My husband was born with a gift: he’s absurdly coordinated. Give him a ball, a bat, a racquet or a club and he’s in his element.
Thank goodness, because with him donating half their genes, our kids have at least a fighting chance. They need him to offset my DNA, which is pretty much coded for clumsiness. I stumble over nothing, collect random bumps and bruises all day and have even broken a bone while walking around my house. And sports? Let’s just say I’m still the last kid picked.
It’s no small wonder, then, that we’re together. Through courtship and the early years of our marriage, he was always out mixing it up on some field, course or court. Not to mention his marathon bike rides and two-day hikes on the Appalachian Trail or the Flatirons in Boulder, Colorado. You’d never find him inside, much less cooped up at the gym, which he deemed a spot for muscleheads and uncoordinated folks like me, who needed to sweat it out in a controlled environment. He always maintained he’d rather be out playing.
But lately, something has changed. The poor guy is falling apart. He’s got weak ankles; early signs of arthritis; and, at 6’4”, a back and neck perpetually inflamed by living in spaces designed for much shorter people. What’s worse, a round of golf can put him practically in traction, and jumping for a fly ball while coaching our son’s Little League team recently landed him in a neoprene ankle brace, hobbled for three months. (more…)
Until recently, I thought “core” meant the center of an apple. I certainly never identified it as a part of my anatomy. But evidently, I too have a “core.” And boy, did it need work.
I’ve never jumped on new exercise fads. I know my limits. I’ve always been far too clumsy for the fancy footwork of kickboxing, aerobics or dance. Instead I stuck to cycling class and weights, which kept me strapped in or safely planted on the ground. It turns out, however, that my clumsiness is partly the result of a flimsy core. Simply put, the core encompasses the abdominal, back, pelvic and hip muscles that provide stability and balance. They can be weakened by underuse, aging and, certainly in my case, pregnancy.
My fitness-instructor friend, Lauretta, recommended suspension training. Designed to strengthen core muscles, this class looked like circus school: people were hanging in all sorts of tortuous positions–pikes, pull-ups, lunges and worse. They had their hands and/or feet in long straps clipped to the ceiling and were using gravity and body weight for resistance. Yikes.
I was terrified, but enrolled anyway, certain I’d topple over once I got in the straps. And that’s exactly what happened. But I got up, and spent the next two months holding the wall for balance. I also couldn’t keep myself in the plank position for more than five seconds, much less do a push up while down there. It was brutal. (more…)
I may be outing myself as a bad mommy but here goes: despite repeated pleas I’ve never taken my kids camping.
It’s not that they’ve never been camping. My boys have had plenty of scouting overnights under canvas. And I’m sure the day will come when my daughter will go off with her Girl Scout troop. We’ve just never done the full-on family trip where we pack up and pitch a tent at a campsite for a few days.
I’m afraid that my camping aversion is depriving my kids of precious childhood memories. So what’s my big issue? First, there’s the food. My camping friends conduct elaborate meal planning meetings weeks in advance of a trip. They have to shop, lug everything home and put it away–only to load it back up into coolers and haul it way out into the woods. Then they cook, eat and clean under completely primitive conditions. I suppose this is somebody’s idea of fun, but it sounds like too much work to me. Plus, all the gear that needs to be moved—tents, sleeping bags, tarps, lanterns—is completely overwhelming. Frankly, I had far too nomadic a childhood to relish any activity that requires this much packing and moving. For me, the point of vacation is to let somebody else do the work. (more…)
My eight-year-old daughter spends more time upside down than right side up.
Cartwheels, backbends, flips…and then there are the handstands. I’ve got footprints on every eye-level wall in this house. I feel like I’m living in a gymnasium.
I can’t say I didn’t see it coming. As a pre-schooler, Anya’s favorite activity was shimmying up the inside of a doorway with her hands and feet. I’d walk into a room to find her hanging out up at the ceiling, suspended like a spider. We almost lost a few babysitters over that one.
She’s also quite the escape artist. Anya was the only one of our three kids who managed to climb out of her crib (her older brothers being too lazy and/or rotund to free themselves). Another time, her dad and I made the mistake of walking out the kitchen when she was in the high chair; within minutes, she had slithered out of the belt, motored across the table and was literally hanging from the chandelier. Naturally, she hated to be confined; I had to muscle her in to her car seat every day. After one mighty struggle I looked back to see that–while technically still buckled in–she’d unlatched the entire seat from the car, effectively turning herself into a human projectile. (more…)
Baseball fever is running high and fans are root-root-rooting for the home team as the season gets underway. Whether you are part of the crowd gathered at a major league ballpark or little league stand, sitting hunched over your 5-inch black and white or lounging in front of the plasma TV, baseball is best enjoyed in the company of another All-American—Popcorn!
Like baseball, popcorn is a product of the Americas and has been around for thousands of years. Yet over time, it has remained a simple little kernel of goodness. Wholesome and whole grain popcorn contains energy-producing carbohydrates and provides needed !ber to the diet. And, popcorn is naturally low in fat and calories— a great asset for a team player.
If your fan has a serious case of baseball fever, offer them a homemade remedy that is sure to cure. (more…)
My brackets are busted.
A couple of upsets and I’ve now got zero shot at this year’s NCAA pool jackpot. But being out of the money isn’t so bad; I still get to watch the hoop dreams unfold with my friends, many of whose teams are still hanging in.
In a sports world defined by lockouts, salary caps, endorsement deals and trade deadlines, the NCAA basketball tourney is a breath of fresh air. Most of these kids aren’t going pro—they’re playing for the love of the game. They’re taking their best shots, and it’s a delight to see. Best of all, the tournament is a great excuse to shake off the dregs of winter and gather with friends to watch and wager.
My buddy Andy is the Grand Master of March Madness. For the past 20 years, he has scheduled his annual “TV Vacation” just in time for the Sweet Sixteen playoffs. He and his pals gather at his place for a day-long marathon of food, drink and basketball on the giant flat screen. Over the years I’ve seen people come early…come late…come with spouses, children, neighbors and even work colleagues in tow…but they all show up for this can’t-miss party. And everyone brings food, typically of the frat house variety.
After almost two decades with my husband, it’s finally happened: I’ve learned to enjoy watching football. Maybe it’s the fact that our kids are so into it, or perhaps that I always know where to find my man on Sunday afternoons (and Monday and Thursday nights) but I am no longer a wailing football widow. I’ve made my peace with the fact that, in this house, we are fans.
And so, as Big Game Day approaches, we prepare. This year, my husband will be hosting five of his cronies from the office where we met back in the 90s. Most of these guys are settled with families and ready for an evening out; a couple others are clinging hard the single life and are coming for free beer and hot food. Either way, they’re headed for my couch, and they’re going to be hungry. And these boys can eat. Years back, I was out with them for 10 cent wing night at a local watering hole. For six of them, the bill was $30. Do that math!