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…)
My husband’s uncle was an Olympic gold medalist. As part of an eight-man rowing crew, he won gold in Tokyo 1964, bringing glory to the United States and—maybe more importantly—their rowing club back in Philly. In those days there was no 24 hour news cycle; the family had to wait til the next day to learn of his victory. Uncle Bill had a remarkable story; at the time he won, he was 34 years old and a father of five. The newspapers loved him.
Hearing about their great uncle really sparked my kids’ enthusiasm for this year’s Summer Olympics. This is the first year they’re watching in earnest, and they’re getting motivated to try some new sports. The Summer Olympics always trigger a spike in gymnastics lessons that’s been going on since era of Olga, Nadia and Mary Lou. Not to mention what Michael Phelps did for swimming and Mia Hamm did for soccer. (more…)
I could have sworn there were three children living in this house. But for the past month, my middle child appears to have vanished. If I want to have a chat, give him a hug or even lay eyes on this kid, I need to report to the nearest ball field.
For the third summer running, my 11-year-old is playing All-Star baseball. It’s getting pretty intense. There are several games a week, plus practices on almost every off night. We’ll hardly see him until mid-August.
Back when I was a parenting expert—that is, before I had children of my own—I swore I’d never do this. I’d read all about the crazed competition and the pitfalls of elite kiddie sports, and was wary of the toll it could take on families. Also, being somewhat uncoordinated (and I’m being generous with myself here), I found it hard to believe that any child of mine would play— much less excel at— a competitive sport. Unless Chess counted as a sport. (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 13-year-old just scolded me for impulse purchases in line at our local warehouse club—all the while holding a giant pack of fireworks. When I pointed out the inconsistency, he looked at me somberly and said, “We need these. Companyis coming.”
Apparently he thinks fireworks are more essential than food to our party.
He may have a point. In this family, fireworks are right up there with hamburgers and hot dogs on the Fourth of July shopping list. We don’t even limit ourselves to Independence Day. We’ve been known to shoot them off on New Year’s Eve, Halloween, Father’s Day and even Chinese New Year (never mind that we’re Irish- and Italian-American). We are equal-opportunity blasters.
I’m not wild about our firework habit. I think it’s best to leave any type of incendiary device to the professionals. Call me crazy, but I’d like our children to reach adulthood with all 20 digits and five senses intact. But I tolerate it because my husband—the only one allowed to light the fuses—grew up in New York State, where backyard fireworks were illegal. After a childhood spent breaking the law for even holding a sparkler, he’s earned his fun. (more…)