Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Challenge Has Been Issued

Alright folks (faithful few that you are)! I am issuing a challenge to myself and to you. For the next 30 days I am going to do 100 jumping jacks each day prior to getting in the shower. What is the significance of doing this prior to showering? Absolutely nothing. Most people shower everyday (hopefully), and it is an easy time to remember to do this.

Why only 100 jumping jacks? I am keeping it simple on purpose. Too many times I set lofty goals for myself and wind up giving up after a few weeks. Sometimes because it's too hard, but most of the time, it's because life throws a curve ball, and the time I thought I could allow for working out, has been sucked up by more urgent matters. One hundred jumping jacks only takes 2 - 5 minutes and can be done everyday without excuse!

I am going to be checking in with you each Sunday night; posting my progress and hoping to hear from you about yours.

So, the challenge has been issued! Will you accept? Yes, it is the holidays. But what better time to be concerned about your health then when you are the most prone to forget about it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

My Studly and Me

It would seem that I have only one child, because I have only mentioned my son, "Studly", a time or two. But it is quite the contrary. There have been many occasion for me to dote on him and his accomplishments; I just have to share computer time with my dear husband as well, and so I haven't made the time to dwell on my son. But I am now!

I have actually set down several times and started typing this out... but for whatever reason (kids complaining, food needing to be prepared, floors needing to be vacuumed or clothes getting up and walking out asking that I please wash them) I have not been able to complete my thoughts.

I need to share something near to my heart concerning Studly. He has recently entered the time of young adulthood. (I do not believe in teenager years. That is a term engineered to allow a child to be excused from responsibility for several years, and I do not agree with it. But I will save that ranting for another day.) Studly is beginning to find his place in the world of responsibility and freedom. He is learning that hard work and giving your best, not meer half-effort, are necessary building blocks in a young man; qualities he can develop throughout his life.

He is not always eager to learn such lessons. But who is? It requires sacrifice and willingness to admit 'you' don't always have the answer. It requires placing trust in others to accomplish tasks so they can learn to better themselves. It requires patience (ugh, a dirty word, I know) and lots and lots of practice. But he is giving a good effort, none the less, and we are proud of him!

He demonstrated this a few weeks ago. One of his friends invited him over to 'hang out'. Now you have to remember that we are home schooling this year. It is with the K12 program, so it is 'public school' at home. (If that just sounds weird to you, the website is and you can look into it more.) We have the same guidelines for time spent in the "classroom" each day as do public schools, but with home schooling freedoms.

Studly's friend was to be at home, and not at school the next day, in celebration of Veteran's Day. He begged and pleaded with me to allow him to skip school for this adventure. His reasoning was that he was making sufficient effort in his classes and that he should be allowed this freedom. I, on the other hand, completely disagreed. He was doing what was required of him. I asked him, "If I show up to work each day, as I am supposed to, does that obligate my boss to reward me for doing what was expected?" Absolutely NOT! My reward was the satisfaction of knowing I had fulfilled my obligation. Now, if I had made the effort to go above and beyond what was required, then a reward would not be out-of-line. But, I would not expect to receive an award; that would be at the discretion of my employer.

He was not too fond of this; as none of us are. We all want to give little and expect a lot. What fun is there in expending a large amount of effort when we can do meager and satisfy status quo? Again, I want more than just enough for my kids. I want them to give their best in all they do and not let status quo be their standard.

So Studly reluctantly agreed to MY conditions. (Seriously? Did he really think a 12 year old would set the terms?) He was to complete all of his lessons for that day and the day of the 'hang out', and do so with a positive attitude. If he accomplished this, then he would be allowed to spend the next day with his friend. And so he did.

He left the next morning at 8 AM and arrived back that evening a little after 6 PM. I was on the computer completing some tasks when he entered the office. He wrapped his arms around my neck and laid his head on my shoulders. He stayed there for about 3 to 4 minutes before I finally asked if everything was okay? He kept his head on my shoulder and replied, "I'm fine; I just missed you mom." My heart melted into his hug and I sighed a sigh of relief. I had not been too harsh. I was what he needed me to be, and he was better for it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Heart of Courage

Babygirls's basketball team played their 10th game last night. Their record is 2 - 8. Not that they are a terrible team; they've just lost some very close games.

Last night they only had 5 girls to "fight the battle" on the court. This meant that no one on the team got a chance to rest; except for typical timeouts and time between quarters. The girls stepped out bravely and faced their opponent with courage and strength.

We took the lead in the first few minutes of the game and all of the girls were giving their best. (You have to remember... this is the first season these girls have played together, and for some of them, it is their first time playing basketball period!) It has been quite enjoyable watching these girls morph from lanky, scared, apprehensive players into brave, strong, courageous warriors. They are learning the meaning of team effort; to celebrate one another's successes and to share defeat.

Babygirl has been one of those shy apprehensive players. She has given her all on defense, but has been timid on offense. Many times, in games past, she has been given the ball and has immediately passed it to another player or has tried to move around without dribbling. Each time she has received encouraging instruction from her coaches, teammates and mom and dad of course. In each of those games we have prodded her to shoot the ball and try to make a shot. She has always smiled that innocent grin, shrugged her shoulders and carried on.

Last night was different. I think it had something to do with only having 5 girls and knowing that each one of them had to "step up their game" for the betterment of the team.

The stage was set and all the pieces in place. Babygirl was in her position at the top right of the key, while on offense, and opportunity came knocking. She was given the ball. She dribbled a little closer toward her goal and then it happened... she shot the ball! It hit the rim, bounced off and the rebound was picked up by the other team, but a milestone had taken place. Babygirl realized that even though she is one of the smallest girls on that court, she too can make a difference.

The next time our team took possession of the ball the girls came barreling down the court. The ball was again passed to Babygirl and this time, with determination on her face, she dribbled in and shot the ball. It made no sound except for the "swish" of the net!!! Cheers rang out throughout the gym from her family, coaches and teammates! You would have thought we had won the championship game with the sound of triumph being sung by those cheering her on! Her teammates rushed over and hugged her, before quickly heading back down the court to set up their defense and continue on in their battle for victory.

The score at the end of the game did not reflect what had happened there last night. A team had come together and small victories were won in hearts and in minds. Size does not matter! It's the determination in your heart and the support of those around you that matters at the end of the day. We left that gym with smiles from ear to ear! Proud of who our daughter is becoming, and proud of the team standing beside her!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

CAUTION: Patience in Progress

Home schooling woes have been held to a minimum in the past week or so. All of the crying, complaining and fussing has just about withered away; and my children are doing much better as well! I had become convinced that I had made a terrible mistake (having children period) and that I needed to allow someone with more wisdom, patience and bravery to teach my offspring.

What, might you ask, has made a difference?

Ear plugs and muzzles! JUST KIDDING!!! (well... maybe)

Honestly, I had come to my wits end. My dear daughter was/is struggling with reading and comprehension. She was a straight A student in 2nd grade, but was recommended for summer school due to her reading deficiency. ( I know, weird huh? Straight A student going to summer school? Sounds like we are having some issues in the public school system... but that is another blog story.) Understand, that I am not blaming the public school system for my daughters challenges in reading. As her parent, that is my responsibility and I accept it fully. But starting this year, 3rd grade, we have had some "catching up" to do.

We have worked and worked and worked at critical thinking in reading, and it just seems as if the day is never going to come when the light bulb will turn on and she will grasp it. Her favorite words, when the going gets tough, are, "I don't know." Nothing boils my blood more than to say, "I don't know." There is always an answer... you may just have to work to get it, but it is there. I have a competitive nature within me that pushes me beyond normal limits. Don't tell me no, or that I can't, because then I will.

I want more for my children then just okay. I want them to reach their full potential; to be who they were created to be. That is not to say that I am choosing their destiny for them, but I am not going to sit by and let minimum effort be enough. My son has told me numerous times that the effort he has put forth on his work is comparable to other kids his age and grade. Not good enough! If comparable is all we want in life, then we will have to be content with giving up the status of being the greatest country in the world and settle for a 3rd world country, because that is where we will wind up. Competition drives you to be your best, to give better, to try harder, and to not set limits for yourself. Saying, "I at least made an effort" is weak and futile.

Back to my daughter. I had tried numerous things to help her grasp comprehension and critical thinking. I talked with other home schooling parents and public school teachers. I complained to friends and family on countless occasions, and was always met with the same thing each day; the words "I don't know." In frustration and despair I went into my room, and through tears, turned to the One I knew would have the answer for me. I cried out to God. I pleaded my case before Him, and in utter frustration was about to give up and send her back to public school. And then I said it; "God, I just don't know what to do anymore."

We have a gracious heavenly father who puts up with a lot from us! In the true spirit of a father who loves His child, I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder and heard a whisper in my ear saying, "You are using the exact same words that you have told your daughter not to use. You are telling her that she can solve and push through this, but you are about to give up on her. I am trying to teach you the same lesson. You do know the answer! It's just that it is hard. You have to keep on keeping on. She will get it! Don't give up on her, because I'm not giving up on you."

I left my room a few minutes later not fully aware of the impact that little revelation from our heavenly father would have on me. But in the 2 weeks following, I have had a change of heart. I have never asked for patience that I am aware of (unless having children is an automatic request, which i fear it might be) but, I am receiving a renewed abundance of it each morning. I look forward to the challenge each new day brings; and my daughter... lets just say she has had some shining moments!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It was something... then it was nothing

I have decided to devote this post to something new. I have spent most, if not all, of my past postings trying to bring a little bit of humor to some of the things I deal with in my daily life. I enjoy laughing at these little things, and I have tried to share some of that with you (my faithful few.)

But today, there is a different stirring in my heart; one that I can not ignore. It is born out of the journey I am walking (just because running takes a lot of energy) and I felt a need to share some of it with the wide open spaces of the internet (meaning you.) : ) (Is it weird that I put a smiley face on a blog post?) (Ok, now I'm talking to myself in a post.) (See... this is the whole reason I refused to start interneting in the first place! It's bad enough when you talk to yourself at home alone... but taking it online... that's a whole new dimension of weirdness.) (Enough of that... back to my stirring in the heart thing.)

Well, I got interrupted in the middle of writing this post to allow my daughter to do some school work online, and now I have lost my train of thought. I'm sure I will find the train again when it comes around. Until then, this will just be a very random post about nothing.

You are all now privy to a little bit more of what makes me uniquely me!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

One Proud Momma

Bless my daughter's dear heart. She is playing basketball on a city league team for the first time. They played their fifth game tonight and lost by one point in the last seconds of the game. They have not won a game yet, although they have come close a few times.

Tonight, Baby girl, gave an amazing effort! She is one of the smallest girls on the court each game. She is not aggressive by nature and has a hard time practicing that on the court. But tonight she really played hard and was an affective player on the team. The very last quarter was extremely aggressive with fouls and free throws being given left and right. The last 5 minute quarter lasted 30 minutes!!! But in the end we lost the battle by one point.

Baby girl listened to the speech the coach gave them and then headed towards us. The closer she got the less she could control her emotions, and the tears began to flow. She and her team had fought a valiant fight and in the end the scoreboard said they had lost.

I quickly grabbed her and scooped her up in my arms. I hadn't expected this kind of reaction from her. She is compassionate about family and animals, but I just hadn't expected that compassion to leak over into the competitive realm as well. I did not realize how much this meant to her. It broke my heart to see her so torn up over this. I also felt a little bit (ok a lot) of pride in her. She gave everything she had out on that court... her blood, sweat and tears. She had given it all and left nothing to regret. I'm proud of her and wanted the world to know! (or at least those of you reading this)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Manly Men

It is no secret among my family and friends that I am a huge football fan!!! I can't wait for the season to get here. I am the type of person that has to watch the pre-game, post-game, interviews and commentary throughout the week. I enjoy going to games and watching them on tv. I will watch by myself or with friends (just so long as you do not interrupt my game). Hehe (no seriously)

This past Monday my team, The One and Only Pittsburgh Steelers, were playing against a good Denver Broncos team (this year). We had friends and family over to join us in the celebration of Monday Night Football! I made sure that we had dinner prepared in time for us to be able to eat and then sit in front of the tv to watch not only the game, but pre-game as well.

Kick off comes and goes and my friend Sophie and I (dressed in my jersey, team hat, and terrible towel) are in the living room cheering on the Steelers! A few minutes goes by and suddenly we both notice that our husbands are still in the kitchen talking, while the women are in the living room watching and cheering on the sport of football. It must have donned on them as well, because a few minutes after our realization, they came strolling into the living room ready to reclaim their rightful place as "men."

Patience... Ugh

The definition of patience (according to Webster) is the quality, state, or fact of being patient; the ability to be patient.

Since that definition didn't really clear things up for me, I had to take it a step further and practice patience (which I know nothing about at this point) and look up the word patient.

The definition of patient (again, according to Webster) is demonstrating uncomplaining endurance under distress.

WOW and then WOW again!!! Uncomplaining endurance under distress?

Uncomplaining: to NOT express grief, pain, uneasiness, or discontent.
Distress: to cause suffering of mind or body; pain or suffering; severe physical or mental strain

So I am to understand that exercising patience means that I will not complain when I am suffering either physically or mentally due to grief, pain or discontent?

You ever hear the old saying, "Be careful what you ask for. You just might get it." I don't ever remember asking for patience, yet I am finding myself having to "practice" it on a daily basis. And I use the word practice on purpose! I assure you that I am no where near being an expert at patience and so I will have to continue practicing for quite a while.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

One Week Later...

For whatever reason, unbeknownst to me, my family seems to think that they need to wear a different set of clothes EVERYDAY and that dirty ones should be washed. Dishes that were clean before they used them have to be cleaned AGAIN. Dust seems to never stop gathering on my furniture, and the cat doesn't follow the rules: NO SHEDDING FUR and CLEAN YOUR OWN LITTER. The floor doesn't vacuum itself, although I have asked it to numerous times. Soap scum still builds up in my bathroom and simply walking in there and saying "be clean" doesn't seem to make it disappear. Halloween candy keeps jumping into my mouth even after I put up the No Trespassing sign. My children (including my husband child) seem to think that asking for 3 meals a day is a reasonable request, leading again, to the dirty dishes problem. Home schooling my kids means I actually have to participate daily in their learning process and I can't slack off one bit. And gosh darn it, simply thinking about exercising doesn't have quite the same results as actually doing the exercises!

What am I learning about myself? That I have a "unique" situation that no other person on earth has ever had to deal with before, and I need a reality tv show to come in and make my life better!