Friday, June 24, 2011

Helping Create One More Baseball Fan Maybe Two

I have also had a great appreciation for sports. For the most part I keep my passion for all things sports on the reserved side. As a father a nice bonus is being able to impart my knowledge and share experiences with my daughter. The range of topics that can flow through the household can be a bit dizzying at times but, always lively and fun filled. With Elle getting older one of the great joys I get to share with her is sports and of late baseball. My introduction to sports was a bit different than Elle's.

When I was growing up I tried to play catch with my father. He was not graced with an athletic bone in his body he was more of an academic. Our time with baseball was short lived after I hit a line drive right into a sensitive area. That ended our outings in the yard. So, what I learned about sports was mostly from watching televised games. Much was learned from trial and error when I participated in team sports. I always felt so behind skill wise. I did always seem to be that kid that was the fastest I just lacked any polish. The best times I had playing youth team sports was on the baseball field. I had coaches that realized I had the asset of speed and motivated me to exploit it. The rundown when they gave me was that I would bunt down the third baseline and just blast off to first and beat out the throw. The bunt signal was great all he would do is scratch his nose. The other part of the plan was just to steal second and third and be in position to be a scoring run. It was simple and it worked. That's when the seeds where planted for my love of sports. Thanks to coach Hurt and Sullivan. Naturally this joy of watching and participating is something that I've looked forward to sharing with my child.

Many of the sports I first introduced to Elle were taken up with much enthusiasm. Once she got the hang of walking she soon started dribbling the soccer ball around the living room. Soon after it was tossing around the football. Living a few blocks away from a college provided a venue for her to she women's soccer and lacrosse. Seeing that then feed into the question of "when will I get to play on a team". The only sport that was a hard sell was baseball. Having a minor league team that's also located a few blocks away provided the opportunity to expose her to the game. But, when we would go she was more interested in the mascot than what was taking place on the field. Which I get it's a difficult game to try to explain all the in's and out's to kid without them glazing over. Mostly I was content with the fact that when it came to baseball it would just be my thing.

Some how this past spring I was pleasantly surprised to make a baseball break through with Elle. It was a beautiful day out and we were looking for something to do outdoors. I happen to see that the local team was having spring training games so I thought let's give it a go. Elle's first question was will the mascot be there with a follow up of will there be fireworks. Despite a stern look she was okay with the explanation that it was just a practice game so the two items are saved for the real games. We arrived at the stadium and it was a little less than a quarter full. So, we could sit behind home plate away from anyone we might disturb. My first thought was maybe she'll make it a few innings and then just be over the whole scene. All of the sudden a flood of questions rallied off from Elle's mind. We actually sat and amazingly I explained the game of baseball and she began to understand what was going on. I noticed she kept on looking over her shoulder which begged the question what are you looking at. "The numbers that show up every time the player pitches the ball, it says 85, that's pretty good." It sealed a successful and fun outing.
That spring training game set the foundation. It lead to sitting in on some more spring training games after I would get her from school and before we had to pick up her mom from the train station. When we would be waiting for my wife's train to arrive Elle would say "I can't wait to tell mom about the game do you think we can all go together sometime soon". We did go shortly after that once the regular season opened up. We didn't spend the game trying to chase down the mascot. We sat together with questions from both Elle and my wife and I was happy to explain. Elle's enthusiasm helped feed into her mom learning about what was actually taking place on the field. We ended the night with the home teaming winning and enjoyed the post game fireworks. Instead of a boring sport that dad would watch on the TV when everyone else was asleep it became something we could share.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

When It Comes To Bedtime My Daughter Is A Night Owl

I believe I’m genetically responsible for my daughter being aNight Owl. Which can be troublesome when we are trying to get a four year old to go to sleep at a respectable time. As parents it’s a trait we are trying to nip in the bud because running a sleep time police state can take its toll as the week progresses. The effect is often evident when the weekend rolls around we are parental walking zombies. Each night my wife and I exchange a hopeful glance without any words being uttered. Click on the link to read the rest of this post at LIFEclectic Magazine.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Reflections on a Father

Many nights when the clock has already rolled around to the AM hours of the next day my mind is still racing between thoughts. During those hours I’m attempting to just shut myself down and go to sleep. Often this approach is unsuccessful and I lay staring at the ceiling fan trying not to look over at the clock. With Father’s Day approaching and the flood of posts, articles and giveaways that arrive at this time, I naturally think about myself and my father. Of course these thoughts arrive when all I want to do is sleep.

In those sleepless hours thinking about my father, I feel I’ve come to a certain peace with my feelings towards him. Previous post have shone a less than favorable light onto my relationship with my parents. But as my mind was racing this past week, no feelings of anger came to me. Which was truly refreshing and a welcome departure from past baggage. Actually, thankfulness seems to sum up what’s been washing over me. Which of course is a completely odd statement because for about eight years I have had not relationship with my family.

I’m not going to rehash the whole bag of nuts that led to my lack of a relationship - back into the feeling of being thankful. I am thankful that my father unintentionally  taught me how to be a good father and husband. Through different conversations about parenting the question that often circulates is “what’s you parenting style, philosophy, etc.?” The answer that come to mind instantly is that I just do the opposite of what my parents did. This may seem simplistic on the surface. The truth of the matter is that it took work, patience and understanding to arrive at the simple “answer”.

Before resentment stirred when I thought of my upbringing. I was fueled in a way by that anger to be better and different. Somewhere along the line, and after many years, came clarity. The easiest thing would be to fall in to the pattern of parenting that my parents laid out before me. Instead of engaging on a wholesome level with my family I could retreat and close myself off. I could also let frustration that comes from external sources flow into our household at the wrong place and time. I fought hard against those thoughts and feelings. But, I realized that there is no need to chase windmills. By my actions in the day-to-day the pattern is broken and by recognizing the direction I want to go the negative is not repeated.

I can remember bringing home a less than stellar report card and my father saying “I just want you to be better than me”. He meant this as being more successful professionally. Which I found difficult having two doctors as parents. I may not have lived up to those hopes, but I think I have in a much more important way. In the actions I take from day-to-day to the years that pass, it’s the doing that demonstrates the lessons learned. This father’s day weekend I am thankful to my father. You did have a very positive impact on who I have become and who I am to my family.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Papa aka Commodore

Before Elle was born one of the debates had by us the parents to be and the grandparents was what they would called. Elle's grandfather wanted to be known as the Commodore. Captain was a close second. Which plays into the sense of humor he has. Once words started to make their way out of Elle's mouth he was forever dubbed Papa. I can see the joy on their faces when Elle runs into their house calling out "Gram, Papa".

Joyful debates are common place when we all get together. One that occurs often between Elle and Papa is whether she's being sardonic or sarcastic. My wife and her father will have more technical debates about aspects of marketing and legal matters. I may have a debate concerning science fiction or super hero movies with him. No matter what we may discuss it's all done in fun. Many of our debates in parenting styles end in my wife saying "yeah, but you dressed me in overalls and gave me a bowl cut". Despite my wife's long standing grudge against her toddler fashion there is a lot of love felt among all parties.

Elle will undoubtedly come back with fun stories after we pick her up from a sleepover at Gram and Papa's. It might be tales of being chased by malamutes or the "three sock rule" (Elle's Papa has a theory about how you can survive off of three socks and film canisters - it's something I learned about in my early encounters before I was married and in honor of that bonding experience he even named his sail boat "three socks" in Spanish). Whatever silliness it might be, the love that he has for her is clear.

One of the ways that Elle's Papa has shown his love and appreciation is in his craftsmanship for woodworking. Before Elle was born he built a crib for her. Soon after that he built a toy box for her and this past Christmas he built a doll house for her. My wife was a little jealous that Elle's doll house was bigger and more intricate than the one he built for her. It's very cool how excited he gets and how much work he puts into doing things for Elle.

I'm very fortunate to have such a great father in-law and Elle is very lucky that she has such engaged grandparents. So, many happy birthdays wishes and cheers to many more. We all look forward to the years of laughs and joy that come with it.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A not so guilty pleasure.

Humor is much appreciated in our home. My wife, Elle and myself share that although we may differ in delivery. Even from our early days of dating, one thing that brought ease to a hard day was enjoying a film or show. To be more specific, if it is awful there's a good chance we'll watch it. So, one may ask "why"? Well, you may not but, for the sake of the post the question is being asked. For your enjoyment the answer to "why" will be provided.

It's pretty easy to find a comedy that will provide laughs. The challenge is to find a movie that was not intended to be funny and extract the humor. One of the great genres for this horror movies. There is an abundance of truly awful films that reside within the depths of this category.  A gem with horrid writing, terrible acting and blunders aplenty will probably be a hit with us. Thankfully the days of aimless guessing at the video rental store are long gone. Between multiple platforms to view videos instantly it can feel a bit like Halloween - you'll get some bad candy but, some good ones will be in the bag, too. The disgruntled screen writer is also the gift that keeps on giving. In this category, one of the best "worst" movies that we have seen so far this year is "Tiptoes" staring Matthew McConaughey, Gary Oldman and Kate Beckinsale. Although not a horror film it has all of the three attributes to be just ridiculously horrible. If I went into details it would truly spoil the whole thing. Let's just say that it's insane to imagine that some studio exec went,"yeah this is good, let's make it".

In the past years what has trumped the awful films for us (especially my wife) has been reality TV. We will partake in the Top Chefs or Deadliest Catches while Elle is playing in the living room with us but, the private stock is reserved for our time. Once Elle is off to bed, we'll have a glass of wine and let the fruit spill from the horn of plenty. Many of the criteria that apply to films also fit in this domain. When my wife discovered an unrated version of "Rock of Love" season one was available to watch instantly I thought she was going to do a jig like an old forty-niner finding a golden nugget. A few newer favorites of her's are "Mobwives" and the "Bachelorette". It serves up laughs that help wash away the weight of a long day for her. I have no problem admitting that I enjoy watching with her. I mean come, on there is a guy sporting a mask - that sold me, it really doesn't matter who the bachelorette might be. We really have to control our laughter since Elle's room is next to ours. Still, we have no shame in our guilty pleasure.

If you have the same affection for "it's so bad it's good" programming, feel free to make any suggestions - we'll give it a try. The only thing that's off limits are shows with "Real Housewives" in the title. That's where we draw the line. Unbelievable right?