Category Archives: Adventures

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Week 1: Success

If you’ll recall, last year I had just started working from home right before school let out for the summer. My summer was basically a hodge-podge of days spent yelling and stressing over how to work from home with two very destructive children under foot. I didn’t want them to spend all day in front of the TV, but I didn’t want to spend all night cleaning up the messes they made during the day while I worked. And once there was a sword-fighting incident that resulted in an eye surgery. So, you know, not the best summer ever.

I’ve been working from home for a year now, often with the kids home for various breaks, and I have a much better handle on it. As do they. But this summer, I decided to do something a little differently. I decided to try to do something I’ve heard about but never tried:

SCHEDULING!!

I know! Such a foreign concept, right?

This is what went into my scheduling:

  • Let my boss know when I’d be “available/at the computer” every day, and during my “off” periods, I wouldn’t check my email – even on my phone.
  • I broke up my day into two “shifts” of sorts. I only work part time, but I still like to be “available” 6-8 hours a day, knowing that sometimes when I’m at the computer I might be doing something other than work, but I’m still available if someone needs me. I had a “morning” shift and an “afternoon” shift.
  • I overlapped my “morning” shift for when the kids are still sleeping to maximize the effectiveness of those hours.
  • Some days I also overlapped my “afternoon” shift for when Donnie gets home. This one is not always a possibility, but on the days I can do it, it’s useful.
  • During my mid-day break, every day I scheduled EXERCISE TIME. We either rode our bikes somewhere (usually a park for a picnic) or we went swimming at the YMCA.
  • Plan at least ONE domestic battle to be conquered for the week. This week it was Nikki’s bedroom. We cleaned it and organized it better for summer.
  • During my afternoon shift, I demanded BRAIN TIME from the kids. This is about an hour or so of something that stimulates their brain. They’re both keeping daily journals, and Nikki has books she can read on her own, and they both do flashcards. This is one of those times where I might be sitting near the computer “available” and lightly working on something, but I can also help the kids with flashcards or reading if I’ve already put in at least 5 hours of work that day.

Basically, this meant that there was, on average, about 4’ish hours every day where the kids were on their own. If they watched TV that entire 4 hours, I didn’t have to feel too guilty since I got one major domestic chore done (Nikki’s room) and we also did exercise time and brain time every day. But, if I didn’t want them watching TV the ENTIRE four hours, I could also insist they do something like – play in the playroom, or go outside – because they weren’t bored of those activities yet.

Week 1 went great. I felt VERY productive at work and I felt very LITTLE guilt as a Mom. We had fun on our bike rides and during our swim time. The kids were respecting my time at the computer and kept the fighting to a minimal. While I know this is only the first of 10’ish weeks, I feel MUCH better already about the rhythm of the summer.

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lake

It’s Hard To Teach Bravery When You’re A Big Ole Chicken

It is no secret that swimming is not my favorite thing. As an adult I’ve never been fond of the idea of open water and avoid any sort of boating or open water swimming invitation when I can. I’ve been okay in swimming pools where I can see the bottom and know I can make it to the edge with minimal effort, because it’s not that I can’t swim…I’ve just never been great at it. I can swim underwater from one end of a small pool to the other end, but only because I can SEE and I know if I can’t make it, the edge isn’t far away.

Last year I learned a bit about “freestyle” swimming. Enough to survive a 400+m open-water swim for a sprint triathlon. But, like I tell many people, my normal fears and anxieties took a backseat on raceday for several reasons. 1) There are SO MANY kayaks and bouys and rescue boats around that you feel very safe and 2) The excitement/adrenaline helps a lot. But when I would go to open-water training sessions with minimal (if any) support? I’d be a wreck. It was terrifying. One time I burst into tears and let me tell you: It is really hard to swim while you’re crying.

SO! There’s my backstory. I’m better than before last summer, but no where near the kind of person who enjoys the water.

Well…we are right near the river here AND there are a few good-sized lakes within a short drive. So, a lot of people entertain themselves on the weekend with water sports or recreation. And this weekend Donnie’s cycling friends invited us to a party at a lake house. I was TERRIFIED.

Now, the kids are better swimmers at their age than I was. But they’re not strong swimmers yet. And, they’d never been in open water, so they were a bit nervous. I assured them I’d get in the water with them – even though I was terrified – mainly because I was more terrified of them drowning than of me drowning. We don’t have any life jackets but we brought two inflatable rings for them to play in. And when we got there? I felt like I was going to have a full-blown meltdown. The ONLY thing keeping me relatively calm was the fact that we were standing in front of all of Donnie’s triathlon/cycling buddies. I had to keep my shit together just to keep from humiliating him.

Sidenote: Another entry for another day? My body image issues and how they also DID NOT HELP MATTERS. I hate that I let my hatred of my own body ruin my fun around water.

SO! I “bravely” told the kids I’d get in the water with them to get them used to it. And luckily, there was one life jacket there that fit Wes perfectly. Nikki had to wear one a little big. So, we decided they could use the life jackets and the rings for a bit, until they got used to it. I jumped in the water first (ALMOST DIED, SO SCARED) and then let Donnie hand me the kids one at a time. Luckily, someone noticed I was struggling and pointed out that I could sit in a life jacket like a diaper and it would help me help the kids. I was so grateful for the tip and the help, I didn’t even feel embarrassed about not knowing that tidbit.

The kids got in and Wesley IMMEDIATELY realized he could float without the ring and he just wanted to play around without it. This was easier for me because the two rings were a struggle, but as I was keeping up with Nikki I kept fearing Wes would float out into the lake and get run over by a boat before we could get to him.

I WAS A MESS.

Basically I spent the 15 minutes in the water whispering/yelling to the kids: STAY NEAR ME! DON’T FLOAT AWAY! I was just worried we’d lose them forever. Because I am a big ole wuss.

There was some action with people pulling kids on tubes behind a Jet Ski. NOPE. I told the kids: NOPE. They didn’t really want to do that anyway, not quite comfortable in a lake for that, but still, I knew my anxieties could only take SO MUCH.

Wes decided he wanted a break (THANK GOD) and he and I went to play basketball while Donnie stayed with Nikki.

Now, here’s the thing if you’re a high-anxiety parent, having a super-relaxed one around is a perfect balance. Donnie stayed in the water with Nikki just long enough to make her feel comfortable, and then just got out. Just hung out with his friends on the dock and kept and eye on her. I HAVE NO IDEA HOW HE COULD DO THAT. He was so relaxed and just confident in the life jacket and the ring and her ability to swim a little bit. He didn’t worry about her drifting away or getting run over by a boat. He didn’t worry about her drowning. HE EVEN LET HER RIDE ON A JET SKI. Now, she was in front of a grownup who was holding her on AND she was obviously wearing a life jacket, but still, NEVER would I have done that. AND SHE HAD A BLAST.

So, when Wes decided it was time to get back in the water, after hearing Nikki’s adventures, I had to CHILL THE HELL OUT. And I did, a little, but I was miserable. I was basically easing in to giving the kids more freedoms. First? I didn’t get in with them. Which was a little easy since I did not want to be in there anyway. Second? It took me awhile to feel comfortable with them jumping off the docks with their rings, and even more without. And it was about an hour of me taking several giant chill pills before I could finally relax enough to even socialize the tiniest bit with Donnie’s friends.

It was a very hard day.

I don’t want my kids growing up with my anxieties, but it’s really hard NOT to inflict mine on them in those situations where my fears relate to their safety. But, we all took baby steps and they were patient with me, allowing me to get settled in after each baby step, before pushing for more freedom. Because they were scared too, so they weren’t wanting ALL of the freedoms in the world.

I’m glad we did it, even though it probably gave me 14 ulcers. I’m glad the kids had SO MUCH FUN. I wish I wasn’t such a ball of anxieties all the time. But, the fact that I brave this stuff periodically, even taking small steps, is a good thing. I don’t let it control my life 100%. There are certain things I have no desire to do, and that’s okay as long as I let myself do these small things periodically.

Right?

lake

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Mother’s Day Movie Extravaganza!

In case you’re new here, E and I came up with a tradition called “Mother’s Day Movie Extravaganza” many moons ago. I documented the first one here. At least I think that was the first one, there may have actually been one before but no more than that. Basically I get to go to the theater and watch movies all day. I could squeeze in 4, but the most I’ve ever done is 3 as I don’t want to A) fall asleep or B) watch a movie I don’t really care about.

We couldn’t do it on Sunday because E works at a local high-end grocery store that gets VERY busy on Mother’s Day with all of the fresh flower/candy sales. He actually worked ELEVEN HOURS! Today was the first day after Mother’s Day that E didn’t have to work during prime movie hours and the kid’s didn’t have evening activities. SO! Today it is!

The last few years have yielded dismal selections and I’ve either only seen one or two movies, or one year I even waited for another weekend entirely because there wasn’t even one movie out I wanted to see. But this year! This year there are PLENTY! I could probably even watch four if I could stay up past 9pm. Alas, I can’t so this year we have:


Neighbors


I normally don’t like the “Adult Humor” comedy movies that Seth Rogen does. HOWEVER, Jimmy Fallon said this one also has a lot of heart and is sweet and there have been two previews with Rose Byrne in them that have – LITERALLY – made me laugh out loud. So! That’s the first one, seeing it while the kids are in school, with E and possibly Donnie if he can get away.


The Amazing Spiderman 2


Seeing it after school with all three kids. I have simply ADORED Andrew Garfield ever since this happened in advance of the first installment. I also love the chemistry he and Emma Stone have and I love the idea of multiple bad guys. And of course – there’s my affection for ALL superhero movies. I have yet to see one I didn’t like. I’ve definetly liked some more than others, but I like them all.


Captain American: The Winter Soldier


This one has gotten SUCH good reviews and I’ve been dying to see it, we just haven’t had time. So tonight, after dinner, I’ll see it with Donnie and Nikki and Wesley, maybe E – not sure yet. The first Captain America was on my “Like, but not Love” list but I loved Avengers so much that my affection for Cap grew anyway, so I’m going into this one with similar affection as I do with The Amazing Spiderman. There’s probably not a whole lot that could happen that I wouldn’t love.

SO! That’s my day! WOOT!

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#TeamDonnie

How To Spectate A Triathlon

Oh, man. Sorry I vanished for several days. We spent all weekend at a nearby lake so Donnie could participate in a triathlon festival. (6 races in TWO days!) And then yesterday I was playing “catch-up” on life and work but it didn’t go well because I’m still barely functioning at 80% on my BEST day thanks to allergies. WILL THEY EVER GIVE ME A BREAK?!?!

ANYWAY! Today I’m putting all of the lessons learned from this weekend and 3 triathlon seasons prior into one blog post to help any newbies out there NOT take four years to build up this knowledge!

How To Spectate A Triathlon

Triathlons are more fun to spectate than foot races because – most of the time – you can stay in ONE SPOT and still see TONS of action. Therefore – it’s often best to stay there for the whole event with your athlete so you can see them do everything. However, it’s not as easy as just being there. Here are some valuable lessons I’ve learned over the years.

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#TeamDonnie
  • If you can, arrive WITH your athlete. This may seem like a HUGE page to get there early, especially if they’re not going to actually get in the water and start the race until later in the event. BUT STILL…going with your athlete means they don’t have to drive themselves home, which is helpful to them. It also means you don’t have to part too far from the event. Having your car easily accessible will mean you don’t have to drag everything around with you all day. The later your arrive, the worse your parking spot will be.
  • Bring seating. I suggest those campground chairs that travel in bags, but throw a beach blanket in the car if you have one because sometimes that’s actually better and you don’t want to HAVE to carry around chairs if you don’t need. But always bring SOMETHING to put your butt in BESIDES the ground.
  • Bring snacks. Even if the triathlon is a Sprint event (a short one) you will be there awhile including early arrival (to set up transition) and possibility of late start (triathletes all start their race at different times) and you’ll be surprised how hungry you get watching people exercise.
  • Sunscreen! You will also be surprised how sunburned you can get.
  • Bug spray. Because of the need for a source of water for these events, the prevalence for mosquitos is strong.
  • First aid kit. This is especially true if you have kids with you because they’ll be running around like maniacs betweens sightings of their athlete, but it’s also true for any adults because, well, some of us are clumsy and fall down a lot.
  • Put thought into your spectating spot(s). Near transition is a given because it means you’ll see your athlete AT LEAST twice (once when they transition from swim-to-bike, and once from bike-to-run), but most of the times the START and the FINISH is near transition too. SO! If you’re smart, you can stay in one place for the whole event. All of the athletes will be asking about the Run and Bike ins/outs so you just make sure you get that same information. It’s best if you can see them LEAVE transition because cheering them onto their next event is better then cheering them into transition. But, be aware of where the FINISH is so AS SOON as they’re out on their run, you can relocate if necessary.
  • Change of clothes! For the kids, obviously. Hopefully you won’t need one. I forgot that key element this weekend: HUGE MISTAKE.
  • Take a lot of pictures. You have NO IDEA how much your athlete will love this!

I hope this helps you have many successful events as a spectator! Let me know if you have any other tips!

One Final Note: This triathlon festival this weekend had one Olympic Distance Triathlon (I learned you can call those “Olys” this weekend. I’m a cool kid now.) and then 5 other events. One of them was a single rider time trial meaning you get on your bike and race the clock. They send riders out every 30 seconds or so, so there is SOME competitive motivation, but mostly you’re racing the clock and results are read out later. WELL…look at how they started this thing! HOW COOL IS THAT?

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All is well.

If you’ll recall, three years ago (almost to the day) tornados hit Alabama and took out a node of our electrical distribution and we were without power – as a city – for five days. And that was the least of the problems in the state. Yesterday we had non-stop storms again, and the schools all let out early and the city basically shut down. As far as I can tell, as a whole, South Huntsville is okay. Mississippi to our West was not as lucky. The adjacent county to our West – Limestone County – got hit hard and sustained fatalities. Other communities in North Alabama got hit hard too, but no fatalities. West Huntsville saw a lot of damage. And we’re all supposed to stay “weather aware” again today.

But we’re okay. Thank you for asking. I’m going to spend the day trying to get caught up on my life on my work and on my family. I’m still behind on laundry and shopping from our trip this weekend. I’m going to try to be settled in more in case we have any more severe weather today.

Our county was under threat of tornados three times, which means we heard the sirens three times yesterday. This one time, it was the far northwest side of the county while we’re northeast, so we didn’t shelter in place. I did take the time to record the sound though, if you’ve never heard it.

It’s scary. I spent almost a decade not being too scared of storms, and even still sometimes they don’t faze me. However, since it’s the same time of year, same type of storms, as the ones that did so much damage three years ago – I’m a bit more frazzled than usual.

My thoughts are with in the path of the storms today. Stay safe, my friends.

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