Sunday, July 21, 2013

How am I doing?

My attempt at running my first 5K this past May must have caused some brain damage, because shortly after I managed to stagger across the finish line at that race, I actually went, of my own free will, and signed up for even more running, this time with a beginner’s running group.
I figured if I could (barely) survive running 3.1 miles once, I might as well prove I could do it again.
My new running group meets twice a week, where our two coaches, Dame’ and Liisa, have slowly whipped our lazy bums into shape. We started with walking and then running, and six weeks later, for a bunch of former non-runners, we’re not looking too shabby.
But the biggest surprise hasn’t been faster miles or stronger legs. It comes from being coached.
A mom spends her whole life coaching her kids. It’s our job to cajole and convince, from the first bites of baby food to first days of kindergarten to first job applications. We give them high fives. We pat them on the back, literally and figuratively.
If we were a talking action figure, you’d press a button on our back and we’d say, “Good job!”
We do a whole lotta coaching. But who’s coaching us? 
Sure, our spouses give us kudos, but they have to; that’s part of their job description.
When was the last time someone we weren’t related to said “Good job” to us moms? And no, Mother’s Day does not count.
We moms are so busy raising our own kids, we don’t get to give many high fives to each other. We commiserate and trade child care tips, but we don’t actively coach each other.
We should have a special mom coach hotline that we call at the end of each day. Our mom coaches would say something like this: “Wow, Mom! You got up at 6:30 a.m., got everyone to school on time, worked all day, picked everyone up, made dinner, folded three loads of laundry, paid some bills, cleaned the kitchen, and now everyone’s in bed on time! High five! Now get back out there and do it all over again tomorrow!”
No one has invented the mom hotline yet, but I’m getting a good dose of coaching from Coach Dame’ and Coach Liisa. Each week, they persuade us to run a little bit farther. They tell us what a great job we’re doing. They cajole, they insist, they praise, they promise. 
Our coaches have managed to trick us into doing all kinds of crazy athletic stunts. Like the time last week when Coach Dame’ sidled up beside me as I huffed and puffed along one trail.
We’re going to go for it in 30 seconds, she said.
Go for it? I said. As in, run faster? I’m about to keel over and we’re going to speed it up?
Yeah, she said. You can do it.
Ready, she said. GO!
And I did. I ran faster. I ran faster because I could, but I also ran faster because Coach Dame’ made me believe I could.
“Feel your power!” she yelled as we ran side by side. “Feel strong!”
It worked. I felt my power. I felt strong.
Good job! she said.
Thanks, Coach.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Lofty ideas

The Huffman girls complain about many things, and sharing a room is definitely at the top of the list.
It’s not like they have much choice. With two bedrooms for three girls, at our house it’s a mathematical certainty that someone’s going to have a roommate.
For the past 10 years, youngest and middle daughter have shared a room with bunk beds and matching dressers. In a 10-by-12 room, vertical living is almost a requirement. Their room has been rearranged more times than I can count. We’ve had bunk beds up, bunk beds down, bunk beds in one corner and bunk beds in another corner.
Walls have been painted pink, then yellow, then blue, then pink again. Stuffed animals, Barbies, 4-H ribbons and photos of Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson have come and gone. A bunch of other junk has come and not gone. Safe to say, there’s a whole lot of c-r-a-p in their room. But the bunk beds were key.
Over the past year, as one approached the end of middle school and the other the end of high school, the level of roommate complaints reached an all-time high. Someone was always squawking about her stuff being touched, moved or pilfered. Accusations about missing dollar bills, nail polish and iPhone earbuds were being flung about like the dirty laundry that covered the floor.
I started imagining ways to make one room work for two teenage girls. Should we turn a closet built into the eaves into a bedroom nook for the oldest? Divide the room in two with a wall? Hang a curtain or paint a stripe down the middle of the room? Move one into the garage? Ship one off to Grandma’s house for the next two years?
This called for a room makeover. I emailed April, a friend who just started her own interior redesign business. April lives with four kids in an even smaller house. If anyone knows how to squeeze kids into a room, it’s April. After a brainstorming session with the girls, April came up with a plan ... and it’s called “loft bed.”
A loft bed is essentially a big bunk bed, but with a much cooler name. The high school girl will have the loft and the middle school girl will have the bottom space. A larger dresser will be procured. Cute pillows, a new rug and new window treatments will be bought on the cheap. Much of this will be financed by the sale of the older dressers and bunk beds.
A “for sale” listing on a Napa garage sale Facebook group worked like a charm.
The dressers were gone in 24 hours and the bunks shortly after that. The family that bought the bunk beds has five kids, said the dad when he showed up to claim the furniture. These are perfect for us, he said, lugging the wooden beds down the stairs to his truck.
Great, I said. Call me in 10 years when you need a loft bed.