Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day 88

Wolfie does a happy dance for a treat.

Yes, that really is Wolfie. He got a hair cut last weekend. I didn't recognize him when I got home from the tournament but he came to me when I called his name so he must be Wolfie. I wish I had done a before and after.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 87

Someone's caught a little March Madness.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Day 86

03/29/10, originally uploaded by Twintales.

The boys are at the daycare for the week. There are wildflowers planted everywhere.

The activities planned for the week are:
The Observatory
Roller Skating
Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Not to mention hours playing at the park every morning.

I think they're going to have a good week.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day 85

Dean and me on our date at the Fly Me to the Moon concert.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Day 84

What a day! There's so much to download and I don't think I'm capable of it at the moment. My throat is raw, I just finally got to eat dinner (uh, it's 10:40pm) and my body is aching. But, I'm also a little wired and excited and not really ready to go to bed. So, what the hell. Here's the highlight reel:

I took silver in my form. Master Dylan said I was robbed and I was a little disappointed but, it's ok. My form was awesome, full of snap and power, and a silver medal is very respectable.

I spent the next 8 hours wandering through the conference center, doing some sparring drills with other students, stretching and generally trying to stay patient and be ready for when my age group was finally called. By the way, when they called my age group this is what they said over the loudspeaker: Senior division ages 32 and up please go to the staging area. Yes, I'm in the senior division. Awesome.

While watching some of the black belts spar, one of the masters at another TKD studio turned and said to me, "Hey, I know you! You're Kelsi. Your form was great!" and then he shook my hand. He came to our studio once to watch our belt test and he remembered me. That made me feel really good.

In the staging area, I'm paired with a group of 18 year olds. I think there was one 22 year old. Still, most of them are still in high school. One of them looked at me and asked how old I am. I just looked at her and bluntly said, "40". They were all pleasingly shocked and surprised and one girl even came over to me to look at my event badge. And then I went on to win gold. Senior division my ass.

When entering the final staging area, the woman who took my paperwork looked up at me and said, "Hey! How are you doing! It's so good to see you. And wow, look at you! You're a red belt now! That's great!" and she shook my hand. Now this may just seem like an overly friendly event volunteer but I remembered her from last year, too. She was a red belt then and I was an orange stripe belt at my first tournament. I didn't really have any interaction with her other than being in the staging area at the same time. She's rather striking looking so I remembered her but I certainly wouldn't have expected her to remember me. But I guess I do sort of stand out in the sea of other tae kwon do students. There's just not that many blond haired, blue eyed women in the sport!! Especially in the senior division!

Finally, the sparring. It was freaking awesome. I got in as many head kicks as I could and stayed relaxed. I knocked her off balance every time she tried one of her push kicks. Nothing felt particularly hard. I didn't feel like any of the kicks that she landed had any power in them. And I never let up. My throat is raw from sucking air but I can live with that. I took gold!!!

And now it's 11:00pm and it's about time I went to bed. I've been up since 5:00am and didn't get back to my house until 10:00pm. That's a really long day.

Tomorrow I have a date with my Dean while Jack's at his soccer game.

Sweet dreams.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Day 83

It's been a really tough school year but seeing this today made it all worth it. From twos and threes to threes and fours. He did such a great job.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


03/25/10, originally uploaded by Twintales.

Azaleas, I think? In front of the kids' school.

Conflict Resolution

I have adopted a new conflict resolution process in my household. Whenever there is conflict, and let's be honest here it's usually between the small ones, each person must come to the table and tell his side of the story. While one is talking, the other must listen and not interrupt. Then the talker becomes the listener and the listener becomes the talker. Once each person has told his side of the story, the mediator (usually me) asks how can we solve this problem? I then turn to each and ask what do they need from the other in order to resolve this conflict. Generally, they each say they need an apology. When they've told me what they need, I tell them they have their solution and it's up to them to carry it out. Once they've carried it out, I tell them this conflict is now resolved and it's time to move on and forget about it.

During this morning's conflict, Jack interrupted Dean while he was telling his side of the story and I reprimanded Jack and reminded him that he has to listen to Dean's point of view. Jack stomped away from the table and threw himself face down on the couch. I went into the living room and told him that this is no way to resolve a conflict. The only way to resolve a conflict is to sit down with the other person and talk it out. You can't solve problems by running away or burying your face in the pillows. You have to come back to the table so we can keep talking this out and so you can have a say in what the solution will be. He sat up and calmly walked back to the table. Dean finished telling his side of the story and I asked him what he needed. He said he needed an apology from Jack. I asked Jack what he needed and he said he needed an apology from Dean. They each said they were sorry and then looked at me. I congratulated them on talking it out and successfully solving their problem. They smiled and I told them that we move on from here, this is now over. And we went on about our morning, peacefully.

Will this work every time? Probably not. I'm sure there will be times when one or the other won't give in, won't give what the other needs. And I guess we'll have to keep talking when that happens. There will be times when a compromise is in order and it may take extra time to figure out what that compromise will be. Maybe there will be times when we won't be able to resolve the conflict right away and we'll have to pick up the discussion at a later date. Maybe they'll learn how to resolve the small disputes on their own and I'll only have to step in on the big ones. I don't know.

I do know that they will have to face conflict often in their lives and I hope that this is just one small step towards equipping them with the tools that they'll need to be able to manage conflict without resorting to name calling, threats, physical violence and bullying. Because if that's your only reaction to conflict, no one is interested in coaxing you to the table.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day 82

03/24/10, originally uploaded by Twintales.

The hostess tried to seat us in a different booth. I asked if we could have the one at the end instead. She shrugged and moved two booths down to the one at the end. I'm sure she wondered what difference it made.

To me? It made all the difference in the world.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day 81

I gave my camera to Dean and he walked around the house snapping photos. This was one of his favorites and he wanted it to be the picture of the day.

He was trying to take this picture himself but couldn't manage the camera while holding the turtle so I took this one. The turtle's name is Kokomo.

Inexpressible Beauty

I thought I embedded this yesterday but there was a glitch. It's just as good today.

I can't remember now how I found Karen Maezen Miller. But I am so, so glad I did. She reminds me to nurture the best in myself, to find pleasure in the simplest actions, to be grateful for what I have, to be mindful of the life I am leading.

And to top it all, she sends me an email that says simply, "You lift me up."

What if we all felt that way? What if we used our power for good?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Day 80

03/22/10, originally uploaded by Twintales.

The extra hour of daylight allows for late playground play and Dean loves the monkey bars.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day 79

03/21/10, originally uploaded by Twintales.

Look at the intense look of focus on his face.

They won the game 3-2.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Day 78

03/20/10, originally uploaded by Twintales.

Our last day with Meghan. We had a great visit with her.

Friday, March 19, 2010


03/19/10, originally uploaded by Twintales.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day 77

03/18/10, originally uploaded by Twintales.

Meghan and Dean at the park, watching Jack scrimmage during soccer practice. Jack scored 2 goals during scrimmage tonight.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


03/17/10, originally uploaded by Twintales.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 75

03/16/10, originally uploaded by Twintales.

More jasmine. It's covering the fence that sits between my office building and the meadow

Monday, March 15, 2010

Quote from Dean

Dean is holding classes in his room at night. After last night's class, this is what he told Tom.

"We can have classes every night and if you have any questions, just raise your hand. We are going to have classes in science, social studies and black history."

Day 74

03/15/10, originally uploaded by Twintales.

The jasmine is ridiculous right now. It's spilling over everything, everywhere I look. It's incredibly fragrant and I can't tell if I'm suddenly catching a cold or if this tickle in the back of my throat is an allergic reaction.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Day 73

03/14/10, originally uploaded by Twintales.

Dean decided to turn the desk around so that it faces the door instead of the window. Because he wants it to look like an office. He spent almost the entire day in his room, mostly with the door closed, hard at work creating pictures and conducting experiments with his microscope. This is incredible for one reason: Dean is usually terrified to be alone. He hasn't gone to the bathroom by himself or gone to his room by himself since he was 2 years old. He used to become hysterical if left in a room by himself. So the fact that he's now comfortable enough to go there by himself and close the door, it's just amazing. He even put a note on the outside of the door that said "do not go in".

This boy. How I adore this boy.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Day 72

03/13/10, originally uploaded by Twintales.

Dean helped Tom clean up his old desk and move it into his room. Then he spent the next 2 hours filling the drawers and organizing it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Day 71

03/12/10, originally uploaded by Twintales.

Twice a month I drag the boys with me to sparring class. They sit and watch or play their video games while I get my butt kicked by people half my age. If they're good, I take them out for ice cream.

They're always good.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Two Wolves

Two Wolves

An old Cherokee told his grandson that a battle that goes on inside each us.
The battle is between two 'wolves'.
One 'wolf' is Evil. It has anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other 'wolf' is Good. It has joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

~Native American Proverb


My two wolves have been at war with each other lately. I try my best to quiet the evil one and give attention to the good one but with everything going on in my life right now, it isn’t easy. I mentioned it to Master Dylan yesterday and he told me about the Native America proverb written above. It makes so much sense, doesn’t it? If you feed your jealousy, it grows. It’s like fire – if you give it oxygen, it gets bigger and more fierce. My anger, my resentment, my ego have all been clamoring at the buffet table wanting more, more, more. But the other wolf, the one that seeks peace, the one that believes in generosity of spirit, compassion and kindness, it has been quietly tapping me on the shoulder. “Don’t forget about me,” it whispers, “this is who you are”. So I hand it a scrap and think naively that it will be enough.

It’s not enough. But it’s a start.

Day 70

03/11/10, originally uploaded by Twintales.

The peach tree is blooming! Spring must be coming!


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day 69


Winner: Wolfie

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Day 68

Doing homework.
No meltdowns.
No ranting.
Time left over to play with Pokemon cards.
First day in weeks and weeks that homework didn't take more than 30 minutes.
Yay Dean!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Day 67

My new favorite wine. Thanks to Eddie and Fish for bringing it. We easily polished off 2 1/2 bottles Saturday night!

It was so great having us all together again.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Day 66


Day 65

photo by Elizabeth

The Clarke's came out for a long overdue visit and we finally got to meet Rocco! Everyone congregated at our house last night for dinner. It was so great to be together again.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Day 64

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Day 63

This is the original. The same freesia from yesterday but wet from last night's rain.

This is the same picture with a little post editing. I really like this version.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Day 62

The freesia is beginning to bloom!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Test for Red Belt

I've been wanting to write about my belt test since Saturday but just haven't had time to do it. So I'm just going to type it out without thinking about it too much. I just need to get it off my chest!

This was the test for red belt, my last color belt before testing for black. I was the only student testing for this level belt on Saturday. I was also the oldest student testing! I felt really confident and ready for this test. I've been working on this form and self defense techniques since December so I know them really well. Everything went pretty smoothly. My self defense techniques are defenses against knife attacks and I was demonstrating near the parents who were there to watch their kids so that was pretty cool. The kids only go up to 13 self defense techniques but the adults go up to 26 so most of the parents don't get to see the higher level self defense techniques. My first technique involves disarming my attacker and then breaking his neck. Tom and the boys were there and he told me later that it looked really cool. When it was time to do forms, there was one student who was the only blue belt testing so the Master asked if anyone else remembered his form and wanted to do it with him. I'm the only one who knew it so I got up and did it with him. I was so glad that I had run all my forms before going to the studio!
Shortly after that, I did my form alone on the mat. It felt really good and I was really happy with it. Then they had us do our falling motions and they had me do the brown belt and brown stripe falling motion with the brown belts before doing my red belt falling motion. My falling motion was a front flip to a back fall and then a chinese get up (front hand spring) to get up. I nailed it! Then the Grand Master came out on the mat and told me to do my form again on his count. With every move he gave me a note or an adjustment. When he was satisfied that he had given me the cleanups that I needed, he went back to the judges table. I have never seen him pause testing to work with a student. I could have let it throw me. I could have taken it personally - that I had done something wrong, that I wasn't perfect, that I have so much more to learn. But I took it as a great privilege and honor.

Then it was time for sparring. The only other adult there for me to spar with was this guy named Jose who is about 6'2" and made of rubber. He loves, loves, loves to spar and is especially adept at kicking people in the head. I knew going in that I was going to have to keep my hands up to protect my head and I was going to have to move in on him so he wouldn't be able to kick me effectively. I also knew that he'd be vulnerable every time he was on one foot and I could move in with some power and catch him off balance. He had about an 18" reach on me so when I moved in on him, he punched me. Still, he never caught me in the head and most of his kicks were blocked or missed. The only thing he really caught me with was punches and they rarely count in sparring unless they knock you off balance. I just kept moving in and making him move, keeping him on his toes, catching him on his heels. When it was over, I was disappointed because I knew I hadn't landed much but after thinking about it a bit, I realized how much I had done without really thinking about it. I have internalized a lot strategy and I employed it without thinking. So, that's cool!

Ok, that's all for now. I have to go to bed. It was an awesome day. It was my best testing day ever.

Black belt in June.

Day 61

Around the corner from my office there is a group of egg shaped chairs that people often nap or read in during their lunch hour. The chairs are super comfortable and the design really cuts out all the noise of the hallway and surrounding offices so it's easy to nestle in and relax. Today I found someone knitting and I loved the way her hands moved rhythmically with the sound of the needles clicking together. It was beautiful.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Day 60