Thursday, October 06, 2016

Becoming a derby girl...

Six months ago, at the age of 42, I decided it might be fun to try roller derby. I've been fascinated by the sport for years. Ever since I saw a photography display showing side by side images of women in their derby persona and then in their everyday lives. I was hooked. For my birthday one year some girlfriends and I went to see a bout. We were green; to the point that the bout started and we had no idea what was going on. Furiously we googled to figure out the basics!

This spring by chance I met a woman who had done derby for a few years and was a coach. We chatted about it for a bit and she told me how much she loved it and how she was still involved as a coach. She encouraged me to check it out. A few days after that conversation I discovered that the league near me was holding clinics for anyone who wanted to learn. Participants didn't even need to know how to skate. The one requirement was that a person needed to have full gear. Helmet, mouth guard, elbow, wrist and knee guards, and of course skates. So I borrowed what I could, collected what I had, and used a gift card to purchase what I didn't, and one evening went off to give it a try.

The ability and age of the skaters varied greatly and I did not feel too out of place. I will add that it's not like I rolled off the couch of inactivity to do this. I am in fairly good physical shape from lifting weights regularly and biking year round. I am also short and have big feet so my balance is quite stable. I have also been skating in some form most of my life. While I have never played a game type sport I do have some natural athletic ability. So long as there aren't balls involved!

The clinic itself was 2 hours long. I loved every minute of it and was hooked. We spent the majority of the time working on basic skating skills and as the clinics progressed we worked on developing those skills and gaining confidence as skaters. At the end of the summer were tryouts. I had decided to try out because really, I didn't have any reason not to. The league has a rec league that people of all abilities can skate in if a person isn't chosen to skate on a team and I figured if I didn't make it through tryouts I would just skate in the rec league for fun. But through lots of practice and hard work I got better and better and was able to pass the minimum skills test and be eligible for the draft. This works essentially like any sports team draft. The captains scout the bootcamps and pick which players they'd like for their teams. And I got drafted! It was quite exciting. Our rookie group ranges in age from 18-43. And our league age ranges from 18 to a few people in their 50s.

It has been such an amazing experience to be part of a group of strong, athletic, supportive women. It feels a lot like being in a sorority felt but with a lot less drama. We have common goals and are supportive of each others success and struggles. And the veteran skaters all recognize that we are rookies and they were rookies once too. So when we look like a shit show, they've been there!

Currently I am taking a reformer Pilates class and I was talking to the other woman in my class about derby. She told me that her granddaughter loves to skate. So I mentioned that there is a junior derby league for kids. Yesterday she told me her granddaughter would be attending and was so excited. Many of the women in my league participate in coaching and training the junior league (which is coed) and it is a wonderful place for young children to have access to strong female role models.

It is very important to me that my child and the children that I know be raised with the understanding that we all, male or female, black or white, rich or poor, can accomplish great things. Anything that we set our minds to and work toward.

These are photos taken from our rookie scrimmage. Photo credit to Wijadi Jodi who takes all of our photos and makes us all look good! 

Monday, October 03, 2016

Oh Look! It's still here...

After 2 1/2 years my blog is still here! A quick recap of the last 2 1/2 years.

I worked full-time.

Six weeks ago I decided that was not working out. So I quit. I know it sounds impulsive. I know LOTS of people work full-time and raise way more kids than I have. However, I left teaching (10 years ago) to stay home with Owen. But I always worked some. The older he got and the more he was in school the more I worked. In 2014 I was presented the opportunity to move into a new role at work and I took it. But it turned out to be more (time) than and less (fulfillment) than I wanted. It was a hard decision. I worked for a great company and with great people, who I miss a lot. But I have not regretted one bit, the decision to leave.

I now am able to be here to walk Owen to school and be here when he gets home. I am going to be doing some substitute teaching in the district we live in, at Owen's school when there is available spots. And some other odd jobs for friends.

I am also going to try and help my sister take care of my mom. She was diagnosed several years ago with Corticobasal Degeneration. Or Primary Progressive Aphasia. She's been to see a couple of neurologists and I'd venture a guess that if we took her to another there would be another diagnosis. Diseases of the brain that are not cancer are difficult to diagnose. Only recently has a blood test been developed to detect Alzheimer's. But that doesn't work for the type of disease my mom is experiencing. She's 63. I'll just leave that to sit for now. It's as shitty as you imagine it to be.

I think that's enough writing for today. It's a start. 

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

This week...

We are all SICK! It started with O waking up with a cough on Saturday morning. The morning of his birthday party. I thought about  cancelling but I knew he wouldn't go for that. What 8 year old would!? So we soldiered on and he had a good day, although I could tell he was tired. For his party he invited his schoolmates over and we had a minion party. O and Morgan created a great obstacle course and the weather was so nice the kids were able to spend most of the time outside. We kept it low key with just cake and ice cream and games. Here is the minion cake I made for him.
When I asked O what his favorite part of his party was he replied, " the presents." When I asked what his second favorite part was he replied, "my minion cake. And it was even better because you made it for me." Aw, that made it all worth it. Even though he's 8 now he's still my snuggle bug. Subsequent parties are going to need to be a little more low key. Or directed by someone else. These kids get crazier every year.

Monday was O's actual birthday (yes, he's a Cinco de Mayo baby!) and he was feeling a little blah that morning but he went to school anyway. After he got off the bus he told me his ear hurt really bad which I figured could only mean one thing, an ear infection. So we headed off to the minute clinic. O has only had one ear infection before, which was only 5 months ago. I thought children mostly had these when they were younger but apparently not Owen. The wait was long at minute clinic and Owen was convinced he was dying. He has his father's flair for the dramatic. He was whimpering and crying and carrying on and I did my best to comfort him while we waited. Fortunately Morgan was on his way home so he grabbed the ibuprophen and brought that over to us. That made a huge difference. Basically it brought O back from the brink of death. By the time we go in to see the NP he had made an almost complete recovery. Except for the actual infection of course. We were able to get antibiotics and get out of there in under 3 hours. Just the way to spend an 8th birthday. Here is O on the brink of death.
He actually took this after he was feeling better but it's a pretty accurate portrayal of what was going on during his throes of pain. He's had more (perceived) near death experiences in his 8 years than anyone I know. Sometimes they've happened twice in one day. I honestly don't know how he manages. It's not that I'm not sympathetic, okay, it is that I'm NOT sympathetic, I'm not very empathetic either. Nevermind, being a child is very traumatic and it's amazing that any of us make it to adulthood. I try my best to be patient and kind and I must do a decent enough job because he seems fine and I don't drink hardly at all. When we were heading home for the evening after dinner at Culver's we drove past the clinic, Owen pointed at it and said in all seriousness, "that is where I faced my death tonight."

Since Owen developed his cough (a nasty one) and ear infection Morgan has come down with some crud too and I have a head cold and sore throat. I'm hoping we can throw open all the windows this weekend and air out the house to get rid of all the germs. I might wipe every thing down with bleach too!

All the illness has distracted me from dwelling on Owen turning 8. EIGHT! Every year I marvel at how we got here. Not because of the near death experiences but because it just goes so damn fast. One of my co-workers was talking about her daughter having her senior pictures taken in a few weeks and was showing me the photographers website. Which was filled with senior photos. While they were all amazing I told her I couldn't look anymore. Some day Owen will be that age and I just can't think about that. Or senior pictures. Or anymore near death experiences. I try to take one day at a time. Moment by moment and enjoy them as best I can without looking so far down the road that it makes me weep.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

One week later...

It's been a week since I assembled the terrarium and so far so good. There are water droplets on two of the plants and several of the cyclamen buds have opened up. Although I'm pretty sure even I have not killed a plant in the span of one week! 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Building a January!

Growing up my mom and grandma both had house plants and gardens. My grandma's house was like a greenhouse on the inside, and outside she grew vegetables and flowers throughout her yard. Plants and gardens and visits to greenhouses are a vivid part of my childhood memories. I think a large part of my grandma's success as a gardener was manure and neglect. She let nature do it's thing and it turned out beautifully. While these memories are fond I also remember at a young age resolving to never have a house full of plants like my grandma did because it was messy and a little unkempt. Despite this resolve I did foster several African Violets and English Ivy for the majority of time I lived in an apartment on my own and then during the first five years of our marriage. After Owen was born all of our plants eventually died. I guess it wasn't in us to keep more than one thing alive at a time. Over the last 12 years in our house we have had a variety of outside gardens and plants and the majority of them have died with the exception of the hostas, which were here before we were and can survive just about anything, two bleeding hearts and a mish-mash of bearded iris. Plants and gardens seem to require attention that I am not capable of giving. Mainly remembering to water them or in some instances not water them so much. Gardening also requires being outside in the summer to do the weeding and the watering which always involves bugs and sweat, two more things I don't care for.

So forgetting my history with the care and feeding of plants I decided it would be fun to jump on the terrarium trend. I have a vague recollection of my mom having one when I was very young and I've always loved the idea of them. Mainly because they are contained within something and not growing with wild abandon all over the place. They also, supposedly, require little attention. Another thing right up my alley.

Prior to building the terrarium I did a little research to find out what I would need to put in it to maximize my chances of success and which plants were best suited to being grown in a terrarium. I have an assortment of glass jars and hurricanes but nothing large enough for plants. Fortunately Crate and Barrel came to my rescue in the form of an e-mail featuring some lovely large jars. Owen and I settled on the 128oz Heritage Jar that has a wide mouth and seemed just about the right size for where I wanted to put it. Rather than wandering the aisles of Home Depot or Menard's gathering the ingredients for the jar I decided to go to one of our local floral and garden centers where I hoped they would be helpful and have all the things I would need. The one closest to us, which I prefer, is not open until April so I had to settle for the bigger chain one. That was both good and bad. Good, because when I went there they had a Build Your Own Terrarium or Mini Garden kit containing all the layers of stuff I needed and bad, because I didn't think their selection of plants was that great and some of them didn't have names on them and no one could seem to tell me exactly what one of them was. But because it was easier and convenient, I grabbed the kit and selected three plants for the terrarium. Normally I take Owen on these kinds of adventures but he was off getting a haircut with Morgan. And when I asked him if he wanted to go with me he said no. Owen isn't real big on leaving the house right now anyway!

The kit came with river rocks, sheet moss, potting soil and charcoal. The small bag in the front is the charcoal. The directions in the kit said to put a layer of charcoal 1/2" thick on top of the river rocks. The kit included about 1/4th cup of charcoal. Which would provide a 1/2" layer of charcoal if I were using a small jelly jar for the terrarium. I added all of the charcoal and am hoping for the best. The purpose of the charcoal is to keep the terrarium from smelling funky. At this point I felt like the people who designed the kit didn't read the directions. I have more than enough rocks, sheet moss and potting soil for a second terrarium but didn't have enough charcoal for even one!

 Here are the terrarium ingredients. The sheet moss is in the back.

I selected cyclamen, peperomia, and arrow plant. At least that's what I think the other two are called! They are about 2" tall.
1 1/2" layer of rive rocks.
1/2" layer of charcoal.
A layer of sheet moss.
This sheet moss is the natural equivalent of glitter. Once I took it out of the bag and started working with it, it was all over the place!
3/4"- 1 1/2" layer of potting soil.
And finally the plants.
The layers of stuff on the bottom and the plants in place.
The finished terrarium on the coffee table.
The directions said to spray it all with water after putting the plants in place. I did not do that for two reasons. I don't have an empty spray bottle right now and the plants were pretty much soaked when I brought them home so I thought I'd let that water dissipate in the soil and then check on them in a few days. Today one of the plants has water drops on many of its leaves so I think for now they are okay. We'll see how it goes. I think it looks nice on the coffee table in the living room, adding a little life in there. Along with the PVC fort and the Lego war that has been taking place for a couple of weeks now. When I mention it might be nice to put the Legos away I'm met with resistance from the republic so the war wages on. The millenium falcon is currently in Mama's Lego fix-it shop though because I stepped on it (OUCH!) in the middle of the night two weeks ago. I think a smattering of Legos laid out on the floor is probably a better deterrent for burglars than having a dog or a gun.

All in all this was a fairly inexpensive and easy little project. It probably only took about 30 minutes and would have taken less time had I not been photographing it at the same time. I may add a couple of small plastic dinosaurs just for fun!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Being faith-full...

There is a popular quote, by who I don't know, that goes something like, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." I saw it yesterday as, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle. Apparently God thinks I'm a bad-ass." I find this funny and not so funny for a couple of reasons. First, because bad-ass always makes me chuckle and second, because I used to believe the first sentiment to be a way to put into perspective the difficulties that have come up in my life journey. But as I've gotten older and dealt with more "stuff" I've started to look at it differently and maybe just not believe that statement at all. It's always fun to be a little bad-ass though.

Over the last several years I've felt not so full of faith. To be honest I've been rather pissed off at God. Some horrible things happened that I didn't think should have and I've blamed God for them. I feel like he wasn't listening to my and many other people's prayers and those prayers were not answered the way we wanted them to be. But I know I am not alone in my feelings and this happens all the time to people. We get all high and mighty about our faith. I believe in God. God will guide me. God will heal people who are sick because they are good people and this just can't happen to them.

And over the last several years of struggling with my glass half-empty faith I've come to realize some things about that quote and my faith and my journey.

  • God hasn't given us the "stuff" we are dealing with. The "stuff" happens. To everyone. Good people, bad people, faithful people and non-faithful people. Good people die. Bad people get away with murder. I do not believe God's master plan included my friend dying of cancer or her mother losing all of her children. I don't think his plan has the dates of natural disasters written in it. SHIT HAPPENS. And I think the biggest lie people tell is that it is God's will. No, it isn't. A lot of times it's the bad choices we make because we have free will. And many times it just that bad things happen. Not so we can struggle, not so we can suffer but just because.
  • God doesn't pick and choose who lives and who dies. People die because they get sick, or hurt or injured and the treatment they receive isn't enough, doesn't work or can't save them. We are human and we are fragile. But we forget that and blame God when we or someone isn't saved. 
  • The point of prayer is not to ask God for what you want and then expect to get it because you or others have asked for it. When I was in graduate school I had a class called Social Foundations of Education +Teaching Vocation & The mission of the Church and in that class we discussed and explored using prayer in education. One group did a presentation discussing the types of prayer and how to go about doing those with children. The five types of prayers were: blessing & adoration, petition, intercession, thanksgiving and praise. And our prayer can have direction either inward, outward or upward. Our inward prayer is transformative, our upward prayer helps establish, develop and strengthen our relationship with God and our outward prayer is in service to others through our actions. The only part that God plays is to listen. Prayer is our way to God and fosters our relationship with him. Along the way I forgot this. I didn't get what I wanted and I got mad. 
  • The bible is a guide and there is a lot of meaning in it but I don't think the important part is to believe that everything in it is the truth. Or in other words that it all happened the way it is written. The point of the story of Jonah is not that he was a guy who got stuck in a whale. The point is that he learned that God asked him to do something and Jonah learned to have the faith that with God's help and guidance he could do what was asked of him. 
  • God is here even if I don't hear His voice. And He sits with us through our joy, and sorrow. Lots of people talk about hearing God speak to them. I don't hear that. I have often thought that I was the hard soil that the mustard seed falls on or the deaf ears because I don't hear God's voice the way that other people claim to. But I have learned to see God in many things, especially science and nature. I find too many things to be so perfectly orchestrated that it can only be because of a divine hand. I don't think science and theology are at the odds that the media try to make them be.
  • God does not give up on us even if we choose to shut him out. I know my half-empty faith is my fault. I have not wanted to confront my own pain and grief over the loss of my friend and so I harbor resentment and anger toward God. But I know when I am ready that God is ready too. 
I have always believed that struggle is part of faith development and if one isn't wrestling with something; whether it's why bad things happen, or certain passages of scripture or something that is happening in one's life then growth and spiritual development aren't happening. And I guess it's probably time that I start wrestling again rather than being comfortable in my resentment and anger. I am after all kind of a bad-ass!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tuesday Tidbit...

I thought a fun little way to share some of my favorite tips, household and otherwise, would be with a Tuesday Tidbit post. So this is my first in a series (I hope). 

I love it when I find a way to reuse something. For a long time I've been keeping and collecting the rubber bands that come on produce like broccoli and asparagus. Because they are a little bit wider and heavier than a regular rubber band I have found them to be particularly useful for labeling water bottles. I use Sharpie to write Owen's name on the rubber band and it will stay put for quite some time. Because the bands are small and fit snugly he is not able to remove it easily.

My other favorite use is to put it around the edge of stuck jar lids. I discovered this one day when I was trying unsuccessfully to open a jar and the rubber jar opener thing we had was not helping at all. I began digging around for something else and decided to try one of the wide rubber bands. It worked liked a charm. On jars that I have a hard time with on a regular basis I just leave the band on the lid. If it's a smaller cap like salad dressing or something I just wrap it around twice and it works just as well!