Yesterday was an insanely long day. I wasn't the one jumping, but I still ended up completely exhausted and fell into bed as soon as we got home. Yesterday was the regional qualifier competition for USA Jump Rope for our region. The athletes who place in the top five in each event qualify for the national competition in California later this summer. Elise was competing as a non-qualifier as she is not planning on attending nationals. It was a good thing that was her plan all along though because her age group had 28 girls in it and was incredibly tough competition. It was very hard to qualify for nationals in her age division. Elise competed in seven events:
30 second female single rope speed
60 second female single rope speed
3 minute female single rope speed
single rope speed relay (4 person team, each person jumps 30 seconds)
medley speed relay (4 person team, first person jumps 15 seconds, next person jumps 30 seconds, next 45, then one minute)
double dutch speed relay (3 person team, each person jumps one minute while the other two turn ropes)
female single rope freestyle
We arrived bright and early at 7:30. Elise checked in with the team captains, and I attended the judges meeting. One of the unfortunate things about jump rope being a relatively young sport is that you can't just hire judges for competitions. The job title of professional jump rope judge doesn't exist. Instead, parents must be trained to be judges, and every team participating in a competition must supply a certain number of judges. During judge training, I was hopeless at counting speed. My thumb just can't hit the clicker that fast. Nobody wants me out there counting these kids during speed, most especially me, so I was happy to have an assignment of presentation judge. I judge things like... Is she smiling? looking up? looking at the judge? Does he have good posture? Do her skills look strong and easy or slow and labored? Does his tumbling look smooth? Did she end with a cute pose? Is her shirt tucked in? Is her hair braided? Is his routine creative with new and interesting combinations of skills? It is a lot to focus on. Fortunately, I don't have to know exactly what they are doing. There are more experienced content judges for that. I just need to judge how they look while they are doing it.
There was nervous energy in the air as everyone waited for the competition to begin.
(side note... See the blur of purple sparkles in the bottom right corner of that picture? That is the hat that a jumper's grandmother wears to competitions. I love it! She wears a bright purple shirt, a team jacket, and this crazy hat covered in purple sequins! Gotta love the support of a grandmother like that.)
Hair was braided and sprayed with glitter, shoes were tied, and speed ropes were pulled out of bags.
At 8:30, the speed events got underway. There were a lot of events crammed into about 2.5 hours, so the athletes didn't get much rest between each event. It was a HARD morning. Elise's broken ankle had the most impact on her speed scores. She seems to have fully recovered from it in freestyle and regained all the skills she had before the injury. Speed has been a slower comeback though. Her speed scores are consistently lower than they were prior to the injury. She knew going into this competition that her speed scores wouldn't be competitive, but that didn't stop her putting her heart into it.
Watching speed can be a little boring if you are five, so J.C. came prepared with entertainment for Addie.
I thought I had written down all of Elise's heat numbers. It looked like she had a bit of a break between heats, so we decided to head to the cafeteria for a snack. A bit later, I walked down the hallway, glanced in the gym, and spotted Elise doing double-dutch speed. Oops! J.C. and the other girls missed out on seeing that event. She is turning in this picture. She was already done jumping by the time I grabbed my camera.
After lunch, it was time for freestyle, and also time for my first stint at the judging table. Each judging panel has 5 content judges, 5 presentation judges, and one head judge. Assignments are made according to judging skill (or lack thereof when referring to my speed judging skills), and not according to event. That means that you are just as likely to judge your own child as any other child. As luck would have it, I was judging the 11-12 year old girls. Talk about pressure! You don't want to play favorites with your child, but you also don't want to go so far not playing favorites that you judge her more harshly than her competitors. On top of that, you are not allowed to smile, high-five, or clap for your child. You can't wish her good luck or cheer while she is jumping. You have to take off your mom hat and replace it with your judging hat. Good times. Since I was judging, I couldn't take pictures, but JC captured her on video. It has been nice to go back and replay the video to watch her as a proud mamma instead of critiquing every second of her presentation as a judge. She came off the floor smiling and happy, so I smiled a little smile in my head while I sat in my stone-faced judging seat.
When I got a break from judging, I was able to watch some of the other athletes on the team compete. Some of these kids have mad skills. They are all so fun to watch.
The day finally ended about 8:00 p.m., over twelve hours after we arrived. I think she and I were both asleep within 10 minutes of walking in the house. It was a fun day. It was a good day. It was a happy day, but it was also a very, very, very long day.
Outside my window... a couple trees are down in the neighborhood after a fierce wind/rain storm we had a few nights ago.
I am thinking... about my involvement with the jump rope team. I got into a heated argument with two other parents this week, and it is weighing on my mind. Why do kids' sports have to make life so complicated for the parents?
I am thankful for... firefighters, police, and first responders who did such a great job in both West, TX and Boston this week.
From the kitchen... tacos, refried beans, and chips and salsa.
I am creating... Disney autograph books. The girls had the characters sign their books while we were on our trip, but I haven't printed out the photos yet to put next to the signatures. I'm working on that tonight.
I am going... to watch a little TV, take a bath, and go to bed when I finish writing this.
I am hoping... that the people of West, TX, are getting good counseling and support. I imagine the entire town is grieving and in shock. It is hard to lean on your friends, neighbors, and church members when they are all going through the same thing.
I am hearing... quiet. Everyone has gone to bed.
Around the house... chunks of granite. J.C. and I are the worst decision makers ever. It will be another 10 years before our kitchen gets new countertops.
One of my favorite things...the new Starbuck's at work. I walk down the stairs, and they greet me with, "tall skinny mocha, no whip?" That makes me smile. It also has these really cool mod orange chairs that are so inviting. I want them for my house, but I think I'd have to redecorate the whole house to work with the chairs. Given my inability to choose something as simple as granite, redecorating the whole house to accomodate orange chairs just isn't going to happen.
A few plans for the rest of the week... book club, and a jump rope competition.
Here is a picture thought I am sharing... modeling Nana's jewelry... oh so stylish.
As the awful tragedy in Boston and the subsequent manhunt was the captivating our nation and every 24 hour news channel, the lesser reported explosion in a tiny Texas town was the story this week that took a little piece of my heart. My father's family is Czech, and the tiny town of West, Texas, while just barely a dot on a map, is the heart of the Czech population in Texas. West was even named "Home of the official kolache of the Texas Legislature." Kolaches are a traditional Czech pastry, and West is the place to get them. In my family, it was always expected that if you were making the drive between Dallas and Austin or San Antonio, you would arrive at your destination carrying a big box of fresh baked kolaches from West. My aunt's favorite is prune, my dad's is apricot, and mine is cherry. Any drive on I-35 included a mandatory stop in West for kolaches from Kolacek's Bakery. If we had a cooler with us, then there would be a visit to the Nemacek Brother's Meat Market for sausages. The population of West is under 3000, most of them Czech. It is a tiny little town with a quaint traditional main street. Until this week, most people had never heard of West, but it has always been a special place to our family. If you were going to visit an aunt, uncle, mother, or grandmother, you came with kolaches from West in hand.
The fertilizer plant explosion this week leveled more than 60 homes, killed at least 14 people, and injured more than 200. I can't even fathom the lasting effects this tragedy will have on that community. It will never be the same. I'm sure everyone with ties to Boston is mourning for their city and the lives that were lost there. West, Texas is a little piece of my family, my heritage, and my heart, and my dad and I are both mourning for it.
I know the Czechs in West will keep baking kolaches and find a way to recover, but that little bitty dot on the map along I-35 will never be quite the same.
Outside my window... a fine yellow haze of pollen covers every square inch of everything. I hate that the gorgeous weather of spring gets so tainted by the pollen. It is perfect weather for sitting outside on our screened porch, but five minutes after hosing all the furniture down, it is bright yellow again. It just isn't worth fighting.
I am thinking... that I've been a very absent blogger lately. Sorry about that.
I am thankful for... a night away from home this past weekend - dinner out with a good friend, shopping at a big outlet mall, and a peaceful night sleep in a hotel. Getting away for a night occassionally can do wonders for my soul. Everybody needs a break from the usual routine.
From the kitchen... flank steak on the grill, not sure what else.
I am creating... a Disney photobook. I'm hoping to finish and order it today.
I am going... to have a productive day today. (If I say it definitively like that, it will happen, right?)
I am reading... Honolulu by Alan Brennert. I finished Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. That was such a fun book - a curious dusty old bookstore, quirky characters, technology, and a mysterious society... good stuff. I finally gave up on The Host by Stephenie Meyer. It just wasn't grabbing me, and many comments on the blog suggested I quit reading it!
I am hoping... that J.C. will like the granite I picked out today for our kitchen counters. After bringing home countless loser samples, I think I finally found one that will work.
I am hearing... Golddust by DJ Fresh... love this song.
Around the house... boxes of stuff to go to Goodwill, a pile of stuff to put up for sale. We've been doing some purging and cleaning.
One of my favorite things...the color pink.
A few plans for the rest of the week... busy week... drawing class, "night out in nature", and a Girl Scout museum event for Nina, jump rope practice and a jump rope performance at a middle school for Elise, a field trip to a museum for Addie's preschool class, and I'm working at the ball park one night.
Here is a picture thought I am sharing... a few pictures from team picture day with Elise's jump rope team.
The performance team (Elise is second from the left in the middle)
The performance and competition teams together (Elise is 4th from the right on the top row)
Elise doing an EB. (Check out all that pollen behind her. It was flying up while the kids jumped. Ick.)
And a few more action shots. I have to say, I was pretty impressed with my iPhone managing to capture these images. They aren't perfect but pretty darn good considering they were taken with a phone!
Outside my window... the bradford pear trees and cherry trees are blooming. The camellia has bright pink flowers. The tulips and daffodils look so cheery. I think spring has finally arrived. It is about time!
I am thinking... about lunch. I'm hungry.
I am thankful for... my parents getting an offer on their condo in Texas.
From the kitchen... salmon, asparagus, and pineapple slices on the grill, pasta with pesto, and garlic bread.
I am creating... a Disney photobook.
I am going... to get my car washed today. In cleaning it out, I found three lunch boxes, six shoes (not necessarily matching ones), five water bottles, three jackets, two library books, and countless french fries and cracker crumbs.
I am reading... The Host by Stephenie Meyer. I'm not sure how much longer I can stand this book. I'm trying to give it a chance though.
I am hoping... that nothing goes wrong between now and the closing for selling my parents' condo.
I am hearing... some little birds chirping.
Around the house... Easter candy.... too much of it!
One of my favorite things...deviled eggs.
A few plans for the rest of the week... lunch with a friend, going to a play with my mom, and possibly going to see The Host with friends.
Here is a picture thought I am sharing... "Look Mommy! I'm sorting my breakfast!"