28 July 2008
Deci's research into the counterproductive effects of threats and rewards has been replicated among high school students learning verbal skills, preschoolers trying to draw, and adults targeted by weight-loss, anti-smoking and traffic safety programs. In each case, external threats and rewards made it less likely that people would feel internally fired up about the goal.
So why are rewards and punishments employed so liberally?
"People like it because it is easy," Deci said. "It is easy to offer a reward, but it is not easy to help people find their own motivation."
24 July 2008
1993 - 2008
Spike live in my mom's kitchen for 15 years. We got him because our neighbors daughter got what she was told were 2 girl rabbits, but 29 days later it was discovered that they were one of each and now they had 6 babies to find homes for. We got Spike and his brother, Raven, as they only found homes for 4 of the babies and we were a known rabbit family. Once they could be weened from their mother, Spike came to live in our kitchen and Raven became a "working rabbit" out back. This meant his hutch had a mesh bottom so his poops went into a pan underneath and mom collected them for her rose bushes. Spike was a working rabbit too, although litter box trained, and before going green was so hip, mom used all natural litter and would dump his box straight into our double barrell compost bin. Can you tell my mom has some of the best gardens in the neighborhood? Raven also learned to dump his food dish to entice wild rabbits to come visit, so it was quite the rabbit yard in more ways than one.
But back to the rabbits...You could hold them in one hand they were so little. Mom wanted to name them Fluffy and Snowball, but my dad, brother, and I refused. I started calling Fluffy Spike, and it stuck. I wanted to call the outdoor one Mud, as he was pure white and obviously with some angora in his little rabbit lineage. One of mom's sayings growing up was "If you do that again, your name is going to be MUD!" Anyway, dad nixed Mud as a name and came up with naming the white rabbit after a black bird. Yes, we have warped senses of humor.
Raven died a few years back at the ripe old age of 13, and Spike just kept on. He was always gentle having never known anything but kindness. He like bananas, which cracked Natalie up and she loved sharing a morning banana with Spike when we visited papa and grandma's house. When Spike was just a few years old, we had a carrin terrier and my grandmother (Busia) living with us. Carrin's are supposed to eat small rodents, but she didn't seem to mind Spike. Spike was also excellent with his litter box so he got to hop around the kitchen. Then he learned that Busia gave out treats, something the dog knew since she didn't get treats from our table. Next thing you know, there's the dog sneaking off in that way dogs sneak where they don't let their toenails clack on the tile floor, and there's Spike, sneaking off behind the dog, where Busia would give the dog puppy treats and the rabbit some cucumber. We would watch the whole thing quietly so as not to let on that we knew what was happening and would be in tears by the time they came scampering back. It was like having two naughty 4 year olds in the house.
Spike had mirrored grandpa lately - incontinence, falling over, inability to focus...but was still pretty chipper even when we were there last month. Tuesday he could move and didn't want to eat. The really telling sign that these were his last days was when the dog (now a bison frise) started to lick him in, not in that mmm-tasty-rabbit kind of way but in that somethings-not-right kind of way. She'd also lay by his cage and come check on him often. It was obvious he wasn't getting better, so mom took him to the vet yesterday, where a very curious vet wanted the chance to check out what extreme old age does to a rabbit, and it was decided he should be put to sleep. So rest in peace little Spike, up there in the big carrot patch in the sky.
23 July 2008
A - meet our co-op class at the park like usual and play as long as possible, then hit the Y for a workout;
B - go to the park, but rain starts before we can get a really good run around in, then hit the Y followed by a trip to Barnes & Noble to play on their train table in the kids section;
C - can't go to park, so we go to the Y, then mommy showers and we head over to the indoor toddler gym. This is the most expensive option, not because the $10 to go the the toddler gym is so much ($10 for my sanity? Yes please!), but because my friend told me the shoe store next door is having a huge sale. And there's a great toy store in that shopping center, the kind with lots of wooden toys and learning toys and books and the works. The kind that tempts me to spend way too much money.
(Someone just ran in and showed me how she can put all the marker caps on her fingers. Great. She's already discovered that you can do the same thing with olives.)
Speaking of books, anyone seen the story about "The Mole Who Knew It Was None Of His Business"? about a mole who wakes up to find someone has pooped on his head and he goes around trying to find out who did it? They even have a 'plop up' version out. I read this in French yesterday to my friend's 10week old at playgroup. I had seen the English version and it's just hysterical. Somehow poop in French is quite funny, too. Ty liked it, but then again, he's 10 weeks old and likes most anything if it involves cuddling and fun sounds.
My big freelance project of this summer is done. Not finalized done, just done enough that I sent in my final first draft, an invoice, and am waiting for comments so we can edit. Editing is much more painless than writing these sorts of things. But because this is done, I feel like I finally have some time on my hands guilt free to do some fun things. And I have enough money coming to me that we can really seriously start kitchen cabinet shopping.
Saying we're redoing the kitchen sounds so extravagent - visions of granite countertops and fancy lighting and tiled floors and such come to my mind. Really, we're fixing it up because in our worse-case-scenario-we-have-to-sell-the-house-in-this-crummy-market format of home repairs, we couldn't sell this house with the kitchen the way it is. The cabinets are half stripped (As far as I got before getting pregnant), no doors, and even if they weren't, they came with the house covered in about 6 layers of paint (I did the stripping, so I know this as a fact - including on some, a layer of WALLPAPER), and were covered with flower decals. Yeah. Made me shiver too.
Our plan is to install cabinets on the wall that has nothing (currently a chefs shelf overflowing with stuff), including a countertop and a shelf to raise the microwave off the countertop. Then replace the cabinets that are only along one wall with cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling, and better maximize the space. This also includes knocking down three walls of sheetrock that are covered floor to almost ceiling with ugly bathroom tiles. The cabinets will be new, we'll have to pay a contractor to install, and we'll spend the extra on our electritian to put an extra outlet or two up (only have one free one to use and half of it has the phone plugged into it), to move the garbage disposal switch from inside a cabinet to something more normal, like over the sink, and to wire up an exhaust hood for the stove (yeah, don't have one of those) as well as some undercounter lights (I could take it or leave it, but Jim really wants these). That's it. We're going to use the same sink (probably need a new facuet just because ours is falling apart), and stock countertops from home depot. Anything is better than the stained ones we have with the faint tiki-pattern on them circa 1960s. Then a touch up of the light pale yellow paint we put up last year and we'll be 10x better in no time.
THEN, sometime next year or the year after, the fun happens. Ok, new cabinets are going to be pretty cool. We'll splurge on cool counter tops, some fun tile for a backsplash (recycled glass is my first choice at this point), an undermount sink, and maybe if the budget allows, a proper tile floor instead of the vinyl tile we put down last summer as a quick but sturdy fix. The nice thing about a small kitchen? You can splurge on some of the fancy things simply because you only need about 5 feet plus 2 feet of counter top. Being in DC, we can probably find some 2nds or returns that can be cut down to fit. And maybe we'll go with a neutral backsplash but do a strip of funky mosaic. Anyway, that's for another freelance project, and hopefully one that is way more fun than the past two I've worked on.
22 July 2008
21 July 2008
16 July 2008
2 cups ground whole oats and 1/2 cup ground almonds(I use the coffee bean grinder to pulverize them into a nice powder), 1 stick of butter, softened. Use a fork or pastry blender to mix till pea sized lumps form. Press most of the mixture (you'll need the rest later) into a pie plate (Bottom and sides). Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Cool.
1 and 1/2 packages cream cheese (softened), 1 egg, 1 pkg vanilla sugar free pudding mix, 1/4 cup milk. Use electric mixer to whip these all together till nice and smooth. Smear into pie crust.
3-4 fresh peaches, sliced thin. Arrange slices in a pretty pattern of your choice on top of the cream cheese filling.
1/4 cup whole oats, 1 tsp vanilla, sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg, 1/4 cup agave (nectar of the gods). Combine with the rest of the pie crust mixture till crumbly. Optional: 1-2 tbsps brown sugar (I find brown sugar to give such a nice bit of carmel flavoring to toppings that agave doesn't, so I cheat and use a smidge sometimes). Sprinkle over top of peaches. Bake in 350 oven for 25 minutes, till top is just brown. Let cool, serve straight from the fridge.
This was absolutely delish, and my non-sugar-watching friends didn't realize it was practically a health food! Best compliment ever, in my opinion. We will be making this again. The crust feels almost graham crackery, the inside is like cheese cake, and then the peaches and crumble are so yum.
15 July 2008
So I went to the craft store tonight in a fit of desperation and combed through my odds and ends to creat Mamma's Sanity Box. It contains all matter of things from pipe cleaners to scraps of wrapping paper, pom-poms, glue sticks, stickers, safety sisscors, to bits of ribbon, feathers, and odd buttons. Throw in some construction paper and a few old magazines and it's an afternoon of fun. It's stuff that I can have her doing and walk away from knowing that I'm not going to come back and find my curtains have been colored in (already happened, and when crayola says "washable" they aren't kidding - curtains are back to white with nary a hint of wrong doing). Hopefully, she can be busy and I can just sit and read a book for a little break. That's all I want. Or to check my work email - not really "do" work, just check email and reply back quickly if needed. Or maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to go to the bathroom. ALONE. Although it is kind of nice being told "Wow, mamma! Good job doin' poopies in da potty! Natalie flush fors you."
14 July 2008
Anyway, my life is much more pedestrian than to sit around contemplating the existance of knowledge. Instead, our playgroup discussions have gotten way lively lately, with two pregnant women and one who recently popped out #2. The two preggos are in that erotic dream stage of pregnancy, and they like to share. Deb has had sime interesting encounters with our old tennant in hers, Sylvia's are mostly ex boyfriends who show up in her shower or back yard or other inappropriate places. No lesbian dreams yet, but Alice said she had a few of those when she was pregnant. You can tell I consider each of these women a best friend, because this is definitely conversation fodder that would not appear in chats with most of my other friends. You gotta love a friend you can talk about sex with. Thank God for la leche league, too. Total fluke that we all ended up at the same meetings - there are others in the area, but we all went to this one and that's how we met, and here we are 2 and a half years later, still hanging out. We just need to hang out more sans kids and with alcohol more often, LOL!
Here's a dilemna I'm having - say you hooked up with an old friend on facebook or myspace or something. You guys had kind of lost touch in college, mostly because she turned flakey thanks to a large dosage of pot she started smoking on a fairly regular basis. Then graduation came, she moved home and you moved to another state and you that was the end. Then, because she has a totally unique name, you find each other later. Both in commited relationships, with jobs and a mortgage. Yay! It's been fun catching up, we picked up like we left off many years ago. Now another person you were friends with in high school finds this other friend with the unique name. Now unique name friend recommends you be a friend with this other friend. This other friend is one I stopped talking to sophmore year because she went from shy, quiet, hard worker to sorostitute who only slept with the kappa sig guys, as if that was somehow ok? Here I was rowing crew, working, and with an insane course load, yet she wasn't shy about telling me I was boring, bland, and beige. Thanks, "friend." I could care less about this person who turned what was a good friendship into something that made me feel like shit and I was happy to be rid of her from my life. Now, do I acknowledge her on this networking site? Try to start something that hasn't existed for 10 years? Wait for her to acknowledge me? Do this stupid junior high-esque dance for ages? The three of us were all so close - we did everything together in high school. We would hop on a greyhound to visit in the begining of college when we were all sans cars. I don't know. This is one of those downsides to the internet I think. In past generations, I wouldn't know how to find her unless we somehow stumbled upon each other in the street. Whatever. I can't let this stress me out.
I've got work to do this week, and what was a relatively empty calendar is filling up fast. My hour of sesame is almost up and we're off to the Y. Then, I don't know. I'm hoping last weeks napping strike was just a phase, because I was a wreck. I'm not ready to give up those hours of downtime (and work time). Fingers crossed the wee beasty sleeps today!
10 July 2008
08 July 2008
I was wondering if we promised to stimulate the economy more, would they send us another? Most of this one has already been put into the dreadful US economy, thank-you-very-much-new-tennant-and-Jim's-manic-urges-to-fix-up-the-basement-even-more; I'd be happy to support, say, a local window installation company to replace the two cold war era windows in the basement...
And, for your viewing pleasure, a video, which we will show potential boyfriends in approximately 13.5 more years:
05 July 2008
#1 - I'm not pregnant. I kind of didn't think I was, but 5 days of nausea and headaches, and not to go into to much detail, but lets just say timing was exactly on par as compared to the weeks before finding out I was pregnant with Natalie. So I thought it would be best to pee on a stick to make sure.
#2 - Still haven't grieved for grandpa. My friend offered to come over with a sad movie to get things started (either that or get me drunk - hahahaha). But somehow addressing it as something I need to do helps. Kind of allows me to compartmentalize that and push it to one side for later. I also know "later" really needs to be "soon."
#3 - Since I'm not pregnant, the headaches and nauseau and insomnia and general malaise have got to be because I'm stressed out of my gourd. Not sure how to deal with that other than checking myself into a spa for 3 days, but I think I may declare tomorrow a mental health day and pack up and head for the coffee shop for most of the afternoon. A long sit with a book, ipod, journal, crossword, coffee, or just staring into space may be in order. It's at least someplace to start and is a hell of a lot cheaper than 3 days at a spa.
#4 - Our new tenant is a med student in the military and is off on her first rotation in some other military hospital. This means we won't see her till mid-august. Which means I think I'm going to haul my sewing stuff down stairs and set up in her living room for a while and just go at it.
03 July 2008
"THEY SHAVED HIS MOUSTACHE," realized my uncle.
Oh shit. That's like Magnum PI shaving his moustache, or santa clause with out the beard. Grandpa was fiercely proud of his whiskers - claiming they were virgin growth, never been shaved, and he made it all those years with it in the navy because it was blond and he just kept it really short. Regardless, none of us, not even grandma, his wife of 62 years had EVER seen his upper lip. In those last days and weeks, shaving him wasn't a priority of the nurses and hospice workers who were attending to every other of his needs with kindness and caring like nothing we'd seen before. So he got a little scruffy. When he passed and was collected by the funeral home, dad and my uncle found a picture to give them so they could prepare his body for the viewing. We figure the moustache wasn't that obvious in the picture and nobody thought to mention it, so the funeral home, doing their best, made him all nice and clean shaven.
It really is quite funny, as I'm sure grandpa was up there, slinging a few not-so-appropriate-for-heaven words around as he looked down and saw his moustache gone. Over his dead body was the only way we'd ever get to see that upper lip. I guess it came true.
02 July 2008
Some people drown their sorrows in a bottle; others retreat to the pleasures of pharmaceuticals, legal or not.. In those situations, people are encouraged to seek help, to get counseling, to go to rehab (ironic? Amy Winehouse just came on my ipod…). I’ve seen it happen with a friend who never truly grieved for her mother. A year after losing her to breast cancer, my friend discovered her mom’s old painkillers. Shortly after, she found herself trying to buy vicoden online from Mexico and fortunately realized she had a problem. Thankfully the only victim of her short-lived addiction was the front of her car and an ill placed light post.
Yet here we are, not even a week out from losing the patriarch of our family, my 90-year-old grandfather, an outstanding man, a pillar of the church, a wicked sense of humor, all gone, his company never to be enjoyed on this earth again. My parent’s fridge is overflowing with food. Unbelievable amounts, all home cooked, all delicious. And this is only half of what we’ve been given, we left the rest with my grandmother and uncle. I’ve been eating my way through my grief. No one tells me to stop except my mom, who is stuffing her face just as much as I am. Hard to listen to someone who can talk the talk but not walk the walk.
Growing up, my mom made a point of never rewarding us with food, of never using food as a comfort. “You fell and skinned your knee? Sorry, no cookies, but how about we take some time to cuddle and read a few extra stories before bed.” Mom’s fierce attitude about this stemmed from her mother, the child of Polish immigrants, in a house where money was scarce, growing up during the depression. This grandma then married a Polish immigrant and lived in a Slavic neighborhood of Detroit. Somehow all these combined created a woman who raised her daughter, my mother to turn to food to soothe and comfort what ailed her. Probably didn’t help that their apartment was above a Russian bakery, too.
My mom is not the only person to grow up like this. I think a lot of ethnic cultures encourage you to eat, eat, eat when things aren’t going well. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” comes to mind. Before traveling home for grandpa’s funeral, my Jewish neighbor brought over a pizza to share for dinner. In her words, “We’re Jews. When people die, we bring food.” In Judaism there is the whole sitting shiva thing, a concept I can get into. It is a socially recognized ritual among those of that faith, where the family sits around at home for a set period of time and people come to visit, pay their respects, and bring food.
Us Protestants don’t really do that. And as evangelicals, we are firm in our beliefs that grandpa is in heaven with God, able to rejoice in His eternal presence and glory, blah blah blah. So really, the grief is only skin deep in some regards. Yet all this food is from other Christians. None to my knowledge come from any sort of ethnic background like my mom. What are we to do? Turn away their kindness, knowing that they are bestowing edibles on us out of the goodness of the hearts and their honest and true want to help alleviate our pain? Do you put in the obituary that in lieu of flowers people are to send money to a certain charity, and in lieu of food to donate to a certain soup kitchen? Or only bring sugar free and low fat recipes? Yeah…no.
It’s hard to be an emotional eater. I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who can cook healthy meals, stock the fridge with fruits and vegetables, only keep whole grains in the house, and drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Yet when life gets me down, the next thing I know my car is steering itself through the Arby’s drive through and a jamocha shake and some curly fries are suddenly next to me and I can’t not shove them in my mouth fast enough.
I could probably write excellent and encouraging words telling others how to find different ways to soothe troubled minds and alleviate the pain that life sends along, but it’s so much easier said than done. Temptation is all around us, and the devil is there to make sure your friend brings fresh baked chocolate cookies to Bible study the same day you got some really rotten news at work. And of course she’s one of those skinny people, the kind who claim to not like sweets but love to bake regardless. Bitches.
“Why, God?” I find myself praying, “Why did you give me a sweet tooth and a slow metabolism and a pre-disposition for type II diabetes? Why do I struggle with my sluggish thyroid and hormones that haven’t ever worked correctly and have been worse since giving birth? Why haven’t I been able to learn to cope in some other way than with food?” God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. It’s true; it’s in the Bible somewhere. I wonder how much more He has in store for me, because my waistbands aren’t going to make it much longer.
Back to where we started. Death is hard, Christian or not. Food is an easy and universally acceptable show of friendship in tough times. I’m guilty of that, too. People have a baby or someone is ill, I’m right there with the rest signing up to bring dinner one night. Yet even when cooking for others, I find myself unable to bring something “traditional” – I cook for others like I cook for myself and my family: low carbs, extra veggies, no sugar, no fat. No one has complained yet that maybe I should be taken off that list of people willing to cook in times if crisis.
I’m not angry at these people through whose kindness have kept meal prep to a bare minimum the last few days. I’m angry with myself for not having self-control. I’m angry at society for not seeing addiction to food as a real problem. The only reason I can think of for that is because you need food to survive – you don’t need alcohol or drugs to survive no matter how much your neighborhood wino tries to convince you otherwise.
I’m angry that admitting you are an emotional eater and need a 12 step program is somehow shameful and shows a lack of character, yet admitting to a soft spot for schnapps comes off more like it wasn’t your fault, the drink made you do it. I’ve considered drowning those painful moments of life in gin and tonics instead of Ben and Jerry’s, but I think my husband would notice that. He never goes in the freezer, so that pint hidden in the back under the frozen snow peas is my little secret. Again, eating in secret? Another big red flag that I have a problem. If ice cream made you slur your words and occasionally black out, maybe it would be more recognized and accepted as something you are dealing with that is beyond your control.
I still don’t know what I’m supposed to do. How do you rid yourself of a problem you’ve had for as long as you can remember, one that has only gotten worse as you’ve come to take note of your habits more, at the urging of your therapists. Yes, therapists. Two. Three if we start marriage counseling in the near future, but that’s for another time.
I suppose the only thing I can do, the only thing I have faith in is prayer. Humble as it is, I can pray for God to give me the strength to get through this, to take away these temptations, to heal my soul so that I’m not running to the kitchen every time I find myself up against a wall. I don’t expect some magical transformation to occur, I don’t even know if I can believe that God will really change my life, my body, and my mind. But I do know He’s there to hold me up, and I guess that’s not so bad a place to start. However…if He can make the whole world in 7 days, why can’t He have made broccoli full of fat and calories and chocolate be the healthy choice instead?