Saturday, January 28, 2012

Vlog Preview

I am participating in my very first every Vlog Swap.

Which means I had to do my very first every vlog.

For anybody who doesn't know (hey, there might be somebody out there), a "vlog" is a "video blog." So, you get me in all my awkward glory.

Here are a few screencaps, just as a vlog teaser of sorts.

Good times.

I can tell this is going to be a hit.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Door-to-door judgment

This morning, the doorbell rang.

Sounds normal, but it's really not. Nobody just pops in around here. Every visit is scheduled, and most social activities are out. Out at a playground, out at a restaurant, out at a theme park. So, no, my doorbell doesn't ring often.

I pretty much assumed it was a book being delivered from Amazon.

Imagine my surprise when I open the door to see two middle aged men standing on my doorstep. I say hi, and they introduce themselves, Dan and Harold, or something like that. After they say their names, there is a full fifteen seconds of awkward silence while I wait for them to explain why they are on my doorstep. Eventually, the truth comes out: they are with the new ginormous Christian-non-denominational church that is being built a few blocks away and they want to meet all their neighbors.

I say, I've seen the church, it's beautiful, etc.

Then they ask the question I know that they are actually there to ask:

"Have you found the Lord?"

I almost want to chuckle at the overly-aggressive tone the man has in his voice as he asks it, because the accusation is so thick that it completely contradicts the words he is saying.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mind proselytizers. I understand where they are coming from; they have something in their life that they love and they want to share it with others. My religion, in fact, is famous for its proselytizing efforts. I am not annoyed by these men on my doorstep, nor am I annoyed by the women from another sect that come by my house every three months like clockwork.

But I am firm in my faith, I am happy with my religion, and while I am not annoyed by this attempt to convert me, I am certain that nothing he says will ever take me away from my church and into his.

So, I answer, politely and honestly:

"Yes. We've found the Lord"

In response to this, his eyes narrow and he asks sharply and, again, accusingly:

"Are you Christians?"

I am almost laughing at this point, for two reasons. One, I don't see how Christianity and this angry, accusatory tone can coincide with one another. Two, based on his attitude, I know exactly how he's going to react to my answer.

"Yes. We're Christians. We're actually Mormons."

Both men widen their eyes, tighten their lips into flat little lines. One of them takes a visible step backward, as though he doesn't want to "catch" my Mormonism. At this point, it takes most of my willpower not to laugh.

But then.

Oh, there had to be a "but then..." to this story, right?

But then, the man turns to my five year old son and says, "What about you? Have you found the Lord? Do you know Jesus?"

That's right. This man is trying to convert my five year old son to a different faith, right in front of my face, in my own doorway. I think this would bring out the mama bear in just about any woman. However, my son is on the autism spectrum, and he just doesn't speak to strangers. Ever. And being spoken to directly by someone whom he has not yet warmed to is pretty much the most horrifying thing he can imagine. So my son jams his fingers in his mouth, makes a weird squeaking noise, and steps back to hide behind me.

Then the men do the unthinkable.

They give me that look.

That pitying, disgusted look. As though I'm doing something wrong and contributing to this neurological disorder. The situation has stopped being funny and has now become an unpleasant experience that I want to end as quickly as possible. The thought of shutting the door in their faces crosses my mind, but I just can't bring myself to do it. Their next statement is thick with contempt.

"If you are ever ready to follow God's plan for you, you do what is in your heart, and you will know to come find us."

And he extends a small, yellow pamphlet toward me, his face still a mask of disdain, as though we are some infestation of autistic-Mormons. And then he and his friend turn away, too quickly, without waiting for any response, without so much as a "have a nice day" or "thanks for your time" or anything.

The irony: he is an immigrant, speaking in a thick and easily recognizable accent, and of a minority race. A man who has undoubtedly dealt with the small mindedness of others for many years is here, standing on my doorstep, judging my family and looking at my child as if he's an insect.

And the circle of judgment and small-mindedness continues, just being pointed in a different direction.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Weird things at the gym

Weird things I saw at the gym today:

1) A woman had her cell phone strapped to her arm, presumably to plug headphones into and listen to music with. However, she had (apparently) received a call at some point and decided to answer it (yes, while working out). She had her arm in the air and her head pressed against her bicep to talk into the phone while it was still in her armband.

2) Man in a scooter, scooting around from one machine to another- including the treadmill. Lift weights- stand up- sit on scooter- scoot five feet- stand up- sit on machine- lift more weights- stand up- sit on scooter...

3) There's a woman at my gym who is unmistakably a fitness competitor.  The tan, the teeth, the hair, all combined with an very, very, very defined and toned musculature, make it really obvious what she's doing. First, she wears sunglasses while working out inside the gym. Second, I've seen her leave the gym (go out the front door) and come back ten to fifteen minutes later. Turns out? She's taking smoke breaks.

Yes. She's taking smoke breaks from her workout.

And that was all in one day, folks. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yes, it really is that hard.

This might come as a surprise to some of you, but I struggle with my weight.

I know, shocking, right? I mean, hello! I'm in America (aka, the nation of over-eaters and restaurant diets), I had three babies in less than four years (that means I was pregnant for some part of every year for six consecutive years) and I am pretty dang busy (you know, grad school, homeschooling, church obligations, household chores, no big deal).

I'm not naturally heavy, but I do have a genetic makeup that makes me it difficult for me to lose weight. Before I was pregnant, it was simple to keep my weight under control. I wasn't skinny, but I was thin-healthy. After my first pregnancy, it took me 18 months to lose the baby weight, but I did lose it, keeping my body in a place where it hasn't been impossible to imagine being thin-healthy again.

And while I've struggled with my weight ever since then, I've been having some success recently.

Moderate success.

I overhauled my diet in October and kept up my gym habits, and I've lost 11 pounds. That's not exactly infomercial results, but it's moving in the right direction, and I can honestly say that I am down an entire pant size. Now I wear the size that I've been claiming to wear for the last two years.

I've always been a normal-healthy eater. You know, mostly healthy, but unafraid to include bacon and pasta and ice cream once in awhile. Veggies have always been present, but not the main focus. That kind of stuff. Well, I cut it ALL out. Completely. Now it's all whole grains, whole foods, natural foods, etc. It's inconvenient, to be sure, but it seems to be working. I'm losing weight, I get to eat and feel satisfied, and I feel good.

Amid this moderate success, I have a friend who is a total buzz kill. I love her, but I kind of want to knock her upside the head.

She's one of those naturally thin people. She's thin, but doesn't do anything to maintain it. And I am being completely honest when I say: I'm a little jealous, but mostly just happy for her.

I just don't appreciate when she pretends like her body and the way it works is the norm.

You know:

"My body just snapped back into place after my pregnancies. I don't know why people say it's so hard" *shrug*

"Oh my gosh! I switched my diet up, and I lost three pounds in one day!" (fast forward one day) "Wow! I lost another two pounds!" (fast forward two days) "Another two pounds down! I am loving this!"

Yeah. That's seven pounds in four days that she lost. It took me ten weeks to lose seven pounds.

In a recent conversation about healthy cooking, she recommended that I try cooking from the blog I checked it out. On the first page of posts, I saw bacon, shrimp, chocolate, butter, sauteing, chicken thighs (dark meat = fat), white rice, cheese, gravy and pasta.

I don't know about you... but I can't eat any of that stuff and expect to lose weight.

I told my friend this. Her response?

"Oh, well, the blogger uses the Weight Watchers system. I don't know if you're familiar with that or not, but I did it and lost 20 pounds on it. It lets you eat anything you want and still lose weight. Besides, everyone has a different definition of the word 'healthy'."

You see? This is where I want to smack her upside the head. Seriously, she's great, except for this one topic.

1) You think I haven't heard of Weight Watchers? Way to say "you're so fat, I assume you've never even heard of the most famous diet in the world."
2) For you to have lost 20 pounds, it had to have been immediately post-childbirth, so... I discount the validity of Weight Watchers in this conversation immediately.
3) I'm happy for you. I'm glad that you can eat bacon and gravy and chocolate and lose weight. It does NOT work for me.

I love that Risha, Melbs and Katie all came to my rescue on Twitter, reassuring me that maintaining a healthy weight IS hard, and some people need to be knocked around. Even if we love them.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Semester

You might not know this, but I am currently pursuing my Master's degree in Early Childhood Development and Elementary Education. Yeah, it's a mouthful. But, seeing as I'm homeschooling my kids and my undergrad word was in Business and Human Resources... yeah, I needed to go back to school.

Anyway, last semester was a total headache. I had two classes. One was statistics, which was interesting and useful for everyday life, but not really related to what I wanted to be talking about. The other was Home, School and Community Involvement.

First of all: In the course description, there was no comma. I thought it was about getting homeschooled students involved in the community. #PunctuationFAIL

Still, it was a required course, and I had to take it, no matter what the punctuation said and whether or not I found the content interesting. It turned out to be completely fascinating, but not in the way the professor intended, I am sure.

However, the main problem with the class was this: It was not a graduate-level course. Oh, it was labeled as such, but it just wasn't graduate-level rigor. We were expected to read the chapters and write "reflections" on said chapters every week.

I don't know about you, but every other college class I've been in has had the same definition of chapter reflections: Don't summarize, but tell me what you learned, how you felt, how this applies to your life, your work and other things you've read on the subject matter.

No, apparently this professor just wanted summaries.

That was the entire course load. Summarize the text book.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to get a good grade on my transcript and cross off a required course, but ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Sorry. I dozed off there. I mean, come on! This was basically high-school-level work, being given out in larger doses and called graduate work.


This semester is shaping up to be a whole lot better. I have three classes:

- The second half of that statistics class. Still not really "education" or "childhood" based, but she's letting us do our big research project (80% of our grade) on whatever we want, so that's good.
- Infant and Childhood Mental Health. We talk about babies. We watch videos of babies. And soon, we'll talk about toddlers. And watch videos of toddlers. My ovaries are raging. But I love it.
- Social Competency. We talk about helping children learn and develop social cognition and competency. Since my son has Asperger's, this topic is near and dear to my heart.

I think it's going to be a great semester.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

New TV

Just after Thanksgiving (late November, for my non-US friends), my three year old son broke our TV.

He was having a fit over not being allowed to watch it, and threw a toy train at it.

Good call, kid. Now nobody can watch it.

Since it was a LCD panel, the screen looked fine... until you turned it on. And then, from the impact point was a spiraling black web. From that web, long lines of red and white extended all the way to the edges of the screen. The parts of the screen that were viewable would only show red and black. Awesome.

Since we're doing the law school thing, there wasn't a lot of money laying around to replace it. Plus, I thought it was a good punishment to go without TV for a while. We had to wait until spring financial aid came in and Super Bowl sales were going on.

And, I will admit, while we were TV-less, I thought of all those people I've read about on blogs and in magazines, those people I've talked to at church and homeschooling groups... You know the ones... the ones who say:

"Oh, our dog chewed the cable to our TV and we just kept putting it off and putting it off, and finally we looked around and realized that we just didn't miss the TV! We don't even want it anymore, so we got rid of it!"


"When we moved, the TV screen was damaged and we couldn't afford to replace it. Two months later, when the money came it, we didn't even want a TV anymore. We feel so great to be free of it altogether!"


"When Jim-Bob lost his job, we got rid of cable. After a few weeks, we realized there wasn't really anything we wanted to watch. And after a few more weeks, we stopped even turning it on. I don't miss it, and I don't even know where my TV is anymore."

I fantasized about how maybe we would be one of those TV-less families forever. They always talk about how quiet and peaceful their homes are...




I don't know if it's because we don't watch a lot of it, and I certainly never leave it on as "background noise," and we only use it strategically throughout the day, but I definitely miss it. I let the boys play in the morning on the Wii while I get ready, then they watch a movie while I fix dinner and straighten up all the stuff that they aren't big enough to do, and maybe (maybe) if they're really good, and clean up really fast after dinner, they can watch a TV episode from Netflix before bed.

And I really need those breaks. Mornings without the Wii to keep the kids busy while I shower? CHAOS. Messes made, stuff broken, crying children, angry mommy. Cooking dinner without a movie to keep them out of the kitchen? DOESN'T HAPPEN. Two year old digging in everything, touching hot/sharp/dangerous things, kids trying to "help" and dropping food all over the place.

No. I am not virtuous enough to be without a television.

Judge all you want.

We replaced our TV tonight, and I cannot tell you how excited I am for my shower tomorrow morning. It's going to be uninterrupted, and there will not be Cheezits smashed into my carpet when I get out.

It will be epic.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I've been away...

I've been away for way too long...

But I've had good reason, I promise.

Do you remember my last post? About my grandmother? If you don't, don't worry, I'm not offended. In summation, she has cancer. A lot of cancer. And she's old and weak and probably not going to survive this. So, I decided to go back to Phoenix for the Christmas holidays to spend some time with her (and other family and friends as well, of course). Not to be entirely crass, but I would rather see her smiling and opening Christmas gifts than cold and... well... you know.

But now we are back and all settled in back at home in Florida.

For the time being.

You see, we (hubby and I together) made the life altering decision to move back to Phoenix when he finishes with law school. He graduates this May, which means we will be back in Arizona by the end of the year.


I've done the cross country move. Three times, actually. And only one of those times did it go as smoothly as we had hoped. So the odds are not in our favor that this move will go smoothly. But, the decision has been made, and that's that.


What new and exciting things are you all up to this New Year?