Sunday, November 30, 2008

Just one more thing...

I was so sad to read about the Walmart Employee's death on "Black Friday". It really makes me mad too. Every year, news outlets show footage of crazy shoppers rampaging through the doors of Walmart. How could the company not see this coming? Every single year someone is trampled, it's only a matter of time before someone was injured severly or killed. Opening all the doors at one time to allow a mass of thousands in never ends well. This poor man wasn't a "real" employee, from what I read - he was just a temp. Part of me thinks that Walmart likes the attenion that the media draws to it's mass entrances. I hope next year they queue the line and open one or 2 doors at a time. People shouldn't risk their life just to work.

Just one more reason why I really don't like that company as a whole. This should never ever have happened.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Walmart Saved our Butt

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I despise Walmart, especially the one here in Madison. I haven't set foot in the Walmart on the westside in years, and I do not intend on changing that anytime soon. I watched a movie a few years ago about Walmarts employment practices and I have choosen, for the most part, not support an employer who doesn't appear to value their employees except for their inexpensive labor.

Now, on the night before Thanksgiving, while at a hotel in the Dells, my husband discovered that that our battery in the van had died. We were about an hour from home and I had to be at work at a retail store (that is VERY busy on the day after t-giving - yes, I know they all are, but really, trust me, we are SLAMMED!) by 11am on Friday. Around 9am on Thanksgiving, my dear husband called AAA and a kind tow truck from Prairie Land towing came not once, but twice (because the cables didn't work the 1st time) to get the van up and running. We knew if it was turned off, it wouldn't start back up.

We were all prepared to buy a battery and have to install it on our own since I didn't expect to find an open car shop on Thanksgiving. I left David and the kids in the car, running of course, while I ventured into the only open store around. Walmart. This is the Wisconsin Dells, after all. I wandered in, picked up some decongestant for my daughter and made my way back to the car dept. when what did I see?

People. Yes, they were open.

I have never been so relieved to see a helpful Walmart employee.

They picked out the battery we needed, and me and my family waited. I was about to go and pay for the medicine when one of the other helpful walmart women said I could just pay for it with the battery, but I could go head and open it to give some to my daughter then. A few moments later she returned to put on the DVD of Tinkerbell for her as well. She also had a little girl and watched Tinkerbell lots.

I coudln't help but think that this woman was here, helping us (probably on barely a living wage) while her little girl was back home with out her.

We were extremely Thankful to the 2 or 3 people who were there on Thanksgiving, to help people like us who's car battery died an hour from home. While I don't like Walmarts in general, I have a new found love for the Walmart SuperCenter in the Wisconsin Dells. Beleive me, we were Thankful for Walmart this Thanksgiving. I will never say that again.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Just Keep Swimming Swimming... Just Keep Swimming...

So, let's sit back and look back at how Blake got into swimming...

Long long ago, in a cold January in 2004, Blake started taking swimming lessons at SwimWest here in Madison. Those first few months were rough. Screaming, crying, and general misery were involved. But, we thought at 4 1/2, he needed to start getting into the water. We continued there faithfully for 2 or 3 years. It was warm, the classes were small and it went great. The only problem was that it was a little pricey. Eventually we switched over to lessons at the outdoor pool in Middleton and then to the indoor one in the winter. This past summer, he was finally convinced to join the Middleton Gators swim team. It was a new experience for him and a bit confusing for us as parents. He did great with this new competitive streak that he found inside of him. He did have some difficulties with a few things such as diving in and doing the breast stroke legally. He DQ'd more on breast stroke, than not.

When the summer ended, I wondered where this would leave us. I could tell he loved swimming, and with a little coaching, I knew he could excel. There are quite a few local USA Swimming teams in the area, but we logically choose the one that practices walking distance from our home. This year he has been swimming with the Badger Aquatics Club. While he's not the fastest, he's also not the slowest by any means. And he tries his hardest everytime, and that's all, as a parent I expect.

It's nice too, that for the most part parents don't get too obsessive over it. Parents aren't allowed on the deck of the pool during the meet. (although, I have to say, yesterday there was one REALLY annoying mom who whistled as loud as she could each time her kids swam -- think each time the kids head bobbed up -- and even once almost walked into the area where the starting thingy was. She's pretty much the exception to the rule though). Also, when it's a home meet, parents MUST volunteer for something, so it keeps them occupied. Kids also have to be fairly self sufficient as well. The coaches do come and round up the kids to make sure they are at the blocks, but the older ones are responsible for getting there when the time arrives.

So far this season, Blake has come away with multiple ribbons. There has been 2 1st place, I beleive both in Relays, then some 2nd places -- some in relays others in 50 or 100 Freestyle, then some 3rd and 4ths... and then they also give out 5th, 6th, 7th, & 8th at most events. Yesterday he was really fixated on a MEDAL. This is the 1st event with medals. Medals were only given out to the top 3. In one event he tied for 4th out of 18 kids. That's incredible! However, to him, it was a failure since he didn't get the MEDAL. Even if he had gotten 3rd out of 3, if it was a medal, that's all that mattered. I need to get him to look at the big picture. No matter what though, I am SOOO incredibly proud of his accomplishments swimming competitively in the last 6 months!!!!

This is from the 100y Medley Relay. Blake swam the last quarter freestyle. His team was in lane 5 and they got 2nd. The other team was about 5 seconds ahead of them. Him and the other boy who swam butterfly swam the 2 lengths in ~40 seconds, which is great for this age!

This was another race he did well in, backstroke. The difference in time from 3-8th place was about 2 seconds. Blake got 7th, but I think 3rd was about a second and a half faster -- not much! He was in lane 1, the furthest away from the camera.

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