Sunday, November 25, 2012

My Fitness Journey: Trudging Through the Holidays

This “Fitness Journey” is not going as I had planned. However, that’s not ALL bad. It’s just—different.

I can cut back! No topping!
I have always been the type that wanted quantitative results. So I naturally want to see the scales moving, and they just aren’t! I have been faithful since my return from the vacation to Alaska and I didn’t gain ON that wonderful trip; but the scales haven’t moved since then!

I still exercise 5 or 6 days a week. I admit that I haven’t been watching the calories as I was before; but I also know that I am not overeating. Generally. Now, there was Thanksgiving. There are two kinds of Thanksgivings: bad Thanksgivings and very bad Thanksgivings. I was very bad. But I went to boot camp the night before and the morning after.

I have been faithful to go to boot camp three days a week. On off days I do 30 minutes of cardio. Soon, I will be into some weeks I may not be able to do as well—but there are choices. Wicked Amy is SOOOOO wicked that she offers boot camp five times a week: Monday and Wednesday at 6:00 PM; Tuesday and Thursday at 5:30 AM and Saturday morning at 9:30. Surely I can make three of those each week, even though I certainly do NOT prefer those early mornings! I can still do it.

I feel that I am not making progress, and yet I am. I am adding weights at boot camp. I am not taking chances in hurting anything these next 35 days. I will do the best I can, but not beat myself up over not pushing myself during this time. I celebrate the small things. I can see the muscles in various parts of my body changing. I can see my clothes fitting differently.

I just bought a sweater that has horizontal stripes. Do you have any idea how long it has been since I have purchased a garment with horizontal stripes? I may not be ready to take on a whole dress; but the sweater doesn’t look half bad! I had a man who is at least ten years younger than I tell me he thought I looked pretty good for “Turning 60.” I think I love him. Unfortunately for me, he is Wicked Amy’s husband.

As I trudge through this season, I celebrate these small victories, and I know that after the New Year I will be back on track, adding some personal training sessions, continuing boot camp, and most of all, back to eating better.

How am I going to navigate the landmines of the holidays? My goal is to just maintain until after the New Year’s Eve wedding of my son. I will spread out my planned events as much as I can. Tonight the hubs and I went out to eat. I got my salmon dinner and I haven’t had salmon since Alaska (This salmon doesn’t hold a candle to Alaskan salmon, but it’s what it is and it was good). I will make the best choices that I can.

But I WILL have a piece of pumpkin pie once in awhile!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Keeping in Touch With The Next Generation

Thanksgiving—a time for family, friends, and pausing to be grateful for all life’s blessings. If we think we have it bad, there’s someone else worse—and if truth be told, there’s someone else in a better situation. It will always be so.

We have “big” and “little” Thanksgivings with my husband’s family. We all like getting together; but there is the reality of our young adults needing to switch back and forth every other year. We finally have everyone on the same page. This year was our “little” Thanksgiving. We had 16. The big years we have between 40 and 50 and we meet in my nephew’s church social hall (he is the pastor).

There's my Panera bread right
up front!
I was asked by sister-in-law “J” to bring my wonderful mashed potatoes. It was held at sister-in-law “S”s house. J is a purist; makes fabulous pies and does it all the old-fashioned way! We didn’t have the heart to tell her my potatoes are “Hungry Jack.” ©

So Jerry and I plan to arrive about an hour before the meal is served and I plan to make my potatoes with no pomp on the kitchen stove. But shoot, J is there before I am! So I take my ingredients into the small bedroom; eventually boil my water on the stove, add butter and milk and take the pot back to the bedroom and do my stirring in of the potato flakes; then sneakily take them back to the kitchen while everyone else is gabbing. I don’t think anyone suspected a thing. (S, I left the box in the bedroom! Oops!)

I had the opportunity to sit with my nephew “C” and we did let out what I had done. C (the son of J) and his wife have done many similar things, and we had some good laughs over it. C goes over to get a second piece of the “homemade bread” that I brought from Panera, and gave me a look, and I said “Panera, my friend” or something to that effect. I do remember saying, “I know HOW to cook, I just choose NOT to!” Especially with a three hour drive. He knew what I meant.

All this is to say is that all families have their jokes and even “secrets.” J will find out my secret if she reads this blog. Someday, when I am retired; I might do things the old-fashioned way, but for now, with work and with traveling time, this is what I do.

When I go to these gatherings, I love to catch up with the next generation. This time we had a fresh-out-of-bootcamp Marine, two college students, and several high school students, and one junior-high student. The conversation always turns to gadgets, and I have a few. I stand between the “older” generation and the “younger” generation, in that the elders don’t see the need, and I do. The older folks want to have a conversation, and the younger ones text. While I fully admit, the younger need to respect the older, and have those conversations; to rely on them solely, the elder needs to ask him or herself, “How much do I want to remain in contact with them?”

Because if you don’t, you lose the connection! Period.

I always have my iPad with me and I did hook into their wireless. My grand-nephew and I were trying to show his grandfather and my husband how we could iMessage between his phone and my iPad, since I have an Android phone and can’t do that. We had a good laugh as I even used the voice messaging, and he spells his name a little differently and Siri or whoever spelled it the normal way. He says “Who is this person. Lol?” He was 10 feet away from me!

I spent a good bit of time showing my 74-year-old brother-in-law how to use the iPad. He has contemporaries and friends that have these and he is amazed at what all they do with them. We downloaded a piano app (free, of course; I showed him what I felt worthy of payment) and played around with that. The question I always ask is “What do you need?” and “What do you want to do with it?” and he is probably quite fine with his normal phone and laptop computer, as a farmer, who is retired from work in the “real” world, where he might need more skills to use a computer at his job.

That’s a fine discussion. But when discussing relationships, it always comes back to “What do I need to keep up with these kids?” I am NOT talking about helicopter parenting or grandparenting, I AM talking about communication with them on a regular basis.

When we were first married, my mother-in-law wrote us weekly letters on Sunday evenings. I wish I had kept them ALL. They would be a complete diary of her life from age 57 until about 75. That was our only communication; we talked maybe once every three weeks or so. Phone calls cost money.

Every family is different; but when my daughter left home to go to school, I said “Only two calls a week. We are sending you away to be on your own, not to call home every day.” Today she emails us from work each morning; texts as appropriate and calls once a week. She has a family, a home to run and a life to live. My son is the consummate texter. If I want to be in contact with him, I text. Period. He lives with us as I write this and I don’t exactly know what the future holds, but it will probably involve texting and Facebook chatting.

The conclusion to this is that keeping up with the younger folks is important; how you do it is a decision. If you don’t care to, that’s a choice too; but I fear one regretted eventually.

Our kids were with the “in-laws” this year, but on the way home I got two texts: from daughter—“Happy Thanksgiving. Am always thankful for my family.” From son: “Just got home. Where you guys at?”

As a postscript, during the day, my niece-in-law stopped by. She is going to make some adjustments to my mother-of-the-groom dress. She owns a bridal shop. She has "stuff." She learned of my "problem" on Facebook, and connected with me via email. She is going to solve this problem in an AMAZING way, and it would not have happened if we didn't use Facebook. Go Kate!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Next Generation: What Happens Next?

Although my readers know that I am a conservative Christian woman; I don’t use this blog to preach (much). I didn’t want to post this entry during the election time frame because this is not about a candidate. In fact, my “inspiration” for this is from a school levy in the school system my children were raised in.

I do not live in this jurisdiction anymore, but my husband and son have substitute taught there, and my son coaches two sports there. So this is my jumping off point.
One of the most haunting verses in the Bible comes at the end of Isaiah 39. Verse eight says, "Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, 'The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.' For he thought, 'There will be peace and security in my days.' ”

King Hezekiah of Judah (715-687 BC) had become ill, and the prophet Isaiah told him to put his house in order. The king repented of his deeds and he was granted an extension of fifteen years to his life.

"Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, 'Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.' Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, 'The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.' For he thought, 'There will be peace and security in my days.' ”

We actually have the prophet telling the king that his children and grandchildren will be taken away into captivity, made eunuchs in the palace of another king, which was horrendous to an Israelite, and nothing would be left.

But listen to Hezekiah, "Oh well, it won't happen in my lifetime. Let the kids deal with it."

So, I back off from this verse, haunted by it always, and think about my life, the life of our community (any community, just insert your zip code) and our nation as a whole.

We don't seem to get what we are doing to our children and grandchildren because likely as not, we will not see it.

We are all guilty. Since I have become an adult, we as a society have lived beyond our means; for whatever reason, we have lived with debt. We have not been disciplined, we have not told our children they cannot have something. Therefore debt has become a way of life, and when this or that candidate talks in numbers, our eyes just glaze over. We know it's bad, but we can't do anything about it.

But when we have any opportunity to change what we can, such as a school levy to rebuild crumbling schools, and I do mean crumbling; it will cost us. We must do these things.

Dealing with the national debt would be painful for the rest of our lives. It’s political suicide and no one and no party will take it on fully. We must do what we can do. I don’t like taxes any more than the next person, and I am not totally convinced that those in charge are using my money wisely, but I don’t have a better idea overall. We got ourselves in this mess, we allowed it, and to think we can get out of it without pain is ridiculous.

I am not dealing with any one issue here (other than the one that inspired me, of course); but the basic issues of life, debt, overspending for whatever reason, and just not living within our income.

None of us will have the retirement we dreamed of, but that was somewhat media-driven to begin with. Did we really think we would spend 20 years walking a beach if we earned a middle-income wage? Come on!

I think the thing we all agree on is that we WANT to leave our kids and grandkids with good educations, good libraries, fire and police protection, as our grandparents and parents gave to us. We owe them no less. And if it’s painful, we brought this on ourselves!

There is no simple answer, but the solution will be painful to all; some more than others. There will be cause and effect. Some people will do without.

And it’s not a political “game.” It’s our kids, grandkids and their future. It’s the world we are leaving them.

P.S. The school levy failed.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Joy of Grandparenting

Almost everyone has heard the adage, “If I had known how much fun grandchildren were, I would have had them first!”

We are the grandparents of a little girl who is now 16 months old. This is when it really gets to be interesting. Not that we weren’t interested before, but now we can take her places and do stuff.

While caretaking recently, we decided it was time for Baby to get into the swing of Gma and Gpa’s Friday evening activity—that of going to Bob Evans. She did fine. We gave her crayons and she played with them some. What I thought was most interesting was that there was another baby there, a boy about 8-10 months old and she was fascinated by this baby! He, on the other hand, had no concept that she was there—nor did his older (4 years old?) brother. Was this a gender thing or an age-related thing? At any rate, it was interesting to watch her. And him.

She had half a grilled cheese sandwich, a fruit bowl and some of Grandma’s roll before the food came. However, when she was done, she signed “all done” and she was all done! Ready to get down and play! We still had food to eat and tried to keep her going, but eventually we both packed up our salads. We should have just ordered the smaller size and been done with it.

This baby is bi-lingual; she signs American Sign Language. Grandma knows a couple of them, but really wishes she had a reverse look-up every once in awhile. Grandma and baby read and do the flash cards. Grandpa reads and does puzzles with her. Also, we like to sit and “watch” her, learning of her interests, abilities and patterns.

We are so much more relaxed now. We know what is important and what is NOT! Grandma can give her some candy. We try to keep a basic schedule for good behavior as much as anything; but we aren’t strict about it. Tired toddlers are simply NOT fun.

Baby at Bob Evans
One of the best things about grandparenting that is healthy for us as a couple is that it takes us back to a simpler time—you know, that time where nice older ladies told you to enjoy it because it goes by too fast—before life got crazy with work schedules, five different sports, and trying to be everything to everyone. It reminds us that we really CAN do this, and we can do it well. We balance each other and trust each other. We know how the other rolls.

When Mama and Daddy came home; you know the routine, she started whining and fussing! We had nothing of that level going on, and it wasn’t because we catered to every whim! I remember as a young mother I was told what angels my children were and I didn’t believe it; until I took care of two little boys on either side (age-wise) of my daughter. The three of them, ages 1, 2 and 3 were complete angels. Then their mother walked in and those boys changed personalities. It was then I believed!

Now, if we can just get past the “kiddie” shows. I don’t remember them being so stupid before. Grandma needs to get some good videos.

There is so much yet to do in the future. I look forward to taking her to Boonshoft Museum, different shows, and the art museum where I worked. Parents are so busy that it’s good for grandparents to give them some time off and enrich the child’s life too. I look forward to this season of life!