Thursday, December 30, 2010

Secret Life of Bees & A Reliable Wife

Written in the poetic and enchanting style of Sue Monk Kidd, this book puts a spell on you... takes you to another time... another world. The story of a young girl searching for a mother, a home, and love, finds it in the midst of May, June, and August, covered in honey...

I enjoyed the journey this book took me on. I fell in love with all the characters, each one so clearly etched into the readers mind. I felt their bonds to each other, their struggles with social justice and freedom, the wounds of their hearts, and their strength through it all. It speaks to the heart, whose desire is acceptance, answers, and love.

After reading The Secrete Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair by Kidd, I wonder about the author. There are quite a few similarities between the books... two females who leave the home they know, in search of answers, both have mother issues, and desire to discover themselves, both succeeding in the end.

I read this right after The Secret Life of Bees, and it took a bit to adjust to completely different writing styles of the authors. Kidd has a very fluid and languid poetic style, while Goolrick though still figurative, was more abrupt and segmented in is writing.

Set at the turn of the century in a Wisconsin winter, wealthy widower Mr. Truit, mourns the life he had, regrets the mistakes he's made, and tires of being lonely. Placing an ad for a wife he accepts the inquiry of Catherine who has motives all her own.

With three very strong characters wrestling with goodness and evil, selfishness and selflessness, plot twists and passion, I was not left disappointed.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

First Wrestling Tournament

Last weekend Maddox had his first wrestling tournament. I really had no idea what to expect from him. He is so competitive and plays so rough with his dad, but seems a bit timid during practices. Brian kept assuring me that as soon as he got to wrestle kids his age/size, he would get the hang of it.

As we headed to PHS, Maddox was a nervous ball of energy. He was restless and tense, complete with a nervous laugh... it was a good thing he was contained in a car seat or he would have been bouncing off the roof of the car. He stayed pretty nervous even after we arrived, but dad finally got him to loosen up by wrestling around with him on the mats for warm up.

Watching his first match was probably one of my favorite mother-son moments so far. He smile the whole time and listened to his dad and coach so well. A stranger even commented "He sure knows his mom is watching him!" It didn't take long for Maddox to put to use the moves he had been learning the past few weeks at practice. He scored quite a few points, and in the end pinned his opponent. Not too bad for his first match!

And just as dad had predicted, he was hooked!

He lost his second match to his team mate and friend Cole, then won his third match against the first guy he pinned, and ended up with 2nd place.

On the way home we asked him if he wanted to wrestle in one more tournament this year, and he said "No.... I want to wrestle in ALL of them." He talked non-stop for at least the next week about the tournament and his first pin.

Learned: This is the official beginning to my new job...being my son's biggest fan.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Winter Sun 10K 2010

Saturday a group of girlfriends and I headed to Moab to run the Winter Sun 10K.
Lisa, me, Jan, and Anne (missing Ari and my mom who couldn't come, and Christie who came but wasn't there for our picture)

Our sole purpose for running this race was to get the guaranteed entry to the Canyonland Half Marathon in March. If your are the first 100 to register you get a secret code to use in the "bat cave" secret registration website. Ari was hurt and didn't want to show up and, being so competitive, end up running anyway; so we picked up her swag and assumed that we would get her secret code....but they took it away saying if you don't run it you don't get it...that caused us all to wait around for the entire prize give aways in hopes of winning a guaranteed entry for her... but we are all unlucky in the door prize department...

Despite our downtrodden luck, we did not walk away empty handed.... Jan won 3rd place in her age group with a time of 43:50, and her friend Jodie, also won 3rd place in her age division. I of course cheered overly obnoxiously (as promised if she won) and embarrassed Jan pretty good...

This run is billed as an ALL downhill course... and that is mostly true except for one pretty long and pretty steep up hill section. I run serpents all summer long and compared to that this hill was just a speed bump, so I know my struggle was not for lack of physical ability. I mean when you are in down hill mode for 2 plus miles then are hit with this monster it does something to you mentally. I really thought I was going to puke and it was only mile 2... but thankfully I recovered quickly and was able to pick up my pace again. It really felt like the miles were flying by and before I knew it I was running into the high school stadium and around the track to the finish. I ran my personal best 10K time ever,
6.2 miles in 52:55!

That's an average of... 8:30's with my best pace being 5:50 (I am sure that pace was held for all of 2 seconds).

So I couldn't be happier with the results.

Through all of the preparation (or lack of) for this run, I had an epiphany... a 10K is not enough motivation to keep me running regularly. I ran sporadically for the weeks prior, and no longer than 4 miles. And I had no anxiety or doubt about my ability to finish the 10K. I remember several years ago when I was training for the BOULDERboulder (10K) and ran 5 times a week, all in an effort to build up to 6 miles. That was the longest distance I could imagine myself running.

This is now my motivational distance...(Thanks Anne for the motivational magnet)

I think that says a lot about my progress as a runner.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Cheapest Computer

During my jam and butter project Maddox entertained himself quite well. This was by far the most creative of the day.

Learned: Maddox has toys in excess, but he chooses pizza boxes, shell casings, spare parts, and vacuum hoses to play with instead. So I have started collecting random interesting pieces to give him for Christmas.

The Mermaid Chair & Sammy's Hill

I started Sammy's Hill on my trip to Atlanta. It was pretty funny, I even laughed out loud several times. Sammy is an aide to a politician in DC, who is unlucky in love, a hypochondriac, completely neurotic, an always finds herself in the most unimaginable predicaments. From a racy email being sent to all the wrong people, dealing with a completely high witness who is supposed to appear before the entire congress. Many laughing moments carry you through the political parade as candidates jockey for positions during elections.

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday break I found many morning greeting me with a cup of coffee, my cozy antique chair, and this book. This book was an amazing poetic journey of a woman coming home. ... to take care of her mother, to find herself, to find truths, to find love.

"I felt amazed at the choosing one had to do, over and over, a million times daily -- choosing love, choosing it again, how loving and being in love could be so different." was my favorite quote from the book. It reminded me of how true, and how important, it is in my own marriage. Too many marriages end because those involved don't realize how important their daily choice to love is, to choose love even when you don't feel love.

Learned: Like the ebb and flow of the sea, so is the need to read stirring in my soul.

Apple Butter & Plum Orange Jam

On my final day of this FIVE day Thanksgiving weekend, I opted to spend the day in the kitchen. I had no idea how long it would actually take me to convert 24 apples and 3 pounds of plums into 15 half-pints of spread.

I actually thought the apple butter would take the least amount of time, but it took FOR EVER! Part of the problem was I didn't follow the recipe.... I didn't think there was enough cider to simmer the massive amounts of apples I had sliced up, in the end this required 2 hours of simmering to boil off all the liquid.

This summer I was given a huge box of red plums, not knowing what to do I decided to just freeze them until I figured something out. I found a recipe for Plum Orange Jam, which sounded different and delicious... and contained a hint of orange liquor. (I snitched a lick and it is delish - the jam not the liquor). This was by far the messiest project of the day, as the thawing plums released all their juices up to my elbows. It also took a lot longer because I got carried away prepping the plums and watching the Green Bay/Atlanta game, and realized that I had 9 cups of plums prepped and only needed 5 cups... so the surplus of plums is stored in the fridge ready for another batch tomorrow.

Learned: There is something about that "pop" the jars make after their water bath that is so rewarding. The moments after they are removed fill me with anticipation, until I finally hear confirmation of a job well done.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

And the Sports Just Keep on Comming....(but I am not complaining)

Madison's soccer season came to a close at the end of October. Typically this means that we have a bit more free time, BUT a few weeks before soccer ended she started basketball AND Maddox also started wrestling. So we continue to fill our evenings with various sports practices, and our weekends with games. Thankfully the farthest we have to travel for basketball is Fruita.

It is so fun to watch Madison play sports, we see a completely different side of her. Off the field/court, she is so kind and calm; but on the court we see such a competitive spirit, complete with scary faces...hopefully I can capture the contrast on film.

Maddox is having a great time with wrestling. Even after an hour of wrestling practice and even more running around he comes home wound up. He is picking it up pretty quickly too. Most of the kids wrestling have been wrestling for at least a year, and they always pair him with kids his size, which means he is practicing against kids that are 6 or 7 years old thus having 3-4 years of experience. It took me a while to realize this and get over my worries that he was completely uncoordinated, compared to the kids his age he is doing great! I am so proud of how he goes out there eager to learn, works hard, then comes home and practices on me. He has had multiple successful take downs on me!

Learned: It brings me so much joy to see my children try new things and work hard. Even though it takes a lot of time and planning on the parent's end, and sometimes the laundry doesn't get done, it is worth it because I know how athletics instills such important life lessons... perseverance, commitment, hard work... just to name a few.

The Flapper and The Magician

Halloween was more than a fall celebration thsi year, it marked our last soccer game of the fall season. This also meant we were traveling home on All Hallows Eve, and the kids were worried that they would miss out on trick or treating... but it all worked out and we made it with plenty of time for the candy hustling. Per usual, I stayed home and watched football (to avoid the cold) while Brian took the kids out.

For Halloween Madison and her BFF Emma wanted to be 1920 Flapper girls. After trying to find a costume that wasn't cheesy, I opted to just make it. I think it turned out great! The hardest part was how grown up she looked all decked out. The whole family seemed to have issues with this. It is just so hard to believe that she is so grown up. Maddox was a magician this year, he looked adorable! (Wonder how much longer I can use that word to describe him with out him objecting?)

We carved pumpkins at Brian's parents with his sister and niece. This kids always have a great time carving with grandma and grand pa. It helps that there are always cookies and cider to make the event more festive.

Learned: Making Halloween costume turned out to be much easier than I expected, and it turned out much better than a store bought one.

Atlanta: My Week in the South

My teammate and I got accepted to present at the NAGC (National Association of Gifted Children) in Atlanta. See, here we are listed in the convention catalog We presented on the benefits of proficiency based grading for Gifted Students and our implementation process. This resulted in a week long trip to Atlanta, many more weeks preparing for the presentation as well as preparing substitute teacher plans for my classes while I was gone.

The actual time spent in Atlanta was a great experience! I went to a lot of great sessions and have so many ideas bouncing around my brain. But to be completely honest the trip was not all work and no play. I had a great time going to great restaurants, and enjoying local attractions.

Heather and I did an action lab that the conference offered that took us on a tour of the history of the civil rights movement. We went to the very first college for blacks, as well as toured Auburn Av., MLK Jr.'s childhood home, and Ebeneezer Baptist Church.

We also went to the High Art Museum to see the Salvador Dali exhibit. I had not previously know much about Dali except for his over-the-top personality and melting clocks. {}
But after seeing his artwork, I was truly impressed at his intelligence. He was a man that was very interested in the newest theories, scientific and technological advances at the time. His art work represented the discovery of atoms and particulate matter, that matter is not solid and connected, but rather disconnected. He also dabbled in painting work that was 3-D, Geometric and Fractal inspired, and even pop art influenced him. Though he claims that he left the "surrealist" style moving to classical art, it was evident that he just used the classical art style as a way to further his surrealism. There were so many amazing pieces of art work, and a huge majority of them were not just aesthetic but quite thought provoking.

A fellow GT teacher and I became pretty good friends during the trip, as she and I enjoyed getting out taking advantage of being in the big city. So her and I ended up at a lot of great restaurants and crazy activities... Including a haunted tour of Atlanta. If you know me it the biggest chicken, but it ended up being a lot of fun. For the most part it seemed pretty hokey, there was only one time
(ok maybe a few more than that) that I got a bit scared. Our guide gave us meters to use to detect the presence of supernatural beings. It ended up being pretty interesting hearing about a lot of different pieces of the history of Atlanta. And the best parts is I didn't even have trouble sleeping that night.

While I was in Atlanta there was a plethora of sporting events to attend. The Falcons played the Ravens, there were two hockey games, one basketball game, and the Georgia Tec. Florida Sate game. My new friend and I debated about going the the NFL game or the hockey game, the deciding factor was the hockey tickets were 15 bucks compared to the $120 football tickets. It was a lot of fun, I had never been to a hockey game before, and knew nothing about it. We were fortunate to have gotten seats next to a guy who plays in a "beer league", and clued us in.

Atlanta was a beautiful place to be... here are some random images...

Learned: Though it was a great trip I was so happy to be home and with my family, in our QUIET little town...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Date Night...Night Hike

When I think of the most romantic times I spend with Brian rarely are they the ones depicted on TV or Movies. The whole "Flowers, rose petals, by candle light" thing is just not my cup of tea...nor Brian's (thankfully). My favorite romantic memories are set with backdrops of ski slopes, mountains, lakes, hiking trails, and cabins in the woods. We love being outside, but more importantly we love being outside together.

Last weekend we had a last minute date night, and as we sat looking through the movies that were showing and discussing where we wanted to eat, it felt way to boring. I mean anytime we have a date night we go to dinner and a movie (don't get me wrong I enjoy those times too...), but with no movie out that we both really wanted to see, it just seemed so mundane.

With this unseasonably warm October weather we have been having, I thought it would be fun to go on a night hike. So we packed a bag with jackets, head lamps, my favorite wine, and some cheese and crackers and headed out to Independence Monument. The sun set really quickly and we found a perch on the sandstone to enjoy our treats and visit. It was such a great time just enjoying the outdoors together.

The only thing that would have made it better would have been no clouds in the sky, and not seeing the mountain lion email Brian had sent me earlier in the week. It creeped me out enough to cut the evening short and head home... no sense risking a Mt.Lion attack!
As we rounded the corner and got our first glimpse of Independence Monument there was barely enough light to take a picture.

I just liked the wine droplets in this picture.

We were laughing so hard for this picture because we had just taken one of us and the flash blinded and shocked us so much that we looked hilarious in it.

Notice the wine in the classes, we thought we had a pretty flat surface, but it wasn't... Amazingly we only had one spill, and there was plenty of wine for a refill.

Learned: There is a reason we are married to the people we are, it is nice to get back to what brought you together in the first place.