Thursday, August 28, 2008

Our Favorite, #1 Summer Pastime...Boating!

Due to Eric's travels last summer, we didn't get the boat out at all. This summer, with Eric's foot surgery and complications, we got a slow start on bringing our boat out. But, when we finally got it out, we have made up for lost time!!!
We dream and we plan, we watch the weather forecast and we threaten ("If jobs don't get done, we can't take off to the lake!") Some days, after carefully laid plans, we would awake to cloudy, blustery skies. Everyone would be bitterly disappointed. Then, when a boat day turned out sunny, moods were high!
First, find everyone's swimsuits. Sunscreen is just kept on the boat. Towels are found. Our Wee One bargains to wear her life jacket already in her carseat, she's so excited. Then, it's off to get gas, food, and ice for the big cooler we have onboard. We have our traditional food: uncrustables, corn chips, saltines, and cheese spread for lunch. 24-case of water. 12-pack of little Gatorades. 6-pack of diet Mountain Dew. AND....a big bag of Tootsies....the variety pack. Dad gets all the Dots....Mom and Dad get dibs on the blue Tootsies. The kids and Dad split the suckers. And everyone loves to twist brown Tootsies and fruit-flavored Tootsies.
Off to the lake we go! First we boat around and around...reaquainting ourselves with all the familiar sights around the lake. We check the wind direction. We watch for weed patches. Then we pick the perfect spot for anchoring. We anchor, shut off the motor, turn on the piano music, and with the water gently lapping on the side of the boat, it's time to swim.
After swimming and many made-up games, we pull out the lunch from the cooler, the ice chunks sparkling like diamonds, and the drink bottles almost frosty with chill and water drops. After eating, Dad pulls out the Tootsie bag and begins the doling process. After food has settled and another quick dip to cool off, it's time to tube.
Our lake adventures usually last many hours and finally, after satisfyingly tired and a titch sunburned, we head back in, anxious for the next time!
What a true family bonding time!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Photo Story Friday...The End!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Well, here we are. The long-awaited moment. They have been belted, these two girls of mine. *Dont' mess with them, by the way! :)*

What do I feel? Relief? Satisfaction? Pride? Happiness for them?

All of the above, plus Uncertainty. Loss. Fear. Hesitation.

Strange emotions but probably contributing to the emotions is the fact that our long-time instructor is now done. We start over with a new instructor. I already know that he is very good but yet, it's a change.
As choatic as every Thursday night was (karate night), I will miss all four of the girls in class. At the same time, it will be so fun to focus just on the next two girls. I think they will like it too. My oldest two now can come and help with teaching. And they will be called "Sensei". Funny! :) I think they will think it's funny too. And probably giggle a little the first couple times they are called that.
I will start a new chapter in karate too. A little stressful to think of all the stuff I need to be able to do. For my second degree black belt I need to meet the following requirements:
*8 board breaks (4 hand strikes, 4 kicks)
*break 3 bricks (patio pavers...1 5/7" thick each) stacked, with pencils separating them
*spar other black belts for 15 minutes straight (they rotate every couple minutes so they always come in fresh..with too much energy :s
*learn and perform a new KATA...this time about a 50-move KATA versus a 66-move we haven't even begun to learn
*create a new KATA, at least 30 moves, write it down and perform it flawlessly
Whew! Makes me tired thinking about it!!! A new challenge to strive towards!
We had a very nice ceremony for the girls. The instructor is truly gifted in speaking and had very, very nice speeches about each of the girls. I think it was a pretty special night for them. For all of us. Plus, a bunch of my family came to watch them get "belted". We had fun! And celebrated with Cotton Candy blizzards afterwards (a rarity) at my sister's house. And stayed up way too late!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Add two Black Belts to the mix!

Well, the girls have finished all their requirements for their black belts except their essays. They have to turn in an essay each that tells different things like why they started karate, what, in their minds, constitutes a "black belt"...etc. They are very excited to be done! They've worked hard and had a lot of fun in the meantime. They will be belted with their black belts almost exactly four years after they began.

Of course, I didn't have my camera with me for most of the testing. I had my husband take some pictures on his phone but I don't have that with me to transfer onto here. I will post some pictures when I have them. Their testing included three board breaks (they each broke two boards with kicks and one with a hand strike), five minutes of full-contact sparring with black belts (six of us rotated through in 50 second intervals, each taking a different "attack" with a fake knife, one from behind with a choke hold, one with a frontal gun attack, etc.). Then they each had to perform a 66-move KATA (a sequence of 66 moves that they have been working on and building on for the past 4 years). They were required to know 81 moves, a combination of strikes, blocks, kicks and escapes and were randomly tested on them. They did very well on all these tests!

The girls began karate when our oldest was beginning second grade (seven years old) and the second one was in first grade (six years old). Now they are eleven and ten. We've gone through three instructors. The first one was with us for quite a while, the second only about two semesters. The instructor we have now has been with us the longest. We have really enjoyed his classes. He just announced last week that he will be moving to a location nearer to his home and a new instructor will be taking his place. The girls are not too sure they like this change, although the instructor taking his place is the president for our state's chapter for the school of self defense we attend. He is very good, we already know that. It's just the change thing that will be difficult. Even I am a bit apprehensive, although my sister had this instructor for her daughter and they loved him. I assist with teaching, since I got my first degree black belt almost two years ago. I am a bit nervous since every person's technique is a bit different and I worry that my karate may seem shoddy in his opinion. :)

This December I qualify to test out for my second degree black belt. Another man will also be testing out for his second degree black belt and if he passes, he then will take over the class in January. He and I tested for our black belts at the same time so we all know and are comfortable with will be nice to have him teach then if he does. I will continue assisting with the class if I pass my second degree or not.

The other girls are also doing quite well. Our third daughter is about exactly halfway done and our fourth daughter is about 2 semesters from halfway. They have begun to really try hard and do well with their moves and really enjoy the class more and more. It's been a fun process for all of us!

August 21st we will be having the girls' award ceremony/belting ceremony. I will be sure to post pictures then!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Photo Story Friday...A Wee One Winks!

We discovered today our Wee One knows how to wink. When asked to pose, she did so willingly..
Her only request? "Let me see." (the picture after I took it)
Her only assessment of the picture? "I hate my hair!" Ahhh, they start young with that stuff, don't they?
(She had warned me that morning, "Don't put my hair in a ponytail!!!" I thought she just didn't like the feel of one. I guess she doesn't like the appearance of ponytail hair! How do they even know what they think is cute and what they don't? Isn't she just a tad young to have an opinion on fashion?)
PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Notice Anything Different?

My sitemeter...Gone! My new Blog List...Gone!!! Apparently there is some problem with Blogger and most of my favorite sites give me some weird message that goes something like this, "Internet Explorer unable to open....(blog site)..Abort Operation!" On someone's blog I read that the culprit is the sitemeter...get rid of it is what they basically said you must do to be able to get on others' blogs and vice versa. Then after ridding myself of that (I can live without my sitemeter) with no problem resolution, I went onto the "Help" site for Blogger. There I read something about Blog Lists being the problem. It took me a while to delete that because I wasn't so sure it would solve the problem. After finally deleting it, I was much saddened to see that my problem remains. Now I have to rebuild my Blog List! Some of those addresses I had to do some serious digging to find, too! Well, I guess I have my work cut out for me! :)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Photo Story Friday (on Saturday)..A Wee Child's Imagination

"Mom! He got out of the book!!!?!" She found this little Aladdin and recognized him for the guy we've read about so many times. How did he get out???
(And I'm not exactly sure why I needed to post all these pics of her! It was just that as fast as I could click the "capture" button...granted, my phone camera's a little slow...she had a different pose and expression...and mood!)
PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek