“This is the last time you will have to sign this,” announces my girl as we drive away from the pool. My mind races with thoughts of what should could be talking about. Before I even have a moment to glance over as I drive, she goes on. “This is the last time you will have to do a conference.” Pause. “At St. Anthony’s’.
This announcement has been in the works for a long time. She has been thinking about her future. Which makes every parent proud, of course. Even a year ago, she was starting to plan her high school focus. Talking to older students. Taking summer camp at one of the private schools that interested her. Making time to go to the private school open house night. Then deciding on public high school over the winter. Debating if she wanted to register for 8th grade at St. A’s. Deciding to register a mere 48 hours before the deadline. Talking the last few months about other students not returning. And seemingly happy to know that even though she registered, she could still change her mind.
Of course, I was curious to know why she decided today was the day to announce her decision. She had been sick over the weekend and missed yesterday, so did something not go right? And, in Bailie fashion, she clearly articulated her decision points:
- Education – she feels that her teachers have to adapt for too many levels of instruction. Providing the example of math where there are many levels of abilities, and she feels like she is at the top and not being pushed hard.
- Electives – Her friend at public school not only get to choose algebra instead of math, they get French (or Spanish) and other choices that she has never had.
- Teachers – Her favorite teacher, the one that inspires her (and it is obvious with Bailie’s science grade and the science facts that she brings up randomly as we drive to and fro the pool) only teaches in 7th grade.
- Finally, it’ the classmates. She says she knows it will not be perfect anywhere. But she feels in this small pool, it is more noticeable. The girls are very critical of each other. And they don’t treat each other like they want to be treated. Some of them are very rude, especially to boys that have crushes on them. (And this Mom was proud to hear her daughter stand up to one of the girls that was rude to a boy who liked her – especially since my girl is not fond of the boy).
Follow-up: Yesterday, before the student conference, I told her we could go talk to the school registrar about her decision. So we did. And she felt good about it. It also made her feel good how the office staff reacted. They were genuinely disappointed. And sad.
There comes a day in every competitive swimmers life where they get the emotion of swimming their first mile race.
And the day has came and went for Bailie. And the days of nerves, fear and panic that lead up to it were a pure joy for both the swimmer and their parent.
This long course swim meet was a big one for Bailie. Her first get out of school early meet. Friday afternoon started with two swims – the 400 Free and the 1500 Free. We got there in plenty of time for the positive check-in, so there was no turning back now. She swam an incredible 400, dropping almost 15 seconds from the projected time her coaches set for her. And she earned a gold time!
Now time to use that positive energy to gear up for the mile – and not let the week’s worth of nerves get to her.
Then the first big challenge arrived. The swimmers learned that they would be disqualified if they circle swim – they would be swimming two to a lane and it was mandatory they stay on their half of the lane the entire time. Then they looked at their seeding to find that although they planned to count laps and time each other, with the number of scratches, they would all be in the same heat. And the mad scramble started to find and meet older swimmers to help them out (that were not already in the water for their own race). So as my daughter stood behind the blocks watching the heats in front of her finish, she turns and asks me what she gets if she swims a gold time. What goes through my head? “Great. Be supportive, Mom.”
So I say “One thing you really want on your birthday list”.
Without missing a beat, she asks “I get to choose between a Gwen phone and an ipod?”
Nice try kid, you don’t get to choose. You get a guarantee.
So a few minutes later, she jumped in a swam her race. Her coach was very happy with her first time out. And half way home, she finally pulled up the time standards and celebrated her gold time. And her birthday guarantee. It took just a moment for her to ask “how can I pick which one I get”. And my quicker response, “Every race this meet is a gold time”. And she almost did it! Either way, she has one proud momma!
I never think about swim practice as much more than practice and exercise. However, when the April sun shines high in the sky at 4:30 pm and the concrete pool deck warms up to the perfect temperature for a dog to enjoy a nap, that all changes.
The girl swam every stroke with a smile. Not just any smile; it was like Christmas morning smiles. Didn’t hurt that is was breaststroke day. And each time, a set was finished, she stood at the end of the pool instead of crouching under water.
My normal routine while she is the pool is to walk and stretch or run errands. But on the first sunny day after the pool bubble is removed, it was time to sit on deck and enjoy the sun. All of the parents had the same idea – otherwise I would not even noticed the de-bubble phenomenon.
Her face seemed to fall when the hour was completed and she had to leave the pool. Luckily, there would be many days in the next four months exactly like this one.
Driving each day to and from school provides lots of teaching moments. Especially if Bailie chooses the radio station. This particular morning, a Viagara commercial was on. And she asked more about what it was.
I took a breath and dove right in…
Some men, during sex need help getting and sustaining an erection, I explained.
She looked momentarily puzzled and asks, “Is that the same thing as a boner?”
“Exactly, Bailie. There are lots of nicknames for everything to do with sex and drugs. Be sure to ask if you ever need help with the translations because you may hear some people use terms incorrectly”.
Our goal for the day: Hike Bright Angel trail
Last night, we made our plan: either hike 3 miles in or go the 4.5 miles to Indian Gardens. Leave about 8am so the hot sun would not affect us immediately. We easily had water for six miles; hoped maybe we could push it to nine miles and get to the Indian Gardens. But there was not likely a spot to refill our bottles (and they don’t sell bottled water at the Grand Canyon, it is refill only). The guide suggested it was 4-6 hours to hike 3 miles down. And plan 6-9 hours for Indian Gardens. So we’d play it by ear.
With the temperature at a cool 17 when I woke at 6:30am, I immediately decided we would not leave until it had warmed up to 38. Good thing, Bailie was very, very sleepy even at 8 am. We finally made it to the trailhead (just steps from our cabin) a few minutes after 9am. The air had warmed up to 39!
We started our descent. It was fast. And dusty. And the edge was often close. And the view was always amazing. I fell behind many, many times stopping to capture the moment in pixels. We stopped for a rest around the first hour down for a snack as we were good at sipping water along the way. The downward pace was already felt in some muscle groups for both of us. We continued down to the next rest point where we met the pack mules coming up. As we rested and refueled;
- We admired the dirty red film on our shoes and legs.
- Bailie teased a squirrel with her cough drop – accidentally
- The squirrel got Bailie back as he stared her down from the top of the view-point she reluctantly climbed (I forced a photo shoot)
- And we decided since there was not option to refill our water bottles, and our knees and ankles were feeling the toll of the descendent, it was smart to read the postings “you can choose to go down further, but remember you must go back up”.
So we headed back towards the rim – a ,2120 feet incline. And Bailie took it in stride. I put the camera away to focus on keeping up. But that didn’t make a difference. That swimmer stamina made me look 100% out of shape. Luckily, there was another family on the same ascend schedule and their youngest was also moving at a fast pace. So they stuck together, waiting for the two of us Mom’s every few switchbacks. The other brother and Dad took their own pace behind us. Although most of the trail out, I dropped into the fourth spot, the last few switchbacks the four of us hung together making it back to the rim right at 1pm. Bailie showed up the guide by beating the four hours for the six miles! This meant it was time to celebrate with ice cream (for lunch)!
We finished up the afternoon people watching at the rim and splurging at the Tovar for dinner. Thankfully, dinner was an improvement over the previous night. Other than the French onion soup, I admit we won’t rush to dine there again. The view was amazing – as we sat right at the windows. The night finished with more people watching, of course!
I can’t help but think of the movie “Raising Arizona” as we board our flight for a few days in the warm sun. Bailie has her nose stuck in a book, so I am mostly on my own. The nose continues to focus on reading, until I chide her into putting it down and becoming my navigator about an hour’s drive north of Phoenix. She navigates us perfectly into Sedona, stopping at a viewpoint along the way to get some great photos of the red rocks. As we approach the heart of Sedona, ready for lunch, we struggle to find parking. Finally, we have success just a little east of town, finding a deli (and candy shop) to fill our empty bellies. Then we forge on through Flagstaff for both a refuel for us (breakfast and snacks for the upcoming days at the Grand Canyon) and for the car (as the map looks pretty uninhabited between here and there).
We pull into Grand Canyon National Park just in time for sunset. We just parked in the first lot we found and headed to the rim. Luckily, it was only intermittent clouds, so the sun reflected off the canyon walls to my delight (Bailie was delighted too, but the cool wind kept her thinking more about getting to our cabin). When we both could no longer stand the cold, we went in search of our cabin at the other end of the village. We stayed at Angel’s Peak in a cluster of cabin rooms complete with half bath and fridge (I could have bought more food in Flagstaff!) and then a community shower. To our liking, each shower was its own room so it didn’t feel like a locker room. Of course, the room paled in comparison to our last girls’ trip. We spent the evening planning our hike into the canyon the next day – and Bailie alternated between her book and researching the canyon rock formations. Dinner at the Lodge was nothing to write home about – Bailie was certain she could cook better food herself. The evening closed with a last look at the bright stars as the rain clouds have completely disappeared.
The dress hunting adventures continues with a girlfriends weekend in PDX. We returned to Jen’s favorite places from her dress shopping adventures less than a year ago.
Day 1 – All about Northwest Portland on 23rd.
We poked around in a few dress shops. Tried on many silk options at Lena Menoyeff Studio. Long, short. V-neck, drape neck to strapless. Cream to bright white. Simple chiffon to beautiful appliques. A variety of beautiful colored silk sashes. Wandered through a few more shops without much inspiration.
No shopping trip is complete without a snack. And we found the ultimate ice cream stop at Salt & Straw. And then we grabbed a few chocolates on our way back to the car at Moonstruck.
Day 2 – Today revolved around an appointment at the resale shop Xtabay.
First things first: Breakfast at our favorite Sunday Brunch spot: Daily Café in the Pearl. After our stomachs were happy, we headed to Xtabay. Bailie started in the dress shop with thoughts of a vintage Caribbean blue or turquoise dress. She found several options, along with a few that didn’t match her ideal color selection. And settled on a super cute strapless 1950’s prom dress in peach.
We moved upstairs to the bridal salon and checked out decades of dress options. Between the six of us, we found one or two to try from most decades. And Bailie got to wear her dress the whole time to make sure she liked it. As much as the older dresses were beautiful on the hanger, I just felt like I was playing dress up in them. The most fun for me was that Bailie wanted to be my partner in the dressing room, and even laced me into the a full length number complete with train. It was Bailie’s pick (so she seemed to love to lace it up). Of course, she also had to add veil options to create her favorite look.
The best part: At the end of the weekend, I felt more concrete in the style of dress I wanted. Full length. Sweetheart neckline. Beautiful fabric, maybe flowey, maybe not. And I loved all of the dresses that had all the built-in undergarments. The idea of knowing that I don’t have to wear both the dress and the layers underneath on a potentially hot August evening would be a bonus!