Saturday, October 20, 2012

Teaching Karate to Children is NOT for sissies!

This has been how I have spent my Friday nights for the last few years: *WARNING* The author is not responsible for the exhaustion, exasperation, alcoholism, or confusion you may feel after reading this painfully true account of my ever growing junior beginning karate class (of doom+5). Read on at your own risk.

After making jump ropes available for burning off a wee bit of the Friday wiggles that are a simple fact of any class full of children and even spending some time jumping rope myself (LIKE A BOSS!) I call out-"Yame! Let's line up to begin class"

90% of my karate students continue running, spinning, making noises I wasn't aware humans could make, dicking off, running, running, spinning, shoving, taking off their belts, did I mention running?

I clap my hands loudly and once again firmly repeat, "YAAAAME! Please put the jump ropes away and line up"  A small number of students line up, an even smaller number of that small number is ACTUALLY standing still, quiet, in ready position and prepared to get our karate on.

Once again, this time a bit louder and with no room for interpretation, I call, "YAME! (that means stop in Japanese) to at least a dozen sets of deaf ears and I'm now pondering the legal ramifications of bringing a taser to class and decide perhaps I'll start with a coach's whistle, or a flask? Camelback hydration pack full of Malibu rum? Bull whip? Suddenly, I am violently dragged out of visions of coconut rum dancing in my head by an assclown a student tugging on my gi sleeve.

The tiny student, sounding remarkably innocent for a child I'm fairly certain has 666 on the back of his scalp, tattles, "HE (pointing at his EVEN MORE ass clownish older brother) shoved me!" (tiny assclown had been doing his fair share of shoving as well...I have eyes!)

My brain has now wandered to the bad place and class hasn't even begun. Not so much as a wee bit concerned that I am drooling on myself as I fight tooth and nail against slipping into a karateka induced coma, I lament ever complaining that my Summer classes were usually only 5 or 6 students as I am now ass deep in 17 (give or take 2 or 3 each way from week to week) beginning karate students between the ages of 5 and 12.

Whilst in my mini daydream, I ponder this quote about teaching:
 "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." ~William Arthur Ward
With this in mind, I stand in my Sensei place at the front of the dojo and begin counting...1, 2, 3, 4...a few more students begin to catch on and scramble to line up...5,6, 7, 8...a couple more, curious as to why their Sensei is standing so calmly and counting, push and shove just a little and take their places in the line...9, 10, 11...nope, some of them still don't get it and the older students in the class are now motioning to them and mouthing what might have been threats of ass kickings in the parking lot after class (or was I just dreaming that?) so the stragglers can hustle into something vaguely resembling a straight as Elton John kind of I'm into the 20's...22, 23, 24...Finally...A not even in the ball park of straight line full of children not even close to standing still with their hands not to themselves or in our ready position.
"Everyone on your belly" *groans, moans, whining, whimpering, huffing, and possibly a bit of swearing (not mine!) fill the dojo as the students now realize that they will be doing 24 push-ups before we even bow in to begin class. The spectators are all grinning from their seats off to the side of the dojo. After push ups are finished, I send all the students down to the opposite end of the dojo and begin the what should be VERY simple process of lining up ALL OVER AGAIN!  
Still using my so calm it's terrifying Mom voice, I call to them all to line up. Cut to 3 tries and 10 minutes and a metric fuckton of push ups later and we are finally ready to bow in and begin class.
After performing all of our traditional bows to the form, me, my son, who is the senior junior student and my trusty teaching assistant (and a Jr. Black belt!), and each other (we are a traditional form of old school Japanese karate and we bow A LOT!)...I stand up, stand in ready position and calmly explain to my students that we will be able to accomplish a lot more, learn A LOT MORE, play some fun games and possibly earn some very cool little prizes if WE DON'T SPEND SO MUCH TIME LINING UP!
Over the course of the rest of the hour, I get right down on the floor and do push-ups & straight leg lifts alongside some of my students who are struggling with theirs, demonstrating that with training and the right mindset you can accomplish anything, we do Kata, learn a new block, kick the bags, and by bags, I don't mean misbehaving students (or do I?), send some students up to write their name on the dreaded white board after they continued to misbehave despite their verbal warning, send many of those students up to put the EVEN MORE DREADED "X" after their name, indicating that they will not earn their sticker on their chart for this class, practice our basics but fun games were played. The lining up for the end of class was nearly as frustrating as the beginning of class, but afterwards, a few students earned stickers, a few reached the 5 sticker phase and got to pick a prize out of my pink Ninja Monkey prize bag, a few cried over not getting their sticker and a few hugged me and told me that I'm the best karate teacher ever. Parents generally stop me outside the dojo to tell me that I am WAAAY more patient than they could ever be. Dads tend to shake my hand, Moms give me the "I don't know how you do it" smile, and Grandparents smirk wickedly, loving every second of it. 
So why do I keep teaching? I ask myself that a lot, OK, every week pretty much, and the answer is: This is my 3rd year of teaching karate to children and on Tuesday this week, one of my most squirrely  students who spent a pretty decent chunk of his time in the "orb of silence" at the back of the dojo tested for his purple belt. Two of my original students now have purple belts with 2 stripes on them. At the end of each testing, there are 2 students specifically who hug me and tell me that without me, they wouldn't be where they are.
Some days, I'm not sure if I'm the teacher or the student, so just to be sure, I like to be both.
Thanks for reading all the way to the end!
Arigato~Sensei Amy

Friday, October 5, 2012

rejected is such an ugly term

     If you didn't catch my little comment I added to the previous entry, I didn't get into that craft fair. Technically, I received a "rejection" email. When put that way, it sounds pretty dismal. Admittedly, it never occured to me that I wouldn't get in, that's just not how I live my daily life. I'm a "why not !?!" kind of person, not a "what if?" woman, which made this sting a little, but I have bitched it out, and I should probably apologize to my spouse for using him as the sounding board for all my bitchiness but he took it like a champ and no one was harmed in the process. I have made a full recovery, I'm busy, happy, and not too slowly becoming buried in Holiday requests and custom orders.
    So now, after 3 back to back karate classes, I am tired, hungry and in need of some quiet time and a piece of coconut cream pie. Ok, I don't need the pie. I want it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Waiting [im]patiently

The two new Halloween Buntings on display in my Farmer's Market Booth

     Well, I didn't quite make my once a week posting goal I was striving to meet, but I didn't take into account that September 21 and the Farmer's Market would sneak up on me so quickly! Anyhow, here I am again. My second farmer's market wasn't quite as busy as my first, but the entire market and the farmer's markets in the surrounding cities were also painfully slow this week. I honestly think it's the relentless heat we've been having here. Not many people want to venture out when temperatures are in the mid-high 90's. In any case, I covered my booth fee and made a little profit, but more importantly, I made some great new friends and handed out a heap of business cards. So it was well worth spending the afternoon in the hot (hard to believe it's not Summer!) Autumn weather.
     As for the title of this entry, I suppose I should explain. Just as I did a couple of years ago when I decided to open my Etsy shop and again when I applied to be a vendor in Artisan's Alley at the Farmer's Market this Summer, I have once again decided to go balls out and I applied to be a vendor in a VERY cool Indie arts and crafts show we have here called Patchwork. Acceptance or rejection e-mails are supposed to be sent out September 26. So...I wait, impatiently, to hear if I'm in for this awesome event.
     I hope everyone had a great week and an even better Autumnal Equinox! I'll pop in later this week and let you know if I'm in or not.
    Thanks for stopping in!
Peace, Love and Throwing Stars~Amy


Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Sequel

My booth in the setting up process
As promised, I am back! Last night I was telling you about my new adventure-Selling LIVE and in person to the fine people of Orange County! I am obsessed with a huge fan of shopping at and supporting local farmer's markets, so one morning, whilst visiting with my good friend who sells delicious produce and divine fresh juice at farmer's markets, I asked him how you get to be a vendor. Being such a great friend (who may or may not be reading this as he may or may not know that I have this little blog-o-rama), he introduced me to the market director who gave me all the contact information for the vendor co-ordinator so I could fill out an application. A few weeks later, I got an email that I was in! YAY! My glee was briefly interrupted by panic as I realized that maintaining an Etsy shop was much easier than selling to people face to face. Crap! Now I had to sew and sew and sew...and sew some more to try and stock my booth. From June until mid-August, I was my own one woman sweat shop and I loved every second of it! The market debut went smoothly, I only had one sobbing meltdown all Summer and I  am now busily preparing to sell in the market again on September 21!
One of the tables of nifty stuff
 If you live in the area, the Mission Viejo Farmer's Market has "Artisan's Alley" the third Friday of each month. Come on out and see the nifty stuff in person!
Placemats and napkins

 I have been sketching and stitching my little fingers off for months now, and hopefully this week I will get some photos of the new items so I can list them on Etsy. Right now, I'm indulging my love of Halloween and perusing the Halloween fabrics in the shops before I start the big Holiday rush!
As of right now, I have 7 custom stocking orders already...But it's still too warm to wrap my mind around the Winter holidays.
Only 2 of these aprons came home with me! I sold the rest!
Well...I'm off to make some dinner and then back to my sewing machine! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you had a great Summer! What kind of adventures did Summer hold for you?
☮, ♥ and throwing stars~Amy

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Do Not Adjust Your Monitor!

Due to circumstances completely within my control, I have had my hands quite busy with a big new chapter in my life...On August 17th, my little etsy shop went LIVE in the form of a 10'x10' booth at the local farmer's market artisan and crafter's event. I want to tell you all about it and share a few photos of my first booth EVER, but I need to get to bed so I can be rested and ready to kick some butt in karate tomorrow morning. Make sure you come back tomorrow night as I will be picking up where I left off and posting some fun stuff!

Thank you to everyone who loves and supports me, even when I am fortressed in my little workspace sewing like a woman possessed for months on end! I truly appreciate it!

Peace, love and throwing stars~Amy

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Rolling in Dough

Buttermilk wheat bread dough
No, I'm not one of the winners of that $640Million dollar lottery, I'm a self taught bread making maniac! A few months back, I decided that while I already cooked a lot, baked a lot and generally fed my family well, I wanted to utilize my big chest...wait for it...freezer to have a heap of healthy, homemade foods at the ready to meet the endless hunger of my 6ft tall and ever growing 16 year old MMA training boy and his Amazonian 12 year old sister. What a monumental task that was, but one I was truly excited to attempt. I started with sweet roll dough. That turned out well and was suprisingly easy so I moved on to Ciabatta breads. Those turned out consistently well also so, being me, I decided that it was time to try making my own bread. After spending some time rummaging around in the garage for the infrequently used electric bread machines I had obtained when my parents moved North, I finally unearthed one and cleaned it all up so I could make homemade bread the easy way. Well, as we all discover, the easy way isn't always the successful way. Loaf after loaf, no matter what recipe I tried, turned out with a sunken top or collapsed entirely. Boo.
     Cut to a few weeks of living on Ciabatta bread for sandwiches later and I had an epiphany! What if I made bread...In The Oven! What a concept! *Insert sarcastic smirk here* Winning! Making bread in the oven was not only successful, but quite addicting as well! I kept using the recipes (and I loosely follow them) out of my bread machine cookbooks, but I toyed around with baking times/temps and VOILA! Wheat bread, French bread, Dark chocolate cinnamon breads...You name it, I can make it! There's something so centering about the smell of bread baking. It's almost magical!

Shaped and doubled and ready to bake!

Fresh out of the oven!
Have any of you tried your hand at making bread? How did your experiments go?

Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Bread
Ciabatta Bread
Buttermilk Honey Wheat Bread
What's your favorite kind of bread?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I'm not dead!

That's me in the middle! Only brown belt to earn a medal!
     She's ALIVE! Yes, it's true, I'm alive and doing quite very well for someone who seems to be going in 40 directions at any given time. Thanks for asking! I do realize that I haven't posted in 7 months, and I also realize that a lot of folks probably didn't even realize that I had seemingly abandoned my blog, but now I'm back *cue triumphant return music*, and I'm better than EVER!
     Let's get caught up a bit, shall we? Ok, I'm going to pull the pin in this update grenade, toss it and run...Ready? GO!

August:Tested for rank on my brown belt, tore hamstring DURING aforementioned karate test, managed to finish testing in mind exploding pain,registered offspring for school,finished most of the outside renovations on the house,still teaching karate despite injured leg,didn't sew much.
September:Arranged carpools, shopped for school supplies,offspring started school(super yay!),still teaching karate, still nursing injured hamstring, still didn't sew much,mourned not getting away at all during the Summer
October:Hamstring healing nicely but now I have an injured heel,still teaching karate but now wearing running shoes due to injured heel,received results from karate test in August, now a 2nd kyu brown belt-one more test before blackbelt, had a big ass BBQ to celebrate the home improvements, started sewing again for holiday season.
November:Didn't compete in karate tournament for the first time in 7 years due to injured heel that was taking it's own sweet time healing, got to watch the boy earn himself a medal in the karate tournament, listened to the girl play her violin every day, sewing A LOT, made awesome stockings for my Etsy shop, sold stuff.
December: Sew sew sew sew, thoroughly enjoyed the MANY custom order stockings I made!, baked, decorated,still wearing shoe whilst teaching karate,had a truly magnificent holiday season!
February: Back to [ab]normal normal life, foot feels much better, training without shoes in karate, got ready to compete in International Karate Championships, taught myself how to bake breads, competed in karate tournament and earned a bronze medal in women's 40+ brown and black belt division free sparring, baked an obscene amount of bread and bread type products.
WHEW! So if you haven't slipped into a coma, now we're all caught up! I will be blogging on a more regular type schedule now, I WILL! I know that I've left you alone in your skinny pants, crying into your latte and tweeting about your feelings for too many months now, but I will be posting a couple times a week from now on...and trust me, I think it will be mutually satisfying. Stay tuned for my very first FOOD PORN BLOG ENTRY...
Homemade dark chocolate pastries!

Jump back and kiss yourself! XXX~Amy