Category Archives: Motherhood

another ski day

I took L and B skiing today, and as usual, it was a bit of an existential struggle.  Well, perhaps just tiring . . . but oh so tiring!  But also as usual, I’m glad we went.

B has the green pants, and L has the bright orange/pink pants and blue coat.

Usually when we go to Crystal, I put the girls in lessons, as they have a wonderful lesson program, in contrast to the other local resort we go to.  However, it’s expensive, and they’ve definitely reached a point where we can ski together.   It was about 30 degrees at the base, maybe 25 degrees at mid mountain.  Lift lines were longer than usual, probably due to MLK weekend, so we mostly skied the bottom half of the mountain where they were shorter, but we sadly didn’t get to ski as much on the powder on the top half.  25-30 degrees seems quite warm for skiing but perhaps because it was snowing steadily the whole time, the girls and I were very chilled by the time we left and might have stayed longer otherwise.  For my part, the girls were skiing much more slowly than I usually do, and as a result, I wasn’t getting as much exercise or getting my heart rate up as much as usual, and I think that contributed to being cold.

We stuck to the green runs as I didn’t want to have to try and rescue them if they had a bad fall on a blue run.  It was actually really fun to ski runs all day that I could ski confidently and without any stress at all.

Life has been stressful and will continue to be so for a while yet.  So many decisions, so much uncertainty, so many logistics to be attended to, and trips coming up.  Oh the logistics!  We’re in the thick of things.  My parents are at the other end.  I’m grateful for my relative youth and all that is in my life, even if it’s beyond exhausting at times.  One day at a time.

Tracfone and phones for kids

I think Tracfone has a reputation of being an inferior phone service, but I believe this is quite wrong.  In fact, I’ll call it an official Great Thing.  In general, Tracfone offers all the things that the major carriers do, but for less money.

What I use:

  • $200 annually, $223 including tax – works out to $18.40 / month
    • Unlimited talk and text
    • 24 GB of data total
    • Once data runs out, it must be purchased at $10 / GB.  I typically use less than 2 GB per month, so this works for me. (Note that the phone will simply stop providing data; there is no auto-purchase option.)
    • No hot spot capability – never needed or wanted this

What J is going to switch to:

  • $35 / month, $40 / month including tax
    • Unlimited talk and text
    • 8 GB of data total
    • Once data runs out, it must be purchased at $10 / GB.  (Note that the phone will simply stop providing data; there is no auto-purchase option.)
    • Hot spot capability included – important to J

The only major drawback I’ve noticed with Tracfone is that international calling is a plan.  While on Har.bour Island in the Baha.mas, I was unable to get international calling working on my Tracfone.  I do think it might be easier for other countries, but proceed with caution if you need to make international calls regularly.

Has anyone else bought a phone for their kids?  We bought a flip-phone for L.  I’ve posted on here about communications difficulties with her gymnastics coaches, and I basically was very concerned we’d leave her at practice and she’d get left on her own at some point.  The building where the gym is (a Salv.ation Army) also serves as a soup kitchen for the local homeless population, and I just felt it would be safest if she had a phone.  She is on a Tracfone plan as well.  For $100, we got a year’s worth of service plus 400 “minutes” which can be used for talk, text or web, which is Trafone’s cheapest option.

great game, great game

Yesterday, B scored two goals at her soccer game!  I was ecstatic.  Overall, I’d say she’s a very average player in the league who had a very good day.  Remember that B didn’t walk until 17 months and had therapy for gross motor delays.  Everyone says, “they all develop at their own pace and she’ll catch up,” which is actually nonsense.  Kids who are behind early may catch up in the sense that, yes, that will eventually learn to walk.  However, many or even most will be consistently behind their peers in terms of gross motor unless they receive continuing support in order to catch up and keep up.  (Of course, it depends on why the child was delayed.  L was a late walker because she considered walking dangerous and didn’t want to do it.  B was a late walker due to hypotonia and other issues.)

When we first took B to soccer a couple years ago, they had a program where a hundred or more kids would show up at a giant field and they’d divide them into groups and have a “practice.”  It wasn’t well set up to meet the needs of less talented kids and had a two year age range, which is huge at age 5 and 6.  B, with a late birthday, was one of the youngest kids there.  They also didn’t segregate by gender.  There were maybe two boys in B’s group of 10, and they dominated 90% of the play with one or two girls managing to participate and the rest mostly watching and running around without ever touching the ball.  B spent most of the session in tears because she couldn’t keep up when they ran, and she couldn’t keep up when they dribbled, and she didn’t know how to dribble anyway, and she couldn’t do the drills and so on.  I was pregnant and feeling like crap and it was kind of a nightmare, but it was apparent to Jonathan and I that she was far behind the other kids and that she wouldn’t “catch up” or keep up unless we put in some work.

Since then, during soccer season, we do our best to play soccer with her most days for half an hour or so.  We also sign her up for all the playing opportunities – the clinics, the winter indoor soccer, etc.  It’s been a fair amount of work, though also a lot of fun.  She enjoys it.  With that said, I wonder if other parents are doing this with their kids.  Maybe some are but I assume most aren’t.  With all this work, despite B’s amazing goals today, she’s barely average, maybe a little below average, compared to the other kids.  (She is, however, gaining a better field sense and learning how to be in the right place at the right time and to take the opportunity to shoot if it arises – hence, her goals.)

Perhaps we should just sign her up for chess or some other activity that doesn’t require coordination or strength.  Personally, however, I believe that great joy can be achieved through sport and physical activity, and I think a lot of unathletic kids are denied that joy because so many sports programs are set up to reward the most talented children.  I want B to have the opportunity to find joy in sport and team competition.  If she decides it’s not her thing when she’s older, that’s obviously fine.

L has made it pretty clear that she’s not interested in ball sports (too dangerous – you might get hit!), but I’m glad she seems to have found her niche in dance, gymnastics and swim.

Triathlon race report

I did my second triathlon ever, and first in five years over the weekend.  I was so nervous about the open-water swim the night before, I couldn’t sleep.  I was also mentally exhausted from worrying about H’s trip back from NYC.  (He had some minor issues but was really worried just because he was traveling alone with two young children.  I worried along with him.)  Everyone ended up getting home super late, and I had to be checked in at transition by 7:00 am.  All this to say, I was feeling pretty unenthused about the triathlon on Friday night.

Nevertheless, I wasn’t about to back out at such a late stage.  Friday night, I got everything ready for both me and B.  Getting stuff ready for one triathlon is a huge pain, since you need to not only prepare for THREE sports but also to transition between the three sports rapidly. Doing this for TWO people was just a huge pain.

After waking up more or less hourly throughout the night, I was up at 5:45 to get ready for the race.  I headed to the local park the tri was in, and things were naturally chaotic, but after 15 minutes or so I was parked.  Transition was pretty information for the super sprint, without any assigned places, and I got my stuff set up and made friends with the first time triathlete set up next to me.  I then located another mom friend of mine who was also doing the race.  Chatting with her made me feel much better.  This is always the way for me at races.  I’m freaking out until I get there and find some people to talk to, and then I feel better.  The awful pre-race anxiety really deters me from big and difficult race, though.  It’s just so unpleasant.

After waiting and waiting and waiting – my wave was nearly last and was delayed by 30 minutes – we were finally off.  I was actually amazed how good I felt during the swim.  I passed most of the people in my wave and didn’t feel like I was trying particularly hard.  I *wasn’t* trying particularly hard.  I swam strong but paused every few strokes to have a good look at where I was going.  My wave consisted of women 40 and up, and it was much more low-key than the last tri I did, where my wave was a deep water start and included young and middle aged men.  During that start, I got clocked in the head quite hard, and it really set a negative tone for the whole swim.  This time, we all sort of strolled into the water, and gradually got going.  It was nice.

I’d decided to take it easy in transitions, and you can see me strolling out of the water here.  I look none too thrilled but I was mainly trying to avoid the rocks.

I got pipped at the finish line by one second, so maybe I should have strolled a little faster.

According to Strava, I swam 494 yds at 1:59 / 100 yard pace.  That includes a slow water entry and exit.  I think the wetsuit helped a ton, but trying to get it off during transition was a huge hassle.  Garmin clocked 4:23 for the first transition and I was sweating bullets trying to get the wetsuit over my watch and the chip.  (Yes, probably should have removed those first.)

I got my shoes and socks on and strolled some more with my bike and then finally heaved myself on and got going.  The first mile or so of the bike was narrow and twisty as we wove out of the park and it wasn’t really possible to pass.  Then we got going.  I had looked at my notes from my last tri and noted that I was destroyed after 17.5 mph on the bike, so I was trying to keep my effort more moderate this time.  I ended up average 15.8 mph, so I think I did a good job balancing working hard but not killing myself.  The course had a few hills which was unexpected since it had, I thought, been advertised as “flat.”  Things weren’t too congested and once I found my pace I mostly tracked behind this man.  Who was 78!  So awesome.

It was definitely a bit hot on the bike.  And it seemed to go on forever.  I was racing, after all, and an hour is a long race, especially compared to a 10 minute swim.

Finally the bike was over.  Again, I took my time racking my bike, taking some water and Gatorade, and getting my shoes on for the run.  When you bike and then run, it’s called (in triathlon parlance) a brick and for good reason.  My run splits ended up being 8:48, 8:25, 8:05.  I didn’t go to the well.  I could have gone faster, but it was hot and the ground was rough and I just didn’t want to make myself sick.  However, a women in my age group ran by me right at the line, so yeah.  I wish I’d gone just a little faster.  Oh well.  I was actually fourth in my age group, but #1 set a world record in the swim.  Eg – she either didn’t swim at all or only swam part way.  And #2 had no splits for the swim or bike and a very slow run split, making me think she skipped the swim.

I kind of love my trisuit!  I was afraid it would feel hot, but it didn’t really bother me.

After all this, I was more than a little bit tired, but it was time for triathlon number 2.  Well, almost.  After an hour or so of hurry up and wait, it was time for B’s tri.  She was VERY nervous, but like me, once she got to the startline and saw all the other kids, she was good to go.  She lined up right at the front.  That’s her in the wetsuit looking thing, which she actually wears for swim practice as well since she has no thermal mass and gets cold too easily.

Once they got going it turned out the “swim” was really a water dash.  OMG.  It would have been easier for them to swim than run 100 yards on the rocky beach.

I don’t have any photos of B on her bike, but she said it was her favorite part of the race.  She does love biking.  She wasn’t such a fan of the run.

The “run” was half a mile, which is actually kind of a long way for a 7 year old who’s already done the rocky water run plus a cycle and running around in and out of transition.  Nevertheless, B sprinted it in and was all smiles afterwards.

By the time B was done, we were well and truly exhausted and staggered home to rest and recover.  I highly recommend a tri for kids and for adults, but not at the same time.  If B ever wants to do a tri again, I think we’ll pick one I’m not participating in.  Personally, I think I’m good for another year or two.


triing and swimming

For a running race, I consider temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees ideal.  45 to 50 is nice because you can dress in shorts and short sleeves; for an easy run I’ll wear long sleeves or capris tights until it’s 50 or close to it, but for races that drops to 45 or so.   But for a triathlon, I prefer it to be warmer for obvious reasons.  For cycling, I’d say 65 to 70 and overcast is perfect, and for swimming, the hotter the better.

On a side note, we had a birthday party for B over the weekend at the pool, on 7/16, and it was mid 60s and overcast with a few rain drops here and there.  I had to laugh.  Where is global warming when you need it?  Fortunately, the kids had a great time, and we all enjoyed huddling in the hot tub.

My triathlon is Sunday, and I have a start time of around 8 am.  I estimate it’ll take me less than 2 hours to complete the race – a 400 m swim, 15 mile bike, and 3 mile run.  At 8 am, it’s supposed to be mostly sunny and 63 degrees.  At 10 am, it’s supposed to be 68 and sunny.  While 68 is definitely warmer than I’d prefer for a running race, overall I definitely can’t complain.  The water temperature at the lake is 72 to 74.  That’s warm enough that I could skip a wetsuit, especially given how short the swim is, but I’m planning to wear one at this point.  It’ll probably cost me a few minutes trying to get it off, but oh well.

Normally for biking hard in the mid 60s, I wouldn’t want or need any extra layers beyond a short sleeve jersey, but given that I’ll be wet from the swim, I’m not sure if it’s makes sense to add a layer.  Thinking about all this makes me nervous – triathlons are no joke.  So much more hassle and logistical challenge than just running a race!

The girls finished up their swim season last weekend.  L dropped her 50 free PR from 46 s to 41 s I think mostly by getting her flip turns.  She also improved her 50 back by 4s and 50 breast by 8 seconds.   She didn’t have much improvement on 25 butterfly, but she did very well in that last year.  Her best event was probably the 100 IM which she swam in 1:41 in her last meet.  L swims in the “B” division; there are two divisions, A and B.  To swim A you must achieve a time qualifier, and L is about 2 s off in 100 IM and 4 or more seconds off in everything else, which is quite a bit.  It’s interesting.  I think she’s quite fast, but obviously there are an awful lot of kids who are quite a bit faster, even in the casual, fun summer swim session.  L is eager to qualify for A, but I think it’ll be an uphill battle for her.  Already, she is way faster than I was at her age.

Briony improved most of her times by several seconds.  Her biggest improvement was in the 25 butterfly, which she improved from 54 seconds to 34 seconds.  She also no longer looks in danger of imminently drowning when she swims butterfly, which is always a plus.  More importantly, she got a lot of joy out of swimming this year.  She enjoyed swim last year, but she loved it this year.  She adores her coaches, and I adore them too for being so great with the kids.  I find it interesting how great teenage boys and young men can be with little girls.  I feel like there’s a stereotype that women and girls are better caregivers, but her coaches certainly are a great counterexample.

In a surprise to no one, rain is in the forecast

We are in the thick of swim season here.  One of the things about swim is that you are required to “volunteer” 8 points per family, where each point is a little over an hour of volunteer time.  Alternatively, you can pay out the points for around $300.  Last year, we paid out most of it because with Saoirse still 1, we needed the time more than the money and since meets were “virtual” (gag) they didn’t really need as many volunteers anyway.  However, in addition to the cost, I definitely felt guilty about not pitching in and helping things run.  Without volunteers, there would be no swim season.  This year, we hope to get all our points.

My first volunteer session was Tuesday, and wow, it was a doozie.  This was the first swim meet our club had held since 2019, so it had been a while.  I volunteered as a stager.  That is, along with one other woman, it was my job to get the kids lined up for their races.  I did this for 2, maybe 2.5 hours.  It was truly unbelievable.  For the entirety of the two hours, I was yelling (to be heard) at kids, trying to get their names, figure out where they should go, ordering teens and tiny tots around, frantically trying to remember which kids I had lined up for which event where, trying to get socializing hangers-on to get lost.  It. Was. Crazy.  Needless to say, the system could use some work, but I had the second half of the meet, and there wasn’t time to even think about a new system.  (I sent the coaches a list of suggestions afterwards – no response.)  The woman I worked with had a heart rate alarm on her watch that went off if her heart rate got too high, intended for exercise, and it kept going off because the experience was so intense.

I’ll be volunteering as a timer next time.

Before my volunteer shift started, I was actually getting a little teary seeing my kids finally get to have a swim meet after a two year Covid hiatus.  It makes me so angry when I think how much they lost for basically no reason.  There’s nothing different about last summer versus this summer in terms of Covid risk.  If anything, last summer was actually much better (since swim season is May through mid July – it was over before Delta really hit and adults were freshly vaccinated).  I was also just really happy to see the kids having fun – participating in races, screaming for their friends, hanging out and socializing on the bleachers, etc.   But once the “staging” started there was no more time for dreamy emotion – just adrenaline.

Some sun would have been nice:

Both girls are doing great this year.  I was super proud of Bri for managing to finish a 25 yard butterfly without looking like she was going to drown.  She didn’t look like Michael Phelps, or even L either, but no DQ.  Her breaststroke is getting better, too; about halfway through, she remembered to glide:

Isla’s favorite strokes are butterfly and breaststroke.  Here, they only have the 9-10 year olds swim a 25 butterfly.

Every week they have an A and a B meet.  Slower swimmers go to the B meet.  Normally, we choose the B meet, but L had a conflict this week, so B went to the B meet and L to the A meet.  Yes, two swim meets in one week.  Frankly, I am exhausted because of this.  However, the B meet did give me a chance to visit Mercer Beach Club, which I’d never seen before.  Basically it’s “where the other half swim.”  Nice spot!

I’d really like to cycle or swim today (Friday) and this weekend, but here’s our weather forecast:

Why?  Just why?