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…)
Water buffaloes, yaks, goats, mares, cows and even soybeans make it. You can eat it, sip it like a soup, or drink it as a drink. It’s yogurt – beloved by dieters and made famous by happy, bearded nomads living past the ripe age of 100. Yogurt made its appearance on American shelves in the mid 20th century, but it’s been around for thousands of years and is a staple in diets around the globe, including our own. Walk into the most remote of gas stations in the smallest of communities and you’ll find a container or two of this creamy concoction.
Many cultures claim yogurt as their own and each has a special recipe variation. It’s curious to think of how the first yogurt came into being. Who was that daring young herdsman carrying dairy in his goatskin bag on a warm summer’s day, suddenly deciding to give his soured milk a try? And would you be brave enough to try anything you thought had turned a biological corner?
Thankfully, someone did and now we get to benefit from the experience. Many yogurts contain live bacterial cultures that break down the milk sugar (lactose) to produce lactic acid, which gives it its refreshingly tart flavor. Breaking down the lactose is good news for lactose intolerant people, many of whom are able to eat yogurt without ill effect. Your body needs a certain amount of good bacteria to keep the body healthy and some yogurts contain these bacteria. (more…)
I felt it coming. I could have told you it was inevitable.
It started late Saturday night with an annoying little tickle in my throat. I ignored it and soldiered on, but I knew. Two days later, it’s here in full force: a stuffed head, body aches, can’t breathe, making-me-miserable cold.
Of course, I blame my husband. He’s the one that delivered this particular germ into our lives a week ago. Typically, when he’s sick, I seek refuge in one of the kids’ rooms. This round, however, I foolishly held my ground. As a result, I got kept awake night after night by his hacking cough, snoring and pacing. I realize I sound dreadfully unsympathetic, but on top of being sick, I’m sleep deprived.
Anyway, he’s cheerfully on the mend while I’m woefully circling the drain. And as everybody knows, there’s no “cure” for the common cold. I’ve had colds hang on as long as two weeks. Ask any mom if she can take two weeks off to nurse a cold. Ha! (more…)
It’s taken me years to publicly admit this but here goes: I’m a napper. That’s right. Almost every day, at some point between 1 and 3 p.m., I sneak off and lie down for an hour of delicious, refreshing sleep.
In our go-go culture, where busyness is often viewed as a badge of honor, my nap habit sometimes feels like a moral failing. I have had friends and acquaintances who–upon hearing of my snoozes–offer remarks such as, “Oh, I couldn’t possibly rest during the day, I just have too much going on,” or “You’re so fortunate that you can find time to relax.” As if I’m lying around dozing and eating bon-bons all day.
True, I don’t work a full-time office job. But I get up before five a.m. and with work, kids, pets, husband, volunteering at school and keeping my household running, I barely sit down. Fast forward to three p.m., and I’m on the go again, supervising homework, more volunteering at school and church, and feeding and chauffeuring children ‘til well past 9 o’clock at night. Suffice it say, I’m no slacker. And I need to nap…with no apologies.
It turns out I’m not alone. Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bill Clinton and Salvador Dali (imagine his dreams!) were all devoted nappers. And study after study extols the benefits of a brief nap. (more…)
When I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of my family. Every year we celebrate together…my husband always writes me a beautiful card that makes my heart skip a beat, and leaves a tiny trinket or treasure on my pillow. And, of course, I absolutely melt over the sweet little handprint Valentines and drawings the kids make for me. I’m such a softie.
But there was a time, back in my single gal 20’s, when Valentine’s Day wasn’t all hearts and flowers. It seemed like the whole world had a sweetheart but me. When February 14 rolled around, I wanted to pull up the covers and wallow in my lonely bed all day.
Every year, though, something got me smiling. My Dad would show up with a beautiful card and a big box of candy. In fact, the more miserable I was, the bigger the candy box. I guess he wanted me to know that, no matter what, there was one guy who’d always love me. As time passed, and I built a family of my own, the cards and candy from Dad slowed down. But that’s okay—he got me through the tough times.
Last February, I had the chance to return the favor. My dad went to the hospital for what was meant to be a routine catheterization. He had done all the right things: he was in great shape, worked out daily and ate a Mediterranean diet. But something was fluky on his EKG. It turns out he had six major blockages…he was the proverbial ticking time bomb. So, the day before Valentine’s Day, he underwent a six-hour quintuple bypass surgery to completely rewire his heart. (more…)
Around this time of year, I get pretty well acquainted with 3 a.m.
I used to be a fantastic sleeper: I went to bed at 11 and woke alert and refreshed at 7. But somewhere in my thirties, all that changed. As Winter approaches, my internal clock goes cuckoo, and I’m up way before dawn.
When it first happened, I thought my enormous holiday to-do list was keeping me awake. But my early December mornings continued well into February. No matter how late I stayed up, my eyes flew open before four a.m. Finally, my brother-in-law, a physician, suggested I might be suffering from a form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I had read about “winter blues,” but I didn’t feel down…just exhausted. He explained that my sleep was affected by lack of light; my circadian rhythm—which is responsible for the sleep/wake cycle—was knocked out of whack during the short winter days. (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…)
At our house, Christmas is all about the kids. Crazy colored lights, stockings stuffed with treats, milk and cookies left out for Santa…and wrapping paper everywhere! Truth be told, my husband and I are the two biggest kids in the family—we absolutely love seeing the holiday through our children’s eyes.
But moving into the new year, the two of us are definitely ready for a little adult time. Every year after the holidays are over, we make it a priority to enjoy a few kid-free evenings with friends. We regroup, relax and remember what it means to be a grownup. So whether we’re hosting a dinner party or just gathering for cocktails and appetizers, the mood—and the menu—gets a little more sophisticated.
This year, as I shimmy into my sequined black dress, I’m going to outfit one of my favorite snacks—popcorn—in a black sesame mustard blend that is equally stylish. Not only do the sesame seeds add drama to my presentation, they also deliver a distinctive earthy, nutty flavor that perks up the palate. That’s why they’ve gone from being a trendy garnish to a staple in fine restaurants and kitchens everywhere. (more…)
Maybe it was the eggnog, but Santa seems to have dropped a few extra pounds in my stocking this year. I thought I’d been so vigilant…just a nibble of peppermint bark here, a swoop into the cheesy dip there. A cookie or two. Then maybe a few more…okay, so maybe I indulged a little. But the holidays come just once a year, right?
Nevertheless, it’s January…and my jeans are more than a little snug. I suppose I could join the rest of the New Year’s resolvers and hustle off to the gym to sign up. The problem is, I already go to the gym—a lot. And yes, I do cardio and strength training, both of which I kept up during November and December. While exercise is great for boosting metabolism and staying healthy, it’s clearly not enough. The trainers at have told me over and over: losing weight is mostly about what I put in my mouth. (more…)