Monday, February 27, 2017

swim swam swum

The countless miles, the pools of tears (both happy and sad), the life-long friendships---my swimming career without a doubt has been both one of the greatest joys and the greatest challenges in my life.

I left these girls after high school with a little part of me wondering if I could really live without them. And thinking that I could never find another group of people that knew my story that well---and not just the swimming part, the everything part.

Yet, after four years, that pool deck at West Gym was just as much home as anywhere else. And these people were also family---with even more sordid blackmail stories than the people above. Thank goodness there were no smart phones in college. I shudder at the thought. Madonna's Like a Prayer will never be the same ...

But I mildly digress, this really started as my emotional outpouring of the fact that J1 is officially signed up for her first age-group swim team. I'm so excited for my mini-me!

My dear J1, I hope you have so much fun this summer. I can't wait to cheer for you. I can't wait to wave to you when you step up on the block and look around to see if we are there. We will be. Always. It might be hard. It might not always be fun. But be brave. Make friends. Take chances. Swim your little heart out. And above all, know that we are always here and always proud of you. My wish for you is that this sport brings you as much joy as it has brought me.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

six years ago

The other morning, Facebook reminded me that six years ago we were two days into what was initially planned as a two-day road trip but quickly devolved into three days after the non-stop crying of J1 (then Baby J---and the idea of J2 was completely out of the question) from Minnesota to Phoenix via Kansas City, somewhere in Oklahoma and Santa Fe. Still fairly deep in the throes of PPD, we were leaving the snow and heading to Phoenix---where the only thing we knew awaited us was an apartment complex vaguely reminiscent of Melrose Place and my new job.

It was quite the adventure. There was the shady service that Gus hired to drive his car so we wouldn't have to drive both cars, the service that didn't actually show up and we ended up driving two car anyway. There were hundreds of CDs filled with 90s music, Hunger Games audiobooks, many many miles, two walkie-talkies, a dog and a four-month old baby. I was pumping at rest stops without bothering to use one of those covers. My boobs felt like an all you can eat buffet. There were simply no more f*cks to be given. After day one on the road it became self-evident that J1 would ride with Gus because he could reach back and hand her a bottle while driving. So it was me and Carl Rove in that Rav4 for miles and miles. Good times.

And yet we survived. That move was a turning point for us. A fresh start. It certainly wasn't easy. It wasn't always fun. But I think it sort of made us realize that together is all we needed to be. And together we could accomplish just about anything. We also realized that given the fact that J1 refused to go in a car seat for the next several weeks that we had probably also irreversibly scarred our first born. Thankfully, she appears to have turned out OK, at least for now.

That single moment, a little over six years ago, when I called Gus from the airport in Phoenix and told him they had made me an offer we probably couldn't refuse, drastically changed the trajectory of our lives. In all good ways, for the most part.

Yet even after six years, I still desperately miss my family---my brother and parents in particular. We planned a quick weekend in Minnesota, which unintentionally marked the six year anniversary of saying good-bye for good. Perhaps it was a subconscious choice. We stayed with my brother, which is where our initial journey had started. On Monday after we said our good-byes, J1 was fighting back the tears because she "missed them so much already." Can't say I blame her because I was doing the same.

Home. It's where my heart and family are. Can that be in two different places? Six years ago, I decided the answer to that question was going to have to be yes.

AND NOW with an extra Chunglund in tow

Monday, February 6, 2017


Because math ...
The one and only Gus Chung turned 40 last Saturday. My goal was an epic, but low stress birthday party to celebrate the man, the myth and the legend. Thank you so much to everyone who came out on Saturday to celebrate this guy. Sorry for any life threatening injuries. Glad you all signed liability waivers. Sorry I thought it was a good idea to do the running man at the bar. But the jukebox. So good.

bask in the glory, B!
And a special thanks to Celine for not letting me drink all the Fireball. She is a good friend, that one.

40 and still hot!
Happy Birthday, Gus! Much love to my favorite husband. You are most definitely 40 and still hot!

Friday, February 3, 2017

because this

Through all the madness. Actual madness. I've struggled with how to proceed with daily life. Like I get it. These are strange times we are living in. Limits, friendships, acquaintances are all being tested. We are learning things about people that maybe we hadn't previously discovered.

Am I to be on the front line at every protest, writing postcards to my representatives, signing every petition that pops up in my social media feed? And if I don't, am I somehow condoning the madness?

Or is it OK to just be barely keeping my head above water remembering lunch money, mass day, pajama day, dress like your 100-year old lady day ... and don't forget 80s day, grandparents day, and that you have to send in a recipe with photos of your child for the auction? Is it OK to be barely hanging on by a thread to the mundane amidst the chaos?

For what it's worth, I'm going to say, YES. It is OK. At least for me.

Because this ... a commencement address by Barbara Bush at Wellesley---where she says:

"But whatever the era, whatever the times, one thing will never change: Fathers and mothers, if you have children, they must come first. You must read to your children and you must hug your children and you must love your children. Your success as a family, our success as a society, depends not on what happens in the White House but on what happens inside your house."

 It was re-posted in the Washington Post, so I'm just going to assume it's legit. Feel free to debunk.

Regardless of her political affiliation. THIS. It is not untrue. Gus and I, as parents, control the narrative in our household---not Huffington Post, Fox News, CNN, fill in the blank with your favorite (or most hated) news source.

We will continue to teach Kindness. Love. Honesty. Tolerance. Despite, or perhaps in spite of, the workings of the outside world at the moment. If/when the parade of horribles ensues, I fully intend to continue raising amazing human beings, who will persevere---break glass ceilings, show compassion for others, and respect differences. And if that parade of horribles makes my parenting job harder than it already is (dear Lord help me) I, too, will persevere in my quest to raise critical thinkers who can independently analyze each situation, incite thought provoking discussion, and solve problems.

For this to occur, I need to be here. With these people. This is not to say that I am not also with YOU and your resistance. With you, I am one voice of many. With them, I am the voice---the most important one. And for now, that is where I focus. It is truly what I can control and where I feel like I have the most influence for future success of this society. Or perhaps I'm delusional and think entirely too highly of my parenting skills. A definite possibility.