Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Lauren has always been a strong child. Physically strong. Not freakishly strong, but stronger-than-average. Mostly I've always thought she was in a fat hurry to catch up to her brother, but I don't think that anymore as her physical abilities are her own and not a mimicry of him. Unless you're talking about Pokemon, and then it's completely about mimicking him. He's into it = she's into it. Down to every last detail. But that's another story for another time.

Lauren has been taking gymnastics since preschool began for her this past fall. Just one 45 minute class each week, immediately after her preschool ends (her preschool is located within the same building as a competitive gymnastics and cheer facility and they give discounts to preschool families. Love that! Very symbiotic.) Anyway, Lauren really liked gymnastics and seemed to have a natural aptitude for it. She's strong and fearless, and takes direction/correction well. And once she figured out the hand/feet correlation for a proper cartwheel, well, there was no stopping her. And then, some gymnastic competition in connection somehow with the road to the Olympics was on TV a month or so ago and Lauren was hooked. She watched, mesmerized by the gymnasts and convinced she could do what they were doing (until she saw them doing flips on the balance beam and conceded she couldn't do that yet - but soon!). And ever since, she's been turned on by gymnastics even more, expressing to me that she wants to be "just like the girls on TV!". She told her gymnastics teacher all about it, and started focusing even more during class, trying harder and determined to improve. She's 4.

But her natural determination and physical abilities have paid off because her gymnastics teacher asked the head teacher at the facility to come watch Lauren and evaluate whether she could move up into her teacher-approved class. She "passed" and was approved for this instructor-approved class. She was the only kid in her class to be promoted so far.

Her new class was yesterday and she was so excited! She kept saying she couldn't wait for her harder class and she was so proud of herself for getting in. Again, she's 4! She has a definite goal in mind and the ambition to pursue it. She melded into this new class as if she had been part of it from the start. It wasn't as "hard" as I thought it might be and the class actually did a lot of the same stuff her previous class had been doing, but the kids doing it were just better at it. But even though these kids had been in this more advanced class longer than Lauren, the new girl, she kept up with them. In fact, she had the best cartwheel in the bunch! And could do a better pencil-hang, too. I even saw Lauren execute a nearly perfect handstand - until she couldn't hold herself perfectly upright and flopped over. Hopefully it won't be long until she can learn to cover that error and turn it into a walkover or something. And yes, I'm totally bragging on my kid. I'm proud of her! She was giddy when the class was over and had so much fun. I checked in with the new teacher and she said Lauren had fit right in. Lauren heard that and just beamed, and told several people later in the day how happy she was that she "fit in" without giving said people further context about what she meant. It was pretty funny to hear her.

I think if she keeps up her enthusiasm and her teachers/coaches agree, we might need to consider adding additional classes for her this summer. Start giving her more time to practice, learn, and improve. And maybe, just maybe, someday you'll be watching my little gymnast on TV when she ends up "just like those girls" she saw back when she was only 4 years old. A future Olympic gymnast? Why not?!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Aging Ain't For Sissies

I don't feel old. I don't think I look old. But apparently, I'm getting old. Aging sucks. I like the wisdom and confidence part that comes with getting older, but the actual aging part? Yeah - not so much.

I'm 38. I'm OK with being 38 and saying out loud that I'm 38. People usually don't place my age that high if they didn't know already and had to guess. Most usually would put me 5 years younger than I am. I'll take that compliment, thankyouverymuch. But even at the tender age of just 38, I think I'm starting to experience the first signs of menopause. Gasp! I said it - the M word. Actually, perimenopause is the correct term. The transition time preceding menopause.

My symptoms are very mild still, but yet I've taken notice. Mostly I've noticed that my cycles are becoming shorter. I used to be a textbook 28-29 day cycle. Like clockwork. But over the past 6-12 months they're coming a bit faster than usual. What used to be the first week of the month became the mid-month, then the end of the month, etc. With Mr. Chick having undergone the Big Snip, I'm not really actively tracking such things anymore, but in the back of my head I became aware of this. Also? I'm feeling a bit more tired than usual, yet despite that I'm finding myself waking up at various points during the night. Brief periods of wakefulness in the wee hours. It's like I can't sleep for long stretches of continual hours consistently. I wouldn't say I have insomnia exactly, but I'm just not getting the deep, restful sleep I used to. That's bumming me out.

I don't want to mention my ever-graying hair, but I can't hide from it. I have more gray hair than any of my friends, and any of my sisters when I was their age. I would estimate I am 5%-10% gray if I didn't color it, but it can be hard to tell because I DO color it.

All this points to a changing hormonal balance in the old gal. Great.

But the other thing that freaks me out just a bit about facing my advancing age? Today I had to buy a fiber supplement. Like an old person. On doctors orders. You see, I've been experiencing some rectal trouble, to try to put it delicately, but not of the constipation variety. Something else entirely. Something a little alarming, if I'm being honest. So I made an appointment and saw my doctor today. And had the joy of experiencing Dr. Jellyfinger AND a rectal scope. Fun times! My doctor saw a minor area of concern and said we need to "rest" the area and told me I needed to take the fiber supplement everyday for 2 months to see if things don't improve. Uh-huh. So now when I drink my tea in the afternoon and/or evening, it'll be loaded with added fiber! Bonus! Even though I'm NOT constipated I must take this fiber, for months, just to make sure I crap several times a day without any effort, so my colon can "rest". I don't know - crapping twice+ a day doesn't sound like a lot of rest to me, but whatever. Dr's orders. If after all the extra fiber and rest I'm still having trouble then I get the joy of scheduling a colonoscopy! The fun never ends!

Aging Ain't For Sissies, that's for damn sure!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Biting The Hand That Feeds You

Whew! Sorry for the long absence. Mr. Chick went on a business trip, Nicholas was sick and missed a day of school, followed by a "No School" day, all during said business trip. So I have been up to my eyeballs in entertaining, cooking, cleaning and spending quality time with BOTH KIDS, all by myself, for days. I was just a tad busy. Plus I've been attending thrice-weekly dragonboat practices, which are fun and exhausting. I've been at it for 2 full weeks now (this week = start of week 3) and so far I've been able to also maintain my regular workouts as well. So for the past couple of weeks I've been diligently exercising 4-5 times per week instead of the usual 2-3. So far the scale is not showing any difference, but I still have hope. The reunion is just 5 months away....

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. As you may know, Nicholas is taking ballet classes at a top-notch academy here in town. He takes two classes a week: a co-ed "curriculum" class (pre-ballet), and a boys-only class (mens ballet 1). In the spring the school has a spring recital performance for all the kids. The kids had to sign commitment cards that they would make every effort to attend all their classes to learn and perfect the routine for the performance, and that they would perform at ALL the performances (there are 3 over 1 weekend). Nicholas signed the card, agreeing to work hard for the recital.

I took him to class on Saturday and learned something that I find disturbing. THE SCHOOL IS CHARGING $10 PER PERSON TO COME TO THE RECITAL. EVEN PARENTS. I already pay what feels like a lot of money for Nicholas to take ballet here, but now I have to pay to see what he's learned??! Classes are closed - I am not allowed to watch. I can only peek in the outside windows - from a distance as to not be distracting. But, it's been winter and now spring. In Portland. IT RAINS HERE - A LOT - and I'm not about to stand in the rain to try to see what Nicholas is doing in class when I can't hear anything anyway. Music, instruction, all mute to the outside viewer. And even if we could hear faint strains of the music, it would soon be drowned out by the loud traffic noises coming from the busy street just 20 feet from the window. There is a large intersection there and also a bus stop. And a high school. It's not a quiet, serene location. So no, I haven't spent a lot of time at the outside window, watching. I figured I'd see it all come together at the spring recital.

Only now, the recitals are scheduled for the very same weekend I have my dragonboat races, which means I can't anticipate if I'll even be able to COME to a performance because my schedule is completely dependent on how my team does at each race/heat. It's completely unpredictable. That bummed me out enough, but then to learn they are going to CHARGE ADMISSION to see my own child perform, well, I'm pissed, frankly. We've told grandparents about coming to see Nicholas' recital, not knowing that they'll need to fork over cash to do it. For Mr. Chick, Lauren, and the grandparents to watch Nicholas it will cost $50. If I get to go it's another $10. And it's not like Nicholas is performing a solo. He's part of the class - the GROUP is performing. And it's not swan lake. It's a short little exhibition of the young kids.

I'm feeling like the school is being greedy. Is it just me? I think if it's a question of space and having a limited number of seats available, then they should limit the number of tickets each child gets. need more tickets? Then you gotta pay for them. Or offer additional performances. But to charge us roughly $700/yr for classes, and then charge us even more to SEE our child demonstrate what you've taught him, is ridiculous. I think performing for parents/family should be automatic and INCLUDED. I'm hoping Mr. Chick can videotape the recital in case I'm not able to be there. At this point I wouldn't be surprised if there was a fee to him to do so.

It's only $10/ticket, but this has really left a bad taste in my mouth.

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