This Is A Test

I don’t think it’s a stretch to claim my youngest son is a bizarre little boy; and I write that with the upmost respect.

While Julia is painting The Girl with the Pearl Earring, Kevin is creating wild photo journals about his characters getting away with tax fraud, or derailing passenger trains. The boy is literally a twenty-year old in a twelve year old’s body.

This weekend. Kevin was sitting at the computer and was tooling around on the internet. At some point, he opened up Microsoft Word, and started composing what he termed his “Common Core Test: Standard Sixth Grade Math.”

Suffice to say, this was not your normal, everyday test; it was a peculiar test, and fairly classic Kevin.

You can see the test under the fold. Make sure you read all the questions to earn course credit.

Continue reading “This Is A Test”

Always Bet On Black Belt

In case you were wondering, I was scarce yesterday because it was a very special afternoon for our family. My youngest son, Kevin, was scheduled for his junior black belt test at his martial arts school.

We were lucky enough to have the school to ourselves thanks to the Wuhan virus, and Sensei Dave said it was the first time he ever had one student for a junior black belt test.

Since the virus had everyone – except Kevin – wearing a mask, the instructors had Julia spar with the boy. She’s only a few belts lower than Kevin, and her size is comparable to Kevin’s. As you can see in the top photo, Kevin didn’t take it easy on her, and vice-versa.

Unfortunately, at about fifteen minutes in of the hour test, Kevin gave a roundhouse kick to the dummy – at right – but missed the dummy and his foot connected with the solid base. He dropped to the ground in pain, and hobbled off the floor. The foot squarely hit the hard plastic, and Sensei Dave had him take a few minutes to recover.

Kevin hopped back onto the floor a la Daniel LaRusso and continued his test. Of course, Kevin being Kevin, he got hurt again after his knee connected with Julia’s nose. The tears started, partly from the pain and partly from the stress of the test.

Sensei Dave told Kevin he didn’t come all this way to turn back, helped Kevin with his composure, and continued the test. The pain stirred up some anger, and Kevin started punching harder, moving faster, and blocking Julia’s blows quicker. Near the end, I was asked on the floor, so Julia and I could attack Kevin one after another. Julia would throw punches, then I would grab him in control holds. Kevin worked his way out of them all, and after finishing with 600 punches – all aimed at me while holding a striking pad – he passed the test.

All the sweat, exhaustion, and pain was swept away the moment he knew he passed.

Kevin started martial arts in 2016, passed his first test with a cast on one arm, and climbed the ranks over three and a half years. When Kevin started training, he was the shy, quiet kid who threw soft punches and average kicks. Now the boy is on the Leadership Team, much more mature, and his punches really, really hurt. (Believe me, I know.)

I have never seen him happier, or smile more, than when he received his junior black belt. His name is embroidered on it in “Burnt Texas Orange,” which is apparently a real color. (You can see it on him in the above photo.)

We have never been more proud of him.

Tripping The Light Fantastic

Many of you know Kevin has been taking ballroom dance lessons at his school. A few months ago, the team took gold in the preliminaries, then earned a bronze in the finals. Afterward, the program offered a half-year program which consisted of an hour lesson every week.

Kevin jumped at the chance.

The instructors went over the basic dances – waltz, merengue, foxtrot, swing, and tango – then added a few more – including the salsa – while improving on the others. Of the dozen kids in Kevin’s class, six were from his school, so he was surrounded by friends.

Sunday was the Ballroom Dance Festival downtown, and while I was unable to attend – work – Mrs. Earp was in attendance. With the exception of one partner who had literally no clue about the dance steps, Kevin did very well and had a lot of fun.

Afterward, Mrs. Earp too a photo of Kevin and his friends Alyssa and Bayani. Alyssa always gives Kevin the giggles by raising her eyebrows at him when they dance. She thinks Kevin is too serious.

Congratulations to all!

The Cookie Monster

Those of you who have been here for a while know my youngest son, Kevin, is fifty-percent brilliant and fifty-percent odd. We got a sample of both Wednesday night.

Kevin was assigned a science project where he needed to demonstrate a mixture or a solution. Kevin decided to demonstrate how cookies are made. He and Mrs. Earp made cookies last night, wrote down the steps and added the recipe on poster board.

Kevin brought in the cookies to class yesterday, and during his presentation, explained how they were made. He said the presentation went very well, but he was not yet graded.

The reason I mention this is because he added artwork of stick figures enjoying his creations. As always, the art was hilarious. You can see it below the fold…

Continue reading “The Cookie Monster”

The Bronze Age

You may remember this post from last week, where Kevin’s school ballroom dancing team competed in the city semifinals. In that competition, Kevin’s team – all fifth graders – captured the gold, and moved on to the city finals.

The city finals were held yesterday at a charter school in the eastern part of the city. Kevin’s team – he and his best friend Grace are captains – was going against eight other schools from across the city. The moderator said the competition would be intense, and the judges would be more strict. They weren’t lying.

Kevin and Grace danced the waltz in their first routine, and the merengue in their second. They and the rest of the team were fabulous, in my opinion, and we all felt pretty good about their chances. The judges announced the bronze awards, silvers, then golds.

The first school they called was Maternity BVM – Kevin’s school. You would have thought they were being called to the gallows. The team glumly walked to receive their awards, many, including Kevin, were crying. After a semester’s worth of work, they missed out on gold, and it was a very long ride back to school.

I tried explaining winning a bronze in a city competition is pretty impressive, but he wasn’t hearing it. Hopefully, he’ll realize how well he did after a few days’ thought. Either way, we’re all very proud of him.

They’re Movin’ On Up!

I mentioned Kevin’s dance competition yesterday, but I wanted to expound on it a bit now that I’m less stressed and we have better video.

The contest includes every school in Philadelphia who participated in the dance program. Teachers would come to the schools, instruct the kidds, and see how they applied the skills. The semifinals were yesterday, and as I mentioned before, Kevin and Grace’s team moved on. (Kevin and Grace are the dance team captains – as well as best friends.)

In addition to the waltz, the captains are permitted to perform for the audience. In this case, Kevin and Grace did the merengue – a dance perfected in My Blue Heaven – an fabulous film with Steve Martin and Rick Moranis. Suffice to say, Kevin and Grace wowed. They’re dressed in blue below.

The kids cheering for them at the beginning is also heartwarming.

After the captains’ dance, Kevin and Grace’s team learned their fate…

Continue reading “They’re Movin’ On Up!”

Dance The Night Away

For the past few years, my youngest son Kevin has been participating in dance lessons held at his school. It’s a program which reaches out to local schools and teaches those interested to dance – from everything from the waltz to hip hop. Kevin has always enjoyed the lessons, but we had no idea how good he actually was.

Last week, they put on a show for the parents – I was working, naturally – and Kevin moved on to the semifinals. He will be dancing the waltz with his partner and best friend Grace. Not only that, but the pair have been chosen as the captains of their dance team.

The semifinals are set for tomorrow morning, and sadly, he’ll be dancing while I am getting my biopsy results. Mrs. Earp bought Kevin a new shirt – it needed to be blue – with an accompanying bow tie. We’re trying to keep him grounded, and reminding him if he moves on, that’s great and if he doesn’t, he focuses on his accomplishments so far.

The fact he’s dancing with Grace is a good sign, so he’ll see this more as fun than as a competition.

UPDATE: Mrs. Earp sent video of Kevin and Grace’s waltz…

Kevin and Grace are in blue.

UPDATE 2: GOLD!!! Kevin, Grace and the rest of their team are moving on!!

Happy Birthday Kevin!

Today is my friend Kevin’s birthday. Kevin (Left, above) is one of my best friends, godfather to my son Kevin, and the lucky bastard who lives in the beautiful state of Arizona.

We’ve known each other for over twenty years, and in that time, he has hosted my family in Arizona twice, helped me through my two-year bout with depression, been a terrific surrogate uncle to my kids.

I don’t have a lot of friends, but the ones I have are tip-top. Since Kevin is a fanatic for hockey, I figured this may make his day a little brighter.

Happy birthday, Kevin! Have a great day.

Getting His Kicks

As I mentioned Saturday, Kevin’s most recent martial arts belt testing occurred Friday night. Kevin, a brown belt, was testing for his brown belt with black stripe. Since Mrs. Earp was wrapped up with prom duties, I took Kevin to the testing. As we pulled into the parking lot, I told him, “I want you to do everything fast and hard.” For the most part, he did not disappoint.

Kevin (right, in the photo) performed all his moves very well, punched hard, and kicked harder. (At one point, he connected with a kick, knocking his sparring partner to the ground.)

My only complaint was he pulled a few punches, but he was bigger and more experienced than his sparring partner, and he’s always been afraid of hurting someone. Other than that, it was a great evening, and Sensei Dave (the owner of Premier Martial Arts) told me afterward, “He’s a different person than when he started.” It was a nice compliment to receive.