Monday, June 30, 2008

competition: I need a wacko-skating mom repellent

Ice Girl is new to figure skating. Well, she had taken Learn to Skate before, but in November of 2007 she was in Basic 3. Now, eight months later, she's in *gulp* Freestyle 4.
Yeah, yeah. Go, Ice Girl.
I'm a terrible mom, but her advancement is a double-edged sword: every time she leaps up several levels in one go, it means less and less Learn to Skate. LtS is a great scheme, but that's for another post.
Ice Girl had a Basic Skills competition in Rockford, Ill. on Sunday. As I said, she's new to figure skating and still pretty low level. Well, at least she was. Is. For now. *sigh*
Anyway, when we signed her up for this competition, she had just finished Basic 5. So, we signed her up to compete at Basic 6. Who knew that she'd fly up so many levels by competiton time?
Ice Girl is 12, which is pretty late to be beginning in figure skating. It's not ancient, but it's a bit late. Ice Girl has competed with kids her own age, but this group was pretty tiny. Most were 6 or 7 years old.
Ice Girl placed first in the compulsory (yay) and another competitor's mom asked me how old Ice Girl is. I told her: 12. Here's what she said:
"How can a 7-year-old compete against a 12-year-old?"
"Steriods?" I suggested before I could filter myself.
She didn't get the joke, so I just left it. But this mom started showing me records she's kept of all the girls her daughter has competed against. Some were older, some were younger, but this was, um, Basic Skills. Who keeps records like that?
Later Ice Girl also won the freestyle.
The no-sense-of-humor mom was back. She told me that I should move Ice Girl up because it just wasn't fair to the other girls.
I thought I'd have to hold Ice Girl's coach back: she's short, but surprisingly firey.
Later Ice Coach told me that the reason Ice Girl won was that no one can keep skates off that kid. She practices. We have ice time. She PIC skates. She runs through her programs in the living room. Ice Girl's got it bad. Oh, and Ice Girl loves, loves, loves the hardware (medals).
It's one thing to have kids compete at different age levels, say, in math. This wasn't math, though. This was a skill that Ice Girl has picked up in eight months. Yeah, she's older than the other girls, but they had essentially the same training, right?
Anyway, I'm thinking that I need to go into business for myself. I'm going to develop a spray for parents like these. Some sort of repellent that I can either spray on myself like Off! or Skin So Soft or that I can use like a one-shot deal. Just spray it at the nutty parent and have a peaceful competition.
I think there's a market out there, don't you? :)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sewing: pattern review, fabric tip, cheap crystals

I'm finishing up Ice Girl's latest competition dress. It's KwikSew's 2796 and it was very, very easy to sew.

Ice Girl's measurements are very close to size small and I'd made KwikSew size smalls this spring with good luck. This dress, though, is pretty tight on her (the ones from this spring are still fine). Next time I'll make the medium.

I bought the salmon-colored two-way stretch fabric with an iridescent sheen on clearance, but it wasn't really a bargain. The fabric is very light and nearly see-through, so I had to line the whole thing with swimsuit lining fabric. It wasn't hard, but it was a pain.

I really liked how the straps and the binding went on the bodice. It was sensible, easy, and it looks good. I used a rolled hem on my serger for the bottom hem and it turned out better than I thought it would.
The real bargain was the beads that Ice Girl and I are putting on the dress. They're not Swarovski, they're cheap ones from JoAnn fabrics. JoAnn sells them in assorted packs of 300 each: 3, 4, and 5 mm clear crystals. Normally, JoAnn charges about $13 for a package, but I was able to find a bunch of 50% off coupons, so that dress is decked out in crystals.
Sewing Review: I'd buy the KwikSew pattern #2796 again, even though it's a bit small. The binding around the bodice would look good in a contrast fabric; in fact, Ice Girl and I think that the next dress will have a white bodice, a royal blue skirt and leotard panties, and royal blue binding for the armholes, neckline, and straps.
I'd also buy the cheap crystals again. When I really let the glue bubble on the hot fix tool, those suckers are on there for good.
I'm going to be careful about clearance fabric in the future. Lining the whole outfit is good, but I spent just as much on the fabric in the end and more time on the outfit than I should have done.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

parenting: diva control

Up until June, Ice Girl had been a joy to be around. She loved ice, loved figure skating, loved the cute little skirts. She loved jumping, spinning, and even falling on her rear end.

June is diva month.

Ice Girl had 6 a.m. ice at a different rink on June 3. She went to bed early the night before and got up late the morning of. She dragged her feet, grumped, and sulked.

"Are you sure you want to go?" I asked. "We can just stay home." I thought maybe I could go back to bed and get some more sleep.

Tears welled in Ice Girl's eyes. "No, Momma. I want to go."

So, we drove thirty minutes south to a rink we'd never been to before. Six a.m. ice in our home rink is empty. Ice Girl loves empty ice.

However, at this rink, people show up for 6 a.m. ice. Oh, and it is the coldest rink I'd ever been in - even colder than the Pettit when the big speed skating track is icy (it's melted in the summer).

You should have seen Ice Girl. She was incensed that other people were on the ice at this time and annoyed with the cold. She couldn't get her skates on properly and grouched. I went into the lobby to sit with normal people. A few minutes later, my daughter shows up with red-rimmed eyes and street shoes. "I want to go home," she said.

"O.K.," I replied. I don't want to be one of those moms who forces her crying kid out on the ice.

However, I don't want to be the mom who wakes up at 4:45 to drive 30 minutes, puts up with a diva, turns around, and drives home. Oh, yeah. Then goes to work.

"No, Momma. This will never happen again. I'm just tired and it's cold and it's crowded."

It wasn't crowded, but I didn't make a big deal of it. She'd never, ever done this before. I cut her some slack.

Two weeks later, the diva made an encore performance.

This time we had a tough discussion in the van. Ice time is expensive: $11/hour. If we contract, but don't go to the session, that money is lost. I'm not going to be the mom who forces her kid to skate. But I'm also not going to be the mom who throws money away.

Parenting lesson: Set expectations for both skater and parent. Ice Girl and I sat down with the July contract. We selected dates and times and e-mailed her coach. I promise to pay for the ice, arrange to leave work, and drive Ice Girl to the rink.

Ice Girl promises to bring her figure skates and leave the tiara at home.

If Ice Girl turns into Ice Diva, we contract for less ice time the next month, based on the ice time lost at the rink and lost drive time.

I'll let you know if the Diva shows up...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

newbie: Figure skating fight songs

I’m sure you have this type of parent in your club: the kind who should come with his own theme song. Maybe it’s “Send in the Clowns” or “Rocky.”

But maybe…it’s “Jaws,” or worse, “Psycho.”

Yeah. You know that person, too?

I went with Ice Girl to the Pettit Ice Arena in Milwaukee last weekend and I began talking to this gal from Milw. She asked what my home club was and I told her. After a few minutes of ice mom talk, she launched into a rant.

It turns out she knows “Psycho,” too.

I’m 90 miles away from home and this person has managed to tick off members of another club! And from what she was saying, “Psycho” ticked off large portions of the figure skating community from around Wis. and Northern Illinois.

She finally wound down her tirade with an unflattering physical comment about “Psycho.”

When the rant was over, all I could say was, “Wow,” and “Um…”

Newbie lesson #1: pick your own theme song and make sure it’s not the soundtrack from a horror movie.
Newbie lesson #2: Realize that figure skating’s theme song could be “It’s a Small World after All," or "I Heard It through the Grapevine."