• He Shall Overcome

    When you’re a mother, seeing a child overcome his fear is like winning the Super Bowl of parenting.

    Drew leaves for camp soon, and the first item on the agenda once he arrives is the swim test. The test wigged him out last year, to the point that he almost didn’t want to go to camp this year. We hoped his fear was treatable, and Drew has been taking swimming lessons from Bill’s tri coach. They’ve made an enormous difference, so much so that when Bill floated the idea of the twins participating in last Saturday’s triathlon, Drew chose to handle the swim and the run, while Porter handled the biking leg of the relay. I nearly passed out when Bill informed me of this, and pictured myself escorting sobbing boys back to the minivan shortly after they’d arrived at the race site. It all seemed like a recipe for horror to me.

    Saturday morning both Drew and Porter were having second thoughts about the event, but Finn, ever the scornful older brother, told them to quit freaking out; a 200 yard swim, eight mile bike and two mile run were no biggie, and if they ever hoped to be cool in any sense of the word they better quit their bitching and focus on the race.

    Although there were children participating, the organizers stuck strictly to the rules and didn’t let non-participating parents into the transition area to aid their kids in getting set up. Fortunately for us, Finn was competing on his own and helped Drew and Porter get body-marked, organize their equipment, and locate the tent where relay teams trade their timing chips during transitions.

    Bill had barely a moment to talk strategy with the boys
    before it was time for all the swimmers to head to the pool.

    Drew had a little come-apart, but we found a race volunteer to assume the role of mama bear and get him to the pool.

    The scene at the pool was overwhelming. There were almost 300 swimmers lined up around the pool according to number. The boys had high numbers and were near the end of the line.
    Finn and Drew are actually in this picture under the yellow flag in the foreground, but are impossible to see, as they were dwarfed by most of the other competitors. waittoswim
    Watching and waiting made Drew extremely nervous. Finn had a talk with him and whatever he said, Drew seemed to be okay after that.

    “If you don’t shape up and swim like a man, I’m going to give you a wedgie every day for the rest of your life.”

    In fact, by the time they made it around to the far side of the pool, Drew was ordering the other competitors around, even the burly ones who could have eaten him as an appetizer.
    “Excuse me sir, but when you get in the pool, please keep to the right in case I need to pass you with my powerful breast/free combo stroke. These toothpick legs contain herculean muscles and I don’t want you to get hurt.”

    Drew didn’t win any style points for his entry into the water
    but Bill and I almost cried at this point. We were so relieved to see him get in the water without balking that he could have stopped after three strokes and we’d have considered it a victory.

    But he didn’t. He was slow and steady, and swam 200 yards
    and exited the pool
    like he’d done this a thousand times before. There must have been water in my eye– I’m not one to cry at sporting events.

    Up to this point Bill and I had been hanging out on the pool deck watching the boys swim. Now we had to get moving. Bill went to the bottom of the hill to wait for Porter. He planned to bike along with him, as the bike route went along some mighty busy streets. Finn had the experience to negotiate the traffic, but we wanted Porter to be chaperoned.

    My duties were two-fold: to coach the transitions and to take photographs of each child going out and coming in. This required me to run back and forth across the parking lot from the transition area to the road multiple times. It was quite a workout for a lady who doesn’t run unless being chased by someone brandishing a weapon.


    After the swim Drew entered the transition area, took the chip from his ankle and gave it to Porter, who attached it and headed out on the bike.
    Meanwhile, Drew changed for the run.

    Eight miles later Porter biked back in
    and put up his helmet and bike in the transition area and then took off for the relay tent.
    Their transition was all business.
    And Drew was off on the run.
    He may be small, but his feet looked ginormous.

    Big feet run in our family. I’m 5’4″ but wear a size nine shoe. My mom taught me to say, “They may be big, but they sure do hold me up.”
    Drew’s big feet held him up well and kept him at a steady pace.

    I tried to take a picture of the boys together at the finish but they made all sorts of dreadful faces unsuitable for publication.

    After the race is over, it’s traditional for triathletes to complain about all the minor aspects of the race that prevented them from having a faster time. Finn was pissed because he’d gotten blocked by a moving van on a busy street and lost at least fifteen seconds. Porter claimed to be suffering from hideous butt cramps that had slowed him down on the bike. His cramps, he said, were due to the fact that his biking shorts are too small, and he announced that he needs a bigger pair with “very cushy padding.”

    Only Drew was silent, and as I looked in the rear view mirror I saw him fondling his medal and smiling to himself. It made me smile, too.
    One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Preparing For The Enemy

  • Come As You Are

    All Finn needed to graduate was a bra made of coconuts, a grass skirt, and a coat and tie.


    The coconut bra, skirt and lei were for the luau party the sixth graders had the night before graduation to celebrate their journey to the junior high. There was a chocolate fountain, a DJ, tropical drinks, and dancing. Finn came home with second prize in the costume contest and sympathy for women all over the world.


    “I don’t think I could ever wear a bra all day. I mean, this one was only made of fake coconuts, and it was itchy and I felt like I could barely breathe. I bet a real bra would be awful.”

    I assured him that it is, and that bras are another reason (in addition to making eggs) that women should be treated with care and respect.

    Finn’s not the only one who’s been dressing up lately. The duo had their power point book report presentations a couple of weeks ago.

    Porter wore one of the most popular pieces in our dress-up box to give his presentation on the Beatles.


    Drew was a wild-haired Albert Einstein, and though my intentions were good I failed to get a picture of him. That’s the danger of having more than one child– your attention gets diverted from one boy’s book report to another boy’s lacerated finger, and the next thing you know you’re running into the auditorium late while your camera sits at home.

    I was forward-thinking enough to have Finn try on his blazer a couple of days ago, and it’s a damn good thing I did. As my mom would have said, we’d have been in “a mell of a hess” if he’d woken up this morning and put on his old blazer, which reached only to his elbows, no matter how much he hunched over. I was forced to make a last minute trip to Burlington Coat Factory and plunk down twenty dollars for the same Liz Claiborne blazer, two sizes larger, but the bargain price made it worth it, especially since it will be handed down twice.

    Graduation itself was nice, though no cause for tears in my book. Finn is ready to leave the junior high behind. His class has adjourned to yet another pool party, where I suspect some lighthearted flirting may take place, but I’ll never hear about that first hand. One of the disadvantages to having all boys is that you must call the girls’ mothers to learn any interesting gossip, because your male won’t volunteer it.

    The duo are busy this afternoon as well. Drew will be visiting a friend’s farm with a number of other third graders, and Porter and Bill are playing in a golf tournament for kids.

    You’d think that would be enough for one family, but I’ve been informed that there’s a short triathlon Saturday morning and the boys are determined to participate. Finn plans on competing individually, while the twins are forming a relay team, with Drew doing the swim, Porter riding the bike, and Drew finishing off with the run. I’ll have to coach the boys through the transition area while Bill waits on the bike course to accompany Porter on the ride, as it goes through a high-traffic area at one point.

    Many of you were kind enough to ask how Bill did in last weekend’s triathlon, and he performed well. He’s been working with a trainer over the past months, and improved in all three areas. He had a goal of some time or other, and beat it by lots of minutes, and looked really hot in a sexy way at the end of the race clad in all his crazy athletic gear.

    By now I’m totally used to the fact that he is no damn fun the night before a race, so his lack of sociability didn’t insult me at all. Of course, the second night I had no illusions that I’d be sleeping in the nude.

    It feels like all I’ve done the past few weeks is concentrate on the males. I’m hoping that once all the sports are finished tomorrow we can concentrate on MAMA. Mama, she wants to prune the hollies and plant some flowers, then sip a gin and tonic when the day is done. Here’s hoping.


    Two years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Girls, Girls, Girls

    (this post contains a prophecy that has proven to be true!)

  • Cramped Quarters With The Guys

    I’ve preserved a minuscule area of femininity in my own house, and the boys are prohibited from entering my bathroom unless expressly invited. Invitations are issued sparingly for delivery of soft toilet paper from my private stash, removal of painful splinters requiring my fancy tweezers and dexterous fingers, and other medical and hygienic procedures.

    When we travel, however, I’m thrust in a room with four males, and maintaining a sense of decorum and privacy is daunting. Over the years I’ve learned to quickly nab a clean bath towel and stash it in my suitcase until it’s time for my own shower, so that I’m not left choosing between the damp towels soiled with boy grit strewn over the hotel floor.

    This weekend we traveled to Memphis for the Memphis in May triathlon. I chose our accommodations carefully. My goal is to fit all five of us in one room without excessive punching and screaming.

    The Embassy Suites is always a huge hit, as it generally features a glass elevator. This provides hours of fun as the boys ride up and down, imagining they are Charlie from Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, about to zoom through the roof and on to unimaginable adventures. The Suites also host a Manager’s Special at 5:30 each afternoon, where free drinks and snacks are served. Even a weak gin and tonic– free!– is a gift after a four hour drive.

    This particular Embassy Suites had several features that made it extra special. There was an arcade, an indoor swimming pool, and best of all, a fake river that meandered through the lobby level, filled with live ducks and goldfish the size of a dachshund.

    No doubt the ducks were added to emulate the ducks that swim in the fountain at the much posher Peabody Hotel, where Aunt Lulu and Uncle P and the baby were staying. If you go to Memphis, you must see Graceland, eat barbecue, walk Beale Street, and watch the marching of the ducks. Each morning they leave their pen on the roof of the Peabody, and parade off the elevator and down a red carpet into the fountain where they stay until the afternoon, when the process is reversed.

    My boys watched the ducks and visited the Peabody roof, but after we left they all poo-poohed the Peabody with its fancy rooms. As Porter said, “I think two star hotels are the best kind for our family.” Drew proclaimed the Embassy Suites “the awesomest hotel ever” and Finn went a step further and asked why we couldn’t move to Memphis and live there.

    Theoretically, I suppose we could, but it would kill the romance in our marriage. When it was time for bed, we surveyed the two double beds and the pull-out sleeper sofa and I began to assign sleeping spots based on the idea that Bill and I would sleep together and that Finn and Porter would be separated.

    “Hey, you wanna sleep in the nude?” Bill asked me, as I assigned Drew to one of the double beds.

    “You’re kidding, right?” I’ve been hiding my lady parts from the boys for several years now, and Bill needed to rest up for the race. Surely he wasn’t proposing hanky-panky, especially in such close proximity to our offspring.

    Silly me. What Bill had asked was “Do you want to sleep with the dude?” meaning Drew, so that he could have a bed all to himself.

    Of course I agreed. Drew and I snuggled up, paperclip and all. The things I do for love.


    Two years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Dead Pets Society: The Hermit Crabs

  • Safety Tip:Road ID

    I’m sure I’ve written about Bill’s exhausting exercise regime. He’s been training for upcoming triathlons in Memphis and San Francisco, so he spends a lot of time on the road running and biking.

    It’s treacherous. We live near the high school, and we all know teens are nutty, swervy drivers. Bill runs and bikes miles in the dark. He doesn’t carry his Blackberry with him when he’s running, as he wears so few clothes that he has nowhere to put it. Plus, if he were knocked unconscious it would do him little good.

    I don’t enjoy thinking about him getting hurt, but my mantra is prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

    I just bought him an identification bracelet from RoadId.com.

    Here’s a sample from their website:

    I put his name and our phone numbers on it and Matt. 19:26, which refers to a verse that ought to keep him going on the uphill parts of his training.

    I purchased the original bracelet, but RoadID offers other colors and products, including an id that fits on your shoe, and a flashing firefly light that can be seen up to a mile away.

    If you have a walking, running or biking group this is a must. The Firefly light would also be handy for keeping track of your children at Halloween. In fact, readers, please leave your ideas for these products in the comments. I know their uses go far beyond sports.

    Edward at RoadID has offered all my readers a discount if you use the code ThanksAnne348175 when you check out.


    You may also be interested to know that the die-hard triathlete swims in these:

    I thought he was having an affair with a big-assed lady the first time I found them in the laundry. Never in a million years did I think he wore these to be aerodynamic in the water.

    Damn. I found ANOTHER one.


    It is just lucky for him that I love him so much, or I’d have to tell the world about his itty-bitty swimmies.

    lick ear

    I wrote this for Works For Me Wednesday at Rocks in My Dryer.
    My Previous Works For Me Wednesday tips:

    How We Parent -Just Because You Asked (old school parenting)

    A Cheater’s Guide To Spiffing Up Your House (put kids to work)

    Food, Glorious Food (4 easy, family friendly recipes- shop for all on Sunday)

    Detoxify Noxious Athletic Shoes (If I can’t unstink soccer cleats, it can’t be done)

    Week O’ Recipes (the original 4 recipes to shop for on Sunday and cook for the week, plus a link to the famous Beef Balls)