Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Piano Lessons

When do you let your child quit something?  I'm having a hard time letting Avery (9) quit her piano lessons.  I know that she enjoys playing, but what she doesn't like is having to practice 15 minutes a day.  I personally don't think 15 minutes a day is that much, but it's like pulling teeth with her.  So maybe this means she doesn't really enjoy playing the piano?  She gets excited when she is assigned a new song.  She gets excited when she gets a new book with filled with many songs that she is familiar with.  But then it all goes downhill once she is asked to pratice.

She hates to "work" at something.  She has always been like this.  Homeschooling her has never been easy.  The thought of introducing a new concept to her keeps me awake at night...because I know what I'm in for.  She "shuts down" when something gets hard or slightly challenging.  If she doesn't understand something the first time...she wants to run.

What do you do with this kind of personality?  None of my other kids are like this.

At the age of 2 and a half, Avery could do a complete carwheel. She was so good at gymnastic-type stuff that when she was 4 we put her into a gymnastics class.  We wanted her to have fun and to learn some new skills.  After two years, she progressed into the harder class and it got a bit more challenging for her.  And then she quit.  She said she didn't like gymnastics anymore.  We didn't think much of it at the time -- she was just 6 years old, afterall.   We then put her in tennis lessons because she began to show an interest in that.  She loved tennis!  And she was so good at it!  Again, after about 2 and a half years of lessons, she progressed into the more challenging class...and she quit!  That fall she wanted to try soccer.  She did one season of soccer and had fun with the team.  But when the next sign up session came around, she did not want to play again. 

In the meantime, she has been taking piano lessons for almost two years..  At first she loved it!  But see...now it's getting hard.  The lessons are more challenging. And again, she wants to quit!

So this is her personality -- to quit things when they get hard.  Well...now that I recognize that this is her pattern, I can't let her stay like this...because life is full of challenges.  So I've told her that piano lessons are considered academic, like math and reading, and so she may not "quit" but has to continue her lessons. I have explained to her that I would like to see her stick with something and not quit when it gets hard.   She's not happy with me. 

She says, "I don't see why you make me to do something that I don't like."
and I answer, "I make you brush your teeth everyday, too.  It's just part of my job as your mom."
She says, "That's not the same."
I say, "It kinda is."
She says, "Okay, well I'm not going to practice.  You can't force my fingers to work the keys."
and I say, "Okay, well until you practice, just as it is with homework, you won't play outside with friends or have tv time or anything else fun."

Okay, so am I the meanest mommy ever?

When Afton took piano lessons, she played wonderfully for about 3 years.  But ultimately she decided that her club soccer commitments and school were enough for her, and she quit.  I was disappointed that she quit, but I let her.  Why?  Her reasons were different. She practiced a lot and without complaining. She enjoyed piano. She was just having a hard time balancing it all, and had to let one activity go.  I respected her decision.  Avery, on the other hand, seems to quit everything she starts whenever it gets the slightest bit hard for her.  It's just not the same.

I am all for letting them find what interests them..trying different things....but I fear by allowing Avery to quit everything as soon as it gets hard is setting her up for failure in the future.  She will be 10 years old in April -- is this too early for me to be concerned with?  Should I let her quit -- again??!!!  
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

To close or not to close...that is the question

I don't like watching scary movies.  I never have. They freak me out completely.  After seeing The Silence of the Lambs, I slept with the light on for about 10 days.  I am a wimp with scary movies.

When I was growing up, my best friend LOVED scary movies.  I used to work at a video store in my teen years, and she used to beg me to bring home certain horror movies so that we could watch them.  I always refused to.  Then one day, she guilted me into it by saying that we always watch the movies I want to watch and never watch the movies she wants to watch....whine, whine, whine.  And so, against my better judgement, I rented the movie she requested.  The title of the movie was The Evil Dead.


It was in the middle of the day on a Saturday when we popped the VHS tape into the machine and began to watch the movie. We were home alone in my house, just the two of us, sitting there in my living room.  The front door was just a few feet away from where we sat.  About three minutes into the movie, I got up and opened the front door.   I sat back down again, leaving the door wide open.

And then the debate started.  It went something like this:

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"I opened the front door."

"Yea, I saw that.  But WHY?!!" 

"Because,"  I said.  "it's safer."

"Are you serious?!!  No way!! You have to shut the door and close all the windows when you watch a scary movie!  Everyone knows that."

I said, "I have to have it open."

"What? Why?"

"Well...in case we have to run out of the house.  You know, you always see in scary movies how when they need to get out, the doors are locked or something and they can't get out...they are struggling with the door, in a panic...and that's when they always get killed.  So our door stays open."

"No, no, no...."  she argued. "You need to shut all the doors and windows!  You don't want the killer to get inside, do you?"

"Are you kidding me?"  I said. "Everyone knows he's already IN the house!  They always are!  So you need to keep the doors and windows OPEN so that you can get out quickly!  And also so the people outside can hear you scream and come to help. If the doors and windows are shut tight, how is anyone going to hear you scream?"

"Oh my gosh, no way...you're so wrong.  The door needs to be shut and locked!"

"Only at night."  I explained further.  "If you're watching a scary movie at night, then that's when you shut and lock the doors!  Because bad things are out there in the darkness.  But in the daytime, you need to leave everything open.  It's bright and safe outside in the daytime."

"You're crazy." She said.

Anyway, this argument went on for about 5 or 10 minutes.  I insisted that the door be left open.  I felt much  safer that way.  She, on the other hand, only felt safe if we locked ourselves up in the house.

In the end, we left the door open.  I pointed out that I didn't even want to watch this movie in the first place, so we should just do whatever it is that makes me more comfortable.  Also, I was the one who rented the movie.  And...by the way...my tv, my house.  (yep, I pulled that card eventually.  I had to!  She left me no choice!)

And to this day, some 25+ years later, we will still argue the point.  I think I'm right and she thinks she's right.

So, which is it?  Door open or closed when watching a scary movie in the daytime? 
What makes you feel more safe?

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vacation 2010

We had an absolute blast on our vacation in Lake Mead. 
It couldn't have gone any better. 
The weather was perfect: nice and HOT with clear, blue skies. 
 It was awesome.   
At our campsite.  Check out the view we had -- so pretty!
We got the best campsite! It was a river view and there wasn't anyone on either side of us.
It was so quiet and peaceful. And so clean!
We will definitely be going back to this spot next year.

This was how pretty the lake was. Every single day. 
Gorgeous, isn't it? 
And it wasn't crowded.  I felt like we had the entire lake to ourselves.

We spent about 99.5% of our day IN the water.  It was so HOT there!

This is Aria, my two year old, jumping off the back of the boat. She's so brave!

Aria almost always fell asleep whenever we took a ride in the boat.

And here's A.J. making a typical A.J. facial expression. 
You have to know him to know what I'm talking about.

This photo shows how the drought has effected the water levels of the lake. 
The white marks on the mountian sides is where the water used to be.

 The captain of our boat! 
Rich actually would have preferred us get a deck boat
(they go much faster than pontoon boats!) 
but I was perfectly content with the speed of the pontoon. 
 I was in no hurry to get anywhere!

I don't quite know what it is about this picture that I love...
oh yes, it must be Rich, my handsome husband!

Rich points out the Hoover Dam

A.J. with the Hoover Dam in the background

In the water again! 

Rich's mom had fun floating around....Go Grandma Bernie!

We found a few coves and dropped our anchor for a while.

We were mostly all alone in the coves...except for this one goat who hung around to watch us swim.

Rich relaxing on the front of the boat

Time to eat!  Rich with his famous little grill that goes everywhere with us!

Afton & Aislynn

Audriana & Aria

Me at a viewpoint near our camp

And here is one of the few photos that Rich took! 
Yay, I'm actually in a group shot! 
 See?  They do have a mommy afterall...there I am! 
(I know you moms out there can relate)

The kids got along great on this trip and kept telling us that they were having so much FUN.  They asked quite a few times when we were coming back...so we've decided to make this an annual summer trip :)  

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I'm Falling Apart

I have a pinched nerve in my neck. I'm telling you, that's the worst. I'd rather have a sore muscle because then someone can at least massage it for you, or heat pads can help, or warm water. But I don't think that there is anything you can do for a pinched nerve, except maybe being adjusted by a chiropractor. So for the past two days I haven't been able to turn my neck too far without pain.

Then there is my left knee. It's out of commission. Three days ago while walking in the house I turned to the left while my foot still pointed straight, and I slightly tweaked my knee. It didn't hurt just then, but I could tell that wasn't a good move. Sure enough, later that night...pain. The next day, same thing. It hurts to walk on, so never mind jogging. There goes my exercising routine! I'm so beyond bummed about that! Now I have to wait until my knee feels better before I run again. GREAT! It makes me so bummed. What am I supposed to do for my 20 minutes of cardio exercise now? If anyone has any ideas, let me know.

What's the deal with my bodily injuries? I fee like I'm falling apart, and right when I was feeling so good. It's just bad luck, I'm sure. I hope!

On to better news....

We are going to Lake Mead soon -- I'm excited about that! It's so pretty there! I will take a lot of pictures. It's going to be super hot out there, though. I'm happy we have a motorhome to sleep in. We can run the AC and it should be cool enough.

Today me and some of the kids helped Rich with a side job that he has. He is working on a house in our town....taking off all of the wallpaper and then painting the walls with fresh paint. What a job! Has anyone out there taken off wallpaper? All that glue! It's crazy! Rich was thankful for all the helpers. We tore the paper down while he worked on getting the glue off. The little ones were busy picking up all the shreds of wallpaper off the floor and putting it all in a trash pile. Some of the kids were busy wetting the walls down which helps loosen up the second layer of the wallpaper (the layer with the glue). It was quite the family affair. I only wish I had taken photos!  I missed a photo opportunity!   That's not like me.  I'm slack'n.

Here's a cute photo of Avery and Aria.  I love this photo because the American Girl doll is wearing overalls and so is Aria.  They looked like little twins :)

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

My Bum is Bum'n but My Feet are Run'n

Yesterday I had a riding lesson. It was the first time I've ridden a horse since I got pregnant with Aria, so it's been well over two years.  I'd say my first day "back in the saddle" went fairly well....except I couldn't keep my feet in the stirrups. The reason?  I was in my tennis shoes instead of my riding boots.   My riding boots are lost somewhere in our garage.   Here is how that happened:

About a year ago, my brother-in-law (Rich's brother, Phil) volunteered to clean out and organize our garage.  Yes, you read that right: he volunteered. I know what you are thinking....who would volunteer for a job like that?  Well, you don't know my brother-in-law.  He's borderline ADD and cannot sit still. Plus, he's a clean-freak.  One day while he was over here visiting, he looked in our garage and said, "How can you guys find anything in here?"  and I shrugged my shoulders and said, "We don't."  which is the truth enough.  (we waste more money buying things that we already have just because we can't find them in our garage.)    Phil shook his head is disgust. The next thing I know, he's pulling out all our stuff from our garage, placing everything on our driveway, and then putting it all back in new places.  It took him almost the entire day, but our garage looked SO NICE when he was through with it! 

Uncle Phil with Andrew & Aislynn in 2007

We really appreciated all the work he did....except now, a year later, I have no idea where my riding boots are.  When I asked Phil where he thought they might be, he said this:  "WHAT?  That was over a year ago...I don't remember where I put everything!"

And so, we've looked and looked but can't find them anywhere.  I'm quite sure they are high up in the rafters, in some random plastic container.  Ugh.  I hate to go out and buy new ones....but I have a riding lesson next week, and there is NO WAY I'm wearing tennis shoes again.  No way.  So either we find them before next week, or I'm going to have to buy new ones.

Anyway, back to the lesson: 

I started off riding at a walk in the round pen. Nice and slow.  I was on Goldie, a sweet 5-year-old quarterhorse, who is the BEST horse for taking a lesson on. She's mellow and very gentle....very different from my fiesty 6-year-old Arab, who jumps and spooks at just about everything.

My horse Shay, looking out from the round pen
I rode Goldie at a walk in the round pen for a few laps, and then came the part that I was secretly fearing:  the trot.   The reason for this fear?  I was afraid for my pubic bone. Ever since Aria's birth, I've had pain there.  She was born facing upwards, and her little chin hooked onto my pubic bone on her way out, and it popped! and separated.  At the time, it didn't hurt.  I didn't even feel it happen.  But...in the days, weeks, and months following her birth, I had such pain whenever I did anything slightly exerting - such as walking up stairs, walking at a fast pace, walking for long periods of time, or standing for long periods of time.  Even carrying something slightly heavy would hurt me. I had to see a chiroprator for a while so that I could be readjusted.   It's only been about 3 or 4 months now that I haven't been feeling that pain anymore, so I'm guessing I'm healed.  Finally!  I heard it could take a long time to heal...but I never guessed this long. 

Anyway, so I was worried that the bump! bump! bump! of trotting might hurt me.  Thankfully, it didn't!  I had about an hour lesson, and everything went well.  Yay!  But of course...today my inner thighs and my bum are so sore!  I'm walking like...well, like I just got off a horse.  No surprise there, I guess, since it had been so long since I've ridden.  Hopefully with each lesson it will get better.

I keep forgetting to blog about my decision to lose some of the extra weight I've been carrying.  I was reluctant to mention it on my blog, but the more I think about it, I'm thinking... why not?  I could use the extra accountability.  So here's what's going on with that:

About two weeks ago, I made the decision to lose 25 pounds.  Before then, I only  wanted to lose 25 pounds.  There's a huge difference between "wanting" to do something and "deciding" to do something, by the way.  Wanting is just a wish, and it doesn't carry much value.  A decision, on the other hand, is more like a committment. It is much stronger and more powerful than a mere wish.

Deciding to do something and committing to it is an important step in reaching a goal, but it is not enough. The next important step is to make some sort of a plan on how you are going to  carry out or accomplish what you have decided to do.  Without a plan, most goals will usually fail.  Why is this?  Well, it's just like going on a road trip without a map. Say, for example,  you decide to drive to New York. If you don't look at a map, you won't know which route to take, and you will eventually get lost. And once you get lost a few times, you will want to give up and  go back home.  A plan is like a map. It tells you what route to take towards your goal. 

I have chosen to run. I plan on running every single day for at least 20 minutes. I have never been a runner, but I've always wanted to try it. My friend Marie runs miles, and I've always admired her for that (she also has a husband, 3 young children, and is going to school to get her degree. I don't know how she does all that, but she does!)

I've been told that running is one of the best and fastest ways to burn calories. So for the past 7 days, I've been running (jogging) for 20 minutes each day.  The first few days I had to run for a few minutes, and then walk for a few minutes, then run, then walk, then run, then walk.  I could not run the entire time.  But now, after just 7 days, I'm happy to say that I can run almost all of those 20 minutes! I walk maybe about a minute or two at the very beginning of the run.  For some reason, I get tired at the very beginning of the run.  That seems so odd to me.   (To those runners out there, is this unusual?  I sort of get into a groove after about 5 to 7 minutes into it, and then I feel like I could almost run forever, even though my heart is pounding and I'm sweating and breathing hard...I don't really feel like stopping. But those first 5 to 7 minutes...I feel like I'm dying! and need to stop frequently. I really have to push through those first few minutes. I feel like quitting only in those first 5 to 7 minutes.  Is this happening just because I'm new at this? or is that the way it is for everyone, no matter how long you've been running?  I remember back in high school when I swam on the swim team, it was the opposite feeling for me.  I got tired only after I'd been swimming for a long time, not at the beginning of a swim.)

Okay, so back to the weight loss: How did I come up with 25 lbs as being my target weight loss?    Looking at me, it might not seem that I would need to lose that much.  But when you are tall, the extra weight has more room to stretch out.  It has a way of hiding. We tall people are lucky that way, for appearances sake. But believe me, that extra weight is there. I can see it, and more importantly I can feel the effects of it. I don't like it. I would be healthier and have much more energy if I could lose 25 lbs.   That would put me at just the right weight for my  height.  I know this because I've checked:

5' 09":          130-140 (small frame)              136-151 (medium frame)                          145-164 (large frame)

I am 5'9" tall...and my frame is somewhere between small and medium.  But yet my current weight falls in the "large frame" catagory, and so that needs to change.

Two weeks ago  I was at 165. Today, I'm at 162.  So I'm pretty happy that what I'm doing is apparently working. It's not much of a loss,  but it motivates me to keep doing what I'm doing.  I've only been running for 7 days, but I started eating better and cutting back on sweets two weeks ago after I made my decision to lose the weight.  I realize it took me many months to put on this weight, and it's going to take time for it to come off.  I'm not planning any drastic crash diets or anything.  Those never work in the long run.

According to the weight chart, I figure I should be at 140 lbs.  That is right between the small frame and the medium frame.  Perfect weight for me.  I look my best when I'm 140-145 lbs.  I feel my best at that weight, too.  I was that weight before I had Aria, so I'll get there again.  It's harder this time around, though.  My age!  I'm blaming my age and the slowing of my metabolism.  I used to shed the weight after a pregnancy so easily.  Most came off in that first month just from the breastfeeing.  But it's true about what they say once you hit your 40's -- your metabolism slows.  I thought it would never happen to me!  But it has!  Darn!

So my goal is 140.  I'll be excited when I reach 145.  But 140 is what I'm aiming for.

I asked my friend Su for advice on how to shed the weight. Su has 5 kids and is expecting her 6th in November, and she is just about the fittest person that I know.  I admire her so much!  She doesn't diet, she just lives healthy, eats healthy, and exercises.  I love Su, and here is what she suggested for me: 

.....as for working out, pilates is the fastest quickest way to get a lean body. Get a video, and do some type of cardio for 20 min everyday, followed by pilates. 20 min cardio is all you need. But muscle is what burns calories for you all day long. Pilates creates natural muscle tone. No bulk. Its easy on your body and you see the results. Running is tough, but you will melt off the extra fat very quickly if you get into a 20 min running routine daily.....

So this is why I started running each day. I still need to incorporate the Pilates into my daily routine.  I have a DVD here somewhere (probably in my garage!)  and once I start doing that in addition to the running, I'm hopeful that the pounds will start to come off quicker.

In addition to the running that I've been doing, I have also been very careful about what I'm eating.  That's much harder for me, actually.  I have a serious sweet tooth and not much will power when it comes to resisting ice cream, cake, candy, etc.  So I struggle with that.  But these last two weeks since I've decided I'm going to lose 25 pounds, I've done amazingly well with the food I choose to put in my mouth.  I've been doing my best to follow what my friend Su says about eating:

"About detoxing....I did it 4 months in a row [one week out of every month]. It changed my metabolism completely and I was probably the healthiest I had ever been. One time does not do it. It starts the process, but your colon needs major cleaning. We have no idea how many toxins we actually take in. My second suggestion is to eat all day long. Little bits of something every 30 min. or hour. Veggies if possible. Celery, cucumbers, cooked broccoli, fruit, almonds, piece of lunch meat, string cheese, non fat cottage cheese, etc...when you crave something yummy, eat fat free sugar free chocolate pudding with fat free cool whip and strawberries. Just some ideas, but your metabolism needs a jump start again."

I included what she says about detoxing because that is key when you are trying to lose weight.  You need to do that first.  (I mentioned detoxing in one of my posts a few weeks ago.)  I am going to do another 7-day detox  starting this Sunday.  Both Su and I do the Arbonne 7-Day Detox.  I am partial to Arbonne's products because I've been a consultant since 2006, and I really trust their products.  They are a Vegan-certified health and wellness company that has been around for over 30 years.   I aslo use their anti-aging skin care - that is what first hooked me (the stuff works! I don't look a day over 20, right? haha)    Anyway, there are other detox products out there, and I'm sure some really good ones, but I can't vouch for them because I have never used them.  But I do suggest before you start a weight loss plan that you first detox.  It should be the first step.   Detoxification mostly involves blood cleansing by way of eliminating impurities from the blood in the liver, through kidneys, lungs, intestines, lymph and skin.  When your energy levels are very low, it is time to detox your body. 

Okay, so now that I've shared my weight loss plan and put my weight out there for everyone to know, I will give an update every now and then to let you all know how I'm doing! 

Wish me luck!

Oh, one last thing:  the BEST part about the running is that Audriana and I can do this together!  She has been looking for a way to exercise.  Because of her disability, she is limited on what activities she can use for rigorous exercising.  She can do almost anything a little bit, but not well enough to exercise.  (for example, she can swim, but cannot use the right half of her body to actually do strokes in order to do laps for exercise.  She can hit the ball for tennis, but cannot run quickly to return the ball if it is not hit directly to her.  She can ride her 3-wheel bike, but not fast enough to work up a sweat...things like that.)   But...she can JOG perfectly well!  She walks with a limp...but when she jogs she has no limp!  And she can keep up with me, or rather I can keep up with her!  And so this has been great for us.  It's something that is just ours, you know, and it's special.  We both look forward to our runs everyday. 

I really like running.  It clears my head, and it feels good.   They say once you do something every day for 40 days it becomes a habit.  Is that true?  I've never tested it.  I want running to be my daily habit.   I hear people say it's addicting, like you start to crave it everyday.  I am not to that point yet.  I don't crave it.  It's hard work!   (believe me, if you could burn calories by sitting at the computer all day or lying on the couch reading a good book, those would be my choice of weight loss activities before running would be!)   But even though at this point I don't actually crave the running,  I do enjoy it once I'm out there, and I feel super good once I'm done with my 20 minutes.  And that's reason enough to make me want to do it the next day, too!

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Toys, Cement Pads, and Puzzles -- Oh my!

Aria got a new toy in the mail the other day.  It was a birthday gift from her Auntie Kelly & Uncle Rick.  Of course, before she could play with it herself, Aislynn had to "show her" how to play with it.  After a while, Aria got pretty impatient with her.  The look on her face in the photo below says it all.
Can I just play with my new toy, already?  Sheesh!

So Rich has been promising to pour a cement pad for Aria's new playhouse (so that we can get if off the lawn)  and today I called him out on that promise.  I won't say he was thrilled.  He smiled and said, "Yea, I can do that."  but inside I could just hear the groan. And I hated to do it.  But here's the thing:  the man is very handy. I seriously don't think there's anything he can't do or fix around here. We have a list 5 feet long of all the things he's supposed to  improve or fix in our house and yard...  but does he ever get to it?  No.  And this isn't because the man's lazy.  Far from it!  Rich is up at 5:30 washing our cars, making breakfast, taking the kids on bike rides...he never just lays around.  He is FAR from lazy, but he is a MAJOR procrastinator.  He would much rather do the fun things than the hard things. (who doesn't?!!)    So with this husband of mine...Good intentions?  Yes.  Results?  Ummm, not so much.  Unless I push it.  Like I did today.  I had to say, "Well...yea that sounds fun to go to the pool today...how about we do that AFTER you pour the cement pad?"  He got the hint.  He gave me the stink-eye, which I ignored completely.   People, I'm telling you, if I don't push it, things will never get done.  I don't like playing the nag, really I don't.  But sometimes I just have to wear that hat.  :::: sigh ::::

The result? 
The pad got poured. 
We can set the playhouse on it tomorrow. 

Alex shares the joy with me.

We've been doing puzzles lately.  Avery started it with her American Girl  puzzle.
She worked on this puzzle by herself for about 3 days, on and off.  Finally, Alex came around and thought it might be fun to help.  This is what happened with that:
See the blurred hand in motion?  Hitting and pushing followed this first slap. Seriously, it started a big-time war between the two.  There were puzzle pieces flying and everything.  I had to put the camera down and break it up.  (see? my kids aren't angels. this proves it.)   In the end, a few tears of frustration were shed (I won't say from who)  and so...I found Alex a puzzle of his own.  Then all was peaceful in the house again.

His puzzle had about a million pieces (okay, just 1,000...but still) and so after about 20 minutes he invited Audriana to join him.  It was a Twilight puzzle, and  Audriana couldn't resist.  She's a huge fan.

I'd say they worked on it for about an hour...and then quit.  It went back in the box for another day. Not everyone has the patience, afterall.

Avery, on the other hand, perservered ....and was very proud of her accomplishment!
I'm so glad I took a picture...because the very next day Aria came along when no one was watching and completely destroyed it.  Avery was crushed  (and angry at her baby sis, but more angry at me for not guarding her puzzle better)  but you know, it was bound to happen.  I mean, with a two year old in the house, we were lucky to have the puzzle out for the 3 days it took Avery to put it together.  I think I did a pretty good job guarding it.  But after a while, once it was complete, I'll admit that I let my guard down...and that was when Aria got to it.   (The thing was right out on display in our living room!    I mean, come on....was I supposed to stay in that spot for hours everyday, guarding it?)  I told Avery that next time she can use my office to build her puzzles.  That made her feel a little bit better :)

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