Lately my blog entries have been more reflective than newsy, so I thought I'd remedy the situation with a few News Clips.
A month ago I got most of my hair chopped off. I like it ... it's sort of medium-short, down to the angle of my jaw. The other day Fiona was asked to say something funny by some members of Erin & Noah's soccer team. She said "Mommy's hair funny, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!" That got a big laugh from everyone. At least she's no longer asking me, in all seriousness "Mommy, are you a boy?"
Erin has had a couple of rehearsals of her Bach Piano Concerto in E major 'siciliano' movement with the Nelson string orchestra and it's going swimmingly. Her memorization is excellent and it's absolutely no problem to put together with the orchestra. At the last rehearsal she actually added some phrasing and dynamics, wonder of wonders! She has a lovely dress to wear for the performances, a fairly slim-tailored black velvet one with a lacey ivory white bodice. Nice and formal without being kiddie-pageant little-girlish, or flamboyant and slinky. Unfortutely we haven't found shoes yet to go with it. Besides Walmart, local selection is virtually non-existent.
I did an uncharacteristically sensible thing and booked myself and the kids into a B&B in Nelson for the four days leading up to the Concerto Concert. We'll be staying at a family-friendly guest house run by some homeschooling acquaintances of ours. This will allow us to avoid four additional back-and-forths to Nelson that week for the cascade of final rehearsals (generally speaking more than 2 trips to Nelson a week is considered unacceptable to the kids) and to have relaxing days uncluttered by all the extra things we get busy with at home (soccer, GRUBS, housework, playdates, errands, etc.). I think it will be a very nice time.
Our new minivan finally showed up and it's fantastic. So quiet, a dream to drive, and incredibly flexible in terms of seating and payload. We're also getting at least an extra 150 km on a (marginally smaller) tank of gas. Our trips to Nelson are so much nicer. We can converse with each other. We can listen to music or audiobooks without having to crank the stereo up so loud over top of the road & engine noise that we all go into sensory overload after 20 minutes and have to shut it off.
The soccer season is more than half over. I pushed Noah a little to join up because he clearly enjoyed kicking a soccer ball around at home, but was leery of the team/competitive mentality. He agreed to try it for three practices, and was instantly hooked. Erin didn't want to sign up until she discovered she'd be on the same team as Noah so she was in. Sophie didn't want to sign up until I explained that she wasn't expected to already know how to play, that the whole program was about helping kids learn to play. She's on a younger team which is a good fit for her. They're all enjoying it even though it's taking up a lot of time each week.
However, there's that whole winning/losing thing. Fully a third of their soccer time is spent in games. There's no attempt to compile 'league standings', score is kept in a low-key and somewhat informal way (they stop counting if one team is wiping the field with the other) and it's understood that the teams vary a lot in age and ability due to the varying size of the communities and schools involved. Still, when the two local teams were formed, the kids were divvied up on the basis of personality i.e. aggressiveness. Erin and Noah ended up on the team with all the less aggressive players, and all they do is get creamed in games (10 or 12 to 0 or 1). I think the idea of putting the less aggressive players together makes a certain amount of sense. The rowdiness, rudeness and physical hits of the "other" team are not contaminating the experience of these more sensitive kids. On the other hand, Erin and Noah and three or so of the other kids are pretty decent players, while the majority of their team-mates are either afraid of the ball, uninterested in soccer or totally distractable. We drove 2 hours one way last week to another town for a special game that was supposed to be more evenly matched, but the opposing team got a little mixed up over the format of the game and included, unbeknownst to us, four pretty adept players from an older age-group. So the kids got trounced again.
Erin and Noah aren't overly upset over all of this; the losses kind of roll off them, which I'm a little surprised and very pleased about. But a number of their team-mates / friends are feeling pretty depressed about the losses and that's affecting the whole 'team morale' and everyone's enjoyment of the whole experience.
The problem to my mind is not with the composition of the team or with the poor matching of the opposing teams, but with the focus on weekly competitive games. During practices the kids are perfectly happy to scrimmage in a flexible way with other local kids without rigid team assignments. At "home", they often divide into three teams and rotate playing A vs. B, B vs. C then C vs. A, five minutes at a time. There are goals and there are saves and they are serious about the play. But team assignments are flexible and no one group of kids gets consistently beaten. They learn and take a supportive interest in each other's successes, often high-fiving members of the opposite 'team'. Their coach is just amazing at nurturing this kind of environment. To me this is the ideal format for these kids. The mood becomes much more upbeat by the end of the week's two practices, but the games on the weekend make it tough to stay motivated.
Ah well, overall it's still been a great experience for them.
The kitchen renovation is showing signs of being imminent. Our entire kitchen will be gutted sometime in the next month. This is something that was in the ten-year plan when we moved into our house eleven years ago. Plumbing will be moved, bricks and concrete footings will be broken up and removed, floor leveled, walls insulated, flooring replaced, drywall finished, cabinets replaced, peninsula built, new range and sink installed, pantry built etc. etc.. The two guys who were hopefully going to do the lion's share of the grunt work have somewhat unexpectedly got very busy, and Chuck is facing the prospect of having to work full days in the clinic plus on-call (rather than the half days he currently works) as the clinic moves to Electronic Medical Records. We're still planning to go ahead in about a week, but just writing it here I'm beginning to wonder if we should wait another month. We'll see. We've put together a couple of the lovely IKEA cabinets and they're waiting hopefully in the dining room along with the cork flooring.
Our garden is basically in. With most of our gardening energy going into the GRUBS garden site in town, we've planted a little more conservatively than in previous years. Still, I'm feeling quite good about the home garden, which had gone quite feral in the years I had three very young children. I've made a lot of small cumulative gains in the past three years and have had to put much less energy into preparing the beds this year than in past years. The onions/garlic/shallots, peas/beans, squash/cukes and lettuce/spinach are all up and growing well. The perennials (raspberries, asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, etc.) are all showing increasing productivity one year to the next.
I think that covers most of the newsy stuff. I'll probably be back in Reflective Mode by my next entry.