Break Falls and Broken Jaws

October 1, 2015 by Rieshy

Sometimes memories take your breath away with a swift kick to the solar plexus.  When I saw a recent Instagram photo my 15 yo took of her older sister it was one of those kicks and gasps of what-could-have-been because:

as every parent of teens knows, any phone conversation that begins with, "I'm o.k.," means that your peace of mind and the money saved for new carpeting is about to disappear.

A little over a year ago I got a phone call from my oldest daughter that began, "I'm o.k. but Sarah thinks she may have broken some teeth."  They had gone long boarding...

Neglecting to also inform me that Sarah was covered in blood led me to direct them to meet me at the Dentist.  Poor dentist. poor alarmed hygienist, waiting patients, secretary- I've never seen so many eyebrows at full alert of alarm as when I walked in the office to find out how much "fixing a couple of teeth," would cost.

We went straight to the hospital.

It's funny now, sort of, how when the E.R. doctor walked into the exam room holding her x-rays, he almost tripped and then walked out again only to return a few minutes later.  I didn't know why until later, when Sarah was out of the room, he explained that he'd seen x-rays like her's before but those patients were all unconscious and permanently brain damaged as a result.  Walking into the room and seeing Sarah drinking a coke and making jokes made him believe he had entered the wrong room.

The difference was, when Sarah's borrowed long board hit the rock at the bottom of the steep long hill she was zooming down (typing that makes me want to smack her even now) and launched her airborne, she automatically did something Karate class had trained her to do: a front breakfall.  It saved her life.

Her jaw was still fractured in triplicate, her chin was still pretending to be an expensive jig-saw puzzle, her road rash was still painfully impressive and she still had to spend the next 3 months miserably horizontal.

But.... because of that successful breakfall a year ago here she is- belt-testing.

Isn't her jaw pretty?


On Working The System

September 25, 2015 by Rieshy

In college I took a philosophy class with a boyfriend.  I always knew how to work the academic system and used short-term memory with great success.  Imagine my shock when during a joint study session my boyfriend is asking philosophical questions outside the scope of the upcoming exam and reading extra writings only tangentially related to the assigned readings.  Tsk, tsk, wasting time.... I made an ‘A’, he did not come close. 


Don’t ask me today to explain the difference between Kant and Kierkegaard; I’d have to google it... but my boyfriend-turned-husband, remembers.

On nights at the dojo when our Sensei seems even more chipper and energetic than usual, AND has a certain sparkle in his eyes, we all know that we are about to be tortured, oops- challenged, with a leg workout.

Last night, I knew I was in trouble the moment I saw Sensei Richard walk onto the mat; maybe it’s the angle to his grin that’s his “tell”.  Sure enough, we were sent to the walls for wall kicks and then to the bags with a partner to count timed round-house kicks. 

The thing is, I’ve done this before; I know full well that my first 30 second count will be the benchmark I must exceed with each successive 30 second, one minute, 2 minute sessions.  The smart thing to do would be to kick just a tad more slowly than I’m capable of in the first session thus ensuring easier success for the following sessions. 

However instinct kicks in, literally, and you can’t help competing with yourself. 

Which is a good thing, because working the system in a learning setting is always about outward signs of success at the expense of real gain. 

It’s a lesson I hope my kids learn at the dojo as teens.  My teen-years are long gone and I finally get it; I just wish there was an online vendor of fast twitch muscles.


Faith, Failure, and of course- Martial Arts

September 20, 2015 by Rieshy

Last week was whirlwind week of schedule clashes, flat tires, kids, school, jobs, missing chocolate bars, impatient mothering, and all around fails.

I also attended an amazing jujitsu seminar with Kelley Farrell.  She is a phenomenal teacher and the day was so full of things to learn and people and colors and thoughts and smells, compounded by the week of people and colors and half completed thoughts that after the seminar I had to decompress with a solo run under a blue gorgeous sky.

As I ran along my brain bumped along over my fails; last week's share of fails being larger than my general average afforded my brain plenty of bumps to run with.  Parenting fails, work fails, schedule fails, friendship fails...

Maybe that's why I love floor exercises in karate and drilling in jujitsu so much.  You get to do the same move over and over, making corrections each time.  It's tiring but each move teaches you about how much more you can improve for the next move.  Cathartic and joyful.  A sort of re-wind option that life generally doesn't provide.

Or maybe it does, Prayer can be the same way; tiring, yet cathartic and joyful.  God's mercies never end, so it's a renewing- every time.

On the missing chocolate? My husband had found my stash of chocolate bars and to tease me unknowingly put his offspring in great danger by relocating the stash and going his merry way.   Luckily, before I had time to build a medieval rack for thorough questioning of each chocolate-theft-denying child, I messaged my husband with my intent to do so.

Text messaging between spouses? Neither a re-winding nor a renewing but a reprieving, rescuing redemption from chocolate-less ranting reprobation.


Magical Mystery Tape

September 3, 2015 by Rieshy

Watch a class of martial art students near a planned testing date.  If the sensei even remotely moves a hand toward their belt all eyes focus. Laser beams toward that denoter of progress, that badge maker of accomplishment, that electrical portal to the next rank.

Because on the sensei's belt hangs the Magical Mystery Tape.  

This week my sensei said, "By the Power of Greyskull."  Or maybe he said, "Wonder Twins Power Unite." Or, maybe he just said, "Here, you need to help when I'm stripe-ing students today."  At any rate I got to wear the tape.  And with the maturity of a pre-teen I excitedly forced a co-worker to take photographic evidence.

See, it's right there.  And one day, sometime in the misty future I hope to wear that tape of ultimate power... 

(a da-dum sound effect should be mentally added at this point) 

Electrical tape- energizing and motivating martial artists everywhere, even old ones. 


Camping, Chaperoning, Being Blessed with Black Belt Candidates

August 30, 2015 by Rieshy

Rocky running with rubber knees bouncing side to side,
parkour style.

Frantic pace following testosterone driven boys with a lung reserving space to hollar, "no higher" and,  "no closer to the edge."

Barely keeping up.  Using the boys as an excuse to race, undignified and gleeful with trails tipping up and twisting down in narrow tunnels of roots and rocks and hard state park tourist packed dirt.

"Excuse us, coming up on the left."

Sweat joining humidity, muscles burning, lungs screaming after sprints.  A glorious moment of treacherous cheating finds me the leader of the pack and I pretend to soar with thunder behind me until the thunder passes with the smell of multiple Axe cologne wearers and I stumble to a slower pace.

Joyful gulps of outside freedom and approximation of flying through late summer and distant water.

Then, with joy imbued in its watery molecules, the run ends with a splash.  Falls and falling love.  The love of a God so amazing and so varied and so physical that he provided waterfalls with rock slides and swimming holes to jump into fully clothed and drenched with happiness.

Chaperoning was never so fun as this.


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School Of Hard Knocks

August 28, 2015 by Rieshy

After martial arts classes or open mat I like to jot down things I learned or things I didn't understand and I especially write things down that I sucked at.   Note-taking after the fact was always my best learning strategy in college.  Doing a mind dump onto paper solidifies and makes real the subjects I'm studying.

Unfortunately, when I get home from martial arts class and everything is fresh and ready for writing I often don't get a chance because of that pesky little thing called Real Life.

Which leads me to the built in note-taking of jiujitsu and sometimes even karate.  Visible reminders.  Those identical bruises on each ankle? Oh yeah, we worked on ankle locks.  The bruise below my clavicle?  Oh yeah, I tried for a triangle but forgot to shimmy up first and my training partner accidentally got me with their elbow.  The Gentle Art may be gentle but accidental hard knocks are part and parcel.

I find it amusing.  My husband less so.  Especially when people look askance at him because of my "visible reminders".

Last night in karate we were training in self-defense, working on blocks.  I have the amazing  lightning response time of a sloth.   A slow sloth at that.  A slow sloth that all the other sloth relatives consider awkward and uncoordinated.

Our sensei mentioned trying to practice, building reflexes as much as possible; I immediately pictured Cato.  He would be a great aid to my martial arts journey but I'm pretty sure I couldn't afford him or the extra drywall repairs.  Instead, I told my 13 year old son, and fellow martial arts student, to please randomly strike at me during the day.

Then we laughed because a lot of caveats have to accompany that instruction.  I pictured standing in line at Starbucks, sporting some jiujitsu bruises, when my 13 year old suddenly throws a punch at my head.  Not exactly socially acceptable; DHS might be notified, or even worse; I might spill my coffee.

But I am renaming my homeschool.

Abused By Health Care

August 12, 2015 by Rieshy

The hidden health cost of health care brought on by the stress by paperwork and hours of phone calls to insurance and health companies is one of the special parts of dealing with a child's chronic illness.

It's why I'm gray.

I'm so angry I can barely limit this post to one story of what I consider the intentional incompetence that I have had to deal with over the past 9 years.  I am ashamed that I desire special circles of hell for certain subgroups of humanity... but people who design the billing and insurance company policies are seriously difficult for me to forgive.  Their designs intentionally inflict suffering and lost hours and untold worry on caregivers.  Even worse their models rob, yes, absolutely rob people who don't have the hours or know-how to fight and appeal.  And I mean rob- no less than if I held a gun to someone in a parking lot and demanded their cash.

Case in point:  My son needed a blood test in January, I was assured it was covered, I asked multiple times- I showed them my insurance.  They said they would double check.  A month later I received a bill from the lab saying insurance was denied and I owed them $10,000.

I appealed.
I appealed.
I appealed.  I got a EOB from my insurance company saying that they would cover part of the $13,622 bill.

?  But whatever.  One thing you get used to is that no bill is trustworthy, they play around with the numbers.  Imagine Kroger doing this.

Yesterday, I got a bill from the children's hospital where the blood draw was taken.  They politely told me that this same outpatient work done in January was $19,460.76 and now due.

More phone calls.  The "system" was blamed.  Give me a break, systems do not give birth to themselves... not yet anyway.  This happens every single time our child has a hospitalization.

The really fun bonus is that sometimes bills will be bumped to a collection agency because the appeal process is so lengthy that the bill becomes "delinquent".

Time.  My time.  My children's time.  I really hurt for someone without the ability or gumption to fight back.

Not to mention the inches and inches of mail that these companies try to drown you with.  If you have a problem requiring multiple labs or doctors and hospitals, good luck keeping up with who legitimately needs to be paid and who is sending bogus or inflated bills.

It's criminal, it's intentional, and we should be ashamed as a nation that we have allowed this parasite of bureaucracy to suck the life blood of our patients and their families.