My family with my sister and her kids doing my favorite Christmas Eve tradition. Every year we light a candle in memory of each of our loved ones who we miss dearly and wish were with us tonight. There were a LOT of candles this year! Even had to blow some out and relight a few to get everyone in there.
A few weeks ago I was teaching the adult Sunday School class at my church (also known as the class without the crayons, yummy snacks and fun songs). We were talking about some of the challenges of raising children and I mentioned some of my fears for my young family. Kids are squirrely critters and just when you think you’ve got them trained for polite society they go and do something totally socially unacceptable like pee on a plastic tree in the middle of an indoor playground. (True story. My son did that. Why? Because tree peeing.) I said that sometimes I feel like I spend so much time worrying about keeping them from doing something dumb, dangerous, offensive or just really really annoying that I forget to enjoy all the beautiful things they do right. Afterwards, an elderly couple, who had long since raised their own family, came up to me with a little advice. (Side note: I always feel like I’ve done a good job as a teacher when my “students” teach me just as much as I do them.)
The other day a little friend of one of my sons showed up at our front door bearing a gigantic plate of cookies, breads, candies and other treats. “Oh how generous of your mom!” I said as I took the tray from him. “Thank you!”
“No thank YOU,” he replied politely. “My mom says she can’t stand all these treats in our house so I should just take them all to you.” Before I could say anything he pointed at the tray, “This is from my aunt. And these cookies are from Miss Susie. They’re actually really good. The chocolates are from her work, but just the milk chocolate ones And…”
Ah the honesty of kids.
Part of me was a little annoyed that our house had become the de-facto dumping ground for unwanted goodies (said child showed up two more times with even more confections) but that part of me was quickly overshadowed by the part that couldn’t stop laughing. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only with Holiday Gift Anxiety! Nor the only one with oversharing kids. Whether giving or receiving, ’tis the season to be fraught with worry.
“I almost lost my son, once,” she tossed it out, as if she were saying something as casual as how’s the weather out there or socks are buy-one-get-one-free today. But the way she looked at me, darting glances away from her cash register, made me realize that it was meaningful to her. And how could it not be? As a mom who has lost her kids everywhere from the grocery store to the gym (twice) to preschool, I know how utterly terrifying that feeling is.
I opened my mouth to say something but then realized that I had exactly ten minutes to get Jelly Bean to her preschool and if I hurried through buying my few purchases and raced out to the car, we could still make it on time. I could just smile and nod and keep going. But then I remembered my list – the list I made at the beginning of December to help me be less depressed by helping others (hopefully) be less depressed. I’m almost down to the end, just a few left. And thanks to several astute suggestions from you guys, instead of tackling them one a day I’ve just tried to keep the list in my mind and if one of those opportunities arises then I jump on it. (But not literally. I did jump on a stranger once – in a crowded pool because I wasn’t wearing my contacts and he had on the same swim shorts as my brother – but that did not end well. I’ve tried never to do it again.) And one of the last items on my Operation Give a Little list was: Give someone a listen, everyone has a story to tell.
‘”Having the perfect body isn’t all it’s cracked up to be” is one mom’s answer to the now infamous Maria Kang, a.k.a. Fit Mom, a.k.a. the What’s Your Excuse lady. As I’m sure you recall, Maria made news for posting a pic of her bangin’ bod next to her cutie-pie kidlets, one of whom was just 8 months old with the caption “What’s your excuse?” It ignited a firestorm of controversy that has only increased as she’s continued to do interviews. But one response in particular caught my eye and it’s from a mom who says she’s been where Maria is now – the fit mom – and gave it up because the sacrifice ended up not being worth it to her.
Taryn Brumfitt of Australia posted a different sort of before and after picture than we’re used to seeing:
My kids are obsessed with this commercial! They think it’s hilarious. (Click through to see video)
“Luna! Luuuunnna! Here, pretty kitty!” I crooned, shaking a bag of cat treats as I circled the tiny hotel room for the 50th time.
“Are you sure she was, ah, here?” The hotel manager asked as his assistant lifted up the mattress, peering between the box spring and the bed. “I mean, I haven’t seen her the whole time you’ve been here!”
Did he really just accuse of me of imagining my own pet?? “Of course she was here!” I said, exasperated. “She was here like 30 minutes ago!” Then, turning to the assistant, I added, “And why are you looking there? How could she possibly fit in there without becoming a cat toastwich??”
He shrugged his shoulders and dropped the mattress. “I’ve seen it happen ma’am.”
Before I could decide if he meant that he’d seen a cat hide between a mattress and box spring or that he’d seen a cat meet an untimely end in that matter, my son piped up. “I think I hear her! She’s… up there!”
During a fitness class a couple of weeks ago, a noxious odor seeped through the room, eventually hanging over all of us like a smog inversion, thanks to the poor air circulation of the studio. It was bad but even though my eyes were a watering I couldn’t find it in me to be upset. Mostly because I’ve totally been there before. Who can forget the great Soy Patty Incident of 2006? I was doing an evening kickboxing class and, because I was still a vegetarian then, grabbed a quick soy burger patty for dinner before heading to the gym. As we warmed up, I felt my tummy start to inflate faster than Kanye West’s ego and become more bubbly than a hot tub full of starlets when George Clooney walks in. Unfortunately there was no escape as I was right at the front of the class, packed between friends who I was hoping would still be me my friends after the inevitable happened. And oh it happened! I tried to hold it in but all that good cardio activity plus moves that compressed my stomach from every angle made it ripe for a rectal rebellion. That was the night I discovered both how forgiving people can be and also unforgiving my gut is of processed soy.
Some things are easier written than said. “I’m sorry.” “I love you.” “I know what you did last summer.” You know, all that little deep-seated emotional stuff with far-reaching ramifications.
Oh, and “goodbye.”
I have a problem. See, when I left Minnesota, I never said goodbye. First, there was simply no time. With three weeks to sell our house, buy a new one, finish the school year and truck my family and cat hell-bent on getting herself lost across four state lines, I had no time for anything. But the real answer is I simply didn’t want to say goodbye. I couldn’t. I couldn’t deal with my own pain of leaving and I definitely couldn’t deal with all the pain I saw in my friends’ eyes when I told them I was leaving. So I refused to let anyone tell me goodbye. When they tried – and oh they did! – I kept telling them, “I’ll see you later! I will! I promise!” What I didn’t say out loud: “I hope. But maybe not. Life’s like that sometimes.”
Just when you thought it was safe to retrieve the forks and knives you hid during the “Are white potatoes a nutritious natural food or glycemic index hell tuber?” debate, scientists have given us another research study that brings up more questions than it answers. This time it’s about whether cardio or weight lifting produces better health outcomes in obese teenage girls and the answer is, well, a little surprising given the current zeitgeist in the fitness community panning steady state cardio.
The study, published in the November 2013 Journal of American Physiology, took 44 adolescent, obese girls and randomly assigned them to three groups: the aerobic exercise group did one hour of running on a treadmill or using an elliptical three times a week, the resistance exercise group did one hour of weight lifting three times a week and the last group did no exercise.
After three months of this, the girls were not only weighed but unlike many other studies on this topic also had their overall fat, visceral fat, liver fat and insulin sensitivity measured. (Kudos to the scientists for using a more rigorous measure of health than most!) The results were, well, see for yourself:
Ah the good ol’ days! I’m surprised they didn’t include a stork net in there too!
“Did you know about this??” I emailed one of my editors.
“Um, NO! I was just going to e-mail you about it!” She replied almost immediately.
“I’ve never heard this either!” my other editor chimed in. “It’s crazy!”
“WHY HAVE WE NEVER HEARD OF THIS BEFORE?!” all three of us collectively e-screamed. (E-screaming, it’s very dramatic and not just for teens anymore! Try it. Nothing bonds people in different time zones like a coordinated capsy freakout.)
So what was all the hue and cry over? Birth control. They immediately assigned me the story because – and you may have noticed this – I’m pretty much the go-to girl for gynecological research issues these days for Shape. In the last two months alone I’ve done nine articles on various “down there” topics – which makes me happy because being a possessor of lady bits, I’m deeply invested in the subject.