Sunday, February 28, 2010

Home Curling, a How-to-Guide

The Winter Olympics are in full swing, and in between criticizing the figure skaters' outfits and shivering, I have become obsessed with the sport of "curling". Probably because one of the Canadian Curlers, Kristie Moore, is pregnant. And, with decades of experience as a Maternity Educator under my belt, I have absolutely no idea how I would have reacted if one of my pregnant clients had asked what I thought about her participation in the Olympics. As a Curler. Although I am (technically) retired, I could be called off the bench at any time; and the issue could conceivably (ha! conceivably! Maternity Educator humor!) come up in the I am getting prepared.

Now, curling, as far as I can tell, involves sweeping, and heaving a big rock down the ice. There is a "hog line" at each end, and a big target beyond each hog line. The participants wear Teflon shoes. They shout stuff while sliding around.

Let's break this down. Sweeping is probably not dangerous for pregnant women; who have been known to be at home, barefoot and pregnant, probably sweeping, for millennia. Targets pose no clear danger, either. They are the best places to find baby gates, and cheap-but-designer infant clothes. I just got my granddaughter a really cute navy and pink retro peasant top and leggings at Target, and they were 30% off. Also, although Teflon has been linked to Alzheimer's, I don't think Teflon is inherently dangerous during pregnancy. Target has a fine selection of Teflon cookware. So I would let this issue, um, slide.

Now, as far as heaving heavy stones. A little research turned up the fact that the stones are granite, as featured on the counter tops in The Kitchens of the Martha Stewart Home Collection. As long as the granite is well-sealed, experts agree there is no health threat. Most expectant mothers have had some experience with heaving before the 12th week of pregnancy, so that's a non-issue; however, hydration must be carefully monitored, and dehydration - should it occur - must be addressed immediately.

Shouting is benign, as it is common in pregnancy, and even more common in childbirth.

So I'm left to ponder the "hog line." I am not a fan of the "rare pork" en vogue at your finer restaurants. Especially for pregnant women. In fact, I am not in favor of pork at all; but I try not to impose my dietary views on others. And living in the country, we see some wild hogs that look pretty mean. I would not advise tangling with them, either.

But, clearly, I can't see the "Big Curling Picture" by examining all these little pieces. So I have constructed a Home Curling Course to get a real feel for the physical demands of the sport, and how they could affect pregnancy. You might want to give it a try, yourself. So, here's how:

First, if you have carpet in your living room, you must remove it and install hardwoods. Or bamboo, which is much more eco-friendly and renewable. Then get the Murphy's Oil Soap and dilute it 1:1...not that 1:16 as recommended on the label. You want the wood good and slippery. Then create Targets at either end of the room. I used the symbol from Target plastic bags. I like to recycle. You probably won't be able to tape them to the slick floor, so you'll need a few brads, or a heavy-duty staple gun.

Next, create your Hog Lines. I didn't have any hogs, or pork (again, I don't mean to impose my dietary views) so I used the dogs. They were, as usual, asleep. I shoved one in front of each Target. I don't think they even noticed, because the floor was so slippery.

You will need Teflon shoes. You can either strap an upside-down Teflon griddle to each foot, or use the old Irish trick of duct-taping your feet. (I am not making this up. I learned it on Wikipedia.)

Get a broom.

And then, a big granite rock. I have a granite mortar and pestle that I use to grind cardamom pods for Swedish coffee bread. I intended to use it for the rock, but decided against it for sanitary reasons...I didn't really want Murphy's Oil Soap in the next batch of coffee bread. I couldn't find any other flat-bottomed granite, so I had to improvise...

AHA! the Roomba! It looks just like that granite thing, and it is self-propelled. Which is a blessing when you don't have any teammates to heave the opening stone. (And you thought Roombas were just for amusing cats!)

Now, get a fanny pack, fill it with water balloons, and strap it around your stomach. If you don't feel suitably weighed down, you might need two fanny packs full of water balloons. (PLEASE NOTE! IF YOU ARE AUSTRALIAN, SKIP THIS STEP!!! AND I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR A WORD ABOUT IT!!!)

To play:

Starting at the far dog line, turn on the Roomba. Look disappointed when it flashes "replace batteries". Replace batteries. Look disappointed when nothing happens. Put on your reading glasses, notice that the batteries are backwards and re-install. Turn on the Roomba. Without tripping over first dog, gently sweep the gyrating Roomba back in line, in the direction of the far Target. Shout something. Sweep curious cats out of the way. Shout something. Sweep Roomba, shout something, sweep cats, shout something, sweep Roomba, shout something, sweep cats, shout something...face the Roomba while sliding backward toward second dog line, shout something colorful while tripping over the second dog and landing on the Target. Clean up mess from ruptured water balloons.

The International Olympic Committee has determined that curling is not dangerous for pregnant women. I concur, with a caveat. Dogs should be removed from the field before play begins.

DISCLAIMER: Although I am a Maternity Expert, and I think that curling during pregnancy is fine in moderation, other Maternity Experts disagree. Please consult your personal Health Care Team for their views on curling during pregnancy. Writer denies responsibility for any injuries sustained while tripping over dogs, wearing fanny packs backwards or heaving mortars and pestles; illness from consuming pork, or shock from improperly wired Roombas.

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