Monday, July 18, 2016

Ella's First Dance Solo

I know I've taken a break from blogging and the reasons are multi-faceted.  First, my life is like groundhog day and blogging about the same things over and over again seemed boring and not entertaining to anyone (including myself).  Also my kids are older and there are less crafts, preschool programs and the like to post.  And seriously how many times can you read about my mediocre races?  Ha!  But there are still things I want to remember and so I'm here to blog about Ella's first dance nationals and first solo because it's a moment I don't want to forget.  This could be long.... you've been warned. 

Ella has been dancing since she was 4 years old.  We've never taken it too seriously.  I held her back from competitive dance for a long time (this year was her first year) because it was something I didn't want to do.  Looking back, it was unfair to her.  She's definitely at a disadvantage to the girls that have been doing competitive dance since they were 5 years old.  

I personally think Ella is a beautiful and entertaining performer, but her skills definitely need improvement.  She doesn't have a lot of "tricks" (think aerial) and she lacks flexibility.  Because of this, Ella doesn't dance in her technique classes with all her friends.  She's in a hodgepodge (my words) group of girls and she's the youngest dancing with some girls in high school.  When she was assigned to her group during registration in June for the 2016/2017 dance season, she was in the SAME group.  It created a lot of stress for me.  I wondered if Ella was good enough.  I spent days lamenting over the issue and even called and talked to the studio owner (hi Tina).  She assured me that Ella's group wasn't the misfits (as I had named them) but they're just a group of girls that learn differently.  She explained that the groups are based yes on abilities, but also on the dancer's learning style.  She (Tina) encouraged me to trust the process and know that she (and the other instructors) want Ella to succeed and they will put her on the path to do so.  I believed Tina, I really did, but it was still a tough pill to swallow.  It's hard when you're paying literally thousands of dollars a year for your daughter to dance to know she's behind or not quite as good as other girls her age.  Again, this is is what I BELIEVED and contradictory to what Ella's teachers had told me.  Even still the writing was on the wall for me and it made me feel sad for Ella. 

I had been asking one of Ella's instructors (Jamie) for privates since the first competition.  She is a VERY busy instructor and told me she would start after our last competition.  Long story short, Ella had her first private with Jamie after school was out in June.  During that first private, Jamie asked Ella if she wanted to do a solo at Nationals.  I honestly figured Ella must have heard her wrong.  How was Ella going to learn and perform a solo in a month's time?  Turns out Ella didn't hear wrong and Jamie did want her to do a solo and Ella was on board.

As everyone prepared for Nationals and Ella was on vacation with her friend in California, scheduling lessons with Jamie was very difficult.  Ella learned her solo in 3 1/2 hour private sessions and completed her dance less than 2 weeks before Nationals.  We were going out of town for the 4th of July and then again the week leading up to Nationals.  Ella wound up having 2 more privates with Jamie (a total of 5) for a solo she was to perform at nationals.

Once she knew the dance, I made her practice every day.  Not just once, not just twice but AT LEAST 20 minutes twice a day.  I loved her routine and she looked beautiful doing it.  It is a lyrical routine and there was a LOT of rolling around on the floor.  I joked with all my friends that's all she was doing was rolling around.  I was so nervous for the competition.  I didn't want Ella to feel embarrassed or not do well.  She loved her dance and despite feeling nervous she felt confident heading into competition.

I felt more confident after I learned Jamie had entered Ella as a beginner.  Not many girls from our studio are entered as beginners so I had no idea what would happen for Ella.  Of course, not many girls at our studio are beginners and Ella truly is a beginner.  I was relieved and happy with her placement.

When we got to the competition I felt like I would throw up.  Jamie, Tina and Sam (all of Ella's instructors) were there and they assured me it would be fine and not to worry at all.  I turned Ella over to Jamie and went and sat in the audience.  At this point I felt confident about Ella's ability to perform the dance.  I knew she could do it.  She wouldn't forget her choreography and she'd be able to do her dance.  I was still a nervous wreck.  I'm her mom, I'm also a type A perfectionist.  I wanted her to do well and not feel like she wasn't as good as the other girls.

The more and more routines I watched the more relaxed I became.  There were some really good routines but some were not impressive at all.  I mean yes to get out there at 12, 8, 10 years old is amazing and that in and of itself is an accomplishment.  I'm just saying I expected to see Ella's lack of experience become apparent by watching the other routines and that did NOT happen.  I knew her dance was going to fit in and I felt more relaxed.

When Ella came on stage and began to dance, I cried.  I don't know why.  It was a feeling that just overwhelmed me.  It was a sob and only lasted about 10 seconds and I composed myself.  I was in awe of her body and her movement.  She looked incredibly beautiful up there dancing and when she completed the dance I was overwhelmed with pride.

The girl that went on right before Ella was also in her category.  She was a incredibly flexible and her leaps were really good.  I thought she put on the best dance I had seen that day, but I did notice that her dance wasn't very fluid.  That was one thing Jamie had told me Ella needed to work on and what I kept talking to Ella about during her practice sessions.  I would remind her that the dance is one fluid act and not a bunch of little scenes pieced together.  I felt like her routine became very fluid and it didn't look as though she was thinking about each step-- it looked very natural.  In comparison to the immediate prior competitor, I could tell Ella had done better in the fluidity department.  However, this girl put her heel behind her head and I joked that she was "super bendy."

When Ella got off stage, I felt relieved and I was definitely proud of her.  Her good friend Eva had competed as well and as they waited for the awards ceremony to start they discussed the likelihood of winning an award.  They both "wanted to" but didn't think they would.  I really wanted Ella to be realistic with her expectations.  She had watched the dancer right before her.  I pointed out all that girl's strengths and told Ella it was likely that girl would beat her.  If that seems harsh I'm sorry, I just didn't want her to be disappointed.  She laughed and said, "Thanks a lot mom."

I talked to Jamie, Tina and Sam after the performances and before awards and they all told me Ella did well.  Tina looked me in the eye and said to me, "She did really good."  I was encouraged and happy that our studio owner seemed happy with her performance.  Jamie admitted how nervous she had been and that she was NOT ok before the performance (she had 3 girls she choreographed).  Thank God she didn't let on to that BEFORE.

Jamie and Ella 

Fast forward to awards.  I sat there in my seat in almost the last row mind you (so much for my confidence in Ella winning awards) and prayed Ella would score Elite High Gold.  (The rankings go:  Silver, Elite High Gold, Platinum).  The awards ceremony is very quick paced.  The announcer is announcing names and levels and being a new dance mom I never quite know exactly what's going on.  He's also announcing the category champion for each category (lyrical, jazz, tap, etc)  Ella's friend was called first and she scored Platinum.  I was so happy for and proud of her.  Now the pressure was on.  Please God, let Ella score Platinum. Then it happened.  Ella Tirch:  Platinum.  OMG I was relieved and happy.  Thank you God!  Life is good.  Then right after.... "And the category champion is Ella Tirch."  I almost fell out of my chair.  I had no idea what had just happened.

Next they announce each category (type of dance) in the order in which they ranked 10th to 1st.  I should have known Ella got 1st because she was announced as the category champion, but I honestly had no idea what was going on.  It was all confusing and too fast paced for me.  So they're announcing the category and I'm like la-la-la not even thinking Ella's name will be called and then she was announced as the first place winner.  I put my hands over my face and cried.  I was overwhelmed with emotions-- pride, relief.  It was so much emotion and a release of all the worry I had felt with her dance placement.

Next they moved on to announcing the overall winners. This is where the dancers are ranked according to how they scored without regard to their category.  So she's now competing against ALL dancers 12 and under no matter what type of dance you did.  Ella did lyrical but she was now being ranked against those that did tap, jazz, etc.  This was the BIG award.  I found myself sitting there with a glimmer of hope that she would be called.  I then put it aside and told myself it was pointless to get my hopes up.  Be happy with what she got, I told myself.  And I was.  I truly was so happy and proud and it was beyond my expectations for Ella.

They announce the 10th trough 4th place winners. Ella's friend had gotten 10th place and again I was so proud of and happy for her.  I was happy it had been such a great day for our girls.  They send the 6th through 4th place girls off and put out the 3rd through 1st trophies.  They announce the 3rd place overall winner and it was the super bendy girl Ella had beaten out for lyrical.  I was like holy $#*^ Ella's name is going to be called.  I knew if she had beaten that girl in the category she'd beaten her in the overall.  That's just math and I can do math.  Ha!  Sure enough Ella's name was called and she was the 2nd place winner in the overall.  Again, I cried.  I was so overwhelmed and to be honest. SHOCKED.

The lesson to be learned from all of this?  First:  I will no longer NOT trust the process.  I have to know that Ella's instructors know more than I do and they're doing what is best for her and won't put her in a position to fail.  Second:  I will no longer underestimate my daughter.  She's a hard worker and she'll go out there and give it her all.

The feeling of PRIDE, surprise and excitement that I had for Ella will forever go down as one of my best memories as a mother.  This is not because she went home with trophies but because all along this child believed in herself. She had confidence, she worked hard and she believed in herself and it paid off.  Of course, I can't thank Jamie enough for taking her under her wing and also believing that she could do it.  So thank you Miss Jamie for believing in my baby girl.

I'm looking forward to this crazy ride of dance with my amazing daughter.  It might not be "my thing" but it sure is hers!

Tracey's Syracuse Half Ironman Race Recap

Syracuse Half Ironman
1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
June 19, 2016

I asked Susan if could write a blog post about my IM 70.3 Syracuse so I can remember all of the details.  I have also had many people interested in what goes into an event like this.  So, here it goes-

I decided to train for IM Syracuse 70.3 after my friend Kelli was talking about wanting to do one this year.  She researched different ones and we finally decided on Syracuse because of the time of year (not having to train through the summer) and the fact that we could drive to it.
So, in January, the training began.  I got back in the pool after two years out of it.  I swam two days a week (anywhere between 2000-2500 yards each time).  I biked at least three times a week on my bike trainer until it was nice enough to get outside.  I ran a lot also, completing a half marathon in April and May.  I also refused to give up Crossfit.  I love Crossfit and I know it makes me a much stronger athlete.  So, I went 2-3 times a week.  It was hard to fit everything in, and a lot of days I did double workouts.  Many of my workouts were at 5:30 am and also at 10:00 pm.  I tried my hardest not to let my workouts take away from my family time.  I think I did a pretty good job even if it came with sacrifices and times I just didn’t want to get up or get on the treadmill after the kids went to bed.

Because the triathlon was on Father’s Day, I also decided to dedicate this race to my Dad and raise money for CCMAC, an organization that raises money to increase awareness and prevention of melanoma.  My dad passed away in August of 2012 from melanoma.

The Race
Kelli and I traveled to Syracuse on Friday.  On Saturday morning, we headed down to Jamesville Beach where the race activities were occurring.  We checked in, signed away our life in waivers and picked up all of our race gear.  We hit the Ironman store, spent lots of money, and then attended the mandatory athlete meeting where it was repeatedly emphasized how hilly this course was.  We got a bit scared!  We then checked in our bikes, checked out the swim course and drove the first 12 miles of the bike course.  We were told miles 2-12 were all uphill, and that was not a lie.  At least now we had an idea of what we were facing.

We headed to meet our families, had a great pre-race dinner at Pastabilities, got our stuff together and headed to bed.

Race Day

The alarm went off at 4 am.  Way too early!  We got up, ate, collected our things and were off.  We got to the race at 5:30, headed to the transition area and got set up.  The forecast for the day was 91 and sunny, so we braced ourselves for a long, hot day.

The swim course was a rectangle with buoys every 100 meters.  That was really nice.  Kelli’s age group was scheduled to start at 7:16, so I said goodbye to her and wished her luck.  My age group went off at 7:56, so I stood around and looked for my mom and her friend Mark.   I finally found them, got in the water and we were off!  The swim was pretty uneventful.  It is my favorite part of the triathlon.  I exited the water, really enjoyed the wetsuit strippers and was off to transition.  My goal for the swim was 40 minutes.
Time:  39:16.

Transition 1
It was a bit of a run to the transition area.  I stopped to use the bathroom, got my bike gear on, applied more sunscreen and was off.

Let me start my saying that the bike is my weakest part of the triathlon.  I also worry a lot while riding that something will happen to my bike that I won’t be able to fix.  That is my biggest fear- not being able to finish because of a mechanical problem, not a physical one.  So, I started out on the bike very nervous.  What a course!  The first 12 miles were grueling to say the least.  There were some more good climbs in there, including one at mile 48 where I saw people pushing their bikes up the hill.  I only stopped once on the bike course at mile 40 to use the bathroom.  Because it was so hot, I was hydrating, hydrating, hydrating, so it was good sign that I had to go to the bathroom again. I also took advantage of the bike time to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a pretty melted granola bar.  The end of the bike course was good, despite my bike mileage being over 56 miles.  My goal for this was 15 mph. 
3:48:20    14.72 mph

Transition 2
I changed shoes, put my visor on, applied more sunscreen and used the bathroom again.

Going into this race, I thought the run would be my strongest part, until I saw the weather forecast.  I decided not even to wear my watch and just listen to my body and run (for those of you who know me, you know this is hard for me to do!).  This course was very difficult.  It was a two loop course, so we had to run the same hills twice.  Add in the 90 degree temperature and a very sunny sky, it was pure torture.  My only goal was to finish at this point.  I ran aid station to aid station (every mile).  I drank so much Gatorade and water I thought I would float away.  I also ate a bunch of salted pretzels and keep putting ice down my top.  I ran through every hose possible.  I saw Kelli three times on this run.  Mentally, it was great to see her.  She looked strong.  The middle of each loop had a hill designed by the devil himself.  I did not see one person running up that hill.  I walked it both times.  I was so scared of cramping or getting light headed from the heat.  I decided that my time was not important.  Seeing my mom and Mark at the turn around helped a lot.  I told them the second loop was going to be slow.  The second loop actually ended up being very close in time to the first loop.  I took it aid station by aid station again.  Until finally I made it.
2:22.51    (1st loop- 1:11:15, 2nd loop- 1:11:36)

Running down to the finish line was the best feeling.  It was such a relief to be done. 

Review of the course

Overall, the Syracuse 70.3 course was very challenging.  There were lots and lots of hills, which I am used to training in Pittsburgh.  I do love challenges.  I would definitely attempt this course again.  The race itself was extremely organized.  I need to give a huge thanks to the volunteers.  They were absolutely incredible!  From the wetsuit strippers to the sunscreen sprayers to the people giving out gatorade, water and ice- they were all amazing.  So supportive and energetic and encouraging.  Hands down the best volunteers I have ever encountered.  I really needed them on such a tough day and they did not disappoint.  I also have to thank my mom and Mark for driving from Long Island to watch me compete.  It really meant a lot to me.

I really want to congratulate Kelli for finishing her first half Ironman on a tough course in not so ideal conditions.  Kelli, you rock and I look forward to completing many more races with you.  You push me to do better and I really enjoyed sharing this experience with you. 

Tracey and Kelli  
This was definitely not the race I had envisioned in my mind.  I had a goal time of 6:30.  I finished in 7:01:35.  On another day, I would have been very disappointed in myself.  But, for once, I was proud of myself.  I trained well, I gave it my all, and I raced smart in the heat.  I know my dad was watching out for me that day, giving me the strength to push through.

I want to thank everyone who donated to CCMAC and everyone who supported me.  I received so many texts and messages wishing me luck and had numerous text messages from friends when I turned on my phone after the race.  I especially want to thank Susan who rode many miles next to me on her bike when she didn’t have to.  She also got me this necklace before I left which was so very thoughtful.  I have so blessed to have all of these amazing people in my life!  

Will I do another one?  Never say never, right?  A full Ironman is on my list to complete by age 50.  I have 7.5 years to train.  Hopefully that is enough!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

How Clean Eating Finally Worked for Me

Even though I've been a crappy blogger lately, I'm always posting on Facebook and Instagram.  You should be following me there.  For those of you that are have been reaching out and asking me what am I doing to "eat clean" I'm finally here to answer your questions.

First, I have a major love for food and I tend to eat lot of junk.  I'm looking at you Lay's potato chips. I'm also the queen of the yo-yo.  Why you ask?  Because I couldn't find a way of eating that I could maintain for any length of time. Until now.

Here's the thing, even though I felt like I knew what I was doing, I had no idea.  It used to be, in my 30s and even up to last year, I could cut my portions and calories and lose weight.  Calories in vs calories out right?  WRONG!  So wrong!  I found myself eating far too few calories and feeling starving.  Enter my friend Tracey.

Tracey and I have been friends for about 4 years.  She's an athlete (triathlon, CrossFit) and we're both moms to the most awesome Jacks in 2nd grade.  She and I run (literally and figuratively) in a lot of the same circles.  I've talked to her about nutrition A LOT.

Me and Tracey 
Tracey knows my struggles with food and I think honestly she probably gave up on me.  But this year starting January 1 I decided to take off the 15 pounds I spent 2015 packing on to my body.  By April 1 I had lost maybe 2 pounds.  I was frustrated.  My old tricks weren't working.  So I started talking to Tracey about my frustrations and she rolled her eyes (not really.... I hope) and set out to have another conversation with me about food, nutrition and "clean eats".

Tracey focuses on not only WHAT you eat (I mean duh), but also when you eat it and how much you eat of certain food groups.  I can't get into all the specifics of what to eat when EXACTLY, but I'm going to share what she taught me.

Life is now about "coloring" my food.  No I don't mean putting different color foods on your plate literally.  Let me explain.  Every food has a color and I'll explain it in simplest terms.

Blue:  Protein
Green: Veggies
Red: Natural Carbs
Purple:  Simple Carbs
Yellow: Fat

And there's really only one thing you need to know from here.  Blue + Green = Lean (I'm pretty sure that's trademarked by Tracey).  George joked with me, "well, what does purple + red equal?"  My answer?  Purple + Red = Dead.

Tracey taught me to eat mostly blue and green with a smattering of red NEAR YOUR WORKOUTS and to use purple and yellow sparingly.  I really focus on the blue + green.  And since I know people really want to see EXACTLY what I've been eating.  Here are some samples.

Grilled chicken breast: Blue
Black Beans: Red
Tri Color Peppers: Green
Cauliflower Rice: Green

Homemade Grass Fed Organic Hamburger:  Blue
Spring Mix:  Green
Carrots:  Green
Dressing (less than 5 gm sugar per serving):  Purple

Flank Steak:  Blue
White Potato:  Red (Not Tracey approved.... sub sweet potato)
Spring Mix: Green
Tomato: Green
Carrot:  Green
Half Serving Dressing:  Yellow
Half Serving Feta Cheese:  Yellow

Pork Tenderloin Grilled: Blue
Sweet Peppers:  Green
Red and Sweet Potatoes roasted:  Red

Mahi Mahi: Blue
Mango Salsa (Mango, onion, jalapeno): Green/Purple
Cilantro:  Green
Corn Tortilla:  Red
(I could definitely have used more green in this meal) So yeah, ditch the tortillas and make it a salad

Salmon Burger:  Blue
Organic Salsa:  Green
Spring Mix: Green
Strawberries:  Purple
Half Serving Dressing:  Yellow
Half Serving Feta Cheese:  Yellow

Salmon Burger:  Blue
Organic Salsa:  Green
Broccoli: Green
Shaved Kerrygold Dubliner cheese:  Yellow

Post Workout Breakfast:
Banana:  Purple
Eggs:  Blue
Salsa: Green
Steak:  Blue

Eggs: Blue
Salsa: Green
Mushrooms:  Green

Post workout Breakfast:  
Eggs:  Blue 
Salsa: Green 
Red and Sweet Potatoes:  Red 

Cucumbers: Green
Cashews:  Yellow
(green and yellow make good snacks.  I find I need the fat to keep me full.)

Whole day worth of Snacks for work:  
Apple and Cashews:  Purple and Yellow 

Cucumbers/Carrots/Turkey and Mustard:  green/green/blue/yellow/hmmm I don't know what color mustard is. 

Organic Grass Fed Uncured Beef Stick 

I eat a LOT of the same things over and over again because that is what works for me.  I'm a creature of habit and I kind of like what I like.  In addition, these are only the foods I took pictures of.  Obviously these are not the ONLY meals I have eaten.

When I eat blue + green and add in bits of red, purple and yellow I feel full and satisfied.  Before my meals would be RED + RED + RED and a tiny bit of blue and I'd wonder why I was hungry in a few hours.  I couldn't keep myself full and it was miserable.  

Listen, I will ALWAYS have food demons.  I love food and I don't necessarily love to eat super clean.  I'm a foodie.  I love good food that's not good for you, but I also have goals for how I like to look and feel.  As I've gotten older it's really taken me buckling down.  I'm not sure why "coloring" my food worked for me.  I visualize the colors as I'm putting them on my plate and it helps guide me as to what I should be eating.  

You can eat salads all day long but if it's full of purple, red, and yellow (dressing, bacon, avocado, feta cheese, fruit) it's not a "healthy" salad.  I only allow myself to have on serving of fat at a meal.  So 1/2 a serving of dressing  and 1/2 a serving of feta.  I certainly don't do more than one serving of red in any meal.  HUGE for me.  I didn't realize having clean organic yogurt, granola and fruit could be a detrimental as eating a candy bar.  

Listen, I'm certainly no expert (that's Tracey) but this is finally working for me.  The weight is coming off.  I'm now down 8 pounds since January.  Sure the weight is coming off slowly, but I feel like it's coming off the right way with more likelihood of staying off.  

Also I should disclose that I do have 1 to 2 cheat meals a week.  It's what keeps me going and I really don't care what I eat when I cheat.  It's my time to get it out of my system so to speak.  I do it on the weekends and it allows me to reset for the week.  

In addition, I'm drinking about 80 ounces of water a day and don't drink much else.  Just coffee and an occasional Diet Coke (disgusting I know) or glass of wine with my cheats.  

I really hope taking a look into what I'm doing helps you, but I'm a firm believer that Tracey can help anyone that REALLY wants help and is willing to listen and do what she says.  She will evaluate YOUR body and help you determine your goals.  She'll even intervene on your pantry (*shudder) and help you figure out what to ditch and what to keep.  I really enjoyed the personal shopping trip we did to Costco.  I learned so much there and I was surprised on just how much there is out there to eat on a clean diet.  It's not ALL broccoli and salmon.  

If you're interested in Tracey's help please reach out to her at for her nutritional services and pricing.* 

*While I told Tracey I would provide her contact information for this post, and obviously I benefited from her services, the opinions I offered about what she taught me are my own. Meaning, this isn't some bullshit post to get you to use her services.  It's just me telling you what finally worked for me and believing in someone who has a passion for helping people AND knows what she's talking about.  What Tracey teaches you isn't a fad or a shake, it's learning how to use food to fuel your body.  I encourage you to let her share her passion with you.  You won't regret it!  

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Hiking Camelback Mountain

I know you guys were hoping that I'd be here blogging about my healthy eats lately, but I'm so far behind on blogging and I'd be sad if I never blogged about my trip to Arizona with Ella.  I'm working on my healthy eats post too.

When I planned my trip to Arizona, Bianca told me she wanted to take me hiking.  I was very excited as hiking is something I feel like I could truly get behind.  I'm not sure what I pictured exactly, but I did NOT picture this.

Luckily it wasn't blazing hot in Arizona the week we were there.  It was about 55 degrees when we started.  Don't worry, I heated up quickly.  When I saw the first big hill I thought I'd die and as it turns out this one isn't even big.

Pictures never ever do hills justice.  This is literally a mountain and I had to climb it.  It was definitely a challenge, but I loved every minute.  The views were so amazing.  I had to stop every few minutes just to snap pictures.

Including a selfie (of course)!

As we went further up the mountain, it was less of a trail as seen before, but more of just rock.  It took some finesse to make it up without killing myself.

Bianca moved with ease and kept me going the whole way.  She's a beast!

It took almost a full hour, but we made it to the top.  I was taken bake by the scene from the top.  Totally work every huff and puff.

My relationship with Bianca is so special to me.  She is one of the most selfless people I know.  She's easy going and genuinely kind and upbeat.  So if you're going to hike to the top a mountain with anyone, you'd want it to be Bianca.  I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

Thanks for taking me on this adventure B, it's not one I'll soon forget.

Tune in again soon for more Arizona adventures.  I thought this was great, but every day I spent in Arizona got more amazing than the next.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

In the Backyard with a Baseball Bat

This picture stirred up all kinds of emotion in me today.  This pic was taken in 2011, Ella was 6.   I remember this day very clearly.  The boys were playing baseball in the backyard and Ella wanted to play too.  Never mind that she was decked out in her plaid skirt and pearl necklace shirt.  It didn't matter, she threw on the UA baseball cap and was ready to bat.  This story doesn't end with how wonderful she was even in a skirt.  No as I recall she was quite terrible.  Ha!  

That's not what I wanted to talk about, however.  What I wanted to say was I miss these days terribly. I think I took them slightly for granted.  I've always been so thankful for all the time I got to spend with my kids, but I don't think I realized that my days of playing in the backyard after school were so numbered. 

Every day there is somewhere to go. Someplace to be.  Everyone is involved in activities and I definitely wouldn't have it any other way.  A free evening is a luxury and not something we get often.  I'm not alone.  Everyone I know is in the same rat race.  It's just how life is these days I think.  

So I look at that tiny smile looking up behind the big brim and it brings me back to simpler days and I miss them.  Then I feel badly for not embracing the time I'm in.  I spend a LOT of time missing my babies and I'm not exactly sure why.  Sure they were cute and sweet, but if I'm being honest they still are.  

Ella is so extremely loving.  It's my job to build her up, make her feel good about herself and teach her all the things.  Yet every day she amazes me with her love and compassion.  When she looks at me and tells me she loves me, I believe it and I feel it in my soul.  Out of the blue she'll tell me how beautiful I am and look at me with adoring eyes.  I wonder what I did to get so lucky.  For her to love me so much.  How did she learn to be this amazing little person?   

Then I realize, it's the bond we share and one that started long ago and probably in a pearl necklace in the backyard with a baseball bat.  

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Don't Sit in Judgment of my Athlete Just Because She Doesn't Kick a Ball

I'm here to talk about being a dance mom.  It's a world I never pictured myself being in, but one I'm in nonetheless.  It's a world I didn't understand nor had I been a part of prior to experiencing it with Ella.  I had some learning to do and maybe some others do too.   

From the moment I posted these pictures on my Facebook page, I felt judged.  People commented about her barely there outfit and I'll admit it stung a little bit.

I get it, she's standing there in bootie shorts and a sports bra, but guess what so do Olympic swimmers, Olympic gymnasts,  and Olympic Volleyball players just to name a few.

When you look at my daughter, if you don't see an athlete then you're not getting it.

If you look at my 10 year old in a sports bra and booty shorts and make it sexual, well then I'm sorry but that's on YOU.

My daughter trains for her dances 16 to 20 hours a week.  Would it make you feel better if when she was there she was kicking around a ball?

Is it the make up that bothers you?  I get it.  She's 10, but that's just it, she's 10.  She doesn't wear make up in her every day life.  She understand it's part of a costume and it's part of being a performer.  It's so the judges can see those sassy faces she's making and she doesn't get drowned out by the lights.  It's not so she can parade around pretending to be 25 years old.

I spend a LOT of time with Ella teaching her about beauty from within and esteem.  I teach her that her self worth isn't based on how she looks, what she wears or the like.  Beauty is about kindness, compassion and being her unique self.

So if you think I'm putting my daughter in dance and sending her all the wrong messages by dressing her up in makeup and curling her hair, then you don't know about our family at the core.

Sure Ella looks at herself in makeup and feels pretty.  I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but she also goes to school some days where I question if she's even brushed her hair.

I'm proud my daughter is a dancer.  I don't care about the costumes, because they're just that costumes.

So while my daughter is beautiful and the costumes and the make up make it seem as though that's what we're emphasizing, well quite frankly that's an assumed adult reaction.  It not how my 10 year old feels-- AT ALL!

This girl walked off the stage of her first dance competition and felt proud about the countless hours she put in and knowing it paid off.  She felt empowered by the feeling she got on stage.  She felt strong in her sparkling costume.

I'm not worried about sending my daughter the wrong message because I know I'm doing what's right for her.  I know the intimate conversations we have.  I know the bond we share.  I know that I tell her beauty comes from within.  I know she knows the difference between performing on stage and every day life.  I know that she can look at a situation and evaluate it for its worth.  I know, above all, you can strip her of all the hair, makeup and costumes and she'd still be beautiful because she radiates from the inside.

 So don't sit in judgment of my athlete just because she doesn't kick a ball.