Sunday, April 27, 2008

It Finally Happened

Yesterday, Saturday afternoon, April 26 2008, at 4:50 p.m., I finally heard three words from my wife I thought I would never hear:

"Honey, you're right."

Note to my wonderful wife: Yes, I'm kidding and I love you very much!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Congrats To A Friend

It is with great happiness that I send congratulations to my good friend Devon Gray, who will soon officially be Author Devon Gray. Devon's manuscript, "Addicted," has been accepted by Wild Rose Press. Way to go, Devon!. Click here to be taken to her blog for more information.

Auburn 5, Alabama 4

Auburn took the first of a three game series against Alabama this weekened. For complete details, click here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

One Down

I came home Tuesday with a sense of relief. Nothing bad had happened. It’s just that my son Andrew’s CRCTs were over.

For those of you whose kids are not yet in school, the CRCT is the standardized testing students go through every spring, testing which determines whether or not students get to progress to the next grade. We have been working with Andrew for what feels like months now, helping him with CRCT practice quizzes in addition to his regular homework. However, it hasn’t been his only activity. He’s had baseball, which my younger son Christopher also does, and Cub Scouts. Andrew’s also been preparing for First Holy Communion, a Catholic rite of passage whereby someone first receives the Eucharist (those little circular wafers). He’s been working on this last one almost weekly for over two years.

Like a typical family with young children, we have busy nights. Sometimes, I go straight from work to a baseball field to meet my wife and the boys. If we’re lucky, it’s a family night out. My wife and I sit in the stands with one of the boys while the other one plays on the field. I also get to eat, as my wife always brings something for me. Most of the time, though, one of us has to leave and run one of our kids to another event or home to study. With the CRCT ending, it’s one less thing to plan for. Within 10 days, Andrew will finally receive Communion, and he’ll have no more special classes. Within a month, baseball season will be over for both boys. There will be scouting events, but maybe we can rest for a while (at least until fall, when both boys may play baseball again and Christopher may want to join Cub Scouts like his big brother).

Oddly, we could have made it easier on ourselves. As Andrew is a special-needs kid, he has an Individualized Education Profile (IEP). Kids with IEPs don’t have to worry about CRCTs. They take them, but they get moved along, pass or fail. However, it’s important to us that Andrew still prepare for these test like the other kids. It also helps us to know how he’s really doing.

Last year, Andrew passed two out of five.

This year, we’re hopeful for more.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

6,000 words

A good friend of mine sent me this recently. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This one is worth 6,000 minimum, though that probably increases geometrically with each picture.

Monday, April 21, 2008


In the previous post, I wrote about my Uncle Steve. Steve has one son, my cousin, Nathan. Nathan is an Auburn grad and the only other member of our family that played in the Auburn Band.

Nathan is currently in the Peace Corps and living in the town of Zin’kiv in the Ukraine. (See map of the Ukraine above.) There isn’t much on the Internet about the town of Zin’kiv (well, not in English anyway). The city has just over 10,000 people. It was also part of the northern trade route between western Ukraine and Moscow. The only other thing I know is something Nathan told me. Apparently, people in that part of the world find it funny that Americans add anything (e.g. orange juice) to vodka.

If anybody wants to add some facts about Zin’kiv, I would be happy to hear them.

Friday, April 18, 2008


It’s been awhile since I’ve posted and I apologize. I’m going to start with a family picture. My Uncle Steve, who lives in Mobile, owns a float building company and designs floats for Mobile’s Mardi Gras. He has five or six parades that he does each year.

One of the groups he makes floats for had a theme of “red” for their parade this year. He had floats like “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Red Ants at a Picnic”, and “A Red Apple for the Teacher.” My favorite float was one officially titled, “Our Blood Runs Red.” The float was, as you may have guessed from the picture above, about Alabama football. I particularly like the fact that Alabama had to go back six years to find an Iron Bowl score they like. However, what I like most was the other name people gave for the float: Redneck.

The other person besides me in the picture is my Uncle Steve. And, if you look closely at the elephant, you can see an AU sticker on it.

Name Calling: Follow Up

My wife visited the house of the kid from the neighborhood and had a mom-to-mom conversation. The woman was dismayed to hear about what her son was doing. Her son wrote a letter to Andrew to say he was sorry and visited the house to deliver it and tell Andrew in person.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Name Calling

One of the givens of growing up is that some kids are cruel to other kids. As Andrew’s disability makes him different from other children, my wife had I have long been concerned that some kids will make fun of him. Andrew’s main challenge is with speech. He is hard to understand. His sentence structure is mixed. And, because he processes things differently, he has trouble keeping up with a typical conversation. We've always known that his difficulties with speech would make him a target some day.

Unfortunately, that day has arrived. For some time, my wife and I have been working with Andrew to help him deal with two bullies at school. These kids make comments that suggest Andrew probably “acts” like a baby, since he talks like one. (One of the bullies has also made disparaging comments about my wife. This upset Andrew greatly.) Of the two bullies Andrew deals with, one lives in the neighborhood and catches the bus at the same stop that Andrew does. The other bully is in his class.

The kid from the neighborhood makes fun of Andrew on the bus. Andrew tries to ignore him by doing sudoku, one of his favorite hobbies. However, it does nothing to deter the kid. The bully from his class says things about Andrew during the lunch hour, even telling other kids that they shouldn't sit with Andrew. Andrew understands that these kids are making fun of him. His speech issues make it difficult for him to respond. Like any kid would be, Andrew’s feelings are hurt. We have taught Andrew some defensive strategies. We tell him to just say “whatever” and to blow it off. Ignore the bullies as best as you can.

My wife and I have also discussed how to deal with this, other than giving suggestions to Andrew. We sent notes to Andrew’s teacher; she has tried to make changes. The bus driver is supposed to address the situation on the bus, but nothing seems to happen. As much as we want to intervene more, we realize that Andrew needs to learn how to deal with bullies, just like any other kid. Unfortunately, because of his challenges, Andrew will probably face more than his share during his school years.

My wife and I are also asking ourselves a question: Do the parents know what’s going on? The kid from our neighborhood is a puzzle. One morning at the bus stop, my wife witnessed the bus bully's mom ripping another child for saying something mean to her child. If this is her reaction to people saying mean stuff to her kid, she probably would be horrified to learn that her child is guilty of similar actions. We do not know the parents of the bully from Andrew's class, though we hope they would also be upset if they knew what there son was doing.

I told my wife she should pay a visit to the mom of the kid in the neighborhood and have a mom-to-mom conversation. She will do so soon. I wish I knew the parents of the other bully. I could have a talk dad-to-dad. However, there is one further question to be asked. As parents, we are concerned with our children being bullied. Have we ever asked ourselves if our children could be doing the same thing to other kids?

I would love to hear suggestions, if anyone has them. Thanks.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Notes From The Diamond

(Note to my wife: This story has nothing to do with jewelry.)

Complete the following series: 1-run last inning loss, 1-run last inning loss, win,…

If you said 1-run last inning loss, you’ve probably been watching the Atlanta Braves. However, you could have been watching my older son Andrew’s baseball team, also called the Atlanta Braves.

It has been a gut-wrenching season so far. I’ve seen Andrew’s team play ahead and blow it in the final inning. I’ve seen them catch up and then blow it. The only difference from them and the Major League version is that my son’s team’s one win in its first four games wasn’t a blowout. They’ve also had rainouts, just like the Major League team.

Still, Andrew’s team has played hard. As for Andrew, he’s yet to get a hit. He has made contact with the ball and managed to scare the fans of the opposing team with a foul ball. Most impressive has been his batting eye. He’s averaging one walk per game and has managed to score two runs. Only once has he stuck out on anything less than a full count. Most of all, he is having a great time most loves the nickname his coaches and teammates have given him, Mussell Man.

As for Christopher, his teeball team, also called the Braves, is having similar troubles with one win and five losses. The games I’ve seen have been high scoring affairs, which is common for teeball. Christopher has played pitcher’s mound and third base and seems to prefer the mound as it’s the center of attention, his favorite position regardless of the situation. Like his brother, he’s having a blast.

And fun is what it’s all about.

Now if the little league Braves could only pull out a big win in their next game like the Big League team did today against the Mets.