Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ski Team- getting ready

and the skis are all labeled and zipped up in ski bags

Tim is prepping for the Wintergreen Racing Team's preseason training. The ski season has actually started, but it is raining in Virginia and it doesn't usually get cold enough to make snow until Christmas, sometimes it is after New Years. So we fly west to get some time on the mountain... This year there are even more racers going than in the past so Tim is helping Coach. And I'm going to be "Team Yates" team mom and help keep it all together... but anyway...

A month or so ago I shared a quick post, Tim's company DataXstream was helping support two of the USA Alpine Athletes. One is Kiley Staples. And I just found a pretty cool article that explains rather succinctly who she is and why we should watch her. So here ya go: Kiley Staples : ASPEN, Colo. — "Kiley Staples possesses a golden pass so powerful it just might help the promising U.S. ski racer jump start her career again.
By virtue of capturing the Nor-Am overall title last season, Staples gains automatic entry into every World Cup event in 2011-12." more

Virginia History & a book from Bradburn and Coombs

They were kind enough to sign it for me
Recently (before Thanksgiving) I was able to go to Richmond with my friend Susan and attend a book launch party for Douglas Bradburn and John Coombs.  Bradburn and Coombs were there to discuss their recent book "Early Modern Virginia, Reconsidering the Old Dominion."

Susan and I had a great time.

First, Susan is good company and we talked and caught up the hour ride to the Library of Virginia in Richmond.  Second, Susan's area is Early Virginia History.  I don't know exactly what she studied but I do know that she has a Master's Degree in History and she portrays Martha Washington for Mount Vernon.  She grew up in Williamsburg, she portrayed a colonial woman for Colonial Williamsburg prior to taking on Martha Washington, she has been all over a variety of plantations learning and studying... and so she knows this stuff.

I don't.  I am clueless.  But Doug Bradburn is married to a fellow Mount Holyoke College alum and now Facebook buddy, so I went.

When we arrived the speaking part of the evening had begun, Doug and John were taking questions.  They were hilarious.  Susan likened them to the two Muppet gentlemen in the theater, (who critique the shows) I don't know if you know what I mean? (I found a youtube, its down at the bottom)

In addition to being funny, they were interesting.  The idea was to question how Virginia History is generally perceived, to attempt to change the questions, to change the lectures which trickles down and changes what the average student learns.

My interpretation (and like I said, I'm fairly clueless so if you are a history buff or good gosh a bonafide historian, go find the book and read it yourself!) is that Virginia is traditionally compared to Massachusetts and in the comparison Virginia comes out lacking.  Massachusetts is seen as orderly, pious, well governed and Virginia is a disorderly wilderness with wild men running about drinking.  (I was never taught that in any history class btw)  And this series of essays is to take a look at Virginia and examine what was really going on in its early history as a colony.

To date I've only read the introduction and the first essay, by Bradburn "The Eschatological Origins of the English Empire."  As I do not run in academic circles it is a bit slow going for me and I have to reread things, look things up, and keep the dictionary handy.  However, it is interesting.  I had never heard that part of the marketing of the Virginia Company was church related, that the Anglican Church saw the empire as a means to keep the Catholic Spaniards from taking over the "new world."  I find that particularly interesting because in everything I was ever taught about Spanish expansion, the church figures prominently, and so it would make sense that the Anglican Church was also doing its part to save the world.  But it wasn't something I'd heard before.

I plan to take the book with me on an upcoming vacation and attempt to make more headway.  As I live here in Williamsburg, the colonial capital, it is interesting to read about the history and add it to what I see around me.
Statler & Waldorf - Signing off by beautifulcynic

Monday, November 28, 2011

The China Study

I wrote in August that my husband had read a CNN article, that lead to reading Dr. Esseltyn's book that read to reading The China Study. (going vegan post here)

And since then, we've been a mostly vegetarian household and my husband has been very strict in his diet following Dr. Esseltyn's diet with small variations when he eats out (I think he chooses not to worry about oils being cooked in foods when he eats out.)
But for a time my husband's sense of urgency was comparable to that of a missionary and it was a little hard to take.  So I did make a comment here or there, or the eye roll, and I did apologize to my friends when they came to my son's birthday party and received a lecture on nutrition.

But now I am reading The China Study and I do see why my husband feels the need to speak out.

There is a ton of information in the book and I'm not quite done yet.  But I can share the following highlights:

1.  Protein intake is associated with higher cancer risk:
In India an experiment involving liver cancer and protein consumption in rats showed that rats exposed to AF (aflatoxin) and then fed diets containing 20% protein developed liver cancer but rats exposed to AF and then fed diets contained only 5% protein did not develop liver cancer.
page 36,37 and the study is Madhaven TV  and Gopalen C, "The effect of dietary protein on carcinogenesis of aflatoxin" Arch. Path. 85 1968 133-137

{Aflatoxin, a fungus produced toxin, called "the most potent chemical carcinogen ever discovered"}

The India paper, along with Dr. Campbell's observations in the Philippines led to more studies regarding AF and protein intake.

Further on page 54 Dr. Campbell states "Foci development was almost entirely dependent on how much protein was consumed, regardless of how much aflatoxin was consumed"

2.  Not all protein is alike.  David Schulsinger did a study showing "gluten, the protein of wheat, did not produce the same results as casein, even when fed at the 20% level." pg. 59

3. Genetics only determine 2-3% of total cancer risk pg. 71

4. One of the strongest predictors of "Western Disease" was blood cholesterol pg. 77

5. Fat and breast cancer appear to be related.  Pg 87 the finds in Chinas showed that reducing fat from 24% to 6% was associated with lower breast cancer risk.  Pg. 84 findings by Ken Carroll, University of Western Ontario, show impressive relationship between fat and breast cancer.

that is only the first 90 pages of the book.

Chapter 5 is about hearts, heart health and heart disease.
"One study published in 1959 compared the coronary heart disease death rates in twenty different countries"
The study showed 1955, death rate in the United States duet heart disease: 700,000.  Finland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand followed the US with the United Kingdom coming in 6th at 450,000.  Japan, France and Portugal had just over 100,000 and Yugoslavia had under 100,000.

What I think is interesting is that people have been comparing heart health by country since the 1950s. In 1946 a doctor in Los Angeles did a study with heart patients and diet, 50 patients continued eating normally and 50 began eating an altered diet.  8 years later 12 of the first 50 were alive and 28 of the second 50 (those who altered their diets) were alive.  This information is old.  If you ask most adults they'll tell you not to eat certain foods to be healthy.  However almost all of them will tell you that you need milk, and you need meat, and you need animal protein.

My neighbor was talking to Tim about all of this and decided to do some reading.  She is married to my doctor.  She kept saying to him, "is this true?" and he kept saying "yes."  "So why aren't you telling people not to eat this?" she asked and he answered "I'm happy if I can get my patients not to eat meat lovers pizza every night with a 6 pack of beer.  They'd never put a vegan diet into practice."

I'm only 1/2 way through the book.  But I've stopped giving my husband a hard time for wanting the kids to be vegan.  I don't know if this will be a lifestyle change that takes hold, but it may be.  My husband is down to his college weight and running 8 minute miles in the morning.  He feels pretty good.  I don't think he really wants to go back to the diet he used to eat.  Me, I sneak of cookie every chance I get, but I have to admit, I feel pretty good too.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

because sometimes it is ugly


what do I do with Dragon? He is only 9.

He's come pretty far actually.  His teacher called him "responsible" and "a leader" and the kid whose name she tells the substitute that they can "count on."

He is also still the kid who compulsively lies, steals, and demands to be first.

This evening I was sitting up in Tiger & Little Hawk's room.  Little Hawk can be restless at bed time and I don't think it is fair to leave Tiger in charge.  So I sit there until Little Hawk falls asleep.  In the room next door there was some weird clunking around.  And then the dog was making noise and so finally I went in to check it out.  Dragon says from his bed "the dog keeps walking around my bed."  Uh, huh.  And why would that be?  "What do you have under your bed that the dog wants?"  I asked.  Dragon dove under the bed to find out.  I noticed his backpack at the end of the bed and took a peek, 1/2  a loaf of Ezekiel bread and several packets of spreadable cheese from my husband's MREs, two boxes of pretzels and a granola bar.  "What is this for?" He comes up with some bogus story.  I ask him what else is in his room.  And eventually, underneath the bean bag by his bed, we uncover a sandwich of ezekiel bread and cheese spread.

I am not handling this calmly.  I am sure I must have starved in some other life because the fact that this kid hoards family food up in his room is always a hot button for me.  It really pisses me off.

Besides. cockroaches.  Need I say more?

And so after some screaming and yelling and hollering I send him off to find his dad and I go and read the best blog on the planet:

The Accidental Advocate

where I am reminded that: I AM HIS MOM
it is MY JOB to look for the gold. To love him where he is, not where I want him to be.

and so, after a bit of wine, and some online therapy, I trudge back upstairs.

"I am really angry.  But I am your mom, and I will always be your mom."

and damn it, we will get through this.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Abundance, and Pink Peacock

Some time ago I tried to use Pink Saturday as a means to challenge myself to pink collages.  And for a short time I really did try to get at least one out there once a week, and then of course life took over.  And some of that is that there is always so much to do, and my husband doesn't understand my need to "make a mess" before I get about the job of cleaning.  He isn't a jerk or anti art, he just doesn't get it.  And there is always so much to do.  But this morning he is away looking at property in Wintergreen VA (yes!) and so I am playing.

I've been thinking a lot the last few weeks about "abundance"
and living with abundance and living in abundance

And I think it is about focus.  Because I know people who have so much and they feel that they need so much more.  And then I remember being 18 years old, on a church trip to Haiti.  There were people in the street, standing in the foulest smelling mud I have ever smelled, rejoicing because they were blessed.  They were blessed to have a job and they were grateful, they were blessed to have health and they were grateful, they were blessed to have children and they were grateful.  I learned a lot on that trip.  I find that I allow myself to be refocused, to need, to want, to feel desperately that I have to try harder, work harder, have better... and really I just need to live in my blessings and be grateful.

And so, I am attempting to focus daily, to live in my blessings.

And I wonder, what does abundance mean to you?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


That stands for the Virginia Junior Classics League.  They had a conference in Richmond Sunday and Monday this week and I was there as a chaperone with my daughter's Jr. High School.  My daughter is lucky enough to attend a school that offers Latin- she took "Latin for Word Power" in 6th grade, Latin I in 7th and now Latin II in 8th.  Last year we didn't attend the VJCL conference.  This year I sort of pushed her into it.

I am so glad I did!

It was really neat to see a conference with High School Students conducting the majority of opening assembly, voting, organizing, older college students now part of the SCL back to help out and basically 1600 "nerds" getting together to celebrate various aspects of what is "classics."

There were competitions, in oral presentation, in arts, dramatic presentation.

The 20th Legion was there.  They are re enactors, much like those in Colonial Williamsburg that our group is so familiar with, who re enact from the period of the Roman Empire.  They offered several lectures, on medicine and engineering, on military, and on the women and crafts which focused on spinning and weaving.  I attended the women's craft talk and really learned a lot about spinning, as well as "fullers" the people who did the washing of the clothes.  It was an industry, much like dry cleaning is today, one that relied on slave labor, and the elaborate set up is fascinating.

As a chaperone I was asked to volunteer twice, once for the judging of arts and crafts and once at the dance.  Why is there ALWAYS a dance?  Judging arts and crafts was very interesting as I got to see the many, many different categories, how things were judged (some of that was completely subjective) and of course the submissions.  Submissions ranged from nearly professional to "something someone slapped together on the bus."

My daughter's teacher repeatedly encouraged the kids to participate in the crafts contest and as my daughter's mentor enjoys needlepoint, she decided to give it a go.  After a bit of research she settled on an image she found on line: cave canem (interesting the photo can be bought from a variety of sources)

Instead of beware of dog, she settled on "knowledge is power" and wanted the words in the middle of a circle with similar flora and fauna motif to the mosaic.

But she ran out of time and the design organically modified itself to:

She finished the needlepoint the night before we were to get on the bus, and then as she was sewing the pillow together (it was to be a pillow to sit in the rocker she likes to study in) my sewing machine's needle broke! Horror! At 11 o'clock at night!  So she finished it by hand stitching on the bus.

She didn't quite finish it though, and while the judges were impressed with the piece they did not feel they could over look it not being done, and so she was awarded 3rd place instead of 1st.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Best & Worst

Last week I participated in A Baker's Dozen best & worst Wednesday - it was fun and as I haven't sat down to blog much this week I thought I'd sort of "best and worst" my way up to date:

current biggest worst: the lense on my camera is in for repair
best: it is repairable, it is the worst thing I can complain about all week, and they are hoping to have it back to me before the family trip in December.

next on my worst list: my computer is down.  It is the one with all my photos on it.  So this blog is photo less unless there are some random ones on this computer.
best: I'm married to a computer geek.  There is more than one computer in the house. I can still blog

worst: some insane person wants to know what I do all day and why I do not respond to their phone calls, emails in a "timely" manner.
best: I posted nearly everything I did today on Facebook (I refrained from including things like "dishes" "laundry" and "sweeping the kitchen") and my friends have added cute and funny remarks.

best: on Sunday I got the kids dressed in their Christmas Sweaters and took photos on my iphone for Christmas Cards.
worst: Tiger has a gorgeous sweater and we couldn't find it.

best: Sunday was Tiger's birthday
worst: he wasn't feeling well and we had to cancel his birthday party

tomorrow there are parent teacher conferences.  I see both Dragon & Tiger's teachers.  Dragon is having his best year ever and I'm really happy for him and for his teacher.  Tiger is having a difficult year.  He is very stressed about school.  He complains that if he doesn't get his morning work done he gets a "check" but that the school news is on, and sometimes he does tech support for that, and the reading paper takes him too long.  So he doesn't get his homework written down.  So even though he always gets his homework done, he gets corrected for not writing it down in his planner.  Tiger is dyslexic, in addition to having difficulty with reading and spelling, he has processing symptoms.  It literally takes him longer to do things.  Sally Shaywitz talks about this in her book "Overcoming Dyslexia" they have done MRIs studying how the brain works and they can see that the brain literally takes longer to process information in dyslexics.  They can see that dyslexics use different parts of the brain than non dyslexics do.

Tiger has an IEP.  It says that during instruction and during assesment he cannot be rushed, he must be given as much time as he needs.  So, I will be bringing in his IEP tomorrow and discussing that with his teacher.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

1st grader's Starburst Survey (or what geeks do with Halloween candy)

She said, "Mom I want to do an experiment."
Okay, what's the experiment?
"I want to know what kind of Nerds people like best." When we checked the Halloween Candy someone had over tapped the Nerd supply and there were only two boxes left.  But there were lots of free floating Starbursts at the bottom of the bag.
So we pulled out all the Starbursts and she had enough of 4 different flavors to survey 3 people.

The flavors were:
Cherry Mango, Cherry Chew, Strawberry Chew and Watermelon Chew.
Being an ambitious 6 year old she wanted to know which flavor was 1st, which was 2nd, which was 3rd and which was last.

Her 5th grader brother reminded her, "You need a Hypothesis.  What is your guess for which flavor will be the most liked?"

She hypothesized that Cherry Mango would be most popular.

We decided to give each "place" a number value.  1st place equaled 4 points, 2nd place equaled 3 points, 3rd place equaled 2 points and last place received one point.

She's tallying up her results now...

The most points a flavor could receive was 12, Watermelon won with 11, Cherry Mango received 9, Strawberry received 6 and Cherry received 4.

Not bad for a self run project by a 6 year old!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Just stuff

it was foggy this morning, very foggy

best thing about the bus, it picks up the kids at the end of my driveway *score*
worst thing, my worst memories of school are all bus related.  Too much time with too many kids unattended, and they aren't all nice.

out for a walk with little Hawk & the dog, love this mailbox

best thing about a foggy day, it burned off to a beautiful sun shiny day
worst thing, not really fog related, but, I was supposed to be on a field trip with my preschooler and had to miss it because Tiger & Dragon were home sick today.

spent the afternoon driving to Va Beach to see a lawyer.  Best thing, because it was sunny there wasn't any traffic going and only a little bottleneck on the way home.
Worst thing it took me forever to find their office because the "Bank of America" landmark they gave me isn't Bank of America anymore.

I'm loving the tree colors this week!

Best thing about hiring a lawyer, it'll get done right.  Worst thing, ridiculous fees.

I was listening to talk radio on the drive down.  It is interesting how many people were paying attention to state elections yesterday and what they think that means nationwide.  It is also interesting how many people are paying attention to what is happening in Italy (really, the third largest economy in Europe?)

I'm joining the Baker's Dozen for Best and Worst Wednesdays
and the Southern Day Dreamer for Outdoor Wednesday

Sunday, November 6, 2011

On Teenagers and Hermit Crabs

MLyons came home from the beach this August with hermit crabs and astoundingly they had been doing fairly well.  Occasionally someone would remember to be sure that their sponges had enough water and someone might remember to feed them and often enough it was MLyons.  At some point the cage got moved out of the kitchen and into MLyon's room.  I didn't move it.  I don't know if MLyons did, or if Tim did or if Tim's personal assistant (who spends two days at our house) did it.  I noticed the move, and was worried but I remember to check on them once in a while and they seemed okay.  About 2 weeks ago I noticed the cage was missing.  I meant to ask but the kids were at school.  This evening K asked me to proof read a paper for her and it probably wasn't the best night, I'm fighting a cold, I'm PMSing, it is bed time.  I asked where the hermit crabs were.  In the hallway, they kept waking her up.
me: How long?
K: I don't know.
me: Great - so you stuck them out there to starve to death?

Yes I said that.

I checked on said hermit crabs.  One had crawled completely out of its shell and dried up, a little petrified hermit crab.  The other hadn't left the shell.  Both are dead.

I stormed into my daughter's room.  She was in the bathroom so I stormed in there.  I meet attitude.  This pushes me in the wrong direction.

"I am livid.  I am livid that you - because of  your selfishness - something that was living is dead.  Yes, inconsequential as a hermit crab may be, they were alive and now they are dead."

Yes.  I said that.

To the girl who 45 minutes ago was so angry with her 5 year old sister for clogging up a dime store perfume bottle with a starburst.

And O.M.G.  Did I really just do that?  That was so me, acting like my mom.  I know my daughter and I know that she is a sweet and sensitive girl who is most likely upset about the situation - and yes it is her fault but I just had a full blown bitch session because she didn't give me the emotional reaction that I thought the situation warranted.  So because she isn't wracked with guilt I've got to *make her feel guilty*?

I remember that from my own teenager years, that when forced into a corner I had an amazing ability to feign indifference because sure I was upset, but not because my mother tried to make me upset, but because I was a normal human being with normal emotions.  But now that my mom had made it about her, no way in hell was I going to admit that I was upset.

So back into my daughter's room I go.

Me; I am sorry.  I am upset that you didn't put them back in the kitchen or someplace where we could have taken care of them.  But I remember being a teenager and even if I was upset once my mother decided to act the way I just acted it became important not to show my emotions.  I know you are a decent kid and you probably feel badly about the situation.  I know that once I freaked out on you that you couldn't show that you felt bad because then it became about my freak out session not about the hermit crabs.  So I'm sorry.

K: Your remember that from being a teenager?

Me: yeah.

I need a drink.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pink & Blue POC and a little bling

Some where there is snow. And if you are in Massachusetts you are probably thinking, 'yeah, here, good riddance!' But my family is getting out our winter gear, trying it on, checking to see if we have everything. Because my family skis. Tim bought new POC helmets for K and MLyons. K's is the pink one, MLyons is turquoise (M's favorite color) which means it is a Julia Mancuso helmet. Julia's helmet comes with a few rhinestones so that you can make yourself a tiara.

How cute it that picture?

 and so the "tiara" got the girls going...

just the day before we'd celebrated Bitsy's Birthday and I had bought some stick-on bling for Bitsy's friends to make treasure boxes. I bought them at Michael's in the scrapbooking section, scrapbookers take their craft very seriously so I figured the bling would be good and sticky. Hopefully it stays but I'm guessing it hasn't been tested against gates.

I posted that last one on Julia Mancuso's Facebook page and she very graciously replied 

 Julia Mancuso awesome! thx for sharing

which was kind of cool.  The more I read about Julia the more I like her.

I am going to link my pretty pink and blue up to Beverly's Pink Saturday

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tim's Birthday & Pink Gorilla Gram

My husband turned 41 today

he is recently vegan, so he made banana waffles to fit his diet (my family tradition is waffles and ice cream for breakfast on your birthday)
and I am making him an ice box mousse pie a la "The Engine 2 Diet"
and not knowing what to get him for his birthday I got a few of his friends to help me organize a little surprise at the office

Thanks to First Class Balloons in Richmond Virginia for making this happen!