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Category Archives: Family

A snowboarding primer for skiers

I’ve been skiing for about 20 years so I consider myself a pretty decent skier. I usually eat blue slopes for breakfast and occasionally shred some black diamonds with moguls. So when our 10-year-old son begged us to take him snowboarding this year, I figured it would be an easy transition.

Boy, was I wrong!

The first thing you need to know is that snowboarding and skiing are two totally different things. The muscles are different. The technique is different. About the only similarity is that you’re sliding down a snow-covered mountain. Where skiing is about coordination and rhythm, snowboarding is all balance and footwork. Snowboarding is to skiing what rugby is to touch football.

And here’s the proof, a quick video of our first snowboarding trip…

So if you’re an experienced skier interested in making the leap to a board, let me break it down for you…

Equipment
Boots: Ski boots are extremely rigid, hard plastic shoes that transfer every subtle movement to the ski. Snowboard boots are more flexible shoes that lace up like heavy duty mountain hiking boots. Ski boots are storm troopers to snowboard boots’ Michelin man. Advantage: Snowboarding.

Bindings: Skis are designed to have your boots snap into place, and release when you twist or fall. Snowboards require your feet to be strapped in without releasing upon wipeouts. It’s a somewhat awkward movement to have your lead foot strapped in while your back foot is loose. This is necessary when getting on and off the lifts and for moving along flat landings. In addition, on skis, you exit the chair lift and immediately start down the hill. Snowboarding requires you to literally sit on the snow to strap your other foot to the board after the lift. Every time. Advantage: Skiing.

Boards/Skis: Obviously skiing uses two skis and two poles, which makes carrying and walking in those boots really challenging. Skis are also heavier than snowboards. Carrying a snowboard is easily done by holding the flat side next to your body and grabbing the board right under the top binding. Advantage: Snowboarding.

Technique
Downhill: The act of skiing involves basically aiming your feet in parallel, and turning in in a big ‘S’ pattern. As you get more advanced you can point straight down and grab your edges into the snow to slow down. It’s closer to standing and leaning, while you traverse the mountain. Because both feet are on a single board in snowboarding, the same method doesn’t translate. Instead, balance is the whole thing. You either lift your toes to dig your heels into the snow, or lift your heels to slow and turn, depending on which way you’re facing. But dig too deeply either way and you’re going down hard. Advantage: Skiing.

Lifts: As I mentioned, snowboarding is tougher to get on chair lifts, because you have to unstrap your back foot and slide into place. At the top, you still have only one foot in, so you have to get off the lift and get yourself out of the way before finding a place to sit and strap the other foot. In skiing it can sometimes be difficult to move yourself into position for the lift, but not having to adjust or unstrap every time, makes it more efficient. Advantage: Skiing.

Overall
Most skiers I talked to said they had a rough time trying to snowboard, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will. Both sports are fun and have their pros and cons. Overall, it just depends what you want to do and what you enjoy. Just know that ability in one doesn’t automatically translate to the other. Advantage: You decide!

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Posted by on February 5, 2012 in Family, Thoughts, Travel

 

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6 ways to stay positive in any situation

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I saw this blog post the other day and thought it had a nice sentiment on how to stay positive even when things are down. If you don’t want to click over, here’s what it said…

The power of remaining positive, whatever the situation, can never be underestimated. We are all here for a limited period of time, is it worth it to spend any of that time in a dismal mood? Being negative?

The true test of an individual to remain positive is when challenges become difficult. Remaining positive keeps one’s mind in the right state of balance and often opens resolutions to the problems at hand. Negativity is contagious; not only does it affect the individual, but it spreads to anyone they interact with. When only the negative perspective is in focus, the resolution process is impeded.

Eliminating negativity, or rather, being positive is a mindset that can be found at any moment, and turned into a habit. Here are some tips that can help you in shifting your mindset:

1. Shift Your Thoughts – Be conscious of your thoughts. Especially, when life just isn’t going your way. The moment you see that you are diving into frustration, agony, sorrow and low self-esteem – shift your thoughts, by thinking about something completely unrelated. This breaks the pattern of self-pity, mind-created stories, and negative downward spiral. What makes us different from other mammals is our ability to control our thoughts and think for ourselves.

2. Find the Lesson – There is a lesson to be learned from every situation. No matter how unfortunate the situation may appear, recognize the beautiful lessons waiting to be discovered. Sometimes lessons are expensive, but every problem is a learning opportunity in disguise. You may have made a mistake, but now you can accept it and continue, knowing that you will make a different decision in the future. Understand this and be appreciative for the experience.

3. Attitude of Gratitude – You cannot be both angry and grateful at the same time. Start counting the blessings and miracles in your life, start looking for them and you shall find more. What’s there not to be grateful? You are alive and breathing! Realize how lucky you are and all the abundance in your life.

4. Positive Affirmations & Visualization – Practice seeing yourself in a positive and confident light. Do this whenever you have a few minutes (examples; Waiting for a friend, sitting on the bus, riding an elevator.) Self-affirmations (list of positive statements about yourself and your self image) are another simple and powerful tool to train your subconscious to see yourself in a positive light. This is important, as many of us can be so hard on ourselves though social conditioning. I am guilty of being extra tough on myself, but have learned over time to recognize my gifts rather than finding false and self-imposed inadequacies.

5. Inventory of Memories – Keep an inventory of memories that can immediately make you smile. Occasions where you felt happy, appreciative and cheerful. When you were at peace with the world.

Whenever you are in a negative frame of mind, consciously and deliberately pick up any leaf out of this inventory and dwell on it. Reminiscing those happy moments gives a balanced perspective to your situation. You realize that what appears negative today will change tomorrow. Nothing stays the same.

6. Criticizing Detox Diet – Change your approach and attitude. See if you can stop criticizing others and situations. Our cultural conditioning teaches us to find flaws and problems at all times. Shift from fault-finding to appreciation-finding.

Whether you are positive or negative, the situation does not change. So, we mind as well be positive.

As with any habit, the habit of remaining positive in all situations takes practice and a commitment to yourself to take control. But start small, start paying attention to your emotions, start by wanting to change. I am working on this constantly, and I am here with you, working towards better understanding of my emotions and becoming a better person. Keep going at it, and you will gradually become a positive energy source for the others around you! Wouldn’t that be empowering?

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Family, Random, Thoughts, Work

 

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Does your camera enhance or interfere with life?

Babies are cute. There’s no doubt about it. And with the integration of multimedia tools in everyday technology (read: iPhone) it’s easier than ever to spend your time documenting this cuteness, instead of living in it.

A friend of mine recently wrote:

“It’s very cool that we can capture photos and video via mobile on the fly–no more missing those little moments. At the same time, I can’t help feeling it turns us into voyeurs in our own lives, more intent on capturing the moment than being in it.”

And so that got me thinking – this need to capture every moment and post every photo and tag and check in – does it get in the way of life, or does it enhance life?

Over the holidays, I captured this video of our precious little twin babies and posted it to YouTube. Yes, it’s cute and yes, they’re adorable – but unless you’re in my will, you probably don’t care. Go ahead, have a look. But I’m just warning you now, it’s 2 minutes of babies on their tummies, cooing, and trying to roll over.

For me, there is a certain pressure and obligation to document enough of these “moments” not only for posterity, but to share with family members not in attendance. We recently even harnessed technology to live videocast a private event for my son to his godfather who lives in another state.

It used to be that families would get together over the holidays, sit around and watch the old Super 8 silent family films as they flickered across the white dining room wall. Nowadays, you can stream your turkey dinners live to faraway places. So it’s a battle between being in the moment and capturing it in a way that doesn’t interfere with it (the Hawthorne effect, from my psychology days).

Does anyone else encounter this issue?  What ways do you have to strike the right balance?

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2012 in Family, Random, Thoughts

 

Read my lips: No new boxes

Despite over-filling the massive city-issued recycling can every week, and sending just as much to the land fill, we have a lot of stuff. Stuff in the living room. Stuff in the bedrooms. And especially stuff in the garage. I’m not bragging. Actually, it’s obscene. It’s embarrassing. I’m pretty sure we could feed and clothe a few third world countries with the stuff that we have sitting around.

And I’m not sure where stuff comes from. Does it multiply like a bad virus? Come out of the woodwork? Or simply a bi-product of our lifelong hoarding habit?

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It's not quite this bad. But almost.

Wherever it comes from, I’m laying down the law for the new year with a new rule in the Brody household…

NO NEW BOXES!

What does that mean? Well, I’m thinking inside the box. By enforcing a zero-sum box game.

In other words, for every box that comes into this house, the same box has to go out of the house within a week — filled with stuff — and donated to charity.

I’m not talking about mac-and-cheese containers. I mean anything that is bigger than a bread “box.”

So that’s the plan anyway. We’ll see how it goes. Got any better ideas?

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2011 in Family, Thoughts

 

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Five baby items I wish existed

As a father of four-month old twins, I’m thankful every day for modern technology that helps us raise these miniature humans. Video monitors, portable bassinets, heck, even disposable diapers…I can’t imagine how they do it in third-world countries or even America, say, 100 years ago.

Still, could it be easier? Yes. There are things that should exist but don’t. All parents who’ve survived the baby stage can relate to the sheer madness of a fussy baby who won’t stop crying. But with multiples, it’s literally Whac-a-mole. Oftentimes, as soon as you get one fed and settled, the other one’s head pops up — screaming at a decibel level exceeding a jet engine, for someone, apparently in China, to come rescue her.

So, with that in mind, I give you my top five baby care items that need to be invented…

Mother's 3rd Arm

This is NOT what I'm talking about.

1) The third arm. Granted, there actually is something with this name already out there. As a matter of fact, we have one. But it’s more like a flexible bottle holder than something you can control. What I really need is something connected to you that would cradle a baby around your body, freeing up your two real arms. Things like slings and Baby Bjorns come close, but don’t position the baby in a way that makes feeding or caring for him possible.

2) The Starbucks bottle washer. Sure you can wash bottles by hand, but when you’re dealing with two times the normal volume of formula preparation, feedings, and cleanings, the job gets overwhelming…quick. What I envision here is a device that connects to the kitchen sink with a Christmas-tree shaped rotating brush that dispenses soap and water and spins like the Tasmanian Devil when the bottle is held over the device. In a few seconds, voila…a clean bottle that’s ready to be sterilized and reused. The closest thing I’ve seen to this concept is the pitcher washer at Starbucks that the baristas use to clean out their containers. (Like how I got a coffee reference in another blog? 😉

Baby Bidet

Even the dog knows this doesn't look right.

3) A baby bidet. Do I really need to explain why? Yes, the Diaper Genie has made diaper changes slightly more tolerable, but again – twice the feedings equals twice the poop. Enough said. And, of course, any proper baby bidet wouldn’t be complete without the corresponding diaper-changing robot.

4) A Baby-to-English translator. Nothing breaks your heart more than when you know your baby is in distress but you can’t figure out the cause. That’s why the military uses recordings of babies crying as a quasi-torture technique. There’s something hard-wired in our DNA that forces us to act when we hear that sound. But what if we actually could know exactly what was going on in that little head when they can’t express it? Hey, Apple, there should be an app for that.

5) A female-shaped harness thingy. OK, I admit this one is a little crazy, but it’s not about some weird cross-dressing fetish. One of our twins, I won’t say which one, seems fully comforted only when mommy is holding her. Actually, mommy is preferred, but apparently any woman will do. If I try to soothe her or hold her for more than a few minutes, she fusses for someone else. Am I doing something wrong? No. My physique apparently just won’t do. To test this, I rolled up a baby blanket and placed it in, er, a strategic place and attempted to hold her again while she was fussy. Low and behold, she calmed down and fell asleep. I’m sure it’s just a phase that she’ll grow out of eventually, but for those nights when mommy is working or unavailable, it sure would be nice to have another option to stop the midnight madness. Until then, rolled up blankies will have to do.

Don’t get me wrong. Nothing can replace the joy of parenting and raising children. I mean, just look at these faces! But that doesn’t mean we can’t strive to make things easier, right? What baby products do you wish existed?

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2011 in Family, Thoughts

 

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