Saturday, January 22, 2011

Service with a Smile

My friend Carole (she's pictured on the left side of the newspaper article in my previous post) asked me to teach her to skate ski. So yesterday, since Jeff was home and could watch the girls (Ellie was home sick from school), Carole & I took off to the groomed golf course and had a nice time learning technique, practicing balance and strokes, and working on gliding. I kept surprising myself at how similar skate skiing is to swimming in terms of finding your balance and doing drills and gliding. Carole did great and I had a fabulous time just being with a friend. That simply doesn't happen very often.
But this week it happened twice! I got to do another outside run with a different friend this week. I didn't even notice the time passing as we chatted under the bright full moon and navigated the dark, icy road. It was doubly rejuvenating - exercise plus friendship. Nice. Makes me happy.

Service with a Smile:
Thursday I taught a 3-year-old boy a swimming lesson in our Endless Pool. At a Relief Society "Service Auction" the night before I had offered a 1/2 hour swim lesson, and the boy's mother "bought" it (no money was involved - the ladies just got m&m's for currency based on how they answered a questionnaire on things like "Did you read your scriptures today - 5 points. Did you pet your cat/dog/goldfish - 2 points, etc.)
He was terrified at first, didn't want a thing to do with the water, and definitely wouldn't get his face near it. When I finally coaxed him into it, he wouldn't let go of me. I brought Charlotte in (she's also 3, but is not one bit scared of water - which scares me) so she could model how to be comfy in the water. It helped. I played games and stuff to trick him into getting over his fears. By the end of the session, he was letting me pull him on his back and on his tummy down the length of the pool and back, he was blowing bubbles in the water, he would lay the side of his face in the water and switch sides, and he went completely under (really fast and only once, but he did it!). It turned out to be a very rewarding experience for me. I couldn't ever offer swimming lessons on a regular basis, but once was sure fun!
Thursday also I babysat the children of a friend while she swam in our pool. Eleanor was home sick (she didn't go to school at all this week), so she was quarantined in my room. Charlotte got to take the lead with the 3 year old twins and 5 year old brother. I think the kids had fun (I did!), but by the end everyone was ready for a snack, a break, and their mom.
So it's been a good few days of teaching and serving. I love the gratification that comes from giving. I need to do it more.

The Family:
Samuel is on his first winter campout. I didn't sleep well last night because I was worried about him. They really ought to allow moms to go with the scouts... I'm sure Sam would be delighted. Not. I can't wait for him to come home SAFELY! Sam was excited, but maybe because he didn't know what he was getting into... Naw, winter camping is fun. I took a winter camping & survival course in college, and I remember enjoying it - when it was over. :)

Oliver is the handsome owner of a new pair of glasses. He looks great. This week we got to go as a family to a presentation his Discovery class put on. (Discovery is an accelerated learning program - not only did he skip a year of school but he's also at the top of his class - he's amazing!) They had a Star Lab in the gym. We crawled into a huge, blown-up dome with a star canister projecting stars on the dome. It was a planetarium and Oliver knew all the constellations. We also got to crawl into a smaller one that the kids had poked holes in to make their own constellations. Oliver's was called Hertum the Boar and he'd made an entire mythological history to go along with it. As we were the last ones leaving, the teachers asked us if we wanted the second smaller planetarium to take home. I am a pack rat, so yes, we brought it home. Sometime we'll set it up (I need to get a different fan) and make good memories, lying on our backs and looking at the unique hand-made constellations.

Eleanor had a lazy week on the couch because she was sick sick sick. Her fever would not go down! Every morning I'd wake her up to get ready for school, then see she was burning up. I'd check her temperature and read 103.5F or whatever, and send her back to bed. Poor girl. Of course, now that it's Saturday, she not only woke up too early (and got me up, too) but her fever is gone. There's no point being sick on the weekend, is there?

Charlotte is writing more and more and wants to read. I need to take advantage of her interest and teach her before she loses the desire. I need to do so many things. I wish I were five people - one of me for each child and one for everything else. Then I might get all the things done that I want. Anyway, she's a beautiful creature who thinks she's a fish. She LOVES to swim.

I ran outside once this week on a nice 15F morning, then the next morning I was so excited about my outside running I decided to do it again - until I saw the temperature. It was -1F, with a windchill of -13F. So instead of walking out the door, I walked down the stairs and got on the treadmill. My poor treadmill is wearing out. The belt slips and we've replaced and tightened it, but it's just a cheap treadmill with a million miles on it. I ran out my last treadmill - it literally went up in smoke. Time to start looking for a new one, I think. I also rode my bike trainer, which was disappointingly boring. I know that - like the treadmill - you just have to keep doing it until you get used to it and then begin to enjoy it. Everything I've read says it takes a good 2 weeks to get used to the bike trainer. Bah, humbug. Swimming is sooooo nice. I'm ready to speed up my swims now, which I find exciting. I love to see improvement.

I finished Maniac Magee (loved it) and started "The Help". I actually started it last night while Jeff and Oliver were at a Barbershop Quartet concert, Sam was at the campout, and I'd put the girls to bed. Ahhh, "me" time. Sigh. It was pleasant. And I was surprised at how I immediately got into the book. Often it takes me a good 100 pages or so. Not this one. It's the story of life written from the perspective of an African American (she calls herself "black") lady who was hired help in the 1960's. She tells her and her friends' (who are also "the help" in other white households) stories. Interesting, and heartbreaking. I can't imagine people being treated as less than equals. Color, station, wealth, education, successes - these things do not matter. These things do not make one person more valuable than another. Ugh. I'd better stop now before I get all worked up. I'm mad at the past - and, I guess, at the present. Anytime there's an inequality that devalues people, I just want to yell STOP IT. And BE NICE. Is it really so hard?

Off to tackle the day. I'm eyeing the clock, wondering when Samuel will walk in the door and hoping he was warm last night.


  1. Winter camping doesn't really strike me as fun. i hope Samuel's opinion differs though. I love reading what you are up to. I gives me ideas. :D And book recommendations...if I can find time to read. (which I probably could if I spent less time on the blogs. hm...)

    p.s. I saw you at broulims the other day and I was going to say hello, but you looked to be on the phone, so a belated "hello, good to see you" to ya.

  2. Katie! I wish I'd seen you! I would love to see your new baby. Well, Samuel survived and looked at me funny when I cried as he walked in the door. Just kidding - I didn't cry. But I did grab that little guy (who's nearly as tall as me now) and hug him tight. I kept pestering him about the campout - mostly I got, "It was fun." Hmph. We need to work on communicating with mommy better. Thanks for reading the blog! That makes me happy :)