Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Losing Weight and Video Games



When Chris and I got married, we both agreed video games are not good for children.  We agreed we wanted our children to be active and outside as much as possible and that video games can be addictive (you have to know my husband to understand that argument fully) and we did not think we would ever purchase a video game machine.  We also agreed we would never have a television in our bedroom and that is about to change so we can watch a movie alone sometimes.

Enter 2010 and our Roku was dying.  We had used it well and it had more than paid for itself - it was only $100 and we'd used it for 3 years to instant stream Netflix.  Our friends down the street were selling their Wii system because they needed the cash and we needed a way to stream Netflix more reliably.  So we purchased the Wii with the understanding it was only to stream Netflix.  But life can change a lot of things, including where you live and how you think. 

March 28, 2011 we pulled into the Staybridge Inns and Suites in Mukilteo, Washington to begin a new adventure in life.  Chris had a new job with Boeing after being unemployed most of 2010.  It was a blessing and we were thrilled and still are to have moved here.  Even when I get homesick, at least I can rest somewhat easier knowing that while I may be homesick we are able to provide for our children.  But there was a hitch.  It rains, a lot in Washington.

So here we are in a state where it rains off and on most of the year (Summer tends to be the dry season), or it snows a bit (we had a pretty nasty snow storm here in January which kept a lot of people home bound for a week including the girls and I).   This means it tough for the girls to get all of the exercise they need, especially since we home school.  Recess in the rain isn't really ideal - because I'd prefer the girls to not get pneumonia. 

So they were becoming more inactive and so was I; I had to find a solution to this problem.  Enter tax return time. . . I hadn't planned on purchasing a video game or two.  But as I walked by Game Stop at the mall, I was struck by inspiration.  If I can't bring them to the outside, I can at least bring activity to them and to me!  So I looked at the Wii Fit and Jillian Michael's Wii games and the guys told me to start off with Wii Fit - guess what I may have paid $40 for the balance board, but I only paid $15 for Wii Fit Plus and Wii Fit was only $2.00.  And while that may not seem like a good idea or a good investment, we use it almost daily - especially me. 

For a long time I hated the idea of working out in public.  I still do.  Some of it, like most overweight people there is a sense of shame - after all you don't get back to 250 pounds purely by happenstance.   A year of deployment, a year of unemployment and three years for insomnia did not help me keep the weight off I had gone through agony to lose (year three was adjusting to a new home, in a new state, and away from my friends and family).  I am still self conscious about dancing to those dancing videos in front of Chris, and he's seen me give birth - you'd think I wouldn't care, but I do.  So at first, when the girls would watch me work out on the Wii Fit, I started to shoo them away.  One day though, Beka came running out to exclaim, "Way to go, Mom!  Hi Five!"  Somehow after that I didn't mind anymore if they saw me and my flab sweating it out as I work to remove the weight I regained after gastric bypass (it's a tool, not a magic bullet).    And by letting the girls join me and keep me company I not only show them the importance of staying in good physical shape, but I gain my own personal set of cheerleaders.    It is hard to not be motivated when the girls are jumping and cheering me on while I box until I break the arm off of the robot boxing bag which is always followed by a small Hi Five (she's only 4, her hands are that big).  

Do I think I'll purchase sedentary video games?  No.  Will I back down and let the girls have a TV in their room?  Absolutely not, I stand by our previous decisions that children should not have a TV in their room (it's about spending time together as a family - the TV in our room is for sleepovers, or when Mommy and Daddy don't have a little girl friendly movie).    However, I will most likely purchase the Jillian Michaels games and I look forward to trying out the Zumba game, I've heard it's a lot of fun.  And yes, I'll let the girls play with them, because if you can't be fit as a family then you will have a tough time keeping your family fit physically.  Given that heart disease runs in our family on my side, I would like the girls to heart healthy and I would like know that I'm doing everything I can to not be 45 when I have my first heart attack like my Grandfather and Mother.   More importantly, I want them to know it's important to take good care of your body.

I hope you all have a good week. 
In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Repeating History

Chris had a teacher who once quoted "Those who do not read History are doomed to repeat it."  Of course, the teacher explained in the context of his/her class that if a student didn't study then they would be doomed to repeat the class.   But I've heard it as well.  Most of our very good, wise presidents (Lincoln is one example) studied History.  They realized they needed to learn from the mistakes of past presidents and past countries.

Elizabeth and I are studying History these days in home school.  Some of it is very interesting - okay I find all of it interesting, but Lizzie could most likely care less.  We've learned the reasons behind people coming to start new in our country from the beginning.  First, many of them came because they figured their lives couldn't be much worse in the New World than they were back in the land the emigrated here from.  Second, they face religious persecution.  We all have heard about the Quakers, the Hugeonots, the Puritans, and many other religions that chose to start over here in America so they could worship God freely.  Finally, many people chose to come here because they no longer had the freedom to speak their minds.  In their home lands they would be killed, thrown in prison, or worse if they spoke out against the governments.  France is a good example:  Because our Revolutionary War was so successful, the French found the courage to fight for their own freedom from monarchies that did not have their best interests at heart. 

For over 200 years now we have had freedom of speech, to bear arms in war times, freedom to live our lives, worship God (or gods for some other religions) as we chose too.  September 11, 2001 changed some of that.  It started an slow slide onto a slippery slope.  Understandably people were afraid.  Until September 11th the last time our country had been attacked in such an awful manner was Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked us bringing us into World War II.  So we passed the Patriot Act.  This opened a door or started our slide into giving up our inalienable rights to stand for what we believe in.  And since then we are slowly losing our freedom one bill at a time. 

I have no doubt that the government had good intentions when passing the Patriot Act.  But just as the Germans handed over power to Hitler shortly before World War II and never got it back until his defeat, we are heading in the same direction.   It starts with fear and allowing people to make us promises.  "Give me power for 90 days to do as I see fit, then I'll hand the reins back over to you."  Hitler made this promise, he was insane, but very smart.  He lied with half truths.  Bette Greene wrote about in Summer of My German Soldier.  Anton explains to Patty, Hitler started with half truths.  "The German people are starving."  This was true, after World War I we had left Germany in a terrible state (hence the Geneva Convention after World War II).  However, Hitler laid the blame at the feet of the Jewish people for Germany's woes.  This was a lie - obviously, Germany had their troubles because the Kaiser had started what would become World War I.  We see this even now.  Propaganda, it's happening now here in our country. The media that was once supposed to be objective and just tell the truth, slants the truth as they want it, or how the government wants it.  Our country is slowly falling into the trap that the German and Russian people fell into. 

Our country is in terrible economic shape - our current president and the previous one are spending more than we bring in.  When thing get tough, people get desperate.   Hurricane Katrina could not have been planned, it's weather, but the government didn't stop the gouging on gasoline prices that have driven up the cost of living here in the United States.  Our country is literally falling not from outside forces but from our own arrogance and our own desire to turn a blind eye to those things happening around us. 

I've been reading the Hunger Games - And honestly, it reminds me of Rome with it's lavious and gluttonous parties but it's President, President Snow reminds me of dictators in the past.  Those who rule with an iron fist, those who punish in horrible ways if you disagree with them in any way.  The worst part is, I can see if slowly happening to our country.  I worry that too many Americans are sleeping and will not awaken until it is too late to fight back and stop it from happening. 

One of the only disadvantages I can think of about loving books, is that you begin to see the possibilities of those things you read in books becoming a reality in your world.  Reading opens your eyes to new ideas, possibilities and the opportunities for good and bad things to happen. 

There isn't a huge point to this blog post, except that I have to be honest.  I am afraid.  Afraid of our current goverment, I'm afraid that too many Americans have been lulled into believing the lies sold to us by the media and the government.  I am afraid that one day we will wake up and find ourselves in a dictatorship and that my daughters will not know freedom or my grandchildren will not be able to remain in this country.  Maybe it's the book getting to me, but I don't think it is, since I've worried about this for some time prior to reading The Hunger Games books.  The trilogy only made me want to speak out more than I would have before.

I hope you all have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Identities

A friend of mine from college shared a blog written by Allison Mack - an actress who played Chloe on Smallville for many years.  She has taken time off from acting and has been figuring out who she is as a person - without being an actress.  It was a very interesting blog, but it also go me thinking.

Who am I?  Shortly before Chris deployed, I told him when he came home I wanted to take a vacation alone.  Somewhere by myself and just be me.  His response was deployment wasn't a vacation, but that wasn't really my point.  My point at the time was he had an identity outside of our family.  He had a role besides being some one's husband or father.  I am always some one's wife, some one's mother.  Before that, I was the fixer - the person my friends or close family would call when it all hit the fan.  Sometimes to vent, sometimes because they needed help. 

It was during deployment that I began to blog.  At first, the goal was to write so Chris could read it and stay abreast of what was going on at home while he was gone.  Funny little stories, sad occurrences, the things that make your life go day by day.  But then something began to shift.  I realized I had forgotten how much I enjoyed writing.  I love playing with words, figuring out a way or a different creative way to express myself, or to tell a story.   And I found something. . . I found ME!  I realized I was more than a mom, more than a wife, a daughter, the fixer, the one who steps back and can look objectively.  I was a person who still have hopes and dreams that went beyond my children, but included my husband. 

Even now as I choose to homeschool, I try to make time to blog at least two or three times a week or daily at best.  I find in writing I can work out emotions, thoughts, ideas, flesh out character ideas for a story I am still working on figuring out now.  In writing, I can get lost in words.  Sadly, I don't get to read as much as I used to, but at least in writing I get to keep working on staying fluid and not becoming stagnant.

My end goal is still to raise Sarah, Elizabeth and Rebekah to grow into young women who love God and seek His will daily in their lives.  But I have additional goals now too.  Someday maybe I'll write a book, it doesn't have to happen overnight, but someday I have intentions to go and immerse myself in the library and begin research and work on my book idea.


I hope you all have a good week.

In Christ,
Maureen

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Getting Organized

I think I finally figured it out. . . the reason why the Duggar family has such a huge house.  Aside from the fact that they have their own football team in children, they have a house that large so they can have plenty of space for their books, computers and home schooling supplies.

At this point I need a Duggar sized house to fit most of my supplies.  But since that's not in the cards for some time, it means I have to make due with 920 square feet of an apartment.  Thank goodness we have closets in our apartment unlike our former home.  Or I would be in some serious trouble. 

Today I was struck with inspiration. . .  DUH! We have a computer why not scan (oh yes, I finally figured out how to work the scanner.  Is it sad that my 17 year old is better on the computer than I am or that my 64 year old mother is better on the computer than I?) the workbooks and those items I am able to scan into the computer.  Our next step is to purchase an external hard drive system for school folders only.  It will hold nothing but school work, grades, worksheets, etc. . .  I have high hopes that this will enlarge what I can do with the girls.

On an even more thrilling note (thrilling to me anyway) Alpha Omega Publications will be in Puyallup, WA June 15-16th for a Home School Convention!  While this may not seem exciting to many of you, I am tickled pink. I loved learning in middle school, high school and college so the idea of finding more materials in which I can help the girls enjoy learning Science, Math, English, History, the Bible and more is thrilling to me.  I discovered this lovely little nugget when perusing my catalog that arrived in the mail this week.  They also have a convention in Portland, OR so if I have to miss the one in Washington I am able to travel a mere 3 hours away from home AND I would get to meet fellow homeschooling Mom Judy Crawford while that way if we were able to work it all out. 

The neat thing about home schooling is that because of Elizabeth's delays I can move as quickly or as slowly as I need to in order to meet her needs.  There are some things she excels in, but at the same time, it often requires more effort on her part to grasp even the smallest concepts.  Working on addition facts is become quite frustrating for her.  Thankfully, Saxon Math seems to gear their ideas more towards making Math more practical and simplifying it.  We are working on the concept of Doubles Plus One.  For example: 4+4=8 so 5+4=9. The reasoning is since 4+4 does equal 8 then you just add 1 and viola!  You've discovered the answer for 5+4/4+5, however you need to view it.  I also like that their math facts cards involve subtraction on the back. 

Science and Math aside though, I love that twice a day we have reading time.  We are working our way through Charlotte's Web and then during our second reading time - usually bedtime we are reading Bunnicula!  It's fun to watch Beka and Lizzie both get involved in the story.  AND Elizabeth is working her way through Judy Moody: Girl Detective.  It's been fun and interesting to watch her as she starts reading on her own.

I hope you all have a good week.  I promise I'll try to do better about writing daily.
In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Genetics


Today is one of those days where I am seriously discouraged.  Elizabeth needed to resume her Strattera, or we would never have made any progress in home school.  Also it appears she is following in my footsteps with her jaw. 

Yesterday evening she began complaining that her ear ached.  So this morning I took her to the doctor, I was worried she had an ear infection again.  Happily it was not an ear infection, it is however a sign that she may end up being like me.  I suffer from TMJ, I grind my teeth but I also have an incorrect bite.  It's been somewhat corrected when I was a teen and wore braces, but single parents don't always have a ton of money to spend, so half way through my treatment we ran out of money and I had to stop.   So I have been struggling with this issue for years now.  For a long time the only way to correct my bite permanently and fully was surgery.  With todays advances in medicine, I don't know if that is still true, but sooner rather than later, I'm going to need to get into the orthodontist and get it taken care of for the sake of my jaw. 

For me, my TMJ flares up a lot when I sing too much.  I don't chew gum or chewy foods, I am careful about what I eat, because I have thrown my jaw out of alignment before and it was not pleasant.  When my TMJ flares up I can be down for days, because like migraine sufferers I become light and sound sensitive, everything hurts me and it is not fun. 

When I graduated high school I knew I had TMJ, but I had hopes for becoming a professional recording Christian performer.  After one semester of being a music major I had to switch majors, and my TMJ flaring up was one of the biggest reasons.  So while this is not great that Elizabeth will face this struggle, I don't see her wanting to grow up to be a singer.  She doesn't sing constantly like Beka and music doesn't come easily for Elizabeth; Beka is more like me when it comes to music, it just flows out of her. 

I think the reason this new discovery bothers me extensively is because as a parent you want what is best for your children.  You want them to grow up to be happy and healthy and there is always a part of you that wants to protect them.  Protecting Elizabeth is a tougher job than protecting Beka.  Beka is right on track developmentally and even a little ahead.  Elizabeth struggles to learn in school, she works harder than Sarah or Beka when it comes to education or learning some of the simple social skills.  So it stinks that this is one more thing she has to face, one more challenge to overcome. 

Thankfully, Chris is doing well at Boeing and things are moving upward for him.  This means raises in pay, possible promotions, it means better resources to help Elizabeth as she fights to survive in our world.  People tell me God can heal Elizabeth, and I believe God can heal anyone, but I also believe it isn't always in his plan to heal those who ask for it.  I have no doubt that he can heal Lizzie, but just because he can doesn't mean he will.  And up to this point in time he has not sent a healing touch to her yet.  So for now we keep medication going, we work with doctors, specialists and therapists on an as needed basis.

I hope you all have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Friday, March 9, 2012

Paul: Acts 16: 16- 24

"These men are servants of the Most High god, who are telling you the way to be saved!"
The voices in her head are screaming at her to yell out these things.  Her masters are not happy, but she is compelled by the dark voices in her head.  She must cry out, to defy them means she is attacked, she is wretched and miserable. 

The people in her town look at her and despise her but they are willing to come to her to have their palms read and futures told to them because they don't know anything else.  Life is not horrible, as long as she does what her master's ask of her and what the voices in her head ask of her then things go smoothly.  But the darkness consuming her, the darkness that comes with the voices is heavy upon her.  She is trapped.  Trapped by the evil ones who possess her, trapped in slavery, trapped in her life, but these men seem to rile up the evil ones even more.  The voices scream, they are afraid and call out because something commands them.

For days she follows these men.  She wonders what the point is of her following them, but she must go, she is compelled.  Finally, one of the men turns around.  He is not happy, they have been trying for days to ignore her, but he seems unhappy and annoyed.  He stares for a few moments before speaking to the voices/the evil ones.

"In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!"

Her head becomes quiet.  She is free from the voices, she is happy.  But her masters have been following her and watching what she is doing and they are not happy.  Paul and Silas are thrown into jail - after being beaten.  Her masters caused a crowd to rise up against Paul and Silas.  

Imagine being lost in despair - trapped by the decisions of others?  Trapped into servanthood by men or women who do not have your best interests at heart?  The young girl who Paul rescued from demon possession, this was her lot in life.  She was a servant, her masters used her demon possession to read people's futures for money.  We never hear what happens to her after she is released from the demons that haunted her and took over her body.  We only know that Paul and Silas spent part of the night in jail, feet in stocks, singing praises to God when an earthquake set them free.  The jailer thought his life was over and almost killed himself until Paul and Silas set yet another captive free.  The jailer became free from the chains of sin.  This is an amazing story of how God uses even a demon possessed girl to change the lives of many.

I'm sure the reason Paul was annoyed was that the people in the town feared the girl.   They liked that she could answer their questions about their future, but they feared her probably too.  As she cried out, she most likely scared off more people than she attracted towards God.  By silencing her, the Holy Spirit could move as God wanted him too.

Sadly, men's evil hearts often do their best to thwart God's plans.   After being released from jail Paul and Silas were asked to leave, but they had planted some seeds with Lydia - a prominent business woman.  And we all know that God can take seeds that have been planted and turn them into great trees bearing beautiful fruit. 

Father,
Help us as we struggle to be bold for you.  Help us to remember that others have suffered for your name, and you took care of them always.  May be bold like Paul and Silas and feel compelled to speak of you to those who will listen.

Amen.