First day of summer break

I love summer!  I love the warm weather, lack of a schedule (other than the intense swim schedule), no homework and watching my kids have fun.

I was once criticized for making the joke that I start my summer countdown calendar on the first day of school.  My “friend” suggested that when I say that I live for summer I am sending the message to my children that no other seasons are worth living for.  I am pretty sure my kids understand my use of exaggeration and hyperbole.  Although I do hate winter.  I am solar-powered, I need the sun.

I don’t literally have a summer countdown calendar but it might be something fun I could create and sell to fellow summer lovers like myself.  It could be like an overgrown advent calendar.  There is probably a market for this.

My house always feels cleaner in the summer.  We usually eat at the pool, laundry is minimized and the bathrooms are much cleaner because my kids shower at the pool.  At least I thought they did.

I asked Sophie this morning when the last time she took a bath was.  She was looking a little rough.  She asked a question that sparked some concern.  “With soap?”  Note to self, make sure shampoo, conditioner and soap get added to the pool bag.

I may have to ship her to Florida to live with her grandparents if her hygiene doesn’t improve.

I suppose a shower is overrated if you spend 4 hours a day in the water.

Validation vs Vindication.

Is the difference a fine line or a tight rope? Does it really matter?

Coming into time trials this summer, all three girls had something to prove. Our summer coach is also one of the coaches of our old club team – the team we did not return to at the end of last season. The girls had not been coached by her in 9 months and were a little nervous about how it was going to go. Grace more so than the others as her club group practices year round and she would be coached by one and competing for both.

Their worst fear was that they would tank at time trials which would lead to the inevitable “I told you so” moment. My advice to them? Prove yourself.

They all three swam really well at time trials. A lot of improvement has been made in a year. Not because we changed teams necessarily but because the girls worked hard.

At time trials the expected compliments were not dolled out by coaches. Accolades were not given. In all fairness this was true of all swimmers.

On the other hand, dad and I could not have been more proud of the girls. They swam well and behaved themselves with the utmost of sportsmanship. This was not the case with all swimmers.

Grace really went into this wanting some vindication. She wanted to be acknowledged for her hard work and effort. It didn’t happen. What she got was far greater though. She left with the validation that the time, sweat and tears she has put into the pool in the last 9 months was for her. Something no one can ever take away. And something I couldn’t give to her.

Sometimes in life we get lucky. The FU moment we so desperately want doesn’t come. And we leave with something far greater. A sense of pride and ownership in our own accomplishments.

This is going to be a great summer for us. This summer is ours. We don’t have to be the best. Or the most loved. We just have to be happy

You say tomato

She says orange.

Sarah and I decided to grow a garden this year. Most of you are laughing right now I know. And you have good reason. We decided to grow strawberries, cucumbers, cilantro, basil and tomatoes. I wish we could grow buffalo mozzarella. Maybe next year.

One of our tomatoes fell off the vine while still green. I placed it on our outdoor table in the sunlight and within a few hours it turned into a magnificent orange color.

Sarah and I made the mistake of not consulting Sophie on our garden selection. Sophie is a big fan of mandarin oranges and while not indigenous to Maryland would certainly be beautiful growing in our backyard. Sophie in her infinite 8-year-old wisdom decided that we had in fact planted oranges and not tomatoes.

I started with the logical. The plastic stick in the pot clearly said tomatoes. Sophie – someone probably swapped them out.

Then I went to the obvious – if you look at how the plant is growing it is clearly a vegtable…and then Sophie chimed in tomatoes are actually a fruit – this puts me near the edge.

She and I go round and round for a long period of time. Finally I give in.

Sophie, tomorrow we cut it open and eat it and we will see what it is. That happened today. She said it tasted like an orange. It is a tomato. At least I though it was. Self doubt creaps in. What if it is a 2 ft tall orange tree? Why do they give old people kids?



Am I getting fat?

My middle daughter, Sarah, was 6 lbs 10 oz at birth and looked like a plucked chicken.  Except she was the color of a tomato.  For twelve weeks.  That kid screamed her fool head off for 12 straight weeks.  She is a ball of energy now and never stops moving.  She has two nicknames, scrappy and crazy.  Occasionally my friend mixes them up at soccer games and calls her scary.  Truth be told, she is that too.

Sarah has always been on the thin side.  Once the screaming stopped and the red disappeared we actually realized that her skin was paste white.  The chicken look stuck around – her legs literally made chicken legs look big. Her tiny features are complimented by beautiful big blue eyes with long, dark eye lashes and darling freckles.  She is irresistibly cute.

Imagine my shock when last night she looked me straight in the eye and said “am I getting fat”

This is a big deal to me.  I don’t want my girls to be unhealthy.  Fitness and health has always been very important to me.  I work as a group fitness instructor – as such I talk to women on a daily basis with negative body images.  The reality is, most women and men do have negative body images about themselves, real or imagined.  I try very hard to watch what I say around my girls.  After a long holiday weekend I may feel a little off my game and a little chubbier than normal but I very desperately try not to say “I feel fat” because even though from time to time I feel heavier than I normally am, I am not fat.

Nor is my daughter.  She is probably still underweight for her frame and height.  Yet here she was asking me if she were getting fat.

About a year ago Sarah started to fill out.  Her favorite foods had always been tomatoes, pickles, cucumbers, lettuce with vinegar and black olives. Oh and anything made with sugar.  I honestly thought that this kid wouldn’t go through puberty until she was 16.  About two months ago she came to me with concerns that one of her breasts was very sore and swollen.  Having already had a child go through puberty you might think I would know better but instead I ran her over to the Doctor.  The prognosis was good, Sarah will live.  Oh and get boobs.  She was starting puberty.  I have always had to special order slim clothing for her but suddenly I was returning clothes and buying them in larger sizes.  I took a long hard look and realized she was filling out.  Truth be told, for the first time in 10 years, Sarah looks to be at a healthy weight.

My older daughter Grace is tall and quite thin.  She enjoys being fit and trim, she knows what being healthy feels like – and likes it.  I catch her from time to time looking in the mirror and I can’t help but worry what she is thinking – am I getting abs?  Little Sophie still has baby fat.  It hasn’t bothered her until recently.  I see a tiny glimmer of concern in her eye when I have to help her button shorts that are a little snug.  Sophie is a solid girl, she is taller and weighs more than her sister, two years older than her.  She is also 8.  She has lots of growing to do and by all accounts still is a baby.

I had hopes that raising my girls with an interest in sports would help prevent body image concerns but my optimism was short-lived.  I realize that my three girls are not the exception to the rule, that they, just like most other women and girls are going to have concerns about the way their bodies look.  My task is to keep them on the right track.  I worry about both sides of the equation.   I would be just as concerned if my girls were intentionally underweight as I would be if they were overweight.

As parents we try to teach our children that they need to eat well and exercise so that their bodies will be healthy.  That their bodies will respond to proper nutrition and exercise.  That living well will equate to looking well.  So while little Sarah is needlessly worried about a change in her body, I am constantly worried that I can keep them focused on health in a natural and normal way.  It doesn’t consume me, I am not obsessed but I am also willing to admit I think about it.

I think for now it’s all good.  An hour later a friend who hadn’t seen Sarah in a year complimented how muscular she had become and she was beaming with pride and flexing her newly found bicep.

My iphone is like crack

Well it is cracked.  For the second time.

The first time it bounced of the garage floor.  I went sobbing into the store and walked out with a new one.  Feeling smug.  They got the last laugh.  They gave me a piece of crap.

The top button doesn’t work.  It doesn’t hold a charge.  It gets stuck all the time.  And it has a tiny crack on the screen.  I only take the blame for the last one.  I went into the store and they wanted $200 to fix it.  I decided to deal with it.

I am now “upgrade eligible” and can get a new phone.  I am getting another iphone.  I researched all of the other options and nothing spoke to me.  So later today, Siri, who I find completely annoying, will speak to me.

Why does apple do to make their products so addicting.  You have an hour and a half to talk me into something else….go…

PS – Why in the world can’t they make a screen that doesn’t break?

The pool didn’t get smaller

Part One

Grace is coming in to the wall and I decide to look up 1.14 and ticking. She is close. 1.15. Still hauling. She is definitely close. She finally touches at 1.15.95! So close!

It was a jump for joy and an oh shit moment all wrapped up in one. She blew through her goal time and missed the zone cut by three tenth of a second. Hallmark does not make a card for this occasion. That pool was just too long!

I had no idea what her reaction would be. She actually came to find me. I was shocked. She needed money. And then she asked to go home. As much as I would have love to have taken her home at that point she still had to swim 100 free and a relay. Reminding her of this brought on the tears. She was done.

She decided to cheer herself up with a donut. It might have made her happier but it didn’t make her faster. She added a second on free and I watched 8 teams swim the most non-enthusiastic relays ever. It was OVER. We were so excited. UNTIL….

Her coach told us she was swimming another long course meet next Sunday. I am all for second chances but this news would have been better received in a few days.

All in all, it was a great weekend. Grace did better than she had expected. And I ate less than normal.

Oh and about the small world…I was talking to this wonderful family that also has three girls, same age as mine. They swim for the same club but at a different location. Grace swam a relay with their oldest at a recent meet and was excited to connect a name she had seen for years to a face. As I was talking to them towards the end of the meet they asked me if I wrote a blog. Slightly more embarrasing than being caught reading “50 Shades of Grey”! I am interested in seeing if they run the other way next time they see me at a meet! Their oldest daughter is has an injury that kept her from the last day of the meet. I hope she is back at the next meet and feeling 100%.

It’s a big pool. And a small world.

The weekend update.

Friday night started like any other, the middle school and elementary school carpool was in full effect. Until my neighbor, who was at the middle school, called me. The school was on lockdown, tornado cloudy things had been spotted a few miles from our school. It was also pouring down rain. I sent my husband to the elementary school to sit and wait. I did my hair. Seriously. I had just gotten out of the shower.

Grace got home late. I have a fear of being late. We hauled ass to warm ups. We were 4 minutes late. That is really late for me. She warmed up for an hour and then we sat and watched 400 free for two and a half hours. I thought 400 free long course was the most boring thing ever to watch but later in the weekend I was proven wrong and watched 200 breast. After the event finished, they warmed up again. I got to page 102 on 50 Shades of Grey. I kept the book cover hidden. I didn’t get far enough to know why I am embarrassed to be reading this but I know that I am.

At some point during the second warm up I noticed this yellow string across the pool and I literally laughed out loud. A year ago at this same meet Grace was swimming 50 back and saw the yellow string above her. Thinking it was the flags she did her underwater finish. At some point she realized it was the half way mark, she popped up and finished her race. It was really cute. Her time, not so much.

I sent her a text and reminded her of this incident. Two hours later (five hours after our arrival) when Grace finally swam 200 back, I swear I saw her smile every time she went under the yellow string. It is our little secret! She did well and we got to leave. In a torrential downpour. Fun stuff.

Saturday dad took her to the meet and he got to experience 4 warm ups. Seriously, at this point in the weekend she has warmed up 6 times for 4 races. He texted me several times that he was annoyed by the frequent warm ups. I was annoyed too. I could be finished with Mr. Grey had I gone. Maybe onto book 2. Grace swam 50 back in a relay (she did not sign up for it at this meet since she just swam it a few weeks ago). She took a few tenths of a second off her time which was a nice confidence boost. She needed some security in that zone cut.

Day three I did the drive by drop off for warm ups. And then I went shopping. I wasted most of my time looking for J.Crew when all I needed to do was call my friend Renee who could have told me there wasn’t one on the Pike. I thought the Pike had everything. I arrived fashionably late and was thrilled to find two good friends to sit outside with and enjoy the fresh air. I like people who would rather talk about plaid madras shorts over swimming. I wasn’t going to get any reading done I could see.

Grace warmed up about 34 more times and then 200 breast started. Wow is that an exciting race. We sat in the sun enjoying a nice breeze until it started to rain. There was a lady passed out face down in the grass when we ran in. She might still be there. She may have been drunk. Who came blame her, a long course meet can do that to you. We ran inside and were able to find some seats above the starting blocks. Grace had several good swims. The truth is her, along with most of the other kids there, had long course seed times from a year ago. Everyone had good swims. Taking 20 seconds off 100 fly is a nice ego boost, as artificial as it may be.

Grace really only had interest in one race. 100 back was her race for the weekend. The zone cut is 1.15.59. Her thought was to hit about 1.17 and then spend the next three weeks training hard and trying to figure out how to take the rest off at JO’s. At the very last moment her dad’s advice – use the bar for your start, not the wall – seemed like a good idea. She has always used the wall, I suspect out of lack of confidence. She grabbed that bar and tucked her head. She had a nice start and was doing fantastic. Remember we were standing by the starting blocks so about 3/4 way down the pool I lose sight of the swimmers. At some point I assume she did a turn and she came back into view. I need binoculars for the next Long Course meet.

As she gets closer to the wall I look at the clock and my only thought is….oh no. Oh no.


Who do I love more Linkin Park or my kid?

I teach spin (Indoor cycling) and Linkin Park is my all time favorite band on the bike!  I joke all the time that I want them to play a live concert that I can teach a class to.

I decided to check if they were coming to DC metro this summer.  Of course they are.  Right in the middle of Zones.

Let’s see…watch my kid swim?  Go see Linkin Park?  Hmmm….What to do, what to do…Oh Grace, you are oh so lucky I love you.  Although, let’s be real, at meets I am nothing more than a breathing ATM.  No, I am sure my presence means the world to her…Wait, I can probably drive this and no one will know…

Don’t kill my concessions

Last year I took over concessions for the Saturday morning summer meets.

My kids love it. They “help” for “free” food. I am entertained when my kids act all welfare over free food. Last I checked ALL of their food is free. Although it is tempting to present them with a bill at the end of each meal. I would also expect a nice gratuity from them. I may implement this policy.

It is also fun for me. I work at several nearby gyms as a group fitness instructor. I love to see people from the gym at meets but none of them come up to me at concessions. Rather they send their kids over. They are literally afraid to buy a donut or chicken biscuit from me. But they still buy them which is good, the concessions are our best fund-raiser.

This summer we have a new swim coach who is going to be educating the kids on proper nutrition before, during and after a race. While I applaud this effort, I am worried about what will happen to my 8 dozen donuts if her message actually gets through. Maybe we can discount them to our opposing team and their parents. Is there a market for kale chips and spinach smoothies at concessions? It would make me quite happy if there were.

In somewhat related news, Grace got all best times this weekend. Except in her last race. She ate a chocolate donut about fifteen minutes before hand. I would like to say she won’t make that mistake again. I suspect she will.

Brownie Troop Dropout

I have learned not to blindly sign my kids up for activities anymore.  At the end of fall soccer I signed Sophie up for spring soccer.  When spring rolled around and I mentioned the season was about to start, without pause she said “but I didn’t want to play anymore”.  Fortunately, I was able to talk her into one more season and I got my $65 out of it (barely).  She has officially retired from soccer.  For the time being.  It’s all good, she didn’t have what it takes to play soccer, she would rather sing and chase butterflies.  I can’t blame her.

Early bird registration for Brownies is due so I asked her if she planned to continue with her troop in the fall.  This will be their 4th year together and the leader is wonderful.  I am sure the leader is an active participant on pinterest, she might even be friends with Martha Stewart in real life.  She puts me to shame.

I was a little surprised that Sophie’s immediate response was NO.  I made the mistake of asking “are you sure”.  Self doubt creeped in and she asked me to decide for her.  I told her to think about it for 30 minutes and come back to be with in answer.  In 24 minutes she came back to me with a no.

Her leader someone I consider a personal friend so I knew I was going to have to give her some sort of reason.  I simply told her that Sophie wasn’t much a joiner and that a sorority probably wasn’t in her future.  I don’t think she understood.  As a very outgoing person myself, I don’t always understand Soph either.  But I do respect her.

Sophie has a best friend.  That best friend has never changed and they have never argued.  Sophie is fine being home with us.  She doesn’t care when her sissies go off and she is left behind.  She doesn’t need a lot of people and she doesn’t really need things.  She likes to swim.  She likes to be in a lane with quiet kids who play by the rules.  She doesn’t need to know their names.

Sophie isn’t the 8-year-old swim champion of the world.  But she is happiest when she is in the water.  When she isn’t practicing she can often be found alone, floating around the pool, singing a song.  I like that she knows herself at 8 and has found her peace with that.  I’m a little jealous.