Monday, January 23, 2012

When I Grow Up...

Well, it's official: when I grow up, I want to be like Julia Child.  Or, at the very least, I want to be like the Julia Child that is depicted in the movie Julie and Julia.  Have you ever seen it?  Such a great movie.  For those who haven't had the good fortune of watching it, here's a little recap:

Julie is a young secretary for a government agency who wants to be a writer.  On a whim, and with the support of her husband who suggested the project, she decides to cook her way through Julia Child's cookbook and blog about the experience.  The movie cuts back and forth between Julie's cooking/blogging experiences and Julia Child's life.  Meryl Streep is amazing as Julia Child, and portrays her as such a fun, energetic, accessible person.

Anyway, after watching the movie, I decided I wanted to know more about this Julia Child person.  Was she really as great as she seemed to be in this movie?  Was her life depicted accurately?  Did she really do all the things the movie said she did?  From what I gathered in my 2 or 3 hours of online research (ok, possibly not the most reliable sources, but when one is home bound due to an overabundance of little screamy munchkins, one takes what is most readily available!), Julia Child seems to have been a person that I would like to emulate. 

I know what you're probably thinking, and while I would like to "master the art of French cooking," that's not really the trait I most admired about her.  Actually, what most impressed me about Julia Child was the fact that she didn't let any of her circumstances keep her from achieving her goals.  Specifically, I was drawn to the fact that this lady was SIX FOOT TWO back in the 1930s, when the average height of a female American was FIVE FOOT FOUR (yes, I researched this information...again, I'm aware that I am a nerd, but weird random facts like this fascinate me).  So, basically, she was gigantic -- almost an entire foot taller than most other people -- and yet she went on to be a famous tv personality with a cooking show. 

Why did this feat strike such a chord with me?  Well, to be honest, I have a love-hate relationship with my height.  I'm not absurdly tall like Julia was in her day...pushing 6' is really just slightly taller than average now a days.  However, I've been this height since 8th grade.  And six feet tall is mighty stretchy for an 8th grader.  My height made me a force to be reckoned with on the volleyball and basketball courts, but also made me vulnerable to lovely nicknames like the "Jolly Green Giant" (obviously every adolescent girl's dream nickname...I know you're jealous.)  As I continue to gather information and refine my goals for my big New Year's Resolutions project, I've done a lot of reflecting on my life, trying to figure out why I have the strengths and weaknesses I currently possess, and trying to determine what pieces of my past and present I need to confront in order to make my future happier.  When I see someone whose traits I admire -- as I did with Julia Child when I watched the movie -- I've been trying to also figure out WHY I find those characteristics so admirable.  What deficit in my own character is causing me to pause and take notice of her particular strengths?

Anywhooo...long story short, or at least slightly shorter, I don't want to let the things that I can't change about my physical appearance keep me from reaching my goals.  Sadly, I have come to the realization that my body will NEVER EVER EVER be the same after carrying two almost 7 pound twins to 35 weeks.  EVER.  It makes me a little sad, I'm not gonna lie.  Sometimes I look in the mirror and don't even recognize the person staring back at me.  Occasionally, on a particularly bad day, I look in the mirror and wonder if I am witnessing an evolutionary miracle, and hippos have begun to walk upright on two legs.  Ok, maybe that's a little extreme.  But you get the idea.  I'm tall.  I've always been tall.  After thirty-something years, I've come to terms with the fact that I will be the tallest person in the room approximately 80% of the time.  People will probably look at me and think, "Wow...she's pretty tall!"  And that's ok with me.  However, I have NOT always been "big and tall."  Alas.  But I've decided that on those awful days when I look in the mirror and feel like Shirley Temple would have been thrilled to unwrap me for Christmas (please tell me you've heard this is by FAR my favorite non-spiritual Christmas song, and you seriously need to look it up if you haven't heard it), I will think of Julia Child and remember how, at six foot two, she boldly took on the cold, often snooty culture of the French and MADE them love her.  She waltzed into a male-dominated, highly respected culinary institute and did whatever it took to make herself successful.  At six foot two, she didn't think to herself, "I'm humongous...what will people think if I do a COOKING show?"  Or, maybe she did.  I don't know.  But I do know this: if that thought ever ran through her head, she silenced it, conquered her fear, and went on to greatness.  So, add this to my list of things to incorporate into my magnum opus of a Resolution project: Someday, I want to be like Julia Child.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I can't remember if I've said this in my blog or not, but I've decided to start my New Year's Resolutions in February this year. January has been, and will continue to be, my planning period, as I am cooking up something really special for 2012.  I've been reading like crazy, and I have some REALLY good ideas for what I want to do.  I just have to organize those ideas into one cohesive, massive project.  Have any of you read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin?  I'm almost through with this book, and it will be the foundation for my 2012 Resolutions.  I'm also reading a really beautiful book called A Simple Act of Gratitude by John Kralik, and I'm hoping to incorporate elements from this book into my project as well.  Anywhooo...I'll update you on my resolutions as soon as I get them down on paper and organize them coherently.  But, in the mean time, I have an interesting question for you to consider.  Typically, when I begin reading and pondering a subject, ideas about that subject seem to inundate my brain from all directions.  Such is the case right now as I strive to better myself and create a happier, improved version of myself in 2012.  A question was posed to me the other day that I've been thinking about a whole lot ever since:

Are you who you are today BECAUSE OF the people in your life, or IN SPITE OF them?

In other words, do the people around you lift you up and encourage you to become the best version of yourself that you can possibly be, or are you striving to become a better person even though the people around you are (either intentionally or inadvertently) weighing you down or holding you back?  Isn't that an interesting question?  I had never really thought of the people in my life in these terms, and it has really made me step back and take a good look at the people I've surrounded myself with and the relationships I've fostered and nurtured.  I'm happy to say that, for the most part, I think I am who I am today BECAUSE OF the people I've let get close to me, with only a few exceptions. 

This question, in turn, made me think about my role in the lives of others.  Am I the kind of person that others would say helped them become better people?  Or would they say that they have become who they are despite my influence?  My mind immediately went to coaching and teaching, and I started wondering how much of a difference I really made in the lives of those I've taught.  It's funny, but I think the years when I struggled the most are the ones where I made the most difference in the classroom. 

My first year of teaching at Magnolia West HS was such a challenge.  I was given classes FULL of kids who, to me, seemed to be striving to survive or even excel IN SPITE OF the people around them.  My students struggled with absentee parents, poor choices in friendships, even other teachers who had written them off as "stupid" or "problem children"...the list seemed to go on and on.  These kids seemed to have so many problems that teaching them the content of my class seemed kind of trivial and ridiculous.  How do you teach a kid whose parent just went to jail AGAIN for selling drugs to care about what is going on in South America?  How do you get a kid who lives in a tiny trailer with no electricity and has never traveled outside the area of his zip code interested in Chinese culture?  In the grand scheme of things, did learning World Geography REALLY matter to this group of students?

I think it did.  Not because they will ever need to identify a fjord in real life...they will probably never travel to Scandinavia.  I can't imagine many of them having a practical use for knowledge about quipu (for you non-geography buffs, quipu were these cool knotted cords used in the Incan empire for record keeping even though they had no written language...yeah, I find this stuff fascinating...I know, I'm a nerd.  I've come to terms with it.)  Realistically, they probably won't ever even need to use most of the information we discussed about the United States.  However, I do think that it was important for me to teach these concepts to this particular group of students.  I think the message I sent that very first year at MWHS was this: YOU MATTER.  YOU CAN LEARN.  YOU CANNOT JUST SLIP THROUGH THE CRACKS IN MY CLASS BECAUSE YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO ME.  I hope that some of these kids felt my love for them, and that it made a small difference in the way they saw themselves and in the choices they made.

My mind was also immediately drawn to the kids I've coached.  The girls I had my very first year as a club coach will always have a special place in my heart.  I was blessed with the most amazing little team of 13 year old girls that year, and they have since grown up to become the most wonderful, talented, smart group of young women.  Who they have become, in my opinion, is a testament to the many wonderful people they've had in their lives.  I have seen first hand the HUGE advantage kids with involved and interested parents have over kids who lack this support, and this team of girls had some of the best parents ever.  Many of the moms and dads I got to work with that first year helped shape who I am as a parent today.  These were people who, through their example, became "BECAUSE OF" people in my life, and I hope that I was able to give back to them by being a "BECAUSE OF" person to their child.

So, to you, my one or two loyal readers, I pose the question:  Are you who you are today BECAUSE OF the people you've made important in your life, or IN SPITE OF their influence?  And, likewise, are others that share their lives with you better off BECAUSE OF you, or IN SPITE OF you?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mental Tantrums and Other Lovely Side Effects of Sleep Deprivation...

Ok, how many of you have seen the movie Meet the Parents?  This morning, I had a Meet the Parents moment.  You know the part where Greg is on the airplane and they want him to check his bag, but he doesn't want to, so he gets into an argument with the flight attendant?  Well, here's the exact quote from the movie, and then I'll explain how it relates:

Greg Focker: If you would take a second...and take the little sticks out of your head and clean out your ears, maybe you would see that I'm a person who has feelings, and all I have to do is do what I wanna do!  All I wanna do is hold onto my bag and not listen to you!

Hahaha...just thinking about that part of the movie makes me giggle.  But, this morning, I seriously thought I was going to have a meltdown.  Here's a very condensed version of the backstory:

Last night, the girls didn't go to bed until around 3:00 a.m.  Then, Finau woke me up at 4:00 when he went to work and I didn't get back to sleep until around 5:00.  Then, Ilaiasi had to be at the bus stop by 6:30 (I'm ashamed to admit that I slept through my alarm, and Ilaiasi had to come and wake ME up at 6:15 to tell me he was ready for that kid!).  And, to top it all off, Ovaka woke up at 7:00, just as I was drifting back off to sleep, and I had to get up for the day.  DANG IT!!! So, needless to say, my morning has been a little rough since I'm running on almost no sleep. one point this morning, all three kids were screaming their adorable little faces off, and for just a split second, the Meet the Parents scene flashed before my eyes and I wanted to crumble up in a little ball and do my own version of Greg's airplane rant.  In my mind, I screamed, "I'm a person who has feelings, and all I have to do is do what I wanna do! All I wanna do is GO TO SLEEP and not listen to you!"  Hehehe...the moment has passed, so I can giggle about it now, but there was definitely a second there when I was seriously contemplating throwing my own little fit, sticking every baby in a crib, and crawling back under the covers for a little mid-morning snooze.

So, three cheers for me for NOT neglecting my sweet babies this morning!  Sadly, it's come to that: me patting myself on the back for doing just slightly more than the bare minimum.  Pretty much all day long, I give myself little pep talks and kuddos for things I totally took for granted once-upon-a-time-in-a-lifetime-far-far-FAR AWAY.  I vaguely remember the days when I was able to clean my entire kitchen -- or, heck, my entire HOUSE if I was ambitious enough -- without interruption.  Now, I feel like I deserve some grand award if I'm able to do multiple loads of dishes and/or laundry in the same day.  Seriously.  No, SERIOUSLY.  It's either very comical or extremely depressing, depending on your viewpoint.  I'm choosing to see it as funny.  The smell eminating from my undone dishes...somewhat less funny.  Luckily, I got one load of dishes done yesterday and another done this morning, so I only have about half a load left, and my kitchen is decidedly less smelly than it was yesterday.  What's that, you say?  You'd like to congratulate me on my awesome time management and parenting skills?  AND you want to give me an AWARD for my efforts?  Well, WOW...I don't know what to say...this is so unexpected...HAHAHAHA...yes, I am having another mental conversation with myself.  I'm really hoping the continuous mental dialogue is a side effect of the sleep deprivation and not a permanent personality defect.  It may also have something to do with the lack of adult interaction in my life...I'm not sure.  At any rate, it's nice to blog because then at least it FEELS like I'm talking to someone besides myself...whether or not that's actually true is a bit irrelevant to me at this point.

So, to update you on my Christmas presents from Pod (if you don't know what I'm talking about, read the previous blog post), I did, in fact, get a soldering iron, a MINI blowtorch (thank goodness it's tiny...not at all what I was picturing, and much more useful than what I had envisioned as well!), some solder (I don't think it's the right kind for my jewelry, but I'm not sure yet), some flux (used with the solder to fuse pieces of metal together), and he also threw in some random junk for good measure: wood touch-up markers in varying colors, a $15 Olive Garden gift card, and I know there's something else I'm forgetting, but I can't think of what it is just now.  Have I mentioned how much I love my dad's presents?  I mean, come many of you got an assortment of markers designed to touch up any nicks or scratches on your wood furniture from YOUR dad for Christmas?  I'm betting none of you were so fortunate.  I love my Pod...he's NUTS.  Anyway, my stepdad Bryan came over and showed me how to use the soldering iron.  Not nearly as scary as I thought it was going to be.  It seems pretty straight heat up the item you want to stick something to, slather on a little bit of flux, melt the solder onto the flux whilst holding your two pieces together, and voila! your pieces are joined for good.  Bryan made it look easy.  I'll be honest...I'm still kinda scared.  I'm going to go to the little bead and jewelry shop that I frequent and see if they can give me any tips.  They have a soldering class that I want to take, but they only do it once a month, and this month I have to coach a tournament on that day, so maybe February will be my month.  We'll see.  Until then, do any of you have any words of wisdom or good soldering advice for me?  Does anyone out there know if it's even possible to solder non-tarnish wire without ruining the color of the wire?  I may have to get some new wire...I'm not sure yet.  I'm very eager to learn, though, and can't wait to get started.  One of these days, when my kitchen is FINALLY clean and the 3 ft. deep pile of laundry is done, I'll start making jewelry again.  Don't's one of my New Year Resolutions...along with my resolution to "keep this year's resolutions."  No, really...I'm going to do it this year.  No, REALLY.  What, are you calling me a liar?  Oh, sorry...conversing with myself again.  Another resolution?  POSITIVE SELF TALK.  But, let's save my resolutions for another post.  Until then...HAPPY NEW YEAR everybody!!  Have a marvelous day.  Get some sleep if you're fortunate enough to have that luxury.  And feel free to leave me a comment so that I know I'm not talking to myself on here, too.  ;)