Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Go Bulldogs!

Dear Bulldog Nation,

Can we take anymore of this excitement?  I mean, really, is it Thursday yet?

For the first time in the history of the universe, Athens High School Bulldogs are playing in the Division III State Football Championship game.  They are taking cheerleaders, the Marching Green and Gold, and most of Athens County with them.  

The game will begin at 7:30 PM in The Ohio State University's Horseshoe.  Many a battle has been fought there, and we expect another battle Thursday night.  No couches will burn if we lose, but we aren't planning to lose.   The stadium is the last stop for the A-train in what has been a historic, phenomenal season. 

The Mayor declared Thursday Athens Bulldog Day and is asking everyone to wear green and gold. Did we need to be asked?  School will end early on Thursday, not as early as it should, but early, and the town is being invited to line the streets as we give these young football players a proper send off.  

There's been all sorts of scuttlebutt about school ending early the day of the game and school delays the following Friday morning.  It reminds me of words my imaginary BFF once said, or at least nearly said:

"The A-Train keeps cruising
Can't stop, won't stop winning
It's like they got this music
In their mind
Saying, "It's gonna be alright."

"'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Toledo Central Catholic's gonna break, break, break, break, break

"Bulldogs never miss a beat
They are lightning on their feet
And that's what the fans see, mmm-mmm
Yes, that's what we see, mmm-mmm"

Where was I? And is it weird that I love Taylor Swift?

As we know, this isn't just a football game.  

This football game is a lesson.  Yes, as cliche as it sounds, this is a life lesson.

Our town is great about supporting our children.  When an elementary school girl's recipe won a national contest that took her all the way to the White House, our school district decided to offer her winning meal for lunch.  When the city celebrated Nuit Blanche earlier this year,  Athens Middle School students had their art displayed in local businesses.  These are just a couple examples.  There are countless others.  This is a great community to raise children.  We are are a community committed to supporting one another.  

Sure, we cancel school when there is a chance of snow no harm in being cautious, but there is a rationale for also letting children out of school early when there is a valuable lesson to be learned.

When a group of young people work hard, follow directions, stay focused, work as a team, A-mazing things can happen.  This isn't about top recruits or the importance of football.  This is a lesson about work ethic and character.  This is a lesson about supporting one another, and this reflects on the culture of our community.  We should be proud of this and celebrate it!

When we hear criticisms about how much attention we are giving this game or how it's interfering with education, then we will just have to shake it off.  Shake it off. 

But the feeling of pride we have for this team and this community is something we won't and can't and shouldn't shake off. 

Go Bulldogs!

A Band Mom who isn't even originally from these parts and is so happy her teen is gonna play the trumpet in the Horseshoe that she could explode with gratitude. Please don't tell my daughter I just said that!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Baby, We Were Born to Run?

As Bruce Springsteen's "Baby, We Were Born to Run" blares from speakers at the annual Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus Marathon and Half Marathon, I have a moment of exceptional gratitude. I am confident enough to believe I can actually complete my first half marathon, I am physically healthy enough to be standing at the starting line on my own two feet, I am surrounded by some of my best friends, and I am in the company of over 18,000 people who helped raise over three million dollars for pediatric care.  The feeling of gratitude and awe is intense.

That moment of gratitude and awe will soon be replaced by the pain and suffering that can only come from running 13.1 consecutive miles.  As for those running the full marathon?  I am not worthy of their company!

Of course, I didn't wake up that crisp October morning and just decide to go for a long, long run.  Nooooo, I spent 12 weeks preparing for that morning's run.

It all started with a well-intentioned friend.

We all have that one friend who is smart, organized, and level-headed. When that friend speaks, people listen.  My friend who is smart, organized, and level-headed suggested we train for and run a half marathon.  Turns out she's not as level-headed as everybody thought!

Here's the thing about running a half marathon:  as you train, you learn quite a few things about yourself and your dear, sweet running buddies.

For example, some ideas sound really good in a hypothetical sense.  Ever sign up for something months in advance and then regret it when the time comes to actually run 13.1 miles without stopping do it?  Yeah, me, too!  During the half marathon, I most appreciated the sign that read, "This sounded like a good idea 3 months ago!"

I totally and 100% blame my good friend for this, too.  I refuse to take any responsibility for signing up to run 13.1 miles because everybody knows I would normally travel this distance by car.  Clearly, the peer pressure was too much for me.

Another important lesson you learn while training with friends is that your body is completely and utterly unpredictable.  For starters, you will become keenly focused on your bladder and bowels.  What do you do if Mother Nature calls while you're in the midst of one of your long runs in the middle of nowhere?  As I learned from more than one running buddy, you should never trust a fart.  Never ever.

Ladies, you also need to take care of your boobies.  Yes, sports bras are dangerous contraptions.  Many a friend has nearly suffered strangulation in the process of putting one on or freeing oneself from it, but a good bra is the difference between happy boobies and chaffed and bleeding boobies.  Nobody likes bloody boobies.

As for your toes, well, somebody in the group is gonna lose a toenail.  Check out your toes prior to training, and bid farewell to at least one toenail.  Odds are, it's gonna happen.  Incidentally, a shoe half a size bigger can be the difference between keeping all your toenails happy and losing one to the cause.

The night before the half marathon is nothing short of incredible. Everyone knows carb loading is a key component to race preparation.  I may not be happy with my overall half-marathon performance, but I can carb load with the best of them. I would go as far as to say I am an elite carb loader.  Truly, one of the best.  Those who witnessed it would have to agree.

In the course of training, injuries can and will happen. Not everyone you train with will make it to the starting line with you on race day. You may have that one friend who will suffer an "injury" during training.  She will opt out of the race and instead volunteer to cheer you on and take pictures from the sidelines.  This is a clear sign of her higher intelligence.  Make note of this, and vow to suffer an "injury" next time, too, so you can hold hilarious signs like the one that read, "Remember....You paid money to do this Dumbass" or "My New Year's resolution was to hold a funny sign during a marathon."  These people are clearly smarter than the ones pounding the pavement!

The most amazing thing you will see and learn, however, is something so precious it may catch you by surprise like a double rainbow on a Fall day.

You will see compassion.  You will see the human spirit at its absolute best.

I passed a man dressed in full fireman gear. He had to be sweating while running in long protective gear with an oxygen tank on his back and a helmet on his head.  He ran on behalf of a fallen brother.

I saw countless participants running with signs on their shirts stating they were running on behalf of someone who could not run.

Each mile of the Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus Marathon & Half Marathon is devoted to a child who has or is battling a medical condition. These young patients and their families line sections of their assigned mile and provide inspiration and perspective to weary runners.  Their stories are amazing and their smiles are infectious.

Mile 11 is Angel Mile, and this mile recognizes the young patient warriors who lost their battle.  This mile is lined by the loved ones who miss them so dearly. This mile is the longest and hardest mile, but this mile reminds runners of the privilege to run and the honor in running.

Eventually, and to your sheer delight, all the mile markers will fall away and the finish line will approach.

When you finish you will know, Baby, you were born to run.

Monday, July 14, 2014

What I Learned On My Floridian Summer Vacation

Ahhhh....summer!  Sure school is out for the summer, but that doesn't mean you have to stop learning!  My family recently drove to Orlando for a family vacation. The vacation was fantastic despite the fact that I learned some rather interesting things.

1.  Florida is really far away from Ohio, and you may forget the distance when you see the price of airline tickets. If you live north of Georgia, fly to Florida.

2.  When you ignore the free advice offered in #1, you will drive South and pass several large signs offering fresh peaches, fresh pecans, boiled peanuts, and moonshine pickles. Yes, moonshine pickles.

3.  You will ignore these signs until the curiosity is too much to stand.  Curiosity killed the cat.

4.  Eventually you find yourself at Peach World.  You ask about moonshine pickles, but fascinatingly enough Peach World sold out of moonshine pickles earlier that day. Interestingly, Peach World also sells disarmed fragmentation hand grenades, confederate flags, ninja throwing stars, shark teeth, and coonskin hats. It's a long story that involves children, but you leave Peach World after purchasing peaches, pecans, a truckload of boiled peanuts, and a defunct fragmentation grenade.

5.  Shortly after leaving Peach World, you discover you are the only person in the vehicle who likes boiled peanuts. Good thing you bought 40 pounds of boiled peanuts.

6.  For reasons that are truly inexplicable, you will feel obligated to eat as many boiled peanuts as is humanly possible. Perhaps it's the endless freeway.  Perhaps it's the bickering children.  Whatever the reason, you will devote a solid hour of your travel time in trying to eat all of the boiled peanuts.

7.  After singlehandedly eating an obscene amount of boiled peanuts, you realize you don't actually like boiled peanuts.  You can't figure out why you thought you did and have only one place to lay blame. Interstate 95.

8.  Interstate 95 is a horrible, no good, very bad interstate. The speed limit varies from 70 miles an hour to 60 miles an hour to 45 miles an hour near some construction zones, but this is all irrelevant. Drivers on I-95 either travel at the speed of light OR they drive 25 miles an hour in the fast lane.

9.  Thanks to the salty boiled peanuts, your fingers will begin to swell and your tongue will feel weird.  This will remind you the cost of airline tickets is worth every penny. Please re-read #1 above.

10.  You will arrive at your destination in Florida, and you will discover that Florida is hotter than you ever truly imagined.  You will begin sweating in places that you didn't even realize had pores.

11.  You will spend a grotesque amount of money at any number of amusement parks.

12.  Dolphins, killer whales, penguins, sharks, sting rays, pink flamingos, sea lions, otters, and sea turtles are all ubercool, but they are no match for the common brown squirrel that will have your children riveted in their spot.

13.  Inevitably all the children within a ten foot radius will watch this squirrel as if they have never seen one. You can't swear to it, and maybe it's the Florida heat playing games with you, but you'll be fairly certain the squirrel will give you a look that says, "Think how much time and money you could have saved had you just vacationed in your backyard where about 150 of my relatives live."

When all is said and done, you are building wonderful memories for your kids.

And that fragmentation grenade?  Worth it's weight in gold!  On the way home your kids will believe you just might detonate that sucker if they don't stop annoying the be-geezers out of each other!

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Tooth Fairy is an Idiot

We've known each other a long time so let's be totally honest with one another, ok?

I am not a fan of the Tooth Fairy.  I've accused her of drunkenness in the past and you can read about it here.  Is the Tooth Fairy a Drunk?

I think inviting a stranger into your home late at night to take your children's teeth in exchange for a handful of coins is a gruesome, morbid idea.

However, the Tooth Fairy has never truly slacked off at our house.  Our biggest problem has been the Tooth Fairy's drunkenness dementia.  She'll leave one child 75 cents for one tooth and a week later she'll leave another child $1.25 for a tooth.  You can imagine the kind of familial discord this creates.  Sure, I have friends who report the Tooth Fairy sometimes doesn't show for days, but we've never had that experience at our house.

Until now.

In fairness, my son is eleven years old.  I'm pretty sure he may know where the Tooth Fairy sleeps at night.  You know what I mean?

Never-the-less, as the sun was rising the morning after his gnarly baby tooth fell out, he bounced out of bed and announced, "Look!  The Tooth Fairy didn't come!"

I didn't quite know what to say so I asked, " Hmmmm....why do you think she forgot?"

"Because she's an idiot?"

Well, that stung.

After all these years, I know the Tooth Fairy pretty well.  I know she was feeling exhausted and over worked the previous day and she probably just honestly totally forgot that this precious, sweet child had lost a tooth.

Suddenly, I felt an overwhelming urge to defend the drunken flake of a fairy.

"You know, son, she probably didn't come because you didn't actually put the tooth under your pillow.  You put it on your nightstand.  I think she only visits when the tooth is clearly under a pillow."

Yeah, it's HIS fault the flake didn't leave any money for him.

Amazingly, he had no retort to this as my logic was so sound.  Everybody knows the tooth goes under the pillow!  Duh!  This is just another example of my superior parenting skills. Make your child feel as if he is responsible for the Tooth Fairy's irresponsibility.  Brilliant.

In our house, teeth fall out in pairs. Once one tooth falls out, his buddy tooth isn't far behind.  Sure enough, days later another tooth fell out of my son's very crowded mouth.  This time he seemed less excited about the Tooth Fairy's impending visit. I, however, was excited.  An opportunity for the Tooth Fairy to get it right!  How many more baby teeth could possible exist in his mouth anyway?  The Tooth Fairy was running out of opportunities to perform her job flawlessly.

"The tooth Fairy is coming tonight!" I shouted while doing a little jig that immediately drew I ridicule from my 13 year old daughter.  Funny how I can embarrass her even in the privacy of our own home.

I was just sure the Tooth Fairy would not forget. Not this night!

Here's the thing about the Tooth Fairy.  She can seem really energetic and excited around 7:00 P.M., but two hours later she can be nearly comatose with exhaustion.  The older these baby teeth get, the harder it is for her to stay up long enough to collect them.  When this exhaustion is too great for her, she sometimes contracts the job out to her sidekick.  You know, Mr. Tooth Fairy.

Well, if I thought the Tooth Fairy was a flake, Mr. Tooth Fairy redefines the concept of "half-assed."

The next day I asked my son what the Tooth Fairy left him.

Without looking up from his plate he said, "Ah, a buck or so, but the Tooth Fairy forgot to take the tooth."

"What?" I asked incredulously.

"Sometimes this happens," my hubby blurted out defensively.

Yeah, my son is right.  The Tooth Fairy is kind of an idiot.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I Survived My First Triathlon

I wasn't sure I'd live through it, but I did!

My friends and I have been taking a triathlon training class since January.  The training started as a simple desire to get fit.  We didn't actually think we would compete in a triathlon.  We just thought the class itself would be good for us.  But our wonderful trainer was dogged in his belief that we could actually do a triathlon.  We also felt like competing in a triathlon would prove that we "passed" the triathlon class.  Who wants to take a class, do all the homework, and then skip the final exam?   Not us!  Although I felt like a total triathlete imposter, I registered for a triathlon despite my better judgement.

Race for a Reason is the largest charity-­based race event in Athens, Ohio.  The race raises funds for several amazing causes.  Race participants pick the cause they believe in, and a portion of the proceeds go to that cause.  There are several race events including a 5K, a mud run, and a triathlon.

I was so on the fence about my prospects of surviving the triathlon, I actually painted my nails and colored my roots the night before.  I didn't want my husband and the mortician to overlook those fine details.  I imagine there aren't many triathletes out there that have those tasks on their list of pre-race activities?

I woke up the morning of the triathlon feeling ill.  If I didn't already know I am a complete psychosomatic mess, I would have thought I was getting the flu.  Alas, I've lived with myself for over 40 years so I've come to better understand what my anxiety levels can do to the rest of my body.  It's pretty incredible stuff, people.

Overall, the race was a complete success!  Sure, I was passed in the pool by a 9 year old, but that future Olympian is part fish!  He should probably be disqualified for having gills, right?

I still managed to miraculously not die.  That was my goal.  To not die and finish the race!  My training has taught me it's important to set reasonable goals.

Most importantly, over $100,000 was raised for 87 different causes!  That's amazingly awesome!

I did not imagine how much fun finishing would be.  The relief of being finished is a glorious thing.  The homemade granola bars at the finish-line didn't hurt, either!  I am also pretty tickled with the medal as evidenced by the 32 million pictures of it I posted on Facebook.

When I really stop and think about it, what could I have possibly enjoyed doing more on a beautiful Saturday morning than consecutively swimming 500 meters, biking 15 miles uphill, and running 3.1 miles?  Gardening, grocery shopping, laundry, painting a fence, 5th grade algebra homework, a root canal, giving a cat a bath, cleaning the house, cleaning the oven, cleaning anything, really.

Nope.  There's really nothing I would have rather done on a beautiful Saturday morning than to Race for a Reason.

Congrats to the organizers and all of the volunteers.  It was an inspiring and blessed day!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Doggy School

My pooch, Sandy, attended her first day of doggy school.  It's safe to say she will not be graduating with honors.  In fact, graduation may not even be in the cards.

There are approximately 20 other pooches in her class.  They range in age, size, color, intelligence, and manners. You'll soon figure out where on the spectrum my dog falls.

Sadly, this first class reminded me of one of many a fraternity party I attended about 20 years ago.

You know that awkward moment when you arrive at a frat party and you wonder where you should stand so to avoid getting any bodily fluids on you?  It is kind of like that.

Sandy and I gingerly make our way over to a corner and stand between a wolf-like creature and a dog that resembles a cotton ball.

We all stand in a circle sizing each other up.

Remember how there is always one guy at the party who is boisterous, drunk and obnoxious? Well, there was a German Shepherd there playing that role.  He was all bark.  By the end of class he is passed out and insignificant.

You know how there is always a blond at the party who acts like a total ditz? Everyone wonders how much she's had to drink when really she is completely sober, and is just naturally scatter-brained, high strung, and clueless?

That is my dog.  Seriously embarrassing.

The class focuses on sitting.  This is a concept that 19 of the dogs come to understand.

Not Sandy.  Nope.

Sure, at home she delights in sitting on command.  Ask her to sit during doggy school and she looks at you with her big brown eyes, cocks her head to the side and seems to say, "Huh? I have no idea what you are saying. Let's go run around."

The other dogs eventually learn they are in class and should pay attention.

My dog seems to believe she is at a fraternity party, and it is her sole responsibility to get the party started.  My dog is a party girl.

This may have been the longest sixty minutes of my life.  I may also have tendinitis in my left elbow from pulling on her leash and trying to get her bum to touch the ground beneath her.  I get to do this again next week.

When we get home, Sandy and I have a little heart to heart.  I tell her she needs to focus.  I tell her I expect more from her, and that I am not going to pay for college school if she doesn't focus and work harder.

Ironically, she sits during my rant.  I think she's going to do better next week.

To be continued....

Thursday, April 3, 2014


(Part 7 of my escapades in triathlon training)

Ok, people, it's getting serious now.

The triathlon is on April 26th, and although I have not registered yet, I am training like weird people I typically mock a wannabe triathlete.

For quite some time, I believed training involved swimming OR biking OR running.  Sure, on triathlon day you do all three, but it didn't really occur to me that you might train by doing two or three of those activities in one work out session.  Sure, I thought you might go for a swim, eat a cheeseburger, and then go on a bike ride, but I never really considered doing those things without taking a lunch break or a nap in between.  I did mention that this is my first triathlon and I'm an idiot, right?

I recently learned a new word associated with triathlon training.  It's called the BRICK.  It may be an acronym for something, but basically it's just another way to make your legs feel awful.

Here's how a BRICK works:
Bike hard for about an hour or until sweat drips from pores you didn't know you had.  Just before your thighs literally burst into flames, jump off your bike and immediately run 2-3 miles.  The odd sensation in your legs while running is how the training exercise got it's name.  Your legs feel as if they have been deboned and then filled with bricks.

As you might imagine, this is a delightful experience which makes you beg for death about 10 seconds into the run.

I imagine BRICK is an acronym for the following:
B:  Bike (until your legs disconnect from your hip sockets)
R: Run (because who doesn't love a good trot after a long bike ride?)
I:  Interval (there is just the tiniest of pauses while you transition from your bike to your run)
C:  Cry (for your mommy)
K:  Kickass (After biking until your legs nearly explode, you do feel a perverse sense of pride in your ability to run on two seemingly boneless legs)

All of this to say, I did it.
I did a BRICK.
I survived.

I was particularly good at the "C" part.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bye-Bye, Cankles?

Part 6 of My Triathlon Training Experience

Although I'm on the fence about actually registering for a triathlon, I have been serious about my training for the past 5+ weeks.  WEEKS. I know this is shocking to anyone who knows me.  I'd much rather spend any moment of free time on Facebook or online shopping volunteering and giving back to my community, but now I spend my time in the water, on a bike with a seat the size of a thimble, or dying running on a treadmill.

After devoting over a month of my life to sore muscles and ugly gym shorts, I would like to lodge a formal complaint against my body.  Despite hours and hours of swimming, biking, and running, my weight has remained remarkably stable.  This makes me want to scream and throw things while simultaneously eating my weight in cheeseburgers.  I really, truly, sincerely thought the scale would show me some love.

A friend of mine suggested that perhaps I've gained muscle, and we all know that's absurd muscle weighs more than fat.  I'd like to argue that my muscle is especially heavy, but that sounds ridiculous.

You know what else is ridiculous?  The fact that I sometimes exercise more than 7 hours in a week, and despite this I have not lost more than ONE pound.  Want to know something that is earth shattering? Occasionally, I have even exercised two times in one day.  Why hasn't Brian Williams mentioned this on the nightly news?  I mean seriously, people, this is breaking news.

I actually toyed with the idea that my scale was broken.   This led to a very scientific experiment where I placed various objects on the bathroom scale to determine the scale's accuracy.  Items included a pair of winter boots, a disgruntled cat, and a 10 year old boy.  Turns out there is nothing wrong with my darn scale.  There just seems to be something wrong with me.  As an aside, do not try to weigh a fat cat on a bathroom scale. They loathe the scale more than a woman who's been exercising an hour a day for the last 5 weeks only to learn she's not lost any weight!!!

This led to more reflection on what could possibly be wrong with me.   Husband, shush.  This is a rhetorical question. 

As I was contemplating the likelihood of all of my back fat miraculously relocating to my breasts, my socks fell down.  I pulled them up and thought about the odds of my butt fat morphing into rock solid gluteus maximus.  My socks fell down again.  I pulled up my socks and went back to daydreaming about my arm flab tightening into solid Kelly Ripa arms.  My darn socks fell down again.  This time I took the socks off and simultaneously had an epiphany.

Back fat, butt fat, arm fat.  It's all still there, of course.

BUT, my ankles are looking very svelte.

Yep, I have some of the trimmest ankles out there.  Over five full weeks of training, and I've seemingly managed to lose one pound of fat from my ankles. You've got to start somewhere, right?

Bye-bye, cankles!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Dear Neighbors

Dear Neighbors,

This is just a friendly little note to clarify a few things I'm sure you've been wondering.

Those lights hanging across the front of our house and over our garage look very similar to our Christmas lights, but they aren't. That would be ridiculous, right?  After all it is mid-February. What type of hillbilly would still have their Christmas lights up?  Not us.  Nope.

Those lights you see dangling brightly from our rooftop are now our Valentine Day lights. Yep.  That's what those lights are. For sure!

Yeah, Valentine's Day just passed.  I'm sure my husband has every intention of taking them down soon.  Not like us to leave decorations up year round.  No way. We aren't those types of unorganized, scattered, people.

My hunch is we will probably take our Valentine Day lights down right around the same time we put our St. Patrick Day lights up.  It's kind of weird because you may mistake those for our Christmas lights, too.  They aren't. Really.

We are just very lazy festive.  We love to celebrate lots of holidays with festive, green and red lights.  It's a new thing.  I'm sure HGTV will have a show about it soon. We are just sort of trend setters in the whole holiday light area. Yes, that's it. We are trend setters.

We are also trying to educate our children about property lines and privacy science.  Remember those Halloween pumpkins we let rot on our front porch right up until late December?  We did that on purpose. Yessiree!  We wanted our children to see what happens when four large pumpkins and a cartload of gourds rot over the course of several months. We value education. And what good times! We now have new appreciation for the vitality of fruit flies.

Festive, smart, inquisitive neighbors. That's what you have. Lucky you.

And lucky us! Not every neighbor would be so gracious as to marvel over our eccentric holiday decorations and say nothing.


Your Eccentric Next Door Neighbors

PS.:  Our dog did poop in your yard, but we cleaned it up. We really did!!

Monday, February 10, 2014

I've Been Spotted!

Part 5 of My Triathlon Training Experience

The only thing worse than being out of shape and exercising is to be spotted in a swimsuit while you're out of shape and exercising.

I want to believe that when I put on my 50's style swimsuit, don my albino white swim cap and goggles that I become invisible or at least unrecognizable.   I want to believe my painfully tight, bright white swim cap has magical powers like Harry Potter's invisibility cloak. Once I have it on, no one can see me.

Well, that delusional belief was nipped in the bud just the other day at the pool.

I was again at the pool with my fellow wanna-be triathlete friends.  I was looking all faux athletic in my mind's eye.  I exited the locker room and entered pool area feeling rather excited about being finished exercising the laps that awaited me.

Who do I run into?

Answer:  Two of the most beautiful people on the planet who are, of course, not in swimwear.

These people are so classically beautiful they could be on television.   They have a rather HGTV look about them.  Perfect teeth, perfect hair, and perfect BMIs.  I enjoy their company when I am in normal clothes and not half naked.

Sadly, they recognize me right away.  So much for my magical thinking.  I made some self-deprecating jokes about myself and tried to laugh.  Shrieking in horror and running back into the locker room would have drawn stares from other people, and I was trying to act all cool and triathlony.

It wasn't until we parted ways that I reflected on and recognized the look on their faces while we were speaking.  Their perfectly constructed faces had that same look I give my children when I see them doing something disgustingly ridiculous.

Like the other night when there was a lull in the dinner conversation, I asked the kids to tell me something interesting.  Without missing a beat, both children began to discuss their latest bowel movements including color, shape, size, and odor.  They were not trying to be gross.  They just both happened to experience very interesting bowel movements.

I gave my children that look that says, "I am totally grossed out and yet perversely amused."

This is the same reaction people have when they see me in my swim attire.  Seeing me in my swimwear is as disgusting as talking about large, stinky poop while at the dinner table.

It's amazing I've not quit yet!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Running Riot

(Part 4 of My Triathlon Training Experience)

It's just you. You, your legs, your lungs, and your attitude. That's running broken down to its simplistic form.  It's not a team sport, and it's not dependent on a piece of equipment like a bike, racket, or bat.

For me the hardest part about running is the whole moving forward quickly part. You know, the running part.  Seriously.

I like the getting ready to run part. I love my new running shoes.  I love the chit chat the happens with peers before running.  I enjoy the stretching part.  I absolutely love the end when I can stop running.  I don't want to brag, but I am really quite good at stopping.

It's just that humungous part in the middle called "running" that's so darn tricky for me.

It starts out well for the first several miles yards.  I mean really, I can totally nail the first 9 yards. After that my body systematically begins an uprising against my efforts to run.

This uprising begins in my lungs.

My lungs are smoke-free and generally good sports about things. They really don't mind a fast walk from the couch to the refrigerator. If I run up the stairs to get a snack, they are generally cool with that, too.  But after 25 yards of running towards nothing in particular, my lungs politely send a message to the rest of my body that they are uncomfortable.

My brain gets the message and tries to ignore it, but within another few yards my legs are all like, "What? What'd the lungs just say?"  I have very nosey legs who cannot mind their own business.

By then the lungs are annoyed by being ignored so they again send out another message.  It's usually something along the lines of, "Why are you doing this to us?  Please make it stop!"

My legs are like, "Yeah, we need to slow this party down.  No need to go this fast."

As soon as my legs start to slow, my brain begins to short circuit.  All sorts of ridiculous thoughts flood into my consciousness.

For starters, my brain says really nasty things about me when I'm running.  She is a bully and I do not like running with her.

She says, "You can't do this.  Why are you doing this? You suck!  Bacon. Bacon."

I should add that my brain loves bacon and she'll seize on any opportunity to encourage me to eat bacon.

Occasionally, I fight back mentally by saying, "I CAN do this! I CAN keep running."

My brain quickly fires back with, "Slow down.  When did you last have bacon?"

People, it's really hard to keep running with this kind of nonstop dialogue going in your head.

At this point, all I can hear are random words like "stop, bacon, slow, bacon, you hurt all over, eat more bacon!"

My lungs really hate the internal conflict so they naturally have only one recourse.  They burst into flames.

Now my lungs are burning, my legs are slowing, and my stomach is all, "Did somebody say bacon?"

When everything comes to a complete halt, I can look over my shoulder and am really proud of the 400 yards I managed to run without dying.

At this point the fire in my lungs is extinguished, my legs and brain no longer hate me, and I am reminded of a quote I recently saw about running.  I'm sorry I don't know who said it, but I can most certainly relate to it:

"The miracle isn't that I finished.  It is that I had the courage to start."

This moment of profound insight and reflection is, of course, short-lived because my stomach immediately interrupts with one clear demand.

It says, "I need bacon!"

Monday, February 3, 2014

Spinning Class

(Part 3 of My Adventures in Death.  A.K.A: Training for a Triathlon)

If you've never participated in a spinning class then you shouldn't start now don't know what you're missing.

I'll describe spinning to you as if it were a 4th grade diorama project.  I'm doing this because I am no longer capable of thinking straight.  All of my blood has pulled to my thighs which currently feel like they are on fire. Does anyone smell smoke? This rush of blood to my flaming thighs means no blood is getting to my brain, and I can no longer think or write logically.  Where was I? Oh, yeah...that 4th grade diorama of a spinning class.

You will need:
A cardboard box
25 q-tips
A clementine
A good sense of humor

Get a cardboard box and open it.
The box is the fitness room.
Inside the box carefully glue the q-tips so one cotton end is attached to the box and the other cotton end is sticking straight up.
Place each q-tip just two inches apart from one another.
Each q-tip is a stationary, spinning bike from hell.
The tip of the q-tip is the seat on the bike.

Now imagine your butt as a large, round clementine.

Take the clementine and shove it down hard onto one of the q-tips until juice is flowing out of the fruit and the tip of the q-tip is completely in the clementine.  The juice is your blood, sweat, and tears.

That's spinning.

Anyone who loves spinning is a total fruit who can endure pain in places I've never imagined.

I've gone from being a barge to bruised fruit.

Tune in next week when we will run. I'm hoping to be able to walk by then.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I Am a Barge

(Part 2 of My Triathlon Training Experience)

I think I am on the cusp of transitioning from a boring ol' blog writer to an intense, melodramatic soap opera writer.  My soap opera is the triathlon course I signed up for in a moment of shear stupidly.  Again, what was I thinking?

I am most delighted to report I survived the first day of "I-hope-I-don't-die" class (that roles off my tongue easier than triathlon preparation class).  I am blessedly not writing from Davey Jones' locker.

The first class occurred at an indoor pool.  Surviving was actually no small feat as there were plenty of life threatening moments, and only a couple of them actually happened in the water.

For starters, I do not have appropriate swimwear for this type of class.  All of my swimsuits have skirts.  I love swim skirts, but I don't love swimming.  Apparently true swimmers feel skirts are a hinderance to lap swimming.  Fashionistas they are not.

None-the-less, appropriate swimwear might temporarily make me blend in with others so I buy the cheapest athletic swimsuit I can find.  And unfortunately by "cheapest" I also mean "ugliest."  It is made of the tightest of spandex.  It looks like it is made for a tiny, little doll versus an actual human being, and all of it could miraculously fit in the palm of my hand like a barbie dress.  Its ability to stretch to over 8 zillion times its unstretched self size and cover my frame is nothing short of amazing.  Getting into and out of this suit requires an absurd amount of agility and strength.  I'm pleased I did not strain a muscle or break my neck while trying to maneuver in and out of that swimwear contraption.

In my effort to blend in and look less a fool, I also wore a white swim cap and goggles.  Again, apparently true swimmers feel these are necessities.  I was feeling rather proud of my faux athletic look until my swim buddy told me the cap made me look like a giant sperm.  This would have hurt less if I could actually swim as well as sperm, but sadly the likeness ends there.

I'm not sure if swim caps come in sizes, but I either have an extra small cap or my head is obscenely large. That swim cap left lines on my head for hours, and I believe the lightheadedness I felt in the pool is attributed to the cap cutting off circulation to vital brain parts.

Now it's time to mention the actual swimming part.
The first part of this particular class involved swimming 4 lengths of a ginormous pool while being timed.  Let's just again celebrate the fact that I survived the experience.  No records were broken, but not drowning should count for something.

I think it's also important to note that I remained well hydrated during the lesson by drinking gallons of pool water.  I neither planned for this nor do I recommend it as a means to stay hydrated.  I just want people to know that the pool is a few feet shallower due to my heroic efforts to drink myself out of the pool.

After witnessing those 4 painfully long laps, the coach encourages us to swim like torpedoes.  We need to be long and smooth and fast in the water.  He then proceeds to get in the water and show us how it is done.

It becomes painfully obvious that while he swims like a torpedo through the water, I look very much like a drowning victim waiting to happen.  I create enough splashes and gurgling sounds that I fully expect a lifeguard to attempt to rescue me from myself.

"Be like a torpedo.  Don't be a barge," the coach says to me no one in particular.

That's when I realize that although I may look like a very thirsty, drowning sperm, I am actually a large barge.  Which is worse?

Stay tuned for whether or not our heroine and her friends will survive spinning class...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

5 Ways to Tell When You've Had Too Many Snow Days

I absolutely love the first snow day.
The second snow day is neat.
The third snow day is challenging.
After that third snow day, it's every man, woman, and child for himself.

In our house it's pretty easy to tell when the snow days need to end.

The following unbelievable things start to happen:

5.  The kids wake up begging for pancakes.  You oblige because its another snow day.  Why not celebrate by having pancakes for the 10th consecutive day?  At 3:00 PM you realize no one has had lunch.  At dinner time your kids are essentially having chocolate milk and a bowl of syrup.  You cared about their diet on snow days #1-5, but at this point you've lost your will to parent effectively so you give them straws to help slurp up the rest of the syrup.

4.  On the first few snow days routine is important.  By now, your children haven't been out of their pajamas in a week and you don't remember the last time they took a bath.  When they ask you if they can put their snow suits on over their pajamas, you half heartedly agree.  After all, what is the point of getting dressed?

3.  A certain toxic atmosphere starts to develop.  It's difficult to describe, but you start to wonder if this is what Hunger Games feels like.  Your children can go from loving one another to being rabid, feral children faster than the snow coming down.  You actually start to wonder which of your children would most likely win Hunger Games. You cheer on the underdog.

2.  Your children cry when you tell them it's another snow day.  Seriously. Tears.

1.  Your husband decides to spend an obscene amount of money on inflatable sleds because he absolutely believes this expenditure will cause all of the snow to melt and the temperatures to rise above freezing.

Cabin fever is alive and well in our house.  I wish they had a vaccine for that!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What Was I Thinking?

What was I thinking?
Who hasn't done something stupid and had to ask themselves that very question?

You're on your way to the store and you wind up at work.  Your car was seemingly on autopilot and you ended up not going where you intended.

What were you thinking?

You're busy yelling at talking to your kids while unpacking groceries, and you later find your car keys in the pantry by the peanut butter.

What were you thinking?

Well, I know the answer.  You weren't stinking thinking!  Your brain literally shut off and you were no where close to thinking.  Lucky you. Your excuse for doing stupid stuff is that you were not thinking.  Simple enough.

So what's my excuse?  What was I thinking when despite all logic I signed up to take a 14 week exercise class on how to prepare for a triathlon?  Yeah.  A triathlon preparation fitness class.   If you are reading this because you know me and feel obligated to read these little vignettes (Hi, Mom!) then you'll need to take a moment and let that sink in....

Yes.  I signed up for a class that will prepare me for a triathlon. (I'm not sure that's even possible so I'm using the word "prepare" rather loosely.)

What was I thinking?

Let's reflect on my definition of a triathlon:
A fanatical health nut spends money to swim 500 meters, bike 15 miles, and then run 5 kilometers.   Easy enough, right?  But here is the kicker.  These masochists do those three things consecutively and do it all in less than a day.  Some people apparently can even do it in just over an hour.

So why would I sign up to train for such nonsense?  What was I thinking?

Do I love to swim?
My idea of swimming is to put on my favorite swim skirt and sit by the water with a book in one hand and a cocktail in the other.

Do I love to bike?
I own a bike and I rode it exactly one time in 2013.

Do I love to run?
I only love to run if I am being chased by a large scary creature. This has yet to happen.  I have run, but love has never been a word I've associated with running.  On top of that, my exercise bra has tried to kill me in the past, and I own a car so I can drive places.

Again, what was I thinking?

I actually made a decision to do this.  It involved paying money and agreeing to wake up before the sun.  I was thinking something......

If nothing else, this should give me fodder for some interesting writing.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Speechless at the Golden Globes

Dear Speechless Golden Globe Awardees,

I watched the 2014 Golden Globe Awards, and I've got a pointer for you should you ever be nominated again.

Please prepare a speech.  Please.

You've been nominated for a Golden Globe Award, and some can only dream of that.
Going into the evening you didn't know if you would win or not.  Yes, I know you only had a 20% chance of coming home with that shiny little trophy.  You may not have needed that speech.  It is still better to be prepared than to stand up in front of all your peers and be broadcast across America saying, "Oh my gosh.  Oh my gosh.  I didn't prepare a speech, and I don't know what to say."

Yeah, we can tell you don't know what to say.

Let me see if I have this right:
You are nominated for a prestigious award based on your job performance.
You get all dolled up.
You smile and pose on the red carpet.
You take your seat with fellow movie stars and television icons.
Your heart may be racing.  Your palms may be sweaty.  You may not be expecting to win.  You may be nervous even though you are a movie star. Are you thinking, "Maybe I should have prepared a speech?"
Your name is announced as the winner, and 45 seconds later you go from looking like a glamorous movie star to a bumbling fool.

Really?  You didn't think a speech could prove useful?

Please go sit back down because your speechlessness is annoying.

Why is it annoying?

Well, for starters I am raising two children.  Like me, my children are a work in progress.  Although it pains me sometimes, my kiddos look up to famous people.  They are fascinated by fame and what it means to be famous.  While watching the Golden Globes with my kiddos, it becomes apparent that the dress you wear is more important than what comes out of your mouth.  And apparently being prepared is really underrated in Hollywood.

It's also annoying because you babble something about thanking your manager and it begs the question, why am I not a movie star manager?  I would certainly have advised you to prepare a short speech!  I think you may need a new manager.

Finally, you memorize lines for a living for crying out loud!  Can you not memorize a few sentences about who to thank for the award?  And please don't forget to thank your mother!


A Clearly Not Speechless Fan

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Things I Learned During the Polar Vortex

Greetings from the former Polar Vortex!

As the temperature dropped lower, and lower, and lower I made a few observations.  I would have written them down sooner, but I needed to wait until I had thawed.

Here are my brilliant observations:

1.  People say ridiculous things when they are cold.  It's 5 degrees outside but with the windchill it feels more like negative 6 billion.   (This is not a direct quote from Al Roker, but it's pretty darn close.)

2.  And related to #1, what is it about the windchill that I find so annoying? It's as cold as a witch's titty outside. After a certain point, the temperature ceases to matter. It. Is. Supper. Cold.

3.  The super cold temperature causes flashbacks to my idyllic childhood when my own  mother would say on a cold winter morn, "It's as cold as a witch's titty."  What kind of mother would say that to their impressionable, young, naive, children?

4.  During the Polar Vortex when Al Roker is telling me the windchill is the root of all evil, I exclaim to my kids, "Geez, it's as cold as a witch's titty outside!"  I am my mother.

5.  My car knew this arctic weather was possible.  Which right away means my minivan is smarter than most of us.  That's right, my minivan knew negative 5 degrees was possible because when I started the car one morning, that's the temperature the car showed.  My minivan can show negative numbers and perhaps its the sign of my frontal lobe freezing, but I was amazed by this. My minivan knew it could get that cold.  This begs the question, "How low do you think the car can register?"  Seriously, does anyone know the answer?

6.  Strange stuff happens to my house when the temperature gets wicked cold.  For example, my garage door doesn't want to close automatically.  It will open just fine, but then it won't close.  Another strange thing that happens is I allow my kids to play electronics until they actually ask if they can do something else. Yeah, it's like the twilight zone over here.

7.  The Polar Vortex makes keeping New Year's resolutions nearly impossible.  When the temperature dips below 5 degrees outside, my instinct is to curl up in a ball and eat chips (lots of chips) right out of the bag.  So much for my goal of moving more and eating less!

8.  Freezing temperatures cause everyone with electricity to begin obsessing about electricity.  If the electricity goes out then we all know we will freeze to death.  My frozen body will be found in bed, in the fetal position with my hand deep in a bag of chips.  There are worse ways to go, people.

9.  Everyone acts as if freezing temperatures should be used as a teachable moment with our children.  Remind me why I'm standing on the porch in subzero weather with a boiling pot of water? Screw science. It's cold outside!

10.  Children cannot go to school in these temperatures because its just too cold.  This means disgruntled parents cannot send them outside to play either.  This leaves the children no alternative but to peck each other to death.  New Christmas toys?  Nah....  Way more fun to just annoy the begeezers put of one another.

Those are my observations now that the Polar Vortex as moved away and my bones are thawing. It's a balmy 20 degrees today.

I suppose I can credit the Polar Vortex for making 20 degrees feel like a day at the beach!