Friday, March 7, 2014

Allie's Art Factory

Allie wants to create as much artwork as possible so she can sell it to make money.  I am completely biased, but I think she is pretty good.  What impresses me the most is how she creates her image just so, and then moves onto the next one without overworking any one piece. The only downside to her factory, is that she goes through reams of paper, and leaves them scattered all over the house, not to mention when she cuts them up into teeny tiny pieces for her collage works.










Other than her art, Allie enjoys animals.  She likes watching Wild Kratts and can give you all sorts of interesting facts on worms, honey badgers, dolphins and all sorts of other creatures.  Lately we've been collecting worms on our way home from dropping Selena off at school and letting them live in our garden, which is a good place to live because there are no moles or raccoons who are their predators.  Despite claiming that she does not like to play princesses I have witnessed her pretending to be Princess Worm.

Her tummy and other general aches and pains, and reflux still trouble her off and on.  She is gluten free and around August when I finally managed to stop accidentally feeding her gluten she seemed to get a big increase in energy.  Where she usually refused to walk, she went 3 miles without complaining.  But once school started the energy seems to come and go.  She tends to be constipated frequently.  It is really frustrating not knowing what is going on.



Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Heartache is Over

My first heartbreak came in 1994.  It was the first time I had really followed a team.  Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Kendall Gill, Detlef Schrempf, Nate McMillan, Sam Perkins were all my guys.  The Sonics had the best record in the NBA, most home wins, most road wins.  It was looking like it would be a championship season.  But it wasn't to be, they lost to the Denver Nuggets in the first round.  It was horrible.  I just remember celebrating Mother's Day at the park and being in tears.  How could this happen?

Ninety-five ended in another first round exit for the Sonics, but 95 was the year for the Mariners.  I wasn't really a baseball fan, but the Mariner/Yankee series was truly exciting baseball, and though I wasn't emotionally vested in the team I did enjoy watching them.  But the miracles they pulled off late in the season didn't extend to the next round.

In 1996 the Sonics finally made it to the NBA finals, but it was also the year Michael Jordan decided to unretire and dominate the league again.  The Sonics just weren't as good as Michael Jordan and the Bulls (and Dennis Rodman was so frustrating).

By 2001 I had been dating Floyd for a while, and we frequently watched Sportscenter over and over and I had become more of a baseball fan.  2001 was a great year for the Mariners.  They won a record setting 116 games in the regular season.  Ichiro, Boone, Buhner, Freddy Garica, Carlos Guillen, Jamie Moyer were unbeatable and fun to watch, but they didn't make it to the World Series. That was a real tough one.

2005 was the year for the Seahawks.  The Seahawks had never been good in my memory, but that year they were.  Hasselbeck, and Shaun Alexander led the team to the Super Bowl. It was the worst officiated game ever.  There were so many game impacting bad calls that still make me sick to my stomach.  It was horrible, and left me feeling like there was no way a major Seattle sports team would ever win a championship--we were cursed.

Then I had kids and it was harder to watch sports.  Seahawks made the playoffs some years and some they didn't.  The Sonics were stolen and moved to Oklahoma.  The Mariners were terrible.  Floyd and I did make it to the playoff game versus the Saints where we were a part of the Beast Quake in 2011 when Marshawn Lynch made his epic run (that video gives me chills), but I still missed a lot of games that year and only followed them loosely.

Toward the end of last year I felt like I had more time to watch football, and Russell Wilson was amazing. He was a rookie quarterback, surprise draft pick that everyone thought was horrible, he was short, and he was amazing.  They won the Wild Card game and the NFC championship game was one of the craziest up-and-down games I had ever watched.  They were so close to pulling off the come back of a life time, but didn't quite manage.  When that game ended I knew that the next year would be our year (and re-watching those highlights I can see how much better the Seahawks were this year).  I could just feel that this Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll had the champion mentality, and this was the year that Seattle could have a world championship.

We were so excited for football to start.  For the first time ever I watched preseason games (which they won).  The 12th Man is the perfect marketing strategy because it makes you feel like you are an important part of the team.  We went to a couple games and really felt like we influenced the game and that we had a job to do (and it was exhausting).  The whole season was a perfectly written story.  There were games with amazing comebacks.  We smashed our biggest rival the 49ers at home, but then barely lost to them when we were away.  Commentators claimed that the Seahawks defense just hadn't played a good offense and thought the Saints would prove that, and we throttled them.

Then it was the NFC championships, Seahawks versus the 49ers.  It had to be that way as a huge rivaly had developed between the two teams and fans from each team played it out.  I was worried about the game.
The 49ers were on a roll and were looking good.  The teams matched up well against each other and I knew it would be a tough game. It was one of the most exciting games ever, and a bit stressful too.  The last play of the game decided who won, and it was truly awesome.


Whereas I was worried about the NFC championship game I wasn't as concerned about the Super Bowl. The commentators once again tried to say that our defense probably couldn't handle a truly great offense, but I didn't believe them--and I was right.  It was the most dominating performance of the year.  It was euphoric.

The great thing is I can live the moments over and over.  I have watched the NFC championship game 4 times.  I have watched the Super Bowl game twice.  We dragged the kids to downtown Seattle to the parade despite hating crowds and knowing we probably wouldn't be able to see much.  I have listened to way too many commercials on sports radio for just the chance to hear something about the Seahawks.

I wonder why do I like this so much?  Why does this victory feel like a great life moment.  Why did I feel so much heartache when other teams lost?

I was listening to the TEDRadio hour podcast the other day and there was a segment on Mark Pagel's Ted talk about humans, language, and whether it brings us together or drives us apart.  He said that we developed language because we are social and needed a way to communicate with each other, but if that is so, then why did we develop so many different languages?  He pointed out that language is used as a clear way to delineate who is in your tribe and who is not.  Your language helps you communicate with those in your tribe and it prevents you from communicating with those not in your tribe. Humans are tribal.  This is why I get really attached to my sports teams.  It is a way for tribalism to manifest itself in my life. It is why watching my sports team win magnifies feelings of euphoria so much more than watching an individual athlete I like.  It is why the 12th Man has been so huge in Seattle.  I feel like there were so many more Seahawk fans this year then there were in 2005.  I think it is the 12th Man combined with the internet.  Facebook and Twitter has allowed our tribe to be bigger and unite more thickly.  It has been such an awesome experience and I am so thankful I have finally got to experience it, that I got to experience it with so many more people, and to be able to relive it over and over because I can easily record my TV, watch Sportscenter, listen to the radio, read it on the internet, and talk about it on Facebook.

SEA - HAWKS!!!!



Friday, January 17, 2014

2013 In Review

2013 has come and gone.  As always there is so much to do and so little time.

I have continued making apps. I came out with one app this year, a popular card game among poker players called Open Face Chinese Poker.  Even though it has poker in the name, there is no betting.  It is just a regular card game that you play to score points. When I started making apps I told myself I would not make a server based app because the maintenance would be too much work, but I didn't listen to myself.  I missed coming first to market on Android by just a week or two which kind hurt.

The good thing is that I made money this year.  For a SAHM working very part time, with completely flexible hours it was decent money.  For a freelance software developer it wasn't much.  My two free apps (Learn to Read Lite, and Kids Christmas Patttern Game) have been downloaded quite a lot.  I don't feel like conglomerating the exact data at the moment, but there have been around 200,000 downloads between the two of them on all the platforms they are on.

For next year I will be taking on some contract work from my dad for his consulting business.  I would love to release another app or two as well as get my pattern game apps on the Windows app store, but between that work, and updating the OFC app it will be difficult to find the time.

Running wasn't much of a focus this year and I did a horrible job keeping track of my mileage.  I've been logging onto Everymove this year, which is a fun site that gives you gift cards and coupons for exercising.  I even won an Xbox Kinect from my insurance company and them.  It says I ran 354 miles, but that was only starting in April, and if you don't record your exercise within three days then it doesn't count towards your rewards, so I know there are lots of runs I forgot to enter.  I feel like I was pretty consistent at about 15 - 20 miles a week.  So probably between 700 - 800 miles for the year, but who knows?

My sister and I got out for two hikes this year.  We did Mt. Si, since that is a classic around here, but neither of us had done it.  Then we did Lake Bl
anca, which was absolutely gorgeous--never had I seen a lake so blue.  It is a popular, but tough hike. There were more than a few people who we came across who were really struggling physically and it was worrisome if they were going to make it.

I did a little bit of sewing, but not as much as I would like.  I made a soft structured baby carrier for Selena's kindergarten teacher who had a baby at the end of the school year, bibs for my nephew, Halloween costumes, and helped Selena sew herself some clothes.

Selena finished kindergarten and has started first grade.  She is doing well in school and learning a lot, but finds waking up in the morning and being quiet all day kind of hard.  She has been taking gymnastics and played a couple sessions of soccer.  It has been fun to see how much she has improved.  She loves to draw and write, and is constantly making picture books.

Allie finished her first year of preschool and is onto her second.  She also has been doing gymnastics and soccer and is awesome at both.  Allie loves to draw and create and makes around 30 masterpieces a day, and cuts up about 5000 pieces of paper a day.  Allie also enjoys playing on the computer, phones, and tablets and is very tech savvy.

Floyd continues to play poker and do well.  He has mixed it up this year and has played some Pot-Limit Omaha in addition to No Limit Holdem.  He took two trips to Vegas this year (and one of them I joined him for a couple days), but did not do the WSOP Main Event. The highlight for the year was placing 3rd in a pretty big tournament.  He continues to run.  We got to go to a couple Sehawks and Sounders games this year and we always enjoy that, even when they are wet.

2013 was a good year and I am sure 2014 will be as well.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Broken Arm

Maybe it was inevitable with all the climbing Selena does, but it finally resulted in a broken bone.  Her and Allie were climbing on top of the dresser and jumping onto the bed.  Selena slipped and fell and hurt her arm. It was almost bed time and she was in pain, but there was no visible signs of injury so we went to bed.  

The next day I kept her home from school and was trying to decide if it was broken or not and I made her a homemade sling to keep it propped. I called the nurse line towards the end of the day and she said it was probably okay to monitor it for another day.  The problem is, we only have catastrophic health insurance so every doctor visit we pay out of pocket.  While we do get the insurance adjusted rates, they are still unreasonably high.  We really didn't want to pay $500 to be told it was a sprain and to ice and elevate.  

The next day she said it felt better so I sent her off to school in her homemade sling.  Oops, talk about bad parenting. :S  When she got home it was noticeably swollen so we took her to an urgent care clinic in which they x-rayed and confirmed that it was indeed broken.  They said it was a buckle fracture.  


She got a purple cast that she wore for 4 weeks, and she just got it off and so she seems to be good as new. Though she didn't really stop monkeying around.  I'd still catch her climbing on top of stuff and swinging from her one good arm. 

When my mom asked if she learned anything from the experience, she couldn't think of one thing.  When the nurse asked her how she broke it and Selena said she fell off her dresser.  
The nurse said, "Dresser?".
Allie piped up and said, "It is really fun to climb on top of the dresser and jump on to the bed."
The nurse said, "So you probably won't be doing that any more?"
They both looked at her like she was crazy, and did she not hear the part about it being really fun.  

So hopefully we won't have to deal with any more broken bones, now that we got this one out of the way.  



Sunday, November 17, 2013

Puyallup Fair

Every year we go to the Puyallup Fair in September.  It isn't as convenient to go, as it was when we lived in Puyallup, but it is bigger and more fun than the Evergreen State Fair and thus we make the trek.

The one highlight of the trip is the Mutton Bustin.  Floyd and I watched it, slightly horrified, every year before we had kids, so when we had kids of our own it seemed like they should be a part of it, even if it is absolutely insane.  Selena wanted to do it when she was three, but they said she didn't weigh enough and only let her be on the sheep in the corral, and then pulled her off when they opened the gate.  When she was four, she fell off immediately, last year she made it about half way but got stepped on and there were some tears and bruises.  This year she was ready and had been planning the perfect technique.

Allie on the other hand seemed unenthused.  They upped the age limit and it wasn't an option when she was three.  This year when asked if she was going to do it, she wouldn't answer, but when it came time to sign up she said she was ready.

Both of them did absolutely awesome.  Selena made it all the way to the end and then some.  She ended up getting second place because one other girls also made it to the end, and apparently she had a more difficult sheep.  Allie made it half way across and popped right up when she fell off.  It was fun watching.

Face painting, the Cutest Show on Earth, and of course the rides are the other main highlights.  Usually food is also a positive, but as I get older fair food just seems gross to me, and Allie is gluten free so that also limits.

video








Friday, November 15, 2013

Plants Vs Zombies Halloween Costumes

I find it so crazy that every year I make the girls costumes that surprise me in how cool they are.  I impress myself.  I find it so bizarre that I am that mom who makes cool Halloween costumes because over-the-top costumes doesn't really match my personality.  But the girls get so excited planning what they want, and they have such faith in my abilities that I don't really have a choice. :)

This year the girls decided to go as Plants Vs Zombies characters.  My brother has been playing the game for years, but I hadn't gotten around to trying it.  My sister was playing it with the girls and Allie started asking if we could get it, and Selena, Allie and I all became addicted for a short while later.  Thankfully the obsession only lasted a few weeks.

Selena wanted to be Chomper, and Allie wanted to be a Marigold, the little flower that gives you coins.

For both costumes I used this post from the Memory Nest as a guide.  The main differences were for the Chomper costume:
- I used tacky glue versus a hot glue gun.
- I used fleece instead of felt.
- For the leaves I used really thick interfacing sandwiched between the fabric and sewn around. I probably should have made them bigger than I did.
- I also used the interfacing for the teeth.

For the Marigold costume I also used the interface and sandwiched it between some white fleece and sewed it onto some elastic.

Once again I used the Heidi and Finn Urban Unisex Hoodie.  Using two layers of fleece make it really warm and thus the kids do not need a jacket when trick-or-treating.  Fortunately the lovely creator of the pattern had graded the pattern up to 6 - 12 years and I was able to buy that and get a good size for Selena. She probably could have fit in a 5T, but since she had broken her arm and had a cast I needed something a bit bigger to fit over it.

And of course my other go-to pattern, the Willow Wayfarer Hipster for Slimster, was what I used for the pants.  I am sad that Selena is just about getting too big for the biggest size for that one.  I'm not sure what I am going to do next year.  I used fleece for this which also is warm and cozy.  










Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Screen Time - The Battle of Ideologies

Welcome to the October 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Technology
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about their families' policies on screen time.
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Kids and technology is a topic that I frequently debate internally.  On one hand I prioritize physical activity as being vitally important for my children, and Richard Louve’s book Last Child in the Woods is my favorite parenting book.  On the other hand, technology is ubiquitous in our world. I can see my children learning and enjoying it, and... I make mobile apps for kids. That’s the stickler.  Am I making and profiting from something that is actually a detriment to children?
Me as a young girl playing Tetris

As for research I can find just as many studies for screen time as I can against. There are so many variables involved that most of the research I have seen, isn't very compelling one way or the other, and I am left with my own observations and my own experience.  In general, I have a difficult time restricting computer use, because I have a difficult time leading by example.  Whereas I don't watch much TV, and thus have an easier time restricting its use.

Why I think screen time is good:
  • Stories are essential to humans.  We love them, and we learn from them, and some even say we develop empathy from them.  Television and mobile devices are particularly good at letting young children get involved with and interact with complex narratives at a younger age then they could otherwise. More isn't always better, but I find it pretty cool that at five years old, my daughter understood time travel paradoxes due to My Little Pony, Storynory.com, and Harry Potter. (Harry Potter was both reading the novel, and watching the movie.)  
  • I would say that play is the most essential element to human learning.  Generally play advocates are not referring to video games, but computer and video games are play, and they are fun.  Many non-educational ones have strategy, logic and reasoning that are overall good skills to have.  I would say that there are very few lessons in school that prepare you for the logic and reasoning required to be a computer programmer, and the lessons that do exist are in math, which many people seem to have a real aversion to.  But the problem solving, and logic required to beat difficult video games are good stepping stones to the skills you need to be a software developer.
  • Alternative to play many people advocate drilling and practicing for learning, ie. flash cards, math worksheets etc.  Computer games are an ideal way to satisfy those ends without the tediousness, and boredom associated with the traditional method.  You can do more problems, in a shorter amount of time, and with more enjoyment, then with a pencil and paper.
  • There is so much information, in such easy formats.  The internet is amazing!  
Why I think screen time is not good:
  • It can be addicting.  It draws you in and can absorb you for long periods of time, making you sedentary and grumpy.  Long bouts of screen time make my kids really cranky and they fight more.  Alternatively they get so involved with what they are doing that when you make them stop because they need to eat, or we have somewhere to go, they get angry and throw a tantrum.  I have noticed the same problems with myself.
  • Lots of content is inane and probably makes you dumber.
  • The blue light from screens on at night can disrupt sleep patterns.
What we do at our house:
  • I make sure the kids get ample time for exercise and outdoor play each day.  In the summer I restrict screen time a lot more than I do in the fall/winter/spring when it rains and rains and rains.
  • I make sure the content is high quality.  On the computer I have a page setup, so they can access good quality free educational kids games.  Pbskids.org is by far the best as it doesn't have any advertisements, and the games are high quality.  For mobile devices I visit sites like smartappsforkids.com (and smartappsforandroid.com), digitialstorytime.com and App Friday where I know many of the developers and reviewers.  
  • I try to limit the length of a session.  I admit that I am not always as diligent as I should be.  My oldest tends to be fairly good at self-regulating, but my youngest would play all day if allowed.  I admit that I sometimes use a screen as a babysitter.  If I have something I need to do I may let them play for longer than is good for them, and I usually feel guilty, and regret it later due to their grumpiness.
  • I play with them, and/or encourage them to play together on the computer or mobile devices. Computer's aren't usually considered social, but when used socially they can have some amazing outcomes.  I talked a bit about this before on my other blog.   
  • I prefer for them to play computer games versus watching TV.  TV seems more passive, and I personally do not care for TV as much. 
  • Tie in what they see and learn on TV, etc with real life and/or books.  For instance when Selena really liked Bob the Builder, we got lots of library books about trucks and building, and did some building of our own.  
  • We use technology to enjoy nature.  We love to go geocaching (treasure hunting with a GPS device), and mobile devices make great cameras for recording scientific observations about bugs and plants outside, as well as animals at the zoo.
  • Overall I acknowledge screen time as a form of play, and one of many outlets for creation and creativity while also trying to prevent it from over-consuming our time and attention.
Other kind of related stuff:

Great articles about how old people always think new stuff is bad:


The fork in this road is ever more pronounced because there’s now so much more to choose from. A citizen can spend his spare time getting smarter, more motivated, and more involved, or he can tune out, drop out, and entertain himself into a stupor. The same devices deliver either or both from the online ether—and the choice that people make is one that’s going to develop early, based on the expectations of our teachers and the standards of our peers.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (list will be updated throughout the day on October 8):
  • Has Technology Taken Away Childhood? — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama worries that technology is intruding on the basic premise of childhood - active play in all forms! Join her as she takes a brief look at how play has changed as technology becomes more integrated into the daily lives of our children.
  • Fostering a Healthy Relationship with Technology — Jenn at Adventures Down Under describes her children's love of screen time and how her family implements their philosophy and policies on technology.
  • Kids Chores for Tech PrivilegesCrunchy Con Mommy shares how tying chore completion to iPad privileges worked in her house to limit screen time and inspire voluntary room cleaning!
  • Screens — Without the benefit of her own experience, sustainablemum explains her family's use of technology in their home.
  • Screen Time - The Battle of Ideologies — Laura from Laura's Blog explains why she is a mom who prioritizes outdoor natural play for her kids but also lets them have ample screen time.
  • The Day My iPhone Died — Revolution Momma at Raising a Revolution questions the role technology plays in her life when she is devastated after losing her phone's picture collection from her daughter's first year.
  • Finding our Technological Balance — Meegs at A New Day talks about how she finds balance between wanting her daughter to enjoy all the amazing technology available to her, without it overwhelming the natural parenting she's striving for.
  • Raising kids who love TV — Lauren at Hobo Mama sometimes fears what children who love screentime will grow up to be … until she realizes they'll be just like her.
  • No Limits on Screen Time? Is that Natural? — Susan at Together Walking shares misconceptions and benefits of having no limits on technology and screen time in their home.
  • Screen Time — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares what is currently working (and what hasn't) regarding screen time in her household.
  • Positive Use of Technology with Kids — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her family's experiences with early technology, shares helpful resources from around the blogosphere, and speculates on what she'd do as a parent with young children today.
  • why i will never quit you, TV — How Emma of Your Fonder Heart came to terms with the fact that screen time is happening, and what balance looks like between real and virtual life for both her toddler AND herself.
  • Technology Speaks — Janet at Our Little Acorn finds many uses for technology - including giving her child a voice.
  • 5 Ways to Extend Children's Screen Time into Creative Learning Opportunities — Looking for a way to balance screen time with other fun learning experiences? Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares 5 fun ways to take your child's love of favorite shows or video games and turn them into creative educational activities.
  • What parents can learn about technology from teachers — Douglas Blane at Friendly Encounters discusses how technology in schools enhances children's learning, and where to find out more.
  • 5 Tips for a Peaceful Home — Megan of the Boho Mama and author at Natural Parents Network shares her favorite 5 tips for creating a peaceful home environment.
  • Technology and Natural Learning — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling writes about the importance of technology as a tool for natural, self-directed learning.
  • Babies and TechnologyJana Falls shares how her family has coped, changed their use of, relied on, and stopped using various forms of technology since their little man arrived on the scene
  • Kids and Technology — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis talks about the benefits of using technology with her preschooler, and includes a few of their favorite resources.
  • Using Technology to Your Advantage: Helping Children Find Balance — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy discusses how technology can be used or abused and gives a few tips to help children learn balance.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Exercise Makes You Smarter and Happier - Infographic

I have been wanting to put this information into an infographic for a long time and have finally scraped together enough time and motivation to do so.  I find it frustrating when people only look at exercise as a way to lose weight, and if it fails to satisfy that end, they dismiss it.  I find it frustrating that schools have cut and eliminated recess and physical education when doing so is counter-productive to everything a school should be trying to accomplish, and I hate it when people look at me like I am crazy when I say so. :)


Benefits of exercise on the mind
Benefits of Exercise for Your Mind

Babyak, Michael. "Exercise Treatment for Major Depression: Maintenance of Therapeutic Benefit at 10 Months." Psychosomatic Medicine. 62. (2000): 633-638. Web. 13 Sep. 2013.

"Brain-derived neurotrophic factor." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 2 9 2013. Web. 14 Sep 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain-derived_neurotrophic_factor>.

"Dopamine." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 13 9 2013. Web. 14 Sep 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dopamine>.

Gage, Fred, perf. "New Brain Cells Anyone?." The Naked Scientist. N.p., 28 Jan 2013. web. 13 Sep 2013. <http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/interviews/interview/1000098/>.

"gamma-Aminobutyric acid." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 14 9 2013. Web. 14 Sep 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma-Aminobutyric_acid>.

Grieco, LA. "Physically active academic lessons and time on task: the moderating effect of body mass index.."Med Sci Sports Exerc.. 41.10 (2009): n. page. Print. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19727020>.

Horn, Kimberly. "Effects of Physical Activity on Teen Smoking Cessation." Pediatrics. (2009): n. page. Web. 14 Sep. 2013. <http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/09/15/peds.2010-2599.abstract>.


Erwin, Heather. "Student Academic Performance Outcomes of a Classroom Physical Activity Intervention: A Pilot Study." International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education. (July): 2012

Mahar, MT. "Effects of a classroom-based program on physical activity and on-task behavior.." Med Sci Sports Exerc.. 38.12 (2006): n. page. Print. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17146314>.

Martínez-Gómez, David. "Active Commuting to School and Cognitive Performance in Adolescents." JAMA Pediatrics. JAMA Pediatrics, 4 Apr 2011. Web. 13 Sep 2013. 

"Norepinephrine." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 14 9 2013. Web. 14 Sep 2013. 

Ratey, John J. Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2008. Print.  <http://www.amazon.com/dp/0316113514/?tag=lausblo-20>

Ussher, M. "Acute effect of a brief bout of exercise on alcohol urges.." Addiction. 99.12 (2004): 1542-7. Print. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15585045>.






Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Camping at Dungeness Recreation Area

The summer was getting close to being over and we hadn't taken a camping trip.  The girls had been talking about camping all summer, so if we didn't go I am sure they would have been disappointed.  Finding a campsite last minute in August can be a challenge.  Going on a Tuesday and Wednesday night makes it easier.

The Dungeness Recreation Area is near Sequim, WA and is right next to the Dungeness Spit Wildlife Refuge. The campground only allows reservations for half the spots in the campground, and you have to mail it in three weeks in advance.  They do have offer the ability to check how many spots have already been reserved online.  I could see that there were plenty of reservable spots still available, plus all the first-come-first-serve spots so I figured we would be good and we were.  Most of the sites are large, flat, and have a decent amount of privacy.

In the past, when we have gone camping with the kids, we have done what I have heard is now referred to as glamping.  We rent a small cabin, or platform tent where there are no bathrooms, sinks, or kitchens, but you get a bed, a roof, and sometimes a small space heater. I find it more rustic than RV camping, but not as rustic as tent camping.

I could not find a glamping site available last minute, so I figured we might as well try real camping. The bonus being it is a lot cheaper. :)  We only own a small two person tent, but I knew my parents had a large six person tent, the only problem was it was about 25 years old.  Fortunately for us, the tent was still in good condition and we were good to go.

I was a bit worried that tent camping would be stressful and more trouble than it was worth, but I think this was the most relaxing camping trip yet.  The kids are old enough that I don't have to worry about keeping track of them every single second.  There was a playground right next to our campsite, and they would go off, make friends, and we could sit at the campsite and read or play cards.  The most stressful part was the dog, who decided on the first night, to escape the tent and do a nocturnal exploration of the campground.

I precooked most of the food so all it needed was to be wrapped in foil and warmed up on the fire.  (We did have a problem in that the first site we picked didn't have a grate over the firepit, so we ended up taking our whole site down and moving to the one next to us.)  We had teriyaki beef kabobs the first night (flank steak marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, honey, garlic and ginger), and spaghetti the next night (boil water on the fire, cook noodles, drain, mix in a jar of sauce and warm a little longer). The kids had cereal for breakfast and Floyd and I had premade breakfast scramble that we warmed up on the fire.  Easy peasy.

The campground is a short walk to the entrance of the wildlife refuge.  You have to pay a few bucks to go on the wildlife refuge and then it is about half a mile walk on a paved trail til you get to the beach.  The spit is nice.  There isn't a whole lot of sand.  During high tide it is all drift wood, during low tide you get about 30 yards from the driftwood to the water.  The spit itself is five miles long.  There is a lighthouse at the end, but we didn't visit it.  It is all very nice, EXCEPT they have a ridiculous rule that you are not allowed to run farther than half a mile along the spit.  Some little old lady stopped me while I was running and told me that I would disturb the nesting birds.  I am a nature lover, and tree hugger, but this rule does not make sense.
1) I was on the sand that would be underwater in a few hours.  If there was a nesting bird where I was running they had a way bigger problem then me.

2)  I do not think a human travelling at 6 - 7 miles per hour is really all that more startling than one traveling 3 - 4.  And I could not find any evidence saying it was when I went and read some of the studies that the US Fish and Wildlife Department used to come to the conclusion that running is an inappropriate activity on refuge's around the country.  None of the studies specifically looked at running even though they were cited as such.  They just concluded that the more activity in an area, the more effect it had on the migrating bird populations.  There was no evidence that a walker was different than a jogger.

3) They allow four wheels and trucks to be used to take the caretakers out to the lighthouse and back (I saw three vehicles pass while I was on the beach for an hour).  Gas powered vehicles travelling 10 - 15 miles an hour are definitely more intrusive than a jogger.

4) One of my favorite authors, Richard Louve, talks about how when we make nature off limits, for its own good, then people don't get to experience it, and it becomes an abstract idea that people will not be prone to really protect.  Restricting the use, especially such an innocuous use, means that less people will visit the area, and thus will have no personal stake in its overall care.

5) Clamming and crabbing are allowed.  Eating the animals living at the refuge is a lot more disruptive than running by them.

Apparently this is a newly instituted rule, and really annoyed and frustrated me (if you can't tell).

On the last day we headed to the Sequim Game Farm where you drive around and feed the animals bread from your car.  I was torn on whether to go or not, because places like this are known for not having the most ethical breeding programs, and reviewers on the internet pointed out the same thing.  But we did end up going, and it was a lot of fun. Surprisingly Dyna (our dog) didn't completely freak out when llamas and zebras stuck their head in the car though she did seem to get a bit nervous about the bears, and the wolf who was tracking her from inside its enclosure.


Taking the ferry
















Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Allie's Birthday Party

A way long time ago, back in May, Allie turned four.  She had her birthday party at the Skate Deck.  I was hesitant about having her birthday there, as the few times before we had been skating she went around a couple times holding my hands and then whined and wanted to be held.  When I held her, she would swing her legs and her heavy skates would hit me in the shins, which would hurt and end in bruises.  But she insisted.

The Skate Deck is a large venue so I figured we would invite everyone in her preschool class plus a few other friends.  Her class wasn't too big (11 kids), and it was unlikely everyone would show up.  But who knew late afternoon on a Friday is a great time for a birthday party? Because almost everyone invited showed up.  Add some siblings on top of that and there were 20+ kids.  Fortunately the rink wasn't too crowded and we were the only birthday party going on, otherwise there would not have been space for everyone to have pizza and cake.

The great thing about the Skate Deck is they have these wheeled walker-like contraptions that allow the kids to hold on to for balance.  Allie hadn't tried one of these before, and it was the lure of this that made her so adamant about going.  Well the contraptions are great because her and all her little friends skated around so happily.

Allie can sometimes be reticent and slow to warm up to people thus I was surprised at how social she was with her schoolmates.  Apparently she is quite the talker at school.  All the kids hung out, skated together, while chatting, and it was pretty much the cutest thing I had ever seen.

Overall the party was a huge success and it seemed like everyone had a really good time.