Monday, March 28, 2016

Mama Is On a Diet – Again!

          When Ebola came to the United States, we panicked.  Now the Zika virus has us running indoors in fear of mosquitoes, yet we are blasé about our worst epidemic.
          According to our total BMI, the US is the 9th fattest country on Earth at 74.1%. That’s a lot of overweight people considering we outnumber the other eight fattest nations since they are mostly small islands in the eastern Pacific Ocean. We also outweigh the total number of underfed and starving people in the world. Since three out of every four Americans weigh in over their optimal weight, the CDC has declared obesity an epidemic in the United States.  
And I am one of those three.
This epidemic leads to premature death in this country, but instead of fighting this epidemic and changing our ways, we force the world to accept us as we are. Wheelchairs, caskets and graves, and gurneys are now larger to accommodate heavier clients.  Ambulances come equipped with winches to lift and lower patients, and grocery stores have had to double and triple the number of electric carts they keep for customer use.      
I have always hated being a statistic, yet here I am.
What makes us fat?
          Genetics is to blame, but even great metabolism does not ensure good nutrition.  
We eat our weight in fats and simple carbs every year. An overload of fats and simple carbohydrates leads to a higher daily caloric intake than we need for nutrition and energy, and any one calorie over what the body needs becomes body fat.
A sedentary lifestyle uses fewer calories, and the fewer calories we burn, the more fat we store.
So . . . yes, I am on a weight loss diet again. My genetics demand it. I am eating less simple carbohydrates and more complex carbs – whole grains and vegetables and fruits.  I am eating less fats and watching my caloric intake.  I am moving more, trying for 10,000 steps a day.  I eat a child’s portion of food when I dine out since that is closer to the caloric intake I should be eating.
And instead of purchasing and investing in gimmicks, I am teaching myself to do it with real foods and not with packaged meals or drinks.   
Yes, it’s a struggle.  If I didn’t try, I would be in a lot worse health than I am today. Abundance and convenience has made us a fat country, but as I learn the latest nutritional science, I also realize the onus is on us to learn how to control our appetite. Yes, we can eat out, just not every day.  Yes, we can have a doughnut, just not the whole dozen.

So Mama is on a diet again.  Her quality of life depends on it. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Happy Easter

Years ago I belonged to a parish church that was among the first in our community to enact a “passion play.” It covered Jesus’ life from his arrest on Thursday night, his death on Friday, and his Resurrection on Sunday morning. The props and special effects were engineering feats, the makeup and costumes amazing, but it was the SRO attendance at the one enactment on Good Friday that proved our church had attempted something special.

The first year I played in the “the angry mob.”  I really wanted a speaking role, but the deacons and their wives had already taken all of those. I just had to do the best I could with what I had been assigned.

The deacon playing Jesus led the way up and down the church aisles carrying a cross. Roman soldiers accompanied him.  Behind them walked John and the two Marys.  The Angry Mob (about a dozen of us) brought up the rear, jeering and calling for Jesus’s death.  

I knew I had nailed my performance when a furious preschooler lunged at me from one of the pews. (He was so angry that his mama had to physically hold him back from kicking me in the shins.) Our debut was a success. 

The next two years I tried out for Mary, Jesus’s Mother, but was assigned the role of Mary Magdalene (No, it was not typecasting!). I steered a bawling Holy Mother up and down the church aisles while she stumbled and wailed overcome with her grief. 

I remember exactly when I blew my chance at ever playing Mary. At the audition I told the head deacon/director and the church pastor/producer (both men) that the Mother of God would hold her head high, not out of pride but because like her son, she too embodied courage. If she were to cry, it would be for the immensity of the sins of mankind. She knew restitution for them required her precious son’s life. She would save her tears for the end, when she held his dead body in her arms.

Courage is not pompous or selfish.  It does not come with special effects, costumes, and overacting.  It comes from deep inside, a rare trait.

I’m sure that church play touched many, both actor and audience, but very few reacted with courage. Most just watched and cried, horrified by it all. 

This is dedicated to the one Child who dared to take on the angry mob.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Raising Kids

I had a strict, Hispanic, Roman Catholic upbringing.  Family came before anyone or anything. Discipline was doled out on a generous, per diem basis, and the status quo was non-negotiable.  It was more like static quo.
I loved (and survived) my upbringing but I decided when I had children I would to do it differently. 
I was still strict, Hispanic, and Roman Catholic, and no one or nothing came before my three children, but I wanted to raise them with less external physical force and more internal self discipline.  They kept me on my toes and I was constantly coming up with rules that were both fair and just. Yes, I did spank them but not as much as they remember (and love to tell the grandkids).  There were a lot of “time outs,” “go to your room,” and the good old standby – groundings.
I took advantage of those many moments when we “liked” each other and were getting along instead of butting heads, rolling eyes, and losing our tempers. I used those moments to discuss, listen, compromise, and come to agreeable solutions.
At the end of my tenure, I wanted them to be strong, independent, and responsible adults.  I wanted to raise kind and compassionate human beings, and I wanted to know that when I was no longer around, they could cope with life on their own.
When we all reached adulthood, I wanted to like them as much as I loved them.


Monday, March 7, 2016

At Grandma’s House

          There’s a high chair by the trestle table and children’s plastic Christmas plates in the kitchen cupboard.  One toddler cup lost its sippy lid years ago and an “emergency bottle” sits next to the special dishes in the china cabinet.
An apartment-sized crib keeps the two boxes of rescued toys in the back room company, and Veggie Tales and Charlie Brown DVDs outnumber the TMC or Downton Abbey collection in the living room.  Stuffed toys abound ready to keep little people company during a nap, and a rocking horse that’s been in the family for two generations longs for a rider.
The “linen” closet stores a junior-sized inflatable bed, and toothbrushes wait for overnight visitors in the bathroom.  The medicine cabinet hides baby safe meds, tiny nail clippers, and cartoon bandages and thermometers of every type. Night lights lead the way to safety, bathroom, and grownups in the dark. 
Another closet hides (though it isn’t much of a secret) the play guns.  They don’t shoot bullets that could “accidentally” hit little brothers or Grandma’s knickknacks, but they are still fun, making lots of annoying noise instead.    
A wooden, miniature play kitchen sits in the space between the sit-in kitchen and the dining room.  Inside it holds everything a young chef might need to create a delicious, plastic feast, while Grandma’s kitchen stores the real stuff - frozen mac and cheese, white (wheat) bread, lemonade mix, and chocolate ice cream.  She also keeps strawberries, applesauce, and broccoli in case little people come to visit.
Grandpa’s office safekeeps books and games and construction sets.  Two giant jugs of magic bubble juice sit waiting in case anyone, big or little, feels the need to run around outside being silly. The back patio makes the perfect race track for the recycled old trike and the scooter no one else wanted, and there is a big, red wagon and a portable sand box waiting for sunny days.
At Grandma’s house, everyone young and old is welcomed to come over