Thursday, June 28, 2007

Nearing the end

...of the swim team season. Thank goodness! It's getting miserably hot out there in the evening for the adults (or anyone who is going swimming). The kids are fine - they get in the water to swim every 20-30 minutes and stay nicely cool.

Tonight I didn't have an official job at the meet, so I got to spend some time in the shade. This meant it only ended up being a 3 water bottle night for me. I spelled D at timing for a bit so he could take a quick break and I did a little bit of kid rustling. For one event the person locating kids hadn't noticed M was in the event, so she didn't find him. I noticed he was missing when I saw his friends waiting behind the blocks and M wasn't there. I quickly tracked him down (in the kiddie pool, staying cool) and he managed to get there in time to swim in his race.

We don't know how the meet came out because it started thundering and lightning right after M's last race. They waited for a few minutes and then when we got another bolt of lightning, we all packed up and left. The last few races were simply dropped and the meet was called. We'll find out tomorrow who won.

Saturday is our final meet - the county meet - where all 6 teams in our league have one huge meet. It goes on all afternoon and into the evening. The kids enjoy it - they get to see their friends from all the other teams and hang out together, but it's a long hot day for parents. The meet is held at an indoor pool and the pool area is warm to begin with and when you put hordes of people in there watching, crowded together on bleachers it gets overwhelmingly hot. They split the meet with 10 and under swimming in the afternoon and 11 and ups swimming in the evening. This will be our first year to have to be there for the whole meet. I'm not particularly looking forward to it. We're trying to see if we can split up so that we don't all have to be there all day - we'll see if we can work it out.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Blueberry Salesman?

M and I went out picking blueberries this morning. Not ours, though we do have a few bushes, but from the U-pick place a few miles away. M is always wanting more money and I had suggested that he could pick blueberries and sell them for some extra cash. It's not easy to earn money at 11. So we went and picked. After a bit, M was tired so he went to sit in the shade. I told him that was fine, but that we were picking a whole bucket full (combined) and that the more he picked the sooner we'd be done. Then I really shocked him - I told him that the more berries he picked the more he'd have to sell. Somehow he'd missed that point - he thought he was going to be able to sell all the berries we both picked. Nothing doing, buster. I wanted berries for us too! After that, he started picking again, though still a bit slower than at the beginning. M ended up picking about 1/3 of the total we picked, so I told him his cost basis would be roughly 1/3 of the $8 I paid. I made this a no-risk venture (at least for now). He would only have to pay me after the berries sold, and any unsold ones he wouldn't have to pay for.

M and I packaged up the berries in 5 oz baggies, for $1. I figured this was more than a fair price as Aldi had blueberries 8 oz for $2, so we were selling cheaper as well as having fresh, local product. M ended up with 9 baggies of berries and sold 7 of them at swim practice this morning. One mom promised to buy another bag tomorrow if he had any left (she only had one dollar on her at practice). So, for roughly an hour of hot berry picking this morning, so far M has netted $4.90 (7 bags at $1 minus 30 cents per bag cost). Not a bad rate for an 11 yo!

If M (and maybe A as well) want to go pick more, he could try to sell more berries at church Sunday morning. We'll see if they are interested...


The Lure of the AC

We succumbed to the lure of the AC today - it was time - the house hit 85 by mid-afternoon and the outside temp wasn't due to go below 80 before about 10pm. I'll miss those cooler morning temps in the house (We haven't been getting up early enough to have the attic fan do much good just in the morning - it seems to take several hours to cool the house down). The house was still at 82 when we came back from dinner, but it felt quite pleasant. I wonder when the AC will finally get the house to 79 (our current setpoint)? Even though we're in the midst of a drought, I think the house is humid and that is some of what is making it take the AC so long to cool the house down.

I'm not sure the kids particularly noticed that the AC is on, but the cats did. They like to hang out in front of the AC vents. Previous cats have liked hanging out near the heating vents, but these cats are the first I've ever noticed that like the cool AC blowing on them. I think the cats won't be so happy that the windows are closed, though - they like lying on the window seat and looking out the window (and getting the breeze).

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Long, hot and less than satisfying meet.

It was a long hot evening at the swim meet.

Both teams are big, so there were multiple heats in almost every event - some events had 4 heats (at least 16 swimmers all competing in the same event). That's a lot.

Did I mention it was hot? and humid too. D and I each went through 4 bottles of water.

The kids didn't have a particularly good night - they were not swimming their best. M especially seemed very tired. He was well off his best times and just looked like he was worn out. Could be from anything - staying up late a lot recently, the hot/humid weather, too many swim meets too close together, waking up last night with a questionable digestive system (though the last doesn't explain why he looked tired last week also). Whatever the reason, he was off.

A looked good in backstroke, but was a bit slower than his best time. And something really messed up his breaststroke. I'm afraid it was my suggestions. I'd told M he should try to glide a bit in breast (and M should), but when A tried to glide, he just s-l-o-w-e-d down - a lot. I hadn't really been trying to tell A to glide - I was trying to get him to follow the coach's instructions to synchronize his stroke (pull, breathe, kick, repeat - not random pulls and kicks). Hopefully A can forget the glide part for now and get his stroke back. I think that breast may end up being A's best stroke as well (as it certainly seems to be for M).

And end result was our team lost the meet - not surprising to the adults, but the kids are ever optomists.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

M and A go to the Braves game

My mom took the kids with her to see the Braves play tonight. She is braver than I - she had offered to take a friend for each of them. While they might have bothered each other less with a friend around, its not a sure thing. I told her not to even consider trying to keep up with 4 kids. When she delivered the kids back home, she thanked me for talking her out of that idea.

While there, they all got their photo taken (with the obvious hope that we would buy copies of the photo). No thanks, but I'll enjoy looking at it. With them are a friend of my mom's and her granddaughter.

The Braves won tonight, making them all very happy. The kids would have liked to stay for the end of the game to see sparks shoot out of the giant Coke bottle, but then they would have been home VERY late. As it was they left after the 7th inning and didn't get home until about 10:45. And that was without any traffic getting out of the game.

I hope the kids will sleep in a bit tomorrow - it will be another late night as we have a swim meet tomorrow night.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

No AC yet....

We got really tempted by the AC tonight. We haven't had it on yet, but it won't be long now. The kids are actually sleeping downstairs tonight since it was 84 in the house at 9pm. The heat wasn't particularly bothering anyone while awake, but I know from experience that they complain about the heat once in bed, especially A.

Now at nearly midnight we've got a nice breeze blowing through the house of upper 70's air and it's fairly pleasant. It's been being cool enough overnight that at least half the time I pull the blanket up at least over my legs during the night. That's what I would be giving up by turning on the AC (well as well as low electricity bills...) This morning it was 72 in the house and it was just delightful - but I'm not about to cool the house with AC to that level.

It's a day by day thing now. A lot depends on how cool it gets at night - and if we're out in the evening, like when we have a swim meet, its already cooling off by the time we get home.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Saint Petersburg

No, not the city, or at least not in real life. We got the game Saint Petersburg and played it yesterday afternoon. It was a lot of fun, though it took forever - closing on 3 hours! Of course, some of that time was reading the rules and trying to learn how to play the game. And then during the game, we would occasionally come across new cards that none of us knew what they meant - so we had to dig in the rules and find out.

The story behind the game is that you are building the city of St. Petersburg - you have to collect workers, buildings, aristocrats and rubles. As you go along, you can upgrade the workers, buildings and aristocrats - while collecting rubles and points.

It was a bit complex to play the first time, but I'm sure it will go faster in future playings. I think, though, that the game's guidelines of 45-60 minutes is a bit optomistic.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Diving and not

Scenes from Monday night's swim meet:

M diving into the pool.

He looks pretty good, and is getting a quicker start than the boy next to him.

A "diving" in:

Well, A is still working on learning to dive. For now, we've decided it makes more difference to work on the stroke and let the diving come later. About half the kids in A's age group still jump in rather than dive.


Monday, June 18, 2007

GREAT Swim Meet!

(Photo added - better late than never!)

The kids both had a great meet tonight!

This was the first meet for M as an 11 year old. That's a big deal because at 11 they have to start swimming 2 lengths of the pool in each stroke. M chose to swim freestyle, breaststroke and butterfly. Butterfly - WOW! He's never swum 50 yards of fly before, but he did a wonderful job. His fly looked nice and I think he came in 3rd. Great job M. M's even happier about his breaststroke swim. He came in 1st in his heat! Got his first real heat ribbon.

M was MUCH faster than the other 2 boys in his heat (as in, he finished at least half a lap ahead of them). So, he might do even better if he had some competition. He came in 3rd overall - only one boy on our team beat him. M was really psyched about it all.

M will get best time ribbons in both fly and breast, since he hasn't swum those as a 50 yard race before. I think he got a new best time in free as well. Way to go M!

A did quite well too. This was his second meet for this season, so he's already had the best times based on getting bigger and stronger over the winter, but I think he'll be getting some best time ribbons tomorrow too. His freestyle kick looked much better tonight - I think he took several seconds off his best time. His breaststroke was really competitive too. It looks like breast might be the best stroke for both kids - amazing since it was not the best for either D or me.

{I've got some good photos to post, but Blogger isn't cooperating tonight on the Mac. And the PC is mis-behaving. I'll try again tomorrow. In the meantime, I've been backing up all the photos off the PC onto CD's}

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day (photo added)

We don't really DO Father's Day around here (or Mother's Day either). Sometimes the kids make a card, though mostly for Mother's Day since the school has them do it.

So, today wasn't all about Dad, but we did have a little bit of celebrating going on.

I made blackberry pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Yum yum.

After church D got a picture frame from A that he made during the kids program (during the first half of the service), plus a bookmark that all the dads at church received.

After church and a bit of lunch, I packed us a picnic supper and we headed off to Fernbank to visit the museum. Their current show is "Lizards and Snakes Alive!". D and I saw it in Feb. at an educator night and A and I saw it on his field trip, so M was the only one who hadn't seen it yet. Both kids were delighted with seeing the animals, and trying to count how many lizards were in each exhibit - one had 8, at least.

The kids also had fun visiting the educational classroom - there was a short video and stuffed reptiles and other hands-on stuff to do. Fun with animals:

After the exhibit and the museum closed, we had our picnic outside the museum, right outside the parking lot (which felt a little strange, but hey, we had 45 minutes to wait...). M had the partially reclining chair, which promptly reclined him all the way into the grass. Whoops!

After our supper (ham and cheese sandwiches, fresh cherries and Pringles) we headed back into the museum to see our FREE IMAX movie. Fernbank periodically shows new IMAX movies to select members at off times to get feedback on which ones to bring into the rotation. Previously, the free shows have been at 9am on a Sat - I didn't think we had much chance of getting there then - though maybe we should have tried it... Anyway, 6pm on a Sunday was MUCH more civilized. We saw African Adventure (I think it was called), about a river that never reaches the ocean, but instead evaporates into a delta in the Kalahari desert. I'd never heard anything about it. D and I found it interesting enough, but the kids were less enthused - A even less than M. I think it was geared to an older audience than 8 yo's. We all filled out surveys, so hopefully the museum learned something...

Then after the museum, we headed over to Trader Joe's. Their newest store is only 3 miles from Fernbank, so it was a perfect pairing. We got some treats for us all, plus some frozen entrees for dinners. I like to have some quick things to fix for dinner on hand. Here in the summer we often use them for those nights when we don't get home from the pool until 6:30 or 7 pm.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Completed Swim Meet

We managed to have our swim meet tonight and NOT get rained out. I think tonight was the only night this week that we didn't have rain and/or thunder and lightning.

A swam well. I peeked at some of his times and previous times and I think he posted some new best times. They give out ribbons for new best times - really pretty multicolored ribbons. The kids both have a stack of them.

A swam breaststroke, backstroke and freestyle - one length of the pool (25 yards) of each. A getting ready for backstroke:

A getting ready to dive in for a race:

Looking at this, you would think he knows how to dive. Well, not exactly... We've been working on diving, but so far he can only dive from the pool steps, not from the blocks. A says he wants to work some more on diving. Maybe this weekend, once we're done with camp.

Oh, and A's other activity besides swimming tonight - finishing up the first Harry Potter book - that he started yesterday evening. Barely 24 hours ago!

He read for about 4 hours yesterday, while driving out to visit M at camp and while we were there - he "borrowed" a hammock and relaxed and read. Then finished the last 30 pages up tonight.


Parent night at Boy Scout Camp

Last night was parent night for M's Boy Scout Troop at camp. When we got there the boys were at a flag ceremony. When I found them, M tried to hide from the camera:

The Troop had a cookout and we got to visit and see what the boys are doing and not doing.

Things M is doing:
Going swimming every day, for several hours.
Working on his swimming merit badge (surprise to us - D had to take down long pants and shirt today so he could do part of this.)
Working on Pottery and Art merit badges.
Flossing his teeth.
Putting a damp towel in the bin with his clean clothes.
Changing his socks. (The only dirty laundry I brought home last night was 3 pairs of filthy socks.)

Things M is not doing:
Brushing his teeth (instead he claims to be scraping off the plaque with his fingernails).
Getting up at 6am for a pre-breakfast swim with the Scoutmaster. (He says he wants too, but is too tired each morning.)
Putting on sunscreen. (luckily its been rather overcast most of the week)
Wearing anything but a swimsuit.
Changing his clothes.

I suppose it's a good thing that mom's aren't at camp. I would be nagging kids to do things like brush their teeth, hang up their towel, change their clothes. While we were there, M managed to dump a cup of water into his cleaan clothes bin - thus soaking most of his socks, underwear and shorts. And dampening the camera. I dried off the camera as best I could and sealed it up in its baggie. I also seemed to embarrass him by hanging his socks up to dry - M says they are going on an 8 mile hike on Friday. Hiking in wet socks is just asking for blisters.

M and D in M's tent. Note M's socks hanging from behind D.

M's home for the past week:

M seems to be having a pretty good time. No begging for us to take him home. Maybe he's enjoying getting dirty and not having Mom nag him about all of the above...

Things that we should have sent:
Clothes for swim merit badge - even though no one told us the first year Scouts would be doing this - if its mentioned, you should take it.
A clothes line to dry towels or wet clothing.
A backpack of some sort - to make it easier to haul stuff around when on a bike.
Duct tape. Of course!
M thinks a Camelbak is needed. Nice thought - maybe we'll look into one...

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cancelled Swim Meet

Our first swim meet was scheduled for last night. Last week, though, we found out it would be cancelled because the team we were to swim against didn't make. They didn't end up with enough kids to make it worthwhile I guess. So, our team scheduled a practice meet - a "pentathalon" - where every swimmer gets to swim every event, rather than just 3 as at a usual meet. It's a great way to get the kids to try out all the strokes. They've done this the last 2 years and each time several kids are surprised to discover that they really can do butterfly!

So last night A is all ready to do 5 events (all 4 strokes plus the IM) and both relays. IM was first - and this was a first for A. Last year the coach didn't make him try the IM. It's 4 lengths of the pool, one each of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. 100 yards is a long way for the little ones to swim, especially when it includes butterfly. A complained a bit, but he took his place and swam his race. He wasn't fast, but he looked pretty good, considering. He finished it in just over 4 minutes.

The forecast was for thunderstorms, but we started off fine. But then we heard distant rumbles of what might be thunder - or could be jets above the clouds. But then, just as the 11&12 year old girls got into the pool, CRASH BOOM FLASH. Beep beep beep beep went the starters whistle. Everyone out!

We waited around for at least a half hour, with light rain and thunder (and very occasional lightning). The coach got the parents together to try to figure out how much longer to wait. We had just about decided to wait 30 minutes when we got a big flash of lightning and a report from one parent that it was storming badly about 30 minutes west of us. The decision was made to cancel.

So, we all packed up our stuff, and as we headed out the gates, the SUN came out. Yes, the sun! No more rain, no more thunder, no more lightning! I was so mad.

I had really hoped to see how A was doing in all the different strokes - times as well as whether he was doing them correctly. A wanted to see which events he was doing best at, so he could choose events for the next meet. He definitely wanted to do breaststroke and freestyle. I told the coach to put him in backstroke or long free (2 lenghts of freestyle), depending on which event had fewer other kids entered. This early in the season, it's likely to be long free.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

M goes off to camp

We took M to Boy Scout camp this afternoon. It was a scene of only somewhat controlled chaos. Actually some parts were fairly orderly, but others were just random. We had been told that the boys would have tents assigned to them, but when we actually got to the tent area, kids were just randomly grabbing tents. M and a friend finally just dumped their stuff in a tent. As I understand it, each patrol (group of boys of the same age) was supposed to be in a cluster. I didn't see any of that happening. At one point one of the older Scouts was evidently trying to get kids to change tents, but that didn't seem to be happening either. Someone told me that some of the parents were getting upset. I don't really see why. It doesn't matter to me at all which tent M is in. And since his stuff is all in 2 big totes, it wouldn't be a problem to move. I guess we'll find out later whether they did move tents or not.

They seemed to be waiting until all the parental types left before going and taking the swim test. I hope they got to go quickly - it was hot out and the boys were restless.

We'll see M on Wednesday night when they are having a parent night. The Troop will be fixing dinner and then maybe there will be a campfire. The plan is for a campfire, but we were told they won't be able to have any campfires in the camp area due to drought. Maybe there is a camp wide campfire at the ampitheater? We'll see.

It's going to be quiet here this week, at least most of the day - M will be gone until Sat morning and A will be at day camp until 3 everyday. But no sleeping in... A has to be at camp by 8am.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Snorkeling, Dives, and Flip Turns

We've been plannning our vacation for later this summer and we think we may go snorkeling. D and I have been snorkeling before but the kids never have. So I thought a little practice beforehand might be a very good idea. Especially since we actually have snorkeling gear for them (long story - I wanted flippers for them and snorkeling kits were the easiest way to get flippers).

We got to the pool and the fun started. M tried to put the gear on before getting to the water. We finally got everything adjusted, then he had to walk/waddle to the edge of the pool in flippers. Not easy to do! Then he gets in and tries to adjust to the equipment. One fin fell off and he struggled a bit to get it back on. Next - try to swim with the snorkel. Hmmm - it seems that M often dips his head just deep enough to get water into the snorkel. Not so good. He did get better with practice, though.

Then it was A's turn to don his snorkel gear. We'd learned from M's experience and put it on right at the pool's edge. A had a hard time keeping water out of his mask. I think A's snorkel sat above his head a bit more - or else A keeps his head above water more - as he didn't have nearly the trouble keeping water out of his snorkel.

Both kids had to get used to the flippers - they wanted to bend their knees too much or something. Flippers really need a slow easy kick to be most effective.

Once they'd practiced with the flippers some, they took them off. A and I worked some on dives. I had him trying to dive off the steps, so that he would be less likely to belly flop. Or at least, when he did belly flop it wouldn't hurt as much, since his belly started fairly near the water. A girl who was playing on the steps there near us got a pretty good hang of diving too, listening to my instructions and trying it out. So I know the method works. A is starting to get the hang of diving. He had a few dives that looked really nice! We'll continue to work on diving - next time A says he's going to start on the top step and then dive off the side of the pool.

Meanwhile D and M were playing in the shallow end. D did several front flips in a row and challenged M to flip. M protested, saying that he got water up his nose. But then he realized that maybe it wouldn't with the mask, instead of his regular goggles. So M tried it and quickly mastered the front flip. He managed to do 5 in a row with the mask! Then D showed him the flip turn. Now, M's group had been working on flip turns in practice this past week, but M wouldn't try them. But with the mask he tried it. In just a few tries, he managed to get the hang of getting flipped around and turned over. The acid test was to try with the goggles. We reminded him to blow out his nose and he tried. And yes, he did it! Overall, he practiced it quite a few times trying to get the distance and flip and push off to all come together, but it worked. He has quite a decent flip turn now. He's going to show it off during practice tomorrow.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Budding Cooks

Looks like we have some budding cooks in the owlfan household. Yesterday I decided that since we are all at home over the summer, there is no reason why only one of us should be cooking. The kids weren't necessarily thrilled with the announcement at first, but they accepted it.

M has done some cooking with/for us before, but A really hasn't.

Last night, over dinner, we discussed menus and grocery lists. Both boys wanted to make pizza this week. I like pizza, but didn't really want it twice in one week. We ended up flipping a coin over who got to make pizza this week - A won. So M will make pizza the next time. Then this afternoon, they were arguing over who got to make dinner tonight. Yes, they both wanted to make dinner tonight!

Last night, after the menu discussions, M got out my cookbook (the Better Homes and Gardens, better known as the red and white cookbook). It was quite pleasant to see him leafing through the cookbook, examining recipes. He spent a lot of time on the dessert recipes, but some time on the rest of the cookbook too. He really wanted to make something that would be a surprise and was disappointed when I said I had to at least see the ingredient list, so I would know what to buy at the store.

Since A won on the pizza, I declared that M got to make dinner tonight. He had chosen baked ziti as his main dish. Yummy. I thought we had discussed bread to go with - only to find out that he had wanted to make bread himself (well, with the bread machine's help). Fine, except 2 things. 1- He didn't tell me this until 5pm and we would have had to start bread closer to 3 to have it ready for dinner. and 2 - the bread he wanted to make was cinnamon raisin bread. Yummy, but not quite what I want with baked ziti for dinner.

While the ziti was baking, we did make the dessert he wanted - popcorn balls. We had to find a new recipe though, since he hadn't told me he wanted to make them today and I didn't have light corn syrup on hand. We found a recipe for molasses popcorn balls instead.

Dinner was yummy and we have enough left for leftovers another night, to everyone's delight. As long as something is liked the first time, leftovers are popular around here.

It isn't easier or quicker to have the kids cook (though I'm hoping it will be once they have some practice), but it is really nice to see them participating and being interested in preparing a meal. It's also a good skill to have for later. My mom had my brother and I cook dinner when we were kids (though not as young as A). I think one of the things that is nice is that I get stuck in a rut sometimes and the rest of the family may think of different things. Somehow they thought of more different things when actually asked to cook than when I just ask for suggestions on what I should cook.

I'm looking forward to A's and D's dinners later in the week!

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