Tuesday, November 24, 2009

bam bam

We've never been really big on nicknames for our kids. I mean, we call our kids by pet names — Owen is often "O," "Little Dude," "Big Guy," while Nicholas is "Baby," "Little," etc. But neither has really had an official nickname. Now one of them does. From this point forward, Nicholas shall officially be known as Bam Bam. You know, like Barney and Wilma's little cavekid on the Flintstones? Lisa came up with this, and it's pretty much perfect for him. He's small, cute, is a man of few words, and smashes the hell out of anything he can get his hands on.

As I wrote in a post back in September, our kids are so different from each other. They have stuff in common, too, but in some fundamental ways they are just very different people. Owen is curious, but cautious. Careful to avoid risks, he weighs unknown situations and challenges before trying anything new. This has been his M.O. pretty much forever. He wasn't too quick to start walking, waiting till he was sure he could pull it off before getting up from the safety of all fours. Once he was up, he took it slow, measuring his steps, making sure there was was something or someone to grab if things got wonky. He's the same with food, new activities, school, and just about everything else. Especially anything physical - he'll try stuff, but he thinks about it first, analyzing the situation, and occasionally needing encouragement or help if he decides it's not within his reach.

Then there's Bam Bam. He started walking at 10 months — a full 4 months before his older brother. I think he crawled exclusively for about a week. Having mastered that, he was up on his feet, cruising around holding onto whatever he could get his hands on. Not long after that, he let go and went for it — look Ma, no hands! BAM! He'd fall down and bash his head/eye/nose/face/whatever. Short pause to cry, then up again. And while Owen walked slowly at first, Nicholas pretty much just fell forward until his legs couldn't keep up anymore. He was a festival of bruises and scrapes, mostly on his face. I sometimes felt compelled to tell people, "Really, we don't beat him, I swear," but it never took long for them to see for themselves where all those little injuries were coming from. Now, at almost 18 months, he's unstoppable. He runs almost as fast as his 4-year old brother, climbs almost as high, and is within inches of learning to really jump, which scares the shit out of his mother and me. To his credit, he's amazingly strong and sturdy with great balance, so he does fall a lot less than he used to. Or at least, when he does, he falls well, catching himself with his hands, rolling on his shoulder, or plopping on his diaper-padded bottom instead of faceplanting into the concrete, hardwood, or wherever he happens to be. If there's a natural athlete among us, it is Nicholas.

I have visions of who my kids will be later in life, and Bam Bam is so clearly going to be the trouble maker. While Owen stares up at the ball lost on the roof, working out whether there's something he might throw at it or a stick long enough to knock it down, Nicholas will be dragging over the ladder, or whatever's handy to give him enough of a leg up to climb up and get it. Since he's three years younger and bound to be shorter than his brother for a while at least, I can also easily imagine him talking Owen into doing the climbing. "C'mon, dude, it's not that high. I'd totally do it but I can't reach. Dude, you'll be FINE!" This will translate later in their lives to Bam Bam convincing Owen that "Mom and Dad TOTALLY won't mind if we take the car out for just a minute to go pick up girls/get beer/drop in on a friend's party. We'll be back before they even know we're gone. It'll be totally cool."

But we've got a few years until then, I hope. Meanwhile, it's great to watch little Nicholas give his all to keep up with his brother. In addition to being the destructor, Nicholas is also the total clown. Owen's funny in a verbal, occasionally mugging face kinda way. Nicholas is Charlie Chaplin. Well, maybe that's crediting him with more finesse than he currently has. Maybe he's more like a one-man Marx Brothers. He's the total physical comedian, and loves to dance. Let's take it out with a little video of Bam Bam rocking out with Ernie. If Bam Bam doesn't stick, we can always just go with "Trouble." And yes, that's a wine refrigerator in the background. We almost always wait till the kids are asleep to unlock it. Almost always.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

losing the baby weight

{Note: I don't know what's going on with the fonts in this post. Blogger and I are not getting along today. Apologies for the visual weirdness.}

This is kind of an update on a post from mid-October about getting in shape and barefoot/minimalist running. I'm still at it!

Before Owen was born, I was in the best shape of my life. You know those guys who are like, "I was in awesome shape in high school but as I got older things started going downhill." I wasn't one of those guys. I wasn't fat in high school, but I was, uh, soft. I didn't play sports. I did choir and drama and it pretty much showed. But in my early thirties, I got serious about getting in shape. I picked up a copy of Body For Life, started working out 5-6 days a week, eating 6 small balanced meals a day with an emphasis on protein, avoided sweets, gave up soda, and pretty soon I was looking and feeling badass.

Then ... we had a baby.

You've heard this story (or lived through it) before. Sleep became a luxury, food was something shoveled in whenever possible, often whatever the kids didn't finish, and if there was an option for comfort food, you took it. Cookies? Sure. Ice cream? OK. More wine? Yes, please! In addition to the food, I stopped going to the gym. Pretty soon I was back up to the weight I was at before I started working out.

So for the last 4+ years I've wanted to lose my baby weight. Lisa has since been pregnant again and given birth to our second child, but I've been struggling to drop the 15 pounds I added after the first one.

I mentioned in a previous post I've been working with a personal trainer. While that workout is very effective, it requires one to be pretty disciplined about what one eats. Truthfully, so did my 6-day-a-week workout routine. I was eating really well then, so I can't pretend exercise alone EVER did the trick to take and keep weight off. I have to exercise AND eat right if I want to lose weight. Fuck genetics. (Sorry, Mom and Dad).

So after I stopped going to the trainer, I started doing other things. I seem to be at a place in my life where almost every activity involves some sort of gadget. So I picked up a few.

First, I got Wii Fit Plus. This wasn't really planned. My friend and fellow blogger Kim invited me to a yoga party. I wasn't sure what to expect. Or what to wear. But Kim said I would be the "token man." I said I'd be there. Turns out the party was sponsored by Nintendo to let people (mostly bloggers) try their new Wii Fit Plus. [Full disclosure — I got a copy of the game and a Wii Fit board as gift for attending the party. I already had a Wii.] The Wii Fit Plus is Wii Fit, Plus some new stuff. I didn't do all the new stuff, but I did a little yoga and checked out the new games. They're fun and, like most Wii games, challenging but not super hard, a little goofy, and family friendly. The new "My Wii Fit" feature lets you save personalized workouts. They've added the ability to weigh your babies and pets. Cute, but if they think I'm picking up my 90 lb Black Lab to get him on the Wii Fit board with me, they're insane. My favorite of the new games is Wipeout, or whatever they call it. It's basically like that show where people make idiots of themselves going through an obstacle course. You get to do that without actually getting wet or injured or humiliated beyond the spectators in your TV room. Good times.

But if you want to do serious exercise, the Wii only goes so far. It doesn't really qualify as what I consider a vigorous workout, especially compared to what I did in my trainer's gym for the last year, which felt as close to weekly childbirth as I ever want to get.

So next I got a free iPhone app called "Lose It!" It lets you log everything you eat and any exercise you do. You tell it what you weigh, what you want to weigh, and how fast you want to lose it. It tells you how many calories you can eat daily. Everything you log is tracked against that goal. I've found logging what I eat to be the single best way to eat better. When I have to write it down, I think before I stick something in my mouth. Food. I'm talking about food. But come to think of it, if I have to write it down, it might work for other stuff, too. I've been using Lose It for about a week, and I give it a thumbs up.

After that, I got this:

When I broke up with my trainer (I hope it's a temporary separation), he kindly gave me a home version of his workout to try and help me stay in some sort of shape. It requires almost no equipment. The problem is it doesn't really have a good exercise for the large muscles of your back. The Iron Gym Xtreme takes care of that. It's a fancy chin-up bar you stick in a doorway. No hardware required to attach it, and it'll hold like 300 lbs. Thankfully I'm a few stones shy of THAT number.

Finally, I'm doing the thing I said I'd NEVER do: running. On purpose. And kinda far. For me, anyway. I've mostly run in my Vibram Fivefingers, and once totally barefoot. It's fun. Despite being one of the lowest tech activities one could do, running has still resulted in acquisition of several gadgets. I got another iPhone app to track my runs – a fancy pedometer called iTreadmill. I also started logging my runs on Dailymile.com. It's a social media site for runners and athletes. It's cool. If you use it, friend me. I'm even considering signing up for a race or two. I'm not ready to start training for a marathon yet, but for the first time in my life the idea of doing that at some point doesn't strike me as completely insane.

And for the last gadget, because I am a dad, after all, I got this baby:
The BOB Ironman Sport Utility Jogging Stroller. I got mine on Craig's List, so gratefully I paid slightly less than the crazy money they want for one of these things new. Still, for a cheap hobby, running is starting to get expensive. It's a cool chariot for the little dude, though. Nicholas has been out with me a couple times and he loves waving at the other runners (especially the ones with dogs), chatting, and kicking his feet.

The quest for a fitter me continues. I've also started singing more again, but this post is already way past too long, so that'll have to wait for another day.

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