Fashion

Is working out more one of your 2010 resolutions? Okay, isn’t it everybody’s??? In my experience, after decades of making Jan. 1 working-out resolutions, one of the best ways to ensure keeping this promise is to look fantastic while you’re doing it. I’m serious — there’s a world of difference between working out in baggy and holey sweats and your oversized 1995 R.E.M. Monster Tour T-shirt and working out in a new sleek and chic outfit made out of fabric that’s smarter than you are. If you haven’t checked out what’s new in workout wear, Google it or go to your favorite store and be prepared to be amazed. Still confused? Check out my Fashionably Speaking column in the quarterly magazine Shoals Woman at http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20091230/SW/912299978/1085/SW for a rundown of what to wear where and when, workout-wise.  (And remember: It’s all in good fun because I really don’t know what I’m talking about — I personally choose the sweats and he Monster Tour T-shirt, every time.)

Family

Backyard poolIs there anything better on a hot summer day than Capt. Adorablecooling off in your backyard pool? Especially when the pool is a family heirloom? My mom had this inflatable pool at her house more than 20 years ago for her granddaughters and now her great-grandson thinks it’s the best thing ever. Honestly, I didn’t remember the pool, but my mom kept saying, “I have the pool the girls played in and it would be perfect for Capt. Adorable.”  And she was right! It fits just exactly on the patio, which is in the afternoon shade, and 17-months-old Capt. Adorable and his mommy get out and have fun in it almost every day (although that’s the Captain’s aunt in the photo). Say the word “pool” and the Captain’s at the patio door, ready to go. It took him awhile, but now he’s fully conversant in the arts of splashing, pouring and dumping cupfuls of water on anyone brave enough to get close.

Gardens

GardensHerb vinegarMy friend Polly has one of the most beautiful home gardens I’ve ever seen. She’s a retired teacher, and most of the work she’s done in these photos has been in the past three years. Can we say “incredible energy?” She and her husband travel around the world, but I think I would just park myself in the backyard if mine looked like this. I especially love her Yard artzen approach to gardening: It’s organized, but not formal or structured — the plants, flowers, herbs and vegetables just sort of spill out in exuberant joy. And she’s got such whimsical touches Gardeningeverywhere: Birdhouses, sculptures, yard art, chairs, gates, fences, stepping stones, arches. It’s a treasure everywhere you look. Polly and her husband live within the city limits of Florence, Alabama, but with the deer grazing in the front yard and the creek dancing over on the side and the abundant shade trees cooling everything off, you feel as if you’re at a wonderfully isolated woman-made Eden — yet bustling civilization is just at the end of the driveway. To my mother’s eternal frustration, I remain ignorant of all Wheelbarrowsthings gardening. I mean, I can tell a rose from a daisy (that’s the yellow and white one, right?) but that’s about it. Yet even a non-garden person like me can recognize and appreciate a green paradise such as Polly’s garden. I’m just glad there are folks like her in the world who know what they’re doing with seeds and dirt so folks like me can enjoy.

Gold Medals

Capt. AdorableCapt. AdorableMichael Phelps, are you ready for the next generation of gold-medal winners? My grandson, Capt. Adorable, has started his own collection with this gold medal he won from an unanimous panel of awestruck judges got at the end of spring classes at Baby Gym. He probably is the most skilled and talented baby ever — ever! — to go Capt. Adorablethrough Baby Gym. That’s what I think, anyway. His skills at running under the parachute, playing with bubbles and refusing to give up the blue ball already are legendary. And these medals sure do come in handy — they also double as a snack. So convenient! But sometimes, you know, you just need to lay down on the mat and take a break from all the excitement and fan admiration.

Kids

Little GymSince I’m hanging out here on my daughter’s desktop while my beloved laptop is in Computer Hospital (but we’re expecting a full and quick recovery), I started thinking about all the things young families such as my daughter and son-in-law — parents to grandson Capt. Adorable — have that we didn’t have 25 years or so ago. Like Little Gym. Does everybody else know about this place? It’s my new favorite spot. Little Gym is a franchised gym for all ages children. Capt. Adorable (above on the left) goes to the Birds class for 10 to 19 month-olds. He loves it! The children run around exploring and also do “group” activities as well as a bunch of around 1-year-olds can. It’s also great for my daughter to meet other young moms, and the instructors are so fun and enthusiastic. Even 51-year-old grandmas are welcome, although when our instructor was explaining how to do a backwards whoop-dee-doop with our little Birds, I’m pretty sure she looked at me when she said, “And if for some reason your back won’t take this, don’t worry about trying it.” I think she envisioned having a medical emergency right there on the red mat, but I can whoop-dee-doop with folks half my age. So there. Check out Little Gym at http://thelittlegym.com

 

Snack TrapI’m also loving these Snack Traps that keep No-spill sippy cupssnacks in securely and lets babies reach in and get what they want without muss or fuss. Capt. Adorable carries one everywhere — so much better than the sandwich bags and empty margarine tubs I used for his mommy. And then there are these incredibly no-spill cups by Gerber. I’ve seen these thrown, dropped, tilted, turned upside down and rolled around in purses and diaper bags without a single drop. Amazing! When I think of all the spillage and dribbles and puddles my two left behind, this advancement seems nothing short of miraculous. I never tire of pointing out to my daughter how good she has it now. “Back when you were a baby, I had to …” I’m sure she appreciates me sharing.

Family and Friends

One of my new favorite things is taking my almost 1-year-old grandson, Capt. Adorable, to the playground. He’s … well, adorable! Because he’s an early walker, he’s so much smaller than everybody else running around — it’s like his coordination hasn’t caught up yet with his little toddlin’ legs. He mainly stands and solemnly observes with that precious forehead crinkled in deep baby thought. You can just see him processing what he sees and thinking, “Oh, so you’re supposed to go up here and go down there. And move over when somebody else wants a turn. I get it!” He knows and loves the things he can reach — these chiming bells, a giant tic-tac-toe game of revolving x’s and o’s and the baby-sized swings and slides — and seems quite amused at this alien concept of sharing.

Michelle Obama

Michelle ObamaI think it’s sort of quaint and refreshing that some people are worried about Michelle ObamaMichelle Obama showing her — gasp! — bare arms. I mean, this is 2009, when celebrities walk around in not much at all and steamy makeout sessions light up primetime TV. I had thought that half-naked-and-falling-out-of-your-clothes was the accepted standard for high-profile dressing, but apparently the bar is much higher. It renews my faith in the morality police that folks are raising eyebrows and shaking heads and tsk-tsking Obama for … being a grownup and choosing to wear what she wants to wear. I know, I know — the criticism is that sleeveless is completely inappropriate for Washington, D.C. winters so that perhaps she’s simply going sleeveless to show off her beautifully fit physique. And to that I say, “Yes? So what’s the problem? Good for her!” Listen, who among us would cover up if we had arms like that? Not me, that’s for sure. I think the real question is why this issue bothers some people. Seems to me that Michelle Obama is bringing dignity and respect and vitality and strength to her position as First Lady — and probably an increase in the sales of handweights, exercise DVDs and gym memberships across the country. Economic stimulus, baby!!!

For a great roundup of links and articles about Obama’s arms, go to the blogher.com post http://www.blogher.com/michelle-obama-and-positive-influence-arm-lust

Bottled Water

dasani_strawberry2Am I the only person who cannot find Dasani flavored water in the non-lemon flavors anywhere lg_dasani_grape1anymore? All I can find anywhere — and I mean anywhere, any place, any time — are the plain and the lemon flavors. Not good. The grape, strawberry and raspberry Dasani flavors are favorites in my house. I know, I know. It’s all really local tap water. And plastic bottles are clogging up the earth. But my husband and I drink more water when we chug the Dasani — plain tap water tastes like blood to me ever since I had oral surgery and I only use the powdered flavor mixes as emergency backup because I’m not wild about them either — and we religiously recycle the bottles. So that makes us feel a little better.

But apparently I’m out of luck. My husband and I occasionally stumble across a rogue single bottle at a stop-and-rob but no local groceries have the six packs I buy four or five at a time. What’s the deal? Am I just constantly showing up behind other Dasani fans who beat me to it? Is there some sort of sinister Dasani shortage going on? Or am I imagining the whole thing? I abhor the taste of Nestle water, I’m suspicious that Propel has more than 25 calories a bottle and I don’t like water that tells me what to do: “Revive” “Energize.” “Focus.” Forget it. I like my water to remain quiet, thank you very much. That leaves me with Aquafina, which is only so-so.

Dasani, what’s up? Can you give us some strawberry love down here in Alabama? That would be very nice.

Fashion

anthropolgie-2After yesterday’s inaugural, everyone seems ready for the new and sweaterthe fresh. And what place is more fun to start that in your closet? I know, I know — we’re still paying off winter’s bills and there’s plenty of cold and blustery weather to come, but at www.anthropologie.com, spring has sprung. I especially love the “Winter’s Building Blocks — From the Ground Up” feature at the Web site, which details several wear now/wear later outfits with a cute sort of architecture theme. This pretty cardigan paired with a luscious sherbert-colored blouse and neutral skirt looks very Michelle Obama to me.

Fitness and Exercise

total-body-toner-dvdI’m not a runner (it hurts!), walking gets boring and I’m too lazy to drive somewhere to exercise. But I enjoy working out — I do, really — so thank goodness for exercise DVDs. I like the flexibility of working out at home on my own schedule. Plus, I can pause the action whenever I need a break instead of getting the evil eye from the instructor, although this probably has more to do with my dislike for being told what to do and when to do it than anything else. And it’s always easier to find an excuse not to get in the car and drive somewhere than it is to pop in a DVD — I’m more likely to take 30 minutes to work out in front of the TV than I am to gather my stuff together, figure out what other errands I need to run, get in the car, drive to the Y, talk to people, work out, talk to people, gather my stuff together, try to remember what other errands I need to run, get in the car, etc.  And I love variety! Classes usually are the same every time. With DVDs, you can dance the salsa one day, do Pilates the next and lift weights the next day — whatever you feel like. Keeps things interesting. Some of my favorite DVDs are from The Firm — they generally combine cardio with weights for an overall invigorating workout. Back in the late 1990s, this approach was revolutionary and The Firm’s first videos were so expensive — about $50, I think —  several friends and I bought one together to share it. The sets were a lush sort of Grecian spa with an orchestra soundtrack. Then The Firm went through some business changes and the next round of videos were spliced-together clips of previous tapes along with a few somewhat scarily Stepford wife-ish new ones that apparently didn’t sell well. Today The Firm has a winning combination with enthusiastic instructors, lively music, modern sets and good solid routines. Some tapes have a few glitches — instructors off beat, music not matching movement — and The Firm has an annoying habit of always coming out with The Next Big Thing You Absolutely Have to Have, but for fun workouts that do the job, these DVDs get it right. Visit The Firm’s Web site at http://www.firmdirect.com. You can also check http://www.amazon.com/ and http://www.collagevideo.com/ for reviews of Firm videos.