Swim Goggles

Little Girl Big Dreams

My oldest daughter, Brianne, is about to turn 3.  For her birthday, she would like swim goggles and a pair of running shoes.  God Bless her.

This is the third year we’ve taken swim lessons, and Brianne is still afraid to go under the water.  Even in the bathtub, she get’s mad when water get’s in…or scarcely near, her eyes.

I get it.  Water in your eyes is uncomfortable.  Closing your eyes underwater detracts a sense we’re used to.  Brianne is more afraid of the darkness than the water in her eyes.  She wants to go under water…she just wants to be able to see while doing so.  Maybe she wants swim goggles because she knows she’d love to swim if she could just see under the water.  Who am I do discourage her?  Amazing, that at 3, she has found the solution to her own problem and asked for ‘swimmy goggles.’ (the purple ones.)

Don’t we all feel that way, sometimes?   I wish I could have swim goggles to see more than just under water, though.  It’d be nice if they could decode conversations…and intentions.  Those would be some handy goggles. I’ve lost countless hours pondering how to avoid being misunderstood.

The other spectrum…why does my 3 year old want ‘running shoes’ for her birthday?  In her words:  “Because I’m faster than the other runners.”  (The ‘other runners’ she refers to is the high school distance runners that I volunteer to help coach.)  It sat as nothing but a cute sentiment until she literally started to leave on their run with them this past week.  I had to chase her down, her 8 month old sister on my hip, to get her to stay at the track while they went out for a run.

It was then I realized how serious she was…and who am I to tell her it’s a pipe dream?  Maybe she has already discovered a passion for running.  After all, she did pretty much skip walking and went right to running as a baby.  Two steps on the track and her little feet just start striding along like they were built to do so, and before I know it she’s yelling at me from the goal posts at the other end of the field.

It might be a stage she grows out of, but then again it might not be.  Proud of myself for taking the time to listen to my toddler, I found myself wishing adults would listen openly.  Ahhh, the things I learn from my kids.

Brianne knows she’s afraid of going under the water… so she asked for goggles, which will eliminate that fear so that she CAN go under water.  What a brave little 3 year old to find a solution to the problem instead of running from it.  And for her to recognize that she loves to do something so much that she wants new shoes to be able to showcase that talent just floors me.  In asking for swim goggles and running shoes, has she addressed her talents and shortcomings, or just begun the quest of self confidence?

After all, I may be over-analyzing…I mean, I am a mom…and overprotecting and justifying why my kids are the greatest is just what I do…but what if she really becomes a great runner down the road?  Better yet, what if she appreciates that I listened and encouraged her…even if I don’t REALLY think she can out-pace girls 15 years older than her…and that instills in her confidence to accomplish her dreams.  Whatever they may be.  Thanks to Hannah Montana, she’s big into dancing right now, too…so she could go in a lot of different directions.  We’ve got time. 🙂

Wouldn’t it be great if that kind of empathy could exist adult to adult?  If we gave each other room to make mistakes and genuinely listened…just listened…without our own agendas running through our minds at the same time.  Watching Brianne make up little dance moves in her room when no one is watching, and practice starts out of her make believe blocks, reminds me to submerge the urge to control what she’s interested in.  Over encouraging in a certain direction?…nah.

Some people are just naturally pesimistic.  I’m not one of those, mainly because of my faith.  I hate to think of how many Brianne’s there are out there dreaming up the same big dreams she is, and if they are being encouraged to do what they love and embraced for who they are…or being bullied for it along the way as they grow into adults?  I mean, if adults aren’t empathetic, accepting, and encouraging of each other…why would kids grow up to be?  They learn from us.

Word of the day…empathy.

The Skinny Jeans

Rain.  Is it worse than snow?  Yes.  Until March.  When you’re tired of avoiding your morning run for fear of falling on snow and ice and opt for dripping wet instead.  Come to think of it, rain has caused a little shift in my lane of logic in recent months.

See, I have this thing.

Although once obsessed in my youth about my pants being ‘flared’ and ‘long’ enough to cover all but the toe of my shoe…even when sitting down…, the grown up version of myself has just about chucked it all together.  Rainy days like this remind me why.  Wet feet suck, but not as much as wet pants that get your butt all wet when you sit down on your foot…and your floor all gross…and your furniture all damp…you get the picture, right?

It really bothers me.

Enter, rain boots. 

Honestly, one of the top 5 best inventions of all time…not to mention how fashionable they are…strike that…can be. For a while, I reveled in my spectacularly dry feet, proudly breaking out my snazzy rain boots every time it sprinkled…and after hard rains…and sometimes in the snow…to shovel the driveway…

Until one day, I caught a glance of myself in a department store mirror (who am I kidding…it was most likely Target), and noticed my cartoon-ish boot-cut jeans trying to escape from my rain-boots.  Ugh.  I hate those kind of reality checks.  I crammed the jeans back in the rain boots the best I could while my hungry toddler impatiently pulled on my arm to scan the toy-aisle, and moved on. The jeans popped back out within the first 5 steps.  I could no longer enjoy my rain boots.

Enter, skinny jeans.  Thank you, Lauren Conrad, for Style. After reading it , I said to myself, “Screw it.  Yes, I just had my second kid.  No, I’m not in the shape of my life…but I’m not that atrocious…plus I really want fashionably dry feet in the rain!!!”

Now, as a mom of two kids I do have to reality check myself when I buy clothes sometimes.  Example…just because I CAN fit into the low-rise jeans that are on sale (who am I kidding…clearance) doesn’t necessarily mean I SHOULD wear them.  So, the skinny jeans worried me a little.

Going for it anyway, I once again reveled in the majesty of my gloriously dry…and now fashionable…feet.  To compromise with my post-childbirth confidence, I pair the skinny jeans with long sweaters and button downs.  So far, so good.

Believe me, I’m aware of the world I live in, but I seriously got nervous the first time I went out in public in my rain-boot/skinny jean combo.  As if anyone even cares if I’m not the ideal figure to maximize the outfit’s potential.  I quickly realized…no one cares.  At least not in this neck of the woods…I mean, at least not in earshot, right?  Golden. Even if they did care…I’m 31 (I just had to use a calculator to remember…ugh) with 2 kids.  What do I care, anyway?

This quickly led to more than rain boots…I door busted flats…and winter boots…and for the summer (which will get here eventually…right???), sandals…those friggin’ rain-boots have inspired a wardrobe a makeover.  Which may sound ridiculous unless you just got done wearing maternity clothes for 20 months out of the last 3 years.

Thank you skinny jeans.

Thank you LC (no, not my 8 month old…the fab chica she was named after).

Thank you rain-boots.

Thank you rain.

Rain always looks so dreary and uninviting. However, had I avoided it all together I never would have had my own personal fashion revelation.  I believe there’s something to be said for that.

Now if I could only run in my rain boots…

…I hate how my toes instantly freeze the first puddle I run through…

…what if I tried to spray water-proofing stuff on my running shoes…

…the other side.

Ahhh, the beginning of Track season.  32 degrees, but the sun was out and the wind was dead.  “Shorts and T-Shirt” weather, as one of our brightest observed.  My view of the track has always been linked closely with pain…and joy…and hurt…and triumph…and nausea…and pride…and…well, you get the picture.

From the other side of the track as a volunteer coach,  I recalled my initiation into track at fifteen. A green pea, I thought over a decade of ballet wold lend me the coordination and speed it took to be a hurdler.  Yet, I took notice of how much fun the distance runners had out on their runs… and I fell over a lot of hurdles.  

I laughed as some of our Cross Country runners deserted the distance crew to be sprinters, and wondered what painful episode caused the sudden change in heart.

Quickly pulled back to reality by my run-away child, I caught the glance of every non-parent in the weight room as she stumbled hazardly through bars and leg press machines.

Practice rolled on, and I fed my 8 month old a bottle while attempting to coax my stubborn ‘almost-3” year old down from the bleachers, I collected goals and last week’s mileage from the distance runners.   Learn new names, calculate workout paces, establish new goals…and chase after my 3 year old who believes with all her little heart that she can keep up with the ‘runners’ as they exit the track to log some miles.

The thrill of the “chase” made me question my motives,  Why coach?  Why drag my 2 kids up to the track?

Truth?  Track is a piece of me.  My little peepsters misbehave and make the experience a wonderful combination of gut wrenching and embarrassment on some days, but being at the track never was a completely comforting experience.

I had drifted towards distance runners, just like I had at fifteen.

I always wonder how people know what their passion is.  (Little kids on American Idol that say they’ve known since they were 2 they wanted to sing.)  Perhaps it’s just what you gravitate to….what you love so much that any pain that goes along with it is overshadowed by the triumphs.

Maybe my daughters will learn to love distance running and it’s masochistic ways, too.  If not in running than in something that they question why they love, until they are out there in it. I’m trying to instill an experience in them that will help shape their determination, by simply showing them who I am.  I might not have it all figured out yet, but maybe that’s a good thing to accept early on in parenting.

Practice isn’t perfect, but it can make it.

Happy Track Season,


The Meltdown.

I’ve always encountered screaming children while running errands.  Knowing with certainty that one day those would be my kids screaming their heads off in rage, I’ve always lent a sympathetic nod in that direction and a thankful prayer in an upwards direction.

Well, my day came today.  As if I haven’t had enough warning from past encounters with in-store tantrums, I consistently let my toddler pick out something from the dollar bin almost every time we visit the store.  Well, she’s now gravitating towards collectible animals.  A charming habit, which I’d rather tend to than be drowning in princesses, Barbies and dolls at this point.  (sooner or later it’s inevitable, right?) However, these animals have surpassed the dollar bin budget.  Time to pull back on the reigns.


Brianne and her Giraffe

My daughter and 'Daddy Giraffe,' one of her many collectible animals.


How do explain money matters to a 2 year old?  “No, you can’t have the $17 collectible dragon,” just didn’t seem to cut the mustard today.  Let alone the , “No” to the bunny after her dragon answer meltdown.

Most of the time, my kid will put whatever it is back and follow me once I start to walk away.  Not today.  Oh, no.  Not today.  As I gradually started pushing the cart away from the ‘animals’ my little angel started screeching louder than I’ve ever her scream before.

Tears streaming down her face in anger, I picked her up and placed her in the cart without hesitation. Banking on her calming down when she saw she hadn’t rattled me, I was taken aback by what she did next.

Arms flailing…reaching out to hit me while attempts to jump out of the cart, she almost wacks her baby sister in the head at full force.  So #2 had now joined her big sister in hysterics.

What to do?  Check out or ditch what I’ve got and cut my losses.  I decide to calmly push my cart towards the checkout, in hopes my lack of reaction would eventually quiet the madness.

Just as I reach the front of the store, arms start flailing and screeching gets a raise in volume.  As a gut reaction I revert to damage control, yanking her out of the cart so she can’t hurt her sister.  How in the world I kept calm as I talked her down from her crazy place of emotion I do not know.

(Oh, yes I do…help from above, I’m sure.  Maybe all those “thank you for that not being my kid melting down” prayers lent a little sympathy.  Maybe, just maybe. )

You know what?  It worked.  I calmly looked her in the eye and told her to give me a hug.  She did, and I told her we can’t get everything at the store….what would people get you for your Birthday?  Bought it.  I waited until we were checked out and outside to talk to her about ‘the meltdown. ‘

“Do you ever get anything you want when you act that way?”  Sniffle Sniffle.  “N-N-N-Nooooo, Mommy.”

The real lesson here was for me.

#1.  Stop spoiling my child by letting her get something every time we go to the store.  Enough is enough.  Time to start teaching my soon-to-be-3 year old the true “value” of the ‘dollar bin.’

#2.  Patience is king.  I think I’ll collect a pat on the back to me for not becoming a yelling, screaming, hitting in public parent, but…wow…I understand how it happens.

#3.  PMS does not wait until puberty to start rearing it’s ugly head.  (I think my Mom is right, once again.)

I’d feel a lot better about the whole thing if it were Sunny & 80.  Oh, well.  After a car ride home with #2 having a meltdown, I think wine time will begin a little early this evening.

Happy ‘Meltdown’ Day 🙂


The Last Day of February…

Ahhhh…the last day of February.

Thank.  The. Lord.

Let’s be real.  This is the time of the year when even the most avid ‘I love the change of the seasons’ peeps want to hibernate, and we all get sick.  Too tired of wearing hats, winter coats, boots, pre-heating the car for 15 minutes before we get in it.  It all gets a little tiresome come the last day of February, so we get lackadaisical and end up with disgusting sicknesses.  My family is no different.  Right now, yogurt is our Pepto …hey …don’t knock it ’till you try it.

Think about it.  When the sun comes out and the outside thermometer reads 3o or above, the spring coats come out.  The same forecast in January?  We’re not venturing out without the down puffy coat.  I’m constantly reminded of how pre-mature my Spring fever is by the frozen lake at the end of my street.  Just in case I get the urge to start looking for green shoots of life popping up through the ground, Mother Erie stands there to greet me with 10 foot chunks of busted up ice chunks to remind me that it’s still February.

...still frozen...

Frozen Mother Erie

The stores don’t help either.  Do you know that if you happen to wait until February to buy a winter boots you cannot just go out and buy another pair!  You’re left to squeeze your growing child’s foot in until they return to the stores in August.  The flip-flops are on the end cap at Target but we’re in the middle of an ice storm.

Flip flops on the end cap in February remind me how many snowbirds are down in Florida, and how many of my friends from college actually moved South like I planned to. While they are surrounded by blue water and palm trees, I’m looking out my window wondering if I should call the power company before that freshly cracked limb falls on the wires.  I’m usually not this salty about where I live.  I do love The Land …it’s just been way too long since I’ve hugged a palm tree.

Last day of February …I salute you. Buh-bye. 

St. Pat’s Day is coming …will we be slathering on SPF or scraping snow off the windshields? Who. Even. Knows. 

But we’re one step closer to Sunny and 80…

Happy Monday:)

Wow! The very beginning of Sunny&80. The first post. It’s amazing to see what God has done in my life and with this blog. Fresh on the facebook scene, I remember the feelings of frustration I felt watching old friends live in the warm places I longed to relocate to. Since this post, my parents have relocated to a permanent background of palm trees, too. And my brother. In fact, I’m the last of Five Alive still residing in The Land. But I’m not frustrated about it anymore. Though the angst to leave rises up now and again, I have learned to defer the urge to move for more of God wherever I’m at. Joy in the journey. He’s not a God of coincidence, so I know I’ve been placed purposefully …and I won’t miss a move if I’m focused on Jesus. There is great peace in working hard with what He’s given us, loving the people in our lives well, and watching expectantly for Him to meet us there and make a move …

I hope I’ve been able to pass along the encouragement and love He’s shown me through Sunny &80. This blog is a record of the life I’ve lived. It’s my prayer you see Jesus through it …because He’s been with me every word of the way.