Monday, March 31, 2014

This Is What A Real CrossFitter Looks Like

So, I've been thinking a lot about body image and body acceptance for a while now. It is a tricky thing, figuring out how to get rid of conflicting and sometimes crazy notions of what I "should" look like and come to terms with both reality and how my brain works.

You'd think, after three and a half years of CrossFit, after five or so years of really eating well, after losing about seventy pounds, I'd look like those ab-muscled, sleek women in those fitspo images.

Instead, I look like this:



And I am beginning to finally be okay with it.

I have begun to accept that after years of obesity, producing three kids, and now heading toward menopause (hopefully not for a while yet, but I'm 43 so it's on the horizon), and also just not having a terribly genetic propensity toward leanness in the first place (definitely an endomorph type), abs just maybe aren't in the cards. Actually, I have lots of abs, but they (and many other muscles) are "camouflaged." :)

But still, I worry. I worry what people think when they hear I've been CrossFitting for so long, because I don't fit the image. I worry they think I am exaggerating or even flat-out lying when I say that I usually eat really cleanly and am extremely active. I worry nobody will ever want me to coach them because I carry too much body fat. (Too much by whose standards?)

I get irritated at the advice to "just" eat paleo or more carbs or fewer carbs or protein or avoid this or take that supplement. Eat dairy; avoid dairy. Red wine's fine; avoid all the alcohol. Eat nuts; OMG don't even. Honey, I've tried it all, and still haven't figured out my ideal combination yet. That's okay. I'll keep trying. And yes, I've got hypothyroidism and a busy life and an allergy to grocery shopping regularly, so those factors don't help either. Those aren't excuses--they are facts about my life right now, things I need to work around. (Context: just like assholes, everyone's got one.)

I get truly pissed off when I hear people disparage "fatties" for going to the gym or having the nerve to run in a 5K race (overheard a guy complaining about all the fatties once during a race, and for all I know, he was talking about me). You can't tell what a person can do just by looking at them. Trust me. I've been overtaken in 5K races by enough pregnant women and other folks who are probably twenty years older than me. You can't tell just by looking.

I hate that I really considered not undertaking my new obsession, kettlebell sport (which is so awesome OMG, and you're going to be hearing a lot about this new sport in the coming years as it becomes more popular, which it surely will, in part because I am writing about it here on my world famous blog).... Anyway, I almost didn't even try it because it is a weight-classed sport. It took some nerve to do my first competition, I tell you, but it all worked out fine in the end. Didn't even faze me in my second competition.

But enough of what I hate and worry about. Here is what I do and here is what I am.


  • I recently pulled a 265 pound deadlift. Not too shabby.
  • I can do pull ups, and toes-to-bar, and handstands, and all kinds of badass moves.
  • I achieved Rank 1 in Kettlebell Sport Long Cycle. I can snatch a 20kg kettlebell and jerk a 24kg bell. (Heh. I said snatch. And jerk. And yes, I'm still 12 in my head and no, I still haven't stopped laughing at those terms, despite all this time in CF).
  • I finished my third CrossFit Open and did not suck at all the things. I can do 84 thrusters and 84 bar-facing burpees and not die.
  • I also do not suck at yoga, being pretty strong and naturally flexible. Speaking of awesome yoga people, this is a great post I recently discovered, and is the inspiration for the title of this post. I second all the things she says. 
  • I generally feel awesome, and last time I had all the basic bloodwork done, the results were in the "pretty much fucking awesome" category. My resting heart rate is usually around 55-60 beats per minute (which that dude complaining about all the fatties in the race would surely never believe).
  • I can teach people how to move well and make it fun and interesting and motivate them to keep going. I have people, mostly women, ask me for ideas regularly about moving well and getting back on the exercise horse (so to speak, I don't know nothing 'bout horses). I think I am sought out because they know I know about the struggle to keep doing it, to stay motivated, to keep trying your hardest even though there will not be size zero dresses in the future. How we all know size zero dresses aren't and shouldn't be the goal, but that it's hard to get that idea out of one's head. How it takes effort to renew your courage and keep walking into the gym when you still are not lean after all this time, even though you know that the only person really even worried about that part is you, that nobody else at the gym cares about that even a little. And how challenging it is, this ever-lasting puzzle, worse than that 2048 game, to figure out how to keep your focus where it needs to be (health and fitness and mobility and strength) and not body fat percentage, and yet try to find a place where it is okay to want to improve one's appearance. 

So those are some things I've been wanting to say for a while. And for the record, here is what a real CrossFitter looks like:






I'm the one in the middle, in case that's not immediately obvious. My awesome teammate is to my right, and my awesome daughter is on my left.


Also: KETTLEBELL SPORT. You heard it here first, people (well, many of you). ALL the cool kids will be doing this soon. It's sweeping the nation. So look out!



Edited to add: Note on the title of the post: Just to get it out of the way...I'm not saying that those folks with all the abs don't look awesome, because of course they do! This post is just to show what A (one, singular) real-life person who does CF and eats cleanly looks like. A data point, an example among many others, understanding that there is a certain amount of variance within the population. So...not intended to be THE one and only example, etc. etc. etc. I'm not into fat-shaming OR fit-shaming.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year in Review

And here we are once again! Time for another Year in Review. The trick this year is that I haven't been blogging regularly and therefore can't easily go and reread old posts to jog my memory (Facebook is kind of a pain to search). Let's see how I do, shall we?


2013: The Year of Being a Peopleguy


January

  • You may or may not recall that our cat, Rhombus, chose New Year's Eve 2012 to pass away after a nice long life. It was sweet (she came and said goodbye to each of us before going downstairs to her favorite box for the last time), and also put something of a damper on our January as you might imagine. Also, FYI, if a pet dies the night before a major holiday, the vet and other "afterlife care" peopleguys will not be open for a couple of days. Which makes things awkward at the house. Just sayin'.
  • We had the puppy spayed in the first week of January, because there wasn't already enough pet-related trauma and drama going on. She had some complications and it took her a full two weeks to completely recover (she's fine now).
  • Also, we officially launched our CrossFit Kids program this month. I have had a great time coaching these kids all year and I've learned TONS about coaching (both kids and adults). 
  • Speaking of CrossFit (as an aside, there is no secret handshake in CF, but they do tell you to begin every other sentence with "Speaking of CrossFit...." in case whoever you're talking to has forgotten you like to do CrossFit---kidding!), I participated in a team competition on January 19th. Really, it was so much fun, and I am still impressed with how my teammate and I did on WOD 2 (remember that one, T?)
  • The kids went back to GA-EPH, our wonderful homeschool enrichment program (that I often refer to as a co-op, even though it is not strictly a co-op in some respects). 
  • I ran in the Hot Chocolate 5K in downtown Atlanta. They aren't kidding–it IS the sweetest race!



February


  • The major event this month was that I became an aunt! My niece, Anna Jean, was born and I flew up to Indiana to love on her some and teach my brother how to do a proper swaddle. She is super cute and my kids ADORE her. I am determined to out-aunt my sister, but admittedly I'm the underdog as she has auntie experience already because she is Super Auntie Extraordinaire for my own kids. Still it's fun to try and I'm sure Anna won't mind. And I'm SURE my sister-in-law and brother won't mind all of the spoiling this kid will get as the object of TWO motivated aunties! :)
  • ATLOSCon 2013 planning was well underway, and I remember having a couple of planning meetings to choose the classes.
  • I read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, and I'm still thinking it over nearly a year later.
  • Wow, I'm wracking my brains to remember what else happened last February, but I'm pretty sure that apart from Anna's arrival and my short trip up there to see her, we had a pretty regular normal month. 



March


  • Speaking of CrossFit, once again, I competed in the CrossFit Open. I mostly did okay, though I am apparently still pretty irritated about failing so many 75# snatches in the first event because I find myself just sitting here stewing about it. In my defense, I had done 70 burpees and 30 45# snatches by that point. But STILL. Hmph.
  • I did make modified Kid WODs out of the Open WODs and that was SUPER fun and I plan to do it again in 2014.
  • We received an offer on the cabin this month, our first since listing it for sale in August 2012. I didn't expect much to come from it, but everything actually worked out in the end. And really, WAY faster than I thought.
  • We celebrated one year of living at Wildhaven on the 17th. As of this writing, we are still not completely unpacked.
  • I submitted a couple of proposals to GA-EPH to teach some classes during the 2013-2014 year. To my shock, they were accepted and so I participated in an Open House.
  • Somewhere in this time frame, we finished up watching whatever show we were watching together on Netflix (this is our family evening activity, hanging out on the big couch together and watching something). So we decided to go ahead and watch this Doctor Who show all of our friends have been talking about for a while. We started with the 2005 reboot of the series, and the rest, as they say, is history.
  • Miss Morgan turned EIGHT on the 30th. How is that even possible, I ask you? 




April

  • I spent much of this month printing, signing, and faxing paperwork to several real estate peopleguys over the sale of the cabin. We were happy to team up again with the awesome realtor who helped us buy Wildhaven (an experience that scarred us all) and extra happy that the cabin sale was pretty smooth.
  • We took a final trip to the cabin, including the puppy, to say goodbye. Our dearest friends came up for a night, too, and really, it was a lovely weekend.
  • Morgan performed extemporaneous gymnastics in the GA-EPH Talent Show, and it was awesome.
  • Ryan turned 11 on the 18th and I still haven't gotten over it yet. ELEVEN, I tell you.
  • We all fell in love with the 10th Doctor (though it was so sad to say goodbye to the 9th), and Ryan took a picture of David Tennant to a hairdresser in order to get his hair cut just like the 10th Doctor. By this point, we were all a little obsessed. 
  • After having watched my friend Lisa do all this crazy stuff with kettlebells for about a year, I was thrilled when she and one of the coaches offered a kettlebell clinic early in the month. 
  • Speaking of CrossFit, I also took the CrossFit Kettlebell Certification class at the end of the month, and the rest, as they say, is history.




May

  • The cabin sold on the 7th, and thankfully, all went smoothly until the end (the Wildhaven purchase has forever made me doubt such things until all of the papers are signed and money has changed hands). And then we paid off some debt and had some savings. Who knew such things were possible? :)
  • We paid our first visit to the GA Renaissance Festival. OMG SO MUCH FUN.
  • My mother-in-law came to visit in the middle of the month for Brendan's birthday and also to see Morgan's gymnastics meet. And we all went to Medieval Times, which we haven't been to since Ryan's 6th birthday (when I was pregnant with Sean). We were all still coming off our trip to the Ren Fest, and Sean in particular was highly impressed.
  • Coming home from Medieval Times, I realized something was very wrong with the insides of my head and thus, my MIL got to spend her last day of her visit babysitting for me while I went off to the doctor to get medicine for my sinus infection.
  • This sinus infection was pretty ill-timed, as ATLOSCon 2013 was beginning in about five minutes. Luckily, everyone, including my houseguests, was pretty understanding about my "it is what it is" kind of attitude toward the house and other things I was in charge of arranging. Somehow we all survived.
  • And not just survived, we thrived! ATLOSCon 2013 was enormously enjoyable. This year we had karaoke, courtesy of Amy and Robert, fantastic talks (courtesy of everyone I went to go see talk), an AMAZING bourbon tasting (courtesy of Guy and Alisa), wonderful babysitters at Wildhaven (thank you, Alizah, Sam, and Annika), terrific houseguests (Robert, Amy, Arthur, Chris, Athena), speaking of CrossFit, we had a super awesome fantastic team WOD at CF Kennesaw again this year, a wonderful script reading of Atlas Shrugged (courtesy of Chris), and, of course, stilts (courtesy of Brendan). Really, you should come to the next one. Because we are awesome. 




June

  • Once June began, our usual kid activities paused. So of course we took up another one. Morgan and Ryan joined the local Kilometer Kids program, which is sponsored by a local track club. Kids train twice a week and then run a 5K at the end of the session. I volunteered as a coach, because apparently I think I can now coach all the things. I actually did pretty well, once having to manage 16 kids on my own due to a shortage of coaches. Not only did I keep track of them all, we all managed to have fun that night.
  • By now I had parlayed my casual interest in kettlebells into a commitment to do a local competition in August. Still not quite sure what I was getting into, but I began training with a coach and prepping for the comp.
  • We went to the Ren Fest one more time, because it was just SO MUCH FUN the first time. This time, Sean got a bow and arrow with his own money.
  • Sean turned FIVE, a WHOLE HAND, on the 20th. How unbelievably rude. 
  • Sean got a ton of Doctor Who toys, particularly Bad Guys (his favorites are Daleks and the Weeping Angels), and had already decided to be a Dalek for Halloween.
  • And then Penny made it to one year on the 25th. Halfway to full grown maturity, wheeeee!




July

  • On the last day of June, we headed up to the Midwest for a 2 week vacation. We have never had a 2 week vacation ever and while it was lots of fun, I'm not sure we are up for another 2 week vacation ever again. Because 2 weeks is a REALLY long time to be living out of hotels and in other people's homes and out of the minivan and to have someone keep your dog.
  • The first leg took us up to Lafayette to see my niece and also her parents (heh). My brother let my kids shoot off fireworks in his driveway, to the delight of ALL his neighbors, I'm sure. One day we took the kids over to Purdue and let them run around like crazy people. I've been making visits to Purdue since I myself was an actual baby, and I kind of like that we have continued that tradition. Of course, having my sister-in-law and brother just right there makes it easier, but I think we'd do it anyway, as Purdue is pretty much on the route to Chicago.
  • Then we went back down to Indianapolis, another old homestead, and visited with everyone on my mom's side of the family. We hadn't done that in about nine years, just gotten together for the heck of it, without a side reason such as a wedding or funeral. We had a blast, and the people at the hotel were SUPER understanding (not to mention appreciative of all the custom). We took the kids to see the Indianapolis Children's Museum, which is still my all-time favorite. Morgan rode the antique carousel that I myself have been on many-a-time.
  • On the 4th of July we headed to the greater Chicagoland area to see some of Brendan's people as well as attend a little bit of OCON. I spent 4th of July evening drinking wine with Brendan's sister, having caught the fireworks show a few days earlier at my brother's house. 
  • The next day, we went into the city, which we don't do that often I guess, because the kids were all like, "They have a city here?" We kept them with us one night at the hotel and took them to the top of the Hancock building and Water Tower Place and the little beach that's right there on the lake and walked around the city at night. They adored it. So of course we only let them do that for a day and then sent them right back to Brendan's mom, who took them on adventures for a couple of days until Brendan and I were done at OCON.
  • We met SO many people at OCON, I really can't do it justice now. Standouts include Hannah, Mike, Audra, and David, whom I've known via FB for a while. Oh yes, and I met Jeremy in person, too! I've known him via the internets for a long while. And of course, there was fun with old friends, too, and I went running along the lake with Arthur a couple of times. 
  • Then we headed back to suburbia for a few days. I was invited to teach a Positive Discipline workshop for teachers at Nurturing Wisdom Academy, so I did that and it was fun. 
  • On our way home, we stopped in southern Indiana to see my sister again, her ex (it's all very friendly, yay), and meet her new beau. Then we came home and vowed never to travel again.
  • Speaking of CrossFit, about five minutes after I got home, I went to a snatch clinic at the gym and finally PRd my snatch. So now I'll be stuck at 95# for another year, I expect.
  • And I was training kettlebells during this whole time, at my brother's house, and mother-in-law's house. I have no clue what their neighbors must have thought about that sight.
  • I ran in a 10K race at the end of July. Yeah, you read that right–10 whole actual K.
  • The rest of July was a blur of kettlebells, coaching CF Kids, and unpacking. Still, no complaints. A definite improvement from July 2012!




August

  • The very first weekend of August, Morgan, Ryan, and I ran a 5K race with Kilometer Kids. It was Ryan's first race, and Morgan's second, although it was the first one she actually ran (she ran most of it). SO fun. They adored Kilometer Kids, and so did I, but we had to drop it for the fall semester due to other time commitments. We are hoping to pick it back up in the spring or next summer.
  • The second weekend found us in Tybee Island, for a long-promised long-anticipated beach vacation. It was only a long weekend and we brought our pup, to see how she would do on a longish road trip (about 4.5 hours one way) as a trial for the holidays. She did great. We liked Tybee pretty well--we rented a little house near the beach, ate tons of yummy seafood, swam and played at the beach (without the dog however), toured Fort Pulaski (VERY COOL), watched some firefighters put out a hotel blaze, wandered around Savannah's River Street (Brendan and I used to vacation in Savannah before we had kids), took advantage of the fact that our rental house had cable and watched some of Shark Week. We are going to try to get to a beach every year if we can, and that's about when I decided to make Exploring Georgia a fun travel goal. We've lived here for so long, but there is much we haven't seen--the Okeefenokee, Callaway Gardens, the coastal islands, etc. I'm hoping to try Jekyll Island next year for our beach trip.
  • My kettlebell competition was mid-month, and it was so awesome. I competed in Long Cycle (clean and jerk), and got 121 reps with the 12kg bell (which is the "beginner" weight), and won a trophy and a medal. I was so impressed with what the other athletes were lifting and I knew that, while I definitely wanted a break from bells, I would be back at it again soon.
  • August brought the start of a new "school" year for us homeschoolers, and I was now teaching FIVE classes. Speaking of CrossFit, three of the classes are CrossFit: two for kids and one for moms. I also taught Introduction to Economic Concepts to middle and early high schoolers using Peter Schiff's book How an Economy Grows and Why it Crashes as the basis for discussions. The fifth class was inspired by Sugata Mitra's prize-winning TED Talk "Build a School in the Cloud" and is called Exploring the Cloud through SOLE (Self-Organized Learning Environments), which has basically turned out to be an internet research/mystery-solving/critical thinking/team building type of class for 8-12 year olds. I have enjoyed the challenges of each class immensely, and learned a lot about teaching, my students, and myself. I'll be teaching all of these class plus one more beginning in January 2014.
  • And because I wasn't busy enough, I planned out my very first online Introduction to Positive Discipline 7 week parenting class. I am determined to finish my full certification in the next year or two, and I'm slowly getting there.
  • Morgan did gymnastics all summer, too, and was back for the regular classes again (she shows no signs of getting bored with it at all). She wasn't promoted as expected back in May, due to some strength gains that needed to be made as well as some significant changes to the standards at each level. This has worked out very well all around (particularly on our schedule and budget), and she has been progressing nicely this year. I expect her to be promoted on next year.
  • By this point, we were all caught up on Doctor Who, and pining away for the 50th anniversary special in November just like all the rest of the world. One day, I went to the gym and there was a life-size cardboard cutout of David Tennant that someone brought us (thank you, Bill and Gina!) and we brought him home. The dog is still afraid of him, but she's getting over it.
  • We embarked on our first home project that was not thrust upon us by some kind of emergency and decided to have the siding replaced. It was very old, possibly original to this 40 year old home, and we wanted no more critter issues (there were huge gaping holes in some of the siding, inviting mice, rats, chipmunks, possums, and god-knows-what-else to come and enjoy the cozy shelter of our home). So while all this other stuff was going on, we were getting quotes from siding and painting peopleguys and arranging to have the siding replaced in September.
  • The second half of August was all about settling into new routines and getting back to what passes for normal here at Wildhaven.




September

  • And we got new siding put on the house, much to the dismay of the dog, who found the process both worrisome (due to loud sudden noises) and exciting (due to lots of fun new people to play with). The house is now a pretty blue instead of a drab gray, and one of my projects for 2014 is to get a new front door to replace the current one with a huge crack down the middle, and paint it yellow.
  • All of my classes were up and going, such that, if you counted the ones I coached at the gym and my online parenting class, I was now up to 9 classes a week. At some point, it dawned on me that I might be a teacher now. I mean, a teacher apart from "homeschooling mommy."
  • Kelly's daughter Livy had a sleepover for her birthday, and Morgan was invited. And then I invited myself to the sleepover and got to have a fun evening with MY friends, too. Morgan was initially very concerned that my presence would ruin all of her fun with her friends, but as we expected, the young girls stayed upstairs, and we older girls stayed downstairs, and rarely the twain did meet.
  • Speaking of homeschooling, yes there has been some of that, too. Ryan and I embarked on Life of Fred: Fractions, and we are making slow progress. Now that it's cold, neither of us wants to do it because we spent the summer doing math out on the back porch, which feels very nice math-y sort of place to us both, and neither of us cares much for doing math in the kitchen. But we will persevere, I assure you. Morgan started ALEKS math, an online program that I much prefer since the kids can work more independently and at their own pace. She finished one level already and will start the next one in January. We've also been listening to audiobooks frantically, going through the Harry Potter series a second time, all of LotR and The Hobbit, all of the Percy Jackson series (and we just started the Heroes of Olympus series), The Hunger Games is going currently, and I am probably missing a few books. At some point I will insist on Anne of Green Gables, but I'm having fun with this Heroes of Olympus series myself. Oh, and I have The Killer Angels just waiting for us, too. On the way to Chicago in the summer, we listened to a book on the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, which was fascinating.
  • ATLOS had an outing to Martinis and IMAX at Fernbank, and that was Brendan's and my anniversary date. 
  • We visited Hillcrest Orchards with our homeschool friends, an annual outing that has become a Don't Miss event. It's your regular apple orchard, only it's populated by creepy mannequins. It's really indescribable and you MUST come with us next year.




October

  • The first weekend of October, we hosted a small gathering of friends to discuss personality theory. Some people stayed with us and the discussions happened here. It was tons of fun.
  • I also ran a 10K trail race at Kennesaw Mountain with a friend of mine that first Saturday. It had me wondering why I ever run on the roads at all. So pretty and love running trails. Yes, I said "love" and "running" in the same sentence.
  • The next weekend, we had the ATLOS annual fall picnic. Always a fun time and what a beautiful fall day it was!
  • Speaking of Kettlebells, kettlebells started back up again in earnest, having decided to go to a competition in San Francisco in February 2014. I decided to stick with Long Cycle again, but work up to the next bell weight, 16kg. That would put me in a position to make rank, if I get enough reps. It's a lot of work and a lot of fun, and as of now, I'm confident I will not embarrass myself in February, assuming I can get over this chest cold and get back to the gym. But I am getting ahead of myself.
  • Classes were going pretty well. The PD class wrapped up, and while I consider it a success, I was not thrilled with some of the technical challenges to running an online class. I have some ideas about how to make the experience better all around so I'm considering trying it again in the new year.
  • We took our annual trek up to Carlton Farms for pumpkin picking and corn maze hiking. We made it an ATLOS event, and so met Elizabeth and Michael for the first time. And Elizabeth works with Brendan, we discovered. By the way, Carlton Farms is a set location for the film Mockingjay--we are very much looking forward to seeing it in the film and are so happy for the Carlton family because they are really nice people.
  • My sister-in-law got engaged! (I think it was in October that this happened.) So now we have a fun family event to look forward to in 2014!
  • For lots of reasons, we decided against having our annual Halloween bash and looking back, that was a fantastic decision on our part, especially because Halloween was on a Thursday. Middle-of-the-week things tend to be challenging with our busy schedule. We took the kids to the neighborhood down the road, which is much better suited to trick-or-treating. Brendan was Hagrid again, Morgan was Hermione, Ryan was an Empty Child, and Sean was indeed a Dalek. At the last minute, I was inspired to be The Jerk.




November

  • November was classes, coaching, kettlebell training, gymnastics, work, and life. I am enjoying all of the things we do, but I need to learn how to pace myself. Sadly, this probably won't get to happen at this point until after the co-op school year ends. :/
  • Ryan got braces on the 11th. It was a little traumatic, getting them on, but after the first few days, things settled down and he seems to be used to them now. I was not inclined to make anyone get braces for purely cosmetic reasons, and I thought for a while that his issues were cosmetic. However, some consultations over the summer convinced us both that he was probably going to lose a tooth due to some crowding issues and so he made the decision to get the braces (it was his decision, once we determined it was something we could afford). His issues are pretty minor and we hope he will be done in 18-24 months. Fingers crossed!
  • I taught a short online Positive Discipline workshop for more teachers at Nurturing Wisdom up in Chicago. Again, some challenges with the online-ness of it, but fun. I am really enjoying teaching PD more and more and hope to do more of that in 2014. Maybe even an in-person class.
  • Speaking of Kettlebells, I got all officially registered for the kettlebell competition, and my friend and training partner is going, too, so we are representing as "Kennesaw Kettlebells." An official team! Hopefully we can grow our team beyond just the two of us, but we are happy with our tiny team for now. And we have a great coach, Jerry, so I guess it's really the three of us. Maybe we can convince Jerry to compete himself at some point!
  • I turned 43, and while I am no longer the Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything, I really still am. I'm just the Answer + 1. So you can calm yourself now.
  • Ryan decided to give rock climbing class a try, at the invitation of his friend (and one of my favorite students) Ethan. He ADORED it.
  • We had an ATLOS hike up and around Kennesaw Mountain. It was chilly, but really a perfect hiking day. I need to hike Kennesaw Mountain more often.
  • Because I am still too cheap for cable or satellite, I made arrangements to take everyone to see the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary show at a movie theater. SO MUCH FUN. Very special.
  • Brian and his partner Mik came to town for Thanksgiving. Kelly and Aaron and Livy came for Thanksgiving dinner. The next day, we took Brian and Mik rock climbing and trampolining. It was a fun weekend.




December

  • The first half of December was filled up with classes--co-op (me teaching and the kids taking), CF Kids, CF classes for me, kettlebell training, rock climbing for Ryan, gymnastics for Morgan, and a partridge in a pear tree.
  • We attended three holiday parties this year. The first was the annual Reason's Greetings ATLOS party, at the home of friends Dawn and Dwane. Gorgeous and fun. The next one we went to was Brendan's office party, which was large and amazing as it was last year. Speaking of CrossFit, the third party was our CrossFit party (which I guess can be considered my office party, heh). Always fun people. We are pretty much all amazing and badass.
  • ATLOSCon 2014 planning officially got underway as Kelly, Miranda, Ken and I had the first of many meetings at our favorite centrally-located Starbucks. 
  • Brendan's sister Eileen and her new fiance David (though we've met him before as he has been Brian's friend for years) came to Wildhaven for ONE NIGHT ONLY with their dog Ibi. We had a really nice evening with them, and the kids were very excited to meet their new Uncle. :D
  • We took a one week excursion to the Midwest the week of Christmas, essentially retracing much of our July trip, although on a smaller scale. We spent the first half of the week in Lafayette with my brother and his family, and it was so fun to be a part of Anna's first Christmas. My parents and sister were there, too. Also, it's SERIOUSLY COLD up in the Midwest, and now I remember why we moved to Georgia in the first place. Then we betook ourselves up to Chicago to see Brendan's family. Highlights from this trip include Actual Snow, Restaurant Yoga, Indiana Bourbon, Adorable Baby, Doctor Who Christmas Special (goodbye, Matt Smith, sigh), Arni's Pizza, Lou Malnati's Pizza, and Wonderful People.
  • Oh yeah, and we had the dog with us on this trip, and she did so well. She has now met three of her four dog "cousins": Ibi, Chloe (my sister's dog), and Willie (Eileen's dog who is at my mother-in-law's house still). She has yet to meet Oscar, my brother's dog, but that is unlikely to happen as he is not a fan of kids and whenever we come to visit, we have all these kids with us. But maybe we'll find a way to introduce them. She is fine with other dogs, but I have learned that it will just take a while for all the canines to settle the you-know-what down and simply peacefully coexist. Ah well, now I know. 
  • We are having a nice low-key week to end the year and begin the new one. Brendan is at work, and I'm going to try some kettlebells this afternoon if this dastardly cough doesn't stop me (I think I caught Anna's cold, but of course it was SO WORTH IT). We will putter around the house, play with new Christmas toys, put things away, make some cookies and a yummy meal for tonight, and have a peaceful New Year's Eve with my favoritest people in the whole wide universe. Not a bad way to see 2013 off, really.



So, as you can see, I hardly did anything at all in 2013. :D All in all, it was a fun, productive year full of value-pursuit, love, good friends, self-discovery, and joy. There were struggles, too, though I have chosen not to highlight the worst on my Year In Review, as ultimately they are the kinds of struggles that don't really matter in the specifics. There have been lessons learned and course corrections made, and that's really all the purpose they served.

I have been trying to figure out what I want the theme or focus for 2014 to be. As I mentioned somewhere above, I definitely need to learn to pace myself. I also need to learn to be more present in the moment, to just enjoy the moments and people I am with. So that will be a focus. And yet, I want to have more adventures, too. And it would be nice to get more work done on the house, and maybe keep earning some money (that is nice, I have to say, to have some jobs that pay even just a little bit of money).

All in all, I think we are pretty much kicking butt, and we are all healthy and happy and learning all the time. I don't think I can ask for much more at all. So I hope that 2014 is a continuation of the things begun in previous years, and a little more calm and settled down from 2013 (as 2013 was from 2012). Maybe peace and calm is a bit too much to hope for given all of our projects and impending teenagerhood, etc. But I'll try.

Happy New Year to anyone who made it this far! May 2014 bring you joy and love and productiveness, and yes, even peace!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The 5 Years Ago Exercise

Tomorrow is my 43rd birthday. I KNOW! How is that possible, when really I'm 24?

Actually, I don't mind turning 43 one bit. In fact, I think I'm a pretty darn awesome 43, and plan to continue along that vein for a long, long time.

Here's where I am today. I am a mom of three, and we've homeschooled them for their whole lives. I teach now, and not just my kids here at homeschool. I teach classes at our homeschool co-op/enrichment program, and I think I teach them well. I coach CrossFit classes, mostly for kids, but I'm branching out into adult coaching, too. I teach online parenting (Positive Discipline) classes and manage an online PD discussion group. I know tons and tons and tons of people (well, it seems like it to me). I have friends from Food Allergy Land, Homeschool Land, Positive Discipline Land, Objectivism Land, CrossFit Land, and more. Sometimes my worlds collide and that is generally pretty cool. I drive a minivan and live in a 40 year old house in the woods that we've named Wildhaven. I am training for my second competition in kettlebell sport, and with all due modesty, I'm pretty good at that, too. I own, with my husband, a couple of small businesses, and am going to incorporate myself in the next year. I know all about life with people who have peanut allergies and T1 diabetes.

Five years ago, my life was pretty different. Maybe drastically different. I was 38, and had a 5 month old, a 3 year old, and a 6 year old. Our official homeschooling journey had just begun, and I was happy to finally have gotten over the reading hurdle (the first big homeschooling hurdle, I think). I'm sure I watched a lot of Blue's Clues and Nick Jr. shows. I was up to my elbows in diapers, and spent a lot of time nursing the baby. I was finally figuring out my issues with food and diet and really improving my eating. I was blogging regularly (Sean is my blogging baby, he got an announcement and everything!), and it was a primary outlet for creativity and communication. I had just joined this Facebook thing and was trying to figure out how it worked.

Five years before that, I was 33. I had one child, who was only 18 months. The words "peanut allergy" meant nothing to me beyond some vague sort of compassion for those poor souls who had to deal with such afflictions. I had recently decided NOT to go back to work in order to stay home with my child, and was voraciously devouring parenting and homeschooling books, and having lots of parenting philosophy conversations with my new friend Kelly.

Five years before that, I was 28. I was a year away from completing my MBA, and planning to leave a stressful job in favor of another, better, more well-paying job that would surely come after. Brendan and I had just purchased our first home a few months before. We were never planning to have any children, preferring instead to be DINKs forever, pay off our house early, take plenty of fantabulous vacations to exotic places, and retire early. I hardly paid any attention to my health at all, being relatively young still, but it was beginning to dawn on me that A.) I was not immortal, and B.) I would really appreciate a working pancreas later in life. The words "type 1 diabetes" meant nothing to me beyond some vague sort of compassion for those poor souls who had to deal with such afflictions.

Five years before that, I was 23. I had just graduated from college and gotten my first job. I lived alone in a tiny apartment in Indianapolis, biding my time until my boyfriend graduated from college after which we'd move away from the Midwest forever. I made $9.75 per hour, ate lots of ramen noodles, and rented videos like crazy because really, it was not a lot of fun living alone. My job was okay--I was ridiculously good at it (because it wasn't hard), and I spent my spare brain cell energy devising ways to improve the processes and make things more efficient.

When you put it like that, five year snapshots, it's kind of amazing, isn't it? I feel like the same person, mostly, but my life is so so so much different than even five years ago. I can't wait to discover what I find myself doing in five more years, and five years after that, and five more, etc.

So onward and upward! To me, and to whoever reads this! Do things now such that your life in five years will look more awesome than it is today. :D

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Three Years Ago Today...

...I walked into CrossFit Kennesaw.

I'd spent that entire year (2010) truly getting my diet under control and losing weight and feeling awesome. After about 9 months or so, it was time to add some regular physical activity to my plan. A the rest, as they say, is history.

Here is a list of some of my accomplishments in the last three years:


  • Completed 390 WODs (Workouts of the Day) at CrossFit Kennesaw (yes, I kept meticulous track of each one of these)
  • Completed about half a dozen WODs at other gyms
  • Seven 5K races
  • One 10K race
  • Two CrossFit competitions, one individual, one team
  • Two CrossFit Opens
  • One Kettlebell Competition
  • Three CrossFit certifications (Level 1, CrossFit Kids, Kettlebell)
  • Half dozen or so vacation WODS
  • Several dozen trail runs and sprint training
  • Started coaching

And I can get up into a really nice bridge now. :) I've hit some pretty good numbers on my lifts, and can even run at a semi-normal pace sometimes.

What's up next? Well, I've got a 10K trail run coming up very soon, if you can imagine, and I'm in training for my next kettlebell competition. I'm doing the Lurong Living Paleo Challenge as well as an in-house challenge at the gym. I am kicking butt and taking names.

But mostly, the thing that's up next is every single day of my awesome badass life.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Interview: Life with Food Allergies

Oh yes, I'm still here! Busy busy busy busy, and one of the things I'm busy doing is that I will be interviewed about our life with Ryan and his severe food allergy. Here's the info:


 On Wednesday evening, philosopher Dr. Diana Hsieh will interview me about "Living Safely with Food Allergies" on her live internet radio show, Philosophy in Action. This episode of internet radio airs at 6 pm PT / 7 MT / 8 CT / 9 ET on Wednesday, 25 September 2013, in the live studio. If you miss that live broadcast, you can listen to the podcast later. Here's a bit more about the show:
Many Americans have food allergies to common foods such as peanuts, dairy, and eggs. Some of those allergies are so serious as to be life-threatening. Jenn Casey's son has a life-threatening peanut allergy, diagnosed when he was a toddler. What must people diagnosed with such allergies do to protect themselves from accidental ingestion? How can parents keep their children with such allergies safe? How should other people in their lives – such as family, friends, and teachers – do to protect them from harm? What should schools, clubs, and other organizations do?
To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action's Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask follow-up questions in the text chat. If you miss the live broadcast, you'll find the podcast from the episode posted in the archive: Radio Archive: 25 September 2013. For more about Philosophy in Action Radio, visit the Episodes on Tap and Show Archives.


I hope you can tune in and catch the live show and chat! I am very excited to be doing this, and doing my part to raise awareness and do some education about food allergies.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Because I Miss Blogging So Much. . .

. . . and because I just realized that I am tending to post blog-posty things as Facebook status updates, I am going to post this Thought of the Moment here first instead.

Thought of the Moment:

So many of the things I am passionate about have something in common with each other: misconceptions.

There are so many misconceptions about Objectivism and Ayn Rand--too many to count. And almost as many about CrossFit and exercise for kids. Add in the myriad misconceptions about non-punitive parenting and Positive Discipline. Not to mention homeschooling. And paleo/primal eating. I'm sure there are a few other areas I'm forgetting. Shoes (such as barefoot shoes!) and ships and sealing wax, etc.

I used to feel overwhelmed, like I singlehandedly had to straighten out these misconceptions. I realized I don't feel that way any more. Old age/wisdom? Maybe.

Mostly, though, I think it's because the way I counter the misconceptions best is by living what I think, acting according to my principles and best judgment, and putting my money where my mouth is. I really, really, really try to do that. And over time, I think I make my impression, and whether or not anyone's mind is ever changed, it doesn't matter at all, because I am happy doing what I like best and think is right.

And I find this to be a very peaceful state of being. And acting.

Friday, May 31, 2013

The One about ATLOSCon 2013

Well, look at that! Three months just zipped by.

And one of the big things that has kept me occupied was our fourth annual conference, ATLOSCon 2013. It was, in just a few words, lots of work and tons of fun!

Remind me not to get a sinus infection the week or so before the conference in future years...that did make things a little more difficult, but everything pretty much went off without too many issues. It was easier than last year, having just moved to the house, so there's that. Kaizen! Incremental Improvement! WIN!

I'm just going to list some of the highlights of this year's conference, so I will always remember. These are in no particular order, and I may add to the list as other memories pop into my head.


  • Kelly was, as always, absolutely stellar as Queen of the Conference, and without her, none of this would be possible. 
  • Miranda and Ken, you two were fantastic in your new-and-improved roles as official ATLOSCon organizers. Now I'm wondering how we ever did it without you guys!
  • The speakers were extra awesome this year. Seriously, I haven't heard anything but accolades for everyone's classes. The ones I went to were really, really good. I especially enjoyed Hanah's class on fanfiction even though now I'm worried about how I can possibly add one more hobby to my life. Diana's class on moral amplifiers has given me much to contemplate. Chris's class on humor has me looking for hilariously stellar examples in real life (including jokes I make) of where the sense and nonsense "clash." Kelly made me want to re-read some of my favorite poems, and I am tickled that she included one of my favorites in her poetry reading. And the bourbon tasting was especially awesome thanks to Guy and Alisa! Oh, and I got to be Dagny in the Atlas Shrugged script reading. :)
  • Special love goes to Alyssa for singlehandedly assembling my new patio furniture on the very first afternoon. And to anyone who witnessed me trying NOT to spaz out over trying to get the A/C fixed at the last minute. Since Wildhaven is the second largest venue for ATLOSCon, even apart from all of the houseguests we were hosting, I was not loving that the A/C went kaput the night before everything started.
  • We had karaoke at the party (thank you, Robert and Amy!) and now that EVERYONE has seen me do "Helter Skelter" I need to find a new song to do in the future. Right now the front runners are "Revolution" or "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes. But probably I could be convinced to do "Helter Skelter" just one more time because damn that's a fun song to sing.
  • This year's filk . . . oh, it was so awesome. I should probably retire from filk writing now, because I'm not sure I can ever top this year's effort.
  • Tom gave me the world's best compliment ever. And I got some other compliments that will be cherished for a while, too.
  • CrossFit--the team WOD was lots of fun, and I really enjoyed both competing against a couple of firebreather teams (you know who you are) as well as introducing some new folks to the wonders of CF. It felt like my two families met each other for the first time, and I got to share the best of each group of people with the others.
  • Another notable first-time meeting happened. You guys know who you are. :D
  • The kids had a fun and wild weekend, too. A perpetual sleepover for some of them, tramping in the woods, a close encounter with ticks for one, a close encounter with a tortoise for many (complete with conflict over who got to hold him!), arts and crafts, new awesome lovely babysitters (they adored each of you), rock climbing for many, karaoke for a few, and even some impromptu yoga. I absolutely LOVE that our kids can be involved in the conference and get to know each other, too. LOVE LOVE LOVE it.
  • The stilts made an appearance, but only at the very, very end.

What else? Mostly the feeling that I was at the very best family reunion every second! The kind family reunion that consists of all of your favorite cousins, the fun ones, the ones you laugh and talk and connect with. So I'm not talking about the kind of family reunion you are dragged to against your will and made to sit through boring stories and hugs and kisses from Aunt Matilda.

There are a few special people in the world with whom, no matter how long it's been since we've seen each other or spoken or communicated with each other, I always seem to be able to pick up the conversation right where we left off. ATLOSCon is filled up with so many of those wonderful kind of people -- those who had that status before, those who became those kind of people over the course of the weekend, and those who might be that to me in the future.


To borrow a phrase from Phil, I basked in that "warm, gulchy feeling" all weekend, and I am proud of my part in helping to make this go from an idea to reality (Plan-DO-Check-Act!). And I miss it already and am thinking about next year.

If you are so inclined, you can leave your ATLOSCon memories in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Friday, February 01, 2013

CrossFit Kids: Creating a Class Culture

I am slowly getting back into a regular blogging routine, hooray!

One thing I really want to do is develop a series of posts about my newest venture as a CrossFit Kids coach and program developer. I have so many thoughts and ideas swirling around in my head, and I know it will help to get it out there somehow. I'm also hopeful it will help the parents of the kids in my program (current and future) get to know me a bit better, and of course, it gives me a focus for blogging.

So fair warning to any readers (if you're still out there) of my blog -- this blog is going to be extra-full of CrossFit talk for the time being. :) But there will also be Positive Discipline talk, and parenting talk, and business development talk, too.

The CrossFit Kids post I wrote last week was mostly just a Yay! Look what I've been up to! kind of post. Today and in the future I want to get more specific and write just about one aspect of the program. The first topic is about creating a the kind of class atmosphere I want us to have, or class culture, as I think of it.

Just as our Kids classes are run in a similar way to the adult classes (with a warmup and a WOD, though we get to play games in CF Kids!), I really want our Kids classes to have the same general atmosphere as the adult classes.

A big part of what kept me going back to CrossFit, especially at the beginning, was the support and encouragement of the coaches and other gym members. Personally, this has done wonders for my mental health and my attitude about what I am capable of accomplishing. To feel like everyone around you is truly rooting for you, truly on your side and wants you to succeed . . . it's such a wonderful, empowering feeling.

In our adult classes, we cheer for each other, commiserate over struggles (aka "goats"), and swap ideas for improving ourselves. We don't denigrate each other and we don't allow people to denigrate themselves either. We share our excitement for this CrossFit thing we all love (well, maybe except for burpees), and we celebrate our achievements. Lisbeth Darsh describes this so well:

Here [at our CrossFit gym], we know that even if we finish last in the workout, there will still be folks cheering for us. In fact, they’ll probably cheer harder than they did for the first-place finisher. Because CrossFit is about effort, as well as achievement.

(Go read the whole post. It's awesome. Especially go read it if you think it all sounds like some kind of made up marketing BS. Because it's not.)

This isn't unique to our box, as you can see, but I happen to think our box does this very well. It's part of the general CrossFit culture, and in fact, I will tell anyone reading this that if you go to a CF box and you DON'T experience this feeling, find another box, and quickly.

It's very important to me that our Kids classes to have the same atmosphere, and I think we are off to a good start. Below are a few strategies I'm taking to foster the type of class culture I want us to have.


The WODs

I learned early on in our practice classes that sometimes games and WODs can backfire if the kids are set up to compete against each other. Some kids are super competitive, and others aren't, by nature. But everyone can get their feelings hurt if they "lose" a WOD or get tagged too many times in Freeze Tag.

To that end, I generally set up the WODs to be AMRAP (As Many Rounds/Reps As Possible in a given amount of time). That means each kid works for the same amount of time, and there isn't an opportunity for someone to "win" the WOD by finishing first. AMRAPs also mean that nobody is just sitting around doing nothing and getting bored while the other kids are still working. Kids are free to track their rounds or reps during an AMRAP if they want to, but that is completely optional.

However, I don't want to exclusively run AMRAP WODs either, because that means the kids won't have a chance to experience CrossFit's culture of cheering for everyone, and maybe even cheering harder for the person finishing last, as Lisbeth mentioned.

Here's a picture of this very phenomenon taken at last year's CrossFit Games (thanks to this lovely blog):


Having been the last person finished with a WOD on more than one occasion, I can personally attest to how great it is to have your own personal cheering section full of people who want you to do your very best.


So, on days when the WOD is not an AMRAP, I remind the kids that we are a team and we cheer each other on. The minute the first kid finishes the WOD, I encourage him/her to clap and cheer on their teammates (because I really want them to view each other as teammates, not competitors). As the others finish, they join in on the cheering, until all of the kids are done.

I was delighted when, last week, the kids started cheering for each other all on their own. One by one, they finished their WOD and then just started clapping and shouting the names of the kids who were still working. That made me feel so happy! They really got it!


Games

Usually the games I run in the classes are set up deliberately to promote a team-like atmosphere, so we are doing a lot of tag variations and I've experimented with some explicit team-building types of games such as Cross the Swamp (which wasn't such a hit, really).

I like games set up to allow the kids who get tagged out to get right back into the game by performing a few repetitions of whatever skill we are focusing on. So there's still the aspect of being tagged out, but then you aren't just sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else play. You earn your way back into the game with a few squats or whatever and the fun ensues.

When I do run a game that involves direct competition, with clear winners and losers, I try to set it up so that it's a team against team type of competition. Again this promotes teamwork, and if you are on the losing side, at least you're not alone. The main reason for doing this, though, is because I have learned that it's too hard for me to pay attention to scores and rules infractions and sloppy form brought on by a desire to win. When there are only two teams, I actually can monitor the kids more easily.

I am not anti-competition, by the way. I am not a helicopter parent or coach who thinks that children need to be protected from their feelings of disappointment or struggle. In fact, if you want to learn how to cope with the disappointment of losing (or winning without gloating!), you need to lose sometimes (or win).

The fact of the matter is that I only have the kids for 30 minutes, and the class is primarily meant to be a fun way for them to be physically active. So I am trying to balance this with the competition aspect, give the kids chances to learn to be competitive in such a way that their focus is on trying to do their best and not on trying to beat someone else, and to encourage each one of them to view the others as teammates to root for.

As I wrote this post, I discovered that I have a lot more to say on the subject of competition and kids, but I'll save that for a future blog post.


What's Next

I think it would be great to have something visible hanging up in the gym that states what we are all about, a Declaration of CrossFit Kids, if you will. Here are a couple of the ideas I have for this already:

CrossFit Kids --

  • Work Hard
  • Have Fun
  • Cheer for Each Other
  • Follow the Safety Rules (See what I did there? Heh.)

Etc.

What I'd really, really like is to spend about 5 minutes with the kids and have us come up with a list together. Some kids come to most of the clases; others I only see once a week or even less often than that. I bet if I went over this with each class for a week I would probably be able to get input from most of the kids.

Because, you know, what if I can't think up everything we should be all by myself? I need their help! Also, why should I do all the work? :D

In all seriousness, if the kids feel like this list is theirs, that it belongs to them because they helped create it, then they will be more likely to stick to whatever we put on there. The creating of this sign is itself a team-building exercise, and of course, we will have some words on there that reinforce the idea that we support each other.

So yeah, I think I'll make this a goal for February. Just gotta find a white board to put our list on.



I think that's all I've got to say for now. At this point in our program, after one official month, I think we are off to a great start in developing and maintaining a supportive class culture. I'm confident that this type of atmosphere will keep the kids feeling welcome, included, motivated to try their best, and willing to cheer each other on. And I will definitely have more to say on this topic as our program continues and changes in the future.








Thursday, January 24, 2013

The One About CrossFit Kids

I am excited to announce that I have been, in my spare time, developing a CrossFit Kids program at CrossFit Kennesaw!

After I wrapped up my certification classes last fall, Chris (CFK owner and coach extraordinaire) and I started talking seriously about a Kids program. It's something we've discussed here and there in passing over the last couple of years, but we got pretty seriously on the plan almost as soon as I'd finished the certification course in October.

I had some trepidation about it, but here's the thing. I'm braver than I used to be, more resilient, eager to take on challenges, and less afraid to screw up. And CrossFit has a lot to do with this. So when this new challenge presented itself, how on earth could I not even give it a try?

Mostly I was concerned that it would be difficult to fit into my schedule and I was also nervous about my ability to coach. Sure, I've taught lots of things to adults and kids alike, but still. So far, the schedule we've come up with seems to be working just fine, and I think I could handle another class or two a week possibly.

I'm doing fine at coaching, yay! In fact, each class is kind of mostly awesome fun for 30 straight minutes. I've made some mistakes, sure, but like Anne Shirley, "I never make the same mistake twice." (Well, not often anyway.)

What I lacked in direct coaching experience, I think I made up for with all of my experience creating businesses and departments and work processes and marketing plans from scratch. Not to mention, I do have a fair bit of practice interacting with kids between the ages of 5 and 12, the very exact ages of the initial population of athletes in our Kids program.

Also, CrossFit is a big passion of mine, and I'd already learned a lot about coaching, both in and out of class. I was eager to try out some of the things I'd practiced and read about, and see if I could share this passion with others.

And not least -- I have always, ALWAYS tried to keep up with work skills that are directly transferrable to "real" jobs. I have a great job right now. I'm a homeschooling mom. But that's a job with an expiration date, and I have been determined from the outset that I will not be left wondering what to do with myself when the kids are self-sufficient and, hopefully, out of my house. So creating this program is the perfect opportunity to keep those skills sharp, while offering me the flexibility to bring the kids with me (in fact, Ryan and Morgan are students in the class).

The classes have been great fun. The kids are engaged, and hilarious, and definitely always keep me on my toes. And that's pretty much how I like all kids to be. I'm enjoying the challenge of keeping the classes interesting while also balancing the need to review the skills and teach them how to do them well. I expect this is something I'll get better at over time. I'm spending a lot of my free time watching videos online and getting ideas for fun group games to play.

Chris and I are so far pretty much exactly on the same page with our vision and goals for the program, and I am grateful to him not only for the chance to try this out, but for the trust he has shown in me, as he has been giving me pretty wide latitude over the specifics of the program. It's especially awesome that I think we both feel comfortable being straight up and honest with each other. It helps that we've known each other a couple of years and, of course, that we're both pretty awesome people.

We both have TONS of ideas for the future, how to grow the program and keep it fresh and interesting at the same time, while integrating it into the larger community that exists at CF Kennesaw. Our biggest challenge now is to keep things going at a pace we can handle and to grow the program in a smart way.

So that's been my big adventure since mid-November! I'd like to blog about the experience some more in the future -- what running a class is like, challenges, how Positive Discipline fits in with running such a class, what I'm learning, creating and executing a business plan such as this. And I'll do that, just as soon as I can.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about our program, drop me a line. You can find me here, on FB, or email me. Because I have an official email address now. :D

Monday, January 14, 2013

Race Around My World

Early yesterday morning, I ran in a 5K race down in Atlanta.

I don't know why I keep doing this to myself, but I do. I don't actually enjoy running, you know. But there's just something exciting about paying some money and getting a t-shirt and lining up with thousands of my closest friends while loud music plays, followed by trying not to trip all over them while we jockey for position on streets usually reserved for motor vehicles.

There's just something about that, see?


I ran right under that bridge, toward the Capitol building in the distance.

Yesterday's race started and ended at Turner Field (home of the Braves), and we all ran on the Olympic bridge under the Olympic rings commemorating our city's hosting the 1996 Olympics. Brendan and I walked down that very bridge -- wow, 16.5 years ago -- on our way to watch Australia and Cuba play a baseball game at the old Fulton County Stadium. That stadium is now a parking lot, the same parking lot I plopped down in the middle of yesterday, with thousands of my closest friends, to eat a banana and drink some hot chocolate after the race.

I think part of the reason I've enjoyed these little races, apart from just making sure I can still complete them without dying, is that they offer me a renewed chance to experience landmarks and views that I sometimes don't notice or appreciate much anymore. 

As best I can tell, I was sitting near where first base was at the old Fulton County Stadium. Didn't get a picture of my perspective, but rather, the more important thing -- my hot chocolate.
I've never run a race in Atlanta, and it was nice to be trotting down the streets I'm familiar with, to see the gold dome of the Capitol building (where once I went to a protest in the rain, and another time a video of me talking about Ayn Rand was played), to pass a parking garage I once parked in for an appointment at Georgia State, to reconnect with some memories, big and obscure, from my past.

And because I love this reconnection so much, I'm going to do it more often. I'm going to search for 5K races, mud runs, CrossFit competitions, etc. in areas that I love, have loved, or maybe even have dreamed of going due to some other connection. I am going to go to these races and experience these places anew, from the road, while sweating and trying not to trip over people.

I had this idea last summer, after running a second or third 5K in my own little town, running on streets I drive at least a couple times a week and through a park we visit quite often. After that last race here in Kennesaw, I made a list of places I'd like to visit and race. So I'm going to put my list here, as a reminder. I have been to most of the places in person, but there are a few places I'm connected with only via imagination/soul, and those count, too. I suspect different readers will be able to figure out the sentimental connection for different places. 

These aren't really in any particular order:

  • Groton/New London, Connecticut
  • Newport News, Virginia
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Plainfield, Indiana
  • Fishers, Indiana (and Conner Prairie Farm)
  • Carmel, Indiana
  • West Lafayette, Indiana
  • Middletown, Pennsylvania
  • Carlisle, Pennysylvania
  • Granby, Connecticut
  • Simsbury, Connecticut
  • Lake Jackson, Texas
  • Houston, Texas
  • Galveston, Texas
  • Jackson, Michigan
  • Aurora, Ohio
  • Cumberland/Vinings area of Atlanta
  • Acworth, Georgia
  • Kennesaw, Georgia (done this several times already)
  • Atlanta, Georgia (done!)
  • Ramona, California
  • Lewiston, Idaho
  • Alexandria, Virginia
  • The Wisconsin Dells
  • Mineral Point, Wisconsin
  • The Outer Banks, North Carolina
  • Asheville, North Carolina
  • Miami Beach, Florida
  • Orlando/Lake Buena Vista, Florida
  • Blewett Pass in Washington
  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Blue Ridge/Ellijay, Georgia
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Portland, Oregon :D
So I guess that's it for now. I might add to this list as I think of other places. You know how I love to make lists and check things off, and now I feel like I need to get going!

This is obviously not a short-term kind of thing, but more of a long-term travel/race goal. I think it will be fun to try to accomplish some kind of race or competition in or near all of these places. When we travel, I'm going to start checking the local race schedules. For example, we're going to Chicago this summer, so there might be Chicago/Wisconsin possibilities. 

If you happen to live near any of these places and know of an annual race that's fun to do, let me know. 

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

2012 Year in Review

You didn't think I'd forget about my annual Year in Review, did you? Not. A. Chance.

Especially after this year, because, holy wow, what a year!


2012: The Year of the Houses


January

  • I ran a 5K race on January 1!
  • As you might recall, we started looking for a new house in December 2011. On New Year's Eve 2011, exactly one year ago as of this writing, we toured four homes, loved one, and put in an offer on it on January 2, 2012.
  • The offer was accepted, with some down to the wire last minute drama (after some bidding drama), which foreshadowed the drama to come.
  • We learned that you have to have a lot of nerve when applying for a mortgage if you own one or more small businesses because you have to turn in about eleventy-thousand more pieces of paper than otherwise.
  • We also learned that January is the suckiest time to apply for a mortgage because the mortgage company somehow wants you to have completed your tax returns for the past year, even though this is actually impossible. But they don't care that it's impossible, and should you suggest to them that this is impossible and/or that they are being somewhat unreasonable, they will pretend not to hear you in a fingers-in-the-ears-"la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you" kind of way.
  • I started The Outlaw Way programming at CrossFit. While I'm no longer following this programming, I found it very beneficial and loved it. I learned two important things thanks to Outlaw: the value of mobility work (and the MobilityWOD website), and I improved my Olympic weightlifting technique by leaps and bounds. Seriously.
  • Morgan was invited to a special gymnastics class for girls who wanted to improve their form and technique, and started going to gymnastics twice a week.


February

  • Right. So the mortgage stuff finally got settled and we were on track to close at the end of the month.
  • But about 10 days before close, we learned that there was a Surprise Lien on the house because the seller had been suckered in by some scam artists who had convinced him, for some reason, somehow, to create a trust with them (there were three bad guys), and unbeknownst to him, they helped themselves to about $75,000 of equity on the house. All of our plans were put on hold for nearly three weeks while lawyers and asshole bad guy scam artists and realtors and mortgage companies and title companies and everyone else involved in the deal had a collective freak-out. 
  • In the end, the bad guys walked away with $10,000 of that man's money, and screwed up all of our timetables for everything, and made it so I could hardly sleep at night.
  • Oh yeah, and the main bad guy actually wanted to attend our closing. I think in his twisted evasive mind he'd convinced himself that he had actually helped this man sell the house to us. The real estate attorney prevented that. I'm not sure what I or Brendan might have said to him if he'd shown up.
  • I kept thinking, Oh, this will be funny one day, right? Somehow, nearly a year later, this whole thing just doesn't seem funny at all. 
  • Here's the thing: we love the house. It's great for our family.
  • I channeled my frustration about the Surprise Lien into CrossFit and managed to transform my rage into kipping pull ups, realizing a goal I'd had since I started CF. So there was that.
  • I signed up for the CrossFit Open and started that competition. 



March

  • We closed on March 9, and because the absurdity didn't stop with the bad guy scam artists, we learned that the seller hadn't bothered to move out of the house before closing as agreed. Later that day, when we went to the house to look at it, as the owners, it was apparent that he hadn't even bothered to hardly pack, and his adult son laid on his bed watching television the whole time and did nothing to help his dad. Somehow he managed to get his stuff out of the house in two days (for which we received some recompense), but nevertheless, that meant we had less than one week before our moving date, when we were supposed to have had well over two weeks in order to get things ready.
  • My wonderful mother-in-law and father-in-law came down to help with the kids during the move on March 17, and they took care of kids, us, lined shelving and cleaned windows and swept and soothed sad children who were traumatized that we were moving. We can never repay them.
  • Oh yeah, this entire time we were dealing with small people who were very, very VERY sad about leaving the only home they'd ever lived in. I've found that I am called upon to parent at the most inconvenient times, don't you? 
  • I kept doing Outlaw and competed in the Open, coming in 700-something-th in my region, which wasn't too bad, considering. I needed to do CF so that I didn't kill people, see.
  • Also, the kids kept going to homeschool co-op, and gymnastics, and other activities. Our lives didn't completely stop while all this was going on.
  • Morgan celebrated her 7th birthday at her gymnastics gym with puppy dog cupcakes. 
  • We had lots of ATLOS stuff going on the whole time, too, such as our monthly Happy Hour, and a hike, and at least one other social thing that escapes my memory. Also, planning and preparation for the conference in May was well underway by this point.




April

  • Now that all of our crap was out of the old house and into the new, it was time to figure out what to do with the old house. We'd intended to put it up on the market after doing a bit of work on it, and hired a friend to get some of that work done. And we still had a good bit of crap at the old house, so I was still running back and forth from the old to the new a few times a week.
  • On April 4th, I had a septic tank peopleguy out to inspect the septic tank, and let's just say I'm still not over the sticker shock, nor the OMGWTF-ed-ness of what happened that day. It wasn't that bad, but I know more about the personal lives of the people who owned this house before us than I ever needed to know.
  • Also, the previous owner came by once or twice for a couple of things he'd left behind (like a pool table) and told me things about the house, and specifically the state of the carpets, that I wish like anything I could un-know.
  • In related news, we had new carpets put in the new house.
  • Ryan celebrated his 10th--TENTH--birthday with a laser tag party that was super awesome fun. I'm still getting over the fact that my baby is TEN. Sigh.
  • Brendan and I celebrated 20 years together (dating, not marriage), which sounds like a lot of years for people as young as we are.
  • Sean finally weaned (he'd have done so sooner, but our move required a bit of a relapse), and for the first time in nearly 11 years, I wasn't pregnant or nursing anyone. It's a joyous feeling!
  • We went to the Renaissance Festival and I'm so glad we did. I knew if we didn't get to it early in the season, we'd miss it.
  • Morgan was invited to try out for her gymnastics gym's team program.
  • We made the decision to get a puppy this month (I wrote about what all went into the decision later, here.) There were pups on the way, due in June, and we had the first pick of the females. Because, you know, I figured I had nothing else going on, so why not get a dog? 



May

  • Another busy month. We started working out a deal with former neighbors of ours to lease-purchase our old home and I have to say, it was a very pleasant process to work out the details and get things settled all around. Amazing how that works when everyone is trying to be fair and make sure the agreement is good for each party.
  • My parents came for a visit in early May, ostensibly to celebrate their birthdays, and I'm convinced that if they hadn't come, all of our books would still be on boxes and not on shelves (thanks!).
  • I announced the end of the Objectivist Round Up, a project I really enjoyed working on, but it was time to end it. It would end in July after exactly 5 years of weekly editions.
  • Brendan and I LEFT THE KIDS AT HOME with our friends and flew up to Chicago over Mother's Day weekend for a family wedding. It was so much fun, and the kids had a good time, too.
  • Brendan had his birthday, but for the life of me, I can't remember what we did. :/
  • Morgan was accepted into the team program! And she had a mini-meet (her first) and did very well.
  • Most of the month was filled up with ATLOSCon stuff, and I have to say, this year's conference was the smoothest to date in terms of how the classes and events flowed. As always, we learned a lot about what works, what doesn't, and will be making improvements for 2013.
  • I actually sang and danced at ATLOSCon, and I actually even had fun doing it.
  • Met lots of new people at the conference, and I hope they all come back next year. 
  • Oh, and our conference surpassed our expectations, and it was generally totally awesome, and you should really come to ATLOSCon 2013!



June

  • About two minutes after the conference was over, the kids and I packed up the minivan for a road trip to DC. My lovely grandmother, who lives in California, would be on the East Coast for a few days preparing for her Mediterranean Cruise (ahem...I want to be just like her when I grow up!). So the kids and I drove up to see her and visit. My brother and sister-in-law would be there, too, and they actually drove back down to Georgia after the DC visit and came to stay at our house for a couple of days.
  • While in DC, we went to the Spy Museum, which was super lots of fun. We also saw the Archives, where Sean staged a sit-in style protest over the line length, to the amusement of all.
  • We gave audiobooks a real try on this trip, and to my surprise, we became obsessed. We started at the third Harry Potter book, and ended up getting through all of them over the next few months. We're going to start LOTR next.
  • I did the CrossFit Total for the first time and got 550, hitting a deadlift PR of 255#. 
  • I ran a local 5K at kind of the last minute, and PR'd that at 31:45 (which, trust me, is BOOKING IT for me).
  • Sean turned FOUR on the 20th, and requested geysers for his birthday. So we had a party for him here, and did Diet Coke/Mentos geysers, to the delight of all.
  • A consequence of turning 4 years old, though, is booster shots. I don't think either one of us has recovered from that appointment yet. I still say they need to have margarita machines available in the doctor's office for moms who have had to hold their kids down for shots.
  • A litter of puppies -- 3 females and 4 males -- was born on the 25th. Our dog plan seemed more concrete somehow, with weekly updates and pictures from the breeders.
  • We took a trip to the beach with our friends Kelly, Aaron, and Livy. We had a good time, even though a tropical storm coming in made it impossible to swim in the ocean past the first day.
  • Kelly and I were interviewed on Philosophy in Action about parenting. It was fun!



July

  • We went to our town's 4th of July festival. I'd never been before (Brendan took the older kids when Sean was a brand new baby), and it was a fun way to spend the holiday.
  • Somewhere in this general timeframe, I learned that I'm going to be an aunt next February! WOOHOO!
  • On July 6th (yes, I remember the date), at Kelly's house, I accidentally did a strict pull up on her pull up bar. So I've got those now, too (you know, assuming that I am properly warmed up and all).
  • I'd planned to use the downtime in July--we had nothing on the schedule apart from Morgan's gymnastics classes--to unpack and settle in. Because really, we hadn't done much on the new house, having handled a couple of emergency-type things early on, but then spending most of our time and energy on getting out of the old house and getting the lease-purchase agreement settled (which we did and July was the first month we had tenants). 
  • So for a couple of weeks, I did some unpacking and settling.
  • And then the air conditioning started flaking out and it looked like we were in for some big repairs there (thank goodness for the home warranty policy that the seller had transferred to us). It really didn't get too hot, believe it or not, because we are nestled in among lots of shady trees, but it was still sticky and uncomfortable.
  • And then Brendan's appendix decided to end their lifelong relationship on the 17th. And we learned some things about extended hospital stays and Type 1 diabetes (spoiler: even medical professionals get confused between T1 and T2 diabetes).
  • So suddenly, I was stuck in a house without working A/C and running back and forth to the hospital or pharmacy or doctor's offices with three worried kids. 
  • The rest of July was a blur.
  • I know we watched some of the Olympics.
  • I also know I pulled a calf muscle about a week before a CrossFit competition. I mean I pulled it so badly I couldn't actually walk on it for a couple of days. So the kids had two parents in convalescent-mode there for a while.
  • July. Not our best effort.



August

  • By the time the Festivus Games rolled around, I had recovered enough to participate, though I had to not complete one of the events because I didn't want to risk re-injuring myself. It was the sensible thing to do, but I still hate that I didn't finish that event. Still, I got 4th place in the rowing event (Intermediate Division)--I rowed 2K in 8:30, which was REALLY HARD. So I'm really proud of that.
  • During this same period, Brendan developed a secondary infection as a result of the surgery and probably the blood sugar screwups, so he was spending a lot of time and energy resting and healing and trying to avoid another hospital stay. And he did manage that, so things were looking up!
  • On the 9th, we went and picked out our puppy. We got Miss Purple, who is now known throughout the land as Penny Lane.
  • The kids and I went to the Tennessee Aquarium one day, to spend one of our final whole days out of the house before the puppy came home with us. LOVE the TN Aquarium.
  • What else? Oh, yes. This was fun. One day, pre-puppy, the kids and I were sitting around the family room and one of the kids noticed a mouse in the fireplace. To make a long story short, we caught some mice, in and out of the house, and had to decontaminate the entire pantry and most of the kitchen cabinets from all the mouse poop everywhere. We had to revamp our entire food storage operation, and to be honest, we still haven't put everything back where it belongs, partly because I'VE BEEN BUSY, OKAY? and partly because I have this (probably irrational) fear that the second we put everything back the mice will return and I'll have to do it all over again.
  • In related news, I learned that I really really hate mice. Like a lot. Before this, I was merely neutral. Now, notsomuch.
  • On the 18th, we brought Penny home to join our family, and that has been a whole blog-worthy adventure in itself. She's a lot lot lot like a toddler, only bigger, and more likely to eat boxes of Kleenex (only slightly more likely to eat bugs, as it happens).
  • We made the decision to put our mountain cabin up for sale this month, and it's still up for sale. It's a cute little cabin, so let me know if you're interested.
  • Two of our friends got married (to each other) and Morgan was a flower girl. An adorable flower girl.
  • I also announced, took, and have been on a blogging break since August. I miss blogging so much. But I needed to let some projects go and I realized that the stress I was putting on myself for not blogging to my standards and plans was no good. And I cut back on other non-essential stressors, too, and started spending more time with people in real life. Highly recommended. I do not intend to give up the blog, I will be back, but for now, I'm still mostly on hiatus. I'm a little nervous that I won't remember what we did, how our lives went, without the blog record, so I might just resume by doing a monthly update, for my own memory.



September

  • We had a few friends over for Labor Day, and that was loads of fun.
  • I spent a ton of time running the puppy back and forth to the vet for shots and a couple episodes of diarrhea and other fun puppy stuff. And I spent even more time potty training the puppy (she was well and truly trained within the first month of coming home) and doing other training with her, too. We hired someone to come and give us family training lessons in our home, and while that was pricey, I'm glad we did it. And then we signed her up for puppy classes mostly so she could get a chance to visit and play with other dogs.
  • In September, I stopped following The Outlaw Way, which was fun but took up a lot of time, and went back to our regular CrossFit programming. Spending fewer hours at the gym freed up my time for puppy training.
  • I was supposed to do a mud run, but I got sick and couldn't go. :( Next year!
  • Homeschool co-op started back up and Morgan was still continuing with gymnastics.
  • Brendan finally got a completely clean bill of health after about two months of the whole appendix fiasco.
  • We some fun adventures with our friends, including a visit to Hillcrest Orchards, which is fun in a Tim Burton kind of way.
  • Brendan and I celebrated 17 years of marriage on the 16th, but didn't get to go out to celebrate it due to a sick kid (Sean, maybe?). And as of this writing, we still haven't gone out to dinner for our anniversary. Sigh.
  • On the weekend of the 22nd/23rd, I took the Level 1 CrossFit Trainer class and passed the test (only missed one question)! So I am now a CF L-1 Trainer, how about that?
  • Brendan's family came for a visit near the end of the month and we went roller skating! And watched Xanadu!
  • I started the Whole 30 for the first time and learned that even though dairy doesn't bother my stomach, I am probably better off without it. I also discovered the joys of Scotch eggs. And I also did a zillion dishes, because cooking all the time is a big pain in the butt.
  • Things started getting back to normal a bit, and calming down. They calmed down so much that Brendan started refocusing on getting another job, which he had begun to do right about the time his appendix asploded.




October

  • Really, one of our better months, maybe the best month. 
  • The puppy was coming along nicely and sleeping mostly through the night. She finished up all her puppy shots so I wasn't at the vet every five seconds, and she finished up her obedience classes. Probably I need to sign her up for more, because there are still a few areas that could be improved upon, but after the initial housetraining and how to teach the kids to be around her (think meta-training), I just didn't have the energy (or money) (or time). She's a pretty good dog, and we've been doing okay on our own, I think.
  • I feel like things settled down a bit. Our routine was fairly unimpeded--co-op, gymnastics, CrossFit, puppy management, etc.
  • We had our annual ATLOS Fall Picnic, and it is always lots of fun.
  • And then, Brendan landed a new job! A fantabulous job with a shorter commute, better benefits, a good fit for his skills. He'd really only been looking hard for a few weeks; maybe a month. 
  • His old job was soul-sucking and he was SO HAPPY to leave it. Only he hasn't completely left it--they never bothered to have anyone learn his (unique) job during the three years he was there (during which he only ever received one raise), so they have retained his services via Red Top Software (his freelance company) at quite a high rate per hour. :D (Though the downside is that he is spending all of that time he's saving with the new commute doing work for the other company.)
  • During the lull in between jobs, we were going to stay here and work on house projects. And probably that might have been the sensible thing to have done in most respects.
  • But instead, I asked one of my lovely friends to keep Penny for a few days, arranged to have the kitty boarded, and we took ourselves down to Orlando for a very very quick Disney World trip. Because that's how we roll.
  • I finally got a leather jacket and yes, leather jacket ownership is really all it's cracked up to be!
  • On the weekend of the 27th/28th, I took the CrossFit Kids course and I'm now a CrossFit Kids trainer, too!
  • Also on the 27th, Kelly and I took Morgan and Livy to see the US Olympics gymnastics team perform. It was amazing. Really lots of fun, especially because I did something just like that when I was a kid (saw Nadia Comaneci!).
  • We had a Halloween bash here, kind of. Actually the kids went to a neighborhood down the road, because our new neighborhood is so spread out that it's a lot for the little ones to walk. We had some of our new neighbors here, too, and it was nice to get to know them a bit better.
  • This was the month Brendan became obsessed with stilts, having acquired a set for his Halloween costume (Hagrid). Who knew it would become a Thing?




November

  • This was one of my most consistent months for going to CrossFit, and it was kind of awesome. I love when I can get there as often as I want to, and I try not to beat myself up when life interferes with those plans.
  • I learned about CrossFit Endurance and started adding interval training to my weekly routine. It made a difference, quickly, but I dropped it in December due to illness and schedule conflicts. Hoping to pick it back up again soon.
  • Brendan took the older kids on a camping trip with friends nearby. Sean, Penny, and I went up there for the s'mores and campfire, but returned home to our warm house and soft beds.
  • We had a party here for my 42nd birthday. I'm now the Answer.
  • My sister came for Thanksgiving, and it was one of the most relaxed fun Thanksgivings I've ever had. And I learned how to make dates stuffed with almonds wrapped in bacon (actually, that's the recipe, heh).
  • My sister, Morgan, and I ran/walked the Gobble Jog in Marietta on Thanksgiving morning. Morgan was super proud of finishing!
  • We discovered a park nearby that is wild and open and full of trails. It's super awesome.
  • I feel like there was more to November, but really, all I remember is a lot of running.




December


  • On December 1, we had our annual ATLOS Reason's Greetings Holiday Party. I dressed up fancy (not normally my thing), the first of 5 (FIVE) formal holiday gatherings for us. 
  • Other holiday parties: CrossFit Kennesaw, Brendan's new company (AMAZING, truly), some friends of ours, and then just last week, Kelly and Miranda and Livy hosted a Geek Christmas party, which was my favorite, I think. I actually wore a costume, if you can believe it (REALLY not normally my thing). I was Zoe Washburne (currently my profile pic on FB).
  • I also organized a mom's night out with some of my friends from homeschooling world. We really need to do that kind of thing more often.
  • I started doing practice classes for our new CrossFit Kids program (not all of the details have been formally announced yet, but email me if you want some information). SO MUCH FUN. It's going to be awesome. Really. :D Both Morgan and Ryan have enjoyed it a lot.
  • I attended a class about good running form at the gym and learned that, generally, I have pretty good running form. And I got some individual coaching to make it even better.
  • And I was sick for a lot of this month. :(
  • Morgan had her first official meet as part of the team program and did really well.
  • I discovered that I really miss writing about and talking about parenting (blog hiatus, sigh), so I started a Facebook group for Positive Discipline Objectivists. It's really taken off.
  • Our homeschooling routine is changing, too. We are doing more regularly scheduled activities here at home, and it should be interesting to see how this evolves in the future. 
  • Christmas was here, our first at the new house, and with lots of family! My parents drove from DC, and Brendan's mom, stepdad, and both brothers flew here. We did lots of family activities like watching movies (Uncle Tim introduced the kids to Men In Black) and baking cookies and, of course, running to the grocery store every two hours. 
  • Red Top Software has been doing well (see October) and we were able to get the kids an iPad Mini each for Christmas. It's been bliss, not having anyone ask to borrow my devices. This will play into some of our homeschooling routine, too.
  • Our year ended on a sad note. Ryan and Morgan and I had been out at CrossFit and the grocery store on New Year's Eve. When we got home, Ryan noticed our cat, Rhombus, was not acting well. We all gathered around her in the hallway and patted her some, and she did look awful. She jumped over Brendan's legs and ran downstairs. Things seemed semi-okay, so I popped in the shower for a bit. But by the time I got back out, she was gone. It was almost as if she was waiting for us all to be home and to visit with us for a bit before it happened. I guess she climbed up on her favorite box, and died. So it was quick. Needless to say, the last couple of days have been rough around here. It wasn't unexpected--she was nearly 17 years old, a pretty good run for a kitty. But still. Sigh.




What a year. One of my goals for 2013 is to reduce and eliminate unnecessary stress. I think not having to get a mortgage, deal with crazy people, or move to a new house will really help with that. See? Making progress already!

Also, can I tell you a secret (assuming anyone has actually made it this far)? I generally go through life feeling that I am unproductive. I know that this is not true--it's all here, the stuff I did, and I couldn't have done this stuff if I was a big old slacker. But this feeling of unproductiveness doesn't match reality, and so I'm going to work on that, too. And give myself a break--and time to relax, too. I'm generally pretty happy when I'm doing stuff and producing things, but I am going to work on being happy in those other times, too. :D

I hope your 2012 was a good one--maybe a bit less roller-coaster-y than mine, perhaps. And I wish you and yours a wonderful 2013. Can't wait to see what happens next!

PS. I was going to add lots of pictures, but I find I lack the motivation to do so just now. I might add some later. Otherwise, you can see a lot of them on the Facebooks.