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. :)