The Eagle Has Landed

So, Tuesday was kind of a big day around here.

Seth, having conquered the 20m jump in his alpine gear, the previous Friday, was given his first set of nordic ski jumping equipment—boots, and some wide, flat, long skis with no edges and special bindings that allow the heel to flex away from the ski. You know, for flying.

nordic gear with lindsey

PCNSC Coach Lindsey Van helps Seth select his Nordic Gear. “You want it hard, easy, or fun?” She asks. “Easy and fun,” he responds. “Well, it won’t be both. But it will be fun.”

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Mission accomplished. Cool boots. Giant skis.

He practiced some in-run position drills (skiing under the hoops helps form). As they made their laps, my friend Stacey came over to tell me, “I hope you don’t mind, but I just told your son to suck it up,” she said. “He was complaining about the boots.” Good, I thought—it came from someone other than me. That left Jeff and me the room to  pep-talk Seth through the first uncomfortable, awkward moments in the new gear, the adjustment to the new learning curve, and the frustration that came along for the ride.

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He took some jumps—which was a lot harder on the new gear than he thought it would be. But all I could do is yell—”That’s my kid! THAT’S MY KID!!!”

Which is what was happening when my friend Valerie showed up to watch, with the stars of a movie she produced, called Eddie the Eagle. The film is based on the life of Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton), a British ski jumper who defied the odds to compete in the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary. His coach is played by Hugh Jackman. Which was, it turns out, just enough excitement to make Seth feel better about the steep learning curve he was encountering on the new skis.

Hugh and Taron watched the kids fly, and enthusiastically congratulated them on their skills. It was hard to tell who was having more fun, really. But I got a hint, a few hours later. (More on that, in a moment.)

As it happened, Eddie was the “Townie Tuesday” screening, for which Sundance Film Festival officials had distributed free tickets to locals. The kids were bummed that we were not taking them to the 9pm screening. But 9PM! On a school night! Not even I, “Fun Mom,” am that irresponsible—and I can bring it. So, we got them settled at home and set off toward town, for the film. My friend Sarah scored great seats at the front, and saved some. In turn, we saved three for our jumping pals, Stacey, Julie and Coach Lindsey.

Which turned out to be fortuitous, because Taron and Hugh came to the screening to introduce the film, shared their visit to UOP with the audience and wound up in a chat with Lindsey. You can watch the whole exchange, here:

And then…we watched the movie and loved every minute of it. Everything from the writing and acting to the direction and the music—oh, the 80s synth wonderland of a score! My bone to pick? The cinematography—it captured, all too well, the spectacular heights and the death-defying crashes, which are, of course, part and parcel of the sport. I tried to comfort myself with the idea that some things are exaggerated for dramatic and comedic effect, but having just spent the evening watching a practice in which more kids fell than usual (icy course), those moments hit a little too close to home.

However, I’m thrilled to say that the aspect of the sport that Eddie the Eagle captured best is the one I love the most, and one that the PCNSC embodies—its spirit. The essence of jumping is as much heart as it is skill, and if you have heart, you’ve won. And, by the way last Tuesday went, I’d say everyone involved was a winner.

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Fly Boy and the 20

Last Friday was a “Chamber of Commerce” day at Utah Olympic Park—the morning had offered cloud cover and sub-zero temperatures, but by afternoon, as happens in Utah, the sun was shining, skies were blue, and the thermometer was hovering around 30 degrees. With all  the sun reflecting off the snow,  the ambient temperature felt 25 degrees warmer than that. Kids and adults assembled in the training area for Get Out And Play were shedding warm layers as though they’d suddenly arrived poolside in the tropics.

With much of the Nordic team and all of the coaches in Steamboat for a competition, the substitute coaches introduced themselves: a current US Ski Team member and the president of Women’s Ski Jumping USA—my new friend Julie. It’s not enough that the kids’ coaches are all highly accomplished ex-Olympians. Park City’s bench is deep, man. I laughed out loud at the irony of our overqualified “subs,” then joined the other mom chaperones, to watch the freestyle and nordic groups begin their warmups.`

 

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Happy Jumpers

 

My friend Liz was there, for the first time, chaperoning her school group, and seeing her kids learn tricks of the Freestyle trade. Our kids have done karate together for years. We are fond of each other’s kids. “Look,” I pointed. “There goes Seth, he’s jumping the 10 meter.” I could feel her tense up as I did—as though he were her own. I know the feeling—every time I see her kids huck themselves off a jump or over a rail, I gulp. He landed it, we both began to breathe normally, and then something amazing happened. He rode the rope tow lift up, but this time, he rode past the point where he usually exits to ski to the 10m start, not letting go until he could ski across to the 20m start.

“He’s not going to jump the 20—” I said, to everyone and no one in particular. “Is he?”

“He’s got to have his first time, some time, right?” One of my pals offered. I supposed so, but I’d been under the impression he wouldn’t be on the 20 until he made the switch, at some yet-to-be-determined-date, from his alpine gear to nordic boots and skis. Perhaps not.

We watched as he engaged in a few minutes of conversation with Julie. He took off his skis, climbed up to stand next to her on the coaching platform, and I inferred that she explained how he should position himself on the start bar. I tried to remember how to breathe. And then, he talked to her for another moment, grabbed his skis, walked down the steps, clicked in and skied down toward the 10-meter start. Oh, ok, maybe, just maybe, he was just curious. Maybe he wasn’t yet allowed. I had begun to formulate questions to ask him about what he learned up there, so I’d be ready when he landed the 10, again—and then he skied over to the rope tow, again, grabbed hold and rode up.

“Oh—oh! He’s going back to the 20…” I witnessed this moment with a bit of reverence. Here was my child, working out for himself, exactly how far he wanted to push, exactly which goals he wanted to accomplish, today. This, I thought, was the second of many decisions that solidified jumping as “his sport.” The first was that initial jump, three weeks earlier, from the 5m. Now, as then, he didn’t need his parents’ advice or input—just some good, supportive coaching and a boost of confidence. Here’s Meg’s video of our view from the bottom…

Here’s Julie’s video of our view from the top…

 

and here’s the trailer Seth and Lance made with some more footage, the next day.

I fedora this kid

“Wait, I need to get my fedora!” Seth called out as we started to head out the door to meet friends for dinner and a movie.

It was not an occasion that called for formality. But he can’t resist the bright pink color (he’s color blind, and it’s a shade he can see, and, therefore, a favorite). And one of the friends we were meeting is given to wearing fedoras, so he wanted to show off to a fellow aficionado.  “It’s not just pink,” he said while pushing a button on the band of the hat. “It lights up!” And while it’s super-cute on the kid, it’s even funnier when he places it atop the shaggy head of a sleeping dog. (Incidentally, it was acquired at a bar mitzvah party, the night before—as if it weren’t incongruously delightful enough that the party was held at a distillery on a dude ranch…)

Seth Betty Fedora

I fedora this photo.

 

Haircut Magic

I have a thing about going out the night after a haircut. When hair gets the expert treatment, the hair should greet its public. You know I’m right. It’s not necessarily a date night—I just need to know that I didn’t “waste” the blowout on a night at home. Because, there are good hair days and there are salon days. But, it turns out, the blowout has special powers—more on that in a minute.

Last week, on salon day, Jeff was out of town, so I texted him a Selfie—maybe he could take to dinner a photo of his chatty wife, and get a quiet evening out of the deal? (He sent an enthusiastic, complimentary text, so that was nice.)

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Cute hair, don’t care.

Regardless, I had big plans: Seth’s third-grade concert, with Lance as my date. Throughout the afternoon, there were opportunities for the hair to see-and-be-seen. I bumped into two friends—moms of kids in Seth’s third-grade class—at the craft store (don’t ask). They gasped in admiration of hair-magician Bratis’s skills. “I’m going to have the cutest hair at the Third Grade Winter Concert, tonight,” I told them. “Or, you know, you can take up the challenge. Whatever.”

`Then, when I was at school, picking up Seth, the new music teacher complimented my hair. “I did it for the concert,” I said. “It’s the hottest ticket of the year.” Little did I know the truth of that statement.

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Pregame pic with the awesome Ms. M. The kids love her. So do I. 

Fast forward to 6pm. We arrive at the concert. Lance and I kill time taking funny Instagrams.

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Goofing off with my date.

Then, one of the Michaels Moms appears with a beautiful ‘do—and says she was tempted to go for a blowout, just to show me that she’s got game. “But I decided just to comb it,” she said, with a knowing wink. For the record, it was styled in pretty waves. Comb it, my ass.

Whatever effort went into our hair for the Big Night Out was totally worth it. I’ve been to a million (OK, maybe a dozen or so) elementary school concerts. Children have stood on risers to sing songs about every possible holiday that happens to fall in December. For HOURS. Maybe even months. But this? No kidding, not a single holiday was referenced in the musical numbers about snow and cocoa and spending time with family. The grade was broken up into teams, which rotated through singing, dancing, drumming, bell-ringing.

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Singers—that’s Seth, in the red. Note the privacy shading on everyone else’s kids. 

 

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My hipster bell-ringer

The students even conducted each other. That’s right, third graders. Layer upon layer of musical education, on display—and tied up with a bow in—wait for it—20 minutes. This music teacher is my hero.

Maybe the good hair day was a good luck charm? I’m just superstitious enough to consider booking a blowout before the next school concert.

 

 

 

Morning Meetings: Creating a Safe Space for Learning | Edutopia

  I can’t get enough of this video.  “Morning Meetings,” was reposted by a fellow parent of public school students/graduates, who was also my houseparent in boarding school.  (OK, so perhaps it’s tied with “https://www.youtube.com/embed/p6ZojleXMn4” target=”_blank”>You do NOT understand weddings. At ALL.” because JoJo rules the world,…

Tooth and Consequences

“Dang it!” We were doing something, or rather Seth was, and whatever he was doing didn’t go as planned. So, this expression flew out of his mouth. Before too long, it became his go-to; a one-size fits all phrase to express his great disappointment in a moment, an action, a circumstance.

It took me a while to correct him. Finally, when I heard it three times in the course of an hour, the very first hour he was home from summer camp, I said, “Seth, when you use that phrase, it sounds like you don’t know enough words to express how you feel. We know this is not true. Will you please, please use the words you mean, next time? Like: That’s disappointing.”

“Ok, Mom.” I think he was too tired to argue. Or to point out that his parents have been unapologetic about our actual potty mouths, for just about his whole life. To be clear, in our house, there are no “bad words,” but we try to emphasize that there are certain words that cannot and should not be uttered by children in public, and that a person should do his or her level best to be descriptive in conversation. Sometimes, that means my kids’ parents are explaining to one another how few fucks we give about a certain situation. But other times, we just plain say what is on our minds: “That’s annoying. That’s disappointing.” “This is crap!” Ok, that last bit is what we might say when the dogs poop in the house. Anyway, you get the idea.

At bottom, I don’t want my kids using cop-out language. The more specific they are, the better communicators they become, the better understood they are by the world around them, and frankly, the more able they are to process their actual feelings. So, that’s the “why.”

So, last night, we’re at dinner, and Seth loses a tooth. Or he pulled it out, perhaps. Anyway, the tooth that was previously in his mouth was now, along with some blood, in his hand. I wrapped it in some tissues, tucked it into my purse, and sent him off to wash his hands, and rinse his mouth. Which he did. Upon returning home, he asked for the tooth, was presented with a piece of cling wrap in which to encase the tissue-wrapped item, and tucked it under his pillow.

Lance, by now, was goading him about whether the Tooth Fairy is real, and whether it’s actually you know, me. “How will the tooth fairy know to come to the house?” Seth asked. You could tell by the way he asked that he was walking that line between knowing it’s me and wanting to believe it’s a real fairy. Lance says, “Oh, no problem, I’ll send her a text.” I heard this as background to my putting away my shoes, brushing my teeth. And then, I realized I never should have given that kid a phone. Ping! Ping! My iPad and iPhone were competing with each other to tell me I had a text. Let me be clear: I give a fuck about my kid believing in the tooth fairy until he is 40, so this was not ok. Thusly, when my beautiful firstborn child arrived at my side, smirking,

My tooth(less) believer—for now.

My tooth(less) believer—for now.

to tell me, “You have a text,” I did what any good mother would do: I flicked him on the forehead, with my finger, while announcing, “I flick you on the forehead!” in a silly accent. Because silly accents make flicking your child’s forehead okay, somehow. No, not really. But I stand by my flicking. Because Tooth Fairy, dammit.

Actually, Seth thought the flicking was so much fun, he kept taunting me: “You’re the tooth fairy!” And then I would flick him. And then I would flick his brother, twice, for not knowing better than to ruin his brother’s (MY) fun. One important detail, here, is that Lance is almost my height. So he thinks he’s almost as powerful as I am. Eventually, he will learn that is never to be. No child is ever more powerful than his or her parent, ever. For now, he thinks it’s a real thing. So he tried to flick me. Seth got in on it. They conspired, without exchanging a single, actual word, in fact, to tackle me onto my bed so they could flick me. Well, no. No. Definitely not happening. “Get out, go away, leave my room!” We’ve just finished a remodel, and there are still odd objects, like mirrors and sculptures propped against walls in my room. We were in a particularly tight corner, and there was a mirror, and I said, “If you don’t leave now, that mirror is going to get broken, and this won’t end well.” So, they started to leave. Because they are not idiots, in actual fact. As evidenced by the ploy Seth attempted: “Mommy,” he said, arranging his features into his “I’ll always be your little baby Sethie” face, “I just want a little hug.”

“Nope, nope, sorry, not now, not happening, I love you, get out.”

And as he walked away, he tossed me a faux sad look and said, “That’s the first time you ever said no to a hug.” And then: “That’s disappointing.”

And then I was so busy doing my happy dance about the fact that he not only skipped the Dang It, but used the little lesson against me in a knowing, ironic zinger, I almost forgot to leave the money under his pillow, and definitely forgot to write the traditional tooth fairy letter that some idiot decided was a good idea when she only had one kid, and no actual idea about how many teeth fall out of a kid’s head during childhood. But that’s another story. Which I promise to tell, later. Sorry if that’s disappointing, but right now, I’m not sure I can find a fuck to give.

Reality? Check!

Twice a week, for the past seven, I have revisited an old fear—the fear that I have, somehow, messed up the transfer of the baseball schedule from the Basin Recreation Pee Wee Baseball League website to the iCal app in my phone.

This is a fear based in my very real lack of executive function. A fear based in the fact that, yes, I’ve messed up the times of games more than once in my kids’ Park City sporting careers. I’ve been known to miss the first day of ski school, to get the start time wrong for the karate class/piano lesson/tennis lesson that starts at the same time every week. Tonight, the fear became a reality again—and I reveled in the moment. Because, you see, we’d gotten almost to the end of the season and this was the first time I had screwed up. Yep, we claim the very smallest of victories, as they belong to us. This is my reality.

My first clue had been when I didn’t see any of the cars belonging to the parents of the Mets, which is Seth’s team this year. I saw, in fact, nary an orange jersey heading up the hillside to the baseball fields. It was three minutes to first pitch, and, well, usually there are more than a few of us straggling up the hill together. I articulated my concern to Steve, dad to one of Seth’s good buddies, who noted that he was substitute coaching for the Astros. “The regular coaches always seem to be out of town on the rainy days,” he quipped. Given that, this morning, the weather had looked like this….

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…it could have been a lot worse. 

My neighbor, Jenny from the Block, was there to witness my parenting foul ball. “Um, I think I just saw a bunch of Mets,” she said. “They were leaving.”

Seth got very upset—”But it’s my last game!!!” It isn’t. Potato, po-tah-toe. It might as well have been. The world looks very different to a seven year old at 6:30 PM, than it does earlier—like at 6:29, when we had discussed, in the car, that he would have one more game after this.

Then, he said, “Wait! Maybe I can play for Xander’s team!”

Jenny from the Block encouraged him. “Go ask.” Validation from Another Mom. Which, we all know, is better than validation from one’s actual mom. I love my village.

“They’re all always short a player or two,” she reminded me. In fact, the Mets had loaned the Astros a couple of players the previous Friday evening.

Seth jogged out to the spot where the boys were warming up, and asked Steve if he could play. “Sure! The more the merrier!”

 

One of these things is not like the other...

One of these things is not like the other…

I settled into my spot, next to Jenny, while she regaled me with tales of the Great Squirrel Takeover in her house, this week. You know, the week she’s home with three children under five, while her husband is on a business trip, and there turns out to be an invasive squirrel presence in her house. We giggled. She let me hold her baby. I watched mine gamely become an Astro in a Mets Jersey.

Earlier in the week, I had riffed on Facebook about a blog post I’d seen, touting Seven Days of Reality, reminding us all that parenting, in particular has fewer shiny, happy moments than Facebook posts—particularly those labeled #100happydays—would lead you to believe. My reality, tonight, seemed pretty good— I scored an evening holding a cuddly baby, I let my kid see he could solve the problem, himself, and achieve the goal of having fun learning to play baseball, regardless of what his jersey says on the front. A previous version of myself would have been really rattled by the whole thing, and gone the whole high-blood-pressure, self-flagellation route. This version of me? She giggled at the absurdity, and the dumb luck that she’d already, on this day, gotten to kids to two different camps, two miles apart, with simultaneous drop-off and pick-up times. She’d lucked into lunch with friends, run a writer’s workshop for five children at her dining room table, gotten her younger son to karate more or less on-time, fed both kids, and then gotten the kid to a baseball game. The fact that it wasn’t the correct baseball game? Minor detail.

Did I mention, though, that this game was a 6:30 start? PM. In the EVENING. For first-and-second-graders. (“I want the name of the MAN who set the Pee Wee baseball schedule,” I’d quipped, earlier. “Because nobody’s MAMA set a game for this hour!” I got an Amen from the other moms. Yes, I did.) So, it surprised me not at all when, following the insult of a pitch hitting his wrist during his last, reluctant, at-bat, the child came screaming off the field, howling in pain, and progressed from a happy, seven year-old playing ball with his pals, to a miserably major-league walking melting-down. It was soooo not his fault. We both knew it.

“This is all YOUR fault, mom!!!”

“Yep, you’re right, it is. It’s my fault you are having fun playing with Xander.”

“It is NOT FUN! It’s not my REAL TEAM. I want to play with the METS!”

“Think of it as the All-Star Break,” I suggested, silently patting myself on the back for this totally relevant sports reference. “Regular season resumes on Friday.”

“No! This is awful, and it’s all your fault.”

“Yes. Hey, look at the puppy!!!” (Silent thanks to the mom holding a puppy. Brief giggle break.)

“It’s all your fault. And I want to sit on the blanket. Will you get up? My WRIST HURRRRRRTS!!!”

“And it’s my fault. So, yes, I will get up.”

Another mom, who had zipped up to the game on a break from work, popped over to check on his injury. “Are you feeling better?”

“Noooooooooooo!” Other Mom and I giggled, silently, to each other, so as not to further offend the child. I complimented her shoes. She said, “My husband calls them my clown shoes.” I said, “My husband would call them that, too. I love them.” We smiled, our sisterhood of the clown shoes, of the miserable seven-year-old, of the Pee Wee Baseball Motherhood.

“Love the 6:30 game, don’t you?” I asked Jenny. “Never mind. I’m going to let him play on the playground for a minute to see if his wrist is really hurt.” We agreed this was a good plan. It was pushing 8pm, by now. I was, still, calling the evening a success.

As we left, I said goodbye to Steve. “Thanks for letting Seth play for the Astros!”

“Hey, this isn’t the pros—anything goes.” Man, oh, man, I love my village.

The wrist, for the record, is fine. Reality? It doesn’t bite.

Running with Ed

I will do anything—anything—to support education. And, as it turns out, so will tons of my fellow Park City residents. I’m not talking about endless hours of school volunteering, committee meetings, homework help, or even schlepping around town to tutoring sessions. Many, many of us do that, too. But we all turned out on Saturday in teams of five-10 humans of varying age ranges, for Running with Ed, a 38-mile relay that passes every school in the district, plus a few other scenic spots. Created by the Park City Education Foundation, the race raises hundreds of thousands of dollars to support programs in our awesome school district.

Go, Team! Powered By Proforma, ready to race

Go, Team! Powered By Proforma, ready to race

 

Let me tell you this: I never run more than 5 miles in a day. So, as I recruited a team—including my kids, another family with two kids, and our friends Kathy and Mel—I looked for a mix of fun people who would take on legs of varying length. I committed to a 5.15 mile leg of the race, from City Park to Treasure Mountain Junior High School. Which sounded fine to me, until mid-leg, when I realized I would be climbing FOREVER AND A DAY through a mountain trail in the blazing midday sun. Thankfully, I got to share a few strides with my friend Carey (who smoked my sorry butt, but whatever), which made the run more fun. But, I digress. I was in awe when my friend Kerrie said she’d run two legs, back-to-back, and do an extra mile with all the kids. And when my pal Kathy said, she’d way rather run the short, impossibly steep, leg up to Utah Olympic Park.

Like everyone, we had our pre-game rituals—ours included running behind schedule, forgetting hats and going back to fetch them, eating bagels in the car on the way to meet the rest of the team, plus some impromptu breakdancing.

Pump up the jam!

Pump up the jam!

The team spirit of the event—not just our team, but all the teams, exchange station sponsors, race volunteers, spectators around town—blew me away. As Jeff said, “It felt like a block party for the whole town!” One where the official food is donuts. No joke—donuts were featured extensively at every exchange station. Plus, candy, orange slices and water. Our friends at Educational Advantage offered dozens of Krispy Kremes, for instance. At Trailside Elementary School, there was sparkling cider in plastic wine glasses. Teams had elaborate costumes. I ran behind one woman in a demure tutu (thank you Pink Tutu Lady for keeping me going), alongside a woman in a bumblebee-striped t-shirt, behind a man in camo base layers, that, perhaps, were not the most well-thought-out costume. As I jogged behind one runner in this getup, I dubbed his thin shorts, “TMI shorts.” Sorry, dude—maybe a base layer under your base layer next year?

We hooted and hollered at various decorated vehicles, like this one.

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Cheers! (Fizzy-juice style)

Cheers! (Fizzy-juice style)

We giggled at the presence of a limo, provided by a sponsor to the team who raised the most money in the weeks leading up to the race:

Relay in style

Relay in style

 

At each leg, the rest of the team picked a spot to meet the running members and escort them into the exchange point. It wasn’t planned—I decided to go meet Lance and his pal as they approached Ecker Hill Middle School, then the kids decided together to run the last 50 yards of the killer Olympic Park hill with Kathy. Our kid-led runs included the leg from Jeremy Ranch Elementary School to Ecker Hill Middle School, Park City Mountain Resort to City Park, and Trailside Elementary School to the Basin Recreation Fieldhouse at Newpark.

Running up Utah Olympic Park Hill with Kathy

Running up Utah Olympic Park Hill with Kathy

 

And, then, we made a “thing” of it. Here we are with Mel…

Running with Ed, Running with Mel

Running with Ed, Running with Mel

 

And then my boys and I found a way to run the last mile or so with our teammates, and gathered a few more team members to cross the finish line, together.

Woooooot!!!!

Woooooot!!!!

Our family’s business, Proforma Peak Printing and Promotions, is a race sponsor. We created the step-and-repeat where teams pose for pre- and post-race photos, the route guidance signs that keep runners headed in the right direction, the lawn signs that racers place in their yards, declaring, “I’m Running with Ed!”

Look how much fun we had—and how cute we look in front of that step-and-repeat! We even did a few other projects—like team running shirts for a few clients, and the swag bags for the event. As the de-facto team captain, I was too distracted by, you know, all the other things I do in a day, to order screen-printed t-shirts, so I did the next-best-thing (or maybe even the better thing) and had the kids decorate our team shirts. They designed the logo—a battery—and wrote “Powered by Proforma” on the back of each shirt. Very cute.

We finished! (Two team members departed early for a birthday party!)

We finished! (Two team members departed early for a birthday party!)

This Ragnar-sponsored event, has a home-grown feel. Though, as a non-competitive runner—really, seriously, I have such short legs and small feet, that I look like a cartoon character, blurry from the waist down, when I run—I had to say, it was cool to see the actual athletes glide by me with their perfect runner form, and still yell out, “Good Job!” as they passed me. Our town takes a lot of pride in this event, and it shows. In fact, when Mel took me to a hot yoga class at our neighborhood studio, Tadasana, the next day, the instructor gave the event a nice shout-out. “Who ran? Show of hands?” she asked, before we began. “Thank you for supporting our kids’ education! Let’s stretch those hips!”

Here’s a cool video recap of the event, from Park City Television. For the record, the editor of this video had access to footage of me, mugging for the camera, arms raised in victory, looking like I was absolutely enjoying the endless hill. You will see, at about 00:58, that the editor made the choice to show, well, a different perspective.

Any way you slice it, the day rocked.

(all photos courtesy Jeffrey Rothchild)

Superhero Seth at 7: Seven Fun Facts

So, Lance always gets all the credit for making me a mom. He’s my first born, so that’s how it goes.

Seth, on the other hand, gets (and claims, at every turn) the credit for being my best Mother’s Day gift, ever. May 13 was a Sunday, Mother’s Day, in 2007. It was, of course, memorable. Although, I have to say, the pain-free version of Mother’s Day is always preferable. (Yes, yes, worth it all. Childbirth amnesia. Yada, yada.)

His birthday is today. He’s taking pencils as gifts to his classmates, a book to donate to the classroom library, and he’s been promised a cake by his reading tutors at Educational Advantage. He will cheer for his brother at the Park Record Spelling Bee. These are the trappings of Seth’s seventh birthday. The trappings of his life are first grade, religious school at Temple Har Shalom, and sleeping every night with our “bonus” family member, a blanket bunny named Dine Dine, that I hope he sleeps with, always. These are seven facts about Seth at seven.

 

Image courtesy Nixi Photography

Photo credit: Nixi Photography

1. He is, in his own mind, a superhero. Not just one in costume—but the Clark Kent side of Superman. And the kind of kid who’s so charming and fun, he’s bound to come up with some hair-brained scheme, and then charm his friends into going along with it. We try to guide him toward using his powers to good.

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2. His greatest superpower is empathy When we spend time with his grandparents and great-grandparents, he is solicitous and mindful. He knows, instinctively, that when his great grandmother forgets who he is, it’s her brain’s fault, not her intent. He offers to take my mom to find the restroom when we’re someplace that he knows she hasn’t been to recently—he knows she’s given to forgetting things.

3. He is both humorous and earnest. Sometimes he is both things at once, unintentionally. The other day, he was filled with angst about having to keep his Mother’s Day gift to me, a secret. I tried to play it off as no big deal, but that made him more upset. So, I proposed a solution: “Tell me about it, but save some details and I’ll be surprised by those.” His response: “MOM! I can’t do THAT! You know that I am FILLED with DETAILS and I always HAVE TO SHARE THEM. I CAN’T NOT SHARE THE DETAILS.” I bit my cheeks so I wouldn’t laugh. My cheeks bled. Other times, he just goes for the joke, because it’s there, and it must be told. I have no clue who modeled this behavior for him. Somewhere along the line, he picked up on the homonyms “duty” and “doody.”

4. He is coordinated. By the standards of his gene pool, he’s an Olympic level athlete. Sports just come to him. Balls? He throws them with a strong arm. He got every other recessive gene in our family—blond hair, blue eyes, colorblindness. So this “athletic” gene must have hitched a ride. And he’s a snappy dresser and a ridiculously good dancer. The kind of dancer around whom circles of people form on Bar Mitzvah dance floors. He gets that from his grandmothers.

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5. He is an expert cuddler. And he’s excellent at giving shoulder massages and foot rubs. He is learning the art of the stealth tickle, though “stealth” as a skill, is an uphill climb, for our boy. But if you tell him he’s cute, his stock answer is, always: “I’m not cute, I’m tough!” and then he slams his fist into his palm, for emphasis. (Sorry, Seth, but that makes you even cuter.)

6. He is an obsessed fan. Of Star Wars, of Billy Joel, of Lego—he builds countless creations out of his imagination, every week, and of all things superhero. For years, it was Buzz Lightyear. The kids’ rooms at the dentist are decorated with Toy Story decals, in his honor. He is, too, an obsessed fan of his family. Especially his big brother. This could help mitigate some of the issues I foresee with item #1, above, since his brother is not given to impulsive flights of fancy. This, I think, is lucky, too.

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7. He is just getting started. Right now, he’s finishing up his first year of a Dual Language Immersion program in French. What he lacks in vocabulary, he makes up for in accent. It is perfect. And hilarious. He is mentally preparing to ride his bike, well, this summer. He is ready to tackle the next challenge, and the next. I am so grateful he showed up when he did—but any day of the week, that kid’s arrival was a gift, and every day of the week, I’m grateful.

Happy 7th Birthday, Seth. You’ll always be my baby.

Love,

Mom

 

 

S@&t working moms say

Twice in two days, I was struck by the hilarity of the juggle.

First, a chat with my friend, ski coach and favorite congressional candidate, Donna, about why we can’t seem to do one thing at a time, and how frustrated we feel about doing things only partly to our standards. We live fragmented lives, and hope for the best.

Then, the next morning, I haul my butt to the gym. The butt is tired. It did TRX on Monday (ouch), spin on Tuesday, in which its buddy and neighbor, the lower back got tweaked, and then skied itself into oblivion on Wednesday. There was a twisted ankle at some point in the ski day, and I resolved to keep my butt in a chair for one day.

I am not good at the whole butt-in-the-chair thing—sometimes I write while standing up. And in order to write (butt-in-chair activity of choice and necessity), I must have my brain turned on. Which only happens if I exercise, first thing. Sadly, I don’t exercise before I get dressed. More on that, in a moment.

Anyhoo, I was attempting to take the day “off” from exercise. Which meant I was not going to attend my friend Keri’s “Buns and Guns” class. This involves many squats, lunges, curls, flys, and plyometric jumping. It is an aggressive, grueling 75 minute workout. And I love it. But, on this day, I would simply rock the elliptical ARC machine in the cardio loft. Keri pulled into the parking space next to mine, and we headed for the loft, together. We hopped on adjacent machines. We chatted. She looked at me, her expression a little bit off—”I didn’t eat breakfast. I don’t feel right. I’m going to grab a snack.”

This is not unusual—she’s a busy working mom. Meals get skipped. It happens. She returned, fed.

“Why don’t you just drink a smoothie?” I asked, after she explained that breakfast had fallen victim to the morning rush of trying to sign forms, write checks, and all the other crap we have to do in order to ship our children off to school in the morning, prepared.

“That’s the funny thing. I made one for them. But not for me,” she said.

And then, she looked at me. Really looked.

“Um, did you know your t-shirt is on, inside-out?”

“No. But that doesn’t shock me. I can’t think until I’ve exercised. And, apparently, getting dressed requires thought.”

“Shoot, you’re ahead of me: You ate breakfast.:

And, scene.