I just returned from an outstanding writing work shop by the Op-Ed Project . This is an organization that is working hard to change the grim statistic that only 20% or less of the opinion pieces published on major news outlets (everything from the New York Times to the Huffington Post) are written by women. If there are any mom bloggers out there who would like to change this statistic and perhaps the world check out the Op-Ed Project website to see when a workshop is coming to a city near you. In the mean time they have some great resources about writing and submitting Op-Eds. I am hoping to use what I learned in the class to take my one woman campaign to keep California’s State Parks open, to the masses. Hopefully I will be posting a link to my very own published Op-Ed soon.
However, I digress. At this work shop I met an exercise physiologist who doesn’t like to exercise. She knows about the tremendous benefits that exercise can have for her health and well being, so she works out, but she doesn’t really enjoy it. Reflecting upon this revelation led me to the following conclusions.
1) Exercise must be vitally important to human health for this woman to devote her life to the study of how it effects the human body, despite the fact she doesn’t enjoy doing it.
2) That’s just not how I roll.
I have known at least something about the benefits of exercise for myself and my children for many years, but I didn’t do anything about this knowledge until I consciously began to seek out exercise that I enjoy. Finding a way to enjoy physical activity took some creativity and willingness to try new things. I had to relearn how to ride a bike and force myself not to stop because I looked very silly teetering around my cul de sac. I had to be open to modern technology, throwing caution to the wind, to play Dance Central on Kinect (Currently my absolute favorite way to exercise). I had to model for my kids how they could have fun skiing even though they might come tumbling down the mountain and get their pants full of snow.
Although today I fell off the wagon,I still manage to fit in some kind of exercise at least 3-4 times a week. Thanks to my exercise physiologist friend and her excellent blog SisterFit.com ,I’m also going to start doing some strength training and perhaps some sit ups and pushups. Those necessary good for you but not too fun exercises should build muscle and reduce the mommy flab earned by two pregnancies. I’ll let you know how that goes.
What’s a great way to ensure that your kids get some exercise on vacation? Camp next to a big old rock outcropping and let everyone explore. We spent three days camping at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. I’m sure the kids will look back fondly on the petroglyphs and the wild flowers, but their best memories will be of scrambling up the rocks next to our camp site with dog in tow.
A Glimpse of the Climbers, Valley of Fire
Everyone enjoyed climbing around until they found their own unique cubbyhole to take a rest.
Justin's Hide Out, Valley of Fire
More pictures later. As you can imagine we can hardly wait to go back!
This winter I learned to ride a bike… again! When I was five I tried to learn to ride my beautiful purple princess bike to no avail, as a teenager I mastered the skill, but twenty years passed without getting back on my bike.
I always told myself that when the kids were old enough to ride, I would join them. Now I peddle a pink beach cruiser around the cul de sac like a crazy woman! I love the sense of freedom, balance, and speed. I see how good it is for my boys to work off steam and develop their motor skills. Destiny is my hold out, but I will work hard to ensure that she doesn’t wait until 37 years old to ride a bike!
St. Elizabeth Seton in Carlsbad, California is collecting used boys and mens bikes for an orphanage in Mexico. As much as our kids benefit from the power of the bike, these boys benefit ten fold. They don’t have a lot of toys or possessions. The bikes give them exercise and freedom.
If you live in San Diego County and have an old bike sitting in your garage e-mail me at familyadventureguidebooksatgmaildotcom, and I will get you in touch with the folks at St. Elizabeth’s. Don’t worry if the bike isn’t in perfect condition. Apparently those St. Elizabeth angels are masters of bike repair.
Lets share the power of the bike this Move It Monday. Wherever you are go out for a ride!
The boys in our family headed to a Monster Truck Rally, so Destiny and I were left to decide what to do with “girl time”. Foolishly I proposed we try to dance all the dances in the Dance Central game. More than two hours later we are still going!
If you haven’t tried out Microsoft Kinect go visit a friend who has one! It is one of the best investments our family has made. No matter what the weather the kids have an excuse to move. Kids of all ages can play most of the games. Still, be prepared for some disappointments since Mom and big brother usually win due to their larger size and greater experience. With Destiny I have been trying to focus on beating her individual score. I’ve also promised her I would play the last dance on hard, to give her the advantage.
Dance Central has upbeat dance music (a few with questionable lyrics, but it seems to make it over kids heads). The choreography is realistic. Every time I do a jazz square in the game I give a grudging thanks to my middle school P.E. teachers Mrs. Briggs and Ms. Cuppola. I hated that class, but ironically they some of the few middle school teachers whose names I actually remember! I wish I had learned the choreography to “Pump Up the Jam” when I was in high school. I would have dazzled my high school boyfriend with my moves.
Finally video games that the whole family can play! With Dance Central I’m out of breath and not quite ready for my debut on Glee, but I’m having fun exercising. Let’s see how I feel tomorrow after over three hours of dancing
I have been a mom for more than a decade now, and it seems that every day I learn something new about parenting my lively kids. Hikes and trips to the park have always been a part of our family adventures, but I never knew just how important they were to my children’s well being until I started doing some reading. The first book I picked up, Last Child in the Woods is a wonderful meditation of the importance of exposure to natural environments for all children. Nature acts as a form of therapy for kids with ADD and other challenges, and benefits all kids as well. One key thing I learned is it important for kids to explore and to manipulate their natural environment in order to really reap the benefits of their nature experiences. Now as we go for a hike, we stop to climb a tree or dig in the dirt. We stack little rock towers at our local park. We spend plenty of time collecting and releasing sand crabs at the beach.
As I have gotten to know the individual personalities and idiosyncrasies of my lively brood I have discovered a connection between exercise and the ability for my kids to focus. In my youngest this is particularly evident. If Jared has a chance to be physically active before buckling down to do his homework or work with his Occupational Therapist, he will be much more happy and successful. Turns out brain research backs up my observations. In his book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain , Ratey shows how exercise can improve focus, even for people with ADD, relieve the symptoms of depression, reduce anxiety and improve academic performance.
The further I travel on this journey of parenting, the more I realize that modeling an active lifestyle is gift I can give my children that will improve their health and well being for years to come. To this end, we are walking to school and walking the dog. After a 20 year hiatus I have relearned how to ride a bike and am biking to our neighborhood park with the kids. Scooters, jump ropes, and a Microsoft Kinect were some of the presents under the Christmas tree this year.
So this year, my blog will have a new focus. When possible on Mondays, I will be sharing my experiences with getting my kids moving. Some posts will highlight active adventures while traveling. Others will focus on at-home adventures. I hope that my fellow bloggers will join me with a “Move It Monday” Post, then stop by and leave a comments. Since I have Comment Luv, a link to your post will appear next to your comment.
In the interests of full disclosure “Move It Monday” is not my unique idea. According to their website, Move it Monday is part of The Monday Campaigns ” a non-profit public health initiative in association with Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse Newhouse School of Public Communications. Our goal is to help end chronic preventable disease by offering a weekly prompt that can support people in starting and sustaining healthy behaviors.” Stop by their website to learn more.
If you are planning to visit the Legoland theme park in Carlsbad, California, this book contains all the information you need to make the most of your family adventure. The book also includes information about other area attractions, local restaurants and hotels.
Bridget Smith, mom of three, loves to blog about everyday adventures. Her mission is to change the world; one kid, one destination, one effortless trip, one overworked mom, one frazzled dad... one day at a time! Come and join her.