Eating to fuel your body

More opening up....this is starting to be more of a personal journal than a public blog, oy! Clean diet

We all struggle with different things and while I struggle in many areas of my life, I am only prepared to share the vainest one.  When I started working out, I wanted to get smaller in size. I was a chubbette and I didn't want to be a chubbette.

So, I did what I could to get thinner, I worked out.I worked out a LOT. I would get up at 4am to get to the gym, I would swim for 1 hour then I would spin my heart out in spin class, then I would put in 30-45 minutes of lifting (baby weights). I lost the weight within a year. I started running to get thinner, note, it wasn't to get stronger, it was to get thinner. So I ran, and I ran a LOT. I got very good at running, I went from running 12 minute miles to 7 minute miles. But, I reached a point where running was not enough. I was thin but I looked frail. I don't want to look frail, there was no muscle in me, at all! I was just a thin, soft woman. My middle was squishy still (and it still is, ha!).

Then, I finally progressed, I didn't want to be just skinny, I wanted to be both, skinny and strong. Thus, I started lifting heavier, started attending crossfit classes. While I enjoy crossfit, it is not my first love, my heart belongs in the running world. Perhaps it is because I am so small and I know that I stand very little chance to be a "good" crossfitter, unless I eat super clean and get my ass to the box more often and kill myself at the bar each and everyday AND stop running long distance. There lies my problem-I am not willing to let go of the long distance running. I love it. I love the challenge it presents to me and I love crushing my previous times. But, continuing in the long distance means that I most likely won't be able to lift very heavy. But even with lifting, my midsection is still squishy!

I have tried all forms of exercise. I exercise all the time. I exercise hard. I know that I give 100 percent every time. Even when I don't drop to the ground after a wod, I have given it my all. But the midsection still remains squishy!

In the progression of things, you probably know where I am going with this. Yes, I finally realized that no matter how hard I work out, it is not going to matter unless I fuel my body properly. All the delicious tortillas, tortas, bread, fruit tarts, chocolate covered marshmallows, pasta, and rice--all of it is getting stuck in my midsection. Each time I put one of these things in my mouth, I am sabotaging my very own goals. :(

Eating habits are very hard to break. Working out is easy, eating properly is not.

And thus, I start my journey into the next stage--clean eating. I am 4 days into it....it is hard. I woke up with a headache from the no sugar intake. I am cranky because of the no sugar and the no bad carbs.

Again, working out is easy, eating properly is not.


Opening Up

Kiddos 080 Kiddos 090

It has been awhile since I opened up on my blog about my life. Yeah, you would think that because it was my blog that I would open up more. Honestly, it is for me that I am writing it, however, it is difficult to write and then be open/accepting of the comments that come.

I made a difficult choice last month, actually, it has been a transition for me now for a few months. I have been working my butt off each evening teaching fitness classes. I *LOVE* teaching fitness classes. I find profound joy in helping others get their sweat on. It is even better when they come a few months later and tell me that I have helped them in shedding a few pounds. I am very passionate about teaching and I share that passion in each of my classes. I go hard and I leave everything at the class.

However, my love for teaching was having an effect in my home. One that I didn't realize for awhile. I have one of the most supportive, loving, caring husbands in this world. He has been the backbone of our home since I started teaching. Each new class I took, he would nod and say "go ahead, you can do it, I will be here with the kiddos." He has been the best. I have been teaching now for 3 years. 3 years this man has been taking care of the kiddos, feeding them, taking care of their after school activities, playing, ironing, and all that other stuff that comes with taking care of a home, all while I "played" away.

Last year, I saw that my little daughter wanted to spend time with me, but my answer was always "I can't right now. I gotta get ready to teach" or "I can't right now, I gotta memorize this new choreography" or "I can't right now, I gotta go to a meeting" or the very worst answer "I can't, Mommy is too tired". My kiddos were suffering without telling me a thing. One morning, I woke up and I realized that I had completely missed my son's 5th grade and my daughter's 2nd grade. It sucked and I felt like the worst mother on the planet. My awesome hubby, til this very day, has never complained about my teaching or my over scheduling myself.  How crazy was I? Let's see, at one point, I was teaching 12 Zumba classes and 4 spin classes.  Most of these classes were in the evening :/.

Now, it wasn't because of the gazillions dollars I was making. Every fitness instructor knows that our "career" is more of a "hobby" than anything else. So it wasn't financial gain that was keeping me at work. It was just my love for teaching fitness.

So the bottom line was: do I love teaching fitness classes or do I love my children. I love both. But I can tell you without a doubt that I definitely love my children more. So, something had to give, and I decided to stop teaching evening classes completely. 

Not teaching evening class will be very difficult since most gyms, fitness institutions want/need evening instructors. Last month, I closed my evening classes and opened two morning ones that I can teach while my kids are at school. I don't know if my morning classes would be successful but I am going to give it a try.

One thing is for sure--I am not willing to miss out on any more days, weeks, months, years of being with my kiddos.

Now, I will crawl back into my shell...

 


Mommy Afternoon

As many of you know, I am a PE teacher and have been now for 2 years, going on my 3rd year. I love being with the little ones at school. It is truly wonderful to share my love of fitness with little ones.

When I come home, I have already spent my day with about 120 little ones. I come home so exhausted and frankly, I need a 15 break just to myself. It is hard though because I come home and my kiddos come home full of news from their school and their day. I am trying to be a better momma and "be here" for them, not only physically but mentally too. I want to have conversations with them so that one day, when they are teens, they can feel comfortable talking to me about their problems.

Today, it was such a wonderful day *can you read sarcasm between the lines*. Anyways, I came home so tired and all I wanted to do was sit and just vegetate in front of the computer and look through pintrest. About 5 minutes after I came through the door, my little ones arrived. My daughter was upset because her teacher took a "$1" off her account because she got up to throw some garbage out when it was clean up time. Obviously, it was miscommunication. Teacher said "clean up" so NyNy got her garbage from her desk and went to the back to throw it out. Teacher simply wanted to have the desk cleaned and not to have anyone getting up and walkign around. NyNy was upset and very sad because she had lost her play money. I completely understand and my first thought was to say, "really, mija, it doesn't matter, it is not real money." But that wasn't what she wanted to hear, it wasn't about the money, it was about her getting her feelings hurt :(. I was grateful that I was here to give her a little hug and tell her that everything was going to be alright.

Another mommy moment--I have one of the smartest boys, I truly do. He is a little genious in sport's fanatic disguise. Typically, he doesn't need any help with homework or school work. Today, I asked him to show me his math homework, which he had finished at school. I just wanted to look through it and see what he was doing in class. I checked through the page and saw that he had indeed finished it. Then, I started reading through it. Decimals and adding and subtracting have never been my strongest point, so I decided to sharpen my skills with his homework. As we were going through it, he was explaining to me how to subtract decimals and how to find the greatest common factors (I still have no idea what he said to me, ha! I am not the brightest crayon in the box!). As we were reviewing the homework, we found 3 problems that were not correct. He was so grateful for my help and in reality all I did was do my "job".

I am so blessed to have the opportunity to be their Momma :). I even get extra points today--we ate dinner before 7pm!!! Yay for me!

Tomorrow will be a different story....may I have the patience that I need to be a good Momma.


Guilty!!! But, I have to do it. Too many people around me make me feel sick....dizzy. I have a slight problem with enclosed spaces and when I am around too many people. I have to run as fast as I can to get away and find my little "happy solo spot".

Going out too fast


Trip to Moab

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Our darling exchange student/son from Japan saw our Arches and Canyonlands magnets on our fridge and he was so excited about them. We told him we could take him there if he wanted, even after we told him of the 6 hour drive in the car, he was all for it! So we packed our bags and took the kiddos on a little family getaway.

I love spending time with my kiddos. Each time that I want to complain, I only have to remember that they are growing way too fast and the day is approaching when they would much rather spend time with their friends than their old mother.

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First stop was the sand dune hill. They have loved that hill ever since Bryant was a wee toddler. He climbed it then and he climbs it now, faster and faster each year. My heart stops each time he gallops down the hill and sometimes I am guilty of closing my eyes when I see him take a tumble. This time around, it was just even more fun with Kodai. They all climbed the hill 4 times, me, only once and that was more than enough. I climbed all the way up just to take pictures of all my little ones. My biggest fear is that I'll go senile when I am old and that I won't remember anything, so I try to capture everythign with pictures, thus my facination with Instagram.

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After the sand dune, we checked in at our hotel, which we totally loved! Check out that awesome pool! Ya, it was totally rad and the kiddos loved it. Hubby and I just "cooked" ourselves in one of the mini-hot tubs while the kiddos played.

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Dinner was alright, I have yet to find a place that I really like in Moab. We took the kiddos to Pizza Hut--something that our son Kodai would be okay eating and that wouldn't break the bank too much.

Second day, we went out to Arches to take pictures and see all the wonderful sights. But, before we got to enjoy the day, we realized that we had a very, very bad flat tire....this happened about 100 meters away from the entrance to the park! Talk about lame! Hubby got it changed and we went to the tire repair place to get it fixed. Finally, 2 hours after we wanted to, we made it to Arches.

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We have yet to visit Arches on a day that is not super windy. We got hit badly this time, I think we each came home with about 1 lb of sand in our hair and body.

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We got a chance to visit some awesome sites this time around. We have never gone all the way around and we were sure pleased with all the new arches and rock formations we saw. Totally in love with Moab!!!

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We are already planning our next trips: Anasazi ruins and Zions....yes!


Weights Ratios

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to go and talk to a knowledgeable coach. He was explaining to us how imporant it was to know our Back Squat as that we can tell you more or less the weights for other lifts. I have never heard of this before so I was very interested in this knowledge and wrote as much as I could down. Now, this is only for my benefit and reference.

For reference purposes: I was about 115 lbs when I last maxed out my back squat. I could be heavier now, but I don't own a scale.

Back Squat: 165 lbs  (Dec 13, 2012)

Deadlift: 125% of Back Squat

Front Squat: 85-90% of Back Squat

Power Clean: 70-75 % of Back Squat

Overhead Squat (OHS): 65-70% of Back Squat

Snatch: 90-100% of OHS

Bench Press: 50% of Back Squat (truth is, I got lost writing it all down)

According to those percentages. I should have the following numbers, minimum

Deadlift: 206 lbs

Front Squat: 140 lbs

Power Clean: 115 lbs

OHS: 107 lbs

Snatch: 96 lbs

Bench Press: 82 lbs

Now, the coach did mention the Snatch but the truth I couldn't remember. I know that he said something along the lines of not snatching more than you can overhead squat, which makes complete sense.

Once you have the numbers, you can see where you fall short and work on those areas that need work. I know for sure that I need to work on my OHS and the Snatch. Both of which, I suck at.


Mantua 5 Mile Race

Saturday, I tagged along for a 5 mile race. A few of my friends were going down there to run it and I wasn't planning on doing anything on Saturday, just staying home and doing absolutely nothing. So at almost midnight on Friday night, I decided to just go and run the race.

We ran around the dam, just a beautiful, peaceful morning. It was so much fun. Typically, I worry about my placing and how I will perform, not this day, I just decided to go and enjoy myself. I truly enjoyed the morning with all my friends.

Mantua Race

It was such a special day! It was my friend Jo's very first 5 mile run. She did AMAZING!!! I feel so proud of her :). I was able to run beside my friend Angie who recently came back from a back injury. Her energy was so strong and I felt so happy running next to her--indiscribable feeling! I love runners!!! I can say a gazillion good things about each one of these people :).

And completely unexpected, I got 1st in my AG! I was very happily surprised :).

Mantua 1st place AG copy

 


Drop 13 Half Marathon

Drop 13 2
Had the chance to run the Drop 13 Half marathon this weekend. My hubby was a pacer for the 1:30 group with the American Flyers Race Pacers. I was supposed to pace the 1:45 but since my ankle still is suffering from tendinitis, I decided not to pace. I didn't want to fail my group just in case I couldn't hold my pace. We drove down the night before and picked up our packets. It was awesome to go to the Salt Lake Running Co store, super awesome running store, it is like runners-heaven!!! I picked a little something! That sweet Pearl Izumi cropped jacket! Talk about cute and functional!

Drop 13 Half Marathon

Hunny and I stayed all to ourselves at a hotel, rare occasion, however with a 4am wake up call, no time for romance, hahahaha.

We walked to the bus load up from our hotel and found our pacer friends and my sweet friend Angie from crossfit. We loaded the bus with no problems. The ride up was easy and was able to nap a little. Start of the race was a bit hectic though, not enough porta-potties and the lines were super long. I had to go so I needed to stay in line otherwise I would poop my pants! So I waited and waited and waited. The race started and guess where I was, yes, I was still waiting to use the pooper!!! Both, Ang and I were there waiting. As I waited for the bathroom, and saw the race start, I thought well, it is better to not poop my pants.

Both Ang and I started the race at the same time, we were all alone with another runner at the start line, kind of lonely. However, it was kind of nice to see all the runners as we got closer and closer to them. We were joking while waiting for the bathroom that we could start counting our "Ragnar kills" that very day hahaha. Being at the very back was not what I was planning. I wanted to run with Sam but there was no way I could run fast enough to catch him, I was a good 5 minutes behind him to start off. But, I certainly tried. I kept looking for the Pacer signs to see how far I had to go to catch him. He was the first pacer, so I had a lot of ground to cover. I ran as fast as my ankle could carry me. It did alright but around mile 3 it started bothering me so I took some ibuprofen for the pain. Also, my stupid gut was starting to burn so I took some tums too. I can take the pain from the ankle as that is pain but the burning in my belly is not something I can control or help. As I ran, I kept passing the pacers and they were all so friendly and awesome.

Finally, I reached my friend Josh who was pacing the 1:35 group, it meant that I was that much closer to Sam but my ankle just didn't have it in me for the 6:30 pace I needed to catch him. The entire race really went super fast, I was very surprised when I saw the 10 mile marker. I even doubled checked my Garmin to make sure it was correct. It really felt like time had flown by. But when I saw the 10 mile marker, I knew it was crunch time and time to drop the hammer and leave it all that I had in the tank.

The last three miles were AWESOME. Usually, I am dead tired but not this time, I felt strong and knew I could continue at a good pace. I looked down at my watch and it said 1:29, I knew hubby had already crossed the finish line so I dug deep and ran my heart out to the finish line. I saw my sweet hubby there, waiting for me :). He made my day!

What I found hard about the race: not knowing my place in the field. I started at the end so I didn't know how far back I was from the other women. If I had seen them in front of me or known how far back I was, it could have helped me push a little harder.

I finished the race in 1:30:34. I placed 1st in my age group and 5th overall. Overall, it was a great race. I still love the course as much as I did last September. Drop 13 3


Utah Valley Marathon

UVM marathon

Second marathon of the year! We were so stoked. A group of friends were joining us and hubby and I were pacing the 4:10 group (so we thought!). We were ready and excited. We heard the course was mainly downhill so we were prepared for that downhill.

Morning of the race came and we went to bus load up no problem. We were given our shirts and our pacing sign. We were ready and happy. Took a wee nap on the bus and just chilled on the way up.

Up at the start line, our pacing captain said there was a problem and that the 3:30 pacer (the fastest pacer for the group) had not been able to make it. They wanted Sam (hubby) to pace it, which meant I would have been alone at 4:10. I hate pacing by myself-it gets quite boring as no one talks to you and if you need to use the bathroom, you are on your own, eek. But, I also knew I couldn't do the 3:30 with my bad ankle. It was a tough choice so we figured if I could help hubby with the first half, he could just take off for the last half and get the group in. So we went with it.

The race started and we were on track and had a few friends with us. We were enjoying the warm temperature and the nice terrain. We chatted and cheered people on. We were doing just peachy! But then, we started noticing that people were asking for bathrooms, we couldn't spot one at all. People kept dropping off from our group but we continued on. The rolling hils came and my ankle struggled up them but hubby was on pace. He was just a few paces ahead of me. I would catch him on the downhill and just drop off a bit on the uphill. We were doing great!

The half way mark was approaching we were jumping for joy at how well we were doing. But it was short lived. My hubby needed a bathroom badly, his guts were hurting from holding it, but not one bathroom came.  Finally, we saw a row of potties at the 13 mile marker. He went ahead and used the potty. I kept going with the group and with the help of our friend Josh, we continued on for the next 2 miles. Sam caught up to us and I gave him the sign and I dropped back to let my ankle rest up.

However, around mile 18, I saw hubby up ahead and realized that something was wrong. He was cramping. The heat of the day was catching up to him and no bathrooms around and he needed to use one (again). My ankle tendon wasn't doing too well either. I kept going with the pace sign but I knew that there was no way my ankle could handle the pace necessary to reach the time needed. I was bummed but still kept going.

Even with the pain of my tendon, I kept going and cheering those around. I had to walk a bit every now and then to allow my tendon to rest a bit.

I hobbled to the end :(. I seriously couldn't run by the end, I was more dragging my foot as I couldn't lift it. As I crossed the finish line, my good friends were there, Coach Don, Kev, and Josh and all three of them took me to the medical tent. They pampered me as they brought me drinks and food while the medics wrapped my ankle up. Bah humbug! Another marathon where my tendonitis got the best of me. But I still had a great time despite this.

I was able to see my friends, Bianca and Gloria, finish their marathon and by then the ice was doing its job on my tendon and I was feeling a bit better.

Finished in about 3:47...perhaps, I am just getting old and long are the days where I can finish in 3:30ish. Oh well, I still had a great time. It was a hot race, no porta-potties, and my tendonitis but still a great day for a race.  But the best race of all...the race I had to do to the hotel to use the bathroom...hahaha, I bet I was first place in that category!


My Track Star Girl

NyNy

My sweet NyNy stepping out of her comfort zone. She loves track and field, she enjoys everything from it, except the pressure that comes with competing. She doesn't like to lose so she prefers not to compete. I completely understand the feeling. She feels that with losing it means she is not good enough, she feels less than everyone else. We are doing our best to teach her that not winning doesn't mean that she didn't do her best.  She is so little compared to everyone else in her age group that she has to work twice as hard as everyone else--that in my eyes shows me a true winner :).

The above photo is one I took of her 50 meter dash. She was so excited! Look at her beautiful long stride. She gave her very best. She came in 5th with a time of about 9 seconds :). She is a great runner and I am looking forward to seeing her run more and when she sees her potential I see, it is going to be marvellous :).

 


Our Track Star

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The calm before the storm! He was exhausted today, he had tennis at 9, then a hike up to the Wind Caves, then we spent the afternoon at the pool, by 5pm, he was exhausted! We got to the track and all he wanted to do was sleep, so he laid down on the green to sleep, thus I call it "the calm before the storm". :)

 This kid is going to district! He did the 200 meters in 32 seconds; the 800 in 2:49 and he had a Standing Long Jump of 6'6". Videos a little later :)


ING New York Marathon

I am in!!! I am in!!! I have wanted to do this marathon since I started running. I never thought I would qualify, however, I did qualify with my Big Cottonwood Half Marathon time from 2012, with a time of 1:28.

When I signed up for the lottery, I really didn't think I would get chosen. However, yesterday, to my great surprise, I received an email letting me know of my status. I had completely forgotten about the application, so it was truly a surprise :).

New York, here we come!!!!

ING NY


Ogden Marathon 2013

Ogden Marathon 2013 small

Talk about a crappy time for a marathon. The weather was nasty! Just plain nasty! It rained and it was cold and windy. And I wasn't dressed appropriately for the type of weather. I thought my jacket was going to be sufficient but apparently it wasn't :(. Bleh!!!

In addition to the weather, my tummy issues came to haunt me again starting at mile 3. It felt like a volcano was erupting inside my belly, not my stomach (not behind my ribs), it burned and it burned. Pain is something else and I can more or less deal with it but this burning is not something that I am used to. The last 23.3 miles were hell for me. More than once I wish I was dead rather than suffering from the burning in my gut.

Despite the burning in my gut, at mile 8, I was on pace to finish at a 3:3oish pace. I felt confident that if I could just get my GI issues worked out that I could have a great race. However, my body temperature dropped too much, I shivered for most of the race to the point that I could barely open my hands to grab water from the aid stations.

At mile 7 or 8, I met one of my pacer friends and he gave me a Tum for my gut burning. It helped a little and I was able to move along but the burning still continued. I tried to fight it off with bananas but nothing helped.

Then my tendinitis in my ankle started bugging me too, I think the cold just aggravated it more and it became so painful to run. I managed to run til mile 23, then I looked inside me and realized that I was dealing with three things that I just couldn't handle-the cold, the burning in my gut, and then my ankle. I was injured. I shouldn't have been running in the first place due to my ankle but if I didn't run Ogden, I can't get into St. George, so I went and lined up at the start line.

I struggled mentally the last three miles. I needed something to quench the inferno in my gut and I was taking anything the aid stations were giving. I knew bread like stuff will just make it burn more but the cookies they were giving out sure felt good and solid and appeased it at the moment of ingestion, not so very much after.

Walking for the last three miles was the most humbling experience of my marathon running experience. I have always toughened it out and at least jogged but not this time. With tears running down my cheeks and my heart breaking, I walked, I walked to quench down the burning in my gut and the pain in my ankle. Then, I would wipe my tears away and talk to myself about "crossfitters never give up" and I would run again for a little bit. Then the burning will become unbearable and the tears would start streaming again and I would repeat  the process. I think more than anything, I was mad at myself, mad that I couldn't overcome the burning, the pain in my ankle and the stupid cold weather/rain.

As I was nearing the finish line, the last stretch is a straight away that you can see the finish line for what seems like an entire mile. I was hobbling along due to my ankle, holding my gut with one arm and trying to keep going. I found a new runner friend who was struggling too and we ran together that last bit. As we ran, we tried to encourage each other to keep going to the end, no more walking, just jog it to the end. An older man came running really strong by our side and as he was running, he was talking to himself really loudly saying "I am strong. I am speed. I am powerful" to which I added "I am tired!". Hahaha, that made my new friend laugh and it kept us happy for the next block.

As we were about to cross the finish line, I saw my hubby and some of my friends on the other side, encouraging me to come forward. I was beat. I didn't have anything else in the tank. I had used all my body had to carry me to that blue mat. I was so cold. I was in pain from my ankle. My belly burned. I wanted nothing else but to cry but my friends were all there. My good friend Gustavo right away saw my discomfort and he tried to get me to drink some water and eat something. Hubby wanted to carry me to aleviate my ankle pain. Me, I just wanted to dig a hole in the ground and die! I had finished but I had finished the worst race of my entire running life. I have never hated running more than I did that very day. It wasn't the running that I hated, it was me, my weak body that couldn't handle it, my weak mind that couldn't overcome the obstacles that were thrown at it. It was the first day in a very long time that I realized that perhaps, I am not cut to be a runner. I felt defeated.

My time was a miserable 3:49:40.....19 minutes away from my goal


Daily check in

I am in a great group right now where we are accountable to keep track of our food (she gives us some recipes) and we also tell what we did to stay active. I figured it would be nice to have the stuff recorded somewhere, besides my head!

Here is what activities I did today:

Met with the running crew, which today meant only our Coach, coach Don. He shows up whatever After our 4 mile run the weather, so I have to make sure that I show up! We ran 4 miles. My son, Boyo, went with us, this is his 3rd run with us, he did amazing! he ran 3 miles in heavy wind. Amazing little guy!

After running, we headed to crossfit. There was the regular workout and then the lifting class was about to start. The regular class was packed so I decided to do the lifting class first.

4x

Dumbell Bench Press Burnout (at 20 lbs).

10 push ups.

I ended up with 145 dumbell bench presses.

Then we had deadlifts 5, 5, 5, 5, 5 reps.

We started at 65% of our max, for me that was 145 lbs. So, it went like this 145,155, 165, 175, at the last one, we were ready to put in 185 but coach suggested to go heavier. We, my friend Emma and I, said sure, go ahead, loaded up. He loaded up and I was the first one to go. I did 2 reps, ok, then on my 3rd, I lifted my butt before my legs and I felt my back twinge, Coach Josh saw this right away and corrected me immediately, 4th rep, I lifted it wrong and felt it so I dropped it before I could get it way too high. I knew what I was looking for in the way my legs "felt" so the other two reps were a lot better. I didn't know how much was on the bar and that was a good thing, come to find out that Coach Josh had loaded up to 215 lbs. Stoked!!!

After the weightlifting class, my friend Bianca arrived to do the regular crossfit class and I wanted to stay with her and hang out so I did that class. 15:10 seconds long...freak! It was a sweatfest! The WOD today was:

100 Dbl unders
10 Burpees
75 Dbl unders
20 Burpees
50 Dbl unders
30 Burpees
25 Dbl unders
40 Burpees

My double unders still suck. I still do 1 single after each double, so I end up jumping twice as much. One of these days the "stringing doubles" will come to me and that day will be GLORIOUS!


Touching Hearts

Touching Hearts

The story first, my comments are at the bottom italicized.


As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant.

It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners... he is a joy to be around.."

His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle."

His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken."

Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class."

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper That he got from a grocery bag Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume.. But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to." After the children left, she cried for at least an hour.

On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her "teacher's pets.."

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling* her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer.... The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.

The story does not end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear, "Thank you Mrs. Thompson for* believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference."

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you."

(For you that don't know, Teddy Stoddard is the Dr. at Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines that has the Stoddard Cancer Wing.)

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The school district where I work gave us this story a couple of Christmases ago. It has touched my heart since then and each time a new school year starts, I remember this story. Each time a child acts up in class, I remember this story. I believe we are all shaped by our pasts. We are the way we are because of our experiences. Before we go ahead and judge someone, it would be helpful to have a glimpse into their life. That kid that may be driving you nuts in class because he is acting up and not listening to you, he/she may be that way because life at home may be rough. Maybe the parents are not "there" for him or her.

That child that seems so bright yet prefers to not do anything, he/she may be that way not because they choose it but rather because he/she may have gone without food the previous day.

That kid who you see on their desk sleeping, he/she may not be lazy, he/she may have had to stay up watching sliblings while the parents were at work.

The kid who keeps speaking out of turn and making you look like an idiot while you are trying to teach, he/she may just be bored out of their mind with what you are trying to teach them and he/she may need to be challenged with more difficult work. Whatever the reason, we all come with baggage and we are all products of our life experiences.