Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tears, Cheers and The Love of Ribbons!

Proud mom was an understatement.

I remember watching my nephew swim in his first meet. I remember tears rolling down my cheeks because I was so proud of his effort. Cute little Ryder's effort in the big giant swimming pool. Last Thursday, I experienced that moment, not as an aunt, but as a mom and to say I was proud was an understatement.

I will be honest with you, I want to give my kids every opportunity to love the sport of swimming. I don't care if they move on to the big league's, I just want them to learn about themselves through this amazing sport. Learn about teamwork, racing, being humble winners and kind losers. I want them to fall in love with the joy of winning a ribbon…such an easy way to build confidence!!

We joined "swim team" because the kids wanted to. Or shall I say, Skye wanted to and therefore Spider wanted to…he wants to do everything his older sister does (sounds like me with my brother!). They don't necessarily love swim "practice". To them it is a half hour of not going down the slide. But, I tell them, if they don't do the "practice" part, they can't do the "meet" part. The meet part won out.

So, they put in 2 weeks worth of work and earned a spot in the 25 freestyle. The meet started at 5pm but we got there at 4:30 to warm-up with the team. The warm-up came and went and my two little ones were nervous and excited about hanging with the big kids. It was pretty funny for me also…I had no idea what I was supposed to do or how the meets worked in our area. I was told to take them down to the other end of the pool and they would assign them a lane at the last minute.

Skye clung to me a bit. She was all decked out in her "Silver Mountain Swim Team" swim cap and had saved her Speedo for this big race. Now she just needed a little more information to ease her mind. We waited for the second heat so I could show her exactly how it would go down. "See the starter over there? And you will start in the water and swim to the other end. Do you see daddy at the other end? You wait for the BEEP and then you go…freestyle to the other end!" She was scared, so I told her she didn't have to do it. But then she started to smirk…so I said, "Let's do it! Give me FIVE!" And that was it. She plopped in the water, never taking her eyes off the starter and away she went. Little Skye in the big pool going for it with all her might! Tears were flowing down my cheeks, Spider and I were cheering and when she reached the end in 53.83 seconds, she immediately asked her dad, "Can I do that again?!" (And later she did…the 25 backstroke and a last minute entry in the 25 fly! )

Spider was up next. He got in without wetting his hair and looked back at me with both hands on the wall. His big concern was the loudness of the BEEP, not the race. He didn't want the BEEP to be too loud. I simply told him to have fun. The BEEP sounded and he didn't move, so I said, "Go Spider." And away he went. He forgot was he was supposed to do at first, dog paddling with his head up. His legs were going a mile a minute and then in went his head. Bless his heart, is all I kept thinking. This 3 year old kiddo is trying so hard to keep up with his sister…giving it his all. Amazing. He touched the wall in 1minute and 19 seconds. Everyone was cheering. He got out of the water and was beaming! He was so excited about his green ribbon that they had handed him. He turned to me with the widest smile and said, "Did I win?" I said, "You sure did buddy!"

The whole way home, you could feel the pride in the car. Skye and Spider were proud of the themselves and Mommy and daddy were so proud of their effort. The next morning they each woke up asking if there was a swim meet that day. When I heard that, mommy gave a little smirk! I've got some racers on my hands!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Today is Olympic Day...Let the dreams begin!

Today is Olympic Day. A day to celebrate everything the Olympic Games stand for and most importantly a great opportunity to show a child the power of sport. It is a day to be inspired and inspire others.

For me, it is also a day to remember the first time I was inspired by the Olympics. I was 11 years old and had just taken some time off of swimming because I thought there were more exciting ways to spend my time. My dad was a huge Olympic fan and had planned a family vacation to the 1984 LA Games. There were so many reasons not to go…."the traffic will be insane", "all the hotels are full" and "tickets are impossible to find". My dad, the native LA guy, wasn't concerned for a second about all of the warnings. He knew he would find a way.

And he did…and so began my dream. We found tickets to every event we wanted to attend. My '84 Olympic experience began with the Opening Ceremonies…and that was just the beginning. It took to me about 2 seconds to catch the Olympic Fever. From that point, we went to boxing matches, wrestling matches, volleyball games, track and field and, of course, swimming! I waited outside the venue for everyone's autograph…from Pernell Whitaker to Mary T Meagher! I had everyone sign a little American Flag and saved it until my dad's house burnt down 3 years ago.

On our way home from LA, I called my best friend and told her I was going to start swimming again. I was truly inspired and motivated. From that moment on, when I imagined my dream Olympic moment, it had memories of the LA Games written all over it. I would imagine Mary Lou nailing her final vault to win the all-around gold medal or Tracy Caulkins watching the American Flag being raised with tears in her eyes. I would replace their moment with my face.

Today is a celebration of "the dream"! A celebration of kids everywhere believing they can do anything they want to, as long as they put their mind to it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summertime swim fest!

Summertime growing up in Northern California meant hanging at the pool. Everyday, all day! And, you know what? That is my life now.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, the kids and I hop into the car at 9:55am to their "swim team" practice from 10:15-10:45. A half-hour with at least one potty break and several smiles and waves to mom! It is a half-hour full of giggles with their friends, kicking like crazy and falling over on their kick boards. Today, I videoed both Skye and Spider swimming their versions of backstroke. Skye was giggling the entire time and Spider had the biggest smile on his face.

I love summertime. I love the fact that kids get to, well, be kids! They get to play until their little bodies run out of play-energy. I am not alone at the pool. I see several mom's that arrive early for lessons or swim team and "set up camp" with the plan to stay poolside all day. It is, by far, the greatest activity for kids! They stay cool, burn energy and learn a life skill! Oh, yeah, and if you are lucky enough to have a slide at your pool…well then there are plenty of Whoo Hoo's also!

If you are like me and spending tons of time at an outdoor pool, or even a lake or ocean. Keep these sun and swim safety tips in mind…
1. Peak hours of UV exposure are from 11-2!
2. Always wear sunscreen and reapply at least every 2 hours.
3. Always keep your eyes on your kids..be your family's CEO (Constant Eyes On)
4. Know the tides and what the diff colored flags mean at the beach!
5. Never turn your back on the ocean! Even parents!
6. Put your toddlers in the same swimsuit color every time you go swimming. That way if, god forbid, they go missing you will not waste time thinking what color suit they were wearing.
7. Take your kids out for breaks and recognize when they have had enough.
8. Drink plenty of water…easier said than done…but force it down your kiddos.
9. There is some cool sun protective clothing out there….use it if needed!
10. Make sure your kids know the rules at the pool. Reinforce them often!
11. Kids learning to swim should keep their hands to themselves. "Helping" someone might actually be holding them under.
12. HAVE FUN!!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

If only I could be in 2 places at once!

Tonight is a huge night for my 5 year old little girl. She has been working for this moment since October. I will never forget her first day of dance...a little shy, all smiles and sporting the cutest mismatched dance outfit an non-dance mommy could put together.

When I signed Skye up for "Intro to ballet/tap II" I was told to mark down a very important date, June 13th! It immediately went on my calendar with a mild concern. See, whenever anything is written on my calendar that far in advance, work has a tendency to get in the way. And sure enough it has.

For 8 months Skye has gone from school to Dance Tech where she has snacked on her school lunch while giggly putting on her tights, tutu and ballet slippers. We have, together, mastered the art of the perfect arrangement of her tights in the toe region. (Why they put the seam at the end of the toe, I will never know)
She has learned her positions, perfected her leap and made great friends with her fellow ballet beauties.

Tonight at approximately 6:25pm my daughter will take the "big stage" for her first ever recital. She will have her beautiful costume on with the band aids carefully stick to her sides where it rubs. She will have her hair back in a super tight and slightly high ponytail, just the way she likes it. Her hair piece and bracelets that go with her costume will be secure. And, I am sure daddy will get those tights in the exact spot on her toes to make her happy. I will be in Orlando gearing up for my big event. I am thrilled to be a part of this event but as a mom, I am sad...words cannot describe how I wish I could be in 2 places at once. But the fact is, I will miss this one. I told her I would not be there to see her during our special time together yesterday and the funny thing is, she didn't seem to mind one bit...guess it's just mommy.

I realize am not the only parent missing their child's recital and I realize there will be many more that I will attend. A friend said something interesting to me the other day. He said, "They only remember when you are there." Funny thing is, I remember when I am not. From 2,000 miles away, I will hop on the phone with my husband, get the details and beam with pride. And, if I am lucky, she will re-enact her BIG moment just for me on the BIG stage right in our living room.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Teamwork parenting makes for a happy family!

Soon after my son was born, I had this overwhelming desire to get back to work. I think part of it stemmed from the love of my job and part of it stemmed from wanting and needing to contribute financially to my family. Regardless, the desire was there and I dove in head first.

My husband, Erik, and I discussed my decision at length and he could tell right away that there was no stopping me. He was in his last few years of ski racing and had his sights set on standing atop the podium, winning his first World Cup. He had given up all of his contracts to ski on the best skis possible which I felt was beyond admirable. I took it as a time for me to step up and pay some bills.

My first job back was with the NFL Players Association. Spider was about 4 months old and Skye was a few days shy of 2. Life was hectic at that stage but I remember loving every second of my time with them. They came with me to Washington DC and my dad came along to help. (It really does take a village) That trip was just the beginning, Spider and Skye logged so many miles with me that Spring and Summer, they earned a few free tickets on Delta. We shot a commercial for the 2008 Olympics, we went to Omaha for the US Olympic Swimming Trials. On each trip I somehow convinced a family member to join me and we soaked up our time together.

In Dec, Erik decided to retire from ski racing. He was 36 and it had been his career since the age of 16. Twenty years on the US Ski Team, 3 Olympic Games and countless World Championships. Going from a full time professional athlete to a full time daddy was a bit of an adjustment. We worked through a ton over the next 2 years to where we are at today. Lots of conversation about teamwork in parenting and I am proud to say it has paid off big time.

Both my husband and I are working parents. One person's career is not more important than the other and we stopped keeping score long ago….that NEVER gets you anywhere. We broke it down to it's simplest form….We want to raise happy, healthy, loving and respectful kids. The key word being, WE! Therefore we both step up big time when the other person is gone or in major work mode.

I am still traveling quite a bit (averaging about 3 days every 2 weeks) and get to take the kids every now and then. But when I don't, I know that I have my other half at home who is thrilled to be their rock. There was a time when I would give my husband my schedule and he was less than enthusiastic but now, he gets it and rises to the challenge. Although I miss my family big time, I don't apologize anymore for being gone, it is a part of our system. One thing we try to do consistently is thank each other for all they do…because we both know, first hand, how much effort it takes. Teamwork parenting has made our marriage so much stronger, words cannot describe it properly.

Right now I am in Bentonville, AR while my kids are at home with their daddy. I told them last night that I was going to be gone for a couple of days and they said, "Who will be watching us?" I said, "Daddy!" Their faces lit up!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Spring is FINALLY here so let's take our workout outside!

I know I am not alone when I say that I am tired of hearing myself complain about the weather. Let's clear this up. Unless you spent the winter in Palm Desert and a few other locations, you didn't really have a Spring and the Spring you did have was way too cold and way too soggy. Last week, my son woke up to see giant snow flakes falling onto our snow covered backyard and immediately screamed with excitement. He said, "First it was Spring then it was Summer and now it is Winter and I get to ski with daddy!" I laughed out loud but inside I was longing for our deserved warm weather. There you have it. Nuff said. Let's move on.

I live in Park City, UT. Yes, a California girl in Utah. I love living here and raising my kids here but I have to say that in my perfect world, our winter would start Dec 1st and end Feb 28th. That would be amazing. I live for the summer and I love wearing flip flops and that doesn't mix when their is snow on the ground 7 months out of the year.

But let's focus on the positive. The sun is finally shining and I am so very happy to take my workouts outside. I am plenty caught up on daytime programming with my late morning treadmill workouts and my legs have had their fair share of "out of the saddle" spinning segments. My heart and lungs are ready for some exploration and some fresh air.

With the change of the season, it is a great time to change up your workout. Mix things up a bit by taking your normal routine outside. You don't always need weights. In fact, your own body weight works even better sometimes. Do you have a playground nearby? Perfect place to challenge yourself. Use the end of a slide for dips targeting your shoulders and triceps. Monkey bars? Awesome place to get in a few pull-ups and chances are they are short enough for you to cheat a bit. If there is a grassy soccer field close by then you have got it made. Now you can mix in some intervals of 3-5 minutes of jogging to get your heart pumping. Lunge across the field while taking in the fresh smell of flowers and the sounds of chirping birds.(takes your mind off of the burn) And, hey, while you are at it, drop down and give yourself 20…push-ups that is! Finally, the icing on the cake, abs. Cycle through sets of 30-50 changing up your position each time around the park. Make sure to fly through these series of exercises at least 3 times. You will burn the calories and sweat it out while feeling like a 10 year old! And if you have a 10 year old, bring them along…they always know the REALLY fun stuff on the playground.