Monday, August 22, 2016

I kept my cool on a 3 hour accidental solo flight with a toddler (and I owe it to coaching golf)

Last week the kiddo and I piggy backed on a business trip my husband took, grabbing a ticket on the the first leg of his Southwest flight that happened to connect through my parent's city. The plan was that he would continue on to his destination, and then at the end of the week we'd reconnect again when he made his layover and we would all fly back home together. I was very excited to go home for a week and see family, especially on a week when I would be parenting on my own the entire time.

We felt very confident in this plan. We flew one month prior as a family to Colorado for vacation, and I had done a LOT of prep work to make that flight as painless as possible. We found that an early flight suited our style best, since we didn't want to bank on him needing to nap on a plane. In the wee hours of the morning, we got ourselves up and dressed, loaded the car, and then scooped him up in his jammies to snap him into his car seat. He is the type of kid who can adapt to an earlier wake up call easier than a belated nap, and this worked wonders for us. Pooped from the excitement of travel, he was passed out in my arms the minute we took off. Later in the flight, the seat we purchased for him would prove its worth when he woke up and needed space to wiggle and play.

So this time we thought we could replicate the same magic, even though it was a different airport and different carrier. Southwest doesn't assign seats, so we gambled that we would be able to reserve ourselves an entire row and decided not to purchase the extra seat since it was so last minute that the cost was just ridiculous. And if we did have to hold him, at least there would be two of us to help each other out in a pinch.

We woke up that morning at the first sound of the alarm, and whisked the wee one into the car for the 40 minute drive to the airport. We parked, took the bus to the terminal, and were just getting into a good travel groove when we got a rude awakening.

Southwest demands proof of a lap baby's age in order to issue a ticket. This has never happened to us any of the other times we've flown (which was several times before he even turned one) on any other carrier (again this was our first Southwest flight with him). They prefer a birth certificate but will take an immunization record.

Neither of which we had.

And the ticket agents and their supervisors wouldn't budge. So I was moved to a later flight to allow time to get the required documents. Unfortunately, however, my husband's flight had to be coordinated through his work's travel agent. This meant that we would be split up for the outbound flight.

Until this point, I had never flown with my child on my own, and I was about to do so with a not-yet-two-year-old who would have to be in my lap the entire time.

Since we hit rush hour heading home and back, the length of the drive tripled. But we finally made it back to the airport with a copy of his birth certificate. Keep in mind that at this point we had been up since 4:30 a.m. and would have been a third of the way into our flight. The baby slept in the car, which wasn't the plan either, but who could blame him. We, on the other hand, found the nearest drive through for coffee, which we don't even drink. I knew immediately I would have to rule out him napping on the flight and just tried to stay calm so that I would be my best toddler-wrangling self on a packed flight.

My husband's flight was later than ours so he saw us off. We paid for the upgrade to early boarding which got us on the plane first after anyone who needed special assistance. My plan was to take an aisle seat up front on the same row as a young boy traveling on his own who had a window seat, because I figured that would be a sure deterrent to anyone in their right mind, and maybe the kids would entertain each other.

I let the kiddo play around in the middle seat as the general boarding continued, and it seemed as if my plan would work. Then, at the very last minute, he climbed into my lap for a cuddle right as the very last person boarded. She wasted no time and settled in the center seat. There was exactly one more seat available but it was much further back between two large men, so I guess you pick your poison in that case.

Deep breath, I remember thinking. Deep breath, friendly face.

From coaching golf, I learned that I have the power to set the tone I want -- or at least the power to control the tone I set for myself. I can't always control others around me, but by staying calm and in the present, I can hope for at least positive interactions with others.

Of course, I would always want my team to play their best. That's obvious; we wanted low scores and knew we were capable of them. But the best golfers know that the game is full of uncontrollables. Maybe you'll hit a beautiful drive, but an outside agency will move it away from the fairway. Maybe it will be completely silent during your backswing but on your follow through your competitor sneezes. Maybe there's a freakish snap in the weather mid-round.  Maybe, as happened to my team in the last tournament I coached, your team is one stroke off the lead in the final round and playing amazingly, but a big storm comes through forcing the event to be called, and you lose the biggest tournament of the year by one stroke.

Uncontrollables are all around, and what I learned from coaching golf is that I can either decide to be a victim or tell myself that I'm in power. I can tell myself how fortunate I am that this is the problem I am facing when there are so many others in the world who have it so much worse than me. The decision to be capable is almost more powerful than whether or not you actually are.

This is how I've tried to parent -- calm, present, grateful, and positive -- and sitting down on that plane I made myself make the choice to be that person with not only my child, but with every other traveler around me. It was a choice I would have to remind myself to make over and over again on the flight. I reminded myself to be grateful that this was a travel problem

And we got through it. He was about as good as one could hope a toddler would be. Cranky at times but not terrible. We were lucky that the two things I feared most did not happen: a huge toddler tantrum meltdown, and a huge diaper blow out. And honestly the rest of the flight was a blur, skipping around activity to activity and making small chat with my seat mates.

As the plane touched down a woman seated behind me told me I was "the best mom." She said that I "was totally in his groove" and "perfect for him." I'm not saying this to brag, rather it just felt so nice to hear those things after such a long travel day because it really did not feel like I was any of those things.

And before I get any more unintentionally preachy, I'll end it here. Thanks for reading about my experience sharing 17 inches of an airline seat for three hours with my toddler. I'd love to hear back from anyone with the similar experience of applying important life skills learned from one discipline to something seeimingly unrelated!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

CONGRATS, Inbee Park, on Olympic Gold!

Queen Bee, I almost forgot about you before this Olympics. Shame on me! Park in my opinion is a player with a game that isn't flashy, which always makes it fun to watch her win against other players whose game may have style, but are rocky in substance in comparison. Good for her for coming through this week to win all week long.
I genuinely enjoyed keeping up with the scores of women's golf's return to the Olympics, even if I thought the broadcast to be painstakingly dull (in comparison to usual televised golf).

After predicting Lydia Ko would medal, I'm glad to see she battled back to Silver after a rocky start. I kind of figured she would dominate all four days, but it was truly more exciting to see her dig in like she did and play so well under pressure.

On team USA, I was happy to see Stacy Lewis post some awesome scores as well and I was really rooting for her. I was sad for her that a medal didn't happen even after she came so close, missing a birdie on the 18th that would have forced a playoff for bronze. It was SO. CLOSE. Gerina Piller had a great week too, especially day two when she tied for second and it must have been tough to not medal being paired with the lead group.

Fingers crossed that the IOC keeps golf in at least through 2020. I'd like to see several things changed (not that they're asking me, but still), such as team golf.

As for me, the league championship is coming up but it's looking like I won't be able to get in two of the three necessary rounds in order to have my scores count. I'm sad, but it is what it is. I still have a week or two to try to solidify a baby sitter so I can at least play in one of them. The good news is that it seems like the summer heat is (relatively) breaking and the cooler weather of fall is (somewhat) flirting with us. So that should make it better to play with this growing bump of mine!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

My thoughts on a not-yet-finished Olympics

What are your thoughts on golf's return to the Olympics this year after 112 years? Mine are mixed. I very much want this to be something that works, but so far the whole thing just feels.... underwhelming. Here are my admittedly premature, and completely unsolicited, thoughts as I watch round two of the women's event (which in my opinion has been better than the men's, if I'm being honest).

Annika is awesome. Dear television, please use Annika Sorenstam more often for your Golf broadcasts. And have her do men's events too, she has actual experience on both tours. I just love her perspective, and she doesn't say anything stupid. For some reason the Olympic broadcast has been so much more boring than normal golf broadcasts, but Annika is helping me stay interested.

Ryder Reminder. Commercials for the Ryder Cup are all the evidence we need that Olympic Golf needs to be a team event, not just an individual event. There would be so much more drama and excitement! 

2020 Sights. I think the whole event will have a better sense of spectator excitement in Japan, which has a much bigger golf fan base. And I hope they pick an existing course with some tradition to its name. Hopefully when the IOC reviews golf in 2017 they'll leave it in so we can test this hypothesis!

The least important critique. I hate to feel this shallow, because this is totally the least important thing about any sport, BUT: the team uniforms of all countries have been a complete disappointment. This  is the Olympics! Where is the exuberance, the style, the pride and pageantry? Why is everyone dressed like they are on a zero budget high school golf team? If the sport is going to have the least exciting broadcast of any event, at the very least the fashion can be a little more flashy. The only highlights are the subtle "Svergie" vertical block print on team Sweden's uniforms (that you can barely see on TV, which is unfortunate) and Great Britain's attempt at a large graphic, which at least took a stab at being fun. Doesn't hurt that the golfer wearing it took gold in the men's event.
Great Britain golf uniform, worn by gold medalist Justin Rose. I may not be crazy about it, but at least they tried to have some pizazz. Photo:

I'm rooting for Stacy Lewis to keep first, but things shook up so much that the final rounds will be exciting!

What are your thoughts? Who are you rooting for?

Friday, August 12, 2016

My New Role Model, Olympic Gold Medalist Kristin Armstrong

"Because I can."

That's what Kristen Armstrong said after winning her third Olympic gold medal in cycling.

The Olympics celebrates youth, and always manages to point out that an athlete is "old" if she's in her twenties or thirties. So it's probably tough for an elite athlete to have the narrative be about her age (Kristin turned 43 the day after her big win) instead of her epic ability. Somehow, Kristin Armstrong seems to own it, though, and I find her to be a total bad-ass because of it. She came out of retirement, recovered from hip surgeries, works a real day job, and is a mother on top of that. And oh yeah, she's been on top of the Olympic podium THREE CONSECUTIVE TIMES.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't see my thirties and forties as a scary time to slow down and accept aging. Even though some things aren't what they were like when I was in high school or college, I actually feel most things getting better with time, even after having one baby and another one being on the way. There's still a lot that I want to accomplish in my sport and I know I have the time to get there, if I can work for it.

She's just so inspiring for that reason. I keep having flashes of her image, collapsed near the finish line asking if she won, then in tears of joy and exhaustion as she held her son moments after the race.

I haven't been able to golf much lately (this week's reasoning being a lack of a baby sitter), so it means I got to go to my favorite indoor cycling class at the gym. With Armstrong as my inspiration, I think I got the best sweat I've gotten in a while. I'm desperately seeking a sitter so that I can play in the league championship next month though and hope to be back at it before this baby bump gets too much in the way.

Congrats, Kristin Armstrong!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Celebrate #NationalGolfMonth with the Perfect Summer Day at the golf course.

Celebrate #NationalGolfMonth with the Perfect Summer Day at the golf course. #golfoutfit #golfstyle #putter #nikegolf #titleist #womensgolf

It's HOT, y'all. Hot enough to have me dreaming of how my younger self might have been able to spend some of these scorching days with no responsibilities to a toddler. It would have been at the course, doing some drills until nearly dizzy from heat and then immediately plunging into the pool with a cold drink!

Banana Republic graphic t shirt

NIKE tennis skirt

Birkenstock shoes
$180 -

NIKE sun visor

Cynthia Rowley iphone earbud

La Roche Posay sun care

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Olympics are here! My Picks for the Golf Gold

I've always had a super soft spot for the Olympics. In middle school computer class we were asked to make a Power Point project and I did mine on the Olympics. I distinctly remember clipping around a photo of a figure skater (probably Tara Lapinksi), and making an animated slide transition where that clipping "twirled" around before a swipe to the next slide.

I also did a Photoshop project where I put my face on the body of a penguin. It was insanely weird.

Had it not been because of the reinstatement of golf in the games this year, I might have decided to just skip watching them all together -- as a way to opt out of my conflicting feelings about loving sports but not agreeing with how the modern games are a mess for host cities, and therefore detrimental to sports in general. Feel free to roll your eyes at me if you must, I'm used to that by now.

But like I said, golf pulled me back in this year, and I'm excited! Whether or not this is the best format for golf (like Matt Kuchar, I too would prefer team scoring!), it's a great opportunity for the game to be a part of this audience. The games start this weekend but golf will kick off next week.

While team format would be awesome, it will be individual stroke play. So here's my totally-amateur, non-invested picks for who will be on the podium at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.


Photo: Wikipedia

Lydia Ko, New Zealand - duh. She comes into the games as one of the most dominant players, male or female, on any tour right now, and is currently number one in earnings and the CME rankings.

photo: Wikipedia
Brooke Henderson, Canada - Another teenager, I think Brooke has a natural talent like Lydia but a more athletic style which will be fun to watch. She beat Ko a few months back at the KPMG Championship in a playoff and is currently ranked second going into the games -- I'm hoping for another showdown.

Any of Team USA - particularly Gerina Piller, though. Of the three, she's the one that had to fight for her spot through her performance at the U.S. Open, which fires up the underdog fan in me. But all three (Piller, Stacy Lewis, and Lexi Thompson) really seem to "get" what it means to represent your country, and naturally I'll be rooting for them.

Henrik Stenson, Sweden - I must admit, it was almost boring watching him play at the Open Championship at Royal Troon this summer. He just hit every fairway and every green, and unlike Phil who seemed to be playing golf like a human, Henrik looked like a golf machine. Despite that, he's my favorite going into the 2016 Games.

Rickie Fowler, USA - I'll admit to not being a regular fan of Rickie, and for no reason in particular (sometimes deciding to be a fan or not of anything is purely subjective nonsense). But if I were making a bet this one would be a gut choice and I would put my money down with no regrets.

Sergio Garcia, Spain - for no other reason than that he will put on an amazing show.

Who are your picks? How will you be enjoying the 2016 Olympics this year?