Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hard Work Pays Off

The swimming lessons the boys have attended the past month or so ended today. I am pleased to say that the progress was impressive.

According to their teachers, Gus has "a great freestyle stroke, has accomplished deep water treading / floating, and long-distance freestyle and backstroke swimming.  Niko can do an "elementary backstroke" and has mastered all the rudimentary skills for his level.

All their hard work is not without its rewards. On the last day of class, not only is the free swim time extended, but it includes (supervised) access to the water slide.  As you can see, the boys took full advantage!

Monday, June 25, 2012

OPA! Camp

The boys spent last week at Opa Camp.  It's 5-days filled with fun, games, crafts, songs, dances and Greek culture.  This year's theme was all about The Odyssey: Odysseus' Return to Ithaca.

At the end here's what we got.

Crafts: that's a lion puppet!
 Handmade Greek flags.
Cyclops masks
Homemade sandals like Odysseus wore.

Hand-decorated crosses: it's a Greek camp, after all.

 (Bad) photographic evidence that at Opa Camp, even Niko will dance!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Little Schadenfreude Anyone?

"Schadenfreude is the satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune."

I once famously asked my mom if it was OK for me to tell Kelly I didn't think he was keeping the house clean enough. I'm pretty sure that on days she needs a little pick-me-up, Mom recalls that conversation and has herself a good laugh.

Look, it's difficult for someone with OCD to abdicate control and let others try to get the house as clean as we'd like. We're almost always disappointed. But I've made a great deal of progress: Kelly hasn't barged in on me going at the grout in the kitchen with an old toothbrush in about 3 years!

I'm not proud to admit this, but the first thought that crossed my mind when I was laid off wasn't "how will we pay the bills?" or "where am I going to work now?" No it was, "I can finally clean the blinds." Here's the thing - reality came up and kicked me aside the head. It's difficult, no it's impossible, to get done all I want while staying home with the boys and looking for a new gig. (The blinds still need to be cleaned.)

So, gentle reader, you'll excuse me this moment of schadenfreude.

Today I told the boys they needed to help me straighten up the house. Gus protested asking me why it mattered.

"Because it's a disaster! I'd be horrified if someone dropped in on us unexpectedly and saw our house this messy."

Gus replied, "It's not that bad, Daddy. Ethan across the street, his house is always way messier than ours ever is!"

Yeah, it's shallow, but I'll take a victory when I can.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hanna Madsen Had Faith

I read in today's Salt Lake Tribune that my friend Hanna Madsen passed away in her sleep. She was only 65, but  I'd heard she had dealt with health issues for several years.

We first met one another back in 1984 when I attended my Democratic legislative district meeting. As we were electing officers for the district, Hanna took it upon herself to get me elected vice chair. I'd just met her and she was already volunteering me to get involved.

Two years later, Hank (as I'd taken to calling her) ran for the Utah House of Representatives, and she asked two college kids - Kerri Christenson (Nakamura) and me -  to run her campaign. I think the folks in the county party must have thought she wanted to lose the race by having two inexperience students run her campaign. But she had faith that we could do it. And we almost pulled it off - she lost by only 250 votes.

Hanna was like that. She had great faith that all the younger generation needed was an opportunity. She believed that what politics really needed was more young people and more women involved. She was right. She's still right. In lieu of flowers one of the charities her kids chose is Emily's List an organization dedicated to helping elect pro-choice, Democratic women.

Even though it's been a long time since we've seen each other, I miss her already.

Thanks, Hank, for having faith.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Aqua Men

One summer afternoon when I was 11 or 12, I sat down at the dinner table and nonchalantly announced to my parents that I had earned my swimming patch earlier in the day. This patch, proudly worn at the bottom of  one's swimming suit, was verification for the pool authorities that I had passed a test proving my ability to swim in the deeper water.

My parents looked at me, and then at each other - how in the world had I earned a swimming patch when I couldn't swim? Their confusion, you see, stemmed from the fact that my time in swimming classes had been spent shivering and avoiding water in my face and up my nose, while learning absolutely nothing - not even how to doggy paddle.

But that summer, my best friend and I spent every afternoon at the community pool at Midvale Junior High School, and I wasn't about to hang out splashing around in the shallow end. So, with a little help, I taught myself to swim, and successfully freestyled my way across the length of the pool, spun around and backstroked to the other side, all under the watchful eye of a lifeguard, who jotted my name down on a list attached to his clipboard, and handed me a patch.

There's no chance my boys will surprise me with a deep-water patch one day, they're a couple of fish - Gus especially. I've never seen two kids more at home in the water than mine.

Gus' lessons are in the 9' pool, where he swims around with the confidence of the Man from Atlantis.

Niko is already easily gliding from the teacher's arms to the safety of the side.

It actually thrills me to see my boys so comfortable in the water because it's so very different from me. My crowning glory earning that patch 35-years ago notwithstanding, I'm still not very secure in water. I'd rather scale the side of a mountain than dip a toe into the drink.

Good thing the boys are are budding Aqua Men!

Yes, I took this at a weird angle.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Soaking the Snake

Every kid in the history of the world has pleaded his case for a new pet by arguing he'll take care of it. And with few exceptions, after a couple of weeks, it's the parents who end up doing all the work.

Well, in our case, it's historically been Kelly that does all the pet work. But with my new role as June Cleaver, more of these chores are falling on me. Sure, he still cleans out the guinea pig cage, but I feed the snake. And, yeah newspapers soaked and stained with Cavy body fluids are gross, but I'd argue my job of defrosting a "pinkie" mouse and serving it up to a corn snake is right up there.

And then there's my other serpent chore: soaking the snake. Kelly's instructions, provided while we were at a family gathering, stating I really need to "soak my snake" weekly elicited giggles from my nephews. But I'm more mature. So this afternoon while Kelly was at work and the boys were playing outside, I reached into Zeus' habitat and sifted through the moss and shavings looking for him.

Let me tell you, searching for a snake goes counter to every primate's internal sense of survival. Yet there I was, intentionally grabbing for a snake, and once I found him I spent the next 20-minutes resisting every natural instinct to get the heebie jeebies, and held him in a bowl of water.

I really need to get a new job.