Some you just don’t forget

Sophie has a meet this weekend. The annual Gender Blender meet. Boys vs. Girls. Sophie cannot wait for this meet. Me? I am a nervous wreck. She is trying to make the 50 fly JO cut at this meet. She will be the first kid in our family to get a 9-10 JO cut at 8 if she does it. And since we are done having kids, she would also be the only.

I will be the first to admit when my kids have a pie in the sky goal. In this particular case though she has everything it takes to reach her goal. I’m worried that if she doesn’t she will be really disappointed. Without discouraging her from doing her best I have also told her that it isn’t a big deal if she doesn’t make it. She has one more shot. Oh and two more years!

Above all I told her no crying. Her memory is better than mine, she said nothing could top last year! How long ago this seems. How could I have forgotten this one?

Just add water

I am pretty confident she will do well. There are a few obnoxious boys in her group that she would like to teach a thing or two. Grace assured her that they get worse not better as they get older. Gracie’s advice? Don’t beat them. Destroy them.

Grace wants to go cheer her on. I suspect in part because she will get out of her 6:30 am practice. Sarah is even pulling for her, even though this means baby sis will be faster than her in that event.

Keep your fingers crossed for baby fly girl.

As soon as you start moving

All three of my girls have been complaining of various aches and pains. They sound like 43 year old women. This, I know a lot about.

The truth of the matter is, they are working them hard in practice. I always know when the coaches have stepped it up a notch. My girls eat me out of house and home, yet look lean and strong. They also willingly put themselves to bed. And getting them up in the morning requires a bullhorn.

Sarah and I were walking into the pool tonight and she said “my abs hurt”. I need to give credit where credit is due. Her soccer coach put them through a core workout last night that made my abs cry just watching it.

I realized that when they complain about aches and pains I start every response with “as soon as you start moving…”. And then I send them downstairs so I can sit on my tired achey 43 year old butt for two hours.

Can I move down a lane?

Grace swims in a group of about thirty five. At the beginning of the season her coach had made lane assignments. Over time the kids were moving into different lanes to swim with their friends. Skill became irrelevant. The kids were having fun though.

The coaches decided to take matters back into their own hands and recreated lanes based entirely on times achieved during meets, using splits and various other techniques.

For a variety of reasons Grace ended up at the end of her lane. Primary reason, she landed with a group of kids who are fast. And that don’t put a lot of effort into practice. She found they wouldn’t let her pass them and she wasn’t getting out of practice what she was hoping to put into it.

She found an easy solution. She asked to move down a lane so she could lead the lane. She was concerned her coach would be upset. He wasn’t. He thought it was a great idea. She has found practice is more challenging since moving down a lane. I applaud her for advocating for herself and taking a risk, then making it work.

As a parent I have learned that in group setting I prefer to be a follower. There are too many Super Moms in this world and I am more than happy to let them have the title. I really don’t feel like putting myself out there as a leader anymore. My kids are better people than I am, they have learned that being a leader makes you a better person.

At least I am a good listener (eavesdropper). That is a good life skill right.

Note to self

She is 8. Sophie that is. Well, me too – mentally.

Sophie had a great meet this past weekend. Our club hosted a “pentathlon” meet – the kids swam a 25 in all four strokes plus 100 IM. A trophy was presented to the top three swimmers for each age.

I didn’t expect Sophie to win a trophy. She lived up to that expectation, coming in 9th overall – still a wonderful accomplishment on her part.

Sophie did get best times in everything she swam. I am always happy about that, mostly because I have no idea how she will react if she doesn’t! She hadn’t swam 25’s in a while in anything but fly. That was both good and bad, we suspected best times were a given in most strokes. She has swam 25 fly in December. This being her “signature” event, also was the one she really cared about. I am pretty sure she had something to prove. At the last mini meet she had placed 14th in 25 fly and 5th in 50 fly. Both were solid swims but Sophie was annoyed that she hadn’t done better, in 25 and in 50 fly.

So here we are the pentathlon meets. Sophie swam free, back and breast. Best times in all. Last call in individual strokes. 25 fly. Sophie was seeded tenth and in an outside lane. Well. It turns out Little Miss Youngest swimmer in our family is the competitive one. She wanted to win. She would have to settle for second. She killed it.

There is no reason Sophie won’t get the 9-10 Junior Olympics cut for 50 fly next time she swims it. Keep in mind, she is 8! Keep in mind mom, she is 8.

Keep in mind she is 8. I keep getting ahead of myself about where/what Sophie is going to do in the coming years. Yet here she is. A 8 year old with some promise. I just want her to love swimming. And I need to remind myself of that often. It’s easy to become the people we hate the most. I am keeping an eye on myself. And reminding myself of the time three years ago when I had to throw her in the pool to get her to swim. We have come a long way. And we have a long way to go. She is after all only 8. I don’t want her to be the “best” at 8. We all know hat happens to them. Right? Right?

PS that was a 16.59 in case you care. She did.

Gaining sight? Finding perspective?

Sarah’s soccer team has been going through a lot of transitions in the past year. At the beginning of this year they moved from a recreational league to a slightly more competitive league. The girls practiced twice a week instead of one and were expected to work daily on foot skills and conditioning. They lost every game but one.

For the winter season they opted to play Futsal instead of indoor soccer and will return to the same outdoor league come spring. The coach has decided spring will be her last season with the girls and is working with the parents to find the right transition into fall not only for the team but each individual girl. She asked us to consider as a family the following:

1. Are you willing to commit to five practices a week?
2. Are you willing to travel one weekend a month to tournaments?
3. Do you want to play soccer in college?

And the question not asked? As a parent are you willing to pay in excess of $5k a year to play soccer?

I will make it easy. No. To all of the above. Especially the question everyone is dancing around. A select group of parents are driving this increased level of commitment.

As much as I grumble about the cost of swimming, I spend less than that on all three girls swimming in a year. Yes, we are at the pool 7 days a week. Yes we travel occasionally for a swim meet – more often than not we don’t. But all three participate in swimming for less cost.

If asked to commit to one sport, Sarah would chose soccer over swimming. The problem is, I can’t commit to the expected level of commitment that a select few parents have decided we need to have if the team is to move forward as a group.

I decided not to react. Surely other parents would feel the same way I do. One can dream right?

Better than believing

Chris and I decided that rather than play the Christmas game, we would get out of dodge. We surprised the girls with a three night trip to New York City. His mother was more than generous, she bought us tickets to see the Rockettes perform on Christmas Day. My parents clearly know how to make any girl happy, they provided the shopping money!

We spent Christmas Eve in a hotel, somewhat unorthodox I know. After a dinner at an Irish pub we walked in the snow to a nearby Target. Apparently not an unorthodox tradition. The place was hopping. We bought all of the random necessities, gloves, hats, milk and coffee.

The girls crashed but not before Sophie left a note in our window. She needed Santa to know where we were. I won’t go overboard preserving the myth but I also won’t stop Sophie from enjoying her childhood memories. Sarah and Grace dutifully did their parts.

Santa was able to quietly sneak in and out of our room that night. I will admit, he is a stealth “guy”.

Thanks to the hotel supplied white noise and black out curtains we slept fairly late in the morning. The girls checked out their Santa loot and we enjoyed a leisurely morning. We made our way into the heart of a city that literally never sleeps. Or at the very least has a 24 hour Apple store! After a little adult self gifting we sat down to a wonderful Italian meal before the show. The Rockettes performance was amazing. Radio City Music Hall is beautiful and our seats (7th row) were incredible.

Our return to the hotel was something out of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Although it only involved trains, trains and sprinting to the platform. At 10 PM it dawned on us we hadn’t had dinner. The perfect Christmas dinner? Dominos Pizza.

We spent the next day shopping with the girls. The had a great time picking and buying their own gifts. Nice weather would have been great. Instead we got sleet. We still had a blast!

On our way home we all agreed this was the best Christmas ever. We threw convention out the door. Spent Christmas in a hotel, ate pizza and let the girls do their own shopping. And in the process made lots of wonderful memories.

I approached this holiday with a sense of dread. I will close out the year with great memories and a different sense of the meaning of Christmas.

Hope you all had a great year. 2013. On your mark….




I believe

I have a confession. I hate the “holidays”. I didn’t hate it when the “holidays” started on Thanksgiving and ended on New Years Day. I blame Target for making me dread the holidays. They take down the back to school display and put up Crapmas. Crapmas has replaced Christmas. It’s driven by am overwhelming desire to buy tons of crap as a means to show our love for others.

December is a tough month for swim families. We had three weekends of swim meets and we manage to sneak in practices even when the pool is closed. Mid December it dawned on us that we hadn’t put up a tree and the only thing on the mantle was a thin layer of dust.

I was able to get our tree up and threw a box of ornaments beside it. It became a work in progress, decorations were added here and there. Stockings were hung in the hopes that St. Nick would get her butt to the mall.

Personally, I opt to give each of the girls a wad of cash and be done with it. But for the fact that Sophie still “believes”. Chris and I have such a hard time with the charade. By some standards, we are considered “bad” parents. We don’t have an Elf. We don’t write letters to Santa. We don’t track Santa. We don’t oversell the myth. The legend. The Lie.

The other day at the pool I mistakenly got into a debate with a fellow swim mom. The long and short of it…her son was teetering on the Santa fence. Chris and I have been there twice. We can’t wait to go there a third time. For us it’s the end of a charade. For others, just the beginning.

This mom was willing to go to great lengths to continue the Santa facade. I don’t begrudge her that. But where I draw the line in the sand, she was willing to kick the shit out of it. She told her kids to tell any child that “didn’t believe” that they quite simply didn’t have god in their hearts and were going to hell. Awesome at its finest.

I have two non believers. One on the fence. When she asks I plan to give it to her straight. Is there magic in Christmas without Santa. I believe there is. As far as the parent who believes people who don’t believe in Santa are going to hell? Well, last I checked, yeah, umm, there is no such thing. Shocker that people hate the holidays huh?

Singing is ruining my life

Grace and Sarah both participate in their school Chorus.  This takes place during the school day so it rarely impacts my life.

As the holidays approach, the schools like to do a chorus concert.  In the past they had one concert for our entire school cluster, four elementary and one middle school.  Justin Bieber draws less fans.  They wised up and did separate concerts.

Monday night was Sarah’s.  This involves me coordinating getting two kids to swim practice and one to the school for warm ups.  While they don’t have heat sheets, they do have warm ups.  And programs.  I am good at creating my own time line.  I have each song five minutes which also allowed for transition between the band and the chorus.  The concert was going to last an hour.  I was glad I had taken a proper shower and dressed nicely, I don’t see these people often and I like to impress from time to time.

Wednesday morning, Sarah had to be at the school at 6:30 AM for a chorus field trip.  While we are used to early wake up calls courtesy of swimming, we don’t actually like them.  I suppose it was good practice for next year when she is in middle school.

Grace’s concert was Wednesday evening.  Sarah had soccer, Sophie swim and Grace chorus.  And dad is in Chicago.  Good times.  I coordinated rides to practice for Sarah and Sophie.  Along with a ride to chorus for Grace.  I had figured out a way to get Sophie and then get to the school in time to watch Grace’s performance and then pick Sarah up.  I swear moms should all be awarded Masters Degrees in logistics.

All was going according to plan and I had just arrived at the pool when I got a call from Grace.   I could not understand a word she was saying.  It was clear she was sobbing.  I had to hang up and have her text me.  She could not find the school issued top she was supposed to wear.  I suggested she wear any white top and that the school would have extras.  She insisted they wouldn’t and that the whole school would think she was an idiot.  My best friend, who was her ride to the school, also tried to calm her down.  Grace was not budging. She was NOT going.

She cried most of the evening, upset because this would impact her grade and because she was embarrassed.

I emailed the teacher.  I considered saying she was sick.  Grace and I neither one can lie.  I told him the truth and if he opted to give her a bad grade for missing a mandatory concert, I would accept it.  He responded that he understood and thanked me for my honesty.  My faith in humanity is solid.

Adolescence is a bitch.  I am intrigued by a child who is perfectly fine competing in a swim suit in front of many hundreds of people she doesn’t know yet the prospect of wearing the wrong shirt in front a hundred that have known her since she was six is terrifying.  Kids at this age just want to blend in.  I would think that a swimmer would have all the confidence in the world but when you cut to the heart of it, they are no different from any other kid.  I calmed her down and the teacher was understanding.  Life will go on.  She trashed her room looking for that top though, that will make a nice after school activity for her to clean it up. This too shall pass.  Tomorrow will be a whole new set of crazy.

For the record, I did shower, and looked cute.  What a waste…



Whoever created this saying was clearly not a swimmer.  On a swim meet weekend Friday night usually means “drive your ass to a swim meet for one freaking event” – aka 500 free in our case.

In the past, Grace hated 500 free.  I had for a long time encouraged her to do it and she refused.  She now asks to swim it.  I was thrilled she wanted to do it and decided it was a sign of maturity.

I was feeling some mommy guilt because it was Sarah’s birthday.  She, along with three of her soccer teammates, had won an contest.  The prize was a dinner date with the soccer coach.  Imagine my surprise (relief) when her coach chose the night her birthday to take them to the Melting Pot.  Sarah was thrilled to spend her evening with her coach and teammates.

I convinced Sophie that she would enjoy going with me.  And then she changed her mind.  I am grateful for good friends who will throw in a frozen pizza, rent a movie and take on an extra kid for a few hours.

Grace and I were on our own.

We had a pleasant drive there.  Unfortunately, someone had hit a deer on the road outside the pool complex.  Recently.  It wasn’t a pretty sight.  I convinced Grace to stop thinking about it.

The pool was not crowded, parking was a breeze and the air temperature inside was tolerable.  No one even minded when I walked down on deck and talked to the coach and hung out with Grace.  Normally this is something I do not do and it annoys me when others do.  I went down to time and they didn’t need me and Grace’s coach told me to hang out, they were bored.

I can honestly say I enjoyed the meet.  We were being silly and laughing.  I can’t believe I am going to say this, we were having fun.  Grace was teasing her coach about being so quiet and not yelling when they swam.  We were making fun of the whistler dude and all the other odd things coaches and parents do during meets.  Finally it was Grace’s turn to swim.  Her coach decided to do all of the things we made fun of.  He yelled her name, whistled and yelled some more.  I literally thought she was going to fall in the pool she was laughing so hard on the block.

She had a good swim and got a best time.  Her turns were awful and her coach said if he didn’t want to go home he would deck enter her in the 1650.  On one hand I would have loved to have seen her reaction.  On the other hand, it was past my bed time.  We were out of there.

I was hoping the deer carcass would be gone.  Instead it had been hit a few hundred times.

I left with a false sense of security.  Thinking the meet would be a pleasant one.

I didn’t realize this until Sunday night but I am pretty sure Grace only swam the 500 free as punishment to me for putting her in 200 IM and 200 fly as back to back events on Sunday.  It took four hours door to door for a race that lasted less than six minutes.  Cost me $5 each way in tolls, dinner for her and $12 in gas.  Why was I laughing?  Was she getting the last laugh?

Day two starts in ten hours.

pool 1