Tombstone will have to wait.
We are in our super-busy time right now, when Kyle has baseball, John still has tae-kwon-do and the girls have their aerials. May, which I have started calling "Mayhem" will go by in a flash because the beginning of the month, the girls and I and my grandma are going to a retreat in Prescott (yay!), my mom is visiting us (yay!) the girls have their aerials performance (yay!), I will be visiting Memphis to see my newest, incredibly cute niece (yay!), and Kyle has Little League baseball playoffs (yay!). And even though the juggling and trying to figure out what to fix when we are double booked every single night is challenging, I am finding joy in seeing my kids develop skills and learning how to manage disappointments and challenges.
Kyle has a good teaching coach this year and has tried out to be pitcher. He is not incredibly consistent, but everyone has to start somewhere and he CAN strike kids out. His current position would be something like clean up pitcher or maybe 3rd string. In one game, he stole home when the pitcher dropped the ball and his run prevented the opposing team from tying the game and going into extra innings. There was some testosterone-based drama at the game which I don't like very much that involved a call that our coach didn't like. As he was protesting the call, one of the parents on the other side decided to "help" the umpire defend his call. This particular person acted like he had his heart set on his son playing in the major leagues by the time he was 18 and that is not a compliment. I envision a future adult who might hate baseball. The umpire eventually stepped in because the game was being delayed by the silliness. Tonight, he hit an honest triple, honest because he didn't get to go to extra bases because of overthrown balls.
Later that day, John had an in-school karate tournament last weekend and will have a regional tournament this weekend. At the regional tournament, he will have to perform the full routine. In classes, until you become a black belt, they only practice half the form unless there is an upcoming regional tournament. They will sometimes pull tournament-registered kids out of class to review the whole form. This time, however, they set up additional free classes to go over the form. We missed one class to go camping, so the night before the in-school tournament, John learned the whole routine for the first time. At the in-school tournament, the kids had the option of doing the whole routine or half. John decided to do the whole routine. It took him a LOOOONNGGG time to get through the routine and a few times he stood, rocking in place trying to remember what came next for 30 seconds at a time. He made it through the routine, though he missed some of the elements. He didn't get great scores, but, boy, I was sure proud of his chutzpah. He also didn't get great scores in the weapons, partly because he was making it up as he went along as opposed to other competitors who had a set routine that they did. After he got ready for sparring, he put his head down on his bag and started crying. I tried to find out what was the problem, but he couldn't tell me until afterward. Finally, his name was called to spar. His opponent was a recommended black belt, which means that he was preparing to test for black belt. I was worried. The primary judge must have been concerned, too because she asked him twice if he was okay and was able to compete. Both times he nodded his head. The minute they started the round, I saw him take all of his frustration and focus it on getting a point on his opponent. He ended up getting three points before ultimately losing. I was so proud of him pulling himself together and focusing on the next job. He ended up tying for third to get one medal in the tournament. Fast forward an hour and John explained to me that he had been crying because he knew going into sparring that he wasn't going to win a medal for the previous two segments (showing good math skills, I might add). I am so glad I wasn't fully aware of why he was crying because I probably would have said something like, "There's no crying in karate!" which would not have been helpful.
It was a good opportunity to talk about all the great things he did that didn't involve winning a medal, like trying to do something when he knew he hadn't had enough time to practice and pulling himself together enough to be able to score against a recommended black belt and just getting up there to try and compete. And then we talked about what he could do to do better at the tournament, like trying to teach me the full routine (because teaching it to someone else is the best way of learning the routine) and actually planning a weapons routine. And practicing it to get smooth.
The girls are getting ready for their Spring performance in a couple of weeks. My mom is flying in to take a little vacation, which will be wonderful. She will be able to see them perform, maybe see Kyle practice and see John in his karate class. This year, we will be finishing school right before Cub Scout Camp for John, Eric and Kyle.
We are studying Rome as a Republic right now and are playing "Conquest of the Empire" (think "Risk" set up for Roman empire-building). Kyle, of course, chose Greece and worked to get Rome. Elizabeth is occupying Carthaginian territory. She bought a boat and is working on capturing islands. Jessi is set up in Asia Minor and John and I are the very important but possibly easily conquered Hispanola. And in the process, I am challenging them, especially the really competitive ones, to view this game as fun, regardless of the outcome. "Playing games is fun and winning is a bonus" is the attitude I have asked them to take. And I also have to adapt this attitude because I am not very good at strategy games and sometimes put too much of my identity in winning. Learning together is a joy!