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!

Monday, March 24, 2008

March Madness

I really think the title term of this essay means more than just college basketball. Don't get me wrong. The hoops thing is big. But maybe the timing had to do with this transition from winter to spring. I think it has more a "All Work and No Play Make Jack a Dull Boy" - The Shining feel to the catchphrase. The time where you are just getting a raging case of cabin fever. The kids develop a case of it too. It permeates through the whole family. Tensions mount. That line between sanity and madness starts to dissolve and blur together. The anticipation of that warmer weather and the promise of the end of the winter blahs are almost too much to bear. Spring Training certainly helps and eases the transition. It helps pass the time and promises the the hope of a new season. I think the NCAA struck gold by having the field of 64 decided in March. There is no competition. So people become fanatical about it. This time of year, it is almost a battle to get the boys to go outside and play. It's great that they can amuse themselves inside. But we start battling over TV and Video game time. Demi and I try to keep that at a minimum. So they need to find ways to play indoors. Legos have been a goldmine of a find. Coloring is good. Reading works. And we play some family games. The makers of Cranium? Again, genius! They make the best games. I highly recommend Whoonu? Great family game. It doesn't take a lot of skill. And it gets a good laugh every time. Priceless.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I was torn among Journey quotes, a paraphrasing of a scout motto, or something appropriate. But I couldn't choose and honestly, I just don't have it in me. Although I think:

"I'm forever yours, faithfully" is appropriate. Red Sox Nation member for life.

I just finished reading Faithful by Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King, in time for Opening Day. It was nice to reminisce about the 2004 Championship season that changed the lives of generations of die hard Sox fans. In parts it was a bit tedious with the game by game recaps. But the random thoughts, opinions, email banter, and raw emotion of the highs and lows the season brought were very entertaining. I would recommend it for those fanatical members of the Nation.

What really hit home for me was the July 31 diary entry of Stephen King just after he found out that Theo had traded Nomar. Although he was personally floored, he was more concerned about his 5 year old grandson who was watching the breaking news right in front of him. His grandson was confused, upset and hurt. But it all ended with a nonchalant statement; "I guess I like the Cubs now?" I still recall trying to explain to Caz that the Sox had traded his favorite player, Nomah!. It was always Nomah!, with a loud emphasis on the "ah", and never just Nomar. For a while before he could really form the word it was Nomie.

Kids don't know about trades or contracts. They are just young, innocent fans. And for Caz, that was the end of the innocence. But Caz and Coco remain loyal. They remain faithful. They are proud members of the Nation. And yes Hank, deny it all you want, the Nation does exist.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tasting Life

Kids' tastes change all the time while they are growing up. I noticed this in my boys this past weekend. Coco threw me for a loop this past Saturday morning. You have to understand that this boy does not like whip cream, CoolWhip, or cream cheese, in any way shape or form. At least until now. This past Saturday he blew me away by asking for both butter and cream cheese on his bagel. I asked him again to make sure I had heard him right. Then I had him taste a bit of cream cheese just to be on the safe side. He devoured the bagel with his requested toppings. Both boys proceeded to throw me for a loop during Sunday night's dinner. Coco is still on his asparagus kick, so nothing new there. But Demi cooked a new chicken piccata recipe. The sauce was had a very strong lemon taste. It was good but I thought surely it was too much for the boys. Demi served their chicken plain but gave them a small bowl with the sauce to try. After one dip each, they both requested the sauce be put all over their chicken. And they cleaned their plates. It's funny. Kids will test you. They will frustrate you by liking some food one day but not the next. Coco recently went throw a span where he swore he didn't like PB&J's anymore. I think that was more a test of wills but he certainly tried to put his foot down. Demi is great. She keeps getting them to try something new all the time. Or to retry something they have turned their noses up at in the past, but have not had for a while. And on this fine St. Patrick's Day, during a traditional boiled dinner the boys tried the cabbage again. Coco ended up asking for seconds. Keep plugging away Dads. It will all work out in the end.

St. Patrick's Day

The boys want to start a petition to make St. Patrick's Day a national holiday. It is not derived from a link to their heritage or any kind of Irish pride. They mainly want another day off from school. As if they don't get enough as it is. I asked them to tell me one thing that they know about St. Paddy's day and what the celebration is about. It was pretty much dead silence. I can't even give them an A for effort on this one. Their consolation though is that they get Good Friday off this week.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Lunar Talks

One other issue of note from the lunar journal, it has been good one on one time with Caz. We put in a yeoman's effort standing out in the cold, searching the night sky. We pointed out some of the constellations. We have a "thing" about Orion and Orion's belt. For me, it reminds me of my honeymoon cruise when Demi and I attended a basic stargazing session. But the kids and I read a story at night written by Jimmy Buffet and Savannah Buffet called Trouble Dolls. (I highly recommend that for a night time read with the kids) One of the focal points of the book is that particular constellation. When Caz and I had to take to the car to search for some open sky, we had even more time to talk. I wanted to make sure to put it to good use. I asked Caz if there was anything he wanted to talk about. He said, "No." I told him that was OK, but I hoped he knew he could talk to me about whatever he wanted. I told him I hoped he knew he could tell me anything, even if he thought I might get angry or upset. I told him that I might get upset but I would listen first and that we could work anything out. It is more important to be honest and to address a difficult problem than to hide it or ignore. I was definitely laying the ground work. You have to start here, while they are young. It is a process like anything else.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Blue Moon Pt 2 - The Talk

You can't say that we did not make an effort for this lunar phase calendar project. Again, keep in mind the rules say not to use the computer. So the last time I had watched the moon, that is set in my mind, was the recent lunar eclipse. I used that point in the sky as a reference point but saw nothing. I ventured outside, solo because it was cold, to see if I could locate it before dragging Caz out there. Still nothing. I confess. I went to the laptop to see what the heck I was looking for. It was on it's way to new but still about 23% of light should be showing. I loaded Caz up in the car and we drove around looking for better patches of sky. Nothing. Shut out. Thus far, out of 9 nights, 7 have been cloudy or outright raining. One of the clear nights? New moon. Nothing to see. Now with the time change, it gets dark later. I have to change the boys' night time routines (see my recent post - Creatures of Habit -regarding routines). We have to start arse backward to get in the moon viewing. At least now we could see something. Finally! At last!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Rough Draft

Caz brought home some school papers recently. Among them was a paragraph project. Each student was supposed to create a paragraph that showed a sequence of events. The student was instructed to write a first, rough draft and have another student correct it (while the teacher was going over the proper parameters). The student would write another draft, incorporating the corrections by the editor (the other student). This process would go on a few rounds, until at last the student had crafted a final draft. Well, after reading about the project, I thought to myself, "Cool. That should be good for Caz. He likes to write." (Caz wrote his first book at 2 - Batman in History - which was a short guide to Batman's past) As I turned over the instruction page of the project, I notice Caz's topic - The Super Bowl. There it was. Blow by blow. A whole recap of the Patriots last game. Quarter by quarter. The Patriots with the game in hand with 3 minutes left in the game. I can't go on from there. You know the rest. (I am still partially convinced that this part of the game was faked by a conspiracy of international consortiums - sort of like the moon landing....). I went from hopeful intrigue to crushing heartbreak in the blink of an eye. Who says the written word is dead? This child's essay just about drove a stake through my heart.

Blue Moon

Caz has a school project going on this month. Each night Caz is supposed to go outside and look at the moon. Then he keeps a journal on a calendar of how the moon look. Just draw what the moon looks like each night (crescent, full, etc). Sounds simple, right? Well, night one we go outside. Can't see a thing. It's clear sky. We can see Orion. We can see the big dipper. No moon. So we come back inside. The instruction say that if you can't see the moon, if it's bad weather, just write cloudy. So I tell Caz to write "cloudy" for now. Well, I look up the current phase of the moon on the computer after Caz goes to bed. (Note: Caz told me that they were not allowed to use the computer. But I, at least, like to know what I am looking for.) I see that the current moon phase should be 23% full on the way to a new moon. OK, at least I now know there should be something to see. Well, sure enough, on the way to the gym the next morning at 5 AM, there is a small crescent moon just about the tree tops. Great. Where the hell was it last night? Probably below the horizon and below the tree line. So the next night, we look for a crescent. We search the entire sky. We walk up one street and down the other, looking for a good vantage point and breaks in the tree lines. Nothing. We come up empty. What to do, what to do. I tell him that there were some clouds (and there were) and to draw a cloud in front of the moon. The idea for the project is great. Can we pick a month though, when the moon is high in the night sky and about 20 degrees warmer? Man. It that really too much to ask?

PS - Marching

A bit of follow up. I mentioned at the tail end of my last post that Coco followed Randy Moss's stats. Statistics are an entertaining way to spend time with the boys and teach them some math at the same time. Caz definitely takes an interest, but Coco is fanatical and has been for some time. (WARNING: I am fully aware that some of the following can be construed as boasting. OK, so maybe I am a bit. Sue me.) He's been following pitch counts since he was two. SIDE NOTE: He's calling pitches before the umpire these days. Last season Coco stayed very current with Big Papi's batting average and RBI total. The boys and I had a discussion about On Base Percentage. It was our own little Moneyball round table. We had a discussion about Kevin Youkilis, the Greek God of Walks, and his strength of not making outs. I didn't feel up to discussing why Youk's Moneyball nickname was incorrect. I take these stat sessions as an opportunity to do math with the. Example: If you bat 9 times and get 3 hits, what is your batting average? So we do a little division. If a football team is leading 35-14, how many touchdowns does the losing team have to score to tie it up. You get addition and multiplication. Coco likes to point out that TD are only worth 6, so I need to clearly state TD and the point after. The little bugger. Catches me on a technicality will he? I will get him. And his little dog too.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Marching Into Spring

I am ready for spring. The kids are ready for spring. This is really an odd month. No holidays (meaning days off, so St. Patrick's Day not withstanding), no school vacation. At least spring training is here for the Sox. The boys of summer down in Ft. Myers playing in the grapefruit league is always a good tonic for the winter blues. The boys have started indoor baseball clinics on the weekend. Coco is happy because the Pats resigned Randy Moss. I don't think anyone was happier that Coco last season that Randy was a Patriot. He followed every stat he could on Randy.