As A Writer: Goodbye, Bruce Lee.

Goodbye, Bruce Lee.

Yesterday was the last day of Martial Arts for the kids.

The kids have been going to Martial Arts class two times a week for two years, which means I have been going to Martial Arts class two times a week for two years.

I have loved it in ways I didn’t know I could love a sport.

My lineage isn’t entirely athletic, even though my dad was on a softball team for a million years, and I technically did play on a softball team called the Sprouts, which was officially the worst softball team in the league.  Although, I don’t know if throwing a 4th grader into left field for 2 years really counts as “playing on a softball team”  but I was there, and I have the picture to prove it.

IMG_1617I look exactly the same.  Maybe a little bigger now.  But that’s debatable.

The origins of our Martial Arts experience began after we were done with one season of a homeschooling group.

If you think I am cut out for a group of (very nice) suburban homeschooling moms, you are sorely mistaken.  They are all very nice.  Lovely kids. Very boring. Not my type.

I remember the last day of that homeschool group.  It was supposed to be a half day of presentations from all the age groups, and some awards…and it just never ended.  We got there at 9am, and around 1pm I had had quite enough of the self-congratulatory celebration; So we took off halfway through the final day of their never-ending deal and went home, never to return.

After that I wanted to find something that would train the kids with more than self-contratulatory nonsense, and something a little  more worthwhile.  Something that encouraged self-responsibility, self-motivation, honoring and respecting your team and enforced memorization.

Martial Arts was  perfect.

For the past 2 years, it was perfect.  It was everything I didn’t know it could be.  It was fantastic for the kids, and it was 2 hours of a break for me.

But those days are over.  Goodbye, Bruce Lee.

So, thanks to life and moving and planning and laundry and homeschool and breathing and blinking…I’m just worn out right now.  At least today I am.  Yesterday I was kind of okay, but the day before (whatever day that was) I was on top of the world.  Everything was great, and I could accomplish anything I set my mind to!

Go me!

Lately I have my ups and downs in wild swings, which I usually don’t fall prey to.  In general, I am a confident, modern, even-tempered American woman.   Nothing sways me but moving trains, and even then they stop for me.  I am in control of my destiny!  Carpe Diem!  Pax Tamarahicana!

Somehow, the impending “moving our family out of state within the next few weeks” can creep up on you and smother your Pax Tamarahicana like a soaked down comforter.

 

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and when I am up and things are totally good!  I get a lot of writing finished, I am optimistic about the future, and overall things go well.  I laugh easily, I make interesting dinners and I am great at conversation at night.

 

That is generally what happens when things are up.

 

When things are down, I can’t even figure out how to put on my shoes without breaking down.

*sob* “Maybe I need slip on shoes that are easier to put on.” *sob* “I can’t handle these laces, because I just know they are going to come undone at some point, and it is so hard to bend over and tie them.” *sob* “Maybe I need boots….EXCEPT I HAD BOOTS AND THEY WERE LEFT OUTSIDE DURING THE ENTIRE WINTER BEHIND A BOX, AND NOW THE SOLES PEELED OFF.  I CAN’T EVEN HAVE BOOTS.”

Last night Ben saved me and brought home KFC.  It was the greasiest, most bland potatoey meal with 110% awesome coleslaw (no gravy for the Celiac 😦  )…that filled my soul with rest.  I didn’t have to clean up after dinner and I didn’t have to worry about anything except degreasing fingers before people left the kitchen.  That KFC dinner was the best part of my day.  It was rest, and I needed that.

Listen.  Most of the time it is the little things that break you.  The big things you can work with, find solutions, feel like you accomplished something when you recover.  But the little things add up like little, suffocating, poisonous molehills that you can’t sweep away entirely.  There is always some little granules of sand that linger and keep wearing you down.

It is generally the little things that get’cha in the end.

 

My advice for blogging has always been: if you can’t write, edit.

I think that is awesome advice.  I wish I could pitch this advice, it is so good.

In my Post section, I currently have 64 Drafts sitting there.  64 Drafts.  Just waiting to be edited and published.

This is what happens when I look at any of my Drafts:

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Somehow, I am sure it was a good idea at some point, otherwise I wouldn’t have written it down.  Maybe I am just being overly critical, and I should give this idea another chance?  Listen, write it out.  Get some ideas on the page.  Make an outline with supporting bits and create something.  You’re a writer!  You can do this!

Yet, the more you write, the more disgusted you are with your ideas.

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This is junk.  This is horrible.  You need to stop writing and move on, my friend.

Most of the time, this is what I have to force myself to do.  Let go of crazy ideas and let them wither and die and never write about them.  For the greater good.

It is better to have quality writing than tripe.  Says the woman who still hasn’t published a novel (it’s almost done!!).

 

So, it is Friday night.

I am worn out.  February looms over me like an albatross.  As a writer, on a Friday night, the weekend of the Superbowl, I am obligated to make a wise decision that will save the integrity of my writing.

 

 

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(link credit)

 

/Goodbye, Bruce Lee.

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Correspondence With Costa Rica: Letters From Anna – Crocodiles??….!!

Hey Folks!

We have a letter from Anna reminding us of how warm and magical Costa Rica is in the winter!

Thanks Anna.

Honestly, it does look like a magical place with magical people living on magical beaches.  Birds, tropical flowers, howler monkeys, amazing spearfishing adventures, beautiful sunsets and crocodiles!!  I completely love hearing from Anna and all the adventures she finds  🙂

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December January Blog Post:

Time has gone by so fast! December was full of travels and celebrations. I stayed with my parents in the US for a week while Dreutch drove up to Modesto to work. My time home was full of coffee dates, fun Christmas activities, paddleboarding, gingerbread houses and yoga in the park.

When we returned, we experienced our first Costa Rican bull riding festival, had Christmas Eve finger foods, fondue night watching Christmas movies, watched the Nutcracker in downtown San Jose, made traditional Costa Rican tamales, enjoyed caroling and a Christmas tree lighting at the church and watched New Years Eve fireworks! I must say the most exciting event was definitely the festival.

Anna’s video is absolutely nuts…they are just *walking around* with the bull!!

Villarreal, our neighboring town, held their festival in the main square in town, there were kids carnival rids, delicious unhealthy foods and a great bull riding spectacle. It is essentially a cross between between a carnival and a rodeo with one glaring difference. During the bullriding, men and boys from the community run with the bulls after the rider gets bucked off and until the sabaneros (cowboys) rope the bull to let him back into the pen. This creates electric situations where the bull will miss a runner by mere inches as he slides under the fence into the crowd. We took a video the first night and the bull came right at us!

We have done a bit more exploring of Costa Rica over the past few months. On my birthday we went on a tour of the estuary. I saw my first wild crocodiles and spotted some monkeys. This weekend we took a day trip to Rincon de la Vieja (volcano and park) to visit a waterfall and visit the hot springs. We saw a Tucan off in the tree by the road.

A few things that are different here than in the US. To keep the dust down, they cover the dirt roads with sickeningly sweet smelling, sticky, gooey molasses. I will never be able to smell molasses and think fondly of Christmas cookies alone again. Recently the water, the power or the internet will be turned off for a few hours at a time. I cross my fingers that the meat in the freezer doesn’t go bad and the bleach in my load of laundry doesn’t change the color of all my clothes when the power and water go out. Thus far, no problems! On the positive side, it does mean we usually head to the beach, or out to get tacos for lunch when that happens.

All in all, we like our little global village. We have been passing the time after the holidays enjoying being back in the swing of normal life. This mostly consists of work, working out, bike rides, Kids Club, beach volleyball and spending time with friends. Pura Vida!

Photos:

1. Birthday estuary tour beach_html_43bc5fba
2. My first wild crocodile sighting!
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3. Dreutch’s catch from spearfishing!
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4. Dreutch holding a random beach visitor’s pet snake.

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5. Beach volleyball
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6. Making Tamales for Christmas
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7. Christmas dinner celebration
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8. Learning how to use Mom’s paddleboard
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9. Our beautiful sunset beach
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Leaving California. I am leaving. California.

Ben just gave me a call, and he’s talking with our finance people to move stuff…he was just calling me to catch me up with what is going on with buying the house, which is great.  Everything is going fine.

He was talking about timelines, and we thought we would have to drive up to Seattle at least once in February to sign papers, but apparently they can FedEx them to us, which is great, because otherwise we’d be driving back and forth between the states way too much, and I was kind of stressing about how we were going to make that happen.  But then Ben was saying that we do have to do a walk-through 3 days before they close and we get the keys, just to make sure everything is the way it should be and the seller didn’t trash the house or anything.  So he is planning on renting the condo for a week to work in the office, and we’d do the walk through, and then 3 days later we get they keys to the house.

And all of a sudden I thought: when I have the keys to my house, I have no reason to go back to California.

OMG.

I started sweating just thinking about this.

Things just got very real.

(I need to start packing).

I have no reason to go back to California.  I have no reason to go back to California.  I have no reason to go back to California.

I just can’t believe this.

I am leaving California.  I need to take a shower.  I’m sweating.

Teaching Holocaust Memorial Day

#HolocaustMemorialDay

 

No doubt, it is critical to teach our children about history; but it is so hard to teach them about the realities of history.  As a teacher, it is difficult to find the lessons that will build the stories and voices who have been silenced; as a mother, it is difficult to teach the lessons without holding my children with my arms, close to me as I read the words.

 

WWII happened such a long time ago, its atrocities can blend in with sinister tales of werewolves and dark forests that seem fuzzy on details, and are unfathomable to believe.  But the sinister tales were more real than the Black Forest of Germany, and the villains had names engraved on their office doors.

It is difficult for kids, let alone ourselves, to understand the depth of horror the world was in during that time, from the Depression in America, to the ghettos of Europe, to the Concentration Camps to the Atomic Bomb…

how could any of these things seem real, when we are sitting in our living room today?  Safely reading about the holocaust without worrying about being captured, let alone killed.  Lunch is at noon, and we are having leftover spaghetti.  My daughter asked for a glass of milk in the middle of the lesson, and I was able to give it to her.  The conversations over lunch were regarding how to defeat Sandman in the Lego video game.

 

For parents, it is difficult to find the balance of how much to teach different ages of children.  It certainly took me a while to sort through so much invaluable material available.

Here are some of what we have used today.

1. The Importance of Knowledge, And Why We Learn

  • Nazi Party

http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/nazi-party

  • Book Burnings

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-two/11368740/Holocaust-Memorial-Day-remembering-horror-of-Auschwitz-70-years-on.html

 

2. Holocaust Memorials Around The World


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Holocaust Memorials Around the World

 

 

3. The Holocaust From 5th Grade Perspective

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From a 5th Grade Perspective

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4. Lesson Plans for Poetry

First They Came For The Jews / Martin Niemöller

First They Came For The Jews / Martin Niemöller. Artwork: Liz Elsby

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Martin Niemöller: Niemöller was a German pastor and theologian, born in Germany in 1892. Originally a supporter of Hitler’s policies, he eventually opposed them. He was arrested and eventually confined in the concentration Sachsenhausen and Dachau camps. He was liberated by the allies in 1945 and continued his career in Germany as a clergyman and as a noted pacifist.”

5. “Night Will Fall” Tonight at 10:30 on HBO

“The HBO documentary “Night Will Fall” is a movie about the Holocaust, a movie about remembering the Holocaust and primarily, at least in formal terms, a movie about a movie. It may not do full justice to all these subjects in its tight 78 minutes, but it’s not a film you’re likely to forget…

““Night Will Fall,” directed by André Singer (and making its television premiere on HBO on Monday), tells the story of “Factual Survey,” incorporating archival and current interviews with people involved in its making. It also fills out the story of how the British, American and Soviet cameramen documented the unbelievable scenes that the liberating troops found, and includes touching sequences in which soldiers and camp inmates who appear in the old footage describe their horrific experiences seven decades ago.”

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Preparing For The Blizzard. In California.

The Snopocalypse is upon our nation.

 

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Everyone is being warned to stay inside, do not leave your home, do not drive, bicycles have been outlawed and only outlaws will have bicycles.  Make sure you have food and water (and beer) stocked for a few days.  Dogs and cats living together…So many warnings…

Well, not on the West Coast, we aren’t.

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Just remember, West Coast folks: you may have the burning desire to rub it in how good we have it over here, with our Fashionably Ripped Denim in December, our Jaunty Jackets in January,  Flip Flops in February.  Who cares??  We’re West Coast, baby.

…but this blizzard isn’t going to last forever, my friends, and soon their airports will be functioning again.  They will fly en masse to find us and beat the sunshine out of our smug, organic grins.  And they will steal our flip flops in spite.

 

So, do our East Coast bretheren a favor: be prepared for their utter, soul-crushing boredom while they wait the blizzard out in their barricaded homes.

These aren’t snowmen.  These are just the East Coast folks who tried to get their mail in the morning after the blizzard.

 

1. Your Friends On The East Coast Are Stuck Inside For A Week.  They Are Bored.  Be Prepared.

These guys have nothing better to do than watch the snow fall, and the wind blow the trees onto their power lines and kill their main source for entertainment.

Do them a favor and have some stuff to talk about while they are sitting in the dark, wondering why they haven’t moved to the West Coast.

Get their minds moving:

  • Send them Facebook quizzes hourly.
          –Brainfall
          –BuzzFeed
          –Zimbio
  •  Cheer them up with funky YouTube videos.  

2. Netflix Marathon Ideas

Start with:

  • StarTrek TOS
  • StarTrek TNG
  • DeepSpace 9
  • followed by Voyager

Once you are done with these, go through:

  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
    Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
    Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
    Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
    Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
    Star Trek: Generations (1994)
    Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
    Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
    Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)

You should be through the blizzard by the time Benedict Cumberbatch takes over the starship.

I’m sure there are other ideas for Netflix marathons…but honestly, you can’t get better than starting with Kirk, a little Picard in the middle and ending with Benedict.

You just can’t.

 

3. Their Kids Are Going Bonkers.  Help A Parent Out.  Ideas For The Kids Who Are Stuck Inside Too.

 

  • Arts and crafts. Now, before you freak out about the glitter, glue, scissors and paper cuttings that are going to destroy your kitchen…make it easy on yourself.  Make your own Play-Dough or finally make the melted crayon art thing.
  • Bake or cook.  Let Alton Brown lead the way.
  • Build a fort. You know how to do this.  Either use couch cushions, or put a blanket over the kitchen table.
  • Computer games. Breaking Orbits (mine) has a great video page for kids to play around. PBS Kids lets younger ones play with Curious George and Daniel Tiger, and Nick Games has the Power Rangers to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Disney Jr. has Sophia the First, Doc McStuffins, etc.
  • Video games. Play with them…no bogarting the controller!

 

4. Karaoke…For You And The Kids

The last one is just evil.

 

5. And Finally…Help The Baby Boom That’s Coming In 9 Months

 

Listen.

I know what happens when the power goes out.

 

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Brought to you by Oxford Dictionary Baby Name Generator 

What I Daydream About In My 30s: Why I Am Qualified To Be Mayor

There are qualities we look for in leaders that stand out above all the media, all the confetti and all the roadside banners.

Qualities that represent honesty, integrity and character.

My fellow Americans, I offer you my services as Mayor.  Before I promise lower property taxes, better roads, more transparent infrastructure, or balanced budgets, I feel strongly in my qualifications to be Mayor through my history in public service:

 

1.  I Fully Support Local Firefighters!

Especially the little ones!

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2. America Has The 2nd Ammendment For A Reason. 

And it isn’t to let it go to waste.

 

 

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3. We Have History In Our Families, And In Our Nation.  

We should remember and honor both.

555415_10200342361343690_1703748295_nMy great-grandparents, whose great-grandparents emmigrated from Scotland.

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The home of John and Abigail Adams’, who helped build this nation and teach its children through a school they built on their land.

4. Encouraging Our Children To Learn in the Sciences, As Well As The Arts

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5. What We’re Here For:  God, Family, Country

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What I DayDream About In My 30s: So, You Want To Be The Mayor?

The other night I was watching the State of the Union address with Ben.

I was listening to how great things are going, and what amazing plans they have for the future, and how much better we are than Russia.  Making friends, as always.  Good stuff.

The best parts were the Rebublicans who didn’t move, and the President who threw snark at them like a pro. Politics, politics, politics.

And all I could think of the whole time was….

 

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I could do this.

Oh, I know. It’s a tough job.  It may take “people skillz” that I may, or may not, have.

But you know, I could do this.

I already have 2 people who have vowed to vote for me.  One friend said she would sample the wine on Airforce 1 to make sure it wasn’t poisoned for me; and that is loyalty you just can’t buy with campaign stickers.

 

Unfortunately, though, I can’t be President.

This is not because I cannot handle the job, or because I am only 36.  I cannot be President only because I have not held a public office yet.

Which means I need to be Mayor first.

 

RE_CITYHALL_DESK2Mayor Rockwood

So, I will need to start my campaign now.  Get a head start on things.

There shall herefor be more Parades to celebrate lower Property Taxes!  Huzzah!

Project: Mayor

Subject: Me

Votes Needed: Many, My Friend!

 

“There are well over 500,000 elected offices in the United States.  Add in all of the elected officials in all of the democracies in the world, and you’ve got millions and millions of elected offices worldwide.

The vast majority of these elected positions are for small, local offices.  While we all hear about the huge national candidates and elections, the vast majority of candidates duke it out on a far smaller stage, vying for seats on school boards, township commissions, county legislatures, and local planning commissions.

While most of the basic strategy of winning election contests applies to both large and small campaigns (things like getting press coverage, writing a fundraising plan, and developing a great political slogan are universal), there are many differences, and small campaigns need to adjust their tactics to make the biggest impact.  Without further ado, we present three important tips on how to win election contests in small districts:

1.  Focus on Relationships and Personal Contact

The more local your election contest is, the more personal contact voters anticipate from each candidate.  Not many people expect to receive phone calls or personal door-to-door visits from their senator or governor, but most voters want to have personal contact with their local city councilman or small town mayor.

If you want to know how to win election contests in small local districts, know that you’ve got to build relationships with the voters and meet them by going to door to door, attending small neighborhood events, and being present and involved in almost every activity in your district.

2.  Be Careful How You Spend Money

Many local candidates make the mistake of spending their campaign fundraising revenue foolishly… they hoard cash to buy one run of TV ads that no one will see, rather than sending out three flights of direct mail, or they pay Election Day workers without ever seeing if they can get enough free volunteers to fill all of the spots they need.

Don’t make mistakes like these – small campaigns operate on small budgets, so make every dollar count.  For every expenditure you make, think: will this get me closer to victory on Election Day?  If so, is there any wiser way to spend the money that will get us even closer?

3.  Target, Target, Target!

Just because you can go door-to-door to every house in the district, or can afford to send one mail piece to every registered voter in a small town, doesn’t mean it’s a wise investment.  Leaning how to win election campaigns of any size, large or small, means learning how to target your tactics.

Figure out which voters you really need to concentrate on: Who is likely to vote?  Who will almost assuredly vote for me?  Who will definitely vote for my opponent?  Who are the swing voters?  This is the heart of targeting.  Use this data to figure out where to spend your money…  for example, is it better to send one mailing to every registered voter or to send two mailings to every registered voter who has voted in two of the past four elections?   (To learn more about targeting, including an in-depth, step-by-step guide to performing targeting for your own campaign, check out Local Victory’s How to Win Any Election, which contains a huge section on targeting).”

What I DayDream About In My 30s: Did It Look Like Captain America Was Almost Worthy?

I daydream.

Often.

Probably too much, if this is a confessional.  If I had to choose between coffee and daydreams, and folding the laundry…well, my friends, my laundry is still sitting there.

Case in point: I have had this going through my head for a few weeks.

But look at the clip when Captain America tries.  The hammer moved!  You can see the look on Thor’s face change when he notices that…

At the end, “You’re all not worthy.”

BURN

 

Okay, back to laundry.

Jump Start Your Brain: Why We Write

Writing is definitely a form of escape for us who are writers. “So what about you, Modern Philosophers, Why do you write?” This is a good question, but it can only be answered with painful and bloody answers.

The Return of the Modern Philosopher

JumpstartHappy Saturday, Modern Philosophers!

Sorry for the late start with the Jump Start post, but we’re expecting a big snowstorm today (what’s new???), so I decided to jump start my day and run some errands before Snow Miser unleashed his wrath.

Now that I’m home at The House on the Hill, I can finally sit down and write.  Let’s get your brains humming on this gray, wintry Saturday.  I’ve got 1000 Volts of Deep Thoughts here that should do the trick.

I am, however, going to change it up this week.  Rather bombard your brain with dozens of questions, I’m going to pose one and then share my answer.

Hopefully, this will set off an exchange of Deep Thoughts that gets every brain purring.

My question is simple: Why do you write?

Writing has always been an escape for me.  The only thing that’s changes over the years, is that…

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