Thursday, June 29, 2006

Thursday Thirteen - Things I'm good at

Thirteen Things Jessica is good at

Two Thursdays ago I wrote about things I want to improve about myself. In fact, I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about that particular topic. So I thought I'd try to come up with 13 nice things to say about myself. Since self-deprecation is an integral part of my personality, I'm not sure I'll make it . . .

1. I'm smart, but not so smart that it's annoying.

2. I'm funny, but not so funny that it's annoying.

3. I make a mean baked ziti.

4. I can carry a tune.

5. I knit nice baby blankets.

6. I'm good at baking - so long as it isn't some fancy pants Martha Stewart recipe involving kumquats or something.

7. I'm a pretty good dancer (not "best dancer at St. Bernadette's" good, but I can hold my own).

8. I can talk faster than almost anyone I know and still be understood (sort of).

9. I type 80 words per minute. Now if I could only think that fast . . .

10. I have a great memory for song lyrics. They might not always be the right lyrics, though. Sometimes I just make up words if I can't figure out what it is.

11. I'm a nice person. Most of the time.

12. I can use the word "penultimate" in a sentence. This is the penultimate item. Really.

13. I apparently don't have an overly-inflated ego, judging by how hard it was to finish this list.

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. ItÂ’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

New belt number 3

I got my green belt today, which makes me a 7th Gup. I had a good test generally but wasn't able to break the board with my breaking kick. Mentally, I just wasn't there. Before the test I kept thinking about how I hadn't practiced this kick with the practice board as I had for my first two tests. So I didn't feel confident that I could break a board. It wasn't that I don't know the technique or have sufficient physical strength (it actually doesn't take much power to break a board). I didn't have the mental strength I needed.

Miss M got her orange belt, making her a 6th Gup. She broke her board and was so proud of herself. This time her dad got to hold the board for her. The instructor gave her a choice of a thinner, "kids" board (which she's been able to break before) or a "big kid" board which is thicker. She chose the kids board because she knew she'd be able to break it. But next time, she's getting the big kid board. Before her turn to kick she said to me "When I break the board, can I bring it home with me?" Now that's confidence. That's what I should have been thinking.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Tae Kwon Do belt testing

So it's time for me to test for a new belt again! I'm not as comfortable with my breaking kick this time around so I'm nervous that I won't break the board this time. I also think my hubby and older daughter will be there - they haven't seen a test yet. Of course that will be the time that I don't break the board. Isn't that how this kind of stuff always works? Miss M is testing for a new belt tomorrow, too. She's such a little pistol and she concentrates and works so hard in class. I couldn't be prouder. When she practices stuff at home, she always points her finger at me and says "Mom. Don't help me. Even if you think I don't know. Don't. Help. Me." God, I love that.

Anyway, here's my belt test essay. Not my best effort, but I think it's ok.

What is martial arts spirit? How can you see it in every day life?

As we recite the student creed, we make promises to our instructor, our fellow students and ourselves. When we fulfill those promises – inside and outside of the dojang - we live the martial arts spirit.

We promise to develop and express our physical and mental abilities based on the martial arts spirit. We fulfill this promise by attending class, working on our techniques and having the right, positive attitude. But we can also fulfill this promise in the way we live and work outside the dojang.

We promise to seek truth and practice it and to promote the highest moral character through training and disciplining of the mind and body. When we live the martial arts spirit we respect ourselves enough to care for our bodies by eating well, getting sufficient sleep and avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking or excessive alcohol consumption. It might not be easy to pass up the coffee cake in the office or the dessert at home but making those tough choices to care for our bodies makes us stronger, not just physically, but mentally as well.

We promise to promote respect for the art of Tae Kwon Do through our actions and never use our martial arts skills for selfish ends. There are people who brag about their martial arts skills and try to make lower ranking students feel inferior. These actions reflect poorly on the study of Tae Kwon Do and show a weak character. Martial arts spirit teaches us to treat others with kindness and respect.

We promise to strive for justice, freedom and a meaningful life for ourselves and others; to promote trust and cooperation among all members of our society; to enrich our lives through knowledge and understanding of other cultures. An important part of the martial arts spirit is to look beyond our selfish needs and to care for others; our families, our friends and society in general. If we are respectful of others and worthy of their trust, our ability to promote cooperation among all members of our society will be enhanced. Our views are more likely to be trusted and respected. We cannot fulfill this promise if we do not have an understanding of other cultures, the strong moral character to stand up for what is right, and the strength to make the right choices.

We promise to use our strengths to positively affect the world we live in. This then, is the true essence of the martial arts spirit. If we fulfill the promise of the student creed, we can’t help but leave the world a better place.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thursday Thirteen - self-reflection edition

Thirteen Things Jessica needs to work on

I know this might come as a shock but I'm not perfect. Seriously. So here are some things that I'm working on. Or thinking about working on. Or should be thinking about working on.

1. Don't be so judgmental. I can get a bit preachy in my opinions. It's not that I'll stop giving opinions - solicited or not. (And this blog may get more opinionated and judgmental than it already is because, after all, that's more interesting than fair and balanced.) But in my "real" life, I need to be more aware of how my judgments about certain people affect the way I think about them and ultimately how I treat them.

2. Eat better. Ok, this one will always be on the list. The fact is, I like food. A lot. And, unfortunately for my hips, I like sugary and deep fried foods the best. But I recognize that I need to set a better example for the kids AND I want to feel healthier so I really need to do better on this front.

3. Get organized (and stay that way). I know, I know. This has also been on my list F.O.R.E.V.E.R. It's definitely a problem. I think I need to accept the fact that being organized involves the same struggle as balancing that I talked about in my last post. In order to stay balanced, you have to make constant adjustments. I have this fantasy that one day I'll get organized and stay that way without additional effort. I'll have to accept the fact that this will be a daily struggle for me.

4. Keep my promises. I'd like to think I'm getting better at this but I'm probably just getting better at not making as many promises. My kids know that I'm the queen of "We'll see" because I try hard not to promise them something if I'm not sure I'll be able to deliver. But the real problem is my bad habit of telling my husband "Sure, I'll take care of xyz." and then a week or two weeks later he asks about it and I haven't done it yet. I'll tell myself I didn't do it because I'm busy but there are plenty of busier people (my husband, for one) who manage to do the things they say they'll do. Part of my problem stems from issue #3 - if I was more organized, maybe things wouldn't fall through the cracks as much.

5. My writing. I really love to write. I think I could be a decent writer if I worked at it. One of my biggest problems is my fear of editing. I gotta get over that.

6. My upper body strength. Maybe if I work on this, my flabby arms will get less flabby. And then maybe my daughter won't say "Mom, I really don't think you should wear that sleeveless shirt. Try one of your short sleeve shirts instead." Ouch. But well-meaning and well-taken!

7. Get more knowledgeable about world events. This is another thing that will always be on the list. As opinionated as I am, I like to have at least one or two facts to back up what I'm saying. On certain topics, I am totally lacking in facts (but certainly not opinions).

8. Be a better friend. I'm not so good at keeping in touch with people. And if I haven't called someone in awhile, I feel guilty and then don't call them because I feel bad and before you know it, the friendship isn't there any more. Issue #3 rears its ugly head again - maybe with better organization and time management, I could schedule this kind of thing and actually do it rather than just relegating it to "later."

9. Quit whining so much. I have a great life. I need to remember that more often. For blogging, it's usually more interesting to complain about stuff than it is to be all "my life's so wonderful." I don't want to make my readers gag. But in real life, I complain too much. And I really shouldn't. It's not attractive.

10. Play the piano more often. This goes in the file of "Yeah, in my copious spare time" along with knitting. At least I can knit and watch TV at the same time. And, yes, I know. If I disconnected the damn TV, I'd have plenty of time to do other stuff. But I like TV and I love TiVo so that ain't gonna happen.

11. Get better at showing my husband how much I appreciate him. I tell him all the time. But I think I need to show it more. If you have any suggestions on how I might do that (other than writing about it in my blog where he'll see it - hi honey! - and hopefully smile).

12. Stop swearing so much. I go through phases in my life when I swear a lot. I'm going through one of those phases now. It's another thing I do that isn't so attractive.

13. Most importantly, I need to get over myself. This may come as a surprise but I tend to think about myself too much. In a way, blogging makes that worse. I tend to write about what I know - and I find the topic of me endlessly fascinating. (Truth be told, I think my husband and kids are also endlessly fascinating but I try not to write about them too much because they didn't agree to open their lives to the random -but so far generally very nice - people that read this blog.) Once I get over the idea that I need facts to back up my opinions, then I could write about all kinds of things and maybe then I'll spend more time thinking about something other than me.

See the Sidebar for loads of links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Hot Momma

I was reading an article earlier this week about the "new" Hot Mom - a woman who manages to be hip and sexy and have her own life even after she has children. The Hot Mom stays sexy for her husband and still does "hip" things like travel and party with her girlfriends. The article quotes the founder of The Hot Moms Club as saying that a Hot Mom loves being a mom but doesn't get "consumed by the madness of motherhood." She "radiates confidence" and is able to "balance her needs as well as the needs of her family."

My favorite quote from the article was this: "When I became pregnant, I vowed that he would be integrated into the life we already had," Bolstad said. "Sure, we don't go out as much and maybe we don't go clubbing until 4 a.m., but I'm not going to stop doing the things I like." Maybe you don't go clubbing until 4 a.m.? Maybe?? I don't know about you, but I found it impossible to integrate kids into a pre-kid lifestyle. Those little buggers still won't let me read the Sunday paper in peace and what with all the dishes to do, manicures are a complete waste of time. It strikes me that you don't usually hear women saying "When I got married, I vowed to integrate my husband into the life I already had." I mean - isn't the idea of marriage to create a life together? Instead of insisting that our children be integrated into our pre-kid lives, shouldn't the goal be to create a new life together as a family? That doesn't mean you stop doing the things you love. My husband and I have always loved theater so now we make an effort to bring the kids to shows that are appropriate for them. Granted, if we were into the club scene, it would be a bit harder to include the kids . . .

I know I probably need to relax and get a sense of humor but this whole "Hot Moms" movement bugs me. Most mothers I know are under tons of pressure already. It's hard enough to juggle all our responsibilities and find even a little time for ourselves. I just figured out that I should stop trying to be the woman in the Enjoli perfume ad and now I hear that moms are supposed to be hip? And sexy? Maybe my irritation at the whole thing is just sour grapes because I'm so not hip. In recent memory, the closest I've gotten to being hip was doing the Electric Slide at the school picnic and embarrassing the heck out of my third grader. Which, come to think of it, was really fun. Especially the embarrassing my third grader part.

As a '70s kid, I thought I would grow up to be like the Enjoli woman, easily shifting from good mom to successful employee to great-in-the-sack wife without breaking a sweat or inappropriately allowing the different parts of my life to seep into another. I really thought I could have it all - at the same time - with a smile on my face. But the reality is that it's hard to juggle those roles. And I have it easy - I have a husband who does more than his fair share of the household duties. We're also lucky enough to be able to afford vacations and the occasional spa treatment.

The "Hot Mom" thing irks me for the same reason the book 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know : Getting Back to Basics and Raising Happy Kids bothered me. They imply that there's an easy formula - for happy kids, for a balanced life - and if you're struggling, there's something wrong with you. Have you ever watched someone try to balance on a big rubber ball? They're never standing still - they constantly adjust their position to stay in balance. If they relax, even for a second, they fall. A minor miscalculation throws the whole thing off. Keeping in balance is a constant struggle. It seems to me that if balancing your life isn't at least a little bit hard, maybe you're not really balancing.

And, finally, what's up with this whole idea of not being "consumed by the madness of motherhood?" Is that really possible? The moment I gave birth to our children I became insane - with love, worry, frustration and admiration. (Oh, and hormones, too.) I may not be a Hot Mom but I'm a better, stronger, less selfish person than I was before I had kids. Becoming a mother changed me. Consumed me, in a way. And I wouldn't change that for the world.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated

If a blogger blogs and no one's listening, is it still blogging? Ok, sorry attempts at humor aside, I am still very much alive but haven't been writing lately for all kinds of lame ass reasons. Mainly, I've been really, really busy. Excuses, excuses.

I have a great post in my head about our recent trip to Disney World (otherwise known as the fourth circle of Hell). I just haven't had time to write it. And I kept thinking that I didn't want to blog until I had time to write the perfect post about our "vacation". And since I'm incapable of writing a perfect post no matter how much time I have, I haven't written a word. And now it's been two weeks since we were in Florida and I'm starting to forget all the funny things I was going to write.

But since I am ever the optimist, I'm still hoping I'll get to it later. When I have time. (Cue maniacal laughter).

So, hi to anyone still out there. I'm going to take some time to visit my old haunts. Then maybe I'll be inspired to spend more time writing!