This second decade is certainly getting off to a slow start.
In my second-to-last post--from a week and a half ago already!--I celebrated the accomplishment of one entire decade of blogging, then looked forward with anticipation to the next. And then I went silent, except for one short little post, for eleven days, which is not my usual modus operandi.
The first three days of my absence here can be attributed to the speech and debate tournament Josiah participated in, mentioned briefly in this post. The hours were long, and the pace was grueling, leaving little time for extras; and so blogging fell to the wayside.
After that, I could have blogged, but didn't, finding some reason each night to put off for another day this glimpse into our life during the tournament--or any other blog post, for that matter. I could blame part of that on continued fatigue as I tried to catch up from the exhaustion of the tournament, but in reality, I was probably just enjoying the break. ;-)
You see, while I was at the speech and debate tournament, I felt like I was living in a parallel universe, only vaguely aware of what was happening outside the walls of our tournament location. I would hop onto Facebook to post a picture, for example, and would see what other people were posting about life in the real world--but only as if I were looking through a fog. I would think of someone--a mission team from our church, for instance, who was returning from India--and would take a moment to pray for them before all my focus returned to the world I was existing in. I even realized with a jolt on Friday morning, January 20, that we had a new President. Unlike previous years, I didn't watch even a minute of the inauguration or any of the hoopla surrounding it. The world went along just fine on the outside, but I only paid attention to what was happening on the inside, in the immediate vicinity around me.
When the tournament was over, I was ready to return to real life; but in the meantime, I had learned something: I'm happier when I spend less time on Facebook, and I'm definitely more peaceful if I pay less attention to politics.
I'm not advocating the head-in-the-sand approach to everyone, because I believe some people are called to use their voice to try to influence others in the public realm--whether that be in a legislative body or simply through social media. But I've been so disgusted by politics during the past year or two that my absence from that realm now has brought about a reduction in my blood pressure, I'm sure! ;-)
So, what was life like in that parallel universe that existed for three and a half days? I'll tell you, and intersperse the telling between pictures I randomly snapped on my cell phone during the tournament.
For Benjamin, the tournament meant new territory to explore, new floors to crawl on, new people to smile at, and generally a grand adventure. Since it was held in Fishersville, I had to wake him up each morning about 5:45 a.m. so that we could leave here shortly after 6:00 a.m. (on the mornings we needed to go by Strite's Donuts on our way to pick up the donuts they were generously donating for judge hospitality) or 6:30 a.m. (on the morning we could go directly to the tournament). That is not his usual wake-up time, but he didn't complain. In fact, the last morning, as we were driving south, all the occupants of our van were fairly silent, either veering towards the realm of Slightly Grumpy or teetering on the edge of Half Asleep. But not Benjamin. He was happily doing his version of "singing," not bothered at all by the fact that the sun hadn't even come up yet when we had to pull him out of his warm, cozy bed! By the way, on Thursday morning as we traveled south, we saw a gorgeous sunrise. We kept watching it and watching it and really soaked in the beauty of that splendid sight. I thought, "Wow! If we hadn't had to get up so early, we would have missed this! I'm sure glad we got to see it." But, sad to say, that thought hasn't convinced me to get up that early the mornings since the tournament, just to see if another beautiful sunrise might be happening! ;-)
Moriah spent quite a bit of time playing with the activities we had brought along, especially coloring books and notebook paper. She does love to draw! Besides that, she sometimes helped with Benjamin--like giving him pieces of food when he was sitting in his stroller and I needed to help with other things--and also enjoyed running up and down a sidewalk area between two buildings. An occasional break to get some fresh air and stretch her legs did wonders, when the prolonged inside time was getting to be too much. When we were outside together, she would sometimes wonder what to do, and I would ask her to count the blocks in the sidewalk or some such thing, and she would do so happily, giving me time one day to actually have a sort-of-extended conversation with an NCFCA mom that I had not met before! :) The other thing that was special for Moriah during these days was that occasionally one of the moms who was helping with food would have a job for Moriah to do--like helping Linda S. roll a cart downstairs to get some supplies from Linda B. or helping Patti put out bags of chips on a tray (as can be seen in a picture later in this post). I was SO grateful for the way they included her and made her feel important. :) Their kindness touched my heart and brought delight to Moriah's soul!
Here Shav describes one of his creations. :)
One of the competitors even paused to play a game with Tobin and Shav one day. :)
...and he loved pushing this little car along. It makes a satisfying click-click-click as it goes along, and it has an easy-to-hold handle. Perfect for Benjamin's stage of life. :)
I know the names on this list don't mean anything to my blog readers, but I'm including it here for memory's sake. These other competitors are very experienced and very accomplished, and to see Josiah listed with this group was thrilling. :)
Sort of to my surprise, I've discovered that I do, too. Before the tournament, I was confessing to another mom that I kind of have a love-hate relationship with NCFCA. I love what it stands for, how it's run, and what kind of fruit it's producing in Josiah's life; but it is a sacrifice to take him to club meetings, to help him prepare here at home, and to be involved in tournaments. The other mom knew exactly what I was talking about.
But then, this tournament began; and whereas last year I was just struggling to keep my head above water and was totally overwhelmed by the tournament, NCFCA, and life in general, this year I thoroughly enjoyed the tournament and discovered, to my shock, that I really love judging! :) I didn't get to judge any rounds last year--Benjamin was a nursing baby, and that isn't conducive to being a judge. But this year, on Thursday and Friday after Jeff took the little ones home, I was able to judge two rounds on each day, and had so much fun doing that. Previously, I had been very intimidated by the thought of judging; but as I began to do it, although I sometimes wished I could give everyone first place because they were all SO GOOD, I found out that it was heaps of fun. The tournament was so much more enjoyable when I could be involved in it, too--involved beyond the basic level of showing-up that I did last year.
Last year, I rather reluctantly tiptoed into the world of speech and debate. This year, I realized that I'm in.
I'm all in.
How soon can we go to another tournament? :)