Jun 18, 2016

I Run With My Heart...

Through the years when folks have talked about "witnessing" at church, one of the big questions is how to talk about Jesus without making it awkward and/or sales-y. And one of the more preferable (to me) answers is that you get excited talking about things and people you love, so treat talking about Jesus in a similar way.**

I like that approach for a lot of reasons. First, I'm not going to try to get you to be besties with my besties, or sell you all the things I love, but I might tell you why I'm so excited about them. No pressure; but we're getting to know each other, so you might as well know what I'm into. And maybe you'll want to experience them too, or maybe not, but it's not really my job to force you into anything. That would be weird.

And I do love Jesus. Like, a lot. I have some stories to tell about him, which I'll share in good time. And if you want to talk about him with me, please let me know, because I can talk your ear off about him til the cows come home.

But instead of Jesus, today I'm going to talk about running...

The reason I'm so excited about running these days is that I started a new marathon training program. That's right, it's time for me to check my "full marathon before age 40" goal off the bucket list (with a year to spare).

I'm excited because I've done two half marathons now, with decent results. I know I'm capable of training to go the full distance, and with proper care and feeding, my butt-issues have been under good control.

But I've been nervous because I remember how I felt at the end of my first half, and I couldn't imagine how I'd feel running two entire half marathons in a row. Also, I've hit a bit of a rut this spring. Last fall I met some new friends to run with on the weekends and my mile pace started getting quicker, but after the long, dark winter it felt like a slog to just maintain what I'd already been doing.

I decided I needed a change. I looked up plans online and found an 8-week half-marathon plan just in time for the race I wanted to run in Maine. I was excited to move up from a beginner to intermediate category and add some speed work. I figured that would be the ticket to bump me out of my rut. And I did well for the first half, but then my SI joint started giving me fits. And not little fits, either; more like a single, giant tantrum. It was rough.

So I had to rein in the training and deal with my SI instead. It took a few weeks, but soon I was on the mend. I had to adjust expectations on my race and go more conservatively than I'd originally planned. Apparently I'm not ready for "balls-to-the-wall" training or racing. But race day came and went, and I completed the race none the worse for wear...and 5 minutes faster than a year ago!

Well in the midst of all this stuff, I listened to a podcast episode of Another Mother Runner focusing on heart rate training. I've always poo-poo'd HRT as too technical for my tastes, but by the end of the episode I had done a 180 and decided that I'm in the right time and place to train for my marathon by heart rate.

Now before this I hadn't looked into heart rate training much, and I still haven't. The big reason I decided to actually drop money on a training plan is that it comes with a coach, whom I spoke with on the phone before committing.

That's right, I made an actual phone call to a complete stranger for this nonsense. I told you I was excited.

The reason the phone call is significant is that while some folks might try to motivate you to go HARDER and try for the more INTENSE paths, she actually talked me down to the less difficult choice. I might as well tell you that my secret desire (haven't decided whether it's a feasible goal yet) is to qualify for the Boston Marathon, so my original aim was to do the OUTSTANDING plan (this is its actual name). But I spoke with Coach MK to see if there were any factors I wasn't considering, which would be good reason to instead sign up for the INCREDIBLE plan (also its actual name). And it turned out she had like 5 solid reasons for me to stick to INCREDIBLE. So for now, Boston will remain a sort of nebulous "maybe someday" goal, because I have a lot of work to do before I consider it (I knew having kids and butt-issues would require a lot of rebuilding, but both have taken even more out of me than I thought).

SO, down to brass tacks. The whole deal with training by heart rate is that you build your aerobic base to make your body more efficient and able to go faster. And the way you build your aerobic base is by running slow and controlled. You run slow and controlled, and you recover better, and it makes you less prone to injury over the long term, and oh-by-the-way you get faster.

It sounds crazy and depending on what you read, the Internet may or may not agree. All this stuff involves science and math, and you can really dig deep and get all esoteric about it (and also go crazy trying to sift through the junk to get to the good stuff), but the beauty of having a coach is that she has done all that stuff for me, and all I have to do is follow the plan.

It did involve adding technology to the mix, namely a heart rate monitor. You can buy a heart rate watch and strap...OR in this age of smart phones you can buy just a strap and link to any number of apps. I went with the latter mostly because I'm cheap, and I'm part hippie, so the less I have to spend the more I feel like I'm being a "pure" runner, or some such thing. My phone app doesn't have some of the features a watch comes with (like an alarm when you go over your target), but so far my frugality has won out over convenience.

That said, I'm only a week in so I hesitate to make any large-scale declarations at this point. But here's what I can tell you from my first week--

  • This is an entire mind shift for me. Completely different focus, plan, everything. It's good to have new things to think about.
  • Running slow is its own exercise in discipline. I have to be a lot more mindful about it.
  • I'm tired and ready to be done at the end of a run, but I'm not thrashed for the rest of the day.
  • Sugar cravings are down this week, as are episodes of being "rungry."
  • After a few tries it is getting easier to maintain heart rate pace.
  • As time goes on I'll get faster, but for now my pace has gotten slower by about 3 minutes per mile (also, I'm not supposed to focus on pace), and it varies a LOT more depending on slope, wind, etc.
  • On Free Run day I did my "regular" easy-ish pace and was surprised at how WIPED OUT I felt afterward. Coach MK said, "Haha, you thought those were endorphins. ;)"
  • I love running all the more this week. Have I mentioned how much I love it????
In conclusion, the week hasn't been entirely rainbows and unicorns (my back and butt gave me some small fits for other reasons), but running-wise it has been a great start. I like to quote high-school-aged Dean Karnazes and say that I run with my heart, but in this case I'm actually running with my heart (rate).

Carry on, you poetic noble land mermaids...  





**Sidenote: the less preferable (to me) approaches include deliberately and relentlessly steering  every conversation toward trying to get people to kneel and say a prayer, knocking on strangers' doors, being "bolder," and/or hitting people with Bibles. Somewhere, somehow they have probably worked, or at least appeared so...but they are not for me. I mean, unless you want to kneel and say a prayer.  HAPPY TO HELP!


Jun 9, 2016

Made-Up Terms Defined: Semi-Plausible Deniability...

A little blurb I wrote on my Facebook page, complete with my favorite Gilda Radner sketch of all time...

There are times when you're mobile-working at the cube farm for the day, and cell reception is out in the hallway, and your phone rings with a work call so you're rushing and concentrating on getting out into the hall so you can pick up the call before it goes to voicemail, that you might forget to engage your core all the way.

When this happens, there's a slight chance a toot will escape. It will likely be a little toot, and not offensive. In fact it will be of such quality and (low) volume that depending on proximity, it might be mistaken for something different, like a shoe or ring scraping a wall, or something. This is called semi-plausible deniability.

Semi-plausible deniability is how you tell yourself that you have no idea who heard what, but it's maybe--just maybe--possible that what they heard was not actually a toot.

Or maybe they did hear that little toot in all its quiet little glory, but seriously, who cares? You are wearing a coat, for heaven's sake, and you walk around with a serious look of concentration because you are a Serious Worker, and you take professional calls in the hallway like a BOSS. Sometimes a little collateral gas enroute is part of the deal.

Either way, it will be a good reminder to always engage your core, and to walk around with a serious look of concentration that doesn't take any guff, and you will go far.

Carry on, Professional You.

You're welcome...




Apr 18, 2016

Playing Favorites...

Today I would like to talk about which of my children is my favorite, and why. I'm aware that it's uncouth to admit to such things, but I think when you hear the whole story you'll agree with me.

Now, when talking to them separately, I tell each that (s)he is my favorite and why. His Highness is most like me in personality, so we relate on many levels. Plus he is the oldest, so he can physically keep up more often with whatever we are doing. The Littler One is the biggest presence; he has ALL the feelings and ALL the spunk and personality, and is just a kick to be around. And Tiny E and I have a lot in common, being the girls of the family and all, and she is the sweetest sassy lamb.

I mean, under extreme duress and coercion, I might be persuaded to pick a secret-favorite, but it would be very difficult, as I'm sure many parents would agree. I tend to have daily favorites depending on who is having a hard or easy time at any given moment, but over time those balance out fairly evenly.

**********

One of my favorite takeaways from my year of therapy was that I need to leave my family.  Or at least, leave them more often for short periods of time. Longer than, say, an evening, but not necessarily several weeks at a time or anything.

Incidentally, this is not the Cat Daddy's favorite part of my personal growth. Character-building is rarely fun.

That was, like, a year ago, and so far I've managed exactly 3 nights away from my family, with another night or two on next month's schedule. It's not quite the pace I was hoping for, but it is progress and we are getting there.

**********

Which brings us to yesterday afternoon. Sunday afternoons are our traditional chores time. And by "our chores time," I mean "the kids' chores time." Sunday afternoons are our time to dedicate to harping on lovingly nurturing the children in the guidance of proper technique.

Usually we divide and conquer, one of us taking His Highness for bathroom duty, and the other helping the littles through their tasks. Unfortunately, I hadn't yet made it to my weekly commissary run, and we were out of snacks, so we had to change it up this time. We worked out a deal where I would go to the commissary, the Cat Daddy would help all the kids complete their chores with WAY less fussing than normal from everyone, and whoever finished by the time I got back would get to go out for ice cream.

I was not optimistic. It really could have ended up resembling something like World War III. However, they floored me by ALL finishing by the time I walked in the door with groceries. This means we had clean bathrooms, vacuumed carpets, cleared floors, empty little trash cans, and wiped-down stairwell walls. People were smiling, nobody was yelling, and I wondered if I had stepped into some parallel universe on the way from the garage to the house.

I had a happy fit, gushing about how great they all were, and how proud I was, and wasn't it fantastic to be done with the chores so we could enjoy the rest of the day?!? We all agreed that indeed it was, and I went into the kitchen to put the groceries away.

Soon the Cat Daddy came in to give me the debrief. I was mildly concerned about what hiccups they might've had along the way, but he said they all pitched in and did a really good job. I have a few theories about how my being out of sight makes them transform into angel children a lot of the time, but we figured the promise of ice cream also helped quite a bit.

The Littler One joined us in the kitchen, and I gushed over him a little bit more and asked how he thought they were able to do such a good job with so much less fussing than normal, and he said it was because I left. He then said (and I quote):

"Mom, you should leave during chores time every week! And Daddy can work with us, and you can go do stuff in the afternoon during chores time!"

My eyes brightened, and I said, "Come here! Give me a hug! I think you're right! You are SO smart!" And I immediately gave him a six-second hug.

The Cat Daddy laughed and said, "No! The Littler One! We're not supposed to send Mommy away!"

And the Littler One said, "Yes! She should go away and do things while we do chores!"



And this is why the Littler One is forever and always my favorite child...

Apr 4, 2016

Scissor Safety...

All that glisters is not good for actually cutting things.

Today I'd like to rant a little bit about the dangers of childhood. On the left is one type of children's scissors. While they have a rounded tip, they have real metal blades. On the left of course is a pair of plastic scissors. They're really interesting because while they will cut paper, the blades are plastic so as to merit the description "child safe" and slow the safety-conscious heartbeats of preschool parents everywhere.

Also, they are pretty much useless.

They came with a cute little pad of colorful picture pages for cutting practice. Tiny E LOVED them because they are sparkly, and definitely wanted to use them over the boring old scissors she's been using for ages. I helped her with hand positioning and whatnot, but she couldn't get them to work right. They kind of flailed about in her sweet little almost-4-year-old hands, and the blades were wiggly enough that instead of being cut, the paper either folded itself between them or cut, but in a ripping sort of way. She was all, "Cutting is too hard."

Nope. Terrible scissors are too hard, kiddo.

I handed her the metal ones and said "Here, try these instead." But she wouldn't. She REALLY wanted the sparkly ones to work out. So I let her flail them about for a while, until she actually said, in her sweet little almost-4-year-old voice, "Maybe you wight, Mom," and agreed to give the old scissors a try (A response which, incidentally, I stored up in my heart for future access and remembrance when the conversation goes decidedly differently. Not that I can use it in any way, but it will be lovely to remember days gone by).

Did she then cut all the pictures out perfectly? Of course not; she's not some sort of creepy paper-cutting genius or anything. But she had a steadier grip with several fingers in the big loop, and when she cut her little paper scraps to bits, they were nice, smooth edges.

On the parenting spectrum, we fall somewhere in the vicinity of the free-range arena. Of course I don't want my kids chopping entire fingers off as a habit or anything, but I'm OK with their needing band-aids or maybe even the occasional stitches (only once so far, knock on wood). I mean, I'm a grown-up, and I still get injured by stupid plain old paper from time to time. Boo-boos happen.

But the thing about this situation is that I see it as a case of respecting tools as not-toys, learning how to work the tools in an age-appropriate way, and using the right tools to do a job. Cut paper, not skin, etc. Use decent scissors, and cutting is just exactly as difficult as it needs to be for a sweet little almost-4-year-old. Some parents might see the more realistic scissors and think they're more dangerous, but to me that's analogous to grown-ups who see sharp kitchen knives as more dangerous than dull ones. Maybe it depends on your definition of "dangerous," but I think the better tools are safer because they work as intended.

In conclusion, since we have about 5 pairs of the Fiskars kid scissors, I decided it was best for all if I found a new home for the sparkly plastic ones. For our family, everyone is better off this way.

Don't fear the metal, kids. It's just a little steel...

Look at the nice clean edge straight through that house.

Mar 3, 2016

On Chiropractic and Caring...

Today I'd like to talk about my chiropractor.

The truth is that I started going to a chiropractor back in Alabama. I haven't written about it yet because for so many years I was anti-chiropractic, and I couldn't find a way to succinctly describe why I had not only given chiropractic a shot, but ended up doing about a 150-degree flip on the matter (No, not 180 degrees. Still about 30 degrees skeptical).

And honestly, it's kind of a boring story. Ever since prolotherapy, I've been putting a lot of work into getting strong and re-building a healthy neck/back/spine from so many years of hinkiness. I'm super-fortunate in that for the most part, staying strong will let me live well and (mostly) pain-free, but there are a few bits & pieces that I'll always have to pay attention to. So I ended up considering chiropractic for a long-term maintenance plan, and here I am.

Here's what I can tell you thus far about chiropractors--they are as many and as varied as any other doctors, and yes they are actual doctors, though not in the medical field, per se. My chiropractor here is a little on the woo-woo side. He has complimented my chakras and has a bazillion supplements to try if I should ever desire, but he doesn't require or really even push them unless I inquire. Which I appreciate, because maybe one day I will actually want to inquire, but not until I'm ready. The Cat Daddy says I've become a 'damn hippie,' and he's not entirely wrong (I haven't delved into the essential oils. Yet).

As I get to know Dr Chiro, one thing I like more and more about him is his kind spirit. His clientele is a mixed bag of all sorts of New Englanders, and he has a way to relate to every single one. He himself is sort of a quirky character, so it all fits together swimmingly.

To keep things relaxed and calm, he has a sign up in his waiting area about ending your cell call, "so you can relax and enjoy your experience," and he plays soft music of varying genres, and even my crazies are learning to keep it fairly peaceful (sometimes) when they are along for the ride. The office is in an old house, so everything is in pretty close quarters. While the treatment and waiting areas are partitioned, you can hear pretty much everything unless you go into one of the private rooms. At my appointment earlier this week, I overheard him teasing the lady next to me, calling her a "dainty lotus blossom," to which I raised my head and replied that I was TOTALLY going to tell my family that's what I am. A dainty lotus blossom. To which we all laughed because, well, it's pretty clear that neither she nor I is the dainty lotus blossom type.

With several of us lying on the treatment tables as Dr Chiro went around making his assessments and adjustments as needed. Deep breathing, lighthearted banter, thoughts of wellness, and overall relaxation were the mood of the morning...until the next client walked in the door. This lady had a presence about her. Heck, this lady WAS a presence. Her voice had an old-school throaty sound and was not shouty, exactly, but definitely a few notches above "soothing." She proceeded begin a cell phone call with "I hung up on you, so I'm calling you back." You could feel everyone hearing her conversation. The mood went to somewhat non-relaxed, and Dr Chiro grinned and softly uttered "Oh, God," as if she were his crazy loud aunt or something.  Those of us in the immediate vicinity chuckled softly in return.

Here's where it got clever, though. Her conversation continued, "I just arrived at my appointment, so we can talk until my turn, and then I'll call you back when I'm done."

Well, Dr. Chiro dropped my chakras immediately and peeked his head into the waiting room: "Come on back, Ms. So-and-So," and ushered her to a private room, complimenting her sweater as she (loudly) ended the call. He got her situated and resumed his rounds.

When he got back to my chakras I smiled and said, "You're a smart man," and he smiled back and said,  "Thank you, that's the nicest thing anyone's said to me all day. See you next week," and sent me on my way.

It just goes to show that a little kindness does everyone good, and maybe chiropractic care is just as much about the caring, as the chiropractic. Maybe. Regardless, I hope when I'm older and crazier, I get loving eye-rolls and muffled chuckles at my antics, as opposed to, say, horrified gasps or blank stares. On the other hand, if I'm spending every spare moment talking on the phone, you'll know something has gone drastically wrong and maybe I need a little talking-to after all.

Just make sure you compliment my sweater...

Feb 21, 2016

On Foreign Objects...

Full of triumphant sass and squirms

My third kid is my "nosy" one.

I'm not talking about butting into people's business (although she does that too). What I mean by "nosy" is that Tiny E's nose is the subject of her attention much more so than the boys' noses were for them. She's a little fixated on keeping her nose cleared out, and all the toddler-type actions that go along with that (Building Immunities! is my battle cry).

Such things gross out the Cat Daddy to no end, but I'm fairly nonplussed; mostly because I too was a nosy little kid, and it worked itself out.** To my knowledge I didn't horrify anyone with public nose habits after the age of 4 or so, so I'm pretty confident that she will also develop in an age appropriate way and for heaven's sake stop eating her boogers.

So while it was a first for us, I wasn't terribly shocked at today's events. I did think it was a little...different...that she asked me to help her get a "crystal" out of her nose. But given the time of year I figured hey, those boogers get dried up in there, and perhaps one was being a little stubborn. She suggested I use tweezers, which again I thought was a little...different...but also very logical. I was also very excited to use the tweezers. I affirmed my commitment to be very careful sticking pointy tweezers in her nose, and took a look.

Of course, upon further examination, I realized that by "crystal" she meant "bead she had stuck up there," and after a couple of tweezer attempts and few questions all became clear, including the fact that tweezers weren't going to cut it on this one. 

I sighed deeply, knowing that this would likely mean a visit to Urgent Care, but since she was breathing fine and in no pain I figured I would check the Internet for any magical tips to try first. I didn't find much, other than "Try tweezers" and a tip called the "Mother's Kiss," which it turns out is an actual technique that people try and succeed at.

In true euphemistic fashion, the Mother's Kiss is on the order of the Kiss of Life in that it involves the mouth but no actual kissing. It's simple, really--the parent blocks the clear nostril and then gives a quick breath into the kid's mouth, sending the air up thru the nose and, ideally, dislodging the foreign object.

I understood the mechanism of it, and I'm used to doing odd and/or gross things in the course of any particular parenting day, so it really didn't bother me. My biggest concern was that this particular bead was the kind with a hole in it, so I wondered if the air would go straight through the hole instead of forcing the bead out.

But still. After some encouragement from this post, I reasoned that it was worth a try. At worst it would be unsuccessful and we'd have to go to Urgent Care anyway, and I'd be thought a weirdo by my family for trying awkward things. Which of course they already think, so there was truly, truly nothing to lose.

So I sat Tiny E on the counter and explained I was going to pinch the clear side of her nose and blow into her mouth. After a few giggles and some fine-tuning and snot-wiping, I gave a quick puff (sort of CPR-style) and...POP! Out flew the bead on the first try. We talked about not sticking stuff up her nose, washed off the bead and discussed its future, and came to a non-agreement which is moot anyway because the bead has now been lost and forgotten somewhere in the recesses of my quirky old house. She agreed not to put anything up her nose (at daycare) anymore, but I only give her about a 55% shot on sticking to that one. She's my nosy one, after all.

When we played Two Lies and a Truth at dinner that night, I got to say I made a bead shoot out of Tiny E's nose by puffing air into her mouth, and my entire family was equal parts amused, impressed, and grossed out. I assume that the Cat Daddy was entirely thankful I saved us a doctor trip, and that it was my privilege and not his.

In conclusion, the human body is an amazing thing, and if you are curious about something, sticking it in your nose is certainly one way to see what happens next. Just make sure you have someone on hand who is willing to, um, blow it out if needed...







**Little known fact: if you stick crayon pieces up your nose--and if they don't stay stuck--they will eventually come out in the form of crumbly snot. It's a non-threatening and effective deterrent to sticking-things-up-one's-nose.





Jan 30, 2016

Awesome Awkward Angsty Angst...

I've heard it said that blogs are kind of dead if you want to make a living from them (Whew! Pressure is off for meeeeeee!), but that Podcasts are moving or have moved into the blog slot.  And I've already mentioned my growing affinity for podcasts. I love them so.

There is one I found recently, called the Mortified Podcast. There is a whole Mortified 'thing,' where people go to stage venues stand up in front of a microphone and read their journals, diaries, or other writings from childhood or adolescence. Deliberately and on purpose. They have stage shows in lots of cities, and over the years they've compiled the audio from some of them, and sometimes added follow-up interviews, into a podcast. These are people from all walks of life, so it's a bit of a mixed bag which episodes you might find the most interesting, but it seems to me that there must be something for most everyone.

I'm trying to decide how much of an introduction to give before sharing this episode with you. I mean, I want as much as possible for you to understand how I ended up in the parking lot at work, having to stop the episode early and pull myself together from a serious ugly laugh-cry before I went inside, and needing to stifle a few escaping giggles for the next half hour or so. Then again if I explain too much...well, I don't want to ruin it, is what I'm saying.

 These are the things you should know going into things:

--You'll need about 20 minutes, and it's not for little ears (unless your kids are sailors like some of mine. AHEM).

--The first half was fun and sweet in a sassy way, but it was the second half that sent me into hysterics.

--There are F-bombs. I really don't like the F-word, but in this context it is kind of hilarious. I think you'll see why, even if you wince a little bit like I did.

--I was born and raised in Phoenix, but two big parts of my heritage are solid Midwestern values and nerdiness. Nerdery. Nerd-dom.

--This podcast perfectly exemplifies the struggles of adolescence that transcend all. In other words, farm kids can have attitudes too.

So listen. Enjoy. Have some earmuffs on hand for the F-bombs. Maybe cotton ones...

 

Jan 1, 2016

Merry New Year--2016

Dear Friends,

I would like to say nice and inspiring things about the new year, but instead I'm going to talk about Dr Who, because right now I'm a little bit wrecked over it.

I've watched Dr Who from afar for a couple years now, if by "watched" you mean "caught a few random episodes, thought 'I would really like this show,' but also thought 'I'm not sure I want to get into it, because I'll never get out again.'" My first episode was the one where he meets Amy Pond, so I suppose that would make the Eleventh my first Doctor, or "my" Doctor, as some are prone to say.

This summer/fall though, our friends the Pastors T (and family) came to visit over a few weekends. The Pastors T (and Family) are hardcore, die-hard Doctor fans, and the ninth season happened over several of their visits, so we all ended up watching on the couch together more than once. And, as expected, after an episode or two I told the Cat Daddy to go ahead and leave the series recording on the DVR for me. 

The biggest problem is that Dr Who is wonderfully silly and irreverent a lot of the time, but then they go and put in moments of great poignance and beauty, and then I start crying, and maybe spend a week or two grieving when a key character dies, and/or there is some sort of big goodbye to be made (or maybe all of the above within a 3 episode span). It's terrible and beautiful, and I kind of hate it. Sort of exactly like the tail end of the Christmas special, when the Doctor makes River practically burst with love and feelings, and she's crying all over the place and tells him "I hate you." So I guess in that way I'm kind of like River Song, and I could do worse than being similar to River Song. Dr Who gets me, and it's the WORST.

I haven't decided yet if it is good or bad for me to get into a show that brings out ALL the feelings. My feelings get kind of big for their britches sometimes, and I've historically done well to stick to mostly lighter fare. On the other hand, I have friends who say when they're feeling emotionally, um, stuck, watching a good feelings show and crying it out does them good. So there's always that angle.

In the meantime, my current project is going back and starting with the ninth Doctor in order to catch up on some of the back story. Because it is all connected. And by "some" of the back story, I mean "10 of the 50 or so years Dr Who has been in existence, and not including the books, spinoff shows, and audio stuff that has all contributed to the Dr Who universe." I'm hoping that getting a broader perspective will ease some of the heaviness and depth of this past season. For now it helps that the earlier episodes were not the extensive production quality they have now, and it feels a little easier to stay emotionally detached. For now. 

In conclusion, stupid Peter Capaldi and his stupid good acting are the worst, and the show also makes occasional references to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which I also happen to really like, and so I think I might be done-for.  

Happy New Year...






Oct 23, 2015

What I'm Into: Podcast Edition...

While I have some chores and things to attend to, today I'd like to talk instead about what feels to me like a newfangled technology, but as with most of my trend and fad discoveries, it has been around at least a little while. Much like motion-sensing lights in bathrooms. I walked into the bathroom of a very modest church a while back, looking for the light switch, and the lights flicked on automatically. ZING! I thought, "Wow, what a fancy touch for this mid-80's linoleum and country blue and peach floral vibe." Except then I realized that I find motion-sensing lights pretty much everywhere, and have even lived in houses that had them in certain places, so they're probably not all that fancy and new anymore. And I concluded that I'm, um, aging gracefully. I digress...

Anyway. Apparently everyone knows about motion sensing lights in bathrooms, so instead I'm going to talk about podcasts. Which, again, I'm pretty sure everyone knows about, but I'm new to this gig so you get to hear about my finds.

It started a year(s?) ago when the Cat Daddy started listening to musical podcasts from his favorite groups, and I was all "yeah, that's pretty cool," but didn't do much about it. He tried to tell me how to do it and I was all "So, it's an app?" and he was all "the app is where you find them," but I was only half listening so there you have it (apologies to the Cat Daddy).

Fast forward to this spring, when I was thinking forward to wintertime running in New England, and remembering that it may well involve dread-mill time, and sort of grumbling about that. Then I got to talking with some running acquaintances in AL and they mentioned which podcasts they were into, and how they really passed the time, and even gave me some suggestions, and it got me to thinking "Hey, this might be a good idea."

I'd heard murmurs about Serial, but it sounded a little intense for me. Kind of like HBO shows. Eventually though, I'd watched enough TED talks and Facebook snippets that I finally started looking up the sources of my favorite things, and bam--podcasts. You know what made the long driving days (almost) fun on our move? Plugging my phone into my car's auxiliary jack and listening to podcasts. You know what makes me (almost) look forward to dishes and laundry and lamesauce chores? Podcasts. I'm serious; if you are not into them already, you need to take a look and see what you can find. There is something for EVERYONE out there.

And so, without further adieu, I present to you some of the podcasts I'm into* **...

Another Mother Runner--This is run by Sarah and Dimity who are, among other things, mothers and runners. They talk mostly about running-related things. Obvs.

TrueFaced--If you are into Jesus, and Grace, and stuff like that, this is a great little weekly snippet. They are my people.

Open Door Fellowship Church--This is my home church. Always will be. Bill from TrueFaced started it with a bunch of hippies over 40 years ago, and it's one of the few places I've seen God's grace lived out in all its messy, trusting, brutiful glory. There are others, but not many. I don't listen every week, but I like to keep tabs and check in from time to time. They are my people.

Newsworthy With Norsworthy--More Jesus stuff. Luke is a pastor who is really good at asking questions and exploring ideas with people from all corners of Christianity. My favorite guests of his so far have been Nadia Bolz-Weber and Richard Rohr, but that's like saying my favorite parts of Disneyland are Space Mountain and the Blue Bayou. There's a whole lot more in between and around the two to love.

Invisibilia--This one is amazeballs. Alix and Lulu explore aspects about us that are invisible, but have a huge influence on our lives. It's science-y, and story-ish, and really hard to describe. They did an initial run of 6 or so episodes and are (I hope) in the process of making more.

Hidden Brain--This one is sort of in the same vein as Invisibilia, but focused more exclusively on social science.

How To Do Everything--This is a brief and fun look at most anything you can imagine. Mike & Ian answer listener questions on how to do...everything. It's a little tongue-in-cheek, a little sassy, and somehow still incredibly informative.

TED Radio Hour--So about half my podcasts are NPR-related. I think the Cat Daddy may be a little concerned that I'll turn into a crazy liberal, because apparently that's what happens when you listen to NPR (I've heard). But I could not resist an NPR show based entirely on TED talks. Plus, I might have the teensiest crush on Guy Raz.

The Simple Show--I took a winding path to get to this one. It started over on The Art of Simple. I've been loosely following Tsh and her family for a little while now, particularly their recent (almost)year abroad with their three kiddos. I pretty much completely ignored her podcast for a while, but then she re-vamped the whole thing and did a post on why I should go give it a try, so I did. Tsh's deal is living simply; that is, living holistically within your life's purpose. Which can mean something different for everyone, which is why it's a great listen. I think her biggest strength, though, is bringing in other people. (Nearly?) Every show is an interview where she talks with someone else about their own "simple," and many/most of them have their own websites and/or podcasts. So if you are kind of bookish and want to find people to follow, this is a good place to look.

PopCast--If you will look back over this list you will see Jesus stuff and science-y, thinking stuff, and a bit about living simply. And you might think, "Wow, Skerrib, you are cultured and deep," right? That's what I thought too, as I congratulated myself for jettisoning almost all the pop culture in my life. But then on a Simple Show interview, Megan Tietz dropped that she had also been interviewed for the Popcast, so I meandered over there to give it a cursory listen. I'm only about 5 episodes in, but I'm already certain I want to be besties and/or a professional third wheel to Knox & Jamie. Clearly, I've kept the lighter-duty parts of my brain too. You're welcome.

With winter coming, that dread-mill will be looming, so please feel free to leave me some of your favorite podcast suggestions. Ideally I have a smile on my face as the ending bumper music is playing, so no scary things or Lifetime specials, please...





*This list is ever-changing. There have been a couple I've tried and dropped for various reasons. There was one I really, really wanted to like because it involved interviewing all sorts of famous personalities on a more behind-the-scenes level, but it had too many f-bombs for my tender ears. I think it was actually called the WTF Podcast though, so I had fair warning there.

**I'm also into several non-podcast things--somehow I've completely missed telling you about my Apple TV and YouTube discoveries--but those will have to wait for another day. And we have also been in a timeframe where the Littler One wants to record and post his own Minecraft videos on YouTube, which I'm all for, except I'm stuck on the part about how to go about recording a Minecraft video. So there's that. Aging Gracefully.

Oct 9, 2015

Patchy Patchy...


When the Cat Daddy went into the Air Force, he went through Officer Training School. A substantial part of the first two weeks of OTS was learning how to keep their uniforms in good order. They trimmed loose threads. They learned how to tuck or blouse their pant legs just right in/over their boots. And they ironed. They ironed and ironed and ironed.

When the Cat Daddy returned from OTS, I told him that I would be letting him maintain his own uniforms. There were several reasons behind this, but my favorite was that the US government had invested so much time and training into his uniform techniques that I didn't want that training to go to waste. He replied that was fine with him, and that it was probably better than trying to train me up to the same standard anyway (he knows I'm a lazy ironer). So now when we have to buy an iron, he's the one who picks it out because he irons way more often than I do & knows which features are the important ones. And when he needs something sewn on he takes his uniforms to the base alterations place, which for a reasonable price does a great job in probably 1/3 of the time it would take me. And if it comes out wrong (which I don't think it ever has) he has them do it again, and I'm very happily out of the loop.

Well, this year the boys joined Cub Scouts. I've quick-stitched patches and such in the past, but something about Cub Scouts seemed more official to me. We bought the Badge Magic (stuff to stick the patches on instead of sewing them), but then it turned out that their pants needed hemming as well. And in the past I've sort of hack-hemmed my own pants, but again something about doing them for someone else made me want to take it up a notch.

Well long story short, one of my running friends is a seamstress and does hemming and patch-sewing for people in the neighborhood as a way of funding her hardcore running habit.

So guess what I did? I could have hired her to hem the pants and sew on the patches, but instead I took a sewing lesson from her. I had the machine and the gist of the process, and she had the experience and the techniques to actually make things look good. So we spent a lovely couple of hours wrestling with fabric, and she graciously and patiently looked on as I learned how to do the things, and she made some dollars along the way. It was a win-win-win as far as we were concerned.

(Another thing I love about my late 30's is that I'm learning what things in life I care to take on myself and what things I can afford to hire out to people who know better than I. I'm getting pretty good at asking for help when I need it, and I'm finding people are generally glad to share their talents with me.)

That was a couple weeks ago. Since then we acquired new Den patches (above), and the boys earned their Bobcat badges, so it was time to test out my new skills. It took me a couple tries but in the end I was very pleased with the results, and have declared myself a serious, patch-sewing Scout Mom.

The Cat Daddy looked at my work and said he still wasn't sure he'd trust me with his uniforms, and I said that's fine. I'm not sure I'm up for that level of pressure and besides, I have a friend who would be happy to to take the job...