Sunday, August 03, 2008

Home Again, Home Again Jiggety-Jog

We're back home again, having driven down from the reunion (in Minnesota, about 2 1/2 hours north of Minneapolis) yesterday - yes, all in one day. We hit the road at 6:30am which was a rude shock for the boys, who had been getting up between 9 and 10 all week. It backfired on us a little, as Aaron had some motion-sickness due to the discombobulation. He used to be prone when he was tiny, but hadn't thrown up in a car in years - until yesterday. Fortunately once he dropped off back to sleep he was fine.

The reunion was lovely. The reunion was at a lake. We had a protected swimming area (about 4' deep), with two water trampolines and a slide, a playground area, and a ping-pong table. There were boats and golfing available, but we never availed ourselves of them. We spent late afternoons swimming pretty much every day. Robbie is turning into a proper fish - I got lots of practice with throws by tossing him for a dunking every time he would splash me. Aaron is only just getting comfortable with deeper water, but made lots of progress. I think by next summer he'll have it down. We didn't get to spend as much time with my eldest brother and his family as we would have liked. Their eldest has autism and reacts badly to having his schedule mangled, so they only came up for one night (and the surrounding days). He's a sweetheart, though, much more affectionate and willing to have bodily contact than I'm used to with autistic kids. We gave him a Neopets dragon (talking, interactive toy) for his birthday, and it drew a smile out of him. We also got to meet his PCA, who is delightful herself. Apparently he took to her immediately when my SIL interviwed her, after hiding from all the other candidates.

Mom was also not much seen, as she came down with a nasty cold the day after we arrived. Mostly she stayed in and slept, showing up in late afternoon and then taking off again after dinner. She was still coughing and sniffling on the last day, but plainly feeling somewhat better. Fortunately we get another shot on Tuesday when she and Dad drive by here on their way back home.

We did get to see a good deal of my brother Bill and his wife and daughter, as well as my Dad. Bill and Kathryn (my niece), and I undertook to teach Robbie ping-pong. He did pretty well, moving from a 19 handicap to a 17 handicap over the course of about three days. By his last day, he was ready for me to drop his handicap against me to a 15. By contrast, when I was taught by my brothers, albeit at 6 not 10, I spent a couple of years playing with a 20 handicap. Bill is a ferocious player, and Kathryn is no slouch. Dad isn't as vigorous, but he's got plenty of experience and as a lefty with a deft touch with spin, he's dangerous himself. I play with a 10 handicap against Bill and 5 against both Kathryn and Dad - which I don't think is too shabby when the last time I played ping-pong was 11 years ago.

Rob got lots of lounging time, which he desperately needed. He actually spent the first three days reading and sleeping, which is almost unheard of for him. Usually he's itching to go do something after about one day of lounging.

I brought my tonfas and sais and managed to get in several sessions of kata practice. Apparently the people in the cabin next door found this very amusing. They spent mornings sunning out on the dock, and generally by the time I had gotten through one or two katas, they would have all turned around and started providing commentary on what I was doing. The more I use the tonfas Rob made me, the better I'm liking them - it's just such a treat to have something that's made to my exact measure.

My main project for this trip has been penguin socks - visible in the book cover in the photo at the top of the page. The first sock is almost done and it's coming out really cute. The directions aren't terribly good though. They're close enough to figure it out if you're an experienced sock knitter, but I woudn't recommend them otherwise. They've named the main color "M", and then don't differentiate it in the directions from the "M" of "make 1", their charts aren't well proofed (at least two errors in the penguin chart), and they just generally aren't as clear as they should be. There are several cute patterns in the book though, and I'm already planning on making their ladybug socks for my youngest niece.

So - home again, home again. Sensei has already called to say we're a go at the Jazzercise place, so starting Tuesday we're back on a regular schedule at a regular location. Go us!


Elizabeth McClung said...

Great job on the socks. I found your description of a ping-pong handicap to be interesting. My father taught me chess but never handicapped me, so I played for 8 years before I won, and then I won virtually every game; but I also stopped playing chess. So maybe there is method in your madness. However even in ping pong, when I learned over a summer, I don't think I ever took a handicap, or the summer I played and lost every day in tennis against a junior league player (won some games, a few sets, never a match - for three months).

But would I give a handicap? Probably, maybe, or do three point games. I don't know. For me, if I get one point, then there was something wrong in thier playing or something superior in mind, and I should exploit that, so 21-1 would be a good start for me. Admittedly, I may not be a good example of stable childhood and the understanding of healthy competition since I have to be glad my father didn't do physical sports since he just would have knocked me down, like as a six year old, becuase he had some odd thing about this was teaching me something (how to cry a lot?).

I am glad you kept your discipline and got the Kata's done, in spite of the peanut gallery. In a total aside, what about Croquet, I find it is a leveler, since no one these days is "expert" in it, and you can decide to spend ALL your time hitting and punishing other people's croquet balls with no penalty at all.

Perpetual Beginner said...

I find handicapping really useful when teaching young children who are easily discouraged by repeated losses. It also prevents skunking (where the game is called at 7-0 or 11-1), which can be pretty embarrassing, even for an adult. With an adult I generally don't bother with handicapping, and probably wouldn't have bothered taking a handicap here myself except that a) seeing Mommy have a handicap too helps Robbie see it as no big deal to still be learning, and b) tradition - I've had a handicap of some sort when playing my brothers since I learned to play at six. My eldest brother used to practice against the Minnesota state champion, and Bill used to play several hours a week against a highly competitive group of teenagers, so both of them are well out of my reach at this point.

Croquet is a good game for just having fun and not worrying too much about score - which may be why my family never plays it. We're competitive to the bone.

Martial Arts Mom said...

Glad to have you blogging again...missed your posts!