Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Latest Gadget

“Put that away before Daddy steps on it.”

My wife has uttered the above words more than I can remember. The kids are always leaving things on the floor. She has warned them repeatedly that I can’t see past my kneecaps. My older son has learned. (The wisdom that comes with age.) My younger son not so much.

However, the floor is not the only place. My younger son still leaves stuff on tables and chairs where it can get knocked off, covered, spilled on. Anything goes.

And just today, my wife was saying, “Guess what I found on the table while you were out. I can’t believe you just got that and you didn’t put it back in its protective case.”

Only this time she was talking to me. And the item I left out? My new glasses.

After 40+ years of being able to read fine print directly in front of me of from across a room, I finally reached the point where I started having to hold stuff at arm’s length. I knew it was coming. My parents both had fantastic vision (or so they told me) until a certain age. When I crossed that threshold, I knew it was only a matter of time. I lasted a couple of years longer than they did, but I couldn’t put it off forever.

So, I went to see my local eye doctor, and I got what he called a mild prescription. They’re just for reading. And when I put them on, I don’t need to enlarge the text on my Nook.

So, while reading one night, I put them down on the end table, and I left them open in the case.

It took my wife less than half a Sunday morning to notice I’d left them out. She let me know immediately.

Her only comment? “We did buy the indestructible pair for a reason.”

The comments about me being just like the other boys in the house came later. They always do.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Baseball practice has officially started in this house. My teenage son has been selected to the Pony League Tigers. My nine-year old son has been selected to the Minor League Reds. It will be a big adjustment for my younger son, who for the first time is playing in a league with kids a year older than he is.

They’ve been practicing for a while since the weather warmed up and even a little bit before. My younger son loves pitching and playing third base. He wanted to practice pitching so bad that I took him to field in 30-degree weather with off-an-on rain. We got about 40 pitches done before I couldn’t take the cold anymore. He’s looking forward to getting back on the mound.

However, practicing third base takes a different strategy.

For balls hit to third base at this age, getting someone out at first is a challenge. However, there’s something equally important: stopping kids at third base from running home. To work on this, we created a game. My son calls it RBI. (For those of you not into baseball, *RBI is an acronym that means "Runs Batted In." If you're the batter and your time at bat results in someone on your team scoring, the you are credited with an RBI.) We stand on the driveway about 60-70 feet apart. My older son stands next to my younger son. I throw the ball hard on the ground, mimicking a sharp grounder. My older son runs as fast as he can towards me. My younger son fields the ball and throws it to me so I can tag my older son.

It’s not an easy game. When trying to field, my Chipper Jones wannabe often misses the grounder or drops it when trying to transfer it from it from his glove to his hand. If my older son isn’t running and just counts out loud, then my younger son fields the ball easily and gets it to me. So there is something about having to throw his brother out and that really makes my nine-year old nervous.

Oddly, though, the game affects my older son, too. My older son isn’t the fastest of runners. (A problem of genetics. His dad is slow, too.) But, when he tries to beat out his younger brother’s throws, he finds a new gear that at least lets him shift into medium.

I’ve stressed to him that he needs to run like this on the field. He needs to run like he’s trying to beat out his brother. He needs to run like it matters to him.

I don’t know yet how successful I will be.

But if I can improve the game of both of them at the same time, I can at least be a successful Dad.

*For the purists among you, if you hit into a double play or reach base due to an error, then you do not get credit for an RBI.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Creaking You Never Planned For

“Is that our new exercise machine making that noise?” my wife asked, her voice carrying from the den to the loft.
“No, Honey,” I replied, “just my knees.”

Yes, we have a new exercise machine. There are a lot on them on the market and you can’t flip channels without seeing the latest “Ab-something-or-other” that promises to give you cut abs or eliminate your gut. These are the small items.

On the other end of the scale there are big items like treadmills. When I go to a gym, I often work on treadmills. When I see people with treadmills in their home, I get jealous. I’ve long wanted one. I just always thought it would be too big for the house.

But that’s a cop out. The truth is I know I wouldn’t make enough of a habit of it.

Prior to this purchase, the only thing I’d ever bought for exercise was a Pilates DVD. I got into the habit for awhile, even buying an advanced Pilates DVD. My wife got me a mat to work out on. And I did Pilates for several months, but I fell out of the habit. So if I bought some kind of machine, I’d probably use it for a few months and then it would become a large dust magnet.

Leave it to my one of my kids to push me into exercising.

While watching QVC one night, I saw a reasonably priced elliptical machine. I wanted it but couldn’t make a decision. And then my nine-year old football/baseball playing younger son decided to spend his birthday money on it.

As a Dad, I couldn’t let that happen. I told him I’d split the cost with him. We could get in shape together. He loved the idea.

A few days later, the elliptical doohickey arrived. I assembled it and he jumped on it immediately, burning off 500 calories with a smile. I stepped onto it and had trouble keeping my balance. My wife feared I would fall off.

That was three weeks ago.

My younger son has been on it a couple of times. My wife and I are already telling him that he needs to use it more since he bought it. I’ve averaging about three times a week, but I’m out of shape. I am getting better at my keeping my balance.

My older son, who wasn’t involved in the purchase, uses it every day. I’m glad someone’s getting use out of it.

But the best thing though is that we found a new use for the Pilates mat. We put the new machine on top of it.

How about you? Do you buy things and then worry about ever actually using them?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Growing Up

One of my favorite parts of my church service is a part referred to as the “Sign of Peace.” When the time comes, we turn to our fellow parishioners, shake their hands, and say “Peace be with you.” The first person I look at with this happens is my wife. I always give her a kiss. Then, I hug both my sons, kiss them on the top of their heads, and say “Peace Be With You.”

Lately, my older son has taken issue with this. During church last Sunday, this scene was greeted with a “Dad, I’m getting too old for this.”

It’s not the first time he’s said this. (And, as he’s getting taller, kissing him on the top of the head isn’t as easy as it used to be.) It started one morning when I took him to school. I often work from home and sometimes I get the pleasure of taking my kids to school. When I took both of them to elementary school, I could tell them I love them and get a small hug. Granted, it wasn’t a big hug as they were in the back seat and I was in the front. Still, I loved sending them off every morning with a hug.

But now, my older son is in middle school.

He started there a year ago and is now in seventh grade. He’s involved with the school’s jazz band and honors band, which practices before school starts. When I drop him off, I always make sure he gets in the building before I leave. Eventually, he got old enough to ride in front. The good thing about this was that I could give him a bigger hug. Until recently.

I knew it had to come to end soon. He’s a teenager. I’m supposed to be an idiot in his eyes for at least the next seven or eight years. I’ll miss the hug.

All is not lost. I do have a nine-year old. He still lets me do things like tuck him in.

But the days are waning fast.