Sep 26, 2012

Green Belt!!

I earned my green belt last week! It was a long test, three hours with only a few seconds here and there for water. So it was pretty much non-stop. And all my Senpai (teachers and partners) pushed me pretty dang hard. I was exhausted at the end, but I had my green belt so I was very happy.

For those who don't know, green belt is in the intermediate levels, so I'm no longer in the 'junior' ranks. I'll be learning how to take someone down, be taken down, roll and fall without injuring myself, defend against a knife attack, and so much more. Basically, it's taking everything I've learned up to this point and bringing it to a new level. I'm SO excited!

Here are some pictures from the test. Enjoy!

Jul 10, 2012

Spirit Challenge Week: Soul Survivor

Last week, I posted video of the board breaking events during Spirit Challenge week at Thousand Waves. Today, I've got pictures and video of the Soul Survivor event.

In the past, this event has consisted of a bunch of people getting together and doing lots of fitness challenges, like push ups and sit ups and who knows what else, and the last person standing is the 'Soul Survivor.' This year, it was different. We divided up into teams of four. Here's my team.

We went to the beach, and then basically ran something like a fitness obstacle course. I had no idea how much running was going to be involved, and, frankly, I'm glad I didn't know because I would have chickened out. :) I hate running. I mean, I hate running. And the event was pretty much all running.

First, we ran from a big hill all the way to the beach (I have no idea how far that was, but it felt like an eternity--and running on the sand was killer), where we put a PVC pipe on our shoulders and did lunges in the water. Then we ran back to the hill (aka 'home base') and did 25 push ups. Then, we ran back to the beach and held horse stance (kind of a low squat) while the person in the back crawled under everyone else until they became the first person in line.

We had to do that for a good stretch along the sand. Then, we ran back to home base to do 50 sit ups.

Next, we ran up the hill carrying a car tire, passing it off to the next team member at specified places until we were back to where we started.

Then we ran back to home base and did 10 partner-plank-high-fives: two people holding plank position facing each other, then you slap hands low, middle, and high. Both hands for each level, which counts as one...we did ten of those.

After that, we had to tie our legs together and walk for a good stretch along the grass. Then we came back and held a V-sit for one minute (sit on your butt,  then raise your feet to head level while keeping your legs straight--from the side, you look like the letter V).

The last thing we did was a relay race up the hill, gathering bandanas which we had to tie together and pass off to the next team member. When we had them all, we had to run up the hill and back down as a team, then back to home base.

This whole thing was a timed event, and the two fastest teams faced off in a 'Tug of Peace' (Thousand Waves is all about violence prevention, hence the renaming from tug of war). The team who won the Tug of Peace is the Soul Survivor team.

Guess who won? My team!! I thought my running was going to slow everyone down, but apparently not. We took second place in the timed event, but then won the Tug of Peace. So we're the Soul Survivor champions for 2012! Woohoo!

I could barely walk the next day from all that running, but it was so worth it. :)

Here's a video of all the Soul Survivor events, and pretty much everyone who participated, if you'd like to see it. There's a map of our obstacle course, and the Tug of Peace is at the end. Enjoy!

Jul 3, 2012

Spirit Challenge Week: Board Breaking

Last week, I posted pictures from a couple of the Spirit Challenge events at my dojo, Thousand Waves. Today, I've got a video to share from the board-breaking event. This was my first time breaking, and it was quite the experience... Lots of fun, and I broke four boards! :)

My kids shot the video, so that's why the angle is so low (and why some of it is a bit shaky). But I think they did a pretty good job, so here you go.

And here is a video of those who have been breaking for years and are quite good at it. The challenge this year was to blindfold those breaking, arrange the people holding the boards around the room, then remove the blindfold. The person breaking has 30 seconds to basically run around the room and break as many boards as possible. There are some really amazing breaks, and I think fun was had by all. So here's a video if you'd like to watch it. Side note: it's about fifteen minutes long. :) Enjoy!

Jun 27, 2012

Spirit Challenge Week!

Spirit Challenge week at my dojo, Thousand Waves, has come and gone. And I'm happy to say that they exceeded their fundraising goal! Which means that they can keep doing all their violence prevention programs. Woohoo!!

For me, Spirit Challenge week was quite challenging! Instead of regular class, we did fitness challenges. Some were class-like, but longer and more strenuous. Others were completely different, and even more strenuous. :)

Here's some photos of the first two events: Karate Boot Camp and Kata Endurance (and, yes, they were exactly how the titles sound :) )

Next week, I'll post a video from the board-breaking event. At which, I broke four boards!!

May 15, 2012

Thousand Waves Martial Arts and Self-Defense Center

As you all probably know, my kids and I train in Seido Karate. I just earned my advanced yellow belt, and this weekend my kids will test for their green belts. We're all really excited!

Our dojo is called Thousand Waves, and it's amazing. I'm biased, of course, but I'm convinced it's one of the most welcoming communities ever. The environment is nurturing (NOT to be confused with coddling, cause they don' all), which provides people with a safe place to venture out of their comfort zones. This is the perfect recipe for building confidence and empowerment.

Before Oldest started training, he was painfully shy. At seven years old, he couldn't even make eye contact with strangers, let alone speak to them. In fact, on his first day at the dojo, his teacher actually asked if he was capable of speech(!).

This shyness hindered him in so many ways. He had difficulty making friends, joining new classes and groups in activities, and he was often on the outside looking in. All because he was too scared to take that first step toward connecting with other kids.

Part of the curriculum at Thousand Waves is learning how to speak up, that your voice counts and you have every right to use it. It's two of their Five Fingers of Self-Defense: Think, Yell, Run, Fight, Tell. Through consistent training and encouragement from his teachers, Oldest has acquired the confidence to use his voice, both to make new friends and to set limits with existing ones. He's almost a different kid than he was a year ago, so much happier and easy-going, and he's enjoying life so much more. A huge, new door has been opened for him.

When Youngest was in junior kindergarten, one of his classmates tried to shut him in his locker. Yes, junior kindergarten!! Thousand Waves gave him a whole set of tools to deal with this bully, and there hasn't been an incident since.

This is why I train there. This is why I believe Thousand Waves is worthy of support. They have given me and my family far more than I could ever give in return, but I will do my best to try.

Mine is not the only family they have touched. Thousand Waves has several violence prevention programs, which they bring to to schools and neighborhood organizations. They have an Adapted Seido Karate program for kids with disabilities, which has no fees for those kids who train. They also have a scholarship fund, which ensures that anyone who wants to can train in karate, and have access to the many Thousand Waves programs.

For an organization to do as much as this one does, they need help. They are a not-for-profit, and all of their scholarship funds come from their annual Spirit Challenge fundraiser. This includes the Adapted Seido Karate program for disabled kids. I have pledged to do my part this year. In addition to donating, I have signed up for four fitness challenges. These events take place all week from Monday, June 11 through Sunday, June 17. I've also pledged to raise $200, which will go toward keeping their fabulous programs going.

If Thousand Waves sounds like an organization you'd like to see thriving, I would love your help in reaching my goal. You can make a donation here, of whatever amount you like. Every little bit counts--"One wave can set a thousand in motion."

May 10, 2012

Obscene, Heavy-Breathing...Cat?

I used to have a cat that was insanely affectionate. He loved to insert himself in the middle of everything, and when he decided it was time to cuddle, well, it was going to happen whether you wanted it to or not. He would pick the person, too, and sometimes it would be a complete stranger. I think he needed to mark every single human he came across as his 'territory' so he could curl up on them whenever he wanted. And I do mean on them. This cat used to sleep on my face. It was really annoying. :)

There was one thing, though, that he didn't want his humans near, and that was Christmas bows. You know, the ones you peel and stick on a gift. Yeah. I brought him home as a kitten right before Christmas, and I was worried he was going to annihilate the tree. Nope. He was mesmerized by the bows on the gifts. He batted at them for a bit, pounced on a few others, and then, oh joy! One came off! 

Clearly, this bow was meant for him and him only. He played with it all over the room, and then the weirdest thing happened. He noticed I was a mere five feet away! His beloved human, the one who feeds him and keeps him safe, was now suddenly a threat. What if I tried to take his bow? He was having none of that, and decided to stake his claim with a vengeance.

He picked up the bow in his mouth, arched his back, and hissed. That right there was funny enough to send me giggling, but have you ever heard a cat try to hiss with something in its mouth? It doesn't work so well, and there is no actual hissing sound. Instead, it sounds like obscene heavy breathing. I fell over in hysterics, which offended him greatly because I clearly wasn't taking him seriously. He forgave me later, though, after he'd hidden the bow and come out for dinnertime. :)

May 2, 2012

Cow Patterned Cake

I guess I only make cakes for other people's special occasions. Friends' birthdays, bake sales, Christmas parties, etc. I made a cake over the weekend for a Teacher Appreciation Dinner at the boys' school. They have this dinner every year, and I've made a cake each time. The theme changes, and this year was The Wild West. I had no idea what to do, so I just made a huge cake and put a cow pattern on it. It turned out pretty well. Here's a photo.

The top layer is chocolate, and the bottom is yellow. And there's caramel frosting in between. :)

Apr 25, 2012

Jokes From An Eight Year Old

Oldest is really into jokes. Actually, both boys are, and they both love to make up their own. Of course, they think they're hilarious but they don't make much sense to a grown-up. Namely, me. :) But I listen and I laugh, mostly at how well they can crack themselves up.

Oldest has had a recent mental shift. He still makes up silly jokes that don't make sense, but he's also starting to see the world around him and tell jokes that are pretty darned funny. Like these two, which he sort of made up on his own:

Q: How does a baby roll?
A: In a stroller.

Q: How does a baby rock and roll?
A: In a stroller on a gravel road.

But the best one he's told me so far is this:

Oldest: Will you remember me five minutes from now?
Me: Yes. 
Oldest: Will you remember me tomorrow?
Me: Yes.

Oldest: Will you remember me next month?
Me: Yes. 
Oldest: Will you remember me next year?
Me: Yes. 
Oldest: Knock knock.
Me: Who's there?
Oldest: I thought you said you'd remember me!

Apr 17, 2012

The Toothless Wonder

For the last couple years, Youngest has watched his brother and all his classmates get loose teeth, coins from the Toothfairy, and then grin--showing off those awesome gaps. But Youngest's teeth remained stubbornly tight. Not even the slightest wiggle. Last year, he came to me with a sigh and said "Mommy, when am I going to lose a tooth?" He looked so forlorn that I hugged him and said his teeth would come out when they were ready. He nodded and sort of moped away.

Well, this year, he has hit the jackpot. A couple weeks ago, he lost his first tooth (while we were at a restaurant, no less), and on Sunday he lost another. And, he's got four more loose teeth. Four! I don't know how this kid eats!! Plus, once all these teeth fall out, he's going to be gumming his food to death.

But he doest care. Right now he's smiling, showing off his jack-o-lantern grin and loving every minute of it. In the mean time, I think I'll dust off the blender, just in case. :)

Apr 13, 2012

Polite Children

I saw the most astonishing thing the other day. I went to pick up my kids from school, and as I went into Youngest's first grade classroom, all the kids were getting their stuff out of their lockers and bringing it back into the classroom. One of the girls ran up to one of the boys.

Girl: Your locker is still open.
Boy: Oh, uh...(looks at the coat, backpack, and lunchbox filling his arms). Would you mind closing it for me?
Girl: Sure! (she runs off)

I kid you not, this is verbatim. These kids are six and seven years old, and this boy sounded like a polite, well-mannered adult speaking!! How cool is that? I thought it was pretty awesome, and had to share. :)

Mar 27, 2012

Advanced Yellow Belt!

I earned my advanced yellow belt last week! I was worried I wasn't going to be able to because I tweaked my knee slightly last sunday. But all was well, and I made it through the 3 (ish) hour test. :) Here are some pictures.

Mar 14, 2012

Maui 2012

Last month, we went to Maui for a wedding. I know, I know, such a rough and difficult place to go. :) We took a few extra days and turned this into a lovely family vacation. The best part? Other than eating amazing seafood and sitting around, we did a whole lot of nothing. It was fabulous. :)

The one time we did get off our butts, though, was to take surfing lessons. That was FUN. All of us were scheduled to go, but, when we got there, Youngest decided he wanted no part of it. He didn't throw a fit or anything, he just calmly stated he didn't want to go. I tried to convince him to try, but he just shook his head resolutely. The teachers tried to convince him, but he was having none of it. These guys were professionals, though, and they've seen everything...

Teacher: Look at these great photos of kids just like you surfing. (points to a picture of a kid about 7 or 8 years old riding the waves like a pro)
Youngest: I don't want to go.
Teacher: I can take you if you want. You and I can go on the board together, and you won't even get wet if you don't want to. See? Just like this guy. (points to a picture of a 4ish year old kid on the front of the surfboard with an adult behind him).
Youngest: No. I just don't want to go.
Teacher: Well, okay. No one is going to make you go. But we can't leave you on the beach by yourself, so you gotta come into the ocean with us.
Youngest: (thinking) Yeah, okay.
Teacher: And we'll get you a board so you have something to sit on while you hang out with us there.
Youngest: (thinking again) Oh. Yeah. Okay.

And off he went into the ocean with us. We had two teachers for the four of us, and one of them took Youngest straight out to catch a wave. And he did it! The teacher held the board steady the whole time, but Youngest stood up on the board, then knelt back down when it was over. I was watching the whole thing and cheering, and the other teacher told me that they see this all the time so they take reluctant kids out immediately before they know what's going on, and then it's all good after that. Which is exactly what happened. :) Youngest came over to me and said he loved surfing and wanted to go again! It was so cute.

DH didn't grow up swimming, but he still had fun and managed to stand up on the board quite regularly. Oldest, of course, took to it immediately. He wiped out, of course, but he got right back up and tried again and again until he was doing everything almost by himself (the teachers would give him a shove to make sure he had enough initial momentum). He wants to go surfing again, and wishes Lake Michigan had bigger waves. :)

So do I, for that matter. I loved it! We were out there for an hour and a half at least, and I was not ready to come in when our lesson was over. Toward the end, everything finally clicked into place and I managed to make it almost to the beach without wiping out. FUN!!! Here's some pictures.

Jan 17, 2012

Two More Cakes

I've made a couple cakes recently. One was a chocolate cake for a holiday potluck, which was fun. Here's a picture.

The other was for a get together for some friends and their kids. Okay, it's not's gingerbread. But I assembled and decorated them, so close enough. :)

Jan 10, 2012

Birthday Breakfast

My birthday was back in October, and DH got up early and made me a special, delicious breakfast of salmon on fresh bread with greens and a poached egg. He also made a bloody mary garnished with bleu cheese stuffed olives and salami. It was fabulous!

The boys got up with him, and as they were pulling all the ingredients out of the fridge, Youngest decided to add his two cents:

"Daddy, you don't have to make all that stuff. Mommy's breakfast is easy! All you have to do is put a bowl on the table and she'll put in whatever cereal she wants."

I guess it shows that he pays attention to what I usually eat. :)

Jan 1, 2012

Yellow Belt Test

This blog is sorely neglected, I know. I have so many great things to share, but not enough time to share them. I'm planning to set aside one day a week for it, though, so hopefully it won't be months between updates. :)

Anyway, in the past four months, I've earned both my advanced blue belt and my yellow belt. I don't have photos of my advanced blue belt test, but here's some photos from my yellow belt test. Enjoy!

I'm in the middle

Again, in the middle


Everyone I tested with.