family fun

Blades of Glory: The Only Ice-Skating Tips You’ll Need This Winter

Written on December 1, 2014 at 10:03 am , by

Minnesota Ice Skating

Looking for a fun, active family outing this holiday season? Head to the rink! After a morning on the ice with our friends at Fruit of the Loom, we gathered tips from Wicksie Tu, an instructor at Winter Village in NYC’s Bryant Park, to make it entertaining for everyone, even ice-skating newbies.

Before you get out on the ice, layer up in tight clothes—baggy garments will catch wind and drag you down. Also, tie skates tight enough so the ankle stays steady and can’t sway from side to side as you move.

Once you’re ready to hit the rink, Tu has a few drills for beginners: First, march in place to get comfortable on blades, then begin to move forward while you march. When you feel confident, push off the ground like you would on a scooter. For those more at ease on the ice, move your feet in a diamond shape to go forward a few times, then backward. Next, try driving off your forefoot to glide on both skates for a few seconds. Or if you’re feeling daring, lift a leg and slide on one foot.

Ready to increase your speed? Do as the pros do and cross one foot in front of the other as you continue to push off the ice. To come to a halt, do the snowplow stop (which is best for beginners and similar to the pizza-wedge stop used in skiing): Bend your knees and move your toes toward each other while pushing your feet outward. You’ll form a V or pigeon-toed shape and shave some ice.

Ice Skating

Now that you’re a pro when it comes to technique, follow these dos and don’ts when it comes to form and you’ll stay upright with ease.

DON’T look down. When you gaze down at the ice, your body tends to lean forward, which throws you off balance. Keep your eyes focused in front of you and your hips centered.

DO bend your knees. If you feel yourself tipping, bend your knees a few degrees (they should always be slightly bent, but emphasize it more) and place your hands on them. This will help stabilize you.

DON’T lean back. Tumbling backward can be dangerous, because you risk hitting your head. Counteract that tilt by bending your knees, putting your arms out to the side and keeping your shoulders and hips aligned. 

DO get loose. People tend to think stiffness will make them steady in the rink, but it actually ups your chances of wiping out. Roll your shoulders down and back and just relax.

DON’T use the toe picks. Those little spikes on the front of your skates work well for performing jumps and tricks, but they can get in a newcomer’s way. Avoid dragging your feet and your skates won’t get stuck, causing you to trip.

Fool Me Once…

Written on March 25, 2014 at 2:31 pm , by

By JM Randolph, the Accidental Stepmom

It’s that time of year again, when I peruse the Internet for ideas for April Fools’ Day pranks I can play on the kids that won’t require either a trip to the emergency room or some intervention from the authorities.

You get a glimpse into the deep psyche of the prank-posters when you do this. They reveal a great deal about their daily routines, how they keep house and how they raise children. I feel like I’m creeping through their bushes and peeking in their windows at dinnertime.

Gretchen Rubin’s Facebook page is great for prank ideas. If you don’t know her, you should definitely check out this author of The Happiness Project. I do love her, even though her suggestions and those of her like-minded fans (read: more organized than merely being able to consistently leave the house wearing pants) are for a seemingly different species of mom than I am. I find a ton of great ideas that simply won’t work in my house.

Dye the milk green. My kids would reach for that gallon in the fridge, notice that it was green, and walk away without realizing it was a prank, or thinking to tell an adult there was something wrong with the milk. Someone finally revealed that you have to have a cardboard carton for the element of surprise, i.e., something smaller than a gallon. The only reason we don’t buy milk in containers larger than a gallon is because it only comes in Cow after that, and I’m not going there.

Glue their toilet paper together.
 They regularly are without toilet paper for days at a time in their bathroom before telling me. I do not know what they use instead. I refuse to go in that room.

Put towels in the sleeves of the jackets so they can’t get their hands through. I could pull this off if I knew which sweatshirt of their dad’s they would swipe that morning when forced to wear a jacket, and if I could use dirty towels. I can never find a clean hand towel, but I know exactly where 17 used-only-once hand towels are: on their bathroom counter. I dearly hope the hand towels are not related to my previous observations regarding toilet paper.

Fold the top sheet of their bed in two and put the cover on as usual. They will not be able to get into bed. This implies that we make the beds and that they have both a sheet and a cover of some sort.

Crumble a biscuit into their bed. Wouldn’t notice (see above).

Mix up all their morning ritual stuff: toothbrush in the shower, shampoo where the blow-dryer belongs, etc. This assumes that these items actually have a place that they are regularly returned to. In my house, this will likely lead to the blow-dryer going in the shower and electrocuting somebody.

Superglue coins to the sidewalk.
 This could work if my sidewalk were made of wood, and the kids hadn’t stolen all my change and let the dog eat the superglue.

Wake the kids up 45 minutes early and tell them the time changed again and they’re late. Did I mention I work nights?

Tell your kids the lawn mower is broken and the homeowners’ association is about to fine you and you need them to cut the lawn. Give them each a pair of scissors and a ruler and tell them to cut it to an inch and a half. Let them go for about 5 minutes before you call out “April Fools!” The woman who submitted this is my hero. Her little boys were quite enthusiastic about the task and her daughter was mortified that her friends would see her. Unfortunately, my “lawn” is so small you actually could cut it with a pair of scissors, in about 10 minutes. To pull this off, I would first have to find one of our six pairs of Magically Vanishing scissors. I would then set the kids on task, pour myself a cup of tea and, due to the peace and quiet, completely forget I was in the middle of an April Fools’ prank. They would be done cutting the lawn before I finished my tea. Also, we don’t have a homeowners’ association, which is truly for the best. If we did, they would have mandated martial law on our property by now.

What are your best April Fools’ pranks?

 

JM Randolph is a writer, stagehand, and custodial stepmom of five. She lives in New Jersey with her family and blogs at accidentalstepmom.com.