Let’s Kick It

karatekids
There can be only one.

Eats:  Fluids!  No, it’s not a new diet.  It’s the stomach flu!  No kidding, everyone in the house was sick this week so I indulged in such delicacies as Lemon Lime Gatorade, Canada Dry Ginger Ale, and Fruit Punch Gatorade.

Pandora:  Celtic music is my jam.  This week I’ve been listening to a lot of it.  This is possibly because I watched Braveheart a few times while I was sick (as one does), but I’ve always had an affinity for the fiddles and bawdy lyrics.  If you haven’t before, search “Celtic” in Pandora, choose “Station” and give it a listen. I bet you’ll be doing an Irish jig in no time.

Michael Flatley – Irish Jigger Extraordinaire

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Wanderlust:  Nothing new to report, sadly.  It’s a dream of mine to go to a film festival, though, and I might be close to making that happen.  Fingers crossed!

Workouts:  Because of the sickness, all I managed were Gatorade curls and sleep.  I will say, though, that the sleep was glorious.  Also, my older son is a blue belt in karate right now and I get a “kick” out of watching him practice!

Spiritual: Lots of talk about magic going on in our house this week, thanks to the Harry Potter books and Hogwarts at Universal Studios.  My son and I had an interesting discussion about magic, in which he stated he didn’t realize that “real” magic existed.  “Of course it does!”, I told him, hand to chest in faux dramatic fashion.  I let him know the secret, as I understand it:  The less a person believes in magic, the less one sees it.  The more a person believes in magic, the more he or she will be able to recognize it in the world around him.  He was delighted in this truth, and I was delighted to share it with him.

Dreams:  Animals!  I’ve had dreams about baby pandas and an avalanche of black sheep this week.  I am SURE they mean something but also sure that I probably don’t want to know.

Photographing:  Lots of screen shots of quotes this week.  I’ve been kinda grumpy and stressed, so I keep things to help me remember nice thoughts and encouraging words.

dumbledore

Movies and TV: I’ve been waiting to write this portion of the blog all week!  Rumor has it (and rumor actually confirmed by Vanity Fair ) that the original cast of The Karate Kid will be reuniting for a TV special!  Words cannot express (at least, not any words in my limited vocabulary) the elation I experienced when I heard his news.  For many reasons these films (ahem, the originals only) hold a special place in my heart.  Of course, there will be a gigantic Pat Morita – sized hole in the special, but I’m hopeful that his character will be treated with honor and respect.  Ralph Macchio is by all accounts quite a nice guy, and I hope this is a hit for him and Billy Zabka.  I will definitely be watching!

Library:  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  Seriously, I’m only 2 pages in.  This week I’m taking sabbatical from work (don’t worry, they know about it) so I will try and sink my teeth in and share with you guys if I catch feelings.  Or start speaking Parseltongue.

Tech:  Words With Friends, mis amigos.  I’ve been challenged this week by friends, former English teachers, and total strangers.  I’ve won, I’ve lost, I’ve pitched my fists into the air in frustration.  It’s a great way to keep the mind sharp, or to get upset about how dull your mind is.  It’s one or the other.  Also, check out the Robin Hood App.  It’s a FREE stock trading app, and it is quite user-friendly.  Aptly named after the legendary outlaw who “robbed from the rich to give to the poor”, this app promises to help the “little guy” who isn’t educated on trading to build his portfolio.  Does it work?  I have no idea.  Right now they have a promotion going and if you sign up RIGHT OVER HERE you will receive one free share of mystery stock.  You can also receive free stock for any person who signs up using your link.  Free stock is free money, so go get some!

One last serious note: Rest in Peace, dear Robin Williams. It’s been three years already. Your life touched me.  Your death shook me.  Your legacy inspires me.  **If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or considering suicide, please get help.  You are not alone and you are worth fighting for.  You are unrepeatable.  There is a magic inside you that is all your own. (D.M.Dellinger)

Jailhouse Rock

A La Carte:  Let’s see… A lot of my focus has been on cutting out snacks and sugars.  Pure Protein bars are an “old school” favorite of mine, and I’ve had one with a piece of fruit or some cherries every day this week.  Also EAS AdvantEdge shakes are great.  As far as ACTUAL food, sweet potatoes are life right now.  Any way I can get them, especially fries.

Tunes:  Elvis!  That’s right, I’m tuned in to the King this week.  My 7-year-old saw a book at the store and said, “Who is Elvis?”, and I knew I had done him a great disservice.  So this week we’re blasting favorites like “Teddy Bear”, “Blue Christmas”, “All Shook Up”, “Viva Las Vegas”, and “Hound Dog”.   I have fond memories of dancing around to Elvis in my mom’s room, and we’ve had a fun time re-creating it at our house.

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Where I’m Going:  I want to go somewhere new for Christmas.  Well, maybe not ON the day, but for Winter.  It doesn’t snow here.  I’m fantasizing about somewhere white and romantic.  New York?  Paris?  Heck, I’d even consider somewhere out west.  I like to ski!  Maybe Aspen?  I could ski with Tom Cruise and we could discuss our mutual disdain for vitamins and how we both do our own stunts.

Trees in Aspen
Image courtesy Pinterest.

Flesh:  Elliptical cross-training!  I forgot how much fun the elliptical can be.  The ones at my gym have a setting called “X Train Backwards”, and on this setting you go 4 minutes forward, or regular, and 4 minutes back.  It’s great for working quads and hamstrings, and it’s FUN.  If you know me, you know fun is a necessary component in fitness.  Life is too short to have it otherwise!  So if there’s an elliptical at your gym and you’ve never tried it, please do!  Challenge yourself with the settings, too.  I like to go to the very highest level for a minute, then turn it way back down and get high reps, and repeat.  (It’s a lot like doing intervals in spin class.)  Another bonus:  The elliptical simulates skiing motions, so you’ll be prepared for that ski date with Tom!

Here’s a short article on some of the benefits of elliptical training.

Soul: I did a blog post the other day about the small eclipse this month, and already I have seen a few eery things happen (ALL good) in my life.  I’m reading about the BIG eclipse that’s coming and doing my best to prepare, without stressing or planning everything.  I like for things to happen organically and naturally, and not be forced.

Dreams:  Both dreams I remember this week took place in my grandmother’s home.  She is heavily on my mind this week, and I am supposed to go and visit her, so this is probably why.  I’ve also been researching our family tree and thinking about getting some oral histories from her.  One final explanation is that I miss her and her home, and the time I lived there, terribly some days.

Cruise Home
Image from Business Insider

Photographing:  SCHOOL IS IN!  My phone is full of photos of my big 2nd Grader.

Movies and TV: I have discovered a show for children called Pocoyo.  It is available on Netflix and it is adorable.  Very simply animated, and narrated by a man whose voice is quite similar to the guy from Winnie the Pooh (from the 80s), it’s the only thing my toddler will pay any attention to.  Before this, he would not watch TV at all.

Library:  My own book.  Two years ago I wrote a book to honor my grandfather and to process some of my own grief.  The end result has been sitting on my computer since, and I’ve been inspired by some writer friends to go ahead and self-publish on Amazon.  The issue I’m having is that it’s full of religious/spiritual references that I’ve moved on from, and I don’t want to be a phony.  I’ve attempted several different edits, but none of them feels authentic to who my grandfather was.  So… I’m stuck.  I’m sure it’s only temporary.  The next step will be figuring out how to format from Word to e-reader, and so far I can’t even get a successful download (thanks, Firefox!)

Tech: Duolingo is my best friend.  I’ve been sitting up at night becoming fluent in French, in preparation for our inevitable Paris take-over.  If you want to learn a language, consider using the Duolingo App.  It’s fun, free, and easy to learn.  Duolingo offers a variety of languages, and the lessons are short and fun.  You can track your progress, earn rewards, and share Fluency percentage with friends or even have it posted on your LinkedIn profile.

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On the Menu:  Pork chops in A1 marinade.  This was a happy accident, as the A1 bottle fell out of the fridge and busted, and, having been raised by my grandmother, I know better than to waste food.  Baked sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli and yellow squash FTW.

Lyrical:  No new music this week, looking for something fun and uplifting.

Walkabout:  Chatta and Disney are on deck.  Found some RT tickets to Rome for around $500/pp, so we might be saying “Ciao, Bella!” before my birthday!  So exciting!

ROM-02
Image from Google
Temple:  I took a much-needed rest week.  This was completely unplanned.  I had several symptoms of stress and over-training:

  1. Fatigue – I was so tired, I could barely keep my eyes open, and even “accidentally” fell asleep a couple of times.
  2. Weight Gain – Suddenly my weight was up 3-4 lbs, though my diet hadn’t changed.
  3. Muscle Soreness – My legs were hurting, big time.  It wasn’t just superficial pain, it was DEEP down.  When I laid down, they would throb and ache.
  4. Irritability – Emotionally, I felt so drained, and I started lashing out at people for no reason.

So, I made a decision for my health, against the advice of my ego, and I. SAT. DOWN. Difficult (and sometimes it can feel shameful) in #MomLife, but very, very necessary.

Ethereal:  Listening to my August forecast on YouTube, and as always, taking lots of notes and excited to see what this month will bring.  Check out my favorite reader, Kayleigh Jean, at Falcons and Pentacles.

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Best Card Ever.
Dreams:  The only thing I remember from this week is a dream about a former teacher.  Mr. Mustache was my English teacher in 8th grade, and was quite a character.  I dreamed he had died, which according to this link can have several different meanings.

Photographing:  Kids, Snapchat selfies, the usual.

Movies and TV: Mostly Law & Order: SVU.  It’s definitely a guilty pleasure show for me.  I miss Stabler, but like the new characters, too.  Check it out on Netflix, or check USA channel, it’s normally running there around mid-day and afternoon.

Words on Pages:  No books this week.

Tech: Looking for a new laptop, one that is versatile and user-friendly, but also will last a long time.  I currently have a DELL, but I’m looking at the Chromebook too.  Also loving my GIF keyboard by GIPHY, it’s fun and silly and easy to use.

Frankly, My Dear

Eats:  Craving lasagna this week, and all things Italian.  Think Joey from Friends – “Fried stuff with cheese!”  I’m also trying to make a peach cobbler, a la Gone With the Wind. Baking is my culinary “sweet spot” (excuse the pun), so I’m expecting it to be delicious!

Tunes:  Infatuated once again with Sheppard, after hearing this song on YouTube. “Keep Me Crazy” is another Sheppard favorite.  I suggest creating a Pandora station centered around them.  Coldplay, Chainsmokers, and Jeff Buckley because he’s eternal and if you don’t know him, you should.

Wanderlust:  Disney and Chattanooga are booked!  Looking at NY at Christmas or early 2018, and Vegas in the Spring for my HS Reunion.

Body:  Running roads this week.  Morning, afternoon, whenever I can fit it in.  My right hamstring is sore, so I’ve been doing yoga, applying ice and heat, and generally going easy on myself.

Heart and Soul:  Forced laughter turns into real laughter, if you do it long enough.  It’s actually very good for you, and can be contagious.  This is known as Laughter Yoga, or Laughter Meditation.  This week I have been working on spontaneously laughing.  Frustrated?  Laugh.  Sad?  Laugh.  Doing laundry with the kids?  Start laughing.  It leads to all kinds of pleasant things.  In our house, it led to telling jokes, which evolved into an impromptu crawling-on-all-fours tickle war, an experience every family should have at least once. There’s no quicker way to raise your vibe, or to feel connected to someone, than to lie on the floor and laugh with them.  Good times.

Dream News:  Not much to report here.  I’ve been so tired this week, and yet not sleeping well.  I’m not sure there have been any dreams at all.

Photographing:  Leaves, plants native to Georgia.

My Eyes are Watching:  Game of Thrones, DUH.  Actually didn’t watch on premiere night, but did watch the next day and without giving anything away, I’ll say my mind was blown before the intro music even started.  My allegiance has been with House Stark from the beginning (except I do totally love Khal Drogo and Khaleesi).  The North Remembers!

Bookshelf:  I’ve only read blogs this week, especially Abundant Mama, who features a whole series for highly sensitive moms. I am currently in desperate need of book suggestions, if anyone has them.  My oldest just discovered the Magic Treehouse series and he’s totally enchanted.  We also picked up some Solar System flash cards from Target and they’ve been fun for the whole family.  I can boast that I now know what an Eagle Nebula is.  Do you?

Tech: Today I figured out how to get the “Mail” app/shortcut back on the iPhone, in the event your 15-month-old grabs the phone and deletes it like the little maniacal genius he is. See How Here. Also reading up on creating a podcast, and might have something going in this department in the next month or so.

How to be the Best Mom

It’s not a competition.

Wait… is it?  Motherhood is, and should be, a deeply personal and private experience.  How we choose to raise our kids, feed them, discipline them, etc., varies by individual.  We are all different in our beliefs, cultures, and heritage.  So it stands to reason that there is no one “right” way to be a Mom.  In these days of social media and over-sharing, though, it feels much more like a contest.  Those of us “less than” moms – I’ll call us the “non goops” – who don’t always have our shirts neatly pressed or dress our kids in coordinating lobster-print boat shoes for sushi day at the prep school, it can be overwhelming.

There are innumerable blogs, websites, and articles out there on the grand ol’ internet about being a mom.  How to be a better mom.  The things we should be doing, but aren’t.  The things we are doing but stop doing immediately or face ruining our child’s existence forever.  The things we didn’t even know were things, we are so far behind, but we need to buy for our kids, make them by hand or from scratch, avoid doing or our kids might die, continue doing or they might die, things to teach them, tell them, make sure they know, make sure they are aware of, sign them up for, keep them away from, feed them, bathe them in, sing to them, DIY for them, protect them from, and so on…

I have been killing myself the past couple of days trying to keep my son occupied.  He is 5 years old, and not in school yet because he has a late birthday.  So I decided that we would do “projects” every day to learn.  Along with projects, we have meals and snacks and karate (or “ninja school”, he says), lego building and swimming and church activities.  Our routine up to this past week has been more relaxed.  I keep reading articles that make me feel pressured to deliver, so I am trying to step it up.  I don’t want to be the one mom at carpool whose son isn’t already counting in 3 languages and taking Chinese calligraphy lessons from a certified master.  My days have been PACKED.  So much so, that I barely got to eat yesterday, did not work out, and did not nap.  Yes I know naps are not a necessity but I could have really used a nap yesterday.

Today, I took a different approach.  We got up, ate (non gf, non organic, very tasty) breakfast, got dressed, and went to a playground.  The weather was gorgeous.  I sat on a shaded bench, reading a book while he ran around and sang songs to himself.  Do you know what happened??  Nothing.  He did not die.  He did not fall down a black whole of insecurity because I was ignoring him.  Seriously.  He was delighted.  I was at peace.  It was great.

In that moment I was reminded of my own childhood.  I was raised by grandparents, mostly, (mom worked a lot) and I remember thinking that they were the best ever.  Literally.  No kid was as lucky as me and my brother.  We had it all – a house to live in, food to eat, clothes, and on Fridays (grocery day) I got to eat a treat from the grocery store.  WOO HOO!  I was living the high life, and life was GOOD.

The funniest thing about all the best days will those ‘best’ people, is that at no point did they make me feel like I was the center of the universe.  The sun, I was assured, neither rose or set out of my bum.  I did not get brand-new clothes (lots of hand-me downs and hand-sewn dresses), I did not eat fast food, there was not much tv, no video games, no DIY projects to keep me occupied.  It was more like, “go outside until lunchtime.”  So we did.  We are better for it.

After the playground today, I made homemade french fries (method at bottom) and reheated some leftover pork chops and broccoli.  While we ate together, my son  talked about life (5 year olds have deep thoughts!) and then suddenly, out of nowhere, he looked up at me and said “Mommy, you are the BEST Mommy there ever was.”  And you know something?  He meant it.

As adults we don’t remember the outfits we wore (less the tragic, embarrassing ones) but we do remember words of affirmation.  We don’t appreciate eating twinkies as much as we appreciate those days in the sun laughing with people from our own tribe.  Lobster-print boat shoes?  Forget about it.  I had my step-mom’s old high-top Reeboks.  To me, they were beautiful because she was beautiful, and because she loved me.

My point is, competing with other moms is silliness, when we won’t know them in 20 years anyway.  Enriching our kids’ lives has nothing to do with what other moms are doing and EVERYTHING to do with how much of ourselves we pour into them in every moment.  Loving words.  Homemade meals.  Story time.  Making up silly songs.  Praying together (he always spontaneously hugs me).  These are the criteria for “best mom”, and how wonderful that it’s an honor we can all achieve.

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Homemade French Fries (super simple)

prep time: 5 mins cook time: 25 mins  total time: 30 mins

Select 2 medium red potatoes.  Rinse.  Cut into slices or squares.

Place potato pieces in a bowl, drizzle with sesame oil (a little at a time – it goes a long way!)

Add salt as desired (again, a little should do), mix with hands.

Spread out on aluminum foil on baking sheet

Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes (depending on how thick the pieces are) or until tender.

Serve plain or with ketchup.  Pat self on back. Receive hugs.