Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Training Superheroes

  We began our 26th year of teaching martial arts/self defense to kids this month and decided what better way to begin the curriculum with Superhero Classes!
  So we've decorated the Center in Superhero style, from the city backdrop, to comic strip posters of our students and expressions of work on the walls!
  This year we'll be putting emphasis on typical superhero training:  Respect, Courage, Manners, Discipline, Control and more.  To be a Superhero you have to respect and take care of others as well as yourself. 
  We can't wait to begin!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Family Fun Part 1

  A long time ago, in a time far, far away, before we had kids of our own, Mike and I had decided that when we did have kids we wanted them to have family adventures.  Mike and I enjoyed our own small inexpensive adventures, mostly around town at the river, in the parks, and Trail of Tears park hiking or picnicking.  So when we began having kids, we naturally took them along on our 'adventures' and as they grew so did our adventures.  "Making Memories" was what we called these adventures and even if we had to spend money on them (see 'credit cards can be your friend at times') it was always worth it because those memories last forever.

  The best adventures were always the ones where there was some element of risk in them. Not huge life risks necessarily, though those did come a little later, but a little bit of risk. Remember, Mike and I were already doing martial arts while we were dating. A date for us was getting punched, kicked and thrown to the ground learning self defense. Yes, this was how we spent our two free evenings a week. I'm not saying that was my choice, a nice evening going out to eat (cheaply) and catching a movie would have been nice,  but it was the only time we could see each other because I going to college and work during the day and Mike was going to college during the day and working nights and weekends and he really wanted to learn martial arts.

 Things did not change much after we were married because Mike had the same job working nights and weekends and I was working full time all day even during the summers when he was of school.  Anyway we were used to getting bumps and bruises during our martial arts training so when we looked at vacations we usually took the kids floating down Current River near Van Buren, MO on inner tubes.  They had, of course, had all taken swimming lessons for several summers before we deemed it safe enough to take them in a big deep river.  I laugh when my kids  think I'm overprotective and psychotic about dangers; this is the mom who let them spar, punch and throw each other all over the gym in martial arts since they could walk. But I tried to reduce the risk of injury with safety lessons such as swimming, CPR, etc.

As they got older, we went to the ocean, floating and riding waves, went to Six Flags to ride all the rides.  This tended to whet our appetites for more adventures and one year after an exhilarating day of roller coasters, log flumes and Mr. Freeze thought we were ready to take on white water rafting in Colorado.  I know, I'm not sure what possessed us to make that leap. I still don't remember exactly how Mike and I talked ourselves into that. I think it was the assumption that it didn't look much different than the Thunder River ride where we're all together in a big boat crashing through the waves and curves through the trees at Six Flags, albeit they were controlled waves, in a predictable, controlled river.

  Seriously, when I look back now, I wonder what we were thinking. The year we made the Colorado trip, we had hit some obstacles that loomed pretty big in our lives.  Mike was being downsized from the company he had worked for and I only had a low paying job.  We were desperate for some family time to get away from all the troubles at home and this seemed like the place to go; John Denver and his Rocky Mountains.

  We read up about Pike's Peak, Garden of the Gods, the Air Force Academy and white water rafting. We knew about acclimating to the mountain air, drinking lots of water to keep hydrated while hiking. What else was there?  Little did we know how much adventure we were headed toward in that trip.

To be continued...


Monday, May 4, 2015

The Anti-Bully Effect

   These days everyone is talking about bullies. We have bully rallies, bully defense classes in school and the shame of bully blogs.  But I want to share with you an episode of Anti-bully behavior.
   My husband, my kids and myself own a self defense and fitness business where for the last 25 years we have taught children and teens how to protect themselves, and how to look out for others. We don't do competitions, we don't give out trophies. We work on building confidence and respect in the kids we teach. We also work on family or in the secular world it would be called 'team' building. But since my family teaches kids as a 'family' we call it family building.  Each child in our class is encouraged to think of each other as brothers and sisters and we watch out for each other.
  So yesterday in class we had a young boy come in who normally attends class on a different day so he did not recognize any of the kids in the class he walked into.  For most children this is not frightening, but for this young man it was.  My daughter who is a head instructor and myself talked with him, trying to make him feel comfortable. But it wasn't until we convinced him to sit down in the group that a very beautiful thing began to happen. The other children sensed he was upset and immediately came over to sit by him, introducing themselves and smiling and asking him his name. Now, this was not prompted by my daughter or myself, we just sat by his side. Each of these kids were concerned and took the problem upon themselves to solve.  In five minutes he was talking with them, laughing and joining in the class.
  Never was there a snicker at him crying or being upset from any of the students. There was an instant compassion that met him at the door of the workout room.  The instructors never said a word to the rest of the class. We didn't have to. The other students knew what to do.  It was beautiful to experience.
  God gives each of us the capacity for compassion and if we nurture it right it grows and blossoms and gives to so many others.  It was the greatest lesson we all got to take part in that day.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


   Someone recently said to me, "So you claim you are an adventure seeker? And you have only zip-lined one time, white water rafted twice? How can you call that being an adventure seeker?"
   Seriously? Now we have to have a masters or doctorate in any adventure to enjoy them? I have never said I was an expert at any of these things and personally I don't think anyone who flings themselves down a crazy class V or VI river an expert at anything but being crazy, but what is wrong with a middle-aged mom seeking mild adventures? My life is far from over, and while I cling to the self imposed law that I don't engage in any risk taking that was so overly dangerous I couldn't be a wife and mom afterwards, I do like to have fun and try things!
  So my definition of adventure seeking may differ from the silly person who made that comment, but it's my life.  And it's your life too! And your kids.  They don't have to be THE football star or THE soccer star...if they want to play those games great. They should play for fun and exercise. But to expect all kids and adults too, for that matter, to only play games if they are experts at it is just wrong. And I'm afraid our society has drilled into the last few generations that you either go large or go home. 
  Sorry, but that is wrong. We were not created to best each other. We are made to exercise our bodies, keep them moving and fulfilling our Creator's plan of living a life of moderation.  Moderation meaning you don't have to be an expert, but you should not just vegetate either!
  So seriously, get out and have fun. Don't quit because you aren't an expert.  Life is meant to be tried and enjoyed. Let your kids have fun playing whatever sport they play, or game or hobby, craft, or whatever. They don't have to be experts, but just give it a good go.
  Now, where did I put that parachute?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Make Mine Manners!

   This fall we begin once again with a favorite course at the martial arts center. Manners.  When I worked as a grade school secretary we didn't have a nurse. It was just me in the office whether you needed a copy of something, supplies, band aids, Tylenol or a hug.  Those were the days I even pulled teeth! 
  I never minded the blood, sweat and tears that came into my office every day, but I did demand manners.  "I need a copy of this!"
  "I need a copy of this, what?"
  "I need a copy of this paper!"
   "No, I mean, what's the magic word?"
   "....oh, please..."
   Sometimes I got a blank stare...no manners being taught in that home. We'll fix that!  One time, one child had learned the manner thing so completely he came in gushing blood all over the floor from a nosebleed and said through his hands cupped over his nose, "Can I have a tissue...Please?"
  Just so you know, I never demanded manners if a child was gushing blood or crying... I am a mom for Pete's sake and know there's a time and place!
  But seriously, it's hard to teach your kids manners if they aren't supported other places besides home and goodness knows, they won't learn them from watching anything on television.  So we like to include "Make Mine Manners" in our lesson plans in martial arts too. Because if you're going to learn to defend yourself, you need to do it in a mannerly way right?!
   Manners helps us develop as gentlemen and ladies and especially when we are learning skills that could hurt someone else, we need to know our manners.  It takes a mannerly person to know just how much force is needed to protect ourselves without going overboard.  Another child on the playground does not deserve a broken leg when all they did was shove us.  Even good manners can keep us out of bully situations and danger.   "Well, sure Mr. Bully, go ahead and have my place in line. I'm not in a hurry."
   And as parents, Mike and I like to encourage our students to use good manners with their own parents too. So don't be surprised if you hear some extra "please" and "thank-you's" at home!
  Thank you for letting us teach your children! We love helping them become wonderful confident and mannerly young ladies and gentlemen!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Lisaville, the Sequel

  Yes, here we are again friends, back in Lisaville as she lives her fantasy of being a pet owner who never has to de-hair, de-vomit or de-smell the house because of her pets.  Since last we met, Lisa and daughters did a wild-and-crazy-thing on Christmas Eve. They went to the Humane Society and brought home two cats. Did she say, TWO cats? What was Lisa thinking?
  Well, after three months of missing her beloved Siamese of nine years, who had succumbed to old age, she was missing her feline companion and decided to find another kitty.
  So off the threesome went to the Humane Society to "look around' at who they had.  Then a couple of phone calls later to a husband who to this day declares he just "should have said 'no'"  they gave not only one three-year-old male kitty a home, but another kitten.  The 3 year old was a blond tabby and the kitten a calico.  Or so she thought...
  Turns out the kitten was a Maine Coon and at one year old still has two more years of growth to go. He's almost the size of Watson, the three year old very furry bassett/spaniel. 
  I am firmly convinced that some time during your fifties, while life is speeding past you, your children are growing and moving out of the house, getting married, and your job is stressing you out, your brain leaves your body.  I mean, what was she thinking? Three pets in the house? When she was crabbing so very much about 'THE DOG?"
  Now every day is dealing with not only tons of pet hair, but the kitty litter box of TWO cats one of which should go outside like the dog does because he just "goes too much!!!!!" Then there is the running, chasing, bowling over, fighting over the dog's water bowl, jumping up on the tables, counters, chairs, sofas, eating phone cords, computer cords, knocking over candles, (unlit at least)
and did I mention the pet hair? 
  No one ever wants to come visit us anymore. don't blame them. Try as I might I just can't keep hair off the floor, couches, chairs. I wish I could figure out how to spin cat hair and we'd have blankets for EVERYONE on the Christmas list. Not that anyone wants a blanket made out of cat hair.  Ugg...
  So, in Lisaville, Lisa has officially turned the corner as she stares 55 down and wonders what her 60's will be like...will Lisa still have her brain? Will she still have hair? Can she make a wig out of dog/cat fur?  These are the things we ponder in...Lisaville!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Red Necked Door Handles and Patience

      You know how trying to see the humor in things helps you get through a minor problems? A couple of weeks ago, my little putt-putt car which has always been faithful, starting every morning, cold, heat, rain or snow, for twelve years now, began showing it's age with a fan belt that has been squealing. I mean squealing to the point of embarrassment while sitting in the bank teller line, on the parking lot where I work and at stop lights. My wonderfully capable husband took a look at it, but because it's a foreign make, did not have the foreign tools to get in there to take it apart. So it was off to the mechanics.  He got the belts changed, but not before telling me there was other work that eventually needs to be done which of course entails more foreign parts and tools and can't be done at home.  I decided to wait on that for now...ca-ching, ca-ching

     But I guess my little guy got used to the treatment he received at the garage because not even two weeks later, putt-putt decided to roll the driver side window down and not let it go back up again. My husband took the door panel off, checked the fuses, but it is, of course, either the motor or the switch. ca-ching...ca-ching...

    Off to the mechanic again who had to order the parts and sent the car back to us so we could use the car until the part came in.  The only problem was he didn't send back the door handle. So my creative husband said, "You just pull on that little wire and it pops it open."
      For some reason it would work every time he did it.  But no matter how hard I tried I could not pull the wire to get the door open.  So he got me the pliers.  Now, it's only supposed to take two days for the part to come in so I thought, no big deal, I can do without the door handle.  Getting out of my car now requires a tool...hence, my red necked door handle. Sigh...

    Now for the laughing part...I'm not really laughing 'cause it's a real pain to be in a hot car, grabbing up your phone, purse and purchases and forgetting you don't have a door handle to get out.  It means putting everything down I just collected and searching for the pliers which never stay in the little cup I put them in near the gear shift. They fall onto the floor and in the midst of driving around town, slide across the floorboard, sometimes under my seat.  Oh and when I get in the garage any time after 3:00 pm, it too dark for me to SEE the little wire that has to be pulled with the pliers.  Sigh...

  It's been two days now and I haven't heard from the mechanic about the part yet.   I don't want to complain about a really minor hardship...but...I'm trying, not so successfully to make this a lesson in patience. Lord knows, I need plenty of those lessons...

  Thank you, Lord, for the little lessons in life that poke and bite us like gnats and mosquitoes and door handles that don't work.  It's in those lessons we build up to greater patience with things like that guy next to me at the light whose squealing belts REALLY  need to be changed!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Roll With The Punches

 My mother-in-law had a wonderful saying as my husband was growing up. When life dealt you disappointment or sadness you had to ‘roll with the punches’.   
By definition, this phrase has come to mean, “a boxer’s ability to deflect the full force of an opponent’s blow by moving his body.”
At times during your life you must be like the fighter standing in the ring.  You are in the ring to fight, but you will also get hit. No good fighter ever escapes without a few punches to the face, stomach or head and to lessen those blows you need to move and keep moving or roll with the punches if you want to be standing at the end of the fight.
 That is a sentiment that is echoed in many of our Gospel readings, ‘life is hard, living your faith will be hard’ but because you always have God by your side, you can make it through.’ 
In John 16, Chapter 16, Jesus even tells his disciples that they will be persecuted, They will expel you from the synagogues, in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. “  But then He goes on to reassure them that they will not be alone in this life to face these hardships and trials, “ For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you…”  “...But when he comes, the Spirit of Truth, he will guide you to all truth.   (John 16: 1-13)
 Jesus is reassuring us that though the world may deal us blows, and trials and sorrows, we have the Holy Spirit with us always to help us get along. 
   We can teach our children the same roll with the punches attitude to have in life. Just because life is hard does not mean you lose your faith. Our faith is what helps us roll with the punches, get up and keep walking toward Heaven.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Protecting Your Kids

   In the news there have been several reports about child abductions and possible stalking of children who are walking out of school buildings. 
  Warning: I'm going to hit you right between the eyes now guys!

  While we can teach kids how to stay safe, be wary of strangers and aware of their surroundings, it is still a parent's first and foremost job to be your child's bodyguard.

  This means kids younger than 11 or 12 should not go places without a parent or guardian with them and kids older than this should go with another child the same age or older

  While Mike and I try to not create 'paranoid' parents or kids, you still have to realize that it is the parent's job to watch out and know where your children are. If they are at school it is the teacher and principal keeping your children safe, but the moment they walk out the door their safety is back in your hands.
  We sometimes fall back on technology to keep kids safe, cell phones, tracking devices, but none of these things will protect a child. And we must forget about being 'friends' with our children instead of being responsible for their protection and discipline.  Being your child's bodyguard means you are with them or have sent them with another responsible adult who will watch out for their safety. It does not mean relying on a cell phone for them to call if they are in danger.
  If you 'tween' balks at this, you must be the parent and say, "Tough, it's my way or stay home". Even in the "old" days responsible parents didn't let their kids run around the neighborhood without knowing where they were.  Moms were at home more then, somebody was always watching from the kitchen window, kids ran in groups and met in each other's yards.  Mom always knew where you were.
  We don't need to be paranoid, but we do need to remember that a parent's first job is being a parent. This is not a job we can outsource, pay another to do or hope for the best.  It's your job. You are the parent.

Friday, November 15, 2013

And Sometimes All Is Right With The World...

SF officials helping 5-year-old boy transform into superhero

Five-year-old Miles already has experience fighting villains - he's been facing off with acute lymphoblastic leukemia since he was 20 months old.
With his cancer in remission and his last bout of chemotherapy finished in June, his biggest wish was to continue living his life heroically. "He wanted to be Batman," said Patricia Wilson, the Make-A-Wish Foundation's Bay Area executive director.
We can do that, Wilson thought, and she began putting the call out to volunteers to help turn San Francisco into Gotham City for a day for the boy from Tulelake (Siskiyou County).
It might as well have been a worldwide Bat-Signal. Word of the foundation's efforts spread quickly on social media, and soon what started as a small effort to make a 5-year-old boy a hero for the day turned into a citywide extravaganza, with support and volunteers coming in from all over.
On Friday, by Make-A-Wish's count, thousands of volunteers will cheer on "Batkid" as he defeats the Riddler and the Penguin at locations around San Francisco. The mayor will present Miles with a key to the city. Police Chief Greg Suhr will step in as Commissioner Gordon to alert Miles when his heroics are needed.
"I thought I could do it on a scale that a 5-year-old would appreciate," said Wilson, whose foundation specializes in granting wishes to children with serious diseases. "But apparently, it's on a scale now that the nation appreciates.
"I've never seen anything go viral like this, with the outpouring of support from across the world," she said.
Suhr said so many people want to help out that officials have had to turn away some volunteers.
"My butcher at the grocery store was asking what he could do, the police commissioners was asking what they could do," he said. "Everywhere I go, the only thing people want to talk about is Batkid. I was just at a meeting with the attorney general, and Kamala Harris said, 'Tell me about Batkid!' "
Miles and his family, who asked that their last name not be released, arrived in San Francisco on Thursday, the foundation said. His parents have been briefed on Friday's events, but Miles still does not know the extent of what's to come.
Wilson credited the spirit of tech-savvy San Francisco, whose residents took to the idea immediately and began spreading word through social media.
"We have done other superhero wishes before at Make-A-Wish, and no city has embraced it like this one," she said. "There's going to be a lot of love in San Francisco on Friday."
Vivian Ho is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: vho@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @VivianHo