Iowa Hosts Better Youth Tennis Tournaments

[The title above is just for an eye-catcher. Nothing against other states]

Last month, our daughter Davi participated in two tennis tournaments. ‘IA Ames Tennis Academy Junior Open’ in Ames on Nov 6-8, 2009 and ‘IA Drake/Ames Tennis Academy Winter Invitational’ in Des Moines on Nov 20-22, 2009. These events were Davi’s 5th and 6th tournament since she started doing tournaments this summer.

Unlike her first one, ‘Omaha Quickstart 8 & 10 & under Tournament’ in Omaha, NE, these two were more organized; especially for the Girls’ 10 Singles age group. They even ordered pizza for everybody. Kudos to Ames Tennis’ director, Ryan Roeth.

The officials in Omaha were not in unison about the set up for the match at all. My daughter ended up playing more sets compared to other players at the other courts. The line referrees were somewhat passive on helping the players keep score, thus encouraging some players to cheat. One young girl who was Davi’s line referree tried to ‘warn’ Davi’s opponent in the final not to call it out so many times when it was clearly in.

The parents were also nicer here. Nobody lied to me about the number of tournaments their kids’ had done. The mother of Cari Naanep, a very talented 8 year old girl who beat Davi in the Girls 10 Singles (IA Ames Tennis Academy Junior Open) semifinal was very kind and supportive. She told me that Davi was very good for her age and not to give up on doing tournaments. She even offered me her phone number if Davi would like to play double with Cari. This kind of encouragement from the parent of a successful player, is rare.

Davi played in two age groups in both tournaments, Co-ed 8 Singles (meaning she’ll play both girls and boys) and Girls’ 10 Singles. She managed to be the runner up for the Co-ed 8 Singles in both tournaments (there were 14 players in Ames’ tournament and 10 in Des Moines’ tournament which she played against boys in all four matches); and won the Girls’ 10 Singles title for the Des Moines’ tournament.

Click here to see the photo montage of ‘IA AMes Tennis Academy Junior Open’.

Click here to see the photo montage of ‘IA Drake/Ames Tennis Academy Winter Invitational’.

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[Scary] Dreams Do Come True

I apologize for not updating my blog recently. A quick recap about our life recently: Halloween (our first involvement as a family, because us adults like to play too; can’t let the kids have all the fun now, can we?), Davi’s 5th tennis tournament (with a very awkward moment when one of the players threw a temper tantrum), and a surprised trip to Orlando, FL (space shuttle is so cool!).

Let’s start with Halloween story. This year it’s particularly busy for us because of the number of parties and events. We decided this year that the adults are going to partake in the fun and craziness of Halloween. We got a pair of made-to-order ‘devil masks’ with silicone material. His mask is so scary and devilish, earning him the nick name ‘Satan’ and ‘Lucifer’. Mine, although scary also, but it’s more ‘cute-alien-look’ scary. We wore the masks to go to a custome party on 10/23 with our kids who were dressing up as a cop and a hippy chick.

About a month before Halloween, hubby told me that it has been his childhood dream to have a haunted garage. “Now that I have the money to achieve that, could we please do it?” What wife could say ‘no’ in this situation? The mother in me could not crush someone’s childhood dream, especially my husband’s.

So his research (and online ordering) started about a month before H-day. He got the props and electronic stuff mostly from eBay. After the 7th big box shipment to our home, I finally asked, “Honey, how much more is coming?”

“A lot.”

“How much is ‘a lot’? I guess when you said let’s do something fun for Halloween in the garage, I thought it only be a couple of hundred dollars.”

“I don’t think you’ d want to know.”

“Three hundreds? Five? Six? Do I need to worry.”

“Don’t worry, hun. I budgeted everything.”

Oh dear

I have to give him the credit, though. He prepared the garage all by himself, with a help of his two buddies. They made this entry way which replaced the one-car garage door from styrofoam material. They cut it, shaped it, grooved it, painted it, and decorated it so it looked like a stone black brick wall with skulls on the archway. They made a square hole with bars over it for the TV. We had the TV hooked with a DVD player which played haunting DVD, ordered also from eBay -bunch of different scary people in the dark looking up, down, and staring at you; giving an eerie feeling that there’s somebody psycho behind the bars waiting for you.

Inside the garage, hubby made a ‘maze’ for people to walk around and got scared by different props (I was one of the props). He attached some railings on the ceiling and hung tarps from it, creating the ‘maze’. In the middle of the garage, in a closed area, is the ‘control room’. Hubby had placed his customized computer from his office in the basement along with two amps. In this cramped and tiny ‘control room’, wires and cables were everywhere, so he won’t let anybody in there but him.

He stayed up late a lot to get the haunted garage ready. Even took a week off work, a week before H-day. We only inform close friends about this and did not make any public announcements at all, because he did not think it’d be ready by then. But by mid afternoon on Halloween day, he announced that everything is done and ready to go. So in about a couple of hours before Trick-or-Treating started (5:30 pm in our town), we put up a sign that our haunted garage is open around 8:30-10:00 am for age 8 and older. We had approximately 30++ people showed up. I didn’t know that scaring people would be so fun!

Since then, we heard from friends that our haunted garage was being mentioned a lot. So I guess hubby’s childhood dream was a success and more likely to be continued next year with a different props and tricks!

Too Sensitive to Criticize

I used to hate being criticized. Heck, who does? Even if the criticism wasn’t adress personally to me, let’s say to my country from somebody abroad (Indonesians or foreigners), my first reaction would be, “Well, your country is bad too!”, stomped my foot, pout, and cross my hands against my chest; instead of acknowledging the facts and accepted it.

It took a question like this to made me stop and think, “Why are [some]Indonesians so sensitive (and couldn’t take criticism)? Is it because you guys were oppressed too long under Suharto?” I do remember, back then, if you dare criticize him or his family or even somebody in his cabinet, either you’d vanish from the surface of the earth or some other consequences with the same level of threat. So yeah… probably our skin got too thin to be criticized.

Having moved to a different country with more openness, which in this case happens to be United States (yeah… yeah… I could hear those cynicals saying, “Sure… praise the US… hate your country… etc etc”), I was ‘forced’ to adapt better to criticism. My face still got red, but I don’t stomp my foot and pout anymore. I mean, if somebody told me I made a mistake or point out my weakness, that would mean that person does care and it’s for my own betterment.

It saddens me to see how unacceptable some people back home are to criticisms. I made a comment on a friend’s status in Facebook -“… nggak heran Indonesia dilabeli ‘negara teroris’ or ‘no wonder Indonesia is labeled as terrorist country…”- which had turned into a circle of stomping foot and pouting. From that short statement only, one could understand that was not the one that come up out of nowhere and be the first to call her that. It was an observation. Instead of seeing it as a healthy way of looking at problems, they foresee the criticism as mengorek luka lama or to pick on old wounds.

It is a fact that Indonesia is being called by the international media as a terrorist country. It is hurtful to me too. So what? Somebody started to bombarded me with, “Do you know that the country you live in has this and that not to mention this and that [and the list goes on].” Yeah… again… so what? The US does have terrorism too. It’s a public knowledge. Is it really that taboo to mention something that’s a public knowledge to Indonesians? These guys got so angry, sensitive like PMS women and started calling me names. ‘Pathetic‘ was among ‘the bitch who forgot about her home country’.

Is it because it’s a very delicate mater, religious, or more spesifically, Islam? Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her book ‘Infidel: My Life’  is right then, the major problem with Islam and its followers is THEY DON’T THINK THERE IS A PROBLEM.  I was going to quote the famous Ms. Rima Fauzi, but I couldn’t search that particular post in her website. Similar post written by Fitri Mohan is here.

A wise man once said to me, “If you can’t take criticism, go live in a cave. Or better yet, grow a thicker skin!”

To Snort Or Not To Snort (the H1N1 Mist)

Last Sunday, I went ahead to get the H1N1 (novel influenza A) flu mist. Our local hospital was giving it to people who have ‘direct patient care’. Meaning healthcare workers like me who are 3-6 ft away of patients suspected with influenza-like illness. To be honest, I was having a dilemma about this. I wasn’t sure if this is ‘safe’ or not. To snort a live virus was not my favorite thing in the world, but if it could protect me from getting the H1N1 (also known as the swine flu or flu babi, as Indonesians say it), I’d do it.

I’d personally prefer the shot version, but only people in this group could have it:

  • Over 50 years of age
  • Pregnant women
  • People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs
  • People who have had an allergic reaction to a flu vaccination
  • People who have developed Guillain-Barre syndrome within 6 weeks of receiving an influenza vaccination.
  • People who have a moderate to severe illness.

Others asked me, “Why would you do that? Aren’t you scared? I wouldn’t do that if I were you. This is new and still experimental. My body is my temple, I will never get anything weird into it.”

First of all, I have faith in nowadays’ medical breakthrough. I may not be religious, but I do believe in science. I understand it’s a clinical trial, but if I could partake in a scientifically controlled study to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the H1N1 vaccine, I would. Second of all, I would not be selfish -not wanting to try on a possible precaution-  for the sake of my two kids who are the age of 7 and 8.

Back then when measles and smallpox were epidemic, could you imagine if nobody want to try to be vaccinated? Not saying that this H1N1 would be as scary as those two, but the number of deaths is rising.  I bet a lot of people was also pessimistic when Emile Roux and Louis Pasteur were working on the first vaccine for rabies by growing the virus in rabbits. And not too many were very enthusiastic to be administered by the vaccination.

Hopefully the inoculation of novel influenza A (H1N1) will be as successful as Edward Jenner’s smallpox. If a milkmaid from the 17th century could do it, so could we.

My body is my temple, and I’d like it good and strong to last a long time.

**Here is more info from CDC about 2009 H1N1 and Seasonal Flu**

To Ignorant Parents Who Let Their Kids Throwing Temper Tantrums in Public

Parents, please STOP it! If you’re taking your cranky kid to a doctor’s office for someone else’s appointment (be it your neighbor, spouse, parents, etc); DO NOT just sit on your fat ass and let your kid screams and cries and throwing temper tantrums for the whole frickin’ 40 minutes!

While your spouse/neighbor/parent is being seen by the doctor, take your screaming kid elsewhere. Don’t you have any shame? Other patients are sick too. Somebody with a migraine doesn’t need to listen to your brat crying his lungs out. Other patient who’s being seen for a depression check, doesn’t want to add more depression by listening to your kid screaming.

How could you be so ignorant and just sit there reading PEOPLE magazine and let your brat rolling on the carpet, kicking the chair, and screaming? It’s probably why your kid is misbehaving, because you don’t discipline them. If I were you, I would take him/her to the car. He/she can scream until the face is blue, inside the car, and not bugging everybody else, especially those who don’t feel well.

Same scenarios I’ve seen in a grocery store or restaurant. If your child is tired, hungry, or just plain bratty; maybe you shouldn’t take them to a public places like that. Maybe you should wait until he/she naps or give them some snacks? It’s just mind boggling to see these parents who won’t/don’t do anything while their kids are throwing temper tantrums. Yes, you should not ‘give in’ to them to ‘teach’ them that by doing so he’d get what they want, but do that teaching in your frickin’ home! Or in the car!

The Annoying Runner/Jogger

I have nothing against runners/joggers. I think they are a good example of a dedicated person. I’ve seen them running during the winter, in the rain, and scorching summer. Hats off for them. Most of these guys are pretty decent, in terms of etiquette of using/sharing the road.

What piss me off is some of them who act like they are the owner of the road. Not using the sidewalk even though it’s there, but running on the busy road instead. I could understand if it’s in the winter and the sidewalk isn’t plowed. But in the bright sunny summer? We drivers have to be extra careful and move to the other lane. If the road is one lane, then we have to wait patiently behind the jogger until the opposite traffic slows down then we can pass the jogger. Ugh, it’s like scratching nails on a chalkboard… Torture!

Then comes the attitude of ‘The Annoying Runners’. They would not stop running even though the drivers got the right to go because of the green light. This morning, on my way to work, I was waiting at the stop light. When the left arrows turned green, of course I go. I saw this female jogger coming, but I thought she would stop since she noticed three cars were turning left to her direction. She did not stop. She almost hit my car. Then she threw her arms up like she’s frustrated because we didn’t stop for her.

Sorry for the inconvenience, that my journey to work to make some money interrupt your effort to shed some pounds… but you’re not the diva of the road even though you certainly act like one.

President’s Speech vs Cub Scout Master’s Promo

Interesting fact #1: Some parents did not allow their kids to go to our school two days ago (Tue, 9/8/09) because Presiden Obama was giving speech to all American school children.

Interesting fact #2: School authority was actually forewarning parents via email if they do not wish to have their children listen to the Presiden’s speech. Below is an example of what was emailed to us parents from school, without disclosing anybody’s name:

We have received a few inquiries from parents about President Obama’s speech to school children scheduled for Tuesday morning, September 8 and how the district is planning to address this event.

The speech, estimated to be approximately 15 minutes in length, will be taped. Then, like other materials teachers may use in a classroom, it will be previewed and a determination will be made to show it as appropriate.  Parents who request that their children not watch this address may do so. The students will have an alternate activity for the time the speech is aired. We are not planning to use any discussion materials provided by outside entities. Those decisions will be made by classroom teachers.

The information we have received has indicated the President’s speech will focus on three main ideas: encourage students to set high goals for themselves, work hard, and accept responsibility for their learning.

If you have specific questions, please contact your building principal.
Thank you.

Sincerely,

xxxx xxxxxx

 

Like hubby said, it’s probably a political thing and the school just want to be ‘safe’ not to step on anybody’s toe. He thinks it’s a sad testament to the awful polarity of today’s society.

Which will take us to the interesting fact #3: The day after the speech, just yesterday, my kids told us that there were Cub Scouts Master talking to them during lunch, promoting their organization and to lure the kids into joining them. My son was beaming, “It’s really cool! We will be making cars, roasting marshmallows, go camping, and sleep in a tent! I want to be a Cub Scout!”

How ironic is that -to use hubby’s words- we find ourselves feeling obligated to allow parents to ‘opt out’ of their children’s participation in listening to this country’s highest elected official, but not reciprocating this option for an organization that so openly discriminates against atheist/agnotic children (example here and here).

The school was trying very hard to address certain group’s feeling abouttowards the speech; but failed to address our (atheist/agnostic people) feeling towards this whole Cub Scouts/Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts thing. Were we just to assume that all the kids are religious (Christian)? Why wouldn’t the school forewarn us like they did to the Presiden’t speech? Maybe I don’t want my atheist/agnostic kids to listen to their promo and want to ‘opt out’ my kids from it.

But before we abruptly say ‘no’ to our innocent kids, hubby did a research about Cub Scouts and the like. And we were right, they are an elite religious/military-like club and definitely will not accept our non-religious children. Luckily, our kids are smart enough to know the difference and were OK not to join.

How ironic…