Tuesday, July 21, 2015

10 Things I Learned from Actually Doing a Swim Practice

From Memorial Day until late July of every year, my family is consumed with summer swim team, also known as the Water Cult. For the past couple of years, the swim coaches have offered a "Masters Swim" for parents, many of whom are former swimmers themselves. The emails have been inviting us parents to join in for years. I have always deleted them.

This year, however, I have succumbed to the positive peer pressure of my friends, who are participating because they care about "fitness" and "health". I feel that my presence has downgraded the entire experience for everyone and that the practices should now be referred to as "Masters" with intentionally sarcastic air quotes. I mean, the only skills I've mastered are the world's slowest backstroke and how to be consistently ten minutes late to practice.

But it's been a fascinating learning experience that has made me appreciate what my kids go through every day and also how truly great the sport is. So here are 10 things I learned from actually doing a swim team practice:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Experiment: Apple Cidar Vinegar vs Stomach Flu

Last Friday, roughly 25% of the second grade at my kids' school was sent home with a nasty stomach bug that had kids puking in buckets in their classrooms. OH HELL NO. Parents received an email co-written by (no kidding) the Principal and the health department, with guidance from the CDC on how to handle such an infectious outbreak of nastiness.

I dubbed it #PukeFest2015 and of course, my friends, it has hit home.

My 4th grade son woke up the day before yesterday feeling sick, and has been periodically puking ever since. He's actually doing a lot better today, thank you baby Jesus, but we live in fear that this highly contagious virus will spread to other members of the family during this - the last week of school.

SIDEBAR: The last week of school is not all coasting, watching videos in school, and eating popsicles. The last week of school here is an activity-filled, non-stop, shit-show that requires to-the-minute scheduling and includes things like:

Friday, June 19, 2015

I am Terrible at Father's Day

This post is sponsored by Minute Maid as part of their #DoinGood campaign. The give-away is now closed and the $250 gift card has been awarded!

I am terrible at Father's Day. I never know what to get my husband and the ideas I have for my father are borderline demented. For example, I was very disappointed that the three foot tall garden gnomes are no longer available at my local retailer, as that would have been perfect for my dad. Because everyone wants an enormous garden gnome, right? Yes, of course they do.

I think one of the reasons I'm so bad at Father's Day is that my husband is a pretty self-sufficient guy, who usually says he doesn't need anything when asked. He also hates to spend money. These things combined make it very hard to know what to get for him. So we have to get creative and that's usually where we fail. I guess I could be like: "Happy Father's Day! Here is a pack of undershirts I got you at Costco because you're a wonderful dad and I noticed your old ones were fraying because our dryer eats things. God bless!"

That seems insufficient.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Being a Condition Setter


This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org as part of their #talkearly campaign.

In January, I got to hear a parenting coach named Meghan Leahy give a talk about what she does and how she helps parents. I was mildly in love with her by the end of her seminar but also a little put out because she is so much smarter, funnier, and cooler than me, while also being like me in many ways. You can find Meghan on Facebook or read her column in the Washington Post. I found her stuff to be really helpful, honest, and reassuring.

I had two big take-aways from her talk and I want to noodle them here with you. They felt really TRUE and I know when I get that spidey-sense prickly feeling of truth, I need to do something.  Here they are:

As parents, we are the condition-setters. What we do is what's important. If we're stressed and anxious, our kids will be. If we try and give ourselves a break - our kids will not only do the same for us but for themselves.

We need to be there when we are there. When we're with our kids, we need to really be present. We can't be checked out and that is truly so much harder than it sounds.


Monday, June 1, 2015

I Went to Awesome Con with My Kids

Last weekend, I went to Awesome Con in downtown DC.  It's a huge geek culture conference and festival of fandoms, like the huge upcoming Comic Con in San Diego next month or Dragon Con in Atlanta in September. I went for two days and I brought a total of four kids with me both times. On Saturday, it was me and three kids ages 10-13.

This was my first all-in con experience, though my son and I spent a couple of hours wandering around Metro Con in Tampa last June. After doing that & having a blast, I wondered if going to a con (especially on my own) with kids was doable. Here's everything I learned, starting with what to do before you get there:

Prepare your kids for what they might see. We saw some stuff. Some of it was great - in fact most of it was better than great and we're all still buzzing about it. But you should know that some of it was a little "Hey, that's an entire bare bottom right there, covered by a teeny loincloth, four inches from my small child's face as we wait in line to buy Lego Marvel mini-figs." There was some cleavage on display. There were also some scary-looking cosplayers (think really well done Heath Ledger-style Jokers from Batman, etc). We talked about what to do if they saw something or someone who freaked them out, but nothing phased them.

There's also some gender reversal cosplay, dudes dressed as Black Widow or women dressed as the 10th doctor or Thor. If that kind of thing bothers you or you don't want your kids to see it, then honestly, you should probably just stay home. I was blown away by how inclusive, diverse, friendly, and respectful the vibe was. And to be specific, the number of times I saw cosplayers in stuff I felt was inappropriate for people to wear in public was exactly twice. And there were an estimated 30,000 people there over three days.

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