August 26, 2012

camp chronicles : one direction

Each summer when we are up north there are fourteen different camps going on over the course of the week. I teach the leadership camp, and the camp that is physically situated closest to us is Dance Camp. As we carry on with the fun that our camp includes, I constantly find myself grooving to the tunes that are emanating from dance camp...usually a broad range of songs from hip hop to disco.

This year, Lady M was a little bit intrigued by the music, and we ventured over to visit dance camp on a couple of occasions. She particularly enjoyed the disco rehearsal, and though the coaches were more than happy to have her join in, she stuck closely to me and quietly observed. As the week progressed, she kept wanting to go into the Rec Hall to have a look at what they were doing, but always stayed near to me for a measure of comfort.
Every summer, thanks to the fabulous dance coaches, the remainder of the coaching staff end up learning a choreographed dance routine that we then perform on skit night in front of the whole camp. This year, our fine instructors chose the One Direction song "What Makes You Beautiful". Trust me, if you don't know the song by name, you've certainly heard it. For three consecutive nights, after the camp was asleep, we coaches took to the Coaches Lounge to practice our dance. Coaches representing Badminton, Tennis, Baseball, Leadership and more pretend that we have the best moves on camp as the very patient dance coaches teach us what they have in store.

One day after lunch we had our last rehearsal before the big performance so Lady M joined us for the fun. Well, she was smitten from that point forward. She learned to do a side-to-side step clap, and also learned to shake her hips like a champ! (My future Zumba girl, naturally). The night of the performance, she was front and centre cheering us on, and at Closing Ceremonies the next day, she was practicing her new moves. When one of the dance coaches asked her if she would be doing dance camp next summer, she emphatically replied "Oh yesssss!"

About a week after camp we were driving along when a song started playing faintly in the background. "Mummy! It's your song", she announced from the backseat. You guessed it - it was One Direction, the boy band du jour. As visions of my childhood love affair with New Kids on the Block danced in my head, I indulged her and turned up the song. (Confession: I quite like the song too). From that point forward, she kept asking to hear it; she couldn't get enough!

Finally, last night, Cal downloaded it and (somewhat begrudgingly) addd it to his iPhone. We then headed to have dinner with my family where Lady M requested the song over and over from our house to theirs (about a 25 minute drive). She forgot about it for a little while upon arrival, but at the end of the night, she requested the sweet sounds of One Direction to be shared with everyone so she could dance.

Thanks to the magic of AppleTV, the song began playing, and Lady M mimicked just about every dance move from our coaches dance, adding in her own little hair flip for extra flair! Little Lady A boogied right alongside her sister and I and we had quite the little dance party in my parents family room.

As I mentioned in an earlier post today, we're looking to put Lady M in dance classes this fall. So long as they play One Direction, I suspect my little girl will be hooked!

soccer star

This summer, Lady M took her first crack at organized sports. You may recall me talking about her experience as a Tiny Tumbler in the springtime; a gymnastics class at our local rec centre that found the kids sitting and waiting their turn more than being active. After that experience, Cal and I thought it might be better for her to try something with more constant activity. Enter: Timbits Soccer.

Back in May, the marathon season began for Lady M and her teammates, all aged 3-5. She, at 3, was on the younger side of the team, but as a little girl who can really hold her own, we had no concern about her participating right alongside the other kids.

We had heard lots of things about little munchkin soccer before starting the season; the way the kids chase the ball around the field like a swarm of bees, the frequent game stoppage when a plane flew overhead, and the desire to pick grass at somewhat inopportune times. Our experience? Much the's pretty darn cute.

Lady M was really keen to start the season, and very excited to 'be the fastest runner on the team' as she kept telling us. From day one, she was excited but always a little tentative. She played every Saturday morning for one hour; the first half hour was practice, and the second was a game.

During the skills practice she would normally be pretty engaged, but after a typically hot half hour, when game time rolled around she was ready to do her own thing, and being a team player wasn't really on her agenda! I think she may have been a little put off by the swarm of running bees, and tended to stay on the outskirts of the group of kids running for the ball. Granted, sometimes she was so far out on the outskirts that she was standing with Cal and I while we tried to convince her to re-join her team. Often, this was slightly painstaking, but I was raised to finish things, and Cal and I both thought it was important that when she was having an 'off' day, she still had to stay, cheer on her team and give high-fives at the end. Of course, though we thought we were instilling good values, and encouraging her to commit, she may have really been committed to the snacks she knew were forthcoming, but the lesson is still good, right?!

Surely, it was better than the lessons offered by the crazy parents who were screaming from the sidelines, yelling at their child like he or she was playing in the world cup. Thankfully most of the really obnoxious ones we came across this season were from the opposing team; we were lucky to have a really great group of parents on Lady M's team. But seriously, how tough can you be on your child at this age? They don't even keep score yet! Some parents are a-holes...but I digress!

Yesterday marked Lady M's last day of soccer for the season (that's right - it ran from May to August...quite long!). In our city we have a great soccer program, and the day was set up so kids played just a short, 15-minute game, then received their trophies and could go get food, their face painted, and enjoy one of the four giant bouncy castles. Lady M just wanted to bounce, and so she did. And she is so proud of her trophy; she got out of bed this morning, and brought it down from her dresser to display in the family room. It may travel with her for a few days, and it's really cute - it makes her beam with pride.

Her first soccer season may not have indicated to us that she's a future Mia Hamm, but I think we'll try it again next summer if she's still interested. Though lately, her team sport interest has shifted to t-ball, so we'll see what happens! Whatever makes her happy. This fall I think we'll be exploring dance, and some more swimming lessons; so many activities, so little time...

August 14, 2012

camp chronicles : mouse in the house

I'm terrified of mice. This is a relatively new fear that I have developed, and one that I wish I could go back and reverse, but unfortunately I don't think that's possible, unless I'm willing to fork out some cash for hypnotherapy or something.

This little story begins last week when we (Cal, the girls and I) headed up to one of my favourite places in the world, my summer camp. I started attending this camp in 1995 when I was 14 years old where I was a volleyball camper for four years. Following that, I spent four full summers on staff, but that just wasn't quite enough for me. I started teaching the one-week Leadership camp back in 2000 (with a couple other fabulous individuals) and really have never looked back. Now, just weeks from my 31st birthday, I'm happy that I still get to spend one week each year at my favourite summer spot. Even better? I get to take my husband and our two little ladies so they can experience how much this place means to me.

This was Lady M's second time to camp; she was last there in 2011 because we skipped last summer seeing as Lady A was only about 12 weeks old at the time. Lady M didn't remember much about camp, but she settled right into camp life within moments of stepping foot on the property and breathing in the beautifully clean northern Ontario air. Lady A was also in her element, happily toddling all over the place in her little pink crocs for the next six days.

I love absolutely everything about my camp, except the potential for having mice nearby. But as I mentioned, this is a new phobia that I developed a few short years ago. Let me explain:

In the summer of 2009 we headed to Florida to celebrate my Aunt's birthday; a big, fabulous family reunion. Cal, Lady M and I landed in Orlando and were met by my parents who had already arrived in town a day or two before. While Cal and my Pops waited for the luggage, my Mum entertained Lady M and I ran to the bathroom. I promptly RAN out of the bathroom when a giant sewer rat walked into my stall and brushed past my feet. Please note, I really hadn't had much issue with rodents to that point. In fact, I can recall having a mouse run across my stomach one night when I was sleeping at camp (back when I worked there full-time) and that barely phased me. The sewer rat at my bare toes, shielded only by a pair of flip flops? That creeped me out BIG TIME.

Fast forward to camp life now, and I'm terrified of having mice in my cabin. But, when we arrived last week I saw that our cabin had nice new flooring, improved windows and several other enhancements from the last time I was there. Relieved, I knew I would sleep well.

However, just one night later, I was dozing on the couch (I didn't say I was roughing it) when Cal woke me up to say "what's that sound?" After exploring a little, I suddenly saw a little rodent run from our bathroom toward the front door. As I cowered and trembled on the couch, I told Cal that it might be a chipmunk or a mouse. Either way, ick. I was shaking...Cal was mouse-hunting. He flung open the front door, and a few minutes later the mouse stopped making noise, so we went to bed assuming that our little visitor had taken leave.

An hour or so later, I jolted awake when the sound returned, and Cal jumped out of bed with one of our trusty flashlights. I decided to run to the coaches lounge (our evening hangout) and grab my friend and co-teacher Rene, who I had seen firsthand look after a cabin mouse in the past. I figured he would be a bigger help to Cal than I, who was shaking like a leaf, alternately wanting to cry and scream. I ran to the lounge, and bumped into another coach I know who told me Rene had gone back to his cabin for the night, but suggested that since she had a couple beers in her, she would be brave enough to come join the mousehunt. Awesome - I had reinforcements! She and Cal found the hole, patched it up, covered it with the fridge, and I semi-relaxed and fell back to sleep. I awoke in the morning feeling like I had just completed a killer ab workout, apparently having trembled and clenched my body all night long, but at least we were mouse-free.

The next night, I was playing in a badminton tournament with the other coaches, and returned later in the night when Cal immediately told me that the mouse had returned, but he had found another hole, patched it up and gotten the mouse out. He had discovered that mice don't like bounce sheets, so he devised a clever solution to stuff powder-scented dirty diaper bags into the mouse hole (in the absence of bounce sheets, of course!). I gently suggested that he probably should have just lied and told me that the mouse had never returned, then climbed into bed once again shaking, and somewhat wishing that Saturday would arrive quickly so I could return home to my own, mouse-free house.

Just to ease my rodent worries a little more, the next day we took a trip into town and stopped into the local Canadian Tire where Cal picked up spray insulation. He very kindly filled in absolutely every hole he could possibly find, inside and outside the cabin, to really keep our visitor out. Well, it must have worked because between Thursday and Saturday, the mouse never returned. Phewf.

So, I don't think that my fear of mice/rats has eased at all, but I do feel a little pride in the fact that I managed to make it through the week sleeping in the same cabin, and not going to my friend Trish's cabin and climbing into bed with she and her husband (though I let her know not to be alarmed if I did at some point!). Hopefully if we return to the same cabin again next year Cal's handyman skills will have all held up, but I guess we'll wait and see.

It's all worth it though to get to spend a week at camp with my family.