February-that short-yet-fiesty (and perhaps a few other choice "f" words...like "frigid"...what did you think I meant?) Winter month--is preparing to leave us, and we wish it a swift farewell (pause for me to kick it in the...butt...as it goes out the door). I always harbor these heartfelt hopes that the very act of flipping the calendar page to March will magically cause Spring to arive also. (Sadly, these desires usually go profoundly unfulfilled. But one can continue to cross one's fingers, squeeze one's eyes shut, and murmur fervent prayers to the fickle Weather Gods...who seem to view the year's third month as an absolutely smashing time to play meteorological practical jokes on us, in the form of gusty winds, freezing temps, and sometimes even an errant late-season snowstorm. Such bad behavior--if I were Mother Nature, March would be grounded until they cleaned up their act! But I reallllyyyy digress...)
When the weather outside is frightful, what's an active family to do? Well, each of us has had to fill the extended indoor time with some novel entertainment and exercise options. I've already mentioned the Nerf-basketball-dunking in which my sons engage. On other occasions they'll use the basement to throw a soft stuffed football around, running plays and calling a simulated game. Both Husband and I utilize the Schwinn stationary bike and hand weights for downstairs workouts when we'd rather avoid the elements (and as a bonus: watch TV while sweating). All of us do a tremendous amount of reading--although Riley might hold the record for thousands of pages finished this Winter (that is, if we'd been counting...which we totally should have...rats! Oh well, there's always next year, right?) Riley has also revisited his Legos, spending many quiet hours in his room constructing, demolishing, and restructuring the various vehicles and buildings in his miniature world.
Then there are the new sports that have been added to our activity resume. For Derek, this means indoor soccer, which he's playing with a whole big group of his Fall/Spring teammates at a nearby arena. When his coach told us he wanted to register for the league, we all thought it sounded like a fabulous idea--hone your skills and enjoy some aerobic conditioning while spending quality time with your pals, right? Yeah, that was the "vision". In reality, it's been more like an adolescent version of...Boot Camp. (Ha!) Most of the other teams, besides looking very much like full-grown men, appear to have been playing the indoor game together since, oh, let's say...pre-school...or so. Thus Derek's squad routinely suffers a butt-kicking (ha! I can't help myself today...) Oh, let's not forget: all the while running sprints and getting shoved into the walls a la the NHL. However...over the past few weeks we parents sympathetically sitting by on the sidelines have noted some definite improvement (that is, except when a kid gets slammed into the plexiglass directly in front of us; then we're covering our eyes and cringing). If nothing else, our guys will benefit from the cardiovascular training...and the "toughening up" from having to hold your ground against the shoulder-checking of some giant boy-men. (Side note: it does lead to rather creative parental cheering--"Way to go, honey! Nice job not getting crushed by that...guy who needs a shave!")
Finally, there's my new pursuit: Jazz dance. I joined a lovely group of ladies in October for a one-hour weekly class, and we've been stretching, strengthening, and working on our routine (for the Showcase in June--but that's a whole other story) ever since. Now, my background includes tap and ballet as a child, and adult ballet and hip-hop. Suddenly I had to learn unfamiliar vocabulary like chaines, soutenu, and pas de bourre...and also teach my body to actually DO those things. But you know how the experts say one of the best ways to slow down the aging process is to continue to challenge yourself mentally and physically throughout life? Well, this totally fits the bill. So, that's all very good advice...but how much fun is it? Oh. My. Goodness. One of the best hours of my entire week. Because we're going to be "performing" on stage in a few months, some of my classmates had the brilliant idea to tack on an additional practice period once in a while, so everyone could cement the steps more firmly in both mind and muscle-memory. One of the women jokingly told her husband she had to attend "Remedial Dance"...but as far as I'm concerned, it's Extra Awesome!
Yes, we're all completely ready for warm air and more daylight in the afternoon hours. (10 days...and counting! Yippeeee!) But I'm happy to report that we haven't been sitting around on the sofa, eating chips, staring at the tube, and getting squishy in the cold months. We've stayed busy, kept the whining to a minimum, and generally behaved ourselves...can we have Spring now as our reward????