Fast for hunger

Today’s radio news had a segment about some teens who did a fast for hunger. They went 30 hours without food to try to understand what hunger and famine are like. After the segment, my husband turned to me and said we should do that.

I think it’s a great idea too. Often in this country we say we are hungry or starving, just by going an extra hour between meals. We have no idea what real hunger is. Food is plentiful and relatively cheap. The big difference between a timed fast and real hunger is that you know when you will eat again after a fast. During a famine or true poverty, people don’t know when they will eat again.

I would like to do a fast for hunger. Only instead of just fasting and praying, I would urge people to donate the amount of food they would have normally consumed during this time to a food bank or the cost to an international food aid. This would be 4 or 5 meals per person. If you have a group doing it, perhaps consider donating to the Heifer Project. This project buys farm animals for poor families to help them be self sufficient.

While there are many details to be worked out if we do this, I think it should be done. I’d like to get a group together and do this as a community service project. While there are many canned food drives, this one would add a new dimension to make it more personal for participants, giving a glimpse into the other side.

2009-2010 homeschool Feb update

We’re about two-thirds of the way through our school year. It’s been a good year. Both Richard and Karen have learned a lot.

They each do language arts, reading, and math at their own level. I try to have them both working on the same subject at the same time. This keeps things easier. My new weekly schedule has been working great. This month they started swim lessons twice a week. That made for some disruption to the schedule, but are now getting used to the new routine.

Karen is where I remember Richard being at this stage of kindergarten. She’s reading three and some four letter words. We haven’t finished the alphabet yet, but she’s gaining confidence. She misplaced her workbook last week and we haven’t found it yet so I’m going to skip to the next one. I’ve been having her read short books instead but she’s ready to get back to the workbooks and learn more sounds.

I like the Christian Light Learning to Read program much better than Abeka K4-K5. Handwriting in incorporated in the same workbook. There aren’t a bunch of different workbooks to do each day. Instead she just does several pages in one workbook that covers phonics and handwriting. Soon we’ll add language arts. Then she’ll continue separate language arts and reading workbooks.

She’s learning place value to 100’s in math. Using the blocks for Math-U-See is making it easy.

We’ve been doing science on Wednesdays. Richard reads about it then we all do a project. He’s doing solutions today and we’re making homemade cola. We’re also looking at separation of juice so show liquids can have different layers. I don’t want to have two unrelated science programs. I can have them both study the same thing, but him do more details than Karen. He can read independently and I’ll read a simpler book to her about the same subject.

Richard just started the eighth out of ten workbooks for reading and language arts this week. He’s done a lot of grammar including adjectives, homophones, synonyms, and sentence diagramming. In reading, he’s learned to skim for details in a story.

Richard’s history hasn’t had many projects, but he’s enjoyed the reading. We finally finished the civil war and western expansion. It was rather odd to teach homesteading as history since we do many of those activities. It was almost like reverse teaching since I had to explain why most of them aren’t commonly done today (most people have running water, electricity, small hobby gardens instead of large subsistence ones, etc). WinterPromise also had a section about the Klondike gold rush which I added onto for a little Alaska state history. He was supposed to do a gold panning kit, but my husband wanted him to wait until summer when we can do it for real at a nearby creek that still gives gold. Now he’s studying early industrial revolution.

He’s really picked up on multiplication for math. He’s not using the blocks. He likes to find patterns. One of the boys in his swim lessons asked to learn the multiplication table after Richard told him that he knows it. This week he learned greater than, less than, and equal signs. They have finished the multiplication table and are moving into multiple digit multiplication problems. I really like how Math-U-See integrates word problems rather than just problem sets. They also have things like measurement equivalents (pints and quarts in a gallon, feet in a yard, etc) in the proper lesson instead of separately.

Last week I did evaluations for Richard’s progress report. He was ready to advance in 4 subjects: math, technology, social studies, and career development. I haven’t been having him do math tests until this year so I had him take the district exam. It was over 100 questions! There were only a few questions for each aspect (addition, subtraction, geometry, statistics, etc) but together they added up. I broke it into 2 days with lots of breaks so he wouldn’t have to sit doing math all day. The assessments for the other subjects were descriptions of projects he’s done.

I’m starting to plan for next school year. Richard will be in fourth grade and Karen will do first grade. He’s going to continue with Christian Light Education for Bible, reading, and language arts. She will be finishing the second half of their first grade reading and language arts program (reading 100 and language arts 100). That should take half the year. Then we’ll do First Favorites collection from Veritas Press the second part of the year. They will both continue with Math-U-See. She’ll do Alpha (single digit addition/subtraction) and he will be in Delta (division). I’m not sure about science. I have a basic science program from WinterPromise that I’ll probably do with her. I’ll wait and see what he’s interested in this summer before deciding science for him.

No more easy credit

New credit rules go into effect soon. I’m not sure how they will affect me, but don’t mind if they help keep credit stable long term. The new rules will limit who can get credit. It will also change credit interest rates and terms so those who have the most at-risk credit will pay more. I think it’s about time for this change. I don’t have much sympathy for those who run up massive amounts of credit then complain when they can’t pay the bills.

Easy credit made it possible for people and companies to live beyond their means. They could charge what they wanted and make small monthly payments. They got used to a higher standard of living than they could actually afford. What many people didn’t understand is that by lowering the monthly payment, they were actually increasing the time they would need to pay the item in full. In the meantime, they pay interest on the amount, which could potentially double the price of the item now that higher interest rates are likely.

New rules on who gets credit will make it so those who are the most financially responsible will pay the least and those more at risk will pay more. This is fair. Credit companies and banks are businesses not charities. They take a risk when they issue credit that you may default on the balance leaving them holding the bag while the consumer has the goods. Higher interest and lower limits for the more at risk consumers helps limit their risk somewhat.

While I understand that during a low economic period may not be the best time for consumers to have the new credit rules take effect, it is the best long term solution as it will help insure credit stays available for those more worthy of it.

“Not everyone either deserves or should have an open-ended credit card,” said Roger C. Hochschild, chief operating officer of Discover Financial Services.

Joining those who won’t easily get cards: college students and others under age 21. The law strictly limits card marketing on campuses, ending giveaways like T-shirts and pizza. Cards can only be granted to applicants who show they have the means to repay, or those who have a co-signer who can pay.

I had trouble getting credit in college before the days of easy credit because of this. However, I paid all my small bills on time. Then I was approved for a car loan and paid that off early. I try to only use credit as necessary, not on a whim. I only have one credit card. I did buy a new mattress set on credit, but paid it off within a year so I wouldn’t have to pay interest. Now I have good credit and lower interest rates, but still live within my means.

The credit bubble has burst.  It isn’t necessarily the fault of the lenders. While the lenders may have made lucrative offers or targeted those more at-risk, ultimately it was the consumer who used the credit and made the purchases. They made a choice to use credit rather than living within their means, now they need to be accountable for it.

Unfortunately, it will be harder for those who charged money indiscriminately to get caught up. I would urge people to get credit counseling and educate themselves about how to use credit and prioritizing wants. They need to learn to live within their means. This may mean lowering your standard of living. However, if you can’t afford it without increasing debt, you probably would have to do this eventually anyway. The sooner you realize this and take action, the sooner you can start to recover financially. A good company is Crown Financial Ministries. They offer many different credit counseling and financial planning packages and programs to help people reign in consumer debt and learn to live within their means.

Some people think a government bail out for defaulting consumers and companies is needed. I don’t think the government should bail people out. I feel sorry for them, but why should a person with good credit have to pay the debts of those who aren’t financially responsible and won’t live within their means? Besides, our government already has massive amounts of debt itself.

The U.S. government also needs to learn to live within it’s means too. New social programs are nice and sound like a good idea, but where will the money come from? At some point taxes must go up. We can’t keep borrowing from our future. That’s what created this problem. All a bailout or new social program would do is shift the debt from individuals to the public in the from of higher taxes. It’s unfair to penalize those who make good decisions to pay for those who made bad ones (both privately and corporately).

This is just how a free economy works. Some make money, others fail. While I feel sorry for employees of companies that made bad decisions who are hurt through no fault of their own by job loss, this is normal and long term helpful for economic stabilization. Being free to take risks, is what drives companies to profit. No one complains when the risk pays off. Then they call it good business. When it falls apart, people cry foul and beg for regulations. But, the more regulations on a business, the less risk they will take. Therefore they will have less profit and will either pay lower wages or have fewer employees and dividends. How does that help recovery long term? It doesn’t. Reform legislation should achieve a balance between protectionism and risk.

I like what I’ve seen of the new credit laws. It protects the lenders from high risk consumers. They protect consumers from predatory lending practices. While their may be a sudden changes for some people, overall, they seem more fair as long as lenders don’t take advantage of possible loopholes. The days of easy credit are over and our country will be better off for it as people start to live within their means again.

Starting a Health Fitness Specialist degree

As I stated in another post, I’ve been approved for beginning an Associates in Applied Science (AAS) degree program in Health Fitness Specialist. Everything just about is complete for my entrance. My ACT scores were finally received, and I scored well enough that I can get out of 4 foundation classes usually required. 🙂 Speaking of classes, I still haven’t heard which of the UAF classes were able to transfer to the other university on my transcript. I’m hoping a lot of them transfer so I don’t have to take any general classes, but can get right down to the degree specific courses.

I have to do an interview for financial aid (required even if paying your own way) then I can register for classes. I was supposed to have done the interview this week, but with only one vehicle since the accident, we were extra busy and I wasn’t home during the times available. Hopefully this can be done on Monday. Then I can register for classes and arrange book shipments. I’m excited to start classes in early April.

Why a degree as a Health Fitness Specialist? I’m definitely not your typical health nut, nor do I necessarily consider myself one. I’m 35, not athletic by any means, and overweight. However, I do see the value in being fit and want to help others learn that you don’t have to be athletic to be fit. Nor is being fit just being skinny. Being fit is a lifestyle and as such, full of choices. I want to help others make healthy choices. This degree will give me more knowledge to do that.

I want others to know that you can change your life from unhealthy to fit. I’m doing it. It’s not always easy, but worth the effort. Not someone who hasn’t been there saying what a health book says weight loss should be. Nor someone drastically overweight telling how to get thin. I’ve gotten advice from both these types. Neither of them were especially helpful, even though they were both informational. Instead, it added to my frustration because I felt they didn’t understand where I was coming from. I want the book learning to go along with my personal insights so I can help with a range of fitness problems whether it be loosing weight, toning trouble spots, or injury rehab.

For this degree, classes include human anatomy, movement, nutrition, fitness evaluations, and how the body responds to exercise. There’s also some business classes. It’s more detailed than what most fitness instructors and personal trainers have and I’d be able to pass those exams. This is a 2 year degree with the option to continue into a bachelor’s degree which has more specialized training courses.

I’m taking most of this for my own knowledge rather than wanting a specific job. However, I would be able to work in almost any health setting including gyms and health clubs, physical rehab centers, schools, and even corporate settings. It’s definitely a portable degree. That’s good since I could likely get short term or part time positions while traveling if I ever wanted to. I want to help people as a wellness coach and fitness instructor to get over the blocks keeping them from being fit. I’ve already been approached for a potential fitness instructor position.

Fitness update 2010 #5

They fit NOW! Being a conservative Christian woman, I don’t wear jeans. Instead of having “skinny jeans” to try to fit into, I have skinny dresses.

A few weeks ago, I ordered 3 smaller dresses in the hope that I’d be able to wear them by this summer. The dresses I buy aren’t sized with regular numbers or SML, but instead are by chest and waist size (you get a more customized fit this way too). I ordered these smaller in the waist (40B, 36W). They arrived yesterday. I tried them on this morning and they fit! One is a little tight, but it zipped. Even though two are elastic waist, the elastic is loose. It’s great to have a real waist that’s smaller than my chest again! Hopefully, the next time I order dresses, I’ll be able to get them smaller chested as well.

Unfortunately, I gained back 2 pounds this week. Not surprising though because I haven’t done much exercising and ate poorly since the accident. I’m starting to feel better so may do a bit of light exercise later. The insurance company has let me rent a car therefore I can get to the gym again. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do Turbo Jam with all it’s twisting and kicking, but I can do slow swimming. That’s better than nothing. I haven’t needed as many pain pills the past few days which is a good sign.

The weather has been really warm. It’s in the low 40’s today. While that may feel good, our refrigerator is not working. We do have a small freezer to keep the frozen things. We can’t set stuff outside to keep cool with the warm temperatures. This makes keeping fresh stuff very difficult. I’m not sure what we’re going to do about that. In the mean time between lack of proper refrigeration, stress, and pain from the car accident our diet has been pretty sorry.

My plan for this next week is build up my strength again. I don’t want to overdo it though so I’m going to go pretty slow. Hopefully we can fix the fridge, but if not then we can eat healthier frozen and canned choices or go to the stove every few days. It’s just a matter of coping, which I’m not very good at.

Fitness update 2010 #4; still shrinking

Today was a good morning (before the car crash that is). I took my monthly measurements and have shrunk again. My waist and chest are another inch smaller. I’ve lost the 3 pounds that I gained earlier in the week pigging out for my birthday which puts me back to 165. While I only lost about 1/2 inch from my thighs, I am starting to feel some new definition to the muscles so hopefully those numbers will go down soon. One of my arm measurements actually went up a little, but I’m pretty sure that is muscle I’ve added.

The new Turbo Jam routines are great and we’re getting quite a workout in water aerobics. She has us doing jumping jacks and power jacks. I seem to be the only one who likes those because everyone else complains. I think power jacks are fun in the water and after doing so many jacks with the new Turbo Jam, they’re pretty easy. However, with the soreness from the crash today, I think I’m going to take it easy a few days.

Aside from pigging out for brunch buffet the day before my birthday, I’ve been eating pretty good. We went to Chili’s for my birthday lunch. I was good and had a mixed grill of Margarita chicken and spicy shrimp with veggies and beans (instead of heavy loaded mashed potatoes). The yummy spinach/artichoke dip and chips appetizer was shared between all 4 of us. The shrimp were a bit greasy, but the chicken was wonderful. I enjoyed ice tea instead of soda. I’ve been drinking more water, avoiding seconds, snacks, and sweets as per No S Diet. It’s been pretty hard not to snack in the evenings, but I managed anyway. I haven’t even had a birthday cake this year.

The plan for the next week depends upon how sore I am and if I need to go to the doctor or not. I’ll have to wait and see on exercising, but will continue eating well. I’ve gotten so I’m craving healthy instead of junk foods now (see my selections from Chili’s for proof) which is nice but weird.

Car crash

I was in a car crash this morning. I was driving on the highway when an oncoming car turned left across the intersection in front of me. I saw him, but assumed since I had a steady green light that he would yield before turning left. Instead he turned in front of me and I hit the passenger side with my front end going about 35 mph.

The impact spun my car until it was facing the opposite direction and pushed him into the front of a car stopped at the light. My shoulder is sore so an ambulance came. They gave me a sling. There were plenty of witnesses who all agreed it was not my fault, but the fault of the other driver not yielding. The police didn’t even want my statement after I got out of the ambulance. I may go to the hospital tomorrow morning if it’s still so sore.

Both doors of his passenger side are smashed. The glass is totally shattered. It flew up over my windshield. That looked like loose snow. My car had very slight looking damage to the front end. It pushed the bumper back toward the wheels so had to be towed, but isn’t rumpled or dented. The third car front is dented in the driver corner.

The insurance company has been notified. Now I get to deal with his insurance company since he was at fault. Luckily he was insured. They are calling in a day or so and then we will decide what to do.

Both kids were with me in the back seat and are unhurt. Needless to say, we didn’t make it to their swim lesson today. Instead they got to tour public safety vehicles (fire truck, ambulance, and 2 police cars). Since I had no way to get in touch with my husband (we don’t have cell phones) the police brought us home in one of the cruisers. Oh, as the police car was pulling away onto the highway, he had the toplights on and another car didn’t yield to him! I think he would have given them a ticket if he didn’t have us with him. He even commented about “blue lights mean yield” as the car drove by.