Thursday, March 19, 2009

Car Wrestling

We had a major car wrestling incident today. No, the beloved (not) minivan was not harmed. The three boys riding in it did however get completely tangled up, climbing over seats, pulling shirts and shoving each other around.

What could cause this melee?

Rude comments?
Seat scuffle?
Radio war?
Windows up or down?
Food sharing?


It was the Sports Illustrated in my hand with March Madness on the cover.

I am never going to understand these boys.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Getting Excited About Reading

All kids are different, mine are no exception. They have each taken different paths to becoming readers. One took the fast route, one took a normal well-traveled route, and my youngest . . . well he's still on the path.

But I think I have discovered a way to get him more excited about reading. If I give him the chance to act in a video and post it on YouTube after he finishes each book, he might start reading more.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

How to Avoid Morning Chaos

Getting three boys ready for Little League games at the field by 8:00 am Saturday morning is a logistical feat. It sometimes involves yelling by one or more parent, frantic searching for cups by one or more kid, tearing apart the laundry room by more than one person, searching for the glove in the garage, and milk left out on the kitchen table.

This morning, for Opening Day, I didn't want to start the day off that way. We tried something new and managed to avoid some of the morning chaos.

First rule: label everything. Yes, this includes cups. This avoids fighting over who's items are who's. This is useful even if you have only one baseball player in your house because they will leave hats, bags, gloves, and yes, even cups, in the strangest places. I wish there was a way to label socks, I haven't figured out how to do that yet. If you are going to label, don't mess around, use a Sharpie and write big.

Next rule: have your player gather every item they need for the morning and lay it out the night before. This way there is time to search for the hat, find the cup under the seat in the car, and transfer items from the washer to the dryer (Christine). The first couple times your child goes through this process it might take 30 minutes for them to gather everything. Plan for it and make them do it themselves.

Last night my kids went through this process and the result was an interesting sort of Rorschach inkblot test of their personalities. If I was a developmental psychologist I would be able to read the results. I invite readers to analyze for themselves. Post your analysis in the comments below.

In a pile, organized but not overly concerned.

Is this UNorganized or what?

Is this organized or what?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Unbelievable Quote of the Day

"I love long division. It is so fun."

— My eight year old third grader, this morning before school.

Same kid who started third grade struggling with memorizing his addition facts.

I bow down to the goddess who is his teacher. We need more smart and dedicated teachers like her in the world.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Draft, Part Two, Fricking Prescient*

Prerequisite reading: The Draft, Part I, How It Works

OK we know the purpose of the Little League draft is to make the teams as even as possible.

So now it is time to expose what really happens at the draft. The scandals. The back room deals. The temper tantrums.

I had such high expectations of drama and intrigue. But I was disappointed. It was more like a civil poker game. Just not as exciting as I hoped.

Set in a characterless Round Table in a neighborhood strip mall, the twelve men gathered to build their teams. Bearing clipboards, spreadsheets, or hand-scrawled chicken scratch, they did their homework and were ready for the test. Make no mistake, there was a lot of preparation done before this fateful night. Some coaches have been discussing and playing out scenarios in their heads for this draft for almost a year.

There is debate, there’s some voting, some drinking of beer (not too much, they need sharp wits). There is some bluffing, a bit of arguing, posturing, and chest beating. But it is surprisingly civil. So far.

The draft begins and the first round goes as everyone expects. The coaches throw out some rhetorical questions to each other about strategy, but no one discloses. "Are you going for speed?" "Why are you taking this pitcher over that one?" Coaches start to second-guess themselves over the second round, but I think this is just an act. Nerves are high.

The third round goes smoothly. Then someone picks a kid with an injury issue. This throws everyone into a tizzy, consulting notes and asking themselves, "Is his arm OK?" There is general discussion about the injury. The coach who picked him knows he is taking a chance on a kid who may or may not be able to play. Somehow this seems to lift some of the pressure everyone is feeling and there is a sense of teasing and complimenting. There is a positive vibe about all the kids picked so far.

The next round requires more strategy. There is one coach who absolutely cannot sit still. He jumps up, sits down, paces.

There is an iPhone registering texts. Ding!

Coaches are whispering to each other in an otherwise silent room.

I hear two phrases worthy of quoting here:
“If that team beats me I’ll quit.”
And my favorite, “I’m looking fricking prescient.*”

Dramatic groan.

As they move into the final two rounds, coaches take longer to decide their picks. There is more second guessing, and changing of minds.

As the draft ends, one coach runs out of the room celebrating his last round draft choice, shouting “I love that kid!”**

And then it was over, just like that. Not one fight.

One thing that became clear to me is that each coach values different things. One likes a team built with kids who have a larger physical size. One likes players who have proven good past performance. One likes older players over younger. Past experience in the division level seems to matter: have they played at this level or did they just move up? Effort the player shows is important. Most coaches consider the player’s family style and how much they are involved and volunteer. And I hate to say it but yes, the MILF*** factor for potential team moms was also mentioned. It was quiet but I heard it.

Far from being the contentious process I was expecting, it was actually a fairly good-natured display by people who really care about baseball and the kids in the League.

Like baseball, the draft is a game. I think every coach that night thought they won. Now the games start, and we will see who had the most successful strategy.

I’m not sure which coach thought he got the MILF team mom, but I intended to find out.

*Since my husband asked me what prescient means, I guess I have to put a definition here.
prescient: adjective, having or showing knowledge of events before they take place : a prescient warning.
** I have since been informed that this comment was completely sarcastic. Apparently I missed some of the subtleties and sarcasm, but I don't think it impaired my general impression of the draft.
*** This is for my friend who was not sure of the meaning of MILF: a reference to Wikipedia's definition

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What Went On?

My third grader after school today. I'm not sure I got a satisfactory answer about why there is paint in-between his toes. Not a good day to run out of Spray & Wash.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ano Nuevo in the Rain

There is no bad weather, only bad gear.

OK, we had bad gear.

But we looked fashionable.

It was much too stormy to bring my good camera. I brought my son's little CoolPix and managed to get a few good pictures.