Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Resolutions Parents Need To Make For 2010

According to my Swedish parenting magazine source, "Allt om barn", there are eight New Year's resolutions we need to make for next year.

1. Accept that you don't have to be a perfect parent.
Good one! I hate having to be perfect, but it's easier said than done, especially when the guilt factor kicks in. "Mom! All my friends have a/get to ____" (fill in the blank).

2. Spend time with your kids.
Quality time, not quantity time! My daughter and I are together a lot, but I am bad at listening and being present. I will try to improve next year.

3. Take care of your body.

Fitness is important, and it's important to be a fitness role model. I am good at staying in shape, but there are few sports my daughter and I enjoy doing together. Our sport personalities don't mesh well. This was true until a couple of weeks ago when my neighbor knocked on our door and handed over two tennis rackets and a ball. It turns out, we like learning to play tennis together!

4. Learn to love chaos.
Wow! No can do. I have control issues.

5. Have dinner together everyday.
My husband works evenings, but my daughter and I sit down to dinner every night. And on weekends, all three of us are there.

6. Find time to be together with your spouse.
This year, we have had a lot of alone-time. I work between 4:30 and 7:30 in the morning, and my husband leaves for work 2:30 in the afternoon. It has been a real luxury. Next year, when I am in school full-time, I will look back at this year with envy.

7. Keep in touch with friends.
And work on making new friends! I know lots of people who are too content with their circle of friends and close themselves up to new contacts.

8. Be grateful for the time you spend with your kids.
Sometimes, I forget this, especially when my daughter doesn't want to get out of bed and takes an hour to eat her cereal. But conflicts are part of life, we can't just go around and be grateful all the time. If we don't fight, we miss out on making up!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

More Rookie Blogging Tips!

By accident, or more honestly by getting angry (I'm losing all my hair!), I learned a hyperlink shortcut today.

I was messing with my yahoo mail signature and figured out that I could super-easily hyperlink my name to my blog's URL by marking it and pushing the hyperlink button.

WOW! I'm such a tech-idiot.

Anyway, if there isn't a hyperlink button, and you find yourself in a hyperlink emergency, it's good to know the Html code too.

Friday, December 25, 2009

How To Make A Word Into A Link

Being a newbie blogger is frustrating. I want to learn everything quickly, create a buzz around my blog, and become a respectable member of the blogging community --but as with everything else that involves human interaction-- it's a slow and trust-gaining process, as it should be. I just have to be patient, work hard, and contribute. Yes, because that's what you do to be part of the blogger-gang. Share what you know and make friends!

So today, on this lovely Christmas Day, to all you blogging rookies out there, I will share how to make a word into a hyperlink.

A couple of nights ago, I sat up half the evening pulling my hair over this one. Geez! Until I figured out that it was called HYPERLINK!, I was shouting and swearing at all the NOT useful hits that came up on my Google searches.

As I am not smart enough to write the instructions to you without hyperlinking this whole post, I will hook you up with a helpful post on eHow .

Having problems using the Htlm code? I found that Odessa had left out the last /a> that goes at the end. Try to add those last three symbols, then it should work.

Try not to be too frustrated. Take your time and play around with it. Then, once it's working, be proud! Brag to your friends that you now know how to write computer programming codes. You have joined the Internet Geek Society. Welcome aboard!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Do You Have A Tweenie At Home?

In the past year, my daughter has changed from being my little Tom-girl to a fourteen-year-old, except --she is only ten! What happened? I didn't expect to see these changes in her behavior for at least another two years.

It's hard to say when I first started noticing that she was different. I blame those darn Twilight books. No, kidding aside, my daughter has always been a strong reader, and last summer she read all four Twilight books. I was so proud of her. But since then, that is all she wants to read!

The Twilight books obsession ballooned into exchanging posters on the walls in her room. Yes, the cute puppy posters were torn down and up went Edward Cullen and Jacob.

Then the I-want-a-cell-phone nagging started. When I told her that she could call her friends, all she wants, on our regular phone, her response was: "I want to text them, moooom." (Her head tilted to one side and her mouth poking out.)

This naturally leads me to the next change in her behavior. Her attitude. Whateeeevers are now heard on a regular basis in our home, and the classic eye-roll has showed up along with mouth-offs like tisks, huff, b-ah and buts.

Where did my little girl go? I got my answer today when I read the morning paper. The heading read: "Do you have a tweenie at home?"

Here is the scoop:
Tweenies are kids between 9 and 11. They are too young to be teenagers, but no longer little kids. In other words: "Too young for boys and too old for toys." They are teenager wannabes, and imitates them with clothes, accessories, and behavior.

Unlike teenagers that suffer from apathy and lack of energy (can be recognized by their semi-deaf-couch-potato behavior), tweenies have their child-like excitement, and willingness to do things, still intact. But they have reached a more mature mental stage than 6-8 year-olds, they are starting to grasp adult jokes and contexts.

Tweenies are fun to be around, so enjoy this rare and short period in their lives. Soon enough the real teens will start! No longer too young for boy, and many new and interesting toys!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Want To Run Comfortably?

As a runner, I am fortunate to live in Florida. I grew up in Sweden, and over there we didn't always have weather that made running possible, especially this time of year. It could be quite icy and slippery outside during the winter months, or in other words, bone-breaking-weather!

Besides the weather, another crucial factor that I have learned has a major impact on my running comfort is the time of day. Somehow my body-system doesn't lend itself to running during the first half of the day. Mornings is the least comfortable time for me to run. Maybe this has something to do with my digestive system. I don't know. But if I run in the mornings, I often experience cramps and my belly is bubbly. (I know, more than you want to know!)

I believe that running is much like anything else in our character, we do things better at different times of day. I am creative and learn best in the am, but run best in the pm. So if you been having difficulties, try to run at a different hour of the day.

Previous post: "Why I Run"

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Great News! My Poem Was Published

My poem "Unwanted Gift" can now be read at Every Day Poets.

I've been waiting patiently for almost two months. It was posted today.

I couldn't have received a better Christmas gift --a much wanted gift, indeed!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What Should I Do With My Life?

I'm a self-help book junkie. When I go to a book store or a library, I usually end up in the non-fiction section. My favorite subjects, besides books on writing, are health, fitness, dogs, parenting, money, psychology, any book that fits into the personal growth category, and biographies. I love to learn about interesting people.

During times of personal crisis, small and large, I find help and comfort in reading books. It's kind of funny how we often think that we're alone with a problem, but so far, I have not had a single problem that has not been addressed in a book.

A couple of years ago, I was going through a rough spot in my career. I had only been teaching for four years, but I was unhappy and wanted to quit. My window of opportunity for a change came when I found myself unemployed. Had it not been for our recent economic recession, I probably still be an unhappy teacher.

It takes special circumstances to find the courage to quit and start over. Personally, I have 40,000 dollars in student loans. And before my unemployment, I didn't feel I could rightly justify to my husband that I wanted to do something else, and maybe go back to school again. It felt impossible!

Po Bronson has written a wonderful book called "What should I Do with My Life? The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question."

As I read this book when I was unemployed, it felt like I had come home.

Bronson spoke to nine hundred people who told him their stories, and fifty of those stories are presented in his book.

Here is a snippet from the introduction on his homepage .

"I learned that it was in hard times that people usually changed the course of their life; in good times, they frequently only talked about change. Hard times forced them to overcome the doubts that normally gave them pause. It surprised me how often we hold ourselves back until we have no choice. So the people herein suffered layoffs, bankruptcies, divorces, illnesses, and deaths of loved ones, and as a result they were as likely to stumble into a better life as they were to arrive there by reasoned planning. They made mistakes before summoning the courage to get it right. Their path called into question the notion that a calling is something you inherently know when you're young. Far from it. These people discovered in themselves gifts they rarely realized they had."

So what happens? How come we don't know when we're eighteen which path is the "right" one?
Bronson says:

"Most people jump through life, asking what's next, and choosing based on where can they make the most money, what offers the most upside or opportunity. A conventional "success" story is one where, with each next, the protagonist has more money, more respect, and more possessions (Bronson, What Should...p.222)."

Sounds familiar? When we're young we are often looking for what can make us the most money, and our parents are happy to see us land a high status job. (Not me of course, I chose teaching!)But this is an oversimplified answer, which you also learn by reading the book, because unfortunately, for some of us, it takes half a life time to figure out who we are, and where our hearts are.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why I Run

I broke a personal record today and ran 4,5 miles. Yeah, maybe it's not a super accomplishment for an athlete, but for me it's awesome!

I've been a runner off and on for about four years. Though I'm not a dieter, I have a similar relationship to running, committed in periods, and then I get lazier and lazier, and eventually I stop.

Now, I hope to stick with it. My priorities have changed. Last summer I had some semi-serious heart and lung symptoms which really freaked me out. It's sad that it takes a good scare to figure out what is important in life. Today I am running to stay healthy and not out of vanity.

The hardest part with starting a running program is to get over the first painful hump. The untrained body doesn't want to exercise. My body has resisted my running work-outs until just recently. If you have tried running, you know what I'm talking about, the cramps under the ribs and the breathing difficulties --but it gets easier, I promise! After a few weeks the cramps and breathing improve, and you can run longer and longer distances.

In the beginning, I ran (slow-jogged!) five minutes, walked five minutes for thirty minutes each work-out, every other day. After about three weeks, I started running the whole thirty minutes. Back then, I covered about two miles, and it was though. Today, I ran 4,5 miles and could have continued longer.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Searching For Helpful Blogs Or EZines On Writing?

I am always looking for free writing tips through blogs, e-zines and online writing communities. But the problem with the Internet, versus going to a bookstore, is that it takes a lot longer to search and sort through its vast depot of material.

It's kind of like shopping at a discount store, or a thrift shop. To find your style and size, you have to spend some time digging, lifting, moving, and trying on.

Here are some new and old treasures.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Foods I No Longer Eat

When I go to the grocery store I read labels and look at price tags. There are some foods that I don't buy because they contain MSG or hydrogenated fats, but I am far from consistent in my shopping. Some foods slip into my cart even though I know they are bad for me. Why? Mostly because I like to eat them. They are candy, fruits, lunch meat, beef, frozen pizzas, cookies...

It's really hard to go into a grocery store and choose only healthy environmental products. Most of the stuff on the shelves contain chemicals that will give me cancer, unless I buy all organic products which I can't afford. An alternative is to not eat fast food and snacks. Or make my own snacks with organic ingredients, but that takes time (and effort).

This week I was reminded to become a better consumer. I watched a documentary called "Food, Inc." Please watch this movie, I highly recommend it. It shows how five (mega-) meat companies in the U.S. control the beef market, and how the cattle are standing around on crowded fields, knee high in their own manure. They are feed corn, soybean and chicken manure (!). Some, or a lot, of the manure end up in our food. And this is the beef that is found in the grocery stores and fast food restaurants, actually, all restaurants, unless they specialize in preparing organic meals.

Then there are the chickens and turkeys, they are kept in small houses without any daylight, and speed raised. Many of them die from complications before they even reach the slaughter houses. And of course, they are feed corn and soybeans.

So why do we produce food in this way? Yes, price! But the food is poor in nutrition, and causes cancer, obesity, and food poisoning. The corn feed cows produce a deadly E. Coli bacteria! If the E. Coli in the cow manure contaminates the beef, which happens on occasion (on the killing floor in the slaughterhouses), the bacteria end up in our food.

Have you read enough? Okay. I will stop. I won't tell you about the farmed salmon that is feed soybean and chicken manure, or about the milk cows which are given growth hormone that causes udder infections and pus in the milk....

Before you buy your next turkey, read here!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My New Career

January 19th will be my first day of PTA school. PTA stands for physical therapist assistant. It's a two year college program. This past year, I've been working on finishing my general prerequisites like English, psychology, anatomy and physiology and a few more.

This next year and a half are going to be really though, not just studying wise, but also with finding time for writing, parenting, housekeeping, running...,[big sigh]; I'm sure it will all work out.

After giving up on my teaching career, PTA school felt like the right path for me. It has many of my favorite subjects: holistic medicine, science, education, and fitness. And when I graduate, there are a multitude of areas that I can work in: hospital, private clinic, home health care, nursing home, school.

Something else, I like how physical therapy is a fairly unisex occupation. It's a field with many women, but it also attracts a lot of men. Too many occupations are either "men-jobs" or "women-jobs".

Last, but not least, the pay is good (especially for a two year college degree!), and there are jobs.

So for now, until January 19, I have a bunch of anatomy to review: all the bones and the nervous system, [another big sigh]; it's a good thing I recently took those courses.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What I Didn't Know About J.R.R Tolkien.

I missed out on a lot of reading as a child. It didn't interest me. Luckily, my mother read to me at bedtime, but it was usually mysteries from the Christian youth book club she subscribed to, and works from Swedish (I'm Swedish!) contemporary children's authors. The only classic, except for the Bible, I remember her reading to me was by Frank Baum --The Land of Oz--books, and which we both loved.

Needless to say, I have a lot of reading to do to catch up. My list of classics that I want to read, or think I should read, is long, and right now it's time for The Hobbit.

Having grown up in a fine-arts-vacuum, I had to Google J.R.R Tolkien to get the scoop on the guy. Yes, I know! I should know who he was. Be gentle with me. I'm trying here!

Anyway, so for those of you, like myself, who don't know --he grew up and died in England (1892-1973). He was this dry Oxford professor who was interested in languages. According to the article I read (see source below), he even studied Finish! Why? Beats me!

He became rich and famous in the 1960s when American hippies discovered that reading Lord of the Rings and simultaneously getting high on LSD was an excellent combination. Tolkien had to change to an unlisted phone number because crazy Californians called him in the middle of the night (7 pm USA time) asking him "---whether Frodo had succeeded or failed in the Quest---"

So far, I'm only twenty pages into The Hobbit, but I am already appreciating the wonderful and creative language. How about those names: Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, Balin and Dwalin --to just name a few. I love it!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Intolerance --A Seldom Talked About Syndrom

Christmas is only three weeks away. It's my least favorite holiday of the year. My body grows spikes like a hedgehog, and I curl up into a ball every time anyone mentions words like: shopping, gifts, decorations, lights, trees, parties and dinners.

It's a rather annoying condition. When my near and dear try to involve me in their holiday plans, I have to apply superman strength to control myself from lashing out, spitting and hissing at them. Yes, I know; I need help!

There are mainly two ingredients in Christmas that don't seem to agree with me; its emotional importance, and the gifts. Why do people, my relatives, care so much about this holiday? And why do they lie about not wanting gifts?

For my daughter's sake, who has not yet developed this rare disorder, I have to control my desire to run away (alternative: lock myself in a closet) and hibernate until January 2.

My family is well aware of my rare condition, but they have, as of yet, shown little empathy and consideration for my problem. So, if you have someone like me in your family, who shows symptoms of Christmas intolerance, see above description of hedgehog/angry cat-like behavior, go easy on them! Remember that they are suffering and can't help themselves.

As of today, Christmas intolerance sufferers don't have an official organization, and there is no research being conducted in this area.