Friday, July 10, 2020

Homeschool Olympics

We've been holding our own little Summer Olympics this week, having spotlighted a few countries last week. We've read What Are the Summer Olympics?, have been researching Olympic heroes, and every day we've been competing in different Olympic events (in proxy for various countries).

Benjamin did so well on his Mozambique presentation that whenever the children pick countries to compete for, Alexander passionately begs for Mozambique. "Mo-am-beet! Mo-am-beet! I want to be Mo-am-beet!" So Mozambique shows up on our roster quite a lot. But we have a pretty good global representation, I think. This Olympics was very well attended.

On Monday we had a "Balance Board Yoga" competition, where we executed a series of yoga moves with increasing difficulty and rated each other's performance. If the pose was steady, full points were awarded. If it was wobbly, a half-point might be deducted from your score. If the board touched the floor, a full-point would be deducted. If a person lost their balance and fell on the ground they'd be lucky to score any points at all. Some judges were harsher than others. A few scores were contested.

We did mountain pose (1 point), tree pose (2 points), chair pose (3 points), dancer pose (4 points), airplane pose (5 points), and elephant breath (a "moving" pose for 6 points). Poses had to be held (or, in the case of elephant breath, maintained) for ten seconds.

I won, for Belgium, with a score of 19.5.** I also came in second for Mexico, with a score of 19. Miriam's two countries came in at a tie for third with 17 points (Denmark and Egypt).


On Tuesday the children did hurdles while I took a nap. They set a bunch of stools and boxes around the cul-de-sac and timed each other on how long it took them to run a lap, jumping over each of the items. Andrew and I looked out the window to check on them after I had gotten up. I said, "Are they still running hurdles?" He pulled the curtain aside and said, "No. They're all standing in a line watching Alexander do something."

"No," I said. "They're all standing in a line, listening to the national anthem of the winning team."

Because that's what you do in the Olympics.

Anyway, Pakistan (Rachel) won with a time of 12.53; then Russia (also Rachel) with a time of 13.53; then Thailand (Miriam) with a time of 13.58.

Obviously these Olympics aren't very fair to the smaller people in the family, but don't tell them that because they're having a wonderful time competing (and everyone's a winner in my book).

Yesterday we ran out of time to do they Olympics before it started raining so we did two events today: cornhole and long jump.

Alexander was very excited for cornhole. He ran around saying, "Dinnertime! I love corn!"

"We're not having corn," Rachel told him. "We're playing cornhole. That game where you throw beanbags into the board with the hole, remember? Not the game where you put corn in your pie hole."

"Pie!!!" Alexander said.

Perhaps we should have given him a snack. Instead we took him outside and picked teams for cornhole. Zoë likes to pick the z-countries, like Zambia or New Zealand, Venezuela or Tanzania. Alexander likes to pick Mozambique (so sometimes they fight over whether Zoë should get to be this country because of the Z, or if Alexander should get to be this country because Mo-am-beet!).

Anyway, we did a little cornhole toss off (we didn't quite play cornhole) and Benjamin came out on top as our winner—for Sweden. He would take all his beanbags and chuck them at once. They would usually go in. The rest of us threw our beanbags one at a time (like cowards) and they would sometimes go in. I, actually, was tied for second and third place so I had Rachel and Miriam do the final throw for me against Benjamin. Rachel ended up getting second place (for me and Oman) and Miriam ended up getting third place (for me and Venezuela).

We listened to Sweden's national anthem and then set up for long jump. We ran across our driveway, leaped over the rock barrier between our driveway and our lawn, and landed in the grass. I won this event, but really I felt like we should perhaps divide our lengths-jumped by our heights or something to make it fair. In the end we were too mathematically lazy, so we just measured with a tape measure and called it good.

The little kids don't care about losing yet, anyway (and Benjamin had already won once that day so he was at an emotional high).

I jumped 256 cm for Afghanistan (that's 8.39 feet).* Then I jumped 226 cm for Ethiopia (that's 7.41 feet). Rachel jumped 222 cm for Kazakhstan (7.28 feet). Her other jump (for Bhutan) was 198 cm. Miriam jumped 156 for Finland and 184 for China. Benjamin jumped 155 for Jamaica and 145 for Iceland. Zoë did a tiny leap over the rocks and Alexander did a very careful step over the rocks (he's just barely mastered jumping in place) so we gave them a score of 50 for each jump.

We rather enjoyed listening to Afghanistan's national anthem. We read the translation while listening to it in Pashto.

This land is Afghanistan,
it is the pride of every Afghan
The land of peace, the land of sword,
each of its sons is brave

A fine first verse. A little paradoxical with the land of peace/sword. But fine. The next several verses give a little shout out to the many people who call Afghanistan home and we all thought it was such a lovely gesture:

This is the country of every tribe,
The land of Balochs and Uzbeks
Pashtuns and Hazaras,
Turkmens and Tajiks

With them, there are Arabs and Gujjars,
Pamiris, Nuristanis
Brahuis, and Qizilbash,
also Aimaqs and Pashais

Then there was this beautiful verse:

This land will shine for ever,
like the sun in the blue sky
In the chest of Asia,
it will remain as heart for ever

And then this was the only other verse that I recognized any words in, aside from calling out a few tribe names (and that's because it's partly in Arabic):

We will follow the one God
We all say, "Allah is the greatest!",
we all say, "Allah is the greatest!",
we all say, "Allah is the greatest!"

As far as national anthems go, this one was, in our opinion, inclusive and beautiful. It was written by Abdul Bari Jahani in 2006 and I hope it brings Afghanistan the unity and peace they're looking for.

Tomorrow we'll do the last event in our little pentathlon. I don't know what it will be yet; depends on rain and things like that. Perhaps we'll keep competing next week; who knows...

(This whole week has reminded me of my childhood because my brother David used to organize Olympic Games for us to play on Olympic years. We had a special "living room hockey" game that we'd play (did you know about that, Mom?) where we'd have to be kneeling down the whole time, guarding our goals (made with stacks of books), wapping a soft baby-ball back and forth, trying to score points on one another. We also competed in ping-pong and trampoline flips and street hockey and basketball and all sort of things, all in proxy for various countries of the world).

* And I kind of hurt my foot on the landing, but I think it's okay now, thank goodness. I was feeling pretty good** about clearing 8 feet until I checked the world record and saw that it was also 8...but in metres. Not that I imagined I was close to a world record. But—excuse me—8 metres?! How?

** When I told Andrew that I won the balance board competition he said, "Congratulations in beating a bunch of small children in a feat of strength." I told him that our older children are basically people now and thus are actually pretty stiff competition, thankyouverymuch. And then we made him give our yoga sequence a shot (for Italy; sorry, Italy) during FHE and he did abysmally. Like, honestly, Alexander did better. We probably judged Alexander a little more generously than anyone else, it's true, but we weren't particularly harsh on Andrew (in fact, we were probably a little too generous). So I beat a bunch of small children and some human-sized children*** and my big, strong husband in the balance board competition!

*** When we ask Alexander what he is, he will usually say, "Alexander." If we press him, he will say, "Tiny Boy." If we really press him and say something like, "No, what animal?" he will get all flustered and say, "I'm ju[s]t a hooman!"

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