Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Grandma Visits & Ends Up Hospitalized

Grandma came in this weekend from Dallas to see Katie's show. The next morning, we were running out to Lakeway to take Katie to a class. We had stopped earlier to get coffee and all was well.  Grandma began to complain that her stomach was hurting, so we dropped Katie off and and were going to run over to the nearby Wendy's. Grandma's stomach pain grew more intense. She wasn't able to get out of the car. I started up the highway, thinking we would see some small Emergency Clinic or something. I called 911 to see if they could direct me to one. At that point, Grandma passed out. The 911 operator instructed me to stop driving, pull over, and they were sending an ambulance.  And that's what happened. Firetruck. Police car. Paramedics. Ambulance. All meeting us in the Valero parking lot. They had a hard time reviving her as her blood pressure was so low. She has a terribly low tolerance for pain. It looked like a possible vagal response.

They got her out of the car and into the ambulance. We all raced up the highway to Cedar Park Hospital. By then they had some fluids in her and she was conscious but confused.

Funny story. In the E.R., we had several different nurses. One was a volunteer fireman and ex-Marine. He was big. Early 30's.  Grandma made eye contact with me about him. He continued to talk to us and reach over her to adjust various tubes/wires. So Grandma says, "You have... nice arms." hahaha. We laughed. It spread throughout the E.R. I heard the others at the nurses station tell our nurse, "I don't know if we can ask him to do that...since he has such nice arms!" Then a smaller Asian nurse came in. He walked up very seriously to my mom and said, "So what's wrong with MY arms?? Thanks a lot!"

In the end, she was later diagnosed with ischemic colitis, anemia, mysterious syncopal episodes, and treated with meds and 2 Liters of blood transfusions.

She also has really bad Restless leg syndrome and that flaired up last night. So after multiple meds for that (none of which were really the correct ones...) she was up half the night with hallucinations, restlessness, etc.

But since her acute symptoms with the anemia and the colitis seemed to be resolving, she was discharged to our home this afternoon. She's still a little confused. I'm not sure how long she'll be here. If the confusion is primarily residual from all the meds last night, she'll be better soon. If not, we're looking at moving her down her.

She's 78.

oh yeah, she brought her dogs so I have 4 dogs here too!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Soul Revolution

I really believe that when you relax, you are so much more open to all the opportunities that await you. Whether you believe it's God or The Universe or I-don't-know-what... it just happens that way. At least for me.

After a couple of stressful weeks, I started this thing at our new church called Soul Revolution. The program asks that you let God speak to you every hour. A stopwatch goes off hourly, just to nudge me. At the time, I just think about....
  • Is what I'm doing the best I can do?
  • Am I open to God talking to me?
  • Am I letting God flow through me to whomever I'm interacting with?
  • I take a deep breath and remind myself to relax.
  • I remind myself that there is a larger plan. And, while I may not know all the pieces of it right now, I know that good awaits.
  • I take a moment and ask God to help my children feel loved, and confident, and totally protected. I know that when they feel these feelings, all their choices will be better and they'll simply be happier. And isn't that what every mom wants?

Somehow that just reassures me to breathe easier and stress level drops noticeably and immediately.

I'm starting to stop listing off all things I want God to do for me and instead, I'm trying to be still enough to hear what suggestions God might have for me.

It's an interesting journey.

Another thing about this is how we came to this.  It's always interesting to me how people are placed in our paths and we may not even KNOW why. Some friends of Alyssa went to this church and mentioned it to us. They're not people we'd necessarily expect to share similar spiritual ideas or philosophies. But still combine these people with a church we had never heard of.... divine intervention. Gateway turned out to be just the kind of church the girls and I needed. Add to that the fact that they were just starting this Soul Revolution program the week we started!! Perfect. Not surprising. :-)

I'm happy. It's different for us. But we like it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Texas State - OVERBOOKED!

Earlier, I wrote about Michael going away to college. Well, the "living in the dorms" part didn't happen. Texas State had a record number of students this year and in the first time in history were unable to house all freshman and sophomore students in the dorms, as is their rule. We were so bummed. This was going to be a big part of Michael's experience. Since he didn't know anyone, this would be a way to meet a lot of people. No sense in talking about all the reasons to live in a dorm, because it ain't happeninBut we adjusted and went down to San Marcos to look for housing for him. After consulting several real estate advisors, we settled on Cabana Beach Apts.

Cabana Beach Apartments looks like a resort! They have roommate matching and it's totally geared toward the college students. Friday night pool parties with free food from area restaurants, Wednesday night Wii games, shuttles to campus, etc. Hopefully this will all work out.

Michael just spoke on the phone today with his 2 roommates - Rob, a Senior majoring in International Affairs, and Clinton a Junior in Mass Communications (Radio/TV). I think it would have been better to have other younger roommates, but seeing these boys' majors reassured Michael that all will be well.

He moves in on Aug. 22nd. He's already told me that he'd prefer to just say his goodbyes here at the house, load his car, and head down there on his own.


OK. I can take it.

Roots and wings, right?
That's what we're supposed to give them.
Keep reminding me, ok?

I love this painting. I just found it on the web!
I might have to go BUY it!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sending Michael to College

Our experience with Michael and college isn't traditional. Not much about his upbringing was - so why start now, right?  Michael was just accepted to a 4 year University (Texas State) with no SAT test, no ACT test, and no formal studies as a child.

So how did this happen?

Michael was unschooled. At about 14, he thought he'd like to take college classes. So he did some of the workbooks from the Key2 series. Algebra wasn't coming up really in our day to day lives, so he worked on a few of those.

Then we found a website,, which offered free test prep. What i liked about it was that the program taught you FROM the answers you give. If you give the right answer, it showed the work (in case you guessed) and if you did the wrong answer, it showed where it *thought* you went offtrack. Overall, it was good.

We looked over a few spelling rules - he never really got very good at spelling, in spite of being quite a reader.

Don't read into this though. We often found something more exciting to do than work on these academic test preparations.  We suffered through a lot of guilt for not doing. We had uneasy feelings that this wasn't going to work because of a lack prep. But, we thought he should just press on and see what happens.

Michael took the Accuplacer test at Vernon Community College. He did fine on the math and reading but failed the Writing component.  The topics for the writing section are outrageous, IMNSHO. This one was about the "No pass, no Play" rule. He had never heard of it. So he ranted about why people should be able to do whatever they're good at, etc.

I hadn't shared the simple 5 part paragraph formula. I hadn't showed him that when you write a Persuasive Paper, you cannot find something good in the other person's position. He did that in the paper. It was more like how he would be if he were just talking to someone about the topic.  So, afterwards, we took at topic and I showed him how to work that formula. Then he tried an example. Then he took the test the next week and passed. That was it.

Plain and simple.  Thus began our path to college.

He took a few classes that Spring. More at Austin Community College once we moved, always being sure to choose transferable classes. He did really well in the classes - and even got an A in English Composition!

Then, after completing 30 hours in community college, he was accepted as a Transfer Student to Texas State University.  He'll start in Fall '08, live in the dorms, etc.  I'll keep you posted!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Daily Groove

I read an email each morning from Scott Noelle. He writes about a different way of parenting. You can subscribe to his daily email. He has 365 days of them!  It's called The Daily Groove.
I really liked today's thought.

Be Unreasonable

When parenting becomes stressful, notice what you're thinking. You'll discover that you have a "good reason" for your stress:
  • I'm worried because ___________.
  • I'm angry because ___________.
  • I feel guilty because ___________.
When you have a good reason to be stressed, the fastest way to release the stress is to let yourself be UNreasonable.

Why? Because it's more important to feel good than to be "right."

Why? Because good feelings are your Emotional Guidance telling you you're aligning with your Authentic Self.
So being unreasonable is actually quite reasonable! :)

Does this mean ignoring things that need attention? Not at all. It just means you've realized that there is no reason good enough to justify sacrificing your peace.

Your connection to Well-Being is always more important.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Who will teach my children to read?

Reminds me of The Little Red Hen....who will help her? She did it herself.

So often people wonder how will a child learn to read if he/she has no teacher to teach them? I can only share how MY children learned to read. Each of them differently...

For Katie, if we were writing a book,  the title would be "K is for Katie and KMart. " She wasn't that chatty in the car (and we seemed to be in the car alot) We read street signs. And store signs. And signs around displays in grocery stores. All signs, really. And, when they were little, they liked to look for signs that started with same letter their name started with. Like K is for Katie and KMart! We modified it into games, thinking of rhyming words that "go with" the word on the sign. Then you have to look around to find it. Later, they'd quiz me too!

Alyssa, as the 3rd child, was easily frustrated that she couldn't do a lot of things the others could do. She was the latest reader at our house. I guess she probably learned to read fluently by 9-10. She would frequently wander away when I read to them in the evenings. In retrospect, something about all that value on reading made her uncomfortable. She knew she couldn't do it. And she knew that other kids her age, in Girl Scouts, or the homeschool group, could read and she couldn't. So, just like with Katie, I tried to sit down with her to do BOB books or Sing-Spell-Read-&-Write books. She had trouble remembering words because her head was so clouded with frustration with herself. The most heartbreaking moment was when she said with tear-filled eyes, "It's because I'm blonde - really blonde. And I'm really dumb - just like they all say in the jokes." Heartbreaking for any mother to hear. Of course I reassured her that that was NOT so, and she'd be able to read whenever she wanted to learn. We talked about how when you're really frustrated with something, you can't hear or think or... anything!

Knowing that she was having this inner struggle, we became incredibly watchful. We never told blonde jokes - but we were VERY vocal about disagreeing with them being said whenever we were around. We weren't in a lot of situations where she'd be asked to read, but when we were, we usually removed her before she even knew what was happening. And so at home, she & I would quietly look at different words and start to decode this reading thing. We started with words that were common for her to say. Then we moved to words that she'd need to read for Girl Scouts or 4H or her animal magazines. No big lesson plans. No "routine". Just real life. And it turned out to be a much calmer less judgemental kind of life. Not that I was judging her, but that she felt judged. Once all that anxiety melted away, she was able to gracefully step over the obstacles.

Now, her reading is primarily online - and her typing skills were incredible! She's a little hesitant to read in front of a group. While that might be a little leftover from being so self-conscious about her reading, I think it's just her personality.

I was on an email list and someone asked how to get their child interested in reading. I think everyone should check out the easy reader section at the library. You might be surprised at what they choose. Mine often chose books that I would have considered a little insulting. But their desire to demonstrate they could "conquer" that book won out... for them. One of my biggest regrets is all the easy reader books I've accumulated over the years. They would read them once and then they were done with it. Since the goal was always "successful reading" because nobody really *enjoys* laboring over a book, we have an enormous number of books collected. The library route would have been MUCH cheaper, taken up WAY less space, and it would have been just as productive.

But the bottom line is find books that interest your child. We had an entire Calvin and Hobbes phase for a while. Don't push books that they're not interested in. It will just make them hate reading and their confidence will drop even further.

Read with them. Find books they love. This will give them a reason to WANT to read!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Citzenship - Jay-merican!

Today was a big day! Jay, Julie's husband, became an American citizen. We all went down to San Antonio to witness the big event.

We drove around looking for a parking spot for quite a while. The auditorium was packed. 1300 people were becoming citizens today - and everyone seemed to bring family and friends .

I had never observed this kind of ceremony before, so I was excited to see what happens. The actual process started before I really realized what was going on.

The Mayor of San Antonio began calling out the names of different countries, in alphabetical order. Luckily, Jay wasn't from a country that started with an "A"! So, we had a little time before The Lone Malaysian got to stand up. After they called out each individualized country,- 85 countries were represented - the speaker said, "And now, the country you've all been waiting for...Mexico!" And then 600 people stood and applauded!

Once all of the new citizens was standing, they were asked to raise their right hand and "swear in" as an American. Then we all stood and joined them for the Pledge of Allegiance.

At that point, the Mayor introduced several "distinguished guests" - representatives from the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Sons of the American Revolution, and there was also a man in a powdered wig - I could swear they told everyone he WAS George Washington.

One of the guests from Edgewood shared a video with the group. It opened with President George Bush congratulating them for becoming citizens. Jay loved that! There were also quotes from President Kennedy, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." They played the song "Proud to be an American," and showed pictures of all the fallen heroes from Edgewood.

After that, they retired the colors and staff handed out certificates to all the new citizens. This was kind of disorganized. The citizens were in assigned seats, so the knew the general proximity for each one. But they just came over and shouted out the names - although they struggled with pronounciation and the ability to be heard. It was kind of like a substitute teacher handing back homework.

They were each supposed to get a small American Flag as well. Jay didn't get one because he had to step out of line to fill out additional paperwork related to his stolen passport. But he was ok with missing the flag. He though all Americans would be issued a bottle of Ranch dressing - since that's what he thinks is the most American thing we do!

After that, we all went to Maudie's for lunch. Jay later raced to the post office with his completed voter's registration card. This was the deadline day to be able to vote in the Primary.

Yay - Jamerican!

Katie's Party: Costume & Dessert Potluck

Initially, Katie wanted an Anime-themed party. But as her guest list grew, she opened to the idea of any costume. So, the party turned into a Costume and Dessert Potluck Party!

In keeping with her anime theme, Katie wore her pink Ichigo costume that we made for the Ikkicon last month. Pink hair, go-go boots and everything!
She baked a cake, brownies, and we bought a Boston Cream Pie (because it was ACTUALLY Ron's birthday and that's what HE wanted) and a decadent Chocolate Truffle cake. We made a punch with pink lemonade, sprite, and marischino cherries. The others brought candy and apple pie.

Here's how the evening went:
  • Katie Caskey from TexArts arrived. Because there had been a small gap in when the girls saw each other last, she was only told about it earlier that day! She came as "L". Katie's mom, Laura, stayed and chatted with me about Austin in the 80's, homeschooling, and texarts.
  • Laura Derrick brought Jackson, dressed as a tourist, and Sarah, dressed as an 80's Chick. Laura wasn't able to stay.
  • Ron brought pizza - which everyone ate all evening
  • Sky, Rachel, both dressed as Colonial men and Khunya (no costume) arrived
  • No sign of Rick, and Abby wasn't able to make it.
  • Hairspray was on downstairs
  • Dance, Dance Revolution was upstairs
  • Came down for desserts and Monty Python's Holy Grail
  • Katie got a hold of Rick, who said he wasn't able to get a ride, or find his keys...or something (lame) It only bothered Katie for a minute or two, then she was happy with her friends.
  • Kids back upstairs to put You Tube videos on the Big Screen T.V.
  • Danced to a Bollywood song, then shared funny videos they've seen
  • Came back down and blew out cake candles and opened gifts:
    • Jackson & Sarah got Katie a chocolate Godiva bunny and 2 link puzzle chains
    • Rachel gave her an I love Sweeney necklace
    • Sky and Khunya gave her a blue teddy bear, scented nail polish and a beautiful compact mirror
  • Katie Caskey's mom came to take her home
  • Kids went to the park to play hide & seek in the park
  • Laura & John came to pick up the kids
Katie had a great time!!!!

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Political Texas Two-Step

Texas has a very strange voting process. And, what really surprises me is that I had no idea we had this process! I'm guessing it's because we haven't had a really close race before.

For those who don't know, it's frequently called the Texas Two-Step. Voters go to the polls on March 4th - or they do the Early Voting. Then after all the voters have voted at 7 p.m., they can come in for the Caucus.

Normally, I like the idea of voting on the Big Day. It's always a little exciting to me. But this year, there's the chance of long lines at the polling booths. And, I, as usual, have a really packed day. Not a lot of time to spare waiting around. So, Michael and I ran over to Early Voting on Friday, when he got back from his classes.

Friday was the last day for Early Voting. At first, we went to the Assisted Living facility near our home. There was a note on the door telling us that they were no longer an official voting place. So we went to our second choice, the only other option in Pflugerville - the County Tax office. There were long lines. And they weaved all around the room in the most unorganized way. Doors were locked in an attempt to control the way the crowd entered. This was later remedied, but clearly they didn't expect this many people.

My son-in-law, Jay, was ahead of us in line, waving at us as we entered and tried to find the end of the line. This is his first time to vote - he became an American citizen just in time to register to vote.

So, we all cast our vote and put our little caucus cards into our wallets. These cards would show that we voted - a requirement to participate in the caucus.

Tuesday Night....
I went to my local voting precinct at 7 p.m. There were still people in line to vote, although the doors were locked to more voters. Only caucus voters were allowed to enter. The cafeteria was filling up. Ultimately, there were nearly 350 people there! I live in a really integrated neighborhood. Lots of diversity. But the caucus was filled with primarily Black Americans - there were maybe 25 white people in the room. It was mass chaos, really. The woman in charge said that typically, they had only 4-5 people show up for caucus. But it's not like they didn't realize this was going to happen! At least the Obama camp sent food - pizza, cookies, and coffee. (smart move)

This was Michael's first year to vote for a President and he really wanted to participate in the caucus. Unfortunately, he couldn't find anyone to cover for him at work. So we tried to set up his lunch break so he could run over, sign in, and leave quickly. No such luck. He got there about 7:15, the time it was supposed to convene. Unfortunately, there was still a line for people who hadn't voted yet. And the caucus couldn't begin until they all had an opportunity to join us in the next room. Michael's 30 minutes passed and he had to leave, before it even began.

I stayed. Around 8:00, we began to move into lines to sign our name onto the sheets for our candidate. The room was overwhelmingly pro-Obama. By 8:30, I reached the front, gave my info and my candidate choice. Those who wanted to become delegates for the county convention, or those who wanted to vote on the Democratic resolutions were invited to stay. Everyone else could leave.

The room thinned out considerably.

I sat and spoke with a father & daughter. They were Clinton supporters. The daughter was a Senior at Pflugerville High. She was really enthused about the opportunity to be a delegate. We talked a little more about the comparisons between Clinton and Obama. We talked about reactions we had heard from others regarding the different candidates.

I called Michael on the cell and asked him if he'd like to be a delegate, since he wasn't able to actually attend the caucus. He thought it would be great.

So, by 9 p.m., the precinct chair began going through the resolutions. Clearly, she was not accustomed to voters who wanted to discuss the resolutions. She read the titles and if we wanted to know the Dem position, we'd raise our hands. People moaned and groaned, but she pressed on. We discussed a few proposals, took votes - all while the caucus votes were being tabulated.

In the end, 280 people actually voted that night. 222 for Obama and 57 for Clinton. This would mean that of our 26 alloted delegates, 21 would come from the Obama camp, and 5 would come from Clinton supporters. FYI, delegate numbers are determined by last year's voter turnout.

I was still sitting with my pro-Clinton friends. We were excited that Hillary actually got 57 from a room that appeared to be FULL of Barrack fans. This would mean that she'd have a good shot at being a delegate!

At that point, we separted into 2 different sides of the room, based on candidate choice. We were asked how many of us wanted to be delegates AND were available all day on March 29th. Twenty-six hands went up. A strong white-haired woman evidently decided she wasn't going to allow chaos to dominate any longer. She asked those who had "a burning desire to be a delegate" move to the table and find a seat. She started a couple pieces of paper, for delegates and alternates. I moved to the table for Michael to be a delegate. I offered to be an alternate, if that would help the process.

By then, it was after 10, and Michael was off work. He went straight to the polling precinct, and made it in time to sign in as someone with a "burning desire to be a delegate." Phone numbers and emails were exchanged, and that was the end. It was nearly 11:00 p.m.

Lisa Heyman

I hung up the phone with my friend Pam. She said that Kelly had just called her to tell her horrible news about Lisa. She died. At 47. Leaving behind Larry, Roxy and Fire. Pam had sent me an email on 2/17 saying that Lisa had been just diagnosed with Amyloidosis, a blood-borne disorder that could be very serious. The email sounded guarded but hopeful, as the family was exploring treatment options. I asked Ron about it, and he sounded less hopeful. But he added that he could be wrong, not being the most up-to-date on medications that could be available now.

And yet, 8 days later, at 12:30 p.m., she's gone.

I had told Alyssa that Lisa was sick. And when she overheard me talking to Pam on the phone, she realized that the worst had happened. After a lot of tears, we talked about our memories of Lisa, Roxy and Ruby.

We first met they Heyman/Gauchman family at the Live and Learn conference in St. Louis. Roxy and Alyssa became friends right away. Alyssa couldn't remember exactly how they met, but she remembered them spending a lot of time riding the elevators. And Lisa rode with them. Chatting & laughing. No indication that they should stop. The girls roamed the halls together during that conference. I hadn't met Lisa and Larry until that Saturday night. We were all at the Museum downtown. It was a FABULOUS museum. Pam and I joined Larry and Lisa at a table. We really enjoyed talking with them. As we were talking, Lisa and I realized that we were each the mother of our daughters' new best friend at the conference. That was a wonderful surprise.

So, after that conference, the girls emailed each other. Lisa and I wrote to each other a few times - primarily to help the girls stay connected. Unfortunately, they weren't going to be able to make it to Albuquerque for the next conference. Alyssa was bummed to not have Roxy there. She received a BEAUTIFULLY hand-decorated invitation to Roxy's Bat-Mitzvah and I really wished we could have gone. We were living in Wichita Falls at the time, and New York seemed so very far away.

Roxy and Alyssa were excited to hear that they'd both go to the Live and Learn conference in North Carolina in 2007. Both were interested in cheerleading, so Roxy asked Alyssa to be her assistant with her conference Fun Shop. Pam & Rosie picked up Alyssa and me at the Charlotte airport. Alyssa and Roxy were back and forth a few times on the cell phone, anticipating their reunion. Lisa's family had arrived a day earlier and Roxie and Alyssa were eager to talk cheerleading.

It was so wonderful to see and talk with Lisa there. She was so excited to give her talks. We talked about the girls doing the cheerleading funshop. She and Larry told me how proud they were of Roxy doing a cheerleading camp out of their home in the summer. They told me how she managed the money, the kids, the parents - all of it! We talked about how unnecessary textbooks were to living a real life. We talked a little about our support groups, her rabbi and how she tried to make all this unschooling make sense to him.

Alyssa also had a connection to Fire. Live and Learn offers Fairy Godparents to anyone who would like one. And Alyssa drew Fire's name. Alyssa went to the cabin to secretly plant a note. Lisa smiled and helped her lay it out on her clothes, so she'd find it right away. Even though Fire figured it out eventually, Alyssa tried to keep it a secret and got her a bracelet and a necklace. It was fun when Alyssa "owned up" to the fact that she really was Fire's Fairy Godmother. And, with one more interesting connection, on the last day, Lisa told Alyssa that she was Alyssa's Fairy Godmother. Earlier, I had mentioned to her that Alyssa hadn't received anything from her Fairy Godmother. I really doubt that she actually was, but she didn't want Alyssa to feel forgotten. Lisa was just that way.

I didn't realize until now that Alyssa had been to Lisa's talks. Roxy didn't want to miss her mom's talks, so the girls asked some other girls to run a portion of their Cheerleading Funshop. This way they could go together to hear her. And, to be totally honest, I was a little jealous. Roxy ADORED being with her mother. And, it was absolutely mutual between the two of them. It really was wonderful to witness their relationship. It's been an ongoing reminder to me, as a mother of 3 teens. Lisa was, and is, an inspiration.

Alyssa asked me if Roxy knew her mom was sick then, because she cried throughout the talk. I told her there was no way she could have known. She was probably just so incredibly proud of her mom and what she had to say - all of it glowing about Roxy and Fire. After 12 years of homeschooling/unschooling, I didn't attend the conference presentation. I regret that now. Alyssa said that what she remembered most about the topic was how important Lisa felt TIME was. Spending time with the girls was paramount - more important than anything else. What a wonderful remembrance that will be for the girls. To know how important they were to their mother. To not just know, but hear it announced for all to hear. I'm sure those tapes will someday be a great comfort to them.

As Pam and I were about to leave the conference. Lisa pulled a few of us aside. She wanted to share something about Roxy that we had to swear to secrecy - she called it Kvelling. I didn't have a clue what she was talking about. Paula Sjogerman was with us and she tried to help us understand a little more. They tried to help us pronounce it. They tried to help us understand it. Kvelling, loosely translated means rejoicing in your children's accomplishments... in a good loving way. It's Yiddish for gushing, and swelling, and delighted. Kvelling. What a wonderful word. THAT should be a conference in itself...a bunch of happy unschooling parents kvelling. ahhh.... THAT would be a wonderful Lisa-Legacy.

Lisa's passing reminds us again how important "time" with those we love is... how short it can be. Time. It really is all that matters. And an occasional Kvelling among friends.

The Problem with Dieting

For me, the problem has been all about my attitude. After successfully "doing" a few diets, I found myself preoccupied with the notion of no longer forbidding food. Even though I intellectually understood that making up for lost time would simply pack the pounds back on, that's what I was feeling. I wanted to eat the foods I had deprived myself of (sorry for the grammar here). I wanted all those foods I hadn't eaten. And, instead of simply saying, "Yes, you can have a little this week." or "try just a bite or two" or "get at to-go box and half this enormous plateful they're calling 'a serving'"- I just said "Go for it". And I did it over and over.

So, after a year and a half of an intense diet - and a weight loss of 68 lbs - I've put 50 back on. (And after this past weekend eating Mexican food in San Antonio, who knows how much more!) I haven't been to Curves in weeks. I missed the last WeightWatchers meeting. I blamed it on relatives in town, sleepovers, birthday parties, etc. Sure, it was a busy week - but what week ISN'T? This is what my life looks like, and I simply have to fit in time for HEALTH. That's probably how I need to phrase it. No more choosing a diet. Time to choose HEALTH.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sue's Birthday!

My Birthday was wildly successful. I wasn't able to have my usual Breakfast in Bed, because I had to take Michael to a Dr's appt. And, Ron regretted to tell me that the CD's he ordered for me were rerouted to our old address, so they wouldn't make it in time.

But none of that dampened my spirits. I was going to have a birthday party! The first in AT LEAST 20 years!

After much coordination with friends, here's what we ended up eating:

Pork Tenderloin's stuffed with an herb dressing and a Jalapeno Pecan Dressing
Asparagus with Feta Cheese
Broiled Tomatoes with cheese, olive oil and herbs
Spring Mix salad with dried cranberries and nuts
Onion rolls
Ice Cream Cake

The Pork Tenderloins were from Central Market and just needed to be cooked. Lisa, Claire and Laura all brought the rest. Baskin Robbins was in charge of the ice cream cake! YUM.

Now that the Writers' Strike is over, John was back and work. He wasn't able to make it to the party. But Laura did - and brought me a lovely pot of herbs and flowers for the table.

Lisa & Reed arrived with their 3 girls. We quickly fixed them some hot dogs and they raced upstairs to play video games and watch movies. Reed would be leaving soon for India, so I'm really happy that he was able to come.

Claire & Matt arrived - happy to report it only took 30 minutes to cross town in rush hour traffic. We chose to have the dinner ON my birthday, so that meant mid-week rush hour.

We had candles on the table and on the wall sconces. I'm not that crazy about my tiny dining room, but it was cozy and nice. Michael joined us for dinner and we talked about traveling and politics. I know, a tad dangerous,'s MY birthday! Laura explained how the Texas Two Step Caucus works. It was news to most of us. Michael was a little overly enthusiastic about his Pro-Obama campaign, but I'm glad he's involved.

I had told Claire a few weeks ago, that my ideal evening would be one like on The Big Chill. Everyone sitting around a big dining table, chatting, eating and drinking.

I got my birthday wish.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Birthday Plans

T'is the Season, for our family. The season of Birthdays. Check this out:

2/20 - Sue is 47
2/26 - Alyssa is 14
2/28 - Katie is 17
3/08 - Ron is 57
3/22 - Michael is 19


Everytime I look at this, I take a deep breath, as if to brace myself!!

So here's the Plan:

Sue's Birthday - Instead of sitting around passively, wondering if it will be Breakfast in Bed or Dinner of my choice at a local restaurant, I've decided to take another approach. I'm going to host a Dinner Party in my honor!! LOL!
Well, not really "in my honor" so much as just a gift to myself.
When we returned to Austin, it was for a variety of reasons. And one of them was to be part of community that I enjoy. A community that my children could be part of. While I have friends all over the country, I have a few here too. And, asking them to come be with me for my birthday is all I really want.
So, for the Dinner Party - Potluck - with Lisa & Reed Vivatson from Temple, Claire & Matt Hyder, and Laura Derrick & John Pritchett, both couples from Austin.

Alyssa's Birthday - Alyssa wants 2 parties actually. She wants a sleepover with her cheerleading team - that's 20 girls! Go to the movies as a group. Eat pizza, cake and have a chocolate fountain.
After this, she wants to have a "regular" party with homeschoolers she knows. They haven't had a big get together in a while, so this might be fun. She *might* have the girls spend the night and the boys go home at midnight... or some plan like that.

Katie's Birthday - Katie also wants 2 parties. Party #1 would happen on the actual Birthday. She wants to go to the Psychic here in Pflugerville. Theres' a house on the edge of town with a sign that reads 'Palm and Card Reading, $5 or $10'. She has a few friends she'd like to invite to go too. Then afterwards, go out for dessert.
Her 2nd party would be an evening costume party. She wants to invite all her friends who love anime as well as any of them who just love dressing up.

Ron's Birthday - Poor Ron. Katie's party will actually fall on his real birthday. But he's never really been one to care about birthdays. Julie wants everyone to get together for dinner on the Sunday after his birthday, so that's what we'll do. We've already gotten him one of those Digital picture changers - you know the kind? You upload photos and it's a photo frame that rotates the pic's every couple of seconds.

Michael's Birthday - another hard one. He's thinking that he might just like to do a Bar-B-Q in the backyard. He has a few friends through work and outside work and thinks they'll come for free food!

So....that's The Plan.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Story Behind the Weight

or the Weight Behind the Story...or The Weight of My Behind, Story later....

I love food. That's the underlying issue. And, I think, because I've been on so many diets, my body is always afraid I'm going to decide to start another diet tomorrow, so let's party while we can! Truly, I'm recognizing my relationship to eating as somewhat of an addiction. I eat because it's there. Not because I'm hungry. Not because I'm depressed or happy or busy or bored - or maybe, yes!, because of ALL those reasons!

So, let's trace back early attempts at Weight Loss...

SlimFast Shakes were first available when I was in college. I felt like my 129 lb. body was getting pudgey. Yeah, right. I look at pictures that I really didn't think were flattering and only WISH I could look so unflattering.

MidTwenties, I tried Diet Pills....speed really. I didn't eat much. But I didn't like how it felt. Then I tried the Scarsdale Diet. Then the Atkins.

Then I got married and just ate out a lot. And had 3 babies. With each baby I gained 40 lbs. and with each delivery, I only lost 20lbs. So....that's a 60 lb. weight gain right there!

But in between, I did different things.

After Michael, but before Katie, I did Nutrisystem. I lost 20 lbs. But I really felt like it messed up my gall bladder. Or at least my gall bladder was deciding it had enough around that time. Because after I was done with Nutrisystem (or if cheated), I wouldn't even make it home from the restaurant without pulling over and finding a bathroom to explode in. Not fun.

After Katie, I don't remember trying a lot. But after Alyssa, I was back to trying all kinds of wacky fad diets. I did the Cabbage Soup diet, the 7 day diet, the Banana Diet, the South Beach Diet. None of them worked because I never could stay ON any of them. Not surprising, they're nuts!

Then in California, I tried Weight Watchers. At the same time, I joined a gym. The combo of eating right and exercising worked - imagine that!!! And I lost about 20 lbs.

But then we moved and the weight climbed again....because, remember, I LIKE to eat! And now I have 3 kids and husband to feed. At this point, I was frustrated. I was tired of trying. So I didn't. And my weight hit a record high - 263 lbs.

Let's talk a little about what 263 feels like:
  • my feet hurt when I get up in the morning
  • my shoe size increases
  • my back hurts
  • I can't sit comfortably in the stadium seats at sports events
  • I worry about whether I can fit through the turnstyles
  • When I'm on an airplane, my thighs are plastered against the stranger next to me.
  • My seatbelt in the car is really stretched out.
  • I have trouble reaching various parts of my body (you don't want me to elaborate!)
  • I can't run
  • I'm sweaty a lot
  • Cute clothes are out of the question - everything fits like a tent
  • My mom makes little comments about how I should think about losing weight
  • I start to have chest pain periodically
  • I have heartburn regularly
So, in January of '06, I started on the Metabolic Research Center Diet. High protein, lots of metabolism enhancers, vitamins, mood stabilizers, etc. I was determined to make it work. And I did. I lost over 60 lbs. by August WITHOUT exercise.
At that time, I went back to work - at the Girl Scout office. Interpret that to mean - all the nuts, chocolate, and Thin Mints you can stand. At first, I didn't have very much.But it crept in. I ate when I was too busy to pre-plan. The deathblow for this was when I quit work to move to Austin. I decided that I'd let the diet go for a little while and then get back to it. My kids were so happy that we didn't have to "be careful" around Mom with regards to food. We ate out again - YIPPEE!
WHAM....20 lbs. came back right away. Then, WHAM again - another 30!
So, I joined Curves and thought it would just fall off. It didn't. I also seemed to think that if I worked out, it gave me some free pass to eat whatever I wanted. But, you know, a 30 minute light to moderate workout cannot justify and Pancakes for breakfast, nachos for lunch, lots of snacks, and an Oreo Blast to top it off - FREQUENTLY.
No real results.
Ron bought me an exercise bike - I've used it 2 times in 2 months.
And I started Weight Watchers. I haven't really committed yet. I'm hoping I do soon.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sleep Schedules

One thing seems interesting to me from an unschooling perspective. For years, I've let my children sleep however late, and go to bed at whatever hour. Homeschoolers (and schoolers - as the kids used to call them) would ask me, "How will they be able to hold down a job - follow a schedule - adhere to expectations -- if I never impose any on them as children?" Well, it's a non-issue. It's like practicing the act of waiting in line. Or working on eating. Honestly, when they were younger, I'd think, "well, they just won't choose a job that conflicts with their natural rhythm."

But that's not what happened.

They found a job they wanted, and they made their own rhythm cooperate. They are not late to work. I sometimes don't even get up with them! They have alarm clocks. They shower. They manage just fine thank-you-very- much (I don't mean that snappy tone for you all - just my long ago naysayers!) Katie proved this to me a year and half ago when she went to stay with her grandma in Dallas so she could attend a month-long intensive drama program. She got herself up at 5 a.m., checked her email, fixed her breakfast, showered, dressed, and caught the city bus to go downtown. She was 15.

And now they both have jobs at Barnes and Noble. Alyssa goes on cheerleading competition weekends. We frequently stay in hotels and have to get up to be at the competion by 7 a.m. That means she usually needs to start getting ready around 5:45. She jumps right up and gets to it.

So, that's my real life experience with kids and sleep schedules. No one needed to rehearse getting up early. They did/do it when they need to.

Just an interesting little fact... at least to me.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Day 8 - Sunday...just couldn't stop at 7!

-Slept until 10.
-Fixed breakfast.
-Read World of Warcraft book
-Went to work from 12-7
- Met us at Blue Marble Java for live performance
- Did homework
- watched a little T.V.

- up by 10
- hung out with friends and left for Austin by noon.
- Stopped at a great snack place with a huge Slushee selection. Learned the hard way that all the great flavors you like COMBINED into one, only tastes good while the frozen layers stay separate.
- Went to friends' house to drop them off and discussed the stage production with their parents
- Watched a little of the Abbreviated Shakespeare on DVD
- Came home, ate a little, read Fan Fiction
- Went to Blue Marble Java for Betty Soo concert
- came home and looked online for more components of her anime costume
- slept until 11
- did laundry
- watched American Top Model, just a quick email check. Seems like she self-pacing a little to avoid drama.
- watched football with Ron
- had a steamer and a chocolate chip cookie at Blue Marble. Really liked the performer and talked me into getting the CD
- looked through the bookcases and decided she'd start reading Stuart Little this week.
- watched TV and went to bed

Well, I think that's it. It really is kind of weird to write it all down. And doing several days in a row reminds me the piles of pictures I have that need to be put into a scrapbook - it's harder when you wait. But our little online unschooling group recorded our "days in the life of..." be they mundane or exciting. Just real life.

Goodnight & thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Day 7 - Saturday


- no work!
- Went to the ACC bookstore and returned books from last semester and this semester.
- went to the bank and deposited his paycheck and the book sale $$
- Went to Lake Travis and checked on the sailboat with Alyssa & Ron. Scrubbed the deck/cabin
- Went to the Austin Boat Show. (Found a boat he wants to live on - JUST $130,000 for the least expensive one!)
- Picked up pizza on the way home
- Did laundry and ACC homework

- packed car for road trip
- showered and got ready for TexArts class
- Sue drove Katie to TexArts at UT
- Picked up Katie and went to friends' house to pick up 3 other teens for a Dallas Road Trip
- Sang in car, stopped for snacks, constant talking in anticipation of the big show - comparing shows/actors/ singing
- Went to Grandma's house in Dallas, dropped off stuff, ate pizza & salad, got ready for show
- Went to the Majestic downtown to see the stage version of Sweeney Todd. The 4 teens managed on their own (I didn't have an extra $60 for a ticket - and they really liked being "on their own")
- Went out to Chili's for dessert. Discussed show, compared it to the movie - very different. Explained some of this to the waiter, who was quite interested in what they were doing.
- Came back to Grandma's. Sang along to the soundtrack. Stayed up chatting with each other until 3 a.m.

- slept until 10:30.
- started laundry.
- quick email check to see leftovers from last night's drama. Everyone apologized.
- went to boat show - she wanted the $400,000 boat!
- ate pizza with Mike and Ron
- watched T.V.,. checked email

Friday, January 18, 2008

Day 6 - Friday

A rainy day is a GREAT day to lay around, IMO. And that's what I did for most of the day.
Cooked a big veggie soup.

-ACC classes from 9 - 1 p.m.
-Came home and talked about selling back some of the books he bought but won't need. Called several ACC bookstores to check on hours. Missed it...closes at 2 p.m.
-Did the dishes, happily and without prompting. (It really was getting bad) He said that he likes doing them because he thinks about stuff while he works on them. And THAT works for me!
- He & I set up a blog for him.He's never done that before. He likes to talk a lot and has a lot of opinions about politics and human nature. This will be a good place for him to unload. He has stories in his head that he wants to work on as well.

- up early to read Fan Fiction
- to work from 9 - 4:30
- picked her up from work and went straight to Ballet Austin
- traffic was bad, so she was late to first day of the Triple Threat Musical Theatre class
- Sang, danced, and acted from 5:30 - 8 p.m. Loved it. (1 class and 1 workshop)
- One of the teachers pulled me aside to say that she was really bright and enthusiastic. During that conversation, I mentioned that she was homeschooled. He quickly responded, "Oh, that's why she was so great to work with!" It seems the homeschooled kids in the class don't suffer from the same peer pressure inhibition that their schooled counterparts do. At least in this class.
- Came home and packed for her Dallas trip the next day.

- up late -around 11 (when I got home from Curves)
- cleaned up room a little
- wrote an essay about why her Cheerleading coach deserved a special award. She really did a good job with this. Yes, it needed some proofing, but her content was organized well and her spelling has drastically improved
- spent a lot of time on email and myspace. Had a blow-up with a couple of her cheerleader teammates. Lots of drama & tears. Finally resolved at 1:30 a.m.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Day 5 - Thursday

--Michael got up early for work - 7A-2P He came home and fixed his lunch. He and I talked about his classes, and looked online at some of the future classes at Texas State in Anthropology. There's an internship in Peru through ACC this summer that he'd like to go to. Not sure if that can fit into the schedule though!

Michael, Alyssa and I talked about boyfriends/girlfrie nds/dating in general. Lots of laughs.
Alyssa has lots of boys that like her, but she's not interested in them. Michael, OTOH, had his heart broken when he was about 16 and hasn't tried again. He now thinks dating is too much effort and wonders if he's too lazy to ever get a girlfriend. Plus, he REALLY wants to travel and doesn't want anyone to distract him from that. And, he's trying to save money, and doesn't want to have to spend $ on a girl. We talk about when he meets someone that he *really* likes, he might readjust his ideas... or not. We talk about the people we know who have done internet dating - he thinks that might be his approach later... (hopefully MUCH later!)
Michael and Alyssa got along really well today and he drove her to cheerleading practice. He then went over to ACC to try to talk to his professors about his grades.
Michael spent the evening watching Season One of the West Wing. He loves that show and got the boxed set for Christmas. We have lots of conversations after (and during!) the various episodes. He thinks that growing up watching West Wing helped him with some of his college classes, and now that he's completed some Political Science classes, some of these topics are making more sense to him.

--Katie spent the day reading fan fiction. She's feeling like her own work isn't as good as much of what she reads. She just started a new Manga book....something different... can't remember the name. She and I drove to Tapestry for Tap class and talked about what she expects out of the upcoming Anime convention. TexArts classes start Saturday and we talked about how that will fit schedule-wise with our trip to Dallas. We're going to see the live show of Sweeney Todd at the Majestic Theatre in Dallas. We're picking up a few of her friends. They all saved up their money to pay for the $60 tickets!

-- Alyssa & I totally forgot her orthodontist appt at 8:30. So they rescheduled it to 11 and we made it. We talked a lot about the structure of her jaw and where her teeth are lining up - which led to the broken bracket and the reason for the appt. We always look closely at their charts and models. She made small talk with another patient and her parent - she is so comfortable talking to people - really confident. She and I went to WalMart to get some more groceries. She picked out a lot of it.
We came home and started food in the crockpot - important since we're all driving all over the place in the evening tonight. She watched some Malcolm in the Middle reruns, did a little of her decimal book and went to cheerleading practice. After that, she IM'd and emailed with friends until...well, she's still online.

I read my weight watchers materials and caught up with a few people on the cell phone while I waited for Katie. Ron brought home tamales from work....and a chocolate cake. My diet is doomed.

Day 4 - Wednesday

--Michael was called in to do a few extra hours of work. He cooked lunch for himself (he's a big Philly Cheesteak fan - now that there are easy pkgs to fix).
He had classes at Riverside this afternoon - no mapping problems this time.

--Katie worked at B & N from 11 - 7 today. She and I went to the bank before work and deposited 3 of her checks. She has her main acct, and a 10% untouchable account. Lots of talk about interest on bank accounts, the point of saving early (even if it's just a 10% habit), and what some big ticket items she might like to buy. Ron picked up Katie from work and then brought her home. She read a little fan fiction and went to bed.

--Alyssa was up at 11, fixed herself some breakfast. Today, she pulled out some math she was working on a while back...Key 2 Decimals. She was having a lot of trouble with making change, and now at 13, wants to figure this out.

Alyssa & I went to Tapestry for Hip Hop class....which will probably be the last time for this. She's just not having that much fun with the class and it's an incredibly long drive during rush hour traffic.

Ron picked up Pizza, I dropped Alyssa off after class with him (while he waited for us in the Little Caesar's parking lot), then I went on to Curves.

Ron, Michael, & I watched Commanche Moon while the girls were upstairs on the computers.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Day 3 - Tuesday

This was pretty much a "lay-around day".... still in recovery from the shock of the text messaging financial fiasco.

--Michael worked at B & N from 9 - 3 shelving books. He said he got to talk to some interesting people in the store about some of their book choices. Working at a bookstore has been an education in itself. Customers make comments about books that my kids would have never even noticed. Now they have a superficial knowledge of a wide variety of topics and authors.

--Katie & I worked more on her anime costume. I didn't realize she had never cut material with a pattern, so we talked about what the different symbols meant, and she cut away!
She helped with cleaning up the house a little.

--Alyssa helped with lunch, cleaned her room, read a little of her J14 Magazine and went to cheerleading practice. There was a bunch of drama there as 2 of the teams merged for a big upcoming competition. We had a lot of discussion on the way home about a lot of the interactions, potential interactions, and potential reactions that could occur. Conversations like this really diffuse the heat of the moment.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A little more about Monday, teens, & texting

Someone wrote to me about commiserating with how much bigger the problems are when your children are teens. I spent so many years thinking about this. I really believed that homeschooling (at least the unschooly respectful way that we do it) would prevent a lot of the teen problems that are so prevalent in society. Here's a few things I thought:
  • Teens are rebellious because they have rigid unalterable rules surrounding them. Let them be a part of the decision-making, make changes to the rules when their positions are rational. Weighing out the pros and cons of something as objectively as possible will be a great skill to learn.
  • If their opinion is valued, they will value others' opinions. There can be no belittling (as is so often seen in high schools). That just makes a person angrier. When the adult belittles you, and you cannot a.) compete with the banter because you're not good enough at it yet or b.) show disrespect to the adult without suffering the consequences, there's no wonder why teens often feel angry or lacking in self esteem
  • Being around adult conversations helps them learn how mature (hopefully) adults interact with each other. Limiting themselves to primarily being around other kids who are still working through a lot of their own issues won't necessarily be helpful, and could actually be harmful.
  • Use others' behaviors as conversations starters. Without being overly critical, help them see when their friends or acquaintances run into trouble, what results happen. Help your teen problem solve how the end result could have been different. Help them figure out what might be motivating the other person. All these things will cross your own teen's path eventually. Maybe some of these conversations will stick.
  • Use natural consequences instead of arbitrary ones
  • Say "Yes" as often as possible. This puts the adults on the same side as the teen. Immediately, you're working WITH them, instead of opposing them. If you start with "No" then they've stopped listening to your wonderful pearls of wisdom.
And even when you have these kinds of guiding principles, the path gets messy. The heat of the moment often wins out over logic.

So, on to our specific teen and her specific texting problem. We really were going to cave in and let her have it at Christmas. All her friends have it. Peer pressure is so much more painful to her than to the others. And, as most people know, at least half the bill was RECEIVING texts, not sending them. But then she got into a little trouble online - she showed some not great judgement. And the thought of making her MORE reachable didn't seem like a great plan.

Add to that the cost...$20 per month doesn't sound that bad, but when you look at it for a year - ACK! Maybe I'm cheap. But it looked like something she could EARN when she demonstrated good judgement. Seemed logical, right? HA! As if LOGIC ever plays a part in all this! We were looking at ways she could maybe pay for it - but she has no real source of income. She has occasional babysitting jobs. We've done allowance off and on, but when the older 2 started working, everyone helped with household stuff and Alyssa got more money if she did more - because she was the one home more. But bills for texting come every month. And her income didn't.

I didn't realize that you could simply turn texting OFF. There's a lesson for everyone here. If your child isn't ready for it, then do that. In the end, Ron went ahead and called TMobile and added texting, just to protect from the cost of INCOMING texts. She doesnt know - heck, she has no phone right now.

Teen years aren't horrible - please know that. When you're connecting with them, it's the best. When you see them making decisions that are smart or kind or full of joy - it's just as great as when you watched them sleep as babies and felt overcome with love. It's just that the pace quickens. The troubles ARE bigger. Mistakes seem to ripple out a little farther than just spilt sippee cups ruining the couch. But I guess all those things help you as parents *prepare* for the life ahead.

Parents are learning too. All the time. And some days still just go better than others.

Day 2 - Monday

But then today is completely opposite of yesterday... chaotic.

Up early with the dogs - they're really going to tear down that fence next door. The new neighbors let their dog out and they don't realize that my "country dogs" think he's in THEIR territory!
Add to the list: talk to the neighbors about reinforcing the fence.

Michael is up for work. He's acting exhausted - probably like me in anticipation of a grueling day. We decide to try to contact his history professor from last year to talk about his final grade. How exactly does a 92 and a 95 + extra credit translate into a B for the semester? The instructor was called away and unable to do the final for a 3rd test score - and neither his email or his voicemail is functioning. ugh. But he does have office hours, so maybe this week sometime Michael can stop by. I know it's getting late for a grade change, but if there's hope....
Add to list: Keep trying to reach Dr. O'Brien.

Michael's day was ghastly:
9-12 - Work in receiving for B & N.
12 - swing by the house for food and books
1-5 - Go to new campus for Spanish and Cultural Geography - he liked the classes but unfortunately, despite the run-through, he got all the way to Slaughter Lane, missing Riverside. He called, I "control-towered him in" to the campus, and he made it in time for class.
5-6 - Fight rush hour traffic and come by the house for more food
6 - 12 - Back to work at B & N until close...around midnight.

I encouraged him to keep working, but I don't think he realized how awful this was going to look.
And, he has to open the store in the morning. Hmmm....I smell burnout. But at least he has no school on Tues or Thurs.

Katie also works today: 10 - 4
She has been up since 7 this morning, working on the computer on anime and You Tube videos.
The Hairspray CD blasted away while she got ready for work. All went well, but she just hung out on the computer for the rest of the evening

Alyssa snoozed until 11. We debated over whether or not to take the Spanish class at the Leander/Cedar Park Fine Arts Academy at 2 p.m. She was worried about it, but she has no problem making friends, and this is only the 2nd class day, so she's not too far behind. Unfortunately, there were only 3 other kids in the class. 2 11 year olds and 1 15 year old boy. The instructor's primary language is Spanish, and her English is very minimal. Alyssa said that the instructor kept turning to the kids for English spelling, grammatical structure, and in the end, Alyssa thought that the instructor learned more English today than she learned Spanish. We'll keep trying until the end of the's paid for. But...not impressed.

So, Alyssa and I had a wonderful afternoon together. We went to the Blue Marble Java in PF, which is owned by a homeschooling family. I met the owner and he told us about the live music they're having on Sunday nights. That will be cool. Alyssa and I laughed and chatted and had fun.

After we got home I talked to Pam about updating the NHEN website and working on our book together. I talked to Julie about her recent robbery, then I went to Weight Watcher. I lost 2.2 lbs.

But just when you think the day is going well....

When I came in from Weight Watchers, I was met at the door by a sobbing Alyssa. "Dad yelled at me" and you're going to be really mad too. She cried onto my shoulder for a bit and then finally confessed. "I have been texting with my friends and the bill came." She didn't have unlimited texting - although she didn't seem to care. She ran up a $300 bill!

Oh my. I stayed calm. She cried and cried. She said that Dad took her phone and she will have to empty her bank acct. to pay for the bill. She said that Dad was going to give her unlimited texting for her birthday next month, but not anymore. She got a little angry, saying that she was the only one on her team without texting... she said that she didn't think we were ever going to give her texting (not sure how that rationalizing works since she was texting away).... a couple of other deflections from the situation.

I explained to her that I was more sad than mad. She was going to cover the cost, and I knew how long it took her to save that much money. I was sad that she just blew off our requests not to text. I was sad that she didn't understand that at the end of the month, we'd all know what had been going on. I was sad that as soon as we work on one particular problem, another one pops up.

We talked some more. She took some Tylenol for a headache. We watched Medium together. She seems bummed...not what I'd call remorseful... but I'd rather understand how she's really feeling than have her fake something she doesn't feel.

Tomorrow is another day. And situations can click along and then change on a dime.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Day 1 - Sunday

Our little unschooling email list in Austin asked everyone to write what they did today. They want us to do it all week. Just to give a glimpse. Here's what I sent them for today:

I can do this...

We all slept late, since Alyssa & I went to Houston on Saturday for a cheerleading competition, and Katie worked until midnight last night. Michael, Ron, & I watched the CBS Morning Show and This Week with George Stephanopolus. We record the 2 shows and then we can stop and start it as our own conversations dictate. Katie was in and out of the show, occasionally eavesdropping on our discussions. Discussions about presidential candidates, Pakistan and Benazir Bhutto, the writers strike, the $2500 car, Sir Edmond Hillary.

Alyssa slept until 1 p.m. and then checked in with her friends online. She watched America's Top Model with me. She ran the vacuum downstairs and helped with dinner. She baked some biscuits and made milkshakes for everyone. She watched a lot of tv today, ending with a ridiculous show about Scott Baio...but even that led us to conversations about babies (and how everyone reacted when she was born) and husbands and how they should act, and what she'd like/dislike in a husband.

Katie and I worked on her costume for the Anime convention she's planning to attend in Feb. She helped a little with dinner and got ready for work. She went to work at Barnes & Noble until 10 p.m. She came home and worked on her FanFiction stories until she went to bed.

Michael played a little World of Warcraft and went with Ron to make a practice run to the Riverside campus for ACC classes tomorrow. He was at the Northridge campus in the Fall and didn't really know the route. He listened to music, not sure if he played any guitar up there in his room today, read about the Presidential campaign in Newsweek, and watched the Lonesome Dove prequel series (can't remember the name).

I did some housework, read the newspaper, brushed the dogs, had a little meltdown about the messy state of the kitchen, tried out a new recipe, emailed a few people, and started writing in a blog. Maybe I'll add this!

Well, such is the life in our household with 3 teens, 2 adults, 2 dogs & 2 cats.

Weighty Issues

Why does losing weight have to be so darned tough? Because I love food! I love it even when I'm not hungry. Thus the weight gain. Such a drag though. So here I sit, suspended somewhere on my yo-yo-diet string.... starting again.

I was never really overweight until I had children. With each child, I gained 40 lbs. but lost only 20. That is not a pretty site on the scale. The other day, I was at Alyssa's cheerleading practice. All the parents were buying T-shirts to wear to the competition. They had the tighter fitted T's for the moms and the lose boxy T's for the dads. Well, that's what the oh-so-old 30 year old behind the counter said. Anyway, this one lady beside me just had a baby a couple of months ago. She said she'd get the larger shirt because of the weight gain from the baby. Then she turned to me - the only gray haired lady in the room and said, "I can still use that excuse right? I can blame this weight gain on the baby?" I asked her how long ago did she have the baby. Her answer: 3 months. I told her that I'm still blaming my youngest daughter - and she's 13! I think you're safe."

Anyway. Funny. But not THAT funny.

So I've done a million diets: Nutrisystem (lost 40 lbs before Katie was born); Slimfast, Weight Watchers (lost 20 lbs), Metabolic Research Center (lost 60 lbs.) not to mention things like The Cabbage Soup diet, the Banana Diet, the no eating after 6 p.m. diet, and who knows how many other wacky diets I've tried.

The Metabolic diet was most recently - and it's the one I really lost the most on. I totally dedicated my life to it. I deprived myself and my family. And so when we moved, I started down the slippery slope of ....OK, we can all pull into Sonic for an OreoBlast. Then we were doing it more often, and I wanted to eat more. And, so I did.

Wow. It's depressing to not be able to fit into any clothing.
It's horrible to see how much I've gained when I look in the mirror.
And, I keep having these awful feelings that I'm going to die - that my heart just can't carry me around anymore.

So...because I have quite a few things I'd like to get done and/or see before I go, I'm starting this all up again. And who gets my $ and my attention this time? Weight Watchers. I went to the first meeting last week. Pflugerville didn't even have a WW meeting until this month - so I felt like it was a sign. that I didn't need to ignore. While I didn't stay "on program" all week, I did a little better than usual. Even with a road trip in there. And tomorrow I weigh in again. Maybe I'll just drink clear soups all day tomorrow!!!!

One thing I didn't do when I was on these diets is exercise. This time I'm adding a little exercise to my day. I joined Curves and go 3-4 times per week. I also bought an exercise bike to try to increase my aerobics. I thought about getting on that bike this weekend, but fell prey to a million distractions.

Maybe next week will go better. But the new journey has begun.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cheerleading Weekend

This weekend, Alyssa and I traveled to Houston for a Cheerleading competition. We stayed at the Embassy Suites, which is always lovely - free happy hour when we arrive and free breakfast when we leave. This particular hotel was in the Galleria area, big trees around tall buildings and quaint restaurants. In spite of that, Alyssa and swung by Sonic on our way into town. That way she'd have more fun "hanging out" with her friends. And that is of primary importance these days.

We headed over to Reliant Arena for the competition and I sat with the other ACF parents. Some of these parents are really "into" it. They make notes about the other teams performances - some even videotaped our top competition. We all cheered for the younger girl team who competed earlier. Lots of screaming and cheering. The coaches even turned to the parents to encourage us to be even louder - if that's possible.

Alyssa's team, Junior Level 1, competed and did a great job. They were awarded 1st Place and Best Choreography. We were awarded one of the Most Spirited Parents plaques too!

We stayed to cheer for another ACF team at 1:30 and the coaches seemed really pleased to see Alyssa there. Afterwards, we bought a DVD of her performance and then we left for home.

Alyssa is much chattier in the car on longer rides like this, so I like them. I find out a lot more about the dramas that are playing out in her life. Sometimes I add suggestions and sometimes I just listen.