Monday, October 26, 2009

Hickory Knob Triathlon

A few months ago, Nathan was talking to a guy that used to coach triathletes, and Nathan mentioned that he'd like to try one. The next day, the guy showed up with a bike to borrow. Nathan was a little nervous, since it's been about five years since he's even done a road race, but decided to go for it. I don't remember how I decided to train with him- maybe because he wanted my help in the pool.

I'd been saying that I wanted a canoe for a long time- like 8 months- and he said if I did the race, I could have a canoe. That tipped me. So we started training 4-5 times a week. I could really blow his doors off in the water, but would rather not talk about the rest.

Our biggest fans-
Left-right- Eli, my sister Cleo hugging Emma, Kelly, Nathan, Jonas, Isaac.

My mom in the purple, Nathan step-mom Anna is pointing for Jojo, and Nathan's dad, Ray

Nathan on the dock. It was about 50' outside. The water was 70', which was fine when we got in...

A few weeks before the race, Nathan switched to a knee-length speedo. (There's a very important distinction, there, folks.) This cut about ten seconds off his time, and I had to push to keep up with him. After months of schooling him in the water, he was ready to graduate.

We're very grateful to the help Anna gave us- watching the kids many nights after bedtime so we could go train.

What was race day like, you ask. I slept okay- Nathan didn't. That morning I was overwhelmed by this feeling of being a phony. Like- what am I doing here? I am a WRITER. This is not comfortable to even think about! But I'd already registered (mistakenly I registered for the international distance, 1500 yd swim, 20 mile bike and 10k run, but they switched me on race day. Whew!) so I went through with it.

Nathan and the blue caps are off!

The swim was bewildering. It is really hard to swim in a straight line without the line on the bottom of the pool, but we had practiced in Lake Murray. I'm sure I wasn't weaving (haha) but other people kept bumping into me. I elbowed one lady in the face really hard, but I promise I didn't know she was there until I'd clocked her. We were going into the first turn by the buoy, and everybody switched to breaststroke, so I know she was okay.

The bike was a bit cold at first, and there were a few really big hills, but it wasn't too bad. My hardest moment came when I tried to put my water bottle back. I wove around a bit, but finally got it in. A biker passing me told me "good job"--he was relieved that I hadn't taken him out, probably. And somehow my bike developed a squeak, so all these international distance people were zipping by me on the carbon-fiber frames, and I'm going "Squeak, squeak. Squeak, squeak." Slightly embarrassing, but I lived. I'd oiled everything, and it was fine before the race.

The hard part about the run was drinking out of that paper cup and finishing by the time I passed the trash bag. We'll have to practice that next time.

Nathan's finish
500 yd swim, ten mile bike, 5K run.
How can it be a ten MILE and five KILOMETER event?
Place  Bib NAME                 Ag CITY/STATE Rank SWIM   T1  Rank    BIKE    T2   Rank RUN TIME
5.  342 NATHAN BRYSON 31 IRMO SC       6   12:59   1:57     6         33:48    0:51  5 23:31    1:13:05
2. 555 KELLY BRYSON 31 IRMO SC            1   13:49   2:31     3         46:07    0:59  2 33:02    1:36:26

My finish!

I was a little (huge understatement) disappointed that training so hard didn't make me magically thin, but apparently you have to exercise AND eat healthy, so I'm working on that. Nathan is already planning his training for next year, and I'm thinking about it. I have decided, incidentally, that I'd rather attend a writer's conference (after my manuscript is polished) and rent a canoe wherever we want to go canoeing.

The best part was this feeling of appreciation that I had when it was over- feeling that my body is capable of great things and that I can do whatever I want to do. I highly recommend it.

Can't get enough?

Friday, October 23, 2009


First of all, the Tooth Fairy visited last night. Emma's trap for fairy dust did not work, but the Tooth Fairy inadvertently (so we guess) walked across the dollar she left, leaving a very clear trail of high heel prints in gold glitter, about a size .03. Kapow! Take that, neighbors' and friends' parents! Our Tooth Fairy ROCKS!

Second, I have decided to split my writing and personal life into two separate blogs. Because "Ink Well" has been used, I am keeping my url "" for my personal life and have created a new writing blog "Book Readress". Get it? You are all welcome at either one. I just want to be free to talk about potty training without coming across as unprofessional:) I would also like to encourage you to click the button that says "Follow" because I'm not linking on Facebook every time I blog.

Third, I have a new publishing plan called "Live to be a Hundred". I was looking over Slate's list of powerful octogenarians, "80 over 80", and noticed that 18 of them were listed as writers. This is not counting the # 1 pick, President of the Mormon Church, Thomas S. Monson. He's written several books, so it should be 19/80. So roughly one out of four of the powerful octogenarians have written a book. Many of them are memoirs, but still. I tend to procrastinate, so I gave myself an extra twenty years.

Fourth, your comments make me smile.

I'm surprised we didn't get one of these letters from the Tooth Fairy.

Dear _________________ :

Thank you for leaving one [1] tooth under your pillow last night.

While we make every attempt to leave a monetary reward in the case
of lost or stolen children’s teeth, we were unable to process your
request for the following reason(s) indicated below:

( ) the tooth could not be found

( ) it was not a human tooth

( ) we do not think that pieces of chicken bone are very funny

( ) we were unable to approach the tooth due to excessive odor

( ) the tooth has previously been redeemed for cash

( ) the tooth did not originally belong to you

( ) the tooth fairy does not process fingernails

( ) your request has been forwarded to the Nerve Ending Fairy for
appropriate action

( ) you were overheard to state that you do not believe in the tooth

( ) you are age 12 or older at the time your request was received

( ) the tooth is still in your mouth

( ) the tooth was guarded by a vicious fairy-eating dog at the time
of our visit

( ) no night light was on at the time of our visit

( ) the snacks provided for the tooth fairy were not satisfactory,
or were missing

( ) we discovered evidence of unsafe tooth extraction as follows:
[ ] string
[ ] pliers
[ ] gunpowder
[ ] hammer marks
[ ] chisel
[ ] part of skull attached to tooth
[ ] no dental care
( ) other:

Thank you for your request, and we look forward to serving you in
the future.

Sincerely, The Tooth Fairy

From Funny Jokes blog.

Can't get enough?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lower the Bar, People

Imagination has officially been replaced with proof.

  1. Emma's friend put the tooth she lost into a cup and set it in a dish filled with water to catch the Tooth Fairy Dust. Emma lost a tooth yesterday and is ready to try it tonight (She took the tooth over to a cousin's house and left it there, so we got it back today).
  2. There's also this really cute book called "Elf on a Shelf" that comes with a stuffed elf that comes alive at night, but only in December. Sometimes the elves do nice things, like load the dishwasher or fold a load of laundry, but most are mischievous—pulling books of the shelf, hiding TV remotes (but we get that in other months, too, and in broad daylight), unlacing shoes.
  3. And there's reindeer feed. Oatmeal with glitter that you sprinkle on your front yard for the reindeer.

The kids love it, but I guess I'm old-school. We set out milk and cookies, Santa fills our stockings and we've heard his sleigh bells, the Tooth Fairy leaves a dollar (not always on the first night, but she makes it.), and the Easter Bunny gets better at hiding those eggs every year.

But I'm wary of glitter. I feel burdened. When I was a kid (it wasn't that long ago, really) all we needed was a present to know Santa was real. He signed the tag, for goodness' sake. How can an imaginary being sign a tag?

So, to the parents of my kids' friends, please tell Santa and the tooth fairy take it easy. Especially you, Tooth Fairy- no more ten-dollar exchanges for a worn-out baby tooth. You may use them to build your castle in the clouds, but they're not worth all that. I'm begging.

Can't get enough?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bubble boys and girls

A short narration on why my mom is cool, then directions on how to make your own bubble-house (or biosphere, if you want to sound like a smarty-pants.)

I'm a preschool home-schooler. Our little friends had a blast. Not sure where Jonas was.

My mom was one of 'those moms'. She threw giant birthday parties where everyone got their own (non mentholated) can of shaving cream, and we all put on our bathing suits and got shaving cream all over the trampoline. My sister got the gene, as evidenced by the four days she spent making a cardboard pirate ship for her daughter's birthday. My apologies for the grainy picture off Facebook, but you get the point.

Mom had a stand-up rabbit cake pan, and she made that cake into everything. Need a baby cake? Cut the ears off. Need a Carebear cake? Cut the ears off? Need a car? I don't know. It never happened, because we were all girls, but I bet she would have cut the ears off and sliced them to make wheels. (This is why, when I was 'garage sale'-ing and saw a stand-up Carebear cake, I got so excited.)

I've used it at least four times. Once as Yoda.

This pic is another FB steal from my niece's party, but that's an awesome cake.

I think there's a rabbit in there.

During my high school years, she was always fine with a bonfire, an unlimited number of guests, and no curfew on her end. And if she didn't know about the occasional explosive device, well, we just didn't bring it up. (A friend was 'interning' at a fireworks company. I got to roll the chemicals into clay like balls and make my own four inch mortar- a red ring. There. I used to be cool.)

There's a lot to live up to. But even the cool stuff I do with my kids now is at least partly inspired by her, if not an out-right gift. Like the giant bubble we made last summer.

It's like sewing for giants. You buy plastic sheeting (I think we got our a thickness of 4 mil., a 20'x30' piece, or thereabouts) and a big roll of duct tape (we recommend red) from a home improvement store.

Cut a five foot piece off of the end. This is going to be a tube that inflates it, so measure the circumference of your box fan and then cut it an inch longer. Then make it a tube- line up the seams, don't overlap- and tape them together.

Then turn it inside out and tape it on the other side. So you'll have a five foot long tube, just big enough to slip over the front of your box fan.

Now for the bubble. Fold it in half, so that it is 20' x 12.5' (remember we cut off five feet). Tape the seams together from the outside. It helps to have a friend or two to keep the tape straight.

I like an 'I' shaped door. So in one end, I cut a four foot vertical line, then made a 2 and a 1/2 foot cut across the top and the bottom. Regardless of the shape, make flaps so it can be closed and stay inflated. Then tape the raw edges, folding the tape around the edge like 'seam binding'.

Then turn it inside out, and tape the large seam around the bubble again. This makes it stronger, and prevents people from getting their hair stuck in the duct tape (you can never line up the edges PERFECTLY. At least I can'tJ)

At the other end, cut a hole the exact circumference of your tube (slightly below the midline of the fold so that when the bubble is inflated, the tube can rest on the floor), stick the tube in the opening. You can tape it, but you don't have to.

Now, attach your fan to the end of the tube and make sure your tube doesn't block the air intake. And if you don't have a box fan, you can group together a few oscillating fans (don't let them oscillate, though.) That's what I did. Don't tape all the way around the fan, just a piece or two will hold it in place.

There is a constant stream of fresh air, so don't worry about the kids suffocating. Of course, if the fans get turned off or the tube gets pulled free, the bubble will deflate. So supervise kids in the bubble.

We like to put some blankets in to walk on, because it's slippery. And move or pad hard things on the outside, because four mil of plastic doesn't make the tv stand soft.

Have fun!

My happy Jojo. His alternate state is not nearly this cute.

Can't get enough?