Saturday, November 19, 2011

Spelling Bee and other Good News

Grant with the Principal, Mrs. Marshall
Today was the 2nd Annual Harding Avenue Elementary School Spelling Bee. I'm the parent charge by virtue of having asked last year why we didn't have one. My youngest, Grant, had wanted to do one after seeing Akeelah and the Bee.

Grant, at just 9 years old, is driven, self-motivated, goal oriented, hard-working, and focused. (I can't imagine where he gets it?)  As parents, Robert and I try to be pretty low-key and low-pressure to try to offset highly focused kids.

At the school-level of the Scripps National Bee, children receive a list of words to study (try circumlocution or extemporaneous) and the bee is derived from that. Grant kept a list in the car, one at school, and one at home. He looked up online "how to prepare for a spelling bee" and discovered that exercise stimulates blood flow to the brain, so he practiced words while doing jumping jacks and burpees in his room. He said that blueberries are brain food so I indulged him with this out-of-season purchase.

When I watched the 4th grade bee, I had a pretty good sense of how Grant was feeling. I knew, thanks to my own racing, the pressure, the adrenalin, the desire to succeed. He was the defending 3rd grade champ and had invested considerable time working toward a good outcome.

I had done what I could to support him but to also let him know that I was SO proud of him simply for the way he approached his preparation. He had done everything he could reasonably do. It's 98% preparation but there's that 2% or so that is not always within your control.

While I was a judge for the other grade bees, for this, I was just a spectating parent.

What started with about 30 children, eventually whittled down to just two. I held my breath and with "gyromancy" it was over. Grant was a two-peater, the 4th grade Spelling Bee champion!!

I watched his elation and it was palpable. I knew he'd be riding that high for a while and I was so pleased for him to really know...what hard work can yield. 

Afterward he said that all morning, prior to the bee, he felt "like his life was on hold."  Thanks to triathlon and marathons, I knew exactly what he was talking about.

It's been a GREAT week for the Martins.  In addition to the Bee and Cortney's Marathon last week, Spencer came home with straight As on his report card. That's no small feat especially considering the rigor of his Algebra class (that he takes with 7th graders). Robert has been working incredibly hard and it's always a good week for him when the Hokies win!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A weekend in Richmond

We all enjoyed a weekend - more like 40 hours - in Richmond, Virginia's capitol. I (Cortney) was running my third Richmond Marathon so it was a nice chance to get away as a family!

The race was Saturday and I walked to the race with friends, giving Robert and the boys instructions to make the most of the day. I'd put together a list of museums and things to see in easy walking distance especially since many roads were closed for the race.

They ventured to the Capitol building for a tour and returned with the highest praise for the tourguide who told enthralling stories. Spencer is planning to apply to be a page for next year, which would have him living in Richmond for 45-60 days and assisting in the Capitol!

We met up after the race and enjoyed a nice German-style lunch at the Capitol Ale House. Then they went off to the Science Museum of Virginia while I rested up some. We finished off the day with a Thai dinner and an early night.

Sunday we returned home, but not without a detour to Gander Mountain to look at survival supplies for Grant and Dixie Caverns to check out rock and mineral specimens with Spencer!

It was a fun-filled weekend with gorgeous weather a nice race result too. I'm so thankful we were all there together!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Grant has been working on his fire starting skills -- a little scary for mom, but a good skill to have!! He's using a magnesium striker for it, and in the garage because it was a bit windy out.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


We enjoyed another Halloween with our great Luster's Mill tradition, pulling the kids around in the hay wagon as a group. It's nice that the kids here are all growing up together and sharing in these great neighborhood parties. We have some great party planners around here - the Wilsons, Hobarts, and Holbrooks. They do it up big with decorations and adult beverages and we are fortunate beneficiaries!

Spencer recycled his "absent-minded professor" costume from the play last summer and Grant went as a pumpkin -- a last minute change of plans. It was his idea (garnered from the trip to Deer Valley) to cut the bottom off and wear the pumpkin. It initially weighed 16 lbs, so he scraped and scraped and SCRAPED until he got that thing down to about 6 lbs. We added a little foam pad between his head and the squash and he was good to go. He even managed to navigate in the dark and not fall down!!