Saturday, April 18, 2015

P Is For Piano #AToZChallenge

One of the things I love to do is play the piano. I started playing when I was young and played off and on through college. Here is a piece called 'The Heart Seeks Pleasure First' by Michael Nyman. Hope you enjoy it!

O Is For Overwhelmed Moms #AToZChallenge

Today I am posting late because I have been overwhelmed with work, life, family, and menial housework. Thank goodness it's the weekend! But that brings into play something that has crossed my mind lately. How do moms do it? I mean, seriously? 

It's been awhile since I have had little ones hovering around me, waiting for me to get out of the shower, and playing with pots and pans in my kitchen. I miss it so much, but more and more, I find that I'm glad that I don't have to deal with little ones anymore. I'm not anticipating on being a grandma anytime soon, so I truly have some time off.

Today I went to the movies with my sister and her 3 boys to see the new movie 'Home' by Dreamworks. Very good, by the way! It has Rhianna and Jennifer Lopez in it! Before we got in the theatre we had some drama and some loud noise and some hitting others in the car. It kind of stressed me out, but my poor sister was mortified. She did well and kept her cool but wow, I wondered how she does it day in and day out. I'm sure it is her love of her kids that keeps her and most moms going!

I was also talking to my friend at work, who is both a full-time teacher and a mom of a toddler. When the baby was born, she took the allotted time off and came back when she was still breastfeeding her son. She would come to school and teach, and during lunch and some of her prep time, she would pump. She found it was so overwhelmingly difficult to do this, the hardest thing she's ever done. But she did it, knowing that if she could get through it, things would eventually calm down and she could always say that she did the best she could possibly do for her son, while working. I give her all the props in the world to have done this. One thing she did say is that she had to sacrifice some things. She wanted to be, first and foremost, a great mom. But she had to sacrifice being a great teacher. She had to be satisfied with being an OK teacher.  I think that is the key to surviving during overwhelming times. She is now back to being an excellent teacher, and a great mom!

We are only physically capable of doing so much. There are only so many hours in the day and only so many units of energy that we can put out. After that, we have to concede that the wall is looming and that we will hit it.

Something that you can do if you're feeling the pressures of motherhood is to realize that these difficult stages, such as the one my sister is going through and the double duty my friend had to go through, are only temporary. They might last only a few months or as long as a year or in extreme cases two, but usually these stages will pass. Take some time to laugh and find the humor in it. If you can hold on, you'll look back and wonder how in the heck you did it! And you will feel happiness and contentment that you persevered! You will be a super mom!

Whoever said that you should enjoy every minute of motherhood was probably not a mom to my kids! I didn't enjoy all of the aspects of being a mom. But I loved many parts of it and still do! Don't feel bad that some of the stages aren't enjoyable for you. Just live through it as gracefully and responsibly as you can. Know that it WILL get better. Some moms love the routine more than others, some moms have been given less temperamental children than others, some moms are more naturally given to being maternal than others. We shouldn't judge each other because each of our circumstances is different!

Be on the lookout for those special moments--that special hug, the words that come out of a child's mouth that can be so insightful, funny or just cute, the antics that enchant you and give you glimpses of a special ability or talent. These are what makes motherhood so special. Don't miss them because you are too bogged down by the routine.

So you're overwhelmed today. Don't be too hard on yourself and live through today, the next day and the next day, being kind to yourself and to your children. You may not be perfect at everything, but you're wonderful at loving your kids!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

N Is For Nap! #AToZChallenge

Naps - Needed rejuvenation, horizontal refreshment, brain energy restoration, physical regeneration, children resist them, parents insist on them!

I've been a napper ever since I can remember. My mother was a nap gestapo and as a child I remember sneaking out of my crib when my grandma was baby-sitting me. She might have let me get away with it, but not so with mommy dearest! I was firmly expected to take a nap.

Here is an expert napper!
Sometimes one might feel a little embarrassed to admit that he or she loves to take naps. I think western society, as a whole, is so non-stop and productivity oriented, that a nap is seen as an inefficient use of the day. It may even be regarded as indolent and self-indulgent. (See my post on L is For Lazy) My circadian rhythms demand that I nap. I, like most people I know, go to bed way too late. I usually get 6 hours at night. But sometime during the day, my brain gets a bit foggy, my energy level drops and unless I want to resemble a zombie in an episode of 'Walking Dead', I nap. I must say that I don't drink caffeine of any kind, which is why I have the kind of schedule I do. My natural rhythms kick in easily. Once in awhile I'll drink one of those natural energy shots, if I need to push through something without a nap, which is rare!

Taking a nap increases the alertness of your brain. In fact, I find dividing my day in half, based on my nap time, will make the second half of my day as alert and energetic as the first half!

Taking a nap increases memory retention and decreases burn-out! Instead of feeling like taking a nap is unproductive, know that it's the exact opposite.
Perfect napping corner!
It's a scarey list of consequences for those who deprive themselves of sleep. Cortisol, a stress hormone is released. Too much cortisol contributes to all kind of horrible conditions such as weight gain and specifically abdominal fat, glucose intolerance, weakened immune and muscle systems, it hampers memory and creativity, and limits production of growth hormone and testosterone in the body.
On the contrary, napping will give your body a chance to heal and your brain a chance to rest! 

So pardon me, if you see me slipping away to an unspecified resting place during the middle part of my day. I want to get as much out of my conscious, awake time as I possibly can. And as far as I can tell, one of the best things I can do is nap!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

M Is For Money #AToZChallenge

The coins spill out over the table, they clink loudly, glinting under the fluorescent lights in the classroom. The boy knows the drill. Separate the quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies into groups. Start with the largest, working down to the pennies. This time it's different though. I walk away. No help will be given today. He has been working practically all school year to be able to do this. 

Some days have been better than others. Shifting from dimes to nickels seems to be particularly hard. He just can't seem to get it. But each day we work on it, each day using the same coins, that together total about $6.50. Sometimes he says, "I'm sorry, I'm such an idiot." I tell him, "No you're not! Don't apologize.You're going to get this!" And we start again.
The boy is 18, and has been with us for 3 school years. I have come to be so fond of him. I want the best for him. Last year it seemed as if he was never going to have the money-counting skill. It was very frustrating for most of the people who worked with him. They just didn't have the patience or time to go over and over and over a skill or format, so that he would finally understand something. 

This year has been different. Maybe it's because he is maturing and has more patience at working on things. Maybe it's because I was determined that yes, we could work with money all year. We were given this time, and it would be used well. 
So the coins cascade out again and I walk away. When I come back, he has written an amount on some paper. I count the coins, wondering if it will be right this time. My eyes widen with delight. It's correct! Is this a fluke? Let's do it again. I put more coins on the table. This time the amount will be bigger. I leave again. 10 minutes later, he has written another total on the paper. Again, I am pleased to see the total is correct! "Good job! Let's do this again." So more coins are put on the table, and I mix up the coins that have already been organized. He willingly starts his task. Once again he is right! I am so ecstatic! 

If the boy learns how to count money, without help from anyone, he will have a skill set that he can use throughout his life. It will give him the self-confidence to help him know that he's not the idiot that he thought he was.

The 4th try didn't go so well. He was off by a dollar and some cents. But by that time the piles of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies had grown significantly. Today was a major milestone for money. We will have several more weeks before school is done to work on his skill. Then he will move on to another placement. Maybe a job training site, or a group work experience. But whatever he does, he will always be able to count money!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L Is For Lazy #AToZChallenge

We all have different energy levels based on heredity, diet and core belief systems. But deep down, you know ya'll lazy!

This post wasn't a stretch for me to think of. Why? Because I too am a Slaktavist! Yes, I admit, sometimes I am lazy. But lazy compared to what? My lazy could be someone else's Type A mode. My Type A Mode is someone else's snooze button.

Being lazy and admitting it can be a good thing. It can cause you to use creativity to make sure that your laziness is preserved.  Bill Gates said, "I choose a lazy person to do a hard job because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it!" 

One of the smartest men I have known and despised was an expert at laziness. He combined laziness with being cheap. He was a chiropractor, but he was too lazy and cheap to rent out an office. He operated out of his home so he wouldn't have to get up any earlier than necessary. He was fairly good-looking and knew how to schmooze. He charmed quite a few ladies by taking them out to a dinner that he paid half price for, because he always used coupons. If the date went well, he asked them to come to his home afterwards. When they came, he had them do him favors like do his books, his laundry, or his cleaning, etc. He had them bring him food, cook for him, and even had them use their cars to take him places. It was amazing. When the women found out they were being used to do things he simply didn't want to do, they would usually leave in disgust. That was OK with him, he had a few on the string, waiting in the wings. I had to sit back and admire it on one level. It really was efficient to use as little work as possible to get all your menial chores done, using as little money as possible. On another level, it was funny to see him work it, knowing his end goal, and on yet another level, it was pretty sick! I pity the poor woman who ended up with him. Or maybe he never made it that far! I thought I saw him the other day. He was alone.

Check out these 10 laws of Lazy!
Even Ronald Reagan had this to say: "It's true that hard work never killed anyone, but I figure, why take the chance?"

What say ye? Is laziness something that you aspire to? Or is it already an achievement?

Monday, April 13, 2015

K Is For Kale, Kiwi, Kiefer---Anything But Cuties!

Today was the first day back to work after a wonderful Spring Break. During that time I must have hiked about 20 miles with my dog, blogged about 30 more hours, watched catch-up TV for 10 hours, had a wonderful Easter Dinner and generally had a great time! (I'm a lover of simple things)

Today the life-after-break avalanche that was waiting to happen let loose. I got buried by it . I left home at 7 am and returned 11 hours later, after work having done errands with son J, including getting his driving permit, shopping, and battling commute traffic back home. Just the everyday grind. But I love doing mom things, so this wasn't a bad thing.
Except for one item---my food choices.  I didn't plan well. I went too light in the early part of the day because I was rushed and didn't bring enough nutritious food. I skipped the vending machines because I was trying to be good. But 3 o'clock rolled around and I was a little starved (OK, a lot starved). When we went into the grocery store, I wigged out. If I had been smart I would have stuck with some great foods like:
Smoothie Made With Kiefer
Maybe a Kale & Kidney Bean Salad
Perhaps a few Kiwi's 

I would have been in great form having any of these great choices. And if I had planned right, I could have.  But by the time I got to the store, I was pretty ravenous. The thing that caught my eye was this box in the freezer section.

Yeah, of all the things I could have picked, it was this. Notice that there are 8 per package. Each has 130 calories and 16 grams of sugar. Guess how many I ate? Just 7. That's all, just 7. Epic Fail for sure! Any of the K foods would have been so much better and better tasting too! But a person who is too hungry doesn't think reasonably. How silly of me! Cuties doesn't even start with K!

Lesson learned. It's one I've had to learn and re-learn many many times. When will it end? 

What is a crazy food choice you've made when you've been super hungry?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is For Jenner #AToZChallenge

I am sad to say that oftimes I am late to post. I get distracted by all of the offerings out there, including participating A To Z Challenge blogs like Brits In The USA, Shells Tales & Sails and Albom Adventures. Today I was thoroughly distracted by different snippets of video. One of those was a sneak peak of  an upcoming event. It seems that Bruce Jenner is going to do an in-depth interview with a major news organization on April 24th about this and that. But it's apparent that he's going to talk about his on-going sex change.

In 1976, he was "twirling the nation like a baton, so high up on a pedestal that it would take a crane to get him down," said Tony Kornheiser. He had just won the Olympic Gold Medal in the decathlon and done it in rousing fashion, breaking his own world record! He was mega-famous, even making it on the elusive Wheaties Box!
photo credit
But sadly, we may be saying good-bye to him forever. He's changing into a woman. I'm sure it will be a huge event, this interview. What will he say? What will he reveal? 

Of course, he will be changing his name at some point. So no longer will we have a Bruce Jenner, who is male. We will have a female. 

There are many people who are wondering what her name will be. I have a suggestion--what about Brunehilde!
It's really close to Bruce, the closest I have seen. And the story behind the name I imagine to be quite fitting! Legend has it that Brunehilde was a beautiful Amazon-like princess and vows to marry only a man of the most outstanding qualities and one that can surpass her in strength. One problem, she always had to wear a viking hat, pretty much mandatory if you have the name Brunehilde!

I can imagine Bruce Jenner's female self to be like this Brunehilde. She can't just end up with anyone. Naturally, she would only be happy with someone who has the same outstanding athletic qualities and the same noteriety and fame. But maybe that is the tragedy. Maybe there is no one that can ever make this legend truly happy...and so this is why the search is continuing, just in different form.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Insightful and Inciteful #AToZChallenge

Insightful - To show deep understanding and thoughtfulness of something
Inciteful - To instigate or rouse anger, provoke action.

When I think of the word insightful, I think of the great early heads of state and national government - men like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Thomas Paine, Ben Franklin. I think of them laboring for days, trying to craft a document that would stand through the ages. The Constitution has done just that, with our nation coming up on 240 years of independence under that document! They were not thinking of their own immediate futures, but of the distant future of a nation. 
Photo credit - Wikipedia
When I think of the word inciteful I think of the Ferguson protestors. They were angry because of a verdict that was handed down by a Court of Law. They burned buildings, they robbed stores, talked hatred, and eventually shot an officer. In the end, it only exacerbated an already tense situation. A lot of people actually changed their opinions of the verdict because of the crazy and irresponsible behavior of the protesters.
Being insightful is a rare and great character trait. Too many people only think of the here and now, not looking into the future and the outcome of actions done today.

Being inciteful is usually done out of frustration and anger. Those who are inciteful are usually very impulsive.  Sometimes the consequences can be disastrous. It is rare when a good outcome is realized. 

What are some examples of insightful and inciteful that you can think of?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Having Fun! Disc Golf #AToZChallenge

Today was the first time I've been out disc golfing this year. It was a gorgeous day! Our usual course is 'Creekside' Park in Holladay, UT. When we travel, we like to golf wherever we go. I can tell you right now that I could never be a pro. I do it because my husband loves it, and it's fun to get out and do something besides "work out." Just enjoying the outdoors and seeing the sights is enough for me. Basically you take a disc similar to a frisbee and throw it in order to land it in a basket. It is scored like golf--with terms like ace, birdee, and par. Below is a shot of a teepad, where you launch your initial drive.

If you are at an official course, there are teepad signs that give you the distance you are throwing, the location of the basket or hole and other pertinent info!
 The baskets are usually waist height, but occasionally you'll run across a taller basket, just to give it some variety! Or maybe I'm just really decide!

Sometimes there are mandatory routes, "mandys", that your disc needs to go through. It makes it a little interesting at times! And there are always those darned trees obstructing the way! But ask any veteran of the game and they'll say they'd rather have a more technical course with obstacles to deal with rather than a wide open field to play.

Many times you have gorgeous views and vistas to, from and on the teepads. Oops, my bad, I happened to get in the way of this view!
 By the time we walked the course and had done the 20 holes, we had walked about 2.5 miles. Pretty good little outing, if I do say so myself! Once in awhile, though, it's nice to have a seat and take a breather!
 Thanks for coming along with us as we played some great disc golf on an absolutely beautiful day!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Are You A Guinnesian Or Do You Know One? #AToZChallenge

If you have the distinct honor of being a Guinnesian, you are indeed in a very select group. You are a Guinness World Record Holder and have been listed in one of their annual almanacs! You'll have to agree that they are an odd lot, many of them having very bizarre talents and abilities!

Using conventional things in unconventional ways:
Building Strange Contraptions:
Serving Record Time In  Curious Occupations:
Eating And Drinking Crazy Things:
Amassing Curious Collections:
 One doesn't need to be human to qualify:
Just Extremely Talented:
Do you think you have what it takes to be a Guinnesian? Here is a list of criteria used to qualify potential candidates!!

1. Measurable - Is it the fastest / longest / heaviest / most?
2. Breakable - Can the record be broken or repeated by someone else?  All our record titles must be open to being challenged.
3. Standardizable -  Can the record title be done universally? For example, it cannot be related to something restricted to a region. 
4. Verifiable - Can the claim be proven? For example, a claim such as ‘the man who never drank water’, can never be verified unless the man spent his whole life from birth under surveillance by a witness.
5. One Variable – We can verify the Largest painting but would not consider the largest painting by the most people.
6. Absolute records not categories - For example, Fastest 100metre sprint but not the fastest 100 metre sprint by a Fireman
7. Universal - The proposal must be something, or about something that is known to the world’s majority. It cannot be too specific / regional.

Thanks to the Guiness Book Of Records Site for the photos. Click on the photo for the link!