Tuesday, August 28, 2012

That's not the beach

As I approach my trip to the shore for the summer, I think back on the first time my husband (then boyfriend) took me to the shore. I was amazed. You think THIS is the beach? This is not the beach. The sand is mushy, the water is cold (until August, when there are jellies everywhere), there are too many people, and why are they are focused on eating a four course meal out of a cooler under their umbrellas when there is sun and peace to be had. Where. is. the. BEACH?!?

What do you mean I need a pass for the week. What do you mean we need more than a towel. What do you mean we are not getting there before noon and leaving within two hours as the rain clouds sweep over us. I thought you said we were going to. the. BEACH.

Why did it take three hours to get here. New Jersey is LINED with beaches, and we only live 20 minutes from New Jersey. This is ridiculous. Where are the public parking lots. Why are we walking so far. Why is no one going in the water. Why is no one in the sun. Why are there so many hats. Why are there so few bathing suits.

Shore person raising beach person; or vice versa
The BEACH... ahhh, the beach....the beach is open as soon as the sun is out.... You do not need to pay to get onto the beach. The most you bring is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but most of the time you get McDonald's or Krystal's. A ghetto blaster if you have batteries. [And yes I called it a ghetto blaster.] The best sunburn tanning time is 10 to 2. A cool breeze might greet you if you arrive before then. As well as the sight of surfers. Real surfers.

There are no surfers down the shore. They are just teenagers with Guido hair-do's and something that resembles a board, strutting around and not surfing. Where are the men-boys with something to prove to themselves and Tim Deegan.

After the first few years I stopped expecting anything from the shore. I'd go to my husband's family's "beach" house and look for a nice breeze and some time to read. I went with the flow, ate the famous pancakes, and drank beer on the deck. But then we had kids. I was determined; they will NOT be shore people. They will be beach people, and it starts early.

On my last trip to the shore with my mother-in-law, she asks me the night before, "what timing is best for the children tomorrow?"

"Oh, first thing in the morning is best. We should leave no later than 9 am. Even earlier if you can manage it."

"What do they need? Should I get some food ready?" she asks innocently, not knowing that my moment is coming.

"Nah...I have their usual snacks in my bag, and we can stop if we stay past lunch."

The morning arrives. I lead the charge. We are parked less than a block away by 9:15 am, and we spring on the scene with two bags and two chairs (for the non-beach people) (aka my husband and my mother-in-law.) The kids each have a pail and shovel, a towel, a few snacks, sunblock, and maybe at this time we were still addicted to our milk bottles, so we had them too, with ice cubes in each. No cooler required. I throw a blanket on the sand and we survey the scene. No one in sight. Deep breath in; ahhh.

See? I can do the shore up like the beach. 

I can still be a Florida girl at the Jersey Shore, even with kids in tow. 

I look over at my husband, who has just settled into his chair and is looking at the water.

"See, baby? A beach day with your kiddies. Isn't it so nice?" I say to him, triumphant in my accomplishment.

He takes in a deep breath. See how easy I made this for him.

"Yeah. Can we be done now? I hate the shore."

Saturday, August 25, 2012


I'm not going to use the real name, but I came across a blog through a friend's pin on Pinterest and as is the point of all these social networking sites, I started meandering. The blog's title intrigued me because it was named something to the effect of "the art of getting pregnant and other battles..." so I'm thinking, clearly this is a woman who struggled with infertility like myself, and has come to the other side with a positive outlook, also like myself. Everyone loves a happy ending, right?

I quickly look for the "about us" section of the blog and read the bio. No mention of struggle...
She points in her bio to her "TTC" section for tips and story. Aha. Hear we go. She's got the lingo down, what other acronyms define her Trying To Conceive journey?

No. She was so neurotic that she underwent fertility testing for herself and her husband before they actually started trying, and was pleasantly surprised to announce they were mega-fertile and thus conceived on their first try! She made sure to post the healthy parameters that we, as the readers, must be curious to know, and how far above those limits she and her husband surpassed in their ultra-fertile-ness.

I was soooo close to posting her or emailing her that the name of her blog alone, was offensive to me. I don't know how she can be a member of an online community about babies and mommies and not understand that the point of her blog is nowhere near the intersection of battle and pregnancy. But that is not the point of our online world. Everyone has their struggles, and they are all relative. I'm not one to engage in mommy wars, as I've mentioned before. I was in NYC on 9/11 and experienced the silent subway. Eerily no one spoke at all for weeks because your story, your words, were likely meaningless next to another's. I never assume I know more, or know more pain, than you.

I think the reason it pissed me off the most is because it got a rise out of me at all. Haven't I moved past all that? Aren't I a happy mommy now, lucky with my healthy family, feeling picture perfect with our cute little monkeys? Weren't we just talking about how amazing life is and how the fun is just beginning? Yessss... 

But something left me when I struggled with infertility, and I'll never get it back. My innocence. I was no longer the designer of my own life; I was no longer able to power through, force it, or charm that one thing into my life. No one could help me. To cap off that powerlessness, my twins were born at 29 weeks and spent two months in the NICU. I didn't know if I would ever get over the feeling that I had done something incredibly wrong and that maybe I was not supposed to have tried to have children this way.

Slowly over that first year of my babies' lives, I learned what an enormous gift I had been given. I was allowed to have what I always wanted, but I was not allowed to control it. 

Oh I can swim in the water, but not against the tide. 

And I'm sure that other bloggy mommy is learning that, too. So I don't need to tell her.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Slacker training plans

[Or...how NOT to do a Triathlon & Half-Marathon]
[Or...instead of Couch-to-5K...this is 5K to Sprint-Tri] 

Quick & Dirty Tri training
If you can answer yes to these questions:
  • Can you swim the breast stroke?
  • Have you run 2 to 3 miles before?
  • Do you have any kind of bike, or can you borrow one for a few weeks?  
  • Are you nuts, or have something to prove to a co-worker or spouse?
Congrats! You can do a tri!
[don't forget to fit a fat-ful Disney Cruise in the middle of your training]

Oh, one more question:
  • Do you hate waiting around for three months to do something you could cram preparation for in 5 weeks? My people.
Slacker Summer Sprint
Week Swim Bike Run Bike  Run
1 500 - 1000m spin 1 hour* 2 -3 miles* 5 - 10 miles 3 miles
2 500 - 1000m* 5 - 10 miles* 4 miles spin 1 hour 3 miles
3 500 - 1000m 5 - 10 miles* 4-5 miles 10 - 15 miles 3 miles*
4 500 - 1000m* spin 1 hour 4-5 miles 10 - 15 miles3 miles*
Race 500 m 5 - 10 miles 3 miles [rest for race] [rest for race]
*Make sure to do two workouts per week together; aka a "double"

 Slow & Painful Tri experience

Weekly workouts

Aw...newbie at Fins Wheels Feet, 2006
Depending on your ability and procrastination potential, I would give 4-12 weeks prep time in advance of a race. For my first triathlon, I had never run a mile straight, so I focused on that for like, 3 weeks as my New Year's Resolution (so, starting on Jan 2-ish), and my race wasn't until Mother's Day. I used the stationary bike for training [so wrong], because I didn't yet own a bike. Hubby bought me one in advance of my 30th birthday, so I had it for a total of 2 weeks before the race. I had never ridden a bike with gears before, so I got it backwards. You know how when you are learning to drive a stick shift and you are supposed to go down to a lower gear when you go up the hill to get more traction? Yeah, well, kinda like that kind of logic may have been dancing around in my head and mixing me up. What can I say, I'm a winner. So I basically swam for three months in preparation, and for this race that portion lasted precisely 5. Minutes.

  • per week at least: 1 swim, 2 bikes, 2 runs; combining at least 2 of these as 1 double
Off days
I lift weights. One is 35 pounds and the other is 29. They move and wriggle so that gives me that "shock your body" effect. Seriously, just try to keep your body loose & hydrated.

  • call your local twin mommy for some off-hours activity
Double workouts
A big part of tri-training is getting used to doing two and three disciplines at once. The first time I did a "Brick" [bike + run], I realized they so-named it because that's how your legs feel afterwards. But NOW, you know I love a good double workout! I actually would love to swim after every workout if I had the time. But I love to swim. You might have something else that you love to do. Maybe you want to do a quick run before you do anything else to warm yourself up. The slacker in me lets you do any discipline in any order. Although you are learning to swim, then bike, then run, my experience is that if you are going to enjoy your workout, you are actually motivated to do that workout, so do what you feel like doing. There is definitely a shock to the body after you race out of the water and try to get to your bike, and subsequently wobble off the bike and begin to run, but we are not winning any races this year, are we? We just need to make sure we know how to do each discipline, and hopefully, how to do each discipline efficiently.

  • You gotta try a double, so if your schedule is tight, try doubling up as much as possible 

And while we are on the subject of swimming...
IronGirl Columbia, MD, August 2007. That's me in the green cap.

I honestly believe anyone can get through a Sprint or Olympic distance race by doing the breast-stroke. I think that swimming, and access to a pool on a regular basis, is one of the biggest barriers to entering triathlon. As my coach says, you are never going to "win it" on the swim. In fact, I am a pretty swell swimmer and after I pass people, I say to myself, don't worry, y'all can pass me on the bike...or the run...but go ahead and let me pass you now, cuz I'm good at this and it gets me through when you pass me later. Again, the key component is to be efficient enough in your swimming so that you have plenty of energy to complete the rest of the race. And if this is accomplished by keeping your head out of the water to see what's going on around you and where you are headed, then go ahead and swim the breast stroke. 
  • I try to swim the distance of the race once a week, erring on the long side.
Oh yeah, here's something new: transitions!
Here's where my musical theater training gives me a leg up. I once did a show where I had to bound up twenty rows of seats at an incline, enter a small curtained hideaway in the middle of said audience, change out of a chef's hat, double breasted dress and heels into a cowboy hat, bodysuit, riding pants and knee-high boots and bound back down that twenty rows at an incline and back onstage in oh, say, 12 measures of music. [Also while singing backup harmonies.] But I digress. Coming out of the water, toweling off, and putting on bike shoes, helmet, gloves? Let's go for 30 seconds. Nah, go ahead and put socks on too. That'll add a minute. Forget towel-ing off. Towel-ing off is for sissies. Actually, it's for skinny bitches who are going to get cold on the bike. But I am Athena. I will not get cold. I will cram my wet feet into socks and jump on the bike and stick my Gu in between my two sports bras. That'll work... Ah, who cares...unlike in your silly one-discipline races, on a triathlon race results page, they break down your time in each discipline, and each transition! So if you are hacking up a lung and need to drink a whole Gatorade before continuing and it takes you 5 minutes to get onto the bike portion of your racing, you can kind of compartmentalize it to yourself and friends and just brag about the rest of your race. Hey. You finished. You may not have finished without that 5 minute Gatorade.
  • Focus on transitions after you race a few times.

Gearing up
So I have tried to purchase only one new piece of 'equipment' per year of racing. This has motivated me to keep trying for better results [so as to justify new purchase], as well as to learn from experience and fellow racers, what is really worth buying.  By no means is this list instructional! Just my own stupid logic:
Year 1: bike. Hybrid, because we weren't sure if I was going to do this again.
Year 2: bike gloves, bike pouch, bike shorts. Clearly need to improve biking.
Year 3: 'for real' athletic and ugly swimsuit. no more jiggle in the pool.
Year 4: tri suit. no more soggy pants on the bike.
Year 5: road bike of my very own + bike shoes. Bonafide spinner now.
Year 6: bike computer. Well, purchased for me. HUGE improvement. Also tried to buy a headband, but am still searching for the perfect one for my tiny skull.
Thinking ahead to Year 7: looking at wetsuit prices. Woosh. Nevermind.

Shiny new bikes. Me: Trek (Lexa). Hubby: Gravity.

Clearly the bulk of equipment purchases will be on the bike portion of your race. You can go nuts. People spend twice as much as what I spent on my whole bike, on the WHEELS! And I think this makes them like, twice as fast. Or maybe they are training more than me. Either way, I'm happy with my bike time : purchase price ratio.

  •  Equipment rentals can be your friend while you're learning if you like this or not

Oh, so then you go running at the end of it
My favorite saying before a race that I've half-trained for is, "I can always walk the run..." I'm not alone in this! I've heard runners say this, too, so that makes me feel extra justified. In the last two years I've tried to experiment a little with nutrition, and not necessarily in my daily life, but pre- , during, and post- training exercises, so that I can discover what will get me to the end without dragging. I'm also still learning how hard to push myself so that I can 'leave it on the field', but I'm still struggling with all of the above. I just mention all of this so you can be aware, it's definitely a component of the tri life.

  • Discover your strengths in-season and focus on your weaknesses in the off-season
For instance, I'm running my first half-marathon in a few weeks. I'm used to racing for 2 - 3 hours, but I've never run more than a 10k, and thatwas at the end of an Olympic distance tri. Should be interesting. I found a training plan at Shape magazine and have modified it thusly:

Philly Rock n Roll Half in 5 weeks
Week of Short Run Cross - Train Short Run Cross - Train  Long Run
Aug 12 [tri race this week] [tri race this week] 3 miles [tri race this week] 7 miles
Aug 19 3 - 4 miles swim 500m 5 miles spin class? 8 - 9
Aug 26 3 - 4 miles still deciding 4-5 miles short bike (8 miles) 10 miles
Sept 2 3 - 4 miles swim 500m 4-5 miles does shopping count?10 -12 miles
Sept 9 3 - 4 miles swim 500m 3 miles [not this week] RACE

Too ambitious as usual, but I'm enjoying one discipline for a few weeks. I've been saying I was going to focus on running in the Fall for years, so might as well be this year. At least I don't have to run in a bathing suit in front of 1000 people! Piece of cake.

And you? What do you have to add to my advice for the newbies? Keep in mind we were all attracted to the word "Slacker."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Boys suck and other gender-specific truths

Don't hate me because I'm gender specific. You try having boy/girl twins and tell me boys don't like trucks and girls don't like princesses. I'm all for exposing them to a variety of activities. If the boy wants to do dance he can do dance [in fact I did let him step in for the girl one time and he loved it]. If she wants karate instead of gymnastics, so be it. There is a mind-body connection that I would like to instill in them, and there are many ways to accomplish that.

But this week, for the first time, the kids are going to separate camps. While the girl goes to "Enchanted Princess" [ballet] camp, the boy is headed to sports camp, which in response, he thinks is 'superhero camp', which is to my point. Dress up is an interesting microcosm of what we are socialized to think; boys can play dress-up, but their costumes are super heroes and military types with big muscles. I know this, because this is what Costco teaches me. Everyone's allowed to be a doctor. But would you ever put a nurse costume on your son? Like I said, don't blame me; from an early age the girl preferred the pink bottle and pink dresses. I actually spent the first year of her life purchasing every baby outfit for girls that was NOT pink (a very small selection I might add), because I hate pink. But we all learn to change.

My boy, on the outside looking in, on my girl at Princess camp
I got flack from my forward-thinking brother when, at the very beginning, we dressed the babies up in respective blue, and pink outfits. You try walking around with two babies and see how many times you get sick of answering "two boys?" "two girls?" "natural/unnatural?" Ok well no one asked that last question specifically in that way, but we did have two onesies made up that said, "Product of Science" and "By-product of Science", but my mother-in-law thought it was awful, so we never actually braved the outdoors with them on.

And of course, stereotypes in gender roles go well beyond just color and activities, but what is so wrong with it all? After spending mountains of money (ok, mountains of my parents' money) on a Masters-level education and carving out a couple of swell careers for myself, I ended up becoming Donna Reed anyway. I even started wearing an apron on a regular basis. [And I kinda like it.] So not to dredge up the mommy wars [which are only media-manufactured to keep the women divided anyways, ROAR], but...most of the time, women = pink.

And now that the kiddies are able to have full conversations, gender differences are a major topic.
"Where is Daddy going?" They ask.
"Daddy's going to work," I say. I used to say "the office" so that they would know, mommy still works. But then we started talking about the difference between work and play, and it didn't add up.
"Oh. Daddies go to work," they surmise. Astute observation, geniuses. So a thought pops in my mind.
 "Yes, Daddies often go to work. Where do mommies go?" I say, cringing at the possible responses, grateful they are not ornery teenagers yet...
 "Mommies go to the gym." 

Well that was better than I thought.

I guess I'll teach them about gender roles later...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Dutch Wonderland in a nutshell

Quick & Dirty take
  • Such a manageable size, with a variety of rides for a variety of heights/ages
  • Food sucked, with movie theater prices
  • skipped the water area altogether, didn't miss it
  • carnival games will suck you in
  • don't forget the shows!
  • great *first* roller coaster ride!! [sniff]

Slow & Painful assessment
If you know me, you know I'm not shy when it comes to a challenge. I get OUT with the twins. I'm not scared. So after the Disney Cruise, and we *sigh* missed the opportunity to hit Magic Kingdom with a multiple-family-member-support-system,  you know I wanted to audition the twins' stamina at amusement parks. But an amusement park by myself with two 3-year-olds? Need help on the first go-around. So I recruited my mother-in-law, who was more than happy to oblige, 'cause she just loves waking up at 7:30 am for a roller coaster. No really. She does.

Weekdays are nice...
We were thrilled! We were exhausted, but it was totally worth it. It was about an hour and fifteen minute drive from the Main Line, quick & easy (and free) parking, and we didn't even have to wait on the 5 minute line for tix because I got them at AAA ahead of time (this seemed to save about $6/ticket.) Granted this was at open (10 am) on a Friday, and the crowds did pick up towards "twilight entrance"/"I-just-drove-from-NY-for-a-weekend-in-Lancaster-with-my-family-but-couldn't-get-out-of-the-house-until-10-this-morning"- time.
Left the house at 8:50, on our first ride by 10:20!

If your kids are early birds, get there at open! Young ones? maybe skip the bathing suits!
Looking back, I think we had the place pretty much to ourselves before noon. A lovely little breeze accompanied us as we hit at least 6 rides and the bathrooms in under an hour. It also occurred to me later that many families may have been starting with the water park area and spending the second half of the day on the rides with us. We had pre-decided to avoid the water play area altogether based on a recommendation from a fellow mom-of-multiples. On my way out of the park I was chatting with a family (with one stroller child + one child in carrier) who were declaring, "six hours was enough!" I agreed, and, noticing their bathing suits said, "and we didn't even do the water area!" They said, "wished we hadn't--lasted twenty minutes and lost a child three times."

Don't go for the food.
I was racing to get to the main dining 'hall' by 12 to avoid the 'rush' because a) mama woke up at 6 and only had two pieces of cinnamon raisin toast, so that's not gonna cut it and b) looking on the map I assumed this was the most popular of food place choices, since it was definitely the biggest. It was a sort of "food court", and although salads did exist at the end of the line, it was pretty fatty. Not that I don't LOVE a good excuse to indulge, but it really just didn't taste good either. Ok, ok, it's a kiddie park--but I've been spoiled lately at the Philly Zoo and Please Touch Museum, where I can get a pulled pork sandwich, hummus, fresh mozzarella artisan sandwich, roasted veggie panini, fresh veggie brick-oven pizza...you get the idea.
Baby girl dancing in the aisles at the show

You know I love a show
We had just come off a fantastic experience seeing "Disney Spectacular" at Upper Darby Summer Stage this week and so the kids are really getting to understand theater and how they can participate. The show we caught in a tent next to the skyride consisted of two of 'my people' singing, dancing, telling a story about a trip around the world and connecting with the children through movement and play. The grand finale involved a little snow machine set up on the ceiling of the tent and all of the kids rushing the stage. Super cute. We also caught the dive tank show about a frog prince and it was very refreshing. ha-ha-ha.

Just a couple of wigglers, a maze, and a tunnel = baby bumper cars
A couple extra bucks here... and there... and here again...
If, like me, this is your kids' indoctrination to amusement parks, expect the traditional favorite rides (merry-go-round, train, tilt-a-whirl, bumper cars), as well as non-mechanized fun like a huge/tall slide, skyride, "wiggler" maze??. But also remember that parks like to entertain/get your money in other ways, so you'll spend $2 a pop on carnival games for prizes and all your quarters on remote-controlled boats & cars.

First roller coaster ride EVAH!
Along with that indoctrination, there was a fantastic roller coaster ride that was just enough fun and thrill to excite the 3-year-olds, mommies, and retirees! Not one of those old shaky wooden coasters. No loops, but a little tilting and dipping and real quick taste of what fun there is to have in this world! I wish I could have taken a pic of my son's face. There is a coaster even a little more adventurous for the next height category (there is a color-coded system, very helpful), so they are covering a lot of demographics.

Sweet finish
What? No homemade ice cream in Lancaster County? If I had been a little more savvy and prepared I'm sure there was somewhere within a 5 mile radius that would have fit the bill, but we just barely motivated the kids to hit the exit with the promise of ice cream on the way out, and there is a candy store/stand with soft serve nearby. Again, I'm spoiled!


Friday, August 17, 2012

quick & dirty

Ever feel stuck in the vacuum of life, rolling around the same floors, sucking in everyone else's dirt?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Where are my minions

I don't know why you are reading my blog, but I'm very excited that you are, because I have a secret to tell you: no one listens to me. Well actually that's not a secret at all. Sorry to disappoint you. No, the real secret is that people used to listen to me. Like, intently. Like I was smart.

I used to be kind of a big deal.

Like I would fight for something and I would win. Well specifically I would fight for students on the admission table and I would win. People respected my opinion and heeded it! Not all the time, but they knew I had something to contribute to the matter and they should listen to me, because if they didn't, it was going to come back and haunt them, most likely in the form of me saying, "do you remember last year when I mentioned this? 'Cause I do..."

I had millions of people working for me. Ok, not millions, but many. And I told them what to do and they listened. And it was good.

Now NO ONE listens to me. Especially the under 5 set. I talk and yell and even wave my arms to get their attention, but they play me like a fool. I set rules, and they are broken immediately. I ask questions, and I get blank stares. Until I want a cup of coffee or to go to the bathroom, then we would like to chat.

It's time to get tough, mommies! Would you let an employee get away with this sh**??
The boss has been on my back for like, three years now
There must be a way to automate the process of getting them dressed & fed, blow on their hot food, get their bike helmets on, inspire their spirits. Can't we do this online?  Call tech support. I simply must have this done by Tuesday.

It takes a lot of effort to be a good manager. I've been teaching my husband that as you move up the ranks, you must spend just as much time managing as 'doing' your job. In fact, being a manager is your job, and if you do it really well, that's all you need to do. He doesn't listen to that either.

And this brings me to my now. I'm starting to realize that I've slacked off as a manager. I was so busy supporting their newborn necks and preparing their formula bottles that I lost sight that I was in control. I often found myself saying "I'm in charge!", but again, no one listened, least of all me, so that didn't work.

A little attitude change is all I need. I've started to make them realize that getting dressed is their job, and I'm just there to support them in difficult situations, such as a zipper. It's as if to say, "aren't I such a good mommy, kneeling here in front of you while you figure out that the penis pocket on your underwear goes near your penis and not your a$$? I don't have to be here, but I'm just giving you some support while you learn the proper way to do your job."

I think it's going to help.

Hold on. Bosses calling...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Motherhood: the Musical. No really.

I'm waiting to see if it was just a fluke or coincidence that at the very same moment that I needed something to reactivate my brain out of mommy madness there was an audition in Philly at Society Hill Playhouse for Motherhood : the Musical.
[BARB: 30-45. Stay-at-home mother of five. She has a dry, sarcastic sense of humor. She doesn't own anything that isn't machine-washable and would use her sleeve to wipe her child's nose without hesitation. Her husband's name is Chris and her kids are Daniel, Steven, Jessica, Lisa, and Timmy. (Vocal Range: Low F, G# (lower) Belt, C (lower) Strong Mix)]
Perfect, right? Well, no, I don't have five kids, but seriously, I'm thinking if I don't find a babysitter for the audition I can just strap one in the Ergo and push the other in an umbrella stroller as I walk in the room. *BAM*. It'll be the first time I am the benefit of type-casting.

my fellow actresses with me at Society Hill Playhouse
Long story short, I blew their minds, got a callback, and the offer of 'Understudy' two weeks later. I was so excited--I was finally getting in on the Philly theater scene. I'm thinking this'll be great; people will get to know me and see how reliable I am and how big a range I have and keep me in mind for every single production they put up...

Get the contract: Production company is in Florida. Omph. Ok. Well, still majorly cool, people around the city will see me and I'll get to know the town and other actors, etc...it's still my in. 

Moving forward....what an amazing YEAR it was. Yes, that's right from August to July this wonderful company kept a mommy working in her favorite industry. Don't you wish I had started the blog before I got that gig? [Yes, Ashley, it would have been much more exciting.] But alas, I didn't have time to breathe during that run and the surrounding drama, especially in the beginning. Now I'm bored. Waiting by the phone & computer...for...another...*sigh*...gig...

my people
The real drama kinda starts now. Was it a fluke, me re-entering the workforce in such a way, in a way that is reminiscent of my 20s, pre-marriage days even, not to mention pre-mommy days, that both reminded me I was a real person, and not only that, but that I was a singer/actress, too? Being able to hang with show people - "my people" - who understand why you buy a new shirt and have it on before you reach the next block...all adding up to me functioning as a 'fuller' mom. Everyone asks if I'm going to do another 'show around town'....if only it were as easy as me deciding it so.

I've done the season auditions for all the big name theaters in a 30 mile or so radius, the Theatre Alliance audition for those theaters I may have missed, and submitted my headshot & resume to other listings & casting directors. This is like the worst part of my 20s all over again. The good news is, this time I already have a full-time gig. *Mommy*. But I feel sooo limited in what I can audition for, and once again, what type I may be able to play.

December run....that's quarter-end time. No good...
Lancaster...that's at least an hour away...how much do they pay? Wouldn't cover the babysitter...
Two weeks in NYC...could my mom handle the kids in an apartment...would I get any sleep...  
  • Equity
  • Experience
  • Exposure
In my early career I had a rule of the "3 E's" : Equity (actor's union membership access), Experience, Exposure. If a gig had 2 of the 3 requirements, it was worth any amount of money they were going to pay. If a job was in NYC, it automatically had the last 2 locked. I never minded making my 'real' money in my day jobs as long as I was furthering my career in the arts in the right way. And looking back on it now, I really did make the best choices I could, and I'm happy with what I was able to accomplish before 9/11 and the city got the best of me...
  • Marriage
  • Money
  • Mommy time
At this point in my life.......I guess it would be the "3 M's": Marriage, meaning, can I maintain the thing that keeps my life working while doing something I love; Money, that is, can I actually pay the babysitter and make it at least a zero sum loss for my time away from the fam; and Mommy time being, can I still fulfill the needs of my children for me, and my need for them. I honestly re-started this venture in my life because I felt a part-time gig in the BIZ was a perfect way to still be a stay-at-home-mom during the day and fabuloso drama queen at night. Win-win. And last year, it was!

I'll keep auditioning & wait around for another cherry gig. In the meantime, I'll take you with me.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Post-race toda
I don't know what I did in my 20's, but I sure had a lot of goals in mind for my 30's. What started out as just something I wanted to try 'before my 30th birthday', has turned into quite a habit/hobby. I did manage to complete a triathlon about two weeks before that birthday, and I pretty much sucked like, "the guy with one leg and the 13-year-old girl are both smoking me", but I was just happy to complete one. Since becoming a mom, it has become a life-saver! I long for the days when I had nothing else to do but train in my off-hours pre-kids, but hey, at least I still do it! I may even have it on my bucket list to do an Ironman distance someday, but I digress...

Today marked my third time attempting to become a "Steelman." Even if I move on to other races, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for my first ever Olympic distance race. Incidentally it was my fourth run on the course, as I did a smaller race there known as the "DiamondGirl", which is also near and dear to me as it was my first race post-babies. To keep up my average of a triathlon every year (I did two in one year to make up for my pregnancy year), I just had to bang out the Sprint distance today. As my coach/hubby says:
It doesn't have to be pretty.
Last year finishing Olympic distance with the Hubs/Coach
Let's take this opportunity to over-analyze and see if I've made any other progress other than
a) completing 6 races and b) completing longer distance races.

Quick & Dirty analysis
  • WOW! Yes, bike time is faster, especially with improved equipment; best pace yet!
  • Swim time doesn't change much with distance & training (ridiculously true this year)
  • I knew I fell apart on the run, and I can always run faster than I think I can; worst pace EVER!!!
  • Steady improvement on transition times [i.e., drink on the bike idiot] 
  • Still a slow poke overall, but I keep getting better with age! So you know I'll be winning the Ironman when I'm 70.
Slow & Painful over-analysis 
My inspiration as I approached transition area this morning

Funny story: I actually placed third in my 'group' in this race last year, my group being what I affectionately call 'my fellow fatties', but what is officially known as 'Athena''s, and refers to women who weigh at least 150 lbs. Um, now if you are saying to yourself "well that's not fat!" then come and join me. It's not my fault my boobs weigh 25 lbs each. I really should get credit for carrying around all that extra weight!

The last 6 races; most recent at the top 
Swim Time
Swim Distance

Swim Pace
18:40 .5 miles 37:20 mph
34:43 1.5 k 38:34
35:22 .9 miles 39:18
10:52 .25 miles 43:28
23:25 .62 miles 37:46
5:37 .25K 36:15

I can fit in 2-3 swim workouts a week, or a monthly 'check-in' workout on the swim, and my pace ends up pretty consistent. Hmph. Not very motivating.

The last 6 races; most recent at the top 
Bike Time
Bike Distance

Bike Pace
50:49 12.4 miles 17.6 mph
1:39:54 26.9 miles 16.2
1:32:15 24.6 miles 16
44:29 10 miles 13.5
1:14:06 17 miles 14.2
54:52 20K 13.6

After the first three races I switched from a hybrid to a road bike. Huge. [13.5 to 16] Last year I bought my own road bike which, while it did not produce results in the mileage category, is the most comfortable ride ever and totally worth every penny. Plus, it's super cute and cut for women's bodies.
Major kudos; thank you TREK.
The biggest, major-est change EVER is so simple but I just never got it together to set up until my Dad bought me one: a computer!! I finally could see how slow my pace was getting on the uphills and how much I could rock the downhills. One of the many advantages to being an Athena. It helped me kick my own ass in gear today and I'm thinking it will only do more of same.

The last 6 races; most recent at the top 
Run Time
Run Distance

Run Pace
34:39 3.1 miles 11:11 mile
1:05:57 6.2 miles 10:39
1:06:46 6.2 miles 10:47
19:30 2.0 miles 9:45
33:38 3.4 miles 9:54
34:33 3.2 miles 11:09  

It's sooooooo dissappointing. I have actually run a 7:30 mile a few times and 8:30 mile on the treadmill often. I think my focus on increasing my pace has actually hurt my endurance on the run. I always promise myself to continue running after tri season and focus on it during the Fall when there are a lot of races, so maybe this year I finally will focus on one discipline for a little while and attempt the Philly Rock N Roll Half. Everyone raves about it, and I actually have plenty of mommy friends (including twin mommies) doing it!

Ergh. Why/How do I get myself into these things???

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Milk Wars

You say you want a Revolution....

There is a revolution going on in my household right now. The kids are staging a milk strike because I made them box up all their sippy cups and mail them to the 'babies' (i.e., Daddy takes them to his office until I second guess myself and break and beg him to bring them back and he refuses and a revolution turns into World War 3 with multiple fronts and factions involved including grandparents, neighbors, and my fellow mommies in the trenches.)

Cheers! One last Friday night with the soft sippys
Let me start by saying they boxed them up willingly! We were still in the afterglow of our trip and they enjoyed one last day with their precious [digusting, drooly, chewed up] sippys and finished off the day with throwing them in the box and placing it on the front porch for the mailman to pick up. And if you know my kids, you would also know that since the age of 13 months they love their milk and have always had one of these sippys either in their mouths or at the ready.

And here we are....six days without one drop of milk! Really? That's it? Now you don't like milk at all ??? I went from buying more than four gallons of milk per week to barely using a half gallon for new-sippy-trials which has been mostly tossed after each failed attempt?? Not even your new light-up pirate cup from Mickey? It LIGHTS UP, DUDE!

They have always been able to drink anything else out of any other type of drinking apparatus. Maybe I did this wrong. Now I'm worried about calcium deficiencies...should have let them keep their sippys for the morning milk and then they would have had their 8 oz for the day and I could have made them drink any additional milk out of a real cup and that would have motivated them properly to make the change, while maintaining their bone density-enhancing milk habit. Ugh!

But those sippys. Disgusting. I couldn't take it anymore! Taking them everywhere, taking them apart on a daily basis to clean in and out of all the nooks and crannys, finding them under the bed and on the side of the couch with cottage cheese-like substance inside...UGIISCHK! I'm sick of them. I was ready. The kids are over 3 1/2 years old...it's time. Hubby and I absolutely hated leaving dinner on the cruise ship and having to run up to the room to get them because one or both was having a fit about drinking it out of a straw. No. We are big kids now. We are potty trained, we are headed to preschool in a few weeks, and there's no reason.

Have tried: 
informing them that 'this is how Mickey does it'
multiple different non-soft sippy cups
withholding TV, fave foods, fave toys & activities until they drink
shopping with them to pick out new non-soft sippys
shopping with them to pick out reward toys after they drink out of said new non-soft sippys
reinforcing other milk products: yogurt, cheese [this is actually working on the girl]

NO GO. [mostly with the boy]

Still yet to try:
adding chocolate syrup to the milk
going back to the sippys
shoving milk up their arses
hiring a Mickey Mouse character to come to the house and chastise them

Surprising side benefits:
saving the boy's teeth from the bad habit of milk bottle before bed [slacker mom]
waking up with dry pull-ups
not passing out on the couch with afternoon quiet time [aka "milk and movie" time]
eating more food & drinking more water

Maybe this is the solution to all of my other problems.... well, waking up in the middle of the night wet....I didn't really care so much about the other stuff. Teeth, well they are going to rot anyways and food, they eat enough; passing out...sometimes mommy does that too...

So if I can manage not to get in my own way, I could go back to my tried-and-true parenting method of "wait and see"...and maybe they will magically forget some day that they don't drink milk out of anything other than soft sippys and just.start.drinking it again!

Or maybe I will just start stashing spinach in their pancakes.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A mature family

The onboard spa manicure is chipping away from doing dishes again, the six loads of laundry are washed and put away, the souvenirs are stashed in the kids' bins, and the photos are up on shutterfly....vacay's over.

Having twins I didn't really get a chance to stop and think about family planning and spacing children/births, etc....we always planned on having two beautiful children and we got. two. beautiful. children.

You are so in the trenches in those first two years that you don't even really think about the future, or the past, or even the present! You just pay for your embryo storage and promise yourself to think about it later and oh yeah, maybe discuss it with your partner.

But something transformed me in this most recent family trip together...I looked around at the other happy families and my own, and realized how young we are comparatively, and that there was more fun to be had. I always thought most mommies were right to inform me to 'enjoy it now', just like I find myself saying to moms of little babies when I get the chance. It seems silly to be a mom of three-year-olds and be telling a new mom to 'enjoy this precious time.' But that is how I feel--and how I always felt--that the baby time was going by too fast and I needed a pause button. Desperately.

I would often look around at my fellow mommies in the trenches and think, well...I'm in the mommy business now, so, I should want a promotion, right? A promotion would include more responsibility, a renewal on my contract....so...have another baby, right? A baby. A beautiful baby sister or brother for my twins. I never had a sister--wouldn't my daughter want one? Or maybe two boys would be a lot of fun! I'm getting pretty good at this mommy thing and I should definitely take my work to the next level. As soon as you start thinking this way, everyone around you is automatically in this position. You have twins, you see twins. You think about having a third baby, you see third children all over the place.

But this trip...this almost perfect family bonding time...surrounded by families...of all different ages and sizes...some with many more children than our own...gave me so much to look forward to. I started thinking about how much I enjoy my adult time with my parents, and how I want to instill that feeling in my children. Hubby can do the financial planning that allows us to provide for them over the course of their childhood; I started thinking about our long-term *emotional* planning. And it felt really, really good to think that way.

Happiness where you are. Happiness with what you have.

Isn't that what a vacation is supposed to give you?

[Must.remember.to re-read this post in a few months on their fourth birthday!]

Monday, August 6, 2012

Disney Cruise: best of the day

Quick & Dirty on why Cruisin' with Mickey made me happy
  • Whatever you or your loved ones are doing, it's all in the same building
  • Everyone else has kids (aka whining, chatty, ticking time bombs) too
  • Un.Plugged. No Wifi, no iPads, nada.
  • A steady drip of Mickey magic, not overload like at the parks, and none at all if you need a break.
  • Park your cash at the dock.
Slow & Painful Daily Breakdown
The slowest & most painful way I can describe to you how fantasmaGORic my first Disney cruise (and incidentally, my first cruise altogether) was, I think it best to describe the highlight of each day's events and see how divergent I get off of that.

day 1 : the club
My daughter's indoctrination. My son was a little more shy.
I can honestly say that pretty much every day on the cruise was spotted with wonderful moments interacting with the "oceaneer's club" and "lab", which constitute the kids' camp onboard the ship. It is not childcare; it is their entertainment. Never have I seen the kids give up their fave things (i.e., milk and the toy of the day) with such gleeful compliance. Let me say that on this first day, a day in which someone got me to agree to pay $40 for a case of Evian to be delivered to our 246 square foot cabin and I unknowingly ate a hot dog for lunch when a buffet was just steps away, I did not get it. I was a deer in headlights, and so were my kids. We stumbled through our first day, trying the pool and food and dinner as a family, and then decided to try the 'club' while hubby and I went to the opening show. AT 8 PM. This is usually bedtime. I was skeptical. Indeed, on a day as exciting as the first, we picked up the kids an hour or so later and they were zombies. A was upset she couldn't figure out  a computer that wasn't controlled by a touch-screen, and C was playing hide-n-seek by himself. But within 24 hours we all discovered the glory of these two magnificent play spaces and their guides, and like I said, not a day of the trip went by when we didn't enjoy them. So our introduction to this concept-this component of our trip-is the highlight of day 1.

day 2 : a show!
Opening night's show was more of an introduction to some of the variety of entertainers on the ship, including a cabaret act and a puppeteer. Not for me. But the singers and the dancers---welllll-- let me tell you! I, at one point in my career, was fully aware that the Disney cruise line contract was THE most coveted of all cruise line contracts for musical theater performers like myself--so I was more than a little curious to see the level of performance and production. It was fantastic. I highly recommend. If you get a little misty-eyed at a Disney or Hallmark commercial you are the target audience and will be blown away like myself; but even a cynical talk-radio-junkie like my hubby found it very impressive. The level is very high. My only problem was: I couldn't get my daughter to join me until the fourth show, and thus her exposure was less than the constant barrage I was hoping for. My son, however, joined me on this day 2 show and could not stop chatting and marveling at everything that was going on. I forgot to ask my SON if he wanted to join me. And when he did, and we had a little date just the two of us, I swooned. 

day 3: drink of the day
The Micky Pool, all to ourselves.
My husband downloaded no less than three movies, three books, and four kids' books on his iPad before we left for the cruise, in anticipation of the encompassing boredom that must accompany days at sea. WRONG. So much to do. Seriously. Even with Disney, who is supposed to be all about the kids. [I know, I sound like a commercial.] But seriously, I never got my requisite vacation "pina colada by the pool" this trip, and I didn't miss it! Partly because I was actually excited to see what the 'drink of the day' was, and what it tasted like! Yum. It made lounging poolside at the "Mickey Pool" (fun central for the younger tykes) always a treat. It was a cute touch that reminded us, along with all the adult-centered touches and events, this cruise is for us to have fun, too.

day 4: scuba

Our first port was Nassau, Bahamas. Oh yeah- we are going to the Bahamas. Totally forgot. Like I said, hubby and I were so focused on the excursions pre-trip that we booked a scuba day on the only chance we had. In fact, my Dad had to pull some strings to book it. This is probably because scuba is not the most inviting excursion when you are across the bay from the gorgeous Atlantis resort, but I digress. By the time we got to Nassau we were finally getting into the groove of cruisin' and could have skipped it, but we sheepishly headed off to the other side of the island, leaving the kids to visit Atlantis with my brave parents. In a word: liberating. We had two fantastic dives, an easy boat ride, and a nice adult getaway. The little adrenalin rush I got from a shark following me around my first wreck dive didn't hurt. It was almost better than our dive trips pre-kids, because we knew we had the ship and all its pampering to go back to. We spent the day chatting with a fellow Disney passenger who had six kids and had cruised with Mickey 12. TIMES. Needless to say, he solidified our feelings that this was the best trip ever. 
day 5: carib without the carib

Disney's got its own Island. 'Nuff said.

day 6: medic
My son has never gone on vacation without getting sick. Alas, even with the magic of Disney, he managed to maintain his record. We let him get a little too dehydrated on the previous two beach days and when he gets dehydrated, the stubborn side of his genetics (no comment) take over and he won't so much as touch a drink or even popsicle. Luckily Mickey is prepared for this scenario and although we a) missed the Magic Kingdom day and b) had to brace our child while he received IV fluids, it all seemed to go smoothly and not ruin our vacay. The little guy woke up the next day good as new. Top this off with my hubby promising to visit the Magic Kingdom sometime in the next year to make up for it, and I say, maybe there is some pixie dust around here...

day 7: dancing
Ahhhh, togetherness. We were traveling with my brother, his wife, and three children; the four of us; and my parents. If you can place all these people and their varying personalities on a ship and still get them to dance with each other on day *7*, you win. It's just the Disney way of doing things. On my son's 'sick' day I managed to watch the vacation club promo about twenty times and found myself nodding my head to the mantra: "everyone's idea of a vacation is different, and they can all be had here." A little populated cabaret duo singing a set of pop songs in front of a dance floor before dinner. By far, not a main event on the schedule. To my nephew, tops.

day 8: no impact arrival
Waking up to the sight of lower Manhattan creeping steadily towards you on your travel return day rather than flying with kids: priceless. We put our bags out at 10:30 PM the night before, slept, ate breakfast, left the boat, and got in our car and drove home. I guess there are many aspects of my trip that ring true for all cruises, but I gotta say, it sealed the deal for me! I was Googling prices and itineraries the whole drive home...

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