Everyone in the Lag Liv family had a performance or two this week! It started with Landon and the spelling bee. His school recently started participating in the Scripps National Spelling Bee contest. Eligibility starts in 2nd grade and Landon came home a few weeks ago letting us know he'd made it, handing over a packet of words for us to study and an invitation to come to the big bee and reception on Dec. 16.
We are terrible about doing much of anything outside of school and are blessed with kid who pretty much lets us forget homework exists, but we did try with the spelling words- having him spell 15 or so, 3-4 nights a week. We made it through about a third of the packet and considered it a job well done until we showed up at the Bee with 500 seats filled in the auditorium and little Landon sitting on the stage, one of only 4 second graders, and I wished we'd done more, just to make sure he could make it through a round or two. But, he did so great!!
34 kids in the school made it into the Bee and he was the last 2nd grader standing, and ultimately the 9th-to-last person standing! I thought I would burst. He's a sweet, fun, active, affectionate, awesome kid, but I've never been more proud of him than when he walked up to the microphone and calmly spelled out each of his words through seven rounds. That was a huge room full of a lot of people and when he got out he high-fived his best friend who had gone out a few rounds prior, sat in his seat, and whispered to us "can we start practicing now for next year?".
And the whole thing was just so earnest and adorable. All the classes for grades 2-5 were there and those kids were silent. You could hear a pin drop. And by the end, they were literally on the edges of their seats for their classmates. When the little bell would ding to let them know of a spelling error, they'd all gasp and groan, and I just think it's awesome when academics gets to be the star for an hour or two. Last year the classes didn't attend the Bee- it was just the parents and supporters, and I really think it's going to make a big difference going into next year. The winner was a 5th grade girl, with a 3rd grade girl as runner up, and together they'll head to the regional competition in February. Every one of the kids did awesome- no one seemed nervous, though I'm sure they were, and I kept tearing up during the whole thing. Elementary schools are my favorite places on earth, I can't help it.
On Friday James got up at 4:30 a.m. to go compete in a Pro-Am meet north of Dallas. He said he's been going some of his best splits of his life in practice and really wanted a chance to race. He was outraged at the price of his racing suit ($150; he hasn't paid for one himself since before he made his first Nationals in high school), but excited to wear his Fike Swim Products cap (hot off the presses!) and compete. Unfortunately he had to use his college times, so he was seeded super high which made him nervous, but he did great! I wish we could have seen him. He finaled in his 100 fly and 200 free, but scratched to come home and teach lessons and attend Cora's holiday program.
Today he's doing the 200 IM and 50 free and is planning to stay for finals if he makes it. We'd go watch (a true testament of my love; driving to Dallas is the worst, except for driving north of Dallas which is even worser), but my sister and her husband are stopping through on their way to Houston for Christmas and I need to be here to greet them with Jambalaya and excited children. But go James! For a 34-year-old dad of 3 with two businesses, including one that is launching a European distribution center/website on Monday, a project that kept him up till midnight every night this week working out shipping kinks to all the various EU countries, that's pretty spectacular. He also got to see a lot of familiar faces around the deck which is fun. He doesn't go home or have high school reunions, but he has swimming, and I think that is its own reunion every time he steps on the deck. He told me he recognized the announcer's voice and went over and sure enough, it was the guy who announced all the big national meets- he remembered James and they got to chat and it made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Those are his people. I'm glad he's spending some time with them today.
Also on Friday, I signed up to the a PJ Reading Day reader for both kids' classes! It was super cute and fun. I chose Christmas Delicious, a Lag Liv family favorite, and successfully read the book while holding it sideways (my personal performance of the week). The second graders were maybe my favorite. They're old enough to sit still and really listen to the intricacies of the story about two mice and their Christmas feast, but young enough to still be so genuinely thrilled at the idea of a parent in their room reading them a story. Several remembered me from career day and at the end a little girl tapped my shoulder and said "I really love your hair." I love them all. The Kindergartners were also awesome, but you can tell they're still getting used to this whole being in school thing. There was a lot of rolling on the floor, which is fine - it's the last day before Christmas, they'd had parents in and out all day, and were about to have a Christmas party, but the strides those kiddos make between K and 2 was a pretty impressive thing. Go teachers.
Claire of course was THRILLED to have me in her classroom. She grabbed a chair and put it next to me "so I can give you a hug the WHOLE TIME" and grinned until her tiny cheeks hurt. I think we could tell Claire that being a Kindergartner is her Christmas present and she'd be pretty cool with it.
And finally, CORA had a performance Friday night too! Her daycare program's Christmas Pageant kicked off with the toddlers ringing a bell and singing ("singing") Jingle Bells in English and Spanish and reciting a little poem. I ended up having her stay at school until the performance because there was no way in hell she was going to let me pick her up and then deposit her back in her classroom 30 minutes later. She loves school, but once she has me, she pretty much cries anytime we are more than 4 inches apart. So I got to the pageant early and hid in the far corner, with James and the kids sitting in a middle row, also hiding.
(Side story: we spent a week convincing Cora to wear her jacket and now she will ONLY wear her jacket - eating, napping, playing, whatever- that jacket must be ON. She sobs immediately at any suggestions otherwise, which is why she's wearing her pink elephant jacket on top of her thematic and adorable Santa sweatshirt.)
But she came out with her toddler friends, jangled her little jingle bell, and when she finally spotted us, rather than sobbing and throwing herself off the stage as I 100% expected, she got a huge grin and jangled all the more. I was shocked. It was the toddler equivalent of winning the spelling bee.
I'm off to teach barre, but I hope you all are having a lovely holiday season and enjoying a few performances of your own!
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