2 Bigs + 4 Littles under 1 Midsize Roof = Life As We Know It
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Posts from — July 2009

Water: Logged

Despite the fact that daily high temperatures are still registering in the triple digits where we live, “summer” is on the wane for us, and we have, for the most part, resumed our regular school-year schedule. (Actually, we tend to homeschool year-round, but during June and July we deviate somewhat from the routine as we find ourselves involved in seasonal activities and eager to get together with friends who aren’t as available at other times.) This year, the transition was marked by the end of swim team for Kellen and Kerrick, who made a splash both in and out of the pool during their debut as Piranhas (the team mascot).

Determined to capitalize on the learning potential provided by the experience, we plunged into it with enthusiasm. We hung up a poster of Michael Phelps in the boys’ bedroom, where it would be the last thing they saw before they closed their eyes each night and the first thing they saw when they rolled out of bed for morning practice and (even earlier morning!) meets. (Phelps’s recent poor choices and their resulting consequences aside, we are fine with him holding hero status in our boys’ eyes for his athletic ability. Like everyone else, Kellen and Kerrick were riveted by his Olympic performances last summer. And actually, their limited knowledge about his subsequent news-making activities has served to help them realize that he is, after all, human and that character counts, whether or not someone is watching your every move.)

Sibling ribbonry: Wall of fame helps keep Phelps fans Kellen and Kerrick motivated.
Sibling ribbonry: Wall of fame helps keep Phelps fans Kellen and Kerrick motivated.

We also created charts to record their race times, and the boys enjoyed comparing their “stats”—both with each other and against their own previous times. I think we were all surprised to see their strokes improve and their speeds increase so dramatically in such a short period. In at least a few strokes, they each shaved more than 20 seconds off their race times from the first meet in early June to the sixth and final meet in mid-July. And timing their races inspired a desire to time other things—for example, how long it took to drive from our house to the library, or how many minutes they practiced the piano—and helped them to develop a sense of time and their relationship with it. This morning, for example, Kerrick learned during a math drill that he could correctly answer 12 addition and subtraction problems in the same time that he can swim the 25-yard freestyle: about 39 seconds. Gotta love those awesome “aha” moments!

Sewed-up stats: We folded over the top of each ribbon to attach tags we made to detail each race—and to provide us with a way to string the ribbons up, banner style.
Sewed-up stats: We folded over the top of each ribbon to attach tags we made to detail each race—and to provide us with a way to string the ribbons up, banner style.

Now that the season has ended, it seems strange not to be at the pool every morning. The boys have made the adjustment with ease, but having had a taste of what it’s like, I’m sure they’ll be eager to dive into it all again next summer. For now, they will enjoy the ribbons they earned (from the highly treasured single first-place and three third-place ones—neither ever won second—to the equally hard-won fourth-, fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-place ones) and their other accolades. (Kerrick, probably the youngest on the entire team, was named Swimmer of the Week early on and by the end of the season was dubbed King of the Pool by his coaches. And Kellen, whose dedication was unmatched—he hated missing practice even when he wasn’t feeling well, and he was a champ at cheering on his teammates—was described as having the Biggest Heart on the team.) As for me, I loved that the physical exercise wore them out enough that they went to bed tired (and at a decent time) every night! 🙂

July 29, 2009   4 Comments

The Beginning

I’ve been thinking over the past several weeks about how to start this blog, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve thought about it way too much and that it’s just time to write already! Probably because I am a writer and editor, I’ve put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself to put together the perfect first post. Part of that pressure comes from questions I have asked myself as I have delved into the process of getting set up—which, by the way, involved a serious learning curve and an incredible expansion of my high-tech vocabulary. Questions such as, “Does the world really need another blog?” “Do I have anything to say that somebody else isn’t already saying?” and “Do I have the energy, creativity and time to keep it going?” My answers? “Probably not.” “I doubt it.” and “I can’t believe you can ask yourself that question with a straight face.” Still, I find myself unable to resist a forum such as this—a place where I can share ideas and experiences with people I know well and people I don’t know at all—yet. And I’m drawn, too, by the knowledge that I’ll be forced to exercise my writing and editing muscles, which often lay dormant too long between free-lance assignments.

So what will I write about, exactly? Well, I plan to follow the old rule, “Write what you know.” Which, for me, means writing about my family and my place in it; the things we strive toward and thrive because of (or in spite of); our life experiences; and our hopes, dreams and heart’s desires—from the minuscule to the grandiose. Topics at the top of my list include homeschooling (which is a huge part of our lifestyle), healthy eating (both for optimal nutrition and to accommodate our family’s food allergies) and hobbies (from digital scrapbooking to urban farming).

The Hemmings Half Dozen includes my husband, Shawn, and I, and our four children: Kellen, 9; Kerrick, almost 7; Kennah, 3 1/2 (don’t forget the 1/2); and Keillor, 20 months. We live in a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, in a mid-size home that often feels crowded and chaotic. And we love it—most of the time. If you find us here, I hope you’ll contribute to the conversation where you can, and that you’ll extend a bit of grace my way as I continue to navigate this uncharted (for me) territory. In fact, for this first post (and maybe beyond,too), I’ve decided to adopt as my motto the following quotation from Dr. Seuss: “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

July 24, 2009   10 Comments