Friday, November 5, 2010

Working with a Stability Ball

I've had Women's Health Total Workout in Ten (led by Amy Dixon, one of my favorites) for some time now but I had never tried the stability ball workout because I didn't have a stability ball.  Well, a few weeks ago, I picked one up for $10 (I hope it lasts). I bought it primarily because it's required for the New Rules of Lifting for Women, a program I really want to start soon if I could just focus and read the book.  Anyway, I finally got around to doing the core section in Total Workout in Ten.  Just a few minutes ago.  While the kids are awake, no less.  (They are currently playing with the stability ball and having a blast.  Please, kids, don't pop my stability ball!)

The routine is a quick 10-15 minute deal.  It's over before you know it.  But my core is really lighted up right.  It was a lot of fun yet challenging!  I'm looking into purchasing some more DVDs that utilize stability balls.  I've been rocking with Ab Ripper X for some months now and I'm getting a little tired of it (not that it's not still kicking my behind).  It'll be cool to add something just as challenging but different  

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Trying to find some good

I really dread winter.  I mean, I almost shed a tear when I realized that this Sunday starts daylight savings time.  So last year, when it started getting cold, I tried to find one good thing about winter.  And I did.  This year, I really had to think long and hard.  So here's what I came up with:  there will be a bit more light during the early mornings.  These past few weeks, it's pretty much been pitch black until 7 AM.  

I've really been thinking about safety while running and considering getting some more reflective gear.  But it should be lighter outside between 6 and 7 AM, the times when I am running so I might not need it.  Hopefully.  

That's all I could come up with.  What about you?  Or do you love winter? 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Update on my gluten testing

I just came back from the gastroenterologist and like I suspected, the tests showed nothing (except that my hematocrit is 11.8 which is ever so slightly anemic but I was menstruating when I took the test so I'm not that worried).  So the doctor wants to put me on antacids.  I am not really getting the connection but he claims that with IBS (which is what he thinks I have), sometimes too much acid in the stomach is what it is.  But I'm almost totally sure this has nothing to do with my stomach and much more to do with my intestines and I'm not trying to trade in one problem for the other nor am I willing to be on antacids indefinitely.  He could go in and do a biopsy but it's kind of involved so he doesn't want to go that route just yet.  He also said it could just be that the nerves along my digestive tract are just overly sensitive so that I perceive what's going on in there more intensely.  My bloated belly tells me, though, that this is not the case.  He also wants to send me for more blood testing (to check on what's causing the anemia). 

I don't know.  I find it hard to have confidence in doctors.  They seem to know about as much as I do about what's going on with me. 

So I don't think I'm going on the antacids or going back to the doctor.  I'm putting myself on a gluten-reduced diet (I figure if it didn't show up that I'm not allergic but sensitive). We'll see.  For the few weeks that I did eat gluten-free, I did not feel better.  Some sources say it may actually take up to a year to feel better so . . .

The next time I go grocery shopping, I'm going to buy the ingredients to make this gluten-free flour mixture.  One mom from a playgroup I recently joined shared it with me and while she's new to gluten-free living, she says she's been able to use this flour in place of unbleached white flour in all of the recipes she has tried so far.

Recipe for 12 cups of flour

5 c brown rice flour
3 c sorghum flour
2 2/3 c cornstarch (but i use arrowroot)
1 c potato starch (but i use tapioca starch/flour)
1/4 c + 4 t potato flour
1 T + 1 t xanthum gum

I think this recipe come from Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking.  She also recommended Bake Deliciously as another great cookbook that teaches about substitutions and variations.


Yesterday was election day.  

I feel like I should be ashamed to say that I didn't go out to vote.  But I'm not.  

Every time a person (a Black person especially) says that they didn't vote, there's always these judgmental looks that follow.  Like, "Do you know what your ancestors went through to get the right to vote?" of "Do you know that in some places people are still losing their lives to vote?"  These questions give me pause until I realize that if I didn't have the right to vote, I'd be fighting for it too.  

But not because I think voting is so vastly important in terms of who will be in office.  Rather, I think, the right to vote symbolizes that an individual is a full-fledged citizen, equal to all other citizens.  Not a visitor.  Not an outsider.  But a real part and parcel piece of the puzzle that makes up the nation.  That's so incredibly important.  And so I would fight to protect voting rights because of what it symbolizes.  

Having the right doesn't mean that I need to be told how to use it, or if I should use it at all though.  I thought of the analogy of a wealthy heiress who has inherited 6 beautiful homes all around the world but hates to travel and loves the one home she lives in.  The houses belong to her.  It's her right to live in all of them, use some and not others, use them as hotels, sell them, or let them fall into utter neglect.  We all  have our opinions on what she should do but at the end of the day, the are rightfully hers and she's free to do whatever she wants with them.

I really resented having my mailbox filled to the brim over the last couple of days with pamphlets and fliers essentially advertising different candidates as if the election was some kind of blow-out sale.  I have never even heard of these people before now.  Those who were seeking re-election had never in their 4 year terms made an effort to reach out to me.  But now, they want my vote.  Of course.  Also, I religiously avoid watching or reading the news (my psyche really can't take it) and I really don't have many people in my life who talk about politics so I manage to really not get any information about candidates just in the course of my daily living.  But, had these candidates left reading material at the local library over the last few months, most likely I would have read something about them.  Even something as small as a bookmark because I'm good for swiping bookmarks.  

I'm just not all that interested.  I think sometimes that it's awful that I'm so apathetic to politics but honestly, the first election I could vote in was the botched one that put Bush in office.  That shook my belief in the system in a way that I've never recovered from.  In my town, I've also watched one mayor hand off to another mayor only for things to essentially stay the same although the new mayor's credo was to bring sweeping change and reform. 

It doesn't help that I view politics as a kind of game where voters are really just the spectators.  Sure, if spectators (voters) don't show up, the whole game suffers.  They are needed, no doubt because the pay the admission fees (taxes).  But who is really controlling the game?  Who really makes a difference in how the game is played?  What happens next?  It's the players (politicians), referees, coaches and owners.  To me, if you really want to make a difference, you have got to be one of those people or at least very close to one of those people.  

I read a story in Good Housekeeping magazine recently about the families of people who were killed on a short domestic flight.  Turns out that with these short domestic flights, there's a lot of dangerous things going on like unskilled and tired pilots and other shortcuts being taken to reduce cost.  These families went to bat to try to get some laws passed to fix things.  But they didn't vote about it.  They went to Washington.  They wrote letters to their representatives but I believe the reason they were able to get anything done really was because they got so actively involved.  Casting a vote would have, quite simply, not been enough.  You have got to get all up in the mix.  In a way that many of us do not have the time, energy, money or motivation to do.

Interestingly enough, I'm teaching Z1 about what it means to be a good citizen.  For a five year old, voting doesn't even factor into the equation.  Being a good citizen means things like: 
  • someone who cares about their community and world
  • someone who understands rules are created for the common good and doesn't break them (I add unless those rules are unjust)
  • someone who shows respect for the neighbors
Too many of us grow up and reduce our good citizenship to whether or not we voted in the last election.  Pat ourselves on the back for a job well done and keep on living in our insulated, solitary worlds caring not one whit about all the other hallmarks of good citizenship.

So maybe I should have gone out to vote yesterday but I'm not losing sleep about it.  Not even really all that interested in the results.  I kind of know that there is a system in place and that no one guy voted in is really going to rock the system too hard.  

There are some elections that I know I should pay more attention to (like senate and presidential elections--playoffs and superbowls).  But the others . . . I'm just not at all motivated.  But it doesn't mean I'm ungrateful for the sacrifices made so that it was my decision to make whether or not I'd go out and vote.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

When the other partner says no.

I was participating in a thread about wanting more children when your partner doesn't and what to do about it:  a) accept it  b) try to convince him/her or c) get pregnant accidentally on purpose.  I think I've mentioned before on this blog that I think the best way to go about it is to accept it.  You could go the convincing route but really, I would never want to bring a child into this world if I had to convince someone.  I want every child I bear to be completely wanted.  That doesn't mean you don't talk about it with your partner and try to sort out why he/she is anti-having more kids.  But at the end of the day, you have to realize his/her reasons for not wanting more are just as valid as yours are for wanting more.  

But some people on the thread said they'd really go the distance with trying to convince.  (And I get that feeling too except that my partner's reason for not wanting more children actually make perfect sense to me and I actually agree--but still want more.  Darn biology.  Go figure.)  Some folks just couldn't understand how one partner could be so bent on trying to convince the other partner to have another child and this was my response in way of explanation:
The way I describe it is in terms of running. I set out to do 5 miles. I get to 4 miles and I stop. Not because I want to. Not because I don't have it in me. But because the person I'm running with has had enough. It's great that I've done the 4 miles. Four miles is nothing to sneeze at. And I certainly don't want to force my running partner to keep going if he's completely exhausted or can't handle it for some other reason. But I would have felt, I don't know, complete if I could have finished the last mile. So it's about getting to a place where you are okay with not feeling complete. You can be very happy with what you have but not feel complete or rounded out.

At this point in the game, I feel like we've run our 4 miles.  I've taken off my running shoes.  Ready to get in the shower and move on with the rest of my day.   I've given away tons of baby stuff.  Weaned Z2.  Gotten him to sleep in his own bed (mainly).  We're moving out of this baby phase for sure.

I'm not mad at the hubby at all.  Just, it is what it is.  Cool beans.  And so, I'm slowly making the shift to really embracing our 4 person family.  And that is truly opening me up to enjoying and fully experiencing my current family instead of longing for something else.  In other words, I'm able to appreciate the four mile run for what it is and not the five mile run it could have been.  Huge difference.  And hopefully, in time, I'll come to view the 4-mile run as the perfect run for me--not an unfinished one.   

Monday, November 1, 2010

Movie Review: The Duchess

I've had it on my Netflix instant queue for a while now but I had been hesitant about watching it because I wasn't sure if I'd like a period movie.  I finally watched it yesterday and I have to say, I really enjoyed it.

The topic wasn't new:  young girl marries into wealth.  The marriage is loveless and the husband unfaithful (and straight up disrespectful).  Wife is dutiful but eventually decides to try to carve out some happiness of her own by having an affair of her own.  Husband won't stand for it and threatens her physically and emotionally.  Wife either gets back in line or risks losing it all.

I'm aware that there have been some cultures throughout history where women were just as valued and powerful as men but those cultures are in the minority.  Speaking strictly as a Westerner, it really made me appreciate how far we as women have come in terms of being able to feel fully human.  The fact that we control so much of our own destiny is amazing especially when you look at how much a woman's life was out of her control just a few centuries ago.   And even now, all this time later women are not completely empowered.  We are still struggling for equality and justice.  But a movie like The Duchess really does give some perspective.

I think Keira Knightly did a fantastic job playing Georgina.  We see a woman who knows and understands that she is not free but who is powerless to do anything about it.   Maybe this is the worst kind of suffering--when you don't know that things should be different, it doesn't hurt as much.  At one point, Georgina says that the only way women have to express themselves is through designing their dresses (which makes you wonder how terrible it was for poor women who probably didn't even have this outlet available to them).  We sympathize with her frustration and pain.  Knightly makes Georgina very real.  

And the costumes and set!  It was just very beautiful to watch.  I mean, really beautiful.  This was one of the best things about the movie. 

Oh, and it wasn't too long.  I can't take long movies.  It wasn't drawn out.  Dramatic without being overly so.  Just a good movie.  I recommend it. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Something as small as a mouse . . .

Can totally change your computer experience!  

The scroll ball on the Apple wired mouse that came with our computer hasn't worked properly in ages. Very cute mouse.  Very annoying problem. I had tried to correct it and searched online for what could be done.  Apparently, it was just dirt gunked up in the scroll ball.  You can't take the mouse apart or really get in around it to clean it.   So I followed a suggestion I found:  I'd use a cotton make-up removal pad lightly soaked with alcohol and roll it around on that to clean it.  It would be good for a day or two then it would go right back to being non-functional.  Eventually, I gave up on the scroll ball altogether.  Who has time or energy like that?   

I'd been holding out on getting a new mouse because, technically, that one worked.  I mean, it would scroll up (sometimes) and you could navigate around the computer.  But after a few years, I decided to get a new mouse with a scroll wheel that works!  I was really getting tired of clicking a page, taking my hand off the mouse and then using the arrows to  scroll so I could read something.  I'm downright ecstatic at having a scroll wheel again and I'm also thrilled that I can left click again (which I didn't even think I missed all that much until I could do it again).  There's only one button on the Apple mouse and if I wanted to left click something, I'd have to hold command and click.  Hooray for eliminated steps! 

If you are interested, I purchased the
Kensington K72213USA Mouse-in-a-Box Optical 2 USB Mouse (PC/Mac) for almost $13 on Amazon.  There were pricier mice but this one got pretty good ratings.  It works great right now--really smooth operation.   I just plugged it in via USB and it worked!  No software to install--plug and play. Let's hope it stands the test of time.  

So yes, it's good to make do with what you have especially if it works--even if it doesn't do all the extra things you'd want it to do or look the way you would want it to look.    You profoundly appreciate it when you upgrade. 
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