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Eclectic Thoughts from a Homeschool Mom » 2008 » September

The New & Improved Way to decide on a Presidential Candidate

September 27th, 2008

Is anyone else completely zapped of all brain cells due to the Presidential campaign? Can someone explain to me why the United States Presidency campaigns go on for SO LONG? Why can’t we be like the United Kingdom and limit the campaign time to SIX WEEKS? I believe that six weeks is long enough to get our fill of commercials that slam the opposition (“Oh Yeah?! Well…this is the dirt we found out about you!”) and debates.

Honestly, I love having a Tivo so I can “Boop! Boop! Boop!” right past all the campaign garbage. How can Americans decide on a candidate when all they do is tour the country slamming one another? How are we supposed to decide on who will be the next leader for this great nation?

Politics suck

Well, as I laid in bed at 4am this morning (don’t you just love insomnia?), I thought of something different. Sure, debates are about as entertaining as a molar extraction, but shouldn’t we find out more about the candidates then what is hurled out over a podium? I came up with some great ways for the American people to witness how future presidential candidates work under pressure. After all, being the most powerful man/woman in the free world can raise the blood pressure from time to time.

Are the presidential candidates ready? Instead of puffing yourselves up by kicking the opposition to the curb via infomercials, try this

  • Give every presidential candidate a sharp knife and a water-proof Pelican case full of video cameras. Drop each off at their own deserted, tropical location for a week.
  • Make them write each and every speech, interview answers, printed media responses BY THEMSELVES.
  • Leave each candidate in a typical middle-class kitchen at 6pm. They need to cook a hearty, nutritious meal for a family of four within thirty minutes.
  • Write an in-depth thesis on which pop culture icon you emmulate: Sylvester Stallone in Rambo or Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando.
  • In front of a studio audience, Dr. Phil, and their third grade teachers, tell America what kind of a child you were. Were you the paste or crayon eater? Did you eat all of your vegetables? Did you pull on girl’s pig-tails?
  • Be a contestant on Jeopardy
  • Sit them all down to a game of Trivial Pursuit Genus Edition
  • Make them all work the entire week before Christmas in the gift wrap department of a major department store and the entire week after at the Returns counter.
  • From the moment they decide to become a candidate, they have to live on a combined household income of $40,000/yr. , juggle a manual labor job for 40 hours a week, take care of an elderly relative, take care of two small children, help out with homework and science projects for the kids, and still find time to spend time with their spouse.
  • Stand up in front of a packed house at Carnegie Hall and stun them with your “secret talent”.
  • Recite your favorite haiku from memory.
  • Be the sole planner and entertainer for a 6 yr. old’s birthday party for him and 20 of his closest friends. Break out that Bozo nose and those crazy shoes! You can juggle, right?
  • A box of basic Lego pieces + 2 hours inspiration = ‘Nuf Said.
  • Finish this sentence: “If I were an animal, I would be a…..”
  • …or my husband’s favorite: If they think that spending $2,000,000 to get a job that pays $400,000 a year for a maximum of eight years makes sound financial sense, they shouldn’t be President. Actually, if they want to BE President, that disqualifies them.

Isn’t that much better then debates? I know that I would learn far more about candidates from these trials. Enough of the pre-pre-pre-presidency stuff already. We aren’t getting any younger. Trivial Pursuit anyone?

An ideal homeschooling moment

September 26th, 2008

We got up and had a warm, filling breakfast. After seeing off my husband to work, we did a bit of cleaning around the house (i.e. dishes, straightening, feeding the dog, etc.). The windows of the house were open to let in the cool, fall air.

We grabbed a few textbooks and sat out on the back porch. I brought out the compact disk player and let the soothing sounds of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue fill our ears. The birds were singing. Our dog was laying on the lawn soaking up the early morning sunshine.children playing

Our son switched off between reading from his science book and taking photos for his photography assignment. I switched off between raking leaves and listening to my son reading from his science book.

Later this morning, we will be meeting another homeschooling family for a field trip. We are going to the annual quilt show. Our friends have worked very hard on their quilts and we want to not only support them, but see the other talented entries. Just another form of art to appreciate.

Later today, we will come back home to work on guitar, drawing, spelling, and spanish. My husband should be home early today (which is a treat). If we get everything done on time, we plan on going out to the lake for dinner and some family time. If we don’t get everything done on time, it goes with us to the lake.

What a joy it is to be able homeschool. We can take “school” with us wherever we go. Homeschool is about living life and enjoying the little things. After all, learning is more than what is offered in a textbook.

My miles are increasing. 11 Miles today.

September 21st, 2008

Welp, I got up at 6:45 and ran my 11 miler. Thankfully, the weather was nice (not too hot or sticky). My hip was giving me a little bit of trouble around mile 8 or so. Hills do that to me.

It was a joy to see the sun come up though. A big tangerine ball rising in a sky of lavender. Just breathtaking. I ran most of my 11 miles at a slower pace than normal. As my iPod said that I was at a slower pace, I started to get down towards the end of my run. Then, I thought: Fat Jogger“Shan, how many people would think you are crazy to run 11 miles at one time? Would most folks even want to do that? How many people CAN run 11 miles at one time?” Hmmm…I guess I am crazy for doing it, but I enjoy it. I enjoy being in my own little world when running. Just zoning out and thinking or listening to my iPod Nano. That is my zen moment. My Shan time.

So, I got in all but one 3 miler this week. It was a crazy week so I guess that wasn’t so bad. I got in 24 miles. Next week is a 26 mile week. Actually, the program has this next Sunday only at an 8 miler. That is the smallest amount from here on out for Sunday runs. The Sunday after that is a 13 miler. Holy Cow!! What an increase in miles!!! Here is my training schedule if you are interested. It is the Hal Higdon Intermediate II plan. Tomorrow starts Week 3.

I think I can. I think I can…..

Things to do & not do before a long run

September 20th, 2008

I went for a 5 mile run today after having a big lunch with my mother-in-law. I had almost all of my daily calories at lunch, but it was SO GOOD. I had:

*Buffalo Blue Cheese Hamburger
*Spring Mix Tossed Salad w/Blue Cheese Dressing
*Big piece of chocolate cake
*French Roast coffee & creamer

Here are some things I learned NOT TO DO before a longer run:

*DO NOT eat rich foods, spicy foods, or coffee a few hours before you run
*DO NOT drink prune juice the day before a long run (*sigh* My favorite is Plum Smart which is lower in calories, but still high fiber)
*DO NOT only take a single bottle of water when the heat index is 90 degrees

Some positive things that I have learned to do are:

*DO wear a supportive, comfortable, and wicking style braCamelbak Hydrobak
*DO invest in good running socks. I personally wear Thurlos in a thick running style. I love, love, love mine. Everyone has their own personal style. Just make sure they are the wicking style and have plenty of cushion. Invest in several pair.
*DO wear shoes that compliment/support your running style (I roll my feet to the outside so I need VERY supportive soles)
*DO wear sunscreen
*DO take plenty of water for your run. If you are consistantly running more than 6 miles, consider buying a Camelbak that is designed for runners. I use a Camelbak Hydrobak and I LOVE it.
*DO soak a bandanna in cool water and wrap it around your neck when the temperature is 80 degrees and over
*DO wear a “breathable” hat to cover your head and shade your face. This sort of hat releases excess heat from your head as well.
*DO wear Chapstick on your lips and Runner’s Glide gel on spots of your body that are likely to rub (I put it under my bra chest band and along my waistband).
*DO wear wicking clothing. A basic t-shirt will keep in the heat. I try to go to sporting good stores after the season (winter/summer) is over for clearance deals.
*DO have something lite before a run. I usually have a banana or a small cup of orange juice.

*DO experiment with energy running foods (i.e. Hammer Gel, Goo, Shox Blox, Jelly Beans, etc.) if you are running really far. I know, I know. Serious athletes don’t use them. However, most of us don’t win the races we run. We are in it for personal reasons, to lose weight, and to have fun. If you find that you are losing energy after running 8 or so miles, consider electrolyte replacement foods/drinks.

*DO consider drinking Powerade or Gatorade (or other electrolyte replacement drinks). Do you find that after a long run, your brow is “gritty”? That shows you that you are losing salts in your body. You will need to replace those. Perhaps consider carrying one bottle of plain water and one with an electrolyte beverage.
*DO make sure to have a healthy snack within 30 minutes of your run. This will help you not to “crash” after your run.
*DO take a soothing shower after your run. Don’t make it too hot.
*DO pamper yourself after a long run. If you feel tired, take a short nap.
*DO continue to rehydrate yourself throughout the day after your long run.
*DO pay attention to blisters. So far this training season, I have bruised (and more than likely lost) 3 toenails. Don’t freak out if this happens. Long distance runners have a habit of losing toenails. I sterilize a needle and careful drain my blisters. I then pour Hydrogen Peroxide on them. A few years back, I didn’t pay attention to a blister and it became infected. I had to have some gruesome work done to my foot and was unable to run a half marathon because of it. Watch and care for blisters early!!

I have an 11 miler planned for Sunday morning. Here is to a good run and no blisters!

Remembering 9/11 & how I feel now

September 11th, 2008

Today is the seventh anniversary of the attacks on the Twin Towers, Pentagon, and Flight 93. My day started out getting ready while watching Fox News. They were replaying the events from seven years ago. It made me think back to that morning.Twin Tower Attacks

I can’t exactly remember if it was my husband that called me or if I called him. I remember that my son was 5 years old and that we were doing school. I remember turning on the television and seeing the first tower spewing smoke from the upper floors. I remember the news caster speculating on whether the crash was an accident or a terrorist attack.

I then remember the second tower being hit. The first thing that came to my mind was: “This is surreal. This has to be right out a Die Hard movie.” I half expected John McClain to save the day and blame the chaos on Han Gruber and his evil cohorts. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. It wasn’t Hollywood pyrotechnics on my television screen. Evil villians didn’t just live on the big screen. They lived in this world too.

I must’ve been in shock when I was watching the events unfold seven years ago. Watching the Fox News tape this morning, I never saw people jumping from the upper floors of the World Trade Towers. Oh my Lord! To be an employee at the top of that disaster and be faced with the choice of either burning to death or jumping…. I can’t fathom the grief. I can’t imagine coming face-to-face with death like that. I felt tears burn my eyes as I saw people jumping from the building on the taped footage. My eyes burn now just thinking about it. If I were faced with burning to death or jumping to it, what would I choose? No one should ever have to make that choice.

After seeing several people jump, the towers started to crumble. How could two monolithic structures fall down like a house of cards? How was that even possible? Why was it all happening?

I remember being extremely upset and talking to my husband on the phone. He was leaving work and going straight to the bank to take out some money. We were both unsure what this would do to the financial market. Would people panic? Would this effect gasoline and food purchases? We both knew that we would need cash. We were both thankful that our cars both had plenty of gasoline, and that our pantry was stocked.

When my husband made it home, we were both glued to the television. Our young son didn’t understand that our world was changing right before our eyes. I remember wondering how this would effect his future.

Flight 93We then started to get reports about the Pentagon being hit. Then, we heard about Flight 93. All of those poor people lost. Stories of bravery and tragedy were on every channel. We were told not to panic. We were told that all bridges, government offices, schools, etc. would be closed until further notice. Later, I remember everywhere I looked, there were flags and “United We Stand” stickers. Americans, in every color/sex/religion/age, were proud of our country and wanted to stand up and fight. We were a gentle giant that had had enough torment.

Looking back at 9/11, I don’t believe that the same events could happen again. I think that Americans learned that we aren’t invincible. I think many Americans would gladly give their lives (as did Flight 93) in order to protect our nation and beliefs. We would pick up arms to protect our families and even strangers. I know I would. It doesn’t matter if we don’t believe in the same God. It doesn’t matter if we don’t believe in the same rules. It doesn’t matter if we don’t agree on most things. I am an American and will help defend your and my rights. We are so fortunate to live in a country that allows us to speak our mind, believe what we wish, and defend ourselves against injustice.Statue of Liberty

Our world has changed. Just after 9/11, my Mom passed away. I remember going to the airport and getting just shy of a full-body cavity search to see if I was hiding anything. How strange it was to be asked to take off my shoes, to stand spread-eagle, and have a metal detector pass over me. Was this the price of protection?

My husband flies quite a bit for his job now. He is no longer allowed to take a soda into the airport or on a plane. His toiletries must be in an approved plastic bag and all contents must be under 3 ounces each. My mother-in-law recently had small, sewing scissors confiscated before boarding a plane. We all have to remove our shoes before going through metal detectors. We all have to get to the airport hours before our flights take off in order to go through security. Breast-feeding mothers are asked to drink their bottled breast milk. Do these precautions REALLY protect us from the bad guys?

I read many articles like this one stating that TSA agents let bomb components through on a regular basis. That agents are quick to confiscate grooming scissors, knitting needles, and bottles of soda, but they miss the potentially dangerous stuff. What are all these “precautions” for?

I think that the terrorists hurt us beyond taking down the towers, injuring the Pentagon, and downing Flight 93. They managed to make us scared of the unknown. We live in fear now and don’t mind giving up freedoms for the sake of “security”. Maybe that is what the terrorists wanted all along? We all know that fear is a crippling weapon. It breaks down the spirit.

Honestly, I wish we could just show the world what we are made of. Rebuild the Twin Towers JUST LIKE THEY WERE. Show the world that we are strong. We are united. We won’t cower and run. We can honor all those that were lost on 9/11 by becoming a nation that is unified. Let’s make sure that all those lost did not die in vain. Let’s rebuild NOW and learn from this tragic event. A life lived in fear isn’t worth living.

Obituary for the Pillsbury Doughboy

September 10th, 2008

Please join me in remembering a great icon of the entertainment community.
The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and trauma
complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 71.Doughboy

Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and Captain Crunch. The grave site was piled high with flours.

Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded. Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times, he still was a crusty old
man and was considered a positive roll model for millions.

Doughboy is survived by his wife Play Dough, three children: John Dough,
Jane Dough and Dosey Dough, plus they had one in the oven. He is also
survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart.

The funeral was held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes.

(Thanks to J. for sending this to me)

When Heroes become Mortals

September 9th, 2008

Pete Rose. Michael Vick. Tonya Harding. O.J. Simpson. Richard Nixon. Bill Clinton. River Phoenix. Jim Bakker. What happens when someone you admire falls off of the “highly regarded pedestal”? We go about our lives looking up to individuals that seem to have it all together. They might be: a pastor, a politician, a musician, an artist, an athlete, a movie star, a friend, or a family member. We admire their strength. We admire their dedication. We admire their unwavering convictions.

Then, the unthinkable happens. They fall off of that pedestal that we have set them on. We are ashamed. We are hurt. We are angry as hell. They have become a mere mortal. They may have: lied, cheated, stolen, completely abandoned their ethics, committed adultery, or even committed murder. What went wrong? Didn’t they realize that we looked up to them? Didn’t they realize that we aspired to be like them?

On a pedestalI wonder if the pressure is too much as a hero. It must be difficult to be looked up to. They are put into a class of their own. In order to be a hero, the populace expects: honesty, integrity, ceaseless dedication, and loyalty. Maybe being a hero/mentor/leader is too much for some. It is a big responsibility.

One of my heroes fell from the pedestal recently. Although I still love this person, my feelings for them have changed. My feelings have changed forever. They have lost my trust – something that is very hard to regain. I see this former hero as a confused, scared individual. I thought life had given them all the answers, only to find out that they are more lost then I am.

I guess that is the fault in putting someone on a pedestal. Eventually, they will show that the temptation to be mortal is just too great. When we put too much confidence in an individual, it is inevitable that they will fail. Then, we lose our faith. We wonder if anyone is good and pure. We wonder if anyone that we admire is worthy of our admiration. Of course, we always seem to find someone else to replace our fallen heroes. It really is a vicious cycle.

I think that finding a hero/mentor/leader comes from within. Looking to others for moral inspiration can lead to a doubt in humanity and cynicism. We all know how we are supposed to treat others and live our lives. Happiness comes from within – not from a baseball player or rock star. This last week has taught me that no one has the answers.