Friday, February 19, 2010

The Spirit of the Games

Who isn't watching the 2010 Olympics? Regardless of where they are held, I'm captivated - although I could do with a little less "behind the scenes"-
"Johnny's grandmother always wanted a grandson who could shoot targets while skiing across frozen tundra and her homemade cobbler was exactly what he needed to aim for Olympic GOLD!"
Yup, that's thick...and deep...

Usually the Olympics are a celebration of hard work, determination, perseverance and the pursuit of excellence - not to mention the temper tantrums.

Sure, I get all warm and fuzzy when I see a Canadian athlete excel - especially when it's the first Gold on Canadian soil (shout out to you Alex!!!) but for every five "warm fuzzies" we get one jackass who makes the Olympics really THE greatest show on earth.

Take, for example, Dale Begg-Smith, the Aussie transplanted Canadian who is the scourge of the technological world. You see, DBS is the lovely chap behind many of the pop-up versus and links to XXX websites that infiltrate your computer...hate him already, don't you?

Add to that endearing quality the fact that he's a total putz. Wealthy beyond reason, DBS is considered the Millionaire Skier who chose to join the Australian team when he couldn't get along with the Canadian National Team. He refused interviews leading into his sport (Freestyle/Mogels) and made himself a global spectacle when he came in second to Canada's Alex Bilodeau. The photos. are. priceless. Look them up. I've seen 2-year-olds react better to spilled ice cream cones.

Jump ahead to this week, where the Men's Figure Skating was decided. While Patrick Chan - who is known for his amazing footwork and artistry wasn't considered much of a threat after his disappointing short program, he was called out by another "well groomed" sportsman - Russia's Evengi Plushenko. Plushenko laid it pretty clear that he believed if you were in the men's class and you didn't lay down a Quad, well then you really weren't much of a man at all, were you?

Again, egos raged and the "Quad King" as he has become known, supported his mature mentality with his actions during warmups - taking three tours of the ice surface, landing two or three jumps and then leaving, stating "That's enough." Talk about diva behavior.

In the end, the judges didn't warm up to the Russian's one-trick-pony act (*Take note Mr. Plushenko - there is artistry involved in figure skating - it is the blend of athleticism and art that makes this sport truly unique. Check in to it.) He received the silver and even that wasn't graceful. He quickly pulled the medal off his neck and skated off for the exit - which he was denied because he had to exit the opposite end of the ice - poetic justice indeed.

And I'm really glad my kids haven't seen these episodes of child-like behavior because it's hard to raise kids to be good sportsmen and take responsibility for their actions when adults are televised acting like morons.

Now, what the world needs is more Nobunari Odas.... A young 17-year-old Japanese figure skater, he executed a fun, entertaining and challenge ode to Charlie Chaplin. But what made him outstanding is what he did when things went bad.

As he landed his final jump in the Men's Freestyle, his leg went out from under him, sending him crashing to the ice. Within seconds, you knew something was wrong and he skated directly to the judges panel. A close up of his skate evidenced a badly beaten skate boot and when he pulled up his trouser leg, a handful of mangled, snapped laces.

The rules say, you have three minutes from the time you notify the judges to return to the ice. He did so with speed and grace, quickly re-lacing and retying the skate and then resuming his routine with style and flare. You honestly never would have thought he stopped. The music ended, he struck his final pose and the audience went wild.
Plushenko, DBS, were you watching? Not likely....

Friday, February 12, 2010

Love Thyself

Because I believe in brutal honesty (see here September 2009 - Happy Birthday!) I can tell you at my heaviest - when expecting my second child, I tipped the scales at almost 210 pounds.

And I say "almost" because I started blacking out a the Ob/Gyn's each time I stepped on the scales.

Now SBS was indeed on the larger side - dressing out at 9 lbs 4 oz, but the fact remains, roughly 200 lbs stayed with me. And lingered. I completely admit I did not help myself. I gained more weight than I should have after First Born Son and it seemed to snowball into the next pregnancy 3 years later.

I never had a weight problem growing up. If anything - it was the other way around - I was too bloody skinny! I look at photos of myself and wince. Nothing but hip bones, shoulders, looooong hair and even longer legs. I remember laying on my parents' picnic table to suntan (don't like the bugs when laying on the ground and they didn't have a lounger) and getting up to roll over and giving myself Loonie-sized bruises.

I remember the day I hit 150 lbs. I remember think at the ripe old age of 17 that I was going to have to keep an eye on my weight - but I had also just stopped growing - topping out a hair under 5'9. My metabolism was so fast I could eat two bowls of cereal for breakfast. You could literally put your finger in the spaces between my ribs. I was a poster child for malnourishment, although I was eating like crazy.

Then I went to college. My German landlady's diet of a full roast dinner with mashed potatoes and desert for every meal (mmmmmm apple dumplings) helped me top out at 160 lbs. I looked a bit better than the rack of bones I was, but after several months of eating like a ranch hand and I slow started getting pudgy.

It didn't get any better when I joined the work force. Faced with being strapped to a desk, the amount of energy I exerted in no way burned off the amount I was ingesting. I looked good the day I got married but I had eating habits that had me going in a downward spiral.

Fast forward to 2006. My crappy back was not doing well - I had been hospitalized for torn muscles. I was two children later and I wasn't dropping the weight and I finally put 2 and 2 together to realize I wasn't far from a doctor telling me I WOULD HAVE TO STOP EATING.

Now, I am the first one to admit - I. am. stubborn. Not outwardly rude to other people but determined enough about myself that if I say I'm going to do something - well, you can to go the bank with it!

I decided I was going to do something. With my mother in tow, I stopped in at Herbal Magic to discuss what it would take (and how much it would cost) to carve my old body back. After discussion with The Big Guy, we decided that the value of my health, self esteem and my lack of vices such as smoking, drinking and gambling (hmmmm I sound boring!) meant that I SHOULD invest in myself and put down the cash. I stepped on the scale and was ashamed when the counsellor announced I was 192 lbs. My mother was in denial - what could I say - I carried it well.

I didn't want to tell anyone I was on a program for two reasons 1. I didn't need the "sympathy" as I didn't feel I deserved it - "Oh good for you!!!" 2. I didn't want to explain to people if I failed - which was the lesser evil because if you know me - you know that me failing to lose weight would have been a bad scene all around.

Within the first three months, I lost more weight than any other client my home office had ever worked with. Why? Because I followed the program to. the.word. I learned more about eating, and portion sizes and food than I had learned in my previous 34 years. The Big Guy was supportive but hesitant. The wife's new body now needed new clothes - wait a sec - we didn't calculate THAT in our decision! Life became about drinking water (oh, so THAT's what I've been missing!) and standing on a scale - which I ALWAYS hated.

Two years later I was 35 lbs lighter and deemed to be "done" the program. However, for an additional $XXX I could stay on as an affiliate member to check in on my maintenance.

Uh - no - while I appreciated the support and guidance - I felt confident in my progress. And since then - I've had a target weight of 160 lbs. In the winter, I've been a pound or two higher, and in the summer, a pound or two less - but I like how I my close fit and can tell without standing on a scale where I'm at.

It's never been about being "skinny" so much as being "healthy" although beautiful magazines would say I'm straddling the line of "full figured" since I can wear anything from a size 10 to 12.

But four years ago I made a decision that I have benefited from ever since. The back hurts less - I can feel better about myself and enjoy a more varied wardrobe.

So in honor of Valentine's Day - if taking care of yourself isn't the best way to demonstrate Self Love, I don't know what is. (Doesn't hurt that "other" people appreciate it too!)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Definition of "Honor"

I am COMPLETELY pissed off.

Being a kid in this world is pretty tough. Being a teen is even tougher. I cannot imagine what it is like to live in a developing country, or be raised in a family with strict social mores.

But I CAN imagine it is a pretty f*#ked up life you are living when you a young girl, living in Turkey and your father and grandfather start kicking the snot out of you because you dared to speak to boys.

Oh wait - it gets better...

According to media reports, the girl was taken to the back yard of the family's compound and she was thrown into a pit where she was buried a live. To make sure she didn't escape, the family's chicken coop was placed over the grave.

An autopsy report has concluded she was very much alive when she was placed in the ground.

This type of punishment (almost 100% of the time exacted on the females of the culture - makes ya think, don't it?) has been named an "Honor Killing". The reason behind it is that the family has been shamed by the individual and the only way to maintain their dignity or standing is to remove the problem. Apparently this family reported the girl missing to police.

(Gee, Gramps, if we snoop around a little I think we'll find her, oh ya, CHECK UNDER THE CHICKEN COOP YOU SICK BASTARD!)

Growing up I was a girl who chatted with boys a lot. Not in the flirtatious, self indulgent way, but very much as I am now - very comfortable talking to anyone - male or female. Thankfully The Big Guy isn't the jealous type, but then I wouldn't be with him if he was.

I cannot image being forbidden from speaking to boys when I was 16 years old. I cannot imagine knowing I could be punished for doing so. And I cannot imagine how many other young women have been murdered (ya, that's what we are really talking about here) throughout the course of time under the veil of "Honor".

She wasn't bringing boys into the home and sleeping with them. She wasn't doing drugs at the kitchen table. She wasn't stealing or involved in gang related activities. She wasn't bullying friends or a menace to her neighborhood....she was being NORMAL.

What is normal in Turkey is that 200 deaths HALF of the annual total are categorized as "Honor" killings. 200 women and children who have somehow tarnished the family's image to such a degree that the ONLY recourse is to murder then.

I CHALLENGE YOU - if you have a daughter, if you are a daughter if you are a child of a daughter, make your voice heard and DEMAND change. Regardless of religious, social or stereotypical views, these hideous acts must be stopped. I'm looking into Amnesty International to find out what I can do.
Show this to your daughters and go to the story about the Turkish Honor Killing. The next time they want to lip you about how miserable their life is - let them see just what misery is. Tell your sons that there are men out there whose desperate need to control their microscopic world is to murder their own flesh and blood for doing nothing more than your son does EVERY DAY.

What kind of backasswards kind of society would accept a child killer over a young person who was developing NORMAL social relationships? As far as the disgrace on the family - one would think murder trumps all.

I would love to hear your thoughts - since I'm the only one who gets to blow off steam here....

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Royal Wedding Part II

For anyone perceptive enough to care, there is a small box on the right side of the screen that has been entitled "Countdown to the Royal Wedding Part II" with the number of days that diminishes every couple of days.

This is how long it is until my Little Sister's wedding. The second one. May 21 2010 is the big day - she thought people wouldn't mind taking off EARLY on a long weekend to come to the wedding, but would be severely PISSED if they had to lose a Saturday afternoon. Well played young lady, well played!

The first wedding was actually supposed to be in May, but a conflict in the groom's employment (he was being transferred) meant they needed to bump it to November - losing six months of planning and prep time.

To her credit, she managed to execute a great day with help from our Mother and it was without a doubt, the LEAST snow I've ever seen on a November day. We actually took pictures outside! Her spring dress was modified with gauntlets which allowed her to avoid nastiness with the bridal salon and still have the gown she wanted.

I was her Matron of Honor - HEAVY on the Matron - and come to think of it HEAVY MATRON OF HONOR! I had given birth to FBS only three months earlier and I didn't have the benefit of a SWAT team of trainers, nutritionists and stylists who could whip my new mommy ass into shape. It had a shape alright, but let's just say, it was pleasingly covered by the Empire-waisted gown LS selected. The chest was another matter entirely.

As I was nursing FBS (and could have wet nursed half of maternity ward) I had a substantial chestal-region. The scoop neck design would have been flattering pre-baby as my modest endowment can use all the help it can get. However, by the time the wedding day arrived, you could have set dinner on my chest.

I can remember standing in the seamstress's living room and saying to her "The next time you get married, could it not be three months after I have a baby???" Said it jest...OF COURSE.

But fate has a weird way of jumping in sometimes.

10 years later, my sister is no longer married. 12 years later - she is planning her second wedding to a guy we all agree is a great (and better) match for her. More on that Twilight Zone pairing another time.

Once again she's asked me to stand up for her. I have promised myself I will not come out with any asinine comments that will harpoon her happiness. Because she has two kids, and he also has two, the kiddies are going to be involved in the wedding. I, am basically the Kid Wrangler...

So I find myself blindsided into trying on bridesmaids dresses again. We are staying away from Gold (the first color scheme) and I objected to empire waists. I actually have one of my own now, and won't mind having something a little more fitted.

Style is the issue now. Good luck trying to find something that will look nice on a 13-year-old (my eldest niece) that WON'T make her 38-year-old aunt look like she should be swinging off a pole!?! Conversely, anything that is flattering on me is definitely not anything a young teen would be caught DEAD in.

Finally we agreed on a style and colors (I won't tell you anything until after because that is BAD FORM!) And we move ahead.

I wasn't as involved in planning the first time around because admittedly, I was a little pre-occupied with the whole first time Mom thing. Now, it's old hat and I'm ready to dive in with both feet.

So from time to time, I'll give you little anecdotes, because I'm certain there will be many to come!


Monday, February 1, 2010

Can't We All Just Get Along??

I'll admit it - I'm a do-er.

If something is left undone, I want to make it "done". If you need help with something, I would be glad to lend a hand. REALLY not keen on the glory aspect of things - you don't have to show me a lot of appreciation - just a sincere thanks or honest gesture will keep me happy.

Which is why I'm struggling so much right now.

A group of our hockey parents are trying to co-ordinate and host a hockey tournament in two weeks. We have had a couple of meetings to iron out details and I'm starting to see a dangerous trend - undermining and questioning.

There's not a lot to demand of people - donate a prize ($20 each or 2 for $10 each) and bring a couple of grocery items - costing no more than $20. Donate an hour or two of your time to help staff the kitchen and you are done.

But some people feel the need to question why.


Because, in my opinion, there are people who "do" and people who "would rather not". The WRN people hang back and let the Doers have at'er. When they are actually pulled in to action, they do so reluctantly - with reservations and in the end, it's likely not worth the effort and disruption of engaging them.

So now, after two organizational meetings, we have a couple of people who are questioning the decision made this far. (Have I mentioned WRN people don't like or simply don't attend meetings - falls under the WRN charter.) What they DO like to do is throwing a wrench in things. By definition, this prevents any further "doing".

"Ha, HA! We showed THEM!"

Sadly, the world is suffering from a serious lack of Doers. More and more it seems Doers are succumbing to the negative effects of WRNs as well as exhaustion and under appreciation. Thankfully, there seems to be a new crop of Doers each year, but not in the same numbers as WRNs.

I have tried to stay neutral - the Switzerland of this issue - as my role of Team Manager is such that I don't want to get dragged into a parental sandbox fight when there is a couple of months left in the season. If need be - yes, I'll have to intervene - but until then, I can only hope people will step back and realize it takes a village to feed a hockey team!