Sunday, April 26, 2009

Play Ball!


I do not remember playing t-ball as a child although it apparently had a world series in 1970. I do remember playing baseball where a fledgling post-pampers pitcher would inspire the use of football gear before stepping up bat in hand to home plate. It was a dangerous sport. I even pitched for a short time of course for all I know it could have been a rotating position. According to first hand accounts I was a little "strike zone challenged". The Emergency room probably had a mounted picture with my name under it and the number of victims notched in the base of the frame.

T-ball seems much safer. Well mostly safer unless you assist the coach in teaching the boys how to swing an aluminum bat. Their approximate height puts certain tender regions at risk. Having six children may not be an option if I help out again.

[ Let's pause for a moment while my mom revives my dad with some smelling salts... the mere mention of additional children can send the grandparents in to various forms of collapse. ]

Number of children aside, our first practice was a challenge. Mainly due to the fact that neither Janice nor I are "sports people". The Superbowl, NBA Finals, and World Series are always a surprise (is that THIS weekend? who's playing?) Although we played sports in school we never lived sports. The equivalent being when all you non-art people say "I took basic drawing in college" and follow it with "I needed it to fill my art credit". Nonetheless we are slowly growing in to the "sports phase" of raising children. There are two basic issues that every non-sports person has to overcome: equipment and understanding. We experienced both when we took the boys to their first practice. Nathaniel is the thorough sort that wants to make sure he has covered all his bases (you saw that coming). We assured him we did not need to dress up for the practice but he asked if we could bring the shoes, pants and wanted to know if they would have shirts. He searched the whole house and found both boy's equipment. Benjamin and Nathaniel are on the same team and Ben was just happy to go and do something with his brother. We all piled in to the van and rushed off to the practice.

When we arrived the practice was in progress and we saw a line of boys watching the coach. He was holding a ball in one hand and a baseball mitt in the other demonstrating how to stop a ground ball. I had a sudden vision of a lone baseball mitt next to the couch at home 30 minutes away. We had the pants, shoes, water bottles, sippy cups, 6 folding chairs, 2 cameras, and 20 children's books but no baseball mitts. Sigh. Fortunately the coach had a couple to spare.

The practice is what you would expect of squirrely 5 and 6 year old boys: constant squirming, laying on the ground, pulling up grass, and noticing every movement in the general vicinity. The coach (ironically named Art) is amazing and has been given all the patience that was forfeited by all those cranky people you know. Our boys absorbed every word. One day later Nathaniel provided Tanta Willow with detailed instructions on catching with a mitt, throwing using the "T" then "4" positions, running the bases and swinging a bat. The kids acted out every motion with a fare amount of accuracy. Nathaniel’s favorite part was running the bases and responding to the “stop” and “go, go, go!!!” signals (At the time I was the first base coach which made it even more fun). Benjamin liked throwing. Throwing hard. Both boys had a lot of fun.

Stay tuned for soccer in the summer. Do you think they will still need a mitt?

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Benjamin's 5th Birthday Party at McDonalds


So do you remember the birthday parties back in the 100 billion served days of McDonald's? They came with McDonald's party props, a new offering called "Happy Meal" and the joy of being at McDonald's all wrapped in various shades of lime and orange. Things have changed and truthfully I never thought we would do a McDonald's birthday party but that changed too. It was much more affordable than imagined. In October Benjamin went to a McDonald's birthday party for a friend and decided it was the gold standard for birthday parties. It was nice for Janice and me because there was no time consuming clean up, game or goodie preparation. The party was scheduled for April 4th the Saturday before Benjamin's actual birthday (April 9th). We arrived to find 15 balloons were attached to 15 chairs at which sat 15 party place-mats, and 15 McDonald's party crowns. A lovely McDonaldette greeted us, took notes on what we the party parents would be having for lunch (the parents received a "free" lunch) and gave us the complete party schedule. Everything happened like clockwork, play time, happy meal, play time, cake, play time, presents, play time, and rush to the car so the next party group could jump on the McDonald's party ride. Benjamin's 5th birthday was a joy! We came home to a clean house, sat down and played with toys.

A few days later Benjamin's actual birthday started off with our customary birthday donut just before an extra special field trip to Nathaniel's school where he is to attend Kindergarten. He had been talking about this day for weeks. It was "WOW Day". Parents and child were given a fun filled introduction to the world of a Kindergardener. Benjamin took it as "everyone wants to celebrate Benjamin's birthday at Nathaniel's school" day which was great. Benjamin wore a "Happy Birthday Benjamin" shirt all day and was indeed celebrated all day. Once home again, the boys made a big wheel ride to the mail box and finished off the day with a "Janice made" Transformer birthday cake and presents to be opened.

What a great day! Happy Birthday Benjamin!