Thursday, January 10, 2013

Resolutions and whatever

Today was a big day for me, as it would be for any dieter -- I reached my goal weight! After one year and six days, I inched over that finish line and took a picture to preserve the moment for posterity.

And I don't mind revealing my weight these days, as I'm actually rather proud. At 5'7", that puts me smack at a BMI of 21, which has been my "ideal" these past 12 months.

Anyway, one would assume that because of the timing, losing weight was my resolution for 2012. It wasn't. I don't make resolutions. The timing just happened to work for me because
  • After the holidays, I was feeling my fattest and knew I'd either soon be going up another size or I had to go down.
  • The kids went back to school; I went to the gym.
  • We took the kids ice skating over that Christmas break, and I wouldn't skate for fear of falling, and I was so disgusted by that because it's against my nature to sit on the sidelines.
And so the little things just added up and serendipity took care of the rest. (Well, that and working my butt off. Let's give credit where credit is due!)

So as 2013 began, I started to think about what I want to accomplish this year. I am not making a resolution, mind you! But you know, it's always good to try to improve things once in a while. So here's what I've been thinking:

  • Of course I intend to keep up with working out and controlling my food intake.
  • I plan to start a Pilates program to tighten up that tummy and work on my hips, which are prone to pain.
  • I really want to run at least two 5Ks, and maybe even a 10K if things go well. This depends on my joints, however. My goal is to run one in 30 minutes or less.
  • I plan to climb a 14er in the summer.

But those things are all focused on myself. I also want to look outward a little more.
  • I want to get more involved with my kids.
  • I want to get more involved with charitable events through my church and community.
  • I really want to find a need in the community where I am well-suited to help, maybe something outside my comfort zone, but in a place where I feel like I'm actually making a difference. This one is hard because it's not as though it'll drop in my lap. I'm hoping that something catches my attention and that I will be aware enough to realize that this is my "calling," so to speak.
So what about you? What resolutions have you not made this year? Or maybe you have easy ones, like cheering your favorite team on to victory or seeing more movies, or something. :-)

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Amy Ice Skates Again

While I can't say there was one big motivating factor or decision point for me to start losing weight last year, there were a lot of little things that just added up.

One tipping point for me was when we took our kids ice skating at Evergreen Lake last winter. This is the event that pushed me over the edge; the straw that broke the camel's back, to speak in cliches.

Growing up in the Great White North as I did, I have fond memories of ice skating as a child. My sister and I would walk to the rink, pay the 50 cents or a dollar to get in, change into our skates in the bare-bones warming room, enjoy a styrofoam cup of hot chocolate, and clump out on the lumpy ice to race around in circles for as long as we could stand.

I really wanted to join my kids in ice skating last winter. But I didn't. Because I was afraid of falling. It wasn't so much that I doubted my ability to skate; it was that if I happened to fall, landing would be p-a-i-n-f-u-l. And I wasn't willing to risk breaking something.

When I began losing weight, one of the mantras I told myself was that next winter, I would skate!

And so I did.

And I was happy.

The end.

P.S. Evergreen Lake has got to be the best skating rink in Colorado, if not the country. It's large, it's got gorgeous views, it's got the freshest of air--you just can't beat it. If you haven't been there, take the 1 hour car ride and do yourself (and your kids!) a favor.

Monday, December 31, 2012

How did you do it?

That's the number one question I've gotten this year, whenever I talk about how much weight I lost in 2012.

I started losing weight on January 4, 2012, and to date I've lost a total of 73 pounds. And yeah, it is pretty amazing, and I don't mind saying so! Without getting into a long, involved blog entry (much of which I blogged about previously), I'll just give you a quick rundown of "how I did it."

  1. I got my head in the game. This is where you start and where you end. If your list of excuses for why you can't get to the gym is longer than your list of reasons to do it, you might as well save yourself the frustration and wait until you're mentally in a place where you're ready for what's involved.

    For me, this was no big "I'm gonna do this!!!" epiphany. It was a matter of, every single, stinkin' morning, putting on my gym clothes and hauling my ass to the gym. I admit, I had a schedule that worked for me. I dropped the kids off at school and went to the gym. Period. But now I'm working. I still go to the gym, only it's after work now.
  2. I used My Fitness Pal religiously. I was exact, thorough, complete ... you get the idea. Every bite of food that went in my mouth went into My Fitness Pal. You can do this on the computer or download the app for your smartphone. I used both. What's great about the program is that it calculates calories for you and also helps tailor exactly what YOUR caloric goals should be. Without this program, I never could have done it, because counting calories on your own is just too darn frustrating. Now my husband is also using it with very positive results.
  3. I exercised every day. Again, I was already set up with an 8-year-old gym membership, and it was just a matter of going. However, just like the calorie counting, I never would have lost weight without the exercise as well. And now, the exercise is my favorite part. I love feeling fit, having the endurance and muscle tone. It makes me feel attractive and even somewhat athletic. Exercise is a lifestyle, and it's now a permanent part of my life. Without it, I'll balloon up again. But it's not a problem, because now I want to exercise.

    If you need a little advice, I recommend doing the elliptical trainer. It burns 2-3 times the calories of walking, biking, and just about every other type of cardiovascular exercise. Plus, it's easy on your joints. However, walking is the best "no equipment necessary" form of exercise there is. Ultimately, you have to do what works for you; determine if you prefer to work alone, in groups, with a trainer, etc., and then do it.
  4. I never quit. Some months were better than others. In March, I lost 10 pounds. In November, I lost less than 1. Sometimes things don't go as expected, and it's easy to get discouraged. Just remember, if you're doing the right things--eating right and exercising--you WILL lose weight. You might have to make an adjustment, even if it's just an attitude one, but quitting is NOT an option. For me, this wasn't really an issue, because for every pound I lost, every size I went down, every activity I did that was previously not possible (skydiving! ice skating!), I was that much more motivated. But this goes back to #1. Your head has to be in the game. And stay there. Even if it's by pure grit.
I cannot overstate how much losing all that weight has changed my life, and 100% for the better. I don't miss a single thing about being fat, not even the food. Because a funny thing happens--when your life is full of other positive things, food takes a back burner. Not to mention, my palate, my stomach size, everything has changed. I no longer crave all the junk I used to love so much.

Not only do I "have more energy," my husband is more attracted to me, my whole family is more healthy-lifestyle conscious, I have a more positive attitude overall, after years of looking for a job, I finally got one ... the list goes on and on. I now feel prepared to take on new challenges for 2013, whereas before I never bothered to set goals since I knew I wouldn't work towards them.

I'm no expert--I only know what worked for me--but if you have any more questions about "how I did it" that I didn't answer here, feel free to ask and I'll be happy to try to answer you!

A Very Happy, Healthy New Year!

Monday, July 09, 2012

Year of Change

You wouldn't know it from this blog, seeing as I've been a very bad little blogger this year, but I've been undergoing a great change this year. And it is indeed a great change. No, it's not moving, or a job, or a relationship change. It's a lifestyle change.

2012 is the year of weight loss for me. If you were to ask what finally motivated me to do this, I'd be hard presssed to give you an answer. I haven't been trying to lose weight for years; I haven't been struggling with self-esteem issues (though I did have other weight-related issues); I don't have any one trigger that I can think of. All I know is I've kicked around the idea for a while, but it wasn't until last Christmas and I realized I was likely to go up yet one more size if I didn't get a handle on things that I finally decided to do something about it.

I've had a gym membership for years, so in January I decided to finally go back. In addition, I've been watching what I eat. The secret to weight loss, in my opinion, is simply to figure out what works for you. I am not one for organized diets, group thingies, points, books, TV shows or whatever. I prefer to work alone, in my own way. Since January, I've lost 47 (and counting) pounds, and here's how I did it.

First, I use a great web site and related iPhone app called My Fitness Pal ( The app helps me calculate how many calories I'm allowed and automatically adjusts for every 10 lbs I lose. I keep track of everything I eat in the app, which makes it super-easy to "count calories." Nobody likes counting calories, me included, but frankly, in order to lose weight, it's pretty darn necessary. The web site has made it fairly easy, especially since I like to eat the same foods regularly. I also keep track of my exercise there, both cardiovascular and strength training. This is great because for every cardiovascular calorie I burn, that's one more I get to eat. :-) It helps me make sure I'm not overeating.

Secondly, I've been exercising religiously. I realize this is a huge sticking point with a lot of people, but just let me say -- without it, I never would have lost the weight. I joke that "losing weight is my part-time job." It's a slight exaggeration, but what I really mean is that I've made this effort my number one priority for this year. And it's paying off.

I go to the gym 6 days a week. On M W F, I do the elliptical trainer for 30 minutes, and I do strength training for about 30 minutes. I haven't been using a personal trainer, but I will say when I first got my membership 8 years ago, I did have a trainer for 6 sessions, and it helped. On T Th S, I do the elliptical trainer for 60 minutes. I have a high tolerance for repetitive activity, obviously, but I like the elliptical machine because it burns more calories per session than any other machine. Since my objective is to lose weight, that's important. Once I've lost the weight, I intend to focus on other forms of fitness and I'll give the elliptical machine a break.

Since about May, I've also added walking to my list of exercises. This is generally in the evening after it's cooled off a little. I started out with a couple of miles, and now I usually do between 3 and 5 miles. I have noticed that the weeks where I walk at least 3 times, I lose weight faster than the weeks I don't. So now I walk pretty much every chance I get.

In fact, over the last 6 months I've gotten in such good shape that I have started running this month. I signed up for my first 5K ever in September, and while I don't know yet if I'll be able to run the whole thing, I definitely intend to run part of it. The running has been going really well. I never used to like running, and if you had told me I would start running ever and worse, liked it, I would never have believed you. But strangely, being fit feels really good, and now that has become my biggest motivating factor. I wouldn't say the actual act of running is real pleasant yet, but it's how I feel afterwards that is addicting. I feel like a million bucks, and believe me when I say that the exercise is its own reward.

So how have I stayed motivated? And will it last? Motivation is where I always used to get stuck. I'm not into being miserable, and that's what diet and exercise feels like sometimes. This time around, I made myself small, doable goals. My first goal was to get under 200 lbs. Then it was to get under a BMI of 30. Then it was to get to the 1/3 point, then the 1/2 point. Now I'm looking at a BMI of under 25 (25 is the "overweight" point) just around the corner. And I'm looking at meeting 100% of my weight loss goal by Christmas, maybe even Thanksgiving! For me, the more I lose, the more motivated I am. I'm now past the point of worrying whether I'll lose motivation, and more looking forward to what I can accomplish next.

And that's why I think it'll stick. My eating habits have changed enough that I am very much aware of what I eat and what my limits are. I'm losing the taste for junk and gaining a taste for healthier foods. I find I am enjoying an active lifestyle so much that I don't want to give it up anymore. I am super-excited about the things I'm going to be able to do, that I couldn't do last year because my weight was limiting me. And I LOVE looking good in my clothes and feeling attractive again!

THIS motivates me.

Probably the biggest and most unexpected reward of all this is how changing myself for the better has inspired those around me. My kids are now more conscious of what they eat. My husband has been talking about losing weight. My mom is thrilled with my progress, and my best friend came right out and said I inspire her. I never did this for anyone but myself, but I'm amazed how it is touching the people around me.

I still have about 30 lbs to go, and when I get there, I intend to have a big celebration. And why not -- it'll probably be about the biggest accomplishment of my life. I'm proud of myself and I don't mind saying so!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bucket List: Skydiving. Check.

A couple weeks ago my kids' school had a fundraising event, a spaghetti dinner/silent auction type of thing. I wasn't even planning to go, but we couldn't resist the challenge of entering hubby's spaghetti sauce in the competition. (He didn't win, alas. He was totally robbed.) Anywayyyy... for something I had no intention of attending at first, I ended up walking out of there the proud owner of -- drum roll, please -- a voucher for a tandem skydiving session!

You cannot believe how excited I am about this. I guess people think I'm crazy, because everyone I told about it asked if I got it for myself and gave me that "you're crazy" look when I said of course I did. But I can't wait. This (or something like it) has always been on my bucket list.

I'm going to try to schedule it for on or around my birthday in August, so I'll let you know then how it goes. If I make it. Hehehe

So hubby and I were talking about it this evening, and he says, "I don't really want to go." (I had told him that I want him to come with me, even though he'd just be waiting on the ground. I mean, it's not the kind of thing you do alone, right?)

"Are you worried about me dying?" I ask (thinking awww).

"No," he says. "Well yeah, but that's beside the point."

Aghast, I sputter, "Well, if dying's not the point, what is?"

"I don't want to be around to hear you hit the ground if the parachute fails," he shudders.

OMG, you guys, is that sweet or what?! I mean, what do you say to that, right?

That got us to talking about dying (we're just a barrel of laughs, I tell ya), and I admitted that if I'm going to die, that's the way to go. Might as well die having fun, right? Also, it would be relatively quick. I figure it's better than dying from cancer or some other awful disease. Yeah, I'm too young to die and I definitely don't want to go yet, but I'm not exactly afraid of it either. Not enough to keep me from experiencing something I think will be completely amazing.

You see her face? That's gonna be me. Minus the cleavage.
Look up "tandem skydiving" on Google Images--
every last person is smiling.

I think skydiving is going to be a blast. I'm a little nervous, but only about the falling sensation I'm expecting to experience, more than the landing part. I'll be hitched to an experienced skydiver, so I'll only be along for the ride, and I figure statistically speaking, I don't have much to worry about.

When I'm like 75, I'm going to tell my grandkids about the time I went skydiving. Their eyes will get all round, and they'll say, "You did? But you're old!" And I'll say, "I know, but I'm cool." That will be a fun conversation.

Would you do it? If you got to choose how to die, how would you go? Do you have anything "crazy" like this on your bucket list?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Thoughts on "The Hunger Games"

Now that The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins has become a hit movie and the book series is popular with teens, controversy is starting to form around the fact that the book and movie involve children killing children.

My own 7th grade daughter had already read the series through her school library, so even if I wanted to stop her, I couldn't have. She did see the movie as well, which she claimed she didn't like as well. But it wasn't until I saw parents posting their concerns on Facebook and elsewhere that I decided to read the book for myself.

I've only read the first book, but I'll be reading the full series soon (Catching Fire and Mockingjay). It's unlikely that I'll be seeing the movie.

Dystopian literature is nothing new. 1984 is the most famous and most prophetic novel of a tyrannic society that I have personally read, but there are many others, including Lord of the Flies, Atlas Shrugged, Fahrenheit 451 and so on. In fact, if you consider yourself an educated person, you ought to have read those four books at least.

What's different about The Hunger Games is that it's aimed at children and about children. Or, more accurately, teenagers. I think that's a significant distinction, because 16-year-olds who have been living with the responsibilities of adults for years are quite a different thing than innocent 7-year-olds. In fact, Lord of the Flies, which was required reading when I was in high school, involved younger children in a more frightening social environment than does The Hunger Games (THG from here on out). Another dystopian series aimed at children is the Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix, which my 4th grader devoured. So the idea of making children, the most vulnerable in society, the focus of grim situations, is nothing new. What THG and Shadow Children do is to cast children as the heroes and empower them.

To be honest, I found THG to be a fascinating, well-paced, well-written book. I'm eager, as my daughter was, to find out what happens in the next book. The concept of "children" killing "children" would be disturbing to some, but I didn't see anything I wouldn't let any child of mine, middle school age or higher, read. The descriptions were neither graphic nor terribly emotional, allowing the reader to either skim the horror in his or her own mind, or fill in the blanks themselves if desired.

By focusing on the violent aspect, one ignores the larger themes of the book. Which is really a shame, because they're not that hard to pick out. The book addresses the larger themes of oppressive government, sure, but also prejudice and stereotyping, media's role in government and society, "killing" vs. "murder," sacrifice, staying true to oneself, how to live with your actions/consequences for even "heroic" actions, what you are willing to do to survive, trust, and of course the ubiquitous love triangle.

In other words, THG is a truly literary book, and it's not going away any time soon. It's sophisticated in a way that the Twilight series could never hope to be.

If it's the violence you abhor, then put away your Uncle Tom's CabinHuckleberry Finn, Harry Potter, and The Outsiders, because those books contain scenes of sometimes very disturbing violence. To reject a book based on violence alone takes a lot of very important pieces of literature out of your repertoire.

If the question is how old should a person be to read THG, then my personal recommendation is middle school, depending on the child. I have no qualms over letting my 7th grader read it, but I don't think my 4th grader is ready for it yet. But as a parent, it's your job to figure out what your child can handle, and if a book has themes or scenes that concern you, the least you can do is discuss it with your child.

However, I am strongly against the idea of banning books outright. Yes, there are a lot of books I would not let my 7th grader read yet, but I have nothing in my library that I wouldn't let her read eventually. Many of them are more appropriate for high school or even college readers, mostly because of sexual overtones. I especially don't like the idea of Christians (they're the ones who tend to have concerns over popular books) limiting their reading material, whether their concerns are violence (THG), sorcery (Harry Potter), or vampirism (Twilight). First of all, those frameworks are usually just that--a framework of reference. They're what make the books entertaining. The "real" stories are contained within. But the themes are universal. Getting squeamish over the framework can unfortunately blind you to what the book is trying to communicate to you.

A Christian needs to be an intelligent reader, and while there are many books I won't read simply because they truly are gratuitous trash, I balk at the idea of refusing to read a book simply because parts of it are distasteful. A lot of books that are required reading today were on banned lists years ago. Perhaps you think that society is going downhill, fast, but I believe that no one, especially Christians, benefit from an entirely closed mind. If a book offends you, by all means, don't read it. At the very least, examine why it's unacceptable literature. If it causes you to lose your faith, don't read it. If your faith is strong enough to handle controversial themes, here's a secret--those are the most interesting, discussion-worthy books of all.

But to be honest, out of all the trash out there, THG hardly qualifies as faith-shattering literature. If anything, it's got several themes worthy of discussion. And I, for one, can't wait to read the next book in the series, Catching Fire.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Holy Hot Stones!

I've been neglecting my blog horribly, and for that I apologize. Of course, considering the size of my readership, I don't feel too bad about it. ;-) Every now and then I think of something to write about, but the urge passes and whatever words of wisdom I had disappear into the ether, never to be seen again.

I recently had an experience worth sharing, however.

I've never been one of those women who take the feminine arts of beauty regimes, cosmetics, and pampering very seriously, but when my husband bought a gift certificate to the Tallgrass Spa in Evergreen for my birthday last year, I thought it was time. Time to expand my horizons and see what this mysterious world of luxury and pampering is all about.

The actual view down Upper Bear Creek Rd. approaching Tallgrass.
The setting is half the appeal, of course!

Yeah, I was a spa virgin.

Considering my birthday was last August, and I only just now made my first appointment in March, I guess you could say I had other priorities. Finally, I looked over the offerings and made my appointment. I decided on the Hot Stones Massage because that always looked interesting to me, plus it looks relaxing.

Wow. I've never been so glad to join the ranks of the initiated. Melissa is a goddess. I didn't realize quite how much until it was over and she expelled the smallest of sighs ... until then she had spent 80 minutes of physical exertion on my body without so much as letting me hear her breathe. That it itself was impressive.

I confess, not the entire thing was relaxing. I found that my legs were very ticklish. It was no fault of Melissa's, but I just couldn't stop from tensing and a couple of times I was very worried I'd burst out laughing. Also, those pictures you see of stones balancing on the spine -- ha!

This is not a massage.

Never once did she balance stones anywhere on my body. Rather, she took those puppies and pushed them deep into my muscles. This is why I alternately experienced pain (knotted muscle, meet stone) and ticklishness on my legs.

On my back and elsewhere, however, it was heaven. I especially loved the feeling on my neck and shoulders.

Oh, YES!

When I left there, the tension was gone from my neck and shoulders for the first time in probably over a year. I wouldn't say it was life-changing, but I felt like my shoulders were hanging right for the first time in forever.

I don't know how Tallgrass compares to other spas, but considering it's "world-renowned," I'm guessing my first-time experience was about as good as it gets. The bucolic setting is one of a kind, and the staff was dedicated to providing a personalized, comfortable experience.

I'm looking forward to going again--because I totally am! There's still a large portion left on my gift certificate so I'm ready to experience something new. What shall it be this time: a facial? a body wrap? a mani-pedi?

What would you choose?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Perfect Kids Are Boring

Back when my kids were babies and toddlers, I made a lot of assumptions. Maybe you can relate to some of these:

  • I assumed my kids would be a lot like me. Hello, Genetics!
  • I assumed my kids were naturally gifted and talented.
  • I assumed my kids would be driven to do their best.
  • I assumed my kids would share some of my interests and abilities.
  • I assumed a certain level of behavior.
  • I assumed a LOT about my abilities as a parent.

In reality, I turned out to be:

  • Wrong
  • Wrong
  • Wrong
  • Wrong
  • WRONG!!!

(That word looks really weird when you type it a few times.)

DATA: He doesn't make assumptions,
which is why he's not human.

I have to admit, it took me quite a few years to come to terms with all of this. I mean, the first time they don't live up to your expectations, denial is still strong. You know: "All this child needs to succeed is a little more encouragement." A little later, it's more like: "This kid is going to sit there until she tells me what I want to hear!" After a while it's: "What the hell???" And finally: "Whose child is this anyway? She certainly did not come from my loins!"

Anyway, after thirteen years a lot of adjusting of assumptions, I've finally figured something out.

Perfect kids are boring.

I totally get both the desire to express pride in one's offspring, as well as the pressure to produce perfect kids in the face of social expectations/maternal competition.

But here's a dirty little secret. Kids who are bold, sassy and even rebellious are far more interesting individuals than kids who are compliant, straight-laced, and high achieving.

As someone who is the latter and gave birth to the former, I don't say that lightly.

I mean, there's a reason I blog about my 13-year-old far more often than I do my other two children, and it's not just because she's an adolescent. The fact is, she was a kicker in the womb and she hasn't stopped since. I'll be the first to say she drives me nuts more often than not, but at the same time, I don't have to dig deep to find something interesting or funny to say about her. She's always good for a good time, if you know what I mean.

Stories about kids' achievements just do not elicit the same kind of response as stories about what I refer to as "adventures." A parent's brag on a good child is met with polite responses from a few people who actually care, and a lot of silence from everyone else who doesn't give a crap. A story of achievement always draws out comparisons in the reader's mind.

There are a few people I know who, every time the subject of their child comes up, I repress an eye roll and a sigh, listen politely, and then move the conversation on as quickly and tactfully as possible to something more interesting. When it's on Facebook, I scroll right on by. No offense, but when your child is involved in about 13 different activities a year and wins at everything, it gets real boring real fast. Makes me appreciate my little dynamo a little more every time.

The one on my car reads,
"My kid rides better than your honor student."

Stories about "adventures" brings out commisseration. And there is nothing better. People love hearing about what crazy thing the kid is up to now, and either laughing about it or offering up a story in like spirit. I love talking to my friends who also have difficult daughters. It makes me feel more human, and it gives us a lot to talk about. It helps to have a sense of humor about things, but even when things are going bad, you know that other parent can relate.

Besides, academic and/or talent proficiency in school isn't a reliable indicator of future success anyway. Force of personality has a lot more to do with it, and as you might have noticed, the most interesting people aren't always the ones on the honor roll.

So, if you're like me and have a story-generating child, embrace the bold, the sass, the weird, the rebellion, and remember, someday they will move out and you'll have to find your comedy elsewhere. If your kids are the boring, compliant type ... I'm sorry.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Adventures in Adolescence: Grades, Goals, and Gullibility

My thirteen-year-old daughter is not what one would call "studious" or "academic" or any of those other words she deems to be completely nerdy. She is smart, but she would prefer that no one knows that. This trait has clashed often over the years with my parental tendency toward high expectations. So when it appeared she was finally making an effort, I did what any parent would do. I became completely gullible.

Having wracked my brain for ways to inspire my smart but (let's be honest) lazy teenager to work for better grades, I did something I swore I'd never do (which pretty much describes my entire parenting experience): I offered her money for A's.

Even that was met with lukewarm effort, until recently. Suddenly, she just had to have a hoodie from what is apparently couture du jour for middle school girls, Victoria's Secret (already there are so many things wrong about this). "Under no circumstances," I flatly told her, "will I ever spend $50 on a hoodie of any kind. If you want one, you have to pay for it yourself."

How she sees it.

How I see it.

So I was actually a little pleasantly surprised when A said she was going to stay after school for tutoring to help bring up her math grade. This was a first, and I was only too happy to see a new level of dedication from her, even if it was about the hoodie and not about grades. She stayed after school a couple of times, and her new display of discipline engendered happy visions of college and career and an eventual empty nest.


Well, well, well, well, well.

The following week, I received this delightful voice mail from her Social Studies teacher:

"I just wanted to let you know," she said (she has one of those wonderfully dry voices), "your daughter has served detention twice in the last week. The detention forms have a very suspicious parent's signature. I gave her the opportunity to tell me the truth, but she only admitted it when I threatened her with a dean referral. Because she did finally admit that she forged the signatures, she has been given only a detention, so you should expect to see the form from her tonight." And so on and so on. It was quite lengthy, detailed, and informative.

Sigh. The voluntary tutoring was so out of character for her, I should have known. Hope springs eternal. Apparently.

To A's credit, her conscience just about killed her, and the girl who never cries was crying that night. Of course, I had to ascertain whether she was sorry for forging my signature or for getting caught, but since she looked pretty sorry in general, I believe that she really was sorry for doing it.

As for the grades, well, unless things dramatically improve in the next few weeks, she's going to fall short of her Victoria's Secret hoodie goal. But that's in her hands.

The moral of the story: Kids always stay true to character. Always, always, always. Meet any changes with deep suspicion. ;-)

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Caucus Experience

Hubby and I just came back from our first ever caucus experience, and it turned out to be a lot more interesting than I expected.

We met at a large local high school, where I'd say some 20+ precincts convened. Based on the number of votes, I estimate a total of 550 people attended at that location. Each precinct was in its own classroom. In my precinct, there were 30 of us. It doesn't sound like a lot, but the room was full. But still ... 30 is not a lot. The precinct consists of I'd say about 500 homes. If roughly 1/3 of them are registered Republicans, then less than 20% of eligible voters showed up. And actually, if you assume there are two voters per household, then it's more like 10%.

Anyway, the first thing we did after the Pledge of Allegiance was to cast our votes. In our precinct, it went 16 for Romney, 8 for Gingrich, 4 for Santorum, and 2 for Paul. (I think. I'm only off by one or two in any case.) They announced the whole building totals as 280+ for Romney, 160 for Santorum, 80 for Gingrich, and 28 for Paul. I'm going from memory, so numbers are not exact.

Let me just say, this method of voting is wide open for voter fraud. In our classroom, we made sure to match up the number of votes to the number of people, but it is easy to see how a less vigilant precinct could cast more than one vote per person. We were handed slips of paper for voting and pretty much responsible for passing them around ourselves. Anyone could have taken multiple ballots without being caught.

After the vote, we were not done. I figured out the reason for caucuses vs. primaries, and it is to give people an opportunity to volunteer for other things. Things like precinct leaders, delegates and alternates. A delegate is someone who will attend county, judicial and congressional conventions here in Colorado and vote on which Republicans will be put on the ballots. An alternate is just that--someone who votes if a delegate doesn't show up.

We were supposed to come up with 4 delegates and 4 alternates. It took a while, but we finally got them. (Say hello to your new alternate. Hi!) Five guys put their names up for delegate, forcing a vote, so they all got to say a little bit about themselves. That was the most interesting part. They ranged from just a regular guy who had done this before, to an attorney who is wanting to get involved in politics, to military vets who just want to serve, to a college senior who wants to put this on her application for law school. And little old me, a housewife. :)

A few people tried to figure out what the caucus is all about and why we are doing it this way and what happens next and how the delgate path works, and pretty much, no one had the answers. No one really knows what the heck is going on, only that we knew where to show up to vote. So, um, Colorado Republicans? You might want to work on your messaging.

Anyway, it was an enlightening experience and even a little fun, once people started opening up a little. Hubby has a gift for making people open up, which involves egging them on until they turn purple faced and burst out. But once that was out of the way, people started talking at least.

If you haven't done it, you really should. Civic duty and all that. And not so bad.