Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy National Cake Day!

The kids and I will celebrate this afternoon by baking one of our own, but until then, we thought we'd share the following infographic with you!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Escape the Hips: Through

At some point, I keep telling myself, I won't be so fragile.

Fragile of mind. Fragile of endurance. Fragile of body.

I tell myself that, but on days like this, when I'm frustrated and crying most of the way home from another soul-killing training session, I don't believe it.

On days like this, I think I'll always be a train wreck on the mat--the one who makes the wrong decision under duress, who pushes her hips the wrong way when drilling a triangle, who doesn't absorb the concept at all, the one who gases before the match begins.

I suppose this is where jiu jitsu teaches you lessons about life and adversity and powering through, but for some reason, I'm just not hearing it lately.

All I hear are those awful things I say to myself when I'm working or when I'm done working. Horrible, awful things you'd never say to another human being, but what flows freely through your mind as you mentally go over the day's mat work.

P gets frustrated with me and tells me that when its the jiu jitsu that stresses me out, I'm doing it wrong. And being the annoying, girly and emotional creature that I am, it makes me even more defeated. I can't even get that part right....such a nasty little web of mental defeat we weave.

I wonder how long this road back is going to be so exhausting. I wonder when the love of learning returns. When the love of rolling, winning and losing both, returns? Days like this, it feels like it won't happen in my lifetime.

Today as I sat crushed to the mat with no way out, I asked myself what I was doing there. In the past, I could fire off an answer immediately. I would tell myself that I'm there to learn. To work. To grow. Today? I couldn't come up with anything. My body hurt. My mind hurt. All I could think was how maybe trying to return to the art was just one, big mistake. And that just hurt my soul something awful.

I can't be the only person who's ever felt lost in jiu jitsu, can I? I like to think that black belts were once people, too. People who felt like nothing worked and they just didn't have what it took to get where they wanted to go? Black belts were once self-doubting mortals who just kept showing up?

That helps when I think about that. Were there times in my jiu jitsu heroes'  past that they just didn't know what they were doing? Maybe Renzo had a bad stretch as a blue belt where he couldn't get out of his own way? (I doubt it, because in my world, Renzo doesn't battle...he just allows you to lose! Ha! Couldn't help slip a little Chuck Norris joke in's one of those days. :) )

Long story short? This road back is awful. Harder than any road back has ever been for me. My time lost on the mat took more than I thought it did....I assumed it was just a physical rebuilding that was necessary, but more and more I am realizing it's a mental rebuild I need to make it back to the Houston Open in February.

I'm not going to be able to bound back to my former self...knowledge or body...and I suppose the quicker I get my mind wrapped around that, the quicker the real work can begin.

Here's to the long road and maybe a few less days being the club manteiga derretida. Yay!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012: Blessings Aplenty

Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.

William Shakespeare

Happy Thanksgiving, ya'll!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A man named Larry and Hebrews 13:2

I don't think I've met a passage of Hebrews that I didn't like. Funny, right?

This morning I had to be up at the hiney crack of dawn, drag two half-sleeping boys from their beds and drive nearly an hour and a half to the airport to put one brother on a plane and help another brother understand his tears and why he had to say goodbye right before a big holiday.

Modern life is complicated, Boo...that's about all I can tell your sweet self sometimes.

Because Boy Wonder was flying unaccompanied, Boo and I had to go through security all the way to the gate. And wait. Good lordy, did we wait.

 See, last time I tried to pick this child up from this same airport (Hobby, also known as the Airport that Time Forgot), I got stuck in a security line to Philadelphia and it was a MESS. So we were very, very early this morning on what is supposed to be the busiest travel day of the damn year.

We lucked out and got to Gate 48 with nearly two hours to spare. And unlike United who likes to board you the day before and make you sit for 17 hours in their tin can of death, Southwest is waaaay more relaxed and tend to shove everyone in about 10 minutes before takeoff. I love them.

In our 120 minutes of kill time, Boo alternated between downing a bag of skittles (my bad) and pressing his nose to the glass to watch planes coming and going. Boy Wonder tuned out the world and played Super Mario Brothers.

So there was me. And then there was Larry.

He asked me about my UTEP sweatshirt. His wife is earning her master's in special ed there, he said. He missed his wife these past two weeks. He'd spent them at MD Anderson Cancer Center for his one-year checkup since having his bone marrow transplant a year ago.

He got up and moved to the seat directly next to me and I am ashamed to say that, at first, I bristled.

I'm not big into random conversations when I'm not into random conversations.

Somedays you'd think I was running for Mayor of Katy. Other days, I'm pretty stuck in my own world and choose not to let others in. Days that I put my baby on a plane to spend the holidays elsewhere? I definitely stick to myself and wallow in the mud a bit.

He was 50 (he told me that eventually) and had a bunch of Harley Davidson clown/jester tattoos because he owned two bikes back in El Paso that he and his wife would ride before he got sick in 2010 and doctors gave him four months, tops, to live. He had gone through every imaginable treatment to slow down the lymphoma that was attacking his brain and nothing but radiation worked. But radiation was also killing him and his maverick doc in El Paso had already given him the highest dose legal for a human being and wasn't ethically allowed to give him one dose more. They referred him to two centers in Houston. One wouldn't treat him because they didn't understand his form of lymphoma (not to mention he was out of insurance by this point) and the other was MD Anderson and they flew him out immediately and agreed to treat him on a trial basis for free.

Larry went on and on for the next hour, despite my best attempts to read the newly purchased, 75th anniversary edition of the Hobbit I'd nabbed right next to the Doritos as the airport snack shop. I didn't talk much, a rarity, because Larry had so much to say.

Turns out, the Hobbit could wait. Larry needed to talk and he needed to talk to my kids. He had four of his own and as it turns out, he just wanted to see his 6 year old grow up enough that she had a clear memory of him. He's given six months to live at a time and just received his latest half-year expiration date. He took it in stride, he said, because he hadn't lost yet.

He had to get on the plane when Boy Wonder did because he needed help. His bones were sore from the round of tests the doctors did. He rode in a wheelchair next to my son as they walked down the long, flimsy hallway to the plane and at one point, I saw Boy Wonder lightly pat Larry on the back the way an old friend would and I realized that maybe God doesn't always put people in our lives when we need them...maybe he puts us in others' paths when they need us, too. And that's pretty amazing.

God bless, Larry. Keep fighting the good fight, friend.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Escape the Hips: Spider Guard (What a wicked web...)

I struggle with bigger, stronger opponents. Not just my muy frustrating black belt husband, but most any person on the mat who is larger and aggressive, and well, my guard is easily passed and I'm chillin' from bottom cross side (the place I affectionately call "my 'hood").

I spent a little time watching GB Prof. Ana Laura Cordeiro's highlight reel (found here) yesterday and beside the wicked Kanye West soundtrack, you see a wicked spider guard (and you really get a sense of it when you watch her finals match against Alliance's Gabi Garcia. Watch that awesome match here, if you're so inclined. Seriously. Read this, then go watch that.)

The point of that little mental side trip was to get to the point that when I was rolling with P today and doing everything wrong and getting frustrated, I thought back to Prof. Ana Laura's spider guard and found myself mimicking it to the best of my ability. And I really liked how it slowed down the bigger player's roll just a little bit. I felt a little, tiny bit more in control. And I accidental got a sweep when I pulled him too far over my head...of course, he landed me in a leg lock, but whatever, ya'll!! I got an accidental sweep!

So victory #1 was messing around and discovering the leverage to be found in spider guard and victory #2 was not crying like a big, fat cry baby. Good day!

Thought I'd share some spider guard resources I found around the interwebs:

Barra BJJ: Spider Guard with Caroline, Otavio, and Marcio

Spider Guard Concepts by Caio Terra

Attacks from Spider Guard by Ricardo Cavalcanti

Triangle Choke from Spider Guard with Michelle Nicolini

Happy training!


Some Weeks, This is All You Get

There are good weeks. Really, really good weeks with maybe one bad night and a cranky afternoon thrown in, but in all...really GOOD weeks.

This isn't one of them.

This is the week where all you get is a crying, screaming, gassy baby and a teething, insane, wretch of a toddler. Where the preschooler talks back like a sailor and the big kid takes the order form you filled out for the school book fair, trashes it, and then proceeds to get a bunch of books just for himself (ignoring the Llama Llama and Olivia books for his siblings).

This is the week where you feel crazy. Like, crying and shaking your fist skyward kind of crazy where you understand how that weird woman in the newspaper holed herself up in her house with 9,003 cats and never talked to anybody ever again. It's a mad kind of crazy that makes you resent being home alone with four kids for so long every day. Crazy. Crazy. Crazy.

 The kind of week where you put in 14 hour days with nothing but the 25 minute run you were allowed to take around the park. Twenty-five measly little minutes where you didn't have to burp something, change something, discipline somebody or listen to incessant, unstoppable crying. This is the week where you think maybe you ought to talk to your union boss about a raise or at least a smoke break or two because the current system just ain't working.

This is the week where you can't sit down. You can't open a book. A magazine. A web page. You can't answer the phone. You can't stop walking with baby or toddler until there is a path worn in your carpet and when one finally settles down, the other needs the last milligram of energy left in your body. Where you consider a 5 hour energy at 9 p.m. JUST to make it through til one of the falls asleep...knowing you'll be up again at 2 a.m. This is the kind of week where you just say "f$^% it" and the rest of the house can figure out how to use the washer and dryer or figure out how to recycle clothes. Where you step over a laundry pile of Montana and just don't care. of those weeks.


P.S.  It gets better, right?
P.P.S. I love my kids.
P.P.P.S. I really do.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Escape the Hips: The Legacy Begins

This week, the boys started their own jiu jitsu journeys.

D is 8 and had started while we were up in Alaska last year sometime. Circumstances made it impossible to really nail it down, so after earning a stripe, we took a very long, long break. He's now in the Juniors class, one strip in tow on his white belt and learning "arm locks." No idea what he wants to do with them, he just knows he doesn't want to "be in them."

Smart boy, eh?

A is 3 and he's in the Little Champs program that his dad teaches. I can't say there's enough money in the world available for me to take on teaching up to 12 wild, frenetic preschoolers, but he does it...and well.

So how's it going?

D has to be coaxed more often than not right now, but that's ok. Computers and video games compete for his attention and he doesn't quite see the value in it every single day. But he will. He loves to think about what tournaments will be like and once he has a few steady friends in class, it'll be hard to get him to come home.

A is a different story completely. He has to deal with being left at home each day his brother goes to school, so when he got the chance to finally do his own "thing," he went bananas. Ba-na-nas! It helps to have dad leading the class, too. He hasn't really been too shy about jumping on the mat and taking his spot in the line.

So the journey begins, right?


Thursday, November 1, 2012


"The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night,
Ya-honk!  he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation:
The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listen closer,
I find its purpose and place up there toward the November sky."

-   Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1855, I Celebrate Myself, Line 238