Last weekend, the LoBiondo Family took our 2 boys and 5 other rowers down to Baltimore for the America Rows Mid Atlantic Regional Regatta, then on to D.C. for a tour. It was an epic visit, wherein we learned the following: 9 people in a Team Mom-Mobile is a lot, even with the third row; not having to trailer boats is awesome; people in Baltimore are super nice; Coach Jackie and Mrs. Lo are OK being the only girls; the Metro in D.C. is confusing; Real (young) men will wear hotel towels on their heads; and do not EVER try to bring a quart sized bag of flax seed into the U.S. Congress.
Mr. Lo and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary on Friday, May 2d, during which time we also celebrated Christian’s Confirmation. The only way the rowers could go to this Regatta would be for the LoBiondo Law firm to provide the Grant money. Which we did. To pay for the hotels for the rowers, the food, the gas. But these kids are like family to us. We had the rowers sleep over our house afterward so that we could wake up early Saturday morning and hit the road. We had one other parent driving down, but she kind of lost Chico and then kind of ditched us in D.C., which is why we had six kids in the car on the way down and 7 on the way back. Fortunately, I had been telling the boys for months to pack light. Meaning everything had to fit in a drawstring bag which would go on their laps.
We had a great time touring Baltimore on Saturday, then the kids hit the hotel pool. Literally. The poor lifeguard had been peacefully enjoying Reader’s Digest but after we left she looked like she could use a stiff drink. The boys were going from the pool to the hot tub and back in classic, OMG-This-Hotel-Has-A-Pool style. Afterward, they all wrapped towels on their heads like they were at a beauty salon and even let me take a picture of them.
We have all been a crew for a while and we have Regattas down to a science. The 4+ boat was Kelvin, Richard, Soup and Christian, with Michael at coxswain. These were my original Student Ambassadors, plus young Anthony as our team manager. Young Anthony had never been out of Newburgh and everything we did, from going in paddleboats to getting gelato to riding the Metro was uber-exciting to him.
It was the best Regatta ever, bar none. Now, it’s one thing for me to say that, but that is exactly what our Head Coach, Coach Cunningham, said to the Baltimore Regatta Master. And Coach Cunningham has seen a lot of regattas. It was an absolutely magical day. It was an America Rows Regatta, meaning inclusion was the theme, whether including brand new starter clubs, or programs like ours which focused on diversity. For one thing, we didn’t have to trailer any boats down, Baltimore let us borrow their boats: a Filippi and a Vespoli M2. Very nice boats. And we didn’t have to pack a tent or food, Baltimore fed us. There was no yelling, no arguing. People smiled, they said HELLO to each other, cheered the other teams on, and we made quite a few friends. I don’t know if it’s because we were (sort of) in the South or what it was, but it was so nice and easy, the coaches and I were slightly confused.
Baltimore shortened the race course due to expected high winds, so it went from a 1750 meter sprint to a 1350 meter sprint. Kelvin and Chico went first, their 2x took Second Place. Someone from another team patted me on the back to congratulate me. Being a hybrid New Yorker/ Newburghian, the first thing I did was check to see if I had been pickpocketed. I had not.
Then the 4+ came down. Kelvin had to row again. Christian had been playing basketball and football and hadn’t rowed in a Regatta since October of 2013. Little Michael had a steady hand on the rudder. All the parents on the dock at the finish wanted their kids’ boat to win but it was a very collegiate feeling. It wasn’t the usual tension, I knew I would cheer on whoever was coming across the finish line. All the coaches were instructing their rowers to sprint at the bridge, which was the 200 meter mark, that one wasn’t rocket science. Three boats were all in exactly the same position at the bridge. The other boats were much further behind. Then the Baltimore boat just turned on the gas and broke away for the easy win. It was Newburgh and The Other Boat. I thought I could hear Michael calling the Power Ten (where they row harder for ten strokes) and then another Power Ten. And they just powered past The Other Boat, which put in a mighty effort. But Newburgh got a good 5 or 6 boat lengths ahead of them and sailed through the orange finish line then spun around to row back to the start, with Christian pumping his fist in Sheer Joy. Then Baltimore not only fed us, they gave us all their leftover food.
We drove straight to D.C. and proceeded to nap. Well, the grownups napped, while the kids – you guessed it – hit the pool. Touring our nation’s capital the next day was a truly awe-inspiring experience. Only Christian had previously visited, on a class trip, but his class did not tour Capitol Hill. Congressman Maloney got us special tour passes, access to the House and Senate, and we visited his office in Congress. But not before Mrs. Lo got stopped by security.
I had been very careful to take all my tools out of my bag before going to Congress. (Crew moms travel with 7/16 wrenches and sockets, especially if your son is a coxswain). But I hadn’t removed everything that looked suspicious. “And what is THIS?” said the security person, as she searched my Disney bag. She was holding up a Ziploc bag full of flax seeds. I carry them around to sprinkle on our food and lower my cholesterol. I don’t know what people are into these days or what the guard thought it was. But the whole crowd stopped and looked over at me. We were momentarily stunned. It was our coxswain who spoke up first. “It’s flax seed!,” said Little Michael. “My mommy’s not a terrorist, she just has high cholesterol!” At which even the security guard laughed. “It’s high in anti-oxidants too,” offered another security guard. They all had a good chuckle and let us through. And she even gave back my flax seeds.
Glad to be back in Newburgh. The River may be rough, our boats may be beaters, and Big Coach might Yell when he could just as easily talk quietly, but I wouldn’t trade any of it. Have a great day, everyone and, as always, Remember to Count Your Blessings! <3 Mrs. Lo -- for more of the Mrs. Lo Blog, visit: