Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Capturing the Glory Days

The idea of taping your kids’ sporting events is certainly not a new one, but I’ve discovered a new use for these recordings. Well, maybe it’s not exactly a “new” use, but it’s new to me as I hadn’t ever thought of doing this before. I tape my kids’ sporting events not only to preserve the memories, but to use as a teaching tool.

Saturday, I taped the football game in which my son was playing and at which my daughter was cheering. My daughter is a flyer which means that she’s the one at the top of the pyramid, and she’s the one who gets tossed around like a ragdoll. (It’s also a contributing factor to why I have gray hair.) Anyway, at the game on Saturday, the girls dropped her while doing a stunt. She landed on her back and had the wind knocked out of her, but wasn’t seriously injured.

Later, my daughter said that she thought one of the girls holding her had backed away instead of catching her. We were able to look back at the tape and ascertain that none of the girls had actually backed away. We could see what went wrong and how the girls can do it better the next time. My son benefits from watching the tapes as well. In fact, his coach has the entire team watch the game-day videos so they can see what they did right and what worked well, and they can see what they need to improve upon.

I’ve been hesitant to record sporting events in the past because I enjoy taking pictures of them and it’s really hard to hold a still camera and click pictures while also holding a video camera and filming. Believe me, I’ve tried. With my Sony Handycam, I can record, and when I want to snap a picture, the press of a button lets me change modes and take still shots. How awesome is that, right?

So now I’m all into recording the football games. The videos are teaching tools now. Soon, the videos will be a fun way to reminisce. And one day, they’ll be a way to relive “the glory days” and “that one time I sacked the quarterback fives times in a game”.

Want to capture your own family memories on video? We’re giving away two Sony Handycams! To enter for a chance to win, simply comment on any Sony-sponsored post (including this one) with an answer to the following question: what’s your favorite family memory? Contest runs through 11:59 p.m. EDT on September 30th, 2012, and you may enter once per post. Contest is open to U.S. residents only.

Want a chance to win weekly prizes like a Sony Handycam or a $200 Disney shopping card? Enter to win here!

A big thanks to Sony for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Preparing for a Hurricane

Since my kids and I just moved here from Chicagoland a year ago, we’ve never experienced a hurricane. The news is plastered with reports of Tropical Storm Isaac down here. We’re far enough away from the storm’s projected path that we should only experience some rain and wind. I haven’t been worried about it, but to hear some people talk, you’d think it was Armageddon.

Basically, the only thing I know about hurricanes is that they’re delicious drinks made from rum.

28352 405913995115 3043335 n 300x200 Preparing for a Hurricane

Unfortunately, it doesn’t rain rum when a tropical storm passes by.

News agencies are encouraging people to prepare for the possibility of power outages. I don’t have a generator, nor can I afford one, but yesterday I went to the store for some other supplies. I figured preparing for a hurricane is probably like preparing for a blizzard. I have one flashlight that the kids haven’t destroyed and/or lost, so I grabbed Austin and went to the store to get another one, just in case.

When I got to the store, I was half expecting a scene like this one from The Office with people running amok, grabbing up the last of the supplies and generally acting like crazy people. The store was running low on some supplies, but I didn’t witness any crazy people. (I bet if I’d gone to Walmart I would have. Then again, you can see crazy people at Walmart any day of the year, not just when a tropical storm approaches.)

Anyway, only a couple flashlights remained at Target when I got there. I grabbed one and then bought some more batteries to power the flashlights, just in case. Okay, what else do I need? Water! You need water in an emergency, right? I grabbed a couple cases of water. That’s good. Batteries and water. I’m all set. “What else do we need?” I asked Austin. “Can you think of anything?”

“Well, we need groceries because we have no food in the house,” he reminded me. We never have food in the house. I have six kids and they like to eat. Every day. I tried the ‘feed them every-other-day plan,’ but they didn’t go for it. So I spend ridiculouse amounts of time at the grocery store.

“We should probably not get too much food that has to be refrigerated or frozen in case we lose power. I guess we should stock up on food that doesn’t need refrigeration, just in case.”

“Okay,” Austin agreed.

We grabbed a few loaves of bread, more peanut butter, and several cans of soup. It wasn’t until we got home that Austin asked, “Wait, why did we get soup? How are we supposed to cook it if the power goes out?”

I stopped short. Good point. “I dunno. Use the grill?” I offered.

“Grilled soup?” Austin asked, laughing.

“We could put it in a pot on the grill.”

“You don’t even know how to start the grill!” Austin reminded me.

“Minor detail.”

Austin continued to laugh.

“Just for that, you don’t get grilled soup. You have to eat yours cold.”

Now it looks like even the hurricane’s outer bands won’t touch us. I’m glad it looks like we won’t need to eat grilled soup. And I’m praying for the folks who have already been affected by the storm (especially the inhabitants of Haiti who can never seem to catch a break), and those who are currently in its path. I hope everyone stays safe.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Letting Go Team Go

Football season is underway! I totally lucked out for a third year because Lexi is cheering for Jackson's team so I only need to endure enjoy one game a week. They had their first game this Saturday. It was only a practice game and the boys ended up tying 6-6. As you know, I'm an absolute football EXPERT as shown by this blog post full of my extensive knowledge HERE. So, after the game, since I'm a wonderfully supportive mom, I asked Jackson, "Why were you hitting like a girl?"

“What do you mean?” he asked, taken aback.

“Well, when you played before, you always tackled the guy to the ground.  But today, it looked like you were playfully pushing his shoulders away as if to say, “Oh stop it, you big silly!  Get out of here.”

“I played a different position before.  You can’t tackle a guy to the ground if he doesn’t have the ball, Mom,” Jackson explained.

“Are you sure?” I asked (as if I had a clue).  “You don’t hesitate to beat on your brothers and sisters.  Now we’re telling you it’s okay to hit these guys.  We’re encouraging you to hit them.  Hard.”

“Mom, I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.  Sometimes I’m just supposed to hit one guy and move on to another one.”

“For real?  I thought the goal of the game was for everyone to knock the other guy down and stomp on him.”

Jackson sighed.  And blinked.  And shook his head. Which can be translated to – Why do I bother talking to you, Mom? You’re an idiot.

Apparently I’m not quite the football expert I thought I was.  I’d forget about football and watch the cheerleaders instead, but it’s a toss-up between watching my son get stomped on and watching my daughter fly through the air.  They’re both equally nerve-racking.  The day before Jackson’s game, I got an email from my church’s prayer chain asking for prayers for someone’s nephew who’d been hurt at football practice and was now in the ICU with a lacerated spleen.  A couple years ago, one of Austin’s friends was injured in a football game and (this may not be the technical, medical term) his kidney exploded.  It was bad.

I try not to think about those things.  Of course your kid can get hurt while participating in sports.  You take that chance when you let them play.  I know some parents who won’t let their children play certain sports because “they’re too dangerous.” Although I can understand this (no one wants to see their child hurt), I’ve never been that parent and this is why – you can get hurt anywhere, at any time, doing anything.

Case in point – My sister and her family were camping this weekend.  They were awakened late at night when a drunk driver plowed over a tent and crushed a man’s legs narrowly missing his wife and little boy, then he careened toward the tents in which my sister and her family and friends were sleeping.  My sister and her family weren’t playing football; they were doing nothing more than sleeping.  You can get hurt anywhere. 

Sure, you can keep your child in a bubble in an effort to protect him, but why would you do that?  Haven’t you ever seen Seinfeld?  You keep your child in a protective bubble and the next thing you know he’s arguing about Moors and Moops with strangers.

By participating in sports, my kids are learning the benefit of hard work and practice. You don’t get really good at anything without putting in the hours first. They understand that they need to show up for all practices and put forth 100% effort if they want to do their best.

They’re learning the definition of teamwork firsthand. My daughter has to rely on the girls who are the base to hold her, support her, and catch her as she falls. My son has to rely on the quarterback to throw the ball to him. He has to depend on every member of the team to be where they’re supposed to be, and to do what they’re supposed to do. Likewise, they know that they need to be in place, doing their jobs because their teams are counting on them as well.

They’re also learning how to manage their time. They need to complete their homework right after school on days they have practice. They know the importance of keeping their grades up so they’re eligible to play.

By participating in sports, kids learn sportsmanship. They learn how to win with grace and lose with dignity. They understand the importance of playing hard and they take competition seriously, yet they know, in the end, that it’s just a game. They follow the rules for everyone’s safety and enjoyment and when all is said and done, win or lose, they have fun playing and competing.

So, I let my kids play sports.  And I go to all the practices and games.  And I cheer.  And I take pictures.  And I attempt to understand the rules.  And I sometimes look the other way when my son is getting tackled or my daughter is flying because, in my opinion, the rewards are worth the risks.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back-to-School Nightmares, er Memories

Today was 'Meet the Teacher' day here in Orange County.  And just like last year, every school was open to pick up schedules and meet teachers all on the same day.  I have two kids in high school, two kids in middle school, and two kids in grade school, and since I still haven't perfected my cloning device or teleportation machine, it was a trick getting everywhere at once.  Unlike last year when I had a meltdown of epic proportions (You can read about me breaking down, losing it, and crying in the middle of the high school campus here.  Go ahead; I'll wait.  I don't mind reliving the humiliation.) , my super-powers were intact and working this year and I managed to take care of everything.

We had ‘Meet the Teacher’ day at my school today too.  I had two kids show up.  Two.  It doesn’t really surprise me since the reason most of my students are with me is because there’s a lack of support at home.  I can’t wait to see my students on Monday!  I’m in a much better place myself this year and I’m really looking forward to working with these kids.  I love being able to make a positive difference!

After that, we headed over to the middle school so Jackson and Lexi could get their schedules and find their classrooms.  I still can’t get over how enormous the schools are down here.  Back home the middle school consisted of one building.  Down here, it’s comprised of ten buildings and eight portables.  If I was back in middle school, I’d fake being sick every day just to avoid having to navigate such an overwhelming campus.  Oh wait, I kind of AM back in middle school!  I think I feel a fever coming on . . .

From there, we went to the grade school, or elementary school, or whatever they call it down here.  While we were there, Brooklyn had to give a hug to her teacher from last year before meeting her new teacher.  Her new teacher seems really nice and I think Brooklyn will have a good year, even though she was more interested in eating the graham crackers her teacher had set out than in answering her teacher’s questions.

Clay stopped by to say hello to his teacher from last year.  As he did his goofy, spazzy, running-like-a-dork-with-his-arms-flapping thing, his teacher smiled and said, “I miss that run!”  I’m pretty sure that’s code for, “I’m so glad you’re not in my class this year!”

Finally, we went upstairs to meet Clayton’s teacher.  As I filled out some paperwork for her, she talked to my kids.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“Lexi,” my daughter answered.

“And what’s your name,” she asked Brooklyn.

Brooklyn answered and told her she was in first grade this year.

Then the teacher turned to Clayton and stated, “And I know you’re Clayton.”

Keeping his head straight ahead, Clay looked up at her through his lashes and said in the most sarcastic way possible, “No, I’m Bob.” 

I heaved a huge sigh and simply apologized in advance for the entire year of having Clay in her class.  Then I recalled Austin telling his art teacher a couple years ago that his name was Paco.  He went by “Paco” all year in that class.  I made a note to go home and yell at Austin for corrupting Clay.

There’s nothing about last year’s ‘Meet-the-Teacher’ event that I want to remember.  And although this year went a thousand times more smoothly, it’s probably not something I really need to remember either.  I think I’ll break out the video camera to record our last weekend of fun and freedom before school starts instead.  I’ll go around and tape everyone talking about school and their hopes and expectations for the upcoming year.  It’ll be cool to look back on that later.

What back-to-school memories do you capture on video?  Is there something special you record every year?

Want to capture your own family memories on video? We’re giving away two Sony Handycams! To enter for a chance to win, simply comment on any Sony-sponsored post (including this one) with an answer to the following question: what’s your favorite family memory? Contest runs through 11:59 p.m. EDT on September 30th, 2012, and you may enter once per post. Contest is open to U.S. residents only.

Want a chance to win weekly prizes like a Sony Handycam or a $200 Disney shopping card? Enter to win here!

A big thanks to Sony for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Brand-New Year, Deserves a Make-Over

Last year was my first year working in my school (or any school, for that matter). In fact, it was my first year working outside the house in seventeen years. I was so overwhelmed with moving across the country away from all my family and friends, trying to figure out everything in a very new place, and going back to work while trying to juggle everything and take care of my kids all on my own. Because of all that, I didn’t really do anything to my classroom last year. Other than the addition of a couple posters on the walls and a picture frame on my desk, my room looked just like every other plain, white, institutional room.

Over the year, I developed a routine.  I learned to navigate this new place, new schools, new procedures.  I got new insurance and found some new doctors.  I started meeting people.  I figured out what needed to be done in each school for each kid.  I made some friends and learned how to do my job.

This year, now that I’m in a more comfortable place mentally, I wanted to make a more comfortable place in my classroom.  I spend forty hours a week there, why wouldn’t I want a comfy place in which to spend all that time?  And I really want to create an inviting place for my students.  I’m hoping my warm, friendly environment will help make them look forward to my class each day.

Here’s what I’ve done to my room.  If you’re a teacher, please feel free to duplicate anything you like.  And leave me comments with great ideas you’ve used in your classrooms!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Geography Lessons

Watching the Olympics, I've come to the realization that my geography knowledge is a little lacking. A couple times, I've had to google a country to learn where it's located. Every time I've been curious, I've looked up information about the country. What I should have been doing, however, is sharing this information with my kids because their geography skills . . . oh boy!

When I was cleaning out my closet a couple weeks ago, I found a few school papers that had strayed from their respective boxes. Among them was this gem from Clayton. He wrote this paper a couple years ago. I’ll copy it in plain English here (in case you don’t speak First Grader).

My Trip to America from Alabama
by Clayton Meehan

DATE: 2010
PLACE: Alabama

I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were four states battling. I was so scared. I hid under my bed and then I heard my mom. She said, “Are you coming?”

I said, “Where?”

She said, “To America, duh.”


“To get away from the war.”

“Okay. I can’t spend one last minute in here. It’s so not fun. There’s nothing to do.”

It’s puzzling to me. How could Clayton write such a thing? I mean, it’s understandable how he might think Alabama is another country, but why did he write a line with me saying ‘duh’ to him? Now, does that really sound like something I’d say? I don’t talk like that, duh!

Please don’t be offended, Alabamians. I know you’ve been part of this country since the war of 2010.

Friday, August 10, 2012

I Have a Driver! And a Wet Butt. And Apparently, a SpongeBob Problem.

I took Savannah back to the DMV once more today. We walked in and were immediately asked, “Do you have an appointment?” I anticipated the woman telling us that they didn’t have time for any walk-ins today at which point I would jump over the desk and slap her. Or do something really horrible like make her listen to asinine insurance commercials on my phone. I might even go as far as bringing Brooklyn in so she could ask her if her tooth is any looser. Repeatedly. Hour after hour. All day. But I don’t usually resort to such acts of terrorism.

I got defensive and bit out, “Well we HAD an appointment two days ago when your computers were down, so we waited here for THREE hours. THEN we were told we could come back without an appointment, so we came back yesterday and were informed that you were too busy for walk-ins. THEN we were told we could come back any time today, so here we are. I narrowed my eyes at her, challenging, nay daring, her to send us home again.

She knew what was good for her, so she closed her mouth and issued us a number. After a long time, it was finally our turn to go outside to await the test administrator. As we sat in the van, I couldn’t keep my inner SpongeBob from surfacing.

“Before you can learn to drive, you must first learn to crawl, then you can learn to walk, and then to run. But before you can learn to walk, you must first learn to crawl. I want you to crawl! Oh yeah, and no eating in my classroom.”

Savannah joined in. “Ooh, pebble #143. Ha! You will not trip me up pebble #143!”

“Now, when the tester gets in the car and asks why the door creaks and sticks, don’t tell her it’s because your mom hit a guy on bike. Because in all fairness, I didn’t really hit him. He ran into me. He was drinking beer as he riding, for crying out loud. Just tell her that we bought the car this way.”

Savannah rolled her eyes. We sat in silence for a few moments. Then I looked around the van. “Maybe you can get extra points for having a clean car,” I suggested. I started picking up granola bar wrappers, sand-covered flip flops, empty water bottles, a banana peel, a play phone, and a pair of underwear (I don’t know.) Savannah looked around the floor, then we eyed each other dubiously. “Yeah well, they probably don’t give extra points for that anyway.”

We continued to wait our turn and my mind started wandering back to SpongeBob. “Remember, when she gets in the car, look at her and ask, ‘Floor it?’”

Savannah was no longer amused. So, of course, I continued. “And if she makes you back up, make sure you say, ‘Backing up, backing up, backing up’ repeatedly while driving in reverse until you run out of gas.”

Savannah eyed me. “You watch too much SpongeBob, Mom,” she said, her voice laced with exasperation (and perhaps a trace of pity).

Finally, the tester walked over to our car and I got out of the passenger seat so she could get in. I took a seat on a step outside the DMV to wait while Savannah took the test. As soon as I sat down, I jumped back up because the door mat covering the step was soaking wet. I reached back and felt the dampness on my pants. My butt was covered in doormat sludge! I faced an entire line of cars awaiting their turns. When Savannah finished the test, I had to do some sideways crabwalk to keep my butt facing the building as I walked around to the front door so no one would see my wet butt.

Savannah suppressed a smile as she exclaimed, “I did it! I got my, what the crap are you doing, Mom? Why are you walking like that?”

“Congratulations, honey! I knew you’d do it! Now walk behind me so no one can see my wet butt.”

So now I have an official driver. That’s one down and five more to go.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

They Were Cones!

Savannah got her permit when we first moved to Florida last summer.  She’s been driving regularly since then.  Other than the time she took out the neighbor’s mailbox (the thing flew across the yard !) she’s done a great job.  She even drove a large part of the way on our trip to Illinois and back this summer.  She has been counting down the days until she can get her license. 

Well, the day came and went because we didn’t realize that she needed an appointment to take the driving test, and that not all facilities offered the test.  Savannah went online and grabbed the first available appointment she could find.  Unfortunately, it was at a facility that was far, far, far, far away.  The day came and I drove her there.  She showed them the paperwork, they took her picture, then sent us outside to wait for someone to administer the test. 

It started raining while we were waiting because it’s Florida, it’s July, and it’s afternoon, and that is what it does in Florida in July in the afternoon.  As the clouds rolled in, I reminded Savannah, “Make sure you turn on the lights.  And increase your following distance.”  However, I warned her about the wrong things; I should’ve reminded her not to hit anything instead.

Savannah drove off with the tester.  When she pulled back into the parking lot, she was not smiling.  Uh-oh, I thought, that doesn’t look like a good sign.  As the tester walked back inside, Savannah stomped over to me and growled, “I didn’t get it.”

“I kinda figured.  What happened?”

I didn’t use my turn signals for the three- point-turn.  Do you use signals for a three-point-turn, Mom?”

“No, I don’t, but I never do a three-point-turn in traffic.  If I make a turn like that, I make sure there are no other cars around at all so I have no one to warn with signals,” I admitted.  “You can’t get your license just because of that?” I asked, a little surprised.

“No,” Savannah grumbled.  “I hit a cone when I pulled out of the parking space.”

“Oh,” I said sadly.  I felt bad because I know she would’ve done just fine if she was driving something smaller than “the church van”.  I tried to lighten the mood.  “Did you tell her – they were cones?”  (This is a line from the movie The Wedding Singer when Adam Sandler teased the limo driver of hitting potential wedding guests to which the driver replied, “They were cones!”  For some reason, the line cracked us up when we saw the movie and stuck with us.) 

I could tell Savannah was really upset when she didn’t laugh at that, so I told her it wasn’t a big deal and she’d get it on her next try.

So Savannah made another appointment at a different location for Wednesday. We went. We waited. We were told their entire computer system was down. We waited some more. We contemplated harming the little kid who kept smacking into our seats. We waited some more. We contemplated hurting the little kid’s mother who just looked on, oblivious as to how annoying her kid was. We waited some more. Another kid started screaming. Savannah and I looked at each other and made a hasty retreat.

Yesterday, we were told that she didn’t actually need an appointment and could return any time to take the test. So we returned yet again today. We walked in, approached the desk, and were promptly told they didn’t have time for walk-ins today because they were backed up due to their system being down yesterday. Seeing my eyes glaze over, Savannah grabbed my hand and led me outside before I jumped over the desk and strangled the man who so nonchalantly dished out bad news.

I’ve given up. She doesn’t really need a license anyway. We only have the one car and I need it for work. She can get a job and save up for a car. Of course, she needs a car to get to her job. This single mom thing is hard.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

On the Mend

I’ve had several people ask me for an update on my health. My leg doesn’t hurt to walk anymore which is awesome. But the veins are still hard and a bit inflamed, and I may kick you if you try to touch my leg because it’s still sore on the surface. I still get short-of-breath pretty easily, but I’ve started walking on the treadmill once again which is good because I’ve gained about a million pounds with all my prolonged inactivity.

I only need to have my blood drawn once a week now instead of every other day. I was starting to feel like a pin cushion for awhile there!  I’m not thrilled about taking the blood thinners because I bruise very easily and for a clutz like me, that means I’m already covered in purple blotches.  And Tylenol is the only pain reliever I can take. Unfortunately, Tylenol does absolutely nothing for me, especially for dealing with my endometriosis.  Not fun.  But whatcha gonna do?

A couple weeks ago, I slipped on some spilled water and fell.  I smacked my head against the refrigerator pretty hard, twisted my back and landed in a contorted heap on the floor.  Ordinarily, I would’ve gotten up, yelled at the kids for spilling water and not wiping it up, then limped about my day.  But because of the blood thinners, I had to worry that I might be bleeding internally.  Little things like that are annoying.  Of course, the alternative isn’t so great either.

When I saw the hematologist last week, I had a list of questions for him. I ended with the most important question of all. “But can I drink while being on the Coumadin?” I nodded slightly as if I could subliminally get him to say yes simply by gesturing with my head.

He gave me the standard ‘I can’t condone this, but won’t tell you no either’ answer. “Well, it would be a really bad thing if you got drunk. But I suppose a, one, singular, drink on occasion would be okay.”

I’ve gone many months at a stretch without drinking. I mean, I’ve been pregnant and breastfed six times. Plus, being married to a recovering alcoholic, I didn’t keep alcohol in the house while I was married, so I’ve never really been a big drinker. It wouldn’t be a big deal if I was only going to be on the blood thinners for a few months, but this is a life-long thing. The idea of never having another glass of wine is unthinkable! What am I suppose to do after an especially stressful day with my students? (If you say, “Exercise”, I’ll slap you. Just a warning.)

My friend, Cheri found a loophole though. The doctor didn’t specify what size drink I can have. :D

Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other

The principal of my school had a speaker come in today to talk to the math teachers. I’m not a math teacher, but I do help students with math regularly so I was invited to attend as well. The principal insisted I would enjoy it. She used words like “fun” and “awesome” to describe the event. In my world, the words “fun” and “awesome” do not belong in the same sentence with the word “math”. Sitting through seven hours of math talk sounds almost as delightful as peeling off my skin and rolling in a pool of salt. Still, I trust my principal and and if she said this would help me to help my students, I was onboard with it.

So, the speaker gave us these problems and told us to solve them without using algorithms.  Since I had no clue what an algorithm was anyway, I figured I could give it a shot.  She asked us, “What’s 5/8 divided by 1/4?  Draw a picture to solve this problem.”  While all these math teachers could answer the question immediately by using ‘keep, change, flip’, they puzzled a bit over the idea of drawing a picture.  I, on the other hand, being a visual learner who has to regularly draw pictures in my mind to solve problems, found this to be pretty easy.

The speaker was amazing and really got us to think about using different methods to teach kids math so that they truly understand what they’re doing and, more importantly, why they’re doing it,  instead of just memorizing different formulas to come up with solutions.  However, as the day wore on and the math teachers continued to call out complicated solutions to problems, my eyes glazed over and my brain started to bleed.  I didn’t understand their reasoning.  I couldn’t keep up with their thinking.  At this point, realizing I was in a completely different (and slightly stupid)  league from these guys, I gave up.  I spent the rest of the session in my little right-brained world doing this . . .

math21 224x300 Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other 

and this . . .

math1 300x224 Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other

and, well, you get the idea.  I may have a math deficiency, but I’ve got an abundance of creativity.  It’s the way I work.  And perhaps, my math ineptitude will give me an edge on understanding my students’ frustration, and the ability to help them comprehend concepts.  Either that, or we’ll all just build houses and sculptures with the base ten cubes.  Six of one, half dozen of the other . . . (That’s an idiom, not a math problem so I can use it here.)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Going for Gold (or a trip to the ER)

My kids and I have been avidly watching the Olympics. We watch the events live during the day. We watch the recorded events in the evening. We watch until the programming goes off the air here and the folks in London are crawling home from the pubs. (I actually have no idea when Londoners crawl home from pubs or even if they crawl home from pubs, but our American programming did a whole segment on pub crawls in London, and if the TV says so, it must be true.)

I think it’s safe to say we have Olympic Fever.  But there’s this phenomenon that happens every time the Olympics come around.  Perhaps you’re familiar with it.  Maybe it happens with you too.  After spending obscene amounts of time watching these athletes perform, I start to think, I can do that!  These incredible athletes make their perspective sports look so darn easy that I find myself believing that I can do anything they do which is a joke because even when I was young, thin, and in good condition, I couldn’t do any of those things.  I’m quite possibly the most unathletic person on the planet.  In fact, I still occasionally awaken in a cold sweat from nightmares wherein I relive the humiliation of trying to climb to the top of the rope in my grade school gym class while my peers look on, laughing.

I was at the pool with my kids yesterday when I decided I was just as good as Michael Phelps.  I jumped into the water and started swimming, convinced I could cover 400 meters in three and a half minutes.  However, being old, out-of-shape, and recovering from a blood clot in my lung, I didn’t quite make it.  I swam 10 meters, stopped, gasped for breath, then decided swimming was for fish.  But . . .

There’s still synchronized swimming!  I could totally do that!  Well, I could do the Martin Short, SNL version of synchronized swimming at least.  You know, standing in waist-high water while pointing at someone.  “I know you!  I know you!”  Okay, maybe synchronized swimming is out too.

Volleyball!  I can play volleyball!  I could totally hold my own with Misty and Kerri!  How hard could it possibly be to hit a ball over a net, right?  Anyone can do that!  I’d probably be on the Olympic volleyball team myself if it wasn’t for one tiny little detail.  I scream and duck anytime the ball comes near me.  What?  It could cause some serious pain if you took a volleyball in the face!  If I could just get over my fear of the ball, I know I could win gold.

But gymnastics . . . my favorite sport to watch is gymnastics.  Those guys flip around like they’re weightless.  They make it look absolutely effortless! 

“I could do that,” I said aloud to no one in particular, after watching a remarkably agile gymnast complete her floor routine.  My kids heard me.  And laughed.  Uproariously.  They fell off the couches laughing.  They held their stomachs and rolled on the floor laughing.  They laughed until tears rolled down their cheeks.  They snorted.

“What?” I asked incredulously, completely absorbed in the delusion that I was a gymnast. 

“You think you can do that?” my kids asked, eyebrows raised, heads cocked toward the TV.

“Well, it would take some practice,” I admitted.

“Go ahead, Mom.  Show us what you can do,” my kids challenged.

“Okay,” I happily agreed, jumping from the couch to prove what an awesome athlete I am.  I got down on my knees and put my head to the floor to demonstrate my amazing somersault skills. 

“Go ahead, Mom.  Let’s see,” my kids taunted me.

“I’m afraid I’m going to flop onto my back and it’ll hurt.”  I stalled.

“You can’t make it to the Olympics if you can’t even do a somersault, Mom!”

“Give me a minute!” I snapped.  “This takes time.  I need to psych myself up for this.”

“Okay, you keep telling yourself that, Mom.”

“Okay, here I go . . .”  I leaned forward.  Then stopped.  Then leaned forward again.  Then stopped and sat back on my knees.  Then leaned forward.  Then stopped again.

“Yeah, Mom.  Don’t quit your day job.”

So maybe I won’t ever compete in the Olympics.  But it would be a shame to put all these hours of watching to waste.  Obviously, with my copious experience, I should be a judge.  Now please excuse me.  I’m off to critique the uneven bar performances.

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