Starting next week he will have basketball twice a week and lacrosse conditioning three times a week, including two sessions per week with a guy named "Sarge" who comes highly recommended.
He has also agreed to reconsider his diet.
A month or two ago, we had this talk and I told him I would support whatever weight control plan he chose, as long as he chose one.
He chose Slim Fast shakes.
And then he gained 15 pounds.
I was skeptical of the idea that drinking milkshakes was going to do much to help him lose weight, but I never thought they'd make him gain so much. I think he was drinking them with meals instead of in the place of meals.
So we're back to the drawing board. And right now, on the drawing board is the Paleo Diet.
I've heard good things. It make intuitive sense. And unlike Atkins and other low-carb diets, you can eat sweets - as long as the sweets we're talking about are fruit.
That's basically the diet - fruit, veggies, eggs, meat, nuts. No dairy, no grains, no beans or legumes. No chemicals or added sugar. (Alas, no Cake Pops.)
I like it!
Tonight, the whole family went to the gym. Then the boys and I went to the grocery store.
Let me tell you, it wasn't easy. Cheese went in the cart. Cheese came out of the cart. That kind of thing.
On the other hand, it was nice to spend so much time in the produce aisle, letting the kids pick anything they wanted. (Expensive, but nice.) We also picked up coconut milk and more almond milk, and some juice to add to smoothies. We never used to buy juice becuase of the high sugar content, so this was a treat. Not sure if it's actually part of the diet, but a little added to a fruit smoothie probably won't hurt as long as they don't go wild with it.
Going to take the Paleo Diet book upstairs and soak my tired bones in the tub.
That's how long the Teen said I had to wait before running again while the tendon in my ankle and foot healed.
I've been paitent and good. No running. Ice and Advil. Stretching and strengthening exercises.
Pain-free, I started up again today. This time, on the track instead of the treadmill. A lot of barefoot/Vibram/Chi runners aren't big fans of treadmills, which probably makes sense, considering the whole point is to run the way we're naturally designed to run. Which isn't on a treadmill.
Running on the track did feel good, despite the fact that it's only 1/16 of a mile long and I had to keep turning. They alternate directions every day, which is fine unless you run on alternate days.
One thing I do like is the little counters they have for people to hold while they run. It's fun to click the button after each lap. These are the kinds of things I need to amuse myself without a TV or window to look at while I'm running indoors.
I only did 1.5 miles today - not wanting to push it too hard too soon. But I left the Vibrams on and went to about 10 stores looking for Little's birthday present from his brothers.
Amazing how when I was Christmas shopping, these things were everywhere, and now four days after Christmas, everyone's out of them. They had the doughnut makers, the cupcake makers, the little pie makers... but no cake pop makers.
So I got a lot more running in, this time outdoors, in various parking lots in the area. Finally found a store that still had them. It looks like it will be fun.
Running outdoors in the cold wasn't actually too bad in short bursts. I might need some warmer running clothes if I'm going to make it a habit.
I also made it to kickboxing and class tonight, where I took a nasty accidental hit to the eye, resulting in an impressive cut and bruise. It didn't stop me from finishing class or joining the gang for a snack afterward, but it will require some eyedrops and extra makeup over the next few days, I'm afraid. I've been told that purple eyeshadow is making a comeback - maybe this is my week to try it.
Tonight, I'm weary. Relaxing and watching Mission: Impossible with Savageman and Middle. Occasionally applying a bag of frozen corn to my eye.
Looking at the adorable cake pop cookbook I got to go with the cake pop maker. (He's going to love this.)
She blessed my Teen and his room with sage and decorated both of us with beautiful and/or meaningful art. He digs her so much and she always has such good ideas for how he can be more at peace with himself and others.
He got a meditation mat and pillow for Christmas, along with an incense burner and some good Nag Champa, an Om trinket, and a book and CD on meditation produced by her Buddhist Monk friend and mentor.
So the two of them have had plenty to talk about.
It's so good to have another adult in his life who really gets him and loves him for who he is. It's not easy being the Teen. He needs all the help he can get sometimes, and she has been an extremely positive influence on him.
Savageman and I spent the day with a group of friends at the nearby Hollywood Casino. We'd never been there before, so we were glad to be going with people who had.
It was quite the experience.
We played penny slots. They were actually more like $.30 or $.40 slots because your odds are better playing 30 or 40 rows at a time. And of course, you can double or triple your bet after that as well. We spent a long time drinking free soda and playing with the same $10 or so, but in the end we never really won anything.
One of our friends did, though - she won $250 playing nickel slots. Very fun to watch. After karate, a bunch of us went out as usual - she was buying.
Santa arrived, left the gifts and ate the cookies and drank the milk we left him, the reindeer made a big mess on the front porch as always... the only change this year is that everyone slept in much later than expected. So we got a late start, and thus a late start for the long drive to CT, but it all worked out okay.
As draining as yesterday's shopping trip was, today's was pure fun. Mainly due to the fact that I was with friends and Middle was with his Christmas Swag Posse.
I especially love Middle's reindeer antlers. The girls have lollipops because one of them just got her ears pierced at Claire's. Good times.
Got everyone's shopping done in a short amount of time. Little got several things from the Kitchen Store, including a Pancake Puff maker, which I think he will really like. We ate in the not-especially-crowded Food Court and headed home to wrap presents. With time to spare.
We went to Mass, and then back to my parents' house for gifts and dinner.
It's days like today that make me realize why I wait to do my Christmas prep and get it done in a few days. It also makes me realize why people who start on Thanksgiving weekend are stressed and grouchy for a month.
I spent the first half of the day here in the house, cleaning and getting ready for tree decorating. Note that we still haven't actually decorated the tree, but at least now we can find it.
The second half of the day I spent shopping. Or at least trying to shop. My kids are impossible. The Teen is on a kick, so he was easy. His gifts were all related to the same theme, and I bought them all Monday, along with gifts for my girlfriends. The other two are a different story. Most of the cool gifts I saw would have been great if 1) they were crafty girls or 2) they were littler kids. They're old enough not to want stuff from Toys R Us. They're young enough not to want bunches of clothes. They don't need any electronics or games. They have plenty of books and a wonderful library system if there's something they don't have. They have a decade's worth of Legos, KNex, Imaginext, etc. neatly put away in bins, ready to be used when they feel like it. They have a well-stocked kitchen (although Little did request his own saute pan, which he's getting. But he helped pick it out so it won't be a surprise.) They have all the educational stuff, art stuff, music stuff, pottery wheel stuff, sock creature stuff, camping stuff... and they rarely use it.
Plus, I just spent my entire Fall purging the house of extraneous crap. I'm not really in the mood to bring in a lot of new crap they don't need.
I'm kind of at a loss. Someone suggested we get them candy. I kind of hate the idea, but I don't know what else to do. We're at the point where we're just buying crap so they'll have something to open. Which is so not what I'm about.
Anyway, I arrived at sparring feeling totally fried from wandering around stores trying to think of things to buy. It was good to go out for pizza and laugh with our friends for a while. But I'm still ready for a hot bath and bed and it's not even midnight.
And I have to do it again tomorrow. :-(
This is the kind of thing I can do as long as it's only for a day or two. If I had to have it on my radar screen for more than a week, it would wreck me. I'm just not built that way.
A good visit with a friend started off a satisfying and productive day. Nothing like a warm beverage with an equally warm and trusted soul to get the happy feelings and Christmas Spirit flowing. We got the tree today and it's fresh and lovely and smells wonderful. We did some more shopping, spent two hours at the dojang, and then I headed out to Om Baby to meet up with my birthy friends for a Solstice sound circle. The Teen came along, which was really great. It seemed to be exactly what he needed. The other mothers present were complimentary of him, and of the relationship we have, which meant so much to me coming from such an insightful group of women.
We talked, we meditated, we made a sorrowful sound and a joyful sound, we did rounds of Om... it was a good time with good people. My friend facilitated the evening and did a wonderful job of lifting our spirits and helping us prepare for winter. Each of us received a Native American animal symbol card to reflect on during the evening and throughout the winter. Mine was the Dolphin, which I loved. The Dolphin is a power animal, symbol of Breath of Life, Love, Balance and Community. And of course, playfulness.
I couldn't have chosen a better card for where I feel I am right now, and these were the areas on which I focused during our meditation and discussion. Breath is so important to me as a childbirth teacher and as an athlete, and it is what I turn to daily to stay focused and centered. Love and Balance are important in a season of my life where I am embracing new challenges and moving my life forward in so many new ways. And of course, Community is essential to me as I reconnect with my Tribes of both old and new friends - and as we remember to enjoy ourselves and get out to play from time to time. So I'll be thinking about the Dolphin during these winter months. Maybe I'll get a little picture or figurine to hang where I can see it as a reminder of the evening and of what the Dolphin symbolizes.
One of the things the Teen said that really seemed to resonate with everyone is how detached people have become due to technology - the cell phone, social media, etc. He indicated his phone and said, "My generation has too much of this" and then he gestured to the people sitting in the circle together - "and not enough of this." And he complimented me for not letting him have a phone until he was 15. Proud mama moment right there.
When it was over and we had socialized for a bit, we headed to the B&N Starbucks to meet up with Middle and the the Ninja tribe. Warm feelings all around. Hugs and wishes of Merry Christmas to each other and reassurances that we would all be together again next week. The bonds we have formed are strong ones, and no one is shy about saying so. Just about everyone there has had something in their life they have had to overcome. Here, on the other side of that, is perspective and gratitude. None of us takes these bonds for granted. Trusted friends are precious, and we all know it and acknowledge it.
It's been a full day, and I'm heading off to bed feeling warm and satisfied and truly, truly, blessed.
So tonight I resumed regular martial arts activities.
"Can I throw you?"
And it was fine. I guess my ribs are healed. Was it the self-forgiveness? The massage? The Aleve I'm taking for my ankle? A combination of all three? Whatever it was, I'm glad to not feel so fragile anymore.
Now to address the issue of the ankle...
The Teen talked to the athletic trainer he works for at school and she said no running for 2-3 weeks. I'm counting time already served for that. Ice, double Aleve, rest. I'm compromising on the rest part - no running, but I'm not skipping kickboxing or martial arts classes. The one thing that really hurts it is walking (shopping). Jumping and punching and kicking are fine.
I'm too busy this week to run anyway. Or so I'm telling myself.
And after a long day at work and class, I'm ready to stretch out on the couch with a cat and an ice pack for the rest of the evening.
No tree yet, but we did actually go to the tree place - they just weren't open when we stopped by.
But it counts.
Did a good bit of shopping. I especially enjoyed finally getting out to see my good friend at the Heaven and Nature store where she works. It was lovely. I didn't want to leave.
Middle, Little and I spent the whole afternoon Christmas and grocery shopping. We got a lot done, but by the time I was checking out at the grocery store, my anterior tibialis tendonitis was acting up to the point that all I wanted to do was go home, apply ice, and take large quantities of Aleve.
I did that for about 20 minutes and headed out for 2+ hours of kickboxing and martial arts class.
Suck it up, ankle. This is what we do.
Tomorrow I need to make cookies for an evening cookie exchange. Wednesday I work, Thursday features a Winter Solstice party / drum circle, Friday is for last-minute shopping and wrapping, and Saturday is Christmas Eve with my parents. Sunday we travel to CT for the day.
This is my preferred way of doing Christmas - one intensive week, followed by a week of relaxing and enjoying each other's company and our new toys.
Off to put together some gift bags. And ice my foot.
Spent another day hanging around the house, getting things done. The living and dining rooms are pretty much finished now, and I like the new furniture, new curtains, the coffee bar, and the lack of clutter very much.
Savageman took the boys out for a long time and I had the place to myself. Yesterday, I put together a Pandora station I'm very happy with and the house has been filled with good music all weekend. Good smells in the forms of butternut squash soup and Nag Champa. Good long conversation with a friend without interruptions.
I finally got the Christmas decorations out of the attic. Tomorrow we will get the tree and start decorating for real. And shopping. I'm finally ready to do the Christmas Thing without the tension and stress of it competing with everything else that needed to be done.
Deep, contented sigh.
My ribs even feel better.
(But don't tell Savageman yet. I still want another massage.)
Feeling strong and centered and very blessed tonight.
After a whole day of hanging around the house, listening to Pandora and doing various House Projects, it was great to get out tonight for some live music with a friend. Good music, good companionship, many beers, and my friend introduced me to a fascinating Sufi Healer who suggested that my rib injury will resolve once I forgive.
Then she surprised me by telling me it was myself I needed to forgive.
I thought that was very interesting. So often, when we think of forgiveness, we think of the hurt we've experienced because of what someone else has done. The focus is on being able to forgive, or at least accept and release, the other person. We don't always consider our anger with ourselves for allowing whatever it was to happen in the first place. Or for believing it couldn't happen.
And that's what lingers, isn't it?
That's what causes people to continue to hurt, to hold back, to be afraid of trusting themselves or others, and, according to this person I met tonight, it sometimes manifests itself in the form of physical injuries or illnesses.
I don't know if I completely believe that the rib injury sustained during my belt test had anything to do with needing to forgive myself, but it was interesting that that was her immediate instinct about it. It was certainly something worth examining.
And honestly, she's right. I am angry with myself.
And if the rib injury was the vehicle by which I was introduced to this person and got into this particular conversation in which I heard this piece of wisdom which I probably needed to hear from someone else and if I go on to take her advice and work on that now... then maybe it's served its purpose.
Which would be great, because I'm sick of my ribs hurting.
As a result of this injury, I have to tell my partners at karate, "I can work with you on this technique, but I have to ask you not to throw me for now." Or, "I can spar with you, but you can't hit me here." I have to ask my husband for massages. I have to ask the kids not to roughhouse with me.
The last two weeks have been an exercise in recognizing my needs and my limits and requesting that others respect those limits. Practice in an area where I clearly needed work.
That, and reframing my expectations of what I believe should happen if I work hard to do everything right. Expecting to be treated fairly in return was setting myself up for heartbreak and injury.
I knew the risks of throwing myself down on that mat.
(Not my field as in the field across the street where they're building a house. My field as in I used to be a Brain Scientist before my own brain got so fried from raising children that I couldn't even remember where I put my keys, let alone the role of the anterior cingulate cortex in the modulation of attention. THAT field.)
In any case, it's nice to be working again. I've done it on and off for the last 10 years or so, but my friend and employer has moved to a bigger space with a separate office where I can come in and administer neuropsych tests.
So they're scheduling me with some regularity now, which is great.
With the Teen in school, Middle homeschooling on the Self-Directed plan and Little working with my mom for a few hours every day anyway (Thanks Mom!), the change in schedule hasn't had a major impact.
Although the house is messier than usual this week. I'll clean it tomorrow.
Happy to be dressing up and going to the office regularly again, doing meaningful work that is both challenging and interesting, with people whose company I enjoy.
For the first time since last March, I put a color other than yellow around my waist.
My new belt is...
I love it already.
Green is three colors away from White, and two colors away from Black.
For me, Green represents two and a half years of study, of memorization, of repetition, of sweat. Two and a half years of hard landings, flubbed forms, sore muscles and broken toes.
Two and a half years of up to 10 hours per week in the dojang, and many more practicing between classes in my living room and backyard. Of asking my son to grab or kick or punch me once more so I could get a technique right.
Two and a half years of the most patient teachers and mentors and friends encouraging me and reminding me that even the second-degree Black Belts were once White or Orange or Yellow Belts struggling with the same form or technique.
And telling me that if they could get it, I will too if I keep trying.
I spent a large chunk of time lying on the couch with Middle today. We were both reading. He had his Psychology text, and then a science magazine; I had a book called Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar. I was pleased that we were reading about the same thing for a little while - his chapter and mine were both describing the concept of "flow" - the state of being immersed in something that is rewarding in itself, when we realize peak experience and peak performance.
He and I both know what that feels like - it happens all the time when we're in our kickboxing and martial arts classes. I would also say I experience that while I'm writing and while I'm running. We had a good conversation about what our different sources said about flow, and how it applies to our own lives.
The book I'm reading describes several reasons why so many children do not have chances to experience this at school. I don't know how Middle will be once he goes to school next year, but I'm glad he's had this foundation of spending large amounts of time doing something he loves, which both challenges him and gives him a sense of mastery. I hope he remembers this feeling of flow when he is choosing his paths in life somewhere down the road.
I also hope he remembers days like this, where the two of us were able to just cuddle up under a blanket on the couch and read together for hours. This is likely our last year of having these long stretches of time together. I want to savor them.
Today's spirit-nurturing activity was to go with a friend to see a Buddhist monk speak about meditation and other aspects of mindfulness and spiritual wellness.
There were several good take-home messages from his talk, but tonight, "Be kind to yourself" stands out. For me, this means eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising my body and mind, and surrounding myself with happy, fulfilled people as much as I possibly can.
Hopefully setting an example for my kids to do the same.
... and I just got home from a party, so this is going to be quick.
I love hanging out with my hippie-birthy-midwifey friends. It's... comfortable.
Which is, by no means, to say that my other friends are at all uncomfortable - it's just that those relationships took time and effort to develop. With this group, the connection happens right away.
When I meet new people in this circle like I did tonight, there's the feeling of "she's one of us - she's okay." Having spent the last 15 years teaching natural childbirth and breastfeeding grants me automatic membership to this group of passionate homebirthers and extended breastfeeders.
It's nice to feel that welcome, without having to explain or defend or justify who I am. There's a level of acceptance with them that you don't often see. Maybe it comes from being outside the mainstream in many ways.
Feeling blessed to have spent so much time with them this week.
So one of the cool perks to finishing NaNoWriMo is access to free or discounted Stuff.
Today, I took advantage of one such offer and downloaded a program called Scrivener. Clicking the link will give you a better idea of what this is than I can possibly explain, but basically it's a word processor and project management tool designed to help organize thoughts, ideas, characters, plot lines, scenes, images, etc. involved in creating a large writing project.
Like a novel.
I am actually starting to miss my novel. I promised myself I wouldn't read it until January and I'm determined not to even take a small peek. Strictly following NaNoWriMo rules worked well for me this year, and I don't intend to deviate from the rules now. But I miss my characters. I miss problem-solving with them, I miss the insights and plot twists that would come to me in the car or the shower, and I miss spending some time every day in my own little made-up world.
Today I had lunch with a friend who is currently working very hard on a novel of her own, and hearing her talk about how good writing made her feel brought home for me how acutely I have been missing my own project.
So I came home and downloaded this software, which we both agreed was Pretty Darn Cool.
And it's got a two-hour tutorial, which should take me about a week to get through, since I really don't have a lot of extra time to be writing, or playing with writing tools, between now and Christmas.
Not that I'm complaining, because it's Good Busy. Working out. Eating out. Regular part-time employment. Childbirth doula opportunities. Christmas prep. And of course... parties. On top of the normal schoolwork and housework, it's a lot, but it's all good. And it's keeping me busy enough to resist the temptation to read and edit too soon.
Honestly, even without all the fun stuff going on this month, I have a long enough list of other people's books I want to read before I go back and try to read my own - as evidenced from the column on the right of partially-read books stacked on my nighttable or downloaded to my Nook. So even during what little down-time I'm getting, I shouldn't be tempted. Much.
And by the time I finally do get back to working on it, I will have this cool program to help me.
Going to take some time to go through the tutorial, then I'm hitting the bath with a glass of wine and a book someone else wrote.
I still ran, but no martial arts, due to the continued discomfort in the back portion of my ribs on the one side, which I have decided are bruised, not broken. I had to have a little talk with the ribs today regarding the needs of the rest of the body and I guess they understood because I made it through kickboxing and class without much of a problem from them.
In exchange, I agreed not to be thrown for a few more days.
Tonight, I'm pleasantly exhausted. I was supposed to work today, but my client cancelled at the last minute, so I used the time instead to get the house picked up and go for a long run. Got a lot of work done with the boys, made Real Food for dinner and got in for the two classes. Now I'm going to relax, eat a treat Little created from his new Cookie Magazine, put my feet up, and watch a movie with Savageman and Middle.
But I did go out to a new Japanese restaurant and I did try raw sushi for the first time.
Wow, it was good. Especially considering I wasn't going to even taste it. I wound up going back for seconds of the tuna, which tasted better than the best steak I've had in recent memory.
(Savageman just came in and said, "I'm not staying home to care of you tomorrow...")
Good to try new things once in a while, and good to have some quality time catching up with a friend.
And while I didn't go to karate, I did run 3.5 miles this morning, which actually felt Easy Peasy, so the plan is to bump it up again this week to 4. I guess the rib is not actually broken, or I wouldn't have been able to do that. I also managed not to take any Motrin today. Breathing feels okay now, just not touching or moving my torso. Maybe an Aleve would be a good idea tonight, come to think of it...
In any case, I've been advised to take a few days off to recover, which I don't mind at all if I'm going to do fun things like go out to dinner.
Also, Little got his Christmas Cookie magazine today and is, at this moment, upstairs reading it under his blanket with a flashlight, formulating his diabolical plans to bake us all into fat pants this month. I suppose I could help him with that tomorrow.
Today, a group of us gathered around her, lit candles, read affirmations, and massaged her with good-smelling lotions. We each presented her with a bead we had brought for her to make into a birth necklace.
These rituals, paired with beautiful music and delicious food, created a wonderful little retreat for us Birth Mamas. I don't think that my friend was the only person to leave feeling nourished by it.
To an outsider, I can see how this "alternative baby shower," might look a little odd. But I think many can agree that, in our culture, we don't have enough of these kinds of rituals that bring us together to celebrate these major milestones in our lives. And when we do get together to celebrate a new bride-to-be or mother-to-be, the focus is too often on the "stuff" - and not on the person and the milestone we're celebrating.
Spiritualism has given over to commercialism.
Our gifts to her today were our beads, our hands, our voices, and our wisdom. And the constant reminders that she is not alone and has a "tribe" to draw upon should she need us during her birth, as she learns to breastfeed again, or as she struggles with the new challenges of being a mother of two.
But it's empowering. I wasn't perfect, of course, but I felt extremely good about it, especially given how nervous I was during the mock tests this week where I froze up and forgot basic stuff.
I felt like it was much harder than a normal cardio+class. Can't believe I tried to trick myself into thinking it was the same thing. :-P
Thinking we moms look pretty good given what we've just been through for the last two hours...
In any case, once the adrenaline was pumping - and there was a LOT of adrenaline for me in this test - I was pleased with how clear-headed I was. I think I do a lot better when I don't overthink things, and I was so exhausted by the physical part of the test that I wouldn't have been able to think if I had tried.
Somehow, that worked for me.
Another change I've seen since my last test 6 months ago is how quickly I was able to regain control of my breathing and heart rate after very intense exercise / stress. I credit the running in part - my resting pulse is much lower now, and I've noticed my recovery rate is much faster than it used to be when I've monitored it.
Tonight, I'm relaxing. A little worried I might have injured a rib, so I'm icing it and taking Motrin. Trying to just rest and recover.
Six months of working on the Green Belt material and the Big Test is tomorrow morning.
36 Taekwondo actions
25 Fighting techniques
30 Hapkido techniques
5 Judo techniques
11 forms of 20+ moves each
2 nunchaku forms
1 sword form
15 different types of falls
Not to mention the physically challenging part of the test - the burpees, pushups, crunches, & continuous sparring - interspersed with the memorized material listed above...
And the emotional stress of having my teachers and mentors and fellow students watching, and having Green Belt expectations of me now...
And knowing that I totally choked in each of the mock tests I took this week, including tonight...
I work too hard at this to suck at it on the day of the test.
(The irony of it is, the more I think that, the worse I suck. I'm quite good at psyching myself out.)
So tomorrow, I'm going into this like it's a regular double class, which I take all the time. That's how I need to keep thinking about it. Just like a regular cardio+class. Grueling and exhausting, but in a good way.
Green will be such a nice color to wear around my waist.
In the meantime, I'm trying not to growl at people. I've had a lot on my mind, and a lot of responsibilities to juggle. Preparing for this test was just enough to push me over the edge into not-so-nice, but it will be over in a few hours and I will sleep and recover and be back to my usual sweet self.