Friday, February 29, 2008

The Absurdity of Atkins

I think I'm going to rename my blog to "Carnivore Corner". That's how I'm feeling these days.

After trying hard for about 6 weeks doing my general "eat less, exercise more" and feeling like I was getting no where (stuck at a nasty plateau point), I decided to try science and see if that wouldn't help things a bit.

While, when dieting, I generally keep my calorie intake around 1400 calories, I will admit, much of those are carbs. I really crave carbs and sweet tasting foods. So, knowing there are many no-fat candies - a handful of Hot Tamales, Good and Plentys, or Valentines Sweethearts would certainly not be a rare part of those 1400 calories. I suspect anyone (without even a rocket science degree) would tell me that this is my problem. But, quoting Hannah Montanna, I was hoping for the "the best of both worlds". Weight loss without losing my food comforts (just eating more selectively and less of them).

So, I decided I'd try the opposite. I'd try Atkins and see if purging all sugars and carbs from my system (except approx 20 grams a day) would show some results. The big goal, of course, is just getting beyond this weight plateau and feeling good about myself in April when we head to Maui.

I measured and weighed in on Monday - my "average plateau weight" - and began eating in the obnoxious Atkins fashion. Here's a sample of what any day this week might have looked like (Jodi - this aint for you!!!!)-

tea with plenty of half and half and sugar free vanilla coffee mate
2 scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese
rotissierre chicken (skin still on....)
"Pure Protein" bar
handful of salted peanuts
3-4 pieces of bacon
3-4 mini sausage patties
sugar free jello
Safeway's low-carb 2 gram "ice cream" bar
plenty of Diet Coke
multi-vitamin =)

Does that sound disgusting? Well, the joy of Atkins is that you can eat 24-7 as long as you aren't eating carbs. That's a big deal to me as I like things in my mouth. I also found some sugar/carb - free maple syrup to help make my sausage and bacon feel a little more treat-like. I read up a bunch yesterday and confess that the peanuts and caffeine products aren't supposed to be on the list yet - but, I can only go so far.....

As for the results.... today is the first day I'm not waking up completely lethargic. I didn't see that one coming, but after talking to Travis yesterday (the Atkins pro) and reading up - apparently this is the result of the body learning to find an alternative fuel-energy source than all of the sugars it's used to having. My stomach, with the help of the Prilosec I have a prescription for, is faring quite well. And, as for weight loss - there's been a loss every day on the scales - sometimes a half pound, sometimes a pound - with a net loss for the week of 3 and half pounds. Crazy, huh? Especially when you consider that this is the really difficult pounds for me to see progress on......

Will this be my new lifestyle diet? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But, it's gonna be an experiment I'll probably devote a couple of weeks to. I have not cheated, as, ever since I've heard about this diet, I've had a huge issue with its inherent danger. If I give my body some carbs for all of the fat to cling to - ooooohhhh, not good! Medically, I am invested in not screwing with my cholesterol and allowing the science to work as it's supposed to. (That hasn't stopped me from dreaming that I've blown it by eating carbs - me and my stress dreams!!!).

I'll blog again about this when I've decided I'm done - but I thought I'd share the absurdity of it all for this first week..... weird science, I'm telling you....

Thursday, February 28, 2008


I smelled the glorious smell of fresh cut grass

I saw the first blooms of a rhododendron bush (with the daffodils and plum blossoms so close behind)

I heard the sweet sound of birds (and spotted the adorable little red-breasted finches)

I wore sunglasses all morning long

(but, didn't taste anything all that special - afterall, I'm doing Atkins - more about that tomorrow)

It's been a great day indeed...........

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Couple of Questions 100

This is it - the end of "A Couple of Questions". I'll post some randomly, when they come to mind - but I think I've fizzled out for now.....

How about today for those of us living in the Willamette Valley? GORGEOUS!!! It makes me so happy to have days like today. What else makes me happy? Oh yeah, the fact that I can be typing this post during the middle of the day because I got my computer back- YIPPEE!!!! I feel my February Funk starting to fade.......

So, I can't say that these are profound, but here we go.

1. Name 5 random things that you are pretty good at [doing].

2. Name 5 things that you are not so good at.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

February Funk

I'm BORED. I know, that's a terrible thing to say, there are so many things I could be doing to benefit this world than complaining about my current emotional state of laziness....., but that's where I'm at. In the middle of summer, I will look back longingly on this kind of weekend and wish for time just like this. But, right now, I'm wishing for some sunshine, some planned activities, and a family healthy enough to leave the couches.

Michele called yesterday singing a little tune, "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Spring" - however, it just served to annoy me because (as is often the case) while she woke to brilliant blue skies and warming temperatures, we were locked in a fog bank with temps hovering around a balmy 34 degrees. John woke up feeling pretty strong and went outside to take down the Christmas lights, then came in, crashing to the sofa, having overdone it. The guy hardly moved from that position all day long. (He's fighting a pretty nasty cold, and now is not a time that he can take time off work to recuperate fully). Fortunately, Brayden had a basketball game yesterday which I took him to, and then was invited for a long playdate at a friends, so I didn't feel like his day was completely empty - however, Mikayla did get the short end of the stick. You could tell she was very bored too.

This would be a cozy thing for me to have if I didn't feel like it's what we've been repeating for the last couple of months. There comes a point when a cozy fireplace, beanbag, good book, and favorite tv re-runs just doesn't fulfill anymore. That's where I'm at. Throw in a general gnawing dissatisfaction with the lack of progress I feel like I'm achieving despite all of my best efforts with both my complexion and weight, it's just kind of leaving me in a funk. I need a good hike at a roaring waterfall, a trip to the beach, or something. But, then, I think, I'm blessed enough to have gotten these get-aways often, and still, here I am, complaining. Pretty much, I need an attitude make-over. I need to dive into a good devotional book, stop waiting for the world to entertain me, and perhaps try a little Atkins to tackle the plateau my body seems to feel very safe to keep my weight at. (Wouldn't want to starve during these cold winter months, so it's important not to lose that spare tire of "security fat" around my waist).

I'm beginning to wonder if I shouldn't be a little more aggressive about making plans for when the kids are in school. At least during the months of January and February. Man, am I seasonal.......

Friday, February 22, 2008

Girl Time

There's a certain sadness that we all feel when our kids are growing up, wondering if they'll slip away from us and we won't be able to connect anymore. But, I hold on to what my mom has said and that I've quoted before- that every year just got better and better for her in her parenting of us.

I feel like I had a little taste of that on Thursday with Mikayla. We took a bath together (actually, I escaped to the bath with a book and then she asked if she could join me). Once in, she began talking about kindergarten, and it only took about 2 seconds for "Nathan B's" name to come up. Nathan B. is one of two boys named Nathan in her class, hence, the reference to his last name initial. He was also the boy that was Joseph in the Christmas program (next to her being Mary). His name has been coming up more and more often over the last month - causing me to finally question the status of their friendship. A few days ago, she admitted that she believed he liked her, and upon further interrogation, admitted she had a crush on him too. Sweet, sweet, sweet.

To add further history to this little courtship, the first time we met Nathan was actually at Colin's Camp-out. His dad knows Colin and I actually worked for a short time with him serving with the high school group way back in 1995. Neat family. Unfortunately, he will be heading to a different school for first grade, so their relationship is looking a little doomed.

We started discussing all of this in the bath and she told me she was embarassed when I teased her about Nathan. But, because she couldn't complain about that without breaking into a huge grin, I told her that she secretly liked to be teased. This turned into a back and forth match and eventually my serenading her with "Summer Loving" based on the idea that perhaps her and Nathan's only future interactions will occur at Colin's Camp-Out. She then started dumping water on my head (which I had hoped to stay dry.....). The entire scene was such fun - such a cute girl-friend teasing time that demonstrated Mikayla's distinct fun personality and feistiness - I just loved it and loved laughing with her - and didn't for a minute regret that I would have to blow dry and restyle my hair again.

Every now and then, I wonder what would happen if I suddenly found out I was pregnant. While I believe I would rejoice in the pregnancy aspect (yes, I honestly miss that part) - the idea of changing our family dynamics would just crush me. I love where my kids are at - that I can randomly be asked to play HORSE or PIG (and lose) to my son with the basketball or play a little football - or talk boys with my little girl (who doesn't really have a clue what the boy thing really means - he just happens to be her favorite playmate that happens to be a boy). I think it's time to make our family population count permanent - cuz I am just loving this stage and wouldn't change it for anything.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Lunar Eclipse

They say this isn't going to happen again until 2010 - so, it was pretty cool to catch it this evening, and even more cool that John was able to use his camera and tripod to catch it on film (or on digital imaging.....). Hope you had a chance to witness it!

From the Bookshelf: Multiple Reviews......

Apparently, tis the season for me to curl up with books (and do a little escaping.....). Here's a summary of the last three books I've read-

TITLE: What Lies Within
AUTHOR: Karen Ball
GENRE: Christian Fiction-Suspense
HERE'S MY THOUGHTS: This is the third book of the Family Honor Series. I read the 2nd book, but not the first - proving they can be read independently. Personally, this book didn't catch me as much as the second one did (Kaleidoscope Eyes), but it is kind of cool that it is set in Portland. I wasn't blown away by the romantic interactions, but it was satisfying.
INSIGHTS I'VE GAINED: I loved this quote - (each chapter had quotes from the Bible or important people) - "If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?" Stephen Levine

TITLE: Finding Marie
AUTHOR: Susan Page Davis
GENRE: Christian Fiction-Suspense
HERE'S MY THOUGHTS: This is the second book I've read from her - and kind of a sequel to Frasier Island. I really enjoyed both of them. Great character development and although the plotlines are quite far-fetched - I was very absorbed in the "escapism" elements.
INSIGHTS I'VE GAINED: Do not travel alone, do not trust anyone to be near your luggage in an airport, and always have your cell phone on you. On a more spiritual realm, trust God through all circumstances -

TITLE: Logic's End
AUTHOR: Keith A. Robinson
GENRE: Fiction Futuristic-Fantasy
HERE'S MY THOUGHTS: I do not think I would recommend this book to any of my "known blog readers" outside of my dad and Michele because of the very heavy sci-fi element to it. To give a basic plot line, a NASA astronaut woman is captured on what was expected to be an uninhabited planet and finds herself in race for survival among the most bizarre and violent alien creatures (think the bar-scene of the original Star Wars)......
INSIGHTS I'VE GAINED: Oh wow!!! I so did not expect to come away from this book with the insights I now have. I didn't know when I dived into this book that it was essentially written to de-prove (what is the word I'm looking for?) evolution. Through this woman's experiences and observations of these aliens that supposedly "evolved" she comes to some dramatic conclusions about why human beings do not fit any of the arguments that are made for evolution. For instance: why don't we have tails? Why are we not asexual? Why do we have compassion, hope, or any sort of responsibility for future generations? Why do we feel compelled to cover ourselves? Why do we have an appreciation for beauty or artistry? There is a lot more I could discuss, however, you could either read it yourself or find an apologetics book to come to your own conclusions (in fact, the end of the book gives a full afterword addressing his arguments as well as appendix of suggested informational materials). This book proves to me once again how much I love good fiction books with powerful messages - how I can walk away having learned so much - and enjoyed it every step of the way!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Couple of Questions 99

Anyone else ready to get out of February? I'm sorry, Colie, I know it's your birthday month, but I'm so ready to redo my whiteboard calendar with March and April (I do two at a time) and feel like we've finally made it to spring! Still no news about my computer, not even a diagnosis yet. Grrrrrr..... The whole family is under the weather, coughing, bit of a sore throat, tired and irritable, and the 10 day weather forecast is entirely "rain or showers" - so long sunshine, and here comes Debbie Downer with all of her bummer attitude. Sorry guys! So with that in mind-

1. What is a "guaranteed escape" movie for you to watch that can get your mood back in the rafters again (or at least not in the basement!)?

2. What has been something that has happened in February that you have been very thankful for?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Props to Heather

I've got to give a heads-up to all my readers out there to check out my friend, Heather's blog.

She wrote about such a powerful topic - I won't even expand as I want you to read it from her. Needless to say, I was very touched and am so impressed with her amazing testimony of turning such a crisis in life into something that completely glorifies the Lord. Thank you for sharing, Heather!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

"Champ" the Pug

So, this is "Champ". Do you like his sweatshirt? Amy found it at Walmart and couldn't resist....

Champ is the newest addition to the Meyers family - Mark, Amy, Andrew, Christina, Jackson - and now, Champ (and, let's not forget "Belle" the outdoor golden retriever they've had for 8 years). Since they were invited to spend the three day weekend at a friends' cabin, we made previous arrangements to dogsit for them.

This guy is a bundle of energy, and I'm convinced, a rather perfect addition to the Meyers as he seems to love attention, affection, and play - which that family can provide in abundance. To me, he's a prime example of dichotomies. One minutes I'm looking at him thinking, "a dog just doesn't get much cuter than that" and the next minute he's staring at me with that flattened face, tongue slightly dangling, eyes bugging out - not even focused simultaneously from the the outer edges of his face and I find myself thinking, "save me from this gremlin!". Likewise, in one instance he will cuddle with you and being as soft and comforting as anything on earth, and then later, his little baby teeth are trying to sink into any flesh he can find - and won't cease his "playful attacks". When all is said and done, however, I think he is absolutely adorable - and it's been a wonderful thing to have his presence in our family. All 5 of the kids have delighted in it (the Schilling kiddos are with us this weekend) - so it's been perfect because someone is always ready to give Champ lots of love. Yet, I do find myself happy he's not mine - kind of like loving a baby but glad to give it back to its mom. Sydney (who's clearly feeling a little slighted) is the perfect fit for this family and I'm thankful we're out of the puppy stage. But, ask us again, anytime, Meyers - your little guy is indeed a champ!!!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Lovin' the Date Night!

Happy Beautiful Weekend!

Gotta say, John and I had a great date night yesterday. After coming home late Thursday night, I pulled out the gift certificate for the Campbell House Inn where we supposed to have dinner on Friday. There was this fine print that indicated that it wasn't valid on holidays or holiday weekends. Now that would have really stunk to have sat there and had a very fancy meal, gotten the $88 tab (I looked up online to see the Valentines Dinner and rates) only to find we were stuck with the bill because our certificate didn't apply. Whew---- John and I do NOT place a high value on fancy cuisine so that would not have been a pretty sight.

So, instead, we were able to delay departure just a bit, giving John a chance to not have to leave work early and not pushing Michele so much to get here. We had a bite in the Red Robin bar, went to see "Fool's Gold" after stopping in a few shops at VRC (a fun entertaining movie, btw) and headed off to the really nice room we were assigned to at the Hilton.

This morning I enjoyed some apple bread french toast at the hotel restaurant and we returned home around 10:30. It was a short adventure, but very sweet. An awesome date.

As for right now, we're nearly off to Brayden's basketball game. Stay tuned for upcoming posts because we have a very special guest staying with us through Monday. His name is Champ and he's about 8 pounds..... I'll wait and let the next post's pictures give you a better idea of who this houseguest really is.....

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Different Kind of Valentine's Day

John and I have never really embraced Valentine's Day as the end-all of all romantic occassions. I remember the first year we were married we watched "The Little Mermaid" together and thought that was kind of sappy-cute to do together. Some years it turns out that we make something special happen, other years we're still reeling over all of the activity and expenses of Christmas that nothing is left over.

This year, the real celebrating will be Friday night. We scored a great deal at an auction for dinner, lodging, and breakfast here in town - throw in passes we already had for a movie (to be spent watching "Fool's Gold") and I'm looking forward to a VERY enjoyable date night with my man. That being said, my expectations for the actual evening of Valentine's Day were pretty low.

A while ago, I whined to John that one of these days it would be cool if he would consider taking his wife to one of these Duck Basketball games he scores tickets on instead of just Brayden. Always eager to please, he went right to action and asked Doug Koke (the guy who rides out on the Harley at the Duck games - as well as the owner of the printing company that Tyson Steele works with) if he knew of extra tickets. Doug made it happen and gifted us with tickets to the game this evening against Washington.

While I've attended functions at Mac Court before, I've never actually been to a basketball game. I was not blown away by the experience - just not the same feel as a football game - a little bit smellier in fact, but the ambience inside Mac Court is very cool, and we picked a darn good game to be at. It was a dominant victory for the Ducks and some of the plays looked like the Harlem Globetrotters were out there. Also amazing how much more accurate the Ducks were at their three pointers all evening, when they could hardly even make any of their free throws.

Following the game, we were invited to join Doug, his wife, and another couple to dinner at the Downtown Athletic Club. We didn't know this going into the evening, so it was a little odd walking in with jeans and athletic wear to a decked out Valentines' meal - but, hey, it's Eugene, so I suppose restaurants hardly blink an eye to it. I'll admit, I can't say I was super comfortable with the idea of extending the evening with strangers a generation ahead of me, but that's where I can safely say my own comfort-range often limits my opportunity to enjoy things in life I end up missing out on. As I spoke predominately to Nancy, it's amazing how quickly you can find so many things in common - from softball to having a baby in water - I wasn't ready to stop talking even as the waiters were setting the tables for tomorrow. Does that mean I'll be excited the next time John suggests we have dinner with strangers? Nope, I'm sure I'll drag my feet again, but tonight was a real treat and I'm very thankful to the generosity of Doug and Nancy for the experience.

How was your Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A "Mikayla Funny"

Last night I asked Mikayla to remind to bring raspberry sherbet to her school on Thursday for her Valentines' Day Party. She said, "Hold on, Mommy, let me get my brain warmed up first". After a short pause, she said "Okay, now I'm ready to remember stuff". Oh, the things that come out of that kid......

By the way, thanks for the encouragement - I'll hang on to that for the next week or so.....

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Bummer Day

This morning, my computer took a little too long to wake up. Three attempts, in fact. It had me a little worried, but I thought it was just hitting "snooze", like we all do sometimes. However, when the screen starting flashing black, then white, then red, green, and blue - I began to really worry. That couldn't be a good sign. I re-installed the battery, and my beloved laptop got back on track - only to repeat the episode later in the morning. It was sick. After another 2 reboots - it didn't reboot again. It was time for a trip to the Downtown Hospital - aka The Mac Store.

I have a feeling it is the video card - (based on the Whites' laptop's similar symptoms and diagnosis) which is not a cheap fix. Throw in the need for a new vacuum (I take back anything positive I've ever said about a Dyson), new tires, and now this - not a great month..... Plus, 7-10 days before it's even diagnosed...... Bummer.......

I'm also dealing with the first nasty headache I've dealt with for a while - Pilates had really been helping and I was so excited to not be taking the pain medication on a regular basis. I suspect it was from trying to do some arm weights today (so I'll have pretty arm muscles like Michele has when I'm in Hawaii......) So, it's kind of a bummer day.

I'm off to have some oatmeal for dinner and then watch "Lost" that we still haven't caught up with from last week. Needless to say, my posts will be a little fewer these days, and I apologize for neglecting your blogs or adding comments. There are now 4 of us scrambling for the same computer in the evening hours-

Hope you've all had a better day than mine!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

From the Bookshelf: "Black"

I know, I know - I've already read this book and addressed it in my blog. A couple of years ago, I think. But, some books are so good, hit me so hard, that they merit a second reading. This is one of those books. Now, with that said, the series is not for everybody. Jodi made it clear, "it just wasn't for her". But, for those it is for - it really is that amazing. I recognize so much of the new testament is told in story format - and that grabs my attention SO MUCH MORE than lecture format. I think that's why I get so carried away with Christian fantasy - it helps me re-experience truths from the Bible from a whole different "vantage point" - (had to throw that phrase in!). This series takes you through the entire spectrum of the Bible's message, from the Creation that God first desired to have in Eden, to the fall, to His sacrifice, and finally what we can look forward to ahead. I needed to re-read this book - it was almost worship for me......

TITLE: Black, The first of the Trilogy Series
AUTHOR: Ted Dekker
GENRE: Christian fiction-fantasy
HERE'S MY THOUGHTS: God not only delights in His love for us, but also mourns for us as we choose to make our choices that contradict the joys He's always wanted to give us. God is portrayed as a little boy in this book, "Elyon" - and His interactions with his beloved - and the idea of the "Sacred Romance" that is all a part of His desire to demonstrate His love - and us embody that towards others - WOW!
INSIGHTS I'VE GAINED: Just a reminder that the evil we have in this world is a part of our choosing. If we are to know real love, we have to have the choice to accept it or not - and in giving us that choice, God knew, that eventually, we would choose evil. In this story "Teeleh" is representative of Satan - and there is no one more deceiving and manipulative, causing mankind to do the very things we never thought we would..... things that destroy us and cause so much despair....... And, still, God loves us, and wants us to seek Him no matter how far we've strayed......

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Brayden's Wide World of Sports

The only thing that John and I HAD to do today was hit Brayden's basketball game. It's that kind of weekend, nothing going on - very relaxing, and I've not only taken advantage of that by sleeping in very late (for me, at least) and then taking a long afternoon nap as well. I'll chock it up to the respiratory cold that the whole family is fighting - trying to conquer it through "adequate rest".

Brayden has participated in a lot of sports already this year. Since Mikayla is not doing anything outside of the "school day hours" this is Brayden's year to try what he wants - I think next year, we'll be restricting things a bit more.

The first set of pics are from Brayden playing basketball. Between you and me, his height really hurts him in this area - his shot accuracy isn't bad, he's a great little defender, and the enthusiasm he adds to the team is wonderful. But, he has yet to score - despite SO MANY close calls. It is SO SWEET, however, as the whole team's parents really want it to happen and you can hear the collective "OHHHHHH" when the ball bounces off the rim. Bless his heart, I know that Brayden wants to make it happen, and laments about it later, but you'd never see him get upset about it on the court - a big reason I just adore that kiddo.

A few weeks ago, Brayden finished up his stint of indoor soccer play - not my favorite sport as it's Friday nights and a little crowded and cold in the indoor facility. But, he had fun -

Friday, February 08, 2008

Vantage Point

Have you seen the previews for the movie "Vantage Point"? I'll admit, I'm not much of a political thriller sort of person, but the idea behind the "who-dunnit" is pretty intriguing. Depending on which way you saw the situation "go down" is the truth you perceive to be true.

Interesting that that movie would be coming out tomorrow - (I think it is, maybe next week), as that whole theme is running rampant through my mind tonight. I had an enlightening conversation with a very good friend this evening - and through the course of the discussion, it just made me realize how differently situations can be perceived based on each participant's vantage point. Because we are fallible people, because we don't all have perfect memories, because we are wounded, because we are jaded, or simply because we have to throw our own experiences into how our minds process data - each of us could conceivably tell a very different story to any one event.

I find myself now reworking in my mind some things I thought were truths - only to hear another vantage point - and be forced to re-evaluate. It's a good thing to have these reminder times - and I'm thankful for the opportunity to use this blog as a journal at 11:35 at night (a good 3 hours after my usual bed time), so I can process some of my thoughts.

I'm trying to come up with a good analogy of my other train of thought - the damaging effects of passing on questionable information about others. When I did a talk one time, I remember how profound it was (and convicting) to read that each time we share information about someone, we are forever altering how the other person will perceive that person. We are, in essence, giving them a new set of glasses to look through every time they see this "subject of conversation". Pretty soon, their perception can be so distorted that they may never have had the opportunity to see who this person really is. That's getting a little heavy, but as a case in point - I remember on one occasion at a group setting, someone was pointed out to me, that I never knew, as being "a bad influence". I never met the gal that evening, barely recall recognizing who she was. However, later, as I came in contact with her at another group situation - I found myself avoiding her, thinking it wouldn't be wise to get chummy with this person. Later on, I found out that I had the wrong gal - and the person I was avoiding was really a total sweetheart. But, for at least a month - I had another label attached to her forehead..... pretty sad.

All's to say, I've got a lot of work to be done before I ever reach perfection..... (it won't be happening until Heaven folks....), and tonight has given me some good lessons. It's also taught me to really weigh what I hear carefully, and avoid coming to conclusions until I know I've been given real truth - not just one person's vantage point......

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Happy Birthday Nancy!

You are a joy to all who know you, my friend! Hope your birthday is extra special......

(us gathered at Mucho Gusto, Nancy is seated third back on the left....)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

On Bribery and Other "Bad Parent" Tactics

I remember having a conversation several years back with a friend of mine regarding paying children for good grades. She was telling me the story of a friend of hers who made some very good cash for getting A's.... I remember thinking that not only was this child incredibly spoiled, but how sad that she would never learn the satisfaction of realizing a goal simply because it was important to her and not because she would be rewarded tangibly for it. The intrinsic reward should be enough.

Now, that, my friends, was judgmental, naive thinking from someone who wasn't yet a parent, and only saw things through the eyes of her own value system.

Because, I can now tell you, not all children place a value on getting an A. For my son, things like making sure his face is not covered in mustard, bbq sauce, or raspberry jam - that's not important. Finding a place for his shoes and clothes that he removes from his body to go someplace beyond the bonus room floor - that's not important. Taking the time to double check his answers on a reading comprehension test - just not important. What is important is getting it down fast so that he'll be able to move on to his own choice of activities.

This blatant disregard for particularly the accuracy in test taking is a foreign concept to me. Growing up, it was ALL about doing my best - for my own self-satisfaction, knowing Michele was doing her best, so a half percentage out of competition, and finally, so that the teacher and my parents knew I was doing my best. It was VERY important to me - as evidenced by the stress dreams I still have. But, here I am with my son, who brings home a reading comprehension test that has a D minus grade and instead of being devastated, he says with a sheepish grin, "I'm sorry". As I am furious (because I know this kid is capable and intelligent enough), I try to calmly go through the test with him, the multiple choice questions that have you correctly define the meaning of a vocabulary word based on the context of the passage - and the kid actually LAUGHS as I ask him why he answered what he did. NO, he's not being disrespectful - he's just being Brayden - and despite all logic, I find myself cracking a smile as I realize this kids is wired SO DIFFERENT from me. I would have been near tears, feeling stupid for my mistakes - he's trying to play with everything around him, not at all concerned.

So, what to do with that? He genuinely cares about making us happy - and certainly doesn't want to repeat third grade (which won't happen - he's doing fine in the big picture, but it hasn't stopped me from threatening). But, he is a kid who only focuses when it is important to him - and getting him to grasp that importance - sigh....

So, that has led us as parents to ponder the vast array of options we have before us. Of course, first on the table was stripping him from his electronic vices (computer, wii, etc.). But, the thing about Brayden - being the otter he is - he'll just find something else inventive to do - probably centered around bugging his sister. That equals = increased torture to mom. So, we decided that we will use this as an opportunity to practice - we've begun assigning handwriting pages for him to do when he forgets things, etc. - So, as we wanted to let the punishment fit the crime, we headed down to Learning Palace and purchased a comprehension book with just the same kind of set-up as the ones at school. (This is not an isolated situation folks, we've been tackling this since October). In Sunriver, he was told that if he didn't get the short test 100% right, he'd practice on another one. Harsh, huh? But, you know what - he took his time- and yes, 100%. Yes, the kids IS bright, IS capable - and this time, DID see the importance.

So, this week is the third grade state testing on the computers for - you guessed it - reading comprehension. Apparently, the kids have 3 chances to take it and pass it - and fortunately, I happened to be in the classroom at just the right time yesterday to hear about all of this. Mr. Gulka explained how it would be much more advantageous to try really hard the first time, to take your time, double-check, and therefore pass it so you can have computer free-time while the other kids keep trying.

Oh, did we drive that point home with Brayden last night. He'll be earning 10 marbles (we have a marble jar that when full turns into a dollar) - if he comes home and tells me he TOOK HIS TIME and DOUBLE-CHECKED everything. And, yes - if he passes on the first round - there will be something big as a reward. AKA - Bribery.

In the big picture, we're hoping Brayden will see that he can totally do these things and it's fun to get the accolades and self satisfaction of an "A" on projects/tests. But, for the here and now - we're doing whatever it takes. Please don't judge us......

Monday, February 04, 2008

Mt. Bachelor

OK, folks, thanks for bearing with all of the pictures. As far as I can predict, this will be the last post regarding snow or Sunriver for quite sometime. As a sidenote, I've been working a lot with BookSmart and have finished about 75% of my book for 2006. I'm telling you, it is the coolest sense of accomplishment for me, and all of the pictures really make for quite a family history scrapbook. So, in the meantime, you get posts chock full of pictures - enough to make me think that my time with Blogspot will have to end at the end of the year because I will have surpassed my memory limit with pictures.

So, today, we made it up the mountain for our now, once-a-year attempt to go skiing/snowboarding. We set up in advance halfday lessons for the kids - snowboarding for Brayden, and skiing for Mikayla. That gave them some more much-needed instruction, and Mom and Dad a chance to have about a 2 hour date to play on the mountain together.

I'm very tempted to write a letter to Mt. Bachelor and give them a little constructive criticism on eliminating the total confusion that occurs for folks like us who want to do what I've described above. We had set out early, arriving at 9, for the 9:30 lesson time, only to discover we had about 4 stops to make here and there to order rentals, pay for everything, get our lift tickets, and finally check the kids in. There was a little "not telling the right hand what the left hand is doing" among the staff too - but, once we got past all that - we were "downhill from there" =o) (new smiley faces were stolen from Stephie's signature creation, I like them a lot!)

With kids checked in to what were practically private lessons - John and I ventured up the ski lift. COLD is an understatement for conditions at the top of the first lift (I can't imagine what it must have felt like at the summit!). But, fortunately, the clouds cleared not far down the slope, and John and I had an adventure together.

I did much better than last time, but still need to perfect the parallel skiing vs. the back and forth snowplowing technique I'm currently employing. Because of all of the new snow, a few times I got a little out of control in the deep powder and wiped out - at one point taking an extremely long time to get my darn boot back in the binding.

We only made three runs on the big mountain before joining the kids and marveling in their achievements and progress. It was then that I discovered the "Homerun" lift (aka Bunny Hill) and thought, "why haven't we spent the whole day here?". The lift was short, not a problem with cloud cover, and I totally felt in control. Of course, when you are paying for your skiing "by the run" the Bunny Hill is really not the most cost-effective choice!

However, it was PERFECT for the kids - and we were all able to take one more ride - John accompanying "star pupil" Brayden down snowboarding - and myself taking little Mikayla on her first ski lift ride and wondering to myself "How are we going to make it down, much less get her off the lift?" That girl totally surprised me. Not only did she make it off the lift with minimal concern, but after a bit of snafu with her binding, I let her hold the strap of one of my poles - and what do you know - we made it the whole way down without her falling once. She LOVED it - and I was so impressed. It took all of the knee and leg strength I possessed to keep as us from going down out of control by snowplowing...... but it was so worth it. Unfortunately, our camera had run out of batteries to record any of Brayden or our family runs - but the memories are priceless. As we enjoyed lunch in the lodge, we couldn't help repeating again and again how proud we were of our little snow-bunnies.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Stephie…and You Were Worried About Too Much Snow!!!

(Hey Folks - this is a guest post by John, his first time writing one! Way to go, Hon!)

Well, ok, you were right! This is not at Mt. Bachelor; it is just two houses down. It is our neighbor, Ben. He has been working on this snowboard course at his home, Sunriver Fox #3, for some time now. As it has snowed so much this week, he is determined to build a course all the way down the hill, through the neighborhood. I took pictures while Mikayla played with his dog, Samoa.

Our Uninvited Guest

We have a guest at our little cabin right now. We tried to lower the blinds for a while to see if he'd go away, but after 30 or so minutes of it closed, we opened it up, and there he was at the door again. You'd think the freezing temperatures would prevent visitors like this, but this guy's persistent.

When he first arrived, I tried to get the kids to ignore him. "You don't know if that guy's friendly", I said - but still, they kept begging to be able to help him, to open the door to him. Even as he kept peering at us through the window.

Finally, John came down to take this guy on. Enough's enough. But, how can you say "no" to this guy?

Actually, come to find out - "he" is a "she" - and her name is Samoa - she is a full-time resident of Sunriver, living just a few houses down. As concerned as the kids were about this "poor, shaking dog" - it turns out, she was shaking because she was watching the kids play with a balloon through the window and desperately wanted "in on the action". When we opened the door to her, she was desperate to play catch and would run after a snowball and search endlessly for its whereabouts.

Eventually, John tore a branch off the tree and talked to the neighbor as the kids played catch with her endlessly. Oh, my, would Sydney (who had to stay home because of pet restrictions here) be jealous!

How We've Spent Superbowl Sunday

We've had a lot of fun with the camera today - John in particular. So, I let him do all of the exporting of pictures - and he was able to cut it down to eleven..... =o)

The morning started out with trying the "Sledding Mountain" (vs. the Sledding Hill that we are used to). Scott turned us on to the knowledge that just around the corner is a much higher mountain to slide down, so we were ready to go.

Let's just say, a lot of powdery snow had fallen, the hill was a bear to climb, and the track was not groomed. I think we actually climbed the hill faster than we went down. (I'm exaggerating a bit - we did figure out a good run).

After deciding it would be okay to skip the other sledding area - we headed off to Hot Lava Bakery again - and then took pics around the village. Finally, we headed to the lodge to see if we could find any really cool decor for Michele's new house (no luck, but it's the thought that counts, right?). It was a great family morning!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Bull in a China Cabinet

The other day when we were at Red Robin and Brayden was doing his classic "oblivious 'bull in a china cabinet'" behavior (sleeves nearly skimming mustard, almost knocking over the drink) - I made that comment about him and John said he never understood what "bowl in a china cabinet" means - SILLY GOOSE - "It's bull not bowl.... no wonder you didn't understand!"

I've thought about that a lot today as I've been in close proximity to my son. Today, (and it's only 1:15 as I write this), he's left out milk all morning, nearly got his boot permanently stuck in the snow, spilled his beverage twice at Hot Lava Bakery, knocked himself and the chair over backwards at above mentioned bakery, broke a bowl all over the floor while trying to get ice cream, then left the glass fragments in the dustpan on the table, along with the gallon of ice cream and his bowl of ice cream because he got distracted with balloons and ran upstairs to play with them, and as John upon getting home just discovered, left his gloves outside so they'd disappear in the snow......- What to do with this boy? He's ALL OTTER - playful, playful, playful - but John and I are struggling in our attempts to get him to understand when more focus, attention, and concentrated effort are necessary. Sigh......

In the meantime, here's some fun pics of me and the kids braving the windy, steady, icy snowflakes that have been falling since we woke up. Since John was at the dentist appointment (with the vehicle) - we thought it would be fun to walk to the store and the mall - and make some priceless memories in our adventure.

Friday, February 01, 2008

We Just Didn't Get Enough Snow, So......

We headed to Sunriver.....

Actually, this has been planned for a while as John has a 4 hour dentist procedure to have done in Bend on Saturday. We thought we'd make the best of it and secure a cozy tiny cabin - and then spend the no-school day on Monday at Mt. Bachelor doing the "once a year" skiing/snowboarding experience.

Originally, the Whites were supposed to join us, but actually with them not here, we're better off. I don't have to share my DS game with Steph, don't have to worry about all the ice cream disappearing from Travis, and we don't have to share the extra bedroom. I'm not sure what we were thinking inviting them in the first place......*

Here are a few pics of the kiddos getting right into the snow as soon as we arrived around 4:30 this evening.

* Of course, Travis and Stephanie - you know we miss you a ton- and just know all the pressure we gave to you in trying to get you to come is only because we value your presence so much.......