kids

Appreciating Time

As my birthday was approaching my kids were either, (a) very secretive about what they wanted to do or give me; or (b) flat out telling me what they are making me (my youngest can’t keep a secret to save her life).  As they are getting older they want to buy me things and, while I absolutely appreciate that they want to do that for me, I would rather they didn’t spend their money on me.

This is all my Papa’s fault.  😉

Growing up, I remember that my dad never wanted any gifts; not for Christmas, not his birthday and not for Father’s Day.  The way I saw it, I had a job and I wanted to get him a gift.  To me, it was almost showing appreciation for him being the best dad he could be.  A couple of times I even asked him what he wanted and he said “I don’t want anything.”  I’d still get him something but, being the man of few words that he is, it’s not like he got excited about it.  It was almost anticlimactic to watch him open the gift.  I got over it.

Eventually, as I matured into a “real” adult, my siblings and I would have parties and get everyone together whether it was for a special occasion or “just because” and he really enjoyed those.  If someone was missing, he’d ask where they were.  We realized that it truly made him happy to simply have us together; to BE together and enjoy our TIME together.  Today, that’s how I feel.

My oldest wants to take me to dinner and it will be very nice to spend more time with her, but a part of me doesn’t want to have a fancy dinner; I’d rather she didn’t spend her money that way.  We can have a nice dinner and enjoy each other’s company without the expensive bill at the end of the night.  I don’t want to crush her plans so I’ll make a light suggestion that we go somewhere else and see if she takes the bait.  I will appreciate whatever it is (like the manicure and PAINFUL eyebrow threading that I endured already as part of her gift to me).  Ultimately, my hope is that I instill the same appreciation for time that my dad did for me and my siblings.  We don’t “stress” about gifts like we used to because the most important part is that we all take the time out to spend together.  God blessed me with a wonderful family that I love to spend time with.  I can’t ask for anything more for my birthday.

Thank you, Papa.  🙂

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Sharing my goals and receiving inspiration.

It’s February 5, 2016 already, and for a lot of people who make resolutions, they’re starting to fall apart, if not all but forgotten by now.  I, too, had a list of resolutions for the year.  I’ve started most of my resolutions: gain weight, spend more, keep a messy room, stop working out…you know, the usual.  I managed to add a few serious ones in there, too.

One in particular – learn sign language.

It’s not the first time but, over the busy holiday shopping season, there were more than a couple of situations where I wish I had known sign language so that I could help someone who was struggling with a store employee.  I can’t even begin to attempt to be helpful in that particular situation and that’s frustrating for me; imagine how they feel.  😦

So, I shared this particular “resolution” with my kids and my youngest princess was super excited.  So much so that she decided she wanted to do it, too.  Like most things, it was exciting at first; the thought was exciting.  Then came the part where I try and figure out where to begin.  There are so many resources online and, as we all know, everything on the internet can‘t be trusted so I really had to do some research.  Then life happened and the momentum was gone.

2 weeks later my princess had her dad send me a video.  The video was of her saying “good night” to me in sign language.  I absolutely loved it and it sparked a new excitement in me.  A few days later, she was at my house again.  I came home from work and when I walked in the door she didn’t speak like she normally would, she signed “Hi Mom.  Finally, you are home.”  #proudmamamoment  It was so sweet.  Of course I had to ask her what she said, but still, it was so encouraging to see that she was trying to learn.

It inspired me, but not enough.  Not yet.

The next morning she signed that she loved me.  That evening we were sitting at the dinner table and she has a piece of paper out with a long list of words on it and she said, “quiz me.”  After I was done quizzing her, she signed “thank you.”  I asked what that meant.  She told me.  Then she finally says, “Mommy, who’s resolution is this, anyway?”  That’s when I finally put aside my excitement about HER learning it and decided to do what I said I was going to do.  How embarrassing for me to have my daughter remind me that it was me who said I wanted to learn so that I could help others.

The rest of that evening was spent learning the alphabet alone – it’s hard to teach this old dog new tricks. 😉  The next morning, she comes into my bedroom, half awake, and says, “Come on Mommy, let’s go over the alphabet again.”  She curled up in bed with me and we went over the alphabet, again.  When it was time for me to leave, I ask if she knows how to say “have a good day,” but she doesn’t.  Lesson number 1.  I learn it during the day at work and when I come home I show her.  She, in turn, taught me some new phrases and that’s how it’s been all week.

She inspired me to start and keep the momentum going.  I am truly blessed to have received the gift of my children.  They keep me on my toes.  Where would I be without them?  🙂  I’m no ASL pro, but with their inspiration and motivation, what was once a simple new year’s resolution on a piece of paper will become my second (or third if you count broken Spanish) language.

My mini-me

Alaina.  My princess who’s about to turn the big 1-0, is, in so many ways, my little mini-me.  Looking back at my life, I can see how all my kids do things like I did at their age, so that either makes them (and me) normal kids, or that just shows how my genes were spread out among all of them.  Anyway, Alaina has such spunk and can be so witty.  She’s a perfect little blend of tom boy and girlie girl.  Although I was mostly a tom boy, I’m sure deep in the recesses of my mind, there are girl moments that i’m trying to bury because I don’t associate with them like that.

Two years ago she got glasses because she inherited my horrible vision.  It was almost as if the glasses provided an instant, extra layer of wit to her already witty and funny personality.  Take those glasses off, and sometimes you wonder where it all went.  I love it!  So lately she’s been without glasses – she broke them and who knows where she discarded the broken pieces.  With school starting soon, we needed to get new spectacles for her.  I decided that she could go in for the eye exam by herself while I was just outside the door.  Ten minutes later she comes out, all smiles, and the doctor says, “Well, Alaina’s doing everything that she’s supposed to be doing.  There was only a slight change in her vision.” Which I was happy about, until the doctor continues and says, “We’ll hold on to the prescription since Alaina says she doesn’t need new glasses.”

……….wait, what?!……….I almost got whiplash when I turned to Alaina, who stood there with a bewildered look on her face that says, “Oh, is THAT what you meant when you asked if I needed new glasses?”  Good grief!

Then there are situations like yesterday that really make me laugh.  We go shopping, get out of the car, i’m holding Daniela’s hand, Dominique’s walking beside her and Alaina’s trying to wrap herself around me – the conversation goes like this:

Me: Alaina! What are you doing? Just hold my hand.
Alaina: I’m just trying to hug you while you walk.
Me: Honey, come on, please just hold my hand, that’s impossible.
Alaina: Mommy, haven’t you ever heard that NOTHING’S impossible?!
(Mind you, she’s still trying to wrap herself around me as we walk towards the store.)
Me: Yes, you’re right, but THIS?! THIS isn’t going to work out and i’m going to fall on you.
(She responds and it’s as if she isn’t really listening to me, go figure.)
Alaina: But I guess the person who started the saying that “nothing’s impossible” (yes, she did the finger quotes) didn’t ever try to slam a revolving door.  Now THAT’S impossible.
Me:  Not for Chuck Norris, it isn’t.
Alaina: Yeah, he can do everything.

This brief conversation ended in such a matter of fact kind of way.  Really, all I could do was smile and shake my head as we now enter TJMaxx and she’s ogling over the designer purses.  Yep, she can be girlie.

It's a small tree, but she's determined to climb it.

It’s a small tree, but she’s determined to climb it.

Alaina's getting her first kiddie pedicure.
Alaina’s getting her first kiddie pedicure.

The triathlon that touched my heart

Sunday I completed a sprint triathlon – the inaugural Quantico Triathlon, with one of my awesome Seesters, Maribel, which I will most definitely do again next year.  I won’t bore you with my finish time, you can look it up if you want, but I will tell you that I was very pleased with myself because this was my first race post-arthroscopic knee surgery to smooth out my meniscus that I jacked up last year while I was trying to train for the Marine Corps Marathon.

quantico

I started my “race career” by doing 5k’s, specifically the Susan G. Komen Race for The Cure, years and years ago with my mom and the folks at her job.  I use the term “race” loosely seeing as i’m not trying to break any records or even come in the top 10, but I always gave it 100% and I loved it.  Now, all the in between is a tad fuzzy because I started having kids and all, but at some point I decided to take my racing and fundraising a step further and decided to jump into a triathlon – an Olympic distance, at that.  So for a few years I joined other causes like LLS, The American Heart Association, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, the American Diabetes Association, etc. and raised money while preparing to run races, complete triathlons and cycling fun rides, too.  I don’t take credit for getting the family involved, but between my Seesters and I, and even cousins, we’ve all done some kind of endurance event together and it’s a great experience to go through with family.  Talk about bringing everyone together, not only for a good cause, but for our own health and fitness, as well.

As my kids got older, I always wanted them to come see what Mommy did, to see me do what I loved to do.  I wanted them to not only cheer for me (because nothing beats seeing children cheering for their parents), but I wanted them to want to get involved, too – kids are so impressionable like that.  I wanted to make sure that I taught my children to do for others and if the only way to help is to fund raise (since we’re not all scientists finding cures), then pick something you can stand for and do it.

Anyway, I didn’t always have the luxury of having my kids waiting for me at the finish line, but that doesn’t stop me from keeping them informed of what I’m doing and letting them train with me to prepare for the races.  So in recent years, I have been blessed with the chance of having them waiting for me and it’s the best; Sunday was no exception.  I made plans with the Man of the house to bring the kids down to watch but, 4:30 am Sunday morning, the alarm goes off, I go out to rack my bike and it’s raining.  I was reluctant to press forward because the rain and slick ground made me nervous about my knee, which I haven’t fully recovered from, but I couldn’t leave my Seester high and dry, so off I went to pick her up.   We arrived at Quantico Marine Corps Base and, before getting out of the car, I sent a text to the Man to let him know that they didn’t have to come because of the rain – I was going to feel really bad for them to stand out there in that mess.  Though I was sure he received the message, I didn’t wait for a response.  We racked our bikes in transition, got our body markings, and strapped on our timing chips.  I checked the cell one last time before heading to the pool and I see his response about having a raincoat. He’s still coming! I love this man!  🙂

As I anxiously waited for 7:47 to come, my official race start time, I keep looking around the pool at the spectators that made their way in to cheer and watch and I don’t see my brood.  I was hoping I could spot them for that extra bit of encouragement since my Seester had already started 20 minutes before I did.  Oh well, off I went.  14 minutes later, I got out of the pool and my girls were there cheering, “go mommy!” as I entered my first transition – THANK YOU LORD THEY ARE HERE!  As I exited the transition area on my bike, I could see out of the corner of my eye a blue figure running through the grass and for a second I thought, he’s running through the rain taking pics of me! (I later found out that it really was him.)

9 miles later and i’m entering my second transition to prepare for the run and there they are, cheering – my heart swells with happiness!  As I fumble along to take my bike shoes off and put my run shoes on (yes, I put on new, dry socks even though it was soaking wet out there and I was about to put on soaking wet shoes) I hear a couple to my left.  The 50-something year old woman was in transition, soaked like me, curly hair all a frizz, and fumbling around, too, while her husband was on the spectator side of the fence.   They spoke Spanish so, lucky for me, I understand it 99.9% of the time.  She seems slightly frantic so her husband, in such a loving tone, tells her, “Mi amorsita, no te preocupes….no tiene que apresurarse.” which means, “my love, don’t worry…you don’t need to rush.”  Meanwhile, he’s trying to take pictures of her and she’s telling him how ugly the weather is and to please not take pictures of her looking like she does.  It was like she was embarrassed for him to see her not looking her best, it was so cute.  So he says, “Mi corazon, mi reina, te veas tan bella siempre.  Estoy tan orgulloso de ti.” which means, “my heart, my queen, you always look so beautiful.  I am so proud of you.”  I paused and it made me smile because it was so loving.  It wasn’t just the nice words, you could hear it in his voice that he truly supported her.  It made me think about my Man, he supports me in all that I do.  He brought my kids down because he knows it means a lot to me.  He ran through the rain to take pictures of me because he knows i’d want that.  He made sure they were at the finish line because he knows they are who I want to see after an accomplishment like that.  (Sure, it was a sprint triathlon, but I felt like I’ve come a long way and it HAS been a long, depressing year of recovering in the gym.)

I entered this triathlon for no one but myself, to see if I could do it.  After crossing the finish line I realized that it was about more than just completing it, it was about having the support of family there to see that i’m not through yet so that I could believe it, too.  Yep, I still got it in me.  I’m not registering for any more races just yet, but this has certainly encouraged me to keep on keepin on!

Tri

PS: Pardon any grammatical errors in my writing or translating of the Spanish language.  😉