August 23, 2013

kribble the frog

Swimming: an essential skill for any child, as far as I'm concerned. I may not have a perfect swim technique, but I swim well and have always loved being in the water - pools, lakes, oceans - anything goes. Now, I look forward to the day when my kids are strong enough swimmers that we can spend hours in a pool playing Marco Polo, doing underwater handstands, and having cannonball contests. But first come the swimming lessons!

When Lady M was 3 1/2, she took her first independent swim class at the rec centre near our house. She was excited to take the class, but when it came to the end she hadn't passed. According to her water stained report card, she was unwilling to splash water on her face, and put her face into the water. Fair enough; these seem like essential skills to demonstrate before graduating from Splash A to Splash B.

Rather than stick her right into another class, we gave her some time to practice these skills in the bathtub and in the pool when we went swimming as a family. Slowly her confidence grew, and our little lady was happily sticking her face in the water, blowing bubbles and splashing herself (and her sister) in the face. However, with all of the other extracurricular activities happening in our world suddenly more than a year had passed.

This spring, we signed her back up for Splash A to try once again, and in a few short weeks she had breezed through the class, splashing and kicking all the way to Splash B. Though we're not on the pool deck to observe the lessons (rather, we're behind the glass, watching from afar) it's clear they spend a good amount of class time singing songs. With these merry tunes stuck in her head, Lady M would come home singing them.

Her best song reiteration was "dunk, dunk went Kribble the frog one day, dunk dunk went Kribble the frog". Yes, it was meant to be Kermit, but my child of the new millenium is unfamiliar with the fabulousness of Jim Henson and all his muppets.

Unlike I did, Lady M isn't spending part of her youth watching The Muppet Show, or Muppet Babies, so has never heard of Kermit, Miss Piggy or the Swedish Chef. No, to my sweet little four year old, "Kribble" is just some frog who likes to dunk himself in the water. Maybe this Christmas we'll pull out The Muppet Christmas Carol, or introduce her to the updated movie with Jason Segel & Amy Adams. But for now, we'll just stick to Kribble.

Over the last two weeks, we put Lady M into the boot camp of swimming lessons, with a lesson every night for 9 weekdays straight. Getting home, eating an express early-bird dinner, getting changed and to the pool by 6pm each night was a brutal, frustrating, delightful challenge to say the least. Little Lady A wanted to watch her big sister swim too, so the whole family would pile in the car and rush, scramble, head to the pool each night for her half hour lesson. As one other parent said to me, it was basically a swimming boot camp, but 9 days later my little lady collected her report card, complete with Splash B sticker, and instruction to sign up for Splash C next.

Lately she's been telling us that she wants to complete every level and become a lifeguard when she's bigger, which I think is great. But, one step at a time. For now, she and Kribble will just move along to Splash C...

August 18, 2013

camp chronicles : my list of awesome

Each summer at camp I teach a leadership program for teenagers; it's the most wonderful week for so many reasons, but one of them is simply because I get to spend so much time chatting with my two co-coaches, Rene & Trish. The three of us have been teaching this program together for 13 years, and it's just so easy now. We have a vast repertoire of lesson plans and activities to pull from, and change and adapt our delivery each year depending on the group that we're working with. But one of my favourite things is just the things that we talk about after each session, or as we paddle out on the lake on our annual canoe trip.
One of the (many, many) things we chatted about this year is The Book of Awesome. It's been around for a bit now, and you've likely read it, or are at least familiar with it. It's just as simple as it sounds: a book of things that are simply awesome.

On that note, I've decided to put together a little list of awesome - things that we talked about over the week, or the things that are simple reminders of how special it is to get to spend this week with my little family each year. Read on for my 2013 Camp List of Awesome... 

  • Snuggling in the bunk beds with Lady A & Lady M
  • Canoe trips
  • Lady A calling the cabin "our new home"
  • Unbridled energy and enthusiasm of the counsellors, campers, coaching staff and families
  • Morning dew on your toes while walking to breakfast
  • Lake water
  • Lady M's impromptu dance performances
  • Kids riding around on bikes & trikes
  • Reconnecting with old friends
  • The beautiful waterlilies on Long Lake 
  • Simplicity
  • The coaches' dance
  • Not having to cook breakfast, lunch or dinner
  • Rainbow headbands, legwarmers and armbands
  • Developing future counsellors 
  • Spending time with teenagers from whom I learn the new 'hip' lingo... 
  • My summer tan
  • Living in comfy clothes and flip flops
  • The annual badminton tournament
  • Puddle jumping on rainy days
  • Breathtaking sunsets
  • Family fun
  • Memories that last a lifetime... 
This list could absolutely go on for I understand how Neil Pasricha has easily filled two books! 

    camp chronicles: future olympian

    Last week my family packed up our car and a spacious, rented U-Haul trailer and headed off for what is traditionally my favourite week of the year: camp! For four years I was a camper there, and for four years after that I worked as part of the summer staff, spending eleven sun-filled, enthusiastic and life-changing weeks there. Now, after 19 years, I still return for just one brief week each summer and get the chance to re-live part of my youth, but I get to have my family in tow making it just a little sweeter.

    So with the SUV packed full of clothes, food and toys, and a trailer filled with bedding, bikes, wagons, a ride-on car and other assorted activities, we were off. Two very excited little girls, a dad with impeccable packing skills, a mum ready to go to one of her favourite places in the world, and a cabin awaiting our arrival.

    Last summer at camp I had to deal with one of my biggest fears: mice. (You can read about the experience here in 'camp chronicles: mouse in the house'). Now, if you're all up to speed, I'm happy to report that the mouse didn't return this year (or he was sufficiently trapped in the walls of the cabin thanks to Cal's handyman skills), so I slept a little more soundly each night, with a sky full of bright stars above me, the fresh, northern Ontario air blowing through the cabin and the girls safely tucked in their bunks.

    This year, at 4 1/2 years old, Lady M decided that she was going to take part in Dance camp; one of the many camp options that particular week. On the first night, she got all dressed to dance, and off she went to the Rec Hall where the camp is held.

    I'm told that she was right into the action, sitting up front with the counsellors (rather than the campers), offering a detailed introduction of herself, including telling her fellow campers about her dog who was staying "at my mum's mum's house", and participating happily in the session.

    Happily, that is, until her coach mentioned that it was 7:30pm. The session runs each night from 6:30-8:30pm, but as soon as Lady M heard the announcement that it was 7:30pm she told everyone that she HAD to get back to the cabin, because that was her bedtime. She was very determined that she needed to get back, apparently abiding by her bedtime more than she every has before! With some creative problem solving from the awesome coach who convinced her for the next hour that it "wasn't QUITE 7:30pm", Lady M stayed until the end and danced her little heart out.

    She was super happy after session, but after that decided not to go back. She never gave much of an explanation, but we finally learned on the last day of camp that the reason she didn't return to dance was because it was just too long! Granted, it did wipe her out for about 2 days, but she could've gone for 1/2 hour or 1 hour if we'd known. But that's ok - if she'd spent every session in dance she may not have had the opportunity to develop her new athletic love: badminton.

    Badminton is another session option at camp the week we're there, and Lady M was very curious about the game, and desperately wanted to grab a racquet and birdie and learn to play. With a couple quick lessons from the wonderful badminton gurus, she was striking each birdie with conviction! By Thursday she was so in love with her new past-time that Cal had to take her into the Canadian Tire in town and get her her very own lovely teal badminton racquet and a tube of birdies. He talked her down from the $50 racquet, and I'm sure she slept with her new $10 one under her pillow for the remainder of the week. She woke up asking the play, and went to sleep dreaming about her place on the Olympic Team for the 2024 Summer Games.

    Like her big sister, Little Lady A couldn't get enough of camp, and while she enjoyed a little bit of badminton herself, truthfully I think she just enjoyed the freedom...and all the toys that the U-Haul brought to camp. For the first time she was in control of the ride-on car, and she hit the pedal and drove all over the place in that little red jeep! When she wasn't driving the jeep she was riding her bike, pushing her dolls in the stroller or just simply running in the wide open fields. Really, what more can you ask for when you're two?!

    When the day arrived to leave camp, both girls were rather vocal about not wanting to go, but the exhausting week made it hard for them to protest too much. Lady M keeps asking when we get to go back, keeps singing camp songs and is already making plans for next summer. And when we pulled in the driveway at home last Saturday night, Lady A re-buckled her seatbelt and said 'no - I go back to cabin!' Clearly she would've stayed a little longer too...

    So I must admit, I love seeing my family up there enjoying the place that has always been so special to me. Getting to spend a week among amazing friends and people who we really see just once a year, but who are like extended family, is the best. And seeing the happiness in my kids with each new discovery they make confirms for me that we'll be going back year after year for a long time...