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.