Wednesday, August 26, 2009

And staring as "The Joker" . . . .

. . . in the next Batman film. My daughter:

Ready to play the Joker in the next Batman film

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Monday, August 17, 2009

From 6 pounds to 6 years in about 66 seconds

My daughter turns 6 today. Despite me strictly forbidding her to do so, she growing up.


* * *

It was only yesterday or so it seems, that you were born. A small, red wrinkled thing that cried a lot and never wanted to be put down.

The weeks after we first brought you home were difficult. I had read numerous baby-care books cover-to-cover but none had prepared me for the physical, mental and emotional toil known as motherhood.

The moment I laid eyes on you, I was completely in love. It was so overwhelming and unexpected. I never dreamed such a thing could be possible. Though I had loved, intensely, for many years, I had no idea my heart was capable of even more. So much more. Limitless, boundless love. Love that I know I would lay down my life to protect without a second thought.

Birthday 8/17/03
August 17, 2003

I remember in the beginning counting your age first in days, then weeks, then eventually months. Even after your first birthday, you were “15-months-old” or “21-months-old.”

Oct. 04
October 2004

Years didn’t really seem to matter. Years were a far-off milestone. Distant. Too far away to worry about.

Until you were two.

And then you started to do all kinds of amazing things: go down the slide all alone and go to school and get dressed by yourself.

Feb. 06
February 2006

Years, oddly, seemed to pass even more rapidly than months. Suddenly, you were three.

July 2006
July 2006

Then four.

Apple picking at the end of September
September 2007

Now, six years later – you are so very, very different from that crying, red, wrinkled baby we brought home from the hospital. You are a girl who writes her name and reads. Who loves horses and dolls. Who plays nicely with your sister (most of the time). A girl who likes to help me weed the garden and can name most of the plants in it. A girl who knows what partially-hyrdogenated oil is and asks if something has trans fat in it before eating it.

You, my love, are a full-fledged big girl. You are:

A silly girl . . .

May 2008
May 2008

A happy girl . . .

Happy girl
August 2009

A clever girl . . .

June 2009

A beauty . . .

Princess Aug. 09
August 2009

There are moments when I look at you and I still see the baby you were six years ago today. It is often a fleeting thing, like the flash of a firefly. Sometimes I’m not even sure I’ve seen it. Most times, I’ve probably only wished I did.

When I do, it is both a gift and a hardship: A gift to view such a clear path to the past. A hardship to know it is gone.

I need to remind myself that you still have a long way to go. Your small feet still slide and clunk around when you play dress up with my shoes. You still need to stand on a step stool to brush your teeth and you still have trouble buckling your own booster seat sometimes.

But soon, before I know it, six more years will have gone by and you’ll be 12, then 18, then 24. And while I have no doubt that each passing year will bring new joys and experiences to treasure, a piece of me will always long, always pine, always yearn for the baby you once were.

Just yesterday.

August 17, 2009

Happy birthday, baby girl!

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

The second tri around

Today I finished my second triathlon and one thing I learned is that triathlons are a lot like having babies:
• With the first one, you plan and prepare and make lists and pack and repack all your carefully selected gear about 100 times waiting for the big day. With the second, you throw your stuff in a bag the night before and hope you didn’t forget anything.
• With the first one, you are a nervous wreck. You question every decision. You fret about every little detail. You worry obsessively about what to wear. With the second? You just show up and with a “whatever will be, will be attitude.”
• With the first one, you take a lot of pictures. With the second, you forget your camera so you snap a couple of gratuitous pictures at home when it’s over (see below).

But another thing, second tris are a LOT MORE FUN!

This one was nice because it was literally five minutes from our house. It was also all women, which was a very different experience.

We left here at about 6:36 a.m., and arrived at the park a few minutes later, parked, unloaded and walked about ½ mile down the hill (one I’d bike back up soon enough) to the transition area.

There were about 450 women in today’s race and it seemed like 447 of them were already there. It was PACKED.

Somehow, there was still space on the bar for my bike, so I racked it, did a bit of set up (literally less than five minutes – I think I set and reset my area 10 times for the first one) and then went down to the beach to get body marked, which I still think is the coolest thing ever.

Then I found the bathroom and went back up to transition to grab my stuff for the swim and I JUST made it. They were closing transition in two minutes. Can you imagine? No goggles, wetsuit or swim cap? I would have been screwed. Next time I won’t cut it so close.

I went down to the beach for the pre-race meeting where they reviewed the course and all the safety regulations. I also took the opportunity to slip into the water for a practice swim, which was a really good idea since it helped work out some of the jitters. Half the lake was still in the shade and the water was – I do not exaggerate – pitch black. It was a little freaky, so I’m glad I took that practice swim.

It was also VERY mucky. The bottom had about 5 inches of sludge on it and when I climbed out, I had tons of seaweed wrapped around me and sticking to my arms. Say it with me people: EWWW!


This was a very small lake – little more than a pond, really. The course was shaped like an “M” just to eek out a measly quarter mile.

A photo I took of the lake a couple of weeks ago on one of my training runs. It was especially muddy this day due to a huge thunderstorm the day before, but it was still pretty icky.

The mudhole I swam in today

A few minutes later, the first wave took off. Wow, were they fast. The first woman was out of the water in just over 5 minutes. Impressive.

I was in wave 3 so 10 minutes later, I was off. I waded in toward the back of the pack and breaststroked for the first few strokes for better visibility of the women around me, but I switched to the crawl fairly quickly and – LO AND BEHOLD - I started passing people. I probably passed about 10 women on the first long side of the “M”. Around the first buoy, I passed a few more.

(I also have to say that at this point I swam through a GIGNORMOUS octopus of floating seaweed that tangled around my face and arms and legs as I passed through it. So. Gross.)

On the other side of the M, I started passing women from the previous wave! I was shocked.

Visibility when swimming toward the beach was really tough –the sun was shining directly at us and I couldn’t see that well, but could see the swim caps of other racers in front of me. Swimming back toward shore on the final leg, I thought I passed the last buoy and thought, “No, way, too soon,” but within two strokes my hand hit sand at the bottom. I WAS DONE!

I looked back and there were still an awful lot of light blue swim caps (my wave) in the water. I was so surprised!

SWIM TIME: 10:36

I ran up the beach and then up a steep cement path to transition, pulled off the wetsuit, chugged some Gatorade, pulled on shoes and my helmet and left.

T1 TIME: 4:32


This was the part I was dreading. It was only 10 miles, half the distance of my first race, but I cannot emphasize enough how hilly this course was. I heard three tri veterans saying it was the most difficult sprint course they’d ever ridden.

Start of the hill coming out of transition. It keeps going, and gets steeper.

Start of the hill coming out of transition

The same hill farther up. Still not the worst of it. And there are four other challenging hills after this one.

One of the many hills on today's course - not even close to the worst one

The course was two loops through a park, so you got to do some of the tougher hills not just once, but twice. YAY. (Not.) I was very glad to have had the advantage of practicing it a few times. It didn’t necessarily make it easier, but I knew what to expect. I knew where the hills were – and most importantly – how long they were. I also knew I COULD do them.

There were a lot of women walking their bikes up the hills, but I never got off the bike. I pedaled slow but steady. Even if I was only going three mph, I was determined to ride every hill. And I did!

I also rocked the downhills – leaving my fear behind and just letting loose. I passed so many people on the downs. The two loops went by quickly and before I knew it, I was making the turn back to transition.

BIKE TIME: 1:02:50


Mark and the girls came running up and he asked me how I was feeling and I said, “I feel great!” And I did. My legs were a bit wobbly from the hills, but overall, I genuinely felt great. Another surprise.

I pulled off my bike gear and chugged some more Gatorade. Because it was going to be so hot, I had packed a Ziploc bag full of ice in a small cool pack and dumped a handful down the front and back of my shirt. AH! It definitely helped.

I turned and ran off.

T2 TIME: 2:02


OK, so I’ve decided the run is my new nemesis. I’ve gotten passably OK at the swim; running is where I’m still challenged.

And the run course was also not easy. It was a wooded trail run. It was in the shade, which was a blessing since the temps were near 90, but the trail was loaded – and I mean LOADED – with roots and rocks. There were large swaths of the run where I never felt my foot land squarely on solid ground.

I rolled my right ankle about 5 minutes into it and had to walk for a bit to shake it off. My arches, calves and ankles were killing me (as I sit here writing this several hours later – they still hurt. Aleve is my friend today.)

But I kept going, running as much and as fast I could on the terrain. The first half had a slight uphill grade. Nothing too bad, but it made navigation of the rocks and roots all the more challenging.

On the flip side, the second half had a nice downhill grade. Again, nothing too steep, but I had a really good groove going. I passed a ton of women –many walking, but some running too.

As I passed two women, one yelled out, “YOU GO GIRL, YOU ARE FLYING.”

I turned back – just slightly to yell back, “THANK YOU!” and taking my eye off the trail for just that fraction of a second was a big mistake because the next thing I knew, I was flying through the air. I landed on my stomach and skid across rough rocks and gravel for a few inches tearing a hole in the palm of my hand and scraping a goodly amount of skin off my elbow and knee.

This is what I get for being polite. Thank you, my ass. Next time: NO THANK YOUS!

The women behind me gasped and came running over, but I was already up. “I’m alright, I’m alright,” I assured and took off running again. The lens to my sunglasses popped out and I didn’t dare look at them to fix it, so I just carried them – frames in one hand, broken lens in the other.

I came out of the woods and there was a nice crowd of cheering people, but most of them just looked horrified by the blood dripping down my arm. I still had a lap around the lake. My arm and leg were aching, but I did my best and tried to give it a little more gusto.

I rounded the last turn – saw the finish and booked it – passing someone one final time in the ropes.

RUN TIME: 34:59

One of my boo-boos, as the girls call it

Scuffed up elbow from my fall on the trail run

I feel pretty darn good about it. The bike could have been faster (I was passed so many, many times on the bike), but given the difficulty of the course, I am pleased overall.


My medal - yay!

I loved the all-women race too. The other competitors were friendly, helpful and encouraging. Not that these women weren’t competitive. There were some amazingly buff, lean-and-mean, giving it everything they had types. The winner finished in 1:11:02. It just had a different feel from the co-ed race I did in May.

So next up? The weekend of September 26, either here in NJ or up in Maine with a college friend. Looking forward to it already!

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Peek . . .

Peek . . .

. . . a Boo!

. . . a Boo!

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Monday, August 03, 2009

The one where my daughter fails to use her inside voice

Scene: Target, Sunday afternoon.

We are there for two things:
1. To pick up a prescription and
2. To buy me a new bra

We have just visited the ladies room, because for some unknown reason the interior of Target seems to put my daughters' bladders into hyperdrive. I do not know why liquid passes through their body at a greater rate of speed in Target than anywhere else, but even the shortest of Target trips always require at least two potty stops, and one of them always comes when we are as far as humanly possible from the restrooms.

So I've learned--after nearly six years--to make a pit stop immediately upon entering the store.

We are just walking down the main aisle leading straight into the store from the main entrance when I say, quietly to Peanut, "I need to get a new bra."

And she says, at the absolute TOP of her lungs, "I'LL HELP YOU MOMMY! WHAT SIZE ARE YOUR BREASTS?"

I stop the cart and look up. Two teenage girls are standing at the side of the aisle. They are clearly horrified. Their mouths are hanging open and they are staring at me. Moments later, they turn and begin to laugh. Loudly.

On the other side of the aisle is a man in his 30s. Looking. Directly. At. My. Boobs.

Now I suppose, on some level, he really can't be blamed. We all know that men have a certain - um - fondness for them and we also know that their functions are not really so much ruled by the brain on their head as they are the head between their legs, but still. STILL. I mean the guy was practically drooling. A little dignity, please, because that, my friend, is not going to get you any where with any woman any time ever. PERIOD.

Peanut, by this time, has already reached the bra section and is riffling through an end-cap display of lacy black bras. "WHICH ONE, MOMMY? WHICH ONE? THESE SAY 'D'? IS THIS THE ONE?"

Drool-man looks like he is going to pass out any minute from all the excitement. I shoot him a dirty look, which finally seems to snap him back to the reality where I am a forty-year-old mother of two in Target on Sunday afternoon and not some stripper winding herself around a pole. He turns quickly and disappears into the ladies' clothing section (let's not even go there, OK?)

Peanut is standing in the aisle, holding a HUGE black lace bra up to chest and prancing.

"I LIKE THIS ONE!" she is shouting.

I can hear the teenage girls behind me howling with laughter. If nothing else, I feel assured that I have helped prevent two teen pregnancies with this trip. I'm a glass-half-full kinda girl, after all, and have to find the bright side somewhere in this.

I approach her. The bra she is holding up is a double D.

"Not this one," I tell her. "Smaller. B. We need one with a B on it. And not these - something a little less . . . fancy."

We search the aisles - her pulling every bright pink, loud patterned, adorned with 8-pounds of lace style she can find off the displays and me searching quietly for a basic, flesh toned, not overly padded, comfortable-looking bra. I finally find one, which I toss in the cart.

(And I need to say that at this point, though it's probably been no more than 10 minutes, Loaf announces that she needs to use the bathroom. Seriously?!? Is there some type of diuretic in the air in there?! So off we go - again - to the restrooms.)

We exit the restroom, hit the pharmacy, pick up the prescription and go to the other registers to pay for the bra, which I could have paid for in the pharmacy, but I completely forgot about.

I hand the clerk the bra and Peanut leans over the conveyor.

"IT'S A B," she states boldly. "I HELPED HER PICK IT OUT."

Standing behind me is another horrified teenage girl - eyes wide with shock, mouth hanging open and face flushing red. Score! One more teen pregnancy prevented.

Mission accomplished, in all ways, we leave the store.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009


I don't want to speak for all parents, so I'll just speak for myself: I spend a fair amount of time Monday-morning quarterbacking my parenting decisions and actions. There's a good deal of analyzing, replaying, retracing, judging and criticizing going on.

The care and nurturing of these tiny beings from infanthood to adulthood is a sticky process fraught with peril. One wrong move (so the adage goes) and our offspring will spend several decades and thousands of dollars propped up in some shrink's office telling him or her how all their woes are mom or dad's fault.

I'm not sure I actually buy in to that. I think every child is different. I know some adults who went through some pretty heavy shit growing up who are just fine (more or less) today. I also know a few who had more or less idyllic childhoods and are totally dysfunctional. So you never know.

But the part I am beating myself up the most about these days is in my role of protector.

They are still so young. And with youth comes a respectable level of fearlessness. I remember it myself. Jumping out of trees, riding bikes top-speed down steep hills (without a helmet, mind you), walking on a frozen pond with no thought whatsoever as to whether the ice was safe or not.

I like to think I do my best to protect them, knowing that they are not always going to do this themselves.

Protection extends beyond the extreme, of course. It's not just about jumping out of trees and steering clear of thin ice. It's also about the basics: Wash your hands before you eat. Don't tip back in your chair at the dinner table. After playing outside, let us check you for ticks.

We live in a rural area. Our yard is surrounded on two sides by woods. We have deer – lots of them – leaping through those woods, along with a host of other wildlife. I know probably a half dozen people here in town who have had Lyme disease, and probably a dozen more from the surrounding area.

When we moved here, we attended a seminar held at the local high school about Lyme disease. Finding the tick early is key, I learned. They need to be attached for at least 24 hours to transmit the disease, so one of the best ways to prevent it is to do regular and thorough checks after being outside.

I know the risks.

And yet, sometime in early June, after a day of playing outside, I stripped off Loaf's clothing, pulled a nightgown over her head and sent her to bed. The next day, I handed clean clothes to her and she dressed herself.

Later than night while preparing her for a bath, I noticed something on her back. A tiny black something. Not much bigger than a freckle. Unsure if it was dirt or lint, I gently brushed it with my finger tip, but it did not budge.

I looked closer.

Six tiny legs wiggled from the engorged body of a tick. A deer tick. A fully embedded one. The head was all the way in her back, meaning it had probably been there a while.

We gently removed it and I plopped it into a plastic bag telling myself it was wise to save it incase it needed to be tested later. (But it won't, right? A relatively small percentage of ticks carry Lyme, so the chances of this ONE being a carrier is small, right?)

A couple of days later we had dinner with our neighbors and he told the story of a recent tick buried in his side that he had tested and that came back positive for Lyme. I told him Loaf's story and he encouraged me to send it off to the lab for testing, just for peace of mind.

Twenty bucks and a few days later, we got the result: THIS TICK IS A POSITIVE CARRIER OF LYME DISEASE. CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN.

So we did, of course, but like many things, we were in a waiting game to see if she developed the rash, or other symptoms. And she was fine. Each day passed without any suspicious symptoms whatsoever.

Until this week when she woke up one morning complaining of leg pain. An examination and blood test confirmed it: Lyme disease.

The good news is, though she will be on antibiotics for most of August, she is expected to be 100%, totally fine. Her prognosis is good.

But my Monday-morning quarterbacking is still in diagnosis mode. And it says: Why didn’t you check her that night? How did you LET this happen?

And I suppose that’s a good thing. This way, hopefully, it won’t happen again.