Category Archives: Synchronized Swimming

Forget Being the Norm. I Would Much Rather Be the Carla. Or the Woody. Maybe Not the Woody…

I was reading the Sunday paper and came across this quote in an article about the recent spate of parenting books written by inept moms, “There wasn’t this acceptance about being this sort of less-than-perfect mother, but all of a sudden it feels like that is becoming the norm, rather than the exception.”  This was spoken by Jill Smokler of

Well, that explains what I’ve been doing wrong.  I need to stop talking about what I’m doing wrong, and start talking about what I’m doing right because there are far too many other people who are talking about what they are doing wrong, and they are doing it far better than I am.  The wrong, I mean.  Well, and the talking.

So, from now on I pledge to stand out from the pack and tell you all of the things that I am doing right as a mom.  Starting today.

1.)  My daughter has eaten hamburgers three days in a row.

Why is this right?  Well, I am so glad you asked.  Even though I would think it should be obvious.  It’s right because my daughter has eaten three days in a row.  Duh.  Plus, she loves lettuce and cheese on her hamburger.  So, there you have it – all 10 food groups in one meal.  Three times.  Two more and I will have Food Bingo.

2.)  I bought my daughter a dress for her 5th grade graduation while we were shopping for clothes for me on Mother’s Day.

Why is this right?  This is another no-brainer.  We made one trip to the mall, and now I don’t have to make another trip to the mall until August.  Possibly even September if I can find a post on Pinterest on how to transform a yellow lacy dress into a backpack.

3.)  Oh. My. God.  That is the best idea.  Ever.  I am going to quit my job and support my daughter by making Graduation Dress Backpacks.

Why is this right?  Because my daughter will see how important it is to pursue your passion in life instead of saving up for retirement.

And then, she will be happy to support me in my twilight years (although I may have to explain that this is a different kind of “Twilight”) as she pursues her lifelong passion to teach bulldogs synchronized swimming.

And then we will bond even more.

I rock.

Wonderbutt pays close attention to his coach during his first synchro lesson.  To a layperson this may appear unsynchronized, but they are both actually doing the same exact thing - ignoring me.

Wonderbutt pays close attention to his coach during his first synchro lesson. To a layperson this may appear unsynchronized, but they are both actually doing the same exact thing – ignoring me.


You Should Never Leave Scientists with Nothing to Do

My antidepressant does not work in Houston or its suburbs.  I would like to know why the commercial for it did not warn me of this unfortunate side-effect.  “Can cause weight gain and completely lose its effectiveness if you are anywhere in the vicinity of the 4th biggest city in the United States.”  That’s what they should say.

Don’t ask me why it would work in the rest of Texas, but not in Houston.  All I know is that it was working fine when I left San Antonio last Friday, but as soon as we hit the Houston metropolitan area I was wondering why I hadn’t drowned myself in the toilet at the Cracker Barrel where we stopped for lunch.

I’m sure this had nothing to do with the fact that my husband questioned any and all navigation suggestions that I offered for three hours straight.

And it seems highly doubtful that the stress of my daughter’s synchronized swimming tournament would make me want to stick a bobby pin through my eye.

There was nothing remotely depressing about being accused of breaking our zillion dollar camera, “but not on purpose”, by my husband, either.  Because that made me want to stick a bobby pin in his eye – and that doesn’t really count as depression, does it?

I’m absolutely convinced that there is some kind of GPS embedded in my pills that launches a self-destruct sequence as soon as I get within 30 miles of NASA.

Wait a second.  What exactly are those guys at NASA doing right now since we no longer have a space program?

Messing with my pills, that’s what.


Just Don’t Mix Up What Goes in Your Eyes and What Goes in Your Hair and What You Plan to Drink with Breakfast Tomorrow Morning

Okay, raise your hand if you knew that pineapple juice is good for getting Knox gelatin out of your hair.  Now, raise your other hand if you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about.  Okay, put both hands down because you look kind of funny.  Not as funny as I looked with Knox on my hair a couple of nights ago, but still kind of goofy.

Now, you’re probably tempted to Google everything in my first paragraph, and you will probably find confirmation for the milk thing, maybe in the goofy thing, too.  Because the internet will confirm everything you want it to.  But, if you think the internet is the best place to learn things, then you obviously have not attended a synchronized swimming tournament.  You will get all kinds of information that you never knew you needed to know if you stick around a natatorium for three days with a bunch of experienced synchro families.

For example, if your eyes start burning from the chlorine in the pool, put milk in your eye.  Yep, you read that right.  Grab a pint from the corner store, tip your head over backwards, and douse yourself with the stuff.  Of course, it helps if you can keep the eyes open while you do this – which might explain why that home remedy didn’t work for my poor daughter.  To be fair to the milk, none of the more conventional eye drops purchased from the pharmacy helped, either.  So, I guess we can’t say that we debunked that myth, just that my daughter claims that it helped, even though she still held her eyes tightly shut for the next two hours and spurned the sun like a real vampire (not like those contemporary pseudo vampires who can apparently go wherever they want.)

You can imagine my skepticism about the whole pineapple juice thing.  A bunch of the moms mentioned their daughters had tried it, and that it really helped to get the Knox out of their hair faster.  But I have a tendency to disbelieve completely subjective statements.  If someone will conduct a scientific experiment in which everything is the same except the pineapple juice variable, and I mean everything – including the amount of Knox that was on there in the first place, then I might just give it a whirl.  Maybe.

In my Knoxing internet searches, I found a thread about using Elmer’s Glue to make your mohawk spikier.  (It’s amazing how quickly an internet search can devolve into something completely not what you were looking for.)  And I thought it might be fun to surreptitiously spread the word throughout the synchro circles that I’d heard you should mix glue with the gelatin to make the perfect shiny hair helmet. Just to see how fast it would get sprinkled all over the internet and back to me.

But no one would be dumb enough to believe that.

This is exactly how internet rumors get started.  One day you post a pic of a hare with a pineapple, and the next thing you know pineapple juice gets jello out of your hair.

This is exactly how internet rumors get started. One day you post a pic of a hare with a pineapple, and the next thing you know pineapple juice gets jello out of your hair.


Thank Goodness Mother’s Day is Right Around the Corner

So, I Knoxed my hair tonight; what have you done for your daughter lately?

Here was our conversation in the car today:
“The coach says we need to be at the pool by 7:15 am. Knoxed.”
“Hmm. I guess I’m going to have to Knox your hair then.”
“But you’ve never done it before!!!!” Complete panic.
“We’ll, I’ve got to learn some time.”
“But not now!”
“What’s wrong? Don’t you trust me?”

Full confession, My daughter has been involved in synchronized swimming for three years, and I have never Knoxed her hair. Oh, it’s been Knoxed – just not by me. And if you don’t know what I mean by “Knoxing”, it’s the wonderful secret of waterproof synchronized swimming hair. Mix hot water with Knox gelatin (unflavored, though we’ve all secretly been yearning to experiment with cherry because it could taste good and give your hair a nice tint) and paint it on wet. Then it hardens into a nice plastic helmet.

Ask 100 Synchro moms about their Knoxing technique, and they will tell you a hundred different ways to do it. The variables aren’t just the water and the unflavored gelatin packets. You can do the hair several ways, and use a variety of utensils to do the mixing and painting – including, but not limited to, a paint brush or a basting brush.

I didn’t want to fight with my daughter at 5:30 in the morning, so I thought I better settle the issue tonight. I decided to prove to her that I could mix the concoction to the right consistency since she seemed pretty doubtful that I could even do this, much less paint it on her hair. (She is right to doubt me. My sister, Crash, once tried to make Jello. It sat in the fridge for a week and never jelloed. I used to tease her relentlessly about this, and I have a feeling there is such a thing as Knoxing Karma.)

As I was mixing, it suddenly occurred to me that I should paint it on my own hair to put everyone’s doubt to rest. (I have a feeling that it is no coincidence that my medication usually wears off about the exact time of night that I had that genius idea.)

It worked, though. My daughter couldn’t believe I was doing it.

“I bet no one else’s mom can say she’s done that,” she said, proudly.

Okay, I said it. But she agreed with me.

The only problem with this great plan was that I then had to get in the shower to wash it off. That is when I realized that my daughter is not exaggerating when she complains about what a pain it is to get that glop out of her hair. I rinsed 5 times, got out to dry my hair, and realized there was still an entire section over my ear to which the goop had stubbornly clung.

So, tomorrow, if you see a 40 year old woman with hair sticking straight out of her head over her left ear, don’t point and laugh. Bend over to your child’s ear and reverently whisper, “Now there goes a great mom!”


My hair; don’t worry, I got better on the other half of my head.

Never Discount the Power of a Wicked Sense of Vitreous Humor

There is nothing like a weekend spent out of town with my 10-year-old daughter at a synchronized swimming tournament to re-affirm my complete ineptitude as a mother.

Once again, I was faced with the fact that I am unable to do the following: brush my daughter’s hair, put it in a ponytail, make a bun, mix Knox gelatin with warm water to the right consistency, paint the Knox gelatin on my daughter’s hair without burning her scalp, attach a headpiece to the plasticized hair without skewering her with a bobby pin, apply garish eye makeup, make the judges give her first place in everything, be the cool mom that lets her stay up late with her friends the night before she has to be at the pool at 7 a.m., bring her parka to keep her warm despite the fact that she told me in no uncertain terms that she would not need it, take pictures that don’t look like I was having an epileptic seizure that lasted the entire 48 hours.

But I did remember her swim bag this time.

I am not Swim Mom. I am Teach Her How to Program a Robot Mom. I am Sure, I’ll Ice Skate with you Since Your Friends Won’t Leave the Wall Mom. I am Let’s Ride the Roller Coaster and Get Scared Out of Our Wits Again Mom. I am Thank God You’re Finally Old Enough to go Ziplining with Me Mom.

And I thought that was enough.  But a weekend spent confronting my own shortcomings in the Swim Mom department was a bit defeating.  Particularly as I listened to my daughter’s pained yelps every time I attempted to do anything that might involve her scalp.

By the time we returned to school on Monday, I was feeling like one of the most incompetent mothers in history, rivaled only by the leathery mom who gave her daughter a sunburn in the tanning bed.

I halfheartedly invited Dimples to assist me in a “practice eye dissection” after school, and she agreed, “because then I don’t have to go to after-school care.”  She hates after-school care.  Another failing on my part.

When I pulled the sheep eyeballs out of the jar, the other adult assisting me had to “take a moment” before we started cutting in.  But Dimples surprisingly seemed untroubled by holding a detached organ in her gloved hands.  She approached the task of slicing the eye with great gusto that, quite frankly, had me a bit concerned about her own detachment.

Her favorite part was the inside section called “the vitreous humor”, and she plopped it up and down zealously, fascinated with the consistency.  I had a vague impression that I had seen this substance before, and finally realized where – it looked exactly like the unflavored, dissolved Knox gelatin that had been painted on her hair all weekend.

“Gross, Mom,” she groaned when I pointed this out.  But she grinned.

And I thought, “How many other daughters get to hang out with their own mother dissecting a sheep eyeball?”

You may bond with your daughter by teaching her the art of the perfect ponytail, but my daughter and I will always have our successful hunt for the optic nerve that brought us closer together.

Knoxed hair close up.  What?  Did you expect a picture of a dissected eyeball?

Knoxed hair close up. What? Did you expect a picture of a dissected eyeball?

What You Can Do While You Wait For Your Daughter to Become the Next Synchronized Swimming Champion

We were out of town at a synchronized swimming competition this weekend and I am absolutely exhausted from trying to mark time between my daughter’s performances.  So, I gift you with this wonderful motivational poster that I made with a new app I downloaded.  Feel free to share and make it the newest internet meme.  Just make sure you give Wonderbutt the credit he deserves.  He’ll eat your sofa cushions if you don’t.


Look Out Synchronized Swimmers! Wonderbutt is Headed for the Olympics.

Okay.  So, first, go to the farmer’s market and buy yourself a 70 pound watermelon.  Then, drive to Disney World (because I think you would have to pay for an extra plane ticket for the oversized fruit if you flew).  Just tell the Disney people I sent you, and I’m sure they will have no problem with you entering with a rather odd looking baby in an umbrella stroller.  Go straight to a gift shop and shell out a cool hundred bucks for a rain poncho.  Stand in line at Space Mountain for two hours.  Get in your little Space Mountain car, and buckle the watermelon into the seat beside you.  After the ride starts, try to dress your watermelon in the rain poncho before the ride ends.  Make sure you get every button snapped.  Oh, and smile for the camera.

Now you know what it’s like trying to get our bulldog, Wonderbutt, into a life jacket.


Stubborn our bulldog is.  Stubborn am I.  This time (0ne of the few times in 2 years) I won.  But just because I got him to wear it for 5 minutes on the back porch didn’t mean it wasn’t going to fly like a cowboy off a bucking bronco as soon as we got to the pond.

He seemed pretty keen on taking a walk in his strait life jacket, which made me a bit optimistic as I followed down the road to the pond.  As we neared the “tank” (as Texans like to call it), his pace quickened despite the heat.

Then we reached the water.

We all watched as the other dogs quickly strode in to the pond.  Wonderbutt walked around the edge for a bit, a little hesitantly.

Then he went deeper.

And, suddenly, he was swimming.

He. Loved. It.

Long after the other dogs had moved on to literally greener pastures, Wonderbutt continued to swim.  I finally made him stop because I was afraid he was just going to run out of gas in the middle of the pond, and I would have to go haul him out by the suitcase handle on his back.

We went back to the pond 3 more times that weekend.  Every time, my fat, attention deficit dog leapt into the water and swam until I called it off.  The last couple of trips, he even fetched a stick.

Wonderbutt never fetches.  When you throw something, he runs to get it, then races with it out to his Poop Pen so you won’t take it away from him.

But not this weekend.  This weekend, Wonderbutt was a stick-wrangling water dog.

By the end of our time on the ranch, Wonderbutt was a seat-hogging snoring dog.  Life is good.

The best car ride with Wonderbutt ever

The best car ride with Wonderbutt ever

Mixed Messages I Give My Daughter

Don’t tell my daughter that I said this, but it is entirely possible that our communication difficulties do not stem from the fact that she does not listen well enough, but rather from the fact that I talk too much…

“You can talk to me about anything.”


“No, you can’t watch The Big Bang Theory.”  Because they talk about sex, and then you might want to talk to me about something.


“Yes, you must go to bed at 8:00. It’s important for you to get a good night’s sleep.”


“You better finish that homework; I don’t care if you have to stay up until midnight.”


“You don’t need makeup.  You look beautiful exactly as you are.”


“Would you please stay still for two seconds so I can glop your lashes with mascara?” (It turns out that in synchronized swimming, natural beauty is not quite enough.)


“You should always take your time to do your best on your work.”


“Aren’t you finished, yet?  Why on earth are you taking so long?”


“Do not put personal information on the internet.”


“Do you mind if I blog about your most embarrassing moment?”


“You shouldn’t base your decisions on what other people think.”


“You should be part of this special group because the Principal invited you, and that means she thinks very highly of you.  Plus, she’s my boss.”


“You should follow your passion.”


“Are you kidding?!!  Do you have any idea how much horseback riding lessons cost?”


“I really wish you would be more adventurous and try to eat different foods.”


“I don’t care if she’s one of your friends!  When someone offers you a mysterious white substance from a Ziplock bag at lunch, YOU DO NOT ACCEPT!” (It turned out to be sea salt.)

Missed Opportunity

When I’m President, I promise to make college more affordable for your sons. They, too, will be offered scholarships for synchronized swimming.

Given my recent struggles with depression, an inefficient colon, and a bulldog who hates Halloween, I decided to drop out of the United States presidential election for this year. So, don’t write me in or anything. I don’t think you really want someone who mentally decapitates the person who spelled her name wrong on an offer for a free oil change for the car she sold 6 years ago to lead your country. Or, maybe you do.

If I was still running for president, you can bet that I would add some more pertinent issues to the national debate. Most of the topics being hurled back and forth seem to deal more with domestic problems, and I tend to have a more global view.

For example, one of the top priorities of my campaign would be to lean on the International Olympic Committee to eliminate their archaic sexist policies. They seem to think they are free and clear now that woman can box, but I refuse to turn a blind eye to the two last exclusionary sports – rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming. It’s completely unfair that men cannot compete in these sports. They have just as much right to cake on the makeup and paint their hair with Knox gelatin as the rest of the population.

And, come on, a few more handsome men in speedos or leotards certainly couldn’t be detrimental to the numbers of viewers tuning in.

More and more men have been participating in synchronized swimming, in particular, and I think it’s an international tragedy that their talents cannot be showcased on the world stage.  If Martha Raddatz does not grill Obama and Romney in the October 11th debate about their intentions for rectifying this situation, I will lose all faith in Martha and her journalistic ability to cut to the chase.

Of course, when I run in the next presidential election, I will make this a priority in my platform, as the next Summer Olympics will be right around the corner.  But I will expect the men to refine their performance a little bit more by then…

It Figures

photo credit: alfonsator via photo pin cc

To most of us, “Barracuda” brings to mind a fish – or the song by Heart.  (By the way, I looked up the lyrics to that song in the hope that I could find a good quote to use as my lead.  I realize now that I have never understood that song and never will.  It just sounds cool.)

Anyway,  to a synchronized swimming participant, “Barracuda” is the name of a “figure” – a particular position for which you can be judged during competition.

When I first heard that my daughter would be learning “Figures” in synchro, I was impressed that mathematics would be included in her twice weekly practices.  And a little hopeful that this meant I would not have to be the one who would have to teach her how to balance a checkbook.

Alas, “Figures” in synchronized swimming have a vastly different meaning.  They are also much more difficult than checkbook balancing – although I imagine some sort of balancing comes in handy for this event.

In Figures events, there are 4 judging groups situated around the pool.  The participants all wear black swimsuits and white caps.  Split into 4 groups by a random draw order, the girls are all assigned numbers.  When told, they enter the pool individually, swim in front of the judging station, and perform the figure that is called out.  Then the judges hold up scores, which are called out and written down.  The swimmer then moves on to the next judging station, continuing until she has performed 4 different figures.

This all sounds very straightforward.  But I have never attended a meet in which mass chaos did not erupt during Figures.  And last weekend lived up to my expectations.

Say, for example, that your daughter is number 31, and she is the first person at Judging Station #3.  When she is finished at #3, the next logical step would be to move to Judging Station #4, then #1, and lastly #2.

This was what Dimples started to do, as directed by one of the Adults in Charge.  The rest of the Judging Station #3 group lined up behind her at #4 while they waited for the group that had begun at #4 to finish.

But when Dimples got in the water, finally, at #4, and they called a number, it was not her number.  And when she told them her number, they told her that she was in the wrong place.

After discussion amongst 3 different Adults in Charge, Dimples’ entire group, like a line of ducklings, was walked over to the other side of the pool to a different judging station.  With different Adults in Charge who did not agree with this change in rotation.  After more discussion, the line waddled back to station #4.  Where they were told in no uncertain terms to go back.

Keep in mind that all of the scorers have papers for every participant, by number, so wherever they landed they were eventually going to be scored anyway.

Also, keep in mind that the girls are wet and cold out of the water, and probably a bit rattled after being given conflicting directions from a variety of adults within the span of 10 minutes.

Finally, Dimples’ group was shuffled to a completely different judging station, where they continued their Figures competition.

Later, when Dimples saw the Figures results, she was devastated that she was not in the top 3.  And much later, when the hosting team realized they forgot to include their own team members in the results, my poor daughter’s rank fell even more.

I sat in the stands wondering: A.) why does this happen at every meet?, 2.) how hard is it to put numbers on the judging stands and tell the swimmers to go to a certain number?, III.) you would think in a sport with this many rules, they would have a rule International Law about going clockwise or counter-clockwise EVERY time to avoid this confusion,

and 4.) If I was a barracuda, I would totally rip those judges to pieces.

Witnessing this inescapable disarray at every meet is even more stressful than balancing my checkbook, and that’s saying a lot

%d bloggers like this: