Thursday, July 10, 2014

New-to-us Piano

The Whomptons have had an upright piano with an interesting life story for quite a while.  It was purchased in England and had a good run there.  When its owner Barb decided to move to the States, the piano was shipped across the Atlantic and ended up here.  When Barb was unable to play it anymore, it was passed along to her daughter Catherine and her granddaughter Olivia.  Olivia loved this piano and played it for many years.  When Catherine accepted a job in China, she sold the piano to us.  We, of course, offered to return the piano back to her or Olivia if they ever returned stateside and they did just a month ago.

It was hard to explain to Raina that the piano she learned to play on had another owner with more of a claim to it than we had.  Raina loved the piano too, of course.  But they loved the piano more and we returned it to them two weeks ago.  It was time for us to find a new piano!

Okay, I'll be honest.  We didn't want a new piano.  New pianos are expensive and I'm too frugal to buy one.  We wanted a new-to-us piano that was guaranteed to be in good shape.  We perused CraigsList and, with the help of Bing's Piano Services, we selected our new piano.  Bing fixed a few small problems (with Lola's help) and Raina declared her new piano lovely.

Here's to many happy years of playing!

Grandparent Love

The girls and their grandparents have been together a lot these past few months: winter holidays, Grandparents and Special Friends day, Raina's 5K, Grandparent Camp, and the beach trip.  Here are some photos from those adventures.  (This included the first Ted Drewes trip for Terry, Darlene, Raina, and Lola.  It was well received!)

Raina's first 5K

Raina joined Girls on the Run this year.  GOTR is an organization that coaches girls on leadership, empowerment, and running a 5K race.  Never one for organized sports, Raina found she excelled at running and she beamed with all the praise she received from her coaches.  She determined that she was faster than many of her peers and she had more endurance than she realized.  Eric and I started to invite her on our morning runs and Raina began accepting the invitations.  Raina began to associate the term “runner” as an attribute for herself. 

Then she had her practice 5K race at school.  I was told that I should follow Raina’s lead on how she wanted to run her practice 5K and just encourage her verbally throughout the race.  I worried about this plan – on our weekend runs Raina wanted to sprint and then walk, which is not a successful distance model – but I deferred to the experience of her GOTR coaches.  The practice 5K day was cold, windy, misty, and miserable.  Raina sprinted and expended all her energy early and then was completely defeated by the fact that she was walking when everyone else was finishing the race.  She wanted to quit, she cried, and I negotiated with her, cajoled her, dragged her, and irritated her through the remainder of the race.  She finished but it was a trial for everyone.  Raina left that experience crushed and she told me that she did not want to run the GOTR 5K in two weeks.

This was not an option.  Our good friend Tina Kearney gave the #1 race bib to Raina for her first race.  Raina’s grandparents were coming to see her run.  And we had paid the registrations.  She was doing the race!  We just needed to do the 5K differently.

We talked a lot about strategy of running, of efficiency, of pacing, of attitude.  We did a few runs over the next few weeks together, trying to regain her confidence.  And we talked it up as a “complete, not compete” model. 

The 5K race day was beautiful: sunny, cool, and full of energy.  The GOTR folks really know how to put on a party!  They had colored hair spray and lots of music, everyone was in the same bright colored shirts, there were cheerleaders and supporters everywhere.  Raina refused to be excited by these things.  She was clearly nervous.  I was BOUNCY with energy, which embarrassed Raina even more. 

Finally the race began.  We let other folks run around us as we picked one pace person to follow.  Raina warmed up and wanted to run faster, so we picked up the pace and found a new person to follow.  We stuck with a ridiculously happy guy pushing a stroller with a boombox inside.  He blared high energy music and sang at the top of his lungs and I knew we wanted to connect with his energy for as long as possible.  He saw us to the last half-mile, where Raina sprinted to the finish. 

Raina walked on occasion but ran most of the distance.  It was hard but not as hard as she thought it would be and she was incredibly proud of herself for making it all the way through.  I admit to crying tears of relief mid-way through the race when I could see the experience was going to positive for her.  Thank goodness!

Here are before and after photos of our #1 runner!

Beach Trip 2014

The Compton – Whompton – Astorian tribes converge together in Litchfield, South Carolina, and enjoy each other’s company for a week.  The Whomptons break the drive into two days – one long, one short – and then truly celebrate once we’re free of the car.

Samantha came on this trip.  While the Whomptons can cram 5 people into the Prius, it’s not a comfortable fit for any length of time and really wasn’t a good option for this trip.  So Samantha drove her Prius too.  Everyone was out of the house by 7 a.m. on Friday and the beach trip began!

Friday was a frustrating day, where it felt that nothing went our way.  The police closed the interstate highway outside of Marion, IL, so we were stopped for a long time and then were diverted on side state roads.  Lunch was in Clarksville, TN, where Samantha was rear-ended so forcefully that she hit the car in front of her.  Yep, a car accident 4 hours into our trip.  We spent multiple hours in Clarksville dealing with the police report and trying to determine whether her car was safe to drive 950 miles there and back.  We decided yes and off we were again.  Our original Chattanooga dinner location was closed so we audibled to an absolutely scrumptious FoodWorks dinner.  (We finally found a meal that defeated Raina – look at that lasagna!)  Then there were multiple accidents in Atlanta, which held us up.  In the end, we arrived at our Atlanta hotel 4 hours later than we planned and went straight to bed.

Saturday was much smoother.  The Atlanta traffic was perfectly reasonable and both Krystal and Samantha happily joined the crowds who drove 20 mph over the speed limit in the SLOW lane.  We arrived in South Carolina in record time!  J  The South Carolina leg is a lot of state roads and we were only stopped once – for the county fair of a small SC town.  We arrived in Litchfield early and ran errands, etc., as we waited for the beach house key.  We had dinner at 5 p.m. and spent the evening visiting the beach.

The week had a lot of firsts.  Raina learned how to ride waves on the boogie board by herself.  Krystal learned how to body surf.  Eric and Raina constructed an elaborate tunnel system in the sand.  JoLynn and Emily saw a loggerhead sea turtle nest.  Krystal and Samantha sacrificed hats and sunglasses to the ocean.  We experienced our first hurricane.  Eric and Krystal ran on the beach during the hurricane.  We stood on the beach and watched Independence Day fireworks in every direction.  Raina and Lola learned to love showers.  The girls watched ET with Jerry.  The temperature ranged from the low 70s to upper 80s (by far the coolest beach trip we’ve ever taken).

And the week had a lot of standard activities as well: eating peaches and other tasty food, reading books, digging in the sand, long walks on the beach, hours splashing in the waves, taking required Compton photos, and lots of games.  We played Bridge, Hanabi, Barbu, Escape from the Temple, Zombie Fluxx, and Lord of the Rings Card Game.  The five year olds continuously played with each other, devising games and activities that were attractive only to the younger set, and Raina felt a tad lonely. 

Our drive back was relatively uneventful.  We were stopped outside of Chattanooga briefly and our plan to return to FoodWorks for dinner was foiled due to fire.  (All the news reports indicate that everyone who works for the restaurant is okay and the restaurant will re-open soon.)  We reached Nashville with plenty of time to lounge around and be tired and crash early, and we reached Saint Louis the next day with time to do the same.  There’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed after a long trip!