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Thoughts from Kingdom A&S/Crown Tourney

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Otherwise known as my crazy Memorial Day Weekend.

Last weekend was very busy, to say the least. We had friends stay over Friday night and got up very early Saturday morning (we were to be on the road by 4:30 am) in order to reach Kentucky no later than 10 am. Saturday was the Kingdom A&S competition, and I scored well enough at regionals that I was in it. One of our friends was judging. Sunday was Crown tourney, which are friends were in (he as a combatant, she as the person he was fighting for) and we were their support crew.

It was a great weekend, even though I'm bummed that I wasn't able to meet up with Euphrates like we'd hoped to. My entree didn't quite score a first place rating (I was just shy, alas) but I thought my score was fair and the feedback from the judges over all positive and constructive. My class had a few rough edges I'd like to polish off (I jumped around a little too much, and went a little too quickly) but it went pretty well as a whole. And my friends, while they did not win the tourney (no surprise, seeing who he was up against) had a good day---he fought well and felt he learned a lot and all in all they both felt it was a good experience.

I was chatting awhile back about my entree in the regional competition (I entered 2 Japanese flat braids in a style called Karakumi, one of which is finished and the other was left on the loom so that the judges could see the braiding process) and someone on sparks who had heard of the SCA was surprised that we do arts and sciences. All she had been familiar with was the martial arts side of the SCA. I wish she could have seen this event. Because the schedule Saturday was so hectic, I didn't get to see everything but what I did see was amazing.

Some examples of things I saw:

Lots of garb (period clothing) and accessories, including hats, ruffs, belts, socks, gowns.
Wooden children's toys.
Homemade soap
Metal work, including a needle case and Viking broaches (which the women wear with their apron dresses)
Wire brocade trim (awesome!)
Nalbinding (which is a bit like a cross between crochet and knitting; I don't know how to do it).
Spinning... including a woman spinning on a 300 year old spinning wheel.
Lots of foods and drinks (not for general consumption, but they all smelled wonderful)
A felted piece
A crossbow
Leatherwork, including the arm bands archers use to protect their forearms

In a lot of ways, this weekend really typified the SCA. The A&S competition itself was the creme de la creme, so to speak--because only those entrees that got high enough marks are able to compete at the Kingdom level. So in that sense, it was not typical. But A&S is a central part of the SCA and everywhere I saw people displaying, talking about, teaching, or working on arts and science projects.

The next day was the Crown Tourney, which is a very important armored combat tourney in the SCA. The winner of the tourney and his or her consort become the next Prince and Princess; after 6 months, they become King/Queen and another tourney is held to determine the next Princess and Princess. The King and Queen are expected to support not only the martial arts (mostly armored combat, rapier combat, archery, and thrown weapons, but also includes activities like equestrian) but also the arts and sciences. In fact, while one of them is always King or Queen by "right of arms," the consort is explicitly the patron or patroness of the arts and sciences.

A lot of the time, especially during the summer "war season" (in Michigan, at least, our major fighting events happen May-September because we can have out door events), the arts can be less obvious than the martial arts, but they are always there. I was talking to a friend about the role of A&S in the society and she pointed out that it's so prevalent in part because it's practical.

Most of what we do and use involve things you can't just go to Walmart or JC Penny and buy. From the clothing we use to the armor we wear to the tents we stay in, a lot of this stuff is handmade--if not by yourself, then by someone. Some of the goods require specialized skills that only a few people have (I don't know any fencers who make their own swords or helmets, though many have made their own gorgets and other parts of their armor) but in general, we make a lot of this stuff ourselves because it's expensive to buy. What we don't make for ourselves, we often barter with friends for--perhaps exchanging beadwork for wood working, for example. Or we give it to each other as gifts.

We are also an organization that has picked up crafts so that we have something to do with our hands, such as at court or at long meetings--but it also works for while watching television. It's not uncommon for someone to fight all day and then work on a project in the evening at court. For example, when we were waiting for court on Saturday, I was braiding and my friend was doing some hand sewing/embroidery. I happened to glance behind me and the gentlemen behind me--a knight--was working on an absolutely stunning piece of embroidery. I mean stunning. One of the things that I have always loved about the SCA is that no one blinks an eye at either a lord or a lady doing fine embroidery at court or a meeting and then the next day strapping on armor and going out to fight. It just is.

When I first joined the SCA, we were encouraged to do three things:

Be someone (pick a region, a time, and a name. For example, you could be a 12th Century Scot.... or a 15th Century Italian... or be like me, an 11th century Japanese lady).

Make something (usually for new members, this is garb because we have to have something to wear, but not everyone sews. It could be anything--painting, weaving, making armor... just make something.)

Do something (get involved with an activity, whether it be dancing, fencing, fighting, archery.... or it could be service, like helping out in the kitchen for feast).

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EACHDAYAGIFT 6/2/2011 6:17PM

    What an awesome weekend. You are amazing!

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SHERILIEGH1969 6/2/2011 4:27AM

    It sounds like you were not only very busy but there is enthusiasm in your blog - you had a great time while you were at it! THAT makes for a good Long Weekend. Good for you. I have only been on horses 3 times in my life, and now I'm allergic to them, not that it matters - I have 5 chronic back conditions so I can't ride them even if I wanted to. It sure looks like a lot of fun though. :) I hope it is as fun s you all make it out to be :)

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    Congratulations on doing such a great job at your event. I have thought or more so wished about fencing, unfortunately my thought of fencing is more like Braveheart fencing ha ha ha ha! ! I am glad you had a good weekend as you certainly deserve it! Congratulations again!

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MONETRUBY 6/1/2011 11:03PM

    This sounds SO COOL. I really have to look it up once I get relocated.

It sounds like you had a great time. Congrats on the success!

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LADYNEST 6/1/2011 9:13PM

    What class did you teach? I've seen people doing some Japanese style braids, but I have never seen an example of the one you have mentioned. I would love to see a picture of it sometime.

I agree with you - the Arts and Sciences of the SCA are truly amazing and really make the experience whole.

Sounds like you had a fantastic time, and congrats on doing well in the A&S Competition!

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SPARKGIRL32 6/1/2011 7:23PM

    Congrats Zanna, you are emoticon

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RAIN454 6/1/2011 6:17PM

    What a fun and fulfilling weekend. My memorial day consisted of sleeping, sleeping, eating a little bit and then sleeping some more...hehe. Congrats on getting into regionals. All this talk about entrees and japanese flat braids and so forth has me interested in reading up about your sport. Sounds exciting! Thanks for sharing the blog.

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RAIN454 6/1/2011 6:17PM

    What a fun and fulfilling weekend. My memorial day consisted of sleeping, sleeping, eating a little bit and then sleeping some more...hehe. Congrats on getting into regionals. All this talk about entrees and japanese flat braids and so forth has me interested in reading up about your sport. Sounds exciting! Thanks for sharing the blog.

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SAASHA17 6/1/2011 3:53PM

    Interesting..u shud post some pix of u in ur princess attire..sounds very fascinating...
Glad u had so much fun


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Soda Drinkers Beware!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Basically, the gist of the article is that a study was done that showed that when women went from drinking 1 can of regular pop a week to 1 a day, they gained an average of 10 lbs over a 4 year period. So the conclusion is that soft drinks make you fat and debating about whether or not a warning labels should be added to that effect.


I expected, when I saw the warning, some kind of warning like carbonation was linked to reflux or that yellow 5 might cause liver disease or something. I don't understand why soft drinks have come to be viewed as such an evil. Especially since the study shows a similar weight gain with fruity drinks.

I keep reading about how soft drinks have "caused" the current obesity epidemic and various strategies, from warning labels to an extra tax, should be implemented to stop it. While I've heard all sorts of interesting, and sometimes conflicting, stories about the effects of sugar and high fructose corn syrup on appetite and how the body stores fat, near as I can tell it's not POP that causes weight. It's calories.

Admittedly, maybe I'm not the best example because according to the calories in/out model, I should have reached my goal weight ages ago. But I actually CUT my pop consumption in half or more.... and gained an average of 10 pounds a year for 5 years (whereas when I was drinking 2-3 cans of pop every day, I stayed the same weight--on the low end of the healthy BMI--for over a decade). I have, except for the occasional treat, mostly cut juice entirely. I eat mostly healthy most of the time (I aim for the 20/80 rule and if 30/70 is maybe more accurate, it's a work in progress). In theory, I cut about 1200 calories a day from diet right there, not to mention the other dietary changes... but the pounds aren't coming off.

My weight gain seems to be mostly caused by

1) a hip injury resulting in an abrupt and long term sedentary lifestyle
2) stress
3) possibly medications (I'm not sure what role medications have played, if any, but I have read some health news stories which suggests that it could have played a part)
4) getting older/metabolism changes (I suspect too that I really screwed my metabolism up in gradschool when I had no money).

Obviously, if my diet had adequately kept up with the other changes in my life, maybe I wouldn't have ballooned 50 pounds. Maybe I wouldn't have stretch marks not from pregnancy but from rapid weight gain. But seriously, putting a warning label on pop saying that it causes weight gain is so overly simplistic it's ridiculous. Are you going to put the same label on the meat counter? On the bread aisle?

I'm not saying pop is healthy, because it's not. It's empty calories--worse, empty calories that don't help you feel full, so you eat more. But there are more calories in a Starbucks fancy coffee or Chai (seriously--I had a chai awhile ago at a local coffee shop and was shocked that it was over 400 calories!) And if people can lose weight on a diet of purely twinkies, or purely taco bell, then clearly junk food, in and of itself, does not CAUSE weight gain.

There are many many reasons why Americans are overweight and that growing numbers of people are obese. Sure, soft drinks have a role in that, along with fast food, tv dinners, sedentary jobs, donut urban planning, neighborhoods that are not pedestrian friendly, people not feeling it safe for their children to play outside, shorter recesses, school lunches of low nutritional value, snack foods, coffee shop coffee, portion sizes, restaurants not serving healthy options, (or very limited healthy or low calorie options), cable tv, the fact that many of us live in areas without effective public transport.... the list goes on.

Slapping a label on a soft drink? It's like slapping a band aid over a spurting artery. It doesn't begin to address the true underlying causes--consumption, lack of active lifestyle, etc.--and accomplishes nothing.

If you want the government to do something about obesity, than have it do something really useful, like create programs that help kids be active, incentives to encourage businesses to provide fitness centers and give incentives for employees to use them, create streets and sidewalks where people can safely walk, run, or bike, create parks, encourage small businesses in neighborhoods over box stores on the edge of town, encourage restaurants to post accurate nutrition information and to have healthy options--and make it easier for patrons to chose those healthy options. Make healthy options at the grocery store more affordable or encourage urban gardens so that even the most poor can afford things like vegetables and lean meats.

Do they think people aren't aware that there are calories in a regular soft drink? That soft drinks are actually good for you? Have they done studies to show that people will change their consumption patterns because of the labels.... and that this will be enough to curb the obesity problem?

I'm not saying that nothing should be done to address the problem. It's a real concern. But I don't think that labeling soft drinks is an effective answer. It's a simplistic answer for a complicated problem--as if by slapping the label on, the problem will just go away when the label doesn't begin to address the real underlying issues.

The underlying issues are complicated and the solutions aren't cheap. But I'd rather see that the government invest the money effectively elsewhere than to throw good money on a bad program.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

4-1HEALTHYCYNDI 5/25/2011 7:05PM

    I agree that warning labels are not the answer. I would like to see more done to help everyone eat a healthier diet and get more activity. It is a sop to law makers conscience because they know what needs to be done but don't want to bear the consequences of going against the popular vote.

I do however note that diet sodas, at least for me had/have consequences beyond calories and a proclivity to want more sweet stuff. It also aggravated my condition. I lost focus more easily, had more days where I was spacey and just not all there. There is something in the diet sodas that also increase my inflammation. So giving up soda was a choice, just like eating better and exercising more is a choice. It's about finding the balance.

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SPARKGIRL32 5/24/2011 6:51PM

    LOVED this blog! You should look up the documentary "Fat Head" on Hulu-I think you'd really enjoy it!

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PEGASI51 5/24/2011 12:14PM

    This is a topic I've been really interested in for a while. I have a friend who swears that there is a real link between artificial sweeteners (like in diet soda - what I drink) and how your metabolism processes sugar, what you crave, etc. I'm not really sure what to believe, but for now I'm going on the premise that diet soda isn't caloric/bad, but neither is it a substitute for water - which means it doesn't count towards my 8 glasses a day.

Thanks for posting!!

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  Labeling a soda will do doesn't do anything for cigarettes or alcohol.

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MILLER*TIME 5/24/2011 10:11AM

    awesome post!!! I drink diet soda pretty regularly, especially if I'm craving something sweet or staving off hunger for a little while and I've never gained weight from it. Regular soda is definitely empty calories (not that diet is healthy by any means) and I can see how that might lead to weight gain but you're 100% correct when you said it's calories in versus calories out. SO I agree with you that labeling soft drinks isn't the effective answer. Lots of valuable info in there!!

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EUPHRATES 5/24/2011 12:48AM

    Very good points lady!

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    I totally agree with you that POP is not the number one enemy! Sure it isn't a vitamin and something you should take everyday,but it is not the worst thing out there. I think portion control is one of our society's biggest problems. If you look even at McDonalds and the size of burgers they sold compared to now it is hundreds of calories different.Anyways I really like your internal thought process here and thank you for sharing it!!

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MONETRUBY 5/23/2011 8:21PM

    I really like your analogy of a band aid over a spurting artery. So very true-you can put warning labels on all sorts of things, but that won't solve the problem. It's about the amount of calories, not what kind of calories. It's been shown over and over again that there are many pieces in the weight loss puzzle-no one thing is going to solve the problem, just as no one thing caused the problem. You make some excellent points, and I can't add anything to them. Great post!

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JULIENMM 5/23/2011 5:33PM

    I have not jumped on to the "soda is evil" bandwagon for a few reasons. One is because I only ever drink diet soda. No sugar and no calories. So how could that make me gain weight? Studies rarely differentiate between diet sodas and regular sodas, making me conclude that both sides are evil. Well, I don't believe it (about diet sodas).

About a year ago, my mother told me that the reason I was fat was because I drink 2 Diet Cokes a day. (I don't drink coffee or tea, so I have one in the morning instead of coffee and one at lunch.) I told her the reason I was fat was because I didn't exercise and I ate cheeseburgers, fries, and cookies, and that because I was fat, I drank Diet Coke instead of regular Coke. In other words, I drank diet soda because I was fat, not I was fat because I drink diet soda.

She proceeded to tell me that Dr. Oz says that all soda is evil. I told her that my 2 Diet Cokes a day habit was at least better for me than her 2 packs of cigarettes a day habit and she told me that smoking is better for you than diet soda!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!R>
Now, I love my mother dearly, but sometimes I just have to wonder what people are being told out there....

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    I bought the soft drink hype many years ago. I quit drinking soda all together. Mr. Pibb was my brand. Yummy. Over the next 5 years I continued to gain weight.

This article is what is known as a weak relationship. Sure, soda is empty calories, but as you mention, the true problem is excessive calories regardless of source and being lazy.

For some reason there is this need to identify a single, simple source of the obesity "epidemic" while everyone ignores the true source. Everyone wants the single, simple thing they can eliminate in their lives for the weight to magically come off. It isn't there and those who are chasing it are wasting time. I have a lot of respect for Becky, and this article, to her credit, is old. She may have shifted her position slightly, I don't know. But a warning label is way too far. Besides, this has had limited to no success with any other substance (i.e. tobacco and alcohol) because everyone already knows that soda is not a good decision.

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GODDESSELLIE07 5/23/2011 4:53PM

    Interesting that its only a 10 pound gain in 4 years. If I did the math right, 7 sodas each week instead of 1 soda equals an extra 900 calories each week... times 52 weeks each year times 4 years equals 187,200 calories which is equal to 53.5 pounds! But sodas are no different than any other calorie... all cause weight gain if you over indulge!

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KEL_CE 5/23/2011 4:17PM

    I agree. Consumption and lack of activity is the main problem. Soda is one of the many puzzle pieces. I think we like to focus on one bad guy after another instead of looking at what we are doing as a whole.

Do sodas cause weight gain? I believe so. When I stopped drinking 1-2 sodas a day I magically lost on average 2lbs a week for a month with physical activity no harder than walking. So yes I think soda can lead to weight gain, just like bon bons and ho hos and donuts and french fries and hamburgers.

The problem is complicated. There's food addiction, laziness, denial, hopelessness, poor self esteem, etc etc. You can't fix that with a magic label.

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Last day: 2 things I Did Right

Thursday, May 19, 2011

1) I treated myself to fresh raspberries, because I could. I'm still feeling a bit icky, but I'm glad I was able to enjoy them anyway.

2) I drank my 8 cups of water. I've drunk 8 cups (or more) of water every day for the past *757 days* I wish I could say that I liked water. I don't. I have to make a point of drinking it, every day. Sometimes I drink water with a bit of lemon or orange in it, and lately I've been drinking a lot of carbonated water (no sugar, no artificial sweeteners, but there is a bit of natural flavoring like lemon or lime) as a substitute to for soft drinks because when my allergies are bad or I'm sick I crave the fizz. But still, I've done it. For 757 days.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MAE4181 5/20/2011 6:10PM

    Wow! 757 days of drinking water when you don't even like it??? I am so impressed. If I didn't like water, I can guarantee you I wouldn't drink 8 glasses for 1 day, let alone 757 days. You go girl, keep up the good work. (Hope you feel better soon!)

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RONDAM85 5/19/2011 6:34PM

    WOW Thats great! 64 oz. a day x 757 days =48,448 oz. which= 378.5 gallons NOW thats a lot of water!!!

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MONETRUBY 5/19/2011 2:41PM

    You should be very proud of yourself-757 days?!!!!! That's an amazing streak!

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KJDOESLIFE 5/19/2011 9:22AM

    Geez, I can't even count that high. *grin*

I hope your ickies go away soon. GO AWAY ICKIES! emoticon

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EACHDAYAGIFT 5/19/2011 8:18AM

    Other than natural body functions like breathing and sleeping, I don't think I've EVER done ANYTHING for 757 days!!!! What wonderful discipline! Gotta get me some of that!

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SAASHA17 5/19/2011 1:58AM

    awesome on the water streak...wooohoooo....way to go and feel better


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SANDYMISA 5/19/2011 1:40AM

    Great job on both counts! I'm presuming from your background photo that you're a fencer. I just tried fencing for the first time at an event last weekend. It was fun! Hoping to keep at it.

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  Wow, that's amazing. I'm really good about drinking water since I don't drink soda. On occasion, I do but only an ounce or two. Keep on drinking the water. It's so good for you!

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Day 9; two things I Did Right

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Okay, since I'm almost done I figured I would keep posting the things I did right....

1) I got up this morning, did some stuff, was utterly exhausted (and still feeling crummy) so I went back to bed and slept like the dead for about 4 hours. I guess my body really needed the sleep--especially since I didn't sleep so well last night. Thankfully, I'm finally starting to feel better, though; hopefully tomorrow I can get back on track. I've lost too much time as it is.

2) I ate really well today. Still foods that were pretty easy on my stomach, but still it was a pretty healthy day as far as food goes.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRZYKAT3 5/20/2011 12:18PM

    oh YEAH! Glad keeping food in is getting easier!

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4-1HEALTHYCYNDI 5/18/2011 5:15PM

    Glad you are feeling better and eating healthier. Keep up the focus and feel even better tomorrow.

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MONETRUBY 5/18/2011 4:24PM

    Great job! So glad to hear that you're feeling better.

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KOMAL53 5/18/2011 3:28AM

    Great News---glad to hear that you're beginning to feel better!!!Easy does it---gradually you'll be able to speed up the Pace!!!Take Care and God Bless!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SAASHA17 5/18/2011 1:09AM

    take care and good going on the goals...take care and hope u feel better Hon...


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OVERWEIGHT 5/18/2011 12:56AM

    Glad you are feeling better.

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ALICIAT32 5/18/2011 12:44AM

    take it one step at a time. you're off to a good start

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Still More Positive Things

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

First, I appologize that I haven't responded yet to comments.... I promise I will. But I was really sick last night (very upset stomach) and still feeling really crummy today so I just haven't been around much. I sometimes joke that getting sick is my body's way of saying slow down.... guess I didn't slow down soon enough... oy.

So ... two positive things...

1) I drank water and kept food down--chicken noodle soup, for both lunch and dinner (side note, I am very grateful for a husband who, one, when woken up at 2 am to clean the bathroom, just did it--no complaints, questions, etc. And then he came home today and made me homemade chicken noodle soup--new recipe he made up, and it was yummy) There were even lots of vegetables in the chicken noodle soup so I'm pretty sure I got my 5 servings in, even with a weak stomach.

2) I rested. Sometimes that's what the body needs (okay, I did put away laundry and a few small things like that, but mostly, I just rested. And talked to a friend I haven't talked to in ages for awhile)

Going to bed now.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MONETRUBY 5/17/2011 6:15PM

    Feel better soon, sweetie. That rest will do you a world of good.

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PEGASI51 5/17/2011 12:29PM

    I often need a day of rest after a particularly brutal/intense day, just from working/playing or exercising. Sometimes it's the best thing.

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EACHDAYAGIFT 5/17/2011 9:53AM

    Feel better! And speaking for myself, there is never any need to respond to my comments unless I ask a question. (Oh wait...I'm always asking questions! so, not even then). If we had to keep responding back and forth, we wouldn't have time to live life!!

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TIGGERJEAN 5/17/2011 8:23AM

    Rest and get to feeling better!

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SAASHA17 5/17/2011 1:31AM

    aww iam sorry u were feeling crappy...take care and good going on the positives...and awesome job by ur hubby:P...

Take care

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    Tell your husband "good man" for not only taking care of you,but for cooking from scratch!I love cooking too!!
I am glad that you are feeling better and even more importantly that you listened to your body to take care of it and give it what it needs. Remember that health is a life long journey, not a short term goal! ( I have to remind myself of that everyday as I am HORRIBLE about it) So a couple of sick days and the injuries you have dealt with in the grand scheme of things will be a very small percentage of the overall plan! Hang in there and get well soon!!

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