Happy Hanukkah

I know the holidays are over and this is very late, but it’s something I’ve been pondering for a few weeks now, and I feel like I just really got a handle on it myself, so I’ll go ahead and say it. Better late than never, right?

Just a tiny back-story to start: I made Christmas CDs for all of my coworkers for Christmas, except for my Jewish boss, who got a Hanukkah mix. I didn’t have a lot of Hanukkah music, but I found some really good tunes, and I ended up having more fun making that mix than the Christmas one. I’ve also enjoyed listening to it more. I thought, at first, that it was because those songs weren’t so familiar and played out, but the more I listen to them, I think it’s something different.

People keep asking me how my Christmas was, and I keep saying that it was good, but lacking. I did Christmas things because that’s what I do at the end of December, but I’m not really sure I celebrated Christmas this year.

I feel like some Christians might get upset or concerned when I say things like this, but just hang with me. I really preferred Hanukkah to Christmas this year. That doesn’t mean that I’m converting to Judaism or that Jesus’s birth is insignificant to me. Hanukkah and Christmas are not mutually exclusive holidays. Just because they happen at the same time of year does not mean that they are in competition. They simply celebrate different things. They tell different stories, and this year, my own story lines up better with the Hanukkah story than the Christmas story.

Christmas, for me, this year, was just too big. It was too overwhelming, too much to receive at one time, too much to change. Christmas is about a world-changing event. The way we count our years revolves around it. It was the beginning of a new era. It was THE BIG ONE for all mankind. But my heart is still too tender for that. Overwhelming is overwhelming whether it’s good or bad, and I couldn’t open up to the overwhelming joy of Christmas because I’m overwhelmed enough. Or maybe I’m just not in a position to see the big picture right now because pain causes you to focus in on it so that you can take care of it one step at a time.

Either way, I felt like while Christmas was happening all around me, I was oblivious to it. Christmas might have been like the sun rising, but I was sitting in a blacked-out room. What I had in the room with me, though, were candles, and they were just what I needed. If I had opened the curtains, I would have been blinded. The candles were just the right amount of light.

The story of Hanukkah goes like this (the extremely condensed version, but correct me if I’m wrong in any way): The Greeks had taken over the Holy Land and made it illegal to study the Torah. The Maccabees were the leaders of a Jewish rebel army that fought to get their land and their religious rights and traditions back. They won despite being horribly outnumbered and outarmed (is that a word?). The Greeks de-purified all the ceremonial oil in the temple, but the Jews found ONE jar that had been overlooked. It was only enough for one day, but it miraculously lasted for 8 days, which gave the Jews enough time to purify more oil according to their laws.

As I listen to music about this, I relate to it in two ways:

  1. I have felt very ill-equipped to deal with my life over the past five months. As I look back on each week, I continue to see that things are easier than they were the week before, but I often still feel overwhelmed. Some days, the sadness is still very oppressive. But the Maccabees were overwhelmed and oppressed, and they fought back and WON, not by their own strength, but by that of the God who stood with them. That gives me hope.
  2. There are days when I don’t know how much more I can take, but somehow, hope remains. There are days when I feel that my hope should have dried up a week ago, but somehow, it’s still going. I don’t know how, but it’s there. I’ve found one little jar of hope untouched by sorrow, and it’s keeping me going against all odds.

So happy Hanukkah, everyone. Whether you’re Jewish or not, may you experience the light of hope that miraculously continues to shine until your supply is replenished.

When Advent Hurts

We went to a Christmas Eve service at my mother-in-law’s church the other night. Why they had a Christmas Eve service 10 days early, I do not know, but that is beside the point. The point is that I broke down crying while trying to sing “Joy to the World” because I just don’t feel all that joyful.

When we found out I was pregnant, before we got the official due date from the doctor, we estimated that we’d be expecting a baby on Christmas Eve. I loved the thought of expecting our own baby as we also anticipated the celebration of the birth of Christ. I thought about how special Advent would be this year, how much more meaningful. I looked forward to the lessons I would learn and the ways I would be able to identify with Mary. I was excited about experiencing Advent in a deeper way because of my own state of expecting.

But instead of singing Mary’s song of rejoicing, I find myself identifying more with the Psalmist: “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” Instead of feeling like joy has come to the world, I feel like I’m still longing and pleading for it.

Maybe “Joy to the World” is just not my song this year. Maybe this year, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is the one for me. I’ve always liked it, but this year, I understand it more. Mourn, lonely, hell, gloomy, shadows, dark, death, misery – these are things I get. There are also things I want – Emmanuel (God with us), wisdom, knowledge, freedom, victory, cheer, strength, mercy, peace.

I guess in a very sad, unexpected way, I am experiencing Advent in a deeper way. It’s just not the way I wanted. So I listen to this version of it on repeat and try to think that maybe we all go through cycles of painful longing and joyful receiving all the time, and it’s just unfortunate that my own personal Advent isn’t lining up with the one on the church calendar.

Context Clues

I’m reading Number the Stars with my class right now. If you haven’t read it, you really should. It’s a great story and very well written. Plus it’s short and on about a 4th-grade reading level, so it might take you a weekend to get through. It’s about a Danish family that helps their Jewish friends escape before the Nazis can “relocate” them.

My students are really enjoying it, and I’m using it to help them start getting comfortable using context clues to guess the meanings of unfamiliar words. We’ve done a lot of work on how to use the context to figure out what part of speech a word is, and now I’m starting to get them thinking about what’s happening so they can take a stab at the meaning as well. They still need a lot of help with it, though, so when they ask the meaning of a word, I walk them through the process by asking questions. Who is in this sentence? Where are they? What are they doing? What is that like? Imagine you were in this situation. What would you be doing? How would you do it?

Today, one of the words in question was “weep,” and I almost demonstrated involuntarily.

The context was that a Jewish mother and father were trying to escape with their baby when the Nazis arrived to investigate an unusual gathering of folks late in the evening. Everyone got through that particular encounter just fine, but it was understandably frightening, so when the Nazis came in, the mother held her baby tightly and started to weep.

Many of my students are mothers with young children, so I asked them, “What would you do if you thought someone might take your baby away?” And that’s when I almost lost it myself. I turned to write a definition of “weep” on the board, and I took my time erasing what was in my way and writing my definition so they wouldn’t see my face as I pulled it together. When I turned back around, I had on a happy face, and they were none the wiser.

I’m doing better. I really am. I don’t cry every day anymore. I can get out of bed and go to work. I exercise most days and eat good-for-me foods, and I feel good about myself for making those decisions. I laugh and sing and dance. I have more hope now than I’ve had since the summer. But I have also gotten better at hiding my feelings from most of the people I see regularly. It’s not that I’m trying to be fake. It’s that even though I don’t want to be sad, I still am, but I don’t want people to feel like they’ve done or said something wrong. They haven’t. If I’m crying, it is in no way your fault. I’m just sad. That is my context at the moment.

I know this is kind of a downer of a post, but today (this whole week really) has been hard, and I felt like I’d hidden it enough and needed to share it.

All the Rules You Ever Wanted to Know about Using Apostrophes and Making Things Plural

Well friends, it’s that time of year again! You are about to receive a glorious mountain of love and friendship in the form of ye olde annual Christmas cards! I don’t get very many myself, but I love looking through all the ones my parents get. They keep them all in a big bowl, and every year when I’m at their house, I sift through them, finding familiar faces and enjoying updates from family friends.

I’m here today, though, to offer a little help to those of you planning on sending out cards this year. I want to talk to you about apostrophes, which are apparently terribly confusing these days. I understand. There are a lot of rules, and a lot of people use them incorrectly, which adds to the confusion. First, let’s talk about making names plural.

Making Nouns Plural

For the most part, the rules for making names plural are the same as the rules for making any old nouns plural. If you’re talking about a whole family full of people with the last name Smith, for example, those people are the Smiths. Here are all the rules.

You probably know that you add -s to most words to make them plural.

  • card – cards
  • tree – trees
  • light – lights
  • present – presents
  • Henderson – Hendersons

You will notice that not a single one of these words has an apostrophe in it at all. That’s because an apostrophe is NEVER necessary when making a word plural.

Now let’s look at some words that end in -s, -z, -x, -ch, and -sh. To make those plural, you add -es, and I’ll give you an example sentence with each because these are getting trickier.

  • Christmas – Christmases (When I was single, I only had one Christmas each year, but now that I’m married, I have two Christmases – one with my family and one with Will’s family.)
  • Jesus – Jesuses (They had mismatched manger scenes at incredibly low prices. I cleaned them out of Baby Jesuses, which I made into ornaments!)
  • box – boxes (I wrapped all the boxes, but I forgot to put tags on them.)
  • church – churches (Many churches have Christmas Eve services.)
  • bush – bushes (I put lights on all the bushes in my yard.)
  • waltz – waltzes (Sad songs and waltzes aren’t selling this year.)
  • Rogers – Rogerses (The Rogerses are moving to Baltimore!)
  • Hernandez – Hernandezes (The Hernandezes got a new car.)

Once again, no apostrophes. That’s because an apostrophe is NEVER necessary when making a word plural.

Ok ONE more plural rule, and then I’ll stop (though I could go on). When a noun ends in a consonant + y, you change the y to i, and then add -es. **Note: Family names ending in -y do not change according to this rule. If a family’s last name ends in -y, just add an -s to it. (Clearys, Grimsbys)**

  • family – families family’s
  • mommy – mommies mommy’s
  • puppy – puppies puppy’s

Say it with me. An apostrophe is NEVER necessary when making a word plural. Ever.

Using Apostrophes

So what the heck do we use apostrophes for? Well, two things:

  1. Making contractions – When you smush two words together so hard that some of the letters pop out and fly away, you put an apostrophe there to mourn their absence. RIP “i” from is in it’s, the contraction of it and is. *moment of silence* So long fair “o” from not in aren’t, the contraction of are and not. *bows head*
  2. Making possessives – There are a few rules about this, and it gets a little sticky, but I think you can do it. Let’s go!

Here are the rules for using apostrophes to make possessives:

  1. Singular noun + ‘s – If a noun is singular, just add an apostrophe and s to make it possessive.
    – Bob’s car (1 man, 1 car)
    – the dog’s toys (1 dog, many toys)
    – Raleigh’s unemployment rate (1 city, 1 rate of unemployment)
    – James’s house (1 man, 1 house)
    – the bus’s tires (1 bus, many tires)
  2. Plural noun ending in -s + ‘ – If a noun is plural and ends in -s, you only need to add an apostrophe to make it possessive. You do not need another s at the end.
    – the dogs’ toys (many dogs, many toys)
    – the Joneses’ house (a family of many people with the surname Jones, 1 house)
    – the cities’ unemployment rates (many cities, many rates of unemployment)
    – my friends’ apartments (many friends, many apartments)
    – the buses’ tires (many buses, many tires)
  3. Plural noun not ending in -s (men, women, children, teeth, geese, etc.) + ‘s – Some plural nouns are irregular. They do not end in -s like normal plural nouns. To make these nouns possessive, you must add an apostrophe AND an s.
    – men’s jackets (many men, many jackets)
    – geese’s wings (many geese, many wings)
    – the children’s toys (many children, many toys)
    – people’s opinions (many people, many opinions)

Sample Christmas Card

So here’s some text from a sample Christmas card with corrections made:

Merry Christmas from the Jones’s Joneses!

We have had a great year! Both boy’s boys’ baseball team’s teams went to the playoff’s playoffs, and Tyler’s team won! Skylar’s team lost in the last game, but Sklyar was chosen as one of the MVP’s MVPs!

This is for educational purposes only. I swear I’m not trying to be a douche.

There you go, friends! The more I write, the more pedantic I feel, but I promise I’m not trying to be condescending or judgmental. I just want your loved ones to appreciate your sweet holiday card sentiments without losing respect for you. I know you’re smart, and I don’t want you to shoot yourself in the foot with apostrophes gone wild. If you have any questions about this AT ALL, please ask. I am more than happy to help you out!

Happy Holiday’s Holidays!

Baked Apple Recipe

I had lunch with my friend Emily and her adorable daughter a couple of weeks ago, and when she asked what she could bring, I told her, “Something fruity for dessert.” I had no idea what mind-blowing healthy deliciousness she would bless me with. She could have just brought me an apple, and I would have been excited, but NO. She brought this:

Delicious, Clean Baked Apples and Oats

AND she was gracious enough to share the recipe with us! Thanks Em! Y’all. These were so delicious and shockingly healthy. They are gluten-free, sugar-free, and clean. I wouldn’t recommend eating them for every meal or anything, but who wants to eat the same thing for every meal anyway? To make a batch, you will need:

  • 6 apples
  • 6 heaping tablespoons rolled oats
  • 6 heaping tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (This is optional, but if you happen to have dried cranberries or raisins or whatever else on hand, toss it in!)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • zest of an organic lemon or orange
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 6 tsp butter
  • 1 cup hot water

Wash apples and core them using a melon baller (there is a kind with a slightly serrated edge around the scooper, which works perfectly). Arrange them in a glass baking dish large enough to leave at least an inch in between them.

In a medium bowl, mix the rolled oats, walnuts, dried fruit (if using), cinnamon, salt, zest, nutmeg, and maple syrup. Blend all this goodness together in your bowl and stuff it into the cored apples. Then sprinkle the rest of the mixture in the bottom of the baking dish around the apples. The more stuffing you make, the more will be in the bottom of the pan, and it bakes up so tasty down there. Put a teaspoon pat of butter onto each apple on top of the stuffing (more or less if you want, and if anyone wants to experiment with using coconut oil instead, PLEASE let me know how that goes). Pour a cup of hot water into the bottom of the pan.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Then remove the foil, turn off the oven, and leave them in there for about 30 more minutes

Drizzle those bad boys with a little raw honey before serving. They are amazing on their own, but you could also serve them with plain or vanilla yogurt. If it’s an extra oatmeal-y batch, Emily says she’ll just dish up 2 or 3 of them with lots of the oatmeal part and there’s breakfast!

Feel free to play with this and let me know how it goes. If you want to make more of the oatmeal mixture, you can, but you may need to adjust the amount of water you add to the pan.

Enjoy!!

Discipline Is a Four-Letter Word

Actually, discipline has ten letters. Yes, I stopped writing to count them…twice. I’ll give you a moment to double check my math.

Good? Ok, so our topic today is maintaining self-discipline when it comes to food and exercise. I’m sure we’re all super-psyched to talk about that. How do you do it? How do you keep it up long-term? How do you resist the cravings and temptations? How do you drag yourself off the couch every day to exercise. I think the answer to all of these questions can be summed in in two words: Motivation and Grace.

Motivation

When you have a really good reason for doing what you’re doing, you want to do it. When you have several really good reasons, your motivation gets stronger. When you have a really good plan in place to be successful, when you feel like it’s really possible, and especially when you start seeing that it’s working, it’s like a motivation booster. And when you have at least one person cheering you on, recognizing the hard work you’re doing, and giving you “the look” when you say things like, “Just one brownie,” followed by, “I don’t feel like working out today,” that really helps to keep you on track.

So if you’ve been struggling to lose weight with yo-yo results or no results at all, I would suggest that you answer the following questions:

  1. Why do you want to do this?
  2. How are you going to do it? Is your plan one that you can stick with long-term? Are you willing to change your lifestyle?
  3. What are your goals for the next month? How much weight will you lose? How often will you be exercising regularly? What specific things will you change about your diet (cut out sugar, stop eating fast food, give up soda, eat X number of vegetable servings per day, etc.)?
  4. What roadblocks, disappointments, or problems can you realistically anticipate? How will you get past them?
  5. What are you scared of as you think about getting started with this life change?
  6. Who will kick your butt if you start slacking off? (*Hint: Tell this person [these people] your reasons for wanting to make changes, your fears about doing it, and your plan, and check in with him/her/them daily. Yes, daily.)

Grace

You’re going to have off days. You’re going to enjoy Thanksgiving with your family. You’re going to be in a situation where you have no control over the food or whether or not you get to work out. You’re going to get sick and have to be in bed for days. You’re going to eat a cookie because someone made it for you and you don’t want to be rude by refusing it. You’re not going to have time to exercise one day. You’re going to forget to take your lunch to work and have to either go out to eat or starve. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to drop the ball.

Mistakes here and there won’t ruin everything. Give yourself some grace and move forward.

When I was in college, I went through a cross-cultural training program in preparation for an overseas summer mission trip. In this program, we learned a silly song that has been extremely helpful to me in countless situations since. One part of the song said, “It’s not what you do first; it’s what you do next.” How do you respond to set-backs? How do you treat yourself when you make a mistake? What do you do after you fall off the wagon?

Each decision is a step in one direction or another, but taking one step in one direction does not mean that you have to take another. If you drink a soda in a moment of weakness, choose to stick with water tomorrow. If you decide to skip your workout one day, get back on your schedule tomorrow. Even if you’ve been making bad decisions for years, you don’t have to be stuck in that rut. You can choose to take one step at a time in another direction.

It’s hard at first, I’ll be honest. Really, really hard. But the more often you make healthy decisions, the easier they become to make. You can’t give up at one failure, though. You have to give yourself some grace and try again.

The lady on one of our exercise videos always says, “If you give up, the only person you’re giving up on is yourself.” And as much as we hate her for torturing us each day, she’s right, and I’m worth not giving up on. So are you.

Sautéed Chickpeas Recipe

Y’all, this is the easiest thing in the world to make. Seriously. I forgot to take a picture before I gobbled them up, but trust me, they’re tasty. Here’s what you need:

  • 1 tsp olive oil (optional)
  • 1 15-oz can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • salt
  • pepper
  • basil
  • oregano
  • thyme
  • chili powder

This is going to be a little Cooking 101 for a second. Bear with me if you are already an expert. When you make any kind of beans that come from a can, you really should rinse them well. Those things are packed in lots of salt to keep them fresh, and you don’t need that much salt. Also, the liquid in the can tends to get kind of yucky and gelatinous, and it grosses me out, so I always rinse them. The easiest way to do it is to dump the beans into a strainer and stir them around with your hand while you run water over them. If you’re making a dish with multiple types of beans and you have a big enough strainer, just toss ‘em all in there at once.

So rinse your garbanzos and let them sit in the strainer in the sink to drain a bit while you heat your pan and get your garlic going.

If you want to use oil, go for it, but you really only need the tee-tiniest little drop of it. We’re not frying things here, just making sure nothing sticks to the pan. If you have a non-stick pan, you really don’t need oil.

Heat the pan on medium-high with or without oil, and then drop in your garlic. Fresh garlic is so amazing it makes me cry, but the kind in the jar will work too, and it’s faster. Stir the garlic around a bit until it starts to smell kind of toasted. Then throw in the chickpeas.

Stir the chickpeas around in the pan so they get all nice and garlicky. Then start seasoning. A quarter of a teaspoon of salt is MORE than enough. An eighth is probably plenty. The rest, just use as much as you like. This is not a science, but for those of you who require precise measurements, I’d go with 1/8 teaspoon salt and chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, basil, oregano and thyme. If you want them spicier, use more chili powder and/or more garlic.

Canned beans are already ready to eat, so all you’re doing here is heating them up and combining them with other yumminess. The whole process should take 10 minutes or less.

That’s it! I put these in salads, and they’re delicious hot or cold (A can of beans makes two servings, so I’ll put half on a salad fresh out of the pan and keep the rest in the fridge for another day). For a nice side dish with dinner, you could also toss two cups of baby spinach into the skillet along with the garbanzos and cook them both together (with the same herbs and spices) until the spinach gets floppy. If you do that, though, I would suggest using the olive oil or, better yet, a little water, which will create some steam, which will wilt your spinach nicely.

If you add spinach, try topping the whole shebang off with a little Tabasco. That ought to kick it up a couple of notches in spice AND taste!

And Vice Versa

I’m sure there is science out there somewhere to back up the things I am about to say, but all of this is just from my own personal experience. And movies.

Making good decisions – decisions you can be proud of – for your body makes you feel good about yourself. Even before you lose any weight or look any thinner or more muscular, you feel better because you are proud of the decisions you’re making and hopeful for the future. I had probably lost about 8 pounds when I asked Will if he thought I looked any thinner. He said he wasn’t sure if I actually looked thinner yet, but that I was carrying myself more confidently, which made me look healthier. And even though I had only been exercising and eating better for a couple of weeks, I definitely felt healthier, which made me want to continue making healthy choices. Thus, the cycle continued. Good decisions => positive feelings and positive self-talk => feeling confident and looking healthy => feeling healthy => more good decisions.

In that cycle, I mentioned positive self-talk, which I think is really important. When you do good things for your body, you are training yourself to love it. I think people have the idea that loving their bodies comes with weight loss and looking thinner, but I don’t think that’s the right conclusion to draw from that correlation. I think they happen at the same time and get mistaken for cause and effect, but what’s really happening is that you are treating your body well, and the more you treat something well, the more you realize how much you appreciate it. It’s the same with any relationship. You don’t always feel the warm-and-fuzzies for people, but when you choose to show them love and kindness anyway, the good feelings come back around. Showing love and kindness actually makes you feel loving and kind. It works for your body too. If you do kind things for your body, it makes you feel the love you have for your body. And the more you do it, the more natural and authentic it becomes. Also, you come to appreciate your body for what it can do, which I really need right now. Healthy choices => authentic appreciation of the body => love of the body => desire to treat the body well => more healthy choices.

And then there are endorphins, which make you feel better when you hate your aerobics instructor for being such a sadist (or when you hate yourself for being such a masochist because you’re working out with a DVD at home and no one is there to make you feel guilty about just turning it off). Oh, and endorphins make you not a murderer, which I’m sure my husband appreciates as a nice side-effect of all my exercising.

legallyblonde

So exercise => endorphins => happiness => not shooting my husband => happy husband => husband supporting my healthy choices => more exercise??

I don’t know about that last full circle, but I do know that feeling better physically makes you feel better emotionally, which makes you want to feel even better physically. And so on, and so forth, and vice versa.

75 Creative Ways to Get Active

I think most of us can agree that exercising sucks. I would much rather watch a movie or read a book on a porch in the mountains. Also, I feel gross when I sweat. I know a lot of people love “getting their sweat on,” but I have curly hair, which isn’t really compatible with humidity, and sweating just creates my own little humidity cloud, which in turn frizzes my hair. So I’d rather not.

However, I can trick myself into exercising every now and then if it doesn’t feel so much like exercise and/or if I’m having too much fun to notice or care that I’m sweating. I absolutely do not do all of these things, but if you’re looking for fresh ideas, here you go:

75 Creative Ways to Get Active

  1. Work in your yard/garden.
  2. Clean your house (with music).
  3. Reorganize a room, and get rid of things you don’t need/want.
  4. Listen to music and dance while you’re getting ready in the morning.
  5. Family dance party!
  6. Use a bathroom on a different floor (at home or work). Drink a lot of water so you have to pee often. Take the stairs every time.
  7. Go to a playground and play. Seriously, do it.
  8. Join a silly sports league like dodgeball or kickball or hide and seek.
  9. Join a for real sports league like soccer or hockey.
  10. Climb a tree.
  11. Rearrange your furniture.
  12. Go swimming.
  13. Go kayaking (Lake Johnson will rent you a kayak for $5/hour).
  14. Go dancing! Try a kind of dance that’s new for you – shag, swing, salsa, square, contra. Hooboy contra dancing is a GREAT workout!
  15. Take advantage of your local hiking/walking trails. If you live in the Raleigh area, there are TONS to choose from.
  16. Stand up on public transportation. Try not to hold on (germs). Your muscles will have to work to keep you balanced and stable.
  17. Get off of public transportation a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way.
  18. Try martial arts!
  19. Try yoga!
  20. Try rock/wall climbing!
  21. Try Zumba!
  22. Try aerobic pole dancing! It’s seriously a thing, and it’s seriously a workout. It’s also seriously awkward, but if it sounds like fun to you, go for it!
  23. TRAMPOLINE!!
  24. Organize an elementary-school-style field day for your friends and neighbors. Include all the classics: 3-legged race, over/under, potato sack race, egg toss, etc.
  25. Play Duck Duck Goose
  26. Play Follow the Leader.
  27. Play Red Rover.
  28. Play any kind of tag.
  29. Play dodgeball.
  30. Play kickball.
  31. Arm wrestle.
  32. Leg wrestle.
  33. Stretch while you’re watching TV or talking on the phone.
  34. Do silly walks.
  35. Play tennis.
  36. Play in the sprinkler.
  37. Play Capture the Flag.
  38. Walk around the mall.
  39. Walk a dog.
  40. Toss a frisbee.
  41. Fly a kite.
  42. Go for a walk with a friend instead of going for coffee.
  43. Bring back the hacky sack!
  44. Play catch.
  45. Play Hopscotch.
  46. Play Foursquare.
  47. Play Simon Says.
  48. Sidewalk chalk someone’s driveway in the wee hours of the morning.
  49. Go for a romantic moonlit walk.
  50. Come back home and let one thing lead to another.
  51. Visit a museum. Look at everything. You’ll be walking around AND learning! Bonus!!
  52. Park in a central location when running errands that aren’t far apart, and walk to do each one.
  53. If you can see your destination from where you are, walk, don’t drive to it.
  54. Play charades.
  55. Jump rope.
  56. Photo scavenger hunt.
  57. Choreograph a dance to a song. Do it every time you hear that song.
  58. Hula hoop.
  59. Ping pong.
  60. Go roller skating.
  61. Play laser tag!
  62. Wash your car.
  63. “Walk to another city.” There are about 2,000 steps in a mile. Pick a “destination,” and figure out how many steps it would take you to walk there (literally). For example, it would take me about a million steps (2,000 steps x 500 miles) to get from my house to New York. Get a pedometer, and when you’ve walked enough steps to have reached your destination city, plan a real trip there!
  64. Pillow fight!
  65. Tickle fight!
  66. Play active video games like Wii Sports or Just Dance.
  67. Car dance.
  68. Clean out your garage, attic, or storage closet.
  69. Build a fort.
  70. Play putt-putt.
  71. Go to a zoo.
  72. Ride a horse.
  73. Get a pedometer for everyone in the house and see who can take the most steps each day.
  74. Act out your favorite scenes from books (including comic books) and movies. Make costumes and scenery and everything.
  75. Do a puppet show. Build the stage and make the puppets.

What else should we add to the list?