Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A little swim team info

If you're like us, before we joined swim team we didn't have a clue what it was all about besides "there are swim practices and meets." Like everything, there's more to it than that.

The Dale City Frogs are an all-inclusive team. You don't try out to make the team, you join and are put in an appropriate practice group. When we came Stateside last year it's what I wanted, for everyone to have a physical activity they could enjoy and improve in. Sure, some competitiveness comes out too but let's face it, aside from a rare few you'd be hard-pressed to find all the siblings in one family excelling all-together in a single sport. Because it's all-inclusive, the Frogs are far from the highest ranked team. We have plenty of slow... really slow... swimmers (see: Jonathon) who still continue to improve their personal best times each week.

At each meet there are 3 timers per lane and through some magical formula a final time is figured. Kids earn ribbons by winning their heat, by beating their personal best time, and by ranking in the top 12 at the meet. Points are earned by the top 12 swimmers across both teams, the lower the time the higher the points. At the end of the meet the team with the most points wins the meet.

Certain times earn rankings in the Prince William Swim League. For example for the 11/12 Girls 50 Free, a B time is between 37.62s-41.69s, and an A time is anything under 37.61s. The whole list of times can be found on the PWSL by-laws on page 14, if you're curious.

Each team, according to their swimmer speeds and overall point earnings is slotted into a Division. This year the Frogs are in the Yellow Division along with our own neighborhood Montclair as well as Dominion Valley. We'll be competing against both of them this Saturday at our final meet, Divisionals.

So there you go, a quick rundown of what's been taking up our time the past 8 weeks.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Swim Meet Round-up #2

From the last 2 meets...

Without the relays since those are such a mess.
Meet #3 vs Victory Lakes
Event #28 - Boys 8 and under: 25 Backstroke: 37.27 (seed 37.93)
Event #38 - Boys 8 and under: 25 Breaststroke: 1:00.78
Event #48 - Boys 8 and under: 25 Fly: DQ
Event #12 - Boys 9/10: 50 Free: 45.94 (seed 47.95) PWB
Event #30 - Boys 9/10: 50 Backstroke: 58.63 (seed 1:00.94) PWB
Event #50 - Boys 9/10: 25 Fly: 30.96 (seed 33.59)
Event #15 - Girls 11/12: 50 Free: 38.84 (seed 39.85) PWB
Event #33 - Girls 11/12: 50 Backstroke: DQ (seed 52.16 PWB)
Event #43 - Girls 11/12" 50 Breaststroke: 58.58 (seed 59.37)
Event #17 - Girls 13/14: 50 Free: 38.40 (seed 40.56) PWB
Event #25 - Girls 13/14: 100 IM: 1:43.69 (seed 1:46.47)
Event #45 - Girls 13/14: 50 Breaststroke: 46.57 (seed 48.53) PWB
Meet #4 @ Lake Ridge Lancers
Event #10 - Boys 8 and under: 25 Free: 33.97 (seed 30.56)
Event #28 - Boys 8 and under: 25 Backstroke: DQ (seed 37.27)
Event #38 - Boys 8 and under: 25 Breaststroke: DQ (seed 1:00.78)
Event #48 - Boys 8 and under: 25 Fly: DQ
Event #12 - Boys 9/10: 50 Free: 46.75 (seed 45.94 PWB)
Event #30 - Boys 9/10: 50 Backstroke: 1:02.38 (seed 58.63 PWB)
Event #50 - Boys 9/10: 25 Fly: 32.50 (seed 30.96)
Event #15 - Girls 11/12: 50 Free: 39.09 (seed 38.84) PWB
Event #23 - Girls 11/12: 100 IM: 1:51.96 (seed 1:56.07)
Event #43 - Girls 11/12" 50 Breaststroke: 57.81 (seed 58.58)
Event #17 - Girls 13/14: 50 Free: 38.34 (seed 38.40) PWB
Event #25 - Girls 13/14: 100 IM: 1:42.03 (seed 1:43.69)
Event #45 - Girls 13/14: 50 Breaststroke: 46.66 (seed 46.57) PWB

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Camp Week

Civil War camp was such a hit for the boys they want to do the second, more involved, camp next summer. I could sign them up for the one this year that's coming up in 2 weeks, but really I don't want to do the commute to Manassas right away again. It's not that far really, but doing it 5 days in a row and not being able to come back between drop-off and pick-up was tiring. So, we hope we're here next year to round out the program.

7/19/10 - Civil War camp at Ben Lomond Manor House

On Monday, the boys were enlisted and built their shebangs. The camp was on the Ben Lomond Manor House grounds, a lovely area a few miles from the Manassas Battlefield, and was used as a Confederate hospital .
7/19/10 - Enlisted in Civil War camp 7/19/10 - Enlisted in Civil War camp
On Tuesday they worked on following orders and creating their team flags. Nicholas was on Red, Jonathon on Blue. Wednesday was about camp food. Apparently, it was pretty gross.
7/21/10 - Civil War camp cooking 7/21/10 - Civil War camp cooking
7/21/10 - Civil War camp cooking 7/21/10 - Civil War camp cooking
On Thursday they practiced some skirmishing and learned about the Civil War weapons. By Friday, their terms of service were up, as often Civil War soldiers signed on by week. Before their discharge they took a field trip to the Manassas National Battlefield Park. After walking the grounds the boys viewed the visitor's center video about First and Second Manassas.
7/23/10 - Civil War camp discharge 7/23/10 - Civil War camp discharge
The boys had such a great week they're ready to go back. That's a first for a PWC camp so far. Last year's Cheer camp, Volleyball camp and Day camps didn't quite meet expectations.
While the boys were over in Manassas, Katherine went off to the Prince William County Band Camp, in the opposite direction, at the exact same time. Ian, wonderful Ian, took the week off to shuttle her back and forth while I drove the boys and hung out with the younger girls. It couldn't have happened without him. Initially Katherine was perturbed that I'd signed her up. But, like marching band before (and yet to come), she had a great time and wants to do it again next summer. After only four days of camp 9-3, Friday they performed their concert. On Monday there were auditions to split the kids into either Cadet or Concert band and the kids ranged from elementary to high school so both groups were quite mixed in age. Each group of instruments did an ensemble piece, the flutes did "I Got a Feeling" (or "I Gotta Feelin' " or whatever), and the Concert Band had 7 pieces of their own. Truly, Katherine learned 8 new pieces in 4 days. Crazy.
7/23/10 - Band camp flute ensemble 7/23/10 - Band camp flute ensemble
7/23/10 - Band camp concert 7/23/10 - Band camp concert 7/23/10 - Band camp concert
Katherine played really well and had the only solo in the concert, a two-note ending to their ensemble piece. OK, so it's not huge, but at the same time still pretty darn cool.
The Band Camp made the Washington Post.
Since the younger kids and I were out with the boys' camp until noon, Katherine was in camp until 3 p.m. and Ian still did some work at home, after Civil War camp we spent some time bumming around Manassas. On Tuesday afternoon we did some mini-golfing.
7/20/10 - Mini golf 7/20/10 - Mini golf
The Magic Putting Place is in a parking lot on a little side road. Nothing impressive but the kids really enjoy it. With two courses of 18-holes each it's great on a cloudy day. My only issue didn't have anything to do with the course but with the busload of summer camp kids that descended on us. When we arrived we were the only group there. Another showed up maybe 20 minutes later, and then roughly 40 kids between 5 and 10 years old came on through like a tornado. They jumped from hole to hole both in front and behind us, tried to play holes we were still on, putted from starts and then pushed their balls into the holes (or some didn't even bother with that, just putted from the start then picked up their ball and moved on), picked up our balls and tried to walk off with them, rushed up behind us then told us to hurry up. All in all, annoying. It's like they hadn't been given any sort of guidelines for going into a public place and respecting the folks already there. Weird.
7/20/10 - Mini golf 7/20/10 - Mini golf
On Wednesday with no swim practice we went to Splashdown Waterpark only 2 miles down the road from Ben Lomond Manor House. It was a very very hot day, but at least Splashdown allows water, but no other outside food or drinks. I'm OK with that, really. Remember my whine about the Kastles match. A summer afternoon it was surprisingly not packed. I sat in a relatively shaded section and the kids played around, spending a lot of time in the Lazy River, but also taking on the water slides. Jacquelyn wasn't going to go on the slides, Rebecca bullied her into it. She had fun.
7/21/10 - Splashdown Lazy River 7/21/10 - Splashdown Lazy River
7/21/10 - Splashdown Lazy River 7/21/10 - Splashdown Lazy River
One of these things is not like the other. One of these things doesn't belong.
That would be Jonathon.
Thursday afternoon was finally Skate-n-Fun. The lighting was horrible and the kids wouldn't stop moving for two hours.
7/22/10 - Skate N Fun 7/22/10 - Skate N Fun
7/22/10 - Skate N Fun
And of course, with all this going on there was still Frogs practice in the evening. The girls and I had long mornings of shopping at Manassas Mall and after our activities and their yard work it was a battle each evening to get them to practice.
Frogs 2010 - In the pool for practice Frogs 2010 - In the pool for practice
Frogs 2010 - Don't ask, I don't know. Frogs 2010 - In the pool for practice
And though he's not in the pool, you gotta love this:
Frogs 2010 - There's something off when the boy needs a rubber band.
One evening swim practice was cut short as the sky quickly darkened. Becca and boys practice from 6-7:30 and Katherine swims from 7:30-9. At 7:15 the sky looked like a V invasion...
7/20/10 - Clouds roll in on swim practice
And at 7:25 the sky looked much more ominous:
7/20/10 - Clouds get uglier and storm cuts off the second half of practice
We packed up and by the time the doors on the van closed it was raining massive drops. No one was sad that practice was over. Going home early and getting some rest time was a treat this week.
Next week is looking a lot calmer. Maybe we'll go bowling.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kastles Tennis

While watching Wimbledon we saw ads for Kastles Tennis and World Team Tennis, neither of which we'd ever heard of before. From what we can tell, it's a laid back tennis league for pro players between times of serious tennis, like between Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. This year there are 11 teams that compete between July 5-25 and the franchises include Boston Lobsters, Delaware Smash, Kansas City Explorers, New York Buzz, New York Sportimes, Newport Beach Breakers, Philadelphia Freedoms, Sacramento Capitals, St. Louis Aces, Springfield Lasers and Washington Kastles. The rules are different and each match includes a set of men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles (in whatever order the coaches agree). Each game earns single points and there's a total tally at the end which works towards overall winner in the league season (Kastles won last year) in order to win this lovely prize:


Can you guess who a major sponsor of the tournament is?
Geico was a heavy supporter of the Kastles. Rebecca's embarrassed at being seen with the gecko. Jonathon's not embarrassed - proud to be a gecko.
"Top Spin" hung out with Ian for a bit before the Kastles team came out to the court.
Ian stayed away from geckos in favor of Top Spin the tennis ball. The present Kastles.
And then the tennis started. Up close and personal.
Bobby Reynolds in men's singles. The other guy, from the Boston Lobsters.
Leander Paes and Bobby Reynolds Leander Paes clearly misses Ready to serve
Mixed doubles.  They lost.  Oh well. Signing balls after mixed doubles with Victoria Azarenka
The coach challenges (a stuffed gecko attached to little parachutes tossed onto the court) and replays were cool to watch:
Was fun to see instant replays.
I don't have photos of the women's doubles or women's singles, because quite honestly, they just weren't that interested to watch, and the Kastles got blown out of the water. Kastles lost 5-0 in doubles, and 5-1 in singles.
We had good seats, it's hard not to in such a small venue and the tickets were only $15/each. They kill on food and drinks which I thought was really uncool in the crazy hot sticky temps. At $3-$4 per drink and seven people to keep hydrated with no outside drinks allowed.... yeah, add that up. Just for drinks and ices. Next time though, we'd like to be the people in these seats:
This is where we want to sit next time.
Between sets the cheerleaders came out, tshirts were tossed into the stands, burritos were tossed into the stands, a guy on stilts encouraged people to yell and cheer, music played. It was a lot like a minor league baseball game. After the match was done kids under 16 were encouraged to line up to get autographs and just as the tables were set up and the players sat down to start signing the clouds opened up in huge heavy drops. We were drenched within minutes but persevered and still got Leader Paes' autograph on tennis balls. I told him we'd seen him in Chennai in 2009. Ian got a fist pump. He is an awesome doubles player and enjoyable to watch and at events like these the players sort of linger among the crowd, chat fans up and are normal people. It's kind of cool.
Sopping wet we made it to the car and within minutes the rain had stopped. It was a late night, we didn't get home until 11 p.m., but it was so worth it. Hopefully next time we'll recognize a few more names.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Worn Out

Busy couple of day, and the heat is wearing us down.

We've taken it pretty easy this week. Jacquelyn is here so some shopping, some eating, some playing around is our daily routine. The park system closed the pool on Monday, so no swim practice. Only made it through 30 minutes of practice on Tuesday before thunder rolled and the clouds opened up. Wednesday, no practice, so the younger girls and I shopped for nearly 5 hours and returned home worn out. Ian was home so he took the boys to the lake for some swimming and fishing. Apparently the fish were biting so much that when Nicholas caught a little one he didn't have time to pull it out before a bigger fish came by and ate the little one off the hook. Sheesh. Thursday, finally a normal swim practice. Then Friday came.
Friday everyone dressed in their finest to go the Main State for the Foreign Service Youth Foundation awards ceremony. Every year there is an art contest, essay contest, KidVid contest, and community service award, along with recognition for the local kids who have a parent serving in an unaccompanied post. This year they added the Haitian UNICEF highest fundraisers. Jacquelyn was accepting the award for her brother who won 2nd place in the art contest for his age group. The topic this year: On the Move.
His art was on stage.
7/16/10 - Ian's artwork on stage.
Unfortunately the room is so dark and poorly lit, and I didn't bring my big lens, that all the photos were blurry. But the Benjamin Franklin room was a very pretty room.
7/16/10 - Seal on the ceiling. 7/16/10 - Katherine wants this in her room.
Jacquelyn sat up with the other award recipients. Very few were present for the ceremony, as is expected when submissions are sent from all over the world.
7/16/10 - Before the ceremony, a few words from the FSYF director. 7/16/10 - Darn photographer
7/16/10 - With awards 7/16/10 - Jacquelyn with her brother's awards
Some tasty treats before we checked out the rest of the floor and the view from the balcony.
7/16/10 - Chow down on cheese, crackers and cookies. 7/16/10 - On the 8th floor balcony
7/16/10 - Looking off the balcony. 7/16/10 - :)
The other rooms held such artifacts as Thomas Jefferson's desk and this unusual painting (not blurry in real life) of the Treaty of Paris. On the left, Americans. On the right, well, that's where the Brits were supposed to go but they wouldn't agree to be part of the portrait.
7/16/10 - On the 8th floor.
After all the pomp, we crossed the road to Ian's office building and changed clothes. He had a couple more hours of work to do the kids and I took off towards the Mall. First stop was the WWII Memorial, the first time I made it there. It was far too hot to do all the walking we did, so we took a breather at the fountains.
7/16/10 - Way too hot outside at the WWII Memorial 7/16/10 - Cooling off at the WWII Memorial
7/16/10 - Pretty day.  Hot day, but pretty. 7/16/10 - First time at the WWII Memorial
7/16/10 - Cooling off at the WWII Memorial - cell in hand at all times
I admit we cooled our feet in the cool water. I'm sure that's against the rules too, even though the signage only stated no wading or coin tossing. After the respite we made our way to the American History Museum with a stop for drinks along the way. Yeah, really really hot and muggy out. Some little guys hung out with us while we took (another) break in the shade.
7/16/10 - The boys would toss bits of leaves and grass, the birds flocked thinking "food" 7/16/10 - The white one cracked me up.
7/16/10 - Hiding among the leaves. 7/16/10 - Trying to cool off, the birds thought we had food.
We know they were just looking for a handout.
Finally, into the blessed cool of the museum. It wasn't long before Ian called and said he was ready to go, but we did get to visit the hands-on science and see Julia Child's kitchen. Rebecca and I enjoyed Julie&Julia so it was fun to check it out.
7/16/10 - Found C3PO at American History 7/16/10 - out Julia Child's kitchen at the American History.
7/16/10 - Hands-on science at American History. 7/16/10 - Hands-on science at American History.
And then back into the heat armed with lemon ices (and Gatorade... and a hot dog... and water).
7/16/10 - Taking on the town 7/16/10
So how obvious is it that my white balance is completely off??
7/16/10 7/16/10 - Trying to pull down the Monument.
That was our Friday in a nutshell.
Saturday morning - swim meet of course. The kids did great, I'll post their times in another entry. For now, I need to take a nap. The alarm went off at 5:15 a.m. and it was so very hot outside by mid-morning. Bring on the thunderstorms, we need them.