I’m not really into women. Hmmm…that didn’t quite sound right. What I meant to say is that the majority of my close friends are men. This is primarily due to me being a little picky when it comes to my female acquaintances. See, I’m not really a big fan of drama, over-sensitivity, or high schoolish behavior patterns; I just don’t have the patience for them. And I’ve found that drama queens, stuck in a high school mentality, seem to be predominantly female. Sorry ladies, it’s sad but unfortunately true. However, although I maintain a higher male to female friend ratio, I associate with some of the most fabulous females around. I went out with two of those wonderful ladies last week, Wendy and Robyn, good friends of mine from work.
These lovely ladies are awesome!
We had dinner at the Pie Pizzeria. We sat on their patio, next to a huge roaring fire, and chatted and chuckled for hours. When we finally got up to leave the employee at the front desk looked at us like, what you are still doing here? It was a great night and I am very grateful that I have such amazing ladies in my life. My chick pals may not be as prolific as my manly buddies but what they lack in quantity they certainly make up for in quality. Thanks Robyn and Wendy! Anytime you ladies are up for another gab session I am definitely in!
It’s that magnificent time of year again. The time when you can shed a few layers of clothing, forget about winter woes, and venture outside without freezing your keester off. Spring how I do love you!
For some reason Jeremy and I were mistaken for a couple while we were running this race. It may look like Jeremy could be my significant other based off this picture but that was no lovey-dovey embrace. This was what was actually happening when this photo was taken: Jeremy was sticking out his stomach in an attempt to demonstrate how fat he is. It always makes me crazy when he does this because his abnormally extended belly just makes my guts hurt, which is precisely the reason why he does it so frequently. While I was attempting to push his stomach back in he was taking advantage of the proximity of my head and trying to force it into his enormous chest for what he terms "man num-nums".
Winter has definitely been retreating the last couple of weeks. I’ve gone running without a jacket, relaxed a little in my sunny backyard, barbecued steaks and corn on the grill, and watched my tulips and daffodils emerge from the ground.
Nothing seems sweeter than glorious spring sunshine after a dismal winter and I am always eager to get my share of those blissful rays. So, in order to get as much heavenly sunlight as possible, Jason and I have beefed up our running schedule and we participated in our first race of the year today, a 5k family Easter run sponsored by Lehi city. I managed to maintain my awesomely mediocre race pace from last year through the winter. It’s good to know that I’ve kept at least some of my muscle mass over the last few months and that I didn’t fall victim to winter flabbery.
This 5K was a "Hare Chase". I caught up to the hare within the first few minutes of the race. Poor guy - it can't be easy running in a bunny suit.
But running isn’t the only outdoor activity we have been trying to do more of recently; we haven’t let the lingering snow in the mountains stop us from taking out our bikes. Although it’s too early in the season for traversing our sweet peaks, riding our bikes on the Jordan River Trail has been a refreshing and nearly irresistible pastime for us as of late. Even after running our 5K today and feeling adequately exercised, the temptation of the trail was too overpowering to withstand. All that delicious afternoon sunshine lured us in like a warm and wily tractor beam. So we met up with Jason’s parents, Keith and Sue, for a 15 mile biking excursion. What can I say, I’m a sucker for sunbeams. Besides, there’s always time to be tired later. The divine season must be enjoyed while it lasts because if there is one thing I don’t like about spring it’s its fleetingness. Why doesn’t it stick around just a bit longer? Is that so much to ask? Winter’s chill fades into summer’s singeing heat far too quickly and spring often just seems like a breath between extremes. But I shouldn’t complain, for now I should just soak in all that spring goodness while it lasts. Ahhhh…
Keith and Sue don't look particularly happy in this picture. Probably because Jason had just made them bike up an enormous hill...or tricked them into it rather.
A vitamin, by definition, is a nutrient needed in the diet in small amounts for normal function, growth, and maintenance of body tissues. However, there is one vitamin that pushes that definition, one vitamin that won’t be viewed in black and white, one vitamin that refuses to be categorized. That rebellious nutrient is Vitamin D.
Vitamin D, unlike other vitamins, isn’t always essential. Obtaining it in your diet may or may not be necessary. Hmmm…has Vitamin D’s ambiguous nature got you a little puzzled? If so, let me walk you through the details.
You see, your skin cells are capable of forming Vitamin D in the presence of sunlight, or UV light to be more exact. Most people, in the majority of climates, can make all the Vitamin D they need by simply getting sunlight on their face, arms, and hands for about 10-15 minutes, a few days a week, between the hours of 8 AM and 4 PM. However, if you aren’t hanging out in the sun much, or you’re wearing UV blocking sunscreen constantly, then your skin can’t manufacture adequate Vitamin D and you need to get it in your diet. So while dietary Vitamin D intake isn’t essential for many people, those “if” cases have allowed this nutrient to achieve vitamin status. Vitamin D deficiency used to primarily be a problem only in populations that had a sun insufficiency: the elderly, vampires, people living in northern climates where the sun pretty much disappears for months. However, trends seem to indicate that now things may be changing…and not in a good way. But before I get to the latest Vitamin D drama, permit me to tell you why you should care about this particular nutrient.
Vitamin D, like most vitamins, is a multitasker. Its most important function is regulating blood calcium levels and preventing calcium loss but it also aids in immune function, contributes to insulin secretion, and may help ward off cancer. Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets or soft bones- amongst other things. Even if you were so stuffed with calcium that someone could use you as a piece of chalk, all that calcium wouldn’t do your bones much good without Vitamin D. Calcium can’t do its job without Vitamin D to back it up; bone maintenance is a team effort. Go team bones!
You should now understand that vitamin D is important but perhaps you are confused as to why it, a sometimes non-essential nutrient, deserves our attention when there are plenty of always-essential nutrients out there. Let me quell that confusion by sharing Vitamin D’s recent woes – the problems that have lead to increasing deficiencies.
Problem 1: You may have noticed that more and more people have become aware of the harmful nature of UV radiation. It is true UV light causes all sorts of havoc in our skin. You many know that sun exposure can lead to skin cancer but were you also aware that it suppresses your skin’s immune responses, causes a cascade of inflammation, and leads to the formation of free radicals? Oddly, although some people don’t care about the risk of skin cancer and all that other bad stuff they usually do care about being pretty. Sun exposure is one of the leading causes of premature aging. Yes, in this day of youth obsession that point seems to catch everyone’s attention. In fact it has caught so much attention that not only are many women putting SPF lotions on their faces every day but some are slathering on SPF containing body lotions day and night. They are essentially wrapping themselves in a sun proof cocoon. After all, the seconds of sun exposure here and there do add up over a lifetime and can lead to catastrophically normal skin. Gasp! Because of this rise in UV apprehension, and segments of the population avoiding unprotected sun exposure like the plaque, Vitamin D deficiency appears to be increasing.
Jas is doing his best here to represent someone who feels uneasy about going out in the sun even with ridiculous amounts of sunscreen on. But it isn't just the sunscreen that looks ridiculous...
Problem 2: When I was a kid I spent a lot of time outdoors. I loved playing outside. Most people my age felt similarly about the outdoors when they were children and now those once-kids are already dealing with skin cancer issues because of all the time they spent enjoying the sunny summers in their early years with as few clothes on as possible. My generation may have gotten a few too many sunburns back in those days, and our skin is now paying the price, but did we have Vitamin D deficiency? Absolutely not. Kids today, however, spend a lot less time being lively outside. They are too obsessed with their video games and TV shows to be regularly involved in active outdoor play. The negative effects of this surge in childhood inactivity are far reaching and include: childhood obesity, diabetes, and even heart disease. Vitamin D levels also seem to be dwindling in many kids due to their sedentary indoor lifestyles.
So now you appreciate what poor Vitamin D has been going through but what can be done about its predicament? My solution is very simple and entirely logical…heaven forbid the answer to any dilemma be logical. You see, I am a big fan of moderation and that’s exactly what this situation calls for. Many people bask in the sun, or regularly visit tanning beds, with little thought to the long-term consequences… and there will be consequences. Those consequences may come in the form of sunburns, wrinkles, a suppressed immune system, sagging skin, age spots, or skin cancer. Why tanners why? If you are burning yourself in order to be hip you should know that tan skin is on its way out! That’s right, pale even-toned skin is making a comeback! (Yes! I am going to have the trendiest skin around!) And even if tan skin continues to be popular, (It really is becoming less and less so…I would never lie to you.) is looking sun baked really worth the health of your skin? Also, if you are that concerned about appearances shouldn’t you be concerned about what your skin is going to look like in 20 or 30 years thanks to all the tanning you are doing now? Put some sunscreen on people! By the way, the sunless tanners they have these days are quite good; they don’t make you look like an oversized pumpkin. Ever considered using those instead of frying your skin? Just a thought.
And to all you people that fear the sun as if it were an evil overlord hovering above you…chill! You need some beams! Ten minutes a day isn’t going to kill you, in fact not getting any is much more likely to do so. And you aren’t going to turn into a hag if you get a few rays now and then, at least not any more so than is unfortunately unavoidable through the passing of time.
And parents, you know where the “off” switch is on your TV or kids’ gaming system right? Well, then why don’t you use it? Send you children outside to run around and play. Even if this takes a bit of work, it could save your kids from a long list of chronic health problems and sickly lives. (I know, I know, it’s not fair; you didn’t expect parenting to actually take effort.) By the way, don’t forget your kids do need sunscreen when being out in the sun for extended periods of time. You wouldn’t want their backs to be littered with precancerous cells when they’re only 30 would you? I thought not.
So to review: Lots of sun=bad. No sun or constantly SPFing your whole body=bad. Ten minutes of sunscreenless sun a few days a week=good.
And let me just say to those of you that are bound and determined to keep every inch of your skin covered from the sun and wear a thick layer of SPF 500 sunscreen day and night despite my plea for moderation and rationality- there is still a glimmer of hope for your bones. If you won’t soak in your Vitamin D you can still eat it. Good sources of Vitamin D include: fatty fish, fortified milk, and some breakfast cereals. So make sure you get plenty of those in your diet or your beautifully pale and well-kept skin could be stretched over a large osteoporotic hump. (That’s usually not considered attractive.)
I should also warn you sun avoiders that while sunlight and food sourced Vitamin D will not cause toxicity, such is not the case for Vitamin D supplements. If you seek to improve your Vitamin D status through supplementation you should be careful not to overdo it. Vitamin D is fat soluble, builds up in your fat tissue, and can be extremely toxic. A normal adult would have to take about 10 times the AI (Adequate Intake) of Vitamin D for approximately 6 months before toxicity would set in. (For an infant the amount of Vitamin D that will cause toxicity is far less.) You may be thinking that six months is oodles of time and that toxicity therefore isn’t an issue but you might change your tune when your body starts going berserk and depositing calcium in random places like your kidneys, heart, blood vessels…organs don’t tend to recover from something like that too well.
So go easy on the Vitamin D supplements, enjoy some fish, and hang out with your fiery friend the sun occasionally. A few short visits with him every week will take quite a bit of the Vitamin D drama out of your life.
The company Jason works for sponsors a ski week every year at Sundance Resort. Thanks to their sponsorship, hitting the slopes is extremely cheap during that week. This year the deal included a super day pass, good for both day and night skiing, and lunch at the resort for only $30. What a bargain! It would normally cost $90 for all of this.
Since Jason and I are always looking for excuses to board, and this price was way too good to pass up, we skipped work on Friday and headed up to Sundance. Jason’s brother Jeremy and our friend Aaron tagged along.
The day was exceptionally sunny and pleasant. Beautiful! A snow storm had hit the night before and left a fresh sprinkling of powder…even better. While the lower regions of the mountain quickly lost their new-snow-feel due to the mighty sun, the upper regions, accessible by the Arrowhead lift, were soft and powdery all day.
This is me, Jason, Jeremy, and Aaron. Jason wanted us to all pretend we were doing something super cool for this picture but we had been boarding all day and were into the night shift at this point. We were pooped...and sadly not energetic enough to feign coolness.
The only time the exquisite spring sunshine vanished on this delightful day was when we were literally boarding inside a cloud. Up near the ridge of the mountain a cloud settled in for a bit as it struggled to climb over the saddle making visibility extremely limited and the temperature drop. It was a strange experience…I’ve never roamed around inside a cloud before. But the mist soon sank into a nearby valley and it was clear and spectacular once again.
Although the good deal alone would have been enough to entice us onto the slopes, Jason’s company went beyond just making this activity economically friendly. They rented the rehearsal hall at the resort for employees and their guests to take a break in, eat lunch, warm themselves by a giant fire, play some Wii, or watch a movie. Additionally, they gave free swag to everyone. Sweet!
We met up with Jason's longtime friend and coworker, Dan, while at Sundance. He took a break from teaching all his girls how to board to ride a run with us.
It was a lovely day and well worth the $30 price. Having our friends with us made it even more awesome. Aaron was, as always, a great help in improving my snowboarding skills. Thanks Aaron for your patience and knowledge! You’re amazing!
Incidentally, there are no restrictions on who can join us for ski week. So friends and family members feel free to take advantage of this discount and keep us company next year.
Like everyone else, we think we have some terrific nieces and nephews. They are talented, sweet, intelligent…and perhaps a bit mischievous. Unlike most couples our age, in this region anyway, we are not knee-deep in our own child rearing. Because Jason and I have purposefully delayed that adventure we have more time, money, and patience for our nieces and nephews than most of our counterparts. Hence, we have an opportunity to be the “cool” aunt and uncle that every kid wants but few have.
The kids liked shaping the cookies, especially Miles.
As the glamorous auntie and uncle we like to plan fun activities for our nieces and nephew periodically. These activities hopefully not only give the kids something to look forward to but also provide a break for their parents. We thought my brother’s and sister’s kids would enjoy a little Valentine’s Day celebration so we schemed one up for them. However, due to sick children, this event got delayed until after Valentine’s Day. The kids didn’t seem to mind that the holiday had come and gone though as they baked and decorated heart shaped cookies and made paper airplane valentines.
Miles loved helping roll the dough. He called himself "the steamroller".
We had a good time laughing and making messes with the rest of the juveniles. They are special little people and we hope it will at least take them a few more years to realize that we really aren’t that cool.