Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Making A Difference, One Cube at a Time

I don't have many hits to this blog. I am OK with that. I am amazed by the fact that ANYONE reads this dribble about our lives and Gracie's shoes, and am blown away that readers from NES's blog have wandered over to read mine.

Sometimes readers come from unlikely sources though... like Matt's 20-something coworkers. Yeah Jasson, I'm talking about you. He was apparently enthralled by this post. Maybe it is because I didn't write anything else for over a week, so he had plenty of time to stare at the sad clown. Maybe he gets some sort of perverse pleasure from the forlorn.

Either way, he made a request for the clown and it now has a new home in a non-descript beige government cubicle.

And I'm glad to be of service to the select few who spend their time reading these pages, and I like to think that we are making a difference. Let me know if anyone else needs some 2 year old art to adorn their walls.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Matt's Race Report: Tune Up Tri

Per tradition, here is Matt's race report on Beginner Triathlete. Yea Matt!!

Race: Tune Up Tri
Race Type: Triathlon - Sprint
Age Group: Male 35 - 39
Time: 0:27:16
Overall Place: 6 / 252
Age Group Place: 1 / 17
Comment: Not exactly an Ironman, but...

Race Report:
Ok, disclaimer first that this was a super sprint, and heavily marketed to beginners, but still, there were some pretty fast folks here, and it was cool to get my first tri-award of any kind.

I did this race two years ago with some friends, it's a fun chance to go out and race as hard as you can without holding back. They do the race backwards due to the weather, so it's run, bike, swim. I stayed down at my cousin's place the night before, and brought our two year old to give my (8 months pregnant) wife a break. I caught a huge break in that my wave was the first off, on such a short course it's easy to get trapped behind or around folks.

1.4 miles, Time: 8:37
It felt like I ran very consistently. I think I was seventh or eighth in my wave for the whole run. There were a couple of uneven sections with mulch/mud, but nothing too bad. All the turns helped with seeing the folks behind me. I remember looking at my Garmin coming into T1, it measured the course at 1.3 miles. Even at 1.3, I'll take sub-7 miles any day!

T1: :38
Made the right call switching from cleats to toe cages, fastest T1 in the whole event. ;)

4 miles, Time: 11:37
I passed one or two people in T1, so I think I was in fifth or sixth for my wave heading out on the bike. I tried to get sped up as fast as I could, since I knew the first 180 was coming up almost immediately. By the second mile I had passed all but the guy who would end up finishing first in the wave (but in all fairness, several of the people I passed were on hybrids and the like). Given the number of turns, I was really happy with being able to average just over 20 MPH. It was pretty funny gunning as fast as you could for a few minutes, and then whoa-ing up to do the hairpins.

T2: 1:08
Almost blew it here. Coming up to the dismount line, a volunteer was shouting to slow down, get ready to dismount, etc. I was braking fine, but two things conspired to almost wipe me out: as I came to a stop the volunteer reached out and grabbed my bike while at the same time my left foot got caught in the toe cage. I did a really fun front wheelie with the back tire coming almost all the way around. Almost ate a catch fence, but I got back under control. Whew!
I had considered going sockless because the race was so short, but it ended up being no problem getting my shoes and socks off, and then headed into the pool.

250 yard snake swim, Time: 5:18
I could tell right off the bat that I wouldn't be catching the one guy in front of me, but I did see the guy behind me enter the pool area just as I was getting in. The first couple lengths felt fine, but I was really struggling at the end. The guy behind me got pretty close, but couldn't quite catch me. Hopped out and jogged to the final timing mat.

Snake swims are kind of tricky, since you're ducking under ropes, pushing off, etc. But it was awesome having the lanes to myself. This was only my third swim since like October, so obviously some more prep would have helped.

I knew finishing 2nd in my wave guaranteed I was going to win something, since waves were divided by AG's. I was really excited, since this was going to be my first award of any kind. Some of the younger folks in the next wave ended up smoking the field, plus I found out the guy ahead in my wave was the same AG.

Not sure what happened, but they handed out ONE penalty for the entire race, and it was the guy who beat me, so I got 1st in AG! AND my daughter was there to get my award with me. Sweet.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

One of These Things

You know the song:

One of these things is not like the others;
One of these things just doesn't belong...

That is totally what my first thought was after I got over the willies of seeing a new wall display of clowns crafted by Gracie's daycare class.

Look at the picture. They are all basically the same except for one. All but one have smiles on their faces. One clown is a sad clown.

Guess who's daughter made the sad clown? Yep. Right here.

Her teacher said Gracie was very upset that she didn't get the mouth right, that hers was different. I tend to think it is her way of telling me that she doesn't like clowns either, without having to put me through the trauma of seeing one in person.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hello Spring

Less than a month ago we were buried in snow.
Heck, until last week there were still sad little dirty piles of the snow hanging around.
Today though, we have spring blossoms.
Hello warm weather. I've missed you.
Your pollen though? Not so much.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Please See Cashier

A few months ago I bought a new lighter at the grocery store. One of those big, long stemmed ones that keeps you from burning finger tips when lighting candles. Apparently my municipality puts lighters in the same category as cold medicine and spray paint. It’s part of the playground of miscreants.

I got carded.

Well, kind of.

The teenaged punk manning the mother-station of the self check kiosks just waved at me and said not to worry about the “Please See Cashier” notice flashing on my screen. I then overheard him tell his cohort punk that he just puts in random birthdays from 1978 when that comes up. Because anyone born 1978 is pretty old.

*Wait a minute. I was born in 1978.*

My head almost exploded. Then I fought back tears. And I know I will never be able to forget the heart crushing reality of the first time someone called me old. My mom gets pissy about being called ‘mam. I’ve never had much of an issue with this, because I can write it off as regionalisms and good manners, not a slam on perceived age. This kid though, he flat out said, “31 is pretty old.” Bastard.

While I was convalescing on the couch this past Saturday, I spent an unprecedented amount of time watching TV. I flipped though all the channels and watched more than my fair share of Hallmark movies. Then I remembered my beloved HBO In-Demand. Front and center was 17 Again. Score, it is something Matt would never watch.

This morning, while sorting through all the Facebook posts I missed over the weekend, I saw my 16 year old cousin Kat posted a quote from the movie. “You can plunder my dungeon anytime!” She and her high-school herd had also been taking advantage of Zac Efron’s free presence on HBO this weekend. So I commented.

And you know what? She too unintentionally called me old, by calling Efron old. She said, ‘Yeah, he’s a lot older than he looks. He’s like in his mid-twenties.’

And my heart once again stopped beating for a minute. First of all, I totally thought the kid was jail bait. Second, 22 IS NOT mid-twenties. Third, if 22 is old, then what is 32??

I know I am having this theoretical conversation with a 16 year old. I get that, but WTF.

The more I think about it though, the more I have to realize that maybe she is right. I like to pretend that I am still 20 in my head. Living just a toe over on the wild side. Not having to answer to anyone. Flirting my way into college bars with a barely passable ID. Parties that I didn’t always remember the end of. Sleeping until 5pm and then waking to do it all over again.

Now, I go to bed at 9:30pm. I wake before the sun finds it decent to be up. I dress conservatively and wipe butts and smile at the other daycare moms. A wild night is having an hour and a half dinner without interruption and an extended bedtime of 11pm. Which I then pay for the next day.

Am I old?

I cried when I turned 25. I tried to ignore my 30th birthday. Is the lighter punk onto something that I am completely missing? I don’t have wrinkles. I’m a young mother, not the Grandma. I still get carded at the liquor store… but is that because my signature is worn off the back of my debit card?

I guess that is the answer though. I am old enough. I am old enough to have my own life, family and money which has allowed me the ability to pay cash for my purchases via my debit card. Something I didn’t even come close to having at 20, much less 16. And I don’t want go back there. I love my life and the last twelve years that have turned me into a random old age to punch into a cash register when buying controlled substances.

The spiteful part of me just has to remember: Karma is a bitch and in 2025 it will be you standing in a random line being called old by some other teenaged punk making minim wage kid.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Friday I had a plan. It was a five-days-in-the-making rant about how I'm either a horrible mother or Gracie is a horrible two year old or that we are somehow equal in our terribleness and not fit to call each other by our titles: mother and daughter.

It had been a rough week filled with tears (on both ends) and temper tantrums (on both ends). My whole hearted attempts to follow Matt's sage advice failed. To just slow down to her pace and if things take longer, then so be it. I was trying so hard, except nothing was changing except the fact that we were now adding over an hour onto our days. Which meant we ate a lot of frozen pizza for dinner last week.

But instead of writing a much more in depth account of the happenings of the week Friday morning, I mothered: I cleaned up puke and I changed more liquid diapers than should be allowed.

It is funny what a grounding and centering thing caring for a truly sick child is. I would take her pain and discomfort upon myself 100 times over to spare her the slightest pain, but it is in those pretense free moments at 3am that your remember your calling. And that she does indeed need you, wrapped in your arms in a search for comfort.

Then 24 hours later after doses of Tylenol, kiddie Pepto-Bismo and dozens of freeze pops with only 1/4 eaten before melting, she is fine. Happy. Giddy over the prospect of riding with daddy on the big choo choo train from Baltimore to DC for their 36 hour date.

And I am left to reflect on her new found health as I am curled into a ball, clutching my own stomach for a new 24 hour period and wondering how I am going to keep down food that I know her little sister needs me to eat.

Such is the life of a parent. Such is the life of a mother. And every moment is worth it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pink Enough?

Gracie's shoe chronicle continues. This time it's a little different though.

Her McKenna's are still around, but getting short in the toe, while these new hot pink Sabrina's seem to flop at the back of her heel. But now she has choices in the morning, and her world has become all about having choices. Unfortunately, sometime the choice is to wear one old shoe and one new shoe. I've been trying to relax about a lot of things lately, but two completely different shoes just aren't going to fly.

I'm just glad she doesn't realize there are gold glitter shoes from Halloween and sandals for the summer hidden in her closet right now....