Friday, June 29, 2012

Piece of Evidence #976 in My Ongoing Thesis That America is Going to Hell in a Handbasket

So today we were at the horse show that wraps up horseback riding camp. [Admit it, you were 100% sure I was going to write about the Obamacare decision. Ha!]  It was hot, damn hot with temps in the high eighties by 8am. Morrigan rode well, seemed happy and was awarded a blue (1st place) ribbon. The McKs were all good.

All smiles!

After 4 (?) years of these things, I have learned the ribbon structure. If you accomplish the tasks you are supposed to with relative competency, you are awarded a blue ribbon. Everyone else gets a red (2nd place) ribbon. I have yet to see a 3rd place handed out. Clearly, we are looking to have happy outcomes here though I do appreciate the slight nod to the fact that there might be some differing performances. Not everyone automatically gets a blue ribbon.


There was a little girl in Morrigan's group who received a 2nd place ribbon. She lost it. She sat in the saddle as she received her award, crying the entire time. Before you think I am too heartless, I am not down on the gal for crying. She looked younger than Morrigan and was clearly disappointed. 

What I am down on is the reaction of either her parents or the directors of the camp. 

In my world, if Morrigan were to have a tearful reaction, there would be encouragement, telling her if she works hard, she can get a blue ribbon next time. (Though admittedly if the sniveling went on too long, that might morph into "buck up camper.") 

But instead, someone decided that little Suzie (names changed to protect the innocent) should have her place changed and get a blue ribbon.


If the camp decided this on their own, shame on them for such pandering. And shame on the parents for allowing the change to be made. Or worse shame if they requested it. But what we have is just one more example of how we are taking opportunities to teach our children about hard work, achievement and properly rewarding success and throwing it away, instructing them instead that they get a blue ribbon for just showing up because GOD FORBID anyone feel bad, ever. 

Not to mention that in this case, we've taught a little girl that crying will help her get her way. Hello! Way to re-enforce just the type of behavior we should be trying to discourage in kids, especially girls. Bursting into tears will not get you ahead in the real world. 

The 'Noke here is a small town and there is a reasonable chance the parents of said child might find this rant. Dude, I couldn't care less. As parents, as a community, and as a country, if we want our children to be able to succeed, we have to prepare them for the fact that there will be disappointment in their lives. By pretending it will always be sunshine and blue skies, we are doing them a disservice. 

And if you want to know how I feel about the Supreme Court, feel free to ask. I'll give ya an earful.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Monday Means Swim Meets

Eion's "dives" are about the same as last year.

Maggie swam fast.

Morrigan volunteered to help at clerk of course and 
I caught her from afar encouraging her sister. 

Maggie at her favorite stroke - breast stroke - swimming 
for a 4th place gold time.

To work on for next week: sportsmanship. Eion didn't get any ribbons and promptly announced he planned to throw out all the ribbons and trophies he had at home. After sleeping on it, he changed his mind.

Monday, June 18, 2012

So How'd That Homeschooling Thing Work Out For Ya?

As we all could have anticipated, the blogging 'round here has slowed to a near stop. Summer tends to do that as we get busy doing a whole lot o' nothing when school is out (read: we are at the pool a lot and it is not compelling reading.) But I did want to give a little wrap up from our year of homeschooling.

How it was for Eion:
This was the best possible thing we could have done for him this year. His confidence is way way up and he is at or above grade level in all subjects. Not to mention, he ate up all the personal attention. He really loved all the time he got alone with Tim and me.

How it was for me:
Realistically, it was challenging. School took precedence over things like tennis, a major social outlet, and working out, a major method used to fight fluffiness. If you are planning to get in kick ass shape, homeschooling can really get in the way.

Eion enjoyed all the time he was spending with Tim and me but what that also meant was the time Tim and I had alone together was greatly diminished. Goodbye two hour walk and talks!

Add to that Eion's natural tendency to be a bit, umm, difficult, and there were days that I was not the happiest. But, and it is a big but, E's results were so positive that it was hard not to feel like I was doing the right thing.

What surprised me the most:
There is an amazing bias out there against homeschooling. I had city schools administrators tell me outright that they felt many homeschool parents were lazy and they worried that the kids weren't learning anything.

Thanks for the vote of confidence.

I tried to explain that it is really a lot easier to ship your kids off to school than it is to homeschool sooo if one were lazy, enrolling the darlings in school seemed a simpler choice. [Note: I am not calling the parents of kids in public school lazy. I'm just stating the obvious: if you are looking to avoid work, keeping your kids home and taking over their education is a counter intuitive move.]

I think The System has a vested interest in making people believe that what they do, educate, is something beyond a "normal" person's capabilities. They are 100% wrong. Anyone reading this can homeschool and if your public schools aren't serving you well and/or you don't like the private options, you should.

What happens this fall? (Drum roll please.)
We had pretty much settled on at least one more year of homeschooling when we saw how Eion interacted with kids at the pool. He consistently played better with the kids a year or so younger than him. We've known all along that he was a bit immature for his age and this was just further proof.

And we can't fix that at home.

I can keep him up to speed academically, but the social maturity is even harder without lots of other kids around. So he's going back to Crystal Spring in the fall but we are placing him in first grade. He can breeze through the school work while improving his social skills. I called a first grade teacher we've had before who said she would love to have him in her class and would work closely with us to make sure he isn't bored and to tackle some of the ADD issues he faces.

He doesn't know yet and I am sure he won't be thrilled but it is right for him. In a slightly cowardly move, we plan to blame the repeat on The Man. As my children are preconditioned to hate The Man, hopefully we can channel his indignation somewhere other than at us.

It was a tough year but it was right. I wouldn't change a thing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Ok. So the first swim meet of the season was Monday and by the time we returned home, I was ready to cash it in. But I fully intended to blog about it yesterday. Until we were hit with this:

Photo credit to Terry Aldhizer. I was cowering at home in the dark.

Shortly thereafter, it was lights out and our power didn't return until this morning. 

But back to the swim meet.

Rain and all manner of nastiness were in the forecast as we drove out to Stonegate, all the way across town. My normal role of photographer was cut short when the rains came. Sadly, all I captured were a few warm up shots.

All the boys in their "tiny suits."

The Margarets

Then the rain began. Seeing as there was no thunder or lightening, the swimming carried on. 

It was 25 Back and Free for both kids. In the backstroke, Eion was almost all the way down the lane. Almost. And then he decided to stop, hang on to the side of the pool, and begin again. DQ. Maggie was motoring right along when her hand touched the side and she was thisclose to being disqualified. When the scores went up, she was in a good news/bad news situation. She chose to hear the good news first - a gold time. Baffled, she wondered what could possibly be the bad news. That was an 8th place gold time, rendering her ribbonless. She took the news well.

With more and more rain, it was on to freestyle. Eion looked great. Rather than resembling drowning, he genuinely looked as though he were swimming. He cut 18 seconds from his time but that still left him in 14th place in the bronze category. He was not amused. Maggie had a good swim and was 5th place silver.

Then the weather turned very nasty and a thunder delay was called. We were saved by Fiona, who, knowing we were done swimming, offered to take over our position as timer. We hightailed it out of there. A bottle of something yummy may be in order.

Soooo, imagine my surprise when we rolled up to the Club today and looked at the result sheets to find that, in spite of totally DQing, Eion somehow came in 4th bronze for the backstroke. I was in a quandary. I know this is a mistake but hate that with all his improvement, he essentially had nothing to show for it. I decided to let this one go and let him get his first "real" (sorta - shh, don't tell) ribbon. 

He is over the moon about it. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Highs and Lows of the Weekend

The kids and I have been clocking 6+ hours a day at the pool so far. Apart from the fact that the long days may necessitate a separate line item in the household budget for sunscreen, summer, she is treating us just fine.

Friday, after our tenure at the pool, we had Supper Club. And naturally, took the requisite girls picture - minus Molly who was at a lacrosse tournament.

Look at me and Mel sacrifice and stand on the end. Y'all are welcome.

Saturday was more pool in a rather disjointed way. Maggie and E didn't want to leave after swim practice but Morrigan was dying to bike on the Greenway. King and Fiona were kind enough to watch the younger two while Morrigan and I set off for biking. My hopes were minimal. My prediction was we would be back in under an hour and a half.

Color me shocked when she proved me wrong and biked for what seemed like forever.

As I am currently in the ranks of the bikeless, I got to sit and read the Twitter as she rode. When she tired of riding, it was back to the Club where ever shifting voting blocks meant the stay-at-the-pool faction held power until WAY late in the day. I was unbelievably happy we had no plans that night.

Especially considering today was a day at the lake! When we arrived, our hostess told me her nephew, about Morrigan's age, was intrigued by the fact that we had a daughter and wanted to know if she was pretty.

Not. Ready. For. This.

Luckily for me, neither is she and most of her day was spent with Summer. Which is peachy.

Really, the fish were in no danger.

No romance, but plenty of sunshiny fun. 

I want you to guess how well this went.

We had a bump in the road when Maggie realized that she failed to catch even one fish during the annual fishing competition. Poor Mags was devastated and commenced to crying. Even after some hugs and reassurances from some seasoned fishing Dads that they would help her, she remained inconsolable. 

Yes, I took pictures of my child's grief. Don't get all judgey. 

And those tears hurt. There was some discussion of a contest extension, especially crafted for Maggie to meet with success, but in the end, Karen, knowing my stance on "blue ribbon children," let today be the day Maggie learned about disappointment. Don't worry, she rallied and found out that not winning the fishing contest was not the end of the world.

That and Karen's Dad took her out on the jetski, sure to cure all that ails you.

While this should be the end of our day's adventures, we still had a Girl Scout bridging ceremony on deck. We hustled away from the lake in order to arrive on time only to discover that they were willing to wait, really for quite some time, for the one person who was late. 

Color me annoyed.

The ceremony went off, in the end, with many hitches, including candles that staunchly refused to stay lit. But candles were the least of our troubles. Before the reception that followed directly after, the kids were running around and Maggie took a big tumble, twisting her ankle. We got to exit stage left, early, with Maggie being carried to the car so we could ferry off to her father for evaluation. 

It was all very dramatic but our fears of major injury were unfounded. After a little rest, she's back up and at 'em. Bringing a close to another whirlwind summer weekend.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summer Takes Flight

Whew. After a full 7 1/2 hour day at the Club, I am finally home, minus two girls and plus one boy. Maggie and Morrigan arranged a sleepover at friend Margaret's house. I felt it was only fair and friendship prolonging that I offer to take Margaret's brother, Ned. When we arrived home, Ned exclaimed with glee, "You have guns AND a bow and arrow!" [BB gun - just to clarify.] To my delight, I was able to convince them that we didn't need to have target practice tonight but instead they should play some Wii. Which leaves me to update my blog that was last published in the time before the written word it seems.

Most notably at our house was the much ballyhooed End of School which coincided with 5th grade promotion. We've already covered my feelings on said promotion ceremony, but I was not planning on missing it. My children have enough to tell their therapist some day. I was not going to add June 5, 2012 to the roster of complaints.

Ahhh! When did Maggie get big enough to (literally) wear my shoes?

In spite of its unnecessary nature, the gathering was cute and Morrigan seemed proud, if a bit too grown up for my tastes.

The she is, sporting the medallion destined for a landfill.

How sweet. She is still willing to be seen with me, 
something I am sure will change in short order.

The reception following was short but long enough for Eion to score two pieces of cake. Woohoo!

That smile has the power of two pieces of cake 
and a lemonade behind it. Watch out.

Morrigan's day was short, ending at around 10am (yet still counting as day 180, natch) but Maggie stayed at school since she was going to Megan's house on the bus. After the success of the water balloon fight last year, we figured we would ambush the girls this year with water guns and then all manner of wet fun would ensue, cementing us as The Coolest Moms Ever. 


Maggie could completely flip out and lose it upon being sprayed.

The plan goes

So much for June 5th lacking therapist fodder. 

Everyone else had a ball.

And sweet Maggie, the mostly sunny, did rally in short order for her playdate.

I stuck around and talked with Amy (read: prevented her from accomplishing anything) instead of being productive. Later, the girls came a-asking about some promised independence. They wanted to walk the 5-ish blocks to 7-11 and get slurpees. Being the free rangers we are, within minutes, Maggie & Megan were off, armed with $5 each and in charge of their younger siblings. They were out of sight before we realized that we hadn't armed them with a cell phone.

You know what happened? 

They had a blast and arrived safely home, slurpees in hand. We took a small amount of textual heat from Hans who sent us this:

asking where the hell these children's parents were. They were home, thinking about how great summer is going to be.