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June 2008

Yoga (or Sometimes Laughable Impossibility)

I've mentioned now and again that I'm a yoga fan. I've been to some classes at the local Y, and Blackstone and I were doing a rather intense heated yoga class a few years back, right up until I broke my ankle. Since then I haven't done much in the way of group exercise period. For the last couple of years, most of my exercise has been done at home. When it's nice, sometimes I walk at lunch. Sometimes I'll even do the gym at lunch, but I don't want to take the time to shower and do the hair and make-up again, so I try to keep the intensity down when I do that. It's not my favorite way to work out, just too inconvenient.

These days, I usually work out before or after work, sometimes on the weekend mornings. We have a cross trainer in the bedroom, so sometimes I just do that while I'm watching TV. I also have hand weights and yoga mat. I'll record various exercise programs and do those, you know, change it up a bit. You can find just about any kind of exercise show on TV - aerobics, kick-boxing, yoga, belly dancing, hip-hop routines, step, pilates. I've been recording some of Namaste Yoga programs. They're a half hour and most of them are pretty do-able. Now, there are all different types and levels of yoga. I suppose I'm rather intermediate. I know a good deal of the common poses, my strength and flexibility is moderate. I cannot do hand stands or splits. Luckily, Namaste Yoga doesn't do too much of this. Though this morning they wanted me to stand in a modified tree position with one foot tucked up at my hip, then crouch forward touching the floor (already I'm stuck not being able to reach the floor, because the tightness in my hips is a major reason I do yoga in the first place, a rather common problem for women as they age, especially after having children). Then I'm supposed to lean forward, put my knees on my elbows and balance on my hands. I can't imagine how much yoga I'd have to do to get myself to this level. Probably way more than I ever intend on doing.

I want to stay flexible and strong, try to avoid loss of bone density, ward off weight gain. I'm not sure I need to be able to balance on my hands at this point in my life. At the moment, I couldn't do it if my life depended on it. And I'd probably do my body a great deal more harm than good.


Local Celebrity

You may not have known that I was a local celebrity, at least I used to be, courtesy of my Grandpa. Now, my Grandpa was truly a local celebrity. He was the sports caster for a local radio station all my life, until the day he died, when I was a teenager. He died suddenly. Went to work that day, went to bed and died of heart failure in his sleep. Along with doing the sports, he also did the weather. People used to tell him that they only followed his weather forecasts and wanted to know how he was always so accurate. "I look out the window," he would tell them.

My Grandpa drove me home from school every day from first grade through sixth grade. He drove me to dance lessons too. He had a VW beetle in baby blue at first. I used to call it the Mickey Mouse car because it sort of looked like Mickey Mouse and it squeaked. I also called milk "mook" because cows said "moo" and cows made "mook." Yeah, I was a strange kid. He eventually replaced it with a Dodge Colt, which would become my first car when I was seventeen.

I was also rather precocious, and my Grandma had this habit of making tape recordings of me. She had dozens of tapes of me when I was about three or four, reciting stories and singing songs - The Three Little Pigs, Goldie Locks, Eggbert the Easter Egg, and Take Me Out to the Ball Game. My Grandpa must have had a real soft spot for my rendition of Take Me Out to the Ball Game. He brought it to work with him, and he would play it on the radio at the opening of every baseball season. It was rather embarrassing once I got to be a teenager, but I never paid much attention to sports, nor did I listen to AM radio, so it's not like I had to suffer through it. But one person or another would always tell me they heard me on the radio after he played it.

I hadn't thought about that tape recording in years. Blackstone contacted a fellow Mason who works at the radio station for some reason. He remembers my Grandpa, and me from when I was a kid. He said they don't play the tape at the beginning of baseball season anymore. He said he thinks it was destroyed per my request. I don't remember ever making such a request, but I suppose it's entirely possible. I guess my fifteen minutes of fame are up, but how much can that matter when I had completely forgotten about them?


Smarts and Stuff

It's funny to me that Liz commented that she doesn't comment much because it takes her so long to research and think about the things that I write. Bookgirl said something similar to me a while back, that when she describes my blog to people, she describes it as being very smart. I told her most people who've read my blog are just totally shocked that I write about orgasms. Honestly guys, thanks, I'm flattered, but it's really weird for me too. I know now that I'm a rather intelligent person, not Mensa or anything, but pretty smart. It took me a long time to realize that, though.

I grew up with a very smart group of kids. I mean Bookgirl's a Mensa member, that's pretty intimidating. Her grades were always way better than mine. And Polly, well, sometimes she uses words I need to go look up. Kind of funny since we met when she started cheating off me during our vocabulary quizzes in junior high. There were many kids who scored in the 14 and 15 hundreds on their SAT's in our classes. I was always an honor roll student, always in the top classes (except for English my senior year of high school). But I was also almost always (except English) at the bottom of the class when it came to grades in those honors classes. Part of it was that I split myself so very thin with all the extra-curriculars that I didn't sleep much and didn't study as much as I should have. Between theater, writing for the newspaper, playing the clarinet, and working part time, my schedule was booked very tight. Part of it was that I was way too horny to care about concentrating on my studies more. Hey, it's not only boys that have that problem. Which one of our friends was it that coined our tortuous state as "cunt throb"? I know it wasn't me. And then there was the drinking and the other less than legal substance, that didn't help.

My mother was always comparing me to another of my friends. My grades were always a few points lower than hers. It was so frustrating. We'd study together for math tests. I would explain problems to her, and then she'd always score a few points higher than me on the tests. I swear, I don't know which of the gods I pissed off, but someone was seriously tormenting me, that's how it felt. I had a teacher who asked the class once if we understood some new concept she was teaching us. When I nodded in agreement she said, "Well, if Diosa gets it, then you all get it." That's kind of the way high school rolled for me.

When I started working at a convenience store and met kids that went to other schools, that was really the first time I saw people not only recognizing my intelligence, but also being rather intimidated by it. I was used to getting teased like I was an air-head. It was quite shocking to me. I had recently taken my SAT's and by my friends' standards done just okay. One of the guys I worked with asked me how I did and I answered honestly. His mouth fell open and he wouldn't tell me his score, he was too embarrassed. It was an entirely new arena for me.

Whereas many kids have trouble adjusting to college, the work load, competing with an entirely new and more diverse group of students, the transition was cake for me. In fact, it was way easier than high school. I no longer had this stereotype of being an idiot following me around. Teachers no longer treated me like I was the dumbest kid in the room. Of course, I only went to a state college. I'm sure it would have been different at a bigger, more prestigious university.

There are still subjects that if you were to quiz me on, I'd sound like a moron. I have trouble keeping politics straight. I usually write about it more for my benefit than anything else. My knowledge of history and world politics is abysmal. Geography is a serious weak point. I must have been in at least fifth grade before I understood the difference between a city, state or country. I can still get lost in a box. And if you haven't noticed, for a former English teacher, my spelling is atrocious when I don't spell check.


They Grow Up Too Fast

LT has a girlfriend. Well, if you ask him, he says he doesn't, but his girlfriend would beg to disagree. She calls him her boyfriend, they go to the dance studio together. Well, at least they do until tomorrow, because after that we're taking the summer off from dance and starting swim lessons and karate instead. So, she'll have to find some way to deal with not seeing her boyfriend for a while. I think she'll manage. She's sixteen . . . and completely smitten with my four-year-old. He gives her hugs and kisses, but insists she's NOT his girlfriend. His exact words when I asked him if he had a girlfriend were, "Not yet." I asked him who his girlfriend was going to be. He gave me the name of a five-year-old girl in his dance class. Very adorable and sweet little girl. Only one problem with that. She's all moony-eyed for his brother, and Trouble seems rather affable towards her too.

I hope this is not foreshadowing of what the future holds.


No, We're not in Kansas

I had a dream the other night that there was a tornado. I know, how often do we have tornadoes in the NE? But this is a dream, and in my dream there was a tornado, not a hurricane. The tornado hit very suddenly, without any warning. Trouble and I were in the house and we had to go outside to get LT. He was playing in the yard. The tornado was getting close and he was starting to blow away, but we managed to get him and bring him back in the house. Then I brought the kids down to the basement and tied us all together with a rope and then tied the rope to a beam. I don't remember anything after that. Somehow I think I felt safe once we were tied to the beam, though I doubt that would do much good if the house was struck by a tornado.

I think I might be a little stressed.


It's All About Perspective

Trouble brought home piles of paper work from school yesterday. One of them was a sheet that had people staring at a lake and the instructions were to draw a picture of a monster. Trouble had drawn a big monster with blood shooting everywhere. No big surprise there. And the monster was saying, "I hate you," to the people. The unusual thing is that "I hate you" was written backwards, and when I say backwards, I mean written from right to left, each letter written backwards. It was an exact mirror image. I asked him why he had done that and he had no answer. Not only did he have no answer, he didn't understand that he'd written it backwards.

This is not the first time he's done something like this. We went to a family day when he was in pre-school and there was a teacher sitting across from him at a table and she asked him to write his name. He picked up the pencil and wrote his name upside down and backwards, so it read correctly to her sitting across from him, like it was the most natural thing in the world. She said she'd never seen a kid do that before.

Most of the time his writing is normal. Occasionally there's a letter that's backwards or something. His writing's not that great and the spelling is still very imaginative. But every once in a while, I'll see he's written something completely mirror image. I don't know quite what to make of it. I don't think that's dyslexia. My understanding is that would cause him to read and write with the letters randomly backwards and forwards, more jumbled. And that's not what he's doing. I wonder, if in drawing the picture, he was seeing the words from inside the picture, like from the monster's perspective?

Trouble's also a lefty, and I know that can be associated with different brain activity, different ways of thinking. Not sure if that might somehow be connected. We have several left-handed people in the family, and none of them seem to have done that.

Anyone else have a kid that does this? Is it as unusual as it seems to me? Trouble absolutely has his own ideas about things. He is undoubtedly wise beyond his years in many respects, but just making grade level in others. He's a great critical and abstract thinker, he already has a shocking aptitude for negative numbers. His reading is on the lower-normal range for his age. But this backwards writing thing. It's just baffling. I'd have a problem doing it if someone asked me to, and he has trouble even comprehending that he's done something strange.

P.S. - Amazing what you can find on Google. Suppose it can't be that troubling when he's in the company of da Vinci.



A Strong Sense of Self and Desire for Order

At first, I thought it was just Trouble that had this almost OCD-like compulsion about needing things to be a certain way, but it's LT too. Now, they are messy kids. You can't walk in their rooms without stepping on a toy, they leave their dirty clothes on the bathroom floor, their shoes are always lying in the middle of a doorway. So no, it's not OCD and they are not neat-freaks. But it is the most bizarre things that they feel the need to exercise order over.

Trouble had a fit on my grandmother one day when he was about two. She was giving him a piece of cake and she couldn't figure out why he kept screaming and crying and pointing to the cake, obviously very upset. The boy LOVES chocolate cake, what could all the screaming possibly be about? "What's the matter?" she asked me, when she couldn't get a clear answer out of him. Mother's know these things about their kids. "The cake isn't standing straight up on the plate," I told her. "You're kidding!" she said in surprise. But she stood the cake up and Trouble was completely satisfied and started eating it. He's always done strange things like this.

We took the kids to Niagara Falls when Trouble was three and LT was just an infant. Trouble threw one of the worst temper tantrums in the lobby. I was holding LT and chasing Trouble around a crowded lobby. He wanted to go to the pool or something and wouldn't get in the elevator. He kept laughing and falling on the floor. I had to carry the baby and a kicking and screaming three-year-old onto the elevator. I'm not big on spanking the kids. We generally try other means of discipline first, but when we got up to the room after that fit, I spanked him. And he yelled at me, "YOU DON'T DO THAT TO ME!!!"

I NEVER would have yelled at my parents growing up. Not at two, not at seven, not at sixteen. NEVER. And it's not that either of my boys yells at me much. There are rules, consequences, and mostly they respect them. It's that complete sense of understanding of the way things are that Trouble has that astounds me. It's not about whether he's right or wrong, it's his unwavering belief that he is right that makes me uneasy. I never remember being that way as kid. I was timid, questioning, uncertain. So different from Trouble, and now it seems my LT as well.

LT had a fit on me yesterday while I was getting him dressed. The tank top I put on him had a picture of Scooby-Doo, but Scooby was located on the side of the shirt, not the middle, and LT wanted me to put it in the middle. I tried about six different ways of explaining to him that I couldn't move the picture. I tried to get another shirt. LT wasn't hearing any of it, he just want me to move Scooby. "JUST MOVE IT!!!" he kept yelling at me. He refused to put on his underwear and shorts. I told him to finish getting ready when he was done screaming and just left him there. Eventually he did stop screaming and finish getting dressed. After that I didn't hear any more about it, thank God!

I'm not sure if it's just that this is their own personalities, or if it's the difference in their upbringing, or maybe it has something to do with them being boys. I'm also not sure if this is a positive character trait or a negative one. Self-assuredness is good to a point, but then there's demanding and expecting the impossible. Hopefully they learn the difference between those things which can be controlled, those that can't and those that just don't matter. I mean seriously, you're going to eat the cake, it doesn't matter if it's on its side. But there's no explaining that to a two-year-old. Actually, there's no explaining anything to a two-year-old. There's just talking until your blue in the face, feeling you'd be accomplishing more if you just stood there and whacked your head against the wall. Luckily when they're four, you can just walk away and leave them standing there with no pants on until they come to their senses. I love reasonable beings, even if it takes them a few minutes to realize that they are one.


The Gaming Question

Well, it's finally happened. I knew it was coming. There was no stopping it really. My little boy is growing up. He'll be done first grade in the matter of a few short weeks. He rides the bus all by himself, for two years now. He has friends in the neighborhood. There are kids I don't know calling the house. Girls calling the house. So with all this growing up - the phone calls and visits to friends houses - we knew the question was coming.

Can I have an X-Box or a Wii?

Trouble has his own computer. It resides in the living room because I don't want the kids to have them in their bedrooms. I want to be able to see what they're doing on there. I don't want them feeling free to hole themselves up in their room and IM until they go blind, or download porn at all hours of the night. Yes, I know we're not there yet, but it's uncomfortably close. Trouble already knows how to Google and watch videos on YouTube. It's frightening already. The main purpose of Trouble having a computer, one he's soon to find out belongs not only to him but is also to be shared with his brother, is so he can play games and Blackstone and I don't have to worry about him destroying and corrupting computers that we work with.

Trouble LOVES video games. And there are lots of free games online for kids. He plays at nick, nickjr, disney, cartoonnetwork, and a whole list of others. But we knew the video game question was coming. He's getting older, his friends have X-Boxes and Wiis. And he has mentioned it on occasion before . . . and we've ignored him. We've told him he has to wait until he's older, maybe ask Santa for one for Christmas. But he wants to negotiate and know what he has to do to get one. I suppose there are worse things.

But Blackstone thinks I'm being indulgent to consider getting him a gaming system. He doesn't think he should have one, period. He doesn't want to have one of those kids who breathes, sleeps and eats video games. And I get that, I do. Trouble could easily be one of those kids if we let him. I also think that if it's something Trouble really wants and he's willing to work to get it and understands that his game time will be limited, then it's not exactly the worst thing in the world. And I know if he doesn't get one, then the coming years are going to be very much about going to friend's houses who do have them.

So, I think for better or for worse, I've managed to talk Blackstone into the idea of letting Trouble earn a gaming system. So now the question becomes - what do I get, an X-box or a Wii? At first I was thinking I'd try to get a re-built X-box. You know, just try to get something as cheaply as possible that will satisfy him. I still have visions of M&M's or a peanut butter sandwich ruining a $500 gaming system. But I've had some conversations with co-workers who suggest that the Wii is really the better system to buy him. Better because the games are less violent, much sociable and interactive. It's less about one kid sitting there hunched over a controller blowing things up. So I guess that's where we're going. It seems I'm looking at $300-$400 to purchase one. Ouch! Maybe I should tell him he has to wait until Christmas.