Category Archives: taekwondo

big decision


Ninja Boy and I came to a big decision this week – we have quit Taekwondo.

We were finding that it was hard to maintain the motivation between classes – we were forgetting to practise until the last minute, and often we didn’t feel like even going to class.  When we got there, we enjoyed it though.

Being a black belt leads to certain expectations – that you will make TKD a way of life, that you will be committed to excellence, jump at the chance to attend seminars and tournaments, and help teach the lower ranks.

Ninja Boy and I weren’t totally comfortable with the teaching part, and we couldn’t always make it to tournaments.  When we did, I used to wonder why I put myself through all the nerve-racking performance!

I realised that it is very much an ego-based activity – being able to “show off”, fraternise with the other black belts, compare injuries (!), drop it into the conversation with non-TKD people.

And with the arrival of September, there were more expenses in the pipeline.  We had paid for classes up to November, but registration and insurance always comes up in September, Ninja Boy would have needed a bigger uniform, and there would have been the expectation of attending a tournament or two in the fall and probably testing for 2nd Dan in December, all of which takes money.

With all this spinning around in my head, I had an emotional period one day trying to sort it all out.  Obviously Ninja Boy and I had to come to an agreement – he said he’d go along with whatever I decided.  I emailed the instructor, giving him the news, and ironically Ninja Boy did finally show some emotion about giving up.  He’s such an “in the moment” boy, though, that the next morning he was fine.  He moves on…a good example to follow.

So now our dark winter evenings will be free, and I’m looking forward to spending more time knitting.  So far, that hasn’t happened, as I’ve been freezing peaches, running MacAddict to the store for new computer parts, and reading the 75 knitting magazines that a kind Ravelry member was giving away.  Reading about knitting and looking at patterns is a wonderful way to spend time, but it doesn’t actually make for any progress on the WIPs and it just makes you want to knit a bunch more stuff.

I was buying yarn at my LYS yesterday and the owner reminded me of the Tuesday Knit Nights, so I will be making an effort to go to a few of those again.  Life goes on….

A Beanathon


My boys spent the afternoon with friends watching Mr Bean episodes and eating popcorn, while I chatted with my friends, knitted on some fingerless mitts* and drank tea…so we all had fun.  It would have been nice to stay longer but we had to get home, have dinner and go to Taekwondo in the evening.

The fall schedule has the black belt classes starting at 7.45 on Mondays and Wednesdays now, finishing at 9.  We have an extra 15 minutes per class to allow for warmups, cooldowns and discussion.

We had a thunderstorm and some rain this evening with more rain forecast, so I don’t know whether our planned beach day will go ahead tomorrow.

*The mitts are my Easy Fingerless Mitts pattern (in the sidebar) – I don’t have a photo yet.

no longer naked



How long ago did I make these dolls?   It was at least a month, I think.  They have been waiting patiently, nakedly, for me to clothe them and today their patience was rewarded.


The top photo shows the shorts I made for both dolls – one has green dotty fabric, the other brown.  The second photo shows them decently covered up and ready to be given to two little girls……well, almost.  I want to get ribbons or something for their hair, so one more tiny step.

I also started sewing a bag today – more about that later.  I’ll show you my current bag, which is falling apart, and the one I am making to replace it.

It was a good day for fitness today – weights in the morning, Taekwondo this evening – and since I read about the Couch to 5K running program (sorry, can’t remember whose blog it was) I have decided that I’m going to give it a go.  Lego Nut and Ninja Boy will be joining me.  One of the requirements that our TKD instructor has listed in our eligibility for 2nd Dan testing is to run across the Okanagan Lake Bridge and back.  That’s 4 kilometres.  So doing the Couch to 5K will prepare us nicely.

Board-breaking and picnicking


For once, we had a busy weekend.  Not just the usual grocery shopping.  But before I tell you about it, you really must check out this blog.  Here she is, telling us about what she did for Worldwide Knit in Public Day (which was on Saturday) and….well, you’ll just have to go and look…

Me, I took my sock knitting out with me on Saturday but I didn’t have time to knit.  Ninja Boy and I joined some of our other Taekwondo club members at a local park for a children’s festival.  Our instructor had booked a space so we could demonstrate our talents and recruit new students.  Every hour we’d do a quick warm-up, a pattern, some pad-kicking and board-breaking.  Ninja Boy’s speciality is a flying side kick over pads or people.

IMG_2681_2I’ve blurred out faces to preserve anonymity.  That’s our instructor there on the right.  And do you see those three people on the ground, being jumped over?  I’m on the right of the group! Ninja Boy’s foot has just split the board in the above photo.  The photo below is just afterwards, when he turned and jumped over three more people and broke another board.  In fact, he did three in a row.

IMG_2682_2Cool, huh!

So that was Saturday – dinner was late that evening.  On Sunday, dinner was at a local park.  It’s a beautiful place, right on the lake, with grass, picnic tables, sandy beach, and camping.  The thunderclouds were, once again, threatening, as they have on and off all week, but it was very pleasant down by the lake.  There was a cooling breeze which was a relief after spending a couple of hours slaving over a hot stove to get all the food ready!

Being vegan, I tend to overdo things when it comes to potluck-type events.  I assume that whatever anyone else brings won’t be edible so I take a lot of food.  I outdid myself this time – hummus and flax crackers, ratatouille, tofu loaf with ketchup, tomato salad, coconut and chocolate chip cookies, a huge bottle of apple juice, dill pickles and salt-and-pepper potato chips.  Most of it did get eaten.

The reason for the event was FOUR June birthdays.  Lego Nut is going to be 11 tomorrow, and my friend will be 75 later this month.  She suggested a picnic with some other friends who also have birthdays this month, so there was a total of 11 of us.  We had a great time, with good conversation, bocce ball, eating and even some swimming (the latter for two of my kids, anyway).

Good times!



Hmmm, seems like I’ve been a little lazy this week about blogging, but the more busy life gets, the less blogging gets done!

I’m sitting here with a stiff neck this morning – our Taekwondo classes have been getting more and more…shall we say…violent lately.  Our instructor wants us to get better at self defence – not the sort where someone grabs your hand politely, you do a couple of pre-determined moves and break the hold – but the type where you are grabbed anywhere by any one of a number of attackers and you get out of it by any means possible.  I have some lovely new bruises from Monday’s class.  It’s a lot of fun – many people wince when they see my bruises and ask me why the hell I do it, but I do enjoy it.

I’ve had a very sociable week.  Tuesday I met with a couple of friends for tea at a local chocolate cafe (which sounds lovely except that I doubt they had anything vegan so I just had a cup of tea).  We have a project that we’re collaborating on but I can’t say anything about it just yet because it’s in the development stage.

Wednesday afternoon we went to the beach.  The forecast was for thundery showers and we saw many threatening clouds above the mountains that surround the valley but it stayed hot and sunny the whole time we were there.  It wasn’t a big group of homeschoolers, but there were enough to make it fun.

I took my sock knitting, which I’m still remembering to take everywhere because I never seem to add to it at home, and I’m finally on the toe of the first purple sock.  I was reading a novel called Casting Spells by Barbara Bretton, in which the main character runs a yarn shop (but she also has magical powers and lives in a very odd town) and there were a few knitting related extras at the end, including a “star toe” for a sock.  It’s just decreasing at six points around the toe, alternated with two plain rounds, until there are only a few stitches left – no grafting.  So that’s what I’m doing for these socks, just to see how it looks.

Thankfully today I don’t have to go anywhere.  A day at home to potter, make some bread from the huge 20kg bag of organic wholewheat flour that I bought at the bulk food store this week, straighten up the house, check the state of the bathrooms etc.

Have a great day!

June is Strength and Stretch month


April was Raw month.  May was Feel Crappy month.  June is going to be Strength and Stretch month.  My theory is that announcing it here makes it more likely that I’ll do it!

My weight training program has been non-existent for about a year.  My yoga moves fizzled out some time ago.

Now is the time to get moving again.  It’s been so hot the last few days that I can only consider exercising downstairs, which works for the weights because that’s where my bench is.  The stretching I can do anywhere.

The summer program for Taekwondo means a slight change in class times, but we’ll still be training on Monday and Wednesday evenings.  A lot of students take a break for the school holidays, but we always continue through (especially as school holidays don’t mean a lot to us anyway).

Did I say we were finished our official “school year”?  We were done May 23rd.  The last reports were submitted for the two younger boys, the annual reviews done, and we’re having a rest from “shoulds” for a while.  The boys are free to do what they will.  I have cleared out the book cupboard, put aside some old Usborne books to give away, and rearranged the rack in the dining room.  We have a display rack that a friend was getting rid of – it’s a useful tool to keep things visible that otherwise would be forgotten about.  The art supplies are there; books on origami; a few Usborne puzzle and search books that we haven’t looked at for ages.  The last of Ninja Boy’s school funds were spent on a pack of coloured Sculpey clay and I’ll be encouraging the boys to remember their arts and crafts over the summer.

In case you’re wondering, we have a lot of Usborne books – I used to be a consultant, selling them at home parties, and I built up quite a collection.  I still maintain that you could homeschool your children using just Usborne books!

MacAddict, however, is struggling with Math 10.  He’s doing an online course with a math mentor.  I am doing my best to help him with it, but we’re only on the first unit and we’re finding it HARD! I left school at 16 (in Britain) after achieving a respectable 8 O-levels – I went on to a vocational college for a year and then found a job.  I suspect that this high school math that we’re working on now is the equivalent of A-level math, which I never did.   It hurts the brain!



Times are changing.  The Taekwon-do club that Ninja Boy and I have been attending for the last four and a half years is changing its name.  The young instructor who took over the teaching from the owner of the club a couple of years ago is now going to be the business owner.

We’re moving to new premises on June 1st but we don’t yet know what the new name will be.  The club is quite small but the class sizes are perfect and there are many black belts to assist with teaching, though our third Dan instructor will remain the class leader most of the time.

Monday night, we had a tough core workout from which I was suffering (sore muscles) all day Tuesday and today.  I also had a headache all day today but I still went to class tonight because I knew that I’d forget about it while in class.  We had a very sweaty sparring session for most of the class, followed by some self-defence.  Three of our club members went to a seminar in Vancouver at the weekend and learned some “commando” type self-defence.  They are now passing on some of their knowledge, and one of them is going to be training to be an official instructor of this technique in the summer.

I could use a hot tub tonight however my ordinary bathtub will have to suffice.

Into the Wilderness


No, I’m not going on a trip.  Well, maybe I have been on a trip this week – in my head at least.  You know what it’s like when you get stuck in a good book.

My vote for novel of the week is Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati.  Over 800 pages of compelling reading.  There are disadvantages to finding a book worth reading, of course – the main one is that you don’t want to do anything else and things like sleeping, making dinner and housework get in the way of what you really want to be doing.

Last time I blogged, I said I didn’t anticipate much knitting, but I did get an hour’s work done on the sweater sleeves Monday morning while I was waiting for the garage to take off the winter studded tires and put on the all-season ones.

And I did a little sock knitting while I was “on duty” at the hospital Wednesday morning.  There were quite a few visitors to greet and send in to the ICU and I also took myself off on a tour of the hospital to familiarise myself with the place.  Both times I have been at the hospital I have ended up with a bad headache for the rest of the day.  I don’t know what’s causing it.  Taekwondo in the evening helped me to forget about it.

Tonight was our club tournament night – we have some people coming from another town to provide some friendly competition once a month – Ninja Boy fought twice, losing the first time and winning the second time.  I thought I was doing OK against my opponent, a tall blue belt girl who I think was 12 but looked 16, but I didn’t win.  One of my punches caught her on the nose and she had a nosebleed.

Today is the last day of my raw month.  I am SO looking forward to tomorrow.  I have plans to make pizza for everyone, but Tai Chi Man and I will have a different one from the boys.  It’s a recipe from Vegan Express, the book I blogged about recently, and instead of tomato sauce it has a white (tofu) topping plus caramelized onions and yams.  I can’t wait 🙂

And a new blog that I discovered this week, recommended to me by someone on Ravelry, is vegandad.  I’m looking forward to seeing what he feeds his family and hoping for some good ideas for future dinners.

Taekwon-do sparring

ninja boy in action

ninja boy in action

I just finished my regular computer stuff – emails, blogs and Ravelry – and before I sign off I thought I’d leave you with this.  These photos are from our recent sparring night.  I have blurred out the faces in the background to preserve their anonymity.

Above is Ninja Boy on the left executing one of the kicks that led him to a win.  Below you can see me in defensive pose – I lost that fight.  I have a gumshield in which makes me look goofier than usual!

me in action

me in action

Taekwon-do tournament


Our Saturday started at 5.30am.  This was a tough one – I usually am not awake until MUCH later (between 8 and 9am).  However, Ninja Boy and I had to be ready early to drive to a Taekwon-do tournament.

After getting our breakfast and lunch prepared to take with us, and having checked that we had everything we needed (uniforms, belts, sparring gear, mouthguards, water, food, etc) we left the house at 6.25.  I was determined not to be late, so had allowed plenty of time to drive the 120 kilometres (about 75 miles) to get to the town where the tournament was being held.

I was nervous about the drive.  Usually when we go out of town, Tai Chi Man drives.  He drives every day as part of his job, he’s more comfortable with the speed and road conditions, and anyway I like being a passenger because I can knit!

At this time of the year, the road is still snowy and foggy in places, as it involves a mountain pass.  Sounds very rugged, doesn’t it, sort of rocky and mountain goaty, but apart from the small sign that says “whatever-it-was summit” it all looks the same.

The speed limit was 110 km/h most of the way (68 mph) and after my initial hesitancy I got accustomed to the faster pace.

We arrived in good time for the published opening time.  We were under the impression that the red/black belt meeting was to start at 8.15 – we arrived at 7.45 to find…..nobody.  It was the right town, the right school, but for some reason there was no one around.  Gradually people started to arrive, including some bringing news that there was a rumour that the start time had been delayed.  After much standing around in the cool snowy parking lot, the custodian eventually arrived to open the school at 9am. Everyone piled inside and those competing changed into their doboks. Parents and siblings filled the bleachers.

The black and red belts were called up for an introductory talk by the hosting instructor.  (No explanation or apology was given for the late start. This was a provincial competition and they knew people were coming in from all over BC and yet they changed the start time at the eleventh hour.)  This talk took about half an hour, going over everything we needed to know to help run the tournament (refereeing, judging, how much contact was acceptable, how many points for a punch or kick, etc).  Competition FINALLY started at about 11am (only two hours late).

Now that we’re part of the ITF, the way things are done is slightly different.  The black belts performed all their patterns and sparred in a large central “ring”.  Four smaller rings were set up around this central one for colour belt competition (ie, all ranks below black).  We senior ladies (there were only three in my division) performed our patterns early in the day.  I was lucky to get a “bye” – in other words, the other two ladies performed together, and the winner of that pair then went up against me.  Black belt patterns were performed in front of five, black-suited judges, giving or deducting points depending on our correct moves, use of power, knee spring, timing, etc.  My heart was nearly beating out of my chest as I stepped up to the square.  Not only did I have to perform my choice of 1st Dan black belt pattern, I had to also do a second specified by the judges.  It was the pattern I won gold with in Prince George two years ago.  I did miss out two punches in the middle, and I realised I had made a mistake as soon as I caught sight of the other woman doing it correctly.  However, I continued on as if everything was OK, and finished well.  The other woman had stopped and I wondered why – she told me afterwards that she thought that SHE had made a mistake when she saw me turn into a double knifehand guarding block instead of a punch.  This threw her off and she forgot what to do next.  So my mistake actually helped me to win…..and I won the gold medal.

The next few hours were spent judging the patterns and sparring of various ranks and ages, trying to fit in a quick snack or a bathroom break when I could.

There were four boys in Ninja Boy’s division and for once he was the tallest.  I knew he’d do well in patterns – he performed his black belt pattern perfectly but unfortunately he faltered while doing the pattern that the judges specified, and the other boy won.  Ninja Boy’s technique was way better, but his error meant he received silver rather than gold (but that’s still great).  In sparring, he received a couple of knocks, one of which was a foot to the face (grazed eyelid) and his comparative lack of aggressiveness meant no medal.

My sparring match was later in the day.  Once again the other two ladies fought it out first, then the winner fought against me.  It turned out that I had to fight my friend from my own club, so I knew she’d beat the heck out of me!  She’s taller, stronger and more aggressive.  I got through the two minutes without any major injuries and received a silver medal for my efforts.

The competition eventually ended at about 6pm.  Ninja Boy had to tear himself away from his new buddies and the cool climbing wall on the stage and we climbed in the car to come home.  We made it home by 7.25, tired but happy.