Thursday, February 26, 2009

a great picture and a great time of year

I feel like life has gotten a little busy and I haven't had time to say much lately but it is time for another post.

First of all, my niece was in town for her special 8th birthday extravaganza at American Girl. You can read all the details on both my sisters blog GEMS to Bragg about and my mom's blog Grandma's musings, but I just had to share so that I had a reason to post this picture of me and Mady having lunch at the American Girl Bistro. I happen to think I look particularly good so I am posting this picture everywhere, well here and my facebook page anyway.

Secondly, yesterday was Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent and I thought I would try my hand at some thoughts on the subject. Since we have only been Anglican for 5 years, sometimes refered to as recovering Evangelicals, we are still learning the ropes in the world of liturgy and traditional celebrations but we truly love all that we have learned. This is such a great time of year leading to Holy Week and Easter the foundation of our faith in Jesus Christ.

So Tuesday was "Shrove Tuesday", that is the day before lent begins. It has gotten a little out of hand in some areas with the celebration of Mardi Gras but isn't suppose to get quite that wild. One of the traditions is to eat pancakes for supper. This stems from when people wanted to use up their sugar and lard before lent when they would be giving these things up. I brought my own gluten free pancake batter and was able to easily partake of the event. If you want to read an official description from wikipedia click here. We had a nice evening sharing a pancake meal with a couple families from our church.

Then Wednesday night I went to our Ash Wednesday service (the rest of the family had other commitments). It is a simple service with a short homily, communion and where they put the ashes of last years palm leaves on your forehead. It has something to do with this being a time of repentance where we turn ourselves toward God in preparation of Easter. Our pastor spoke about our heavenly rewards and how if we do things for ourselves here on earth that is our reward but if we work for God our reward will be much greater in heaven. When they do the ashes the pastor says, "remember you are dust and from dust you shall return". I know it sounds sort of morbid but it reminds me that this life is temporary and my real life and home is with Christ. And once again the wikipedia version is here.

So now we are in the time of year known as Lent. In the past we have given up television as a family and last year we twisted it and gave up NOT eating together as a family. It is sad when your teenage son suggests that you eat dinner together for Lent. But it was a good experience and we do it alot more now. This year Jake has decided to read through Proverbs for lent. I toyed with giving up a few different things but have settled on simply continuing my endo diet through Lent rather than ending it mid Lent as I had initially intended. The purpose of giving something up is related to Jesus fasting in the desert for 40 days. We are to give it up to spend more time focused on Christ and get ourselves in a right relationship with Him. I don't know that either time our "fasting" has really produced that but each year I desire to allow myself to direct my thoughts toward God rather than myself when I feel denied. This year will be no exception. And since this is my year of prayer I am looking for a good prayer guide for praying through lent. If you know of one let me know. I am sitting her at day two and I have nowhere to start. And of course to get wikipedias description of lent you can click here.

I pray you are all blessed with a growing faith in God during this season of Lent.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cabin Fever

Winter is really getting old here. After powering through the coldest January possibly in my lifetime, February has been a welcome relief in some ways and yet a cruel trick in others. It was warming up so nicely and now suddenly we are back in the frozen tundra. I think in some ways it is easier to just stick with really cold and then move forward to warm rather than warm up for a week and then have the rug pulled from under you. My emotions can't handle the back and forth motion of warm, cold, warm, cold. Should I start planning my spring outdoor activities or should I continue to hibernate?

Either way spring will come so I am starting to think about being outside again. Here are a few things I would like to do this year:

I am seriously considering planting a small garden. Nothing fancy just some cucumbers, tomatoes and maybe basil and squash. Our house came with a fairly large garden which has gone completely to weed over the past 6 years and we just mow it down with the grass. I am going to try to find the dirt in one small patch and see what happens.

I really, really, really want to paint our house. Of course I dream of this every year. Even if we do it ourselves we are talking $500-$1000 in supplies and equipment which could go toward our Africa trip so it is likely our house will be an eye sore in the neighborhood for one more year. I guess that just gives me another year to come up with the perfect color combinations for our house and possibly come up with the best way to wrap our wrought iron columns in something a little more modern.

Organizing my garage is an ongoing dream of mine. Someday we will have a fabulous finished garage worthy of a story in Martha Stewart magazine but until then I will have to settle with simply keeping the clutter at bay. Every year I do a little more organizing out there. Admittedly we did our biggest improvements last summer when I managed to sell quite a few large items in our garage sale so I am feeling pretty good about it right now. Our church is having a sale this spring so maybe I can finally get rid of that big Coke clock on the wall John got when he worked at a Bowling Alley.

I cannot wait to run outside again. I miss the movement of actually going somewhere, the feel of the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. I know that the die hard Minnesotans have been running all winter and yes I have run in the cold a few times in the past but it takes special mental energy I just don't want to muster most days. I ran on the track yesterday at the club and it was glorious compared to watching the seconds tick off on the treadmill. This one might be the first outdoor activity for me of the year. I think once it reaches 40 consistently in the mornings I will be out there.

I am going to get a new hammock for our frame. Last year we developed a few holes in the hammock and it never really came together after that. My joy in life is complete to lay in the hammock on a warm day and look up at the blue skies and the leaves in the trees. I can imagine I am far from the world instead of in the middle of the city (OK suburbs). I tell myself the street noise I hear is actually boats and jet skies going by on the lake behind my house. I also tell myself that the water running into the sewers in the spring is a gentle bubbling brook running by my house. I have a rich imagination.

I am also imagining how great I will look in my summer clothes this year since I am running so much this winter and have lost a few pounds with this special diet. The shorts and pants won't be pulling on my butt but will hang nicely like they are supposed to. I will still be followed around by my friend cellulite but I figure I can live with skinny cellulite.

In the mean time I will continue with my indoor homemaking projects, closets, drawers, blog writing, blog reading, facebooking and dreaming of the warmer days which eventually WILL come.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hospital Envy

No I did not comb her hair today. Do you have a point?

Isabelle and I went to the Como Zoo and Conservatory today. After running from building to building at the outdoor zoo we went inside and enjoyed the tropical rain forest and other lush rooms including the flower garden. It gave us some hope in a dreary land. As we were leaving my sister called to tell me my precious niece had an accident on the trampoline and broke her arm, they were on the way to the hospital. I told Isabelle about it and we prayed for them as they headed to the hospital. A couple hours later I was relaying that Grace was resting at the hospital waiting to get a cast. I related it to a recent visit we had to the ER when Isabelle sprained her ankle. The following conversation occurs:

Isabelle: I want to go to the hospital

Me: You're not hurt.

Isabelle: I hurt my finger.

Mel: You do not need to go to the hospital unless you break something or cut off one of your fingers.

Isabelle: I have a cut on my finger.

Me: No cut off your finger so it is no longer attached to your body.

Isabelle then starts making grunting noises.

Me: What are you doing?

Isabelle: I'm trying to break my finger.

We were pulling in the garage, I laugh and get her out of the car, she is planning to play on the computer for a while when we get inside. The conversation continues:

Me: If you break your finger you won't be able to work the mouse on the computer.

Isabelle: I have other fingers.

Luckily once we got inside she was distracted by telling me which site she wanted to play on and forgot about breaking her finger. Of course now I am afraid to give her another update on Grace and tell her about the bright red cast. I guess maybe she doesn't need to know all the details of her cousins day.

Monday, February 9, 2009

What I have learned as an adult onset athlete

I am an adult onset athlete. (I did not make up this term, it is used frequently by John Bingham who writes a column in Runner's World Magazine.) I have been blessed with good genes and a lack of any significant food issues and so I have never struggled with my weight despite leading a sedentary lifestyle. However, eventually we all get old and things catch up with us. I started feeling tired and was getting easily winded in my early 30's. I referred to myself as a skinny fat person.

I did not play sports as a child. I remember being signed up for t-ball when I was little, I attended one practice and then we went to the first game where I hid in the car refusing to get out, we drove home and never went back. In 6th grade I played girls volleyball for a whole year. I don't know if I was good but I do recall enjoying it. The following year at the first practice we were supposed to run a mile, it was torture and I was one of the last, if not the last, to finish. Never one to appreciate that success required work, I decided I was no good and never returned to volleyball after that.

Then one day 4-1/2 years ago I woke up early, strapped on my who-knows-how-old tennis shoes and ran out my back door. I had no plan. I ran about 1/2 mile (sounds good but it was all downhill), thought I might pass out and finished the 1 mile loop back to my home walking. I thought I would walk one more mile but got about a block away and thought I was going to throw up so I went home and laid around the rest of the day. The next day I got up and did it again. This time I grabbed some water after the first mile and was able to walk that second mile. Slowly I built up to running a mile and then 2 miles. Since that day I have run several 5K's, a 10K and on a weekend of true insanity rode my bike 150 miles in 2 days on the MS150.

I have learned alot as an adult onset athlete. Running has changed my entire view of life and how I approach it. I have learned that I tend to run from a challenge and I have learned the thrill in working toward a goal and accomplishing it. I have learned that I tend to give up right before I crest the hill and I have stood atop that hill. I have learned that I don't always value the work put into accomplishing a task and I have savored the daily runs that have prepared me to reach a goal. I have learned that I fear others are better than me and look down on me and have experienced encouragement from runners of all skill levels just excited to see me out on a run.

Almost 5 years later I am still learning about myself from running. I am a slow runner, for most regular runners 3 miles in 30 minutes is just a standard, I had never done it. I wasn't too far but was more like 35-40 minutes. Doesn't seem like much but it is a big deal in the world of running and I wanted to do it. This winter with my job at a health club I have been able to do something I have never done before, stay in shape and improve my shape during the winter. A few weeks ago I was running along and realized I was at pace to do 3 miles in 30 minutes and still feeling well. I kept going but soon my mind started panicking, my heart started racing and I fell apart. I actually had to stop and walk for a few minutes before I could resume my running. I called my SIL and fellow adult onset athlete to tell her about it and she said, "Melanie, get over yourself and just do it". OK that isn't an exact quote but that is the gist. I wasn't willing to push myself and I wasn't telling myself I could do it. So the next day I got back on the treadmill, set it for a 10 minute mile and forced myself to keep going until I hit 3 miles. I did it with relative ease, although I did slow down the moment I hit 3 miles, and actually was just under my goal at 29:30. It felt great! The past couple years I have sort of been stuck simply maintaining and forgot how it feels to reach a new goal. It has become my new normal and now I wonder why it took me so long to reach this goal. Inspired anew by reaching this goal I am looking forward to making new and more challenging goals in the years ahead as I continue to learn and grow from my running.

I like to think I have inspired some others to become adult onset athletes. One morning I woke my husband up and told him it was time for him to start running too. He quickly took to it but an injury slowed him down a couple years ago and one of my goals this year is to get him up with me again. My Sister In Law, Julia, started running a few years ago and despite a few slow downs to have a couple babies she has surpassed me and inspired me to keep going. And during a visit to my sister Michele's house a couple years ago I woke her up every morning just to take a walk together but by the end of the week we were running together. This led her to become a little obsessive about running that summer and gave herself a stress fracture in her foot but now she is coming back slowly and feeling great. I convinced them both to do their own blog posts on what they have learned as adult onset athletes so go check out The Wolfe Cubs and GEMS to Bragg About for more on this subject.----------------I almost forgot about my cousin Jessy, I don't think I was her inspiration but she started running I believe around the same time as I did and has become an inspiration to all of us as she did a mini duathlon this past year. I just heard she might be joining us in doing a post as well. Check her out at Just Breathe.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Both Ends of the Same Stick

Some days you just have to laugh about having children nearly 11 years apart. Yesterday was one of those days that really reminds us of what we have done. The morning was spent with Isabelle at the community pre-school screening (which Isabelle referred to as "pre-school screaming") and in the evening John and I attended a parent meeting to learn how to register Jake for high school. (Tenth grade in our district.)

Isabelle was assessed to make sure she was progressing properly and would be ready for Kindergarten in a couple years. As soon as she heard me tell her where we were going she was beside herself with excitement. She went through each station doing great. Perfect hearing, perfect vision. They confirmed that she is short and thin. She sang the alphabet, counted to her mid teens, identified letters, repeated words, stacked blocks, identified colors and shapes. Then they asked her to hop on one foot. She can't do that, she can't skip either. She surprised me by catching a bean bag with 2 hands but just stood there watching it fall to the floor when they asked her to do it with one hand. I really wasn't surprised she couldn't do these things, she didn't walk until she was 20 months, this isn't her area of strength, and they weren't concerned about it either. However, I was a little surprised when they asked her to cut a straight line and she didn't even know how to hold the scissors. The very nice tester and I patiently watched as she struggled to get the job done, and done perfectly, despite the fact that she clearly had never been taught to use a scissors. Who knew this was a learned skill? I have been hiding the scissors for so long I forgot that she might eventually need to use them. Everyone tells me they learn this stuff in pre-school but home is her pre-school, so into my art drawer will need to go a scissors and some cutting paper.

John and I are always looking for fun and free things to do on date night so how perfect that the parent meeting landed on our usual night. We went from room to room learning about the options available to him for Math, Social Studies, Science, English and Foreign Language. Over coffee and tea afterward we discussed the pros and cons of AP level courses and which classes we wanted to encourage him to take AP and which classes we felt he could stick with the regular curriculum. Our school is a nationally rated school so they assure us that the regular classes are still challenging and vary only a little from the AP classes. Do you think all schools say that?

When I was in 10th grade I don't remember feeling like I needed to have an idea of what I was going to study in college yet as we sat thinking about how to proceed for the next 3 years it was clear that we needed to know. Jake actually has already informed us that he plans to go to seminary and become a missionary. Actually he is going to do ROTC for college and then enter the military as an army chaplain while fulfilling his requirements and then go on to the mission field. As much as it warms a mother's heart to think about him following through on this plan I realize the changes the next few years can bring as he becomes a man, however, hopefully it gives us a little insight into him as we make choices based on this current plan. He probably won't need particularly strong math or science skills to get into Seminary but likely will need some strong language and social studies skills. So these are the areas we are encouraging him to take the AP classes. He also wants to take a second foreign language, Latin. Also seems like a good one for Seminary. Unfortunately the language teacher said they have never had enough students sign up to actually have the class so he might have to take weight training as his elective class instead. :)

Pre-school and high school, all in a days work here with the Folly of My Youth and the Mid-Life Crisis.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I'm Bored

I am bored with my endo diet. I want to quit. I want to grab a handful of those pretzels on my countertop without a thought.

I want to be able to have the cake I am making for a friends baby shower. (wouldn't it be great if this was the one I was making? :))

I want to eat a sandwich, something I rarely did before this diet but somehow now want.

I want to have a glass of wine at the neighborhood bunko night.

I want to eat pizza at a pizza shop.

Yet when I think about the fact that I want to quit because I am bored I realize where I go wrong in so many areas of my life. I want to quit because thinking about what I have to eat and figuring out a new system for my life is no longer fun. It now feels like work. I haven't yet established a consistent habit in which I don't have to think about what I am eating. I don't want to think about it anymore so I am bored. Yet does that eliminate my reasons for doing it in the first place? Did I decide to try this diet because I thought it would be "fun"?

No follow through. That is my problem in life. I have lots of good ideas and I enthusiastically research and start them but then when they start to feel like work and I tell myself I am bored and I quit without ever reaping the full rewards of my efforts.

I need to tell myself the truth. The truth is, while it has required some work it hasn't been that hard. I do have to think a little more about what I can eat but the choices have been plentiful and delicious. I am not suffering. The truth is, I am actually feeling and seeing a difference in this diet. I feel good, have actually lost a couple of those pounds that have been sticking the past few years, and I feel like my mind is clearer than it has been in months if not a year or more.

My goal is to be very strict for 3 months and then allow myself a little more leeway, like a slice of cake at a baby shower. I am about half way through that time period. I just need to hold on and focus on how good I have felt the past few weeks and how good I will feel about myself when I have seen a project through to completion and have reaped the rewards. I just need to hang on.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Let's Talk about Sex

The first week after I started this blog my supportive sister informed me I should do a post on talking to kids about sex. I don't know why but I have a passion for this topic and a passion for helping other people feel confident about talking to their kids about sex. Years ago my sister asked me for advice on what to tell her friend who had a son a couple years younger than Jake about the subject. This started a lengthy dialogue that has developed into a long distance friendship between me and Michele's friend. Since then I haven't had as many lengthy discussions but am always available to encourage a friend to just tell their kids the truth and stop being so afraid. Here some things I frequently hear from other parents:

How old was Jake when you told him about sex?
Jake was about 7 when I sent John on a father/son camping trip with "the book". Jake didn't have alot of questions but did read the book several times to himself after returning home and it was the basis for many questions that followed in the months and years to come. While I do think Jake was ready he wasn't really asking alot of questions. I told him then because I knew a few of his friends with older siblings had been told and it was important to me that he hear it from me and not on the corner somewhere. I would say you will know when your child is ready but sometimes you just have to do it.

I am afraid my child will lose his innocence once he knows about sex.
While sex is warped in our society and I do encourage you to protect your children from that as much as possible, sex is in fact a beautiful thing between a husband and wife who love each other. It was created by God. While a kid might think it is gross they will not feel violated by the knowledge that God created our bodies to perfectly go together to create life. Focus on God's plan for sex in your conversations. Don't make it complicated and get too detailed when they are young. You can add layers as they age and questions or situations arise.

What book did you use?
I used the series "God's Design for Sex", the book "Before I Was Born" is the one that explains sex and is geared for 5-8 year olds. I like a book because there is no awkwardness in trying to come up with the right thing to say. And in case your child is a visual learner there are a few pictures. Some books have more graphic pictures than others. I didn't really think Jake needed too graphic a picture when he was 7 but if your child is older it might be appropriate. And by pictures I mean scientific drawings not actual photographs. We aren't talking about a birthing book here. Books are also nice because then you can keep them around as references. Or if you have a reader like Jake, your child can take and read it to himself and further digest. I felt that the series got weaker as the age range advanced. We had a hard time finding a book that addressed the changes in Jake's body when he entered puberty. We finally found a book called, "A Guys Guide to Life" which he really liked and he ended up loaning out to a few friends at school who also inhaled the book. It covered acne, shaving, girls, etc in a fun and relaxed manor. For the older son I would also highly recommend "Every Young Man's Battle". It was excellent. I bought it after Jake stumbled upon the inevitable porn site on the internet. I got the book when Jake was 11 but didn't let him read it until he was 13. He inhaled the book when I finally gave it to him. I suggest your husband read it as well because the themes aren't something Jake is likely to ever ask me about and as a woman I can't really understand anyway.

I think the most important thing we have done for Jake was being available to talk with him about sex, to be comfortable answering his questions, to be clear on what we believe and to ask him questions that keep us informed. The rules are changing as he has become a teenager but until about a year ago I knew if I went and laid on his bed before he went to sleep he would likely tell me what was on his mind. I also found that if I brought him a snack when I picked him up from school he would tell me all about his day on the way home but with no food he just listened to music. These turned out to be wonderful opportunities for us to discuss God's plan for his life and the choices he was making. Often the books he was reading about sex and the changes in his body came up and I could encourage him and be excited for him as he became a man. I don't need to have all the answers, I just need to be available to hear them and help him find them.

The journey continues as we navigate the teen years, girlfriends, parties, etc but we feel that we have given Jake a strong foundation and equipped him with the knowledge he needs to make the right choices when temptations come up and we continue to be available to listen and encourage him.

And just when we might think we are nearing the end...Isabelle will be ready for the sex talk and we will re-live the experience from the other chromosome.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Not Me Monday

.Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

This week I did not forget, for the second time, to bring someone a meal. I have not totally pretended it didn't happen and have not neglected to call or acknowledge my disorganization in any way. I did not almost forget a second meal (our church is like a baby factory) and just buy frozen pizza's to at least fulfill the one commitment. Could it be time to stop signing up to bring meals for a while?

And speaking of priorities, I did not take Jake to meet with his Algebra teacher because I wasn't happy with his second quarter grade. The teacher did not ask Jake where he prioritized homework and Jake did not look at him with a blank stare as if he didn't understand the question. No way. I have taught Jake the importance of school work and he knows it is a top priority. He would never tell someone his friends were a higher priority than his school work.

This past week I did not realize that we have completely lost control of bedtime at our house. I did not realize that Isabelle was up past 10pm almost every night and I did nothing about it. I did not realize that we have stopped reading bedtime books to her and now just let her go to bed with a video off John's phone. Nope we would never do that. And I have never stood in judgement of my sister when I was visiting her and her children were running around well past bedtime and she wasn't taking control. I would never be that hypocritical.

On Saturday when the weather got above 40 degrees my spirits didn't lift and all memories of the month of below freezing weather was not lost simply because of one sunny, warm day. I am sick of living in this frozen tundra and wouldn't let one day cause me to think such positive thoughts about Minnesota.