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So I’ve been trying to be diligent in my exercising lately, walking the dog and going for runs as often as my knees can handle it. I’m trying to loose my three pound gut roll, er, “be healthy” and model active living for our kids. Also, I may or may not have seen a heinous photo of myself two days ago in which I leaned over to hug someone, and by the looks of my midsection it appeared I had a small ferret nesting inside my sweater.  It was terrifying. Terrifying.

But before you applaud my efforts or reach for your sticker book of gold stars, you should know that by “running”, I mean jogging down to a stop sign while yelling breathlessly at my son to stop at the corner and not park his bike and then wander through murky ditch water. The whole trip stretches between 1.5 – 2 miles, depending on which way I exit my neighborhood.  That means it takes me about as long to get dressed, find my iPod and get out the door as it does to actually pound the pavement, but hey: better than nothing, I say.

Yesterday looked like this:

I left the house after gleefully discovering that my son’s bike was “fixed” [read: chain was attached and functioning] and bribing him with a play date if he rode along with a happy heart.  Lest think this unimportant, rework this scenario with a grouchy 4 year-old trying to canvas 2 miles on a scooter, all the while complaining of tired legs and begging to go home [so he can ride this same scooter back and forth across the street instead of down the sidewalk with me].  But that’s another story.

So we’re heading south into the glory of the autumn morning when Shazam! M’s chain falls off.  I try to replace the greasy chain while jogging in place, or at least making a half-way effort to continue moving my feet while struggling with this offensive piece of junk. After a few go-rounds I finally win the battle and smear my filthy hands in the dewy grass to clean them.  Just like camping, I think to myself. No sweat.

Now, picking up speed again for the next several yards and feeling pretty good about it, my son has stopped at a nearby pond where he has spotted an enormous bird standing like a statue under a stand of trees.  To my novice birder-eyes, I think it might be a Blue Heron.  It was, no joke, easily taller than my child.  I’m pretty sure that this bird could kill us with his freakishly pokey beak…or at least peck our eyes out like a scene in some horrific Greek myth.  Trying to flee from such thoughts, I propose that we should name this bird and look for it every time we pass the pond.

M decides that his name should be Alex Rodriguez.

Not this one:

This one:

I had to laugh.  After meeting Alex Rodriguez and trucking down the bike path to our turn-around point, I am again jolted from my steady trot by M exclaiming that his bike chain has fallen off.  [Unreal!] In my eternal patience and everloving kindness I calmly replace the chain…for the second time…on his offensive piece of junk…and continue.

What I won’t do to remove that ferret from my sweater. I mean business.

I am busy mentally patting myself on the back about my dedication to finishing this outing when we passed Alex Rodriguez again, moving like a shadowy flamingo near the pond and…you guessed it: THE DANG BIKE CHAIN FELL OFF YET AGAIN!

Would I really make this up?!  By now I resemble the tire-changing scene in A Christmas Story when Ralphie’s dad knocks the hubcap out of his hands.  There was muttering and fist shaking, and quite possibly silent bouts of screaming.

The moral of the story, friends, is simply this: Running with children, while providing practice in bird-watching and general tenacity, does not do much in the way of cardiovascular training…even if I can say that I saw Alex Rodriguez sunning himself at the pond.

Moms out there:  How do you exercise with your little ones?  Please leave a comment and share your best ideas…or funniest moments!