Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Football

I have said it before and I will say it again, there is no better tradition that high school football being played on Thanksgiving. Just the way the Pilgrims envisioned it. The whole traditions really starts the night before at your local bar. All the alumni come home to see the family and head out early to start drinking, telling stories, and exaggerating their former prowess on the gridiron. There is the annual early morning parties before the game with Bloody Mary's for all. The game starts at 10 AM. The weather can be tricky but the last couple of years have been cooperative. It was cold but sunny and clear this year. I was able to successfully avoid most of the distractions, having to glad hand everyone I see. Caz sat for the entire game, on the fence to the left of the stand and team, with his buddies. He never left that seat. It was great. I didn't have to worry about chasing him around. I got to sit in the stand with Coco, which was a nice surprise. We sat next to Conan and his son, Tiki. Coco did go play some football with his crew for a bit, but ended up back with me. It was really a great day. Demi got to stay home and cook with no distractions. It is really the way she wanted it. So we all made out in the bargain. And the Dragons won in convincing fashion.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Milestone Birthdays

My Dad turned 70 this week. Hard to think that the old man is that old. He still seems to be the same guy I remember growing up. A few more grays perhaps but not many. He's still as active as ever, working his tail off around the yard every weekend. The older he gets, the higher up he seems to set the bar for me. He's a hard act to follow as it is. I don't need him setting precedent here. I want to have my arse parked on a beach somewhere, when I am his age. I am all for setting a good example, but now he's just showing off........

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy 70th

Happy Birthday Dad! The Big 7-0. Hard to believe it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pats Rant

I went with my brother to Gillette to see Thursday night football between the Patriots and their rival NY Jets. I was definitely looking forward to seeing Favre play (in a losing effort I had hoped). Now admittedly the forecast was for a rainy, cold, miserable night. But we had geared up appropriately. We made it in a bit early to get a BBQ Brisket sandwich, so we were in our seats for kickoff. I looked around and noticed a large amount of empty seats. Had Patriot Nation turned into Dodger fans? It was like a BC game. And that is not a good thing. The BC fans exemplify all that is wrong with Northern college football. We wonder why the south is so widely considered the best big time college football fans. As I said before, it was rainy and cold, and a Thursday night. Was that the reason. Or are most Pats fans just spoiled?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Super Bowl Blues

Caz's Mites team made the Super Bowl. One would think that this a slam dunk, happy occasion. However, not so here. This was the most bittersweet event of all time.

This Super Bowl was a lot of "never seen". I have never seen a youth football team arrive in a team bus with a police escort (the opposing Hanson team). I have never seen an opponent whose closest game all season was a 30-8 win (against Caz's team, the second game of the season). I have never seen that same team run it up against another team because of something that allegedly happened during a high school game between the two towns. I have never seen a Super Bowl playing field in such terrible condition. I have never seen kids in tears after winning a Super Bowl, because they were 9 years old and never stepped foot on the field the entire game.

That is right. Of a 36 player roster, 12 kids saw the field. Is that the cost of winning a title? Is that cost acceptable for 9 year old. Is that cost acceptable for most ages? How does this escape the notice of the coaches? It didn't escape the notice of the parents. There were a lot of upset kids and angry parents after this game. Unfortunately, another example of what is wrong with American youth sports.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Rock The Vote

The press keep referring to this Presidential Election as history in the making. Obama versus McCain. It wasn't too long ago that Caz told me that he wouldn't vote for Hilary because she wanted to extend the school year. I really do like how the teachers and school get the kids interested in the election. Not just the candidates but the whole election process. Caz's school had a mock debate. Coco's class had a classroom election. We talked about the voting process and requirements at the dinner table. We talked about the Electoral College. We even had a quick session on representation in a Republic. Had I really been thinking I would have linked in Star Wars and the Galactic Empire. Missed the boat on that one.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mighty Mites - Game 7

Game 7 - Our season finale against Hanover, the team that kicked the crud out of us the first game of the season. This was going to be the final test for the season to see if we made progress. Theoretically,could we have had a worse game? But I knew we were a different team now. Kids new their positions. We could run the ball. We could defend. And you know what? We played well. Yes, we lost (finishing1-5-1) but we were competitive and gave Hanover a game. We actually lead when our FB, McCool, took a routine Bang playand went 50 yds for a TD. Coco made a great tackle, tracking down a Hanover RB from behind and across the field on a long run that looked like a sure TD. I was able to get kids a lot of time, which is a great way to end the season. We actually completed a pass too. Some kids had some spectacular plays. Mellow Yellow had a run with a Payton-esque stiff arm. Job had a couple of good runs. McCool was an animal, making plays all over the field. I was really proud of all the kids. They were playing football, and playing it well.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mighty Mites - Game 6

Game Six - Home against Taunton B. Just as big, but faster. Things didn't look to improve in our favor. At least we were home. But you know what? We played them tough and close. Our kids came to play.They didn't back down or get discouraged. We moved the ball on offense.We tackled better on defense. All around a better game than last week.
In my years of coaching (3), I have never seen a player hit like one of our got hit on Saturday. Our DE, who is a coach's son, is one of the smallest players on the team. He's a tough kid and wrestles in the winter. He is able to get some leverage and give larger guys some problems. While engaging his man, he free himself and coincidentally placed himself in the hole. The lead blocker was a tank and dropped Meggett like a sack of flour. As I turned to follow the play, my jaw dropped from seeing the hit. In that split second, I feared the worse and turned back around to make sure Meggett was OK. It's the only time I have done that in my coaching career. Not only was Meggett OK, but hewas running past me to pursue the play. After the play, I pulled him off the field to make sure he was OK. He was and I told him that he ought to be proud of himself for getting up. That was the type of game is was. The boys were out matched but they always got up and never gave up.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Salem, MA - Home of the witch trials. This year we wanted to see what the Halloween hype was all about up there on the North Shore. The Witch Museum. The Pirate Museum. The House of the Seven Gables. The Wax Museum. There is a lot going on in general. Add in Halloween and the Day of the Dead festival is on. We got off to a bit of a rough start. The Witch's Brew Restaurant slowed us down as the kitchen got overwhelmed and it took us over an hour to get our food. On the plus side, I got to see a fair amount of the Texas/OU game. But I really would have traded that for a guided haunted tour. We found one of the activity hubs and bought tickets for two of the Haunted Houses. I hadn't been in a Haunted House in years. I really didn't know how the boys would do but the organizers made us feel that the boys could handle it without any repercussions.
Let me tell you. These things were so dark. Fog machines, strobe lights. I almost walked into a wall on more than one occasion. The first place, Frankenstein's lab, had Demi in the lead with Coco and Caz stuck to her hip. Bringing up the rear, I was the stray gazelle of the group. Crazy Chainsaw guy? Creepy Clown? They all waited for me to pass before jumping out or screaming, or what not. The second place, I had the boys. Caz had me in a death grip. I almost couldn't breathe due to the constriction of my rib cage. Outside we got some kettle corn and cider. Then we strolled through a cemetery. It was really interesting, with such old markers dating back to the 1700's. Coco was really fascinated. He noted the markers with babies that never made it a full year buried by the parents. We had a really good conversation about the difference in life spans between then and now. Caz really like the mausoleum. It struck me as odd that we were munching popcorn and walking about. But we were hardly the only ones. I think I would like to go back and hang about after dark. Next year maybe.

Boo Birds and Bandwagons

You know? For the first time in a long time, I was embarrassed to be a Boston fan. I was really disappointed in members of Red Sox Nation. I was watching the ALCS and as annoyed as I was by the "need to been seen" crowd attending the game and not watching the game, that was not the worst thing of the night. After making an out, Jason Varitek, the Captain, the heart and soul of the team, the consummate professional, was booed by some of the crowd. An awful display by the Nation.
Now, I know that I take a very conservative view about cheering and booing, when it comes to sport. I don't believe in booing, even when it's the opposing team. As with all rules, there are exceptions. The most notable is the Evil Empire Rule: When a team is the root of all evil, it is OK to boo them and chant "Yankees S*ck!". There is no room at all though for booing your home team. I know the arguments of expensive tickets, spending hard earned money, expecting a quality product, yada, yada, yada. I just don't believe in it. You support your team, through thick and thin. Period. It's been shameful what's happened to some of the athlete's in these parts. Bledsoe, Bellhorn, (BK Kim exception: you flip off the crowd, you lose the right of protection from the boo birds), Terry Glenn, are just a few players that were booed out of Boston. It just shouldn't happen. Everyone talks about setting a good example for the children but a lot of the adults at these sporting events behave worse that a child displaying the terrible twos.
Back to Varitek. Do you think he doesn't know that he's not hitting well? Do you really think he's striking out on purpose? But he still prepares more than any other player out there. He commands the respect of the team, and especially the pitchers. He calls a game from behind the dish, better than anyone in baseball. If anyone deserved to be cut some slack, it's him. The boo birds of the Nation should be ashamed of themselves.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mighty Mites - Game 5

Game 5 -We played our first Sunday game of the season. A 4 PM, West Coast start time. Good thing since Caz was playing at 11:30 at the far end of the universe in Hull. The boys just don't seem to like afternoon games. The other coaches said what I was thinking, Coco was the only one that showed up to play. The kids were dazed and lethargic. On top of that, these Taunton kids were big and fast. We have a few big kids. But not both big and fast. We had kids in positions to make tackles but just bounced off these kids. We were just flat out physically out-matched. We were down 18-0 at half-time. Our running backs got hit so hard that they didn't want to run anymore. I could actually hear discouragement and frustration at half-time. To our credit, the boys played it out. I guess it is not surprising, with the way the season is going, that Taunton kept it's first string out there the entire game. So much for sportsmanship.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mighty Mites - Game 4

Game 4 - Our first win of the season. It was at home which was really nice. The kids played really well. The running backs hit the holes and ran hard. The defense was making tackles. The CB's and DE's held the edge and didn't let anyone get outside. The LB's were scraping. The offensive line was really blocking well. We really hit on all cylinders. The kids were very excited. We got to use the scoreboard for the first time, so they could see their win. And the best part was a nice note sent out by a DYF Board Member to the rest of the Board about what a great job the Mighty Mite coaches had done, citing a noticeable difference from the visiting team. It's always nice to be recognized for a job well done.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mighty Mites - Game 3

We were supposed to have an bye weekend this weekend. We didn't have a game scheduled. I tried unsuccessfully for a while. Then out of the blue, another town calls looking for a game. Bingo. Match made.Unfortunately we had to postpone due to a seasonal hurricane/tropical storm rolling in. We were forced to play on a Monday night. And we were playing away. After school games do not seem to be our forte. We got buried. The other team, Rockland, my version of the Yankees, was not more talented. We were just lethargic. Our kids were not up toplaying. We were missing a few kids. Coco was actually sick. He was very upset to miss it. We missed him. And his tackling. The silver lining is that we found a new fullback. We were able to run it up the middle and make good gains. We could sustain drives. And this new fullback made the play of the year so far. On defense.Patriots fan will remember a game in Denver, where Brady through a very rare pick in the end zone. Champ Bailey was set to take it back 100+yards for a TD, when Ben Watson came from the other side of the field to track him down at the far goal line, preventing the score. That's what our boy, Ike did. Truly amazing.In another head scratching moment in youth sports: who calls not one,but two timeouts when you are up 3 TD's, and the sun is down with no field lights? You really need that last TD?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mighty Mites - Game 2

Game 2 was much better that the catastrophe of game 1. The Mighty Mites played a much better game. And we were more evenly matched. We played Hanson at Whitman Hanson Regional High School. They have a brand new turf field. The place was amazing. The kids thought they were at Gillette Stadium. The offense was able to get plays run and we scored our first touchdown of the season. The defense made some really good tackles. Both teams had some really long drives. The game ended in a 6-6 tie. I will take it.
Of course the parents were confused because Hanson ripped off a long TD run at the end. The problem was there were about 7 holding penalties and 4 clips. We don't call many penalties at this age. But these were so blatant, the other coach insisted on not counting it. It was a step in the right direction for the team. Progress was made.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hard Knocks - DYF Mites

This year is a very different year for Caz and his teammates. It all started without their knowledge in the ugly political battle over head coaching this is the dark underbelly of youth sports these days. Since I don't know first hand all the facts, I can 't begin to opine of the circumstances other to say it was a shame the way it went down. The result was that a few of the coaches from last year's staff, myself included (full disclosure), were not welcomed back. There were other battles on two of the other teams. The fall out there is that the coach that had the most complaints and who was the cause of parents banding together to oust that coach, if the Man Behind the Curtain on Caz's team. He's not the head coach, but he might as well be. And while he's actually a nice guy, it's a Jekyll and Hyde show. Anytime he gets within 500 feet of a football field, he becomes Hyde. He has unrealistic expectations of 9 year olds. While the team is big, meaning it has a lot of kids (36), so playing time is hard to come by, it makes no sense that the same 7-8 kids play Offense, Defense, and Special teams. He expects the "non-starters" to learn by watching in practice, also known as osmosis. The second and third stringers get little attention and reps in practice. There's no chance to move up because he concentrates on the first string. So if you make a great play on scout team, it goes unnoticed. And Game Day? Unless, you are the 11 on the field, there's only one coach that pays attention to you. That guy? Last year's head coach. I give him a lot of credit for hanging in there. He could have taken the easy way out and not coached. But he couldn't let his son and the rest just be fed to the wolf.
So no. Not every one of 36 kids is going to get equal playing time. But there is enough talent on that team to start 22 different kids on offense and defense. There is enough talent to get kids on special teams. I realize that this is my personal view but 9 year old youth football is not supposed to be cutthroat like high school football. Meaning you earn your spot and your playing time. The Man Behind the Curtain issued an email when complaints about playing time started saying that some kids were limited in playing time due to safety issues (while a legitimate concern, I think this was still used as a cop out) and for "lack of knowledge of the game". What 9 year old has a comprehensive knowledge of football? Aren't they still learning at that age?
I consider last season a perfect season. The kids were happy. They improved every week. They played as a team. And lastly, they happened to win. I think we had a great coaching staff. We received a lot of compliments as a coaching staff. This season has just been a polar opposite. I am just happy that Caz seems to be having fun for the most part. He sticks with his teammates. I just hope it doesn't sour him on football. I wouldn't blame him if it did.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mighty Mites vs. Hanover

This was a horror show right from the start. We were way out of our league. The saving grace for us, was that I didn't have access to the booth to be able to use the scoreboard. These Hanover kids were running circles around us. There was one kid who chased down our running back, Jake the Snake, from behind being behind 10-15 yards. They scored on almost every possession, while we struggled just to get a snap off. We did manage to rip off a couple of big gains but I have never been on the short end of such a lopsided contest. Coco had a couple of nice tackles at Dragon Back (an attacking strong safety). So there was a silver lining. And I know....there will be better days.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Mighty Mites 2008

This years edition of the former JV - second grade mites, is Coco's first foray into football. As noted previously he is chomping at the bit. 23 of Chandler Elementary's second grade class. It's all their first experience with football too. For me, yes I have coached the last two years. But now it is exclusively 7 year-olds. No older kids to sort of lead the way for the younger kids. I have to adapt to a whole new bunch of coaches. I know one of the other coaches and he is an experienced good guy. I figure between the two of us, we can divide and conquer, each taking one side of the ball. The players seem to be eager, as well as the new coaches. We have an array of very big kids and very small kids. Not much in between. Should be an interesting season.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day of School - 2008

It's that time of year again: Back to School. The kids have the new school supplies in their backpacks. They are wearing the new school outfits. I usually take the day off to walk the boys up to the bus, take pictures, and see them off on their first day. But there is some doubt this year. Caz has expressed a desire to walk himself up to the bus this year. My oldest son may be too old and too cool to have Mom or Dad walk with him. Exacerbating the fact is that Caz recently issued an ultimatum to Demi that there would be no more kissing him in public. Demi was crushed. And I can commiserate. It's tough to see your offspring grow up and grow out of their need for you. Sure, it's a small thing, in and of itself. But it is also the first step. I can see the inevitable driver's licence is going to be an all hands on deck crisis, when the time comes.
In the end, I simply asked Caz a few nights before school started if I could walk him up to the bus. Just for the first day of course. He smiled and said yes. It did make me happy. And it all went according to plan. Gizmo accompanied us this year. That was a big thrill for Caz and Coco. They got to show her off to the other kids. Not that they hadn't seen her yet. But her first trip to the bus stop was a cause for celebration. And I got my pictures. I hugged each boy and wished them well on their first day. Another successful day. But in the back of mind, I can't help thinking: Was this my last with Caz?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Coco's First Practice

Coco finally got to play real football today. He was very excited. He could not wait to put his uniform on and run around. I really enjoyed myself watching him. It was very comparable to Caz's first day. There is something fundamentally joyful about watching kids play and enjoy sports. Its the enthusiasm and innocence. Very Norman Rockwell. It's that feeling that all is right in the world. Enjoying your kids is what life is all about.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


The Baseball Hall of Fame. Doubleday field. They built it. And we went. It was really great. So much history. It was a mass infusion of all things baseball. Cooperstown is a quaint little town. The set up reminds me a lot of Newport, Portland, etc, with all the little cafes and shops lined up on Main Street, USA. Of course they were all baseball themed in Cooperstown. Baseball card shops intermingled with a baseball cafe, or t-shirt store.

It took some doing to find appropriate parking (we finally ended up at Doubleday field). But once we did, we were on our way. The Hall was just around the corner. It was really something. The statues of Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. The movie - The Baseball Experience - was a great starter. It included all kinds of classic highlights that got you excited about baseball. From that point on, it a great trip through trivia, displays, statistics, and memorabilia. It was a lot to take in, but I think the boys got a lot out of it. I took great pleasure in watching Coco search the display of baseball from all the no hitters over the years, looking to see how many belonged to Red Sox pitchers. He was very dismayed not to find Jon Lester's, but I assured him it was around somewhere. Sure enough we found a big display in the team section, (each team has its own locker in a clubhouse locker room set up) complete with Varitek's gear. Caz loved seeing all the stats, and using all the interactive displays. He spent a lot of time at a computer looking up baseball cards on all the HoF members.

The Jackie Robinson display was very inspirational. We watched all the footage, complete with pictures of Ebbet's Field. The boys and I had a very good talk about discrimination and all the hardships that Jackie faced and overcame. The All American Girls Baseball section was equally inspiring. I don't know why it's not as obvious as the Jackie Robinson display, as to the historical importance and struggle against adversity. But I made it a point with the boys to draw the correct parallels.

This was a great family trip. I highly recommend it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Dad's Summer Vacation - Version 1.2

Well, I managed to get the base of my brick BBQ/Smoker down, in between period of rain. I took advantage of the dry afternoons we seem to get so far. It's been a really weird week, in terms of weather, so far. During the rain, I have managed to get our movies in. I gave the boys a choice: Hulk or Space Chimps. They chose the latter, to my dismay. However, to my surprise, it was an enjoyable flick.
I am enjoying spending time with the boys. We are doing little projects with each other, playing games, reading together, and working (chores) together. It's been fun for me. We got their football pads. That was exciting. Coco could not wait to put the whole uniform on. He kept everything on, so Demi could see him when we got home. It was all I could do to keep the two boys from lining up and knocking heads in the front yard. Coco had been waiting all year to get this football pads and play football. I am excited to see how he does. He is so eager. I think my problem will be reigning him in, so he doesn't get to far ahead of himself. Practice for him starts next week, so we will see then.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dad's Summer Vacation

Well, I finally got some vacation time. Originally, the main purpose behind taking this particular week off was to cart the kids around to camp. I think it was going to be a kayaking class/camp. That's pretty typical. I have taken off weeks in the summer before for football preseason and baseball camps before. When doesn't life revolve around the kids?
The start of this vacation was great. The family attended the Futures at Fenway. I think this is the third time the Red Sox have done this. During a road trip for the big club, the ownership has two of the minor league affiliates play a double header at Fenway to showcase the farm league talent and potential futures major league stars. It is really a great take. We had the best seats that we have ever had at Fenway, behind the home plate area, to the third base side, just past where the netting stops. We were not the first area by the fence but the next section up. We had all four seats in our row, so no one on either side of us. All day, both games, $20 a ticket. That is great. The Sox put in extra activities out on Yawkey way, pitching cages, batting cages, and even a rock climbing wall. Talk about your family friendly event.
A lot of folks will consider vacation a disaster if it rains. The rain moved in on Sunday but no worries here. There is plenty of inside things to do. And I can get caught up on movies. I wanted to start my pet project outside, a brick BBQ pit/smoker. That may not happen with the rain but I can get a start anyway. I went to Lowes and got the makings for the base, some 4x8x16 patio bricks, some base sand, and some concrete. A stone mason, I am not. I am about to be self taught. Ought to be interesting. Hopefully, I do not cement my shoes and sleep with the fishes like Luka.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Are You Ready For Some Football?

Believe it or not, it is equipment hand out day. It is that time of year. Football season is upon us. I think it comes earlier every year. Not that I am complaining. Entirely anyway. The preseason? Man, it's a drag. Caz's team is going to go 4 nights a week until school starts. At least the Might Mites (Coco's team) is only going 2 nights a week. Fortunately, the weather is not the typical hot and humid August, Dog Day atmosphere that you usually see this time of year. I know I will end up eating dinner (as well as the rest of the family, but this is just about me....) late, around 8:30. I have to adjust my work schedule and work early and often. Coaching adds another layer of complexity. But I wouldn't change it.
Coco could not wait to get his equipment. He has been smiling since he got up. He almost tripped going up the steps and into the house, decked out in all his gear, to show Demi. I think he may try to sleep in it tonight. At least he will be well protected if he falls out of bed.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

GH - Aerosmith

Personally, I have been a big fan of this game. But I have also enjoyed watching the boys take such an interest in this game as well. It has really sparked an interest in them about the music. Admittedly, Aerosmith is one of my all-time favorite bands. The boys and I have had discussions about the band, their local roots, touch on the Toxic Twins era (never to early to talk about drugs and the effects on health and lives), and guitars. The game also includes music by Aerosmith's favorite bands like, the Kinks, Cheap Trick, Run DMC, NY Dolls, Lenny Kravitz, and others. Oddly, there is no Led Zepplin but I assume it was due to licensing issues. I recently read an article about Guitar Hero saving Rock & Roll. I don't know about saving but reviving and interest, yes. I do enjoy the fact that the interest in "classic rock" is surging. I will sound like a bitter grown up adult here (Buddha help me, I just turned into my parents) but most of the tunes on the radio today are crap. I was the happiest kid in the world when the Black Crowes put out a new album. They help sparked a R&R revival back in their hey day. I really get a kick out hearing Coco sing along to each song. Of course I had to explain to him that the line was "sweet emotion" and not "sweet ocean". But you know what? We had a discussion about what emotions were. Another win.

Movie Review - The Dark Knight

If you are reading this to gauge whether this movie is appropriate for the young kids, you can stop here. It's not. At least not without some serious talk up front. The movie is intense. My boys are now 7 and 9, and still have not seen Batman Begins. I have toyed with showing them, that one. But again, we need to talk first. There were just a few scenes that I think may be just to scary for them. While it is not Friday the 13th violent, the images can certainly be violent. I thought the original Michael Keaton Batman may have been too much for them.
The review? This movie was fantastic. Put the comic book and special effects to the side, the movie was still great. It is not often a movie lives up to or beat the hype. It is also not often that a sequel equals or betters the original. The Dark Knight did both. And not only that. Heath Ledger was even better than advertised. He really deserves an Oscar, aside from the sentimental notions. Christian Bale is still a great Batman. And the side kicks of Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are fantastic. Tons of action. A great story including some great twists. This is the best movie of the summer so far. I can't imagine it being topped.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Movie Review - Wall E

This is going to be a hard one to review. Overall the picture was an enjoyable family film. But this was not your typical Disney/Pixar animated classic, in the mode of the Incredibles or Cars. This was a movie with a message. It was a movie about the state of the human condition and where it might lead. About the consequences of our over indulgences and excess. I think the movie had a total of a hundred lines of dialogue. There was action, but not the kind you found in Kung Fu Panda. I believe the boys enjoyed the film, but it was not one they would put at the top of the summer list. I will say the movie was great for sparking family talk. The kids asked question and Demi and I answered them. We asked the kids some pointed question right back. There was definitely a need for a movie like that. And Disney/Pixar delivered.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Movie Review - Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda is the boys favorite movie this summer. At least to this point. The film had plenty of action. A fast pace seems to keep the boys locked in. It was also funny, for both kids and adults. I mean, Jack Black. How can you go wrong? I am not about to critique the plot. It's a cartoon for Pete's sake. It was your plausible story - an underachiever with big dreams. A lucky break helps make the dream come true. The underachiever has to face off against the main bad guy.
What did Dad like? Not too many potty jokes so it was suitable for all ages. It was short, at just under 90 minutes of running time. And......Angelina Jolie. Sure, she was an animated cheetah, so it was just her voice. But it is still Angelina Jolie.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Summer Boredom

The plight of every school age boy. "I'm bored...." Do you think youth is wasted on the young? You have a whole summer to do as you please, kid. I think the summers of Tom Sawyer might have been better than present day summer vacations. Tom and Huck didn't have summer league baseball, or basketball camp, or Wii, or Nintendo DS, or what ever modern cliche you care to use. Tom and Huck had a swimming hole, whitewash, and an apple. They had to make do. They used their imagination and made their own fun. That is what I am trying to encourage the boys to do. They are reading, but reading will only take you so far. You need activities of some sort. But how much should we really cater to the kids? Do we have to schedule activities 24/7, all summer long? I think not. The kids should be able to fend for themselves.
Some of the problem is that the other kids in the 'hood are scheduled 24/7, so the choice of playmates is limited. Left to their own devices, it is only a matter of time before the sibling rivalry surfaces between Coco and Caz. But they have been getting creative. My old army men (you know the ones that some kids used to melt with a magnifying glass) were popular for quite a few weeks. I would find them all over the house, hiding in just about anything. Marble. Good old fashioned marbles were a hit. Admittedly, I never took to them as a kid, but I knew the general concept. The boys and their buddies were recently shooting marbles in the garage.
The kids have it in them to entertain themselves. But if they aren't challenged to do it, they might never know that. Don't get me wrong. Camps have their uses. It is just like anything else these days, they are overused, and often for the wrong reasons.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Summer Movies 2008

This is how I think the boys would rate the summer movie season so far:

1. Kung Fu Panda

2. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

3. Journey to the Center of the Earth

4. Prince Caspian

5. Wall E

6. Iron Man

Dad's Rating:

1. Iron Man

2. Prince Caspian

3. Wanted

4. Kung Fu Panda

5. Journey to the Center of the Earth

You notice a trend of the movies the adults in this house are able to see? I did get to see Wanted with Demi which featured Angelina Jolie's bare backside. So I got that going for me. Which is nice.

Soon to be up? The Dark Knight. I can't wait to see that movie.

Also looking forward to Clone Wars, Step Brothers, x-Files

Reviews forthcoming

Risk and Reward

Both boys finished the year with good report cards. The previous statement was just a statement of fact. Demi and I decided that the family needed to celebrate that fact. A celebration would serve as acknowledgement of their achievement. That acknowledgement will hopefully serve as positive reinforcement of good behavior. Listen to the guy dabbling in psychology, will ya? One semester of Sociology.
I mean the celebration wasn't a pagan feast and all nighter. We took the kids to the Charlie Horse for their favorite clam chowder and play arcade video games. A daily double. The Charlie Horse clam chowder is the standard that all other chowders are measured by. The games are suspect. Some of them don't work. But the boys were happy. In another life lesson, the boys fought us tooth and nail on ordering potato skins. You know how many Demi and I got? One potato skin each. Mark that in the "don't knock it, until you have tried it" category.
As a surprise, after dinner, we took the boys to the movies. Their first non-matinee show. The boys were thrilled. They got to choose between The Hulk and Journey to the Center of the Earth. We saw the latter. And though the boys were tired and the movie was a bit of slow starter for them, they had a great time and loved the movie.
It was truly a spectacular family night out.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pool Time

"Caddies Welcome 1:00-1:15 PM"

We are very fortunate to have virtually unlimited access to a pool, right next door, at my parent's. With that in mind, and with all our trips to the beach, Demi and I feel it is important that ours boys be proficient swimmers. They have friends with pools too. So while both boys have had lessons, we keep making them work on it. Safety first. We want them to have fun but they need to prove that they can be safe by swimming correctly and obeying the rules of the pool.
Gizmo is getting into the act too. I thought it was a good idea to get her acclimated and brought her into the pool with me. The first time, I didn't actually put her into the water. The second time it was 2-3 feet from the steps. And the third time she fell into the water on her own. So far she has fallen into the water 3-4 times, just running along the edge. It would appear the kids are not the only ones in need of swimming lessons.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Dog Days of Summer

Heat wave. The air quality is poor. It's not fit for man, nor beast. The sun beats downs. The air gets thick. Not ideal for the slightly asthmatic. It tends to make one, more irritable that normal. These are the times that I really have to concentrate on keeping my temper and not letting the little things get under my skin. It would be easy to yell for no reason when the boys are driving me nuts. And don't get me wrong. It happens. But I try to be conscious of that fact and work on avoiding that tendency. I will actually find I talk to myself on the car ride home from work. Maybe that is slightly crazy but if it works? So be it.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Boston Clam Chowder. Now if that isn't as American as the Flag and apple pie, I don't know what is. Caz is a fanatic about his chowder. For a long time Coco wouldn't go near it. But now he dives right in. I showed Caz a trick once, a few years ago, balancing my spoon upright in a crock of clam chowder. It was to show him how thick this particular chowder is. Now that is the standard by which he judges all other chowders. And actually the chowder I showed him the spoon trick in, is still his favorite (I could tell you where to get it, but you know, then....well, you know the rest).
Demi scoured the web, looking for a family day activity. She came across Harborfest going on in Boston. A clam chowder contest, treasure hunt, and all kinds of 4th of July activities. We went into Boston with two other families and their kids. The treasure hunt was a walking tour of some of the historic sights in Boston. The kids had fun and learned some things at the same time. You can't ask more than that. We had lunch at Tia's on the waterfront. And we wrapped up with some chowder. Mix in a little street dancing, and it was just a fantastic day. Kudos to Demi for cooking up the perfect family day. Everyone had a good time and we spent the day together bonding.

Friday, July 4, 2008

July 4th

Happy Fourth of July.
I am glad to see the boys still exhibit a healthy respect for the Armed Forces. As I have said before, they usually gravitate back to the fact that my Dad was in the Marines. But I say, there's nothing wrong with that. Of course after Demi recited a fact she heard that most Americans can't name the national anthem, the boys looked like they hard time coming up with it themselves. I know they knew it. The school does a nice job with the national emblems. The first grade theme night every year revolves around all things patriotic. Caz eventually came up with the Star Spangled Banner. Whew....

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fight or Flight

"I. I will survive."
Instinct. That basic Darwin principle on how humans respond to certain situations. Survival. Are we programmed to flee? Or are we programmed to stand and fight? Until you are faced with a situation, you just don't know. During our latest round of storms, signaling the oncoming of the Apocalypse, Demi relayed an interesting story about Caz. He was outside with the kids in Demi's daycare, playing in the back yard. The day was overcast and looking gloomy, but a rain free day thus far. Out of no where, a thunder clap sounded, extremely loud. As if an explosion took place 25 feet away. Caz jumped straight up out the sand box and started bolting for the house. Half way there he stopped, realized one of the small toddlers was there crying, picked up the toddler, and raced into the house. No, he didn't save a baby from a burning building, but you could extrapolate from his response that the reaction and instinct are similar. Demi told him how proud she was of him. She told him that if he had just bolted for the house, that would have been all right. But the fact that he stopped to help another child was something that he should feel very good about.
Now would I have told you about this story, had Caz just run in the house. Probably. Maybe only for the humor. But I would like to think I would be having the same discussion had he done so. I made a comment a while ago about Lefty looking for me to add a post where I completely screw up. I am sure it's coming Lefty but I will try to be more diligent about posting my mistakes as well. Believe me. I make my share. I probably make your share too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


"Stormy Monday"
We have officially entered storm season. With the dark clouds and wind gusts, I expect to see a house and witch on bicycle to go flying past my window any day now. At least a Storm Chaser van or two. I thought the previous storms we bad. We hadn't seen anything yet. The amount of rain and the sheer intensity of these thunder boomers have been incredible. The amount of the water in the short period of time is bind boggling. I have not seen it rain that hard.
With all this inclement weather, the boys have had to be very diligent about picking up after themselves. They need to make sure everything gets inside or it's going to be wet at the very least, or outright ruined. Baseball gloves, bikes, hats, helmets, balls, frisbees, all the tools of summer vacation that the boys use throughout the course of the day, need to be back in the garage at the end of the day. And we thought just getting the boys into the shower at the end of every day was a challenge.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Clinic '08

The first foray into football for some. Coco's first attempt with the pigskin. It's only camp. No pads. But it is still an opportunity to get the kids prepared for the fall season. At the very least, we can get the rookies firing out into tackling dummies to get some of that fear of hitting, out of the way. For some, it's the first time catching and throwing a football (not that we do a lot of passing at the Mite level, but it is inevitable that they all come wanting to be the next Tom Brady. Who wouldn't?). They are learning to take hand-offs, to catch with their hands, to run through football drills, to know the positions, and to even learn a snap count. It has really been a fun week. The kids seem to be having fun too. And at this level, fun is what it is all about. If they don't have fun, they won't want to play. I really look forward to seeing Coco in his uniform this fall.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Storm Chasers

Thunder and lightning. And no, I am not talking about the DYF JV Mites. It has been a crazy storm week. The sky has gone black. The winds pick up out of nowhere, from zero to hurricane force gusts in no time. The thunder has been loud. The lightning has been spectacular. I really expected a couple of middle of the night visits from the boys, because they storms woke me up. But so far, so good. They have slept right through them. Storms don't really bother the boys. They shrug it off. It may be that Demi and I make a positive fuss about the storms. We are always interested in seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder. We make it a sort of event.

I would expect them to wake up and have trouble going back to sleep. Especially, with the A/C window units in each their rooms. Even Gizmo doesn't seem to mind. I think the first morning of storms brought a puddle to the kitchen linoleum but at only 11 weeks old, it could still be the house training. We have been fortunate, all the way around.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Last Hurrah!

Playoffs. For the first time. It's win or go home. It's no longer all about the learning. This should be interesting. I will equate it to Caz's first time trying out. He's nowhere near as nervous as that though. I take that as a positive. Even though the focus on winning has shifted a bit, the kids are still having fun. So the main goal (the kids having fun) is still in tact and within reach. If it wasn't, I would worry. I would like to win at least one round. But I am also a bit anxious, ready for the end of a long season. We are seeded towards the bottom of the barrel, so we face a pretty big challenge right off the bat. No pun intended. But never the less appropriate. We get tagged for a maximum 5 run inning pretty early on. And then another max out a few innings later. The AAA Bees would not recover. But we finish strong. Rather than giving up and going home quietly, the boys mount a 6 run, 6th inning. Caz had a tough pitching inning just prior to our at bat. But he finished with a bases clearing triple. So while the boys lost, they put up a good fight and went home happy. Another successful season in the books.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fathers Day

Happy Fathers Day 2008! To all my friends that are first time Dads, have a great day. Best wishes for the first of many auspicious Fathers Days. To my Dad, thank you for continually, inspiring me to strive to be better. To my sons, thank you for doing the same.

The boys made me some personalized stepping stones for the garden. They are really great. Demi has started a great tradition there. I am hoping it will get me to make to attend my rock garden. It may sound corny but I really do enjoy seeing those stones around the yard.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gizmo the Glue

Gizmo has quickly becomes a central point of happiness for the family. Who's Gizmo? The cutest 10 week old shih tzu you have ever seen. She's only been a member of the family for a week or so, but she has fit right in. Everyone dotes on her. I think she's been great for us. She is a common denominator that we all are passionate about. The boys love playing with her. They are so thoughtful where she is concerned. I think it has been great that we all focus on her well being and happiness. I think it give the boys a sense of what Demi and I do for them. Not that they get it all, but I think it may be sinking in. They do understand that a dog is hard work. They have been feeding and walking her. They take her out to do her business. The fact that Gizmo is cute and playful is icing on the cake. She really does have the perfect personality for the family. She loves to be held and scratched. She has a unique routine for each family member. It is definitely better that the two fish we had.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Book 'Em Dano

The boys have really taken to book making lately. Caz created his first book between ages 4 and 5 - "Batman in Historee". The boys collaborated on some other books in the past. When I recently visited Coco at school, he couldn't wait to show me a book he was working on with a friend in their spare time. " The Best of Tom & Jerry". It was a mystery. Very Scooby-Doo-like. My Dad would greatly appreciate it. Coco and his pal, Bruno spent an afternoon making another book. They had a list price of $3.99 with plans for marketing and distribution. They were really cracking me up. I love that the boys are so into books. I love the creativity. I love that they like to read and write. All illustrations are hand made as well. The stories are original, even if the characters are not. They have a clear beginning, middle, and end. It is great practice. I really hope that they keep it up. To that end, I gave them both a couple of my old briefcases. They can put their pens, pencils, crayons, and notebooks in there. They can travel with them. I do hope they take it the encouragement and run with it.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Pool or Pond

"Pond would be good for you. Natural spring water."

One of the annual rites of the season is the opening of the pool at my parents house. It is a highly anticipated event, especially by my boys. Each year, I try to get my Dad to open it a little earlier. He got into a bad habit when my brother and I were at school, of opening the pool after Memorial Day and closing it on Labor Day. A few years ago I was successful in lobbying my Dad to close it later in September and a year or two ago, almost into October. But the opening has yet to be substantially before Memorial day. Weather has made it tough. But when it's hot over Memorial Day weekend, you want the pool open, whether it was warmed up or not. The boys will at least jump in to say they are in.
This year I noticed another interesting phenomenon. Every year when my brother and I helped to open the pool, it was an all day project. There are long rubbery plastic bags with two chambers, that you fill with water to weigh down the pool cover. We had to empty those and them scrub them clean. My brother and I spent hours with scrub brushes, getting the dirt and grime that had accumulated over the winter, off those bags. Then we scrubbed both side of the pool cover. I took Caz and Coco over to help open the pool. Karma was in my favor and Dad was making a dump run when the boys and I started on the water bags. Love my Dad, but for things like that, it's best to keep him out of the way. The boys and I emptied all the bags, laid them out on the lawn, and were ready to scrub them down. As I was collecting the scrub brushes and uncoiling the hose, my dad came home. He saw me grab the brushes and he said to the boys, just "use the hose and spray them off. Don't worry about scrubbing those." I wanted to push him in the pool. And I told him so. His answer? "I can't work my grandsons that hard." That and it only took him 30 odd years to realize that it didn't help preserve them at all. Talk about your circle of life.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Well, we finally moved closer toward the national average. We took the plunge and picked up a pooch. We are still short the .5 kid though. Demi and I had toyed with the idea for some time, before launch an exhaustive search. We used Petfinder. We scoured the shelters, far and near. Many times we received no response at all. Our needs (OK my needs. My allergies.) dictated the type of breed which was more robust that I expected. But the breeds that fit the bill were the small dogs. Typically, that would not be my first choice. However, the dogs that bother my allergies are all the bigger dogs. As chance would have it, right when our spirits were being dimmed, we came across an unexpected opportunity to see a litter of Shih Tzu puppies. They were 9 weeks old at the time. Caz was at a birthday party, so Coco was the lone child with us. All three of us got on the floor to play with the puppies. I can usually tell within minutes if a dog will set of my allergies. After 15-20 minutes, I knew I was in the clear. Gizmo was the largest of the females. All she wanted to do was snuggle with Coco. They hit it off instantly. So we walked out with a new dog. Caz was so excited he screamed when he got in the car and saw her. It seems this national average life, is off to a great start.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


The classic match up is back. The Boston Celtics and the LA Lakers in the NBA finals, for all the marbles. It takes me back to my childhood. Thin black leather neckties. Parachute pants. Mullets. The short shorts. Both teams had them. Embarrassing really. We basically had the same uniforms as the Celtics, in high school. Those are going to be some fun videos to look back at. Bird. Magic. Kareem. Chief. McHale. Worthy. The Clothesline. Showtime. Beat LA! Jack Nicholson on the sidelines. Those were the good times. Even if the Lakers did beat us in the last two series. Those were the match ups that brought the NBA back to life. I remember sitting in the AC of my living room on a Sunday at 1 PM, watching the Celtics and Lakers play in the Boston Garden in 97 degree heat. Larry still running in the rafters to warm up. Kareem's goggles fogging up and sucking tanks of Oxygen.
Now we have KG. Kobe. The Truth. Ray Allen. Rondo. The New Garden. The new Big Three. The anticipation is almost too much. I am really looking forward to watching this series. Especially for the inevitable tributes to the 80's.

Monday, June 2, 2008

June Swoon

The first of June. There are three weeks left in the school year. It is still fairly cool for the season. It's time to see if we limp into the end of the school year, or fire on all cylinders and cross the finish line full speed. Hard to believe the school year is just about done. The boys are looking forward to it. So they say. But I think they will miss it when it is through. I know they like to act cool and talk big about school being over. Demi and I can tell by the way they talk about their days, that they are having a good time there.
The kids are definitely noticing that it is light a lot later at night. Although they haven't complained much about going to be while it is still light. It might be because they have baseball games every night of the week, and therefore end up going to be a whole lot later than normal.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Thank you to all the brave men and women who are serving or have served in our nation's armed forces.
The boys always think of their grandfather whenever we talk about the military. It is a good reference point. They know he was in the Marines. They are still learning about the divisions in the military. They still don't get the difference between the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. But they do know that the Marines are the best. That certainly makes my Dad happy.
The boys are also starting understand sacrifice. And more importantly the sacrifice specific to those that fought and died for this country. It is a fine line, having this conversation. Obviously, I don't want to scare them or give them nightmares. But I do want them to understand that holidays like these are about more than just a day off from school.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A No No - Baseball and Bonding

Jon Lester throws the first no hitter for a Red Sox lefty in more than half a century. The fourth Sox no hitter of this century. It would seem to be getting routine but you really do have to step back, take it all into perspective, and appreciate the enormity of it. I tried to impress that upon my sons. And I think get it to a degree.
Coco immediately brought up Bucholz and last years no hitter. This sparked a good conversation about how hard it is to throw a no no. Coco also remembered that Dustin Pedrioa made a circus catch at the end of the game to prevent a hit up the middle. I told the boys about Ellsbury highlight reel catch in 4th. While the no no is an impressive feat for a pitcher, it really does take a whole team effort to accomplish it. Varitek, now the only catch to have caught 4 no hitters.
While all these facts are great. The no hitters are impressive accomplishments. What I most enjoy is the conversations that follow with my sons. It is the bonding that is important. My now seven year old son can whip off the events of a no hitter from last year. I imagine in the years to come, when the boys are little older, maybe around the holidays, when we gather as a family, we will rehash these talks. And I am sure I will be smiling the whole time.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Does Anyone Win in a Tie?

AA baseball doesn't keep score of the game for Coco's team. The kids of course do. Or at least they think they do. AA is the next step up from T-ball. The kids are learning the finer point of the game. There is no need to keep score and throw winning or losing into the mix. It is just a distraction at that age. When Caz played AA, according to him, they won every game. Which again is the point. All the kids should feel like winners. They should have fun playing the game, while they are learning. The older kids in AA are getting to the age where it's appropriate to keep score but they too still benefit from the learning first mentality. This is where they are learning the fundamentals of the game, throwing, catching, hitting, base running, game strategy, and making plays. I really like that they start the season with practices and just don't leap right into games. The only thing I think the league could do better is to provide the coaches some guidance about how to run practices. A guy like me that grew up playing one year of organized baseball, would be complete lost on how to teach the game. However, the league does put on a free clinic on Saturdays for that age group, once the games do begin, to reinforce the basics. The league president is very enthusiastic and really connects with the kids. So to answer the title question.....yes.....they all win.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Winter Ball

I honestly think the season is going in revers and heading back into winter. It's down right cold. We should be in shorts and t-shirts but instead we are in winter fleeces and I have honestly thought about putting on a hat and gloves during a few of these late innings ball games. To the boys (and that's all the boys, on both baseball teams). I thought snow was going to fall during Coco's last practice. The Mudcats (actual team name) were all running around in their short sleeve shirts and baseball pants. The parents were shivering on the sidelines. It is baseball, so how much running around are they really doing?

The collective consciousness of the crowd is an amazing thing. You see it in evidence at sporting events, knowing when to sit and stand as a crowd. One, efficient unit, working in unison. The crowd will discipline it's own. You get one or two knuckleheads standing for no reason. The crowd will course correct and take action. The knuckleheads get the point. At Coco's last practice, they finished with a scrimmage. They started a few minutes later that normal but no big deal. They played one innings that ended at 7:25. Practice is supposed to end at 7:30. So we figured, things would wrap up and we would start heading home. No such luck. The other team started taking the field. At that point you could hear and feel the collection groan and sigh of the disappoint of the crowd. Apparently the crowd did not feel corporal punishment was in order, so we played two.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day - 2008

I hope all the Mom's out there have a great day. Happy Mother's Day Demi!

Not quite the Mother's Day that I am sure Demi had in mind. Overcast, misty Saturday, which we did some yard work to compensate for Sunday's schedule. At least she had high tea at the Boston Harbor Hotel with my mother and sister-in law. The boys got to see Iron Man. Everybody won in the afternoon. Caz had a baseball game at 5. Demi had arranged for a couple of the families we played against, who live in the neighborhood, to meet for pizza and beer (soda for the kids of course) at a local joint, after the game. We all could have used hot chocolate after another chilly night game. But is was fun. Sunday, we were able to have a nice breakfast before trudging off to the salt mines. Coco had soccer at 1 and Caz had a make-up baseball game scheduled for 3 PM. Of course, the first game went into extra innings, forcing ours to start late. But Demi did get to see her old son pitch for the first time ever. Isn't that what Mother's Day is really all about?

Friday, May 9, 2008

May Flies

The spring season for May flies is here. As if the cold, rainy weather isn't enough. The little annoying gnat-like black flies, swarming around your head. Flying in your ears, in your nose, or in your mouth. Extra protein, sure. But I could do without.
Caz is still growing his hair out. He's been on a mission to get his hair down to his shoulder. There is definitely a style, trendy thing happening. But I think it also, Caz asserting himself to. I think he knows Demi and I aren't wild about. So he is testing the waters. But we definitely haven't been fighting him on it, or talking in anyway to discourage it. Or at least anymore. I told him one or twice early on, when he was still mulling it over, that he didn't want to be mistaken for a girl. But since then, I probably have been going over board in support. All right, you got my. Reverse logic there. If the old man likes it, then why do it? Caz has been soldiering on. He's got the old man's hair, so the natural curl is thwarting him a bit is his attempt to reach the shoulders. And I am going to say go with Caz is just really wants longer hair, rather than him seeing through my attempts at using child psychology. I dare you to say otherwise.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Making Your Pitches

Good pitchers make good pitches. In that way, I need to make like Josh Beckett. This year Caz moved up to what is called AAA ball, where the kids pitch to each other, rather than the Dads/Coaches pitching. I believe I touched upon it in an old post during last summer's team. Caz has the ability to pitch and to pitch fairly well (always keep in mind that I have a typical Dad's perspective, even though in my mind, I try to be fairly objective). He rated very well in pitching during Leveling Day. But up until now, he had been hesitant to pitch in a game and actually avoided it like the plague. He had a latent fear about hitting a batter. I tried to not make a big deal about and put even more pressure on him, while internally it was eating me up a bit because I didn't want him not to try something because he feared it. That is a pretty common Fatherly Fear, I would imagine. After a few discussions with RJ, I started feeling Caz out about pitching. He seemed more open about it in the past, but I didn't want to rush it. So I waited until the third game before having RJ ask him to pitch. We told him that we had three games coming up, very close together and had used a lot of pitchers in the previous game. I told that RJ needed help and Caz responded. He said, "sure thing coach." Demi was very nervous with anticipation. In the fifth inning, Caz got his chance. He warmed up and then started firing them in. And he ended up striking out the first batter he faced. Statistically, you would call it a mixed bag, he gave up two runs, walked one, one hit, but he struck out the side. As you probably know, not all success can be measured in numbers. And this was definitely a win for Caz. Not only did he perform well, but he asked RJ if he could pitch in the next game. Mission accomplished.

Jerk Chicken

Coco's new favorite meal, fresh off the family vacation cruise. Coco has still is fixated on Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Iron Chef, and Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. He constantly issues challenges for Throwdowns. Caz gets into it too. I have to say, I really thought Coco would take one bite of the Jerk Chicken and spit it out. "Too spicy." But Coco lapped it up. He did say it was spicy, but he said he liked it. He actually said, "it has a spicy finish. It gets hot at the end." Verbatim, a Bobby Flay phrase. I love that the kids are excited about food and cooking. I was amazed in my bachelor days by the amount of my friends that had trouble boiling water. It is a great life skill to have.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Spring Fever

It's May. The April showers are still going. Ready for the May flowers now. The time warp that sucks up your time, right in front of your face, has begun. I didn't know how good I had it last year when Coco was in T-ball. That was once a week, every Saturday. Even with soccer on Sunday, my week was relatively calm. Caz would have a couple of games a week. Now with Coco playing AA? They both play during the week. Last week we had baseball Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday during the week. Each game got us home at 8 or later. By the time dinners and showers were done, the boys got to bed around 9. Then we had baseball clinics scheduled from 10:30-2, between the two kids with Caz having a game at 5 on Saturday. Sunday? Soccer at 1, baseball at 3. Honestly, when am I supposed to get things done? No wonder people lose their minds. Except for a planned pizza night after the Saturday night game with a couple other players and their families, at least we have not succumbed to the temptation of the fast food life. Demi works extra hard to cook solid meals. I think we deserve a medal. But do most parents.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Day

Happy May Day? Is that the correct exclamation? Everyone have their May Pole up in the yard? [Pause for Laughter] Seems like everyday is a holiday doesn't it. We just had Patriots Day, Earth Day, May Day. It was Green Month. We're pretty much just auctioning off days at this point. Who wants a holiday? It is just like ballparks and stadiums. Welcome to ABC Company Field at Web-based Flavor of the Day Stadium, Home of the New Trendy Mascot of Up and Coming big City in a mediocre state. The only thing worse are those two football teams in the Land of Evil that play their games in a neighboring state, in the same stadium. What a crock!
You know, while I was enjoying a Celtics playoff game on TV, watching the crowd go wild at The Garden (not the Boston Garden, but preceded by a brand name bank - but at least they included the Garden, unlike their predecessors), I started waxing nostalgic for the Gahden. 100 plus degree playoff games on the parquet with the dead spots. Can I get an amen?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Love Boat

April was not a productive posting month for me. In large part this was due to the family vacation we just took, a cruise from NY to Bermuda. We loaded up the family truckster, drove to NY, and boarded the Love Boat. Demi and I had been contemplating a family vacation for months. We pondered the Disney vacation. We looked at a trip to the Bahamas. Demi and I met in the Bahamas, and part of the inspiration of for the trip was our 10th Anniversary. Demi then started researching cruises. With airfare so outrageous these days, the driving aspect to NY seemed very appealing.
Family vacations are all about quality time together. Our stateroom insured that we would be a tightly knit group for the week. The kids called the room, The Closet. The might be overestimating it. But we were only in there to sleep or to change for dinner.
It was more than a three hour tour, but at the start, the weather was rough. The big ship was certainly tossed. Fortunately, I don't get seasick. Demi to a certain extent, and Coco do get motion sick, but not one of us had an issue. The boys were a little off the first day, but rallied soon after breakfast. They are troopers.
Some of the highlights:
Each family member got to pick a restaurant for dinner - this inspired some great family conversation about menu choices, favorite meals, favorite desserts, etc
The boys did not eat off the kids menu once - Coco's favorite meal? Tie - Jerk Chicken and Swordfish
During a visit to the ship's library, Coco picked out a book for Demi to read - "Charlotte's Web" - Demi read it to the boys all week - at the beach, by the pool, on the bus (we used public transportation to get around the island)
The Crystal and Fantasy Caves - part of a mile long cave system running under the island - really spectacular
The Swizzle Inn - Home of the Rum Swizzle and of the three flags flying out front, one was a Red Sox flag
The boys got to play with dolphins at Dolphin Quest - they had a blast, shaking hands and fins, splashing, and feeding a mother and her 10 month old baby
Demi and I renewed our vows - I know I may lose some of the fellas here, but hear me out. the boys served as the officials. They were very excited about it. The vows included quotes from Poison and a Night at the Roxbury (which were originally from Jerry Maguire but an acceptable guy movie due to the football tie in) and the boys presided with the "power vested in them by the State of Red Sox Nation"
Really, what more can you ask for from a family vacation? The family truckster didn't get vandalized (being adorned with Boston sports stickers, it was a concern parking it in NY for a week). The dog didn't pee on the picnic basket. And Bermuda was not closed when we got there.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Another Birthday Weekend

Happy 9th Birthday Caz!

My eldest son's last year in single digits. Halfway to college. What a frightening thought. And it's not all about the tuition either. I've said it before it and I will say it again, it goes too fast. Very cliche but that is not always a bad thing. There are good cliches. Classics.

Just when I thought we could scale down the birthday celebration, fate turned against me. Call me old fashioned (and I have been called worst), but I grew up with parties that had the half dozen or so kids in the neighborhood, a homemade cake, and a vigorous round of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. What's wrong with that? These extreme parties just irk me. What kids party needs a limo and tickets to Hannah Montana? Or party favors? We have to have parting gifts? Home version of the Price is Right (my generation will get that)? Not that we have ever tried to keep up with the Joneses. But sure, the peer pressure is there. We just resist it. But I do find we make some small accommodations, so as not to ruffle feathers. It's crap.

But I digress (yes, I know. I tend to do that). Caz's party was a success. Even with rain falling while they were climbing a rock wall. He had fun. We had fun. In the end, I guess that is all that matters.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

TNT - Dynomite

"Because I'm TNT! I'm Dynomite!"

Both boys have been singing that non stop. Caz's friend, Roland, passed on some old Playstation 2 games, including Tony Hawk's. The sound track is all skater punk or hard rock cuts. AC/DC's TNT leading the way. Now, anytime the boys are riding in the car, or eating meals, or just sitting around, I am catching them singing to themselves. It's amusing for Demi and me. And at least it's decent music. It could be Backstreet Boys or some Pop crapola.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Loud Mouth Epilogue

Alls well that ends well. No blood, no foul. Take your pick of happy ending cliches. Again, RJ was showing great command of a situation. The next practice after the incident with the sideline Dad, RJ approached that particular Dad. RJ said that he wanted to start with a clean slate and put everything behind in the past. The Dad apologized for contradicting RJ and then proceeded to help RJ with practice. It's take a stand up guy to admit mistake and apologize. So kudos to both for handling the situation in an effective and positive manner, and coming to a peaceful resolution.

Opening Day 2.0

Today is the Sox home opener. You wouldn't know by the temperature. My brother fell into two tickets, so I was able to attend. The boys were so jealous. The World Series ring ceremony was something to see. The pagentry started with a nice F Off to Hank Stienbrener with the outfiled lined with flags from every country represented by Red Sox Nation (representing countries where Sox fans had sent in emails or photos). The Boston Pops were playing all the John Williams movie favorites. But the first pitch stole the show. Bill Buckner coming back to throw out the first pitch was a great thing. The boys didn't completely understand it, as much as I tried to explain it. But I used it as an opportunity to show them that everyone makes mistakes, it's unfair to blame one error for a game or series loss, and that you can recover from a miscue, not matter how long it takes. Time heals all wounds, right? I think the boys understood the important points.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Uranus - It Ain't Just A Planet in the Solar System

"Inter-Planet Janet, she's a galaxy girl."

This is good timing with the Lunar Journal project. It's no secret that my boys make me laugh. This goes in the all time top 5. As a family, we had a discussion about Caz's lunar chart. His teacher had explained some of the constellations that the kids should be able to see this time of year. He told the class to keep going out to look at the sky and see if they could identify the constellations. Well, after dinner, Caz gazed out of the bay window in the living room. Then he went and got his little brother. Excitedly he said, "Come here, you have to see this!" Curious, Coco ran to the window and started peering out at the sky. "What am I looking at?" With a huge smile on his face, Caz pointed at Coco's backside and proudly stated, "Well, I'm looking at Uranus!" After a long delay, I wiped my eyes and calmed down enough to explain it to Coco. "Your........anus........ahh....I get it." It's a classic for a reason.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Loud Mouth

It's already time to practice for Youth Baseball. Seems early. But I think that is just because of the New England factor. The first practice was cold. Clear skies, but cold. With all the rain we have had, the ground was sopping wet. But you know what? We were playing baseball. And that makes everything all right.
It was shaping up as a very good practice. RJ decided to coach this year. I told him that I would help him out if I could. RJ still need another assistant or two, so he emailed the parents to solicit another volunteer or two. Well, one other Dad stepped up. And the three of us got the kids started. We got them running to keep them warm. We stretched. And then we began to teach some of the fundamentals. RJ was running a good program.
Then we got a glimpse of what is wrong with kids sports in this country nowadays. With about twenty five minutes left in practice, one of the other Dads showed up to watch practice. Well RJ started the kids on a drill to work on cut-off throws. At this point it was just RJ and me. We each had a line of 5 kids throwing and pivoting. The first time through, the kids did ok. But the second time the kids struggled a bit. As RJ was giving some instruction, the sideline Dad started shouting, "The kids are too close together. Spread them out." I was stunned at first and then just looked over at RJ. He turned over his should and just said calmly, " the kids are having trouble making throw this close." To which the Loud Mouth said very loudly again, "they're too close! Get them farther apart." But RJ and I just shrugged it. RJ and I split up the kids to start another drill and RJ had Loud Mouth's son in his group. The entire drill, Loud Mouth was all over his son: "Run faster!" " Stretch it out!" I am willing to admit that his intention may have been encouragement and that it was the first time I had met this boy. I am not familiar with their family dynamics. I am sure the cut-off drill incident left a bad taste in my mouth. But the next episode just did not come across healthy.
After practice Loud Mouth saunters over to RJ and introduces himself. He says that he wants to help out this season and that he had instructed his wife to email RJ about it, but that she hadn't. RJ handled it very well. He thanked him for his interest but said he had enough help at the moment. RJ said we would see what happens later in the season. Then RJ said he didn't appreciate being contradicted in front of the kids. I am fairly certain it left Loud Mouth speechless. I kept within earshot in case it went badly. I wanted to make sure the situation didn't escalate to one of those stupid news stories where parents get into it during Little League. And fortunately, no blood, no foul.

Rain Outs

"April showers bring May flowers" - One thing spring in New England has is plenty of rainy days. Great time for "spring training" in this region. It is no wonder the kids in Florida and other warmer climate are deemed to have such an advantage. But I digress. The point is that our first Youth Baseball practice was colder than any of the Youth Football practices last fall. And it was wetter. The ground was like a soaked sponge. I had the hood of my sweatshirt up almost the entire practice. My own son however, decided he needed to be in shorts. That's usually the biggest battle. "I want to wear shorts" usually followed by "and a T shirt". He claims he doesn't get cold.....until bedtime when he tries to go shirtless and asks for the heat to be turned up. I know the shorts are a peer thing. I see his friends running around most of the winter in shorts and at most, a hoodie. I usually respond with the classic "I am not their father" speech. An oldie but goodie.
Our second practice was rained out. It wasn't raining too hard but the fields were beyond over saturated. Since I hadn't checked email, I didn't see the cancellation until close to practice time. I had already had the discussion with Caz over appropriate foul weather practice attire. Somehow I had managed to talk some sense into him. All for naught. But for those keeping score at home (and most guys do keep score, let's face it), I gave myself +5.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fool's Day

The National Joke Holiday. The boys are convinced that they should have the day off from school. Nice try by them. Caz supposedly learned the story behind the day at school. According to him, Leonardo Da Vinci's backward code in his journals was discovered on April 1st. I guess it is plausible but I am withholding judgement. Fortunately, the boys didn't feel the need to play any pranks on the old man. We will see how long that lasts.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Come On Ride the Train

OK, Train. Tractor. Pool. Pond. Pond would be good for you. Natural spring water. It's a bit milestone in a young boy's life when he is able to mow the lawn for the first time. We're not there quite yet. But we are making progress. I know there are probably 5 year olds driving tractors in Kansas or Iowa, but we don't get a lot of that in Duxbury. This past weekend was a good time to get the dead grass off the lawn and try to repair the gaps in it. So I borrowed Dad's thatcher attachment (you know he has every tool and gizmo under the sun) for the ride on tractor/mower. After a couple of laps around the front yard, I decided to see if Caz had any interest in driving. I thought he would jump at the chance. We had been having a rough morning and this was my attempt to get back on the right track. He was nervous at first. He actually sat in my lap (which isn't as easy on the tractor as when he was 2) for the first two lap. I showed him the brake and how to stop the mower. I only had it in second gear. I told him that I could run to him if he got into any trouble. After the first lap, he stopped and looked at me. I gave him the sign to keep going. After the second, he stopped and looked at me again. But this time he gave me the sign that he wanted to keep going. So he proceeded to finish the project. I know it's not like we were plowing under the back 40 to make a baseball field. Never the less, I was proud of him. After the mower phase was done, he jumped right into raking up the dead grass without asking. Back on the right track.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lunar Lunacy

This school project cannot end soon enough. I know I was very upbeat about the one on one time that I have been able to spend with Caz. But the project itself? It's getting just ridiculous. After going from bubkis to bonanza, we are right back to being shut out. We has a few more rainy and/or cloudy nights. The next clear night we have....can't find the darn thing. No where to be found. On the following morning, while walking out to my car at 5 AM to go to the gym, I see the moon low in the sky (I was going to say clear as day, but maybe that's a bad analogy). I know I am no astronomer, but what the heck is going on? I don't recall the moon shifting around quite so much. Of course, maybe I was just too busy with like to bother to slow down and notice. But I am the only one crazy enough to get up that early in the AM. So as a 3rd grade school project? What is the thought process there? Can't wait to find out.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Opening Day

Opening Day is always a time to celebrate. Baseball is back. Spring is here.....Well, baseball is back any way. It's unusual this year with the Sox opening up overseas in Japan. Unusual to play 2 that count, only to come home an play more exhibition games. But that is what MLB wants. The boys are fired up, especially Coco. When I told him that the first pitch was going out at 6:05 AM this morning, his first question was: "can I get up and watch it?" He is looking forward to eating his breakfast in front of the Sox. I find myself up early this AM, unable to sleep. And for once lately, it is a good thing. I am restless with anticipation over the Red Sox. I feel like a little kid. And that is promising. We should all feel like that. I am excited for another season, following along with my boys. The games. The discussions. The stats. Father and sons, bonding over America's pastime. All is right in the world. Go Red Sox! Yankees suck!