It’s a Whole New World.

25 04 2012

Tuesday I was up at 5 to get my workout done before I had to get the kids up and going, then get myself showered and out the door by 7am for a meeting.

It was mid getting kids up when it hit me, I am no longer a stay at home mom that works some.  I am now a full time working mom.  I fully understood that when I said:

‘Sorry this bread is so stale (for the peanut butter sandwiches for lunch), but this is the only kind we have left without mold.’

‘I can either be at the start of your track meet OR get groceries today, not both.’

‘How about bacon and gluten free donuts for breakfast?’

‘Go downstairs and check the unfolded laundry baskets for some pants.  Nothing?  Just wear a pair that don’t look dirty.’

I am having to majorly adjust my expectations for my parenting and my workouts.  I hope that things will settle down (You know when race season starts and I have a race to time almost every weekend.)  Crap.  At least I really, really love my job!

Christmas on Crack . . .

13 12 2011

Our house does’t look like this on the outside, (mainly because we are way too lazy to do all that) but take one step inside and I swear Santa threw up all his Christmas cheer right here.

Tree (crooked and quickly loosing needles) that is way too big for our house – check!

Colored lights and all the fabulous ornaments that don’t match at all but each have sentimental meaning – check!

Singing, dancing plush toys on every surface – check!

Not one but 5 advent calendars – check!

My collection of nativity scenes on the mantle and stocking hanging off the mantle – check!

Dept. 56 (wayyyy overpriced little light up porcelain buildings) village – check!

Christmas dishes – check!

Christmas placemats – check!  There is more but you get the point.

I don’t go small for Christmas.  We are a “Go big or Go home” Christmas family.  Every year I SWEAR I am going to cut back on the presents.  Then every year I buy gifts early.  Then I forget about them and buy more.  Then I realize I have more for one kid than the other.  Then I buy more.  What begins as a small Christmas ends as 2 hours of opening stuff that we don’t really need.

Not. This. Year.  This year we conned talked our kids into doing a big trip over spring break instead of getting Christmas presents.  As I started looking at trips I was immediately overwhelmed by the cost of flying the four of us anywhere.  Eeek.  That’s when it dawned on us, we could buy a nice used camper for what one week in the tropics would cost us.

DING!  Within a few weeks we had our wonderful camper sitting in our yard.  (insert white trash joke here)  We have loved our camper so far!  Even more than that I am loving not buying a million things this year!  We have planned a spring break trip (it’s a secret where we are going so I’m not telling) and the kids will find out on Christmas morning where we are going.  I got them a few gifts that go along with the camper / trip but that’s it!

It has been wonderful!  The kids haven’t seemed bothered by it, they aren’t asking for anything and are dying to know where our fun little camper will take us in April.  I’m planning on making their small gifts into a scavenger hunt that will end with a map in the camper showing our destination.

This is all made a little easier by the fact that Eli now knows the real deal about Santa.  A few months ago he randomly said to me:

“Mom, now that I’m in 4th grade I know the truth about Santa.  Once you are in 4th grade you just kinda know it’s your parents.  Plus daddy always tells me which cookies Santa will like and those are the only ones that get eaten.  So, I know he’s the one eating the cookies.”  (that’s right, blame it on Daddy : )

So, this year is a whole new grown up, no Santa, less presents year for our family.  And in the words of McDonald’s  I’m lov’n it!



7 09 2011

This weekend my husband will officially one-up me in irondistance finishes.  (At least I hope he will!)  Here’s a little secret we don’t tell our significant others when we are getting ready to do an iron distance race:   It’s a whole lot harder to spectate than it is to do the race.

The anxiety over the swim, the waiting, the waiting, more waiting – the anxiety every time you hear an ambulance, trying to see them every loop of the run / bike course.  It’s a big job.  Bring kids along and it’s just down right not. fun.

This weekend I’ll be timing the race my husband is doing so I’ll be pretty distracted.  I won’t be the best iron spouse out there, I’ll be able to see his splits constantly, but I’ll be lucky to see him as he loops around and if I’m busy with a timing issue I’ll miss him.  I won’t miss his finish – THAT I promise – but the rest will be hit and miss.

Having done some Iron- spectating in my day here are a few tips I have to all those spouses, parents, kids etc. that are getting ready for ‘the big day’:

1.  Food – carry your own.  I heard a tweet about a 2 block line at a Starbucks during one of the recent m-dot races.  If I had to wait 2 blocks for coffee it would be bad news.  If I had to wait in line WITH my 9 and 12 year olds there might be a murder.   You never know when one of those rug rats are going to get hungry and there aren’t many McDonalds race courses.

2.  Camera – Take pictures, lots and lots of pictures.  See someone with a suit and bike that is even close to your iron spouse’s colors – snap a shot.  If you don’t take the fantastic pictures you will end up paying $65,254 (only slightly exaggerated) in event photos.  Trust me, I have some very nice event photos that might or might not have set us back a month or two in the kids’ college funds because BOTH hubby and I were racing so neither could take pictures.

3.  Post-race.  You know how you’ve been racing all day and you are sooooo excited to see your iron person finish and you want to talk and the kiddos want to talk to them and all the family wants to call and congratulate them?  They want to lay down in medical and get an IV.  I once saw a poor racer sitting down post race, propped up against a wall, eyes half shut and his wife had the phone to his ear with kids yammering on on the other end.   He looked like he was ready to fall over and really just wanted to get his stuff and go to bed.

4.   Post-race – cont.  For goodness sake, during the race go gather up your iron-spouse’s stuff in transition.  Get the bike and the bags while he / she is out on the run.  It doesn’t matter if you’re not usually allowed to touch their bike – go. get. it.  Pack it up in the car or better yet, take it to the hotel.  AND, learn a lesson from me – empty out the botttles.  They will NOT smell good the next day if you forget.

5.  Post – race cont.  FOOD.  At some point your racer is going to be hungry again.  It might not be for a couple of hours but when they do, they are going to want FOOD.  Generally I hear BURGER and FRIES and the most common request.  Problem is, some of us mortals finish late and it’s hard to find a BURGER and FRY joint that’s open.  Work it out.  You, the iron -sherpa, have the responsibility of having food ready for your poor  racer that has now burned approximately 1 million calories today.

On Hold

2 09 2011

You know when you are on the phone and on hold (for – EVER) how you go through stages, almost similar to grief?  Here are mine:

1.  Disillusionment – “I am sure they aren’t correct when they say the estimated wait time is 28 min.!”

2.  Bargaining – “I’ll stay on hold until I get home but then I’m hanging up.  Really.  Crap, well I’ll stay on hold until I get all the groceries inside but then I’m really hanging up!”

3.  Acceptance – “This really is going to be my entire day, on hold, listening to this music.”

4.  Anger – “Holy S*#%!  I can’t believe they expect me to hold this long.  This is f*&%^*% unacceptable!  Get more call center help!  Have you seen my bill?  They can certainly afford it.  I’m staying on the line JUST so that I can give them a piece of my mind!!!”

5.  Confusion – “Hello, wait, is this a real person?  What am I calling about today?  Crap – I can’t remember now!”

Right now I feel like life is on hold in so many areas.

Exercise – I started having dizziness, shortness of breath and pain in my chest.  My workouts were for crap because I was so worn out.  Went to the doctor who did a o2 check and the other basics, along with an ekg.  All was normal.  Until she further looked at it and noticed I was having a “third heart beat” which she said can be normal and no problem.   Except I am having them all the time and it’s kicking my ass.  So we are doing further testing and checking a few things out.  In the mean time – exercise on hold.  I’m currently in my anger stage.  All the runners and cyclist that run and ride by my house every day are lucky I haven’t started throwing things at them.

Dyslexia – After the absurd meeting with my son’s school I took his test results to a friend that is a literacy coordinator at another local school.    Finally, finally, finally someone looked at his results and agreed with me that E has a processing disorder.  She said she didn’t think he ‘saw’ the letters based on his tests and looking at his writing.  I’ve never been so happy to hear that there is a problem with one of my kids.  She gave me some steps to start with but ultimately my meeting with his teacher today will determine how things are going to go this year.

We are still deciding if we will do independent testing to confirm a diagnosis of dyslexia.  My friend said that because the school has determined him ineligible for services us getting a private diagnosis won’t help our cause and we are best off working with his teacher and thankfully next year he will be at her school and she already has a course of action that we will take for intervention beginning next summer.   I guess I’m in the confusion stage with this because it’s been such a long fight to get E’s issues recognized, now that we’ve finally had some validation and confirmation that it is, in fact some form of dyslexia I’m left scrambling to figure out what’s next!

Once a month . . .

23 08 2011

I’m not one to keep a journal or even keep baby books up to date so I am relying on my blog to keep all my ‘out of the mouth of babes’ stories for eternity for me.

Last night, as I was reading my son at bed time in the camper (which, by the way, is in our yard.  Not our driveway- branches too low- not on the street-too much slant- in our yard.  Yes, our neighbors love us.) he said to me:

“Mom, when I grow up and get a job I’m going to get a camper.  You know, to live in.”

“Sounds great” I said

“I’ll park it in your driveway and live there” he said, “that way I can see you all the time” (my heart both sinks and smiles at this thought)

“Hmm, what about if you have a wife and kids” I asked, “Do you think they will like that?” (am I a buzz kill or what?)

“Well, I guess not then.” He said

(needing to redeem my buzz kill) “Maybe you can live in your camper until you have a wife and kids then.”

“Yes, that’s what I’ll do!” He said, “But Mom, even when I move away I’ll still come and see you atleast once a month so you don’t miss me too much.”

I would like to note that just two days ago my daughter (over dinner) declared that she would have my husband live with her when we are old, but me, she’s moving into a home.

I think I’ll go buy my son something.

Some people are idiots.

19 08 2011

I mentioned on my blog before that we have (for like 4 years) had concerns about some of my son’s learning.  He is a really, really bright kid but can not spell – not even simple words, and struggles with tracking and missing small words while reading.  There is much more than that, but those were the major things.

So finally I get some balls (I know, physically impossible) and tell the school last year that I want my son tested for a learning disability.  We felt sure that he would not qualify for special education, that was not our goal – but when our above average thinking kid is only working at the low to below grade level because he can’t do basic writing or spelling – something needs to be done.

So, testing happened this summer.  After each test we heard how wonderful, bright and delightful our son is.  Facts we already know.  We also got the ‘even if he doesn’t qualify . . . ‘  After all this you would think I would go into the meeting with lower expectations.  The meeting was supposed to be just to determine if he qualified.  I knew in my heart he would not, but was really hoping some of the testing would finally confirm what his father and I have been trying to say for the last 3 -4  years – something isn’t processing correctly.

Instead we heard that our son’s oral language testing scored superior, and only 1 point away from very superior.  They acknowledged that his writing was ‘immature’ and his spelling was ‘poor.’  Here are verbatim quotes from both an educational psychologist and the special education teacher that tested him:

“There’s nothing wrong with being average.”

“He’s just a weak speller.”

“With everything being done on computers nowadays he should work on his typing and use spell check.”

“But when does he really have to be able to read aloud?”

“Lots of kids are very strong in one area and weak in another, wouldn’t you rather have his strong skills be in verbal which he will use all the time?”

So they said he doesn’t qualify and recommended all the things that we have already been doing to try to bring him up to speed.    And they said work with his teacher this year to bring him up to speed.  You know, like we have been doing for the last 3 years of school.    But here’s the rub, when I go through and read the report from the psychologist and the special ed teacher, this is the official report says:

“His spelling achievement falls within the below average range . . .He was able to spell some sight words but made errors on other words from the first grade Dolche list. ” (E is entering 4th grade this year.)

“When spelling, capitalization, and punctuation were not penalized, E was able to write complete sentences on topic.” (Thus she scored him in the average range for writing samples and writing fluency. )

Let me ask you this – will his teacher and standardized test score his spelling, capitalization and punctuation?   It’s no big deal that my 4th grader writes like a 1st grader because he thinks like a 6th grader – right?!!

In another area the psychologist reported that his ability to copy developmental sequence of geometric forms with pencil and paper is that of a 6 year old.  In this case he told me that he was sure my son rushed through this section.  His teacher then asked – was that at the end?  No, said the psychologist.  Hmm, he didn’t rush through any other section of the testing, this was not at the beginning or end of the testing process, but when his score is not one but 3 years below average the tester is certain that it was just him rushing!

So, frustrated beyond belief and unsure of what to do next we are left hoping and praying he has a really good teacher this year that recognizes that these things are not ok, and although my son is delightful, loves to learn, is exceptionally bright in some areas and isn’t disruptive in class it is not acceptable that he writes and spells and in some areas reads like a 1st grader.


What kind of Family are you?

15 08 2011

As our kids get older and we all continue to redefine our roles, goals and relationships Paul and I decided to sit down and look at what we want for / from our family as our kids approach the tween and teen years.  We have always been a sports oriented family, but in more of a global sense.  Our kids swim on the swim team, my 9 year old played basketball last year and my 12 year old ran cross country and track last year, but that’s it.  We ride bikes regularly as  a family.  We swim together often.  The kids even run with us every once and a while.  We aren’t the type of family to belong to a travel league of any sort.  We like to have our weekends free for family travel and other family activities.  (I am not knocking this type of team, just saying it’s not our thing!)

We decided we want to travel more as a family.  We loved, loved, loved our family time in Costa Rica.  When the four of us were away and just enjoying the simplicity of a week of board games, surfing and swinging in the hammock it was perfection.  As we looked at the type of travel we can afford and what we want to do it wasn’t exactly lining up : )  So, we decided to do what we have talked about doing for 13 years – we purchased a fantastic (new to us) travel trailer.

2007 Starcraft EXP 21 RHB - our new 'home away from home!'

We went with a small one, it has fold out beds like a pop up, but hard sides so that we get luxuries like a bathroom, AC and heat : )  This is for traveling to races (TRIPLE T is a fantastic camping trip), for family trips (Florida for Spring break?  yes please!) and some trips that will be both (REV3 Wisconson 2012 – family ROADTRIP!) We are so excited – we can’t wait to go pick it up!!   We have been stalking the state and national park websites planning our family travels near and far – we would love suggestions of ‘YOU MUST GO HERE’ places!



28 07 2011

I know most of the folks around have been on summer schedule for the last month and a half, but for the Coach Kati family summer began on Sunday.  Sure, we have been to the beach, the lake, San Antonio (and I’ve also been to Connecticut and Portland) – but so far our summer days have been fight or flight.  It’s either go, go, go or absolute lazy slugs.

I’m always amazed at how much two a day swim practices is able to rule the entire day.  Our morning practice is only from 7:30 – 8:30 am, but by the time you get ready, walk there, get equiptment out, coach practice, take lane lines out and walk home it’s actually 7 – 9.  Then there’s breakfast and an attempt to put the house together from the day before (or unpack from the previous trip) it’s time to start thinking about getting dinner before evening practice from 6 – 8:30.  (which again, really runs from 5:30 – 9 by the time you get ready, walk, pack up and walk home).

As much as swim team and our crazy travel schedule has ruled our summer I wouldn’t change any of it!  Our team is great and I just love our kids.  We won a meet this year for the first time in NINE years.  Yep, 9 years of losses.  There are 6 teams in our league.  At the end of the morning session at champs this year our team was in 4th place.  We finished up in 5th (not many older swimmers), but even that hadn’t happened in a LOOONG time so we were jumping for joy!

So here we are left with 4 weeks of summer.  I’m trying hard not to jam too much into the time, which would make the last 4 weeks much like the first.  The one thing I’ve managed to fit in is some workouts again!  Thank goodness!   At this point I’m pretty much starting from scratch – I’m in about as bad of shape as I’ve been in since about 2005.   OY!  But I’ll get back there, It’s good an humbling to have to work so hard to go slow I guess : )

Off to the track for a run and if we make it through the afternoon without a kiddo pooping in the pool I’ll even get a swim done this evening!  I miss my 2 a days!


Travels, Travels, Travels!

20 07 2011

I feel like I could sleep for two days!  My whirlwind travel escapades began with a cross country flight on a Thursday from Roanoke, VA to Portland, OR.  This was my first trip to Portland and, although I didn’t get to see the downtown, I did get to see this for four days:

That’s Mt. Hood, which was in the background for the whole race weekend.  Spectacular is one word I would use.  The other word I would use to describe my work weekend (working for REV3 timing the Portland HalfREV race) is family.  I couldn’t pick a better staff to work with.  Hands down the most fun, caring and dedicated race staff you’ll find around.

The race was Sunday morning and all the reviews I’ve read were glowing.  Everything went off without a hitch and before long we were packing stuff back in the vans and I was off to the airport for my redeye flight back to Roanoke.  Except I got stuck in the Chicago airport.     Mechanical problems, storms and gate changes made for a long morning, but I just threw down $16 for a blanket and slept on the benches.    By 3pm I was back in Roanoke and on my way out to Smith Mountain Lake for a few days with my husband’s side of the family to celebrate my nephew’s graduation from High School.

Six boy cousins and Anna all had a blast playing games, jet skiing, swimming and just hanging out.  It was so fun to see the kids with their cousins!  Got in a short open water swim and lots of fun family time before it was time on Wed. to head straight back to the Roanoke Airport with the kids for a quick trip to San Antonio, TX for my grandfather’s 90th birthday extravaganza!

My kids are rockstar travelers!  Running through the Atlanta airport with our rolling carryons and backpacks because I’m too cheap to pay for checked bags – fantastic!  Our first order of business in San Antonio was to spend the day at Schlitterbahn waterpark.  19 years ago (ack!) I worked at Schlitterbahn, since then it’s grown and grown!  It was so fun to go back and show the kids where I worked and played for 2 fabulous summers.  (The rides were fun too!)

Friday and Saturday were family days.  I grew up with lots of aunts, uncles and cousins.  My mom’s side of the family is big and we grew up close.  Over the last few years having my own family, and a new family (Paul’s) to meld with has sidetracked me from keeping up with my extended family.  It was so amazing to go back to my ‘roots’ and I absolutely loved having the kids get a feel for the even bigger family that they belong to.  I can’t even begin to say how amazing my family is, I will just say that I am very blessed.

Now I’m home.  Whew.  I’m ready to train, eat healthfully and transform back into a triathlete again.  I’ve been hiding behind my surgery for a few months and it’s time to drop the excuses and get back into shape again.  Life is good.

Step One: Parent Meeting

11 05 2011

After three years of  frustration I broke the system.   A friend that is a reading specialist gave me the clue, you have to say the words:  Learning Disability.

A little back story.  My 8 year old son is a really bright kid.  Here’s the thing, in third grade he is still reversing letters, his reading progress has been slow, written work absolutely exhausts him and so on.  We kept getting the “it’s developmental” answer from the school.  Thankfully his teacher this year agreed that his progress wasn’t what it should be.   But we kept getting more observation.  Turns out you have to say “I want my child evaluated for a learning disability.”  If you use beat around the bush terms like “concerned” you don’t get the real testing.

Here’s the irony, had we not worked so hard with him daily on reading, homework and spelling he would have fallen below grade level a long time ago.  Below grade level gets the attention and testing.  Because we have worked so much with E he has remained at grade level.

Two days after I asked for testing we had a meeting set up.  For today.  So today we begin the process.  I don’t want to be the parent that goes into the meeting thinking I know all the answers, but after working with my son on a whole lot of homework, spelling and reading I am 99% sure he has a visual processing disorder.

Fingers crossed the testing will support that, and my bright little boy will be less frustrated and we will be able to give him the tools to succeed in school.