Friday, December 25, 2009

The Magic of Christmas

There is something magical about the excitement in your kids that Christmas generates. You sense is in the days and weeks leading up to the big day. You hope that the kids feel that spirit of giving. The boys and I have already had a few talks about what the true meaning of Christmas is and what is means to us. We have talked about being thankful for what we have. We need to realize just how much we do have and should be grateful for. We have talked about charities and gone shopping for some of, with the boys picking out items. Demi and I have had discussions about a good scenario for getting the family actively involved in a charity. The boys and I have discussed thoughtful presents for Demi and others.
So on Christmas morning, when the boys faces light up, I really get excited as well. That innocence and excitement are just infectious. Yes, the boys are excited about their presents, but they are just as excited giving presents. They spent hours wrapping presents for the family. The tied bows and wrote labels. The created presents for the family, ornaments, photo albums, and other crafts. The boys really put a lot of thought and effort in the holiday this year. Demis and I are just so proud of them.

Friday, December 18, 2009

NY Ornaments

The boys decided that they were going to make their NY Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins, some tree ornaments. They used plaster of Paris and molds to bake some ornaments. Then they painted these ornaments, a great variety of colors. They personalized the ornaments with each family's individual names. Then they wrapped each one with great care. It was really great seeing the enthusiasm they had while making these items. They really were thinking about creating something nice for their family. It was a fantastic project. We all got something out of it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The List

I noticed Coco's Christmas list on his desk tonight. I almost bust a gut laughing but didn't want to do it in front of him. I was all I could do to compose myself and actually ask him about it. It was a very standard, and surprising reasonable list, right up to the last item. Coco had Bionicles, Legos, ITunes gift cards, Bakugans, all the standard items you would expect. The very last items was a Porsha (the way he spelled it) 911 Turbo. I asked him, "What are you going to do with a Porche 911?"
"Nothing.", he said, "but it makes the rest of my list look a whole lot more reasonable."
That almost sent me right back into hysterics. The kid had the foresight to create a Christmas list strategy. That kid is going to go places.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Griswold Family XMas Tree

We went on the annual pilgrimage for the Chin family Christmas tree today. Great timing on our part. There was almost no one else on the lot. We beating the bad weather forecast for the weekend. Caz wanted to carry the measuring stick around this year. Every one spotted a tree that looked right to them. But in the end we ended up with another chubby little tree. It was perfect.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Personal Days

There's nothing quite like taking that last minute personal day at the most inopportune time. There are just times when you feel like you need a break. This week, I had had it. Work has been excruciating. Life in general has been hectic too. I am really getting into the holiday season. But I have yet to really do Christmas shopping. Tomorrow just seemed like a great day take. It should be a quiet day at work. Every issue at work should be able to keep for a day. Tonight, I can spend a bit of extra time with the kids, reading and talking. Extra quality time with the kids, is a good reason to do anything. I can sleep late. I can do some errands. I think I am going to take care of Demi's Christmas present. It's early but it's a good day to get it done. I like the feeling when the stars align like this.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer

The networks finally decided to show Rudolph at an acceptable time frame this year. In recent years, the networks had started the Friday after Thanksgiving. That is just way too early. At least wait for December. The boys are old enough now to stay up to 9 PM on rare occasion. So Demi made the suggestion that we all crawl into our bed and watch this classic Christmas special. Demi, the kids, Gizmo, and I all hunkered down and had family time. It was a great idea. On commercials, we discussed the themes that were happening: teasing/bullying, being "different", and even the outdated gender stereotypes. You need to take these opportunities as they come. I don't think most of America recognizes these chances when they happen across them.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cold and Flu Season

The schools are really emphasizing good practices and behaviors for coughing and sneezing. Especially, with the threat and subsequent panic of the swine flu. But you can see it is having an impact. The boys are washing their hands frequently. They are using hand sanitizer, but not over doing it. The boys are coughing into their elbows and/or shoulders. I know they didn't have that tip back in the day. I have been trying to follow suit. I won't go within 20 feet of my newborn niece. I won't even sit in the boys beds when reading to them at night. I think as a family, we have been very successful with not passing germs back and forth. I was sick to begin this week with a head cold. No one else seems to be coming down with. I have been going out of my way to contain my germs to a small area. I would not bring it to work either. I kept to my cube. No fever, so I didn't feel bad going in. I called into meetings all day, even if it was with people a few cubes over. You would hope everyone would be conscious of their surroundings. Kids at least have an excuse. Adults? Oy....

Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Magic

Well, I believe we reached another parenting milestone last night. Milestone may not be the right word though. I don't want to imply that it was some achievement that was reached. You just seem to know when you have one of those moments in your life as a parent that is significant in the development of your child. You just know, in that moment, that your child and you will remember it for the rest of your lives. Because you remember when this particular event from your own childhood.
Last night we had the Santa talk with Caz. To be fair, Demi did most of the talking. Caz finally got the nerve to ask about Santa outright. I think we were fortunate to get this far. I think Caz has some serious suspicions last year. But he still had enough of that fear of "what if I am wrong" to keep him from asking or actively trying to verify his hypothesis. This year, he overcame that fear and fired that shot across the bow. But it was still posed with a lot of hesitation. Demi caught the brunt of it. She tried to appeal to me for help with the patented eyebrow raise. But I was really concerned that I was not catching the right signal. I really didn't know which way she wanted me to go. No way was I blowing this one. I hadn't caught the first few questions. The last thing we needed was to take a pitch when a hit and run was called. It wouldn't be the first time. By the end of it though, Caz had his answer. He also seemed to understand that this conversation was top secret. He was not to discuss this with any of his friends, and especially not with his brother. I think he got the point. I remember my own conversation with my parents. Having a little brother, I got the same follow up talk. And I got the point too.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Bowl 2009

Happy Thanksgiving! Football and food. This could be the best holiday every conceived. Almost. This has actually been on of the Top Thanksgivings in Chin lore. Usually it is the days leading in the create the stress. I can't really complain, as Demi does the lion share of the work and preparation. But I feel like I can't sit when I get home at night that week of Thanksgiving. There's cleaning, brine, prep work, and the general organized chaos that goes with each holiday. Even more so when you are the household hosting the big meal. I dreaded the lead in even more than in years past, since Demi was very sick the weekend before this Thanksgiving. This may have actually lessened the stress, since she could not be up and about until 2 days before. I did actually try to clean the place but believe it or not, that is normal. I generally clean a lot on weekends. While I cook the boys breakfast, I seem to constantly be cleaning up the kitchen. Boys are indeed gross. They make a mess. You would be surprised by the debris they leave in their wake when the just pour themselves a drink. Even sick and with limited time, Demi outdid herself this year. I think she had the perfect amount of appetizers, sides and turkey. The turkey itself was outstanding. Between the brine and the hours she spent on line tyring to find the perfect way to cook a bird, this was the juiciest turkey ever. Coco was actually her sous chef. He was great. He was full arm deep into the bird, rubbing butter and spices under the skin and on the skin. He stuffed the cavity with veggies and herbs. He peeled the sweet potatoes and orchestrated the whole sweet potato casserole with crushed pecan topping. He was very proud of himself, and he earned it. Demi should be proud of herself as well.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Raking Leaves

An amazing thing happened this past weekend. I asked for and received immediate help with the yard work. I actually didn't even utter the words "rake leaves" but before I could get out there in the front yard, Caz was already out with rake in hand. Coco was on his way too. I don't want to imply that the kids never help. But usually there is a fair amount of cajoling, bartering, pleading, whining, and/or complaining, by one or all of us. This time it was pleasant and respectful all the way around. It is one of those times that you can sense that your hard work in parenting is paying off and maybe, just maybe, you are doing the right thing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dancing with the Stars

Caz started ballroom dancing this year. Coach Lenny and I compared notes, and this class of students, meaning the 5th grade in general, does everything. And they do it all together. This class participates in everything. Especially the boys. And actually, in this ballroom dancing class the boys outnumber the girls. Caz looks likes such a young man in his suit and tie. He went willing with Demi to pick out the whole ensemble. He requested a black suit and tie. I am fairly certain it was so he would look like MIB and/or FBI. I ask him what he learns each time. He sort of shrugs it off, giving the standard replies: "Nothing" or "Not much". But that goes for school, football, and other activities as well. I think he secretly digs it.


Proof that our environment is getting more and more out of control each day: I now have to dodge coyotes on the highway on the way to work. Around 5:30 AM, on my way to work, I had a medium size coyote (and yes, I now see them frequently enough to be able to gauge the average size of an adult coyote) dart out in front of me on the highway. Fortunately for both of us, it was far enough ahead of me and I had my eye on it the whole way. I was able to not have to swerve or slow down a whole lot. Progress and evolution just changing out environment rapidly.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Adventures in NH

Family vacation time again. I am so glad that we are able to get back on track and take a weekend hiatus this year. We really missed it last season. Football season with two kids is always hectic. But this season, with kids in two leagues, it was even more so. I think Demi and I actually worked a bit harder, so that we didn't short either league with our volunteering. Although, I think if you asked either league, they may not have agreed. You can only be in one place at one time. Fortunately, there was not a whole lot of overlap during games.
I really enjoy our weekends in NH. This time of year is just so peaceful there. It's after summer resort, lake, and family attraction season but still before ski season. We did some of our usual hikes. But this year we got to share them with my brother and his family. It's like seeing the place for the first time. You get a fresh perspective with the rookies along. It was nice to spend some time with them too.
I think we ate a whole herd of cattle though. BBQ almost every night. Coco started the trend. He ordered the ribs the first night and ended up with the best meal by far. We ordered him a full rack figuring we would pitch in, but that little bugger ate the lion's share by far. I don't know where he packs it on that skinny frame. Here I was trying to set a good example by ordering something I hadn't eaten before. Rainbow trout. It was fine. Demi hated it, and she loves fish. But I got scrod. I should have gone with my initial instinct and gotten the burger.
The boys really traveled well. No DVD player. No movies. They actually napped a bit. No bickering. We played some family games. The "initial game". There are actually two version of that game. The traditional you have to name a famous person who's first name begins with the first letter of the last name the player before you uses. Double letters reverses directions. In college this was played with the "drink while you think rule". Then there is guessing the initials. The person has to be known to all players. It usually ends up being a hybrid of 20 questions too.
That is the quality family time that is precious. That is what these trips are all about.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Coach's Log - Part 2

Being the head coach of Coco's team was challenging to put it politely. To tell the truth, it was a nightmare. I have mentioned before that as a class, Caz's grade is the gold standard for athleticism. So I try to keep that in perspective. But Coco's class? Well......not quite as fortunate. Just not the same caliber.
Mite level coaching is always a challenge. As much as one think they have loads of football knowledge and experience, it is quite a different endeavor to communicate that knowledge to 7, 8, or 9 year olds. I feel for teachers. I only have them for 90 mins of practice a couple times a week. Duxbury separate their grade schools. K-2 are one school and 3-5 are at another. Now to say that the K-2 school is over nurturing, is a vast understatement. "Hands are for helping" Great for school. Lousy for football. It's hard enough to get kids past their instincts. Running full speed and creating a big collision with another moving objects, is not a natural reaction. Add the very passive undertones of our daily education to the mix and I had my work cut out for me.
I had quite an array of talent. I had one kid that was on his back, wailing most of practice. He wailed, "he's trying to kill me" during his first contact drill. I had kids that didn't really want to be their. Picking daisies in T-Ball is not the same as picking daisies in football. It can get you or someone else hurt. I had some kids who were really into it. But they became my shadow. I had some very hyper personalities. I had some kids who were athletically gifted but directionally challenged (had trouble with left and right). But overall, they were a good bunch of kids. The kids I can deal with.
The parents on the other hand? Well, it's like any youth sport. You have some really good, supportive parents. Even some of my good parents were high maintenance. Constantly needed something. I am a planner, but I think a few have OCD. Every email I sent generated a dozen questions. Then I have parents that really needed their hands held throughout the season. I did try to create open lines of communications. I wanted to head off any grumbling or "why isn't Johnny the QB?" talk before it happened. I would rather parents come to me that b*tch behind my back. I had some very open and honest dialogue and I think folks respected that. But I still had one mom that wanted to be my offensive coordinator. I did hear she'd complain that I couldn't get the kids to block for her "gifted and special" son. Meanwhile, special son ran left when the play was called right.
Some problems were my own doing. I was trying to be a nice guy. I had one kid that was too old for my team, and two kids that were over the weight limit. But they all wanted to stay with the team. So I had kids that practiced but didn't play. In extra games (non-playoff impacting games commonly referred to as JV games), I would have to get special permission from the other coach for these kids to play. I had to generate these extra games to accommodate my large roster. After being told that as a coach, I would control my roster and limit it to anything 25 or over, I was informally told by the Board President not to say no to anyone. Even though 6 or so parents, could not be bothered to sign up by the deadline. So I signed on for 8 games and ended up with 12. We were 0-7-1 in official games, so there was no postseason impact there. Trying to balance all those games, in addition to Caz's games, was a logistical cluster.
I will spare you all of the in depth details. But I really did not enjoy coaching this team this year. I know it's awful to say. But it's true. I relay don't know that I want to do it all again next year. I will not pull a Brett Favre. So I will not voice any hint of a decision at this time. I do need some time to pass to gain some perspective.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Coach's Log - Part One

This was a very interesting year of coaching. I thought this year might be a lot like last year, all Coco's team and none with Caz's. But I was hopeful that it might be different. I was hoping that I might be able to take an active part in Caz's football season.
Caz was in his new league. No only am I a head coach in the "other" league, but an active Board member as well. I had inquired into attending the Board meetings of Caz's league, just to get sense of what goes on and how things are handled. I didn't end up going but I did make it clear that I intended to support my son and his team in his league, just as much as I would for my youngest son. So the first week of preseason, I made my pitch. Oh, and did I tell you that Caz's head coach was also the President of the league. If ever there a man that had a lot of reasons not to accept my pitch.......I offered to hold tackling dummies and keep my mouth shut, whatever he wanted. As I pointed out in my preseason blog, I was very impressed with the early practices. I thought he ran good practices, and motivated the kids well. He instilled discipline and was tough, but he reinforced with positive teaching. It was my mentor, Coach Lenny, that started my involvement with the team. He beckoned me over, when I was hanging out, watching practice. He had me help out on Defense, like we did in the old days. At the end of practice, Caz's head coach, Gino, has each coach speak to the kids. He saw me helping out Lenny, and asked me to join in on the end of practice talk. He accepted my pitch. And he was very gracious about it.
From there, I helped out as much as I could. I could make at least one practice a week and parts of others. I just jumped right in the old routine with Coach Lenny. I think the first game, really solidified my role on the team. Fortunately, Caz started one week earlier that Coco, so I had no conflict with Coco's practices or games. I could concentrate only on Caz and his team for a weekend. It was a really exciting game. We led the entire game, up until the last 2 and half minutes. Then the wheels came off. But in the process of the game, I established a niche for myself with the kids and the other coaches. I was there to stay.
I really had a lot of fun coaching this team. Certainly, there was a lot less pressure, since I was not the head coach. They were also kids older that I had coached. These kids had a bit more understanding that what I was used to. But I just flat out loved being with this team. I found the joy in coaching again. And for that I am thankful. So I owe a lot to Gino. The man had every incentive and right to send me packing. But he took me in. I think that is a good start for the leagues. Both leagues should have a good repoire. It is supposed to be about the kids. If both leagues and work together, then all the kids win.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tale of Two Seasons

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

Football really took a toll on by blog production this year. Coaching both kids teams left me very little free time. I couldn't even get in my weekly game summaries. I was finally able to watch a game on TV for fun. It was for the boys, so it was all worth it. But life was hectic this season. For everyone.

I am normally a stickler (OK, anal) for getting a certain amount of posts in each month. But rather than trying to draft, edit, and post a series of entries retroactively, I will just create this one time catch up post. I hope to encapsulate the entire season in one entry:

I should probably start with the oldest child. As I eluded to in my preseason posts, this was a turnaround season for Caz. He was re-introduced to football. The right way. Caz found joy in playing football again. That is something that I will be ever grateful. He actually looked forward to playing each week, and going to practice. His first school assignment was all built around a football theme. He took Coach Flintstone's mantra's to heart. He wrote that what he liked about himself most was that he was a "good all around player." He promised to give his every effort to work hard to improve in all areas. I really got a kick out of seeing that assignment at Open House during the first few weeks of school. Such a turnaround from last year.

It may be coincidence but some important parts of the sort clicked for Caz this year. He has always been fast. This year, he was clearly the fastest on his team. He's always been above average in athletic ability and coordination. But there are intangibles that you can't flick a switch to start, coach, cajole, teach, or will to happen. You can only encourage aggressiveness and instinct. Then you have to be patient. Either it will happen or it won't. I know my first year of playing football, I was very tentative and cautious in games. I was that way in practice to an extent, but more so in actual games. (No doubt about where Caz got his yeoman's share of the caution gene)

This year, right out of the gate, Caz was attacking on defense with his tackling. He was hitting. He was running with purpose and running hard. In his first game, he made a couple of bone jarring tackles. I took to showing him some videos of Walter Payton and Earl Campbell before his games. I was illustrating how they ran hard, didn't hesitate, and delivered a hit, even while running. They were aggressive and hard hitters, but on the offensive side of the ball. It really resonated with Caz. This was reinforced by one of Caz's coaches, who kept teaching him how to stiff arm defenders. Caz was able to takes this coaching and put it to use on the field. He really ran hard. He punished defenders. He had the longest runs from scrimmage on the team this year. He had a 45 yard TD run and a 65 yard run that set up a TD. (Since the team only scored 3 TD's all season, he accounted for 33% of the scoring). Unfortunately, I didn't see either of them. But that is a story for another post.

On defense, Caz started the season at CB. That is a key position for this age. Since there is not a lot of passing, I am not billing him as the second coming of Neon Deion. But if a RB gets outside and to the sideline at this level, it's a sure fire TD. So you need a disciplined kid, that will stay home, and hold the edge of your defense. While as a parent, I might debate his level of "discipline", he does do what he is told. He actually does listen to his coaches (yes, even including his old man). He really played the positions well. So well in fact, that with his new found size and willingness to hit, he was moved to DE. This is the other key position on D for holding the edge and containing the other O from getting outside. His first foray into the position was decided on game day, by my mentor, Coach Lenny. He got a 5 minute tutorial before the game, on how to play the position. It was totally unfair to have any expectation of sustained success. But that first game, he looked like a natural. He really played a monster game.

I can't say enough about this season for Caz. It was really fun for all of us.

Moving on to my youngest son, I can tell you that he still loves playing the game. Even with his old man as full time head coach this year, he still had fun. Coco remained a solid tackler. However, he seemed to become a bit cautious this year. Yes, it may mean that he was fighting his old man's genetics. But it may also be a function of his strategic thinking. Instinctually, he is a fighter. He attacks on D. But he's really a strategist too. It may be, that it was taking too long for him to process and decide his strategy. I may have play the "football is a thinking man's sport" card too often.

Coco played a number of positions for us on Defense this year. He played CB, DE, OLB, and ILB. Though he's a skinny kid (takes after his mom), he's tall for his age (hoping again he gets the height gene from Demi's side). So he was able to play DE, with not too much problem. But his speed allowed him to play CB and both LB positions as well. He also does what he is told. He had the discipline to hold the edge and contain. For some reason though, he didn't seem to be able to kick it into that extra gear to track down a runner, like he had in the past. I have some theories on that but will save that for my post on my season of coaching. Coco was versatile. And he knew it. He was proud of it. Rightfully so. I knew that I could call his name and insert him anywhere on a moment's notice. I didn't have to explain much. He'd get it instantly. It was a nice luxury to have.

On offense, again, Coco was a renaissance man. He played TB, FB, WB, TE, and G. He ran hard. He was one of the few, and actually maybe the only kid, to run to the hole and not to the QB to get the ball. He hit the hold hard and fast. He ran North/South very well. In the past, he's proven to be very instinctual and shifty. It may have been circumstances (the overall team blocking was suspect) but he wasn't able to be elusive. There was one run against the 4th grade team that stood out, but that's was really it. He knew all the plays though. And he knew where everyone should be on each play. That I can tell you for certain, he gets from his Dad.

Overall, Coco's season was successful. He wasn't flashy, but that is just fine. He was solid. He got the job done. He improved each week. And he had fun. That's really all I can ask of him.

People always say that the winning is not important at those ages. But then they always seem to ask your record. So Coco was 0-7-1 and Caz was 0-8. Both teams struggled on Offense. Both got shut out often. Caz's team scored 3 TD's all season. Coco's only scored 2 more than that. I would guess that Coco's team had a lot more first downs and total yardage. Defensively, both teams would point to that as their strengths. Coco's team was probably stronger on D. Both teams struggled from bouts with poor tackling and lack of aggressiveness. Both teams seemed to start games slowly. So while there were no wins, the kids shrugged that off. I wish I could say the same of all the parents. This kids got better each week. And the kids had fun. I declare both seasons a success.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Reading Continues

Both boys have started to read the Artemis Fowl book series. They have really put in large chunks of time into reading. As a result, I was happy to go out and buy 3 of the books in the series. They really seem to be sharing those well. And since they are both reading so much, they are both keeping pace to be able to switch books and not have to wait on the other. It is a good series. The classic kid genius tale seems to have that universal appeal with children. I have read this series as well. I guess that makes me a big kid. But that is nothing new.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Things Are Looking Up

Caz seems to really be enjoying himself in his new league and on his new team. Not only that, but he seems to be thriving. He seems to have decided to put his physical skills to use. He has always been fast, but speed will only get you so far. He is on the taller side for his grade. While his weight may be on the lighter side, he is using leverage. Caz has also made a conscious decision to hit. That is just something one cannot teach.
I do like the coaching he is receiving. This years head coach is firm and preaches discipline. He also does this in a positive manner. He demands the players' full attention, respect, and effort. But he also encourages and provides both positive and constructive feedback. The team really seems to respond to this, and Caz especially has taken it to heart. I really hope this trend continues. This is starting to be such a better experience than last year for Caz.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer Turns to Fall

How does summer end in mid-August? Sign your kid up for football. Equipment was handed out over the weekend and practice starts today for Caz. 4 days a week of football practice for the next 3 weeks. Preseason can really take its toll. At least there are not double sessions. Coco gets his equipment this weekend and the head coach (yours truly) scheduled the first practice for the Monday following. The Mites and parents are in for a bit a rude awakening. This is not Mighty Mites anymore. We have league rules and moved up a division this year. They thought we played big towns and kids last year. They ain't see nothing yet. At least there is a weight limit this year. That should help level the playing field a bit from last year.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Last Hurrah

"Start spreading the news....."

One final weekend at Mom's on the Island. Family road trip. Demi's mom is finally selling the house and moving full time to FL. It was only a matter of time. I know this will be hard on Demi. There are a lot of great memories in that house. The boys will miss it too. Even though we have been spending more time staying with Demi's sister while on Island, the boys have spent a lot of time there at Mom's over the years. It has been the site of many Christmas festivities and family events.
The boys are really traveling well these days. No movies. No constant stopping. I think we stop more for Demi and Gizmo. The wee wee jug gets used here and there but for the most part, the kids are champs at holding it. We use the third row seating so each kid has his own space. They fall asleep halfway into the trip. And better yet, they wake up enough when we get there to walk into the house and crawl into bed. We listen to the Sox on the radio. They play Nintendo DS for a bit. Demi and I still limit their electronics. It's not all video games and movies the whole way. We haven't even packed the DVD player on a few recent trips. Caz does have an IPod nano that has video capabilities. He has a season's worth of Mythbusters on their to keep him busy. The kids have always been decent travelers but they are really pros now.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Reading Challenge - Update 7

Coco is now done with the series. He read 600 pages in a little more than a day. He told me when I got home that he was done. He also told me that he wanted to read the Tales of Beetle the Bard. He finished that one after dinner. I really do marvel over what he has done. The amount of reading he has done is truly astonishing. We had a little wrap up quiz and discussion about the last book. Coco really had good insight into what he was reading.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Reading Update 6

Coco is now onto the last book in the series, The Deathly Hallows. The kid did slow down a bit but he's still a machine.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Reading Update 5

Coco is done with book 5 and on to The Half Blood Prince. He's really cranking out these books. I think basketball camp might put a crimp into his reading time though. I am very proud of him. He answer all my questions and offers some opinions and thoughts of his own. He's really paying attention to what he is reading.

Magic Tree House

The kids and I started building the requisite childhood tree house this weekend. The kids has picked out a spot with Demi a few weeks ago. Of course it was not where we had discussed even before that, but it will do. If the boys have their way, it will reside in the tree tops of the tallest pines we have. I think it will end up being a comfortable 7 feet off the ground. It will be interesting to see how the project goes with Dad and boys working together. I have a coupon from Coco entitling me to his help on the project. Caz is fired up for it and at an age that he can really help out.
I have to admit that part of me wants to out do the one my dad built for my brother and me. That one was barely 3 feet of the ground. Dad did well though. We used that quite a bit while growing up. But it will be a good benchmark for me. I will have to compare our tree house to pictures from my childhood, when it's done.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Movie 6 came out at midnight today. I am not quite that hard core where I was going to a mid-week midnight viewing. No, I was not going to pay for that trip for the rest of the week. I am very excited to see this movie. And I am looking forward to taking the boys. I think Demi is actually into it too. Selfishly though, I am not going the whole weekend without seeing this movie. Even if it is perfect beach weather.
I had a discussion with Coco too, to motivate him. As if he really needed it. The kid is really impressing me with his reading this summer. He is on book 5 by the way. He spent the whole day reading 350 pages of it. He told me that ideally he wanted to read book 6 before seeing the movie. I told him he'd better get reading and that I wasn't waiting to see the movie. He'd better be ready on Friday......

Monday, July 13, 2009

Up the Creek.....

Well, I certainly hope the Duxbury Bay Maritime school actually give the kids paddles during kayak paddling camp. I think this will be an interesting activity for the kids. Especially if the poor weather conditions keep up. Cold, wet, and rough seas. Not exactly a recipe for success. But....the kids are going to get wet anyway. I think the kids will dig being in their own kayak and fending for themselves. This is one of the many reasons that I love living where we do. Where else to you send kids to paddling camp, 5 minutes away from home? It's an easy thing to take for granted but I try hard not to. I impress upon the kids that this is an opportunity that not all kids have. I think they get the point.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Summer Hoops

Caz is doing a summer basketball camp this week. I am glad he decided to do it. I remember spending a lot of summers playing basketball and attending basketball camps. This camp is actually run by my old high school basketball coach. He was taken aback that in his 20th year of running the camp, he finally had a child of one of his former players attending camp. It said it made him feel old. That makes two of us. It's an erie coincidence that Caz is scoring well in his evaluations in rebounding and defense, the trademark strengths of his old man. Those areas of the game were my bread and butter. He received a comment that his coach appreciated his energy, especially on defense. Somewhere I am sure there is an evaluation from my old camps that says the same thing.

Reading Challenge - Update 4

Coco is on to book 4 - The Goblet of Fire. This is the book that transitions the series to the more adult audience. The boys have seen the movie, and we had this talk at the time it came out. I felt the need to reiterate this to Coco. We talked about how there were bad things that happened and that it was just a story. But if Coco was bothered by any of it, had questions, even questions about some of the vocabulary, that he should write it down and we would discuss it. Coco had a list of words ready when I came home tonight. Apparently the talk sunk in. Another one of those moments that seem to indicate that I might be doing something right with my parenting.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Reading Challenge - Update 3

Coco has finished book 3 and decided to go back and read Sorcerer's Stone. He's been so good with the books that I let him use my hard copy of the book. We had a slight incident with Gizmo and a paperback version of Chamber of Secrets that got left on the floor. Not that Gizmo wasn't too blame but not a good idea to tempt fate. This kid is cruising in his reading endeavors. I am very impressed with him.

Friday, July 3, 2009


We spent the night tonight out at Marshfield beach, watching the local fireworks display. This annual event was a tradition when I was growing up. It is amusing that the tradition is carrying on to this generation and my kids. It's very much Americana at it's finest. The Flag. Apple Pie. It's all good. The boys really enjoyed themselves this year. Caz was not digging the loud Booms last year, but all but dismissed them this year. It's really impressive, this amateur display. These folks must have spent a small fortune on fireworks. The crowd was well behaved this year. This probably was due to the extreme high tide, hitting at 9:35. Not much beach for the seedier element to wander around on. I told the boys that the celebration was in honor of their new cousin coming home today. I don't think they were buying it. But they got to stay up to 11:30 PM, so they were ready to humor the old man.

Coming Home

My brother and sister in-law bring my niece home today. It's always exciting, that first trip home with the new baby. I remember putting the car seat in the back of my old, been around the block (OK, quite a few blocks) silver Buick Century. I checked and re-checked the set up to make sure it was by the book. And then I checked it again. I drove like a first time driver right after getting that learner's permit. I checked my rearview and sideview mirrors before starting the car. I flashed my turn signal very early. I probably put it on when I was even thinking about turning. I drove exactly the speed limit. I remember pulling into the driveway. It was sort of like crossing the threshold, the first time as a married couple. Honestly, it was a bit better with the baby. That may have had a lot to do with not being 2 AM after a long night of celebrating and knowing I had to get up in a few hours to leave for the airport. I hope little brother finds it just as exciting.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rain in the Summertime - Again

It is hard to believe it's summer. We just complete the month of June with 4 days, over the course of the month that didn't rain. 4! Can you believe that? And through it all, there was talk in the local paper that the town Selectmen were considering a voluntary water ban. I have set a sprinkler all of once. The day I put down fertilizer, I put out the sprinkler to wet down the lawn and soak it. To this point, I have still not put in the window AC units.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reading Challenge - Update 2

Coco just finished the Prisoner of Azkaban. He has decided to start from the beginning, before moving on and read the Sorcerer's Stone. I am very proud of his reading and determination.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Uncle Chinny

I became an Uncle today. And more importantly, my little brother, Lex, became a Father. I am the proud Uncle of a beautiful baby girl. She was born at 12:39 PM, weighing in at 7 pounds and 14 ounces. Mom, Dad, and Baby are all doing well. It was a long, painful wait that ended in a C - section for Mom. But it was well worth the wait. She is definitely a Chin, with a good head of black hair already. Very exciting stuff. Perfect for an uncle. I can fawn all over her and not have to change any diapers or get up in the middle of the night......

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day 2009

Happy Father's Day 2009!

One might think that spending Father's Day at a memorial service is a poor way to spend the day. But it really helps to put things in perspective ("Too much F-ing perspective!" - David St. Hubbins). This was the service for our friends/neighbors. The tragic loss of the son makes me appreciate the time I have with my sons and thankful for our special Father/Son bonds. I can't imagine life without them. May all you Dads have a great day!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Reading Challenge - Update

Coco finished the whole Harry Potter book (Chamber of Secrets) before school got out for the summer. He has started his second book.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Season's End

The end of baseball season is here. Good from a rushing out of work to make games, car pooling, and nighttime - shower, dinner, and bedtime chaos perspective, but sad for the boys that enjoy playing so much. With 2 games each a week (and hardly ever on the same days), 4 nights out of the week are spent scrambling from 7:30-9, trying to get the boys showered, fed, and into bed. Plus I still have to clean up from dinner, make and pack lunches for me and the boys, get my clothes for the next ready with my gym stuff, and maybe actually sit down for a few minutes with Demi.
Caz finished the season very strong. He finally got the bat working, used his speed to hustled out a few extra base hits - including two triples. He fielded well. And he dominated (yes, the proud Dad is speaking and using my own interpretation of events) on the mound. He came in to relieve a struggling pitcher late in the ball game with bases loaded. He got the next three batters out and then threw a 1-2-3 6th inning to get the save in a 1 run game. He pitched two perfect innings two days later. It wasn't the good stats but the confidence and actual pitching that were impressive. He really threw hard and accurate. It was great to see. He believed he could throw strikes, and he did.
Coco finished up strong as well. A fly ball to the outfield is a rare event for AA. A caught fly ball in the outfield is even rarer. Not only did Coco run down a fly ball and make the catch, he doubled off the guy at first base. Now yes, the kid at first ran on contact and was halfway to 3B, but it was still a remarkable play. Coco hit well all season. His coaches say "he doesn't get cheated at any at-bat." He doesn't swing for the fences but he swing strong and hard. He really unloads on the ball. He also was a vacuum at 1B, scooping up everything thrown close to him. He may really great plays in the field, especially at SS, charging ground balls and throwing out runners at 1B. The kid loves to play the game. Loves everything about it, hitting, throwing, fielding, stats, and obscure facts.
I probably should have said that playing baseball is over. But baseball itself is never over in our house.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Challenge

I really wanted the kids to continue their well established reading habits over the summer, after school ended. So I issued a challenge to both of them. I had tried showing Caz a few options to pick a book on his own. But he still seemed to need a bit of a prompt. I ended up sort of picking for him. I used a selected cover story and some salesmanship to push a kids classic, "A Wrinkle in Time". I actually don't remember much about it, other than I enjoyed it. Based on his current reading choices, it should be right up his alley.
For Coco, I really raised the bar for him. I challenged him to read one of the Harry Potter books. I figured it would keep him busy most of the summer. I also knew it would help with the build up for the new movie. It would also reinforce a discussion we had had about why books were better than movies. We talked about how movies had to change stories and couldn't include every detail the book had in it.
I am excited to see how the boys do with this reading challenge. I hope they take it to heart.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Movie Review - Star Trek

I have to confess that I was really excited to see the new Star Trek. I was very curious to see how good it was. I was anxious to see how they would treat a young Kirk and Spock. I was interested to see the influence of JJ Abrams on the movie. I wasn't that concerned about the casting. Whoever was cast, had a great challenge ahead of them. I really didn't envision taking the kids to this one. But it ended up that I took Coco. Yes, I took the younger child. It was a PG-13 rating, which they had seen before. I figured it was mostly action violence, like Star Wars. Maybe some language concerns. The only troubling thing for me was Kirk's proclivity for sleeping with women. I figured Demi and I could cover his eyes and ears if need be.
This movie was fantastic. The story was great. The back story on the beloved main characters was well crafted and presented well. There was an excellent cameo. The action was fast and furious. The effects were incredible (a far cry from the technology available to the original series). The actors seemed to pay the right amount of homage to the original characters while putting their own stamp on the roles. I don't see any Oscars, but these folks started with the deck stacked against them, by arguable the most ravenous fan base in the world. They should receive a lot of credit for the work they did. Coco walked out flashing the Vulcan V sign and murmuring "live long and prosper". I give it 4.5 Chinnies.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Loss

"No parent should ever have to outlive their children"

On the morning of our departure to The Island to scatter the ashes of Nanny Lil, we learned of terrible news involving our friends and neighbor. The same friends had lost their 23 year old daughter 2 1/2 years ago in a car accident. Now, there remaining son, 29, was missing and presumed dead on a kayaking trip in Vail, CO. Quickly the story updated to it's fateful conclusion. Demi and I were very upset and felt just horrible for our friends. All I wanted to do was to take the kids out of school and make sure they were OK. It makes you want to hug your kids and never let them go. But you know you can't do that, no matter how much you want to. You have to let them go, to live their own lives, make their own choices, and face their own adversity. I know I am not quite ready for that yet. And I still have a good 8-12 years before I really have to let go. But that time will go quickly. How will I ever be ready?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Emerging from the Shadows - Post Script

Coco has really been talking up trying out for the 2nd grade All Star team. I am really happy that he wants to try out and is confident about it. Now the kicker. Try-outs have been scheduled for the weekend that we will be going to NY to scatter Nanny Lil's ashes. This is going to be a hard conversation. I had to sound like a bad cliche and say "there's always next year." But it does hold true. The league, of course, can't do a solo make up session. This is going to be a discussion about priorities and taking one for the team. Coco is pretty good about that but I don't blame him for being disappointed. Again, making the team is not the point. It's the trying out that is important. Life lesson. Learning opportunity. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Emerging from the Shadows

With all the talk of Caz's baseball, one would think that Coco didn't play. But he does, and he plays well. He has really shown some good stuff in the last few games.
He is playing a solid first base, setting a good target, making a good stretch and scooping up balls like a Hoover vacuum cleaner.
He is also making good plays at short stop. He's got decent range. He's charging some balls. But more importantly he is making good throws.
He is hitting well. He needs to work on his selection but he swings hard. He makes sure he's not going to get cheated. And he's deposited quite a few directly into the outfield.
The other day he made a great play in the outfield. He made a great catch of a fly ball (which is a rare event in AA) and then threw to first to double up the runner who had left to run to second. Coaches, parents and players were going wild over it.
Coco is really becoming his own player and not just playing along, or being Caz's little brother. I know I am proud of him. I hope he is proud of himself. I tell him he should be. Hopefully, he is listening.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Fire on the Mountain

In case you wanted more back up to the age old theory, which I have supported in past posts, that males just can't help themselves around fire, I give you the following. The family had dinner outside on the porch tonight. It was a nice evening, perfect weather, with no bugs. Demi had just gotten a new umbrella for the patio table. She had also gotten a new light fixture to go with it, a sort of candle/chandelier thing. Caz knew that it held candles. He got up from the table after putting his first mouthful of food in and bolted inside. He came back out with a lighter, insisting on lighting the candles. Demi had to apprise him that she did not have the right candles for the new piece. Seeing the disappointment in his eyes, she got up and grabbed 5 candles. At that point, Coco chimed in that he wanted to light some too. A brief argument ensued over who was going to light what. So they each got to light 2 candles. The 5th went to Dad. Of course, I wanted to light one too. I am a red blooded male after all.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Passing of a Matriarch

It took me a while to write and address this. Nanny Lil, the obvious matriarch of Demi's side of the family, passed away recently. It is sad, of course. We will miss her dearly. But she lived a good, long life. And at the end, she was no longer Nanny Lil. Nobody should endure not being themselves. But Nanny Lil, especially, was too strong and too wonderful to live like that. All families have issues. All families fight, or disagree, if you will. But no matter what, everyone could all agree on Nanny Lil. She loved us all, despite our faults. Or rather, faults and all. And those she loved, she loved unconditionally. She would protect those she loved with everything she had. Trust me. You wouldn't want to cross her and have to face her. I loved that she called me Chinny. She was always happy to see me. And I was always happy to sit, have a cup of coffee, and talk with her. We usually had some one on one time over the year. I would get up at my normal early hour, go get coffee and bagels, and sit at the kitchen table at Tess's (Demi's Mom) house. Nanny Lil would be the next up, if she wasn't already up went I went out. We would talk and have a bagel. We would catch up. We would talk politics. We would talk current events. I thoroughly enjoyed those times. And I will miss those times. But I have the memories to treasure for the rest of my time here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pizza Delivery - To The Beach

Beach time is always a good time. It's precious time, especially with the short New England summer season. This was the first dinner night of the season. Demi and I were really looking forward to it. I actually splurged this year, despite the miserable economic markets of this time, to get a parking lot pass for the beach for my car, so that I could meet the family, right after work. Well worth the investment to me. I really didn't feel like grilling though. So....what to do...the answer? Pizza delivery. Yes, pizza. Delivered. Right to your car, on the beach. Brilliant. Unfortunately, despite assurances by our desired pizza place, hours ago, that they would be delivering, their pizza delivery person got sick. We scrambled for back up. Fortunately, we found a place that would meet us in the parking lot. The boys were pumped. Pizza on the beach. And smores over a campfire. What else could you want. Oh yes, the Sox game on the radio. Old fashioned radio with antennae. Very Norman Rockwell.

Monday, May 18, 2009

All-Star Tryouts

Caz decided that he really wanted to try out again for the summer All-Star team this year. He talked about it for weeks. I was happy because he brought it up on his own. He had a better sense of confidence this time around. So, we signed him up for tryouts. Personally, yes, I thought he had a legitimate shot at making the team. I try to be realistic in my assessment. I know that I am very impressed with Caz's arm. I truly believe that he has a cannon. I believe that being told by others that he has one of the top ten arms in his grade, that my assessment is no far off base. But I also readily acknowledge that in terms of pitching, hitting and fielding there are consistency issues. I guess what 10 year doesn't. But when that manifests itself can be key. Unfortunately, the manifested during tryouts. He struggled with the hitting and couldn't find the strike zone. But he tried hard. Caz took the news that he didn't make it well. He was sad, but not distraught. I gave him a hug and told him that I was proud of him. And that is the truth. I was so proud that he tried out and didn't get so nervous that he wanted to back out.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Pool is Now Open

Caddies welcome! 1:00-1:15 PM

And clean enough to eat a Baby Ruth off of. The annual opening of my parents pool is a rite of spring. It announce the coming of warm weather. Every year, Dad primes the pump and adds the chemicals to the water. Dad and I pull the cover off. The cover and the water bags that hold down the cover all winter, get cleans, folded and put away. Sounds easy, but it is time consuming and tedious. As soon as the boys were old enough, I started carting them along to help. Now they are at the age that they both really need to pitch in. If they are going to swim all summer, they need to help work the Opening. Just like my brother and I did growing up, they too shall scrub. I was really proud that when I stuck to my guns and told them they had no choice (not in those words, but that is the short version), that they didn't argue a bit. Even when they got invited to a play date after Kyle' baseball game. I delayed the play date until after the Opening. The boys did good work. Chalk up one Chinny point for me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What 'Til Next Year

Well, Caz and Coco will have to wait until next year at least, for a Stanley Cup to come to Boston. It looked so promising. The stars were aligning. San Jose with Jumbo Joe bowed out in Round 1. The Red Wings looked like they were struggling in Round 2. The Bruins were poised to take down the ex-Whale. Too little, too late. The B's dug themselves a huge hole. They almost climbed out of it. But when you wait to decide to play, you run the risk of not leaving enough time to dig yourself out. And the hole closed on them.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

because "life's a piece of sh*t, when you look at it"

The boys are starting to notice that the days are getting longer, with the sun setting later. As in later, past their bed times. It is never easy to get the boys into bed with a little day light showing past the shades. Now, it is hard to get the boys in from outside, to the dinner table. That is not a terrible thing. But if we are finishing dinner at 7:30 PM, then I have a tough night. By the time I get the boys in bed, clean up from dinner, and make the boys and myself lunch for the follow day, I am lucky if I have an hour from 9-10 PM to sit down and watch TV. And oh yeah, spend a little time with Demi. I guess since the boys still like having the old man around at bed time, it's all worthwhile. It won't be long until the boys are up, talking on the phone, or watching their own shows, and don't want their parents around.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day - 2009

Happy Mom's Day, Demi! Way to go on your run. A personal best of 10 miles. In the gale force winds. Both ways. You should be proud. I know I am. Enjoy the rest of your day.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


I am still pondering the gift that Caz gave me yesterday. I have been grinning like an idiot all day. I am sure folks are wondering what the heck is going on. They probably think I am crazy. But it's all good.

It is also a good way to re-address Mother's Day with the boys. We talked last weekend about a gift for Demi. I really want them involved in picking out a present. They are good about that. One thinks a dress is a good idea. The other thinks shoes are the right ticket. Not bad ideas really. What I really enjoy and appreciate is the thought they are putting into someone other than themselves. This is what I believe really overwhelmed me with Caz's present yesterday. It's not that he usually doesn't think of others. On the contrary, he is a very thoughtful boy. It was the level of detail Caz got into during his thought process and explanation.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


April was a crazy month. I got very far behind in my posts. Normally, I would be too anal (I refuse to use the PC phrasing of OCD, or overly anxious) to post something currently, without first posting by back log. But two important things happened today. Events that compelled me to post today.
The first thing was this morning, Demi's grandmother passed. Nanny Lil was a great lady. She lived a long live of 89 years. She was a very strong person and was the central stabilizing force of the family. I loved that she called me Chinny. I think it amused both of us. While we are all sad, in many ways her passing was a positive thing. Nanny Lil is no longer suffering. Demi is dealing with it very well. So are the boys really. It's funny. The boys never cease to surprise me. I knew they would be sad. But they have been through Nanny Hartwell (who lived with us for most of their lives) and Pop's passings. But the son that I expected to me the most emotional was not the one that ended up having the most blatant reaction. Caz got really quiet. He wanted to know when we would go to NY for the services. But Coco got real quiet and visibly upset. But we had a good talk and a good hug. Ten minutes later he was out playing with this friends. He still had his moments of sadness before bed. Caz did too. Overall, it all went better than could be expected.
-We will all miss you Nanny Lil-
The other moment that got to me today was picking up Caz from the bus. I got home early to get the kids off the bus and talk to them about Nanny Lil. Before I could say anything Caz says, "I got something for you today, Dad" -"What is it?" - He pulled a book out his bag and handed it to me. "I bought this for you because I know who much you like this series." - "Where did you get it?" - "I bought it at the book fair at school with my money. It was $25." - "I love the gift but you shouldn't have spent so much money on me." - "It's OK. I knew you'd like it."
I think it might be the best gift I have ever received. Later on in the night, Caz signed it - "To Dad, I love you always no matter what. I love being your son. I know you love this series and wanted you to have this. Love, your son Caz". What else could a Father ever ask for? Isn't this what fatherhood is all about? I think so.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Caz

Happy 10th, Buddy! I can't believe you are in double digits already. I think that is mainly due to the fact it means the teenage years are right around the corner. Where did the time go?
Well son, 10 is certainly a milestone. Hopefully one of many for you. It's fun watching you grow into the fine young man you are.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools Day

The boys are not that excited about April Fools this year, which is fine by me. I don't have to think up a bunch of practical jokes, nor worry about jokes being played on me. The boys can get a bit carried away with the scope of the jokes. I can just imagine my shaving cream completely emptied into my shoes. So low key is just as well. And as far as I know there is no April Fools Fairy leaving money. At least for that I could use the "April Fools" line when the coffers turned up empty in the AM.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Happy 11th Anniversary

Happy Anniversary, Demi! Sorry to be away for the weekend.

That's right, I will be away for my wedding anniversary. To attend a bachelor party no less. Bold. By all rights, I should probably be sleeping in the dog house. But Demi is good like that. She's very understanding. And updating the score tally as we speak........

Friday, March 20, 2009

Dad and Coco Weekend

This weekend is all about Dad and Coco. Demi and Caz are off to NY to see Nanny Lil. Coco had too extensive a social calendar to make the trip to NY. The kid does have quite the social life. I am looking forward to some one on one time with Coco. We have a lot planned. I think we will do a quick dinner out and a movie one night. Maybe cook in and watch March Madness the next night. When I asked Coco if he wanted to cook his chili, he answered, "Yes." And then he added, "I want to make my mac and cheese too. We are going to feast!" That is my boy!
Not only are we going to have fun, but we are going to get our chores done too. We are going to clean around the house. Coco is going to get his Thank Yous from his birthday done. Got to have that balance. It's not going to be just a frat party. I mean there will be eating, scratching, and body noises, but you know.....all work and now play makes Jack a dull boy.

Skis and Snowboards

I felt the need to report back that the kids first ski/snowboard weekend was a great success. The boys took snowboarding lessons at Wildcat in the morning. We got to the mountain early and fitted them with all the equipment. One thing that struck me was the amount of skiers wearing helmets, including a large majority of the adults. At least the general public showed some sign of intelligence. That doesn't happen to often, so I do feel compelled to note it and relish it a bit.
Coco picked up the board pretty quickly and could get down the small incline first. But he could only go straight. He had a hard time turning. Caz didn't take to it quite as quickly, but I will give him a lot of credit. He didn't give up and kept at it. By the end of the lesson, he was ready to go up the lift and try a novice trail. After lunch Demi took Caz up the lift. I stayed on the incline to work with Coco. He tried one run down off the lift with Demi but it didn't go to well. So we switched him over to skis. He seemed to do much better with those.
But this day was one of those days that parents face a large challenge. The decision to cut some apron strings and let your child grow up, is not an easy one. I could feel the enormity of my decision as it was looming and as I decided upon my course of action. Caz came down the trail after his first run. He seemed to be doing OK and wanted to go back up the lift. Demi and Coco were no where in sight. So I asked Caz to be patient a bit. We waited together. I asked him about his run and how far back Mom and Coco were. He said Coco was falling a bit and not too far behind. I waited a bit longer but I really felt that Caz was ready to go up the lift. So I sent him. I told him that Mom would be right behind him. When Demi got down, Caz was passing just over head on the lift. She was not happy. Apparently Caz had been a bit out of control and had trouble stopping during the run. He "almost when out of bounds and over a cliff". I am sure it was scary and the fact that I made a monumental decision on my own probably factored into it. I sent her right back up the lift, not too far behind Caz. I took Coco to get his skis and work with him a bit. It turned out that Caz was fine. He was up lift and down the mountain on this own the rest of the day. Our time spent hiking in the past had paid off. He was able to follow all the trail markers correctly. I definitely felt good about my decision and gave myself a much deserved pat on the back.

March Madness - 2.0

This is the boys year to be introduced to Bracketology. I gave them Bracketology 101. We all did one sheet together. Everyone had one vote per game. I tried to stay out of it as much as possible to see how their picks would do. The boys were very fired up about the process. They asked great questions about the seedings, how some lower seeds had better records that teams that were seeded higher, and about who had historically done well in the tourney. We had to cram this all in before bedtime but somehow we managed. I think the Final Four looks good, Louisville, UConn, NC, and Memphis. NC to win it all over UConn in the finals.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Very St. Patty's DYF Meeting

Miserable underbelly of youth sports, part two. I have been dreading this night. The candidate for head coach (HC) of Caz's would be team came before the board to present his side of Super Bowl Gate. I may have been overly polite and leaned towards the PC side, but I did address him. I wanted him to state his thoughts on the season. As he was speaking, all I could think of was the Costanza-ism, "it's not a lie, if you believe it." I actually did agree with him on few things, but overall I have a hard time fathoming how he can see it his way. I know it happens, and everyone has their view. But I honestly don't get it.
What really got me was the dishonest. For a coach that makes his team chant "Honor" at the end of every practice and game, the past two meetings were so dishonest, that I needed a shower to get the dirt off me. You have last year's HC saying that he didn't really run the team and that this year's HC was the guy running the show. So he couldn't have been responsible for the oversight of not playing kids. Plus, substitutions were delegate to an assistant. The assistant who is leaving and was the well like HC the previous season. How convenient. And this year's HC saying that he wasn't HC last year. It would have been different under him. Really? Two grown men hide behind each other like this? And their mouth piece, who joined the Board with me just playing Ed McMahon "yes, you are correct sir."
I feel like I am fighting a losing battle. But I guess the important thing is that I am fighting. I fight my way. I am more calculated. I like to plan out my argument. I do try to take the emotional factor out of it. I think it may be hampering my efforts. But then what happens? He who shouts loudest wins? That is the example we want to set? Wouldn't that make me as bad as them?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Another NH Trek

Since we missed our annual trip to NH (Attitash) this past November, we are really looking forward to this trip. We will be joining the owners of the condo, my college friend, Hillary and her husband, Michael. It will be nice to catch up with those two. Hillary was a good friend at Colby. And I think Michael is a great guy. They don't have kids, so this could get interesting. I hope they no what they are in for.
I think there may be too much snow on the ground up there to go hiking. That will be a bit disappointing. We may try to put the kids on skis or snowboards though. I was never a big skier growing up. Demi is a pretty good skier though. And just because I didn't do something, or find a sport/hobby to my liking, doesn't mean I won't try to expose the kids to it, so that they can make up their own minds. I know it's fun sharing something with your children that you enjoy doing. But I also want the boys to be their own person. As long as the family is together, that is fine by me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Where Did I Come From?

My little brother is expecting his first child. These are exciting times for our family. It is also a landmark time in this parent/child relationship. The boys are very excited to have a cousin. Especially a cousin that will be younger than them. Demi and I have take this opportunity to address the age old questions "where did I come from?". Or at least we have started to broach the subject to see if they are curious or see what they know. They did exhibit some curiosity but got a bit shy when pressed further. They claimed they knew all about it. The older one was very sure of himself. Then he claimed Demi had two vaginas. Apparently, we have some work to do......

Monday, March 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Little Brother

Happy Birthday Lex. And it is extra special, now that you are a Dad to be. I think that I might be as excited for you, as you are. I hope you find these postings useful. I know you had the same good role model that I did. So you will do just fine.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Reading Challenge

Coco is still doing really well with his reading. He is in the Enrichment program at school, as he has really done well with his overall schoolwork, but especially reading. Demi and I just signed him up for the reading challenge at school. By mid-May he needs to complete 12 books (2 age appropriate poetry, 4 non-fiction, 6 fiction). He can either read them himself, read them out loud to a parent, or have a parent read them to him. I am willing to bet that he wants to read them all himself. I am very excited to share this news with him. However, I am struggling with the poetry. I do not want to have to resort to Dr. Suess. Nothing against the Suess-meister but Coco is above that reading level. I bet that Coco finishes this assignment early. Very early. There is a book that I got him on Dr. Martin Luther King that I have been looking forward to having him read. So I am enjoying the non-fiction aspect of this assignment.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Really. How excited are we supposed to get over the World Baseball Classic? It's not exactly the Olympics. Or the World Cup. The boys were actually interested though. We have talked about Youk and Pedrioa teaming up with Jeter. The pranks Pedrioa are playing. Big Papi playing for the Dominican Republic. Jason Bay playing for Canada. Dice-K in Japan. At least the WBC is creating dinner time conversation. That I can appreciate. More male bonding with the boys. Actually Demi chimes in too and plays along. She is a good sport.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

LOST - Season 5 - 1/4 Season Review

It seems like a good time to talk about LOST so far. We are about a quarter of the way into the new season and all I can say is "Wow"! Really a fantastic season so far. The writers are answering a lot of questions but you walk away with exponentially more. I think from a broad fan base perspective, some casual fans will be turned off now that time travel has been confirmed. But that is their loss. The connections, the intrigue, the characters, and the plot lines are just well thought out and well done. Who's really the bad guy? Ben? or Widmore? And Widmore led the Others for 3 decades? Go figure. I love that Rousseau was brought back. Jin is alive. Walt is back. Things are good on and off the island.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Demi

Happy Birthday, Honey! You look better than Demi. I hope my Leap Year lassie, has a great day.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Coco

Happy 8th Birthday, Coco! My youngest is really growing up. You are such a little man. I hope you have a good day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Facing Your Demons

The last football season has been well documents. So has my stint on the board. This week we had my third Board meeting. To say it was a doozy is a vast understatement. There were fireworks like the Fourth of July. I knew that the meeting had potential to be interesting, as the Board would be voting in coaches. But little did I know the extent of how interesting it was going to get. I was probably more concerned about having to make my own presentation for coaching, that I really didn't appreciate the possible contentions with other coaching positions. I think I figured that it was a forgone conclusion that last years head coach would run unopposed with little discussion.
But to the credit of our new Board President, he wanted to get everything out on the table. And that full disclaimer started with the Mites Super Bowl. You know. The one hat most of the kids did not play. It got termed a black eye for the program and last years head coach was asked to speak to the lack of playing, and running up the score. The curve ball this year was that the guy who actually ran the team, was running as Head Coach, but he was not able to attend the meeting. Last year's HC, actually admitted that he ran up the score, to settle a grudge against the opposing coach. I was a bit stunned by not only the confession but that I didn't really think the score had but run up. But I couldn't believe that he didn't know how many kids were left out of the game. I think he may actually think it was only a few kids, but as HC, you are responsible to know the whole facts. And then he tried to blame the substitutions on an assistant coach. The previous season's HC, that he took the team from. And the guy he knew was leaving DYF to go to Pop Warner next year.
The whole while that this was going on, my friend, Smalls was taking last year's HC to task. It was getting heated. I did try to interject twice, but others were trying at the same time. Trying and doing are different things though. I did feel bad about not speaking out after, when all was said and done. Immediately after, I felt like I had let Smalls down by not coming to his aid. Actually, I agonized over it the rest of the night. I questioned myself. Did I back down? Did I not shout out because I was concerned about offending the high school coach? And that he might take it out on my kids? Just like, in my mind, I had accused other Board members of ? Or did I make my attempts? Did I not want to escalate a bad situation and have it get out of hand?
What I decided was that my silence was not something born out of fear. The President was moderating, and both times I went to speak, was bring the meeting back to order. Also, there was no good in piling on an argument, as the guy actually running for HC was not there. And the President had already made it clear that next year's D5 Pee Wee HC had to come before the Board to answer for the Super Bowl as well. I also got to counter while making my own pitch for HC of next years D5 Mites. I improvised my presentation to subtly (and not so subtly) include some rebuttal or more truthful view. I also let it be known that I had some question for next years 5 Pee Wee HC. He was running unopposed, which was unfortunate. And his minion on the board did his lawyer thing and made a motion to vote the entire slate of coaches in at once, rather than one by one, because he knew there would be debate on his buddy. I was shocked the President seconded the motion. But it was getting late and we were about to get kicked out of the building. I think he just wanted the meeting over.
In the end, I don't think I let myself, the boys or the program down. I think Smalls may still be disappointed in me. I did call him after the meeting to discuss it, and fill him in on what he missed at the conclusion of the meeting. I do tend to take a more measure and planned approach to things, which not everyone may like. They may not expect it of me either, as I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. But it is what works for me. And believe, I planning on speaking at the next meeting.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Spring Training

The boys are very fired up about the start of spring training. Talks around the table are starting to included signing Varitek, who are starting pitching rotation will be, and will Lowell and Papi be back to their old selves. I do love the change this year that boys want to talk about the Celtics and Bruins too. It's nice to have a little variety. But I also like the boys being excited by all four of the Boston sports franchises. Even if the Grinch does still own the Bruins. There are the Krafts, John Henry, Wyc, and then.........the Grinch. One of these kids is not like the others.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Weekend of Chinny

Think Summer of George.

Demi is taking the boys to the Island this weekend. It is the tail end of school vacation week. However, work is just so hectic, that I cannot get Friday off. So I will be staying behind. I have already gotten the razzing about "Bachelor Weekend", "tearing it up", and "oh, you are so lucky". But weekends are my time with the kids. With my new commute, even though the boys are staying up later each night during the school week, I don't feel that I am getting enough quality time with them. Don't get me wrong. It is nice for everyone to have a break now and then. But three days is going to be a long time. I already know that I will be birthday shopping for Demi and Coco. So in a way, my weekend will be partly spent on family. And of course, I am going to start a fire. Outside. I promised Coco that I wouldn't burn the house down while he was away. But I do have the burning permit. So I might as well use it.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Playing With Fire

"Let me stand next to your fire"

What is it about males and fire? We are just attracted to it. It must be encoded into our DNA. Men always congregate about the grill at a BBQ. The man with the spatula is the alpha male. Men stare with gaping mouths at fireworks. Men love bonfires and campfires. Any opportunity to light on or place something in a fire, is taken. Really. How else do you explain roasting marshmallows?

I was burning some kindling (sticks and branches that had fallen over the lawn during this past winter) in the chiminea, when after 5 mins the boys had bundled themselves up and come out of the house to join in. They had just pooh poohed my suggest that they get outside and get some fresh air. They had stated that they were happy playing a board game in the den. But light a fire, and they will come. This usually attracts some of the other neighborhood lads, but not on this particular occasion. The boys volunteered to gather more sticks and logs from the lawn (bonus for me, I put them to work). Inevitably, they asked to roast marshmallows. Sure. Why not?

If you light it. They will come.

Friday, February 13, 2009

School Vacation - Feb 2009

Let the games begin. The boys are on break. Long weekend for me with Presidents day. That means I can help Demi run the boys ragged for three days to try and tire them out for when we both go back to work on Tuesday. We even got some help from our friends, with a extended birthday party, followed by a sleep over at their house for both the boys. That means a free Valentines evening for the two of us. How novel. Valentines is a whole separate post.
We are trekking up to Nashoba Valley with other friends from the Peterson Farms neighborhood here in Deluxebury, to go tubing. That should tire out the boys more. You know they are going to stay up late and likely be up early during sleep over night. Monday will get played by ear, to see if we can keep the activity level up. The more active they are over vacation, the happier we will all be. I hope we don't get any snow. I probably just jinxed it, but really, haven't we had enough now?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Return of Jumbo Joe

Jumbo Joe Thorton returned to Boston tonight. For the B's, this is "The Trade". Probably not up there with shipping Bobby Orr out of town, but close in B's history. The boys were not really into the B's until last year, so this was not Nomar 2.0 for them. I had to explain the history to them. So there were no tears when this happened years ago. But they got the point. It was a big deal. So Caz was waiting for me to come home tonight, to get the game on TV. He was primed. Fortunately, he saw the best part of the game for a B's fan. The first period. They were up 2-1 when he went to bed. It was hard breaking it to the boys in the morning that the B's went on to get shellacked.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Rough Weekend

If you are one that thinks that your kids rebellion starts with the teenage years, you are sorely mistaken. "Terrible twos" is a misleading term. It may actually start with age two. Sure, there may be some quiet years in between, but kids test you and your limits daily. Don't ever forget that. This is probably why we have a generation of Monte Hall's and hostage negotiators. I could go on a tangent but there are whole classes on the "Let's Make a Deal" method of parenting, and the negative consequences that go with it.
So this weekend was one long test. Caz was really pushing it. Not a stellar weekend in the Chin household. I know my patience was maxed out and I am sure I would be considered a loser in the battle of maintaining my patience. I don't think Caz harbors any lingering ills. Whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger right? We gained strength this weekend.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Coco has been peppering me for statistics all week. "How many assists does Rondo have?", "Who has the most steals on the Celtics?", "Who has the most steals in the NBA?", "Who has the most steals all time?" Non stop with those question. We spent a lot of time on,, and finally Some of the stats were hard to find until I stumbled upon that last website. Fortunately, Nick at work came through for me. Caz started to get into it too. I really love when the boys get so animated about stats like that. The enthusiasm is contagious. And oh, poor me....having to spend time with sports statistics.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

24 - Season 7 - Check In 1

It's been a phenomenal season so far. Jack is back with a vengeance. He still is the best shot of any secret agent. He still has ice water in his veins. Surprisingly, he hasn't had to torture anyone yet. But his new disciple, Agent Walker has. She definitely has some Jack in her. Tony is back from the dead. Bill is running the show. Chloe is a pain in the ass. All is right in the world.
I think the change of scenery to DC has served the show well. The demise of CTU works. It has been action packed from the get go. It is so good to have 24 back.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Groundhog Day

Friggin' Puxatawny Phil! Is it me or does that rodent see his shadow every year? Just once can he come of his hole and give us good news? In the immortal words of Carl the Groundskeeper, "the only good varmint, is dead varmint." At the very least, shouldn't TNT or TBS (whichever station it is) run a 24 hour marathon of Bill Murray's Groundhog Day, a la Christmas Story? It is also the Day the Music Died. That alone should be karma for some good rodent news.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Movie Review - Paul Blart - Mall Cop

Family movie to see the Kevin James, #1 Movie in America. While the movie certainly had a few laughs and a few of those moments that just make you cringe, I would not call it resounding success. The kids enjoyed which is always an important thing. But from an adult standpoint it was not family entertainment for all ages. Not that this had an intricate plot but the editing was poor. You seemed to lose parts of the movie in between scenes. There were some long stretches that were just not interesting or funny (for the grown ups). The movie was interesting in that it was filmed at the Burlington Mall. Catching familiar sights in the background helped pass the time. Overall, I give this only 2 Chinnies.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hazy Shade of Winter

The Bangles version of course.

It's been a long winter. I do enjoy the seasons. But really? Haven't we had enough snow now? I am running out of places to put it all. Just as we start seeing bare ground, we get another snow storm. So you get that great frozen crust under fresh snow fall. It certainly makes walking and driving a challenge.
The boys only concern is that they don't want snow days to prolong the school year. I can't blame them. I remember wanting to get out earlier in June. I do recall the Blizzard of '78 wreaking havoc with our school year. We missed a week of school without power. Now we get the same conditions and it is business as usual. How times have changed.

Letter to the President

Coco had a class project to write a letter to the new President of the United States. I think it is a great exercise and love that the school is placing an emphasis on our country's government. I also enjoy a child's innocent perspective on life. I think most adults will get a kick out of this (abbreviate excerpt):
"Dear President Obama,
Congratulations on becoming President........I hope you are as good a President as George Bush.
From - Kyle Chin"

Democrats everywhere are rolling in their graves.

Wouldn't it be nice if it were that simple? Everyone just stops their b*tching and moaning and just wish a new President good luck and do a good job.