Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Summer lovin~

Our summer weekends look like this for the most part:

 - go to pool Friday night / eat dinner and swim.
 - work on fort in back yard over the weekend.
 - make several trips a weekend to Home Depot for fort supplies.
 - Isabella has gymnastics for 45 minutes each Saturday.
 - sometimes there are social events scattered in too.

Smithgall Woods Conservation ParkA couple of Friday nights ago (and Saturday morning), however, I was at a work retreat at Smithgall Woods in some "luxury" cabins - but Todd still made the trek to the pool with the kids for a Friday night dinner.  He's much braver than I when it comes to that... but... Mercer has been working on his swimming for the past 3 weeks on a swim team & is much easier now to go with the pool with than in years past.

This past Friday night, all of us skipped the pool to celebrate Todd's birthday.   We went to dinner at a spot on the square we like but have not been in a long long time.  It was not a relaxing dinner, unfortunately... but we made the most of it with a yummy pitcher of sangria.  There was one funny thing that came out of it:  Mercer gave the restaurant a great review... "when I am able to drive, I will come up here and come get this same food."  (chicken and rice)  So - we asked if we could make a reservation for 7 1/2 years from now?!  Of course - we can walk to the square - so he won't have to wait that long, but... still funny.   

Back to the swim team stuff.... here are some photos from Mercer's first swim meet:

The swim meets are REALLY crazy.  Look at this pic with Mercer in line and the tons of people standing around.  It is seriously, ridiculously crazy!  At his first meet, Mercer swam in 3 events:  a freestyle, a backstroke, and a relay with 3 other swimmers. The next couple of photos show his first time on the block and his first official swim meet jump.

The backstroke is his hardest event.  At practice, he would stop along the way.  At his first meet, he kept rolling over onto his belly.  During his second swim meet - he did stop once (and touched the bottom of the pool which is not allowed) but he finished the entire race on his back!  The judge didn't see him touch down, or else he would've been DQ'ed.  He took 1st place in his heat (2nd heat) for the backstroke.  As I understand, the points from the 1st heat count, so the fact that he touched down is OK.  At his 3rd swim meet, he swam all the way across on his back without stopping.  (25 meters)  It's pretty cool to see how much progress is made in such a short period of time!  

This next couple of photos are from the 2nd swim meet's "winning" backstroke event and the ribbon he got for it - which he is super proud of.

I don't think we took photos during the 3rd swim meet.  I've been volunteering as bullpen mom and have to gather these 7 & 8 year old boys for their events even if Mercer is not swimming in them / Todd's chasing Isabella.  We'll try to catch more photos before the swim season is over in 2 weeks.  Mercer is working on another stroke now at practice - the butterfly - so when he gets the hang of it, he could start participating in it as well at meets.  We'll see~

The practices are hard to get him to go to (they are at 8:30 in the morning M-Th), but he does enjoy the meets. Todd usually has to take Isabella home early and can't stay for the duration of the meets.  The matches are not as fun for a 2 year old and she just can't last past 7:30 / 8:00.  But, we found something that kept her entertained and helped to glue her to her seat:  mini m & m's.  Oh well...... (honestly, it was one of the better food options available at the meet after we ran out of our food and snacks~)

Isabella just started an Infant Swim Rescue class.  The goal is to be able to survive if she falls into a pool (or our backyard pond) if we aren't paying attention.  (Which I hope is never the case - we will do our best to pay attention, of course!)  We tried this for Mercer too, but his infant lessons were more about learning to swim and less about survival.  The classes that Isabella is in now are more in line with our goals.  I'll post pics later at the end of the summer when she has completed the course.  They'll throw her in fully clothed and she has to roll over / float / maybe swim.  (The instructor - a neighbor of ours - actually says she's doing well swimming and will likely be doing it all on her own soon.)

Mercer is having a great summer so far.  He's gone to a couple of YMCA Explorer camps and a drama camp at a nearby church (where they not only perform, but help build the sets).  He did not want to audition for a speaking part.  He was in the general chorus for most of the play, however, he and 3 other boys had a break-out roles as "beach boys." 

 The play, called Back to the Cross, was set across several different periods of time travel (like in Back to the Future).  1920s, 1980s, the future.  His big scene was in the 1960s; period beach music was streaming through the sanctuary playing while the boys threw beach balls into the crowd.  The audience would hit it back up front and the boys would keep them moving during the whole song.  He had a good time during the play, but had an absolute blast during the beach ball part!  Most of these photos are blurry as he is constantly in motion!!  

He says he wants to go back to this camp next year.  Why not?!  He got a piece of candy each day as he left.  They had a big party on Friday afternoon after their dress rehearsal.  (The photos of Mercer in the "hamster ball" on the slip and slide is from the Friday fun event.)  They got to keep 2 tee-shirts, a flower pot that they painted, a cross that they made, and two pieces of artwork that were mixed media.  AND - lucky guy - he won a bike after the play.  They did a drawing for a boy's name and a girl's name afterwards.  Not only all of the fun stuff he got to do / make / keep.... they had a photo stream after the play too and in watching the candid photos during the week -- it looked like he made some friends during the week too.

They're having a VBS in a different format than most churches (every Wednesday night throughout the summer).  He wants to start going to that.  We will try to make it happen!!

This week, Mercer is in a YMCA flag football camp.  Next week will be a Lacrosse camp.  He's got a tennis and basketball camp coming up as well as a LEGO camp.  I wish I could go to adult camps during the summer!  one day.... one day I will.  (I have one in mind that's on my list of things to do~)

I forgot to post a couple of things in a previous blog about my Master Naturalist classes and frogs!

At the end of May, I completed my last Master Naturalist class.  I have officially earned my certificate.  I'm not sure what to do with with it... but it is related to environmental education and sort of related to what I do in green building (with a broader focus).  There are some other areas that I'm interested in pursuing (such as biomimicry... something I've written about on this blog a long time ago).

This naturalist crash course covered various nature topics and has certainly fueled my interest and need to continue to learn about nature.  This is not my photo, as I did not take a camera onto the water, but this is from the website of the nature center where I took the classes & is the same stretch of the Chattahoochee River.  This photo "represents" the view from my canoe on the last day of class -- our graduation reward was to get out on the river.   (Todd, Mercer and I did this the previous summer... and being back out again last month made me realize that we need to do this at least once or twice a year -- if not more!)

I have wanted frogs in our pond ever since we built it 8-10 years ago.  And... we FINALLY got some!  (Actually, they made an appearance last fall before it got cold but we really did not ever see them.  We heard a little squeaking noise & saw a jumping movement / thought we had some but we weren't 100% sure.)  Now - there are at least 8 - 10 of them that we've seen at one time sitting still.  Earlier this summer, I was totally stalking them with binoculars from our bedroom window so I could snag some photos and identify them.  They are called "pig frogs."  They get their name because their call sounds like the grunting of a pig.

You can approach them ever so slowly and catch a glimpse when outside, but when they see you, they get scared, squeak to warn the others, then jump into the water.  The squeak is their "distress" call.   This web link has the regular call, if interested:    We had a heron in the pond last week, so we may have fewer of them, but it is still oh-so-cool!!