Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Sweaty Sisterhood

A good friend tells it like it is. She'll tell you she liked your hair better long, that you were a little too hard on your kids, and that, yes, you need the breath mint she just offered. Somehow hearing the brutal truth from some friends doesn't sting like it would from others. In fact, it feels good just knowing there is another person with whom you can be 100% yourself.

So I was glad yesterday morning when Cindy, my sister in sweat, got me out of the house and running before I had time to make too many excuses. She was a bit of a hard ass, actually, but I was grateful she called me on my cop out. Without her persistence I would never have made it out the door-- getting ready for Christmas Eve had me busy (and stressed) all day.

The best thing about sisters in sweat isn't just that they can give you a good kick in the rear when you need it, but that they depend on you too. After I thanked Cindy for convincing me to run, she admitted that she needed me too. She knew that without my commitment to meet her at Fat Lorenzo's (the pizza joint half way between our houses), she would never had made it out the door herself.

So I guess this post is really a tribute to all those wonderful girlfriends that have kept me moving over the years, and let me keep them moving, too. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Raising Spiritually Fit Kids

Running has been my church for the past ten years. Alone, with a friend, or with my husband, hoofing out short and long runs most days of the week should have me at clergy status by now.

Unfortunately, it's not that easy.  I've logged tens of thousands of miles on my legs and yet sometimes I feel like I am right where I started, spiritually speaking. Leaves me wondering what I can do to make it easier for my kids than it's been for me.

I was raised Roman Catholic--went to church every Sunday and never missed a holy day. My high school was Catholic, I went to a Catholic college, and I attended Catholic graduate school (twice!). I participated in all of the appropriate sacraments and had my children baptized.

Despite my uber Catholic upbringing, I've not pushed religion on my kids like my parents did on me. Guess I figure it hasn't given me any significant spiritual advantage, so I'm looking at other ways of fostering their growth... We go to church, but not every Sunday. We give thanks before meals, but sometimes we don't. Yes, we've given our kids an introduction to a spiritual life, but sometimes I worry that they're missing something, that we should be giving them more in the area of structured religion.

It was a priest who first introduced me to the idea of running as my church, as a form of prayer. I'm quite certain he didn't intend for me to jump ship and start a church of my own, but that's sort of what I've done. And while the Church of Running has a huge congregation, I'm starting to think it's not enough anymore. Not for me, and not for my children.

So I've done some shopping around... I think I've found a good community for my family. A place that will help them grow spiritually, not just religiously. But I know they need to find their own personal churches, too. Might not be the same as mine; but it would be wonderful if they are.

I'm not looking for any conversion conversation, but what are your thoughts on raising spiritually fit kids? What is spiritual fitness? Does it include structure and individuality, or just one of these? Does age matter? Are you beliefs a reaction to or in support of your own upbringing? And what about the idea of workouts bringing you closer to your higher power?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Make the Decision

Kids are notorious for turning the ordinary into something extraordinary.
The past couple of weeks have been pretty hectic. It's not so much the holiday preparations that have me feeling a little under the gun, but a long string of colds, sinus infections, kid activities, and a husband traveling for work. Nothing terrible, but getting everything done has resulted in me becoming a frazzled mama.

And with all this multi-tasking, I've noticed something... when I'm busy juggling too many balls, multi-tasking DOESN'T translate into efficiency--it usually just means something is going to drop. I felt it happening earlier this week... I was so preoccupied with finding time to squeeze in a run that it never did happen. At the end of day two I was left feeling bad about not running AND about how much time I'd wasted just stressing over it.

The answer to this blogger's time crunch!
So, I made the decision to let go of something  before the choice was no longer mine and I unwillingly HAD to let it go. I'm on day four of not running and I'm doing okay. I'm not trying to think about where that sliver of time is--I even kept with my choice when the opportunity to run did present itself.

Of course I have to do something to get sweaty... I need my outlet. So, I've been riding my Spinner bike downstairs. It's not quite the same heart thump I get from a run, but at least it warms me up. 

And I've taken the lead from my daughter; I've discovered another new use for the laundry basket. I've actually been able to do a little work on here (guess where I am now?). Just another good reason to make the choice to pull back when you have to... helps you look at life from a new perspective, see things you may have missed before. Not running this week helped me find what might just be the best desk I've ever owned! Now I am comfortably multi-tasking again... freeing up more time that I can actively enjoy my family!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Easy Meals are a Big CROCK

I'm not a cook. Too me, making dinner is like organizing one of those races where everyone starts at different intervals in hopes most people will finish around the same time. I just can't ever get it to work out like it is supposed to. I don't like to estimate, substitute or pinch. I'm not sure how to tell if a hard boiled egg is done and I never trust the meat thermometer. College chemistry was easier and much less stressful.

Because of this it's quite easy for me to fall back on the same old meals:  tacos, spaghetti and pizza. (I'm not proud, just honest.) So on Tuesday night when I thought our dinner of spaghetti leftovers was a go, I decided to put together a bench for our entryway before getting our oldest fed and ready for basketball practice. When I was finished, I realized there was no spaghetti. Thank goodness I have a husband who is very creative in the kitchen--he whipped something up in no time at all.

While on my run this morning, I realized something needs to change. If I'm going to have time to do more of the fun things I want to do (like putting together that bench or going for an evening run/walk), I'm gonna have to face my fear ignorance disdain for cooking. Because while I'm not spending hours slaving away in the kitchen, I am spending lots of time and energy worrying about it. Worrying about what meals to plan, worrying that my husband might get resentful of my kitchen anxiety, and worrying that I don't provide the best meals I can for my family.

So, I've decided to put some serious effort into become a great crock pot cook. It just might be a fit mom's most powerful time saving weapon. Throw in a bunch of food and it's off to the races. Everything is done at the same time and it stays heated until YOU'RE ready to eat! I knew this life-changing appliance was great, but forgot about it during the warm summer months. I feel like I've been born again.

I've done the basics... a pot roast and maybe some chili... but I'm ready to step it up a bit. Anyone have any great (easy) recipes that work well in the crock pot? Extra credit if you think my finicky kids will eat it!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Mom with Balls

Ever since my oldest daughter starting playing organized sports, I've noticed that it's usually the dads, not the moms, who volunteer to coach. I can count on one hand (not even using all five fingers) how many whistle-clad women I've seen on the courts and fields over the past three years. And while I've helped coach soccer with my husband, it wasn't until I was running warm-up laps with Cady's basketball team last night that it really hit me: I was the only mom coaching, and the only coach running.

Might sound like a little toot of my own horn, but it's really not. You see, I was just a substitute coach for the night. The real coach, a dad coach, was out of town so I volunteered to fill in. The girls were excited. "I think they really liked you," Cady told me on the drive home. It was an unspoken connection; I felt it too. The same kind of connection I had with my favorite (and only female) high school coach. The kind of connection I hope my girls feel a lot in the future.

There's an easy explanation for daddy-dominated coaching: smells like quality family time. But the paradox is that in addition to having positive relationships with our daughters, we also want them to have strong female role models. Turns out that dads who participate in traditionally feminine activities like baking and cooking with their daughters do a lot to promote more egalitarian values in their daughters. (That, by the way, goes for sons, too). Makes sense to assume that moms who participate in non-traditional roles do the same. It's more than that, though, isn't it? Mom's who get and/or stay fit with their daughters also set an example of lifelong fitness for girls and women.

So, is a dad's time spent coaching his daughter's basketball or soccer (or insert any sport here) team more meaningful than a mom's? Definitely not. Every girl needs a mom with balls.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

See CINDY Sweat: Sick kids don't sideline this mama

Since fall is an easy time to let the ups and downs of motherhood make fitness a low priority, I've decided to use this post to honor a friend of mine who works hard to keep moving. Cindy is the mother of three young children ages 8, 6, and 3; her regular routine was rocked last week when two of her three kids got sick. Here's how she managed to get hot and sweaty through a week of poop and puke.

See Mom Sweat: Your house has been a Petri dish of germs this week. When you weren't scrubbing the vomit off your couch, how did manage to get your workouts in?

Cindy: I wasn't just scrubbing vomit off the couch (and rug!), I was also scheduling doctor appointments, preparing for my substitute teacher, attending an evening work meeting, and picking kids up from school and day care. How did I manage to get my workouts in? How could I make it through my week WITHOUT them? On Monday I ran out the door as soon as my husband got home from work and made it back just in time for family dinner and homework. On Tuesday I got in a quick four mile run on the treadmill after the kids went to bed. (I used to think four miles was not worth getting sweaty over, but I've had a change of heart this week.) Wednesday was another treadmill run during the day when I was home with a sick child. I had to take Thursday off, but ran outside on Friday with my sick three-year-old. Thank goodness for the jogging stroller and our winter guard to keep the elements out. He actually had a GREAT nap in the stroller!  

See Mom Sweat: You were parenting solo this weekend, weren't you? How did you run with no husband and three kids to wrangle?

Cindy: Since Alan was out of town, I ran on the treadmill on Saturday morning. I watched a movie while running and it made seven miles go by super fast. My eight-year-old daughter is a great help while I am on the treadmill by making sure my three-year-old doesn't destroy the house!  

See Mom Sweat: On the day you weren't able to fit fitness into your day, did you feel any sort of resentment or disappointment? 

Cindy: I know I have to put my family first, but I still feel a bit of disappointment when my plans don't go as expected--especially when I know I won't be able to get a workout in the next day. To increase my odds of getting in a run, I plan out the next day, carving out an hour for "me time." I know that I am a much better mom and wife if I can run during the week. If I can't fit the workout in because of something unexpected (or expected), I try to take a few minutes in the evening before bed to lift a few weights and/or do some sit ups and stretches. It gives me a short amount to time to do something good for my body and reflect on my day.

See Mom Sweat: Now that the kids are coming back around and feeling better, have you learned anything that you'll apply to your fitness regimen (mentally or physically)?

Cindy: I hope we are on the tail end of the sickness in our house! Reflecting on the week I can count my blessings: A great treadmill and TV, a jogging stroller with winter guard (and a three-year-old who loves to ride in it), a supportive husband who encourages me to run, and three children who have a mom that knows she is happiest when she gets her workout in. Getting daily exercise can be a juggling act, but it's definitely worth it for me.

Note: As of Sunday Cindy's kids were all on the mend. Last night, on our evening run, I learned two of them are back down...  but she vows to keep moving.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Halloweeny Kind of Family Fitness

Halloween was no small affair when I was a kid. It's not that we got tons of candy--it was pretty much the opposite actually. But we lived in a relatively rural area so we had to cover a couple of miles to hit the less than ten houses in our neighborhood. Calorically speaking, we earned our candy.

This year, while out with my girls on Halloween night, a young Cinderella joined us for part of trick or treating. She was just a year older than Cady (who is now in third grade), and asked if she could walk with us while her mom followed along in their car on the street. I saw other families doing the same thing, so I'm guessing this might not be as odd a practice as I'd like to think. Fitness is probably not on the top of the priority list at home. They likely don't realize that by not walking with their kids they are making a very clear statement about what is not important in life. As we parted ways and her mom said thanks, I thought about the mommy-daughter time she was missing out on, hoped she was hiding a broken ankle in the darkness of her car.

The girls and I managed to hoof it six blocks (three out and three back). Not a bad distance to cover for a four-year-old, probably a pretty good jaunt for an eight-year-old at the tail end of a busy weekend, too. Sure, I ended up carrying Maggie the last block and a half, but it was time well-spent--outside, together, and getting a little exercise. The candy hasn't turned out to be all that important to the girls; they keep talking about the houses, the costumes, and the long walk in the dark. And of course, they're already talking about next year, too. What should I be? Will you dress up next year? and, Will you come with us again? Not so sure on dressing up, but I will definitely be out there.  I'll join them for as long as they'll let me.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hidden Agenda

They've figured out how to bring fun and fitness together for kids (check out a story from the Minneapolis Star Tribune here). Groveland Elementary School in Minnetonka, Minn., has a playground that is literally kid-powered. While energy is generated from kids riding a stationary bike, other children use that power to track their progress in a number of games that time their progress running laps or jumping vertically. Seems like the perfect marriage of fun and fitness and it's on my list of places to visit with the kids this weekend. Truth be told, I'm excited to give it a try myself.

While the sporto in me thinks the playground is a great idea because it involves physical fitness, the mama in me thinks it's great that the kids get to do their kid "job" while they get fit. And to me a kid's job is to PLAY.  Makes me wonder if there is a way to get fit while doing my mama tasks, particularly the ones I'm not so fond of (laundry and dishes). Here's my quick list that I'm am going to work on today:

Physio Ball Laundry Folding
Stair Stepping, Speedy Delivery Laundry
Calf Raising Dishwasher Drills
Quad- and Glut-Busting-While-Dusting Squats

Got any other ideas to turn housework into a workout? My guess is, if we slow down and think a little, we'll find a number of great opportunities we never knew existed!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

There is no such thing as Supermom

Women talk about being Supermom like it's something good, but an article in today's Minneapolis Star Tribune has me momentarily thankful for the apparent mess that is my life.
"Being Supermom isn't always easy: 
That's why you should follow these four steps
so that others never see the wrinkles in your cape." 

Wrinkles in my cape?  Wrinkles are the least of my worries-- my youngest still wipes her nose on my clothes if I let my guard down (and yes, I do appreciate being alerted to said booger if you happen to see one dangling from my shirt.)!

Anyway, while I really want to give the article (and the book it referenced) a break, I have to admit that it left me feeling a little uneasy. I'm the last person to consider myself Supermom, but after reading this story, I'm compelled to share my own supermommy tactics (note the lower case "s"-- we're all supermommies in some way!).

1.) Look sharp. "Put on some lipstick to distract from the bags under your eyes," Oshirak adds. "And above all, invest in some really good concealer." 

1.) Look good to feel good. Sometimes looking good is a quick fix to feeling good. For some, it's an everyday thing that bolsters confidence. For others (particularly us stay-at-home types), a quick primp can put a little spring into a step that's gone flat. Sure, looking good makes most of us feel more self confident, but it also works as a last resort maneuver. 

2.) Talk the talk. Supermoms speak a distinct language, which relies largely on playing loose with the facts.

2.) Talk, talk, talk. Love organic farming? Enjoy hoofing it around the lake on an early morning run?  Whatever your passion, find other women, other moms, who share your enthusiasm and connect. Be honest. Don't, as the author suggests, tell people your kids don't watch television, when it's actually your only hour of sanity during the day. Nothing like feeling phony and making your friends feel like crap at the same time. Not the kind of twofer I'm after!

3.) Remain calm. "The calmer you stay, the more it looks like you've got your act together," says Kristin van Ogtrop, author of "Just Let Me Lie Down."

3.) Stay in the moment. It's good to remain calm, but not just so you look like you have your act together. Remaining calm helps us make good decisions, helps us stay focused on the present moment. Most of us spend too much time stuck in the past, and even more time springing into the future-- both places that create excess anxiety in our lives. Try sitting with "now" and see how it feels. Ever wondered what makes dogs so happy? They have this one down, for sure.
4.) Smile. "Happy, to me, makes a Supermom," Van Ogtrop says. "Because even when things go wrong, which they always do, they just seem like little speed bumps, not stop signs." 

4.) Smile. Okay, I'll keep this last tactic, but the details behind it are gonna have to change. Don't smile because you feel like you should be happy, don't smile because it makes you look approachable or like less of a sourpuss. Smile, because the simple act of smiling releases endorphins that actually make you feel better, too. You've probably heard the saying, "fake it 'til you make it." Same applies here.

To me, being a supermom means being faithful to yourself and your family. It means taking care of yourself body and soul. It means accepting your truth and making the best out of it. It means leaning on friends and letting them lean on you in return. It means wearing a wrinkled cape and being proud of whatever you did to make it that way.


Monday, October 4, 2010

(Wo)Mandatory Disclosure?

Ran my first marathon with one of these babies pinned to my back yesterday. And, much like having a child with red hair, I suddenly noticed how many other runners around me were "of a certain age." Once you experience something firsthand, it becomes much more noticeable around you. Such was the case with my "elder number."

While pinning the number to my singlet, I remembered the year before when a friend refused to i.d. herself by tacking her new age division on her back. It somehow seemed like an extension of finger-pointing...  "Look at me! I'll soon be perimenopausal! Isn't that fantastic?"

I've always thought race officials wanted that info in case there was a medical emergency, but was happy to hear my husband explain it otherwise. Turns out, the numbers are there for something quite different than identifying a weakness or medical vulnerability. We're asked to wear these numbers as a competitive courtesy so we all know who our master's competition is during the race. Maybe help you pick it up a bit when the going gets tough.

So, if you were one of the many people I saw running without your master's division on your back (yep, we know who you are!), reconsider wearing it during your next race. Think it doesn't matter? Wrong! It's time to acknowledge yourself for the athlete you are. Putting in the time and training to participate in that marathon is a big accomplishment. Doing that while raising a family? That makes you a rock star!

Friday, September 17, 2010

It's Only Natural

A tourist snapped these pictures of a female grizzly bear performing her morning stretches at the Ahtari Zoo in Finland. She makes it look so easy, doesn't she? Poised. Confident. Meditative. Evidently it was a fifteen minute routine done with the skill of an experienced yogi. 
The thought of engaging in either of these poses right now is daunting, likely impossible. Since the more I run the less I tend to stretch (bad combo, I know), marathon training has me feeling brittle right now. My right hamstring is almost painfully tight and tender (that's the Boo Boo part of this Yogi equation).

However, seeing these pictures reminds me of how instinctual stretching is--as is being limber and connected to our bodies. And suddenly that makes it just as provocative as running, which feels like the most natural form of exercise to me. It's a part of fitness I'm falling short on right now, but one I could easily squeeze in while watching television or reading a book. Heck, it's something I could even do with my kids or turn into a game using our deck of Yoga Pretzels cards.

So, as soon as I'm done posting this, I'm going downstairs to print off the pictures of Ms. Yogi Bear. They are going up on the fridge for the whole family to see. I'm counting on nature again-- the natural enthusiasm of my daughters' youth-- to get me on the floor and limber.  I can "bearly" wait.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Training for Real Life

I haven't posted in the past couple of weeks because, quiet frankly, I've been a bit of a wreck. My oldest daughter started third grade at a new school. After three years at the neighborhood Catholic grade school, we decided to give the public school a try. It's a public Montessori school and she's now starting her second week. Begrudgingly. She's tired of getting up an hour earlier to climb on the bus, misses her old friends, and isn't so happy about the change in general. As if going back to school after a summer off with Mom and Little Sister isn't hard enough. Once she's off and running, though, things seem just fine. But she keeps asking about going back to her old school (which, by the way, I'm missing terribly too!).

As a mom I'm inclined to scoop her up my arms and start home schooling (she actually thinks it's a great idea! ACK!). Get rid of all that discomfort and reassure her every chance I get.

As an athlete, however, I want to tell her something like Suck it up, Hon! or Keep going! You'll be glad you did it! There is a whole slew of rants that go through my mind as I try to press on during a painful training run or race; seems like a lot of them could apply here.  

Truth is, as parents we don't always know what is best for our kids. It's not natural for us to encourage pain on our children, no matter how insignificant that pain may seem in the larger playing field of life.  It's true, no one said life would be easy but as a parent it's hard not to try making life easier for our kids.

So, I'll take a lesson from my marathon training. I'll try to picture my daughter a few miles (er, months, years) down the road. And I'll use that as a compass for my husband and I while determining the best path for her. If she runs some hard miles now, what will the payoff be later? Or maybe she's put in the hard work and now it's time for some rest and recovery. I guess only time will tell.

I like to think fitness provides an excellent framework for parenting and for life. Priorities, hard work and sometimes even kindness to self. How has fitness helped you make decisions off-court?


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lessons From Sisterly Love

This morning, my eight-year-year begged me to let her make breakfast for her younger sister. Not a problem at all, I am all for nurturing independence, especially when it gives me a few extra moments with my coffee and the daily crossword puzzle. Despite the marginal nutritional value of her artistic medium, this toaster-ready pancake reassured me that my children understand our constant nagging about good nutrition. In this "portrait" of her sister, Cady felt comforted by the banana hair and multivitamin nose. She figured it made up for the marshmallow eyes and M&M mouth. It's not spinach or green beans, but it's a start, right? At the very least, it has inspired me for tomorrow night's dinner. I'm thinking some kind of chicken monster with green bean hair. Got any sneaky ways of getting your kids to eat green? I'd love to hear 'em!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

This Week: technology, penises and coaches, OH MY!

Much like my brain, this post will be scattered. Lots going on in my mind right now, but somehow they are all connected...  they're all part of the fit mama crazies I have going on this week.  (The photo below makes me wonder if the kids are feeling it, too!)

For starters, I'm officially on my way to becoming a technology geek.  Got an iPhone yesterday and, yes, I'll admit it's very cool. With my book coming out, it's time I get tweeted. If you're interested, I've set up a twitter account, ( Just getting started, so humor me!

What's next?  Oh yes, penises...  There aren't many in my house and I've never parented one so yesterday's child swap was pretty humorous. Took my friend's little guy to the potty and he insisted on standing...  pointed that little sucker all over the bathroom, but luckily got it down before he started going. Really didn't know they required such monitoring. I had to remind him to focus the whole time...  Really, who know that appendage could be so terrifying! Like a loaded gun!

Last up: coaches. Met up with my friend Chris Lundstrom (elite runner who recently made the national trail running team--yeah, Chris!) to get my fall marathon plan started. "Tell me what to do and I'll do it." Feels like a treat to not have to think about this...  though I'll have to wait and see how hard he works me!  It's a little late for this, but I'm sure he'll whip me into shape!

Home now and back to reality, which today begs the question, "How will I get my run in?" Right now, the plan is this: Bring the girls to the pool, meet up with a friend who says she'll watch them, and hit the road for an hour.  Keeping my fingers crossed!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Oops, I did it again...

Wasn't planning to run any more races this year. Decided I kinda liked my low mileage, low intensity, low stress summer. Smack in the middle of really liking my "Summer of Sloth," that dreadful alter ego stepped into the picture and got me signed up for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

It's my favorite marathon, so I guess it's no wonder that "other me" decided I needed to get on board. But now I'm faced with the decision of running another average marathon or kicking it up a gear to run a little faster. Sad thing is, the difference between the two isn't much anymore. So, I've decided to meet with someone to come up with a training plan and see what I can do in the little time I have. Could use a little ego booster about now. Either way, I know it's about the journey and not the destination. I've been avoiding the hard stuff for a while... I'm excited to see if it brings me more joy along the way, knowing I've worked hard.

My daughter looked at my driver's license this morning and asked me what they do when you gain weight and weigh more than it says on the card. "Why, do you think my number would be higher?" (Never ask this kind of question of a kid, they are WAY TOO HONEST!) "Ahhhh, yep," was all she had to say. Wonderful. Guess this venture might be a "two-fur": a little something mental and a little something physical.

Nothing like the honesty of kids to reinforce a decision.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Just Move It!

I have a lot of friends who lament their busy schedules, finding it hard to make time for themselves when they are busy carting kids around from one commitment another. Truth is, if we spent a little less time worrying about our kids' league play, we might find life becomes simpler, more pleasant, and in many ways leaner than before.

“Don’t fall into the trap of thinking more activities necessarily means more physical activity,” advises Dr. Todd Smith, a family practice physician in Cottage Grove, MN. Scheduling too many events for you child can mean more time in the car, a greater tendency toward eating fast food, and an increased stress level. “It’s easy for parents to have a false sense that their kids are active.” Sometimes, Smith says, you just need to “turn off the play station or television and send the kids outside.”

Or inside as it was with Maggie yesterday... Check out her 28 seconds of rock star play--it's got more jumping and movement than you see from a number of kids at her Wednesday night Introduction to Soccer class!

It's this kind of play that gets kids excited to keep moving (especially when you videotape it and let her watch it on your computer over and over again!). If you're in need of a little activity yourself, think about joining in (I'll save that video for another post!). I promise some family moments you'll never forget.

Heck, schedule time as a family to participate in fun and energetic activities on a weekly basis. It's about togetherness. By spending family time together in an active setting, you are showing children the importance of family togetherness as well as health and fitness.

Here are 10 suggestions for keeping the fitness fire alive and kicking in your family:

1. Let the kids help develop a list of potential activities.
Think about creating a list for each season of activities the whole family can enjoy together. Let the kids take turns choosing from the list each week.

2. Invest in family gear. It doesn't have to be expensive--Frisbees, bats and balls, even a water sprinkler can get the family out and running. Just make sure the kids have options and the activities focus on getting them up and moving.

3. Be patient. Use activity and fitness time to get your children excited about moving. If anyone has problems keeping up or catching on, make sure he or she doesn't feel left out or awkward.

4. Be creative. Simple tasks like washing the car, raking the yard, gardening and snow shoveling can be fun family activities. More traditional activities like walking the dog and ice-skating are fun too, but remember to keep the emphasis on time spent together being active.

5. Read books that stress healthy living. Look for books and other everyday items that include people making activity a regular part of their day.

6. Plan outdoor activities whenever possible. Get the kids out of the house. Think about setting limits for the amount of time your kids can spend in front of the television and computer.

7. Visit your local park, recreation center, or nature center. Just bringing your children to the playground on a regular basis encourages them to use their large motor skills and burn off some energy. Look for nature paths or paved park trails so kids can walk, run, or Rollerblade with you in sight.

8. Invest in the kid essentials. Buy toys and equipment that promote physical activity. Make sure your child's bike seat is at the correct height at the beginning of each summer. Seats should be just high enough to cause a slightly bent knee. Encourage and model the use of helmets for bike riding and rollerblading.

9. Emphasize fun! In order to build long-lasting behaviors, make sure kids are enjoying their physical activity. It is, after all, about building life-long habits and behaviors for the entire family!

(Saved for last because, yes, I do think organized sports are FUN! Just don't overdo it!)

10. Let your child investigate sports alternatives in organized league play. Most recreation centers offer community leagues for soccer, basketball, and more. Call your local center to get a seasonal list of athletic offerings.

Now it's your turn... What are your favorite ways you see your kids whoop it up and keep active? Are you joining in or getting a piece of the action? Post your experience here and share the fun!

Have a safe, crazy and wild week!

Laurie (the family drummer)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lost, Then Found

I almost tackled a little girl riding around Lake Nokomis the other day. She looked nice enough, but the bike she was riding was the same kind we recently had stolen from our yard.

Sadly, Cady learned about theft firsthand last week when we realized her new Trek mountain bike was stolen from our front yard (ya, I don't wanna hear it!) overnight. I spent an hour or so the next day combing the alleys in our neighborhood, with no good clues. Nothin'.

Eventually, we'd given up any hope of finding the bike. But about two days later, Tony and I went for a run along Minnehaha Creek and we stumbled upon the missing merchandise about 3 miles west of our house. The initial prognosis wasn't good. There were some severe life-threatening injuries, but there was hope we could save it.

The bike shop we bought the bike at told us the bike's injuries were terminal and there was no fixing it, that we should say our goodbyes and prepare for the worst. When I asked if they could swing us a deal since we'd just bought the bike new only a couple of months back we were offered the deal of a life time: $30 off. It felt like a joke.

It was time for a second opinion. Lots of running around, but I'm happy to say the bike will be good as new in under a week. Of course, I'm glad that the whole thing turned out pretty okay... Cady likes to tell people about what the tire on her bike looked like, that we just happened to find it while out on a run together (while skipping church nonetheless!). We'll spend less than $100 to fix the bike, which would have cost three times that to replace.

I'm still annoyed. Suddenly, my little girl has learned one more thing about life that I wasn't ready for: that we're all vulnerable to each other, which can sometimes be a scary thing. The sex talk seems much more natural to me... at least that one made her (and me) laugh a little.

Be well,

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Plan B

Sometimes everything just clicks. Friend calls and wants to take child #2 when you already have plans for child #1 to be at camp. The resulting 2 hour window of free time is exactly what I needed this week to get in a much-needed trail run at a park not too far from my house. It would take precise timing, however, to get there and back before golf camp was over.

Feeling quite super-mommy like, I jumped into my car (read: minivan) waved goodbye to both kids and hit the road right on time. It would be close, but what better impetus to push my workout a little. Was right on schedule until I hit road construction traffic on my way to the trail. After letting my favorite explicative fly (feels so freeing when the kids aren't around!), I made my move. Quickly, I exited the highway and realized I was right by the Honda dealer... Overdue for an oil change I called to see if they had time to squeeze me in. "If you can be here in 2 minutes we can take you." I could be there in 1. As I dropped the car off, I realized I had no way to pay... Then, another stroke of genius. Perhaps an act of God. I suddenly knew the destination of my run: home. I retrieved my credit card and made my way back to the dealer in just under an hour, even got the guy to apply the on-line coupons for me.

SUCCESS. I'd made it. Somehow, I'm pretty sure executing Plan B brought me more pride than Plan A would have. Just so happened I had a little bit of the one thing all fit mamas need: perseverance. I've co-authored a book that will be in stores in April, 2011. Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom is filled with different tactics for moms on the move. Nothing better than living according to our values; making it work even when it seems impossible.

Would love to hear any similar stories you have...

Here's to you and your perseverance!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Potty Talk

Earlier today I was enjoying a little alone time in the bathroom. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to take in a few pages of my latest read. I didn't get very far before the door knob turned.

Evidently Maggie (now 4) thought it was a good time for a little check-in with Mom. "Mommy's going to the bathroom and wants her privacy." She got it; turned around and walked out--even closed the door behind her.

Exhale, smile, return to book.

Less than a minute later, I hear screaming from the hallway. The big white fitness ball wasn't doing what she wanted and I guess it seemed logical that I'd want to jump off the throne to help her out. "Isn't Daddy out there?"


I think she's gone and start reading again. Then, through the door comes the book Calliou at the Market. "Mom, you know Calliou has a bulb head (that's bald head in case you didn't know)." Then, "Read this to me, Mom."

This time I lose hope. "Okay, Maggie, just shut the door and I'll be right out." Expecting a quick exit, I'm a confused when she turns around so I change my voice to let her know I really want her out.

"I'll wipe you."

My heart warms. She really must love me since she usually refuses to wipe her own ass, much less someone else's. But, I let her off the hook and tell her I'll meet her on the couch.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Changing Things Up

My friend Kara recently posted something on her blog about her arms. Guess she's had lots of people comment on them lately... myself included. Truth be told, I'm a bit green about her bod right now. My recent bought with the dark side certainly hasn't done anything great for my now 40-year-old body.

So, I took her suggestion and gave my local Crossfit a visit on Saturday morning. The fact that I can still feel the aftermath of the abuse three days later tells me something about my fitness. Interestingly enough, I hurt more and longer than I did after running the Eau Claire marathon a couple of weeks ago on what amounts to no training.

Run for three hours and 45 min. and feel nothing. Try something new for less than 30 min. and feel like I've been run over by a mac truck. Speaks to adaptation. It's the same reason you can find aerobics instructors who teach classes all day long, but don't look like it. Eventually you get diminishing returns when you do the same thing day after day.

My oldest is interested in rock climbing, something I haven't done much of since having kids. (Funny how something once really important can quickly diminish in significance upon the birth of our children!) So I'm hoping to put that back into my lineup, too.

Working on my summer schedule now and I plan to make it full of different activities. Because just like my kids, my body evidently gets bored and stubborn doing the same thing day after day. Guess it's time to look at camps and such now too... Any ideas for something totally unique?

Friday, May 28, 2010

No More "Just in Case"

It’s been a full year since I last updated this blog. I’m not sure I recognize the kids sleeping in the jogger up above. In fact, I sold the jogger about a month ago to a couple that came into the running store with their kids. I pimped my phone number on them and felt like I was in high school again when they called back (I was sure they thought I was a cool kid). Actually getting rid of our double, however, was semi-traumatic. Even though it had been a long time since I’d had the courage to run behind it, I felt some sort of comfort knowing it was out in the garage… just in case.

The treadmill in our basement is like that too. I can count on two hands how many times its been used in the past year… but it’s still there, just in case.

The false-dreams I perpetuate by keeping things like these are probably pretty commonplace. But, really, how likely is my eight-year-old to stuff herself into a jogger when she can be out on her bike alongside me instead? Do I really want her in there anyway? Isn’t my four-year-old more likely to figure out the workings of our treadmill than I am to run on it?

Truth be told, just in case, has been my motto for the past year. And it’s not been a good place. Living for the just in case has meant not living in the present. Instead, it’s meant worrying about the future, fretting over the past. It’s meant doing whatever I can to numb out those (normal) feelings of present-moment frustration I get as a mom and as a person. Living for the just in case translated into taking more naps than I needed, drinking more wine than I should have, and making more trips to the store than necessary. It’s meant me being someone who I don’t really identify with anymore.

I’ve been reading a couple of great books lately (Buddhist-based) that are getting me back on track. They’re lifting my just in case mentality and replacing it with a better understanding of self (When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron and Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn). Really, something we all can use.

I’ve kept up my fitness, but somehow forgotten to let it keep me in the present—the best place to parent. There are some wonderful things on the horizon. Each day, I’m trying to let go of that just in case attitude a little bit more because there is no question about this moment we’re living. It’s here.