My First Race – Dragon Boat Racing

IMG_3594I heard a team captain say they were “short” one woman to be able to form a team for the Dragon Boat races that were coming up, so I shyly raised my hand.  DONE – I was part of the team!

Our day started at 5 AM on Saturday. We had to drive to the location, set up and prepare for the day’s events. A group got there before us and set up our tents. We all brought food for a pot luck and stored our bags, paddle, etc.  FYI: Never forget your towel and change of clothes. You do get wet, it’s fun, but not if you can’t change your clothes on a cold day.

IMG_3601When we practice we do not have a dragon head on our boat, so I was curious to see how this would look.  I didn’t realize that there is a real drum on the boat too. For those of you who do not know much about dragon boat racing I’ll fill you in. There are 20 paddlers to a boat. The first two paddlers at the front of the boat are called, “the strokes,” they set the pace for the boat.

The drummer uses the drum to set the pace of the strokes, so this person must have a loud voice for all of us to hear. When we are paddling it’s easy to get distracted by the boats next to us and their drum beats. I also learned that you lose time if you look up to see “how” you are doing in the race, best to stay focused and give your strokes ALL you’ve got. Finally, there is the steerperson at the back of the boat, who steers the boat and also gives IMG_3609commands to the paddlers. Here is a glossary of Dragon Boat terms.

We raced about 500 meters in 2.5 minutes. There were four boats racing at once and it took a little time to get us ALL lined up. I know 2.5 minutes might not seem long, but imagine how you feel when you are doing “planks” at the gym. You start out strong and then your arms get tired and it takes everything you’ve got to keep in the plank position. Same with paddling, you force yourself to continue paddling through the pain and finish STRONG. That’s where the drum beat comes in, it keeps the team focused.

BAD NEWS – We didn’t win!

GOOD NEWS – We had a lot of fun, we worked as a team and after our 3rd time out, we improved our time, and we finished STRONG!  It was a great day!   GO TRY IT!

Grandma… Absolutely not!

imageWhat is it with the names Grandma and Grandpa that make us feel so old? While I am not a grandmother yet, I remember when my daughter was born I told my mother we would call her Nonna or Nonina like her mother. My mother’s response, “Absolutely not!” To my mother being called, “Nonna” was the equivalent of being called, “Grandma” – way, way too old sounding.

I had just given birth to my daughter and it was hard enough deciding on a name for her and now I had my mother who wasn’t sure “what” she wanted to be called?!

When I calmed down, I admit I thought…”Well, we can’t call her “Nonina,” because that is what we call her mother. We can’t call her “Nonna,” because that sounded so terribly boring and formal and my mother had a youthful personality. As I thought about how cute “Nonina” sounded suddenly the name “Noni” popped in my mind.  YES, that was it, my mom would be called, “Noni!” And luckily my mother agreed that “Noni” was acceptable.”

Here is the frustrating part. While I was teaching my daughters to call my mother “NON-knee,” my younger brother was teaching his children to call my mother “NO-knee.” To me that sounded awful… like my mom had “no knee.” I was too far away to correct this.

I thought about this yesterday as I was reading a WSJ article on this very topic called, “PopPop or Skipper? The Grandparent Name Dilemma.” It was an amusing article. There is a trend for Grandparents wanting to “choose” their name. has an online name generator, so you can have fun seeing what they come up with. My generated name was “Mama Monicadee.” This name reminds me of my daughter who LOVED Manga, the Japanese comics, I could be a super ninja grandma – I like it!

Don’t they say history repeats itself and that, in the end, we act like our parents?

Well, for sure I don’t want to be called, “NO-knee,” but I’m liking the “Mama Monicadee” name…

Stay tuned!