Not Your Average Summer Bucket List

Last summer I made myself a Summer Bucket List.

I had a whole bunch of quintessential summer experiences I wanted to cram into a couple of months.

I’ve also been known to make a Christmas Bucket List in the past.

So the kids have experienced these in the past.

This summer though, the only bullet point on my bucket list is for nobody in this house to actually kick the bucket.

This summer is just about survival.

Except for Number 4 who, out of nowhere, came downstairs with her own Summer Bucket List the other day.

This was not a suggestion from me.

Like I said, I can’t put any extra pressure on myself this year.

I’m just trying to avoid blood, fire and nervous breakdowns for the next 64 days.

Not that I’m counting or anything.

Anyway, I thought her list was pretty awesome. So I thought I’d share it with you:

Number 4’s Summer Bucket List

  • Read at least 15 books. AT LEAST!!!
  • Make SLIME (okay — that one is NOT cute. I hate that one)
  • Spend more time outside than on electronics.
  • Run 60 miles.
  • Go to all, ALL practices (swim practices)
  • Work out every day. Every DAY.
  • Be nice to everyone (especially family) (I have taken a picture of this to use as a reminder)
  • Do all my chores (and even more)  (I have taken a picture of this, too, to use as a reminder)
  • Spend more time reading.
  • Do super, SUPER well at Age groups (a big swim meet in CT in July)
  • HAVE FUN!!!

Sounds like a plan to me. In fact, it’s more of a list of healthy life habits than a bucket list.


Sometimes you are setting an example for your kids.

And sometimes they are setting one for you.


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My Daughter Is My Hero

Number 4 left for the Eastern  Zone Swimming Championships (Zones) last Wednesday.

If you missed the post last week, this was the first goal in a series of goals she had set for herself last year. And for the last six months, she worked her butt off, never losing sight of her goals.

The first goal was to be the fastest swimmer in her age group in the state in one of her events.

The second goal was to make it to Zones.

The third goal was to finish in the Top 10 at Zones and make it up onto the podium.

Two weeks ago, at a different swim meet called Age Group Championships (basically like state championships for younger swimmers), Number 4 officially qualified for Zones.

But she just missed out on that first goal of being the fastest swimmer in the state in one of her events by .08 seconds.

Eight hundredths.

It was a great race.

So she just missed goal  #1.

But goal #2 was crossed off the list.

That left goal #3.

She spent the last two weeks barely able to contain herself.






She was literally squealing for  ten straight days, with the decibel level increasing with each passing hour.

Last Wednesday the day finally arrived, and Number 4 boarded the bus and hit the road with the Connecticut team.


Seeing her get on that bus was one of my most fulfilling parenting moments to date. For real.

My husband and I headed up to the meet on Thursday night.

She had two events on Friday and one on Saturday.

I didn’t think I was going to be nervous. I wanted her to swim well and be able to check off that third goal, but getting to the meet was the big accomplishment, and I really just wanted her to soak in and enjoy the whole experience.

I was okay until about five minutes before her first race.

And then I started sweating.

She was having so much fun at the meet. I knew she’d be okay however she swam in her races.

But when your ten-year-old kid works her butt off and does it all on her own, when all the motivation is internal, when she’s focused and disciplined and has gotten up every Saturday morning at 6:15 a.m. for the last five months to go to her sixth practice of the week because she knows that’s what it’s going to take to achieve her goals, well, you want things to go her way.

Her biggest chance to get into the Top 10 was on Saturday. Her last event. It was her strongest one.

So my goal for her on Friday was to have at least one good swim so that she’d go into Saturday feeling positive and confident. That’s all.

Her first race was the 100 IM (one length of each stroke).

She went into the meet seeded 10th. She had a chance to squeeze into the Top 10 if she swam well.

She was happy going up to the blocks. She didn’t look nervous. She looked like she was having fun.

But she had even more fun when she touched the wall with a best time and finished in eighth place overall.


She made it onto the podium in her first race. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!!

The CT coaches bring fun hats, sunglasses, ties and wigs for the kids to wear at the meet.

She was ecstatic.

I was ecstatic, too. And relieved. It didn’t matter what happened now.

She had done it.

In her second event on Friday, she swam well, but she finished 14th. It wasn’t a surprise. She finished about where we expected she would.

She was going into her last event the next day feeling happy and confident.

I was nervous for this one. She already had a medal and had gotten onto the podium, but this was her best event, she was seeded seventh going into it, and I was just really hoping things were going to go her way.

She came up about a body length behind everyone on the start. (Note to self, fix Number 4’s damn backstroke start).

So she had quite a bit of ground to make up.

Just as she had done two weeks earlier, she made up for lost time with every length she swam. I was alternating between watching her and covering my eyes, peeking through the cracks in my fingers.

She had a great finish, and she ended up….

in sixth place!


She had done it again!


But there was more.

She did a best time.

Not by a lot, but by a couple tenths.

She dropped her time from a 1:07.67 to a 1:07.45.

And that new time? The 1:07.45?

It’s the number one time in the state for her age group.

Goal Number 1. CHECK.

She did it.

She did it all, checked every goal off of the list, and I am so, so, so, so, SO proud of her.

Dream, believe, achieve.

Sometimes you inspire your kids.

But other times?

Other times, they inspire you.


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Next Stop, Webster, New York

As you all know, I spent this past weekend at a pretty big swim meet with Number 3 and Number 4.

And at this meet, it was Number 4’s goal to swim well enough to qualify for an even bigger meet where the best of the best on the East Coast swim called Zones.

She had set this goal for herself exactly a year ago when Number 3 qualified for the meet.

Knowing it was a goal of hers, I took her to Webster, NY with me last year to watch Number 3 swim.

Number 4 was mesmerized.

It’s a pretty cool experience. And as far as age group swimmers are concerned, it’s a big deal.

They have a big podium at the meet, and the top six or eight finishers in each event are given awards, just like at the Olympics.

In fact, last year they had a former Olympian placing the medals around the necks of the winners.

And as soon as Number 4 saw that, she said, Next year I’m coming here. And next year I’m going to be on that podium.

She didn’t just want to make it to Zones. She wanted to make it to the Zones podium.

So going into this past weekend, I have to be honest.

I have never been so nervous about anything since becoming a mother, and quite possibly, in my entire life.

And I’m not exaggerating.

The first day of the meet was last Thursday, and on Wednesday I hardly slept at all.

As you also know, I’m Number 4’s coach. I knew she had big goals for herself.  And if she didn’t meet them, well, I’d feel responsible for that.

And if she was gonna get on that Zones podium, I had to first get her to Zones.

She had six events to swim over the course of four days.

Her best shot to make it to  Zones was on the third day of swimming.

I really didn’t want to  wait until that third day. I couldn’t handle three nights of no sleep.

I tried not to let on that I was totally freaking out.

But I was.

Her first event was the 500 Freestyle on Thursday. That’s 20 lengths of the pool. It’s not her strongest event, so I wasn’t expecting her to qualify in that. I just wanted her to swim well so it set the tone for the rest of the meet and so she was happy.

She swam a great race, she dropped nine seconds, and she finished fourth.

The top three in each event go to Zones, so she just missed it.

I didn’t expect her to swim as fast as she did, so I was very happy.

But I was also still pooping in my pants.

On Friday she had two events. The 200 Freestyle (8 lengths) and the 100 Individual Medley (or IM as it’s called — one length of each stroke). I wasn’t expecting much from the 200 Free since she’s not really a freestyler, but I thought she had a decent shot in the 100 IM.

She swam the 200 Free first. She did a best time.

And she finished in 3rd place.

She made Zones in an event I never even thought she’d make it in.


Being the coach, I clenched my jaw as tight as I could and I pushed back the lump in my throat. I had a whole bunch of swimmers there, and I didn’t want to lose it in front of them (or any of the other coaches).

Being the mom, as soon as there was a break, I went into the bathroom and I cried like a baby in the bathroom stall.

I was proud and excited and happy and shocked and emotionally drained already and I still had two more days to go.

But now the pressure was off. Now we could really just have fun and enjoy all the hard work she had put in.

She ended up swimming really well in the 100 IM and finishing 4th. But due to someone in front of her not going to Zones, Number 4 was bumped up a spot, and she made it into that event, too.

So she had two events under her belt at the end of Friday.

Day 3, Saturday, was her big day. The 100 Backstroke. Her strongest event. The event I originally thought she’d qualify in.

The nerves were back. Because Number 4 was really hoping to win the whole thing, and of course, so was I.

She had a terrible start, and she came up about half a body length behind the girl next to her.

By the time she got to the third turn, she was about a head behind her.

On the last lap, she was reeling her in.

They were neck and neck.

You know that crazy mom on the sidelines of the baseball game or the soccer game or in the stands at the basketball game or the football game or the swim meet?

The one that is totally out of control and screaming like a lunatic and everyone is staring at her saying, Holy shit, Woman, calm the f*ck down?

Yeah. That was me on the pool deck when Number 4 was swimming.

I was out of my mind.

And I may have peed in my pants a little bit.

Number 4 and the girl next to her appeared to touch the wall at the same time, and all the coaches immediately turned to look at the scoreboard.

There were 2 times on the board.

1:07.59 and 1:07.67

Number 4 finished second by .08 of a second.

She came so close to winning.

But she swam her ass off, and never in a million years did I think she’d swim that fast.

Knowing she was my swimmer (but not my kid), a coach next to me from another team looked at me and said, “That was a hell of a race.”

“That was my daughter,” I told him.

I might have cried right there, and he may have thought I was a psycho.

But I don’t care.

Number 4 was amazing.

So she ended up qualifying for Zones in three events.

She leaves next Wednesday.

And part one of the goal she set for herself a year ago has been accomplished. Make it to Zones.

Will she make it up onto the podium once she’s there?

We’ll just have to wait and see.

But if I was the betting kind — if someone forced my hand — I’d go all in that she’s definitely gonna do it.


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I Hope Dreams Really Do Come True

As many of you know, Number 4 is a pretty good swimmer.

She’s got lots of natural talent, plus a body that was made for the sport.

That’s part of the reason she’s a good swimmer. But the bigger part is that she also loves it.

Last night as we were driving home from practice, she said to me, “Mom, I go to school because I have to. But I go to swim practice because I want to. I live for swimming.”

For a year, Number 4 has had the goal of  qualifying for a really big swim meet called the Eastern Zones Championship, or Zones as it’s called in the swimming community.

It’s a meet for the best of the best on the East Coast, and there are some amazing swimmers there.

To give you and idea of the caliber of swimmers who swim in this meet, Michael Phelps swam in it when he was ten. And he still holds a bunch of meet records.

Number 4 isn’t on the same level that Michael Phelps was when he was ten, but she’s one of the best in the state.

Plus it’s a pretty big honor to make it, and it’s a great opportunity.

As many of you also know, I coach swimming.

And I’m Number 4’s coach.

When she first told me last April that her goal was to make it to Zones, as her coach I told her what she’d need to do.

I told her she’d need to work harder than everyone else. I told her she’d really need to focus when she was in the pool. I told her she’d need to attend more than four practices a week which is the minimum number of practices the kids in her group are supposed to attend. And I told her she’d need to do extra work outside the pool.

As her mom, I put no pressure on her. I didn’t push her to do anything above and beyond the minimum requirements.

Sure, I want her to succeed and I want her to achieve the goals she’s set for herself.

And as her coach I do everything I can to help her when she’s in the pool.

But as her mom, I’m trying really hard to maintain perspective, to be supportive and not to push her.

I’m not gonna lie.

It’s hard. It’s a fine line to walk. It’s hard to transition from mom to coach and back to mom on a daily basis.

So we are at the end of the season.  Number 4 has her last big meet this weekend called Age Groups. It’s a four day meet that runs from Thursday through Sunday, and it’s her last chance to qualify for Zones.  She’s swimming 6 events, and she has a shot at qualifying in just about all of them.

As her coach and her mom, I’m so proud of her.

She has worked her ass off since September.

She’s gone to six practices a week.  Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday she came to the pool early with me, and while I coached another group, she ran on the track, and did circuits of strength training on her own.

I gave her ideas of what she could do and helped her come up with a plan, but I never forced her or guilted her into anything.  She did it all on her own, always pushing herself, and always with her eye on the prize: Qualifying for Zones.

I don’t think there is really anything more she could have done.

So now we just have to wait and see.

She is so excited to swim this weekend she is nearly bursting out of her own skin.

She’s nervous. But she’s also confident.

She says to me, Mom, I just keep envisioning myself going to Zones. I’m not doubting myself. I just know I’m going to do it.


I’m totally freaking out.

As her mom, I want to see her succeed so badly, because nobody has worked harder than she has. And because of course no parent wants to see their kid work so hard to achieve something and ultimately fail.

As her coach, I feel the same way. Nobody has worked harder than her in or out of the pool, and it was all internally motivated.

I’m so inspired by her.

But as her coach, I am also so nervous.

Because although I know I’ve done everything I can to help her, if she doesn’t qualify for this meet, I will have failed her.

And then I will have failed her as a mom, too.

I know.

I haven’t really failed her.

And I know I shouldn’t even be thinking this way.

But I am.

One of the perks of parenthood.

I waiver from being completely confident that I’ve done exactly what she needs in order to achieve her goals to being scared shitless that I’ve fucked something up.

And I know that’s silly. I know I shouldn’t even put those crazy nervous thoughts out there into the universe.

But they are for sure running through my head pretty much 24/7. I am in complete freak out mode.

Any other parent in this position, although I would hope they wouldn’t, could point the finger at the coach if their kid fails.

But I have to point it at myself.

There isn’t a whole lot to be done now.

The piper has been paid. The money is in the bank. It’s up to her now.

As her mom I really want to see her happy. But I’m trying to keep my wits about me and keep things in perspective.

She’s only ten. It’s not like it’s Olympic Trials or anything.

But it’s a really big deal for Number 4. It’s the first big dream she’s really had.

And as her coach?

Well, no coach wants their athletes to fail.

And as her coach, I really, really, REALLY want to be the one to help her make her dreams come true.


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