Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The rise of social media, the fall of society...

Social media has done great things. It's connected people who normally wouldn't be connected. It's allowed access to untold volumes of information and ideas. It's allowed old friends to reconnect, and new friends to be made.

And it's given us crazy cat videos. So so many crazy cat videos.

It's also given a voice to the idiots of the world. The ones who really shouldn't be allowed to have an opinion, yet now they can freely, and anonymously, snap judgement in an instant to situations they think they know everything about. Yet know nothing about.

Never before has such a loud example of this occurred than when the timelines of a 17 year old gorilla and a 4 year old boy intersected.

It is a tragedy. I will concede that. A very unfortunate situation that your peoples god willing I'll never find myself in. Or know anyone who will be in such a situation. But it happened and all we know is the outcome of it. A 4 year old survived, and a 17 year old gorilla died.

Here's the part everyone needs to take note of: You and I don't know shit about what happened.

I'll say that again and fragment it so it really sinks in: You and I. DON'T KNOW SHIT!!! About what happened.

A 4 year old someone ended up in the pen with a large gorilla. Again, without knowing shit about what happened, the masses of the anonymous took time out of their busy jerk off sessions in their parents basement to quickly pass judgement onto the parent for losing track of their child and allowing him to wander into this mess and now because of that a gorilla is dead. The comments have been beyond vile and repulsive. It makes me truly sick to think there are people out there who hold a 17 year old captive gorilla's life above that of a 4 year olds. What has happened to our society?

I'll share a story with you. A few months ago Elli and I took the kids to the children's museum. It was a particularly busy day. We were enjoying one of the water works areas and happened across a fun little set up where you turn a handle and a marble is randomly launched into a series of twists and turns. There was something like 4 different routes that marble could take. There really wasn't a crowd over by this because it was off to the side. Elli and I were playing with it along with Aksel. A few minutes go bye and Elli and I are still having a fun time with it when we realized Aksel was no longer there. And he was no where to be seen. For about 2 mins we frantically searched, splitting into 2 directions. We found him happily playing in one of the other sections of the water area. It happens in an instant.

You and I don't know shit about what happened.

Parents are vigilant of their children. Well, most are at least. But it's impossible to be vigilant 100% of the time. Momentary distractions occur. What's the whole point of a zoo exhibit? To make you look. That exhibit exists to hold your attention. That's the purpose of a "display". Otherwise why have it out? Parents get distracted as well. We're all human. It only takes a min or less and those little legs venture off. Most of the time you find your kid the next aisle over in the store. The worst case scenario plays out as this did.

I carry a .357 magnum while walking the woods. I have this to protect myself from large predators. Where I grouse hunt there are 500+ lb black bears roaming around. There's wolf tracks that overtake half of my size 13 hunting boot. Now that my kids are with me on my hunting adventures, I'm not leaving anything to chance. If I come across one of these animals I would love to just let it be. If it acts aggressively at all, I'm drawing that .357 and dropping it without hesitation. I'm exercising my right, and my kids right, to exist over that of an animal.

It is indeed a shame that with this species of gorilla endangered or close to it that one had to die. But that argument is somewhat of a mute point. A 17 year old captive animal is going to do little, if anything, to further the species. Best to focus your efforts of continued lineage elsewhere.

I don't carry that gun I mentioned earlier outside of the woods. However, if for some reason I had it on me, and I found myself in the situation of being at some zoo exhibit and a child, or any person of any age falls into a pen with a large animal, the second that animal touched said person I'd scatter that animals head all over the pen. I hope others would do the same.

You and I don't know shit about what happened. But somehow, someway, a 4 year old fell into a pen with a gorilla that was 6X's it's size. And the 4 year old lived.

To me, that's an acceptable outcome.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Aksel's Story...

So one day Elli and I came to a crossroads. We had 2 healthy kids who were starting to get very independent, we were enjoying some stability now that both of us had been out of school for a while and had solid jobs, and were enjoying smooth sailing.

And HM was well on her way to being out of diapers. So, so very close to that.

But with all that, we decided we'd like to welcome a 3rd child, cause we've never been ones to enjoy down time.


Along with this decision, we also decided we needed to move into a larger house. Even with the current situation we were in at that time, the walls were closing in. And when Dav and HM decide they want to move, they MOVE! It's never a casual pace. So a bigger house was needed. One with separate rooms with everyone so if need be, we could truly "divide and conquer". The whole selling and moving was covered before, and isn't important to todays story.

Let's begin!

We had a plan to nicely space our kids out, and it worked fairly well with Dav and Hannah. We liked the idea of them being close to 3 years apart, or even closer to 2 years apart. Somewhere in that range. So if we could get Elli pregnant around the late summer early fall of 2012, #3 would show up Summer of 2013 or thereabouts. Perfect! And since our timelines worked out as planned with our first 2 children, there was no need to think this would be any different. With a house on the market and looking for new places to live, we also looked to adding another kid. And thanks to sex ed class and the fact family members read this, we will skip those details.

Tick tock…tick tock…

Weeks turned to months, and the months started adding up. Before I get into this part, I want to stress that this is our story only. We are not comparing our struggle with anyone else out there, and we know that there are those who may be reading this who's struggle was much more involved. With what we went thru, which is little compared to others we personally know, we have a greater appreciation for what some people had to go thru multiple times.

A little bit of fear started creeping into the mix around the 6 month mark or so. We kept trying to tell ourselves that "these things take time" and "it will eventually happen". Be patient was the mantra. But it was started to wear on us both, but Elli was starting to take it more personally than I. Hopelessness is too strong of a word, but something along that line was starting to work it's way into her being. 9 months than came and still nothing. We started just casually looking into what other options may be available. By no means were we going to do radical measures, such as IVF or fertility drugs of the like, but we figured maybe we could at least start looking into very broad workups to try and point us into the right direction. With that regard, no one will see you unless you hit the year mark of "solid trying" and have nothing to show for it.

August 2013

One year. One year and nothing but disappointment. We successfully had 2 children with absolutely zero problems. And now, each month was something to dread. Another failure, another week or so of watching Elli completely beat herself up. It was frustrating cause there was nothing I could say. No words of comfort. There would be a little bit of hope, and then we'd find out this wasn't the time either. The hopelessness was starting to grab onto both of us, and in situations like this I think of myself as the rock for us both. I'm supposed to be the tough guy, the emotionless one that provides stability. But one whole year of "solid trying"! But there was a little bit of hope on the horizon. We were officially at the 1 year mark, which meant we could go in and start getting some work up done. And that's just what we did, but not after revisiting the whole issue. We again took stock, and almost had ourselves convinced that we were good with 2 kids. In fact, we DID have ourselves convinced we were good with 2. When asked about more kids, I confided in only a few people that we have 2, and it just doesn't seem to be in the cards for us to have 3. Not our choice, it's just not working out. We were even at the point that Elli packed up all the baby clothes to donate away. We tried for a year, and at this point a little longer, and it wasn't working. It was just too emotionally draining to keep going thru this each month. Something was wrong, but we were incredibly thankful for the 2 amazing children we already had. It's not fair to them to keep draining ourselves and not fully embracing what we already had. So one night, with the clothes all packed away in bins for donation, Elli tearfully asked for help loading them into the van to be taken away and passed onto some stranger. So as I went down the stairs to help, my brain started screaming at me to say what no doubt both of us wanted to say. But I know neither of us wanted to break this wall we very gingerly constructed around the issue. And we both know that had it not been voiced, we would've forever wondered "what if?" So while putting shoes on and getting ready, I quietly, very shakily asked the question I knew would blow everything wide open again:

"Are we sure we want to do this?"

And Elli broke down. And seeing that, and having my own emotions about the whole thing come back up to the surface, I broke down. And we stood there embraced for a good few minutes or so. And right there over the bins of clothes we decided a new concrete plan that would provide answers, and not leave us with the "what if" scenario. We would meet with a fertility specialist. We would have simple basic workups as needed for both, but we would NOT do radical measures to get pregnant.

Here's your cup, and detailed instructions. No cheating!!

So we met the guy. And he very quietly, but thoughtfully and respectfully, laid out options. The first were indeed basic workups for Elli and I. Some blood work, some dye study for her and a plastic cup for me, and a little time processing it all. And guess what? Elli was fine and normal. Turns out I was the problem. Elli would later confess that she was relieved it wasn't her, and I fully understood what she was saying. And honestly, it was a relief for me as well since I know she would've beaten herself up even more.

At this point we are in or around December, and with all the info we have the focus is on me now, and I have an appointment by myself to meet with our guy again. It's truly a relief to have a very focused plan. A solid plan that we are both 100% sold on. And we are going to give it a little more time and let things go as they go. But fate stepped in then, and must've said something like "Alright. I gave you plenty of chances. I gave you 16 months to reconsider and you two morons didn't take it. You want to be outnumbered? You want to do diapers again? You want 1-2 hour sleep intervals for weeks on end? Fine dumbasses. You got it."

An early morning look via Dec 2013…

When Elli and I both have to work, the kids have early morning and are dropped off at daycare. Elli and I drive separately since she works longer hours. So after the kids are dropped off, we go the same route for a good portion of our commute. There's an entrance ramp to the highway that we encounter that has those oh so useful lights for controlling traffic. Elli always likes to line up next to me on that and make faces or get me the smile. It hardly ever works since I hate mornings and going to work in general. And this day is no different as she pulls up. And as always she makes a face, but just as my light turns green I look over and she has a look of shock and wonderment on her face. But, being the good husband I am, and the fact it's 6:20am, I pay it no mind and drive to work and go thru the day as I always do. And the evening activities are the same as they always are: I pick the kids up after work from daycare, we come home and have supper, we entertain for a while, and I put the kids to bed and wait for Elli to come home around 8'ish. Again, this night is no different and I'm doing some dishes when she gets home. She acts no differently and peeks in on the kids. When she comes back out she asks me what I'm doing in September of 2014. I'm confused as we both had signed up for a half ironman triathlon that month, and reply as such. She then says she's not doing that anymore and I ask why? She says because she'll be giving birth instead.

Daven, Aksel, Elli, and Hannah May.

Happy New Year All!! We are incredibly thankful for what 2014 brought us, and we look forward to the new challenges and experiences 2015 brings us!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A promise to baby #3...

So we have a big day approaching. You are due to arrive officially on Sept. 11th, however Mama went early with both your older siblings so really any day you could show up.

For both your brother and sister I wrote one of my "Open Letters" to them. I wanted to try something a little different with you, but it really is going to end up being the same thing with just a different title.

It's the little things that stand out. Remember that.

Anyhow, being #3 is something neither your Mom or I can truly understand as we were both the oldest in our families. However it does seem that the youngest sometimes can, for lack of a better description, get lost in the shuffle. So with this writing, I'm making you a promise. And that promise is that you will not be "just the 3rd" one. All kids are special. Your brother Daven is special, your sister Hannah is special, and you will be special in your own way as well. Your life will not be all about hand me downs, although that duck hunting jacket I just bought your brother will be handed down to you. I mean seriously, let's be reasonable. Cabelas makes expensive stuff. So from an economic standpoint, yes, you will get hand me down clothes, hand me down hunting stuff, hand me down skiing stuff, and hand me down toys.

But don't worry. Stuff wears out over time and we may need to get you new stuff of the above out of necessity. Jackets develop holes, waders leak, ski stuff breaks, and toys get lost.

But with all the hand me downs I promise you will get new stuff as well. We won't do hand me down style parenting. As you grow, we will grow with you. We will adapt our parenting to your needs. What worked for your brother and sister will be our base, but if we need to change our approach, we will. You will experience new things right along with us, and we will marvel at that just as much as we did before, if not more. Because you are our new beginning. You're going to start a new chapter in our life, and we are positively most definitely absolutely ready to read that chapter. We will keep you grounded with rules and boundaries, however not smother you from developing into you.

You're the 3rd child entering the Taylor household, but you will be recognized as your own person. And if you truly need something to stand out with right off the bat, you will also be the last Taylor child brought into this household. Use that one when your sister or brother are bugging you, something like "well you two weren't working so they had me!" But you didn't hear that from me ;)

Show up whenever. Your Mom wants to sleep on her stomach again.


Your Dad

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mmmm, that's some good EPO...

I've wanted to write about this subject for a while now, however I wanted all the heat to die down before I did. Hopefully that way, someone with a different opinion on the matter would read my take and look at it subjectively rather than just dismissing it in a huff. The topic today will be doping and cycling and my view on the matter as a cat 6 racer.

Was Lance Armstrong the greatest cyclist ever? No. Was Lance Armstrong the greatest Tour de France cyclist ever? As of now yes. He admitted himself that he's not the greatest cyclists as he didn't ride all the classics and major tours. He concentrated solely on Le Tour, and trained exclusively for that discipline. That alone disqualifies him from the "greatest cyclist ever" award as one would have to tackle multiple disciplines to attain that title.

Did Lance Armstrong cheat? By the definition and rules of the governing body, yes he did. In my mind and probably many other minds, although he technically cheated he merely did what was needed to "level the field". As the doping crack down in a horribly broken sport continues, we are finding more and more that this type of activity (doping, performance enhancement, cheating, etc…) was and more than likely still is rampant. Over the past decade there is virtually no one in the general classification of cycling who hasn't had some sort of run in with doping accusations or associations.

Every. Single. One. There seriously is not one big name out there that hasn't been accused or linked somehow.

And more than likely, every single one of them has doped to some degree. You simply needed to if you wanted to survive in the sport.

Some people are going to look at all of this and say it's not fair to the ones that chose not to partake in the dark arts. I've heard people say that the dopers took the spot of someone up and coming who chose not to "cheat" and therefore they were blown away by the enhanced cyclists. I'll concede with you slightly on this one, but mainly this affects only the "domestiques". For those unfamiliar with the cycling terminology, domestiques are the helpers of the main riders. If you've watched bike races on TV, these are the guys and gals that drop back to the support car and load themselves up with water bottles and food and what not to bring back up to the rest of the team. They simply have the worst job in professional cycling, but an essential one nonetheless. If you have 2 cyclist of somewhat even ability and one pops a few pills and the other doesn't, and the pill popper gets a job and the other doesn't, then yes, I agree that's not fair.

But in the case of elite athletes, what does doping do exactly for them? I think a lot of the haters out there are crying foul because they give performance enhancers way too much credit. All the do is enhance what you already have. In other words, Barry Bonds would've been a fantastic contact hitter without the juice. All it did was make him stronger so that he went from hitting doubles and using incredible speed to get all the way around the bases to simply hitting them out of the park. His batting AVG. for the most part stayed the same for his ability. It's the same with Armstrong. Yes he juiced up some, but he was still partaking in 7-8 hour training rides in the off season. He was still sticking to a rigorous diet. He was still riding his bike in rain, wind, snow, hail, and whatever the elements were throwing at him that day. Lance Armstrong still put in the time and effort. The problem was everyone else was too, and to maintain his level he needed to keep doing the one thing he did in life at that time, he chose to pop a pill or inject a solution. Fact is and was, so was everyone else at that level. An old baseball saying is "if you ain't cheating you ain't trying".

Professional cycling is broken, and has been for a long long time. The old days of the TdF are riddled with stories of cyclist carrying vials of amphetamines and using other uppers to get through the grueling schedule. Tom Simpson was an English rider who infamously fell over dead on his bike while climbing Mount Ventoux. Vials of drugs were later found in his pocket and back in his suitcase at the teams hotel. It is a dark spot of the history of the sport, and will continue for a long time.

It's a tough subject, and like all of these issues of ethics there isn't a right answer either way. These guys and gals broke the written rule, but if you or I were in there position would we do it any different? Some people will say "absolutely not. No way would I risk my health for that." I've said the same thing, however again, we have no way of knowing cause we're not in there shoes. They made a choice, and they made a choice because they believed it was the only way to stay around. I can't say I blame these guys and gals in the sport for doing it. And also, a topic for a different day but the borders separating a supplement and dope are getting pretty damn hazy these days.

Whether or not these athletes are clean or not, it is still amazing to me what they can pull of on a bike. To race for an entire month straight at an average speed of 25mph for over a hundred miles a day is unreal. To climb 4 miles at an average grade of 7-8% while maintaining 100rpms or higher demonstrates just how phenomenal these guys are. I don't watch or follow cycling to see who wins or loses. I watch for the show. The lung busting climbs and heart stopping sprints. Dope doesn't factor into it one bit for me because as far as I'm concerned the field is even.

Lance Armstrong cheated. But in a world of cheaters he still stood out.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Urban Warfare...

Well over a year ago now, Elli and I thought we should move. We were hemming and hawing over this decision for a while, looking at other options, running some numbers, but not really committing. Then while reading to Daven and Hannah one night, a chunk of plaster fell from the ceiling and hit me on the head.

Time to move.

But that falling plaster also pointed out that there was many many things that we needed to update and patch up with that old house to get it marketable and sell for an absurd amount of money. This involved endless hours of painting, scraping, fixing, correcting, polishing, scrubbing, rotating, and renting a storage garage to declutter, and then renting another one because you filled up the first one.

And endless mowing of the lawn.

Thankfully mother nature took over and blessed us with a drought thus stunting the growth of the grass. Here's what it looked like once it did it's scorching goodness:

But you'll notice that there's a shady spot of the lawn. That damn large tree blocked most of the sun all day. As such, that spot did still need to be mowed occasionally.

So, on one of those short outings to buzz down the lawn, I was right around the trunk of the large tree pictured above when I noticed a yellow jacket buzzing around. I flailed at it as per my usual knee jerk response when it comes to one of these cursed creatures and quickly moved along. I was then coming back on approach to roughly the same area when I noticed yet another f'ing yellow jacket buzzing around. But this time it had a friend...and another one. I noticed they were keeping low to the ground so I didn't think anything of it other than once again pass by quickly. On the 3rd approach I noticed what I was slowly suspecting over the last lap. There was a steady stream of yellow jackets going down to the ground and coming back up. But not just buzzing around the ground and then flying away, they were going into a hole in the ground and another one would come flying back out.

 I had a underground yellow jacket nest.


At first I wanted to ignore it. "Maybe it's not really a hive. Maybe it was just a fluke thing and one or two or 17 of them were cruising on by and happened upon the hole and wanted to check things out but then decided this wasn't for them and moved on." At about the time I was staring out the big window you see in the pic above, probably pale and sweating profusely, Elli asked what I was doing.

"I think we have a yellow jacket nest in the ground." I said.

"How do we get rid of that?" she asked.

"Let's leave them alone and ignore the problem." I answered.

As usual she was the rationale one with things like this and said it would look bad to prospective buyers if while they were checking out the side yard they were swarmed by yellow jackets. Probably not conducive to selling.

But I had never tackled an underground nest before. My only experience with combating bees were nests up in trees or under roof awnings and with those you can blast the little bastards with a can of raid safely from 45 feet away. This was going to require a much closer hand to hand method. 

So, since the Internet knows some things other than weird sexual positions, I started researching DIY methods of ridding the planet of some yellow jackets. Some suggestions included setting up a shop vac next to the entrance and letting the bees get sucked into the canister with some insecticide solution waiting for them. Problem with this is that it takes a long time and after you think you're done hopefully all those damn things are dead when you pop the top of the canister off. Otherwise you have a pissed off stinging problem to deal with. Another solution was smoking them out and then burying the entrance. Problem with this one is that it was tough to tell if they all were left and if the queen was still around the little shits can dig their way back out and you'd be back to square one.

One of the most intriguing ideas I came across was the "Redneck Napalm attack", in which you pour a shit ton of gasoline down the hole, light it, and run away while the whole thing ignites and shoots flames out of the hole in spectacular glory. Obviously this idea was concocted by a group of people who were both related and married to one another and have a combined IQ of a water pitcher. However, I must admit I thought about this one long and hard, and it was repeated by several people. But the flaw in this one was that the fire it causes was so quick and sudden that although most of the yellow jackets would die fiery deaths (which gave me pause to smile) some of them would survive the blast and recolonize an again, you'd be at square one.

But then I came across an "avid hemp user" who claimed to be an expert in the massacring of yellow jackets with something like 40+ hives destroyed without a single sting. I settled on this one because it seemed the most logical and also something I'd be willing to do. So, armed with this Sensei of Cannabis' advice, I set out to the hardware store to acquire the only thing I needed that I didn't have on hand:

For sissies who want to kill shit from far far away.

The other items I would need would be a bucket full of sand, a little bit of gasoline or motor oil, a tamper, and some courage. I also made a case for the following:

Something tells me any or all of these would've attracted unwanted attention, so they were begrudgingly scrubbed from the plan.

Under the cover of darkness, I launched my assault. First step of the plan was to take out the scout. This was a yellow jacket that stayed at the entrance of the hole during the night time hours and would alert the rest of the clan if danger arose. I was assured by my pot smoking guru that even though the scout would be awake he would be exceedingly sluggish and easy to take out. This is where the bottle of raid came in. I was to sneak up, douse the scout with raid and continue spraying into the hole for a few additional seconds to eliminate any other bees slightly farther down. After all, accordingly to this guy sometimes there are multiple scouts and any one of them could sound the alarm. So, very nervously and carefully, while wearing all black and armed with a green light (which would allow me to maintain my night vision should I have to dash away in a panic), I approached the entrance to hell itself, i.e. the hole in the ground. Circling it very carefully I did not see any scout. All was quite. I even waiting a heartbeat or two before proceeding. But right when I was about to pull the trigger I wimped out and ran back to the garage. "This is stupid. It's me we're talking about so something is going to go wrong with this plane and I'm going to be stung to hell and back and not be any better off." But the guy gene got the best of me, and I couldn't go cowering back into the house with business undone. 

So I marched back out with the intent of getting things done.

Once again I ninja stalked up to the hole, saw no scout, and positioned myself so that the stream would go down the straightest path. Pulling the safety on the can of bee killer I pressed the button and released it's toxic components. Pot guy said to spray for around 15 seconds. I emptied the hole damn can.

But that's just the start. That takes out only the first line of defense. That does nothing to the collective hive writhing about under foot. To get those shitheads, pot guy suggested pouring gas or motor oil down the hole. Once you get some of that down there you seal it off with a pile of dirt thus locking in all the choking fumes and killing off all living things down the hole. And yes you hippies I realize this is damaging to the environment but that's something I'm ok with doing in this situation. If I had to choose eliminating a hive of bees at the cost of 15 puppies there would be less Sparkies running around that year. 

So, with the can of toxic bee sauce down the way I ran back to where my small gas can was. I then sprinted back to the hole fully expecting a swarm of raid-resistant yellow jackets waiting for me. Thankfully there was none and I poured a healthy dose down the way. Next I sprinted back to where I had a play bucket full of sand waiting. Running back with that in one hand and my tamper in the next, I unloaded the sand and swatted it down a few times to pack it all in tight. However, I added my own stamp to the process and sprinkled a bunch of carpenter ant killer all over the dirt. I read on multiple postings these guys are great diggers, so I figured any that survived the gas deluge and tried to crawl out would choke on the ant killer. I then ran back into the safety of the garage and waited 15 minutes. Then, again ninja stealth like, went back out with the light to see if anything was making it's way out.

Nothing. Perhaps I won this fight after all.

The next day I checked the area multiple times from the safety of the window and even ventured out from time to time to make sure nothing was making it's way out. And at around noon I declared victory. Sadly no one in my house acknowledged this decisive win.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Where are you going, my little one...

Dav was born in March of 2008.

                                                 (Dav in Dec. of 2009)

That will make him 5 1/2 years old in just a little over a week.

                                                (Dav in August of 2013)

Our little baby is turning into a boy. He no longer needs help with much, and he is proving to be more and more intelligent each day. He challenges you with appropriate questions to the situation at hand, and demonstrates rather impressive problem solving skills. For instance, we were building up a new Lego set yesterday and there was a part which required two builds of basically the same piece but made into mirror images of the other. Rather than line up the pieces with the picture, Daven took the piece to be built, held it next the other one and made it up opposite of the one already built. I was impressed by this as it struck me how far he has come in his short time around. 

Which now leads us to the big milestone that many parents dread: On September 3rd of this year, Daven starts Kindergarten. We've seen it coming for a while now, and when most people ask how Elli and I are doing with that fact I always deflect the question in that Elli is having a hard time with it.

But I'm confessing to you all now: I'm excited for him; yet terrified as well.

Like most parents I struggle with letting your child go into the world. Elli and I know he's ready. He's been done with naps since a little after 3 years old, he routinely helps out in the classroom at daycare, he's starting to understand basic reading, and has a memory of a computer. As eluded to before, he understands situations and can problem solve and understand the "why" behind things. And if he doesn't, he's not going to move forward until he does. He's very literal that way. He's routinely been scored high on assessments and teachers starting a year ago said that he just outright is bored where he is now in his curriculum.

I'm not bragging about my child. That's all leads into the following: Dav is a little different than most kids his age. He loves running with the pack, and will happily follow along with others. With both good and bad behavior. But he's also very content doing his own thing, and sometimes thinks differently than other kids around him. This of course leads us parents to worry about bullying issues. Of course Elli pointed out that he probably wouldn't even realize he's getting picked on. But it leads me to want to be there with him in class, to hold his hand while we walk to the lunchroom, help him punch in his lunch code, watch him on the playground during recess, and remind him which paper to bring home from school. Obviously I can't do that, and it's proving very hard to not baby him as much these days. He'll get very upset if you help him without him asking (a trait he shares with me) and will get offended if you pester him with baby like attitudes. 

 (How do I give my son the world without robbing him of the experience?)

I see myself as his map of sorts, in that I can show him the way if he wants but I'm not going to necessarily bring him there. I can show him many paths, however he has to choose the one he wants. I feel this is the role of a parent. Elli and I have done what we can to get him to this point. It's now time to see what he can do with a little bit of freedom. We know he can succeed, and he's proven that he's ready. But I'm sure all parents worry that their child will take the wrong path. While I believe there is truth in the philosophy that you are a product of your upbringing, I also whole heartily believe that you are ultimately responsible for how you turn out. You and you alone make the choices. 

It's now time for Daven to start making some of his own choices. Elli and I will just have to watch and try to be the best maps we can.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ode to softball

This season marks the 28th year I've played ball. Perhaps that's why my left shoulder hurts. My left elbow also gives me trouble.

So does my back. And my right wrist.

And both knees.

28 years ago did I think I would be a full time softball player? No way. I was 4 years old running across the grass to the infield where my other red shirt clad teammates were playing catch. Like the rest, I'm sure I loved batting more than fielding. Something must've clicked though, because from that summer day so very long ago and every summer yet I've been apart of a ball team. After tball came coach pitch little league (where my Dad helped coach and pitch, and yes he did bean me. A few times), after that came kids pitch, babe ruth, legion ball, and then highschool ball. As I grew up in baseball however I realized early on that I wasn't going to be donning Yankee pinstripes. Politics started early in the sport, and if Daddy didn't know that Daddy or your family didn't live here or there, you weren't drafted into the upper leagues. And if you weren't there, you didn't get noticed. I actually remember at one of the tryouts I was throwing from the mound and looked over to see that not a single one of the coaches was watching. They were mingling around with each other and what not. So I fired the ball over in their direction, it banged off one of the fold up chairs, everyone whirled around and other players in line had mouths agape, and I walked off. It was kind of like that scene from the hunger games.

I was bitter about it then. I'm not anymore.

But then high school ball came around and it was the same story. But I loved playing. I actually love everything about ball. I love the smell of glove oil while you're breaking in a new mitt. I love taping up the end of my bats grip and getting the taper just right. I love the feel of diamond dust crunching under my cleats. I love the look of a field right after it's dragged and the lines are freshly painted. I love all the rituals I religiously adhere to, like never ever touching the foul lines while running onto the field and off it or drawing an "X" in the dirt and then hitting the center of it when I'm on deck. I love how it feels when you crush the ball just right in the sweet zone of the bat and the ball launches out over the fence (you actually don't even feel the hit when this happens).

But I wasn't so naive to think that baseball was really going to take me much farther than high school. It was about this time (at 15 years old) I was asked to help out by playing on my uncles softball team.

And instantly discovered a new love. And haven't looked back.

Is slowpitch softball a sport? Yes. Is it an incredibly athletic endeavor for the elites? No. Does it take a lot of skill to play well? Yes. Can anyone play it? Yes. Can anyone play it well? No. Like all things, it does take practice to get good at. I do commit quite a few swings before the season starts and I do, when no ones looking, practice my foot work drills whenever I think about it. I visualize scenarios and what I'd do in them, I do one arm hitting drills, and yes, I enjoy watching youtube videos of majors level softball.

In short, I'm obsessed with the sport. Just ask my wife.

I've toned down my temper with softball the last handful of years. No longer do I throw my glove violently, or spike the bat into the ground when I pop the ball up. I don't kick fences as often, and I haven't whipped my bat bag into the grass after a loss in a while. I still get frustrated with myself and still don't take losses well. But I've matured and also want to set a good example with my kids watching. It is only a game, and I play on competitive yet laid back fun teams. But there is still pride involved, and when I don't do what I'm supposed to I do get upset. I've just learned to express it a little better.

As bragging rights, the only time I haven't played a game is if I'm out of town. The only time I've missed because of injury is 2 seasons ago when I dislocated my left knee cap. And even then, I came back for the last 5 weeks of the fall campaign. I've played the last 8 seasons with a torn up left shoulder, I have tendinitis in both my throwing elbow and right wrist. I've played with bone bruises, dislocated fingers, sore muscles, nasty colds, run down exhaustion, etc. etc...

I remember back in the day when my old man was in the twilight of his own slowpitch career. He said the reason he stopped playing is because it took him 45 minutes to get his pants on with all the tape and braces he had to put on first. I understand, however I think I'll play until the point, if ever, I just truly can't.

But for now I'm not thinking about that. For now, I'm just focused on when my next game is, obsessively checking the weather reports for that day, and trying to figure out why my swing isn't working like it should.

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