Monday, March 30, 2015

recent adventures

So this blog has moved to www.amysaysso.com if you're still looking for it here this is just a reminder that the updates aren't here anymore.

There's a fresh new post about my weekend adventures so head on over to read all about my craziness there.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Changes made ...

So this is the end of this little blogger-era.

I have moved the blog to it's own adorable little domain. You can now find it here: www.amysaysso.com

This morning I imported the blogger posts so everything that is here is now there. But there will be no further updates here - only there. Well maybe I'll cross link for a few days until I get bored of that.

Thanks for reading. I hop you'll follow me over there too.

Amy

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

making changes

So I've decided ... on a whim really ... that I want to change to wordpress for the blog.

This post is just actually in case something goes a little wonky in the process. It's possible ... it really is.

Earlier this year I went ahead and updated the domain which made me happy to see amysaysso.com up at the top but it was still blogger and I was not thrilled.

Blogger is fine ... but not great. Although pretty great for the price (free).

So if something looks funny it just means I'm up to my ears in figuring out the transfer. Wish me luck. I've done a wordpress blog before many many years ago. So I'm being a cheapskate and doing it myself. Actually that's not totally true I enjoy the challenge of figuring it out.


Friday, March 6, 2015

It's a rule ... if you blog you must stitchfix and then you must blog about your stitchfix

What is Stitch fix?

I'm sure you already know because you're reading a blog and all bloggers and blog readers know about stitch fix. But just in case. Stitch fix is a mail order personal shopper service.

I personally think it's pretty great. You sign up and every month (actually for me every other month) they send you 5 items and you try them on and if you like them you keep them and whatever you don't like you send back.

This is the first month where I'm keeping all 5 items.

When I opened the box I was pretty happy with the things and then my little fashionista (my 11-year old daughter) confirmed that they were all keepers.

My lovely daughter took this photo. Raccoon eyes are my new normal look. Black skinny jeans and green top that will be perfect for St. Paddy's day.
A cute blue and white printed dress that I happily wore to a tour of my daughters snazzy new middle-school. I also wore actual shoes and gave myself a ridiculous blister.

Cute little sleeveless top with a zipper in the back.

Me trying to keep a straight face while vamping for the selfie. This scarf is super cute. I would normally have sent it back because it rarely dips under 80F in Miami making scarves unnecessary but I'm taking a trip soon to a cool place and so hopefully this will help me keep my neck warm. I will say that I do feel sort of like I'm suffocating whenever I put it on so we'll see.

And there you have it. Fun stuff.

If you want to try stitch fix I recommend it. I am not a shopper and while I spend almost all my time in run apparel and shorts occasionally everyone wants a real outfit to wear to seem like a grownup. I find this is especially helpful when you have to go meet with a principal because your son's teacher is a moron and you want to be taken seriously.  No matter how serious I might on a certain topic I have learned that beurocrats write me off if I'm in spandex. They shouldn't but they do.

I digress. Here's a code to give me referral credit if you sign up.

https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3847084

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday: Improving the swim

I am trying something new today and I will start with the fact that I don't really know what I'm doing. So I'm following my standard rules and leaping in with both feet without doing any research or anything.

One of the blogs I follow has a "link up" So, I'm trying the link up. That's what I'm doing. Yup. Read on go ahead it won't hurt.

Tri Talk Tuesday triathlon blog linkup 

Ah the swim. The Swim is my nemesis in the triathlon. My training mates always find it odd when I say that because among my core group I'm considered a strong swimmer. But that to be honest is just because none of them are swimmers. Except my coach he grew up swimming and he knows that I'm not a swimmer.

The swim and specifically the swim start and turns are the things that make me nervous on race day. So what do I do about it?

Practice Practice Practice
I'm not a swimmer so I train with a masters program. The guy who leads us through our paces is a former all american swimmer and he's a nice guy. I know he's a nice guy because he doesn't point and laugh when he asks me to do backstroke and I nearly drown making it through the distance. Let's not even talk about breaststroke and to be perfectly honest I don't do fly. I don't know how and while I'm open to learning I haven't mastered it (understatement of the day).
 
My pool. Don't be intimidated by the word masters. It just means grown ups. So all masters programs will have all levels from awesomesauce to beginner.

So, 2-3 times a week I haul my non-swimmer butt to masters swim practice and I do whatever Coach D. tells me to. I ask questions if I don't understand and other than not swimming butterfly (I swim free for those) I do everything he says. I don't question it and sometimes I don't do it very well but I try my best. If and when I fall behind or miss an interval I just chill for a minute and catch the next one. I also take feedback from the other excellent swimmers around me.
Not really a graphic about swimming but it is a picture of a pool and I really like the message.

Sprint
Sprinting is the one thing that has made a huge improvement in my swimming. Specifically sprinting followed immediately by 100 easy - no break. That has taught me how to lower my heart rate while swimming which is super helpful in the case of anxiety or if I have to buckle down and swim fast to get out of a crowded situation and then keep swimming.
I'm getting wrinkly in my old age. But this is just after I swam a 100 in 1:23. Painfully slow by swimmer standards and yet my own personal best. 100 all out is just really really hard that last flip turn I'm just totally out of air and I'm a big fan of air to be honest.


Get in the water - the open water that is
I live in Miami and the ocean is open all year long. Swimming in the ocean in the open water is not like swimming in a pool. It's just not. So part of my routine is to swim in the open water whenever possible. That helps it feel easier and normal and keep me calm.

One of the things that it's good to practice in the open water is wearing your race clothes.
Swim the distance
For me I have to do this. It's a mental thing. I like to swim the distance before the race. You don't have to do this I know and most people don't do this before a race. But I like to because it gives me a lot more confidence on race day.   Swim anxiety sucks and so I'll do whatever it takes to avoid it.

On race day
On race day if I can look back and know that I did my workouts and that I can swim the distance I will be calm. I will start on the outside of the start wave because I hate the dishwasher.   But then I will keep my head down and swim. I don't look at my watch I don't worry about what's around me (other than staying on course) I just pick my rhythm and go until it's time to stop and then I'm sooooo happy.

So those are my tips.

What scares you in the triathlon swim? 

Monday, March 2, 2015

"Wonder" A book report by me for you

My children hate writing book reports. I guess that they probably get this bad habit from me since I've been working on this post for much much much too long.

"Wonder" is a fiction book written by R.J. Palacio for young readers.

I had heard about "Wonder" from the Children's Craniofacial Association website. I bought it for my daughter at her school's Scholastic book fair.  My daughter is 11-years old and in 5th grade.

The main character in "Wonder" is a 5th grade boy named August who was born with an obvious facial difference. The story is the tale of his first year in a main-stream private school in New York City.

My daughter read the book in 3-days. She was captivated by the story. I read it  after and she and I spoke about it every day for about a week. After reading the story she was very curious about some of the things in the story since there are no pictures. Specifically what might August have really looked like and does that ever really happen?

As a mom, I found these discussions very helpful in my continuing mission to teach my kids to "be kind." My mom instinct (like a spideys-sense but for moms) tells me that just seeing me be nice isn't lesson enough. I remember thinking to myself when I was a teen that there was no way my parents could understand my life and my issues and I fully expect that my children thing the same things. Also sometimes my kids also see me be grouchy. We're together a lot and I do actually get grouchy. So, I find myself looking for places where I can really drive home a few key points that I think are imperative to being a good adult. Be kind is one of those big important points.

It's a good book for a young reader. Similar to how a fairy tale gives young children a way to discuss their fears this book gives preteens a safe way to talk about accepting differences and also mean kids.

In speaking with my mom friends I've learned that many elementary and middle school teachers have also found this book to be really special and helpful. I have not heard anything from my own kids school so I need to push that there.

If you haven't read it and it's not in your school I encourage you to get it. It is a best-selling book so it is for sale everywhere but you can buy it directly from the CCA and they will make some money. Raising money for the CCA is my goal in leading up to Ironman Lake Placid (if you haven't already heard.)

It is fiction for young readers. So as an adult some things were a little unbelievable.  Mostly that there is a school administrator and staff that would be so enlightened as in this story. I must admit I have yet to run into a school administrator who is not a total nincompoop. But I did not share that with my daughter when we discussed it.

Like reading a fairy tale allows young children to face their fears reading and discussing this book gives young adults a chance to talk about some pretty serious issues that come up around middle school.

Little kids are blissfully unaware of the differences between each other. Introduce a toddler to another toddler in a wheelchair and they may not even notice and if they do notice they are just as likely to be envious of the other kid's chair with wheels as anything else. As an example when my daughter was 3 she had a summertime friend who was deaf and my daughter never even noticed. But around middle school kids become self-aware.  Some pre-teens crave being just like everyone else and being different becomes a curse worse than anything. As adults we all lived through it. As a gross generalization I will say almost all of us have scars from surviving it.

So reading this book with my daughter gave us the opportunity to discuss several pre-teen relevant what ifs. What do I do if I'm in a situation with a person near me with a visible facial difference? Would I be able to not be afraid to be that person's friend? How would I handle it if there was somebody who seemed nice but turned out to really be mean?


Again, it is a good book definitely worth reading. It was on my radar because I'm currently raising money for the CCA on the road to Ironman Lake Placid. But it's a great book for every child to read.

The photo of the book above is my copy which I'll keep to read with my son when he's a little older. I plan to buy 4 more copies for my kiddos teachers (they each have 2 teachers) to have and to read if they haven't already.

My request from you - my readers:
Have you read Wonder? If you have I ask you to tell somebody else about it. Spread the word. If you haven't I ask you to read it. Check it out from your library or buy yourself a copy. Extra credit: check your children's school library. Is it there? If not ask them to get a copy or donate a copy to the school library. 

Training update:
Training this week went on schedule. 10 hours of training including 3 swims and a long bike of 54 miles. There are 145 days until Ironman Lake Placid. WOOT-WOOT!






Monday, February 23, 2015

Mom first ... triathlete and writer next

Sometimes being a mom comes before updating the blog.

Okay, well all the time being a mom comes first it's just that sometimes there isn't time for both.

That was definitely the case this past week.

My daughter does gymnastics. She has since she was about 4 or 5. Honestly though she's not perfectly suited physically for being a gymnast. She's 11 and already 5 feet tall.
guess which one is mine ... yes the one who looks like me except she's tall where I'm not.

She has always loved gymnastics and while she wasn't the best on her team she was on the team and that was what was important to her. One of the proudest days of her life was getting her first "team" leotard. There is, to be honest, some serious playground "street cred" that goes with being able to do a good cartwheel in kindergarten and first grade. While I scoff at the idea of being a cheerleader ... it is her dream in middle school and I will no matter what encourage her to chase her dreams.

Her closest girlfriends are on the team. The friends with whom she shares her secrets and feels free to share her creative side freely. These are great girls that she's known a long time and she spends 2.5 hours a day with them which honestly during the week is more than I see her.
When you're legs are long you have more work to do to get up high in the jump and bring all those long parts back in line in time before you land.

Her competition schedule started in January. It didn't go well at all. She scored much lower than she was expecting and it was very dramatic and not much fun for anybody. I was at the competition with her grandmother and grandfather. My husband and son were at a cub scout campout.

My m-i-l was beyond agitated she wanted to "write a letter" to the judges, she told my daughter that the judges were "jerks" and she really pushed me to make my daughter quit the sport. She called me almost every day and that resulted in me dodging her calls.

My father-in-law who is less dramatic than his wife did have some advice that I thought was spot on. He observed that she (my daughter, not his wife) wouldn't know how to quit gymnastics by herself even if she wanted to because she has been doing it as a sport since she was so young. I think he's correct there. As adults we know that sometimes when you do something for a long time it becomes ingrained with how you see yourself and even value yourself. Deciding that it's time for a change can be very difficult. 

My daughter is both my oldest child and my middle child. That's because I have two adult step-children. My husband's first children are both in their 20's. It's only relevant because I know intellectually that what my daughter is going through to some extent all children go through. I'm not unique. My step-son dreamed of playing for the NY Yankees.  I remember when he asked us, "why doesn't everybody play for the Yankees?" I also remember that his final season of baseball was really tough for him because he wasn't good enough. But back to my story of parental angst from these past weeks.

This is a transition year for my daughter. She'll be changing schools next year. A lot is going on in her young life. Eventually, I came to realize that if she didn't need to change this thing that was so important to her she shouldn't have to. And of course quitting after one bad experience isn't a great message.

Those who know my daughter might be able to tell that she was already stressed going in to this competition. Isn't she a cutie?
The second competition which was only 2 weeks later didn't go any better. Even though she had worked really hard during those two weeks and she had made big improvements. There were tears after each event and as her mom my goal became just to help her make it safely through the day. She is USAG level 4 so she does big moves including a cartwheel on the balance beam and a short trip up to the high bar in uneven bars. Which is to say that it was in my mind that if she couldn't calm down she could get really hurt. But she did pull it together and complete all four events and stayed and cheered for all of her teammates getting awards even though she got none.
okay terrible picture. But on the left on the stage is my kiddo with her team collecting the team award. She's in the pack of the group and it's hard to see but she's almost as tall as the next tallest girl's hand extended over her head. She towers over this group especially now that the two girls who are a year older are both out injured.

My husband who had been very relaxed about the whole thing did get to see how much she was hurting which was good because he understood that I wasn't overreacting. He's pretty confident that I overreact to most things. But he wanted to let her stop mid-competition she was so upset.

Parenting can be really tough
It has been a parenting challenge. It is incredibly hard to watch your child hurt and want to make it better but also want them to do it themselves and battle with yourself to know what to do. This is just gymnastics ... in the end it doesn't even matter. Except that it is very important to her ... right now. She has the very lucky luxury that this is one of the most important things to her. All that was bouncing around in my head these past few weeks and getting in the way of me blogging (and doing much else except fretting and making my husband nuts as I hashed through it every night).

But I think we're working through it together. I'm 100 percent confident that my daughter knows that everyone in her life is proud of her doing gymnastics regardless of the score. One hundred percent because I have told her in a zillion different ways since the beginning.

This is the best arabesque she's ever done on the beam her foot is up above her head. She has really worked hard on her events and I am amazingly proud of her.
I have delicately started the discussion that she is probably better physically suited to other sports where being tall is a blessing without crushing her self-esteem which is very tied into this sport. That has been the hardest thing without a doubt to try to do and sadly I won't know for about 25-30 years if I'm correct that I haven't shattered her self-esteem.

I have reconfirmed with her that I know that these are her very bestest girlfriends and that I'm not going to ask her to stop going to gymnastics (which I wouldn't do unless she was hurt. Did I mention both other tall girls on the team are at the moment... injured that is. Well they are.). And I have started the conversation about changing the goals in her mind for her next competition so that she can enjoy the day. I have said to her that we do this for fun and so we should enjoy it. As long as she gives it her best (which she always does) the score is just a number.

Now back to me and triathlon... I practice what I preach. 
I do beleive that if you give your all the result is just a number. In gymnastics and triathlon. I really do. But there is some small print.
  • a) you have to give your best in training for your race day result to be the best. Best doesn't mean top effort every day it means following the plan to the best you can. If you are sick the plan changes, if you are busy the plan changes, if you are injured all bets are off. 
  • b) It takes tremendous courage and confidence to take that leap and go ahead and give it your all on the day of the race. 

The confidence to swim the swim without worrying about the bike. The confidence to push on the bike to get the time you want and know that the run will be there in your legs and lastly the courage to run the marathon with all you've got.

When I do that I I feel good at the finish whether the clock says 15:20 or 13:05 or some lower number that I'll hopefully see in the future.  Actually, in Chattanooga I was pretty cranky at the finish for a few minutes but within a few hours despite knowing that I hadn't run the marathon time I wanted I knew I had run the best marathon I had in me so I was okay.

That to me is the challenge of triathlon. That's why I love it. That's why I do it (over and over again).

152 days until Ironman Lake Placid. But who's counting?