Saturday, October 31, 2009

Family game night.

I am just gonna come right out with it. We don't play enough games. We don't play enough board games. We don't play enough card games. I remember playing some serious card and board games with my family. In fact, I remember my dad teaching us how to play poker...7 card stud and 5 card draw. We had the full set up with chips and everything.

We also used to have serious board game tournaments. We would open up Monopoly or Sorry and go at it for hours. These games taught us about winning and about losing. They also taught us about strategy and luck. Winning at these games is partly luck, you know. Plus as an added benefit, we improved our math skills. These are all important things for children to learn and the socialization part of playing games with others is much better than playing games on a computer or TV by yourself. Having a family game night or a rainy day tournament is fun and a great way to have some quality family time.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Oh my sleepy head.

How happy would you be if you could get 2 more hours of sleep a night? I know I would be pretty darn thrilled. I don't know where the time goes but I do know that I am tired quite often. In fact, I am tired more than I am refreshed. Don't you remember the days when you could nap on Sunday's? Sounds pretty great, huh? But, alas, there are a few things you can do to put some pep in your step.

First of all, did you know that the more hours of sleep that you get before midnight counts so much more. If you can get to sleep by 10 pm, it is like getting a few extra hours of sleep a night. I don't really know the reasoning behind it but I believe it. I have been going to bed pretty late, lately and no matter what time I get up, I never feel fully rested.

Read a book instead of watching television. I am guilty of this every night. I love watching a little boob tube before catching my zzz's but it can get your brain going rather than slowing it down. How many times have you had a dream that was a variation of what you were watching right before you fell asleep? TV gets your mind going where as reading calms you down. In fact, sometimes I am so tired, I can barely make it through two pages. It seems to put me in the right zone of calm so that I fall right to sleep.

Another great trick to help your body feel rested when you wake up is to drink water before you go to bed. Being dehydrated can zap you of energy and make you feel lethargic. I always have a glass or bottle of water next to my bed. If you don't finish it before bed, make sure to down it when you wake up. It is like super-charged fuel for your body.

Remember that sleep is the way our body recharges. We need to treat our body with care or we will pay the price later on. Be good to yourself and get some sleep.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Where was I before my blackberry?

Honestly, this is crazy. People can get me no matter where I am and no matter what I am doing. They can call me or email. There is no longer the excuse of, "I was away from my phone." It doesn't work. And now, they can get you with a text and an email. There is no hiding. And I am kinda addicted.

I became a blackberry user in 2001. It was one of those rectangle ones. Early users will remember. It was just for email...and, maybe an alarm. Now, I have the curve, or something like that. I don't keep up on the stats of it, I just know it is red and I am lost without it.

It has all of my information. Isn't that a little scary? What if I lose it (which I have)? What if someone steals all my info? (which they haven't, I think). I like the fact that I have a mini computer that I can take with me anywhere, but I don't like that it is as attached to me as my arm. And, if it does go missing, which happens at least 2 times per day, I am frantic until I find it.

I seem to have a love/hate relationship with this thing. I think it is brilliant technology but there is no getting away from it. What do we do? I guess every now and then, we all need to take a break from our blackberry's. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Right?!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mommies and the "3 second rule".

I trust that everyone reading this is very familiar with the 3 second rule. Just in case, it is a rule that most mom's live by with regards to food that has fallen on the ground. If the food has been on the ground less than 3 seconds, it is still safe to eat. If we tried to take this kind of food from our children, we would be in constant motion for the first 3 years of their life.

The really funny thing about this rule is that I find that I am living by this rule as well. The other day, I dropped an M&M on the floor, picked it up and put it in my mouth. I was out in a public store. A woman saw me and said with a smile, "3 second rule, huh?" I looked at her, smiled and nodded. Her comment made me think about how often I do this. I don't seem to care as much about my culinary hygiene or something. Or, maybe, I am just too busy and tired to care. Either way, I think it is hilarious.

I think I stopped really caring about germs as much as I used to when I saw my son licking the floor of a Target store. Yes, I was shopping with my mom and I turned to look at something she was showing me. I turned for maybe 2 seconds and when I turned back, my son was laying down on the floor licking and licking. Yes, that is officially gross and it is when I threw my hands up and stopped worrying so much. When you think about, 3 seconds or 1 minute, it touched the ground so the big question is, how hungry are you?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My daughter and her first Broadway experience.

She wasn't sure she was going to love "Shrek the Musical" until she saw the farting scene with Fiona (she calls her Fiuna) and Shrek. Once she caught wind of that (haha) she was hooked. In fact, that is all she wanted to see. Until the night before, that is. The night before, she became quite nervous about the dragon. She was worried that the dragon would come off the stage and might actually "get her". Once we arrived at the theater, she became very interested in all the souvenirs that were available for purchase. We settled on the Gingerbread Man puppet. Once inside and safely in our seats, she became very interested in the stage. The curtain and sides were decorated as as if they were trees. There were both shiny and dark colored leaves on the curtain--which to a 3 year old looked very much like eyes--imagine her relief when told they were leaves and not eyes. When the music started, I moved her to sit on the arm rest so she could see better. She loved the beginning and sat perfectly still for most of the first half. When the dragon came on, she covered her head with her blanket so she couldn't see it, but slowly she lowered it and before long she announced very proudly that it wasn't scary at all. She was gaining confidence. She loved the whole thing, but particularly liked the fairy tale characters, the burping and farting scene and--yep--that's right--the dragon. Oh, yes, and she was most anxious to see Fiona and Shrek kiss at their wedding. This was a wonderful experience for her and something she is still talking about. It also taught her the difference between a play and a movie--which I never realized was such a hard concept to grasp. We both learned something.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sharing a room brings siblings together.

When we go on vacation, my kids share a room. My son is usually in a pac-n-play and my daughter is usually in a bed. We try to read to both of them together and then put them together at the same time. When we do this, I think it comforts them both knowing that they are not alone.

In fact, they become quite chatty when we put them down for a nap or bedtime. My son can't really put sentences together but somehow they carry on quite the conversation. On and on they giggle and chat and giggle and chat. They will do this, sometimes for up to 40 minutes. We go in there often to remind them that they need to close their eyes and go to sleep but deep in my heart, I think it is adorable.

I always notice a change in their relationship after they bunk together. They bond and their friendship grows deeper. I think part of the reason is because they get their own personal time together where they can do things that mommy and daddy can't see. It is as if they are compiling their "inside jokes". And I think that is so cute.

It is touching to watch them grow as brother and sister. I love traveling with my kids so they are put in situations where they have to adapt. I believe it teaches them so much about patience and helps them become well-rounded kids. But knowing that they are becoming closer as siblings is what makes our trips together so special.

Take a load off.

I don't think I can properly describe the weight of my purse. First of all, it is so big, I could actually fit a kitchen sink in it. Seriously! I carry it everywhere and yet it weighs approximately 35 lbs. I have asked people to pass me my purse and as they pick it up, they immediately look at me like I am nuts. They always ask me, "What is in your purse?" And I always answer, "Too much of 'I don't know'."

And that is the truth. I really don't know what is in my purse...or shall I say, I didn't know what was in my purse until I tried to find my phone one particular day. I was at a stop light and fumbling through my purse when I found everything but my phone. I found an extremely old bag of apples, a diaper, a pair of my daughter's underwear and several other mommy items. And then eventually I found my phone. I sat there laughing because the funniest part of this story is that I was on a business trip at the time.

At that moment, I vowed to clean out my purse once a week. I have done it ever since. I try to clean it out every Sunday. It is truly amazing how much s%&* you can accumulate in one week of shopping, snacking and mommying. I also try to organize my things. I have 3 little purses within the mother purse. The little versions hold lipsticks, coupons and money.

When I am done going through my purse it is as if I have just showered after camping for the weekend. Not only does it take the weight off my shoulders (literally and figuratively) but I feel so much more organize and on top of things. Don't get me wrong, I still spend way too much time searching for my cell phone, but I can't blame it on the random apples and diapers anymore.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Being competitive is okay

Why are we so afraid to teach our kids to win or to lose. Why does everyone win? Why are we all winners? I remember getting 3rd in my first race when I was 4 years old. I don't remember everyone getting first. I remember my brother either "winning" his soccer game or "losing" his soccer game. Now, everyone wins. Believe me, I would love to see the joy on my kids face all the time of being the winner but the lesson learned from losing is so much more important.

I was treated the same whether I won a race or lost a race. I actually think my dad never knew what happened in my swimming until I was about 14. But the one thing that would always get my parents attention was if I was acting like a sore loser or a spoiled brat. One time, when I was about 7 years old, I swam my race and cruised into the finish thinking I had won. What I didn't know was that a girl on the other side of the pool had touched the wall before me. I hadn't seen her. I got out of the pool and threw a bit of a fit claiming that the timers were wrong. I was telling this to my mom who shook her head and simply said, "Summer, you just didn't see her." She then started to laugh. Soon, I did too. I learned a lesson and I knew that I didn't win. I got second.

Loser, for some reason, has such a bad picture attached to it. Loser, to me, is someone who tried but didn't win. The most important part being that they tried. What are we teaching our kids if we don't teach then the real truth in trying? The truth is that someone will always win and the others will not. Maybe there are other goals that we can focus on so that not all of the importance is place on the big 'W'.

In swimming, I always based my results on my times. I had goal times for almost every race and if I met those times, it was then a good race. Goals like this keep things in perspective. In youth sports, little goals like staying in position in soccer or stealing the ball in basketball could come in handy. Breaking a sport down into little pieces so that you realize there are plenty of things to be proud of while learning to deal with a "win or lose" is important.

Most importantly, if your kids team wins or loses, life needs to be the same. There should be a big party either way. Or, you can just go about your day. Besides, what you are really celebrating is that your kids were competitive and good sports. That is all we can ask for.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The eye-o-gram. For those who can't figure out make-up.

My girlfriend, Delilah, who owns and operates Splendor, in Park City, UT can make applying make-up look easy. I have always loved the way make-up looks when it is displayed on the counters. I love how perfect it is and how brilliant the colors look but I have no clue what to do with it. Absolutely no clue. This is all about to change.

Delilah is going to draw me and EYE-ogram. Get it, a diagram for the eye. Anyway, she is going to show me in a "paint by numbers" kinda way how to make my eyes look lovely. This is a diagram that I will get to take with me and keep in my make-up kit at all times. I don't expect to memorize it right away. Not even close. I am sure I will use it a ton and I am so excited. I have wanted to learn how to do make-up for years but I have either been to lazy or to busy.

When I was younger, I didn't have enough time in the morning to add "make-up application" to my schedule. I was up at 4:07am, swam, went to school, swam, ate, did homework and then dropped into bed to do it all over again the next morning. Not much room for make-up, in my day or in my bag. I went to school with my hair wet and came home with my hair wet. I guess I was partly comfortable in my skin and partly uncomfortable with my lack of make-up knowledge.

Then, I got into television and people would do my make-up for me. I would sit there and often times fall asleep in the chair so I didn't really take notes during the application period. But, in my defense, we are talking about the eyes and it is pretty difficult to watch someone apply make-up to your eyes. So, I never really got it. I can apply foundation, mascara, eyeliner, and lip gloss but everything else is a foreign language to me.

As a mom, I long to learn and I love looking pretty when I can. Delilah has promised to keep it simple and make me look sexy but myself. The most important thing, I think, is to get instructions that are reasonable so that you can keep it up. Anything too complicated will give me the hives and keep me from trying it. So, watch out hubby. I am gonna get some smokey eyes going for our next date night....or so I hope. Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Teach your boys to hug and kiss!

I am a little biased but I have to say that I have a very sweet little boy. He is loving and caring and will hug and kiss just about anybody. He gives kisses to me, his sister, his dad and to any family member or friend. He knows the difference between right and wrong and I think he wants to do right way more than he wants to do wrong.

He is all boy, though. He is rough and tough and kicks and hits and bites. But underneath all of that, he is loving. I see my job, as his mom, is to teach him what is right and what is wrong but to also teach him how to be a loving little boy who will hopefully grow into a loving young man.

I thought about this one day when I saw him give his daddy a big, fat, wet kiss on the lips. I thought it was so cute and I asked my husband when he stopped kissing his own dad. He stopped for a second and said, "I don't know. But I still give him a kiss on the cheek." It isn't about the kissing as much as it is the hugging and understanding the reason behind it. I want my kids to want to hug, and with boys, I think you have to teach them.

Often times, we teach our boys to give high fives or knuckles but I love my hugs and I always ask my friend's kids for a hug goodbye. Whenever my son has done something wrong, I take him to timeout and when he is done, I ask him to go give the person he wronged a hug. My daughter loves when she is at the other end of this. Actually, I do as well. A simple hug can make someone feel so good. What little boy wouldn't love to do that?

Thank goodness for Lollipops!

What would I do without the bank and car wash? You might think I am nuts but I love the fact that these two place seem to understand the job of "mom". It is always halloween at these two places. Whenever I say to my kids that we are going to the bank or the car wash they immediately say, "LOLLIPOP!"

Now, I know many parents who say they do not use candy as bribery but I am not one of those parents. I applaud those who stick to their guns and don't give into the candy cry. But, I love candy and feel like I would be a big hypocrite if I said they couldn't have any. Therefore, I am very fond of the bank and the car wash.

Many people don't understand how difficult it is for mom's to accomplish simple tasks during the day. The fact that at both the bank and the car wash I don't have to get out of the car and the fact that they give my kids treats is amazing. I try to alternate between the two so that we are not having candy every day. After all, I do want them to be able to use their teeth when they are 5.

But the Lollipop is a little friend that comes to help me out when I am trying to knock a few things off of my list. If for some unknown reason your bank and car wash don't have little treats for the kids, ask them to help you out and start the lollipop program. Or maybe, if I was really responsible, I would ask for the sliced apple program. Either way, please Help Us Moms!

Words of Encouragement

Once again, we are all in this together. It is not easy to raise good, confident children. It tests our patience, our own confidence and our ability to make a decision. But it is good to know when your friends think you are doing a good job and when one tells you this, it goes a long, long way. I feel like I am a good mom. I know my kids love me. But when you hear kind words from someone else, who is also in the thick of it, it means so much.

The other day I had a conversation with my best friend and I was reminded of this. We both have 2 little kids, hers are a little older than mine. She is starting to make important decisions for her kids with regards to school and her own profession. These are very serious decisions and she takes them very seriously. The catch is that she is the only person who knows the answer. So, my job is to listen and let her know how I feel when asked. I was overwhelmed with telling her how great she is, both as a mom and as an inspiring friend. I went on to tell her how great her kids are and how much I admire all the efforts she has made for her kids so far. She was very touched. I mean, really touched. This is when I realized that we don't tell each other this enough. We need to give other moms praise out of the blue. Unsolicited compliments are the best.

The funny thing is that 15 years ago my best friend and I were really only concerned about sports, school, fellas and frat parties. We didn't need this kind of encouragement then. It is not that we are less confident now, it is that we need our friends even more than we did back then. The catch is, we have even less time to give than we did back then. Everything related to "ourselves" is much more valuable. So when you get to hear words of encouragement or positivity they mean that much more.

If you have a friend with toddlers and you think she is doing a good job, call her and tell her so. Out of the blue, make her feel good. Lift her spirits and refuel her mommy energy level. She will be so happy and surprised to hear it.

The Art of Cleaning Up

Well, it happened. The other day, I ran over my sons Spiderman scooter. Yes, I know, I am sooo glad it was only a scooter and not a person or animal. Thank goodness. But it was a tough lesson for a 21 month old to learn. And, it wasn't really a hard-core lesson as the scooter is still rideable. Hmmm, kinda wish is was mangled so that he could forever see what happens when he doesn't take care of his toys. I am wondering when they are capable of learning this concept. You mess it up, you clean it up.

We have started to make this a rule. Don't get me wrong, it isn't a pretty situation but we are starting. My daughter will help voluntarily but my son seems to conveniently have no clue what I am talking about. Well, the other day, the play-doh was not picked up and put away so, it was thrown away. Everyone knows you can't leave play-doh out overnight. Everyone, except a toddler.

Even at other kids houses, we try to clean up as much as we can before leaving. I already know that my kids are really good at playing with toys and messing things up. Now I want to give them the skills to be really good at cleaning up those very toys. I plan to build on this concept and rule. If I went for it at this stage of their lives I think we would be toyless in about a week but if I continue to teach them how to clean up and what is expected of them no matter where they are, that can only help them down the road. And, cleaning can be fun, right?!

Like most people, we make a game out of cleaning up. We either sing a fun song. The whole song includes about 2 words...mostly Clean and Up. They seems to like it. Or, we make it a contest. You know, "who can pick up more blocks and put them in this bucket??" Kids love that stuff. Personally, I think more things in general can be accomplished if you make it fun. They had fun taking the toys out, why not have fun putting them away.

Swim lessons year round.

I say to so many people that swim lessons are necessary, not a luxury. My daughter is in gymnastics, that is a luxury. She doesn't need to be in gymnastics to be safe running around a mat. She is in gymnastics because she wants to be...and because I told her she could if she stopped biting her nails. She stopped in 2 weeks flat, so she is in gymnastics. But swimming is a whole other bird. Even if a kid doesn't want to swim, they need to learn how because at some point in their life, swimming and being around water will seem like so much fun and the longer they wait the harder it is.

If my daughter is near water, she NEEDS to know how to swim. There is no exception to this rule. It is very hard to bring a kid to the pool who doesn't know how to swim or who is not in lessons. I can't wait until both of my kids are "pool safe". But most importantly, I want my kids to love and respect the water. This is what you learn through lessons. Many parents are on top of the whole lesson thing come springtime. They usually sign up for classes all through the summer and stop as soon as the weather changes. I am asking parents to reconsider this. Why not keep your kids in lessons during every season. Not every day, but maybe a few times a month.

I remember my mom telling me a story of when my brother jumped in the pool for the first time after the winter. He jumped in after swimming up a storm the previous summer. As soon as he jumped in she said that he came up in a panic yelling, "I forgot how to swim! I forgot how to swim!" My mom quickly yelled back to him, "Put your head in, move your arms and kick your legs." It suddenly all came back to him and he survived just fine.

If we keep our kids in lessons year round imagine how much more fun they will have every summer. I love watching my kids in the pool, exploring the water with confidence. With lessons, that is what will happen. Even if the snow is falling and the thought of jumping into the pool is enough for you to shiver, think of how great you will feel about all of your swim efforts come May....and your kids will thank you through their smiles in the pool.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Why I love cereal and other healthy snacks.

Hi, my name is Summer and I am a snacker. I have snacks in my purse at all times. I blame it on being a mom but really I eat at least 50% of the snacks that I haul around. Most of the snacks in my purse are of the cracker and nut variety. I am a big almond and cashew fan. And when I am really on top of it, I will mix my nuts with some dried cherries and blueberries. Thank you Costco for the wonderful big bags of dried fruit!

But my go to snack, morning, noon and night is cereal. I love it. Now, I realize that it is not the ideal "on the go" snack but it is so fun to eat. I am sure you are questioning the whole fun to eat theory but it is and I will explain why I feel this way.

My addiction/obsession with cereal began in college. Don't get me wrong, I have always loved cereal but when I got to college it became a creative and fun snack as well. See, our sophomore year at Stanford, 6 of us girls all lived together in a dorm called "the suites". We loved it for so many reasons. We each had our tiny, little room and could hang out in our decent sized common room. But we LOVED it because we got to belong to an "eating club". Yes, it is just as it sounds. During the first week of school you would go around to the 4 different clubs connected to the suites and decide which style of food or vibe you liked better. I forget the one we decided on but I loved their cereal selection. It was at this point when I began to mix my cereals. I would mix 3 or 4 cereals in one bowl and create a masterpiece.

Hmmm...I am starting to sound very obsessed wasn't that bad. I just really liked the idea of mixing and I could never, for the life of me, figure out why it took me so long to do it. I was raised to put one type of cereal in my bowl in the morning. Putting 2 kinds in one bowl would have been kind of nuts. But the eating club changed all that forever.

Since college, I always mix my cereal. Always. For instance, if I am staying at a Hampton Suites and they have a buffet breakfast in the morning, I will take 2 or 3 different boxes of cereal and dump them in the same bowl. Crazy, huh?! You can't stop me. At home I go from the Cherrios and Quaker Oat Squares mixture to the Craklin Oat Bran and Grape-nuts mixture. But enough about the mixtures, let's get back to cereal as a great snack.

Cereal is not just for breakfast anymore. My kids often snack on cereal and I am totally fine with that. My daughter and I often have a cup of cereal before we go to bed. I love this as a healthy option to fuel yourself for a good night sleep. I am usually hungry before bed and this really helps me. It is such a better option than some ice cream and cookies(although I do that sometimes as well)

As parents, we need to have good snacks in the house. If you have the healthier snacks available and ready to go, kids are more likely to choose them. I know cereal is a sit down at the table snack but it is very easy to prepare. Make sure that your cereal choices are healthy and not sugary and you are ready to go. I don't think you can have too many boxes. We are consistently stocked at about 10 boxes.

No matter when, cereal is your belly's friend. Happy eating!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I am a runner and I love it.

There are several people in my life that don't get how I can love running as much as I do. I understand why they don't like hurts their knees and it is boring are their reasons. I, on the other hand, love almost everything about it.

I started running as soon as I stopped swimming. I have been a runner for 17 years. I can't believe that...I have been a runner as long as I was a competitive swimmer. I started swimming competitive when I was 4 and retired when I was 21. Crazy! I started with an awesome run at Stanford that was very simple and fairly easy, the "Campus Loop." There was absolutely no way of getting lost. Next came the spectacular run along the marina to the Golden Gate...I used to be able to touch the bridge(before 9/11) I later moved to Colorado and started running with my dogs which became a whole other kind of adventure and where I built up a great base because of the altitude. And for 9 years I was seen every day in Central Park, running the 6 mile loop. I love running in NYC! Now I am back at altitude in Park City, UT which is at 7500 ft.

I have literally run all over the world. I have run in Italy, France, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, New Zealand, Australia, Rwanda, South Africa, Mexico, Greece and all over the USA. It is the easiest and most convenient form of exercise because all you need are your shoes and and the open road! And there is no better way to get to know the town you are in than running it. I have found more local coffee shops and fun eating spots this way.

I don't race a bunch but I have run 2 NYC marathons, 3 half marathons and several 5 K's over the years. I try my best just to have fun with my races but who am I kidding, I am competitive to the end. Actually when I ran the NYC marathons, they were some of the best days of my life. I absolutely LOVED that challenge.

But when I think about running, I don't think about challenge or marathon or all the different countries and cities. I think about how wonderful it is to use my body to move and how lucky I am to be alive and healthy. It might sound cheesy but breathing in the fresh air and feeling your heart and lungs and legs and arms working all together is extraordinary. And most times, I am listening to some jammin music and loving it even more. Makes me wanna get on out there right now. Too bad it is 11pm. Guess it will have to wait till tomorrow. If you haven't tried running yet, try it, and if you have, try it again. I hope you love it like me.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sitting around doing nothing with my mom.

It is the simple moments with my mom that I love. Right now we are sitting in our hotel room watching some silly girlie movie while the kids sleep in the other room. We have been quite lucky over the past couple of years. We have been able to travel quite a bit together all over the world, sometimes with the kids and sometimes without. But the times I cherish the most are just chillin at the end of the day.

A few years ago we were lucky enough to travel to China with the NBA. She had always wanted to go so when I found out about the trip, I organized it so that she could join along. We had a blast and saw both Shanghai and Beijing together. We stayed at some incredible hotels, saw amazing sites and tasted some wonderful food but what I remember most is one hilarious evening.

While in Beijing, my mom had ordered a glass of wine to the room. She hopped in the shower and was just getting dressed when there was a knock on the door. I opened the door while my mom hid in the bathroom. In walked the nicest and shyest room service man. My mom thought that he had left and walked out of the bathroom in her underwear and bra. This super shy room service man didn't know what to do. He just stood there looking at me, half mortified. My mom had no idea he was there for what seemed like 5 minutes. It was probably about 30 seconds later when I casually informed her that we were not alone...I think I said, "He's still here mom." She then screamed and tried to cram herself into the smallest closet ever which was right by the door. The room service man opened the door and walked right by her quietly saying goodbye. We were on the floor laughing about this for, honestly, a few days. Even now, I am absolutely cracking up.

I am very fortunate to have such a great relationship with my mother. She is able to help me with the kids when I need it and is actually, really grateful for the time she gets to spend with them. Can you believe that, she thanked me for getting to spend such quality time with them when in fact she is doing me the favor of a lifetime. Meanwhile I am so happy and comforted knowing my kids are being taken care of by their grandma. I try my best not to take her for granted....I am thanking her all the time. My kids and I are incredibly lucky. Not only do we have a grandma/mom who loves and supports us but we also have a kick ass grandma/mom who is full of life and makes us laugh.

I am hoping that we have many more stories down the road like the one from Beijing. I can just imagine my mom, my daughter and myself doubled over because of something I did. That would be fantastic! Here's to grandmas!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back in the city!

I first moved to NYC in 1997. It was a very fun and exciting move until our apartment was a total wreck and we were homeless for about a month. Don't worry, we weren't on the streets. We were staying with a friend who was helping me Connecticut. When we finally got settled on 81st Street between Columbus and Amsterdam I was a little less excited. Whenever someone would ask me how I like NY I would say, "I Hate It!" That lasted for about a year.

After a year, I learned how to love the city. I became comfortable with my neighborhood and figured out that you have to spend money to be happy in the city. I finally got a parking garage for my car so that I didn't have to battle opposite side of the street parking...I later ditched the car all together. I moved all around the upper west side from 68th to 86th. I ran in the park most every day even when it rained or snowed. I ate all my yummy breakfasts at Good Enough To Eat and loved my pizza from Patsy's.

I left the city when I decided to marry my husband. We knew I didn't want to raise a family in the city but we did know that we wanted them to experience city life. And that is exactly what they are doing. We arrived into JFK yesterday after a smooth ride with the kiddos. When we crossed the park and made it to the upper west side, I was so excited. There were so many familiar stores and restaurants and I suddenly became very grateful for my 9 years in NYC. Even the first one.

Today is my birthday and we did as much as we could. We went to the park and played on the playground. We ran and ran and smashed sticks and threw rocks. We climbed stuff and jumped off of curbs. We rode on in a horse drawn carriage and gave them special love afterward. We threw coins in the fountain. We noticed every siren and honk. My son was the first to point them out. We got to high five Batman! And we saw some random aliens...only in NYC.

Kids should experience THE CITY. I hope we get to do this many more times in the future.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Get serious about your teeth.

Let me just start off by saying that my dad is a dentist. He would always say to his patients, "You can either brush and floss and YOU go on vacation or don't brush and floss and I go on vacation." Get it. It is pretty simple. Brush for about 3 minutes and floss every night and you should have pretty darn good oral conditions. Why is that so hard to do? Or am I the only one.

Don't be grossed out just yet. I brush every single night and almost every morning (remember, I am a mom and sometimes we remember as we are driving in the car to start our day.) I floss maybe 9 times a year. That is sad. I spent almost 3 years in braces and I need to take my teeth seriously. Especially when it comes to teaching my kids.

Just like in my house growing up, we do not have soda or sugar cereals. My dad, the dentist, had an incredible sweet tooth but he knew those two things would create real problems with our health and our teeth. He also made sure that we brushed our teeth and got our teeth cleaned. He never hounded us to follow a specific protocol but we knew what our teeth needed.

What a lot of people don't know is that your gums are usually the first sign of health problems. All health problems. You can tell a lot about a persons stress level and sleep deprivation all through the gums. I often tell my daughter that she needs to brush her teeth otherwise her teeth will fall out and she won't be able to eat anymore candy. This might be harsh but it works and I know how important healthy habits are.

So here is the deal, my daughter is 3 1/2 and she has had her teeth cleaned twice. I get my teeth cleaned every six months. You need to make your teeth and your kids teeth a priority. Don't wait until the ache to go in and see the dentist, make it a habit and a part of your regular check-up. Start this with your kids, make sure they don't skip too many brushings and always be there to go over their work, maybe adding a swipe or two with the brush. We only get one set of teeth and like my dad said it can either be you or your dentist that gets that vacation. Make it you!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What is it with underwear?

This blog is gonna make a few guys blush so if you are at all sensitive to the "girlie talk" stop reading now. Don't say I didn't warn ya.

My pantie and bra drawers are ridiculous. Seriously, it is as if I never thought I was going to get another pair of panties ever in my life. I think I still have some in my drawer from college. I guess I have always just sort of kept them around just in case I didn't get to the laundry for a good 2 months. REALLY?! I am a mom now. I do laundry every day...sometimes twice a day. I need a make-over of my undergarment drawer.

Here is what I have decided. If my undies are saggy, losing elasticity, too high, a bad color, or have not been worn in the past year, they are trashed. And certainly, if I don't recognize them, that means they are way, way too old. I am not gonna blame that on my mommy brain. Once I have decided my throw aways and my keepers, then I will know how many new undies I get to go out and purchase. I think a solid number of undies to have on hand is 26. Not quite a full month but several to choose from. Also, I am only a fan of white, black and beige/nude. Maybe one or two that are a little fun and sexier.

Now onto the over populated bra drawer. I find this hilarious when I only have 3 bras that actually fit me. Seriously, I think I have at least 23 bras in my drawer and only 3 fit me. Here is the deal, girls. I have 2 kids, therefore, my "girls" aren't coming back. What I have is what I have! I am told that the "girls" might make a comeback once I hit menopause but I am not counting on it. And I am certainly not holding onto my bras for 20 years just in case. So, every bra that is bigger than what I am now is gonzo. Either in the trash or given away. Even the super special ones. You all know what I am talking about. But don't get sad, my people, we will replenish with even better bras. And if you are not done having kids, stick tight, you might be able to enjoy them for a little while longer, or maybe forever. Never know.

Sure, to be beautiful, you need to feel beautiful on the inside. But it certainly doesn't hurt to feel put together, current or maybe even sexy at the first layer. Let's start layer by layer and work our way through our dresser. Organize and dignify! Enjoy your new skivvies!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Here is to my Stanford girls.

What do they it your high school years or your college years that are supposed to be the best years of your life. I think if I had to choose, it would be my college years. This is not to say that I would want to go back but I did make the most of my time at Stanford. I was on scholarship for my first 2 years and then I gave up my NCAA eligibility to take money before the 1992 Olympics. From that point on, I was writing the checks to pay for my hefty tuition bill every quarter. Every time the bill came, as I was writing the check I would ask my best friend, Heidi, why am I writing this check? She would quickly repy, to have the wonderful friends you have met.

She was right! I was more than lucky and it was more than worth it. Oh yeah, and the education wasn't half bad either :)! But what I loved most about my experience at Stanford was the humbling environment. I came back from the Olympics and it was no big deal. There were people excelling and winning the equivalent of a gold medal in every field. There was greatness all around and everyone was celebrated. I loved that.

My friends were the best part of my college experience. I met Heidi at the end of my freshman year. Her and 2 other volleyball players, Piper and Dani, soon joined us 3 swimmers, myself, Laurie and Lea as roomates for our sophomore year. It was fantastic. We were all very focused on our sport, our studies(some more than others) and our fun(some more than others). But we also made time to just chill. I remember a few nights when we would turn the lights off and Laurie would play DJ. We all loved U2 and she would turn on "One". It will go down as one of the most relaxing moments of my life. We were all there together calming our busy selves to just enjoy the moment. (that is a moment I would go back to)

My 15 year college reunion is one week from today. All of my friends will be there, many with their hubbies and their kids. I was all set to go. Hotel reservation in hand when my plans changed and I got a job. When they told me I got the job, they didn't tell me the dates, but deep down, I knew it would be over my reunion weekend. I am so very sad that I won't be there. I was looking forward to the football game and the dinners but mostly I was looking forward to hanging out with and absorbing the stories of the women that have made such an impact in my life, my college friends.

For those of you who went to college and/or had a fantastic experience you know how rare it is to get back on campus and relive a few of those awesome moments with your grown up college buddies. The great thing is that in the wonderful group of women that I am so lucky to call my friends, we have a stellar organizer named Annie. Every year she gets us together for a girls weekend. Reunion is our girls weekend this year but I know I will see them all next year, hopefully with a little(maybe a lot) of Chardonnay!

I guess I will set will look even more forward to my 20th! Good thing we don't get any older. And I just for the record, I think the best years of our lives are in front of us.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Letting your kids work it out.

This is my new motto. Seriously. I am tired of intervening partly because after the 6,000th time it is pretty time consuming and partly because I think it is a great learning tool. If they can't figure out how to work out their problems with their brother/sister, how are they going to have the skills to work out their problems with other people. I believe this is a very important skill.

In our family, my daughter is usually the passive one. She will be playing with a toy, my son will come over and grab it and then she will come over to me and cry that he took it away. I usually tell her to go try and work it out. But what I am noticing lately is that she is being a bit dramatic with situations. Even lying a bit. For instance, my son will be playing with something and she will want it and she will come out and say the exact same thing to me. "Spider took my toy." Hmmm, really. This was my red flag. She is relying on me too much. And they are both learning to get away with things.

My son is actually really tough. Almost too tough. He will fight for something until the end, until the toy is riped in half. What is not cool is that at 21 months, when the tug-o-war doesn't work, he goes back to the old stand-by of biting or hitting. This, is when I step in and take him away. I can't have him beating my daughter up. But getting her to figure out to be kind and rough is a good thing.

I try to give my kids the tools to resolve a situation. I ask my daughter to give my son another toy if she wants to play with the same toy as him. This often works. I teach them that they each get 10 seconds with the toy and then they have to share. If I am the one refereeing this all of the time, then I will never know if they are really getting it. It is hard for me to hear the crying and screaming but in the end, when they can resolve their differences and they come out of it unscathed and smiling, it is a minor achievement for me as the mommy. Actually now that I think of it, it is pretty major.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My favorite mom inventions, the crib tent and beyond!

Mother's and father's have used their brains to come up with some completely awesome inventions for parents. I mean thank you for the snack trap and the sippy cup. Of course there is also the simple invention of yogurt in a tube, that I then freeze and turn into treats. Clever! There are a million inventions that have come from other parents frustrations. It took a mom or a dad yelling, "Why don't they have something for this?!" And then they do it.

For instance, did you know they make crib tents? We know they make these because we were forced to investigate every option possible when our son started jumping out of his crib 2 weeks ago. The first time he did it was after a nap and he had waited till I went in to get him. He would get so mad when I would try to lift him or even help him out of the crib. All he would say was, "I Do." So I let him. And he DID. He was so proud of himself and I was smiling. Then, 2 nights later, I went to put him down for bed and he kept climbing out. I would put him in, and then I would hear a huge thud and 2 seconds later his door would open and he would say, "HI MAMA! OPEN DOOR." He only knows to talk in the form of a yell, not in a calm voice. I actually got quite concerned that he was going to hurt a limb or bite his tongue off (not making that last part up...heard that happens a lot)

Well, we immediately went on Amazon and stared searching around. We found the tent and had it shipped fed-ex. It got here in a day. We put it all together and it is amazing. We kind of want one for our bed. It is like his own little cave. And the best thing is he can't get out as it zips from the outside. It is truly a miracle product and I don't know what we would do without it. If I knew the parents who invented it, I would write them a really nice thank you card.

We are a traveling family and are getting ready to take a big, long trip so I went online and ordered the pac-n-play crib tent as well as the toddler portable tent. We are going to be beyond set. Our kids aren't going to get out of anywhere while sleeping.

I am so thankful that really smart and creative parents have come before us but I also think there are plenty more brilliant ideas out there. Every day I think of a few things that could be done better. For instance, can someone please invent an easier car seat for the airplane. Or what about a stroller that is side by side where the siblings can't attack each other. You know, an invisible line that isn't invisible! Just throwing out ideas. What I am doing is encouraging any parent with a decent idea to respond and make it happen. Go for it!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Can we please stop with Jon and Kate!

Seriously, we all have to stop. Somehow we have to let the media world know that we are not interested in Jon and Kate anymore. This is awful. It actually makes me sick and I don't even know what is going on. I don't keep up with it, I just know they are angry with each other again. I saw her face on "The Today Show" yesterday and I was appalled. Why is their divorce and why are their daily conversations in the news. Is it really newsworthy? I don't think so.

So many questions and so many opinions surrounding this story but I will focus on the reasons why I am disgusted by it. I come from a divorced family. My parents divorced when I was 7 years old. I didn't really know what was going on but a lot of my friend's parents were splitting up at that time so I felt like we were all the same, that my family life wasn't different from everyone else.

There were times when my mom and dad said mean things to each other. Where they were yelling and threatening each other. I remember my brother and I were super upset by all of this and relied on each other a bunch. The hardest part for me, as a 7 year old, was simply that my parents were not going to be living in the same house. My heart hurt for the parent that was not with us. Kids are put under a lot of stress during a divorce.

With all of that in mind, I cannot imagine if my parents were airing their dirty laundry in public. Talking to millions about how they said this or they said that and always tagging it with, "But I am trying to be the best parent and take care of the kids." Taking care of these little kids means keeping them safe from everything including hurtful words. These kids lives are out there for the public to see as well and without their consent. I can't imagine putting that on top of all the stress the family is under.

I, you and everyone else knows this is all coming down to money. If they really cared about the kids and didn't care about money, they would hide more and talk less until American's silly fascination with their family and their failures was no longer. I have to trust that they are good parents. That they do want what is best but they have gotten wrapped up in it all. I only hope they realize their mistakes and correct them sooner than later. I think many people would applaud them if they gave up their show and tried their best to live normal lives.

My parents are now great friends. We have celebrated countless holidays together and have created tons of fun memories. It took them a few years but they now consider each other friends. I can't imagine how they would feel if all of their hurtful words were out their in the public forever. Once it hits the airwaves, it will live on the internet for a long time. Think of the kids REALLY think of the kids and make it right!

Monday, October 5, 2009

If you make the threat, stick to it.

A minor example of what I am talking about occured this morning. I gave my kids their gummy vitamins. They love them. They actually think they are treats. They each get two and for some reason my son wanted the whole bag...again, they think they are treats. I calmly explained to him that they were vitamins and he could not have the whole bag. When I handed him his two he threw them on the floor. Crying hysterically he proceeded to stomp on them. I raised my voice and said, "Pick up those vitamin right now. It you don't, I will take them away." He didn't and so I took them away. It resulted in a pretty big meltdown but he got over it and didn't ask for them again.

We as parents need to decide when to lay down the law. There are about 1,000 times in a day when we could do this but deciding when and sticking to it is very important. I know we hear this all the time but a little reminder goes a long way. I am right there with you. Once you make the threat, all you think about is how 'out of sorts' they are going to be if you are forced to follow through. But trust me, they will get over it and they will learn about consequences.

And if you don't follow through, they will get that as well. I feel that if they see me as weak, they will take advantage of me. Especially when they are working together. ( I feel like I am not talking about my kids right I am defending a nation or something. ) For instance, if I gave my son another chance to get his vitamins, a light would go off and he would see a second chance as a viable option for the next time. In life, sometimes he will have a second chance, but many times he won't.

Also this morning, my daughter was getting dressed. She wanted to wear shorts. It was snowing outside so I said she had to wear pants. She was crying and carrying on so I said that if she didn't start to get dressed by the count of 3 she wasn't going to get a sticker on her chart. (you know..ten stickers equals a reward) I counted slowly (we all do, right, hoping that they do it so you don't have to deal with the aftermath) Well, I got to 3 and she had not made the move, so no sticker.

You would have thought I told her that sleeping beauty never wakes up. She carried on about the sticker for a good 15 minutes while I was loading Spider and all the necessary items into the car. I would pass by her and touch her head but never gave her my full attention or eye contact until she calmed down. She is pretty hard headed. She couldn't let it go. So we talked about it.

I explained to her as we were driving in the car that I didn't take her sticker away, she CHOSE not to get a sticker. I know she is only 3 but I actually think she understands this concept. She is smart enough to get it. I believe that when kids realize/learn that they are the ones deciding and that they are the ones accountable, they are on their way to becoming responsible kids. Even though it is tough and exhausting look at it as if you are giving them the greatest gift of their lives.

I will leave you with this...In the end, my daughter wore shorts under her pants...told you she was hard headed. It couldn't have been comfortable but she wanted it and she got it. Remember to pick your battles.:) Happy Parenting!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Look at your Monday differently!

I was 3 months pregnant with my daughter when we started a major construction job. We were remodeling and adding on about 800 sq ft to our old house. It was a pretty big deal and with any remodel it became more complex as we went along. At first we only wanted to change out the bathrooms, then we said let's change the doors, then we HAD to change the casing and baseboards. Oh my!

It was "my" project since Erik was over in Europe skiing at the time. So, I took the job very seriously and LOVED it. I actually think I became obsessed with seeing progress. When something big happened and their was a huge change like when the entire garage was torn off, I was beyond excited. When subs didn't show up or the structure didn't change, I was a bit disappointed.(that is putting it mildly)

I will never for get this one night as I put my pillow on my head I said to Erik, "I am super excited that tomorrow is Monday. Do you know why?" He said yes and then proceeded to sing a song, "Because of rat-tat-tat-ta-tat-ta-tat-tat-tat." It had a catchy little tune. I started busting up laughing. He knew. I was excited because we would be working on Monday. Or at least, people would be working on the house. The rat tat-tat is the sound of the hammer...get it?! See, I was tired of the waiting around on the weekend. (Again, love my weekends...but) I feel that way right now. I enjoy my weekends but I get pretty stoked on Sunday night because of the endless possibilities during the week to come. I look at Mondays as a great opportunity to get stuff done during the week. I love work conversations. Possible new gigs and opportunities in my business. I also love having a schedule and being able to work out and be healthy. I like being productive and Mondays get me back on that track!

Many people can't stand Mondays...think Garfield, for instance. Monday's get a bad rap because they are what keeps you from the weekend. They are the reality check or the early morning alarm clock. I don't think Mondays are that bad. Now, Thursday's are a whole other story...:)! Go get your Monday and make it great!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Scheduling family time.

My husband and I are not perfect at this my any means. We struggle with balancing our family time, our work time and our alone time. It seems a bit contrived but I feel like our lives are so busy that we actually have to schedule this in advance or at least talk about it throughout the week. It is tricky cause if you don't talk about it and set it up, someone is usually disappointed in some way.

Just speaking for myself, I often think of the perfect way to spend a Saturday or Sunday. I have it in my head of a big family breakfast on Sunday morning, for example. Well, if I don't schedule it or at least mention it, my husband is bound to have something else set up. Usually a bike ride or outside activity gets in the way. I end up slightly disappointed but also don't want him to miss out on a bike ride. In most every case, nobody is wrong it is just a lack of communication.

What we are now trying to do is schedule full family time. Meaning the entire family does an activity. Whether it be the zoo or the park we try to make sure it is something we all do together. We are also trying to discuss ahead of time when we want to have dinner together and about what time. My husband is starting a business and our kids are so young that all of this happens around 5-6pm. That is pretty early so if you don't plan for it, it can be difficult to get home from work or commitments.

Don't get me wrong, we still do the spontaneous stuff. The other day, it was super warm out. I think the last real summer-like day. The kids got up from their nap and we decided to go swimming. The pool happens to be right near my husband's office so I grabbed his suit and called him on the way. He ended up joining us right as we were entering the pool. It was monumental as both kids decided to go down this huge slide all by themselves. Their faces were priceless.

I know that we will continue to have those great last minute moments but I don't want life to get so busy that it passes us by. Making sure that you have family time is very important. Not just for the kids but for the parents as well. Whether it be a Sunday breakfast, an afternoon stroll or a picnic at night, setting it as "family time" will make life easier and fun!

Friday, October 2, 2009

My favorite pictures!

Do you have favorite pictures? If you do, have you looked at them in awhile? Are they up for everyone to see? Ok, if you answered yes to all these questions, you are awesome. If you didn't, I want to encourage you to get your memories out so they can shine. I have mine up in my room. Granted, they are constantly in need of a little updating and I have to get on a few more but all and all, I have some great memories to look at everyday.

Let me be clear, my "room" is my office. It really is my room to do with as I please. I love that. Aside from my kids section in the corner and their scattered toys and papers, it is all mine. The walls especially. I have some memorabilia on my shelves from my swimming days. The Honda Sports Award, my 92 Olympic Swim Team rugby shirt and a few signed balls and gloves are a part of my collection. But what I most treasure are my pictures.

Of course I have pictures of my wedding day. It was a special ceremony with only 22 people in attendance. We were/are so happy. And, damn we look young (it was only 4 years ago!!!). On our wedding day, we took a picture of our feet with my bouquet in between them. Since then, we have tried to take pictures of our feet on every vacation. We have one with all four feet in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. So fun.

My favorite pictures are all in one big frame. It is one of those you can buy at TJ Maxx where the matting dictates what size picture goes where. This one fits about 34 pictures. I tried to include everyone in my family. My favorite one is of my mom, dad, brother, aunt and friend Heidi. Someone caught their reaction just as I had won the gold medal in the 200 butterfly at the Barcelona Olympics. It is truly amazing. You can actually look at if for minutes. Checking out the detailed expression on each person's face. There is also a picture of my mom, Skye and I on our first trip together. I remember my mom was sooo nervous about helping me with her. She hadn't been around babies in awhile. She did a wonderful job, of course. There are pictures of my grandparents, cousins and my brother and I as little kiddos. The most precious one of all is of Skye and I right after she was born. Literally, I think she was only about 15 seconds old. She is looking up at me so sweetly and innocently and I am beaming at the camera. Pictures really do say a million words.

So here is my point. Don't put it off any longer. I ususally go on shutterfly to get them printed out. Don't make it difficult for yourself. If printing your own takes too long, chances are you won't ever do it. The idea is to get your most special pics in frames so you can glance at them all day long. So you can constantly remember your most important moments and people. Why wait?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tomorrow is a big day for Chicago!

Chicago is sitting on pins and needles. They are waiting for the big announcement from the IOC officials who determine the location of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. So many years of hard work coming down to one moment in time...sound familiar. The games in the USA means so much more than tourism and prestige. It quite possibly could affect many kids lives the same way the LA games affected me.

My first Olympics was in 1984. The took place in Los Angeles. I grew up in Northern California so it was a no-brainer for us to make the trip down. Plus, my dad was a die-hard Olympic fan and he grew up in LA, so there was no way he was gonna miss out on this huge event. My brother and I were so excited but we didn't have a clue how cool it would be.

Leading up to the games, the news was negative (like it always is before an Olympics). They were saying that the traffic would be horrible, the crime would be awful, that tickets and housing would be impossible and that the cold war and no Russians would make for bad competition. We didn't listen to a bit of that and without hesitation made our way to LA.

Our first event was opening ceremonies. We parked right near the Coliseum and walked right problem. We had tickets to a few nights of swimming but other than that, we needed to find people selling problem. We had the best time ever at every event including boxing, wrestling and the woman's marathon. I had my USA flag and got so many people to sign it including Pernell Whitaker, Jenna Johnson, Mary T. Meagher and many more. Looking back on it now, as a parent, my dad must have gotten the biggest kick out of my brother and I running around trying to grab as many autographs as possible.

What I have not told you yet is that a few months before I left for the LA Games, I had decided to take a break from swimming. I might have even used the word 'quit'. My parents just bit their tongue and let me work my way through the decision. Deep down they new, my mom especially, that I had a ton of talent. Being at the LA Games absolutely, 100% fueled my fire and on the way home, in the airport, I called my friend and announced with incredible enthusiasm that I was going back to swimming. All I knew is that one day I wanted to be standing on the podium like the women I saw, Tracy Caulkins, Mary T. Meagher and Mary Lou Retton, listening to the National Anthem while receiving a gold medal. It was THE defining moment in my career. Imagine how many children will feel the same way if the 2016 Olympic Games are in Chicago. In our backyard. What a gift! My fingers are crossed. Go USA!