Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Michael Phelps and Magical Tootsie Roll Pops

These past few days:

Beijing Olympics! Whooo! The opening ceremony was breathtaking and Michael Phelps is a FISH! A really cute fish who Hulks out with that sculpted body of his as he roars his triumph. So intimidatingly adorable.

(Photo credit: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Phelps' natural ability to flush out those lactic acid within minutes plus his wide wingspan apparently makes him the perfect swimmer. He just glides through the water and can literally be halfway across the pool while the others straggle behind him; he gave such a great lead, the last anchor on his 4x200m freestyle relay team could actually pass the others coming toward him as he was heading back haha.

SKoW! Results are out and I wanted to thank those of you who took the time to vote for me. I'm actually still checking out some stories on their nominees list because they've highlighted a lot of interesting new writings, but I thought I should drop a note first and foremost to thank you all for your votes and support! I was awarded Amazing Wordsmith and Unfinished Business won the Most Humorous category. Wow. You guys are the best. There's a new pretty layout on SKoW and there are also these amazing graphics for the winners, which I'll post up in a later post because some of them aren't working yet. The designer, Leila, really outdone herself this time because they're really stunning and oh so cute.

It almost makes me want to look into graphics tutorials. Except knowing me, I'd obsess over it for maybe two hours and then throw in the towel with a completed image of a stick figure with a red dot on its nose to represent a clown. Or Rudolph.

SAT Coaching! Yesterday was my last session with my high school kids that I'm coaching/tutoring for their SATs. It's a nation wide program with different chapters in different cities and its mission is to provide SAT and college application support for those who are underprivileged and want the extra help. I volunteered to be a verbal coach because I've always enjoyed the verbal part and I despise math with a passion that will scare small children.

When the site director came in and made a speech about how kids in the program usually went down for their second diagnostic SAT since they didn't get a chance to practice their newly learned techniques yet, I just groaned, "Oh god, he's throwing in a disclaimer. Your SAT scores all plummeted. Forgive me, I'm a horrible coach."

Except it turns out the director has to make the same spiel to every group and my kids's scores actually all increased ... well, their verbal parts at least. But I'm only responsible for their verbal sections; we can blame the math coaches. It was a proud parental moment. Two of my girls actually went up 300 points on their SATs! When the director came back all grinning and beaming and saying that my group had the most improvement, I was momentarily stunned and just blurted out, "Why?"

"Because you're a good coach?"

I turned to give my kids a suspicious look. I suppose that wasn't a very good reaction.

My kids laughed their heads off. "You have no faith in us! We showed you! See!" They kept grinning and smirking with such satisfaction and were like "This is the highest I've ever gotten. I can't even believe it myself."

Then they started with the "Thanks, Helen!"

Big goofy grin. I had a funny combo of being both dazed and proud and self-conscious at the same time.

But seriously, I had this bad feeling in my stomach the last two sessions because I was afraid I hadn't emphasized certain points enough. It felt like I coordinated a whole lot of their favorite vocabulary games ... and then brushed over general points regarding writing and critical reading. Some of them didn't even do their homework nor did they bring in their personal statements for me sometimes. I was terrified they were going to be disappointed by their grades.

But! They're so awesome.

Or, as they wondered, "It could be the Tootsie Roll lollipops you bring us. They're magic."

I'm gonna miss them. They were such an amazing group and they really meshed well. We had our quiet members and the talkative ones and somehow, they all ended up being very sociable yet diligent (most of the time) kids. It's lovely to see their hard work get paid off. Now if only they can keep up their practice when I'm not around to glare them down ...

Writings. In response to Through Me questions about who the heck is Calhoun (a.k.a. Cal), he's Justin's friend and he was first introduced in the gym scene in Chapter Fourteen.

I'm currently working on the next chapters for Through Me and Unfinished Business. It's a toss up between them both right now and I've been flashing back and forth between both documents.

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