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Archive for December, 2009

Swim meet

Sunday afternoon (after I had my first (great!) experience with a spinning class) my brother and I took my niece to her swim club swim meet at the local community college pool.

Not having been a swimmer growing up, this was a new experience for me.  My niece, however, is already an old hand (as is her father).

The afternoon started with a vigorous warm-up.  Since there were several clubs competing there were a lot of kids in each lane of the pool.  Luckily I saw very few collisions.

After about thirty minutes of practice the meet started.

My niece, A, competed in five events:  the 100 yard individual medley, the 50 yard freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke, and the monstrous 200 yard freestyle.

I was incredibly impressed with A’s stamina, poise and good spirits as the meet progressed.  Even though she had been up (too) late the night before, she finished every event and came in a very close second in the breaststroke for her age group.

The final event was the 200 yard freestyle; a truly grueling race that I knew A was not looking forward to swimming.  In the end, she decided to go for it

and swam every lap.

Bursting with pride is too mild a description for how I felt at the end of the day.

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Trimming the tree

The children have been eager to decorate the tree ever since we picked it out at the Boy Scout lot down the street the other day.  We put them off until tonight.

After a hearty vegetarian chili dinner, we pull the boxes of decorations from the basement and set to work.

There are the usual challenges: untangling the lights, finding the hooks,

unpacking the glass balls

and other ornaments.

Remarkably, only one ball is broken.

There are also stockings to unfold

and a star to be placed on the top of the tree.  Twice.

By the end, the tree is practically dripping with ornaments

and we are all remembering other trees, in this house and others, with these people and with others, as we climb the stairs to sleep.

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Walking to school

One of the things I most look forward to when I am visiting my family is walking my nephew to school in the morning.

It’s not a long walk, but there is something peaceful about being out with all of the other parents and kids and dogs converging on the neighborhood school in the frosty morning air.

The other thing that I like about this particular walk is how familiar it feels.  Not only because I have done it many times before, but because of the uniquely St. Louis flavor of the sights along the way.

The limestone wall outside my nephew’s school is just like the one that surrounded the playground of my own elementary school

and the sweetgum balls that we kick aside remind me of the neighborhood where I grew up, just a few miles from here.

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