The Yearly Weight-Loss Allotment

So far I really like 2013.  Not that I have done anything really exciting for the whole three days.  I did have lunch with my friend Barbara today, that was fun, but here are the other things I have done in 2013:


Still cleaning out closets and four rooms so we can rearrange where Carter lives and Russ works in our house.  That has been the majority of time.  I was very thankful that the trash and recycling got picked up yesterday and I have already refilled them.


I have done six loads of laundry.


I helped Russ get his office ready for a big meeting he has today and tomorrow.  I baked carrot muffins and make fruit platters.  I shopped for drinks, new dishes and coffee makers.  I organized the lunch they served today, met the caterers and enlisted the wonderful help of Cliff to run get the ice I forgot.


I cleaned the rugs where Shay-shay got sick.


I drove Carter to Dover Saddlery to spend her Christmas gift cards.


I cooked, cleaned, emptied the dishwasher, needle pointed, paid bills, and went to Costco.


Why the hell do I like 2013 so much?  I got on the scale this morning and I was one pound below by low weight of 2012.  Not only was I one pound below my low I was four pounds below my Christmas day weight.  After losing 53 pounds in a little less than six months I had only lost 3 in the months of November and December combined.  I really did not change my eating in those months, save three days that I gave myself to celebrate.  But I just was not losing.  Sad, sad.


But come a new year and I am dropping weight again.  I think that maybe there is some cosmic thing that says you are only allowed to lose so much weight in any given calendar year, and it gets to be a smaller number every year.  I think that my number was 56 pounds and once I lost that much I was capped.


As soon as the year turned it has started coming off again.  Hooray for a new year.  Even if my new number is five pounds less than last year I am fine because I don’t want to lose that much weight this year because I would still actually like to be alive.


I am setting a new public goal of losing eleven pounds by Spring Break, the second week of March.  I do much better if I do something publically and declarative.  So there it is.  My trainer Tom told me I better do a ton of cardio to reach that goal.  Good thing I have at least 68 trips to the attic planned for the next three days.  I am thinking of taking up wood chopping just for the exercise.  I hope that 2013 continues on this positive, or in my case, negative path.

Mourning the Loss of Home Economics

I am what I would call the sandwich generation in the world of middle school home economics.  Old enough that I was required to take cooking and sewing in junior high school, as it was called back then, but young enough that I also had to take wood and metal shop since women’s lib was just taking hold.

Just as Billy Jean King was kicking Bobby Riggs butt all over the tennis court (Google it if you are too young to know what that means), my school system changed its requirements for seventh grade boys and girls to take all the disciplines of Home-Ec together.

I don’t know exactly how long that lasted since no one takes any Home-Ec anymore, but it was Camelot for a time with both sexes having to learn how to care for themselves and their future homes.  One quarter of the year a class of 12 boys and 12 girls would take cooking where we learned the most basic skills of following a recipe and how to properly measure and pre-heat.  I vividly remember making a refrigerator biscuit pizza that I was appalled at, but I guess it was something we could make, eat and clean up from in 40 minutes.

The next quarter we moved on to sewing where the befuddled sewing instructor had to change the curriculum from learning how to make aprons to something more unisex.  T-shirts was her choice, which was a huge failure because teaching kids who have no idea how to use a sewing machine to first sew stretchy material was a bear of a task.  I never saw one kid ever wear the shirt they made in class, but it gave everyone great knowledge of how to thread the machine since we never had the tension right to sew knits.

The third quarter brought some relief to the boys as we moved into metal shop.  We made some kind of colonial looking candleholders, which involved cutting sheet metal, bending, and soldering.   The boys were greatly disappointed that the xy chromosomes gave them no real advantage in metal shop.  It was much more like sewing than they had anticipated, having to follow a pattern and prescribed steps.

The last quarter was the wood shop where we made either a cutting board or a cookbook stand.  I still remember Mike Martin complaining that we were only making things for girls and asking why we could not make something useful like a bat.

Somewhere along the year we learned how to balance a checkbook and make a budget for a home.  What a great year of useful learning.  I bring all this up not to wax nostalgic, but I fear that we have whole generations who only know how to microwave food and throw out perfectly good clothes because they had a button fall off.  I am less worried that we don’t have enough wood cutting boards since they are harbingers of salmonella bacteria, but learning to budget a household income would still be useful.

Without Home-Ec some people never learn how to cook for themselves and live lives of frozen meals and take-out food.  Not that knowing how to cook kept me from getting fat, but I certainly could not lose weight if I did not know how to cook.

Perhaps we have a subset of kids who are homeschooled and are getting lots of Home-Ec, but what about the rest of our children?  I think that I should start a campaign for a new adolescent reality show called “Can you manage a household?”  Kids who don’t know what to do with dried beans and uncooked rice would get voted off first.

If you have kids, teach them how to cook something from scratch this week and if you are a kid ask your parents if you could go to the grocery store with them and learn how much it costs to feed your family.  The one thing I don’t suggest is making your own t-shirts, but an apron is useful for both boys and girls.

Cooking As Sport

As I child I was never very good at sports.  I swam on the club swim team and could ice skate on our pond, but other than that I did not participate in any organized teams.  It just was not the thing to do in the late 60’s and early 70’s.  The thought of my mother driving me to an after school activity or worse yet, watching a game where I sat on the bench was just unheard of, which was really too bad since my mother loves to watch sports


The good news was my youngest sister Janet was a real jock and by the time she came along my mother had more time to take her hither and yon to tennis, basketball and skiing.  It was also more satisfying for my mother because Janet was a superior athlete to watch with pride.


I was born about 30 years too soon because now a days cooking has become competitive.  Think about how many TV show there are with cooking competitions on them, Chopped, Top Chef, Cupcake Wars, Iron Chef, The Next Food Network Star and on and on.  When one of these shows is on in our kitchen my daughter often says, “Mom, you should be on that show.”  What nirvana that is for a mother to hear from her 13 year old.


Cooking has become akin to a sport.  Chefs are almost super heroes.  Bobby Flay is today’s Joe Namath.  The best thing is that to be a great cook you do not have to be born with any particular genetic advantage.  Being tall or strong does not help you produce a better soufflé.


The best part about being a good cook is it is the one skill you will use everyday of your whole life.  Before I was married my friends used to say that whomever I married was going to be very lucky because I could cook.  Amazingly enough my husband asked me to marry him before I ever cooked him a single meal.  In fact he proposed in the parking lot of the ACME supermarket as we were going in to buy groceries for dinner.


Although it was not the most traditional place to be proposed to, it was probably the most appropriate for me and he did not even know it.  I can report that after I said yes, I asked him if we should at least tell the produce manager in the hopes of getting a celebratory free tomato.


So if you are not a great sportsman, nor a great cook, just wait a few years.  Something new will emerge as the next competitive activity.  For all you great laundry folders, your day is coming.