My Human Rubber Band

“Girls, we are going to have a sit-up contest. I want you to go home and at some point before our next practice I want you to see how many sit-ups you can do.  Have your mom or dad count for you and the next time we’re together we’ll see who was able to do the most.”

My daughter, Leah, is nine years old. She started gymnastics when she was six and it was then that I realized I gave birth to a human rubber band. This girl is so flexible I sometimes wonder if she even has any bones!  Not only that, but from her very first class, she began to spend most of her life in an upside down position! She also learned that any counter, railing, couch, bed, chair, etc. can easily be turned into a gymnastics apparatus.

When she was in Kindergarten, she decided to cartwheel all the way from the school to our car. I lost count around 120! The boys used to get so mad at her when , on the spur of the moment, she would flip-flop without first looking behind her, and end up kicking them in the stomach! How many times have I caught her performing gymnastic skills and have had to say, “Leah, you can’t do that there!!”

I have been blessed with four naturally athletic children.  However, Leah, as of now, is the most driven and insane athlete in our family. The sit-up contest? Did she stop at 100? 300? 500? 1000? No, she was determined to win the contest, so she wanted to post a number that she knew the other girls wouldn’t go over. That number, 1111. In fact, she wanted to do more, but I made her stop at this point as it was becoming a little crazy! And, she wondered why her stomach was sore the next day!?

Leah has what it takes to be a great athlete. She is easily coachable and has the talent, dedication, drive, determination, competitive spirit, discipline, and desire to give what it takes to be her best. Never do I put any pressure on her to compete and I always tell her whatever she decides to do with gymnastics or any sport she’s in is fine with me. I will never push her to do or be something she doesn’t want to be. She puts enough pressure on herself that she definitely doesn’t need a mother that’s going to do the same! (Although, I know she could be a great runner – and I sometimes hope she will pick up this “life-long” sport when she gets a little older. Not to mention, gymnastic meets, plus award ceremony’s can get a little long! But, again no pressure!)

My daughter’s last meet was yesterday. She started off the season falling off the bars and breaking her ankle. She had to work really hard to catch up and was very determined to give each meet her best. My favorite memory from this year was when she was at her second or third meet and she was warming up for the vault. She miss-stepped and ended up running into the vault. She ran the run-way a couple more times but could not get her steps back in order. At that point, I knew it was a mental problem. Finally on her third try, she made it over the vault and ended up doing a great job when it was her time to compete. After the meet she told me, “You know Mom, when I was having so much trouble on the vault, I just prayed and asked God to help me get over it, and He did!” Her words were so sweet, and I love when I get little glimpses that let me know  I just might be doing a good job as a mom!

Way to go Leah for finishing Level 5 with a 5th in State on the floor and the bars and 7th in State All-Around!

Yep, sometimes my inspiration to compete and do my best comes from my 9 year old daughter!



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Earthly Kingdoms

The week of spring break did not include a peaceful, relaxing vacation, on a warm tropical island, in which I was lying on the beach, soaking up the sun, sipping a cool drink, and reading a good book.  Instead, it included a house full of my children and their friends and cousins. (I like to refer to my nieces and nephews and the neighbor kids as my “donated” or “adopted” children.  They are always over and I often feel as if I have six or seven children instead of only four!). So, needless to say, this week included many, many sleepovers, late nights with wild children, and an empty linen closet.

Why an empty linen closet? Because every single blanket, sheet, comforter, and pillow case were used by pre-teen engineers to convert the basement into a secret hideout, in which each boy had to pass a series of obstacles in order to be initiated. This became their living and sleeping quarters for the next few days. Obviously, my girls and I were not “allowed” in the basement and felt a bit left-out. After all, every good palace needs a queen and an elegant princess or two. We were tempted to storm the castle but decided the boys would be better off left alone.

And now, that the week is almost over the walls and windows (aka blankets, sheets, and pillow cases) are starting to cave in and the once brilliantly constructed fort is becoming a piece of dilapadaited old news.  Once what was so important and protected is left forgotten and scattered in ruins.

Today, it occurred to me how often I do the same with so many different aspects of my life. How often do I get something that I wanted or needed so badly only to find it buried underneath a pile of junk a few weeks later? How many times have I let a relationship or friendship run dry because I was too selfish to nurture it? It becomes pretty easy to take my, God-given, gifts and talents for granted. It seems that certain talents can become so second nature and so simple to execute that they become stale and boring, or it seems I leave them to become un-important and forgotten. I hope that from this day forward, when I look at the “majestic buildings” in my life, I don’t leave them to become broken down old structures.  Instead, only with God’s help, may they develop into something more beautiful and perfect as time passes.

On a lighter note, despite a busy week with my kids, this was my first week of training with my new coach, Carla Hastert.  It went really well.  I’m building up my miles and I’m finally back on the track doing speedwork. I have a more intense workout today and I’m thinking of running a 5k tomorrow strictly as a good, hard training run.

Lastly, the riddle of the week…I came home from one of my runs this week and showed my kids my bleeding, bruised elbow and asked them, “How do you think Mom hurt her elbow while running, without falling down!?”  Now this takes talent!  If you don’t know this already, you’re sure to find out that I tend to be a very accident prone individual. More about that later…car accidents, broken lawn mowers and vacuum cleaners, tripping into waitresses while they’re carrying a tray full of drinks, falling down on non-slippery surfaces, etc. etc.