Saturday, December 22, 2012

Erin has bunny rabbits in her ear

From the 'conversations with my preschooler' files...

Brenna is off of school for the next 2 weeks.
That means that mommy is off of work for the next 2 weeks.
Not exactly a tropical vacation but c'est la mommy vie, I guess.

Anyway, what does one do with a 3-yr old who is out of school in the days leading up to the National Celebration of St. Conspicuous Consumption (also known as Christmas - no offense meant to all my friends who celebrate)? Well, run errands and buy stuff, of course!

Brenna is back in her big-girl bed which means that she is, and consequently I am, up long before the sun, so we dawdle until around 8:30 am when I think at least some of the stores will be open. Maybe not the dry cleaners, but at least the ones participating in the mad shopping rush.

Brenna's self portrait
I load Brenna into the car and pull out of the driveway.
B: Mommy, what we going to do today?
M: We are going to run errands.
B: Why we going to run erins?
M: Because we...
B: I have a friend Erin.
M: You have a friend at school named Erin?
B: Yes, at school. I have a friend. Erin at school. She not at school now. She at home.
M: Oh. right. Your friend is at home with her mommy and daddy.
B: No. She not at school.
M: Yes, because school is closed.
B: No. She not at school because she got something in her ear.
M: She got something in her ear? What did she get in her ear?
B: A bunny rabbit!
M: A bunny rabbit??
B: Yes! She got a bunny rabbit in her ear!

Yes, I suppose getting a bunny rabbit in your ear would prevent you from going to school for a while.

Nola - not a bunny rabbit but if you put her in your ear you'd probably wish you'd found a bunny rabbit instead

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Translation of preschool-ese: What "I love..." really means to a 3 yr old

Recently Brenna has discovered the phrase "I love _____." It's quite cute. Usually it is a random pronouncement and "love" is stated with importance and verve. For example, "I LOVE purple...And pink. Yes, I LOVE them."

It is often associated with food - usually foods that I've never seen her eat and occasionally she has actually professed dislike for. For example, Brenna recently announced that she LOVEs pizza. However, I have never actually seen her EAT pizza. In fact, when presented with the opportunity to eat pizza she generally chooses to eat anything but pizza.

Or it comes in response to a question that really doesn't need that sort of qualification. For example, "Brenna, it's bath time. Are you ready to take a bath?" "Yes mommy!! I LOVE bath time!"

And it may be followed by and linked to something she really does love, like chocolate.

So the exchange sounds something like this:
M: Brenna, it's bath time. Are you ready to take a bath?
B: Yes mommy! I LOVE bath time!!
M: Great, I'm so glad you love bath time. Let's go get you undressed.
B: No!
M: But you love bath time and you have to take off your clothes to take a bath.
B: NO!
[exteremely pained sigh from mommy]
B: If I take a bath can I have some chocolate? I LOVE chocolate!

Thus, I have now figured out that when Brenna says "I LOVE ____!" it really only means that she loves to say that she loves _____, not that she actually loves _____.

Got it?

Oh, and she is going to try to sleep in her big girl bed tonight. Last attempt at the big girl bed was a complete fail with Brenna getting up at 5 am, coming into our room, and having a screaming meltdown on the floor when told it was not time to wake up and she needed to go back to her bed...or at least to her room....or really anywhere but screaming on the floor at the foot of our bed.

Yeah, we LOVED that.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mommy, that HO WEIRD! - more preschool conversations

Brenna is absolutely enamored of the holiday lights. So, each evening after I pick her up from school, I try to drive a different way home so we can look at new lights. As we were driving home last night, Brenna was pointing out lights and suddenly she says...

B: Mommy, the lights. That ho weird!
M: What?!
B: It ho weird!
M (not even sure where to start with this one): So weird?
B: Yes, ho weird!
M (ok, at least she isn't practicing her new vocabulary word describing the working girl who stands on the corner of Ponce & N. Highland): What's so weird?
B: Nevermind, mommy.

ok. will do.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

"I saw it on Facebook"

Ever wonder what your preschooler is doing when you're not looking?

Brenna is looking at pictures on my phone.

(Aside: How is it that children seem to emerge from the womb with an innate sense of how to work all electronic technology? At 2 she could scroll through pictures on any touch screen electronic. By 2.5 she had figured out how to turn on all electronics and navigate to what she wanted. By 3 she can essentially tell me how to navigate my tablet and phone and fix whatever problems I might encounter.)

So, anyway, Brenna is looking at pictures on my phone and she comes upon this one of her with her Aunt Kate:

B says: Mommy! I see she! (She has complete command of technology but is still working on grammar - there must be some sort of cognitive theory about this progression of development that Piaget and Maslow didn't anticipate.)
M: Yes, that's you and Aunt Kate
B: Yes, but where is her?
M (not really sure what B is getting at): Aunt Kate is at her house with Uncle Kevin.
B: No. I know! I saw her on Facebook!
M: Facebook?! (Exactly when is my child cruising Facebook?? And, how am I not aware of this?)
B: Yes. Facebook. I saw her when I was a little baby.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ruminations on pee pee shoes and other parental condundra

I have discovered that the late toddler and preschool years are a time of bodily functions: the occurrence, the discussion of the occurrence, and what to do when they occur at unexpected times or inappropriate places. I really never thought I would spend so much cognitive energy on pee-pee.

But, alas, I do.

And here is what I have learned:
  1. Pee pee happens. Usually when you least want it to.
  2. In the world of the 2-5 yr old there is no such thing as an inappropriate time to discuss pee-pee.
  3. The more the perception by adults that the time is inappropriate to discuss pee pee the more likely it is that your child will bring the subject a very loud voice.
  4. Oxy products are the lord's gift to parents of preschoolers
  5. "Accidents" are a weapon and potty trained preschoolers are masters at wielding this weapon.
Take for example, Brenna's recent discovery that if the teacher says you can not change your pants on a whim, then you can stand in the middle of the classroom and pee on the floor, and suddenly, you are not only allowed, but encouraged to change your pants...and socks...and shoes....and maybe even your shirt if you were very thorough. While this is extremely effective in achieving the preschooler's desired outcome (really, they're not a dumb as they look), it is not exactly rewardable behavior from the adult perspective. 

This brings us to a parental pee pee conundrum. What to do with clothing and shoes that have become collateral damage in the war to change pants for no reason (until they suddenly are wet because you stood in the middle of your classroom and peed in them)? (please check out her site. she is hysterical)

Which brings me to another parental conundrum: It completely mystifies me why retailers create clothing for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and young children that have washing instructions that include "hand wash" "gentle cycle only", "hang dry", "wash separately", and my all time favorites "do not wash" or "dry clean only". Seriously? Who buys this sh*t?? It is my firm belief that if it can't be thrown pellmell into the washing machine on the heavy-duty boiling-water-sanitize cycle with a full cup of bleach (well, color safe bleach) and then dried at a temperature that would make the furnace melt, then it should not be produced, sold, or purchased for a child under the age of....well, 20.

SERIOUSLY?! $920? For a toddler dress? A white toddler dress?!

And here is the conundrum part: Hand-me-downs. Every parent loves hand-me-downs. Without them we would all be poorer than we already are and our children would have to go naked by Wednesday (assuming that Sunday is laundry day...which it might be, if only I were that organized.) So really, the more clothing your child has the less laundry will need to be done. In theory, anyway. 

Hand-me-downs answer the question "Who buys this sh*t?" (sh*t = clothing that can't be boiled in the wash and cooked in the dryer). Obviously, someone does because a selection of it has ended up in my daughter's closet and drawers and I certainly didn't pay top dollar for it. 

Shoes are the worst. What do you do with the pee-pee shoes? How about the pee-pee boots? Or, every parent's favorite: pee pee light-up shoes? Electronics and washing machines do not make good company - in this contest no one is the winner. But, if you don't wash them, your child goes around smelling like a homeless person. And no parent wants to their child to go around smelling like a homeless person. It's bad enough, that when they get to be a teenager they will go around dressed, in your ancient and uncool opinion, like said homeless person (or a streetwalker...or both). Really, there is no need for them to spend their early youth smelling homeless too.

So the shoes must be washed. The athletic shoes. The leather shoes. The shoes made of stuff that looks and feels like leather but did not come from any animal found in nature. The shoes with lights. The shoes with glitter. If it goes on your preschooler's feet then it will likely need to be washed. 

Surprisingly, I have had great success with the washing of Brenna's shoes. Her glitter-sparkle shoes came out of the wash and dryer not significantly worse for wear and still sparkly. Even better, the washer/dryer remained un-glittered. Her neon pink sneakers are still pink, albeit not quite so neon. The Nike high tops (made of some leather-like substance that is definitely not found in nature) came out as good as new. As did her yellow t-strap mary jane sheakers. In fact, these actually came out better than new since the searing heat of the dryer seems to have been the only answer to re-adhering the cute rubber piece to the toe of the shoe. (I had tried every kind of glue and tape, with no success, prior to washing them.) 

Based on this list, I have pretty much sent every pair of Brenna's shoes through the washer and dryer.
At first, I actually put the shoes in a delicates bag. Now I don't even waste my time with that. Pee pee shoes - straight into the gaping mouth of the washer/dryer beast with you!

Fortunately, she has not peed in her boots but if/when she does, I will probably thrown them into the washer and dryer as well. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Theory of Intergenerational Retribution

Theory of Intergenerational Retribution

  1. Proof that G-d exists.
  2. Proof that not only does G-d exist but s/he actually does listen to people's prayers.
    1. Specifically, proof that G-d actually listened to the prayers of your parents when you were a child.
      E.g., Remember all those times you did something in public that made your parents cringe? You know what your parents were thinking at that very moment? They were thinking: "I pray that one day you will have a child who acts just like you". And who knew it but G-d really was listening, taking notes, and waiting until you chose to procreate to make your parents' prayers come true.
Just remember that as you raise your child. I know I do.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

You've come a long way baby. - a timeline in pictures

3 years old today. Happy 3rd birthday to the best little bean we could have ever imagined.
many views at 20 weeks

look at me! i'm upside down

A bit sooner than expected at 34 weeks

sunbathing on day 3

thinking deep thoughts on day 5

1st birthday - cake is gooooood!

2nd birthday - cake is way better than this party hat
3rd birthday - is there anything better than a princess cake?!

a birthday cowboy hat is pretty good...
but sisters are even better.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Yet another conversations with Brenna

Brenna is driving her car through the kitchen. Michael is sitting at the table...

Brenna: bye daddy
M: bye. where are you going?
B: i'm going to a workshop and then to pick up my friends.
M: you're going to a workshop?
B: yes, and then to pick up my friends to take them to school. then i go back to a workshop.
M: oh. ok. have fun!
B [puts hand out the window]: but first i need money

Michael nearly fell out of his chair. Where the h3ll did she learn to ask for money before going a workshop no less?!

seriously, i thought she was turning 3 tomorrow, not 16.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mommy happiness

the birthday party girl
Well, birthday party day was a big success. Before going to bed in her new big-girl bed for the first time, Brenna said to me: "I had a fun day today."

What more could I ask for?
the big-girl bed

Friday, November 2, 2012

Parenting fail - When a seemingly good idea goes terribly wrong

Some ideas are far better in theory than in practice. Take, for example, the morning I thought it would be a phenomenally awesome idea to try to walk the dog while pushing Brenna in her stroller to school.

This is our dog, Nola.

 She is beefy, strong, sweet and, above all, dumb. Due to equal measures of insufficient brains and lack of leash training, she is miserably awful on a leash. So bad, in fact, that the one time we tried to take her running with us, she ran into a signpost. Head first. Clunk! Yeah, not the sharpest tool in the doggie shed. For a while, I was regularly walking her when I would take Brenna to school in her stroller, and she got moderately better at leash walking (as long as I used a choke collar and kept her on an extremely short leash). Then we moved into a house with a yard and leash walking apathy took over. 

This is our cat, Luna. (yeah, we have a thing for names than end in 'a' - NolA, LunA, BrennA...)

He is a cat, which pretty much says everything you need to know about him. Actually, he is still a kitten - approximately 5 months old.

So here's the story: We had a “good” Brenna morning - meaning she got dressed and ready without a significant meltdown, and we were out the door on time. Maybe even a little early. As we walk past the yard, the dog runs up to the fence, and I think, 'hey, why don't we take Nola with us?' 

So, I say to Brenna, "Hey, why don't we take Nola with us to your school?!" Brenna thinks this is a great idea. This should have been a sign to me - if your 2.5 year old thinks something is a great idea, it probably isn't.
For example, hugging a dinosaur generally isn't considered to be a good idea...
I lock the stroller into place and run back to the front porch to get the leash. Leash in hand, I run over to the gate to the yard and realize that the choke collar is not on the leash. Oh well, I’ll just hold tight and keep her on a really short leash.

The dog is beside herself with excitement that she is actually going to get to go for a walk and is jumping in circles as I try to clip the leash onto her collar. Leash secured I open the gate and the dog lunges forward with the force of a Mack truck. Hint #2 – if the dog nearly pulls your arm out of the socket, maybe it’s not such a great idea to try to walk the dog while pushing a large, somewhat unwieldy, jogging stroller.

I wrestle the dog into (temporary) submission, wrap the leash around my right arm/hand, get both hands onto the handle of the stroller, release the brake, and off we go down the sidewalk. Brenna is singing. The dog is straining and trying to go mach 3. And I am digging my heels into the concrete to keep control of both the dog and the stroller.

Enter the cat. Luna sees our entourage and the fun we are having, and decides he wants to join the party by following us down the sidewalk. We get to the corner of our street, which intersects with a busy street. Cars are whizzing by and I think that the cat will certainly turn around and go home. We wait for a break in the traffic and I push the stroller out into the street. The cat follows. I back up onto the sidewalk. The cat continues out into the street.

Cars are coming. Holy cr@p! The cat is going to get squished for sure.
The experience will scar my child for life and we will end up spending a fortune on therapy and psychotropic medication to help her cope.

I lock the stroller in place and lunge out into the street to catch the cat. Nope! The cat darts across the street. Gets onto the sidewalk and stops dead in his tracks. Apparently he has never crossed the street before and now he looks like he can’t figure out what he is supposed to do next. A kitty idea light bulb goes off in his brain and he darts back across the street and up the sidewalk toward the house.

Whew! Disaster averted. I get a hold of the dog’s leash, take the brake off the stroller, cross the street, and we continue on our merry way. Me pushing, Brenna singing, and the dog trying to make my right arm 6 inches longer than my left.

About 40 second later I hear a jingling behind me. Did I mention that the cat wears a collar with a little bell on it? Well, he does. I look down and there is the cat trotting along side of us. Awesome. Not. Unsure of what to do, I continue walking thinking that for sure the cat will turn around and head home soon.

We turn the corner onto an even busier street and the cat trots along beside us, darting in and out of bushes. I look ahead. The next corner will require that we cross 5 lanes of insane traffic. I am beginning to wonder what made me think that walking the dog and pushing Brenna and owning a cat, was such a good idea. Then, I it occurs to me that the cat will follow us the entire mile to Brenna’s school (assuming he doesn’t get squished by a car in the process) if I don’t do something to stop him.

I look at Brenna and say, “Sweetie, we are going to have to go back to the house”
B: Why mommy?
Me: Because we need to take Luna home so he doesn’t…um. We just need to take Luna home.
B: Why?
This is not the time to play 20 Whys so I ignore the question, drag the dog around 180 degrees, and hope the cat follows us. Sure enough, he does. The dog clues into what we are doing and starts to try to drag me and the stroller back down the street.

We struggle down the street. The dog pulling, the cat darting in and out of the bushes. We need to get across the street. There are too many cars to assume that the cat will make it across in 3 dimensions. I wonder what I can leave behind. Not the stroller and child. Not the dog. Not the cat. What the H3LL was I thinking??
I grab the cat and scoop him into my arms. Needless to say he is not thrilled with this turn of events and he immediately starts doing kitty gymnastics in an effort to get away. I grab the dog’s leash and the stroller with my one, semi-free hand, clutch the squirming, clawing cat in my other arm and push the stroller with my chest while the dog drags us across the street. The cat is trying to crawl onto my head by way of my face. 

Cars are passing and there is a car stopped on a side street trying to turn onto the busy road, witnessing the entire fiasco. The driver watches me in either horror or amusement (I couldn’t tell which) as I wrestle with the dog, cat and stroller.

Once on our street I let go of the dog’s leash and concentrate on getting the cat and the stroller back up to the house. The dog has run off and is frolicking in the front yard.

Finally, we make it to the driveway. I park the stroller facing the house (back of the stroller to the street) and put the brake on. Then I take the howling, struggling cat and dump him onto the front porch and close the door as fast as I can. He immediately starts to howl even louder like someone set his tail on fire.

Just as I close the porch door I hear Brenna yell “MOMMMMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEY!” I whirl around and the stroller is nowhere to be seen.

Then, CRASH!
A house alarm starts to blare.

It is 8:30 in the morning.
My neighbor across the street and comes out in his pajamas, coffee in hand, to see what the racket is all about - just in time to see Nola take off running up the street with her leash dragging behind her.

Above the din of the house alarm and the screaming cat, I can hear Brenna “MOMMMMMMYYYYYY! MOMMMMMMYYYYYY!” I am certain she has rolled down the hill and back onto the busy street I just saved the cat from. (Even though, by the laws of physics, this is utterly impossible.)

My head is spinning like I’m possessed, as I try to look everywhere at once in order to locate the source of Brenna’s crying.

I finally locate Brenna and the stroller. The stroller has rolled backwards in a straight line (according to the laws of physics) across our street, crashed into the curb and our neighbor’s trash and recycling, and fallen over onto its side with Brenna still strapped in. I am officially the worst parent in the world.

In the end, the dog was captured by my neighbor and returned to the yard. The house alarm (not ours) stopped of its own accord. The cat was unperturbed by the whole thing and continued to howl like he was on fire.
And Brenna was fine other than a bit shaken from her unintended roller coaster ride across the street.

When all was said and done, I seriously considered having an alcoholic beverage. I’m sure it was 5:00 somewhere in the world. Right?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Conversations with Brenna -Part two

While standing in the kitchen near the espresso maker...

B: Mommy, I want some coffee.
Me: (Thinking my hearing is going) You want some coffee?
B: Yes...  In a sippy cup.
Me: You want coffee in a sippy cup? (By now I am pretty sure she thinks I am both deaf and a little stupid)
B: Yes.
Me: Ummmmmm...

Really, what is there to say to a 3 year old who wants coffee in a sippy cup?

In the car...
B: Where are we going?
Me: We are going to get your hair cut.
B: Why?
Me: To make it pretty.
B: Like yours?
Me (Awww. She's the best kid ever.): Thank you sweetie.
B: Noooooooo! Don't want like yours!

Nuff said.

On going to the dentist for the first time...
Me: Do you think we should make an appointment for you to go to the dentist?
B (Displaying an unnatural level of enthusiasm): YES!
Me (suspicious): What does a dentist do?
B: He plays basketball.

Apparently, Michael Jordan is her dentist.

(Copied from:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Oh, sparkles, how I used to love thee...

In a moment of feeling like super-craft mom I decided that I would give Brenna her “pink pumpkins” AND add a bit of pizzazz to her pink ladybug costume by buying pink glitter spray paint and painting both the pumpkins and her ladybug wings (which were red with black dots). 

So, this morning out I go to the yard with the wings, spray glitter paint and a large piece of brown paper to protect the “grass” (aka weeds, though why I thought they needed to be protected is a mystery to me now). I get everything set up and go to start spraying. 

First, I cant get the stupid top off the spray paint can. How many educational degrees does it take to do a simple craft?? Apparently, n + 1.

Finally, after cursing several times, I get the top off (not sure the cursing and top coming off can be considered a causal event but since one occurred before the other and I’m ignoring any noise in my data, I’m going with causal connection) and I go to town spraying…

Everything is going well, wings are getting sparkly, I'm having a ball, unitl.........The spray button gets stuck and suddenly I’m spraying the hell out of everything in sight just trying to get it to stop. 

In an effort to stem the flow, I take the button off the top of the can. I'm not sure what I thought this was going to accomplish but what ended up happening was an instant geyser of glitter and whatever clear coat paint the glitter spraying straight up into the air, my face, and any poor bug in the vicinity. (There is now an epidemic of glittery bees in Atlanta.) 

Quickly realizing my mistake, I jam the little button thing back on to the top of the can, but now the nozzle is pointed directly into my hand and my hand is suddenly coated with a thick layer of sparkly pink. 

I curse more (and briefly wonder why I didn’t make Michael do this). 

Finally, the spray stops of its own accord. I sigh with relief and try to wipe some of the globs of glitter from my hand onto the pumpkin. 

But the wings still need more sparkle. I mean, when you are 3 yrs old, is there even such a thing as too much glitter? So what do I do? I start spraying again. (Make that education requirement n + 2 degrees) 

Shockingly, the button gets stuck again. (Hmmm, maybe I should review the concept of causal connections?) And I am once again I am at the mercy of the glitter spray until it decides to stop of its own accord again. 

Nevertheless, in the end I managed to make the wings pink-ish and sparkly, 

the pumpkin has a pink sparkly sheen, 

and my right hand may be permanently covered in a thick layer (much thicker than anywhere else, mind you) of pink sparkles.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

conversations with my toddler...

Conversations with my toddler: Part 1

There is really nothing more entertaining than hearing what comes out of Brenna's mouth next.

Last month after the first day of the MS 150, as we were all "resting" in my parents' hotel room:
My dad (Poppy) is resting on the bed and Brenna is bouncing/jumping up and down next to him
Poppy: Brenna, no jumping please. Poppy is recovering.
Brenna, laughing: You're not COVERED Poppy!

Yesterday morning on the way to school, in response to the suggestion that we go to pick out a Halloween pumpkin this weekend:
Brenna: "I want to get 3" (while holding up 5 fingers)
me: "That's 5. But 3 is good."
B: "I want pink ones, like I have at home" (referring to the neon pink plastic pumpkin candy bucket we recently bought)
me: "Real pumpkins don't come in pink. Only orange."
B: "But I don't like orange. I like pink."
Last night after her goodnight kiss & hug from daddy
B: Daddy is a boy. We are girls.
me: Yes, you're right. Daddy is a boy and we are girls.
B: When boys get big, they get boy faces
me: boy faces?
B: yes, boy faces when they grow big
me: you mean, like a beard?
B: no, boy faces
me: like scratchy faces? on their chin and cheeks?
B: yes. boy faces
Daddy was thrilled to know that he has a boy face...come to think of it, I'm pretty thrilled to know that I don't.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dear friends, family and colleagues.
I would like to begin this report of my MS 150 ride with a heartfelt thanks to all of you who supported my ride. Not only did I meet my fundraising goal, but I significantly exceeded it!! Your generosity is appreciated not only by me, but by everyone who is interested in research, prevention, treatment and support of people with Multiple Sclerosis.
Riding the MS 150 was a first for me. I have never done a bike ride for which I had to raise funds. I have done charity rides in the past where I paid my entry fee, some or all of which went to one or another charity, and rode my bike for some distance: 50, 65, 100, even 125 miles.
Over the past 5 years I have watched my dad, who was my inspiration for making cycling more than just an occasional pastime, raise funds for and ride the MS 150 in ever-increasing distances, with 2011 being his first year to complete the full day 1 century (aka 100 mile) ride. Go dad! The chance to combine one of my favorite hobbies with the opportunity to spend time with my dad and raise money for a great cause seemed too good to pass up and earlier this year I took on the responsibility of raising funds.
Flash forward to last week. The ride, 100 miles on day 1 and 50 miles on day 2(or maybe 75 miles if we were feeling good?), was upon me and my training had been, at best, sporadic over the prior month. Still, I hoped that my base of chasing after a toddler would make up for any lack of real fitness.
Our small party of 4 – my mom, my dad, my daughter and I – arrived in New Bern, NC late Friday afternoon. As I always do before a big event, I had been watching the weather forecast like a hawk for about 3 weeks. Weather for Saturday’s long ride promised to be warm, maybe a bit windy, and maybe a bit wet. Sunday was looking better with a predicted cold front moving in Saturday night dropping the forecasted temperatures from the high 80’s to the upper 70’s but the chance of getting wet was a bit higher.
After picking up our t-shirts and registration packages, my dad and I set up our bike stuff for the morning while my mom kept Brenna entertained. Then we all headed out for a good pre-ride meal of….crab cakes! Yum!
Saturday dawned, as promised, sunny and warm. Slathered with sunscreen and armed with enough gels and other nutritional supplements to feed a toothless army, my dad and I lined up with 2500 other cyclists and waited for our 8 am start.
The amazing thing about the MS 150 ride is the sheer variety of people who come out to participate. It is a testament to the diversity of people who care about improving the lives of people living with MS.
Shortly after 8 am we were off! Bolstered by cooler weather than this past Atlanta summer has offered me and the amazing sight of a road without a hill for 500 miles, I may have taken off a bit too quickly considering my ride companion. (Sorry dad!!)
We kept a brisk pace for the first 50 miles, arriving at the lunch stop in an impressive 2.5 hrs, for a 20 mph average. We each grabbed ½ a pbj, took a restroom break, refilled our bottles and headed out for the 2nd half of our ride.
Unfortunately, the post-lunch heat plus a headwind that seemed to shift direction in synch with every turn we made, proved to be a bit more than we bargained for, and by the time we hit the 65 mile rest stop, our brisk pace had attenuated and we were wishing for bikes made out of something a bit cooler than carbon…
Since no one seemed to know where we could go to trade carbon for ice we settled for cooling off in the shade and drinking copious amounts of ice water.
Back on our bikes, we headed out of the rest stop and found ourselves at an intersection with directional signs that probably would have made sense when our brains hadn’t been cooking in the sun for 70-odd miles. The sign said: “100 mile, 1st time” and had an arrow pointing to the right; “100 mile, 2nd time” and had an arrow pointing to the left. Despite having a cue sheet for reference, we opted to guess at what we were supposed to do and turned left. As we rode off we did have a short conversation where I asked my dad if we shouldn’t have turned right and he replied that we had already gone that way we just didn’t see the signs because we were coming from the other direction. Oh. I pondered this for a minute and responded, ‘Why would they put the directional sign for the first turn someplace where you can’t see it? That seems a little, well, counterproductive.’ Whatever the response was, I must have found it satisfactory because we continued down the road.
We both realized that we may have chosen wrong when we passed a road sign that said “New Bern – 6 miles” and our bike computers indicated that we had completed 83 miles. Oops. I guess we should have turned right rather than left. On the other hand, there were some impressive dark clouds ahead of us, and despite my father’s trust in the forecast that the rain was not going to start for another 3 hours, it seemed to me that getting done sooner was preferable to later.
Our weather luck ran out with 3 miles to go to the finish and our last 2.5 miles were accompanied by both wind and rain. The rain kindly let up as we crossed the finish line with approximately 90 miles for the day, and 2 riders who were happy to bid adieu to their bike seats for 18 or so hours.
Sunday dawned with inauspicious grey skies and a much stronger wind than Saturday. On the bright side, the temperatures were a good 20 degrees cooler.
Although I had fantasies of maybe doing the 75 mile option on Sunday, both my dad and my rear were relieved when I suggested that we stick with our original plan and do the 50 mile option.
Sunday’s ride brought an image that I think will stay with me despite not capturing it on film. As we were heading toward the half-way point of our ride, out in the middle of residential, semi-rural nowheresville in eastern NC, we came up on a man standing at the end of his driveway, wearing a dark blue uniform (perhaps a firefighter’s uniform?) and holding a sign that read, “Thank you MS riders. I have MS.” Something about this single individual holding a hand-written sign touched me and I understood why I did the ride.
In the end, my dad and I together covered approximately 138 miles for an important cause. It was a great way to spend time with my dad and give back to a community that needs all the support it can get. You can be certain I will be back to do it again in 2013.