Thursday, May 31, 2012

Roadschooling: The Results are In!

After several days of adventure after adventure the true reason why we traveled so many hours was upon us...competition day!  Nerves were running high and time was tight but what is a better stress release than decorating a car?  Grace was off on her own, having spent two nights at the Hampton Inn sleeping in a suite with her team.  I could do a whole post (and probably will!) counting the ways Grace grew from this trip...

This moment of artistic expression was for Lilah’s team, the Crazed Carrots.  My car was transformed into a moving expression of team loyalty.  It was unique, colorful, creative and almost permanent!
I loved driving it.  As we drove home along I81 through Virginia and Pennsylvania, we were the recipients of numerous waves, beeps, and smiles.  Now that we are home, and have been for four days, we are still attempting to remove the paint!  I truly hope the children had the time of their lives because we will never ever do this again!
After departing the hotel, we caravaned into Knoxville with Carrots who had too much energy to sit still.  There was the inspection of the prop room, which stored the props for their performance, like garbage island, sharks, bloody bits, and their team presentation board.  There was last minute practicing and soothing of nerves.
I don’t know whose nerves were worse, the children’s or mine.  Back in March,at the State Tournament, I was the Instant Challenge Timekeeper.  I was sequestered in a conference room at the college and I did not have the opportunity to see either of my children compete.  Imagine my dismay when I learned that in a global tournament, where 1200 teams had to be fit into time slots over the course of 3 days, that my two teams were scheduled to compete 20 minutes apart in two different buildings on campus!  Originally my plan was to stay with Lilah and send Greg to Grace’s performance.  Then I got the phone call that Grace was distraught and desperately wanted me.  What to do...what to do?  Well... what any Mama would do.....I ran.  Ran down the hill, in flip flop Birkenstocks, in 90+ degree heat, with a pulled, but most likely torn glute muscle (the result of water skiing earlier in the week), panting, puffing and crying.  The stress was just too much.  I broke under the pressure.

Greg met me at the conference center, escorted my inside, calmed me down, and then he took off running to where I came from, Lilah’s performance.  I stayed and watched Grace’s team give the Appraisers their all.

With the help of two Dads (to whom I am eternally grateful), the second the applause died out, we began to run.  We ran to the parking lot next door.  I was just a hot mess of a Mama.  The only things that kept me sane were the realization that Grace just did the best job she could, and that I have really really great friends.  I was whisked away back up the hill and deposited at the door to Lilah’s performance.  A switcheroo was requested and a team from Texas was placed in front of Lilah’s team buying me just enough time to make it to both girls competitions.  Crisis averted.
Lilah’s team rocked their competition.  They helped one another without asking.  They comforted one another when necessary.  They prompted when needed and spoke with clarity and confidence.  They owned their project.  I cannot say with conviction that every team at Global Finals was 100% unassisted.  Some projects were very, very polished.  We may not have had flashing fairy lights, or clever double entendres, but we had kids with heart.  They stole mine.  By the end of the performance I was crying again.  Not because of my throbbing butt, or the possibility of heat stroke, but because I was damn proud of my girls.  The cost, the travel, the time, the stress, the schedules, the was worth every minute to see my daughters achieve this goal. 

Well done Crazed Carrots who placed 19th out of 43 teams.
Well done Vision Quest who placed 28th out of 48 teams.

We are so very proud of you all!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Roadschooling: Pin Trading

Pin trading.  Those two words are enough to make either of my children obey my every command.  I wish the power of pin trading held for more than five days.  Imagine.  “Girls, please have your math complete and you may pin trade.”  Done.  “Girls, please clean your rooms, wash the car, clean the attic and take out the trash and then you may pin trade.” Done.  The power of the pin trade.

I was not really prepared for this.  They are just pins right?  Wrong.  These are currency.  They are traded at a frenetic speed with passion and at times obsession. Each state or country brings an affiliate pin that represents the culture of their state.  Grace got an amazing pin from Kansas of a tornado.  Lilah’s favorites were Maryland’s crabs.  Some teams also take the liberty of designing and producing their own pins and if they plan right, they become hot commodities.  The popular ones this year were the Hunger Games and Avengers pins.

Training must be done in order to successfully navigate your way through the trade.  Our first night at the hotel we were treated to a seminar held by the Dad of Grace’s best friend,  who designed a gorgeous set of pins that were to become collectors items.  Since CT has so few delegates representing our state, these pins were quickly traded and other states came up to us seeking out certain pins to complete a set.  There are three rules to pin trading:
  • a pin for a pin
  • a set for a set
  • it is okay to say no.

Should be simple enough, right?  Wrong.  There are huge differences in quality of the pins.  Younger children can easily be coerced into trading a colorful metallic pin for a piece of plastic. Sometimes parents are involved in trading, at times even having their own collections, which is kind of creepy if you ask me......  After our seminar, we tested the pin trading waters, dipping our toes in by visiting the lobby of a nearby Marriott hotel which housed many of the teams.  This was pin trading on a very small scale.  

Once the tournament was in full swing, pin trading was done on a grand scale.  "Official” pin trading areas were largely ignored.  Pin trading was done at opening and closing ceremony, pool side, breakfast, lunch and dinner.  At first I was a bit annoyed by how this seemed to overshadow the meaning of the tournament until I looked closely at what the children were doing and learning.  Here was my Lilah, off on her own, going up to children, saying hello, asking them what state or country there were from and negotiating with them.  This common form of communication eliminated the language barrier.  Pin is a universal word at DI Globals.  The children each carry a pin bag, with a rolled up towel to display their wares.  It reminded me of the street vendors on Canal Street in NYC.  Efficiency is key.  Pins are traded at lightning speed and must be transportable as there is an ebb and flow to the crowd of traders.  It was fascinating to watch.  

I am thinking of a way to make a shadow box or a cork board frame to permanently display this amazing keepsake from their Globals experience.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Roadschooling: Duct Tape Ball

3M sponsors the Duct Tape Ball at the DI Global Finals.  The team took their inspiration from the movie Guardians of Ga’hoole and decided to transform into duct tape owls!  Their costumes were designed by Steph, their Team Manager, but Lilah did 99% of the work herself.  Her wings took about 6 hours to create.   

Grace’s team went with a Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland theme.  

As I was sitting in the stands watching the scene at the auditorium below, I was reflecting on how this experience provided my girls with opportunities that would be hard to recreate as homeschoolers... going to a dance.  This is the epitome of a school dance!  DJ, entertainers, lasers, hundreds of children dressed up, and the freedom to venture out and spread their wings.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Roadschooling: Opening Ceremonies!

Opening ceremonies is like participating in the Olympics, each state represented, wearing their team shirt, carrying a flag, parading into a large auditorium.  18,000 people yelling, cheering, waving is quite a site to see.  Our teams are unique in that parents attend.  Most of these teams travel with chaperones, the team manager and co-manager.   DI streams the ceremonies live on their website so family and friends at home can glimpse their child, or at least their child’s team.  
For a few seconds Greg and I were able to feel what it was like for the team members as we were misdirected onto the floor rather than up the stairs to our designated section!  It was truly awesome.  My children will carry this moment with them forever. 

This was a moment to celebrate a year of accomplishments and achievements with a peer group that spans the globe.  Turkey, South Korea, China, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia are just some of the 13 countries that sent teams to Knoxville.  Like the Olympics, each team has an affiliate pin to be traded throughout the week.  Geography comes to life through the interaction of children who communicate, despite having language barriers, through the international DI language of pin trading.

After listening to the words of welcome from various board members and community members, the teams were treated to a concert-like experience with lasers and heart pounding music as each challenge was highlighted.  Our teams competed in Coming Attractions and World Canvas, and would not compete until later in the week.  

This was a night to enjoy the moment and take it all in.  This was Lilah’s #1 goal on her New Year’s list from January.  How often do we get to make our goals a reality?  How many times do we give up or give in when things are tough?  Many people helped get this team to this opening ceremony.  Scores of hours were spent in fundraising and practice in order to be a member of this audience.  Come what may, succeed or fail, my girl’s teams earned a place among this crowd through their efforts.  For that they should be exceedingly proud.  Their mother and father are.

This is what is was like!

video video

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Roadschooling: One for the bucket list!

I am 40 years old. I know what is out of my comfort zone (water skiing) and what is out of the question (zip lining).  Zip lining is something that I have absolutely no interest in doing.  Ever.  The rest of my family feels differently and they had the opportunity to cross this off their bucket list.  It was all I could do to stand at the top of the tower knowing that the three people that have my heart were about to leap supported only by a harness attached to a cable that spanned the treetops.  I am glad I was able to see my children work through something difficult.  They were scared, but not scared enough to prevent them from achieving a goal.  They could not understand why I choose to sit in the lodge with a soy latte and a good book.  I had to explain that at this stage in my life my goals are very different than theirs.  I wished them well, wished them safety, wished them exhilaration, and silently I prayed that God would hold them in the palm of his hand.

Don't You Just Stay Home All Day?

It’s funny because last night at youth group some of the kids friends were discussing homeschooling and really truly felt that we stay home...