papers. Or I have a meeting to attend. Or I have junior faculty members to mentor. Or . . .. When I think about people who seem to be able to write everyday, get essays or short stories or even novels written on a regular basis, I always wonder how they do it. Do they just not do anything else? I have been trying to write a wee bit at least two or three times a week. I'm making progress on the children's story I started last summer, but I still have a long way to go before it's even close to being finished. And I have so many starts of short stories and essays that need to be finished. I keep saying this summer is going to be my summer of writing. I hope I can make it happen.

For now, I'm going to do the wee bit of writing each week. Maybe, just maybe, the story will be finished before summer. Then I can spend the summer trying to get it published. I think I'm just a glutton for punishment.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Just Not Feeling It

Yoga didn't go so well this evening. I was looking forward to it, but right when I was getting ready to begin, a friend stopped over and talked for awhile. By the time I got back up to my room to do the yoga, I just wasn't as into it. I started into the moves, which begin with lots of moving asanas, including vinyasas into runner's pose, to cresent pose, to warrior pose, to warrior two, etc. Last week I did the whole series, about forty-five minutes worth, with no problem. This evening, my thighs were burning from the beginning. I'd really like to know why one week I can do the poses with no problem, then the next week I am having trouble from the beginning. I was discouraged and ended up skipping a lot of the asanas. I did do the balance postures and the floor work, so I did do quite a bit of yoga. I just wish I had been in the mindset to get through the asanas like I did last week. Hopefully next week will go better.

I have been wondering if I'm just not eating enough. After reading some of the comments on the forum at the P90X website, I'm thinking I'm just not getting enough calories each day. I've drastically reduced what I'm eating each day, so my body may be saying, "Hey! What are you doing?" and shutting down somewhat to compensate for the energy output. I decided to go through the nutrition book that came with the program, and according to it, I'm supposed to be eating 2400 calories. I don't think I'm anywhere close to that. I'm probably around 1500-1800. This could also account for the no weight loss for last week. My body has gone into survival mode, my metabolism slowing in order to keep the stored fat rather than using it. This week I'm going to try to keep close track of what I eat and make sure I eat enough to get to the 2400 calories. It'll be interesting to see what happens.

We did take our 60 day pictures. While some change is evident, I'm a bit disappointed more change isn't visible. At least my clothes do fit much better, and my son was astonished at how my biceps are much more defined, so those are good things. And while I have been a bit down on not losing more weight, I know it'll happen if I keep at it. This whole fitness, weight loss adventure is going to have to be a way of life for me now, and I'm looking forward to seeing the results after the one-year period. Maybe one of these days I'll get brave and actually post the day-one pictures, the thirty-day pictures, and the sixty-day pictures. Maybe I'll wait until the ninety-day pictures. Or the one-year pictures.

Maybe.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bring On March

Two days remain until a new month begins. My month. March. I'm a Pisces, and on Thursday of next week, I will officially turn 45 years old. Yesterday, in anticipation of my birthday, my son, using his IPod Touch, calculated when I might die. According to the little contraption in the palm of his hand, I have lived 55% of my life, and I can look forward to dying when I am 82 years old. I'll take that. Eighty-two seems like a nice, long life. So, I guess that means I better get busy living. I'm on the downhill slide, and the ride is only going to get going faster the farther away from the top of the hill I get.

With the approach of March comes spring break. Because my kids' spring break is after my own, I'll have the week at home alone during the day. I always look forward to this week as it offers me a chance to do things during the day that I normally don't get the chance to do. Like going to the bookstore and taking as long as I want without someone pulling on my coat sleeve, telling me it's time to go. And like driving the short distance to the beautiful state park nearby, hiking along the lake and photographing (if lucky enough) the shy blue herons. I try not to fill my days with too much going and doing, sometimes just hanging out at home, watching one-star movies. Doing nothing is completely underrated these days.

I've been keeping up with the whole stimulus package issue, as well as other issues affecting our country right now, and to be honest, I'm scared. I'm scared for the future of our wonderful country. It's being torn apart by the people who are in charge. I think the Constitution spells out very clearly how this country is to be run, but it sure seems like those in charge are totally ignoring what the Founding Fathers designed and why they designed it the way they did. The power grab by the new administration is obnoxious. And it's very scary that it is being allowed to do what it is. I've reached the point where I feel like I really need to hunker down, protect what I have in anyway I possibly can. Thankfully, we have no debt other than our house, I have a fairly secure job, and my family is happy to work together in the kitchen every evening, preparing a meal together, eating together and catching up with one another rather than going out to eat, going separate ways, and just not knowing what each other is doing. We definitely are a group of homebodies; I wouldn't have it any other way. Maybe being homebodies will keep us safe (maybe safer is the word I need) through these difficult times.