Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Camp Report, Week One (of one)

I know many parents who spend the summer finding various camps to break up the monotony of their children's idle summer. Our situation doesn't really allow for that- our kids attend the Idlewild Children Center's "Summer Camp," which is really just summer daycare at the same place they attend school-year daycare and after school care.

Last year I added swimming lessons to the mix (and the expense), and this summer Connor was old enough to attend a real basketball camp. The week of July 18, he attended camp at Rhodes College, under the guidance of our men's basketball team's head coach. It was quite an experience for Connor.

There was a choice of going half or full days. I considered half days, so that he wouldn't be too lonely for his Idlewild friends, but then one of his buddies decided to attend full days with us. As it turns out, they were the only two eight-year-olds to stay all day- all of the other younger kids left at lunchtime. This was a big deal, since the camp was designed for boys in grades 3-9. They were the smallest and least-developed kids there by far!

Connor came home each night totally exhausted. The boys played basketball from 9-11 a.m., then swam for an hour and had lunch/reading/goof-off time for an hour after that. Then they played basketball again from 1-4 p.m. As early as Tuesday morning, Connor was complaining about how much his legs and butt hurt! (It kind of made me want to sign myself up for basketball camp.)

They worked on a lot of ball-handling drills that really frustrated Connor. They were clearly above his developmental abilities. He was also nervous about playing in scrimmages with boys who were bigger and older than he is. I tried to assure him that the older boys understood what it was like to be eight, and were probably very impressed with him for giving it his best effort. I could see he was skeptical- Connor likes to be perfect and doesn't want anyone to know that there's anything he can't do. But overall, he was thrilled to be learning so much and also to be spending his days playing basketball, his favorite activity.

On Friday, there was a presentation for the parents. We could come at 3:00 to watch some scrimmages, then around 3:30 there would be a skills demonstration. When I arrived around 3:00, Connor was sitting on the bleachers with tears in his eyes. He ran over to me and pulled up his lip to show me his injury, adding, "I took a charge, then a guy accidentally stepped on my mouth. I don't want to play!" I could tell the tears were really from his utter exhaustion at the end of a week of hard work, so I said, "Get some water, then get in the game! You're fine!" And he was. Playing against much bigger kids, he managed to pull down rebounds at both ends of the floor, steal the ball, and make two baskets in a ten minute scrimmage. He was positively glowing. He lost some steam as they demonstrated the skill drills. He was right- they were too hard for him! The coach assured the parents that he only introduces stuff like this to the younger kids to give them something to work towards. He understands that it's beyond their skill level. It really helped Connor to hear the coach say that to everyone.

As we left, Connor was full of ways he could build on the momentum of the week. He wanted to make sure and spend 10-20 minutes a night working on skills, even if it's too hot to play much ball. He didn't want to lose the muscle he was building in his legs either. But most of all, he just wanted to eat a big snack and fall asleep as soon as possible.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Beachin' It

Beach vacation!  There's not much to report verbally about our trip to Inlet Beach with the Alley-Brown clan.  Lots of relaxing, reading, expanding the range of appropriate times of day to drink alcoholic beverages, long discussions about books and child-rearing, taking pictures... you know, the usual.

I tried something different for the big group photo this year:

Definitely the best part of the beach house this year-- the two outdoor decks facing the ocean. I could sit out there for hours.  Or years.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Gidget's Night Out

On Saturday night, I had a dream that someone drunk and violent crashed his car into Tiffany's car, which was parked on the steep hill in front of her house (?), and was where her dogs lived (??). Then the guy started pulling all of the dogs out of their car/home and putting them into HIS car, stealing them! And everyone was freaking out and totally scared of the guy, but I bravely ran up and grabbed Gidget by the collar (because Gidget was there? dreams are weird) and said, "This is MY dog, not Tiff's! You can't take her!" and the mean man didn't stop me as I pulled Gidget away.

I woke up Sunday, remembered the dream, and started questioning what it meant about my relationship with Gidget. As many of you know, I'm not that into dogs. The last year and a half have been hard on me. I've gone from, "No, I still hate dogs," to "Gidget's a good dog, considering she's a dog," to "I love Gidget and all, but I still don't really like having a dog." Sunday morning I realized that I did like having a dog, even if I'm never going to be the kind of "dog person" who loves being licked and sleeps with their dogs. Maybe I was turning a corner with her after all.

Then Sunday night, she ran away.

Chip and I were closing up shop a little after 10:00. Apparently Gidget was more freaked out by the neighborhood fireworks than her attitude had let on. Chip let her outside to pee, turned his head for a second, and she was off. He ran after her, but she was not responding. I put on flip flops with my PJs and followed him outside. A quick tour of our immediate neighborhood didn't turn anything up. "I guess I'll get in the car," Chip said. "I guess I'll get a bra," I replied.

For the next two hours, Chip drove around the neighborhood, retracing all of our regular walking and jogging routes and making larger and larger circles around the center point of our house. Meanwhile, I walked our block over and over, calling for Gidget, going up and down driveways, and talking to any number of neighbors who were up enjoying the holiday weekend. No Gidget.

Around 12:30 we collapsed, assuming that she would come home or that someone would find her and call the number on her collar. Then a couple of hours later, I woke up, panicking. "You've got to get back in the car!" I implored, my mothering instincts getting the better of me. We got up and looked out of every window in the house, then Chip gave up and grabbed his car keys. Before he left, I turned to look out the kitchen window- suddenly there she was, running across the street towards the house! Whew.

A few days later, and she's still totally freaked out. She has been hiding around the house, despite the absence of any firecracker noise. It takes a lot of effort to get her to go outside at night to use the bathroom (she's okay during the day) and her appetite has waned. I've asked her a million times where she went and what she did Sunday night, but she won't tell me. I'm sure in time she'll come around. And I guess I will too. She's my dog, and I love her, even if I still don't really want her to lick me.

Monday, July 04, 2011


There was a time when we often regaled you folks with tales of our Saturday night dinners. It was as much about me learning food photography (although some of those old posts make me shudder) as it was about us expanding our palates. I occasionally get paid to shoot food outside the home now, which may be why I do less of it at home.

But let me tell ya, my wife can still cook.

Here's dinner last night:

One of our favorite cheeses-- the incredible grill-able Greek wonder, Halloumi:

Followed by a grilled sirloin in a Chimichurri marinade, roasted new potatoes, and green beans with shallots.

We really don't do red meat often, but I read up on the latest Bon Appetit about steak grilling techniques and did my best. (Also, truth be told, we need to cook red meat now and then to use up our stockpile of big Cabernets, which we can never bring ourselves to open with any other food.)

I almost published this post without saying anything about the fact that today's a holiday So here's a patriotic tart my mom made last year. Happy 4th of July!

Friday, July 01, 2011

So Freaking Cute

I'm completely in love with these two. Almost as much as they are with each other.