Sunday, February 21, 2010

Playing Catch-up

When I revamped my blog, I told myself that I would post an entry AT LEAST once a week.  Obviously, I missed that, since it's been about 2 weeks since I last posted...oops!  Well, let's play catch-up.

On the fitness front, the week before last I got some sort of stomache bug.  Though I still went to work (the whole limited number of sick days deal is a pain in the ass), I definitely wasn't up to going to the gym on Monday or Tuesday.  Wednesday was Bryan's big 2-year promotion pitch!  So I decided to stay home and skip out on water aerobics.  I cooked him his favorite meal--meatloaf and green bean casserole with red potatoes.  I'll post my meatloaf recipe later--its actually my GanGan's recipe and it rocks!  Anyway, it did turn out to be a celebratory dinner, because Bryan got his promotion AND was converted to a permanent employee!  (The first two years of government employment are seen as "intern years").  As for Thursday and Friday, I don't have any good reason for not going to the gym...I just decided to go ahead and scratch the whole week.  That Saturday I chaperoned a Latin tournament (and spent the day wishing all students could be as well-behaved and focused as Latin students), and Sunday we went with Bryan's riding buddies (Sons of Texas) to a church down in Freeport where one of the members is the pastor.  Some assholes broke into the church about a month back and stole approximately $3000 worth of property.  Since they are a very small and relatively older congregation, it was a big blow.  The SOT passed the helmet, as it were, and raised a little over $1000 to help the church replace the stolen items.  It was a really nice experience--the congregation was so happy to see all of us, even before the president presented the check, and the sermon was engaging.  Afterwards we went to a seafood restaraunt and I ate WAAAY too much.

Last week, I went Monday to water aerobics, Tuesday for 30 mins elliptical and 30 on the recumbant bike, and Wednesday back for elliptical.  Thursday was my infusion--second dose of Remicade at the 500 level.  Dr. C was encouraged by my progress.  He's such a good doctor.  He remembered that last time I was in his office, when the Remicade still hadn't taken effect, I was worried about what my other options might be.  This time, he told me about a new drug that was just approved (after 3 years of testing), and another that is just now entering long-term clinical trials, but that is showing a lot of promise.  And of course, there's Orencia too.  But he took the time to go through all of that with me--again, he's a great doctor.  So while all that was fantastic, having to go to work the day after the infusion was brutal.  I did it in December, but that was only a half day...a full day really was bad.  I was so tired, and the fatigue lasted all the was through last night.  Truth be told, I'm still dragging a bit today, but at least its nothing that I can't overcome.  Yesterday, Bryan and I went riding with Ethan and had an AMAZING burger at this place called Christian's Tailgate.  Then we went to Bass Pro to look at some handguns (boys will be boys lol).  Last night we had dinner with Bouncer and Alicia--she made some amazing chicken and wrapped asparagus (the recipes for which I HAVE to get!).

Today Bryan and I slept in and then grabbed lunch at Potbelly's and went to the bookstore.  On Ethan's recommendation, I picked up Lost Christianities by Bart D. Ehrmen, as well as his New York Times bestseller Misquoting Jesus.  Ehrman is a former Christian (a former Baptist minister actually, as well as a hard-core Biblical scholar who can translate the new testament) turned agnostic who is currently the head of the Religious Studies department at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  I'm really excited about reading these books, which both look at Christianity and the Bible from an historical perspective.  It will definitely bring back memories of my religious studies classes at A&M...and I have missed thinking about religion on that level.  Bryan laughed at me for buying what he called "textbooks", but he's also interested to see what Ehrmen has to say.  We were both intrigued when Ethan mentioned Lost Christianities.  I'll definitely be posting thoughts and reactions to these books as I read them. 

Anyway, that pretty much catches us up!  I haven't weighed in in these two weeks...I'll save that for next time lol, and try to eat better in the week inbetween.  And so begins another week...with our Costa Rica trip only 2 1/2 weeks away!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

That Which God Hath Put Together

Yes, I know the rest of the line--"let noone put assunder".  And I completely and adamantly agree with the rest of that line.  But it is the first part of the line I'm thinking about today.

I love my husband sooo much!  And I am so very grateful that God brought us together so early in our lives.  I love spending time with Bryan--he is my best friend.  And I love our life together!

But if there's one thing I've learned (don't worry, there's more than one lol ;-)) in the past (almost) two years of marriage, it's that Bryan and I must maintain our separate senses of self in order to have a happy, healthy relationship.  Now, I'd learned that (the hard way) when we were dating.  But I think this lesson is so much more obvious when you're NOT married.  OF COURSE you need your own identity and life because (as I've actually heard someone say) after all you're not married yet!

The folks who think that marriage=two lives merging completely into one make me chuckle.  And they make me worried for them as well.  Yes, in many ways, marriage is the merging of two lives.  Bryan and I have started our own family.  While we love our families and inlaws, WE are the core family unit in our lives now.  Finances have been merged, as have pretty much any paperwork-based aspect of "real life" that you can possibly imagine.  Also, we ARE married--which means that we are bonded together emotionally and spiritually on a level that we don't share with anyone else.  In these ways, and in many others, we do share one life.

BUT sharing one life does NOT mean all aspects of that life are shared equally NOR does it mean that we are now one heart, one mind, one body lol.  Work, for example.  We do tell each other about our days, and we both have great teams of people we work with.  But I can't truly share the victorious feeling Bryan gets when he finally gets a design to come together, and then gets to build it and see his design come to life.  He can't share the incredible exiliration I feel when, after working and working, I see the light switch flip inside a student's head and see their eyes light up with understanding.  For each of us, these experiences affirm us as individuals.  I think me going to my gym and Bryan going to his is another good example of us maintaining individuality--while we are both supportive and proud of each other's efforts (and tell each other that regularly), it is nice to have time to focus on yourself and improving yourself. 

Alone time--or rather, time away from each other--also does this.  Today, for example, Bryan is on a ride with his SOT brother Ethan.  They're heading up to Sam Houston State Park, and probably won't be back til this evening.  Which leaves me with a whole day to myself!  I'm catching up on my blog (obviously) and will enjoy some time on the Wii.  I'll probably go to the bookstore later, and maybe grab a bite to eat while I'm out.  It will be a wonderful day where I get to reaffirm myself as, well, myself.  Now, all that said, that doesn't mean that Bryan and I LOVE spending time away from each other--quite the contrary.  We actually love time together and have a blast in each other's company.  As I said before, we are each other's best friend.

But, it is good for Bryan to have a day with the boys, or a day in the garage wrenching on the bikes.  It's good for me to have a day with the girls, or just time to myself.  And while I admit, I still get kinda bummed out when I don't get to go on a ride or when Bryan is in the garage instead of at the bookstore with me, I have come to know that it is much better for us--as individuals and as a married couple--to maintain our individual senses of identity.  Afterall, a marriage cannot be healthy if one partner's identity is consumed by the other's, nor can it be healthy if both people are consumed by the relationship itself--the perception of who they should be according to the titles "husband" and "wife" (though, thankfully, Bryan and I really don't have any problems with that lol).

A healthy marriage is a partnership between two individuals, balancing each other's strengths and weaknesses, and facing life together in the process.  That's what Bryan and I both wanted out of marriage, and what I'm happy to say we have found with each other.  Of course, by "found" I don't mean our relationship or marriage is a finished product--it will always be a work in progress, which makes it all the more important to retain and nourish our individual selves while at the same time working together to ensure our partnership, our marriage remains loving, open and strong.  And I know I sure wouldn't have it any other way!


Twice over the past week, the subject of revenge has come up in conversations.  One conversation was at the Roller Derby, instigated by a discussion of the book The Shack.  I have never, nor probably will I ever, read this book.  Life is a sad and tragic enough thing without me spending my reading time on something that is sad and tragic (I feel the same way about movies, which is why I will never see the movie "Precious").  There is plenty of spirtual discussion this book can engender, but the topic that we happened to address was revenge.  It started with the statement "The desire to seek revenge is human nature" and then proceeded on from there, debating whether or not this was true.  Of course, then we were interrupted by the pummeling I mentioned previously (ironically enough) and the conversation was never brought up again.

Later, I think it was Tuesday or Wednesday, I had a conversation with one of my coworkers about punishment for criminals.  Specifically, we were talking about sexual offenders, and whether or not the system treats them too harshly.  This touched on the revenge subject, specifically in that he felt the punitive system was too harsh towards some sexual offenders, seeking more revenge than justice on a case by case level. 

Those were the two incidents this week, and I figured I would record my opinions in respect to both of them, and in respect to revenge itself.  I do agree with the statement that the desire for revenge is human nature.  When someone wrongs us, it is only natural to wish to make them pay in some form or fashion.  You can see this from observing small children.  One child takes another's toy, and the child taken from hits in response or grabs the toy back.  I think this response is innate.

Some might argue that this is actually proof of a sense of justice.  I adamantly disagree.  Children have to be taught the meaning of the word "just" and must be taught to take issues to a person of authority who can sort out, going back to the pervious example, just what qualifies as a "just" response for taking a toy.  Unfortunately, this teaching process oftentimes goes horribly wrong.  Many of my students, for example, think that something is "not fair Ms." if it goes against what they, as individuals want.  They also see kicking someone's ass as "just" if that person "disrespected" them.  (And don't get me started on their definition and perception of the word "respect".)  It is clear (at least to me) that revenge is the instinctual reaction, while seeking justice is the learned behavior.

In regards to the sex offenders discussion, I did agree with my collegue that certain cases are potentially punished too harshly.  For example, the 18 year old who has sex with his/her 15 year old significant other and is found guilty of statutory rape.  At that point, if both parties were willing, I don't think one should be punished when the other is not.  After all, at that age range, you could be talking about a senior in high school and a sophomore. (Side note:  I do NOT think that ANY high schooler is ready for sex, regardless of how mature they seem.  They still have so much to learn about life and themselves.  That said, many of them ARE going to have sex anyway.)  However, I do think that a 20 year old dating any age below 18 is creepy (yes, I think even 17 is creepy, even though it is the age of consent most places).  My coworker tried to argue the "mental age" of a person should be taken into account--to which I say bullshit.  If you are 21 and have the mental age of a 16 year old, SO WHAT?  You are still 21, and have no business being in a relationship with a teenager that young.  Case in point, I'm sure some of the twisted teachers who are having sexual relationships with their students could be termed "of young mental age" but that still does NOT excuse what they are doing.  The mental age argument is way too subjective, and would also become an easily abused excuse.

In regards to rapists, I say lock them up and throw away the key.  As for child abusers, locking them up isn't nearly what they deserve, but since we are a "civilized" country, we would never condone a punishment that fits the crime in this instance.  My coworker tried to argue that many of these offenders can be rehabilitated.  Again, I cry bullshit.  Yes, there is a certain percentage of these kinds of predators that can be rehabilitated, but it is NOT the majority, and even the rehabilitated need to be held accountable for their actions.  My coworker tried to argue that, in some cases, they shouldn't be as accountable due to family situations, cultural influences, etc.  My response is that if we ever start using THAT double-edged sword as a measuring stick, noone would ever be held accountable for anything.  He still feels that our system is too focused on seeking revenge against sex offenders.  I, personally, don't have a problem with that.  Do I feel sorry for the few--again, the FEW--who are judged too harshly?  Sure.  But I am not willing to let that sympathy ease the way for the true predators.

So, back to revenge.  I think it is a natural human inclination, and that, when tempered by learned justice, it is not altogether a bad thing.  That said, there are times when it is wrong to pursue revenge against someone who has personally wronged you.  It is at that point, at least for me, that my faith comes in.  I believe God will hold everyone accountable for the wrongs they have done to others (myself included, of course), for he is a just God.  I just try to have faith that--as corny as it sounds--what goes around comes around, and that they will be held accountable for their actions in one way or another.  Maybe by their actions bringing misfortune on themselves in this life(which will hopefully instruct them on how NOT to treat the people around them).  Maybe it won't happen til the next life.  I do believe that if you have repented, you will be forgiven, but I do not think that forgiveness absolves us of accountability.  We will have to answer for the wrongs we have done to the one that has never done any wrong.  And I can't imagine a better punishment than standing before God and having to own up to the hurts you have caused others, without excuses, lies, or misdirections to shield you.

Weekend Workout Report

Alright!  Saturday once again!  Time to report in on this week's workout routine!  I have to say, I am pretty proud of myself for completing week two.  My goal starting out was to go 3-4 times a week, and last week and this week I met the 3 times a week goal.  Granted, the four times a week goal was to include the 9am Saturday water aerobics class.  I am typing this at 8:59 am, I clearly have not made this morning's class a priority.  And I'm completely fine with that!  Lol.   Bryan and I have also been eating a lot better--more salads, grilled meats instead of fried, and smaller portions.  And on a side note, Bryan has started working out again too--I am so proud of him!!  Ok, now on to this week!

First of all, today's weigh in.  BMI: 24.09, Weight: 159lbs
This is the first time sine shortly after Bryan and I got married that I have gotten below the 160lb mark!!!  I am so excited, and even more determined to stick with my new workout habits. 

As far as this past week went,

Monday:  I left for the gym at 5:30.  This departure time allows me to get in a 10 minute warmup on the elliptical before the 6pm water aerobics class, which lasts until about 6:50.  And let me tell you, Tanya keeps us moving the whole time!  She really is a fantastic instructor, and reminds me when I need to modify the exercises to avoid aggravating the RA.  I met another classmate on Monday--Katie--who works at NASA.  She only comes to Monday classes, but she's very nice and it's good to know someone at the gym.

Tuesday:  Day off.

Wednesday:  Repeat of Monday, except this time it was Tanya, Kelly, Ramona, and Heather that I joined in the pool.  This was the first class that I used the resistance weights THE WHOLE TIME!!!  Whoop!

Thursday:  I was going to go, truly.  But I had students come for tutoring, and we didn't get done with that until 3:35.  THEN I realized I forgot my yogurt (which I usually pack on days where I head straight to the gym, so I'm not working out on an empty stomache).  So, I decided to head home.  Then I found out Bryan's meeting was cancelled!  It all worked out very nicely.

Friday:  I got to the gym by 3:15!  I did 10 minutes on the elliptical, and then headed for the weights and such.  I did:
         1 set 20, 1 set 10 wall-ball squats with a 6 lb medicine ball held up in the air.
         1 set 20, 1 set 10 balance ball crunches with the same medicine ball in the air
         1 set 20, 1 set 10 on the leg press at 90lbs
   break to walk up and down the staris twice to keep my heartrate up
         2 sets 10 on each leg at 15 or 20lbs on the butt machine
         1 set 10, 1 set 10 on leg extensions at 20 lbs
   break to walk up and down the stairs twice again
         2 sets of 20 isometric oblique twists
         1 set 20, 1 set 10 hip thingys (machine where the pads are on your inner thighs and you squeeze together) at 40 or 50 lbs
         an uncounted number of reps on the oblique machine at about 30 lbs
         2 rounds of holding myself in my modified plank position (on my forearms and toes, keeping my body straight and flat engaging my abs) for as long as I could (which wasn't all that long, but will hopefully increase over time)
        And then back to the elliptical for another 20 minutes

All in all, it was great workout, and though I left feeling a bit shaky and tired, I also felt energized and the stress from school that day (where students decided it was ok to talk back to me constantly) had melted away!  I think I will be sticking with the M-W-F routine...if I go on Tuesday or Thursday it will be because noone came to tutoring and I will do an hour of elliptical/recumbant bike.  I am so excited to be working out regularly again--I had truly forgotten how much I love feeling the burn of aerobics and weights!  And I'm also unbelievably grateful that Dr. C and I have found the medicine (Remicade) and the dosage (500) that has actually started getting my RA back under control.  Without that, this whole workout regimine would probably have not taken shape.  Whoop for Remicade and getting healthier!!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wii and Roller Derby

On Sunday, I finally got to do something I'd been meaning to all week.

 Laundry?  Nope.  Dishes?  Nope.  Vacuuming?  HELL nope.

I got to play several uninterrupted hours of Zelda: Twilight Princess!!!  Bryan was off at an event with his motorcycle buddies, so I took the opportunity to beat the fortress in the Gerudo desert, and start the trek to Snowpeak!  It was wonderful!  I LOVE the cool is sooo much fun!

Also exciting is that once I beat Twilight Princess, I have the new Final Fantasy game to embark upon!  And if no more good quest games appear for the Wii between now and when I beat FF, I'll just go bakc an replay Okami!  I love my video games!

On Sunday evening, we went to an actualy Roller Derby match!  Our friend Julie skates on a team, but they don't play til later this month.  The match was between the Texas Dolls and the Pussycats, and it was absolutely crazy to watch!  It was highly entertaining:  basically, each team has one skater trying to get throught the "pack", which is made up by members of both teams.  Members of the pack are trying to help their skater break through first (so that she can score points) and hinder the opposing team's skater.  At first, it started out civily, but then the girls started getting PISSED OFF.  Fouls were everywhere--and one girl even headlocked another, threw her down, jumped on top of her and started beating the crap out of her!  And the penalty "challenges" were half punitive, half raunchy (ie, girl leg wrestling, pillow fights, etc.).  Oh, and all the girls were in either tights and short shorts or skirts, or tutus, with low-cut shirts.  All in all, very entertaining, but very strange!  Like a violent Rocky Horror Picture Show on wheels!

This week has been ok so far.  Water aerobics on Monday and again today.  The kids are behaving (for the most part--except the one boy today who used the "n" word in my class AGAIN and then never went to office when I wrote him up) and since it's a test/project week, work is pretty laid back.  At home, I've started rereading some of the Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey.  It's always wonderful to pick up an old book--it's like talking to an old friend.  And these books are very old friends--I found Arrows of the Queen in junior high (library rat that I was)!  Anyway, I'm going to go spend some time with Bryan until 5:30, when it's off to water aerobics I go!
Fun fun fun :-).


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