mommyverbs

Engaging Each Day with Action Words

Attack. — Know the signs.

Here’s a story from a while ago. Yes, I’m recycling a blog post, but for a good reason.

A good reason that I’m not quite ready (still slightly traumatized, although I’m fine, everyone’s ok now…)
to tell the whole story just yet, so I may or may not try to explain another time.

For now, I’m just reminding you of the signs.

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So, know the signs. Pay attention to the signs. Don’t ignore the signs. Respond quickly to the signs.

Elizabeth Banks teamed up with Go Red For Women in this short film on women, motherhood and recognizing the signs of a heart attack.  Just. In. Case. We’ve all had mornings like this… Know the signs.

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The phone rang.

It was a friend. But a busy, on the go friend, who is usually more likely to go for the quick text than an actual ‘stop and have a conversation’ phone call. Weird. But the conversation that came after my answering with a casual “Hey there” was even weirder.

First of all, there was a very unfamiliar panicked concern in her voice. It wasn’t right at all.

“Are you ok?” She asked me.

Yeah.

“Are you ok, really?!”  She almost…almost sounded like she was ready to cry, which started to concern me.

I responded with a  suspicious tone… Yeah. I have a little cold, but…

“Did anything bad happen today?!” I thought, well, clearly something bad has happened or you wouldn’t be calling me and asking me questions like this!

Ok, now you’re freaking me out.

“Oh my God. Ok. I’m calming down. Oh my God. Letting the cortisol come down a little….”

What in the world!? What is going on?!

“I just heard that you had had a heart attack on the soft ball field today!”

WHAT?! WHAT?!  (I’m betting that I started to sound like that Mom over the phone on “A Christmas Story” … )

The conversation continued and I reassured her again and again that I was fine. Just sitting here, relaxing on the couch. No signs of a heart attack. I haven’t been to the softball fields today. I’m not sure where this is coming from. This is crazy, but I’m fine.

Fine. But now a little freaked out at just the thought that someone out there thinks I had a heart attack. That is crazy. Right?

Y was sitting right beside me and I was too shocked to keep the conversation from her as I probably should have done. So, I used this as an opportunity to talk about rumors and how rumors get started and how rumors can unintentionally hurt or scare people…yada yada yada, …. insert brilliant parenting moment here.

But in my head, I kept thinking…Heart Attack? Me? Who would think that I could have a heart attack? How many people out there think that I have had a heart attack? Am I going to have people showing up with flowers and offers of dinner? Do I need to post something to let everyone know I’m ok?

And then it moved on to things like: I can’t have a heart attack! I’m just 40! I’m a health coach! I eat well and play more and choose happy and all that jazz! Sure, I haven’t been to the gym everyday for a while, but life’s been busy and there’s been traveling and people have had colds and fevers and such…yada yada yada, insert other plausible excuses here.

A heart attack? Me?

It took all evening and three different phone calls from three different concerned, loving friends to finally track down the origin of this story. As it turns out, a good Momma was trying to let her husband know about A’s Mom, (who is 80+ years old and might have had a heart attack). But on a noisy softball field, he misunderstood and heard “Y’s Mom” and thought … well, Me. He was shocked and shared the news out of concern to the hubs of one of my good friends who in turn, called his wife and shared the news out of shock and concern. She called a friend to see what was happening, and that is when my phone rang and this whole crazy story began.

Of course, we were all concerned about A’s Mom and keeping her close in our prayers. But we were all relieved that I was fine and this was just a misunderstanding.

And while we laughed off the whole misunderstanding of it all, I think it messed with us all just a bit. And that is when I started noticing the signs. I swear, all evening long, even while the girl child was watching the Disney channel, every other commercial on TV was something related to heart attacks or heart disease. I’m not kidding.  Then I started thinking about walking through the airport at O’Hare last week. There was a poster on the wall, that randomly caught my eye and made me stop to comment about how the ad was targeted to women.

Finally, this morning, I woke up and was having a little trouble going back to sleep. So, I checked my phone and found another sign: An advertisement about women and heart attacks.

Yeah, I think I’m supposed to share this story. Just in case. Just in case it helps one person.

More than 250,000 women in the U.S. die of a heart attack each year. Many don’t know the symptoms of a heart attack, which are often different for women compared to men, or how to prepare for them.

Warning Signs of a Suspected Heart Attack

  • Chest pressure, tightness and heaviness
  • Pain in shoulders, neck, jaw* or arms*
  • Lightheadedness
  • Paleness
  • Faintness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea*
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest pain*
  • Extreme fatigue*

*More common in women

If you suspect you’re having a heart attack call 911 and crush or chew aspirin as directed by a doctor. Aspirin, when taken as directed by a doctor during a suspected heart attack and for 30 days thereafter, can reduce damage to the heart and reduce the risk of death by 23 percent.

 Later, a friend shared that the she thought, “Crap. If Z has a heart attack, we are all screwed.” Which is funny, … but we know it happens. It has happened. So, take care of yourselves, people. Eat Well. Play More. Choose Happy.

For More Information:    www.heart.org or IamProHeart

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Satisfy. — The Rolling Stones Had It Right.

8986328-satisfaction-guaranteed-rubber-stamp

You can’t always get what you want.

But if you try sometimes,

Well, you just might find.

You get what you need.

Which then begs the question(s):

Why isn’t that enough for most folks? To get what we need?

Why do we want more?

Why do  we always think we need more?

Why can’t we sit and be still?

Why can’t we enjoy the moment we are in?

Why can’t we stop waiting for the next moment to begin?

Why can’t we be … satisfied?

…Which is probably why The Stones followed up with these prolific words:

Hey hey hey, that’s what I say
I can’t get no satisfaction

And if we are walking around, feeling satisfied, is that a bad thing?

Does that mean we are being complacent?

Does that mean we are not pursuing more, doing more, achieving more?

So many are blessed beyond imagination.

And yet, many are still not… satisfied.

Many look around and see plenty who have things that they think they want.

Different jobs. Bigger houses. More opportunities.

And each one of those things come with other…things.

Different responsibilities. Bigger payments. More risks.

Instead, maybe we should all seek to have our souls satisfied.

We should pursue a dream.

We should spend time in prayer and meditation.

We should love and hug and hold those dear to us.

We should laugh and surround ourselves with people who make us laugh, often.

We should ask and really listen to the answers.

We should eat well and play more and choose happy.

We should rest and reflect and notice more.

We should actively care for others and ourselves.

We should forgive and welcome and invite.

We should find time, make time and take time.

We should … be.

And maybe we will all find that…

we do indeed, get what we need.

Satisfaction. Guaranteed.

3 Comments »

Trap. — And I keep falling for it again and again.

My self-esteem has been taking a beating lately.

No. I’m not worried about the number on the scale. I’m fine with my swimsuit at the pool. I’m cool with my hair and my clothes and my personality traits.

So, take all of the typical self-esteem advice us women toss about and put it where the sun don’t shine.

Because none of that will help me now.

My low self esteem right now is all because of the boy-child.

Yep. All thanks to a five year old and a childhood game.

The boy-child has become exceptionally good at the old school game, Connect Four.

You know the one.  Red and Yellow checker pieces. Vertical board. Drop the checkers into the slots and … name of the game… connect four in a row to win! Vertically. Horizontally. Diagonally.

Sounds easy enough. Except there is actually a lot of strategy involved.

And did I mention that the boy-child has gotten pretty good at this game? Not just playing.

He has gotten really good at winning.

But … not just winning, the kid has gotten really, really, REALLY good at setting traps in order to win.

So good in fact that I have been trying to figure out if he can get some kind of college scholarship out of this or if there is any money at all in the Connect Four tournament world.

Hey, don’t judge. Everyone’s gotta pull their weight around here. 🙂

Seriously, pay no attention to the scheme of making money off of our offspring, the kid is really, really good.

As in, we can’t beat him. At least not often.

I’ve done a little looking and discovered that there is actually a lot of research that has taken place over this little unassuming Milton Bradley game. Entire studies and papers and theses, from MIT no less, have been documented about the perfect playing and guaranteed wins by the first player. There are even wiki pages dedicated to the ‘how to win at connect four’ … (not that I Googled that or anything.)

1. Know the rules. Well, duh.

2. Know the good positions.

3. Pay attention to your opponent and react.

4. Copy your opponent’s moves.

5. Build traps. (The boy child is exceptionally good at this step.)

6. Recognize the mechanics of two players. And he seems to intuitively understand this.

All I know is that the kid is good.

And today, the kid set the same exact trap for me…twice.

And I fell for it…twice.

Check it out. He’s the yellow player. See what he did here?

trap

Yeah. That was the second time and he was eating a spoonful of peanut butter the whole time. While I was on the other side, really concentrating, focused, determined to give him a taste of his own medicine.

And I fell into his trap.

Again.

It’s a good thing he’s cute.

It’s also a good thing that I don’t have ALL of my self esteem wrapped up in winning.

I’m good at other things. Really. I am.

6 Comments »

Commit. — Jump in? Or run away?

commit

I was watching the girl and boy child play in the waves yesterday.

I’m sure many of you will know how this goes.  You drive a million hours to get to the beach. The kiddos sleep most of the way there, which of course is awesome. You arrive at the house you have rented for the week and you immediately start thinking about unpacking and getting groceries and getting settled in for some vacation time. You are exhausted from the packing and the traffic and the nonsense of long distance travels.  The kiddos are amazingly refreshed, however.  And they want to go swimming. Now.

So, I stopped carrying in the bags and stopped making the lists and I just took the kiddos to the beach. I’ll be honest. I wanted to see it and feel it and be there just as much as they did.

We ran/walked down the wooden path, up the stairs, over the dunes…

And there…there it was. Just where I left it a few months before… my ocean.

The powerful waves. The peaceful, reassuring sound. The salt air. The refreshing breezy wind that gives me that fabulous beach hair.

And even though I gave the kiddos the proverbial warning: “Don’t get wet!” …

We all know exactly what happens next. They start with their toes. Dipping them in just to feel it out just a little. There’s a collective squeal, followed by lots of running back and forth from the sand to the surf.

Next, they have their feet in up to their ankles. Then before you know it, they are knee deep, even though the water is icy cold at this point.

And…oops, now their shorts are soaking wet and well, they might as well play now. They are already wet! 🙂

Which of course, I expected, … so play on, kiddos.

And I. I soaked it all in. I sat and watched them. As the waves came crashing in, one after the other. I watched as they both eyed the same incoming wave, each independently weighed their options, and made a decision: jump or retreat.

They decided. They committed to their decision and they followed through. Each in their own way.

Done. Simple.

Assess the situation. Set a goal. Make a decision. Commit. And Act.

There’s a lesson there for all of us.

So, MommyVerbs readers: Dip your toes in. Try it out. If it is for you…jump in.

If it feels wrong…run away.

Either way.

Commit. And Act.

7 Comments »

Snack. — Healthy Bites and Sugar Bites: Another Balancing Act of Parenthood

sugar bites

I am far from perfect.

Stop laughing. I know it is hard to believe. But it is. Oh. So. True.

For the past year , we’ve been on a mission around here.

MommyVerbs groupies know that we have been trying to eat well and play more and choose happy.

And we are making good progress.

We have been more intentional about making time to play and do things as a family. We have started some traditions and have crossed a lot of things off of our family time bucket lists in the past year.  As a matter of fact, included in our  Summer Solstice celebrations, we will be creating our Sweet Summertime 2013 vision board this evening.

We’ve crowded out any fast foods and processed foods. We’ve added in real, whole foods.

While we are still tempted at times, I think it is easier for Felix and I.

I’ve pretty much morphed into a vegetarian. Felix got up at 6 a.m. and went for a 4.7 mile run this morning.

But when you throw the boy and the girl child into the mix of these “Eat Well” intentions, it is …  trickier. 

Trickier–because the rest of the world is not playing by the same rules.

When you are five and so-close-to-being-eight, your world is as big as you can see … only of those places and people around you.

So, they see their friends walk by with the Dr. Peppers and the Mountain Dews in hand.

They see the bags of Cheetos and Capri Suns after the ball game being handed out for snack at 10 a.m.on a Saturday morning.

They see the brightly colored cupcakes with three inches of blue and red icing at the birthday party.

They see the commercials for the sugary-delicious cereals and the ‘make your own slurpee machines’ on television.

They see the fun toys from the fun movies that they want to see that come with the fun happy meals.

They see the hot dogs and potato chips at the cookout.

And as their Momma…I see it all, too. I see X and Y watching. I see them questioning.

And I’m trying to balance it all for them. That’s what we do, right Parents? We balance. Or make our best attempts to balance. The fun and joy of childhood… with the need to give them a good solid nutritional foundation.

Childhood is not usually synonymous with flaxseed and fish oil.

But does childhood have to mean bags of sugar and bottles of soda?

I have great childhood memories of chasing ice cream trucks down the street. I mean that is the epitome of summertime, right?

So. We try to balance. If the snack that the parent so kindly brought for after the t-ball game is cheetos and capri suns. I’m not going to grab it out of their hands and replace it with a banana. But when it is our turn to bring snack, we will probably bring those bananas and maybe some apples along with some water.

If the cupcake at the super fun birthday party has 3 inches of red icing, I am not going to tell them they can’t have one while convincing them that this delicious organic red apple is better. But one is enough and I will certainly be pushing the salad at dinner.

Moderation and Modeling. That is where this Momma is right now on the topic.  There are some other Mommas that are out there…fighting the good fight everyday. Writing letters to their schools and recreation leagues. Protesting the cheetos and capri suns. They are writing fabulous blogs and leading powerful campaigns to create change. I’m inspired and in awe of them. I follow their blogs. I try their recipes. I share these with my circle of friends.

But I’m not there yet. I’m not ready to draw the line in the sand and tell my kiddos that they will never darken the doorsteps of Sweet Frogs again. I am not ready to make them miss out on the ‘goodies’ that their friends are enjoying.

Because that just seems wrong.

But I’m also not going to take them to McDonald’s and get them a fake hamburger or let them open the cabinet and see lots of brightly colored packages of sugary junk either.

So…This Momma is taking the Moderation and Modeling approach.

Everything in moderation. Yes. You can have that bag of cheetos and capri suns because your teammates are enjoying these while celebrating your big WIN today. But for lunch, we are not going to a fast food joint, but instead we are going home to have some corn on the cob and a good turkey sandwich on homemade bread.

And when we go to the grocery store, we will continue to stay on the perimeter of the store and out of the aisles and we will fill up our cart with fresh veggies and fruits. Or maybe we will go to the Farmer’s Market and buy some locally grown ‘goodies’.

At home, they will see cabinets full of non-GMO products and they will know what that means. At dinner, they will see lots of greens and good choices. They will see their parents choosing oranges over cookies and water over soda.

Moderation. And Modeling.

Instead of cringing, I will take pride in the fact that they were eating the strawberries and the cheetos at the cookout last night. There were as many carrots on their plates as there were potato chips.

A few months ago, after X asked to be excused from dinner because he was … SO FULL, he immediately asked for some ice cream for dessert. I said what us Mommas say…”Well, if you are SO FULL and couldn’t finish your corn, you can’t possibly have any room for dessert.”

He looked at me and smiled and in his cute little dimpled-smiled way, said very matter of factly, pointing at his stomach:

“I have one place for the healthy bites which is full … and one place for the sugar bites…I still have room there.”

One place for the Healthy bites. One place for the Sugar Bites.

Moderation and Modeling.

And my job is to always make sure that the Healthy Bites place is full.

6 Comments »

Swing. — The Legend of a First Home Run.

It was a stormy afternoon. A rain shower had already moved through earlier, threatening the plans for the evening.

The last softball game of the season.

I called and prepared the girl child for the possibility that it might get postponed. She’s the type that needs a little heads up when schedules might change. Yes. She’s Type A like that. She IS her Mother’s Daughter after all. When I picked her up from her last day of camp activities, I could tell she was equal parts excited and nervous about the game. She loves softball. This season has been a great one for her.

She had a phenomenal coach who really loves the game as much as these girls do. He took time to teach them the necessary skills, but also taught them … the game.  And for the first time, I think, these girls really started to understand and appreciate the game. I listened to them talk between themselves — they knew who covered bases when the ball was hit here or there; they loved when a plan came together and the throw from shortstop was caught just in time at first base; and they dreamed about the magic of the elusive double play.

She came into her own this season. She found a field position that she fell in love with…1st base. She loved the action and the responsibility of this role. She has a good glove and can catch under pressure as the runner approaches. She’s getting better about understanding that she can come off the plate to make the play, something that took her half of the season to get comfortable with.

But over the course of the season, the best part, as a parent, was watching her fall in love with the game. It is an amazing feeling to watch your child find their niche, find something that they are good at, something that they really enjoy doing all while understanding their role as a member of a team. She learned teamwork this season. What an amazing life lesson to find as a bonus on a ball field.

This was the last game of the season coupled with the fact that the last couple of games had been rained out, so they all hadn’t taken the field in about a week. The Momma in me intuitively knew however, that she might be feeling more than nerves. I could tell that she didn’t feel well. She was cold. And was lacking her typical excited energy. She walked during the warm ups instead of running. She looked a little flushed and was not hanging with the other girls eating and spitting sunflower seeds in the dugout. (Something else they all discovered this season!)

I checked her forehead and asked if she felt alright and if she wanted to sit this one out. To which I got a resounding, “NO!” And off she headed to play first base.

The opposing team was the one and only team that they lost to this season. And this game was turning out to be a little back and forth. Good hitting, but some scrambling in the infield on occasion. I’ve learned that I cannot sit down during these games. I’m a stander at the fence. I bring a chair to every game and there are usually bleachers, too. But I rarely sit. I will find something to do — help with keeping the girls organized in the dugout, help with the stat book, help with the catcher’s gear, etc. I guess that is how I keep from getting too nervous for them as they play.

In the top of the 4th inning, the girl child was on first base and her teammate fielded the ball and threw it, not realizing how close she was. She hit Y in the chest with the ball. Several of us Mommas gasped out loud as we heard the ‘thud’ of the ball. Poor little thing. I called to her and asked if she was ok and I could tell that she was holding back tears with every ounce of courage she had. She mouthed to me in silence, “That really hurts!”, but she wouldn’t come out and wanted to keep playing. Fortunately, they got Out #3 on the next play and I met her on the bench.

She melted into my arms and started to cry. I checked her out and while I believed she might have a bruise, thought she was ok. But she certainly wasn’t feeling 100%. She was tired from the week. She wanted this win so bad that it was making her nervous. She was going to be fourth at bat this inning, but I told her she could wait and skip this one. Again, a resounding, “No!” as she started to wipe away her tears. Her teammates were checking on her and I love that they were. They have all really bonded as a strong team of girls this season.

It was her turn. She donned her helmet, wiped her eyes one more time, picked up her bat and headed out to home plate. She swung at the first pitch and missed it. Poor thing, her eyes were still a little watery. The second pitch came and she was a little closer, tipping it up and behind the catcher. I thought to myself, “please don’t let her strike out…just a little hit to make her happy.”

Third pitch. She swings and it is a solid, solid hit out to right field. She took off running and I watched as the ball went past the outfielder, who was scrambling to get the ball into the infield. There were some overthrows and some confusion in the outfield and Y was still running. The third base coach signaled for her to head home.

That’s when I realized. I realized that I was actually jumping up and down, screaming in proud excitement for her. Yes. I was that Momma. 🙂

The smile on her face is something that I will never forget. I know she will always have that moment as her teammates met her at home plate to celebrate the first and only home run of the season. That is magic, my friends. Pure Magic.

I know that I will spend some years in some bleachers. Between the girl child and the boy child, I’m excited to take my turn. I had my years on the courts and in the field. I’m ready to take my turn by the fence near the bleachers. I am excited for them both. Playing and learning and loving a game can be such a wonderful experience.  I hope they both find the life lessons just as powerful as I did during my days out there.

On the way home, she was beaming. She shared that she had secretly set several goals for the season:

1) Have an undefeated season. (They came close, only losing that one game, since they won this last one!)

2) Make a double play. (This one will have to wait until next year, when they learn how to throw past runners without hitting them in the back of the head!)

and…

3) Hit a Home Run.

Success. At her last at bat. At the last game of the season. The one and only home run.

Here's the home run hitter. That's a proud smile with eyes that reveal that she wasn't 100%. And still the legend of her first home run starts here!

Here’s the home run hitter. That’s a proud smile with eyes that reveal that she wasn’t 100%. And still the legend of her first home run starts here!

Congratulations Y. So proud of you. And all that you are. Which is all kinds of awesome.
Play More!
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Trail. — Yellow Cars+Bike Rides=A Pain in the Neck.

Happy Father’s Day!

Ever since we started the Eat Well. Play More. Choose Happy. initiative, we have stopped giving gifts on special occasions and have started giving … adventures.

Last year, we rented a boat and spent an afternoon out on the lake, swimming and tubing and soaking up some much needed Vitamin D.

This year, not to be outdone, the kiddos and I planned a trip to celebrate Fix It Felix/Zen Daddy on his special day.

Since X and Y cannot keep a secret to save their lives, I knew once I told them the plan that they would spill the beans in a heartbeat.  So, as a preemptive strike, I also told them the backup story to tell Felix instead.  Of course, that didn’t work either, so I let Felix in on the bicycle trip. That also put him in charge of making sure tires were full of air and he could get the bikes loaded in the truck, etc. So. I call that a Win. Win.

We piled into the pickup, with four bikes and four helmets in the back, and headed about 2 hours south. On the way, we played a game called, Skittles.  I owe this little gem to a work colleague of mine. Sometimes I want to thank him because we have so much fun; other times I want to curse him because it causes such a ruckus in my car. The gist is this: Every time you see a yellow car, you yell out, “SKITTLES!” I don’t know why…you just do and when you do…you get a point. (Side note: It is absolutely amazing just how many people buy a yellow car! Seriously?!)

Alas, you continue to collect points until someone sees a police car and calls out, “BUSTED!” At that point, this same person collects all of the points from everyone else and the game continues.  Then you have a “Obi Wan Kenobe, You’re my Only Hope” moment…because the only thing that can help you know is to be the next one to yell, “Busted!”

I know it probably sounds lame to all of you folks who live exciting lives of theater and movies and travel and fun, fun social lives…don’t judge, we like our cheap car entertainment. It amuses us. But some of us take it extremely serious! There are rules. There are five year olds who try to make up their own rules. There are exceptions and judges and a little bit of healthy trash talking…to the point that I had to get a pen and paper to keep score.

All in all, all had fun, especially me, when I saw a “Busted” and collected all 18 points. Champion Dance, right here.

All of this to lead us to a little town whose big business is bike rentals and shuttle vans to the top of a mountain. We brought our own bikes, but caught a van for a 35 minute ride up a curvy mountain road.  Felix and the girl child have carsick prone tummies, so they sat up front, while X and I, with our abs of steel, aka, we don’t get carsick, sat in the back.  Aren’t genetics absolutely fascinating?!

family

Once at the top, we unloaded our bikes and immediately set off down the gravel path.  It is mostly a downhill trek with some flat road pedaling. The kiddos were flying down the path and the Momma in me was yelling to … “slow down!” “watch out for big rocks”, and “the loose gravel can be tricky” and other Momma-like warnings like that! I remember reading that it would take an average of 2 hours to ride down the 17 mile trail. I thought, “at this pace, we will be down in an hour.” I also had a few immediate regrets…I forgot how shaded this place is,  as Felix and I haven’t done this in over 12 years and I wished I had worn a long sleeve shirt. And while I packed water and some granola bars, watching X fly down the path on his Avengers bike, his feet pedaling as fast as they could go, I regretted not packing some band aids.

What an amazing ride.  I loved every minute of it. The scenery is beautiful and once we got out of the tree cover, we would hit patches of sunlight that were glorious and warm. As we rode lower in elevation, the air temperature increased to early summer pleasant. We took turns riding together, enjoying some conversation down the path. Felix and I had a few moments to chat. X and I discussed our plans for the week. Y and I shared a sweet Mother-Daughter moment together.

I had told the kiddos that there was an ice cream shop about halfway down the mountain and that we would stop for a treat. But once we were past the 6 mile mark, I started to question my memory. Needless to say, after a while…so did they. They started asking me when would we get to the ice cream shop; how much longer; I’m so hungry, … etc. Finally…we saw a multi-colored sign up ahead. Even the five year old, who cannot read yet, intuitively knew that this was it! This was the ice cream stop. As we got closer, I realized we were in big trouble.

It was closed. Yes. Closed. As in … out of business.

Oh my. That was more than the boy child could handle. His little legs had already pedaled more than he has ever pedaled in his life and he was promised ice cream. And now his dream was over. Over! Needless to say, he had a tiny little meltdown that was part exhaustion and part disappointment. And I have to say, completely justified.

Fortunately, this was short-lived and we were able to put him back together with some water and some peanuts and a promise, that no matter what, there would be some ice cream…somewhere!

Off we went, only stopping for a few trips under bridges, down to the stream for a little old fashioned lesson in skipping rocks. I call this magic…making memories.

skipping x   skipping y

A few more miles and we did stumble upon another cafe where we stopped for some lunch… and of course, some ice cream. Just in time to replenish the energy of a couple of kiddos.

Down the path a bit more, we talked and rode and let others pass us and looked around and enjoyed each other and laughed and kidded and lovingly teased and played and challenged and just… were. Us. A family. Together.

It was the perfect way to celebrate a man in our lives who is the most intentional, the most calm, the most playful and fun Dad I have ever known. We are so fortunate to have him in our lives. He is the best Dad and Partner E.V.E.R.!

Happy Father’s Day, Felix! We love you!

After a fun day and ride like this, there may or may not have been a second trip for ice cream, before we hit the road for the trek back. On that ride, there was a challenge issued about who could pretend to fall asleep the best…

sleepy x and y

This happened.

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Try. Or Tri. As in…I did it! Part Three. A Triathlon Trilogy.

Or.

Finishing Strong Even When You Are Being Passed By a 12 Year Old.

By mile 4, I was really rocking that bike, both literally and figuratively. I was feeling strong, confident and just a little competitive. As I came up on the first bike ahead of me, I called out ‘on your left’ because I thought that was the polite cycling thing to do. I’m not sure that is actually the protocol in a triathlon, since that gentleman just looked at me a little annoyed. Once I passed him, I felt pressure to get a little distance between us. You know when that car passes you in the fast lane only to move over into the left lane and slows down? That’s what I was trying to avoid. I didn’t want to be THAT person!

So, I pushed hard and soon saw my chance to pass a few other folks.  I don’t think these were the same people that passed me in the pool, though. I think those folks were long gone. But maybe not. We were all wearing different disguises on each leg of this race, so it was hard to tell.

One of my fears before this race was that I would get so far behind the pack of folks and the course wouldn’t be well marked and I would miss a turn and actually get lost, never to find my way back. I know. I know. I looked at the course map before we started, but I didn’t have it memorized. These are not streets that I drive often, if ever, so I didn’t know really where I was around town. But, I am happy to say that I didn’t get lost. Many thanks to the fabulous volunteers in purple shirts who were at every intersection. Not only did they point the way, but they rang cowbells and held up signs and yelled out words of encouragement. I’d also like to make a shout-out to law enforcement who came out to help during the race. They, too, did an excellent job of stopping and controlling traffic for us in those tricky places. A few officers were cheering us on as well.

During the last two miles of the ride, I passed a father who was riding along with his 12 year old daughter. I know she was 12 because we were all wearing our ages, written in large black permanent sharpie markers (that would actually last all. week. long!) on the back of our legs. First, I was super impressed that this young lady was competing like this. Then I thought it was such a wonderful bonding experience for her to do this with her Dad. Before I realized that this little kid must have kicked my rear end in the pool which was why she was in front of me, so I allowed myself to feel just a little smugness as I passed them by with an “on your left.”

We turned the corner and climbed a steep hill, I could see the end of the ride and I for the first time, started thinking about what comes next. Dismount the bike at the line. Walk it back to my spot. Park the bike. Take off my helmet. And then…yeah, start running. 3.1 miles.

The thoughts of running a 5K next, distracted me from the fact that the little 12 year old that I was just so proud of, came up behind me, obliterating any bit of smug that I might have been feeling and passed me in the last few feet of that ride. I think her Dad put her up to it. She can brag at school on Monday about finishing ahead of a 40 year old. But she probably won’t. I’m pretty sure that won’t impress her 6th grade friends. 🙂

In a blur, I dismounted, parked the bike, took of my helmet…and then stood there for a second. The only thing left to do was now run.

I turned to start on this last leg (Ha! See what I did there?!) and tried to move these new blocks of cement that were attached to my hips. It was the strangest feeling. My legs felt like jello that had been mixed with concrete and stirred together to create a new type of gelatin. A gelatin that I was supposed to now run on. I just kept picking one up and putting one down and thought, this isn’t so bad. I just have to run three miles and then I’m done. A triathlete I will be!

Following the directions of the purple shirts, I headed toward the end of a street, where a woman told me that I would see her again on my 2nd lap. Wait. What? There is a 2nd lap to this course? I turned and was trying to figure out exactly where I would be running, when I spotted him.

Up ahead, already wearing his blue medal around his neck, was my Felix, who had come back for me. (I think he was really just relieved to see that I had made it out of the pool, too!)

He asked if he could run with me, knowing that I’m usually a loner-type runner, but this time we had so much to catch up on. We ran and swapped some, ahem, war stories, of our triadventure together, yet apart.  It was fun to hear about his swim, ride and run. We congratulated and encouraged each other. I realized that this was such an amazing thing to be able to do this (kind of ) together.

I did indeed, see that purple shirt lady again as I made the turn for the 2nd lap.

Felix, who had just ran an extra mile or more with me, stopped and said, “You go ahead and have your finish line.”

How awesome is he, I ask you?

So, I did. I kept running. I felt good. I was proud of myself. As I came down the final stretch, the announcer called my number and name! I threw my hands up in a nonchalant celebratory way as if, ‘Yeah. That’s me. I do this. This triathlon thing.’ I might have even ‘WhooHooed’ a little bit.

I crossed that finish line.

They crowned me with my first triathlon medal. My first swim, bike, run bling.

I did it. I completed a 300 meter UGLY swim, a 10 mile bike ride (lost to a 12 year old in the last seconds), and then a 5K run on concrete jello legs with my Felix.

And I accomplished all three of my goals.

1) I did not drown. Check.

2) I finished in less than 2 hours. Check.

3) I did not come in last place. Check. (Oh, and I did check to make sure there were still lots of folks behind me!)

I am.

A triathlete.

(Later, as we were packing up and nibbling on some oranges, Felix very casually asked me if I would like to do another triathlon. I very casually answered, “Yes. Yes I do.” …

But I really need to take some swimming lessons first!”)

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Try. Or Tri. As in … I did it! Part Two.

Or.

How NOT to Quit Your First Triathlon in the First 75 Meters of the 300 Meter Swim.

I played the words over and over on the way to the race.

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home

I thought it was some kind of sign; a message that would see me through my first triathlon.

We arrived and headed in to register. We picked up our bib numbers and t-shirts.

I am a fool for a good race t-shirt and I have to say this one did not disappoint!

tshirt

We got our bikes and went to set up our transition spaces. I watched others to know what to do. Bike on the rack. Towel on the bike. Socks in the shoes. Put my goggles around my neck. Hung my bike helmet on the handle bars. Check. At least I looked like everyone else.

We headed to check out the pool and get in line for the start. Felix had a much earlier start time than me, however, once the clock started ticking it all went very fast.

I stood by the wall and watched the first swimmers take off, who made it look  so very easy.  I chatted with two ladies who were also doing their very first triathlon, just like me.  We swapped stories of nerves and excitement. We talked about how we got here and what our goals were.

I said it out loud. I would like to not drown. They laughed, not knowing that I wasn’t really kidding.

But somehow, I kept thinking…I’ve got this. It won’t be pretty, but certainly I can do 12 laps in this pool.  Right? Right?!

It was my turn to hop in to the pool. It was cold, but I didn’t notice for long. The line was moving so quickly and soon, maybe too soon, I found myself in the starting lane with the kid counting down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Go. And I pushed off of the wall.

Trying to still hear the words of my mantra as I tried to count my strokes, I started to remember all of my anxieties about this swim. Before I made the first turn, I began to remember how I knew this was going to suck. As I went under the rope for the third lap, I bumped my head and was convinced that everyone saw that. I started off again and about halfway across the pool, I turned my head for air and got splashed by the swimmer coming my way, taking in a mouthful of water. Needless to say, that rattled me. I made it to the end of the pool and caught my breath. Then kicked off again. Somewhere in the middle again, I started to feel the heaviness of the water against my chest.

I’m not going to be able to do this.

Seriously, I’m going to have to quit.

That will be so embarrassing. What would I even do? How do you quit a triathlon? Do you just get up out of the pool? And tell the volunteers that you are done? What will I tell Tom?

And then, I thought: I am going to actually have to post on Facebook that I didn’t finish.

Yep. That was it.

Hi. My name is Z. I’m motivated by … Facebook.

Ultimately, it was facebook and the thought of public humiliation and admission of defeat that made me keep going.

Keep going I did. But. Let me just say. It. Was. Not. Pretty. At the end of every lap, I’m pretty certain, someone was passing me. Ok, maybe about 5 or 6 passed me. I lost count. I didn’t care. It gave me more time to breathe.

At about lap 7, I realized that the lifeguard was watching me. Yeah. I’m betting I looked pretty scared by that point. I’m sure he was hoping that I could keep going so he wouldn’t have to jump in and perform an actual rescue.  He met me at the end of each lap in the deep end, encouraging me, reminding me to take my time and catch my breath. While I was completely and totally embarrassed, I was totally grateful for him as well. I just kept counting down the laps. Until finally, the last turn and I was heading out of the pool.  The volunteers were happy for me, telling me that it was over and congratulating me!

I was just so happy to be out of that pool.

As I ran down the hallway, the knowledge that I had survived, however ugly, a 300 meter swim, I still needed to bike and run. It all happens so fast, it is hard to fully comprehend what it is you are about to do. You just…do it.

So I ran to the transition area. Dried off as best I could. Put on my running pants and t-shirt. Stood on my towel to get my socks and shoes on. Debated sunglasses or no? Opted to go without and pulled my bike down.  I made it to the “mount bike” line and started to take off, but realized just in time that my helmet was still hanging from the handle bars. Rattled, remembering that you get disqualified for riding without it, I was able to get it on and get started.

I hadn’t been worried about this part of the race. I go to spin class. Riding a bike should be no sweat. Right? Right?!

But heading down the first hill, that was so steep, with a sharp turn into traffic at the bottom, I quickly realized that the chance of me hitting a bump and having a horrific wreck on a rented bike, is not a concern in my spin classes. This was different.

But I kept going. The first three miles felt like they were all up hill. There were a few seconds when I thought about doing what the kids do, hop off and push my bike up the hill. But that seemed wrong, so I changed the gear and kept pedaling.

Toward the end of the third mile, I finally saw another biker ahead. By this time, I was feeling a little more of my confidence coming back and thought to myself, I am going to try to pass her. Somehow, I am going to pass at least one person on this 10 mile trek.

And with that, I had a new goal for this adventure.

…. to be continued….

Part Three: Finishing Strong When You are Being Passed By a 12 Year Old. 

Or. 

What the Hell Do You Mean I Will See You For My 2nd Lap?!  What 2nd Lap?! 

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Try. Or Tri. As in…I did it! Part One.

I told you the story about Felix participating in his very first triathlon a few weeks ago. If you haven’t read it, be sure to check it out here:

Swim. Bike. Run. — Three Verbs b/c It Is Just That Cool.

It is a story about his experience in the pool, on the bike and then on foot, sure. But it could also have been titled, “How to Entertain a Five Year Old During a 24 Hour Experience That Is NOT About the Five Year Old.” But that seems like a really, really long title.

It is also a little bit about Bacon. It is. I know, I’m shaking my head, too.

Go on. Go read that one. … I’ll wait here for you to come back…

….

I’m so happy to see you again!

So, once again, just about two weeks ago, Felix casually asked me if I would like to do a triathlon in a nearby town along with him.

Casually, like, probably at dinner time while I’m retrieving a glass of milk for a short person while negotiating just how many bites he has to eat before he is excused, while simultaneously keeping the dog from eating the pair of socks that I told the girl child to put in the hamper along with trying to answer an email on my phone about a date that I may or may not be able to make a meeting.

So, in that very casual moment, I very casually replied to the voice in the other room, “Yes. Yes I do.”  And went on with my usual evening multi-tasking routines.

The next day, I received an email indicating that I had been registered for the triathlon taking place in a few days.

Ummm. Wait. What? For Reals?…as the kids say.

So I did what every triathlete does two weeks before a big competition.

I just tried not to think about it.

Really. I didn’t run. I didn’t go to the aquatic center and practice swimming. I didn’t get on my bike and go for a ride.  Ok, we did go for one bike ride but with the kiddos on the trail. But I was more focused on making sure people weren’t wrecking or going too fast, or trying to make sure they weren’t complaining or moaning and groaning about being hot or thirsty or tired. So, I’m not really sure that can be called training of any sorts.

Before I knew it, the date was here. It was real. It was the day before. I didn’t have a swimsuit. I didn’t have a road bike. I didn’t have a plan.

So. Literally the day before. Felix rented a bike for me. He did send me a picture of it as he left.

The day before. I went to a sporting goods store in search of some kind of a swimsuit that I could then run in as well.

The day before. I started thinking about the transitions and what I would need to make sure I pack.

Goggles. Towel. Swimsuit. Socks. Running Shoes. Running Pants. T-shirt to Run in. Bike Helmet. Sunglasses. Sports watch. (Do I have one? I used to…where is it?! Is it water proof? hmmmm…)

The day before. I started to get anxious.

The day before. I posted my goals on facebook for the world to see and hold me accountable for.

1. Don’t Drown.

2. Finish in less than two hours.

3. Don’t come in last.

The night before I laid everything out. Confirmed plans for the kiddos for the early morning — Thanks Mom! Then headed to bed.

I had a dream about the swim. I dreamed that I got started, but by the second lap, I was getting tangled up in the lane ropes. I was all mixed up in these strings in the pool, trying to untangle and swim at the same time. I could feel myself struggling. I was getting overwhelmed. I was fighting in the water and feeling anxious.

And then the alarm went off.

But in those first moments, I somehow knew everything was going to be ok.

Because the song playing on the radio told me so. The first words I heard playing were from the song called, “Home” by Philip Philips.  (Here’s the video…the song is great!)

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home

The morning of the triathlon. I started to get excited.

The morning of the triathlon. I started to settle down.

The morning of the triathlon. I started to feel determined.

The morning of the triathlon. I started to get my game face on.

….. to be continued…..

Part Two: Keep Calm and Swim, Bike, Run On.

Or.

How NOT to Quit Your First Triathlon in the First 75 Meters of the Swim! 

5 Comments »

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