Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Sharks Rule!

I sometimes ask myself why I sign the kids up for extra-curricular activities.  It's a great inconvenience having to drag myself out of bed at 6:00 on a Saturday morning to pack a cooler, get myself dressed, make sure all goggles and towels are in the swim bag and get 3 kids dressed and out the door by 6:30 to a swim meet.  

Jack was slated to swim in 2 events - the 25m freestyle, and the 100m boys freestyle relay team. In other words, the first and last event of the meet. Olivia was to swim 4 events, spread throughout the entire meet. Considering each 25m takes approximately 30 seconds to swim, we were there to watch about 3-4 minutes of action. In 4 hours.

Eating donuts was a great way to warm up, after warm ups!

Jack put on his game face to get lined up for his first race.

Ready to go...just waiting for the starting bell.

And he jumps...and he swims...

And then she jumps...and she swims...

In between races, there was lots of time to kill. So Jack hid in his coat.  

Olivia played tricks while I tried to take pictures.

Steve answered emails on his BlackBerry, while Grant ate something chocolate.

Hair was spiked.

Lots of snacks were eaten (check out Grant with his "Smartfood" at 9:00 in the morning)

Jack met his team "swim buddies".

New confidence was gained, and displayed in giant ear to ear smiles.

Today marked some personal accomplishments for both kids...Olivia didn't stop when her goggles came off her eyes during her very first swim of the day on the medley relay team. She swam with them pinching her nose and cheeks the whole way, and gave it her all. Jack jumped in the water and swam (and not in the lane next to the wall!) with a super loud crowd cheering him on. He's not one who loves loud noises, or crowds, so this really was a huge feat for him!

Whenever I wonder if it really is all worth it, I think of the abilities and skills the kids gain from these experiences. We don't expect them to be professional athletes, or rocket scientists, or sing and dance on Broadway. But with each experience, new confidence is gained, and that belief in one's self is something that is vital to a lifetime of achievements...on any level. So I'll continue to wake up much before I'm ready, drive around way more than I'd probably choose to, and cheer my very loudest for each and every personal challenge and accomplishment, no matter how big or small.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Memorial Day Getaway

Last weekend, we made an impromptu getaway to the Monterey area. We've spent every weekend for the past month apart for one reason or another, and this was our last chance to get away before swim meets begin tomorrow.

We booked a "suite" at the Rio Sands motel in Aptos. One block off the beach, it was a perfect location. It was a typical beach motel, complete with floral bedspreads and a damp smell - but to the kids, it might as well have been the Ritz Carlton. The room even had 2 TV's...imagine that!

We visited the Monterey Aquarium.

We played in the tide pools at Pacific Grove.

Jack, summoning his inner "Karate Kid"

We played on the beach.

We flew kites.

We swam in the pool (OK, the kids swam. Steve and I sat on lawn chairs and watched.)

We were together.

Life is sweet.

Bedtime Battles

When Olivia was a toddler, Steve and I were nighttime Nazi's.  Bedtime came along, and she didn't dare get out of bed...else she face the wrath of mom and dad.  She would sometimes stand at the top of the stairs and yell down that she needed us, and we'd yell back "Get back in bed" and she would.

When Jack came along, we tried to maintain that strictness about bedtime.  He went through a little phase of coming downstairs after we tucked him in, but it didn't last long. 

Then Grant came along.  We were older.  We didn't have as much energy for sticking to our guns about things that might not matter so much in the long run...and Grant has our number.  On lots of levels. 

A few months back, Grant was convinced that the "monster from Harry Potter" was sleeping in his bed, so he was scared.  Then, the three kids started sleeping together in the same room (or even the same bed sometimes) and got used to having each other for company.  The past week or so, we've been trying to get everyone back in their own room, and their own bed, so that they're all well rested in the morning.  Sharing a twin bed doesn't exactly provide the most restful night of slumber.

Lately, Grant alternates between saying there's snakes or spiders in his bed, depending on his mood, and the night. It usually takes only about 10 minutes after we tuck him in for him to wander downstairs needing a snuggle.

Some nights, we quickly shoo him back up the stairs to bed.  But other nights, when it's painfully obvious how quickly he is growing up, we let him climb on the couch with us.  And when we do, this is usually how the evening ends up.

Are we creating a bad habit?  Probably.  
Will it really matter in the long run?  Probably not.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Island Work

About a month ago, Steve approached me with the idea of accompanying him on a "business" trip to Hawaii. I jumped at the chance, and quickly got on the phone with my mom to see if she was available to come down and look after the kids. She agreed and plans were made.

Last Wednesday, just 2 days before our scheduled departure, the Governor of Hawaii vetoed the bill that would provide the funding for the transportation project that Steve was going there to discuss. My parents were on a plane at that point, all arrangements had been made, I had a suitcase full of new swimsuits and cute vacation clothes. Steve emailed me and said "Let's go anyway. Less work isn't necessarily a bad thing..."

We landed at 11:00am Hawaii time on Saturday. We stayed at the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach...I highly recommend it!. This was the view from our room.

We got checked in, ate a quick bite of lunch, then hit the beach. Aside from eating and sleeping, we spent pretty much the first 60 hours camped out on lounge chairs at water's edge!

We witnessed some amazing sunsets over leisurely, romantic dinners that did NOT include mac n' cheese or chicken nuggets.

(This really is a picture from our trip and not some photo off the internet!)

We ate dessert every night. Duke's "Hula Pie" was my favorite.

I tried to offset the nightly desserts by eating this every morning:

I hit the fitness center 3 times.

I read 4 books.

I got two amazing 80 minute "Lomi Lomi Ola" massages.

Steve met with a business colleague for a few hours on Tuesday, followed by a round of golf.

We met up with the colleague and his wife for dinner and ate things that I wasn't able to fully identify. I was brave and had one bite of everything. Even the cod egg sack (which I thought was a piece of mango or papaya, and didn't realize what it was until it was too late.)

Wednesday, we ventured outside of Waikiki for some sightseeing on the rest of the island.  We snorkeled at Hanauma Bay.

We stopped at various scenic points just to take in the breathtaking views.

We drove up to the North Shore, and saw where Steve's brother used to live - at water's edge. He was responsible for building the rock wall that now protects the houses from exceptionally high tides. His original little beach house has been replaced with this monstrosity.

The sand was amazing - tiny crushed shells that were so smooth and soft on the feet.

We had shaved ice at Matsumoto's (isn't it really just a snowcone? What's the difference? Tasted like ultra sweet flavored sugar water to me...not too sure what all the hype is about!)

We returned home renewed and refreshed, and a little browner than when we left. Time alone together always helps remind me of why I married Steve in the first place. He makes me laugh. We can talk about anything and everything. And it looks like there may be more "business" trips required in the future.  Not a bad place to do a little work.  I think I might be able to handle it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Birds and The Bees Amid The Lettuce and Peas (clever, aren't I?)

Over the past few weeks, the garden has been a bit of a respite for me and Olivia. It's a place where we can hang out alone (the boys don't really want to play with the plants - they prefer running wild elsewhere) and talk about the everyday stuff of life. There's something very cathartic about being out there, and I have discovered that Olivia is more apt to talk openly about her life and thoughts outside rather than inside.

Yesterday she came home from school in a rather pensive mood. I was scrambling to get lots done in not enough time. After she finished her homework, she asked if I wanted to go out to the garden. I lightly said no - too much to do right now. So she headed out alone.

A few minutes went by, and I heard her little voice timidly ask if I wanted to just come out and talk. There was something about the tone of her voice that told me I needed to drop everything and go. And so I did.

I got out there, and asked "What's up?" She proceeded to tell me some silly anecdotes from her day. And then fell silent. A moment later, she hesitantly told me she wanted to talk about the "S" word, that she had heard some things and wanted to talk about it.

I've been thinking for months that I needed to have "THE TALK" with her...she's almost 10, and I knew I wouldn't be able to put it off for much longer.

As we were finishing up the serious conversation, she looks at me and says "I really like your shirt. Is it new?" I answered that yes, it was new and I was glad she liked it. Then she asks "Did you pick a radish? 'Cause it looks like one is missing." That signified the end of our conversation - not a purposeful subject change on her part, just an acknowledgement that she felt secure and satisfied with what we'd talked about, and that was that. When we turned to walk back into the house, she looked at me and said that she was glad she had a mom that she could talk to about that kind of stuff. And I breathed a big sigh of relief that I hadn't botched that first talk...and said a silent prayer of thanks that she felt safe in talking to me.

If that's the only harvest from this garden we've planted, it will be worth every ounce of effort, and then some.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What language does YOUR family speak?

When I was little, my younger brother Isaac had trouble pronouncing Cabbage and Garbage.  They came out "Cagab" and "Gargab".  My mom tried repeatedly to help him learn the word correctly.  

She would say "Isaac, say "Gar", 
"Now say "Bage"

You get the idea.  Before long, we all started saying "Gargab".  It just sort of became part of our vocabulary.  Even now, more than 30 years later, I still often refer to it as "Gargab" almost without realizing it.

We're experiencing something similar with Grant.  While his speech is relatively advanced for his age, he does have trouble pronouncing some of his letter sounds correctly.  For example, his "S" & "F" sounds come out like a "T".  And his "L"'s come out as a "W" sound.  I understand him almost 100% of the time, so those small speech impediments are not an issue.  But they do make for some humor...

Yesterday, Grant brought me his slippers.  "Mom, can you pweese put on my twippers?" he asked.

"Your twippers?" I replied.

"No, my twippers!" He exclaimed.  I don't usually repeat his pronunciation, rather I say the word again so that he can hear it correctly.  But for some reason yesterday, I just couldn't do it.  And I started giggling.

"You want me to put on your twippers?"  I asked again.


I ended up laughing almost to the point of tears (though I did actually put those slippers on his little piggies) and just hope that my laughter at his words didn't scar him for life.  

I don't know that I'll ever be able to look at slippers without thinking "twippers" again.  And "twip-twops" sounds so much more fun than "flip-flops".  We may just end up with a few new words in our family vocabulary.