I’ll own it

I was accused yesterday of being a proud mom.  I’m pretty sure it was intended as an insult.  It didn’t have the desired effect.  I took it as a compliment.  I am proud of my girls.  They certainly aren’t perfect.  They get that honestly – I am as far from perfect as you can get.  But I try.  Well, not really.

Going into last nights meet I was proud of Grace.  She has developed a great attitude about summer swimming.  She has learned to enjoy it and not get caught up in who she is beating.  As a result, she has had one hell of a summer.  As a result of that, she qualified to swim 100 back and free at a USA-S sanctioned meet – top 8 in each age and stroke were invited to race.

Grace had her eye on the prize.  She wants a knee skin.  Dad told her she needed a AAA cut before she turned 14 and he would shell out mega bucks for the suit.  Grace was concerned she wouldn’t do well, that all the other girls would be in knee skins.  And they were, she was right.  But Grace was wrong – she did just fine in her rinky dink Recordbreaker.  She thought she would get the cut in 100 back.  She didn’t. But she gave it a noble effort and did make the Zones cut that was hanging over her head.  But before she swam backstroke she shocked herself by getting that AAA cut in 100 free.  She ran upstairs after the race and was literally jumping for joy.

Tomorrow we start a long 4 day weekend of JO’s and a summer meet.  The mood has already been set for Grace – she is fired up and ready to go.

Am I proud of her?  Hell yeah.  You are going to have to try harder to insult me.  I’ll own it.  And that knee skin?  Grace will own it too.  Not in time for this weekend unfortunately.  She will just have to own that pool in the suit she has.  Watch out world when she gets it.  It might not matter her faster but she wants it.

Me?  I would rather have new shoes…

Are you Grace’s mom?

I was walking into the gym today and was approached by someone asking if I was Grace”s mom. I’m a horrible mother – I immediately assume my children have done something wrong. Grace broke two team records last weekend. In 50 back and 50 free. The backstroke record had belonged to this ladies daughter. When she told me this I still wasn’t sure how to react. My immediate reaction was to apologize. She was offering her congratulations. The record was from 2005 – her daughter, now an adult, enjoyed her moment of glory and was ready to pass it along.

At the end of last season Grace broke a pool record at an away meet. She broke the record at Divisionals, the final meet of the season. The other team moved up to the highest division in our league. She joked that her name would never make the record board – that the record would be beat at the first home meet. She should have put some money on it, her prediction was spot on – her record fell. By .08.

The pool had not updated their record board or their heat sheets. The meet was covered on a news site that specializes in reporting on local swimming. The site is owned by a credible large media outlet. Because they did not have the correct information the record holder and time were credited to the previous record holder. Incidentally, after Divisionals, the same site ran a story on our meet, mentioned the falling record and included a photo of Grace breaking the record.

I sent a brief email to them including the meet results showing that Grace held the record. They amended the article and they apologized. I told them no need to apologize. But I also felt it was the right thing to do. It wasn’t 8 years ago. It was 10 months ago. It was still important to Grace.

Many of the families we club swim with are on this particular summer team. One “friend” of mine publicly criticized me for sending the email. Everyone else thought it was the right thing to do. I’m unapologetic. As well as I know my “friend” I know she would have made a much bigger deal of it than I did. Grace never did get her name on that record board. She wasn’t upset, she found humor in the accuracy of her prediction. She was also comforted by the fact that while her record was broken she broke two of her own that day.

We don’t have a pretty record board at our pool. It’s actually paper stapled on a cork board. The best Grace can hope for this season is that they print a new sheet with her name and record and tack it over top the old sheet. I suspect that won’t happen – my guess is her name will be added with a sharpie. I’ll give it a few weeks. If it doesn’t happen I do happen to have a sharpie in my bag.

In the end, yes – I am Grace’s mom. And Sarah’s mom. Sophie too. I don’t care if you judge me. I’m not an obnoxious swim mom. But my kids work hard. Grace deserved the credit. As does the young lady who broke Grace’s record. I hope she is as proud as Grace was that day. Grace is a pretty good little backstroker and to those that beat her I say job well done. And to all those kids who put out great records that Grace is trying to beat? I say thank you for unknowingly motivating her to try harder every day. That’s more than a mom could ever hope for.

Raised expectations.

Our summer swim league had its official start yesterday. We had an early morning wake up call for time trials. Grace actually viewed it as an opportunity to sleep in, she generally has a 6:30 AM practice on Saturday mornings so a 7:15 warm up time allowed her another 45 minutes of sleep.

Our summer swim league swims A and B meets. A meets are Saturday mornings. The 6 fastest freestylers and 3 fastest in the other strokes swim on Saturday. Everyone else swims on Wednesday evening. Each week you can swim a total of three strokes plus the IM. If you only qualify for two events at the A meet you can also swim the third plus the IM on Wednesday. With three kids being at the bottom of their age group I assumed that we would be swimming both meets. I had expectations that Grace would make the A meets. There are 3 girls that have swam together for years. Grace is the baby of the three and usually rides the #3 position with them when she is bottom of her age group. Every other year she has held on to the #1 spot.

Sarah and Sophie have always been wild cards. Last year, at top of their age group they made the A meets but were definitely fighting for their lives each week. I had no expectations for this year. I was confident both would make freestyle top 6 but I was otherwise pretty unsure. I signed up to volunteer at both A and B meets.

I knew all three girls had worked hard this year but I also knew their team mates had done the same. I preach to the girls that hard work pays off and that I don’t care where they place as long as they are constantly improving.

Going into time trials with no expectations is great. We left though with raised expectations. All three girls did amazing. Grace literally rose to the top, she placed first in back and free, second in IM and fly, with a shocking third in breaststroke. She swam her heart out. Sarah placed second in everything but fly, she was third. Little Sophie got first in fly and free! IM is a 12 and under event but she had a great swim!

Summer swim unfortunately IS somewhat about “place” and scoring for the team. That is the one part of it I don’t like. Sarah is very competitive and it sometimes brings out the smack talking side of her. She got her one shot at saying something stupid yesterday. I put the fear of an iPhone free summer in her if she did it again. I think she got the point.

I was really happy to see the girls swim so well! They have worked so hard this year and it is awesome to see it all come together. I’m glad they didn’t go in with high expectations. A few kids did and they left disappointed. We left completed excited to see what this summer will bring.

What do you have to lose?

Almost two months has passed since we made a lifestyle change. We shifted our eating habits from those of convenience to habits that are more in line with the healthy lifestyle we are trying to lead.

We weren’t trying to “lose weight” as a family. All of us are very physically active. It’s a blessing. And a curse. When you are maintaining a healthy weight – all the while being very active it is easy to over look the occasional transgressions in diets. And by occasional I really mean daily

I admit it. I got lazy. Cooking dinner is nearly impossible when you are away from the house every evening.

I made the decision after watching Grace eat an entire pizza after a meet. That wasn’t even the trigger point for me. A friend made the comment “I wish I could eat whatever I wanted and be that thin”.

The truth is an entire pizza after a grueling meet won’t hurt a kid. At all. What will is the mindset that we can eat whatever we want and not gain weight. We need to stop thinking in terms of weight and think in terms of health. It changes the whole vibe when you consider that. Because we can’t eat whatever we want and still be healthy. Please don’t try and convince me the Snickers diet is healthy. We all know better.

Eight weeks later we are still making the right choices. My kids aren’t being neglected they actually *compliment* me on dinners and have all but stopped asking for junk. They are absolutely allowed to eat crap anytime it presents itself. No one in their right mind would turn down made from scratch brownies at a backyard barbecue. I wouldn’t want them to. Deprivation is a recipe for disaster.

In the end, we didn’t have anything to lose. And we did it anyways. I thought that a major overhaul of our families diet was going to be impossible. It wasn’t even close. It was actually quite easy. I am really happy we did it.

Just sleep on it

Thursday night I left the pool pretty fired up. I felt like Sophie was being caught in the crossfires of being good but not quite good enough.

Friday rolled around. Sophie refused to go to the advanced juniors practice. The coach had not told her what practice to attend and being a quite literal kid who is only 8 was concerned that she should not go to the practice. The head coach is not there on Friday nights. Sounds totally stupid to a grown up. Makes perfect sense to am almost 9 year old. After a battle of the wills (mine) and a few tears shed (hers) it was decided we would stay at home.

Thirty minutes later she got it together and asked to go. It was too late to go to the advanced juniors but we had plenty of time to make juniors. Should come as no surprise – I took her.

It was her first Friday night practice in either group. Attendance was light and there was a great deal,of stroke work with juniors. She got a lot out of practice and enjoyed it.

We showed up this morning for the 7 am practice and she did advanced juniors. After practice I talked to the coach and worked out a fantastic “time share” program for her that will have her in the group full time sooner than later.

I apologized for being rude in our previous conversation. He assured me I wasn’t. This means one of two things. Either I still can pull the bitch card some day. OR being nice pays off. I really respect our coaches. I’m hoping to leave the bitch card unplayed.

The most important thing of all – Sophie gets to practice with the advanced juniors on Tuesday. Her birthday. Traditionally birthdays in the group are celebrated with donuts. That is what really matters. Oh and I can sleep well tonight. No worries. For now.

Set me free why don’t you babe

Get out of my lane why don’t you babe?

As we move into the spring long course season our club has started to rearrange the groups. Kids who are going to high school will start to transition to one of the two groups intended for the kids who are no longer in middle school.

Several of the kids in the group are younger than Grace but a year ahead of her in school. Grace has an early November birthday. She started school in Ohio and the cut off was in August. In Maryland the cut off all those years ago was November 1st and as such, many parents with kids born in November pushed for their kids to start school early. It wasn’t an option for Grace. She is one of the older kids in her Grade. This had been a positive experience for her.

One of the girls who is moving up is a few weeks younger than Grace. She has been telling Grace daily that she HAS to move us. It has become annoying for Grace. Actually, it is making her mad. The kid is being quite mean about it.

Even if Grace wanted to move up, she couldn’t. Grace has one more year in middle school and can’t even get to the practice. Not that it matters. She isn’t moving up. She likes her group and wants one more year there. Grace will be 18 her senior year of swimming. She has plenty of time to be a high school swimmer. When she is in high school. I finally went to the coach and told him to put an end to it. He wasn’t too happy to hear about it.

Grace can swim in minis for all I care. But it is no ones business other than hers, mine and the coaches. This kid needs to move along. And shut her trap.

I have a dad trying to figure out which group Sophie is heading to. I’m having fun ignoring his prying questions. Next person that worries about my kids can pay my swim tab – then they can have a say.

And the taper paid off…

Grace started a taper about two weeks before JO’s. I would rather spend time with a million buzzing bees than a swimmer during a taper. The first few days are fine – it usually hits around day 5. Quite literally grace did not know what to do with her pent up energy. Usually a fairly calm person, Grace spent the days leading up to JO’s talking non stop. Mostly about clothes. Can we go to the mall? Can you buy me some Vans? Do you like this shirt? Can I borrow your Lululemon pants? I need a new bathing suit for summer. Around day 5 she started doing P90X. Dad advised her not to but she couldn’t help herself. Swimmers are true endorphin junkies. I now know why they say swimmer for life. They don’t know how not to swim hard.

Fortunately the taper paid off. The kids in Grace’s group all did really well at the meet. Grace had a solid swim in 100 back and then took off 3 seconds. In February she had shaved off a little over 3.5 seconds – since January she has dropped 6.5 in her 200 back. She was slightly disappointed to not make finals but next year she should do exceptional at the meet.

She is swimming 7 more events this coming weekend at our championship meet. The kids aren’t allowed to swim events they qualified for at JO’s. Grace is seeded first in several events having just barely missed the JO times. I am hoping that we can survive one more week of easy practice. She seems to have quiet down some which scares me. Perhaps lethargy is setting in!

Sarah is also swimming this weekend. I’m hoping her streak of amazing swims continues. I would love to see her get a JO cut for next year to boost her confidence.

This will be my final meet with double sessions. Oh, hold you applause. I will have triple sessions from here on out. Sophie will be the big 0-9 in April.

After this weekend the girls head to Florida for a visit with Grandma and Papa. Chris and are sneaking off to New Orleans for a few days. And then we begin long course!

Going out with a bang

Sarah played in a soccer tournament this past weekend. We had committed her as a “guest” player for a team of kids comprised largely of girls from our summer swim team prior to her being diagnosed with severe inflammation in her Achilles’ tendon. She knew these would be her final few games until next fall when we could have her feet and ankles reevaluated by our orthopedic specialist.

Sarah wasn’t able to practice with these girls prior to the tournament. I never thought to ask the single most important question, the position they needed her to play. As fate would have it, they needed her on defense, a position I don’t recall her ever playing.

Aside from the fact that it was miserably cold, it was fun to watch her play. The kids and parents were very welcoming. She knew the coach and his daughter very well so she felt very comfortable with them. Sarah took on her position as if it were second nature. She communicated well with the other players. She played with heart and sole and a whole lot of scrappy. I hadn’t seen her this relaxed on the field in well over a year.

Even though Sarah loved her old soccer coach and team, it also had become a stressful environment. There was a lot of pressure on the kids. By the coach, the other kids and by the parents. Too much by the parents. They all envision their kids future collegiate soccer players. I saw them as a nice average group of kids. Which is why I suppose we didn’t fit in all the time.

Sarah has always been nicknamed scrappy. It suits her well. This past weekend was no exception. I’m proud of her for not being intimidated playing a new position and for working hard as an individual player and in an unfamiliar team environment. I saw her having fun. Something she hadn’t done with soccer in a long while. Well done Sarah. Well done. Lets put the cleats away now and get you better. And maybe consider defense in the future. She was a natural at it.

It’s been nice knowing you!

This weekend was our local Mini Champs meet. Sophie got it in her head that this was her farewell tour. She ages up in April – this was not only her final mini meet but the final mini meet for our family. We have had a “mini” for 8 consecutive years.

I wasn’t going to the meet Saturday – dad was going, I had to work. After teaching two classes I was besieged by mommy guilt and decided to go. Any sense of melancholy over this being our babies last mini meet was immediately squashed upon arrival at the pool. The parking lot was full. After parking and taking a long hike to the pool I remembered why I don’t like mini meets! The older kids generally have one parent spectating. The 8 and under crew brings every relative in a 100 mile radius. The parking lot may have been at capacity – the pool was beyond capacity. I was very grateful that I was volunteering on deck the following morning as a lane checker. Sophie had three very consistent swims, she took a few seconds off her IM – despite losing her goggles on the dive.

Day two we were sure to get to the pool plenty early. Sophie asked to be dropped at the door. It almost made me sad, up until now she had always wanted to walk in with me.

Turns out lane checking is even worse than sitting in the hot crowded stands. Cat Herding is an easier task than Kid Herding! I had several criers, a hyper ventilator, two over bearing coaches and no less than ten kids who weren’t sure of their first or last name. I asked “are you Anna” and got the sweetest reply. She said “no, my name is Anna”. Got it. And I picked this week to give up wine?

Sophie swam fly in the A relay and earned a nice fists place medal. She had another day of consistent swimming. A few small time drops, earning three medals and two ribbons. All I had hoped for was that she didn’t tank at her last hurrah as a mini.

When we walked out the door I was immediately regretful for complaining about the early warm ups. We were out by noon and greater by a beautiful spring day. My baby girl and I skipped to the car. We celebrated with a lunch date – just the two of us. We then went for a hike, ending the hike at out favorite winery. The kids ran around and played soccer with other kids. This also ended my ban on wine, some days are meant for a nice glass of wine with friends.

I thought I would be sad. I wasn’t. I am proud of how far Sophie has come. She is no longer that little girl who cried before meets and needed her hand held in the parking lot. She is competitive, strong and most importantly -happy – in the pool! Bye bye minis. We are outta here!

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Girl Power

The countdown continues. Sophie swam at her second to last “mini meet”. Mini Champs in April will be our forever fond well to the 8 and under set. Sophie will be 9 in April.

This weekend the kids swam in a “gender blender” meet. In other words, girls vs boys. Sophie was excited, there were a few boys she was ready to have a showdown with.

Saturday she was swimming 50 fly as one of her events. She was going for the JO cut. I was pleased that both Sarah and Grace came to cheer her on. Grace may have done it to get out of her 630 AM practice and Sarah may have come for the donuts, I will never know for sure. But they did come to cheer.

Sophie had a good day, three best times, including a two second drop in her 50 fly. She missed her goal by a second but has one more meet – and two more years – to work on it.

After the meet Sarah went to lunch with dad and I took Grace and Sophie. I decided to go ahead and talk to Sophie about the white elephant in the room, she beat Sarah’s best time by .20. I told her if she had any thought of celebrating this was her moment. She laughed and said “I don’t care about Sarah – I beat every boy but one – and I beat all of them in my group!” Apparently 8 year old boys like to talk smack.

Sunday she tanked. I guess she did what she wanted to on Sunday. She did take. Post meet nap, something she hasn’t done in a while.

We later learned the girls out scored the boys. For the first time ever! Go girl power. Better showdown than the Super Bowl. If you are an 8 year old girl.

Sarah congratulated her on her swim. I suspect her 50 fly at the February meet will be amazing. I saw a little spark in her eye. But no fireworks in the house. Thank you for that swim gods!