The Hatch-Palucks, Week 16: Game On!

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge

The winter is starting to wear on us.

Every morning, Henry presses his nose against the glass pane of the family-room window and asks if today is the day he can play in the snow.

"Mom, can I have sweatpants and a sweatshirt?" he pleads. "Can I have some snooooooooow pants?"

Alas, we have no snow pants. Typically, Urbana doesn't see much of the white stuff during the winter months. We trend more to freezing rain and ice; then it's melt, rain, repeat.

I know, I make it sound so appealing, don't I? The Illinois tourism board is going to knock down my door any minute and ask me to be their official spokesperson: "Hello and welcome to the land of rain and ice!"

And don't forget the driving wind.

It isn't like I'm not used to harsh winter weather. I grew up in the New York State snow belt -- Rochester is smack in the middle of Buffalo and Syracuse, the two places in the state that average more than 100 inches of snow every year.

But there were hills for sledding! And for skiing! It's just a hop, skip and a jump from Rochester to the Canadian border, and so hockey reigns supreme, and my home city has the ice rinks to prove it. Growing up, I played in the snow a lot -- and we always had snow pants.

henry hatch amy picture

Henry may not get to play outside, but he loves to play Wii. Credit: Amy Hatch

Poor Henry -- optimistic little man that he is -- doesn't know that I won't be buying him snow pants. He grows too fast and this year seems to be the exception rather than the rule when it comes to squalls.

But this week, I had a secret weapon.

I had a Nintendo Wii.

The fine people at Nintendo were kind enough to send each of the Healthy Family Challengers one of the video-gaming systems just before the winter holidays.

We finally set up our console Monday night, in the hopes that we could hook up with the Drevitches, Jacksons and Quintanas for a Healthy Families Challenge bowling tourney, but we had some technical difficulties.

When we realized that it would take more work to get our friendly competition under way (and stay tuned, we're planning a second attempt soon), I mollified a very disappointed Emmie by setting up the Wii Fit Plus and balance board we received with the game.

We played the games designed to improve our balance. I was pretty skeptical about how much she would be able to do, but she was especially good at the game that requires a player to catch a soccer ball with her head.

What does this have to do with Henry and his hankering for physical play?

On Tuesday morning, I was ready for him when he asked if we could go outside.

"Henry, do you want to play a special game just for big boys?" I asked.

I had him at "special game."

I set him up with his own Mii character and stood him on the balance board.

He did better than I thought he would -- after all, he's only 2 years old -- and played every single balance game on the disc.

Channing and I also got in some time on the system, and -- no surprise here, my husband is hyper-competitive -- he kicked butt in every game he chose. As for me, I love the ski-jump game.

The system tracks your activity and "banks" it, then tells you the total calories each player has burned. This plays perfectly into the instructions I got last week when I met with Melissa Smith, a dietitian at the Mettler Center in Champaign, Ill.

Smith advised me to look at my activity level as a whole. So, instead of promising to exercise 20 minutes every day and then getting frustrated when I can't fit it in, set a goal to get in a total of 120 minutes in a week.

That way, I can exercise when I can -- 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there -- and add it all up at the end.

I'll have more tips to share next week, after my next meeting with Smith, and a planned follow-up with the good people at the Family Resiliency Center here at the University of Illinois.

Until then, if you're looking for us, you'll find us in the family room, racking up exercise time on our new Wii.

Who's the rest of the competition? Check out all the challengers' latest updates here.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.