Sunday, April 30, 2017

Two Sides

I've been on the school board at my kids' school since 2011.  If I have learned *nothing* else in those six years, I've learned that the truth is somewhere in between the two sides of the story you hear upfront.  Sometimes closer to one side or the other, but oh, I have learned over and over how much it pays not to make any snap judgments.

A particular storm has been brewing for months now, and the situation came to a head this past week.   Thursday I got an email from one parent and a phone call from a second about it, and then a third buttonholed me while I was trying to walk my dog at the park that evening.  In this case, I happen to know the other side of the story (or at least part of it) already.  Will be interested to see how that all plays out through the formal process.  That was still half on my mind when I checked my BOE email account this afternoon and found a note from another parent about a totally different issue.  It sounded ridiculously cut and dried, but I'm going to bet there's another side to that one too.  The BOE generally does not get involved in this kind of stuff until all the other layers in the chain of command have failed, but we are often copied on things as an FYI before that stage, and of course parents are free to contact us with concerns at any time.  You couldn't pay me enough to be a school administrator...I suspect that managing parents is the toughest part of that job by far.


In less bureaucratic news, we are the the throes of soccer tryout season here in Mama D-land.  Those of you who remember my posts from this time last year about the three clubs the kids were trying out for will doubtless understand why I am so happy that only their current club is in the picture this year!  All three should make their current teams again unless there is some serious disturbance in the force, which takes away a lot of the stress of tryouts.  Thing One has established himself as the primary centerback on his team; they've played two State Cup games in the past week and he played every second of both games, the only player to do so other than the goalie.  I don't want the kid getting full of himself, but that is a very solid indication that the coaches trust him to do his job.  Thing Two is the only goalie on his team and he's coming off some very good performances going into tryouts as well.  Then there's little Petunia, who is blowing the doors off her team offensively right now.  They played the top-ranked team in their flight today and demolished them 8-2!  She scored four of the goals herself and assisted in two others, then the coach sat her out most of the second half to keep the game from becoming a rout.  She may actually be playing up next year, still TBD.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Have I Mentioned How Great It Can Be To Have A Teenager Around?

I'm not even being sarcastic.  Really.

Our resident rapidly-approaching-14-year-old has become a very reliable babysitter for his younger brother and/or sister.  When I have to take Thing Two somewhere right after school, I can ask him to help Petunia with her math homework and make sure she's ready for soccer practice when I get home, and he does.  He's as tall as I am now (5'10") and almost as strong, so there's always someone around to help pick up the other end of something heavy even when Himself is at work.  I can practice my taekwondo moves on him too, since he's only a couple of belts behind me!

And the icing on the cake?  Recently, he started showing an interest in learning how to cook.  So this morning, while I was busy doing something else, I was able to ask him to make breakfast for himself and his siblings, which he did.  Scrambled eggs and oatmeal and yogurt, nothing fancy, but perfectly functional and without burning down my kitchen.  A huge help!  I think I'll keep him.  :)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Post-Test Update

The test lasted more than four hours!  Yikes.  At one point (right after the "chain of pain" sparring, about three hours in) I was literally shaking and had to sit down, have a drink and eat something quickly to get my blood sugar back up.

The good news, though?  Lots of it, as it turned out.

I did not panic.  I remembered pretty much everything I needed to remember.  I made a decent showing for a 40+ year-old soccer mom...just about the best I can do physically.  I walked out of there with a lovely new black belt that I earned fair and square (although I will have to wait until I earn my first-degree black belt at my next test to get my name embroidered on it; this belt is plain black.)  And most importantly of all, I did not get hurt!!  That was my biggest fear, in general and specifically because my right knee is dicey at the best of times.  I wear a steel-hinged brace on it while doing taekwondo.

My husband and kids did not come to the test because there was other stuff going on today, but when I got home, a bouquet of flowers, a card and a bottle of champagne were waiting in the kitchen!  Oh, and they took me out to dinner to celebrate, too.

I am so glad that is over, I cannot even BEGIN to tell you!!  Huge relief.  And now I can officially teach, too...all of my employment paperwork has been done for a couple of weeks, but you can't run a class on your own unless you are a black belt.

On to my Easter Bunny duties now, and then the couch will be calling my name!!

Into The Crucible

The test for my black belt in taekwondo begins at 10 o'clock sharp this morning.  I'm expecting it to run around three hours, give or take.

Among the things it will include:

-A timed 1/2 mile run
-2-1/2 minutes each of jumping jacks, sit-ups, and pushups
-Timed bagwork (hands, feet and combination)
-Demonstrating that I know the previous 11 (!!) belts' worth of forms, techniques and self-defenses (this will take the bulk of the test time)
-Seven belts' worth of step-sparring
-A so-called "chain of pain" (probably ten-fifteen minutes of straight sparring in gear, with a new opponent substituting in every minute; this is exhausting)
-Board breaking (two 1/2' boards with each foot strike, one board per hand strike), and
-Teaching the audience two self-defenses that I have come up with on my own, one each for an attack with a weapon and a bare-hand attack.

There will almost certainly be other stuff as well.  The head instructor likes to change things up a bit with each test.  Oh, and to make things even MORE fun, his mentor will be there observing as well!  No pressure.  My instructor is 3rd dan (third degree); the mentor is 5th dan. Oh, and as the icing on the cake, our dojo has changed over from taekwondo-based MMA to pure ITF taekwondo in the last year or so, and along with that has come a *lot* of terminology changes to keep straight.  I can't even begin to tell you how happy I will be when this thing is finally over with!

As I stress, people keep reminding me that I wouldn't be testing if my instructor didn't think I was ready.  I know they're right, but it is what it is.  In the five-plus years I've been doing this, I've never seen someone test for a belt and not receive it even if they make a royal mess of things, so by early afternoon I'm pretty sure I'll have the black belt.  At this point, I'm just hoping that I make a good show of earning it and that I don't get hurt while doing so!!

Wish me luck, please???



Friday, April 14, 2017

Randomly Resurfacing From My Archives...

Just looked at the Feedjit gizmo and no fewer than six people from six states have looked at a blog post I wrote in March of 2016 about goats and flagpoles in the last six hours.  Anybody have any idea why that particular post is getting so much attention all of a sudden??  Inquiring minds are curious.  And yes, "Not my goat." really is part of my everyday vocabulary.  :)


Spring Break (AKA A Whole Lot Of Family Togetherness)

Himself is working this week, but the kids are off school and have been since Monday.  They go back Tuesday.  As much as I love them, I may have a permanent twitch by then!  So not looking forward to summer vacation already.  Your introvert friend here needs some downtime, and that's in short supply at the moment.  As a means of preserving my sanity, we've been getting a lot of physical activity in.

Monday, we loaded up the bikes and drove out to a nearby park that happens to be centered around an old WWII airstrip.  So much fun for them tearing up and down the runway.  Tuesday, we tried out a rock climbing gym for the first time and all three of them had a blast!

Yes, that is my baby girl 40 feet up a wall!

Wednesday, we tried a trampoline gym.  They were exhausted afterward, but loved it.  I wanted to try it too, but with my black belt test on Saturday, no way I was taking the risk of getting injured.  :(

Think we're going to go out on the bikes again tomorrow.  Anything that keeps them occupied (and not with video games) is a bonus.  I may need a vacation to recover from this vacation though!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Things I Don't Understand

Check out the soccer shorts below.  They belong to Thing One, who wore them in one of his own games rapidly followed by another game that he guest played in.  As you can see, he spent a fair bit of time on the ground...those boys play rough.  The back of his jersey was actually worse, but I didn't have the presence of mind to take a photo of it before putting it in the wash.

Will somebody please explain to me why 13 year-old boys would be given WHITE uniform shorts?  I never understood the existence of white baseball pants either, back in the days when my boys played baseball.  There's just not enough bleach in the world some days!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Getting More Complicated By The Day

I have three children.  They all play for the same soccer club, which is small, flexible and very focused on player development.  So far, so good.

This past year, USA Soccer made a big switch to bring the program in line with international programs.  Kids are now placed on teams according to their birth year (January-December) as opposed to the previous system, under which the birth cutoff was July 31st.  Take Thing One as an example.  He was born in July of 2003.  Under the previous system, he was one of the youngest on a team of boys born between August 1st of 2002 and July 31st of 2003.  Now, he is smack in the middle of a team of boys who were all born in 2003.  In other words, last spring the US went from a system under which every travel soccer team in the country was composed of children born in two calendar years to a system under which every team is composed of children born in only one calendar year.  As you might imagine, the result of this was that tryout time last year was absolutely insane, since every team in the country was blown up and reorganized, with the older half of any given team joining the younger half of the team one year up in age and the younger half of that team now being paired with the older half of the team one year down.  A real mess.

All of which preamble (if you are still with me...) is intended to help explain why my three children are now practicing with five different soccer teams between them!  Petunia, who is a very strong striker/midfielder, was born in 2007.  Ever since the player development coach got a good look at her in winter training, she's been practicing with the 2006 team as well to hone her skills.  This evening, her 2007 team was practicing, and my boys were messing around at a nearby goal, Thing One shooting and Thing Two defending.  The coach of the 2001 boys' team (who also is the assistant on Thing One's team) grabbed him and tossed him into the scrimmage the older boys were playing, since he was there anyway.  Thing One's a big boy for an eighth grader, average in size on that field of high school sophomores, and he held his own very well out there.  He's maturing into a good solid back.  Coach comes up to me after practice and tells me that he'd like to see Thing One start practicing with this team as well whenever he can; that he should consider it a standing invitation.

The good news (other than the implied compliment to both kids) is that all the teams practice at the same complex of fields.  I'd be there every night of the week anyway for somebody's practice, so having somebody else pick up a practice at the same time is both good for their training and efficient for me.  Win-win, except for me having to keep it all straight.

Here's how it shakes out:
Monday: Petunia 07, Thing Two
Tuesday: Petunia 06, Thing One 03, Thing Two goalie training (because of course)
Wednesday: Petunia 07, Thing One 01
Thursday: Thing Two, Thing One 03
Friday: Petunia 06

And THIS, my friends, is why there is a whiteboard in my kitchen with the kids' weekly schedule on it!


Time In A Bottle

Okay, time can slow down now, please. When I was a kid, I remember my mother saying that the days were long but the years were short.  I d...