Tuesday, February 24, 2009

TKD stuff

Ummm . . . I'm testing for orange stripe belt this weekend and I just signed myself up for my first tournament which is 2 weeks from Saturday. I'll be competing in forms and sparring.

I must be crazy.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Surgery Update

Just a quick note to mention that Dean's surgery was postponed. He's fine and we've known for a week but I haven't had time to put up an update. We're dealing with insurance red tape right now and hope to have a resolution soon. I've lost all energy to even explain the problem and the run around that I've gotten. Suffice to say - there needs to be real reform in the area of healthcare and health insurance.

I'll update with the new surgery date as soon as I get it.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Belt Testing

I never did write about my belt test last week so I'll do a quick break down of it now. The boys are outside working on science experiments I think? It's better if I just stay inside and let 'em do what they want. So, about the testing . . .

There were probably 20 of us testing for various belt colors. I was a little nervous, mostly just because I didn't know how the testing would go and didn't know any of the others except for Peter. We lined up according to size and belt color, faced the flags and bowed, faced the masters and bowed and then began the testing - white belt first, then yellow, and so on. I tested with one other person - an 8 or 9 year old boy. We did our 8 hand techniques and then our 2 self defense techniques. Then we knelt down and each had to answer a question. Mine was easy - what is sabumnim (master, mentor, father figure). Then we did our forms and I tried to be really crisp and precise. Then it was on to our falling motion - a back fall from a crouching position. The proper technique for coming out of this fall at the yellow belt level is to tuck the right leg under and roll up to a kneeling position. I can do the chinese get-up which is when your on your back, you roll your legs back behind your head, put your hands on the floor on either side of your head and using the momentum of your legs, you swing yourself up to a standing position. So, instead of rolling up to my knee I did the chinese getup. I didn't quite make it around though and ended up falling back to my back and the instructors yelled "do it again!" and I tried it again but again fell back and they yelled "almost! do it again!" and I tried but still didn't make it so I rolled up to the kneeling position. Master Robie told everyone that it wasn't the way to come out of that falling motion but that if you know how to do something you should try and everyone give her a hand for trying the chinese getup. It was really cool. I had pretty much decided not to attempt it during the test but then at the last second just decided to go for it. Then they went on to the other belt colors and then it was time to break some boards. First they had us line up according to size to do some kicking. After that they lined us up to do our breaking. Yellow and white belts were last because ours were running kicks so we lined up lengthwise in the studio. Peter broke 3 boards at once. My breaking technique for this test was a running, jumping snap kick. The snap kick is the one that the karate kid did in the movie. So you sort of run down the mat, adjusting steps for distance as you go, then up goes the right knee and the left leg snaps up and breaks the board. The person holding my board was about my height and was holding the board at about shoulder level. My master told her to raise it up and she did until he told her to stop when it was over her head. It was at about 5'8 or 5'9. I gave a good loud "HA" and then started down the mat. I brought my knee up and then snapped that left leg up with my toes pulled back so when my foot hit the board it was hitting with the hard part of my foot. I heard the board snap and splinter and saw shards of wood falling all around me. There was a gasp in the studio and then I landed on the mat. I looked at Rosa who had been holding the board and she was sort of ducking her head to avoid splinters. Someone at the judges table remarked "that's how you break a board". I looked at the mat and the board was in three pieces. She picked them up and presented them to me, I bowed and thanked her then approached the judges, presented the pieces, bowed and thanked them. I went over to where Peter was standing and he pointed at the ceiling where a piece of my board had flown up and put a hole in the ceiling tile. There might have been some adrenaline pumping through my veins, right?

After that it was time to spar. There wasn't another girl my size who I could spar with so they paired me up with a guy who was just a couple of inches taller than me who was testing for blue belt. They kept telling him to control his power. Must have said that 3 or 4 times. He was really good and really controlled his power. He landed some good kicks though! Still, I held my own and felt pretty good about it. Especially since I never felt panicked like I had the first time I sparred with Peter. I did get really winded though and now I know I really need to work on my stamina. I haven't been running since I started TKD and I need to incorporate that into my week. Yeah, one more thing to add to my already overflowing plate.

After the sparring, we lined up and knelt down in front of the judges. The kids got stars for excellence at home, in the studio, and at school and then they handed out the trophies. They called my name and said you all know why Kelsi deserves this trophy right? You all saw how she tested today. Let's give her a hand. It was so unexpected that there would be trophies and I need a trophy like I need a hole in my head but it felt so good to get it! I worked so hard and was so prepared, mentally and physically, for that test so it was really nice to be recognized for it. I want to be that prepared for every belt test that I have.

On Monday I was told that I officially promoted to orange belt and then he taught me my new form, new 8 hand techniques, new self defenses, new one step sparrings and new falling motion. Suddenly, I don't know anything again - it's all new and it all feels weird and uncomfortable. Which is exactly the way it's supposed to be.


We have a brief respite from the rain, though it looks like it could roll in again sometime today and it's still cool outside. Jack dressed in all white today, partly out of necessity (the only pants clean) but also because he secretly loves dressing in all white. He looks like an angel. But he wants to look for worms in the mud outside, mud which is comprised partly of manure (trying to grow the grass) and partly of dog poo, and I put my foot down about it. OH, that makes him mad. He hates being told no - can't imagine where he gets that from. He says I never let him have any fun. So I asked him what he wants to do today that is fun. Go to the park he says. I look warily at the sky and say I think it might rain again. Ok, he says, go for a hike? Up a big hill? I smile and say ok but it will have to be in the afternoon when it gets a little warmer and I still have all the laundry to do and we have to go to the farmer's market this morning. Ok, he says and smiles. And then, he asks, can I play the video game on the TV? Yes, I say, let's go inside. We go inside and tell Dean that Jack is going to play the video game on the TV and Dean protests, but I'm watching the news! And it's true, he was watching Meet the Press. I managed to convince him to let Jack play the game and now he's sitting next to me at the kitchen table coloring in his spongebob book. He has drawn the sweetest little jelly fish to enhance the pictures.

Dean lost his second tooth yesterday while we were at the Sullivans. He and Ryan were wrestling or something and Ryan knocked him in the mouth by accident. Dean's tooth was lost in the melee and is still swimming around somewhere in the carpeting. We looked and looked but couldn't find it. Luckily, it was a tooth that was close to falling out anyway so it didn't hurt him. He was more horrified by the blood and I made the mistake of scooping him up and putting him on the bathroom counter where he promptly turned to look at himself in the mirror. Amazingly, none of the blood spilled onto the light colored carpet. We left a note for the tooth fairy to explain why we didn't have the tooth and she left him a 2 dollar bill and a note which says she understands - accidents happen. Dean was so thrilled that she also said how proud she was of the way he takes care of his teeth!

Jack just came over to tell me I need to make some granola for our hike so I must sign off now.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


I am so sleepy but there's something that I've been wanting to write about.

This has been a tough year in many ways. The transition from daycare to public school was tough for the boys and for me. I am inundated with information coming from emails, handouts and canned phone messages on a daily basis either giving information about school or asking for money or asking for volunteers. It is constant. I have a strong desire to please and I often get myself in over my head. I became the holder of all the information and the stress was making me crazy. I had to back out of my commitment to the twin club because I was barely keeping my head above water as it was. I have also been extremely busy at work, even busier now that Bolt has released in theaters, and getting busier all the time. Obviously there's still the daily household stuff to manage like packing lunches, making dinner, keeping the house cleaned up and making sure the boys' homework is done. Weekends are spent doing the laundry, grocery shopping and cleaning the house - very little "fun" time manages to squeeze in. To add Tae Kwon Do to my schedule, I get up at 5:00am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, shower and get ready for work, pack my work clothes, wear my TKD uniform, pack the boys' lunches, get their breakfast ready and make sure they're awake and getting dressed before I leave at 6:25. Then I work through lunch to make up for being almost an hour late on those days.

With all that in my life, I was surprised to discover another benefit to doing Tae Kwon Do besides the obvious physical benefit. Each class begins and ends with meditation. I know how beneficial it is to my mind and spirit when I take that time to meditate - I just don't usually do it on my own. The most surprising thing though is my use of "sir" and "ma'am" outside of the studio. In the studio, we address our master as 'sir' and any other higher belt is addressed with the same level of respect. We lower belts are treated with the same level of respect, as well. It seeped into my everyday life too and it has been an amazing experiment and experience. Just the other day as I walked into the grocery store, there was a man standing at the entrance trying to get donations for some charity. As I walked past him I looked him in the eye and said cheerily, "Good morning Sir!" He looked at me so strangely and asked me what I said to him. I repeated my greeting and he laughed and said, "Good morning ma'am! I don't get very many people greeting me like that. I'm not used to it."

Isn't that sad? He's a human being and he's just trying to do his part, whether it's a cause I want to support or not. He was still there when I left the store and I said "have a good day sir!" and he wished me the same. And for the first time ever, I didn't feel guilty for not donating. Usually I was avert my eyes and mumble "sorry". And that day I decided that I would greet everyone with the same level of respect that I show my master in the studio. Whether they're the checker at the grocery store, a passerby in the commissary, or the kid behind the counter at starbucks. The result has been remarkable. The service improves and I generally get eye contact and a smile. I thought that saying sir or ma'am would make me feel like I'm giving up my power. But the opposite happens. It makes me feel better, stronger and it makes the other person feel important. It takes absolutely nothing away from me. It's amazing.

So, that's my little lesson for the day. Look people in the eye, show respect, smile - you will be a better person for it.


The boys have been begging me for months to take them roller skating. Almost every week they ask when, when, when are we going to skateland???
Today. Today. Today. I said.

Despite my sneezing fits and watery eyes we went to Skateland for the morning open skate. After a rocky start (Dean forgot about the falling part of skating and Jack just wanted to play video games), we skated for a little over an hour. Dean went from clutching the wall to clutching my hand to skating on his own. Jack went from complaining about not getting to play video games to circling the rink independently. Towards the end, the three of us went around and around hand in hand enjoying the music and stopping every now and then to pick ourselves up off the floor. It was really fun. Then we went to cold stone for ice cream. Now they're hanging out on the couch watching spongebob while I relax for a minute. We're going over to the Sullivans in a bit so they can play with the boys. Paul and I are both flying solo this week so we may as well pool our resources and wear the kids out at the same time. Tomorrow is reserved for chores - the laundry and marketing is waiting.
We've all come down with the plague around here. First Jack on Monday with a low grade fever and sore throat. Then Dean and Tom on Tuesday with raging fevers and coughs. Now me - no fever though, just a cough and a leaking nose.

So, it's been a week.

In other news, we took Jack in to see the ENT about the fluid in his ears and the good news is he doesn't need tubes. We took Dean in the same day to follow up on the results of his sleep study and the bad news there is he needs to have surgery to remove his tonsils and adenoids. The surgery is scheduled for 2/20 and then he'll have to be out of school for 2 weeks. I talked to my boss about it and I'm going to work from home for those 2 weeks. I hate the idea of surgery for him but I hate the idea of him not getting the rest he needs worse.

We have no plans this weekend. It has been pouring down rain since Thursday night and we're supposed to get thunderstorms today. The perfect weekend to lay low and watch movies.