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Monday, March 14, 2005

The whole of last week disappeared into a soggy, tissue-filled morass of coughing, sneezing, and general misery. It was truly foul. The fact that Sophie was doing a series of experiments to do with magnetism didn't help either; I had no idea how far one the contents of those little tubs of iron filings could spread.

The weekend was good though.

We spent Saturday climbing at the gym. It was fun, if a bit depressing for me.

I hadn't realised just how out of shape I've got over the past couple of months. This year, we got together with some other parents, and decided not to pay to have the kids on the "official" gym team. It cost a lot - almost $400 per kid, on top of competition fees and gym memberships - and they really weren't getting much coaching for that. Instead, one of the other parents has put together a training program, and we meet twice a week as usual. Between us, two other dads (both climbers), Bobby and I, and another dad who doesn't climb, just belays - give the kids a real work-out twice a week. It's working out much better for the kids; they're getting great coaching and a lot more time on the walls than they got on the "real" team. And they're doing really well. In the last comp, Em took first place again, Sophie took second in her category, and Steve took fifth in his. Our team (Team Gecko) also got a first place in Boys 12/13, first in Boys 11-and-under, and third in Girls 12/13. Pretty good, and way better than the gym's team did. But the thing is, Bobby and I used to climb during the team practices; we would belay each other while the team was doing their thing. These days, though, we have our hands full belaying the kids. So we barely get to climb anymore, and our climbing has really suffered as a result. So we are going to try to get in an extra session every week, where the two of us get a good work-out.

We had planned to go to church on Sunday, but it was such a glorious day that we called a friend and went canoeing at De Leon Springs instead. We took a picnic with us, and paddled till we got to a beachable spot. Ate our lunch, went for a walk, then paddled back. It is beautiful there; wide-open water, and also smaller, overhung quiet green byways to travel down. At one stage we saw a big alligator surrounded by eight or ten baby gators - pretty cool. In a creepy kind of way.

This is one of the pictures we took there on Sunday.

My arms are really stiff today, and Bobby is sunburned (silly man, I don't know why he has such a resistance to using sunscreen). But it was a lovely day out.

And in the evening we had our bookgroup meeting. Our book for this past month was The Golden Compass - a welcome change from the dreaded War and Peace. The book is a fantasy novel; the first in a trilogy. The series was originally aimed at the young adult market, but the books are wonderful, thought-provoking reads for any age. I particularly enjoyed last night's meeting because our children, and the daughter of another couple, also read the book, and participated in the discussion. I absolutely love having children old enough to read good books, and discuss them intelligently. I was a little surprised that Sophie enjoyed the book so much; I knew Steve and Em would like it but I thought it would be a bit dark for Soph. Not a bit of it; she says it's the best book she's ever read, and can't wait to start the second one.

I did cringe a bit at one point during the meeting, though. There were some potato chips out for people to snack on, and the other little girl there was munching away on them. Her parents told her several times that she'd had enough; that she should stop eating; that she wasn't supposed to eat the chips. Each time, she ignored them, until eventually they actually took a chip out of her hand and moved the bowl further away from her. As they were leaving, she snuck one last chip, and her dad (this is according to Emily, I didn't hear it for myself) told her, right, that's it, I told you not to eat those, no more TV for you now. I think this is so stupid. I can't think of a better way to create a kid who is obsessed with junk food than to freak out and punish her when she eats a handful of potato chips. I mean, sure, don't buy them, don't have them in your house - they're certainly not good for you - but geez, when you're in someone else's house, and there are chips out, why make a big deal of it if the kid eats some? They've mentioned before that they have food issues with her; all she wants to eat is chicken, for instance, but they don't allow meat in their house; she wants to eat junk all the time and they don't allow it ... It's such a classic example of letting food become a weapon in a power struggle. Silly to let it happen, it's so unnecessary. And they're such nice parents, and such intelligent people.

I wonder what things Bobby and I do that other people see as stupid or misguided.

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