Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Three Things, with Gifs

  • It's mid-January, so I finally feel safe in saying congratulations, friends:  we have survived another season of unnecessary apostrophes!  We can at last turn our gazes to the contents of our mailboxes without fear.  I love Christmas cards and newsletters so much, so I've more or less made peace with the trauma I'm dealt each holiday season as my eyes are repeatedly assaulted with good-intentioned missives from "The Smith's" or "The Jones'."  (IT PAINED ME SO MUCH TO TYPE THAT LAST PHRASE.)  Now we're back to the standard fare of bills, ads, and scams every day!  ...yay? 
Is this helpful?

  • We've reached the time of year of Late Starts.  Schools around here will do just about anything to keep from outright canceling (and the parents are guh-RATEFUL) because we don't want to send our kids to school through July.  Enter:  the two-hour delay!  -30 degree wind chill?  Two hour delay!  Slick roads?  Two hour delay!  Blowing snow causing low visibility?  Two hour delay!  We have one today, which is why I am writing this rather than packing endless lunches for our kids (someone remind me to write a post regarding how much I loathe packing school lunches).  I'm not really sure why there is a two hour delay on this particular day; we had a full day last Friday and I'm pretty sure the temp was almost exactly the same as it is this morning- like, to the degree.  Expected temperature of -4 at 8 a.m.?  Check.  Wind chill of -22?  Check.  Lightly snowing?  Check.  This also means I have to sign off social media for extended periods of time as I get unreasonably bitter toward people who live in warmer climates but still complain about the cold.  "Brrr! It's thirty degrees out today!  I searched everywhere and finally found my gloves lololol.  #cold #winter #socold."   Me:  

  • A while back I went on a field trip with Caedmon's class to the Science Center of Des Moines.  I'm pretty sure that, in addition to keeping all the children in your group alive, chaperones are supposed to help keep the kids engaged and point out interesting things they might learn.  I would have done that (the latter, I mean, not the former; all my kids made it back alive, thank you very much), but I got distracted by how much these conceptions of dinosaurs on display there

resemble these.

And does that mean this

was actually this?

Something to ponder.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Falling and Getting Back Up and Falling and...

Our family recently went ice skating.  It was the kids' third time ever, my second, and Derek's hundredth.  Or something.  The point is, he's been a lot, the children and I have not.

As such, Derek is very steady on his skates.  Adelaide and I actually skate quite well, for novices, whereas Caedmon takes a while to master his fear and let go of the wall.

Atticus, meanwhile, continually hurls himself across the rink at high speeds, inevitably falling in a flailing and sprawling of limbs. He is never seriously hurt, usually smiling as he gets back up.

Taking a break between skating/falling/skating/falling.

I, on the other hand, fell twice in the two hours we were there, and now have a bump at the base of one of my fingers, where digit meets palm, which hurts when pressed on, and which one of my friends has given a layman's diagnosis of a bone chip caused by these falls.  This is apparently the difference that 25 years makes in falling.

Just a few years ago I was pretty good at falling; I had frequent practice, tripping every few months while walking or running throughout my life, and had learned a way to not fall quite so hard.  With increased yoga practice, though, my balance has improved dramatically, to the extent that I can no longer recall the last time I fell.  Barring the time I strapped blades to my feet and went coasting along on a sheet of ice, of course.

I've been reading a lot about falling lately, in large part due to this book that we got at the library several months ago.
I don't think I'm within the intended audience age bracket for this book, but I can't help it:  I still found it helpful, and it's caused me to re-evaluate the way I do a number of things in my life.  I think my favorite part is that the author recruited a group of women, who call themselves "goldeners" and who are all over 70, all of whom went through Bowman's program and benefited greatly from it.  There are sections throughout the book written by these women, where they talk about what led them specifically to the program, or about things they found they could no longer do, and how the exercises or shifts in movement helped them, along with any number of other things that I can't think of without the book in front of me.  In short:  it is so good.

In the book Bowman states that fear of falling is just as crippling as actual falling and outlines a series of exercises addressing this, which I apparently need to incorporate into my daily routine.   Also, I want to take one of the classes featured in this New York Times article.  Do you think they'd let me in?  And who wants to pay for my flight to the Netherlands so I can fall with the elderly?  That's not a euphemism.  

For now I'll just treat every run as an opportunity to potentially practice my falling; we've been covered in snow and ice for a while now, with only a couple days above freezing to allow any melting.  I've tried running on the treadmill at our local gym, but anything more than ten minutes on those things makes me want to go full Office Space- Printer on them.

Yes, that is an imperfect analogy, as the treadmills don't enrage me by malfunctioning; I just can't abide spending copious amounts of time on them without being overcome with feelings of worthlessness and resultant, irrational anger, usually going something like this: "I'm not going anywhere.  I'm not getting any of the benefits of being outdoors.  This entire enterprise is utterly meaningless.  Life is meaningless." 

So, I run outside, even though yes, it is very cold out.

At that point I find I have exorcised what may be some underlying anger issues for yet another day.   Life once again has meaning!  Huzzah!  

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Free Animals Looking at Contained Animals

In other words, we went to the zoo.

Yesterday we were headed over to western Iowa to celebrate the 90th birthday of Derek's grandmother.  We decided that since we were already making the drive, we'd introduce the family to the Omaha zoo.  None of us had ever been there, and everyone raves about it, so it was time.

When we left home, the outside temp was still below zero, but Omaha's forecast promised to reach TWENTY WHOLE DEGREES above zero.  It was glorious.

Knowing that this was the expected weather for the day, I'd asked around as to whether or not a winter trip to this zoo was worthwhile; although we are hardy Iowans, both Derek and I start to chafe at dragging frozen younglings around for more than an hour.  I was assured that there are plenty of indoor areas for exploration.  There were.  More glory.

That place is vast.  I'm sometimes bothered when visiting zoos, as I hate to see big animals cooped up and pacing back in forth in small pens.  We did see a bit of this- I mean, it is a zoo- but each holding area for the animals was quite large, and the employees we spoke with repeatedly mentioned "enrichment;"  that ball is for enrichment, that fabric is for enrichment, the scents they spray on those poles are for enrichment.  So the animals aren't just shuffling around listlessly in tight circles.

Those same employees also encouraged questions be asked of them, which our kids never ever ever have a problem with.  They were grilling the young lady in the "elephant family quarters" when one of our children asked where the elephants came from.  She pointed to two and said they were from Africa.  The third one there at the time was from the wilds of  Toledo.  Someone asked how they got the elephants from Africa, and she replied, "Well, we made a deal with them:  there was a drought there, so we sent water and food, and in return we got two elephants."

Caedmon waited a beat and then asked in a bewildered voice, "How do you make a deal with elephants?"

We all learned a lot, is what I am saying.

Because it was cold out, many buildings were nearly deserted, like the cat house.  I watched the big cats slink around and marveled at how awkward and weird humans are.  Then I was overcome with gratitude at these brains of ours, because we are not exactly stunning physical specimens, are we?  I had no idea the zoo would cause so much introspection.

The gorillas were definitely one of my favorites.  Their area was sizable, but several of the gorillas hung out right next to the glass.  (Plastic?  Plexiglass?  I don't know what it is.  Something blessedly strong.)  Adelaide and I lingered a while to watch this mama and her baby sleep, which is super creepy now that I write it down.  Well, it seemed sweet at the time. 

We did other things there, too, like visit the aquarium and the jungle and the desert dome, but please don't worry, there is no tedious play-by-play imminent here.  I'll just say that Derek had fun scaring everyone in the desert dome, Adelaide is afraid of bats, Atticus is afraid of the American alligator's mating call, and  those gators are huge, especially when you're viewing them in a man-made swamp meant to echo the bayou and those gators are in open water on the other side of a net.  I'm sure it was all very safe, but the effect was eerie.  Well done, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (OHDZA, for short, as I'm sure exactly no one calls it).

Also I now do my best to always stand uphill from Adelaide in photos with the kids.  Why do these children insist on getting taller?

The desert dome, where we all felt properly warm for the first time in months.