Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Spring Baseball

We have had a LOT of rain this spring. I think about one-third of Connor and Helen's games were cancelled, which got to be beyond tiresome. And sadly, the week my parents came out to visit was no exception. I was particularly crushed by the rainouts while they were visiting because every time they watch Connor play ball he has a great game.

Fortunately, his luck that usually comes from grandparents in the crowd came around these past two games. A few days ago, I arrived to the field (after being sent home to retrieve a cap that Connor THOUGHT he had left at home but he had actually left it AT SCHOOL!) to find a very happy kid. He had gotten a hit (which was actually hit a few feet from the first baseman, died in the mud, and for whatever reason the first baseman didn't bother to reach down and pick it up for the out). No matter, he stole second, stole third, and rounded home on another player's hit.

He then clocked a legit single into the outfield between first and second base. The ball was fielded, but not in time. I am always extra proud of my kids when they run hard down the baseline.

And then yesterday, as Helen and I were heading from the pool to the game, he got another hit, which was a actually a fielder's choice. It ended up being scored as a double, because he hit the ball to second, the second baseman threw home to try and get the guy before Connor in the line-up out at home. (That kid has hit multiple TRIPLES this season - which is awesome for Connor because I think it throws the pitcher off a bit before Connor comes up to bat!) Connor looked up, saw that nobody was paying attention at second, and without being told to run by the coach, stole the base.

That steal would be important, because it allowed him to get home on a single two batters later. There was a play at the plate, and the coach at third had NOT told Connor to keep going, but Connor had it in his head he could make it. Luckily, he was right. After that, a new pitcher was called in, and that was the end of the hitting for a while.

It's been really nice to watch Connor get on a bit of a roll toward the end of the season. One more regular season game - and then they play-offs.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Wanting to go to school

This morning, for what might be the first time since second grade, Connor told me he wanted to go to school. The context was that today was his last SOL (state end-of-year test). He has learned that after the SOLs are finished, school actually gets pretty fun.

For starters, his reading group was self-selected. And even though he has had outstanding groups all year, it's a nice treat to be surrounded with friends. Nicest of all was that three of the boys are natural fit partners, and the fourth seems like a good fit - though I'm not sure Connor has ever noticed him much. The three grouped quickly and the fourth was looking for a group so the three boys invited him in. It was a nice gesture that made me proud. Connor has been a real "tester" of my nerves lately, so I needed a reminder that he's not a surly turd all of the time.

His gifted teacher scored a few robots from the PTA, so he knows that programming is coming up, which should be fun. Related, I was looking for report card folders a few days ago because both children's teachers sent me a note that I still needed to turn the folders back in with my comments. (My former self used to get these returned a lot more quickly!) I ran across Connor's third grade folder, and noticed he had scored a 98 percent in math...on the beginning of year pretest. I didn't absorb this much at the time, but looking back - all I can think is "just what exactly did they think they were going to teach him?", given their utter lack of creativity in deviating from the curriculum. Ed pointed out that they could've just given him a school computer and told him to create a video game. It would've allowed him to develop a useful skill (programming logic), it probably would've been fun for him, and it wouldn't have required much in the way of additional resources (certainly not anything beyond what Ed and I could provide). Programming now? Awesome. Programming then? I think it would've been a good fit.

His math class has turned into a fun design project that will require a fair amount of math application. He's interested in the project, and reports to me about it pretty regularly. Oh, where was this project all those days he was bored?

I still have absolutely no idea what he does in writing or Social Studies.

Science has kept him interested the entire year, and there's a sense that it's only going to get better.

I remember last year, about this time, the gifted teacher and I were talking and queried "why can't we do this kind of learning all year long?" because the classes really do come alive.

And of course, there's field day, fifth grade lock-in at the school, and a few school parties yet to enjoyed.

I do believe we're going to get to the end. Now...to keep from crying when I say good-bye to Helen's teacher for the final time since she's retiring this year. I am grateful every day that Helen had her as a teacher. She was a perfect fit teacher for both Connor and Helen.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Glebe 5K - 2016 Recap

Another school 5K is in the books - and even with a slightly longer course (an actual 5K, rather than the 3 miler of years' past), both Connor and Helen got a PR. More importantly, I got to run with Connor and he ran a perfect race, complete with negative splits AND a super fast finishing mile, and Helen went sub-30 for the first time! Proud mom here!

Our training was not as consistent as I would've liked. We got most runs in (running 3 days per week for a month), but not all - including missing some key longer runs. What I think helped Connor a lot was a day he and I went out and ran the race course (mostly), starting from our house. This is key, because it means we get the two fairly big hills on the official course, plus one more that's between our house and the course. This means I can tell Connor he's running a harder course than the actual race, which gives him a lot of confidence for the race. Helen and I also had two great neighborhood hill runs. On one of them, she was just not into running. We decided we would head out and see how we felt after a half mile, giving ourselves permission to turn back early. As soon as we got out, we noticed that our neighbors have some amazing flowers. So we bopped from street to street, looking for the most beautiful flowers, which was enough to keep Helen's mind off the hard physical work she was doing. We ran a lot of hills that day, completed almost 3 full miles, and at the end, Helen felt great. A second run was a good long hill up to return a friend's keys, followed by sprinkles that looked like they would turn to pouring rain soon (which they did), which gave us good motivation to run home, fast.

Per usual, getting Helen to the startling line was perhaps the most difficult aspect of the race. Although her training runs were done remarkably well, steadily improving pace and pretty much keeping up with Connor most days - she requires a LOT of race day accommodations. She had decided to wear her running skirt and a tank top (an outfit I can certainly support, as it is my preferred race day outfit as well), but a chilly predicted start meant she wanted to add my running sleeves and her running tights. But the sleeves got left at home on race day, so she insisted she needed to run with a bulky, zip-up sweater she owns. She needed music playing for her via my iPhone (I sing to her, but have never carried music for her) and she also needed water. (I always carry water for Helen when we run, so this last one was not a surprise.) For a brief period, she also wanted Ed (now known officially as the running sherpa) to carry a squirt bottle and spritz her throughout the race as needed. I did draw the line there, given that Ed has only 2 hands and if one of them had water and one had my phone, there simply wasn't going to be room to carry a squirt bottle, too. Helen and I compromised when I told her my parents (who were visiting for the week) could stand on the course and spritz her as she ran by them. (Luckily, it was too cool on race day to even contemplate this, so the squirt bottle was left at home.) Finally, she decided to wear my LUNA visor, which has a built in sweatband, but even after adjusting it to its smallest size, she needed another sweatband beneath it to keep it in place. Both of these items, along with the sweater that got shed mid-race, would also end up in Ed's hands.

Connor was a champ. That kid needs a pacer and a bottle of Gatorade and he is ready. He has totally internalized the "go out easy", but also has a fantastic kick at the end which he proved he could sustain for a long time. And his easy is not that easy anymore.

We got tangled up in traffic at the start. I didn't want to start at the front of the pack because it's too tempting to try and keep up with the super fast racers (who will run sub-20 minutes 5Ks). The middle of the pack is good for pace, but the race starts with a big bottleneck, and that's difficult to get through. It definitely cost us time, but not much distance. The course was changed from running around a field to start (too muddy!) to running out and back on a street. My parents were stationed about half mile into the race, and having them cheer was great. The whole course is out and back on a bike trail so we also got to see them toward the end when Connor was just killing it.

This is just about at the end of the race. Connor is running an 8:24 mile, and speeding up. 
Helen is free as a bird - Ed is balancing everything, without missing a step. Importantly, Helen can hear the music and is one song ahead of where she needs to be to finish her playlist. She's definitely feeling good here.

Connor's official time was 27:20. Helen's official time was 29:21. As fast as these both are, they were both 5th in their age groups. There are some fast kids out there!