Author Archives: Not Like a Cat

Stonyfield, prAna, and #TheWholeYou (well, the whole ME!)

I have long espoused the virtues of full-fat dairy products. They’re more natural. We need fat in our diets. They taste better. So many reasons! And skim milk seems weird to me. My kids have never had skim milk and have rarely had low-fat milk, only when we are visiting someone else’s house.

These views have now become mainstream. Many new studies are showing that full-fat dairy is the better choice, for everything from staying lean to normal cholesterol levels to lower sugar intake to reduced incidences of type 2 diabetes.

Oh, and it tastes a heck of a lot better than the low-fat stuff!

Whoops, bought French Vanilla instead of plain, but that’s OK!

Diet

One thing I’ve always liked is whole milk yogurt, especially whole milk Greek yogurt. It’s so much tastier than lowfat or 0% (ugh). My kids like it too, especially as a bedtime snack: plain whole milk yogurt with a drizzle of maple syrup on it. If they’re going to have a bedtime snack, I know a dose of fat and protein will keep them sated through the night!

Exercise

A healthy diet makes me feel whole. So does exercise, even more so. And so does supporting companies whose values I share, such as prAna. My favorite climbing pants have always been prAna, and I use some of their gear for yoga, too. For this campaign I was given the opportunity to get the Dreaming Tankini in Pink Riviera. I like my body and like wearing bikinis (even though, to be honest, I’m at my heaviest and least-fit condition in over a decade), but you know what’s even better? Not having to deal with a ton of sunscreen on this pale, pale skin. So covering up a little with UPF 50 is awesome.

 

Of course, I’ll still need to sunscreen my upper back unless I want a really cool web-pattern burn from the beautiful back on the tankini:

I recently got another prAna top for yoga with the same back web–I’ve gotten so many compliments on it!

Discount Code: 

Some of my fellow Stonyfield ambassadors chose a beautiful dress or pants. You can get a discount of 15% now through the end of May on an prAna item with this code: WHOLES17NLC. 

Enjoy! And be #TheWholeYou

 

 

 

Easy Tasty Angel Hair From an Empty Pantry

The cupboards are bare. Or nearly so. My kids haven’t been here the past few days, and I’ve been very lazy about grocery shopping. I’ve lately been living on flatbread (locally-made flatbread which I top with homemade arugula pesto, whatever veggies I have on hand, maybe some diced tofu, and cheese) as well as eggs.

But I don’t feel like going to the grocery store at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night. So I grubbed around and realize I have the ingredients for three great meals tonight:

    1. Spring rolls (filled with tofu, carrots, cilantro, and bean sprouts, as I recently sprouted a bunch of mung beans). I happen to have a bunch of spring roll wrappers, rice vermicelli, and a sweet chili dipping sauce.
    2. Stir-fried bean sprouts on rice. Probably tasty, but not at all what I’m in the mood for.
    3. Angel hair with the last few tired cherry tomatoes, (jarred) garlic, fresh parsley, and fresh Parmesan. That sounds like the most appealing (and low-effort) option right now.

I went with option #3…easy comfort food. Much needed, today.

So here’s how you make yourself a quick, easy dinner with no recipe and very little on hand. And I’m sorry that all the images are sideways/upside-down. New plugin, see.

Get a pot of salted water boiling. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet. Add a glob of jarred garlic if that’s all you have, or a pile of minced fresh garlic if your pantry is better stocked than mine.

Chop up your last tired cherry tomatoes. Toss them into the skillet. If you have some remaining fresh spinach leaves, add them, too. Add any other leftover veggies you might have; I had steamed broccoli in the fridge, so I put in a few florets and mashed them as best I could.

Squeeze in a healthy dose of tomato paste and half as much anchovy paste. These are things that you should have in your fridge at all times, even if you run out of bread and milk and beans and everything else.

Stir it around. Add about half a cup of the pasta cooking water to the skillet.

Drain the pasta. Add it to the skillet, tossing everything around. Let the extra water cook off.

Shower it all with a pile of freshly-grated Parmesan. If you need to use pre-grated cheese, I understand and won’t judge, but do yourself a favor and grate it fresh if you can.

Because you’re worth it and had the absolutely shittiest and most disappointing race/run of your life today, because you ignored your tight calves and sore creaky Achilles and went into a six-hour trail race on ice/snow/mud with very little training,

and at mile 4 your calf pain shifts to a sharp Achilles pain and you know the day is over, and you are at this point down to a T-shirt and capris (no hat or gloves or any warm layer tied around your waist) and it’s 40 degrees out and you try to shortcut back through a snowy bramble field,

possibly crying with anger and disappointment, and when you’re back on trail, scratched and bleeding and limping and shivering, you reassure concerned passing runners that you’re fine and making your way back to the start/finish, and one woman looks extra-concerned and you burst into tears because THIS IS YOUR FAULT,

and she turns around and walks back along the course with you and is very kind and doesn’t even attempt a hug until you’ve gotten yourself under control and are able to recognize that you knew going into this race you had some physical issues you’ve been ignoring and at least this time you didn’t run through the pain but instead stopped when it felt significant, and then you hugged and thanked her and sent her on her way,

and because you drove four other 6-hour runners to the race, so you had to wait around another five-plus hours in the cold drizzle waiting for everyone else to finish.

anyway, toast some bread crumbs in olive oil and toss them in with the pasta. It is delightful. You deserve it. Sprinkle some fresh chopped parsley on it if you have it.

Sprinkle salt over all of it.

While it’s good and hot, eat it. Unless you are me, in which case you realize your younger son’s hamster, in his new hamster ball, has been too quiet for too long, and you discover this:

Where is the hamster??!?

Eat your cold pasta, after you finally catch and re-cage the hamster. It will still be tasty.

 

Print Recipe
Empty-Pantry Easy Angel Hair
Haven't shopped in awhile? Make this easy, healthy angel hair with what's in your fridge and pantry! Angel hair with tomatoes, spinach, and Parmesan.
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Heat 1-2 T olive oil in a skillet.
  3. When the oil is hot, add the garlic. Saute for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes. Add spinach if you have it. Sautee 1-2 minutes
  5. Add broccoli and smash with your spatula.
  6. Add a squeeze of anchovy paste and twice as much tomato paste.
  7. When pasta is done, splash about half a cup of the pasta water into the skillet before you drain the pasta.
  8. Heat oil in another skillet. When hot, add bread crumbs and toss until lightly toasted.
  9. Add drained pasta to the skillet. Toss with tongs. Keep on heat long enough to evaporate extra water.
  10. Shower with grated Parmesan and fresh chopped parsley. Add toasted bread crumbs and toss.
Share this Recipe
 

Step Right Up! Circus 1903 Is in Boston (Review)

Two nights ago my children and I ventured into Boston to the historic and lovely old Wang Theater (now called the Boch Center) to see the circus. The circus? Yes! Circus 1903! More “Cirque de Soleil” than Ringling Brothers, this show imagines how the circus used to be.

Oh, just one of the fancy emergency exits. #WangTheater #BochCenter #Circus1903 Photo credit: Itsnotlikeacat

You should see what these guys can do when they get airborne! Photo credit: Mark Turner

But instead of clowns and trick ponies and dancing bears, the audience is treated with acrobats; “foot juggling” (think acro-yoga times 1000); aerialists tossing each other through the air (“is he really going to catch her by her ankles?!?”); a gorgeous aerial hoop performance by a former rhythmic gymnastics world champion who, like some of her fellow performers, has previously performed with Cirque de Soleil; and a spectacular juggler.

Photo credit: Mark Turner

We can’t leave out the Cycling Cyclone, who inspires me to get my single-speed bike…working again, at least. I will not be doing handstands while cycling backwards anytime soon. Or the balancing guy, “The Sensational Sozonov,” who I kind of expected to come tumbling down at any second. Bikes also appeared in the Los Lopez highwire act, which practically started with someone riding a bike across a highwire while another person got on the stunt pegs and then did a handstand on the handlebars…and it went from there (“Mom! I have stunt pegs on my bike!” “Child, I’m so glad you’re inspired. What are you going to start practicing first?”).

Please don’t fall!! Photo Credit: Mark Turner

That’s the beauty and reality of a circus on opening night. You get the sense that things are still being perfected, which makes it beautifully real. I think there was an actual stumble or two during the show overall, a great reminder to all of us that these performers work hard and have to practice.

While the show does have something of a storyline, I was too caught up in the physical feats to notice. The ringmaster occasionally called children up on stage. I’d say that encouraging your children to get on stage might not be ideal for kids under age 6 unless they handle surprises and strangers well and have a good sense of humor.

As for humor, my older child found the show amazing and hilarious (when it was funny); my younger son didn’t seem to notice the humor, but he was still mesmerized by the show.

Oh! The elephants! How could I not tell you about them? The elephants are life-sized, a mother and a baby! They look very real, but they are entirely human-powered. They are so beautiful that I wanted to cry. They are moved and supported entirely by puppeteers. You should go see Circus 1903 if only to see the elephants (though you’ll be delighted to all the show has to offer).

So beautiful, this elephant. Photo credit: Mark Turner

Baby elephant. Photo credit: Mark Turner

The show only runs through March 12, so don’t miss your chance! Go this weekend! I have a discount code for you. See below.

Discounts:

Save 25% on tickets to see CIRCUS 1903 – The Golden Age of Circus  at the Boch Wang Theatre!  Visit  http://www.bochcenter.org/buy/show-listing/circus-1903  and enter code MOMS to buy your discounted tickets.  Discount applies to all performances, while supplies last. Valid on all levels, excluding Orchestra Pit.

Stonyfield Is Now a Certified B Corp!

In news that should surprise no one, Stonyfield Yogurt is now a certified B corp. In short, this means that they have been certified to be socially and environmentally responsible, using their for-profit business for social good.

In becoming a B corp, Stonyfield joins more than 1600 other companies who have already been certified. According to BCorporation.net, “B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk.”

Stonyfield joins companies such as King Arthur Flour, Pete & Gerry’s Organics (eggs), Purely Elizabeth (granolas and cereals), Preserve (household products made from recycled plastic), Method (dish soap and other cleaning products), Pukka (tea), Warby Parker, and Patagonia.

To celebrate, Stonyfield sent me a basket of treats from some of their fellow B corps: sprouted whole-wheat flour from King Arthur, a toothbrush from Preserve, Method hand soap, Pete & Gerry’s eggs, Purely Elizabeth granola, and Pukka turmeric tea.

Congratulations, Stonyfield!

Step Right Up! CIRCUS 1903 Is Coming to Town! #Giveaway

I love a good old-fashioned circus. All those acrobatics and feats of strength and daring, high-wire acts and juggling and everything! Fortunately, a really cool circus is coming to Boston (and other cities) in a few weeks: CIRCUS 1903 – The Golden Age of Circus.

The producers of the world’s biggest magic show, The Illusionists have teamed up with the award winning puppeteers from War Horse to present a thrilling turn of the century circus spectacular…

…Sensational puppetry puts Elephants back in the ring as never seen before by introducing the largest-ever performing African elephant and her baby [NOT REAL — the elephants are puppets!], along with a huge cast of the most unique, amazing and dangerous circus acts from all four corners of the world, from strong men to contortionists, acrobats to musicians, knife throwers, high wire and much more!

Yeah, just doing a split on an ironing board held by 2 guys biking on a tightrope…what r u up to? (Photo credit Mark Turner)

The award-winning team of puppeteers and model makers who created the National Theatre’s War Horse will design, build and bring to life two stunningly beautiful elephants for CIRCUS 1903 –The Golden Age of Circus. Featuring groundbreaking advances in design and expression, the puppets appear throughout the show as the mother teaches her calf the tricks of the trade.

I cannot wait to see this live! (Photo credit: Mark Turner

Giveaway: I’m giving away 4 tickets to the show! Wednesday, March 8 at 7:00 p.m., BOCH CENTER WANG THEATRE in Boston. If you can make that show, jump into the giveaway! If you can’t, see below to get a 25% discount on tickets!

To win tickets: I’m doing this via Rafflecopter. It’s very easy, and you have several options to choose from.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Discount Code: Save 25% on tickets to see CIRCUS 1903 – The Golden Age of Circus  at the Boch Wang Theatre!  Visit  http://www.bochcenter.org/buy/show-listing/circus-1903  and enter code MOMS to buy your discounted tickets.  Discount applies to all performances, while supplies last. Valid on all levels, excluding Orchestra Pit.

Tickets: In any case, tickets are on sale at the Boch Center box office, through www.bochcenter.org or by calling (866) 348-9738.

Social Media: Follow CIRCUS 1903 –The Golden Age of Circus on Twitter: @Circus1903, Facebook and Instagram: @Circus1903.

 

Staying Fueled With Stonyfield Organic Whole Milk Smoothies

I’ll admit it: We eat between meals. I’m more in the six-small-meals-a-day camp, so I tend to graze. And the kids get hungry between lunch and dinner, after at least an hour of playground time after school. Who can blame them?

And they need to stay fueled for everything else, such as fort building,

ice skating,

homework, and more.

We don’t eat junk food, though. Our snacks tend to be veggies and hummus, cheese and crackers, fruit, nuts, or the occasional granola bar. A bowl of plain whole milk yogurt with a drizzle of maple syrup is something they sometimes enjoy, too.

My younger son sometimes begs me to buy him the brightly colored yogurt drinks at the store, but I rarely do. Then Stonyfield send me some of their new Organic Whole Milk Smoothies.

Hello there!

I’ve long eschewed the low-fat trend (I also refuse to make any recipe with “skinny” in the name). The texture of low-fat foods was never quite right. Let’s face it, fat tastes good! It improves mouthfeel, whether you’re talking about yogurt, cheese, a muffin — you name it.

Also, I never quite believed (as an adult) that lowering our fat intake was necessarily helpful. We never did switch the kids to skim milk (yuck). Turns out my instinct was right — fat isn’t horrible for you and doesn’t lead, on its own, to obesity. Plus, fat keeps you full longer.

Anyway. These whole milk smoothies are now available in Strawberry and Peach. They’re good! My kids like both but have a slight preference for strawberry. They come in four-packs, with each bottle containing six ounces. Each bottle has 7 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein. With 16 grams of sugar, they have more added sugar than I’d like, but sometimes that’s OK. They’re gluten-free, organic, and non-GMO.

I make smoothies for the kid almost every morning (Stonyfield plain whole milk yogurt, fruit, juice, protein powder). These organic whole milk smoothies are a quick alternative for days when we’re rushed, or good for an after-school snack (or a midmorning snack for me). I might also try adding one to a smoothie I’m making to sweeten it up a little.

Thanks for going full fat, Stonyfield!

Talking to Kids About Real Things (Gonna Be a Long 4 Years)

UPDATE: THIS JUST IN: http://www.theverge.com/2017/1/28/14427086/federal-court-halts-trumps-immigration-ban

_________

We were watching “The Wide Window” in “A Series of Unfortunate Events” when my phone buzzed.

Do you have the kids now?

-Yep.

I’m probably going to Logan. 

Earlier in the evening I’d shared, on Facebook, a compiled lists of protests around the country due to (this time) the new president’s new executive order banning people from entering the U.S. from certain countries. While some of them were in flight.

Yeah, this is horrifying on so many levels.

I responded to my text, quietly: -I would but have very tired slightly sick kids. Thank you for going!! 

Also, I don’t take my kids to protests in the middle of bedtime. We’re chasing a very delicate equilibrium these days and I try to keep the status quo as much as possible. The new custody schedule helps a ton, and I think Friday evening karate does, too. Yes, I know we’re privileged, and privileged enough to try to maintain order and a schedule and routine. I know.

I wished her luck and returned to watching the show with the kids, the younger one snuggled against me.

Twenty minutes later, when the show had ended and I was reading to the kids (George, about a boy who understands she’s really a girl and has a hard time telling anyone but really wants to play Charlotte in the school performance of “Charlotte’s Web”–an excellent book, and so well done, and the kids totally get it and it’s not a big deal to them, and I love that this book exists and hate that it is so out of the norm), my phone buzzed again. Another local friend.

“Mom, stop texting,” my older son grumbled.

“I need to check it. I can explain why,” I said.

The second friend was texting to see if I’d join her at the protest in Boston tomorrow. I checked her text because I knew it would be protest-related and wanted to know if I should connect her with the first friend, so they could carpool to Logan if need be.

“So,” I started, “the Statue of Liberty has a poem on it by a woman named Emma Lazarus, saying, ‘Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.’

“This country became a refuge for so many people seeking shelter and peace and a better life.* The United States welcomes all. Or, did. But our new President has signed something called an ‘executive order,’ an official decree, stating that people from certain countries — all of them predominantly Muslim countries — cannot come to the United States anymore.

“Some of the people were on planes at the time that he signed it, so when they landed here they couldn’t go to to where they were going, and they couldn’t be put back on a plane to go back to where they came from. They were sent to detention centers to talk with immigration lawyers about what they could do.**”

“Wait, why couldn’t they just be put on planes to go back?”

“Great question. For some people, it’s not safe to return to where they came from. They came here seeking a safe place. For others, there’s no reason to return. Maybe they were just on a trip. In any case, who would pay for the flight? So they are sent to detention centers.

“So people are protesting this around the country tonight, at different airports, and they are also marching tomorrow to protest. So I was checking my texts to see if S—‘s mom is going to Logan tonight, like J—- is, to see if maybe they can carpool. But S—-‘s mom is going to the march tomorrow in Boston. Want me to read a few more pages?”

And then poor George had to deal with her teacher refusing to take her Charlotte audition seriously. Ugh.

And then the kids conked out the way very tired children do, especially when they’re fed and safe and warm and secure. Sorry to lay it on thick. It’s been a long week, the first week of a long four years. We’ll be stopping by the Boston protest tomorrow, all three of us.

*For real, we talked about Europeans invading the U.S. and taking the land away from Native Americans and killing most of them and forcing the rest to live in crappy “reservations” just a few days ago, so I skipped that part.

**Admittedly a little heavy for bedtime. But I’m not going to shield my children from their president’s actions for the next four years. I cannot. It’s impossible and stupid to try. Instead: Hey kids, here’s what your president is up to. We’re so, so sorry, and it hurts so many people. 

In a Field of Crappy News, Some Joy

It’s true the news is kind of ugly out there. But here’s something that might make you cry for different reasons:

My town has a Facebook page. OK, it has a few: “parents,” “everything is free,” “online yard sale,” and the basic town list.

Someone posted to the regular town list that her adult disabled stepdaughter (age 35, spina bifada) was finally getting her own apartment and needed pretty much everyone one would need to furnish an apartment, so if anyone had anything to donate, that would be great.

A-listers, my adult disabled stepdaughter is finally getting an apartment on her own.
She is going to need everything that you can imagine to get her apartment set up.
If you have things that you are no longer using and would like to put them to great purpose I would be so grateful.
Really she needs pretty much everything.
Thank you!

Well. The outpouring was tremendous. So the woman posted a list of specifics.

A- listers, you have overwhelmed me with kindness for help getting my step daughter, Christine’s apartment set up under way. Many have asked for the whole list. It’s big! One of our nice neighbors has offered to set up a google list so we can all see what is filled and what needs she still has. Here goes!
Christine’s new apartment wish list:

Christine has spina bifida so she is a petit gal. Things that are lighter in nature will be more helpful to her.

Kitchen:
Dishes- lightweight or corelle style
Cutlery
Non stick cooking pans
Dish rack
Tea kettle
Drinking glasses
Cooking knives
Glass blender
Glass baking pans
Brita or similar
Swiffer/brooms etc
Cheese grater
Pizza cutter
Pizza pan
Rolling pin
Soap dispenser
Large kitchen bowl
Salad spinner
Crockpot
Food Processor
Kitchen utensils- spatulas, spoons, whisks, ladles etc.
Cutting board
Oven mitts
Automatic can opener
Lightweight step ladder

Furniture:
Table lamps
Area rugs
Sleeper sofa
Side tables
Desk or swivel chair
Coffee table
2 floor lamps
Flashlights
Full size bed frame
Bureau
Nightlights
Storage ottoman
Grabber for high things
Non slip bath mat
Large storage bin
Shower curtain rings
Lightweight snow shovel
Basic household tools
First aid kit
Book shelf

I mean, she obviously needs EVERYTHING.

A few days later:

I wanted to post an updated Google doc with Christine’s evolving list for her apt (many have asked for an update) I hope to be able to pick up all of your nice items next week.

The Google doc, edited for anonymity:

Christine’s new apartment wish list: Updated 1/7/17

Wow we are closing in!!!

 

Kitchen:

Swiffer/brooms etc

Pizza pan

Rolling pin

Soap dispenser

Automatic can opener

Lightweight step ladder

Bureau

Nightlights

Grabber for high things

Non slip bath mat

Lightweight snow shovel

Basic household tools

First aid kit

Flashlights

Oven mitts- have

Storage bin- E—– pu tues or weds

Cutting board- R— pick up weds

Dishes- lightweight or corelle style- E—  to drop off

Cutlery- 4 flatware M—-  pick up Tues am, also C—

Non stick cooking pans-2 ready to pick up at D—- Tues (Bel)

Dish rack

Drinking glasses- I believe we have plastic ones offered

Plastic reusable cups- pick up T— Picking up Tues

Cooking knives- S—

Glass blender- J— to drop off Sunday

Glass baking pan- M— will let me know

Brita or similar- S—

Salad spinner- Someone  is including this I believe

Crockpot- L— pick up on Tues

Food Processor- pick up at S—- Tues

Kitchen utensils- spatulas, spoons, whisks, ladles etc.

Mixing bowls and platters- Z—- dropping off, mix bowl C—

Dishtowels etc.  R— to drop off

Pasta strainer L—- will drop off

Check it out. How much stuff people are donating. How many are dropping it off so the stepmom doesn’t have to pick it up.

I didn’t have much to donate; I shed extras pretty hard when I moved in August. We’re actually a little tight when it comes to dishes and seating, in fact. But so many had so much to give.

A mere week after the very first post, the stepmother posted this:

Seriously fantastic neighbors,
In just one week you have rallied together to help my disabled step daughter get set up in her first apartment at 35. My jaw dropped at the initial outpouring of offers to help. But the fact that virtually ALL of you who replied with offers came through, was astounding.
Each reply, each messenger response and each warm wish made we want to burst into tears. Christine is one lucky gal to have the fortune of your generosity.
The massive list I posted just days ago, has been whittled down to a short list.
A huge hug to all of you, and I will be posting some move in pics of Christine and the new apartment soon!

Thank you!

Today, she posted pics of her stepdaughter in the new apartment…with rugs, furniture, lamps, everything.

Christine’s apartment adventure update:
Today was the big move day. She had not seen one thing that you all donated to her (as it’s all been in my house for the past week)
Let me just say she was thrilled when we started unpacking. She couldn’t believe how nice the things you donated were, and she was overwhelmed with the idea that people in A—- rallied on behalf of a total stranger.

She feels a bit uncomfortable about accepting help for her disability. But honestly, this is about so much more than that (as I explained to her) this is about freaking great neighbors who care about each other.
I have never been prouder of our town.
Thank you all so very much!

I can’t (and won’t) post the pics here, because they’re on the town list, but trust me: one very happy woman has moved into her very first independent living situation thanks in great part to the kindness of strangers.

This town — and most humans in general — are great. Let us remember that. Let’s keep this kind of decency and kindness in mind as we move forward.

And Christine, congratulations! Enjoy your apartment and new life.

Teaching Kids About Holiday Giving With Stonyfield

My kids like Christmas. They have warm, secure lives in two decent homes and are fed well. They are fortunate. They know that I donate to various organizations (some combination of Planned Parenthood, local public radio, the Greater Boston Food Bank, Rosie’s Place, Home for Little Wanderers), plus we’ve been known to make care packages for people in the nearby homeless camp (socks, cookies, a little money, toothbrushes and toothpaste).

This year, I opted into a “pay it forward” campaign with Stonyfield; they sent me a $50 Visa gift card, and I got to decide where and how to spend it.

With the Stonyfield card, I talked to the kids about how we could “pay it forward.” Should we contribute to something global, such as Heifer International or Save the Children? To a national social justice organization, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center? Something more local, like the Greater Boston Food Bank? Something even closer to home, such as the Food for Free’s Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program, which recently suffered devastating budget cuts?

I explained each organization and what it does. Max chose the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program. I think the idea of kids being hungry and not having enough food on the weekend was most relatable for him (he’s knows he is well fed and has all the snacks he wants and needs, but considering that some kids don’t have anything to eat on weekends struck a chord with him).

Before I could make the donation, an “Urgent!” email came from our school PTO. Every year our school has a Giving Tree with tags marked with item, size, and price, so that everyone our town who celebrates Christmas can have gifts under the tree. You take a tag, buy the specific item, and leave it in a box under the tree. This  year, at deadline time, there were still a few unclaimed tags. I read aloud the options to my children: sneakers and shoes in various kid sizes, a toy helicopter, a toy jet, a jacket.

Oh, whoa. Every kid should have adequate footwear and cold-weather gear and a dream toy. I told my kids about the tags. I suggested we consider giving to this, too. The boys decided on the size 12 boy’s sneakers, which were $40, and we all decided we would use the other $10 for the backpack program in Cambridge (which, thankfully, has received a lot of donations since the announcement of the budget cuts).

Thanks, Stonyfield, for the opportunity to “pay it forward” this year. And I love that my kids got to consider different options for spending and choose the ones they could relate to.

Happy late December, all! And happy holidays, too, if you have a holiday to celebrate soon!

 

Today I Tried Ballet

Feel free to start imagining a bull in a china shop, or an elephant dancing.

I have absolutely no rhythm and no sense of body movement. I have taken a multi-week hip-hip/jazz class (and yes, was the person who actually crashed into everyone else because I went right when they went left). I have tried Zumba (really not my scene, and also I can’t do it because I have no sense of rhythm).

Here’s what I can do, before you think I’m totally lame: I can run an ultra with training. I can run 25 miles of technical trail without training (yeah, that shocked me, too, and my Achilles are still kind of pissed about it). I can do an hour-long HIIT or Tabata or boot camp workout without breaking much of a sweat or hurting the next day.

But I cannot dance.

Because I am unemployed right now (and can only apply for so many jobs per day, because there are only so many jobs out there), and because I’m sick with a cold,* today I decided to go to the gym. There was a Burn class followed by a ballet class (the suburban branch of my gym has classes all day long to meet the needs of a big stay-at-home population, which is awesome). The Burn class was great. Very familiar stuff: weights, core work, some cardio and Tabata thrown in.

I had read that the ballet class was open to everyone. I saw people in ballet slippers and skirts lining up at the door. I ran down to the locker room to get my barre socks (I once did a barre class and was given the grippy socks). I got into ballet after class started.

The people were very kind. They had lots of pointers for me. There was no space for me on the bars in the middle of the floor, so I had to go to the front of the room. The teacher demo’ed each warmup thing. The very nice (and amused) woman behind me cued me in a whisper throughout each routine.

People, ballet is complicated! And fussy! And the instructions are all in French!! And your arms aren’t just waving mindlessly; there’s actually some sort of protocol for arm movement, and your eyes are supposed to follow your hand (did you even know that??), and anyway even if your feet are doing silly things your arms are also supposed to be doing something that coordinates, and your head/eyes should follow, making it a lot more complicated than it should be.

Plus, the teacher kept saying “Fondue!” but there was no cheese. But I think I kicked ass (no pun intended) at arabesque.

So we did half an hour at the bar, following her routines. Please note I was the youngest person in the class by far.

Then the bars were pushed aside and we moved into the middle of the room. And then all the friendly wonderful nice people kept coming up to me to say, “You should stay at the back of the room” and “Watch the woman in the gray tie-dyed tights; she keeps it simple” and “We’ve been building on this choreography all month and today is the 30th, which is why everyone knows the routines but you” and “We’ve all been dancing together for 20 years; this is our second teacher!” and “You should try the beginner’s class on Monday” and “When you plie, keep your back upright; don’t lean forward” and “It’s so brave of you to be here!”

Yes. I’m the bravest ballet motherf*cker on the planet. The name is Bond. Ballet Bond.

So they were all doing parts of this choreography they’ve been working on all month and everyone already knew the routine.

I tried. I tried hard. And then I gave up. I couldn’t handle the tinkly piano music and constrained movements anymore. My movements are big. I carry too much. I can do mind over matter like nobody’s business. I can push myself to the edge when no one else gives a shit. I can carry a bundle of asphalt shingles to the roof (or, used to be able to; it’s been a while since I’ve had to). I can run. But I cannot dance at all.

I am not a ballerina. (Note: I deeply respect ballerinas. They’re super-strong and work incredibly hard and obviously can handle mind over matter. But we are different.)

So I sort of tried to follow the routines but just needed to move my body. I stepped. I kicked. I pirouetted. I leaped. I flapped my arms.

Everyone encouraged me to come to the Monday beginner class.

Honestly, I’d rather do boot camp.

*I have this theory that if I have a bad cold, I’m better off getting out there and moving and working rather than just sitting around sipping tea. I mean, I do that, too (and also drink tons of hot garlicky lemony broth spiked with cayenne), but I can’t do that all day. Exercise is good, too.